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MISS EDGEWORTH

HER LORD GLENTHORN.

guardian, as the heir to an immense English and Irish estate; and, long before he is of age, exhausts almost all the resources by which life can be made tolerable to those who have nothing to wish for. Born on the very pinnacle of human fortune, "he had nothing to do but to sit still and enjoy the barrenness of the prospect." He tries travelling, gaming, gluttony, hunting, pugilism, and coach-driving; but is so pressed down with the load of life, as to be repeatedly on the eve of suicide. He passes over to Ireland, where he receives a temporary relief, from the rebellion—and from falling in love with a lady of high character and accomplishments; but the effect of these stimulants is speedily expended, and he is in danger of falling into a confirmed lethargy, when it is fortunately discovered that he has been changed at nurse! and that, instead of being a peer of boundless fortune, he is the son of a cottager who lives on potatoes. With great magnanimity, he instantly gives up the fortune to the rightful owner, who has been bred a blacksmith, and takes to the study of the law. At the commencement of this arduous career, he fortunately falls in love, for the second time, with the lady entitled, after the death of the blacksmith, to succeed to his former estate. Poverty and love now supply him with irresistible motives for exertion. He rises in his profession; marries the lady of his heart; and in due time returns, an altered man, to the possession of his former affluence.

Such is the naked outline of a story, more rich in character, incident, and reflection, than any English narrative which we can now call to remembrance:-as rapid and various as the best tales of Voltaire, and as full of practical good sense and moral pathetic as any of the other tales of Miss Edgeworth. The Irish characters are inimitable;-not the coarse caricatures of modern playwrights-but drawn with a spirit, a delicacy, and a precision, to which we do not know if there be any parallel among national delineations. As these are tales of fashionable life, we shall present our readers, in the first place, with some traits of an Irish lady of rank. Lady Geraldine-the enchantress whose powerful magic

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almost raised the hero of ennui from his leaden slumbers, is represented with such exquisite liveliness and completeness of effect, that the reader can scarcely help imagining that he has formerly been acquainted with the original. Every one, at least, we conceive, must have known somebody, the recollection of whom must convince him that the following description is as true to nature as it is creditable to art:

"As Lady Geraldine entered, I gave one involuntary glance of curiosity. I saw a tall, finely-shaped woman, with the commanding air of a person of rank: she moved well; not with feminine timidity, yet with ease, promptitude, and decision. She had fine eyes, and a fine complexion, yet no regularity of feature. The only thing that struck me as really extraordinary was her indifference when I was introduced to her. Every body had seemed extremely desirous that I should see her ladyship, and that her ladyship should see me; and I was rather surprised by her unconcerned air. This piqued me, and fixed my attention. She turned from me, and began to converse with others. Her voice was agreeable, though rather loud: she did not speak with the Irish accent; but, when I listened maliciously, I detected certain Hibernian inflexions - nothing of the vulgar Irish idiom, but something that was more interrogative, more exclamatory, and perhaps more rhetorical, than the common language of English ladies, accompanied with infinitely more animation of countenance and demonstrative gesture. This appeared to me peculiar and unusual, but not affected. She was uncommonly eloquent; and yet, without action, her words were not sufficiently rapid to express her ideas. Her manner appeared foreign, yet it was not quite French. If I had been obliged to decide, I should, however, have pronounced it rather more French than English. To determine which it was, or whether I had ever seen any thing similar, I stood considering her ladyship with more attention than I had ever bestowed on any other woman. The words striking-fascinating — bewitching, occurred to me as I looked at her and heard her speak. I resolved to turn my eyes away, and shut my ears; for I was positively determined not to like her; I dreaded so much the idea of a second Hymen. I retreated to the farthest window, and looked out very soberly upon a dirty fish-pond.

--

"If she had treated me with tolerable civility at first, I never should have thought about her. High-born and high-bred, she seemed to consider more what she should think of others, than what others thought of her. Frank, candid, and affable, yet opinionated, insolent, and an egotist: her candour and affability appeared the effect of a naturally good temper; her insolence and egotism only that of a spoiled child. She seemed to talk of herself purely to oblige others, as the most interesting possible topic of conversation; for such it had always been to her fond mother, who idolised her ladyship as an only daughter, and the representative of an ancient house. Confident of

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MISS EDGEWORTH

LADY GERALDINE.

her talents, conscious of her charms, and secure of her station, Lady Geraldine gave free scope to her high spirits, her fancy, and her turn for ridicule. She looked, spoke, and acted, like a person privileged to think, say, and do, what she pleased. Her raillery, like the raillery of princes, was without fear of retort. She was not ill-natured, yet careless to whom she gave offence, provided she produced amusement; and in this she seldom failed; for, in her conversation, there was much of the raciness of Irish wit, and the oddity of Irish humour. The singularity that struck me most about her ladyship was her indifference to flattery. She certainly preferred frolic. Miss Bland was her humble companion; Miss Tracey her butt. It was one of Lady Geraldine's delights to humour Miss Tracey's rage for imitating the fashions of fine people. Now you shall see Miss Tracey appear at the ball to-morrow, in every thing that I have sworn to her is fashionable. Nor have I cheated her in a single article: but the tout ensemble I leave to her better judgment; and you shall see her, I trust, a perfect monster, formed of every creature's best: Lady Kilrush's feathers, Mrs. Moore's wig, Mrs. O'Connor's gown, Mrs. Leighton's sleeves, and all the necklaces of all the Miss Ormsbys. She has no taste, no judgment; none at all, poor thing; but she can imitate as well as those Chinese painters, who, in their drawings, give you the flower of one plant stuck on the stalk of another, and garnished with the leaves of a third.””— i. 130–139.

This favourite character is afterwards exhibited in a great variety of dramatic contrasts. For example : —

"Lord Craiglethorpe was, as Miss Tracey had described him, very stiff, cold, and high. His manners were in the extreme of English reserve; and his ill-bred show of contempt for the Irish was sufficient provocation and justification of Lady Geraldine's ridicule. He was much in awe of his fair and witty cousin and she could easily put him out of countenance, for he was, in his way, extremely bashful. Once, when he was out of the room, Lady Geraldine exclaimed, ‘That cousin Craiglethorpe of mine is scarcely an agreeable man: The awkwardness of mauvaise-honte might be pitied and pardoned, even in a nobleman,' continued her ladyship, if it really proceeded from humility; but here, when I know it is connected with secret and inordinate arrogance, 'tis past all endurance. As the Frenchman said of the Englishman, for whom even his politeness could not find another compliment, "Il faut avouer que ce Monsieur a un grand talent pour le silence; "— he holds his tongue till people actually believe that he has something to say - a mistake they could never fall into if he would but speak. It is not timidity; it is all pride. I would pardon his dulness, and even his ignorance; for one, as you say, might be the fault of his nature, and the other of his education: but his self-suthciency is his own fault; and that I will not, and cannot pardon. Somebody says, that nature may make a fool, but a coxcomb is always of his own making. Now, my cousin—(as he is my cousin, I may say what I please of him,)-my cousin Craiglethorpe is a solemn cox

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comb, who thinks, because his vanity is not talkative and sociable, that it's not vanity. What a mistake!'”—i. 146–148.

These other traits of her character are given, on dif ferent occasions, by Lord Glenthorn:

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"At first I had thought her merely superficial, and intent solely upon her own amusement; but I soon found that she had a taste for literature beyond what could have been expected in one who lived so dissipated a life; a depth of reflection that seemed inconsistent with the rapidity with which she thought; and, above all, a degree of generous indignation against meanness and vice, which seemed incompatible with the selfish character of a fine lady; and which appeared quite incomprehensible to the imitating tribe of her fashionable companions."-i. 174.

"Lady Geraldine was superior to manœuvring little arts and petty stratagems, to attract attention. She would not stoop, even to conquer. From gentlemen she seemed to expect attention as her right, as the right of her sex; not to beg, or accept of it as a favour: if it were not paid, she deemed the gentleman degraded, not herself. Far from being mortified by any preference shown to other ladies, her countenance betrayed only a sarcastic sort of pity for the bad taste of the men, or an absolute indifference and look of haughty absence. I saw that she beheld with disdain the paltry competitions of the young ladies her companions: as her companions, indeed, she hardly seemed to consider them; she tolerated their foibles, forgave their envy, and never exerted any superiority, except to show her contempt of vice and meanness."-i. 198, 199.

This may suffice as a specimen of the high life of the piece; which is more original and characteristic than that of Belinda- and altogether as lively and natural. For the low life, we do not know if we could extract a more felicitous specimen than the following description of the equipage in which Lord Glenthorn's English and French servant were compelled to follow their master in Ireland:

"From the inn yard came a hackney chaise, in a most deplorably crazy state; the body mounted up to a prodigious height, on unbending springs, nodding forwards, one door swinging open, three blinds up, because they could not be let down, the perch tied in two places, the iron of the wheels half off, half loose, wooden pegs for linch pins, and ropes for harness. The horses were worthy of the harness s; wretched little dog-tired creatures, that looked as if they had been driven to the last gasp, and as if they had never been rubbed down in their lives; their bones starting through their skin; one lame, the other blind; one with a raw back, the other with a galled breast; one with his neck poking down over his collar, and the other with his

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MISS EDGEWORTH - IRISH POSTING.

head dragged forward by a bit of a broken bridle, held at arms' length by a man dressed like a mad beggar, in half a hat and half a wig, both awry in opposite directions; a long tattered coat, tied round his waist by a hay-rope; the jagged rents in the skirts of this coat showing his bare legs, marbled of many colours; while something like stockings hung loose about his ankles. The noises he made, by way of threatening or encouraging his steeds, I pretend not to describe. In an indignant voice I called to the landlord I hope these are not the horses-I hope this is not the chaise intended for my servants.' The innkeeper, and the pauper who was preparing to officiate as postilion, both in the same instant exclaimed — ‹ Sorrow better chaise in the county!' Sorrow!' said I—‘what do you mean by sorrow?' That there's no better, plase your honour, can be seen. We have two more to be sure-but one has no top, and the other no bottom. Any way, there's no better can be seen than this same.' And these horses!' cried I-' why this horse is so lame he can hardly stand.' 'Oh, plase your honour, tho' he can't stand, he'll go fast enough. He has a great deal of the rogue in him, plase your honour. He's always that way at first setting out. And that wretched animal with the galled breast!' 'He's all the better for it, when once he warms; it's he that will go with the speed of light, plase your honour. Sure, is not he Knockecroghery? and didn't I give fifteen guineas for him, barring the luckpenny, at the fair of Knockecroghery, and he rising four year old at the same time?'

“Then seizing his whip and reins in one hand, he clawed up his stockings with the other; so with one easy step he got into his place, and seated himself, coachman-like, upon a well-worn bar of wood, that served as a coach-box. Throw me the loan of a trusty, Bartly, for a cushion,' said he. A frieze coat was thrown up over the horse's heads. Paddy caught it. Where are you, Hosey?' cried he to a lad in charge of the leaders. Sure I'm only rowling a wisp of straw on my leg,' replied Hosey. Throw me up,' added this paragon of postilions, turning to one of the crowd of idle by-standers. Arrah, push me up, can't ye?' — A man took hold of his knee, and threw him upon the horse. He was in his seat in a trice. Then clinging by the mane of his horse, he scrambled for the bridle, which was under the other horse's feet, reached it, and, well satisfied with himself, looked round at Paddy, who looked back to the chaise-door at my angry servants, 'secure in the last event of things.' In vain the Englishman, in monotonous anger, and the Frenchman in every note of the gamut, abused Paddy. Necessity and wit were on Paddy's side. He parried all that was said against his chaise, his horses, himself, and his country, with invincible comic dexterity; till at last, both his adversaries, dumb-founded, clambered into the vehicle, where they were instantly shut up in straw and darkness. Paddy, in a triumphant tone, called to my postilions, bidding them get on, and not be stopping the way any longer.'" — i. 64, 65.

By and by the wheel horse stopped short, and began to kick furiously.

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