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THE OLD COMMODORE.
" For the bullets and the gout
Have so knocked his hull about,
“ You have begun your history with an oath !" ejaculates the purist.
“ You have begun it with a vulgarism,” lisps the young gentleman, who has a horror of being thought vulgar.
And, alas ! I myself confess that I have commenced it with a plagiarism. I am sorry,
truly sorry, that, by this confession, I have forestalled the discovery with three-and-twenty critics, who were all gaping, open-mouthed, to charge me with the crime. 'Tis a vile plagiarism, certainly; for I must plead guilty to the knowledge of seven novels, be they of volumes more or less, three tales, two mances, thirteen plays, and one sermon, beginning precisely in the same manner--to say nothing of its being an invidious piracy from the commonplaces of the day; for, does not every husband, when, conscious of much wine, he comes home late, and meets the scowling brow of the soother of his soul, and views the gathering remonstrance trembling on her lip, like a bee hanging with its sting in the rosebud,—does he not, I say, arrest it ere it fall, with the altisonant, Zounds! and, after this happy commencement of his chapter, has he not all the words and sentences that follow, his own way, as I intend to have in mine?
And yet, I have a little to say in defence of this boisterous “ Zounds!” I can
assure the pietist that, notwithstanding its etymological derivation from the awful and right royal outbreak of “ God's wounds,” that it is not an oath : and, in the sense he will hereafter find it used, it is nothing more than a pain-relieving expletive, guilty of no more impiety than its more modest and querulous brothers, “ Ah me!” “ Alas !” and “ Lack-a-daisy !"
And I can assure the young gentleman with the gilt spurs, and mosaic gold chains, that, inflated as it is, it is by no means vulgar; for it was used, with astounding emphasis, by the first gentleman of the age, and the first sovereign of Europe, his late majesty, upon a dirty little boy, who, when in search of the twopenny postman, and stumbling upon royalty, in the Windsor uniform, and alone, had thrust a penny in the regal palm, with a crumpled letter. “ Zounds !" said the possessor of the lives and