Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

residence. Cruel event!, unhappy aunt Charity Sit threw her into that alarming disorder denominated the fidgets : she did nothing but watch at the window day after day, but without becoming one whit the wiser at the end of a fortnight than she was at the beginning ; she thought that neighbour Pension had a monstrous large family, and somehow or other they were all men! She could not imagine what business neighbour Pension followed to support so numerous a household ; and wondered why there was always such a scraping of fiddles in the parlour, and such a smell of onions from neighbour Pension's Kitchen: in short, neighbour Pension was continually uppermost in her thoughts, and incessantly on the outer edge of her tongue. This was, I believe, the very

first time she had ever failed to get at the bottom of a thing;”. and the disappointment cost her many a sleepless night, I warrant you. I have little doubt, however, that my aunt would have ferretted neighbour Pension out, could she have spoken or understood French; but in those times people in general could make themselves understood in plain English; and it was always a standing rule in the Cockloft family, which exists to this day, that not one of the females should learn French.

My aunt Charity had lived at her window, for some time in vain; when one day she was keeping her usual look-out, and suffering all the pangs of unsatisfied curiosity, she beheld a little meagre, weazel-faced Frenchman, of the most forlorn,

diminutive, and pitiful proportions, arrive at neighbour Pension's door. He was dressed in white, with a little pinch-up cocked hat; he seemed to shake in the wind, and every blast that went over him whistled through his bones, and threatened instant annihilation. This embodied spirit of famine was followed by three carts, lumbered with crazy trunks, chests, bandboxes, bidets, medicine-chests, parrots, and monkeys; and his heels ran a yelping pack of little black-nosed pug-dogs. This was the one thing wanting to fill up the measure of my aunt Charity's afflictions; she could not conceive, for the soul of her, who this mysterious little apparition could be that made so great a display ;what he could possibly do with so much baggage, and particularly with his parrots and monkeys; or how so small a carcass could have occasion for so many trunks of clothes. Honest soul! she never had a peep into a Frenchman's wardrobe-that depot of old coats, hats, and

breeches, of the growth of every fashion hé has followed in his life.

From the time of this fatal arrival my poor aunt was in a quandary ;-all her inquiries were fruitless ; no one could expound the history of this mysterious stranger : she never held her head up afterwards—drooped daily, took to her bed in a fortnight, and in “one little month," I saw her quietly deposited in the family vault-being the seventh Cockloft that has died of a whim-wham!

Take warning, my fair countrywomen! and you, O! ye excellent ladies, whether married or single, who into other people's affairs and neglect those of your own household; who are so busily employed in observing the faults of others that you have no time to correct your own; remember the fate of my dear aunt Charity and eschew the evil spirit of curiosity.

[ocr errors]



I'was not a little surprised the other morning at a request from Will Wizard, that I would accompany him that evening to Mrs. -'s ball. The request was simple enough in itself, it was only singular as coming from Will;--of all my acquaintance, Wizard is the least calculated and disposed for the society of ladies—not that he dislikes their company; on the contrary, like every man of pith and marrow, he is a professed admirer of the sex; and had he been born a poet, would undoubtedly have bespattered and be-rhymed some hard named goddess; until she became as famous as Petrarch's Laura, or Waller’s Sacharissa; but Will is such a confounded 'bungler at a bow, has so many odd bachelor habits, and finds it so troublesome to be gallant, that he generally prefers smoking his cigar and telling his story a mong cronies of his own gender :- and thundering long stories they are, let me tell you: set Will once a-going about China or Crim Tartary, or the Hottentots, and heaven help the poor victim who has to endure his prolixity; he might better be tied to the tail of a jack- o'lanthern. In one word, Will talks like a traveller. Being well acquainted with his character, I was the more alarmed at his inclination to visit a party; since he has often assured me, that he considered it as equivalent to being stuck up for three hours in a steam-engine. I even wondered how he had received an invitation ;-this he soon accounted for. It seems Will, on his last arrival from Canton, had made a present of a case of tea to a lady, for whom he had once entertained a sneaking kindness when at grammar-school; and she in return had invited him to come and drink some of it: a cheap way enough of paying off little obligations. I readily acceded to Will's proposition, expecting much entertainment from his eccentric remarks; and as he has been absent some few years, I anticipated his surprise at the splendour and elegance of a modern rout.

On calling for Will in the evening, I found him full dressed, waiting for me. I contemplated him with absolute dismay. As he still retained a spark of regard for the lady who once reigned in his affections, he had been at unusual pains in decorating his person, and broke upon my sight arrayed in the true style that prevailed among our beaux some years ago. His hair was turned up and tufted at the top, frizzled out at the ears, a profusion of powder puffed over the whole, and a long plaited club swung gracefully from shoulder to shoulder, describing a pleasing semi-circle of powder and pomatum. His claret-coloured coat was decorated with a profusion of gilt buttons, and reached to his calves. His white cassimere small-clothes were so tight that he seemed to have grown up in them; and his ponderous legs, which are the thickest part of his body, were beautifully clothed in sky-blue silk stockings, once considered so becoming. But above all, he prided himself upon his waistcoat of China silk, which might almost have served a good housewife for a short-gown; and he boasted that the roses and tulips upon it were the work of Nang-Fou, daughter of the great Chin-Chin-Fou, who had fallen in love with the graces of his person, and sent it to him as a parting present; he assured me she was a perfect beauty, with sweet obliquity of eyes, and a foot no longer than the thumb of an alderman;-he then dilated most copiously on his silver sprigged dicky, which he assured me was quite the rage among the dashing young mandarins of Canton.

I hold it an ill-natured office to put any man out of conceit with himself; so, though I would willingly have

made a little alteration in my friend Wizard's pictu

esque costume, yet I politely complimented him on his rakish appearance.

On entering the room I kept a good look out on Will, expecting to see him exhibit signs of surprise; but he is one of those knowing fellows who are never surprised at any thing, or at least will never acknowledge it. He took his stand in the middle of the floor, playing with his great steel watch-chain; and looking round on the company, the furniture, and the pictures, with the air of a man “who had seen d d finer things in his time;" and to my utter confusion and dismay, I saw him coolly pull out his villanous old japanned tobacco-box, ornamented with a bottle, a pipe, and a scurvy motto, and help himself to a quid in face of all the company:

I knew it was all in vain to find fault with a fellow of Will's socratic turn, who is never to be put out of humour with himself; so, after he had given his box its prescriptive rap, and returned it to his pocket, I drew him into a corner where he might observe the company without being prominent objects ourselves.

"And pray who is that stylish figure,” said Will, "who blazes away in red, like a volcano, and who seems wrapped in flames like a fiery dragon ?" – That, cried I, is Miss Laurelia Dashaway: she is the highest flash of the ton-has much whim and more eccentricity, and has reduced many an unhappy gentleman to stupidity by her charms; you see she holds out the red flag in token of “no quarter.” “Then keep me safe out of the sphere of her attractions, cried Will: “I would not een come in contact with her train, lest it should scorch me like the tail of a comet.-—But who, I beg of you, is that amiable youth who is handing along a young lady, and at the same time contemplating his sweet person in a mirror, as he passes ?" said 1, is Billy Dimple ;—he is a universal smiler, and would travel from Dan to Beersheba, and smile on every body as he passed. Dimple is a slave to the ladies-a hero at tea-parties, and is famous at the pirouet and the pigeon-wing; a fiddle-stick is his idol, and a dance his elysium.. "A very pretty young gentleman, truly," cried Wizard; "hé reminds me of a contemporary beau at Hayti. You must know that the magnanimous Dessalines gave a great ball to his court one fine sultry sum. mer's evening ; Dessy and I were great cronies ;-hand

His name,

and glove :-one of the most condescending great men I ever knew.-Such a display of black and yellow beauties! such a show of Madras handkerchiefs, red beads, cocks' tails, and peacocks' feathers !—it was, as here, who should wear the highest top-knot, drag the longest tails, or exhibit the greatest variety of combs, colours, and gewgaws. In the middle of the rout, when all was buzz, slip-slop, clack, and perfume, who should enter but Tucky Squash! The yellow beauties blushed blue, and the : black ones bļushed as red as they could, with pleasure ;

and there was a universal agitation of fans : every eye brightened and whitened to see Tucky; for he was the pride of the court, the pink of courtesy, the mirror of fashion, the adoration of all the sable fair ones of Hayti. Such breadth of nose, such exuberance of lip! his shins had the true cucumber curve ;-his face in dancing shone like a kettle; and provided you kept to windward of him in summer, I do not know a sweeter youth in all Hayti than Tucky Squash. When he laughed, there appeared from ear to ear a chevaux-de-frize of teeth, that rivalled the shark's in whiteness; he could whistle like a northwester; play on a three-stringed fiddle like Apollo; and, as to dancing, no Long-Island negro could shuffle you "double-trouble," or "hoe corn and dig potatoes," more scientifically : in short, he was a second Lothario. And the dusky nymphs of Hayti, one, and all, declared him a perpetual Adonis. Tucky walked about, whistling to himself

, without regarding any body; and his nonchalance was irresistible.”

I found Will had got neck and heels into one of his traveller's stories; and there is no knowing how far he would have run his parallel between Billy Dimple and Tucky Squash, had not the music struck up from an adjoining apartment, and summoned the company to the dance. The sound seemed to have an inspiring effect on honest Will, and he procured the hand of an old acquaintance for a country dance. It happened to be the fashionable one of " The devil among the Tailors," which is 80 vociferously demanded at every ball and assembly: and many a torn gown, and many an unfortunate toe, did rue the dancing of that night; for Will thundered down the dance like a coach and six, sometimes right and sometimes wrong; now running over half a score of little Frenchmen, and now making sad inroads into ladies' cobweb muslins and spangled tails. As every part of Will's body par

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »