Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

narrow avenues.

look a little odd, and now and then tempt one to smile, yet the most eccentric of them all have something venerable about them.

Some of my friend's peculiarities may not only be discovered in his manner and his discourse, but may be traced in his house and furniture, his garden and grounds. In his house are large rooms lighted by small Gothic windows, and accessible only by dark narrow stair-cases; they are fitted up with old arras, and have ceilings loaded with the massy compartments of the last age, where the heads of bearded sages and laurelled

emperors look grim and terrible through the cobwebs that surround them. In his grounds you find stiff, rectangular walks, and straight In his garden the yews

and hollies still retain their primeval figures ; lions and unicorns guard the corners of his parterres, and a spread-eagle, of a remarkable growth, has his wings Clipped, and his talons pared, the first Monday of every month during spring and summer.

The contempt in which, to a somewhat unreasonable degree, he holds modern refinement, has led him to continue these antiquated particulars about him. The India-paper of some of his fashionable neighbours' drawing-rooms, has enhanced the value of his arras ; his dusky Gothic windows have been contrasted to great advantage, with their Bows and Ve. netians; their open lawns have driven him to the gloom of his avenues ; and the zig-zag twist of their walks has endeared to him the long, dull line of his hedged terraces. As he holds, however, some good old political tenets, and thinks, as I have often heard him express himself, that every country can afford a king for itself, he had almost submitted to the modern plan of gardening a few years ago, on being put in mind, that the fashion of hedges and ter. races was brought in by King William.

But, exclusive of all those motives, on which his sister and I sometimes rally him, my friend, from the warmth of his heart, and the sensibility of his feelings, has a strong attachment to all the ancient occupiers of his house and grounds, whether they be of the human or the brute, the animate or inanimate creation. His tenants are, mostly, coeval with himself; his servants have been either in his family, or on his estate, from their infancy; an old pointer, and an old house-dog, generally meet him in the lobby; and there is a flea-bitten horse, who, for several years has been past riding, to whom he has devoted the grass of his orchard, and a manger of good hay during the severity of winter. A withered stump, which, I observed, greatly incommoded the entry to his house, he would not suffer to be cut down, because it had the names of himself and some of his school companions cyphered on its bark; and a divorce from his leathern elbow-chair, patched and tattered as it is, would, I am persuaded, be one of the most serious calamities that could befal him.

This feeling will be easily understood by those in whom the business or the pleasure of the world has not extinguished it. That sort of relation which we own to every object we have long been acquainted with, is one of those natural propensities the mind will always experience, if it has not lost this connection by the variety of its engagements, or the bustle of its pursuits. There is a silent chronicle of past hours in the inanimate things amidst which they have been spent, that gives us back the affections, the regrets, the sentiments of our former days; that gives us back their joys without tumult, their griefs without poignancy, and produces equally from both a pensive pleasure, which men who have retired from the world, like Umphraville, or whom particular circumstances have somewhat estranged from it, will be

ment.

peculiarly fond of indulging. Above all others, those objects which recal the years of our childhood, will have this tender effect upon the heart: they present to us afresh the blissful illusions of life, when Gaiety was on the wing undamped by Care, and Hope smiled before us unchecked by Disappoint

The distance of the scene adds to our idea of its felicity, and increases the tenderness of its recollection; 'tis like the view of a landscape by moonshine ; the distinctness of object is lost, but a mellow kind of dimness softens and unites the whole.

From the same sort of feeling has the idea of Home its attraction. For, though one's interest there will undoubtedly be heightened by the relation to persons, yet there is, exclusive of that connection altogether, a certain attachment to place and things, by which the town, the house, the room in which we live, have a powerful influence over us. He must be a very dull, or a very dissipated man, who, after a month's absence, can open his own door without emotion, even though he has no relation or friend to welcome him within. For my part, I feel this strongly; and many an evening, when I have shut the door of my little parlour, trimmed the fire, and swept the hearth, I sit down with the feelings of a friend for every chair and table in the room.

There is, perhaps, a degree of melancholy in all this ; the French, who are a lively people, have, Ι I think, no term that answers to our substantive Home; but it is not the melancholy of a sour unsocial being; on the contrary, I believe, there will always be found a tone of benevolence in it both to ourselves and others. ;-I say ourselves, because I hold the sensa: tion of peace and friendship with our own minds to be one of the best preparatives, as well as one of the best rewards, of virtue.

Nor has Nature given us this propensity in vain. From this the principle of patriotism has its earliest source, and some of those ties are formed, which link the inhabitants of less favoured regions to the heaths and mountains of their native land. In cultivated society, this sentiment of Home cherishes the useful virtues of domestic life ; it opposes, to the tumultuous pleasures of dissipation and intemperance, the quiet enjoyments of sobriety, economy, and family affection ; qualities which, though not attractive of much applause or admiration, are equally conducive to the advantage of the individual, and the welfare of the community.

I

No 62. SATURDAY, DECEMBER 11, 1779.

To the AUTHOR of the MIRROR. SIR, When I was in Languedoc, many years ago, I had an invitation to a great entertainment given by the Intendant. The

company was very numerous; and, several foreigners happening to be present, the natives vied with each other in displaying their own importance. The conversation chanced to turn on the campaign of Marshal de Villars against the people of the Cévennes ; and some of the guests were old enough to remember the events of those times.

M. de la Tour le Colombier, my father,' said an old lady, • had connections with many of the most o considerable Calvinists; and, after their defeat, he • generously afforded an asylum to M. Cavalier and • three hundred and sixty-four of his followers. They were concealed among old ruins in a large • forest which lay behind my father's Chateau, and composed part of his domain. None of the servants of the family were let into the secret, excepting one of my own maids, a sensible handy

girl; she and I went every day, and carried pro• visions to the whole band, and we dressed the

wounds of such of them as had been wounded in the action. We did this, day after day, for a

fortnight, or rather, if I remember right, for near • three weeks. Minute circumstances are apt to escape one's memory, after an interval of many

years : but I shall never forget the gratitude of • those poor people, and the ardent thanks which

they bestowed on us when they went away and . dispersed themselves.'

I took the liberty of observing, that the provisions necessary for so many mouths might possibly have been missed in the family, and that this might have led to a discovery. Not at all,' replied she. Feu M. mon Père se piquoit toujours de tenir bonne table, * c'étoit sa maroétte même [my father, who is now

gone, always made a point of living handsomely; that was even his hobby-horse]. But indeed I

recollect,' continued she, that we were once very near being discovered. The wives of some of the fugitives had heard, I know not how, that their • husbands lay concealed near my father's Chateau. • They came and searched, and actually discovered • the lurking-place. Unfortunately they brought

a good many children along with them; and, as

we had no eatables fit for the little creatures, they • began to pule and cry, which might have alarmed • the neighbourhood. It happened that M. Cavalier, the general of the insurgents, had been a

[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »