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personage, who thinks not merely for himself and family, but for all the country round, and is most generously disposed to be every body's champion. He is continually, volunteering his services to settle his neighbour's affairs, and takes it in great dudgeon if they engage in any matter of consequence without asking his advice; though he seldom engages in any friendly office of the kind without finishing by getting into a squabble with all parties, and then railing bitterly at their ingratitude. He unluckily took lessons in his youth in the noble science of defence, and having accomplished himself in the use of his limbs and his weapons, and become a perfect master at boxing and cudgel play, he has had a troublesome life of it ever since. He cannot hear of a quarrel between the most distant of his neighbours; but he begins incontinently to fumble with the head of his cudgel, and to consider whether his interest or honour does not require that he should meddle in the broil. Indeed he has extended his relations of pride and policy so completely over the whole country, that no event can take place, without infringing some of his finely-spun rights and dignities. Couched in his little domain, with these filaments stretching forth in every direction, he is like some choleric, bottle-bellied old spider, who has woven his web over a whole chamber, so that a fly cannot buzz, nor a breeze blow, without startling his repose, and causing him to sally forth wrathfully from his den.
Though really a good-hearted, good-tempered uld fellow at bottom, yet he is singularly fond of being in the midst of contention. It is one of his peculiarities, however, that he only relishes the beginning of an affray; he always goes into a fight with alacrity, but he comes out of it grumbling even when victorious; and though no one fights with more obstinacy to carry a contested point, yet, when the battle is over, and he comes to the recons ciliation, he is so much taken up with the mere shaking of hands, that he is apt to let his antagonist pocket all that they have been quarrelling about. It is not, therefore, tighting that he ought to be so much on his guard against, as making friends. It is dificult to cudgel him out of a farthing; but put him in a good humour, and you may bargain him out of all the money in his pocket. He is like one of his own ships, which will weather the roughest storm uninjured, but roll its masts overboard in the succceding calm.
He is a little fond of playing the magnifico abroad; of pulling out a long purse; flinging his money bravely about at boxing matches, horse races, and cockfights, and carrying a high head among “gentlemen of the fancy;" but immediately after one of these fits of extravagance, he will be taken with violent qualms of economy; stop short at the most trivial expenditure; talk desperately of being ruined, and brought upon the parish; and in such moods, he will not pay the smallest tradesman's bill without violent altercation. He is, in fact, the most punctual and discontented paymaster in the world; drawing his coin out of his breeches' pocket with infinite reluctance; paying to the uttermost farthing, but accompanying every guinea with a growl.
With all this talk of economy, however, he is a bountiful provider, and a hospitable housekeeper. His economy is of a whimsical kind, its chief object being to devise how he may afford to be extravagant; for he will begrudge himself a beafsteak and a pint of port one day, that he may roast an ox whole, broach a hogshead of ale, and treat all his neighbɔurs on the next.
His domestic establishment is enormously expensive : not so much from any great outward parade, as from the great consumption of solid beef and pudding; the vast number of followers he feeds and clothes; and his singu. lar disposition to pay hugely for small services. He is a most kind and indulgent master, and, provided his ser. vants humour his peculiarities, flatter his vanity a little now and then, and do not peculate grossly on him before his face, they may manage him to perfection. Every thing that lives on him seems to thrive and grow fat. His house servants are well paid, and pampered, and have little to do. His horses are sleek and lazy, and prance slowly before his state carriage ; and his house dogs sleep quietly before his door, and will hardly bark at a house-breaker.
His family mansion is an old castellated manor-house, grey with age, and of a most venerable, though weather beaten appearance. It has been built upon no regular plan, but is a vast accumulation of parts, erected in various tastes and ages. The centre bears evident traces of Saxon architecture, and is as solid as ponderous stone and old English oak can make it. Like all the relics of that style, it is full of, obscure passages, intricate mazes, and dusky chambers; and though these have been partially
lighted up in modern days, yet there are many places where you must still grope in the dark. Additions have been made to the original edifice from time to time and great alterations have taken place; towers and battleinents have been erected during the wars and tumults; wings built in times of peace; and out-houses, lodges, and offices, run up according to the whim or convenience of different generations : until it has become one of the most spacious, rambling tenements imaginable, An entire wing is taken up with a family chapel; a reverond pile that must once have been exceedingly sumptuous, and, indeed, in spite of having been altered and simplified at various periods, has still a look of solemn religious pomp. Its walls within are storied with the monuments of John's ancestors; and it is snugly fitted up with soft cushions and well-lined chairs, where such of his family as are inclined to church services, may doze comfortably in the discharge of their duties.
To keep up this chapel has cost John much money; but he is staunch in his religion, and piqued in his zoal, from the circumstance that many dissenting chapels have becn erected in his vicinity, and several of his neighbours, with whom he has had quarrels, are strong papists.
To do the duties of the chapel he maintains, at a large expense, a pious and portly family chaplain. He is a most learned and decorous personage, and a truly well bred Christian, who always backs the old gentleman in his opinions, winks discreetly at his little peccadilloes, rebukes the children when refractory, and is of great use in exhorting the tenants to read their bibles, say their prayers, and, above all, to pay their rents punctually, and without grumbling.
The family apartments are in a very antiquated taste, somewhat heavy, and often inconvenient, but full of the solemn magnificence of former times; fitted up with rich though faded tapestry, unwieldy furniture, and loads of massy gorgeous old plate. The vast fire-places, ample kitchens, extensive cellars, and sunptuous banqueting halls-all speak of the roaring hospitality of days of yore, of which the modern festivity at the manor-house is but a shadow. There are, however, complete suites of rooms apparently deserted and time worn; and towers and turrets that are tottering to decay; so that in high winds there is a danger of their tumbling about the ears of the household.
John has frequently been advised to have the old edifice thoroughly overhauled; and to have some of the useless parts pulled down, and the others strengthened with their materials; but the old gentleman always grows testy on this subject. He swears the house is an excellent house that it is tight and weather proof, and not to be shaken by tempests--that it has stood for several hundred years, and, therefore, is not likely to tumble down now that as to its being inconvenient, his family is accustomed to the inconveniences, and would not be comfortable without them that as to its unwieldy size and irregular construction, these result from its being the growth of centuries, and being improved by the wisdom of every generation that an old family like his, requires a large house to dwell in; new upstart families may live in modern cottages and snug boxes, but an old English family should inhabit an old English manor house. If you point out any part of the building as superfluous, he insists that it is material to the strength or decoration of the rest, and the harmony of the whole; and swears that the parts are so built into each other, that, if you pull down one, you run the risk of having the whole about your ears.
The secret of the matter is, that John has a great disposition to protect and patronize. He thinks it indispensible to the dignity of an ancient and honourable family, to be bounteous in its appointments, and to be eaten up by dependants; and so, partly from pride, and partly from kind-heartedness, he makes it a rule always to give shelter and maintainance to his superannuated servants.
The consequence is, that, like many other venerable family establishments, his manor is encumbered by old retainers whom he cannot turn off, and an old style which he cannot lay down. His mansion is like a great hospital of invalids, and, with all its magnitude, is not a whit too large for its inhabitants. Not a nouk or a corner but is of use in housing some useless personage. Groups of veteran beef-eaters, gouty pensioners, and retired heroes of the buttery and the larder, are seen lolling about its walls, crawling over its lawns, dozing under its trees, or_sunning themselves upon the benches at its doors. Every office and out-house is garrisoned by these supernumeraries and their families ; for they are amazingly prolific, and when they die off, are sure to leave John a legacy of hungry mouths to be provided for. A
mattock cannot be struck against the most mouldering tumble-down tower, but out pops, from some cranny or loop-hole, the grey pate of some superannuated hanger-on, who has lived at John's expense all his life, and makes the
s outcry, at their pulling down the roof from over the head of a worn-out servant of the family. This is an appeal that John's honest heart never can withstand; so that a man, who has faithfully eaten his beef and pudding all his life, is sure to be rewarded with a pipe and tankard in his old days. * A great part of his park, also, is turned into paddocks where his broken down chargers are turned loose to graze undisturbed for the remainder of their existence a worthy example of grateful recollection, which, if some of his neighbours were to imitate, would not be to their discredit. Indeed, it is one of his greatest pleasures to point out these old steeds to his visiters, to dwell on their good qualities, extol their past services, and boast with some little vain-glory, of the perilous adventures and hardy exploits, through which they have carried him.
He is given, however, to indulge his veneration for family, usages, and family incumbrances, to a whimsical extent. His manor is infested by gangs of gipsies; yet he will not suffer them to be driven off, because they have infested the place time out of mind, and been regular poachers upon every generation of the family. He will scarcely permit a dry branch to be lopped from the great trees that surround the house, lest it should molest the rooks, that have bred there for centuries. Owls have taken possession of the dovecote; but they are hereditary owls, and must not be disturbed. Swallows have nearly choked up every chimney with their nests; martins build in every frieze and cornice; crows flutter about the towers, and perch on every weathercock; and old grey-headed rats may be seen in every quarter of the house, running in and out of their holes undauntedly, in broad daylight. In short, John has such a reverence for every thing that has been long in the family, that he will not hear even of abuses being reformed, because they are good old family abuses.
All these whims and habits have concurred wofully to drain the old gentleman's purse; and as he prides himself on punctuality in money matters, and wishes to maintain his credit in the neighbourhood, they have caused him great perplexity in meeting his engagements.