Abbildungen der Seite

ever, not unfrequently happens. The flesh is often excoriated, and the very ribs bent, by this cruel process; yet, what astonished me more than all the rest, these sufferings are borne with a degree of fortitude, which, in a better cause, would immortalize a hero, or canonize a saint. The Spartan who suffered the fox to eat into his vitals did not bear pain with greater resolution: and as the Spartan mothers brought their children to be scourged at the altar of Diana, so do the mothers here bring their children, and chiefly those whose tender sex, one would suppose, excused them from such exertions, and early inure them to this cruel discipline; but neither Spartan, nor Dervise, nor Bonze, nor Carthusian monk, ever exercised more unrelenting severities over their bodies than these young zealots; indeed the first lesson they are taught is a surrender of their own inclinations, and an implicit obedience to the commands of the goddess; but they have, besides a more solemn kind of dedication, something similar to the rite of confirmation. When a young woman approaches the marriageable age, she is led to the altar; her hair, which before fell loosely about her shoulders, is tied up in a tress; sweet oils, drawn from roses and spices, are poured upon it; she is involved in a cloud of scented dust, and invested with ornaments under which she can scarcely move: after this solemn ceremony, which is generally concluded by a dance round the altar, the young person is obliged to a still stricter conformity than before to the laws and customs of the court, and any deviation from them is severely punished. The courtiers of Alexander, it is said, flattered him by carrying their heads on one side, because he had the misfortune to have a wry neck; but all adulation is poor, compared to what is practised in this court: sometimes the queen will lisp and stammer, and then none of her attendants can speak plain; sometimes she chooses to totter as she walks, and then they are seized with sudden lameness; accordingly as she appears half undressed, or veiled from head to foot, her subjects become a procession of nuns, or a troop of Bacchanalian nymphs.-I could not help observing,

however, that those who stood at the greatest distance from the throne were the most extravagant in their imitation. I was, by this time, thoroughly disgusted with the character of a sovereign, at once so light and so cruel, so fickle and so arbitrary, when one who stood next me bade me attend to still greater contradictions in her character, and such as might serve to soften the indignation I had conceived: he took me to the back of the throne, and made me take notice of a number of industrious poor, to whom the queen was secretly distributing bread. I saw the Genius of Commerce doing her homage, and discovered the British cross woven into the insignia of her dignity. While I was musing on these things, a murmur arose among the crowd, and I was told that a young votary was approaching; I turned my head, and saw a light figure, the folds of whose garment showed the elegant turn of the limbs they covered, tripping along with the step of a nymph. I soon knew it to be yourself-I saw you led up to the altar-I saw your beautiful hair tied in artificial tresses, and its bright gloss stained with coloured dust-I even fancied I beheld produced the dreadful instruments of torture-my emotions increased-I cried out, " Oh, spare her! spare my Flora!" with so much vehemence, that I awaked.-Monthly Magazine.


FRANK CHILVERS was a younger son of that respectable family, which has for many ages been settled at Fordham, in Nottinghamshire; and as he objected, upon those peculiar and fastidious notions which formed his character, to the army, navy, and church, all of which had been submitted to his adoption with reasonable prospects of advancement, his parents gave him his portion, which was not inconsiderable, and, at his own request, left him to select his own occupation and mode of life. His first speculation was to establish a

brewery in the country, upon the novel principle of consuming malt and hops, and excluding quassia, coculus indicus, "poppy, mandragora, and all the drowsy syrops of the East; but the knowing rustics did not understand being defrauded of their full allowance. They had been accustomed to a clammy, warming, soporific compound, and they did not comprehend why a gentleman's son should come into the place and introduce a new liquor, not half so comforting and drowsy as the old. He calmly assured them, that it was no new liquor of his invention, but of the very same quality with that barley wine which Xenophon brewed and gave to his troops, in the memorable retreat of the ten thousand. But they shook their heads; tapping their foreheads to one another, to insinuate that his wits were not quite right; and as no one would venture upon a beverage brewed by a madman, he sold off his stock and his business, retiring from the concoction of Utopian beer, with about half the property he had embarked in the concern. He made a bad pun upon the occasion, which was one of his inveterate habits, and thought no more of his loss.

Virgil's well-known line, "O fortunatæ Agricolæ," &c. determined his next choice, which was the occupation of a farmer; almost the only one, he observed, in which a man can honourably and independently maintain himself by contributing to the support of others. The latter part of this opinion he exemplified more practically than the former;-for as he was quite certain that his labourers could not exist upon the common wages, he instantly doubled them; and as, in many instances, he was aware that his customers could not afford to pay the regular price for his produce, he sold it under the market rate; both which modes of farming, co-operating with the bad times, eventually impoverished him, and procured him, from those who had benefited by his ruin, the title of the silly gentleman farmer. Various were the methods to which he now had recourse for his maintenance, for he disdained all application to friends or relations. At one time he

was an usher; at another, he supported himself, like Rousseau, by copying music, in which he was a proficient; now he translated for the booksellers; and for some time he was in the situation of a banker's clerk. It were useless to recapitulate the manifold employments in which he was engaged, or the variform difficulties he had to encounter; but it is not useless to record, that in all his trials be invariably preserved the same philosophical equanimity, nor ever suffered his reiterated disappointments to cool his philanthropic ardour, or diminish his favourable opinion of mankind. Thus he lived on, often in great poverty, but never discontented with his lot, until nearly his sixtieth year, when the death of an old bachelor cousin suddenly placed him in a state of actual independence, and comparative affluence. He immediately quitted London, and retired to C- Row, a village about eleven miles distant from the metropolis, where he purchased a beautiful cottage, and where the writer of this memoir first had the happiness of his acquaintance.

As the world, however little disposed to liberality upon other occasions, is seldom deficient in magnifying any sudden accession of fortune, and had exhibited its usual powers of multiplication in the present instance, he found it somewhat difficult to repress the eager advances of his neighbours, when they had regularly ascertained that Mr. Jackson, the rich city grocer, had sanctioned their visits, by first leaving his card. Nobody rode in such a gorgeous equipage; and when he went to church to abjure pomps and ceremonies, nobody's servant followed, with a gilt prayer-book, in a finer livery, or more flaming shoulder-knot: of course, nobody could be so proper to decide whether the philo sophic Chilvers was a visitable person or not. Miss Briggs, an elderly maiden relation, and an inmate in the family, decided this important question in his favour, when it was very near being negatived, by declaring, that his being undoubtedly a person of property was quite sufficient; that she dared to say he was a very good sort of man, in spite of his little oddities; and

that, in her opinion, he ought to be visited, even in spite of his old white hat.

Chilvers was so elemental in his views, as generally to overlook all conventional modes and forms; and thus, without affectation of singularity, he often fell into somewhat grotesque peculiarities. One summer he purchased a white hat, and once ventured to tie it down under his chin, on account of a face-ache. The ridicule and laughter of the rustics first made him sensible that he had presumed to deviate from customary fashions; but as he felt benefit from that which he had adopted, and had a perfect contempt for vulgar or polite raillery, he adhered to his hat as religiously as a Quaker; and partly from habit, partly from obstinacy, constantly wore it, even within doors. The giggling sneers, and whispering of the visitors, when the irruption formally broke in upon his quiet cottage, suggested to him the idea of checking their unwelcome invitations, by going to their houses in his old white hat, and giving them to understand that he never took it off. Even this expedient failed. A rich man without children, or apparent relations, has too much to leave to be left alone, and cards and visits rather increased than diminished, in spite of the old white hat.


Accident, however, effected what this inseparable appendage could not accomplish. A female cousin of Chilvers, about thirty years of age, had been left a widow, with a little girl of five years old, in a state of utter destitution; and as soon as she learnt his accession of fortune, very naturally applied to him for assistUpon occasions of benevolence he was not in the habit of calculating appearances, or balancing surmises; so he tied down his old white hat, got into a glass coach, drove to his relation's, and in less than twelve hours from the receipt of her letter had established her, with her child, in his cottage, giving up his own bed-room for her use, because, as he said, young women liked to be cheerful, and from the corner window she could see all the company on the great Romford road.

« ZurückWeiter »