Imágenes de página
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

From the European Magazine. ** Coruns poetas, et poetridas picas

There is no need to go far back to Cantare credas Pegaseium melos."

enter upon this inquiry. The Ancients

PERSEUS. is a term so familiar, as to imply every WE

E have been told it as the ex- thing of character and persons; and

pression of a lady, after reading those authors, as they are the originals a late effusion of a certain noble Poet and models of the literature now so union a domestic occurrence, that if the ap- versally diffused, are enshrined in the peal had been made to her, she could perfection of their different characters, not have forborne flying into his arms : and without descanting upon them, we and certainly the warm and unconstrain- have only to look towards them, and ask ed feeling with which his lordship’s ver- why and how we have departed from ses abound, will justify us in supposing their examples. Fabius and Scipio this sentiment to be pretty generally ex- were inflamed with the desire of glory tended. Mr. Scott, whenever he choo- from beholding the images of their anses to send a poem into the world, can cestors ; and the commencement of depend upon a rapid and wide cireulation modern literature was by copying the of it, for indeed it must be read : every writers of the classic ages. The conone asks his neighbour if he has seen the sciousness of mind inspires every man new poem ; though this can scarcely be with the lust of being distinguished, and called a distinction, for the palm is divid- emulation is its first impulse. The fire ed with, I may almost say, every novel- of poetry was long kindled on the altars ist of the day ; and to judge from the that had outlived the ruin of many ages: continued torrents the press pours out, and that this was not a superstitious every minor rhymster has his share of bays. reverence, we have sufficient proof, fron;

When an author is read and applaud- its having been observed by the best ot ed by every body, bis fame seems to the later poets. But learning, even in have the most sare foundation, and it is later times, was still confined ; and it like the portent of an carthquake to quos- has been pregressively, and during a tion it, or try its solidity. And yet a comparative dearth of the exalted genius curious speculator may find some exer- of Poetry, that it has spread itself over cise for his ingenuity in inquiring into this country. The competition for fame the poetical taste of the present day; and has naturally followed its course ; and if the subject were well followed, it the cloud of candidates who found in the might not, perhaps, prove a superfluous path of classical taste and beauty the examination.

retigaps of those who had preendre Ens. Nag. Vol.I.

[ocr errors]


On Poetry in the present day.


them, who tread it seldom, but whose gratitude renders then the admirers of marks are indelible, started from it to the author who does not impose on them trace a road for themselves in the wild- the task of perusing his works with cauness and exuberance of their own imagi- tiousness and attention. No one in the nation. On the revival of letters in Italy, present day can live in society without some of the learned men laboured to re- some degree of learning ; but society establish the taste for poetry, by compo- itself is an obstacle to a depth of learning'; sitions which were rigid but servile co- and most people seek improvement merepies of the ancient poets ; they followed ly for the sake of mixing with others, and them strictly in the metre and rules of only read to talk. The classical taste, composition, but in this attention they of this major part, therefore, cannot be lost sight entirely of their spirit and beau- correctly formed, and they are willling ty. Genius was rising in the nation, to give the character of genuine poetry and was disgusted with the insipid imi- to the wildest and most unformed effus tation. To this disgust we owe the de- sion, which dazzles and surprizes them lightful and romantic wanderings of at the first view, rather than offend their Ariosto. But it is only an illustrious self love by examining it more closely, spirit that can assume originality with and by discovering its imperfections be success, and we have not an Ariosto compelled to acknowledge the infirmity now. Since the pursuit of letters be- of their own judgment, and the error of came general amongst us, there have their taste. The poet, of course, takes been many examples of failure in imita- advantage of this indulgence, and gives tion ; but I am afraid our deviations are himself credit for the talents that the not more successful. The permanent public are too indolent to dispute with reputation of our authors has not risen him. From abuse springs still greater since booksellers sunk from scholars to licence; and hence we are overwhelmed tradesmen. When every one reads by monsters and fictions which have something, and even a partial approval neither elegance dor moral to support insures a momentary circulation for a their mass, and which are presented in work, publication becomes a traffic, and, all the irregularity and ruggedness of as Puff says, in the Critic, “the surest diction that the inventor finds convenrecommendation of a book is, that every ient; who cannot be expected to give body reads it, and that nobody ought to himself more pains than are demanded read it.” This is not to be understood from him. Unity and perfection of acas general ; but I believe the same cause tion are found in the barren plot, which that gives our modern poets their easy is developed the moment it is entered careless style, provides them with read- upon ; and as if Meyslos meant a prodiers.; the author pours out a rhapsody gy, vast and unnatural conceptions are of vulgar images in jingling metre; and substituted for grandeur and sublimity. while he runs on in a strain of common- Nature is certainly the same she was place phrases, imagines that his course is when the first poets followed and deurged by the divinæ particulam aure, scribed her ; but those who think it necand mistakes a rhyming knack and slov- essary to look beyond her for their subenly expression for the force of genius ject, are led rather by their ignorance of and the impulse of inspiration ; while her magnitude than by a failing in her with his reader, what is understood with- abundance : the accidents and revoluout effort and read without trouble often tions of the world, the objects of notice imposes itself as the production of taste and inquiry, every circumstance that and skill

. The greater part of society roused or soothed the earliest genius, who make pretensions to literary know- are still supplied from a constant source ; ledge, have naturally but a small share of and if we do not find them seized and it, and they are perfectly content to let amplified with the vigour and graces their imaginations be caught with the which Nature only can give, it is because tinsel of improbable inventions and false she is more sparing in bestowing genius colouring, provided their judgment is than matter for the exercise of it. not engaged in the developement : and It must be this consciousness that has

French Peculiarities.

(606 turned to so extraordinary a style the poets of those ages have died away and labours of our present race of poets

, and are forgotten, and they have left the few to which they owe that class of admirers who will always live while taste remains, who are as incapable of enjoying the however it may swerve occasionally, and majesty of sublime composition as they whose lasting reputation gives the severare themselves of displaying it. The est reproof to the levity of false taste, voice of the majority gives a temporary and shews most clearly the ridicule and bias to public opinion, and every age has vanity of exulting in the ephemeral glare had its peculiar style of poetry, but the of present popularity. March 1817.

Erom the Monthly Magazine.

FRENCH PECULIARITIES, ACTIVITY OF THE WOMEN. that the extent of assistance thus affordAT to

you may find the husband in the habit that can be formed by those who have of going to market, and of keeping the not rezided in France. But all advanbooks; but all other business, such as re- tages have their drawbacks, and this ceiving the travellers, adjusting the bills, assistance is not afforded without several superintending the servants, male and fe- important sacrifices, among which we male,falls under the province of Madame. are to reckon the almost universal negAgain, if you you go to an upholsterer's lect of neatness in the interior of the to buy a few articles of furniture, you house, and the more serious charge of may observe the husband superintending inattention to the health of their chilhis workmen in the back shop or yard, dren. The greater proportion of the but leaving it to his fair partner to treat latter are separated from their mothers with customers, to manage all cash re- at the time when parental tenderness is ceipts and payments, and, in many cases, most wanted, and entrusted to country to fix on the articles to be purchased out nurses, who are frequently very deficient of doors. The mercer's wife does not in the means of preserving their health, limit her services to the counter, or to the or providing for their comfort. mechanical tasks of retailing and measur

If we look to the higher circles, we ing-you see her at one time standing be- shall find every where examples of simiside the desk, and giving directions to the lar activity and address. Your readers clerks ; at another you hear of her being may have fresh in their minds the mulabsent on a journey to the manufacturing tiplied letters and applications of Matowns, and are desired to suspend your dame Ney, and the more fortunate expurchases, not till her return, which ploit of Madame Lavalette. They will would be remote, but for the few days ne- not have forgotten the courageous stand cessary to let her send home some marks made by the Duchess of Angouleme at of her progress, car madame nous fait Bordeaux, in March 1815, and her reses envois à mesure qu'elle fait ses achats. peated addresses to the troops of the In short, women in France are expected garrison. not only to lend an assisting hand to

MORALS. their husbands in business, but to take This is a very delicate topic, and one a lead in the management, to keep the on which I take the liberty to differ from correspondence, to calculate the rate of a great number of our countrymen. In prices, and to do a number of things nothing does the exaggerating propensity that imply not merely fidelity and vigi- of the French appear more conspicuous lance, but the habit of deciding and ict- than in the tale of scandal; not that such ing by herself in the most important de- tales are particularly frequent in this partments of the concern. We need country, but, because, when they do hardly add, that they are abundantly come forth, they are arrayed in a garb zealous io points so nearly connected that would hardly ever enter into the with the welfare of their families, and imagination of any of our country

French Peculiarities.

[608 women. On our side of the Channel a in a somewhat higher degree than in rumour, whether among the fair or i' other countries ; but how small is the mercenary part of the public, genera nroportion of these idlers to the great has probability, in some degree, for its siass of the population! The middling foundation; but in France all you re- and the lower ranks follow the same quire is the direct allegation, the confi- habits of industry as with us; a married dent assertion. Nobody thinks of scru- couple can find a maintenance for their tipizing your evidence, and you are in family only by a cordial support of each no danger of being afterwards reminded other; and the time of the husband is of your fallacy, in a country where al- occupied to a degree that leaves bim very most every thing was absorbed in the little leisure for planning projects on his thirst of novelty. A lady in France, neighbour's wife. who may happen to have a quarrel, or There is, however, a very marked who may give rise to a hostile feeling by distinction in the degree of reprobation her vanity or affectation, is not, as with affixed by French and Eoglish ladies to us, merely satirised for the eccentricity individuals of their sex, labouring on. of her dress or manner, but is doomed der unfavourable imputations. forth with to encounter the most vehement with us, the exclusion from society attacks on her reputation. Lovers are takes place on a general scale, in France immediately found out for her, and the it is only partial, owing not (as the circuinstances of assignations are recapi- wage will argue) to a community of tulated with as much precision as if the impropriety on the part of those who parties had been present at the forbidden still continue their countenance; but to interview; if she has eclipsed her rivals a facility of temper, a wish to view at a ball, or received the marked atten- things on the favourable side, a credutions of a leading personage, the un- lity in listening to the vindication of kindly rumor will Åy from mouth to the accused party, a partiality to whomouth, without exciting, among at least ever courts protection; in short

, to a nine-tenths of the public, the least doubt variety of causes that do more honour to of its reality. It lasts, indeed, only for the heart than the head. a few weeks, until some other female Parents in France are very scrupubecomes equally the object of jealousy, lous in regard to their daughters, and and is made to furnish materials for a make a rule of not allowing them to go fresh series of wonderous anecdotes. into company or to places of amuse

A residence of several years in a pro- ment without the protection of a relation vincial town of considerable size and or friend, whose age or character will of much genteel society, has satisfied prevent any loose conversation from the me that nine-tenths of the tales circu- young or giddy part of the other ser lated açainst particular individuals are This, to be sure, is paying but a bad unfounded, and were never meant by coinpliment to the male part of the the inventors to produce any thing be- society ; but it gives an English family yond a temporary discredit to the oh- residing in France an assurance, that noxious party. Common sense tells us, their daughters may go without hazard that, in every civilized country, a woman into female society, particularly of an will look for her happiness in ihe aflection age corresponding to their own. Muof her husband, and in the esteem of the sic, drawing, and dancing, form in that respectable part of her sex; nor can country, as with us, the general occuFrance be accounted an exception, un- pation of unmarried ladies. less it can be shewn that, by some strange Paris - There is a material difference peculiarity, the men in that country are between the French of Paris and the indifferent to the chastity of their wives provincial towns, so that the favorable and daughters, or the women callous to part of my picture is to be understood every thing in the shape of vice. Gal- as applicable chietly to the latter. Paris lantry is the vice of an idle man ; it is has always been the residence of an excharacteristic of the higher ranks in traordinary number of oisifs, whether France, in the same manner, and perhaps officers, noblesse, or others, who hase

French Peculiarities.

[616 *** just money enough to pay their way satisfaction a fine turkey, and three or

from day to day; and who, without four excellent fowls, revolving before a

being absolute adventurers, are perpe- brisk wood-fire. But he must remove į tually falling into all the exceptionable from this hot stewing bustling scene to

babits of the inexperienced and idle. attend “ Leonore," the fille de chambre, A Frenchman is the creature of habit, who by this time steps forward with he has no fixed principles, and follows, vivacious countenance, dainty white with all imaginable pliancy, the exam. cap, black sparkling eyes, and hoop ple or solicitation of those with whom ear-rings, as large as a half-crown, and he happens to be connected for the mo- kindly offers to conduct M. Anglais, ment. Such a flexibility of character “enhaul,whither he proceeds, by a must inevitably pave the way to a va- staircase, quite as dirty as the street, riety of irregularities, and eventually to "to make himself comfortable.” vices ; time is wasted at theatres, at In the French chamber there is more shows, or at the more dangerous occu. decidedly an appearance, at least, of a pation of the gaming-table: and, al- want of what is so well understood by though the habitual exaggeration of the us in the word, comfort :--no ponderous French leads them (when speaking of mahogany four-post bed takes its stathe vices of the metropolis,) to exhibit a tion in the principal part of the chamber very outré picture, particularly in what ---no warm curtains hung: by rings, on relates to the fair sex, there can remain a rod; the sound of which, when closed no doubt that Paris is a place to be upon the tired traveller, is so grateful avoided, and that it is the scene where, to his ears; but a couch-like, or sofaof all others, the national character of looking, bed, wheeled up with its side the French appears to the greatest dis- to the wall, and not unfrequently in a advantage.

recess, with doors to close and exclude it altogether from view, as an unimpor

tant piece of furniture. The curtains, The kitchen of a French inn is so pending, tent like, from an ornamented frequently placed in the front part of point, are capable of more tastelul are the house, that the chance is very much rangement than those in the


Solid in favor of its being the first room into English form, and much space is obwhich the stranger is shewn ; and bere viously gained by this compact dispoM. Anglais receives the respects of sition of the beds. No carpeting, not Madame, the mistress of the hotel; not even by the bed-side; the linen freof her husband, whose pleasures and qnently damp! The floors, in the best pursuits seem to be confined to saun- houses, of dry-rubbed wainscot, laid in tering about and taking snuff in the various diamond forms, but very commorning, presiding at the table d'hote, monly paved with octagonal red tiles, and in the evening playing back-gam- even to the garrets; and, to increase the mon or picquet with the cook. While chilly appearance of things, the set of congratulations on safe arrival and other drawers and tables are covered with compliments are passing, the stranger the alınost universal marble slab-a hug a gance of the interior of this im- shallow oval wash-hand basin, with a tall portaat department. The principal jug in it, resembling the one with which cook, in his white cap and apron, is bu- the stork in the table entertained the sily employed in looking into, stirring, fox-a large, thin, damp napkio--and tasting the contents of at least a small morsel of “veritable Windsor" score of copper stew-pans, ranged in a few stained rusb-bottom chairs-due order on a long stove; and which, a couple of easy ones, stuffed, caned, in the midst of their hissing and frying, and covered with crimson velvet-- and gend up one of those compound savonry several magnificent mirrors, reflecting smells that go to remind me of Smol. the elegant landscape paper-hangings, lett's “feast after the manner of the about complete the furniture of a kinda ancients.” As the roast is probably termost l'rench chamber. more to his taste, he secs with no smol/ Fibriture. 1817.


« AnteriorContinuar »