« VorigeDoorgaan »
A CHAPTER ON COUSINS.
“ Tristius haud illis monstrum ; nec sævior ulla
“Of all the plagues with which mankind is curst
Of all inflictions Cousins are the worst."
Many are the pictures that have been removes, (I would they were removed drawn or painted by poets and others, to the antipodes !)—in all degrees-unof a state of perfect joy and felicity. der all denominations—he-cousins and Some have placed the consummation she-cousins-town cousins and country of happiness in Arcadian scenes, and cousins-young or old-handsome or rural enjoyments—representing the hideous-rich or poor—vary the idea ploughman, the gardener, the as you will—modify it, turn it, divershepherd under the hawthorn, as the sify it, twist it into any shape, form, or “beau ideal” of a happy man ; some fashion-cousins are a generation of have fixed the site of the terrestrial vipers ; and, in my deliberate, sober, Eden in the porches of philosophy, and settled judgment, it would be a and the pursuits of literature and sci- reform almost as valuable as the refor
some have plauted their ima- mation itself -; but I command ginary paradise in the genial climate myself—you would say I was a Marat, and savoury atmosphere of the dinner. were I to finish the sentence. table ; some have placed the “summum I really know of no plan which would bonum” upon the glittering pinnacles go so near to the realization of the of rank and power ; some have main. delightful dream of a paradise upon tained it to consist in wealth, and earth, as a project (if any such can be others, more rationally, in virtue ; but hit upon) for clearing this pretty little from each and all of these views and planet of ours of the race of cousins. opinions I dissent totally. Neither Let me appeal to any body, who, the husbandman, or the sage, or the for the sins of his fathers, or his own, gourmand, or the nabob, or the is cursed with a tribe of these detestcrowned monarch, or even the pro- able relatives, if a hundred thousand prietor of a clear unincumbered con- times a-day be does not devote them science, appears to me to have gained to “auld Hornie.” For my part, if I the summit of sublunary gratification. knew any worse wish, it were heartily There is a bliss above all the blisses at their service, for they lead me such that have ever yet been described or a life as a thief passes on the treadfancied—a happiness as far above all mill. I would be a reasonably happy other happinesses as the flight of the man if my aunts had died maidens, eagle above the fluttering of the butter- and my uncles bachelors. But no! fly. Were I required to name the They were a marrying family; the only condition of mortality which I state of single blessedness had no hold to be justly enviable-to lay my charms for them ; independence no finger on the man whom I reckon the attractions. A rage for matrimony especial favourite of fortune, and the possessed them all; they first exposed possessor of the best gift of heaven- themselves to the shafts of Cupid ; I should reply, without a moment's then they suffered themselves to be led hesitation—the man without a Cousin! by the torch of Hymen. In a word,
I had infinitely rather be “the great they married !-male and female after un-cousined,” than the “great un their kind-all married ;-then came known” himself; for of a certainty the the office of Lucina, who was never sorest plague that sprang out of Pan once unpropitious ; a miscarriage was dora's fatal casket, was the odious in never heard of in any branch of the stitution of cousinship. Cousins may family; as surely as the ninth moon be near relations, and blood relations'; filled her horns, forth came a cousin, but they are undoubtedly neither dear cousin alter cousin—a train of cousins, relations, or “ moral relations.” At all as long as the tail of a comet ; cousins
german every living soul of them. I cousins. The tree is to be judged by would give every farthing I have in the fruit it bears ; and the advantages the world that they were all in Ger- of the country may, in like manner, many.
be estimated by the fact, that it proA grand division of the cousin duces the very worst variety of the species, is that of town cousins and cousin species. Country-cousins are country cousins. Yon suffer from the as migratory as tinkers. Iudeed I foriner more frequently ; but froin the think they are called country-cousins, latter more intensely. You have the becanse they never stay in the countown cousins about you always; but try. And have thy any business to then the torture is mitigated by the town? None whatever. continual infliction. You know when neral motive for what they call their you get up in the inorning that you “trips” to Dublin, is the Zoological GarHave a certain quantity of cousining to dens. A grand characteristic of the go through before the day is over, and tribe is a passion for this establishyou make up your mind to it ; read a
Did you ever hear of a counpage of Seneca, arld a verse to your try.cousin who did not make it a point Jitany, and commit yourself to Provi. to visit the Zoological Gardens once, dence, like a wise man and a Christian. at the very least, every twelvemonth? The evil does not take you by surprise, I can answer for my own rural relaand in unknown shapes, as in the case tives : tl ere are the Jumbletons in of cousins from the country, whom particular, who come up from the there is no foreseeing, and no depre- county Sligo twice a-year, and quarter cating. They dart upon you, when themselves upon me, sometimes for you least dream of such a visitation, three weeks together, for no other oband often from the very points of the ject under heaven but to see those compass whence you least expect such coufounded macaws and monkeye. ill winds to blow. I have a pack of The only thing that comforts me is these relations in the county of Down, the little accidents which occasionally near the Mourne Mountains ; and I happen in exhibitions of wild-beasts. am indebted to them for the motto tu. There is a chance of the keeper, some this article, for they vividly remind time or other, leaving a tiger's cage me of the Harpies. They are of the open :-it is just possible that one of same number, and gender; thrir de- my dear little cousins may one day scents are just as abrupt ; their ap- tumble into the pit with the bears. petites as voracious ; indeed, in almost The newspapers, no doubt, would anevery particular of their character, nounce such an event as “a melancholy they resemble the winged spinsters of occurrence !" the Strophades :
As you may very well suppose, I am
tolerably well acquainted, myself, with “Subitæ horrifico lapsu de montibus adsunt, Diripiuntque dapes.”
the Zoological Gardens.
knows the way to his stable half so Every word in this description hits well. Between the Jumbletons, the them. “ Subitæ :"—they come unin- Honeycombs, and the Pumpkins, if I vited, without giving the slightest had but the slightest bent towards nawarning of their direful intention. tural history, I should be a dangerous “ Horrifico lapsu !”—with horrid stoop rival to Button and Cuvier; for a week -the sts,op of a kite on a pigeon. very seldom passes without a weary · De n.ontibus :"—from the mountains walk or jaunt to this detestable insti. of Mourne. Diripiuntque dapes.”- tution. I must even cicerone Mrs. Iriever saw young women eat so scan Jumbleton, who has been there every Jalously. The eldest I call Celæno; spring and summer since her marriage, and I fancy her, at this moment, with but one intermission ; and then I perched upon a cliff of Sliebh-Donard, had little reason to enjoy my vacation, and meditating one of her almost for she employed the interval in giving monthly pounces upon my house in me another second-cousin, who, I street.
grieve to think of it, will very soon be Country-cousins are the very plagnes commencing his “trips” to the capital, of Egypt. I hate the very thought of and developing his zoological talents. the country on account of my country. The reason why. Mrs. Jumbleton al
ways insists upon my company is her third-cousins, cater-cousins, and Kerrylear that the pelican, who is always cousins ; and I devoutly wish they had strolling about, will “put out her dar. all snug births—(quere, deaths, quoth liny's eyes with his awkward bill.” If the devil,) in Sierra Leone. It is hor. he ever pays my cousin Tommy any rible to think of how many cousins a little attention of this kind, I shall call man may have without the slightest him a duck instead of a pelican, and fault upon his part ; and it is still more bonour bis bill to the day of my death. dreadful to reflect that the aggregate Tommy is perfect master of all the number of cousins in the world is convarious howls, roars, yelps, barks, tinually on the increase. This grunts, growls, screams, chatters, and gard as far the worst consequence of screeches, in the gardens, and as soon the advance of population. There can as we return, the whole hubbub and scarcely be a doubt, but that there are uproar is performed over again. My six or seven millions of the species at neighbours are actually under the im- this present moment in Ireland ! pression that I have a menagerie in Imagine seven millions of cousins !-
Think of any one cousin you are visited And all this I must endure because with, and then multiply the calamity the Jumbletons are my cousius !—for by the enormous number of seven milno other reason under the sun but be- lions ! cause Mr. Jumbleton's mother and There never lived an individual so nine were sisters !
cousined and becousined as I am. There is nothing so “exigeant” as Haud inexpertus loquor.” I have cousinship. Cousins expect to be no froin forty to fifty cousins-german ; and ticed, talked to, visited, invited, recol- second-cousins, in what mathematicians lected, and consulted. You must ne- call an infinite series. Then such ver omit to shake hands with them, cousins ! One of my cousins is a match and my-dear-Dick them. You must for a dozen of any other person's cousins always be at home when they call in Great Britain. You have heard of upon you, whether you happen to be the Fizzlegigs ; and now you shall hear abroad or not. When they are sick, of the Pumpkins. you must never send a servant to I have no peace with the Pumpkins. learn how they have passed the night. There is Mr. Pumpkin and Mrs. as you may do with the dearest friend Pumpkin, and Mr. Pumpkin's father, you have in the world ; as Pylades and Mrs. Pumpkin's aunt. Then there might do with Orestes ; you must go is Miss Pumpkin, and Misses Penelope in person, and you must institute your and Theodosia Pumpkin, and Mr. Peter hypocritical inquiries twice, at least, Pumpkin, and Mr. Anthony Pumpkin, every day,—no matter what distance and moreover a whole nursery full of you have to travel, even though the little Pumpkins of both sexes, the family ihermometer should be down to zero. multiplying at the terrific rate of four The most capricious woman that ever Pumpkins every three years, which but plagued a lover is not so hard to be very little arithmetic will shew you is dealt with as a cousin. A cousin is the fastest rate of increase possible, exalways standing on his consanguinity: cepting the birth of twins,-a method he never forgets for one moment, that I am truly astonished that the fertile your father and his mother were bro- genius of Mrs. Pumpkin has not yet ther and sister. Second-cousins are adopted for more expeditious cousinthe greatest genealogists upon earth. making. Half the pains that one of these The Pumpkins are so determined “ ne'er-do-well's” will take to trace the not to be bumpkins, that they pass stream of his blood up to a common three-fourths of the year in town, and fountain with yours, would discover I need scarcely tell you where they the source of the Niger. It would be board and lodge. It is enough to say, an unspeakable blessing if there were they are country cousins. They come no such things as parish-books, and upin detachments of about half-a-dozen marriage-registers ; it is those odious at a time ; and use my house with as chronicles that enable people to hunt little ceremony as if it was Bilton's out their abominable relationships. hotel. They colour their invasions
There be first-cousins, second-cousins, with a hundred pretexts. Clementina
is to take lessons on the harp ; Pene- in Ireland, and I trust it will be while lope to learn German ; or Bobby and we are with you, for they are people I Mysie to have their teeth put in order long to know, as they are so nearly reby M'Clean. You would form a no- lated to us. I ought to tell you that tion of the interest I take in this pro- my poor little Emily is suffering a great ceeding, were you to see the use the deal with sore eyes, and I shall take little imps incarnate make of their dene her with me to Dublin to get advice. tal machinery at dinner-time. Some- She will not be troublesome, as her maid times Mr. Pumpkin has business in will attend her, and I have promised Smithfield ; sometimes Mrs. Pumpkin to allow her to take Clio, the little has affairs in Grafton Street; and French poodle, up to town to amuse sometimes old Mr. Pumpkin wants a her. May I beg you to tell Mrs. new pair of spectacles. A country Dickory to be very particular about cousin never wants an excuse for com- airing our beds, and to have good fires ing to town; and the Pumpkins are kept in our rooms. Mr. Pumpkin and particularly ingenious ; so much so, in- Tom will, I believe, come up with us deed, that I often take a kind of miser- and remain in town a day or two to able pleasure in endeavouring to con see the cattle show; but you may put jecture upon what plea the next visit, Tom any where
like. Aunt or rather visitation, is to be justified.- Margery begs me to say that she I once thought that every pretext, de- is excessively sorry her rheumatism cent, and indecent, was exhausted, disables her to be of our party to when the next morning's post brought town: she hopes, however, to be well me a letter from Pumpkin Hall, con- enough to spend some weeks with you taining the intelligence that one of the when the weather is milder. Do not, girls had commenced the study of bo- I entreat you, forget my message to tany; that Mrs. Pumpkin was anxious Mrs. Dickory; and believe me my that she should attend a course of lec- dear Frederick, tures at the Dublin Society ; that “Ever your very affectionate cousin, but I had better let the reader have the
“ AURELIA PUMPKIN." document itself, as a sample of the Such are my cousins, the Pumpkins, epistolary style of a country cousin : or such rather is a faint sketch of their
“ Pumpkin Hall, May 17, 183 atrocities. « MY DEAR FREDERICK,– You will I am nobody in my own house ; I have two or three of us, I believe, with am an intruder at my own table ; I you the day after to-morrow ; perhaps can call nothing my own; not a moto-morrow evening, if the day-coach ment of time is at my disposal ; my from Limerick is not full passing cousins cozen me out of every thing; Pumpkin Hall. Penelope has been they eject me from my prescriptive studying botany, and I wish her to place by the fire-side; they usurp my have the advantage of attending lec- arm-chair ; they seize upon my favotures in Dublin : Mr. Pumpkin says rite cut of the leg of mutton; they that I cannot do better than take her never leave me any part of the turkey with me to town for a month or six but the drum-stick! Ay, sir, the drumweeks, or as long as Dr. Litton's course stick, nothing but the drumstick! It lasts; and if you can make room for us, is now five years since I have tasted it would be quite delightful, for you in my own housemat my own know how I abhor hotels. I know the table any part of goose or turkey but Honeycombs have promised you a long the drumstick! visit; but Clementina had a letter yes I love a quiet life, and I might terday from Mrs. Honeycomb, in better live in a whirlpool, the hubbub which she says it will not be in her kept up by my ruthless relations is so power to leave Bumblebee Park for incessant. The knocker is in perpetual some time, as she expects the Switch- motion ; and the hall-door bell' rings leys, and does not exactly know when for ever and ever. “ Is this Mr. Jum. they may arrive. The Switchleys, by bleton's ?”—“ A parcel for Miss Penetheby, are cousins of ours. Mr. lope Pumpkin.”-“A note for Mrs. Switchley's mother was old Mr Jumble- Philip, Honeycomb ;”—“Miss Catheton's half-sister: of course they will rine "Jumbleton's mantua-maker ;"give you a few days while they remain " Mr. Snappington, the attorney, to
meet Mr. Honeycomb by appoint. ever rhapsodizing upon the charms ment;"—“A parrot, and three pair of of a country life, and the misery they guinea-pigs to be kept for Lady endure when“ duty" or "indispensible Cecilia Switchley until sent for ;"--- business” obliges them to come to “A bull-dog for Mr. Thomas Pumpkin, town. So passionately fond are they with particular directions to feed him of rural existence that they pass three regularly, and not to muzzle him." fourths of the calendar year in my Peace, order, regularity, and all the house in Dublin. They never sit quiet decencies of life are unknown in down to my best dinners without a my establishment. All is anarchy and sigh for the rustic fare ther have left chaos. My rooms are filled with lum- behind them at Pumpkin Hall; and ber of all kinds : my own drawers and my fair cousin Penelope, who has actrunks are removed to the hay-lofts to tually not seen a tree, or a blade of make place for my cousins' baggage. grass, for the last seven months, exMy hall is like nothing upon earth but cept in Merrion-square, or Stephen'sa stage-coach-office ; an inextricable green, marvelled the other day with labyrinth of band-boxes, hat-cases, the utmost complacency, how I could port-manteaus, travelling-bags, great- bear to live immured in Dublin, cities coats, Indian-rubber cloaks, and um. were such shocking places, and it was brellas. If I go into my study, I such an unnatural thing to pass one's find Mr. Pumpkin arranging his ac- days in long, ugly rows of dingy brick counts with his agent. I apologize houses, when there were such sweet for the interruption, and betake myself places as groves, and green lanes, and to the dining-room; there I find Mrs. meadows, and gardens. Honeycomb engaging a children's Truly, if country-cousins love the maid." Driven to the drawing-rooms, country, their self-denying spirit canI discover two of the young Jumble- not be too highly lauded. People who tons taking lessons in fencing in one of love town as I do, seldom or never ex
while the horrid notes that bibit our townward propensities by issue from the other but too plainly taking up our abodes a hundred and intimate that young Pumpkin is prac- fifty miles from the Castle. To the tising a sonata upon the German Aute, country, however, I believe I must while one of his fair sisters is doing her ultimately betake myself, for it seems best to improve the din by her efforts to be the only likely way of getting upon the harpsichord. Rushing down rid of one's country cousins. stairs in despair, I meet Dr. Cataract, Let me conclude by imploring the who is come to see “my little cousin" legislature to take the cousin-question with the sore eyes ; and at the next immediately into consideration with a step the servant informs me that a view to the discovery of the means best person waits in the hall to see me upon adapted to reforın what every man of important business ; and this turns out reflection and feeling must perceive to to be the celebrated Mr. M.Rory, pro- be the most crying grievance of the fessor of rhetoric, come to lecture one present day. There might be a law of the young Jumbletons, who is de- to make the claiming of cousinship a signed for the bar, in “the Stentorian transportable offence: or better still to system of elocution, admirably adapted make cousin-killing justifiable homicide. to increase the power of the human A measure of such a nature would be a voice to a tremendous pitch, and second edition of the Bill of Rights. enable a speaker to fill the largest If ever there was a subject where inassembly in the world with tones very stinct, reason, and religion were unani. little inferior in loudness and distinct- mous, it is this. We are commanded, ness to the most apalling thunder!" to love our enemies ; but we read noBut there is nothing enrages me so
where-love your cousins. much as to hear the Pumpkins for