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was grace itself. She was, in short, the very and Shakspeare, and Richardson's novels, in picture of youth, health, and happiness. No which she was learned ; but then her powers one could see her without being prepossessed of observation were sharpened and quickened, in her favour. I took a fancy to her the mo- in a very unusual degree, by the leisure and ment she entered the room; and it increased opportunity afforded for their developement, at every hour in spite of, or rather perhaps for, a time of life when they are most acute. She certain deficiencies, which caused poor Cousin had nothing to distract her mind. Her attenMary to be held exceedingly cheap by her ac- tion was always awake and alive. She was complished relatives.
an excellent and curious naturalist, merely beShe was the youngest daughter of an officer cause she had gone into the fields with her of rank, dead long ago; and his sickly widow eyes open; and knew all the details of rural having lost by death, or that other death, management, domestic or agricultural, as well marriage, all her children but this, could not, as the peculiar habits and modes of thinking from very fondness, resolve to part with her of the peasantry, simply because she had lived darling for the purpose of acquiring the com- in the country, and made use of her ears. monest instruction. She talked of it, indeed, Then she was fanciful, recollective, new; now and then, but she only talked ; so that, drew her images from the real objects, not in this age of universal education, Mary C. at from their shadows in books. In short, to eighteen exhibited the extraordinary pheno- listen to her, and the young ladies her commenon of a young woman of high family, panions, who, accomplished to the height, had whose acquirements were limited to reading, trodden the education-mill till they all moved writing, needle-work, and the first rules of in one step, had lost sense in sound, and ideas arithmetic. The effect of this let-alone system, in words, was enough to make us turn masters combined with a careful seclusion from all im- and governesses out of doors, and leave our proper society, and a perfect liberty in her daughters and grand-daughters to Mrs. C.'s country rambles, acting upon a mind of great system of non-instruction. I should have power and activity, was the very reverse of liked to meet with another specimen, just to what might have been predicted. It had pro- ascertain whether the peculiar charm and adduced noi merely a delightful freshness and vantage arose from the quick and active mind originality of manner and character, a piquant of this fair Ignorant, or was really the natural ignorance of those things of which one is tired and inevitable result of the training ; but, to death, but knowledge, positive, accurate, alas ! to find more than one unaccomplished and various knowledge. She was, to be sure, young lady, in this accomplished age, is not wholly unaccomplished; knew nothing of qua- to be hoped for. So I admired and envied ; drilles, though her every motion was dancing: and her fair kinswoman pitied and scorned, nor a note of music, though she used to war- and tried to teach ; and Mary, never made for ble, like a bird, sweet snatches of old songs, a learner, and as full of animal spirits as a as she skipped up and down the house; nor school-boy in the holidays, sang, and laughed, of painting, except as her taste had been form- and skipped about from morning till night. ed by a minute acquaintance with nature into It must be confessed, as a counter-balance an intense feeling of art. She had that real to her other perfections, that the dear Cousin extra sense, an eye for colour, too, as well as Mary was, as far as great natural modesty an ear for music. Not one in twenty-not and an occasional touch of shyness would let one in a hundred of our sketching and copying her, the least in the world of a romp! She ladies could love and appreciate a picture loved to toss about children, to jump over where there was colour and mind, a picture stiles, to scramble through hedges, to climb by Clande, or by our English Claudes, Wil- trees; and some of her knowledge of plants son and Hoffland, as she could—for she loved and birds may certainly have arisen from her landscape best, because she understood it best delight in these boyish amusements. And -It was a portrait of which she knew the which of us has not found that the strongest, original
. Then her needle was in her hands the healthiest, and most flourishing acquirealmost a pencil. I never knew such an ment has arisen from pleasure or accident, has embroideress-she would sit “ printing her been in a manner self-sown, like an oak of the thoughts on lawn,” till the delicate creation forest? Oh she was a sad romp; as skittish vied with the snowy tracery, the fantastic as a wild colt, as uncertain as a butterfly, as carving of hoar frost, the richness of Gothic uncatchable as a swallow! But her great architecture, or of that which so much re- personal beauty, the charm, grace, and light
sembles it, the luxuriant fancy of old pointness of her movements, and above all, her lace. That was her only accomplishment, and evident innocence of heart, were bribes of ina rare artist she was-muslin and net were dulgence which no one could withstand. I her canvass. She had no French either, not never heard her blamed by any human being,
a word ; no Italian ; but then her English was The perfect unrestraint of her attitudes, and racy, unhackneyed, proper to the thought to a the exquisite symmetry of her form, would degree that only original thinking could give. have rendered her an invaluable study for a She had not much reading, except of the Bible painter. Her daily doings would have formed
a series of pictures. I have seen her scudding gerous illness of her mother, who, after lanthrough a shallow rivulet, with her petticoats guishing for some months, died; and Mary caught up just a little above the ankle, like a went to live with a sister much older than young Diana, and a bounding, skimming, en- herself, and richly married in a manufacturing joying motion, as if native to the element, town, where she languished in smoke, conwhich might have become a Naiad. I have finement, dependence, and display, (for her, seen her on the topmost round of a ladder, sister was a match-making lady, a maneuwith one foot on the roof of a house, flinging vrer) for about a twelvemonth. She then left down the grapes that no one else had nerve her house and went into Wales - as a gor. enough to reach, laughing, and garlanded, anderness! Imagine the astonishment caused by crowned with vine leaves, like a Bacchante. this intelligence amongst us all; for I myself, But the prettiest combination of circumstances though admiring the untaught damsel almost under which I ever saw her, was driving a as much as I loved her, should certainly never donkey cart up a hill one sunny windy day, have dreamed of her as a teacher. However, in September. It was a gay party of young she remained in the rich baronet's family women, some walking, some in open carriages where she had commenced her employment. of different descriptions, bent to see a cele- They liked her apparently, - there she was; brated prospect from a hill called the Ridges. and again nothing was heard of her for many The ascent was by a steep narrow lane, cut months, until, happening to call on the friends deeply between sand-banks, crowned with at whose house I had originally met her, I high feathery hedges. The road and its pic- espied her fair blooming face, a rose amongst turesque banks lay bathed in the golden sun- roses, at the drawing-room window,—and inshine, whilst the autumnal sky, intensely stantly with the speed of light was met and blue, appeared at the top as through an arch. embraced by her at the hall-door. The hill was so steep that we had all dis There was not the slightest perceptible difmounted, and left our different vehicles in ference in her deportment. She still bounded charge of the servants below; but Mary, to like a fawn, and laughed and clapped her whom, as incomparably the best charioteer, hands like an infant. She was not a day the conduct of a certain nondescript machine, older, or graver, or wiser, since we parted. a sort of donkey curricle, had fallen, deter- Her post of tutoress had at least done her no mined to drive a delicate little girl, who was harm, whatever might have been the case with afraid of the walk, to the top of the eminence. her pupils. The more I looked at her, the She jumped out for the purpose, and we fol- more I wondered; and after our mutual exlowed, watching and admiring her as she won pressions of pleasure had a little subsided, I her way up the hill : now tugging at the don- could not resist the temptation of saying, keys in front with her bright face towards “ So you are really a governess !" — “ Yes." them and us, and springing along backwards —" And you continue in the same family?" --now pushing the chaise from behind—now Yes.' _" And you like your post ?". running by the side of her steeds, patting and “O yes, yes !” –“But my dear Mary, what caressing them-now soothing the half fright- could induce you to go ?” — " Why, they ened child—now laughing, nodding, and shak- wanted a governess, so I went.”—“ But what ing her little whip at us -darting about like could induce them to keep you ?" The persome winged creature till at last she stopped fect gravity and earnestness with which this at the top of the ascent, and stood for a mo- question was put, set her laughing, and the ment on the summit, her straw bonnet blown laugh was echoed back from a gromp at the back, and held on only by the strings; her end of the room, which I had not before nobrown hair playing on the wind in long natu- ticed - an elegant man in the prime of life ral ringlets; her complexion becoming every showing a portfolio of rare prints to a fine girl moment more splendid from exertion, redder of twelve, and a rosy boy of seven, evidently and whiter; her eyes and her smile brighten- his children. “ Why did they keep me ? ing and dimpling; her figure in its simple Ask them,” replied Mary, turning towards white gown, strongly relieved by the deep them with an arch smile. ** We kept her to blue sky, and her whole form seeming to di- teach her ourselves," said the young lady. late before our eyes. There she stood under “We kept her to play cricket with us," said the arch formed by two meeting elms, a Hebe, her brother. “We kept her to marry,” said a Psyche, a perfect goddess of youth and joy. the gentleman, advancing gaily to shake hands The Ridges are very fine things altogether, with me. “ She was a bad governess, perespecially the part to which we were bound, haps; but she is an excellent wife — that is a turfy, breezy spot, sinking down abruptly her true vocation.” And so it is. She is, like a rock into a wild foreground of heath indeed, an excellent wife; and assuredly a and forest, with a magnificent command of most fortunate one. I never saw happiness distant objects ; — but we saw nothing that so sparkling or so glowing; never saw such day like the figure on the top of the hill. devotion to a bride, or such fondness for a
After this I lost sight of her for a long time. step-mother, as Sir W. S. and his lovely chil- She was called suddenly home by the dan- dren show to the sweet Cousin Mary.
it now; I have seldom seen it without one. WALKS IN THE COUNTRY. Children love water, clear, bright, sparkling
water; it excites and feeds their curiosity; it VIOLETING.
is motion and life.
a less MARCH 27th. - It is a dull grey morning, lively spot, to that large heavy building on one with a dewy feeling in the air; fresh, but not side of the common, whose solid wings, jutting windy; cool, but not cold ;-the very day for out far beyond the main body, occupy three a person newly arrived from the heat, the glare, sides of a square, and give a cold shadowy the noise, and the fever of London, to plunge look to the court. On one side is a gloomy into the remotest labyrinths of the country, garden, with an old man digging in it, laid out and regain the repose of mind, the calmness in straight dark beds of vegetables, potatoes, of heart, which has been lost in that great cabbages, onions, beans; all earthy and mouldy Babel. I must go violeting—it is a necessity as a newly dug grave. Not a flower or a flow-and I must go alone; the sound of a voice, ering shrub: not a rose-tree, or a currant-bush! even my Lizzy's, the touch of Mayflower's Nothing but for sober melancholy use. Oh bead, even the bounding of her elastic foot, how different from the long irregular slips of would disturb the serenity of feeling which I the cottage-gardens, with their gay bunches am trying to recover. I shall go quite alone, of polyanthuses and crocuses, their wall-flowwith my little basket twisted like a bee-hive, ers, sending sweet odours through the narrow which I love so well, because she gave it to casement, and their gooseberry-trees, bursting me, and kept sacred to violets and to those into a brilliancy of leaf, whose vivid greenness whom I love; and I shall get out of the high has the effect of a blossom on the eye! Oh road the moment I can. I would not meet any how different! On the other side of this one just now, even of those whom I best like gloomy abode is a meadow of that intense to meet.
emerald hue, which denotes the presence of Ha!-Is not that group—a gentleman on a stagnant water, surrounded by willows at regblood horse, a lady keeping pace with him so ular distances, and like the garden, separated gracefully and easily - see how prettily her from the common by a wide, moat-like ditch.
veil waves in the wind, created by her own That is the parish work-house. All about it rapid motion !-and that gay, gallant boy, on is solid, substantial, useful ;—but so dreary ! the gallant white Arabian, curveting at their so cold ! so dark! There are children in the side, but ready to spring before them every court, and yet all is silent. I always hurry instant-is not that chivalrous-looking party, past that place as if it were a prison. Restraint, Mr. and Mrs. M. and dear B. ? No! the ser- sickness, age, extreme poverty, misery, which Fant is in a different livery. It is some of the I have no power to remove or alleviate,—these ducal family, and one of their young Etonians. are the ideas, the feelings, which the sight of I may go on. I shall meet no one now; for those walls excites; yet, perhaps, if not cerI have fairly left the road, and am crossing the tainly, they contain less of that extreme desolea by one of those wandering paths amidst lation than the morbid fancy is apt to paint. the gorse and the heath and the low broom, There will be found order, cleanliness, food, which the sheep and lambs have made-a clothing, warmth, refuge for the homeless, path turfy, elastic, thymy, and sweet even at medicine and attendance for the sick, rest and this season.
sufficiency for old age, and sympathy, the true We have the good fortune to live in an unen- and active sympathy which the poor show to closed parish, and may thank the wise obsti- the poor, for the unhappy. There may be nacy of two or three sturdy farmers, and the worse places than a parish work-house-and lucky unpopularity of a ranting madcap lord yet I hurry past it. The feeling, the prejudice
of the manor, for preserving the delicious green will not be controlled. 4 patches, the islets of wilderness amidst culti The end of the dreary garden edges off into vation, which form perhaps the peculiar beauty a close-sheltered lane, wandering and winding, of English scenery. The common that I am like a rivulet, in gentle “sinuosities,” (to use passing now-the lea, as it is called—is one a word once applied by Mr. Wilberforce to the of the loveliest of these favoured spots. It is Thames at Henley) amidst green meadows, a little sheltered scene; retiring, as it were, all alive with cattle, sheep, and beautiful lambs, from the village ; sunk amidst higher lands, in the very spring and pride of their tottering hills would be almost too grand a word; edged prettiness: or fields of arable land, more lively on one side by one gay high-road, and inter- still with troops of stooping bean-setters, wosected by another; and surrounded by a most men and children, in all varieties of costume picturesque confusion of meadows, cottages, and colour; and ploughs and harrows, with fanns, and orchards; with a great pond in one their whistling boys and steady carters, going corner, unusually bright and clear, giving a through, with a slow and plodding industry, delightful cheerfulness and daylight to the the main business of this busy season. What picture. The swallows haunt that pond; so work bean-setting is ? What a reverse of the do the children. There is a merry group round position assigned to man to distinguish him
from the beasts of the field! Only think of thankful above all for the simple habits, the stooping for six, eight, ten hours a day drilling healthful temperament, which render them so holes in the earth with a little stick, and then dear! Alas! who may dare expect a life of dropping in the beans one by one. They are such happiness ?-Bat I can at least snatch paid according to the quantity they plant; and and prolong the fleeting pleasure, can fill my some of the poor women used to be accused basket with pure flowers, and my heart with of clumping them—that is to say, of dropping pure thoughts; can gladden my little home more than one bean into a hole. It seems to with their sweetness; can divide my treasures me, considering the temptation, that not to with one, a dear one, who cannot seek them; clump is to be at the very pinnacle of human can see them when I shut my eyes; and virtue.
dream of them when I fall asleep. Another turn in the lane, and we come to the house standing amongst the high elmsthe old farm-house, which always, I don't know why, carries back my imagination to Shakspeare's days. It is a long, low, irregular THE TALKING LADY. building, with one room at an angle from the house, covered with ivy, fine white-veined Ben Jonson has a play called The Silent ivy; the first floor of the main building pro- Woman, who turns out, as might be expected, jecting and supported by oaken beams, and to be no woman at all-nothing, as Master one of the windows below, with its old case- Slender said, but “a great lubberly boy;" ment and long narrow panes, forming the half thereby, as I apprehend, discourteously preof a shallow hexagon. A porch with seats in suming that a silent woman is a non-entity. it, surmounted by a pinnacle, pointed roofs, If the learned dramatist, thus happily preand clustered chimneys, complete the picture. pared and pre-disposed, had happened to fall Alas! it is little else but a picture! The very in with such a specimen of female loquacity walls are crumbling to decay under a careless as I have just parted with, he might perhaps landlord and a ruined tenant.
have given us a pendant to his picture in the Now a few yards farther, and I reach the Talking Lady. Pity but he had! He would bank. Ah! I smell them already—their ex- have done her justice, which I could not at quisite perfume steams and lingers in this any time, least of all now: I am too much moist heavy air.— Through this little gate, stunned ; too much like one escaped from a and along the green south bank of this green belfry on a coronation day. I am just resting wheat field, and they burst upon me, the love from the fatigue of four days' hard listening; ly violets, in tenfold loveliness !—The ground four snowy, sleety, rainy days—days of every is covered with them, white and purple, en- variety of falling weather, all of them too bad amelling the short dewy grass, looking but to admit the possibility that any petticoated the more vividly coloured under the dull, thing, were she as hardy as a Scotch fir, leaden sky. There they lie by hundreds, by should stir out,-four days chained by - sad thousands. In former years I have been used civility” to that fire-side, once so quiet, and to watch them from the tiny green bud, till again—cheering thought! again I trust to be one or two stole into bloom. They never so, when the echo of that visiter's incessant came on me before in such a sudden and tongue shall have died away. luxuriant glory of simple beauty,—and I do The visiter in question is a very excellent really owe one pure and genuine pleasure to and respectable elderly lady, upright in mind feverish London!. How beautiful they are and body, with a figure that does honour to placed too, on this sloping bank, with the her dancing-master, a face exceedingly well palm branches waving over them, full of early preserved, wrinkled and freckled, but still fair, bees, and mixing their honeyed scent with the and an air of gentility over her whole person, more delicate violet odour ! How transparent which is not the least affected by her out-ofand smooth and lusty are the branches, full fashion garb. She could never be taken for of sap and life! And there, just by the old any thing but a woman of family, and perhaps mossy root, is a superb tuft of primroses, with she could as little pass for any other ihan an a yellow butterfly hovering over them, like a old maid. She took us in her way from Lonflower floating on the air. What happiness to don to the west of England : and being, as sit on this turfy knoll, and fill my basket with she wrote, “not quite well, not equal to much the blossoms! What a renewal of heart and company, prayed that no other guest might be mind! To inhabit such a scene of peace and admitted, so that she might have the pleasure sweetness is again to be fearless, gay and of our conversation all to herself,"'-(Ours! gentle as a child. Then it is that thought be- as if it were possible for any of us to slide in comes poetry, and feeling religion.—Then it a word edgewise !)—" and especially enjoy is that we are happy and good. Oh that my the gratification of talking over old times with whole life could pass so, floating on blissful the master of the house, her countryman." and innocent sensation, enjoying in peace and Such was the promise of her letter, and to the gratitude the common blessings of Nature, I letter it has been kept. All the news and
scandal of a large county forty years ago, and I neous harangues. The matter of these oraa hundred years before, and ever since, all the tions is inconceivably various. Perhaps the marriages, deaths, births, elopements, law- local and genealogical anecdotes, the sort of suits, and casualties of her own times, her supplement to the history of ***** shire, may father's, grandfather's, great-grandfather's, ne- be her strongest point; but she shines almost phew's, and grand-nephew's, has she detailed as much in medicine and housewifery. Her with a minuteness, an accuracy, a prodigality medical dissertations savour a little of that of learning, a profuseness of proper names, a particular branch of the science called quackpedantry of locality, which would excite the ery. She has a specific against almost every envy of a county historian, a king-at-arıns, or disease to which the human frame is liable; even a Scotch novelist. Her knowledge is and is terribly prosy and unmerciful in her * astonishing; but the most astonishing part of symptoms. Per cures kill. In house-keep! all is how she came by that knowledge. It ing, her notions resemble those of other verbal
should seem, to listen to her, as if, ai some managers; full of economy and retrenchment, time of her life, she must have listened her with a leaning towards reform, though she self; and yet her countryman declares, that in loves so well to declaim on the abuses in the the forty years he has known her, no such cook's department, that I am not sure that she : event has occurred; and she knows new news would very heartily thank any radical who too! It must be intuition.
should sweep them quite away. For the rest, The manner of her speech has little re- her system sounds very finely in theory, but markable. It is rather old-fashioned and pro- rather fails in practice. Her recipes would vincial, but perfectly lady-like, low and gen- be capital, only that some way or other they tle, and not seeming so fast as it is; like the do not eat well; her preserves seldom keep'; great pedestrians she clears her ground easily, and her sweet wines are sure to turn sour. ' and never seems to use any exertion; yet, "I These are certainly her favourite topics; but would my horse had the speed of her tongue, any one will do. Allude to some anecdote of and so good a continuer.” She will talk you the neighbourhood, and she forth with treats sixteen hours a day for twenty days together, you with as many parallel passages as are to ! and not deduct one poor five minutes for halts be found in an air with variations. Take up aad baiting time. Talking, sheer talking, is a new publication, and she is equally at home meat and drink and sleep to her. She likes there; for though she knows little of books, nothing else. Eating is a sad interruption. she has, in the course of an up-and-down life, For the tea-table she has some toleration; but met with a good many authors, and teazes dinner, with its clatter of plates and jingle of and provokes you by telling of them precisely knives and forks, dinner is her abhorrence. what you do not care to hear, the maiden Nor are the other common pursuits of life names of their wives, and the Christian names more in her favour. Walking exhausts the of their daughters, and into what families their breath that might be better employed. Danc- sisters and cousins married, and in what ing is a noisy diversion, and singing is worse; towns they have lived, what streets, and what she cannot endure any music, except the long, numbers. Boswell himself never drew up grand, dull concerto, which nobody thinks of the table of Dr. Johnson's Fleet-street courts listening to. Reading and chess she classes with greater care, than she made out to me together as silent barbarisms, unworthy of a the successive residences of P. P., Esq., ausocial and civilized people. Cards, too, have thor of a tract on the French Revolution, and their faults; there is a rivalry, a mute elo- a pamphlet on the Poor Laws. The very quence in those four aces, that leads away the weather is not a safe subject. Her memory attention; besides, partners will sometimes is a perpetual register of hard frosts, and long scold; so she never plays at cards; and upon dronghts, and high winds, and terrible storms,
the strength of this abstinence had very nearly with all the evils that followed in their train, passed for serious, till it was discovered that and all the personal events connected with she could not abide a long sermon. She al- them, so that if you happen to remark that
ways looks out for the shortest preacher, and clouds are come up, and you fear it may rain, never went to above one Bible meeting in her she replies, “ Ay, it is just such a morning as life. " Such speeches !" quoth she, “I thought three and thirty years ago, when my poor couthe men never meant to have done. People sin was married - you remember my cousin have great need of patience.” Plays, of Barbara -- she married so and so, the son of course, she abhors; and operas, and mobs, so and so;" and then comes the whole pediand all things that will be heard, especially gree of the bridegroom; the amount of the children ; though for babies, particularly when settlements, and the reading and signing them asleep, for dogs and pictures, and such silent over night; a description of the wedding
intelligences as serve to talk of and talk to, dresses, in the style of Sir Charles Grandison, she has a considerable partiality; and an and how much the bride's gown cost per yard ;
agreeable and gracious flatiery to the mammas the names, residences, and a short subsequent and other owners of these pretty dumb things history of the bridemaids and men, the genis a very usual introduction to her miscella- tleman who gave the bride away, and the