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as an old housekeeper loves to gather together and to store up.
Women,' says Mr. Hilyard, are the historians, as they are the guardians of the household.
These,' said the Earl, • are the ladies' collections. My own mother '—his face darkened when he spoke of his mother (at which I wonder not)— hath added nothing ; but my grandmother and her predecessors have all contributed something of their finery to make this collection the better. Great pity it is when a family lets all be scattered abroad and lost.'
Then we were shown the cabinets, where were locked up the trinkets, ornaments, and things in gold. Here were rings of all kinds —some old and rudely set, but with large stones; some with posies and devices; some with coats of arms; some with stories belonging to them and some without. Also there were bracelets of all kinds—of plain beaten gold, of chains in gold, of rings, of serpents; of Saracen, Turkish, Indian, Venetian, and Florentine work; also necklaces of silver and of gold-plain and set with
emeralds, diamonds, rubies, opal, sapphires, and all other precious stones, egrets, étuis, and chains of all kinds, even the thin and delicate chain of pure soft gold from Indiaone never saw so brave a show. Then there were miniatures in gold frames set with pearls, of the Radcliffe ladies, including my own great-grandmother, the heiress of Blanchland. A comely and beautiful race they were. Next there were snuff-boxes collected by the late Earl, who died in the year 1705. There were dozens of these, mostly with lids beautifully painted, but the pictures such as please not a woman's eye, being like those on the walls, of half-dressed nymphs and shepherdesses. Dear me! A man who wants to take snuff can surely take it quite as well out of a tin or brass snuff-box, such as our gentlemen use, as out of a box with a heathen goddess sprawling outside, dressed as heathen goddesses were accustomed to dress.
It is,' said Mr. Hilyard once, talking the nonsense that even learned men sometimes permit themselves — it is an excuse for painting the ideal, model, and fountain of
beauty. It has been held that from Venusnamely feminine beauty—are born not only the train of Loves, petulant and wanton, but also the nine Muses, who are, in fact, Poetry, Music, Dancing, Acting, Gallantry, Courtesy, Politeness, Courtship, and Intrigue, and not Thalia and her sisters at all, unless they can be proved to have those attributes.'
This foolish talk I refused to hear. Did ever a woman wish to see represented the stalwart form and sturdy calves of her lover ? How, then, did we get our love for poetry, dancing, and the rest of it, including coquetry ?
I cannot tell all that was in this cabinet of wonders. But in the lowest drawers there lay-fans! Oh, Heaven! Fans! I never knew before that there were in the whole wide world so many fans. They were all painted, and some of them most beautifully. There were fans with flowers on them, so life-like that you stooped to breathe the perfume of the rose or the mignonette ; there were fans with rustic scenes-swains and shepherdesses dancing round a maypole.
"Do they dance so in France, my lord ?' I asked.
“Nay,' he replied gravely. “They dance, indeed, but it is to forget the terrors of tomorrow, and to rejoice over the certainty of to-day's dinner. There is laughter, but not much joy, in the peasant's dance.'
So I laid that down, and took up another. Upon it was the tale of the Sirens and Ulysses. Oh! I knew the story, and wonderful it was to see the oarsmen rowing silent and careless, neither seeing nor hearing, while Ulysses, bound to the mast, strained forward to catch the music, after which he would fain have followed like a slave if he could. It was a moral piece, and I looked at it with adıniration. The next-but I cannot run through them all—was the Judgment of Paris—the shepherd, a very noble youth, with something of the look of my lord upon him; while as for the goddesses, not one of them, to my thinking, deserved an apple so much asbut we may not judge, and it seemed to please his lordship. Then there were more swains and shepherdesses, very sweet and pretty, with grass like velvet, and dresses (though they had been tending sheep) as clean and neat as if just out of the band-box.
Ah! if one could find such a country,' I said, one would willingly turn milkmaid.'
* And I,' said my lord, would even be turned into a shepherd to be companion to such a milkmaid.'
Then there was a fan of Pierrot, Harlequin, and Columbine. It brought your heart into your mouth only to see such merry, careless faces, as if there were no such thing as trouble, or anxiety, or exiled princes, or rival churches, or wicked people, and all that one had to do was to tell stories continually, laugh, dance, sing, and make merry. I never saw before such happiness depicted on simple white silk. It made me think, somehow, of Mr. Hilyard in the evening. After this fan, I cared little about the rest, though the parting of Achilles and Briseis was sad, and the death of Cleopatra tragic.
Now,' said my lord, smiling kindly, as was his wont when he was doing something generous— now that you have seen our pretty things, remember that you have not received my étrenne. Will it please you make a choice ?'