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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 patronizes her. The children's governess
her to correct her, when she has mistaken the piano for harpsichord.
Richard Amlet, Esq., in the play, is a noticeable
instance of the disadvantages, to which this chimerical notion of affinity constituting a claim to an 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
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 1 had with him, when we were rather older boys, and our tallness made us more obnoxious to observation in 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 to the society. The servitor's gown (worse than his
[1 Favell, who left Cambridge because his father was a housepainter there.]
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
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 access 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 about to embark for Portugal. He was among the first who perished before the walls of St Sebastian.
I do not know how, upon a subject which I began with treating half seriously, I should have fallen upon a recital so eminently painful ; but this theme of poor relationship is replete with so much matter for tragic as well as comic asociations, that it is difficult to keep the account distinct without blending. The earliest impressions which I received on this matter, are certainly not attended with anything painful, or very humiliating, in the recalling. At my father's table (no very splendid one) was to be found, every Saturday, the mysterious figure of an aged gentleman, clothed in neat black, of a sad yet comely appear--for my cue was to admire in silence. A particular elbow chair was appropriated to him, which was in no case to be violated. A peculiar sort of sweet pudding, which appeared on no other occasion, distinguished the days of his coming. I used to think him a prodigiously rich man. All I could make out of him was, that he and my father had been schoolfellows a world ago at Lincoln, and that he came from the Mint. The Mint I knew to be a place where all the money was coined—and I thought he was the owner of all that
His deportment was of the essence of gravity; his words few or none; and I was not to make a noise in his presence.
I had little inclination to have done so
money. Awful ideas of the Tower twined themselves about his presence. He seemed above human infirmities and passions. A sort of melancholy grandeur invested him. From some inexplicable doom I fancied him obliged to go about in an eternal suit of mourning ; captive—a stately being, let out of the Tower on Saturdays. Often have I wondered at the temerity of my father, who, in spite of an habitual general respect which we all in common manifested towards him, would venture now and then to stand up against him in some argument, touching their youthful days. The houses of the ancient city of Lincoln are divided (as most of my readers know) between the dwellers on the hill, and in the valley. This marked distinction formed an obvious division between the boys who lived above (however brought together in a common school) and the boys whose paternal residence was on the plain ; a sufficient cause of hostility in the code of these young Grotiuses. My father had been a leading Mountaineer ; and would still maintain the general superiority, in skill and hardihood, of the Above Boys (his own faction) over the Below Boys (so were they called), of which party his contemporary had been a chieftain. Many and hot were the skirmishes on this topic—the only one upon which the old gentleman was ever brought out—and bad blood-bred ; even sometimes almost to the recom