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THE COCKLOFT FAMILY.
The Cockloft family, of which I have made such frequent mention, is of great antiquity, if there be any truth in the genealogical tree which hangs up in my cousin's library. They trace their descent from a celebrated Roman Knight, cousin to the progenitor of his Majesty of Britain, who left his native country on occasion of some disgust; and coming into Wales, became a great favourite of Prince Madoc, and accompanied that famous argonaut in the voyage which ended in the discovery of this continent.—Though a member of the family, I have sometimes ventured to doubt the authenticity of this portion of their annals, to the great vexation of cousin Christopher, who is looked up to as the head of our house; and. who, though as orthodox as a bishop, would sooner give up the whole decalogue than lop off a single limb of the family tree. From time immemorial, it has been the rule for the Cocklofts to marry one of their own name; and as they always bred like rabbits, the family has increased and multiplied like that of Adam and Eve. In truth their number is almost incredible; and you can hardly go into any part of the country without starting a warren of genuine Cocklofts. Every person of the least observation, or experience, must have observed that where this practice of marrying cousins, and second cousins, prevails in a family, every member, in the course of a few generations, becomes queer, humourous, and original; as much distinguished from the common race of mongrels as if he were of a different species. This has happened in our family, and particularly in that branch of it of which Christopher Cockloft, Esq. is the head-Christopher, is, in fact, the only married man of the name who resides in town; his family is small, having lost most of his children when young, by the excessive care be took to bring them up like vegetables. This was one of the first whimwhams, and a confounded one it was; as his children might have told, had they not fallen victims to his ex
periment before they could talk. He had got, from some quack philosopher or other, a notion that there was a complete analogy between children and plants, and that they ought to be both reared alike. Accordingly he sprink. led them every morning with water, laid them out in the sun, as he did his geraniums; and if the season was remarkably dry, repeated this wise experiment three or four times of a morning. The consequence was, the poor little souls died one after the other, except Jeremy and his two sisters; who, to be sure, are a trio of as odd, runty, mummy-looking originals as ever Hogarth fancied. in his most happy moments. Mrs. Cockloft, the larger if not the better half of my cousin, often remonstrated against this vegetable theory ;--and even brought the par-, son of the parish, in which my cousin's country house is situated, to her aid; but in vain, Christopher persisted, and attributed the failure of his plan to it not having been exactly conformed to. As I have mentioned Mrs. Cockloft, I may as well say a little more about her while I am in the humour. She is a lady of wonderful notability, a warm admirer of shining mahogany, clean hearths and her husband: whom she considers the wisest man in the world, bating Will Wizard and the parson of our parish; the last of whom is her oracle on all occasions. She goes constantly to church every Sunday and saint's day, and insists upon it that no man is entitled to ascend a pulpit unless he has been ordained by a bishop; nay, so far does she carry her orthodoxy, that all the arguments in the world will never persuade her that a Presbyterian or Baptist, or even a Calvinist, has any possible chance of going to heaven. Above every thing else, however she abhors Paganism; can scarcely refrain from laying violent hands on a Pantheon when she meets with it; and was very nigh going into hysterics, when my cou, sin insisted that one of his boys should be christened after our laureate, because the parson of the parish had told ber that Pindar was the name of a Pagan writer, famous for his love of boxing-matches, wrestling, and horse-racing. To sum up all her qualifications in the shortest. possible way, Mrs. Cockloft is, in the true sense of the
phrase, a good sort of a woman; and I often congratulate my cousin on possessing her. The rest of the family consists of Jeremy Cockloft, the younger, who has already been mentioned, and the two Miss Cocklofts, or rather the young ladies, as they have been called hy the servants time out of mind; not that they are really young, the younger being somewhat on the shady side of thirtybut it has ever been the custom to call every member of the family young under fifty. In the south-east corner of the house, I hold quiet possession of an old-fashioned apartment, where myself and my elbow-chair are suffered to amuse ourselves undisturbed, save at meal times. This apartment old Cockloft has facetiously denominated Cousin Launce's Paradise; and the good old gentleman has two or three favourite jokes about it, which are served up as regularly as the standing family-dish of beef. steaks and onions, which every day maintains its station at the foot of the table, in defiance of mutton, poultry, or even venison itself.
Though the family is apparently small, yet, like most old establishments of the kind, it does not want for hon. orary members.
It is the city rendezvous of the Cocklofts; and we are continually enlivened by the company of half a score of uncles, aunts, and cousins in the fortieth remove, from all parts of the county, who profess a wonderful regard for Cousin Christopher; and overwhelm every member of his household, down to the cook in the kitchen, with their attentions. We have for three weeks past been greeted with the company of two worthy old spinsters, who came down from the country to settle a law suit. They have done little else but retail stories of their village neighbours, knit stockings, and take snuff, all the time they have been here: the whole family are bewildered with church-yard tales of sheeted ghosts, white horses without heads, and with large goggle eyes in their buttocks; and not one of the old servants dare budge'an inch after dark without a numerous company at his heels. My cousin's visitors, however, always return his hospi. tality with due gratitude, and now and then remind him of their fraternal regard, by a present of a pot of apple
sweetmeats, or a barrel of sour cider at Christmas.
Jeremy displays himself to great advantage among his country relations, who all think him a prodigy, and often stand astounded, in “ gaping wonderment,” at his natural philosophy. He lately frightened a simple old uncle almost out of his wits, by giving it as his opinion that the earth would one day be scorched to ashes by the. eccentric gambols of the famous comet, so much talked of; and positively asserted that this world revolved round the sun, and that the moon was certainly inhabited.
The family mansion bears equal marks of antiquity with its inhabitants. As the Cocklofts are remarkable for their attachment to every thing that has remained long in the family, they are bigoted towards their old edifice, and I dare say would sooner have it crumble, about their ears than abandon it. The consequence is, it has been so patched up and repaired, that it has become as full of whims and oddities as its tenants; requires to be nursedand humoured like a gouty old codger of an alderman; and reminds one of the famous ship. in which a certain admiral circumnavigated the globe, which was so patched and timbered, in order to preserve, so great a curiosity, that at length not a particle of the original remained. Whenever the wind blows, the old mansion makes a most perilous groaning; and every storm is sure to make a day's work for the carpen-, ter, who attends upon it as regularly as the family physician. This predilection for every thing that has been, long in the family shows itself in every particular. The domestics are all grown grey in the service of our house. We have a little, old, crusty, grey-headed negro, w.ho has lived through two or three generations of the Cocklofts, and, of course, has become a personage of no little importance in the household. He calls all the family by their christian names; tells long stories about how he dandled them on his knee when they were children: and is a complete Cockloft chronicle for the last seventy years. The family carriage was made in the last French war and the old horses were most indubitably foaled in Noah's ark-resembling marvellously, in gravity of de
meanour, those sober animals which may be seen any day of the year in the streets of Philadelphia, walking their snail's pace, a dozen in a row, and harmoniously jingling their bells. Whim-whams are the inheritance of the Cocklofts, and every member of the household is a humourist sui generis, from the master down to the foot
The very cats and dogs are humourists; and we have a little runty scoundrel of a cur, who, whenever the church bells ring, will run to the street door, turn up his nose in the wind, and howl most piteously. Jeremy insists that this is owing to a peculiar delicacy in the organization of his ears, and supports his position by many learned arguments which nobody can understand; but I am of opinion that it is a mere Cockloft whim-wham, which the little car indulges, being descended from a race of dogs which has flourished in the family ever since the time of my grandfather. A propensity to save every thing that bears the stamp of family antiquity has accumulated an abundance of trumpery and rubbish with which the house is encumbered, from the cellar to the garret; and every room, and closet, and corner, is crammed with three-legged chairs, clocks without hands, swords without scabbards, cocked hats, broken candle sticks, and looking glasses with frames carved into fantastic shapes, of feathered sheep, wooly birds, and other animals that have no name except in books of heraldry. The ponderous mahogany chairs in the parlour are of such unwieldy proportions, that it is quite a serious undertaking to gallant one of them across the room; and sometimes make a most equivocal noise when you sit down in a hurry: the mantle-piece is decorated with little lacquered earthen shepherdesses—some of which are without toes, and others without noses; and the fire-place is garnished out with Dutch tiles, exhibiting a great variety of Scripture pieces, which my good old soul of a cousin takes infinite delight in explaining. Poor Jeremy hates them as he does poison; for while a younker, he was obliged by his mother to learn the history of a tile every sunday morning before she would permit him to join his play-mates: this was a terrible affair for Jere