« 이전계속 »
TWO LADIES OF GREAT DISTINCTION INTRODUCED.-SUPERIOR FINERY EVER SEEMS
TO CONFER SUPERIOR BREEDING.
, BURCHELL had scarce taken leave, and Sophia consented to dance with the chaplain, when my little
ones came running out to tell us that the Squire was come with a crowd of company. Upon our return, we
found our landlord with a couple of under-gentlemen, and two young ladies richly dressed, whom he introduced
as women of very great distinction and fashion from town. We happened not to have chairs enough for the whole company; but
; Mr. Thornhill immediately proposed that every gentleman should sit in a lady's lap. This I positively objected to, notwithstanding a look of disapprobation from
wife. Moses was therefore dispatched to borrow a couple of chairs; and, as we were in want of ladies to make up a set at country dances, the two gentlemen went with him in quest of a couple of partners.
Chairs and partners were soon provided. The gentlemen returned with my neighbour Flamborough's rosy daughters, flaunting with red top-knots. But an unlucky circumstance was not adverted to, though the Miss Flamboroughs were reckoned the very best of dancers in the parish, and understood the jig and the round-about to perfection, yet they were totally unacquainted with country dances. This at first discomposed us; however, after a little shoving and dragging, they at last went merrily on. Our music consisted of two fiddles, with a pipe and tabor. The moon shone bright ; Mr. Thornhill and my eldest daughter led up the ball, to the great delight of the spectators; for the neighbours, hearing what was going forward, came flocking about us. My girl moved with so much grace and vivacity, that my wife could not avoid discovering the pride of her heart, by assuring me that, though the little chit did it so cleverly, all the steps were stolen from herself. The ladies of the town strove hard to be equally easy, but without success. They swam, sprawled, languished, and frisked; but all would not do; the gazers, indeed, owned that it was fine; but neighbour Flamborough observed, that Miss Livy's feet seemed as pat to the music as its echo. After the dance had continued about an hour, the two ladies, who were apprehensive of catching cold, moved to break up the ball. One of them, I thought,
would make little Sophia quite another thing. My wife warmly assented to both ; adding, that there was nothing she more ardently wished than to give her girls a single winter's polishing. To this I I could not help replying, that their breeding was already superior to their fortune; and that greater refinement would only serve to make their poverty ridiculous, and give them a taste for pleasures they had no right to possess. “ And what pleasures,” cried Mr. Thornhill, “ do they not deserve to possess, who have so much in their power to bestow? As for my part,” continued he, “my fortune is pretty large ; love, liberty, and pleasure, are my maxims; but, curse me, if a settlement of half my estate could give my charming Olivia pleasure, it should be hers, and the only favour I would ask in return would be to add myself to the benefit.” I was not such a stranger to the world as to be ignorant that this was the fashionable cant to disguise the insolence of the basest proposal ; but I made an effort to suppress my resentment. Sir," cried I, “ the family which you now condescend to favour with your company has been bred with as nice a sense of honour as you. Any attempts to injure that may be attended with very dangerous consequences.
Honour, sir, is our only possession at present, and of that last treasure we must be particularly careful.” I was soon sorry for the warmth with which I had spoken this, when the young gentleman, grasping my hand, swore he commended my spirit, though he disapproved my suspicions. “As to your present hint," continued he, “I protest nothing was further from my heart than such a thought. No, by all that's tempting, the virtue that will stand a regular siege was never to my taste; for all my amours are carried by a coup de main."
The two ladies, who affected to be ignorant of the rest, seemed highly displeased with this last stroke of freedom, and began a very discreet and serious dialogue upon virtue. In this my wife, the chaplain, and I soon joined ; and the Squire himself was at last brought to confess a sense of sorrow for his former excesses. We talked of the pleasures of temperance, and of the sunshine in the mind unpolluted with guilt. I was so well pleased, that my little ones were kept up beyond the usual time, to be edified by so much good conversation. Mr. Thornhill even went beyond me, and demanded if I had any objection to giving prayers. I joyfully embraced the proposal ; and in this manner the night was passed in a most comfortable way, till at length the company began to think of returning. The ladies seemed
very unwilling to part with my daughters, for whom they had conceived a particular affection, and joined in a request to have the pleasure of their company at home. The Squire seconded the proposal, and my wife added her entreaties; the girls, too, looked upon me as if they wished to go. In this perplexity I made two or three excuses, which my daughters as readily removed; so that at last I was obliged to give a peremptory refusal ; for which we had nothing but sullen looks and short answers the whole day ensuing.
THE FAMILY ENDEAVOURS TO COPE WITH THEIR BETTERS. -THE MISERIES OF THE POOR
WHEN THEY ATTEMPT TO APPEAR ABOVE THEIR CIRCUMSTANCES.
NOW began to find that all my long and painful
lectures upon temperance, simplicity, and contentment, were entirely disregarded. The distinctions lately paid us by our betters awakened that pride which I had laid asleep, but not removed. Our windows again, as formerly, were filled with washes for the neck and face.
The sun was dreaded as an enemy to the skin without doors, and the fire as a spoiler of the complexion within. My wife observed, that rising too early would hurt her daughters' eyes, that working after dinner would redden their noses, and she convinced me that the hands never looked so white as when they did nothing. Instead, therefore, of finishing George's shirts, we now had them new-modelling their old gauzes, or flourishing upon catgut. The poor Miss Flamboroughs, their former gay companions, were cast off as mean acquaintance, and the whole conversation ran upon high life and high-lived company, with pictures, taste, Shakespeare, and the musical glasses.
But we could have borne all this, had not a fortune-telling gipsy come to raise us into perfect sublimity. The tawny sibyl no sooner appeared, than my girls came running to me for a shilling a-piece to cross her hand with silver. To say the truth, I was tired of being always wise, and could not help gratifying their request, because I