Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

66

no answer.

besides, you are in no need of money; for you have some, and you make no use of it. You must have a little treasure of your own. For a long time you have learned your lessons so well that you always receive your week's allowance; for my part it is as much as I can do to get one week out of four. Eugenia is not Juckier than I am; and we have therefore had our purse in common, and spent it together to the last sixpence. You did not chuse to be ot our society; you are a great deal richer than we are, and especially a great deal more economical.” The poor girl felt all the bitterness of this reproach ; she was grieved by it, but she made

Matilda, the youngest of Madam de Bleville's three daughters, bad at first seemed to have but little taste for study; she was supposed to have neither readiness nor memory. All at once, however, her disposition changed, she became so attentive, so laborious, that having overtaken her sisters, she would have surpassed them, if a modest feeling had not restrained her zeal. Every week Matilda received the reward which was given when the governess was satisfied with the progress of her pupils; but she constantly put by this little sum, and would never purchase any of the rural dainties which her sisters proposed to buy in their walks rouud Bleville. She also denied herself all the other little gratifications which are so naturally wished for at her age, and of which she was, in fact, equally as fond as her sisters were. Nobody could conceive how it happened that she had acquired at once so much aptitude and so much self-denial. Madam Dubreuil, a woman of real merit, whom the countess bad chosen to assist her in the task of educating her daughters, was at first delighted with the happy change which had taken place in Matilda ; but she began, at times, to fear that it had its origin in that love of money which can only have birth in a low mind, incapable of any noble and generous sentiment. Ma. tilda patiently the jokes of her sisters and her young friends on her avarice; they wounded only her self-love, and that the amiable girl sacrificed with firmness ; but, having guessed the half-conceived sus. picion of Madam Dubreuil, her heart was deeply

wounded by it. She often thought of opening hei'mind to her mother, but a sort of bashfulness, which is natural to benevolence, prevented her: and in these internal combats, in which delicacy was triumphant, Matilda acquired energy, and proved that it is not possible to do good without making sacrifices, and having a firm and constant will.

While the three sisters were waiting the getting up of their mother, Matilda's nurse arrived. She was a countrywoman, who lived in the village of Bleville. Notwithstanding the bounty of the countess, Genevieve was poor, because she had a numerous fainily; and, as her dress betrayed her poverty, it was not with out blushes and confusion that she visited the castle. She nevertheless carried her present to the child whom she had nursed. It consisted of butter, cream, and new laid eggs. Matilda received it with expressions of the warmest gratitude, and took her nurse to her room. There, opening a chest of drawers, she drew out a piece of pink-checked cotton, a mob-cap trimmed with lace, a neck-kerchief, and an apron; and, embracing her nurse, she told her that they were all for her. The surprise and pleasure of Genevieve may be easily imagined; the head bailiff's wife would not be finer than she would. Her pleasure was, however, sadly dashed when Matilda entreated her to keep it a secret by whom the present had been made. The honest nurse shook her head, and was going to reply, when the voices of Eugenia and Caroline were heard. They were calling their sister to go with them to the countess. The three children were still pressed in the caressing arms of their affectionate mother, when Genevieve, who was likewise admitted to have the honour of wishing her a happy new year, entered, and paid her respects in her country manner. The countess listened to her with interest, and answered her tenderly. But what a crimson blush spread over the cheek of Matilda, when, in spite of her prohibition, Genevieve opened her apion, shewed all the presents which she had received, and asked if she might accept them. The timid and generous girl hid herself behind her sisters, and the sweet confusion which covered her face enchanted her mo.! ther. Yes, accept them, my good Genevieve, accept

them," said the conntess, who could scarcely restrain her tears; " and you, my child, come to my arms, come and be pressed to my heart. You have not only performed an act of gratitude to the person who nursed you, but you have perseveringly Jahonred that you might be able to perform it; you have borne, privations, and have endured raillery and even suspicion. Bless you, my child, and may you always preserve sueb feelings. I guessed your secret ; and it was in order to facilitate the execution of your plan that I allowed the little pedlar to be admitted the other day, and that I pretended to have my attention occupied on something else, while you were making your purebases. Nothing, escapes the vigilant eye of a mother, and happy is she who, like myself, can discover in the heart of ber children no secrets but those of virtve! This day I shall always consider as one of the most delightful days of my life, and your new year's gift to Genevieve is at the same time a new year's gift to your mother.”

ALF.

FOR THE POCKET MAGAZINE.

A FEW REMARKS ON CONVERSATION. INDIVIDUALS have been often known to make a tolerable figure in conversation who would find it a matter of the greatest difficulty to write a single classical and correct sentence. A better hand might compose a good essay on this subject; but it is the object of the present writer only to throw together a few desultory observations which have occurred to his mind, It does at first sight appear rather remarkable that a man who iscarcely ever opens a book, should loe better able to maintain a spirited conversation, than one who is in the habit of devoting a considerable portion of his time to the consideration of, perhaps, the very subject upon which, in company, he can hardly offer a single comment. That this is not always the case is certain ; but that it frequently happens, I think few will be disposed to deny.' The Auency thus possessed may not be worth much, but still it is possessed ; it may be common-place, but still the author would at the moment give the world to be able to talk, even in that hackuied style; because if he is known as an author, alt eyes are directed towards him, all ears are open to catch nis comments, and to listen to his senti. ments. In conversation, we take little notice of slight inaccuracies; we have no time to weigh a sentence in our minds; its applicability to what is passing at the time is all we careabout: and hence the superiority, in such cases, of the man of words, and of the world, over the man of study, and of seclusion. It may not be amiss to introduce into this place a quotation or two from an excellent article lately published, “ On the Conversation of Authors." "An author is bound to write-well or ill, wisely or foolishly. It is his trade. But I do not see that he is bound to talk, any more than he is bound to dance, or ride, or fence, better than other people. Reading, study, silence, thought, are a bad introduction to loquacity. It would be sooner learnt of chambermaids and tapsters. He understands the art and mystery of his own profession, which is bookmaking; what right has any one to expect or require more from him?-to make a bow gracefully on entering or leaving a room, to make love charmingly, or to make a fortune at all? In all things, there is a division of labour. A lord is no less amorous for writing ridiculous love-letters; nor a general less successful for wanting 'wit and honesty. Why, then, may not a poor author say nothing, and yet pass muster? Set him on the top of a stage coach, he will make no figure he is a mum-chance, while the slang wit Aies about as the dust, with the crack of the whip, and the clatter of the horse's heels: put him in a ring of boxers, he is a poor creature." And of his port as meek as is a maid”-introduce him to a tea-party of milliner's girls, and they are ready to split their sides with laugh. ing at him. Over his bottle he is dry; in the drawingroom, rude or shy. He is too refined for the vulgar, too clownish for the fashionable :-" he is one that cannot make a good legone that cannot eat a mess of broth cleanly-one that cannot ride a horse without spur-galling-one that cannot salute a woman, and look on her directly." In courts, in camps, in town or

country, he is a cypher, or a butt. You cannot get a word out of him for love or money.

Men of any literary character are often unwilling to talk in a light manner upon frivoloussubjects,deeming that such conduct will induce their auditors to think meanly of their abilities and acquirements. This feel, ing may possibly have its birth in egotism : but its influence arises principally, as I conceive, from an er, roneous idea of the spirit which generally, pervades conversational parties. To such persons, a late num. ber of that genuine and beautiful Paper, the Indicator, might be useful; a careful perusal of even the following insulated extract, might

be advantageous in more than one respect." The difference between nonsense not worth talking, and nonsense worth it, is simply this: the former is the result of a want of ideas,

the latter of a superabundance of them *

The wildest rattling, as it is called, in which men of sense find entertainment, cousists of nothing but a quick and original succession of ideas-a finding, as it were, of something in nothing—a rapid turning of the lear er's mind to some new face of thought and sparkling imagery. The man of shallow gravity, besides an un. easy half consciousness that he has nothing of the sort about him, is too dull of perception to see the delicate links between one thought and another; and he takes that for a mere chaos of laughing jargon, in which finer apprehensions perceive as much delightful association, as men of musical taste do in the most trick. some harmonies and accompaniments of Mozart and Beethoven.”

I cannot help thinking that there was more ill-nature than wisdom in what is said to have been a habit of Dr. Jobason, when any thing was related to him which be conceived was undeserving of his favour or attention. After the narrator had told his story, and was looking for an approving smile, he would disappoint him with an exclamation of “ Well, Sir?” and look into the face of the confused person, as if he expected the grand point to be yet told-the spirit of the thing to be yet sent forth. This was harsh and unbecoming in a man of feeling and consideration. It was an uns grateful return to those who had most likely done their

« IndietroContinua »