Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

and seclusion which excluded every idea unconnected with the country itself. Presently, a fine English boy ran up to us, and accosted us with a frank “How do you do, Sir ?"--which was almost the only English sentence he had retained, and then ran off to fetch a playfellow, who, he assured us, was a perfect master of his native tongue. When he came, we asked him how old he was ?" Elf, Sir," was his reply, in a strange accent, neither German nor English. We found these English boys, and 'one more, were under the tuition of the village schoolmaster of La Neufville, where they had lost their own language in acquiring a smattering of German and French.

Of all species of economy, this of economy in education is the most dangerous. The acquirement of an imperfect knowledge of modern languages is very ill purchased at the expense of an early separation from country and countrymen, from domestic ties, habits of filial and fraternal affection, and all those other wholesome disciplines of the character, which are the best part of education, and far more valuable than all the syntax and prosody which pedagogues can teach. If a boy is meant to be an Englishman, and to pursue his fortunes in England, it is a cruelty and injustice to place him at a tender age where he not merely runs the risk of losing the complete and perfect mastery over his own language, but makes connexions, acquires habits, and imbibes opinions opposite to those of his countrymen, and unconnected with his country.

After sleeping at La Neufville, we took boat early in the morning, and were rowed by a tall strong peasant-woman (her husband lolling at the head of the boat) to the island of St. Pierre, which rises, a shady insulated grove, out of the middle of the clear and tranquil lake. Our fair pilot appeared to be something of a radical, spoke of the French with great favour, and of the Bernese Government with much asperity—and alluding to the present condition of the people as subjects of Berne, she said shrewdly, " Oui, Monsieur, à present nous sommes sous les pâtes des ourses. à bon mot which would have made a wit's character for a week in the circles of Paris. We landed at a little creek, washing the gardens and walls of a large spacious building with a minaret and little belfry in the roof, giving it a picturesque, conventual aspect. It is the only building on the island, now a farm-house and inn, surrounded with a beautiful grove of oaks, chesnuts, and beeches, which nearly covers the island. Here we ate a very indifferent breakfast, which was hardly rendered appetissant by being served up in Rousseau's parlour-a square dirty room, with no other furniture than the tressel-board and oak bench which are said to have been used by the "self-torturing sophist."-Its walls are scarred and defaced with the initials, names, mottoes, and votive inscriptions of the many votaries of the philosopher, who constantly make pilgrimages to the place of his exile. A magnificent grove of venerable oaks and elms crowns the summit of the island walk traverses their shades nearly from one end of the island to the other. Openings in the thicket occasionally let in lovely prospects of the blue Jura on the one side, and the distant Alps on the other. These groves were the scene of the wayward musings and reveries of the unhappy Jean Jacques, during his month's abode on this islet, in 1765. In these sylvan solitudes his fickle and extraordinary spirit

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

-a wide

appears to have indulged in all that luxury of meditation and indolent musing on its own emotions, which appears to have been his highest state of enjoyment, and over which he has thrown a charm and an interest which few narratives even of actual events and facts are found to possess. Of his abode here he speaks with great fondness :-"De toutes les habitations où j'ai demeuré, aucune ne m'a rendu si veritablement heureux, et ne m'a laissé de si tendres regrets que l'île de St. Pierre. Je compte ces deux mois de séjour dans cet île pour le temps le plus heureux de ma vie, et tellement heureux qu'il m'eut suffi durant toute mon existence sans laisser naître un seul instant dans mon âme le desir d'un autre état. Que ne puis je aller finir mes jours dans cet île cherie sans en resorter jamais ?"-The “ Lettres de la Montagne," and other publications, had raised a storm at Geneva, and in Switzerland, which soon drove him from that country. This had already driven him from Val Travers, and the protection of Marechal Keith, to the island of St. Pierre-and here he was soon demanded by the Council of Geneva to be given up by the Government of Berne. That Government banished him accordingly from the island, and soon after from Bienne, whence he hastened to England in search of repose which he never found, and which his feelings and temper denied him, let his abode be where it might.

« Quid terras alio calentes Sole mutamus ? Patriæ quis exul Se quoque fugit?”

D.

PETER-PINDARICS.

Piron and the Judge of the Police,
Piron, a poet of the Gallic nation,

Who beat all waggish rivals hollow,
Was apt to draw his inspiration

Rather from Bacchus than Apollo. ,
His hostess was his deity,
His Hippocrene was eau-de-vie,
And though 'tis said
That poets live not till they die,
When living he was often dead,-

That is to say, dead drunk.-" While I,”
Quoth Piron, am by all upbraided

With drunkenness, the vilest, worst,
Most base, detestable, degraded,
Of sins that ever man repented,

None of you blames this cursed thirst
With which l’m constantly tormented.
Worse than a cholic or a phthisic,

E'en now it gripes me so severely,

That I must fly to calm it, merely
Swallowing brandy as a physic."-
To cure this unrelenting fever

He pour'd such doses through his lips, he
Was shortly, what the French call ivre,

Anglicèripsy;

And while the midnight bell was pealing

Its solemn tolling,
Our Bacchanal was homeward reeling,

Tumbling and rolling,
Until at last he made a stop,

Suffering his noddle, which he could not keep Upright, upon the ground to drop, And in two minutes was asleep

Fast as a top:
Round came the guard, and seeing him extended

Across the gutter,
Incompetent to move or utter,
They thought at first his days were ended;
But finding that he was not dead,
Having lost nothing but his head,
They popp'd him on a horse's back,
Just like a sack,
And shot him on the guard-house floor,
To let him terminate his snore.
Next morning when our tippling bard

Had got his senses,
They brought a coach into the yard,

And drove him off to answer his offences,
Before the judge of the police,

Who inade a mighty luss and clamour ;
But like some justices of peace,

Who know as much of law as grammar,
Was an egregious ninny-hammer.
Well, fellow,” cried the magistrate,
“ What have you got to say for boozing,
Then lying in the streets and snoozing

All night in that indecent state?”
“Sir," quoth the culprit to the man of law,

It was a frost lasi night.in town,
And tired of tripping, sliding, and slipping,

Methought I'might as well lie down,
And wait until there came a thaw."

“ Pooh! nonsense! psha!
Imprisonment must be the lot
Of such a vagabond and sot.
But tell me, fellow, what's your name?”-
“ Piron."-" The dramatist ?"-" The same.”

Ah, well, well, well, Monsieur Piron,
Pray take your hat and quit the court,

For wags like you must have their sport,
But, recollect when you are gone,
You'll owe me one, and thus I show it:
I have a brother who's a poet,

And lives as you do by his wits.”-
Quoth Piron, " that can never pass,
For I've a brother who's an ass,

So we are quits."

The Farmer and the Counsellor. A Counsel in the Common Pleas,

Who was esteem'd a mighty wit,

Upon the strength of a chance hit Amid a thousand Hippancies,

And his occasional bad jokes

In bullying, bantering, browbeating,

Ridiculing and maltreating
Women or other timid folks,
In a late cause resolved to hoax
A clownish Yorkshire farmer-one

Who by his uncouth look and gait,

Appear'd expressly meant by Fate,
For being quizz'd and play'd upon.
So having tipp'd the wink to those

In the back rows,
Who kept their laughter bottled down

Until our wag should draw the cork,
He smiled jocosely on the clown,

And went to work. “ Well, Farmer Numscull, how calves at York ?"

Why-not, Sir, as they do wi' you, But on four legs instead of two." “ Officer !” cried the legal elf, Piqued at the laugh against hiinself, “ Do pray keep silence down below there. Now look at me, clown, and attend, Have I not seen you somewhere, friend?"“ Yees-very like-I often

go

there." “Our rustic's waggish- quite laconic,” The counsel cried with

grin

sardonic
“I wish I'd known this prodigy,
This genius of the clods, when I

On circuit was at York residing.-
Now, Farmer, do for once speak true,
Mind, you 're on oath, so tell me, you
Who doubtless think yourself so clever,
Are there as many fools as ever

lu the West Riding?”
Why no, Sir, no; we've got our share,
But not so many as when you were there." H.

SONNET.
O VOYAGBR of life-the stormy wave

Hath o'er thee pass’d with wild and furious sway,

Threatening to 'whelm thy frail bark on its way
In the dark horrors of the watery grave.
Yet steadfast at the helm the tempest brave
Till from the East thou hailst the dawning ray,

And the rich promise of a calmer day:
For He who rules the storm hath power to save,
His voice shall soothe the billows of the deep,
And bid the fair winds soft and prosperous blow,
And ocean heave his raging tide no more ;
Whilst blissful gales o'er the still waters sweep,

And the bright skies upon thy bark bestow
The haven of her rest—the long-sought heavenly shore.

R.

[blocks in formation]

On the Characteristics of Natural Health. It is but too true that very few persons set a value upon health, if they are to be at any pains to obtain it; and that they esteem it a blessing only when they can have it for nothing. Nature has done all that lies in her power to facilitate our acquisition of this benefit. Animals, whom she has confined within a much narrower range than man, are subject to few diseases, and mostly attain the natural limits of their career without suffering much by the way. To man, on the other hand, she has given greater liberty, and he

avails himself of it without knowing where to stop. The heart demands new pleasures, and the understanding invents them; deluded reason approves, and the will hurries him to their enjoyment, without his being aware of the misery into which they will lead him. As he was destined to be a free and rational creature, Providence had no other method of keeping him in the paths of nature, which conduct through health to long life, than to confer upon him the discrimination necessary to enable him to recognize and avoid dangerous by-ways, and by reason to restrain the unruly passions, which are incessantly urging him into excesses. discrimination we actually possess. Physicians preach up to us maxims of health which are consistent with reason, and which reason, gladly as she would do it, cannot annul: for she is in league with the passions which she ought to controul, or at least treats them with as much indulgence as a mother does her spoiled child. This treason is our misfortune. Though Nature, solicitous for the welfare of man, gives to reason the most

express commands against inordinate gratification, she performs her office too much like the custom-house officer who takes a bribe. When the passions knock for admittance, she indeed inquires, “Are ye pernicious ?" but they need only answer--“ No," and then present an intoxicating potion ; her vigilance is lulled, and the illicit traffic encouraged. But for this wilful negligence men would be much more healthy than they are at present; it is in vain, however, to pity or to censure this misconduct, for, while there are human beings upon earth, we must not expect the case to be otherwise. Each avoids only what he fears; and he fears only such things as are disagreeable to his feelings, but disregards his own false heart, the blandishments of his passions, and the treachery of his reason.

Besides this voluntary neglect of health by mankind, there is a natural obstacle to its enjoyment of the blessings of which I am treating, when its members are not so fortunate as to be born with a frame possessing the essential characteristics of health. It is this good fortune more especially that I wish my fellow-creatures to possess. The health for which we are solely indebted to the performance of the duties prescribed by Nature, is a blessing that we may enjoy if we please. We have only to study those duties with attention, and we shall then know the way to attain voluntary health. A poet, whose name I have forgotten, has some lines to this effect :

Ever anxious to combine the useful with the amusing, it gives us much pleasure to be able to announce a regular series of papers nnder this title from the pen of an eminent Physician.

« AnteriorContinuar »