THE MIRROR OF LITERATURE, AMUSEMENT, AND INSTRUCTION.
VOL. 10, No. 288.] SUPPLEMENTARY NUMBER. [PRICE 2d.
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The Return of a Victorious Armament to a Greek City.
SPIRIT OF "THE ANNUALS" FOR 1828.
Our readers have annually anticipated a high treat from this splendid intellectual banquet, served up by some of the master spirits of the age.
 We hope this epithet will not be considered ungallant—for, to say the truth, the ladies have contributed the best poetical portion of the feast. This display of female talent has increased in brilliancy year after year: and the Lords should look to it.
We doubt whether the comparison is refined enough for the fair authoresses; but our fancy has led us to class their contributions to the present feast as follow:—
Hock—Champagne, (Still and Sparkling.)
Miss Mitford. Bernard Barton.
Mrs. Hemans. Watts. Delta.
with a due proportion of vin ordinaire. This comparison may be pleasant enough as after-dinner chat, but we fear our readers will think it like cooks circulating the Bills of Fare on the morning of Lord Mayor's Day; and lest we should incur their displeasure, we shall proceed with our select course: but we are mere disposers.
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THE LITERARY SOUVENIR.
In literary talent, as well as in graphic beauty, this elegant volume stands first; and from it we have selected the subject of the above engraving, accompanied by the following
ANCIENT SONG OF VICTORY.
BY MRS. HEMANS.
Fill high the bowl, with Samian wine, Our virgins dance beneath the shade.
Lo! they come, they come! Garlands for every shrine! Strike lyres to greet them home; Bring roses, pour ye wine!
Swell, swell the Dorian flute Thro' the blue, triumphal sky! Let the Cittern's tone salute The Sons of Victory!
With the offering of bright blood, They have ransomed earth and tomb, Vineyard, and field, and flood;— Lo! they come, they come!
Sing it where olives wave, And by the glittering sea, And o'er each hero's grave,— Sing, sing, the land is free!
Mark ye the flashing oars, And the spears that light the deep! How the festal sunshine pours Where the lords of battle sweep!
Each hath brought back his shield,— Maid, greet thy lover home! Mother, from that proud field, Lo! thy son is come!
Who murmured of the dead? Hush, boding voice! we know That many a shining head Lies in its glory low.
Breathe not those names to-day! They shall have their praise ere long, And a power all hearts to sway In ever-burning song.
But now shed flowers, pour wine, To hail the conquerors home! Bring wreaths for every shrine— Lo! they come, they come!
The original engraving is by Edward Goodall, from a painting by William Linton, Esq. It is altogether a rich and glorious composition, at this moment too, glowing with more than pictorial interest; and the carmen triumphale of the poetess is a worthy accompaniment. Among the other engravings the frontispiece and opposite page of this work are extremely rich and beautiful: Psyche borne by the Zephyrs to the Island of Pleasure, is full of languishing beauty; Medora, painted by Pickersgill and engraved by Rolls, is a delightfully placid moonlight scene; the Declaration, easy and graceful: there are, however, in our opinion, two decided failures in the volume, which, for the credit of the artists, had better been omitted. Our present notices of the literary department must be confined to the following selection:
THE CITY OF THE DEMONS.
By William Maginn, Esq.
In days of yore, there lived in the flourishing city of Cairo, a Hebrew Rabbi, by name Jochorian, who was the most learned of his nation. His fame went over the East, and the most distant people sent their young men to imbibe wisdom from his lips. He was deeply skilled in the traditions of the fathers, and his word on a disputed point was decisive. He was pious, just, temperate, and strict; but he had one vice—a love of gold had seized upon his heart, and he opened not his hand to the poor. Yet he was wealthy above most, his wisdom being to him the source of riches. The Hebrews of the city were grieved at this blemish on the wisest of their people; but though the elders of the tribes continued to reverence him for his fame, the women and children of Cairo called him by no other name than that of Rabbi Jochonan the miser.
None knew, so well as he, the ceremonies necessary for initiation into the religion of Moses; and, consequently, the exercise of those solemn offices was to him another source of gain. One day, as he walked in the fields about Cairo, conversing with a youth on the interpretation of the law, it so happened, that the angel of death smote the young man suddenly, and he fell dead before the feet of the Rabbi, even while he was yet speaking. When the Rabbi found that the youth was dead, he rent his garments, and glorified the Lord. But his heart was touched, and the thoughts of death troubled him in the visions of the night. He felt uneasy when he reflected on his hardness to the poor, and he said, "Blessed be the name of the Lord! The first good thing that I am asked to do in that holy name, will I perform."—But he sighed, for he feared that some one might ask of him a portion of his gold.
While yet he thought upon these things, there came a loud cry at his gate.
"Awake, thou sleeper!" said the voice; "Awake! A child is in danger of death, and the mother hath sent me for thee that thou may'st do thine office."
"The night is dark and gloomy," said the Rabbi, coming to his casement, "and mine age is great; are there not younger men than I in Cairo?"
"For thee only, Rabbi Jochonan, whom some call the wise, but whom others call Rabbi Jochonan the miser, was I sent. Here is gold," said he, taking out a purse of sequins—"I want not thy labour for nothing. I adjure thee to come, in the name of the living God."
So the Rabbi thought upon the vow he had just made, and he groaned in spirit, for the purse sounded heavy.
"As thou hast adjured me by that name, I go with thee," said he to the man, "but I hope the distance is not far. Put up thy gold."
"The place is at hand," said the stranger, who was a gallant youth, in magnificent attire. "Be speedy, for time presses."
Jochonan arose, dressed himself, and accompanied the stranger, after having carefully locked up all the doors of his house, and deposited his keys in a secret place—at which the stranger smiled.
"I never remember," said the Rabbi, "so dark a night. Be thou to me as a guide, for I can hardly see the way."
"I know it well," replied the stranger with a sigh, "it is a way much frequented, and travelled hourly by many; lean upon mine arm and fear not."
They journeyed on; and though the darkness was great, yet the Rabbi could see, when it occasionally brightened, that he was in a place strange to him. "I thought," said he, "I knew all the country for leagues about Cairo, yet I know not where I am. I hope, young man," said he to his companion, "that thou hast not missed the way;" and his heart misgave him.
"Fear not," returned the stranger. "Your journey is even now done," and, as he spoke, the feet of the Rabbi slipped from under him, and he rolled down a great height. When he recovered, he found that his companion had fallen also, and stood by his side.
"Nay, young man," said the Rabbi, "if thus thou sportest with the grey hairs of age, thy days are numbered. Wo unto him who insults the hoary head!"
The stranger made an excuse, and they journeyed on some little further in silence. The darkness grew less, and the astonished Rabbi, lifting up his eyes, found that they had come to the gates of a city which he had never before seen. Yet he knew all the cities of the land of Egypt, and he had walked but half an hour from his dwelling in Cairo. So he knew not what to think, but followed the man with trembling.
They soon entered the gates of the city, which was lighted up as if there were a festival in every house. The streets were full of revellers, and nothing but a sound of joy could be heard. But when Jochonan looked upon their faces—they were the faces of men pained within; and he saw, by the marks they bore, that they were Mazikin [demons]. He was terrified in his soul; and, by the light of the torches, he looked also upon the face of his companion, and, behold! he saw upon him too, the mark that shewed him to be a Demon. The Rabbi feared excessively—almost to fainting; but he thought it better to be silent; and sadly he followed his guide, who brought him to a splendid house, in the most magnificent quarter of the city.
"Enter here?" said the Demon to Jochonan, "for this house is mine. The lady and the child are in the upper chamber;" and, accordingly, the sorrowful Rabbi ascended the stair to find them.
The lady, whose dazzling beauty was shrouded by melancholy beyond hope, lay in bed; the child, in rich raiment, slumbered on the lap of the nurse, by her side.
"I have brought to thee, light of my eyes!" said the Demon, "Rebecca, beloved of my soul! I have brought thee Rabbi Jochonan the wise, for whom thou didst desire. Let him, then, speedily begin his office; I shall fetch all things necessary, for he is in haste to depart."
He smiled bitterly as he said these words, looking at the Rabbi; and left the room, followed by the nurse.
When Jochonan and the lady were alone, she turned in the bed towards him, and said:—
"Unhappy man that thou art! knowest thou where thou hast been brought?"
"I do," said he, with a heavy groan; I know that I am in a city of the Mazikin."
"Know, then, further," said she, and the tears gushed from eyes brighter than the diamond, "know then, further, that no one is ever brought here, unless he hath sinned before the Lord. What my sin hath been imports not to thee—and I seek not to know thine. But here thou remainest for ever—lost, even as I am lost." And she wept again.
The Rabbi dashed his turban on the ground, and tearing his hair, exclaimed, "Wo is me! Who art thou, woman! that speakest to me thus?"
"I am a Hebrew woman," said she, "the daughter of a Doctor of the Laws in the city of Bagdad; and being brought hither, it matters not how, I am married to a prince among the Mazikin, even him who was sent for thee. And that child, whom thou sawest, is our first-born, and I could not bear the thought that the soul of our innocent babe should perish. I therefore besought my husband to try to bring hither a priest, that the law of Moses (blessed be his memory!) should be done; and thy fame, which has spread to Bagdad, and lands further towards the rising of the sun, made me think of thee. Now my husband, though great among the Mazikin, is more just than the other Demons; and he loves me, whom he hath ruined, with a love of despair. So he said, that the name of Jochonan the wise was familiar unto him, and that he knew thou wouldst not be able to refuse. What thou hast done, to give him power over thee, is known to thyself."
"I swear, before Heaven!" said the Rabbi, "that I have ever diligently kept the law, and walked stedfastly according to the traditions of our fathers, from the day of my youth upward. I have wronged no man in word or deed, and I have daily worshipped the Lord; minutely performing all the ceremonies thereto needful."
"Nay," said the lady, "all this thou mightest have done, and more, and yet be in the power of the Demons. But time passes, for I hear the foot of my husband mounting the stair. There is one chance of thine escape."
"What is that? O lady of beauty?" said the agonized Rabbi.
"Eat not, drink not, nor take fee or reward while here; and as long as thou canst do thus, the Mazikin have no power over thee, dead or alive. Have courage, and persevere."
As she ceased from speaking, her husband entered the room, followed by the nurse, who bore all things requisite for the ministration of the Rabbi. With a heavy heart he performed his duty, and the child was numbered among the faithful. But when, as usual, at the conclusion of the ceremony, the wine was handed round to be tasted by the child, the mother, and the Rabbi, he refused it when it came to him, saying:—
"Spare me, my lord, for I have made a vow that I fast this day; and I will not eat, neither will I drink."
"Be it as thou pleasest," said the Demon, "I will not that thou shouldst break thy vow;" and he laughed aloud.
So the poor Rabbi was taken into a chamber, looking into a garden, where he passed the remainder of the night and the day weeping, and praying to the Lord that he would deliver him from the city of Demons. But when the twelfth hour came, and the sun was set, the Prince of the Mazikin came again unto him, and said:—
"Eat now, I pray thee, for the day of thy vow is past;" and he set meat before him.
"Pardon again thy servant, my lord," said Jochonan, "in this thing. I have another vow for this day also. I pray thee be not angry with thy servant."
"I am not angry," said the Demon, "be it as thou pleasest; I respect thy vow;" and he laughed louder than before.
So the Rabbi sat another day in his chamber by the garden, weeping and praying. And when the sun had gone behind the hills, the Prince of the Mazikin again stood before him, and said:—
"Eat now, for thou must be an hungered. It was a sore vow of thine;" and he offered him daintier meats.
And Jochonan felt a strong desire to eat, but he prayed inwardly to the Lord, and the temptation passed, and he answered:—
"Excuse thy servant yet a third time, my lord, that I eat not. I have renewed my vow."
"Be it so, then," said the other; "arise, and follow me."
The Demon took a torch in his hand, and led the Rabbi through winding passages of his palace, to the door of a lofty chamber, which he opened with a key that he took from a niche in the wall. On entering the room, Jochonan saw that it was of solid silver—floor, ceiling, walls, even to the threshold and the door-posts. And the curiously carved roof, and borders of the ceiling, shone, in the torch-light, as if they were the fanciful work of frost. In the midst were heaps of silver money, piled up in immense urns of the same metal, even over the brim.
"Thou hast done me a serviceable act, Rabbi," said the Demon—"take of these what thou pleasest; ay, were it the whole."
"I cannot, my lord," said Jochonan. "I was adjured by thee to come hither in the name of God; and in that name I came, not for fee or for reward."
"Follow me," said the prince of the Mazikin; and Jochonan did so, into an inner chamber.
It was of gold, as the other was of silver. Its golden roof was supported by pillars and pilasters of gold, resting upon a golden floor. The treasures of the kings of the earth would not purchase one of the four-and-twenty vessels of golden coins, which were disposed in six rows along the room. No wonder! for they were filled by the constant labours of the Demons of the mine. The heart of Jochonan was moved by avarice, when he saw them shining in yellow light, like the autumnal sun, as they reflected the beams of the torch. But God enabled him to persevere.
"These are thine," said the Demon; "one of the vessels which thou beholdest would make thee richest of the sons of men—and I give thee them all."
But Jochonan refused again; and the Prince of the Mazikin opened the door of a third chamber, which was called the Hall of Diamonds. When the Rabbi entered, he screamed aloud, and put his hands over his eyes; for the lustre of the jewels dazzled him, as if he had looked upon the noon-day sun. In vases of agate were heaped diamonds beyond enumeration, the smallest of which was larger than a pigeon's egg. On alabaster tables lay amethysts, topazes, rubies, beryls, and all other precious stones, wrought by the hands of skilful artists, beyond power of computation. The room was lighted by a carbuncle, which, from the end of the hall, poured its ever-living light, brighter than the rays of noontide, but cooler than the gentle radiance of the dewy moon. This was a sore trial on the Rabbi; but he was strengthened from above, and he refused again.
"Thou knowest me then, I perceive, O Jochonan, son of Ben-David," said the Prince of the Mazikin; "I am a Demon who would tempt thee to destruction. As thou hast withstood so far, I tempt thee no more. Thou hast done a service which, though I value it not, is acceptable in the sight of her whose love is dearer to me than the light of life. Sad has been that love to thee, my Rebecca! Why should I do that which would make thy cureless grief more grievous? You have yet another chamber to see," said he to Jochonan, who had closed his eyes, and was praying fervently to the Lord, beating his breast.
Far different from the other chambers, the one into which the Rabbi was next introduced, was a mean and paltry apartment, without furniture. On its filthy walls hung innumerable bunches of rusty keys, of all sizes, disposed without order. Among them, to the astonishment of Jochonan, hung the keys of his own house, those which he had put to hide when he came on this miserable journey, and he gazed upon them intently.
"What dost thou see," said the Demon, "that makes thee look so eagerly? Can he who has refused silver, and gold, and diamonds, be moved by a paltry bunch of rusty iron?"
"They are mine own, my lord," said the Rabbi, "them will I take, if they be offered me."
"Take them, then," said the Demon, putting them into his hand;—"thou may'st depart. But, Rabbi, open not thy house only, when thou returnest to Cairo, but thy heart also. That thou didst not open it before, was that which gave me power over thee. It was well that thou didst one act of charity in coming with me without reward, for it has been thy salvation. Be no more Rabbi Jochonan the miser."
The Rabbi bowed to the ground, and blessed the Lord for his escape. "But how," said he, "am I to return, for I know not the way?"
"Close thine eyes," said the Demon. He did so, and in the space of a moment, heard the voice of the Prince of Mazikin ordering him to open them again. And, behold, when he opened them, he stood in the centre of his own chamber, in his house at Cairo, with the keys in his hand.
When he recovered from his surprise, and had offered thanksgivings to God, he opened his house, and his heart also. He gave alms to the poor, he cheered the heart of the widow, and lightened the destitution of the orphan. His hospitable board was open to the stranger, and his purse was at the service of all who needed to share it. His life was a perpetual act of benevolence; and the blessings showered upon him by all, were returned bountifully upon him by the hand of God.
But people wondered, and said, "Is not this the man who was called Rabbi Jochonan the miser? What hath made the change?" And it became a saying in Cairo. When it came to the ears of the Rabbi, he called his friends together, and he avowed his former love of gold, and the danger to which it had exposed him; relating all which has been above told, in the hall of the new palace that he built by the side of the river, on the left hand, as thou goest down by the course of the great stream. And wise men, who were scribes, wrote it down from his mouth, for the memory of mankind, that they might profit thereby. And a venerable man, with a beard of snow, who had read it in these books, and at whose feet I sat, that I might learn the wisdom of the old time, told it to me. And I write it in the tongue of England, the merry and the free, on the tenth day of the month Nisan, in the year, according to the lesser computation, five hundred ninety and seven, that thou may'st learn good thereof. If not, the fault be upon thee.
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Written on seeing Flags and other Ensigns of War, hanging in a Country Church.
BY ALARIC A. WATTS.
Oh! why amid this hallowed scene. Should signs of mortal feud be found; Why seek with such vain gauds to wean Our thoughts from holier relics 'round? More fitting emblems here abound Of glory's bright, unfading wreath;— Conquests, with purer triumphs crowned;— Proud victories over Sin and Death!
Of these how many records rise Before my chastened spirit now; Memorials, pointing to the skies, Of Christian battles fought below. What need of yon stern things to shew That darker deeds have oft been done?— Is't not enough for Man to know He lives but through the blood of ONE!
And thou, mild delegate of God, Whose words of balm, and guiding light. Would lead us, from earth's drear abode, To worlds with bliss for ever bright,— What have the spoils of mortal fight To do with themes 'tis thine to teach? Faith's saving grace—each sacred rite Thou know'st to practice as to preach!
The blessings of the contrite heart, Thy bloodless conquests best proclaim; The tears from sinners' eyes that start, Are meetest records of thy fame. The glory that may grace thy name From loftier triumphs sure must spring;— The grateful thoughts thy worth may claim, Trophies like these can never bring!
Then, wherefore on this sainted spot, With peace and love, and hope imbued,— Some vision calm of bliss to blot, And turn our thoughts on deeds of blood,— Should signs of battle-fields intrude:— Man wants no trophies here of strife; His Oriflamme—Faith unsubdued;— His Panoply—a spotless life!
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THE BRITISH SAILOR'S SONG.
BY ALLAN CUNNINGHAM.
Away with bayonet and with lance, With corslet, casque and sword; Our island king no war-horse needs, For on the sea he's lord. His throne's the war-ship's lofty deck, His sceptre is the mast; His kingdom is the rolling wave, His servant is the blast. His anchor's up, fair Freedom's flag Proud to the mast he nails; Tyrants and conquerors bow your heads, For there your terror sails.
I saw fierce Prussia's chargers stand, Her children's sharp swords out;— Proud Austria's bright spurs streaming red, When rose the closing shout. But soon the steeds rushed masterless, By tower and town and wood; For lordly France her fiery youth Poured o'er them like a flood. Go, hew the gold spurs from your heels, And let your steeds run free; Then come to our unconquered decks, And learn to reign at sea.
Behold you black and battered hulk That slumbers on the tide, There is no sound from stem to stern, For peace has plucked her pride. The masts are down, the cannon mute, She shews nor sheet nor sail; Nor starts forth with the seaward breeze, Nor answers shout nor hail. Her merry men with all their mirth, Have sought some other shore; And she with all her glory on, Shall rule the sea no more.
So landsmen speak.—Lo! her top-masts Are quivering in the sky Her sails are spread, her anchor's raised, There sweeps she gallant by. A thousand warriors fill her decks; Within her painted side The thunder sleeps—man's might has nought Can match or mar her pride. In victor glory goes she forth, Her stainless flag flies free, Kings of the earth come and behold How Britain reigns on sea!
When on your necks the armed foot Of fierce Napoleon trod; And all was his save the wide sea, Where we triumphant rode: He launched his terror and his strength, Our sea-born pride to tame; They came—they got the Nelson-touch, And vanished as they came. Go, hang your bridles in your halls, And set your war-steels free: The world has one unconquer'd king, And he reigns on the sea!
Mr. Watts, the editor, besides the stanzas we have quoted, has contributed indeed less than other editors, in similar works, and much less than we could wish, for we are sincere admirers of his plaintive muse. His preface should be read with due attention, for it is calculated to set the public right on the fate and merit of numberless works.
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THE FORGET ME NOT.
The avant-courier of the "Annuals" is of equal literary merit with its precursors; but not quite equal in its engravings—The Sisters' Dream, by Davenport, from a drawing by Corbould, is, however, placidly interesting; the Bridal Morning, by Finden, is also a pleasing scene; and the Seventh Plague of Egypt, by Le Keux, from a design by Martin, though in miniature, is terrific and sublime. In the literary department we especially notice the Sun-Dial, a pensive tale, by Delta, but too long for extract; and the Sky-Lark by the Ettrick Shepherd, soaring with all the freshness and fancy of that extraordinary genius. The Sword, a beautiful picture of martial woe, by Miss Landon, is subjoined:—
'Twas the battle field, and the cold pale moon Look'd down on the dead and dying, And the wind pass'd o'er with a dirge and a wail, Where the young and the brave were lying.
With his father's sword in his red right hand. And the hostile dead around him, Lay a youthful chief: but his bed was the ground, And the grave's icy sleep had bound him.
A reckless Rover, 'mid death and doom, Pass'd a soldier, his plunder seeking: Careless he stept where friend and foe Lay alike in their life-blood reeking.
Drawn by the shine of the warrior's sword, The soldier paused beside it: He wrench'd the hand with a giant's strength, But the grasp of the dead defied it.
He loosed his hold, and his English heart Took part with the dead before him, And he honour'd the brave who died sword in hand, As with soften'd brow he leant o'er him.
"A soldier's death thou hast boldly died, A soldier's grave won by it: Before I would take that sword from thine hand, My own life's blood should dye it.
"Thou shalt not be left for the carrion crow, Or the wolf to batten o'er thee: Or the coward insult the gallant dead, Who in life had trembled before thee."
Then dug he a grave in the crimson earth Where his warrior foe was sleeping, And he laid him there in honour and rest, With his sword in his own brave keeping.
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As a relief, we quote the following characteristic sketch by Miss Mitford:—
A COUNTRY APOTHECARY.
One of the most important personages in a small country town is the apothecary. He takes rank next after the rector and the attorney, and before the curate; and could be much less easily dispensed with than either of those worthies, not merely as holding "fate and physic" in his hand, but as the general, and as it were official, associate, adviser, comforter, and friend, of all ranks and all ages, of high and low, rich and poor, sick and well. I am no despiser of dignities; but twenty emperors shall be less intensely missed in their wide dominions, than such a man as my friend John Hallett in his own small sphere.
The spot which was favoured with the residence of this excellent person was the small town of Hazelby, in Dorsetshire; a pretty little place, where every thing seems at a stand-still. It was originally built in the shape of the letter T; a long broad market-place (still so called, although the market be gone) serving for the perpendicular stem, traversed by a straight, narrow, horizontal street, to answer for the top line. Not one addition has occurred to interrupt this architectural regularity, since, fifty years ago, a rich London tradesman built, at the west end of the horizontal street, a wide-fronted single house, with two low wings, iron palisades before, and a fish-pond opposite, which still goes by the name of New Place, and is balanced, at the east end of the street, by an erection of nearly the same date, a large square dingy mansion enclosed within high walls, inhabited by three maiden sisters, and called, probably by way of nickname, the Nunnery. New Place being on the left of the road, and the Nunnery on the right, the T has now something of the air of the italic capital T, turned up at one end and down at the other. The latest improvements are the bow-window in the market-place, commanding the pavement both ways, which the late brewer, Andrews, threw out in his snug parlour some twenty years back, and where he used to sit smoking, with the sash up, in summer afternoons, enjoying himself, good man; and the great room, at the Swan, originally built by the speculative publican, Joseph Allwright, for an assembly-room. That speculation did not answer. The assembly, in spite of canvassing and patronage, and the active exertions of all the young ladies in the neighbourhood, dwindled away, and died at the end of two winters: then it became a club-room for the hunt; but the hunt quarrelled with Joseph's cookery: then a market-room for the farmers; but the farmers (it was in the high-price time) quarrelled with Joseph's wine: then it was converted into the magistrate's room—the bench; but the bench and the market went away together, and there was an end of justicing: then Joseph tried the novel attraction (to borrow a theatrical phrase) of a billiard-table; but, alas! that novelty succeeded as ill as if it had been theatrical; there were not customers enough to pay the marker: at last, it has merged finally in that unconscious receptacle of pleasure and pain, a post-office; although Hazelby has so little to do with traffic of any sort—even the traffic of correspondence—that a saucy mail-coach will often carry on its small bag, and as often forget to call for the London bag in return.
In short, Hazelby is an insignificant place;—my readers will look for it in vain in the map of Dorsetshire;—it is omitted, poor dear town!—left out by the map-maker with as little remorse as a dropped letter!—and it is also an old-fashioned place. It has not even a cheap shop for female gear. Every thing in the one store which it boasts, kept by Martha Deane, linen-draper and haberdasher, is dear and good, as things were wont to be. You may actually get there thread made of flax, from the gouty, uneven, clumsy, shiny fabric, ycleped whited-brown, to the delicate commodity of Lisle, used for darning muslin. I think I was never more astonished, from the mere force of habit, than when, on asking for thread, I was presented, instead of the pretty lattice-wound balls, or snowy reels of cotton, with which that demand is usually answered, with a whole drawerful of skeins peeping from their blue papers —such skeins as in my youth a thrifty maiden would draw into the nicely-stitched compartments of that silken repository, a housewife, or fold into a congeries of graduated thread-papers, "fine by degrees, and beautifully less." The very literature of Hazelby is doled out at the pastry cook's, in a little one-windowed shop kept by Matthew Wise. Tarts occupy one end of the counter, and reviews the other; whilst the shelves are parcelled out between books, and dolls, and ginger, bread. It is a question, by which of his trades poor Matthew gains least; he is so shabby, so threadbare, and so starved.
Such a town would hardly have known what to do with a highly informed and educated surgeon, such as one now generally sees in that most liberal profession. My friend, John Hallett, suited it exactly. His predecessor, Mr. Simon Saunders, had been a small, wrinkled, spare old gentleman, with a short cough and a thin voice, who always seemed as if he needed an apothecary himself. He wore generally a full suit of drab, a flaxen wig of the sort called a Bob Jerom, and a very tight muslin stock; a costume which he had adopted in his younger days in imitation of the most eminent physician of the next city, and continued to the time of his death. Perhaps the cough might have been originally an imitation also, ingrafted on the system by habit. It had a most unsatisfactory sound, and seemed more like a trick than a real effort of nature. His talk was civil, prosy, and fidgetty: much addicted to small scandal, and that kind of news which passes under the denomination of tittle-tattle, he was sure to tell one half of the town where the other drank tea, and recollected the blancmanges and jellies on a supper-table, or described a new gown, with as much science and unction as if he had been used to make jellies and wear gowns in his own person. Certain professional peculiarities might have favoured the supposition. His mode of practice was exactly that popularly attributed to old women. He delighted in innocent remedies—manna, magnesia, and camphor julep; never put on a blister in his life; and would sooner, from pure complaisance, let a patient die, than administer an unpalatable prescription.
So qualified, to say nothing of his gifts in tea-drinking, cassino, and quadrille (whist was too many for him), his popularity could not be questioned. When he expired, all Hazelby mourned. The lamentation was general. The women of every degree (to borrow a phrase from that great phrase-monger, Horace Walpole) "cried quarts;" and the procession to the churchyard—that very churchyard to which he had himself attended so many of his patients—was now followed by all of them that remained alive.
It was felt that the successor of Mr. Simon Saunders would have many difficulties to encounter. My friend, John Hallett, "came, and saw, and overcame." John was what is usually called a rough diamond. Imagine a short, clumsy, stout-built figure, almost as broad as it is long, crowned by a bullet head, covered with shaggy brown hair, sticking out in every direction; the face round and solid, with a complexion originally fair, but dyed one red by exposure to all sorts of weather; open good-humoured eyes, of a greenish cast, his admirers called them hazel; a wide mouth, full of large white teeth; a cocked-up nose, and a double chin; bearing altogether a strong resemblance to a print which I once saw hanging up in an alehouse parlour, of "the celebrated divine (to use the identical words of the legend) Dr. Martin Luther."
The condition of a country apothecary being peculiarly liable to the inclemency of the season, John's dress was generally such as might bid defiance to wind, or rain, or snow, or hail. If any thing, he wrapt up most in the summer, having a theory that people were never so apt to take cold as in hot weather. He usually wore a bearskin great-coat, a silk handkerchief over his cravat, top boots on those sturdy pillars his legs, a huge pair of overalls, and a hat, which, from, the day in which it first came into his possession to that in which it was thrown aside, never knew the comfort of being freed from its oilskin—never was allowed to display the glossy freshness of its sable youth. Poor dear hat! how its vanity (if hats have vanity) must have suffered! For certain its owner had none, unless a lurking pride in his own bluffness and bluntness may be termed such. He piqued himself on being a plain downright Englishman, and on a voice and address pretty much like his apparel, rough, strong, and warm, fit for all weathers. A heartier person never lived.
In his profession he was eminently skilful, bold, confident, and successful. The neighbouring physicians liked to come after Mr. Hallett; they were sure to find nothing to undo. And blunt and abrupt as was his general manner, he was kind and gentle in a sick-room; only nervous disorders, the pet diseases of Mr. Simon Saunders, he could not abide. He made short work with them; frightened them away as one does by children when they have the hiccough; or if the malady were pertinacious and would not go, he fairly turned off the patient. Once or twice, indeed, on such occasions, the patient got the start, and turned him off; Mrs. Emery, for instance, the lady's maid at New Place, most delicate and mincing of waiting-gentlewomen, motioned him from her presence; and Miss Deane, daughter of Martha Deane, haberdasher, who, after completing her education at a boarding-school, kept a closet full of millinery in a little den behind her mamma's shop, and was by many degrees the finest lady in Hazelby, was so provoked at being told by him that nothing ailed her, that, to prove her weakly condition, she pushed him by main force out of doors.
With these exceptions Mr. Hallett was the delight of the whole town, as well as of all the farm-houses within six miles round. He just suited the rich yeomanry, cured their diseases, and partook of their feasts; was constant at christenings, and a man of prime importance at weddings. A country merry-making was nothing without "the Doctor." He was "the very prince of good fellows;" had a touch of epicurism, which, without causing any distaste of his own homely fare, made dainties acceptable when they fell in his way; was a most absolute carver; prided himself upon a sauce of his own invention, for fish and game—"Hazelby sauce" he called it; and was universally admitted to be the best compounder of a bowl of punch in the county.
Besides these rare convivial accomplishments, his gay and jovial temper rendered him the life of the table. There was no resisting his droll faces, his droll stories, his jokes, his tricks, or his laugh—the most contagious cachination that ever was heard. Nothing in the shape of fun came amiss to him. He would join in a catch or roar out a solo, which might be heard a mile off; would play at hunt the slipper or blind man's buff; was a great man in a country dance, and upon very extraordinary occasions would treat the company to a certain remarkable hornpipe, which put the walls in danger of tumbling about their ears, and belonged to him as exclusively as the Hazelby sauce. It was a sort of parody on a pas seul which he had once seen at the Opera-house, in which his face, his figure, his costume, his rich humour, and his strange, awkward, unexpected activity, told amazingly. "The force of frolic could no farther go" than "the Doctor's hornpipe," It was the climax of jollity.
* * * * *
In his shop and his household he had no need either of partner or of wife: the one was excellently managed by an old rheumatic journeyman, slow in speech, and of vinegar aspect, who had been a pedagogue in his youth, and now used to limp about with his Livy in his pocket, and growl as he compounded the medicines over the bad latinity of the prescriptions; the other was equally well conducted by an equally ancient housekeeper and a cherry-cheeked niece, the orphan-daughter of his only sister, who kept every thing within doors in the bright and shining order in which he delighted. John Hallett, notwithstanding the roughness of his aspect, was rather knick-knacky in his tastes; a great patron of small inventions, such as the improved ne plus ultra cork-screw, and the latest patent snuffers. He also trifled with horticulture, dabbled in tulips, was a connoisseur in pinks, and had gained a prize for polyanthuses. The garden was under the especial care of his pretty niece, Miss Susan, a grateful warm-hearted girl, who thought she never could do enough to please her good uncle, and prove her sense of his kindness. He was indeed as fond of her as if he had been her father, and as kind.
Perhaps there was nothing very extraordinary in his goodness to the gentle and cheerful little girl who kept his walks so trim and his parlour so neat, who always met him with a smile, and who (last and strongest tie to a generous mind) was wholly dependent on him—had no friend on earth but himself. There was nothing very uncommon in that. But John Hallett was kind to every one, even where the sturdy old English prejudices, which he cherished as virtues, might seem most likely to counteract his gentler feelings.
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"The Evening Song of the Tyrolese Peasants" by Mrs. Hemans, must close our extracts from the present volume:—
Come to the Sun-set Tree! The day is past and gone; The woodman's axe lies free, And the reaper's work is done.
The twilight-star to Heaven, And the summer-dew to flowers, And rest to us is given By the cool soft evening hours.
Sweet is the hour of rest! Pleasant the wind's low sigh, And the gleaming of the west, And the turf whereon we lie.
When the burden and the heat Of labour's task are o'er, And kindly voices greet The tired one at his door.
Come to the Sun-set Tree! The day is past and gone; The woodman's axe lies free, And the reaper's work is done.
Yes: tuneful is the sound That dwells in whispering boughs: Welcome the freshness round, And the gale that fans our brows.
But rest more sweet and still Than ever night-fall gave, Our longing hearts shall fill, In the world beyond the grave.
There shall no tempest blow, No scorching noon-tide heat; There shall be no more snow, No weary wandering feet.
And we lift our trusting eyes, From the hills our fathers trod. To the quiet of the skies, To the sabbath of our God.
Come to the Sun-set Tree! The day is past and gone: The woodman's axe lies free, And the reaper's work is done.
We have only room to particularize the Boroom Slave, by Mrs. Bowditch; the Magician's Visiter, by Neele; and Scenes in the Life of a Favourite; all which possess very powerful interest. Mr. Hood, too, has two oddities—Death in the Kitchen, after Sterne, and the Logicians, accompanied by engravings. Indeed, the literary variety of the present Forget Me Not is highly creditable to the editor, Mr. Shoberl.
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To begin with the exterior, which is somewhat novel in taste, the proprietors seem to have united the utile cum dulci, by substituting for the usual paper covering, an elegantly embossed leather binding. This is altogether an improvement on the original plan, since the slight coverings of silk or paper is scarcely safe out of the drawing-room or boudoir, and some of the contributions to the "annuals" entitle them to a higher stand. The presentation plate of the present Offering is a chaste and classical specimen of a kind of gold enamel engraving; The Sylph, engraved by Humphreys, is a pleasing picture; Virginia Water, from a picture by Daniell, is a delightful scene of rural repose; a Sculpture Group, by Fry; a View of Bombay; and the Captive Slave, by Finden; among the embellishments, are entitled to our commendatory notice.
The present editor is Mr. Charles Knight, who, according to his preface, succeeded "at an advanced period of the year to the duties which had previously been performed by a gentleman of acknowledged taste and ability." This may account for the imperfect state of some of the engravings; but the apology is not so requisite for the execution of the literary portion of the present volume. Our extracts must be short, for we have other claimants to our attention. The Housekeepers, a Shandean extract, is from one of the best prose contributors:—
There were two heavy, middle-aged merchants; they were either Dutch or German, I know not which, but their name was Vanderclump. Most decided old bachelors they were, with large, leathern, hanging cheeks, sleepy grey eyes, and round shoulders. They were men not given to much speech, but great feeders; and, when waited upon, would point clumsily to what they wanted, and make a sort of low growl, rather than be at the trouble to speak. These Messrs. Vanderclump were served by two tall, smooth-faced dawdles; I never could discover which held the superior station in the menage. Each has been seen trotting home from market with a basket on her arm; each might be observed to shake a duster out of the upper windows; each would, occasionally, carry a huge bunch of keys, or wait at table during dinner; and, in the summer evenings, when it was not post-day, both of them would appear, dressed alike, sitting at work at the lower counting-house window, with the blinds thrown wide open. Both, I suppose, were housekeepers.
It happened, one cold, foggy spring, that the younger brother, Mr. Peter Vanderclump, left London to transact some business of importance with a correspondent at Hamburgh, leaving his brother Anthony to the loneliness of their gloomy house in St. Mary Axe. Week after week passed away, and Mr. Peter was still detained at Hamburgh. Who would have supposed that his society could have been missed? that the parlour could have seemed more dismally dull by the absence of one of those from whom it chiefly derived its character of dulness? Mr. Anthony took up his largest meerchaum, and enveloped himself in its smoke by the hour; but the volumes of smoke cleared away, and no Peter Vanderclump appeared emerging from the mist. Mr. Anthony brought some of his heavy folios from below; and, in their pages of interest, (no common, but often compound, interest,) lost, for awhile, the dreary sense of loneliness. But, a question was to be asked! Peter's solemn "yah" or "nien" was waited for in vain. Forgetful, and almost impatient, Anthony looked up—the chair was unoccupied which his brother had constantly filled.
Mr. Anthony began to sigh—he got into a habit of sighing. Betty and Molly (they were soft-hearted baggages) felt for their master—pitied their poor master! Betty was placing the supper on the table one evening, when her master sighed very heavily. Betty sighed also, and the corners of her mouth fell—their eyes met—something like a blush crimsoned Betty's sleek, shining cheek, when, on raising her eyes again, her master was still staring at her. Betty simpered, and, in her very soft, very demure voice ventured to say, "Was there any thing she could do?" Mr. Vanderclump rose up from his chair. Betty, for the first time, felt awed by his approach. "Batee!" he said, "my poor Batee! Hah! you are a goot girl!" He chucked her under the chin with his large hand. Betty looked meek, and blushed, and simpered again. There was a pause—Mr. Vanderclump was the first to disturb it. "Hah! hah!" he exclaimed, gruffly, as if suddenly recollecting himself; and, thrusting both hands into his capacious breeches-pockets, he sat down to supper, and took no further notice of Betty that night.
The next morning, the sun seemed to have made a successful struggle with the dense London atmosphere, and shone full in Mr. Vanderclump's face while he was at breakfast, and set a piping bullfinch singing a tune, which his master loved rather for the sake of old associations, than from any delight in music. Then Lloyd's List was full of arrivals, and the Price Current had that morning some unusual charm about it, which I cannot even guess at. Mr. Vanderclump looked upon the bright and blazing fire; his eye rested, with a calm and musing satisfaction, on the light volumes of steam rising from the spout of the tea-kettle, as it stood, rather murmuring drowsily, than hissing, upon the hob. There was, he might have felt, a sympathy between them. They were both placidly puffing out the warm and wreathing smoke.
He laid down his pipe, and took half a well-buttered muffin into his capacious mouth at a bite; he washed the mouthful down, with a large dish of tea, and he felt in better spirits. That morning he entered the counting-house rubbing his hands.
Within an hour a crowd of huge, dusky clouds shut out the merry sunshine, and the Hamburgh mail brought no tidings whatever of Mr. Peter. Mr. Anthony worked himself up into a thorough ill-humour again, and swore at his clerks, because they asked him questions. When he entered his apartment that evening he felt more desolate than ever. Betty placed a barrel of oysters on the table—he heeded her not;—a large German sausage—his eyes were fixed on the ground;—a piece of Hamburgh beef —Mr. Vanderclump looked up for an instant, and, Europa-like, his thoughts crossed the sea, upon that beef, to Hamburgh. Gradually, however, a genial warmth spread throughout the room, for Betty stirred up the fire, and let down the curtains, and snuffed the dim candles; while Molly loaded the table with bottles of divers shapes and sizes, a basin of snow-white sugar, and a little basket of limes, of well-known and exquisite flavour; placing, at the same time, a very small kettle of boiling water on the fire.—"Why, Mollee! my goot girl!" said Mr. Vanderclump, in a low and somewhat melancholy tone, (his eyes had mechanically followed these latter proceedings,) "Mollee! that is ponch!" —"La, sir! and why not?" replied the damsel, almost playfully. "Why not be comfortable and cheery? I am sure"—and here she meant to look encouraging, her usual simper spreading to a smile—"I am sure Betty and I would do our best to make you so."
"Goot girls, goot girls!" said Mr. Vanderclump, his eyes fixed all the while upon the supper-table—he sat down to it. "My goot girls!" said he, soon after, "you may go down; I do not want you; you need not wait." The two timid, gentle creatures instantly obeyed. More than an hour elapsed, and then Mr. Vanderclump's bell rang. The two matronly maidens were very busily employed in making a new cap. Betty rose at once; but suddenly recollecting that she had been trying on her new and unfinished cap, and had then only a small brown cotton skull-cap on her head, she raised both her hands to her head to be certain of this, and then said, "Do, Molly, there's a dear! answer the bell; for such a figure as I am, I could not go before master, no how. See, I have unpicked this old cap for a little bit of French edging at the back." Molly looked a little peevish; but her cap was on her head, and up stairs she went. Mr. Vanderclump was sitting before the fire, puffing lustily from his eternal pipe. "Take away," he said abruptly, "and put the leetle table here." He pointed and growled, and the sagacious Molly understood. She placed the table beside him, and upon it the punch, which he had been drinking. "Batee, my poor Batee!" said Mr. Vanderclump, who had not yet noticed that Betty was absent. "It is not Betty, but Molly, sir!" replied the latter damsel, in a voice of childlike simplicity. "Hah!" said he, apparently considering for a moment, "Hah! Batee, Mollee, all the same! Mollee, my poor Mollee, you are a goot girl! Get up to-morrow morning, my poor Mollee, and put on your best gown, and I will marry you!" Molly, was, as she afterwards declared, struck all of a heap. She gaped, and gasped with astonishment; and then a power of words were rushing and racing up her throat to her tongue's end: a glance at her master stopped their explosion. His hands were in his pockets, his face towards the fire, his pipe in his mouth. "Yes, sir," she replied, humbly and distinctly. A few tears trickled down her cheeks, as she curtseyed low at the door, and disappeared. She knew his ways, she thought within herself, as she walked very slowly down the stairs, and she congratulated herself that she had not risked another word in reply. "And now, Betty," she said, as she entered the kitchen, "I'll put the finishing stitch to my cap, and go to bed, for master will want nothing more to-night." She sat down quietly to work, and conversed quietly with Betty, not disclosing a word of her new prospects, Betty, however, observed that she took off the trimming with which her new cap had been already half-adorned. "Why, bless me, Molly!" she cried, "you are not going to put on that handsome white satin bow, are you?"—"Why, yes! I think I shall," replied Molly, "for now I look at your cap, with that there yellow riband upon it, mine seems to me quite old-maidish."
The next morning, Molly got up before her sister, and put on her best gown and her new cap. The morning was dark and dull, and Betty was sleepy, and Molly kept the window-curtain and the bed-curtains closely drawn. Unsuspected, she slipped out of the chamber, her shawl and her bonnet in her hand.
As the clock struck eight, Molly was standing beside her master before the rails of the marriage-altar; and, not long after, she burst upon the astonished eyes of her sister, as Mrs. Vanderclump.
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La Villegiatura is a pleasant article; but we do not think there is much of the "love of pastoral associations" left in the English character, and we are sorry for it. The Rustic Wreath, by Miss Mitford, is very sweet; the Cacadore, a story of the peninsular war, is a soul-stirring narrative; there is much pleasantry in Mrs. Hofland's Comforts of Conceitedness; Virginia Water, by the editor, could hardly be written by his fireside—it has too much local inspiration in every line; Auguste de Valcour, by the author of Gilbert Earle, is in his usual felicitous vein of philosophic melancholy; Miss Roberts has a glittering Tale of Normandy; the Orphans, by the editor, is simple and pathetic; Palinodia we subjoin:—
There was a time when I could feel All passion's hopes and fears, And tell what tongues can ne'er reveal, By smiles, and sighs, and tears. The days are gone! no more, no more, The cruel fates allow; And, though I'm hardly twenty-four, I'm not a lover now. Lady, the mist is on my sight, The chill is on my brow; My day is night, my bloom is blight— I'm not a lover now!
I never talk about the clouds, I laugh at girls and boys, I'm growing rather fond of crowds, And very fond of noise; I never wander forth alone Upon the mountain's brow; I weighed, last winter, sixteen stone,— I'm not a lover now!
I never wish to raise a veil, I never raise a sigh; I never tell a tender tale, I never tell a lie; I cannot kneel as once I did; I've quite forgot my bow; I never do as I am bid,— I'm not a lover now!
I make strange blunders every day, If I would be gallant, Take smiles for wrinkles, black for grey. And nieces for their aunt; I fly from folly, though it flows From lips of loveliest glow; I don't object to length of nose,— I'm not a lover now!
The muse's steed is very fleet— I'd rather ride my mare; The poet hunts a quaint conceit— I'd rather hunt a hare; I've learnt to utter yours and you Instead of thine and thou; And oh! I can't endure a Blue!— I'm not a lover now!
I find my Ovid dry, My Petrarch quite a pill, Cut Fancy for Philosophy, Tom Moore for Mr. Mill; And belles may read, and beaux may write, I care not who or how; I burnt my album Sunday night,— I'm not a lover now!
I don't encourage idle dreams Of poison or of ropes, I cannot dine on airy schemes, I cannot sup on hopes: New milk, I own is very fine, Just foaming from the cow; But yet I want my pint of wine,— I'm not a lover now!
When Laura sings young hearts away, I'm deafer than the deep; When Leonora goes to play, I sometimes go to sleep; When Mary draws her white gloves out, I never dance, I vow: "Too hot to kick one's heels about!"— I'm not a lover now!
I'm busy now with state affairs, I prate of Pitt and Fox; I ask the price of rail-road shares, I watch the turns of stocks: And this is life! no verdure blooms Upon the withered bough. I save a fortune in perfumes,— I'm not a lover now!
I may be yet what others are, A boudoir's babbling fool; The flattered star of bench or har, A party's chief or tool: Come shower or sunshine, hope or fear, The palace or the plough— My heart and lute are broken here,— I'm not a lover now! Lady, the mist is on my sight, The chill is on my brow; My day is night, my bloom is blight,— I'm not a lover now!
The First Ball, by L.E.L. is rife and gay; which, with Mr. Croker's Three Advices, are all we can spare room to point out to our readers.
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Of this volume we have already availed ourselves. Some of the engravings are in a vigorous and first-rate style of excellence; the binding, too, is somewhat gay for so grave a title—being crimson silk. Our favourites are a Voyage Round the World, by Montgomery, one of the best poems of the year; Faustus, with a Visit to Goethe; Angel Visits, by Mrs. Hemans; The Departed, by L.E.L.; and some pieces by the editor, Mr. Hall. Our present extract is
THE LAST VOYAGE. A TRUE STORY.
By Mrs. Opie.
We cannot fail to observe, as we advance in life, how vividly our earliest recollections recur to us, and this consciousness is accompanied by a melancholy pleasure, when we are deprived of those who are most tenderly associated with such remembrances, because they bring the beloved dead "before our mind's eye;" and beguile the loneliness of the present hour, by visions of the past. In such visions I now often love to indulge, and in one of them, a journey to Y—— was recently brought before me, in which my ever-indulgent father permitted me to accompany him, when I was yet but a child.
As we drove through C——r, a village within three miles of Y——, he directed my attention to a remarkable rising, or conical mound of earth, on the top of the tower of C——r church. He then kindly explained the cause of this singular, and distinguishing appearance, and told me the traditionary anecdote connected with it; which now, in my own words, I am going to communicate to my readers.
It is generally supposed, that great grief makes the heart so selfishly absorbed in its own sufferings, as to render it regardless of the sufferings of others; but the conduct of her, who is the heroine of the following tale, will prove to this general rule an honourable exception.
I know nothing of her birth, and parentage, nor am I acquainted even with her name—but I shall call her Birtha—the story goes, that she lived at C——r, a village three miles from Y—— in N——, and was betrothed to the mate of a trading vessel, with the expectation of marrying him, when he had gained money sufficient, by repeated voyages, to make their union consistent with prudence.
In the meanwhile, there is reason to believe that Birtha was not idle, but contrived to earn money herself, in order to expedite the hour of her marriage; and at length, her lover (whom I shall call William) thought that there was no reason for him to continue his sea-faring life, but at the end of one voyage more, he should be able to marry the woman of his choice, and engage in some less dangerous employment, in his native village.
Accordingly, the next time that he bade farewell to Birtha, the sorrow of their parting hour was soothed by William's declaring, that, as the next voyage would be his last, he should expect, when he returned, to find every thing ready for their marriage.
This was a pleasant expectation, and Birtha eagerly prepared to fulfil it.
By the time that Birtha was beginning to believe that William was on his voyage home, her neighbours would often help her to count the days which would probably elapse before the ship could arrive; but when they were not in her presence, some of the experienced amongst the men used to express a hope, the result of fear, that William would return time enough to avoid certain winds, which made one part of the navigation on that coast particularly dangerous.
Birtha herself, had, no doubt, her fears, as well as her hopes; but there are some fears which the lip of affection dares not utter, and this was one of them.
Birtha dreaded to have her inquiries respecting that dangerous passage, answered by "Yes, we know that it is a difficult navigation;" she also dreaded to be told by some kind, but ill-judging friends, to "trust in Providence;" as, by such advice, the reality of the danger would be still more powerfully confirmed to her. This recommendation would to her have been needless, as well as alarming; for she had, doubtless, always relied on Him who is alone able to save, and she knew that the same "Almighty arm was underneath" her lover still, which had hitherto preserved him in the time of need.
Well—time went on, and we will imagine the little garden before the door of the house which Birtha had hired, new gravelled, fresh flowers sown and planted there; the curtains ready to be put up; the shelves bright with polished utensils; table linen, white as the driven snow, enclosed in the newly-purchased chest of drawers; and the neat, well chosen wedding-clothes, ready for the approaching occasion: we will also picture to ourselves, the trembling joy of Birtha, when her eager and sympathizing neighbours rushed into her cottage, disturbing her early breakfast, with the glad tidings, that William's ship had been seen approaching the dangerous passage with a fair wind, and that there was no doubt but that he would get over it safe, and in day-light! How sweet is it to be the messenger and the bearer of good news, but it is still sweeter to know that one has friends who have pleasure in communicating pleasure to us!
But Birtha's joy was still mingled with anxiety, and she probably passed that day in alternate restlessness and prayer.
Towards night the wind rose high, blowing from a quarter unfavourable to the safety of the ship, and it still continued to blow in this direction when night and darkness had closed on all around.
Darkness at that moment seemed to close also upon the prospects of Birtha! for she knew that there was no beacon, no landmark to warn the vessel of its danger, and inform the pilot what coast they were approaching, and what perils they were to avoid; and, it is probable, that the almost despairing girl was, with her anxious friends, that livelong night a restless wanderer on the nearest shore.
With the return of morning came the awful confirmation of their worst fears!
There was no remaining vestige of William's vessel, save the top of the mast, which shewed where it had sunk beneath the waves, and proved that the hearts which in the morning had throbbed high with tender hopes and joyful expectations were then cold and still "beneath the mighty waters!" How different now was the scene in Birtha's cottage, to that which it exhibited during the preceding morning.
That changed dwelling was not indeed deserted, for sympathizing neighbours came to it as before; but though many may be admitted with readiness when it is a time for congratulation, it is only the few who can be welcome in a season of sorrow; and Birtha's sorrow, though quiet, was deep—while neither her nearest relative, nor dearest friend, could do any thing to assist her, save, by removing from her sight the new furniture, or the new dresses, which had been prepared for those happy hours that now could never be hers.
At length, however, Birtha, who had always appeared calm and resigned, seemed cheerful also! still she remained pale, as in the first moments of her trial, save when a feverish flush occasionally increased the brightness of her eyes; but she grew thinner and thinner, and her impeded breath made her affectionate friends suspect that she was going into a rapid decline.
Medical aid was immediately called in, and Birtha's pleased conviction that her end was near, was soon, though reluctantly confirmed to her, at her own request.
It is afflicting to see an invalid rejoice in knowing that the hour of death is certainly approaching; because it proves the depth and poignancy of the previous sufferings: but then the sight is comforting and edifying also. It is comforting, because it proves that the dying person is supported by the only "help that faileth not;" and it is edifying, because it invites those who behold it to endeavour to believe, that they also may live and die like the departing Christian.
But it was not alone the wish "to die and be with Christ," nor the sweet expectation of being united in another world to him whom she had lost, that was the cause of Birtha's increasing cheerfulness, as the hour of her dissolution drew nigh. No—
Her generous heart was rejoicing in a project which she had conceived, and which would, if realized, be the source of benefit to numbers yet unborn. She knew from authority which she could not doubt, that had there been a proper landmark on the shore, her lover and his ship would not, in all human probability, have perished.
"Then," said Birtha, "henceforth there shall be a land-mark on this coast! and I will furnish it! Here at least, no fond and faithful girl shall again have to lament over her blighted prospects, and pine, and suffer as I have done."
She sent immediately for the clergyman of the parish, made her will, and had a clause inserted to the following effect: "I desire that I may be buried on the top of the tower of C——r church! and that my grave may be made very high, and pointed, in order to render it a perpetual land-mark to all ships approaching that dangerous navigation where he whom I loved was wrecked. I am assured, that, had there been a land-mark on the tower of C—— church, his ship might have escaped; and I humbly trust, that my grave will always be kept up, according to my will, to prevent affectionate hearts, in future, from being afflicted as mine has been; and I leave a portion of my little property in the hands of trustees, for ever, to pay for the preservation of the above-mentioned grave, in all its usefulness!"
Before she died, the judicious and benevolent sufferer had the satisfaction of being assured, that her intentions would be carried into effect.
Her last moments were therefore cheered by the belief, that she would be graciously permitted to be, even after death, a benefit to others, and that her grave might be the means of preserving some of her fellow-creatures from shipwreck and affliction.
Nor was her belief a delusive one—-The conical grave in question gives so remarkable an appearance to the tower of C——r church, when it is seen at sea, even at a distance, that if once observed it can never be forgotten, even by those to whom the anecdote connected with it is unknown —therefore, as soon as it appears in sight, pilots know that they are approaching a dangerous coast, and take measures to avoid its perils.
But if the navigation on that coast is no longer as perilous as it was, when the heroine of this story was buried, and the tower of C——r church is no longer a necessary land-mark, still her grave remains a pleasing memorial of one, whose active benevolence rose superior to the selfishness both of sorrow and of sickness; and enabled her, even on the bed of death, to contrive and will for the benefit of posterity.
It is strange, but true, that the name of this humble, but privileged being, is not on record; but many whose names are forgotten on earth, have been, I doubt not, received and rewarded in heaven.
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Is a new adventurer in the "annual" field, and deserves a foremost rank as a work of art. Thus, the Child with Flowers, by Humphreys, after Sir Thomas Laurence, is really fit company for the president's beautiful picture; the Boy and Dog, by the same painter and engraver, is also very fine; but the selection of both of the pictures for one volume is hardly judicious. With Haddon Hall our readers are already familiar. Sans Souci, after Stothard, is a delightful scene. In the literature, almost the only very striking composition is Sir Walter Scott's illustration of Wilkie's painting of the baronet's own family, which, having been copied into every newspaper, we do not reprint. For our part, we do not admire the painting; there is too much rank and file for a family group. Mr. Hood has a Lament of Chivalry, in his best style; and a few Verses for an Album, by Charles Lamb, are to our taste.
A LAMENT FOR THE DECLINE OF CHIVALRY.
BY THOMAS HOOD, ESQ.
Well hast thou cried, departed Burke, All chivalrous romantic work, Is ended now and past!— That iron age—which some have thought Of metal rather overwrought— Is now all over-cast!
Ay,—where are those heroic knights Of old—those armadillo wights Who wore the plated vest,— Great Charlemagne, and all his peers Are cold—enjoying with their spears An everlasting rest!—
The bold King Arthur sleepeth sound, So sleep his knights who gave that Round Old Table such eclat! Oh Time has pluck'd the plumy brow! And none engage at turneys now But those who go to law!
Grim John o' Gaunt is quite gone by, And Guy is nothing but a Guy, Orlando lies forlorn!— Bold Sidney, and his kidney—nay, Those "early champions"—what are they But Knights without a morn!
No Percy branch now perseveres Like those of old in breaking spears— The name is now a lie!— Surgeons, alone, by any chance, Are all that ever couch a lance To couch a body's eye!
Alas! for Lion-Hearted Dick, That cut the Moslem to the quick, His weapon lies in peace,— Oh, it would warm them in a trice, If they could only have a spice Of his old mace in Greece!
The fam'd Rinaldo lies a-cold, And Tancred too, and Godfrey bold, That scal'd the holy wall! No Saracen meets Paladin, We hear of no great Saladin, But only grow the small!
Our Cressys too have dwindled since To penny things—at our Black Prince Historic pens would scoff— The only one we moderns had Was nothing but a Sandwich lad, And measles took him off:—
Where are those old and feudal clans, Their pikes, and bills, and partizans! Their hauberks—jerkins—buffs? A battle was a battle then, A breathing piece of work—but men Fight now with powder puffs!
The curtal-axe is out of date! The good old cross-bow bends to Fate, 'Tis gone—the archer's craft! No tough arm bends the springing yew. And jolly draymen ride, in lieu Of Death, upon the shaft.—
The spear—the gallant tilter's pride The rusty spear is laid aside, Oh spits now domineer!— The coat of mail is left alone,— And where is all chain armour gone? Go ask at Brighton Pier.
We fight in ropes and not in lists, Bestowing hand-cuffs with our fists, A low and vulgar art!— No mounted man is overthrown— A tilt!—It is a thing unknown— Except upon a cart.
Methinks I see the bounding barb, Clad like his Chief in steely garb, For warding steel's appliance!— Methinks I hear the trumpet stir! 'Tis but the guard to Exeter, That bugles the "Defiance!"
In cavils when will cavaliers Set ringing helmets by the ears, And scatter plumes about? Or blood—if they are in the vein? That tap will never run again— Alas the Casque is out!
No iron-crackling now is scor'd By dint of battle-axe or sword, To find a vital place— Though certain Doctors still pretend Awhile, before they kill a friend, To labour through his case.
Farewell, then, ancient men of might! Crusader! errant squire, and knight! Our coats and customs soften,— To rise would only make ye weep— Sleep on, in rusty iron sleep, As in a safety-coffin!
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VERSES FOR AN ALBUM.
Fresh clad from Heaven in robes of white A young probationer of light. Thou wert, my soul, an Album bright.
A spotless leaf but thought, and care— And friends, and foes, in foul or fair, Have "written strange defeature" there.
And Time, with heaviest hand of all, Like that fierce writing on the wall, Hath stamp'd sad dates—he can't recall.
And error gilding worst designs— Like speckled snake that strays and shines— Betrays his path by crooked lines.
And vice hath left his ugly blot— And good resolves, a moment hot, Fairly began—but finish'd not.
And fruitless late remorse doth trace— Like Hebrew lore, a backward pace— Her irrecoverable race.
Disjointed numbers—sense unknit— Huge reams of folly—shreds of wit— Compose the mingled mass of it.
My scalded eyes no longer brook, Upon this ink-blurr'd thing to look, Go—shut the leaves—and clasp the book!—
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THE LITERARY POCKET-BOOK.
Is this year resumed, but we think it is not so successful as, were its previous fasciculi. The "literary" is a good epithet for its sale among would-be authors, like the "Gentleman's" Magazine among a certain class of worthies. But of what use are such articles as the following to literary men:—The Seasons, by a Man of Taste, (like the carte of a restaurateur;) Sayings of a Man about Town; Remonstrance with J.F. Newton; Lines on Crockford's &c.—all amusing enough in their way, but, in a literary pocket-book, out of place, and not in good taste. The "lists," too, the only useful portion of the volume, are, in many instances, very incorrect. Apropos, how long has Morris Birbeck been dead? Our Illinois friend might be alive when the editor published his last pocket-book; but if he stands still, time does not. There is, too, an affectation of fashion about the work which does not suit our sober taste; but as a seasonable Christmas extract, we are induced to quote Winter from the Seasons:—
Now is the high season of beef; beef, which Prometheus killed for us at first, ere he filched the fire from heaven, with which to constitute it a beef-steak—that foundation of the most delightful of clubs, and origin of the most delightful of all memoirs of them. Nor be the sirloin, boast of Englishmen, forgot! nor its vaunted origin; which proves that the age of chivalry, despite of Burke, is not yet gone! Stewed beef too, and ample round, and filet de boeuf saute dans sa glace, and stewed rump-steaks, and ox-tail soup.
"Spirits of beef, where are ye? are ye all fled?" Henry the Eighth.
No—when beef flies the English shores, then you may, as the immortal bard exquisitely expresses it, "make a silken purse out of a sow's ear." But mutton, too, invites my Muse. It is calculated that fifteen hundred thousand sheep are annually sacrificed in London to the carnivorous taste of John Bull. "Of roast mutton (as Dr. Johnson says) what remains for me to say? It will be found sometimes succous, and sometimes defective of moisture; but what palate has ever failed to be pleased with a haunch which has been duly suspended? what appetite has not been awakened by the fermentation that glitters on its surface, when it has been reposing for the requisite number of hours before a fire equal in its fervency?"
We quite agree with Dr. Johnson; but a boiled leg of mutton, its whiteness transparent through the verdant capers that decorate its candour, is not to be despised; nor is a hash, whether celebrated as an Irish stew, or a hachis de mouton, most relishing of rifacciamenti! Chops and garlic a la Francaise are exquisite; and the saddle, cut learnedly, is the Elysium of a gourmand.
Now also is the time of house-lamb and of doe-venison. Now is the time of Christmas come, and the voice of the turkey is heard in our land! This is the period of their annual massacre—a new slaughter of the innocents! The Norwich coaches are now laden with mortals; that, while alive, shared with their equally intelligent townsmen, fruges consumere nati, the riches of their agricultural county.
Let others talk as they will about the Greek and the Ottoman!—in cookery, I abhor Greece, and love Turkey. And yet how inconsistent I am in my politics! for I sometimes regard the partition of Turkey as a thing well purchased by the sacrifice of every Ottoman in the world—would they were all under my feet!—especially when I have the gout. I confess, the dismemberment of Poland did not affect me much. A man who is much accustomed to dismember fowls, will not care much about that of kingdoms.
Nor be the cod (a blessing on his head—and shoulders!) forgotten. Beautifully candid, his laminae separate readily before the tranchant silver, and each flake, covered with a creamy curd, lies ready to receive the affusion of molten (not oiled) butter, which, with its floating oyster-islands, seems in impatient agitation for the moment of overflowing the alluring "white creature," as a modern poet styles it.
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Having transported the public for the term of fourteen years, our readers need not be told that the present is the fifteenth volume. We should say more in its praise had it said less in our own. In richness and variety it is quite equal to any of its predecessors; and we promise our readers an occasional sip of its original sweets.
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The Keepsake and the Christmas-Box (the latter a juvenile annual) must stand over for an early number.
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Printed and published by J. LIMBIRD, 143, Strand, (near Somerset House,) and sold by all Newsmen and Booksellers.