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thority over all its affairs, and are unbending in the execution of their decrees. The proudest titles cannot avail against them; for they, too, have received their authority from prescription. Their favor is worth more than all other honors, for it comprehends thesc, and unspeakably more. To be admitted to Almack's is to be above all solicitude for character or titles for admission here presupposes all this, and, moreover, is of itself so vast an elevation in public consideration, that all others may at once be lost sight of and forgotten.



HE Ladies-Patronesses are themselves beyond the reach of envy, and

by a tenure can be mor

dissolved. They are the divinities to be propitiated by all who would meet with success or consideration in the fashionable world. Their power is suspended over the heads of all, and they can in one moment strike from the galaxy of fashion the brightest and loftiest luminary there; and even this, all but the fallen will approve, for it serves only to purify and refine the circle whence they have been taken.

When once precipitated from this eminence, nothing they have can avail them in their disgrace; the trappings and stars of ancient nobility have lost their lustre, and reflect but a flickering ray, compared with the brilliant light and éclat issuing from the salons of Almack's. These female divinities, who hold the scissors, and sometimes the thread of fate, designate those who are to succeed them in their sacred function; and as one of their number is fading away from existence, they look for some happy mortal to take the sublime seat she is just about to exchange for the "narrow house." In short, when one of the six elderly duchesses, countesses, or marchionesses, happens to die, the remaining five fill up the void; and thus the priesthood, or, rather, the priestesshood, lives on in a sort of corporate immortality; and the long life of the establishment is made up of the odd fragments of the lives of divers ancient females, who, in the course of Providence, or by electioneering artifices, have been elevated to preside over this University of West-Endism.

It cannot be said, indeed, that these appointments are always made without contention, rivalry and heart-burnings: this would be too much to expect, even of the divinities of Almack's enchanted halls; since the honor is so high that none but the tamest and most ignoble spirits would be wanting in ambition to aspire to it. Where the fate of the present, and, perhaps, a succeeding generation of fair ladies and dashing beaux is made subject to, and dependent on, the favor of a Synod of six Ladies



Patronesses, who would not wish to be a sharer in such fullness of power, and thus be placed beyond all the evils of life?


HEN a seat becomes vacant by death, a struggle worthy of so great a prize commences; and among the remaining fivc, bitterness and reviling do sometimes make their unholy way. One cannot give up the suit of a "very dear friend," whose face she has long hoped to see in effulgence and honor, at “the Board of Red Cloth." Another has formed fond anticipations of seeing the companion of her early life raised to the sacred office, which she herself now fills, and doing honor to the associates with whom she would then mingle.

In short, cach one has her antipathies and preferences, and is anxious to secure for her protégée the vacant seat: whence originate suspicions and jealousies, rivalships and back-bitings; whence come artifice and intrigue, and the marshalling of every motive of fear, interest, love, resentment, and ambition, that can possibly weigh upon the suffrages of those who are to decide. It would be unfair to regard their deportment on these momentous occasions as indicating their general character. What though words of dark and dubious meaning do sometimes escape from their lips; and what though epithets which would better become the brawls of the streets, and the bandyings of kitchen heroines, should, in moments of trial, be liberally applied to the characters of these staid and haughty regents; yet such are but occasional outpourings, and doubtless only introduced to fill up the vacancies and interstices of sublimer contemplations.

Of course, they who would insinuate that such contentions and rivalships do always secretly exist, but are never visible except on these great occasions, do so of their own unadvised foolhardiness and malice aforethought. These Guardians of the sacredness of fashion's circle have enough to do in keeping perpetual vigils, that none invade their halls who have not passed the purifying ordeal. To them is committed the keeping of the Golden Fleece; and they are to guard it with a wakefulness which no power of herbs can ever lull. Those gifted with such small accomplishments as nature can bestow, apply in vain for admission here, unless they have some more powerful talisman to enforce their claims; there must be titled rank, and rank untarnished by poverty.

This, you my shoddy friend-with wife and daughters used to Bowery life and City Assembly balls, will say, is all delicious! It is, indeed. It does your Republican heart good, I doubt not, to think there is one

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place where the favored few are above the reach of those low vulgarities which infest the dead levels of Democracy.



ND what think you, dear sir, is done within the precincts of so much exclusiveness? Why here the great, or, rather, the favored ones, become accustomed to each other's society; and there being no other enterprise on earth worthy the attention of the English Aristocracy, they, like wise men, have created this object of ambition to prevent their noble faculties from rusting out in the coarse and trivial pursuits of ordinary life. They must have something to do; for even noblemen and kings have not yet succeeded in taking out a patent for a happy do-nothing profession. So they busy themselves first in gaining admittance to Almack's, and then in luxuriating upon their hard-won honors.

After days, and nights, and weeks, and months of management and anxiety, with trembling hands and fainting hearts, they send up to the awful scrutiny of the Judgesses their respectful supplication. I think you cannot but envy the delectable state of their feelings-the flutterings of hope and fear they now experience.

The oracle is not long silent; the responses, inscribed on triangular billets, are scattered, like Sibyls' leaves, among those whose fate they are to decide; and then there are smiles, and self-gratulation, and rejoicings, and exultation with some; and frowns, and tears, and disappointment, and rage, with others.

Dear sir, can you conceive how it is possible to live after being rejected? It is very certain that ordinary eating, and drinking, and sleeping, and breathing, are not the true essentials to life; for the smiles of the rich and the Almack-favored are worth more than all these for the purposes of living, at least good living, to the applicants at this ineffable Court. To the young and ambitious among the gay and opulent of London, rejection comes like a sentence of banishment from the very light of life. All other places of fashionable resort are regarded only as faint and wretched imitations of this sublime original. More than one instance has been known of such rejection producing death, by the rupture of a blood-vessel in some exquisite young lady's bosom (perfectly horrible, you will say); or a fate little less painful has awaited the angelic-disappointed, of fading away by the slow poison of chagrin and gloom.

Young gentlemen, when overtaken by this dreadful calamity, generally blow out what brains they have with a pistol, or, in failure of this,



devote them to the less romantic end of writing poetry. Ah! sir, it is quite gratifying to me to know, while writing these paragraphs, that they will excite in your sensitive heart high and generous emotions, suited to so touching a theme.


N a spacious salon, with all the unostentatious elegance which wealth,


reclining on voluptuous sofas, the cream of all the beauty and gallantry of England. Precious stones are flashing in the light; and bright eyes sparkling, and flushed cheeks glowing on every side. Here a whisper of musical voices is heard in the soft murmur of confidence; and there words of gallantry, and flattery, and gentleness, insensibly melt into sighs.

Forms of chiseled gracefulness are gliding about; and when the sound of music begins to creep over the scene, swelling, and dying away like the breath of evening, light footsteps are heard just audibly to rustle, and fairy fingers floating on the waves of the mazy dance, beat softly to the pulse of melody.

The young and blushing countess is fluttering by the side of the dashing captain; and ever and anon, as her white hand touching his, a thrill of delight passes over her form. There, a boy, who would be esteemed awkward if he had not lately come to a dukedom, is blundering and swelling before a proud beauty, whose heart rebels against maternal injunctions, and spurns with contempt the clumsy attentions of her vain admirer; and by their side a graceful Premier is moving gallantly to the voluptuous waltz of a high-born youthful duchess. Yonder is a prudent mother, whose schemes in providing her daughter with an advantageous settlement have all been frustrated, and in whose guarded countenance jealousy and chagrin are but half concealed. Here glances by the form of a young marchioness-and such a form! swelling with exultation and triumph as she bears away from her tearful rival a young and gallant fortune.

In this place is never heard the sound of loud mirth and hilarity; all is gentle and regulated; every emotion is subdued; and whatever it be, it is expressed on the countenance only by a smile. Here every one is bent upon conquest; and every avenue to the heart is guarded with unrelenting severity. I scarce need tell one so familiar with the gay world as yourself, that all this is necessary.

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still, there are scenes here occasionally, which in other assemblies would excite something more than a smile. Around the dancing arena, a rope is drawn for the purpose of preventing encroachments upon those within, not very unlike what you may have seen in your plebeian days at a menagerie; and the "perfumed courtiers" lead their exquisite partners into the ring, as in the afore-mentioned days you may have observed the Shetland pony led in by Dandy Jack. It sometimes happens in the flush and excitement of the gallopade (for the gallopade and waltz are now the only things danced at Almack's, though Lord Byron, whose moral tastes have never been condemned for their purity, thought the waltz should be banished from virtuous society), that cases are not unfrequent, in the full tide of the dance, of the more spirited beaux dashing themselves carelessly against the rope, and by the rebound being thrown prostrate upon the floor.

This, of itself, would be but a slight misfortune; but it is often followed by others of a more serious nature. Those nearest the fallen dancer are not always able to stop themselves at once upon the polished floor, and frequently numbers of young ladies are either dragged down by their companions (for it is proverbial that a sinking man will hold fast to a trifle), or stumble over those already fallen.

Here, then, is a delightful scene for the staid gravity of the assembly: duchesses, marchionesses, captains, dukes, and premiers, all huddled together in one grand promiscuous pile of-rank and beauty. Slight screams are heard; and blushes, and smiles, and tears, are seen confusedly mingling in the faces of the scrambling unfortunates. Some hitherto slighted rival exults in the sudden shame of her tormentor; while the fallen ones retire from the ring in the deepest mortification and chagrin. The music, arrested for a moment by the confusion, now breaks forth again in voluptuous softness, and the rustle of flying feet begins again to steal upon the ear.

Such scenes as this are at times witnessed in these famous salons, where the severity of elegance has banished all ostentation of wealth. The simplicity of its entertainments excludes all idea of luxury, and almost of comfort. Of course, gaudiness is not tolerated here, for that is something which those who have no other recommendation than mere gold (a vulgar thing) can put on. But it is not the society, or the intercourse, which gives value to an admission to this circle: the very fact of admission is all that is prized, as this is a tacit award of eminence in the world of fashion. It is a sort of test to try the purity of nobility,

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