« AnteriorContinuar »
vant, and my peculiar department is understood to be, that of keeping Mrs. Tempest quiet, or easy, as it is called; a task far harder than falls to the lot of any other of the household. I strive all I can to please her: but alas ! to what purpose, when I have hourly the mortification to find, that I shock and discompose some refined and sublimated feeling, which I have not the least conception of? How to behave on these occasions I know not. For if I say nothing I am sullen: if I explain but ever so gently, my violence is intolerable; and if I make acknowledgments, my submission is feigned ; which I find, to a person of sentiment, is of all things the most provoking.
I am afraid I grow tedious ; but it is some relief to speak of one's hardships. The publication of them, if of no use to me, may possibly be a lesson to some others; for I am afraid Mrs. Tempest may not be the only lady who gives the name of strong feelings to her strong passions, and lays claim to su. perior tenderness, on the ground of feeling more than common for herself. I remain, Sir, with all respect,
I have taken the first opportunity of publishing Mrs. Waitfort's letter, as I sincerely compassionate the unhappiness of her situation. Nothing is so provoking as this refined ill-humour, which takes the merit of sensibility from selfishness, and feels for every distress but those which it might cure.
Sentiment and feeling, however, had their day, but are now almost quite out of fashion. Mrs. Tempest may be told, that she might as well come to a modern assembly in the stiff brocade of her youthful birth-day balls, as put on, in these times, the affectation of sensibility for an ornament. Our fashionable ladies have brought up Indifference with their gauzes and feathers ; both (in the words of my friend the milliner of Prince's-Street) • light easy wear, and fit for all seasons.'
But not equally fit for all conditions. The highest fashions must always properly belong to certain orders of the people. This ease and indifference, in their greatest extent, should only be worn by privi. leged persons. It might not be amiss, if, like the rouge of the French, they were put on by married women only, who may be supposed to bestow all their feelings at home; or by ladies of very high rank, who (as travellers tell us of that calm that reigns on the summit of the Alps) have got into a superior region, undisturbed by the emotions of ordinary life. Something too might be claimed by beauty, to which coldness or indifference is perhaps a safe, and has long been an acknowledged attendant. All things considered, I think the young lady who sat in one of the side boxes t'other evening, who was so immoderately diverted with the distresses of the Tragedy, and preserved such an obstinate gravity during the drolleries of the farce, carried her no-feelings a little too far.
N° 56. SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 1786.
Quæ virtus et quanta, boni, sit vivere pårvo,
To the Author of the LOUNGER.
SIR, I TROUBLED you some time ago with a letter from the country; now that I am come to town, I use the freedom to write to you again. I find the same difficulty in being happy, with every thing to make me so here as there. When I tell this to my country friends, they won't believe me. Lord ! how the Miss Homespuns looked when they came to take leave of me the morning we set out for Edinburgh ;-I had just put on my new riding-habit which
brother fetched me from London; and my hat, with two green and three white feathers; and Miss Jessy Homespun admired it so much ! and when I let her put it on, she looked in the glass, and said with a sigh, how charming it was ! I had
la sad headach with it all morning, but I kept that * 'to myself. “And do, my dear, (said she,) write
sometimes to us poor moping creatures, in the country. But you won't have leisure to think of us; you will be so happy, and so much amused.' At that moment my brother's post coach rattled up to the door, and the poor Homespuns cried so when we parted ! To be sure, they thought that a town life with my brother's fortune to procure all its amusements, must be quite delightful. -Now, Sir, to let you know how I have found it.
I was content to be lugged about by my sister for the first week or two, as I knew that in a large town I should be like a fish out of water, as the saying is. But
my sister-in-law was always putting me in mind of my ignorance : 'and you country girls,—and we who have been in London,—and we who have been abroad.' _However, between ourselves, I don't find that she knows quite so much as she would make me believe : for it seems they can't learn many things in the Indies; and when she went out she knew as little as myself; and as for London, she was only a fortnight there on her way home.
So we have got masters that come in to give us lessons in French, and music, and dancing. The two first I can submit to very well. I could always get my tongue readily enough about any thing; and I could play pretty well on the virginals at home, though my master says my fingering is not what it should be. But the dancing is a terrible business. My sister-in-law and I are put into the stocks every morning to teach us the right position of our feet ; and all the steps I was praised for in the country are now good for nothing, as the cotillon step is the only thing fit for people of fashion ; and so we are twisted and twirled till my joints ache again ; and after all, we make, I believe, a very
bad figure at it. Indeed I have not yet ventured to try my hand, my feet I mean, before any body. But my sister-in-law, who is always praised for every thing she does, would needs try her cotillon steps at the assembly ; and her partner Captain Coupée, a constant visitor at my brother's, told her what an admirable dancer she was ; but in truth she was out of time every instant, and I heard the people titter, ing at her country Aling as they called it. And so in the same manner (which I do not think is at all fair, Mr. Lounger) the Captain one day at our
house swore she sung like an angel (drinking her health in a bumper of my brother’s champaign ; and yet as I walked behind him next morning in Prince'sstreet, I overheard him saying to one of his companions, that Mushroom's dinners were damn’d good things, if it were not for the bore of the singing ; and that the little Nabobina squalled like a pea-hen.
But no doubt it is good manners to commend people to their faces, whatever one may say behind their backs. And I perceive they have got fashionable words for praising things, which it is one of my sister's lessons and mine to have at our tongues ends, whether we think so or not. Such a thing, she tells me (as she has been taught by her great companion Miss Gusto) must be charming, another ravishing (indeed, Mr. Lounger, that is the word), and a third divine. As for me, I have yet got no farther than charming ; I can only say ravishing in a whisper ; and as for divine, I think there is something Heathenish in it: though indeed I have been told, since I came here, that the Commandments were only meant for the country.
Here, as before, comme il faut (I can spell the words now that I am turned a French scholar) is still held out as a law to us. We have besides got another phrase, which is perpetually dinned into my ears by my sister-in-law, and that is the Ton. Such a person is a very good kind of a person, but such another is more the Ton: such a lady is handsomer, more witty, more polite, and more good-humoured than another; but that other is much more the Ton. I have often asked my sister, and even my French master, to explain the meaning of this word Ton; but they told me there was no translation for it. I think, however, I have found it out to be a very convenient thing for some people.
'Tis like what iny grandfather, who was a great admirer of John