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THE GOLDEN PIPPIN.
“ Au superbe festin tous les dieux invités,
Partageoient le bonheur des époux enchantés.
WITHOUT the walls of the far-famed city of Troy or Ilium was an extensive forest well stocked with game. Acteon, who was one of the keenest sportsmen of the period, was abroad at break of day, and had already slain many a dappled denizen of the forest, when Apollo, who was also an early riser, accidentally met, and thus accosted the hunter
“ What sport, my noble buck ?
“As for the sport," replied Acteon, “ 'tis pleasant enough, for you perceive I have won the game; but as for the title of buck, Master Apollo, I do not consider myself entitled to it, having, like the rest of my brothers of the chase, only one horn.”
"A good conceit, by Styx !” exclaimed Apollo, slapping him on the shoulder. “ Well, then, my unicorn, what game's a-foot that you are making such provision ?"
“ I'm astonished !” said Acteon. “What! have you not heard that Peleus is about to celebrate his nuptials with the lovely Thetis ? Have you really received no card ?”
“Not an inch of pasteboard have I seen, I assure you,” answered Apollo ; nor do I regret it, for these same weddings are, after all, but melancholy things, for the bride generally looks as blank and white as her robe, and the groom as silly as possible.”
“But this is a love-match, I assure you."
“ Then, in respect of Peleus, your labours must be superfluous, for Thetis ought to be too dear, or at least dear enough without your venison."
“ Thank’ye, Pol; I owe you one,” cried Acteon, laughing : " but you must come,
- we shall never be able to get up a glee without your able assistance.
“Well,” said Apollo, evidently flattered by his compliment, “ provided I receive a card in due time"
“Oh! I'll take care of that,” replied Acteon ; " in fact, it must be an oversight of the stewards; but I'll see to it. 'Twill be a 'crack' affair, for Bacchus provides the tipple, and
“ I'm glad of it,” said Apollo; “ for the last jollification I was invited to, they pretended to prodigious gentility, and gave us a villanous imitation of champagne that played old gooseberry with me; and as for the port (black-strap at one-and-eleven-pence-three-farthings a bottle), it really produced an acidity that required all the skill and magnesia of Æsculapius to neutralize.'
After having assured Apollo of the groundlessness of any such appre
hension on the intended celebration, they parted with the understanding that Apollo would keep himself disengaged for the occasion.
An invitation was accordingly sent on the following morning in due form. In the memory of the oldest inhabitant there had not been such an assemblage of " nobs” as honoured the wedding of Thetis. All the Gods and Goddesses were there, and there was nothing omitted to give due éclat to the marriage feast. Gifts, as customary on such occasions, were presented, and, as usual, received. Pluto gave the young couple a toasting-fork, and Eolus a pair of bellows. Minerva proffered a handsome pocket edition of the fashionable novels of the day, superbly bound. Nothing could excel the good humour and hilarity of the company. Toasts were drunk, and compliments flew about like snow-balls.
Upon the removal of the cloth, Apollo arose, and, accompanied by two of the Muses, sang the following
Attended by the Graces,
Appear with shining faces
And bid to care a truce, Sir.
Ri fol de riddle lol,
Tiddy dol de da.
Ri fol de riddle lol,
Tiddy dol de da.
To lead 'em to the altar
And neither trip nor falter.
Pit-falls and holes, all sizes,
Ri fol de riddle lol,
Tiddy dol de da.
Chorus-Ri fol de riddle, &c.
Reverse them in a twinkling,
And give old Earth a sprinkling.
And be a happy mother,
Ri fol de riddle lol
Tiddy dol de da.
Chorus-Ri fol de riddle, &c. Words are inadequate to describe the loud and enthusiastic applause which followed this classically-beautiful effusion. The harmonious hammering of pots and glasses upon the table which accompanied the “bravoes," produced altogether an effect so novel and electrifying that even Jupiter, who had seen a great deal of " high ” life in his time, emphatically declared, with his hand upon his heart, that he had never before witnessed such a scene.
The bride and bridegroom being drank with the customary honours, Peleus arose :
Ladies and gentlemen,” said he," it is with some hesitation I intrude myself upon your notice, but I should be utterly devoid of feeling were I to pass over in silence the handsome and flattering manner in which you have condescended to notice me and mine. On behalf of myself and lady permit me to return you our most sincere and heartfelt thanks, and may you all enjoy health, happiness, and prosperity."
Symptoms of applause breaking out at this juncture, Peleus remained silent until the peal had burst, and then continued :
“ Ladies and gentlemen-With your permission I will propose a toast. There is a gentleman among us who is ever ready to add to the harmony of the company by his vocal abilities. The elegant composition which he has just poured forth, no less than the warm and friendly manner in which you all joined in the heart-stirring chorus, demands my gratitude. Ladies and gentlemen, I beg leave to propose the health of Apollo with nine times nine!”
Apollo was drank, and rising, placed his right hand upon the rim of his goblet, bowed with the most winning grace to the bride and bridegroom, and then to the guests both right and left.
All was hushed in a silence that was almost audible, longing to catch every syllable anticipated from the lips of the God of Eloquence. Shaking back his golden locks, and raising his replenished goblet in his hand, he said :
“ Ladies and gentlemen-I thank you."
Every head was outstretched, every eye was in a moment rivetted upon the youthful orator. Apollo, with a smile of ineffable sweetness, looked calmly around, and placing the wine to his lips, quaffed it at a single draught, and then-seated himself.
For a moment the whole company was lost in surprise; but mirth soon broke the silence in loud and repeated shouts of laughter, for they were one and all taken in and tickled by his laconic mode of returning thanks. The merriment of the jovial party was further increased by the following comic song, which Momus gave in his best manner upon the call of Jupiter for a volunteer:"
THE SONG OF MOMUS.
In Ladon's meandering stream,
And caused the young lady to scream.
And bundled up quickly her togs,
Affrighted at sight of the dogs.
On! on !--and away, like a brook,
She ran o'er the pebbles so fleet :
I think I can outdo her feat."
She has a sweet ancle and foot;
Is nothing without a pursuit.
With walnut-shells stuck on her feet;
Like a debtor in sight of-the Fleet !"
And finding she still was pursued,
In terror, lest Pan should be rude.
Cried Pan, and whisk d round with a dash;
She jumps into the stream with a splash.
Miss Syrinx transform d to a reed ;
To confess she was hollow indeed.
That cruelly cut her in bits,
Well known to both rustics and cits.
Both wine and wit flowed in sparkling abundance, and there was every prospect of a happy termination to the joyful meeting, when Discord, in sheer envy of their enjoyment, and determined to spite them for having purposely neglected to send her an invite to the weddingfeast, concealed herself in the umbrageous covert of the trees which formed the leafy walls of the rural saloon, and, watching her opportunity, threw a Golden Pippin upon the board, whereon these words were carved—“ For the most beautiful.”
Juno seized the fruit, which was really of surpassing beauty, and observing the words, although unable to decipher them (for she was by no means a literary lady), she beckoned to Minerva. “Minny, my love," said she, “construe me these pothooks, will you; for I must confess they are all Greek to me.”
Minerva took the pippin, and the attention and curiosity of all the goddesses were aroused. The Goddess of Wisdom smiled as she read the words aloud. A pause ensued, which was interrupted by Momus.
“I propose,” said he, “that the pippin be given to Vulcan!" A laugh, in which the ill-favoured blacksmith joined most heartily, followed this proposition.
“And wherefore ?” demanded Jupiter.
“In the first place, it will prevent any jealous feelings on the part of the young ladies; and secondly, I think him in justice entitled to it, for, both in face and person, we must acknowledge he is matchless."
“No, no,” said Juno, who really felt a longing for the fruit; “it must be intended for a lady. Let Jupiter award the prize."
Venus gave Jupiter a look which it was impossible to misconstrue ; and apprehending either a curtain-lecture from his spouse, or a tiff with Venus, determined not to be the arbitrator in this delicate affair.
" Apple of my eye !” said he, leering tenderly at Juno, “I fear I may be deemed too partial if I bestow it according to my inclination," and here he trod emphatically on the toe of Venus. “I therefore refer this momentous affair to the decision of the equitable and renowned Paris.”
“Who is Paris ?” whispered the bride timidly to Minerva.
“Dear me !" exclaimed Minerva," don't you really know—have you never seen him ?”
“No, indeed,” replied Thetis.
“Then pray, child, hold your tongue," said Minerva, with the grave authority of a boarding-school teacher, or you'll expose your ignorance wofully. Why it is a proverb even among the Gauls, Qui n'a vu Paris n'a rien vu,' which, literally translated according to the Hamiltonian system, means 'Who has not seen Paris has seen nothing."
They were all eager for the adjudication; and Mercury was instantly despatched to request the favour of the presence of the shepherd-judge. Paris, having hastily attired himself in his wig and gown, promptly appeared to answer the flattering summons of Jupiter. Bowing gracefully to the company, he seated himself upon a green bank under the shadow of an umbrageous tree. A circle was formed about him, and he received the pippin from the hands of Mercury.
“Open the court,” said he to the winged messenger of the gods.
“One would think the court was open enough already," said Momus to Apollo.
Mercury stepped forward, and, waving his caduceus, cried aloud,
“O yes ! O yes ! O yes! By the decree of Jupiter the wise and renowned Paris is instituted judge. Let the candidates come forward and listen to his just award."
Juno, Venus, and Minerva immediately entered the circle and preferred their claims to the pippin; and no one else appearing, Paris sagely grasped the contested fruit in his left hand. Regarding the three beautiful goddesses as they advanced with a scrutiny that made them blush and look more lovely than ever, Paris seemed doubtful on which of the trio to bestow the prize. Juno, who had more boldness than discretion, gracefully approached the judge.