« AnteriorContinuar »
as the foregoing did not enter into Mr. Fox's conceptions of the
I am, Sir,
S. in the s, hal
I'd wait till joy was lost in sable gloom,
Till dreams-ev'n dreams had perish'd into air,
Whose seal is graven with one word “Despair :"
Had faded in life's “sere and yellow leaf,"
Prophetic messengers of cureless grief !
Heart-wrung and spirit-broken, to the grave
O’er shatter'd peace which naught alas! could save!
One tear of pity thou shouldst yield to me,
1 which id work acceedia
On my return from Malvern Wells, at half-past one in the morning of Tuesday the 13th of November, my attention was arrested by a sudden burst of vivid light in the heavens. The moon was at the time shining brilliantly, and the line of light, (which was a little above and between that luminary and the two principal stars in Gemini,) continued three or four seconds, and then gradually melted away into a thin nebulous appearance which bent and contorted itself very curiously. The weather the whole of the preceding day had been extremely foggy; but, as is sometimes the case at Malvern, those houses situated highest upon the declivity of the Hill, were quite above the dense vapour
which was spread out like a vast sea below, undulating to and fro, sometimes reaching and shrouding higher portions of the Hill, and then subsiding, leaving them quite clear. The vapour was in this condition when the light excited my notice. In descending the Hill I became enveloped in fog; the moon then became partially obscured, and the stars quite invisible. I shortly afterwards observed a slight flash of light, and a post-boy whom I met with, stated, that he had seen lightning through the fog several times, and once in particular, about two hours previous, the sky, to use his own expression, “opened and shut-but not like common lightning." This information induced me to continue my observations, and I soon perceived, through the mist, a very large meteor shoot across, leaving a long line of light behind. I resolved to mount the Hill, in order to get clear of the fog, and endeavour to ascertain from what cause these lights proceeded. Having ascended a considerable distance, and emerged from the dense vapour below, I found the moon and stars shining most brilliantly—the atmosphere perfectly calm and the hoar-frost coating the ground. Continuing my ascent towards the summit, I beheld one of the most extraordivary and beautiful spectacles that was ever witnessed-a constant succession of meteors of various degrees of magnitude and brilliancy. The smaller meteors were like what are vulgarly termed shooting stars, leaving behind them a train of pale light; those of a larger description were much more brilliant, and, notwithstanding the brightness of the moon, they threw a strong glare upon everything around. The latter always commenced from a small luminous point, rapidly increasing in size and brilliancy, shooting with great swiftness across a considerable
arch, and then suddenly disappearing, leaving behind a long train of very vivid white light, which slowly became changed into a pale yellow, the latter remaining sometimes for two or three minutes, occasionally even for a still longer period, becoming broader, contorted, and faint before entirely vanishing from my view. time, three or four of these luminous bodies would appear at the same moment, frequently two very near together; at another I could scarcely turn sufficiently quick to observe the spot whence the glare of light arose. Once, in particular, three very large meteors became visible at the same moment, presenting a most beautiful appearance. The recurrence of these phenomena was so rapid and contiuued, that in the brief space of five minutes, by turning about in different directions, I counted forty-eight of these meteors, of different magnitudes.
In contemplating this scene, of the sublimity of which I had no previous conception, a variety of ideas crowded upon my mind. My situation was novel in the extreme-standing upon a dark pinnacle of the Hill, sparkling here and there with large crystals of hoar-frost, shut out, as it were, froin the world by a vast sea of white vapour, whilst meteors of great magnitude and brilliancy were momentarily bursting upon me, I felt some degree of awe, and should have descended but for my desire to continue my observations, which I did for upwards of an hour.
In order that the reader may form some idea of these luminous bodies, I will bere observe that they varied in size and brilliancy from a magnitude equal to Mars or Jupiter to that of a Roman candle, some being even much larger than the latter, throwing out a strong glare around, and leaving a long stream of light behind, It is, perhaps, impossible to judge, with any degree of accuracy, of the distance which these bodies were from me; the smaller meteors appeared to be near, but the larger and more brilliant ones far off,
On the following day the weather was very foggy; towards the afternoon the wind arose from the southward, the fog gradually ascended, and during the night a great deal of rain fell. The next day was fine and warm, but cloudy; during the night it rained heavily, as it did also on the 15th, with a northerly wind.
I forbear attempting any explanation of the causes of these singular phenomena. I may, however, remark that there must be a great difference in the electrical or other condition of the air and vapour, to account for the dense fog lying at one time in a confused mass upon the surface of the earth, leaving the higher regions comparatively free, and at another to assume the arched, distinct and compact form of a cloud, in the upper regions of the atmosphere.
The light emanating from these meteors was observed, through the fog, on the same night in Sussex, Gloucestershire, the Isle of Wight, and in Yorkshire ; and an appearance very similar to what I witnessed was seen in the neighbourhood of Geneva, the details of which were given, upon report, by Professor Gaultier.
February.- VOL. II. No. vil.
REVIEWS OF PRINTS AND ILLUSTRATED WORKS.
“ The Comic Almanack for 1835; with twelve Illustrations of the Months, by George Cruikshank.” London, C. Tilt, Fleet Street.
That the Press caters as assiduously for the mental appetite of the million, at the good old season of mirth and festivity, as the confectioner does for their gastronomic indulgence, is obvious from the profusion of elegant, fanciful, and humorous publications brought forward as tributary to the period. We have literary cadeaux of all descriptions, from the aristocratic annual gleaming in gold and amethyst, hotpressed, embossed, and splendidly illustrated, to the humble pocket-book in scarlet morocco, embellished with a neat little head of “H. R. H. the Princess Victoria," twelve vignette views of gentlemen's country seats, and a scene from a popular novel ; and among other attractions containing some half-dozen conundrums, and the "new" music of an obsolete quadrille. Fancy is exerted to the utmost in the production of these fascinating gifts, and the fairy volume issues to the public a perfect specimen of combined talent. There is the sentimental Annual for ihe pensive and love-stricken, the Romeos and Juliets who are as yet wandering in a world of their own creation ; there is the comic ditto for the rattle-brained, and the good, fat, elderly lovers of dinners and broad grins, who have danced out of the flowery illusions of boyhood, and become too stout and mellow-looking for sighs and serenades : then there is the sacred annual for the devout, and the commercial one for the man of business, whose very pleasures must bear an allusion to “trade.” And as there is matter for all minds, so there is “ price” for all pockets; to wit the five-guinea “ large paper” copy with“ India proofs before letters;” and the quiet little offering at “one shilling and sixpence, bound in cloth.”
Our remarks have been elicited by the appearance of the “ Comic Almanack for 1835," a risible production from the inimitable needle of George Cruikshank. The idea of this pleasant hagatelle is clever and original : the duty on almanacks was removed by the wisdom of the national legislature ; the incubus fell off ; monopoly died in convulsions; the privilege of the Stationer's Company became a dream and a dead letter, and lo! the metropolis was inundated with a whole herring-shoal of almanacks, rushing forward under every shape, size, tint and authority, and put forth at prices so astoundingly low that the sober, old, square-toed, brown-coated citizen who annually paid down 28. 6d. for his “ Vox Stellarum” stood still, took off his spectacles, wiped them, re-saddled his nose, and stared mute with amazement. From “one penny" to "six-pence” there is the “ Hat Almanack,” the “ Paragon Almanack,” the “ National Almanack," the “ Sunday Almanack," and the “Red and Black Almanack,” and, for aught we know, as many more as there are sands in the sea, or whims in the heart.
The Comic Almanack, whose pages lie temptingly before us, is “ adorned with a dozen ‘right merrie' cuts, etched and sketched by George Cruikshank, and divers humourous cuts by other hands :” the envelope is grotesquely enlivened with witty conceits typical of the signs of the Zodiac; these are, veritably, choice little bits of “fun," and might be effectively placed on the back of that rare old print of the months with a fac-simile of which Strutt has favoured the curious in his “ Dictionary of Engravers.” The jolly young “Waterman ;” the descendant of Cadwallader with his leek and his goat ; the artilleryman ram-ming down cartridge ; the gouty John Bull ; the Siamese twins ; the fair fisherwoman with her balance ; the pensioners swilling like fishes; the unlucky wight caught by the crab; Leo the triplecrowned pontiff; the evergreen virgin with her tabby, her poodle and parrot; the scorpion, like shrew flying tooth and nail at her easy poor sot of a husband; and the elegant archer, full " fat, fair, and forty,” taking aim at the bull's eye, are, each and every, sparkling and spirited incentives to laughter. The illustrations of the
seasons” are equal in humour; spring appears in the seducing guise of a marketwoman bawling “radishes ! who'll buy my young radishes ;” summer, a feminine mountain of flesh, with gypsey-hat, fan, and French cambric, seated sighing away the sultry hours beneath a green tree;" autumn is a cockney sportsman-a genuine Sammy Simple in regular costume, tremblingly taking aim at an invisible
sparrow; and winter-hoar winter-freezes us in the shape of a withered Billingsgate crone warming her hands over a pan of charcoal which the bellows by her side has assisted to kindle. Are not these capital, good Reader ? Well, pass on, take a peep at the interior. Here is January, with the pageant of “the poor frozen-out gardeners,” and their frost-bitten turnips and carrots : there is a “fine body" of street-sweepers on winter duty, collecting the ice; and there is a knot of helpless little imps performing sundry involuntary evolutions on the slides. Now comes February, aqueous February fill-dyke, the sewers are let loose and the chains of the kennel are dissolved; half-melted ice, black and forbidding, and rivers of water terrify the pedestrian; there is an old granny, mounted on pattens, with petticoats duly tucked up, perched on a little islet of ice, and staring most piteously at the flood between her and the wished-for chaussée where a malicious charity-boy revels in her despair, and a couple of buxom housemaids, with a disconsolate đamsel, busy on the missions of Valentine, are on the qui vive. There is an agonized poodle floundering in the “ slush” and howling to its master in the extremity of its alarm; and there is the master, a meagre Frenchman, roquelaured, clogged and umbrella-ed, striding aghast over the deceitful ground: there are the ministers of cleanliness ycleped scavengers, flinging up the molten treasures of the Macadamized streets; and further on the industrious clearers of the roofs have contrived to deposit an avalanche on an unhappy couple below, the cavalier lies prostrate on one knee beneath his umbrella, and the fair one flies with extended arms from the desolation impending over her “last new bonnet.” Bravo! here is March ! rude, rioting, racketty March, whose “ bushel of dust is worth a king's ransom !” the locale of the scene is that corner of Fleet Street where we are so often tempted to pause and feast ourselves on the graphic delicacies at “86;" but what an animated picture of distress, and doubt, and dustiness! as gentlemen we must first glance at the ladies : one, a fair, slender-footed nymph, struggles with her rebellious drapery, while, taking advantage of her embarrassment, Boa and Brussels hie forth on a voyage of discovery ; vis-a-vis to the maiden, and threatening an immediate collision, a middleaged lady in equal perplexity, grasps with one hand the structure of velvet and lace cognomened a bonnet, and a little girl, blown into the shape of a balloon, share in the rude greeting of March. And now for the gentlemen ; a lusty elderly man, robbed of his bat and wig, in his efforts to protect himself from the bli whirlwind of dust that is rushing up the court, has thrust an open umbrella right into the chest of an unlucky spindle-shanked wight, who is blown, violently, round the corner; another, with dress in dire disorder, is flying in chase of his beaver, and a third, a hearty old fellow, in cloak and spectacles, laughing at his neighbour's pursuit, has wisely presented his back to the hurricane. Nor is the least comic incident that of the spaniel nearly blown topsy-turvy, with its tail turned over its ears by the blast. A mixed assemblage of coaches, horses and foot passengers, labouring in the breeze, fills up the back-ground. And here we have capricious April, not clothed in sunshine but, literally, dissolved in tears! A pelting shower is descending in the appropriate vicinity of “St. Swithin's Lane :" a group of individuals as varied in form and feature as Falstaff's regiment, have taken shelter from the merciless torrent in the covered-in entrance of Bath Court; there is a skeleton dandy of six feet high, prim and erect as a pike-staff; and there is the Daniel Lambert, who requires a whole stage to himself when he travels : on the pavement two of the fair sex are wading through the storm; the foremost short, fat and “elderly," with the legs of an elephant thrust into a pair of jean boots, cowers beneath a diminutive parasol, and, reckless of splashes, the whole breadth of her sole is planted heroically upon the ground; her companion, “tall and slender as a poplar tree,” with dripping boa round her neck, and her dark hair dishevelled, for rain be it known is ruinous to ringlets, holds up her muslin robe fastidiously and with an aspect of piteous dismay, treads along most daintily on the tip of her foot, pointing her toe as gracefully as any votary of Almack's. A porter escaped from the infliction of a showerbath, and wringing himself like a half-drowned dog, two or three gibing urchins, and the umbrella “ depot” of “ J. Gingham,” &c. complete the sketch.
“ April showers bring forth May flowers,"
and here they are decking out old
Jack-in-the-green" most gloriously, and