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quaintness of Shakspeare's language should understand it. Mrs. Butler more than once expresses censure by saying the thing is nought'--nought, quotha ! she means naught : and in a very remarkable passage in Richard III. (which we refrain from quoting more particularly), Shakspeare himself marks the very broad distinction between the two words.
Mrs. Butler seems to have a laudable reverence for religion, and frequently tells us of the assiduity with which she worked at her • bible-cover ;' but even on the most serious occasions she lays aside her • bible-cover,' and the better thoughts it might inspire, to intersperse dramatic slang of the least decorous sound :
The sermon would have been good if it had been squeezed into half the compass it occupied ; it was upon the subject of the late ter- : rible visitations with which God has tried the world, and was sensibly and well delivered, only it had “ damnable iteration." '-vol. i. p.71. . It is true, by my faith! it is true; there it is written, here I sit, I am myself and no other, this is New York, and nowhere else.'vol. i. p. 48.
'I was roused by a pull on the shoulder, and a civil and considerate lady asked me to do her the favour of lending her my book. I said • by all manner of means,' wished her at the devil, and turned round to sleep once more.'—vol. ii. p. 17.
• Sketched till dark. Chose a beautiful claret-coloured velvet for Mre. Beverley; which will cost Miss Kemble eleven guineas, by this living light !'-vol. i. p. 195.
And the affectation of this last exclamation is not more offensive than absurd. She chooses her claret-coloured gown after it was dark, and then swears' by the living light!'
In the same style of vulgar irreverence is her reflection on the ship which had conveyed her to America :
• Poor good ship, I wish to Heaven my feet were on her deck, and her prow turned to the east. I would not care if the devil himself drove a hurricane at our backs.'- vol. i.
91. Does Mrs. Butler mean any harm by this? Certainly not there is much better evidence than the bible-cover' that she has a strong, though we cannot say an adequant, religious feeling; but as the Stage has reconciled her to the publishing her living Journal, the Stage has reconciled her ears to expressions which startle, and we must add offend, ours.
In the midst of a great affectation of simplicity of taste and manner, she contrives to display all possible vanities; and though she laughs at the Americans for their absurd admiration of titles, she takes special care to introduce, by hook or by crook, every lord or lady she was ever acquainted with. In the following passage it accidentally escapes her that she is not only a universal genius, reading Dante-writing, novels--and darning shirts, with equal facility, but is, moreover, an habituée of the highest circles of English aristocracy :
* Finished Journal, wrote to my mother, read a canto in Dante, and began to write a novel. Dined at five. After dinner, put out things for this evening, played on the piano, mended habit-shirt, dressed myself, and at a quarter to ten went to the theatre for my father. I had on the same dress I wore at Devonshire House, the night of the last ball I was at in England, and looked at myself with amazement, to think of all the strangenesses that have befallen since then. Lord! Lord! what fools men and women do make themselves.'vol. ii. p. 23. They do indeed, but never so completely as when a lecturer on folly exhibits such transparent affectation.
This indeed is the predominant feature of Mrs. Butler's book ; and, we presume (for the reasons already given), of her character. Perhaps it may not be quite exact to call that affectation,' of which probably she is often-nay, generally-unconscious, and which has become so hubitual that she fancies it naturul. We indeed allege it not as ceusure, but as defence of what, in a case not susceptible of the like apology, would be a gross indelicacy, and, when she speaks of other persons, a breach of all the confidences of friendship and private life.
But it is not in manner and modes of thinking only that we trace this disposition to étalage and factitious decoration. Her description of natural objects, though in itself very clever, becomes indistinct and perplexing from an excess of colour. Within seven lines we have golden skies-yreen, brown, yellow, and dark maroon thickets-grey granite, circled with green-purple waters -a red road—and all under a rosy light-till the eye is drunk with beauty.'- (vol. i. p. 208.) Now all this gorgeous and glorious '* brilliancy which intoxicates the eye, is excellent now and then, and on special occasions; but in every third or fourth page
-at every new prospect she sees at every sun-rise or sun-set she witnesses, it grows intolerable. We wonder that she did not recollect, from the childish experiment of spinning a court-card, that the gaudiest hues will become, by rapid repetition, a dingy confusion; she keeps spinning the Queen of Diamonds so unremittingly all day long that one cannot make out what card it is. This flowery profusion of tints is very wearisome, but her metallic metaphors are still worse. No herald painter deals more largely in or and argent. It is really incredible what a quantity of gold and silver she uses up— silver clouds '— silver vapours'-silver light'-silver waves silver lamp'- silver belt '- silver
* These are two of the most abused words in the book-everything from the 'sun' to 'slip-slop,' and from the Atlantic' to the master of the ship' that navigates it,-is by turns glorious and gorgeous,
springs '--'floating silver,' and 'molten silver ;' and then, on the other side of the account, we have 'golden skies' - golden waves '— golden shores — golden spray'-'golden snake' -'golden disk '--'golden fruit'-golden wings'-golden leaves '— golden willows '-'golden glories, and golden froth' -in short, every visible object is so plated and gilt
, that the face of nature, in Mrs. Butler's sketch-book, looks like a silversmith's shop-window. And all this surprises us the more from the deep disgust she expresses at the false finery which she herself is forced to put on in the way of her vocation-foil stone-glass beads, and brass tape.'—(vol. i. p. 248.) Is it not wonderful that she does not see that her own mode of overloading Nature is of the same tawdry fashion ?—and that calling a brook' a silver snake,' and a fog ' a golden mist,'-a cloud an “inky curtain,' and a shower of rain fringe ' to the said curtain, is very much in the style of glass beads and brass tape--indeed, some of them are rather worse ; for these flimsy counterfeits pay their homage to reality, while Mrs. Butler's degrades the glories of nature into specimens of handicraft.
These descriptions, however, occupy so much of the book, are evidently such favourites with Mrs. Butler, and are, indeed, with all their faults, so clever, that it would be unjust not to give some entire specimens. We shall extract two or three which we think among the best, and the least marked with the blemish we have just complained of:
• To Fair Mount, where we got out, and left the coach to wait for us. The day was bright, and bitter cold : the keen spirit-like wind came careering over the crisping waters of the broad river, and carried across the cloudless blue sky the golden showers from the shivering woods. They had not lost their beauty yet; though some of their crimson robes were turned to palest yellow, and through the thin foliage the dark boughs and rugged barks showed distinctly: yet the sun shone joyfully on them, and they looked beautiful stiil; and so did the water, curled into a thousand mimic billows, that came breaking their crystal heads along the curving shore, which, with its shady indentings and bright granite promontories, seemed to lock the river in, and gave it the appearance of a lovely lake.'_vol. i.
225. • While despatching breakfast, the reflection of the sun's rays on the water fickered to and fro upon the cabin ceiling ; and throngh the loop-hole windows we saw the bright foam round the paddles sparkling like frothed gold in the morning light. On our return to the deck, the face of the world had become resplendent with the glorious sunshine that now poured from the east; and rock and river, earth and sky, shone in intense and dazzling brilliancy. The broad Hudson curled into a thousand crisp billows under the fresh northwester that blew over it. The vaporous exhalations of night had
melted from the horizon, and the bold, rocky range of one shore, and exquisite rolling outline of the other, stood out in fair relief against the deep serene of the blue heavens.'-p. 260.
Such passages, we repeat, would be admirable if they were not so superabundant, and we assure our readers that these are the most moderate specimens of this gorgeous style which we could select out of some hundreds. The following description of a storm in the city of New York is more distinct, and, if we may use the expression, more individual, though even here we have rather too much of old Denvis's theatrical thunder :
"A tremendous thunder-storm came on, which lasted from nine o'clock till past two in the morning : I never saw but one such in my life; and that was our memorable Weybridge storm, which only exceeded this in the circumstance of my having seen a thunderbolt fall during that paroxysm of the elements. But this was very glorious, awful, beautiful, and tremendous. The lightning played without the intermission of a second, in wide sheets of purple glaring flame that trembled over the earth for nearly two or three seconds at a time; making the whole world, river, sky, trees, and buildings, look like a ghostly universe cut out in chalk. The light over the water, which absolutely illumined the shore on the other side with the broad glare of full day, was of a maguificent purple colour. The night was pitchy dark, too; so that between each of these ghastly smiles of the devil, the various pale steeples and buildings, which seemed at every moment to leap from nothing into existence, after standing out in fearful relief against a background of fire, were hidden, like so many dreams, in deep and total darkness. God's music rolled along the heavens; the forked lightnings now dived from the clouds into the very bosom of the city, now ran like tangled threads of fire all round the blazing sky. “The big bright rain came dancing to the earth," the wind clapped its huge wings, and swept through the dazzling glare; and I stood, with eyes half veiled (for the light was too intense even upon the ground to be looked at with unshaded eyes), gazing at this fierce holiday of the elements--at the mad lightning-at the brilliant shower, through which the flashes shone like day-light-listening to the huge thunder, as its voice resounded, and its heavy feet rebounded along clouds and the swift spirit-like wind rushing triumphantly along, uttering its wild pæan over the amazed earth.' --vol i. pp. 109, 110.
All this, notwithstanding the two or three bright flashes of genius with which it is illuminated, is too long and too wordy, and reminds us of Sheridan's at once pleasant and acute criticism on the thea. trical propensity to over-do-'Ay, thisi s always the way at the theatre-give these fellows a good thing, and they never know when to have done with it.'
Though her finished pictures are too elaborate, she is very often very successful in a sketch, and creates by a word or two á very lively image—though even in the best of these there is, generally, some mark of the craft-something more striking than natural some . glass beads and brass tape!
* The day was most lovely, and my eyes were constantly attracted to the church windows, through which the magnificent willows of the burial-ground looked like golden-green fountains rising into the sky.' - vol. i. p. 129.
· The bridges here are all made of wood, and for the most part covered. Those which are so are by no means unpicturesque objects. The one-arched bridge at Fair Mount is particularly light and graceful in its appearance; at a little distance, it looks like a scarf, rounded by the wind, flung over the river.'-vol. ii. p. 30. And this description of a soft mild dawn, though somewhat too fanciful, conveys, if not an image, at least a sentiment :
"At six o'clock, just as the night was folding its soft black wings, and rising slowly from the earth.' -vol. i. p. 157.
We can forgive her making her ship reel like a drunken man,' or 'dance like a fairy,' for one exquisite (yet still theatrical) touch by which she describes the way of a vessel under full sail on a calm sea, as · courtesying along the smooth waters '-(vol. i. p. 46); and the homely expression with which she sketches the appearance of the wintry woods is almost as graphic :• The comfortless, threadbare look of the wintry woods.'-vol. ii. p. 115.
Her contrast of the towns of New York and Philadelphia is very terse and lively :
• I like Philadelphia extremely; there is a look of comfort and cleanliness, and withal of age about it, which pleases me. It is quieter, too, than New York; and though not so gay, for that very reason is more to my fancy: the shops, too, have a far better appearance. New York always gave me the idea of an irregular collection of temporary buildings, erecled for some casual purpose, full of life, animation, and variety, but not meant to endure for any length of time; -a pair, in short. Philadelphia has a much more substantial, sober, and city-like appearance.'-vol. i. p. 178. And the sketch of Washington is equally so :
• Washington altogether struck me as a rambling red-lrick image of futurity, where nothing is, but all things are to be.'- vol.ii. p. 138. Sometimes she sketches in the true spirit of caricature :
• Presently came in Baron a man with a thick head-thick white hair that stood out round it like a silver halo—and gold earrings.'-vol. ii. p. 94.
The play, the Hunchback: the house crammed from fivor to ceil. ing. I had an intense headache, but played tolerably well. I wore my red satin, and looked like a bonfire.'-vol. i. p. 144.
D-, wrapped up in a shawl, sat till morning under the half. open hatchway, breathing damp starlight'- vol. ii. p. 245.