« AnteriorContinuar »
BÂLE, August 31, 1867.
allow a feminine convert to those views
IR,-Will so subtly expounded in your issue of the 24th August, on the advantages of foreign as compared with English travel, to occupy a few of your columns at this dull season of the year, with an account of (I hope) the complete success of an experiment, for the trial of which she is indebted to your amusing common-sense and epigrammatic illustrations? I certainly had intended till last Saturday (this day week) to take my husband only to Margate or Ramsgate for a few weeks, which I thought, before your paper appeared, a very much more sensible and economical mode of recruiting for a family not very much burdened with means, than the more expensive one of foreign travel. There would have been, further, this advantage about the plan,-that I should not have been obliged to leave my little ones, who, though strong enough in health, are but too likely to get into scrapes when my eye is removed. My eldest is a great romp of between nine and ten, whom I cannot cure of the habit of rushing out of our back gate for a frolic on our common, where she is by no means so popular as I could wish, as
she is a wild thing with a good deal of mischief in her, and disposed to play tricks with those against whom she takes an aversion. My second is a little trot of four, who has a slight tendency to croup, which, as you know, is a very anxious complaint, and never more dangerous than in the summer. My youngest, Colin, is only three, but full of noise and spirits, and apt to weary out the care of even the kindest of attendants. Still, I know that my first duty is to my husband, and poor Edward, who has, I think, been breaking a little of late, seemed to take the suggestion of Margate with so much resignation, and so little sign of enjoyment, that I had been a little uneasy, even before I read your impressive paper, as to the correctness of my usually sound judgment. Luckily for me, good Mrs. Shrimpaty, whose lodgings I had written to engage, had both her first floor and ground floor engaged, and as we sat at breakfast on that memorable Sunday inorning, the 25th August, Edward, I am sorry to say, had to wait for his second cup of tea while I was absorbed in your opportune paper. Edward's leave was to commence the next day, and it certainly grieved me to see him look so limp, as it were, and spiritless at the thought of our sixth visit to Margate;―he had jaundice there as a child, which he always says was due to the mingled smell of shrimps and Dunn's penny chocolate ["requires no boiling; one pennyworth will make a breakfast cup of the finest flavour; as a sweetmeat for children, it is wholesome and nutritious"], and I fear he contracted some dislike to the place, which he never expresses, however, in any form but resignation, and now
and then a word or two in favour of Dover, which I won't hear of, on account of the dangerous cliffs for our little ones. So, as I poured out his second cup of tea, I said, "What do you say, dear, to going to Switzerland this year, as Mrs. Shrimpaty cannot have us, and leaving the little ones, under our good Hannah's care, at home? There is your friend W., of the Alpine Club, would tell you where to go; only I won't have you going into dangerous places, and falling into crevasses, or down precipices, or anything of that sort. What do you say?" Then, Sir, I saw the real weight of your argument. Poor Edward, who had been looking as if the change from Wandsworth to Margate were something like the change from cold mutton to water gruel, immediately brightened up, and was, indeed, transfigured, for the moment, into his old self. He suggested, faintly, "Do you think, dear, you could bear to leave the little ones for five weeks?" To which I returned a manful rather than a strictly true answer (for at that moment the Swiss abysses, glaciers, and crevasses seemed to be swallowing me up from my little ones, and I was, as Mr. Carlyle says, "shooting Niagara" with a very dubious feeling indeed as to that suggestive "and after?" of his). Then Edward began discussing possible routes so eagerly that I felt sure, Sir, your remarks were full of truth and wisdom, at least for the male sex. I can't say that even yet I am a convert on my own account. But men are curious, fanciful creatures, and require a good deal of study and management, and I am convinced women would understand them better than they do, if they would read more of what
they say for themselves in the newspapers when they are quite unembarrassed by domestic considerations.
However, Sir, I have given you preface enough. My object is to verify your remarkable exposition by showing in detail what it has been that has seemed to freshen poor Edward up so much, so I will not tell you of my many injunctions to Hannah, my bitter parting with the little ones, our mulligatawny soup at Charing Cross, or of our rapid journey to Folkestone, but will begin with the time when we touched foreign soil. Edward, who has been anything but himself for weeks, had rather relapsed after the first stimulus of settling a Continental journey, and he met a friend in the railway to Folkestone who would talk to him of administrative reform, just what the head of his department is always boring him with whenever he sends for Edward to verify a doubtful item in the accounts. So administrative reform made my husband look duller than ever. But he had scarcely touched shore when he began snuffing, and said, "Ah! this is delightful; there is that close, perfumed scent again which one almost always smells in foreign cities, and never in England. I wonder do they spice the streets?" I said I perceived it, but did not much like it. "No more do I," he replied, "in itself. But it's very delightful, for all that." Then, as we went to the railway, we saw two little dumpy French girls, with blue shawls over their white jackets, and nothing particular on their headssuch figures!-trotting on before us into one of the Boulogne shops, where they appeared to reside. Edward was enchanted. "What grotesque little figures!" he
said. Grotesque they were, indeed, as grotesque as gargoyles, and there was an end of the matter. But Edward was already beginning to verify that remarkable saying of yours, that it is something if you only have "the gutters in a different place." His walk, latterly so listless, began to resume its old jerky movement. pressed for the source of his pleasure in everything foreign, for I was determined to verify your philosophy as well as your result, if I could, and must have said, I suppose, in something like Wordsworth's words,
"There surely must some reason be
Why you would change sweet Liswyn farm
-for he was as obstinate as little Edward Wordsworth, and would only reply with a laughing reference to these lines, which I had forgotten, accompanying them by a sort of elderly caper, and parodying
"At Kilve there was no weathercock,-
At home there were no perfumed streets,—
I could see he was already drinking in a tonic that I fear shrimps and Margate jetty would have failed to give. So I sighed a deep inward wish that Hannah might not be letting the little ones go to bed in a draught that hot evening, and declared to myself that after all I had done right. When they brought us a fowl and vin ordinaire, and salt without salt spoons, in the Boulogne restauration,