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must be a minor, or a ward of chancery, or a lunatic, to be thus schooled, and lectured, and catechised, by people who conceive the most remote relationship to be a warrant for impertinent advice, though they would not acknowledge it were urged as a plea for their affording me the smallest assistance. Not an individual article of my household establishment escaped censure—my own tables were turned against me -I had ante-nuptial curtain lectures I could not sleep for my bedsmy walls originated a paper war, and my coal-scuttle kindled a fierce controversy. One of my fiftieth female cousins, whose husband, a dashing broker, had kept a carriage for six months previous to his bankruptcy, assured me, with pompous complacency, that she could speak from experience about horses, and that I should find it much better to job them. I chose, however, to purchase; one of them shortly died, and, instead of sympathising with my loss, she became rampant with delight at the verification of her prognostics. Not one of the family clan had weighed in their minds whether my wife was suitable or not: I had reflected upon it for fifteen years; yet they all obtruded an opinion, and many presumed to condemn my choice. Verily, said I, in a pet, relations are the most impertinent people upon the face of the earth, but I recalled the uncharitable words upon reflection : and in this flattering interest in all my concerns, from the greatest to the most trilling, I beheld at least their acquittal from the charge of neglect and indifference, which I had formerly brought against them.
I have said that I hate a misanthrope; and to illustrate the danger of rashly forming illiberal opinions, I feel bound to state that one of these very kinsmen whom I had accused of apathy, came forward in the most friendly manner to borrow a sum of money of me, paying me, as he declared, the compliment of his first application, even at the risk of offending a nearer and a richer relative: another kindly gave me the preference, quite unsolicited on my part, of joining him in a weighty bond; and a third, in the handsomest manner, offered me the privilege of becoming security for his son, when he placed him out as a banker's clerk. I feel it my duty to acknowledge that innumerable other favours of this sort have been conferred upon me by these calumniated cognates. Even my wife's relations, who, by some hocuspocus of pedigree and transmutation of blood, had become mine, were eager to distinguish themselves in this contest of love. Two of them have affectionately consented to become inmates in our house, and I am besides allowed to pay for the schooling of two dear little boys, whom I have not yet had the pleasure of seeing. Madame de Staël says, that we must sometimes give fame a long credit, but that, if there be any thing due to us, she will be sure to pay it in the long run: so it is with relations; their merits may be obscured for a time, but ultimately they force themselves upon our notice. I have recorded the instances of liberality which I have myself experienced, and I doubt not that the recollection of the reader will suggest many congenial traits in his own circle, not less striking and apposite.
There is, in fact, much more liberality in the world than is generally supposed, while its generosity with other people's money is almost unlimited. I never knew an heiress or a girl of fortune whose portion was not doubled or tripled, which at least shews the good wishes of the narrators. If she be not married, this exaggerated statement is, to be sure, apt to be adduced as a proof that there must be something
serious against her, or, with such immense wealth, she would have gone off long ago; and if she do marry, folks are prone to exclaim“No wonder, with thirty thousand pounds--the pill required a good deal of gilding :”—but still the generosity of these gratuitous donations remains unimpeached.
Nor is this munificence confined to females. I was executor to my old friend Ned Evelyn, who left ten thousand pounds to each of his nephews, Sidney and Frank Stapleton; the former of whom, a prudent man with a young family, made no alteration in his establishment, and was immediately anathematized as an avaricious old hunks ; in fact, a complete miser, who kept living on in the same mean style, although his rich old uncle had lately left him twenty-five thousand pounds! Frank, a thoughtless fellow, embarked his legacy in an unfortunate speculation, and fell into speedy embarrassment, when the world fairly raised up
eyes and shoulders in amazement at the wasteful profligacy which, in so short a time, could have run through forty thousand pounds; though they were aware that much could be done when a man combined mistresses, horses, and gaming. In vain did I protest that he inherited no such sum; they happened to know it : one of their particular friends had seen the receipt for the legacy-duty paid in Doctors' Commons, and it really was scandalous in a man who had three such dear beautiful little children. What can be more amiable than the sympathy universally expressed upon such occasions for a man's unprovided, and interesting, and charming cherubs ? It must be confessed, that their beauties and accomplishments are frequently left unnoticed until they can be converted into a reproach against the parent; and after they have served that purpose, are too often forgotten, but then the feeling at the moment is so kind-hearted—so considerate -so benevolent!
Let me repeat, however, that a man is sure of ultimate justice from the world, however his virtues may be for a time eclipsed. My neighbour Sir Toby Harbottle always appeared to me to deserve the character universally assigned to him—that of an ignorant, drunken profligate; but no sooner did his wife, a most amiable and exemplary woman, separate herself from him in the unconquerable disgust of his incurable vices, than she was assailed with every species of obloquy; while it turned out that Sir Toby, as good and honest a fellow as ever lived, had been originally driven to drinking by the unkindness of his demure Xantippe of a wife. Now, I should have known nothing of all this, but for that stern and inflexible, though sometimes tardy, justice which the world delights to exercise upon those who are the objects of its notice.
A certain author's first publication appeared to me sufficiently common-place, but the last is admitted, even by his friends, to be a decided failure, and I now hear people exclaiming-" Well, there was talent and genius in his former production; and so I always said, though many thought otherwise, and I am the more surprised that he should publish such miserable trash and rubbish as this.” I have not the least recollection of the admission for which these good folks take credit as to the preceding work; but it is truly pleasing to observe with what ingenuous candour they acknowledge a man's early merits when they serve to signalize his late failure.
A VISIT TO BLNEHEIM. If the munificent sum which has been voted to purchase a domain for the Duke of Wellington and his descendants, should be the means, a hundred years hence, of beautifying the face of England with a spot like Blenheim; the battle of Waterloo will not have been fought in vain! I fear the task I have undertaken, of describing a few of the scenes which present themselves to the spectator in wandering over this rich and unrivalled spot, is somewhat presumptuous. To delineate any one particular scene from a particular point of view, (such, for instance, as those from the summit of Mount Saint Catherine's, in Normandy-or the Devil's Dyke, near Brighton) is not very difficult ; for there the objects forming the scene lay mapped out before you, immoveable and unchanging in their expression; and you may draw a portrait of the whole which they form, just as you may draw a human face that sits fixed before you for that purpose. But to paint a scene, the character of which is to be ever changing its character, which does not present any thing like the same aspect from any two points of view, is like endeavouring to catch the tints of the rainbow as they come and go, or to copy the general expression of a human countenance, while it is every moment being moved and animated by a different particular expression. I believe there are one or two portrait-painters of our day who can achieve this latter. If I can imitate them, while drawing a sketch of Blenheim Park and its appurtenances, I shall be more successful than I anticipate. But I must venture to attempt this ; because I think that in no other way can these scenes be laid before a reader, who either has or has not seen them, with any prospect of their either recalling to the former, or creating for the latter, an interest like that which is felt during the actual contemplation of them.
In order that we may give these scenes the advantages arising from contrast and association, as well as those belonging intrinsically to themselves, without reference to any thing external from them, let us visit them immediately on our arrival from a distant spot-say the metropolis.- Notwithstanding the great picturesque beauty conferred on our English scenery, by the nature of our roads and inclosures, these are not without their disadvantages with reference to the same point. In travelling through other countries, from the completely open nature of the scenery, we may expatiate freely on all about us, and fancy that we possess a kind of dominion over it. There are no obstacles to our progress in any direction, scarcely in fact, and not at all in imagination; and this latter is, generally, all that is necessary in the cases to which I am alluding, where one likes to wander hither and thither, exercising the mind at the same time with the body. But in England at least in those parts of it in which the scenery possesses any thing characteristic and peculiar to itself, we are precluded from doing this. We cannot help feeling that we are
cabin'd, cribb’d, confined,
Bound in by saucy banks and hedges. Thus far we may go, and no farther.—If our roads wind about beautifully, like the course of a river, like that, they are confined within fixed bounds; and the passengers on the one feel that they can no
more leave it at any point they please, than those on the other. In English scenery, too,--admirably as the enclosures adapt themselves to picturesque effect,—they perpetually excite associations connected with exclusive property; which associations, pleasant as they may be to the “homekeeping" imaginations of landholders, are little calculated to excite pleasant emotions in the minds of any other class of persons.
It is after having been travelling during a whole day, subject to the influence of associations of these two kinds, that he will visit the elegant solitudes of Blenheim Park, entering them through the triumphal arch adjoining to the pleasant little town of Woodstock. In the scenery, through which we have just passed, I cannot but think that man has usurped a little too much on the empire of Nature, -I mean for the purposes of picturesque beauty. If Nature sits on a throne, which she always will where she has any sway at all, it is a divided one; and it is evidently raised by the power which divides it with her. But, once passed this little portal, (little, in comparison with the grandeur of the scenery into which it ushers us) we shall find Nature reigning supreme and alone; and if we here and there meet with the hand of man, it will always be found following, never leading her,-watching reverently for her hints, working out her plans, or completing her designs, -never presumptuously opposing, seldom embellishing her.
On passing the above-named portal, we immediately find ourselves on a spot where the mind has free scope to breathe and look abroad; and surrounded by objects which call upon it to do so. The iron-railway effect of a beaten track between close hedges and lofty trees, is instantly taken off; and we feel as if we had wings to fly. The mind has wings; and the first use it makes of them in the present instance is, to take a circular flight over the scene which it would contemplate ; as carrier-pigeons do, before they direct their course to any particular point. That flight, from the elevated ridge on which it has left the body standing, takes in a view, first, of the lake that, bound in by beautifully irregular banks, stretches itself from the foot of the green ridge into the distance ;-the, otherwise, sameness of the water-view being relieved and varied by coming to us through a rich arabesque frame-work, formed by the bright-leaved beeches that stud the sides of the ridge at intervals, and the soft-foliaged ashes that fringe its border. The elegant sweep made by this green ridge, descending slopingly to the lake, and embossed every here and there with clumps of trees and patches of field-flowers, reminds one of the ornamented train of a court beauty :-the court beauty herself being probably brought to our mind by an unconscious glance that we may have taken at the towers and portals of the palace itself, one side of which rises on the left of the scene before us.
The lake just mentioned occupies the whole of a valley formed between two hills, on one of which I am supposing that we now stand. These hills are joined together by a very noble bridge, a single arch of which spans the lake, and affords a beautiful view of the continuation of the lake through its lofty opening. At a considerable distance beyond this bridge, in about the centre of the scene, rises, out of a rich, extensive, and unbroken mass of trees, a single column, which crowns the view, standing as it does on the loftiest point of it. This column is surmounted by a statue of the first Duke of Marlborough. It has
VOL. V. NO. XXIV.
always appeared to me that a detached column, with a base and capital, but without any thing in the shape of an entablature to support, produces, under any circumstances, a very indifferent effect, and is, without exception, the worst form that can be chosen for a commemorative purpose ; but as I come here chiefly to admire, and not to criticise, I shall pass it by, admitting that if it does not improve the splendid scene before us, its great distance and comparative smallness, prevents it from being of much injury, or indeed from attracting much notice at all : I mean from this point of view, where the beauties of the scene are almost all natural ones. From another point of view, namely, the centre windows of the palace, with which it stands in a direct line, at the end of an artificial vista, it no doubt produces a fine effect; but an arch or a circular temple would bave produced a much finer.
The left of our view, from the spot which we had for a moment quitted, is occupied by a portion of the palace itself; its grave portal looking forth from among the smooth pillar-like stems of the beeches that surround it, and its low massy turrets scarcely rising above the clustering foliage. There is a richness and finish given to this part of the scene by four large golden balls, which rise from different points of the palace.
These being taken as the fore-ground features of the noble picture I am describing, let the back-ground, to a great extent, be filled up by undulating hills, their soft slopes crossing each other as they sweep down and lose themselves in the low vales, or receding behind each other and becoming dim as they seem to sink back into the distance : the whole clothed in one continuous robe of bright emerald turf, unbroken except by the trees which grow out of it,-here in grand continuous masses—there in small compact families, each member of which has adapted its form to that of all the others, till the whole look like one--and every where in "single blessedness," in solitary beauty, as if fond of being alone. To give an appropriate finish to the scene, the lake is kept constantly alive by swans and wild waterfowl, the slopes are studded with sheep and cattle, and in the dim vales berds of deer are feeding, or single ones glancing by at times, like spirits that would not be seen.
I conceive this view, of which I am sure that but a comparatively poor and inadequate notion can be gained by the description I have attempted of it, to be unrivalled in its kind. There is an air of grand, yet soft and elegant repose spread over the whole of it, the immediate effect of which is finer than that of any other kind of view, and the after-effect at once more valuable and more permanent. And the character which pervades this particular view is that of almost every other which presents itself to us as we wander through this vast domain. At every step a new beauty looks forth upon us, a new aspect is given to one that we have already admired, or a new interchange and combination takes place and forms altogether a new scene; but the impression produced by all these throughout is one of calm yet rich and voluptuous abstraction ; at the same time a rising of the spirit above all low thoughts and base desires, and a throwing back of the imagination, so as to place it in communion with those times, whether fabled or not, yet still golden ones, when the sound of the shepherd's