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EDWARD HERBERT'S LETTERS TO THE FAMILY OF THE POWELLS.
To Russell Powell, Esq. MY DEAR RUSSELL !- The kind in- mendous hive, into which,--rash terest which all your family took in drone as I am !-I have at length the letter which I addressed to your ventured to creep. I am now, my, sister, descriptive of the Coronation, dear Russell, seeing all that can be has rendered the task of writing to seen,-insinuating myself into scenes any one of you the most delightful and amongst characters which half amusement of my evening hours; of London even know only by hearand I have now a double pleasure in șay, -- wandering amongst the noblest witnessing the various scenes which buildings around me, -harvesting, make up the great drama of life in in truth, within the granary of my this metropolis, from a knowledge of mind, food enough to last your hunthe gratification I shall have in de- gry spirits through the winter. Russcribing them, and the interest you sell! strange and opposite have will feel in hearing them described. been my researches of late.--I have You well know my restless and un- been to the green-room of a princi, appeasable hunger of mind, after all pal theatre, and witnessed all the that is either curious or instructive craft, hate, and envy,
« found only in this world, -not regarding per- on the stage,” as my Lord Byron sonal comfort, or even personal safe- well expresses it in his sweet nuity, in the attainment of any interest- sance, Don Juan ;-- and I have pes ing object, and ever disciplining my netrated into all the heartless eagertemper and my mind to meet and ness, guileful ferocity, and desperate mingle with all descriptions of per- spirit of the cock-pit. Greenwich sons, in order to the observing of Hospital has opened to my eyes its their habits, their pleasures, or their majestic, enormous, and beautiful peculiarities. I love to visit the charities;- and the bear-garden has great national buildings, which com- made me familiar with its strange, memorate either the country's taste, antique, and brutal mysteries. I or the country's charities and wealth; have beheld the costly state and - I love to behold the revelries, the fineries of a court,-the strife, the terglories, the pastimes, of the rich and rors, the appalling fierceness of a the great ;-) take a deep interest in bull-fight,- the pictorial wealth and the amusements, the rude sports, the stately formalities of Hampton panoisy vivacity of the poor. You know lace,—the beautiful and `exciting that my knowledge of London had conflict of two great pugilists. Have previously arisen principally from the not my pursuits been various, and books which I had read, and that my my curiosity unwearied and deteractual experience of life had been mined ?— My letters will now, if my gained chiefly from the small life of health and leisure permit, give to market towns and country revels. you, my dear Russell, or to your How often, Russell, have we ejacu- sisters, if the subject should beseem lated wishes to each other, when them, faithful accounts of my travels, standing at a wrestling match, or --accounts which will be novel at looking upon the lads of single stick, least; for I do not remember to have or, when walking over the most cele- read any description of several of brated houses “ for miles round,”- the scenes which I have enumerated. that we could see and admire those – The buildings, the theatres, the higher and more exciting struggles court, will have gaiety and beauty and combats of the great city,-those enough to interest the ladies' minds; theatres, temples, and palaces, of for what female heart is proof which we had so often read, even to against pointed lace, or can contemdreaming--that we could watch and plate ruffles without emotion?-while wonder at the workings of that tre- the rougher diamonds of the cock
pit, the bear-garden, and such rude grant paper, and kept in the innermines, will be rich jewels in the cap most recess of her pocket book) is of your curiosity. I have, indeed, à just dashed with a glossy white, scene in store which will be brighter which seems to light upon
him more and costlier than all the rest; but I like the glory than the waste of age, dare not hint at it yet, lest I ruin and brightens, if possible, the semy chance of being taken to it at all, rene sweetness of his forehead. He or rashly endanger my safety while speaks very little, but he looks as if there :-rest, rest, perturbed Russell! his thoughts ran on with the radiant until I shall in my wisdom see fit to solemnity of a river. His observaexhibit this brilliant and matchless tions, indeed, when they do come gem to your wondering, your de- forth, are remarkable only for their lighted eyes.
simplicity and humane gentleness; I should not omit to inform you, and you feel convinced that they that Mrs. Mallinson's letter of intro- are, as the old play hath it, killed duction to the Mortons has been to with kindness. His thoughts remain me most serviceable and successful, with him, but his feelings come forth for they have taken me by the hand and speak, and you may ever perceive with the utmost friendship and libe- that his mind discourses silently and rality, and have obtained for me with itself, while his heart is the active the sight of many London lions :- and eloquent minister to his tongue. indeed, they appear to me to have I wish, Russell, you could see him access to all the chief cages of the sitting at his table, or at his fireside, city, and the Hectors and Fannys of and lighting the conversation with this marvellous metropolis are fami- his pleasant looks. All customs, all liar to them as household words. To pleasures, all regulations, take their render my letters the more intelligi- exactness from his presence, and I ble to you, as the Mortons will make never saw order wear so attractive a the principal dramatis persone of my garb as that in which Mr. Morton epistolary drama, I will attempt as clothes her. He has the most preclear a description of them as I can cise and quiet mode of taking his accomplish; relying upon your in- seat, or reading the newspaper (and genuity for colouring my sketch quiet as he naturally is, he is yet with the lively and gallant tints of deeply interested in the political agiyour own imagination. I shall tations which ever disturb the heart merely offer you the family in out- of his country), or stirring the fire, or line, after the style of Retsch's Faust, putting on his spectacles. He goes being convinced that none but a to an office somewhere in the city masterly hand can safely venture daily, but I do not see that his upon a minute finishing. Mr. Mor- merchant-life distracts his home ton, the father, is one of those gentle comforts, or molests his morning and silent characters, which are ra- thoughts; whether it be that his pether spirits of the household, than culiar temperament places all come active and common mortal portions mercial fluctuation in a mild and of it :-never mingling in the petty softening atmosphere, or that he strifes and light joys of the mo meets not with those temporary difment,—but softening and quieting the ficulties and perplexities which call former with a bland and pleasant daily at the most obscure and dusty placidity, and heightening the latter dens of business, and afflict the nerves by a cheerful and generous regard. of the oldest and most staid merchant, His
age I should guess to be about I know not; but the rise and fall fifty-six; you may perceive that of stocks—the intricacies of the mara Time is beginning to write a few kets—the uncertainties and dangers faint lines upon his forehead, and of the shipping--the more polished that his eye begins to show that pa- difficulties, and changes, and higher tient wisdom which only comes of mysteries of the court, abide not with the light of many years. His hair Mr. Morton. He hears the din of (which Mrs. Morton tells me was a the nation, and it stuns him not :raven black “ when they were mar- he sees the great game of the world ried,” and of which she has one played, and heeds not its rogueries, precious lock, neatly folded in fra- its ruin, or its fascinations. His
heart is in his home, and in his or that picture; and she points out famıly, and he does not ever look to the disposition of the lights and shades the winners and the losers elsewhere. which frames the resemblance. She Such is Mr. Morton. To me he is never delivers her opinions authoriunusually loquacious, which is a sure tatively, or with a consciousness of mark of his regarding me kindly ; power, but suggests wisdom for the and the other evening he took par- adoption of others ;--and often so ticular joy, during our rubber, in expresses an ingenious thought, that always having a king for my queen, her husband, by a' word or two, and laughed outright in detecting a seems to originate rather than conrevoke which I committed ; which firm it. It is her chief desire to was the most gratifying sign.-He, make Mr. Morton appear superior to in general, pities the objects of his herself, and to that end, her voice triumphs, and silently pines over his and her manner are gentle and subown success, which he ever thinks dued in his presence, as though she
runs too much on one side." took all her feelings, thoughts, and
Mrs. Morton is a woman of the wishes, from his heart and mind :most superior mind and admirable though to those whose observation manners; and I never hear her men- is acute, it is evident that her knowtioned, even by friends, without ex- ledge is far more profound than she pressions of the most untainted en- chuses to lay open. By an ease of dearment. The silence and worldly manner peculiar to herself she acinaptitude of her life-partner have commodates her mind to that of called forth the powers of her mind, every person with whom she conand given a constant exercise to her verses, and never offends an inferior fine judgment. She has the most capacity with the least sign of supleasing way of insinuating plain ada periority. With all these higher vice that I ever beheld ; and I be- qualifications of mind, she is at lieve it is impossible to disregard heart a very woman, and has all the sweet persuasion and delicate the delicate tenderness, and unfailing earnestness of her voice and expres- love, of her sex. The lock of hair sion. She is younger than Mr. Mor- which she preserves with the youthton by some years, and has a face still ful mystery of a girl, awakens early eloquent with beauty. The dark eye, pride and young joy within her, and --the happy forehead,--the pale cheek, sets her dreaming over Mr. Morton's -the mouth, made ever pleasant marriage dress and manly person, by a thousand amiable smiles, seem and calls up the mode of his hair, still to retain the sweeter virtues of and the astounding colour of his youth, and enforce the wisdom of coat. “Your uncle was dressed in experience by giving it a charm bright blue, and had ruffles of this which experience seldom possesses. breadth (measuring a width upon Mrs. Morton is admirably well read her sleeve, that never fails to exalt in all the sound authors of our lan- all the female eyebrows in the room), guage, and can converse on subjects I think he was certainly the handwhich seldom come under the con somest man of his time !-I wore sideration of women. She is mistress that dress which you now and then of the learned enthusiasm, holy contemplate in my drawer, and I poesy, and breathing piety of Bishop cannot say I think the brides of the Taylor, and can lead you through present age dress so becomingly as the quaint periods of Sir Thomas those of my own day.” Such womanBrowne's rich and antique philo- ly reminiscences as these are always sophy. Shakspeare and Spenser are said with a mellowed tone of voice, familiar to her, in their deepest fan- and with a glisten of the eye, which cies, and most curious excellencies ; show how much the devoted nature and she is skilful in her knowledge of the sex triumphs over the acof the works of the most eminent quired formalities and tastes of life. painters. She enlightens common Mrs. Morton sits at her table like a walks, the idlest evening rambles, queen, in the true dignity of grace, with talk, all breathing information, and I am happy to say, Russell, that and pleasure, and truth. The distant I stand well at her drawing-rooms gloomy landscape reminds her of this and domestic court.
This excellent couple are without signature? Not but that I could alchildren of their own, but they have ways detect you! Not yours! dear taken to their bosoms two nieces and me! Well I thought them not quite à nephew, the daughters and son of pensive enough.-But I don't believe Mr. Morton's brother, whom they you.-0! What is Lord Byron cherish as their own, and upon whom about? Mr. (naming another they lavish all those paternal endear- literary name) tells me that he is writments which, in the want of an objecting a tragedy. I think Marino Faliero, to rest upon, so often irritate and em- horrid! Mr. (naming an actor) bitter the married life. The eldest of assures me it would never get up! these young ladies is naturally of a Have you read Don Juan? I have good heart, I believe; but she has so not: but I think it abounds with màný acquired faults, so many beautiful passages, though it is a sad lady-artifices and studied pretti- wicked book. O! what do you think nesses, that I never know when she of's prose ? Is it not flowery and is thoroughly interested or earnestly beautiful You never know whether moved. She is a polite adorer of liter- it is poetry or prose, which is so vastly ature and the draina,—and follows the delightful.” - This is a slight and stage more like a religion than a light meagre sketch of the style of Pruand occasional amusement. From dence's conversation, which I must, certain connexion's she has become in as usual, leave to the powers which timate with some of the performers, you possess of making a miserable deand the consequence is, that a morn- scription opulent. She has great gooding visit from any tragedian is a sure nature, the eternal palliative of all forerunner of seriousness for the day, disagreeable qualities, and can at a a support and a stay to her pensive quiet fireside make herself amusing looks, which she leans upon with a and intelligent, but a stranger at tea, most dignified reserve. Niiss Pru- or an extra wax candle in the sconce, dence Morton (she was the first of an is the never-failing destroyer of all her intended series of the cardinal virtues, natural freedom. And she straightwhich, to her mother's deep disappoint- way exalts herself into the wary, the ment, was broken in upon by the per- wise, the literary Prudence. Some of verse arrival of two brothers into thi
her sayings are remembered, but conbreathing world) Miss Prudence Mor- sidering the plentiful crop of her conton, I repeat her name, is a decided versation it is wonderful that a few Blue, at least as far as youth and its scanty ears only are preserved. When established foibles will permit her to her form is at its height she, like the be. She is tall, and has dark earnest lovely Marcia, “ towers above her eyes, which at evening parties go sex," and that considerably, and I through and through you in search shall not easily forget the prodigious of literary information. She loves to step and grasp with which she wheeled secure to her own reading the per me down the stone-staircase of Mr. son and the attention of some young Morton's house the other day at gentleman in the sonnet line, and to dinner. extract all the sweets from his brain Agnes Morton, younger than either as store for the cells of her own peri- her brother or sister, is one of those cranium. She sits at him. She so dis- sweet little fairy creatures which we poses her attitude, that his hodily re seem to recognize as the realization of treat is rendered impracticable. Her some dim poetic dream, or favourite eyes are levelled against him, and she beauty of the fancy. Her light blue steadily fires down upon his helpless eyes, softening beneath the shadowy ears the twenty-pounders of her heavy yet even tracery of her eye-brows, interrogatories. “ Have you seen gleam upon you with a modesty and Campbell's song in the last New tenderness almost unearthly :-and Monthly, and is it not charming ? the airy figure, ever simply attired, Not seen it! I own I wonder at that. seems framed only to be lighted about Mr. — (naming some literary name) by such gently radiant eyes. Her copied it out for me before it was in'; very motion has feeling in it: and her and I like it amazingly:-0! and are voice is quite Shakspearian, being low those your lines in the London? I know and sweet, an excellent thing in wothey are-but why do you use that man. Indeed her ell-like shape, melo
dious tones, and retired looks, seem fine manly person, which, however, he contrived by nature as contrasts to a little distorts by the decisive cut the gigantic figure, vehement voice, of his coat, and the Corinthian roundand vampire gaze of Miss Prudence. ness of his collar,— but it is not at all Agnes, worthy owner of that inno- unpleasant to behold his light lithe cent appellation, hath the sweetest person disdaining the restraint and and simplest wisdom in the world : imprisonment of dress, and dancing Agnes with her lamb-like heart, and about under the Merino and the buck« those dove's eyes,” by gentleness ram with all the loose liberty of a boy at carries all before her. She rules all school. His spirits, when excited, run hearts, as by some fairy spell. Her riot, and trample upon fashion in their soft exclamations of attachment, dis- freedom. Buttons, stay-tape, and regard, or wonderment, are potent as button-holes are set at defiance; and acts of parliament, or wills of princes. the natural man bursts through all You must not imagine, Russell, that his envious clouds, and asserts his unI am heart-stricken more than be- tameable glory. Tom is intended for comes a respectful friend, though I the law, if it shall please his volatile fear my description rather borders spirits to suffer such intention to run on the style of the last new novel :- its unshackled course ; but there is no my affections are, as you know, wed- vouching for so heedless and unrelided to books and life, and I see no able a mind, which at a moment's very great probability of my ever de- warning, or even none at all, might viating into the lover. Besides, the waste its sweets behind a grocer's times are ill, my prospects are bound- counter, or inspire crossed-legs and ed, and Mr. Vansittart has set his a thimble on a raised board under a face decidedly against Cupid. dim sky-light. He reads poetry to
Thomas Morton, the nephew, or please Prudence; but he occasionally Tom, as he is more familiarly and tries her patience by the vehemence affectionately called by his near ac- and sameness of his quotations. He quaintance and friends, (and I always has an ill knack of wrenching a prothink that pleasant monosyllabic ap- found or romantic passage from its pellation is a species of short-hand for original beauty and meaning, and of kind-heartedness), is the life, delight, applying it to some unlucky and luånd perplexity of the household; dicrous circumstance, to the utter dis-spirited, volatile, effervescing in may of his elder and more inspired health, and twenty years of age; he sister. She looks upon him with her is at once the source of mirth, affec- tragic eyes, a look of learned remontion, and disorder. When you enter strance; and he receives her rebuke the house he, like Latimer's peculiar with a burst of triumphant laughter, bishop, “ is never idle ;” either the which sinks him only deeper in Miss foil is in his hand, and he is pinking Prudence's displeasure. To Agnes, away at an old portrait of a great great Tom is all that is respectful, gentie, uncle, whose canvas countenance he and sincere, recognizing her unobhas already converted into a frightful trusive manner and exquisite softness rival of the mutmeg-grater; or with of heart with all the generous and muffles on his knuckles, he is dipping sensitive regard of his nature. The away scientifically at the day-lights affectations and enormities of Pruof a pier glass, or getting consider- dence sit uneasily upon him; but the ably the best of a corner-cupboard. pretty manners and engaging looks One while you shall leave him reading of Agnes disarm his ridicule and tame one of Plutarch's lives, or burying his his heedlessness. Mrs. Morton is conbrain in the dark soil of Bishop An- tinually annoyed at the follies and drewes' Divinity ; but leave the room bursts of rash gaiety in Tom, but her for ten minutes, and you will find inimitable discernment into character him on your return trying the latest makes her perceive a virtue under all, quadrille with six chairs and a plate which will yet surmount its present warmer; or exercising his legal powers impediments. Prudence, with all her of oratory, and convincing a green temporary afflictions, sets a proper baize table of the strength of his value upon his services at theatres talents and his hand, and the inveter- and parties, --Agnes loves him for his ate justice of his cause. He has a marked and unceasing gentleness and