« VorigeDoorgaan »
The corn-fields on the south side of the town were quite covered with substantial houses ; Barefoot's Parks, where I have had many a retired and pleasant walk, converted into a splendid city; and in the Old Town, many ruinous buildings, the scenes of some of my youthful amusements, now rebuilt with equal solidity and elegance.
“ Nor were these my only grievances. The removal of the Cross, of the Netherbow-port, and of many other encumbrances; in short, every alteration, though evidently for the better, that had taken place since my departure, more or less displeased me. You will more easily account than I can, how it comes to pass that the human mind should be so much set against all innovations of what nature soever. This may, perhaps, insensibly arise from the picture they exhibit of the mutability of every object before us, and a tacit intimation that we ourselves are composed of the same changeable materials, and must soon quit the scene.
“ I will acknowledge, however, that I had the satisfaction to find many places that did not hurt me by any alteration or improvement. Your wynds and closes were nearly in the state I left them; and where, in some parts of the streets, you have got new pavements, the good people who live at the sides of them take care that there shall be no innovation in point of cleanliness. Your Theatre and Concert-Hall are new buildings; but your Assembly-Room, where people of the highest fashion resort, is just as paltry as ever. But as they dance there for the benefit of the poor, I shall forbear any further remarks on it, - Charity covereth a multitude of sins.
“ The High-School*, and its environs, I found unaltered, though the yards appeared to me to be much diminished in their extent. The College, too, remained the same plain, mean, unadorned, build. ing it was half a century ago ; and seemed to me, after having seen the splendid palaces of Oxford and Cambridge, more homely than ever. Though, perhaps, in literature, as in religion, Sister Peg confines herself to substance, without much regard to ornament; yet, methinks, it is rather a reproach to the capital of our country, that, amidst all its improvements, this university, so much celebrated over Europe for the ability of its professors, and the success with which every branch of science is there cultivated, should present to the eye of a stranger, a set of buildings so inconvenient as well as mean. The present period is, perhaps, not very favourable to expensive public designs; but I would have your readers, among whom, I hope, are included all the men of fortune and taste in the kingdom, think of the College, as soon as the pressure of the times will admit. As an individual, from that regard to the honour of the land of my nativity, which, I hope, will never be extinguished, I shall willingly and liberally contribute, whenever this necessary work is determined upon.
* This school, I understand, has been since rebuilt.
“ I will not tire you with my various observations during several excursions I made into different parts of the country; because some of them might, to your readers, appear too trite, and others, perhaps, too trivial. But I cannot omit telling you, that the spirit of industry, so conspicuous in the various manufactures set on foot of late years, and in the improved face of the country, gave birth to many pleasing sensations which are not easily described. Yet I was not much better pleased with some of the fine buildings of the country than with those of the town. In many places, I could not help regretting the Gothic grandeur of ancient castles, displaced by modern showy edifices. Some of their owners, I fancy, are of my mind; for I was informed that their fathers used to reside at the mansions in their former state nine months in the year; but that the present possessors of those elegant houses, are scarcely seen there at all. Nor could I refrain, as I passed along, from dropping a tear over the ruins of our religious houses; which, however they might have been perverted, from the original purposes of their erection, I could not help considering as splendid monuments of the piety of our ancestors. Some of them I saw that had still more tender ties upon my mind. I remembered having played, when a boy, under arches, which time had since mould. ered away,— with companions, the echo of whose voices was still fresh in my memory, though they, alas, as well as those arches, were now crumbled into dust.
“ Were I to go on, I find I should be in danger of growing too serious. Recalling to remembrance days long past, and the juvenile society of those who are now no more, is an awful operation of the human mind; and while it speaks loudly of the truth of St. Paul's observation, that the fashion of this world passeth away,' imperceptibly leads to a train of thinking that might be here out of place, though it is neither unpleasing nor unsuitable to the character of a rational being, who hath been taught and accustomed to consider himself as an immortal part of the creation.
“I am," &c. “London, March 13, 1780.”
No. 95. SATURDAY, APRIL 4, 1780.
66 TO THE AUTHOR OF THE MIRROR.
“ As you have, by several of your publications, given proof that you do not think the occurrences of a domestic life unworthy your attention, I shall, without further preface, address you on a subject full as deserving of it as any yet offered to your consideration. It is now above four years since I became the wife of a gentleman, my equal in rank and fortune; and, what was more material, of a disposition and turn of mind every way suitable to mine. His estate lies at a considerable distance from the capital; but as it is situated in an agreeable neighbourhood, and as we have both a taste for reading, and Mr. B. is not averse to rural employments, we spent our time as happily as possible till about half a
that my ill stars directed me to renew my acquaintance with a young lady, who had been my companion at school, and who now came on a visit to a relation who lived at no great distance from our house.
“ Before I proceed in my story, I must beg a candid consideration of it. From the introduction to the disagreeable part of it, you will be apt to imagine that I am one of those self-tormentors justly ridiculed by the ingenious author of the Jealous Wife. No such thing, Mr. MIRROR; my husband's attention to other women never gave me the slightest uneasiness. Convinced of his attachment, satisfied with his treatment of me, I never expected
him to be blind to the charms of a beautiful woman, or insensible of the merit of an agreeable one; nor had I the mistaken policy of many wives, of never suffering a tolerable female to enter my doors, or of courting the intimacy of some tall elderly maiden, that I might gain by the comparison. No, Sir ; I depended wholly upon my unremitting attention to please Mr. B. for the continuance of his attachment. Nor can I in the least reproach myself with giving cause for the abatement I too plainly perceive in it. But to return to my story. I was much pleased at seeing my old school-fellow : we had been parted many years, and I found the wild lively romp improved into an elegant woman. She still, however, retained a good deal of the heedless manner that marked her childish days; and, though she has an excellent understanding, she never seemed to make use of it in the regulation of her conduct or behaviour. She expressed herself much pleased at finding me so happily settled : Mr. B. appeared to her a most amiable man, and my children, particularly my little Bess, she said were angels. Her attention to them, I own, endeared me to her very much ; though indeed, Mr. MIRROR, no one can help loving them, for they are charming children. Her good-humoured, playful, ways made the little creatures dote on her. At my return from walking, I have frequently found her on her knees on the floor, building card-houses for their entertainment. Mr. B. has observed to me, on those occasions, how amiable it was in a young admired woman, who spent her life in the usual round of folly and dissipation, to preserve such natural and right feelings. He generally concluded his observations with saying, that he believed she would make a most excellent wife. I for a long time agreed with him in opinion, and used to tell her