« السابقةمتابعة »
the reverse of its customary import: for evening is the time when the features of man are softened into the looks of kindness, and his voice into the whispers of love ; when
“ Beauty's pensive eye Asks from his heart the homage of a sigh.”—Campbell. According to Horace, or rather to Dryden (and such customs I suspect are not yet obsolete), it is the time which brings
“ The appointed hour of promis’d bliss,
And hides but to be found again."
“Wben Venus, throned in clouds of rosy hue,
Sacred to love and walks of tender joy."- Campbell. The evening, in fact, is the empire of woman, the period during which she enjoys her utmost height of power.
Whether she smiles on the still scene of domestic life, or, in all the gaiety of dress, irradiates the circles of fashion, or listens to the ardent protestations of love, we may exclaim with the poet,
“ Here Woman reigos !" Who, then, can wonder that evening is so general a favourite, connected as it is with such interesting feelings, and crowding upon our minds with a thousand pleasing images of stars and moonlight, beauty and bright eyes, love, leisure, amusement, and domestic felicity? For my own part, though I have past the meridian of life, and can no louger partake in the impassioned fervour and hearty gaieties of youth, yet to me evening never comes unwelcome. When not engaged with business or company, nothing pleases me better than a solitary hour after tea. With a good fire, and the simple apparatus of books, pen, ink, and paper, I am never at a loss for amusement. At these times I alternately read, and indulge myself in reflections on any thing which happens to strike me, and my commonplace-book can bear witness to the length, if not to the profundity of my speculations. However other amusements may pall, I seldom lose my relish for this ;
“ Nor sball e'er
For every future year.”- Akenside. The fruits of these Hours after Tea, I have now some thoughts of giving 'ha public. For a man voluntarily to keep writing without any com
manication of his efforts to others, is one of those occurrences of which we Deed not be sollicitous to increase the rarity. The propensity to impart is generally triumphant, and the fate of that author is truly pitiable who vainly looks around him for years in search of an outlet for bis productions. It is no less hard (and I give this illustration to enable my fair readers to see the extent of the hardship) than for a young beauty to pass a whole day unseen by any thing nearer the shape of a beau than the old family-gardener; or than for another of the sex, not quite so young and beautiful, to be an entire morning before she can meet with any one to relieve ber of a piece of scandal, which she is bursting with impatience to put into the regular channels of circulation.
Not to mention that a man's conscience will often accuse him of a want of generosity in keeping such valuable materials to bimself, he is apt now and then to have his imagination dilated with lofty conceptions of famo and aspirations after public applause. To struggle at all times with suc. cess against these suggestions of self-complacency and ambition, is perhaps beyond the ability of human nature; and they who are best acquainted with mankind, will not be most severe on a weakness which seldom fails to afford as much diversion to him who observes, as gratification to bim who indulges it.
Being in general too indolent to perplex myself with difficult subjects, it is not, perhaps, presumptnous to hope that my speculations may gain some favour with the fair sex, from this coincidence of our tastes. Like them I have but a slender relish for antiquarian researches into the secrets of ruios and grave-stones, and not having learned to fall in love with the rust of ages, I unite with them in their well-known preference of what is fresh and flourishing to what is monldering and antiquated. It would gratify the utmost extent of my ambition, if, when a new number of the Yorkshire Magazine is put into their hands, they should first turn to the Hours after Tea: that is, if they happen not to glance their eye by the way on a Soonet to Cupid, or Verses to Belioda, or an anecdote plentifully interspersed with dashes, or the Romantic Lover, a Tale, or some other allurement of that pature, to which it would be ineffectual not to concede all my claims to priority of notice.
It cannot be concealed that there are a number of witticisms of which a man will incur the risk, who writes professedly under the inspiration of tea. He may be taunted by one with the remark, that his productions will doubtless bear no slight analogy to milk and water. Another, perhaps, will logically ipsindate that the effect cappot fail to correspond to the canse, and that it would be vaig to expect vigorous thought from a brain heated with the weak vapour of an effusion of bohea.
These are sarcasms which, as they cannot alter the real state of the case, a writer may content himself with bearing. If he has merit, they cannot take it away, and if he has not, the calamity, I am afraid, is al. ready too serious to be aggravated by the most pointed witticism.
After what I have said, it would be useless to put in any further claims ot make any loftier professions. The world is growe too nice to take ani
author's merit on his simple word; otherwise, without the shame of singn. larity, I might be elaborately eloquent on my own qualifications. It will not, however, be wholly out of place to hint that I am occasionally subject to a well-known affection of the brain, which is apt to overwhelm the solitary student. Placed in an arm.chair before a warm fire, and
eppressed, perhaps, by the narcotic influence of the volame which I have just closed, I am not always able to resist the insidious approaches of sleep. The reader, therefore, must not be snrprised, if, tired with the intensebess of my meditations, I sometimes fall into a slumber, and instead of the productions of a waking mind, present him with the fights of a dream.
Q Sheffield, Feb. 12th, 1818.
THE CUP OF TEA.
“ Tantalus a labris sitiens fugientia captat
6 BUT my dear Sedley," said he, (as we parted at the corner of Market.
you are lately become quite a stranger at our houseWhy do you not more frequently give us a call? We shall at all times be most happy to see you to a friendly cup of tea."
Now, Mr. Editor, I am what the world calls rather a shy man, and require no small degree of encouragement to warm me into any thing like a social being. My worthy friend Freeman was not the odly person who had this cause of complaint; and, beginning at last to feel a little compunction for my cold and ungracious return to so many kind sollicitations, I resolved to embrace an early opportunity of discharging my conscience from all this load of obligation.
One fige evening, therefore, when the barometer of my spirits was a point higher than usual, apd still further improved by an extra glass of wine, I set out to pay my respects to the Freemans. As I approached the house, I observed that the windows of the drawing-room were closed, and on giving my usual solitary rap, Freeman himself appeared at the door instead of his servant. He welcomed me with all that frankness and good-nature which belonged to his character; and I was hurried, without ceremony, ioto the parlour, where I foued Mrs. Freeman surrounded by her young family. She arose in evident confusion, with an apology for the dishabille in which I had surprised her. To say the truth, her lord and master had committed a slight impropriety in this hasty introduction ; for his lady was not precisely in that situation in whieh pice and delicate women choose to be seen. Notwithstanding the lateness of the boar, her hair was yet in papers ; and her coinplexion had certainly very little of that freshness, which is produced by the recent application of water. Nor could her employment, however useful, lay much claim to the character of dignity, for she was literally engaged in repairing the ravages which time had made in one of my friend's shirts. Her eldest girl was buey ju
the hamble occupation of mending stockings; the two yoanger were combing their hair at one corner of the work-table, while little Dick and Ben were amusing themselves by drawing figures on the carpet with chalk.
My embarrassment was scarcely less than Mrs. Freeman’s ; and I slunk aukwardly enough to a vacant chair in the chimney-corner, muttering something like an excuse for my intrusion at so unseasonable an hour.
“ I beg, sir,” said she, “ you will not suppose that we are not at all times happy to see you ; but I confess, Mr. Freeman, it is very strange you should never have hinted to Mr. Sedley, that Monday is onr day of all-work, when it is impossible we can make our friends quite £0 comfortable as on other days - and besides, you know, Rachael left us last week, and we are now reduced to one pair of hands in the kitehen.” · Why, my dear, how could I possibly anticipate the girl's quitting our service so suddenly? and you surely did not expect me to run round our circle of acquaintance, merely to inform them of such a circumstance. Sedley is not a man of punctilio, and will, I know, take his place at our tea-table, with all the freedom of an old friend.” Mrs. Freeman offered no reply, but immediately withdrew with her little group, and was succeeded by Jenny with the brush and coal-pan, during whose operations an almost profound silence prevailed, interrupted only by a single remark of Mr. Freeman's on the fiveness of the evening. The re-entrance of his lady, whose appearance was certainly no worse for the labours of the last balt? hour, did not afford us much relief. She had by no means recovered her good-humour-Freeman's loquacity was gone--and as the unfortunate cause of the disturbance, I sat atterly disconcerted, twisting my pocketkandkerchief round my fingers, and in a condition only to be envied by a man just dropping down the Channel for Botany-Bay. My feelings at length became too painful to be longer endured, and I resolved upon attemptiog an escape. This, luckily, did not prove a very difficult matter. A stammering excuse for curtailing my visit, with a promise to repeat it at an early period, were accepted amidst a thousand professions of cordial regard ; and in less than twenty minutes, I found myself, to my unspeak. able satisfaction, taking a friendly cup of tea in my favourite two-armed
Notwithstanding this disappointment, I summoned sufficient courage in aboat a fortnight, to call upon a lady. to whom I had been recently introduced, and from whom I had received several notes, containing the most flattering assurances of friendship, and a general invitation to her tea-table. Now at once to put a stop to all those sneers and whisperings and surinises, which the mention of this circumstance may probably produce, I do hereby solemnly affirm and declare, hat although the lady In question had not thought proper to take upon herself the manifold cares and anxieties of the marriage-state, yet she had atiained so discreet an age, that malice herself dared got hint a single suspicion of impropriety. Victoria was one of the honourable tribe of book-makers, and had condescended to oblige the world with half a dozen good-sized tomes of prose and verse. This favour it had repaid by a tribute of silent gratitude, never
having uttered one word upon the subject, good, bad, or indifferent; and those harmless yolumes, s falling dead-born from the press," had happily escaped the envy of contemporaries, the malice of crities, and all the other chances and changes of this mortal life.
On my entering the room, Victoria rose and gave me a most gracious reception. Not so a gentleman who was reposing himself on a crimson , cushion in one corner of the sopha, and who, far from imitatiog the politeness of his mistress, the moment he saw me, sprung from his couch, and endeavoured rather abruptly to effect his retreat. The feeling was matual; for my antipathy to a Cat is so powerful, that the sight of one never fails to throw me into a trepidation of Derves, which
bitterest enemy would pity. Io my hurry to let him pass, I unfortunately trod upon à part which, both in two and four legged animals, has been generally colisidered a very graceful appendage. This salute was repaid by a solo, “- so "musical, so melancholy,” that, aided by the screams of Victoria and the ring of the bell, which she now pulled with great violence, it brought the entire posse of servants to our assistance. A warm fomentation was in. stantly applied to poor Toby's tail, which was carefully inclosed in a bandage, and he was packed off to bed, still delighting us with a contiDuation of his music, now swelled into a most melodious concert by the groans and wailings of the whole house.
You may readily imagine the pitiable condition of the author of all this wischief. I stood thrumming upon the mantle-piece with my fingers-covered with confusion, and bitterly lamenting my ill luck. Peace being at length restored, I tried to recover my composure, and in order to calm the agitation of my fair friend after so untoward an accideut, I introduced a snbject which of all others is most agreeable to the feelings of an author. An hour's conversation upon various passages in Victoria's last novel, had entirely obliterated the remembrance of Toby's mishap, and soothed her into a delightful complacency of mind, when our perves were again alarmed by five loud and smart raps at the door, which were soon followed by the announceinept of Mr. Mildmay. “ Bless me, Mr. Sedley," said she, "what a strange forgetful creature I am! It had totally es. caped my recollection that I had appointed my solicitor to call this evening to peruse the title deeds of a small estate I am about to purchase, and to transact some other particular business: how truly unfortunate that this circumstance should
occur at the very time when you have favoured me with this long-expected visit.”. This pathetic exclamation totally extiuguished all my remaining courage; I could not utter a syllable, and was unspeakably relieved by the appearance of the gentleman in question. I could not help admiring the lady's choice of a legal adviser. He was young, uncommonly handsome, his conversation lively, and his man. bers elegant and insinuating. His presence seemed to excite a species of emotion in my fair friend, which I fancy is not often produced by the readers of rent-rolls and' title-deeds. The moment Mr. Mildmay entered the room, the usual faint colour of Victoria's cheek mantled into a glowing crimson; and as she introduced him to my acquaintance, her voice and manger did not precisely indicațe that cooldess and self-possessiou so