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L. And pray, sir, what are the very agreeable circumstances under which we are to be mudded ?
Author. Fancy, madam, a walk with some particular friend, between the showers, in a green lane ; the sun shining, the hay sweet-smelling, the glossy leaves sparkling like children's cheeks after tears. Suppose this lane not to be got into, but over a bank and a brook, and a good savage assortment of wagon-ruts. Yet the sunny-green so takes you, and you are so resolved to oblige your friend with a walk, that you hazard a descent down the slippery bank, a jump over the brook, a leap (that will certainly be too short) over the ploughed mud. Do you think that a good thick-mudded shoe and a splashed instep would not have a merit in his barbarous eyes, beyond even the neat outline of the Spanish leather, and the symbolical whiteness of the stocking? Ask him.
L. Go to your subject, do.
Author. Well, I will. You may always know whether a person wishes you a pleasant or unpleasant adventure, by the pleasure or pain he has in your company. If he would be with you himself (and I should like to know the pleasant situation, or even the painful one, if a share of it can be made pleasant, in which we would not have a woman with us), you may rest assured that all the mischief he wishes you is very harmless. — At the same time, if there are situations in which one could wish ill even to a lady's leg, there are legs and stockings which it is possible to fancy well-splashed upon a very different principle. Gentleman. Pray, sir, whose may those be ?
Author. Not yours, sir, with that delicate flow of trouser, and that careless yet genteel stretch-out of toe. There is an humanity in the air of it, —a graceful, but at the same time manly, sympathy with the drapery beside it. I allude, sir, to one of those portentous legs, which belong to an over-fed money-getter, or to a bulky methodist parson, who has doating dinners got up for him by his hearers. You know the leg I mean. It is “like unto the sign of the leg,” only larger. Observe, I do not mean every kind of large leg. The same thing is not the same thing in every one, — if you understand that profound apophthegm. As a leg, indifferent in itself, may become very charming, if it belongs to a charming owner; so even when it is of the cast we speak of in a man, it becomes more or less unpleasant according to his nature and treatment of it. I am not carping at the leg of an ordinary jolly fellow, which good temper as well as good living helps to plump out, and which he is, after all, not proud of exhibiting ; keeping it modestly in a boot or trousers, and despising the starched ostentation of the other : but at a regular, dull, uninformed, hebetudinous, “gross, open, and palpable” leg, whose calf glares upon you like the ground-glass of a post-chaise lamp. In the parson it is somewhat obscured by a black stocking. A white one is requisite to display it in all its glory. It has a large balustrade calf, an ankle that would be monstrous in any other man, but looks small from the contrast, a tight knee, well buttoned, and a seam inexorably in the middle. It is a leg at once gross and symbolical. Its size is made up of plethora and superfuity; its white cotton stockings affect a propriety; its inflexible seam and side announce the man of clock-work. A dozen hard-worked dependants go at least to the making up of that leg. If in black, it is the essence of infinite hams at old ladies' Sunday dinners. Now, we like to see a couple of legs, of this sort, in white, kicking their way through a muddy street, and splashed unavoidably as they go, till their horrid glare is subdued into spottiness. A
lamplighter's ladder is of use, to give him a passing spurn: upon which the proprietor, turning round to swear, is run against in front by a wheelbarrow; upon which, turning round again to swear worse, he thrusts his heel upon the beginning of a loose stone in the pavement, and receives his final baptism from a fount of mud.
Our limits compel us to bring this article to a speedier conclusion, than we thought; and, to say the truth, we are not sorry for it; for we happened to break off here in order to write the one following, and it has not left us in a humor to return to our jokes.*
We must therefore say little of a world of things we intended to descant on, - of pattens, — and eaves, - and hackney-coaches, and waiting in vain to go out on a party of pleasure, while the youngest of us insists every minute that “it is going to hold up," — and umbrellas dripping on one's shoulder, — and the abomination of soaked gloves, and standing up in gate-ways, when you hear now and then the passing roar of rain on an umbrella, — and glimpses of the green country at the end of streets,—and the footmarked earth of the country-roads, and clouds eternally following each other from the westand the scent of the luckless new-mown hay, and the rainbow, — and the glorious thunder and lightning, -and a party waiting to go home at night, - and, last of all, the delicious moment of taking off your wet things, and resting in the dry and warm content of your gown and slippers.f
* “The Italian Girl," in the “ Indicator." - ED.
† Years after the publication of this sprightly effusion, the author wrote another article on “A Rainy Day,” which the reader will find (if he cares to look for it) in “ The Seer.” – ED.
THE TRUE ENJOYMENT OF SPLENDOR.
A CHINESE APOLOGUE.
OUBTLESS, saith the illustrious Me, he that
gaineth much possession hath need of the wrists of Hong and the seriousness of ShanFee, since palaces are not built with a tea
spoon, nor are to be kept by one who runneth after butterflies. But above all it is necessary that he who carrieth a great burden, whether of gold or silver, should hold his head as lowly as is necessary, lest on lifting it on high he bring his treasure to nought, and lose with the spectators the glory of true gravity, which is meekness.
Quo, who was the son of Quee, who was the son of Quee-Fong, who was the five-hundred and fiftieth in lineal descent from the ever-to-be-remembered Fing, chief minister of the Emperor Yau, one day walked out into the streets of Pekin in all the lustre of his rank. Quo, besides the greatness of his birth and the multitude of his accomplishments, was a courtier of the first order, and his pigtail was proportionate to his merits, for it hung down to the ground and kissed the dust as it went with its bunch of artificial roses. Ten huge and sparkling rings, which incrusted his hands with diamonds, and almost rivalled the sun that struck on them, led the ravished eyes of the beholders to the more precious enormity of his nails, which were each an inch long, and by proper nibbing might have taught the barbarians of the West to look with just scorn on their many writing-machines. But even
these were nothing to the precious stones that covered him from head to foot. His bonnet, in which a peacock's feather was stuck in a most engaging manner, was surmounted by a sapphire of at least the size of a pigeon's egg; his shoulders and sides sustained a real burden of treasure; and as he was one of the handsomest men at court, being exceedingly corpulent, and indeed, as his flatterers gave out, hardly able to walk, it may be imagined that he proceeded at no undignified pace. He would have ridden in his sedan, had he been lighter of body, but so much unaffected corpulence was not to be concealed, and he went on foot that nobody might suspect him of pretending to a dignity he did not possess. Behind him, three servants attended, clad in the most gorgeous silks ; the middle one held his umbrella over his head; he on the right bore a fan of ivory, whereon were carved the exploits of Whay-Quang; and he on the left sustained a purple bag on each arm, one containing opium and Arecanut, the other the ravishing preparation of Gin-Seng, which possesses the Five Relishes. All the servants looked the same way as their master, that is to say, straight forward, with their eyes majestically half-shut, only they cried every now and then with a loud voice, “ Vanish from before the illustrious Quo, favorite of the mighty Brother of the Sun and Moon.”
Though the favorite looked neither to the right nor to the left, he could not but perceive the great homage that was paid him as well by the faces as the voices of the multitude. But one person, a Bonze, seemed transported beyond all the rest with an enthusiasm of admiration, and followed at a respectful distance from his side, bowing to the earth at every ten paces and exclaiming, “Thanks to my lord for his jewels !” After repeating this for about