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as for his name's sake. He gave employment to more per-
sons than when he was engaged in trade, and his indirect
influence over them was greater ; that of his sister was still
more. The elders of the village remembered her in her



A LOVE STORY. 217

youth, and 1 )ved her for what she then had been, as well as
for what she now was ; the young looked up to her as the
Lady Bountiful, to whom no one that needed advice or
assistance ever applied in vain. She it was who provided
those much approved plum-cakes, not the less savory for
being both homely and wholesome, the thought of which
induced the children to look on to their Lent examination
with hope, and prepare for it with alacrity. Those offices in
a parish which are the province of the Clergyman's wife,
when he has made choice of one who knows her duty, and
has both will and ability to discharge it, Miss Allison per-
formed ; and she rendered Mr. Bacon the farther, and to him
individually the greater, service of imparting to his daughter
those instructions which she had no mother to impart.
Deborah could not have had a better teacher ; but as the
present chapter has extended to a sufficient length,

Diremo U resto in qud che vien dipoi,
Per non venire a noja a me e voi.*



CHAPTER XIII.

A FEW PARTICULARS CONCERNING NO. 113 BISHOPSGATB STREET
WITHIN J AND OF THE FAMILY AT THAXTED GRANGE.

Opinion is the rate of things,

From hence our peace doth flow
I have a better fate than kings,

Because I think it so.

KATHARINE PHILIPS.

THE house wherein Mr. Allison realized by fair dealing
and frugality the modest fortune which enabled him to re-
purchase the homestead of his fathers, is still a Tobacco-
nist's, and has continued to be so from " the palmy days "

* Orlando Innamorato.



218 ROBERT SOUTHEY.

of that trade, when King James vainly endeavored, by the
expression of his royal dislike, to discountenance the newly-
imported practice of smoking ; and Joshua Sylvester thun-
dered from Mount Helicon a Volley of Holy Shot, thinking
that thereby " Tobacco " should be " battered, and the Pipes
shattered, about their ears that idly idolize so base and bar-
barous a weed, or at least-wise overlove so loathsome van-
ity." * For he said,

If there be any Herb in any place

Most opposite to God's good Herb of Grace,

'T is doubtless this ; and this doth plainly prove it,

That for the most, most graceless men do love it.

Yet it was not long before the dead and unsavory odor of
that weed, to which a Parisian was made to say that " sea-
coal smoke seemed a very Portugal perfume," prevailed as
much in the raiment of the more coarsely clad part of the
community, as the scent of lavender among those who were
clothed in fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day : and
it had grown so much in fashion, that it was said children
" began to play with broken pipes, instead of corals, to make
way for their teeth."

Louis XIV. endeavored just as ineffectually to discourage
the use of snuff-taking. His valets de chambre were obliged
to renounce it when they were appointed to their office ;
and the Duke of Harcourt was supposed to have died of
apoplexy in consequence of having, to please his Majesty,
left off at once a habit which he had carried to excess.

I know not through what intermediate hands the business
at No. 113 has passed, since the name of Allison was with-
drawn from the firm ; nor whether Mr. Evans, by whom it
is now carried on there, is in any way related by descent
with that family. Matters of no greater importance to most

* Old Burton's was a modified opinion. See Anatomic of Melan-
choly, Part ii. 2, mem. 2, subs. 2.



A LOVE STORY. 219

men have been made the subject of much antiquarian in-
vestigation ; and they who busy themselves in such inves-
tigations must not be said to be ill-employed, for they find
harmless amusement in the pursuit, and sometimes put up a
chance truth of which others, soon or late, discover the ap-
plication. The house has at this time a more antiquated
appearance than any other in that part of the street, though
it was modernized some forty or fifty years after Mr. Ba-
con's friend left it. The first floor then projected several
feet farther over the street than at present, and the second
several feet farther over the first ; and the windows, which
still extend the whole breadth of the front, were then com-
posed of small casement panes. But in the progress of
those improvements which are now carrying on in the city
with as much spirit as at the western end of the metropolis,
and which have almost reached Mr. Evans's door, it cannot
be long before the house will be either wholly removed, or
so altered as no longer to be recognized.

The present race of Londoners little know what the
appearance of the city was a century ago ; their own city,
I was about to have said ; but it was the city of their great-
grandfathers, not theirs, from which the elder Allisons re-
tired in the year 1746. At that time the kennels (as in
Paris) were in the middle of the street, and there were
no footpaths ; spouts projected the rain-water in streams,
against which umbrellas, if umbrellas had been then in use,
could have afforded no defence ; and large signs, such as are
now only to be seen at country inns, were suspended before
every shop,* from posts which impeded the way, or from
iron supports strongly fixed into the front of the house.
The swinging of one of these broad signs in a high wind,
and the weight of the iron on which it acted, sometimes

* The counting of these signs " from Temple Bar, the furthest
Conduit in Cheapside," &c., is quoted as a remarkable instance of
Fuller's Memory. Life, &c., p. 76, ed. 1662.



220 ROBERT SOUTHEY.

brought the wall down ; and it is recorded that one front-
fall of this kind in Fleet Street maimed several per.-ons,
and killed " two young ladies, a cobbler, and the King's
jeweller."

The sign at No. 113 was an Indian Chief smoking the
calumet. Mr. Allison had found it there; and when it
became necessary that a new one should be substituted, he
retained the same figure, though, if he had been to
choose, he would have greatly preferred the head of Sir
Walter Raleigh, by whom, according to the common belief,
he supposed tobacco had been introduced into this country.
The Water-Poet imputed it to the Devil himself, and pub-
lished

A Proclamation,

Or Approbation,
From the King of Execration

To every Nation,
For Tobacco's propagation.

Mr. Allison used to shake his head at such libellous asper-
sions. Raleigh was a great favorite with him, and held,
indeed, in especial respect, though not as the Patron of his
old trade, as St. Crispin is of the Gentle Craft, yet as the
founder of his fortune. He thought it proper, therefore,
that he should possess Sir Walter's History of the World,
though he had never found inclination, or summoned up
resolution, to undertake its perusal.

Common sense has been defined by Sir Egerton Brydges,
" to mean nothing more than an uneducated judgment, aris-
ing from a plain and coarse understanding exercised upon
common concerns, and rendered effective rather by experi-
ence, than by any regular process of the intellectual powers.
If this," he adds, " be the proper meaning of that quality,
we cannot wonder that books are little fitted for its culti-
vation." Except that there was no coarseness in his nature,
this would apply to Mr Allison. He had been bred up with



A LOVE STORY. 221

the notion, that it behoved him to attend to his business,
and that reading formed no part of it. Nevertheless he had
acquired some liking for books, by looking casually now and
then over the leaves of those unfortunate volumes with
which the shop was continually supplied for its daily con-
sumption.

Many a load of criticism,
Elaborate products of the midnight toil
Of Belgian brains,*

went there ; and many a tome of old law, old physic, and
old divinity ; old history as well ; books of which many
were at all times rubbish ; some which, though little better,
would now sell for more shillings by the page than they
then cost pence by the pound ; and others, the real value
of which is perhaps as little known now, as it was then.
Such of these as in latter years caught his attention, he now
and then rescued from the remorseless use to which they
had been condemned. They made a curious assortment
with his wife's books of devotion or amusement where-
with she had sometimes beguiled, and sometimes soothed,
the weary hours of long and frequent illness. Among
the former were Scott's " Christian Life," Bishop Bayly's
" Practice of Piety," Bishop Taylor's " Holy Living and
Dying," Drelincourt on Death, with De Foe's lying story
of Mrs. Veal's ghost as a puff preliminary, and the Night
Thoughts. Among the latter were Cassandra, the Guard-
ian and Spectator, Mrs. Howe's Letters, Richardson's Nov-
els, and Pomfret's Poems.

Mrs. Allison had been able to do little for her daughter
of that little, which, if her state of health and spirits had
permitted, she might .have done ; this, therefore, as well as
the more active duties of the household, devolved upon Eliz-
abeth, who was of a better constitution in mind as well

* Akenside.



222 ROBERT SOUTHET.

as body Elizabeth, before she went to reside with her
brother, had acquired all the accomplishments which a
domestic education in the country could in those days
impart. Her book of receipts, culinary and medical, might

vied with the " Queen's Cabinet Unlocked." The
spelling indeed was such as ladies used in the reign of
Queen Anne, and in the old time before her, when every

elt as she thought fit ; but it was written in a well-
proportioned Italian hand, with fine down-strokes and broad
up-ones, equally distinct and beautiful. Her speech was
good Yorkshire, that is to say, good provincial English, not
the worse for being provincial, and a little softened by five-
and-twenty years' residence in London. Some sisters, who
in those days kept a boarding-school of the first repute, in
one of the midland counties, used to say, when they spoke
of an old pupil, u her irent to school to we." Miss Allison's
language was not of this kind. it savored of rusticity, not
of ignorance ; and where it was peculiar, as in the metrop-
olis, it gave raciness to the conversation of an agreeable
woman.

She had been well instructed in ornamental work as well
as ornamental penmanship. Unlike most fashions, this had
continued to be in fashion because it continued to be of use ;
though no doubt some of the varieties which Taylor, the
"Water-Poet, enumerates in his praise of the Xeedle, might
have been then as little understood as now :

Tent-work, Raised-work, Laid-work, Prest-work, Net-work,
Most carious Pearl, or rare Italian Cut-work,
Fine Fern-stitch, Finny-stitch, New-stitch and Chain-stitch,
Brave Bred-stitch, Fisher-stitch, Irish-stitch and Queen-stitch,
The Spanish-stitch, Rosemary-stitch and Maw-stitch,
The smarting Whip-stitch. Back-stitch and the Cross-stitch
All these are good, and these we must allow ;
are everywhere in practice now.



There was a book published in the Water-Poet's days,



A LOVE STORY. 22?

with the title of " School House for the Needle " ; it con-
sisted of two volumes in oblong quarto, that form being
suited to it3 plates " of sundry sorts of patterns and exam-
ples " ; and it contained a " Dialogue in Verse between
Diligence and Sloth." If Betsey Allison had studied in
this " School House,'* she could not have been a greater
proficient with the needle than she became under her
Aunt's teaching: nor would she have been more

versed in the arts
Of pies, puddings, and tarts,*

if she had gone through a course of practical lessons in one
of the Pastry Schools which are common in Scotland, but
were tried without success in London, about the middle of
the last century. Deborah partook of these instructions at
her father's desire. In all that related to the delicacies of
a country table, she was glad to be instructed, because it
enabled her to assist her friend ; but it appeared strange to
her that Mr. Bacon should wish her to learn ornamental
work, for rthich -she neither had, nor could forsee any use.
But if the employment had been less agreeable than she
found it in such company, she would never have disputed,
nor questioned his will.

For so small a household, a more active or cheerful
one could nowhere have been, found than at the Grange.
Ben Jonson reckoned among the happinesses of Sir Robert
Wroth that of being " with unbought provision blest." This
blessing Mr. Allison enjoyed in as great a degree as his
position in life permitted ; he neither killed his own meat
nor grew bis own corn ; but he had his poultry-yard, his
garden and his orchard ; he baked his own bread, brewed
his own beer, and was supplied with milk, cream, and butter
from his own dairy. It is a fact not unworthy of notice,
%hat the most intelligent farmers in the neighboihood of
V<ondon are persons who have taken to (arming as a busi-

T. Warton.



224 ROBERT SOUTHEY.

ness, because of their strong inclination for rural employ-
ments ; one of the very best in Middlesex, when the Survey
of that County was published by the Board of Agriculture,
had been a tailor. Mr. Allison did not attempt to manage
the land which he kept in his own hands ; but he had a
trusty bailiff, and soon acquired knowledge enough for
superintending what was done. When he retired from
trade he gave over all desire for gain, which indeed he had
never desired for his own sake ; he sought now only whole-
some occupation, and those comforts which may be said to
have a moral zest. They might be called luxuries, if that
word could be used in a virtuous sense without something
so to qualify it. It is a curious instance of the modification
which words undergo in different countries, that luxury has
always a sinful acceptation in the southern languages of
Europe, and lust an innocent one in the northern ; the
harmless meaning of the latter word, we have retained in
the verb to list.

Every one who looks back upon the scenes of his youth,
has one spot upon which the last light of the evening sun-
shine rests. The Grange was that spot in Deborah's ret-
rospect.

CHAPTER XIV.

A REMARKABLE EXAMPLE, SHOWING THAT A WISE MAN, WHEN HB
RISES IN THE MORNING, LITTLE KNOWS WHAT HE MAY DO BE-
FORE NIGHT.

Now I love,

And so as in so short a time I may,
Yet so as time shall never break that so,
And therefore so accept of Elinor.

ROBERT GREENE.

ONE summer evening the Doctor, on his way back from a
visit in that direction, stopped, as on such opportunities he
usually did, at Mr. Bacon's wicket, and looked in at the



A LOVE STORY. 225

open casement to see if his friends were within. Mr. Bacon
was sitting there alone, with a book open on the table before
him; and looking round when he heard the horse stop,
" Come in, Doctor," said he, " if you have a few minutes to
spare. You were never more welcome."

The Doctor replied, " I hope nothing ails either Deborah
or yourself? "

" No," said Mr. Bacon, " God be thanked ! but something
has occurred which concerns both."

"When the Doctor entered the room, he perceived that the
wonted serenity of his friend's countenance was overcast by
a shade of melancholy thought. "Nothing," said he, "I
hope, has happened to distress you?"

" Only to disturb us," was the reply. " Most people would
probably think that we ought to consider it a piece of good
fortune. One who would be thought a good match for her,
has proposed to marry Deborah."

" Indeed ! " said the Doctor ; " and who is he ? " feeling,
as he asked the question, an unusual warmth in his face.

"Joseph Hebblethwaite, of the Willows. He broke his
mind to me this morning, saying that he thought it best to
speak with me before he made any advances himself to the
young woman: indeed he had had no opportunity of so
doing, for he had seen little of her ; but he had heard enough
of her" character to believe that she would make him a good
wife ; and this, he said, was all he looked for, for he was
well to do in the world."

"And what answer did you make to this matter-of-fact
way of proceeding?"

" I told him that I commended the very proper course he
had taken, and that I was obliged to him for the good opinion
of my daughter which he was pleased to entertain : that
marriage was an affair in which I should never attempt to
direct her inclinations, being confident that she would never
give me cause to oppose them ; and that I would talk with
10* o



226 ROBERT SOUTHEY.

her upon the proposal, and let him know the result. Aa
soon as I mentioned it to Deborah, she colored up to her
eyes ; and with an angry look, of which I did not think those
eyes had been capable, she desired me to tell him that he
had better lose no time in looking elsewhere, for his thinking
of her was of no use. 4 Do you know any ill of him ?' said
I. ' No,' she replied, ' but I never heard any good, and
tha* 's ill enough. And I do not like his looks.' "

" Well said, Deborah ! " cried the Doctor : clapping his
hands so as to produce a sonorous token of satisfaction.

" ' Surely, my child,' said I, ' he is not an ill-looking per-
son ? ' * Father,' she replied, 4 you know he looks as if he
had not one idea in his head to keep company with an-
other.' "

" Well said, Deborah ! " repeated the Doctor.

" Why, Doctor, do you know any ill of him ? "

" None. But, as Deborah says, I know no good ; and if
there had been any good to be known, it must have come
within my knowledge. I cannot help knowing who the per-
sons are to whom the peasantry in my rounds look with re-
spect and good-will, and whom they consider their friends
as well as their betters. And, in like manner, I know who
they are from whom they never expect either courtesy or
kindness."

" You are right, my friend ; and Deborah is right. Her
answer came from a wise heart; and I was not sorry that
her determination was so promptly made, and so resolutely
pronounced. But I wish, if it had pleased God, the offer
had been one which she could have accepted with her own
willing consent, and with my full approbation."

" Yet," said the Doctor, " I have often thought how sad
a thing it -would be for you ever to part with her."

" Far more sad will it be for me to leave her unprotected
as it is but too likely that, in the ordinary course of nature
I one day shall; and as any day in that same ordinary



A LOVE STORY. 227

course, I so possibly may ! Our best intentions, even when
they have been most prudentially formed, fail often in their
issue. I meant to train up Deborah in the way she should
go, by fitting her for that state of life in which it had pleased
God to place her ; so that she might have made a good wife
for some honest man in the humbler walks of life, and have
been happy with him."

" And how was it possible," replied the Doctor, " that you
could have succeeded better ? Is she not qualified to be a
good man's wife in any rank ? Her manner would not do
discredit to a mansion ; her management would make a farm
prosperous, or a cottage comfortable ; and for her principles,
and temper and cheerfulness, they would render any home
a happy one."

" You have not spoken too highly in her praise, Doctor.
But as she has from her childhood been all in all to me,
there is a danger that I may have become too much so to
her ; and that, while her habits have properly been made
conformable to our poor means and her poor prospects, she
has been accustomed to a way of thinking, and a kind of
conversation, which have given her a distaste for those
whose talk is only of sheep and of oxen, and whose thoughts
never get beyond the range of their every day employments.
In her present cirde, I do not think there is one man with
whom she might otherwise have had a chance of settling in
life, to whom she would not have the same intellectual ob-
jections as to Joseph Hebblethwaite : though I am glad tl.it
the moral objection was that which first instinctively oc-
curred to her.

"I wish it were otherwise, both for her sake and my
own : for hers, because the present separation would have
more than enough to compensate it, and would in its con-
sequences mitigate the evil of the final one, whenever that
may be ; for my own, because I should then have no cause
whatever to render the prospect of dissolution otherwise



228 ROBERT SOUTHEY.

than welcome, but be as willing to die as to sleep. It ij
not owing to any distrust in Providence, that I am not thus
willing now, God forbid ! But if I gave heed to my own
feelings, I should think that I am not long for this world ;
and surely it were wise to remove, if possible, the only cause
that makes me fear to think so."

" Are you sensible of any symptoms that can lead to such
an apprehension ? " said the Doctor.

" Of nothing that can be called a symptom. I am to all
appearance in good health, of sound body and mind ; and
you know how unlikely my habits are to occasion any dis-
turbance in either. But I have indefinable impressions,
sensations they might almost be called, which, as I can-
not but feel them, so I cannot but regard them."

" Can you not describe these sensations ? "

" No better than by saying, that they hardly amount to
sensations, and are indescribable."

" Do not," said the Doctor, " I entreat you, give way to
any feelings of this kind. They may lead to consequences
which, without shortening or endangering life, would render
it anxious and burdensome, and destroy both your useful-
ness and your comfort."

"I have this feeling, Doctor; and. you shall prescribe for
it, if you think it requires either regimen or physic. But at
present yon will do me more good by assisting me to pro-
cure for Deborah such a situation as she must necessarily
look for on the event of my death. What I have laid by,
even if it should be most advantageously disposed of, would
afford her only a bare subsistence ; it is a resource in case
of sickness, but while in health, it would never be her wish
to eat the bread of idleness. You may have opportunities
of learning whether any lady within the circle of your prac-
tice wants a young person in whom she might confide, either
as an attendant upon herself, or to assist in the management
of her children, or her household. You may be sure this is



A LOVE STORY. 229

not the first time that I have thought upon the subject ; but
the circumstance which has this day occurred, and the feel-
ing of which I have spoken, have pressed it upon my con-
sideration. And the inquiry may better be made, and the
step taken while it is a matter of foresight, than when it has
become one of necessity."

" Let me feel your pulse ! "

u You will detect no other disorder there," said Mr. Bacon,
holding out his arm as he spake, " than what has been caused
by this conversation, and the declaration of a purpose, which,
though for some time perpended, I had never till now fully
acknowledged to myself."

" You have never then mentioned it to Deborah ? "

" In no other way than by sometimes incidentally speak
ing of the way of life which would be open to her, in case
. of her being unmarried at my death."

" And you have made up your mind to part with
her?"

" Upon a clear conviction that I ought to do so ; that it is
best for herself and me."

"Well, then, you will allow me to converse with her
first upon a different subject. You will permit me to see
whether I can speak more successfully for myself, than you
have done for Joseph Hebblethwaite. Have I your con-
Bent ?"

Mr. Bacon rose in great emotion, and taking his friend's
hand, pressed it fervently and tremulously. Presently they
heard the wicket open, and Deborah came in.

" I dare say, Deborah," said her father, composing himself,
" you have been telling Betsey Allison of the advantageous
offer that you have this day refused."

" Yes," replied Deborah ; " and what do you think she
said? That little as she likes him, rather than that I
should be thrown away upon such a man, she could almost
make up her mind to marry him herself."



230 ROBERT SOUTHEY.

" And I," said the Doctor, " rather than such a man should
have you, would marry you myself."

" Was not I right in refusing him, Doctor ? "

" So right, that you never pleased me so well before ; and
never can please me better, unless you will accept of me
in his stead."

She gave a little start, and looked at him half incredu-
lously, and half angrily withal ; as if what he had said was
too light in its manner to be serious, and yet too serious in



Online Libraryi00bostFavorite authors in prose and poetry → online text (page 59 of 66)