Imagens das páginas

least to fill the house with decent people from the land of the living? If Strathallan were returned twould make some difference But to carry me down to a desert with no other companions than my little, unformed girl, and her sickening, sentimental governess -Really my dear Floss,” she continued, caressing a little silken haired spaniel that lay at her feet," as I am now situated, you are, I think, the only rational creature I have seen this some time past."

“ Very complimentary,” exclaimed Lord Torrendale, who entered her dressing-room åt the moment her attendant had quitted it, " Yet there are ways, Lady Torrendale, by which a few month's residence in the country might be rendered not only bearable, but productive of the most lasting and wellgrounded satisfaction.”

" What are they my Lord? I should be very glad to know them.”

Have you not your elegant domestic resources, the amusement of books, the cultivation of the society around you, and the pleasures of benevolence?"

Benevolence! you know how many experiments I have tried in that way already. I came down to the country, glowing with the romantic hopes inspired by the fine description given in novels, of rural innocence and sensibility, and for the first days, Miss Langrish and I did nothing but work, and talk of them. We resolved to make petticoats and gowns sufficient for some pretty little children, who had attracted


notice on our first arrival, and who did not appear to me very well clothed.

I anticipated a delicious surprise, on the part of the mother, by stealing to the cottage in her absence, and dressing the little things myself in their new array-But as soon as I took one upon my lap, it began to cry; its sister, a girl, a little older, began to beat it for being so noisy-in the midst of this 'horrid stir' comes the mother herself, all in a heat from her work, and in no very gentle temper towards

strangers, who had disturbed the sweet children.' She started, indeed, as if she had seen a ghost, when she found the disturber was my Ladyship’s Ladyship, and dropping a


low curtsy, begged ten thousand pardons, and made ten millions of apologies. Children would be rude; they did not like strange faces; they did not, poor things,' she continued, soothing the little sobbing urchin on her breast: and, treated as little less than an invader, I found that I had created only confusion and disturbance, where I expected the most lively demonstrations of joy, and the most pathetic expressions of gratitude. Not discouraged with the failure of my first attempt, I resolved to inform myself of the real state of the peasantry, and entered unexpectedly another cottage—it belonged to an old woman. She was in the height of business, washing her house, and altogether so strange and dirty a figure, that if I had not been the most exemplary of women, I could not possibly have refrained from laughing. Instead of which, I made the most condescending enquiries respecting her prospects, her wants, and those of her family. But she would never answer me by any thing but awkward apologies for the appearance of her house, which, she assured me was, in general,

[ocr errors]

the neatest in the village, and the money I slipped into her hand seemed hardly to compensate the mortification of being, as she termed it, caught in such a pickle,' and her * place in such a mess'."

“ These disappointments,” Lady Torrendale,,“ have resulted from ill grounded expectations, and hasty conclusions; and rather prove the propriety of your remaining some time longer in the country, than the necessity of your quitting it. It is not by unexpectedly rushing into the cottages of the


will meet with either welcome or respect; previous good offices must justify the intrusion. When you are better acquainted with them, you will find that sentiment and impassioned gratitude are not their characteristics, particularly in England, Familiarize them to you first by a course of active and useful benevolence, and then, depend upon it, your appearance among them will be hailed, (not, perhaps, with transport) but sufficient testimonies of that solid regard, which generally arises from benefits received, and the expectation of farther advantage.

poor, that

" I am surprised you can think," resumed her Ladyship," that I have taken as yet but little trouble. Did I not put my name at the head of the list of Lady Patronesses for the School upon the new plan? But, I dont know how it is, it requires so much attention, and fuss, and exertion, and you must visit and inspect it yourself; and there is really so much to do at home, one cannot go early, that is, before breakfast time; after breakfast, one must walk : then after walking it is the hour for luncheon, and after luncheon upon the sofà, and

you have to dress for dinner, and, in short

“ In short,” interrupted Lord Torrendale, " Half an hour in the week is too much to bè resolutely devoted to the purpose of benefiting your fellow creatures.”

“ Now you are severe. Then, as to cultivating the society around us, I did patronize the monthly Assembly, when first I came down. On a most disagreeable night, with

my coachinan in drink and the moon in a fog,' “ I sacrificed myself without a murmur for the good of the community. I endeavour

you lie

« AnteriorContinuar »