I have now completed all the preliminary notices of my near relatives, which it is
necessary to present in these pages; and may proceed at once to the more
immediate subject of my narrative.
Imagine to yourself that my father and my sister have been living for some
months at our London residence; and that I have recently joined them, after
having enjoyed a short tour on the continent.
My father is engaged in his parliamentary duties. We see very little of him.
Committees absorb his mornings--debates his evenings. When he has a day of
leisure occasionally, he passes it in his study, devoted to his own affairs. He
goes very little into society--a political dinner, or a scientific meeting are the only
social relaxations that tempt him.
My sister leads a life which is not much in accordance with her simple tastes.
She is wearied of balls, operas, flower-shows, and all other London gaieties
besides; and heartily longs to be driving about the green lanes again in her own
little poney-chaise, and distributing plum-cake prizes to the good children at the
Rector's Infant School. But the female friend who happens to be staying with her,
is fond of excitement; my father expects her to accept the invitations which he is
obliged to decline; so she gives up her own tastes and inclinations as usual, and
goes into hot rooms among crowds of fine people, hearing the same glib
compliments, and the same polite inquiries, night after night, until, patient as she
is, she heartily wishes that her fashionable friends all lived in some opposite
quarter of the globe, the farther away the better.
My arrival from the continent is the most welcome of events to her. It gives a new
object and a new impulse to her London life.
I am engaged in writing a historical romance--indeed, it is principally to examine
the localities in the country where my story is laid, that I have been abroad. Clara
has read the first half-dozen finished chapters, in manuscript, and augurs
wonderful success for my fiction when it is published. She is determined to
arrange my study with her own hands; to dust my books, and sort my papers
herself. She knows that I am already as fretful and precise about my literary
goods and chattels, as indignant at any interference of housemaids and dusters
with my library treasures, as if I were a veteran author of twenty years' standing;
and she is resolved to spare me every apprehension on this score, by taking all
the arrangements of my study on herself, and keeping the key of the door when I
am not in need of it.
We have our London amusements, too, as well as our London employments. But
the pleasantest of our relaxations are, after all, procured for us by our horses. We
ride every day--sometimes with friends, sometimes alone together. On these
latter occasions, we generally turn our horses' heads away from the parks, and
seek what country sights we can get in the neighbourhood of London. The
northern roads are generally our favourite ride.