« AnteriorContinuar »
gine the rapture they excite in his at the same time with wild strawberbreast who, just escaped into the ries and waterfalls, then, indeed, none country, eagerly throws open his win- but the busy, the frivolous, or the dow the morning after his arrival, and worthless, would wish to reside in bebolds, instead of a smoky atmos- London, and the exaltation of fancy phere, close streets, and brick walls, and exhilaration of mind, produced by the fair face of Nature for which he fine views and free breezes, might be has so long been pining, which his obtained without any sacrifice worthy dreams and his imagination have for of the name. months been decking with every There is a sort of half-way between charm, and which now seems to ex- town and the country, which some asceed in loveliness all that his visions sert combines the advantages, others have portrayed or his fancy invented ? the defects, of each ; and this is a The calm pleasures of years seem country-town. Here, indeed, a little concentrated in that hour of ecstacy; money, a little learning, and a little he feels that a long exile is scarcely fashion, will go ten times as far as too dear a price for the transports of they will in London. Here, a man return, and consents almost willingly who takes in the Quarterly or Edinto purchase by renewed absence the burgh, is a literary character; the laright to a renewal of such keen and dy who has one head-dress in the vivid enjoyment. The love and long- year from a Bond-street milliner, being for a country life is often, indeed, comes the oracle of fashion, “the obcounterbalanced by the contending served of all observers ;" here dinners charms of that cultivated and inform- are talked of as excellent, at which ed society, those literary pleasures and neither French dishes nor French assistances, which, perhaps, only a wines were given, and a little raspbermetropolis can supply. The ancient, ry ice would confer wide celebrity on who praises so warmly the undisturb- an evening party, and excite much ed studies, peaceful slumbers, and animadversion and surprise. Here, simple gratifications of the country, notwithstanding a pretty strong line of repaired thither for short intervals demarcation between the different sets only from the luxury of Rome, the of society, every one appears to know splendor of the court of Augustus, and every body; the countenances and the brilliant converse of the literary names of each are familiar; we want society which adorned it. It is not no slave, who calls out the names ; only “ sad to see a noble landscape but are ready with a proper supply of without being able to say to some one condescending nods, friendly greet-What a beautiful prospect !” but ings, and kind inquiries, to dispense it is melancholy to say so to one who to each passenger according to his has no feeling for its beauties; it is claims. Indeed, in calculating the melancholy to feel that we have ideas length of time requisite for arriving at and sentiments worth communicating, a certain point, the inhabitant of a but that those about us would under- country-town should make due allowstand them little better than High ance for the necessary gossip which Dutch if communicated. Ah ! could must take place on the road, and for we transport into some remote and the frequent interchange of bulletins beautiful glen all those we love, and of health, which is sure to occur ; anda few of those we admire, perch the after a residence of any length in British Museum on an adjacent hill, these sociable places, a sensation of and persuade our favorite literary and solitude and desertion is felt in those scientific societies to hold their meet- crowded streets of our metropolis, ings in a neighboring valley, mingle where the full tide of population may the charms of human eloquence with roll past us for hours without bringing the barmonies of groves, and enjoy " the with it a single glance of recognition feast of reason and the flow of soul” or kindness. Here round games and
13 ATHENEUM, VOL. 2, 3d series.
Casino still find refuge and support ed limited to reading the Fathers, amidst a steady band of faithful parti- writing sermons, and doing his duty as zans ; here old maids escape ridicule a divine ; and he appeared of opinion from being numerous, and old bache- that no helpmate was required to fullors acquire importance from being fil them. But still the indefatigable scarce. It is, indeed, to this latter phalanx of forty-five, with three or description of persons that I would four widows as auxiliaries, continued especially recommend a residence in a their attacks, and his age, as I before country-town; and, as Dr. Johnson observed, was fatally encouraging to said, that “wherever he might dine, the hopes of each. The youngest he would wish to breakfast in Scot- looked in their glasses and rememberland :" so, wherever I may pass myed the power of youth and beauty ; youth, let my days of old bachelorship, the iniddle-aged calculated on the if to such I am doomed, be spent in a good sense and propriety of character country-town. There the genteel of their object, and were “ sure he male population forsake their birth- would never marry a girl ;" and the place at an early age ; and since war most elderly exaggerated his gravity, no longer exists to supply their place thought of his shovel hat, and seemed with the irresistible military, the im- to suppose that every woman under portance of a single man, however fifty must be too giddy for its wearer. small his attractions, however advanc- Meanwhile, what a life he led !-his ed his age, is considerable ; while a opinions law ; his wishes gospel; the tolerably agreeable bachelor under cathedral crowded when he preached; sixty is the object of universal atten- churches attended; schools visited ; tion, the cynosure of every lady's eye. waltzing calumniated ; novels concealIn the cathedral city where I visited a ed; shoulders covered ; petticoats friend some years since, there were lengthened-all to gain his approving forty-five single women, from sixteen eye. The fact is, his sphere of useto fifty, and only three marriageable ful influence was much enlarged by men. Let any one imagine the de- his single state : as a married man, light of receiving the most flattering he could only have reformed bis wife ; attentions from fifteen women at once, as a bachelor, he exercised undisputed some of them extremely pretty and power over every spinster in his neighagreeable; or, I should rather say, borhood. He was, indeed, unconfrom forty-five, since the three bache- scious of, or ungratified by the deferlors, politically avoiding all appearance ence and incense he received; but the of preference, were courted equally by generality of men are less insensible, nearly the whole phalanx of the sis- and half the homage he so carefully terhood. One of the enviable men, rejected would have been sufficient to being only just of age, was indeed too intoxicate with delight and self-comyoung to excite hopes in the more el. placency the greater part of his fraderly ladies, but another more fortu- ternity. What object in nature is nate, if he knew his happiness, (“ sua more pitiable than a London old bachsi bona norit,”) was exposed to the elor, of moderate fortune and modeattacks, more or less open, of every rate parts, whose conversational powunmarried woman. Alas ! he was in- ers do not secure him invitations to sensible to his privileges ; a steady dinners, when stiffness of limb and a man of fifty-five, a dignitary of the growing formality have obliged him to church, devoted to study, and shy in retreat from quadrilles. The rich, his habits, he seemed to shrink from we know, thrive everywhere, and at the kind attentions he received, and to all seasons, safe from neglect, secure wish for a less favored, a less glorious from ridicule.* I speak of those less state of existence. His desires seem- strongly fortified against the effects of
* “Un projet assez vain seroit de vouloir tourner un homme fort sot et fort riche en ridicule ; les rieurs sont de son cote.”
time; those who, scarcely considered with an air of triumph, and even hint good speculations in their best days, a wonder that he has given up dancare now utterly insignificant, concealed ing. To their innocent cheeks his and jostled by a crowd of younger as- glance will have the long-lost power pirants, overlooked by mammas, except of calling up a blush ; eyes as bright when needed to execute some trou- as those which beamed upon his youth blesome commission; and without a will sparkle at his approach ; and chance of receiving a single word or tender hearts, excluded by fate from glance from their daughters unmarked palpitations for a more suitable object, by that provoking ease and compas- must per force beat quicker at his adsionate familiarity, which tell them, dress. Here let him revel in the enbetter than words, that their day of joyment of unbounded influence, preinfluence has closed forever. Let serve it by careful management to the such unhappy men fly from the scenes latest possible moment, and at length of former pleasure and power, of for- gradually slide from the agreeable old mer flirtation and gaiety, to the quiet- beau into the interesting invalid, and er and surer triumphs of a country- secure for his days of gout, infirmity, town. Here crowds of young women, and sickness, a host of attentive nurses, as certainly devoted to celibacy as the of that amiable sex which delights and inmates of a nunnery, accustomed excels in offices of pity and kindness; from necessity to make beaux out of who will read him news, recount him the most unprecedented materials, and gossip, play backgammon or cribbage, concoct firtations in the most dis- knit him comfortables, make him jellies, couraging circumstances, will wel- and repay by affectionate solicitude come him with open arms, under-rate and unselfish attentions the unmeaning, his age, over-rate his merits, doubt if heartless, worthless admiration which his hair is grey, deny that he wears he bestowed upon them in his better false teeth, accept his proffered arm days.
SCRAPS FROM THE “ NOCTES."
Shepherd.-Hoo could you, Mr. North, moon on the sunny braes o' Montwi' a' your time at your ain command, Benger. keep in and about Embro’ frae May North.-Why, James, the moment to December? The city, for three I begin to press matters, she takes out months in the dead o'simmer, is like her pocket-bandkerchief-and through a tomh.
sighs and sobs, recurs to the old topic Tickler-(in a whisper to the Shep- —that twenty thousand times told herd).-The widow-James-the wi- tale- the dear old General. dow.
Shepherd.-Deevil keep the dear Shepherd-Caloud).—The weedow old General! Hasna the man been -sir-the weedow! Couldna he hae dead these twunty years? And if he brocht her out wi' hiin to the Forest ? had been leevin', wouldna be been At their time o' life, surely scandal aulder than yoursell, and far mair inwud hae held her tongue.
firm ? You're no in the least infirm, sir. Tickler.-Scandal never holds her North.---Ah, James ! that's all you tongue, James. She drops her poison know. My infirmities are increasing upon the dew on the virgin's untimely with years grave-ber breath will not let the Shepherd.—Wad you be sae unreagrey hairs rest in the mould
sonable as to expect them to decrease Shepherd.—Then, Mr. North, mar- with years ? Are her infirmitiesry her at ance, and bring her out in North.-Hush-she has no infirmiSpring, that you may pass the binney- ties.
Shepherd.-Nae infirmities ! Then tender topic, depend on't-sae that on she's no worth a brass button. But a calm and dispassionate view o' a' let me ask you ae interrogatory.—Hae the circumstances o' the case, there ye ever put the question ? Answer can be nae doot that you maun mak me that, sir.
an apology; or, if you do not, I leave North.-Why, James, I cannot say the room, and there is an end of the that I ever have
Noctes Ambrosianæ. Shepherd. What ! and you expeck North.-Rather than that should that she wull put the question to you? happen I will make a thousand apoloThat would indeed be puttin' the cart gies before the horse. If the women were Tickler.--And I ten thousand to ask the men there wad be nae leev- Shepherd.-That's behavin' like in' in this warld. Yet, let me tell men and Christians. Embrace-emyou, Mr. North, that it's a shamefu' brace. (North and Tickler embrace.) thing to keep playin' in the way you North. Where were we, James ? hae been doin' for these ten years Shepherd. I was abusin' Embro' past on a young woman's feelings— in simmer.
Tickler.-Ha-ha-ha-James ! A North. Why? young woman! Why, she's sixty, if Shepherd.-Whey ? a' the lumms she's an hour.
smokeless ! No ae jack turnin' a piece North.--You lie.
o' roastin' beef afore ae fire in ony ae Shepherd. That's a douss on the kitchen in a' the New Toon! Streets chops, Mr. Tickler. That's made and squares a' grass-grown, sae that you as red in the face as a Bubbly- they might be mown! Shops like Jock, sir. O the power o' ae wee bit bee-hives that hae de'ed in wunter ! single monosyllabic syllable o' a word Coaches settin' aff for Stirlin', and to awawken a’ the safter and a' the Perth, and Glasgow, and no ae pasfiercer passions! Dinna keep bitin' senger either inside or out-only the your thoomb, Mr. Tickler, like an driver keepin' up his heart wi' flourishItawlian. Make an apology to Mr. in' his whup, and the guard, sittin' in North
perfect solitude, playin' an eerie spring North.— I will accept of no apology. on his bugle-horn! The shut-up playThe man who calls a woman old de- house a' covered ower wi' bills that serves death.
seem to speak o plays acted in an Shepherd.-Did you call her auld, antediluvian world! Here, perhaps, Mr. Tickler ?
a leevin'creter, like ane emage, staunTickler.-To you, sir, I will con- in' at the mouth o'a close, or hirplin' descend to reply. I did not. I merely alang, like the last relic o' the plague. said she was sixty if she was an hour. And oh! but the stane-statue o' the late
Shepherd. In the first place, dinna Lord Melville, staunin' a' by himsell “ Sir” me--for it's not only ill-bred, up in the silent air, a bunder-and-fifty but it's stoopit. In the second place, feet high, bas then a ghastly seeming in dinna tawk o' "condescendin'" to re- the sky, like some giant condemned to ply to me-for that's language I'll no perpetual imprisonment on his pedesthole even frae the King on the throne, tal, and mournin' ower the desolation and I'm sure the King on the throne of the city that in life he loved so wadna mak use o't. In the third place, well. **** Then for womanto ca'a woman saxty, and then manteen kind that ye didna ca' her auld, is naething Tickler.-Oh! James ! James ! I short o'a sophism. And, in the fourth knew you would not long keep off that place, you shudna hae accompanied themeyour remark wi' a loud haw-haw Shepherd.-Oh ! ye pawkie auld haw-for on a tender topic a guffaw's carle! What ither theme in a' this an aggravation and marryin' a wi- wide weary warld is worth ae single dow, let her age be what it well, is a thocht or feelin' in the poet's heart
ae single line frae the poet's pen-ae les on's shoon--for buckles are no single
quite out yet a'thegither-a frill like North.—Song from the Shepherd's a fan at the shirt neck o' himlyre
and, wad the warld beleeve't, kneeShepherd.—The womankind, I say, breeks !-then they titter-and then sirs, never looks sae bonnie as in they lauch-and then, as musical as if wunter, accepp indeed it may be in they were singin' in pairts, the bonnie, spring
bloomin', innicent wicked creters break Tickler.-Or summer, or autumn, out into-I maunna say, o' sic rosy James
lips, and sic snawy breasts, a guffaw Shepherd.—Haud your tongue. You -but a guffay, sirs, a guffay-for that's auld bachelors ken naething o' woman- the feminine o' guffaw kind—and hoo should ye, when they North.-Tickler, we really must treat you wi' but ae feelin', that o' not allow ourselves to be insulted in derision? Oh, sirs ! but the dear cre- this style any longerters do look weel in muffs-whether S hepherd. And then awa they trip, they haud them, wi' their invisible sirs, flingin' an antelope's or gazelle's hauns clasped thegither in their beautyee ower their shouther, diverted bewithin the cozy silk linin', close prest yond measure to see their antique beau to their innicent waists, just aneath continuing at a distance to cut capers the glad beatins o' their first-love- in his pride-till a' at ance they see a touched hearts-or haud them hingin' comet in the sky—a young offisher o' frae their extended richt arms, leavin' dragoons, wi' his helmet a' in a low a' the feegur visible, that seems taller wi' a ficker o' red feathers and as and slimmer as the removed muff re- he “ turns and winds his fiery Pegasveals the clasps o' the pelisse a' the sus," they are a' mute as death-yet way doon frae neck till feet! Then, every face at the same time eloquent sir, is there, in a' the beautifu' and si- wi' mantling smiles, and wi' blushes lent unfauldin's o’ natur amang plants that break through and around the and flowers, ony thing sae beautifu' blue heavens of their een, like crimson as the white, smooth, saft chafts o' a clouds to sudden sunlight burning bit smilin' maiden o' saxteen, augh- beautiful for a moment, and then teen, or twunty, blossomin' out, like melting away like a thocht or a dream! some bonnie bud osnaw-white satin North.-Why, my dear James, it frac a coverin' o' rough leaves,-blos- does one's heart good even to be ridisomin' out, sirs, frae the edge o' the culed in the language of Poetry. Does fur-tippet, that haply a lover's happy it not, Tickler ? haun had delicately hung ower her Tickler.-James, your health, my gracefu’ shoothers--oh! the dear de- dear fellow. lightfu' little Laplander !
Shepherd. -I never ridicule ony boTickler.-For a married man, dy, sirs, that's no fit to bear it. But James, you really describe
there's some sense and some satisfacNorth.—Whisht !
tion in makin' a fule o' them, that, Shepherd.—1 wush you only heard when the fiend's in them, can mak the way the bonnie croo-din-doos keep fules o a' body, like North and murmurin' their jeists to ane anither, Tickler. as soon as a nest o' them gets rid o' an auld bacheleer on Prince's Street. Shepherd. There never was a base
Tickler.-Gets rid o' an auld ba- less fiction. cbelor!
North.-No fiction, unless imposed Shepherd.-Booin' and scrapin' to by authority on the conscience of men, them after the formal and stately fa- could ever obtain general credence, shion o' the auld school o' politeness, if it be pot symbolical of truth. and thinking himsell the very pink o' Shepherd.--Truth's the essencecoortesy, wi' a gold-headed cane aib- Fiction the form. lins, nae less, in his haun', and buck