Imágenes de páginas

troop, we hate to balk young people;
and as even now a walking-stick chair
is generally carried along for our be-
hoof, we seldom or never remain at
home when all the rest of the party
trudge off to some "bushy bourne or
mossy dell." On these occasions how
infinitely superior the female is to the
male part of the species! The ladies,
in a quarter of an hour after the propo-
sal of the ploy, appear all in readiness
to start, each with her walking-shoes
and parasol, with a smart reticule dang-
ing from her wrist. The gentlemen,
on the other hand, set off with their
great heavy Wellingtons, which, after
walking half a mile, pinch them at the
toe, and make the pleasure-excursion
confine them to the house for weeks.
Then some fool, the first gate or stile
we come to, is sure to shew off his
vaulting, and upsets himself in the
ditch on the opposite side, instead of
going quietly over and helping the
And then, if he
damosels across.
does attempt the polite, how awkward-
ly the monster makes the attempt!
We come to a narrow ditch with a
plank across it-He goes only half
way, and, standing in the middle of
the plank, stretches out his hand and
pulls the unsuspecting maiden so for-
cibly, that before he has time to get
out of the way, the impetus his own
tug has produced, precipitates them
both among the hemlock and nettles,
which, you may lay it down as a gen-
eral rule, are to be found at the thor-
oughfares in every field.

Long, long ago, (and the mists of
thirty years are lifted from our retro-
spective vision as we speak,) we went
with a party of amiable girls to see
one of the grandest objects in Eng-
Shall we forget the sunny day
which lighted us merrily over valley
and plain, till we entered at last on
the magnificent defiles of the Cheddar
Cliffs, in Somersetshire ?-Never!-
We still, with the minuteness of
which, as we look at our diminished
at this moment
are half-
legs-which are
swathed in flannel-we
ashamed, remember the fawn-colored
pelisse, and white straw bonnet, of a


While the poor spoon, her husband, looks on, with the white of his eyes turned up as if he were sea sick, and his hands dangle dangle on his thighs as if he were trying to lift his own legs. See how he ducks to the lady of the house, and simpers across the fire-place to his wife, who by this time is giving a most spirited account of the state of roads, and the civility of the postilions near the Borders.

Is a man little ? Let him always, if possible, stoop. We are sometimes tempted to lay sprawling in the mud fellows of from five feet to five feet eight, who carry the back of their heads on the extreme summit of their back-bone, and gape up to heaven as if they scorned the very ground. Let When no little man wear iron heels. we visit a friend of ours in Queen Street we are disturbed from our labors of conversation by a sound which resembles the well-timed marching of a file of infantry or a troop of dismounted dragoons. We hobble as fast as possible to the window, and are sure to see some chappie of about five feet high stumping on the pavement with his most properly named cuddy-heels; and we stake our credit, we never yet heard a similar clatter from any of his Majesty's subjects of a rational and gentlemanly height-We mean from five feet eleven (our own height) up to six feet three.


Is a man tall? let him never wear a surtout. It is the most unnatural, and therefore the most awkward On dress that ever was invented. tall man, if he be thin, it appears like a cossack-trowser on a stick leg; if it be buttoned, it makes his leanness and lankness still more appalling and absurd; if it be open, it appears to be no part of his costume, and leads us to suppose that some elongated habitmaker is giving us a specimen of that rare bird, the flying taylor.

We go on a visit to the country for a few days, and the neighborhood is famous for its beautiful prospects. Though, for our own individual share, we would rather go to the catacombs alone, than to a splendid view in a

young and beautiful maiden of the party. We remember the beauties of her flexible form, and the moving lights which danced across her countenance as she spoke, and still more the bright wild innocence which sealed Love's seal upon her downy cheek, whene'er her soft sweet lips were curled into a smile. On we went, the maiden and ourself, and what we talked of, or if we talked at all, we do not remember, or at least we have no inclination to reveal. As we wandered up the pass, and the gradual winding of the ascent brought us every instant into view of some more sublime and grander aspect of the scene, our conversation became less sustained, till when we came to the middle of the steep, where on each side of us rose, "in wild and stern magnificence," the grand and rugged crags, with their rude projections clothed in brushwood, and mellowed by the warm tints of the noonday sun, we should have thought it a profanation of nature's holiest mysteries, if we had uttered one word even of admiration to the mute and interesting girl who rested on our arm. The hawk poised himself on his broad and moveless wing, far up within the shadow of a beetling cliff, and then dashed into the sunshine and away! a joyous and delighted thing, down the windings of the mountain. The wild pigeon, too, came sailing with a flood of light upon his wings, and circling for a moment round a jutting ledge, folded his pinions on that desolate pinnacle, and brought to our fancy, amid all the wildness and majesty of the scene, thoughts, humbler and more gentle, of the quiet cottage in the far-off land which had been the shelter of our boyhood, and which, with such a companion as we then possessed, might be the no less fondly cherished shelter of our age. Yes, young and beautiful Honora! even amid the sternness of Nature's works, our heart was softened by thy calm and lovely smile! But what you could see in that thin-necked curate, it passes our comprehension to divine.

He was the most enormous eater we ever encountered in our life. Could such a being, after swallowing two pounds of mutton, fourteen potatoes, three rounds of bread, two quarts of beer, besides pudding and cheese, dare to hint a syllable of love towards any thing but a Southdown sheep? Could he have soothed thy young heart in its lonely, and perhaps its melancholy thoughts, as we could have done? Could he have looked into the blue recesses of thy rich deep eyes, and forgotten every thing but gratitude to Heaven for having bestowed on him a creature so pure, so beautiful? Could he have wandered into the calm solitudes, by the side of some romantic burn, and pulled the long blue bells wet with the spray of the dashing linn, and twined them in thine auburn hair, and rested beside thee with a sweet and chastened affection, and read to thee" through the lang simmer day," on some heathery knowe, far from the noisy and observing world-a world within yourselves? Oh, no! But thou, Honora! thou art the mother, we hear, of nine boys and girls, while we are slowly recovering from a four month's fit of the gout!

Love, when successful, is well enough, and perhaps it has treasures of its own to compensate for its inconveniences; but a more miserable situation than that of an unhappy individual before the altar, it is not in the heart of man to conceive. First of all, you are marched with a solitary male companion up the long aisle, which on this occasion appears absolutely interminable; then you meet your future partner dressed out in satin and white ribbons, whom you are sure to meet in gingham gowns or calico prints, every morning of your life ever after. There she is, supported by her old father, decked out in his old-fashioned brown coat, with a wig of the same color, beautifully relieving the burning redness of his huge projecting ears; and the mother, puffed up like an overgrown bolster, encouraging the trembling girl, and joining her maiden aunts of full fifty

years, in telling her to take courage, for it is what they must all come to. Bride's-maids and mutual friends make up the company; and there, standing out before this assemblage, you assent to every thing the curate, or, if you are rich enough, the rector, or even the dean, may say, shewing your knock-knees in the naked deformity of white kerseymeres, to an admiring bevy of the servants of both families, laughing and tittering from the squire's pew in the gallery. Then the parting!-The mother's injunctions to the juvenile bride to guard herself from the cold, and to write within the week. The maiden aunts' inquiries, of, "My dear, have you forgot nothing ?"-the shaking of hands, the wiping and winking of eyes! By Hercules !-there is but one situation more unpleasant in this world, and that is, bidding adieu to your friends, the ordinary, and jailor, preparatory to swinging from the end of a halter out of it. The lady all this time seems not half so awkward. She has her gown to keep from creasing, her vinaigrette to play with; besides, that all her nervousness is interesting and feminine, and is laid to the score of delicacy and reserve.

What a piece of work is man! In every situation he is infinitely inferior to the softer sex,-except, indeed, as we remarked before, upon the road. Here a man of the minutest intellect is fifty degrees more sensible than the trotting, plodding, weary-looking woman by his side. Do you see that bunch of red rags swaying from side to side on the back of that wandering Camilla ? In it repose two chubby children, while the nine others, of all shapes and sizes, are straggling along the way. The insignificant individual, with the tail of his coat (for it has only one) dangling down nearly to the junction between his battered stocking and his hard brown shoe; that mortal with but the ghost of a hat upon his head,-a staff within his hand, his shoulders not distinguishable beneath the ample sweep of his deciduous coat; that being is the

husband of the woman, and, in the estimation of the world, the father of the eleven children. A gig sweeps on, containing some red-nosed, smalleyed Bagman, with his whip stuck in the arm-rod, a book in his hand, and the reins dangling in easy flow over the long bony back of his brokenknee'd charger. Hey! hey! cries the conveyer of patterns. The paternal vagabond slips quietly to the side, but guineas to sixpences, the woman creeps steadily on, or even if she be on the right side, diverges into the path, as if on purpose to cause the Bagman's apprehension for careless and furious driving along the King's highway. Ofte and often in our own young days, when mounted on our friend Seekham's most knowing Stanhope, bowling along the beautiful road between Bicester and Summertown, at the easy rate of thirteen miles an hour, have we halloed till our throats ached again to the female part of a pedestrian cavalcade,—but all in vain. And then, when we were inspired, partly by Deakin's imperial port, and partly by wrath at the impediment to our course, have we slang'd till our very self was frightened at our vehemence, and our sleeping friend has awakened and stared with mute horror in our face! But there the insensate termagant stands flatly in your way, and unless you have the eloquent vituperations of Jon Bee or Mr. Brougham to aid you, your best plan is to lay your whip on the right flank of your restive horse, and trot out of hearing of her abuse (celerrimo curse you!) Once, and once only, were we happy at such an interruption. It was in that beautiful tract of country between Stirling and the Trosachs. We were slowly driving our old horse, Tempest, in our quiet easy shandrydan, admiring, as all who have hearts and souls must do, the noble vistas which open every moment upon the sight. Far down we heard the gurgling of the joyous river leaping over rock and stone, yet saw not the glittering of its bubbling course for the thick leaves which clustered on


its precipitous bank. Then at winding of the way we saw a smooth calm reach, circling with its limpid waters round a projecting point, and just below us the tiny billows glistening to the noonday sun, half-seen, halfhid by the brushwood which decked with greenness and beauty the rocky ledge over which we gazed. We gave Tempest a gentle hint to proceed, and not far had we gone, when, gliding before us in solitude and loveliness, we beheld a form-and by the quickened pulses of our heart-we knew whose only that enchanting form could be. Immersed in "maiden meditation," she heard not the rolling of our chariot wheels. Nearer and nearer we approached, and at last, as if roused from a dream, she started and turned round. The large brown eye, glistening in its lustrous beauty, till it appeared almost in tears,--the dark arched eye-brows, the glowing cheek, and then the enchanting smile, -it was-it was our Ellen! Three years were passed since we had seen the fawn-like maiden. We had seen her in the lighted hall, where she was the cynosure of every eye,-the loadstone of every heart. We had gazed on the ringlets of her dark auburn tresses that floated in many a curl along the pure marble of her snowy neck; we had followed with admiration every movement of her graceful form, and looked with more than rapture on the twinkling of her small and fairy-like feet, and we had wondered that a flower so fair was still left alone, and was not gathered to bloom on in blessedness, the ornament and delight of some faithful and loving bosom. And here we saw her in this romantic region, communing with her own pure spirit.

We spoke in the words of overflowing friendship. And old as we were, our heart yearned with kindness and affection to a being so young, so beautiful. Again we heard her voice as we used to delight to hear it, gay, joyous, free. She spoke with an enthusiasm, which made her still more lovely, of the beauties of the wild

scene around us. "Go on, blessed creature," thought we, in the fulness of our heart, as we descended from our vehicle, and trusted Tempest to his own discretion up the hill,-" Go on, blessed creature, spreading light with thy pure smiles upon the darkness of a clouded and care-disturbed existence,-be the pride of some youthful bosom, that will beat only as thy wishes point! For ourself! we are old and failed, but thy beauties have scattered a leaf of the tree of happiness upon the dull and lagging course of our thorn-encircled thoughts." We wondered, but inquired not the reason of her being solitary in so desolate and wild a scene; our thoughts were otherwise employed, and we were regretting that we had fallen into the sere, the yellow leaf, and picturing scenes of happiness and delight, had fate and fortune willed it otherwise. Even yet, could we win the heart of one so beautiful, we might be happy; attention would atone for disparity of years,-and Ellen, the lovely, the accomplished Ellen, might deign—


-to bless With her light step our loneliness.” Yet why for our vanity or selfish gratification doom a creature SO young to waste her best years in the dull and joyless society of an infirm old man ?-perish the ungenerous thought!-but would not she herself laugh at the mere idea! Perchance even now she is musing on some young and betrothed admirer; perchance she is dreaming of her future happiness, when the wife shall make it her pride to compensate for the coyness of the maiden. In the midst of our reverie and regrets, a carriage swept up the hill; a venerable old man looked out of the window as it stopped, and said, in an almost surly tone,"We have got the shoe replacedhow fast you've walked; come in." And Ellen, the young, the pure, the innocent, the beautiful, was the wise of a man older by a good dozen years than ourself! We handed her in without a word, bowed, as she said

The Traveller dying in the Desert.-Guesses at Truth.

farewell, and stood gazing after the carriage long after a turning of the road concealed it from our view. We remember, that on re

Suggested by reading Major Denham's Africa.*

THE traveller lay in the desert alone, Deserted, and wounded, and heart-sick, and wan;

The coolness and calmness of night had all flown,

And the thirst and the fever of morning

came on.

No tree gave him shelter, no well was there


No being to succor him greeted his eye; No sound but the hyena's growl met his ear, That waited impatiently till he should die.

The bones of the many, deserted like him, Whom the spear of the robber or hunger had slain, Were saddening to view, and his eye-ball grew dim,

As death grimly whispered, so his should


Yet, dauntless in spirit, around him he gaz


No sigh left his dried lip, no tear did he shed,

But smiled as to heaven his last look he raised, Where the halo of glory seem'd circling his head.

He thought of his home, of the days of his youth,

Of the friends who had loved him, and those who'd deceived; And the soft mournful words which he now felt were truth,

That at parting she spoke who his absence still grieved.


mounting our shandrydan, we caught ourself muttering something, which we are afraid sounded almost like an oath.

THIS book is the offspring of good thoughts and good feelings, and inherits the excellence of its parents. Why, then, has it not become popular? It is not on account of difficulty or abstruseness, for it is made up of simple and often detached observa

[blocks in formation]


tions; nor of errors of style, for it is clearer, more elegant, and more vigorous English than three-fourths of the most admired works of the day; nor of any direct opposition to general belief, for the authors are both Christian and Constitutional, and have ob

* These lines have a peculiar interest from the recent death of the lamented traveller whose work suggested them.-Ed.

† Guesses at Truth. By Two Brothers, 2 vols. 12mo. pp. 702. London, 1828.

« AnteriorContinuar »