« AnteriorContinuar »
Yet ah! when thy guld-warmg Linglets shall turn,
And fall in gray ruin around,
But pale sickly wrinkles abound;
When rouge, paint and patches shall only attest
The flight of your primitive bloom,
The spinster's disconsolate doom,
You'll cry, as my vows your attention engage
Too late to avail of their truth,
Or age the attractions of youth.
Chesterfield, who was not very rigid in his morals, in a letter to his friend Dayrolles, thus judiciously expresses his opinions of the levity of the philosopher of Ferny :
“ Your good authors are my chief resource, for at present we have very few of our own. Voltaire especially, old and decrepit as he may well be, for he is exactly of my age, delights me barring his impiety, with which he cannot forbear larding every thing he writes. It would be much wiser in him to suppress it, for, after all, no man ought to break through the order established. Let every one think as he pleases, or as he can; but let him keep his notions to himself, if they be of such a nature as to disturb the peace of society."
There is something exceedingly noble and chivalrous in the subsequent sentiments. They are not unworthy of the head and heart of a Sir Philip SIDNEY.
“Perhaps it may be the opinion of a young man, but I think the old system of heroic attachment, with all its attendant notions of honour and spotlessness, was, in the end, calculated to promote the interests of the human race ; for though it produced a temporary alienation of mind, perhaps bordering upon insanity, yet with the very extravagance of the sentiments there were interwoven certain imperious principles of virtue and generosity, which would probably remain after time had evaporated the heat of passion, and sobered the luxuriance of a romantic imagination. I think, therefore, a man of song is rendering the community a service, when he displays, in a pleasing light, the ardour of manly affection ; but certainly we need no incentives to the irregular gratification of our appetites, and I should think it a proper punishment for the poet who holds forth the allurements of illicit pleasures in amiable and seductive colours, should his wife, his sisto the licentiousness he has been instru
ter, or his child fall a victim mental in diffusing."
The ensuing exhortation to the study of the Greek and Roman classics is conveyed in the form of a very pleasing allegory, as remarkable for its splendour as it is memorable for its usefulness.
“ It will not be amiss for you to saunter a few weeks on the site of Troy, or to lay out plans of ancient history on the debateable ground of the Peloponnesians and Athenians. There is one THUCYDIDES, who lives near, who will tell you all about the places you visit, and the great events connected with them. He is a sententious old fellow, very shrewd in his remarks, and speaks, moreover, very excellent Greek at your service. I know not whether you have met with any guide in the course of your travels, who can be compared to him. If you should make Rome in your way, either there or back, I should like to give you a letter of introduction to an old friend of mine, whose name is Livy, who, as far as his memory extends, will amuse you with pretty stories and some true history. There is another honest fellow enough, to whom I dare not recommend you, he is so very crabbed and tart, and speaks so much in epigrams and enigmas, that I am afraid he would teach you to talk as unintelligibly as himself. I do not mean to give you any more advice ; but I have one exhortation which I hope you will take in good part: it is this, that if you set out on this journey, you would please to proceed to its end; for I have been acquainted with some young men who have turned their faces towards Athens or Rome, and trudged on manfully for a few miles; but when they had travelled till they grew weary and worn out a good pair of shoes, have suddenly become disheartened and returned without any recompense for their pains."
A very recent and spritely letter-writer, blessed with genius but blasted by sickness, thus gayly alludes to one of his symptoms :
“I was glad to hear of the eclat with which Charlesworth disputed and came off on so difficult a subject as the nerves ; and I beg him, if he have made any discoveries, to communicate them to me, who, being persecuted by these same nerves, should be glad to have some better acquaintance with my invisible enemies."
Voluptuousness is not the less dangerous for having some slight semblance of the veil of Modesty. On the contrary her fascinations are infinitely more powerful in this retiring habit, than when she boldly protrudes herself on the gazer's eye, and openly solicits his attention. The broad indecency of Wycherly and his contemporaries was not half so dangerous as this insinuating and half-covered mock delicacy, which makes use of the blush of Modesty, in order to heighten the charms of vice.”
In an epistle to a juvenile student, a sensible correspondent thus wisely counsels his friend with the intendes animum studiis et rebus honestis of Horace.
. “The little sketch of your past occupations and your present pursuits interested me. Cultivate, with all assiduity the taste for letters which you possess. It will be a source of exquisite gratification to you ; and if directed as it ought to be, and I hope as it will be directed, it will be more than gratification, if we understand pleasure alone by that word, since it will combine with it utility of the highest kind. If polite letters were merely instrumental in cheering the hours of elegant leisure, in affording refined and polished pleasures, uncontaminated with gross and sensual gratifications, they would still be valuable; but in a degree infinitely less than when they are considered as the handmaids of the virtues, the correctors as well as the adorners of society.”
Ask what prevailing pleasing power
Allures the sportive wandering bee,
I'll tell you—'tis variety.
Look Nature round, her features trace,
Her seasons, all her changes see;
The greatest charm's variety.
For me, ye gracious powers above,
Still let me rove, unfix'd and free
I'll change and taste variety.
But, Delia, not a world of charms
Could e'er estrange my heart from thee;
There still I'll find variety.
During the mania, which raged for viewing a Newfoundland dog jump into the water at Drury-lane theatre, Mr. Dignum, the singer, who had a small character in the farce, the Caravan, in which the above pantoinime trick was introduced, came up early in the evening to Mr. Sheridan who was standing behind the scenes, and told him he had something very serious to communicate to him. Mr. Sheridan
accordingly was very seriously attentive. Sir, said Mr. Dignum, I am sorry to inform you-What, my dear fellow ?—that, feeling myself very hoarse, I am afraid I must be obliged to omit my song this evening. My dear sir, said Mr. Sheridan, shaking him by the hand you remove a world of anxiety from my mind; I really was afraid the dog was taken ill.
A LYNX-EYED critic of the old school has favoured us with the subsequent remark, which is as just as it is ingenious.
The conclusion of that pretty song Tweedside runs thus :
Say, charmer, where do thy flocks stray,
Oh tell me at noon where they feech?
Or the pleasanter banks of the Tweed?
We should rather read on than in, that is, on the banks of the Tay, for the flock is imagined to be in the river. But what is more to be remarked, the alternation here is unnatural, the two rivers Tay and Tweed being at such a distance from each other that Mary's flock can never be supposed to feed sometimes near the one and sometimes near the other. The Tay is in Perthshire, scores of miles north of Tweed. Here is a striking instance of the rights of good sense and accuracy being sacrificed by an ingenious man too, for the sake of a rhyme.
LORD CHESTERFIELD in familiarly addressing one of his correspondents, immediately after the demise of the brilliant Bolingbroke, thus paints a few features of his original character. This sketch may be considered as an excellent companion piece to the full length which may be found in the possession of Eugenia Stanhope.
“ Are you not shocked at the dreadful death of our friend Bolingbroke. The remedy has hastened his death, against which there was no remedy, for his cancer was not topical, but universal; and had sn infected the whole mass of his blood, as to be incurable. What I most lament is, that the medicines put him to exquisite pain; an evil I dread much more than death both for my friends and myself. I lose a warm, an amiable and instructive friend. I saw him a fortnight before his death, when he depended upon a cure, and so did I ; and he desired I would not come any more till he was quite well, which he expected would be in ten or twelve days. The next day the great pains came on, and never left him till within two days of his death, during which he lay insensible. What a man! what extensive knowledge! what memory! what eloquence! His passions, which were strong, were injurious to
the delicacy of his sentiments; they were apt to be cusconfounded together, and often wilfully. The world will do him more justzisz now than in his lifetime.
SONNET writing in England has undergone a surprising change. It was once supposed that the genius of the language was hostile to this species of composition, and some of the efforts of the early poets scarcely contradicted this hypothesis. But, at the present era, we are not surprised to read a sonnet perfectly elegant and legitimate, like the following:
Give me a cottage on some Cambrian wild,
Where, far from cities, I may spend my days,
May pity man's pursuits and shun his ways.
List to the mountain torrents' distant noise,
I shall not want the world's delusive joys.
Shall think my lot complete, nor covet more.
I'll raise my pillow on the desert shore,
The wanderer of the Alps, however discontented with his native rocks in his youth, always hies to them with glee at a maturer age. Let us mark how a poet describes this sort of patriotism.
THE SAVOYARD'S RETURN.
My dear, my long lost native home! :
Where I shall rest, no more to roam.
O’er many a distant, foreign land,
But all their charms could not prevail