INTERNATIONAL WEEKLY MISCELLANY
Of Literature, Art, and Science.
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Vol. I. NEW YORK, AUGUST 12, 1850. No. 7.
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WOMEN AND LITERATURE IN FRANCE.
From a sprightly letter from Paris to the Cologne Gazette, we translate for The International the following account of the position of women in the French Republic, together with the accompanying gossip concerning sundry ladies whose names have long been quite prominently before the public:
"It is curious that the idea of the emancipation of women should have originated in France, for there is no country in Europe where the sex have so little reason to complain of their position as in this, especially at Paris. Leaving out of view a certain paragraph of the Code Civile—and that is nothing but a sentence in a law-book—and looking closely into the features of women's life, we see that they are not only queens who reign, but also ministers who govern.
"In France women are engaged in a large proportion of civil employments, and may without hesitation devote themselves to art and science. It is indeed astonishing to behold the interest with which the beautiful sex here enter upon all branches of art and knowledge.
"The ateliers of the painters number quite as many female as male students, and there are apparently more women than men who copy the pictures in the Louvre. Nothing is more pleasing than to see these gentle creatures, with their easels, sitting before a colossal Rubens or a Madonna of Raphael. No difficulty alarms them, and prudery is not allowed to give a voice in their choice of subjects.
"I have never yet attended a lecture, by either of the professors here, but I have found some seats occupied by ladies. Even the lectures of Michel Chevalier and Blanqui do not keep back the eagerness of the charming Parisians in pursuit of science. That Michelet and Edgar Quinet have numerous female disciples is accordingly not difficult to believe.
"Go to a public session of the Academy, and you find the 'cercle' filled almost exclusively by ladies, and these laurel-crowned heads have the delight of seeing their immortal works applauded by the clapping of tenderest hands. In truth, the French savan is uncommonly clear in the most abstract things; but it would be an interesting question, whether the necessity of being not alone easily intelligible but agreeable to the capacity of comprehension possessed by the unschooled mind of woman, has not largely contributed to the facility and charm which is peculiar to French scientific literature. Read for example the discourse on Cabanis, pronounced by Mignet at the last session. It would be impossible to write more charmingly, more elegantly, more attractively, even upon a subject within the range of the fine arts. The works, and especially the historical works, of the French, are universally diffused. Popular histories, so-called editions for the people, are here entirely unknown; everything that is published is in a popular edition, and if as great and various care were taken for the education of the people as in Germany, France would in this respect be the first country in the world.
"With the increasing influence of monarchical ideas in certain circles, the women seem to be returning to the traditions of monarchy, and are throwing themselves into the business of making memoirs. Hardly have George Sand's Confessions been announced, and already new enterprises in the same line are set on foot. The European dancer, who is perhaps more famous for making others dance to her music, and who has enjoyed a monopoly of cultivated scandal, Lola Montes, also intends to publish her memoirs. They will of course contain an interesting fragment of German federal politics, and form a contribution to German revolutionary literature. Lola herself is still too beautiful to devote her own time to the writing. Accordingly, she has resorted to the pen of M. Balzac. If Madame Balzac has nothing to say against the necessary intimacy with the dangerous Spanish or Irish or whatever woman—for Lola Montes is a second Homer—the reading world may anticipate an interesting, chapter of life. No writer is better fitted for such a work than so profound a man of the world, and so keen a painter of character, as Balzac.
"The well-known actress, Mlle. Georges, who was in her prime during the most remarkable epoch of the century, and was in relations with the most prominent persons of the Empire, is also preparing a narrative of her richly varied experiences. Perhaps these attractive examples may induce Madame Girardin also to bestow her memoirs upon us, and so the process can be repeated infinitely."
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AUTHORS AND BOOKS.
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Parke Godwin has just given to the public, through Mr. Putnam, a new edition of the translation made by himself and some literary friends, of Goethe's "Autobiography, or Truth and Poetry from My Life." In his new preface Mr. Godwin exposes one of the most scandalous pieces of literary imposition that we have ever read of. This translation, with a few verbal alterations which mar its beauty and lessen its fidelity, has been reprinted in "Bohn's Standard Library," in London, as an original English version, in the making of which "the American was of occasional use," &c. Mr. Godwin is one of our best German scholars, and his discourse last winter on the character and genius of Goethe, illustrated his thorough appreciation of the Shakspeare of the Continent, and that affectionate sympathy which is so necessary to the task of turning an author from one language into another. There are very few books in modern literature more attractive or more instructive to educated men than this Autobiography of Goethe, for which we are indebted to him.
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John Randolph is the best subject for a biography, that our political experience has yet furnished. Who that remembers the long and slender man of iron, with his scarcely human scorn of nearly all things beyond his "old Dominion," and his withering wit, never restrained by any pity, and his passion for destroying all fabrics of policy or reputation of which he was not himself the architect, but will read with anticipations of keen interest the announcement of a life of the eccentric yet great Virginian! Such a work, by the Hon. Hugh A. Garland, is in the press of the Appletons. We know little of Mr. Garland's capacities in this way, but if his book prove not the most attractive in the historical literature of the year, the fault will not be in its subject.
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The Scottish Booksellers have instituted a society for professional objects under the title of the "Edinburgh Booksellers' Union." In addition to business purposes, they propose to collect and preserve books and pamphlets written by or relating to booksellers, printers, engravers, or members of collateral professions,—rare editions of other works—and generally articles connected with parties belonging to the above professions, whether literary, professional, or personal.
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D'Israeli abandons himself now-a-days entirely to politics. "The forehead high, and gleaming eye, and lip awry, of Benjamin D'Israeli," sung once by Fraser are no longer seen before the title-pages of "Wondrous Tales," but only before the Speaker. It is much referred to, that in the recent parliamentary commemoration of Sir Robert Peel, the Hebrew commoner kept silence; his long war of bitter sarcasm and reproach on the defunct statesman was too freshly remembered. Peel rarely exerted himself to more advantage than in his replies, to D'Israeli, all noticeable for subdued disdain, conscious patriotism, and argumentative completeness. For injustice experienced through life, the meritorious dead are in a measure revenged by the feelings of their accusers or detractors, when the latter retain the sensibility which the grave usually excites, and especially amid such a chorus of applause from all parties, and a whole people, as we have now in England for Sir Robert Peel—the only man in the Empire, except Wellington, who had a strictly personal authority.
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Dr. Dickson, recently of the Medical Department of the New York University, and whose ill-health induced the resignation of the chair he held there, has returned to Charleston, and we observe that his professional and other friends in that city greeted him with a public dinner, on the 9th ult. Dr. Dickson we believe is one of the most classically elegant writers upon medical science in the United States. He ranks with Chapman and Oliver Wendell Holmes in the grace of his periods as well as in the thoroughness of his learning and the exactness and acuteness of his logic. Like Holmes, too, he is a poet, and, generally, a very accomplished litterateur. We regret the loss that New York sustains in his removal, but congratulate Charleston upon the recovery of one of the best known and most loved attractions of her society.
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Mr. John R. Bartlett's boundary commission will soon be upon the field of its activity. We were pleased to see that Mr. Davis, of Massachusetts, a few days ago presented in the Senate petitions from Edward Everett, Jared Sparks, and others, and from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, at Boston, to the effect that it would be of great public utility to attach to the boundary commission to run the line between the United States and Mexico, a small corps of persons well qualified to make researches in the various departments of science.
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William C. Richards, the very clever and accomplished editor of the Southern Literary Gazette was the author of "Two Country Sonnets," contributed to a recent number of The International, which we inadvertently credited to his brother, T. Addison Richards the well-known and much esteemed landscape painter.
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MAJOR POUSSIN, so well-known for his long residence in this country as an officer of engineers, and, more recently, as Minister of the French republic,—which, intelligent men have no need to be assured, he represented with uniform wisdom and manliness,—is now engaged at Paris upon a new edition of his important book, The Power and Prospects of the United States. We perceive that he has lately published in the Republican journal Le Credit, a translation of the American instructions to Mr. Mann, respecting Hungary. In his preface to this document, Major Poussin pays the warmest compliments to the feelings, measures and policy of our administration, with which he contrasts, at the same time, those of the French Government. He hopes a great deal for the Democratic cause in Europe from the moral influences of the United States.
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DR. JOHN W. FRANCIS, one of the most excellent men, as well as one of the best physicians of New York, has received from Trinity College, Hartford, the degree of Doctor of Laws. We praise the authorities of Trinity for this judicious bestowal of its honors. Francis's career of professional usefulness and variously successful intellectual activity, are deserving such academical recognition. His genial love of learning, large intelligence, ready appreciation of individual merit, and that genuine love of country which has led him to the carefullest and most comprehensive study of our general and particular annals, and to the frequentest displays of the sources of its enduring grandeur, constitute in him a character eminently entitled to our affectionate admiration.
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THE POEMS OF GRAY, in an edition of singular typographical and pictorial beauty, are to be issued as one of the autumn gift-books by Henry C. Baird, of Philadelphia. They are to be edited by the tasteful and judicious critic, Professor Henry Reed, of the University of Pennsylvania, to whom we were indebted for the best edition of Wordsworth that appeared during the life of that poet. We have looked over Professor Reed's life of Gray, and have seen proofs of the admirable engravings with which the work will be embellished. It will be dedicated to our American Moxon, JAMES T. FIELDS, as a souvenir. we presume, of a visit to the grave of the bard, which the two young booksellers made together during a recent tour in Europe. Mr. Baird and Mr. Fields are of the small company of publishers, who, if it please them, can write their own books. They have both given pleasant evidence of abilities in this way.
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BURNS.—It appears from the Scotch papers that the house in Burns-street, Dumfries, in which the bard of "Tam o'Shanter" and his wife "bonnie Jean," lived and died, is about to come into the market by way of public auction.
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"EUROPE, PAST AND PRESENT:" A comprehensive manual of European Geography and History, derived from official and authentic sources, and comprising not only an accurate geographical and statistical description, but also a faithful and interesting history of all European States; to which is appended a copious and carefully arranged index, by Francis H. Ungewitter, LL.D.,—is a volume of some six hundred pages, just published by Mr. Putnam. It has been prepared with much well-directed labor, and will be found a valuable and comprehensive manual of reference upon all questions relating to the history, geographical position, and general statistics of the several States of Europe.
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M. LIBRI, of whose conviction at Paris (par contumace, that is, in default of appearance), of stealing books from public libraries, we have given some account in The International, is warmly and it appears to us successfully defended in the Athenaeum, in which it is alleged that there was not a particle of legal evidence against him. M. Libri is, and was at the time of the appearance of the accusation against him, a political exile in England.
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MAJOR RAWLINSON, F.R.S., has published a "Commentary on the Cuneiform Inscriptions of Babylon and Assyria," including readings of the inscriptions on the Nimroud Obelisk, discovered by Mr. Layard, and a brief notice of the ancient kings of Nineveh and Babylon. It was read before the Royal Asiatic Society.
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REV. DR. WISEMAN, author of the admirable work on the Connection between Science and Religion, is to proceed to Rome toward the close of the present month to receive the hat of a cardinal. It is many years since any English Roman Catholic, resident in England, attained this honor.
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THE OHIO HISTORICAL SOCIETY has published several interesting volumes, of which the most important are those of Judge Burnett. An address, by William D. Gallagher, its President, on the History and Resources of the West and Northwest, has just been issued: and it has nearly ready for publication a volume of Mr. Hildreth.
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THE IMPERIAL LIBRARY AT VIENNA has been enriched by a very old Greek manuscript on the Advent of Christ, composed by a bishop of the second century, named Clement. This manuscript was discovered a short time since by M. Waldeck, the philologist, at Constantinople.
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MR. KEIGHTLEY's "History of Greece" has been translated into modern Greek and published at Athens.
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GUIZOT's book on Democracy, has been prohibited in Austria, through General Haynau's influence.
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WORDSWORTH'S POSTHUMOUS POEM, "The Prelude," is in the press of the Appletons, by whose courtesy we are enabled to present the readers of The International with the fourth canto of it, before its publication in England. The poem is a sort of autobiography in blank verse, marked by all the characteristics of the poet—his original vein of thought; his majestic, but sometimes diffuse, style of speculation; his large sympathies with humanity, from its proudest to its humblest forms. It will be read with great avidity by his admirers—and there are few at this day who do not belong to that class—as affording them a deeper insight into the mind of Wordsworth than any of his other works. It is divided into several books, named from the different situations or stages of the author's life, or the subjects which at any period particularly engaged his attention. We believe it will be more generally read than any poem of equal length that has issued from the press in this age.
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Miss COOPER's "RURAL HOURS" is everywhere commended as one of the most charming pictures that have ever appeared of country life. The books of the Howitts, delineating the same class of subjects in England and Germany, are not to be compared to Miss Cooper's for delicate painting or grace and correctness of diction. The Evening Post observes:
"This is one of the most delightful books we have lately taken up. It is a journal of daily observations made by an intelligent and highly educated lady, residing in a most beautiful part of the country, commencing with the spring of 1848, and closing with the end of the winter of 1849. They almost wholly concern the occupations and objects of country life, and it is almost enough to make one in love with such a life to read its history so charmingly narrated. Every day has its little record in this volume,—the record of some rural employment, some note on the climate, some observation in natural history, or occasionally some trait of rural manners. The arrival and departure of the birds of passage is chronicled, the different stages of vegetation are noted, atmospheric changes and phenomena are described, and the various living inhabitants of the field and forest are made to furnish matter of entertainment for the reader. All this is done with great variety and exactness of knowledge, and without any parade of science. Descriptions of rural holidays and rural amusements are thrown in occasionally, to give a living interest to a picture which would otherwise become monotonous from its uniform quiet. The work is written in easy and flexible English, with occasional felicities of expression. It is ascribed, as we believe we have informed our readers, to a daughter of J. Fenimore Cooper. Our country is full of most interesting materials for a work of this sort; but we confess we hardly expected, at the present time, to see them collected and arranged by so skillful a hand."
[Footnote 1: RURAL HOURS: by a Lady, George P. Putnam, 155 Broadway. 1850.]
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THE REV. SYDNEY SMITH's "Sketches of Modern Philosophy," remarks the Tribune, "consist of a course of popular lectures on the subject, delivered in the Royal Institution of London in the years 1804-5-6. As a contribution to the science of which they profess to treat, their claims to respect are very moderate. Indeed, no one would ridicule any pretensions of that kind with more zeal than the author himself. The manuscripts were left in an imperfect state, Sydney Smith probably supposing that no call would ever be made for their publication. They were written merely for popular effect, to be spoken before a miscellaneous audience, in which any abstract topics of moral philosophy would be the last to awaken an interest. The title of the book is accordingly a misnomer. It would lead no one to suspect the rich and diversified character of its contents. They present no ambitious attempts at metaphysical disquisition. They are free from dry technicalities of ethical speculation. They have no specimens of logical hair-splitting, no pedantic array of barren definitions, no subtle distinctions proceeding from an ingenious fancy, and without any foundation in nature. On the contrary, we find in this volume a series of lively, off-hand, dashing comments on men and manners, often running into broad humor, and always marked with the pungent common sense that never forsook the facetious divine. His remarks on the conduct of the understanding, on literary habits, on the use and value of books, and other themes of a similar character, are for the most part instructive and practical as well as piquant, and on the whole, the admirers of Sydney Smith will have no reason to regret the publication of the volume."
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[FROM THE LONDON TIMES.]
BIOGRAPHY OF SIR ROBERT PEEL.
In the following brief narrative of the principal facts in the life of the great statesman who has just been snatched from among us, we must disclaim all intention of dealing with his biography in any searching or ambitious spirit. The national loss is so great, the bereavement is so sudden, that we cannot sit down calmly either to eulogize or arraign the memory of the deceased. We cannot forget that it was not a week ago we were occupied in recording and commenting upon his last eloquent address to that assembly which had so often listened with breathless attention to his statesmanlike expositions of policy. We could do little else when the mournful intelligence reached us that Sir Robert Peel was no more, than pen a few expressions of sorrow and respect. Even now the following imperfect record of facts must be accepted as a poor substitute for the biography of that great Englishman whose loss will be felt almost as a private bereavement by every family throughout the British Empire:—
Sir Robert Peel was in the 63d year of his age, having been born near Bury, in Lancashire, on the 5th of February, 1788. His father was a manufacturer on a grand scale, and a man of much natural ability, and of almost unequaled opulence. Full of a desire to render his son and probable successor worthy of the influence and the vast wealth which he had to bestow, the first Sir Robert Peel took the utmost pains personally with the early training of the future prime minister. He retained his son under his own immediate superintendence until he arrived at a sufficient age to be sent to Harrow. Lord Byron, his contemporary at Harrow, was a better declaimer and a more amusing actor, but in sound learning and laborious application to school duties young Peel had no equal. He had scarcely completed his 16th year when he left Harrow and became a gentleman commoner of Christ Church, Oxford, where he took the degree of A.B., in 1808, with unprecedented distinction.
The year 1809 saw him attain his majority, and take his seat in the House of Commons as a member for Cashel, in Tipperary.
The first Sir Robert Peel had long been a member of the House of Commons, and the early efforts of his son in that assembly were regarded with considerable interest, not only on account of his University reputation, but also because he was the son of such a father. He did not, however, begin public life by staking his fame on the results of one elaborate oration; on the contrary, he rose now and then on comparatively unimportant occasions; made a few brief modest remarks, stated a fact or two, explained a difficulty when he happened to understand the matter in hand better than others, and then sat down without taxing too severely the patience or good nature of an auditory accustomed to great performances. Still in the second year of his parliamentary course he ventured to make a set speech, when, at the commencement of the session of 1810, he seconded the address in reply to the King's speech. Thenceforward for nineteen years a more highflying Tory than Mr. Peel was not to be found within the walls of parliament. Lord Eldon applauded him as a young and valiant champion of those abuses in the state which were then fondly called "the institutions of the country." Lord Sidmouth regarded him as the rightful political heir, and even the Duke of Cumberland patronized Mr. Peel. He further became the favorite eleve of Mr. Perceval, the first lord of the treasury, and entered office as under-secretary for the home department. He continued in the home department for two years, not often speaking in parliament, but rather qualifying himself for those prodigious labors in debate, in council, and in office, which it has since been his lot to encounter and perform.
In May, 1812, Mr. Perceval fell by the hand of an assassin, and the composition of the ministry necessarily underwent a great change. The result, so far as Mr. Peel was concerned, was, that he was appointed Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. Mr. Peel had only reached his 26th year when, in the month of September, 1812, the duties of that anxious and laborious position were entrusted to his hands. The legislative union was then but lately consummated, and the demand for Catholic emancipation had given rise to an agitation of only very recent date. But, in proportion to its novelty, so was its vigor. Mr. Peel was, therefore, as the representative of the old tory Protestant school, called upon to encounter a storm of unpopularity, such as not even an Irish secretary has ever been exposed to. The late Mr. O'Connell in various forms poured upon Mr. Peel a torrent of invective which went beyond even his extraordinary performances in the science of scolding. At length he received from Mr. Peel a hostile message. Negotiations went on for three or four days, when Mr. O'Connell was taken into custody and bound over to keep the peace toward all his fellow-subjects in Ireland. Mr. Peel and his friend immediately went to England, and subsequently proceeded to the continent. Mr. O'Connell followed them to London, but the police were active enough to bring him before the chief justice, when he entered into recognizances to keep the peace toward all his majesty's subjects; and so ended one of the few personal squabbles in which Mr. Peel had ever been engaged. For six years he held the office of chief secretary to the lord-lieutenant, at a time when the government was conducted upon what might be called "anti-conciliation principles." The opposite course was commenced by Mr. Peel's immediate successor, Mr. Charles Grant, now Lord Glenelg.
That a chief secretary so circumstanced, struggling to sustain extreme Orangeism in its dying agonies, should have been called upon to encounter great toil and anxiety is a truth too obvious to need illustration. That in these straits Mr. Peel acquitted himself with infinite address was as readily acknowledged at that time as it has ever been even in the zenith of his fame. He held office in that country under three successive viceroys, the Duke of Richmond, Earl Whitworth, and Earl Talbot, all of whom have long since passed away from this life, their names and their deeds long forgotten. But the history of their chief secretary happens not to have been composed of such perishable materials, and we now approach one of the most memorable passages of his eventful career. He was chairman of the great bullion committee; but before he engaged in that stupendous task he had resigned the chief secretaryship of Ireland. As a consequence of the report of that committee, he took charge of and introduced the bill for authorizing a return to cash payments which bears his name, and which measure received the sanction of parliament in the year 1819. That measure brought upon Mr. Peel no slight or temporary odium. The first Sir Robert Peel was then alive, and altogether differed from his son as to the tendency of his measure. It was roundly asserted at the time, and very faintly denied, that it rendered that gentleman a more wealthy man, by something like half a million sterling, than he had previously been. The deceased statesman, however, must, in common justice, be acquitted of any sinister purpose.
This narrative now reaches the year 1820, when we have to relate the only domestic event in the history of Sir Robert Peel which requires notice. On the 8th of June, being then in the 33d year of his age, he married Julia, daughter of General Sir John Floyd, who had then attained the age of 25.
Two years afterward there was a lull in public affairs, which gave somewhat the appearance of tranquillity. Lord Sidmouth was growing old, he thought that his system was successful, and that at length he might find repose. He considered it then consistent with his public duty to consign to younger and stronger hands the seals of the home department. He accepted a seat in the cabinet without office, and continued to give his support to Lord Liverpool, his ancient political chief. In permitting his mantle to fall upon Mr. Peel, he thought he was assisting to invest with authority one whose views and policy were as narrow as his own, and whose practise in carrying them out would be not less rigid and uncompromising. But, like many others, he lived long enough to be grievously disappointed by the subsequent career of him whom the liberal party have since called "the great minister of progress," and whom their opponents have not scrupled to designate by appellations not to be repeated in these hours of sorrow and bereavement. On the 17th of January, 1822, Mr. Peel was installed at the head of the home department, where he remained undisturbed till the political demise of Lord Liverpool in the spring of 1827. The most distinguished man that has filled the chair of the House of Commons in the present century was Charles Abbott, afterward Lord Colchester. In the summer of 1817 he had completed sixteen years of hard service in that eminent office, and he had represented the University for eleven years. His valuable labors having been rewarded with a pension and a peerage, he took his seat, full of years and honors, among the hereditary legislators of the land, and left a vacancy in the representation of his alma mater, which Mr. Peel above all living men was deemed the most fitting person to occupy. At that time he was an intense tory—or as the Irish called him, an Orange Protestant of the deepest dye—one prepared to make any sacrifice for the maintenance of church and state as established by the revolution of 1688. Who, therefore, so fit as he to represent the loyalty, learning, and orthodoxy of Oxford? To have done so had been the object of Mr. Canning's young ambition: but in 1817 he could not be so ungrateful to Liverpool as to reject its representation even for the early object of his parliamentary affections. Mr. Peel, therefore, was returned without opposition, for that constituency which many consider the most important in the land—with which he remained on the best possible terms for twelve years. The question of the repeal of the penal laws affecting the Roman Catholics, which severed so many political connections, was, however, destined to separate Mr. Peel from Oxford. In 1828 rumors of the coming change were rife, and many expedients were devised to extract his opinions on the Catholic question. But with the reserve which ever marked his character, left all curiosity at fault. At last, the necessities of the government rendered further concealment impossible, and out came the truth that he was no longer an Orangeman. The ardent friends who had frequently supported his Oxford elections, and the hot partisans who shouted "Peel and Protestantism," at the Brunswick Clubs, reviled him for his defection in no measured terms. On the 4th of February, 1829, he addressed a letter to the vice-chancellor of Oxford, stating, in many well-turned phrases, that the Catholic question must forthwith be adjusted, under advice in which he concurred; and that, therefore, he considered himself bound to resign that trust which the University had during so many years confided to his hands. His resignation was accepted; but as the avowed purpose of that important step was to give his constituents an opportunity of pronouncing an opinion upon a change of policy, he merely accepted the Chiltern Hundreds with the intention of immediately becoming a candidate for that seat in parliament which he had just vacated. At this election Mr. Peel was opposed by Sir Robert Inglis, who was elected by 755 to 609. Mr. Peel was, therefore, obliged to cast himself on the favor of Sir Manasseh Lopez, who returned him for Westbury, in Wiltshire, which constituency he continued to represent two years, until at the general election in 1830 he was chosen for Tamworth, in the representation for which he continued for twenty years.
The main features of his official life still remain to be noticed. With the exception of Lord Palmerston, no statesman of modern times has spent so many years in the civil service of the crown. If no account be taken of the short time he was engaged upon the bullion committee in effecting the change in the currency, and in opposing for a few months the ministries of Mr. Canning and Lord Goderich, it may be stated that from 1810 to 1830 he formed part of the government, and presided over it as a first minister in 1834-5, as well as from 1841 to 1846 inclusive. During the time that he held the office of home secretary under Lord Liverpool he effected many important changes in the administration of domestic affairs, and many legislative improvements of a practical and comprehensive character. But his fame as member of parliament was principally sustained at this period of his life by the extensive and admirable alterations which he effected in the criminal law. Romilly and Mackintosh had preceded him in the great work of reforming and humanizing the code of England. For his hand, however, was reserved the introduction of ameliorations which they had long toiled and struggled for in vain. The ministry through whose influence he was enabled to carry these reforms lost its chief in Lord Liverpool during the early part of the year 1827. When Mr. Canning undertook to form a government, Mr. Peel, the late Lord Eldon, the Duke of Wellington, and other eminent tories of that day, threw up office, and are said to have persecuted Mr. Canning with a degree of rancor far outstripping the legitimate bounds of political hostility. Lord George Bentinck said "they hounded to the death my illustrious relative"; and the ardor of his subsequent opposition to Sir Robert Peel evidently derived its intensity from a long cherished sense of the injuries supposed to have been inflicted upon Mr. Canning. It is the opinion of men not ill informed respecting the sentiments of Canning, that he considered Peel as his true political successor—as a statesman competent to the task of working out that large and liberal policy which he fondly hoped the tories might, however tardily, be induced to sanction. At all events, he is believed not to have entertained toward Mr. Peel any personal hostility, and to have stated during his short-lived tenure of office that that gentleman was the only member of his party who had not treated him with ingratitude and unkindness.
In January, 1828, the Wellington ministry took office and held it till November, 1830. Mr. Peel's reputation suffered during this period very rude shocks. He gave up, as already stated, his anti-Catholic principles, lost the force of twenty years' consistency, and under unheard-of disadvantages introduced the very measure he had spent so many years in opposing. The debates on Catholic emancipation, which preceded the great reform question, constitute a period in his life, which, twenty years ago, every one would have considered its chief and prominent feature. There can be no doubt that the course he then adopted demanded greater moral courage than at any previous period of his life he had been called upon to exercise. He believed himself incontestibly in the right; he believed, with the Duke of Wellington, that the danger of civil war was imminent, and that such an event was immeasurably a greater evil than surrendering the constitution of 1688. But he was called upon to snap asunder a parliamentary connection of twelve years with a great university, in which the most interesting period of his youth had been passed; to encounter the reproaches of adherents whom he had often led in well-fought contests against the advocates of what was termed "civil and religious liberty;" to tell the world that the character of public men for consistency, however precious, is not to be directly opposed to the common weal; and to communicate to many the novel as well as unpalatable truth that what they deemed "principle" must give way to what he called "expediency."
When he ceased to be a minister of the crown, that general movement throughout Europe which succeeded the deposition of the elder branch of the Bourbons rendered parliamentary reform as unavoidable as two years previously Catholic emancipation had been. He opposed this change, no doubt with increased knowledge and matured talents, but with impaired influence and few parliamentary followers. The history of the reform debates will show that Sir Robert Peel made many admirable speeches, which served to raise his reputation, but never for a moment turned the tide of fortune against his adversaries, and in the first session of the first reformed parliament he found himself at the head of a party that in numbers little exceeded one hundred. As soon as it was practicable he rallied his broken forces; either he or some of his political friends gave them the name of "Conservatives," and it required but a short interval of reflection and observation to prove to his sagacious intellect that the period of reaction was at hand. Every engine of party organization was put into vigorous activity, and before the summer of 1834 reached its close he was at the head of a compact, powerful, and well-disciplined opposition. Such a high impression of their vigor and efficiency had King William IV received, that when, in November, Lord Althorp became a peer, and the whigs therefore lost their leader to the House of Commons, his Majesty sent in Italy to summon Sir Robert Peel to his councils, with a view to the immediate formation of a conservative ministry. He accepted this responsibility, though he thought the King had mistaken the condition of the country and the chances of success which had awaited his political friends. A new House of Commons was instantly called, and for nearly three months Sir Robert Peel maintained a struggle against the most formidable opposition that for nearly a century any minister had been called to encounter. At no time did his command of temper, his almost exhaustless resources of information, his vigorous and comprehensive intellect appear to create such astonishment or draw forth such unbounded admiration as in the early part of 1835. But, after a well-fought contest he retired once more into the opposition till the close of the second Melbourne Administration in 1841. It was in April, 1835, that Lord Melbourne was restored to power, but the continued enjoyment of office did not much promote the political interests of his party, and from various causes the power of the whigs began to decline. The commencement of a new reign gave them some popularity, but in the new House of Commons, elected in consequence of that event, the conservative party were evidently gaining strength; still, after the failure of 1834-5, it was no easy task to dislodge an existing ministry, and at the same time to be prepared with a cabinet and a party competent to succeed them. Sir Robert Peel, therefore, with characteristic caution, "bided his time", conducting the business of opposition throughout the whole of this period with an ability and success of which history affords few examples. He had accepted the Reform Bill as the established law of England, and as the system upon which the country was thenceforward to be governed. He was willing to carry it out in its true spirit, but he would proceed no further. He marshaled his opposition upon the principle of resistance to any further organic changes, and he enlisted the majority of the peers and nearly the whole of the country gentlemen of England in support of the great principle of protection to British industry. The little maneuvres and small political intrigues of the period are almost forgotten, and the remembrance of them is scarcely worthy of revival. It may, however, be mentioned, that in 1839 ministers, being left in a minority, resigned, and Sir Robert Peel, when sent for by the Queen, demanded that certain ladies in the household of her majesty,—the near relatives of eminent whig politicians,—should be removed from the personal service of the sovereign. As this was refused, he abandoned for the time any attempt to form a government, and his opponents remained in office till September, 1841. It was then Sir Robert Peel became the first lord of the treasury, and the Duke of Wellington, without office, accepted a seat in the cabinet, taking the management of the House of Lords. His ministry was formed on protectionist principles, but the close of its career was marked by the adoption of free trade doctrines differing in the widest and most liberal sense. Sir Robert Peel's sense of public duty impelled him once more to incur the odium and obliquy which attended a fundamental change of policy, and a repudiation of the political partizans by whose ardent support a minister may have attained office and authority. It was his fate to encounter more than any man ever did, that hostility which such conduct, however necessary, never fails to produce. This great change in our commercial policy, however unavoidable, must be regarded as the proximate cause of his final expulsion from office in July, 1846. His administration, however, had been signalized by several measures of great political importance. Among the earliest and most prominent of these were his financial plans, the striking feature of which was an income-tax; greatly extolled for the exemption it afforded from other burdens pressing more severely on industry, but loudly condemned for its irregular and unequal operation, a vice which has since rendered its contemplated increase impossible.
Of the ministerial life of Sir Robert Peel little more remains to be related except that which properly belongs rather to the history of the country than to his individual biography. But it would be unjust to the memory of one of the most sagacious statesman that England ever produced to deny that his latest renunciation of political principles required but two short years to attest the vital necessity of that unqualified surrender. If the corn laws had been in existence at the period when the political system of the continent was shaken to its centre and dynasties crumbled into dust, a question would have been left in the hands of the democratic party of England, the force of which neither skill nor influence could then have evaded. Instead of broken friendships, shattered reputations for consistency, or diminished rents, the whole realm of England might have borne a fearful share in that storm of wreck and revolution which had its crisis in the 10th of April, 1848.
In the course of his long and eventful life many honors were conferred upon Sir Robert Peel. Wherever he went, and almost at all times, he attracted universal attention, and was always received with the highest consideration. At the close of 1836 the University of Glasgow elected him Lord Rector, and the conservatives of that city, in January, 1837, invited him to a banquet at which three thousand gentlemen assembled to do honor to their great political chief. But this was only one among many occasions on which he was "the great guest." Perhaps the most remarkable of these banquets was that given to him in 1835 at Merchant Tailors' Hall by three hundred members of the House of Commons. Many other circumstances might be related to illustrate the high position which Sir Robert Peel occupied. Anecdotes innumerable might be recorded to show the extraordinary influence in Parliament which made him "the great commoner" of the age; for Sir Robert Peel was not only a skillful and adroit debater, but by many degrees the most able and one of the most eloquent men in either house of parliament. Nothing could be more stately or imposing than the long array of sounding periods in which he expounded his doctrines, assailed his political adversaries, or vindicated his own policy. But when the whole land laments his loss, when England mourns the untimely fate of one of her noblest sons, the task of critical disquisition upon literary attainments or public oratory possesses little attraction. It may be left for calmer moments, and a more distant time, to investigate with unforgiving justice the sources of his errors, or to estimate the precise value of services which the public is now disposed to regard with no other feelings than those of unmingled gratitude.
* * * * *
FROM THE ART-JOURNAL.
MEMORIES OF MISS JANE PORTER.
BY MRS. S.C. HALL.
The frequent observation of foreigners is, that in England we have few "celebrated women." Perhaps they mean that we have few who are "notorious;" but let us admit that in either case they are right; and may we not express our belief in its being better for women and for the community that such is the case. "Celebrity" rarely adds to the happiness of a woman, and almost as rarely increases her usefulness. The time and attention required to attain "celebrity," must, except under very peculiar circumstances, interfere with the faithful discharge of those feminine duties upon which the well-doing of society depends, and which shed so pure a halo around our English homes. Within these "homes" our heroes, statesmen, philosophers, men of letters, men of genius, receive their first impressions, and the impetus to a faithful discharge of their after callings as Christian subjects of the State.
There are few of such men who do not trace back their resolution, their patriotism, their wisdom, their learning—the nourishment of all their higher aspirations—to a wise, hopeful, loving-hearted and faith-inspired Mother; one who believed in a son's destiny to be great; it may be, impelled to such belief rather by instinct than by reason: who cherished (we can find no better word) the "Hero-feeling" of devotion to what was right; though it might have been unworldly; and whose deep heart welled up perpetual love and patience toward the overboiling faults and frequent stumblings of a hot youth, which she felt would mellow into a fruitful manhood.
The strength and glory of England are in the keeping of the wives and mothers of its men; and when we are questioned touching our "celebrated women", we may in general terms refer to those who have watched over, moulded, and inspired our "celebrated men".
Happy is the country where the laws of God and Nature are held in reverence—where each sex fulfills its peculiar duties, and renders its sphere a sanctuary! And surely such harmony is blessed by the Almighty—for while other nations writhe in anarchy and poverty, our own spreads wide her arms to receive all who seek protection or need repose.
But if we have few "celebrated" women, few who, impelled either by circumstances or the irrepressible restlessness of genius, go forth amid the pitfalls of publicity, and battle with the world, either as poets, or dramatists, or moralists, or mere tale-tellers in simple prose—or, more dangerous still, "hold the mirror up to nature" on the stage that mimics life—if we have but few, we have, and have had some, of whom we are justly proud; women of such well-balanced minds, that toil they ever so laboriously in their public and perilous paths, their domestic and social duties have been fulfilled with as diligent and faithful love as though the world had never been purified and enriched by the treasures of their feminine wisdom; yet this does not shake our belief, that despite the spotless and well-earned reputations they enjoyed, the homage they received, (and it has its charm,) and even the blessed consciousness of having contributed to the healthful recreation, the improved morality, the diffusion of the best sort of knowledge—the woman would have been happier had she continued enshrined in the privacy of domestic love and domestic duty. She may not think this at the commencement of her career; and at its termination, if she has lived sufficiently long to have descended, even gracefully, from her pedestal, she may often recall the homage of the past to make up for its lack in the present. But so perfectly is woman constituted for the cares, the affections, the duties—the blessed duties of un-public life—that if she give nature way it will whisper to her a text, that "celebrity never added to the happiness of a true woman". She must look for her happiness to HOME. We would have young women ponder over this, and watch carefully, ere the veil is lifted, and the hard cruel eye of public criticism fixed upon them. No profession is pastime; still less so now than ever, when so many people are "clever", though so few are great. We would pray those especially who direct their thoughts to literature, to think of what they have to say, and why they wish to say it; and above all, to weigh what they may expect from a capricious public, against the blessed shelter and pure harmonies of private life.
But we have had some—and still have some—"celebrated" women, of whom we have said "we may be justly proud". We have done pilgrimage to the shrine of Lady Rachel Russell, who was so thoroughly "domestic", that the Corinthian beauty of her character would never have been matter of history, but for the wickedness of a bad king. We have recorded the hours spent with Hannah More; the happy days passed with, and the years invigorated by, the advice and influence of Maria Edgworth. We might recall the stern and faithful puritanism of Maria Jane Jewsbury, and the Old World devotion of the true and high-souled daughter of Israel—Grace Aguilar. The mellow tones of Felicia Hemans' poetry lingers still among all who appreciate the holy sympathies of religion and virtue. We could dwell long and profitably on the enduring patience and lifelong labor of Barbara Hofland, and steep a diamond in tears to record the memories of L.E.L. We could,—alas! alas! barely five and twenty years' acquaintance with literature and its ornaments, and the brilliant catalogue is but a Memento Mori. Perhaps of all this list, Maria Edgworth's life was the happiest: simply because she was the most retired, the least exposed to the gaze and observation of the world, the most occupied by loving duties toward the most united circle of old and young we ever saw assembled in one happy home.
The very young have never, perhaps, read one of the tales of a lady whose reputation as a novelist was in its zenith when Walter Scott published his first novel. We desire to place a chaplet upon the grave of a woman once "celebrated" all over the known world, yet who drew all her happiness from the lovingness of home and friends, while her life was as pure as her renown was extensive.
In our own childhood romance-reading was prohibited, but earnest entreaty procured an exception in favor of the "Scottish Chiefs". It was the bright summer, and we read it by moonlight, only disturbed by the murmur of the distant ocean. We read it, crouched in the deep recess of the nursery-window; we read it until moonlight and morning met, and the breakfast-bell ringing out into the soft air from the old gable, found us at the end of the fourth volume. Dear old times! when it would have been deemed little less than sacrilege to crush a respectable romance into a shilling volume, and our mammas considered only a five-volume story curtailed of its just proportions.
Sir William Wallace has never lost his heroic ascendancy over us, and we have steadily resisted every temptation to open the "popular edition" of the long-loved romance, lest what people will call "the improved state of the human mind", might displace the sweet memory of the mingled admiration and indignation that chased each other, while we read and wept, without ever questioning the truth of the absorbing narrative.
Yet the "Scottish Chiefs" scarcely achieved the popularity of "Thaddeus of Warsaw"—the first romance originated by the active brain and singularly constructive power of Jane Porter—produced at an almost girlish age.
The hero of "Thaddeus of Warsaw" was really Kosciuszko, the beloved pupil of George Washington, the grandest and purest patriot the modern world has known. The enthusiastic girl was moved to its composition by the stirring times in which she lived, and a personal observation of and acquaintance with some of those brave men whose struggles for liberty only ceased with their exile or their existence.
Miss Porter placed her standard of excellence on high ground, and—all gentle-spirited as was her nature—it was firm and unflinching toward what she believed the right and true. We must not therefore judge her by the depressed state of "feeling" in these times, when its demonstration is looked upon as artificial or affected. Toward the termination of the last, and the commencement of the present century, the world was roused into an interest and enthusiasm, which now we can scarcely appreciate or account for; the sympathies of England were awakened by the terrible revolutions of France and the desolation of Poland; as a principle, we hated Napoleon, though he had neither act nor part in the doings of the democrats; and the sea-songs of Dibdin, which our youth now would call uncouth and ungraceful rhymes, were key-notes to public feeling; the English of that time were thoroughly "awake"—the British Lion had not slumbered through a thirty years' peace. We were a nation of soldiers, and sailors, and patriots; not of mingled cotton-spinners, and railway speculators, and angry protectionists. We do not say which state of things is best or worst, we desire merely to account for what may be called the taste for heroic literature at that time, and the taste for—we really hardly know what to call it—literature of the present, made up, as it too generally is, of shreds and patches—bits of gold and bits of tinsel—things written in a hurry, to be read in a hurry, and never thought of afterward—suggestive rather than reflective, at the best: and we must plead guilty to a too great proneness to underrate what our fathers probably overrated.
At all events we must bear in mind, while reading or thinking over Miss Porter's novels, that in her day, even the exaggeration of enthusiasm was considered good tone and good taste. How this enthusiasm was fostered, not subdued, can be gathered by the author's ingenious preface to the, we believe, tenth edition of "Thaddeus of Warsaw."
This story brought her abundant honors, and rendered her society, as well as the society of her sister and brother, sought for by all who aimed at a reputation for taste and talent. Mrs. Porter, on her husband's death, (he was the younger son of a well-connected Irish family, born in Ireland, in or near Coleraine, we believe, and a major in the Enniskillen Dragoons,) sought a residence for her family in Edinburgh, where education and good society are attainable to persons of moderate fortunes, if they are "well-born;" but the extraordinary artistic skill of her son Robert required a wider field, and she brought her children to London sooner than she had intended, that his promising talents might be cultivated. We believe the greater part of "Thaddeus of Warsaw" was written in London, either in St. Martin's Lane, Newport Street, or Gerard Street, Soho, (for in these three streets the family lived after their arrival in the metropolis); though, as soon as Robert Ker Porter's abilities floated him on the stream, his mother and sisters retired, in the brightness of their fame and beauty, to the village of Thames Ditton, a residence they loved to speak of as their "home." The actual labor of "Thaddeus"—her first novel—must have been considerable: for testimony was frequently borne to the fidelity of its localities, and Poles refused to believe the author had not visited Poland; indeed, she had a happy power in describing localities. It was on the publication of Miss Porter's two first works in the German language that their author was honored by being made a Lady of the Chapter of St. Joachim, and received the gold cross of the order from Wurtemberg; but "The Scottish Chiefs" was never so popular on the Continent as "Thaddeus of Warsaw", although Napoleon honored it with an interdict, to prevent its circulation in France. If Jane Porter owed her Polish inspirations so peculiarly to the tone of the times in which she lived, she traces back, in her introduction to the latest edition of "The Scottish Chiefs." her enthusiasm in the cause of Sir William Wallace to the influence an old "Scotch wife's" tales and ballads produced upon her mind while in early childhood. She wandered amid what she describes as "beautiful green banks," which rose in natural terraces behind her mothers house, and where a cow and a few sheep occasionally fed. This house stood alone, at the head of a little square, near the high school; the distinguished Lord Elchies formerly lived in the house, which was very ancient, and from those green banks it commanded a fine view of the Firth of Forth. While gathering "gowans" or other wild-flowers for her infant sister, (whom she loved more dearly than her life, during the years they lived in most tender and affectionate companionship), she frequently encountered this aged woman, with her knitting in her hand; and she would speak to the eager and intelligent child of the blessed quiet of the land, where the cattle were browsing without fear of an enemy; and then she would talk of the awful times of the brave Sir William Wallace, when he fought for Scotland, "against a cruel tyrant; like unto them whom Abraham overcame when he recovered Lot, with all his herds and flocks, from the proud foray of the robber kings of the South," who, she never failed to add, "were all rightly punished for oppressing the stranger in a foreign land! for the Lord careth for the stranger." Miss Porter says that this woman never omitted mingling pious allusions with her narrative. "Yet she was a person of low degree, dressed in a coarse woollen gown, and a plain Mutch cap, clasped under the chin with a silver brooch, which her father had worn at the battle of Culloden." Of course she filled with tales of Sir William Wallace and the Bruce the listening ears of the lovely Saxon child, who treasured them in her heart and brain, until they fructified in after years into "The Scottish Chiefs." To these two were added "The Pastor's Fireside," and a number of other tales and romances. She contributed to several annuals and magazines, and always took pains to keep up the reputation she had won, achieving a large share of the popularity, to which, as an author, she never looked for happiness. No one could be more alive to praise or more grateful for attention, but the heart of a genuine, pure, loving woman, beat within Jane Porter's bosom, and she was never drawn out of her domestic circle by the flattery that has spoiled so many, men as well as women. Her mind was admirably balanced by her home affections, which remained unsullied and unshaken to the end of her days. She had, in common with her three brothers and her charming sister, the advantage of a wise and loving mother—a woman pious without cant, and worldly-wise without being worldly. Mrs. Porter was born at Durham, and when very young bestowed her hand and heart on Major Porter. An old friend of the family assures us that two or three of their children were born in Ireland, and that certainly Jane was amongst the number. Although she left Ireland when in early youth, perhaps almost an infant, she certainly must be considered Irish, as her father was so both by birth and descent, and esteemed during his brief life as a brave and generous gentleman. He died young, leaving his lovely widow in straitened circumstances, having only her widow's pension to depend on. The eldest son—afterward Colonel Porter—was sent to school by his grandfather.
We have glanced briefly at Sir Robert Ker Porter's wonderful talents, and Anna Maria, when in her twelfth year, rushed, as Jane acknowledged, "prematurely into print." Of Anna Maria we knew personally but very little, enough however to recall with a pleasant memory her readiness in conversation and her bland and cheerful manners. No two sisters could have been more different in bearing and appearance; Maria was a delicate blonde, with a riant face, and an animated manner—we had said almost peculiarly Irish—rushing at conclusions, where her more thoughtful and careful sister paused to consider and calculate. The beauty of Jane was statuesque, her deportment serious yet cheerful, a seriousness quite as natural as her younger sister's gaiety; they both labored diligently, but Anna Maria's labor was sport when compared to her eldest sister's careful toil; Jane's mind was of a more lofty order, she was intense, and felt more than she said, while Anna Maria often said more than she felt; they were a delightful contrast, and yet the harmony between them was complete; and one of the happiest days we ever spent, while trembling on the threshold of literature, was with them at their pretty road-side cottage in the village of Esher before the death of their venerable and dearly beloved mother, whose rectitude and prudence had both guided and sheltered their youth, and who lived to reap with them the harvest of their industry and exertion. We remember the drive there, and the anxiety as to how those very "clever ladies" would look, and what they would say; we talked over the various letters we had received from Jane, and thought of the cordial invitation to their cottage—their "mother's cottage"—as they always called it. We remember the old white friendly spaniel who looked at us with blinking eyes, and preceded us up stairs; we remember the formal old-fashioned courtesy of the venerable old lady, who was then nearly eighty—the blue ribands and good-natured frankness of Anna Maria, and the noble courtesy of Jane, who received visitors as if she granted an audience; this manner was natural to her; it was only the manner of one whose thoughts have dwelt more upon heroic deeds, and lived more with heroes than with actual living men and women; the effect of this, however, soon passed away, but not so the fascination which was in all she said and did. Her voice was soft and musical, and her conversation addressed to one person rather than to the company at large, while Maria talked rapidly to every one, or for every one who chose to listen. How happily the hours passed!—we were shown some of those extraordinary drawings of Sir Robert, who gained an artists reputation before he was twenty, and attracted the attention of West and Shee in his mere boyhood. We heard all the interesting particulars of his panoramic picture of the Storming of Seringapatam, which, the first of its class, was known half over the world. We must not, however, be misunderstood—there was neither personal nor family egotism in the Porters; they invariably spoke of each other with the tenderest affection—but unless the conversation was forced by their friends—they never mentioned their own, or each other's works, while they were most ready to praise what was excellent in the works of others; they spoke with pleasure of their sojourns in London; while their mother said, it was much wiser and better for young ladies who were not rich, to live quietly in the country, and escape the temptations of luxury and display. At that time the "young ladies" seemed to us certainly not young: that was about two-and-twenty years ago, and Jane Porter was seventy-five when she died. They talked much of their previous dwelling at Thames Ditton, of the pleasant neighborhood they enjoyed there, though their mother's health and their own had much improved since their residence on Esher hill; their little garden was bounded at the back by the beautiful park of Claremont, and the front of the house overlooked the leading roads, broken as they are by the village green, and some noble elms. The view is crowned by the high trees of Esher Place; opening from the village on that side of the brow of the hill. Jane pointed out the locale of the proud Cardinal Wolsey's domain, inhabited during the days: of his power over Henry VIII., and in their cloudy evening, when that capricious monarch's favor changed to bitterest hate. It was the very spot to foster her high romance, while she could at the same time enjoy the sweets of that domestic converse she loved best of all. We were prevented by the occupations and heart-beatings of our own literary labors from repeating this visit; and in 1831, four years after these well-remembered hours, the venerable mother of a family so distinguished in literature and art, rendering their names known and honored wherever art and letters flourish, was called HOME. The sisters, who had resided ten years at Esher, left it, intending to sojourn for a time with their second brother, Doctor Porter, (who commenced his career as a surgeon in the navy) in Bristol; but within a year the youngest, the light-spirited, bright-hearted Anna Maria died; her sister was dreadfully shaken by her loss, and the letters we received from her after this bereavement, though containing the outpourings of a sorrowing spirit, were full of the certainty of that re-union hereafter which became the hope of her life. She soon resigned her cottage home at Esher, and found the affectionate welcome she so well deserved in many homes, where friends vied with each other to fill the void in her sensitive heart. She was of too wise a nature, and too sympathizing a habit, to shut out new interests and affections, but her old ones never withered, nor were they ever replaced; were the love of such a sister-friend—the watchful tenderness and uncompromising love of a mother—ever "replaced," to a lonely sister or a bereaved daughter! Miss Porters pen had been laid aside for some time, when suddenly she came before the world as the editor of "Sir Edward Seward's Narrative", and set people hunting over old atlases to find out the island where he resided. The whole was a clever fiction; yet Miss Porter never confided its authorship, we believe, beyond her family circle; perhaps the correspondence and documents, which are in the hands of one of her kindest friends (her executor), Mr. Shepherd, may throw some light upon a subject which the "Quarterly" honored by an article. We think the editor certainly used her pen as well as her judgment in the work, and we have imagined that it might have been written by the family circle, more in sport than in earnest, and then produced to serve a double purpose.
[Footnote 2: In his early days the President of the Royal Academy painted a very striking portrait of Jane Porter, as "Miranda," and Harlowe painted her in the canoness dress of the order of St. Joachim.]
After her sister's death Miss Jane Porter was afflicted with so severe an illness, that we, in common with her other friends, thought it impossible she could carry out her plan of journeying to St. Petersburgh to visit her brother, Sir Robert Ker Porter, who had been long united to a Russian princess, and was then a widower; her strength was fearfully reduced; her once round figure become almost spectral, and little beyond the placid and dignified expression of her noble countenance remained to tell of her former beauty; but her resolve was taken; she wished, she said, to see once more her youngest and most beloved brother, so distinguished in several careers, almost deemed incompatible,—as a painter, an author, a soldier, and a diplomatist, and nothing could turn her from her purpose: she reached St. Petersburgh in safety, and with apparently improved health, found her brother as much courted and beloved there as in his own land, and his daughter married to a Russian of high distinction. Sir Robert longed to return to England. He did not complain of any illness, and everything was arranged for their departure; his final visits were paid, all but one to the Emperor, who had ever treated him as a friend; the day before his intended journey he went to the palace, was graciously received, and then drove home, but when the servant opened the carriage-door at his own residence he was dead! One sorrow after another pressed heavily upon her; yet she was still the same sweet, gentle, holy-minded woman she had ever been, bending with Christian faith to the will of the Almighty,—"biding her time".
How differently would she have "watched and waited" had she been tainted by vanity, or fixed her soul on the mere triumphs of "literary reputation". While firm to her own creed, she fully enjoyed the success of those who scramble up—where she bore the standard to the heights of Parnassus; she was never more happy than when introducing some literary "Tyro" to those who could aid or advise a future career. We can speak from experience of the warm interest she took in the Hospital for the cure of Consumption, and the Governesses' Benevolent Institution; during the progress of the latter, her health was painfully feeble, yet she used her personal influence for its success, and worked with her own hands for its bazaars. She was ever aiding those who could not aid themselves; and all her thoughts, words, and deeds, were evidence of her clear, powerful mind and kindly loving heart; her appearance in the London coteries was always hailed with interest and pleasure; to the young she was especially affectionate; but it was in the quiet mornings, or in the long twilight evenings of summer, when visiting her cherished friends at Shirley Park, in Kensington Square, or wherever she might be located for the time—it was then that her former spirit revived, and she poured forth anecdote and illustration, and the store of many years' observation, filtered by experience and purified by that delightful faith to which she held,—that "all things work together for good to them that love the Lord". She held this in practice, even more than in theory; you saw her chastened yet hopeful spirit beaming forth from her gentle eyes, and her sweet smile can never be forgotten. The last time we saw her, was about two years ago—in Bristol—at her brother's, Dr. Porter's, house in Portland Square: then she could hardly stand without assistance, yet she never complained of her own suffering or feebleness, all her anxiety was about the brother—then dangerously ill, and now the last of "his race." Major Porter, it will be remembered, left five children, and these have left only one descendant—the daughter of Sir Robert Ker Porter and the Russian Princess whom he married, a young Russian lady, whose present name we do not even know.
We did not think at our last leave-taking that Miss Porter's fragile frame could have so long withstood the Power that takes away all we hold most dear; but her spirit was at length summoned, after a few days' total insensibility, on the 24th of May.
We were haunted by the idea that the pretty cottage at Esher, where we spent those happy hours, had been treated even as "Mrs. Porter's Arcadia" at Thames Ditton—now altogether removed; and it was with a melancholy pleasure we found it the other morning in nothing changed; and it was almost impossible to believe that so many years had passed since our last visit. While Mr. Fairholt was sketching the cottage, we knocked at the door, and were kindly permitted by two gentle sisters, who now inhabit it, to enter the little drawing-room and walk round the garden: except that the drawing-room has been re-papered and painted, and that there were no drawings and no flowers the room was not in the least altered; yet to us it seemed like a sepulcher, and we rejoiced to breathe the sweet air of the little garden, and listen to a nightingale, whose melancholy cadence harmonized with our feelings.
"Whenever you are at Esher," said the devoted daughter, the last time we conversed with her, "do visit my mother's tomb." We did so. A cypress flourishes at the head of the grave; and the following touching inscription is carved on the stone:—
Here sleeps in Jesus a Christian widow, JANE PORTER. Obiit June 18th, 1831, aetat. 86; the beloved mother of W. Porter, M.D., of Sir Robert Ker Porter, and of Jane and Anna Maria Porter, who mourn in hope, humbly trusting to be born again with her unto the blessed kingdom of their Lord and Savior. Respect her grave, for she ministered to the poor.
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MR. KIRBY, THE ENTOMOLOGIST.
The Rev. William Kirby, Rector of Barham, Suffolk, who died on the 4th ult. in the ninety-first year of his age, with his faculties little impaired, ranked as the father of Entomology in England; and to the successful results of his labors may he chiefly attributed the advance which has been made in this over other kindred departments of natural history. His reputation is based not so much on the discoveries made by him in the science as on the manner of its teaching. No man ever approached the study of the works of nature with a purer or more earnest zeal. His interpretation of the distinguishing characters of insects for the purposes of classification has excited the warmest approval of entomologists at home and abroad; while his agreeable narrative of their wonderful transformations and habits, teeming with analyses and anecdote, has a charm for almost every kind of reader.
Mr. Kirby's first work of particular note was the "Monographia Apum Angliae", in two volumes published half a century ago at Ipswich; to which town he was much endeared, and in whose Museum, as President, under the friendly auspices of its Secretary, Mr. George Ransome, he took a lively interest. His admirable work on the Wild Bees of Great Britain was composed from materials collected almost entirely by himself,—and most of the plates were of his etching. Entomology was at that time a comparatively new science in this country, and it is an honorable proof of the correctness of the author's views that they are still acknowledged to be genuine.
His further progress in entomology is abundantly marked by various papers in the "Transactions of the Linnaean Society",—by the entomological portion of the Bridgewater Treatise "On the History, Habits, and Instincts of Animals,"—and by his descriptions, occupying a quarto volume, of the insects of Sir John Richardson's "Fauna Boreali-Americana." The name of Kirby will, however, be chiefly remembered for the "Introduction on Entomology" written by him in conjunction with Mr. Spence. In this work a vast amount of material, acquired after many years' unremitting observation of the insect world, is mingled together by two different but congenial minds in the pleasant form of familiar letters. The charm, based on substantial knowledge of the subject, which these letters impart, has caused them to be studied with an interest never before excited by any work on natural history,—and they have served for the model of many an interesting and instructive volume. Whether William Kirby or William Spence had the more meritorious share in the composition of these Letters, has never been ascertained; for each, in the plenitude of his esteem and love for the other, renounced all claim, in favor of his coadjutor, to whatever portion of the matter might be most valued.
In addition to the honor of being President of the Museum of his county town—in which there is an admirable portrait of him—Mr. Kirby was Honorary President of the Entomological Society of London, Fellow of the Royal, Linnaean, Geological, and Zoological Societies of the same city, and corresponding member of several foreign societies.
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The death of REV. DR. GRAY, Professor of Oriental Languages in the University of Glasgow, is reported in the Scotch papers.
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THE FINE ARTS.
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One of the favorite painters of Paris is Ingres, renowned especially for the beauty of his designs from the human figure, and the sweetness of his coloring. Eight years ago he was commissioned by M. de Luynes, who then wore the title of Duke—which, it must be said, he is still called by, though the Republic frowns on such aristocratic distinctions—to paint two historical pictures in fresco, for a country-house near Paris. The subjects were left to the choice of the artist, who was to have 100,000 francs (or L20,000) for the two pictures, one quarter of which was paid him in advance. During these eight years Mr. Ingres has begun various designs, and done his best to satisfy himself in the planning and execution of the pictures; but in vain did he blot out one design and labor long and earnestly upon another—success still fled from his pencil. At last, after eight years' fruitless exertion, he despaired, and going to M. de Luynes, told him that he could not make the pictures. At the same time he offered to return the L5,000; but M. de Luynes, one of the most munificent gentlemen in France, refused to receive it. Madame Ingres, however, arranged the difficulty. She remembered that during these eight years her kitchen had been regularly supplied with vegetables from M. de Luynes' garden, and these she insisted on paying for. "Very well," said M. de Luynes, "if you will have it so, my gardener shall bring you his bill." Accordingly, not long after, the gardener brought a bill for twenty-five francs. "My friend," said Madame Ingres to him, "you are mistaken in the amount: this is very natural, considering the length of the time. I have a better memory: your master will find in this envelope the exact sum." When M. de Luynes opened the envelope, he found in it bills for twenty thousand francs.
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LESTER, BRADY & DAVIGNON's "Gallery of Illustrious Americans," is very favorably noticed generally by the foreign critics. The Art Journal says of it: "This work is, as its title imports, of a strictly national character, consisting of portraits and biographical sketches of twenty-four of the most eminent of the citizens of the Republic, since the death of Washington; beautifully lithographed from daguerreotypes. Each number is devoted to a portrait and memoir, the first being that of General Taylor (eleventh President of the United States), the second, of John C. Calhoun. Certainly, we have never seen more truthful copies of nature than these portraits; they carry in them an indelible stamp of all that earnestness and power for which our trans-Atlantic brethren have become famous, and are such heads as Lavater would have delighted to look upon. They are, truly, speaking likenesses, and impress all who see them with the certainty of their accuracy, so self-evident is their character. We are always rejoiced to notice a great nation doing honor to its great men; it is a noble duty which when properly done honors all concerned therewith. We see no reason to doubt that America may in this instance rank with the greatest."
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DR. WAAGEN, so well known for his writings on Art, is at present in England for the purpose of adding to his knowledge of the private collection of pictures there, but principally to make himself acquainted with ancient illuminated manuscripts in several British collections.
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A MONUMENT IN HONOR OF COWPER, THE POET, is proposed to be erected in Westminster Abbey, from a design by Marshall, the Sculptor, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1849.
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THE FOURTH BOOK OF WORDSWORTH'S UNPUBLISHED POEM.
Bright was the summer's noon when quickening steps Followed each other till a dreary moor Was crossed, a bare ridge clomb, upon whose top Standing alone, as from a rampart's edge, I overlooked the bed of Windermere, Like a vast river, stretching in the sun. With exultation at my feet I saw Lake, islands, promontories, gleaming bays, A universe of Nature's fairest forms Proudly revealed with instantaneous burst, Magnificent, and beautiful, and gay. I bounded down the hill shouting amain For the old Ferryman; to the shout the rocks Replied, and when the Charon of the flood Had stayed his oars, and touched the jutting pier, I did not step into the well-known boat Without a cordial greeting. Thence with speed Up the familiar hill I took my way Toward that sweet Valley where I had been reared; 'Twas but a shore hour's walk, ere veering round I saw the snow-white church upon her hill Sit like a throned Lady, sending out A gracious look all over her domain. You azure smoke betrays the lurking town; With eager footsteps I advance and reach The cottage threshold where my journey closed. Glad welcome had I, with some tear, perhaps, From my old Dame, so kind and motherly, While she perused me with a parent's pride. The thoughts of gratitude shall fall like dew Upon thy grave, good creature! While my heart Can beat never will I forget they name. Heaven's blessing be upon thee where thou liest After thy innocent and busy stir In narrow cares, thy little daily growth Of calm enjoyments, after eighty years, And more than eighty, of untroubled life, Childless, yet by the strangers to thy blood Honored with little less than filial love. What joy was mine to see thee once again, Thee and they dwelling, and a crowd of things About its narrow precincts all beloved, And many of them seeming yet my own! Why should I speak of what a thousand hearts Have felt, and every man alive can guess? The rooms, the court, the garden were not left Long unsaluted, nor the sunny seat Round the stone table under the dark pine, Friendly to studious or to festive hours; Nor that unruly child of mountain birth, The famous brook, who, soon as he was boxed Within our garden, found himself at once, As if by trick insidious and unkind, Stripped of his voice and left to dimple down (Without an effort and without a will) A channel paved by man's officious care. I looked at him and smiled, and smiled again, And in the press of twenty thousand thought, "Ha," quoth I, "pretty prisoner, are you there!" Well might sarcastic Fancy then have whispered, "An emblem here behold of they own life; In its late course of even days with all Their smooth enthralment;" but the heart was full, Too full for that reproach. My aged Dame Walked proudly at my side: she guided me; I willing, nay—nay, wishing to be led. —The face of every neighbor whom I met Was like a volume to me; some were hailed Upon the road, some busy at their work, Unceremonious greetings interchanged With half the length of a long field between. Among my schoolfellows I scattered round Like recognitions, but with some constraint Attended, doubtless, with a little pride, But with more shame, for my habiliments, The transformation wrought by gay attire. Not less delighted did I take my place At our domestic table: and, dear Friend! In this endeavor simply to relate A Poet's history, may I leave untold The thankfulness with which I laid me down In my accustomed bed, more welcome now Perhaps than if it had been more desired Or been more often thought of with regret; That lowly bed whence I had heard the wind Roar and the rain beat hard, where I so oft Had lain awake on summer nights to watch The moon in splendor couched among the leaves Of a tall ash, that near our cottage stood; Had watched her with fixed eyes while to and fro In the dark summit of the waving tree She rocked with every impulse of the breeze. Among the favorites whom it pleased me well To see again, was one by ancient right Our inmate, a rough terrier of the hills; By birth and call of nature pre-ordained To hunt the badger and unearth the fox Among the impervious crags, but having been From youth our own adopted, he had passed Into a gentler service. And when first The boyish spirit flagged, and day by day Along my veins I kindled with the stir, The fermentation, and the vernal heat Of poesy, affecting private shades Like a sick Lover, then this dog was used To watch me, an attendant and a friend, Obsequious to my steps early and late, Though often of such dilatory walk Tired, and uneasy at the halts I made. A hundred times when, roving high and low, I have been harassed with the toil of verse, Much pains and little progress, and at once Some lovely Image in the song rose up Full-formed, like Venus rising from the sea; Then have I darted forward to let loose