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This, too, has been increased, by the altercations and heart-burnings which are continually taking place in his family. His children have been brought up to different callings, and are of different ways of thinking; and as they have always been allowed to speak their mind freely, they do not fail to exercise the privilege most clamorously in the present posture of his affairs. Some stand up for the honour of the race, and are clear that the old establishment should be kept up in all its state, whatever may be the cost; others, who are more prudent and considerate, entreat the old gentleman to retrench his expenses, and to put his whole system of housekeeping on à more moderate footing. He has, indeed, at times, seemed inclined to listen to their opinions, but their wholesome advice has been completely defeated by the obstreperous conduct of one of his sons. This is a noisy rattle-pated fellow, of rather low habits, who neglects his business to frequent ale-houses—is the orator of village clubs, and a complete oracle, among the poorest of his father's tenants. No sooner does he hear any of his brothers mention reform or retrenchment, than up he jumps, takes the words out of their mouths, and roars out for an overturn. When his tongue is once going, nothing can stop it. He rants about the room; hectors the old man about his spendthrift practices; ridicules his tastes and pursuits; insists that he shall turn the old servants out of doors; give the broken down horses to the hounds; send the fat. chaplain packing, and take a field preacher in his place-nay, that the whole family mansion shall be levelled with the ground, and a plain one of brick and mortar built in its place. He rails at every social entertainment and family festivity, and skulks away growling to the ale-house whenever an equipage drives up to the door. Though constantly complaining of the emptiness of his purse, yet he scruples not to spend all his pocket-money in these tavern convocations, and even runs up scores, for the liquor over which he preaches about his father's extravagance.
It may readily be imagined how little such thwarting agrees with the old cavalier's fiery temperament. He has become so irritable, from repeated crossings, that the mere mention of retrenchment or reform is a signal for a brawl between him and the tavern oracle. As the latter is too sturdy and refractory for paternal discipline, having grown out of all fear of the cudgel, they have fre
quent scenes of wordy warfare, which at times run so high, that John is fain to call in the aid of his son Tom, an officer who was served abroad, but is at present living at home, on half pay. This last is sure to stand by the old gentleman, right or wrong; likes nothing so much as a racketing roystering life; and is ready, at a wink or nod, to out sabre, and flourish it over the orator's head, if he dares to array himself against paternal authority.
These family dissensions, as usual, have got abroad, and are rare food for scandal in John's neighbourhood. People begin to look wise, and shake their heads, whenever his affairs are mentioned. They all “hope that matters are not so bad with him as represented; but when a man's own children begin to rail at his extravagance, things must be badly managed. They understand he is mortgaged over head and ears, and is continually dabbling with money lenders. He is certainly an openhanded old gentleman, but they fear he has lived too fast; indeed, they never knew any good come of this fondness for hunting, racing, revelling, and prize-fighting. In short, Mr. Bull's estate is a very fine one, and has been in the family a long while; but for all that, they have known many finer estates come to the hammer."
What is worst of all, is the effect which these pecuniary embarrassments and domestic feuds have had on the poor man himself. Instead of that jolly round corporation, and snug rosy face, which he used to present, he has of late become as shrivelled and shrunk as a frostbitten apple. His scarlet gold-laced waistcoat, which bellied out so bravely in those prosperous days when he sailed before the wind, now hangs loosely about him like a mainsail in a calm. His leather breeches are all in folds and wrinkles, and apparently have much ado to hold up the boots that yawn on both sides of his once sturdy legs.
Instead of strutting about as formerly, with his threecornered hat on one side ; flourishing his cudgel, and bringing it down every moment with a hearty thump upon the ground; looking every one sturdily in the face, and trolling out a stave of a catch or a drinking song; he now goes about whistling thoughtfully to himself with his head drooping down, his cudgel tucked under his arm, and his hands thrust to the bottom of his breeches pockets, which are evidently empty.
Such is the plight of honest John Bull at present; yet
for all this the old fellow's spirit is as tall and as gallant as ever. If you drop the least expression of sympathy or concern, he takes fire in an instant; swears that he is the richest, and stoutest fellow in the country; talks of laying out large sums to adorn his house or to buy another estate; and, with a valiant swagger and grasping of his cudgel, longs exceedingly to have another bout at quarterstaff,
Though there may be something rather whimsical in all this, yet I confess I cannot look upon John's situation without strong feelings of interest,“ With all his odd humours and obstinate prejudices, he is a sterling hearted old blade. He may not be so wonderfully fine a fellow as he thinks himself, but he is at least twice as good as his neighbours represent him. His virtues are all his own; all plain, home-bred and unaffected. His very faults smack of the raciness of his good qualities. His extravagance savours of his generosity; his quarrelsomeness of his courage; his credulity of his open faith ; his vanity of his pride; and his bluntness of his sincerity. They are all the redundancies of a rich and liberal character. He is like his own oak; rough without, but sound and solid within; whose bark abounds with excrescences in proportion to the growth and grandeur of the timber; and whose branches make a fearful groaning and murmuring in the least storm, from their very magnitude and luxuriance. There is something, too, in the appearance of his old family mansion, that is extremely poetical and picturesque; and, as long as it can be rendered comfortably habitable, I should almost tremble to see it meddled with during the present conflict of tastes and opinions. Some of his advisers are no doubt good architects that might be of service; but many I fear are: mere levellers, who, when they had once got to work with their mattocks on the venerable edifice, would never stop until they had brought it to the ground, and perhaps buried themselves among the ruins. All that I wish is, that John's present troubles may teach him more prudence in future. That he may cease to distress his mind about other people's affairs; that he may give up the fruitless attempt to promote the good of his neighbours, and the peace and happiness of the world, by dint of the cudgel; that he may remain quietly at home; gradually get his house into repair; cultivate his rich estate according to his fancy; husband his income-if he
thinks proper; bring his unruly children into order-if he can; renew the jovial scenes of ancient prosperity; and long enjoy, on his paternal lands, a green, an honourable, and a merry old age,
The doctor now felt all the dignity of a landholder rising within him. He had a little of the German pride of territory in his composition, and almost looked upon himself as owner of a principality. He began to complain of the fatigue of business; and, was fond of riding out “to look at his estate." His little expeditions to his lands were attended with a bustle and parade that created a sensation throughout the neighbourhood. His wall-eyed horse stood stamping, and whisking off the flies, for a full hour before the house. Then the doctor's saddle-bags would be brought out and adjusted; then, after a little while, his cloak would be rolled up and strapped to the saddle; then his umbrella would be buckled to the cloak; while, in the mean time, a group of ragged boys, that observant class of beings would gather before the door. At length the doctor would issue forth, in a pair of jack-boots that reached above his knecs, and a cocked hat flapped down in front. As he was a short, fat man, he took some time to mount into the saddle; and when there, he took some time to have the saddle and stirrups properly adjusted, enjoying the wonder and ad. miration of the urchin crowd. Even after he had set off, he would pause in the middle of the street, or trot back two or three times to give some parting orders which were answered by the housekeeper from the door. or Dolph from the study, or the black cook from the cellar, or the chambermaid from the garret window; and there were generally some last words bawled after him, just as he was turning the corner.
The whole neighbourhood would be aroused by this pomp and circumstance. The cobler would leave his last; the barber would thrust out his frizzed head, with a comb sticking in it; a knot would collect at the gro: cer's door, and the word would be buzzed from one end of the street to the other, “ The Doctor's riding out to his country seat."
THE COCKLOFT FAMILY.
TAE Cockloft family, of which I have made suchi frequent mention, is of great antiquity, if there be any truth in the genealogical trre which hangs up in my cousin's library. They trace their descent from a celebrated Roman Knight, cousin to the progenitor of his Majesty of Britain, who left his native country on occasion of some disgust; and coming into Wales, became a great favourite of Prince Madoc, and accompanied that famous argonaut in the voyage which ended in the discovery of this continent. Though a member of the family, I have sometimes ventured to doubt the authenticity of this portion of their annals, to the great vexation of cousin Christopher, who is looked up to as the head of our house ; and who, though as orthodox as a bishop, would sooner give up the wholc decalogue than lop off a single limb of the family tree. From time immemorial, it has been the rule for the Cocklofts to marry one of their own name ; and as they always bred like rabbits, the family has increased and multiplied like that of Adam and Eve. In truth their number is almost incredible; and you can hardly go into any part of the country without starting a warren of genuine Cocklofts. Every person of the least obu servation, or experience, must have observed that where this practice of marrying cousins, and second cousins, prevails in a family, every member, in the course of a few generations, becomes queer, humourous, and original; as much distinguished from the common race of mongrels as if he were of a different species. This has happened in our family, and particularly in that branch of it of which Christopher Cockloft, Esq. is the head-Christopher, is, in fact, the only married man of the name who resides in town; his family is small, having lost most of his children when young, by the excessive care he took to bring them up like vegetables. This was one of the first whimwhams, and a confounded one it was; as his children might have told, had they not fallen victims to his experiment before they could talk. He had got from some quack philosopher or other, a notion that there was a complete analogy between children and plants, and that they ought to be both reared alike. Accordingly he sprinkled them every morning with water, laid them out in the