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“ false-hearted man as I am ;” upon which, the other day, she threw herself into violent hysterics, and alarmed the whole family and neighbourhood.
To be sure, the bride did send me a favour, which I wore in my hat, openly; and I do not deny but I may have paid her a few compliments, and written some verses upon her, for she is a showy, fine-spoken woman; but for all that, I would not marry her if I were free tomorrow; for, to tell you the truth, I suspect her to be too much of a termagant for me; and besides, John Bull is not given to change.
My wife has another failing, sir. She is fond of every thing that is old, because it is old; and she never will give any reason, except a woman's reason, which, you know, is no reason at all, for any one thing she does. If I presume to hint things might be better after a different fashion, I can get no other answer than “that it is her way —that her grandmother and great-grandmother did so before her; and that it is her maxim never to alter the family management.” I can scarcely stir about my house, it is so filled with heavy lumbering furniture, half of which is worm-eaten, and of no use but to harbour vermin; but cannot persuade herself to part with any of it, she has such a respect for a fine piece of antiquity : "and then,” says she, “old furniture has such a creditable look !” “So it might, my dear,” says I,
“if it were all of a piece; but, you know, we are continually buying new; and when one article does not suit with another, you must be sensible nothing can have a worse effect. For instance, now; this dismal old tapestry, how preposterous it looks along with the Indian natting and painted rout-chairs ! I wish you would let it come down, it is fit for nothing but for the rats to play at hideand-seek behind it.” “I would not have it down, my dear,” says she, "for the world; it is the story of the Spanish Armada, and was done in the glorious days of Queen Bess.” “Then give it a thorough cleaning, at least,” returned I.—“If
you offer to draw a nail,” rejoined she, “there are so many private doors and secret passages made in the wall, you will be blinded with dust and mortar; and, for aught I know, pull an old house over your head.” “Let me, at least, give a brushing to the beards of the old Dons,” replied I.—“A. stroke of the brush would shake them to pieces," insisted my wife; "they are as tender as a cobweb, I tell you, and I positively will not have them meddled with. Nobody, who has any regard for his ancestors, would think of pulling down a venerable set of hangings, made in the glorious days of Queen Elizabeth.” Now I care little when a thing was 'made; the question is, what is it good for? and I know nothing so much useless lumber is good for, but to oblige uś to
keep a great many supernumerary servants, at high wages, to look after it.
I have still another grievance, sir. If you are a married man, you may chance to know, that it is often as much as a man can do to manage his wife; but to manage one's wife and mother too is a task too hard for any mortal.
mortal. Now, my mother, sir, lives with us, and I am sure I have always behaved myself as a dutiful and obedient son; her arm-chair is always set in the best place by the fire; she eats of the best, and drinks of the best; neither do I grudge it her, though the poor children's bellies are often pinched, while she is feasting upon nice bits. But with all this, I have much ado to keep her in good humour. If I stir about a little more briskly than ordinary, my mother has weak nerves, and the noise I make over her head will throw her into fits. If I offer but to dust the books in my study, my mother is afraid some of them should fall upon her head :-indeed, the old lady did get an unlucky blow with one or two of them, which has shaken her not a little. Besides which, she insists, and my wife stands by her in it, that I should consult her in all matters of business; and if I do not, I am cried out against as a graceless atheistical wretch; and a thousand idle reports are raised, that I am going to strip and turn my poor old mother out of doors. Then, my mother is rather particular in her dress; and the children sometimes will be tittering and
making game, when she is displaying some of her old fallals; upon which my wife always insists I should whip them, which I used to do pretty severely, though of late, I confess, I have only hung therod up over the chimney, in terrorem;-on such occasions, my wife never fails to observe, “how becoming it is in one of my mother's age to keep the same fashion in her dress.” This, by the way, is not true, for I remember my mother stuck all over with crosses and embroidery, to her very shoes, with strings of beads and such trumpery; yet she says, as well as my wife, that she never changes any thing.
I am, myself, Mr. Editor, an easy, peaceable, plain-spoken man as any that exists; and am a man of little or no expense for my own gratification: yet so it is, that what with the large establishment of servants which we are obliged to keep, and the continual drains upon my purse to supply my extravagant neighbours, I run out every year, and cannot help having many serious thoughts and melancholy forebodings where all this may end. But I apprehend, the first step ought to be for my wife and I to consult together, and make a reform in the family management wherever there may be occasion. If, therefore, you can persuade her to lay aside her groundless jealousies, and talk a little reason, I shall be highly obliged to you, and am your humble servant,
LETTER ON WATERING-PLACES.
I Am a country gentleman, and enjoy an estate in Northamptonshire, which formerly enabled its possessors to assume some degree of consequence in the country; but which, for several generations, has been growing less, only because it has not grown bigger. I mean, that though I have not yet been obliged to mortgage my land, or fell my timber, its relative value is every day diminishing by the prodigious influx of wealth, real and artificial, which for some time past has been pouring into this kingdom. Hitherto, however, I have found my income equal to my wants. It has enabled me to inhabit a good house in town for four months of the year, and to reside amongst my tenants and neighbours for the remaining eight with credit and hospitality. I am indeed myself so fond of the country, and so averse in my nature to every thing of hurry and bustle, that, if I consulted only my own taste, I should never feel a wish to leave the shelter of my own oaks in the dreariest season of the year; but I looked upon our annual visit to London as a proper compliance