« PreviousContinue »
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 woodpigeon, 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 1 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 ! for this, or what sin of mine, has the plough passed over your pleasant places? 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 noontide of your 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 visiter'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 birth-days— 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 dependent; 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 suchand-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 humourist," 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?" She
is, in all probability, your wife's cousin. Nine times out of ten, at least, this is the case. Her