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"I had rather be a kitten and cry mew
Than one of these same."


IN my young days, when I was a fleet candidate for the brush, and cheered the hounds along thy classical hills, O! Hogmagog! I used frequently, on my return from hunting, to observe an old lady seated in her cottage garden at Trumpington, in the full enjoyment of the morning and evening sunshine. She appeared so mild and inoffensive in her manners, so cheerful and so unlike the moroseness which is inseparably connected with age, that my hat was involuntarily in my hand whenever I approached her. After some time, my bow terminated in a speech, which was soon afterwards exchanged for a riper and more lasting acquaint


When last I saw her, she was about seventy years old; time had silvered her brow with the hoar frost of age, but left untouched the goodhumoured smile of benevolence. In her manner too there was a certain air of freshness and vivacity, which diminished the reverence inspired by a first appearance, and converted respect into friendship. Her father, as I subsequently understood, was an officer who had been martyred at the massacre of Culloden, while heading his gallant regiment of Highlanders. She, of course, was of a Jacobinical tendency, if such it can be called, which embraces the whole human race in the common bonds of affection, and was well versed in the public and private history of 45. I can well remember entering into a long-winded discussion with her on the merits and demerits of the ill-fated Charles Stuart, when twilight cut short our argument. On this important occasion, however, I was invited to drink tea at her woodbine cottage, and hear her rejoinder, which she expected would be very convincing. Unfortunately I have forgotten this famous reply ;-but I remember well that the tea was very good, and consequently I am bound in common gratitude to say the same of the argument.

But my poor friend has long been dead; a cold consigned her to the tomb, shortly after my depar

ture from the village, and has deprived the neighbourhood of its most venerable patriarch. Even now, while I pay this tribute to her memory, her form rushes back upon my mind; the lapse of years is forgotten, the stream of time has ceased to flow, and I am again an idle sporting character, as in the year 18-.

The thoughts of this old lady has insensibly brought me to the subject of old ladies in general; and, without disparagement to the sex, (God bless them,) I shall contrive to say a "word or two before 1 go" concerning their peculiar characteristics.


An old lady, if genuine, in the common acceptation of the term, moves on the earth like a ghost that haunts the scene of departed happiness. In person she is precise even to affectation; and though she is often known to frown, none but her tea-table acquaintances have ever observed her go beyond a smile. Her ideas on the important topic of dress, are hypercritically chaste. She inveighs strongly against the short petticoats that were worn some time since, and as strongly recommends flounces and furbelows. She attacks, moreover, the huge bonnets of these degenerate days, and observes that the owners thereof appear looking through telescopes, hinting at the same time, that, "thank God! there were no such doings" in her days. High dresses she thinks becoming, but says that it

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seems to be all "neck or nothing" with modern ladies; inasmuch as they display too liberal an allowance of neck, and too parsimonious an exhibition of common sense. To waltzing she has a decided objection, and is of opinion that an act of parliament should restrain a gentleman from squeezing a lady by the waist.

When she goes to the theatre, she seats herself with the party as near the stage as possible, and then begins a discourse on the deteriorated state of the modern drama. Her favourite performance is the Duenna; and when mentioning it, she speaks very familiarly of its author, Sheridan, whom she calls that "strange creature." On quitting the boxes, she exhorts the party to muffle themselves well up in shawls, sets herself the example, by tucking up her neat lace gown, and then heads the procession to the coach in waiting. If the company disobey her injunctions, she directly begins a story of her good friend Mrs. Mac- who was laid up for a month by not wearing a flannel night-cap when she left the theatre-and on reaching home discovers, to her infinite annoyance, that the audience are fast asleep.

If she is a great aunt, she sends her nephews, whom she calls boys, at the very infantine age of twenty, to see the new pantomime by way of a treat. She herself counts the three and sixpence into their hands, gives an additional sixpence for

buns or oranges, and praises her liberality for a month to come. Every Sunday she appears at church at the head of her family; quarrels with the younger branches for not finding out their places in the prayer-book; compels them to put slips of paper in the different parts to be referred to, till the book is swelled to the size of a dropsical alderman; and desires them to remember the text, for she is making a collection.-In their younger days she persuades them to learn the catechism by heart, and, hearing that they have robbed orchards at school, pins the eighth commandment to their backs. In their announcement of the Midsummer and Christmas vacations, she desires them to write their holiday letters in double lines, observing, that nothing is so graceful as a legible hand.

When her little nieces come from school, she sets them to work a sampler, telling them by way of consolation that she had worked half a dozen before their age. If they object, she orders them to learn the collect before they go to bed, and threatens to complain to their school-mistress. In the second week of the vacation all her young relations are formally dosed round. "If they want physic," says she, in justification of her nostrums, "they cannot take it too soon; and if they don't, it will prevent the necessity another time." Every night she obliges them to repeat one

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