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that was good;" and Columbine is the boarding-school girl, ripe for running away with, and making a dance of it all the way from Chelsea to Gretna Green.
Pantomime is the only upholder of comedy, when there is nothing else to show for it. It is the satirist or caricaturist of the times, ridiculing the rise and fall of hats and funds, the growth of aldermen, or of topknots, the pretences of quackery; and watching innovations of all sorts, lest change should be too hasty. But this view of it is only for the older boys. For us, who, upon the strength of our sympathy, boast of being among the young ones, its life, its motion, its animal spirits, are the thing. We sit among the shining faces on all sides of us, and fancy ourselves now enjoying it. What whim! what fancy! what eternal movement. The performers are like the blood in one's veins, never still; and the music runs with equal vivacity through the whole spectacle, like the pattern of a watered ribbon. In comes Harlequin, demi-masked, party-coloured, nimble-toed, lithe, agile; bending himself now this way, now that; bridling up like a pigeon: tipping out his toe like a dancer: then taking a fantastic skip; then standing ready at all points, and at right angles with his omnipotent lath-sword, the emblem of the converting power of fancy and lightheartedness. Giddy as we think him, he is resolved to show us that his head can bear more giddiness than we fancy, and lo! beginning with it by degrees, he whirls it round into a very spin, with no more remorse than if it were a button. Then he draws his sword, slaps his enemy, who has just come upon him, into a settee; and springing upon him, dashes through the window like a swallow. Let us hope that Columbine and the high road are on the other side, and that he is already a mile on the road to Gretna: for
Here comes Pantaloon with his stupid servant; not the Clown, but a proper grave blockhead, to keep
him in heart with himself. What a hobbling old rascal it is! How void of any handsome infirmity! His very gout is owing to his having lived upon two-pence farthing. Not finding Harlequin and Columbine, he sends his servant to look on the further part of the house, while he hobbles back to see what has become of that lazy fellow the Clown.
He, the cunning rogue, who has been watching mid-way, and now sees the coast clear, enters in front, -round-faced, goggle-eyed, knockkneed, but agile to a degree of the dislocated, with a great smear from his mouth, and a cap on his head, half fool's and half cook's. Commend him to the dinner that he sees on table, and that was laid for Harlequin and his mistress. Merry be their hearts: there is a time for all things; and while they dance through a dozen inns to their hearts' content, he will eat a Sussex dumpling or so. Down he sits, making himself a luxurious seat, and inviting himself with as many ceremonies as if he had the whole day before him: but when he once begins, he seems as if he had not a moment to lose. The dumpling vanishes at a cram :—the sausages are abolished :-down go a dozen yards of macaroni: and he is in the act of paying his duties to a gallon of rum, when in come Pantaloon and his servant at opposite doors, both in search of the glutton, both furious, and both resolved to pounce on the rascal headlong. They rush forward accordingly; he slips from between with a “Hallo, I say;" and the two poor devils dash their heads against one another, like rams. They rebound fainting asunder to the stage-doors: while the clown, laughing with all his shoulders, nods a health to each, and finishes his draught. He then holds a gallon cask or a snuff-box to each of their noses, to bring them to; and while they are sneezing and tearing their souls out, jogs off at his leisure.
Ah-here he is again on his road, Harlequin with his lass, fifty miles advanced in an hour, and caring no
thing for his pursuers, though they have taken the steam-coach. Now the lovers dine indeed; and having had no motion to signify, join in a dance. Here Columbine shines as she ought to do. The little slender, but plump rogue! How she winds it hither and thither with her trim waist, and her waxen arms! now with hand against her side, tripping it with no immodest insolence in a hornpipe; now undulating it in a waltz; or caracoling" it, as Sir Thomas Urquhart would say, in the saltatary style of the opera-but always Columbine; always the little dove who is to be protected; something less than the opera-dancer, and greater; more unconscious, yet not so; and ready to stretch her gauze wings for a flight, the moment Riches would tear her from Love.
But these introductions of the characters by themselves do not give a sufficient idea of the great pervading spirit of the pantomime; which is motion; motion for ever, and motion all at once. Mr. Jacob Bryant, who saw everything in anything, and needed nothing but the taking a word to pieces to prove that his boots and the constellation Boötes were the same thing, would have recognised in the word pantomime the Anglo-antediluvian compound a panto'-mimes; that is to say, a set of mimes or mimics, all panting togeth
Or he would have detected the obvious Anglo-Greek meaning of a set of mimes expressing pan, or everything, by means of the toe,-pantoe-mime. Be this as it may, pantomime is certainly a lively representation of the vital principle of all things, from the dance of the planets down to that of Damon and Phillis.
Everything in it keeps moving; there is no more cessation than there is in nature; and though we may endeavour to fix our attention upon one mover or set of movers at a time, we are conscious that all are going on. The Clown, though we do not see him, is jogging somewhere-Pantaloon and his servant, like Saturn and his ring, are still careering it behind their Mercury and Venus; and when Harlequin and Columbine come in, do we fancy they have been resting behind the scenes? The notion! look at them: they are evidently in full career; they have been, as well as are, dancing; and the music, which never ceases whether they are visible or not, tells us as much.
Let readers, of a solemn turn of mistake, disagree with us if they please, provided they are ill humoured. The erroneous, of a better nature, we are interested in; having known what it is to err like them. These are apt to be mistaken out of modesty, (sometimes out of a pardonable vanity in wishing to be esteemed;) and in the case before us, they will sin against the natural candor of their hearts by condemning an entertainment they enjoy, because they think it a mark of sense. those know themselves to be wiser than those who are really of that opinion. There is nothing wiser than a cheerful pulse, and all innocent things which tend to keep it so. The crabbedest philosopher that ever lived, (if he was a philosopher, and crabbed against his will,) would have given thousands to feel as they do: and would have known that it redounded to his honour and not to his disgrace, to own it.
THE BACHELOR'S BEAT.-NO. IV.* THE BACHELOR'S CHRISTMAS.
HRISTMAS is come and gone, and I am again alone! That it is not good for man to be so, is a
truth which eleven years of absolute solitude have taught me too often to feel, though it is chiefly at this period
* See page 452, Vol. VIII.
that a sense of utter loneliness finds vent in thought, if not in words. It is not in spring, when the woods are vocal, and the fields instinct with life; it is not in summer, when a contemplative mind finds " tongues in running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything;"—still less amid the sober stillness of autumn -the year's gray twilight, when man holds communings with his spirit, too deep and awful to be shared with his nearest and dearest,-that the burden of solitude becomes oppressive. No! it is when, after partaking in the refined, the social, or the domestic joys of those, among whose firesides custom and consanguinity have divided my holidays, I return to the cheerless meal and silent vigil of my own bachelor home.
And yet it is a beloved home, hallowed by fond recollections, and rich in present enjoyments; endeared by the shelter it afforded to the green loveliness of a mother's old age, which had nothing of age save its sanctity; hallowed, as the scene of a transition which had nothing of death but the name; adorned by her own exquisite taste, and my solicitude for her comfort, with a thousand little refinements which few bachelor homes can boast. It is not that I would give the roof that sheltered her (humble though it be) for the stateliest halls of the revellers I have left, nor the garden she planted for a wilderness" of exotics,-nor the little library originally selected for my Emma, and perused with my mother, for the treasures of the Vatican or Escurial,-but simply, that man has gregarious and social propensities, which, when awakened by human intercourse, leave a painful void behind.
It is nearly twenty years since, with blighted hopes and paralysed energies, I ceased fruitlessly to struggle in the race of life, with those who had still bright eyes to cheer them during the contest, and a prize before them at the goal. The world called my retreat pusillanimous and absurd. I deemed it providential,
when I found, that slender as were my resources, and humble as my home, both would contribute materially to soothe the decline of my mother. Even selfishness might have found its account in the compact— for who can bind up the immedicable wounds of the heart with the skill or the tenderness of a mother?—one, too, gifted, far beyond the generality of her sex, with almost masculine strength of mind, tempered by more than feminine gentleness of disposition. She had seen enough to be an amusing companion, and suffered enough to be an edifying one. There was a sunshine of conscious integrity and benevolence about her, which no despondence could resist; and a vigour of principle and intellect before. which selfishness and inutility shrunk abashed. If her increasing infirmities forbade her literally "going about doing good," there emanated from her humble abode, as from some stationary beacon, a ray of Christian charity precious to the safety and welfare of hundreds. She had wisdom to advise, and influence to promote, and experience to warn, many a young adventurer on the voyage of life; and a purse, that, like the widow's cruise, seemed replenished by the miraculous blessing of Heaven. I never knew any one whose tastes and enjoyments were so delightfully perennial-"age could not wither them, nor custom stale their infinite variety." She loved her friends with the singleness and warmth of a novice in the world. She looked on nature with a relish as exquisite, as one who, having been born blind, was revelling in the luxury of vision; and she had for literature the enthusiasm of fifteen, with the tact arising from fifty years' cultivation of a powerful mind!
What did I not owe her, when, broken-hearted and forlorn, a second time I sought shelter on her maternal bosom! She first soothed her wayward child, by sharing his griefs; then weaned him from them by her bright example. She had buried husband, sons, and daughters, and
stood in the world lonely, but unrepining. Could I, who had but been called on to resign an untasted good, look on her, and refuse to be comforted?
I roused myself to the strife of mutual kindness and good offices. When I was successful, she would tell me I resembled my father; and when her efforts triumphed, I could speak to her of Emma as of a daughter who would have been worthy of her. Surely there are few human ties so tender as that which unites a widowed mother to her widowed son! Both have known joys and griefs, which the other alone can perhaps adequately appreciate-both have just that surplus of chastened and sober feeling to bestow, which the other can afford in return.
Nine happy, yes! happy years did we pass together; yet, when called to resign her, with all her affections unchilled, and her faculties unimpaired, and her talents undimmed by decay, I gathered from these very circumstances the strength requisite to support the trial, for where could I have found that necessary to enable me to see her the gradual prey of imbecility and decay? It pleased Heaven to spare us both the infliction. In the most literal sense of the beautiful language of Scripture, "she fell asleep" and her waking was doubtless with God!
For a period of perhaps more than forty years-excluding the brief feverish ten passed in the vortex of the busy world-my 25th of December had occasionally been passed under the same hospitable roof. When first its Christmas pies and Christmas gambols awakened my childish anticipations, they were blended with vague and groundless fears of a stately and somewhat awful lady, whom the sense of her being my mother's bosom-friend, could not entirely divest of terror in the eyes of childhood.
She was one whose tall majestic form and penetrating eye did but reflect the energies within; and if full-grown folly and titled insignifi
cance withered under her glance, it is not to be wondered that childhood cowered before it. It was not as now, when the presence of parents only animates and emboldens the revels of their emancipated children. Duty is a word grown obsoletewhether happily or not, remains to be seen. Love, in those days, was shrouded and almost stifled under a cold exterior veil of duty. Circumstances had, perhaps, given added stateliness to Lady Mary's deportment, and assumed sternness to her rule; for, left early a widow with a numerous progeny, she had to act a father's and a guardian's part to seven high-spirited youths, amid whom three lovely daughters grew, half unnoticed, like violets in a stately grove.
When I first joined their festive board, it was surrounded by all its olive branches;-hardy adventurers already launched on life's ocean, and returned to cheer the Christmas fire with tales of wonder from sea and land. The pale and pensive student, shuddering as he heard, and feeling that nature meant him for a man of peace;-the rosy sparkling schoolboy, panting with eagerness to share the perils, and partake the joys of active life;—the gentle sisterhood of Graces, listening with rapt attention and varying emotions, legible on each soft fair countenance, to the soldier's foray, and the sailor's watch!-and, lastly, infant urchins like myself, half frightened, half enchanted with what we heard, and escaping from the awful presence of the elders, to re-enact it all-and play at least at men.
No after Christmas fireside boasted the same rich family blessings. One or other gallant boy was ever absent and in peril; and it was the silent tear that dimmed Lady Mary's usually keen blue eye, as it rested on their vacant place, that first knit my heart with filial veneration to my mother's friend. With the necessity, too, for absolute despotism, its foreign assumption gradually wore away. The elder ones became en
deared and privileged friends; and the younger, objects of solicitude rather than discipline. More of Lady Mary's leisure could be devoted to her fair daughters, and towards them sternness would have been as impossible as misplaced. The anxious struggle occasioned by an encumbered property gave place to dearlyearned ease and affluence; and the mother reposed upon her laurels, amid filial gratitude, and public veneration.
I went to school and college. Once only, during that busy period, did I Christmas at Dunbarrow. It was a joyous and festive meeting to appearance, for the band of heroes was nearly full, and the newly or dained and piously dedicated student had been summoned to give the hand of the most bewitching of the Graces to a man deemed worthy of the prize. Few have lived long in the world without learning that wedding laughter is the hollowest of all; but not even the thoughtlessness of youth could then render our gaiety spontaneous and sincere. Louisa was going away, probably for life, and with a stranger. Was not this enough to make a mother tremble, and sisters weep, and the very little children hang about her, and forget their gambols? My sympathy, for it was no more, though I was now a susceptible lad of eighteen, found vent in a dislike to Mr. B- which circumstances sadly justified. When Louisa returned to Dunbarrow, it was an early blighted flower, withered by unkindness and misfortune!
From that time, a long period intervened before I again joined the circle. My father died, and my mother removed from the family-seat in the same county with Dunbarrow, to preside over my sister's education in town, and cheer with her presence and counsel my legal studies. We returned no more to --shire, till my blighted hopes, and her repeated losses, made retirement precious to us both; and friendship, as well as a thousand pleasingly painful associa
tions, bade us seek it in our old neighbourhood.
I shall not soon forget the Christmas that succeeded our return, after an absence of thirteen years. Lady Mary's erect and stately form bad shrunk in dimensions, like the halls I once thought boundless. Her step was tottering and feeble, and her powerful mind, though unimpaired, had lost the light of memory to guide its path, and wandered without rudder or compass on the ocean of the past and present.
Her heart, however, was warm as ever, and clung the more tenaciously to early friendships, that much that was more recent eluded its grasp. My mother was hailed with transport-but by that maidenname, which, for thirty long years, had not saluted her ear; and it was among her many causes for thankfulness, that Heaven had sent her, as a ministering angel, to cheer the benighted soul of her early friend with glimpses of youthful affection and joy. There was nothing painful or humiliating in Lady Mary's abstraction from the things of to-day and yesterday;-those of fifty years back were related with her characteristic energy and acuteness. She alone, of all who exceed their usual span, could people the desolate past with friends long buried and forgotten by their own nearest and dearest. alone consigned all the painful visitations of the present to happy and merciful oblivion; and gradually learnt to dwell chiefly on a futurity which was not of earth, but heaven.
Grandchildren were now growing up to supply breaches in the circle of her goodly sons and blooming daughters, whose few survivors were now way-worn pilgrims in the various paths of life. These, fondly misled by similarity of name or personal resemblance, she would frequently identify with the "beautiful and brave," over whom she had once wept; retaining, through all her aberrations, such a vague sense of their affinity, as made their presence