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The following extract is from a clever novel, entitled, Thinks-1-to-Myself, written by DR NARES, Professor of Modern History in the University of Oxford, and published in 1811. Dr Nares is author of another one, entitled, I Says, Says I :-and we are sorry he has not followed out that line of literature, as these works evince considerable knowledge of life and manners, and may be said to constitute a class of their own.
A FRIENDLY VISIT.
One day, when I was sitting quite snug
with my mother, and she was occupied in writing to my sister, who was absent from home, I spied, at the end of the avenue, a group of pedestrians slowly making up to Grumblethorpe Hall, apparently dressed in their best bibs and tuckers for a morning visit: Thinks I-to-myself, here's some agreeable company coming to my dear mamma! how kind it is of her neighbours to call upon her thus, and not leave her to mope away her time by herself, as though she were buried alive ! Not being willing, however, to run any risk of disappointing her, I waited patiently to see whether they were really coming to the Hall, for part of the avenue was the high-way to the village; I kept watching them, therefore, with no small anxiety, for fear they should turn away abruptly, and deceive my expectations; but when I saw them happily advanced beyond the turning to the village, and was therefore certain that they were really coming to see my dear mother, I hastily turned round to her, exclaiming, 'Here's ever so fine people coming, mamma ! thinking to delight her very heart :- People coming,' says she; I hope not!'
Yes, indeed, there are,' says I :-'one, two, three, four ladies, a little boy, and two pug dogs, I declare !'
Bless my soul!' says my mother, how provoking! It is certainly Mrs Fidget and her daughters, and that troublesome child, and now I can't finish my letter to your sister before the post goes! I wish to goodness they would learn to stay at home, and let one have one's time to one's self! Thinks-I-to-myself, my poor mother seems not much to like their coming : I am afraid that Mrs and Miss Fidgets will
meet with rather an unkindly reception ! However, I plainbly saw that there was no stopping of them ;-they got near
er and nearer; the walking was not over clean, and my mother was the neatest woman in the world. Thinks-I-tomyself, the pug-dogs will dirty the room.
At last they arrived ;-the servant ushered them in ;-sure enough it was d's Mrs and Miss Fidgets, and the troublesome child and all!
Mrs Fidget ran up to my mother as though she would have kissed her, so glad did she seem to see her. My mother, (bless her honest soul!) rose from her seat, and greeted them most civilly :- This is very kind, indeed, Mrs Fidget,' says she, and I esteem it a great favour !-I had no idea you could have walked so far; I am delighted to see you !Thinks-I-to-myself, she wishes you all at Old Nick !
-Mrs Fidget assured her she might take it as a particular favour, for she had not done such a thing, she believed, for the last six months; and she could never have attempted it now to visit any body else! Thinks-I-to-myself, then Mrs Fidget, you have lost your labour !— And now,' says shé, how I am to get home again, I am sure I cannot tell, for I really am thoroughly knocked up:'--Thinks-I-to-myself, my dear mother won't like to hear that ;-but I was mistaken; for, turning to Mrs Fidget, she said, with the greatest marks of complacency, that's good hearing for us ; then we shall have the pleasure of your company to dinner ; Mr Dermont will be delighted, when he comes home, to find you all here.'-'0, you are very good,' says Mrs Fidget, but I must return whether I can walk or not, only I fear I must trouble you with a longer visit than may be agreeable. The longer the better,' says my dear mother. Thinks-I-to-myself,that's a
While my mother and Mrs Fidget were engaged in this friendly and complimentary conversation, the Miss Fidgets were lifting up the little boy to a cage in which my mother's favourite canary bird hung, and the boy was sedulously poking his fingers through the wires of the cage, to the great alarm and annoyance of the poor little animal. Thinks-1-to-myself,
my mother will wish you behind the fire présently, young gentleman !—but no such thing !—for just at that moment, she turned round, and seeing how he was occupied, asked, if the cage should be taken down to amuse him: · He is a sweet boy, Mrs Fidget,' says she ; how old is he?' 'Just turned of four,' says Mrs Fidget. Only four,' says my mother, he is a remarkably fine strong boy for that age !' He is indeed a fine child,' says Mrs Fidget, but don't, my dear, do that,' says she, “you frighten the poor bird.'-As the Miss Fidgets were about to put him down, my mother ventured to assure them, that he would do no harm ; • Pretty little fellow,' says she, 'pray let him amuse himself !'
All this while the two pug-dogs were reconnoitring the drawing-room and furniture, jumping upon the sofa continually with their dirty feet, and repeatedly trying to discern (by the application of their pug-noses to our feet and knees) who my mother and myself could be, barking besides in concert at every movement and every strange noise they heard in the passage and hall :-Mrs Fidget sometimes pretending to chide them, and nry mother as carefully pretending to excuse them with her whole heart :-often did I catch her casting, as I thought, a wishful eye on the letter to my sister, which lay unfinished on the table; nay, once even when her attention had been particularly solicited to some extraordinary attitudes into which the little dogs had been severally bidden to put themselves for her express amusement.
But these canine exhibitions were'nothing to the one with which we were afterwards threatened; for my mother's high 'commendations of the little gentleman of four years old, induced his sisters to propose to their mother that he should
let Mrs Dermont hear how well he could spout !'--Thinksl-to-myself, in some confusion, spout what ? where? how?' I soon found, however, that it only meant, that he should entertain us with a specimen of his premature memory and oratorical talents, by speaking a speech. Strong solicitations were accordingly made to little Master, to begin the required display of his rhetorical abilities, but whether it were on account of shyness, or indolence, or sulkiness, or caprice, or, in short, merely that little Master was not in a spouting cae, he betrayed such an obstinate repugnance to the task imposed upon him, that it required all the solicitations of the rest of the party to induce him to make the smallest advances towards the exhibition proposed. Each of his sisters'
went down on her knees to coax 'him, while Mrs Fidget huffed and coaxed, and coaxed and huffed by turns, till she was almost tired of it-now promising such a load of sweetmeats as soon as he got home if he would but begin, and in the same breath threatening the severest application of the rod if he did not instantly comply--at one time kissing him and hugging him, with a • Now, do, my dearest love, be a man and speak your speech ; at another almost shaking his head off his shoulders, with a stupid boy ! how can you be so naughty before company ?' At last, however, upon my mother's tapping the pretty child under the chin, and tak. ing him kindly by the hand, and expressing (Heaven bless her!) the most ardent wish and desire to be indulged, he did condescend to advance into the middle of the room, and was upon the point of beginning, when Mrs Fidget most considerately interposed, to procure him to put his right foot a little forwarder, with the toe more out, and to direct him about the proper motion, that is, the up-lifting and downdropping of his right arm during the performance-one of his sisters, in the mean time, seating herself near to him, for fear of any accidental slip or failure in the young gentleman's miraculous memory.
His first attempt was upon Pope's Universal Prayer, but unfortunately, of the fourth line, he managed constantly to make but one word, and that so odd a one, that the sound but ill atoned for the manifest ignorance of the sense.
Father of all, in every age,
In every clime adored,
Jovajovalord! This was the word, and the only word that could be got out of his mouth, and Thinks-I-to-myself, it would be well if no greater blunders had ever been committed with regard to that insidious line; however, in consequence of this invincible misnomer, the Universal Prayer was laid by, and other pieces successively proposed, till it was at length unanimously determined, that what he shone most in, was King Lear's Address to the Tempest, and this was accordingly fixed upon as his chef-d'oeuvre in the art of oratory. Some preliminaries, however, in this instance, appeared to be necessary. It was not reasonable to suppose young Master could address a storm without some sort of symptoms at least of a real storm.
It was agreed upon therefore, that he should not commence his speech till he heard a rumbling noise proceed from the company present, and we were all desired to bear our part in this fictitious thunder; how we all thundered, I cannot pretend to say, but so it was, that, in due time, by the aid of such noises as we could severally and jointly contribute, the storm began most nobly, when the young orator stepping forward, his eyes and right hand raised, and his right foot protruded, secundum artem, he thus began :
• Blow winds and cack your cheeks.'
Crack your cheeks, my love,' says his sister in great haste and agitation ; What can you mean by cack your cheeks? What's that, pray?' 'Ay, what is that?' says Mrs Fidget; - but I believe, Ma'am,' adds she, turning to my mother,
, I must make his excuses for him ; you must know he cannot be brought yet to pronounce an R, do all' we can, so that he always leaves it quite out as in the case of cack for crack, or he pronounces it exactly like a W. Thinks-I. to-myself, many do the like. We choose speeches for him, therefore,' continues Mrs Fidget, in which there are many R’s, on purpose to conquer the difficulty, if we can ; begin again, my dear,' says she, “and pray remember not to leave out your R R’s:'—So he began afresh:
• Blow winds and cwack your cheeks !
• Cwack,' says Mrs Fidget, why that is almost as bad; try again.
This stop and impediment, however, was fatal to the young orator's progress, and therefore at last, Mrs Fidget being rested, they all proposed to go. Thinks-I-to-myself, now my poor mother will be happy again! but she, good soul, seemed to have got quite fond of them, in consequence of the extraordinary length of their stay--she could not now so easily part with them :-she was sure Mrs Fidget could not be thoroughly rested--the clock had but just struck two: if they would but stay a little longer, my father would be come home from his ride, and he would be greatly mortified to miss seeing them ; but nothing would do: go they must.-Thinks-l-to-myself, now a fig for your friend