Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

a preventative to the errors by which I have been undone, you may do good to thousands.

I
am,
&c.

LORENZO.
H

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

No. LXVIII. SATURDAY, JANUARY 1, 1780.

I can make speeches in the Senate too, Nacky.

OTWAY.

ONE morning, during my late visit to Mr. Umphraville, as that gentleman, his sister, and I, were sitting at breakfast, my old friend John came , in, and delivered a sealed card to his master. After. putting on his spectacles, and reading it with atten, tion, “Ay," said Umphraville, “ this is one of your “ modern improvements. I remember the time " when one neighbour could have gone to dine with 66 another without any fuss or ceremony ; but now, 4 forsooth, you must announce your intention so “ many days before ; and, by and by, I suppose, the 66 intercourse between two country gentlemen will. 6 be carried on with the same stiffness of ceremonial " that prevails among your little German princes... 56 Sister, you must prepare a feast on Thursdayl; “ Colonel Plum says he intends to have the honoura as of waiting on us. « Brother,” replied Miss Umpbraville, you know we don't deal in giving feasts; 5 but if colonel Plum can dine on a plain dinner, * without his foreign dishes and French sauces, I. s can promise him a bit of good mutton, and hearty « welcome.”

On the day appointed Colonel Plum arrived, and along with him the gay, the sprightly Sir Bobby Button, who had posted down to the country to enjoy two days shooting at Colonel Plum's, where he arrived just as that gentleman was setting out for Mr. Umphraville's. Sir Bobby always easy, and who in every society is the same, protested against the Colonel's putting off his visit, and declared he would be happy to attend him.

Though I had but little knowledge of Sir Bobby, I was perfectly acquainted with his character; but to Umphraville he was altogether unknown, and I promised myself some amusement from the contrast of two persons' so opposite in sentiments, in manner, and in opinions. When he was presented, I observed Umphraville somewhat shocked with his dress and figure; in both which it must be owned, he resembled a monkey of a larger size. Sir Bobby, however, did not allow him much time to contem, plate his external appearance ; for he immediately, without any preparation or apology, began to attack the old gentleman on the bad taste of his house, and of every thing about it. “ Why the devil,” said he, "don't you enlarge your windows, and cut down "those damned hedges and trees that spoil your “ lawn so miserably? If you would allow me, I u would undertake, in a week's time, to give you a 6.elever place. This is for all the world just such "a chateau as my friend Lord .......... (you know “Lord .........., the finest fellow on earth) succeed" ed to last year by the death of an uncle, a queer " old prig, who had lived locked up in his castle for “ half a century is.... he died damned rich though; " and as soon as Lord ........., knew for certain that « his breath was out, he and I went down to take

possession ; and in a strange condition to be sure,

we found things, but in less than a month, we “ turned all topsy-turvy, and it is now in the way of

[ocr errors]

á being as fine a place as any in England." To this Umphraville made no answer; and indeed the ba. ronet was so fond of hearing himself talk, and chattered away at such a rate, that he neither seemed to desire nor to expect an answer.

On Miss Umphraville's coming in, he addressed himself to her; and, after displaying his dress, and explaining some particulars with regard to it, he began to entertain her with an account of the gallantries in which he had been engaged the preceding winter in London. He talked as if no woman could resist his persuasive address and elegant figure ....as if London were one great seraglio, and he himself the mighty master of it. This topic he was so fond of, that he enlarged upon it after Miss Umphraville had retired, and used a grossiereté of expression in his descriptions which, of late, has been very much affected by our fine gentlemen ; but which shocked Umphraville, to whom it was altogether new, ånd who has ever entertained the highest veneration for the sex.

To put an end to this conversation, Colonel Plum, who seemed to be tired of it, as we were, mentioned the very singular situation this country was in when the combined fleets of France and Spain lay off Plymouth; and took occasion to observe, that, if our fleet should be vanquishedą if our wooden walls should fail us, he was afraid our country, thus laid open to the invasion of those hostile powers could not easily resist their force. Umphraville entertained a very different opinion. He said, that a naval force might perhaps be necessary to maintain and defend an extensive foreign commerce but he did not see, how it was at all connected with the internal defence of a state, or why a nation might not be respectable, both at home and abroad, without any great fleet? +66 Were the English,said he, “ indebted to their wooden walls for the victory of

[ocr errors]

“ Cressy, of Poictiers, and of Agincourt? Was it 66 by a naval force that the great Gustavuş was en46abled to take so decisive a part in the affairs, of "Europe, and to render the power of Sweden so $ respectable :: Is it by ships that the brave Swiss vi have defended their liberties for so many ages ? 6. What fleets, did our own country possess, while

she boldly maintained her independence, for so 54 many centuries, against the constant and unrebf mitted attacks of England ? Did we possess a sin5gle ship of forcę, when the gallant Bruce almost kannihilated the power of England on the field of $ Bannockburn? Believe me, gentlemen, continued he: it is not an easy matter to subdue a free 4 people fighting for their country. In such a cause hievery man would stand forth. Old as I am, I 6 would not hesitate a moment to draw. my

sword Ah against our foes, should they ever be desperate 16 enough to make an attempt on these islands." !" You may, if you please," said Sir Bobby (who seemed to be awed into silence, by the elevated tone Umphraville had assumed), but I'll be

cursed if I would, Damn it, what does it signify? 16 If the French were to conquer us, I don't think it we could lose much by it: and, in some respects - we should gain. We should drink better Bur.

gündy; and we should have cloaths fit for a gen66tleman to wear, without running the risque of b« their being seized by these damned locusts, of 64 custom-house officers....I should not like, though,

* to lose my seat in the House. If the French leave [6 us that, they may come again when they please

for me."...Umphraville, who had not the most *distanticonception of his being in parliainent, asked

Sir Bobby gravely, what seat, what house he meant? 114 Why, damn it, our House, the House of Com8 mons, to be sure ;....there is no living out of par

liament now, it is the ton for a gentleman to be

[ocr errors]

« in it, and it is the pleasantest thing in the world: 66 There are Jack ........, Dick ...is, Lord toodeteng " and I, are always together. At first, we used to “tire confoundedly of their late nights and long “ debates, but now the minister is so obliging as to “ tell us when he thinks the question will be put, " and away we go to dinner, to the opera, or some. “ where, and contrive to return just in time to “ vote, or as Lord ...... calls it, to be in at the « death."

Hitherto Umphraville's countenance had discovered no emotion but that of contempt; now he could not conceal his astonishment and indignation." Recollecting himself, however, he asked the Baronet, if he never thought of his constituents, and of the purposes for which they sent him to parliament? ...." As to that,” said he, “ there is no man soat- tentive to his constituents as I am. I spend some “ months among them every summer, where I “ keep open house for the savages, and make love “ to their wives and daughters. Besides, I am al

ways making presents to the women of some little o fashionable trinket. The last time I came from

London I brought down a parcel of spring garters, " that cost me thirty shillings a pairy by Gad; “ which I distributed among them, taking care, at “ the same time, to tell each of them, that nothing “ shewed a fine ankle to such advantage as a spring “ garter.”

In the evening, after our visitors had left us; I found Umphraville sitting in his elbow-chair, in a graver mood than usual.

“ I am thinking, my a friend,” said he, “ of the strange times we live in. “ You know I am not much of a politician ; and, os living retired as I do, abstracted from the world, “ I have little access to be acquainted with the 6 springs that move the wheels of government, or " the causes of national prosperity or adversity.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »