Obrázky stránek

one point I have taken a decided resolution--I should convey my proposals by letter. III would it become me to attempt a personal decla. ration ; I should blush more than the sex who are privileged to blush as much as they can on these occasions, and should extinguish any glimmering partiality by appearing ridiculous. Ridicule is the most bitter enemy of love: they never meet without a death-blow being given to one of the parties. Blame a man's morals, principles, or temper, and woman loves on with amiable constancy ;-laugh at the shape of his pose, or his manner of making a bow, discover in him something to quiz, and strong indeed is the affection which does not speedily cool.

A brother of mine (shyness is a family distemper) lost a wife by venturing on the rash measure of a vivá voce offer. He was walking up a fine mountain in Westmoreland with a lady whom he much admired, and whose manners had been far from discouraging. The evening was remarkably beautiful, the views were enchanting, outward circumstances gave a sudden impetus to his passion, an unnatural boldness came upon him, and he dashed into a declaration of love. But, alas! too soon the deceitful inspiration failed, his own nature resumed its ascendancy, he stammered forth his vows in broken and unintelligible murmurs, and, covered with confusion, was unobservant of his mountain-path, and fell down twice before he had completed his offer. At the first slip the lady blushed on, and maintained her gravity--my brother shook the dust from his clothes, and did not despair ;-the second time, his hat fell off, and was carried away by the wind, he was obliged to run in pursuit of it: the shrill notes of female laughter were borne after him on the breeze ; they sounded in his ears the knell of all his tender hopes. Too truly he guessed his fate: on his return, breathless as he was, he attempted to renew the interesting subject; but the lady was no longer blushing or confused, a smile was yet lurk ing on her lips, and he was civilly rejected.

Let the offer, however, be made ; let that word be spoken to which the Chinese proverb may be applied with peculiar truth,“ a word once let fall cannot be fetched back by a chariot and six horses ;" let it be favourably received, and flirtation changed into courtship, still the most fearful part of the affair is yet to come. If I might at once bear my bride away, take but one step from my proposals to my nuptials, all would be comparatively easy. During the wedding ceremony, observation is monopolized by the lady-her looks, her words, her dress, her flutterings, are watched by every eye; and the bridegroom, without the appendages of white satin, a lace veil, tears, or a smelling bottle, has little to attract attention, and if he does but speak the responses intelligibly, and put the ring on the proper finger, may slip through the most important act of his life with little notice or distinction. But there is an awful interval (which the lady loves to lengthen) between acceptance and matrimony; and the more I consider my own character and capabilities, the more convinced I feel that I could not possibly pass the ordeal of courtship with tolerable credit and respectability. Reflect on the labours, the assiduities, the paradings, the exhibitings of the noviciate which precedes our entrance into those gates, which bear not the accommodating inscription, “ si delectat mancas, si tædet abeas.” I had begun to think rather seriously of marriage, but a few weeks passed in the same house with an engaged couple convinced me, that however the temple of Hymen may be when you are fairly within it, its approaches are infinitely too difficult for a bashful man. Surely when the Moravians teach their disciples to hold themselves in submissive readiness for these three perilous services, “ a journey, death, and matrimony,” it is of the previous preparations for the latter that they more especially think. An engaged lover is an object of general curiosity and observation ; let him creep through life ever so snugly at other times, during courtship he is watched, stared at, criticised, he becomes the hero of his own little world, the mark for “ quips, and sentences, and paper bullets of the brain." Yet how easily and triumphantly do some men carry themselves through this period of notoriety and distinction. “ Non equidem invideo, miror magis." I would, indeed, imitate the most approved examples to the extent of my power, and convince the lady of my affection, by every demonstration of love that could reasonably be expected of a shy man. I would make no objection to whispering my admiration of every thing she said, or did, or wrote, or wore. I would listen patient and pleased, if she chose to murder some of Mozart's sweetest songs; I would gaze with approval on her drawings, though all her trees were like furze bushes, and all her castles tumbling down; I would prefer yellow to blue, or Moore to Milton, at her bidding; read a library of romances at her desire, and spend hours in writing out quadrilles, charades, or sonnets, to please her; I would pretend to be terrified if she complained of a headach, and propose to send for a physician if she coughed. The other duties of a lover I would gladly commute by extra-attentions as a hushand. But, alas ! no commutation, no compromise is admitted. If the bride herself be disposed to lenity, and inclined to be merciful in her exactions, these amiable weaknesses are checked by the railleries and reproaches of her young female friends, who always flock about a woman on the eve of marriage, and form themselves into a committee of observation on the lover, as if to watch that no courtship dues are left unpaid. If he be remiss, they reproach him for his negligence; if ardent and devoted, they rally him on the violence of his passion. I would rather be reprimanded by the Speaker of the House of Commons, than exposed to these girlish gibes and jests. I think I hear now those voluble tongues, that copious flow of ridicule, that easy pertness, those mingling peals of laughter, which have occasionally covered me with confusion. The broad stream of bantering has been too often poured over my shrinking head, by those careless, light-hearted creatures, who, unaware of the agony they inflict, unmindful of time, place or circumstances, unobservant of character, exemplify the fable of the Boys and the Frogs, and half roast a bashful man to death by the fire of his own blushes.

One of the duties of a lover is that of staring: he ought several times a day to fix his eyes on his fair one's countenance, and look at her steadily for two or three minutes, or as much longer as he can bear it, concluding the ceremony by heaving a deep sigh. The lady sits very patiently under the operation, knowing it to be an established part of orthodox-courtship, and the rest of the company wink, and smile, and seem much editied and pleased by the apparent abstraction of the gentleman. Now, Mr. Editor, I never since I was born looked

steadily at any one for more than half a quarter of a minute, and I should stare with the same confusion of face as if I were being stared at.

Another misery of courtship is the bustle that ensues when the lover enters the room which contains his mistress. Instead of allowing him quietly and gradually to creep towards her, there is always some officious matron, or smiling damsel (one of the committee of inspection), who endeavours to effect an immediate approximation. A general bustle commences; whispers and winks fly round the circle; friends, informed of the necessity of the case, make excuses for moving ; strangers are deluded into warm corners, or hurried with affected anxiety from some dangerous draught of air; every one seems of opinion that the most fatal consequences might ensue, should the betrothed parties be placed otherwise than in juxta-position. The gentleman is ushered into the enviable seat amidst a host of gazers and simperers; and some witty person is sure to utter in an audible whisper, "Well, now, Mr. , you are happy, I suppose.” Ye gods, no one would ever make such a speech to me under such circumstances; no one would be tempted to mistake the expression of my countenance for happiness; all the demons of annoyance and confusion would dwell upon my crimson brow. Then, again, I should be paraded to balls and parties in the interesting character of bridegroom elect, and should be expected to act the part of turtle-dove for the amusement of the company. I should be watched when I approached my intended, as if it were not unlikely that I might suddenly throw myself at her feet, as if I could not put on her shawl without vowing eternal attachment, or offer her refreshments without entreating her to name the happy day. I must parade up and down the room with her in close and earnest conversation, bend every three seconds to look into her eyes, throw a mysterious air into my whole demeanour, whisper my most trivial remarks, and look amorous from the topmost curl of my hair to my very shoe-tie. As it is said, that the character of a fine statue may be discovered by the most minute fragment, that the majesty of Juno resides in her great toe, and the grace of Venus sports on the tip of her ear; so it seems to be supposed that a lover is all over love, and that he cannot talk to his beloved on any subject without infusing into it an amorous spirit. Flames ought to breathe forth amidst a dissertation on the Congress at Verona; Cupid should sit astride on the bonassus, or walk hand-in-hand with the mermaid in Chancery. It is surprising to me that lovers, like other common-place sights, do not sink into a comfortable insignificance, without being exposed to any observing eyes, except those of girls and boys under fifteen. But single persoas continue to take the most careful observations of all such approaching conjunctions, anxious, I suppose, to provide themselves with authorities and precedents for their own future direction; and even old married people are curious to see if the fashion has changed since their days of cooing and courting. In short, it would be as absurd in me to offer to dance a minuet, sing a solo, or make a speech at a public dinner, as to expect to carry myself through the office of lover with propriety or success. My mistress would quarrel with me in a week. Yet could I but slip through the labours of courtship, in matrimony I should certainly find an ample reward for my previous Vol. V. No. 25.-1823.


sufferings. A shy man is of all others the best calculated for married life. He will love with more than ordinary fervour the only woman in whose presence he feels perfectly at ease; and that fire-side, where he may enjoy conversation without company, will be dearer to him than any other place in the world. There are also minor advantages of married life to which I am far from insensible. When I did go into society, I should have a companion who would enter a room before me, receive the first broad flash of observation,—the first salutations. How comfortably should I walk about with my wife on my arm, and gain part of the credit of her lively chat and easy address! When paying morning visits, too, how often should I bless myself for being a husband! My wife would make the movement for departure, take that most difficult step on which I have often meditated for half an hour without success, have sat and saťtill I was asked to stay dinner, and then risen precipitately, and made an awkward retreat. But, alas ! the old proverb about “ a faint heart” will I fear be exemplified by my fate. Deep and desperate indeed must be the love which can change me into " a suitor bold.” All nature cannot produce an instance of so complete a transformation. The little creeping caterpillar, shrouding itself among the dust of the earth, is not so dissimilar from the gay butterfly that delights to sport among flowers and sunshine, as a bold gallant lover, proud of his affection, urgent in his suit, triumphing under observation, is unlike the unfortunate bashful bachelor who now addresses you. I remain, Mr. Editor, your very obedient humble servant,

W. E.


Translated from Cardinal BBMBO.
Love, when with me you linger'd in the shade,

Viewing in secret her I hold so dear,
I would have pour'd my passion to the maid,

But you, deceiver, fill'd my heart with fear.
I saw her form amidst the blossoms bright,

I mark'd the bending flowers her steps had press'd,
I saw the heavens from which her eyes of light

Had stolen their hue to triumph o'er my breast.
I mark'd where first she came and fix'd her seat,

Where wandering stray'd as one in reasoning mood,
Then bent her brow and spoke and smiled so sweet,

Then paused, and wrapt in thoughtful silence stood.
0! could I paint her action, form, and face,

Thou too wouldst marvel at her charms and grace. Reydon, Suffolk.

[ocr errors]


Extracted from an old Manuscript. (This MS. which is without a Title-page, or other means of ascertaining its date, appears to have been an Essay upon Sleep. The transcriber, besides modernizing the spelling throughout, and supplying one or two words which he could not decypher, has omitted some passages which descended into a tedious or indelicate minuteness.)

“ Now that we be upon this subject of dreams and apparitions, I may nohow forbear to mention that full strange and terrible one of Sir Guy Eveling, and the consequences tragical issuing therefrom, which do I the more willingly pen, forasmuch as the dismal tale was hushed and smothered up at the time by the great families with whom he was consanguined, people of worshipful regard and jeopardous power, whereby folks only whispered of the story in corners, and peradventure bruited about many things which were but fond imaginings. How I learned the real sooth and verity of that awesome event, and came to be consulted thereupon, ye shall presently see, when I unfold to you that the Lady Rivers, the favourite sister of Sir Guy, then dwelt in the close of Westminster Abbey, in the next house to mine own, which abutteth upon the great cloisters; who first being only a near neighbour, became at last a fast friend, and claimed my advisement in all that touched herself and that most unhappy gentleman her brother. Albeit my lips were vowed to a locked secrecy while she lived, yet can they now divulge what they have so long concealed; for that right worthy lady (whom God absolve!) having withdrawn to the Rookery, by Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire, did there erewhile give up the ghost in all godliDess of faith and abundancy of hope.

“Now wot ye well that Sir Guy had received a good and clerkly schooling at Oxenforde, and was well learned in all that doth beseem a gentleman, yet, maugre this his knowledge, he was of a haute and orgulous stomach that would not agnize the wisdom of beadsmen, nor even brook the tender counsellings of friends and kinsmen, whereby he waxed wild, and readily fell to mischief and riot, giving up his mornings to dicers, racqueters, and scatterlings, and casting away the night with ribalds, wasselers, and swinge-bucklers, when he was not worse bestowed (though better to his liking) with giglots and goldwasting wantons, upon whom he lavished his substance, and then betook himself to the dice to repair his fortune-for ever one wickedness begetteth another. In this evil wise did he live, reckless of reproof and deaf to fond entreatment, to the sore discomfort and aggrieving of all his honourable house: howbeit that few now took busy concernment about him except the Lady Rivers, who did often, with all the compassment of wit and loving-kindness of heart, beseech him to abandon the crafty mermaids and chamberers with whom he consorted, and choose some chaste and discreet mate, so to establish himself in such a goodly household as became his ancestry. Verily, Alice, (would he say) if ye any thing earthly reg d, I do entreat ye forbear this manner of speech, which nought availeth thee to utter and irketh me to hear, for I will not quit my ronyons and bonarobas till it pleaseth me of my own free will; and for a wife, never have I yet seen the eyes that could bribe me to put the neck of my liberty into the collar of a wedding

« PředchozíPokračovat »