« ForrigeFortsæt »
FOR THE PORT FOLIO.-THE SALAD, NO. V.
BY CHRISTOPHER CROTCHET.
Hor. lib. 3. ode 16.
My friend, Lyttleton Honeysuckle, has lately removed out of town, to prove the blessings of retirement. We have resolved, however, to maintain a regular epistolary correspondence, on fashionable topics, and as his leisure effusions may be of some service, particularly to my fair readers, I shall consult their benefit, without regarding the suggestions of fastidious casuistry.
To CHRISTOPHER CROTCHET, ESQUIRE.
Agreeably to the determination, I communicated to you, over the last dish of coffee and toast we enjoyed together, I havc fixed myself at the little villa, where I intend to lay my bones. An old bachelor, who exists ex tempore, and owes no obligation to futurity, save such as concerns his conscience, should surely be contented in any place, and trust me, dear Christopher, I have not come hither, through spleen or disappointment.
My ancestors all spent the evening of their days, amid those very groves, which now surround me; and as I meet in
rambles a venerable oak, that has survived the rude tempests of ages, under whose shade, peradventure, those honest patriarchs may have refreshed their spirits, from the fervour of midsummer, I hail it as a friend, who recounts with rapture, scenes long passed
away, and brings tidings of a life of innocence and ease.
Having shuffled off two score years among the polite frivolities of the town, it is this kind of life, to which I shall dedicate myself hereafter. But do not imagine, that I intend to divorce
cheerfulness, and assume the austerity of an ascetic. Heaven forbid! Laughter is one of our particular characteristics, and I proudly appreciate myself, for belonging to the sect of laughing philosophers. The world is a farce, and he, who plays his part most merrily, should bear the palm of wisdom.
My chateau has been standing more than one century and a half; yet time does not appear so much in her ravages, as . in its antique style and ornaments. It is constructed of brick, certainly the first manufactured in America according to approved tradition. The windows are high, small, and arched after the Saracenic model. Its walls are hung with tapestry, which records the whole biography of the most famous demigods; whilst the parlour ceiling gives in high relief, the melting tale of Niobe and her children, or a full chronological series of family portraits, hangs around in sullen fresco. Over the dining-room fire-place, between two ancient salmon-coloured Chinese mandarins, rests the Dutch pipe of my grandfather. He was an humourist; and had this very pipe, with three tobacco leaves, engraved upon his tomb, as an emblem of the greatest blessing beneath the stars. Does not this look like a reflection upon my grandmother?
A pleasant streamlet which meanders over beds of pebble, and presents the most picturesque scenery, forms the eastern boundary of my grounds. On a neighbouring rock of granite, there appears something like an inscription, that has puzzled the whole band of cognoscenti and dilletanti throughout the land. A certain worthy sage with a monterio cap upon his head, who had travelled to the pillars of Herculus, and inspected every rarity between Dan and Beersheba, declared it was an Hebrew sentence, and demonstrated beyond doubt, that part of the flock of Abraham had visited our continent long before Colon or even prince Madoc. My uncle Trismegistus, who bequeathed to posterity, five books on the tails of tadpoles, three on the wings of grashoppers, two on a Roman sixpence, found at the bottom of the Tyber, and twelve on the pyramids and obelisks of Egypt, mainta ed the aforsaid inscription to be Greek, and unless he was mistaken, it would seem, the very hand writing of Pericles
himself. But a hoary-headed sachem among the Indians resolved the mystery by informing us, that his tribe had always sharpened their arrows on this identical rock, and occasioned those ambiguous characters in the operation.
Within the neighbourhood of my chateau, our fair country. women are peculiarly remarkable for every grace of beauty and endowment of the understanding. The precepts of education fall on their minds, like dews distilling upon the mulberry of Calabria and producing the most delicious manna. Indeed it fills my
old heart with ecstasy, when I mingle among those interesting females. Here, you never behold the ociliad of coquetry orthe simperofaffectation, the wrinkle of ridicule or the forehead of pride, the flounting attire of wealth or the rag's of slothful poverty. Envy is excluded by general competence; and the arts of imported politeness appear unknown. What a contrast to the manners of the city! There, Fashion and Folly hold divided sway, glittering in the pomp of gewgaws, and charming with the melody of French airs and Italian madrigals. All kneel before the toilette, and Sylphs are the saints of their worship.
Amurath, califf of Bagdat, was distinguished throughout the east, on account of his splendour and magnificence. His robes exhibited the most gorgeous tissue of gold and silver; his turban contained in front, a crescent, where the topaz and amethyst the sapphire and ruby lent their rays to dazzle every eye. During his visits to the mosque, an old bonze frequently crossed his course, and gazed with fixed enthusiasm. At length falling prostrate before the califf, he fervently cxpressed his gratitude, for being afforded gratuitously such a spectacle of grandeur. Agreeably to this estimate, how liberal are your belles publicly emulating peacocks and butterflies, and wearing in jewels, a thousand beeves upon their bodies, when the gallery of the mountebank commands its price, and every raree show-box gains its shilling for a peep.
Not many evenings ago, I met at a rustic wedding, some of my old acquaintances from town. Among the rest, that pink of gallantry and paragon of taste Belinda Blossom. Miss Lucretia Lovelace had likewise received a card. She however lamented
that the recent death of her nephew compelled her absence. Oh! how.impolite, how outrageously undutiful to dress up in mourning weeds, a damsel, that would have shone in the splendid pieballed. trappings of the ton. How little resembling the magnanimity of Democritus! When the philosopher of Abdera was labouring under his last affliction, he overheard his landlady sorely grieve, that she should be prevented from partaking of a rich banquet with her neighbours, as there would be a corpse in her custody. Wherefore, although his extremities foretold that fate was nigh, he took a loaf of bread, newly baked, and pouring Falernian wine into it, lived upon its odour, until the feast was finished; when he willingly resigned a spirit, always reluctant to mar the mirth of his companions.
Miss Belinda Blossom is eminently conspicuous in balls, squeezes, routs, or simple tea-parties, and always presides as queen at every Twelfth-night entertainment. It is said, she charitably supports half a dozen French milliners, out of her own ridicule, and manages a correspondence with each important city of Europe, that she may receive the earliest advices of any change or revolution in the costume of its courts. Accordingly, she is the first to display the model of an imperial slip or birth-day curricle. Her wardrobe cost inore than the famed Bodlean library; and, in truth, might be converted into the cabinet of a virtuoso. Among other precious commodities, she exults in the possession of a broach of Anne Bulleyn, the pearls and owches of lady Dorset, and the nose-rings, ear-bobs and feathers of the princess Pocahontas; being parapharnalia, that have descended through three generations of the Blossom family. Every element and clime have afforded their tribute of decoration:
Upon the present occasion, she wore a flaming red velvet, thickly bespangled, and being pretty nearly of the same admeasurement, both as to her polar and equatorial diameters, looked for all the world, like my grandmother's big levee pincushion. This accomplished belle, notwithstanding she has cleared out seven winters successively, on a voyage to Newyork and a market, still remains among the catalogue of maidens. An eminent lord high chancellor of England, during the reign
of Harry the Eighth, was offered by his friend, the choice of three daughters in matrimony. The youngest was his favourite; but to prevent any mortification, which might arise from slighting the claims of seniority, he obligingly bestowed his hand on the first-born. This punctilio of parlour chivalry, being obsolete among the courtiers of modern days, Miss Blossom, although the eldest of five sisters, has been postponed to all of them. Her failures she attributes entirely to the pitiable rotundity of her figure; and loudly exclaims against her mamina and papa, declaring that two such chunky, budgetty, turnip-shaped, squashformed animals as they, should never have thought the tythe part of a moment, on marriage. What a pity, dear Christopher, that your good old theorising progenitor cannot raise up his head from the grave, to explain to her one of his favourite projects!*
Miss Belinda, however, suffers the neglect of our sex, with the fortitude and philosophy of Patient Grizzle; and to show the
Friend Lyttleton here alludes to a curious project of my grandfather Casio wallader, for imparting every endowment of perfect beauty mathematically, without any reference, however, to the harmonic triangle of Pythagoras. The hint was perhaps originally derived from lord Verulam’s Sylva Sylvarum or Natural Philosophy (Cent. 1. 28.) and is withal so curiously extended, that I may in some future paper, descant upon it. At present, let the following extract suffice.-Parents, it is true, are highly responsible for the form and features of their children. But there is no necessity of taking the pains to match man and wife, that Frederic of Prussia used to get a corps of grenadiers. Hymen may throw size ace, or two aces together, and yet the hii be good. The Chinese manufacture the sweet little feet of their females, in iron slippers—Bears lick their cubs, into the most marvellous symmetry--The ancients framed th:: macrocephali, or lank and lean-headed logiciens, by manual pressure Apples may be made to assume the configuration of pears; or pears, that of apples-Our faces and limbs are just as plastic-By due art and cultivation, daughters may prove as fair as Lais or Aspasia; and sons graceful as Apollo or Alcibiadles. After the same manageinent, I can bestow on ambitious personages, the stutter of Demosthenes, the wart of Tully, the crooked neck of Alexander, the bandy legs of Marius, the altitude of John of Gaunt, the belly of Cardinal Wolsey, or the hump-back of Richard.--Crochets miscellanies, in manuscript, No. XIV.