« PreviousContinue »
to be reduced to this paltry situation—to be caged in a miserable cottage—to be obliged to toil almost in the menial concerns of her wretched habitation ?” “ Has she then repined at the change ?”
Repined ! she has been nothing but sweetness and good humour. Indeed, she seems in better spirits than I have ever known her ; has been to me all love, and tenderness, and comfort !”
“Admirable girl," exclaimed I. “You call yourself poor, my friend; you never were so rich you never knew the boundless treasures of excellence you possess in that woman.”
“ Oh! but, my friend, if this first meeting at the cottage were over, I think I could then be comfortable. But this is her first day of real experience : she has been introduced into a humble dwelling—she has been employed all day in arranging its miserable equipments—she has, for the first time, known the fatigues of domestic employment-she has, for the first time, looked around her on a home destitute of every thing elegant,almost of every thing convenient; and may now be sitting down, exhausted and spiritless, brooding over a prospect of future poverty.”
There was a degree of probability in this picture that I could not gainsay, so we walked on in silence.
After turning from the main road up a narrow lane, so thickly shaded by forest trees as to give it a complete air of seclusion, we came in sight of the cottage. It was humble enough in its appearance for the most pastoral poet; and yet it had a pleasing rural look. A wild vine had overrun one end with a profusion of foliage; a few trees threw their branches gracefully over it ; and I observed several pots of flowers tastefully disposed about the door, and on the grass-plot in front. A small wicket gate opened upon a footpath that wound through some shrubbery to the door. Just as we approached, we heard the sound of music -Leslie grasped my arm; we paused and listened. It was. Mary's voice singing, in a style of the most touching simplicity, a little air of which her husband was peculiarly fond.
I felt Leslie's hand tremble on my arm. He stepped forward to hear more distinctly. His step made a noise on the gravel walk.
A bright beautiful face glanced out at the window and vanished—a light footstep was heard—and Mary came tripping forth to meet us: she was in a pretty rural dress of white; a few wild flowers were twisted in her fine hair ; a fresh
bloom was on her cheek; her whole countenance beamed with smiles—I had never seen her look so lovely.
My dear George,” cried she, “ I am so glad you are come! I have been watching and watching for you; and running down the lane, and looking out for you. I've set out a table under a beautiful tree behind the cottage; and I've been gathering some of the most delicious strawberries, for I know you are fond of them
and we have such excellent cream-and every thing is so sweet and still here.-Oh!” said she, putting her arm within his, and looking up brightly in his face, “Oh, we shall be so happy !”
Poor Leslie was overcome.- .-He caught her to his bosomhe folded his arms round her-he kissed her again and againhe could not speak, but the tears gushed into his eyes; and he has often assured me, that though the world has since gone prosperously with him, and his life has indeed been a happy one, yet never has he experienced a moment of such unutterable felicity.
THE ENGLISH COUNTRY GENTLEMAN.
WASHINGTON IRVING. I do not know a more enviable condition of life, than that of an English gentleman, of sound judgment and good feelings, who passes the greater part of his time on an hereditary estate in the country. From the excellence of the roads and the rapidity and exactness of the public conveyances, he is enabled to command all the comforts and conveniences, all the intelligence and novelties of the capital, while he is removed from its hurry and distraction. He has ample means of occupation and amusement within his own domains; he may diversify his time by rural occupations, by rural sports, by study, and by the delights of friendly society collected within his own hospitable halls.
Or if his views and feelings are of a more extensive and liberal nature, he has it greatly in his power to do good, and to have that good immediately reflected back upon himself. He can render essential service to his country, by assisting in the disinterested administration of the laws; by watching over the opinions and principles of the lower orders around him; by diffusing among them those lights which may be important to their welfare ; by mingling frankly among them, gaining their con
fidence, becoming the immediate auditor of their complaints, informing himself of their wants, making himself a channel through which their grievances may be quietly communicated to the proper sources of mitigation and relief; or by becoming, if need be, the intrepid and incorruptible guardian of their liberties—the enlightened champion of their rights. All this, it appears to me, can be done without
sacrifice of personal dignity, without any degrading arts of popularity, without any truckling to vulgar prejudices, or concurrence in vulgar clamour ; but by the steady influence of sincere and friendly counsel, of fair, upright, and generous deportment. Whatever may be said of English mobs and English demagogues, I have never met with a people more open to reason, more considerate in their tempers, more tractable by argument in the roughest times, than the English. They are remarkably quick at discerning and appreciating whatever is manly and honourable. They are by nature and habit methodical and orderly ; and they feel the value of all that is regular and respectable. They may occasionally be deceived by sophistry, and excited into turbulence by public distresses and the misrepresentations of designing men; but open their eyes, and they will eventually rally round the land-marks of steady truth and deliberate good sense. They are fond of established customs, they are fond of long-established names, and that love of order and quiet which characterizes the nation, gives a vast influence to the descendants of the old families, whose forefathers have been lords of the soil from time immemorial.
It is when the rich and well-educated and highly privileged classes neglect their duties, when they neglect to study the interests, and conciliate the affections, and instruct the opinions, and champion the rights of the people, that the latter become discontented and turbulent, and fall into the hands of demagogues : the demagogue always steps in where the patriot is wanting. There is a common high-handed cant among the high feeding, and, as they fancy themselves, high-minded men, about putting down the mob; but all true physicians know that it is better to sweeten the blood than attack the tumour, to employ the emollient rather than the cautery. It is absurd in a country like England, where there is so much freedom, and such a jealousy of right, for any man to assume an aristocratical tone, and to talk superciliously of the common people. There is no rank that makes him independent of the opinions and affections of his fellow-men, there is no rank or distinction that severs him from his fellow-subject; and if, by any gradual neglect or assumption on the one side, and discontent and jealousy on the other, the orders of society should really separate, let those who stand on the eminence beware that the chasm is not mining at their feet. The orders of society in all well constituted governments are mutually bound together, and important to each other; th can be no such thing in a free government as a vacuum; and whenever one is likely to take place, by the drawing off of the rich and intelligent from the poor, the bad passions of society will rush in to fill up the space, and rend the whole asunder.
DUTIES OF A WIFE.
WASHINGTON IRVING.* It is for the married state that a woman needs the most instruction, and in which she should be most on her guard to maintain her powers of pleasing. No woman can expect to be to her husband all that he fancied her when he was a lover. Men are always doomed to be duped, not so much by the arts of the sex, as by their own imaginations. They are always wooing goddesses, and marrying mere mortals. A woman should therefore ascertain what was the charm that rendered her so fascinating when a girl, and endeavour to keep it up when she has become a wife. One great thing undoubtedly was, the chariness of herself and her conduct, which an unmarried female always observes. She should maintain the same niceness and reserve in her person and habits, and endeavour still to preserve a freshness and virgin delicacy in the eye of her husband. She should remember that the province of woman is to be wooed, not to woo; to be caressed, not to caress. Man is an ungrateful being in love ; bounty loses instead of winning him. The secret of a woman's power does not consist so much in giving as in withholding! A woman may give up too much even to her husband. It is to a thousand little delicacies of conduct that she must trust to keep alive passion, and to protect herself from that dangerous familiarity, that thorough acquaintance with every weakness and imperfection incident to matrimony. By these means she may still maintain her power, though she has surrendered her person, and may continue the romance of love even beyond the honey-moon.
* The liberal use we have made of the pages of this gentleman will lead the reader to conclude (and justly) that we entertain a high opinion of them; and so we do of their author ;-indeed, we hardly know which most to admire the pages themselves, or the head and heart that dictated them! There is so much ease and grace - such native gentleness and elegance_such refinement and good taste in all he expresses and describes, that, however ruffled or irate you may have been on taking up bis “Sketch Book,” the conclusion is certain, that, on laying it down, you will find your mind softened and soothed;—that, in short, you feel you have been holding companionship with a GENTLEMAN_with one of NATURE's nobility, whom you are forthwith disposed both to esteem and respect ! Often-often have we wished that Mr. Washington Irving could impart a portion of his own happy, placable affections to a CERTAIN PARTY of his clever countrymen i It is almost needless to add, that Mr. Irving is a citizen of the United States.
“ She that hath a wise husband,” says Jeremy Taylor, “must entice him to an eternal dearnesse by the veil of modesty, and the grave robes of chastity, the ornament of meeknesse, and the jewels of faith and charity. She must have no painting but blushings: her brightness must be purity, and she must shine round about with sweetness and friendship, and she shall be pleasant while she lives, and desired when she dies.”
She's modest, but not sullen, and loves silence ;
VISIT TO A PRIVATE MADHOUSE.
M'DONOUGH.* Of all the houses of mourning, that to which poor unhappy mortals are sent under mental derangement, is certainly the
* Captain Felix M‘Donough, author of the “ Hermit in the Country,' &c., died in April, 1836.