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and Beaumont and Fletcher, and Collins, and Thomson's Seasons, for sentimental mottos to their books and chapters; but the true key-note of their strain is at hand in Moore's · Epitaph on a Tuft-hunter.'
Lament, lament, Sir Isaac Heard !
Put mourning round thy page, Debrett !
A Viscount to a Marquis yet.
For, rest his soul! he'd rather be
Than saved in vulgar company.' The title-page first on our list, • Recollections of a Chaperonedited by Lady Dacre,' conveyed to us the impression that one whose dramas, both tragic and comic, have been much and justly admired, had condescended to the fashion of the time, and tried her hand at the novel. Lady Dacre, however, it is now known, brought not the book, but only the ingenious writer of the book, into the world—her editorship has been confined to a preface;but we are bound to say, that, even if the work had been written by her Ladyship, the greater part of it would have done no dishonour to her elegant reputation.
The collection consists of five pieces— Warrenne,' which we think confused, feeble, and absurd ; · The Single Woman of a Certain Age'-and of nearly equal dulness ; An Old Story often told,'—the flimsy story of a sentimental divorcée, who is exceedingly unhappy because no ladies visit her except a few near relations and political connexions; - and two novels of greater length, which appear to us to merit a more formal notice : tales which of themselves would go far to raise the standard by which productions of this school have of late years been judged.
The first of these is · Milly and Lucy,'--the history of the lovely daughter of a retired East Indian, evidently settled somewhere between Barnet and The Hoo, who, from the besetting sin of modern heroines, is induced to quit her natural sphere of life, and figure in St. James's Square, a villa at Richmond, an abbey in some midland county, and a castle on the Welsh coast, as the wife of a worn out roué, old enough to be her father-the Marquis of Montreville. This is Lord Mulgrave's story over again-but the original inequality of condition being less, the details require a more delicate style of handling. The sketch is in all respects filled up far better than his Lordship’s; and the gentleness of the catastrophe shows a taste and feeling a world above the melodramatic horrors of the third volume of The Contrast.' The character of Milly, however,-a nurse meant to personify all the virtues in their homely garb, and relieve at every turn the pomps and vanities of Lucy the Marchioness—is rather mawkish ; and by expunging this Goody altogether the story would be improved.
The Marquis had been, as 'the handsome but half-ruined Lord Arthur Stanfield,' one of the most distinguished sinners in London; but on succeeding, when within sight of fifty, to the honours and fortune of his house, he has perceived the propriety of procuring a wife and an heir : and resolved, in consequence of his past experience of style, manner, vivacity, grace,' &c., to choose
some young unsophisticated creature, as unlike as possible to all those with whom he had had any former connexion.'
• He was accidentally introduced to Lucy, and she appeared to him precisely the thing of which he was in search. She was decidedly very pretty, and lacked nothing but what a week's tuition would give, to have un air distingué. Her head was small—it was naturally well put on. Her figure was slender, her foot was not large; and, though her hands were a little red, they were well-shaped. Some almond-paste, the best shoe-maker, and Mademoiselle Hyacinthe would set all quite right. He thought he should not alter the style of her coiffure. The back of her head was so Grecian in its contour, she might venture upon her own simple twist and long ringlets. Having thus made up his mind, he proceeded to ingratiate himself with the family. There was a public ball at the concert-rooms, and thither he went. He never danced : he knew he was too old, and he never affected youth. But, when Lucy was dancing, she often found his large, intelligent, expressive eyes fixed on her from beneath the very dark eyebrows which shaded them, without giving them any look of harshness. She felt flattered, without being distressed.' vol. i. pp. 160, 161.
The coolness of the whole procedure on the part of the noble lord is admirable.
• He handed Mrs. Heckfield to supper, and sat between her and Lucy, who found her partner quite dull and stupid, in comparison with this very agreeable new acquaintance. He did not talk much; he said nothing which she could afterwards remember as being either clever or amusing. But he had a manner of listening with a deferential air, his eyes fixed with attention on the speaker, while his countenance seemed to suy, the remark made was new and luminous, something which had never struck him before, so that people believed themselves delighted with him, while, in truth, they were delighted with themselves.'
We forget what accident had induced Lord Montreville to sojourn for a little in this part of the country; but it may easily be foreseen that Mrs. Hecktield would, after this ball and supper, induce her husband to give a dinner at · Rose-Hill Lodge.' The cabinet council in which the party is arranged for this great occasion is very well done : "" Let us have the Thompsons, my dear,” said the Colonel. “La!
Colonel Heckfield! Mrs. Thompson! so fat and vulgar, and Mr. Thompson, so silent, unless you talk of stocks, or consols.'
Well, then, Colonel Danby and his daughter.” “ They will do pretty well; but I was thinking of Mrs. Haughtville, who, you know, has always lived in the first circles," “ What! that deaf old woman ?". " Why, my dear, it won't do to ask just commonplace country neighbours. We must get somebody Lord Montreville is likely to know.” • Very true! And then my friend Danby, he knows everybody, and can talk thirteen to the dozen.” “ He knows everybody who has been in India, but I very much suspect he does not know anybody that Lord Montreville would think anybody,” answered the lady, who never could endure her husband's jolly friend, who certainly did eat, drink, talk, and laugh, thirteen to the dozen, but who, she not unwisely thought, would be a very bad ingredient in this refined party ; “Surely Sir James Ashgrove, the member for the county, would be a better person; we can give him a bed you know." " Very well-Ashgrove is a good fellow, and a sensible fellow, but he never gives you much of his conversation, unless you talk of the last division in parliament, and then he will tell you which way every member voted, and the reasons of his vote into the bargain. “ But he is a man of good birth and good connexions, and quite a friend of the family besides ; James's godfather and all." “ Then, if we ask our good parson and his two daughters, we shall have quite enough. I don't like a great let-off ; it is much best to take matters quietly.”
"" Good heavens ! Colonel Heckfield ! you cannot be in earnest. What! that old proser, who makes a comma between every word, and a full stop nowhere! and those two Misses, one as old as the hills, and the other as giggling a girl as ever I saw. Besides, Lucy and she will get laughing and gossipping together, and Lucy never appears to advantage when Bell Stopford is with her." " Whom had we best have then, my love ?" responded the Colonel. " Why, first of all, Mrs. Haughtville," answered Mrs. Heckfield, who had long ago prepared her list in her mind," and Sir James Ashgrove, (as you wish,) and young Mr. Lyon, Lord Petersfield's nephew, and Sir Alan Byway, the great traveller, and Miss Pennefeather, who wrote those sweet novels; people of fashion like to meet a genius; and then, my dear, I thought of asking Lord and Lady Bodlington.” “Mercy upon us, wife! why I don't know them by sight.” “But I do, Colonel Heckfield, and a sweet woman she is. I was introduced to her at the ball the other night.”—p. 163-166.
The dinner takes place accordingly, and very poorly does it go off, until the drawing-room is gratified with some music by the lionness, in her sketch of whose performance we fear Mrs. Sullivan makes
free with some of her own fair sister manufacturers :
" If Miss Pennefeather would favour us!" humbly suggested Mrs. Heckfield: “one of your own unique compositions, my dear Miss Pennefeather. Miss Pennefeather composes words, and music,
and all, Mrs. Haughtville, and they are the sweetest things!" This account excited a slight emotion of curiosity in Mrs. Haughtville's mind, and she accordingly begged Miss Pennefeather to grant their request. Lady Bodlington was very anxious indeed ; and the poetess, whose pride, though easily wounded, was, through the medium of her vanity, as easily soothed, found the two fine ladies were more intellectual, and consequently more worthy of the efforts of her genius, than she had at first imagined.
• After a little bashful reluctance, she seated herself upon the round stool. She was short and thick, with a very small waist and a very full gown, and she sat extremely stiff and upright. Her arms were short, and when she meant to play staccato, she caught up her hands as high as her shoulders, and then she pounced down again on the affrighted notes as a kite upon a brood of chickens. The “sweet thing” she selected for the occasion was in a German style-a love-lorn damsel who sold herself to the spirit of darkness, that she might rejoin her murdered lover's ghost in another, but not a better, world. Miss Pennefeather's nose was small, and somewhat retroussé, her eyes were large, black, and round, (they were her beauty,) her mouth would not have been ugly, but that it was difficult to decide where her chin ended and her throat began, so that, during the vehement and energetic passages which the nature of the subject called forth, when the head was thrown back, and the black eyes were darting their beams towards the ceiling, the double chin protruded rather beyond the natural and original one.' –
Surely, whoever may have been the poet of this song, the music must have been from the Chevalier Neükomm !
• Lord Montreville now became a frequent visitor at Rosehill Lodge, and his manner gradually assumed more the tone of gallantry. Reports arose. Lucy was rallied by her young friends, and began to look into her feelings. She had seen his beautiful equipage his four blood bays ; she had seen engravings of his magnificent seat in Staffordshire ; of his lovely villa near London ; of his ancient castle in Wales. She was proof against the splendour of Ashdale Park, and the elegances of Beausejour, but the castle had a decided effect upon her heart. The walls were nine feet thick ; there was a donjon keep at the top of a tower nine hundred and forty-one years old; and Lord Montreville's teeth were extremely good-almost as good as Captain Langley's.
-A donjon keep at the top of a tower! We had always understood that a keep was a tower, and that the dungeon was usually placed at the bottom of it.
• From the vaults under the Caërwhwyddwth Castle subterraneous passages, to the end of which no one within the memory of man had penetrated, were supposed to extend to the ruined monastery of Caërmerwhysteddwhstgen; and then Lord Montreville was quite thinnot the least inclined to corpulency. He was older than Sir Charles Selcourt, but he was much more agreeable,-he was certainly a great
deal older than Captain Langley, but then Captain Langley was not the least clever. All their tastes agreed exactly. He was enthusiastic upon the self-same subjects,-puppies, donkeys, goslings, and Lord Byron. She went to sleep, and dreamed she was the Marchioness of Montreville, chaperoning her sister Emma to Almack's. People cannot prevent their dreams.
• The next morning she jokingly repeated her dream to Emma. “Oh, Lucy!” exclaimed Emma, “ what a charming dream! And you know mamma says, if you marry, I may come out at seventeen, and, if you don't, I must stay in this poky school-room till I am eighteen. You never can refuse Lord Montreville.”—p. 204. Certainly not.—Lucy is put, in the next chapter, into lawful
possession of the Montreville diamonds; and the honeymoon of Ashdale park has not quite expired before her miseries begin. Lord Montreville no longer sympathizes with her either as to donkeys, or goslings, or the Giaour. In fact, it comes out that he cares very little about any of that author's works, except · Don Juan. On his Lordship's part, all the innocent naïvetés that had seemed so delightful at Rosehill lodge, are now viewed with fear and suspicion, as likely to hazard the dignity of the strawberry-leaf; and Lucy is obliged to confess to herself that she never feels so much at ease as when the elderly, and once more sobered peer-is out of the room. He deterinines to have a dinner party of nobodies'—that is to say, of the rural gentry in the vicinity of Ashdale, before venturing to produce the bride among any of his own proper set,' and gives Lucy painfully minute directions as to the honours of her table, some of which the lady finds it hard to put into practice. The giving of the signal for retiring to the drawing-room is one great difficulty:
• The half hour-more than the half hour must have elapsed! She answered with an absent air, still glancing uneasy glances, till at length Miss Brown nudged Mrs. Johnson, and Mrs. Johnson looked up, and Lucy hastily rose from her chair, in the middle of Major Smith's sentence.
• Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Delafield made a great ceremony at the door, during which time the gentlemen stood bolt upright, with their napkins in their hands, waiting with exemplary patience while the ladies gave each other le pas. At length they marched out arm-in-arm, with a slight laugh to carry off their uncertainties. Lady Montreville, in her shyness, slipped her arm within Miss Brown's, and thanked her for making Mrs. Johnson look round. • Why could I not catch her eye before ?” Oh, don't you know? She is only the wife of a younger son of a baronet, and Mrs. Delafield is the wife of the eldest son of a knight, so you know she was afraid of putting herself forward.” This was a new light to Lucy, who had never before been aware of these niceties,'--pp. 250, 251.