|Chapter Title||FLAMINGO, THE COURT FEATHERMERCHANT-THE DUKE-PINE-APPLE -BIRTH OF PRINCE OF WALES. (Continued from o|
|Newspaper Title||The Courier (Hobart, Tas. : 1840 - 1859)|
|Trove Title||The Story of a Feather|
THE STOllY OF A FEATHER,
ÄJ? JBauglatf Retrain.
FLAMINGO, THE COURT FEATHER
MERCHANT-THE DUKE-PINE-APPLE -BIRTH OF PRINCE OF WALES.
(Continued from our lost)
MY next remove was far westward. I became the property of feather-merchant to the court ; or, as the tradesman himself delighted to blazon in gold letters over his shop-door, " Plu tnassicr lo their Majesties." I confess I felt myself somewhat humiliated by the ili-rcport of Mr. Flamingo, who, in his deal, ing with Miriam Jacobs-on this occasion ambassadress from her sire in the Minories-protested that I was the inferior article of the whole lot ; and that no pains of cleaning and dressing would ever enable me to return sixpence to my pur- chaser. This melancholy feeling, however, gave place to better hopes, when, on the departure of the Jewess-Miriam had been compelled by the hard chaffering of the feather-merchanl to throw a green monkey into the bargain, for the especial delec- tation of the youngest Miss Flamingo-my new master selected me from my companions, and, shaking mc tenderly, asked the wife of his bosom, "if I wasn't a perfect beauty?" This pleasing flattery was, moreover, adequately responded to by Mrs. Flamingo, who, with glistening eyes, declared me "quite
I have already said, Mr. Flamingo was feather-seller to the court of Great "Britain. He felt, intensely felt, the surpass- ing importance of his position. His very soul seemed plumed with the dignity. Hence, like my parent ostrich, he would, when full of the consciousness of bis greatness, scarcely tread the shop-floor, but, raised upon the wings, or winglets, of his self-conceit, half-fly, half-walk. It was the religion of Peter Flamingo, that the »hole moral and social condition of m.in depended solely upon feathers'. Nay, 1 believe it to have been his inner-creed that plumes were not so much designed for kin^s and nobles, as that potentates and peers were especially sent into this world for plumes. I sjy, inner-creed ; because my experience of mankind has convinced mc that there are some people who have an outside faith-covering a faith in the same way that jugglers have a box within a box, the last in its small sanctuary generally containing the conjured shilling. When Peter Flamingo read or heard of the possible perfectibility of man, I am certain that man appeared to him like a Poland cock, with o natural crest of feathers. With this faith, ft was consequent that Mr. Flamingo should pay profoundest reverence to those privileged to wear the artificial glory, such reverence being at the prime cost of those to whom fate had rigorously denied that proud advantage. Hence, the reader can imagine the separate places of the Marchioness of Mannaville, born to the right of a plumed coronet, and of Patty Butler, also born to the duty of dressing feathers-can conceive their separate conditions in the mind of Mr. Flamingo. The Marchioness was a creature apart-a glory to be numbered with the stars of heaven ; the feather-dresser, a mere weed of earth, millions of miles a«ay from that starry presence. Therefore, like a good penny turning Chaldean, Flamingo thought, to properly worship the star, he miut tread upon the weed.
Mr. Flamingo, in the observance of this faith, did at times forget the mere naked meaning of words, substituting another set of syllables for the only set rightly called for by the occa- sion. In home-spun phrase, Flamingo was a liar ; but then his lies, if I must call them so, were used to the very best advantage. He dressed himself in falsehood, but then he looked all the better for it. He made positive gold-leaf of his untruths, which casta lustre on him, covered, as he would still be covered, with borrowed radiance. Being feathcrseller to the Court, he was, of course, intimate with the «hole peerage. Ile would, at a moment, cast you up the number of dimples to be found in the cheeks and chins of Countesses-would minutely describe to j ou the hangings and furniture of every best bedroom of every nobleman's mansion in the kingdom, he, in the course of his glorifying profession, having been an honoured guest thereat With him true friendship was a flower that was only to be plucked from the gardens of the nobility ; and this flouer > Flamingo was for ever twisting between his tips, or sporting in
his button-hole. *' My friend, the Marquis,"_<? My most .scellent friend, the Duke,"-" My worthy acquaintance, the ' Baronet 1" 'lhus continually spoke Flamingo; and so speak-
ing he thought he let fall diamonds and rubies from his tongue
for the world to wonder at.
A man with so many, and with such friends, had of course frequent evidences that friendship was not what tho poetic cynic calls it, only "a name." By no means; to Flamingo, it was sometimes a turbot-sometimes a turkey. His friend the Marquis would now and then appear upon the feather dresser's table in the not less attractive though twin shape of a brace of pheasants : his most excellent friend the Duke has smoked upon the board, in the solid beauty of a haunch of venison. Of all men in the world, Flamingo would have been the tatt to deprive the peerage of their proxies. More: how often did some exalted dowager appear in a rich and candled preserve-how often some earl's daughter, the last out of the season, sent a basket of peaches, ripe and pulpy as her own Ups? At least, if these gifts were really not made by the exalted people praised by Flamingo for their generosity, it was riot the fault of the feather-dresser; no, the more his virtue to preach up the necessity of liberality to the world, even by apocryphal examples of true beneficence.
It was sometime after I bad passed from the hands of the feather-merchant, that 1 heard a story illustrative of this his theoretical virtue. As, however, I may not find a fitter place than the present for the story, I will here narrate it; the more «specially as the occurrence took place whilst I was yet Fla. ?ingo's property, albeit then ignorant of the history 1 have to
Peter Flamingo gave a dinner. I should say he rather pre- sided at a dinner given to him ; for there was no dish upon the table that might not have borne above it the banner of the noble house from which it emanated. Believe Flamingo, and the banquet was no other than a collection of offerings made to him by the English nobility : he could have pointed out the representatives ol the peerage, from the noble who came to cut throats with William the Conqueror at Hastings, to the last baron ennobled for cutting the throats of his constituents at Westminster. How Flamingo's guests-benevolently picked out by him from the very mob of tradesmen-wondered at the banquet ; how they praised their hosts for his high connexions ;
and how they hated him 1
The dinner passed off with excessive cordiality. The wino every drop of it from the cellars of the peerage, made nt ali events a passing call at the hearts of the drinkers, ero it mounted into their heads; and all was sincerity and noisy happiness I
The dettert appears. Was then ever seen such magnificent pine apples ? Flamingo drops his eye proudly yet lovingly upon the fruit and says with soft voice, so modulated that not one man shall lose one syllable-"Ha! my dear Duke of Diddleum -be is indeed a friend ; all-al) from his own gracious pinery I"
" Blets my heart I Well, you are a lucky man I" cries Brown. «Wai there ever such « duke in tho world?" exclaims
"It's m shame to put a knife into 'em;" remark* Field, .directing his looks sharpened to a very keen edge, on the crown
of the ducal gift.
"Pooh! pooh! what are pines grown for, ifnot to be eaten?" «ries flamingo, handling his knife, looking full at the pines»
but only looking at them.
" Don't cut the duke's gift-it's a tharne 1 I wouldn't touch
. bit of it," taya dobinson* » but there's a couple of little ones,
" Well, If you prefer them-they're not so large ; but their iavonr it delicious 1 They were sent by-yet1, I think by him -by1 Sfr Harry Bargate, a baronet of the last batch: will you venture?" And without waiting for a reply, Flamingo cuts into very-very small pieces the smallest pine.
'And «till all proceed« with increasing felicity. The bottle goes round and round, and at length the headi of the drinkers begin obediently lo follow It, The faugh increases-the shout .wells-and all's botiteroot Merriment.
Brown jumpt to bis legs. " It's no ute," he cries, *« I have fougtii against It long enough ; I mutt have a cut at the Duke." & .ayjçg Brpwitj wises the largest pine, and, with furious pre «ipitáney, ttribi fels knife into it; Flamingo's blood running
«oM,to bU very toa*.
« And so nutt 11" criée UwwltH drunken Johnson, foi
ItHrlag Brotrnl ftaaapla.
" And 11" screams Field ; and the third knife enters the Duke's third pine.
" And I, too," shouts Robinson, rising to commit execution ; but Flamingo, restored by the third attack to something like consciousness, snatches up the pine, and Robinson, missing his mark, falls sprawling on the table.
The charm of the night is broken; Flamingo looks sulky; the guests, a little sobered by a sense of their attack upon the Duke's gifts, depart.
" We were wrung," says Brown, "to demolish those pines; for, it Flamingo had had to buy 'em, what must they have cost?"
"Inonder what's the market-price now?" says Johnson "let's ask." And as be spoke, he turned into a fashionable fruiterer's. " What's the price of those pines ?"
" Three guineas each, sir," answered Melon, the fruiterer.
" They're very small," said Johnson. " Have you none
"Yes, four-very large; Ave guineas each. But I can't show them now ; for the fact is, they're out on hire for a night to my neighbour, Mr. Flamingo."
And so the Duke of liddleton was Melon, the shopkeeper ; and so Flamingo paid fifteen guineas (he saved one pine) for a lie, certainly, if there be any means of testing the value of lies, not north half the money.
This little banquet took place on the I ltli of August, 1762. With much melancholy did Peter Flamingo rise on the 12th. His bile, however, was blown away by the Park guns, for they announced the birth of Queen Charlotte's first-burn-the Prince
The " rudiments of an angel " . were begun in George the Fourth. Did Peter Flamingo rejuice at the birth of a Prince of Wales ? I think so ; but certain I am his " his heart leapt up " at the fine prospect for- Feathers.
* In TA« Yorkshircman of Ja«. 14,1813, is tlie report of a meeting of "The Stockton Mechanics' Institute," William Dailey, Esq. in the chair. The Chairman, in introducing the Prince of Wales and PiiucejH lioyal, said-1 Kcvcrence in tlie son the future man, and in the prince tlie future king.' Destroy not in either royal sciun the rudiments vj an aiijtl"
(To be continued.)