« ZurückWeiter »
of some great-grandmother sends the dreamer in quest of such articles, to find them upon London Bridge ; wills abstracted, to be discovered after due admonition, and the adjurations of at least three nights ; laches in pedigrees, to be filled up, 'not by the industry of the Heralds' Office, or the ingenuity of the manufacturer of those mystic hieroglyphics of descent which puzzled the eyes of Mr. Tittlebat Titmouse in « Ten Thousand a-year, »
or something else as plebeian, and as certain to lead into courts of justice, or in some manner or another to help the family of the law. These, I repeat, which (putting murders out of the question) constitute at least nine-tenths of the causes of ghostly visitations all over the world, seem hardly of sufficient importance to call the spirit from its dread abode.
I do not believe that there have been any murders in my family. No maiden aunt drowned herself for love ;. no'grim grand-uncle flung the hapless evidence of frailty, staining the annals of his house, into the fire : no gentleman of the family has to complain of any cruel Barbara Allen ; or, on the other band, no Margaret's grisly ghost to glide to William's feet. I have lived, too, in haunted castles, traversed by ghosts in all directions, and not been molested by anything more dreadful than the larceny of rats behind mouldy wainscots ; and I have looked down from dizzy battlements, from which, according to the most authentic and long-derived legends of the country, ghosls, or wraiths, or ladies of the lake, nigbily were to be seen in dozens, without catching anything more visionary than the glancing of the moonbeam upon the bubbling spray of the torrent underneath. It is therefore not without some fair reason I may ask the favour of being deemed not remarkably superstilious on the subject of ghosts or of dreams; and yet, but I shall let the reader see, and determine.
My childhood was passed in a remote district of Wales
tilious on the supposee, and determine Wales
where, in due course of time I was filled with many a visionary «tradition, legend, tale, and song. Educated under the care of a strict Presbyterian governess, I imbibed from her principles which taught me that belief in the surrounding superstitions was not merely absurd, but sinful. Her education, alas ! like much other education, was like Penelope's web. I undid the toil of the morning lecture of the governess by swallowing with thirsty ear the putting-to-bed story of the nurse. Emancipated from the trammels of education, I ran the usual gauntlet of young ladies of my rank. I danced and flirted a season or two; and then my hand was given to a sort of Welsh cousin, whose name was located in some part of our wide-spreading pedigree ; given, indeed, with my own consent, and something more than my own consent,-given with full heart, -and, if it was free this moment, dear Llewellyn, and you asked for it, it should be yours with as perfect truth and happiness as if the last ten years, blotted out of time, were to be repeated to-morrow.
His family seat was an awfully venerable castle, of sound tremendous to Saxon tongue, and there I spent (not lonesomely indeed, for it was but one continued feast at Caderyswy,) the first two years of my marriage. We made one formal visit, of a short fragment of the season, to London ; but Wales was our abiding home. Ambition suddenly came over my husband's mind ; and, during one of these visits to town, his agent, for most disinterested good reasons of course, persuaded him to start for Parliament. There was a great deal of worry about it, and, as I heard, enormous expense ; but, after a trial or two in various quarters, he was at last successful, and returned for the ancient and independent borough of Widemouth. As he was very rich, the money did not much trouble us, and the bustle, noise, and racket of the elections gave me no small amusement.
It was now necessary that we should take a London house; and, after some difficulty of selection, we succeeded in obtaining one in Grosvenor Square. We furnished it splendidly, according to all that the hearts of the men of chairs and tables, curtains and carpets, mirrors and pendules, sofas and
ottomans, gilding, painting, carving, tracing, taste, goût, virtů, and so forth, could possibly desire. It was an immensely large house, but no part was neglected, from the massive splendour of the Louis Quatorze drawing-room, to my own pretty bijou of a boudoir, a perfect gem,
--«In which Golconda stood consessed,
And all Arabia breathed from many a chest.». We gave very gay parties in our very gay house, and Llewellyn was quite happy with his new toy. I went out a good deal, and attracted as much admiration as generally falls to the lot of a lady who presides over recherché dinners, and opens her house to distinguished soirées. Yet I felt infinitely lonesome for all that ; neither my health nor inclination suited the eternal round of visiting, and I gradually diminished my nights of going out. I missed the hospitable dinner-parties, and the good-humoured dances of Wales, where mirth and kindliness compensated for refinement and wit. And, in truth, I was very much alone. The House of Commons, then in the full vigour of the session, occupied many of my husband's nights, and gave ample business to almost every hour of his day. I saw little of him from the time he rose until he returned to dress, and that was a ceremony very often omitted. He dined at Bellamy's, or at some of his clubs, (he belonged to three or four,) and returned late. Our dinners were either altogether à l'improviste, or set portions of his parliamentary life. Being very little of a politician, I could not force myself to feel any great interest in the conversations so keenly carried on ground me, except so far as I saw that they amused or excited my husband ; and I am sure if he had taken it into his head toʻ follow cock-fighting with as much zeal as he did the political movements of ministries and oppositions, I should have lent as attentive an ear to the controversies of the cockpit as I did to those of St. Stephen's.
It was altogether against his wish that I narrowed my viiting circle”; but I felt myself unequal to going through what was to me no more than a fagging duty. If I had a conquest to make, a settlement to win, a daughter to bring out, a cousin to chaperone, or any other such stimulus, it might have been a different case ; but I had nothing of the kind. The consequence of all this was, that I spent many evenings alone in my gilded apartments. I have always hated toadies, and far preferred solitude to the mercenary companionship of a lady who had seen better days, or a poor relation degrading her blood and my own by playing the part of being useful about the house, and agreeable to its mistress. I therefore generally occupied myself with reading from the time that Llewellyn left me, and his return very often in broad daylight discovered me still so engaged. I cannot flatter the authors whom I read that the intense interest of their volumes had not, in the intermediate time, occasionally acted as a narcotic. For this waiting up I received many a gentle chiding, which generally concluded by an assurance that the sessions was fast hastening to its close, and that then we should emancipate ourselves from the smoke of London, and inhale the clear atmosphere of the sweet shire of Cardigan. «We shall then forget these cursed politics, my dear Mary,” he would exclaim ; «I wish, from the bottom of my soul, I had never embroiled myself in them. This would be said with the air of a much enduring man, who was making the most enormous self-sacrifices for the good of his country. I saw that the career in which he was now engaged, gratified him to the very centre of his soul nevertheless, and I encouraged him accordingly to undergo his sufferings with due resignation, for which I was sure of being rewarded with an affectionate kiss, and the seriously-bestowed title of my dear good little wife.
One evening I had a small dinner-party, at which he barely looked in for a moment, consisting almost exclusively of ladies: We chattered through the hours pleasantly enough, and our numbers gradually fell away to three elderly ladies and myself. We were all natives of the principality ; and my companions, though women of birth and fashion, had in a great measure relired from London life, and spent most of their time in Wales, to the customs of which they were most warmly attached, with all the vigour of provincialism. Prallling chiefly on our family traditions--we were all cousins-brought the hours very close to midnight, and such stirrup-cup as ladies can venture to use had made its appearance, when it suddenly occurred to the oldest of the party, Lady Winifred, my husband's maiden aunt by the mother's side, that something in the shape of supper would be acceptable, and-mention it not in the land of silver-forks, wound not with the awful intelligence the sensitive souls of fashionable novelists,—her ladyship selected--I am ashamed to write the word, but it must come, -her ladyship selected— Welsh rabbits. I can only say in her defence, that they were not prepared according to any of the vulgar recipes. Slices of bread were no doubt cut, toasted, and buttered — that was left to the care of the servants—but, as to obeying injunctions which bid ordinary cooks u cover them with slices of rich cheese, spread a little mustard over the cheese, and put the bread in a cheese-toaster before the fire, » which, I perceive, is the utmost that the ingenuity of poor Emma Roberts (“) can recommend, we never thought of doing anything so unphilosophic and mechanical. According to the practice of our house, derived from antiquily so remote that it would be vain to seek for it in the Triads -my friend, Lady Charlotte G., clever as she is, will hardly find it in her Mabinogion — the cheese is prepared apart stewed in a silver chafing-dish, into wbich are gradually introduced, with all the mystery of the necromancers of old, certain ingredients, which, like theirs, are only communicated to the duly initiated. After a proper quantity of watching and incantation, it flows out a creamy fluid, fit to bathe the expectant toasts. It must be poured forth at the moment of projection ; and those who have once tasted it need not be reminded that it is to be eaten without delay. It is never suffered to linger long upon the table. In the present case it was prepared by the noble hands of Lady Winifred herself, who had a Welsh anecdote for every ingredient she put into the savoury mixture ; and we proved that our voting it excellent was no hypocritical compliment, by the practical at