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Her husband's books were in a room at the top of a screw staircase, which had scarce been opened since his death; but her own library, for Sabbath or rainy days, was ranged in a little book-press in the parlor. It consisted, so far as I can remember, of several volumes of sermons, a Concordance, Thomas à Kempis, Antoninus's Meditations, the works of the author of the Whole Duty of Man, and a translation of Boethius; the original editions of the Spectator and Guardian, Cowley's Poems (of which I had lost a volume soon after I first came about her house), Baker's Chronicle, Burnet's History of his own Times, Lamb's Royal Cookery, Abercromby's Scots Warriors, and Nisbet's Heraldry.
The subject of the last-mentioned book was my godmother's strong ground; and she could disentangle a point of genealogy beyond any one I ever knew. She had an excellent memory for anecdotes; and her stories, though sometimes long, were never tiresome; for she had been a woman of great beauty and accomplishment in her youth, and had kept such company as made the drama of her stories respectable and interesting. She spoke frequently of such of her own family as she remembered when a child, but scarcely ever of those she had lost, though one could see she thought of them often. She had buried a beloved husband and four children. Her youngest, Edward, “ her beautiful her brave," fell in Flanders, and was not entombed with his ancestors. His picture, done when a child, an artless red and white portrait, smelling at a nosegay, but very like withal, hung at her bed-side, and his sword and gorget were crossed under it. When she spoke of a soldier, it was in a style above her usual simplicity; there was a sort of swell in her language, which sometimes a tear (for her age had not lost the privilege of tears) made still more eloquent. She kept her sorrows, like her devotions that solaced them, sacred to herself. They threw nothing of gloom over her deportment; a gentle shade only, like the fleckered clouds of summer, that increase, not diminish, the benignity of the season.
She had few neighbors, and still fewer visitors; but her reception of such as did visit her was cordial in the extreme. She pressed a little too much, perhaps; but there was so much heart and good-will in her importunity, as made her good things seem better than those of any other table. Nor was her attention confined only to the good fare of her guests, though it might have flattered her vanity more than that of most exhibitors of good dinners, because the cookery was generally directed by herself. Their servants lived as well in her hall, and their horses in her stable. She looked after the airing of their sheets, and saw their fires mended if the night was cold. Her old butler, who rose betimes, would never suffer anybody to mount his horse fasting.
The parson of the parish was her guest every Sunday, and said prayers in the evening. To say truth, he was no great genius, nor much a scholar. I believe my godmother knew rather more of divinity than he did ; but she received from him information of another sort: he told her who were the poor, the sick, the dying of the parish, and she had some assistance, some comfort for them all.
I could draw the old lady at this moment! dressed in gray, with a clean white hood nicely plaited (for she was somewhat finical about the neatness of her person), sitting in her straight-backed elbow-chair, which stood in a large window, scooped out of the thickness of the ancient wall. The middle panes of the window were of painted glass—the story of Joseph and his brethren. On the outside waved a honeysuckle tree, which often threw its shade across her book or her work; but she would not allow it to be cut down. has stood there many a day," said she, “and we old inhabitants should bear with one another.” Methinks I see her thus seated, her spectacles on, but raised a little on her brow for a pause of explanation, their shagreen case laid between the leaves of a silver-clasped family Bible. On one side, her bell and snuff-box; on the other, her knitting apparatus in a blue damask bag.-Between her and the fire an old Spanish pointer, that had formerly been her son Edward's, teased, but not teased out of his gravity, by a little terrier of mine. --All this is before me, and I am a hundred miles from town, its inhabitants, and its business. In town I
have seen such a figure: but the country scenery around, like the tasteful frame of an excellent picture, gives it a heightening, a relief, which it would lose in any other situation.
Some of my readers, perhaps, will look with little relish on the portrait. I know it is an egotism in me to talk of its value; but over this dish of tea, and in such a temper of mind, one is given to egotism. It will be only adding another to say, that when I recall the rural scene of the good old lady's abode, her simple, her innocent, her useful employments, the afflictions she sustained in this world, the comforts she drew from another, I feel a serenity of soul, a benignity of affections. which I am sure confer happiness, and I think must promote virtue.
This delightful paper appears to have had its just effect on the readers of the Lounger. It produced some pleasant remarks from a correspondent who signed himself “ Urbanus ;” and these remarks produced a letter from the Editor himself, under the signature of " Adrastus,” which contains a sort of character of an Old Gentleman to match that of the Old Lady, and has also a tone of reflection that will sensibly affect most readers, especially those at a similar time of life.
LOVE OF THE COUNTRY IN THE DECLINE
FROM THE SAME, No. 93. SIR, TIR,-1, as well as your correspondent Urbanus, was very
much pleased with your late paper on the moral use of the country, and the portrait of the excellent lady it contained. I am an old man, sir, but thank God, with all my
faculties and feelings entire and alive about me; and your description recalled to my memory some worthy characters with which my youth was acquainted, and which, I am inclined to believe, I should find it a little difficult, were I even disposed to look out for them, to supply now. At my time of life, friends are a treasure which the fortunate may have preserved, but the most fortunate can hardly acquire ; and if I am not mistaken in my opinion of the present race, there are not many friendships among them which I would be solicitous to acquire or they will be likely to preserve. It is not of their little irregularities or imprudencies I complain ; I know these must always be expected and pardoned in the young; and there are few of us old people who can recollect our youthful days without having some things of that sort to blush for. No, Mr. Lounger, it is their prudence, their wisdom, their foresight, their policy, I find fault with. They put on the livery of the world so early, and have so few of the weaknesses of feeling or of fancy! To this cause I impute the want of that rural sentiment which your correspondent Urbanus seems to suppose is banished only from the country retreats of town dissipation, from the abodes of fashionable and frivolous people, who carry all the follies and pleasures of a city into scenes destined for rural simplicity and rural enjoyment. But in truth, sir, the people of the country themselves, who never knew fashionable life, or city dissipation, have now exchanged the simple-hearted pleasures which in my younger days were common among them, for ideas of a much more selfish sort. Most of my young acquaintance there and I spend at least eight months of the year in the country) are really arrived at that prudent way of estimating things which we used to be diverted with in Hudibras :
“For what's the value of a thing,
But as much money as 'twill bring ?"
Their ambition, their love, their friendship, all have this tendency; and their no-ambition, their no-love, their no-friendship, or, in one word, their indifference about every object from which some worldly advantage is not to be drawn, is equally observable on the other band. On such a disposition, Mr. Lounger, what impression is to be made by rural objects or rural scenery? The visions which these paint in fancy, or the tender ties they have on remembrance, cannot find room in an imagination or a heart made callous by selfish and interested indifference. 'Tis with regret rather than resentment that I perceive this sort of turn so prevalent among the young people of my acquaintance, or those with whom I am connected. I have now, alas! no child of my own in whom I can either lament such a failing, or be proud of the want of it.
I think myself happy, sir, that, even at my advanced period of life, I am still susceptible of such impressions as those which our 87th Number imputes to rural contemplation. At this season, above all others, methinks they are to be enjoyed. Now in this fading time of the year, when the flush of vegetation and the glow of maturity is past, when the fields put on a sober or rather saddened appearance, I look on the well-known scenery around my country dwelling, as I would