THE MIRROR OF LITERATURE, AMUSEMENT, AND INSTRUCTION.
VOL. 12, NO. 340.] SUPPLEMENTARY NUMBER. [PRICE 2d.
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SPIRIT OF THE "ANNUALS," FOR 1829.
For some days past our table has been glittering with these caskets of song and tale in their gay attire of silken sheen and burnished gold—till their splendour has fairly put out the light of our sinumbra, and the drabs, blues, and yellows of sober, business-like quartos and octavos. Seven out of nine of these elegant little books are in "watered" silk bindings; and an ingenious lady-friend has favoured us with the calculation that the silk used in covering the presumed number sold (70,000) would extend five miles, or from Hyde Park Corner to Turnham Green.
Brilliant as may be their exteriors, their contents are, as Miss Jane Porter says of her heroines, "transcendently beautiful." But of these we shall present our readers with some exquisite specimens. Our only trouble in this task is the embarras du richesses with which we are surrounded; otherwise it is to us an exhaustless source of delight, especially when we consider the "gentle feelings and affections" which this annual distribution will cherish, and the innumerable intertwinings of hands and hearts which this shower of bon-bons will produce; and such warm friends are we to this social scheme, that our presentation copies are already in the fair hands whither we had destined them.
We begin with the parent-stock,
Edited by Frederic Shoberl, Esq.
The present volume, in its graphic and literary attractions is decidedly superior to that of last year, an improvement which makes us credit what the Ettrick Shepherd says of the proprietor—"There's no a mair just, nay, generous man in his dealings wi' his authors, in a' the tredd, than Mr. Ackermann."
This beautiful Annual contains the original of our ENGRAVING, from a plate by A. Freebairn, after an admirable picture by S. Prout, of which the following story is illustrative:—
THE MAGICIAN OF VICENZA.
In the year 1796, on one of the finest evenings of an Italian autumn, when the whole population of the handsome city of Vicenza were pouring into the streets to enjoy the fresh air, that comes so deliciously along the currents of its three rivers; when the Campo Marzo was crowded with the opulent citizens and Venetian nobles; and the whole ascent, from the gates to the Madonna who sits enthroned on the summit of Monte Berrico, was a line of the gayest pilgrims that ever wandered up the vine-covered side of an Alpine hill; the ears of all were caught by the sound of successive explosions from a boat running down the bright waters of the Bachiglione. Vicenza was at peace, under the wing of the lion of St. Mark, but the French were lying round the ramparts of Mantua. They had not yet moved on Venice; yet her troops were known to be without arms, experience, or a general, and the sound of a cracker would have startled her whole dominions.
The boat itself was of a singular make; and the rapidity with which this little chaloupe, glittering with gilding and hung with streamers, made its way along the sparkling stream, struck the observers as something extraordinary. It flew by every thing on the river, yet no one was visible on board. It had no sail up, no steersman, no rower; yet it plunged and rushed along with the swiftness of a bird. The Vicentine populace are behind none of their brethren in superstition, and at the sight of the flying chaloupe, the groups came running from the Campo Marzo. The Monte Berrico was speedily left without a pilgrim, and the banks of the Bachiglione were, for the first time since the creation, honoured with the presence of the Venetian authorities, and even of the sublime podesta [the governor, a Venetian noble.] himself.
But it was fortunate for them that the flying phenomenon had reached the open space formed by the conflux of the three rivers, before the crowd became excessive; for, just as it had darted out from the narrow channel, lined on both sides with the whole thirty thousand old, middle-aged, and young, men, maids, and matrons of the city, a thick smoke was seen rising from its poop, its frame quivered, and, with a tremendous explosion, the chaloupe rose into the air in ten thousand fragments of fire.
The multitude were seized with consternation; and the whole fell on their knees, from the sublime podesta himself, to the humblest saffron-gatherer. Never was there such a mixture of devotion. Never was there such a concert of exclamations, sighs, callings on the saints, and rattling of beads. The whole concourse lay for some minutes with their very noses rubbing to the ground, until they were all roused at once by a loud burst of laughter. Thirty thousand pair of eyes were lifted up at the instant, and all fixed in astonishment on a human figure, seen calmly sitting on the water, in the very track of the explosion, and still half hidden in the heavy mass of smoke that curled in a huge globe over the remnants. The laugh had proceeded from him, and the nearer he approached the multitude, the louder he laughed. At length, stopping in front of the spot where the sublime podesta, a little ashamed of his prostration, was getting the dust shaken out of his gold-embroidered robe of office, and bathing his burning visage in orange-flower water, the stranger began a sort of complimentary song to the famous city of Vicenza.
The stranger found a willing audience; for his first stanza was in honour of the "most magnificent city of Vicenza;" its "twenty palaces by the matchless Palladio;" much more "its sixty churches;" and much more than all "its breed of Dominicans, unrivalled throughout the earth for the fervour of their piety and the capacity of their stomachs." The last touch made the grand-prior of the cathedral wince a little, but it was welcomed with a roar from the multitude. The song proceeded; but if the prior had frowned at the first stanza, the podesta was doubly angry at the second, which sneered at Venetian pomposity in incomparable style. But the prior and podesta were equally outvoted, for the roar of the multitude was twice as loud as before. Then came other touches on the cavalieri serventi, the ladies, the nuns, and the husbands, till every class had its share: but the satire was so witty, that, keen as it was, the shouts of the people silenced all disapprobation. He finished by a brilliant stanza, in which he said, that "having been sent by Neptune from the depths of the ocean to visit the earth, he had chosen for his landing-place its most renowned spot, the birthplace of the gayest men and the handsomest women—the exquisite Vicenza." With these words he ascended from the shore, and was received with thunders of applause.
His figure was tall and elegant. He wore a loose, scarlet cloak thrown over his fine limbs, Greek sandals, and a cap like that of the Italian princes of three centuries before, a kind of low circle of green and vermilion striped silk, clasped by a large rose of topaz. The men universally said, that there was an atrocious expression in his countenance; but the women, the true judges after all, said, without exception, that this was envy in the men, and that the stranger was the most "delightful looking Diavolo" they had ever set eyes on.
The stranger, on his landing, desired to be led to the principal hotel; but he had not gone a dozen steps from the water-side, when he exclaimed that he had lost his purse. Such an imputation was never heard before in an Italian city; at least so swore the multitude; and the stranger was on the point of falling several fathoms deep in his popularity. But he answered the murmur by a laugh; and stopping in front of a beggar, who lay at the corner of an hospital roaring out for alms, demanded the instant loan of fifty sequins. The beggar lifted up his hands and eyes in speechless wonder, and then shook out his rags, which, whatever else they might show, certainly showed no sequins, "The sequins, or death!" was the demand, in a tremendous voice. The beggar fell on the ground convulsed, and from his withered hand, which every one had seen empty the moment before, out flew fifty sequins, bright as if they had come that moment from St. Mark's mint. The stranger took them from the ground, and, with a smile, flung them up in a golden shower through the crowd. The shouts were immense, and the mob insisted on carrying him to the door of his hotel.
But the Venetian vigilance was by this time a little awakened, and a patrol of the troops was ordered to bring this singular stranger before the sublime podesta. The crowd instantly dropped him at the sight of the bayonets, and knowing the value of life in the most delicious climate of the world, took to their heels. The guard took possession of their prisoner, and were leading him rather roughly to the governor's house, when he requested them to stop for a moment beside a convent gate, that he might get a cup of wine. But the Dominicans would not give the satirist of their illustrious order a cup of water.
"If you will not give me refreshment," exclaimed he, in an angry tone, "give me wherewithal to buy it. I demand a hundred sequins."
The prior himself was at the window above his head; and the only answer was a sneer, which was loyally echoed through every cloister.
"Let me have your bayonet for a moment," said the stranger to one of his guard. He received it; and striking away a projecting stone in the wall, out rushed the hundred sequins. The prior clasped his hands in agony, that so much money should have been so near, and yet have escaped his pious purposes, The soldiers took off their caps for the discoverer, and bowed them still lower when he threw every sequin of it into the shakos of those polite warriors. The officer, to whom he had given a double share, showed his gratitude by a whisper, offering to assist his escape for as much more. But the stranger declined the civility, and walked boldly into the presence-chamber of the sublime podesta.
The Signer Dominico Castello-Grande Tremamondo was a little Venetian noble, descended in a right line from Aeneas, with a palazzo on the Canale Regio of Venice, which he let for a coffee-house; and living in the pomp and pride of a magnifico on something more than the wages of an English groom. The intelligence of this extraordinary stranger's discoveries had flown like a spark through a magazine, and the illustrissimo longed to be a partaker in the secret. He interrogated the prisoner with official fierceness, but could obtain no other reply than the general declaration, that he was a traveller come to see the captivations of Italy. In the course of the inquiry the podesta dropped a significant hint about money.
"As to money," was the reply, "I seldom carry any about me; it is so likely to tempt rascals to dip deeper in roguery. I have it whenever I choose to call for it."
"I should like to see the experiment made, merely for its curiosity," said the governor.
"You shall be obeyed," was the answer; "but I never ask for more than a sum for present expenses. Here, you fellow!" said he, turning to one of the half-naked soldiery, "lend me five hundred sequins!"
The whole guard burst into laughter. The sum would have been a severe demand on the military chest of the army. The handsome stranger advanced to him, and, seizing his musket, said, loftily, "Fellow, if you won't give the money, this must." He struck the butt-end of the musket thrice upon the floor. At the third blow a burst of gold poured out, and sequins ran in every direction. The soldiery and the officers of the court were in utter astonishment. All wondered, many began to cross themselves, and several of the most celebrated swearers in the regiment dropped upon their knees. But their devotions were not long, for the sublime podesta ordered the hall to be cleared, and himself, the stranger, and the sequins, left alone.
For three days nothing more was heard of any of the three, and the Vicenzese scarcely ate, drank, or slept, through anxiety to know what was become of the man in the scarlet cloak, and cap striped green and vermilion. Jealousy, politics, and piety, at length put their heads together, and, by the evening of the third day, the cavalieri had agreed that he was some rambling actor, or Alpine thief, the statesmen, that he was a spy; and the Dominicans that he was Satan in person. The women, partly through the contradiction natural to the lovely sex, and partly through the novelty of not having the world in their own way, were silent; a phenomenon which the Italian philosophers still consider the true wonder of the whole affair.
On the evening of the third day a new Venetian governor, with a stately cortege, was seen entering at the Water Gate, full gallop, from Venice: he drove straight to the podesta's house, and, after an audience, was provided with apartments in the town-house, one of the finest in Italy, and looking out upon the Piazza Grande, in which are the two famous columns, one then surmounted by the winged lion of St. Mark, as the other still is by a statue of the founder of our faith.
The night was furiously stormy, and the torrents of rain and perpetual roaring of the thunder drove the people out of the streets. But between the tempest and curiosity not an eye was closed that night in the city. Towards morning the tempest lulled, and in the intervals of the wind, strange sounds were heard, like the rushing of horses and rattling of carriages. At length the sounds grew so loud that curiosity could be restrained no longer, and the crowd gathered towards the entrance of the Piazza. The night was dark beyond description, and the first knowledge of the hazard that they were incurring was communicated to the shivering mob by the kicks of several platoons of French soldiery, who let them pass within their lines, but prohibited escape. The square was filled with cavalry, escorting wagons loaded with the archives, plate, and pictures, of the government. The old podesta was seen entering a carriage, into which his very handsome daughter, the betrothed of the proudest of the proud Venetian senators, was handed by the stranger. The procession then moved, and last, and most surprising of all, the stranger, mounting a charger, put himself at the head of the cavalry, and, making a profound adieu to the new governor, who stood shivering at the window in care of a file of grenadiers, dashed forward on the road to Milan.
Day rose, and the multitude rushed out to see what was become of the city. Every thing was as it had been, but the column of the lion: its famous emblem of the Venetian republic was gone, wings and all. They exclaimed that the world had come to an end. But the wheel of fortune is round, let politicians say what they will. In twelve months from that day the old podesta was again sitting in the government-house—yet a podesta no more, but a French prefect; the Signora Maria, his lovely daughter, was sitting beside him, with an infant, the image of her own beauty, and beside her the stranger, no longer the man of magic in the scarlet cloak and green and vermilion striped cap with a topaz clasp, but a French general of division, in blue and silver, her husband, as handsome as ever, and, if not altogether a professed Diavolo, quite as successful in finding money whenever he wanted it. His first entree into Vicenza had been a little theatrical, for such is the genius of his country. The blowing-up of his little steam-boat, which had nearly furnished his drama with a tragic catastrophe, added to its effect; and his discovery of the sequins was managed by three of his countrymen. As an inquirer into the nakedness of the land, he might have been shot as a spy. As half-charlatan and half-madman, he was sure of national sympathy. During the three days of his stay the old podesta had found himself accessible to reason, the podesta's daughter to the tender passion, and the treasures of the state to the locomotive skill of the French detachment, that waited in the mountains the result of their officer's diplomacy. The lion of St. Mark, having nothing else to do, probably disdained to remain, and in the same night took wing from the column, to which he has never returned.
As we love to "march in good order," we begin with the plates, the most striking of which is the Frontispiece, Marcus Curtius, by Le Keux, from a design by Martin, which we are at a loss to describe. It requires a microscopic eye to fully appreciate all its beauties—yet the thousands of figures and the architectural background, are so clear and intelligible as to make our optic nerve sympathize with the labour of the artist. The next is a View on the Ganges, by Finden, after Daniell; Constancy, by Portbury, after Stephanoff, in which the female figure is loveliness personified; Eddystone during a Storm; the Proposal, a beautiful family group; the Cottage Kitchen, by Romney, after Witherington; and the Blind Piper, from a painting by Clennell, who, from too great anxiety in the pursuit of his profession, was some years since deprived of reason, which he has never recovered.
In the poetical department we notice the Retreat, some beautiful lines by J. Montgomery; Ellen Strathallan, a pathetic legend, by Mrs. Pickersgill; St. Mary of the Lows, by the Ettrick Shepherd; Xerxes, a beautiful composition, by C. Swain, Esq.; the Banks of the Ganges, a descriptive poem, by Capt. McNaghten; Lydford Bridge, a fearful incident, by the author of Dartmoor; Alice, a tale of merrie England, by W.H. Harrison; and two pleasing pieces by the talented editor. Our extract is
Langsyne!—how doth the word come back With magic meaning to the heart, As Memory roams the sunny track, From which Hope's dreams were loath to part! No joy like by-past joy appears; For what is gone we peak and pine. Were life spun out a thousand years, It could not match Langsyne!
Langsyne!—the days of childhood warm, When, tottering by a mother's knee, Each sight and sound had power to charm, And hope was high, and thought was free. Langsyne!—the merry schoolboy days— How sweetly then life's sun did shine! Oh! for the glorious pranks and plays, The raptures of Langsyne!
Langsyne!—yes, In the sound, I hear The rustling of the summer grove, And view those angel features near, Which first awoke the heart to love. How sweet it is, in pensive mood, At windless midnight to recline, And fill the mental solitude With spectres from Langsyne!
Langsyne!—ah, where are they who shared With us its pleasures bright and blithe? Kindly with some hath fortune fared; And some have bowed beneath the scythe Of death; while others, scattered far, O'er foreign lands at fate repine, Oft wandering forth, 'neath twilight's star, To muse on dear Langsyne!
Langsyne!—the heart can never be Again so full of guileless truth— Langsyne! the eyes no more shall see, Ah, no! the rainbow hopes of youth. Langsyne! with thee resides a spell To raise the spirit, and refine Farewell!—there can be no farewell To thee, loved, lost Langsyne!
Of the prose articles, we have already given some specimens—The Hour Too Many, a fortnight since; and Vicenza, just quoted. The next we notice is Recollections of Pere la Chaise, for the graphic accuracy of which we can answer; Eliza Carthago, an African anecdote, by Mrs. Bowditch; Terence O'Flaherty, a humorous story, by the Modern Pythagorean of Blackwood; two interesting stories of Modern Greece; a highly-wrought Persian Tale, by the late Henry Neele; Miss Mitford's charming Cricketing Sketch; the Maid of the Beryl, by Mrs. Hofland; a Chapter of Eastern Apologues, by the Ettrick Shepherd; the Goldsmith of Westcheap, a story of the olden time—rather too long; and a characteristic Naval Sketch.
As we have already drawn somewhat freely on the present volume, we may adduce that as the best proof of the high opinion we entertain of its merits. The editor has only two or three pieces; but the excellent taste and judgment displayed in the editorship of the "Forget-me-not" entitle it to a foremost place among the "Annuals for 1829."
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The Literary Souvenir,
Edited by Alaric A. Watts, Esq.
If the present were the first volume of the Literary Souvenir, the name of the editor would be a passport to popularity; but as this is the fifth year of its publication, any recommendation of ours would be supererogatory.
But the Souvenir for 1829, realizes that delightful union of painting, engraving, and literature, (at whose beneficial influence we have glanced in our accompanying number) even more fully than its predecessors. Ten out of the twelve embellishments are from celebrated pictures, and the whole are by first-rate engravers. Of their cost we spoke cursorily in a recent number; so that we shall only particularize a few of the most striking.
The engravings are of larger size than heretofore, and, for the most part, more brilliant in design and execution than any previous year. We can only notice the Sisters, (frontispiece) full of graceful and pleasing effect, by J.H. Robinson, after Stephanoff; Cleopatra, on the Cydnus, a splendid aquatic pageant, by E. Goodall, after Danby; the Proposal, consisting of two of the most striking figures in Leslie's exquisite painting of May Day in Queen Elizabeth's time; a Portrait of Sir Walter Scott, from Leslie's painting, and considered the best likeness; this is from the burin of an American artist of high promise. We must not, however, forget Ehrenbreitstein, on the Rhine, by John Pye, from a drawing by J.M.W. Turner, which is one of the most delightful prints in the whole series.
In the poetry are Cleopatra, well according with the splendid scene it is intended to illustrate—and I think of Thee, a tender lament—both by Mr. T.K. Hervey; Mrs. Hemans has contributed four exquisite pieces: Night, the Ship at Sea, and the Mariner's Grave, by Mr. John Malcolm, only make us regret that we have not room for either in our columns; Mary Queen of Scots, by H.G. Bell, Esq., is one of the most interesting historical ballads we have lately met with; the Epistle from Abbotsford, is a piece of pleasantry, which would have formed an excellent pendent to Sir Walter's Study, in our last; Zadig and Astarte, by Delta, are in the writer's most plaintive strain; the recollections of our happiest years, are harmoniously told in "Boyhood;" a ballad entitled "The Captive of Alhama," dated from Woburn Abbey, and signed R——, is a soul-stirring production, attributed to Lord John Russel; and the Pixies of Devon has the masterly impress of the author of Dartmoor. And last in our enumeration, though first in our liking, are the following by the editor:—Invocation to the Echo of a Sea Shell; King Pedro's Revenge, with a well written historiette; the Youngling of the Flock, full of tenderness and parental affection; and some Stanzas, for our admiration of which we have not an epithet at hand, so we give the original.
ON BURNING A PACKET OF LETTERS.
By A.A. Watts, Esq.
Relics of love, and life's enchanted spring, Of hopes born, rainbow-like, of smiles and tears:— With trembling hand do I unloose the string, Twined round the records of my youthful years.
Yet why preserve memorials of a dream, Too bitter-sweet to breathe of aught but pain! Why court fond memory for a fitful gleam Of faded bliss, that cannot bloom again!
The thoughts and feelings these sad relics bring Back on my heart, I would not now recall:— Since gentler ties around its pulses cling, Shall spells less hallowed hold them still in thrall!
Can withered hopes that never came to flower Match with affections long and dearly tried Love, that has lived through many a stormy hour, Through good and ill,—and time and change defied!
Perish each record that might wake a thought That would be treason to a faith like this!— Why should the spectres of past joys be brought To fling their shadows o'er my present bliss!
Yet,—ere we part for ever,—let me pay A last, fond tribute to the sainted dead: Mourn o'er these wrecks of passion's earlier day, With tears as wild as once I used to shed.
What gentle words are flashing on my eye! What tender truths in every line I trace! Confessions—penned with many a deep drawn sigh.— Hopes—like the dove—with but one resting place!
How many a feeling, long—too long—represt, Like autumn flowers, here opened out at last! How many a vision of the lonely breast Its cherish'd radiance on these leaves hath cast?
And ye, pale violets, whose sweet breath hath driven Back on my soul the dreams I fain would quell; To whose faint perfume such wild power is given, To call up visions—only loved too well;—
Ye too must perish!—Wherefore now divide Tributes of love—first offerings of the heart;— Gifts—that so long have slumbered side by side; Tokens of feeling—never meant to part!
A long farewell:—sweet flowers, sad scrolls, adieu! Yes, ye shall be companions to the last:— So perish all that would revive anew The fruitless memories of the faded past!
But, lo! the flames are curling swiftly round Each fairer vestige of my youthful years; Page after page that searching blaze hath found, Even whilst I strive to trace them through my tears.
The Hindoo widow, in affection strong, Dies by her lord, and keeps her faith unbroken; Thus perish all which to those wrecks belong, The living memory—with the lifeless token!
Barry Cornwall has contributed several minor pieces, though we fear his poetical reputation will not be increased by either of them.
Some of the minor pieces are gems in their way, and one of the most beautiful will be found appended to our current Number.
To the prose:—The first in the volume is "the Sisters," a pathetic tale of about thirty pages, which a little of the fashionable affectation of some literary coxcombs might fine-draw over a brace of small octavos. As it stands, the story is gracefully, yet energetically told, and is entitled to the place it occupies. The author of Pelham (vide the newspapers) has a pleasant conceit in the shape of a whole-length of fashion, which, being the best and shortest in its line that we have met with, will serve to enliven our extracts:—
TOO HANDSOME FOR ANY THING!
Mr. Ferdinand Fitzroy was one of those models of perfection of which a human father and mother can produce but a single example,—Mr. Ferdinand Fitzroy was therefore an only son. He was such an amazing favourite with both his parents that they resolved to ruin him; accordingly, he was exceedingly spoiled, never annoyed by the sight of a book, and had as much plum-cake as he could eat. Happy would it have been for Mr. Ferdinand Fitzroy could he always have eaten plum-cake, and remained a child. "Never," says the Greek Tragedian, "reckon a mortal happy till you have witnessed his end." A most beautiful creature was Mr. Ferdinand Fitzroy! Such eyes—such hair—such teeth—such a figure—such manners, too,—and such an irresistible way of tying his neckcloth! When he was about sixteen, a crabbed old uncle represented to his parents the propriety of teaching Mr. Ferdinand Fitzroy to read and write. Though not without some difficulty, he convinced them,—for he was exceedingly rich, and riches in an uncle are wonderful arguments respecting the nurture of a nephew whose parents have nothing to leave him. So our hero was sent to school. He was naturally (I am not joking now) a very sharp, clever boy; and he came on surprisingly in his learning. The schoolmaster's wife liked handsome children.—"What a genius will Master Ferdinand Fitzroy be, if you take pains with him!" said she, to her husband.
"Pooh, my dear, it is of no use to take pains with him."
"And why, love?"
"Because he is a great deal too handsome ever to be a scholar."
"And that's true enough, my dear!" said the schoolmaster's wife.
So, because he was too handsome to be a scholar, Mr. Ferdinand Fitzroy remained the lag of the fourth form!
They took our hero from school.—"What profession shall he follow?" said his mother.
"My first cousin is the Lord Chancellor," said his father, "let him go to the bar."
The Lord Chancellor dined there that day: Mr. Ferdinand Fitzroy was introduced to him; his lordship was a little, rough-faced, beetle-browed, hard-featured man, who thought beauty and idleness the same thing—and a parchment skin the legitimate complexion for a lawyer.
"Send him to the bar!" said he, "no, no, that will never do!—Send him into the army; he is much too handsome to become a lawyer."
"And that's true enough, my lord!" said the mother. So they bought Mr. Ferdinand Fitzroy a cornetcy in the —— regiment of dragoons.
Things are not learned by inspiration. Mr. Ferdinand Fitzroy had never ridden at school, except when he was hoisted; he was, therefore, a very indifferent horseman; they sent him to the riding-school, and everybody laughed at him.
"He is a d—d ass!" said Cornet Horsephiz, who was very ugly; "a horrid puppy!" said Lieutenant St. Squintem, who was still uglier; "if he does not ride better he will disgrace the regiment," said Captain Rivalhate, who was very good-looking; "if he does not ride better, we will cut him!" said Colonel Everdrill, who was a wonderful martinet; "I say, Mr. Bumpemwell (to the riding-master,) make that youngster ride less like a miller's sack."
"Pooh, sir, he will never ride better."
"And why the d—-l will he not?"
"Bless you, colonel, he is a great deal too handsome for a cavalry officer!"
"True!" said Cornet Horsephiz.
"Very true," said Lieutenant St. Squintem.
"We must cut him!" said the Colonel.
And Mr. Ferdinand Fitzroy was accordingly cut.
Out hero was a youth of susceptibility—he quitted the —— regiment, and challenged the colonel. The colonel was killed!
"What a terrible blackguard is Mr. Ferdinand Fitzroy!" said the colonel's relations.
"Very true!" said the world.
The parents were in despair!—They were not rich; but our hero was an only son, and they sponged hard upon the crabbed old uncle! "he is very clever," said they both, "and may do yet."
So they borrowed some thousands from the uncle, and bought his beautiful nephew a seat in parliament.
Mr. Ferdinand Fitzroy was ambitious, and desirous of retrieving his character. He fagged like a dragon—conned pamphlets and reviews—got Ricardo by heart—and made notes on the English constitution.
He rose to speak.
"What a handsome fellow!" whispered one member.
"Ah, a coxcomb!" said another.
"Never do for a speaker!" said a third, very audibly.
And the gentlemen on the opposite benches sneered and heard!—Impudence is only indigenous in Milesia, and an orator is not made in a day. Discouraged by his reception, Mr. Ferdinand Fitzroy grew a little embarrassed.
"Told you so!" said one of his neighbours.
"Fairly broke down!" said another.
"Too fond of his hair to have any thing in his head," said a third, who was considered a wit.
"Hear, hear!" cried the gentlemen on the opposite benches,
Mr. Ferdinand Fitzroy sat down—he had not shone; but, in justice, he had not failed. Many a first-rate speaker had began worse; and many a country member had been declared a phoenix of promise upon half his merit.
Not so, thought the heroes of corn-laws.
"Your Adonises never make orators!" said a crack speaker with a wry nose.
"Nor men of business either," added the chairman of a committee, with a face like a kangaroo's.
"Poor devil!" said the civilest of the set. "He's a deuced deal too handsome for a speaker! By Jove, he is going to speak again—this will never do; we must cough him down!"
And Mr. Ferdinand Fitzroy was accordingly coughed down.
Our hero was now seven or eight and twenty, handsomer than ever, and the adoration of the young ladies at Almack's.
"We have nothing to leave you," said the parents, who had long spent their fortune, and now lived on the credit of having once enjoyed it.—"You are the handsomest man in London; you must marry an heiress."
"I will," said Mr. Ferdinand Fitzroy.
Miss Helen Convolvulus was a charming young lady, with a hare-lip and six thousand a-year. To Miss Helen Convolvulus then our hero paid his addresses.
Heavens! what an uproar her relations made about the matter. "Easy to see his intentions," said one: "a handsome fortune-hunter, who wants to make the best of his person!"—"handsome is that handsome does," says another; "he was turned out of the army, and murdered his colonel;"—"never marry a beauty," said a third;—"he can admire none but himself;"—"will have so many mistresses," said a fourth;—"make you perpetually jealous," said a fifth;—"spend your fortune," said a sixth;—"and break your heart," said a seventh.
Miss Helen Convolvulus was prudent and wary. She saw a great deal of justice in what was said; and was sufficiently contented with liberty and six thousand a-year, not to be highly impatient for a husband; but our heroine had no aversion to a lover; especially to so handsome a lover as Mr. Ferdinand Fitzroy. Accordingly she neither accepted nor discarded him; but kept him on hope, and suffered him to get into debt with his tailor, and his coach-maker. On the strength of becoming Mr. Fitzroy Convolvulus. Time went on, and excuses and delays were easily found; however, our hero was sanguine, and so were his parents. A breakfast at Chiswick, and a putrid fever carried off the latter, within one week of each other; but not till they had blessed Mr. Ferdinand Fitzroy, and rejoiced that they had left him so well provided for.
Now, then, our hero depended solely upon the crabbed old uncle and Miss Helen Convolvulus; the former, though a baronet and a satirist was a banker and a man of business:—he looked very distastefully at the Hyperian curls and white teeth of Mr. Ferdinand Fitzroy.
"If I make you my heir," said he—"I expect you will continue the bank."
"Certainly, sir!" said the nephew.
"Humph!" grunted the uncle, "a pretty fellow for a banker!"
Debtors grew pressing to Mr. Ferdinand Fitzroy, and Mr. Ferdinand Fitzroy grew pressing to Miss Helen Convolvulus. "It is a dangerous thing," said she, timidly, "to marry a man so admired,—will you always be faithful?"
"By heaven!" cried the lover.
"Heigho!" sighed Miss Helen Convolvulus, and Lord Rufus Pumilion entering, the conversation was changed.
But the day of the marriage was fixed; and Mr. Ferdinand Fitzroy bought a new curricle. By Apollo, how handsome he looked in it! A month before the wedding day the uncle died. Miss Helen Convolvulus was quite tender in her condolences—"Cheer up, my Ferdinand," said she, "for your sake, I have discarded Lord Rufus Pumilion!" "Adorable condescension!" cried our hero;—"but Lord Rufus Pumilion is only four feet two, and has hair like a peony."
"All men are not so handsome as Mr. Ferdinand Fitzroy!" was the reply.
Away goes our hero, to be present at the opening of his uncle's will.
"I leave," said the testator (who I have before said was a bit of a satirist,) "my share of the bank, and the whole or my fortune, legacies excepted, to"—(here Mr. Ferdinand Fitzroy wiped his beautiful eyes with a cambric handkerchief, exquisitely brode) "my natural son, John Spriggs, an industrious, pains-taking youth, who will do credit to the bank. I did once intend to have made my nephew Ferdinand my heir; but so curling a head can have no talent for accounts. I want my successor to be a man of business, not beauty; and Mr. Ferdinand Fitzroy is a great deal too handsome for a banker; his good looks will, no doubt, win him any heiress in town. Meanwhile, I leave him, to buy a dressing-case, a thousand pounds."
"A thousand devils!" said Mr. Ferdinand Fitzroy, banging out of the room. He flew to his mistress. She was not at home. "Lies," says the Italian proverb, "have short legs;" but truths, if they are unpleasant, have terrible long ones! The next day Mr. Ferdinand Fitzroy received a most obliging note of dismissal.
"I wish you every happiness," said Miss Helen Convolvulus, in conclusion—"but my friends are right; you are much too handsome for a husband!"
And the week after, Miss Helen Convolvulus became Lady Rufus Pumilion.
"Alas! sir," said the bailiff, as a day or two after the dissolution of parliament, he was jogging along with Mr. Ferdinand Fitzroy, in a hackney coach bound to the King's Bench,—"Alas! sir, what a pity it is to take so handsome a gentleman to prison!"
The MS. found in a Madhouse, by the same author, is perhaps too horrific for this terror-loving age; but it is by no means less clever on that account; toute en huile would not do. Among the other tales are the Rock of the Candle, Irish, by the author of Holland-Tide,—nearly forty pages; and the Queen of May and Bridget Plantagenet,—of the olden time—which would be spoiled by abridgment for our present purpose. The same reason prevents our giving more than our commendation of Miss Mitford's General and his Lady, who, we think are new company for our fair authoress.
In the Vision of Purgatory, by Dr. Maginn, (Irish, of course,) the serious and ludicrous are mixed up with an abundance of skill and humour; this piece should be read after the Madhouse sketch.
The Souvenir is opportunely dedicated to Mr. Peel; and whether as a work of art, or elegant literature, it is decidedly worthy of such distinguished notice. If the argument of the fine arts contributing to virtue hold good, then the patronage of a minister will be patriotically bestowed on such works as the Literary Souvenir.
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Edited by S. C. Hall, Esq.
It would be difficult and somewhat egotistical for us to describe the pleasure we felt on our receiving this interesting volume for notice in our pages. The amiable spirit which breathes throughout its pages, and the good taste which uniformly dictates its editorship have secured the Amulet an extensive, and we are disposed to think, a more permanent, popularity than is attached to other works of similar form.
[Footnote 1] In a few words, the Amulet reached us in an early stage of convalescence, when we began to feel that "no medicine is better for the weakness of the body than that which soothes and tranquillizes the soul." We are not suiting the action to the word; on the contrary, we would desire to wear such truths as the Amulet enjoins—in our "heart of hearts," as well in returning health and vigour as in the above moments.
The present volume contains Fourteen Plates, among which are Murillo's Spanish Flower Girl; Etty's Guardian Angels, by Finden; a copy of Sir Thomas Lawrence's portrait of Lady Georgiana Fane, from Colnaghi's print; Eastlake's Italian Mother; one of Collins's last pictures, The Fisherman Leaving Home; The Temple of Victory, from Gandy,—all which are first-rate works of art.
There are eighty contributions, as the bookmakers say, "in prose and verse," with a predominance of the former. The first of the prose is a Strange Story of every day, by William Kennedy—well told, but too long for extract. The Mountain Daisy, a village sketch, by the Editor's lady, is gracefully written; and with the Fisherman, by the Editor, is a fair characteristic of the amiable spirit to which we have already alluded; and in the same tone of good feeling is the Rose of Fennock Dale, a true story by the fair authoress of the Mountain Daisy; and the Wandering Minstrels, by the Rev. F.A. Cox, L.L.D. Miss Mitford has contributed one of her inimitable sketches, Little Moses; but the most staple articles in the volume are The Battle of Bunaania, one of the Georgian Islands, by Mr. Ellis, the missionary; Notices of the Canadian Indians, by Dr. Walsh; a Journey over the Brocken, by Mr. Coleridge; and a Fragment, by Miss Jane Porter. Our prose selection is from the last of these articles; but we intend transferring a portion of Dr. Walsh's "Notices" to our next "Manners and Customs."
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THE SOUTH SEA CHIEF.
By Miss Jane Porter.
While in the north of Europe, I met with a rather extraordinary person, whose account of himself might afford a subject for a pretty romance; a sort of new Paul and Virginia; but with what different catastrophe, it is not fair to presage. He described himself as a Frenchman, a native of Bourdeaux; where, at an early age, he was put on board a merchant ship, to learn the profession of a seaman. About that time war broke out between Great Britain, and the lately proclaimed Republic of France; and the vessel he was in, being attacked, and taken by an English man-of-war, he was carried a prisoner into England. When there, his naturally enterprising character would not submit itself to a state of captivity; and, soon making his wishes understood, he entered on board a British sloop, bound to New Holland. While gazing with rapt astonishment on the seeming new heavens which canopied that, to him, also, new portion of the globe; while the stars of the Cross were exciting his youthful wonder; and he could no where find the constellations of the Great, or Little Bear in the midnight firmament, the sky was suddenly overcast with a cloud, like the pall of nature, and a fearful tempest burst from it. The scene was dreadful on that wide waste of waters; and the vessel being driven at last into the rocky labyrinths of the Society Isles, was finally wrecked on one not many leagues from the celebrated Otaheite. Laonce, the young Frenchman, and one seaman of the sloop, an honest north Briton, were the only persons who escaped; for when morning broke, they found themselves, restored from insensibility, lying on the shore, and not a trace of the ship, or of those who had navigated her, was to be discerned. The inhabitants of the island, apparently wild savages by their almost naked state, instead of seizing them as a prey, took them to their huts, fed, and cherished them. Hope for awhile flattered them that some other vessel, bound for New Holland, might also be driven upon those islands, though not with the same hard fate, and that by her means they might be released, and conveyed back to Europe. But days, and weeks, and months, wearing away without any such arrival, they began to regard the expectation less, and to turn their minds to take a more intimate interest in objects around them. Time, indeed, accustomed them to what might be called barbarous, in the manners of the people; by degrees, even themselves laid aside their European habits; they exchanged their clothing for the half-exposed fashion of the native chiefs; and, adopting their pursuits and pleasures, became hunters, and bold fishers in the light canoe. Finally, they learnt to speak the language, as if they had been born in the island; and, at length, sealed their insular destiny by marrying native women. Laonce was hardly eighteen when he was first cast ashore amongst them; but having a handsome person, and those engaging manners, from a naturally amiable disposition added to a gentleman's breeding, which never fail agreeably impressing even the rudest minds, the eye of female tenderness soon found him out; and the maiden, being the daughter of the king, and beautiful withal, had only to hint her wishes to her royal sire; and the king naming them to their distinguished object, she immediately became his happy bride. Laonce, becoming thus royally allied, and in the line of the throne, instantly received publicly the investiture of the highest order of Otaheitan nobility, namely, a species of tattooing appropriated to chiefs alone. The limbs of the body thus distinguished, are traversed all over with a damasked sort of pattern, while the particular royal insignia is marked on the left side of the forehead, and below the eye, like a thick mass of dark tattooing.
But the young Frenchman, and his north Briton companion, had reserved to themselves means of increasing their consequence, still more than by their mere personal merits, with their new fellow-countrymen. A few days after the wreck, the subsiding elements had cast up certain articles of the ship, which they managed to turn to good account: the most valuable of them were fire-arms and some gunpowder, and a few other implements, both of defence, and use in household, or ship's repairs. The fire-arms seemed to endow the new young chief, just engrafted into the reigning stock, with a kind of preternatural authority; and, by the aid of his old messmate, and new bosom-coadjutor, he exerted all his influence over their awed minds, to prevent their recurrence to the frightful practice he had seen on his first landing, of devouring the prisoners they took in war. His marriage had invested him with the power of a natively born son of the king; and, having made himself master of their language, his persuasions were so conclusive with the leading warriors, that, in the course of a very little time, it was rare to hear that so dreadful a species of vengeance was ever tasted, even in stealth. However, so addicted were some few of the fiercer sort, to this ancient triumph of their ancestors, that he found it necessary to add commands to persuasions, and then threats to commands; and having expressed in the strongest terms his abhorrence of so cowardly and brutal a practice, he told them, that the first man he saw attempt to touch the flesh of a prisoner to devour it, he would instantly put the offender to death.
Shortly after this warning, a fray took place between the natives of his father-in-law's dominions, and their enemies from a hostile island. A number of captives were taken; and all under his command held his former orders in such reverence, that none, excepting two (and they had before shown refractory dispositions,) presumed to disobey his edict of mercy. But these men, in derision of his lenity, particularly to the female sex, selected a woman prisoner to be their victim; and slaying her, as they would have done a beast, they commenced their horrible repast upon her body. Laonce descried the scene at a distance just as they had prepared their hideous banquet, and, going resolutely towards them, levelled his musket at the cannibals. One of the wretches was killed with the horrid morsel in his mouth, and a second shot, brought down his voracious accomplice in the act. This bold example so awed all within ken of the fact, that from that hour, until the day he quitted the island, a period of fourteen years, no captive ever met with the interdicted fate. Though the old sovereign continued in life, he consigned the power to his new son, and Laonce became virtually king of the place. Indeed, so reconciled was he and his friend the north Briton (who also married) to the spot which had first sheltered them, and then adopted them even as its legitimate offspring, that although many ships of different nations touched there, no inducements could prevail on them to quit their sea-girt home of simple nature, for all the blandishments which civilized life could produce. Yet Laonce took a hospitable delight in showing every act of friendship in his power to the captains of the vessels; refitting them with food and fresh water; and rendering them much essential service, in pointing out how to manage with safety the difficult navigation round the several islands.
The animation with which he recited these circumstances, after he was far from the spot where they took place, strongly portrayed the fearless independence of his former life. He spoke with the decision of one whose commands had been unappealable, and all the barbarian chief lightened in his eyes. But when he recalled his home there, his family happiness, his countenance fell, his eyes clouded, and he spoke in half-stifled words. He described his palace-hut; his arms, his hunting spear, his canoe; his return to his hut, with the fruits of the chase; the graceful, delicate person of his wife; her clinging fondness on his entrance; his tenderness for her, and for his children—for she bore to him a son and a daughter; and, while he spoke, he burst into tears, and sobbed like a child. "I was then beloved," said he, "Honoured!—master of all around me; Now, I am nothing:—no home—no wife—no friend! I am an outcast here!—when there! Oh, Berea! wilt thou have forgotten me?" His tears, and wild agonies, prevented him proceeding; and my eyes could not remain dry, when seeing such genuine grief, such real suffering.
But the cause of his being separated from his South-Sea home, and his beloved Berea and her babes, remains to be told. It appears, that about three years before the period I met him, a Russian ship, sent on a voyage of discoveries, touched at the island where Laonce had become naturalized. The captain was received with royal hospitality by the king; and the Prince Laonce became the glad interpreter between the Europeans and his august father-in-law—for the captain spoke French. And, besides procuring the crew all they wanted for common comforts, the young chief loaded the commander and his officers with useful presents. One night it blew a violent gale, and the Russian captain, deeming it impossible to keep his anchorage in a bay so full of unseen dangers, made signals to the land, in hopes of exciting some native, experienced in the navigation, to come off, and direct him how to steer. Every moment increased his jeopardy; the storm augmented; and, at each growing blast, he expected to be torn from his cables, and dashed to atoms against the rocks. No one moved from the shore. Again the signals were repeated: Laonce had risen from his bed on hearing the first. Who was there amongst all in that island, excepting his British comrade, who would have known how to move a ship through those boiling waves? The light canoe, and a vessel of heavy burthen, were different objects! His comrade was then watching by the side of an almost dying wife, who had just made him the father of his first-born son. Could Laonce summon him from that spot of his heart's tenderest duties, to attend to the roaring guns of distress from a stranger vessel? Impossible! He rose, and looked out on the night. He listened to the second signal, he wrung his hands, and, sighing, was returning to his couch again. His wife had then risen also. She clasped her arms round him, and a big tear stood in both her eyes, "You tell me," said she, "that your people do not make those thunders to heaven, and to earth, till they are drowning. You know you can save them all. Go, Lao,"—and she smiled; "go; and the foreign chief, after you have saved him, will give you something for me—either a looking-glass, or a silk handkerchief. Go, Lao."
He wound his arms round the gentle pleader; and, almost ashamed that the father and the husband in his heart, should make him calculate between his own life and that of the gallant crew, he told her, that the tempest raged too tremendously for him to dare stemming it. But she laughingly repulsed his caresses, accusing his fondness for her as the inducement of his assumed apprehensions; and being too long accustomed to the rashness of her own people, in braving every weather, to believe any plea of positive danger, she still persisted; saying she must have a silk handkerchief that night from yon ship, or she should think he loved his sound sleep better than he did his fond Berea.
The enthusiastic love which still warmed the faithful husband's breast, and a third signal of distress from the struggling vessel, mastered his better judgment, and, seizing his canoe, he dashed into the foaming waves and boldly stemmed their fury to the object of his mission. The overjoyed crew, as they heard his voice hailing them through the storm, cast out a rope, by which they hoisted him into their cracking ship. The most rapturous acknowledgments from the captain, greeted him as soon as he jumped on the deck; and the eager seamen called him their deliverer. He was happy! he said, he was happy in the achievement of what he had done; he had obeyed the wish of his beloved Berea, and he had survived the lashing surge. He was happy, in the confidence that he should rescue the gallant vessel he came to take under his control. But that hour of happiness was his last. He took the helm in his hands; he gave the requisite directions to the seamen, for the management of the ship; and he soon steered her out of the dangers of the bay, till she rode in safety on the main ocean. He then asked for a boat to carry him on shore, for his canoe had been crushed by an accident. But the wind still blowing hurricanes, they would not venture the loss of one of their boats: and during the hot contentions between him, and the ungrateful chief of the vessel he had preserved, they were driven out far to sea; whence his swimming arm, had he plunged into the boisterous deep, could have been of no use to him. Indignation, despair, overwhelmed him. None appeared to understand the nature of his feelings; all pretending to wonder that a European born, should not be grateful to any occasion that would carry him away from a savage country like that. In vain Laonce remonstrated; in vain he talked of his wife and children; the captain and his sailors laughed, promised him better of both sorts among his kindred whites; and when he cursed their hardened hearts and cruel treachery, they laughed again, and left him to his misery. At last, when the protracted hurricane subsided, and the vessel's log-book proved that she had been driven several degrees leeward of the Society Isles, abandoned to a sullen despair, he ceased to accuse or to reproach; he ceased even to speak on any subject, but cast himself into his lonely berth during the day, that he might not be irritated to continued unavailing madness, by the sight of the ingrates who had betrayed him. To his straining eyes, nothing but the silvery line of the starlit sea was on that distant horizon; but his heart's vision pierced farther, and he beheld the sleepers in that home;—no, not the sleepers! His disconsolate, his despairing wife, tearing her bright locks, and beating the tender bosom he must no longer clasp to his own. His children—"Oh! my babes!" cried he, and the cry of a father's heart for once pierced the obdurate bosom of the captain, who, in that moment, had happened to come upon the deck to examine the night. To ease his Otaheitan benefactor, he declared he had thus carried him off, to share in the honour of his expected discoveries. The unhappy chief, in then answering him, begged, that if he had, indeed, any spark of honesty towards him, he would prove it, by obeying his wish in one thing at least; and that was, to set him on shore on the first European settlement they should fall in with. "Do this," said he, "and I may yet believe you have honour. For honour is a man's own act; a discovery is fortune's; and for its advantages, did I stay, I should not have to thank you. But I want none such. Set me on shore, and there I will follow my own destiny."
To this poor request, the iron-souled commander of the vessel, at last consented; and in the course of some weeks after, Laonce was landed on the coast of Kamschatka. His secret intent was to lie in wait for the possibility of some ship touching at the port where he was set ashore, that might be bound to the track of his beloved islands; but not uttering a word of this, to the reprobate wretch who had torn him thence, he simply bade him "farewell! and to use his next pilot better;" so saying, they parted for ever. But weeks and months passed away, and no vessel bound for the South Seas, showed itself in that distant latitude; and its gloomy fogs, and chilling atmosphere, its pale sky, where the sun never shone for more than three or four hours in the day, seemed to wither up his life with his waning hopes! In no way did it resemble the land he had left; the warm, and the genial heavens of the home he was yet bent to find again;—and he left Kamschatka for some more propitious port; but, like Sinbad the Sailor, he wandered in vain. A cruel spell seemed set on him, or on the spirit of adventure; for in no place could he hear of a vessel going the way of his prayers. At last he arrived, by a most tedious and circuitous journey at Moscow, with a design to lay his case before the young and ardent Alexander, the then Emperor of Russia; with the hope that his benevolence, and a sense of what he had done for the vessel which had betrayed him, would incline his majesty to make some effort to return him to his island, and his family.
That this hope was not vain, the character of the good Alexander, since proved by a life of undeviating promptness to all acts of humanity, may be a sufficient voucher. But whether the homeward-bound chief, found, on his setting his foot again upon the ground whence he had been so cruelly rifled; and whence, indeed, the innocent confidence, the playful bravery of his fond wife, had urged him; whether he found his cherishly-remembered home, yet standing as he left it; and her, still the tender and the true to his never-wandered heart; and whether his children sprang to his knee, to share the parental caress; and the people around, raised the haloo of joy to the returned son of their king!—whether these fondly-expected greetings hailed his arrival, cannot be absolutely told; for the vessel that took him out, was to make the circuit of the globe, ere it returned; hence, from that, and other circumstances, the facts have never reached the narrator of this little history, of what was really the meeting between Laonce and his Berea; of the young chief, and the natives he had devotedly served! But can the faithful hearts of wedded love, doubt the one; or manly attachment suspect the other? For the honour of human nature, we will believe that all was right; and, in the faith of a humble Christian, we will believe, that "he who shewed mercy, found mercy!"; That he is now restored to his island-home, and to his happy, grateful family!
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Among the poetical contributions are The Angels' Call, and Woman and Fame, by Mrs. Hemans; Carthage, and Stanzas, by T.K. Hervey; the Chapel on the Cliff, by W. Kennedy; all entitled to high praise. A Christian's Day, by Miss A.M. Porter, is a sweet devotional composition. The extract from one of Mr. Atherstone's unpublished books of the Fall of Nineveh, maintains the high opinion already formed of the published part. Mr. C. Swain has two beautiful pieces. We have only room to name those gems of the poetry, viz. Wearie's Well, and another beautiful ballad, by W. Motherwell; and some exquisite lines by the Rev. G. Croly; and to quote the following:—
The wind is sweeping o'er the hill; It hath a mournful sound, As if it felt the difference Its weary wing hath found. A little while that wandering wind Swept over leaf and flower; For there was green for every tree, And bloom for every hour.
It wandered through the pleasant wood, And caught the dove's lone song; And by the garden-beds, and bore The rose's breath along. But hoarse and sullenly it sweeps; No rose is opening now— No music, for the wood-dove's nest Is vacant on the bough.
Oh, human heart and wandering wind, Go look upon the past; The likeness is the same with each— Their summer did not last. Each mourns above the things it loved— One o'er a flower and leaf; The other over hopes and joys, Whose beauty was as brief.
We congratulate the editor and the public on the past success of the Amulet, especially as it proves that a pious feeling co-exists with a taste for refined amusement, and that advantageously. There is nothing austere in any page of the Amulet, nor anything so frivolous and light as to be objectionable; but it steers in the medium, and consequently must be acceptable to every well-regulated mind. Indeed, many of the pieces in the present volume may be read and re-read with increased advantage; whilst two only are unequal to the names attached to them.
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Edited by Thomas Hood, Esq.
The present is the first year of the Gem, which, as a work of art or literature, fully comes within the import of its title. It is likewise the first appearance of Mr. Hood as the editor of an "annual," who, with becoming diffidence, appears to rely on the "literary giants" of his muster-roll, rather than on his individual talent. Notwithstanding such an editorship must have resembled the perplexity of Sinbad in the Valley of Diamonds, Mr. Hood's volume is almost unexceptionably good, whatever he may have rejected; and one of the best, if not the best, article in the whole work, has been contributed by the editor himself. Associated as Mr. Hood's name is with "whim and oddity," we, however, looked for more quips, quirks, and quiddities than he has given us, which we should have hailed as specially suited to the approaching festive season, and from their contrast with the contents of similar works, as more likely to attract by their novelty and humour.
The embellishments of the Gem, fifteen in number, have been selected by A. Cooper, Esq. R.A. The Death of Keeldar is a beautiful composition by Mr. Cooper, and is worthy of association with Sir Walter Scott's pathetic ballad. The Widow, by S. Davenport, from a picture by R. Leslie, R.A. is one of the most touching prints we have yet seen, and every one is capable of estimating its beauties, since its expression will be sure to fasten on the affections of the beholder. May Talbot, by J.C. Edwards, from a painting by A. Cooper, is admirable in design and execution. Of the Temptation on the Mount, engraved by W.R. Smith, after Martin, we have spoken in our accompanying Number; but as often as we look at the plate, we discover new beauties. It is a just idea of "all the kingdoms of the earth;" the distant effect is excellent, and the "exceeding high mountain" is ably represented. The faces in the Painter's Study are decidedly superior to the rest of the print. The Fisherman's Daughter, from a painting by Bone, is pleasing; and Venice, with the Embarkation of the Doge, is a stirring scene of pageantry and triumph.
Among the poetry is the Painter's Song, a pleasing composition, by Barry Cornwall, who has also The Victim, a dramatic sketch of twenty pages. Stanzas by Horace Smith, Esq. are a pleasant satire upon the little vanities of great people. We give the Dream of Eugene Aram in full, although it consists of nearly two pages of small type.:—
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THE DREAM OF EUGENE ARAM.
BY T. HOOD, ESQ.
[The late Admiral Burney went to school at an establishment where the unhappy Eugene Aram was usher subsequent to his crime. The admiral stated, that Aram was generally liked by the boys; and that he used to discourse to them about murder in somewhat of the spirit which is attributed to him in this poem.]
'Twas in the prime of summer time, An evening calm and cool, And four-and-twenty happy boys Came bounding out of school: There were some that ran and some that leapt, Like troutlets in a pool.
Away they sped with gamesome minds, And souls untouch'd by sin: To a level mead they came, and there They drave the wickets in: Pleasantly shone the setting sun Over the town of Lynn.
Like sportive deer they coursed about, And shouted as they ran,— Turning to mirth all things of earth, As only boyhood can; But the Usher sat remote from all— A melancholy man!
His hat was off, his vest apart, To catch heaven's blessed breeze— For a burning thought was in his brow, And his bosom ill at ease: So he lean'd his head on his hands, and read The book between his knees!
Leaf after leaf he turn'd it o'er, Nor ever glanc'd aside— For the peace of his soul he read that book In the golden eventide: Much study had made him very lean, And pale, and leaden-eyed.
At last, he shut the ponderous tome; With a fast and fervent grasp He strain'd the dusky covers close, And fixed the brazen hasp; "O God, could I so close my mind, And clasp it with a clasp!"
Then leaping on his feet upright, Some moody turns he took,— Now up the mead, then down the mead, And past a shady nook,— And, lo! he saw a little boy That pored upon a book!
"My gentle lad, what is't you read— Romance or fairy fable? Or is it some historic page, Of kings and crowns unstable?" The young boy gave an upward glance,— "It is The Death of Abel."
The Usher took six hasty strides, As smit with sudden pain,— Six hasty strides beyond the place, Then slowly back again; And down he sat beside the lad, And talk'd with him of Cain;
And, long since then, of bloody men, Whose deeds tradition saves; Of lonely folk cut off unseen, And hid in sudden graves; Of horrid stabs, in groves forlorn, And murders done in caves.
And how the sprites of injured men Shriek upward from the sod,— Ay, how the ghostly hand will point To show the burial clod; And unknown facts of guilty acts Are seen in dreams from God!
He told how murderers walk the earth Beneath the curse of Cain,— With crimson clouds before their eyes, And flames about their brain: For blood has left upon their souls Its everlasting stain!
"And well," quoth he, "I know, for truth, Their pangs must be extreme,— Wo, wo, unutterable wo,— Who spill life's sacred stream! For why? Methought, last night, I wrought A murder in a dream!
"One that had never done me wrong— A feeble man, and old: I led him to a lonely field, The moon shone clear and cold: Now here, said I, this man shall die, And I will have his gold!
"Two sudden blows with a ragged stick, And one with a heavy stone, One hurried gash with a hasty knife— And then the deed was done: There was nothing lying at my foot, But lifeless flesh and bone!
"Nothing but lifeless flesh and bone, That could not do me ill; And yet I fear'd him all the more, For lying there so still: There was a manhood in his look, That murder could not kill!
"And, lo! the universal air Seem'd lit with ghastly flame,— Ten thousand thousand dreadful eyes Were looking down in blame: I took the dead man by the hand, And call'd upon his name!
"Oh, God, it made me quake to see Such sense within the slain! But when I touch'd the lifeless clay, The blood gush'd out amain! For every clot, a burning spot, Was scorching in my brain!
"My head was like an ardent coal, My heart as solid ice; My wretched, wretched soul I knew Was at the Devil's price: A dozen times I groaned—the dead Had never groan'd but twice!
"And now from forth the frowning sky, From the heaven's topmost height, I heard a voice—the awful voice Of the blood-avenging sprite:— 'Thou guilty man! take up thy dead, And hide it from my sight!'
"I took the dreary body up, And cast it in a stream,— A sluggish water, black as ink. The depth was so extreme My gentle boy, remember this Is nothing but a dream!
"Down went the corse with a hollow plunge, And vanish'd in the pool— Anon I cleansed my bloody hands And wash'd my forehead cool, And sat among the urchins young That evening in the school!
"Oh, heaven, to think of their white souls, And mine so black and grim! I could not share in childish prayer. Nor join in evening hymn: Like a devil of the pit I seem'd, 'Mid holy cherubim!
"And peace went with them one and all, And each calm pillow spread— But Guilt was my grim chamberlain That lighted me to bed, And drew my midnight curtains round, With fingers bloody red!
"All night I lay in agony, In anguish dark and deep— My fever'd eyes I dared not close, But stared aghast at Sleep; For Sin had render'd unto her The keys of hell to keep!
"All night I lay in agony, From weary chime to chime, With one besetting horrid hint, That rack'd me all the time,— A mighty yearning, like the first Fierce impulse unto crime!
"One stern, tyrannic thought, that made All other thoughts its slave; Stronger and stronger every pulse Did that temptation crave,— Still urging me to go and see The dead man in his grave!
"Heavily I rose up,—as soon As light was in the sky.— And sought the black, accursed pool With a wild, misgiving eye; And I saw the dead in the river bed, For the faithless stream was dry!
"Merrily rose the lark, and shook The dewdrop from its wing; But I never mark'd its morning flight, I never heard it sing; For I was stooping once again Under the horrid thing.
"With breathless speed, like a soul in chase, I took him up and ran,— There was no time to dig a grave Before the day began: In a lonesome wood, with heaps of leaves, I hid the murdered man.
"And all that day I read in school, But my thought was other where: As soon as the mid-day task was done, In secret I was there; And a mighty wind had swept the leaves, And still the corse was bare!
"Then down I cast me on my face, And first began to weep, For I knew my secret then was one That earth refused to keep; Or land or sea, though he should be Ten thousand fathoms deep!
"So wills the fierce avenging sprite, Till blood for blood atones! Ay, though he's buried in a cave, And trodden down with stones, And years have rotted off his flesh— The world shall see his bones!
"Oh God, that horrid, horrid dream Besets me now awake! Again—again, with a dizzy brain, The human life I take; And my red right hand grows raging hot, Like Cranmer's at the stake.
"And still no peace for the restless clay Will wave or mould allow; The horrid thing pursues my soul,— It stands before me now!" The fearful boy looked up, and saw Huge drops upon his brow!
That very night, while gentle sleep The urchin eyelids kiss'd, Two stern-fac'd men set out from Lynn, Through the cold and heavy mist; And Eugene Aram walked between, With gyves upon his wrist.
Mr. Planche's versification of the homely proverb—Poverty parts good company—will create many good-natured smiles, and run counter with Mr. Kenney's To-morrow. Some of the minor pieces are very pleasing, especially two by Hartley Coleridge, Esq.
We confess we do not admire the taste which dictated Mr. C. Lamb's Widow; it is in every respect unworthy of the plate, and the feelings created by the two are very discordant. We love a joke, but to call a widow's sables a perpetual "black joke," disgusts rather than pleases us. The Funeral of General Crawford, by the author of The Subaltern is an affecting incident; and Nina St. Morin, by the author of May You Like It, is of the same character. Catching a Tartar, by Mansie Wauch, and the Station, an Irish Story, are full of humour; and May Day, by the editor, abounds with oddities. Thus, "the golden age is not to be regilt; pastoral is gone out, and Pan extinct—pans will not last for ever;" "horticultural hose, pruned so often at top to graft at bottom, that from long stockings they had dwindled into short socks;" "the contrast of a large marquee in canvass with the long lawn;" "Pan's sister, Patty, the wags called Patty Pan," &c. One of the finest stories in the Gem is the Rival Dreamers, by Mr. Banim; and curious enough, this is the third Annual in which we have met with the same legend. The present version is, however, the best narrative, which such of our readers as know the O'Hara Family will readily believe. We could abridge it for our present space; but it would be injustice to the author to pare down his beautiful descriptions; and we will endeavour to give place to the tale in a future Number. The Last Embarkation of the Doge of Venice is interesting; almost every incident connected with that huge pleasure-house is attractive, but one of the present, the Marriage of the Sea, is well told. The Shearmen's Miracle Play smacks pleasantly of "the good old times" of merry England. Miss Mitford has contributed two of her inimitable sketches—Harry Lewington and his Dog, and Tom Hopkins—the latter an excellent portrait of "the loudest, if not the greatest man" in the little town of Cranley. We must give the village lion, in little:—
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At the time of which I speak, Tom Hopkins was of an age somewhat equivocal; public fame called him fifty, whilst he himself stuck obstinately at thirty-five; of a stout active figure, rather manly than gentlemanly, and a bold, jovial visage, in excellent keeping with his person, distinguished by round, bright, stupid black eyes, an aquiline nose, a knowing smile, and a general comely vulgarity of aspect. His voice was hoarse and deep, his manner bluff and blunt, and his conversation loud and boisterous. With all these natural impediments to good company, the lowness of his origin, recent in their memories, and the flagrant fact of his residence in a country town, staring them in the face, Mr. Tom Hopkins made his way into almost every family of consideration in the neighbourhood. Sportsmanship, sheer sportsmanship, the qualification that, more than any other, commands the respect of your great English landholder, surmounted every obstacle.
With the ladies, he made his way by different qualities; in the first place he was a character, an oddity, and the audacity of his vulgarity was tolerated, where a man only half as boisterous would have been scouted; then he was gallant in his way, affected, perhaps felt, a great devotion to the sex, and they were half amused, half pleased, with the rough flattery which seemed, and probably was, so sincere.
His house was an ugly brick dwelling of his own erection, situate in the principal street of Cranley, and adorned with a green door and a brass knocker, giving entrance into a stone passage, which, there being no other way to the stable, served both for himself, and that very dear part of himself, his horses, whose dwelling was certainly by far more commodious than their master's. His accommodations were simple enough. The dining-parlour, which might pass for his only sitting-room,—for the little dark den which he called his drawing-room was not entered three times a year; the dining-room was a small square room, coloured pea-green with a gold moulding, adorned with a series of four prints on shooting, and four on hunting, together with two or three portraits of eminent racers, riders, hunters, and grooms. Guns and fishing-rods were suspended over the mantelpiece; powder-horns, shot-belts, and game-bags scattered about; a choice collection of flies for angling lay in one corner, whips and bridles in another, and a pile of books and papers,—Colonel Thornton's Tour, Daniel's Rural Sports, and a heap of Racing Calendars, occupied a third; Ponto and Carlo lay basking on the hearth-rug, and a famous little cocking spaniel, Flora by name, a conscious favourite, was generally stretched in state on an arm-chair.
Here, except when the owner was absent on a sporting expedition, which, between fishing, shooting, hunting, and racing, did, it must be confessed, happen pretty often; here his friends were sure to find a hearty welcome, a good beef-steak,—his old housekeeper was famous for cookery!—and as much excellent Port and super-excellent Madeira—Tom, like most of his school, eschewed claret and other thin potations—as their host could prevail on them to swallow. Many a good fellow hath heard the chimes at midnight in this little room.
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In the present sheet we are only able to include Notices of four of the nine Annuals, exclusive of the Juvenile Presents, which we reserve for a "select party." Our notice of the Winter's Wreath is in type, but must stand over for the present, as well as those of the Keepsake, Anniversary, Bijou, and Friendship's Offering, which will freight another Supplementary Sheet, to follow very shortly. We prefer this method to passing over the merits of these works with mere commendatory generalities. It does not require a microscopic or a critical eye to distinguish their beauties; but we hope the means we have adopted for the present gratification of our readers will be such as to induce them to look for the appearance of our SECOND SUPPLEMENT, as well as to prove ourselves worthy of the encore. Like some comic singers, we will endeavour to keep up the entertainment by "variations."
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Printed and Published by J. LIMBIRD, 143. Strand, (near Somerset House,) London; sold by ERNEST FLEISCHER, 626, New Market, Leipsic; and by all Newsmen and Booksellers.