Page images
PDF
EPUB

considers her affairs, and appointeth to He is known by his knock. Your every one their proper business.

The heart telleth you, "That is Mr. care of her family is her whole delight, to A rap between familiarity and respect, that alone she applieth her study ; and that demands, and at the same time seems elegance with frugality is seen in her man- to despair of, entertainment. He entereth sions. The prudence of her management smiling, and embarrassed. He holdeth is an honour to her husband, and he hear- out his hand to you to shake, and draweth eth her praise with a secret delight. She it back again. He casually looketh in informeth the minds of her children with about dinner-time, when the table is full. wisdom ; she fashioneth their manners He offereth to go away, seeing you have from the example of her own goodness. company, but is induced to stay. He The word of her mouth is the law of their filleth a chair, and your visitor's two youth, the motion of her eye commandeth children are accommodated at a side-table. obedience. She speaketh, and her ser- He never cometh upon open days, when vants fly; she pointeth, and the thing is your wife says with some complacency: done ; for the law of love is in their hearts, My dear, perhaps Mr.

will drop and her kindness addeth wings to their in to-day.' He remembereth birth-days, feet. In prosperity she is not puffed up; and professeth he is fortunate to have in adversity she healeth_the wounds of stumbled upon one. He declareth against fortune with patience. The troubles of fish, the turbot being small, yet suffereth her husband are alleviated by her counsels, himself to be importuned into a slice against and sweetened by her endearments : he his first resolution. He sticketh by the putteth his heart in her bosom, and re- port, yet will be prevailed upon to empty ceiveth comfort. Happy is the man that the remainder glass of claret, if a stranger hath made her his wife ; happy the child press it upon him. He is a puzzle to the that calleth her mother. -Economy of servants, who are fearful of being too obHuman Life.

sequious, or not civil enough to him. The guests think “they have seen him before.” Every one speculateth upon his condition ;

and the most part take him to be a tide(CHARLES LAMB. 1775—1834.]

waiter. He calleth you by your Christian POOR RELATIONS.

name, to imply that his other is the same

with your own. He is too familiar by half, A POOR relation is the most irrelevant yet you wish he had less diffidence. With thing in nature, a piece of impertinent half the familiarity, he might pass for a correspondency, an odious approximation, casual dependent; with more boldness, a haunting conscience, a preposterous he would be in no danger of being taken shadow, lengthening in the noontide of for what he is. He is too humble for a your prosperity, an unwelcome remem- friend, yet taketh on him more state than brancer, a perpetually recurring mortifica- befits a client. He is a worse guest than tion, a drain on your purse, a more intoler- a country tenant, inasmuch as he bringeth able dun upon your pride, a drawback up no rent; yet ’tis odds, from his garb upon success, a rebuke to your rising, a and demeanour, that your guests take him stain in your blood, a blot on your escutch- for one. He is asked to make one at the eon, a rent in your garment, a death’s- whist-table ; refuseth on the score of pohead at your banquet, Agathocles's pot, a verty, and resents being left out. When Mordecai in your gate, a Lazarus at your the company break up, he proffereth to door, a lion in your path, a frog in your go for a coach, and lets the servant go. chamber, a fly in your ointment, a mote He recollects your grandfather ; and will in your eye, a triumph to your enemy, an thrust in some mean and quite unimportant apology to your friends, the one thing not anecdote of the family. He knew it needful, the hail in harvest, the ounce of when it was not quite so flourishing as sour in a pound of sweet.

she is blest in seeing it now. He re

was

viveth past situations, to institute what he and insists on not troubling him to hold calleth favourable comparisons. With a her plate. The housekeeper patronises reflecting sort of congratulation he will her. The children's governess takes upon inquire the price of your furniture: and her to correct her when she has mistaken insults you with a special commendation the piano for a harpsichord. of your window-curtains. He is of opinion Richard Amlet, Esq., in the play, is a that the urn is the more elegant shape; notable instance of the disadvantages to but, after all, there was something more which this chimerical notion of affinity comfortable about the old tea-kettle, which constituting a claim to acquaintance may you must remember. He dare say you subject the spirit of a gentleman. A little must find a great convenience in having a foolish blood is all that is betwixt him and carriage of your own, and appealeth to a lady with a great estate. His stars are your lady if it is not so. Inquireth if you perpetually crossed by the malignant mahave had your arms done on vellum yet ; ternity of an old woman, who persists in and did not know till lately that such and calling him “her son Dick.” But she such had been the crest of the family. has wherewithal in the end to recompense His memory is unseasonable, his compli- his indignities, and float him again upon ments perverse, his talk a trouble, his the brilliant surface, under which it had stay pertinacious; and when he goeth been her seeming business and pleasure away, you dismiss his chair into a corner all along to sink him. All men, besides, as precipitately as possible, and feel fairly are not of Dick's temperament. I knew rid of two nuisances,

an Amlet in real life, who, wanting Dick's There is a worse evil under the sun, buoyancy, sank indeed. Poor Wand that is a female poor relation. You of my own standing at Christ's, a fine may do something with the other; you classic, and a youth of promise. If he had may pass him off tolerably well ; but your a blemish, it was too much pride ; but its indigent she-relative is hopeless. He quality was inoffensive; it was not of that is an old humourist,” you may say, "and sort which hardens the heart and serves to affects to go thread-bare. His circum- keep inferiors at a distance; it only sought stances are better than folks would take to ward off derogation from itself. It was them to be. You are fond of having a the principle of self-respect carried as far character at your table, and truly he is as it could go, without infringing upon one.” But in the indications of female that respect which he would have every poverty there can be no disguise. No one else equally maintain for himself. He woman dresses below herself from caprice. would have you to think alike with him on The truth must out without shuffling. this topic. Many a quarrel have I had “She is plainly related to the L- -s, or with him when we were rather older boys, what does she at their house !” She is, and our tallness made us more obnoxious in all probability, your wife's cousin. Nine to observation in the blue clothes, because times out of ten, at least, this is the case. I would not thread the alleys and blind Her garb is something between a gentle ways of the town with him to elude notice, woman and a beggar, yet the former evi- when we have been out together on a holi. dently predominates. She is most pro- day in the streets of this sneering and vokingly humble, and ostentatiously sen- prying metropolis. W

went, sore sible to her inferiority. He may require with these notions, to Oxford, where the to be repressed sometimes—aliquando suf- dignity and sweetness of a scholar's life, flaminandus erat, but there is no raising meeting with the alloy of a humble introher. You send her soup at dinner, and duction, wrought in him a passionate devoshe begs to be helped after the gentlemen. tion to the place, with a profound aversion Mr. requests the honour of taking from the society. The servitor's gownwine with her; she hesitates between port worse than his school array-clung to him and Madeira, and chooses the former be with Nessian venom. He thought himself cause he does. She calls the servant sir; ridiculous in a garb under which Latimer must have walked erect; and in which of college, where W-kept his Hooker in his young days possibly flaunted rooms. He seemed thoughtful and moře in a vein of no discommendable vanity. reconciled. I ventured to rally himIn the depth of college shades, or in his finding him in a better mood-upon a lonely chamber, the poor student shrunk representation of the Artist Evangelist, from observation. He found shelter among which the old man, whose affairs were books which insult not, and studies that beginning to flourish, had caused to be set ask no questions of a youth's finances. up in a splendid sort of frame over his He was lord of his library, and seldom really handsome shop, either as a token of cared for looking out beyond his domains. prosperity, or badge of gratitude to his The healing influence of studious pursuits saint. W- looked up at the Luke, was upon him, to soothe and to abstract. and, like Satan, “knew his mounted sign, He was almost a healthy man, when the and fled.” A letter on his father's table waywardness of his fate broke out against the next morning announced that he had him with a second and worse malignity. accepted a commission in a regiment The father of W-- had hitherto exer- about to embark for Portugal. He was cised the humble profession of house among the first who perished before the painter at N near Oxford. A sup- walls of St. Sebastian. posed interest with some of the heads of I do not know how, upon a subject colleges had now induced him to take up which I began with treating half-serihis abode in that city, with the hope of ously, I should have fallen upon a recital being employed upon some public works so eminently painful ; but this theme of which were talked of. From that moment poor relationship is replete with so much I read in the countenance of the young matter for tragic as well as comic assoman the determination which at length ciations, that it is difficult to keep the tore him from academical pursuits for ever. account distinct without blending. The To a person unacquainted with our univer- earliest impressions which I received on sities, the distance between the gownsmen this matter are certainly not attended and the townsmen, as they are called—the with anything painful, or very humitrading part of the latter especially—is liating, in the recalling. At my father's carried to an excess that would appear table—no very splendid one-was to be harsh and incredible. The temperament found every Saturday, the mysterious of W--'s father was diametrically the figure of an aged gentleman, clothed in reverse of his own. Old W- -- was a neat black, of a sad yet comely appearlittle, busy, cringing tradesman, who, with ance. His deportment was of the essence his son upon his arm, would stand bowing of gravity; his words few or none; and I and scraping, cap in hand, to anything was not to make a noise in his presence. that wore the semblance of a gown-insen- I had little inclination to have done sosible to the winks and opener remon- for my cue was to admire in silence. A strances of the young man, to whose particular elbow-chair was appropriated to chamber-fellow or equal in standing, per- him, which was in no case to be violated. haps, he was thus obsequiously and gra- A peculiar sort of sweet pudding, which tuitously ducking. Such a state of things appeared on no other occasion, distincould not last. W

must change the guished the days of his coming. I used air of Oxford, or be suffocated. He chose to think him a prodigiously rich man. the former ; and let the sturdy moralist, All I could make out of him was, that he who strains the point of the filial duties as and my father had been schoolfellows a high as they can bear, censure the derelic-world ago at Lincoln, and that he came tion; he cannot estimate the struggle. I from the Mint. The Mint I knew to be stood with W the last afternoon I a place where all the money was coined, ever saw him, under the eaves of his and I thought he was the owner of all paternal dwelling. It was in the fine lane that money. Awful ideas of the Tower leading from the High Streett o the back twined themselves about his presence. He seemed above human infirmities and colnian, but who had something of this, passions. A sort of_melancholy gran- in common with my cousin Bridget, that deur invested him. From some inexpli- she would sometimes press civility out of cable doom, I fancied him obliged to go season-uttered the following memorable about in an eternal suit of mourning ; a application : “Do take another slice, Mr. captive-a stately being let out of the Billet, for you do not get pudding every Tower on Saturdays. Often have I won- day.” The old gentleman said nothing dered at the temerity of my father, who, at the time—but he took occasion in the in spite of a habitual general respect which course of the evening, when some arguwe all in common manifested towards him, ment had intervened between them, to would venture now and then to stand up utter, with an emphasis which chilled the against him in some argument touching company, and which chills me now as I their youthful days. The houses of the write it—“Woman, you are superanancient city of Lincoln are divided, as nuated.” John Billet did not survive most of my readers know, between the long after the digesting of this affront; dwellers on the hill and in the valley. but he survived long enough to assure me This marked distinction formed an ob- that peace was actually restored ! and, if vious division between the boys who I remember aright, another pudding was lived above (however brought together in discreetly substituted in the place of that a common school) and the boys whose which had occasioned the Offence. He paternal residence was on the plain—a died at the Mint-anno 1781—where he sufficient cause of hostility in the code of had long held, what he accounted, a these young Grotiuses. My father had comfortable independence; and with five been a leading mountaineer; and would pound fourteen shillings and a penny, still maintain the general superiority, in which were found in his escritoire after skill and hardihood, of the above boys- his decease, left the world, blessing God his own faction-over the below boys, that he had enough to bury him, and so were they called-of which party his that he had never been obliged to any contemporary had been a chieftain. man for a sixpence. This was—a Poor Many and hot were the skirmishes on Relation. —Essays of Elia. this topic—the only one upon which the old gentleman was ever brought out-and bad blood bred ; even sometimes almost to the recommencement—so I expected

(James USHER.] -of actual hostilities. But my father, who scorned to insist upon advantages, THE CHARM AND BENEFIT OF generally contrived to turn the conversa- A LOVE AND APPRECIATION tion upon some adroit by-commendation of the old minster; in the general pre

OF MUSIC. ference of which, before all other cathe- THERE are few who have not felt the drals in the island, the dweller on the charms of music, and acknowledged its hill and the plain-born could meet on a expressions to be intelligible to the heart. conciliating level, and lay down their less It is a language of delightful sensations, important differences. Once only I saw that is far more eloquent than words : it the old gentleman really ruffled, and I breathes to the ear the clearest internal remember with anguish the thought that notions; but how it was learned, to what came over me—" perhaps he will never origin we owe it, or what is the meaning, come here again.” He had been pressed of some of its most affecting strains, we to take another plate of the viand which know not. I have already mentioned as the indis- We feel plainly that music touches and pensable concomitant of his visits. He gently agitates the agreeable and sublime had refused, with a resistance amounting passions ; that it wraps us in melancholy to rigour, when my aunt, an old Lin- land elevates in joy; that it dissolves and inflames ; that it melts us in tenderness, and the thought would not make different and rouses to rage : but its strokes are expressions : the hearers would only so fine and delicate, that, like a tragedy, think impetuously; and the effect of the even the passions that are wounded music would be to give the ideas a tumulplease ; its sorrows are charming, and its tuous violence and divine impulse upon rage heroic and delightful; as people the mind. Any person conversant with feel the particular passions with different the classic poets, sees instantly that the degrees of force, their taste of harmony passionate power of music I speak of, must proportionably vary. Music then was perfectly understood and practised is a language directed to the passions ; by the ancients ; that the muses of the but the rudest passions put on a new Greeks always sang, and their song was nature, and become pleasing in harmony, the echo of the subject which swelled let me add also, that it awakens some their poetry into enthusiasm and rapture. passions which we perceive not in ordi- An inquiry into the nature and merits of nary life. Particularly the most elevated the ancient music, and a comparison sensation of music arises from a confused thereof with modern composition, by a perception of ideal or visionary beauty person of poetic genius, and an admirer and rapture, which is sufficiently per- of harmony, who is free from the shackles ceivable to fire the imagination, but not of practice, and the prejudices of the clear enough to become an object of mode, aided by the countenance of a few knowledge. This shadowy beauty the men of rank, of elevated and true taste, mind attempts, with a languishing curio- would probably lay the present halfsity, to collect into a distinct object of Gothic mode of music in ruins, like those view and comprehension ; but it sinks towers of whose little laboured ornaments and escapes, like the dissolving ideas of it is an exact picture, and restore the a delightful dream, that are neither Grecian taste of passionate harmony once within the reach of the memory, nor yet more, to the delight and wonder of mantotally fled. The noblest charms of kind. But as from the disposition of music then, though real and affecting, things, and the force of fashion, we canseem too confused and fluid to be col- not hope in our time to rescue the sacred lected into a distinct idea. Harmony lyre, and see it put into the hands of is always understood by the crowd, and men of genius, I can only recall you to almost always mistaken by musicians, your own natural feeling of harmony, who are, with hardly any exception, and observe to you, that its emotions are servile followers of the taste of mode, not found in the laboured, fantastic, and and who, having expended much time surprising compositions that form the and pains on the mechanic and prac- modern style of music : but you meet tical part, lay a stress on the dex- them in some few pieces that are the terities of hand, which yet have no growth of wild, unvitiated taste; you real value, but as they serve to produce discover them in the swelling sounds that those collections of sound that move the wrap us in imaginary grandeur ; in those passions.

plaintive notes that make us in love with If Milton, Shakespeare, or Dryden, woe ; in the tones that utter the lover's had been born with the same genius and sighs, and fluctuate the breast with gentle inspiration for music as for poetry, and pain ; in the noble strokes that coil up had passed through the practical part the courage and fury of the soul, or that without corrupting the natural taste, or lull it in confused visions of joy; in short, blending with it prepossession in favour in those affecting strains that find their of the sleights and dexterities of hand, way to the inward recesses of the heart : then would their notes be tuned to passions and to sentiments as natural and

“ Untwisting all the chains that tie

The hidden soul of harmony."-Milton. expressive as the tones and modulations of the voice in discourse. The music

« EelmineJätka »