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ejaculation of “ Eh — Christ!". We never see anybody go to the window of a rainy morning, but we think of this poor old barometer of a Patentee, whose face, we trust, will be handed down in successive fac-similes to posterity, for their edification as well as amusement ; for Tate had cultivated much hypochondriacal knowledge in his time, and been a sad fellow, in a merry sense, before he took to it in its melancholy one.
The preparation for a rainy clay in town is certainly not the pleasantest thing in the world, especially for those who have neither health nor imagination to make their own sunshine. The comparative silence in the streets, which is made dull by our knowing the cause of it, — the windowpanes drenched and ever-streaming, like so many helpless cheeks, — the darkened rooms, - and at this season of the year, the having left off fires ; all fall like a chill shade upon the spirits. But we know not how much pleasantry can be made out of unpleasantness, till we bestir ourselves. The exercise of our bodies will make us bear the weather better, even mentally; and the exercise of our minds will enable us to bear it with patient bodies in-cloors, if we cannot go out. Above all, some people seem to think that they cannot have a fire made in a chill day, because it is summer-time, - a notion which, under the guise of being seasonable, is quite the reverse, and one against which we protest. A fire is a thing to warm us when we are cold ; not to go out because the name of the month begins with J. Besides, the sound of it helps to dissipate that of the rain. It is justly called a companion. It looks glacl in our faces ; it talks to us ; it is vivified at our touch ; it vivifies in return; it puts life and warmth and comfort in the room. A good fellow is bound to see that he leaves this substitute for his company when he goes
out, especially to a lady; whose solitary work-table in a chill room on such a day, is a very melancholy refuge. We exhort her, if she can afford it, to take a book and a footstool, and plant herself before a good fire. We know of few baulks more complete, than coming down of a chill morning to breakfast, turning one's chair as usual to the fireside, planting one's feet on the fender and one's eyes on a book, and suddenly discovering that there is no fire in the grate. A grate, that ought to have a fire in it, and gapes in one's face with none, is like a cold, grinning, empty rascal.
There is something, we think, not disagreeable in issuing forth during a good, honest summer rain, with a coat well buttoned up, and an umbrella over our heads. The first flash open of the umbrella seems a defiance to the shower, and the sound of it afterwards, over our dry heads, corroborates the triumph. If we are in this humor, it does not matter how drenching the day is. We despise the expensive effeminacy of a coach; have an agreeable malice of self-content at the sight of crowded gate-ways ; and see nothing in the furious little rain-spouts, but a lively emblem of critical opposition, weak, low, washy, and dirty, gabbling away with a perfect impotence of splutter.
Speaking of malice, there are even some kinds of legs which afford us a lively pleasure in beholding them splashed.
Lady. Lord, you cruel man !
Author. Nay, I was not speaking of yours, madam. How could I wish ill to any such very touching stockings ? And yet, now I think of it, there are very gentle and sensitive legs (I say nothing of beautiful ones, because all gentle ones are beautiful to me), which it is possible to behold in a very earthy plight ;- at least the feet and ankles.
L. And pray, sir, what are the very agreeable circumstances under which we are to be mudded ?
ruthor. 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 superfluity; 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 west,and 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.t
* “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) “The Seer." - ED.