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"Yet! why it's near six o'clock, woman; what d'ye mean, ma'am, eh?"
"What hour, then, do you prefer, sir?" said Mary.
"I always dine at three, ma'am, or not at all. I never eat tiffin, and nothing will induce me to alter my dinner-hour: I don't care a fig for fashion—they spoiled Calcutta by dining at night; night, ma'am, is meant for playing cards—not for eating."
"Oh, we shall regulate our hours by your wishes, sir," said Burton; "and I have no doubt when we know your habits, you will find every thing smooth and comfortable."
"You are very kind, sir," said Danvers.— "Pray, Mr. Burton, who was your father, eh?"
"He held an office under government in Scotland, sir."
"What one of their infernal jobs, eh? he was a respectable man, wasn't he, eh?"
"He was an excellent man—a man of"
"Hold your tongue, sir; don't bore me with his goodness; all sons' fathers are excellent:— gammon—trash—can't humbug me—I don't care what he was,—I suppose he's dead, isn't he, eh?"
"He is, sir."
"Any more of ye?"
"I had a sister, sir, who married an officer in the army: he was killed at Waterloo."
"Serve him right," said the old gentleman; "stupid ass he must have been to have gone there:—what became of his widow, eh?"
"She died, sir,—about four years since," said Burton, with tears in his eyes.
"I'm glad of it, poor body! out of her misery, eh 1 Did she get her husband's medal, eh 1"
"I really don't know, sir."
"She ought to have got it, you know, according to regulation; isn't your name Tom, eh 1"
"It is, sir."
"I'm glad of it, eh? Now come, show me my room. I'll just change my clothes, and be down again: and go you, Miss Polly," added the old gentleman, addressing his niece, " and get cards ready, eh? You'll find me out by and by, eh, Polly?"
Saying which he left the library, preceded by Burton, who attended him to his chamber door. As they went up stairs, the nabob stopped on the first landing-place, and, holding by the banisters, turned round to Burton and said, " I say, Master Tom, your wife is no beauty, I can tell you that, eh f Hook.
DICK SHIFTER'S VISIT TO THE COUNTRY.
Dick Shifter was born in Cheapside, and having passed reputably through all the classes of St. Paul's school, has been for some years a student in the Temple. He is of opinion that intense application dulls the faculties, and thinks it necessary to temper the severity of the law by books that engage the mind, but do not fatigue it. He has therefore made a copious collection of plays, poems, and romances, to which he has recourse when he fancies himself tired with statutes and reports; and he seldom inquires very nicely whether he is weary or idle.
Dick has received from his favourite authors very strong impressions of a country life; and though his furthest excursions have been to Greenwich on one side, and Chelsea on the other, he has talked for several years with great pomp of language and elevation of sentiments, about a state too high for contempt and too low for envy, about homely quiet, and blameless simplicity, pastoral delights, and rural innocence.
His friends, who had estates in the country, often invited him to pass the summer among them, but something or other had always hindered him; and he considered that to reside in the house of another man was to incur a kind of dependence inconsistent with that laxity of life which he had imaged as the chief good.
This summer he resolved to be happy, and procured a lodging to be taken for him at a solitary house, situated about thirty miles from London, on the banks of a small river, with cornfields before it, and a hill on each side covered with wood. He concealed the place of his retirement, that none might violate his obscurity, and promised himself many a happy day when he should hide himself among the trees, and contemplate the tumults and vexations of the town.
He stepped into the postchaise with his heart beating and his eyes sparkling, was conveyed through many varieties of delightful prospects, saw hills and meadows, cornfields and pasture, succeed each other; and for four hours charged none of his poets with fiction or exaggeration. He was now within six miles of happiness, when, having never felt so much agitation before, he began to wish his journey at an end; and the last hour was passed in changing his posture, and quarrelling with his driver.
An hour may be tedious, but cannot be long. He at length alighted at his new dwelling, and was received as he expected; he looked round upon the hills and rivulets; but his joints were stiff and his muscles sore, and his first request was to see his bedchamber.
He rested well, and ascribed the soundness of his sleep to the stillness of the country. He expected from that time nothing but nights of quiet and days of rapture; and, as soon as he had risen, wrote an account of his new state to one of his friends in the Temple.
"DEAR FRANK,"I never pitied thee before. I am now as I could wish every man of wisdom and virtue to be, in the regions of calm content and placid meditation; with all the beauties of nature soliciting my notice, and all the diversities of pleasure courting my acceptance; the birds are chirping in the hedges, and the flowers blooming in the mead; the breeze is whistling in the wood, and the sun dancing on the water. I can now say with truth, that a man, capable of enjoying the purity of happiness, is never more busy than in his hours of leisure, nor ever less solitary than in a place of solitude.
"I am, dear Frank," &c.
When he had sent away his letter he walked into the wood, with some inconvenience from the furze that pricked his legs, and the briars that
VOL. III. T
scratched his face. He at last sat down under a tree, and heard with great delight a shower, by which he was not wet, rattling among the branches: this, said he, is the true image of obscurity; we hear of troubles and commotions, but never feel them.
His amusement did not overpower the calls of nature, and he therefore went back to order his dinner. He knew that the country produces whatever is eaten or drunk, and, imagining that he was now at the source of luxury, resolved to indulge himself with dainties, which he supposed might be procured at a price next to nothing, if any price at all was expected; and intended to amaze the rustics with his generosity, by paying more than they would ask. Of twenty dishes, which he named, he was amazed to find that scarcely one was to be had; and heard, with astonishment and indignation, that all the fruits of the earth were sold at a higher price than in the streets of London.
His meal was short and sullen ; and he retired again to his tree, to inquire how dearness could be consistent with abundance, or how fraud should be practised by simplicity. He was not satisfied with his own speculations, and, returning home early in the evening, went awhile from window to window, and found that he wanted something to do.
He inquired for a newspaper, and was told that farmers never minded news; but that they could send for it from the alehouse. A messenger was despatched, who ran away at full speed, but loitered an hour behind the hedges,