Зображення сторінки

the Second of September to some cock-broth— which courtesy the latter returned with the delicate thigh of a hen pheasant --so there was no love lost for that matter. The Last of Lent was sponging upon Shrovetide's pancakes; which April Fool perceiving, told him he did well, for pancakes were proper to a good fry-day.

In another part, a hubbub arose about the Thirtieth of January, who, it seems, being a sour, Puritanic character, that thought nobody's meat good or sanctified enough for him, had smuggled into the room a calf's head, which he had had cooked at home for that purpose, thinking to feast thereon incontinently; but as it lay in the dish, March Manyweathers, who is a very fine lady, and subject to the megrims, screamed out there was a human head in the platter,” and raved about Herodias' daughter to that degree, that the obnoxious viand was obliged to be removed ; nor did she recover her stomach till she had gulped down a Restorative, confected of Oak Apple, which the merry Twenty-ninth of May always carries about with him for that purpose.

The king's health* being called for after this, a notable dispute arose between the Twelfth of August (a zealous old whig gentlewoman) and the Twenty-third of April, (a new-fangled lady of the tory stamp,) as to which of them should have the honour to propose it. August grew hot upon the matter, affirming time out of mind the prescriptive right to have lain with her, till her rival had basely supplanted her; whom she represented as little better than a kept mistress, who went about in fine clothes, while she (the legitimate BIRTHDAY) had scarcely a rag, &c.

April Fool, being made mediator, confirmed the right in the strongest form of words to the appellant, but decided for peace' sake that the exercise of it should remain with the present possessor. At the same time, he slily rounded the first lady in the ear, that an action might lie against the crown for bigeny.

It beginning to grow a little duskish, Candlemas lustily bawled out for lights, which was opposed by all the Days who protested against burning daylight. Then fair water was handed round in silver ewers, and the same lady was observed to take an unusual time in washing herself.

May Day, with that sweetness which is peculiar to her, in a neat speech proposing the health of the founder, crowned her goblet (and by her example the rest of the company) with garlands. This being done, the lordly New Year from the upper end of the table, in a cordial but somewhat lofty

* The late king.


tone, returned thanks. He felt proud on an occasion of meeting so many of his worthy father's late tenants, promised to improve their farms, and, at the same time, to abate (if anything was found unreasonable) in their rents.

At the mention of this, the four Quarler Days involuntarily looked at each other, and smiled ; April Fool whistled to an old tune of “ New Brooms ;” and a surly old rebel at the farther end of the table (who was discovered to be no other than the Fifth of November) muttered out, distinctly enough to be heard by the whole company, words to this effect, that, “ when the old one is gone, he is a fool that looks for a bet

Which rudeness of his the guests, resenting, unani. mously voted his expulsion ; and the malecontent was thrust out neck and heels into the cellar, as the properest place for such a boutefeu and firebrand as he had shown himself to be.

Order being restored--the young lord (who, to say truth, had been a liule ruffled, and put beside his oratory) in as few, and yet as obliging words as possible, assured them of entire welcome ; and, with a graceful turn, singling out poor Twentyninth of February, that had sat all this while mumchance at the sideboard, begged to couple his health with that of the good company before him—which he drank accordingly; observing, that he had not seen his honest face any time these four years—with a number of endearing expressions besides. At the same time, removing the solitary Day from the forlorn seat which had been assigned him, he stationed him at his own board, somewhere between the Greek Calends and Latter Lammas.

Ash Wednesday, being now called upon for a song, with his eyes fast stuck in his head, and as well as the Canary he had swallowed would give him leave, struck up a carol, which Christmas Day had taught him for the nonce ; and was followed by the latter, who


“ Miserere" in fine style, hitting off the mumping notes and lengthened drawl of Old Mortification with infinite humour. April Fool swore they had exchanged conditions : but Good Friday was observed to look extremely grave; and Sunday held her fan before her face, that she might not be seen to smile.

Shrovetide, Lord Mayor's Day, and April Fool, next joined in a glee

“Which is the properest day to drink ?" in which all the Days chiming in, made a merry burden.

They next fell to quibbles and conundrums. The question being proposed, who had the greatest number of followers the Quarter Days said, there could be no question as to that

for they had all the creditors in the world dogging their heels. But April Fool gave it in favour of the Forty Days before Easter; because the debtors in all cases outnumbered the creditors, and they kept lent all the year.

All this while, Valentine's Day kept courting pretty May, who sat next him, slipping amorous billets-doux under the table, till the Dog Days (who are naturally of a warm constitution) began to be jealous, and to bark and rage exceedingly. April Fool, who likes a bit of sport above measure, and had some pretensions to the lady besides, as being but a cousin once removed—clapped and hallooed them on; and as fast as their indignation cooled, those mad ways, the Ember Days, were at it with their bellows, to blow it into a flame; and all was in a ferment: till old Madam Septuagesimu (who boasts herself the Mother of the Days) wisely diverted the conversation with a tedious tale of the lovers which she could reckon when she was young ; and of one Master Rogation Day in particular, who was for ever putting the question to her ; but she kept him at a distance, as the chronicle would tell—by which I apprehend she meant the Almanac. Then she ram bled on to the Days that were gone, the good old Days, and so to the Days before the Flood which plainly showed her old head to be little better than crazed and doited.

Day being ended, the Days called for their cloaks and greatcoats, and took their leaves. Lord Mayor's Day went off in a mist, as usual; Shortest Day in a deep black fog, that wrapped the little gentleman all round like a hedge-hog. Two Vigilsso watchmen are called in heaven-saw Christmas Day safe home-they had been used to the business before.

Another Vigil -- a stout, sturdy patrol, called the Eve of St. Christopher-seeing Ash Wednesday in a condition little better than he should be-e’en whipped him over his shoulders, pick-a-back fashion, and Old Mortification went floating home, singing

“ On the bat's back do I fly,"

and a number of old snatches besides, between drunk and sober, but very few Aves or Penitentiaries (you may believe me) were among them. Longest Day set off westward in beautiful crimson and gold-the rest, some in one fashion, some in another ; but Valentine and pretty May took their departure together in one of the prettiest silvery twilights a Lover's Day could wish to set in.


I do not know when I have been better pleased than at being invited last week to be present at the wedding of a friend's daughter. I like to make one at these ceremonies, which to us old people give back our youth in a manner, and restore our gayest season, in the remembrance of our own success, or the regrets, scarcely less tender, of our own youthful dis appointments, in this point of a settlement. On these occa sions I am sure to be in good-humour for a week or two after, and enjoy a reflected honeymoon. Being without a family, I am flattered with these temporary adoptions into a friend's family; I feel a sort of cousinhood, or uncleship, for the season ; I am inducted into degrees of affinity; and, in the participated socialities of the little community, I lay down for a brief while my solitary bachelorship. I carry this humour so far, that I take it unkindly to be left out, even when a funeral is going on in the house of a dear friend. But to my subject.

The union itself had been long settled, but its celebration had been hitherto deferred, to an almost unreasonable state of suspense in the lovers, by some invincible prejudices which the bride's father had unhappily contracted upon the subject of the too early marriages of females. He has been lecturing any time these five years—for to that length the courtship has been protracted-upon the propriety of putting off the solemnity till the lady should have completed her five-and-twentieth year. We all began to be afraid that a suit, which as yet had abated of none of its ardours, might at last be lingered on, till passion had time to cool, and love go out in the experiment. But a little wheedling on the part of his wife, who was by no means a party to these overstrained notions, joined 10 some serious expostulations on that of his friends, who, from the growing infirmities of the old gentleman, could not promise ourselves many years' enjoyment of his company, and were anxious to bring matters to a conclusion during his lifetime, at length prevailed ; and on Monday last the daughter of my old friend, Admiral —, having attained the womanly age of nineteen, was conducted to the church by her pleasant cousin J- who told some few years older.

Before the youthful part of my female readers express their indignation at the abominable loss of time occasioned to


the lovers by the preposterous notions of my old friend, they will do well 1,0 consider the reluctance which a fond parent naturally seels at parting with his child. To this unwillingness, I believe, in most cases may be traced the difference of opinion on this point between child and parent, whatever pretences of interest or prudence may be held out to cover it. The hard-heartedness of fathers is a fine theme for romancewriters, a sure and moving topic; but is there not something untender, to say no more of it, in the hurry which a beloved child is sometimes in to tear herself from the paternal stock, and commit herself to strange graftings? The case is heightened where the lady, as in the present instance, happens to be an only child. I do not understand these matters experimentally, but I can make a shrewd guess at the wounded pride of a parent upon these occasions. It is no new observation, I believe, that a lover in most cases has m rival so much to be feared as the father. Certainly there is a jealousy in unparallel subjects, which is little less heart-rending than the passion which we more strictly christen by that name. Mothers' scruples are more easily got over; for this reason, I suppose, that the protection transferred to a husband is less a derogation and a loss to their authority than to the paternal. Mothers, besides, have a trembling foresight, which paints the inconveniences (impossible to be conceived in the same degree by the other parent) of a life of forlorn celibacy, which the refusal of a tolerable match may entail upon their child. Mothers' instinct is a surer guide here than the cold reasonings of a father on such a topic. To this instinct may be imputed, and by it alone may be excused, the unbeseeming artifices by which some wives push on the matrimonial projects of their daughters, which the husband, however approving, shall entertain with comparative indifference. A little shamelessness on this head is pardonable. With this explanation, forwardness becomes a grace, and maternal importunity receives the name of a virtue. But the parson stays, while I preposterously assume his office; I am preaching, while the bride is on the threshold.

Nor let any of my female readers suppose that the sage reflections which have just escaped me have the obliquest tendency of application to the young lady, who, it will be seen, is about to venture upon a change in her condition, at a mature and competent age, and not without the fullest approbation of all parties. I only deprecate very hasty marriuges.

It had been fixed that the ceremony should be gone through at an early hour, to give time for a little déjeuné afterward

« НазадПродовжити »