« AnteriorContinuar »
the train of agreeable reveries we called up for our entertainment. We looked upon our fortunes as once more rising ; aud as the whole parish asserted that the Squire was in love with my daughter, she was actually so with him ; for they persuaded her into the passion. In this agreeable interval, my wife had the most lucky dreams in the world, which she took care to tell us every morning with great solemnity and exactness. It was one night a coffin and cross-bones, the sign of an approaching wedding; at another time she imagined her daughters' pockets filled with farthings, a certain sign of their being shortly stuffed with gold. The girls themselves had their omens. They felt strange kisses on their lips ; they saw rings in the candle ; purses bounced from the fire, and true love-knots lurked in the bottom of every teacup.
Towards the end of the week we received a card from the two ladies, in which, with their compliments, they hoped to see all our family at church the Sunday following. All Saturday morning I could perceive, in consequence of this, my wife and daughters in close conference together, and now and then glancing at me with looks that betrayed a latent plot.
To be sincere, I had strong suspicions that some absurd proposal was preparing for appearing with splendour the next day. In the evening they began their operations in a very regular manner, and my wife undertook to conduct the siege. After tea, when I seemed in spirits, she began thus " I fancy, Charles, my dear, we shall have a great deal of good company at our church to-morrow.”
Perhaps we may, my dear," returned I, “ though you need be under no uneasiness about that; you shall have a sermon whether there be or not.”. “ That is what I expect,” returned she ; " but I think, my dear, we ought to appear there as decently as possible, for who knows what may happen ?”—“ Your precautions,” replied I, “ are highly commendable. A decent behaviour and appearance in church is what charms me. We should be devout and humble, cheerful and serene.' -“ Yes,” cried she, “ I know that; but I mean we should go there in as proper a manner as possible ; not altogether like the scrubs about us." “ You are quite right, my dear,” returned I, “ and I was going to make the very same proposal. The proper manner of going is, to go there as early as possible, to have time for meditation before the service begins,"_" Phoo, Charles,"
interrupted she, “ all that is very true ; but not what I would be at : I mean, we should go there genteely. You know the church is two miles off, and I protest I don't like to see my daughters trudging up to their pew all blowzed and red with walking, and looking for all the world as if they had been winners at a smock race. Now, my dear, my proposal is this : there are our two plough horses, the colt that has been in our family these nine years, and his companion Blackberry, that has scarcely done an earthly thing for this month past. They are both grown fat and lazy. Why should not they do something as well as we? And let me tell
you, when Moses has trimmed them a little, they will cut a very tolerable figure.”
To this proposal I objected, that walking would be twenty times more genteel than such a paltry conveyance, as Blackberry was wall-eyed, and the colt wanted a tail ; that they had never been broke to the rein, but had a hundred vicious tricks ; and that we had but one saddle and pillion in the whole house. All these objections, however, were overruled ; so that I was obliged to comply. The next morning I perceived them not a little busy in collecting such materials as might be necessary for the expedition ; but as I found it would be a business of time, I walked on to the church before, and they promised speedily to follow. I waited near an hour in the reading desk for their arrival ; but not finding them come as I expected, I was obliged to begin, and went through the service, not without some uneasiness at finding them absent. This was increased when all was finished, and no appearance of the family. I therefore walked back by the horse-way, which was five miles round, though the foot, way was but two, and when got about half way home, perceived the procession marching slowly forward towards the church ; my son, my wife, and the two little ones, exalted on one horse, and my two daughters upon the other. I demanded the cause of their delay ; but I soon found by their looks they had met with a thousand misfortunes on the road. The horses had at first refused to move from the door, till Mr Burchell was kind enough to beat them forward for about two hundred yards with his cudgel. Next, the straps of my wife's pillion broke down, and they were obliged to stop to repair them before they could proceed. After that, one of the horses took it into his head to stand still, and neither blows nor entreaties could prevail with him
to proceed. He was just recovering from this dismal situation when I found them : but perceiving every thing safe, I own their present mortification did not much displease me, as it would give many opportunities of future triumph, and teach my daughters more humility.
THE FAMILY STILL RESOLVE TO HOLD UP THEIR HEADS.
MICHAELMAS-Eve happening on the next day, we were invited to burn nuts and play tricks at neighbour Flamborough’s. Our late mortifications had humbled us a little, or it is probable we might have rejected such an invitation with contempt : however, we suffered ourselves to be happy: Our honest neighbour's goose and dumplings were fine, and the lamb's wool, even in the opinion of my wife, who was a connoisseur, was excellent. It is true, his manner of telling stories was not quite so well. They were very long, and very dull, and all about himself, and we had laughed at them ten times before : however, we were kind enough to laugh at them once more.
Mr Burchell, who was of the party, was always fond of seeing some innocent amusement going forward, and set the boys and girls to blind man's buff. My wife, too, was persuaded to join in the diversion, and it gave me pleasure to think she was not yet too old. In the meantime, my neighbour and I looked on, laughed at every feat, and praised our own dexterity when we were young. Hot cockles succeeded next, questions and commands followed that, and, last of all, they sat down to hunt the slipper. As every person may not be acquainted with this primeval pastime, it may be necessary to observe, that the company in this play plant themselves in a ring upon the ground, all except one, who stands in the middle, whose business it is to catch a shoe, which the company shove about under their hams from one to another, something like a weaver's shuttle. As it is impossible, in this case, for the lady who is up to face all the company at once, the great beauty of the play lies in hitting her a thump with the heel of the shoe on that side least capable of making a defence. It was in this manner that my eldest daughter was hemmed in, and thumped about, all blowzed, in spirits, and bawling for fair play, with a voice that might deafen a ballad-singer; when, confusion on confusion! who should enter the room but our two great acquaintances from town, Lady Blarney and Miss Carolina Wilelmina Amelia Skeggs! Description would but beggar, therefore it is unnecessary to describe, this new mortification. Death! To be seen by ladies of such high breeding in such vulgar attitudes ! Nothing better could ensue from such a vulgar play of Mr Flamborough's proposing. We seemed stuck to the ground for some time, as if actually petrified with amazement.
The two ladies had been at our house to see us, and finding us from home, came after us hither, as they were uneasy to know what accident could have kept us from church the day before. Olivia undertook to be our prolocutor, and delivered the whole in a summary way, only saying, “We were thrown from our horses." At which account the ladies were greatly concerned; but being told the family received no hurt, they were extremely glad ; but being informed that we were almost killed by the fright, they were vastly sorry ; but hearing that we had a very good night, they were extremely glad again. Nothing could exceed their complaisance to my daughters : their professions the last evening were warm, but now they were ardent. They protested a desire of having a more lasting acquaintance. Lady Blarney was particularly attached to Olivia ; Miss Carolina Wilelmina Amelia Skeggs (I love to give the whole name) took a greater fancy to her sister. They supported the conversation between themselves, while my daughters Sat silent, admiring their exalted breeding. But as every reader, however beggarly himself, is fond of highlived dialogues, with anecdotes of lords, ladies, and knights of the Garter, I must beg leave to give him the concluding part of the present conversation.
« All that I know of the matter," cried Miss Skeggs, “ is this, that it may be true, or it may not be true; but this I can assure your Ladyship, that the whole rout was in amaze: his Lordship turned all manner of colours, my Lady fell into a sound, but Sir Tomkyn, drawing his sword, swore he was hers to the last drop of his blood.”
“ Well,” replied our Peeress, “this I can say, that the Duchess never told me a syllable of the matter, and I believe
her Grace would keep nothing a secret from me. This you may depend upon as fact, that the next morning my Lord Duke cried out three times to his valet-de-chambre, Jernigan! Jernigan! Jernigan! bring me my garters.” But previously I should
have mentioned the very impolite behaviour of Mr Burchell, who, during this discourse, sat with his face turned to the fire, and, at the conclusion of every sentence, would cry out“ Fudge!” an expression which displeased us all, and, in some measure, damped the rising spirit of the conversation.
“ Besides, my dear Skeggs," continued our Peeress, " there is nothing of this in the copy of verses that Dr Burdock made upon the occasion.”. Fudge !”
“ I am surprised at that,” cried Miss Skeggs; " for he seldom leaves any thing out, as he writes only for his own amusement. But can your Ladyship favour me with a sight of them ?”. Fudge!"
My dear creature,” replied our Peeress, “ do you think I carry such things about me? Though they are very fine, to be sure, and I think myself something of a judge-at least I know what pleases myself. Indeed, I was ever an admirer of all Dr Burdock's little pieces; for, except what he does, and our dear Countess at Hanover Square, there's nothing comes out but the most lowest stuff in nature; not a bit of high life among them.”: Fudge!"
“ Your Ladyship should except,” says the other,“ your own things in the Lady's Magazine. I hope you 'll say there's nothing low-lived there? But I suppose we are to have no more from that quarter ?”—“ Fudge!"
Why, my dear,” says the lady, “ you know my reader and companion has left me, to be married to Captain Roach, and as my poor eyes won't suffer me to write myself
, I have been for some time looking out for another. A proper person is no easy matter to find; and, to be sure, thirty pounds a-year is a small stipend for a well bred girl of character, that can read, write, and behave in company: as for the chits about town, there is no bearing them about one."-" Fudge!"
“ That I know," cried Miss Skeggs,“ by experience. For of the three companions I had this last half year, one of them refused to do plain work an hour in a day; another thought twenty-five guineas a-year too small a salary; and I was obliged to send away the third, because I suspected