Imágenes de página

prison, given up to the most bitter reflections, could not yet help flattering herself with escaping death, as she reckoned the Czar amongst her lovers. The day marked for her punishment arrived; she appeared upon the scaffold, habited in a robe of white satin, trimmed with black-ribbands; and never had she looked so beautiful. The monarch advanced to bid her farewell; he embraced her, encouraged her, and said to her, "I cannot save thee; the law, which condemns thee, is greater than I! Trust in God, and suffer patiently." And at the very moment when the Czar, deeply affected, pressed her hand for the last time, and walked away, that captivating head, with one blow, was separated from her beautiful body, and so terminated the life of the unfortunate Miss Mamilton!



Cartouche the robber, infested Paris in the early part of the last century [born in Paris 1693.] His people were arranged in bands, and regularly placed, every night, as so many guards; but certainly not for the protection of property. He piqued himself on being a generous and gallant man; and his behaviour to Madame de Ségur, has some claims to support his pretensions.— That lady found on her toilette, one morning, the following epistle, respectfully addressed to her, without being able to form the most distant conjecture, as to the means by which it was placed there.

"Madame,-As I am informed of every thing that passes both in the city, and at court, I know that two days ago you spoke of me very advantageously to the Regent, Monseigneur the Duke of Orleans, and that you said, "a man like me might make a good general of an army :"-I am extremely grateful for the good opinion you entertain of my abilities; and by way of demonstrating my gratitude, I have caused one hundred bottles of Champagne wine, which I have carefully chosen as excellent, to be placed in your wine cellar. I add to this small present an impression from my seal. It is a sovereign safe conduct, and you may securely walk in any part of Paris, at whatever hour you please, without feeling the smallest misadventure.

"I am with respect, Madame,

Your most humble, and most obedient servant,

Madame de Ségur, astonished at this information, recollected however, that she had spoken of Cartouche to the Regent. She instantly sent servants to examine her wine cellar, and sure

enough they found the hundred bottles of Champagne mentioned in the letter She conceived violent suspicions of the honesty of her domestics, and proposed to remove to another house; but her friends advised her to confide in the honour of the robber who had promised his protection, and who would not suffer her to be robbed. Besides, said they, all Paris is full of Cartouchiens, and perhaps you may fall into hands of gangs still more desperate. It is certain, that Madame de Ségur, never could discover by what means his agents had access to her house; and, it is equally certain that she never could perceive that she suffered the smallest injury.


Cursory Circumstances connected with the late Henry Fielding.

ACCIDENT lately threw me into the company of an aged gentleman in the country, who formerly possessed some little share of intimacy with the late Henry Fielding and his family. So entire is the dearth of information respecting the minute biographical circumstances of the greatest novel-writer which this country ever produced, that I listened with much interest to the trifles mentioned by my new acquaintance. Trifling indeed was the information acquired; but those who love the memory of the author that has charmed them through many an hour of exquisite relaxation, may, perhaps, admit that no circumstance connected with him can be too trivial for record.

My friend married the daughter of the Rev. Mr. Skelton, at whose academy Sir John Fielding, and the sons of the poet, were educated. He has there frequently seen Fielding, and declares his conversation, even in the latter and declining years of his life, to have been animated and winning beyond description. In point of person, Fielding allows himself (see his voyage to Lisbon) to be far from interesting. Sickness, as he approached the grave, must have made strange inroads on his complexion and general aspect. Fielding was an invalid when first my friend knew him. Much may, therefore, be attributed to the effect of disease; but my aged informer emphatically assured me, that he "was the plainest man he ever beheld."

Mrs. Feilding (his last wife, and the mother of those children whose infantile gambols interrupted the author so often while writing Tom Jones, and from whom he parted with such heartfelt regret, when quitting England for Lisbon,) was raised, or my authority misleads me, from a menial capacity to the bed of the author. She was a woman of great personal attraction, and,

though not much indebted to education, was of pleasing manners, and most decorous conduct. She resided, on her return from Lisbon, after the death of her husband, for several months, at Mr. Skelton's, and a neighbouring gentleman was so far captivated by her manners and appearance, that he requested her in marriage; but, with an honourable respect for the recollection of her husband, she peremptorily declined this flattering over


Fielding is known to have died in circumstances truly poetical in regard to pecuniary matters. His last work (the Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon) was dedicated to the public, under the hope of national gratitude, causing a contribution (perhaps I should say honorary offering) to be made for the benefit of the children of him who had proved so great an honour to his country. The booksellers had grown rich while the author remained poor. But, in regard to the connection between Fielding and his publishers, an instance of generosity occurs, which cannot be too generally known. The person who had chiefly been in the habit of purchasing his manuscripts, was so entirely convinced of the excellence of the bargains which he had made, and so honourably anxious to render a compensation to the family of his literary benefactor, that he left, at his death, a considerable sum (my informer believes fifteen hundred pounds,) to Mrs. Fielding!

Sir John Fielding, the brother of the poet, appears to have inherited his portion of family humour, although he has left no record, in a lettered form, of his comic propensity. The following circumstance my friend adduced as an instance. After paying a visit to a country gentleman of eminent hospitality, Sir John mounted his horse, in company with several brother-convivialists. The knight, though "a thick drop serene" had quenched the lustre of his orbs, was a fearless horseman. In fact, his steed was trained to obedience, and was familiar with the rider's haunts. Sir John rode forwards; but when he arrived at Hatley-row, under the impulse of the gay purpose of the hour, he checked his horse, and the animal entered the paved yard of an inn. Our traveller was in the habit of wearing a shade over his sightless eyes, which the apprehensiveness and surprise of the innkeeper and his wife converted into a mask. It was during the time of a general panic throughout the country, in consequence of a threatened invasion from France. Sir John found, by the tremulous accents of the people at the inn, that his appearance had produced a striking effect on their imagination, and he accordingly humoured their apprehensions. He, with many significant shrugs, and divers protestations of extreme haste, informed his auditors that the French were landed in great numbers, and were far advanced on their march to the metropolis; that himself had been

captured by the foe, and only released on condition of wearing a mask, or bandage, till six hours were expired. After communicating this intelligence he quitted the inn.

It happened that the innkeeper's wife was one of the most credulous among the weak. Terrified beyond measure, she hastened and buried all the money she could collect, and threw the household plate into the well for safety. The whole house was commotion, from the stable-yard to the topmost garret. The joke was, of course, soon detected, and the identity of the knight shortly ascertained. So high was the indignation of the silly host, when he discovered the extent of his duplicity, that he commenced an action against the waggish alarmist. The cause was tried at Winchester, when the plaintiff was deservedly nonsuited.

I cannot help taking this opportunity to regret that the public have never been gratified with a circumstantial account of the life of so distinguished a man as Fielding. I believe it is generally apprehended that the complexion of his actions would not bear a minute scrutiny, and therefore it is concluded that the task was altogether declined by those able to form a regular digest of his life. If this indeed be so, it appears to me that the surviving friends of Henry Fielding have acted most injudiciously. The world knows, that Fielding was betrayed, by the liveliness of his imagination, into many indiscretions. It knows that indulgence became habit, and that he degenerated into a character conspicuous for dissipation. It was prepared, therefore, for a record of follies, but was graciously disposed, from admiration of Fielding's talent, to meet, half way, every apology which could be offered for his eccentricities. Mankind were prepared, likewise, to reap a lesson of instruction from a detail of the shoals which shipwrecked the morals of one so eminently gifted with genius, and so elevated in sentiment, during the labours of his recluse hours.

There is a species of sublimity (as we have been taught by Burke, in silence, which magnifies the presumed deformity of the object concealed by taciturnity. Thus the world forms a most terrific idea of the errors which it is led to believe are too enormous to meet the light. Fielding has left a son conspicuous for talent, who must be possessed of documents for the biography of his father. What a noble offering to the memory of an illustrious parent would be an apology for the life of Fielding, (if indeed an apology be requisite,) from the pen of this gifted descendant?

I have now before me Fielding's last performance, his Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon. Hot tender are his expressions regarding the children he was about to quit-for ever! Methinks it would be but a due return, for his offspring to pen a vindication of his fame, or, at any rate, to raise a literary monument to his memory! I remain, yours, &c. J. N. B.


Wahabites.-A correspondent of the Institute has presented a most afflicting contrast, on the "History of the Pachalike of Bagdad,” where he has resided for some years. The fine country, for which nature has done so much, has, since the decline of the empire of the Khalifs, been successively devastated by the Persians, Tartars, and Turks. It still, however, retains some traces of its former magnificence, and on account of its natural fertility always possesses within itself the means of a renovated prosperity. The inhabitants are perpetually menaced, however, by a warlike, fanatical, and formidable sect, called the Wahabites, who have formerly made incursions into their territories, during which they treated the natives with the greatest injustice, cruelty, and opression.

The Wahabites consist of certain Arabs of the desert, who, during the last half century, have subjugated all the neighbouring tribes in succession, and have at length attained such an amazing degree of preponderance and celebrity, that they have spread affright and consternation throughout all the country, from the Persian Gulf to the confines of Syria. They derive their name from the father of their founder, who did not pretend to innovation, but to reform and restore the Koran, so as to bring it back to its original purity. They combat against those who profess any other religion than their own, but they are most exasperated against the Mahometans, as their own sect consists of Heretics; they expect crowns of martyrdom for themselves, provided they die in battle, and deem it agreeable to God to massacre, pillage, and destroy, all whom they are pleased to term infidels.. There are no exploits, however formidable, and no crimes, however odious, that may not be expected from this union of warlike ferocity and religious fanaticism.

Madeira House.-The malignant war which has existed in Europe for the last twenty years, having destroyed the intercourse of this country with Southern Europe, and it being no longer permitted to opulent invalids to resort to those climes for the restoration of their health, it has lately been conceived, that, if an artificial climate, equal in temperature to the most salubrious parts of Italy, could be formed in our own island, we might expect results somewhat similar. Since the possession of Madeira by the English, that island has afforded hope to invalids; but, the expense and inconvenience of a voyage thither being commensurate with the means of only few persons, it has been proposed, to erect and maintain, at CLIFTON, a house and covered grounds, built and fitted for these purposes, to be called a

« AnteriorContinuar »