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If there be any good thing to be done,
THE season was now so far advanced that it became a matter of necessity to think of moving from Rome, where the malaria would shortly begin its annual visitation. Almost all the society, with the exception of the Ashmont and Graham families, had dispersed, some to Lucca, some to Castellamare, some to Florence, Como, or Pisa. It now became a subject of debate which should be the destiny of the Grahams. Alice was passive. So was Mr. Graham; Julia, therefore, was called upon to decide. Having been absent from England two or three years, she thought she could not do better than conduct her father and sister back to their native land. Graham
Court had, she said, been so long untenanted by them, it was to be feared they would acquire the name of absentees. It was quite wrong to neglect one's own estate for so great a lapse of time; in short, it was so obvious that Graham Court was the only place where they ought to be, that it was astonishing they should have been so long blind to the propriety of going there. The English of this was, that Julia had grown tired of the continental life, and longed to taste again the pleasures of a London season. Graham Court was accordingly made the pretext, and to England it was decided they should immediately go. It was further arranged that they should only remain two or three days in London, and then proceed to the family estate, where their presence was so much needed.
So many travels, diaries, tours, are extant-so well versed is every one in the well-trodden roads between Rome and Calais-that I shall spare my readers all details of how the travellers were annoyed by gibbing horses, delighted by beautiful scenery, plagued with slow bovi in the Appennines, dirty inns planted in enchanting country, cut-throat looking postillions, and squalid beggars; how their thoughts were occasionally occupied, and their alarm excited by fires glimmering in woods which skirted the road; and at dusk how their tempers were ruffled by long stoppages on the road, (when they were particularly anxious to arrive at a given place by day-light,) in order that the postillions of the two carriages might hold interminable
conversations with one another, totally irrelevant to the horses, carriages, roads, or any one thing that postillions may or ought to talk about when they are driving travellers.
I cannot, however, help recording an incident, which gave rise to one of these aforesaid conversations. The postillion of one carriage seeing an unsuspecting hen pecking what she could by the wayside, jumped off his horse without stopping the carriage, and in the twinkling of an eye caught up the hen, stuffed her, bodily, into his hat, which he again clapped on his head, and resumed his seat on horseback with as much agility as he had left it, and trotted up to his companion with a smile of exultation and delight upon his face, screaming to him as soon as he was within hearing, tollisten to his story; and chuckling and laughing at his feat, with all the delight that an Oxford young gentleman, I am told, feels when he has succeeded in wrenching off a knocker from some maiden lady's door, and has deposited it in a trunk, where there are already lying ensconced five hundred relics of the same kind,—all equally precious,-such as gilt-fish, Saracen's-Heads, wooden highlanders, and painted cheeses.
At the end of the usual period for the performance of such a journey as the one described, the travellers arrived at Mr. Graham's house in London. The
season was at its height, for June was just beginning, and the usual madness prevailed. The ladies passed their evenings in the park, their midnights at routs, their mornings at balls. Every one said they had no peace, there was so much to do each night; every one affirmed they longed to get out of town, they had been there since November; but no one staid at home any night in the week; no one thought or dreamt of stirring from London, though their gardens in the country were in the greatest beauty, and the one thing on earth, they to a woman cared about, was a garden. Such is the amazing restraint people are in the habit of imposing upon their inclinations!
It was so long since Alice had been in the turmoil of a London life, that she felt quite bewildered, and soon began to regret the agreeable and quiet routine of society they had enjoyed at Rome. There, the society was limited to twenty people; here she found herself surrounded by five hundred dear friends and near relations, engaged ten deep to dinners, water parties, rides to Dulwich, rides to Greenwich, rides to Putney. In short, her amusements became at length so toilsome and so fatiguing, that she began to long to quarrel with every body, go no where, and do nothing; in short, to be allowed to "s'ennuyer à son aise."
Almack's too had a share in her amusements, if the time she passed there may be called by that name. She went more for the sake of pleasing her father, who was under the necessity of acting chaperon to