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leges to which gentlemen and ladies may be thought to have entitled themselves by the expence and trouble of a winter's residence in the capital. But there is a provoking, though a civil sort of consequence such people are apt to assume in conversation, which, I think, goes beyond the just prerogative of township, and is a very unfair encroachment oo the natural rights of their friends and relations in the country. They should consider, that though there are certain subjects of ton and fashion, on which they may pronounce ex cathedrá, (if I may be allowed so pedantic a phrase,) yet that, even in the country, the senses of hearing, seeing, tasting, and smelling, may be enjoyed to a certain extent; and that a person may like or dislike a new song, a new lutestring, a French dish, or an Italian perfume, though such person has been unfortunate enough to pass last winter at a hundred miles distance from the metropolis.
On the other hand, it is but fair to inform the ladies and gentlemen of the country, that there is a certain deference which ought to be paid, in those matters, to the enlightened judgment of their friends, who are newly arrived from the seat of information and of knowledge. I have heard a lady in the country, when her cousin from Edinburgh had been very obligingly communicating some extraordinary piece of intelligence, or exhibiting some remarkable piece of dress or finery, cut her short, by saying, with all the coolness in the world, “That is singular
enough, but it is nothing to what I heard from • Miss B---- , with whom I have corresponded 6 ever since she went to London;' or, This is very
pretty, to be sure, but not to be compared to Mrs. •C 's, which she had sent her in a present • from Paris. This sort of brag-playing in conversation I have sometimes heard carried to a very dis
agreeable length, which would be in a great measure prevented, if people were not to be allowed credit for what they may have heard, or have been told, but to take consequence only from what they have seen. If we town-people are to be thus out-wondered on report, there is an end of all order and subordina. tion in the matter. To borrow another allusion from the game above mentioned, I think it is but reasonable, that the wonders of persons from town should take the same precedence of the wonders of the people in the country, that natural cards do of makers.
But it is sometimes from the opposite feeling, from too high an idea of the importance of their town visitors, that the good people of the country are apt to fall into improprieties. It is wonderful to see the confusion into which the appearance of the new-fashioned carriage of a gentleman just arrived from town throws the family, especially the female part of it, of his rural neighbour. Such a peeping from windows, such a running backwards and forwards of bare-headed boys and girls, to fetch their master from the field, and their mistress from the washhouse ! Then, after waiting a long while in the par, lour, which the chambermaid has had but time to put half in order, comes the old lady with some awk. ward apology, followed by a scold to the maid for leaving her rubber or hearth-brush in view of the company. By and by appears the master of the house, with another apology, for appearing before ladies in his farmer's dress. After a long series of common inquiries, a frequent pulling out of watches on the part of the visitors, and two or three messages up stairs from the mistress of the family ; down come the young ladies with their caps awry, their long pins but half stuck in, their hair powdered in patches, and their aprons stiff from the folds. Here follows a second course of the same questions and answers, which being closed by an observation of the late hour from the one side, and some strictures on the shortness of town-visits from the other, the company are suffered to depart, who, it is ten to one, laugh all the way home at the good people who were at such pains to make themselves fit, as they thought, to be been by them. Let these last remember, that there is a style, as it is called, proper to every thing; decency and cleanliness they owe to themselves; an, imitation of the fashionable fineries of the town they owe to nobody; most of these, indeed, are quite preposterous in the country : it is only when people get into crowds that they are at liberty to make fools of themselves.
As I have, in the beginning of this paper, desired the city-emigrants not to carry the town into the country, so I must intreat their country friends not to forget that the others have but lately arrived there. Their relish for draining, ditching, hedging, horse-hoeing, liming, and marling, and such other branches of the fine arts as an afternoon's conversa. tion at a gentleman farmer's frequently runs into, has been a good deal blunted by seven months residence in the region of amusement and dissipation. The like caution will apply to those female orators who occupy the intervals of tea-drinking with dissertations on the cow-house, the dairy, and the poultryyard.
There are some topics which may be introduced, at that season, in which both town and country ladies are qualified to join, though even of them Í would recommend a sparing and moderate use; I mean those little lectures on morality, sometimes known by the name of scandal. In these the town ladies, however, have some advantage, as their sub
jects are often such as may be reckoned fair game, persons of whom the world has a right to talk, and who seem to act as if they wished to be talked of. These notorious offenders against decency and decorum, of which there are always some instances in great towns, may be compared to certain atrocious criminals, whom the law has ordered to be sent, after execution, to Surgeons' Hall: their characters may be dissected at all tea-tables, without any danger of the crime of defamation. But the beauty of a country town or village is rarely so unguarded in her conduct as to give this licence to the tongues of her neighbours, who are, therefore, generally obliged to resort to the whispering of little private anecdotes and family-secrets, which I very much doubt if they be legally entitled to do, at least except in cases of great necessity, as on a rainy Sunday, or where the party consists but of two, who can nei. ther play cribbage, piquet, or backgammon.
Somewhat a-kin to the lovers of detraction are the offence-takers, a species of people I have observed more common in the country than in populous cities. They are deeply versed in the science of precedency, in the etiquette of paying and returning visits, in the ceremonial of drinking healths, and of acknowledge ing bows and curtsies. I have been astonished to find the circle of my acquaintance so circumscribed as I have sometimes experienced, when I have happened to take up my head-quarters at a gentleman's, who could only accompany me to the houses of onehalf of the neighbourhood, having contrived to be totally estranged from the other by neglects of him. self; affronts to his wife, squabbles about dancing at annual balls, or toasts at country-meetings after the second bottle.
This disease of offence-taking is particularly epidemic in some places every seventh year, or sometimes it returns a little sooner by royal proclamation. As this summer may probably be the season of its recurring with violence, I take the present opportunity of warning my readers against the company of the infected ; and even to these a regimen of temper and good-manners may be found a very powerful and salutary alterative. The feelings of an offence-taker are always very disagreeable ; and, as to the external effects of this mental malady, whether it go off in oblique reflections or break out into scurrility and abuse, I need not, I fancy, enlarge on the danger of their consequences. To gentlemen concerned in politics and electioneering, I would particularly observe, that the period of their canvass is not the proper time for indulging any such freedoms in conversation or behaviour. When the contest is deter. mined, the losers have some sort of privilege for railing; the successful candidates, as things go now-a. days, should keep all their foul language for that place to which the suffrages of their constituents are to send them.