« ZurückWeiter »
and all, Mrs. Haughtville, and they are the sweetest things!" This account excited a slight emotion of curiosity in Mrs. Haughtville's mind, and she accordingly begged Miss Pennefeather to grant their request. Lady Bodlington was very anxious indeed ; and the poetess, whose pride, though easily wounded, was, through the medium of her vanity, as easily soothed, found the two fine ladies were more intellectual, and consequently more worthy of the efforts of her genius, than she had at first imagined.
• After a little bashful reluctance, she seated herself upon the round stool. She was short and thick, with a very small waist and a very full gown, and she sat extremely stiff and upright. Her arms were short, and when she meant to play staccato, she caught ap her hands as high as her shoulders, and then she pounced down again on the affrighted notes as a kite upon a brood of chickens. The “ sweet thing” she selected for the occasion was in a German style-a love-lorn damisel who sold herself to the spirit of darkness, that she might rejoin her murdered lover's ghost in another, but not a better, world. Miss Pennefeather's nose was small, and somewhat retroussé, her eyes were large, black, and round, (they were her beauty,) her mouth would not have been ugly, but that it was difficult to decide where her chin ended and her throat began, so that, during the vehement and energetic passages which the nature of the subject called forth, when the head was thrown backs, and the black eyes were darting their beams towards the ceiling, the double chin protruded rather beyond the natural and original one.' –
Surely, whoever may have been the poet of this song, the music must have been from the Chevalier Neükomm!
• Lord Montreville now became a frequent visitor at Rosehill Lodge, and his manner gradually assumed more the tone of gallantry. Reports arose. Lucy was rallied by her young friends, and began to look into her feelings. She had seen his beautiful equipage—his four blood bays ; she had seen engravings of his magnificent seat in Staffordshire'; of his lovely villa near London ; of his ancient castle in Wales. She was proof against the splendour of Ashdale Park, and the elegances of Beausejour, but the castle had a decided effect upon her heart. The walls were nine feet thick ; there was a donjon keep at the top of a tower nine hundred and forty-one years old; and Lord Montreville's teeth were extremely good-almost as good as Captain Langley's.
-A donjon keep at the top of a tower! We had always understood that a keep was a tower, and that the dungeon was usually placed at the bottom of it.
. From the vaults under the Caërwhwyddwth Castle subterraneous passages, to the end of which no one within the
of man had penetrated, were supposed to extend to the ruined monastery of Caërmerwhysteddwhstgen; and then Lord Montreville was quite thinnot the least inclined to corpulency. He was older than Sir Charles Selcourt, but he was much more agreeable,-he was certainly a great
deal older than Captain Langley, but then Captain Langley was not the least clever. All their tastes agreed exactly. He was enthusiastic upon the self-same subjects,-puppies, donkeys, goslings, and Lord Byron. She went to sleep, and dreamed she was the Marchioness of Montreville, chaperoning her sister Emma to Almack's. People cannot prevent their dreams.
• The next morning she jokingly repeated her dream to Emma. “Oh, Lucy!” exclaimed Emma, "what a charming dream! And you know mamma says,
you marry, I may come out at seventeen, and, if you don't, I must stay in this poky school-room till I am eighteen. You never can refuse Lord Montreville.”—p. 204.
Certainly not.-Lucy is put, in the next chapter, into lawful possession of the Montreville diamonds; and the honeymoon of Ashdale park has not quite expired before her miseries begin. Lord Montreville no longer sympathizes with her either as to donkeys, or goslings, or the Giaour. In fact, it comes out that he cares very little about any of that author's works, except · Don Juan.' On his Lordship's part, all the innocent naïvetés that had seemed so delightful at Rosehill lodge, are now viewed with fear and suspicion, as likely to hazard the dignity of the strawberry-leaf; and Lucy is obliged to confess to herself that she never feels so much at ease as when the elderly, and once more sobered peer-is out of the room. He deterinines to have a dinner party of nobodies'--that is to say, of the rural gentry in the vicinity of Ashdale, before venturing to produce the bride among any of his own proper 'set,' and gives Lucy painfully minute directions as to the honours of her table, some of which the lady finds it hard to put into practice. The giving of the signal for retiring to the drawing-room is one great difficulty:
• The half hour—more than the half hour must have elapsed! She answered with an absent air, still glancing uneasy glances, till at length Miss Brown nudged Mrs. Johnson, and Mrs. Johnson looked up, and Lucy hastily rose from her chair, in the middle of Major Smith's sentence.
• Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Delafield made a great ceremony at the door, during which time the gentlemen stood bolt upright, with their napkins in their hands, waiting with exemplary patience while the ladies gave each other le pas. At length they marched out arm-in-arm, with a slight laugh to carry off their uncertainties. Lady Montreville, in her shyness, slipped her arm within Miss Brown's, and thanked her for making Mrs. Johnson look round. Why could I not catch her eye before ?” “Oh, don't you know? She is only the wife of a younger son of a baronet, and Mrs. Delafield is the wife of the eldest son of a knight, so you know she was afraid of putting herself forward.” This was a new light to Lucy, who had never before been aware of these niceties.'--pp. 250, 251.
A few pages lower down we find the Marquess encouraged to take another grand step.
• He now thought he might venture to gather some of his own friends and relations around him, and before Christmas there arrived a large party, all people of the very highest fashion, pleasing and agreeable. They, like their host, seemed in their conversation to have adopted the motto of “ Glissez mortels, mais n'appuyez pas :" and though the hours might fly swiftly in their society, there was nothing about them sufficiently original or individual to deserve recording.
• Lucy behaved exceedingly well; she had been properly drilled before their arrival : she was in an interesting state, which, assisted by the lectures of the apothecary, and the constant solicitude of Lord Montreville, and the ennui occasioned by being headed, as a sportsman would term it, whenever she attempted to stir hand or foot, gave to her whole carriage and deportment a most excellent languor. She no longer felt any flutter when she made the signal after dinner, and, upon the whole, Lord Montreville thought the result all he could wish, except that he would fain have had her join a little more in general conversation, if he could have been quite sure of no exuberance of spirits.
• Was she happy in the midst of her splendour ? Her husband exceedingly attentive, and the most agreeable society collected around her. No. She was bored— from morning till night constantly suffering from ennui. She was grateful for her husband's attentions, but they invariably prevented her doing the thing she wished to do; and she sometimes wondered how so many little chubby children, who were not heirs to titles and properties, were running about the village in health and safety.
• The society of her husband's friends did not amuse her; they were all the intimates of one clique; and, notwithstanding their habitual good-breeding, she could not help often being unable to understand, or, at all events, to join in their conversation. A slight tone of persiflage and of quizzing, in their mode of treating all subjects, also made her feel less at her ease, than she would otherwise have done after ten days' residence under the same roof; and she often longed for a hearty laugh with Bell Stopford--a long scrambling walk with Emma and Mary.'
The next paragraph is better still:
• Lucy occasionally suggested how glad she should be to see her parents ; but the house was always filled with a succession of visitors. The Duke and Duchess of Altonworth announced their intention of taking Ashdale Park in their way to London, and Lord Montreville inadvertently exclaimed, “ Whom shall we get to meet them, for this party disperses on Wednesday ?" "Oh, then, now we can have papa and mamma, and Emma and Mary!—that will be nice!" Lord Montreville's countenance fell— he looked blank and dismayed. Lucy saw she was wrong, but she could not' (as yet!) “imagine that papa and mamma were not fit company for any duke or duchess in the land; so
she awaited the result, blank and dismayed in her turn, but wholly at a loss to guess what was the matter. Lord Montreville soon rallied; “I do not think that would quite do, my dear Lucy: a family party is always a dull thing, and the Duchess is very clever, and altogether—My dear Lucy, I am sure you perfectly understand me.” This time, how. ever, Lucy could not and would not understand. • But it will not be a family party to the Duchess, and I am sure mamma is clever too: some people call her blue.” Very true, my love ; but the Duchess is clever, and not blue, and she is a person who is very exclusive ; she has retired habits, and does not like new acquaintances; and, in short, we must either get somebody whom she would decidedly like to meet, or we had better have nobody.” '-p. 264-268.
We cannot quote more of this history. Lucy, in vol. 2, becomes, through a not very adroitly managed accident, aware of an improper connection of her fastidious lord's; and runs imminent hazard of following his examplemas is shown in a scene of admirable skill and effect, but too long for citation. An explanation, however, occurs in time to save herthe parties understand each other—and • Lord and Lady Montreville, like many other unloving couples, ' have now lived many years in comfort and good fellowship. The merit of · Lucy and Milly' lies in detached sketches of manners, of which we have given sufficient specimens, and in a style of dialogue superior, we think, to what has been reached by any of the Chaperon's recent rivals. The most formidable of these, Mrs. Sheridan, very rarely allows her narratives to run into dialogue at all.
The subject of the Chaperon's last tale, Helen Wareham,' carries her over some delicate enough ground. The heroine is one of a half-pay officer's family, in another Hertfordshire town, the state of whose resources and temper may be gathered from the following little scene:
Why on earth do you not send away the breakfast things ? Nothing shortens the day so much as letting the breakfast remain late upon the table—this is another thing I can never teach you !" “I thought you might wish to drink your tea, papa," answered Caroline, timidly. I do not want any more; it is so horridly bad !” he replied. And I
suppose, we must have the weekly bills, and I must give you some money!" Caroline's spirit sank within her. The first Monday in every month was to her a weary day; and she anticipated that this would indeed be black Monday, as papa did not seem to be quite well.
• The apparatus for the morning repast was removed. Caroline brought the household book, and the bills, and presented them, one by one, to her father, who was horrified at the amount of each.—" Why, here is beef again —there is no occasion to feed the whole family on beef! If the servants have their beef on Sunday, surely that is enough. You know, Caroline, I can scarcely afford to live as I do, and yet it
seems you become every day more expensive in your housekeeping." " I am very sorry, papa, but you told me to have some luncheon in case the Jenkinsons called last Wednesday; and you have often said you hated cold mutton, and that it was painful to you that any one should imagine you were inhospitable; and I thought it did not make much difference, and there would be the cold beef, which always looks handsome.” “So, I suppose you mean to imply it is my fault that the bills are high. I am sure no man can spend less upon himself than I do! I wish you would tell me where to get the money, that is all!" The entrance of Miss Patterson, a prim, middle-aged lady, who came for a few hours every day to superintend Matilda's education, put an end to the discussion. Captain Wareham paid the money without another word, took his hat and stick, and sallied forth to avoid the infliction of Miss Patterson, the music, &c.'--Vol. iii. pp. 7, 8.
Ellen, the handsomest of this testy captain's daughters, too happy to escape from Miss Patterson and the cold mutton, is married at seventeen to a wealthy broker in the city, who is extremely, though quite causelessly, jealous of her. Mr. Cressford is a brute. In 1803, shortly after the birth of a second child, he happens to visit Paris on business—and hard fate numbers him anong the detenus. It annoys him most abominably to be shut up so far away from his prosperous shop in Lombard Street, and, above all, from his beautiful and much-admired wife in Bed ford Row; and, after many other projects of escape, he at length contrives to go through, to all appearance, the ceremonies of dying, and being buried at Verdun, to have his exit announced in all the newspapers, and then to get clear across the Rhine in a peasant's dress. He is, however, taken up as a spy, in one of the small German states, is clapped into a Baron-Trenckish dungeon accordingly, and therein frets so horribly as actually to lose his wits. Meanwhile, Ellen receives, of course, no private intelligence, and believing that her husband is no more, goes through her mourning and twelvemonths of seclusion with the utmost propriety, and then opens her heart to the addresses of a gentleman, moving in a much higher sphere of life than she had hitherto approached, and possessing personal qualities worthy of all the love and respect possible. She becomes the wife of this Mr. Algernon Hamilton, described as a man of ancient family, ample fortune, and occupying a first-rate station both in parliament, and in the most fashionable society of the time. Mrs. Hamilton presents him with a boy—their happiness is perfect. A year has elapsed - when there drops in a letter blurred all over with foreign postmarks; in short, Mr. Cressford has managed to get out of his strait-jacket and his dungeon ; and in a few weeks he arrives safely in propria personâ, to discover that a junior partner has long since taken his desk in the counting-house, and that the celebrated