« VorigeDoorgaan »
with that liberal welcome, which their friends, of both sexes, always find to his house, and to his plenteous and epicurean table. Living thus totally among the shades, her mind has nurtured, beneath their umbrage, the high-strung propensities of a warm heart, and vivid imagination. She reads a great deal; but I should suppose chiefly writings of fancy. Ingenuous, disposed to think the best of everybody, she shapes her favourites, of both sexes, into the resemblance of all she has read of refined, amiable, and exalted. Hence, where others would esteem, Mrs G venerates; where others would admire, Mrs G worships. Heroes have ever been her idols; but the house of a country gentleman is not the place where heroes are often found. The gallantry of her brother-in-law, Captain G 's conduct, the honourable mention made of it in the public prints, and in the world, had prepared the lovely devotee to glory, to deify him in her imagination, whom it had pictured a Caesar, an Alexander. But, from the native unvarnished plainness of his person, character, and manners, he neither desired nor understood what it was to be idolized by a fine young lady, on the score of that tried valour, which, whatever high reputation it had obtained, his homest heart, a stranger to self-valuing
presumption, considered not as constituting any claim to marked distinction. He was, in all likelihood, unaccustomed to receive it from the fair ones of our sex, in these anti-chivalry times, in which an elegant cold-hearted lounger of fashion excites attentions they would not dream of bestowing upon the brave veteran, who had not been accustomed to entwine the myrtle with his laurels.
Before I had ever seen this gentleman, Mrs G 's letters had in such sortmentioned him, as, in spite of my consciousness of the leaf-gold she is wont to spread over her favourite characters, taught me to expect attractions dangerous to the peace of a young woman married to her grandfather. Nor was I sorry to find the fair enthusiast complaining that her exalted brother, as she called him, repaid her revering affection with cold neglect.
You will conclude me not a little internally diverted, when I beheld in this fancied Alexander, a somewhat coarsely, large, and hard-featured man, looking older, though he was not older than his brother,
“Full of odd oaths, and bearded like a pard.”
I was, however, comforted by the non-existence of that graceful dignity of form and address, which
possessed, might have exhibited a formidable contrast to the sub-acids of our grandfather. Still more was I diverted to see the lady, fast bound in the spells of her hero-partialities, sit gazing at the honest veteran, like a Catholic pilgrim upon her favourite saint, fixing upon him her solicitous dewy eyes, that seemed fearful of offending the majesty of super-human excellence by the intenseness of their homage. The good Captain knew not what to make of all this admiring veneration; but he constantly addressed her with jesting familiarity, which, though kind, she took for want of respect; yet seemed she rather pensively humbled than offended by the freedoms, not much calculated to the meridian of super-worldly refinement. “Damn it, where's Madam?”—“Here, my noble brother, too much honoured in your inquiry.”—“Well then, zoons! come down stairs; the Concert Room will be full, and the devil a place shall we get.” Now, you must not suppose from all this, that Mrs G is weakly ridiculous. Her manners, her language, though entirely unique in these days, become her infinitely. There is a certain naiveté in her elevations, which preserve them from appearing fustian. She tastes the beauties of every thing she reads with discriminating fervour. Her observations often discover powers of mind much above the level of the many who ridicule that singularity, which has been the result of seclusion, want of knowledge of the world, and of judging of mankind from the representations of the bard and the novelist. If her friends possess any one good quality, or pleasing accomplishment, she assimilates their whole mind and manners to her high standard of visionary excellence. Walking with her caro sposo in his gardens, in our first acquaintance, we beheld the graceful mistress of the domain approaching us, with a group of her favourites of both sexes.—“O ! damn it,” exclaimed sub-acid, “here comes my wife and her angels.” He perfectly understands her character, is diverted with the altitudes of his lovely Quixotte, and has the good sense to smile at what would furrow, with jealous frowns, the brow of a less dis cerning Being. So much for Mr and Mrs G Every harmonic meeting I attend leads me to ponder with new astonishment, the universal affectation of musical feeling, while the audience evince so little of its reality. How often do we perceive them either not listening at all, or with the most languid attention, to the sublimest compositions, both vocal and instrumental; to which, when a trifling ballad has succeeded, its notes have been imbibed with eager transport, and dismissed with vollies of applause. A great master takes a common country-dance as the subject of his solo, and forms, upon that worthless ground, the most elegant embroidery that florid and inventive fancy, united to consummate taste, can produce. Strange it is, to observe no general transport expressed during those daring efforts of ingenuity, while his return to Malbrook, or “Come, haste to the wedding,” has been hailed with the glance of delight from a thousand eyes. By the same prevalence of bad taste, have I seen a London audience neglect the delicate and pathetic songs of the late Miss Linly, when the more powerful, but coarser and inexpressive tones of the then Miss Philips, now Mrs Crouch, were received with the loudest manual acclamation. I have, therefore, my doubts, whether Mrs Smith, whose voice is of such transcendent sweetness, who melts her liquid notes into each other with such charming flexibility, wanting the power to make a great noise, could ever be a popular public singer. But her father will never venture to launch her timid bark upon the capricious tides of metropolitan favour.