« AnteriorContinua »
ship, Mrs Fidget :-what! not stay when my mother so earnestly presses it ! not stay, when she deelares your going will mortify my worthy father! No, nothing would stop them; away they went;
not, however, indeed, without sundry promises on their part soon to call again, and divers most earnest entreaties on my mother's, on no account to forget it.
They were scarce got out of the front door before my father entered : Are they really all gone at last ?' says he, * I thought they would have staid till doomsday :—Who, in the world, were they all ?-O dear,' says my mother, why Mrs Fidget and all her tribe; girls and boy, and two pugdogs.' - Thank my stars, I escaped them,' says my father. Thinks-1-to-myself
, great symptoms of mortification my dear father shows at having had the misfortune to miss seeing them ! I declare,' says my mother, it is abominable to break in upon one in this manner :-it was impossible to entertain such a group ; so while Mrs Fidget and I were in conversation, her young people and the dogs had nothing to do but to tease the bird, and dirty the furniture ; that little monkey of a boy is always in mischief ;-I could freely have boxed his ears; I thought he would have killed my poor bird ;-I was in the midst of a letter to Caroline, and now it's too late for the post ;-how Mrs Fidget can spend all her time in visiting and walking about in the manner she does, I cannot conceive:--I am to take it as a great and singular favour, she tells me, as she always does every time she comes, thinking, I suppose, that I don't know she is never at home, I think she'll lose that boy ;-I never saw such a púny sickly child in my life!--Thinks«I-to-myself, poor Mrs Fidget :-fine stout boy of its age. !
My father, with a great deal of good breeding in general, was a plain blunt man in the mode of expressing his sentiménts ; so that my mother had scarcely finished what she had to say, but my father burst out-Tiresome woman,' says he, she ought to be confined ;-she's always wandering about with a tribe of children and dogs at her heels :there's poor Mrs Creepmouse is quite ill from her visits ; you know what a nervous créature she is. My father would have gone on ever so long, probably in this strain, bad not the servant entered with a note ; which
my mother immediately opened, and read aloud; the contents being to the following effect :-Mr and Mrs Meekin present their compliments to Mr and Mrs Dermont, and shall be extremely
happy to have the honour of their company to dinner on Saturday next at five o'clock.' Thinks-I-to-myself, how civil, how polite, and obliging !—The servant was ordered to withdraw, and tell the messenger to wait.--As soon as he was gone, Good God!' says my father, these people will never let us alone ;-surely we dined there last : '--my mother thought not ;—my father thought they were for ever dining there ;—my mother convinced him by a reference to her pocket-book, that Mr and Mrs Meekin were quite right as to the balance of debtor and creditor;— Well, only take care,' says my father, ‘that we do not get into a habit of dining there above once or twice a year at the utmost ;-it is really too great a sacrifice.'—What, do you mean to go, then ?' says my mother. "Go,' says my father, 'why I suppose we must.'
I wish they were further,' says my dear mother ;- I wish they were at Jericho,' says my dear father :- I had rather do any thing than go on Saturday,' says my mother :-'I had rather be hanged than ever go' says my father, it is such an intolerable bore: '- Well, says my mother, but the servant's waiting.'--So she took the pen, and away she wrote two or three lines in a moment:- There,' says she to my father, - will that do?'Thinks-I-to-myself, short and sharp probably !-My father, happily for me, read it aloud :— Mr and Mrs Dermont return their compliments to Mr and Mrs Meekin, and will wait upon them with the greatest pleasure on Saturday to dinner.'-- Thinks-I-to-myself, well done my sweet-tempered mamma ! how mild and how forgiving ! but my father sur. prised me most; instead of throwing it into the fire as I expected, he declared it would not only do, but do vastly well: ---he therefore sealed it himself, rang the bell, gave it to the servant, and desired that they would give their best compliments :—' And mind,' says he, you ask the servant how they all do; be sure you make him understand.'--Thinks1-to-myself, what heavenly mindedness! what christian charity!
I expected the servant every moment to return with an account of our friends' health ; but no such thing; my father and mother seemed to have quite forgot they had made the inquiry. I ventured to remind them of the servant's néglect. * Ah!' says my father, my boy, you don't know the world.'
SAMUEL RICHARDSON is an extraordinary male writer. Had he belonged to the other sex, there would have been little puzzle about his characterwe could have set him down as a clever gossip; but as it stands, he is quite an anomaly in literature, and must for ever excite our wonder how a gentleman with a wife and family-a gentleman in a brown coat and top-boots-could possibly write such interesting womanish works as Clarissa Harlowe, and Pamela
PAMELA was his first work, and it was the first novel ne ever read. We remember we were more schoolboys when our grandmother was persuaded by un intolerable bore to take it out in numbers. She (good woman) was no novela reader-she would not have read one for the world, but how could she ever imagine that a book was one which borę such a title as Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded : In a series of familiar Letters from a beautiful young Damsel to her Parents : Published in order to cultivate the principles of Virtue and Religion in the minds of the Youth of both sextés : A narrative which has its foundation in truth; and, at the same time that it agreeably entertains, by a variety of curious and affecting incidents, is entirely divested of all those images which, in too many pieces calculated for amusement
* Richardson was born in Derbyshire, in 1689, and was for many years a respectable printer in London, to which business he served an apprenticeship. He died in 1761, leaving a considerable fortune, and the character of a plain, industrious,' good man. His Pamela was públished in 1741-2;-Clarissa Harłowe in 1761 ;-and Charles Grandison in 1754.
only, tend to inflame the minds they should instruct : By Mr Samuel Richardson.”-She believed every word of it, as she did her Bible: and in the winter evenings, after tea, when the household was assembled, she would read aloud to the listening family, page after page, with the most supreme satisfaction-snuffing and commenting at every paragraph --and never stopping short, except when she lighted upon some thrilling passage of the bewitching author, where her voice would fail her, and her lip would quiver, and she could not go on for very fulņess of heart. On these evenings, seated on our little stool, at her feet, how we drank every word that fell from her lips !—And then, in the mornings, we would be up long before the family, gorging the overnight's fragments, until we became lost to every thing else our sports as well as our lessons—and went dreaming about all day long of Mrs Jervis, and Mrs Jewkes, and Lady Davers, and Sir Jacob Swynford, and Miss Darnford, and Lord H., and Polly, and old Jonathan, and Colbrand, and the whole family down to the scullion.
It will not be expected, therefore, that we speak otherwise than favourably of our first love'-of the book which has given a bent to all our future studies, --and indeed we still recur to its pages with delight, heightened by the recollections of memory,--yet, in reasonable moments, we see its imperfections as others do, and are, in particular, not insensible to the prominent fault of holding her up as a pattern
of virtue, who was ready to unite herself to a notorious rake, that had made a series of mean attempts upon her honour, provided the union was in a legal way. Richardson lost himself by attempting too much. In his endeavours to heighten the character of Pamela, he makes her unnatural; and the same may be said of his Sir Charles Grandison, 'that prince of coxcombs.' He thought it was best to make his amiable characters superlatively good, as those who might follow them were more likely to go farther in their imitation than if the cha
racters were merely amiable-just as a marksman, by aiming at the stars, would be more likely to shoot higher than if his aim were less ambitious; but he should have considered that, by placing the mark beyond our reach, the attempt to gain
it would never be made that, as an archer would never ?? think of making a star his popinjaý, neither would we think te of making Sir Charles our pattern. Sir Charles cannot be * imitated, because he goes beyond any thing in human nature, i and he cannot be loved for the same reason.
The praises, indeed, which the author unceasingly lavishes upon him be
come loathsome :-we can scarcely read a page without being I teased with the never-ending strain of laudation. In looking
over a single volume out of a seven-volume copy, we find
such exclamations as these :-Wonderful man'_ Noblea minded man' - The best of men'—What a man is this? Is The best of men' (again)—Excellent man — A good man' F
- The dear man'-The loveliest and the most undaunted, yet noblest looking of youths'_ Excellent Sir Charles Grandison' — The tender husband' The domestic man, the
cheerful friend, the kind master, the enlivening companion, o the polite neighbour'— The most delicate-minded of men'
The most just, the most generous of men'— The dearest, best of men'-—- Dearest of men'— The good man'— The best of men and of husbands'-— Such a man'-The gen erous man'— The life of every company and of every individual - The dear man'The next to divine' man' • Tenderest of husbands, kindest and most considerate of men'— The penetrating man'- The politest of men'
The best of husbands'-_ The soul of us all. The most dutiful of sons, the most affectionate of brothers, the most faithful of friends.'. -But these are not quite so distasteful as other expressions which we find in the same volume, some of which border upon blasphemy :- Charming behaviouro -All condescension'
- Cheerful goodness' - How did he shine' — Every person in raptures' — Unaffected dignity'