페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

invented (I wonder the fancy of Lucan and Seneca did not discover it). It is that death by which we may be literally said to die daily; a death which Adam died before his mortality, a death whereby we live a middle and moderating point between life and death. In fine, so like death, I dare not trust it without my prayers and an half adieu unto the world, and take my farewel in a colloquy with God.

The night is come, like to the day,
Depart not thou, great God, away ;
Let not my sins, black as the night,
Eclipse the lustre of thy light.
Keep still in my horizon, for to me
The sun makes not the day, but thee.
Thon, whose nature cannot sleep,
On my temples centry keep;
Guard me 'gainst those watchful foes
Whose eyes are open while mine close.
Det no dreams my head infest,
But such as Jacob's temples blest :

THE prefatory memoir to these vol

3

umes by Sir Walter Scott, to which we mean to confine ourselves, consists of forty-two pages. The account of Smollett is principally selected from the biographies of Drs. Moore and Anderson; but as the most prominent facts ar generally known, we shall not follow the thread of the relation, but rather quote such passages as are interesting from displaying the opinions of the writer on literary topics on which he is so high an authority. The following remarks on the publication of Peregrine Pickle in 1751, are of this order.

(London Magazines, August, 1821.) BALLANTYNE'S NOVELLIST'S LIBRARY.*

"The splendid merit of the work itself was a much greater victory over the author's enemies, if he really had such, than any which he could gain by personal altercation with unworthy opponents. Yet by many his second novel was not thought quite equal to his first. In truth, there occurs betwixt 'Roderick Random and Peregrine Pickle,' a difference, which is often observed betwixt the first and second efforts of authors who have been successful in

While I do rest, my soul advance,
Make my sleep a holy trance,
That I may, my rest being wrought,
Awake into some holy thought,
And with as active vigour run
My course, as doth the nimble sun.
Sleep is a death! O, make me try,
By sleeping, what it is to die;
And as gently lay my head
On my grave, as
now my bed.
Howe'er I rest, great God, let me
Awake again, at last, with thee;
And, thus assured, behold I lie
Securely, or to wake or die.
These are my drowsie days, in vain
I do now wake to sleep again.
O come that hour, when I shall never
Sleep again, but wake for ever!

This is the dormitive I take to bedward; I need no other laudanum than this to make me sleep, after which I close mine eyes in security, content to take my leave of the sun, and sleep unto the resurrection.'

this line. Peregrine Pickle is more finished, more sedulously laboured into excellence, exhibits scenes of more accumulated interest, and presents a richer variety of character and adventure than Roderick Random; but yet there is an ease and simplicity in the first novel which is not quite attained in the second, where the author has substituted splendor of colouring for simplicity of outline. Thus, of the inimitable seacharacters, Trunnion, Pipes, and even Hatchway, border upon caricature; but Lieutenant Bowling and Jack Rattlin are true and nature itself. The reason seems to be, that when an author brings forth his first representation of any class of characters, he seizes on the leading and striking outlines, and therefore, in the second attempt of the same kind, he is forced to make some distinction, and either to invest his personage with less obvious and ordinary traits of character, or to place him in a new and less natural light. Hence, it would seem, the difference in opinion which sometimes occurs betwixt the author and the

* Volumes II. and III. Smollett. Roderick Random, Peregrine Pickle, Humphrey Clinker, Count Fathom, Sir Launcelot Greaves, and the Translation of Don Quixotte. Edinburgh. 1821.

reader, respecting the comparative value of early and of subsequent publications. The author naturally prefers that upon which he is conscious much more labour has been bestowed, while the public often remain constant to their first love, and prefer the facility and truth of the earlier work to the more elaborate execution displayed in those which follow it. But though the simplicity of its predecessor was not, and could not be, repeated in Smollett's second novel, his powers are so far from evincing any falling off, that in Peregrine Pickle there is a much wider range of character and incident, than is exhibited in Roderick Random, as well as a more rich and brilliant display of the talents and humour of the distinguished author."

The subjoined strong and admirable observations on Count Fathom, are applicable to too large a portion both of the prose and poetry of our day, to be perused without a good result.

On Smollett's continental tour after the loss of his daughter, Sir Walter observes, "Nature had either denied Smollett the taste necessary to understand and feel the beauties of art, or else his embittered state of mind had, for the time, entirely deprived him of the power of enjoying them. The harsh censures which he passes on the Venus de Medicis, and upon the Pantheon; and the sarcasm with which his criticisms are answered by Sterne, are both well known. Yet, be it said without offence to the memory of that witty and elegant writer, it is more easy to assume, in composition, an air of alternate gaiety and sensibility, than to practise the virtues of generosity and benevolence, which Smollett exercised during his whole life, though often, like his own Matthew Bramble, under the disguise of peevishness and irritability. Sterne's writings show much flourish concerning virtues of which his life is understood to have produced little fruit ; the temper of Smollett was,

"like a lusty winter, Frosty, but kindly."

From the concluding remarks we think the subjoined selections will be read with gratification

"To a reader of a good disposition and well-regulated mind, the picture of moral depravity presented in the character of Count Fathom is a disgusting pollution of the imagination. To those, on the other hand, who hesitate on the brink of meditated iniquity, it is not safe to detail the arts by which the ingenuity of villainy has triumphed in former instances; and it is well known that the publication of the real account of uncommon crimes, although attended by the public and infamous punishment of the perpetrators, has often had the effect of stimulating others in similar actions. To some unhappy minds it may occur as a sort of extenuation of the erime which they meditate, that even if they carry their purpose into execution, their guilt will fall far short of what the author has ascribed to his fictitious character; and there are other imaginations so ill regulated, that they catch infection from stories of wickedness, and feel an insane impulse to emulate and to realize the pictures of villainy which are embodied in such narratives as those of Zeluco, or Count Fathom," -[or Byron, or Shelly, or the minor apostles of depraved descrip

tion.]

:

"The person of Smollett was eminently handsome, his features prepossessing, and, by the joint testimony of all his surviving friends, his convers¿tion in the highest degree instructive and amusing. Of his disposition, those who have read his works (and who has not done so ?) may form a very accurate estimate; for in each of them he has presented, and sometimes under various points of view, the leading features of his own character, without disguising the most unfavourable of them. Nay, there is room to believe, that he rather exaggerated than softened that cynical turn of temper, which was the principal fault of his disposition, and which engaged him in so many quarrels. remarkable, that all his heroes, from Roderick Random downward, possess a haughty, fierce irritability of disposi tion, until the same features appear softened, and rendered venerable by age and philosophy, in Matthew Branible. The sports in which they most

It is

delight are those which are attended with disgrace, mental pain, and bodily mischief to others; and their humanity is never represented as interrupting the course of their frolics. We know not that Smollett had any other marked failing, save that which he himself has so often and so liberally acknowledged. When unseduced by his satirical propensities, he was kind, generous, and humane to others; bold, upright, and independent in his own character; stooping to no patron, [he] sued for no favour, but honestly and honorably maintained himself on his literary labours; when, if he was occasionally employed in work which was beneath his talents, the disgrace must remain with those who saved not such a genius from the degrading drudgery of compiling and translating. He was a doting father and an affectionate husband; and the warm zeal with which his memory was cherished by his surviving friends, shewed clearly the reliance which they placed upon his regard. Even his resentments, though often hastily adopted, and incautiously expressed, were neither ungenerous nor enduring. He was open to conviction, and ready to make both acknowledgment and allowance when he had done injustice to others, willing also to forgive and to be reconciled when he had received it at their hand.

*

"Fielding and Smollett were both born in the highest rank of society, both educated to learned professions, yet both obliged to follow miscellaneous literature as the means of subsistence. Both were confined, during their lives, by the narrowness of their circumstances, both united a humorous cynicism with generosity and good nature--both died of the diseases incident to a sedentary life, and to literary labor, and both drew their last breath in a foreign land, to which they retreated under the adverse circumstances of a decayed constitution, and an exhausted fortune.

"Their studies were no less similar than their lives. They both wrote for the stage, and neither of them successfully. They both meddled in politics; they both wrote travels, in which they shewed that their good humour was was

ted under the sufferings of their disease; and, to conclude, they were both so eminently successful as novelists, that no other English author of that class has a right to be mentioned in the same breath with Fielding and Smollett.

"If we compare the works of these two great masters yet more closely, we may assign to Fielding, with little hesitation, the praise of a higher and a purer taste than was shewn by his rival; more elegance of composition and expression; a nearer approach to the grave irony of Swift and Cervantes; a great deal more address of felicity in the conduct of his story; and, finally, a power of describing amiable and virtuous characters, and of placing before us heroes, and especially heroines, of a much higher as well as pleasing character than Smollett was able to present."

"Every successful novelist must be more or less a poet, even although he may never have written a line of verse. The quality of imagination is absolutely indispensable to him; his accurate power of examining and embodying human character and human passion, as well as the external face of nature, is not less essential; and the talent of describing well what he feels with acuteness, added to the above requisites, goes far to complete the poetic character. Smollett was, even in the ordinary sense, which limits the name to those who write verses, a poet of distinction."

"He was, like a pre-eminent poet of our day, a searcher of dark bosoms, and loved to paint characters under the strong agitation of fierce and stormy passions. Hence misanthropes, gamblers, and duellists, are as common in his works, as robbers in those of Salvator Rosa, and are drawn, in most cases, with the same terrible truth and effect."

"Upon the whole, the genius of Smollett may be said to resemble that of Rubens. His pictures are often deficient in grace; sometimes coarse, and even vulgar in conception; deficient too in keeping, and in the due subordination of parts to each other; and intimating too much carelessness on the part of the artist. But these faults are redeemed by such richness aud brilliancy of colours; such a profusion of imagination-now bodying forth the grand

both far above any of their successors in the same line of fictitious composition."

and terrible—now the natural, the easy, and the ludicrous; there is so much of life, action, and bustle, in every groupe he has painted; so much force and individuality of character, that we readily grant to Smollett an equal rank with his great rival Fielding, while we place

IT T is justly observed by Lady Morgan, that "the character of feeling with which each great city in Italy is sought, must depend on the taste, the pursuit, or the views, of the traveller who visits them. To one whose historical associations belong to the middle ages, Florence becomes all that Rome is to the classic tourist, or Loretto to the devout pilgrim!" It is owing to her own mind having been early imbued with a fondness for the illustrious names that mark the Florentine annals, that Lady Morgan's account of the city of Florence, of its society, and literature, is not only one of the most interesting, but likewise the most important parts of her work. The state of society in Florence is far more intellectual, more animated, and more refined than that of Rome; nor are we surprised at Lady Morgan's leaving somewhat reluctantly the lovely vale of Arno, for the banks of the Tiber; for not all the classical recollections and philosophical reveries which the eternal city may be calculated to inspire in the heart of an enthusiast, who makes the scenes before him subservient only to his idea of the past, can to a sober and feeling mind atone for the degrading effects which an arbitrary government, and a church reviving all the superstitions and deceptions of the darkest ages, produce upon the character of those very people, whose only boast is that they are descended from a race of whose valour, patriotism, and independence, they exhibit the lowest reverse that can fall to the lot of a civilized nation. Lost in sloth and indifference, the modern Romans are too passive to give any employment to the

C

Having read this memoir, we are of opinion that another course of Smollett's novels may be taken with an augmented relish.

ITALY.*

ATHENEUM VOL. 19.

spies who surround them on every side; and they submit, without effort for relief, to all the most arbitrary measures of the Papal government, though few can plead their belief in the infallibility of its head, as an excuse for their slavish obedience. The revival of miracles, and processions, and pilgrimages, under the influence of the House of Austria, seems, indeed, to carry with it few attractions, except for those who hope, by means of such instruments, to plunge the people once more into that ignorance, which in the dark ages rendered them alike blind to the crimes of the church, and subservient to the tyranny of their rulers. But surely, in the present day, it must excite the laugh of undisguised contempt, were it not repressed by indignation at the knavery of the thing, to see the King of Sardinia replacing on the shrine of San Lorenzo in Genoa, with the most solemn ceremonies, the "Sagra Catina," or emerald dish, upon which, according to the convenient tradition of ages, was served the last supper of our Saviour. This emerald dish, unfortunately, was proved by the sacrilegious touch of the French Institute to be only green glass; it was nevertheless most religiously restored, and still serves to swear by, as the veritable emerald dish, which Queen Sheba originally offered to King Solomon, from whose temple it found its way, by some miracle not explained, into the house of the Jewish Publican, whither our Saviour went with his Apostles to celebrate their last meal together. With the same regard to truth and rational belief, is exhibited at the Holy House at Loret

Italy. By Lady Morgan. 1821.

to, to which so many crowned heads, and brainless heads of both sexes, have made pilgrimages within the last five or six years, the little earthen porringer, out of which, as the priest unblushingly informs the devout listener, the Mother of God used to feed the infant Jesus; the porringer itself happening to be of the modern delf of Faenza, may be regarded as fortunate, insomuch as the belief in its antiquity calls for an additional exertion of the saving virtue of faith, from this circumstance. But we still pass over these, and a hundred other such disgusting and impious cheats, including that of the Holy Chair of St. Peter itself, with its Arabic inscription, signifying that "There is but one God, and Mahomet is his prophet," and attend to the effect of the "pride, pomp, and circumstance," of the Catholic ceremonies, as they attract the eyes of our sight-loving countrymen and countrywomen, whose restless curiosity, and besoin of excitement, carry them wherever they have a chance of seeing a crowd as idle, and yet as restless as themselves.

"On Holy Thursday, the whole foreign population of Rome rolls on, in endless succession, to the Vatican. The portico, colonnades, vestibules, both of the church and palace, assume the air of the court of a military despot. Every epoch in the military costume is there gaudily exhibited. Halberdiers in coats of mail, and slate-coloured pantaloons, which pass upon the faithful for polished steel armour; the Swiss in their antique dresses of buff and scarlet, and lamberkeens; the regular troops in their modern uniforms; the guardia nobile, the Pope's voltigeurs, all feathers and feebleness, gold and glitter; generals of the British army, colonels and subalterns of every possible yeomanry, with captains and admirals of the navy, with an host of non-descripts, laymen, and protestant clergyman, who for the nonce' take shelter under any thing resembling an uniform, that may serve as a pass-partout, where none are courteously received but such as wear the livery of church or state militantall move towards the portals of the

Sistine Chapel, which, with their double guards, resemble the mouth of a military pass, dangerous to approach, and difficult to storm. The ladies, (and the English ladies ever foremost) press with an imprudent impetuosity upon the guards, who with bayonets fixed and elbows squared, repress them with a resistance, such as none but female assailants would dare to encounter a second time. Thousands of tickets of admission are shewn aloft by upraised hands, and seconded by high-raised voices; while the officer of the guard, who can read and tear but one at a time, leaves the task of repulsion to the Swiss, who manfully second their 'allez fouz en' with a physical force, that in one or two instances incapacitated the eager candidates for further application. A few English favoured by the minister, and all the princes and diplomatists resident at Rome, pioneered by their guards of honour, and attended by crowds of servile, crouching, crawling creatures, who in their long black robes, and short white rochets, look like the outcasts of either sex, make their way without let or molestation. One side of the space, separated from the choir by a screen, is fitted up for them apart. The other is for the whole female congregation, who are crushed in, like sheep in a fold. The men, if in uniform or full court dresses, are admitted to a tribune within the choir; while the inferior crowd, left to shift for themselves, rush in with an impetuosity none can restrain; for though none are admitted at all to the chapel without tickets, yet the number of applicants (almost exclusively foreign) is much too great for the limited capacity of the place. A scene of indescribable confusion ensues. The guards get mingled with the multitude. English peers are overturned by Roman canons. Irish friars batter the old armour of the mailed halberdiers with fists more formidable than the iron they attack. Indian priests tumble over tight laced dandies; and the Via via' of the Roman guard, and the Fous ne restez pas issi' of the Swiss, mingle with screams, supplications, reproofs, and the English

« 이전계속 »