Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

REMARKS ON ALTHAM AND HIS

WIFE.

tors have made a small sum of money go goes one evening with his friend (and a greater length, in promoting an ulti- biographer) to the theatre, to see Miss mate good to the public, and iinparting O'Neill play Imogen, and there, even much immediate satisfaction to their in the pit, his stars have prepared for subscribers, than any musical body him the first view of his beloved. An with which I am acquainted. old gentleman (of course an annuitant)

D. A. B. and his daughter come in too late to

get seats ; Frank and his friend accommodate the young lady with one of their's, and take the other in turn with the annuitant. Peu-a-peu on se

lie davantage-a critical conversation The writer of this little tale is de- is commenced, in which the old aneidedly a member of what a certain nuitant, his daughter, Mr Altham, correspondent of ours has stamped, we

and his frier.d, discuss the merits of suspect pretty indelibly, with the name

the play and the performance, every of * the Cockney School.” He is,

bit as well as they could have done, however, apparently a clever, and, in although Hazlitt himself (the Arisspite of several affectations of manner, is Mr Leigh Hunt) had been at their

totle of the same school whose Homer and even of a more seriously culpable twist in some of his notions of human elbows to prompt' them. The party life, an amiable man ;--we are, upon

are, of course, too fine for staying the the whole, pleased with him, and have

" foolish farce ;" they despise Liston,

But alas! read his story from beginning to end- and rush to the piazzas. the highest compliment for which, from the heavens interfere to interrupt their those hacked in the ways of books

departure. from those to whom coach-parcels

The air, we thought, struck damp on come weekly, and smack-bails month- theatre, and we were surprised to find them

our coming to the outer passages of the ly, a modern author of the serious or intersected by a number of wet and muddy of the comic breed can hope.

paths ; as we advanced, a pretty smart patThe scene of his tale is laid in tering of rain became audible, and we missthe very heart of the kingdom of ed the usual vociferation and bustle of the Cockaigne. Its hero is a clerk or se- streets,-nothing remained but the sound of cretary at the beginning of the book, coach-wheels, so that we knew with tolerthen he keeps a music-shop, and then able accuracy before we got out what sort he is a schoolmaster at one of the door was at length pulled open, and what a

of rain it was we had to encounter. The " House Establishments” on the night! Ten thousand drops, flung back by road to Camberwell. He inhabits a the violence of their descent on the flag parlour furnished with an upright stones, took the shapes of so many diminupiano-forte, a small sofa, a fine brass- tive pyramids, and seemed chasing each handled tea-urn, several prints framed other before the wind, -others were boiling in oak, and two plaster of Paris casts in an immense passion in the gutters; and in niches. A few poems and novels when every now and then a pause in this are disposed at one end in shelves and shop lights almost as plainly reflected

ebullition would occur, you saw the lamps edged with green baize, and above in the pavement as if they had fallen on a these there is placed a down-look

body of clear water ; then the storm, hav. ing bust of one of those old Greeks." ing as it were gathered breath, began to The “ taste of this” is just as it should drive away with increased violence, and in be; the only pity is, that so well fur- an instant the ground was fretted again by nished a mansion should want a mis- those innumerable little pyramids, and the tress--one to pour out the tea, thrum reflections were broken into atoms. on the forte-piano, order “ loaf-pud

Altham runs for a coach, and comes dings" for dinner, and comfort with back in it wet to the skin. The the appearance of a well-washed face,

old gentleman hands in his daughneat cap, and slim fingers, the elegant ter, and invites the two new acquaintdilettante who rather pays for, than

ances to enter also, in case they live at occupies its chambers.

the same part of the town.

They do All in good time. Frank Altham not-but Altham dodges his friend on

the elbow to be mum,

and in they go,

the one muttering curses, and the Altham and his Wife': a Domestic Tale. other over head and ears in love. The Ollier, London. 1818. pp. 198.

rain continues on their arrival at the

66

[ocr errors]

annuitant's door, and they are invited person, about to cut capers upon noto partake of bread and cheese. Ale thing, is pale, and dead alreally in tham has less difficulty in dodging his every lineament, with expectation friend into compliance with this re- but turn to the hangman. See with quest. The moment they are within what a grave edifying solemnity and the house, Miss Heseltine, like a good non-chalance he goes through his part girl, mulls a bottle of port for Altham, -how he arranges the rope-ends, as if lest he should catch cold, and takes off he were only tying up a window curher bonnet. The face and the hot tain-how he bows demurely to the wine together do the business. culprit, as if he were only about to in

“ Having performed this little piece of troduce him into a rout-room. Even womanly attention, she proceeded to disen- so calm and business-like is the clercumber herself of her hat and pelisse, and gyman amidst the sobbings of a marin a close-fitting gown of striped silk, ap- riage. The breakfast or luncheonpeared as delightful a figure as ever was seen. She was not one of those beauties of table is indeed laid out in style, as if

for whom some of the poets are so fond, with a

many partakers, but he,' and he pensive grace, and a form so excessively only appears to feel upon this occasion slight, that her tread would not depress

what Homer rather satirically calls the

holy desire” of stuffing ;--, wedding A blade of grasse,

treat would cost comparatively little Or shake the downie blow-ball from his stalke,'

were it not for the guzzling of the di

vine. no,-she carried in her face, and in the sig

Postquam exempta fames, et anificance of her black eyes, the signs of health and animal spirits ;-her shape was

mor compressus edendi,” the whole round and fleshy where it ought to be so,

party are stuffed into a glass-coach, and when she walked, it was put into that and set out for Richmond. They dine delicious kind of undulation which you al- there, but things look very dull and, ways see in the gait of a fine woman. so so; and, with the exception of Miss · An acquaintance commenced so de- Essex, they are all glad to leave the lightfully, is one of those things pair pretty early to themselves. The that may not be undone.” A system marriage jaunt extends no farther; of tea and supper visits is begun and the couple return to town next morkept up with spirit, till at last, one ning--at least before dinner ;-and the fine evening after tea, to use, as the series of marriage dinners, the most author has already done, the beautiful dull and weariesome (expertus loquor), words of the poet,

of all the many taedia vitæ consequent A warm, still, balmy night of June, upon that rash step, is commenced. Low-murmuring with a fitful tune

At one of these marriage dinners, From yonder grove of pines.

at the house of a Mr Marriott, they, In the silence of that starry sky,

meet with a disagreeable methodist, Exchanging vows of constancy,

one Simpson, who takes offence at the · Two happy lovers stray.

piano-forte, and talks about experienFrank and Miss Heseltine ara married, ces, Baxter's Discourses, the Crook in he in the Cockney livery of yellow the Lot, &c. while all the rest of the breeches and pink stockings, with cha-, party are making themselves merry. peau, quizzing glass, and all need- Altham, who is a nice young fellow, but ful apurtenances, she looking very rather fond of shewing off, takes occacharming in her blushes, and a new sion, very needlessly, to enter into a satin pelisse, fitted close to the waist. religious controversy with this melanWe had almost forgot to mention, that choly man, who is clothed in a black she has a white satin bonnet and Spa- coat, dark striped Manchester stuff nish“ down-tumbling" feather to waistcoat, corduroy breeches, and ribmatch. Miss Essex, the bride's maid, bed cotton stockings, and who wears the old annuitant, the bride and bride

a shirt without a frill,” groom themselves, the maidservants of and a glaring "yellow broach.” What the family, clustered in the door-way, horror must our elegant Frank have felt and peeping in with privileged imper- for this gothic costume ! He certainly tinence-all, in short, except the par- gives the hypochondriac some smart son, are extremely affected with the wipes touching his notions. The folceremony. The same thing may be lowing we think the best hit. remarked at an execution. The spec- “ When a woman ornaments herself she tators gaze and weep, the unhappy pays a homage to nature, one of whose VOL. III.

3Z

moreover

principles is splendour. There is some- “ The sleep of Frank during this night thing amounting almost to impiety in the was calmer and more refreshing than any Quaker, who thinks to please the Divine he had enjoyed for months past. Could the Being by a system so opposite to his own. anodyne alone effected this ? Before he Should he chance to walk into a spring opened his eyes, and while yet the light meadow, what must he think of his eternal slumber of thômorning was on him, he had drab, on beholding that bright green floor, an indistinct perception of unusual coolness, from which a thousand golden eyes are and freshness, and simple fragrance, like looking up to a blue arch above them. The that which is brought by the air travelling dames and chevaliers represented in the pic. over hay fields. This was associated with tures of Watteau, with dresses of beautiful his dreams, out of which he feared to awake, colours, and reclining in a garden under the the sensation was so luxurious. If he move shade of tall trees, with their guitars, their ed his head upon the pillow, his face seemed wine, and fruit, look like more religious and to brush against sweet and crisp sheets; and thankful persons than the starch and self. there was a perfect stillnes round him. denying Quakers.”

How could this be? The room in the pri

son had other occupiers than himself; was Altham, it will be suspected, is an hot, suffocating, noisy, and not clean. Putepicurean philosopher of the modern ting away those dim warnings of identity race ; abhorrence between him and the that sometimes come to us in dreams, Frank man in the Manchester waistcoat is endeavoured to cherish his slumbers and instant and reciprocal. The Metho- prolong the bland delusion. These very efdist, however, is the more vindictive of forts, however, tended to dissipate it, till at the two, and sets about immediately length the unbroken and unaccustomed sidoing all he can to ruin Altham's cha- lence, that, as it were, vibrated in his ears,

startled him wide awake. He gazed about; racter, by representing him as an athe- and instead of seeing the dingy walls, and ist, and one that has made a com

smutched cieling of the prison-room, was pact with the enemy." What non- astonished to find himself closed in by a sense is this to be told of Londoners tester and curtains of snowy whiteness. that attend wedding dinners in the Pausing a moment or so in bewilderment, 19th century! Our novellist makes it he drew them aside, and looked into a large, do however: poor Altham soon feels comfortable bed-room, across one of the latthe frost of having sneered at the word tices of which danced the shadows from a “ conventicle” in presence of a

bough of a cherry-tree with its garland of

white blossoms waving in the sun; and ever gioso.” The rumour flies far and near.

and anon he heard the small birds' mo. His clerkship is taken from him; his mentary chirpings that cut their sudden way music-shop fails; his school is desert- through the silence, as do the twinklings of ed; the tax-gatherer is insolent; the a remote star through the dark. While he butcher and baker won't trust his wife; was wondering at these things, the door of one whole day is spent in starvation, the room opened, and a woman entered on and then he goes to jail for the win- tiptoe, who, seeing Frank awake, rushed to dow lights. Very opportunely, how the bedside and folded him in her arms.

“ • It is I,' said she, · Laura, your wife, ever, after he has been a few days in limbo, a Mr Butler, whose failure certainly over.

come to tell you all our troubles are over,

Do not look so faint, dear had once cost Altham a few hundred Frank, there, lay your head on my bosom. pounds, remits, from the regions of We shall be happy again now,

and

merry wealth in North America, “ fourfold” too, I assure you. I have much good news what he owed him, in a paper parcel to tell. What! not a smile for your wife ? addressed to a respectable house in Well then, I'll go and fetch little Robert Cornhill. Things turns round as

up, he is running about there in the garden.' quickly as ever fortune's wheel did.

Stay, dear girl,' said Frank; • I ought The sofa, the plaster-of-paris casts, perplexes me so, that I dare not trust my;

to be rejoiced at what you tell me, but it the piana-forte, the oak-framed prints self with rejoicings. I was almost distracted

-all make once again their appear- yesterday, I think it was yesterday,—and ance. They visit å pleasant circle of among other miseries it came into my mind artists, &c.--Altham writes sonnets that you were dead ; so in my tears, and almost worthy of his betters--Laura wretchedness, and stupefaction, I laid down produces annually a fine stout child ;

on the bed in that close room ; but I find the world goes on, in short, as well as

myself now in a quiet chamber, with you possible, and they are as happy as the speak of, Laura ? But I feel weak and

by my side.

What garden is that you day is long. As a specimen of our au- giddy, and will lie down for a few minutes thor's powers of narrative, we shall before you explain these mysteries. Sit by transcribe great part of the last chap- me, dear girl. ter.

• A silence of half an hour ensued; when

- reli

666

Frank, feeling more composed, asked his temptation is certainly very great, though wife to proceed with her communications. I doubt whether I am in a state at present

" • Well then,' said she, “ Mr Butler, to visit any where. However, if the party who has been very fortunate abroad, has re- consists of persons addicted to such enjoy. turned your property with a fourfold in- ments as you mention, it cannot be a large crease; and on the very day that this ar- one, nor boisterous one. We shall be haprived, the secret of your repeated ill success py to go with you, Marriott. How little was laid open. It should have been made did I dream of such a pleasure yesterday at known before, for now we are out of reach this time.' of its consequences. Do you recollect hav- “ And most delightful was the evening to ing an argument with a Mr Simpson once Frank. I question if his very weariness, at Marriott's house ? This person in reli- and the subdued state of his spirits, did not gious zeal, and resentment of that dispute, add a luxury to the time. He reposed has gone about with strange stories against quietly amidst the refined productions of art. you; but he is afflicted now with sickness The day had been remarkably fine, and and remorse, and Mr Marriott, who says he the evening, considering it was in the month is more unfortunate than vicious, has been of April, was warm and still. Marriott had comforting him, and promising your for- not over-rated his friend's taste. The room giveness.

in which the company assembled, opened, “« It is quite proper,' answered Frank, through windows reaching to the floor, on a that he should be forgiven ; and I sin- vista of fir-trees. Between the windows were cerely hope he does not know the full effect white marble slabs, heaped up with a prohis machinations have had on us. I cannot fusion of rare plants of all colours, which speak much about it at present, especially were set off by the quiet light of a groundwhen I look at that pale face of thine, dear glass lamp; so that as you walked along the girl. But where am I, and how did I come room, the fragrance of these exotics, in one here?

part, was answered in another by the aro“ • It's all a contrivance of mine, Frank,' matic odour of the firs stealing in through she replied

"You are in Mr Marriott's the windows, which were left open for a house, in the village of West End. After short time in the early part of the evening. you had been in bed yesterday for about an Then as to pictures, there were some beauhour, I went to look at you. You looked tiful sketches of landscapes in the highest exhausted ; but the sleep you were in seem- taste of poetry, by the gentleman of the ed so deep in consequence of the opiate you house, and a specimen or two of Claude, had taken, that I thought you might be Gaspar Poussin, and some others. Casts safely removed, and in the morning open from the antique, as large as the originals, your eyes away from that hateful place. I stood in viches. There were the Apollo of knew that would do you good. Mr Mar- the Vatican, the Venus rising from the bath, riott thought so too ; and having satisfied a Muse, and the graceful Antinous, with the goaler for your liberation, we found their several gentle attitudes. They looked means (I will tell how some of these days) as though they were confederated with the to convey you here.'

evening calm. “ Other conversation ensued, till Frank

“ The concert consisted of the opera of was ready to descend into the breakfast. Proserpina, by Winter, with its pathetic room, where, with unspeakable rapture, he airs and pastoral choruses, breathing of Sikissed his two children, and was greeted cilian fields. Winter, in this work, has in. most affectionately by his friend. He could deed obeyed the innovation of the poet :not, however, in his weak state, at once leap

“ Play to Proserpina into felicity, but kept dropping into little Something Sicilian, some delightful pastoral; moods of low spirits, out of which Marriott For she once played on the Sicilian shores, endeavoured to rouse him by encomiums on The shores of Etna, and sung Dorian songs. the landscape, or, in a jocular strain, on the “ The entertainment was prolonged with pastoral style of the breakfast table, which wine and conversation, and the company was adorned with flowers from his own gar- walked home in the morning

light. den. The mention of such pure and sim

" It is now a week since Frank's emanple subjects, he judged would, above any cipation from his troubles. Mr Heseltine other thing, refresh Frank's care-eaten soul. has returned from Wales, to the infinite joy

• You must abolish this thoughtfulness,' of his children. Frank's debts are all paid, said he, . at least for to-day, as I have an and enough remains of the money sent by invitation for you and Mrs Altham to a Mr Butler to establish him in independence, pleasant party this evening. It is at the according to his moderate desires.' house of a neighbour of mine here, an art. We observe that our author is soon ist. He has a manner of refining on these to publish a novel on a larger scale ; entertainments greatly ; and when I tell you if he would only give up his Cockney that you will see some beautiful sketches and pictures , and casts from antique sculpture, and religion, that is, if he would just

notions in regard to matters of taste and choice books, and hear music well performed from your favourite masters, I think look a little deeper into things, he posyou will not refuse to go with me.'

sesses fine talents, and is well adapt" Thank you,' answered Frank, the ed for such a task.

AN ANCIENT BLUE STOCKING.

her day.

while they are singing, the scenes are shifted ; orange-trees, olives, and flow

ers appear, cascades burst from every MR EDITOR, The change which has occurred with corner, and a table covered with a in a few centuries in the female cha- plentiful dinner rises from the stage. racter, cannot be more strikingly ex

Premier Ange. emplified than by a comparison of the

“ Champs des desserts, cesses d'etre steriles celebrated Margaret, Queen of Navarre, Donnez vos fruits des tres bonne saveur.

Dieu le commande, Arbres soyes fertiles with any respectable lady of the pre

Seconde Ange. sent day. This princess was, as many Elevez vous dans ces plains changeantes of your readers know, brought up in Verdes orangers, croissez fleurs odorantes, all manner of virtue and decency, at the Et d'un regard recevez la faveur. pious court of Louis XII. of France,

Ange Troisicm. and was married in early life to the Courrez, Ruisseaux, pres de Vierge Mere King of Navarre, her cousin. She was

Presentez lui votre onde pure et claire left a widow when very young, and

Honneur aurez quand de vous en prendra,"

&c. maintained throughout the whole of her life a most exemplary character in

A few years after she published a her own person. Nay, she was vene book, entitled, “ Consolations, Me rated, during her own lifetime, as the moires, et Contemplations,” replete, in author of many of the most popular like manner, with mystical devotion, works of devotion which were produce and all the common places of Catholic ed in the century she adorned, and piety. In short, the young Queen was went down to the grave in the very

one of the most Christian authors of odour of sanctity. Of her religious works, a few only

In her poemes, however, and still have come into my hands. The first is

more in her far-famed contes, things the “ Marguerites, de la Marguerite

wear a very different appearance. Ade Princesses, La Reine de Navarre," mong the former, there occurs a comeedited by her chamberlain, Jean de la die or morality, which consists of a Haye, in 1547. This volume consists series of dialogues, devoid, after the of a variety of spiritual songs, four fashion of the time, of any appearance mysteries, a few sonnets, &c. One of of intrigue. In the first scene, two the songs begins thus :

young ladies are introduced, who make

bitter complaints of their husbands; “ Pour etre un digne et bon chretien

the lord and master of the one is a sad Il faut a Christ etre semblable, Il faut renoncer a tout bien

rake, and the other is tormented with A tout honneur que est damnable.

the restless jealousy of hers, on account Ala Dame belle et jolie

of the attentions of a lover, to whom Au plaisir qui la chair emeut,

she has as yet lent no ear. A pious Laisser Biens, honneurs, et Amie ! sybil of a hundred years old comes upon Ne fait pas ce tour la qui veut.

the scene, and is consulted by the two Ses biens aux pauvres faut donner

distressed wives on the subject of their D'un cæur joyeux et voluntaire.

afflictions. This ancient fair has no Faut les injures pardonner,

difficulty in telling them, that a lover Et a ses Ennemis bien faire.

is the only cure for a jealous or dissi. S'ejouir en Melancholie

pated husband. The young ladies heEt tourment dont la chair s'emeut, sitate, and the old one calls upon her Aimer la mort comme la vie,

sister, still older than herself, who gives Ne fait pas ce tour la qui veut."

the same advice with still greater earThere is sometimes a considerable nestness. The company is then joindisplay of poetical fancy in her myste- ed by two other young ladies, one who ries. In one of them, “The Flight into knows nothing about love, and another Egypt," the scene discloses Mary with who expects her lover to meet her athe child, Joseph and the ass, all in a bout this time in the wood. The state of suffering in the midst of the ancient dames repeat their maxims, parched and sandy desert. Mary offers and at last the whole company agree up a prayer for relief; immediately Le in receiving them with proper reverPere Eternel appears in the clouds, and At this critical moment, four commands the angels to change the young gentlemen and two old ones arwilderness into a paradise. The angels rive in hunting apparel. They immeforthwith commence

a song, and, diately dismount, and the whole party

ence.

« AnteriorContinuar »