페이지 이미지

in the accomplishment of that great felony. There is something about the very name of the French Revolution which, at first, creates a repugnance to read or hear any thing connected with its events; for the world has "supped full of horrors," and been wearied out with the eternal commonplaces to which its partial failure has given occasion in houses where dulness has a privilege, and in lower places where it has prescriptive right. But this natura disgust ought not to extend to our author; who has touched the subject lightly, and has chosen those scenes which were illuminated and softened by the beauty, the fortitude, and the weakness of Marie Antoinette, whom it pleased Burke to deify. His hero is desperately enamoured of the unhappy queen; fights a black captain for abusing her; pretends to be a Jacobin for her sake; exhausts all his fortune in plans for her rescue ; and finally, after her execution, returns to his desolate home on the coast of Ireland, to see his father expire, and commit suicide. In spite of this last rash and somewhat unnecessary act (for he might have been disposed of in fifty other ways,) he is a fine spirited lad, and does honour to his country. But we cannot extend our praise to the old Priest, whose name is Father O'Collagan, and who is worthy of the name a divine with a tolerably flippant tongue and an intolerably warm heart; mixing up classical quotations with half-ruffian phraseology, and wearing us out with his noisy patriotism and riotous virtue. Ample amends are, however, made for this uproarious specimen of the Irish priesthood, in the scenes attendant on the downfal of royalty in France, which are sketched with a rapid, yet firm and dexterous hand.

The last tale, entitled "The Vouée au Blanc," is of a lighter character than the rest of the volumes, and forms an agreeable relief from the serious and engrossing interest they frequently excite. Its scene is laid in Normandy, where it traces the history of a lovely little girl, dedicated (happily for a limited time) to the Virgin, up to that period when the romance of life ceases, and its real cares and struggles begin-and where, generally speaking, novel-writers end, much to the satisfaction of their readers. Its plot is not worth abstracting; but it has considerable merit, both characteristic and descriptive. Mons. Sukerville, a wealthy French manufacturer of inflexible honesty and invincible gratitude, and his jolly dame, are speaking portraits; and a dull and gross physician, with just glimmering of sense enough to be a rogue and a mayor, is worthy to sit beside them. We do not greatly admire the artifice by which a young American, who rather oddly falls in love with a lady whom he has not seen, wins the affections of the heroine, in the disguise of a gouty gentleman, of middle age, with a yellow complexion, matted hair, and green spectacles; nor the vagaries of Monsieur Hippolite Emanuel Mirasse de Choufleur; nor the incident of the author being arrested for the murder of a man who turns out to be only dead drunk. It is not in the comedy of manners that our author can hope to succeed. He has humour, but it is chiefly excited in association with strong feeling, and always happily applied to the oddities of nature-rarely to the caprices of artificial life. Let him continue to grapple with the passions and affections as he has done in the far larger portion of these volumes, and his triumph will be signal and lasting.


Family of the Honeycombs.

Favis emissa juventus.-VIRGIL.
The gallant issue of the honeycombs.

To the Editor of the New Monthly Magazine.

SIR,-Your publisher, the other day, in the benevolence of a mutual pinch of snuff, was pleased to repeat an invitation he once made me to write in his Magazine. I had recourse to the modesty proper on such occasions; but to no purpose. He protested, that he desired no better proof of my qualifications than the agreeable things he had heard me say in his private room: nay, than the manner in which I reciprocated the pinch of snuff.

I told him, that circumstances make a great deal of difference. There was a licence, I said, in conversation, which does not hold good in writing. It is impossible to put down on paper one's gesticulations, nods, winks, and other dashes and hyphens of the mind; company are often pleased with us, because they are friends or acquaintances, and are pleased with one other. In short, said I, there is often as much difference between a sprightly thing said in a room, and the quality of mind from which it proceeds, as between a jack o'-lantern set dancing on a wall, and the poor piece of glass which furnishes the reflection.

Then, Sif, with regard to the snuff: I informed him, that the manner of that interesting movement was an amenity which I inherited from my ancestors; eminent snuff-takers in their time, and such as knew how to distinguish the sentiment of the action, from a habit of it. I carried a box, I told him, purely to gratify the polite shades of those my progenitors, and to indulge myself with the picture on the lid of it; thinking myself no degenerate descendant in wishing that a substitute might be found for the dust itself, befitting a gentleman's upper lip; especially since the re-appearance among us of mustachios. The miniature is worthy all he could say of it: but no deduction was to be drawn in my favour from that divine face. Not only is the lady no more; but if she were alive, no thoughts of her could be entertained by me. Sir, she was my grandmother. You know, that in the list of prohibited loves, a man is forbidden to marry his grandmother; which is the reason, I suppose, why nobody does.

To say

My modesty, however, was overcome. I find it has wonderfully given way since the prospect of authorship opened upon me. the truth, I had always a great propensity to be an author, and have long speculated upon publishing something of my own, as well as specimens of a manuscript in my possession, of which I am about to make mention. But my inclinations have not lain towards prose. However, I have something to say for myself, which few writers are in the habit of adducing in their favour; namely, that if I have no great wit of my own to set up with, I have a good deal of other men's. You must know, Sir, that I have the honour to be the lineal descendant of VOL. IX. No. 49.-1825.


the famous Will Honeycomb, of Spectator memory. With the exception of his uncle Dick, who was a wild fellow in Charles the Second's day, Will had a trick of sinking his ancestors, which was not handsome of him. But you will see the reason presently, when you know who some of them were. This, together with no great turn for reading, and a particular hatred of manuscript, must account for the total silence of the Spectator respecting a huge family Journal, which descended to his keeping, and which has now been in possession of the Honeycombs ever since the year 1538. I call it a family journal, and in many respects it is one; but it is rather a miscellaneous manuscript book, or books, (for it consists of several quarto volumes,) upon all sorts of subjects, personal and otherwise. The keeping it began by chance, but grew into a religion with us, as the family became speculative, and has never been given up. Will and his father wrote the least in it, of any. Your publisher had wondered already, how I could hesitate to trespass upon your pages but when I told him of this collection, he became pathetic; and marvelled how I could withhold from the public a talent and a set of ancestors so truly legitimate.

Legitimate, Sir, we certainly are; my ancestors, because they begot one another; which is not the case with every body; and my talent, because it is nothing without my ancestors.

But I must give you an account of them.

"The Honeycombs, as you may see by the name, are of Saxon origin. Will Honeycomb's uncle, who was in love with the Duchess of Mazarin, (by the way, he might as well have attempted to draw us from Italy on that account,) would fain have given us a French one; but he made sad work with his Honis and ecumes. He was for turning the hives in our coat of arms into maidens' heads,— a strange faucy! The coat consists of a field Vert, with three oaks, and three lions rampant, holding beehives quarterly; the crest, a mural crown, with a swarm of bees over it; and the motto, Ex forti dulcedo. The allusion is scriptural. It is a tradition in the family, that the arms were given to a warlike Honeycomb, who, during the old wars in France, mounted a breach under circumstances of great gallantry, and brought away a large stock of honey, of which the king, his commander, happened to be fond. Will Honeycomb was for having a double allusion in it; one to the historical fact, and another to the urbanity and entertainment with which the race of the Honeycombs were destined to sprinkle this metropolis. But I believe we are not certain of any thing on the subject. A lover of the country, such as I am, would perceive a meaning in the oaks.

"The authentic part of our history commences in the reign of Henry the Eighth, when Edward Honeycomb, lord of the manor of Combe Tormel in Devonshire, had a good slice of the forfeited abbey-lands. It was some love-songs of his, written at the beginning of the great thick book with the arms of a monastery upon it (probably intended to be the Kitchen Journal) that gave rise to our family collection. He was much in favour with Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. Edward was observed to be particularly active in effecting the dissolution of the female part of the monastic orders. Poor misguided souls!' exclaimed he, on opening the gates to a blushing sisterhood;- I could marry them all.'

"Charles Honeycomb, his eldest son, was a violent anti-papist; but is suspected of having conformed during the reign of Queen Mary, the Journal saying nothing about us at that period. Under Queen Elizabeth, his brother Henry figured at court, and had like to have anticipated the famous edict which went out against the enormity of ruffs. The case was this: Harry once officiated as deputy to the Lord Chamberlain; one of whose duties it was, before the introduction of carriages, to ride double with her Majesty in processions. Whether the circumstance turned Harry's brain, or whether he had got it in his head that to imitate his mistress in any particular was to win her good graces, I know not;

but certain it is, that he made his appearance on horseback in a ruff of such enormous dimensions, that her Majesty, for all her princely and lion-like nature, is said to have drawn back two or three paces at the sight. She then exclaimed before all the court, 'How now, Harry! which is the finer fool, the man or the horse?' for the horse was also bedecked in a more than ordinary manner. In the Journal there is a long paper on the subject, in which my ancestor does his best to defend himself. But he was too wise to present it at court. I only observe, from this period, a more than usual pensiveness in his manner of writing, and a tendency to complain of fortune and this unstable world. He concludes his defence with saying, that he leaves what he has written, in order to clear his character with posterity. It is a great pleasure to me, at this distance of time, to make a bow to his interesting memory, and assure him that there is no necessity. One of the passages, which is carefully blotted out, appears, by the context, to have intimated, that the finest fool of the three was the Queen herself. This hasty ebullition did not prevent him from having an awful sense of her Majesty's wisdom and perfections throughout the rest of the memoir. The defence is followed by ten different copies of verses, that were to be presented her on New-year's day, accompanied by a faire round goblette, cunningly sculptured by the famous Italian, and conteyninge two paire of costly murrey-coloured silk hose, of marvellous subtilty, for her Majestie's faire legges.' The legs, I presume, were not mentioned eventually; but the courtiers of those times took a delight in trying how much in earnest they could appear to their own minds. We guess, from the circumstance of Harry's riding before the Queen, that he was a handsome man; but ruffs of that amazing circumference were confined by special usance to the fair sex; and he should therefore have been more than usually cautious of emulating the royal apparel. Besides, it must have threatened to overshadow her Majesty's approach. Harry, for all his foppery, had a shrewd wit, and was company even for the wits of that age. Reader, I tell thee no fable! He has left on record an account of an evening spent at the Mermaid, when he was first introduced to a set of men, the soles of whose shoes would now-a-days incite us to kiss the toes of them. He has described their several persons and bahaviour, and even preserved some of their conversation; though I hardly know how I shall venture to repeat it, lest the reader should think it has lost too much in the setting down. However, I will see if I can take courage, when the time comes. Harry was judicious in his enthusiasm; but he had a sister, Melissa Honeycomb, who was so transported with the study of Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia, that she was inclined to take every new female servant, that came into the family, for a hero in disguise. She married the son of the steward. Her brothers were very angry, and threatened extremities against the bridegroom, such as I know not how they reconciled with their disdain of calling him into the field. However, they were a good-natured race, and he succeeded in pacifying them. To be sure, he had taken to the law; not indeed to terrify them, but to make himself as much of a gentleman as he could by studying it in the way of a profession: and, what with this and his father's money, he profited so well, that in the next reign he gave rise to a race of peers. Even the old steward lived to purchase a barroncy; which produced among us a great contempt for that honour.

"Whether it was owing to any or to all of these mischances, or whether the family he married into were of the new opinions, has not been ascertained; but Henry's son Walter was a Puritan. The vivacity of the Honeycomb blood nevertheless contrived to shew itself. Walter married three wives; and wrote verses and even cracked jokes, in a style that Andrew Marvell himself would not have disdained. The Journal is very bitter, in his time, upon mankinde women,' 'womanish men,' 'horrid Adonises,' 'huffing cubbes,' 'roystering and devilish mummers,' 'straunge outlandish oathes,'' privie villeins,' 'poisonous faire weedes,' and other mysteries, in which he carps at James and his court. By mankinde women' I guess he meant the late Queen. He was particularly fond of tobacco, probably out of spite to the King. His dislike of his Majesty, however, assisted

in making him fall in with one of the royal opinions; for he was a passionate lover of the country, and delighted to live on his estate. I know not how he contrived to reconcile the natural sprightliness of his disposition, and the family character for generosity, with the discontinuance of those rural sports and amusements, which his tenants must now have begun to miss; but I have no doubt he contrived it somehow. He gave them capital employment. The improvements which he made in the grounds at Combe Tormel were of such a description, as appears to have anticipated in some measure the taste for natural gardening, of which Milton is supposed to have given the first hint.

"My father taught me to consider our glory at its height in the person of Colonel Nathaniel Honeycomb, son of the preceding. Nathaniel was child of the second wife, Lætitia, daughter of William Bickley, Esquire, of Heron Hall, in the county of Bucks. She was an excellent woman; but died when he was a boy : which brought him under the jurisdiction of the third wife, Judith. This lady was not very young when she married, nor very charming at any time. How Walter came to marry her, was a great marvel. There was more drinking at her father's house, than became a man of his strict professions; my ancestor used to go there to drown his cares after the death of Lætitia: and it is thought that somehow or other he became hampered with Mistress Judith, in a way from which a man of honour could not well extricate himself. Certain it is, that he married her in great haste a few months after his introduction, and never held up his head afterwards. Judith insisted that his mind had been rendered light and frivolous by his two former wives, of both of whom he had a tender recollection. But nobody could discern any symptoms of the alleged frivolity, except that instead of psalms, my ancestor used to hum snatches of old songs, when he was more than usually uncomfortable. Every endeavour was made to form the young Honeycomb after the fashion of his stepmother's kindred; but the boy remembered his mother; he loved and pitied his father; and being of a vigorous as well as gentle temper, became, to their horror, one of that small but accomplished set of republicans, who with the graceful aspect of cavaliers, united the most ideal purity to which the other party aspired. His hair was suffered to flow down to his shoulders, like that of Milton and Hutchinson. A Cavendish could not have excelled him in the manège. He was a master of the small sword, and played admirably on the viol di gamba. Two ladies died for love of him; one a strange dull-looking creature, who appeared to have no understanding, and whose confession on her deathbed very much surprised every body. The other was all gracefulness and intelligence; and the death of this lady very much diminished his happiness for the rest of his life. Indeed his sorrow was not without reason; for though the firmness of his mind might have taught him not to grieve too long for misfortunes which he could not help, it is suspected, from certain remorseful passages in his Journal, that he had not been quite so prudent as he should have been in his attentions to Lady Grace (for that was her Christian name), and this too after he was contracted to the lady he married. A similar circumstance befell one of his descendants; but in the latter instance, the gentleman had the good fortune to be able to console the existence of his fair friend, without forgetting his love or duty towards her friend his wife. Colonel Honeycomb was not so fortunate. There is mention of both his female acquaintances in the Journal, but nobody would suspect that they bore him any particular good will. To the one in question he wishes a companion in the other world, such as it was not her happiness to meet with in this; to wit, a mind as noble and virtuous as her own.' He had much better have had her to wife than the person he married; who was a foolish giddy thing, always gadding abroad, and almost making love to any one that dressed well, or carried a rose in his hair. Her excessive lightness used to put him out of countenance before company; and the match altogether so disconcerted the grace and comfort of his life, that he took to solitude about four years after his wedding, and only came out of it

« 이전계속 »