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the friendships, which outlast a second generation. Old as I am getting, in his eyes I was still the child he knew me. To the last he called me Jemmy. I have none to call me Jemmy now. He was the last link that bound me to B . You are but of yesterday. In him I seem to have lost the old plainness of manners and singleness of heart. Lettered he was not; his reading scarcely exceeded the Obituary of the old Gentleman's Magazine, to which he has never failed of having recourse for these last fifty years. Yet there was the pride-of literature about him from that slender perusal; and moreover from his office of archive-keeper to your ancient city, in which he must needs pick up some equivocal Latin; which, among his less literary friends, assumed the air of a very pleasant pedantry. Can I forget the erudite look with which, having tried to puzzle out the text of a Black lettered Chaucer in your Corporation Library, to which he was a sort of Librarian, he gave it up with this consolatory reflection—"Jemmy," said he " I do not know what you find in these very old books, but I observe, there is a deal of very indifferent spelling in them." His jokes (for he had some) are ended; but they were old Perennials, staple, and always as good as new. He had one Song, that spake of the "flat bottoms of our foes coming over in darkness," and alluded to a threatened Invasion, many years since blown over; this he reserved to be sung on Christmas Night, which we always passed with him, and he sang it with the freshness of an impending event. How his eyes would sparkle when he came to the passage:—
We'll still make 'em run, and we'll still make 'em sweat,
What is the Brussels' Gazette now? I cry, while I endite these trifles. His poor girls who are, I believe, compact of solid goodness, will have to receive their afflicted mother at an unsuccessful home in a petty village in shire, where for years they have been struggling to raise a Girls' School with no effect. Poor deaf Robert (and the less hopeful for being so) is thrown upon a deaf world, without the comfort to his father on his death-bed of knowing him provided for. They are left almost provisionless. Some life assurance there is; but, I fear, not exceeding . Their hopes must be from your Corporation, which their father has served for fifty years. Who or what are your Leading Members now, I know not. Is there any, to whom without impertinence, you can represent the true circumstances of the family? You cannot say good enough of poor R., and his poor wife. Oblige me and the dead, if you can.
I Have an almost feminine partiality for old china. When I go to see any great house, I inquire for the china-closet, and next for the picture gallery. I cannot defend the order of preference, but by saying, that we have all some taste or other, of too ancient a date to admit of our remembering distinctly that it was an acquired one. I can call to mind the first play, and the first exhibition, that I was taken to; but I am not conscious of a time when china jars and saucers were introduced into my imagination.
I had no repugnance then—why should I now have? — to those little, lawless, azure-tinctured grotesques, that under the notion of men and women, float about, uncircumscribed by any element, in that world before perspective — a china tea-cup.
I like to see my old friends — whom distance cannot diminish — figuring up in the air (so they appear to our optics), yet on terra firma still — for so we must in courtesy interpret that speck of deeper blue, which the decorous artist, to prevent absurdity, has made to spring up beneath their sandals. I love the men with women's faces, and the women, if possible, with still more womanish expressions.
Here is a young and courtly Mandarin, handing tea to a lady from a salver— two miles off. See how distance seems to set off respect! And here the same lady, or another — for likeness is identity on tea-cups — is stepping into a little fairy boat, moored on the hither side of this calm garden river, with a dainty mincing foot, which in a right angle of incidence (as angles go in our world) must infallibly land her in the midst of a flowery mead—a furlong off on the other side of the same strange stream!
Farther on — if far or near can be predicated of their world — see horses, trees, pagodas, dancing the hays.
Here—a cow and rabbit couchant, and co-extensive — so objects show, seen through the lucid atmosphere of fine Cathay.
I was pointing out to my cousin last evening, over our Hyson, (which we are old fashioned enough to drink unmixed still of an afternoon) some of these speciosa miracula upon a set of extraordinary old blue china (a recent purchase) which we were now for the first time using; and could not help remarking, how favourable circumstances had been to us of late years, that we could afford to please the eye sometimes with trifles of this sort—when a passing sentiment seemed to over-shade the brows of my companion. I am quick at detecting these summer clouds in Bridget.
"I wish the good old times would come again," she said, "when we were not quite so rich. I do not mean, that I want to be poor; but there was a middle state ;"—so she was pleased to ramble on, —" in which I am sure we were a great deal happier. A purchase is but a purchase, now that you have money enough and to spare. Formerly it used to be a triumph. When we coveted a cheap luxury (and, O! how much ado I had to get you to consent in those times !) we were used to have a debate two or three days before, and to weigh the for and against, and think what we might spare it out of, and what saving we could hit upon, that should be an equivalent. A thing was worth buying then, when we felt the money that we paid for it.