Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

one was more truly a labourer than he of the sacred vineyard. The Church was given up.

I returned, therefore, to the world, that is, to observe its manners, without mixing in its business ; and this would have occupied and pleased me had my condition been lower than it was. But I had been at college, and had connections that gave me opportunities which

many of my brother dreamers want. I criticised women as well as men; mingled in all ranks, and examined nature, animate and inanimate; and, when I had laid in a store for thought, my happiness was to think it over again, that is, to dream of it, though any thing but asleep.

Thus no man went beyond me in

[blocks in formation]

In many

I have compared myself to Horace, as an idler who loved a reverie, but I was not without resemblance to Johnson also, at least in watching mankind.

other matters I am not so presumptuous. But I did not, like him, devote almost all my best days to scanning human nature in a populous city. On the contrary, my happiness was to create an ever varying scene, and I was the happiest of the happy when, to relieve a glut of town observation, I flew to the country to breathe ainong the pleasant villages and farms.

Many, therefore, have been my country tours, as well as town speculations. As to the last, I am no stranger to political clubs; and as I value the elegancies of polished life, as well as the simplicities of nature, I am not without self-complacency when I say that I have

I not been excluded from the drawingrooms of beauty.

And how did you escape ?

Not unscathed, perhaps ; but that is neither here nor there. Suffice it that I know something of the sex, which may be possibly discovered in the course of these lucubrations. Indeed, there have not been wanting persons who (whether meaning to compliment, or the reverse, I know not,) have not scrupled to hold me up to the world as a woman's man.

My readers, from all this, may be anxious to discover what I am in person and phiz; whether I am still young, or how near I approach to an old beau in his grand climacteric. Indeed they will think I ought to be the latter, to give lessons of experience and describe life. But I shall say no more than that any body, to look at me, would not guess there was much in me worth knowing; for I am eminently “cheto fuor,” though “commoto dentro.” And as to my phiz, I can only confess (for I know little of it myself) that in once rummaging a lumber closet, I found an old torn school-book with my face scrawled in the first page,

and underneath it the nickname of “ Big Head.” Notwithstanding this, I hope I have said

I enough, so far, to bespeak favour to my intended pages, that the world may venture to examine them.

The title of “a series of papers (in other words, essays) on men, manners, and things,” is, I own, dry and stiff, and in this tale-loving age it had perhaps better have been “a series of tales.” I might then have stood a better chance of pleasing the ladies, and

a

a

of being even perused by ladies' maids, while sitting up for their mistresses when late at a ball. I might actually be experimented upon as an agreeable companion in a postchaise; and certainly might hope for a shelf in the library of a watering-place. As it is, spite of my title, I will not despair of this yet being my fortune, for my dreams will have little of the stoic turn. In fact, I shall endeavour to teach morals more by example than precept By this I shall not only save myself a great deal of trouble (an important object with a dreamer), but probably ingratiate myself better with my readers.

My only additional remark is, that I am too little fond of melancholy scenes or views of things, to obtrude them par préférence on my readers; and though I have the greatest reverence for

“A pensive nun, devout and pure," I have a livelier taste for the song of the milkmaid, This and the whistle of the ploughman, or the gambols of children in a hayfield, have often detained me under a hawthorn hedge from far more important concerns. With this account of myself, dear reader, I bid thee adieu.

No. II.

DIFFERENT EFFECTS OF SPRING IN TOWN AND COUNTRY UPON A

MAN OF THE TOWN, WHO IS ALSO A MAN OF MANY IMPULSES.

“A day in April never came so sweet,
To show that costly summer was at hand."

SHAKSPEARE.

I HAVE said in my preface, that I am never so happy as in a country tour, after a glut of the world in town.

Accordingly, no schoolboy ever rejoiced more at the approach of his holidays than I, when, Easter being over, the greenness of the hedges and the budding of flowers, to say nothing of the song of birds and perfume of gardens, warn all fashionable people to leave them for dust and noise and crowded streets. It was not so in older times, when my present date (the 4th of June) was the birthday of the most rational and most virtuous, as well as most just, of Britain's kings. George the Third had set the fashion of retiring to enjoy Nature where best she is to be seen, in the country. The courtiers, whether they liked it or not, felt bound in some degree to follow his example, and streets and squares began to empty, instead of filling to repletion, as they do now, about this time of the year. I am, however, for the good old fashion I have commemorated; and hence, after wandering in the green lanes that so cheer the good citizens in the outskirts of London during the first few days of warmth and verdure, I am never easy till I am fairly off upon some country errand, which takes me twenty or thirty miles from the dissipation and turmoil that begin to thicken around me.

The signal for my annual progress is arrived. We have long “woo'd the tardy spring,” which is at last come; and only more lovely for having been previously so coy.

But how strange, that in our capricious island, where sunshine is so scanty and the gifts of the seasons so uncertain, the arrival of this lovely time should be the reason for leaving the country, instead of seeking it! All the avenues to London are filled with travelling carriages, loaded above their roofs with animate and inanimate lumber. Among them I sometimes see (though rarely) Sir Francis Wronghead's “awld coach,” creaking under four "portmantels” with my lady's gear, heavy Ralph, and the monkey behind, and Dolly Cook hoisted into the coach-box before, “because she ware sick.”

Our squires, however, are now so refined, that this is, as I have said, but of rare occurrence; though, whether we have gained by exchanging their rough simplicity (which bordered, I allow, upon rudeness) for the refinement which now pervades all ranks, and

ill

upon some of them, may be a question. My friend Medlicott is a changed being.

He triumphs in the return of the world (his world) to town. For he is a cordon bleu de son ordre, though,

sits very

a

« НазадПродовжити »