Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

and scurvy people scrub their superior and inferior extremities with the flesh-brush, to their own and the Old Lady's heart's content. But commend us to a good stiff, hard, rough, yarn towel—that makes our body blush like a Peony, and glow like a Furnace.

Literary men are also told " for a change to run briskly up and down stairs several times, or to use the shuttlecock,”“or fight with their own shadow,"—an exercise described, it seems, by Addison in one of his Spectators. When the worst has come to the worst, we shall fight with our own shadow; -but that will not be till not a blockhead is left on the face of the whole earth for us to bastinado—not till we observe that we are positively the Last Man, shall we have recourse to that recreation.

We are finally told to read aloud and loudly, “out of any work before us"-"to promote pulmonary circulation, and strengthen the digestive organs." We know a much better exercise of the lungs than that, and one we frequently practise. It is to thrust our head and shoulders out of the window, and imagining that we see a scoundrel stealing apples in the orchard, or carrying off a how-towdy, to roar out upon him as if it were Stentor blowing a great brazen trumpet, “Who are you-you rascal-stand still or I will blow you to atoms with this blunderbuss !" The thief takes to his heels, and having got a hundred yards farther off, you must intensify your roar into a Briareus—even the third remove-and then the chance is, that some decent citizen heaves in sight, who, terrified out of his seven senses, falls head-over-heels into the kennel—when you, still anxious “to promote pulmonary circulation and strengthen your digestive organs,” burst out into a guffaw that startles the Castle rock-and then, letting down the lattice, return to your article, which, like the haggis of the Director-General, is indeed a Roarer.

Cetera desunt.

ON EARLY RISING.

IN A LETTER TO MR NORTH.

[ DECEMBER 1821.)

MR NORTH,

I hope that you are not an early riser. If you are, throw this letter into the fire—if not, insert it. But I beg your pardon, it is impossible that you can be an early riser; and, if I thought so, I must be the most impertinent man in the world; whereas, it is universally known that I am politeness and urbanity themselves. Well then, pray what is this virtue of early rising, that one hears so much about? Let us consider it, in the first place, according to the seasons of the year-secondly, according to people's profession—and thirdly, according to their character.

Let us begin with Spring-say the month of March. You rise early in the month of March, about five o'clock. It is somewhat darkish—at least gloomyish—dampish-rawishcoldish-icyish-snowyish. You rub your eyes and look about for your breeches. You find them, and after hopping about on one leg for about five minutes, you get them on. It would be absurd to use a light during that season of the year, at such an advanced hour as five minutes past five, so you attempt to shave by the spring-dawn. If your nose escapes, you are a lucky man; but dim as it is, you can see the blood trickling down in a hundred streams from your gashed and mutilated chin. I will leave your imagination to conjecture what sort of neckcloth will adorn your gullet, tied under such circumstances. However, grant the possibility of your being dressed—and down you come, not to the parlour, or your study -for

you would not be so barbarous—but to enjoy the beauty of the morning, -as Mr Leigh Hunt would say, " out of doors.The moment you pop your phiz one inch beyond the front

17

wall, a scythe seems to cut you right across the eyes, or a
great blash of sleet clogs up your mouth, or a hail-shower
rattles
away

at
you,
till
you

take up a position behind the door. Why, in the name of God, did I leave my bed ? is the first cry of nature—a question to which no answer can be given, but a long chitter grueing through the frame. You get obstinate, and out you go. I give you every possible advantage. You are in the country, and walking with your eyes, I will not say open, but partly so, out of the house of a country gentleman worth five thousand a-year.

It is now a quarter past five, and a fine sharp blustering morning, just like the season. In going down stairs, the ice not having been altogether melted by the night's rain, whack you come upon your posteriors, with your toes pointing up to heaven, your hands pressed against the globe, and your whole body bob-bob-bobbing, one step after another, till you come to a full stop or period, in a circle of gravel. On getting up and shaking yourself, you involuntarily look up to the windows to see if any eye is upon you—and perhaps you dimly discern, through the blind mist of an intolerable headache, the old housekeeper in a flannel nightcap, and her hands clasped in the attitude of prayer, turning up the whites of her eyes at this inexplicable sally of the strange gentleman. Well, my good sir, what is it that you propose to do? will you take a walk in the garden, and eat a little fruit—that is to say, a cabbage leaf, or a jerusalem artichoke? But the gardener is not quite so great a goose as yourself, and is in bed with his wife and six children. So after knocking with your shoulder against the garden gate—you turn about, and espying perhaps a small temple in the shrubbery, thither you repair, and therein I shall leave you till breakfast, to amuse yourself with the caricatures, and the affecting pictures of Eloisa and Abelard. In the intervals of reflection on the virtue of early rising in spring, I allow you to study the history of Europe, in the fragments of old newspapers.

March, April, and May are gone, and it is Summer-so if you are an early riser, up, you lazy dog, for it is between three and four o'clock. How beautiful is the sunrise! What a truly intellectual employment it is to stand for an hour with your mouth wide open, like a stuck pig, gazing on the great orb of day! Then the choristers of the grove have their mouths open likewise ; cattle are also lowing-and if there be a dog.

kennel at hand, I warrant the pack are enjoying the benefits of early rising as well as the best of you, and yelping away like furies before breakfast. The dew too is on the ground, excessively beautiful no doubt-and all the turkeys, howtowdies, ducks, and guinea-fowls, are moping, waddling, and strutting about, in a manner equally affecting and picturesque, while the cawing of an adjacent rookery invites you to take a stroll in the grove, from which you return with an epaulette on each shoulder.

You look at your watch, and find it is at least five hours till breakfast—so you sit down and write a sonnet to June, or a scene of a tragedy ;—you find that the sonnet has seventeen lines—and that the dramatis persona having once been brought upon the stage, will not budge. While reducing the sonnet to the baker's dozen, or giving the last kick to your heroine, as she walks off with her arm extended heavenwards, you hear the good old family bell warning the other inmates to doff their nightcaps—and huddling up your papers, you rush into the breakfast parlour. The urn is diffusing its grateful steam in clouds far more beautiful than any that adorned the sky. The squire and his good lady make their entrée with hearty faces, followed by a dozen hoydens and hobbletehoys—and after the first course of rolls, muffins, dry and butter toast, has gone to that bourne from which the fewer travellers that return the better-in come the new-married couple, the young baronet and his blushing bride, who, with that infatuation common to a thinking people, have not seen the sun rise for a month past, and look perfectly incorrigible on the subject of early rising.

It is now that incomprehensible season of the year, Autumn. Nature is now brown, red, yellow, and everything but green. These, I understand, are the autumnal tints so much admired. Up then, and enjoy them. Whichever way a man turns his face early in the morning, from the end of August till that of October—the wind seems to be blowing direct from that quarter. Feeling the rain beating against your back, you wonder what the devil it can have to do, to beat also against your face. Then, what is the rain of autumn in this countryScotland ? Is it rain, or mist, or sleet, or hail, or snow, what, in the name of all that is most abhorrent to a lunged animal, is it? You trust to a greatcoat-Scotch plaidumbrella-clogs, &c. &c. &c.; but what use would they be to

or

you, if you were plopped into the boiler of a steam-engine? Just so in a morning of Autumn. You go out to look at the reapers. Why, the whole corn for twenty miles round is laid flat—ten million runlets are intersecting the country much farther than fifty eyes can reach the roads are rivers—the meadows lakes—the moors seas-nature is drenched, and on your return home, if indeed you ever return (for the chance is that you will be drowned at least a dozen times before that), you are traced up to your bedroom by a stream of mud and gravel, which takes the housemaid an hour to mop up; and when, fold after fold of cold, clammy, sweaty, fetid plaids, benjamins, coats, waistcoats, flannels, shirts, breeches, drawers, worsteds, gaiters, clogs, shoes, &c., have been peeled off your saturated body and limbs, and are laid in one misty steaming heap upon an unfortunate chair, there, sir, you are standing in the middle of the floor, in puris naturalibus, or, as Dr Scott would say, in statu quo, a memorable and illustrious example of the glory and gain of early rising.

It is Winter-six o'clock. You are up. You say so; and as I have never had any reason to doubt your veracity, I believe you. By what instinct, or by what power resembling instinct, acquired by long, painful, and almost despairing practice, you have come at last to be able to find the basin to wash your hands, must for ever remain a mystery. Then how the hand must circle round and round the inner region of the washhand stand, before, in a blessed moment, it comes in contact with a lump of brown soap! But there are other vessels of china, or porcelain, more difficult to find than the basin; for as the field is larger, so is the search more tedious. Inhuman man! many a bump do the bed-posts endure from thy merci. less and unrelenting head! Loud is the crash of clothesscreen, dressing-table, mirror, chairs, stools, and articles of bedroom furniture, seemingly placed for no other purpose than to be overturned. If there is a cat in the room, that cat is the climax of comfort. Hissing and snuffing, it claws your naked legs, and while stooping down to feel if she has fetched blood, smack goes your head through the window, which you have been believing quite on the other side of the room ; for geography is gone-the points of the compass are as hidden as at the North Pole—and on madly rushing at a venture, out of a glimmer supposed to be the door, you go like a battering

« FöregåendeFortsätt »