Obrázky stránek

rounded with such fools as her relations are. The man in England that gives the greatest pleasure, and the greatest pain, is a youth of royal blood, with all his grandmother's beauty, wit, and good qualities. In short, he is Nell Gwin in person, with the sex altered, and occasions such fracas amongst the ladies of gallantry that it passes description. You'll stare to hear of her Grace of Cleveland at the head of them. If I was poetical I would tell you

“ The god of love, enrag'd to see

The nymph despise his flame,
At dice and cards misspend her nights,

And slight a nobler game;
“ For the neglect of offers past

And pride in days of yore,
He kindles up a fire at last,

That burns her at threescore.
“A polish'd wile is smoothly spread

Where whilome wrinkles lay;
And, glowing with an artful red,

She ogles at the play.
“ Along the Mall she softly sails,

In white and silver drest;
Her neck expos'd to Eastern gales,

And jewels on her breast.
“Her children banish'd, age forgot,

Lord Sidney is her care;
And, what is much a happier lot,

Has hopes to be her heir. “ This is all true history, though it is doggerel rhyme : in good earnest she has turned Lady D and family out of doors to make room for him, and there he lies like leaf-gold upon a pill; there never was so violent and so indiscreet a passion. Lady Stafford says nothing was ever like it, since Phædra and Hippolitus.—Lord ha' mercy upon us ! See what we may all come to !

M, W.M.” Again-the following words are as colours taken from the pallet of a Sir Joshua :

“ Cavendish-square, 1727. I cannot deny, but that I was very well diverted on the Coronation day. I saw the procession much at my ease, in a house which I filled with my own company, and then got into Westminster-hall without trouble, where it was very entertaining to observe the variety of airs that all meant the same thing. The business of every

walker there was to conceal vanity and gain admiration. For these purposes some languished and others strutted ; but a visible satisfaction was diffused over every countenance, as soon as the coronet was clapped on the head. But she that drew the greatest number of eyes, was indisputably Lady Orkney. She exposed behind a mixture of fat and wrinkles; and before, a very considerable protuberance which preceded her. Add to this, the inimitable roll of her eyes, and her grey hairs, which by good fortune stood directly upright, and 'tis impossible

Anne, daughter of Sir W. Pulteney of Misterton, in the county of Stafford ; remarried to Philip Southcote, Esq. Died in 1746.

to imagine a more delightful spectacle. She had embellished all this with considerable magnificence, which made her look as big again as usual: and I should have thought her one of the largest things of God's making if my Lady St. J**n had not displayed all her charins in honour of the day. The poor Duchess of M***se crept along with a dozen of black snakes playing round her face, and my Lady P***nd (who is fallen away since her dismission from court) represented very finely an Egyptian mummy embroidered over with hieroglyphics.”

Lady Mary read, and of course loved, the writings of Fielding. He was related to her. She had in her service a Fanny at the time she read Joseph Andrews, and thus she writes of her: “ TO THE COUNTESS OF BUTE.

“Venice, Oct. 1, N. S. 1748. “My dear Child,-I have at length received the box, with the books enclosed, for which I give you many thanks, as they amused me very much. I gave a very ridiculous proof of it, fitter indeed for my grand-daughter than myself. I returned from a party on horseback : and after having rode twenty miles, part of it by moonshine, it was ten at night when I found the box arrived. I could not deny myself the pleasure of opening it; and falling upon Fielding's works, was fool enough to sit up all night reading. I think Joseph Andrews better than his Foundling. I believe I was the more struck with it, having at present a Fanny in my own house, not only by the name, which happens to be the same, but the extraordinary beauty, joined with an understanding yet more extraordinary at her age, which is but few months past sixteen : she is in the post of my chambermaid. I fancy you will tax my discretion for taking a servant thus qualified ; but my woman, who is also my housekeeper, was always teizing me with her having too much work, and complaining of ill health, which determined me to take her a deputy; and when I was at Louvere, where I drank the waters, one of the most considerable merchants there pressed me to take this daughter of his : her mother has an uncommon good character, and the girl has had a better education than is usual for those of her rank; she writes a good hand, and has been brought up to keep accounts, which she does to great perfection ; and had herself such a violent desire to serve me, that I was persuaded to take her: I do not yet repent it from any part of her behaviour. But there has been no peace in the family ever since she came into it; I might say the parish, all the women in it having declared open war with her, and the men endeavouring all treaties of a different sort: my own woman puts herself at the head of the first party, and her spleen is increased by having no reason for it. The young creature is never stirring from my apartment, always at her needle, and never complaining of any thing. You will laugh at this tedious account of my domestics (if you have patience to read it over), but I have few other subjects to talk of."

Nothing can be livelier or happier than the following agreeable outbreak at Lady J. Wharton lavishing herself away upon one unworthy her.

“ Lady J. Wharton is to be married to Mr. Holt, which I am sorry for ;—to see a young woman that I really think one of the agreeablest

girls upon earth so vilely misplaced—but where are people matched ! -I suppose we shall all come right in Heaven; as in a country dance, the hands are strangely given and taken, while they are in motion, at last all meet their partners when the jig is done."

The observations on Richardson are a little too harsh,—but the sobbing over his works is a compliment which no criticism could dry up.

“ This Richardson is a strange fellow. I heartily despise him, and eagerly read him, nay, sob over his works, in a most scandalous manner. The two first tomes of Clarissa touched me, as being very resembling to my maiden days; and I find in the pictures of Sir Thomas Grandison and his lady, what I have heard of my mother, and seen of my father.”

Time having made us wiser than the Wortley, it is amusing to see her guessing at and confounding authors and their works.



“ Louvere, June 23, 1754. “MY DEAR CHILD,—I have promised you some remarks on all the books I have received. I believe you would easily forgive my not keeping my word; however, I shall go on. The Rambler is certainly a strong misnomer; he always plods in the beaten road of his predecessors, following the Spectator (with the same pace a pack-horse would do a hunter) in the style that is proper to lengthen a paper. These writers may, perhaps, be of service to the public, which is ing a great deal in their favour. There are numbers of both sexes who never read anything but such productions, and cannot spare time, from doing nothing, to go through a sixpenny pamphlet. Such gentle readers may be improved by a moral hint, which, though repeated over and over, from generation to generation, they never heard in their lives. I should be glad to know the name of this laborious author. H. Fielding has given a true picture of himself and his first wife, in the characters of Mr. and Mrs. Booth, some compliments to his own figure excepted; and, I am persuaded, several of the incidents he mentions are real matters of fact. I wonder he does not perceive Tom Jones and Mr. Booth are sorry scoundrels. All this sort of books have the same fault, which I cannot easily pardon, being very mischievous. They place a merit in extravagant passions, and encourage young people to hope for impossible events, to draw them out of the misery they choose to plunge themselves into, expecting legacies from unknown relations, and generous benefactors to distressed virtue, as much out of nature as fairy treasures. Fielding has really a fund of true humour, and was to be pitied at his first entrance into the world, having no choice, as he said himself, but to be a hackney writer, or a hackney coachman. His genius deserved a better fate: but I cannot help blaming that continued indiscretion, to give it the softest name, that has run through his life, and I am afraid still remains. I guessed R. Random to be his, though without his name. I cannot think Ferdinand Fathom wrote by the same hand, it is every way so much below it. Sally Fielding has mended her style in her last volume of David Simple, which conveys a useful moral, though she does not seem to have intended it: I mean, shews the ill consequences of not providing against casual losses, which happen to almost everybody.

Mrs. Orgueil's character is well drawn, and is frequently to be met with. The Art of Tormenting, the Female Quixote, and Sir C. Goodville, are all sale work. I suppose they proceed from her pen, and I heartily pity her, constrained by her circumstances to seek her bread by a method, I do not doubt, she despises. Tell me who is that accomplished countess she celebrates. I left no such person in London; nor can I imagine who is meant by the English Sappho mentioned in Betsy Thoughtless, whose adventures, and those of Jemmy Jessamy, gave me some amusement. I was better entertained by the valet, who very fairly represents how you are bought and sold by your servants. I am now so accustomed to another manner of treatment, it would be difficult to me to suffer them: his adventures have the uncommon merit of ending in a surprising manner. The general want of invention which reigns among our writers inclines me to think it is not the natural growth of our island, which has pot sun enough to warm the imagination. The press is loaded by the servile flock of imitators. Lord Bolingbroke would have quoted Horace in this place. Since I was born, no original has appeared excepting Congreve, and Fielding, who would, I believe, have approached nearer to his excellencies, if not forced, by necessity, to publish without correction, and throw many productions into the world, he would have thrown into the fire, if meat could have been got without money, or money without scribbling. The greatest virtue, justice, and the most distinguishing prerogative of mankind, writing, when duly executed, do honour to human nature; but, when degenerated into trades, are the most contemptible ways of getting bread. I am sorry not to see any more of Peregrine Pickle's performances; I wish you would tell me his name.”

An ancestor of Lord Moira was capable of making a nice distinction:

“I cannot believe Sir John's advancement is owing to his merit, tho' he certainly deserves such a distinction; but I am persuaded the present disposers of such dignitys are neither more clear-sighted, or more disinterested than their predecessors. Even since I knew the world, Irish patents have been hung out to sale, like the laced and embroidered coats in Monmouth-street, and bought up by the same sort of people; I mean those who had rather wear shabby finery than no finery at all; though I don't suppose this was Sir John's case. That good creature, (as the country saying is,) has not a bit of pride about him. I dare swear he purchased his title for the same reason he used to purchase pictures in Italy; not because he wanted to buy, but because somebody or other wanted to sell. He hardly ever opened his mouth but to say • What you please, sir;'

-* Your humble servant ;' or some gentle expression to the same effect. It is scarce credible that with this unlimited complaisance he should draw a blow upon himself; yet it so happened that one of bis own countrymen was brute enough to strike him. As it was done before many witnesses, Lord Mansel heard of it; and thinking that if poor Sir John took no notice of it, he would suffer daily insults of the same kind, out of pure good nature resolved to spirit him up, at least to some shew of resentment, intending to make up the matter afterwards in as honourable a manner as he could for the poor patient. He represented to him very warmly that no gentle

[ocr errors]

He pro

man could take a box on the ear. Sir John answered with great calmness, I know that, but this was not a box on the ear, it was only a slap o' the face."

The following is a smart sketch-perhaps a little too piquant : “Next to the great ball, what makes the most noise is the marriage of an old maid, who lives in this street, without a portion, to a man of 7,000l. per annum, and they say 40,0001. in ready money. Her equipage and liveries outshine any body's in town. He has presented her with 3,000l. in jewels; and never was man more smitten with these charms that had lain invisible for these forty years; but, with all his glory, never bride had fewer enviers, the dear beast of a man is so filthy, frightful, odious, and detestable. I would turn away such a footman for fear of spoiling my dinner, while he waited at table. They were married on Friday, and came to church en parade on Sunday. I happened to sit in the pew with them, and had the honour of seeing Mrs. Bride fall fast asleep in the middle of the sermon, and snore very comfortably; which made several women in the church think the bridegroom not quite so ugly as they did before. Envious people say, 'twas all counterteited to please him, but I believe that to be scandal ; for I dare swear, nothing but downright necessity could make her miss one word of the sermon. fesses to have married her for her devotion, patience, meekness, and other Christian virtues he observed in her : his first wife (who has left no children) being very handsome, and so good-natured as to have ventured her own salvation to secure his. He has married this lady to have a companion in that paradise where his first has given him a title. I believe I have given you too much of this couple; but they are not to be comprehended in few words.

“My dear Mrs. Hewet, remember me and believe that nothing can put you out of


head.” The noble dukes of the present day, and the learned members of the faculty, are by no means of so sportive a turn as they were in the goodly times of Mrs. Hewet. We confess we should like to have to get up some fine morning to be in St. James's Park in time to see some such elegant struggle between the Duke of Devonshire and Sir Henry Halford as the following:

“ There is another story that I had from a band I dare depend upon. The Duke of Grafton and Dr. Garth ran a foot-match in the Mall of 200 yards, and the latter, to his immortal glory, beat."

With a strong turn for building herself, Lady Mary makes some sensible remarks on its folly in others.

“ Building is the general weakness of old people ; I have had a twitch of it myself, though certainly it is the highest absurdity, and as sure a proof of dotage as pink-coloured ribands, or even matrimony. Nay, perhaps, there is more to be said in defence of the last ; I mean in a childless old man; he may prefer a boy born in his own house, though he knows it is not his own, to disrespectful or worthless nephews or nieces. But there is no excuse for beginning an edifice he can never inhabit, or probably see finished. The Duchess of Marlborough used to ridicule the vanity of it, by saying one might always live upon other people's follies : yet you see she built the most ridicú

« PředchozíPokračovat »