Page images
PDF
EPUB

I 24

Viva Voce Declarations.

botanical line. It is all very well if the lover happens to have been a little in the duet way too. He can, in this case, understand the feeling, and nerve himself without much difficulty to respond to it. But if he is entirely ignorant about birds and botany, his task becomes more serious. He has the humiliation of being obliged to confine himself entirely to calling his future wife an angel or a goddess, according as he is most addicted to classical or to Christian mythology; while the mortifying thought cannot fail to strike him that both appellations are a little elevated and a little trite.' The same critic considers that in these days of rapid locomotion, love-letters ought to be regarded as an anachronism; and in suggesting the substitution of a vivâ voce declaration in the shape of either a personal interview or a serenade, he refers to the celebrated letter of Penelope to her absent lord. As I have already indicated, however, a systematic correspondence seems still to be regarded as part and parcel of every properly conducted courtship, and the facilities afforded by our modern postal arrangements 1 • Hanc tua Penelope lento tibi mittit, Ulysse.

Nil mihi rescribas attamen : ipse veni.'

A Sculptor's Love-Letter.

125

a

are no doubt calculated to extend the practice.

The following serio-comic incident was related a few years ago in a Parisian newspaper :-'In the street of Cherche-Midi there exists a little eating-house, known under the name of Cabaret de la Mère Rigault, and much frequented by engravers and sculptors. It is kept by an amiable young widow, who received, a few days ago, from one of her customers, a sculptor, named Auguste R., the following curious letter :-

[ocr errors]

DIVINE PEBBLE, —Were you not harder than porphyry or agate, the chisel of my love, guided by the mallet of my fidelity, would have made some impression upon you. I, who have given every form to the roughest materials, had hoped that with the compass of reason, the saw of constancy, the fine file of friendship, and the polish of my words, I should have made of you one of the prettiest statues in the world. But, alas ! you are but an insensible stone ; and yet you fire my soul, yourself remaining cold as marble. Have pity on me ; longer know what I say or do. When I have a dragon to sculpture it is Cupid that rises under my chisel. Dear column of my hopes, pedestal of my happiness, cornice

I no

1 The commencement of the poor sculptor's letter will no doubt remind the reader of the famous epistle in Peregrine Pickle which Tom Pipes procured from the village schoolmaster, beginning with the words, ‘Divine Empress of my Soul.'

[ocr errors]

I 26

Sir John Falstaff.

of my joy, if you make me happy I will raise to you statues and pyramids. To-morrow I will call for your

AUGUSTE.”

answer.

The widow laughed heartily at what she took for a witty joke, and showed the letter to all her customers. The other day Auguste R. entered the establishment, and was immediately a mark for a shower of compliments on the originality of his letter. Fixing a strange gaze upon his friend, he exclaimed, “You make a jest of my sufferings, of my love !" and, becoming suddenly furious, he abused the widow for her perfidy, and threatened to kill her. The police had to be sent for. The poor sculptor proved to be out of his mind.'

As specimens of love-letters, I may give the two following:

SIR JOHN FALSTAFF TO MISTRESS PAGE.

(Merry Wives of Windsor, Act ii. Sc: 1.) Ask me no reason why I love you; for though Love use Reason for his physician, he adinits him not for his counsellor. You are not young, no more am I; go to then, there's sympathy: you are merry, so am I–ha, ha! then there's more sympathy : you love sack, and so do I; would you desire better sympathy? Let it suffice thee, Mistress Page,-at the least, if the love of a soldier can suffice,—that I love thee. I will not say, pity me ; 'tis not a soldierlike phrase ; but I say, love me. By me,

[ocr errors]

"Clarinda' to Burns.

127

Thine own true knight,
By day or night,
Or any kind of light,
With all his might
For thee to fight,

JOHN FALSTAFF.

MRS. M'LEHOSE TO ROBERT BURNS.

[ocr errors]

Wednesday Morning SYLVANDER,—I fancy you and Vulcan are intimates. He has lent you a key which opens Clarinda's heart at pleasure, shows you what is there, and enables you to adapt yourself to every feeling. I believe I shall give over writing to you. Your letters are too much! My way, alas ! is hedged in ; but had I, like Sylvander, 'the world before me,' I should bid him, if he had a friend that loved me, tell him to write as he does, and that would woo me.' Seriously, you are the first letter-writer I ever knew.

Either to-morrow or Friday I shall be happy to see you. On Saturday I am not sure of being alone, or at home. Say which you'll come.

Come to tea if you choose; but eight will be an hour less liable to intrusions. You are a consummate flatterer ; really my cheeks glow while I read your flights of fancy. I think you see I like it. If I grow affected or conceited, you alone are to blame. Sylvander, some most interesting parts of yours I cannot enter upon at present. I dare not think on the partingon the interval; but I am sure both are ordered for our good.

' Lasting impressions !' Your key might have shown you better. Say, my lover-poet and my friend, what day next month the eternity will end. When you use your key, don't rummage too much, lest you find I am half as

6

I 28

Miss Carpenter's Letters

great a fool in the 'tender' as yourself. Farewell! Sylvander. I may sign, for I am already sealed, your friend,

CLARINDA.

From Miss Carpenter's letters to Sir Walter Scott, a few weeks before their marriage in December 1797, it is pleasant to find that a sensible woman can express the intensity of her affection, even at such an interesting period, without indulging in the ludicrous excesses of unnatural sentimentalism. Thus, on the 25th of October, she writes from Carlisle as follows

senses.

Indeed, Mr. Scott, I am by no means pleased with all this writing. I have told you how much I dislike it, and yet you still persist in asking me to write, and that by return of post. O, you really are quite out of your

I should not have indulged you in that whim of yours, had you not given me that hint that my silence gives an air of mystery. I have no reason that can detain me in acquainting you that my father and mother were French, of the name Charpentier ; he had a place under Government ; their residence was at Lyons, where you would find on inquiries that they lived in good repute, and in very good style. I had the misfortune of losing my father before I could know the value of such a parent. At his death we were left to the care of Lord Downshire, who was his very great friend ; and very soon after, I had the affliction of losing my mother. Our taking the name of Carpenter was on my brother's going to India, to prevent any little difficulties that might have occurred. I hope now you are pleased. Lord D. could have given you every information, as he has been ac

« PreviousContinue »