Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

bear reflection, provided they advance his dignity as an great cause ? Much. She can hold up superstition to ridiintellectual, and his worth as a moral being. We should cule, tyranny to disgust, slavery to shame; she can blast like, then, in every city, to see galleries of art, either imposture; she can expose fraud. She can do more than thrown wide open to the public, or the admission to which this; she can dip her pencil in the beauties of holiness ; is guarded by only a small fee. We should like to see she can make the good and the great appear as it were the fine arts no longer monopolized by the rich and the God walking to and fro upon the earth. She can do powerful. We should like to see, on holidays, such gal- much to recommend virtue, to support religion, as well leries crowded by the labouring classes; husbands treat- as to ridicule superstition and to brand vice. Ay, and ing their wives and families to a sight of the masterpieces there is a day coming when, on the pencil of the painter, of Italian and British art; fathers holding up their chubby as well as on the bells of the horses, shall be inscribed children, to get a nearer view of some of the humours - holiness to the Lord ;' when this fine talent shall be of Hogarth or the graceful figures of Raffaelle; and to consecrated entirely to him that gave it. hear artisans in the street discussing the comparative merits of Teniers and Wilkie, of Reynolds and Raeburn. Surely, surely, this were a better expenditure of money

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. and of time, on the part of the working classes, than plunging, during the holidays, into the deepest recesses

THOMAS CAMPBELL. of town debauchery, or carrying their vice forth to pollute the sweet solitudes of the country! The pre- Of the life of Thomas Campbell, nothing, save the merest sence of the silent and holy splendours of art, easily ac- outlines, have appeared since he died, which, of course, cessible to all, creating a taste for their own appreciation, have not been sufficient to satisfy the very natural hreathing down a portion of their own ethereal spirit upon anxiety that exists to know more of the author of The their beholders, would contribute mightily, along with other causes, to purify the morals, to refine the tastes, to Pleasures of Hope'—the latest dead of that illustrious elerate and humanize the manners. Painting, again, has galaxy of poets who flourished during the first quarter in it a power of the keenest moral satire. It can hold up of the present century, only two or three of whom, alas ! a mirror to nature. It can show scorn its own features- now survive. Great as was Campbell's popularity during vice its own image. It can not only act as a mirror, but, his life, it cannot be doubted, that, as in the case of all on occasion, as a burning glass, at once showing and scorch

master minds, it will increase after his death. His fame ing up meanness, cruelty, and vice. In proof of this, we again mention the name of Hogarth. His works, by has not reached all its fulness ; it will grow with the lapse many supposed to be mere caricatures, are, in fact, great of years. Time, which obscures the glory of meaner men, moral masterpieces. In his Idle and Industrious Appren- will but add new lustre to his. Wherever the English tice he traces the contrasted paths of two youths, the one language is spoken, and as long as English poetry is read, of whom, by industry and perseverance, reaches the high- his works will be cherished. The purity of style, the est honours of his profession, while the other, following the courses of shame, comes at last, in the expressive delicacy of taste, the freshness and sublimity of thought, language of Bunyan, to a wide field, full of dark moun- the concentration of idea, with the vigour and manly elotains, where he stumbled and fell, and rose no more.' quence by which they are characterised, leave an impresIn his Marriage-a-la-Mode, again, he lashes the frivolous, sion on the mind of an elevating and enduring nature. fashionable, heartless, loveless, and joyless marriages, His lyrical pieces are confessedly not surpassed by those which abounded in the upper circles of that age. In his Rake's and Harlot's Progress, he follows, with terrible of any other poet, to whatever age or country he may befidelity, the dark windings of those twin paths leading long. down to the chambers of death. All his prints, indeed, The father of Thomas Campbell was a respectable are steeped in a deep moral sentiment, seem designed, merchant in Glasgow, of an old Highland family, and an many of them, as illustrations of the Proverbs of Solomon; intelligent and accomplished man. and if we would see vice in all its low, contemptible, hate the tenth and youngest child of his parents, was born in

The poet, who was ful, and horrible aspects, contemplate it in the stern yet laughable hieroglyphics of Hogarth. But though we have that city on the 27th July, 1777, when his father had no Hogarth now-a-days, we have Cruickshanks, whose reached his 67th year. The latter was an intimate friend illustrations of Dickens' works are quite as good as these of the celebrated Dr Thomas Reid, professor of moral admirable tales, and, like them, are surcharged with a philosophy in the university of Glasgow, and the infant cheerful and humane morality. And we scruple not to poet was baptized by the venerable doctor, who preached name, among our subordinate moral powers, such political in the college-hall on the Sabbath, and who nanied him caricaturists as H.B. and the getters up of the far-famed after himself. To those who are curious in the matter Punch.

of locality, it may be stated that Campbell was born in Painting, within certain limits, may be of service in the High Street, about a stone-cast from the University, fanning the flame of devotion. We have often felt its of which he was afterwards thrice elected Lord Rector. power in this respect, but never more than when once or The house in which he first saw the lignt stood on the twice visiting the little chapel in the ancient Castle of opposite side of the college, close to what is now the east Glammis. Filled with a dim religious light,' surrounded end of George Street, and has long since been taken down, with paintings by a female hand of some past century, to make way for improvements in that part of the city. executed with much taste and elegance, lying in the very At the age of seven, young Campbell was sent to the groin of a vast old edifice, and begirt by the everlasting grammar-school of his native city, where he was taught music of the great trees which cast their shadows on the Latin by a Mr David Alison, then a highly popular and castle, it has a most imposing effect upon the imagina- successful teacher of the classics in Glasgow. He showed tion. The air becomes religion, and we bend in solemn considerable aptitude as a scholar : and when he was worship to the great of old. Painting has hitherto only twelve years old, he commenced his studies at Glasgow indicated her capacities for scriptural illustration and de- college. In his thirteenth year, he succeeded, after a forvotional excitement. She has hitherto devoted too much midable competition with a student nearly twice his own of her power and skill to vice or to folly; been too often age, in gaining the bursary on Archbishop Leighton's employed feeding man's vanity by portrait-painting, or foundation. He continued seven years at the university; his malignity by caricature. But there is a higher and receiving at the close of each session numbers of prizes, holier destiny before her. She has her work to do in the reward of his industry and zeal. The exercises which that struggle which shall yet take place between the gained him these distinctions were often of a very diffipowers of light and darkness. What can she do in this cult nature, and such as tested his powers severely; but

[ocr errors]

man states.

his correct taste and sound judgment, combined with his of the vortex, which is like the sound of innumerable diligence and application, enabled him to accomplish the chariots, creates a magnificent and fine effect.' He aftertasks prescribed to him, in a manner highly creditable to wards removed to Edinburgh, where he engaged in prihimself and most satisfactory to his teachers. In transla- vate teaching, living in Alison Square, in the Old Town; tions from the Greek especially, he excelled; so much so, and having completed 'The Pleasures of Hope,' he pube indeed, that his fellow-students were afraid to enter the lished it, at the age of twenty-two, in April, 1799. The lists with him. His poetical versions of several Greek poem was dedicated to Dr Robert Anderson, the bioplays of Aristophanes, Eschylus, and others, obtained the grapher of the poets, who had shown bim much attenhighest commendations of his professor, who, in awarding tion and kindness. The success of that work was brilthe prize for a translation of The Clouds' of Aristo- liant and immediate; it placed the young author at once phanes, thus eulogised, in terms the most flattering, the in the foremost rank of the poets of the time; and, at production of the youthful poet, that, in his opinion, it the very outset of his literary career, gave him ample was the best performance which had ever been given in confidence and encouragement to proceed. His poem, within the walls of the university'. Portions of these remarkable for its harmony of versification and genuine translations have been published in his works.

fervour of style, and for the generous sentiments and feelAt this period of his life, Campbell is described as beings of patriotism that perrade it, gained for him the ing a fair and beautiful boy, with pleasant and winning notice and friendship of Dugald Stewart, Professor Playmanners, and a mild and cheerful disposition. That he fair, Henry Mackenzie, and other eminent men of that had himself, at this early age, an innate perception of time, while he also made the acquaintance of Brougham, his own growing powers, is proved by his commencing to Jeffrey, Sidney Smith, and James Grahame, author of write poetry at the age of thirteen, and by his great de- . The Sabbath.' sire, even while still but a year or two at college, to see The profits derived from the sale of · The Pleasures himself in print. Having got one of his juvenile poems of Hope, which ran through four editions within a year, printed, to defray the expense of this, to him then, bold enabled him to carry into execution a wish he had for adventure, it is related that he had recourse to the sin, some time cherished, namely, to make the tour of Gergular expedient, whether of his own accord or suggested many. Early in 1800 he accordingly proceeded from to him by some of his class-fellows is not known, of sell- Leith to Hamburg, and remained for about a year on ing copies to the students at a penny each. This anec- the Continent, visiting in the time several of the Gerdote has been told by one who reniembers having seen

War was at that period raging in Bavaria, the beautiful boy standing at the college-gate with the and thither he hastened, with a strong desire animating slips in his hand. Campbell himself, in after years, used his breast of, as he expressed himself, seeing human to be angry when he was reminded of this incident; but nature exhibited in its most dreadful attitude. From surely it reflects anything but discredit upon him! the walls of the Monastery of St Jacob, he witnessed the

The Greek chair, during his attendance at the univer- memorable battle of Hohenlinden, fought on the 3d of sity, was filled by Professor Young, who was a complete December, 1800, between the French, under General enthusiast in Grecian literature. From him Campbell Moreau, and the Austrians, when the latter were signally caught the same enthusiasm, which, nourished and defeated. The sight of Ingoldstadt in ruins,' he said, strengthened as it was by his success at college, endured in a letter which he wrote descriptive of the scene, and during his whole life. Often, in his latter years, has the Hohenlinden corered with fire, seven miles in circumwriter of this sketch, while sitting in his company, been ference, were spectacles never to be forgotten.' His electrified by the beauty and power with which he recited spirit-stirring lyric of Hohenlinden was written upon favourite passages from the Greek poets, with whose writ- this event. He afterwards proceeded in the track of ings his mind was richly stored, and which he appre- Moreau's army over the scene of combat, and then conciated and praised with the characteristic warmth of one tinued his route. He used to relate the following inciwho was himself a master in their divine art.

dent, as illustrative of the phlegm and attention to his After completing his classical and philosophical course, own interest of his German postilion, which happened at Campbell attended the lectures of Professor Millar on this time. The latter, while driving him near a place civil law. Admitted into the inner circle of Millar's where a skirmish of cavalry had occurred, suddenly home society, he acquired from him, in a great measure, stopped, alighted, and disappeared, without uttering a that liberality of mind and ardent love of liberty which word, leaving the carriage, with Campbell in it, alone in mark his writings, and which distinguished his conversa- the cold, for the ground was covered with snow; and he tion and character.

was absent for a considerable time. On his return, the On leaving college, he went to reside for about a year poet discovered that the provident German had been on the romantic banks of Loch Goil, among the moun- engaged cutting off the long tails of the slain horses, tains of Argyllshire. His paternal grandfather possessed which he deliberately placed on the vehicle beside the estate of Kernan, in the Highlands; and it was in him, and silently pursued his journey. When Ratisbon reference to it that the beautiful and pathetic stanzas was occupied by the French, Mr Campbell happened to beginning “At the silence of twilight's contemplative be in the town at the time, but he was treated with hour,' were composed. He was for some time tutor in kindness by the victors. The enthusiasm and genius a private family residing on the sea-coast of the Island of the young traveller seem to have made a very faof Mull; and while in that situation, he planned and vourable impression on the French officers, who evinced wrote a considerable part of his most celebrated poem, their respect for him by entertaining him at their • The Pleasures of Hope. His youthful musings were different mess-tables, and furnishing him with a pass nourished amid the magnificent scenery around him, and that carried him in safety through the French army. by the contemplation of the wild aspects of nature that Afterwards, however, he was not so fortunate, as he was presented themselves on cvery side, his ideas were ex- plundered of nearly all his money, books, and papers, while panded, and his imagination was filled with many endeavouring to cross into Italy, by the route of the bright and majestic images, which he afterwards in- Tyrol, which prevented him from proceeding farther in troduced with such admirable effect into his poetry. that direction. While he continued in Germany, he de*Lochiel's Warning' and 'Lord Ullin's Daughter," for in- voted himself to acquiring the German language, and also stance, could only have been written by one who cherish- resumed his Greek studies, under Professor Heyne. He ed an intense love and admiration for Highland scenery made the friendship of the two Schlegels, and of other and Highland associations. He himself has mentioned eminent men of that country, and passed an entire day with the delight with which he used to listen, at the distance the venerable Klopstock, who died two years afterwards. of many leagues, to the far-heard roar of Corryvreckan. On his return to Hamburg, on his way home, he casually • When the weather is calm,' he says, and the adjacent became acquainted with some refugee Irishmen, who had soa scarcely heard on these picturesque shores, the sound been engaged in the rebellion of 1798, and their story

suggested to him his beautiful ballad of · The Exile of better off? I have fifty pounds, and six months' work at Erin,' which he wrote at Altona. The hero of the poem the Encyclopædia !' The Encyclopædia here mentioned was an Irish exile, named Anthony M‘Cann, whom he was Brewster's Edinburgh Encyclopædia, to which he conhad met at Hamburg. After remaining in that city for tributed several papers, especially biographies, an account a few weeks, he embarked for Leith, but the vessel he of the drama, and an extended historical notice of Great was on board of, being, while on its passage, chased by a Britain, all of which were marked with the taste and eleDanish privateer, was compelled to put in at Yarmouth. gance of style which invariably distinguished his writings. Finding himself so near London, he at once decided upon Soon after his settlement at Sydenham, he published, paying it a visit. He entered the metropolis for the first anonymously, a compiled work, in three volumes 8vo, entime, without being provided with a single introduction ; titled Annals of Great Britain, from the Accession of but his reputation had preceded him, and he soon found George III. to the Peace of Amiens,' intended, probably, admission into literary society. In one of his letters, pub- as a continuation of Hume and Smollett's Histories lished by Washington Irving, he describes his impressions This was the first of his commissions from a London of a sort of literary social club, to which he had been in- publisher. He now devoted himself to writing and comtroduced by Sir James Mackintosh, in the following piling for the booksellers, and furnishing occasional terms: Mackintosh, the Vindiciæ Gallicæ, was particu- articles to the daily press and other periodical publicalarly attentive to me, and took me with him to his convi- tions. His conversational powers, as we have already vial parties at the ‘King of Clubs'-a place dedicated to the stated, were very great, and these, with his other qualimeelings of the reigning wits of London-and, in fact, a ties, acquired for him an extensive circle of friends. In lineal descendant of the Johnson, Burke, and Goldsmith the social parties and convivial meetings of Sydenham society, constituted for literary conversations. The and its neighbourhood, his company was at all times dining-table of these knights of literature was an arena of eagerly courted, and among the kindred spirits with Fery keen conversational rivalship, maintained, to be sure, whom he was in the habit of associating there, were with perfect good nature, but in which the gladiators con- the brothers James and Horace Smith, Theodore Hook, tended as hardly as ever the French and Austrians, in the and others who afterwards distinguished themselves in scenes I had just witnessed. Much, however, as the wit literature. Through the influence of Charles James Fox, and erudition of these men pleases an auditor at the first he obtained in 1806, shortly before that statesman's or second visit, this trial of minds becomes at last fa- death, a pension from Government of £300 per annum. tiguing, because it is unnatural and unsatisfactory. Every Campbell was at this period, and for many years afterone of these brilliants goes there to shine ; for conversa- wards, a working author, the better portion of his days tional powers are so much the rage in London, that no being spent in literary drudgery and task-work. His reputation is higher than his who exhibits them. Where gains from the booksellers were not always, however, in every one tries to instruct, there is, in fact, but little in- proportion to the merit of the matter supplied to them, struction ; wit, paradox, eccentricity, even absurdity, if and an anecdote is recorded which strongly illustrates his delivered rapidly and facetiously, takes priority, in these feelings in regard to them. Having been invited to a societies, of sound reasoning and delicate taste. I have booksellers' dinner, soon after Pam, one of the trade, had watched sometimes the devious tide of conversation, been executed by command of Napoleon, he was asked guided by accidental associations, turning from topic to for a toast, and with much earnestness as well as gravity topic, and satisfactory upon none. What has one learned ? of manner, he proposed to drink the health of Bonaparte. has been my general question. The mind, it is true, is The company were amazed at such a toast, and asked for electrified and quickened, and the spirits finely exhilarat- an explanation of it. Gentlemen,' said Campbell, with ed; but one grand fault' pervades the whole institution; sly humour, "I give you Bonaparte in his character of their inquiries are desultory, and all improvements to be executioner of the booksellers. Mr Campbell was well reaped must be accidental. Campbell's own conversa- aware of the value of time, and the necessity of availing tional powers were of the highest order, and he showed one's self of every opportunity of acquiring useful inforsingular discrimination in the choice of subjects of an inter- mation. Although charged with having written little, esting and instructive nature. Mere talk for display on and even accused of being indolent, he never slackened in the part of others must, therefore, have been exceedingly his exertions or gave himself up to idleness. Even bydisagreeable to him.

times, he thought, should not be thrown away. Dr After a short sojourn in London, the poet returned to Johnson once remarked that it was useful to carry a book Edinburgh, where, strange to say, he was subjected to a in one's pocket, that those occasional unemployed lapses private examination by the authorities as a suspected spy, of time which occur in every man's life, such as waiting from bis having been known to have been in the society, under shelter till the rain ceases, travelling, or being unwhile on the Continent, of some of the Irish refugees. He expectedly detained any where, should be profitably occueasily satisfied the civic guardians of his unshaken loyalty, pied. Campbell was of opinion that even the time spent and continued to reside for about a year in Edinburgh, in shaving might be employed in study; and he once made during which time he wrote his ‘Lochiel's Warning,' and a calculation of how soon a man might learn a language others of his well known ballads and minor poems. It is during the short space spent each morning in that most related, as an instance of the wonderful powers of memory delicate and necessary operation. of the late Sir Walter Scott, that on ‘Lochiel's Warning' In the beginning of 1809 he published his second being read to him in manuscript, he requested to be al- volume of poems, containing Gertrude of Wyoming,'a lowed to peruse it for himself, and then astonished the simple Indian tale, in the Spenserian stanza, the scene author by repeating it from memory from beginning to of which is laid among the woods of Pennsylvania ; Glenend. Campbell now determined upon removing to Lon- ara, the Battle of the Baltic, Lochiel, and Lord'Ullin's don, as the best field for literary exertion. Accordingly, Daughter. A subsequent edition contained also the touchearly in 1803, he repaired to the metropolis, and, on his ing ballad of O'Connor's Child. This volume added arrival, he resided for some time in the house of his greatly to his popularity, and the high reputation which brother poet Mr Telford, the celebrated engineer. In he had now acquired must have been very gratifying to the autumn of the same year he married his cousin, Miss his feelings. Indeed, even in the meridian of his living Matilda Sinclair, of Greenock, a lady of considerable per- renown, the native simplicity and goodness of his heart sonal beauty, and fixed his residence in the beautiful vil- rendered him peculiarly pleased with any attention of a lage of Sydenham, in Kent, about seven miles from Lon- complimentary nature which was shown to him. Of this don. At the time of Campbell's marriage, it appears many instances might be given, but the following, related that hope and reliance on his own exertions, formed by by himself, may be quoted here :-In writing to a friend far the largest portion of his worldly fortune, for on his in 1840, respecting the launch of a man-of-war at Chatfriend Telford remonstrating with him on the inexpe- ham, at which he was present, he mentioned that none of diency of marrying so early, he replied, “When shall I be the compliments paid to him on that occasion affected him so deeply as the circumstance of the band of two they should be handling a quadrant. It infatuates every regiments striking up “The Campbells are coming,' as one, said they, who is so unhappy as to be touched with he entered the dockyard. The writer of this well recol-it. He is often more attentive to every change of countelects with what humour he told the following anecdote:- nance in a celebrated beauty than to the phases of the Soon after the publication of his "Gertrude,' he was in- moon; and is more anxious to be acquainted with all her vited to a friend's house in the country to pass a day or manoeuvres than with the motions of the whole planetary two, and was received with every attention and kindness. system. One in particular affirmed, upon his knowledge, His friend had a daughter, a lively little girl of about six that he had been acquainted with students in anatomy, or seven years of age, who had been previously warned by who looked with niorc curiosity into the countenance of a her mother to show great respect to their guest, for he young beauty than upon the dissection of a bullock's eye. ! was no less a personage than the illustrious author of the Some, who pretended to see much farther than the vulgar, Pleasures of Hope. The child at first stood in consider- considered every thing relating to love as capricious and able awe of the poet, not exactly comprehending what visionary. Since we are all formed of the same materisort of visiter he could be; but won by the frankness and als, it seemed to them very unreasonable that a little difplayfulness of his manner, she soon became quite familiar ference in form and colour should raise such violent comwith him. She had not, however, forgotten the phrase motions. Beauty, they said, was but a superficial corerof her mother, and archly repeated it on all occasions, ing, and every thing at the bottom was alike. Upon this although she could not pronounce the word illustrious. principle, they looked upon it as the height of philosophy When at any time Campbell entered the room where she to view with indifference what has always given mankind was, she would cry out 'Oh! here comes the issustious author the greatest pleasure. This humour they carried so far of the Pleasures of Hope ;' and when he went out she that they lamented they could not strip nature herself of would bawl after him, “There goes the issustious author her delusions, as they termed them, by taking off those of the Pleasures of Hope.' Night and day, morning, agreeable colourings of light and shade which lie upon obnoon, and eve, as long as he remained there, she repeated jects around us, and give them all their richness and beauty. the phrase like a cuckoo-note, and its constant iteration, They would have been glad to have turned the creation which the parents endeavoured in vain to repress, caused into a colourless and dreary waste, that they might have nim considerable amusement. Campbell was particularly wandered up and down, and taken a closer survey of it. fond of children, especially if they were girls. The story The next class of petitioners I observed, were the men of his advertising for a little girl, with whose archness, of business. They set out with remarking that they did and liveliness, and childish beauty, he was one day smit- not join in the complaints that were made against love ten while taking his usual walk in St James' Park, is upon their own account; for though they had been weak well known.

enough, in the younger part of their lives, to fall under Having brought down the sketch of his life to the its influence, it was many years since they had felt the period of the publication of Gertrude of Wyoming,' in slightest impression of it. They had in view the welfare 1809, we shall continue it in our succeeding number. of their children, and, this being neither more nor less

than their affluence, they were led to consider lore chiefl;

in the light of an expensive passion. Its little tenderTHE VALUE OF AFFECTION.

nesses and endearments appeared to them inexpressibly

ridiculous, and they wondered how any body could be A REVERIE: BY ROBERT HALL.

foolish enough to spend hours in tattling to women, After reading some passages in the fourth book of Vir- without thinking to gain a farthing by it. They gare a gil, in which he paints the distress of Dido, upon her long list of young men, who had been frugal and industribeing deserted by Æneas, I could not help revolving in ous, till they were enticed by love to prefer pleasure to my mind, with a good deal of uneasiness, the miseries of profit. They declared that when we take an account of love. My reflections threw me into a Reverie, which balls and treats, and trinkets of various kinds, with the presented to my mind an imaginary train of circum- loss of time inseparably attendant upon them, it was at stances, which I shall now relate, hoping they may tend the peril of a fortune to attempt the heart of a beloved to cherish that virtuous sensibility which is the ornament object. I was a good deal amused with the manner in of our nature. My fancy naturally carried me into the which they treated of love; they considered it as they times of heathenish superstition, which I hope will be my would any other commodity, setting a price upon every apology for mentioning gods and goddesses. I imagined part of it. They reckon a sigh at a shilling, and, if it that the power of love had occasioned general discontent, chance to be observed by the person for whom it is inand that the different orders of men had entered into an tended, it is well even if half-a-guinea clear the expense agreement to petition Jupiter for her removal.

of it. A side glance was rated at half as much as a full 'I thought that at the head of these complainers stood view; they portioned out all the parts of a beautiful perthe men of learning and science; they lamented with son, and made a valuation of each of them. The same vehemence the inroads of love, and that it often betrayed scale was applied to their very attitudes : for the sight of them from the paths of knowledge, into perplexity and a beautiful woman dancing was accounted a matter of intrigue. They alleged that it extinguished, in the bosom enormous expense; and, if she chanced to smile with any of the young, all thirst after laudable improvement, and degree of complacency upon any one, it was well if he planted in its stead frivolous and tormenting desires. was not ruined; under these impressions, they considered That the pursuit of truth called for a tranquil and serene love as the certain forerunner of poverty. state of mind; whilst love was constantly attended with There was one complaint raised against this passion, tumult and alarm. Whatever turn she takes, said they, which I thought had something in it more plausible than she will ever be an enemy to labour; her smiles are too any I have yet mentioned; it turned upon the ease with gay, and her disappointments too melancholy, for any which it makes its approaches upon us, and the impossiserious application. They were grieved to see that so bility of guarding against its first advances. We have trifling a passion should occupy so much time and atten- been able, said they, by art to manage the elements, so tion, and that man, who was formed to contemplate the as in general to prevent any dangerous overflowings of heavens and the earth, should spend half his life in gain- them. We brave the storm in ships, and dive into the ing the good graces of the weaker and more inconsider- sea in bells; but the ingenuity of man has hit upon no able part of his species. I thought I perceived that this contrivance to save us from the influence of love. Could turn for love and gallantry gave particular offence to the we call it in to amuse a leisure hour, or to relieve the whole tribe of astronomers and profound philosophers. languor of a few tedious moments, and then dismiss it They saw, with indignation, that many of our youth were again, it might be esteemed a blessing in a life so barren more anxious to explain a look than to solve a problem, of enjoyment. But it is an influence that is shed all and that they would often be playing with a fan when around us, and pours itself upon us in every corner.

It often lies hid betwixt the keys of a harpsichord, and is I could not help feeling an inward delight in seeing my shaken out with a few touches of the fingers. It flounces fellow-creatures made at once so happy. At the same in an apron, and is trailed along with a flowing robe. No time I was anxious to know what would follow upon this circumspection can preserve us from it; for it will often new revolution, and particularly whether it would answer steal upon us when we are least upon our guard. It hides the bigh expectations that were formed from it. Upon itself in a lock, and waves in ringlets of the hair. It will my looking around, I was a witness to appearances which enter by an eye, an ear, a hand, or a foot. A glance and filled me with melancholy and regret. A total change a gaze are sometimes equally fatal.

had taken place in the whole train of human affairs, and I was next presented with a scene which I thought as I observed to my sorrow the change was every where for interesting and solemn as can enter into the imagination the worse. It was melancholy now to enter into comof man. This was no other than a view of the whole pany; for, instead of conversation enlivened by vivacity train of disappointed lovers. At the sight of them, my and wit, there was nothing heard but a drowsy humming, heart insensibly melted into the most tender compassion to the last degree tiresome and insipid. In the social There was an extreme dejection, mingled with a piercing intercourse of men the heart had no place; pleasure, and wildness in their looks, that was very affecting. Cheer- the desire of pleasing, were equally unknown. fuluess and serenity, I could easily perceive, they had Those whom I had an opportunity of observing, I long been strangers to. Their countenances were over- thought very much resembled the loungers and coxcombs spread with a gloom which appeared to be of long stand- of our day, who, without any view of receiving pleasure, ing, and to be collected there from dark and dismal mingle in a crowd, and engage in conversation, not to imaginations. There was, at the same time, all that enjoy time, but to kill it. I now sought in vain for those kind of animation in their features which betokens friendly meetings at which I had often been present, troubled thoughts. Their air and manner was altogether where every one, desirous of adding something to the singular, and such as marks a spirit at once eager and pleasure of the whole, drew forth the fairest ideas of his irresolute. Their step was irregular, and they ever and mind, and, by the display of tender sentiments, melted anon started and looked around them, as though they the heart, and soothed the imagination. With what rewere alarmed by some secret terror. I was somewhat gret did I recollect those conversation parties in which surprised, in looking through the whole assembly, not to my heart was wont to be full, and to pour itself forth as see any one that wept. When they were arrived at the we talked ourselves alternately into sadness and into joy! place where they had determined to present their united I had an opportunity of correcting a mistake, into which petitions, I was particularly attentive to observe every I had fallen, in imagining that love reached only to courtthing that passed. Though I listened, I could not learn ship and marriage; I saw that it insensibly mingles with any thing distinctly. After an interval of profound si- our most trifling actions, refining our thoughts, and polence, a murmur only of broken sighs and piercing excla- lishing our manners, when we are least aware of it. The mations was heard through the assembly. I should have men had now entirely thrown aside that tenderness and mentioned that some of them fell off before they had got gallantry which are the great ornaments of human nato the place of rendezvous. They halted for some time, ture, and are so peculiarly needful to temper, and soften and continued in a melancholy suspense, whether they the rudeness of masculine strength. Men and women should turn back or go forward. They knew not which were now placed quite upon a level, so that the harmoto prefer, the tranquillity of indifference or the tender nious softness of the female voice was drowned in turbudistresses of love; at length they inclined to the latter, lence and noise. The ear was filled, but the heart was not having resolution even to wish for the extinction of a left empty. Politeness was exchanged for a tame civility, passion which mingled itself with the very elements of wit for merriment, and serenity for dulness. I began to their existence. Why,' said they, should we banish think more highly than ever of the fair sex, and regarded from our minds the image of all that is pleasing and de- them in a new light, as a beautiful mirror lying in the lightful, and which, if we could once forget, there would fancy of a lover, for him to dress his thoughts by. People be nothing left in the world worth remembering ? The were every where falling a prey to dejection, and comagitation and anxiety felt upon this occasion, could I lay it plaining of the faintness of human enjoyments, as might fully open to the reader, would form a much more inte- well be expected, when the influence of love was withresting picture than the deliberations of Cæsar, whether drawn from them, which, by inspiring romantic hopes he should pass the Rubicon.

and romantic fears, keeps the mind always in motion, I imagined there were several other distinct bodies of and makes it run clear and bright. You may be sure men, who complained to the heavenly powers of the ty- nothing could make a more ridiculous appearance than ranny of love, but, the particulars having in a great mea- courtship, at a time when women retained their vanity, sure faded from my memory, the reader must excuse my after they had lost their charms. Such is the force of passing them over in silence. I must not, however, for- habit, that you might often see a pretty creature twirling get to observe, that the number and unanimity of those her fan, and playing off her little enchanting airs before who presented their petitions on the occasion were such, her lover, who perhaps sat all that time perfectly insenthat they might fairly be considered as representing the sible, fingering his buttons or picking his teeth. Vanity, sentiments of far the greater part of mankind.

I perceived, was a kind of instinct in women, that made Perhaps Providence never chastises the folly of men them employ the whole artillery of their charms, when more justly than by granting the indulgence of their they knew they could do no execution. Indeed, their requests. Upon this occasion, I observed, their wishes airs appeared so ridiculous now, in the eyes of the men, were accomplished, and they were relieved from a tyranny that they had often much ado to refrain from laughter. of which they had so heavily complained. Upon an ap- The coquettes particularly, in their flutterings to and fro, pointed day, the goddess of love took her flight to the made as odd a figure as fish which should be frozen around higher regions, from which she had descended; her in- in the very act of swimming. Out of respect to the fluence was at once withdrawn, and all her enchantments ladies, however, I would compare them to the Grecian were broken up. I thought nothing could equal the joy chiefs, who, according to the representation of the poets, that was expressed upon this occasion. The air rung carried with them so lively an impression of their former with acclamations, and every man was in haste to con- employments, that they would be marshalling their troops, gratulate his neighbour on his deliverance from a thral- and brandishing their swords, even in the shades below. dom which had sunk the spirit and degraded the dignity However, the fair sex were soon released from this sort of the human race. They seemed all to be lightened of of ridicule. They no longer took any pains to smooth 3 load, and to break forth with fresh vivacity and spirit. their brow, to soften their features into a smile, or to Every one imagined he was entering upon quite a new light up the beam of brightness in their eye. Careless of career, and that the world was laid fresh open before offending, where they knew they could not please, they

became negligent in their persons, and vulgar in their

him.

« AnteriorContinuar »