Page images

thanks to Heaven that an illiterate peasant could As this did not amount to an absolute surrenpay

der of my bed-chamber, I still felt myself so -Or a learned prelate either, said I. much the proprietor, as to have a right to do the

honours of it ;--so I desired the lady to sit

down, pressed her into the warmest seat, called THE CASE OF DELICACY.

for more wood, desired the hostess to enlarge

the plan of the supper, and to favour us with When you have gained the top of Mount the very best wine. Taurira, you run presently down to Lyons ;- The lady had scarce warmed herself five miadieu then to all rapid movements !—'tis a nutes at the fire, before she began to turn her journey of caution ; and it fares better with head back and to give a look at the beds: and sentiments, not to be in a hurry with them; so the oftener she cast her eyes that way, the more I contracted with a voiturin to take his time they returned perplexed. I felt for her-and with a couple of mules, and convey me in my for myself ; for in a few minutes, what by her own chaise safe to Turin, through Savoy. looks, and the case itself, I found myself as

Poor, patient, quiet, honest people! fear not; much embarrassed as it was possible the lady your poverty, the treasury of your simple vir- could be herself. tues, will not be envied you by the world, nor That the beds we were to lie in were in one will your vallies be invaded by it.--Nature! in and the same room, was enough simply by itself the midst of thy disorders, thou art still friends to have excited all this ;—but the position of ly to the scantiness thou hast created : with all them (for they stood parallel, and so very close thy great works about thee, little hast thou left to each other, as only to allow a space for a to give, either to the scythe or to the sickle- small wicker-chair betwixt them) rendered the but to that little thou grantest safety and pro- affair still more oppressive to us ;-they were tection ; and sweet are the dwellings which fixed up, moreover, near the fire, and the prostand so sheltered !

jection of the chimney on one side; and a large Let the way-worn traveller vent his com- beam which crossed the room on the other, plaints upon the sudden turns and dangers of formed a kind of recess for them that was nó your roads, your rocks, your precipices; the way favourable to the nicety of our sensations : difficulties of getting up, the horrors of getting -if any thing could have added to it, it was down, mountains impracticable,—and cataracts, that the two beds were both of them so very which roll down great stones from their sum- small, as to cut us off from every idea of the mits, and block up his road. The peasants had lady and the maid lying together; which, in been all day at work in removing a fragment of cither of them, could it have been feasible, my this kind between St Michael and Madane ; lying beside them, though a thing not to be and, by the time my vioturin got to the place, wished, yet there was nothing in it so terrible it wanted full two hours of completing, before which the imagination might not have passed a passage could any how be gained. There was over without torment. nothing but to wait with patience ;—'twas a As for the little room within, it offered little wet and tempestuous night; so that by the de- or no consolation to us : 'twas a damp, cold clolay and that together, the voiturin found him- set, with a half dismantled window-shutter, self obliged to put up five miles short of his and with a window which had neither glass nor stage, at a little decent kind of an inn by the oil-paper in it to keep out the tempest of the road side.

night. I did not endeavour to stifle my cough I forth with took possession of my bedcham- when the lady gave a peep into it; so it reduber, got a good fire, ordered supper, and was ced the case in course to this alternative,—That thanking Heaven it was no worse,—when a voi- the lady should sacrifice her health to her feelturin arrived with a lady in it, and her servant- ings, and take up with the closet herself, and maid.

abandon the bed next mine to her maid,-or, As there was no other bedchamber in the that the girl should take the closet, &c. house, the hostess, without much nicety, led The lady was a Piedmontese of about thirty, them into mine, telling them, as she ushered with a glow of health in her cheeks. The maiá. them in, that there was nobody in it but an was a Lyonoise of twenty, and as brisk and liveEnglish gentleman ;-that there were two good ly a French girl as ever moved. There were beds in it, and a closet within the room which difficulties every way,—and the obstacle of the held another. The accent in which she spoke stone in the road, which brought us into the of this third bed, did not say much for it ;- distress, great as it appeared whilst the peasants however, she said there were three beds, and were removing it, was but a pebble to what lay but three people,--and she durst say the gentle- our way now—I have only to add, that it did man would do any thing to accommodate mat- not lessen the weight which hung upon our ters.--I left not the lady a moment to make spirits, that we were both too delicate to coma conjecture about it, so instantly made a decla- municate what we felt to each other upon the ration that I would do any thing in my power. occasion.

We sat down to supper; and, had we not bed, and the candle and fire extinguished, tha. had more generous wine to it than a little inn Monsieur should not speak one single word the in Savoy could have furnisherl, our tongues had whole night. been tied up till Necessity herself had set them Granted, provided Monsieur's saying his at liberty ; ---but the lady having a few bottles prayers might not be deemed an infraction of of Burgundy in her voiture, sent down her fille the treaty. de chambre for a couple of them ; so that by There was but one point forgot in this treathe time supper was over, and we were left ty, and that was the manner in which the lady alone, we felt ourselves inspired with a strength and myself should be obliged to undress and of mind sufficient to talk, at least, without re- get to bed ;-there was one way of doing it, and serve upon our situation. We turned it every that I leave to the reader to devise, protesting as way, and debated and considered it in all kinds I do it, that if it is not the most delicate in naof lights in the course of a two hours' negocia- ture --'tis the fault of his own imagination, tion; at the end of which the articles were against which this is not my first complaint. settled finally betwixt us, and stipulated for in Now, when we were got to bed, whether it form and manner of a treaty of peace,-and, I was the novelty of the situation, or what it believe, with as much religion and good faith was, I know not, but so it was, I could not on both sides, as in any treaty which has yet shut my eyes; I tried this side and that, and had the honour of being handed down to poste- turned and turned again, till a full hour after rity.

midnight, when Nature and Patience both They were as follows:

wearing out,- my God! said I. First, As the right of the bed-chamber is You have broke the treaty, Monsieur, in Monsieur,—and he thinking the bed next said the lady, who had no more slept than myto the fire to be the warmest, he insists upon self. I begged a thousand pardons; but insistthe concession on the lady's side of taking up ed it was no more than an ejaculation. She with it.

maintained 'twas an entire infraction of the Granted on the part of Madame; with a treaty. I maintained it was provided for in proviso, That, as the curtains of that bed are of the clause of the third article. a flimsy transparent cotton, and appear likewise The lady would by no means give up the too scanty to draw close, that the fille de chambre point, though she weakened her barrier by it; shall fasten up the opening, either by corking- for, in the warmth of the dispute, I could hear pins or needle and thread, in such a manner as two or three corking pins fall out of the curtain shall be deemed a sufficient barrier on the side to the ground. of Monsieur.

- Upon my word and honour, Madame, 2dly, It is required on the part of Madame, said I, stretching my arm out of bed by way of that Monsieur shall lie the whole night through asseveration,in his robe de chambre.

(I was going to have added, that I would not Rejected: in as much as Monsieur is not have trespassed against the remotest idea of deworth a robe de chambre; he having nothing corum for the world)in his portmanteau but six shirts and a black —But the fille de chambre hearing there were silk pair of breeches.

words between us, and fearing that hostilities The mentioning the silk pair of breeches would ensue in course, had crept silently out of nade an entire change of the article, --for the her closet; and it being totally dark, had stobreeches were accepted as an equivalent for the len so close to our beds, that she had got her. robe de chambre; and so it was stipulated and self into the narrow passage which separated agreed upon, that I should lie in my black silk them, and had advanced so far up as to be in a breeches all night.

line betwixt her mistress and me; 3dly, It was insisted upon, and stipulated So that, when I stretched out my hand, I for by the lady, that after Monsieur was got to caught hold of the fille de chambre's






[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors]

THERE are a hundred faults in this thing, and a hundred things might be said to prove

them beauties. But it is needless. A book may be amusing with numerous errors, or it may be very dull without a single absurdity. The hero of this piece unites in himself the three greatest characters upon earth ;-he is a priest, a husbandman, and the father of a family. He is drawn as ready to teach, and ready to obey-as simple in affluence, and majestic in adversity. In this age of opulence and refinement, how can such a character please ? Such as are fond of high life, will turn with disdain from the simplicity of his country fire-side ; such as mistake ribaldry for humour, will find no wit in his harmless conversation ; and such as have been taught to deride religion, will laugh at one whose chief stores of comfort are drawn from futurity


[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

number. However, my wife always insisted that

as they were the same flesh und blood, they should CHAP. I.

sit with us at the same table : so that if we had

not very rich, we generally had very happy, The description of the Family of Wakefield, in friends about us ; for this remark will hold good

which a kindred likeness prevails as well of through life, that the poorer the guest, the bet, minds as of persons.

ter pleased he ever is with being treated ; and

as some men gaze with admiration at the coI was ever of opinion that the honest man, who lours of a tulip, or the wing of a butterfly, so I married and brought up a large family, did more was by nature an admirer of happy human faces. service than he who continued single, and only However, when any one of our relations was talked of population. From this motive, I had found to be a person of a very bad character, a scarce taken orders a year, before I began to troublesome guest, or one we desired to get rid think seriously of matrimony, and chose my of, upon his leaving my house, I ever took care wife as she did her wedding gown, not for a to lend him a riding-coat, or a pair of boots, or fine glossy surface, but such qualities as would sometimes an horse of small value, and I always wear well. To do her justice, she was a good. had the satisfaction to find he never came back natured, notable woman; and as for breeding, to return them. By this the house was cleared there were few country ladies who could shew of such as we did not like ; but never was the more. She could read any English book with- family of Wakefield known to turn the traveller out much spelling; but for pickling, preserving, or the poor dependant out of doors. and cookery, none could excel her. She prided Thus we lived several years in a state of much herself also upon being an excellent contriver in happiness; not but that we sometimes had those house-keeping; though I could never find that little rubs which Providence sends to enhance we grew richer with all her contrivances. the value of its favours. My orchard was often

However, we loved each other tenderly, and robbed by school-boys, and my wife's custards our fondness increased as we grew old. There plundered by the cats or the children. The was, in fact, nothing that could make us angry squire would sometimes fall asleep in the most with the world, or each other. We had an ele- pathetic parts of my sermon, or his lady return gant house, situate in a fine country, and a good my wife's civilities at church with a mutilated neighbourhood. The year was spent in moral curtsey. But we soon got over the uneasiness or rural amusements, in visiting our rich neigh- caused by such accidents, and usually in three bours, and relieving such as were poor. We had or four days began to wonder how they vexed no revolutions to fear, nor fatigues to undergo; us. all our adventures were by the fire-side, and

all My children, the offspring of temperance, as our migrations from the blue bed to the brown. they were educated without softness, so they

As we lived near the road, we often had the were at once well-formed and healthy; my sons traveller or stranger visit us, to taste our goose- hardy and active, my daughters beautiful and berry-wine, for which we had great reputation ; blooming. When I stood in the midst of the and I profess, with the veracity of an historian, little circle, which promised to be the supports that I never knew one of them find fault with of my declining age, I could not avoid repeating it. Our cousins too, even to the fortieth remove, the famous story of Count Abensberg, who, in all remembered their affinity, without any help Henry II.'s progress through Germany, while from the heralds' office, and came very frequent- other courtiers came with their treasures, brought ly to see us. Some of them did us no great ho- his thirty-two children, and presented them to nour by these claims of kindred ; as we had the his sovereign as the most valuable offering he blind, the maimed, and the halt, amongst the had to bestow. In this manner, though I had

« PreviousContinue »