Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

with a corresponding hitch of their trowsers, "Lend a hand, ye lubbers!" In lieu of this ungenteel salutation, he, the chairman, heard a remarkably modest well-dressed sailor on board the yacht in question, with a polite bow thus accost his brethren :—" Gentlemen, may I request your co-operation 1" (great applause.)

Song from Miss Povey in the gallery, "Hail Politeness, Power divine!"

Silence was then requested while the secretary read the report of the committee.

The committee commenced their report by drawing a parallel between London in its present state and as it existed fifty years ago. Gentility, at the period last mentioned, was confined to a few streets and squares westward, while all the rest of the metropolis was devoted to vulgarity. Since that period Bedford-square had shewn to an astonished aristocracy that traders could be as genteel as viscounts. (Applause.) In this square was first set that glorious example, since so well followed by more recent edifices, that human nature could not exist without two drawing-rooms communicating by folding-doors. Young children might require nurseries, and grown ones school-rooms: the father of a family might want his library, and the mother of it her store-room. But what, continued the report, are wants like these compared with the want of routs? (Applause.) Upon this plan, therefore, was every new house erected, from the massy structures in Connaught-place to their humble brethren in Coram-street; and Vitruvius forbid that they should ever be erected upon any other principle! If the time should ever arrive when utility should shoulder the hod and convenience handle the trowel, farewell to fashion, and good-b'ye to the Society for the Propagation of Gentility. (The Secretary at this period of the report drank a tumbler of champagne and water, and then resumed his labours.) The report next adverted to the Propagation of Gentility in Euston-square and other environs of Gower-street, and proceeded to set forth a letter addressed, by a widow lady residing in the lastmentioned street, to the Secretary, covering two notices which the writer alleged herself to have received from neighbours and tenants, expressive of the intention of the parties to quit their residences at Michaelmas-day then next ensuing. The two writers, who appeared to be of the softer sex, intimated no feeling of hostility as inducing them to take that step. They both of them ascribed it to an article which had appeared in a respectable monthly publication, entitled "Every-day People," in which it is insinuated that Gowerstreet is apt to be tenanted by persons of that stamp. (Murmurs.) The writers alleged that in transplanting themselves to Gower street, the one from Hatton-garden and the other from the Crescent in the Minories, they were actuated by the laudable motive of being genteel and something out of the common way: but, finding from the article in question, that those objects were not to be attained, or if attained, not prolonged in their present residences, they had resolved upon moving a little more westward, namely, to Alfred-place and Howland-street.

A gentleman in a genteel suit of black, at the middle table, here interrupted the secretary, and begged to know whether the houses in Gower-street possessed verandahs to the windows of the first floor. One of the committee, in answer, regretted to be obliged to confess that, so far from this being the case, only one mansion, tenanted, he believed, by Mr. John Bannister, even possessed a balcony. He added, however, that since the publication of the pasquinade, to which allusion had been made, the inhabitants had generally determined upon the adoption of verandahs. It had also been resolved to break the king's peace a little later at night, by a more prolonged system of routing and quadrilling. The sons of three resident householders had determined to indulge the natives with an occasional lark at half past two in the morning: the daughters of seven other proprietors were learning to march, and taking lessons on the kettledrum: Mr. Mac Adam was contracting to mud them and dust them in the latest fashion; and the wives of the tenants in general had come to a resolution of giving no balls without requiring the parties to appear in fancy dresses. This conversion of young policy-brokers, Blackwell-hall factors, proctors, attornies, and clergymen in deacons orders, into Turks, pilgrims, kings of Prussia, Swiss peasants, and Spanish banditti, it was hoped and trusted, would in process of time enable the inhabitants no longer to groan under the appellation of " Every-day People."—The gentleman m the genteel suit of black expressed himself satisfied.

Song, Mr. Fitawilliam—" Oh what a town! what a wonderful metropolis!"

The chairman now begged, before the continuation of the reading of the report, to propose a toast. He had to draw the attention of the meeting to the memory of a departed nobleman, whom mankind in genera), and this society in particular, were bound to reverence. But for him and his "Letters to his Son," where would our feet have been at this moment? Not turned out, but protruded forward in parallel lines, like thoso of a porter bending under the weight of two firkins of butter. Where would our finger-nails have been? Not rounded in sightly semicircles, but lengthened ad infinitum, like those of the poor benighted Brahmin, who makes nine million of bows in one year to the blazing mid-day sun. He therefore begged to propose as a toast, "The immortal memory of Philip Dormer, Earl of Chesterfield." This toast was drunk in solemn silence, and with empty glasses.

The meeting was at this period thrown into a temporary confusion, owing to a dispute between two gentlemen who sat near the middle of the centre table. One of the gentlemen taxed the other with having been helped twice to soup, which his adversary retorted with a charge of having called for table-beer after his cheese. Both charges were verified by the testimony of one of the stewards. The gentlemen apologized for having committed two acts so flagrantly opposite to the rules of the Society for the Propagation of Gentility; and harmony was restored.

The report next adverted to the object which the Society had more particularly in view, namely, the propagation of gentility eastward. "And here," said that document, "your committee, amid occasional causes for despondence, have much motive for continuing their labours-. Gentility is greatly on the increase in Moorfields: a rout has been given in Cross-street, Finsbury: Stepney Fields are white for the harvest: a harp has been heard to vibrate in Crutched Friars: a footman in a white livery has been seen to deliver a card of condolence in Seething-lane: a book-club has sprung up in Trinity-square, and tho dinner-hour in the Minories is half-past six for seven. (Great applause.) Your committee have further to report, that in individual instances the effect of their labours is beginning to be gloriously apparent: two cutlers' apprentices were seen by the secretary to accost each other at an accidental rencontre in Aldgate on the Saturday preceding. These very individuals, who six months ago would have seized each other's hands, and worked away as if they were pumping for dear life on board the Bellerophon, now satisfied themselves with a slight touch of the hat, a graceful drop of the chin and the eyelids, and a mutual soil exclamation, in which the usual health-inquiry was Mae-Adamized into "Addy do." Your committee takes leave to dou1,t whether the thing could have been better done at the cornet of Park-lane, Piccadilly. The report concluded by expressing the hope of the committee, that the meeting would not relax in its persevering efforts to uphold the Society, exhausted as its funds were, by a pretty general distribution of brass spurs for bankers' clerks, agate necklaces for special pleaders' wives, Irish Melodies for copper smiths' daughters, French kid gloves for journeymen printers, and cockades for brewers' grooms. The subscription was liberal, and the company departed in cabriolets at an early hour, after bestowing a merited compliment upon Mr. Kay for the genteel untavernlike appearance of his establishment.

HOMEl* ON THE BANKS OF THE SCAMANDEK.

Lone stream! and is this all
Thy banks recall,
Of valour, glory, grief, and beauty gone?

Retains thy silver flood

No trace of tears or blood?
And towers thy Troy in Homer's dreams alone?

Are these the scenes deplored,
Where shield and sword
Bade the red field with splendid terrors burn?

Did e'er this sweet wind's breath

Waft the dread sounds of death,
Or charger's hoof the flowers of Xanthust spurn?

Was it yon desert shore
That held of yore
A thousand keels, and shook with war's alarms?

Or, o'er yon summits? proud,

Pavilion'd round with cloud,
Did the lone Thunderer launch his burning amis?—

Alas! long years yon sun
His race has run,—
And glory's rainbows in Time's cloud expire;

Yet gleams of splendours gone

Still gild their misty throne—
Themes of the sage's thought, the minstrel's lyre.

• The author has taken no notice of the vulgar opinion, that ths poet, who had seen so much, could not see at all; finding it impossible to read the Iliad, and to believe that Homer was blind.

t Xanthus his name with those of heavenly birth.

But call'd Scamander by the sons of earth. Pope's Iliad.

1 Mount Ida.

Oh, idly glorious wave, Where once the brave Slaked their last thirst, and swell'd the crimson tide—

Lo, one sole lingerer roves,

To gaze on Ida's groves,
And dream of Troy by Dardan Xanthus' side!

Can he behold in vain
Thy haunted plain,
Thy river, murmuring still of days no more—

Nor strike the lofty shell,

Their deeds and fates to tell
Who bled, or triumph'd, on Scamander's shore r

No! Would the torch of Fame
Might wake to flame
His harp, and fire his soul with awful joy,

Till on bright Helle's flood

Immortal navies rode,
And Ida smiled upon a deathless Troy !—

So let Song's children live—
Mid thoughts that give
All the rich sunshine back of clouded years—

And cull the purest blooms,

From this, their world of tombs,
To crown the bowl, whose wine so oft is tears 1

Free, fair as Ida's streams,
Melodious dreams
Should o'er their hearts in sunny beauty roll,

And lave their lives from all

That spreads a mournful pall
O'er the cold world, and o'er its votary's soul.

How rich the Minstrel's dower,
Were his the power
To bid forever live the faded name—

To light his song sublime

By the dim waves of time,
Till farthest years roll'd brightening in his fame!

Such be the wanderer's lot,
Who, lone, forgot,
Strikes his loved lyre beside a stranger wave!

Not—oh not all in vain.

Be pour'd the enthusiast strain, Which breathes his deep hope of a glorious grave!

Spirits of Song! O fire

His heart and lyre,—
To him the far and phantom Past unfold,—

Till bright o'er Lethe's tide

The Star of Glory ride,
And tinge its dark waves with prophetic gold!

Then, though this frame be clay,
Yet o'er my lay
Ages may pass, revering nations bum ;—

Green Ida's floods may be

Immortal tears for me,
And even green Ida's self her Minstrel's urn!

BRITISH GALLERIES OF ART. NO. XIv.

The British Museum.Part 2.

We have now to take a glance at that part of the collection of antique sculpture which consists of fragments alone. And first of the Egyptian ones.

The wonders which modern discovery has placed before us, in connexion with the arts of Egypt, exercise an almost painful and oppressive effect on the imagination, when we permit it to be directed fully and exclusively towards them. They aggrandise, to a vast extent, our notions of the physical power of the race of beings to which we belong, without in a proportionate degree—or indeed without in any degree— elevating our conception of the intellectual power which is allied to it. It is unquestionable that, since the authentic annals of the world, no human means could have produced the temples, tombs, statues, &c. in the presence of the merest fragments of which, as they exist in this collection, we cannot stand, without a feeling of awe-stricken amazement. What I mean is, not that the art of constructing them is lost, if we had the necessary materials; but that no single will could now so influence and direct the wills of others, as to achieve the works in question. And yet who shall deny that, in point of knowledge, the present day surpasses that of any other which has preceded it ? —What becomes of the maxim, then, that " knowledge is power?" Leaving this question for the philosopher to solve, let us examine a few of these evidences of the past existence of a power which nothing but a new deluge can ever restore to the world—if we should not rather say, inflict upon it.—It may be worth while, however, first to say a few words on the characteristics of Egyptian sculpture in general, as distinguished from all other, and particularly from Greek and Roman, and the modern imitations of these.—-As compared with the abovenamed, the character of Egyptian sculpture would generally be called rude. But I cannot think that this epithet is applicable to it; because I conceive that the effect which it produces upon the spectator is exactly that which it was intended to produce. I do not conceive that the sculptured objects we meet with in and about Egyptian temples were in any case intended to represent merely human beings; or that, in fact, they were intended to represent any natural beings whatever, in their natural state. The astonishing skill exhibited by the Egyptians in almost every art at present known among us, forbids the supposition that, if their object had been to present us with mere imitations of what they saw about them, they could not have succeeded better than they have done. They had, in fact, too little reverence and respect for themselves to think of perpetuating their mere outward and visible forms. They had high abstract notions of their power, as a race of people; and well they might—considering the stupendous evidences of that power which were constantly before their eyes! But they had but little respect for each other, or for themselves, individually; especially when thought of in connexion with those objects to which they paid worship and adoration. Was it likely, then, that they should one day be setting up a statue dedicated to one of their deities, and the next day to one of themselves?—It is only in a state of society verging towards over refinement, that men set up graven images to one another.

« AnteriorContinuar »