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think of our own starving manufacturers, or to suppose that the crimes and miseries produced by smuggling are at all attributable to those who purchase contraband goods: French silks must be worn, though every gown should cost a life; and as to Mechlin-lace veils, they are worth a world in ruins. All this is natural and usual; and to those who blame the gentle sex for doing all the little in their power to ruin their country, I can only say that we are every one of us subject to imperfections, and that
“ She that has none, and lives as angels do,
Must be an angel-but what's that to you." My present partner's Gallic tastes far exceeded these ordinary limits. To her there was nothing beautiful in English scenery, or English architecture; for her, English musicians played, and English actors toiled in vain; London ice did not cool her tongue, nor London cookery please her palate; no watch went well, no gown sat well that was not of Parisian make; every Frenchman was agreeable, every French woman naive, piquante, or spirituelle; and there was in the air and manners of them all a je ne sais quoi, which surpassed description and baffled praise. French literature was not forgotten: “ Mathilde” was the prettiest novel ever written; she started in angry amazement when I preferred Shakspeare to Racine, and I suppose would have been equally indignant could she have heard my opinion of the “ Henriade.” However, as I had no wish to irritate her, I avoided all unnecessary contradiction, and I believe she did not think me more disagreeable than the rest of my fellow countrymen. We parted tolerable friends, and I suppose I shall soon hear that she has turned Atheist or Roman Catholic, in compliment to the land of her love, or eloped with a French valet or an exhibitor of dancing dogs.
Tired and feverish I returned home, saw the first beautiful streaks of coming day, and with parched lips, aching temples, and burning eyes, retired to my bed, and obtained a few hours of restless and unrefreshing sleep. I saw gay forms confusedly moving before me, heard again the tones of the music, and was troubled by many wild and ridiculous dreams. First I saw a high stage, on which those elegant females who frequent fairs were exhibiting their dancing powers ; among them, one poor panting girl, urged to continued exertion by the application of a long whip, was apparently in danger of breaking a bloodvessel; indignant, I rushed forward to stop the barbarous strokes of her tormentor, when suddenly I recognised the features of one of my partners; but before I could speak to her, I found myself transported to a wood, the trees of which were covered with an astonishing number of magpies, who, some one informed me, had just been electing a queen. I was introduced to her chattering majesty, and thought that the tones of her voice were familiar to me, when suddenly, as I was about to commence a conversation, some one blew the French horn so long and so loudly in my ear, that, distracted by the noise, I awoke.
I arose with heavy eyelids, and brains unfit for study, and resolved to give myself the relaxation of a visit to my family, and to enjoy the first bright days of summer, where alone summer can be really enjoyed, in the country. My journey afforded no incident worth relating; my travelling companions differed little in their leading characteristics from all the others I had ever travelled with; the ladies, as usual, had never been in a stage-coach before; every one talked of family affairs, told family occurrences; and those who had by chance once spoken to a lord, or dined with a baronet, were careful to mention the important circumstance in a tone of utter unconcern. As I got further from the influence of London smoke, I derived refreshment from the country breezes, my headache took to flight, and my senses awoke to the full enjoyment of rural sights and sounds. At length, I alighted at the corner of the lane which led from the high road to my mother's house, that well-known corner which had seen me arrive from Westminster and from Oxford, and was now as dear to the man as it had ever been to the merry schoolboy, or the smart collegian. My visit being unexpected, no servant was in readiness to carry my portmanteau, nor were white garments to be seen mingling with the trees beyond, telling me that some kind faces would soon greet my arrival.
Two or three of my sisters generally came to meet me, accompanied me in my walk home,“ varioque viam sermone levabant.” My present walk, though solitary, was delightful. Often I stopped to look about me, to inhale breezes so fresh and sweet, to listen to the cawing of the rook, or the evening song of the lark; and once I stood for some minutes leaning on a stile, charmed, enchanted by the prospect before me; and yet it was a prospect of no uncommon beauty, one that may be seen any where, every where, in the country. Two or three bright green meadows, some spreading elms, hedge-rows white with May-blossom, a few light mountain-ash and feathery birch, pencilled as it were on the glowing horizon, where the sun was setting gloriously—these were the principal features of the view; but their combination was delightful, and produced that instantaneous rush of pleasure, that burst of cheerfulness and admiration and pious gratitude, which we sometimes feel excited as by magic in our breasts. I rejoiced in my situation, rejoiced at my power of enjoying, and stood in a happy state of ecstasy, my thoughts wandering over earth, then mounting to Heaven, while I resigned myself unhesitatingly to feelings half animal, half intellectual, but which I felt to be natural, and I knew to be right. I pitied those who in this sweet season were confined by duty or by business to a London life; still more did I pity those who are retained there by inclination: the first cannot see because light is excluded; but the latter must be blind even when the sun shines upon them. At length I continued my walk, and, from a gate leading into a field, which slopes gradually down from our garden, I'obtained the first sight of my home. It is but an humble habitation; yet I could say, with the proverb, “ Casa mia, casa mia, per piccina che tu sia, tu mi pari una badia.” It was that dear place whither I might fly in sickness for the most careful nurses, and in sorrow for the kindest comforters; where all my tastes were known, all my whims indulged; where my faults were unperceived or unremembered; and where, even if disgraced and dishonoured, I should be received more in sorrow than in anger, should meet more tears than reproaches.
I opened the swing-gate, passed through it, and let it slam violently behind me. The noise brought, as I had expected, a few young faces to the parlour-window. I could fancy their puzzled glances as they scanned the figure of their visiter; and I saw the start of joy with which they darted out of sight. In half a minute the lawn was covered with a band of racers; I quickened my steps, and at the garden-gate was welcomed by four fair sisters and two young brothers. Ours was no cold or polished meeting; there were shakes of the hand which threatened dislocation, kisses that might be heard as well as felt, eyes swimming with joy, and rapid exclamations of surprise and pleasure. Oh! it was worth coming a thousand miles to be thus kindly received! I walked to the house, a girl clinging to either arm, and I thought I remarked something smarter than usual in their attire; my brothers’ hands too were remarkably clean, and my younger sisters wore their long white sashes, and bright cornelian necklaces.
“ Have you company to-night, Jane?"
“Only a little party. We did not expect you, you know, or we would have had the first evening to ourselves; but they are all old friends, will all be delighted to see you."
“ William,” just then exclaimed my youngest brother, a boy about eight years old, “ do you know, John's black terrier killed such a large rat in the barn last week; and Sir Thomas's gamekeeper has promised to give me such a beautiful pointer puppy."
As he concluded this important information I entered the house, and was met in the hall by my dear excellent mother, whose welcome, calm as it was, was tenderly affectionate.
Apologizing for my traveller's dress, I shook hands with a dozen old and young friends in the parlour, and looking around me, saw that every thing was in company array. There were not indeed tables covered with grotesque figures, nor cabinets full of costly trifles, nor rows of cut-glass smelling-bottles, nor any of those superfluities which denote, or ought to denote, immense wealth; but the books were neatly arranged, the covers removed from the skreens, blooming greenhouse-plants stood in the windows, and fresh flowers filled the china vases. I sat down to the tea-table in a humour to be pleased with every thing; bade defiance to Mr. Accum, ate bread without alum, butter without lard, and drank cream unthickened by chalk. Every thing tasted wholesome and pleasant; every thing looked clean and inviting ; the snowy robes around me excited my admiration; and the fresh and rosy cheeks, the easy artless manners every moment reminded me that I was fifty miles from London. I spent a delightful evening; I enjoyed the society of my old acquaintance, and yet it did not boast much novelty, or convey much information : wit was limited to a few puns, and genius, talent, intellect, if they existed, were in a dormant state. I heard many lamentations over the late arrival of the summer, and speculations about the commencement of hayharvest ; seven times I was told that it had snowed on the 26th of May; twenty times was I likened to each of my brothers and sisters; one lady deplored the rarity of good yeast, another gave a mournful history of a mortality among her poultry; and all joined in angry chorus when the crimes of servants were mentioned; all reprobated the peculation, the untidiness, the ingratitude, the fondness for followers, to which the whole race was subject, except some “real treasure,” or “ faithful creature,” whom each lady had once possessed.
While such “high converse” passed among our elders, the younger guests, my sisters, and I were chattering a little about new books, and a great deal about new fashions. I verily believe women, if banished to Siberia, would beg their friends to send them the newest patterns; and if living, like Crusoe, on a desert island, would contrive to cut their deer-skin the last Parisian mode. I am sorry to say that my poor sisters, residing in a small village far from any large town, were lamentably ignorant on many important subjects. They did not know that trains were worn; and when I told them they ought to wear a corsage à l'antique, sleeves à la vierge, trimmed with gauze à la bouffant, and a zone à la zephyre, they positively did not know what I meant. This was all bad enough, but one instance of rusticity I am almost ashamed to relate : my sister Jane suddenly said to me,“ Oh, William, can you tell us what Roman punch is ?” This was too much, and distressed by her ignorance I turned the conversation.
Nevertheless I was pleased and happy ; I liked my mother's guests, and enjoyed their society. Perhaps the reason of this partial feeling towards people of no consequence, who never gave grand assemblies, never got into debt, never went to the opera, never neglected their families, never were recorded in the Morning Post as "constellations in the fashionable hemi
sphere,” may, in some degree, be traced to my self-love and vanity. To them I was a person of consequence, not an insignificant barrister; they can remember my name, which half of my London friends forget; they knew whether I was in the room or out of it; they would lend me a guinea if I were in distress, and would say they were sorry if they heard I had broken my neck. In all these respects they surpassed my London acquaintance, and, therefore, I forgave them for being less fine, less fashionable, and less foolish. I spent three happy days with my family, and bade them farewell with a regret to which my sense of duty was the only alleviation, and a powerful alleviation it was. I am once more settled in my chambers, have once more lighted my fires, am abusing our climate all day long, and saying with Lord Byron in Beppo,
“I like the weather when it's not too cold,
Now, noble peers, the cause why we are met,
-When is the royal day?-RICHARD III. Of the imposing ceremony that is shortly to regale all eyes, either through the more direct and favoured medium of personal observation, or the ingenuity of our artists, and the descriptive powers of the public press, we shall not presume to set before our readers any thing like a regular programine.
It is for the conductors of such a festival to furnish the
bill of fare, in folio, or in quarto, as to the duty and dignity of the several guests appertaineth.* We only claim to have been enjoying ourselves amongst the historical recipes of former periods, and to furnish a whet to the public appetite in the shape of a few light dishes, made up from the copious records of the royal day which have come down to us.
And first, gentle reader, let not miracles astound thee-as contributing essentially to the dignity of England's monarch on this occasion. He is enthroned, thou knowest, as a king; but when thou shalt further understand that he is anointed with “ holy oil,” as “ kings and prophets were anointed;" that he is arrayed, at the time of his coronation, “ as a bishop that should
* Thus we have “Orders to be observed on Tuesday the 220 September, be. ing the day appointed for their Majesties' Coronation,” London, 1761, folio ; and “The Form and Order of the Service that is to be performed, and of the Ceremonies that are to be observed in the Coronation of their Majesties King George III. and His Royal Consort, Queen Charlotte.” 1761, quarto-to say nothing of the magnificent folio of “ Sandford,” and the recently published Ms.of Sir Edward Walker, Garter Principal King at Arms at the Coronation of Charles II., with Plates of the Regalia.