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length jumped out of the sleigh plump into a snowbank, where she stuck fast like an icicle, until he



came to her rescue. This Latonian feat cost her a rheumatism, from which she never thoroughly recovered.

It is rather singular that my aunt, though a great beauty, and an heiress withal, never got married. The reason she alleged was, that she never met with a lover who resembled Sir Charles Grandison, the hero of her nightly dreams and waking fancy; but I am privately of opinion that it was owing to her never having had an offer. This much is certain, that for many years previous to her decease she declined all attentions from the gentlemen, and contented herself with watching over the welfare of her fellow-creatures. She was, indeed, observed to take a considerable leaning towards methodism, was frequent in her attendance at love-feasts, read Whitfield and Wesley, and even went so far as once to travel

the distance of five-and-twenty miles to be present at a camp-meeting. This gave great offence to my cousin Christopher and his good lady, who, as I have already mentioned, are rigidly orthodox; and had not my aunt Charity been of a most pacific disposition, her religious whim-wham would have occasioned many a family altercation. She was, indeed, as good a soul as the Cockloft family ever boasted— a lady of unbounded lovingkindness, which extended to man, woman, and child; many of whom she almost killed with good-nature. Was any acquaintance ill?-in vain did the wind whistle and the storm beat—my aunt would waddle through mud and mire, over the whole town, but what she would visit them. She would sit by them for hours together with the most persevering patience; and tell a thousand melancholy stories of human misery, to keep up their spirits. The whole catalogue of yerb teas was at her fingers' ends, from formidable wormwood down to gentle balm; and she would descant by the hour on the healing qualities of hore-hound, catnip, and penny-royal. Woe be to the patient that came under the benevolent hand of my aunt Charity; he was sure, willy nilly, to be drenched with a deluge of decoctions; and full many a time has my cousin Christopher borne a twinge of pain in silence, through fear of being condemned to suffer the martyrdom of her materia medica. My good aunt had, moreover, considerable skill in astronomy; for she could tell when the sun rose and set every day in the year; and no woman in the whole world was able to pronounce, with more certainty, at what precise minute the moon changed. She held the story of the moon's being made of green cheese as an abominable slander on her favourite planet; and

she had made several valuable discoveries in solar eclipses, by means of a bit of burnt glass, which entitled her at least to an honorary admission in the American Philosophical Society. "Hutching's Improved" was her favourite book; and I shrewdly suspect that it was from this valuable work she drew most of her sovereign remedies for colds, coughs, corns, and consumptions.

But the truth must be told; with all her good qualities, my aunt Charity was afflicted with one fault, extremely rare among her gentle sex-it was curiosity. How she came by it I am at a loss to imagine, but it played the very vengeance with her, and destroyed the comfort of her life. Having an invincible desire to know every body's character, business, and mode of living, she was for ever prying into the affairs of her neighbours; and got a great deal of ill-will from people towards whom she had the kindest disposition possible. If any family on the opposite side of the street gave a dinner, my aunt would mount her spectacles, and sit at the window until the company were all housed, merely that she might know who they were. If she heard a story about any of her acquaintance, she would, forth with, set off full sail, and never rest until, to use her usual expression, she had got "to the bottom of it;" which meant nothing more than telling it to every body she knew.

I remember one night my aunt Charity happened to hear a most precious story about one of her good friends, but unfortunately too late to give it immediate circulation. It made her absolutely miserable; and she hardly slept a wink all night, for fear her bosom-friend, Mrs. Sipkins, should get the start of her in the morning, and blow the whole affair. You must know there was always a contest between these


two ladies, who should first give currency to the good-natured things said about every body; and this unfortunate rivalship at length proved fatal to their long and ardent friendship. My aunt got up full two hours that morning before her usual time; put on her pompadour taffeta gown, and sallied forth to lament the misfortune of her dear friend. Would you believe it? wherever she went, Mrs. Sipkins had anticipated her; and, instead of being listened to with uplifted hands and open-mouthed wonder, my unhappy aunt was obliged to sit down quietly and listen to the whole affair, with numerous additions, alterations, and amendments! Now this was too bad; it would almost have provoked Patient Grizzle or a saint; it was too much for my aunt, who kept her bed three days afterwards, with a cold, as she pretended; but I have no doubt it was owing to this affair of Mrs. Sipkins, to whom she never would be reconciled.

But I pass over the rest of my aunt Charity's life, chequered with the various misfortunes and mortifications incident to those worthy old gentlewomen who have the domestic cares of the whole community upon their minds; and I hasten to relate the melancholy incident that hurried her out of existence in the full bloom of antiquated virginity.

In their frolicksome malice the Fates had ordered that a French boarding-house, or Pension Française, as it was called, should be established directly opposite my aunt's residence. Cruel event! unhappyaunt Charity! it threw her into that alarming disorder denominated the fidgets: she did nothing but watch at the window day after day, but without becoming one whit the wiser at the end of a fortnight than she was at the beginning; she thought that neighbour Pension had a monstrous large family, and

somehow or other they were all men! She could not imagine what business neighbour Pension followed to support so numerous a household; and wondered why there was always such a scraping of fiddles in the parlour, and such a smell of onions from neighbour Pension's kitchen: in short, neighbour Pension was continually uppermost in her thoughts, and incessantly on the outer edge of her tongue. This was, I believe, the very first time she had ever failed" to get at the bottom of a thing;" and the disappointment cost her many a sleepless night, I warrant you. I have little doubt, however, that my aunt would have ferreted neighbour Pension out, could she have spoken or understood French; but in those times people in general could make themselves understood in plain English; and it was always a standing rule in the Cockloft family, which exists to this day, that not one of the females should learn French.

My aunt Charity had lived, at her window, for some time in vain; when one day as she was keeping her usual look-out, and suffering all the pangs of unsatisfied curiosity, she beheld a little, meagre, weazel-faced Frenchman, of the most forlorn, diminutive, and pitiful proportions, arrive at neighbour Pension's door. He was dressed in white, with a little pinched-up cocked hat; he seemed to shake in the wind, and every blast that went over him whistled through his bones and threatened instant annihilation. This embodied spirit of famine was followed by three carts, lumbered with crazy trunks, chests, bandboxes, bidets, medicine-chests, parrots, and monkeys; and at his heels ran a yelping pack of little black-nosed pug-dogs. This was the one thing wanting to fill up the measure of my aunt Charity's afflictions; she could not conceive, for the soul of

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