« AnteriorContinuar »
MISS BLAMIRE-MRS. JAMES GRAY.
The name of Blamire has always a certain interest for me, in consequence of a circumstance, which, as it took place somewhere about five-andforty years ago, and has reference to a flirtation of twenty years previous, there cannot now be much harm in relating.
Being with my father and mother on a visit about six miles from Southampton, we were invited by a gentleman of the neighbourhood to meet the wife and daughters of a certain Dr. Blamire. "An old friend of yours and mine," quoth our inviter to my father. “Don't you remember how you used to flirt with the fair lady when you and Babington were at Haslar ? Faith, if Blamire had not taken pity on her, it would have gone hard with the poor
damsel! However, he made up to the disconsolate maiden, and she got over it. Nothing like a new love for chasing away an old one. You must dine with us to-morrow. I shall like to see the meeting.”
My father did not attempt to deny the matter. Men never do. He laughed, as all that wicked sex do laugh at such sins twenty years after, and professed that he should be very glad to shake hands with his old acquaintance. So the next day we met.
I was a little curious to see how my own dear mother, my mamma
and the stranger lady, my mamma that might have been, would bear themselves on the occasion. At first, my dear mother, an exceedingly lady-like quiet person, had considerably the advantage, being prepared for the rencontre and perfectly calm and composed; whilst Mrs. Blamire, taken, I suspect, by surprise, was a good deal startled and flustered. This state of things, however, did not last. Mrs. Blamire having got over the first shock, comported herself like what she evidently was, a practised woman of tbe world—would talk to no one but ourselvesand seemed resolved not only to make friends with her successful rival, but to strike up an intimacy. This, by no means, entered into my mother's calculations. As the one advanced the other receded, and, keeping always within the limits of civility,
I never heard so much easy chat put aside with so many cool and stately monosyllables in my life.
The most diverting part of this scene, very amusing to a stander-by, was, that my father, the only real culprit, was the only person who throughout maintained the appearance and demeanour of the most unconscious innocence. He complimented Mrs. Blamire on her daughters (two very fine girls), -inquired after his old friend, the Doctor, who was attending his patients in a distant town-and laughed and talked over bygone stories with the one lady, just as if he had not jilted her—and played the kind and attentive husband to the other, just as if he had never in all his days made love to anybody except his own dear wife.
one of the strange domestic comedies which are happening around us every day, if we were but aware of them, and might probably have ended in a renewal of acquaintance between the two families but for a dispute that occurred towards the end of the evening between Mrs. Blamire and the friend in whose house we were staying, which made the lady resolve against accepting his hospitable invitations, and I half suspect hurried off a day or two before her time. This host of ours was a very
person,no other than William Cobbett. Sporting, not politics, had brought about our present visit and
subsequent intimacy. We had become acquainted with Mr. Cobbett two or three years before, at this very house, where we were now dining to meet Mrs. Blamire. Then my father, a great sportsman, had met him while on a coursing expedition near Alton-had given him a greyhound that he had fallen in love with-had invited him to attend another coursing meeting near our own house in Berkshire—and finally, we were now, in the early autumn, with all manner of pointers, and setters, and greyhounds, and spaniels, shooting ponies, and gun-cases, paying the return visit to him.
He had at that time a large house at Botley, with a lawn and gardens sweeping down to the Bursledon River, which divided his (Mr. Cobbett’s) territories from the beautiful grounds of the old friend where we had been originally staying, the great squire of the place. His own house-large, high, massive, red, and square, and perched on a considerable eminence - always struck me as being not unlike its proprietor. It was filled at that time almost to overflowing. Lord Cochrane was there, then in the very height of his warlike fame, and as unlike the common notion of a warrior as could be. A gentle, quiet, mild young man, was this burner of French fleets and cutter-out of Spanish vessels, as one should see in a summerday. He lay about under the trees reading Selden on the Dominion of the Seas, and letting the
children (and children always know with whom they may take liberties) play all sorts of tricks with him at their pleasure. His ship's surgeon was also a visitor, and a young midshipman, and sometimes an elderly lieutenant, and a Newfoundland dog; fine sailor-like creatures all. Then there was a very learned clergyman, a great friend of Mr. Gifford, of the “ Quarterly," with his wife and daughter-exceedingly clever persons. Two literary gentlemen from London and ourselves completed the actual party; but there was a large fluctuating series of guests for the hour or guests for the day, of almost all ranks and descriptions, from the Earl and his Countess to the farmer and his dame. The house had room for all, and the hearts of the owners would have had room for three times the number.
I never saw hospitality more genuine, more simple, or more thoroughly successful in the great end of hospitality, the putting everybody completely at ease. There was not the slightest attempt at finery, or display, or gentility. They called it a farmhouse, and everything was in accordance with the largest idea of a great English yeoman of the old time. Everything was excellent-everything abundant-all served with the greatest nicety by trim waiting damsels; and everything went on with such quiet regularity that of the large circle of guests not one could find himself in the way.
I need not