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like my Alice l—I am persuaded she was a true Elia—Mildred Elia, I take it. Mine, too, BLAKESMooR, was thy noble Marble Hall, with its mosaic pavements, and its Twelve Caesars—stately busts in marble—ranged round ; of whose countenances, young reader of faces as I was, the frowning beauty of Nero, I remember, had most of my wonder ; but the mild Galba had my love. There they stood in the coldness of death, yet freshness of immortality. Mine, too, thy lofty Justice Hall, with its one chair of authority, high-backed and wickered, once the terror of luckless poacher, or self-forgetful maiden—so common since, that bats have roosted in it. Mine, too, whose else ?—thy costly fruit-garden, with its sun-baked southern wall ; the ampler pleasure-garden, rising backwards from the house in triple terraces, with flower-pots now of palest lead, save that a speck here and there, saved from the elements, bespake their pristine state to have been gilt and glittering; the verdant quarters backwarder still ; and, stretching still beyond, in old formality, thy firry wilderness, the haunt of the squirrel, and the day-long murmuring wood-pigeon, with that antique image in the centre, God or Goddess I wist not; but child of Athens or old Rome paid never a sincerer worship to Pan or to Sylvanus in their native groves, than I to that fragmental mystery. Was it for this, that I kissed my childish hands too fervently in your idol-worship, walks and windings of BLAKESMooR 1 for this, or what sin of mine, has the plough passed over your pleasant places 2 I sometimes think that as men, when they die, do not die all, so of their extinguished habitations there may be a hope—a germ to be revivified.
A Poor Relation—is the most irrelevant thing in nature, a piece of impertinent correspondency, an odious approximation,--a haunting conscience,—a preposterous shadow, lengthening in the noon-tide of our prosperity,+an unwelcome remembrancer, a perpetually recurring mortification,-a drain on your purse, a more intolerable dun upon your pride,-a drawback upon success, a rebuke to your rising, a stain in your blood, a blot on your 'scutcheon, a rent in your garment, a death’s head at your banquet,_Agathocles' pot, -a Mordecai in your gate, —a Lazarus at your door, a lion in your path, a frog in your chamber, a fly in your ointment, a mote in your eye, -a triumph to your enemy, an apology to your friends,-the one thing not needful, -the hail in harvest,the ounce of sour in a pound of Sweet. He is known by his knock. Your heart telleth you “That is Mr. .” A rap, between familiarity and respect; that demands, and at the same time seems to despair of, entertainment. He entereth Smiling and— embarrassed. He holdeth out his hand to you to shake, and—draweth it back again. He casually looketh in about dinner-time—when the table is full. He offereth to go away, seeing you have company—but is induced to stay. He filleth a chair, and your visitor’s two children are accommodated at a side-table. He never cometh upon open days, when your wife says, with some complacency, “My dear, perhaps Mr. will drop in to-day.” He remembereth birthdays—and professeth he is fortunate to have stumbled upon one. He declareth against fish, the turbot being small—yet suffereth himself to be importuned into a slice, against his first resolution. He sticketh by the port—yet will be prevailed upon to empty the remainder glass of claret, if a stranger press it upon him. He is a puzzle to the servants, who are fearful of being too obsequious, or not civil enough, to him. The guests think “ they have seen him before.” Every one speculateth upon his condition ; and the most part take him to be a-tide-waiter. He calleth you by your Christian name, to imply that his other is the same with your own. He is too familiar by half, yet you wish he had less diffidence. With half the familiarity, he might pass for a casual dependant; with more boldness, he would be in no danger of being taken for what he is. He is too humble for a friend ; yet taketh on him more state than befits a client. He is a worse guest than a country tenant, inasmuch as he bringeth up no rent —yet ’tis odds, from his garb and demeanour, that your guests take him for one. He is asked to make one at the whist table ; refuseth on the score of poverty, and—resents being left out. When the company break up, he proffereth to go for a coach—and lets the servant go. He recollects your grandfather; and will thrust in some mean and quite unimportant anecdote—of the family. He knew it when it was not quite so flourishing as “he is blest in seeing it now.” He reviveth past situations, to institute what he calleth—favourable comparisons. With a reflecting sort of congratulation, he will inquire the price of your furniture : and insults you with a special commendation of your window-curtains. He is of opinion that the urn is the more elegant shape; but, after all, there was something more comfortable about the old tea-kettle—which you must remember. He dare say you must find a great convenience in having a carriage of your own, and appealeth to your lady if it is not so. Inquireth if you have had your arms done on vellum yet; and did not know, till lately, that such-and-such had been the crest of the family. His memory is unseasonable ; his compliments perverse ; his talk a trouble ; his stay pertinacious ; and when he goeth away, you dismiss his chair into a corner as precipitately as possible, and feel fairly rid of two nuisances. There is a worse evil under the sun, and that is—a female Poor Relation. You may do something with the other; you may pass him off tolerably well; but your indigent she-relative is hopeless. “He is an old humorist,” you may say, “and affects to go threadbare. His circumstances are better than folks would take them to be. You are fond of having a Character at your table, and truly he is one.” But in the indications of female poverty there can be no disguise. No woman dresses below herself from caprice. The truth must out without shuffling. “She is plainly related to the L ’s ; or what does she at their house 2 ” She is, in all probability, your wife's cousin. Nine times out of ten, at least, this is the case.—Her garb is something between a gentlewoman and a beggar, yet the former evidently predominates. She is most provokingly humble, and ostentatiously sensible to her inferiority. He may require to be repressed sometimes—aliquando sufflaminandus erat—but there is no raising her. You send her soup at dinner, and she begs to be helped—after the gentlemen. Mr. requests the honour of taking wine with her; she hesitates between Port and Madeira, and chooses the former, because he does. She calls the servant Sir ; and insists on not troubling him to hold her plate. The housekeeper patronises her. The children's governess takes upon her to correct her, when she has mistaken the piano for a harpsichord. Richard Amlet, Esq., in the play, is a notable instance of the disadvantages to which this chimerical notion of affinity constituting a claim to acquaintance, may subject the spirit of a gentleman. A little foolish blood is all that is betwixt him and a lady with a great estate. His stars are perpetually crossed by the malignant maternity of an old woman, who persists in calling him “her son Dick.” But she has wherewithal in the end to recompense his indignities, and float him again upon the brilliant surface, under which it had been her seeming business and pleasure all along to sink him. All men, besides, are not of Dick’s temperament. I knew an Amlet in real life, who, wanting Dick’s buoyancy, sank indeed. Poor W was of my own standing at Christ's, a fine classic, and a youth of promise. If he had a blemish, it was too much pride ; but its quality was inoffensive ; it was not of that sort which hardens the heart, and serves to keep inferiors at a distance; it only sought to ward off derogation from itself. It was the principle of self-respect carried as far as it could go, without infringing upon that respect, which he would have every one else equally maintain for himself. He would have you to think alike with him on this topic. Many a quarrel have I had with him, when we were rather older boys, and our tallness made us more obnoxious to observation in the blue clothes, because I would not thread the alleys and blind ways of the town with him to elude notice, when we have been out together on a holiday in the streets of this sneering and prying metropolis. W went, sore with these notions, to Oxford, where the dignity and sweetness of a scholar’s life, meeting with the alloy of a humble introduction, wrought in him a passionate devotion to the place, with a profound aversion from the society. The servitor's gown (worse than his school array) clung to him with Nessian venom. He thought himself ridiculous in a garb, under which Latimer must have walked erect, and in which Hooker, in his young days, possibly flaunted in a vein of no discommendable vanity. In the depth of college shades, or in his lonely chamber, the poor student shrunk from observation. He found shelter among books, which insult not; and studies, that ask no questions of a youth's finances. He was lord of his library, and seldom cared for looking out beyond his domains. The healing influence of studious pursuits was upon him to soothe and to abstract. He was almost a healthy man, when the waywardness of his fate broke out against him with a second and worse malignity. The father of W had hitherto exercised the humble profession of house-painter, at N , near Oxford. A supposed interest with some of the heads of colleges had now induced him to take up his abode in that city, with the hope of being employed upon some public works which were talked of. From that moment I read in the countenance of the young man the determination which at length tore him from academical pursuits for ever. To a person unacquainted with our universities, the distance between the gownsmen and the townsmen, as they are called—the trading part of the latter especially—is carried to an excess that would appear harsh and incredible. The temperament of W ’s father was diametrically the reverse of his own. Old W Was a little, busy, cringing tradesman, who, with his son upon his arm, would stand bowing and scraping, cap in hand, to anything that wore the semblance of a gown—insensible to the winks and opener remonstrances of the young man, to whose chamber-fellow, or equal in standing, perhaps, he was thus obsequiously and gratuitously ducking. Such a state of things could not last. W must change the air of Oxford, or be suffocated. He chose the former ; and let the sturdy moralist, who strains the point of the filial duties as high as they can bear, censure the dereliction ; he cannot estimate the struggle. I stood with W , the last afternoon I ever saw him, under the eaves of his paternal dwelling. It was in the fine lane leading from the High Street to the back of * * * * college, where W kept his rooms. He seemed thoughtful and more reconciled. I ventured to rally him—finding him in a better mood—upon a representation of the Artist Evangelist, which the old man, whose affairs were beginning to flourish, had caused to be set up in a splendid sort of frame over his really handsome shop, either as a token of prosperity or badge of gratitude to his saint. W looked up at the Luke and, like Satan, “knew his mounted sign—and fled.” A letter on his father's table, the next morning, announced that he had accepted a commission in a regiment