Imágenes de páginas

my words.

[ocr errors]

quite a novelty; but indeed, according to indignation at such Pyrrhonism; but the Chambers, it was not much before 1756 Frank rejoins :that the knocker supplanted the aboriginal

*"Perhaps I, too, may assert some facts relatrasp and pin in Auld Reekie.

ing to my own country, to which you may not • The bricks of which the houses are built be willing to give credence, but to the truth of are vastly hard: Mr. Crawford had forgot to which I in my turn am ready to take my oath.” bore a hole for a bell (which, in every house, is

"Ohi-oh, well said and well done,” said put so as the handle is at the side of the outer the prince, his words echoed by the poet, and door, that, instead of knocking, you ring), and repeated by the rest of the company. Speak in peireing that hole through the brick, it was on-let us hear-our ears are open.' We have as hard to do as if it had been marble.'--p. 140. given up our souls to you."

*I then said:—“Perhaps every one present We conclude with a paragraphı which, has seen a ship, and though they may not have more than any other in this book, must have by wind; perhaps, too, some may have been

sailed in one, have remarked how it is impelled delighted the members of the Maitland caught in a tempest, or observed its effects on Club of Glasgow:'

the sea. Now, we have ships in my country, . Most of the reproaches our country meets which, in defiance of storms and tempests, will with can only be the effect of want of enquiry make their way in the teeth of the wind, and or reflection. I once thought that Scotland thus perform voyages from one end of the world might carry on a greater trade than it does, from to the other.” its advantageous situation for the sea; but if

'I paused awhile, after having made this asthey should import, who is to take it off their sertion, to hear the remarks of the company. I hands? there is no country behind them to sup

could perceive incredulity in every face: a lite ply, who has not the advantages of the sea

scorn and contempt, perhaps, was associated ports, which is the case of Holland, who has all with that feeling, but it was plain no one beGermany to supply; neither have they a great

lieved demand at home, like England, which is a great

Sahib ekhtiar. You are at liberty, of country, and most part of it inland, that must be course, to affirm what you please," said the supplied from the trading towns on the coast. prince, “but to me it appears that what you Or, to what country can they transport their have advanced is wholly impossible.” merchandise, which they have imported more

What words are these?” said another. than serves themselves, that cannot be as cheap

•You might as well say that I can thrust a served by nearer neighbours? They have no spear through my enemy's body and he not East India goods, which are almost the only bleed, as to say a ship will go ahead against

wind.” goods that are demanded by all the world, so that no country, which has not one or more of

'I heard the word derough, derough—lie! these advantages, can ever become a country of lie! whispered about from mouth to mouth great trade.'-p. 144.

throughout the assembly, and I became con

vinced that I was totally disbelieved. Could this good lady of 1756 have had

* I then tried them on another subject. second-sight enough to catch a glimpse of truth of which I am ready to take my cath. In

«« There is another thing,” said I, “10 the her native Clyde as it is in 1842, what could my country our cities are lighted at night by the have persuaded her that she had her own means of lanterns suspended on iron pillars. A dearly. beloved and judiciously-admonished subterranean vapour is made to circulate Scotland before her vision!

through our streets, which is led to the summit We are tempted to conclude our review of the said pillars, and at a given hour men run of a book which perhaps few will ever hands, which they merely present to a small

about the city carrying a lighted taper in their handle, with an extract from one which is, spiral tube, whence a flame is seen to issue, or ought to be, as well thumbed as any pro; which, keeping alive the night through, illuminduction of the present year— The Mirza' ates the city like day, the inhabitants meanof the wise humourist, and gentle satirist, while sleeping soundly, upapprehensive of evil who more lightly and happily than any consequences. other writer conveys lessons to his own

Where in the name of Allah,” said the countrymen, in the shape of mirthful deli- prince,“ have you found words to affirm such neations of the absurdities of outlandish things ? A subterranean fire running underfaith and practice. Mr. Morier represents afraid !

ground all through your streets, and nobody

Yours must be a world different himself as listening to one of the brilliant from ours, inhabited by men of a different fortales of wonder with which his friend and mation to Persians. I cannot believe what you indeed hero-the professional story-teller say.” in chief was accustomed to cheer the even- People may talk of Persians being liars,” ing hours of the late Shah of Persia. On said one of the company," but as there is but its conclusion he joined the royal circle

in one Allah, and Mahornet is his prophet and Ali extolling the merit of the narrative, but in the future. Wonderful assertions have we heard

his lieutenant, let them go to the Franks for cautiously signified his suspicion of its mar-to-day.” vellous incidents. There was a burst of ““ Now I begin to understand," said a man of

pp. 23-27.

the law who was present, “why Franks are un- | richer, clearer language than they can learn believers of our faith, the ever-blessed and only to speak. true faith of Islam-why they reject our prophet and despise his sayings, while they adhere conceive that the time, among us

li is hard in this state of things not 10

at least, with so much pertinacity to their own. this Sahib—he tells us of things which cannot

is an essentially unpoetic one-one which, be true, and believes in them, whilst events whatever may be the worth of its feelings, which may occur every day, which so many finds no utterance for them in melodious people here present, men of respectability and words. worthy of confidence, have seen and heard of,

Yet our age is not asleep. Great movehe rejects. Is it not plain that the reputation ments, various activities, are heard and seen which Persia has acquired for the sagacity and acuteness of her sons, has been well acquired, of mere mechanics, consider what fifteen

on all sides. In the lowest department, that whilst all the rest of mankind are kept in a state of total blindness? Let the Sahib forgive my years have done. It was only in the words,” said the speaker, turning himself to me, autumn of 1830, following close on the "but in truth our holy prophet legislated with French three memorable days of July, that all wisdom, when he said, "As for the unbe- the Duke of Wellington opened the Manliever, all that is left for him is kall, katl, slay, chester and Liverpool Railroad. The popslay.'

ulation of the busiest region on this earth May your shadow never be less," said I,

were assembled round him, whom all acaddressing the man of the law; “

may your house flourish-we are grateful—we kiss the knowledged as the greatest man in England, dust of yonr slippers !” –The Mirza, vol. ii., at the inauguration of a new physical pow

er, then felt to double the strength and swiftness of human beings. While, among myriads of gravely joyous faces, the new machines travelled at a speed matching that

of eagles, the life of a great statesman shot Art. IV.- Poems by Alfred Tennyson. 2

off on a darker and more distant journey; vols. 12mo. London. 1842.

and the thrill of fear and pain at his des

truction gave the last human tragic touch What poetry might be in our time and to an event which would at any rate have land, if a man of the highest powers and retained for ever an historic importance. most complete cultivation exercised the art The death of Mr. Huskisson startled the among us, will be hard to say until after fixed bosom of the veteran soldier, and the fact of such a man's existence. Wait- those who were near perceived a quiver of ing for this desirable event, we may at the lip, a movement of the eye, such as had least see that poetry, to be for us what it hardly been caused by the most unlookedhas sometimes been among mankind, must for and dreadful chances of his mighty wear a new form, and probably comprise wars. To a calm observer, the emotion of elements hardly found in our recent writ- the whole multitude, great and small, might ings, and impossible in former ones. strangely have recalled far-distant ages and

of verses, indeed, of every sort but the the feelings with which ancient peoples excellent there is no want; almost all, held every great event as incomplete, wanthowever, so helpless in skill, so faint in ing the blood of a victim-too often human meaning, that one might almost fancy the -solemnly shed. In the most prosperous authors wrote metre from mere incapacity and peaceful of national triumphs the dark of expressing themselves at all in prose-powers again claimed a share, and would as boys at school sometimes make nonsense- not be forgotten. verses before they can construct a rational Since then, about twelve

passsentence. Yet it is plain that even our mag- ed, and behold what they have brought azine stanzas, album sonnets, and rhymes in forth. Some seventy millions of money corners of newspapers, aim at the forms of have been expended-more, at the lowest emotion, and use some of the words in which estimate, than four times as much as the men of genius have symbolized profound Papacy was able to raise in a century and thought. The whole, indeed, is gen- a half for the construction of its greatest erally a lump of blunder and imbecility, monument, the costliest the world has ever but in the midst there is often some turn of seen. These seventy millions of pounds cadence, some attempt at an epithet of more have been subscribed by private persons at significance and beauty than perhaps a much their own choice in one small country, and finer mind would have hit on a hundred have created nearly fifteen hundred miles years ago. The crowds of stammering of railroad-structures that surpass all pychildren are yet the offspring of an age that ramids and Cyclopean walls, and machines would fain teach them—if it knew how-al that would puzzle Archimedes, by which

years have

myriads of men are perpetually travelling the member gains the triumph of his party; like the heroes of fairy tales. It is proba- and the success of his party decides on ble that the roads of the Roman empire, every question of war

or peace over the the work of many centuries, did not cost globe, makes commercial "treaties with so much of human labour, and they certain- Abyssinia, creates a white commonwealth ly did not exhibit so much greatness of among the savages of the Pacific Ocean, thought, as those that we have built in less sends armaments to Pekin, and raises or than twenty years.- In the state of society lowers the prices of silk grown among

the that has produced such results there may Druses of Lebanon, and of opium sold on be, we know there is, enough torpor, even the frontiers of Tartary. Within a year rottenness. But it cannot be, on the whole, after the election in an English village, its an insignificant stage of human existence, result is felt in the more or less cost of food one barren for imaginative eyes.

aud clothes in Kaffer huts, and in the value Or look at one of our general elections. of the copper sauce-pan trafficked at TimThe absurdities are plain, no doubt—has buctoo for palm-oil and black babies. This not the ocean froth and bubbles ? But is not a vapid, insubstantial political existtake the thing altogether, and observe the ence for the mass of men, not one devoid mixture and spread of interests and facul- of topics and emotions, however little they ties brought into action-above all, the open may hitherto have been used in any books boldness with which a nation throws itself but those of statistics and trade. into the streets and markets, casting off, in Or glance at the matter in another of its the faith that it can reproduce, its company phases. In the midmost rush of London of rulers, and letting the fools clamour, the business, and all the clatter of its vehicles, poor groan, the rich humble themselves, turn aside through an open door, and what and all men bring all to judgment, without do we see ? A large and lofty room, every a moment's fear but that quiet will spring yard of its floor and galleries crammed with out of the tumult, and a government be born human, chiefly female life-a prodigious from a mob. From the castle of the high- sea of bonnets, and under each of these a est peer to the clay-stained tipplers in the separate sentient sea of notions, and feelalehouse, from the bench of bishops to the ings, and passions, all in some measure ranters in the moor-side smithy, all are stir- stirred by the same tides and gales--every red and fluttered, feverish with the same anx- one of them, however narrow at the surieties, debating in their different dialects the face, in depth unfathomable. same questions, and all alike dependent on Altogether irrespectively of our present the omnipotence of an event which no man purpose, and on the most general grounds, can absolutely control. Most of what they it may be safely said that in one of these say is folly—most of their objects of hope great Exeter Hall meetings there is more and fear chimeras : but how full of throb- to strike us than almost anywhere else we bing business is the whole land, how braced know. The room is said to hold 4000 perare all the wishes and devices of all ! sons, and from its form they are all clearly Among so much of make-believe and sound, visible at once-all of the middle or upper it is a great thing that the whole country classes, well dressed, though often many of must at least be willingly deceived if it is to them in Quaker uniform, and at these be gained over-must seem to itself ration-times probably three-fourths of them woally persuaded ; and that the most futile men. Such assemblages are in truth, for a pretender can only cheat by aping, and so large part of the members, by far the most strengthening in others, the qualities in exciting outward events of life. The faces which he is most deficient. At the blast themselves are alone quite enough to prove of the newsmen's tin trumpets all shadows no small share of moral culture in the mass. must walk out of their darkness into sun- The delicately-curved mouths and nostrils, shine, and there be tried; when if many of the open yet quiet and observant eyes, and the umbratile fraudulently pass muster, a look of serious yet pleasurable elevation, there is at least a public rocognition of the mark very clearly a chosen class of our laws of light.

country. The men are of course less pure Not merely is there a debate and seem- and single in their stamp of feeling-busiing adjudication in every country-town on ness has marked on them its contractedness all matters over the whole globe which any with its strength. Yet these also have an tailor or brazier may choose to argue, but appearance of thought, although with some at last the tailor's and the brazier's voice coxcombical importance and complacent does really influence the course of human theological primness. Take, however, the affairs. The vote of a cobbler in an alley whole assemblage, all it is and all it repreturns the poll for a candidate; the vote of sents, we know not where anything like it

could be discovered. No Roman Catholic, , larger than that of some continental kingno despotic, no poor, no barbarous, no doms, raised by these marvellous addresses thoroughly demoralized, we fear we must to our best feelings? Who can compare, add no very instructed and well-organized without some admiration mixed in his concommunity could ever exbibit such a ga- tempt, the coarse and brainless weakness thering-voluntary be it remembered, of the talk on these occasions with the chiefly female, all with money to spare, honest virtue, the moral elegance of heart, united for such remote and often fantastic in those whom it influences ? Or who that objects : above all, under such leaders. lives in England can be unaware that very For in the kind of persons guiding these many among the auditors of these brazen bodies, and in their discourse, consists more mouth-pieces show in the whole course of than half the wonder. In the House of their private lives, and in hard stern trials Commons, in the Courts of Law, we may of all kinds, a simple self-forgetting noblehear nonsense enough. But in these pla- ness and truth, beautifully contrasted with ces it is not the most vehement, the most the ostentatious emptiness of the charitable chimerical-in other words, the most out- melodrama ? rageous and silly, who bear the chiefest On the whole, the country in which these sway, but much the contrary. Now in such varieties of good and evil are found mixed Strand-Meetings, for the purest and noblest on such a scale can hardly be considered purposes, it is plain enough that a loud in a state of lifeless ineriness. Its want tongue, combined with a certain unctuous cannot be of themes and interest, but rather silkiness of profession, and the most dismal of those able to seize what lies before obscuration of brain, may venture with them, and turn it to right imaginative-use. success upon the maddest assertions, the For every one indeed knows that all our most desperate appeals : and will draw activities, mechanical, political, missionary, sighs and even tears of sympathy, by the celestial, or diabolical, are the immediate coarsest nonsense,

from hundreds of the outgrowths of the human beings engaged amiable and thoughtful persons dieted at in such matters, and might be found with home on Cowper, Fenelon, Wordsworth, much more inside and beneath them in the and tuned to Nature's softest melodies. hearts and lives of the individuals. This is The carrier's horse (or was it ass ?) that all the poet requires ; a busy, vigorous, could draw inferences, is but a brute symbol various existence is the matter sine quâ non of the spoken stuff that at religious meet- of his work. All else comes from within, ings can draw admiration from the finest and from himself alone. Now, strangely female bosoms. Such is the charm of twi- as our time is racked and torn, haunted by light meanings and monstrous images used ghosts, and errant in search of lost realiin behalf of some remote and generous ob- ties, poor in genuine culture, incoherent ject, and strengthened by the oneness of among its own chief elements, untrained to feeling in a multitude of accordant hearts. social facility and epicurean quiet, yet unaVery strange it is to witness the single thrill ble to unite its means in pursuit of any losty of some two thousand bonnets, to hear the blessing, half-sick, half-dreaming, and whole deep long sigh from as many warm and confused-he would be not only misangentle breasts, all inspired by the raving thropic, but ignorant, who should maintain folly of some declaimer, or by the gravely it to be a poor, dull, and altogether helpnumerical statements of moral facts as to less age, and not rather one full of great distant countries proceeding from ill-inform- though conflicting energies, seething with ed and well-paid agents, and which those high feelings, and struggling towards the who know their falsity are sure enough not light with piercing though still hooded to seek the odium of refuting. The sure eyes. The fierce, too often mad force, that tact of goodness leads the greater part of wars itself

away among the labouring poor, the hearers right in home-concerns, but has the manifold skill and talent and unwearied no measure of probability for new experi- patience of the middle classes, and the still ments in remote lands. The faith which unshaken solidity of domestic life among lives in the Infinite and Eternal, and is them—these are facts open to all, though perpetually baffled in its search among pre- by none perhaps sufficiently estimated. sent things, adds joyfully its charms, the And over and among all society the wealth transcendent element of all romance, to the of our richer people is gathered and diffaintest glimpse between distant clouds, and fused as it has never been before anywhere feels it a duty and delight to believe in the else, shaping itself into a thousand arts of realised visions of credulous fancy. luxury, a million modes of social pleasure,

Yet who can think without a certain ap- wbich the moralist may have much to obproval of the immense annual revenues, ject against, but which the poet, had we a truly great one now rising among us, wearing its blazon of the starry cross, but would well know how to employ for his going forth on real adventures for the conown purposes.

quest of our actual earth in east and west; Then, too, if we reflect that the empire thought blending, though almost unmarked, and the nation seated here as in its centre, with all the romance of passion—and fancy, and at home so moving and multifarious, no longer gathering flowers and strewing spreads its dominions all round the globe, them in childish sport, but weaving them daily sending forth its children to mix in into garlands for victorious conscience, and the life of every race of man, seek adven- using them for the character of knowledge: tures in every climate, and fit themselves all this is undeniably there, though uninto every form of polity, or it to them— tended, and only because the great mind whereafter they return in body, or at least of that and all time necessarily comprised reflect their mental influences among us, and reproduced whatever was essential in it cannot be in point of diversity and mean- his age. Ranks were still apart, customs ing that Britain disappoints any one capa unquestioned, forms holy, and natural truth ble of handling what it supplies.

and wisdom only the uncanonical but inevi. See how Chaucer exhibits to us all that table comment by which men undesignedly lay around him, the roughness and igno- interpreted the page of prescription. And rance, the honour, faith, fancy, joyousness he who has best shown us all this as it truly of a strong mind and a strong age, both was, yet sent forth at every breath a fiery tranquil within bounds which, as large element, of which he was himself scarce enough for their uses, neither had tried to conscious, that should some day kindle and pass. How strikingly for us are those burn much still dearer and venerable to grating contrasts of social condition harmo- him.nised by the home-bred feeling that men as A gulf of generations lies between us they then were had the liberty and space and him, and the world is all changed they then needed : the king and priest the around his tomb. But whom have we had all-sufficient guides of men's higher life, to feel and express like this man the secret and all powers and even wishes finding of our modern England, and to roll all out ample room, each within the range marked before him the immense reality of things as out by custom! Every figure is struck off his own small embroidered carpet, on which by as clear and cutting a stroke as that of he merely cared to sit down at his ease and a practised mower with his scythe-and of smoke his pipe ? all these peculiarities of character, so blend- There have been but two writers among ed in that world are strength and uncon- us whom every Englishman with a tincture sciousness, not one ever rises into individu- of letters has read or heard of, aiming to ality of principle. In clearness, freedom, shape poetically an image of human life. fulness, what delineation of our actual life These are of course Sir Walter Scott and can be at all compared with this? Of this Lord Byron. But see how different their poet how truly may it be said,

aim has been from such a one as we hint

at. The elder poet, with his wholesome • O'er Chaucer's blithe old world, for ever new, sense and clear felicity, has indeed given In noon's broad sunbeams shines the morning us much of human fact, and this, as it could

dew; And while tired ages float in shade away,

not be otherwise, in the colours of the time Unwearied glows with joy that clear to-day.' that he himself belonged to. But he has

swayed the sympathies of the world in a In Shakspeare again, who never meant great measure through their curiosity after anything of the kind, that period, with its the past, which he, more than all men in far deeper wants and more abundant forces, the annals of mankind, has taught us all to all lies softly, firmly drawn by every ran- regard as alive and still throbbing in spirit, dom jotting of his pen. For that, with all though its bones be turned to dust. his unmatched reflectiveness, much was Byron has sought, through distance of thus lightly done, seems no less certain at place and foreign costume, the interest the hundredth perusal than obvious at the which Scott obtaived from the strangeness first. The stately courtesies and conse- of past ages; and it is but a small though crated forms of the past, all still untroubled, a profound and irrepressible part of our but a new spirit rising within those antique far-spread modern mind that he has so well walls, and as yet professing peaceful rever- embodied in his scornful Harolds and deence, though it must one day shake them spairing Giaours. down; the heaven-storming imagination We have indeed one of his works, the still toiling and sporting on the ground; only one, which is a splendid attempt at a the aimless bravery of knighthood still creative survey of modern life, and contains

« AnteriorContinuar »