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nal was given, the women and girls ran all together into the back apartment to tie up their hair —and the young men to the door to wash their faces, and change their sabots : and in three minutes every soul was ready upon a little esplanade before the house to begin.— The old man and his wife came out last, and placing me betwixt them, sat down upon a sopha of turf by the door.
The old man had, some fifty years ago, been no mean performer upon the vielle—and, at the age he was then of, touched it well enough for the purpose. His wife sung now and then a little to the tune—then intermitted—and joined her old man again, as their children and grand-children danced before them.
It was not till the middle of the second dance, when, for some pauses in the movement wherein they all seem'd to look up, I fancied I could distinguish an elevation of spirit different from that which is the cause or the effect of simple jollity.In a word, I thought I beheld Religion mixing in the dance-but as I had never seen her so engaged, should have look'd upon it now as one of the illusions of an imagination which is eternally misleading me, had not the old man, as soon as the dance ended, said, that this was their constant way : and that all his life long, he made it a rule, after supper was over, to call out his family to dance and rejoice! believing, he said, that a cheerful and contented mind was the best sort of thanks to Heaven that an illiterate peasant could pay.-Or a learned prelate either, said I.
I HAVE not been a furlong from Shandy Hall since I wrote to you last—but why is my pen so perverse? I have been to *****, and my errand was of so peculiar a nature, that I must give you an account of it. You will scarce believe nie, when I tell you it was to out-juggle a juggling attorney ; to put craft and all its powers to defiance; and to obtain justice from one-who has a heart fell enough to take advantage of the mistakes of honest simplicity, and who has raised a considerable fortune by artifice and injustice. However, I gained my point!-it was a star and garter to me; the matter was as follows:
A poor man, the father of my Vestal, having, by the sweat of his brow, during a course of many laborious years, saved a small sun of money, applied to this scribe to put it out to use for him : this was done, and a bond given for the money.
- The honest man, having no place in his cottage which he thought sufficiently secure, put it in a hole in the thatch, which had served instead of a strong box to keep his money. In this situation the bond remained till the time of receiving his. interest drew nigh. But, alas! the rain which had done no mischief to his gold, had found out his paper security, and had rotted it to pieces ! It would be a difficult matter to paint the distress of the old countryman upon this discovery ;-he came to me weeping, and begged my advice and assistance !-it.cut me to the heart !
Frame to yourself the picture of a man upwards of sixty years of age—who having, with much penury and more toil, with the addition of a small legacy, scraped together about fourscore pounds to support him in the infirmities of old age, and to be a little portion for his child when he should be dead and gone-lost his little hoard at once-and, to aggravate his misfortune-by his own neglect and incaution.— If I was young, sir, (said he) my affliction would have been light
-and I might have obtained it again but I have lost my comfort when I most wanted it; my staff is taken from me when I cannot go alone; and I have nothing to expect in future life, but the unwilling charity of a parish officer.' Never in my whole life did I wish to be rich, with so good a grace, as at this time! What a luxury would it have been to have said to this afflicted fellow-creature, There is thy money-go thy ways—and be at peace.'
But, alus ! the Shandy family were never much encumbered with money; and I (the poorest of them all) could only assist him with good counsel ; --but I did not stop here.
I went myself with him 'to *****, where, by persuasion, threats, and some art, which (by the bye) in such a cause, and with such an opponent, was very justifiable.--I sent my poor client back to his home, with his comfort and his bond restored to him. Bravo! Bravo!
If a man has a right to be proud of any thing, it is of a good action, done as it ought to be, without any base interest lurking at the bottom of it.
LETTER VI. TO HIS FRIENDS.
EPITAPH ON A LADY.
COLUMNs and labour'd urns but vainly show
DR. SLOP AND OBADIAH, MEETING. IMAGINE to yourself, little, squat, uncourtly figure of a Dr. Slop, of about four feet and a half perpendicular height, with a breadth of back, and a susquipedality of belly, which might have done honour to a serjeant in the horse-guards.
Such were the outlines of Dr. Slop's figure, which—if you have read Hogarth's analysis of beauty, (and if you have not, I wish you would ;) -you must know, may as certainly be caricatured, and conveyed to the mind by three strokes as three hundred.
Imagine such a one,- for such, I say, were the outlines of Dr. Slop's figure, coming slowly along, foot by foot, waddling through the dirt upon the vertebræ of a little diminutive poney, of a pretty colour-but of strength-alack! scarce able to have made an amble of it, under such a fardel, had the roads been in an ambling condition. They were not. Imagine to yourself, Obadiah mounted upon a strong monster of a coach-horse, pricked into a full gallop, and making all practicable speed the adverse way.
Pray, sir, let me interest you a moment in this description.