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his expansive mind. “ Detestable society !” said he to himself: “if this be society ; rather let me wander all my days among the woods, that have never been marked by a human footstep! There at least I can enjoy a creation more consonant to my ideas of human dignity! My fancy will form to itself a world of its own, consistent with my early dreams of life!"-Thus he wandered on, lost in meditations; and at length digested his ideas in the following
And quick the doubling mists obscure the day:
Their distant glancing lights, I seek my way :
Seem, like a lake, to level all the vale ;
The beriding clouds in pillowy darkness sail.
In doubtful paths, my fancy loves to rise ! ,
Ideal buildings people every grove,
Clad in the grey obscurity, I view
More beauteous scenes than Nature ever knew ! « The exercise of this ride gave him a night of sound sleep; and he rose with refreshed spirits to indulge, uninterruptedly, in his own studies, and his own solitary walks.
• The Autumn was hastening on—the greater part of the corn had been already imbarned : and the leaves of the forest began to assume a golden tinge, the most rich and happy of all hues for the imitation of a painter. A kind of liquid splendour sat upon the whole surrounding scenery. Herds of all sorts peopled the stubbles, and the woods; and even the swine, which, at this time of the year while they move in numbers, are very picturesque, began to take a distant range to feed on the falling acorns, as well as the refuse of the sickle and the scythe.
• Amid such scenes Fitz-Albini forgot all his cares, and felt nothing but the most exalted pleasure.-He had crossed the most distant boundary of the park; and was already some miles advanced beyond it, immersed in his own reflections, when, from the top of an hill, he surveyed a large castellated mansion beneath him, which he soon recollected to be Penshurst, the venerable seat of the illus. trious family of Sidney.
• As he had not surveyed it for many years, he determined to hasten into the valley, and view it again. He enquired for the old housekeeper, who had shewn it to him, when a boy; but she was not still in her office. He had, however, the satisfaction of hearing she was yet alive ; and of visiting her at a neat house in the village, where the majestic old woman, at the age of 97, or 98, still retained not only the traces of her former beauty, but her facultiesand even her chearfulness-though she sighed at the fallen glories of
the dear old hall, where she remembered 'so much splendour and hospitality, and at least five generations of its once-gay and renowned inhabitants.
· Fitz-Albini could scarcely walk over this stately building, now so chilly and deserted, without being overwhelmed with melancholy -the gallery of portraits-the curious pictures, by Holbein, of Edward, the Sixth, the Duke of Northumberland, Sir Henry Sidney, and many others; the numerous likenesses by Jansen, Vandyke, Lely, &c. filled him with admiration.— The recurrence to his mind of so many illustrious names, Sir Philip Sidney, Spenser, Ben Jonson, Algernon Sidney, and Waller, almost confounded him with the fulness of his ideas.
• He strolled slowly up the park ; and sat an hour in listening to the screams, and watching the mancuvres of the heronry, still subsisting there.
. During this hour, the only ideas, that were sufficiently distinct to reduce themselves into language, assumed the following form
"SONNET, written at Penshurst.
Along these lofty and majestic walls !
Where Philip's tuneful lyre, whose dying falls
Ah! where th' undaunted figure, that appalls
The bending trees I round Sacharissa calls ?
Heroes and poets moulder in the earth!
No sound is heard but of the wailing blast
Yet on their 'semblance Melancholy pores,
And all the faded splendour soon restores. • To every mind, which reflects deeply, the extinction or decay of an antient or eminent family is a subject of real and very profound regret. It is true, that to antiquity and lustre of descent both understanding and virtue are often wanting. But, if ability be more frequently conspicuous in those who have climbed from a low origin up the steep and dangerous ascent of ambition, virtue in such families is undoubtedly by far more rare. Nor is ability always requisite to attain the point of rank and wealth.-And it is too certain that the prosperous road is generally through the defiles of corruption and vice. The corrupted heart, the interested sentiments, the debased, however acute, understanding, of a low man grown great, are too apt to throw a tincture over the characters of his family for at least a century; whereas that race which hereditary honours and affluence have long
"* Sir Henry Sidney, Lord President of the Marches, who kept his court at Ludlow Castle.'
• + Sir Philip Siuney's Arcadia.'
placed above what is low, servile, and meanly ambitious, have a much greater probability of being distinguished by elevated ideas, and pure independent souls.'
In reply to this assertion, it would suffice to point into the world. Where is independence more scarce than among the high-born? What class is more regularly prodigal in youth, and more frequently dependent in age, than the nobility ? Elevation of sentiment generally results from the study of those writers, who have drawn the fairest models of human excellence. If it ought, as our author fancies, to be ascribed to early impressions, high-birth is in this respect disadvantageous; for, by a natural consequence of the hours and customs of the fashionable world, the children of the great are in their early years left more than others to the care of servants, and consequently receive their first impressions from persons of the lower ranks. .
These volumes certainly merit perusal, and are evidently the production of no common writer.
Art. XII. Memoirs of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. By William Godwin. Small 8vo. pp. 200. 35. 68.
Boards. Johnson. 1798. VULGAR tears fall and evaporate without leaving any trace
V behind them: but the tear of affection is often chrystalised by the power of genius, and converted into a permanent literary brilliant. Mr. Godwin, whose abilities are indisputable, endeavours thus to dignify and render illustrious his sorrows for the loss of his wife; we therefore regret the necessity of observing that not only the general reader, but the most judicious and reflecting part of mankind, will arraign the prudence and the utility of these memoirs, though he himself commences them with this sentence of high expectation :- there are not many individuals with whose character the public welfare and improvement are more ultimately connected, than the author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.
After an exordium so splendid, we could not expect to find such a narrative ;-a narrative which we must indeed read with pity and concern, but which we should have advised the author to bury in oblivion. Blushes would suffuse the checks of most husbands, if they were forced to relate those anecdotes of their wives which Mr. Godwin voluntarily proclaims to the world. The extreme excentricity of Mr. Gi's sentiments will account for this conduct. Virtue and vice are weighed by him in a balance of his own. He neither looks to marriage with Rav. Noy. 1798.
respect, nor to suicide with horror. He relates with como placency of Mary Wollstonecraft, afterward his wife, that she cultivated a platonic affection for Mr. Fuseli the painter :-that she cohabited with Mr. Imlay as his wife, took his name, and had a child by him, without being married; and that she even lived with Mr. G. himself, and was pregnant by him; and that it was only her pregnancy which induced them to think of marriage ; fearing that, otherwise, she might be excluded from society. He gravely records, also, (what was mentioned at the time in the Newspapers, and was considered by some persons as calumny,) her attempt to drown herself in the Thames, in consequence of the ill-treatment which she experienced from Mr. Imlay.
How the public welfare and improvement are connected with or can be advanced by the studied and uniform eulogium of such conduct will not be casily perceived ; nor will any reader of discernment, who appreciates the merit of this unfortunate female, even on the evidence of her own husband, be able to say with him that there are no circumstances in her life that, in the judgment of honour and reason, could brand her with disgrace.' Peace to her manes! She was the child of genius, but of suffering: of talents, but of error!
Most of the incidents which composed her short life are neither very singular nor very striking. Where she was born her husband does not know. She commenced the career of fame, like Milton, Sir Richard Blackmore, Dr. Johnson, and others, by keeping a school;--and she then became a writer for a bookseller, and an occasional critic. She attracted notice by entering the lists against Mr. Burke, and particularly by her Vindication of the Rights of Woman ; by the publication of which, in the opinion of her biographer, : she will perhaps be found to have performed more substantial service for the cause of her sex, than all the other writers, male or female, that ever felt themselves animated in the behalf of oppressed and injured beauty.' Though this must be deemed exaggerated praise, it may be forgiven from a husband, who, no doubt, most sincerely mourns her loss; and o’r other female authors must not take it amiss that he should wish to have if believed, that'no female writer ever obtained so great a degree of celebrity throughout Europe.
Mr. and Mrs. Godwin possessed congenial minds, and perhaps no two people better suited each other; though, (as this "memoir relates) at che first time of their meeting, they did ngt reciprocally excite any very prepossessing impressions. At last, however, a strong and mutual affection took place, and ripened into love.
! There - There was (Mr. G. says) no period of throes and resolute ex. planation attendant on the tale. It was friendship melting into love. Previously to our mutual declaration, each felt half-assured, yet each felt a certain trembling anxiety to have assurance complete.'
• Mary rested her head upon the shoulder of her lover, hoping to find a heart with which she might safely treasure her world of affection, fearing to commit a mistake, yet in spite of her melancholy experience, fraught with that generous confidence, which, in a great soul, is never extinguished. I had never loved till now; or, at least, had never nourished a passion to the same growth, or met with an object so consummately worthy.'
To this account of the sincerity and ardor of their mutual passion, it is concisely added—We did not marry;' and then follows this attempt at a justification :
• It is difficult to recommend any thing to indiscriminate adoption, contrary to the established rules and prejudices of mankind; but certainly nothing can be so ridiculous upon the face of it, or so contrary to the general march of sentiment, as to require the overflowing of the soul to wait upon a ceremony, and that which, whereever delicacy and imagination exist, is of all things most sacredly private, to blow a trumpet before it, and to record the moment when it has arrived at its climax.'
Apprehending that this very refined and sentimental logic would not be sufficient to convince the public of the propriety of their conduct in this respect, Mr. G. adds There were other reasons why we did not immediately marry. Mary felt an entire conviction of the propriety of her conduct.'-We question this. Her experience, with Mr. Imlay, of the miserable consequences to which a woman exposes herself by an unmarried connection, must have taught her the imprudence at least of disregarding the law of society respecting marriage. No evil may result from recording the vow of love : but many evils must result from a contempt of marriage. It is one of the first institucions that are essential to social order.
On this subject, however, Mr. G. rather gives his own opi. nions than those of his wife; or he exhibits her's with the colouring of his own system thrown over them. We apprehend that he has done this also in the account which he has given of her religion (p. 33):
· Her religion was, in reality, little allied to any system of forms ; and, as she has often told me, was founded rather in taste, than in the niceties of polemical discussion. Her mind constitutionally att tached itself to the sublime and the amiable. She found an inexpresa sible delight in the beauties of nature, and in the splendid reveries of the imagination. But nature itself, she thought, would be no better than a vast blank, if the mind of the observer did not supply it with an animating soul. When she walked amidst the wonders of aature, sbe was accustomed to converse with her God. To her 42