« AnteriorContinuar »
like bunters, in stuff gowns, are now taking six pennyworth of tea at the White-conduit-house.” Odious puss! how she waddles along, with her train two yards behind her. She puts me in mind of my Lord Bantam's Indian sheep, which are obliged to have their monstrous tales trundled along in a go-cart. For all her airs, it goes to her husband's heart to see four yards of good lutestring wearing against the ground, like one of his knives on a grindstone. To speak my mind, cousin Jeffery, I never liked tails; for suppose a young fellow should be rude, and the lady should offer to step back in a fright, instead of retiring she treads upon her train, and falls fairly on her back; and then you know, cousin, her clothes may be spoiled. “Ah! Miss Mazzard ' I knew we should not miss hel in the park; she in the monstrous Prussian bonnet. Miss, though so very fine, was bred a milliner, and might have had some custom if she had minded her business; but the girl was fond of finery, and instead of dressing her customers, laid out all her goods in adorning herself. Every new gown she put on impaired her credit; she still, however, went on improving her appearance and lessening her little fortune, and is now, you see, become a belle and a bankrupt.” My cousin was proceeding in her remarks, which were interrupted by the approach of the very lady she had been so freely describing. Miss had perceived her at a distance, and approached to salute her. I found, by the warmth of the two ladies' protestations, that they had been long inti
(1) [“White Conduit House, Islington, from the extreme pleasantness of its situation, was, for many years, a very attractive place of resort to the London populace in their recreative excursions. Yet, “such is the mutability of human affairs," as Scott's Baillie Mucklethrift would express it, that ere long we may rationally expect it to be numbered with the places that were: its pleasantness, of late years, having been much deteriorated by the new streets that have arisen in all the neighbouring fields."—Brayley's Londiniana, vol. ii. p. 196.]
mate esteemed friends and acquaintance. Both were so pleased at this happy rencounter, that they were resolved not to part for the day. So we all crossed the park together, and I saw them into a hackney coach at the gate of St. James's. I could not, however, help observing, “That they are generally most ridiculous themselves, who are apt to see most ridicule in others.”
Pictur E of the swed Es—ANEcDoTEs of cHARLEs THE TWELFTH.
I cannot resist your solicitations, though it is possible I shall be unable to satisfy your curiosity. The polite of every country seem to have but one character. A gentleman of Sweden differs but little, except in trifles, from one of any other country. It is among the vulgar we are to find those distinctions which characterize a people, and from them it is that I take my picture of the Swedes.
Though the Swedes in general appear to languish under oppression, which often renders others wicked, or of malignant dispositions, it has not, however, the same influence upon them; as they are faithful, civil, and incapable of atrocious crimes. Would you believe that in Sweden highway robberies are not so much as heard of: for my part, I have not in the whole country seen a gibbet or a gallows. They pay an infinite respect to their ecclesiastics, whom they suppose to be the privy counsellors of Providence; who, on their part, turn this credulity to their own advantage, and manage their parishioners as they please. In general, however, they seldom abuse their sovereign authority. Hearkened to as oracles, regarded as the dispensers of eternal rewards and punishments, they readily influence their hearers into justice, and make them practical philosophers without the pains of study.
As to their persons, they are perfectly well made, and the men particularly have a very engaging air. The greatest part of the boys whom I saw in the country had very white hair. They were as beautiful as Cupids, and there was something open and entirely happy in their little chubby faces. The girls, on the contrary, have neither such fair nor such even complexions, and their features are much less delicate; which is a circumstance different from that of almost every other country. HBesides this, it is observed that the women are generally afflicted with the itch, for which Scania is particularly remarkable. I had an instance of this in one of the inns on the road. The hostess was one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen; she had so fine a complexion, that I could not avoid admiring it. But what was my surprise, when she opened her bosom in order to suckle her child, to perceive that seat of delight all covered with this disagreeable distemper. The careless manner in which she exposed to our eyes so disgusting an object, sufficiently testifies that they regard it as no very extraordinary malady, and seem to take no pains to conceal it. Such are the remarks—which probably you may think trifling enough —I have made in my journey to Stockholm; which, to take it all together, is a large, beautiful, and even populous city.
The arsenal appears to me one of its greatest curiosities; it is a handsome, spacious building, but, however, scantily supplied with the implements of war. To recompense this defect, they have almost filled it with trophies, and other marks of their former military glory. I saw there several chambers filled with Danish, Saxon, Polish, and Russian standards. There was at least enough to suffice half a dozen armies; but new standards are more easily made than new armies can be enlisted. I saw, besides, some very rich furniture, and some of the crown-jewels of great value; but what principally engaged my attention, and touched me with passing melancholy, were the bloody, yet precious spoils of the two greatest heroes the north ever produced. What I mean are the clothes in which the great Gustavus Adolphus, and the intrepid Charles XII. died, by a fate not unusual to kings. The first, if I remember, is a sort of a buff waistcoat, made antique fashion, very plain, and without the least ornaments; the second, which was even more remarkable, consisted only of a coarse blue cloth coat, a large hat of less value, a shirt of coarse linen, large boots, and buff gloves made to cover a great part of the arm. His saddle, his pistols, and his sword, have nothing in them remarkable; the meanest soldier was, in this respect, no way inferior to his gallant monarch. I shall use this opportunity to give you some particulars of the life of a man already so well known, which I had from persons who knew him when a child, and who now, by a fate not unusual to courtiers, spend a life of poverty and retirement, and talk over in raptures all the actions of their old victorious king, companion, and master. Courage and inflexible constancy formed the basis of this monarch's character. In his tenderest years he gave instances of both. When he was yet scarcely seven years old, being at dinner with the queen his mother, intending to give a bit of bread to a great dog he was fond of, this hungry animal snapt too greedily at the morsel, and bit his hand in a terrible manner. The wound bled copiously, but our young hero, without offering to cry, or taking the least notice of his misfortune, endeavoured to conceal what had happened, lest his dog should be brought into trouble, and wrapped his bloody hand in the napkin. The queen perceiving that he did not eat, asked him the reason. He contented himself with replying, that he thanked her, he was not hungry. They thought he was taken ill, and so repeated their solicitations. But all was in vain, though the poor child was already grown pale with the loss of blood. An officer who attended at table, at last perceived it; for Charles would sooner have died than betrayed his dog, who he knew intended no injury. At another time, when in the small-pox, and his case appeared dangerous, he grew one day very uneasy in his bed, and a gentleman who watched him, desirous of covering him up close, received from the patient a violent box on his ear. Some hours after, observing the prince more calm, he entreated to know how he had incurred his displeasure, or what he had done to have merited a blow. “A blow,” replied Charles, “I do not remember any thing of it: I remember, indeed, that I thought myself in the battle of Arbela, fighting for Darius, where I gave Alexander a blow, which brought him to the ground.” What great effects might not these two qualities of courage and constancy have produced, had they at first received a just direction Charles, with proper instructions, thus naturally disposed, would have been the delight and the glory of his age. Happy those princes, who are educated by men who are at once virtuous and wise, and have been for some time in the school of affliction; who weigh happiness against glory, and teach their royal pupils the real value of fame: who are ever showing the superior digdity of man to that of royalty; that a peasant who does his duty is a nobler character than a king of even middling reputation. Happy, I say, were princes, could such men be found to instruct them ; but those to whom such an education is generally intrusted, are men who themselves have acted in a sphere too high to know mankind. Puffed