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the walls. This copy is of course the work of the amlable heiress, and Colonel Montague is immediately filled with love and gratitude towards the fair unknown. When the pious visit to Atherford Abbey, the name of the place, is completed, the Colonel proceeds to a neighbouring seat, the abode of an ancient friend of his father. Mr. Mildmay is a country gentleman, a sportsman, a magistrate, a good-natured and respectable person, who never sleeps out of his own house; has two amiable daughters and a son, who is called to the bar, and who practises on the circuit, and at the quarter sessions at the town adjoining his father's estate. The daughters, one at least, if not both, are personages of much importance in this history. Louisa has paid a long visit at Paris with a person of distinction, and in her language, her manners, and her dress, is a curious compound of French and English. She is attached to a certain Lord George Something, who is an example of all the Irish Lord Georges and Lord Charleses, and when we arrive at him we shall see what kind of persons they are. The mansion of this family Colonel Montague chooses for his headquarters. It is clearly most conveniently situated for carrying on operations against the rich and lovely copier of his mother's picture. Of course a very short time elapses before an introduction takes place; and the authoress is moreover accommodating enough to induce Miss Birmingham to pay a visit to the Mildmays while the Colonel is staying there. This is the romance of the book. With the Colonel, Miss Birmingham's 20,0001. per annum does not weigh a straw: on others, in the course of the story, it is seen to produce the natural effects. Within a few miles of the families whose position has been commemorated, resides a pompous and powerful peer, Lord Norbury. His mansion is filled with company, the chief persons of whom are the constant occupants of the scene in the novel. The intercourse in the country between these families is of course pretty strict. This intercourse occupies the first part of the work, and is the foundation of the events which are to take place in town, and which are to disclose the springs of fashionable life, and to exhibit its action to the world. A few extracts at this point will bring our readers acquainted with some of the greater folks of the novel.
The following is a family piece, and contains the portraits of a nobleman, his wife, son, and daughter, drawn with some cleverness, and a very strong general resemblance. It must be understood that Colonel Montague has arrived at a lucky moment when the borough of Weldon Regis is in want of a member of Parliament. Lady Birmingham patronizes an attorney of the name of Hollins, but a large party in the town, either indignant at his plebeian rank, or desirous of a second man, on more general grounds, solicit Colonel Montague, a young officer of the guards, which he entered at sixteen, and who has just returned from service, to become their legislator in the House. It is in consequence of having complied with this proposal that Montague and his friends pay a visit to Lord Norbury.
It had been often said of Lord Norbury, that any one following him up St. James's Street, and observing his manner of returning the bows of his acquaintance, might safely pronounce on their respective ranks, so nicely did he attend to the minutiæ des bienséances. He was a little-minded man, with much experience of the world, and not one grain of heart in his whole composition ; he had risen to high rank by the talent of bending men to his purpose, and, as this was the qualification he bad found most useful himself, so it was the only one he esteemed in others. He loved-himself alone; and he wished well to his family, as belonging to himself, not for their own individual merits.
The Countess was a very different person ; the rock on which she split was pridepride of blood, pride of situation. The world with her was divided into two classes, patricians and plebeians; she knew of no shades, no go-betweens-people whom every body kuows, or people whom nobody knows; and to belong to the latter class was certainly, in her opinion, one of the severest visitations of Heaven : it seemed to her as if it was hors de noblesse point de salut. Lady Norbury's good qualities were all clouded by these violent, ultra aristocratic notions; for she was in reality a kindhearted woman, with a well-cultivated mind; and, when she chose to unbend, she could be very agreeable ; but this was rarely the case, for she was fastidious in no common degree, and it was difficult to meet with any person less generally liked than the haughty Countess of Norbury.
Lady Anne, her daughter, was extremely beautiful, fascinating, and accomplished, but her character had been ruined by excessive flattery. She was haughty, selfish, and unfeeling, with a power of concealing these defects from a common observer by her wit and vivacity. The power of pleasing she considered as an art reducible to rules, of which she had made herself mistress ; her pride was not, like her mother's, pride of rank, but pride of talent. She loved flattery, though she despised the flatterers. She laughed at every body, and every tbing, for frolic was her passion ; fools of all kinds she thought fair game ; indeed no foibles could escape her; her father's manæuvres, her mother's hauteur, were equally amusing to ber. All religious principle had been forgotten in her education; she had never in her life paused for a moment to reflect, and it was her favourite maxim, that
Le Monde est plein de foux,
Et qui n'en veut pas voir,
El casser son miroir." Lord Mordaunt, the only son of this illustrious family, possessed the same kind of disposition as his sister, but without any of her wit; he had all the pride of his mother, without her heart ; and the same love of intrigue as his father, but with very inferior talents. He had been thwarted by the earl in his first wish, which was to shine on the opposition benches, probably from a kind of spirit of contradiction, because his father held a very good place under Government; but Lord Norbury had announced to the young man his fixed determination to reduce his allowance one half, the very first show he should make of joining the other party. Lord Mordaunt was therefore obliged to submit for the present to obscurity; and this only increased his cynical humour: he revenged himself by entering into every sort of dissipation, and attaining all the celebrity which ton can give in the nineteenth century to the frequenters of clubs, gambling-louses, the noble associates of sharpers and jockeys-glorious pre-eminence ! His lordship wanted only to have been engaged in some crim. con. affair, with a duel at bis heels, in order to have attained to the pinnacle of that kind of fame so eagerly sought for by our young nobility.
The Lord Mordaunt here described has a talent for satire. An amusing description of the Lady Birmingham already mentioned, is put into his mouth.
"We are going to call on Lady Birmingham," said Mr. Mildmay; " I fear her conscience somewhat reproaches her, and Lionel wishes every thing to be forgotten. Would your Lordsbiy do us the honour to accompany us?”
“ The pleasure of such society would half tempt me, I own,” said Lord Mordaunt; " but unfortunately we had Lady Birmingham at Norbury last week, and I am afraid I have heard all her ladyship's last intelligence, from her body-coachman to her second head coachman, through all the gradations of grooms, till at last, through the third helper, it penetrated to so insignificant a personage as your humble servant. Really one is not always en train for that sort of thing: the acting listener is sometimes rather an ennuyeuse business, unless one has all one's notes of admiration ready. I have seen all the new varieties of Deccan Ericas, some hundreds, I was told; I have admired all the contributions from the Cape and West Indies; I have visited the aquarium or aquaticum, and looked at the water lilies, and seen the museum full of such nameless wonders, not of specimens of the beau idéat, but certainly of the idéal beau. Unless you have done all this, you really hardly know what you are going to undertake,” said his Lordship, with a sort of faint, faded smile. “I have undergone it all. However, you will be fortified with the luncheon ; she will feed you well; that French cook of her's knows what he is about; and she has some capital wine too. The Baronet is returned home, but that, of course, you know ; however, one never thinks of him in any way, poor man! Yet really now, after all I have said, I must finish by allowing that Lady Birmingham is a most chatty, agreeable person, full of knowledge and conversation. You will say every thing that is proper and kind from me, au revoir.”
We are shortly after introduced to the lady in person. The party find her ladyship and Sir Sampson profoundly occupied over a luncheon of great rarity and excellence.
“Mr. Mildmay," said Lady Birmingham, “ do take the seat on this side the fire, that you may not feel any draught ; you are just come in time for some excellent real Scotch hotchpodge, made by my own French cook, Rissole. The Duke of Clanalpin thought it so good that he sent for a receipt last year. Colonel Montague, let me give you some Swiss cabbage to the hotchpodge, it is an excellent mixture.”
“And so you patronize sour crout?” said Mr. Mildmay.
"A sort of refinement upon it: I got the receipt from the Prince de Hongoument's cook at Spa, but it must be made of Chou de Milan, to be really good. Miss Louisa, do you eat nothing? I fear you are still very delicate. Or are you for fruit ?-allow me to recommend a Long-town pippin to you, or some of this Guava. My friend Admiral Buckeridge insisted on sending me something from abroad, he was going to America ;-'Oh my good friend,' said I, send me some of those famous Long-town pippins ;' so behold, at Christmas arrived a cask of these very magnificent apples, directed to Lady Birmingham, Birmingham Abbey; and this Guava was sent me by the Admiral's son, who was stationed off the West Indies. Oh, and here is another rather uncommon fruit, a Shadock,-let me cut you a slice, Colonel Montague,-sent me by a very particular friend, Governor O’Shawnassia, an old crony of Sir Benjamin's : he arrived from Barbadoes the other day, and sent me, by way of remembrance, some Shadocks and Cocoa-nuts. Would you like any Cocoa-nut ?-Silvertop," addressing the butler, “why is not there some Čocoa-nut here?"
“I did out know your ladyship meant to have all the foreigu fruit at luncheon," said Silvertop.
“My dear good lady,” said Mr. Mildmay, “surely we have things enough :-all the rarities of the four quarters of the globe collected at luncheon is too much.”
“Oh! we cannot have too many good things to give Colonel Montague a favourable idea of our proceedings at the Abbey.".
Lionel bowed; he was much amused.
“But we must lionize Colonel Montague about the grounds, so let us prepare for our walk. Silvertop, tell Sir Benjamin's own man to bring in his master's gaiters."
Silvertop obeyed, and re-entered presently, with a tall spruce elegant young gentleman, in silk stockings, who buttoned on Sir Benjamin's gaiters, and then gracefully withdrew,
“ I think, my dear,” said Lady Birmingham to her spouse, “ you had better go in the donkey curricle, as you feel a little gouty this morning. Sir Benjamin has got two famous Spanish mules, which he enjoys vastly,” said the lady, addressing Mr. Mildmay; "and now, my good friend, will you mount Barbara's little Shetland poney, which I will answer for carrying you nicely ?-or shall I drive you in my garden-chair with my new grey ponies ? I am so proud of my skill as a charioteer. Or suppose we were all to walk down to the bridge, the barouche landau with four horses could meet us there."
The last plan was thought the best, so the barouche and four was ordered.
"Silvertop, tell the bailiff and the head-gardener to bring me each their masterkeys; and to be in attendance, in case I should want them. Tell Mr. Premium I shall audit some of the accounts this evening; and he may direct some of the people who want to speak to me, to be here to-morrow morning at seven o'clock.”
" I see you are as active as ever, my good lady,” said Mr. Mildmay.
“Yes, my old friend; activity is the soul of business. But it feels cold; I think I had better put on my Greenland overall boots, my maid will be waiting with them up stairs. Miss Louisa, will you show Colonel Montague the rooms ? I shall be down immediately."
The characters of other distinguished personages are given in a novel way by Lady Anne Norbury, the daughter of the peer. She supposes that she could, from a knowledge of the people, imagine the style of their letters. The scene is the breakfast-room at Lord Norbury's.
Lord Glenmore observed, that there was no time so pleasant for the post to come in as immediately after breakfast, particularly where the post man waited for the answers, as he did at Norbury.
“ It is amusing," said the Duke of Derwent, “ to observe the difference of people's tastes : my letters are left at the Lodge, at Derwent Vale, at eight in the evening, the answers are called for at twelve the next day; which I think the best arrangement, because one has time then to reflect before one answers a letter."
“ Dear! how can your grace like that ?" said Lady Anne. " I should hate to receive my letters in the evening, so many sleepless nights would be the consequence : even pleasure, in the shape of news, will banish Morpheus.”
"I fancy, when your ladyship is a little older,” said the duke, smiling, "you will find your nerves not quite so easily excited: none but very young ladies ever receive such exquisitely interesting letters.'
“That, though the heart would break with more,
It cannot live with less ;" said Lord George, looking slyly at Louisa. "I have often wondered what the deuce women can find to write about : such crossed sheets! one ought to be paid for deciphering their chequer-work. Well, I do hate writing letters, that I will honestly own.”
"I think I could guess at your style, Lord George,” said Lady Anne, " from one or two of your epistles, which Mordaunt has shown me ; for you seldom or ever write to mama or me."
“ No! and for a good reason too: you would not care for them or the writer : and that's the main thing after all, isn't it?" turning to Louisa ; "a line from any one one cares about, one must be interested with."
“ The writer, or the line?'' said Lady Anne; "for you are not very clear in your English this morning. Perhaps Miss Louisa Mildmay can explain why you have quarrelled with the personal pronoun I. A one, an on-dit, I suppose means nothing."
“ But how does he write?” said Lady Glenmore in her childish manner; "I am dying to know."
“Oh, first of all, he puts his date,-Cork, or Dublin, or Glasgow, we will suppose, in large letters at the top ; then, underneath, perhaps, Doghole of a room, ten feet square, full of smoke. Half way down the page, very small in one corner, -'My dear uncle,'--then considerably lower still,— Wretched quarters these! no fun at all going on-our grey-haired Colonel as great a martenet as ever, hang the old quiz!--No hopes of promotion. We are all confounded stupid; can't even raise a ball, till the assizes; when all the pretty girls will flirt, of course, with the black coated lawyers. Well, good night: excuse greasy paper, soft pen, and thick ink. My duty to my aunt, love to the rest.
• Your affectionate nephew,
•GEORGE FITZALLAN. *Very low in cash just now; the governor monstrous tardy with his remittances.'
“Tnus, having written his vame very large, he contrives to fill up the whole of the second page.”
· Ha, ha, ha!” said Lord George ; “ 'faith, Lady Anne, you're a much greater wit than I took you for; though you've put all the pith of my letter in the postscript, and that, you know, is the sign of a lady's epistle. But now that you have succeeded so well in my style, I hope you will give another specimen or two. Miss Louisa Mildmay, for instance, how does she write?"
“Oh, she has l'esprit de Sevigné, and the sense of Lady Mary Wortley. How could I pretend to ridicule what I cannot imitate!” “Cruel Lady Anne, to be so satirical!" said Louisa.
“ Satirical, my dear! I like that, as if you did not know that you possess l'eloquence du billet like a Frenchwoman : po sbam modesty, if you please. But do any of you know Mrs. Sydenham's style of letter-writing ?"
“Oh, pray let us have it," said several voices.
" In the first place, she writes a very running hand ; you can't possibly distinguish her m's from her n's and her w's—I would almost defy you : yet altogether it is very flowing and elegant-looking, only one word will sometimes nearly fill up a whole line : —So inexpressibly obliged for Lady Norbury's gratifying attention, which has been most gratefully received ; such a pleasing mark of decided friendship, displayed with such good sense and judgment, that it found its way at once to a heart overflowingly alive to kindness. Now, is not that all verbiuge, full of adjectives, epithets, and superlatives; the true sentimental style ?"
• And the proper one for a handsome woman,” said Lord Mordaunt, looking up from the racing calendar, "graceful and elegant” like berself. I wish you would miud whom you attack, Anne, when you are in one of your quizzing humours.”
“ Excellent, faith!” said Lord Hazlemere, elevating his bushy eyebrows a full half inch, and running his fingers through his well-curled locks : "I am obliged to you, Mordaunt.” But his Lordship took no notice, though several of the company looked surprised.
Lady Anne, heedless of every thing but her present wbim, continued; “ Now, my friend Maria Molyneux sports the brusque and laconic, hopping from one thing to another in an extraordinary manner. Supposivg she begius :- Was glad to hear your cold better, and hope you will take care of yourself. Colds have been very general this winter. Mr. Smith has got a bad cold, and his wife has had the influenza, and their little girl has been suffering from the croup; a most dreadful complaint, which has been very general lately at Bath among childrer.. I hear Bath is just now very gay, but the company not quite so select as at Brighton. The King is the great life of that place: some fancy the Pavilion will not be gay this winter; which would be a vast pity, I think. Mr. Petty is to marry the little Miss Coates, so the wits say she will never want for petti-coats. Now this is Maria's style of eloquence.
“ Dora's is the true hum.drum ; too dull almost to quiz. I hope your ladyship will excuse my not having written sooner, (as indeed I wished to have done,) but papa has been ill, which makes him very uncomfortable, besides being a little crossish, as many people are apt to be when they are rather ill; no one more so than myself: so, you know, one ought always to make allowances for others, particularly for elderly people. I hope this will be a sufficient excuse to you for my not having taken up my pen before ; but indeed I have a better one still to give, which I am sure you will be quite satisfied with, for I have cut my finger and thumb so very badly, (indeed I
may almost say dangerously,) that till to-day I really could not hold a pen.'-—Now, good people, I think I have given you quite enough for the present.”
“Oh, do go on, dear Laly Anne,” said Lord Dorville, clapping his hands ; " it is quite delightful to hear you : give us one of Miss Bevil's letters.”
"Oh, an attempt at esprit, le style castique par excellence. Let us see; Oh ! I have her now :-'London dull this winter ; balls without suppers, men withouť money, girls without lovers. People of ton, and high ton too, give dinners of fourteen, and only two dishes of a side ; so it must be elegant to have no appetites. Then they stick themselves up on the fourth tier of the opera, and vote it charming: all humbug, imposes on no one. Sir Jemmy Jessamy aux pieds de Mademoiselle Flutter, Lord Foppington aur écoutes, in case the baronet should be congédie’d, in order to pop into his bloes. Mrs. Pickle's affair with Mr. Pepper quite off. Tlie Puddledocks are done up in toto ; going abroad : they prefer starving in France to begging in England : wish 'em joy with all my heart.'
“ Ha, ha, ha!” said Lord Dorville ; "and who the deuce are the Puddledocks ?"
“Oh, that I leave you to find out !” said Lady Anne, as she threw herself back on her chair, and yawned aloud, “How tired I am, to be sure.”
“No wonder,” said Lord George, “after such exertions: why, you have given us the Polite Letter.writer with great effect.”
These three lords, Dorville, Hazlemere, and George Fitzallan, are three conspicuous figures in the piece. The last is an Irish younger brother, represented as warm-hearted; he is only, however, selfish and warm-tempered. He has the liveliness of his country, and he shows it in industrious flirtation. Lord Dorville is a fashionable idiot; to look at his dress, his set-out, and all his appointments, he might be supposed perfect; he is, in fact, a fool. Lord Haslemere has some talent, which he displays in departing as far as possible from the received rules of courtesy and good breeding, and in professing a superlative contempt of all that does not accord with the conventional manners of a certain set, who have the vanity to persuade themselves, and the dexterity to persuade others, that there is something about them superior to any thing which their compeers can boast. The reader is now ready, it is hoped, to go to town—that is the scene for which he is prepared by the writer through one volume and a half.