Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]

But they smile, they find a music ringing from the solid tips,
Out of editorial pockets that have bought their pens and lips ;
Plenty this all dreams of wrong and horror to eclipse.
Thus they toil and thus they flourish; some 'tis whispered white-

wash well
In the courts for seedy bankrupts; others westward dwell
Resting weary limbs at last in regions of Pall Mall.
Surely reading is less hard than thinking; other's thought
Than wading through the long debatings, question, speech, retort;
O read, ye brother Britishers, for we will think of nought !

[blocks in formation]


“ WELL then, Charles, it's settled, you are to go down to Burdsley on Wednesday.”

“Very well, sir, I'm quite agreeable, I can't say more.”

Such was the close of a conversation which took place three or four Junes ago in a house in St. James's Square. The speakers were first, Mr. Dormer, senior, otherwise the Right Honourable Frederick Charles Dormer, M.P., member of her Majesty's honourable Privy Council, &c., &c., a staid old Whig of great experience, and a gentleman spoken of in terms of great respect by Mr. Hayter,we beg his pardon, Sir George Hayter. Secondly, and

, lastly, (you see we're quite Aeschylean, and have only two actors at once) Mr. Dormer, Coldstream Guards, son to the first interlocutor, and bearing the same Christian name.


He was an engaging young fellow of about five-andtwenty, and as handsome and well dressed as lieutenants in the Guards usually are, at all events in novels.

The custom of cataloguing all the good points of a hero has now quite gone out, in all tales of modern construction, and you may therefore be sure that in this story we shall not go against this recently introduced reform. It is indeed very degrading for an author to have to describe a fascinating gentleman or lady, like a beetle or a newly discovered serpent, or as accurately as a thief's appearance and attire are given in the Police Gazette. Still, without going too much into details, a thing which we have just reprobated, we will allow the reader to form some idea of Mr. Dormer's appearance, by hinting that he was like every novel hero) rather above the middle height, and was accustomed to wear the wonderful striped peg top trousers, and miraculous waistcoats in which the young men of the present day so much delight. His whiskers and moustache were not more than enough to stuff a cushion, say a foot square (which you must admit is very moderate) and he had not hanging from his watch-chain more than a dozen charms, selected from a collection of models of every implement or weapon on earth. Altogether, he was rather a moderate swell, and really had some ideas beyond changing guard, dress, dinners, and operas; — and this cannot be asserted of every officer in her Majesty's household brigade.

The conversation, the conclusion of which we have just heard, was on the subject of our young guardsman's visit to his uncle's house at Burdsley in Kent, a visit which was intended by the right honourable member of parliament and his brother, the late minister at the Court of Hanover,


to result in the marriage of Charles Dormer the younger with Julia, the ambassador's only child. This marriage had been an understood thing between the elders for a long time, ever since the discovery was made by Lady Dormer that the fact of Sir William's having only one child, a daughter, and his brother Charles only one son, was plainly intended by Providence to point out that a union of these two was both necessary and desirable.

Without paying too much attention to the vagaries of his fanciful spouse, Sir William like a dutiful husband occasionally listened to what she said: and as this idea appeared to him to be a good one, or as he expressed it, (he never lost the tone of the protocol in private life) * а singularly favourable opportunity of uniting the respective offspring of two not undistinguished statesmen and relatives,”—why, the thing was settled. And thus it came to pass


Charles destined to wed his cousin Julia, and that on the particular Wednesday alluded to, three days after the opening of our tale, he went down into Kent to woo a lady he had never seen, as Sir William had only just returned to England after a ten years' absence to settle in the house he had bought at Burdsley.

Now did we possess the graphic powers of G. P. R. James, Esq., we might describe the manner in which our hero as the sun was setting, rode down the hollow way which led to Burdsley Park. A picture of his coal black steed would then come, followed naturally enough by a history of the rider, “a stalwart man over whose head scarce fiveand-twenty summers had passed," and then of course we should have the surprising adventures he met with on the road.


We are however unable to do this for several reasons, first because we have not the pen of the aforesaid novelist, and unlike Byron “description's not our fault.” Secondly, Mr. Charles Dormer did not ride his coal black steed as the sun was setting and gilding the distant hills, &c., for a dog cart was sent to the station to meet him coming by the 2-35 train from London. Moreover he did not have any surprising adventures, but was shown into the drawing room on his arrival, introduced to his uncle and aunt, and in other respects treated like an ordinary Christian of the nineteenth century.

Miss Julia did not appear till dinner at seven, and her behaviour at that repast did not show that she was desirous of making up for the loss of the four hours, during which her cousin had been in the house. To tell the truth, she was highly indignant at the manner in which she had been sold, as she was pleased to call it, and uttered many strong remarks about negro slaves born to be sold, which, as Charles justly observed, was nothing to the purpose, as the only slave she resembled was a Circassian beauty. This young lady too had studied The Newcomes with great diligence, and was fond of quoting Ethel's observations on a like occasion, and altogether behaved as a young lady ought not to behave, when her kind parents have been good enough to select a husband for her, and save her the trouble and annoyance of fishing in the accustomed manner.

Charles did not find her more gracious during the first fortnight of his stay in the house, though he wooed with great assiduity, being now very much in love with her beautiful face and many accomplishments, and perhaps only adoring her the more for her resistance. She gave him to understand that she “never, no, never," (emphatically with a

shake of the head) “would marry a man merely because her father had chosen him. If indeed he were a distinguished person, and had something to recommend him besides having her parents on his side, if he were an Indian soldier, and not a mere carpet knight,-or if he had in some way or other shown his bravery and devotion, then perhaps she might,-she didn't know what but now she never would.”

This last sentence about showing bravery and devotion put an idea into the head of the now thoroughly enamoured lieutenant. It was very inexcusable in him, and he ought to have been ashamed of it, but he wasn't; and of course you could not expect his man Bob, whom he took into his confidence, to be ashamed of anything that his master proposed.

[ocr errors]


There are many fair spots in this beautiful isle of ours, but few fairer than Burdsley, the fairest place in Kent, the garden of England. There nature with prodigal hand lavished all her gifts, so that it was hard to say which in this favoured spot was pleasantest, sparkling rimy winter, spring, the awakening of the year, or golden autumn.

In Burdsley itself there was not much beauty: it was just one of those little villages that had jogged on quietly since the days of the Conqueror, not too old-fashioned, yet certainly not in advance of the age. Though the street was not lined with mediæval cottages with high pitched roofs and glistening black beams shewn through the falling plaster, there was yet no modern erection, all lath and stucco, looking at a distance like a Pal

« AnteriorContinuar »