11 JANUARY 1845, Page 12


COUNT MoivrAuvEr has sent to our Queen's Purveyor a snuffbox with a miniature of Louis Philippe, in return for the baron of beef which furnished forth the New Year's banquet at the Turneries. Mr. Minton has had a narrow escape : the King of the French might have taken it into his head to inflict the cross of the Legion of Honour upon him.

Miniatures were once prized as gages d'amour. In those days, they might be seen displayed on fair breasts set in brooches broad as a Highland targe, or, in the case of demoiselles of maturer years, gracing the lids of tabatieres even more than the jewels which surrounded them.

From the service of Cupid they passed to that of diplomacy. During this tera they have been confined almost exclusively to the snuffbox lid. There was a poetical justice in placing them there : it was expressive of the drowsiness which the writer and reader of many protocols must have often struggled against. The snuffbox miniature continues to be the guerdon of the dip-

lomatist — though the United States forbid their envoys to accept of presents. An occasional brooch-miniature is still to be seen at times, worn by lovelorn damsel in omnibus or rail- way-coach. But Louis Philippe's present to Mr. Minton will probably put a stop to their acceptance and display by the ama- tory and diplomatic races.

Miniatures on snuffbox-lids will no longer be preserved as heir-

looms to attest the family gentility. It was kretty to have them laid on the table after dinner as an excuse for introducing the mention of "my grand-uncle who was charge d'affaires at the court of —," or "my great-grand-aunt who was the heroine of that pathetic legend. But the most enthusiastic cultivators of ancestral honours could scarcely take pleasure in recounting the story of "my grandfather the butcher who supplied the table of the King of the French with the superb baron of beef on New Year's day '45."

Yet greater and more substantial honours have been won in the

same, and in much worse ways. Horace Walpole, in his Me- moirs of the Reign of George the Third, makes merry with the relays of game sent by a courtier of the day to the Minister, which cumbered every um-yard on the road : and we are our- selves old enough to remember the richest sheriffdom in Scotland being purchased by a very indifferent lawyer by similar atten- tions to the Lord Advocate of the day. Beef is as worthy of honour as game ; and a snuffbox a more innocent testimony of gratitude than an important judicial charge improperly bestowed. The descendants of her Majesty's Purveyor may display the miniature of Louis Philippe without blushing for their ancestor's honest John Bull present; which is more than could be done with many jewelled miniatures, tokens of Court favour, if their whole history were known.