« PreviousContinue »
I thought of the country; and that was the devil. (Here's the green Jane, Sir, you may see the newly-whitened house a peeping half way down, like a young lass in a corner.) At first I succeeded pretty well in driving the thought off; but in proportion as I stayed longer at the club, and took less exercise, and got of a sickly kind of stomach, I found the thought stuck by me. The brandy and water only did it away for the time. If I had taken to my messages again, I believe they might bave helped me, but I was too lazy, and to tell you the truth, was ashamed. I thought, as the Irishman might say, it would be like laughing in my own face. So I crept on, and crept on, and got very miserable. I went to my old bowling-green; but that made me worse. I then bethought me of seeing the prospect from the Monument; for though it was part of my bargain never to see the face of the country again, I had a right, you know, Sir, to look upon that as what they call a figure of speech. So I went up; and I shall never forget! I made haste down again, for I thought I should have thrown myself from the top. But I couldn't sleep that night for thinking of the beautiful prospect, the water and distance on one side, and the green
hills on the other : and next evening, as my stars would have it, I went to the theatre, and there what should I see but Love in a Village! Lord, lord ! How merry and how sad I was by turns! There was a dance in it ready to make me get up and dance over the gallery; and there was the old gouty Justice, and Master Hawthorn with his gun, and the pair of lovers in disguise, and gardens and arbours, and the old songs that I sung when a lad! I couldn't help humming in with some of them, in spite of the looks of people about me.
• It was all over with me after this. I had already began to find myself a sort of a knave in this unnatural situation. My old pensioner had got his money much like the rest of 'em, by charging, and squeezing, and doing no good that ever I heard of; and I began to think it might not be so very bad to cheat him a little in the business.
Ah, what you shake your head ;-well, and so did I, and my heart too ;- but
shall hear. What made me less scrupulous was the news of his going out of town himself for the benefit of the air. It struck me, to be sure, that I was going to do a wrong thing; but then I thought he was very hardupon me too, and unjust, and might have given me lhe pension for what I had done already, instead of what I was to do ; and so as wrong produces wrong, and nothing, I find, makes one so careless as injustice in one's superiors, I made up my mind to take my pleasure, and suffer pain for it less intolerable than the one I felt.
“ Well, Sir, I found afterwards that my old gentleman went no farther than Hornsey, a very pretty place too, where the New River runs, and very rural. Ah, you know it:-well, now, Sir, it so happened, that he hadn't been there above a month, when he heard of a man, who was quite opposite to what he found me, and who came there sometimes of an afternoon to a pretty house and tea-gardens, and talked away at a great rate against the town.
“Oh, the rascal!” said he ; " I suppose he is some fellow running away from the bailiffs :-I should like to tell him of my fellow in the city."
Here I burst out into a fit of laughter, and my hero joined me very heartily, holding his sides, with the tears in his eyes, and whining between the fits at the top of his voice.
“Well, Sir," he resumed, " the old gentleman -- the old gentleman -- he told the waiter he should like to be shewn into the room where the fellow was making merry; and so, one Wednesday afternoon one Wednesday afternoon, - • when a whole set of us had got together, and were in the act of hurraing, in he comes, and there was I,--yes, Sir, there was I, standing on the table, with a glass of cyder in my hand, just going to give the last hurra; but I caught his eye, and he caught mine, and we stood gaping at each other.
“ You may guess the result, Sir. It wasn't much after the fashion of some stories I have read. I didn't convert him with my example, nor he me with his. I lost my pension, made up matters with my conscience, and should never have slept sounder than the night after, if I hadn't been too happy with thinking how I should go into the country. Heaven be praised, I was enabled to go very shortly; for my young master, hearing of my adventure, sent for me down here, and made me his gardener; and so I left off my brandy and water, and took to exercise again, as well as my book, and have a neighbour or so to visit me of an evening, or go to them, and tell merry tales with the young ones, and should be as healthy and happy as the day is long, if it wasn't for seeing so many people plagued with the taxes and such things. But if we must be plagued sometimes, it's a sort of happiness, in my mind, to be plagued in fresh air, instead of foul; and so, Sir, I have made a terrible long business of my story, and here you are at your antiquities.”
I thanked him very sincerely for his history, and invited myself with great willingness on his part, to a cup of his tea, in my way home. I did not remain long where he left me; for not having an antiquary's experience, I could find nothing of what I looked for, except the mark of a dyke; and having inspected that with much pretended satisfaction to myself, and felt some of the real emotion, which the thought of any thing old and lasting is sure to give us in this life, I reached my new old acquaintance just as he was entering his door, and took one of the pleasantest cups of tea I ever had in my life, with him and his neighbour Parkins, who was an old sailor, and had been half round the world. A day or two after, I sent my old anti-metropolitan, who pressed me to call that way again, if he might be so bold,-a few books of poetry and story, among which was Fairfax's Tasso, with the page marked down where Erminia gets among the country people.
Orders received by the Booksellers, by the Newsmen, and by the Publisher,
Joseph APPLEYARD, No. 19, Catherine-street, Strand.-Price 2d. Printed by C. H. REYNELL, No. 45, Broad-street, Golden-square, London.
THE INDICATOR. .
There he arriving round about doth flie,
No. XVII.-WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 2nd, 1820.
THE OLD GENTLEMAN. Our Old Gentleman, in order to be exclusively bimself, must be either a widower or a bachelor. Suppose the former. We do not mention his precise age, which would be invidious:—nor whether he wears his own hair or a wig; which would be wanting in universality. If a wig, it is a compromise between the more modern scratch and the departed glory of the toupee. If his own hair, it is white, in spite of his favourite grandson, who used to get on the chair behind him, and pull the silver hairs out, ten years ago. If he is bald at top, the hair-dresser, hovering and breathing about him like a second youth, takes care to give the bald place as much powder as the covered; in order that he may convey to the sensorium within a pleasing indistinctness of idea respecting the exact limits of skin and hair. He is very clean and neat; and, in warm weather, is proud of opening his waistcoat half way down, and letting so much of his frill be seen, in order to shew his hardiness as well as taste. His watch and shirt-buttons are of the best; and he does not care if he has two rings on a finger. If his watch ever failed him at the club or coffee-house, he would take a walk every day to the nearest clock of good character, purely to keep it right. He has a cane at home, but seldom uses it, on finding it out of fashion with his elderly juniors. He has a small cocked hat for gala days, which he lifts higher from his head than the round one, when made a bow to. In his pockets are two handkerchiefs (one for the neck at night-time), his spectacles, and his pocketbook. The pocket-book, among other things, contains a receipt for a cough, and some verses cut out of an odd sheet of an old magazine, on the lovely Duchess of A., beginning
When beauteous Mira walks the plain. He intends this for a common place book which he keeps, consisting of passages in verse and prose cut of newspapers and magazines, and pasted in columns; some of them rather gay. His principal other books are Shakspeare's Plays and Milton's Paradise Lost; the Spectator, the History
of England; the Works of Lady M. W. Montague, Pope, and Churchill; Middleton's Geography, the Gentleman's Magazine; Sir John Sinclair on Longevity; several plays with portraits in character; Account of Elizabeth Canning, Memoirs of George Ann Bellamy, Poetical Amusements at Bath-Easton, Blair's Works, Elegant Extracts; Junius as originally published; a few pamphlets on the American War and Lord George Gordon, &c. and one on the French Revolution. In his sitting rooms are some engravings from Hogarth and Sir Joshua; an engraved portrait of the Marquis of Granby; ditto of M. le Comte de Grasse surrendering to Admiral Rodney; a humourous piece after Penny; and a portrait of himself, painted by Sir Joshua. His wife's portrait is in his chamber, looking upon his bed. She is a little girl, stepping forward with a smile and a pointed toe, as if going to dance. He lost her when she was sixty.
The Old Gentleman is an early riser, because he intends to live at least twenty years longer. He continues to take tea for breakfast, in spite of what is said against it's nervous effects;, having been satisfied on that point some years ago by Dr. Johnson's criticism on Hanway, and a great liking for tea previously. His china cups and saucers have been broken since his wife's death, all but one, which is religiously kept for his use. He passes his morning in walking or riding, looking in at auctions, looking after his India bonds or some such money securities, furthering some subscription set on foot by his excellent friend Sir John, or cheapening a new old print for his portfolio. He also bears of the newspapers; not caring to see them till after dinner at the coffee-house. He may
also cheapen a fish or so; the fishmonger soliciting his doubting eye as he passes, with a profound bow of recognition. He eats a pear before dinner.
His dinner at the coffee-house is served up to him at the accustomed hour, in the old accustomed way, and by the accustomed waiter. If William did not bring it, the fish would be sure to be stale, and the flesh
He eats no tart; or if he ventures on a little, takes cheese with it. You might as soon attempt to persuade him out of his senses, as that cheese is not good for digestion. He takes port; and if he has drank more than usual, and in a more private place, may be induced by some respectful enquiries respecting the old style of music, to sing a song composed by Mr. Oswald or Mr. Lampe, such as
Chloe, by that borrowed kiss,
Come, gentle god of soft repose; or his wife's favourite ballad, beginning
At Upton on the Hill
There lived a happy pair. Of course, no such exploit can take place in the coffee-room; but he will canvass the theory of that matter there with you, or discuss the weather, or the markets, or the theatres, or the merits of "
North" or "my lord Rockingham;" for 'he rarely says simply, lord; it is generally “my lord,” trippingly and genteelly off the tongue. If alone after dinner, his great delight is the newspaper; which he prepares to read by wiping his spectacles, carefully adjusting them on his eyes, and drawing the candle close to him, so as to stand sideways betwixt his ocular aim and the small type. He then holds the paper at arms length, and dropping his eyelids half down and his mouth half
takes cog. nizance of the day's information. If he leaves off, it is only when the door is opened by a new comer, or when he suspects somebody is overanxious to get the paper out of his hand. On these occasions, he gives an important hem! or so; and resumes.
In the evening, our Old Gentleman is fond of going to the theatre, or of having a game of cards. If he enjoys the latter at his own house or lodgings, he likes to play with some friends whom he has known for many years; but an elderly stranger may be introduced, if quiet and scientific; and the privilege is extended to younger men of letters; who, if ill players, are good losers. Not that he is a miser; but to win money at cards is like proving his victory by getting the baggage; and to win of a younger man is a substitute for his not being able to beat him at rackets. He breaks up early, whether at home or abroad.
At the theatre, he likes a front row in the pit. He comes early, if he can do so without getting into a squeeze, and sits patiently waiting for the drawing up of the curtain, with his hands placidiy lying one over the other on the top of his stick. He generously admires some of the best performers, but thinks them far inferior to Garrick, Woodward, and Clive. During splendid scenes, he is anxious that the little boy should see.
He has been induced to look in at Vauxhall again, but likes it still less than he did years back, and cannot bear it in comparison with Ranelagh. He thinks every thing looks poor, flaring, and jaded. “Ah!” says he, with a sort of triumphant sigh, “ Ranelagh was a noble place! Such taste, such elegance, such beauty! There was the Duchess of A., the finest woman in England, Sir; and Mrs. L. a mighty fine creature; and Lady Susan what's her name, that had that unfortunate affair with Sir Charles. Sir, they came swimming by you like the swans.
The Old Gentleman is very particular in having his slippers ready for him at the fire, when he comes 'home. He is also extremely choice in his snuff, and delights to get a fresh box-full in Tavistock-street, in his way to the theatre. His box is a curiosity from India. He calls favourite young ladies by their Christian names, however slightly acquainted with them; and has a privilege also of saluting all brides, mothers, and indeed every species of lady, on the least holiday occasion. If the husband for instance has met with a piece of luck, he instantly moves forward, and gravely kisses the wife on the cheek. The wife then says, “ My niece, Sir, from the country;" and he kisses the niece. The niece, seeing her cousin biting her lips at the joke, says, “ My cousin Harriet, Sir;" and he kisses the cousin. He never recollects such weather, except during the Great Frost, or when he rode down with Jack Skrimshire to Newmarket. He grows young again in his little grand-children, especially