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iure confers. May they continue still in the same mind; and when they shall be seventy-five, and seventy-three years old, (I cannot spare them sooner,) persist in treating me in my grand climateric precisely as a stripling, or younger brother!
James is an inexplicable cousin. Nature hath her unities, which not every critic can penetrate; or, if we feel, we cannot explain them. The pen of Yorick, and of none since his, could have drawn J. E. entire—those fine Shandian liglits and shades which make up his story. I must limp after in my poor antithetical manner, as the fates have given me grace and talent. J. E. then-to the eye of a common observer at least-seemeth made up of contradictory principles. The genuine child of impulse, the frigid philosopher of prudence—the phlegm of my cousin's doctrine is invariably at war with his temperament, which is high sanguine. With always some fire-new project in his brain, J. E. is the systematic opponent of innovation, and crier down of everything that has not stood the test of age and experiment. With a hundred fine notions chasing one another hourly in his fancy, he is startled at the least approach to the romantic in others; and, determined by his own sense in everything, commends you to the guidance of common sense on all occasions. With a touch of the eccentric in all which he does or says, he is only anxious that you should not commit yourself by doing anything absurd or singular. On my once letting slip at table, that I was not fond of a certain popular dish, he begged me at any rate not to say so—for the world would think me mad. He disguises a passionate fondness for works of high art, (whereof he hath amassed a choice collection,) under the pretext of buying only to sell again—that his enthusiasm may give no encouragement to yours. Yet, if it were so, why does that piece of tender, pastoral Dominichino hang still by his wall ?--is the ball of his sight much more dear to him ?or what picture dealer can talk like him?
Whereas mankind in general are observed to warp their speculative conclusions to the bent of their individual humours, his theories are sure to be in diametrical opposition to his constitution. He is courageous as Charles of Sweden, upon instinct; chary of his person, upon principle, as a travelling Quaker. He has been preaching up to me, all my life, the doctrine of bowing to the great—the necessity of forms and manners to a man's getting on in the world. He himself never aims at either, that I can discover—and has a spirit that would stand upright in the presence of the Cham of Tartary. It is pleasant to hear him discourse of patience-extolling it as the truest wisdom-and to see him during the last seven minutes that his dinner is getting ready. Nature never ran up in her haste a more restless piece of workmanship than when she moulded this impetuous cousin—and Art never turned out a more elaborate orator than he can display himselt to be, upon his favourite topic of the advantages of quiet and contentedness in the state, whatever it be, that we are placed in. He is triumphant on this theme, when he has you safe in one of those short stages that ply for the western road, in a very obstructing manner, at the foot of John Murray's street—where you get in when it is empty, and are expected to wait till the vehicle hath completed her just freight -a trying three quarters of an hour to some people. He wonders at your fidgetyness—“ where could we be better than we are, thus sitting, thus consulting ?”—“prefers, for his part, a state of rest to locomotion”—with an eye all the while upon the coachman—till at length, waxing out of all patience, at your want of it, he breaks out into a pathetic remonstrance at the fellow for detaining us so long over the time which he had professed, and declares peremptorily, that "the gentleman in the coach is determined to get out, if he does not drive on that instant."
Very quick at inventing an argument, or detecting a sophistry, he is incapable of attending you in any chain of arguing. Indeed, he makes wild work with logic; and seems to jump at most admirable conclusions by some process, not at all akin to it. Consonantly enough to this, he hath been heard to deny, upon certain occasions, that there exists such a faculty at all in man as reason ; and wondereth how man came first to have a conceit of it-enforcing his negation with all the might of reasoning he is master of. He has some speculative notions against laughter, and will maintain that laughing is not natural to him—when peradventure the next moment his lungs shall crow like Chanticleer. He says some of the best things in the world—and declareth that wit is his aversion. It was he who said, upon seeing the Eaton boys at play in their grounds, What a pity to think, that these fine ingenuous lads in a few years will all be changed into frivolous members of parliament !
His youth was fiery, glowing, tempestuous—and in age he discovereth no symptom of cooling. This is that which I admire in him. I hate people who meet Time halfway. I am for no compromise with that inevitable spoiler. While he lives, J. E. will take his swing. It does me good as I walk towards the street of my daily avocation, on some fine May morning, to meet him marching in a quite opposite direction, with a jolly handsome presence, and shining sanguine face
that indicates some purchase in his eye—a Claude-or a Hobbinia—for much of his enviable leisure is consumed at Christie's and Phillips's-or where not, to pick up pictures, and such gauds. On these occasions he mostly stoppeth me, to read a short lecture on the advantage a person like me possesses above himself, in having his time occupied with business which he must do—assureth me that he often feels it hang heavy on his hands—wishes he had fewer holydays --and goes off — Westward Ho !--chanting a tune, to Pall Mall--perfectly convinced that he has convinced me--while I proceed in my opposite direction tuneless.
It is pleasant again to see this professor of indifference doing the honours of his new purchase, when he has fairly housed it. You must view it in every light, till he has found the best-placing it at this distance, and at that, but always suiting the focus of your sight to his own.
You must spy at it through your fingers, to catch the aerial perspective—though you assure him that to you the landscape shows much more agreeable without that artifice. Wo be to the luckless wight who does not only not respond to his rapture, but who should drop an unseasonable intimation of preferring one of his anterior bargains to the present! The last is always his best hit-his “ Cynthia of the minute.” Alas ! how many a mild Madonna have I known to come in—a Raphael! keep its ascendancy for a few brief moons—then after certain intermedial degradations, from the front drawing room to the back gallery, thence to the dark parlour--adopted in turn by each of the Carracci, under successive lowering ascriptions of filiation, mildly breaking its fall-consigned to the oblivious lumber room, go out at last a Lucca Giordano, or plain Carlo Maratti which things when I beheld, musing upon the chances and mutabilities of fate below, hath made me to reflect upon the altered condition of great personages, or that wosul queen of Richard the Second
“ Set forth in pomp,
Sent back like Hollowmass or shortest day.” With great love for you, J. E. hath but a limited sympathy with what you feel or do. He lives in a world of his own, and makes slender guesses at what passes in your mind. He never pierces the marrow of your habits. He will tell an old-established playgoer, that Mr. Such-a-one of So-and-so, (naming one of the theatres,) is a very lively comedian—as a piece of news! He advertised me but the other day of some pleasant green lanes which he had found out for me, knowing me to be a great walker, in my own immediate vicinity-who have
haunted the identical spot any time these twenty years ! He has not much respect for that class of feelings which goes by the name of sentimental. He applies the definition of real evil to bodily sufferings exclusively--and rejecteth all others as imaginary. He is affected by the sight, or the bare supposition of a creature in pain, to a degree which I have never witnessed out of womankind. A constitutional acuteness to this class of sufferings may in part account for this. The animal tribe in particular he taketh under his especial protection. A broken-winded or spur-galled horse is
to find an advocate in him. An overloaded ass his client for ever. He is the apostle to the brute kind—the neverfailing friend of those who have none to care for them. The contemplation of a lobster boiled, or eels skinned alive, will wring him so, that “all for pity he could die.” It will take the savour from his palate, and the rest from his pillow, for days and nights. With the intense feeling of Thomas Clarkson, he wanted only the steadiness of pursuit, and unity of purpose, of that“ true yokefellow with time,” to have effected as much for the animal as he hath done for the negro creation. But my uncontrollable cousin is but imperfectly formed for purposes which demand co-operation. He cannot wait. His amelioration plans must be ripened in a day. For this reason he has cut but an equivocal figure in benevolent societies, and combinations for the alleviation of human sufferings. His zeal constantly makes him to outrun, and put out his coadjutors. He thinks of relieving—while they think of debating. He was blackballed out of a society for the relief of because the fervour of his humanity toiled beyond the formal apprehension and creeping processes of his associates. I shall always consider this distinction as a patent of nobility in the Elia family!
Do I mention these seeming inconsistencies to smile at, or upbraid, my unique cousin ? Marry, Heaven, and all good man: ners and the understanding that should be between kinsfolk, forbid ! with all the strangenesses of this strangest of the Elias, I would not have him in one jot or tittle other than he is; neither would I barter or exchange my wild kinsman for the most exact, regular, and every way consistent kinsman breathing.
In my next, reader, I may perhaps give you some account of my Cousin Bridget—if you are not already surfeited with cousins—and take you by the hand, if you are willing to go with us, on an excursion which we made a summer or two since, in search of more cousins,
“ Through the green plains of pleasant Hertfordshire.”
BRIDGET Elia has been my housekeeper for many a long year. I have obligations to Bridget, extending beyond the period of memory. We house together, old bachelor and maid, in a sort of double singleness; with such tolerable comfort, upon the whole, that I, for one, find in myself no sort of disposition to go out upon the mountains, with the rash king's offspring, to bewail my celibacy. We agree pretty well in our tastes and habits-yet so, as a difference.” We are generally in harmony, with occasional bickerings, as it should be among near relations. Our sympathies are rather understood than expressed; and once, upon my dissembling a tone in my voice more kind than ordinary, my cousin burst into tears, and complained that I was altered. We are both great readers in different directions.
While I am hanging over (for the thousandth time) some passage in old Burton, or one of his strange contemporaries, she is abstracted in some modern tale or adventure, whereof our common reading table is daily fed with assiduously fresh supplies. Narrative teases me. Í have little concern in the progress of events.
She must have a story-well, ill, or indifferently told—so there be life stirring in it, and plenty of good or evil accidents. The fluctuations of fortune in fiction-and almost in real lifehave ceased to interest, or operate but dully upon me.
Outof-the-way humours and opinions-heads with some diverting twist in them—the oddities of authorship please me most. My cousin has a native disrelish of anything that sounds odd or bizarre. Nothing goes down with her that is quaint, irregular, or out of the road of common sympathy. She “ holds nature more clever.” I can pardon her blindness to the beautiful obliquities of the Religio Medici; but she must apologize to me for certain disrespectful insinuations, which she has been pleased to throw out latterly, touching the intellectuals of a dear favourite of mine, of the last century but one—the Shrice noble, chaste, and virtuous—but again somewhat fanastical, and original-brained, generous Margaret Newcastle.
It has been the lot of my cousin, oftener perhaps than I could have wished, to have had for her associates and mine, freethinkers-leaders and disciples of novel philosophies and