Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

your service.

imy, who by the time he had bearned the last had forgotten the first, and was obliged to begin again. He assured me the other day, with a round college oath, that if the old house stood out till he inherited it he would have these tiles taken out, and ground into powder, for the perfect hatred he bore them.

My cousin Christopher enjoys unlimited authority in the mansion of his forefathers; he is truly what may be termed a hearty old blade-has a florid, sunshiny countenance, and, if you will only praise his wine, and laugh at his long stories, himself and his house are heartily at

The first condition is indeed easily complied with, for, to tell the truth, his wine is excellent; but his stories, being not of the best, and often repeated, are apt to create a disposition to yawn, being, in addition to their other qualities, most unreasonably long. His prolixity is the more afflicting to me, since I have all his stories by heart; and when he enters upon one, it reminds me of Newark causeway, where the traveller sees the end at the distance of several miles. To the great misfortune of all his acquaintance, cousin Cockloft is blessed with a most provoking retentive memory, and can give day and date, and name and age and circumstance, with most unfeeling precision. These, however, are but trivial foibles, forgotten, or remembered only. with a kind of tender respectful pity, by those who know with what a rich redundant harvest of kindness and generosity his heart is stored. It would delight you to see with what social gladness he welcomes a visitor into his house; and the poorest man that enters his door never leaves it without a cordial invitation to sit down and drink a glass of wine. By the honest farmers round his country seat, he is looked up to with love and rever ence; they never pass him by without his enquiring after the welfare of their families, and receiving a cordial shake of his liberal hand. There are but two classes of people who are thrown out of the reach of his hospitality-and these are Frenchmen and Democrats. The old gentleman considers it treason against the majesty of good breeding to speak to any visitor with his hat on; but the

[ocr errors]

moment a Democrat enters his door, he forthwith bids his man Pompey bring his hat, puts it on his head, and salutes him with an appalling “ Well, sir, what do you want with me?”

He has a profound contempt for Frenchmen, and firmly believes that they eat nothing but frogs and soupmaigre in their own country. This unluckly prejudice is partly owing to my great aunt Pamelia having been, many years ago, run away with by a French Count, who turned out to be the son of a generation of barbers; and partly to a little vivid spark of toryism, which burns in a secret corner of his heart. He was a loyal subject of the crown; has hardly yet recovered the shock of independence; and, though he does not care to own it, always does honour to his majesty's birth day, by inviting a few cavaliers, like himself, to dinner; and gracing his table with more than ordinary festivity. If by chance the revolution is mentioned before him, my cousin shakes his head; and you may see, if you take good note, a lurking smile of contempt in the corner of his eye, which marks a decided disapprobation of the sound. in the fulness of his heart, observed to me that green pease were a month later than they were under the old government. But the most eccentric manifestation of loyalty he ever gave was making a voyage to Halifax for no other reason under heaven but to hear his majesty prayed for in church, as he used to be here formerly. This he never could be brought fairly to acknowledge, but it is a certain fact I assure you. It is not a little singular that a person, so much given to long story-telling as my cousin, should take a liking to another of the same character; but so it is with the old gentleman-his prime favourite and companion is Will Wizard, who is almost a member of the family, and will sit before the fire, with bis feet on the massy handirons, and smoak his cigar, and screw his phiz, and spin away tremendous long stories of his travels, for a whole evening, to the great delight of the old gentleman and lady, and especially of the young ladies, who, like Desdemona, do “ seriously ineline," and listen to him with innumerable " O dears,"

He once,

" is it possibles," "good graciouses," and look upon him as a second Sindbad the sailor.

The Miss Cocklofts, whose pardon I crave for not having particularly introduced them before, are a pair of delectable damsels: who, having purloined and locked up the family-bible, pass for just what age they please to plead guilty to. Barbara, the eldest, has long since resigned the character of a belle, and adopted that staid, sober, demure, snuff-taking air, becoming her years and discretion. She is a good-natured soul, whom I never saw in a passion but once; and that was occasioned by seeing an old favourite beau of hers kiss the hand of a pretty blooming girl; and, in truth, she only got angry because, as she very properly said, it would spoil the child. Her sister Margery, or Maggie, as she is familiarly termed, seemed disposed to maintain her post as a belle, until a few months since; when accidentally hearing a gentleman observe that she broke very fast, she suddenly left off going to the assembly, took a cat into high favour, and began to rail at the forward pertness of

From that moment I set her down for an old maid; and so she is, “by the hand of my body." The young ladies are still visited by some half dozen of veteran beaux, who grew and flourished in the haut ton, when the Miss Cocklofts were quite children, but have been brushed rather rudely by the hand of time, who, to say the truth, can do almost any thing but make people young. They are, notwithstanding, still warm candidates for female favour; look venerably tender, and repeat over and over the same boneyed speeches and sugared sentiments to the little belles that they poured so profusely into the ears of their mothers. I beg leave here to give notice, that by this sketch I mean no reflection on old bachelors; on the contrary, I hold, that nex to a fine lady, the ne plus ultra, an old bachelor is the most charming being upon earth; inasmuch as hy living in " single blessedness," he of course does just as he pleases; and if he has any genius must acquire a plentiful stock of whims, and oddities, and whalebone habits : without which I esteem a man to be mere beef without

young misses.


mustard, good for nothing at all, but to run on errands for ladies, take boxes at the theatre, and act the part of a screen at tea-parties, or a walking-stick in the streets. I merely speak of those old boys who infest public walks, pounce upon the ladies from every corner of the street, and worry and frisk and amble, and caper before, behind, and round about the fashionable belles, like old poneys in a pasture, striving to supply the absence of youthful whim and hilarity, by grimaces and grins, and artificial vivacity. I have sometimes seen one of these “reverend youths” endeavouring to elevate his wintry passions into something like love, by basking in the sunshine of beauty; and it did remind me of an old moth attempting to fly through a pane of glass towards a light without ever approaching near enough to warm itself, or scorch its wings.

Never, I firmly believe, did there exist a family that went more by tangents than the Cocklofts.-Every thing is governed by whim; and if one member starts a new freak, away all the rest follow like wild geese in a string. As the family, the servants, the horses, cats and dogs, have all grown old together, they have accommodated themselves to each other's habits completely; and though every body of them is full of odd points, angles, rhomboids, and ins and outs, yet somehow or other, they harmonize together like so many straight lines; and it is truly a grateful and refreshing sight to see them agree so well. Should one, bowever, get out of tune, it is like a cracked fiddle, the whole concert is ajar; you perceive a cloud over every brow in the house, and even the old chairs seem to creak affettuoso. If my cousin, as he is rather apt to do, betray any symptoms of vexation or uneasiness, no matter about what, he is worried to death with inquiries, which answer no other end but to demonstrate the good will of the inquirer, and put him in a passion; for every body knows how provoking it is to be cut short in a fit of the blues, by an impertinent question about “wbat is the matter?”' when a man can't tell himself. I remember a few months ago the old gentleman came home in quite a squall; kicked poor Cæsar, the mastiff,

out of his way, as he came through the hall; threw his hat on the table with most violent emphasis, and pulling out his box, took three huge pinches of snuff, and threw. a fourth into the cat's eyes as he sat purring his astonishment by the fire-side. This was enough to set the body politic going; Mrs. Cockloft began my dearing” it as fast as tongue could move; the young ladies took each a stand at an elbow of his chair: Jeremy marshalled in rear; the servants came tumbling in; the mastiff put up an enquiring nose; and even grimalkin, after he had cleansed his whiskers and finished sneezing, discovered indubitable signs of sympathy. After the most affectionate enquiries on all sides, it turned out that my cousin, in crossing the street, had got his silk stockings bespattered with mud by a coach wbich it seems belonged to a dashing gentleman who had formerly supplied the family with hot rolls and muffins! Mrs. Cockloft thereupon turned up her eyes, and the young ladies their poses; and it would have edified a whole congregation to bear the conversation which took place concerning the insolence of upstarts, and the vulgarity of wouldbe gentlemen and ladies, who strive to emerge from low life by dashing about in carriages to pay a visit two doors off, giving parties to people who laugh at them, and cutting all their old friends.


But the most important branch of civilization, and which has most strenuously been extolled, by the zealous and pious fathers of the Romish Church, the introduce tion of the Christian faith. It was truly a sight that might well inspire horror, to behold these savages, stumbling among the dark mountains of paganism, and guilty of the most horrible ignorance of religion. It is true, they neither stole nor defrauded; they were sober, frugal, continent, and faithful to their word; but though they acted right habitually, it was all in vain, unless they acted so from precept. The new comers the refore

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »