Sidor som bilder
PDF

well in England. Uncle John, indeed, did utter something about the pug and the child—two such nuisances—people bringing their brats into grown up company At length the procession set out: the 13agshaws, uncle John and Jack Richards bringing up the rear in a hackney-coach. On reaching the corner of the street, Mrs. Bagshaw called out to the driver to stop. “What is the matter, dear?” said Bagshaw. “Your eye lotion, love.” “Well, never mind that, sweet.” “Claudius, I shall be miserable if you go without it. Dr. Nooth desired you would use it every two. ours. I must insist—now, sor my sake, love—such an eye as he has got, Mr. Richards !” So away went Bagshaw to the Lake of Lausanne Lodge for the lotion, which, as it always happens when folks are in a hurry, it took him a quarter of an hour to find. They were now fairly on the road. “What a smell of garlick!” exclaimed uncle John; “it is intolerable !” “Dear me!” said Mr. Richards, “do you perceive it 7 'Tis a fine Italian sausage I bought at Morel's, as my contribution. We shall find it an excellent relish in the country;” and he exhibited his purchase, enveloped in a brown paper. “Pha shocking —'tis a perfect nuisance : Put it into your pocket again, or throw it out at the window.” But Mr. Richards preferred obeying the first command. Apropos of contributions—“Uncle, have you brought your spoons !” “Here they are,” replied uncle, at the same time drawing from his pocket a parcel in size and form very closely resembling Mr. Richards's offensive contribution. On arriving at Westminster Bridge, they found the rest of the party already seated in the barge, and the first sound that saluted thcir ears was an intimation that, owing to their being two hours behind time, (it was now past twelve,) they should hardly save the tide. “I knew it would be so,” said Bagshaw, with more of discontent than he had thought to experience, considering the pains he had taken that every thing should be wellordered. As uncle John was stepping into the boat, Richards, with great dexterity, exchanged parcels with him, putting the Italian sausage into uncle John's pocket and the spoons into his own ; enhancing the wit of the manoeuvre by whispering to the Bagshaws, who, with infinite delight, had observed it. “Hang me,” said Richards, “but he shall have enough of the garlick!” The old gentleman was quite unconscious of the operation, as Richards adroitly diverted his attention from it by giving him one of his facetious pokes in the ribs, which nearly bent him double, and drew a roar of laughter srom every one else. Just as they were pushing off, their attention was attracted by a loud howling. It proceeded rom a large Newsoundland dog which was standing at the water's edge. “Confound it !” cried Richards, “that's my Carlo: He has followed me, unperceived, all the way from home— I would not lose him for fifty pounds. I must take him back—pray put me ashore. This is very provoking— though he is a cery quiet dog!” There was no mistaking this hint. Already were there two nuisances on board—master Charles and the Dutch pug: but as they were to choose between Jack Richards with his dog, or no Jack Richards, (or in other words, no life and soul of the party,) it was presently decided that Carlo should be invited to a seat on the hampers, which were stowed at the head of the boat—uncle John having first extracted from Mr. Richards an assurance that their new guest would lie there as still as a mouse. This comlaisance was amply rewarded by a speedy display of Mr. ichards' powers of entertainment. As soon as they reached the middle of the river Jack Richards suddenly umped up, for the purpose of frightening Miss Snubbleston; a jest at which everybody else would have laughed, had not their own lives been endangered by it. Even his great admirer suggested to him that once of that we ; augh. His next joke was one of a more intellcctu

character. Though he had never till this day seen Sir Thomas, he had accidentally heard something about his former trade. “What is the difference between Lord E"don and Sir Thomas Grouts 7" Nobody could tell. “One is an ex-chancellor—the other is an ex-chandler.” Everybody laughed, except the Grouts family. This was succeeded by another thrust in uncle John's side; after which came a pun, which we shall not record, as the effect of it was to force the ladies to cough and look into the water, the gentlemen to look at each other, and Mrs. Snodgrass to whisper to Mrs. Bagshaw– “Who is this Mr. Richards 2" Indeed, there would have been no end to his pleasantries had they not been interruptea : y a request that Miss Corinna would open the concert, as they were fast approaching Vauxhall bridge. Mr. Bagshaw (looking at the programme, which he had drawn out on paper ruled with red and blue lines) objected to this, as it would disturb the previous arrangement, according to which the concert was not to commence till they were through the bridge. This objection was overruled, and the fair Corinna unrolled the music, for which the servant had been dispatched with so much haste. Miss Corinna screamed ! What was the matter? “They had not sent the grand scena from Medea, as ter all, but a wrong piece " And the pains she had taken to be perfect in it ! “Could not Miss Corinna sing it from memory !” “Impossible !” “How careless of you, Corinna : then sing what they have sent.” “Why, ma,” said Corinna, with tears in her eyes, and holding up the unfortunate sheets, “why bless me, Ina, I can't sing the overture to Der Freyschutz” The difficulty of such a persormance being readily admitted, Mr. Frederick Snodgrass declared himself but too happy to comply with the cass for his concerto in five sharps, which stood next on the list; and with the air of one well satisfied that an abundance of admiration and applause would reward his efforts, he drew forth his flute, when, lo! one of the joints was missing ! This accident was nearly fatal to the musical entertainments of the day; for not only was the concerto thereby rendered impracticable, but “Sweet Bird,” with the flute-accompaniment obligato, was put hors de combat. Disappointment hav. ing, by this, been carried to its uttermost bounds, the announcement that two strings of the guitar had gone, was received with an indifference almost stoical ; and every one was grateful to Miss Euphemia for so willingly undertaking (the whispered menaces of Lady Grouts being heard by nobody but the young lady hersels) to do all that could be done under such untoward circumstances. She would endeavour to accompany hersell through a little ballad; but she failed. Mr. Claudius Bagshaw, with all his literature, science, and philosophy, now, for the first time, wondered how any thing could fail, so much trouble having been taken to insure success. Drawing forth his repeater, he a-hem'd. and just muttered— “Unaccountable ! Hem' upon my word! One o'clock, and no pleasure yet!” “One o'clock,” echoed his spouse; “then 'tis time for your eye, dear!” and Bagshaw was compelled not only to suffer his damaged optics to be dabbled by historment. ingly affectionate wife, but to submit again to be hood. winked, in spite of his entreaties to the contrary, and his pathetic assurances that he had not yet seen a bit of the prospect; a thing he had set his heart upon. Now occurred a dead silence of some minutes. A steamboat rushed by. Bagshaw seized this opportunity to make a display of his scientific acquirements; and this he did with the greater avidity, as he had long wished to astonish vice-president Snodgrass. Besides, in the event of his offering to deliver a course of lectures at the institution, the vice-president might bear evidence to his capabilities for the purpose—his acquaintance not only with the facts, but with the terms of science. Whether those terms were always correctly applied, we consess ourselves not sufficiently learned to pronounce.

“How wondrous is the science of mechanism how variegated its progeny, how simple, yet how compound ! I am propelled to the consideration of this subject by having optically perceived that ingenious nautical instrument, which has just now flown along like a mammoth, that monster of the deep ! You ask me how are steam-boats propagated 7 in other words, how is such an infinite and immoveable body inveigled along its course ? I will explain it to you. It is by the power of friction: that is to say, the two wheels, or paddles, turning diametrically, or at the same moment, on the axioms, and repressing by the rotundity of their motion the action of the menstruum in which the machine floats, water being, in a philosophical sense, a powerful non-conductor, it is clear, that in proportion as is the revulsion so is the progression; and as is the centrifugal force, so is the—” “Pooh!” cried uncle John impatiently, “let us have enrne music.” “I have an apprehension, Bagshaw,” said the vice. president, “that I should not presume to dispute with you—that you are wrong in your theory of the centrifugal force of the axioms. However, we will diseuss that point at the Grand-Junction. But come, Frederick, the “Dettingen te deum.’” Frederick and the young ladies having, by many rehearsals, perfected themselves in the performance of this piece, instantly complied. Searcely had they reached the fourth bar, when Jack Richards, who had not for a long time perpetrated a joke, produced a harsh, brassy-toned, German colina, and “blew a blast so loud and shrill,” that the Dutch pug began to bark, Carlo to howl, and the other nuisance, master Charles, to cry. The German eolina was of itself bad enough, but these congregated noises were intolerable. Uncle John aimed a desperate Llow with a large apple, which he was just about to bite, at the head of Carlo, who, in order to give his lungs fair play, was standing on all sours on the hampers. The apple missed the dog, and went some distance beyond him into the water. Mr. Carlo, attributing to uncle John a kinder secling than that which actually prompted the proceeding, looked upon it as a good-natured expedient to afford him an opportunity of adding his mite to the amusements of the day, by displaying a specimen of his training. Without waiting for a second hit, he plunged into the river, seized the apple, and, paddling up the side of the boat with the prize triumphantly exhibited in his jaws, to the consternation of the whole party, he scrambled in be. tween uncle John and his master, dropped the apple upon the floor, distributed a copious supply of Thames' water amongst the affrighted beholders, squeczed his wa through them as best he could, and, with an air of . nite self-satisfaction, resumed his place on the hampers. Had Mr. Jack Richards, the owner of the dog, been at the bottom of the Thames a week before this delightful twenty-fourth, not one of the party, Mr. Richards him. self cxcepted, would have felt in the slightest degree concerned; but since, with a common regard to politeness, they could not explicitly tell him so, they contented themselves with bestowing upon Mr. Carlo every term of opprobrium, every form of execration, which good-manners will allow—leaving it to the sagacity of “the life and soul of the company” to apply them to himself, if so it might be agreeable to him. Poor fellow : he felt the awkwardness of his situation, and figuratively, as well as literally speaking, this exploit of his dog threw a damp uson him, as it had done upon every one else. For some time the pic-nics pursued their way in solemn silence. At length Bagshaw, perceiving that there would be very little pleasure if matters were allowed to go on in this way, exclaimed— “An intelligent observer, not imbued with the knowledge of our intenticns, would indicate us to be a combination of perturbed spirits, rowed by Charon across the river Tiber.” In cases of this kind, the essential is to break the ice. Tonversation was now resumed. “Ah! has” said the vice-president, “Sion-house.” “The residuum of the Northumberlands,” said Claudius, “one of the most genealogical and antique families in England.” And ner, having put forth so much classical and his. torical lore, almost in a breath, he marked his own satis

faction by a short, single cough. The vice-president said nothing, but he thought to himself, “There is much more in this Bagshaw than I suspected.” Jack Richards was up again. “Come, what's done can't be helped; but, upon my soul! I am sorry at being the innocent cause of throwing cold water on the party.” “Cold water, indeed look at me, sir,” said Miss Snubbleston, with tears in her eye and exhibiting her ci-devant shoulder-of-mutton slee 2s, which, but half an hour before, as stiff and stately as starch could make them, were now hanging loose and flabby about her skinny arms. “Too bad, Jack,” said uncle John, “to bring that cursed Carlo of yours :" Carlo, perceiving that he was the subject of conversa. tion, was instantly on his legs, his eye steadily fixed upon uncle John, evidently expecting a signal sor a second plunge. The alarm was general, and every tongue joined in the scream of “Lie down, sir! lie down :" Uncle John, who had been more than once offended by the odour from his snend's garlic sausage, and who had on each and every such occasion vented an exclamation of disgust, to the great amusement of Mr. Richards, (who chuckled with delight to think of the exchange he had secretly effected,) here, in the very middle of the stream, resolved to rid himself of the annoyance. Unperceived by any one, he gently drew the parcel from Richards' coat-pocket, and let it drop into the water . Like king Richard's pierced coffin, once in, it soon found the way to the bottom. Uncle John could scarcely restrain his inclination to laugh aloud; however, he contrived to assume an air of indifference, and whistled part of a tune.

ARRIVAL At TwickeNHAM, AND THE CATAstrophe.

Arrived at Twickenham, the boatmen were ordered to

pull up to a beautiful meadow, sloping down to the water's edge. There was no time to lose—they had no pleasure yet—so Bagshaw entreated that every one “would put |his shoulder to the wheel, and be on the qui rala.” In an instant a large heavy hamper were landed, but as, in compliance with Bagshaw's request, every one did some. thing to help, a scene of confusion was the consequence, and numerous pieces of crockery were invalided cre the cloth was properly spread, and the dishes, plates, and glasses distributed. But for the seast. Mr. Snodgrass's basket was opened, and out of it were taken four remarkably fine chickens, and a tongue—uncooked! There was but one mode of accounting for this trifling omission. Mr. Snodgrass's Betty was a downright matter-of-fact person. who obeyed orders to the very letter. Having been told, the evening before, to get sour fine chickens for roasting. together with a tongue, and to pack them, next morning, in a basket, she did so literally and strictly; but, as she had received no distinct orders to dress them, to have done so she would have deemed an impertinent departure from her instructions. Well; since people in a high state of civilization, like Mr. Claudius Bagshaw and his friends, cannot eat raw chickens, they did the only thing they could under the circumstances—they grumbled exceedingly, and put them back again into the basket. This was a serious deduction in the important point of quantity, and uncle John felt a slight touch of remorse at hav ing thrown, as he thought, his friend's Italian sausage into the Thames. However, there was still provision in the garrison. But the run of luck in events, as at a game of whist, may be against you; and when it is so, be assured that human prudence and foresight—remarkable as even Mrs. Bagshaw's, who bespoke her pigeons seven weeks before she wanted them—avail but little. When the packages were first stowed in the boat, the pigeon-pie was inadvertently placed at the bottom, and averything else, finishing with the large heezy hamper of crockery. with Carlo on that, upon it; so that when it was taken up it appeared a chaotic mass of pie-crust, broken china, pigeons, brown paper, beef-steak, eggs, and straw: “Now this is enough to provoke a saint :" said Bag

shaw ; and no one attempting to deny the position, with this salvo for his own character of philosophic patience,

[ocr errors]

he indulged himself in the full expression of his vexation and sorrow. After a minute examination, he declared the pie to be “a complete squash,” and that nobody could venture to eat it but at the imminent risk of being choked. As he was about to throw it over the hedge, Miss Snubbleston, seized with an unusual fit of generosity, called out to him— “What are you doing? Though it isn't fit for us to eat, it will be quite a treat to the poor watermen. I dare say, poor souls, the don't often get pigeon-pie.” But the good gen, of Mr. Carlo prevailed; and the truth of the adage, “’ s an ill wind that blows nobody ood,” was confirmed in his mind as he found himself usily employed in the ingenious operation of separating pigeon from porcelain. It was, doubtless, extremely illbred in one dog not to invite another, and Cupid expressed his sense of the slight by a long-continued yell, which drew down upon him, from the equally disappointed bipeds of the company, sundry wishes, the positive accomplishment of which would not have tended much to his personal happiness. The next basket was opened. Things were not altogether in a desperate state. Mr. Wrench's ham was in perfect order, and that, with Miss Snubbleston's salad, and some bread, and—could it be possible ! After so much preparation, and Mr. Bagshaw's committee of “provender” to boot, that no one should have thought of so obvious a requisite as bread! There would not be time to send Mr. Bagshaw to Twickenham town to procure some, for it was getting late, and if they lost the tide, they should be on the water till midnight, and they did not like the appearance of the sky, which was by no ineans so blue as it had hitherto been. However, the want of bread did not much signify; they could make a shift with Miss Snubbleston's biscuits and poundcakes. But uncle John did not come out on an excursion of pleasure to make shift; no more did Bagshaw, no more did any of the others. There was nothing else to be dome; so where is Miss Snubbleston's basket 7 And where is Master Charles 2 gracious ! Don't be alarmed, the precious rarity is in no danger. He was soon discovered behind a tree, whither he had dragged the fruit and cakes, and was engaged with all his might and main, in an endeavour, with a piece of stick, to force out an apple. In this attempt, as it was presently seen, the interesting child had cracked a bottle, the contenvs of which, merely a preparation of oil, vinegar, and mustard for the salad, were quietly dribbling through the pound-cakes, biscuits, and fruit. Similar aspirations to those which had lately been so cordially expressed for the Dutch pug, were now most devoutly formed in behalf of Master Charles. “This comes of bringing their plaguey brats with them,” said uncle and Bagshaw. Whilst this scene was going on, Jack Richards, perceiving that the service of the table was incomplete, bethought him of uncle John's silver handled knives and forks, and spoons; he felt first in one pocket, and then in the other, then he ran down to search the boat, then he ruminaged the baskets. “Jack, my boy,” hallooed uncle John, “don’t trouble yourself, you'll never see that again.” “What, sir?” “I could not bear the smell of it any longer, so I slyly drew it out of your pocket, and dexterously let it fall into the deepest part of the Thames.” And here uncle John chuckled, and looked about him for applause.

“Bless me, sir! Don't say so—why—bless my heart– you don't know—before we got into the boat, I put the sausage into your pocket, and your case of cutlery into my own."

There was a general burst of laughter against uncle John. He turned as pale as—nay, paler, than anything that has ever yet been dragged into the comparison; for an instant he stood stock-still, then thrust his hand into his pocket, drew forth the unfortunate substitute, and at the same time exclaiming D tion : dashed it violently to the ground. He next buttoned his coat from the bottom to the top, pulled down his cuffs, whispered to his no longer admired Jack Richards, “You shall hear from me, Mr. :” and saying alo id to Bagshaw, “This comes of your confounded party of pleasure, sir,” away he went. and returned to town outside a Twickenham coach ; resolving by the way to call out that Mr. Richards, and to eject the Bagshaws from the snug corner they held in his last will and testament. | This explosion seemed to have banished pleasure for that day. They were all, more or less, out of humour; and instead of making the best of things, as they had hitherto done, they now made the worst of them. Sir Thomas's hamper of his choice wine (which, by the by, he purchased at a cheap shop for the occasion) was opened; and slices of ham were cut with the only knife and fork. Jack Richards tried to be facetious, but it would not do. He gave Bagshaw a poke in the ribs, which was received with a very formal, “Sir, I must beg—.” To Mr. Wrench, junior, he said—

“You have not spoken much to-day—but you have made amends for your silence—d'ye take —Your ham is good, though your tongue is not worth much.”

Instead of laughing, Mr. Wrench simpered something about impertinent liberties and satisfaction. On being invited by Sir Thomas to a second glass of his old East India, he said that one was a dose—had rather not double the Cape; and at the first glass of champaigne, he in. quired whether there had been a plentiful supply of goose. | berries that year. In short, whether it were that the com: pany knew not how to appreciate his style of wit and pleasantry, or that he was in reality a very disagreeable person, the fact is that—but hold ! let us say nothing ill of him; he died last week, at Folkestone, of a surfeit of goose, in the forty-ninth year of his age. For the conso. lation of such as were amused by him, and regret his loss, be it remembered that there are still to be found many Jack Richards in this world.

As we have said, they now resolved to make the worst of every thing; the grass was damp, the gnats were troublesome, Carlo's nose was in everybody's face, Cupid's teeth at everybody's calves, and Master Charles was ill of the many sour apples; it was growing late, and no good could come of sitting longer in the open air. They re-embarked. By the time they reached Putney it was pitch dark, and the tide was setting against them. They moved on in mute impatience, for there was a slight sprinkling of rain. It now fell in torrents. Master Charles grew frightened and screamed. Cupid yelped and Carlo howled. Accompanied the rest of the way by these pleasing sounds, at one in the inorning (two hours and a half later than they intended) they arrived at West: minster-stairs, dull, ary, drowsy, discontented, and drenched.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

when the hardy plant is rifted by the thunderbolt, cling

round it with its caressing tendrils, and bind up its shattered boughs; so is it beautifully ordered by Providence, that woman, who is the mere dependant and ornament of man in his happier hours, should be his stay and solace when smitten with sudden calamity; winding herself into the rugged recesses of his nature, tenderly supporting the drooping head, and binding up the broken heart. I was once congratulating a friend, who had around him a blooming family, knit together in the strongest af. section. “I can wish you no better lot,” said he, with enthusiasm, “than to have a wife and children. If you are prosperous, there they are to share your prosperity; if otherwise, there they are to comfort you.” And, indeed, I have observed that a married man falling into misfortune, is more apt to retrieve his situation in the world than a single one; partly, because he is more stimulated to exertion by the necessities of the helpless and beloved beings who depend upon him for subsistence; but chiefly, because his spirits are soothed and relieved by domestic endearments, and his self-respect kept alive by finding, that though all abroad is darkness and humiliation, yet there is still a little world of love at home, of which he is the monarch. Whereas, a single man is apt to run to waste and self-neglect; to fancy himself lonely and abandoned, and his heart to fall to ruin, like some deserted mansion, for want of an inhabitant. These observations call to mind a little domestic story, of which I was once a witness. My intimate friend, Leslie, had married a beautiful and accomplished girl, who had been brought up in the midst of fashionable life. She had, it is true, no fortune, but that of my friend was ample ; and he delighted in the anticipation of indulging her in every elegant pursuit, and administering to those delicate tastes and fancies that spread a kind of witchery about the sex-" Her life,” said he, “shall be like a fairy tale.” The very difference in their characters produced a harmonious combination; he was of a romantic, and somewhat serious cast; she was all life and gladness. I have often noticed the mute rapture with which he would gaze upon her in company, of which her sprightly powers made her the delight; and how, in the midst of applause, her eye would still turn to him, as if there alone che sought favor and acceptance. When leaning on his arm, her slender form contrasted finely with his tall manly person. The fond confiding air with which she looked up to him * cuted to call sortin a siush of triumphant pride and ciner

Middleton.

|ishing tenderness, as if he doated on his lovely burthen for its very helplessness. Never did a couple set forward on the flowery path of early and well-suited marriage with a fairer prospect of felicity. It was the misfortune of my friend, however, to have embarked his property in large speculations; and he had not been married many months, when, by a succession of sudden disasters it was swept from him, and he sound himself reduced to almost penury. For a time he kept his situation to himself, and went about with a haggard countenance, and a breaking heart. His life was but a protracted agony; and what rendered it more insupportable was the necessity of keeping up a smile in the presence of his wife; for he could not bring himself to overwhelm her with the news. She saw, however, with the quick eyes of affection, that all was not well with him. She marked his altered looks and stifled sighs, and was not to be deceived by his sickly and vapid attempts at cheerfulness. She tasked all her sprightly powers and tender blandishments to win him back to happiness; but she only drove the arrow deeper into his soul. The more he saw cause to love her, the more torturing was the thought that he was soon to make her wretched. A little while, thought he, and the smile will vanish from that cheek—the song will die away from those lips—the lustre of those eyes will be quenched with sorrow—and the happy heart which now beats lightly in that bosom, will be weighed down, like mine, by the cares and miseries of the world. At length he came to me one day, and related his whole situation in a tone of the deepest despair. When I had heard him through, I inquired, “Does your wife know all this 7" At the question he burst into an agony of tears. “For God's sake " cried he, “if you have any pity on me, don't mention my wise ; it is the thought of her that drives me almost to madness ''' “And why not ?” said I, “She must know it sooner or later: you cannot keep it long from her, and the intelligence may break upon her in a more startling manner than if imparted by yourself; for the accents of those we love soften the harshest tidings. Besides, you are depriving yourself of the comforts of her sympathy; and not merely that, but also endangering the only bond that can keep hearts together—an unreserved community of thought and feeling. She will soon perceive that something is secretly preying upon your mind; and true love will not brook reserve: it feels undervalued and outraged, when even the sorrows of those it loves are concealed from it.” “Oh, but, my friend to think what a blow I am to give to all her future prospects—how I am to strike her very soul to the earth, by telling her that her husband is a beggar !—that she is to forego all the elegancies of life—all the pleasures of society—to shrink with me into indigence and obscurity: To tell her that I have dragged her down from the sphere in which she might have continued to move in constant brightness—the light of every eye—the admiration of every heart!—How can she bear poverty? She has been brought up in all the refinements of opulence How can she bear neglect 7 She has been the idol of society. Oh, it will break her heart—it will break her heart :"

[ocr errors]

I saw his grief was eloquent, and 1 let it have its flow ; When his paroxys. G had subsided, and he had relapsed into moody silence, I resumed the subject gently, and urged him to break his cituation at once to his wife. He shook his head mourn. fully, but positively. “But how are you to keep it from her ? It is necessary she should know it, that you may take the steps pro. per to the alteration of your circumstances. You must change your style of living—may,” observing a pang to pass across his countenance, “don’t let that afflict you. I am sure you have never placed your happiness in outward show—you have yet friends, warm friends, who will not think the worse of you for being less splendidly lodged : and surely it does not require a palace to be happy with Mary—” “I could be happy with her,” cried he convulsively, “in a hovel !--I could go down with her into pov. erty and the dust —I could—I could—God bless her — God bless her "cried he, bursting into a transport of grief and tenderness. “And believe me, my friend,” said I, stepping up, and o him warmly by the hand, “believe me, she can e the same with you. Ay, more : it will be a source of pride and triumph to her—it will call forth all the latent energies and servent sympat".es of her nature; for she will rejoice to prove that she loves you for yourself. There is in every true woman's heart a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity; but which kindles up, and beams and blazes in the dark bour of adversity. No man knows what the wife of his bosom is-no man knows what a ministering angel she is—until he has gone with her through the fiery trials of this world.” There was something in the earnestness of my manner, and the figurative style of my language, that caught the excited imagination of Leslie. I knew the auditor I had to deal with ; and following up the impression I had made, I finished by persuading him to go home and unburthen his sad heart to his wife. I must confess, notwithstanding all I had said, I felt some little solicitude for the result. Who can calculate on the fortitude of one whose whole life has been a round

of pleasures 2 Her gay spirits might revolt at the dark,

downward path of low humility, suddenly pointed out before her, and might cling to the sunny regions in which they had hitherto revelled. Besides, ruin in fashionable life is accompanied by so many galling mortifications, to which, in other ranks, it is a stranger.—In short, I could not meet Leslie, the next morning, without trepidation. He had made the disclosure. “And how did she bear it 7” “Like an angel ! It seemed rather to be a relief to her mrind, for she threw her arms round my neck, and asked if this was all that had lately made me unhappy—But, poor girl,” added he, “she cannet realize the change we must undergo. She has no idea of poverty but in the ab. stract: she has only read of it in poetry, where it is al. lied to love. She feels as yet no privation: she suffers no loss of accustomed conveniencies nor elegancies. When we come practically to experience its sordid cares, its paltry **. its petty humiliations—then will be the real trial. “But,” said I, “now that you have got over the severest ask, that of breaking it to her, the sooner you let the world into the secret the better. The disclosure may be mortifying; but then it is a single misery, and soon over; whereas you otherwise suffer it, in anticipation, cvery hour in the day. It is not poverty, so much as pretence, that harasses a ruined man—the struggle between a proud mind and an empty purse—the keeping up a hollow show that must soon come to an end. Have the courage to appear poor, and you disarm poverty of its sharpest sting.” On this point I found Leslie perfectly prepared. He had no false pride himself, and as to his wife, she was only anxious to conform to their altered fortunes. Some days afterwards, he called upon me in the evenbng. He had disposed of his dwelling-house, and taken a small cottage in the country, a few miles from town. He had been busied all day in sending out furniture. The row establishment required few articles, and those of the simplest kind. All the splendid furniture of his late resi. de-ce had been sold, excepting his wife's harp. That, he sa w was too closely associated with the idea of herself;

|

it belonged to the little story of their loves; for some of the sweetest moments of their courtship were those when he had leaned over that instrument, and listened to the melting tones of her voice. I could not but smile at this instance of romantic gallantry in a doating husband. He was now going out to the cottage, where his wife had been all day, superintending its arrangement. My feelings had become strongly interested in the progress of this family story, and as it was a fine evening, 1 offered to accompany him. He was wearied with the fatigues of the day, and as we walked out, fell into a fit of gloomy musing. “Poor Mary!” at length broke, with a heavy sigh, from his lins. 44 A. what of her,” asked I, “has any thing happened to her ?” “What,” said he, darting an impatient glance, “is it nothing to be reduced to this paltry situation—to be caged in a miserable cottage—to be obliged to toil almost in the menial concerns of her wretched habitation ?” “Has she then repined at the change 7” “Repined : she has been nothing but sweetness and good humour. Indeed, she seems in better spirits than I have ever known her; she has been to me all love, and tenderness, and comfort ‘’’ “Admirable girl " exclaimed I. “You call yourself poor, my friend; you never were so rich—you never knew the boundless treasures of excellence you possessed in that woman.” “Oh! but, my friend, if this first meeting at the cottage were over, I think I could then be comfortable. But this is her first day of real experience: she has been introduced into an humble dwelling—she has been cmployed all day in arranging its miserable equipments—she has for the first time known the fatigues of domestic employment— she has for the first time looked around her on a home destitute of everything elegant—almost of everything con: venient; and may now be sitting down, exhausted and spiritless, brooding over a prospect of future poverty.” There was a degree of probability in this picture that I could not gainsay, so we walked on in silence. After turning from the main road, tip a narrow lane, so thickly shaded by forest trees as to give it a complete air of seclusion, we came in sight of the cottage. It was humble enough in its appearance sor the most pastoral poet; and yet it had a pleasing rural look. A wild vine had overrun one end with a profusion of foliage; a few trees threw their branches gracefully over it; and I observed several pots of flowers tastefully disposed about the door, and on the grass plot in front. A small wicket-gate opened upon a footpath that wound through some shrubbery to the door. Just as we approached, we heard the sound of music—Leslie grasped my arm ; we paused and listened. It was Mary's voice, singing, in a style of the most touching simplicity, a little air of which her husband was peculiarly fond. I felt Leslie's hand tremble on my arm. He stepped forward, to hear more distinctly. His step made a noise on the gravel walk. A bright beautiful face glanced out at the window, and vanished—a light footstep was heard —and Mary came tripping forth to meet us. She was it a pretty rural dress of white; a few wild flowers were twisted in her fine air; a fresh bloom was on her cheek; her whole countenance beamed with smiles—I had never seen her look so lovely. “My dear George,” cried she, “I am so glad you are come : I have been watching and watching for you; and running down the lane, and looking out for you. I've set out a table under a beautiful tree behind the cottage; and I've been gathering some of the most delicious strawber. ries, for I know you are fond of them—and we have such excellent cream—and every thing is so sweet and still here—Oh!” said she, putting her arm within his, and looking up brightly in his face, “Oh, we shall be so happy!" Poor Leslie was overcome.—He caught her to his bosom —he folded his arms round her—he kissed her again and again—he could not speak, but the tears gushed into his eyes; and he has often assured me, that though the world has since gone prosperously with him, and his life has in deed been a happy one, yet never has he experienced a moment of more exquisite felicitv.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »