« PreviousContinue »
ON Monday morning, the 8th of November, I sent off our heavy trunks to Bristol by the carrier. I then paid Mrs. Osborne's bill very cheerfully, not forgetting the servants; and with two small trunks and a band-box placed in the fore-boot of the carriage; and Rosalie, and our faithful little dog, and the two embossed cases, inside, we drove off with four horses, calling at the palace in our way, to take leave of our kind and dear friends. Lady Sundon saw me from a window hand my wife out, and she met us on the staircase: we were followed by Rosalie with the cases, who kept as close to us as she could, until we went into the inner apartments. The interview there, though short, was sufficiently demonstrative of the feeling that existed on both sides. "Edward," said my dear wife," will you have the kindness to bring in those things?" I instantly obeyed. She then took the one from my hand that was intended for the Queen, saying "My dear Lady Sundon, implore Her Majesty to accept this, in remembrance of her most devoted servant." And then reaching the other "Now, this is for yourself, my best friend! and you must not refuse it as a sweet token of my regard, for it contains Indian perfumes. You will not be jealous of our royal mistress," continued she," when you find hers
more splendid than that I give to you." - "I cannot imagine what they are,” replied her Ladyship, smiling kindly; "but believe me, my dear friend, whatever it is, I accept it for your sake! and however sweet the Indian perfume may be, its coming from your hand will make it doubly so. And I am sure Her Majesty will not refuse your other sweet offering; for as you have my heart, I am confident you have hers also." Saying this, her Ladyship kissed my wife most affectionately; tears stood in their eyes; and for fear of playing the woman too, I suddenly caught hold of Lady Sundon's hand, and pressing it gently, faltered out" Farewell!" and made my escape, leaving Rosalie to conduct her mistress down the first flight of steps, where I waited to receive her. Lady Sundon stood a little above, with many a tender parting word upon her lips; thus was our last farewell! We then hurried down to the carriage, got in, and drove off by St. James's Street for Oxford, on our route for Gloucestershire.
The roads were excessively heavy and full of ruts, so that although we had four horses all the way, it was as much as we could accomplish to get into Oxford by bedtime, being much embarrassed by the darkness of the evening.
Although we were anxious to embrace our much loved friends, yet it would have been unpardonable to lose this present opportunity of seeing the renowned University of Oxford; and accordingly we spent the whole of Tuesday visiting the different colleges and the Bodleian Library, leaving Rosalie at the inn to keep Fidele company;
he, poor dog! like some other famed travellers, having no great stomach for books. We were much gratified by all we saw, and made some notes of it, to enable us to call up again to our - recollection more distinctly, the one and the other of these celebrated nurseries of genius and learning.
Early on Wednesday morning, we drove forward to Woodstock; and after breakfast paid a visit to Blenheim. The noble founder of the
house of Marlborough was no more, but his Duchess was still living. We admired the grandeur of this superb place, worthy of the object for which it was designed: but our chief pleasure arose from visiting the tapestry rooms, not however on account of the tapestry, for however curious and worthy it may be in point of the subject and fabric, and brightness of the colours, yet the limning is altogether so wretched, that it is impossible to dwell on any of the pieces with delight; but the fine paintings of Carlo Dolce, and many other great artists, charmed us to the soul; although untutored in estimating the character or value of pictures, we felt as if we could have remained for ever gazing on them. The person who went through the rooms with us, named the painters as he described the pictures; but he did it with indistinct rapidity, hurrying us unpleasantly along. My dear wife seemed particularly distressed by his haste, when she was rapturously engaged in contemplating a picture of a Madonna, whose hand appeared to stand out from the canvass in all the roundness of perfect life: seeing this, I touched
him on the shoulder, and taking him aside, slipped a guinea into his hand. - "Give us a little time, my good friend," I said. "As much as her Ladyship pleases," he replied; so we then stood to admire whatever we thought worthy of admiration, and proceeded leisurely. At length we came to the library, built much on the scale of Noah's ark: there was a fine statue of Queen Anne, in Parian marble, at one end, by an Italian artist, which we much commended. And having put my name down in a book on entering the mansion, we had nothing more to do on going away than to give some money to the servants; and not having time to visit the noble grounds, we returned to our carriage, and drove off on our route for Gloucester.
The roads and inns were abominable all the way, and the horses and tackling bad as could be, after we dicharged the postilions who brought us from Woodstock, sometimes finding it difficult to get the second pair. We thought to take a late dinner at the village of Cheltenham; but things promised so miserably, that I ordered horses to be put to, with flambeaux-men, and drove on to Gloucester. We were comfortably lodged there, and had a good dinner or supper, or whatever else you please to call it, about six o'clock.
Next morning we felt rather stiff, and thought a bath would refresh us; but the weather was too cold for any thing but a warm bath, and there was no such thing to be had; so we made a virtue of necessity, and left the stiffness to wear off as it came; and as I had said to my Eliza's father, in my last letter, that we should be with him a little
after the noontide of this day, I hurried breakfast, and took care to have four good horses, with decent-looking fellows for postilions; and about nine o'clock we set off in great spirits for our native village, after an absence of a little more than three years.
As we drew nearer and nearer to the cradle of our childhood years, object crowded on object, claiming our recollections and regard. At length we saw the church through the leafless trees; our hearts then rebounded with joy: the parsonagehouse next appeared, and dear Mr. Goldsmith standing before the door. "Sit on this side, dearest Eliza!" said I, hastily, " that you may be next to your father, when the carriage-door is opened." She quickly took the place, and the postilions pulled up; one of them dismounted like lightning, opened the door, and drew down the steps: he had scarcely got out of the way, when my beloved was in her father's arms, but not one word from either. I saw my three sisters in the back ground; and Eliza's two remaining sisters clinging to their father and his darling child. The old gentleman, supported by his children, gradually drew towards their house-door; when my own sisters then came up to the carriage, from which I was descending, and received me with a like tenderness of affection. We followed into the house, where I embraced my only earthly father, with all the warmth of feeling, his own worth, and the worth of his incomparable daughter, inspired. Fidele did not wait for Rosalie; he had sprung out after his mistress; and now that higher emotions were softening