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been lately dubbed a knight for his services to the crown in bringing up a county address; his father, Mr. David Thimble, had been an eminent tailor in the precincts of St. Clement's, in which business he had, by his industry and other methods raised a very respectable fortune in money, book-debts, and remnants : in his latter years, Mr. Thimble purchased a considerable estate in Essex, with a fine old mansion upon it, the last remaining property of an ancient family. This venerable seat during the life of Mr. Thimble remained uncontaminated by the presence of its possessor, but upon his death it fell into the occupation of young Theodore, who disdaining the cross-legg’d art, by which his father had worked himself into opulence, set out upon a new establishment, and figured off as the first gentleman of his family: he served as sheriff of the county, and acquired great reputation in that high office by the elegant and well-cut liveries, which he exhibited at the assizes; a lucky address from the county gave him a title, and the recommendation of a good settlement procured him his present lady, whom we have been describing.
As I have been in long habits of friendship with the worthy citizen her father, I could not resist the many pressing invitations he gave me to pay a visit to his daughter and Sir Theodore at their country seat, especially as he prefaced it by assuring me I should see the happiest couple in England; and that, although I had frequently opposed his system of education, I should now be convinced that Arabella made as good a housewife, and understood the conduct of her family as well, as if she had studied nothing else, and this he was sure I would confess, if he could prevail with me to accompany him to her house.
On the day following this conversation we set out
together, and in a few hours found ourselves at the promised spot: as I remembered this fine old mansion in the days of its primitive simplicity, when I was ushered to its gate through a solemn avenue of branching elms, that arched over-head in lofty foliage, and formed an approach in perfect unison with the ancient fashion of the place, I must own I was much revolted to find that Sir Theodore had begun his improvements with a specimen of his father's art, by cutting an old coat into a new fashion : my favourite avenue no longer existed; the venerable tenants of the soil were rooted up, and a parcel of dotted clumps, composed of trumpery shrubs, substituted in their places; I was the more disgusted, when I perceived that by the nonsensical zigzaggery of the road, through which we meandered, I was to keep company with these newfashioned upstarts, through as many parallels, as would serve for the regular approaches to a citadel. At one of these turnings, however, I caught the glimpse of a well-dressed gentleman standing in a very becoming attitude, who I concluded must be the master of the mansion waiting our approach ; and as I perceived he had his hat under his arm, expecting us with great politeness and civility, I instantly took mine from my head, and called to our driver to stop the carriage, for that I perceived Sir Theodore was come out to meet us. My companion was at this time exceedingly busy in directing my attention to the beauties of his son-in-law's improvements, so that I had stopped the chaise before he observed what I was looking at; but how
I surprised to find, in place of Sir Theodore, a leaden statue on a pair of scates painted in a blue and gold coat, with a red waistcoat, whose person upon closer examination I recollected to have been acquainted with some years ago, amongst the elegant
group, which a certain celebrated artist exhibits to the amusement of stage coaches and country waggons, upon their entrance into town at Hyde-park corner! I was happy to find that this ridiculous mistake, instead of embarrassing my friend, occasioned infinite merriment, and was considered as so good a joke by all the family upon our arrival, that I am persuaded it was in the mind of the improver when he placed him there; for the jest was followed up by several other party-coloured personages cast to the life, gentlemen and ladies, who were airing themselves upon pedestals, to the no small delight of my companion; and though most of these witticisms in lead were of the comic cast, one group, of a mountebank in the act of drawing an old woman's tooth, was calculated to move the contrary passion; and this I observed was the last in the company, standing in view from the windows of the house, as the moral of the fable. We now entered a Chinese fence through a gate of the same fashion, to the side of which was affixed a board, on which I observed, at some distance, a writing in fair characters; this I suspected to be some classical text, which my Lady had set up to impress her visitors with a due respect for her learning, but upon a near approach I found it contained a warning to all interlopers, that men-traps and spring-guns were concealed in those walks.
In this dangerous defile we were encountered by a servant in livery, who was dispatched in great haste to stop our driver, and desire us to alight, as the gravel was newly laid down, and a late shower had made it very soft; my friend readily obeyed the arrest, but I confess the denunciation of traps and guns were so formidable to my mind, that I took no step but with great circumspection and forecast, for fear I was treading on a mine, or touching a spring
with my foot, and was heartily glad when I found myself on the steps, though even these I examined with some suspicion, before I trusted myself upon them.
As we entered the house, my friend the merchant whispered me, that we were now in my lady's regions ; all without doors was Sir Theodore's taste, all within was hers;'-—But as here a new scene was opened, I shall reserve my account to another paper.
Our visit to Sir Theodore and Lady Thimble being unexpected, we were shewn into the common parlour, where this happy couple were sitting over a good fire with a middle-aged man of athletic size, who was reposing in an elbow-chair, in great state, with his mull in his hand, and with an air so selfimportant, as plainly indicated him to be the dictator of this domestic circle.
When the first salutations were over, Lady Thimble
gave her orders to the servant, in the style of Lucullus, to prepare The Apollo, declaring herself ashamed to receive a gentleman of talents in any other apartment; I beseeched her to let us remain where we were, dreading a removal from a comfortable fire-side to a cold stately apartment, for the season was severe; I was so earnest in my request, that Sir Theodore ventured in the most humble manner to second my suit; the consequence of which was a smart reprimand, accompanied with one of those expressive looks, which ladies of high prerogative in their own houses occasionally bestow to
husbands under proper subjection, and I saw with pity the poor gentleman dispatched for his officiousness upon a freezing errand through the great hall, to see that things were in order, and make report when they were ready. I could not help giving my friend the merchant a significant look upon casion ; but he prudently kept silence, waiting with great respect the dreadful order of march.
My lady now introduced me to the athletic philosopher in the elbow-chair, who condescended to relax one half of his features into a smile, and with a gracious waving of his hand, or rather fist, dismissed me back again to my seat without uttering a sylla. ble. She then informed me, that she had a treat to give me, which she flattered herself would be a feast entirely to my palate; I assured her ladyship I was always happiest to take the family-dinner of my friends, adding, that in truth the sharp air had sufficiently whetted my appetite to recommend much humbler fare, than I was likely to find at her tablé. She smiled at this, and told me, it was the food of the mind she was about to provide for mé: she undertook for nothing else; culinary concerns were not her province; if I was hungry, she hoped there would be something to eat, but for her part she left the care of her kitchen to those who lived in it. Whilst she was saying this, methought the philoso pher gave
her a look, that seemed to say he was of my way of thinking; upon which she rung the bell, and ordered dinner to be held back for an hour, saying to the philosopher she thought we might have a canto in that time.
She now paused for some time, fixing her eyes upon him in expectation of an answer; but none being given nor any signal of assent, she rose, and observing that it was surprising to think what Sir Theodore could be about all this while, for she was