« PreviousContinue »
rality is unbounded. He alone, of all the beauty. She was a most innocent and kindBrunswick-square coterie, condescended to be- hearted person, and devotedly attached to her stow the slightest attention on English affairs, husband; and yet his bitterest enemy could and had the goodness to apply himself with hardly have contrived to say more provoking unfeigned earnestness to the improvement of things to and of him than she did in her fondour condition. Thus, whilst one pocket was ness. I will give one instance; I might give fifiy. filled with proposals to cut off the French L'Abbé de Lille, the celebrated French poet, army, and schemes to blow up the 'Tuilleries, and M. de Calonne, the no less noted ex-min(for though one of the most benevolent and ister, had promised one Saturday to join the mild-tempered men on earth, he was a perfect party in Brunswick-square. They came; and Guy Faux on paper,) the other was crammed our chevalier, who had a tolerable opinion of with plans to pay off the national debt, thoughts his own powers as a verse-maker, could not of the commutation of tithes, and hints for a miss so fair an opportunity of display. Acgeneral enclosure bill. He had usually some cordingly, about half an hour before supper,
little private projects too, and many an un- he put on a look of distraction, strode hastily wary fellow-speculator hath rued his patents two or three times up and down the room, for making coals better than those of Newcas. slapped his forehead, and muttered a line or tle out of dirt and ashes, his improved Argand two to himself; then calling hastily for pen lamps, and self-working fishing-nets. In short, and paper, began writing with the illegible he was a thorough projector, one that “never rapidity of one who fears to lose a happy was, but always to be," rich ; quick, imagina- thought, a life-and-death kind of speed; then tive, plausible, eloquent, and the more dan- stopped a moment, as pausing for a word, then gerous because he was thoroughly honest, and went on again fast, fast; then read the lines Iliad himself an entire faith in one scheme, till or seemed to read; then made a slight alter
it was chased away by another, - a bubble ation ;-in short, he acted incomparably the like the rest!
whole agony of composition, and finally with Then came the chevalier des I.
becoming diffidence presented the impromptu
to our worthy host, who immediately imparted By my life, That Davies hath a mighty pretty wise!"
it to the company. It was heard with the
lively approbation with which verses of comThe chevalier was a handsome man himself, pliment, read aloud in presence of the author tall, dark-visaged and whiskered, with a look and of the parties complimented, are sure to rather of the new than of the old French be received ; and really, as far as I remember, school, fierce and soldierly; he was accom- the lines were very neatly turned. At last the plished, too, in his way, played the flute, and commerce of flattery ceased. Bows, speeches, wrote songs and enigmas; but his wife was blushes, and apologies, were over; the author's undoubtedly the most remarkable thing be- excuses, the ex-minister's and the great poet's longing to him; not that she was a beauty thanks, and the applause of the audience, died either; I should rather call her the prettiest of away; all that could he said about the im
pretty women; she was short, well-made, with promptu was exhausted, the topic was fairly fine black eyes, long glossy black hair, a clear worn out, and a pause ensued, which was bro
brown complexion, a cocked-up nose, red lips, ken by madame des I. who had witnessed the white teeth, and a most bewitching dimple. whole scene with intense pleasure, and now There was a tasteful smartness in her dress, exclaimed, with tears standing in her beautiful
which with a gentillesse in her hair, and a eyes, “How glad I am they like the impromptu! piquancy of expression, at once told her coun- My poor dear chevalier! No tongue can tell
try, and gave a promise of intelligence and whai pains it has cost him! There he was all feeling. No one could look at her without yesterday evening, writing, writing,—all the being persuaded that she was equally sensible night long-never went to bed, -all to-dayand lively; but no one could listen to her with only finished just before we came,-My poor out discovering the mistake. She was the sil- dear chevalier! I should have been so sorry liest Frenchwoman I ever encountered, — I if they had not liked his impromptu! Now have met with some as stupid among my own he'll be satisfied.” Be it recorded to the countrywomen; Heaven forbid that we should honour of French politeness, that, finding it in any thing yield the palm to our neighbours ! impossible to stop, or to out-talk her (both
She never opened her lips without uttering which experiments were tried), the whole some bêtise. Her poor husband, himself not party pretended not to hear, and never once the wisest of men, quite dreaded her speak- alluded to this impromptu fait à loisir, till the ing; for, besides that he was really fond of discomfited chevalier 'sneaked off with his her, he knew that the high-born circle of which pretty simpleton, smiling and lovely as ever, she formed a part, would be particularly on and wholly unconscious of offence. Then, to the watch for her mistakes, as she was rołu- be sure, they did laugh. rière, the daughter of a farmer-general, who I have committed a great breach of etiquette bad fallen a sacrifice to the inhuman tyranny in mentioning the chevalier and his lady before of Robespierre, leaving her no dower but her the Baron de G. and his daughter Angelique.
I question if the baron would forgive me; for baron. The recognition was mutual. I shall he was of Alsace, and, though he called him- never forget the start he gave when in the self French, had German blood and quarter- middle of the first couillon, he espied the ings, and pride enough for a prince of the em- little girl whom he had been used to see at pire. He was a fine-looking man of fifty, tall, the corner of the supper-table in Brunswickpright, and active, and still giving tokens of square, every Saturday evening: He coloured having been in his youth one of the handsomest with shame and anger, his hand trembled, and figures and best dancers at Versailles. He his voice faltered ; but as he would not know was the least gay of the party, perhaps the me, I had the discretion not to appear to know least happy; for his pride kepi him in a state him, and said nothing of the affair till I again of prickly defiance against all mankind. He visited my kind cousin. I never saw any one had the miserable jealousy of poverty, of one more affected than she was on hearing my "fallen from his high estate,” suspected story. That this cold, proud, haughty man, insults where they were never dreamed of, and to whom any thing that savoured of humiliasifted civility, to see whether an affront, a tion seemed terrible, should so far abase his lurking snake, might be concealed beneath the nobility for Angelique and independence, was roses. The smallest and most authorized pre- wonderful! She could not refrain from tellsent, even fruit and game, were peremptorily ing her husband, but the secret was carefully rejected ; and, if he accepted the Saturday- guarded from every one besides; and, except evening's invitation, it was evidently because that they showed him an involuntary increase he could not find in his heart to refuse a plea respect, and that I could not help drawing sure to his daughter. Angelique was, indeed, myself up and sitting rather more upright a charming creature, fair, blooming, modest than ordinary when he happened to look at and gentle, far more English than French in me, nothing indicated any suspicion of the person, manner, and dress, doting on her father, circumstance. soothing his little infirmities of temper, and In the mean time the fair Angelique, who ministering in every way to his comfort and was treated with the customary disregard happiness. Never did a father and a daughter shown to unmarried beauties by her countryJove each other better; and that is saying men, (whose devoirs the old duchess, the much. He repaid her care and affection with crooked ambassadress, and the squinting the most unbounded fondness, and a liberality countess, entirely engrossed.) was gradually that had no limit but his power. Mademoi- making an English conquest of no small imselle de G. was the best dressed, best lodged, portance. The eldest son of a rich merchant, and best-attended of any lady of the circle. who had been connected with our host in The only wonder was how the baron could several successful speculations, and was esafford it. Every one else had some visible ceedingly intimate with the family, begged to resource, of which they were so little ashamed be admitted to the Saturday evening coterie. that it was as freely communicated as any His request was readily granted; he came at news of the day. We all knew that the am- first from curiosity, but that feeling was soon bassadress and her brother the marquis lived exchanged for a deeper and more tender pastogether on a small pension allotted to the lady sion; and at last he ventured to disclose his by a foreign court, in reward of certain imputed love, first to the lady of his heart, and then services rendered to the Bourbons by her hus- to their mutual friend. Neither frowned on band; that the count taught French, Latin, the intelligence, although both apprehended and Italian ; that the abbé contrived in some some difficulties. How would the baron look way or other to make his projects keep him; on a man who could hardly trace his ancestors and that the pretty wife of the chevalier, more farther back than his grandfather? And how learned in bonnets than in impromptus, kept a again would these rich citizens, equally proud very tasty and well-accustomed milliner's shop in a different way, relish an alliance with a somewhere in the region of Cranbourne-alley: man who, however highly descended, was but the baron's means of support continued as neither more or less than a dancing-master? much a puzzle as the ambassador's destination. But pride melts before love, like frost in the At last, chance let me into the secret. Our sunshine. All parties were good and kind, English dancing-master waxed old and rich, all obstacles were overcome, and all faults and retired from the profession; and our forgotten. The rich merchant forgave the worthy governess vaunted loudly of the French , baron's poverty, and the baron (which was gentleman whom she had engaged as his suc- more difficult) forgave his wealth. The callcessor, and of the reform that would be worked ing which had only been followed for Anin the heads and heels of her pupils, grown gelique's sake, was for her sake abandoned ; heavy and lumpish under the late instructor. the fond father consented to reside with her; The new master arrived ; and, whilst a boy and surrounded by her lovely family, freed who accompanied him was tuning his kit, and from poverty and its distressing consciousness, he himself paying his respects to the gover- and from all the evils of false shame, he has ness, I had no difficulty in discovering under long been one of the happiest, as he was al: a common French name, my acquaintance the ways one of the best, of French emigrants.
a dark closet to keep him out of harm's way, THE INQUISITIVE GENTLEMAN. chiefly moved thereto by his ripping open his
own bed, to see what it was made of, and One of the most remarkable instances that throwing her best gown into the fire, to try if I know of that generally false theory“ the silk would burn. Then he was sent to school, ruling passion," is my worthy friend Samuel a preparatory school, and very soon sent home Lyns, Esq., of Lynx Hall in this county — again for incorrigible mischief. Then a pricommonly called the Inquisitive Gentleman. vate tutor undertook to instruct him on the Never was cognomen better bestowed. Curi- interrogative system, which in his case was osity is, indeed, the master-principle of his obliged to be reversed, he asking the quesmind, the life-blood of his existence, the main- tions, and the tutor delivering the responsesspring of every movement.
a new cast of the didactic drama. Then he Mr. Lynx is an old bachelor of large for- went to college; then sallied forth to ask his tune and ancient family ; - the Lynxes of way over Europe; then came back to fix on Lynx Hall, have amused themselves with his paternal estate of Lynx Hall, where, exoverlooking their neighbours' doings for many cept occasional short absences, he hath sogenerations. He is tall, but loses something journed ever since, signalizing himself at of his height by a constant habit of stooping; every stage of existence, from childhood to 'he carries his head projecting before his body, youth, from youth to manhood, from manhood
- like one who has just proposed a question to age, by the most lively and persevering and is bending forward to receive an answer. curiosity, and by no other quality under heaA lady being asked, in his presence, what his ven. features indicated, replied with equal truth If he had not been so entirely devoid of and politeness—a most inqniring mind. The ambition, I think he might have attained to cock-up of the nose, which seems from the eminence in some smaller science, and have 'expansion and movement of the nostrils to be gained and received a name from a new snuffing up intelligence, as a hound does the moss, or an undiscovered butterfly. His keenair of a dewy morning, when the scent lies ness and sagacity would also have told well well; the draw-down of the half-open mouth in antiquarian researches, particularly in any gaping for news; the erected chin; the of the standing riddles of history, the Gowrie wrinkled forehead; the little eager sparkling conspiracy, for instance, or the guilt of queen eyes, half shut, yet full of curious meanings; Mary, respecting which men may inquire and the strong red eye-brows, protruded like a cat's puzzle themselves from the first of January whiskers or a snail's horns, feelers, which to the last of December without coming at actually seem sentient; every line and linea- all nearer to the solution. But he has no ment of that remarkable physiognomy betrays great pleasure in literature of any sort. Even a craving for information. He is exceedingly the real parentage. of the Waverley novels, short-sighted; and that defect also, although, although nothing in the shape of a question on the first blush of the business, it might comes amiss to him, did not interest him seem a disadvantage, conduces materially to quite so much as might be expected; perhaps the great purpose of his existence—the knows because it was so generally interesting. He ledge of other people's affairs. Sheltered by prefers the “ Bye-ways to the High-ways that infirmity, our * curious impertinent" can of literature. The secrets of which every stare at things and persons through his glasses one talks, are hardly, in his mind, “ Secrets in a manner which even he would scarcely worth knowing." venture with bare eyes. He can peep and Besides, mere quiet guessing is not active pry and feel and handle, with an effrontery enough for his stirring and searching faculty. never equalled by an unspectacled man. He He delights in the difficult, the inaccessible, can ask the name and parentage of every body the hidden, the obscure. A forbidden place in company, toss over every book, examine is his paradise; a board announcing “ steelevery note and card, pull the flowers from the traps and spring guns" will draw him over a vases, take the pictures from the walls, the em- wall twelve feet high; he would undoubtedly broidery from your work-box, and the shawl have entered Blue-beard's closet, although off your back; and all with the most pro- certain to share the fate of his wives; and has voking composure, and just as if he was had serious thoughts of visiting Constantinodoing the right thing.
ple, just to indulge his taste by stealing a The propensity seems to have been born glimpse of the secluded beauties of the sewith him. He pants after secrets, just as raglio-an adventure which would probably magpies thieve, and monkeys break china, by have had no very fortunate termination. Ininstinct. His nurse reports of him that he deed our modern peeping Tom has encountered came peeping into the world; that his very several mishaps at home in the course of his cries were interrogative, and his experiments long search after knowledge; and has genein physics so many and so dangerous, that rally had the very great aggravation of being before he was four years old, she was fain to altogether unpitied. Once, as he was taking tie his hands behind him, and to lock him into la morning ride, in trying to look over a wall
a little higher than his head, he raised him-l lives. There is a curious infelicity about him, self in the saddle, and the sagacious quadru- which carries him straight to the wrong point. ped, his grey pony, an animal of a most If there be such a thing as a sore subject, he accommodating and congenial spirit, having is sure to press on it, to question a parvenu on been, for that day, discarded in favour of a his pedigree, a condemned author on his trayounger, gayer, less inquisitive and less pa- gedy, an old maid on her age. Besides these tient steed, the new beast sprang on and left iniquities, his want of sympathy is so open him sprawling. Once, when in imitation of and undisguised, that the most loquacious : Ranger, he had perched himself on the top- egotist loses the pleasure of talking of himmost round of a ladder, which he found self, in the evident absence of all feeling or placed beneath a window in Upper Berkeley- interest on the part of the hearer. His constreet, he lost his balance, and was pitched versation is always more like a judicial exsuddenly in through the sash, to the unspeak- amination than any species of social interable consternation of a house-maid, who was course, and often like the worst sort of exam. rubbing the panes within side. Once he was ination--cross-questioning. He demands, like tossed into an open carriage, full of ladies, as a secretary to the inquisition, and you answer he stood up to look at them from the box of a (for you must answer) like a prisoner on the
stage-coach. And once he got a grievous rack. Then the man is so mischievous! he knock from a chimney-sweeper, as he poked rattles old china, marches over flower-beds, bis head into the chimney to watch his ope- and paws Irling's lace. The people at murations. He has been blown up by a rocket; seums and exhibitions dread the sight of him. carried away in the strings of a balloon; all He cannot keep his hands from moths and but drowned in a diving-bell: lost a finger in humming-birds; and once poked up a rattlea mashing-mill; and broken a great toe by snake to discover whether the joints of the drawing å lead pin-cushion off a work-table. tail did actually produce the sound from which! N. B. this last-mentioned exploit spoilt my it derives its name; by which attack that pugworthy old friend, Miss Sewaway, a beautiful nacious reptile was excited to such wrath that piece of fine netting, “worth," as she em- two ladies fell into hysterics. He nearly dephatically remarked, " a thousand toes.” molished the Invisible Girl by too rough an
These are only a few of the bodily mischiefs inquiry into her existence; and got turned out that have befallen poor Mr. Lynx. The mo- of the automaton chess-player's territories, in ral scrapes, into which his unlucky propensity consequence of an assault which he committed has brought him, are past all count. In his on that ingenious piece of mechanism. To, youth, although so litije amorous, that I have do Mr. Lynx justice, I must admit that he i reason to think, the formidable interrogatory sometimes does a little good to all this harm. which is emphatically called “popping the He has, by design or accident, in the ordinary question,” is actually the only question which exercise of his vocation, hindered two or three he has never popped ;-in his youth, he was duels, prevented a good deal of poaching and very nearly drawn into wedlock by the sedu- pilfering, and even saved his own house, and lous attention which he paid to a young lady, the houses of his neighbours from divers burwhom he suspected of carrying on a clandes- glaries ; his vigilance being, at least, as useful, tine correspondence. The mother scolded; in that way, as a watchman or an alarm-bell. the father stormed; the brother talked of sa He makes but small use of his intelligence, tisfaction; and poor Mr. Lynx, who is as pa- however come by, which is, perhaps, occasioncific as a Quaker, must certainly have been ed by a distinctive difference of sex.
A WOmarried, had not the fair nymph eloped to man only half as curious would be prodigal Gretna Green, the day before that appointed of information-a spendthrift of_news.
Mr. for the nuptials. So he got off for the fright. Lynx hoards his, like a miser. Possession is He hath undergone at least twenty challenges his idol. If I knew any thing which I parfor different sorts of impertinences; hath had ticularly wished the world not to know, I his ears boxed and his nose pulled; hath been should certainly tell it to him at once.
A seknocked down and horsewhipped; all which cret with him, is as safe as money in the bank; casualties he bears with an exemplary pa- the only peril lies in the ardour of his pursuit. tience. He hath been mistaken for a thief, a One reason for his great discretion seems to bailiff, and a spy, abroad and at home; and me to be his total incapacity of speech --in once, on the Sussex coast, was so inquisitive any other than the interrogative mood. His respecting the moon, and the tide, and the free very tone is set to that key. I doubt if he trade, that he was taken at one and the same can drop his voice at the end of a sentence, or time, by the different parties, for a smuggler knows the meaning of a full stop. Who? and a revenue officer, and narrowly escaped What? When? Where? How ? are his being shot in the one capacity, and hanged in catchwords; and Eh? his only interjection. the other.
Children and poor people, and all awkward The evils which he inflicts bear a tolerably persons who like to be talked to, and to talk fair proportion to those which he endures. He again,—but do not very well understand how is, simply, the most disagreeable man that I to set about it, delight in Mr. Lynx's notice.
His catechetical mode of conversation en As I live, here he is ! just alighting from chants them, especially as he is of a liberal the grey poney, asking old Dame Wheeler turn, and has generally some loose silver in what makes her lame on one side, and little his pocket to bestow on a good answerer. Jemmy White, why his jacket is ragged on To be sure the rapidity of his questions some- the other-bawling to both-Dame Wheeler times a little incommodes our country dames, is deaf, and Jemmy stupid : and she is anwho when fairly set into a narrative of griev- swering at cross purposes, and he staring ances do not care to be interrupted ; but the with his mouth open, and not answering at 'honour of telling their histories and the histo- all, and Mr. Lynx is pouring question on
ries of all their neighbours to a gentleman, question as fast as rain-drops in a thundermakes ample amends for this little alloy... shower-Well I must put away my desk, and They are the only class who can endure his my papers, especially this, for I should not society, and he returns the compliment by quite like to have the first benefit of the true showing a very decided preference for theirs. and faithful likeness, which I have been The obscure has a remarkable charm for him. sketching; I must put it away; folding and To enjoy it in perfection, he will often repair sealing will hardly do, for though I don't to some great manufacturing town where he think I can scarcely imagine, that he would is wholly unknown, and deposit himself in actually break open a sealed packet,-yet man some suburban lodging, in a new-built row, is frail; I have a regard for my old friend, with poplars before the door, when, inviting and will not put him in the way of temptation. his landlady to make tea for him, he gains, by aid of that genial beverage, an insight into all the loves and hatreds, “ kitchen cabals and nursery mishaps,”-in a word, all the scandal of the town. Then he is happy.
WALKS IN THE COUNTRY. Travelling is much to his taste; as are also Stage Coaches, and Steam Packets, and Dili THE OLD HOUSE AT ABERLEIGH. gences, and generally all places where people meet and talk, especially an inn, which is JUNE 25th.—What a glowing, glorious day! capital questioning ground, and safer than Summer in its richest prime, noon in its most i most other. There is a license, a liberty, a sparkling brightness, little white clouds dapfreedom in the very name, and besides people pling the deep blue sky, and the sun, now, do not stay long enough to be affronted. He partially veiled, and now bursting through spends a good deal of his time in these pri- them with an intensity of light! It would vileged abodes, and is well known as the not do to walk to-day, professedly to walk,Inquisitive Gentleman, on most of the great we should be frightened at the very sound; Triads, although his seat of Lynx Hall is un- and yet it is probable that we may be beguiled doubtedly his principal residence. It is most into a pretty long stroll before we return home. commodiously situated, on a fine eminence We are going to drive to the old house at overlooking three counties; and he spends Aberleigh, to spend the morning under the most of his time in a sort of observatory, shade of those balmy firs, and amongst those which he has built on a rising ground, at the luxuriant rose-trees, and by the side of that edge of the park, where he has mounted a brimming Loddon river. 6. Do not expect us telescope, by means of which he not only before six o'clock," said I, as I left the house ; commands all the lanes and bye-paths in the “Six at soonest !” added my charming comneighbourhood, but is enabled to keep a good panion; and off we drove in our little pony look out, on the great northern road, two chaise drawn by our old mare, and with the
1 miles off, to oversee the stage-coaches, and good-humoured urchin, Henry's successor, a keep an eye on the mail. The manor lies in sort of younger Scrub, who takes care of horse two parishes—another stroke of good fortune! and chaise, and cow and garden, for our cha-since the gossiping of both villages seems rioteer. to belong to him of territorial right. Vestries, My comrade in this homely equipage was work-houses, schools, all are legitimately a young lady of high family and higher endowground of inquiry. Besides his long and in- ments, to whom the novelty of the thing, and timate acquaintance with the neighbourhood her own naturalness of character and simi is an inestimable advantage, to a man of his plicity of taste gave an unspeakable enjoyment. turn of mind, and supplies, by detail and She danced the little chaise up and down as minuteness, what might be wanted in variety she got into it, and laughed for very glee like, and novelty. He knows every man, woman a child. Lizzy herself could not have been and child, horse, cow, pig and dog, within more delighted. She praised the horse and half a dozen miles, and has a royal faculty the driver, and the roads and the scenery, and of not forgetting, so that he has always plenty gave herself fully up to the enchantment of a of matter for questions, and most of the rural excursion in ihe sweetest weather of
people being his tenants, answers come quick- this sweet season. I enjoyed all this too; ly. He used
for the road was pleasant to every sense,