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The Ayrshire Legatees

by John Galt

Chapter 8

The Queen's Trial

 
 

As the spring advanced, the beauty of the country around Garnock was gradually unfolded; the blossom was unclosed, while the church was embraced within the foliage of more umbrageous boughs. The schoolboys from the adjacent villages were, on the Saturday afternoons, frequently seen angling along the banks of the Lugton, which ran clearer beneath the churchyard wall, and the hedge of the minister's glebe; and the evenings were so much lengthened, that the occasional visitors at the manse could prolong their walk after tea. These, however, were less numerous than when the family were at home; but still Mr. Snodgrass, when the weather was fine, had no reason to deplore the loneliness of his bachelor's court.

It happened that, one fair and sunny afternoon, Miss Mally Glencairn and Miss Isabella Tod came to the manse. Mrs. Glibbans and her daughter Becky were the same day paying their first ceremonious visit, as the matron called it, to Mr. and Mrs. Craig, with whom the whole party were invited to take tea; and, for lack of more amusing chit-chat, the Reverend young gentleman read to them the last letter which he had received from Mr. Andrew Pringle. It was conjured naturally enough out of his pocket, by an observation of Miss Mally's "Nothing surprises me," said that amiable maiden lady, "so much as the health and good-humour of the commonality. It is a joyous refutation of the opinion, that the comfort and happiness of this life depends on the wealth of worldly possessions."

"It is so," replied Mr. Snodgrass, "and I do often wonder, when I see the blithe and hearty children of the cottars, frolicking in the abundance of health and hilarity, where the means come from to enable their poor industrious parents to supply their wants."

"How can you wonder at ony sic things, Mr. Snodgrass? Do they not come from on high," said Mrs. Glibbans, "whence cometh every good and perfect gift? Is there not the flowers of the field, which neither card nor spin, and yet Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these?"

"I was not speaking in a spiritual sense," interrupted the other, "but merely made the remark, as introductory to a letter which I have received from Mr. Andrew Pringle, respecting some of the ways of living in London."

Mrs. Craig, who had been so recently translated from the kitchen to the parlour, pricked up her ears at this, not doubting that the letter would contain something very grand and wonderful, and exclaimed, "Gude safe's, let's hear't--I'm unco fond to ken about London, and the king and the queen; but I believe they are baith dead noo."

Miss Becky Glibbans gave a satirical keckle at this, and showed her superior learning, by explaining to Mrs. Craig the unbroken nature of the kingly office. Mr. Snodgrass then read as follows:-

LETTER XXV

Andrew Pringle, Esq,, to the Rev. Charles Snodgrass

My Dear Friend--You are not aware of the task you impose, when you request me to send you some account of the general way of living in London. Unless you come here, and actually experience yourself what I would call the London ache, it is impossible to supply you with any adequate idea of the necessity that exists in this wilderness of mankind, to seek refuge in society, without being over fastidious with respect to the intellectual qualifications of your occasional associates. In a remote desart, the solitary traveller is subject to apprehensions of danger; but still he is the most important thing "within the circle of that lonely waste"; and the sense of his own dignity enables him to sustain the shock of considerable hazard with spirit and fortitude. But, in London, the feeling of self- importance is totally lost and suppressed in the bosom of a stranger. A painful conviction of insignificance--of nothingness, I may say--is sunk upon his heart, and murmured in his ear by the million, who divide with him that consequence which he unconsciously before supposed he possessed in a general estimate of the world. While elbowing my way through the unknown multitude that flows between Charing Cross and the Royal Exchange, this mortifying sense of my own insignificance has often come upon me with the energy of a pang; and I have thought, that, after all we can say of any man, the effect of the greatest influence of an individual on society at large, is but as that of a pebble thrown into the sea. Mathematically speaking, the undulations which the pebble causes, continue until the whole mass of the ocean has been disturbed to the bottom of its most secret depths and farthest shores; and, perhaps, with equal truth it may be affirmed, that the sentiments of the man of genius are also infinitely propagated; but how soon is the physical impression of the one lost to every sensible perception, and the moral impulse of the other swallowed up from all practical effect.

But though London, in the general, may be justly compared to the vast and restless ocean, or to any other thing that is either sublime, incomprehensible, or affecting, it loses all its influence over the solemn associations of the mind when it is examined in its details. For example, living on the town, as it is slangishly called, the most friendless and isolated condition possible, is yet fraught with an amazing diversity of enjoyment. Thousands of gentlemen, who have survived the relish of active fashionable pursuits, pass their life in that state without tasting the delight of one new sensation. They rise in the morning merely because Nature will not allow them to remain longer in bed. They begin the day without motive or purpose, and close it after having performed the same unvaried round as the most thoroughbred domestic animal that ever dwelt in manse or manor-house. If you ask them at three o'clock where they are to dine, they cannot tell you; but about the wonted dinner-hour, batches of these forlorn bachelors find themselves diurnally congregated, as if by instinct, around a cozy table in some snug coffee-house, where, after inspecting the contents of the bill of fare, they discuss the news of the day, reserving the scandal, by way of dessert, for their wine. Day after day their respective political opinions give rise to keen encounters, but without producing the slightest shade of change in any of their old ingrained and particular sentiments.

Some of their haunts, I mean those frequented by the elderly race, are shabby enough in their appearance and circumstances, except perhaps in the quality of the wine. Everything in them is regulated by an ancient and precise economy, and you perceive, at the first glance, that all is calculated on the principle of the house giving as much for the money as it can possibly afford, without infringing those little etiquettes which persons of gentlemanly habits regard as essentials. At half price the junior members of these unorganised or natural clubs retire to the theatres, while the elder brethren mend their potations till it is time to go home. This seems a very comfortless way of life, but I have no doubt it is the preferred result of a long experience of the world, and that the parties, upon the whole, find it superior, according to their early formed habits of dissipation and gaiety, to the sedate but not more regular course of a domestic circle.

The chief pleasure, however, of living on the town, consists in accidentally falling in with persons whom it might be otherwise difficult to meet in private life. I have several times enjoyed this. The other day I fell in with an old gentleman, evidently a man of some consequence, for he came to the coffee-house in his own carriage. It happened that we were the only guests, and he proposed that we should therefore dine together. In the course of conversation it came out, that he had been familiarly acquainted with Garrick, and had frequented the Literary Club in the days of Johnson and Goldsmith. In his youth, I conceive, he must have been an amusing companion; for his fancy was exceedingly lively, and his manners altogether afforded a very favourable specimen of the old, the gentlemanly school. At an appointed hour his carriage came for him, and we parted, perhaps never to meet again.

Such agreeable incidents, however, are not common, as the frequenters of the coffee-houses are, I think, usually taciturn characters, and averse to conversation. I may, however, be myself in fault. Our countrymen in general, whatever may be their address in improving acquaintance to the promotion of their own interests, have not the best way, in the first instance, of introducing themselves. A raw Scotchman, contrasted with a sharp Londoner, is very inadroit and awkward, be his talents what they may; and I suspect, that even the most brilliant of your old class-fellows have, in their professional visits to this metropolis, had some experience of what I mean.

ANDREW PRINGLE.

When Mr. Snodgrass paused, and was folding up the letter, Mrs. Craig, bending with her hands on her knees, said, emphatically, "Noo, sir, what think you of that?" He was not, however, quite prepared to give an answer to a question so abruptly propounded, nor indeed did he exactly understand to what particular the lady referred. "For my part," she resumed, recovering her previous posture--"for my part, it's a very caldrife way of life to dine every day on coffee; broth and beef would put mair smeddum in the men; they're just a whin auld fogies that Mr. Andrew describes, an' no wurth a single woman's pains." "Wheesht, wheesht, mistress," cried Mr. Craig; "ye mauna let your tongue rin awa with your sense in that gait." "It has but a light load," said Miss Becky, whispering Isabella Tod. In this juncture, Mr. Micklewham happened to come in, and Mrs. Craig, on seeing him, cried out, "I hope, Mr. Micklewham, ye have brought the Doctor's letter. He's such a funny man! and touches off the Londoners to the nines."

"He's a good man," said Mrs. Glibbans, in a tone calculated to repress the forwardness of Mrs. Craig; but Miss Mally Glencairn having, in the meanwhile, taken from her pocket an epistle which she had received the preceding day from Mrs. Pringle, Mr. Snodgrass silenced all controversy on that score by requesting her to proceed with the reading. "She's a clever woman, Mrs. Pringle," said Mrs. Craig, who was resolved to cut a figure in the conversation in her own house. "She's a discreet woman, and may be as godly, too, as some that make mair wark about the elect." Whether Mrs. Glibbans thought this had any allusion to herself is not susceptible of legal proof; but she turned round and looked at their "most kind hostess" with a sneer that might almost merit the appellation of a snort. Mrs. Craig, however, pacified her, by proposing, "that, before hearing the letter, they should take a dram of wine, or pree her cherry bounce"--adding, "our maister likes a been house, and ye a' ken that we are providing for a handling." The wine was accordingly served, and, in due time, Miss Mally Glencairn edified and instructed the party with the contents of Mrs. Pringle's letter.

LETTER XXVI

Mrs. Pringle to Miss Mally Glencairn

Dear Miss Mally--You will have heard, by the peppers, of the gret hobbleshow heer aboot the queen's coming over contrary to the will of the nation; and, that the king and parlement are so angry with her, that they are going to put her away by giving to her a bill of divorce. The Doctor, who has been searchin the Scriptures on the okashon, says this is not in their poor, although she was found guilty of the fact; but I tell him, that as the king and parlement of old took upon them to change our religion, I do not see how they will be hampered now by the word of God.

You may well wonder that I have no ritten to you about the king, and what he is like, but we have never got a sight of him at all, whilk is a gret shame, paying so dear as we do for a king, who shurely should be a publik man. But, we have seen her majesty, who stays not far from our house heer in Baker Street, in dry lodgings, which, I am creditably informed, she is obligated to pay for by the week, for nobody will trust her; so you see what it is, Miss Mally, to have a light character. Poor woman, they say she might have been going from door to door, with a staff and a meal pock, but for ane Mr. Wood, who is a baillie of London, that has ta'en her by the hand. She's a woman advanced in life, with a short neck, and a pentit face; housomever, that, I suppose, she canno help, being a queen, and obligated to set the fashons to the court, where it is necessar to hide their faces with pent, our Andrew says, that their looks may not betray them--there being no shurer thing than a false- hearted courtier.

But what concerns me the most, in all this, is, that there will be no coronashon till the queen is put out of the way--and nobody can take upon them to say when that will be, as the law is so dootful and endless--which I am verra sorry for, as it was my intent to rite Miss Nanny Eydent a true account of the coronashon, in case there had been any partiklars that might be servisable to her in her bisness.

The Doctor and me, by ourselves, since we have been settlt, go about at our convenience, and have seen far mae farlies than baith Andrew and Rachel, with all the acquaintance they have forgathert with--but you no old heeds canno be expectit on young shouthers, and they have not had the experience of the world that we have had.

The lamps in the streets here are lighted with gauze, and not with crusies, like those that have lately been put up in your toun; and it is brought in pips aneath the ground from the manufactors, which the Doctor and me have been to see--an awful place--and they say as fey to a spark as poother, which made us glad to get out o't when we heard so;--and we have been to see a brew-house, where they mak the London porter, but it is a sight not to be told. In it we saw a barrel, whilk the Doctor said was by gauging bigger than the Irvine muckle kirk, and a masking fat, like a barn for mugnited. But all thae were as nothing to a curiosity of a steam-ingine, that minches minch collops as natural as life--and stuffs the sosogees itself, in a manner past the poor of nature to consiv. They have, to be shure, in London, many things to help work--for in our kitchen there is a smoking-jack to roast the meat, that gangs of its oun free will, and the brisker the fire, the faster it runs; but a potatoe-beetle is not to be had within the four walls of London, which is a great want in a house; Mrs. Argent never hard of sic a thing.

Me and the Doctor have likewise been in the Houses of Parliament, and the Doctor since has been again to heer the argol-bargoling aboot the queen. But, cepting the king's throne, which is all gold and velvet, with a croun on the top, and stars all round, there was nothing worth the looking at in them baith. Howsomever, I sat in the king's seat, and in the preses chair of the House of Commons, which, you no, is something for me to say; and we have been to see the printing of books, where the very smallest dividual syllib is taken up by itself and made into words by the hand, so as to be quite confounding how it could ever read sense. But there is ane piece of industry and froughgalaty I should not forget, whilk is wives going about with whirl-barrows, selling horses' flesh to the cats and dogs by weight, and the cats and dogs know them very well by their voices. In short, Miss Mally, there is nothing heer that the hand is not turnt to; and there is, I can see, a better order and method really among the Londoners than among our Scotch folks, notwithstanding their advantages of edicashion, but my pepper will hold no more at present, from your true friend,

JANET PRINGLE.

There was a considerable diversity of opinion among the commentators on this epistle. Mrs. Craig was the first who broke silence, and displayed a great deal of erudition on the minch-collop-engine, and the potatoe-beetle, in which she was interrupted by the indignant Mrs. Glibbans, who exclaimed, "I am surprised to hear you, Mrs. Craig, speak of sic baubles, when the word of God's in danger of being controverted by an Act of Parliament. But, Mr. Snodgrass, dinna ye think that this painting of the queen's face is a Jezebitical testification against her?" Mr. Snodgrass replied, with an unwonted sobriety of manner, and with an emphasis that showed he intended to make some impression on his auditors--"It is impossible to judge correctly of strangers by measuring them according to our own notions of propriety. It has certainly long been a practice in courts to disfigure the beauty of the human countenance with paint; but what, in itself, may have been originally assumed for a mask or disguise, may, by usage, have grown into a very harmless custom. I am not, therefore, disposed to attach any criminal importance to the circumstance of her majesty wearing paint. Her late majesty did so herself." "I do not say it was criminal," said Mrs. Glibbans; "I only meant it was sinful, and I think it is." The accent of authority in which this was said, prevented Mr. Snodgrass from offering any reply; and, a brief pause ensuing, Miss Molly Glencairn observed, that it was a surprising thing how the Doctor and Mrs. Pringle managed their matters so well. "Ay," said Mrs. Craig, "but we a' ken what a manager the mistress is--she's the bee that mak's the hincy--she does not gang bizzing aboot, like a thriftless wasp, through her neighbours' houses." "I tell you, Betty, my dear," cried Mr. Craig, "that you shouldna make comparisons--what's past is gane--and Mrs. Glibbans and you maun now be friends." "They're a' friends to me that's no faes, and am very glad to see Mrs. Glibbans sociable in my house; but she needna hae made sae light of me when she was here before." And, in saying this, the amiable hostess burst into a loud sob of sorrow, which induced Mr. Snodgrass to beg Mr. Micklewham to read the Doctor's letter, by which a happy stop was put to the further manifestation of the grudge which Mrs. Craig harboured against Mrs. Glibbans for the lecture she had received, on what the latter called "the incarnated effect of a more than Potipharian claught o' the godly Mr. Craig."

LETTER XXVII

The Rev. Z. Pringle, D.D., to Mr. Micklewham, Schoolmaster and Session-Clerk of Garnock

Dear Sir--I had a great satisfaction in hearing that Mr. Snodgrass, in my place, prays for the queen on the Lord's Day, which liberty, to do in our national church, is a thing to be upholden with a fearless spirit, even with the spirit of martyrdom, that we may not bow down in Scotland to the prelatic Baal of an order in Council, whereof the Archbishop of Canterbury, that is cousin-german to the Pope of Rome, is art and part. Verily, the sending forth of that order to the General Assembly was treachery to the solemn oath of the new king, whereby he took the vows upon him, conform to the Articles of the Union, to maintain the Church of Scotland as by law established, so that for the Archbishop of Canterbury to meddle therein was a shooting out of the horns of aggressive domination.

I think it is right of me to testify thus much, through you, to the Session, that the elders may stand on their posts to bar all such breaking in of the Episcopalian boar into our corner of the vineyard.

Anent the queen's case and condition, I say nothing; for be she guilty, or be she innocent, we all know that she was born in sin, and brought forth in iniquity--prone to evil, as the sparks fly upwards--and desperately wicked, like you and me, or any other poor Christian sinner, which is reason enough to make us think of her in the remembering prayer.

Since she came over, there has been a wonderful work doing here; and it is thought that the crown will be taken off her head by a strong handling of the Parliament; and really, when I think of the bishops sitting high in the peerage, like owls and rooks in the bartisans of an old tower, I have my fears that they can bode her no good. I have seen them in the House of Lords, clothed in their idolatrous robes; and when I looked at them so proudly placed at the right hand of the king's throne, and on the side of the powerful, egging on, as I saw one of them doing in a whisper, the Lord Liverpool, before he rose to speak against the queen, the blood ran cold in my veins, and I thought of their woeful persecutions of our national church, and prayed inwardly that I might be keepit in the humility of a zealous presbyter, and that the corruption of the frail human nature within me might never be tempted by the pampered whoredoms of prelacy.

Saving the Lord Chancellor, all the other temporal peers were just as they had come in from the crown of the causeway--none of them having a judicial garment, which was a shame; and as for the Chancellor's long robe, it was not so good as my own gown; but he is said to be a very narrow man. What he spoke, however, was no doubt sound law; yet I could observe he has a bad custom of taking the name of God in vain, which I wonder at, considering he has such a kittle conscience, which, on less occasions, causes him often to shed tears.

Mrs. Pringle and me, by ourselves, had a fine quiet canny sight of the queen, out of the window of a pastry baxter's shop, opposite to where her majesty stays. She seems to be a plump and jocose little woman; gleg, blithe, and throwgaun for her years, and on an easy footing with the lower orders--coming to the window when they call for her, and becking to them, which is very civil of her, and gets them to take her part against the government.

The baxter in whose shop we saw this told us that her majesty said, on being invited to take her dinner at an inn on the road from Dover, that she would be content with a mutton-chop at the King's Arms in London, {2} which shows that she is a lady of a very hamely disposition. Mrs. Pringle thought her not big enough for a queen; but we cannot expect every one to be like that bright accidental star, Queen Elizabeth, whose effigy we have seen preserved in armour in the Tower of London, and in wax in Westminster Abbey, where they have a living-like likeness of Lord Nelson, in the very identical regimentals that he was killed in. They are both wonderful places, but it costs a power of money to get through them, and all the folk about them think of nothing but money; for when I inquired, with a reverent spirit, seeing around me the tombs of great and famous men, the mighty and wise of their day, what department it was of the Abbey--"It's the eighteenpence department," said an uncircumcised Philistine, with as little respect as if we had been treading the courts of the darling Dagon.

{2} The honest Doctor's version of this bon mot of her majesty is not quite correct; her expression was, "I mean to take a chop at the King's Head when I get to London."

Our concerns here are now drawing to a close; but before we return, we are going for a short time to a town on the seaside, which they call Brighton. We had a notion of taking a trip to Paris, but that we must leave to Andrew Pringle, my son, and his sister Rachel, if the bit lassie could get a decent gudeman, which maybe will cast up for her before we leave London. Nothing, however, is settled as yet upon that head, so I can say no more at present anent the same.

Since the affair of the sermon, I have withdrawn myself from trafficking so much as I did in the missionary and charitable ploys that are so in vogue with the pious here, which will be all the better for my own people, as I will keep for them what I was giving to the unknown; and it is my design to write a book on almsgiving, to show in what manner that Christian duty may be best fulfilled, which I doubt not will have the effect of opening the eyes of many in London to the true nature of the thing by which I was myself beguiled in this Vanity Fair, like a bird ensnared by the fowler.

I was concerned to hear of poor Mr. Witherspoon's accident, in falling from his horse in coming from the Dalmailing occasion. How thankful he must be, that the Lord made his head of a durability to withstand the shock, which might otherwise have fractured his skull. What you say about the promise of the braird gives me pleasure on account of the poor; but what will be done with the farmers and their high rents, if the harvest turn out so abundant? Great reason have I to be thankful that the legacy has put me out of the reverence of my stipend; for when the meal was cheap, I own to you that I felt my carnality grudging the horn of abundance that the Lord was then pouring into the lap of the earth. In short, Mr. Micklewham, I doubt it is o'er true with us all, that the less we are tempted, the better we are; so with my sincere prayers that you may be delivered from all evil, and led out of the paths of temptation, whether it is on the highway, or on the footpaths, or beneath the hedges, I remain, dear sir, your friend and pastor, ZACHARIAH PRINGLE.

"The Doctor," said Mrs. Glibbans, as the schoolmaster concluded, "is there like himself--a true orthodox Christian, standing up for the word, and overflowing with charity even for the sinner. But, Mr. Snodgrass, I did not ken before that the bishops had a hand in the making of the Acts of the Parliament; I think, Mr. Snodgrass, if that be the case, there should be some doubt in Scotland about obeying them. However that may be, sure am I that the queen, though she was a perfect Deliah, has nothing to fear from them; for have we not read in the Book of Martyrs, and other church histories, of their concubines and indulgences, in the papist times, to all manner of carnal iniquity? But if she be that noghty woman that they say"- -"Gude safe's," cried Mrs. Craig, "if she be a noghty woman, awa' wi' her, awa' wi' her--wha kens the cantrips she may play us?"

Here Miss Mally Glencairn interposed, and informed Mrs. Craig, that a noghty woman was not, as she seemed to think, a witch wife. "I am sure," said Miss Becky Glibbans, "that Mrs. Craig might have known that." "Oh, ye're a spiteful deevil," whispered Miss Mally, with a smile to her; and turning in the same moment to Miss Isabella Tod, begged her to read Miss Pringle's letter--a motion which Mr. Snodgrass seconded chiefly to abridge the conversation, during which, though he wore a serene countenance, he often suffered much.

LETTER XXVIII

Miss Rachel Pringle to Miss Isabella Tod

My Dear Bell--I am much obliged by your kind expressions for my little present. I hope soon to send you something better, and gloves at the same time; for Sabre has been brought to the point by an alarm for the Yorkshire baronet that I mentioned, as showing symptoms of the tender passion for my fortune. The friends on both sides being satisfied with the match, it will take place as soon as some preliminary arrangements are made. When we are settled, I hope your mother will allow you to come and spend some time with us at our country-seat in Berkshire; and I shall be happy to repay all the expenses of your journey, as a jaunt to England is what your mother would, I know, never consent to pay for.

It is proposed that, immediately after the ceremony, we shall set out for France, accompanied by my brother, where we are to be soon after joined at Paris by some of the Argents, who, I can see, think Andrew worth the catching for Miss. My father and mother will then return to Scotland; but whether the Doctor will continue to keep his parish, or give it up to Mr. Snodgrass, will depend greatly on the circumstances in which he finds his parishioners. This is all the domestic intelligence I have got to give, but its importance will make up for other deficiencies.

As to the continuance of our discoveries in London, I know not well what to say. Every day brings something new, but we lose the sense of novelty. Were a fire in the same street where we live, it would no longer alarm me. A few nights ago, as we were sitting in the parlour after supper, the noise of an engine passing startled us all; we ran to the windows--there was haste and torches, and the sound of other engines, and all the horrors of a conflagration reddening the skies. My father sent out the footboy to inquire where it was; and when the boy came back, he made us laugh, by snapping his fingers, and saying the fire was not worth so much-- although, upon further inquiry, we learnt that the house in which it originated was burnt to the ground. You see, therefore, how the bustle of this great world hardens the sensibilities, but I trust its influence will never extend to my heart.

The principal topic of conversation at present is about the queen. The Argents, who are our main instructors in the proprieties of London life, say that it would be very vulgar in me to go to look at her, which I am sorry for, as I wish above all things to see a personage so illustrious by birth, and renowned by misfortune. The Doctor and my mother, who are less scrupulous, and who, in consequence, somehow, by themselves, contrive to see, and get into places that are inaccessible to all gentility, have had a full view of her majesty. My father has since become her declared partisan, and my mother too has acquired a leaning likewise towards her side of the question; but neither of them will permit the subject to be spoken of before me, as they consider it detrimental to good morals. I, however, read the newspapers.

What my brother thinks of her majesty's case is not easy to divine; but Sabre is convinced of the queen's guilt, upon some private and authentic information which a friend of his, who has returned from Italy, heard when travelling in that country. This information he has not, however, repeated to me, so that it must be very bad. We shall know all when the trial comes on. In the meantime, his majesty, who has lived in dignified retirement since he came to the throne, has taken up his abode, with rural felicity, in a cottage in Windsor Forest; where he now, contemning all the pomp and follies of his youth, and this metropolis, passes his days amidst his cabbages, like Dioclesian, with innocence and tranquillity, far from the intrigues of courtiers, and insensible to the murmuring waves of the fluctuating populace, that set in with so strong a current towards "the mob-led queen," as the divine Shakespeare has so beautifully expressed it.

You ask me about Vauxhall Gardens;--I have not seen them--they are no longer in fashion--the theatres are quite vulgar--even the opera- house has sunk into a second-rate place of resort. Almack's balls, the Argyle-rooms, and the Philharmonic concerts, are the only public entertainments frequented by people of fashion; and this high superiority they owe entirely to the difficulty of gaining admission. London, as my brother says, is too rich, and grown too luxurious, to have any exclusive place of fashionable resort, where price alone is the obstacle. Hence, the institution of these select aristocratic assemblies. The Philharmonic concerts, however, are rather professional than fashionable entertainments; but everybody is fond of music, and, therefore, everybody, that can be called anybody, is anxious to get tickets to them; and this anxiety has given them a degree of eclat, which I am persuaded the performance would never have excited had the tickets been purchasable at any price. The great thing here is, either to be somebody, or to be patronised by a person that is a somebody; without this, though you were as rich as Croesus, your golden chariots, like the comets of a season, blazing and amazing, would speedily roll away into the obscurity from which they came, and be remembered no more.

At first when we came here, and when the amount of our legacy was first promulgated, we were in a terrible flutter. Andrew became a man of fashion, with all the haste that tailors, and horses, and dinners, could make him. My father, honest man, was equally inspired with lofty ideas, and began a career that promised a liberal benefaction of good things to the poor--and my mother was almost distracted with calculations about laying out the money to the best advantage, and the sum she would allow to be spent. I alone preserved my natural equanimity; and foreseeing the necessity of new accomplishments to suit my altered circumstances, applied myself to the instructions of my masters, with an assiduity that won their applause. The advantages of this I now experience--my brother is sobered from his champaign fumes--my father has found out that charity begins at home--and my mother, though her establishment is enlarged, finds her happiness, notwithstanding the legacy, still lies within the little circle of her household cares. Thus, my dear Bell, have I proved the sweets of a true philosophy; and, unseduced by the blandishments of rank, rejected Sir Marmaduke Towler, and accepted the humbler but more disinterested swain, Captain Sabre, who requests me to send you his compliments, not altogether content that you should occupy so much of the bosom of your affectionate RACHEL PRINGLE.

"Rachel had ay a gude roose of hersel'," said Becky Glibbans, as Miss Isabella concluded. In the same moment, Mr. Snodgrass took his leave, saying to Mr. Micklewham, that he had something particular to mention to him. "What can it be about?" inquired Mrs. Glibbans at Mr. Craig, as soon as the helper and schoolmaster had left the room: "Do you think it can be concerning the Doctor's resignation of the parish in his favour?" "I'm sure," interposed Mrs. Craig, before her husband could reply, "it winna be wi' my gudewill that he shall come in upon us--a pridefu' wight, whose saft words, and a' his politeness, are but lip-deep; na, na, Mrs. Glibbans, we maun hae another on the leet forbye him."

"And wha would ye put on the leet noo, Mrs. Craig, you that's sic a judge?" said Mrs. Glibbans, with the most ineffable consequentiality.

"I'll be for young Mr. Dirlton, who is baith a sappy preacher of the word, and a substantial hand at every kind of civility."

"Young Dirlton!--young Deevilton!" cried the orthodox Deborah of Irvine; "a fallow that knows no more of a gospel dispensation than I do of the Arian heresy, which I hold in utter abomination. No, Mrs. Craig, you have a godly man for your husband--a sound and true follower; tread ye in his footsteps, and no try to set up yoursel' on points of doctrine. But it's time, Miss Mally, that we were taking the road; Becky and Miss Isabella, make yourselves ready. Noo, Mrs. Craig, ye'll no be a stranger; you see I have no been lang of coming to give you my countenance; but, my leddy, ca' canny, it's no easy to carry a fu' cup; ye hae gotten a great gift in your gudeman. Mr. Craig, I wish you a good-night; I would fain have stopped for your evening exercise, but Miss Mally was beginning, I saw, to weary--so good-night; and, Mrs. Craig, ye'll take tent of what I have said--it's for your gude." So exeunt Mrs. Glibbans, Miss Mally, and the two young ladies. "Her bark's waur than her bite," said Mrs. Craig, as she returned to her husband, who felt already some of the ourie symptoms of a henpecked destiny.

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
 

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