Imágenes de página
[ocr errors]


titled Letters from England, by Don Manuel Alvarez individual. A young Chinese seems to me an ante. Espriella, three volunies. The foreign disguise was diluvian man renewed. Even Englishmen, though too thinly and lightly worn to insure concealment, not bred in any knowledge of such institutions, cani but it imparted freedom and piquancy to the author's not but shudder at the mystic sublimity of castes that observations. On the subject of the church, on have flowed apart, and refused to mix, through such political economy, and on manufactures, Mr Southey immemorial tracts of time; nor can any man fail to seems to have thought then in much the same spirit be awed by the names of the Ganges or the Euphrates. displayed in his late works. His fancy, however, It contributes much to these feelings, that Southern was more sportive, and his Spanish character, as Asia is, and has been for thousands of years, the part well as the nature of the work, led to frequent and of the earth most swarming with human life; the copious description, in which he excelled.

great officina gentium. Man is a weed in those regions. In 1829 Mr Southey published Colloquies on the The vast empires, also, into which the enormous popu. Progress and Prospects of Society, two volumes, in lation of Asia has always been cast, give a further which the author, or • Montesinos,' holds conversa sublimity to the feelings associated with all Oriental tions with the ghost of Sir Thomas More! The names or images. In China, orer and above what it decay of national piety, the evil effects of extended has in common with the rest of Southern Asia, I am commerce, and the alleged progress of national in- terrified by the modes of life, by the manners, and security and disorganization, are the chief topics in the barrier of utter abhorrence and want of sympathy these colloquies, which, though occasionally relieved placed between us by feelings deeper than I can by passages of beautiful composition, are diffuse and analyse. I could sooner live with lunatics or brute tedious, and greatly overstrained in sentiment. The animals. All this, and much more than I can say, other prose works of Mr Southey (exclusive of a or have time to say, the reader must enter into before vast number of essays in the Quarterly Review, he can comprehend the unimaginable horror which and omitting his historical and biographical works these dreams of Oriental imagery and mythological already noticed) consist of his early Letters from tortures impressed upon me. Under the connecting Spain; A Short Residence in Portugal; Omniana, a

feeling of tropical heat and vertical sunlights 1 collection of critical remarks and curious quota- brought together all creatures, birds, beasts, reptiles

, tions ; and The Doctor, five volumes, a work partly to be found in all tropical regions,

and assembled

all trees and plants, usages and appearances, that are fictitious, but abounding in admirable description them together in China or Indostan. From

kindred and quaint fanciful delineation of character.

feelings I soon brought Egypt and all her gods under the same law. I was stared at, hooted at, grinned at,

chattered at, by monkeys, by paroquets, by cockatoos. The Confessions of an English Opium Eater, a

I ran into pagodas; and was fixed for centuries at small volume published in 1822 (originally con- the summit, or in secret rooms; I was the idol; ! tained in the London Magazine), is a singular and was the priest ; I was worshipped ; I was sacrificed. striking work, detailing the personal experience of I fled from the wrath of Brahma through all the forests an individual who had, like Coleridge, become a

of Asia ; Vishnu hated me; Seeva laid wait for me. slave to the use of opium. To such an extent had I came suddenly upon Isis and Osiris ; I had done the author carried this habit, that he was accus

a deed, they said, which the ibis and the crocodile tomed to take three hundred and twenty grains

trembled at. I was buried for a thousand years, in a-day. He finally emancipated himself, but not

stone coffins, with mummies and sphinxes, in parton without a severe struggle and the deepest suffer- chambers at the heart of eternal pyramids. ing. The Confessions' are written by THOMAS DE

As a final specimen, I cite one of a different chaQUINCEY, a gentleman of extensive acquirements, racter, from 1820. literary and scholastic, son of an English merchant,

The dream commenced with a music which nor i and educated at Eton and Oxford. He has contri- often hear in dreams—a music of preparation and of buted largely to the periodical literature of the day, awakening suspense; a music like the opening of the and is author of the admirable memoirs of Shak? | Coronation Anthem, and which, like that, gave the speare and Pope in the Encyclopædia Britannica. feeling of a vast march-of infinite cavalcades filing The following extracts would do credit to the off--and the tread of innumerable armies. The highest names in our original imaginative litera- morning was come of a mighty day—a day of crisis

and of final hope for human nature, then suffering

some mysterious eclipse, and labouring in some dread [Dreams of the Opium Eater.]

extremity. Somewhere, I knew not where--somehow,

I knew not how—by some beings, I knew not whomMay, 1818.

a battle, a strife, an agony was conducting-mas I have been every night of late transported into evolving like a great drama or piece of music; with Asiatic scenes. I know not whether others share in which my sympathy was the more insupportable from my feelings on this point, but I have often thought my confusion as to its place, its cause, its nature, and that if I were compelled to forego England, and to its possible issue. I, as is usual in dreams (where, of live in China, and among Chinese manners and modes necessity, we make ourselves central to every moreof life and scenery, I should go mad. The causes of ment), had the power, and yet had not the power to my horror lie deep, and some of them must be com- decide it. I had the power, if I could raise mysell

, mon to others. Southern Asia in general is the seat to will it ; and yet again had not the power, for the of awful images and associations. As the cradle of weight of twenty Atlantes was upon me, or the opthe human race, it would have a dim and reverential pression of inexpiable guilt. Deeper than ever plumfeeling connected with it. But there are other reasons. met sounded,' I lay inactive. Then, like a chorus, No man can pretend that the wild, barbarous, and the passion deepened. Some greater interest was at capricious superstitions of Africa, or of savage tribes stake; some mightier cause than ever yet the sword elsewhere, affect in the way that he is affected by the had pleaded or trumpet had proclaimed. Then came ancient, monumental, cruel, and elaborate religions sudden alarms, hurrying to and fro ; trepidations of of Indostan, &c. The mere antiquity of Asiatic innumerable fugitives, i knew not whether from the things, of their institutions, history, modes of faith, good causc or the bad; darkness and lights ; tempest &c. is so impressire, that to me the vast age of the and

human faces ; and at last, with the sense that all race and nanie overpowers the sense of youth in the ) was lost, female forms, and the features that wens

ture :



worth all the world to me, and but a moment allowed ship; a giving vent to his heart's ease and over-con—and clasped hands, and heart-breaking partings, tentment with himself and others. He would not be and then--everlasting farewells! and with a sigh, in character if he were not so fat as he is; for there is such as the caves of hell sighed when the incestuous the greatest keeping in the boundless luxury of his mother uttered the abhorred name of death, the sound inayination, and the pampered self-indulgence of his was reverberated-everlasting farewells ! and again, physical appetites. He manures and nourishes his and yet again reverberated-everlasting farewells ! mind with jests, as he does his body with sack and

And I awoke in struggles, and cried aloud — I will sugar. He carves out his jokes as he would a capon sleep no more!

or a haunch of venison, where there is cut and come again; and pours out upon them the oil of gladness.

His tongue drops fatness, and in the chambers of his One of the most remarkable of the miscellaneous perpetual holiday and open house, and we live with

brain it snows of meat and drink.' He keeps up writers of this period was WILLIAM Hazlitt, whose him in a round of invitations to a rump and dozen. bold and vigorous tone of thinking, and acute criti. Yet we are not to suppose that he was a mere sencism on poetry, the drama, and fine arts, found many sualist. All this is as much in imagination as in admirers, especially among young minds. He was reality. His sensuality does not engross and stupify a man of decided genius, but prone to paradox, and his other faculties, but ascends me into the brain, swayed by prejudice. He was well read in the old clears away all the dull crude vapours that environ English authors, and had in general a just and deli- it, and makes it full of nimble, fiery, and delectable cate perception of their beauties. His style was shapes.' His imagination keeps up the ball after his strongly tinged by the peculiarities of his taste and

senses have done with it. He seems to have even a reading; it was often sparkling, pungent, and pic- greater enjoyment of the freedom from restraint, of turesque in expression. Hazlitt was a native of good cheer, of his ease, of his vanity, in the ideal exShropshire, the son of a Unitarian minister. He aggerated description which he gives of them, than in began life as a painter, but failed in attaining excel- fact. lle never fails to enrich his discourse with allence in the profession, though he retained through lusions to eating and drinking; but we never see him life the most vivid and intense appreciation of its at table. He carries his own larder about with him, charms. His principal support was derived from and he is himself 'a tun of man.' His pulling out the literary and political journals, to which he con- the bottle in the field of battle is a joke to show his tributed essays, reviews, and criticisms. He wrote contempt for glory accompanied with danger, his sysa metaphysical treatise on the Principles of Human tematic adherence to his Epicurean philosophy in the Action ; Characters of Shakspeare's Pluys; A Vier most trying circumstances. Again, such is his deliof the English Sluge; two volumes of Tuble Tulk; berate exaggeration of his own vices, that it does not The Spirit of the Age (containing criticisms on emi- seem quite certain whether the account of his hostess's nent public characters); Lectures on the English bill, found in his pocket, with such an out-of-the-way Poets, delivered at the Surrey Institution ; Lectures charge for capons and sack, with only one halfpennyon the Literature of the Elizabethan Age ; and various worth of bread, was not put there by himself as a trick sketches of the galleries of art in England. He was to humour the jest upon his favourite propensities, and author also of Notes of a Journey through France and as a conscious caricature of himself. He is represented Italy, originally contributed to one of the daily jour as a liar, a braggart, a coward, a glutton &c. and yet we nals; an Essay on the Fine Arts for the Encyclopædia are not offended, but delighted with him; for he is all Britannica; and some articles on the English no- these as much to amuse others as to gratify himself. velists and other standard authors, first published in He openly assumes all these characters to show the the Edinburgh Review. His most elaborate work humorous part of them. The unrestrained indulgence was a Life of Napoleon, in four volumes, which of his own ease, appetites, and convenience, has neither evinces all the peculiarities of his mind and opinions, malice nor hypocrisy in it. In a word, he is an actor but is very ably and powerfully written. Shortly in himself almost as much as upon the stage, and we before his death (which took place in London on the no more object to the character of Falstaff in a moral 18th of September 1830) he had committed to the point of view, than we should think of bringing an press the Conversations of James Northcote, Esq. excellent comedian, who should represent him to the containing remarks on arts and artists. The toils, life, before one of the police offices. uncertainties, and disappointments of a literary life, and the contests of bitter political warfare, soured

[The Character of Hamlet.) and warped the mind of Hazlitt, and distorted his opinions of men and things; but those who trace the It is the one of Shakspeare's plays that we think of passionate flights of his imagination, his aspirations the oftenest, because it abounds most in striking reafter ideal excellence and beauty, the brilliancy of flections on human life, and because the distresses of his language while dwelling on some old poem, or Hamlet are transferred, the turn of his mind, to picture, or dream of early days, and the undisguised the general account of humanity. Whatever happens freedom with which he pours out his whole soul to to him, we apply to ourselves, because he applies it to the reader, will readily assign to him both strength himself as a means of general reasoning. He is a great and versatility of genius. He had felt more than he moraliser ; and what makes him worth attending to had reflected or studied; and though proud of his is, that he moralises on his own feelings and experiacquirements as a metaphysician, he certainly could He is not a commonplace pedant. If Lear is paint emotions better than he could unfold prin- distinguished by the greatest depth of passion, Hamlet ciples. The only son of Mr Hazlitt has, with pious is the most remarkable for the ingenuity, originality, diligence and with talent, collected and edited his and unstudied development of character. Shakspeare father's works in a series of handsome portable had more magnanimity than any other poet, and he volumes.

has shown more of it in this play than in any other.

There is no attempt to force an interest: everything [The Character of Falstaff.]

is left for time and circumstances to unfold. The

attention is excited without effort ; the incidents sucFalstatl's wit is an emanation of a fine constitution; ceed each other as matters of course; the characters an exuberation of good-humour and good-nature; an think, and speak, and act just as they might do if left rrerflowing of his love of laughter and good-fellow- l entirely to themselves. There is no set purpose, no


straining at a point. The observations are suggested cause of his alienation, which he durst hardly trust by the passing scene—the gusts of passion conie and himself to think of. It would have taken him years go like sounds of music borne on the wind. The whole to have come to a direct explanation on the point. In play is an exact transcript of what might be supposed the harassed state of his mind, he could not have done to have taken place at the court of Denmark at the much otherwise than he did. His conduct does not remote period of time fixed upon, before the modern contradict what he says when he sees her funeral :refinements in morals and manners were heard of. It

*I loved Ophelia ; forty thousand brothers would have been interesting enough to have been ad

Could not, with all their quantity of love, mitted as a bystander in such a scene, at such a time, Make up my sum.' to have heard and witnessed something of what was going on. But here we are more than spectators. We

THOMAS CARLYLE. have not only the outward pageants and the signs of grief,' but we have that within which passes show.'

The German studies and metaphysics of Coleridge We read the thoughts of the heart, we catch the pas- seem to have inspired one powerful writer of the sions living as they rise. Other dramatic writers give day, Thomas CARLYLE, author of various works and us very fine versions and paraphrases of nature; but translations-a Life of Schiller ; Sartor Resartus, Shakspeare, together with his own comments, gives us 1836; The French Revolution, a History, in three the original text, that we may judge for ourselves. volumes, 1837; Chartism, 1839; Critical and MiscellaThis is a very great advantage.

neous Essays, collected and republished from reviews The character of Hamlet stands quite by itself. It and magazines, in five vols., 1839; a series of lectures is not a character marked by strength of will or even on Hero Worship, 1841; and The Past and Present, of passion, but by refinement of thought and senti- 1843. Familiar with German literature, and admir. ment. Hamlet is as little of the hero as a man can ing its authors, Mr Carlyle has had great influence in well be; but he is a young and princely novice, full rendering the works of Goëthe, Richter, &c. known in of high enthusiasm and quick sensibility--the sport this country. He has added to our stock of original of circumstances, questioning with fortune, and refin- ideas, and helped to foster a more liberal and peneing on his own feelings, and forced from the natural trative style of criticism amongst us. His philosobias of his disposition by the strangeness of his situa- phical theory has been condemned for its resemblance tion. He seems incapable of deliberate action, and to the Pantheistic system, or idol-worship, Goëthe is only hurried into extremities on the spur of the oc- being the special object of his veneration. It is too casion, when he has no time to reflect—as in the scene fanciful and unreal to be of general practical utility, where he kills Polonius; and, again, where he alters or to serve as a refuge from the actual cares and the letters which Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are storms of life. It is an intellectual theory, and to taking with them to England, purporting his death. intellectual men may be valuable--for the opinions At other times, when he is most bound to act, he re- and writings of Carlyle tend to enlarge our sympamains puzzled, undecided, and sceptical ; dallies with thies and feelings—to stir the heart with benevolence his purposes till the occasion is lost, and finds out and affection—to unite man to man—and to build some pretence to relapse into indolence and thought- upon this love of our fellow-beings a system of mental fulness again. For this reason he refuses to kill the energy and purity far removed from the operations king when he is at his prayers; and, by a refinement of sense, and pregnant with high hopes and aspira. in malice, which is in truth only an excuse for his own tions. He is an original and subtle thinker, and want of resolution, defers his revenge to a more fatal combines with his powers of analysis and reasoning opportunity.

a vivid and brilliant imagination. His work on the

French Revolution is a series of paintings-grand, The moral perfection of this character has been terrific, and ghastly. The peculiar style and diction called in question, we think, by those who did not un- of Mr Carlyle have with some retarded, and with derstand it. It is more interesting than according to others advanced his popularity. It is more German rules ; amiable, though not faultless. The ethical than English, full of conceits and personifications, delineations of that noble and liberal casuist' (as of high and low things, familiar and recondite, inixed Shakspeare has been well called) do not exhibit the up together without any regard to order or natural drab-coloured quakerism of morality. His plays are

connexion. He has no chaste simplicity, no · linked not copied either from The Whole Duty of Man, or sweetness,' or polished uniformity; all is angular, from The Academy of Compliments! We confess objective, and unidiomatic; at times, however, highly we are a little shocked at the want of refinement in graphic, and swelling out into periods of fine imagery those who are shocked at the want of refinement in and eloquence. Even common thoughts, dressed up Hamlet. The neglect of punctilious exactness in his in Mr Carlyle's peculiar costume of words, possess behaviour either partakes of the license of the time,' an air of originality. The style is, on the whole, a or else belongs to the very excess of intellectual re- vicious and affected one (though it may now have finement in the character, which makes the common

become natural to its possessor), but is made strikrules of life, as well as his own purposes, sit loose upon ing by the force and genius of which it is the reprehim. He may be said to be amenable only to the

sentative. tribunal of his own thoughts, and is too much taken up with the airy world of contemplation, to lay as

[The Succession of Races of Men.] much stress as he ought on the practical consequences of things. His habitual principles of action are un- Generation after generation takes to itself the form hinged and out of joint with the time. His conduct of a body, and forth issuing from Cimmerian night on to Ophelia is quite natural in his circumstances. It heaven's missions appears. What force and fire is in is that of assumed severity only. It is the effect of each he expends; one grinding in the mill of indusdisappointed hope, of bitter regrets, of affection sus- try; one, hunter-like, climbing the giddy Alpine pended, not obliterated, by the distractions of the heights of science; one madly dashed in pieces on scene around him! Amidst the natural and preter- the rocks of strife, in war with his fellow; and then natural horrors of his situation, he might be excused the heaven-sent is recalled; his earthly vesture falls in delicacy from carrying on a regular courtship. away, and soon even to sense becomes a ranished When his father's spirit was in arms, it was not a shadow. Thus, like some wild-flaming, wild-thundertime for the son to make love in. He could neithering train of heaven's artillery, does this mysterious marry Ophelia, nor wound her mind by explaining the mankind thunder and flame, in long-drawn, quick.



succeeding grandeur, through the unknown deep. say, on the roof of the guard-room, some on bayonets Thus, like a God-created, fire-breathing spirit-host, stuck into joints of the wall,' Louis Tournay smites, we emerge from the inane; haste stormfully across brave Aubin Bonnemère (also an old soldier) secondthe astonished earth, then plunge again into the ing him: the chain yields, breaks; the buge drawinane. Earth's mountains are levelled and her seas bridge slams down, thundering (avec fracas). Glofilled up in our passage. Can the earth, which is but rious; and yet, alas! it is still but the outworks. dead and a vision, resist spirits which have reality The eight grim towers with their Invalides' musketry, and are alive! On the hardest adamant some foot their paving-stones and cannon-mouths still soar aloft print of us is stamped in ; the last rear of the host intact; ditch yawning impassable, stone-faced ; the will read traces of the earliest ran. But whence? inner drawbridge with its back towards us : the BasOh heaven! whither? Sense knows not; faith knows tille is still to take! not; only that it is through mystery to mystery, from God and to God.

Mr Carlyle is a native of the village of Eccle

fechan, in Dumfriesshire, the child of parents whose [Attack upon the Bastille.]

personal character seems to have been considerably

more exalted than their circumstances. He was [From the work on the French Revolution.] reared for the Scottish church, but stopped short at All morning, since nine, there has been a cry laborious business of teaching, devoted himself to a

the threshold, and, after some years spent in the everywhere, “To the Bastille!' Repeated deputations of citizens' have been here, passionate for arms;

literary life. whom De Launay has got dismissed by soft speeches through port-holes. Towarıls noon Elector Thuriot de la Rosière gains adinittance ; finds De Launay indisposed for surrender; nay, disposed for blowing up the place rather. Thuriot mounts with him to lection and republication of their contributions to

These three eminent men have lately, by the colthe battlements: heaps of paving-stones, old iron, the Edinburgh Review, taken their place avowedly and missiles lie piled: cannon all duly levelled; in among the miscellaneous writers of the present cenevery embrasure a cannon-only drawn back a little! But outwards, behold, O Thuriot, how the multitude tury. Mr Smith had, about thirty years previous, flows on, welling through every street ; tocsin furiously issued a highly amusing and powerful political tract, pealing, all drums beating the générale : the suburb Brother Abraham, who lives in the Country, by Peter

entitled Letters on the Subject of the Catholics, lo my Sainte-Antoine rolling hitherward wholly as one man! Plymley. These letters, after going through twentySuch vision (spectral, yet real) thou, O Thuriot ! as from thy Mount of Vision, beholdest in this moment:

one editions, are now included in the author's works. prophetic of other phantasmagories, and loud-gibber- lished in 1839), some speeches on the Catholic Claims

He has also included a tract on the Ballot (first pubing spectral realities which thou yet beholdest not, and Reform Bill, Letters on certain proposed Reforms but shalt. 'Que voulez-vous ?' said De Launay, turning pale at the sight, with an air of reproach, in the Church of England, and a few Sermons. almost of menace. Monsieur,' said Thuriot, rising Sidney Smith is one of the wittiest and ablest men into the moral sublime, “what mean you? Consider of his age. His powers have always been exercised if I could not precipitate both of us from this height'

on practical subjects, to correct what he deemned --say only a hundred feet, exclusive of the walled

crrors or abuses, to enforce religious toleration, exditch! Whereupon De Launay fell silent.

pose cant and hypocrisy, and to inculcate timely Wo to thee, De Launay, in such an hour, if thou reformation. No politician was ever more fearless canst not, taking some one firm decision, 'rule cir: or effective. He has the wit and energy of Swift, cumstances ! Soft speeches will not serve; hard without his coarseness or cynicism, and a peculiar grape-shot is questionable ; but hovering between the breadth of humour and drollery of illustration, that two is un-questionable. Ever wilder swells the tide are potent auxiliaries to his clear and logical arguof men; their infinite hum waxing ever louder into ment. Thus, in ridiculing the idea prevalent among imprecations, perhaps into crackle of stray musketry, many timid though excellent persons at the time of which latter, on walls nine feet thick, cannot do the publication of Plymley's Letters, that a conexecution. The outer drawbridge has been lowered spiracy had been formed against the Protestant refor Thuriot; new deputation of citizens (it is the ligion, headed by the pope, Mr Smith places the third and noisiest of all) penetrates that way into subject in a light highly ludicrous and amusing :the outer court: soft speeches producing no clearance

•The pope has not landed — nor are there any of these, De Launay gives fire; pulls up his draw- curates sent out after him—nor has he been hid at bridge. A slight sputter; which has kindled the too St Albans by the Dowager Lady Spencer-nor dined combustible chaos; made it a roaring fire-chaos! privately at Holland House-nor been seen near Bursts forth insurrection, at sight of its own blood Dropmore. If these fears exist (which I do not be(for there were deaths by that sputter of fire), into lieve), they exist only in the mind of the chancellor endless rolling explosion of musketry, distraction, of the exchequer (the late Mr Spencer Perceval]; execration ; and overhead, from the fortress, let one they emanate from his zeal for the Protestant ingreat gun, with its grape-shot, go booming, to show terest; and though they reflect the highest honour what we could do. The Bastille is besieged!

upon the delicate irritability of his faith, must cerOn, then, all Frenchmen that have hearts in their tainly be considered as more ambiguous proofs of the bodies! Roar with all your throats of cartilage and sanity and vigour of his understanding. By this metal, ye sons of liberty ; stir spasmodically what time, however, the best-informed clergy in the neighsoever of utmost faculty is in you, soul, body, or bourhood of the metropolis are convinced that the spirit; for it is the hour! Smite, thou Louis Tour- rumour is without foundation : and though the pope nay, cartwright of the Marais, old soldier of the is probably hovering about our coast in a fishingRegiment Dauphiné; smite at that outer drawbridge smack, it is most likely he will fall a prey to the chain, though the fiery hail whistles round thee! vigilance of the cruisers : and it is certain he has Never, over nave or felloe did thy axe strike such a not yet polluted the Protestantism of our soil. Exstroke. Down with it, man; down with it to Orcus : actly in the same manner the story of the wooden let the whole accursed edifice sink thither, and gods seized at Charing Cross, by an order from the tyranny be swallowed up for ever! Mounted, sonic ! Foreign Office, turns out to be without the shadow


of a foundation : instead of the angels and arch- his humour, at the same time that they drive home angels mentioned by the informer, nothing was dis- his argument with irresistible effect. Sidney Smith, covered but a wooden image of Lord Mulgrave going like Swift, seems never to have taken up his pen down to Chatham as a head-piece for the Spanker from the mere love of composition, but to enforce gun-vessel: it was an exact resemblance of his lord- practical views and opinions on which he felt strongly. ship in his military uniform; and therefore as little His wit and banter are equally direct and cogent. like a god as can well be imagined.'

Though a professed joker and convivial wit-a The effects of the threatened French invasion are diner out of the first lustre,' as he bas himself chapainted in similar colours. Mr Smith is arguing racterised Mr Canning - there is not one of his that, notwithstanding the fears entertained in Eng- humorous or witty sallies that does not seem to flox land on this subject, the British rulers neglected the naturally, and without effort, as if struck out or obvious means of self-defence :

remembered at the nioment it is used. Mr Smith • As for the spirit of the peasantry in making a gives the following account of his connexion with gallant defence behind hedgerows, and through the Edinburgh Review :plate-racks and hencoops, highly as I think of their • When first I went into the church I had a bravery, I do not know any nation in Europe so curacy in the middle of Salisbury Plain. The squire uikely to be struck with panic as the English ; and of the parish took a fancy to me, and requested me this from their total unacquaintance with sciences to go with his son to reside at the university of of war. Old wheat and beans blazing for twenty Weimar; before we could get there, Germany bemiles round; cart mares shot ; sows of Lord Somer- came the seat of war, and in stress of politics we ville's breed running wild over the country; the put in to Edinburgh, where I remained five years. minister of the parish wounded sorely in his hinder The principles of the French Revolution were then parts ; Mrs Plymley in fits; all these scenes of war fully afloat, and it is impossible to conceive a more an Austrian or a Russian has seen three or four violent and agitated state of society. Among the times over ; but it is now three centuries since an first persons with whom I became acquainted were English pig has fallen in a fair battle upon English Lord Jeffrey, Lord Murray (late Lord Advocate for ground, or a farm-house been rifled, or a clergyman's Scotland), and Lord Brougham; all of them mainwife been subjected to any other proposals of love taining opinions upon political subjects a little too than the connubial endearments of her sleek and liberal for the dynasty of Dundas, then exercising orthodox mate. The old edition of Plutarch's Lives, supreme power over the northern division of the which lies in the corner of your parlour window, has island. One day we happened to meet in the eighth contributed to work you up to the most romantic or ninth storey or flat in Buccleuch Place, the ele. expectations of our Roman behaviour. You are per- vated residence of the then Mr Jeffrey. I proposed suaded that Lord Amherst will defend Kew Bridge that we should set up a Review; this was acceded like Cocles; that some maid of honour will break to with acclamation. I was appointed editor, and away from her captivity and swim over the Thames; remained long enough in Edinburgh to edit the first that the Duke of York will burn his capitulating number of the Edinburgh Review. The motto I hand; and little Mr Sturges Bourne give forty years' | proposed for the Review waspurchase for Moulsham Hall while the French are

• Tenui musam meditamur avena'encamped upon it. I hope we shall witness all this, if the French do come; but in the meantime I am

We cultivate literature upon a little oatmeal. so enchanted with the ordinary English behaviour But this was too near the truth to be admitted, and of these invaluable persons, that I earnestly pray no so we took our present grave motto from Publius opportunity may be given them for Roman valour, Syrus, of whom none of us had, I am sure, ever read and for those very un-Roman pensions which they a single line; and so began what has sin e turned would all, of course, take especial care to claim in out to be a very important and able journal. When consequence.'

I left Edinburgh it fell into the stronger hands of One of the happiest and most forcible of Mr Smith's Lord Jeffrey and Lord Brougham, and rear hed the humorous comparisons is that in which he says, of highest point of popularity and success.' a late English minister, on whom he had bestowed Mr Smith is now, we believe, abore seventy years frequent and elaborate censure— I do not attack of age, but his vigorous understanding, his wit and him from the love of glory, but from the love of utility, humour, are still undiminished. as a burgomaster hunts a rat in a Dutch dyke, for The chief merit and labour attaching to the confear it should flood a province.' Another occurs in tinuance and the success of the Edinburgh Review a speech delivered at Taunton in 1831 : I do not fell on its accomplished editor, FRANCIS JEFFREY, mean,' he says, 'to be disrespectful, but the attempt now one of the judges of the Court of Session in of the lords to stop the progress of reform reminds Scotland. From 1803 to 1829 Mr Jeffrey had the me very forcibly of the great storm of Sidmouth, and sole management of the Review; and when we conof the conduct of the excellent Mrs Partington on sider the distinguished ability which it has unithat occasion. In the winter of 1824 there set in a formly displayed, and the high moral character it great flood upon that town—the tide rose to an in- has upheld, together with the independence and credible height-the waves rushed in upon the houses fearlessness with which from the first it has pro—and everything was threatened with destruction. mulgated its canons of criticism on literature, In the midst of this sublime storm, Dame Parting- science, and government, we must admit that few ton, who lived upon the beach, was seen at the door men have exercised such influence as Francis Jeffrey of her house with mop and pattens, trundling her on the whole current of contemporary literature mop, and squeezing out the sea-water, and vigorously and public opinion. Besides his general superinpushing away the Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic tendence, Mr Jeffrey was a large contributor to was roused. Mrs Partington's spirit was up; but I the Review. The departments of poetry and eleneed not tell you that the contest was unequal

. The gant literature seem to have been his chosen field; Atlantic Ocean beat Mrs Partington. She was ex- and he constantly endeavoured, as he says, 'to comcellent at a slop or a puddle, but she should not have bine ethical precepts with literary criticism, and meddled with a tempest.' Illustrations of this kind earnestly sought to impress his readers with a are highly characteristic of their author. They dis- sense both of the close connexion between sound inplay the fertility of his fancy and the richness of tellectual attainments and the higher elements of

« AnteriorContinuar »