Puslapio vaizdai

My father was a farmer of no great property and with no other learning than what he had acquired at a charity-school; but my mother being dead and I an only child, he determined to give me that advantage which he imagined would make him happy, namely, a learned education. I was sent to a country grammar-school, and from thence to the university, with a view of qualifying me for holy orders. Here, having but a small allowance from my father, and being naturally of a timid and bashful disposition, I had no opportunity of rubbing off that native awkwardness which is the fatal cause of all my unhappiness, and which I now begin to fear can never be amended. You must know that in my person I am tall and thin, with a fair complexion and light flaxen hair; but of such extreme susceptibility of shame, that on the smallest subject of confusion, my blood all rushes into my cheeks, and I appear a perfect full-blown rose. The consciousness of this unhappy failing made me avoid society, and I became enamored of a college life, particularly when I reflected that the uncouth manners of my father's family were little calculated to improve my outward conduct. I therefore had resolved on living at the university and taking pupils, when two unexpected events greatly altered the posture of my affairs, viz., my father's death, and the arrival of an uncle from the Indies.

This uncle I had very rarely heard my father mention; and it was generally believed that he was long since dead, when he arrived in England only a week too late to close his brother's eyes. I am ashamed to confess, what I believe has been often felt by persons whose education has been better than that of their parents, that my poor father's ignorance and vulgar language had often made me blush to think I was his son; and at his death I was not inconsolable for the loss of that which I was not unfrequently ashamed to own. My uncle was but little affected, for he had been separated from his brother more than thirty years, and in that time he had acquired a fortune which he used to brag would make a nabob happy; in short, he had brought over with him the enormous sum of thirty thousand pounds, and upon this he built his hopes of never-ending happiness. While he was planning schemes of greatness and delight, whether the change of climate might affect him, or what other cause I know not, but he was snatched from all his dreams of joy by a short illness, of which he died, leaving me heir to all his property. And now, sir, behold me, at the age of twenty-five, well stocked with

Latin, Greek, and mathematics, possessed of an ample fortune, but so awkward and unversed in any gentlemanlike accomplishment, that I am pointed at by all who see me as the wealthy learned clown.

I have lately purchased an estate in the country, which abounds in what is called a fashionable neighborhood; and when you reflect upon my parentage and uncouth manner, you will hardly think how much my company is courted by the surrounding families, especially by those who have marriageable daughters. From these gentlemen I have received familiar calls and the most pressing invitations; and though I wished to accept their offered friendship, I have repeatedly excused myself under the pretence of not being quite settled; for the truth is, that when I have rode or walked with full intention to return their several visits, my heart has failed me as I approached their gates, and I have frequently returned homeward resolving to try again to-morrow.

However, I at length determined to conquer my timidity, and three days ago accepted an invitation to dine this day with one whose open easy manner left me no room to doubt a cordial welcome. Sir Thomas Friendly, who lives about two miles distant, is a Baronet, with an estate of about two thousand pounds a year, joining to that I purchased. He has two sons and five daughters, all grown up, and living with their mother, and a maiden sister of Sir Thomas's, at Friendly Hall, dependent on their father. Conscious of my unpolished gait, I have for some time past taken private lessons from a professor who teaches "grown gentlemen" to dance; and although I at first found wondrous difficulty in the art he taught, my knowledge of mathematics was of prodigious use in teaching me the equilibrium of my body, and the due adjustment of the centre of gravity to the five positions. Having now acquired the art of walking without tottering, and learned to make a bow, I boldly ventured to accept the Baronet's invitation to a family dinner, not doubting that my new acquirements would enable me to see the ladies with tolerable intrepidity. But, alas! how vain are all the hopes of theory when unsupported by habitual practice! As I approached the house, a dinner bell alarmed my fears lest I had spoiled the want of punctuality. Impressed with this idea, I blushed the deepest crimson, as my name was repeatedly announced by the several livery servants who ushered me into the library, hardly knowing what or whom I saw.

At my

first entrance I summoned all my fortitude, and made my new-learned bow to Lady Friendly; but unfortunately, bringing back my left foot to the third position, I trod upon the gouty toe of poor Sir Thomas, who had followed close at my heels to be the nomenclator of the family. The confusion this occasioned in me is hardly to be conceived, since none but bashful men can judge of my distress; and of that description, the number, I believe, is very small. The Baronet's politeness by degrees dissipated my concern; and I was astonished to see how far good breeding could enable him to suppress his feelings, and to appear with perfect ease after so painful an accident.

The cheerfulness of her Ladyship, and the familiar chat of the young ladies, insensibly led me to throw off my reserve and sheepishness, till at length I ventured to join in conversation, and even to start fresh subjects. The library being richly furnished with books in elegant bindings, I conceived Sir Thomas to be a man of literature; and ventured to give my opinion concerning the several editions of the Greek classics; in which the Baronet's ideas exactly coincided with my own. To this subject I was led by observing an edition of Xenophon in sixteen volumes, which (as I had never before heard of such a thing) greatly excited my curiosity, and I rose up to examine what it could be. Sir Thomas saw what I was about, and (as I supposed) willing to save me trouble, rose to take down the book, which made me more eager to prevent him, and hastily laying my hand on the first volume, I pulled it forcibly; but lo! instead of books, a board, which by leather and gilding had been made to look like sixteen volumes, came tumbling down, and unluckily pitched upon a China inkstand on the table under it. In vain did Sir Thomas assure me there was no harm. I saw the ink streaming from an inlaid table on the Turkey carpet, and scarce knowing what I did, attempted to stop its progress with my cambric handkerchief. In the height of this confusion we were informed that dinner was served up, and I with joy then understood that the bell which at first had so alarmed my fears, was only the halfhour dinner bell.

In walking through the hall and suit of apartments to the dining-room, I had time to collect my scattered senses, and was desired to take my seat between Lady Friendly and her eldest daughter at the table. Since the fall of the wooden Xenophon, my face had been continually burning like a fire

brand; and I was just beginning to recover myself, and to feel comfortably cool, when an unlooked-for accident rekindled all my heat and blushes. Having set my plate of soup too near the edge of the table, in bowing to Miss Dinah, who politely complimented the pattern of my waistcoat, I tumbled the whole scalding contents into my lap. In spite of an immediate supply of napkins to wipe the surface of my clothes, my black silk breeches were not stout enough to save me from the painful effects of this sudden fomentation, and for some minutes my legs and thighs seemed stewed in a boiling caldron; but recollecting how Sir Thomas had disguised his torture when I trod upon his toes, I firmly bore my pain in silence, and sat with my lower extremities parboiled amidst the stifled giggling of the ladies and the servants.

I will not relate the several blunders which I made during the first course, or the distress occasioned by my being desired to carve a fowl, or help to various dishes that stood near me, spilling a sauce-boat, and knocking down a saltcellar; rather let me hasten to the second course where fresh disasters quite overwhelmed me.

I had a piece of rich sweet pudding on my fork, when Miss Louisa Friendly begged to trouble me for a pigeon that stood near me. In my haste, scarce knowing what I did, I whipped the pudding into my mouth hot as a burning coal; it was impossible to conceal my agony; my eyes were starting from their sockets. At last, in spite of shame and resolution, I was obliged to drop the cause of torment on my plate. Sir Thomas and the ladies all compassionated my misfortune, and each advised a different application. One recommended oil, another water, but all agreed that wine was best for drawing out the heat, and a glass of sherry was brought me from the sideboard, which I snatched up with eagerness: but oh! how shall I tell the sequel? Whether the butler by accident mistook, or purposely designed to drive me mad, he gave me the strongest brandy, with which he filled my mouth already flayed and blistered. Totally unused to every kind of ardent spirits, with my tongue, throat, and palate as raw as beef, what could I do? I could not swallow; and clapping my hands upon my mouth, the cursed liquor squirted through my nose and fingers like a fountain over all the dishes, and I was crushed by bursts of laughter from all quarters. In vain did Sir Thomas reprimand the servants, and Lady Friendly chide her daughters, for the measure of my shame, and their diver

sion was not yet complete. To relieve me from the intolerable state of perspiration which this accident had caused, without considering what I did, I wiped my face with that ill-fated handkerchief, which was still wet from the consequences of the fall of Xenophon, and covered all my features with streaks of ink in every direction. The Baronet himself could not support the shock, but joined his lady in the general laugh, while sprung from the table in despair, rushed out of the house, and ran home in an agony of confusion and disgrace, which the most poignant sense of guilt could not have excited.



DAFFYDOWNDILLY was so called because in his nature he resembled a flower, and loved to do only what was beautiful and agreeable, and took no delight in labor of any kind. But, while Daffydowndilly was yet a little boy, his mother sent him away from his pleasant home, and put him under the care of a very strict schoolmaster, who went by the name of Mr. Toil. Those who knew him best affirmed that this Mr. Toil was a very worthy character; and that he had done more good, both to children and grown people, than any body else in the world.— Certainly he had lived long enough to do a great deal of good; for, if all stories be true, he has dwelt upon earth ever since Adam was driven from the garden of Eden.

Nevertheless, Mr. Toil had a severe and ugly countenance, especially for such little boys or big men as were inclined to be idle; his voice, too, was harsh; and all his ways and customs seemed very disagreeable to our friend Daffy downdilly. The whole day long, this terrible old schoolmaster sat at his desk overlooking the scholars, or stalked about the school-room with a certain awful birch rod in his hand. Now came a rap over the shoulders of a boy whom Mr. Toil had caught at play; now he punished a whole class who were behindhand with their lessons; and, in short, unless a lad chose to attend quietly and constantly to his book, he had no chance of enjoying a quiet moment in the school-room of Mr. Toil.

"This will never do for me," thought Daffydowndilly.

Now, the whole of Daffydowndilly's life had hitherto been passed away with his dear mother, who had a much sweeter face than old Mr. Toil, and who had always been very indulgent to her little boy. No wonder, therefore, that poor Daffydowndilly found it a woful change, to be sent away from the

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