A man of refined taste, who caught the tone of the French sentiment of his time, has, of course, pleased French critics, and has been translated into French. “The Man of Feeling” begins with imitation of Sterne, and proceeds in due course through so many tears that it is hardly to be called a dry book. As guide to persons of a calculating disposition who may read these pages I append an index to the Tears shed in “The Man of Feeling.”
My dog had made a point on a piece of fallow-ground, and led the curate and me two or three hundred yards over that and some stubble adjoining, in a breathless state of expectation, on a burning first of September.
It was a false point, and our labour was vain: yet, to do Rover justice (for he’s an excellent dog, though I have lost his pedigree), the fault was none of his, the birds were gone: the curate showed me the spot where they had lain basking, at the root of an old hedge.
I stopped and cried Hem! The curate is fatter than I; he wiped the sweat from his brow.
There is no state where one is apter to pause and look round one, than after such a disappointment. It is even so in life. When we have been hurrying on, impelled by some warm wish or other, looking neither to the right hand nor to the left—we find of a sudden that all our gay hopes are flown; and the only slender consolation that some friend can give us, is to point where they were once to be found. And lo! if we are not of that combustible race, who will rather beat their heads in spite, than wipe their brows with the curate, we look round and say, with the nauseated listlessness of the king of Israel, “All is vanity and vexation of spirit.”
I looked round with some such grave apophthegm in my mind when I discovered, for the first time, a venerable pile, to which the enclosure belonged. An air of melancholy hung about it. There was a languid stillness in the day, and a single crow, that perched on an old tree by the side of the gate, seemed to delight in the echo of its own croaking.
I leaned on my gun and looked; but I had not breath enough to ask the curate a question. I observed carving on the bark of some of the trees: ’twas indeed the only mark of human art about the place, except that some branches appeared to have been lopped, to give a view of the cascade, which was formed by a little rill at some distance.
Just at that instant I saw pass between the trees a young lady with a book in her hand. I stood upon a stone to observe her; but the curate sat him down on the grass, and leaning his back where I stood, told me, “That was the daughter of a neighbouring gentleman of the name of Walton, whom he had seen walking there more than once.
“Some time ago,” he said, “one Harley lived there, a whimsical sort of man I am told, but I was not then in the cure; though, if I had a turn for those things, I might know a good deal of his history, for the greatest part of it is still in my possession.”