« PreviousContinue »
being performed, my son and I went to pursue our usual industry abroad, while my wife and daughters employed themselves in providing breakfast, which was always ready at a certain time. I allowed half an hour for this meal and an hour for dinner, which time was taken up in innocent mirth between my wife and daughters, and in philosophical arguments between my son and me.
rose with the sun, so we never pursued our labors after it was gone down, but returned home to the expecting family, where smiling looks, a neat hearth, and pleasant fire were prepared for our reception. Nor were we without guests : sometimes Farmer Flamborough, our talkative neighbor, and often the blind piper would pay us a visit, and taste our gooseberry wine, for the making of which we had lost neither the receipt nor the reputation.
The night was concluded in the manner we began the morning, my youngest boys being appointed to read the lessons of the day, and he that read loudest, distinctest, and best was to have a halfpenny on Sunday to put in the poor's box.
When Sunday came it was indeed a day of finery, which all my sumptuary edicts could not restrain. How well soever I fancied my lectures against pride had conquered the vanity of my daughters, yet I still found them secretly attached to all their former finery ; they still loved laces, ribbons, bugles, and catgut ; my wife herself retained a passion for her crimson paduasoy, because I formerly happened to say it became her.
The first Sunday in particular their behavior served to mortify me; I had desired my girls the preceding night to be dressed early the next day; for I always
loved to be at church a good while before the rest of the congregation. They punctually obeyed my directions ; but when we were to assemble in the morning at breakfast, down came my wife and daughters dressed out all in their former splendor; their hair plastered up with pomatum, their faces patched to taste, their trains bundled up in a heap behind, and rustling at every motion.
I could not help smiling at their vanity, particularly that of my wife, from whom I expected more discretion. In this exigence, therefore, my only resource was to order my son, with an important air, to call our coach. The girls were amazed at the command; but I repeated it with more solemnity than before.
“Surely, my dear, you jest,” cried my wife ; “we can walk it perfectly well; we want no coach to carry us now.”
“You mistake, child," returned I, “we do want a coach ; for if we walk to church in this trim, the very children in the parish will hoot after us.
• Indeed,” replied my wife, “ I always imagined that my Charles was fond of seeing his children neat and handsome about him."
“ You may be as neat as you please,” interrupted I, " and I shall love you the better for it; but all this is not neatness, but frippery. These rufflings and pinkings and patchings will only make us hated by all the wives of all our neighbors. No, my children,” continued I, more gravely, “ those gowns may be altered into something of a plainer cut; for finery is very unbecoming in us, who want the means of decency. I do not know whether such flouncing and shredding is becoming even in the rich, if we consider, upon a moderate calculation,
that the nakedness of the indigent world may be clothed from the trimmings of the vain."
This remonstrance had the proper effect; they went with great composure, that very instant, to change their dress; and the next day I had the satisfaction of finding my daughters, at their own request, employed in cutting up their trains into Sunday waistcoats for Dick and Bill, the two little ones ; and what was still more satisfactory, the gowns seemed improved by this curtailing.
- From “ The Vicar of Wakefield.”
DEFINITIONS. Văl'en tine, St. Valentine's day, the 14th of February. Shrõve'tide, the days before Ash Wednesday. Mìch'ael mas, the 29th of September. Păd ū a soy', a rich, heavy silk.
AN APRIL DAY.
BY CAROLINE BOWLES SOUTHEY.
All day the low-hung clouds have dropped
Their garnered fullness down;
Hill, valley, grove, and town.
There has not been a sound to-day
To break the calm of nature;
Of life or living creature,
Of waving bough, or warbling bird,
Or cattle faintly lowing.
I stood to hear - I love it well
The rain's continuous sound;
Down straight into the ground.
Earth's naked breast to screen, Though every dripping branch is set
With shoots of tender green.
Sure, since I looked, at early morn,
Those honeysuckle buds Have swelled to double growth; that thorn
Hath put forth larger studs.
That lilac's cleaving cones have burst,
The milk-white flowers revealing ; Even now upon my senses first
Methinks their sweets are stealing.
The very earth, the steamy air,
Is all with fragrance rife!
Are bursting into life.
Down, down they come, those fruitful stores,
Those earth-rejoicing drops ! A momentary deluge pours,
Then thins, decreases, stops ;
And ere the dimples on the stream
Have circled out of sight,
Breaks forth of amber light.