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Excursions in India ; including a Walk over the Himalaya Mountains, to the Sources of the Jumna and the Ganges. By Captain Thomas Skinner, of the 31st Regiment. 2 vols. 8vo. London.
This is a delightful work, and will please every class of readers. Captain Skinner is one of the most amusing travellers we have met with for many a long day. We found his books on our table a few evenings since, and having lighted our lamp, closed the curtains, and replenished the fire, so cheerful and welcome at this season, when autumn is gradually melting Into winter, we sat down to the task of critical dissection. Soon, however, we lost sight of the Author in the companion. Captain Skinner rather speaks than writes—his thoughts flow with, his feelings—he familiarly tells you a tale of the most stirring interest, always keeping your sympathies alive. You attach yourself to him and his fortunes. Vou share in his perplexities —you participate in his pleasantries—his gay good-humour never forsakes him—and in the midst of perils, at which you shudder, be contrives to make you smile. This Is emphatically the book for a winter's evening and a domestic circle. But that our readers may have some Idea of the kind of entertainment which awaits them, we shall allow Captain Skinner to introduce himself In his own frank and familiar manner.
"If certain readers should take up these volumes with the hope of finding a general history of cities and their people, a regular diary of journeys through such a province, or visits to such a palace or such a tomb, they will be Badly disappointed. If the name of the Himalaya Mountains should attract others to turn over the leaves in pursuit of scientific knowledge, and to seek for experiments on the atmosphere, dissertations on the natural productions of this vast range, or calculations on the heights of the various peaks, they will look in vaju for such Information.
"Although, therefore, I may dissuade many from becoming my readers, by a declaration of what they will nut find, I am apprehensive it will not be so easy a matter to invite attention by an announcement of what the book does contain. I shall, however, make the attempt.
"On first arriving in India I was struck with the air of romance In which everything seemed to be decked;— the sparkling river, with Its picturesque and various vessels, from the rude boat with its roof of thatch, to the golden barge of state;—the graceful palms and the matted villages that they shadowed j—the stillness of the pagodas ;—the men and animals, whose appearances were so new to me ;—and the aromatic odour abed around by the herbs and plants ;— Indeed, the merest trifle, for a time, was. magnified into a most wonderful occurrence; and every scene, through which I had to pass, was Invested with as much consequence as it would have become Don Quixote to have attached to it. I fancied, therefore, that my personal adventures, even to ' the sayings and doings' of those
about me, would possess sufficient interest to excuse me for making them public.
"But when familiarity had bred some degree of contempt, and the * nothings' my imagination had so 'monstered' found their proper level, I resolved to think no more about them. When, however, I had been some time absent from the scenes that had made so much impression upon me at first, I found that they recurred to me, * ever and anon,' in all their vivid reality. I could not resist, therefore, selecting from my manuscripts such portions as X considered worthy of publication.
"1 hare simply endeavoured to give, as correctly as I was ahle, a sketch of what arery European in India is likely to experience; but such as none unacquainted with that country can be familiar with. I hope, however, the pictures I hare ventured to draw. If they should not be considered skilful paintings, will at least be esteemed tolerable likenesses.
"With the exception of the Mountain Tour, the * Excursions in India* contain no very regular journal. The other journeys were taken at different times, for the accomplishment of different objects; so that should my narrative possess no other recommendation, It may at any rate claim that of variety. As the researches of many able men within the mountains whence the Jumna and the Ganges take their rise are already familiar to the public—to all at least who take any interest in such details—1 considered it quite unnecessary for me to make any scientific observations. I am only desirous, from the great delight I myself experienced from the contemplation of the extraordinary and Inconceivable beauties that presented themselves to my attention, to interest others who are not Ukely to witness their splendours."
We perceive in these volumes a confirmation of all that has been written upon the cruel and demoralizing character of the Hindoo superstitions; and we are pleased, also, to observe Do* equivocal testimony to the mild and amiable dispositions of the natives, when uncontrolled by the delusions of their faith, and unsubdued by the galling yoke of foreign oppression. The following, the last paragraph In the work, we quote as highly creditable to Captain Skinner, and as Illustrative of the observation just made: "I shall conclude with one circumstance that I think will serve to corroborate what I have elsewhere said, about the attachment of the natives to their masters. Their gratitude, I know, is frequently impeached, and, from what I have observed, unjustly. I meant to have discharged several of the least useful of my servants Immediately, and told them that I should do so. They besought me, with one voice, to permit them to remain with me until my final departure, not, as they said, for the sake of ' eating my salt,' but for the pleasure of seeing me to the last. I should have considered this a proper eastern compliment, and been disposed to receive It as such, but for the earnestness with which the request was made. Although I did not agree to keep them, their sincerity was proved by their daily visits, until they bestowed their hut salaam
•a the deck of the boat that carried me to the
Tales of many Climes, By C. C. V. G., the Translator of u Les Quatre Ages de 2a Vie." No. J ; containing " The Broken Vow," a Tale of Caledonia; and " Rollania," a Turkish Tale.
And this is the stuff of which men and women In this scribbling age make books! We may venture to affirm that the only persons who will ever read these "Tales of many Climes" are the fair writer, and those conscientious critics* who, though disgusted with an absurd introduction, feel it to be their duty to read a work through before they venture upon its condemnation. Is it possible that Lady Byng and the Countess of Roden can lend their patronage to ■uch school-girl performances as the "Broken Vow" aud " Hollania i"
* It is good to make a good beginning," saith the proverb; and the proof of its wisdom is before us. ** Hajji Baba," Mr. Morier** first work, was a universal favourite; it opened a store of romance and information, of which we had no Idea; it was as a well springing in the desert, an oasis In a sandy wilderness—by him everything was invested with a new existence; and we became familiarised not only with the appearance and manners of the inhabitants of Persia, but with their domestic feelings and prejudices. The curtains of their harems were as cobwebs, things of too slight a texture to conceal their mysteries from the lynx-eyed Englishman. And we felt as perfectly at home in the divan, as if we were In a drawing-room.
The Hajji's society was sought for by every class; and all who either pretended to or possessed taste longed for the period when Mr. Morier would again write upon a subject and a country so peculiarly his own. The hostage Is now with us; and all that remains is to read and admire \ and well we may. Zohrab is in every way worthy of its predecessor. The author has moat happily and ingeniously blended history and fiction. Those who wish to consult history as to the fact ofAgaMobamed Shah's existence, will do well to turn to Sir John Malcolm's Persia, where they will find the real tale of the Shah's wisdom, wars, and cruelties. Mr. Morier has Invented a hero and heroine of the most delightful class—the one brave, honourable, and intrepid—the other lovely, gentle, and affectionate j both encounter a due proportion of danger and destruction; and both —but we leave the denouement for our readers to discover, convinced that they will derive more pleasure in finding out the mystery, than in having it told them.
Mr. Morier says that *' The Prince Fatteh AH, who is supposed to be the present king of Persia, theVizir Hajji Ibrahim,and the slaveSadek,belong to history; but the hump-backed barber, (he ardent Zulma, the officious Shir Khan, Zaul Khan, and the Asterabadls, and Turcomans, and others, have been created to serve the purposes of my
tale. The anecdote of the Shah and the bloody handkerchief in the second volume, and that of counting the eyes with the handle of his whip in the third, among others, were related to me by creditable witnesses. The mode of the Shah's death is historical—the details fiction. It would be tedious and indeed unnecessary to define where history ends and fiction begins in the different turns and windings which the thread of my narrative takes; and perhaps it will be sufficient to say, that my object has been to place before the reader a succession of personages, whose manner of speech, whose thoughts and actions, and general deportment, are illustrative of Persia and the East."
We wish we had space for copious extract to show how skilfully the author has worked out his plan. While occupied in reading the volumes, we felt as if residing in Persia, and partaking of the changes and chances brought about by a capricious and despotic government, which literally having but one head places the heads of others tn a very tottering situation.
Zohrab, the hero, a free Mazanderine chief, has greatly incensed the Shah, but is spared for political reasons. The following scene is a good specimen of what a tyrant dares do when he can do what he pleases:—
"The chief huntsman was a heavy-headed man, with a copious appendage of black beard and mustachoes, large eyes, and shaggy brows, mounted upon herculean shoulders : coarse and rough in manner, he little knew the forms of a court, and although the king In the field allowed much latitude in the quantum of homage which was due to him, yet in general he was very punctilious when seated on his musmid, being aware that half the terror attached to his high situation, among a people greatly alive to outward show, would vanish were he ever to allow of one step Which had the appearance of intimacy. In order to comprehend the nature of the chief huntsman's present intrusion at court, the reader must be informed that it was frequently the custom among the kings of Persia, after agreat and successful hunting party, in which game of all descriptions, such as antelopes, deer, wild goats, boars, and wild asses, were slain, to erect a pillar, upon which the heads of such animals were fixed, either in niches, or on exterior hooks. There Is a specimen of one such pillar now to be seen at Guladun near Ispahan, the record of a hunt of the famous Shah Ismael, which, notwithstanding the lapse of centuries, still exhibits numerous skulls and horns of wild animals. Agah Mohamed Shah on this occasion had determined to leave a similar record. His hunting excursion, to the moment of Zohrab's seizure, had been extraordinarily successful; and when this unlooked-for piece of good fortune had befallen him, on the Impulse of the moment, he determined to erect a pillar of skulls, a kelleh minor, as it Is called, in order that he might place the head of his prisoner, or, as one of his eourtiers had called It, of his finest head of game, on the summit, thus to commemorate the great success of this eventful day. The order was given the Shikar Bashi on the field; and not having been countermanded, was so quickly executed, that the monument had been erected, and all its niches duly filled with the heads before any fresh order on the subject could be given. An iron spike was seen to issue from the summit, as If waiting for its last victim. As soon as the chief huntsman appeared before the Shah, he made an awkward prostration of the body, and, without taking off his boots, which. In fact, is etiquette for men of his profession, began his speech before the king had even deigned to look upon him. This want of respect put the match as it were to the still active combustion of the king's mind, and set fire to a train of angry epithets, which burst forth in the following manner :—' Who art thou, dog ( Whose cur art thou I Why dost thou stand before me with that head of thine, which ought long ago to have been food for a bomb) Must the Shah continue to partake of disrespect as if he were a Jew or a Frank) Amino one In my own dominions! bearded by a Maxanderani hoy—now hutted at by a cow who would call itself a man 1 Speak, Merdiki, speak 1 wherefore standest thou there f
"The rough forester, little expecting such a reception, stood like one impaled, with his tongue cleaving to the roof of his mouth, and at first could scarcely utter beyond his 'arxl mi kvnum,' until after various attempts, fear having almost paralysed his senses, heexclaimed.'Theplllar is ready to kiss your feet; it is ready; the skulls have all been placed; there is only one skull wanting at the top—only one skull, by the head of the king I only one skull.' Whether acting under the influence of au eunuch's waywardness, or whether the king was struck by the coincidence of the chief huntsman's exposition, 'one skull, by the head of the king,' is nut to be explained; hut certain It Is that he yielded at once to the temptation of spilling blood, which was circulating in the fullest vigour throughout his frame, and exclaimed, 'One bead thou wantest >' 'Yes,' said the huntsman, 'yes, one head; may It Bo please your majesty.' 'What head can be better than thine >' roared the tyrant, in savage merriment. 'Here, off with his head. Ky.Natakchi, executioner,' he exclaimed to a man of bloody deeds, who was always In attendance,' here, go, complete the minor.' There was a hesitation amongst the attending ofEcers in the execution of this atrocious deed. The man called upon to act went doggedly to work ) and Innocence ■poke ao powerfully In favour of the poor wretch, that every one present seemed to expect that so barbarous an order would be countermanded; but, no I the animal was rife for blood, and blood it was determined to have. His horrid face broke into a demoniacal expression of fury when he saw that therewas hesitation in obeyl us his commands. The raggedskin.wbich fell In furrows down his cheeks, began to bloat i the eyes seemed to roll in blood; and the whole frame, from which in general all circulation seemed to fly, wore a purple hue ; he would have darted off from his seat, and not only have executed the fatal sentence upon his victim himself, but would have extended his revengeful fury to those who had refused to be the ministers of It, bad not the Nasakcbl Basbl in person (worthy servant of such a master), who had just reached the scene of action, with a light and cunning step, crept behind the victim, and with one blow of his deadly black Khorassan blade, severed the unfortunate man's head from his
body,' The heavy corpse fell with a crash on one side, while the head bounded towards the despot, the eyes glaring horribly, the tongue protruded to a frightful length, and streams of gore flowing and spouting in all directions. The vizir, who was upon the point of again endeavouring to allay the passions of his dangerous master, had been too late to stop the executioner's hand; but well was it for him that ht did delay, for nothing but the appalling scene that now presented itself could have counteracted the violence of the king. The moment he saw blood, he seemed at once to be soothed into quiet. In the most wicked of our natures there must be a revulsion from evil to good. Conscience will raise her voice, although she may at first be refused a hearing. The Hon. gorged with his spoil, at once is tamed. This was the case with the Shah. He contemplated his work with a thoughtful look, his features resumed their wonted dull and leaden expression ; and then, as if his wayward nature was not satisfied with tormenting him, he turned with asperity to the Nasakchl Bash), and accused him, In no measured terms, with having officiously Interposed in what was no business of his. ■ Dog and villain," he exclaimed, ' why did you slay my chief huntsman I What demon impelled your officious hand In this deed t Weil is it for you that there is such a feeliug as compassion, and that the Shah can spare as well as he can spill I Go, go I clear up your work, and finish It by wiping your own self from our presence.' Although similar scenes, equally characteristic of the cruelty and caprice of its instigator, were not uncommon, still, to the horror of this scene succeeded a dread and appalling silence throughout the camp."
This Is fine painting; and in the tender and more impassioned scenes, Mr. Morier is equally successful. What, then, remains for us to say of such a book ?—it will speed well and speed everywhere, no matter how we treat It; but with sincere good wishes we hall it on its way, and cordially recommend it to all who put faith in our opinion.
The Elements; a Poem, in Four Cantos; with an Introductory Address. By Thomas Joyce.
There is not an atom of Philosophy In this Poem. We wonder that the degree of taste whi'-h It discovers had not deterred the author from writing such Hues, and calling them poetry. The only claim which these versified Elements nave upon the indulgence of the Public may be summed up in one word—insipidity.
The Life of Andrew Marvel), the celeb-rated Patriot; with extracts and selections from his Prose and Poetical Work*. By John Dove.
A very seasonable publication. Here is presented to us the model of a patriot senator. Marvell was perhaps the moat Indefatigable Member of Parliament that ever had the hoe or of a seat in the lover Haute. Though he was .no orator, bl< talents fur business, his enlarged capacity, hla incorruptible integrity and rlevotednegs to the cause of freedom in opposition to a profligate court and a tyrannical government, gave him great influence. The following anecdote reflects immortal honour upon hit character :—
• "Marvell, having once been honoured with an evening's entertainment by his Majesty, the latter was so charmed with the ease of his manners, the soundness of his judgment, and the keenness of hit wit, that the following morning, to show him his regard, he sent the Lord Trsasvrir Davbt to wait upon him with a particular message. His Lordship, with some difficulty, found Marvell's elevated retreat on the second floor in a court near the Strand. Lord Danby, from the darkness of the staircase, and Its narrowness, abruptly burst open the door, and suddenly entered the room, in which he found Marvell writing. Astonished at the sight of so noble and unexpected a visiter, Marvell asked his Lordship, with a smile, if he had not mistaken his way. ■ No,' lie replied, with a bow, • not since I have found Mr. Marvell;' continuing, that he came with a message from the King, who wished to do him some signal service on account of the high opinion hit Majesty had of his merits. Marvell replied with his usual pleasantry, that Ms Majesty had It not in his power to serve him; but, becoming more serious, he told the Lord Treasurer that he knew the nature of Courts too well not to be sensible that whoever Is distinguished by a prince's favour it expected to vote in his interest. The Lord Danby told him his Majesty only desired to know whether there was any place at Court he would accept. He told the Lord Treasurer he could not accept anything with honour, for he must be either ungrateful to the King, in voting against him, or false to his country In giving in to the measures of the Court j therefore, the only favour he begged of his Majesty was, that he would esteem him as dutiful a subject at any he had, and more In his proper interest In refuting his offert, than If he had accepted them. The Lord Dauby, finding that no arguments could prevail, told Marvell that the King requested his acceptance of lOOOf.j hut thie was rejected with the tame steadiness, though, toon after the departure of his noble visiter, he was obliged to borrow a guinea from a friend."
"Of all men in his station," say! hit present biographer, "Marvell best deserves to be selected as an example of the genuine independence produced by a philosophical limitation of wants and desires. He was not to be purchased, because he wanted nothing that money could buy, and held cheap all titular honours In comparison with the approbation of his conscience, and the esteem of the wise and good." Hence Mason, in hit "Ode to Independence," says of him, "In awful poverty his honest muse
Walks forth vindictive through a venal land |
Perhaps no corrupt and debauched monarch ever was more stung by the satire of a subject's wit, than was Charles the Second by Marvell's Parody of his Majesty's Speech to both Houses of Parliament on an application for supplies. We have room only for the first and last paragraphs.
•' My Lords and Gentlemen,—I told you at our last meeting that the winter was the fittest time for business, and truly I thought so, till my Lord Treasurer assured me the spring waa the best season for salads and subsidies. I hope, therefore, that April will not prove so unnatural a month as not to afford some kind showers on my parched Exchequer, which gapes for want of them. .Some of you, perhaps, will think it dangerous to moke me too rich; but 1 do not fear It •, for I promise you faithfully whatever you give me I will always want; and although in other things my word may be thought a slender authority, yet In that you may rely on me I will never break it.
*'My Lords and Gentlemen,—I desire you to believe me at yon have found me ; and I do solemnly promise you that whatsoever you give me shall be specially managed with the same conduct, trust, sincerity, and prudence that I have ever practised since my happy restoration."
Marvell triumphed by his argument and wit over the great champion of high church insolence and tyranny—Bishop Parker. Bnt It teems either Parker or his partisans knew how to wield less honourable weapons—Marvell died by poison. Mr. Dove has performed a duty to the public in giving to the world at this peculiar juncture a piece of biography so Instructive to the statesman and the patriot.
Fort Risbane; or Three Days' Quaran.tine. By a Detenu.
Thit work Is as amusing as dialogues on such subjects as the cholera, reform, political economy, theatres, hooks, and booksellers can well be made. The scenes are well imagined, the Incidents told In a lively and spirited manner; but the characters are not sustained with equal ability. Fort Ritbane reminds us of Headlong Hall, which excited a temporary interest a few years ago, but is now probably forgotten. We approve generally of the doctrines.philosophlcal, political, andmoral, whichtheaulhor Inculcates, though we confess that the increase of works so mediocre in performance afTords us no gratification.
Caracalla, a Tragedy. By H. T. T.
Had we been admitted to the circle of H. T. T.'s friends, we certainly should have dissuaded him from the publication of this, which he calls •' his first and humble effort." We should recommend to him almost any employment but that of authorthlp. What could induce him to tempt his fate In tragedy! He would have failed, we are persuaded, had he taken the lowest form In literature; he has aspired to the highest, only to signalize his weakness, and to bringdown upon himself ridicule as well as contempt. Here is a tragedy without either plot or action—a drama without characters—and, instead of ft catastrophe, a most lame and Impotent conclusion; nor is there through the whole performance a sparkling thought, a poetical expression, or a sentiment that either can or deserves to be remembered. The author will not blame us if we give a few of his most laboured passages, as specimens to justify what we really consider the lenity of our remarks.
In the following lines a Prefect thus addresses an emperor:
"Nought on earth weighs half so well as gold
Home. My tongue would from its rechy rooters drop," My seething blood would burst its bladdered
veins, My eyes distrain their bony sockets—ay. My very scull impeach its hairy scalp, Did I not curse and give my fraughtcd heart Its burden to the air." Geta speaks in strains like these— "To stay thy boisterous speech and war of words; Lest o'er-distention split thy hasty lungs Blown full by smithy passion—Indeed, The Roman mind that lends thee ear, doth set Itself against morality and all Bedewments of dissolving «>(«•/** The following will be admitted by competent judges as truly Shakspearlan. It Is the authof*s chef-tTctwre. Caracalla, a murderer, and while be is pursuing his murderous purposes, thus describes his state of mind— "Yesternight, as in a wakeful mood I laid abed—tossed to and fro by hope And fear alternate—listening anon To the slow retiring steps of thievish time; Methought I heard reiterated thrice The unseasonable crowing of the matin bird. Joined with the mournful howlings of a dog, Which so unquieted every faculty, And made preset encebig—Oman ! that from My very soul I heaved a groan so deep, A s proved a shock to nature. Mater. Horrid night t
Carac. It was! Till now, a howl and then a
crow, And now a Ctow and then a howl, they died Away in distance.
Mater. Horrid, horrid night!"
So much for Caracalla; we hope we " ne'er shall look upon his like again."
2. Statistical Sketches of Upper Canada, for the use of Emigrants. By a Backwoodsman.
3. Hints on Emigration to Upper Canada. By Martin Doyle, author of " Hints to Small Holders in Ireland."
The first of these three very valuable little books is intended as a guide to the Canada*, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, the United States, New South Wales, Van Dieman's Land, the Swan River, and the Cape of Good Hope. It points out the advantages and disadvantages of the several locations, and supplies the latest Government instructions and facilities, drawn up from official documents.
The second Is written by a practical Scotch* man, who, in addition to a twenty years' residence in British America, has been traversing Upper Canada In every direction for the last half dozen years, for the express purpose of obtaining statistical information. It Is full of shrewdness, Scotch humour, and sound sense.
Number three !s compiled by Mr. Martin Doyle, the well-known and justly-esteemed author of many nice little books, on Irish farming and cottage economy. It is an excellent digest of all the information we possess respecting Upper Canada, with a Map, and much good advice prefixed. Were we to particularise in recommendIng a cheap, short manual to such of the middle or humbler classes as have emigration In their thoughts, we should say, of the works under notice, let the emigrant, if an Englishman, take the first upon our list; if a Scotchman, and clear about locating in British America, the second: if an Irishman, the third. But when we consider that a man may buy all three, and still get back silver change out of his crownpiece, we should recommend them all, before he determines on so Important a step in his life, as the first expense In these cases is the least. It k a curious fact, as appears from these books, that such are the advantages in soil and situation, of unappropriated parts of British America, over Inhabited districts of the United States, that emigration from the latter to the former is already becoming common.
Sermons. By the Rev. Plumpton "Wilson, LL.B., Rector of Ilchester. Vol. II.
The subjects of this new volume of Mr. Plumpton Wilson's sermons relate principally to the preparation to be made by the Christian for death and the blessed hopes of immortality, and of rejoining hereafter, in that realm where ail tears shall be wiped away, those who were dear and lost to us here. Beginning with the relation of the Immortal soul to the past, and to the heavens and the earth, the history of man, considered as a living soul, Is next examined) and the duty of fulfilling the Christian course with humility, awe, and carefulness, is thence naturally deduced. We are then exhorted to consider the awful responsibility lying upon every human being to make the hands, the eye, the lips, the power of thinking, and all the materials and means of thought, instrumental to the glory of God, and so to our own present, but far more to