ePub 版

Matthew; for, like other people of condition, I always made a point of going to a fashionable chapel, where no shabbaroons or vulgarians were admitted; and, as to hating all those that differ from the established church, I flatter myself I'm as good a Christian in that respect as any in the world, not even barring yourself."

"My dear fellow," cried the alderman, in the maudlin fondness generated by incipient intoxication, "happy to have such a hick!-tip us your fist-fill glass-happy to have such a real patriot and truly religious—hick!— for son in-law-'spose we drink his health-hey!-whathick!"

"And is it I, my darling, that wouldn't be proud and mighty glad to have such a disinterested friend of his country, and firm lover of piety for my father-in-law? Och! then, it's delighted I am!" Sir Dennis returned his companion's cordial shake of the hand, both parties refilled their glasses, a sixth bottle was produced: Sir Matthew growing warm in his abuse of jacobins, levellers, and reformers, drank bumper after bumper to cool himself, until the words came thick from his mouth, his ideas got confused, and the bottles and glasses began to dance a minuet before his eyes. His brother-conservative having confined himself to claret, was not so completely fuddled, but, as his religious zeal gathered fire from every fresh bumper, he at last began to stammer forth and reiterate with more vehemence than distinctness the words, " Pope-radical-devil!"


Capital fellows!" hiccoughed the alderman; "'spose we drink-'spose we drink their healths-capital-hick!" The pious and patriotic alderman fell back in his chair, and was snoring in a minute, while his worthy compeer and competitor rung the bell, and, with the assistance of the footman's arm, made his way to a hackney-coach, and was driven to his lodgings,

When you have to deal with a wrong-headed man, there are no more effectual means for overcoming his prejudices of one sort, than by appealing to those of a different class. Sir Matthew, who hated Irishmen in general, because he had been a heavy loser by the failure of some of their merchants, and who cherished a more especial dislike of men of fashion and coxcombs, became cordially reconciled to Sir Dennis from the moment that he had proved himself to be a potent drinker, a firm upholder of church and state, a strenuous advocate for things as they are, and a decided anti-reformer. Poor Ned Travers, for whom he had always en

tertained a strong partiality, soon vanished from his recollection; and the thought that Ciss had not only a great probability of being a countess, but a certainty of possessing a toper, a tory and an anti-reformer for her husband, filled him with unusual spirits, and rendered him not less impatient than was Sir Dennis himself for the celebration of the nuptials.

Both Lady Middleton and Cecilia felt that as Mrs. Burroughs had been the means of introducing Sir Dennis to the family, she ought to be invited to the wedding; but then it was also felt with equal poignancy, that, as she was only an attorney's wife and a person of no distinction, her name would rather vulgarize than give éclat to the party, while the idea of a glass coach in the procession was not to be endured for a moment. By way of compromise between proprieties and appearances, it was settled that herself and and her husband should be invited to the dinner, an arrangement which was by no means satisfactory to the lady in question, whose prying, busy, and meddling disposition would not allow her to brook this exclusion from the marriage-ceremony. Shrewdly divining its cause, she betook herself to a coach-maker in Long Acre, for whom she had procured two or three orders, and who, in return, for Mrs. Burroughs did nothing for nothing, supplied her gratuitously with second-hand carriages and post horses for her occasional excursions into the country. From this person she procured a handsome coronet chariot, in which she drove to Portland Place, and, informing Lady Middleton that she had engaged it for that express purpose, requested to join the party to the church. Her other claims might have been withstood, but the handsome appearance of the equipage, as Lady Middleton glanced at it from the window, and, above all, the sight of the coronet, were irresistible, and the petition was granted with a smile of more than usual graciousness.

Her ladyship, however, did not consider the name of Mrs. Burroughs sufficiently distingué to be admitted into the newspaper paragraph announcing the nuptials, which, after due consideration, was drawn up in the following form, "Yesterday morning Sir Dennis Lifford, Bart. of Castle Moila, County Galway, led to the hymeneal altar the only daughter of Sir Matthew Middleton, Bart. of Portland Place. The Misses Gauntley and the Misses Curzon Chilvers were bridesmaids, besides whom there were present at the nuptials Lady Gauntley, Mrs. Curzon Chilvers, Lady Selina Silverthorpe, Mrs. O'Gorman French, and Lord

Arthur Fintown. After the ceremony, the happy couple set off for Paris, intending to pass the honey-moon with Sir Dennis Lifford's uncle, the Earl of Ballycoreen, to whose title and large possessions he is expected to succeed. In the evening Sir Matthew and Lady Middleton gave a grand dinner to a large party of fashionable and distinguished


It had been arranged that Gale should come up from Brookshaw to be present at the ceremony, which it was his full intention to have done, notwithstanding his dislike of Sir Dennis; but a relapse, occasioned by his having thrown himself into the water to save the drowning child of a peasant, brought on so many alarming symptoms, that his medical attendant peremptorily forbad his undertaking the jour, ney. Sir Dennis could not listen to any deferment of the ceremony, and it was therefore determined that it should take place on the day originally fixed.

Being but little versed in the arcana of female paraphernalia, we can say little of those sported on the present occasion, farther than to record that Lady Middleton was elegantly attired as usual; that Cecilia, in her bridal array, presented a very interesting appearance, (such, we believe, is the established phrase:) that Mrs. Burroughs, flaunting in her new figured silk dress, and bedizened with as much jewellery and finery, as a morning attire would allow, cut a very showy figure; that the tall Miss Gauntleys, with their orange-flower wreaths, might have been taken for a couple of garlanded May-poles, around which the two little plump Misses Curzon Chilvers were about to dance, while their respective mammas looked very smirking and significant; and that the rest of the ladies were all smart and smiling. Gorgeous were the massive gold chains, and glit tering the rings of Sir Dennis, whose perfumed locks and umbrageous whiskers, always the tender objects of his especial solicitude, had been curled and arranged with a consummate care worthy of the occasion. Sir Matthew, with his chocolate coat, white waistcoat, rubicund good-humoured face, and powdered hair, presented a portly and pleasant appearance; while his gleeful cackling, "Hick, hick!" or loud, hilarious, triumphant laughter diffused cheerfulness through the whole party. Lord Fintown, looking as arch as his unmeaning face would allow, endeavoured to banter the bridesmaids, as they assisted to cut up and envelop slices of wedding-cake; Lady Selina Silverthorpe admired Sir Dennis's travelling carriage, which was waiting at the

door; and Mrs. O'Gorman French, having expressed a vehement admiration of every thing else, followed the example of the bridegroom, by standing before a pier-glass, and admiring herself.

As the carriages made their way towards the church, a trifling incident occurred which was unnoticed by any but Cecilia, on whom it produced a somewhat dispiriting effect. At the corner of one of the streets her eyes encountered for a moment those of Ned Travers, who had stationed himself against a wall to see the procession pass. On perceiving that he was recognised, he coloured deeply and immediately disappeared; but not without awakening a regretful feeling in the heart of the bride, as she thought of the pang which her marriage might occasion in the bosom of her modest and meritorious admirer, of whose worth she became the more sensible now that she was about to lose him for ever. Nor was this impression diminished, when she observed that her mother wore the necklace given to her by Travers. It struck her that there was some indelicacy in her doing so on the present occasion, but she had not penetration enough to detect that Lady Middleton's boasted refinement was that of manners, not of feeling.

In his undisguised contempt for all vulgarians, Sir Dennis would gladly have disappointed the gaping populace by driving to the side-door of the church, and alighting at the vestry; but as Lady Middleton, who was now in her glory, desired to give all possible publicity to an alliance which was to elevate her family in the opinion of the world, she insisted that the carriages should set down at the front gates. By this arrangement, the gazers, who were rather numerous, had an opportunity of seeing and passing their comments on the party as they proceeded into the church, which they entered a few minutes before the appointed time. As the clergyman had not yet arrived, they were escorted by the clerk into the vestry, and requested to sit down till they should be summoned to the altar. Either the reverence inspired by the sacredness of the edifice, or the solemn nature of the ceremony about to be performed, seemed to have checked the tongues of the whole assemblage, for, with the exception of a few inaudible whispers, there was a silence of two or three minutes, which was broken by Sir Dennis, exclaiming, "Ah now! Cecilia dear! don't you think you would look better if this curl was brought down a little lower upon the cheek? Excuse me there! sure it's a million times more becoming. Not a

looking-glass in the room-most uncawmonly extr'or'nary -'pon my honour!" As he drawled out these words the door was hastily thrown open, but instead of the expected clergyman, a tall, attenuated, sickly, and yet fierce-looking figure rushed into the vestry, and fixing upon the bridegroom a look of blended wrath and exultation, shrieked out, "Ha, villain! have I caught thee!"

At sight of this apparition, the terrified Sir Dennis fled instantly through an opposite door, followed with huge strides by the infuriated stranger, who overtook him in the church, and undeterred by the respect due to the place, seized him with his left hand, and began to horsewhip him most unmercifully, branding him, at the same time, with all sorts of opprobrious epithets; while his victim, who offered no resistance, in vain struggled to escape from his sinewy grasp. Struck aghast by this inexplicable and appalling outrage, the bride sunk fainting into her mother's arms; screams of affright burst from some of the females, while the others following Sir Matthew and Lord Arthur, rushed forwards to inquire the cause of this atrocious outrage. On reaching the spot, they found Sir Dennis in the hands of two Bow Street officers, who forced manacles upon his wrists, hurried him into a hackney-coach that was in waiting, and immediately drove away!

« 上一頁繼續 »