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When the prophetic fear of things A more tormenting mischief brings, More full of soul-tormenting gall Than direst mischiefs can befall. But stay! but stay! methinks my sight, Better informed by clearer light, Discerns sereneness in that brow, That all contracted seemed but now. His reversed face may show distaste, And frown upon the ills are past; But that which this way looks is clear, And smiles upon the New-born Year. He looks too from a place so high, The Year lies open to his eye; And all the moments open are To the exact discoverer. Yet more and more he smiles upon The happy revolution. Why should we then suspect or fcar The influences of a year? So smiles upon us the first morn, And speaks us good so soon as born; Plague on't! the last was ill enough, This cannot but make better proof; Or, at the worst, as we brushed through The last, why so we may this too; And then the next in reason should Be superexcellently good: For the worst ills (we daily see) Have no more perpetuity Than the best fortunes that do fall; Which also bring us wherewithal Longer their being to support, Than those do of the other sort:
And who has one good year in three,
How say you, reader-do not these verses smack of the rough magnanimity of the old English vein? Do they not fortify like a cordial ; enlarging the heart, and productive of sweet blood, and generous spirits, in the concoction? Where be those puling fears of death, just now expressed or affected ?—Passed like a cloud-absorbed in the purging sunlight of clear poetry-clean washed away by a wave of genuine Helicon, your only Spa for these hypochondries.—And now another cap of the generous! and & merry New Year, and many of them, to you all, my masters!
MRS. BATTLE'S OPINIONS ON WHIST.
“A CLEAR fire, a clean hearth, and the rigor of the game." This was the celebrated wish of old Sarah Battle (now with God), who, next to her devotions, loved a good game of whist. She was none of your lukewarm gamesters, your half-and-half players, who have no ob
jection to take a hand, if you want one to make up a rubber; who affirm that they have no pleasure in winning; that they like to win one game and lose another; that they can while away an hour very agreeably at a card-table, but are indifferent whether they play or no; and will desire an adversary, wh has slipped a wrong card, to take it up and play another. These insufferable triflers are the curse of a table. One of these flies will spoil a whole pot. Of such it may be said that they do not play at cards, but only play at playing at them.
Sarah Battle was none of that breed. She detested them, as I do, from her heart and soul, and would not, save upon a striking emergency, willingly seat herself at the same table with them. She loved a thorough-paced partner, a determined enemy. She took and gave no concessions. She hated favors. She never made a revoke, nor ever passed it over in her adversary without exacting the utmost forfeiture. She fought a good fight: cut and thrust. She held not her good sword (her cards) "like a dancer." She sat bolt upright, and neither showed you her cards nor desired to see yours. All people have their blind side—their superstitions; and I have heard her declare, under the rose, that hearts was her favorite suit.
I never in my life-and I knew Sarah Battle many of the best years of it-saw her take out her snuff-box when it was her turn to play; or snuff a candle in the middle of a game; or ring for a servant till it was fairly over. She never introduced, or connived at, miscellaneous conversation during its process. As she emphatically observed, cards were cards; and if I ever saw unmingled distaste in her fine last-century countenance, it was at the airs of a young gentleman of a literary turn,
who had been with difficulty persuaded to take a hand; and who, in his excess of candor, declared that he thought there was no harm in unbending the mind now and then, after serious studies, in recreations of that kind! She could not bear to have her noble occupation, to which she wound up her faculties, considered in that light. It was her business, her duty, the thing she came into the world to do-and she did it. She unbent her mind afterward, over a book.
Pope was her favorite author; his "Rape of the Lock" her favorite work. She once did me the favor to play over with me (with the cards) his celebrated game of ombre in that poem; and to explain to me how far it agreed with, and in what points it would be found to differ from, tradrille. Her illustrations were apposite and poignant; and I had the pleasure of sending the substance of them to Mr. Bowles; but I suppose they came too late to be inserted among his ingenious notes upon that author.
Quadrille, she has often told me, was her first love; but whist had engaged her maturer esteem. The former, she said, was showy and specious, and likely to allure young persons. The uncertainty and quick shifting of partners—a thing which the constancy of whist abhors; the dazzling supremacy and regal investiture of spadille—absurd, as she justly observed, in the pure aristocracy of whist, where his crown and garter give him no proper power above his brother nobility of the aces; the giddy vanity, so taking to the inexperienced, of playing alone; above all, the overpowering attractions of a Sans Prendre Vole-to the triumph of which there is certainly nothing parallel or approaching in the contingencies of whist-all these, she would say, make quad
rille a game of captivation to the young and enthusiastic. But whist was the solider game-that was her word. It was a long meal; not, like quadrille, a feast of snatches. One or two rubbers might coextend in duration with an evening. They gave time to form rooted friendships, to cultivate steady enmities. She despised the chancestarted, capricious, and ever-fluctuating alliances of the other. The skirmishes of quadrille, she would say, reminded her of the petty, ephemeral embroilments of the little Italian states, depicted by Machiavel: perpetually changing postures and connections; bitter foes to-day, sugared darlings to-morrow; kissing and scratching in a breath; but the wars of whist were comparable to the long, steady, deep-rooted, rational antipathies of the great French and English nations.
A grave simplicity was what she chiefly admired in her favorite game. There was nothing silly in it, like the nob in cribbage-nothing superfluous. No flushes— that most irrational of all pleas that a reasonable being can set up!-that any one should claim four by virtue of holding cards of the same mark and color, without reference to the playing of the game, or the individual worth or pretensions of the cards themselves! She held this to be a solecism; as pitiful an ambition at cards as alliteration is in authorship. She despised superficiality, and looked deeper than the colors of things. Suits were soldiers, she would say, and must have a uniformity of ray to distinguish them; but what should we say to a foolish squire, who should claim a merit from dressing up his tenantry in red jackets, that never were to be marshaled-never to take the field? She even wished that whist were more simple than it is; and, in my mind, would have stripped it of some appendages,