Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

with bright but undazzling lustre, adown the hill of life. There is a full and mature luxuriance in the fields that lills the bosom with generous and disinterested content. It is not the thoughtless extravagance of spring, prodigal only in blossoms, nor the languid voluptuousness of summer, feverish in its enjoyments, and teeming only with immature abundance-it is that certain fruition of the labours of the past—that prospect of comfortable realities, which those will be sure to enjoy who have improved the bounteous smiles of Heaven, nor wasted away their spring and summer in empty trifling or criminal indulgence.

Cousin Pindar, who is my constant companion in these expeditions, and who still possesses much of the fire and energy of youthful sentiment, and a buxom hilarity of the spirits, often indeed draws me from these halfmelancholy reveries, and makes me feel young again by the enthusiasm with which he contemplates, and the animation with which he eulogizes the beauties of nature displayed before him. His enthusiastic disposition never allows him to enjoy things by halves, and his feelings are continally breaking out in notes of admiration and ejaculations that sober reason might perhaps deem extravagant. But for my part, when I see a hale hearty old man, who has jostled through the rough path of the world, without having worn away the fine edge of his feelings, or blunted his sensibility to natural and moral beauty, I compare him to the evergreen of the forest, whose colours, instead of fading at the approach of winter, seem to assume additional lustre when contrasted with the surrounding desolation. Such a man is my friend Pindar ;-yet sometimes, and particularly at the approach of evening, even he will fall in with my humour; but he soon recovers his natural tone of spirits; and, mounting on the elasticity of his mind, like Ganymede on the eagle's wing, he soars to the etherial regions of sunshine and fancy.

One afternoon we had strolled to the top of a high hill in the neighbourhood of the Hall, which commands an almost boundless prospect; and as the shadows began to lengthen around us, and the distant mountains to fade into mists, my cousin was seized with a moralizing fit. “It seems to me,” said he, laying his hand lightly on my shoulder, "that there is just at this season, and this hour, a sympathy between us and the world we are now contemplating. The evening is stealing upon nature as

well as upon us;-the shadows of the opening day have given place to those of its close; and the only difference is, that in the morning they were before us, now they are behind; and that the first vanished in the splendours of noon-day, the latter will be lost in the oblivion of night. Our "May of life,' my dear Launce, has for ever fled: our summer is over and gone-but," continued he, suddenly recovering himself and slapping me gaily on the shoulder, "but why should we repine?-What though the capricious zephyrs of spring, the heats and hurricanes of summer, have given place to the sober sunshine of autumn

and though the woods begin to assume the dappled livery of decay ? yet the prevailing colour is still green-gay, sprightly green,

“Let us then comfort ourselves with this reflection ; that though the shades of the morning have given place to those of the evening, -though the spring is past, the summer over, and the autumn come, -still you and I go on our way rejoicing ;--and while, like the lofty mountans of our Southern America, our heads are cover, ed with snow, still

, like them, we feel the genial warmth of spring and summer playing upon our bosoms."


The family of the Lambs had long been among the most thriving and popular in the neighbourhood ; the Miss Lambs were the belles of Little Britain, and every body was pleased when Old Lamb had made money enough to shut up shop, and put his name on a brass plate on his door, 'In an evil hour, however, one of the Miss Lambs had the honour of being a lady in attendance on the Lady Mayoress, at her grand annual ball, on which occasion she wore three towering ostrich feathers on her head. The family never got over it; they were immediately smitten with a passion for high life; set up a one horse carriage, put a bit of gold lace round the errand boy's hat, and have been the talk and detestation of the whole neighbourhood ever since. They could no longer be induced to play at Pope-Joan or blind-man's-buff; they could en. dure no dances but quadrilles, which no body had ever heard of in Little Britian; and they took to readimg novels, talking bad French, and playing upon the piano,

Their brother too, who had been articled to an attorney, set up for a dandy and a critic, characters hitherto unknown in these parts, and he confounded the worthy folks exceedingly by talking about Kean, the Opera and the Edinbro' Review.

What was still worse, the Lambs gave a grand ball, to which they neglected to invite any of their old neighhours; but they had a great deal of genteel company from Theobald's Road, Red-lion Square, and other parts towards the west. There were several beaux of the brother's acquaintance from Gray's Inn Lane and Hatton Garden; and not less than three Aldermen's ladies with their daughters. This was not to be forgotten or forgiven. All Little Britain was in an uproar with the smacking of whips, the lashing of miserable horses, and the rattling and jingling of hackney coaches. The gossips of the neighbourhood might be seen popping their night caps out at every window, watching the crazy vehicles rumble by; and there was a knot of virulent old crones, that kept a look-out from a house just opposite the retired butcher's, and scanned and criticised every one that knocked at the door.

This dance was a cause of almost open war, and the whole neighbourhood declared they would have nothing more to say to the Lambs. It is true that Mrs. Lamb, when she had no engagements with her quality acquaintance, would give little hum-drum tea junkettings to some of her old cronies, “ quite,” as she would say, “in a friendly way:" and it is equally true that her invitations were always accepted, in spite of all previous vows to the contrary. Nay, the good ladies would sit and be delighted with the music of the Miss Lambs, who would condescend to strum an Irish melody for them on the piano; and they would listen with wonderful interest to Mrs. Lamb's anecdotes of Alderman Plunket's family of Port-soken-ward, and the Miss Timberlakes, the rich heiresses of Crutched-Friars; but then they relieved their consciences and averted the reproach of their confederates, by canvassing at the next gossiping convocation every thing that had passed, and pulling the Lambs and their rout all to pieces.

The only one of the family that could not be made fashionable was the retired butcher himself. Honest Lamb, in spite of the meekness of his name, was a rough hearty old fellow, with the voice of a lion, a head of black

[ocr errors]


hair like a shoe-brush, and a broad face mottled like his own beef. It was in vain that the daughters always spoke of him as "the old gentleman,” addressed him as "papa" in tones of infinite softness, and endeavoured to coax him into a dressing gown and slippers, and other gentlemanly habits. Do what they might, there was no keeping down the butcher. His sturdy nature would break through all their glossings. He had a hearty vulgar good humour that was irrepressible. His very jokes made his sensitive daughters shudder; and he persisted in wearing his blue cotton coat of a morning, dining at two o'clock, and having a " bit of sausage with his tea.

He was doomed, however, to share the unpopularity of his family. He found his old comrades gradually growing cold and civil to him; no longer laughing at his jokes ; and now and then throwing out a fling at people” and a hint about" quality binding." This both nettled and perplexed the honest, butcher; and his wife and daughters, with the consummate policy of the shrewder sex, taking advantage of the circumstance, at length prevailed upon him to give up his afternoon's pipe and tankard at Wagstaff's ; to sit after dinner by himself and take his pint of port—a liquor he detested—and to nod in his chair in solitary and dismal gentility.

The Miss Lambs might now be seen flaunting along the streets in French bonnets, with unknown beaux; and talking and laughing so loud that it distressed the nerves of every good lady within hearing, They even went so far as to attempt patronage, and actually induced a French dancing master to set up in the neighbourhood ; but the worthy folks of Little Britain took fire at it, and did so persecute the poor Gaul, that he was fain to pack up fiddle and dancing pumps, and decamp with such precipita, tion, that he absolutely forgot to pay for his lodgings. I had flattered myself

, at first, with the idea that all this fiery indignation on the part of the community, was merely the overflowing of their zeal for good old English manners, and their horror of innovation, and I applauded the silent contempt they were so vociferous in expressing, for upstart pride, French fashions, and the Miss Lambs. Bat I grieve to say that I soon perceived the infection had taken hold; and that my neighbours, after condemning, were beginning to follow their example. I overheard my landlady importuning her husband to let their daughters have one quarter at French and music,

and that they might take a few lessons in quadrille. I even saw, in the course of a few Sundays, no less than five French bonnets, precisely like those of the Miss Lambs, parading about Little Britain.


AFTER the dinner table was removed, the hall was given up to the younger members of the family, who, prompted to all kind of noisy mirth by the Oxonian and Master Simon, made its old walls ring with their merriment, as they played at romping games. I delight in witnessing the gambols of children, and particularly at this happy holiday season, and could not help stealing out of the drawing-room on hearing one of their peals of laughter. I found them at the game of blindman's buff, Master Simon who was the leader of their revels, and seemed on all occasions to fulfil the office of that ancient potentate, the Lord of Misrule, was blinded in the midst of the hall. The little beings were as busy about him as the mock fairies about Falstaff; pinching him, plucking at the skirts of his coat, and tickling him with straws. One fine blue-eyed girl of about thirteen, with her flaxen hair all in beautiful confusion, her frolic face in a glow, her frock half torn off her shoulders, a complete picture of a romp, was the chief tormentor; and from the slyness with which Master Simon avoided the smaller game, and hemmed this wild little nymph in cora ners, and obliged her to jump shrieking over chairs, I suspected the rogue of being not a whit more blinded than was convenient.


On parting with the old angler I inquired after his place of abode, and happening to be in the neighbourhood of the village a few evenings afterwards, I had the curiosity to seek him out. I found him living in a small cottage, containing only one room, but a perfect curiosity in its method and arrangement. It was on the skirts of the village, on a green bank, a little back from the road,

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »