« AnteriorContinuar »
I am able. The convent stands on the brow of a hill, looking towards the sea, the whole of the way from it to the town of Seyda being on a descent, for a distance of about five or six miles. It consists of a number of separate rooms in a quadrangular building that surrounds an inner court, made into a flower garden, into which the doors of all these rooms open. The rooms are neither spacious nor elegant, but most of them being furnished after the English manner, with carpets, tables, chairs, &c. offered an agreeable contrast to the rooms generally seen in the East, the whole furniture of which consists of a low range of cushions and pillows surrounding the skirting, and, as it were, fringing the junction between the wall and the floor. Nothing in the house appeared unnecessary or expensive; but all that could conduce to comfort, and that was procurable in the country, was seen in clean and unostentatious simplicity. The proper number of out-offices, kitchens, stables, &c. were attached to the edifice, and there were spare rooms and beds enough to accommodate any small party of travellers that might have occasion to remain here for a short period in the course of their journey.
The domestic establishment of her Ladyship consisted, at this period, of an English physician, Dr. Meryon, who lived in a separ ate house at a distance of less than a mile; an English attendant, Miss Williams; and an English housekeeper, Mrs. Fry; a Levantine secretary, of French descent, from Aleppo; and a small number of male and female servants of the country, for the ordinary purposes of labour. The fondness for beautiful horses, which this lady passionately entertained, was judiciously, but not ostenta. tiously enjoyed by the possession of a small stud of Arabs, of the purest and most celebrated races; and on these she occasionally took such exercise only as her health required.
The mode of life passed by Lady Hester Stanhope at this convent had nothing peculiar in it, except, perhaps, that it was more rational than the mode observed by the more fashionable, of her own sex in particular, at home. She rose generally about eight; walked in the flower-garden, or read, until ten; breakfasted on tea and coffee in the English manner, so much so, indeed, that there was no distinction between her breakfast-table and one in England, except that finer and fresher fruits were often produced there than it is usual to see in London. An extensive correspondence, which her Ladyship appeared to maintain with persons of distinction in all parts of Europe, and even in India, generally occupied her pen, or that of her secretary, who wrote from dictation, for several hours in the middle of the day. This correspondence was, however, not confined to mere interchange of sentiments with distant friends, agreeable as such an occupation undoubtedly is, but had often some object of great utility in the country itself to promote; and frequently led, as I had myself occasion to know, in more instances than one, to the most happy results. The maintenance of this correspondence, carried on in four or five different languages, including the reading as well as writing of several letters in each day, was quite enough to occupy
the largest portion of the writer's time; but with all this, a want of leisure was never pleaded in excuse for attending to any applications for relief that were perpetually made, from whatever quarter they might have come. A walk, or a ride on horseback, was generally indulged in before dinner, which was always served soon after sunset, and was a happy medium between frugality and abundance, such as a prince might partake, and yet such as the nost temperate could not complain of. The evening was almost invariably passed in conversation; and so powerful is my recollec tion, even at this distant period, of the pleasure this afforded me, that I could use no terms which would be too extravagant in its praise. The early association with men eminent for their talents, as well as their power; the habit of intense observation on all passing events; the abundant opportunities, afforded by years of travel, to apply these habits to the utmost advantage; all these, added to a remarkable union of frankness and dignity, gave a peculiar charm to the conversation of this highly accomplished and amiable woman: such, indeed, as to render it a matter of deep regret that it should be so lost, by seclusion from the world, to many whom it would instruct as well as delight. But it is, perhaps, to this love of solitude that much of the dignity of her feelings may be attributed; for it would be almost impossible to preserve, uncontaminated, a true greatness of mind, amidst the continual round of frivolities which dissipate the thoughts of half the fashionable world in England. We seldom retired before midnight; and these intellectual evenings never closed without affording me matter of congratulation at the information and pleasure afforded me, and regret at the impossibility of their being more frequently enjoyed.
In person, Lady Hester Stanhope is rather above the usual standard of female height, with regular and delicately formed features, a soft blue eye, fair and pale complexion, an expression of habitual pensiveness and tranquil resignation, which was rarely disturbed except when her countenance now and then lighted up with the indignant feelings that always followed the recital of some deed of cruelty or oppression. Her early political associations had not overcome those fine sensations which almost instinctively impel the heart to resist the inroads of tyranny; but which are never more powerful than when emanating from a female breast. The names of those who rank among the benefactors of mankind were such as enjoyed her highest veneration and esteem; and she never mentioned those of tyrants and oppressors but with undisguised abhorrence.
It has been made a subject of wonder, that an English lady of distinction should not only choose so remote and retired a spot for her residence, but that she should adopt the costume of the country, and that too of the male sex; it being already universally known that Lady Hester Stanhope wears the dress of a Turkish effendi, or private gentleman. The wonder will cease, however, when the reasons which influenced this choice are explained. Had she retained the dress of an English lady she could never have
ventured into the open air, even for the purpose of exercise, with out attracting a crowd of the peasantry, and others, to witness such a curiosity as any one so apparelled could not fail to be considered in that country, and this would be a perpetual impediment to all her movements abroad. Had she adopted the dress of a Turkish lady, she could never have ventured out except enveloped in the ample garments worn by these, which render it difficult to walk freely, and quite impossible to take any active exercise, besides being veiled in such a manner as to impede free breathing in this warm climate, and to interrupt the pleasure of seeing clearly the surrounding objects of interest in the way, The dress of an English gentleman would be liable to still stronger objections, though of another nature; so that the Turkish male dress appeared the only one that could be adopted with delicacy and advantage combined. Those who have ever seen the garment of a Turkish gentleman must be aware that it conceals the whole figure and person of the wearer, much more effectually than even the English female dress; and that nothing can be more consistent with the most feminine delicacy, than the ample and flowing robes of this costume. This is literally the only costume in which any person of respectability could go out in Syria, without attracting a crowd, and suffering perpetual interruption; so that the choice was wise and prudent, and in every other respect quite unexceptionable.
If to be sincerely and generally beloved by those among whom we reside, to possess power and influence with those who govern, and to have abundant opportunities of exercising these for the benefit of the weak and helpless, be sources of delight, (and that they are so, the universal sentiment of mankind seems to bear tes timony,) it may be safely concluded that Lady Hester Stanhope is one of the happiest of human beings. The veneration in which she is held, the affectionate terms in which she is continually spoken of by those who live near and surround her habitation, surpasses any thing I remember to have met with in the course of a tolerably extensive peregrination through various countries of the globe. Coupled, indeed, with the humble gratitude, confined information, and general enthusiasm of feeling, which characterise the inhabitants of that country, it amounts almost to adoration: so that the real good which this lady does, and the undoubted respect paid to her by all classes, have been magnified by every
In the very admirable picture of Mr. Pickersgill, exhibited at Somerset-house during the last year's exhibition, under the title of "The Oriental Love Letter," the dress of the Turkish lady in the harem conveys an excellent idea of that worn by Turkish private gentlemen also; the variation between the male and female dress, when within doors, being very slight; but differing in toto when they go out; as the gentleman goes forth uncovered, and in the same manner as he sits at home; but the lady, over her in-door dress, is obliged to fold large outer garments, veils, &c. so as almost to conceal entirely her person from sight."
successive narrator through whom the recital has passed, till it has at last assumed the shape of the miraculous, and surpassed even the extravagance of the Arabian Tales.'
From this agreeable retreat Mr. Buckingham pursued his journey over Mount Lebanon to Antioch and Aleppo, where the present volume ends. We shall only say, in conclusion, that, with some few exceptions, which we have noticed, it is prolix in its details, and very unequal in its style; yet that it contains a variety of information which, though loosely and coldly conveyed, is of some value for its novelty.
ART. V. Joanni Miltoni Angli de Doctrina Christiana Libri duo
UBREY told Anthony Wood (Fasti Oxoniensis, i. 1635.
col. 486.) that Milton had written a body of divinity intitled IDEA THEOLOGIE, which he had placed in the hands of Cyriac Skinner, who, as the readers of Milton's Sonnets know, was one of his most intimate friends. This was universally supposed by all his biographers and commentators to have been lost. It has been reserved for our times to discover it. Mr. Lemon (the very meritorious gentleman who superintends the State-Paper Office) in 1823 found, among a great number of pieces relating to the plots of the later days of Charles II., a MS. book, enveloped in two or three sheets of printed paper, (which contained a corrected copy of Milton's official Latin letters,) and directed to Mr. Skinner, merchant. The title does not exactly agree with that given, of course from recollection, by Aubrey to Wood: but there is no doubt that it is the work so long considered as not extant. It is in the hand-writing of Mary, one of the poet's daughters, and is sufficiently correct. Some blunders of careless dictation, and others of heedless copying, occur, but they are of little importance, and are in this edition rectified by its editor, Mr. Sumner. It is published by the King's especial order, -a circumstance which we think creditable to the taste and liberality of his Majesty.
It is a very perfect and well-ordered body of divinity; containing, however, doctrines little expected, by people in general, from the pen of the author of Paradise Lost. Asy
however, the interest of the volume does not consist in the 'arguments themselves so much as in the circumstance of their being Milton's, we shall hold ourselves excused from entering into any deep polemical considerations, but shall at once proceed to analyze and condense its contents.
After defining that the Christian doctrine is that which Christ (though not known by that name from the beginning) divinely revealed to us concerning the nature and worship of the Deity, for the promotion of the glory of God, and the salvation of men, he commences his work by a consideration of the nature and attributes of God. The existence of the Deity is proved by the usual arguments-the order of the universe; the necessity of a First Cause; - the testimony of every man's individual conscience; and the authority of Scripture. We are cautioned against making our own fancies the ground of our opinions concerning the nature of God; and the use which several have made of arpwawadia is rejected as worthy of grammarians, not theologians. The following passage is remarkable, as seeming to favor the theory of the Humanitarians, against which, however, he speedily guards himself. (We shall quote in general from Mr. Sumner's translation.)
If God be said to have made man in his own image, after his likeness, Gen. i. 26., and that too not only as to his soul, but also as to his outward form *, (unless the same words have different signi
The Humanitarians held that God was to be understood as having really a human form. See Clarke's Sermons, vol. i. p. 26. fol. edit. The drift of Milton's argument leads him to employ language which would appear at first sight to verge upon their doctrine, but it will be seen immediately that he guards himself against the charge of having adopted one of the most ignorant errors of the dark ages of the church. The reasoning of Milton on this subject throws great light on a passage in Paradise Lost, put into the mouth of Raphael:
What surmounts the reach
Of human sense, I shall delineate so,
As may express them best; though what if earth
Here Newton observes the artful suggestion that there may be a greater similitude and resemblance between things in heaven and things in earth than is generally imagined, and supposes it may have been intended as an apology for the bold figures which the poet has employed. We now see that his deliberate opinions seem to have leaned to the belief that the fabrick of the invisible world was the pattern of the visible. Mede introduces a hint of a simi lar kind in his tenth discourse, as Newton remarks.'