The Project Gutenberg EBook of Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 58,
Number 360, October 1845, by Various

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Title: Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 58, Number 360, October 1845

Author: Various

Release Date: June 13, 2009 [EBook #29110]

Language: English

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No. CCCLX.  OCTOBER, 1845.  Vol. LVIII.



Montesquieu, 389
A Reminiscence of Boyhood. By Delta, 408
De Burtin on Pictures, 413
Manner and Matter, 431
Marston; or, the Memoirs of a Statesman. Conclusion. 439
How we Got Up the Glenmutchkin Railway, 453
The Science of Languages. Kavanagh, 467
Scrambles in Monmouthshire, 474
Neapolitan Sketches, 486
A Meditation, 494
On the Old Year, 495
Corali, ib.
Biographical Sketch of Frank Abney Hastings, 496





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[Pg 389]





Montesquieu is beyond all doubt the founder of the philosophy of history. In many of its most important branches, he has carried it to a degree of perfection which has never since been surpassed. He first looked on human affairs with the eye of philosophic observation; he first sought to discover the lasting causes which influence the fate of mankind; he first traced the general laws which in every age determine the rise or decline of nations. Some of his conclusions were hasty; many of his analogies fanciful; but he first turned the human mind in that direction. It is by repeatedly deviating into error that it can alone be discovered where truth really lies: there is an alchemy in the moral, not less than in the material world, in which a vast amount of genius must be lost before it is discovered that it has taken the wrong direction. But in Montesquieu, besides such occasional and unavoidable aberrations, there is an invaluable treasure of profound views and original thought—of luminous observation and deep reflection—of philosophic observation and just generalization. His fame has been long established; it has become European; his sayings are quoted and repeated from one end of the world to the other; but to the greater part of English readers, his greatness is known rather from the distant echo of continental fame, than from any practical acquaintance with the writings from which it has arisen.

Though Montesquieu, however, is the father of the philosophy of history, it is due to Tacitus and Machiavel to say, that he is not the author of political thought. In the first of these writers is to be found the most profound observations on the working of the human mind, whether in individuals or bodies of men, that ever were formed by human sagacity: in the latter, a series of remarks on Roman history, and the corresponding events in the republics of modern Italy, which, in point of deep political wisdom and penetration, never were surpassed. Lord Bacon, too, had in his Essays put forth may maxims of political truth, with that profound sagacity and unerring wisdom by which his thoughts were so preeminently distinguished. But still these men, great as they were, and much as they added to the materials of the philosophy of history, can hardly be said to have mastered that philosophy itself. It was not their object to do so; it did not belong to the age in which they lived to make any such attempt. They gave incomparable observations upon detached points in human annals, but they did not take a general view of their tendency. They did not consider whence the world had come, or whither it was going. They [Pg 390]formed no connected system in regard to the march of human events. They saw clearly the effects of particular measures or systems of government at the time, but they did not reflect on the chain of causes which first raised up, and afterwards undermined it. Aristotle, the most powerful intellect of the ancient world, was of the same calibre as a political observer. He considered only the effects of the various forms of government which he saw established around him. In that survey he was admirable, but he never went beyond it. Bossuet's Universal History is little more than a history of the Jews; he refers every thing to the direct and immediate agency of Providence, irrespective of the freedom of the human will. Montesquieu first fixed his eyes upon the rise, progress, and decay of nations, as worked out by the actions of free agents. The Grandeur et Décadence des Romains is as original as the Principia, and laid the foundation of a science as sublime, and perhaps still more important to man than the laws of the planetary bodies.

Charles Secondat, Baron de la Brede and Montesquieu, was born at the chateau of La Brede, near Bourdeaux, on the 18th January 1689. The estate of La Brede had been long in his family, which was a very ancient one; it had been erected into a barony in favour of Jacob de Secondat, his great-great-grandfather, by Henry IV. The office of President of the Parliament (or Local Court of Justice) of Bourdeaux, had been acquired by his family in consequence of the marriage of his father with the daughter of the first president of that tribunal. From his earliest years young Montesquieu evinced remarkable readiness and vivacity of mind; a circumstance which determined his father to breed him up to the "magistracy," as it was termed in France—a profession midway, as it were, between the career of arms peculiar to the noble, and the labours of the bar confined to persons of plebeian origin, and from which many of the greatest men, and nearly all the distinguished statesmen of France took their rise. Montesquieu entered with the characteristic ardour of his disposition into the studies suited for that destination; and at the age of twenty he had already collected the materials of the Esprit des Loix, and evinced the characteristic turn of his mind for generalization, by an immense digest which he had made of the civil law. But these dry, though important studies, did not exclusively occupy his mind; he carried on, at the same time, a great variety of other pursuits. Like all men of an active and intellectual turn of mind, his recreation was found not in repose, but in change of occupation. Books of voyages and travels were collected, and read with avidity; he devoured rather than read the classical remains of Greece and Rome. "That antiquity," said he, "enchants me, and I am always ready to say with Pliny—You are going to Athens; show respect to the gods."

It was under this feeling of devout gratitude to the master minds of the ancient world, that he made his first essay in literature, which came out in a small work in the form of letters, the object of which was to show, that the idolatry of most Pagans did of itself not merit eternal damnation. Probably there are few good Christians, from Fénélon and Tillotson downwards, who will be of an opposite opinion. Even in that juvenile production are to be found traces of the sound judgment, correct taste, and general thought which characterised his later works. But he was soon thrown into the proper labours of his profession. On the 24th February 1714, he was admitted into the parliament of Bourdeaux as a councillor; and his paternal uncle, who held the president's chair, having died two years after, young Montesquieu was, on the 13th July 1716, appointed to that important office, though only twenty-seven years of age. Probably his being thrown thus early in life into the discharge of onerous and important duties, had an important effect in producing that firmness and maturity of judgment by which his mind was subsequently distinguished. Some years afterwards, he gave a convincing proof of his fitness for the situation, in the vigour with which he remonstrated against the imposition of a fresh tax on wine, which had the effect of procuring its removal at the time, though the necessities of government led to its being reimposed some years after. But his ardent[Pg 391] mind was not confined to professional pursuits. He concurred in the formation of an academy of sciences at Bourdeaux, and read some papers in it on natural history; and his attention being in this way turned to physical science, he wrote and published in the journals, a project for a "Physical History of the Earth, Ancient and Modern."

But in no human being was more completely exemplified the famous line—

"The proper study of mankind is man."


Montesquieu's genius was essentially moral and political; it was on man himself, not the material world with which he was surrounded, that his thoughts were fixed. This strong bent soon appeared in his writings. He next read at the academy at Bourdeaux, a "Life of the Duke of Berwick," and an "Essay on the Policy of the Romans in Religion," which was the basis of the immortal work which he afterwards composed on the rise and fall of that extraordinary people. These desultory essays gave no indication of the first considerable work which he published, which was the famous Lettres Persanes. They appeared in 1721, when he was thirty-two years of age. Their success was immediate and prodigious; a certain indication in matters of thought, that they were not destined to durable fame. They fell in with the ideas and passions of the time; they were not before it; thence their early popularity and ultimate oblivion. The work was published anonymously; for the keen but delicate satire on French manners and vices which it contained, might have endangered the author, and as it was he had no small difficulty, when it was known he was the writer, in escaping from its effects. It consists in a series of letters from an imaginary character, Usbeck, a Persian traveller, detailing the vices, manners, and customs of the French metropolis. The ingenuity, sarcasm, and truth, which that once celebrated production contains, must not make us shut our eyes to its glaring defects; the vices of the age, as they mainly contributed to its early popularity, have been the chief cause of its subsequent decline. It contains many passages improperly warm and voluptuous, and some which, under the mask of attacks on the Jesuits, had the appearance, at least, of being levelled at religion itself. No work, at that period, could attract attention in France which was not disfigured by these blemishes. Even the great mind of Montesquieu, in its first essay before the public, did not escape the contagion of the age.

But, erelong, the genius of this profound thinker was devoted to more congenial and worthy objects. In 1726, he sold his office of president of the parliament of Bourdeaux, partly in order to escape from the toils of legal pursuit and judicial business, which, in that mercantile and rising community, was attended with great labour; partly in order to be enabled to travel, and study the institutions and character of different nations—a pursuit of which he was passionately fond, and which, without doubt, had a powerful effect in giving him that vast command of detached facts in political science, and that liberal view of institutions, habits, and manners, differing in some degree from his own, by which his philosophical writings are so eminently distinguished. Here, as in the biography of almost all other really great men, it is found, that some circumstances apparently trivial or accidental have given a permanent bent to their mind; have stored it with the appropriate knowledge, and turned it, as it were, into the allotted sphere, and contributed to form the matrix in which original thought was formed, and new truth communicated by Providence to mankind. In the course of his travels, which lasted several years, he visited successively Austria, Hungary, Italy, Switzerland, the Rhine, Flanders, Holland, and England—in the latter of which he lived two years. During these varied travels, he made notes on all the countries which he visited, which contributed largely to the great stock of political information which he possessed. These notes are still extant; but, unfortunately, not in such a state of maturity as to admit of publication.

On his return to France, which took place in 1732, he retired to his native chateau of La Brede, and commenced in good earnest the great business of his life. The fruit of his studies and reflections appeared in the Considerations sur les Causes de [Pg 392]la Grandeur et de la Décadence des Romains, which was published in 1732. Great and original as this work—the most perfect of all his compositions—was, it did not give vent to the whole ideas which filled his capacious mind. Rome, great as it was, was but a single state; it was the comparison with other states, the development of the general principles which run through the jurisprudence and institutions of all nations, which occupied his thoughts. The success which attended his essay on the institutions and progress of a single people, encouraged him to enlarge his views and extend his labours. He came to embrace the whole known world, civilized and uncivilized, in his plan; and after fourteen years of assiduous labours and toil, the immortal "Spirit of Laws" appeared.

The history of Montesquieu's mind, during the progress of this great work, is singularly curious and interesting. At times he wrote to his friends that his great work advanced "à pas de géant;" at others, he was depressed by the slow progress which it made, and overwhelmed by the prodigious mass of materials which required to be worked into its composition. So distrustful was he of its success, even after the vast labour he had employed in its composition, that he sent his manuscript before publication to a friend on whose judgment he could rely—Helvetius. That friend, notwithstanding all his penetration, was so mistaken in his reckoning, that he conceived the most serious disquietude as to the ruin of Montesquieu's reputation by the publication of such a work. Such was his alarm that he did not venture to write to the author on the subject, but gave the manuscript to another critic, Saurin, the author of a work entitled Spartacus, long since extinct, who passed the same judgment upon it. Both concurred in thinking that the reputation of Montesquieu would be entirely ruined by the publication of the new manuscript; the brilliant author of the semi-voluptuous, semi-infidel Lettres Persanes, would sink into a mere Legist, a dull commentator on pandects and statutes, if he published the Esprit des Loix, "That," said Helvetius, "is what afflicts me for him, and for humanity, which he was so well qualified to have served." It was agreed between them that Helvetius should write to Montesquieu to give him an account of their joint opinion, that he should not give the work to the world in its present state. Saurin, with some reason, was afraid that Montesquieu would be hurt at their communication; but Helvetius wrote to him—"Be not uneasy; he is not hurt at our advice; he loves frankness in his friends. He is willing to bear with discussions, but answers only by sallies, and rarely changes his opinions. I have not given him ours from any idea that he would either change his conduct or modify his preconceived ideas, but from a sense of the duty of sincerity cost what it will, with friends. When the light of truth shall have dispelled the illusions of self-love, he will at least not be able to reproach us with having been less indulgent than the public."

Montesquieu, however, was not discouraged. He sent his manuscript to the press with hardly any alteration, and took for his motto, Prolem sine matre creatam;[1] in allusion to the originality of his conception, and the total want of any previous model on which it had been formed. The work appeared in the month of July 1748; and its success, so far as the sale went, was prodigious. Before two years had elapsed, it had gone through twenty-two editions, and been translated into most of the European languages. This early success, rare in works of profound and original thought, showed, that though it was in advance of the age, it was but a little in advance; and that it had struck a key which was ready to vibrate in the national mind. Like all distinguished works, if it was much read and admired by some, it was as keenly criticized and cut to pieces by others. Madame de Deffand said it was not the Esprit des Loix he had written, but Esprit sur les Loix. This expression made a great noise; it had a certain degree of truth, just enough, when coupled[Pg 393] with epigrammatic brevity, to make the fortune of the sayer. Encouraged by its success, the enemies of original genius, ever ready to assail it, united their forces, and Montesquieu was soon the object of repeated and envenomed attacks. It was said, that to establish certain favourite theories, he availed himself of the testimony of travellers obscure and of doubtful credit; that he leapt too rapidly from particulars to general conclusions; that he ascribed to the influence of climate and physical laws what was in fact the result of moral or political causes; that he had split the same subject into small chapters, so confusedly arranged that there was no order or system in the work; that it was still incomplete, and wanted the master-hand which was to put it together; and that it resembled the detached pieces of a mosaic pavement, each of which is fair or brilliant in itself, but which have no meaning or expression till disposed by the taste and skill of the artist. There was some truth in all these criticisms; it is rare that it is otherwise with the reproaches made against a work of original thought. Envy generally discovers a blot to hit. Malignity is seldom at a loss for some blemish to point out. It is by exaggerating slight defects, and preserving silence on great merits, that literary jealousy ever tries to work out its wretched spite. The wisdom of an author is not to resent or overlook, but in silence to profit by such sallies; converting thus the industry and envy of his enemies into a source of advantage to himself.

Montesquieu, in pursuance of these principles, passed over in silence the malignant attacks of a herd of critics, whose works are now buried in the charnel-house of time, but who strove with all the fury of envy and disappointment to extinguish his rising fame. When pressed by some of his friends to answer some of these attacks, he replied—"It is unnecessary; I am sufficiently avenged on some by the neglect of the public, on others by its indignation." The only instance in which he deviated from this wise resolution was in replying to the attacks of an anonymous critic, who, in a Journal entitled the Nouvelles Ecclesiastiques, had represented him as an atheist. In his Lettres Persanes, though he had never assailed the great principles of his religion, he had, in his sallies against the Jesuits, gone far to warrant the belief that he was inclined to do so; and had already done enough in the estimation of the tyrannical and bigoted ecclesiastics who at that period ruled the Church of France, to warrant his being included in the class of infidel writers. But his mind, chastened by years, enlightened by travelling and reflection, had come to cast off these prejudices of his age and country, the necessary result of the Romish tyranny by which it had been oppressed, but unworthy of an intellect of such grasp and candour. In the Protestant countries of Europe, particularly Holland and England, he had seen the working of Christianity detached from the rigid despotism by which the Church of Rome fetters belief, and the well-conceived appliances by which it stimulates imagination, and opens a refuge for frailty. Impressed with the new ideas thus awakened in his mind, he had in his Esprit des Loix pronounced a studious and sincere eulogium on Christianity; recommending it, not only as the most perfect of all systems of religious belief, but as the only secure basis of social order and improvement. It was material to correct the impression, partly just, partly erroneous, which his earlier and more indiscreet writings had produced; and with this view he wrote and published his Defence de l' Esprit des Loix. This little piece is a model of just and candid reasoning, accompanied with a refined and delicate vein of ridicule, which disarmed opposition without giving ground for resentment. He congratulated himself on the fine satire with which he had overthrown his enemies.—"What pleases me in my Defence, is not so much," said he, "to have floored the Ecclesiastics, as to have let them fall so gently." Posterity will find a more valuable charm in this little production; it is, that the author in it has unconsciously painted himself. His contemporaries have recorded, that in reading it they could believe they heard the writer speak; and this proves that his talents in conversation had been equal to those he displayed in writing—a combination[Pg 394] very rare in persons of the highest class in literature.

The fame of Montesquieu, great as it was in his own country, was even greater in foreign ones. In Great Britain in particular, the Esprit des Loix early acquired a prodigious reputation. It was read and admired by all persons of thought and education. This was partly the consequence of England being so much in advance of France in the career of liberty—alike in matters civil and ecclesiastical. The new ideas, hardy thoughts, and original conceptions of the great work met with a ready reception, and cordial admiration, in the land of freedom and the Reformation—in the country where meditation had so long been turned to political subjects, contemplation to religious truth. But another cause of lasting influence also contributed to the same effect. Original genius is ever more readily and willingly admired in foreign states than its own: a prophet has no honour in his own country. He interferes too much with existing influences or reputations. To foreigners, he is more remote—more like a dead man. Human vanity is less hurt by his elevation.

The latter years of Montesquieu's life were spent almost entirely in retirement at his paternal chateau of La Brede, varied occasionally by visits to the great world at Paris. He was occupied in agriculture and gardening—tenacious of his seignorial rights, but indulgent to the last degree to his tenantry, by whom he was adored. Never was exemplified in a more remarkable manner the soothing influence of the recollections of a well-spent life on the felicity of its later years, or the fountains of happiness which may be opened in the breast itself from the calm serenity of conscious power and great achievement. He conversed much, with the farmers and peasants on his estate, whose houses he frequently entered, and whose convivialities, on occasion of a marriage or a birth, he seldom failed to attend. He often preferred their conversation to that of persons their superiors in rank or information—"for," said he, "they are not learned enough to enter into argument; they only tell you what they know, which frequently you do not know yourself." Though he lived with the great when in Paris, partly from necessity, partly from inclination, yet their society was noways necessary to his happiness. He flew as soon as he could from their brilliant assemblies to the retirement of his estate, where he found with joy, philosophy, books, and repose. Surrounded by the people of the country in their hours of leisure, after having studied man in the intercourse of the world and the history of nations, he studied it in those simple minds which nature alone had taught; and he found something to learn there. He conversed cheerfully with them; like Socrates, he drew out their talents and information; he appeared to take as much pleasure in their conversation as in that of the brilliant circles by which he was courted in the capital; he terminated their disputes by his wisdom, assuaged their sufferings by his beneficence.

In society he was uniformly affable, cheerful, and considerate. His conversation was light, agreeable, and instructive, abounding with anecdotes of the great number of eminent men with whom he had lived. Like his style in writing, it was brief, tranchant, and epigrammatic, full of wit and observation, but without a particle of bitterness or satire. In common with all men of the highest class of intellect, he was totally devoid of envy or jealousy. None more readily applauded genius or merit in others, or was more desirous on all occasions to bring it forward, and give it the due reward. No one recounted anecdotes with more vivacity, a happier effect, or less tedium. He knew that the close of all such narratives contains in general all that is pleasing in them; and therefore he hastened to arrive at it before the patience of his hearers could be exhausted. He had a perfect horror at long stories. He was frequently absent, and remained in society for some time wrapt in thought, without speaking; but never failed, on such occasions, to make amends by some unexpected remark or anecdote, which revived the languishing conversation. His mind was full: no subject could be mentioned on which he was not informed; but he never brought his knowledge ostentatiously forward, and sought rather to draw out those around him, and[Pg 395] lead the conversation so as to make others shine, than to do so himself.

He was regular and methodical in his life; and this arose not merely from his character and disposition, but the order he had prescribed to himself in his studies. Though capable of long-continued effort and profound meditation, he never exhausted his strength; he uniformly changed the subject of his labour, or book, to some recreation, before feeling the sensation of fatigue. Temperate in his habits, serene and unruffled in his mind, he enjoyed a much larger share of happiness than falls to the lot of most men. He was fortunately married; had affectionate children, whose kindness and attentions solaced his declining years; and his remarkable prudence and economy not only preserved him from those pecuniary embarrassments so common to men of genius, but enabled him frequently to indulge the benevolence of his disposition by splendid acts of generosity. He frequently said that he had never experienced a chagrin in life which an hour's reading did not dissipate. In his later years, when his eyesight was affected he depended chiefly on listening to reading aloud, which was done alternately by his secretary and one of his daughters. He had every thing which could make life happy; an ample fortune, affectionate family, fame never contested, the consciousness of great powers nobly applied—"I have never through life," said he in his old age, "had a chagrin, still less an hour of ennui. I waken in the morning with a secret pleasure at beholding the light. I gaze upon it with species of ravishment. All the day I am content. In the evening when I retire to rest, I fall into a sort of reverie which prevents the effort of thought, and I pass the night without once waking."

No man ever possessed a higher sense of the dignity of intellectual power, of its great and glorious mission, of its superiority to all the world calls great, and of the consequent jealousy and aversion with which it is sure to be regarded by the depositaries of political authority. He was neglected by them; he knew it, and expected it; it never gave him a moment's chagrin. "He was not insensible," says D'Alembert, "to glory; but he had no desire to win but by deserving it. Never did he attempt to enhance his reputation by the underhand devices and secret machinations by which second-rate men so often strive to sustain their literary fortunes. Worthy of every eloge and of every recompense, he asked nothing, and was noways surprised at being forgot. But he had courage enough in critical circumstances to solicit the protection at court of men of letters persecuted and unfortunate, and he obtained their restoration to favour." What a picture of the first man of his age, living in retirement, asking nothing, noways surprised at being forgot! He knew human nature well who acted thus after writing the Esprit des Loix. Power loves talent as long as it serves itself, when it is useful but manageable; it hates it when it becomes its instructor. Self-love is gratified by the subservience of genius in the first case; it is mortified by its superiority in the last.

But this honoured and happy life was drawing to a close. Shortly after the publication of the Esprit des Loix, the strength of Montesquieu rapidly declined; it seemed as if nature had been exhausted by that great production. "I had intended," said he in his journal, "to give more extent and depth to some parts of the Esprit des Loix, but I have become incapable of it. Reading has weakened my eyes; and it seems as if the little light that still remains to them, is but the dawn of the day when they will close for ever." His anticipations were not long of being carried into effect. In February 1755, he was seized with an inflammatory fever when on a visit at Paris. The utmost care and attention was bestowed on him by a number of friends especially the Duc de Nivernois and the Duchesse d'Aiguillon, two of his oldest friends; but he sunk under the malady at the end of thirteen days. The sweetness of his temper and serenity of his disposition never deserted him during this illness. From the first he was aware of its dangerous nature, but not a groan, a complaint, or a murmur ever escaped his lips. The Jesuits made strenuous endeavours to get possession of him during his last moments; but, though strongly impressed with[Pg 396] religions principle, he resisted all their efforts to extract from him a declaration in favour of their peculiar tenets. "I have always respected religion," said he; "the morality of the Gospel is the noblest gift ever bestowed by God on man." The Jesuits strenuously urged him to put into their hands a corrected copy of the Lettres Persanes, in which he had expunged the passages having an irreligious tendency, but he refused to give it to them; but he gave the copy to the Duchesse d'Aiguillon, and Madame Dupré de St Maur, who were in the apartment, with instructions for its publication, saying, "I will sacrifice every thing to religion, but nothing to the Jesuits." Shortly after he received extreme unction from the hands of the curé of the parish. "Sir," said the priest, "you now feel how great is God." "Yes," he replied, "and how little man." These were his last words. He died on the 10th of February 1755.

Montesquieu left a great number of manuscripts and notes; but they were in so incomplete a state, that a few detached fragments only have been deemed fit for publication. He had written a journal of his travels, and in particular a set of "Notes on England," which would have been of much value had they been worked up to a mature form; but death interrupted him when he was only in the commencement of that great undertaking. He had begun a history of France under Louis XI., which is still extant, though very little progress was made in the work. The introduction, containing a sketch of the state of Europe at that period, is said to equal the most brilliant picture left by his immortal hand. It is written in the terse, epigrammatic style which is so characteristic of its author; and a few striking expressions preserved by those who have had access to the manuscript, will convey an idea of what the work would have been. "He saw only," said he, "in the commencement of his reign, the commencement of vengeance." Terminating a parallel of Louis XI. and Richelieu, which he drew much to the advantage of the latter, he observed, "He made the monarch play the second part in the monarchy, but the first in Europe—he lowered the king, but he raised the Kingdom." These and similar expressions are in Montesquieu's peculiar and nervous style, and they prove that the work would have contained, if completed, many brilliant passages; but they do not warrant the conclusion that the history itself would have been of much value. There is nothing more dangerous to an historian than great powers of epigrammatic expression; it almost inevitably leads to the sacrifice of truth and candour to point and antithesis. It is well for Tacitus that we have not the other side of his story recounted by a writer of equal power, but less party spirit and force of expression. In truth, it is probable the world has not lost much by Montesquieu's numerous unpublished manuscripts having been left in an incomplete state. There is no end to the writing of romances, or the annals of human events, but there is a very early limit to the production of original ideas, even to the greatest intellects; to Plato, Bacon, Newton, Smith, or Montesquieu, they are given only in a limited number. Hence their frequent repetition of the same thoughts, when their writings become voluminous. Montesquieu has done enough; his mission to man has been amply fulfilled.

In common with other men whose thoughts have made a great and wide-spread impression on mankind, the originality and value of Montesquieu's conceptions cannot be rightly appreciated by subsequent ages. That is the consequence of their very originality and importance. They have sunk so deep, and spread so far among mankind, that they have become common and almost trite. Like the expressions of Shakspeare, Gray, or Milton, they have become household words; on reading his works, we are astonished to find how vast a proportion of our habitual thoughts and expressions have sprung from that source. This, however, far from being a reproach to an author, is his highest commendation; it demonstrates at once the impression his thoughts have made on mankind. If we would discover the step a great man has made, we must recur to the authors in the same line who have preceded him, and then the change appears great indeed. The highest praise which can be bestowed on an[Pg 397] author of original thought, is to say, that his ideas were unknown to the authors who preceded, trite with those who followed him.

The great characteristic of Montesquieu's thoughts, is the tracing the operation of general and lasting causes on human affairs. Before his time, the march of political or social events was ascribed by divines to the immediate and direct agency of the Deity guiding human actions, as a general moves an army; by men of the world, to chance, or the mastering influence of individual energy and talent. Bossuet may be considered as the most eminent of the former class. Voltaire brought the doctrines of the latter to their highest perfection. In opposition to both, Montesquieu strenuously asserted the operation of general laws, emanating doubtless originally from the institutions of the Deity, and the adaptation of the human mind to the circumstances in which man is placed in society, but acting at subsequent periods through the instrumentality of free agents, and of permanent and lasting operation in all ages of the world. Machiavel had frequently got sight of this sublime theory in his political writings; and in his Discorsi on Roman History, many of the most profound observations ever made by man on the working of the human mind under free institutions, and of the corresponding effects of similar principles of action in the republics of antiquity, and of those of Italy in modern times, are to be found. But it was Montesquieu who first carried out the doctrine to its full extent, and traced its operation through an infinity of historical events and political institutions. It is to the success with which he has done this, and the combined philosophical depth and grasp of details which his writings exhibit, that his colossal reputation has been owing. He had prodigious acquaintance with individual facts, united to the power of classifying them under their proper heads, and deducing from them their general and common principles. Like the steam-engine, he could, by turns, turn a thread round a spindle, and elevate a seventy-four in the air. He was the Kepler of science; like the immortal German, he had made eighty thousand observations in the social world; but, like him, he could deduce the few laws of national advance or decline from the regular irregularity of their motion.

The expression, Esprit des Loix, selected as the title of Montesquieu's great work, was not happily chosen. What he meant was not the Spirit of Laws, but the causes from which laws have arisen; the "Leges Legum," as Cicero said, to which they were owing, and from which they had sprung. He ascribed very little influence to human institutions in moulding the character or determining the felicity of man. On the contrary, he thought that these institutions were in general an effect, not a cause. He conceived that they arose, in every country, from something peculiar in the race from which the nature descended, or the climate, employments, or mode of earning subsistence to which it was chained in subsequent times by the physical circumstance in which it was placed. A certain type or character was imprinted on every people, either by the ineradicable influence of blood, which descends to the remotest generations, or the not less irremovable effect of external and physical circumstances which attaches to them through all ages. It was this blood and those circumstances which formed the national character, and through it, in the course of generations, moulded the national customs and institutions. Such customs and institutions were those which, having been framed by necessity, or the dictates of expedience, according to the circumstances in which each people were placed, were best adapted to their temper and situation. True wisdom consisted not in altering but following out the spirit of existing laws and customs; and, in his own words—"No nation ever yet rose to lasting greatness but from institutions in conformity to its spirit." No calamities were so great or irremediable as those which arose from disregarding the separate characters stamped on the different races and nations of men by the hand of the Almighty, or seeking to force upon one people or one race the institutions which have arisen among, and are adapted to, another.

Such are the fundamental principles which run through Montesquieu's[Pg 398] writings, and to the elucidation of which he devoted the fifteen best years of his life. It will readily be perceived that they are entirely at variance with the whole doctrines of the French philosophers of the latter part of the eighteenth century, and which were practically enforced and carried into effect in their great Revolution. With them institutions were every thing; national character, descent, employment, or physical circumstances, nothing. All mankind would be the same if they only enjoyed the same liberty, laws, and institutions. The differences observable among them were entirely the result of the different governments forced upon men, in various stages of their progress, by the tyranny of kings, the force of conquest, or the machinations of priests. One frame of institutions, one code of laws, one set of government maxims, were adapted for all the world, and if practically acted upon would every where produce the same pure and upright character in the people. Vice and wickedness were the hateful effect of aristocratic pride, kingly lusts, or sacerdotal delusion; the human heart was naturally innocent, and bent only upon virtue; when the debasing influence of these corrupters of men was removed, it would universally resume its natural direction. Hence the maxim of Robespierre—"Le peuple est toujours bon, le magistrat toujours corruptible." Hence the readiness with which the constitution-mongers at Paris set themselves to prepare skeletons of government for all nations, and their universal identity with that originally cast during the fervour of the Revolution for the Great Nation. Hence also, it may be added, their experienced evils, short duration, and universal sweeping away, within a few years, before the accumulated suffering and aroused indignation of mankind.

It was owing to this fundamental variance between the doctrines of Montesquieu and those of the greater part of his contemporaries, and nearly the whole generation which succeeded him, that the comparative obscurity of his fame after his death, and the neglect which his writings for long experienced in France, are to be ascribed. When we contemplate the profound nature of his thoughts, the happy terseness and epigrammatic force of his expressions, and the great early fame which his writings acquired, nothing appears more extraordinary than the subsequent neglect into which, for above half a century after his death, he fell.[2] Voltaire, Rousseau, Helvetius, Condorcet, Turgot, and the Encyclopédists, were then at the acme of their reputation; and their doctrines as to the natural innocence of man, and the universal moulding of human character by political institutions, not of political institutions by human character, were too much at variance with Montesquieu's deductions and conclusions to admit of their coexisting together. The experience of the Revolution, both abroad and at home, however, erelong spread a doubt among many thinking men, whether these doctrines were in reality as well founded as they were universally represented to be by the philosophers of the preceding age. Napoleon, who was thoroughly convinced of their erroneous nature, had a high admiration for Montesquieu, and frequently quoted his sentiments. But still the opposite set of opinions, diffused over the world with the tricolor flag, maintain their ground with the great majority even of well-informed men, at least in all republican states and constitutional monarchies. The policy of England in encouraging the revolutions of Belgium, Portugal, Spain, and the South American republics, has, for the last thirty years, been mainly founded on the principle, that institutions similar to those of Britain may with safety be transferred to other states, and that it is among them alone that we are to look for durable alliances or cordial support. The wretched fate of all the countries, strangers to the Anglo-Saxon blood, who have been cursed with these alien constitutions, whether in the Spanish or Italian Peninsulas, or the[Pg 399] South American states—the jealous spirit and frequent undisguised hostility of America—the total failure of English institutions in Ireland, have had no effect with the great majority of men in this country, in rooting out these fatal errors. More than one generation, it is apparent, must descend to their graves before they are fairly expelled from general thought by experience and suffering. So obstinately do men cling to doctrines, which are flattering to human vanity, in opposition alike to the dictates of wisdom and the lessons of experience; and so true in all ages is the doctrine of the Roman Catholic church, that pride is the last sin which can be conquered in the human heart.

One remarkable instance will illustrate the manner in which Montesquieu supported the opposite principles, that institutions are moulded by the character and circumstances of nations, not the moulders of them. It is well known that primogeniture, though neither the law of succession in the Roman empire, nor originally of the nations of Northern Europe, in whom the allodial customs at first generally prevailed, came to be universally introduced with the feudal system, and the thorough establishment of a military aristocracy in every country of Europe. But, strange to say, there are some places where the rule is just the reverse, and the youngest son succeeds to the whole movable estate of the father, as is still the custom of some boroughs in England.[3] Montesquieu ascribes, and apparently with reason, these opposite rules of succession to a similar feeling of expedience and necessity in the different circumstances in which the same race of Northmen were placed in different periods of their progress. The succession of the youngest son to the father's estate was the bequest of the patriarchal ages, when the youngest son generally remained last at home with his aged parent, his elder brothers having previously hived off with their herds and flocks. He therefore naturally succeeded to the movables of which he was alone in possession, jointly with his father, at the latter's death.

On the other hand, the descent of the whole landed estate to the eldest son, to the exclusion of his younger brothers and sisters, was naturally suggested by the settlement of a brave and martial race of conquerors in extensive districts gained by their valour, and which could be maintained only in the lands they had won by the sword. To divide the estate in such circumstances of peril, was to expose it to certain destruction; unity of operation in all its forms, one head, one castle, was as indispensable as one general to an army, or one sovereign to a kingdom. The old maxim, "divide et impera," was universally felt to be of fearful application. Empires, duchies, principalities, earldoms, baronies, private estates, could alone be preserved entire, amidst the general hostility with which all were surrounded, by descending to a single occupant. That occupant was naturally the eldest son, the first-born of the family, the first who arrived at man's estate, and the most capable on that account to render the necessary protection to its various members and dependants. Hence the general establishment of the law of primogeniture in all the countries of Europe. And for a similar reason, when the necessity which at first occasioned this general deviation from the feelings of equal affection to offspring was removed by the establishment of regular government, and general security, and the spread of commerce, with the necessity of capital to fit out sons and daughters, had been generally felt, this custom was silently abrogated at least in the commercial and middle classes, and a division of the succession, whether in land or money, into nearly equal parts, very generally took place.

It may readily be inferred from these observations, that the doctrines of Montesquieu, as to the moulding[Pg 400] of institutions by external circumstances, and the character of nations, not of the character of nations by institutions and forms of government, is one of the very highest importance, not merely to speculative philosophers, but practical statesmen. In truth, it is the question of questions; the one thing needful to be understood both by the leaders of thought and the rulers of men. Unless correct and rational views are entertained on this subject, internal legislation will be perpetually at fault, external policy in a false direction. Reform will degenerate into revolution, conquest into desolation. The greatest calamities, both social and foreign, recorded in the history of the last half century, have arisen from a neglect of the maxims of Montesquieu, as to the indelible influence of race and external circumstances on human character, and the adoption in their stead of the doctrines of Voltaire and Rousseau, on the paramount influence of political institutions and general education on human felicity. Our policy, both social and foreign, is still mainly founded on the latter basis. If Montesquieu's principles as to no nation ever arriving at durable greatness but by institutions in harmony with its spirit and origin, had been generally adopted, the French Revolution, which originated in the Anglo and American mania, and the desire to transplant English institutions into the soil of France, would never have taken place. Had the same views prevailed in the British Cabinet, the iniquitous support of the revolt of the South American colonies in 1821 and 1822, and the insidious encouragement of the ruinous revolutions of Spain and Portugal during the Carlist war, would not have stained the honour of England, and ruined the prospects of the Peninsula. Had they pervaded the British community, the two fatal mistakes of policy in our time, the sudden emancipation of the negro slaves in the West Indies, and the unloosing all the bonds of government in Ireland, by the transplantation of Anglo-Saxon institutions, and the tempered freedom of England, into the midst of the Celtic blood and semi-barbarous passions of Ireland, would never have been committed. The great question at issue, in short, between Montesquieu and the Encyclopédists, as to whether man is moulded by institutions, or institutions by man, is the fundamental question, not only speculative, but practical, of the age; and without correct ideas on which, internal legislation and external policy are equally certain to be precipitated into error, and benevolence itself to become the parent of unbounded calamities.

And yet, if the matter be considered dispassionately, and without the disturbing influence of human pride and democratic ambition, which have obscured the visions of three generations of the ablest men in Europe, it seems extraordinary how any doubt could ever have been entertained on the subject. What are laws and institutions but the work of men, the concentration of the national will in times past, or at the present moment? If so, how could they have arisen but from the will of the people? It is only removing the difficulty a step further back to say, as has so often been done, that they were imposed, not by the will of the nation, but by the power of the tyrants who had oppressed, or the priests who had deluded it. For who were these tyrants or these priests? Not one in twenty thousand to the whole community. If they were empowered and enabled to impose arbitrary or debasing institutions, it must have been because the immense majority devolved to them the task; because, conscious of inability to govern themselves, or wanting the inclination to do so, they willingly resigned themselves to the guidance and direction of others. The Czar at St. Petersburg, the Sultaun at Constantinople, the Emperor at Pekin, reign just as much by the national will, and in a manner just as conformable to the national wish, as the Consuls of Rome, the Committee of Public Salvation at Paris, or the present constitutional Monarchs of France or England. The proof of this is, that when the people are dissatisfied with their administration, or displeased with the sovereign, they have no difficulty in dispatching him. The twisting of a sash round the neck in Russia, the bowstring in Constantinople or Ispahan, are very effectual monitors—fully as much so as a hostile Parliamentary majority in the[Pg 401] house of Commons or Chamber of Deputies. In a word, government in every country being conducted by the few over the many by the hundreds over the hundred thousands, it is altogether impossible that the administration or institutions can be, for any length of time, at variance with the general will; because, if it was, it would not be submitted to. It may be, indeed, despotic and tyrannical in the highest degree, but that is no indication that it is contrary to the general will; it is only an indication that the general will is to be slaves—no unusual occurrence among men.

This fundamental principle of Montesquieu as to the perpetual and ineradicable influence of race, climate, and physical circumstances, in forming national character, and moulding national institutions, is unquestionably the true doctrine on the subject, though probably several generations must pass away, and an incalculable amount of suffering be endured by mankind, before it is generally admitted. Coupled with the cardinal point of the Christian faith, the inherent and universal corruption of the human heart, it forms the only foundation of a salutary or durable government. Decisive proof of this may be found in the fact, that the revolutionary party, all the world over, maintain directly the reverse; viz. that free political institutions, and general education, are all in all; and that, if established, the native virtue of the human heart affords a sufficient guarantee for general happiness. Montesquieu's principles lead to the conclusion that all reform and amelioration of existing institutions, to be either durable or beneficial, must be moulded on the old precedents, and deviate as little as may be, and that only from obvious necessity or expedience, from them. They utterly repudiate all transplantation of constitutions, or forcing upon one people the institutions or privileges of another. They point to experience as the great and only sure guide in social or political change, and for the obvious reason, that it alone can tell what has been found to be suitable to the circumstances, and adapted to the character and wants, of the nation among whom it has taken place. It is not that our ancestors were in the least wiser than we are; doubtless they did many foolish things, as we do. It is that time has consigned their foolish things, whether laws or measures, to the grave; and nothing has descended to our time but those institutions which have been found to be beneficial in their tendency. The portions of our present legislation which are suitable to the country, will in like manner descend to posterity, and the folly and absurdity will in a few generations be heard of no more.

It has been already remarked, that the Grandeur et Décadence des Romains is a more complete, and in some respects profound work, than the Esprit des Loix. A few quotations will justify, it is thought, this high eulogium—

"The circumstance of all others which contributed most to the ultimate greatness of Rome, was the long-continued wars in which its people were early involved. The Italian people had no machines for conducting sieges; and in addition to this, as the soldiers every where served without pay, it was impossible to retain them long before a fortified town; thus few of their wars were decisive. They fought for the pillage of a camp, or the booty of the fields, after which victors and vanquished retired alike into their respective cities. It was this circumstance which occasioned the long resistance of the Italian cities, and, at the same time, the obstinacy of the Romans in their endeavours to subjugate them; it was that which gave them victories which did not enervate, and conquests which left them their poverty. Had they rapidly conquered the neighbouring cities, they would have arrived at their decline before the days of Pyrrhus, of the Gauls, and of Hannibal; and, following the destiny of all the nations in the world, they would too quickly have gone through the transition from poverty to riches, and from riches to corruption."—C. 1.


What a subject for reflection is presented in this single paragraph! Rome, without any knowledge of siege equipage, thrown in the midst of the Italian states bristling with strongholds; and slowly learning, during centuries of indecisive, and often calamitous contests, that military art by which she was afterwards to subdue the world! It was in like manner, in the long, bloody, and nearly balanced contests of the[Pg 402] Grecian republics with each other, that the discipline was learned which gave Alexander and the Macedonian phalanx the empire of Asia; and in the protracted struggles of the Anglo-Saxons, first with each other in the Heptarchy, and then with the Danes and Normans in defence of their coasts, that the foundation was laid of the energy and perseverance which have given the British race their present eminence and dominion among men.

"It has been often observed," says Montesquieu, "that our armies generally melt away under the fatigue of the soldiers, while those of the Romans never failed to preserve their health by it. The reason is, that their fatigues were continued; whereas our soldiers are destroyed by passing from a life of almost total inactivity to one of vehement exertion—the thing of all others most destructive to health. Not only were the Roman soldiers accustomed, during war, to incessant marching, and fortifying of the camps, but in peace they were daily trained to the same active habits. They were all habituated to the military step, that is, to go twenty miles, and sometimes twenty-four, in five hours. They did this bearing burdens of sixty pounds. They were daily trained to run and leap with their whole equipment on; in their ordinary drills the swords, javelins, and arrows were of a weight double of that used in war, and the exercises were continued."—C. 2.


There can be no doubt that this passage both explains much of the astonishing conquests of the Roman legions, and furnishes ample subject for reflection to a modern observer. The constant employment of these troops in the construction of great public works, as highways, bridges, harbours, or the like, was at once the best security for the health of the soldiers and the circumstance, of all others, which rendered their maintenance tolerable to the people. If we examine the inscriptions found in all parts of the world, where Roman remains are to be met with, we shall find that they were raised by the hands of the legions. It was their persevering and incessant toil which formed the magnificent highways, which, emanating from the Roman Forum, extended to the furthest extremity of the empire. The prodigious labour required for these great undertakings; the vast bridges and viaducts which required to be constructed; the mountains to be levelled; morasses and valleys to be filled up, habituated the legionary soldiers to such an amount of daily labour, that their engaging in the fatigues of a campaign was felt rather as a recreation than a burden. Hence, the dreadful sickness which in modern armies invariably attends the commencement of a campaign, and in general halves its numerical strength before a sword has been drawn, was for the most part unknown, and hence, too, the extraordinary achievements performed by small bodies of these iron veterans. How great the difference in modern times, where the naval and military forces are every where kept up during peace in almost total idleness; and the consequence is, that they are at once an eyesore to the citizens whose substance they consume in what is deemed useless ostentation, and are deprived of half their numerical strength, and more than half their efficiency, on first engaging in the fatigues of real warfare.

No province hails the arrival of a modern division of troops, no seaport longs for the presence of a man-of-war, as the signal for the commencement of great and beneficent pacific undertakings, as was the case in the Roman empire. Of what incalculable use might the British navy be, if even a part of it was employed in transporting the hundred thousand colonists who annually seek in our distant possessions, or in the American States, that profitable market for their industry, which they cannot find amidst our crowded manufactories at home? And this is an instance of the manner in which the reflections of Montesquieu, though made in reference only to the Roman empire, are in truth applicable to all ages and countries; as the parables in the Gospels, though delivered only to the fishermen of Judea, contain the rules of conduct for the human race to the end of the world.

Regarding the comparative causes of corruption in a military and commercial state, Montesquieu makes the following observation. Let him that feels it not applicable to this nation and ourselves, throw the first stone:—

"Carthage having become richer than Rome, was also more corrupted.[Pg 403] For this reason, while at Rome public employments were chiefly awarded to ability and virtue, and conferred no advantage, but a greater share of fatigues to be endured, and dangers incurred, every thing which the public had to bestow was sold at Carthage, and every service rendered by individuals was paid by the state. The tyranny of a prince does not bring a despotic state nearer its ruin than indifference to the public good does a republic. The advantage of a free state consists in this, that its revenues are in general better administered; and even where this is not the case, it has at first the advantage of not being governed by court favourites. But, on the other hand, the corrupting power in a democracy, when once brought into action, erelong becomes more dissolving than in a despotism; for instead of paying court merely to the friends and relations of the prince, it becomes necessary to provide for the friends and relations of the multitude who have a share in political power. All is then lost. The laws are eluded in a more dangerous manner than by the violence of a despot; for they are so by the interests of the changing many, not the passions of one, whose position at the head of the state being fixed and unchangeable, gives him a lasting interest in its preservation."—C. 4.


How many reflections does this passage, written in France above a century ago, awaken in the breast of a British citizen at this time!—"Si monumentum quæris, circumspice!" So true it is, that real political truth belongs to no age or locality—"non alia Romæ, alia Athenis;" it is of eternal application, and is destined to receive confirmation from the experience of men, and the lessons of history, to the end of the world.

"Powers," says Montesquieu, "which owe their greatness to commerce, may exist long in mediocrity, but their grandeur can never be of long duration. The reason is, that they rise to greatness by little and little, without any one being aware of their growth, as they have done nothing which attracts attention, awakens alarm, or indicates their power. But when it has risen to that point, that no one can avoid seeing it, all the surrounding nations secretly endeavour to deprive the great commercial state of advantages which they all envy, and which have taken them, as it were, by surprise."—C. 4.


Few persons who contemplate the present state of the British empire, its astonishing rise to greatness in the space of less than a century—the general, it may be said universal jealousy with which it is regarded, and the perilous pinnacle on which it now stands, will deny the justice of this observation. May the remark, as to the short duration of power founded on such a basis, not receive an additional, and even more memorable confirmation in ourselves! But one thing is perfectly clear. This remark indicates the impossibility of conciliating the adjoining and poorer states while our commercial superiority continues, and thus strikes at the very foundation of the reciprocity system, on which our whole commercial policy for the last quarter of a century has been founded. That system proceeds on the principle, that by opening to the adjoining states a fair communication of advantages, it is in the power of a great commercial state, not only to conciliate their good-will, but obtain with them a great and mutually beneficial mercantile intercourse. Montesquieu's observation points to the undying and universal jealousy by its neighbours with which such a power is ever surrounded, and the futility of all attempts, while its superiority exists, to avert their mercantile hostility, or preserve with them any considerable commercial traffic. Which is the better option, let the hedge of hostile tariffs with which, after boundless concessions to purchase commercial good-will, we are surrounded in every direction, give the answer.

On the comparative value of infantry and cavalry in war, Montesquieu, though no professional soldier, makes the following observation, on which those who are so, would do well to ponder:—

"The Carthaginian cavalry was superior to that of the Romans, for two reasons. One was, that the Numidian and Spanish horses were better than those of Italy; the other, that the Roman cavalry was ill armed; for Polybius tells us, that it was not till they had carried on war in Greece, that they changed their manner of equipping that limb of military strength. In the first[Pg 404] Punic war, Regulus was beat as soon as the Carthaginians made choice of plains for combat, where their cavalry could act to advantage; in the second, Hannibal owed to the Numidian horse his principal victories. It was not till whole corps of them began to go over to the Romans in Italy, that the latter began to breathe. Scipio having conquered Spain, and contracted an alliance with Masinissa, deprived the Carthaginians of that advantage. He did more, he gained it for himself. It was the Numidian cavalry which gained the battle of Zama, and terminated the war in favour of the Romans."—C. 4.


It is impossible to read the admirable account of Hannibal's campaign in the last volume of Arnold's History of Rome, without perceiving that this observation, as to the decisive effect of the Numidian cavalry upon the fortunes of the war, in first giving victory to the Carthaginians when they were entirely on their side, and gradually, and at length decisively restoring it to that of the Romans, when they were won over to their eagles, is entirely well-founded. Napoleon was of the same opinion, and has repeatedly expressed it in various parts of his works. "Give me," said that great man, "the French infantry and the Mameluke horse, and I will conquer the world." It was his constant affirmation that cavalry, equally brave and skillfully led, should always, other things being equal, overthrow infantry; and that the contrary opinion which generally prevails, was owing to horse, considered as the sole strength of war during the feudal ages, having been unduly decried since the invention of fire-arms. All the world knows the immense use he made of his heavy cavalry in all his campaigns; how often, in circumstances the most critical, it chained victory to his standards; how nearly it re-established his affairs, and replaced the imperial crown upon his head on the field of Waterloo. How striking a proof of human sagacity that the philosophic sage, in the early part of the seventeenth century, should have divined a truth which the researches of the historian and the exploits of the conqueror were to confirm in the middle of the eighteenth!

"Those who are governed by a king," says Montesquieu, "are less tormented by envy and jealousy, than those who live under an hereditary aristocracy. The prince is so far distant from his subjects, that he is rarely seen by them; he is so far above them that nothing in his situation can mortify his self-love. But the nobles who govern in an aristocracy are under the eyes of all, and they are not so elevated, but that odious comparisons are made without ceasing. Thus in all ages we have seen the people detest their senators, though they frequently love their king. Republics, where birth confers no title to power, are in that respect in a better situation than aristocracies; for the people feel less jealousy of an authority which they give to whom they please, and take from whom they incline."—C. 8.


How many confirmations of this remark have the history of France during the Revolution, and of England during the Reform mania afforded! And this affords an illustration of a truth, which, the more history is studied, will be rendered more apparent, viz., that the principles which lie at the bottom of the greatest changes in the political world, and produce the most devastating evils to society, are in reality the same which we see acting every day around us in common life. In the jealousies of the tea-table, the animosities of the market-place, the envy of trade, we may see the passions working, which, infused into a whole people, tear society in pieces. It is only supposing the same malevolent or selfish desires working in every breast, directed against one object, and rendered irresistible from that very multiplication, and we have the envy of the coterie transformed into the fury of revolution. Whoever will closely observe the working of that mainspring of human actions—selfishness—on the society, whether in a village, a city, a country, or a metropolis in which he resides, will have no difficulty in discerning the real but secret, and therefore unobserved spring of the greatest changes that ever occur in the political and social world. Voltaire said the factions at Geneva were storms in a teacup; if any man will study the motion of water in a teacup, he will be at no loss to understand the hurricanes of the Atlantic.

On the division of the Roman[Pg 405] people into centuries and tribes, which was the cardinal point of their constitution, Montesquieu makes the following important observation:—

"Servius Tullius was the author of the famous division of the people into centuries, which Livy and Dionysius Halicarnassus have so well described. He distributed an hundred and ninety-three centuries into six classes, and put the whole lower people into the last century, which singly formed the sixth class. It is easy to see that that arrangement virtually excluded the lower classes from the suffrage, not de jure, but de facto. Subsequently it was agreed, that except in some particular cases they should, in voting, follow the division into tribes. There were thirty-five of these tribes who gave each their vote: four were from the city, thirty-one from the country. The principal citizens, being all rural proprietors, were naturally classed in the country tribes: the lower people were all massed together in the four urban ones. This circumstance was regarded, and with reason, as the salvation of the republic. Appius Claudius had distributed the lower people among the whole tribes, but Fabius classed then again in the four urban ones, and thence acquired the surname of 'Maximus.' The Censors very five years took a survey of the citizens, and distributed the people in the tribes to which they legally belonged; so that the ambitious could not render themselves masters of their suffrages, nor the people abuse their own power."—C. 8.


The Romans had good reason for styling Fabius "Maximus," who discovered this way of preventing the lower classes, by their number, from acquiring an overwhelming superiority in the government of the state. He achieved as great a good for his country by so doing, as by baffling Hannibal after the battle of Cannæ. But for that circumstance the Roman constitution would have become, after the change of Appius Claudius, a mere prototype of the American democracy; a government constantly swayed by a numerical majority of the lowest class of citizens. There can be no doubt that the matter at issue, in this question, is the most material which can engage the attention of political philosophers and statesmen in a free country, and that, on its determination, its ultimate fate is entirely dependant. So great is the number of the working-classes in every old and opulent community, compared to those who possess the advantages of property and superior education, that nothing is more certain than that, if the elective franchise be widely diffused, and no mode of classifying the votes, as at Rome, has been discovered, the sway of a numerical majority of incompetent electors will, erelong, become irresistible. Certain ruin then awaits the state. It was that which ruined Athens in ancient, which has destroyed Poland in modern times, and is fast undermining the foundations of the social union in America. The Roman method of giving every citizen a vote, but classifying them in such a way that the paramount influence of a mere numerical majority was prevented, and the practical direction of affairs was thrown into the hands of the better class of citizens, though not free from objection, is the most perfect method of combining universal suffrage in the citizens, with the real direction of affairs by those fitted to conduct them, which the wit of man has ever divined.

In truth, it deserves consideration by those who think on human affairs, and the probable form of government which may be expected to prevail in future among men, whether universal suffrage is the real evil to be dreaded; and whether equality of suffrage is not the real poison which destroys society. Abstractly considered, there is much justice in the plea so constantly advanced by the working-classes, that being members of the community, and contributing to its support or opulence by their labour, they are entitled to a certain voice in the direction of its affairs. If no one has a voice at all but the sovereign, as in a despotism, or no one except a few magnates, as in an aristocracy, the humbler classes cannot complain at least of inconsistency, whatever they may of injustice, if they are excluded. But if a vast body of electors, as in Great Britain, are admitted, and still the great bulk of the working-classes are excluded, it is not easy to see on what principle the exclusion of some[Pg 406] can be rendered consistent with the admission of others. It deserves consideration whether the true principle would not be to give every able-bodied working man, major and not receiving parochial relief, a vote, but a vote of much less weight than his superiors in intelligence, property, or station. This might be done either as the Romans did, by making the votes be taken by centuries, and classing all the votes of the poorer electors in a limited number of centuries, or giving each man a personal vote, and giving the holders of property, in addition, more votes for their property; as one for every pound of direct taxes paid. Louis XVI. proposed a plan of this sort to Turgot before the Revolution; but that minister, deeply embued with the principles of democracy, rejected it; and Neckar, following out his views, practically established universal suffrage. Possibly the plan, if adopted and honestly carried into execution, might have prevented the whole calamities of the Revolution.

Of the dangers of such a multiplication of votes, without any restriction, Roman history affords a memorable example.

"Rome," says Montesquieu, "had conquered the world with the aid of the Italian cities, and, in return, she had communicated to them a great variety of privileges. At first they cared little for these advantages; but when the rights of Roman citizenship was that of universal empire, when no one was any thing in the world if he was not a Roman citizen, and with that little he was every thing, the Italian people resolved to perish or acquire that envied distinction. Being unable to attain this object by prayers and remonstrances, they had recourse to arms: the whole allies on the Eastern coast of the Peninsula revolted, those on the Western side were about to follow their example. Rome, obliged to combat as it were the hands by which it had conquered the world, was lost; it was about to be reduced to its walls, when it extricated itself from the difficulty by extending the privilege to the allies who had remained faithful, and shortly after to the whole.

"From that moment Rome ceased to be a city of which the people had the same spirit, the same interest, the same love of freedom, the same reverence for the Senate. The people of Italy having become citizens, every town brought thither its dispositions, its separate interests, its dependence on some neighbouring protector. The city, torn with divisions, formed no longer a whole; and as the vast majority of the citizens were so only by a species of fiction, had neither the same magistrates, the same walls, the same temples, the same gods, nor the same places of sepulture, Rome was no longer seen with the same eyes; the undivided love of country was gone; Rome was no more. The inhabitants of whole provinces and cities were brought up to the capital to give their suffrages, or compel others to give them; the popular assemblies degenerated into vast conspiracies, a troop or seditious band usurped the sacred name of Comitia; the authority of the people, their laws, even themselves, became a mere chimera; and the anarchy rose to such a point that it became impossible to tell whether the people had made an ordinance, or had not. Writers are never tired of descanting on the divisions which ruined Rome; but they have not seen that those divisions always existed, and ever must exist in a free community. It was solely the greatness of the republic which was the cause of the evil, by changing popular tumults into civil wars. Faction was unavoidable in Rome; its warriors, so fierce, so proud, so terrible abroad, would not be moderate at home. To expect in a free state men at once bold in war, and timid in peace, is to look for an impossibility. It may be assumed as a fixed principle, that wherever you see every one tranquil in a state which bears the name of a republic, liberty there has been long since extinct."—C. 9.


The representative system has saved Great Britain and America from these terrible popular comitia, in which, as Montesquieu has truly said, the mobs of the people became the convulsions of an empire; and which tore in pieces Poland in modern, as it had done Rome in ancient times. But does not the real evil exist, despite this liberation from the actual tumult, in the representative government of a great empire, as much as in the stormy comitia[Pg 407] of an overgrown republic? It is not the mere strife in the streets, and shedding of blood in civil warfare, bad as it is, and truly as the "bellum plusquam civile" exceeds all others in horror, which is the only evil. The separation of interests, the disregard of common objects in the struggle for individual elevation, the tyranny of one class by another class, is the thing which really dissolves the national bonds in every wide-spread and free community. We see this source of discord operating with as much force in the divided representation of great popular states, as in the bloody contests of the Roman forum or the plain of Volo in Poland. The nullification of South Carolina, the obnoxious tariff of America, the fierce demands for the repeal of the union in Ireland, the sacrifice of agricultural and producing, to commercial and monied interests in Great Britain, prove that these evils are in full operation among ourselves, as well as our descendants on the other side of the Atlantic. There is a confusion of tongues, and separation of mankind from the undue amalgamation of interests, as well as individuals. Providence has a sure way to punish the selfishness and presumption of men who seek to build up a Babel of human construction; and that is to leave them to the consequences of their own extravagance.

The style of Montesquieu may be judged from the extracts, few and imperfect as they are, given in the preceding pages. It is not vehement, eloquent, or forcible; but condensed, nervous, and epigrammatic. No writer has furnished to succeeding times so many brilliant passages to quote; but there are many who can be read en suite with more satisfaction. This is not unfrequently the case with writers on philosophical subjects of the highest class of intellect; and it arises from the variety and originality of their ideas. The mind of the reader is fatigued by following out the multitude of thoughts which their works engender. At the close of every paragraph almost, you involuntarily close the book, to reflect on the subjects of meditation which it has presented. The same peculiarity may be remarked in the annals of Tacitus, the essays of Bacon, the poetry of Milton, the Inferno of Dante, the Discorsi of Machiavel. In the habit of expansion which has arisen in more recent times from the multiplication of books, the profits made by writing, and the necessity of satisfying the craving of a voracious public for something new, is to be found the cause of the remarkable difference in the modes of composition which has since become prevalent. When men write for the monthly or quarterly press, there is no time to be condensed or profound. What has been gained, however, in animation and fervour, has too often been lost in thought; and it may be doubted whether, among the many writers of the present day, whether in Great Britain or the Continent, there is one whose works, a century hence, will be deemed to contain as much of original and valuable ideas as even the preceding sketch, imperfect as it is, has presented in Montesquieu.

[Pg 408]


By Delta.

"Life is a dream, whose seeming truth
Is moralized in age and youth;
When all the comforts man can share
As wandering as his fancies are:
Till in a mist of dark decay
The dreamer vanish quite away."

Bishop King.


'Twas a blithe morning in the aureate month
Of July, when, in pride of summer power,
The sun enliven'd nature: dew-besprent,
A wilderness of flowers their scent exhaled
Into the soft, warm zephyr; early a-foot,
On public roads, and by each hedge-way path,
From the far North, and from Hybernia's strand,
With vestures many-hued, and ceaseless chat,
The reapers to the coming harvest plied—
Father and mother, stripling and young child,
On back or shoulder borne. I trode again
A scene of youth, bright in its natural lines
Even to a stranger's eyes when first time seen,
But sanctified to mine by many a fond
And faithful recognition. O'er the Esk,
Swoln by nocturnal showers, the hawthorn hung
Its garland of green berries, and the bramble
Trail'd 'mid the camomile its ripening fruit.
Most lovely was the verdure of the hills—
A rich luxuriant green, o'er which the sky
Of blue, translucent, clear without a cloud,
Outspread its arching amplitude serene.
With many a gush of music, from each brake
Sang forth the choral linnets; and the lark,
Ascending from the clover field, by fits
Soar'd as it sang, and dwindled from the sight.
'Mid the tall meadow grass the ox reclined,
Or bent his knee, or from beneath the shade
Of the broad beech, with ruminant mouth, gazed forth.
Rustling with wealth, a tissue of fair fields,
Outstretch'd to left and right in luxury;
And the fir forests on the upland slopes
Contrasted darkly with the golden grain.


Pensively by the river's bank I stray'd—
Now gazing on the corn-fields ripe and rich;
Now listening to the carol of the birds
From bush and brake, that with mellifluous notes
Fill'd the wide air; and now in mournful thought—
That yet was full of pleasure—running through
The mazy past. I know not how it was,
But from the sounds—the season—and the scene—
Soften'd my heart; and, as the swallow wings
In autumn back to softer sunnier climes—
When summer, like a bright fallacious dream,
[Pg 409]Hath with its flowers and fragrance pass'd away—
So, from the turmoil of maturer years,
In boyish thoughts my spirit sought relief.


Embathed in beauty pass'd before my sight,
Like blossoms that with sunlight shut and ope,
The half-lost dreams of many a holiday,
In boyhood spent on that blue river side
With those whose names, even now, as alien sounds
Ring in the ear, though then our cordial arms
Enwreathed each other's necks, while on we roam'd,
Singing or silent, pranksome, never at rest,
As life were but a jocund pilgrimage,
Whose pleasant wanderings found a goal in heaven.
But when I reach'd a winding of the stream,
By hazels overarch'd, whose swollen nuts
Hung in rich clusters, from his marginal bank
Of yellow sand, ribb'd by receding waves,
I scared the ousel, that, like elfin sprite,
Amid the water-lilies lithe and green,
Zig-zagg'd from stone to stone; and, turning round
The sudden jut, reveal'd before me stood,
Silent, within that solitary place—
In that green solitude so calm and deep—
An aged angler, plying wistfully,
Amid o'erhanging banks and shelvy rocks,
Far from the bustle and the din of men,
His sinless pastime. Silver were his locks,
His figure lank; his dark eye, like a hawk's,
Glisten'd beneath his hat of whitest straw,
Lightsome of wear, with flies and gut begirt:
The osier creel, athwart his shoulders slung,
Became full well his coat of velveteen,
Square-tail'd, four-pocket'd, and worn for years,
As told by weather stains. His quarter-boots,
Lash'd with stout leather thongs, and ankles bare,
Spoke the adept—and of full many a day,
Through many a changeable and checquer'd year,
By mountain torrent, or smooth meadow stream,
To that calm sport devoted. O'er him spread
A tall, broad sycamore; and, at his feet,
Amid the yellow ragwort, rough and high,
An undisturbing spaniel lay, whose lids,
Half-opening, told his master my approach.


I turn'd away, I could not bear to gaze
On that grey angler with his rod and line;
I turn'd away—for to my heart the sight
Brought back, from out the twilight labyrinth
Of bypast things, the memory of a day,
So sever'd from the present by the lapse
Of many a motley'd, life-destroying year,
That on my thoughts the recognition came
Faintly at first—as breaks the timid dawn
Above the sea, or evening's earliest star
Through the pavilion of the twilight dim—
Faintly at first—then kindling to the glow
Of that refulgent sunshine, only known
To boyhood's careless and unclouded hours.
[Pg 410]


Even yet I feel around my heart the flush
Of that calm, windless morning, glorified
With summer sunshine brilliant and intense!
A tiny boy, scarcely ten summers old,
Along blue Esk, under the whispering trees,
And by the crumbling banks, daisy-o'ergrown,
A cloudless, livelong day I trode with one
Whose soul was in his pastime, and whose skill
Upon its shores that day no equal saw:—
O'er my small shoulders was the wicker creel
Slung proudly, and the net whose meshes held
The minnow, from the shallows deftly raised.
Hour after hour augmenting our success,
Turn'd what was pleasure first, to pleasant toil,
Lent languor to my loitering steps, and gave
Red to the cheek, and dew-damp to the brow:
It was a day that cannot be forgot—
A jubilee in childhood's calendar—
A green hill-top seen o'er the billowy waste
Of dim oblivion's flood:—and so it is,
That on my morning couch—what time the sun
Tinges the honeysuckle flowers with gold,
That cluster round the porch—and in the calm
Of evening meditation, when the past
Spontaneously unfolds the treasuries
Of half-forgotten and fragmental things,
To memory's ceaseless roamings—it comes back,
Fragrant and fresh, as if 'twere yesterday.
From morn till noon, his light assiduous toil
The angler plied; and when the mid-day sun
Was high in heaven, under a spreading tree,
(Methinks I hear the hum amid its leaves!)
Upon a couch of wild-flowers, down we sat
With healthful palates to our slight repast
Of biscuits, and of cheese, and bottled milk;
The sward our table, and the boughs our roof:
And oh! in banquet hall, where richest cates
Luxurious woo the pamper'd appetite,
Never did viands proffer such delight,
To Sybarite upon his silken couch,
As did to us our simple fair that day.


Bright shone the afternoon, say rather burn'd,
In floods of molten gold, with all its rich
Array of blossoms by that river's side—
Wild camomile, and lychnis in whose cups
The bee delights to murmur, harebells blue,
And violets breathing fragrance; nor remote
The aureate furze, that to the west-winds sigh,
Lent its peculiar perfume blandly soft.
At times we near'd the wild-duck and her brood
In the far angle of some dim-seen pool,
Silent and sable, underneath the boughs
Of low hung willow; and, at times, the bleat
Of a stray lamb would bid us raise our eyes
To where it stood above us on the rock,
[Pg 411]Knee-deep amid the broom—a sportive elf.
Enshrined in recollection—sleep those hours
So brilliant and so beautiful—the scene
So full of pastoral loveliness—the heart
With pleasure overflowing—and the sky
Pavilion'd over all, an arch of peace—
God with his fair creation reconciled:
And oh! to be forgotten only with
The last fond thoughts of memory, I behold
That grand and gorgeous evening, in whose blaze
Homeward with laden paniers we return'd.
Through the green woods outshot the level rays
Of flooding sunlight, tinging the hoar bark
Of the old pine-trees, and in crimson dyes
Bathing the waste of flowers that sprang beneath;
It was an hour of Paradise restored—
Eden forth mirror'd to the view again,
As yet ere Happiness forsook its bowers,
Or sinless creatures own'd the sway of death.
All was repose—and peace—and harmony;
The flocks upon the soft knolls resting lay,
Or straying nibbled at the pastures green;
Up from its clovery lurking-place, the hare
Arose; the pheasant from the coppice stray'd;
The cony from its hole disporting leapt;
The cattle in the bloomy meadows lay
Ruminant; the shy foal scarcely swerved aside
At our approach from under the tall tree
Of his delight, shaking his forelocks long
In wanton play; while, overhead, his hymn,
As 'twere to herald the approach of night,
With all her gathering stars, the blackbird sang
Melodiously, mellifluously, and Earth
Look'd up, reflecting back the smiles of Heaven!
For Innocence, o'er hill and dale again
Seem'd to have spread her mantle, and the voice
Of all but joy in grove and glade was hush'd.


Thro' the deep glen of Roslin—where arise
Proud castle and chapelle of high St Clair,
And Scotland's prowess speaking—we had traced
The mazy Esk by cavern'd Hawthornden,
Perch'd like an eagle's nest upon the cliffs,
And eloquent for aye with Drummond's song—
Through Melville's flowery glades—and down the park
Of fair Dalkeith, scaring the antler'd deer
'Neath the huge oaks of Morton and of Monk,
Whispering, as stir their boughs the midnight winds.
These left behind, with purpling evening, now
We stood beside St Michael's holy fane,
With its nine centuries of gravestones girt;
And, from the slopes of Inveresk, gazed down
Upon the Frith of Forth, whose waveless tide
Glow'd like a plain of fire. In majesty,
O'ercanopied with many-vestured clouds,
The mighty sun, low in the farthest west,
With orb dilated, o'er the Grampian chain,
Mountain up-piled on mountain, huge and blue,
Was shedding his last rays, adorn'd the shores
[Pg 412]Of Fife, with all its towns, and woods, and fields,
And bathing Ben-Ean and Ben-Ledi's peaks
In hues of amethyst. Ray after ray,
From the twin Lomond's conic heights declined,
And died away the glory; and, at length,
As sank the last, low horizontal beams,
And Twilight drew her azure curtains round,
From out the south, twinkled the Evening star!


Since then full often hath the snow-drop shown
Its early flower—hath summer waved its corn—
Hath autumn shed its leaves—and Arctic gales
Brought wintry desolation on their wings!
When Memory ponders on that boyish scene,
Broken seems almost every tie that links
That day to this—and to the child the man:
The world is alter'd quite in all its thoughts—
In all its works and ways—its sights and sounds—
With the same name it is another sphere,
And by another race inhabited.
The old familiar dwellings, with their trees
Coeval, mouldering wall, and dovecot rent—
The old familiar faces from the streets,
One after one, have now all disappear'd,
And sober sires are they who then were sons,
Giddy and gay:—a generation new
Dwells where they dwelt—whose tongues are silent quite—
Whose bodily forms are reminiscences
Fading:—the leaden talisman of Truth
Hath disenchanted of its rainbow hues
The sky, and robb'd the fields of half their bloom.
I start, to conjure from the gulf of death
The myriads that have gone to come no more:—
And where is he, the Angler, by whose side
That livelong day delightedly I roam'd,
While life to both a sunny pastime seem'd?
Ask of the winds that from the Atlantic blow,
When last they stirr'd the wild-flowers on his grave!

[Pg 413]


The writings of enthusiasts, however dry the subjects upon which they employ their pens, have always some power of fascination. Many a one who has never hooked a fish, has found delight in Isaac Walton. He is still the pleasant companion by river and brooklet, and the cause why,

"He that has fishing loved should fish the more,
And he should fish who never fish'd before."

But then the subject is the loveliest of arts, Painting—embracing as it does the beautiful, the great, and the pathetic, whatever charms the eye and moves the heart—we are sensible of more than common pleasure, and become soothed into dreams and visions of our own, even by the gentle garrulity of a connoisseur. Is there any one who pretends to acquaintance with literature, however uninitiated he may be in the mysteries of the arts, who has not read the Discourses of Sir Joshua Reynolds, and who has not wished, after reading them, to be enabled to say, "anche io son pittore?" When we are told of picture galleries with their thousand works of art, and are warmed by the descriptions, feeble though they must be, of many of them, we seem to be suddenly led by a lamp of more magical power than Aladdin's; for what was his gallery of fruit-trees bearing, precious stones, to a gallery rich in pictures, the still brighter fruits of genius, presenting endless variety, each one almost a world in itself, and all, enticing the imagination into regions unbounded, of charm and loveliness, suggested, though not made visible, but to the mind's eye? We remember in our school days giving Virgil credit for much tact in endeavouring to make a gentleman of Æneas, and succeeding too for a while in raising the more than equivocal character of his hero, by placing him in the picture-gallery of the Queen of Carthage, and giving him leisure to contemplate and to criticise, and poetically to describe to his silent and spiritless lounger-friend many noble and many touching works. In this passage we also obtain the great Latin poet's opinion of the ameliorating effect of "collections." The hero of the Æneid knew immediately he was among an amiable people. The picture-gallery was the "nova res oblata" which "timorem leniit"—

"Hic primum Æneas sperare salutem
Ausus, et afflictis melius confidere rebus;

It is singular that all the courts of Europe have, for more than two centuries, been earnestly engaged in forming public galleries, a national benefit and honour which England had neglected with her great wealth, and with opportunities singularly favourable, until within a few years; and even now we are making but very slow progress, and works of art of the olden and golden time are becoming more rare, and immensely rising in value. Had we, as a nation, collected even fifty years ago—speaking of the transactions as a money speculation, in which view, according to the taste of the day, we must look at every thing—our purchases would now have been worth treble the first cost in money. The unhappy fate of Charles I. was most adverse to the arts here. It not only scattered the collection made by him, but, by the triumph of Puritanism, plunged the country first into a dislike of, and, for long subsequent periods, into an indifference for art. We even doubt if this gross feeling has altogether subsided. We do not yet take a national pride in works of genius, unless they immediately bear upon the art of living. No country is so rich as ours in private, and none so poor in public collections. And if we progress so slowly in our National Gallery, we can scarcely wonder that public institutions of the kind have not been dreamed of in the provinces. We sincerely hope that the movement Mr Ewart is making will be crowned with success, and that in time "collections" in our cities and towns will be the result.

The Musée of Paris, in 1844, contained upwards of fifteen hundred pictures. According to the catalogue compiled in 1781, the Imperial Gallery[Pg 414] of Vienna then contained twelve hundred and thirty-four. According to the catalogue of 1839, the Dresden gallery contained eighteen hundred and fifty-seven. At Munich, the present king has erected a spacious building, into which he has draughted a selection, from among several thousands, of about fifteen hundred. And what have we done to improve the national taste? And strange, indeed, does it appear, that whenever such a subject is brought before the public mind in Parliament, it is solely with a view to the connexion of art with manufactures. There must be in the nature of things a certain connexion; but unnecessarily to bind them in union is to bind then unnaturally, and to put the shackles upon the higher, which cannot bear them without degradation. We hail with great pleasure every publication whose object is to promote a love for the fine arts; and more particularly those which show a due reverence for the old masters; for, however unwilling we may be to limit the power of genius, no one who has any pretensions to taste, and is of a cultivated mind, will deny that, if their works are not perfection, they are at least in a right direction. The novelties which more modern art has sought will pass away, we are persuaded, as not founded upon true principles, and we shall best advance by properly appreciating what has been done before us. We will not here enter into the subject of the décadence of art, nor its causes. We believe that if adequate national and provincial galleries were formed, more especially at our universities, the improved public taste would create a demand which this country would not lack genius to supply. We are not in the exact condition of Italy at the sudden rise of art there. The public, in the days of Raffaelle and Michael Angelo, had nothing, or but little to unlearn; the previous aim had fortunately not been very multifarious; the sentiment of art was right, and the direction true. It remained only to enlarge the sphere; the principles were in being; they required but confirmation. Grace and power naturally arose; for there was no counteracting education, nothing positively bad altogether to lay aside, though there was something to correct. Now with us, on the contrary, art has run into very strange vagaries; the enlargement of the boundaries has been unlimited, but it has been in regions far below the Parnassian Mount. We have talked of the High Ideal, and practised and encouraged ad infinitum the Low Natural, and too often have descended to the worse, the Low Unnatural; so that, upon the whole, we have to unlearn very much before we can be said to be in the rudiments of Real Art. Let us suppose one born with every natural endowment, with imagination, and a power of imitation. The mind, after all, is fed with realities; there is in it also process of digestion, which converts the real into the imaginative. Now, in early years, how rare it is that the naturally endowed artist is not ill fed—unhealthy diet of the mind entices him every where. If in the country, he is sparingly fed—sees little or nothing of Art, little perhaps beyond the Sign of an Inn—and is scarcely, from other sources of education, taught to look with the mind's eye, through the undignified appearance, to the actual dignity even of the nature he sees:—if he has lived in the city, the Print shops are inevitable lures to cheat him by little and little out of his natural taste, if there be one; for at first it can be but a mere germ. The works of greatness, of goodness, will be the last things that he will see; for seldom indeed will they be presented to his sight. For the pure, the sweet, the graceful, the dignified, he will have thrust before his eyes gaudy, tawdry caricature and grimace; and, worse still, perhaps wholly vulgar obscenities. Were he in his boyhood given a present in the pictorial line, it would be of an Opera-dancer or a race-course, or an abomination of London low life. What "slang" is to the ear, so would it be to the eye; and such is in nine cases out of ten the first education of those aspirants in art, who, ere they have unlearned any thing, set up for themselves—and abuse the old masters. Generally speaking, they are brought up in an anti-ideal school; the powers, therefore, that nature has given them, are not only uncultivated, but led astray; and similar education and[Pg 415] similar tastes in the public, find them a market for very low, very worthless commodities. We have, in fact, a great deal to unlearn. The first step with us all, is, to unlearn. Could we see nothing bad it would not be so. That which would, at first view, be thought the greatest benefit to art, engraving, has but spread the wider the pestilence of false taste. It is from all this the earlier and greater painters were free. The evil, however, having once so spread, is not to be easily corrected. Bad taste has claimed a perpetuity of copyright. Good taste must proceed from an opposite source, and work in spite of the bad. It must come from publications, just criticisms, lives of painters,[4] familiar treatises on the principles of art; and more especially from national and other public galleries, to direct attention, and indeed to create a demand for those other auxiliary works. People will seek to understand and feel that which is continually put before them. Could they never see any but fine productions, they would soon have a relish for them that now is impossible; but by little and little, the sight of what is good will create a liking, and the liking will soon reach an adoration, and the unlearning process is imperceptibly going on. Corrupted as our eyes now are, we would venture to assert, that were you to offer, either in prints or originals, to boys of fourth and fifth forms at our public schools, in one hand a vile and gaudy horse and jockey, and in the other a pure and lovely picture by Raffaelle, the former would be taken. Here is a lamentable neglect in education; the ear must suffer the probing and the torture of metres and verse-making, but the eye is left unguarded, unprotected, to shift for itself, or to yield to the fascinations the first pander of evil chooses to offer. The school-boy might be improved at the universities; but there, too, is the same neglect. In our time, it was a rare thing to see a "man's" room without many engravings; and that sufficiently shows how much a school of art is wanted in those places, and what a hold they would have upon youth. But we cannot say much for the taste of the productions, that generally we will not say graced the walls. We had hoped that the Taylor bequest would have established at Oxford, not only a picture gallery, but a professorship of Painting and Sculpture. A large Building has been erected; and we have heard of an intention to remove to it some rubbish called pictures. If that threat be accomplished, we shall despair of seeing them removed to give place to better things. The majority will be satisfied with seeing walls covered, and look no further. We have heard likewise that some very valuable pictures have been offered upon very favourable terms to the university. If there be amongst any an intention of forming a gallery, we would urge them to use their best endeavours to make as soon as may be a beginning. For every succeeding year not only increases the difficulty in obtaining the concurrence of influential persons, but the annually rising value of pictures makes delay an imprudence. Besides, if a beginning were once made—were it once shown that the universities are in earnest—valuable bequests might greatly promote the great object. And this is an advantage that admits not of being put off to the morrow.

We have digressed from our purpose, which was to acknowledge the pleasure we have received from the pages of M. de Burtin's work; or we should rather say, from Mr White's translation. We have been some years acquainted with the original work in French. Its value in its present form is not lessened by the number of years that have passed between[Pg 416] the original French edition and the translation; for general remarks on art are of all times, and there is much in the particular information the volume contains, such as lists of prices, and some other matters, from which useful comparisons may be now made.

The author very modestly, in his introduction, professes not to write "for artists nor accomplished connoisseurs;" yet to such, we believe, the volume, in its compressed form, will be of most value. He has the honesty to confess that he has learned his connoisseurship at some cost—that he has been victimized into a knowledge of art. And as this is generally the case with most collectors in the beginning, and not unfrequently in the end too, he thinks he may be of some use to others in showing "how to judge pictures well"—"what is a good picture;" and not of the least value, how to use it when you have it. His qualification as teacher cannot be denied; for he has not only collected, but travelled much, visited all the important collections, and by comparing picture with picture, and style with style, he has been enabled to speak with accuracy upon the distinguishing marks of schools and masters. A universal admiration, a love that will embrace all schools and all styles, is of very rare attainment, and perhaps hardly to be desired; for every man of any strength, of any fixed tone of character, must necessarily have a bias. And besides, one man naturally receives more powerfully impressions through form, another through colour. It is not inconsistent that a perfect connoisseur should be equally affected by both; but the mind is not allowed the same latitude with regard to subject; the passion will ever be for that which is congenial; whatever is foreign to it will receive but a cold and passing admiration. We should collect from the whole contents of this volume, that the author was never an enthusiastic admirer of what is termed high Italian art. He seldom dwells upon "the sublime and beautiful." Gifted rather with a complacent acquiescence in what is great, than stirred by it to any heat of rapture, it is probable that at least the sphere of his pleasures was enlarged; and his nice sense of the beauty, touch, and colour, rendered pictures, of subjects of little interest, more pleasing to him, than they could be to the connoisseur of more exclusive taste. His predilection is, however, for Colour; and we agree with him, "that without the science of colouring, that so difficult science, about which the exclusive partisans of ideal beauty trouble themselves so little, their antiques and their ideal perfection may produce designs, but never can pictures."

Two definitions are laid down, which, as frequent reference is made to them, we copy. Definition of painting—"The art of applying colours, without relief, upon a plain surface, so as to imitate any object in the manner in which it is seen, or may be conceived visible in nature." "A good picture" he defines to be, "a good choice of subject well represented." If we knew precisely what is here meant by "nature," a word used by all writers on art in very various senses, and commonly very vaguely, we might not find fault with the definition; but genius, which has

"Exhausted worlds, and then imagined new,"

is not too strictly to be limited to the actualities of external nature. It is the nature of the mind, under certain impulses and impressions, to exaggerate, to combine from memory, not from sight, even to the verge of the impossible; for even this extravagance is the product of human passion, which by its nature disdains common boundaries; and this, in painting, is especially the province of Colour, which may be said to be the poetical language of art, and admits differences of the same kind as exist between common speech and poetical and figurative diction.

The painter as well as poet may colour somewhat highly,

"And breathe a browner horror o'er the woods."

Critics too often write of art as if it had only to do with what actually exists; whereas it is given to it as to poetry "to make," to create—all that is required is a certain connexion with the real, sometimes exceedingly slight,[Pg 417] which shall be sufficiently delusive for present purpose. The agile mind can pass over a deep and formidable chasm upon a slender thread; and when over, is too much occupied in the new region to turn back and measure the means of passage. We suspect our author's view of nature is too limited.

Upon "a good choice of subject" are some good remarks. Disgusting subjects are justly condemned. "It is evident that an animal, flayed or embowelled, entrails, meat raw or mangled, blood, excrements, death's-heads, carcasses, and similar objects, if they strike upon the view too much, will be as disgusting in a picture as they are in nature; and that grimaces, hideous or monstrous deformities, whether moral or physical, will be as shocking in the one as the other. Events which are sufficiently unnatural, barbarous, and cruel, to shake violently the soul, and cause it to tremble with insurmountable horror, create an agitation too frightful for it to resist, much less to be pleased with. Subjects of so bad a choice, (which Horace severely prohibits from being introduced upon the scene,) do little honour to the painter. They become even more insupportable in proportion as they approach nearer to reality by the perfection of their execution." The translator thinks his "author has stated this too broadly;" and instances, as pictures of this kind to be admired for their truth, The Lesson of Anatomy, by Rembrandt; Prometheus Devoured by the Vulture, by Salvator Rosa; Raising of Lazarus, by Sebastian del Piombo. Of the two first subjects, we think they are to be condemned, if, in the Prometheus, the enduring mind of Prometheus be not the subject. But surely the grand picture of Piombo, though it is all awful, has in it nothing disgusting, or that comes within the condemned list. The question to be asked in all these cases is, what is the object, as well as what is the subject. Is it to teach, to improve, to soften the mind by human love and sympathy, or to excite it to a just and hopeful indignation, for therein is a source of pleasure? The rule of tragedy should be applicable here. Undoubtedly, we receive pleasure from tragic representations. Isolated, barbarism, cruelty would be intolerably disgusting. But in every good tragedy, there are always good and lovely characters with whom we can sympathise. We are bettered by thus uniting ourselves with what is lovely; and are content to take at second-hand, and thus feel only in a safe degree, the distresses to which, as human nature ourselves, we are liable. In pictured representation, however, we have to guard against the too vivid, and at the same time too permanent, as being a fixed expression, which, by the art and power of language, we are not allowed to dwell upon too exclusively; and relief is offered in change and diversity. There are some very judicious remarks upon disgusting subjects in "An Essay on the Choice of Subjects in Painting," read, we believe, some years ago, by Mr Duncan, at the Institution at Bath. We remember an account in the Essay of a very ridiculous burlesque (it is not intended so to be) of some of the horrific legends of the Italian schools. The picture was exhibited in the chapel of Johanna Southcote, at Newington Butts, near London. St Johanna was represented in a sky-blue dress, leading the devil with a long chain, like a dancing-bear, surrounded by adoring angels. Is not this doubtful? "I add, that, excepting man, that King of Nature, whose head presents to a painter the subject that is most interesting for character, grace, dignity, and expression of the whole mind, of which it is the mirror, no animal, dead or alive, affords, in any one part of its frame, whatever care may be taken in the execution, more than a subject for a study, or will by any means form what can be called a picture." This surely is not quite true. There is a very fine picture of a lioness, dimly seen at the mouth of her den, in grim repose, that is very grand. One colour pervades the whole—there is nothing forced; but the very colour is of the stealthiness of the animal's nature; it is so dim, that the animal is not strikingly discoverable, but grows out upon the sight, and we feel the sense of danger with the knowledge of security. And surely this is the sublime of art. Had the author seen some of the noble animals, gifted with noble characters by nature, and by[Pg 418] the hand of our Landseer, he would have hesitated ere he pronounced thus strongly.

The choice of a subject is considered as belonging solely to invention, irrespective of composition or disposition. "The honour of inventing truly belongs to him whose imagination creates all, or almost all, of new." A distinction is made between composition and design: indeed, according to our author, there are three parts of invention—composition, disposition, and design. There is a repetition of the charge of disproportion in objects, brought against Raffaelle, to which we do not implicitly bow. He is considered as having "committed two striking faults against nature and lineal perspective, in his famous picture of the Transfiguration, by the ridiculous smallness of his Mount Tabor, and by the disproportionable size of the Christ and of the two Prophets." But we question if the mind, in that state of feeling in which it beholds a miraculous and altogether overwhelming subject, is not necessarily in a condition to overstep the actual rules of nature, and to receive a type of things for the reality, admitting the small to stand for the great. Were it conscious of very exact formal truth, the power of the subject would be reduced. Actual perspective would have, in Raffaelle's case, ruined the picture. There was that boldness of genius which Shakspeare, when the nature of the subject required it, adopted, which made the one, leap over time, and the other, space and proportion.

Under the head "disposition of the subject," there is a somewhat unsatisfactory sentence. "It contributes to the 'goodness' of the picture," "if it avoid uniformity and positions that are too symmetrical; if it distribute the light well; if by means of it the groups pyramid and unite well; and if it give value to all the parts of the picture by means of each other, in such a manner as that the result shall be a satisfactory whole." There is much here that is true; but there is something false. And that which is false in it, has often strangely misled artists in their arrangement and grouping. There are some subjects of a perfectly symmetrical character; however rare they may be, there are some. Raffaelle, in his cartoon of delivering the keys to Peter, paints, as nearly as may be, all the apostles' heads in one line. Is not the character of Gothic architecture symmetrical? Painters of architectural subjects very commonly overlook this, and by perspective difference destroy this orderly character. Few make the centre the point of sight; which is, however, the proper one for representation, as it alone shows the exact conformity and order, the idea of which it was the purpose of the architect to present, and which constitutes the beauty. The "pyramid" rule is manifestly absurd, and seldom has even a tolerably good effect. It was the quackery of a day.[5] The good masters did not work upon it. It is, in fact, a little truth taken out of a greater, and misapplied—a part of that circular character of composition, as it were a principle of reflection, by which lines close in upon or recede from each other. We have, in a former paper in this Magazine, treated of this principle—to dwell on it now would take us far from our purpose. As to the ability of all persons to judge of the naturalness of a picture, the translator doubts the correctness of the affirmative opinion of his author. He remarks, that "it requires considerable practice and experience to enable one to judge how much art can do; what is the exact medium between feebleness and exaggeration, which constitutes the all-surpassing quality of truth, of which he declares himself a partisan; and in what manner one painter differs from or excels another in the representation of it." It may also be observed, that people in general have uncultivated eyes, and see not the whole beauties of any one object; they are commonly quite[Pg 419] ignorant of ideal and sentimental beauty, almost wholly arising out of the power of art—the representing the imagination. It is when such persons are called upon to see nature in a picture, that they show how imperfect their sight has been. Seeing the representation in a frame, they know it to be a work of art, and generally object to shadow; whereas, could they see the picture placed at an open window or some deceiving position, they would be deceived. Many, knowing the intention is to deceive them, are ready armed with objections, which, however, they make because they have sought them, not because they have felt them. What we term local colour, is termed by M. de Burtin proper colour; local colour he considers as the colour made variable by space, by locality, air, light, and surrounding bodies. The distinction may be useful; but proper colour will itself be difficult to discover, for we never can see it entirely separated from some foreign influence. In a picture it would be perhaps best to consider that the proper colour which would be proper to the half-tone, whether modified by aerial perspective or not. He considers that proper colour is not shown mostly in objects in the foreground, for there the light which destroys it is most powerful; light destroys proper colour, and substitutes its own. "It is the perfect understanding of this interesting principle, which renders the works of Rubens, and of his best scholars, so superior for their magic truth of colour. It is this which explains why they make the colour of the blood to appear through the fine and transparent skin of their Flemings, particularly of the women, only in proportion as the effect of the light is lost in the retiring parts; and why the red prevails more in these parts in general, which are illuminated only by a reflected light too feeble to change the natural colour. The latter may often be even strengthened by the colour of the object from which the reflected light proceeds, which happens when one flesh part is reflected upon another, as may be remarked more particularly towards the extremities."

The following quotation is well worth considering—the observation it contains is new. "As to the influence of light upon the local colours, one of the plainest proofs of it is, that the colour of objects seen in broad day, diminishes in force the more that the sun enlightens the distant plain on which they are placed. This observation, and many other analogous ones, convince me that the light in a picture in general exerts a greater influence upon the local colours than even the air, although those who have written upon the art seem to attribute the local colours exclusively to the interposition of the air and the vapours with which it is charged. The above remark, though useful to all painters, becomes the more indispensable to those who have to do with landscape, seeing that without attention to it, the aerial perspective would render useless, by a false and mannered representation, the just proportions and the exact contours dictated by linear perspective. Another remark, not less interesting, is, that the colour of cast shadows depends, beyond every thing, on that of the light, and consequently on the state of the atmosphere and the time of the day, as well as the season of the year." Hence is it that the brown shadows of art, which are adopted for the sake of warm, are, in good painters such as Vandyke, always blended with the silvery grey.

"Of the general tone of colour."—This part of the subject is treated rather with regard to strict observation of nature, than its poetical applicability to art. For surely there is a distinction; there should be a tone of colour belonging to the subject, irrespective of the actual colour of place or time of day, properly belonging to the action represented. It is well observed, that the argentine or silvery tone so much admired and sought after by amateurs, "is nothing but the faithful imitation of the tone assumed by nature in countries where the rays of the sun are not too perpendicular, every time that the air is in that state of transparency required to temper to the necessary degree the too brilliant blue of a pure sky, and itself to receive and transmit this desirable silvery tone which delights the spectator." By this it would appear that our artists' dreams of countries, alio sub sole, are not likely to bring beauty of[Pg 420] colour to their pictures—that the fables of Eastern skies are, with regard to art, fables; and though there is now always an attempt, and that by no mean powers, to drag the spectators at our exhibitions under the very chariot of the sun, "sub curru nimium propinqui solis," real beauty of colour will be found much nearer home.

We are somewhat surprised by, as it would appear from the general observations of De Burtin, an accidental truth which he has not elsewhere followed to its consequences. "If pictures offend against nature, and become cold by the employment of cold colours upon them, such as black, white, blue, and green, either pure or bluish, and by the omission of the glazings which the tone of the light requires, or if they become so from the natural coldness of night and of snow, not remedied by art, the painter ought to correct the fault in the manner I have previously hinted at." In the following remark, we can see the great defect in the colouring of Murillo's pictures, especially in his backgrounds, who appears always to have painted on a wet and dingy day. "But nothing can correct the cold of a sky concealed by the kind of clouds last mentioned, or rendered totally invisible by mist." He rescues the clear-obscure from the meaning commonly attached to it as light and shade. "In the literal sense, this word means nothing but the obscure which is at the same time clear." It should rather be defined to be light in shadow; but it will be difficult to establish any other sense for it than the disposition of the light and shade in a picture. The inventor of it, for practical use, was Leonardo da Vinci. Of this chiaroscuro he says: "It is this, in fine, against which so many renowned Italian masters have sinned, but in which the immortal Correggio is so eminently distinguished, and which proves how they err who have named Titian the prince of colourists. For how much soever he may possess in a supreme degree very many other parts of colouring, he has so misunderstood this one in his general harmony, that his grounds are rarely in agreement with the rest of his picture, and are often all black. His Venus, in the Dresden gallery, and his Ecce Homo, in that of Vienna, two of his most renowned pictures but especially the latter, present striking proofs, among very many others, of the correctness of my opinion on this great colourist."

Those who object, as some venture to do, to Titian's colour, especially in his backgrounds, we believe overlook his intention, and are not aware how much what they consider defects affect the whole. Objections have been made to the background of the Peter Martyr, without considering how appropriate the colouring is to the subject. There are some just observations on the necessity of transparency, which should not be confined to shadows and demi-tints, "which cannot do without it." It has been said that Titian and Correggio glazed over every part of the picture, thereby giving even the lights a sort of transparency. Of harmony of colour, he says, "Under the pencil of an intelligent artist, local colours, even the least agreeable, and those which have the least affinity among themselves, may become very agreeable to the eye, and contribute powerfully to the harmony of the picture through the interposition of some other colour, as in music discordant tones are happily united by means of intermediate ones." The translator appends to this a note in which he quotes from Mengs, that "The three primary colours being red, blue, and yellow, when any one of them is prominently used, it should be accompanied by one which unites the other two. Thus, if pure red be used, it should be accompanied by green, which is a compound of blue and yellow. This compound colour is called the contrasting colour, and is always used sparingly. But the harmonizing colour is said to be the compound made by any one colour itself, along with the next adjoining to it on either side of the spectrum. Thus red will be harmonized by purple, the colour produced by compounding it with blue on the one side of it, and it will also be harmonized by orange, which is the colour produced by compounding it with the yellow, next to it on the other side of the spectrum." In treating[421] "of the effect" of a picture, although the author with a kind of reluctance admits, or "will not condemn absolutely" factitious effects, he has no predilection for them, and blames for the extravagant use of them Carravagio and others of the Italian schools. Unquestionably they afford a power which should be used with judgment, then most applicable when the supernatural of the subject overpowers the familiarity of more natural effects. Of the "empasto," so much spoken of by connoisseurs, he is an admirer. He directs that the "colours which compose the empasto" should be perfectly well ground, and the ground perfectly smoothed. Yet this was not always the case in the empasto of Paul Veronese, whose empasto was often of a broken and mortary surface; and it would appear, from an examination of such parts of his pictures, as if he had purposely used water with his oil-paint, which would have the effect of slightly separating the particles, and thereby giving brilliancy from the broken surface of refracting particles. This seems to have escaped the notice of M. de Burtin in this place. It has been said of Michael Angelo, that he never painted more than one picture in oil. Like the relics of saints, that one has wonderfully multiplied. Our author speaks of one in his own possession, which is certainly not described as according to the manner we should expect on that great master. "A truly unique picture, by the great Michael Angelo Buonarroti, in my possession, proves to what an astonishing degree art can imitate gold, silver, and stones, without using the originals, by the magic illusion with which the rare genius has painted them as ornaments. They look as if relieved on the armour of the two cavaliers, insomuch that one would believe them to be truly the work of an actual chisel." He admires the smooth empasto; and among the painters who practised it, laudably mentions Vander Werff. But he blames others less known for carrying it out to an extreme finish. To our taste, the smooth empasto of Vander Werff is most displeasing; rendering flesh ivory, and, in that master, ivory without its true and pleasing colour. This branch of the subject ends with remarks on touch, which completes the list of the parts that contribute "to make a good picture." The manner of a painter is in nothing so distinguished as in his touch. There must, then, be great variety in the touch of painters. To be a judge of masters, it is necessary, as the first step to connoisseurship, to be acquainted with this executive part of their art. "Since it is correct to say that without a good touch there cannot be a good picture, one may say likewise, that he is not a good master who has not a good touch, and who does not know how to avoid using it too much." It is a mark of a defective mind, when the painter is too much pleased with the dexterity of his hand. Many however, require this hint; their pictures are so overlaid with touch, that the autographs supersede the subject.

The incipient connoisseur will do well to read the chapter in this volume which will tell him "how to judge pictures well." It will tell him even in what position to see a picture. He disapproves of the use of the mirror, in which the picture is reflected as giving a softness and harmony not genuine; but as it was the practice of Giorgione and Correggio, "in order to learn the effect of the colours, of the masses, and of the work as a whole," he recommends it to the painter. He expects, however, from the amateur an impartiality almost impossible to attain, when it is expected to reach such a point that "all schools, all masters, all manners, and all classes of pictures will be a matter of indifference to him." We fear that an amateur who could reach this indifference, would be rather a general admirer than a good lover. The amateur thus advanced, "will soon be able to weigh impartially the grounds of the dispute between the partisans of ideal beauty on the one hand, and the beauty which exists in nature on the other." But here is a mistake in initio; for is not the Ideal, too, Nature? We should have rather expected a disquisition to elucidate this point; but our author prefers passing away from the real question to indulge in a little severity on the admirers of the Ideal,[Pg 422] which Ideal we are persuaded he never understood; for he considers evidently that the "ideal beauties," with the "magic truth" of the Dutch school in execution, would be perfection. He would view a work painted under this union as perfection. To us it would, we feel quite sure, be an intolerable performance. For this little bit of bad taste he is called to account by his translator. The author's taste was, after all, we suspect, rather incomplete; rather the product of an educated eye than of a mind educated to embrace the Ideal. The fact is, the Ideal in practice must be the reach of a something which the eye, however educated, does not altogether find in external nature; but which, from the data of external nature, the mind creates, partly by combination, and partly from a power of its own invention altogether. The external senses in educated man are obedient to this inventive direction of the mind, and at length receive their greater, perhaps often only, pleasures from it. It is easy to imagine how the more evident and real beauties of the inferior schools, for we do not hesitate to speak of the Italian as the higher, more easily captivate, especially, the incipient lovers of art. They begin by collecting the Dutch; but as they advance in taste and knowledge, and acquire the legitimate feeling for art, they are sure to end with the Italian. The uninitiated may wonder to be told there is any difficulty in judging "whether a picture is in good preservation or not." Yet here is a chapter to teach this "useful knowledge." The "perils that flesh is heir to," are nothing if compared to the perils that environ the similitudes of flesh. "Nos nostraque morti debemur." Men and pictures suffer from the doctors as well as from time. Pictures, too, are often in the "hand of the spoiler," and are subject, with their owners, to a not very dissimilar quackery of potion and lotion, undergo as many purifications, nor do they escape the knife and scarification; are laid upon their backs, rubbed and scrubbed, skinned, and oftentimes reduced to the very ribs and dead colouring of what they were. It is surprising how great a number of pictures are ruined by the cleaners. We are sorry to read this account of Correggio's celebrated Notte. "Even when they do not destroy the picture entirely, they, at all events, leave the most injurious traces behind, depriving it of its transparency and harmony, and much of the effect, rendering it hard, cold, and weak. Of this the admirable 'Night' of Correggio at Dresden presents a very sad example."

We look upon the audacious man who dares to repaint upon an old picture unnecessarily, and by wholesale, as guilty of a crime. It is the murder of another man's offspring, and of his name and fame at the same time. We have heard of a man half a century ago going about the country to paint new wigs upon the Vandykes. We would have such a perpetrator bastinadoed on the soles of his feet. "I was present," says our author, "at Amsterdam during a dispute between one who had just sold a landscape for several thousand florins, and the agent who had made the purchase on commission. The latter required an important change to be made towards the centre of the picture, which he contended would be very much improved thereby. It was in vain that the seller, with whom I agreed in opinion upon the point, persisted in refusing to repaint a work in such good preservation, and by so great a master; for the broker closed his lips by protesting, that unless the demand were complied with, he was instructed to throw up the bargain." We look with equal horror on buyer and seller. Would not the latter have sold his father, mother, brothers, sisters, aunts, and cousins? It has been said that, in compliment to William III., many of the portraits of the ancestors of the courtiers of the day were re-painted with aquiline noses. M. de Burtin very justly observes, that the new touches on old pictures do not preserve their tone, but he does not give the true reason. He seems to entertain no notion that pictures were painted with any other vehicle than common oil; and, in a short discussion upon Van Eyck's discovery, he only shows that he takes up what others have said, and never himself could have read what the monk Theophilus really wrote; for, like M. Merimée, he supposes the monk to say[Pg 423] what he never did say. It is only surprising that, in his numerous cleanings, he did not discover the difference between the old paint of one date and of another, and how they require different solvents. There is a chapter upon "the manner of knowing and appreciating copies," from which the beginner, in collecting, may take some useful hints. He repeats the well-known anecdote of the copy from Raffaelle by Andrea del Sarto, which Julio Romano, who had worked upon the picture, believed to be the original, though assured beforehand by Vasari that it was a copy. With regard to Rubens, by far the greater number of pictures said to be by him, are by the hands of his scholars, to whom he gave the design and outline merely, sometimes touching up the pictures with his own hand. This has been a common and a justifiable practice with great painters, both ancient and modern, or it would have been impossible for any one pair of hands to have done the works which bear the names of some well-employed painters. The few pictures entirely by the hand of Rubens confirm the suspicion as to others, by their superiority. Contemporary copies he considers in a very different light from more modern, because the modern being from the old after they had deepened, deepen still more, and in a few years scarcely resemble in tone the originals. It is from such copies that an ill name has been given to all copies. We have very little feeling for amateurs in their annoyances and embarrassments, who discover that they have only purchased a copy; for they did not judge according to the merits of the picture, but the name under which it was admitted.

The sixth chapter, upon "The manner of analysing and describing pictures," furnishes some good hints to catalogue-makers and auctioneers. The examples are ingeniously worded, and with no little precision. The number given is but a selection from about 240 pages. Whoever will try his hand at a descriptive catalogue, will find it not so easy a task as he imagined. We should have perhaps entertained a higher opinion of the author's judgment, though not a higher of his descriptive power, supposing it to have been exercised as a disciple of the noted Mr Puff, who took a double first in those arts, had the translator kindly omitted an outline of a picture by Poelemburg—The Adoration of the Shepherds. It is certainly well described in generality and detail; but never was any thing more like Mr Puff's style than the following:—"Poelemburg has here surpassed himself by the exactness of the design, and the fine form of the figures. He has carried to the highest degree their gracious and simple expression. The picture is not less distinguished for the attractive effect of light well distributed, for harmony and the clear obscure, for the agreeable and sweet tone of the proper colours, and for that truth," &c. &c. &c.—but alas! the outline! "Look on this picture and on this." It may have been a pretty picture, though the subject is much above Poelemburg; but—shall we pronounce it?—the design is wretched—we cannot help it, and would spare it if we could. Strange are the blunders made in descriptive catalogues. An instance is given—an amusing specimen from a well-established manufactory. "The famous picture of Raffaelle, painted for the church of St John at Bologna, representing St Cecilia holding a musical instrument in her hands, with others at her feet, affords an example of the errors alluded to. She listens with rapt attention to a choir of angels borne on the clouds, and singing. On her right hand are St Paul and St John the Evangelist, strongly characterized; the one by his sword, the other by his eagle, and both by the airs of the heads. On her left are St Magdalene with her cup, and St Augustine with his cross and pontifical garments." Hitherto all the world had been agreed upon the justness of the description; but the author of the Manual of the French Museum, printed in 1803, judged it proper to make one of his own, of which behold the title and the substance—The Martyrdom of St Cecilia.

"Raffaelle would not represent the martyrdom of a young virgin like the execution of a malefactor. Here Cecilia advances towards the place where the palm of martyrdom awaits her.[Pg 424] Her feet only still belong to this earth. Her upraised eyes tell that her thoughts are already in heaven. The man who bears the sword is not an executioner whose stern ferocity augments that of the spectacle. Here the headsman has an air of compassion. Behind the saint walks a priest who assists her. His physiognomy is common, but sweet. He applauds the tranquil resignation of the victim, who seems already to hear the celestial concert that is going on above. The angels celebrate her coming before hand! One of the companions of Cecilia points them out to her with his finger, and seems to do so as an encouragement to her. A young man follows the saint. His action is too expressive to suppose it that of a parent or convert." This is indeed a very fine specimen, both for what is said and what is unsaid—the surmise is perfectly French, and the pitying tender familiarity of Cecilia, for commiseration's sake robbed of her saintship, would be enough to melt an auction-room to tears, were the picture to be sold and thus described.

The very best auction description of a picture we remember ever to have heard, was one most fluently given, and with a most winning and gentlemanly manner, by Mr Christie, the father of the present justly appreciated Mr Christie, as true and honourable as unerring in his judgment of pictures. It was many years ago. The picture to be sold was the celebrated one of the three goddesses, The Judgment of Paris, a large picture. Now the difficulty of the case lay in this, that it was well known that there were three pictures of the subject, all claiming to be originals. This was well known and talked about. There were in fact three pictures of the judgment of Paris. After minutely and most ably describing the picture, Mr Christie came to this delicate acknowledgment. He admitted there were three; the great painter, delighted with his subject, enamoured of the beauties he had created, had, as it were, thrice thrown himself at the feet of each goddess. The three pictures were an offering and homage to each. None could determine which was best. The subject was the Judgment of Paris—it was an enviable opportunity for a happy purchaser "to throw the golden apple." We do not pretend to give, with any exactness, the eloquent wording of this address; nor can we describe the perfect grace with which it was delivered. Every one in the room seemed to know that he was listening to a scholar and a gentleman, and felt a confidence. But to return to De Burtin. The chapter on "the general schools of painting," contains both useful information and judicious remarks. He mentions the embarrassment the amateur must feel, seeing that authors are not agreed among themselves in the number and classification of schools. Some reckon three, some five, some eight, some extend the number to twelve. Lanzi even makes fourteen of the Italian schools alone. "In order that the school of a particular city or country may take its place among the general schools, it is necessary, in my opinion, that it shall have produced a great many masters celebrated for their merit, and that these shall have in their style and manner something common to them all, which particularly characterizes them, and which is sufficiently remarkable to distinguish their school from all others. Upon this principle, I reckon eight schools in all; and these are, the Florentine or Tuscan, the Roman, the Lombard, the Venetian, the Flemish, the Dutch, the French, and the German. If it were sufficient to have given to the world artists renowned for their merit, the Spanish might likewise claim a place among the general schools, were it only from having possessed a Morales, a Velasquez, and a Murillo. Naples, too, might enjoy the same privilege, from the names of Spagnoletto, Calabrese, Salvator Rosa, and Luca Giordano. Genoa, likewise, from Castiglione, Strozzi, Castelli, and Cambiasi. But the want of a general distinctive character prevents their being ranked under the general schools, and the masters are, for the most part, placed separately in that one or other of the acknowledged schools to which their manner approaches most nearly, or to which their master belonged." The distinguishing marks of the schools are ably laid down. The author con[Pg 425]fesses that he feels a difficulty in generalizing the characteristics of the Florentine school. He adopts the somewhat exaggerated (as he allows) account of M. Levesque. His characteristics are—fine movement, a certain sombre austerity, an expression of vigour, which excludes perhaps that of grace, a character of design, the grandeur of which is in some sort gigantic. They may be reproached with a kind of exaggeration; but it cannot be denied that there is in this exaggeration an ideal majesty, which elevates human nature above the weak and perishing nature of reality. The Tuscan artists, satisfied with commanding admiration, seem to disdain seeking to please. The description of the Roman school we conceive to be not so fortunate. Its excellence is attributed to the antique, distinguished "by great beauty in the forms, a composition elegant, although often singular, and by expressions ideal rather than natural, of which a part is often sacrificed to the preservation of beauty." If we receive as models of these two most celebrated schools, Michael Angelo Buonarroti, and Raffaelle, (though it should be observed, if we look to the actual genius of these great men, we must not forget the early age at which Raffaelle died,) such distinction as this may be drawn. That the Florentine school had for its object the personal, the absolute bodily power and dignity of man, and such strong intellect and energy as would be considered in necessary agreement with that perfect condition of the human form. That there is therefore, in their vigorous delineations, a great and simple, and, as it were, gigantic rudeness very perceptible. On the contrary, in the Roman, the subordination of the person to the cultivated mind is decidedly marked. It is the delineation of man further off from his ruder state, showing in aspect, and even in bodily movements, the mental cultivation. The one school is of an Antediluvian, the other of a Christian race. Hence, in the latter, under the prerogative of love, grace and a nicer beauty are assumed; and a delicacy and purity arising from minds educated to bear, to forbear, chastened by trial, endowed with a new greatness not inconsistent with gentleness. Yet was simplicity strongly marked in the Roman school; nor do we think the blame thrown upon their colouring justly thrown, as it was most consistent with the characteristic dignified simplicity; nor do we agree with those who think it inharmonious in itself. Baroccio is praised, in that he added somewhat of the colouring of Correggio to the study of the antique and the works of Raffaelle; but it is more than doubtful if the innovation upon the Roman simplicity be not a deterioration of the school. The colouring, the chief characteristic of the Venetian school, represents mankind in a still further onward (we use not the word advanced, because it may be misunderstood) state, in the state of more convention, of manners, and of luxury. Hence even most refined subjects of the Venetian are, with regard to purity, and moral and intellectual beauty, in a grade of inferiority to the Roman and Florentine. They are of the age of a civil government rather than of a religious influence. The countenances indicate the business of the world; the more varied costume, the more rich covering of the figures, with less of the nude, are marks of merchandise and traffic. This is perceptible, and possibly somewhat to the disparagement of the full display of the subject, in the grand picture of Del Piombo, the Raising of Lazarus, though perhaps that picture, bearing such evidence of the design if not the hand of Michael Angelo, may by some not be admitted as belonging to the Venetian school. We mean not to say that the Venetian school did not advance the art by the new power of colour, the invention of that school; it opened the way to a new class of subjects, which still admitted much of the grand and the pathetic. It certainly did more; it showed that there was a grand and a pathetic in colour alone, a principle of art which, though first shown, and not in its perfect degree by the Venetians, has never yet been carried out as a principle. We hear much of its beauty, its harmony, in a limited sense of its power, but seldom of its sentiment.

The remarks of M. de Burtin upon[Pg 426] the Peter Martyr of Titian are very strange. He must have been much deceived when he saw this wonderful picture, either by its position or the state of his own vision. We saw the picture out of its frame, and down against the wall, and saw no factitious unnatural effect, nor any black and white. "This picture," he says, "so full of merit in other respects, presents a striking example of the factitious and unnatural effect produced by the extraordinary opposition of black and white. I am well aware that gay and brilliant colouring would not be appropriate to a cruel action; but a measure is to be observed in every thing, and I cannot be convinced that there could occur, in broad day, and in the open air, a scene in which all was obscure and black except the figures." Obscurity and blackness in Titian's Peter Martyr! Our author has attached the school of Bologne to that of Lombardy, as others have done, in consideration that the Caracci in forming their school greatly studied Correggio. Yet undoubtedly Correggio stands quite apart from the Caracci. The Bologna was in fact a "Composite" school. If the Venetian school was indicative of business, of the activities of society as a mass, the Lombard school, as first distinguished by Correggio, assumed more homely grace, it was domestic, of the hearth—the cherished love, the sweet familiar grace. This was its characteristic; it bore a kind of garden luxuriance and richer embellishment of colour, not the embellishment of civic pomp as seen in the Venetian, but a coloured richness as of the fruit and flower of a new Eden. The Holy Families of Correggio are in fragrant repose. The earth pays the homage of her profusion, and, as conscious of the presence of him that shall remove her curse, puts on her gorgeous apparel. The next descent from this grade of art would be to the pastoral. M. de Burtin objects to the airs of the heads, "graceful and smiling felt not to be altogether appropriate when the action is sad or violent." We can imagine that he alludes to the picture of the Martyrdom of St Placidus and Flavia at Parma. The smiling saint receiving the sword in her bosom, as a boon in thankfulness or that coming bliss which is already hers in vision, is perhaps as touching as any expression ever painted by Correggio. Did our author miss the meaning of that devotional and more than hopeful smile? This picture, like some others of Correggio, is very grey, and has probably had much of its glazing removed. In M. de Burtin's notice of the Flemish school, we entirely pass over the discussion respecting Van Eyck and his discovery; enough has been said upon that subject. The partiality of our author for Rubens is very perceptible. The characteristics of the Flemish school are confined to Historical painting, and even in that class there is scarcely more than one example, Rubens. Between Rubens and Vandyke there is certainly affinity beyond that of colouring, though in colouring to a limited degree. Between Rubens and Teniers there is surely a gap of many classes. If there be any characteristic mark common to both, it must lie in the silvery lightness of colouring, distinctness and freedom of touch, as if both had used the same vehicle, and in the same manner, allowance being made for the size and subjects of their pictures. We are not disposed to detract from the reputation of Rubens as a colourist; no painter perhaps better understood theoretically and practically the science of the harmony of colours, and their application to natural representation. But he was entirely careless as to sentiment of colouring. Action even to its utmost superiority was his forte, and for this one expression his colouring, by its vivid power and contrasts, was certainly very admirable.

The Dutch school is so blended with the Flemish, separating from both Rubens and Vandyke, and their immediate scholars, that it is difficult to speak of them as distinct schools. Fascinating as they undoubtedly are, they utterly abandon the power to teach for the art of pleasing. They are not for the public; have little to do with events of any great interest. There is a manifest descent from the high pretensions of art; the aim is to gratify the mere love of exact imitation, and to interest by portraiture of manners. "If, then," says our author, "truth of[Pg 427] imitation is the first business of works of art; if, without that, no picture is in a situation to please; if all that is visible over the whole face of nature be included in the domain of painting, how is it that among the exclusive partisans of historical subjects, there are persons so blind as not to see that the marvellous productions of this school, and of the Flemish, have filled with admirable success the immense gaps which their vaunted Italian schools have left in different parts of art?"

The very first sentence of this passage is of very undefined sense; we can guess at what is meant by the sneer upon the "vaunted Italian schools." There are not only immense gaps, but great gulfs, over which there is no legitimate passage. If these schools have "done so much honour to the art of painting," as M. de Burtin asserts that they have, it has rather been in their perpetuating it as a practical art, than by adding to its dignity or importance. If, however, it be allowable to separate Rubens from the Flemish school, we may with still greater propriety set apart by himself that extraordinary man Rembrandt, who, if any, had some insight of the sentiment of colour.

Very little compliment is paid to the French school by De Burtin. He considers that it has no characteristic but that of the imitation of all schools. It should be observed in justice to more modern French painters, that this was written in 1808. The very opposite opinions of M. Levesque against, and Lairesse in favour of Simon Vouet, the founder of the school, are quoted. The opinions of neither will weigh much with modern critics, even though it were certain that those ascribed to Lairesse were his. Neither Claude nor Nicolas Poussin are allowed to belong to the French school. We presume De Burtin had but little taste for landscape, for he does not mention, we believe, in this whole work, Gaspar Poussin—nor does he dwell much upon Claude. It is extraordinary that in mentioning the one, he should take no notice of his great contemporary.

And here we may observe, that writers on art have ever been neglectful in the extreme with regard to this part of art—we should add, this delightful part, and so capable of sentiment. They take a vast jump from the high Italian Historic (of Figures) to the low Flemish and Dutch, not even in those latter schools discriminating the better portion of the landscape from the lower.

There is wanting a new classification, one not so much of schools, nor of styles per se, as of subjects—in which the School of Landscape would require an ample treatment. It is a school which, by the neglect of critics, has been allowed to descend to its lowest depth; yet is it one which is daily becoming more the public taste—a taste, nevertheless, which has as yet given to it but little of its former elevation, which it had entirely lost before it reached us through the deterioration of the Dutch and Flemish schools.

The German school, the first in antiquity, was extinguished with its masters. It was founded by Albert Durer, whose genius was acknowledged and admired by Raffaelle himself. The modern German school was not in existence at the date of this publication in 1808.

An entire chapter is given upon "the causes of the characteristics which distinguish the different schools from each other." There is, however, nothing new said upon this subject. Undoubtedly there is much truth in the following passage: "So much did the liberty which the Dutch had just recovered from the Spaniards, by unheard-of efforts, become fatal among them to the same class of art, the foundations of which they sapped by their resolution to banish their priests, and to substitute a religion that suffers neither pictures nor statues of saints in their churches. From that time all the views of their painters were necessarily turned to the other classes of art, more susceptible of a small form, and therefore more suitable to the private houses of the Dutch, which, though neat and commodious, are not sufficiently large for pictures of great size." If the dignity of art is to be recovered, it will be by national galleries, and we might yet perhaps hope, by re-opening our[Pg 428] churches for the admission of scriptural pictures.

The chapter upon the division of pictures into classes, is by no means satisfactory. It is admitted by the translator to be incomplete. At its conclusion is a quotation from Pliny, which, as it is intended to justify De Burtin's taste for the low Flemish and Dutch schools, does not indicate a very high taste in either Pliny or himself. Pliny says of Pyreicus, that "few artists deserve to be preferred to him. That he painted, in small, barbers' and shoemakers' stalls, asses, bears, and such things." He further adds, that his works obtained larger prices than other artists of nobler subjects obtained, and that he was not degraded by choosing such low subjects. We beg pardon of Pliny, but we would not give three farthings for his pictorial judgment. Indeed, had not Lucian given us some most vivid descriptions of some of the ancient pictures, we should have had no very high opinion of them. For the well-known anecdotes speak only in favour of mechanical excellence. Our author, in his chapter on the art of describing pictures, might have taken Lucian for his model with great propriety. There is in this chapter on division into classes, much nonsense about beauty, Ideal and Physical. De Burtin thinks we have not any instinctive feeling for physical beauty as of moral beauty; that a fixed proportion of parts neither in men nor animals, any more than in architecture, is the foundation of beauty—which is perfectly ridiculous, and not worth an argument. Ideal beauty he here treats with great contempt, and points out two truths on this matter demonstrated by comparative anatomy; "the one of which is, that the beauty of the antique heads depends chiefly on the facial line in them, making an angle of 100 degrees with the horizontal line; the other is, that it is certain that such a head is never found in nature."

In the tenth chapter he treats of "the causes of the superiority of the pictures of the 16th and 17th centuries over those of the past century." He looks upon Rome and the Antique as the chief cause, and that artists go there before they have established principles of art. It is not, he asserts, in difference of colours; for "Giorgione and Titian neither made this themselves, nor brought them from afar, but bought then uniformly in the shops at Venice." He appears to entertain no suspicion of loss or deterioration of vehicle; on the contrary, thinks some artists have been very successful in copies, here rather contradicting his former remarks upon the difference between old copies and new; but, above all, he attributes this décadence of art to the neglect of colour. That, however, is evidently only one part of the art. We are almost induced to smile either at his flattery or his simplicity in naming certain exceptions of modern times, whose names will be little known to, and those known not much in the admiration of, the English collector, "all of whom have carried their art to a very high degree of perfection." In his chapter on the "different manners of the masters," it is observable how little he has to say of the Italian schools; almost all the subsequent remarks in the volume are confined to the Flemish and Dutch. He greatly praises Dietrici for his manner, which to us is not pleasing, and which we should term an imitating flippancy. He tells an anecdote of Titian, which, if it rest upon any good authority, tends to prove that Titian's medium must have been one which admitted the mixture of water with oil. Of Titian he says, that at the end of his life "he used to daub his best works anew with red paint, because he thought the colour too feeble. But happily his pupils had the address to prevent the fatal effects of his foolishness, by making up his colours with water only, or with an oil that was not of a drying nature." With colours ground, Titian could not have mixed his pencil in oil alone and unmixed—and he would himself have immediately discovered the cheat, for it would have dried as distemper dead, and crumbled away under his hand. He might have so painted, if oil and water had been combined, and the vehicle rendered saponaceous, which it probably was. Many artists have been led, he observes, to change the manner from good to bad. We have a remarkable[Pg 429] instance in our Gainsborough, whose latter scratchy, slovenly manner is most displeasing; nor had he at any time an imagination to justify it, or rather to qualify it by the power of his compositions.

It is strange that he attributes slovenliness of manner to Rembrandt, "from Avarice." Documents have recently been produced showing that Rembrandt's goods were seized for payment of no very large debt. But is not M. de Burtin altogether mistaken in this manner of Rembrandt? Any of his pictures that show this slovenliness, are, we should suspect, in those parts merely sketched in—a method agreeable to his practice, which was to work upon and upon, glazing, and heaping colour—a method which required, in the first instance, a loose and undefined sketchy manner. Some few years ago there was a picture by him exhibited at the Institution, Pall-Mall—dead game, wonderfully painted, and evidently unfinished; a boy in the background was, as we might term it, daubed in in a very slovenly manner, and with a greenish colour, evidently for the sake of that colour as an underground. Under the head "Historical" in this chapter, it is strange to find but seven names, Rubens, Vandyke, Rembrandt, Lairesse, Poelemburg, Albert Durer, and Hans Holbein. Even with some of these names it is too much honour to place Lairesse and Poelemburg.

In reference to the lower classes of subjects, we think justice is hardly done to Jan Steen, of whom, considering him even as a colourist, more should have been said, than that he "is distinguished by the drollery of his subjects, and by the most true and ingeniously simple expression of the feelings of common life." All this might be said of many others; the characteristic of Jan Steen is still wanting. So we think as to Philip Wouverman; no notice is taken of his too great softness, the evident fault of his manner. Nor are we satisfied with the description of Backhuysen. It should have been noticed in what he is distinguished from Vandervelde. His defect in composition is so striking, as frequently to show a want of perspective in design, and often he has no principal object in his picture. His vessels are either too large or too small for the scene; and his execution was likewise too softened. He winds up this part of the subject with a quotation from Diderot, that "he cannot be manner'd, either in design or colouring, who imitates nature scrupulously, and that mannerism comes of the master of the academy, of the school, and of the Antique," which we very much doubt, for the mannerism is often in the mind, the peculiar, the autographic character of the painter, which he stamps even upon nature. Were a Wynantz, and a Claude or Poussin, put down before the same scene, how different would be their pictures, how different the vision in the eye of the three! A Claude would see the distances, a Gaspar Poussin the middle distances and flowing lines, and Wynantz the docks and thistles. The chapter "on the signatures of the Masters," will be found useful to collectors. He says that where there is a false signature it is removed by spirits of wine, and that is the proof that it is false. He does not draw the inference, that as spirits of wine destroy the one vehicle and not the other, the old and original, they must differ.

Another chapter is devoted to "The famous balance composed by De Piles for estimating the different degrees of merit in the principal historical painters." This famous balance is a piece of critical coxcombry with which we never could have tolerable patience. It is an absurd assumption of superiority in the critic over all the masters that ever were; as if he alone were able to conceive perfection, to which no painter has ever been able to advance; that perfection on which the critic, or rather De Piles, had his eye, is Number 20; that no Painter has approached it nearer than nineteen. It commences with a falsehood in supposition, that the critic is above the Painter, or Art, or the only one really cognisant of it. The fact being quite the reverse, for we know nothing that we have not been absolutely taught by genius. It is genius that precedes; it is the maker, the worker, the inventor, who alone sees the step beyond. Did the critic see this step he would cease to be the critic, and become the[Pg 430] maker. He would become the genius. In the arts, whether of poetry, painting, or music, we know nothing but what practical genius tells us, shows us, teaches us; seldom is it, indeed, that the scholar critic comprehends fully the lessons taught; but to pretend to go before the masters, and to set up a post with his Number 20 marked upon it, and to bid his master reach it if he can, is the puerile play of an infantine intellect, or very conceited mind! And so we give M. De Piles, and all his followers, a slap in the face, and bid them go packing with Number 20. We will not condescend to pull to pieces this fantastic scheme, which is in its distinctions, and weighings and calculations, appreciations and depreciations, as false as it must necessarily be, arising from a mind capable of laying down any such scheme at all. The chapter on prices, and the lists contained, will be consulted with advantage by collectors. It contains valuable documents, showing the fluctuations of public taste. There is much useful information upon cleaning pictures, and on varnishes. Something has been recently said to bring into practice again the varnishing with white of egg. M. de Burtin is decidedly against the practice. "As to the varnishes of water, isinglass, and white of egg, every prudent amateur will attack them the instant that he discovers such dangerous enemies, and will use every effort to free his pictures from them." We think him utterly mistaken in the following passage. "In operating upon a work of art, whether to clean it or to raise the varnish, it ought to be remembered, that the colours grow hard only by the lapse of time." If so, surely a hundred years would be time enough to harden—but the chemical tests which touch the hard paint, if it be hard, of a century old, will not be applicable to those of still older date, and of better time. He had shown this unconsciously in what he had said of spirits of wine. We have taken some pains in the pages of Maga to disabuse the public with regard to the imaginary benefit of painting in varnish—a most pernicious practice; and that it is so, we have elsewhere given both proof and authorities. We are glad to find our author on our side. "Besides, no one at the present day (1808) is ignorant of their absurd method of painting in varnish, which corrupts the colours, and prevents them ever attaining the requisite hardness." There is much useful matter upon varnishing, which it will be well that collectors and keepers of public galleries should read with attention. We do not say follow, but read; for it is indeed a very serious matter to recommend a varnish, seeing how many pictures are totally ruined by bad applications. We have been told that drying oil mixed with mastic varnish has been, though not very recently, used in our National Gallery. We hope it is a mistake, and that there has been no such practice. The effect must be to make them dull and horny, and to destroy all brilliancy in time. We say no more upon that subject, believing that our National Gallery is intrusted to good hands, and that whatever is done, will be done with judgment, and not without much reflection. A new varnish has appeared, "Bentley's." We believe it is copal, but rendered removable as mastic. It is certainly very brilliant, not, or but slightly, subject to chill, and is more permanent, as well as almost colourless. De Burtin not only denounces the use of oil in varnishes, but speaks of a more disgusting practice, common in Italy, of rubbing pictures "with fat, oil, or lard, or other animal grease.... So destructive a practice comes in process of time to rot the picture, so that it will not hold together." We should scarcely have thought it worth while to notice this, had we not seen pictures so treated in this country. Behold a specimen of folly and hazardous experiment:—"At that time, I frequented the Dresden gallery every morning, and got from M. Riedal all the details of his practice. He informed me that, amongst others, the chief works of Correggio, Raffaelle, Titian, and Procaccini, after having undergone his preparatory operations, had got a coat of his 'oil of flowers,' which he would repeat, until every part became 'perfectly bright.' And on my remarking, that in the admirable 'Venus' of Titian, the carna[Pg 431]tions alone were bright, and all the rest flat, he told me with perfect coolness, that 'having only as yet given it three coats of his oil, that it was not astonishing, but that he would put it all in unison by multiplying the coats.'" The man should have been suffocated in his "oil of flowers," preserved in them, and hung up in the gallery in terrorem. Could ghosts walk and punish, we would not have been in his skin, though perfumed with his preservative oil of flowers, under the visitations of the ghosts of Correggio, Raffaelle, Titian, and Procaccini. "Such," adds M. de Burtin, "was his threat at the very moment that I felt overpowered with chagrin, to see the superb carnations of Titian acquiring a yellowish, sad, and monotonous tone, through the coats that he had already given to it."

We have noticed, at considerable length, this work, and have been led on by the interest of the subject. The perusal of this translation will repay the connoisseur, and we think the artist. The former, in this country, will be surprised to find names of artists, whose works will not be found in our collections, at least with their titles. The artist will find some useful information, and will always find his flame of enthusiasm fed by reading works upon the subject of art, though they should be very inferior to the present useful volume. We recommend it as not unamusing to all who wish to think upon art, and to acquire the now almost necessary accomplishment of a taste for pictures.


A Tale.

Chapter I.

Along the dusty highway, and underneath a July sun, a man about fifty, tending somewhat to the corpulent, and dressed in heavy parsonic black, might have been seen treading slowly—treading with all that quiet caution which one uses who, conscious of fat, trusts his person to the influence of a summer sky. Mr Simpson, such was the name of this worthy pedestrian, passed under the denomination of a mathematical tutor, though it was now some time since he had been known to have any pupil. He was now bent from the village of ——— to the country-seat of Sir John Steventon, which lay in its neighbourhood. He had received the unusual honour of an invitation to dinner at the great man's house, and it was evidently necessary that he should present himself, both his visage and his toilet, in a state of as much composure as possible. The dust upon his very shining boot, this a touch from his pocket-handkerchief, before entering the house, could remove, and so far all traces of the road would be obliterated; but should this wicked perspiration once fairly break its bounds, he well knew that nothing but the lapse of time, and the fall of night, would recover him from this palpable disorder. Therefore it was that he walked with wonderful placidity, making no one movement of body or mind that was not absolutely necessary to the task of progression, and holding himself up, so to speak, within his habiliments as if he and they, though unavoidably companions on the same journey, were by no means intimate or willing associates. There was a narrow strip of shade from the hedge that ran beside the road, and although the shadow still left the nobler half of his person exposed to the rays of the sun, he kept carefully within such shelter as it afforded. If he encountered any one, he stood still and examined the foliage of the hedge. To dispute the path in any other manner, with the merest urchin he might meet, was out of the question. It would have caused excitement. Moreover he was a meek man, and in all doubtful points yielded to the claim of others. Grocery-[Pg 432]boys and barrow-women always had the wall of him. Our traveller proceeded so tranquilly, that a sparrow boldly hopped down upon the ground before him; he was so resolved to enter into conflict with no living creature, that he paused till it had hopped off again.

Mr Simpson's toilet, though it had been that day a subject of great anxiety with him, presented, we fear, to the eyes of the world nothing remarkable. A careless observer, if questioned on the apparition he had met with, would have replied very briefly, that it was the figure of an old pedant dressed in a suit of rusty black. Suit of rusty black! And so he would dismiss the aggregate of all that was choice, reserved, and precious in the wardrobe of Mr Simpson. Rusty black, indeed! Why, that dress coat, which had been set apart for years for high and solemn occasions, had contracted a fresh dignity and importance from every solemnity with which it had been associated. And those respectable nether-garments, had they not always been dismissed from service the moment he re-entered his own dusty apartment? Had they not been religiously preserved from all abrasion of the surface, whether from cane-bottomed chair, or that under portion of the library table which, to students who cross their legs, is found to be so peculiarly pernicious to the nap of cloth? What could have made them worse for wear? Would a thoughtless world confound the influence of the all-embracing atmosphere, with the wear and tear proper to cloth habiliments? And then his linen—would a careless public refuse to take notice that not a single button was missing from the shirt, which, in general, had but one solitary button remaining—just one at the neck, probably fastened by his own hand? Above all, was it not noticeable that he was not to-day under the necessity of hiding one hand behind him under the lappets of his coat, and slipping the other down his half-open umbrella, to conceal the dilapidated gloves, but could display both hands with perfect candour to public scrutiny? Were all these singular merits to pass unacknowledged, to be seen by no one, or seen only by himself?

It was an excellent wish of Burns'—

"Oh, would some power the giftie gie us,
To see ourselves as others see us!"

But it would be a still more convenient thing if some power would give the rest of the world the faculty of seeing us as we see ourselves. It would produce a most comfortable state of public opinion; and on no subject would it operate more favourably than on that of dress. Could we spread over beholders the same happy delusion that rests on ourselves, what a magical change would take place in the external appearance of society! Mr Simpson is not the only person who might complain that the world will not regard his several articles of attire from the same point of view as himself. We know a very charming lady, who, when she examines her kid gloves, doubles her little fist, and then pronounces—they will do—forgetful that she is not in the habit of doubling her pretty fist in the face of every one that she speaks to—and that, therefore, others will not take exactly the same point of view as herself.

Notwithstanding the heat of the sun, our mathematician contrived to deliver himself in a tolerable state of preservation at the mansion of Sir John Steventon. We pass over the ceremony of dinner, and draw up the curtain just at that time when the ladies and gentlemen have re-assembled in the drawing-room.

We look round the well-dressed circle, and it is some time before we can discover our worthy friend. At length, after a minute research, we find him standing alone in the remotest corner of the room. He is apparently engaged in examining the bust of the proprietor of the mansion, which stands there upon its marble pedestal. He has almost turned his back upon the company. Any one, from his attitude, might take him for a connoisseur, perhaps an artist, absorbed in his critical survey. But so far is he from being at the present moment drawn away by his admiration of the fine arts, that we question whether he even sees the bust that is standing upright, face to face, before him. He has got into that corner, and knows not how to move from it. He knows not where else to put himself, or what else to be looking at.[Pg 433] The scene in which he finds himself has, from the solitude of his later years, become strange and embarrassing. The longer he stands there, the more impossible does it seem for him to get away, or even to turn round and face the company. The position of the valorous Schmelzle, who having read upon a board the notice "that spring guns were set upon the premises," trembled as much to retreat as to advance, to move a foot backwards or forwards, or in any direction, but stood gazing at the formidable announcement, was scarcely more painful than that of Simpson. Although probably not a single person in the room was taking the least notice of his movements, he felt that every eye was upon him. The colour was mounting in his cheek. Every moment his situation was becoming more intolerable. We are afraid that he would soon have committed something very absurd—have broken from his moorings with a shout—or dispelled the sort of nightmare that was stifling him by some violent gesture, perhaps by dealing a blow at that bust which stood there so placidly before him, just as the poor youth did at the British Museum, who threw a stone at the Portland vase, to prove that he also was a man, and had volition, and was not to be looked into stone by the Gorgon of society. Fortunately, however, Sir John Steventon himself came to the rescue.

"Well, Mr Simpson," said the baronet pointing to the bust, "do you trace a resemblance?"

Mr Simpson was so overjoyed to have at length some one at hand to whom he might speak, or seem to be speaking, and so connect himself with the society around him, that to the simple question he made not one only, but several answers, and very dissimilar ones too. In the same breath he found it a likeness, yet not very like, and ended with asking for whom it was intended.

Sir John Steventon smiled, and after one or two indifferent observations, led Mr Simpson apart into a little study or sanctum of his own, which communicated with the drawing-room. It will be naturally concluded that there existed some peculiar reason for the invitation passed on our humble mathematician, who was not altogether the person, under ordinary circumstances, to find himself a guest at rich men's tables. The following conversation will explain this departure from the usual course of things, and the respectable conventions of society.

"You were some years," said Sir John, "a tutor in the family of the late Mr Scott?"

"I was," responded Mr Simpson, "and prepared his son for Cambridge. Had the young man lived"——

"He would, I am sure," politely interrupted Sir John, "have borne testimony to the value of your instruction. I am, as you may be aware, the executor of Mr Scott. That gentleman was so well satisfied with the exertions you made, and the interest you took in his son, that, on your quitting him, he presented you, I believe, with an annuity of fifty pounds, to be enjoyed during your life. This is, if I may be allowed to say so, the chief source of your income."

"The only one," answered Mr Simpson. "For although I willingly proclaim myself tutor of mathematics, because a title, no matter what, is a protection from the idle curiosity of neighbours; yet, if I may venture to say so, my life is, indeed, devoted to science for the love of science itself, and with the hope of enrolling my name, although the very last and humblest, amongst those who have perfected our knowledge of the mathematics, and extended their application. I have already conceived, and in part executed a work."

Mr Simpson was launching on the full tide of his favourite subject. He thought, as good simple creatures always do, that he could not make a better return for the hospitalities of the rich man, than by pouring out his whole heart before him. Sad mistake which these simple people fall into! The rich man cares nothing for their heart, and is very susceptible to ennui.

"Very good," interrupted Sir John, "very good; but with regard to this annuity. I have not yet looked over the papers relating to it, and I hope, for your sake, I shall find it properly secured."

"I have a deed formally drawn up."

"True, true; and I hope all will[Pg 434] be found straightforward in this, and in other affairs of the testator, and that nothing will compel me to call in the assistance or sanction of the Court of Chancery in administering the estate. In that case, although your claim might be ultimately substantiated, yet the payment of your annuity might, for some years, be suspended."

"I pray God not!" exclaimed our man of science with some trepidation. "I have lived so much alone, so entirely amongst my figures and diagrams, that I have not a friend in the world of whom I could borrow sixpence."

"Well, I trust," resumed Sir John, after a short pause, "that there will be no occasion for applying to a Court of Chancery. There ought to be none. There is but one child, Mrs Vincent, whom you have seen this evening in the drawing-room. The great essential is to keep prying and meddlesome attorneys from thrusting themselves into the business. You acted as confidential secretary as well as tutor, while you were domiciled with Mr Scott."

"I did."

"There was a pecuniary transaction between myself and Mr Scott, to which I think you were privy."

"A loan of ten thousand pounds, for which you gave your bond."

"Exactly. I see you are informed of that circumstance. You are not, perhaps, equally well informed that that bond was cancelled; that the debt, in short, was paid. This happened after you had left Mr Scott. But although, as I tell you, this debt no longer exists, yet it might create a great embarrassment to me, and to every person interested in the estate of the testator, if it were known that such a debt ever had existed. Mrs Vincent has just returned from India, expecting a very considerable fortune from her late father. To her, in general terms, the whole property is left. She will be disappointed. There is much less than she anticipates. However, not to make a long story of this matter, all I have to request of you is this, if any one should question you as to the property of your late patron, and especially as to this transaction, be you silent—know nothing. You have ever been a man of books, buried in abstractions, the answer will appear quite natural. This will save you, be assured, from much vexation, disquietude, and grievous interruption to your studies, and I shall rest your debtor for your considerate behaviour. A contrary course will create embarrassment to all parties, and put in jeopardy your own annuity, on which, as you say, you depend for subsistence, and the carrying out of your scientific projects."

As Mr Simpson sat silent during this communication, Sir John continued some time longer in the same strain. He made no doubt that the simple mathematician before him was quite under his influence—was completely in his power. That simple person, however, who lived in obscurity, almost in penury—to society an object of its wisely directed ridicule—was a man of honour. Little had he to do with the world; even its good opinion was scarcely of any importance to him. What to him was the fastidiousness of virtue—to him whom poverty excluded from the refined portion of society, and knowledge and education from the vulgar and illiterate? What could he profit by it? Nothing, absolutely nothing. And yet there was no power on earth could have made this man false to his honour. Partly, perhaps, from his very estrangement from the business of the world, his sense of virtue had retained its fresh and youthful susceptibility. As is the case with all such men, he was slow to attribute villany to others. This it was had kept him silent; he waited to be quite convinced that he understood Sir John. When the truth stood plainly revealed, when it became evident to him that this debt of ten thousand pounds was not paid, and that he was brought there to be bribed or intimidated into a guilty secrecy, his whole soul fired up with indignation.

He had listened, as we say, in silence. When satisfied that he perfectly comprehended Sir John, he rose from his seat, and briefly intimating that he should not leave him long in doubt as to the manner in which he should act, turned, and abruptly left the apartment. Sir John had no time to arrest him, and could only follow, and be a witness to his movements. He re-entered the drawing-room. Where were now all the terrors of[Pg 435] that scene? Where the awe which its easy elegant ceremonial inspired? Gone, utterly gone. He had now a duty to fulfil. You would have said it was another man. Had he been the proprietor of the mansion, he could not have entered with a more assured and unembarrassed air. There was a perfect freedom and dignity in his demeanour as he stepped across the room. In the centre of the room, throned, as it were, upon the sofa, sat two ladies, remarkable above all the others, for the finished elegance of their manner, and the splendour of their toilet. The one was Lady Steventon, the other Mrs Vincent. Some minutes ago, not for all the world would he have stood alone upon that piece of carpet in front of this sofa. No courtier, assured of the most smiling reception, could have drawn his chair with more ease to the vacant spot beside Mrs Vincent, than did now Mr Simpson. He immediately entered into conversation on the subject that at the moment engrossed all his thoughts; he reminded her of the confidential intimacy which had subsisted between himself and her late father; proffered his assistance to aid her in the arrangement of her affairs; and, in particular, gave a succinct account of the transaction which Sir John had manifested so great anxiety to conceal.

The manner in which all this was said, so entirely took Sir John Steventon by surprise, that he was unable to interfere with a single word. Mrs Vincent, to whom the information was evidently quite new, concealed the embarrassment she felt in some general expressions of thanks to Mr Simpson. He, when he had fulfilled his object, rose, and making a profound bow to his host and hostess, quitted the house. His demeanour was such, that his host involuntarily returned his salutation with one of marked deference and respect.

Chapter II.

A year had rolled round, and Mrs Vincent was established in all her rights. Sir John Steventon had been disappointed in the fraudulent scheme he had devised; not disappointed, however, as he deemed, in the revenge he had taken on the man who had frustrated it. Payment of Mr Simpson's annuity was resisted, and the poor mathematician was in great straits for those necessaries of life, which, necessary as they may be, are often with a great portion of the human family very fortuitous. Ask not on what legal pretexts Sir John had been successful in inflicting this revenge. Such pretexts are "thick as blackberries." Facilis est descensus—No rich suitor ever sought long for admission into the Court of Chancery, however difficult even he may have found the escape from it. Neither, do we apprehend, is there any remedy for this abuse of law, in the legal reforms usually contemplated by our legislators. The only effective remedy, if we may be here permitted to give a remark, would be this—that the state administer civil justice at its own expense to rich and poor alike—that, as it protects each man's life and limb, so it should protect each man's property, which is the means of life, which is often as essential to him as the limbs by which he moves. This is the only mode of realizing that "equal justice" which at present is the vain boast of every system of jurisprudence, when the suitor has to pay for protection to his property.

Poor Simpson, who had lived for some years on his scanty annuity, and had lived content, for his wants were few, and his mind utterly absorbed in his science, now found himself without the simplest means of subsistence. He had escaped, as he thought, for ever, from the necessity of applying his science to satisfy mere animal wants; he began to think he should be very fortunate if all his science would procure for him the commonest "board and lodging!" When a man has ceased to cultivate his relationship with society, and wishes, after a time, to return to them, he will find that a blank wall has been built up between him and the world. There is not even a door to knock at, let alone the chance of its opening when he knocks. Our mathematician knew not where to look for a pupil, nor for a friend who would recommend him. Some unavailing attempts[Pg 436] he made to obtain his rights through litigation; but he soon found, that to the loss of his money he was adding only the loss of all tranquillity of mind. The lawyer he employed neglected (and very naturally) a suit which would have required on his part large advances, the repayment of which was very precarious.

In this predicament he bethought himself of making an appeal to Mrs Vincent, the lady whom he had benefited by his simple and straightforward honesty; not that he held her under any peculiar obligation to him; what he had done was by no means to oblige her; it was strictly a self-obligation; he could not have acted otherwise, let the consequences have been what they might. But he reasoned with himself, that the annuity of which he was deprived would fall into the general residue of the estate, and be in fact paid to her; and as he could not believe that she would wish to profit by the villany of Sir John, he thought there could be nothing derogatory to him, nor exacting upon her, if he proposed to relinquish entirely his legal claim upon the estate, and receive the annuity from her hands. She must surely be desirous, he thought, to fulfil the solemn engagements of her deceased parent. Full of these cogitations, he betook himself to London, where Mrs Vincent had established herself.

The reader must imagine himself introduced into an elegantly furnished drawing-room, in one of the most fashionable quarters of the metropolis. Had we any talent for the description of the miracles of upholstery, it would be a sin to pass over so superb and tasteful a scene without a word. But the little descriptive power we possess must be reserved for the lady who was sitting in the midst of one of those domestic miniature palaces, of which the "interiors" of London could present so great a number. Mrs Vincent had lately become a widow, at the opening of our narrative, and was therefore still dressed in black. But though in black, or rather perhaps on that very account, her attire was peculiarly costly. In black only can magnificence of apparel be perfectly allied with purity of taste. And certainly nothing could harmonize better than the rich satin dress, and the superb scarf of lace which fell over it with such a gorgeous levity. A pope in his highest day of festival might have coveted that lace. Between the black satin and the light folds of the scarf, relieved by the one, and tempered, and sometimes half hidden by the other, played a diamond cross, which might have been the ransom of a Great Mogul. The features of Mrs Vincent were remarkably delicate, and her pale beauty was of that order which especially interests the imagination. She wore her hair plainly parted upon either side, revealing the charming contour of her well-shaped head. A patriarch would have gloried in his age if it gave him the privilege to take that dear head between his hands, and imprint his holy kiss upon the forehead. Her little girl, her sole companion and chief treasure in the world, stood prattling before her; and the beauty of the young mother was tenfold increased by the utter forgetfulness of herself, which she manifested as she bent over her child, absorbed in the beauty of that dear little image which she was never weary of caressing.

Mrs Vincent was even more fascinating in manner than in appearance. She was one of those charming little personages whom every one idolizes, whom men and women alike consent to pet. It was impossible to be in the same room with her half an hour without being perfectly ready to do every thing, reasonable or unreasonable, that she could request of you. The charm of her conversation, or rather of her society, was irresistible; there was a sweet subdued gaiety in her speech, accent, and gestures which made you happy, you knew not why; and though by no means a wit, nor laying the least claim to be a clever person, there was a sprightly music in her tones, and a spontaneous vivacity in her language, which left a far more delightful impression than the most decided wit.

Where shall we find a more beautiful picture than that of a young mother, and that mother a widow, bending over the glossy tresses of her child? Never is woman so attractive, so subduing; never does she so tenderly claim our protection; never is she so completely protected, so unassailable,[Pg 437] so predominant. Poor Simpson felt his heart penetrated with the holiest love and veneration when he entered the room.

Nothing could exceed the graceful and benevolent manner in which Mrs Vincent received him. He had been the tried friend of her father, the beloved tutor of her brother; he had lately been of signal service to herself. Mr Simpson was overpowered with his reception. The object of his visit seemed already accomplished. Hardly did it appear necessary to proceed with any verbal statement; surely she knew his position, and this was enough. She had been restored to her rights; she would not, she could not, allow him to suffer by an act which led to that restoration; still less would she consent to reap herself the benefit of an injustice perpetrated upon him.

Some explanation, however, of the object of his visit he found it necessary to make. When he had concluded the brief statement which he thought sufficient, the lady answered in the softest voice in the world—that she was sorry she could not enter upon that subject, as she had promised Sir John Steventon not to interfere between him and Mr Simpson—that Sir John had exacted this promise, and she had given it, as necessary to facilitate the arrangement of her affairs. What could she do, an unprotected woman, with the interests of her child depending upon her? She was bound, therefore, she regretted to say, not to intermeddle in the business. But then Mr Simpson could proceed with his legal remedies. She did not presume to pass an opinion upon the justice of his claim, or to advise him not to prosecute it.

In brief, she had given up the brave and honourable man, who had befriended her at the peril of his fortune, to the revenge of the wealthy, unscrupulous baronet, who had intended to defraud her. It was so agreeable to be on amicable terms with her father's executor.

Our mathematician doubted his ears. Yet so it was. And it was all repeated to him in the blandest manner in the world. She seemed to think that a duty to any one else but her child was out of the question. We believe that many interesting and beautiful mothers have the same idea.

Mr Simpson gasped for breath. Some quite general remark was the only one that rose to his lip. "You are angels—to look upon," he half-murmured to himself.

It was not in his disposition to play the petitioner, and still less to give vent to feelings of indignation, which would be thought to have their origin only in his own personal injuries. It was still surprise that was predominant in him, as at length he exclaimed—"But surely, madam, you do not understand this matter. This annuity was honestly won by long services rendered to your father, and to his son. Instead of receiving other payments, I had preferred to be finally remunerated in this form—it was my desire to obtain what in my humble ideas was an independence, that I might devote my life to science. Well, this annuity, it is my all—it stands between me and absolute penury—it is the plank on which I sail over the waters of life. I have, too, an object for my existence, which this alone renders possible. I have studies to pursue, discoveries to make. This sum of money is more than my life, it is my license to study and to think."

"Oh, but, Mr Simpson," interrupted the lady with a smile, "I understand nothing of mathematics."

Mr Simpson checked himself. No, she did not understand him. What was his love of science or his hope of fame to her? What to her was any one of the pains and pleasures that constituted his existence?

"Besides," added the lady, "you are a bachelor, Mr Simpson. You have no children. It can matter little"——

A grim smile played upon the features of the mathematician. He was probably about to prove to her, that as children are destined to become men, the interests of a man may not be an unworthy subject of anxiety. However important a person a child may be, a man is something more. But at this moment a servant entered, and announced Sir John Steventon!

On perceiving Mr Simpson, that gentleman was about to retreat, and with a look of something like distrust[Pg 438] at Mrs Vincent, he said that he would call again. "Nay, come in!" exclaimed the mathematician with a clear voice. "Come in! The lady has not broken her word, nor by me shall she be petitioned to do so. It is I who will quit this place. You have succeeded, Sir John, in your revenge—you have succeeded, and yet perhaps it is an imperfect success. You shall not rack the heart, though you should starve the body. You think, perhaps, I shall pursue you with objurgation or entreaty. You are mistaken. I leave you to the enjoyment of your triumph, and to the peace which a blunted conscience will, I know, bestow upon you."

Sir John muttered, in reply, that he could not debate matters of business, but must refer him to his solicitor.

"Neither personally," continued Mr Simpson, "nor by your solicitor, will you hear more of me. I shall forget you, Sir John. Whatever sufferings you may inflict, you shall not fill my heart with bitterness. Your memory shall not call forth a single curse from me. Approach. Be friendly to this lady. Be mutually courteous, bland, and affable—what other virtues do you know?"

He strode out of the room. His parting word was no idle boast. Sir John heard of him and of his just claims no more; and the brave-hearted man swept the memory of the villain from his soul. He would not have it there.

The baronet soothed his conscience, if it ever gave him any uneasiness, by the supposition that the aged mathematician had found some pupils—that probably he eked out as comfortable a subsistence as before, and had only exchanged the dreamy pursuit of scientific fame, for the more practical labours of tuition. But no such fortune attended Mr Simpson. He had lived too long out of the world to find either friends or pupils, and the more manifest his poverty, the more hopeless became his applications. Meanwhile, utter destitution stood face to face before him. Did he spend his last coin in the purchase of the mortal dose? Did he leap at night from any of the bridges of the metropolis? He was built of stouter stuff. He collected together his manuscripts, a book or two, which had happily for him been unsaleable, his ink-bottle and an iron pen, and marched straight—to the parish workhouse. There was no refusing his claim here. Poverty and famine were legible in every garment, and on every feature. In that asylum he ended his days, unknown, unsought for.

One of his companions, dressed like himself, in the workhouse costume, who had gathered that he was the sufferer by some act of injustice of a rich oppressor, thought, on one occasion, to console him by the reflection, that his wrongdoer would certainly suffer for it in the next world—in his own energetic language, that he would certainly be d——d.

"Not on my account—not, I hope, on my account," said the mathematician, with the greatest simplicity in the world. "No revenge either here or hereafter. But if civil government deserved the name, it would have given me justice now. Had I been robbed of sixpence on the highway, there would have been hue and cry—the officers of government would not have rested till they had found and punished the culprit. I am robbed of all; and, because I am poor and unfriended—circumstances which make the loss irremediable—the law puts forth no hand to help me. Men will prate about the expense—the burden on the national revenue—as if justice to all were not the very first object of government—as if—but truce to this. My good friend, you see these fragments of snuff that I have collected—could you get them exchanged for me for a little ink?"

[Pg 439]


Part XX.

"Have I not in my time heard lions roar?
Have I not heard the sea, puft up with wind,
Rage like an angry boar chafed with sweat?
Have I not heard great ordnance in the field,
And Heaven's artillery thunder in the skies? Have I not in the pitched battle heard
Loud 'larums, neighing steeds, and trumpets clang?"


As my mission was but temporary, and might be attended with personal hazard, I had left Clotilde in England, much to her regret, and travelled with as small a retinue as possible; and in general by unfrequented ways, to avoid the French patroles which were already spread through the neighbourhood of the high-roads. But, at Burgos, the Spanish commandant, on the delivery of my passport, insisted so strongly on the necessity for an escort, placing the wish on a feeling of his personal responsibility, in case of my falling into the enemy's hands, that to save the señor's conscience, or his commission, I consented to take a few troopers, with one of his aides-de-camp, to see me in safety through the Sierra Morena.

The aide-de-camp was a character; a little meagre being, who, after a long life of idleness and half-pay, was suddenly called into service; and now figured in a staff-coat and feather. His first commission had been in the luckless expedition of Count O'Reilly against the Moors; and it had probably served him as a topic, from that time to the moment when he pledged his renown for my safe delivery into the hands of the junta of Castile. He had three leading ideas, which formed the elements of his body and soul,—his exploits in the Moorish campaign; his contempt for the monks; and his value for the talents, courage, and fame of Don Ignacio Trueno Relampago, the illustrious appellative of the little aide-de-camp himself. He talked without mercy as we rode along; and gave his opinions with all the easy conviction of an "officer on the staff," and all the freedom of the wilderness. The expedition to Africa had failed solely for want of adopting "the tactics which he would have advised;" and his public services in securing the retreat would have done honour to the Cid, or to Alexander the Great, had not "military jealousy refused to transmit them to the national ear." His opinion of Spanish politics was, that they owed their occasional mistakes solely to the culpable negligence of the war-minister "in overlooking the gallant subalterns of the national army." Spain he regarded as the natural sovereign of Europe; and, of course, of all mankind—its falling occasionally into the background being satisfactorily accounted for by the French descent of her existing dynasty, by the visible deterioration in the royal manufacture of cigars, and, more than either, "by the tardiness of military promotion." This last grievance was the sting. "If justice had been done," exclaimed the new-feathered warrior, rising in his stirrups, and waving his hand, as if he was in the act of cleaving down a Moor, "I should long since have been a general. If I had been a general, the armies of Spain would long since have been on a very different footing. Men of merit would have been placed in their proper positions; the troops would have emulated the exploits of their forefathers in the age of Ferdinand and Isabella; and, instead of receiving a king from France, we should have given her one; while, instead of seeing a French emperor carrying off our princes, as the hawk carries off pigeons, or as a gipsy picks your pocket under pretence of telling your fortune, we should have been garrisoning Paris with our battalions, and sending a viceroy to the Tuileries."

I laughed; but my ill-timed mirth had nearly cost me an "affair of honour" with the little regenerator. His hand was instantly on the hilt of his sword, and every wrinkle on his brown visage was swelling with wrath; when my better genius prevailed, He[Pg 440] probably recollected that he was sent as my protector, and that the office would not have been fulfilled according to his instructions, by running me through the midriff. But, with all his pomposity, he had the national good-nature; and when we sat down to our chicken and bottle of Tinto in one of those delicious valleys, he was full of remorse for his burst of patriotic temper.

The day had been a continued blaze of sunshine, the road a burning sand, and the contrast of the spot where we made our halt was tempting. The scene was rich and riant, the evening lovely, and the wine good. I could have reposed there for a month, or a year, or for ever. It would have been enough to make a man turn hermit; and I instinctively gazed round, to look for the convent which "must lie" in so luxurious a site. My companion informed me that I was perfectly right in my conjecture, that spot having been the position of one of the richest brotherhoods of Spain. But its opulence had been unluckily displayed in rather too ostentatious a style in the eyes of a French brigade; who, in consequence, packed up the plate in their baggage, and, in the course of a tumult which followed with the peasantry, burned the building to the ground.

Yet, this misfortune was the source of but slight condolence on the part of my friend. He was perfectly of the new school. "They were Theatines," said he—"as bad as the Jesuits in every thing but hypocrisy—powerful, insolent, bold-faced knaves; and after their robbing me of the inheritance of my old, rich uncle, which one of those crafty padres contrived to make the old devotee give them on his death-bed, I had dry eyes for their ill luck. But, I suppose," added he, "you know their creed?" I acknowledged my ignorance. "Well, you shall hear it. It is incomparably true; though, whether written for them by Moratin or Calderon, I leave to the antiquarians." He then chanted it in the style of the monkish service, and with gesticulations, groans, and upturning of eyes, which strongly gave me the idea that he had employed his leisure, if not relieved his sense of the war-minister's neglect, by exerting his talents as the "Gracioso" of some strolling company. The troopers gathered round us, with that odd mixture of familiarity and respect which belongs to all the lower ranks of Spain; and the performer evidently acquired new spirits from the laughter of his audience, as he dashingly sang his burlesque:—


Los mandamientos de los Teatinos,[6].
Mas humanos son que divinos.
Coro.—Tra lara, tra lara.

Primo—Adquirir mucho dinero. Tra lara, &c.
Segundo—Sujetar todo il mondo. Tra lara, &c.
Tercero—Buen capon, buen carnero. Tra lara, &c.
Quarto—Comprar barato, y vender caro. Tra lara, &c.
Quinto—Con el blanco aguar el tinto. Tra lara, &c.
Sexto—Tener siempre el lomo en siesto. Tra lara, &c.
[Pg 441]Septimo—Guardase bien del sereno. Tra lara, &c.
Octavo—Obrar la suya, y lo ageno. Tra lara, &c.
Nono—Hazar del penitente esclavo. Tra lara, &c.
Decimo—Mesclarse en cosas d'estado. Tra lara, &c.

Coro.—Estes diez mandamientos se encierran en dos—
Todo para mi, y nada para vos.
Tra lara, tra lara, &c.

The whole performance was received with an applause which awoke the little aide-de-camp's genius to such an extent, that he volunteered to sing some stanzas of his own, immeasurably more poignant. He was in the act of filling a bumper to the "downfall of all monkery on the face of the earth," when the report of a musket was heard, and the bottle was shivered in his hand. The honour of Don Ignacio Trueno Relampago was never in greater danger, for he instantly turned much whiter than his own pocket-handkerchief: but the Spaniard is a brave fellow, after all; and seeing that I drew out my pistols, he drew his sword, ordered his troopers to mount, and prepared for battle. But, who can fight against fortune? Our horses, which had been picketed at a few yards' distance in the depth of the shade, were gone. A French battalion of tirailleurs, accidentally coming on our route, had surrounded the grove, and carried off the horses unperceived, while our gallant troopers were chorusing the songster. The sentinel left in charge of them had, of course, given way to the allurements of "sweet nature's kind restorer, balmy sleep," and awoke only to find himself in French hands. Don Ignacio would have fought a legion of fiends; but seven hundred and fifty sharpshooters were a much more unmanageable affair; and on our holding a council of war, (which never fights,) and with a whole circle of bayonets glittering at our breasts, I advised a surrender without loss of time. The troopers were already disarmed, and the Don, appealing to me as evidence that he had done all that could be required by the most punctilious valour, surrendered his sword with the grace of a hero of romance. The Frenchmen enjoyed the entire scene prodigiously, laughed a great deal, drank our healths in our own bottles, and finished by a general request that the Don would indulge them with an encore of the chant which had so tickled their ears during their advance in the wood. The Don complied, malgrè, bongrè; and at the conclusion of this feat, the French colonel, resolved not to be outdone in any thing, called on one of his subalterns for a song. The subaltern hopelessly searched his memory for its lyrical stores; but after half a dozen snatches of "chansons," and breaking down in them all, he volunteered, in despair, what he pronounced, "the most popular love-song in all Italy." Probably not a syllable of it was understood by any one present but myself; yet this did not prevent its being applauded to the skies, and pronounced one of the most brilliant specimens of Italian sensibility. It was in Latin, and a fierce attack on the Jesuits, which the young officer, a palpable philosophe, had brought with him from the symposia of the "Ecole Polytechnique:"—

Mortem norunt animare[7]
Et tumultus suscitare,
Inter reges, et sedare.
[Pg 442]
Tanquam sancti adorantur,
Tanquam reges dominantur,
Tanquam fures deprædantur.

Dominantur temporale,
Dominantur spirituale,
Dominantur omnia male.

Hos igitur Jesuitas,
Heluones, hypocritas,
Fuge, si cælestia quæras.

Vita namque Christiana
Abhorret ab hac doctrinâ,
Tanquam fictâ et insanâ.


The colonel of the tirailleurs was a complete specimen of the revolutionary soldier. He was a dashing figure, with a bronzed face; at least so much of it as I could discover through the most inordinate pair of mustaches ever worn by a warrior. He was ignorant of every thing on earth but his profession, and laughed at the waste of time in poring over books; his travelling-library consisting of but two—the imperial army-list, and the muster-roll of his regiment. His family recollections went no higher than his father, a cobbler in Languedoc. But he was a capital officer, and the very material for a chef-de-bataillon—rough, brave, quick, and as hardy as iron. Half a dozen scars gave evidence of his having shared the glories of France on the Rhine, the Po, and the Danube; and a cross of the Legion of Honour showed that his emperor was a different person from the object of Don Ignacio's cureless wrath, the war-minister who "made a point of neglecting all possible merit below that of a field-marshal."

The Frenchman, with all his, brusquerie, was civil enough to regret my capture, "peculiarly as it laid him under the necessity of taking me far from my route;" his regiment then making forced marches to Andalusia, to join Dupont's division; and for the purpose of secrecy, the strictest orders having been given that the prisoners which they might make in the way should be carried along with them. As I had forwarded my official papers from Galicia to Castile, and was regarded simply as an English tourist, I had no sense of personal hazard; and putting the best complexion which I could upon my misadventure, I rode along with the column over hill and dale, enjoying the various aspects of one of the most varied and picturesque countries in the world. Our marches were rapid, but chiefly by night; thus evading at once the intolerable heat of the Spanish day, and collisions with the people. We bivouacked in the shelter of woods, or in the shade of hills, during the sultry hours; and recommenced our march in the cool of[Pg 443] the eve, with short halts, until sunrise. Then we flung ourselves again under the shelter of the trees, and enjoyed those delights of rest and appetite, which are unknown to all but to the marchers and fasters for twelve hours together.

But, on our crossing the Sierra Morena, and taking the direction of Andalusia, the scene was wholly changed. The country was like one vast field of battle. The peasants were every where in arms, villages were seen burning along the horizon, and our constant vigilance was necessary to guard against a surprise. Every soldier who lay down to rest but a few yards from the column, or who attempted to forage in the villages, was sure to be shot or stilettoed; provisions were burned before our faces; and even where we were not actually fired on, the frowns of the population showed sufficiently that the evil day was at hand. At length we reached the range of hills which surround the plain of Cordova; yet only just in time to see the army of Dupont marching out from the city gates, in the direction of Andujar. As I stood beside the colonel, I could observe, by the knitting of his brow, that the movement did not satisfy his military sagacity. "What a quantity of baggage!" he murmured: "how will it be possible to carry such a train through the country, or how to fight, with such an encumbrance embarrassing every step? Unless the Spanish generals are the greatest fools on earth, or unless Dupont has a miracle worked for him, he must either abandon three-fourths of his waggons, or be ruined."

But I was now to have a nearer interest in the expedition. The battalion had no sooner joined the army on its advance, than I was ordered to appear before the chief of the staff. The language of this officer was brief, but expressive.

"You are a spy."

"You are misinformed. I am a gentleman and an Englishman."

"Look here." He produced a copy of my letter to the junta of Castile, which some clerk in the French pay had treacherously transmitted from Madrid. "What answer have you to this?"

I flung the letter on the table.

"What right have you to require an answer? I have not come voluntarily to the quarters of the French army; I am a prisoner; I am not even in a military capacity. You would only act in conformity to the law of nations by giving me my liberty this moment; and I demand that you shall do your duty."

"I shall do it! If you have any arrangements to make, you had better lose no time; for I wait only the general's signature to my report, to have you shot." He turned on his heel. A sergeant with a couple of grenadiers entered, and I was consigned for the night to the provost-marshal. How anxiously I spent that night, I need not say. I was in the hands of violent men, exasperated by the popular resistance, and accustomed to disregard life. I braced myself up to meet my untoward catastrophe, and determined at least not to disgrace my country by helpless solicitation. I wrote a few letters, committed myself to a protection above the passions and vices of man, wrapped my cloak round me, and sank into a sound slumber.

I was aroused by a discharge of cannon, and found the camp in commotion. The Spaniards, under Reding and Castanos, had, as the colonel anticipated, fallen upon our line of march at daybreak, and cut off a large portion of the baggage-train. It had been loaded with the church-plate, and general plunder of Cordova; and the avarice of the French had obviously involved them in formidable difficulty. But, even in the universal tumult, the importance of my seizure was not forgotten; and I was ordered to the rear in charge of a guard. The action now began on all sides; the cannonade rapidly deepening on the flank and centre of the French position, and the musketry already beginning to rattle on various points of the line. From the height on which I stood, the whole scene lay beneath my eye; and nothing could have been better worth the speculation of any man—who was not under sentence of being shot as soon as the struggle was over!

I was aware of the reputation of the French general. He held a high name among the braves of the imperial army for the last ten years, and he had been[Pg 444] foremost everywhere. In the desperate Italian campaign against the Austrians and Russians; in the victorious campaign of Austerlitz; in the sanguinary campaign of Eylau—Dupont was one of the most daring of generals of brigade. But his pillage of Cordova had roused the Spanish wrath into fury; and the effort to carry off his plunder made it impossible for him to resist a vigorous attack, even with his twenty thousand veterans. He had indulged himself in Cordova, until the broken armies of the south had found time to rally; and a force of fifty thousand men was now rushing down upon his centre. The hills, as far as the eye could range, were covered with the armed peasantry, moving like dark clouds over their sides, and descending by thousands to the field. The battle now raged furiously in the centre, and the charges of the French cavalry made fearful gaps in the Spanish battalions. At length, the rising of the dust on the right showed that a strong column was approaching, which might decide the day. My heart beat slow as I saw the tricolor floating above its bayonets. It was the advanced guard, with Dupont at its head—a force of three thousand men, which had returned rapidly on its steps, as soon as the sound of the attack had reached it. It was boldly resisted by the Swiss and Walloon brigades of the Spanish line: but the French fire was heavy, its manœuvre was daring, and I began to fear for the fate of the day; when a loud explosion, and a hurried movement at the extreme of the French position, turned my eyes to the left wing. There the Spanish attack had swept every thing before it. Brigade after brigade was giving way, and the country was covered with scattered horsemen, infantry retiring in disorder, and broken and captured guns. The peasantry, too, had joined in the pursuit, and the wing seemed utterly ruined. To retrieve this disorder was now hopeless, for the French general had extended his line to the extraordinary length of ten miles. His baggage-train was his ruin. The whole Spanish line now advanced, shouting, and only halting at intervals to cannonade the enemy. The French returned a feeble fire, and began to retreat. But retreat was now impossible, and they must fight, or be massacred. At this moment I saw an officer, from the spot where Dupont sat on his charger surrounded by his staff, gallop between the two armies. He was met by a Spanish officer. The firing ceased. Dupont had surrendered, with all the troops in Andalusia!

I was now at liberty, and I was received by the Spanish commander-in-chief with the honours due to my mission and my country. After mutual congratulations on this most brilliant day, I expressed my wish to set off for Madrid without delay. An escort of cavalry was ordered for me, and by midnight I had left behind me the slaughter and the triumph, the noblest of Spanish fields, the immortal Baylen!

The night was singularly dark; and as the by-roads of the Peninsula are confessedly among the most original specimens of the road-making art, our attention was chiefly occupied, for the first hour, in finding our way in Indian file. At length, on the country's opening, I rode forward to the head of the troops, and addressed some questions, on our distance from the next town, to the officer. He at once pronounced my name, and my astonishment was not less than his own. In the commandant of the escort I found my gallant, though most wayward, young friend, Mariamne's lover, Lafontaine! His story was brief. In despair of removing her father's reluctance to their marriage, and wholly unable to bring over Mariamne to his own opinion, that she would act the wiser part in taking the chances of the world along with himself, he had resolved to enter the Russian or the Turkish service, or any other in which he had the speediest probability of ending his career by a bullet or a sabre-blow. The accidental rencontre of one of his relations, an officer high in the Spanish service, had led him into the Peninsula; where, as a Royalist, he was warmly received by a people devoted to their kings; and had just received a commission in the cavalry of the guard, when the French war broke out. He felt no scruples in acting as a soldier of Spain; for, with the death of Louis, he had regarded all ties as broken, and he was now a citizen of the world. I ventured to mention the name of Mariamne; and I[Pg 445] found that, there at least, the inconstancy charged on his nation had no place. He spoke of her with eloquent tenderness, and it was evident that, with all his despair of ever seeing her again, she still held the first place in his heart. In this wandering, yet by no means painful, interchange of thoughts, we moved on for some hours; when one of the advanced troopers rode back, to tell us that he had heard shots in the distance, and other sounds of struggle. We galloped forward, and from the brow of the next hill saw flames rising from a village in the valley beneath, and a skirmish going on between some marauding troops and the peasantry. Lafontaine instantly ordered an advance; and our whole troop were soon in the centre of the village, busily employed with the pistol and sabre. The French, taken by surprise, made but a slight resistance, and, after a few random shots, ran to a neighbouring wood. But as I was looking round, to congratulate my friend on his success, I saw him, to my infinite alarm, reel in his saddle, and had only time to save him from falling to the ground.

The accommodation of the Ventas and Posadas is habitually wretched, and I demanded whether there was not a house of some hidalgo in the neighbourhood, to which the wounded officer might be carried. One of the last shots of the skirmish had struck him in the arm, and he was now fainting with pain. The house was pointed out, and we carried my unfortunate friend there, in a swoon. Even in that moment of anxiety, and with scarcely more than the first dawn to guide us, I could not help being struck with the cultivated beauty of the avenue through which we passed, and the profusion and variety of the flowers, which now began to breathe their opening incense to the dawn. The house was old, but large and handsome, and the furniture of the apartment into which we were shown, was singularly tasteful and costly. Who the owner was, was scarcely known among the bold fellows who accompanied us; but by their pointings to their foreheads, and their making the sign of the cross at every repetition of my enquiries, I was inclined to think him some escaped lunatic. I shortly, however, received a message from him, to tell me, that so soon as the crowd should be dismissed, he would visit the officer. The apartment was cleared and he came. This was a new wonder for me. It was Mordecai that entered the room. The light was still so imperfect, that for awhile he could not recognise either of us; and when I advanced to take his hand, and addressed him by his name, he started back as if he had trod upon a snake. However, his habitual presence of mind soon enabled him to answer all my enquiries, and, among the first, one for the health and happiness of his daughter. Fearful of the effects of his intelligence, whether good or evil, on the nerves of Lafontaine, who still lay on the sofa, almost invisible in the dusk, I begged to follow him to another room, and there I listened to his whole anxious history since our parting.—Mariamne had suddenly grown discontented with Poland; which to Mordecai himself had become a weary residence, from the ravages of the French war. For some reason, unaccountable to me, said the old man, she set her heart upon Spain, and had now been domiciled in this secluded spot for a year. But she was visibly fading away. She read and wrote much, and was even more attached to her harp and her flowers than ever; yet declared that she had bid farewell to the world. The father wept as he spoke, but his were the tears of sorrow rather than of anguish. They stole quietly down his cheeks, and showed that the stern and haughty spirit was subdued within him. I had not ventured to allude to Lafontaine; but the current of his own thoughts at length led to that forbidden topic. "I am afraid, Mr Marston," said he, "that I have been too harsh with my child. I looked for her alliance with some of the opulent among my own kindred; or I should have rejoiced if your regards had been fixed on her, and hers on you. And in those dreams, I forgot that the affections must choose for themselves. I had no objection to the young Frenchman, but that he was a stranger, and was poor.—Yet are not we ourselves strangers? and if he was poor, was not I rich? But all is over now; and I shall only have to follow my poor[Pg 446] Mariamne, where I should have much rather preceded her,—to the grave."

I now requested to see Mariamne. She met me with almost a cry of joy, and with a cheek of sudden crimson; but, when the first flush passed away, her looks gave painful proof of the effect of solitude and sorrow. The rounded beauty of her cheek was gone, her eyes, once dancing with every emotion, were fixed and hollow, and her frame, once remarkable for symmetry, was thin and feeble. But, her heart was buoyant still, and when I talked of past scenes and recollections, her eye sparkled once more. Still, her manner was changed—it was softer and less capricious; her language, even her voice, was subdued; and more than once I saw a tear stealing on her eye. At length, after hearing some slight detail of her wanderings, and her fears that the troubles of Spain might drive her from a country in whose genial climate and flowery fields "she had hoped to end her days;" I incidentally asked—whether, in all her wanderings, she had heard of "my friend, Lafontaine." How impossible is it to deceive the instinct of the female heart! The look which she gave me, the searching glance of her fine eyes, which flashed with all their former lustre, and the sudden quivering of her lip, told me how deeply his image was fixed in her recollection. She saw at once that I had tidings of her lover; and she hung upon the hand which I held out to her, with breathless and beseeching anxiety. After some precautions, I revealed to her the facts—that he was as faithfully devoted to her as ever, and—that he was even under her roof!

I leave the rest of her story to be conjectured. I shall only say, that I saw her made happy; the burden taken off her spirits which had exhausted her frame; her former vivacity restored, her eye sparkling once more; and even the heart of her father cheered, and acknowledging "that there was happiness in the world, if men did not mar it for themselves." The "course of true love" had, at last, "run smooth." I was present at the marriage of Lafontaine. The trials of fortune had been of infinite service to him; they had sobered his eccentricity, taught him the value of a quiet mind, and prepared him for that manlier career which belongs to the husband and the father. I left them, thanking me in all the language of gratitude, promising to visit me in England.

My mission to the junta was speedily and successfully accomplished. Spain, in want of every thing but that which no subsidy could supply, a determination to die in the last intrenchment, was offered arms, ammunition, and the aid of an English army. In her pride, and yet a pride which none could blame, she professed herself able to conquer by her own intrepidity. Later experience showed her, by many a suffering, the value of England as the guide, sustainer, and example of her national strength. But Spain had still the gallant distinction of being the first nation which, as one man, dared to defy the conqueror of all the great military powers of the Continent. The sieges of Saragossa and Gerona will immortalize the courage of the Spanish soldier; the guerilla campaigns will immortalize the courage of the Spanish peasant; and the memorable confession of the French Emperor, that "Spain was his greatest error, and his ultimate ruin," is a testimonial more lasting than the proudest trophy, to the magnanimous warfare of the Peninsula.

This was the Crisis. The spirit of the whole European war now assumed a bolder, loftier, and more triumphant form. A sudden conviction filled the general heart, that the fortunes of the field were about to change. Nations which had, till then, been only emulous in prostration to the universal conqueror, now assumed the port of courage, prepared their arms, and longed to try their cause again in battle. The outcry of Spain, answered by the trumpet of England, pierced to the depths of that dungeon in which the intrigue and the power of France had laboured to inclose the continental nations. The war of the Revolution has already found historians, of eloquence and knowledge worthy of so magnificent an era of human change. But, to me, the chief interest arose from its successive developments of the European mind. The whole period was a continued awakening of faculties, hitherto almost unknown, in the great body of the[Pg 447] people. The first burst of the Revolution, like the first use of gunpowder, had only shown the boundless force of a new element of destruction. The Spanish insurrection showed its protecting and preservative power. The tremendous energy which seemed to defy all control, was there seen effecting the highest results of national defence, and giving proof of the irresistible strength provided in the population of every land. What nation of Europe does not possess a million of men for its defence; and what invader could confront a million of men on their own soil? Let this truth be felt, and aggression becomes hopeless, and war ceases to exist among men.

For the first time in the history of war, it was discovered, that the true force of kingdoms had been mistaken—a mistake which had lasted for a thousand years; that armies were but splendid machines; and that, while they might be crushed by the impulse of machines more rapid, stronger, and more skilfully urged, nothing could crush the vigour of defence, while it was supplied by a people.

The levée en masse of France was but the rudest, as it was the earliest, form of the new discovery. There, terror was the moving principle. The conscription was the recruiting-officer. The guillotine was the commander who manœuvred the generals, the troops, and the nation. Yet, the revolutionary armies differed in nothing from the monarchical, but in the superiority of their numbers, and the inferiority of their discipline.

The war of Spain was another, and a nobler advance. It was the war of a nation. In France the war was the conspiracy of a faction. In Spain the loss of the capital only inflamed the hostility of the provinces. In France the loss of the capital would have extinguished the Revolution; as it afterwards extinguished the Empire. I think that I can see the provision for a still bolder and more beneficent advance, even in those powerful developments of national capabilities. It will, perhaps, be left to other nations. Spain and France have a yoke upon their minds, which will disqualify them both from acting the nobler part of guides to Europe. Superstition contains in itself the canker of slavery; perfect freedom is essential to perfect power; and the nation which, from the cradle, prostrates itself to the priest, must retain the early flexure of its spine. The great experiment must be reserved for a nobler public mind; for a people religious without fanaticism, and free without licentiousness; honouring the wisdom of their fathers, without rejecting the wisdom of the living age; aspiring but to the ministration of universal good, and feeling that its opulence, knowledge, and grandeur are only gifts for mankind.

The system of the war was now fully established. All the feelings of England were fixed on the Peninsula, and all the politics of her statesmen and their rivals were alike guided by the course of the conflict. The prediction was gallantly fulfilled—that the French empire would there expose its flank to English intrepidity; that the breaching battery which was to open the way to Paris, would be fixed on the Pyrenees; that the true sign of conquest was the banner of England.

The battle of the Ministry was fought in Spain, and as victoriously as the battle of our army. We saw Opposition gradually throw away its arms, and gradually diminish in the popular view, until its existence was scarcely visible. Successive changes varied the cabinet, but none shook its stability. Successive ministers sank into the grave, but the ministry stood. The spirit of the nation, justly proud of its triumphs, disdained to listen to the whispers of a party, who murmured defeat with victory before their eyes; who conjured up visions of ruin, only to be rebuked by realities of triumph; and to whom the national scorn of pusillanimity, and the national rejoicing in the proudest success, could not unteach the language of despair. Perceval, the overthrower of the Foxite ministry, perished; but the political system of the cabinet remained unchanged. Castlereagh perished—Liverpool perished; but the political system still remained. The successive pilots might give up the helm, but the course of the great vessel continued the same—guided by the same science, and making her way through sunshine, and through storm, to the same point of destination.

The three successive ministers were men of high ability for government,[Pg 448] though their character of ability exhibited the most remarkable distinctions. Perceval had been a lawyer, and had risen to the rank of attorney-general. In the House, he carried the acuteness, the logic, and even the manner, of his profession with him. Without pretending to the power of eloquence, he singularly possessed the power of conviction; without effecting changes in the theory of the constitution, he put its truths in a new light; and without a trace of bigotry, he defended, with conscientious vigour, the rights of the national religion. Sustaining a bold struggle at the head of the feeblest minority perhaps ever known in Parliament, he had shown unshaken courage and undismayed principle in the day of the Foxite supremacy. This defence was at length turned into assault, and his opponents were driven from power. His ministry was too brief for his fame. But, when he fell by the hand of a maniac, he left a universal impression on the mind of the empire, that the blow had deprived it of a great ministerial mind.

Lord Castlereagh exhibited a character of a totally different order, yet equally fitted for his time. An Irishman, he had the habitual intrepidity of his countrymen, combined with the indefatigable diligence of England. Nobly connected, and placed high in public life by that connexion, he showed himself capable of sustaining his ministerial rank by personal capacity. Careless of the style of his speeches, he was yet a grave, solid, and fully-informed debater. But it was in the council that his value to the country was most acknowledged. His conception of the rights, the influence, and the services of England, was lofty; and, when the period came for deciding on her rank in the presence of continental diplomacy, he was her chosen, and her successful, representative. His natural place was among the councils of camps, where sovereigns were the soldiers. The "march to Paris" was due to his courage; and the first fall of Napoleon was effected by the ambassador of England.

Lord Liverpool was a man equally fitted for his time. The war had triumphantly closed. But, a period of perturbed feelings and financial necessities followed. It required in the minister a combination of sound sense and practical vigour—of deference for the public feelings, yet respect for the laws—of promptitude in discovering national resources, and yet of firmness in repelling factious change. The head of the cabinet possessed those qualities. Without brilliancy, without eloquence, without accomplished literature; still, no man formed his views with a clearer intelligence; and no man pursued them with more steady determination. Perhaps disdaining the glitter of popularity, no minister, for the last half century, had been so singularly exempt from all the sarcasms of public opinion. The nation relied on his sincerity, honoured his purity of principle, and willingly confided its safety to hands which none believed capable of a stain.

But the characters of those three ministers were striking in a still higher point of view. Their qualities seem to have been expressly constructed to meet the peculiar exigency of their times. Perceval—acute, strict, and with strong religious conceptions—to meet a period, when religious laxity in the cabinet had already enfeebled the defence of the national religion. Castlereagh—stately, bold, and high-toned—to meet a period, when the fate of Europe was to be removed from cabinets to the field, and when he was to carry the will of England among assembled monarchs. Liverpool—calm, rational, and practical; the man of conscience and common sense—for the period, when the great questions of religion had been quieted, the great questions of the war had died with the war, and when the supreme difficulty of government was, to reconcile the pressure of financial exigency with the progress of the people—to invigorate the public frame without inflaming it by dangerous innovation—and to reconstruct the whole commercial constitution, without infringing on those principles which had founded the prosperity of the empire.

At length the consummation came: the French empire fell on the field by the hand of England. All the sovereigns of Europe rushed in to strip the corpse, and each carried back a portion of the spoils. But the conqueror was content with the triumph, and asked no more of glory than the liberation of mankind.

While all was public exultation for[Pg 449] this crowning event, fortune had not neglected to reward the gentler virtues of one worthy of its noblest gifts. In my first campaign with the Prussian troops in France, I had intrusted to the care of the old domestic whom I found in the Chateau de Montauban, an escritoire and a picture, belonging to the family of Clotilde. The old man had disappeared; and I took it for granted that he had been plundered, or had died.

But one day, after my return from one of those splendid entertainments with which the Regent welcomed the Allied sovereigns, I found Clotilde deeply agitated. The picture of her relative was before her, and she was gazing at its singularly expressive and lovely countenance with intense interest.

She flew into my arms. "I have longed for your coming," said she, with glowing lips and tearful eyes, "to offer at least one proof of gratitude for years of the truest protection, and the most generous love. Michelle, the husband of my nurse, has arrived; and he tells me, that this escritoire contains the title-deeds of my family. I was resolved that you alone should open it. In the frame of that picture, in a secret drawer, is the key." The spring was touched, the key was found; and in the little chest was discovered, untouched by chance or time, the document entitling my beautiful and high-hearted wife to one of the finest possessions in France. By a singular instance of good fortune, the property had not been alienated, like so many of the estates of the noblesse; and it now lay open to the claims of the original proprietorship. I hastened to Paris. My claim was acknowledged by the returned Bourbon, and Clotilde had the delight of once more sitting under the vine and the fig-tree of her ancestors. The old domestic had made it the business of years to obtain the means of reaching England. But the war had placed obstacles in his way every where, and he devoted himself thenceforth to the guardianship of his precious deposit, as the duty of his life. He was almost pathetic, in his narration of the hazards to which it had been exposed in the perpetual convulsions of the country, and in the rejoicing with which he felt himself at last enabled to place it in the hands of its rightful mistress, the last descendant of the noble house of De Tourville.—But I had still to experience another gift of fortune.

On the evening of my birth-day, Clotilde had given a rustic fête to the children of her tenantry; and all were dancing in front of the chateau, with the gaiety and with the grace which nature seems to have conferred as an especial gift on even the humblest classes of France.

The day was one of the luxury of summer. The landscape before me was a rich extent of plain and hill; the fragrance of the vast gardens of the chateau as rising as the twilight approached; my infants were clustering round my knee; and in that thankfulness of heart, which is not less sincere for its not being expressed in words, I came to the conclusion, that no access of wealth, or of honours, could add to my substantial happiness at that hour.

My reverie was broken by the sound of a calèche driving up the avenue. A courier alighted from it, who brought a letter with a black seal, addressed to me. It was from the family solicitor. My noble brother had died in Madeira; where he had gone in the hopeless attempt to recruit a frame which he had exhausted by a life of excess. In that hour, I gave him the regrets which belonged to the tie of blood. I forgot his selfishness, and forgave his alienation. I thought of him only as the remembered playfellow of my early days; and could say in heart—"Alas, my brother!" The landscape before me at last sank into night; and with feelings darkened like it, yet calm and still, I saw the closing of a day which, painful as was the cause, yet called me to new duties, gave me a stronger hold upon society, and placed me in that position which I fully believe to combine more of the true materials of happiness and honour than any other on earth—that of an opulent English nobleman.

My brother, dying childless, had devolved the family estates to me, disburdened of the results of his prodigality; but I had still much to occupy me, in restoring them from the neglect of years. The life of the member of government was now to alter[Pg 450]nate with the life of the country gentleman; and my transfer to the House of Peers gave me the comparative leisure, essential to the fulfilment of the large and liberal duties which belong to the English landholder. To cheer the country life by rational hospitality; to make friends of those whom nature had made dependents; to sustain those laws which had turned England into a garden; and to protect that "bold peasantry," who ought to be the pride, as they are the strength of their country; to excite the country gentlemen to the scientific study of the noblest of all arts, as it was the first, the cultivation of the soil; to maintain among that gallant race a high sense of their purposes, their powers, and their position; to invigorate the principles which had made them the surest defenders of the throne in its day of adversity; and to fix in their minds by example, more effectual than precept, a solemn fidelity to the faith and to the freedom of their forefathers:—these were the objects which I proposed to myself, and which the loftiest intellect, or the amplest opulence, might be well employed in attempting to fulfil.

Those objects had been placed before England, from the day when the light of the Reformation broke through the darkness of a thousand years, and her brow was first designed for the diadem. By those she was made the universal protector of Europe, in its day of fugitive princes and falling thrones; and by those alone will be erected round her, if she shall remain true to her allegiance, a wall of fire, in the days of that approaching contest which shall bring the powers of good and evil front to front, in strength and hostility unknown before, and consummate the wars of the world.

Yet with those tranquil and retired pursuits, I still took my share in the activity of public life. I was still minister, and bore my part in the discussions of the legislature. But the great questions which had once sounded in my ear, like the call to battle in the ear of the warrior, had passed away. The minds that "rode in the whirlwind, and ruled the storm," had vanished with the storm. The surge had gone down; and neither the dangers of my earlier day, nor the powers which were summoned to resist them, were to be found in the living generation. Yet, let it not be thought that I regard the mind of England as exhausted, or even as exhaustible. The only distinction between the periods is, that one gave the impulse, and that the other only continues it. When peril comes again, we shall again see the development of power. We might as well doubt the existence of lightning, because the day is serene, the sun shining, and no cloud rolls across the heaven. But when the balance of the elements demands to be restored, we shall again be dazzled by the flash, and awed by the thunder.

But time has taught me additional lessons. I have learned to see a hand, in all its clouds, which guides man and kingdoms with more than human power. In these remembrances, I have spoken but little of religion. It belongs to the chamber more than to the council; and it is less honoured than humiliated by being brought idly before men. But by that light I have been able to see, where subtler minds have been blind. The man may be bewildered by the glare of the torch in his hand, who would have found his way by trusting to the milder lustre of the stars. In the great war of our time, the greatest since the fall of the Roman empire—the war of the French Revolution—I think, that I can trace a divine protection, distinctly given to England as the champion of justice, honour, and religion. I offer but the outline of this view; but to me the proof is demonstrative.—In every instance in which France aimed an especial blow at England, that blow was retorted by an especial retribution; while her assaults on the continental kingdoms were made with triumphant impunity.

I give the examples.—The French expedition to Egypt was formed with the express object of breaking down the influence of England in the East, and ultimately subverting her Indian empire—that expedition was the first which tarnished the military renown of the Republic, cost her a fleet, and lost her an army. Of the army which Napoleon led to Egypt, not a battalion returned to Europe but as the prisoners of England![Pg 451]

The French invasion of Spain was a blow aimed expressly at England. Its object was the invasion of England—the Spanish war broke down the military renown of the Empire, and was pronounced by Napoleon to be the origin of his ruin!

The invasion of Russia was a blow aimed expressly at England. Its object was the extinction of English commerce in the whole sea-line of the north—that invasion was punished, by the ruin of the whole veteran army of France!

Napoleon himself at length met the troops of England. He met them with an arrogant assumption of victory—"Ah! je les tiens, ces Anglais." Never was presumption more deeply punished. This single conflict destroyed him; his laurels, his diadem, and his dynasty, were blasted together!

It is not less memorable, that during the entire Revolutionary war, France was never suffered to inflict an injury on England; with one exception—the perfidious seizure of the English travelling in the French territories under the safeguard of the Imperial passports. But this, too, had its punishment—and one of the most especial and characteristic retribution—Napoleon himself was sent to a dungeon! By a fate unheard of even among fallen princes, the man who had treacherously made prisoners of the English was himself made a prisoner, was delivered into English hands, was consigned to captivity in an English island, and died the prisoner of England!

I speak of events like these, not in the spirit of superstition, nor in the fond presumption of being an interpreter of the mysterious ways of Providence. I record them, in a full consciousness of the immeasurable distance between the intellect of man and the wisdom of the supreme Disposer. But they convey, at least to my own feelings, a confidence, a solemn security, a calm yet ardent conviction, that chance has no share in the government of the world; that the great tide of things, in its rise and fall, has laws, which, if unapproached by the feebleness of human faculties, are not the less true, vast, and imperishable; that if, like the air, the agency of that ruling and boundless authority is invisible, we may yet feel its existence in its effects, rejoice in the acknowledgment of a power which nothing can exhaust, and take to our bosoms the high consolation, that the good of man is the supreme principle of the system.

Men actively employed in public life, are strangely apt to think that there is no progress outside their circle. But, on my return to Mortimer Castle, I found this conception amply confuted. The world had moved as rapidly in those shades, as in the centre of cabinets and courts. Time had done its work, in changing the condition of almost every human being whom I had known in my early days. The brothers and sisters, whom I had left children, were now in the full beauty of their prime; my brothers showy and stirring youths; my sisters fair and gentle girls, just reaching that period of life when the countenance and mind are in their bloom together, and the highborn woman of England is the loveliest perhaps in the world. The extravagance of my elder brother had dilapidated the provision intended for the younger branches of his house. My habits, learned in a sterner school, enabled me to retrieve their fortunes, and I thus secured a new tie to their regards. Justice is essential to all gratitude, and I found them ready to pay the tribute, to the full.

Among my first visits was one to my old friend and tutor, Vincent. I found him still resident on his living; and with spirits, on which time had wrought no change. Years had passed lightly over his head. His eye was as vivid, and his mind as active as ever. He perhaps stooped a little more, and his frame had lost something of that elasticity of step which had so often tried my young nerves in our ramblings over the hills. But he was the same cordial, animated, and high-toned being, in all his feelings, that I had seen him from the first hour. I found him in his garden, arranging, selecting, and enjoying his flower-beds with all the spirit of a horticulturist. But he apologised for what he termed, "its disorder." "For," said he, "I have lost all my gardeners." On my looking doubtful, "All my girls," said he, "are gone; all married; all[Pg 452] wedded to one neighbour or another. Such is the way in which I have been left alone." I made my condolences on his solitude, in due form. "Yet I am not quite solitary," added the gay old man, "after all; or my solitude depends upon myself. My girls are all married to our squires, honest fellows, and some of them well enough off in the world. But I made a stipulation, that none of them should marry out of sight from the gazebo on the top of yonder hill; and when I want their company, I have only to hoist a flag. You see that I have not altogether forgotten my days of the sabre and the signal-post; my telegraph works well, and I have them all trooping over here with the regularity of a squadron."

The approach of winter made the castle a scene of increased liveliness. I had always looked with strong distaste on the habit of flying to watering-places at the season when the presence of the leading families of a county is most important to the comforts of the tenantry, and to the intelligent and social intercourse of the higher ranks. I sent a request to Lafontaine and his wife, that they should perform their "covenant," and venture to see "how English life contrived to get through the dulness of its Decembers." My request was countersigned by Clotilde, and this was irresistible. They came, and were received with a joyous welcome. They too had undergone a change. Lafontaine was graver, and was much the better for his gravity. He was now the sincere and kind-hearted being for which nature had intended him. The coxcombry of French early life had disappeared, and left behind it only that general grace and spirit which makes the maturity of a foreign life its most interesting portion. Mariamne was still more advantageously changed. Her wild vivacity was less subdued than transformed into elegance of manner; her features were still handsome, travel had given her knowledge, and her natural talents had been cultivated by the solitary hours, in which but for that cultivation she might have sunk into the grave. She had brought with her, too, another remembrance, and one of that order which produces the most powerful effect upon the whole character of woman. She had brought her first-born, a lovely infant, in which her whole soul seemed to be absorbed, and in which she already discovered more beauties and good qualities than fate or fortune had ever given to human nature. But the centre of our circle, and the admiration and love of all, sat my wife, my generous, noble, pure-spirited Clotilde. Time, too, had wrought its change on her; but it was only to give her deeper claims on the feelings of a heart which could not imagine happiness without her. The heroine had wholly disappeared, and given place to the woman; the character of resistance to the shocks and frowns of fortune, which adversity had made essential perhaps to her being, had passed away with her day of suffering. She was now soft, mild, tender, and confiding. She often reminded me of some of those plants which, when exposed to the storm, contract and diminish their form and foliage; but, when sheltered, resume their original luxuriance and loveliness. Clotilde, in the sufferings of the emigration, in the terrors of the Revolution, and in the march through the Vendée, might have perished, but for that loftiness of soul which was awakened by the exigency of the trial. But now, surrounded with all the security of rank, and with opulence for her enjoyment, and with love to cherish her, she displayed the force of her nature only in the fondness of her affections. Thus surrounded, thus cheered, thus looked up to by beings whom I loved; what had I to ask for more? Nothing. I here close my page of life. I still vividly retain all the sense of duty, all the feeling of patriotism, and all the consciousness, that age will neither dull my heart towards those whom I have so long loved, nor shut up theirs to me. I believe in the possibility of friendship untainted by selfishness, and I am firm in the faith, of love that knows no decline. I look round me, and am serenely happy. I look above me, and am sacredly thankful.

[Pg 453]


I was confoundedly hard up. My patrimony, never of the largest, had been for the last year on the decrease—a herald would have emblazoned it, "Argent, a money-bag improper, in detriment"—and though the attenuating process was not excessively rapid, it was, nevertheless, proceeding at a steady ratio. As for the ordinary means and appliances by which men contrive to recruit their exhausted exchequers, I knew none of them. Work I abhorred with a detestation worthy of a scion of nobility; and, I believe, you could just as soon have persuaded the lineal representative of the Howards or Percys to exhibit himself in the character of a mountebank, as have got me to trust my person on the pinnacle of a three-legged stool. The rule of three is all very well for base mechanical souls; but I flatter myself I have an intellect too large to be limited to a ledger. "Augustus," said my poor mother to me, one day while stroking my hyacinthine tresses—"Augustus, my dear boy, whatever you do, never forget that you are a gentleman." The maternal maxim sunk deeply into my heart, and I never for a moment have forgotten it.

Notwithstanding this aristocratical resolution, the great practical question, "How am I to live?" began to thrust itself unpleasantly before me. I am one of that unfortunate class who have neither uncles nor aunts. For me, no yellow liverless individual, with characteristic bamboo and pigtail—emblems of half a million—returned to his native shores from Ceylon or remote Penang. For me, no venerable spinster hoarded in the Trongate, permitting herself few luxuries during a long-protracted life, save a lass and a lanthorn, a parrot, and the invariable baudrons of antiquity. No such luck was mine. Had all Glasgow perished by some vast epidemic, I should not have found myself one farthing the richer. There would have been no golden balsam for me in the accumulated woes of Tradestown, Shettleston, and Camlachie. The time has been when—according to Washington Irving and other veracious historians—a young man had no sooner got into difficulties than a guardian angel appeared to him in a dream, with the information that at such and such a bridge, or under such and such a tree, he might find, at a slight expenditure of labour, a gallipot secured with bladder, and filled with glittering tomauns; or in the extremity of despair, the youth had only to append himself to a cord, and straightaway the other end thereof, forsaking its staple in the roof, would disclose amidst the fractured ceiling the glories of a profitable pose. These blessed days have long since gone by—at any rate, no such luck was mine. My guardian angel was either woefully ignorant of metallurgy, or the stores had been surreptitiously ransacked; and as to the other expedient, I frankly confess I should have liked some better security for its result, than the precedent of the "Heir of Lynn."

It is a great consolation amidst all the evils of life, to know that, however bad your circumstances may be, there is always somebody else in nearly the same predicament. My chosen friend and ally, Bob M'Corkindale, was equally hard up with myself, and, if possible, more averse to exertion. Bob was essentially a speculative man—that is, in a philosophical sense. He had once got hold of a stray volume of Adam Smith, and muddled his brains for a whole week over the intricacies of the Wealth of Nations. The result was a crude farrago of notions regarding the true nature of money, the soundness of currency, and relative value of capital, with which he nightly favoured an admiring audience at "The Crow;" for Bob was by no means—in the literal acceptation of the word—a dry philosopher. On the contrary, he perfectly appreciated the merits of each distinct distillery; and was understood to be the compiler of a statistical work, entitled, A Tour through the Alcoholic Districts of Scotland. It had very early occurred to me, who knew as much of political[Pg 454] economy as of the bagpipes, that a gentleman so well versed in the art of accumulating national wealth, must have some remote ideas of applying his principles profitably on a smaller scale. Accordingly, I gave M'Corkindale an unlimited invitation to my lodgings; and, like a good hearty fellow as he was, he availed himself every evening of the license; for I had laid in a fourteen gallon cask of Oban whisky, and the quality of the malt was undeniable.

These were the first glorious days of general speculation. Railroads were emerging from the hands of the greater into the fingers of the lesser capitalists. Two successful harvests had given a fearful stimulus to the national energy; and it appeared perfectly certain that all the populous towns would be united, and the rich agricultural districts intersected, by the magical bands of iron. The columns of the newspapers teemed every week with the parturition of novel schemes; and the shares were no sooner announced than they were rapidly subscribed for. But what is the use of my saying any thing more about the history of last year? Every one of us remembers it perfectly well. It was a capital year on the whole, and put money into many a pocket. About that time, Bob and I commenced operations. Our available capital, or negotiable bullion, in the language of my friend, amounted to about three hundred pounds, which we set aside as a joint fund for speculation. Bob, in a series of learned discourses, had convinced me that it was not only folly, but a positive sin, to leave this sum lying in the bank at a pitiful rate of interest, and otherwise unemployed, whilst every one else in the kingdom was having a pluck at the public pigeon. Somehow or other, we were unlucky in our first attempts. Speculators are like wasps; for when they have once got hold of a ripening and peach-like project, they keep it rigidly for their own swarm, and repel the approach of interlopers. Notwithstanding all our efforts, and very ingenious ones they were, we never, in a single instance, succeeded in procuring an allocation of original shares; and though we did now and then make a hit by purchase, we more frequently bought at a premium, and parted with our scrip at a discount. At the end of six months, we were not twenty pounds richer than before.

"This will never do," said Bob, as he sat one evening in my rooms compounding his second tumbler. "I thought we were living in an enlightened age; but I find I was mistaken. That brutal spirit of monopoly is still abroad and uncurbed. The principles; of free-trade are utterly forgotten, or misunderstood. Else how comes it that David Spreul received but yesterday an allocation of two hundred shares in the Westermidden Junction; whilst your application and mine, for a thousand each, were overlooked? Is this a state of things to be tolerated? Why should he, with his fifty thousand pounds, receive a slapping premium, whilst our three hundred of available capital remains unrepresented? The fact is monstrous, and demands the immediate and serious interference of the legislature."

"It is a bloody shame," said I, fully alive to the manifold advantages of a premium.

"I'll tell you what, Dunshunner," rejoined M'Corkindale, "it's no use going on in this way. We haven't shown half pluck enough. These fellows consider us as snobs, because we don't take the bull by the horns. Now's the time for a bold stroke. The public are quite ready to subscribe for any thing—and we'll start a railway for ourselves."

"Start a railway with three hundred pounds of capital!"

"Pshaw, man! you don't know what you're talking about—we've a great deal more capital than that. Have not I told you seventy times over, that every thing a man has—his coat, his hat, the tumblers he drinks from, nay, his very corporeal existence—is absolute marketable capital? What do you call that fourteen-gallon cask, I should like to know?"

"A compound of hoops and staves, containing about a quart and a half of spirits—you have effectually accounted for the rest."

"Then it has gone to the fund of profit and loss, that's all. Never let me hear you sport those old theories again. Capital is indestructible, as I am ready to prove to you any day, in half an hour. But let us sit down seriously to business. We are rich[Pg 455] enough to pay for the advertisements, and that is all we need care for in the mean time. The public is sure to step in, and bear us out handsomely with the rest."

"But where in the face of the habitable globe shall the railway be? England is out of the question, and I hardly know a spot in the Lowlands that is not occupied already."

"What do you say to a Spanish scheme—the Alcantara Union? Hang me if I know whether Alcantara is in Spain or Portugal; but nobody else does, and the one is quite as good as the other. Or what would you think of the Palermo Railway, with a branch to the sulphur mines?—that would be popular in the North—or the Pyrenees Direct? They would all go to a premium."

"I must confess I should prefer a line at home."

"Well, then, why not try the Highlands? There must be lots of traffic there in the shape of sheep, grouse, and Cockney tourists, not to mention salmon and other et ceteras. Couldn't we tip them a railway somewhere in the west?"

"There's Glenmutchkin, for instance"——

"Capital, my dear fellow! Glorious! By Jove, first-rate!" shouted Bob in an ecstasy of delight. "There's a distillery there, you know, and a fishing village at the foot; at least there used to be six years ago, when I was living with the exciseman. There may be some bother about the population, though. The last laird shipped every mother's son of the original Celts to America; but, after all, that's not of much consequence. I see the whole thing! Unrivalled scenery—stupendous waterfalls—herds of black cattle—spot where Prince Charles Edward met Macgrugar of Glengrugar and his clan! We could not possibly have lighted on a more promising place. Hand us over that sheet of paper, like a good fellow, and a pen. There is no time to be lost, and the sooner we get out the prospectus the better."

"But, Heaven bless you, Bob, there's a great deal to be thought of first. Who are we to get for a provisional committee?"

"That's very true," said Bob musingly. "We must treat them to some respectable names, that is, good sounding ones. I'm afraid there is little chance of our producing a Peer to begin with?"

"None whatever—unless we could invent one, and that's hardly safe—Burke's Peerage has gone through too many editions. Couldn't we try the Dormants?"

"That would be rather dangerous in the teeth of the standing orders. But what do you say to a baronet? There's Sir Polloxfen Tremens. He got himself served the other day to a Nova Scotia baronetcy, with just as much title as you or I have; and he has sported the riband, and dined out on the strength of it ever since. He'll join us at once, for he has not a sixpence to lose."

"Down with him, then," and we headed the Provisional list with the pseudo Orange-tawney.

"Now," said Bob, "it's quite indispensable, as this is a Highland line, that we should put forward a Chief or two. That has always a great effect upon the English, whose feudal notions are rather of the mistiest, and principally derived from Waverley."

"Why not write yourself down as the Laird of M'Corkindale?" said I. "I daresay you would not be negatived by a counter-claim."

"That would hardly do," replied Bob, "as I intend to be Secretary. After all, what's the use of thinking about it? Here goes for an extempore Chief," and the villain wrote down the name of Tavish M'Tavish of Invertavish.

"I say, though," said I, "we must have a real Highlander on the list. If we go on this way, it will become a Justiciary matter."

"You're devilish scrupulous, Gus," said Bob, who, if left to himself, would have stuck in the names of the heathen gods and godesses, or borrowed his directors from the Ossianic chronicles, rather than have delayed the prospectus. "Where the mischief are we to find the men? I can think of no others likely to go the whole hog; can you?"

"I don't know a single Celt in Glasgow except old M'Closkie, the drunken porter at the corner of Jamaica Street."

"He's the very man! I suppose,[Pg 456] after the manner of his tribe, he will do any thing for a pint of whisky. But what shall we call him? Jamaica Street, I fear, will hardly do for a designation."

"Call him The M'closkie. It will be sonorous in the ears of the Saxon!"

"Bravo!" and another Chief was added to the roll of the clans.

"Now," said Bob, "we must put you down. Recollect, all the management—that is, the allocation—will be entrusted to you. Augustus—you haven't a middle name I think?—well, then, suppose we interpolate 'Reginald;' it has a smack of the Crusades. Augustus Reginald Dunshunner, Esq. of —— where, in the name of Munchausen?"

"I'm sure I don't know. I never had any land beyond the contents of a flower-pot. Stay—I rather think I have a superiority somewhere about Paisley."

"Just the thing," cried Bob. "It's heritable property, and therefore titular. What's the denomination?"

"St Mirrens."

"Beautiful! Dunshunner of St Mirrens, I give you joy! Had you discovered that a little sooner—and I wonder you did not think of it—we might both of us have had lots of allocations. These are not the times to conceal hereditary distinctions. But now comes the serious work. We must have one or two men of known wealth upon the list. The chaff is nothing without a decoy-bird. Now, can't you help me with a name?"

"In that case," said I, "the game is up, and the whole scheme exploded. I would as soon undertake to evoke the ghost of Crœsus."

"Dunshunner," said Bob very seriously, "to be a man of information, you are possessed of marvellous few resources. I am quite ashamed of you. Now listen to me. I have thought deeply upon this subject, and am quite convinced that with some little trouble we may secure the co-operation of a most wealthy and influential body—one, too, that is generally supposed to have stood aloof from all speculation of the kind, and whose name would be a tower of strength in the monied quarters. I allude," continued Bob, reaching across for the kettle, "to the great Dissenting Interest."

"The what?" cried I aghast.

"The great Dissenting Interest. You can't have failed to observe the row they have lately been making about Sunday travelling and education. Old Sam Sawley, the coffin-maker, is their principal spokesman here; and wherever he goes the rest will follow, like a flock of sheep bounding after a patriarchal ram. I propose, therefore, to wait upon him to-morrow, and request his co-operation in a scheme which is not only to prove profitable, but to make head against the lax principles of the present age. Leave me alone to tickle him. I consider his name, and those of one or two others belonging to the same meeting-house—fellows with bank-stock, and all sorts of tin—as perfectly secure. These dissenters smell a premium from an almost incredible distance. We can fill up the rest of the committee with ciphers, and the whole thing is done.

"But the engineer—we must announce such an officer as a matter of course."

"I never thought of that," said Bob. "Couldn't we hire a fellow from one of the steam-boats?"

"I fear that might get us into trouble: You know there are such things as gradients and sections to be prepared. But there's Watty Solder, the gasfitter, who failed the other day. He's a sort of civil engineer by trade, and will jump at the proposal like a trout at the tail of a May fly."

"Agreed. Now, then, let's fix the number of shares. This is our first experiment, and I think we ought to be moderate. No sound political economist is avaricious. Let us say twelve thousand, at twenty pounds a-piece."

"So be it."

"Well, then, that's arranged. I'll see Sawley and the rest to-morrow; settle with Solder, and then write out the prospectus. You look in upon me in the evening, and we'll revise it together. Now, by your leave, let's have in the Welsh rabbit and another tumbler to drink success and prosperity to the Glenmutchkin railway."

I confess, that when I rose on the morrow, with a slight headache and a tongue indifferently parched, I re[Pg 457]called to memory, not without perturbation of conscience, and some internal qualms, the conversation of the previous evening. I felt relieved, however, after two spoonfuls of carbonate of soda, and a glance at the newspaper, wherein I perceived the announcement of no less than four other schemes equally preposterous with our own. But, after all, what right had I to assume that the Glenmutchkin project would prove an ultimate failure? I had not a scrap of statistical information that might entitle me to form such an opinion. At any rate, Parliament, by substituting the Board of Trade as an initiating body of enquiry, had created a responsible tribunal, and freed us from the chance of obloquy. I saw before me a vision of six months' steady gambling, at manifest advantage, in the shares, before a report could possibly be pronounced, or our proceedings in any way overhauled. Of course I attended that evening punctually at my friend M'Corkindale's. Bob was in high feather; for Sawley no sooner heard of the principles upon which the railway was to be conducted, and his own nomination as a director, than he gave in his adhesion, and promised his unflinching support to the uttermost. The Prospectus ran as follows:—

In 12,000 Shares of L.20 each. Deposit L.1 per Share.
Provisional Committee.
SIR POLLOXFEN TREMENS, Bart. of Toddymains.
TAVISH M'TAVISH of Invertavish.
SAMUEL SAWLEY, Esq., Merchant.
PHELIM O'FINLAN, Esq. of Castle-rook, Ireland.
JOHN JOB JOBSON, Esq., Manufacturer.
EVAN M'CLAW of Glenscart and Inveryewky.
HABBAKUK GRABBIE, Portioner in Ramoth-Drumclog.
Engineer—WALTER SOLDER, Esq.
Interim Secretary—ROBERT M'CORKINDALE, Esq.

"The necessity of a direct line of Railway communication through the fertile and populous district known as the Valley of Glenmutchkin, has been long felt and universally acknowledged. Independent of the surpassing grandeur of its mountain scenery, which shall immediately be referred to, and other considerations of even greater importance, Glenmutchkin is known to the capitalist as the most important breeding station in the Highlands of Scotland, and indeed as the great emporium from which the southern markets are supplied. It has been calculated by a most eminent authority, that every acre in the strath is capable of rearing twenty head of cattle; and, as has been ascertained after a careful admeasurement, that there are not less than Two Hundred Thousand improvable acres immediately contiguous to the proposed line of Railway, it may confidently be assumed that the number of cattle to be conveyed along the line will amount to Four Millions annually, which, at the lowest estimate, would yield a revenue larger, in proportion to the capital subscribed, than that of any Railway as yet completed within the United Kingdom. From this estimate the traffic in Sheep and Goats, with which the mountains are literally covered, has been carefully excluded, it having been found quite impossible (from its extent) to compute the actual revenue to be drawn from that most important branch. It may, however, be roughly assumed as from seventeen to nineteen per cent upon the whole, after deduction of the working expenses.

"The population of Glenmutchkin is extremely dense. Its situation on the west coast has afforded it the means of direct communication with America, of which for many years the inhabitants have actively availed themselves. Indeed the amount of exportation of live stock from this part of the Highlands to the[Pg 458] Western continent, has more than once attracted the attention of Parliament. The Manufactures are large and comprehensive, and include the most famous distilleries in the world. The Minerals are most abundant, and amongst these may be reckoned quartz, porphyry, felspar, malachite, manganese, and basalt.

"At the foot of the valley, and close to the sea, lies the important village known as the Clachan of Inverstarve. It is supposed by various eminent antiquaries to have been the capital of the Picts, and, amongst the busy inroads of commercial prosperity, it still retains some interesting traces of its former grandeur. There is a large fishing station here, to which vessels from every nation resort, and the demand for foreign produce is daily and steadily increasing.

"As a sporting country Glenmutchkin is unrivalled; but it is by the tourists that its beauties will most greedily be sought. These consist of every combination which plastic nature can afford—cliffs of unusual magnitude and grandeur—waterfalls only second to the sublime cascades of Norway—woods, of which the bark is a remarkably valuable commodity. It need scarcely be added, to rouse the enthusiasm inseparable from this glorious glen, that here, in 1745, Prince Charles Edward Stuart, then in the zenith of his hopes, was joined by the brave Sir Grugar M'Grugar at the head of his devoted clan.

"The Railway will be twelve miles long, and can be completed within six months after the Act of Parliament is obtained. The gradients are easy, and the curves obtuse. There are no viaducts of any importance, and only four tunnels along the whole length of the line. The shortest of those does not exceed a mile and a half.

"In conclusion, the projectors of this Railway beg to state that they have determined, as a principle, to set their face against all Sunday Travelling whatsoever, and to oppose every bill which may hereafter be brought into Parliament, unless it shall contain a clause to that effect. It is also their intention to take up the cause of the poor and neglected Stoker, for whose accommodation, and social, moral, religious, and intellectual improvement a large stock of evangelical tracts will speedily be required. Tenders of these, in quantities of not less than 12,000, may be sent in to the interim secretary. Shares must be applied for within ten days from the present date.
"By order of the Provisional Committee,
"Robt. M'Corkindale, Secretary."

"There!" said Bob, slapping down the prospectus on the table, with the jauntiness of a Cockney vouchsafing a pint of Hermitage to his guests—"What do you think of that? If it doesn't do the business effectually, I shall submit to be called a Dutchman. That last touch about the stoker will bring us in the subscriptions of the old ladies by the score."

"Very masterly, indeed," said I. "But who the deuce is Mhic-Mhac-vich-Induibh?"

"A bona-fide chief, I assure you, though a little reduced: I picked him up upon the Broomielaw. His grandfather had an island somewhere to the west of the Hebrides; but it is not laid down in the maps."

"And the Captain of M'Alcohol?"

"A crack distiller."

"And the Factor for Glentumblers?"

"His principal customer. But, bless you, my dear St Mirrens! don't trouble yourself any more about the committee. They are as respectable a set—on paper at least—as you would wish to see of a summer's morning, and the beauty of it is that they will give us no manner of trouble. Now about the allocation. You and I must restrict ourselves to a couple of thousand shares a-piece. That's only a third of the whole, but it wont do to be greedy."

"But, Bob, consider! Where on earth are we to find the money to pay up the deposits?"

"Can you, the principal director of the Glenmutchkin Railway, ask me, the secretary, such a question? Don't you know that any of the banks will give us tick to the amount 'of half the deposits.' All that is settled already, and you can get your two thousand pounds whenever you please merely for the signing of a bill. Sawley must get a thousand according to stipulation—Jobson, Heckles, and Grabbie, at least five hundred a-piece, and another five hundred, I should think, will exhaust the remaining means of the committee. So that, out of our whole stock, there remain just five thousand shares to be allocated to the speculative and evangelical[Pg 459] public. My eyes! won't there be a scramble for them?"

Next day our prospectus appeared in the newspapers. It was read, canvassed, and generally approved of. During the afternoon, I took an opportunity of looking into the Tontine, and whilst under shelter of the Glasgow Herald, my ears were solaced with such ejaculations as the following:—

"I say, Jimsy, hae ye seen this grand new prospectus for a railway tae Glenmutchkin?"

"Ay—it looks no that ill. The Hieland lairds are pitting their best fit foremost. Will ye apply for shares?"

"I think I'll tak' twa hundred. Wha's Sir Polloxfen Tremens?"

"He'll be yin o' the Ayrshire folk. He used to rin horses at the Paisley races."

("The devil he did!" thought I.)

"D'ye ken ony o' the directors, Jimsy?"

"I ken Sawley fine. Ye may depend on't, it's a gude thing if he's in't, for he's a howkin' body."

"Then it's sure to gae up. What prem. d'ye think it will bring?"

"Twa pund a share, and maybe mair."

"'Od, I'll apply for three hundred!"

"Heaven bless you, my dear countrymen!" thought I, as I sallied forth to refresh myself with a basin of soup, "do but maintain this liberal and patriotic feeling—this thirst for national improvement, internal communication, and premiums—a short while longer, and I know whose fortune will be made."

On the following morning my breakfast-table was covered with shoals of letters, from fellows whom I scarcely ever had spoken to—or who, to use a franker phraseology, had scarcely ever condescended to speak to me—entreating my influence as a director to obtain them shares in the new undertaking. I never bore malice in my life, so I chalked them down, without favouritism, for a certain proportion. Whilst engaged in this charitable work, the door flew open, and M'Corkindale, looking utterly haggard with excitement, rushed in.

"You may buy an estate whenever you please, Dunshunner," cried he, "the world's gone perfectly mad. I have been to Blazes the broker, and he tells me that the whole amount of the stock has been subscribed for four times over already, and he has not yet got in the returns from Edinburgh and Liverpool!"

"Are they good names though, Bob—sure cards—none of your M'Closkies and M'Alcohols?"

"The first names in the city, I assure you, and most of them holders for investment. I wouldn't take ten millions for their capital."

"Then the sooner we close the list the better."

"I think so too. I suspect a rival company will be out before long. Blazes says the shares are selling already conditionally on allotment, at seven and sixpence premium."

"The deuce they are! I say, Bob, since we have the cards in our hands, would it not be wise to favour them with a few hundreds at that rate? A bird in the hand, you know, is worth two in the bush, eh?"

"I know no such maxim in political economy," replied the secretary. "Are you mad, Dunshunner? How are the shares ever to go up, if it gets wind that the directors are selling already? Our business just now, is to bull the line, not to bear it; and if you will trust me, I shall show them such an operation on the ascending scale, as the Stock Exchange has not witnessed for this long and many a-day. Then, to-morrow, I shall advertise in the papers, that the committee having received applications for ten times the amount of stock, have been compelled, unwillingly, to close the lists. That will be a slap in the face to the dilatory gentlemen, and send up the shares like wildfire."

Bob was right. No sooner did the advertisement appear, than a simultaneous groan was uttered by some hundreds of disappointed speculators, who with unwonted and unnecessary caution, had been anxious to see their way a little, before committing themselves to our splendid enterprise. In consequence, they rushed into the market, with intense anxiety to make what terms they could at the earliest stage, and the seven-and-sixpence of premium was doubled in the course of a forenoon.[Pg 460]

The allocation passed over very peaceably. Sawley, Heckles, Jobson, Grabbie, and the Captain of M'Alcohol, besides myself, attended, and took part in the business. We were also threatened with the presence of the M'Closkie and Vich-Induibh; but M'Corkindale, entertaining some reasonable doubts as to the effect which their corporeal appearance might have upon the representatives of the dissenting interest, had taken the precaution to get them snugly housed in a tavern, where an unbounded supply of gratuitous Ferntosh deprived us of the benefit of their experience. We, however, allotted them twenty shares a-piece. Sir Polloxfen Tremens sent a handsome, though rather illegible letter of apology, dated from an island in Lochlomond, where he was said to be detained on particular business.

Mr Sawley, who officiated as our chairman, was kind enough, before parting, to pass a very flattering eulogium upon the excellence and candour of all the preliminary arrangements. It would now, he said, go forth to the public that this line was not, like some others he could mention, a mere bubble, emanating from the stank of private interest, but a solid, lasting superstructure, based upon the principles of sound return for capital, and serious evangelical truth, (hear, hear.) The time was fast approaching, when the gravestone, with the words "Hic obiit", chiselled upon it, would be placed at the head of all the other lines which rejected the grand opportunity of conveying education to the stoker. The stoker, in his (Mr Sawley's) opinion, had a right to ask the all important question, "Am I not a man and a brother?" (Cheers.) Much had been said and written lately about a work called Tracts for the Times. With the opinions contained in that publication, he was not conversant, as it was conducted by persons of another community from that to which he (Mr Sawley) had the privilege to belong. But he hoped very soon, under the auspices of the Glenmutchkin Railway Company, to see a new periodical established, under the title of Tracts for the Trains. He never for a moment would relax his efforts to knock a nail into the coffin, which, he might say, was already made, and measured, and cloth-covered for the reception of all establishments; and with these sentiments and the conviction that the shares must rise, could it be doubted that he would remain a fast friend to the interests of this Company for ever? (Much cheering.)

After having delivered this address, Mr Sawley affectionately squeezed the hands of his brother directors, and departed, leaving several of us much overcome. As, however, M'Corkindale had told me that every one of Sawley's shares had been disposed of in the market the day before, I felt less compunction at having refused to allow that excellent man an extra thousand beyond the amount he had applied for, notwithstanding of his broadest hints, and even private entreaties.

"Confound the greedy hypocrite!" said Bob; "does he think we shall let him Burke the line for nothing? No—no! let him go to the brokers and buy his shares back, if he thinks they are likely to rise. I'll be bound he has made a cool five hundred out of them already."

On the day which succeeded the allocation, the following entry appeared in the Glasgow share lists. "Direct Glenmutchkin Railway. 15s. 15s.6d. 15s.6d. 16s. 15s.6d. 16s. 16s.6d. 16s.6d. 16s. 17s 18s. 18s. 19s.6d. 21s. 21s. 22s.6d. 24s. 25s.6d. 27s. 29s. 29s.6d. 30s. 31s. pm."

"They might go higher, and they ought to go higher," said Bob musingly; "but there's not much more stock to come and go upon, and these two share-sharks, Jobson and Grabbie, I know, will be in the market to-morrow. We must not let them have the whip-hand of us. I think upon the whole, Dunshunner, though it's letting them go dog cheap, that we ought to sell half our shares at the present premium, whilst there is a certainty of getting it."

"Why not sell the whole? I'm sure I have no objections to part with every stiver of the scrip on such terms."

"Perhaps," said Bob, "upon general principles you may be right; but then remember that we have a vested interest in the line."

"Vested interest be hanged!"

"That's very well—at the same time it is no use to kill your salmon[Pg 461] in a hurry. The bulls have done their work pretty well for us, and we ought to keep something on hand for the bears; they are snuffling at it already. I could almost swear that some of those fellows who have sold to-day are working for a time-bargain."

We accordingly got rid of a couple of thousand shares, the proceeds of which not only enabled us to discharge the deposit loan, but left us a material surplus. Under these circumstances, a two-handed banquet was proposed and unanimously carried, the commencement of which I distinctly remember, but am rather dubious as to the end. So many stories have lately been circulated to the prejudice of railway directors, that I think it my duty to state that this entertainment was scrupulously defrayed by ourselves, and not carried to account, either of the preliminary survey, or the expenses of the provisional committee.

Nothing effects so great a metamorphosis in the bearing of the outer man, as a sudden change of fortune. The anemone of the garden differs scarcely more from its unpretending prototype of the woods, than Robert M'Corkindale, Esq., Secretary and Projector of the Glenmutchkin Railway, differed from Bob M'Corkindale, the seedy frequenter of "The Crow." In the days of yore, men eyed the surtout—napless at the velvet collar, and preternaturally white at the seams—which Bob vouchsafed to wear, with looks of dim suspicion, as if some faint reminiscence, similar to that which is said to recall the memory of a former state of existence, suggested to them a vision that the garment had once been their own. Indeed, his whole appearance was then wonderfully second-hand. Now he had cast his slough. A most undeniable Taglioni, with trimmings just bordering upon frogs, gave dignity to his demeanour and twofold amplitude to his chest. The horn eyeglass was exchanged for one of purest gold, the dingy high-lows for well-waxed Wellingtons, the Paisley fogle for the fabric of the China loom. Moreover, he walked with a swagger, and affected in common conversation a peculiar dialect which he opined to be the purest English, but which no one—except a bagman—could be reasonably expected to understand. His pockets were invariably crammed with share lists; and he quoted, if he did not comprehend, the money article from the Times. This sort of assumption, though very ludicrous in itself, goes down wonderfully. Bob gradually became a sort of authority, and his opinions got quoted on 'Change. He was no ass, notwithstanding his peculiarities, and made good use of his opportunity.

For myself, I bore my new dignities with an air of modest meekness. A certain degree of starchness is indispensable for a railway director, if he means to go forward in his high calling and prosper; he must abandon all juvenile eccentricities, and aim at the appearance of a decided enemy to free trade in the article of Wild Oats. Accordingly, as the first step towards respectability, I eschewed coloured waistcoats, and gave out that I was a marrying man. No man under forty, unless he is a positive idiot, will stand forth as a theoretical bachelor. It is all nonsense to say that there is any thing unpleasant in being courted. Attention, whether from male or female, tickles the vanity, and although I have a reasonable, and, I hope, not unwholesome regard, for the gratification of my other appetites, I confess that this same vanity is by far the most poignant of the whole. I therefore surrendered myself freely to the soft allurements thrown in my way by such matronly denizens of Glasgow as were possessed of stock in the shape of marriageable daughters; and walked the more readily into their toils, because every party, though nominally for the purposes of tea, wound up with a hot supper, and something hotter still by way of assisting the digestion.

I don't know whether it was my determined conduct at the allocation, my territorial title, or a most exaggerated idea of my circumstances, that worked upon the mind of Mr Sawley. Possibly it was a combination of the three; but sure enough few days had elapsed before I received a formal card of invitation to a tea and serious conversation. Now serious conversation is a sort of thing that I never shone in, possibly because my early studies were framed in a different direction; but as I really was unwilling to offend the respectable coffin-maker, and as I[Pg 462] found that the Captain of M'Alcohol—a decided trump in his way—had also received a summons, I notified my acceptance.

M'Alcohol and I went together. The Captain, an enormous brawny Celt, with superhuman whiskers, and a shock of the fieriest hair, had figged himself out, more majorum, in the full Highland costume. I never saw Rob Roy on the stage look half so dignified or ferocious. He glittered from head to foot, with dirk, pistol, and skean-dhu, and at least a hundred-weight of cairngorums cast a prismatic glory around his person. I felt quite abashed beside him.

We were ushered into Mr Sawley's drawing-room. Round the walls, and at considerable distances from each other, were seated about a dozen characters male and female, all of them dressed in sable, and wearing countenances of woe. Sawley advanced, and wrung me by the hand with so piteous an expression of visage, that I could not help thinking some awful catastrophe had just befallen his family.

"You are welcome, Mr Dunshunner, welcome to my humble tabernacle. Let me present you to Mrs Sawley"—and a lady, who seemed to have bathed in the Yellow Sea, rose from her seat, and favoured me with a profound curtsy.

"My daughter—Miss Selina Sawley."

I felt in my brain the scorching glance of the two darkest eyes it ever was my fortune to behold, as the beauteous Selina looked up from the perusal of her handkerchief hem. It was a pity that the other features were not corresponding; for the nose was flat, and the mouth of such dimensions, that a Harlequin might have jumped down it with impunity—but the eyes were splendid.

In obedience to a sign from the hostess, I sank into a chair beside Selina; and not knowing exactly what to say, hazarded some observation about the weather.

"Yes, it is indeed a suggestive season. How deeply, Mr Dunshunner, we ought to feel the pensive progress of autumn towards a soft and premature decay! I always think, about this time of the year, that nature is falling into a consumption!"

"To be sure, ma'am," said I, rather taken aback by this style of colloquy "the trees are looking devilishly hectic."

"Ah, you have remarked that too! Strange! it was but yesterday that I was wandering through Kelvin Grove, and as the phantom breeze brought down the withered foliage from the spray, I thought, how probable it was, that they might erelong rustle over young and glowing hearts deposited prematurely in the tomb!"

This, which struck me as a very passable imitation of Dickens's pathetic writings, was a poser. In default of language, I looked Miss Sawley straight in the face, and attempted a substitute for a sigh. I was rewarded with a tender glance.

"Ah!" said she, "I see you are a congenial spirit. How delightful, and yet how rare it is to meet with any one who thinks in unison with yourself! Do you ever walk in the Necropolis, Mr Dunshunner? It is my favourite haunt of a morning. There we can wean ourselves, as it were, from life, and, beneath the melancholy yew and cypress, anticipate the setting star. How often there have I seen the procession—the funeral of some very, very little child"——

"Selina, my love," said Mrs Sawley, "have the kindness to ring for the cookies."

I, as in duty bound, started up to save the fair enthusiast the trouble, and was not sorry to observe my seat immediately occupied by a very cadaverous gentleman, who was evidently jealous of the progress I was rapidly making. Sawley, with an air of great mystery, informed me that this was a Mr Dalgleish of Raxmathrapple, the representative of an ancient Scottish family who claimed an important heritable office. The name, I thought, was familiar to me, but there was something in the appearance of Mr Dalgleish which, notwithstanding the smiles of Miss Selina, rendered a rivalship in that quarter utterly out of the question.

I hate injustice, so let me do due honour in description to the Sawley banquet. The tea-urn most literally corresponded to its name. The table was decked out with divers platters, containing seed-cakes cut into rhomboids, almond biscuits, and ratafia[Pg 463] drops; but somehow or other they all looked clammy and damp, and, for the life of me, I could not divest myself of the idea that the selfsame viands had figured, not long before, as funeral refreshments at a dirgie. No such suspicion seemed to cross the mind of M'Alcohol, who hitherto had remained uneasily surveying his nails in a corner, but at the first symptom of food started forwards, and was in the act of making a clean sweep of the china, when Sawley proposed the singular preliminary of a hymn.

The hymn was accordingly sung. I am thankful to say it was such a one as I never heard before, or expect to hear again; and unless it was composed by the Reverend Saunders Peden in an hour of paroxysm on the moors, I cannot conjecture the author. After this original symphony, tea was discussed, and after tea, to my amazement, more hot brandy and water than I ever remember to have seen circulated at the most convivial party. Of course this effected a radical change in the spirits and conversation of the circle. It was again my lot to be placed by the side of the fascinating Selina, whose sentimentality gradually thawed away beneath the influence of sundry sips, which she accepted with a delicate reluctance. This time Dalgleish of Raxmathrapple had not the remotest chance. M'Alcohol got furious, sang Gaelic songs, and even delivered a sermon in genuine Erse, without incurring a rebuke; whilst, for my own part, I must needs confess that I waxed unnecessarily amorous, and the last thing I recollect was the pressure of Mr Sawley's hand at the door, as he denominated me his dear boy, and hoped I would soon come back and visit Mrs Sawley and Selina. The recollection of these passages next morning was the surest antidote to my return.

Three weeks had elapsed, and still the Glenmutchkin Railway shares were at a premium, though rather lower than when we sold. Our engineer, Watty Solder, returned from his first survey of the line, along with an assistant who really appeared to have some remote glimmerings of the science and practice of mensuration. It seemed, from a verbal report, that the line was actually practicable; and the survey would have been completed in a very short time—"If," according to the account of Solder, "there had been ae hoos in the glen. But ever sin' the distillery stoppit—and that was twa year last Martinmas—there wasna a hole whaur a Christian could lay his head, muckle less get white sugar to his toddy, forbye the change-house at the clachan; and the auld luckie that keepit it was sair forfochten wi' the palsy, and maist in the dead-thraws. There was naebody else living within twal miles o' the line, barring a tacksman, a lamiter, and a bauldie."

We had some difficulty in preventing Mr Solder from making this report open and patent to the public, which premature disclosure might have interfered materially with the preparation of our traffic tables, not to mention the marketable value of the shares. We therefore kept him steadily at work out of Glasgow, upon a very liberal allowance, to which, apparently, he did not object.

"Dunshunner," said M'Corkindale to me one day, "I suspect that there is something going on about our railway more than we are aware of. Have you observed that the shares are preternaturally high just now?"

"So much the better. Let's sell."

"I did so this morning—both yours and mine, at two pounds ten shillings premium."

"The deuce you did! Then we're out of the whole concern."

"Not quite. If my suspicions are correct, there's a good deal more money yet to be got from the speculation. Somebody has been bulling the stock without orders; and, as they can have no information which we are not perfectly up to, depend upon it, it is done for a purpose. I suspect Sawley and his friends. They have never been quite happy since the allocation; and I caught him yesterday pumping our broker in the back shop. We'll see in a day or two. If they are beginning a bearing operation, I know how to catch them."

And, in effect, the bearing operation commenced. Next day, heavy sales were effected for delivery in three weeks; and the stock, as if water-logged, began to sink. The same thing continued for the following two days, until the premium became nearly nominal. In the mean time, Bob and I, in conjunction with two[Pg 464] leading capitalists whom we let into the secret, bought up steadily every share that was offered; and at the end of a fortnight we found that we had purchased rather more than double the amount of the whole original stock. Sawley and his disciples, who, as M'Corkindale suspected, were at the bottom of the whole transaction, having beared to their heart's content, now came into the market to purchase, in order to redeem their engagements. The following extract from the weekly share-lists will show the result of their endeavours to regain their lost position:—

Sat. Mon. Tues. Wed. Thurs. Frid. Sat.
Glenmutchkin Rail, L.1 paid,. 128 4⅜ 10¾ 15⅜ 17,

and Monday was the day of delivery.

I have no means of knowing in what frame of mind Mr Sawley spent the Sunday, or whether he had recourse for mental consolation to Peden; but on Monday morning he presented himself at my door in full funeral costume, with about a quarter of a mile of crape swathed round his hat, black gloves, and a countenance infinitely more doleful than if he had been attending the interment of his beloved wife.

"Walk in, Mr Sawley," said I cheerfully. "What a long time it is since I have had the pleasure of seeing you—too long indeed for brother directors. How are Mrs Sawley and Miss Selina—won't you take a cup of coffee?"

"Grass, sir, grass!" said Mr Sawley, with a sigh like the groan of a furnace-bellows. "We are all flowers of the oven—weak, erring creatures, every one of us. Ah! Mr Dunshunner! you have been a great stranger at Lykewake Terrace!"

"Take a muffin, Mr Sawley. Any thing new in the railway world?"

"Ah, my dear sir—my good Mr Augustus Reginald—I wanted to have some serious conversation with you on that very point. I am afraid there is something far wrong indeed in the present state of our stock."

"Why, to be sure it is high; but that, you know, is a token of the public confidence in the line. After all, the rise is nothing compared to that of several English railways; and individually, I suppose, neither of us have any reason to complain."

"I don't like it," said Sawley, watching me over the margin of his coffee-cup. "I don't like it. It savours too much of gambling for a man of my habits. Selina, who is a sensible girl, has serious qualms on the subject."

"Then, why not get out of it? I have no objection to run the risk, and, if you like to transact with me I will pay you ready money for every share you have at the present market price."

Sawley writhed uneasily in his chair.

"Will you sell me five hundred, Mr Sawley? Say the word and it is a bargain."

"A time bargain?" quavered the coffin-maker.

"No. Money down, and scrip handed over."

"I—I can't. The fact is, my dear young friend, I have sold all my stock already!"

"Then permit me to ask, Mr Sawley, what possible objection you can have to the present aspect of affairs? You do not surely suppose that we are going to issue new shares and bring down the market, simply because you have realized at a handsome premium?"

"A handsome premium! O Lord!" moaned Sawley.

"Why, what did you get for them?"

"Four, three, and two and a half."

"A very considerable profit indeed," said I; "and you ought to be abundantly thankful. We shall talk this matter over at another time, Mr Sawley, but just now I must beg you to excuse me. I have a particular engagement this morning with my broker—rather a heavy transaction to settle—and so"——

"It's no use beating about the bush any longer," said Mr Sawley in an excited tone, at the same time dashing down his crape-covered castor on the floor. "Did you ever see a ruined man with a large family? Look at me, Mr Dunshunner—I'm one, and you've done it!"

"Mr Sawley! are you in your senses?"[Pg 465]

"That depends on circumstances. Haven't you been buying stock lately?"

"I am glad to say I have—two thousand Glenmutchkins, I think, and this is the day of delivery."

"Well, then—can't you see how the matter stands? It was I who sold them!"


"Mother of Moses, sir! don't you see I'm ruined?

"By no means—but you must not swear. I pay over the money for your scrip, and you pocket a premium. It seems to me a very simple transaction."

"But I tell you I haven't got the scrip!" cried Sawley, gnashing his teeth, whilst the cold beads of perspiration gathered largely on his brow.

"That is very unfortunate! Have you lost it?"

"No!—the devil tempted me, and I oversold!"

There was a very long pause, during which I assumed an aspect of serious and dignified rebuke.

"Is it possible?" said I in a low tone, after the manner of Kean's offended fathers. "What! you, Mr Sawley—the stoker's friend—the enemy of gambling—the father of Selina—condescend to so equivocal a transaction? You amaze me! But I never was the man to press heavily on a friend"—here Sawley brightened up—"your secret is safe with me, and it shall be your own fault if it reaches the ears of the Session. Pay me over the difference at the present market price, and I release you of your obligation."

"Then I'm in the Gazette, that's all," said Sawley doggedly, "and a wife and nine beautiful babes upon the parish! I had hoped other things from you, Mr Dunshunner—I thought you and Selina"——

"Nonsense, man! Nobody goes into the Gazette just now—it will be time enough when the general crash comes. Out with your checque-book, and write me an order for four-and-twenty thousand. Confound fractions! in these days one can afford to be liberal."

"I haven't got it," said Sawley. "You have no idea how bad our trade has been of late, for nobody seems to think of dying. I have not sold a gross of coffins this fortnight. But I'll tell what—I'll give you five thousand down in cash, and ten thousand in shares—further I can't go."

"Now, Mr Sawley'," said I, "I may be blamed by worldly-minded persons for what I am going to do; but I am a man of principle, and feel deeply for the situation of your amiable wife and family. I bear no malice, though it is quite clear that you intended to make me the sufferer. Pay me fifteen thousand over the counter, and we cry quits for ever."

"Won't you take Camlachie Cemetery shares? They are sure to go up."


"Twelve hundred Cowcaddens' Water, with an issue of new stock next week?"

"Not if they disseminated the Ganges."

"A thousand Ramshorn Gas—four per cent guaranteed until the act?"

"Not if they promised twenty, and melted down the sun in their retort!"

"Blawweary Iron? Best spec. going."

"No, I tell you once for all. If you don't like my offer—and it is an uncommonly liberal one—say so, and I'll expose you this afternoon upon 'Change."

"Well, then—there's a checque. But may the"——

"Stop, sir! Any such profane expressions, and I shall insist upon the original bargain. So, then—now we're quits. I wish you a very good-morning, Mr Sawley, and better luck next time. Pray remember me to your amiable family."

The door had hardly closed upon the discomfited coffin-maker, and I was still in the preliminary steps of an extempore pas seul, intended as the outward demonstration of exceeding inward joy, when Bob M'Corkindale entered. I told him the result of the morning's conference.

"You have let him off too easily," said the Political Economist. "Had I been his creditor, I certainly should have sacked the shares into the bargain. There is nothing like rigid dealing between man and man."

"I am contented with moderate[Pg 466] profits," said I; "besides, the image of Selina overcame me. How goes it with Jobson and Grabbie?"

"Jobson has paid, and Grabbie compounded. Heckles—may he die an evil death!—has repudiated, become a lame duck, and waddled; but no doubt his estate will pay a dividend."

"So, then, we are clear of the whole Glenmutchkin business, and at a handsome profit."

"A fair interest for the outlay of capital—nothing more. But I'm not quite done with the concern yet."

"How so? not another bearing operation?"

"No; that cock would hardly fight. But you forget that I am secretary to the company, and have a small account against them for services already rendered. I must do what I can to carry the bill through Parliament; and, as you have now sold your whole shares, I advise you to resign from the direction, go down straight to Glenmutchkin, and qualify yourself for a witness. We shall give you five guineas a-day, and pay all your expenses."

"Not a bad notion. But what has become of M'Closkie, and the other fellow with the jaw-breaking name?"

"Vich-Induibh? I have looked after their interests, as in duty bound, sold their shares at a large premium, and dispatched them to their native hills on annuities."

"And Sir Polloxfen?"

"Died yesterday of spontaneous combustion."

As the company seemed breaking up, I thought I could not do better than take M'Corkindale's hint, and accordingly betook myself to Glenmutchkin, along with the Captain of M'Alcohol, and we quartered ourselves upon the Factor for Glentumblers. We found Watty Solder very shakey, and his assistant also lapsing into habits of painful inebriety. We saw little of them except of an evening, for we shot and fished the whole day, and made ourselves remarkably comfortable. By singular good-luck, the plans and sections were lodged in time, and the Board of Trade very handsomely reported in our favour, with a recommendation of what they were pleased to call "the Glenmutchkin system," and a hope that it might generally be carried out. What this system was, I never clearly understood; but, of course, none of us had any objections. This circumstance gave an additional impetus to the shares, and they once more went up. I was, however, too cautious to plunge a second time into Charybdis, but M'Corkindale did, and again emerged with plunder.

When the time came for the parliamentary contest, we all emigrated to London. I still recollect, with lively satisfaction, the many pleasant days we spent in the metropolis at the company's expense. There were just a neat fifty of us, and we occupied the whole of an hotel. The discussion before the committee was long and formidable. We were opposed by four other companies who patronised lines, of which the nearest was at least a hundred miles distant from Glenmutchkin; but as they founded their opposition upon dissent from "the Glenmutchkin system" generally, the committee allowed them to be heard. We fought for three weeks a most desperate battle, and might in the end have been victorious, had not our last antagonist, at the very close of his case, pointed out no less than seventy-three fatal errors in the parliamentary plan deposited by the unfortunate Solder. Why this was not done earlier, I never exactly understood; it may be, that our opponents, with gentlemanly consideration, were unwilling to curtail our sojourn in London—and their own. The drama was now finally closed, and after all preliminary expenses were paid, sixpence per share was returned to the holders upon surrender of their scrip.

Such is an accurate history of the Origin, Rise, Progress, and Fall of the Direct Glenmutchkin Railway. It contains a deep moral, if any body has sense enough to see it; if not, I have a new project in my eye for next session, of which timely notice shall be given.

[Pg 467]


The past history of Mr Morgan Kavanagh is probably as little known to our readers as it is to ourselves. But his future destiny is not equally obscure. We have it, on his own authority, that he has made a discovery of unparalleled merit and magnitude, as simple as it is surprising, and calculated, in an equal degree, to benefit mankind, and immortalize its author. He has discovered the science of languages—a science in which the wisest hitherto have been smatterers, but in which the most shallow may henceforward be profound. In the prophetic spirit of conscious genius, Horace, Ovid, and other great men, have boasted of the perpetuity of fame achieved by their efforts; and Kavanagh, apparently under a similar inspiration, indulges the pleasing anticipation, that he has completed a monument more lasting than brass—of which material, it may be observed, he does not appear to have a deficient supply. He confesses, that on so trite a subject, the presumption is against him of so great an achievement; but he sticks to his point, and is sure that he has attained an undying name by his inestimable disclosures:—

"A discovery equalling in magnitude the one to which I lay claim, must appear to all, before examining its accompanying proofs, just about as probable as the discovery, in the neighbourhood of the British Channel, of some rich and extensive island that had escaped till now the mariner's notice. Then am I either egregiously in error, or, through my humble means, one of the greatest and most important discoveries on record has been made."


The alternative here allowed us is irresistible—either our author is egregiously in error, or he has made a great discovery. Who can doubt it? We feel at once driven to the wall by the horns of so dexterous a dilemma; and unable as we are, in the kindness of our hearts, to adopt the more uncivil supposition, we succumb, without a struggle, to the only choice left us, and concede to such a disputant all that he can demand.

Mr Kavanagh is determined that the importance of his discovery shall lose nothing from his reluctance to put it in the strongest light:—

"If, from having taken a view of the human mind different from any other hitherto taken, and from having founded a rational principle, in conformity with this view, I can offer such a definition of words as may bear the strictest investigation, and which all may understand; and if a child, by adhering to this principle, may be able to account for words with all their changes and variations, and show them such as they must have been, not only ages before the Bible and the Iliad had been written, but even as they were at their very birth; then it will, I dare hope, be admitted, that I shall not only have surmounted innumerable difficulties, but have discovered the real science of languages. Yet all this, and a great deal more, may be done by the application of the principle by which I am guided."


Again he says:—

"I am sorry that the resolution I have formed, of frankly speaking my mind throughout this work, obliges me to express myself as I do here and elsewhere with such an apparent want of modesty; but were I to adopt, with regard to this discovery, and the knowledge we have hitherto had of the science of grammar, what is understood by a more becoming and humble tone, I should, by doing so, lose in truth what I might gain by affected modesty, since I should not only be speaking falsely, but be leading the reader into error by concealing from him my real opinion, which I should by no means do. And if while it be allowed, as I am sure it must, that though I do well to speak as I think, it be observed that this is not a reason why I should think as I do—that is, so presumptuously—I beg to reply, that if I had never thought so, this discovery had never been attempted, and much less made; for notwithstanding what the world may say about the modesty of certain great men, I do in my heart believe that such modesty has been ever affected, [Pg 468]and that it is wholly impossible that any thing great may be undertaken or achieved, but where there is at bottom great presumption, which is, after all, nothing more than a consciousness of one's own strength."


This is all right, and no apology was necessary. Why should a man be modest, who, in the six thousandth year of the creation, has found out, for the first time, the science of languages? Though entirely devoid of originality ourselves, we can sympathize with the proud exultation of those who have produced a new and "glorious birth." From the cackling of the hen when she has laid an egg, to the ἑυρηχα of Archimedes when he discovered hydrostatics, we see the instinctive impulse under which those who have brought to light a great result, are constrained to proclaim it aloud; and we should be thankful when the mighty inventor can refrain from rushing out, in native nudity, into the public way.

The discoverer of the science of languages, however, does not come forth upon us, like Archimedes, in a state of dishabille. Attired in the same fashionable garb, rejoicing in the same paper and type, and issuing from the shelves of the same respectable publishers, Mr Kavanagh's two goodly octavos may fitly range, as far as exterior is concerned, with the collected productions of Jeffrey and Macaulay, who will no doubt feel honoured by such good company. The fly-leaf at the beginning of the work warns all pirates and poachers "that it is private property, protected by the late Copyright Act;" and a foot-note seems to inform us that a French edition is simultaneously to appear in Paris. Who could doubt that such mighty notes of preparation were to usher in some magnum opus, worthy of the expectations thus excited?

Mr Kavanagh appears to us to have lived for some time in France, and if so, he has not lived there in vain. He has acquired the knack of framing a bill of fare, that would do honour to the reigning prince of restaurateurs, whoever he may be, and would create an appetite under the ribs of death. Take the following excerpts from the contents:—

"What the author should do before attempting to prove the discovery of the science of languages. This he does, and a great deal more."

"View of the human mind. That taken by eminent philosophers inquired into, and found to be erroneous. The author's view of it."

"Proof that there are no such words as substantives or nouns."

"Pronouns, supposed like nouns, but erroneously, to represent substances. They never represent nouns, as they have been supposed to do. Proof that they never stand for substances, nor can be, any more than nouns, the subject of propositions. Their real nature shown, and difficulties and locutions connected with them accounted for. The original form of oh me! and ah me!"

"Thus far the author pretends to have shown that there is but one part of speech."

"The author's account of the verb. Why it cannot be compared like the adjective. The verb is an adjective or name in the fourth degree. It does not represent an action. To and do. Shown how it does not represent an action, and how grammarians have been led to suppose that it does."

"How men expressed themselves in the beginning of the world, when they had occasion to make use of the verb to be."

"The nature of a past participle in English and French. This knowledge of a past participle in French leads to a precious discovery."

"How to find the etymology of words. Instances given: the meaning of friend, mind, blind, &c., shown."

"The origin of the termination ish discovered. The etymology of the words, Ireland, Scotland, Dublin, with many other etymologies."

"The feminine and plural of mon, ton, son, explained. Mes, tes, and ses, not plural numbers. Notre and votre do not come from the Latin words noster and vester. No language derived from another."

"The first names man ever had for his own dwelling, with several other etymologies, such as barrack, good-by, property, coin, copper, maistre, castor, out-cast, caserne, quoit, cat, quiet, discus, Apollo, tranquil, keel, cuisse, &c."

"The delicate meaning of certain words."

"The extraordinary wisdom displayed in the formation of words: different accounts of the words man, woman, Adam, &c. The meanings of animare, animal,[Pg 469] animation, beget, amo, Venus, shame, honte, &c.

"The etymology of squat, cower, square, four, year, fair, faire, &c."

"In the account given of the letters of the Greek alphabet are to be found explained the letters of all languages. To what this knowledge may lead. Shown how the twenty-four letters make but one. The dot over the i. A straight line, a circle, &c."

"The ing in being accounted for. Meaning of big, wig, mig, &c.; of hat, oyster, &c.; of eight, octo, &c.; of nigh, near, night, &c. The literal meaning of negatives and affirmatives. What man's first oaths were."

"Big, once a name for the Divinity."

"How all numbers make but one. No such thing as a plural number. Examination of the ten figures, 1, 2, 3, &c. Each of them means one."

"Concluding observations resumed. The difficulty of believing in this discovery. The great wisdom it contains. The language supposed to be spoken in heaven."

"The advantages to be derived from this discovery. How Mathematicians, Theologians, Grammarians, Lexicographers, Logicians, and Philosophers, are likely to consider this discovery. Other works proposed."

"The members of the press. Bookmaking. The many important discoveries in this work lie in the way of its immediate success with such minds as cannot receive new ideas. The view which the man of enlarged ideas is likely to take of it. The author's pretensions. His confidence in the ultimate success of this discovery."


We confess we felt our mouth water at the glimpses thus afforded of the coming feast; and we are happy to acknowledge that what we expected was fully realized.

It must not be imagined that we are going to furnish, in these trivial pages, a full disclosure of Mr Kavanagh's discovery. There are several reasons for our not doing so. First, we could not, in common justice, think of spoiling the sale of Mr Kavanagh's book. Secondly, we are not sanguine that, in the space allowed us, we could make the discovery understood by our readers. And thirdly, we are not sure that we understand it ourselves. But, as far as consistent with these considerations, we shall endeavour to give such a view of it as may excite, without satiating, curiosity, and may give the means of conjecturing what the book itself must be, of which we are enabled to offer such specimens.

It is a common and allowable artifice, in those attempting to lead us up the hill of science, to point to some attractive object that is to be reached at the summit. Mr Kavanagh employs this expedient with great effect. He shows us, near the outset of our journey, one astonishing result to which it is to conduct us, and which necessarily inflames our eagerness to get over the ground:—

"That the reader may have in advance some notion of this manner of analysing words, and discovering their hidden meaning, I beg here to give, for the present, the contents of the analysis of the English alphabet collectively considered; that is, not as to what each letter means when read by itself, but as to what they all mean when read together in the following order:—

A B C D E F G H I (or J) K L M N O P Q
R S T U (or V) W X Y Z;

of which the literal meaning in modern English is—This first book is had of the Jews; it opens the mind, and is good breeding and wisdom. I shall show in the proper place how this meaning may be found in the above characters."


The steps by which we are to reach a mighty secret like this, are given by our author in great detail; for, as he candidly observes—

"Though my discoveries are mostly about as evident as any thing in Euclid, still, as they are new to the world, and require, previous to their being received as truths, the disagreeable admission that we have been hitherto in error; some art, besides down-right logical persuasion, will be necessary towards bringing the mind friendly to them."


The first discovery Mr Kavanagh seems to have made is, that he knew nothing of grammar; and had he stopped here, he would have been entitled to no small praise for discernment. But this was but a stepping-stone to greater things.

Mr Kavanagh seems by and by to have found out that "there are no such[Pg 470] words as substantives or nouns; that is to say, words standing for substances, or representing substances in any manner." He discovered that such words, and indeed all words, are, whether it be true or not, sounds to our ears not altogether new. We had a notion that, at least, the term noun, nom, and nomen, meant properly a name, but of course Mr Kavanagh must know better. We must decline, however, to follow him through his explanation on this footing of the real presence.

But then comes an announcement of undoubted originality, "that all words called substantives are but names in the fourth degree of comparison; that is to say, in a degree above the one commonly called the superlative." We durst not doubt that Mr Kavanagh is here right; but, for persons of slow perception like ourselves, we should have liked to see a little more fully explained what are the first, second, and third degrees of comparison of those names, of which hat, stick, thing, hand, foot, &c., are the fourth degrees. Discoverers should bear a little with beginners; and we suggest that, in a second edition, a full table should be given of what we desiderate.

The view thus taken of nouns, leads, it seems, to important results, and, in particular, enables us to explain what Mr Kavanagh had been puzzling himself about for half his lifetime—the meaning of the expressions, "This is John's book," and "this is a book of John's." We had always thought that the first of these phrases was plain sailing, and that the second meant, "this a book of John's books—or, one of John's books," ex libris Joannis. But these simple suppositions cannot satisfy men of science, who require a discovery to explain what other men think they understand without one:—

"We can now account for what has hitherto puzzled all grammarians, namely, the double possessive. This book of John's means, this book of all John's; that is, this book forming a part of all John's, of all things belonging to John."

"And how rich and full the meaning of this new possessive! What an image it brings before the mind, compared to the wretched meaning our ignorance of this noble science has hitherto taught us to allow it to have! This book is John's, means, we have been told, this book is John's book. How frivolous, how poor, compared to, 'this book is part of all things corporeal and ideal belonging to John.' How useless this repetition of the same word book! and how incorrect! since if John possessed only one book, and that we said, 'this book of John's is better than mine,' we were immediately stopt, as we cannot say, this book of John's book is better than mine. But now we know that this book of John's, &c., means, 'this book is a part of all John's,' &c."


Our discoverer thereafter proceeds to analyse the personal terminations of verbs, of which he seems to give an elucidation highly satisfactory to himself, and which, we hope, will be equally so to his readers. It is obviously of oriental origin, being analogous to the astronomical theory of the elephant and tortoise, by which the Hindoos are said so clearly to account for the support of our terrestrial planet. "Love, lovest, loveth, or loves," &c., have been formed by combining the root with the inflections of the auxiliary verb, to have. He gives a very distinct table by which

"We see that love hast has been shortened to lovest; love has, to loves; love hath to loveth; love had to loved; and love hadst to lovedst. The ha has been omitted throughout, as, love [ha]st; love [ha]s; love [ha]th; love [ha]d; love [ha]dst."


This is remarkably ingenious, and it must be from a very unphilosophical curiosity that ignorant persons like ourselves are tempted to ask how Mr Kavanagh explains the origin of the inflections have, hast, hath, had, &c. We have been accustomed to regard these terminations, though in a contracted form, as having the same origin as those of other verbs; and we doubt if it would command general acquiescence to say that "hath" was a compound of "have hath." But these are probably foolish doubts, only showing the small progress of our scientific enlightenment; and we feel assured that they would occur to no one who was once fully imbued with Mr Kavanagh's principles.[Pg 471]

A similar theory is applied by Mr Kavanagh with equal success to the Latin system of conjugation; but we think it better to refer our readers to the book itself, than weaken its effect by any attempt at an abstract of it. We cannot, however, resist quoting Mr Kavanagh's account of the advantages to which his theories directly tend.

"And this inquiry has led me to the most important of all my discoveries; since it not only showed me the original of the endings of the Latin verbs, but also those of the several declensions of Latin nouns, adjectives, pronouns, participles, &c., with their several cases, genders, numbers, &c. And this knowledge will not only apply to the Latin language, but of course to all the languages in the world. From this I have been also led to discover the real nature of a pronoun, and how words have been made in the beginning of time, and how they have increased from a single letter, or at most from two, to all which they have at present: by which means we may see the state of languages at different periods of the world, even such as they must have been ages before the building of the tower of Babel; which knowledge will, it is presumed, throw great light on the ancient history of the world, since men must, in the composition of words, have ever made allusion to things already known, and such as might serve to explain the words they made. Thus is it even in our own times, and thus has it ever been. I intend towards the end of this work to give numerous instances of how words were at first formed, and the various forms they bore at different times; so that no doubt may remain on any man's mind, either as to the truth of this, the most important part of my discovery, or as to the advantages which may, from our following it up, arise from it."


In pursuing this interesting subject, Mr Kavanagh shows the important part in etymology played by the Latin verb esse.

"Nothing of this has, however, been known. The greatest lexicographers have not even suspected that sagesse was for sage-esse (sage-étre,) so short-sighted is man without the light of science; then much less did they suspect that for to be, and to go there was, whilst languages were yet in their infancy, but one word. The learned, from their not knowing that sagesse is for sage-esse, must have lost discovering the etymology of a vast number of words in all languages. Thus, all the French words ending in esse, as, caresse, finesse, paresse, &c., have never been accounted for; and, in like manner, the etymology of all English words ending in ess and ness, as, caress, happiness, &c., has been unknown. But here the reader, as he has not yet seen how we are to discover in words their own definitions, may say, that though he can admit caress and caresse to be for cara or carus esse (to be dear,) and finesse to be for fin-esse (être fin,) he cannot so readily allow paresse and happiness to be accounted for after a similar manner, since paresse must hence become par-esse, and happiness, happin-esse, which words par and happin here offer no meaning. But a little farther on, he will know that par here signifies on the ground; so that paresse literally means on the ground to be, that is, to be lying down, or doing nothing. He will also see, that the termination ness has not the ridiculous meaning assigned it by the learned, namely, "the top or the foot of a hill" (I forget which,) but that it literally means the being (en-esse,) so that happiness was first en-esse-happy, (the being happy, the thing happy,) after which, en-esse became contracted to ness, and so fell behind happy, making happiness.

"Here, not to perplex the reader's and my own mind, by the considering of too many things at once, I am really obliged to turn my view from the many important discoveries that rush upon me, all emanating out of this little word be, or go, (no matter which we call it,) in order merely to show how verbs in Latin have, from this single word, formed their endings."


By and by it appears that if we are so much indebted to the Latin for their verb esse, the Latin is no less indebted to us for our verb am.

"But I have not shown by what artifice this past time (ibam) of eo is formed. It is, we may see, composed of two words, ib and am; yet the latter word am has all the appearance of a present time or a future; as we may see it in eam, legam, and audiam. Then it is evidently to the word ib we are indebted for this word ibam having[Pg 472] a past signification; and as there is now no such Latin word, we are led to believe that ib must be a contraction, and this at once leads us upon ibi, which means, then, or, at that time. Hence, ibam is a contraction of ibi am, there being only the letter i omitted. Now, as am is evidently a present time, and the same am we have in English, it means, "I existence;" so that when ibi is added to it, both words mean, "I existence then," or "at that time;" and it is in this manner that men, in the beginning, made a past time. If we now turn to the past time of sum (eram, eras, erat, &c.) we shall find that the same method has been adhered to. The am here is the am in ibam; and now we have to look to the word er by which it is preceded, in order to find its past signification. This brings us to era, or as it is now written in Latin, æra which, like ibi, refers also to a past time, meaning that epoch. Then eram, which might as well be written æram, is a contraction of æraam, there being, as before, but a single letter omitted, (the a,) and the meaning is as before, "I existence then, or at that epoch."


Certainly if ever there was a man who "existenced" at an era or epoch, or rather who was himself the era, Mr Kavanagh may claim the distinction.

We are informed by the printer that our space is nearly out, and we must therefore draw to a close. We cannot better fill up the limits allowed us, than by selecting a few examples of our author's successful treatment of etymology. It will be seen that in the zoological department of this subject he is particularly happy.

"The third person plural, étoient, is a very curious word: it literally means the great lives—and there is for this a very wise reason. When this word first received this name, persons were not referred to, but the winds of heaven; and hence the propriety of the name great lives or great beings; and also of making this name signify afterwards persons or beings gone, since nothing can, to all appearance, be more gone than the winds that have passed by. When oient means the great lives, it is to be thus analysed: oi-iv-it; or thus, ii-iv-it; or thus, iv-iv-it. But when considered as meaning but a single idea, it may be indifferently written went or ivent. It is easy to perceive that ivent is no other than vent, the French of wind, the i having been dropped. Thus we discover the origin of the English word went: we see that it is the same as vent or wind."

"As the French word souvent means, when analysed, all the wind (is-oii-vent), it would appear that men in the beginning of time received also the idea of frequency from the winds. But in a country rarely visited by them, this idea must have been borrowed from some other natural object. Thus the Latin word for often (sæepè) takes, when analysed, this form, is-æ-ip-é, which literally means, is the bees. Here the word bees is represented by ip-è, of which the meaning is bee, bee; but to avoid the repetition of the second bee, a pronoun, that is è, and which means life or being, has been put in its place. When it is remarked that this pronoun might as well be is or es as what it is, it will be admitted that sæpè might as well be written sæpes. I make this remark to show how slight the difference between apes, the Latin of bees and apè in is-apè, which means also the bees. Now the English word often becomes, when analysed, en-ov-it, of which the literal meaning is the sheep-sheep; the pronoun it serving here as in the last instance, and for the same reason, as a substitute for the second word sheep; but this it might as well be es or is. In Latin the word for sheep is ov is, which must have first been is ov; that is, the sheep: but when the is fell behind, it became ovis, and it has no other meaning than the one life (is-o-vie). Thus we perceive that the winds, bees, and sheep, have, in three different countries, given birth to the same idea."


Mr Kavanagh adds in a foot-note as to the word sheep—

"This is for she-bay; that is, the female-bay, this animal being so called from its crying bay. Hence it would appear that the word sheep (she-bay) did not in the beginning apply equally to both genders, but that it was only in the feminine. When we recollect that the b and the p are frequently confounded, it can be easily admitted that, with our great love for contraction, sheep should be used instead of sheeb. An analysis of the French word for sheep (brebis) confirms what I have here stated with regard to this animal's being called after its bleat. When analysed, it is is-bre-be; of which[Pg 473] the literal meaning is, the bray bay; that is, the cry bay or the breath bay, for the word breath (bray the) is no other than the bray which became breath from the article the falling behind bray. And this again is confirmed by an analysis of the word bleat, which makes it-BE-il-ea, or it bay il é, and means, the bay it is, that is, it is the cry of the sheep."

"Mons," says Mr Kavanagh, "is the original of monster in English, of monstre in French, and monstrum in Latin. Then the literal meaning of these words is—monster, it is to be a mountain; est er literally means 'it is the thing,' and, of course, these two words first preceded mon, thus, est er mon (it is the thing mountain.) Monstre is for mon estre, this estre being the infinitive être, and the same as est re (it is the thing.) Monstrum is more modern in its form than either the English word monster, or the French word monstre, since it has in its composition the pronoun um, besides what these two words have. Then the Latins had monstre or monster before they had monstrum; and they must have said um monstre or um monster just as the French say now le monstre."

"The word chien becomes when analysed (and the explanation of the alphabet will show how this happens) ic iv ien; or, as ien can be reduced to iv, we may say it is equal to ic iv iv. No matter which of these two forms we adopt, the analysis of chien will be still the same, since both are expressive of haste. Ic iv ien means the thing come or go, or life life. Thus if we contract iv ien to one word, we have vien, so that ic vien will mean the come; and this word is we know expressive of haste, since venir, as we have seen in the account given of oient, means the wind (ir ven). In like manner ic iv iv may mean the life life, which we know from the repetition of life must imply quickness. And hence it is that iv iv become when contracted, vive, that is, be alive. Now when we contract iv ien to vien, if we give to ic its primitive meaning, which is that of here, we shall, by allowing that vien in the beginning went before ic, have for the meaning of both words, come here (vien ic). Hence it is we still hear a dog called upon in English by Here! here! and in French by the word Ici with the dog's name attached to it. The English word dog is also, when analysed, expressive of haste, since it makes id eo ge or id-o-ge, which implies the thing go, or the go, go."


We conclude this brief, and, we fear, imperfect notice of so great a work, by suggesting for the author's consideration, whether, in a revisal of his views, he might not bestow some attention on one or two other languages than English and French. His attainments in these seem to be of a superior order, and he seems also to have made considerable progress in the Latin rudiments. We do not hold that Greek is essential, but we respectfully submit that the acquisition of Anglo-Saxon, and some other older dialects of Europe, with which English is generally supposed to have some connexion, might with advantage be attempted. Not that we imagine Mr Kavanagh's views would then be changed or improved. The etymologist's eye, "in a fine frenzy rolling," may have intuitive perceptions of results such as no course of study could attain. But still there is a vulgar prejudice to which we think it prudent to pay some deference, and which recommends that, before writing on a subject, we should know something about it.

This, however, is a secondary matter, which we merely submit in passing. As it is, Mr Kavanagh has taken his place as a philologist on an elevation which only a few can hope to attain. He may be said to have done for language in general what has hitherto only been attempted in the field of Celtic speculation; but it is no light matter to have followed and outstripped in their course the illustrious men who have excelled in that more limited province. Henceforth the name of Morgan Kavanagh will be entwined in the same undying wreath with those of Lachlan Maclean and Sir William Betham.

[Pg 474]


A Sequel To House-Hunting in Wales.

As we sat in the state of mind which has become characteristic of the gallant Widdrington—in the large room at the Angel inn at Abergavenny, wondering when our pilgrimage among the hotels would come to an end—a messenger of joyful tidings made his appearance in the person of our friendly landlord. He had just remembered that a house about three miles off was occasionally let—he thought it was unlet at that moment—it was the larger portion of a farm-house, originally occupied by the 'squire, but now in the hands of a most respectable farmer. We would hear no more; in ten minutes from this communication we were careering along in a one-horse car to judge for ourselves—our imaginations filled with the same celestial visions that blest the slumbers of the friar, in the song—

"All night long of heaven I dream—
But that is fat pullets and clouted cream"—

and before we had conjured up one-half the delights of a residence in a real farm-house, we turned in at some iron gates, drove up a gravelled avenue, and stood at the door of a very nice, comfortable-looking house, that in many advertisements would pass very well for "a quiet and gentlemanly mansion, fit for a family of the first distinction." The rooms were of good size—a beautiful lawn before the door—a well-filled garden behind—fields, hedges, trees all round—and the river winding through brushwood a few hundred yards in front. It did not take long to settle about terms. We were installed the very next day; and, after our ten days' wanderings, it was no little satisfaction to find once more

"All that the heart can dream of heaven
—a home!"

Trunks were unpacked, books laid on the table, and, in spite of the season of the year, a roaring fire went rushing up the chimney; and as we looked round, after candles were brought in, and the novel skies and unaccustomed earth shut out, we could hardly believe we had gone through such a succession of coaches and cars, boats, busses, and flies—Yorks, Westerns, Beauforts, Angels, Swans, Lions, and other beasts of hospitable inclinations—but that we had long been completely settled in our present quarters, while all these conveyances and hotels were the phantasmata of a dreadful dream.

Even in the best furnished houses, in Aladdin's palace itself, new-comers always discover some deficiency; and a few things were wanting in this to complete our felicity;—but Fate, which had frowned from every sign-board on us for a long time, was now determined to make up for her bad behaviour, and at that moment put into our hands a catalogue of household goods to be sold the very next day, a few miles off, at Oakfield Lodge. The one-horse car was again put in requisition, and our hostess—the kindest of women—accompanied us to the sale, and by nodding at intervals to the auctioneer, procured all the articles required.

A sale is always a melancholy event. A house looks so miserable with all its carpets and chairs and tables piled in useless heaps—the beds dismantled—and the rooms filled with a staring crowd, handling every thing, and passing its vulgar judgment upon curtains and drapery that the proprietor perhaps thought finer than those of a Grecian statue—on pier-glasses which had reflected shapes of love or beauty—on the polish of mahogany that had been set in a roar with wit,—a low, mean, savage-hearted crowd, bent on making bargains, and caring nothing for the associations that make commonest furniture more valuable than cedar and ebony. The auction on this occasion lasted nearly a week; and day after day the whole population of the neighbourhood streamed to it like a fair. It was a handsome house, and the arrangement of the rooms spoke audibly[Pg 475] of taste and comfort. Selling the things that agreed together so well, to go into separate situations—the library table to one town—the library chairs to another—seemed very like selling a family of slaves to different masters; so, after a cursory glance at the dwelling, we betook ourselves in solitary rumination to the banks of the river. And a quiet, steady, calm, respectable kind of river the Usk is—not of the high aristocratic appearance of the Wye, with wild outbursts of youthful petulance softened immediately into grace and elegance—but a sedate individual, like a retired citizen, well to do in the world, and glad to jog on as uninterruptedly as he can. The grounds of Oakfield slope down to the water—and beautiful grounds they are—a line of rich meadows, shaded with stately trees, and divided into numerous portions by invisible wires, stretches for several miles along the banks; and the abrupt elevation, bounding this level sweep of grass and stream, affords an admirable site for two or three of the moderate-sized and tasteful villas that seem the characteristics of this vicinity. On pursuing our way through field and fell towards the suspension bridge over the river, we saw, emerging from a wood, a figure that Isaac Walton would have adopted immediately for his son and heir. He was a good-looking young man, but so piscatorially habilimented that there was no making out his order or degree from his external sophistications. Round his hat were twined spare lines; on his back, as Paris's quiver hung over his shoulder broad, was suspended a fish-basket; an iron blade of a foot or so in length formed the end of his rod; and, as if he had been afraid of the disciples of the gentle Rebecca, he bore an instrument something between a Highland claymore and a reaping-hook; and as we looked on his accoutrements, we thought we would not be a trout in such a neighbourhood on any consideration. Escape must be impossible for everything with fins, from a thirty-pound salmon to a minnow. As we got near him, he handled his rod with a skill and dexterity that left the young waterman far behind in the management of his oars; and, after a whisk or too in the upper air, he deposited the hook and line, not on the ripple in the middle of the Usk, but on the bough of an elm-tree.

"Here's a mess!" he said, with a half-despairing, half-angry look at the entanglement. He pulled, and it seemed firmer at every tug. We approached to render what aid we could.

"Here's a mess!" again he said.

"You can scarcely call it a kettle of fish," was our sympathizing reply; and by the aid of crooked sticks to hold the bough with, and the warlike weapon, which cut off some of the branches, the hook was regained, the fly found uninjured, and with mutual good wishes we each took off his several way.

There seems a good deal of amateur fishing in this country. In the course of our walk to the bridge, we saw three or four individuals flogging the water with great energy, who had evidently been fitted out in Bond Street, or who were perhaps taking out the value of the dresses in which they had enacted piscators at the fancy ball; but their success, we are sorry to say, was in no degree proportioned to the completeness of their preparations; and we suspect that people with less adornments, and a much more scanty apparatus of flies and fish-baskets, are the real discoverers of the treasures of the deep in the shape of trout and sewin. This latter fish, the sewin, we may add in passing, is a luxury of which the Usk has great reason to boast; for it is better than any thing we remember of the salmon kind, except the inimitable grilses at Stirling.

On returning from the sale, with the carriage loaded with our purchases, we disposed our new acquisitions in the different rooms, and laid ourselves out for a few weeks' enjoyment of the blest retirement—friend to life's decline—which we had struggled so hard to gain, and which now looked so satisfying in every point.

There is nothing to be compared, for comfort and beauty, to a dairy-farm. Arable lands are detestable; and the windows of the house generally look into a horrible yard, where the present agonies of the nose are made tolerable only by the hope of the rich crop to come. Here our windows looked upon a sloping green field, bounded from the road by a good[Pg 476] thick hedge, at the distance of seventy or eighty yards. Beyond the road stretched fine luxuriant meadows, each bordered with its fence of noble elms, down to the river; so that we had nothing to do but cross the road, and wander among fields and hedgerows, miles and miles, either east or west—always within hearing of the gentle voice of the Usk, and often in sight of the long, still reaches of the river, that looked like beautiful lakes, fringed to the water side with willows and flowering shrubs. Seventeen or eighteen cows were our fellow-lodgers at the farm; and no sight is more fascinating, especially if you are fond of warm milk, than the long majestic march, and musical invocations, of the milky mothers, as they come home at evening from the pastures. Before three days were over, the names of all the cows were household words among the young ones; their very voices were distinguished; and it was decided that the flower of the flock, as to beauty, was Glo'ster, though some of us stoutly maintained that the whiteness of Handsome entitled her to the prize. Then there were about thirty sheep; but with them (in spite of frequent intercourse) we could only make out a general acquaintance—for we disbelieve altogether in the possibility of distinguishing one of the flock from the others. It must be the easiest thing in the world for a sheep to establish an alibi; and we are rather surprised that the impossibility of detection does not encourage some of the bolder of the woolly-sided heroes to some desperate outrage. There could be no identifying the culprit. But we saw no instance of spirit among them, except a wicked attempt on the part of a young lamb to overthrow authorities and powers; and we are sorry to say it was successful. Our friend the farmer discovered the presence of some insects in the wool, or rather in the body, of one of the yearlings. He proceeded, attended by us all, to extirpate this fatal enemy with his shears; and, having seized the sufferer, put its head between his knees, and proceeded to lay bare the hiding-place of the devouring grub. By some unlucky chance, the lamb got its head loose, pushed forward with two or three tremendous jumps, and the operator was thrown on his back, his feet in the air, and the shears held helplessly up in his discomfited hands. It created great consternation among the spectators; and the two younger children, after looking on in speechless amazement, thought, probably, that the assailant was a tiger in disguise, and sought safety ignominiously in flight. The patient—the lamb, we mean—was again submitted to the shears, the grub extirpated, and the cure, we believe, effected. The muscular power of a sheep is tremendous; and, if it were to get its head between the ankles of the brazen Achilles, down would fall the glory of Hyde Park. It is lucky they have not found out the secret of their strength, as they might take such a dangerous attitude as materially to raise the price of mutton—a consummation by no means to be wished.

In addition to the cows and sheep, and innumerable multitudes of chickens and turkeys, the farm boasted a goodly array of horses. These would have made a poor figure at Newmarket, as they were no kin to Godolphin or Eclipse—but in plough or harrow they looked respectable. There was an old mare, and her daughter, and her daughter's daughter—Grannie, and Polly, and Rose by name. There were also another mare and her foal; but our acquaintance was confined to the three generations—or rather to the two—for Grannie was old and stupid; and as the farmer sported a fine old-fashioned strong rough gig, we occasionally pressed Polly into the service, put two or three children on footstools in the front, brandished a whip that had done duty at the plough, and trotted off with the easy dignity of four miles an hour, and lionized the whole neighbourhood. Amidst bumps, and thumps, and bursts of laughter at the unwieldy turn-out, the excursion was pleasanter than if made in a chariot and four.

One day we started off to visit Ragland Castle; the distance was five or six miles, the day beautiful, the mare in splendid order, and the[Pg 477] whip ornamented with a new lash. Disregarding the whinnyings and neighings with which the family received our steed as we passed the field where they were all assembled to see us at the gate, from Grannie down to the foal, we applied the thong vigorously, and chirruped, and whistled, and cried "Gee!" and Hither!" and got fairly into a trot; and an easy thing it is to maintain the pace after you have once got into it—in fact, you find some difficulty in getting into a slower rate; and if by any chance we pulled up altogether to see a view, Polly, who was no judge of the picturesque, was very apt to turn round and run away home—if the word "run away" can be applied to a very determined walk, with no regard whatever to bit and rein. A struggle of this sort was very apt to occur at Llansaintfraed Lodge, meaning, we are told, in the original, the Church of St Bridget—and a pretty church it is. It is in a park of moderate size, crowning a gentle elevation; a carriage-drive leads to it, nicely gravelled, for it is the approach to Llansaintfraed House. The church, when we saw it, was all festooned over the porch and a portion of the walls, with honeysuckle in full show; roses and other flowers were planted all round, and a fine solid stone cross threw its beautiful shadow over the graves. The church is very small and very old, and owes a part of its good condition to the good fortune of having had the late Bishop of Llandaff for a parishioner. Some years ago he occupied Llansaintfraed House, and rescued the parish from the disgrace of a ruinous and neglected church. It is only to be wished that every parish had its manor occupied so well—for a district with churches so shamefully fallen into disrepair we never saw. In all the churchyards, for instance, the piety of our forefathers had raised a cross; and it surely does not argue a man to be a Puseyite, if he thinks highly of such an emblem in such a place; and in every instance, except this one of Llansaintfraed, the hand of the spoiler hath been upon it. The cross, in every instance, is broken, and only a portion of the broken pillar remaining. If the archdeacon disapproves of the cross, let it be removed altogether; but if not, let it be repaired, and not left to affront the parishioners with the daily spectacle of the rate-payers' meanness and the clergyman's neglect. So, having managed to get Polly's head round again—for she had availed herself of our pause to whisk homeward—we proceed on our way to Ragland. Welsh precisians, we perceive, call it Rhaglan—and probably attach a nobler meaning to the name than can be forced out of the Saxon Rag and Land; but as novelists and historians have agreed in calling it Ragland, we shall keep to the old spelling in spite of sennachie and bard. A short way beyond Llansaintfraed is the handsome gate and beautiful park of Clytha; the gate surmounted by a magnificent and highly ornamented Gothic arch, and the mansion-house pure Grecian—an allegory, perhaps, of the gradual civilization of mankind, or the process by which chivalrous knights are turned into Christian gentlemen. The house is modern, and even the arch without much pretension to antiquity; but the family stretching far back into the gloom of ages, and lineal ancestors of the antediluvian patriarchs. Since the Deluge, however, they have restricted themselves to this part of Monmouthshire; and judging from the number of Joneses—which is the great name in the neighbourhood—there seems no great chance of the genealogical tree being in want of branches. There is nothing so strange in a new vicinity as the different weight attached to family names. We have known districts where the word Smith itself, even without the fictitious dignity of y in the middle and e at the end, was pronounced with great veneration. Jones—elsewhere sacred to the comic muse—is of as potent syllable—unluckily it has only one—along the banks of the Usk, as Scott or Douglas on the Nith and Yarrow. And such is the effect of territorial or moral association, that we shall willingly withdraw an objection we made to a line in the tragedy of [Pg 478]our late friend J—— S——, where some one, speaking of the patriot Pym—to eye and ear the most pithless and contemptible of cognomens—says,

"There is a sound of thunder in the name."

We have no doubt there was a very distinct peal of heaven's dread artillery in the ear of that bitter-hearted Roundhead every time he heard the magic word—Pym.

The family highest in mere antiquity in Monmouthshire, we are told, rejoices in the curious-looking name of Progers. From them are descended the noble Beauforts, and even the Joneses of Clytha. For hundreds of years, the Progerses had kept going down-hill; estate after estate had disappeared; farm after farm took to flight; till, thirty or forty years ago, the blood of the Progerses flowed in the veins of a poor gentleman with about two hundred a-year, a house in very bad repair, and family pride that seemed to flourish in proportion as every thing else decayed. Some tourist, in the course of his researches, encountered this Monmouthshire Marins sitting among the ruins of his former state. The tourist was of a genealogical turn of mind, and the Desdichado poured forth his hoarded boasts in his sympathizing ear. "Out of this house," he said, pointing mechanically to the tottering walls of his family mansion, but metaphorically alluding to the House of Progers, "came the Joneses of Clytha and Llanerth—out of this house came the noble Somersets, now Dukes of Beaufort;" and so he went on, relating all the great and powerful names that had owed their origin to his house. The tourist seems also to have had some knowledge of architecture, for his answer to the catalogue was—"Well, sir, it's my advice to you to come out of this house yourself as quickly as you can, or it will be down upon you some of these days to a certainty."

On passing Clytha, we enter into a territory which might more justly be called Somersetshire than the county the other side of the channel. The Dukes of Beaufort seem paramount wherever you go; and in every town, and even in all the villages, there is sure to be a house of entertainment with the royal portcullis on the signpost, and the name of the Beaufort Arms. The domains of the family must be larger than half a dozen foreign principalities; and, from all we heard, the conduct of the present noble Somerset is worthy of his high position—liberal, kind-hearted, magnificent. One thing very pleasant to see was the little garden-ground taken from the road, and attached to nice clean cottages, almost all the way. Little portions, about thirty feet in depth, and considerable length, formed the wealth and ornament of the wayside dwellings. They were all well filled with apple and other fruit-trees, and stocked with useful vegetables. If this is the plan of enclosing commons, we wish we were in Parliament to give Lord Worsley our aid; for a few perches, well hedged and carefully kept, are worth all the rights of pasture, whether of cows, geese, or donkeys, that ever the poor possessed. Inside of this fringe of rustic independencies, snug farm-houses rose up in all directions; but, with a perverseness which seems characteristic of the whole county, and not limited to farm-houses, or even semi-genteel villas, no sooner does a man fix on a nice situation—a rising knoll beside a river—a gentle slope—or beautiful level green—no sooner does he rear a modest, or perhaps an ornamental, mansion on the site, than his next care is to plant as thick round it as the trees will stand. Elms, poplars, oaks, and larches, in a few years block up the view; and arbutus, rododendrons, and enormous Portugal laurels, stand as an impenetrable screen before every window; so that a house, which by its architecture ought to be an ornament to the neighbourhood, and should command noble hills and rich valleys, might as well be a wigwam in an Indian forest. There seems a greater tendency to rheumatism than romance among the inhabitants; and, by the by, we observed on all the walls Welsh placards of Parr's pills. But in spite of the large letters, and the populousness of the towns and villages where they were posted up, we did not see a single individual reading the announcements. Query, can the Welsh peasantry read[Pg 479] Welsh? or is their book-learning limited to English, and their native tongue left to its oral freedom, untrammeled with A, B, C? In addition to the usual fence of impenetrable trees and shrubs, we noticed one pretty little dwelling, newly built, a mile or two from the village of Ragland, tastefully ornamented with an immense heap of compost, which nearly barricaded the drawing-room window. The inhabitant must have been a prodigious agriculturist; and probably preferred the useful, but unromantic heap, to any other object in the view. We gave it the name of Guano Hall.

But where, all this while, is Ragland Castle, and when will the old mare jiggle joggle to the end of our course? All eyes were kept in constant motion to catch a glimpse of the towers and pinnacles, of which we felt sure we were now within a mile. Trees, trees, and nothing but trees, with sometimes a glimpse of blue hills far off, and wreaths of smoke from cottages or farms rising above the wilderness of leaves. At last, on a little elevation on the left hand, rising solemnly, into the silent air, we caught sight of the old ruin, with great ponderous walls, covered with ivy, and the sky seen through the open arches of its immense windows. A beautiful mass of building, with such rents and fissures in it, that you wondered whether it was ever entire; and the walls so thick and massive that you wondered again how it ever fell into decay. We hobbled into the village, keeping the castle in view the whole time, got good quarters for the mare at the first hostel we encountered, and proceeded up a country lane to spend an hour or two among the ruins. The entrance is very fine, and might give rise to grand historic emotions in people fond of the feudal and sublime; but in our instance such a train of thought would have been impossible, for just inside of the majestic portal sat an old harper thrumming away at the pathetic melody of Jenny Jones. He might as well have played Jim Crow at once, for romance was put to flight, and we speedily got as far as we could from the descendant of Talessin. The Duke of Beaufort has fitted up the ruins in a way that would have gratified the heart of Mrs Radcliffe. Winding stairs lead, in the thickness of the walls, from tower to tower, and the dim corridors and dizzying bartizans are made safe to the most timid of Cockneys by stout wooden banisters, that enable you to stand as securely on a crumbling battlement as on the top of Salisbury plain. We saw the courts and quadrangles, admired the splendid windows, and only wondered at the lowness of the ceilings of some of the principal rooms, as from floor to floor could not have been more than seven feet and a half. There were fountain courts without a fountain; and chapel-yards with no chapel; why should we speak of kitchens, conjuring up visions of roasted oxen, and butteries suggestive of hogsheads of home-brewed ale, when fire-places are now choked up, and nothing is left of the buttery but a pile of broken stones? At first, on going in, we dilated on the grand things we should do in the way of restoration if we were the lord of the castle. First, we would fit it up exactly as it was in the brave days of old: we should have new floors put in the audience-chamber; a roof on the great dining-hall; a stately dais at the upper end, and get it from the hands of Pugin—the identical castle of the days of Elizabeth. But, on closer inspection, we came to the conclusion that the natural condition of such buildings is that of interesting remains. The rooms are low, the passages are dark, the bed-rooms dog-kennels, the stairs ladders, the court-yards damp, the windows all turned the wrong way, and, in short, the sixteenth century an excellent trimmer of popes and conqueror of armadas, but a very bad architect.

In one of the court-yards was a flock of sheep nibbling at the grass that had been trodden by the great marquis, as he walked down after his noble defence, to deliver his sword to the Parliamentarian Fairfax. Has Cattermole or Charles Landseer never thought of the brave old cavalier, at the age of eighty-five, surrendering his ancestral home,—surrounded by his sorrowing garrison, and bearing himself with the true dig[Pg 480]nity of a heroic noble? Let them think of this, and send us a proof print.

Leader of the sheep was the most beautiful ram that ever was seen since Aries was made a star. All our common-place muttons at home sank into insignificance at once. The children patted it, and fed it, and kissed it,—and to all their endearments it answered in the most bewitching manner. It followed them like a dog, and rubbed its head against them, and it was soon very evident that the greatest beauty of Ragland Castle, in certain eyes, was thickly cased in wool. The ancient gardener told us it had once taken such a fancy to one of the visitors, that it had followed her up a hundred and sixty steps to the very top of the signal tower,—and the old lady was so pleased with it, she wished to take it home with her, though she lived two or three hundred miles off. And certainly if ever a pet of such a size was allowable, it must have been the gentle creature before us. But all things are deceitful—gentle-looking rams among the number,—for on the discontinuance of our gifts, he waxed all of a sudden very wroth, and favoured the youngest of the party with a butt, that made her not know whether she was on her head or her heels—which is an extraordinary specimen of ignorance, for she was exactly half-way between both. So, converting our admiration of the golden fleece into a kick, we raised the astonished victim of his anger, and after a delightful stroll got into our gig again, and in due time arrived at our comfortable home.

We have heard of people being a month at Cairo, and never going to see the Pyramids,—a circumstance which does not give a very lofty idea of their activity. We determined to show those stay-at-homes a good example, and not remain a week in Monmouthshire without visiting the Wye. Again the old gig was put in requisition; but on this occasion we succeeded in borrowing a horse of a neighbouring farmer, that trotted merrily up and down hill at a reasonable pace; and away we started on one of the few warm days of this hyperborean summer, on our way to the town of Monmouth. Great is the enjoyment of passing through a beautiful country on a fine clear day in June. There was no dust—the sun was not too hot—the hedges were in full leaf, and no drawback to our felicity except a preternatural dread of stone heaps by the roadside, on the part of our steed, which: kept us on the alert to try and pull in the proper direction the moment he shied to the side. All other objects in nature or art it passed with the equanimity of a sage; tilted waggons with the wind flapping their canvass coverings with a sound and motion that would justify a little tremor in the heart of Bucephalus—stagecoaches, loaded with men and luggage, rushing down-hill at fifteen miles an hour, and apparently determined to force their way over our very heads. Against all these it showed the most unflinching courage; but if it came to a heap of stones, large or small, broken or entire, it lost its presence of mind in a moment, and would have jumped for safety into the ditch at the other side of the road, if not restrained by a pull at the rein, and a good cut of the whip scientifically applied. Even the milestone was an object of great alarm; and as there were twelve of them on the way, and the cowardly creature never by any chance missed seeing them, however deep they were sunk in hedges, or buried in grassy banks, we never required to distinguish the figures on the stones, but calculated the progress we made by the number of starts and struggles. After a dozen of these debates, which created great amusement among the juveniles of the party, we arrived at the clean delightful town of Monmouth—and here let us make amends for the disparaging mention of this place in our former narrative of House-Hunting in Wales. The weather on that occasion was very bad, and the inn we lunched at a very poor and uncomfortable one. When a person's principal acquaintance with a town consists in his experience of its wet streets and tough beef steaks, it is no wonder that his impressions are not of the most agreeable kind. On the present occasion we drove to the Beaufort Arms, and, in imitation of the Marquis of Exeter, "we pulled[Pg 481] at the bell with a lordly air." The hostler and his curates rushed zealously from the further end of the yard, and received us with astonishing command of face—not a grin was visible, even the waiters stood with decorous solemnity, while child after child was lifted down, and all out of one gig. They rather looked on with the pleased expression we have seen on the countenances of a rural audience when Mr Ingilby, or other juggler, produced, out of some unaccountably prolific hat, a stewing-pan, a salt cellar, a couple of eggs, a brood of chickens, and finally the maternal hen. We ordered a cold dinner to be put into baskets, with a moderate accompaniment of bottles and glasses—enquired if a boat was to be had to take us up the Wye—were recommended to a certain barge-master of the name of Williams; and, in a very short space of time, were safely stowed in a beautiful clipper, thirty feet long, with only nine inches draught of water, with a gorgeous morning over our heads, luxurious cushions on the seats, a tug, in the shape of a most strong, active fellow, pulling us by the towing-path, and, seated at the helm, the most civil, the most polite, the most communicative, and the most talkative man that it ever was our fortune to meet. He united in his own person a vast multiplicity of trades and offices. He was innkeeper, boat-builder, boat-owner, pilot, turner, Bristol-trader, wood-merchant, coracle-maker, fisherman, historian, and, above all, a warrior of the most tremendous courage. In all of these capacities he had no rival; and as it was his own boat, his native town, his own river, and we were merely his passengers, he had it all his own way. He stood up in the excitement of his discourse, and talked without a moment's intermission—sometimes to us—sometimes to a little boy he had brought on board to look after the baskets—sometimes to the man on the towing-path—and sometimes to himself; but at all times there fell thick and fast about our ears the words of Thomas Williams; and of all his words, Thomas Williams was the hero. As people get used to the noise of a waterfall, at last we stood the perpetual sound without any inconvenience, and carried on quiet conversation, or sank into silent admiration, as we floated past the bold cliffs, or soft-wooded shores, of the sylvan Wye.

For the first mile or two from Monmouth, the hermit of the woods is nothing to boast of. The banks are low; the water sluggish; and the scenery common-place. The beauties begin at a bend of the river, where Mr Blakemore has built a large and comfortable-looking house. On a high, conical hill above the mansion, there stands a lofty gazebo of open iron-work, commanding a view of we don't remember how many counties; but before our cicerone had got half-way into an account of each of them, with their capital towns, the names of the present mayors, and the noble families he had supplied with cricket-bats, we had passed far away among the noble scenery of the oak district; and our friend launched into a description of oak plantations in general—the value of oaks per acre—the sum paid to Lord George for his estate, which was bought by government fourteen years ago, the last time the duke was in power—

"What duke?"

An unlucky question, for it led into a disquisition o all dukes, ancient and modern, and an encomium on the late Duke of Beaufort, as the best soldier that England had ever produced. "He was a true soldier's friend, and flogged every soul that came on parade-ground with a dirty shirt. I don't think there was ever seen such a militia regiment—there was a sight more flogging in it than the reg'lars—so it was quite a comfort to some fellers that didn't like it, to go into the line. I was in it myself; but I liked the duke, though he would have flogged me as soon as look at me. And such dinners he gave us when our time was over—it was dreadful—six of our corporals died of drinking in one month. He was certainly the greatest officer ever I see. I was threatened myself with a thing they call delirium tremens, for he dined us in tents for a fortnight at a time. It's a pity the French never landed; we would have licked them like sacks. I hates a Frenchman, and hope to have a fling at 'em yet."

In the mean time we had glided[Pg 482] further and further into the leafy recesses of the river. Such banks are nowhere else to be seen—high perpendicular cliffs, broken off in all manner of fantastic shapes; sometimes a great rock standing up bare, smooth, and majestic, like a vast tower of some gigantic cathedral; sometimes a solitary column, higher and more massive than any of an architect's designing, with its capital ornamented with self-sown shrubs, and its base washed by the rippling water. Each of these called forth an anecdote from our guide, philosopher, and friend—one was "the scene of the great fight between Characterus and the Romans. The Romans licked 'em; for them Welsh was never no great shakes. I could lick any three ancient Britons I ever saw myself—and they knows it. And, as to Characterus, he could be no great general, or he never would have fought on that side of the water. He should have come across to the other side, and he would have licked them Romans to a certainty."

We thought it was a pity Mr Williams, who, in spite of his contempt for the ancient Britons, was as true a Welshman as ever ate his leek, had not been of the council of war of Caractacus—for it was the scene of his great struggle we were passing. The ground still bears the name of Slaughter Field, and was a fit altar on which to offer the last victims to national freedom. The scenery all round it is of the noblest character—rock and wood, and the mountain chain that they hoped had shut out the invader. The river bends round it, and enables you to keep for a long time in view the plain where the battle was fought, and the rude remains of what is considered to have been the Roman encampment. After an hour or two delightfully spent in gliding under enormous cliffs, and winding among woods of all hues and sizes, hanging over the precipice, and waving their branches almost down to the water's edge, we arrived at our point of destination, a high rock called Simon's Yatt, which our agreeable companion described as the finest thing in the world. On bringing to at the landing-place, we found we had nearly a mile to walk up a steep road, newly escarped on the side of the hill; and setting ourselves manfully to the effort, we began our march—Williams insisted on being the useful member of the party. He offered, in the plenitude of his strength, to carry the shawls, to carry a couple of children, to carry ourselves; he thought nothing of weights; he was used to hard labour; he rather liked some difficult thing to do; and finally, nearly broke down under the burden of one of the provision baskets; stopping every now and then to rest, and evidently over-tasked. The day was very hot—the soil was a red ironstone—there was no shelter from the pervading sun—and the ascent was on an inclination of at least one foot in six; at last, however, urged on by a desire to enjoy the prospect—and the lunch—and also with a malicious intention, shared by the whole party, to walk our companion to death, we surmounted all difficulties, wound round a rocky eminence at the top, and suddenly found ourselves on a beautifully wooded platform, six or seven hundred feet above the river, and in the enjoyment of the most surprising view we ever saw. The river Wye takes a sharp turn round the foot of this enormous projection, not only winding round the extremity, but actually flowing down on one side exactly as it flowed up on the other, leaving Simon's Yatt as a sort of wedge inserted in its course; and presents the extraordinary effect of the same river at the same moment running both north and south. The summit of Simon's Yatt is not above fifty feet wide, and the descent on one side is perpendicular, showing the river directly under your feet, and on the other is nearly precipitous, leaving only room, between its base and the river, for a most picturesque assemblage of cottages called the New-Weir village. Directly in front is the rich level champaign, containing the town of Ross at a considerable distance, Goodrich Priory, and many other residences, from the feudal Castle to the undated Grange. On the horizon-line you recognise Ledbury, the Malvern hills; and the whole outline of the Black mountains. On the right, where the river careers along in its backward course, you see the interminable foliage of the forest of Dean, and the rich valleys of Glo'stershire.[Pg 483] A very handsome house, about a mile down the river, attracted our attention. "It's a reg'lar good billet," said Mr Williams, breaking off from some other piece of information with which he was regaling the idle wind, for by this time we had acquired a power of not hearing a word he said; "and it's a great shame, the gent as owns it never lives in it. He is a very great man in foreign parts; and the Pope is his uncle. So, in course, he always lives in France to be near his great relations." No cross-examination could shake his statement of this genealogical curiosity; so we looked with increased interest on the mansion of the Pope's nephew, whose principal merit by the by, in Mr William's eyes, was, that he had once furnished him with a coracle. After gratifying our eyes for a long time with the surprising prospect, we found a nice shady spot in a plantation at a little distance; spread shawls and cloaks upon the grass, and were soon engaged in the mysteries of cold meat, hard-boiled eggs, an excellent salad, and Guinness's porter—not to mention a beautiful gooseberry tart and sparkling ginger-beer. Some feasts have been more splendid, and some perhaps more seasoned with eloquence and wisdom—but, as the Vicar of Wakefield says of the united party of the Primroses and the Flamboroughs, "If there was not much wit among the company, there was a great deal of laughter, and that did just as well." So we laughed a good hour among the shady walks at Simon's Yatt—managed for five whole minutes to stop our companion's conversation by filling his mouth with beef and porter, distributed the fragments among a hungry and admiring population of young coal-heavers who looked on—like a group starting out of Murillo's pictures—and with empty baskets and joyous hearts set off on our homeward way. We glided at our own sweet will down the river, exchanged the bark for our plethoric gig, and in due course of time, after twelve starts at the twelve milestones, arrived in safety at our home.

By this time there were no symptoms left of deficient health and strength—the invalid would have done for an honorary member of the club of fat people recorded in the Spectator; and we looked, with disdain on the level territory on the banks of the Usk, and longed for hills to climb, and walls to get over, and rocks to overcome, like knights-errant in search of adventures. No walk was too great for us. We thought of challenging Captain Barclay to a match against time, or of travelling through England as the Pedestrian Wonders. Walker, the twopenny postman, would have had no chance against us. So, merely by way of practice, we started off one day, with straw-hats and short summer frocks, and every other accompaniment of a professed pedestrian's turn-out, and away we went on a pilgrimage to the churchyard of Llanvair Kilgiden. Through rich fields of grass we sauntered—over stiles we leapt—through hedges we dashed—and occasionally became prosaic enough to walk on for half a mile or so in a country lane, but generally we preferred trespassing through a corn-field, and losing our way in searching for a short cut across a plantation; and at last, after many hairbreadth 'scapes—after being terrified by the bellowing of a bull, which turned out to be a sentimental cow giving vent to her agitated feelings in what somebody calls a "gentle voice and low"—after nearly losing half the party by the faithlessness of a plank that crossed a ditch that swarmed with an innumerable multitude of tadpoles—after surpassing these, and many other perils, we at last got into the quiet road that leads from Penty Goitre bridge down to the church of Llanvair—a large, solemn-looking churchyard, ornamented with a goodly array of splendid yew-trees, and boasting, at some former period, a majestic stone cross, now of course defaced, and the very square it stood upon moss-grown and in ruins. The church itself is a plain quiet structure, but the sylvan beauty and peaceful seclusion of the situation cannot be surpassed. We measured the great yews, and several of them were twenty-four or twenty-five feet in circumference at four feet from the ground. There were some graves enclosed in railings, and surrounded by evergreens and rose-trees; and the sentiment of the[Pg 484] place was not destroyed by a few nibbling sheep that cropped the short grass on the graves where the rude forefathers of the hamlet slept. Can the sepulchral muses have found their way to so remote a district as this? Have "afflictions sore" and "vain physicians" obtained a sculptor among the headstones of this out-of-the-way place? We made a survey of the inscriptions, as a very sure guide to the state of education among the peasantry, and are compelled to confess that the schoolmaster had decidedly gone abroad. Even monuments of some pretension to grandeur, with full-cheeked cherubs on the sides, and solid stones on the top, offered no better specimens of spelling and composition that this:—

"Laden with age my years they flew—
The Lord is holy, just, and trew."


And on the slab, over a child of three years old, the following pithy observation:—

"If life and care could death pervent,
My days would not so soon been spent."


The sculptor, in many instances, (being tired probably of chiselling the same words over and over,) had attempted an improvement by altering the arrangement of the lines,—an ingenious device on his part, and a pleasing puzzle to the spectator:—

"A tender husband and a father
dear, a faithful friend lies
buried hear, he was true and
just in all his ways, he do
deserve this worthey praise."


To the memory of Margaret, wife of John Hall, appeared some lines of a superior kind, with which we never met elsewhere:—

"You see around me richer neighbours lie
As deep and still in this cold ground as I;
From ease and plenty they were called away—
Could I in lingering sickness wish to stay?
When faith supports the body worn with pain,
To live is nothing but to die is gain."


But as if to show that the muse had made a very flying visit to the hamlet, and had left the mason, on the next occasion, to his own unassisted genius, the epitaph on two other members of the same family runs thus:—

"When in the world we did remain,
Our latter days was grief and pain,
But God above he thought it best
To take we to a place of rest."


What can it be that induces people, who were probably as unpoetical as Audrey in their lives, to wish the ornament of verse upon their tombstones? The effect must be almost ludicrous upon those who were acquainted with the living individual, to hear "the long resounding march and energy divine" of heroics and Alexandrines proceeding from him, now he is dead. Philosophy put by the epitaph-writer in the mouths of a chaw-bacon—moral reflections on the loveliness of virtue in the mouth of a poor-law overseer—and noble incitements to follow a good example in the mouth of the bully or drunkard of the parish, must be far from useful to the surviving generation. We therefore highly approve of the remarks of a sententious gentleman in this churchyard, who seems to lay no great claim to extraordinary merit himself, but favours his co-parishioners with very useful advice:—

"Farewell, vain world, I've seen enough of thee,
And now am careless what thou say'st of me,—
Thy smiles I court not, nor thy frowns I fear;
My cares are past; my head lies quiet here—
What faults thou see'st in me take care to shun—
Look well at home; enough there's to be done."


By the time we had transferred these and other inscriptions to our note-book, the party were refreshed and ready for the homeward walk. We got over the same stiles and underwent the same dangers as before, and happily completed our voyage of discovery to the beautiful churchyard of Llanvair.

Day after day saw us all busy in ferreting out fine views or old manor-houses—the little Skirrid or old Llangattock. Sometimes we crossed the river and wandered through the deli[Pg 485]cious lanes of Llanover, or passed through Llanellen on our way to the Blorenge. As our courage and strength expanded, we tried bolder flights—spent a day among the smoke and thunder of the Nantiglo ironworks—with processions of thousands of men hurrying off amidst music, and shouts of the most tremendous loudness, to a dinner at their club. Great, hard-featured, savage-looking fellows they were, though in their holiday attire, and accompanied by one or two of the Bailey family—the real iron kings of the neighbourhood; and a sight of their grim features and brawny arms gave us a more vivid respect for the courage of Sir Thomas Philips, who drove them back from the sack and massacre of Newport; and also a clearer idea of the almost justifiable hardihood of the worshipful Mister Frost, in thinking that with ten or twelve thousand souls, made of fire, and children of the mine, he could upset Old England, and be himself the legitimate successor of King Coal.

Another day we spent among the ruins of Llantony Abbey, one of the finest remains of ecclesiastical architecture in the kingdom. The person who owns the ground and the ruins, is a poet, a philosopher, a scholar, so at least he wishes to be thought; but from the condition of the abbey, (a small pot-house protruding its vulgar sign from one of the noble entrances, and a skittle-ground being established in the main aisle—desolation, neglect, and dirtiness all around,) we formed no very high estimate of the taste or feeling of Mr Walter Savage Landor. If he had no higher object than merely to keep up the beauty of the building, you might expect that he would have guarded it from the degradation of beer, tobacco, and British spirits. A man of a poetical mind would have taken care to prevent such miserable associations as are supplied by a tap and skittle-ground;—a person of loftier and purer sentiments would have shown more reverence for the genius loci, and would have remembered that the walls were once vocal with Christian prayers, and that what in other instances would be only negligence, is profanation here. But probably the innkeeper pays his rent regularly, and we hope will be made the interlocutor in an imaginary conversation with the last abbot of Llantony.

The object we had in coming into Wales was now entirely gained; and after ten weeks most happy wanderings over hill and dale, and constantly breathing the clear fresh air of Monmouthshire, we packed up bag and baggage, and returned to our home with a stock of health laid in for winter use, which will keep us constantly in mind of the benefits we derived from change of scene.

[Pg 486]



Garden of the Villa Reale.

This garden—which, during the winter months, is the lounge of the English idler at Naples, and then looks as flowerless and dingy as Kensington in an east wind—assumes a very different appearance in spring. On the 7th of May, we, who had passed the winter at Rome, were at once struck with the brilliancy of unusual blossoms, and the number of distinguished vegetable foreigners who lifted their heads out of parterres, of the very existence of which in winter one is scarcely conscious. The formal line of clipt Ilex that looks towards the sea, had changed its dusky hue for a warmer tint; statues that had been doing sentinel all the winter without relief, now seem to bend delighted over fragrant flower-beds, and enjoy the spring. Two high shrubs in flower (Metresiglias) hoist from opposite beds, the one its white, the other its red banner. Two of the Muses, the Speciosa and Paravisogna, or bread-tree plant, were raising their light spiry trunks out of a corbeille taller than a life-guardsman. They want no hothouse in Naples:—would you shade your face from the sun, an elsewhere exotic, the Brazilian Camarotta at your feet, furnishes you with a screen. The white flocks of the Acacia verticillata are peeping out from the ranks of those small triangular leaves, which are so singularly attached, without stalks, by one of these angles to the stem. Amidst these pleasant perfumes camphor would be unwelcome, but there is the laurel that yields it. Fennel has here become a tree, in which, like the mustard of the Gospels, the fowls of the air may lodge; we are dwarfs beside it! Three kinds of the soft, slimy Mallow of the Marsh are here so much WOODY and so tall, that we must pick their flowers on tiptoe. The flattened disk of the sky-blue Nana arborea contrasts with the Betula sanguinea, glowing deeply in the flower-bed of many lighter-coloured petals; the sweet-scented African laurel grows against the long-leafed Babylonian willow, which susurrates droopingly over your head, as if it were "by the waters of Babylon." The fountains, with their hydrophilous tribes, add to the charm; and many a beautiful Launaria aquatica had already buoyed himself up on his large cordate leaves on the surface of the tazza, and was filling his vegetable skin with water. All these beauties and peculiarities, a mere scantling of the whole of the Villa Reale, escape the lounger, and the nurserymaids, and children, and those of either sex who have appointments to keep, or to look out for; and the soldiers, and the police, and the Neapolitan nobility and gentry, and the pickpockets, and others:—to the nurseryman and botanist, things not to be forgotten; and at present the weather is not too hot to interfere with their enjoyment.


Servi di Pena.

At Castel Nuovo, a penal settlement of Naples, we held conversation with a man sentenced to the galleys, and wearing, accordingly, a yellow jacket; but yellow is not here, as at Leghorn, the deepest dye. Here, it is red cloth and manacles that go together. We asked him his crime. "Un piccolo omicidio." "A small homicide, provoked by a dispute for a single ducat! I quarrelled with a man now in paradise. I killed him at one stab, but the devil possessed me to give him another colpo di coltello after he had fallen; and as the judges asked me why I did this, and I could not perfectly satisfy them, they concluded I was a sanguinary fellow, and gave me eighteen years galleys—but, as you see, I have no chains; nor ever had—mai! mai!" and he extended his hands in somewhat of the attitude of Raphael's Paul before Festus, to suit the action to the word. "No! he was of a very different order of criminals to a boatful of[Pg 487] birboni in red jackets, all bad cases of homicide and robbery!"

"What do you call bad cases?"

"Why, I call it a bad case to kill a man for nothing."

"Well, but theft to any amount is not so bad as taking away life."

"Oh! as to that, the police are quite right! A decent and a devout man does not commit homicides every day: but he that steals at all, steals always!" So that our culprit reasoned, like Paley, on the tendency of crimes. It was his Chapter of the Silver Spoon, with a new exposition from the mouth of a Galeote! And they pluck men at Cambridge for not getting up their Paley! Our philosophical criminal seemed satisfied with his lot.

"We are not so badly off after all: we walk out with an obliging escort, who let us do pretty much as we like; and all our work is confined to sweeping the courts in front of the king's palace. We are free of the castle, and allowed to conduct strangers over it, as in your case. Oh! for the fellows at St Stefano, it is quite another matter; as a part of their punishment, they are compelled to be idle!"

Our rascal was allowed a new coat once every eighteen months, with two pair of drawers and as many shirts, and a penny a-day for pocket-money! These piccoli omicidii at home do not get off so cheap, but stabbing is endemic at Naples. When a queen of Naples brings the Neapolitans a new prince—great joy of course!—all the penal settlements except St Stefano receive three years' mitigation of their sentence; but the crimes that consign to that island are senza grazia—the rays of royal bounty do not reach those dark and solitary cells. The St Stefano convicts form a body of three hundred doomed men, incorrigible housebreakers or systematic assassins. The food of all classes of criminals is the same, whatever the offence, and consists of twenty-four ounces of bread, with half-a-pint measure of beans and some oil—a basin of cabbage soup, without meat, for dinner, and meat once in fourteen days: there are eight thousand out-of-doors convicts, many of whom being under sentence for a less space than two years, work in their own clothes—which is, of course, a considerable saving to government. Although all the galley-slave establishments are full, no place swarms like Naples with so many meritorious candidates for the red and yellow liveries of the state.


St Carlo, &c.

St Carlo is, as the guide-books tell us, "a very fine theatre." What we particularly like, is the absence of all side-lights round its boxes. Two hundred burners, arranged in three rows round a small chandelier, give just light enough to set off the fine chastened white and gold, and the one quiet fresco which embellishes the ceiling. A pit of vast size, divided into comfortable sittings, six tiers of boxes, and an orchestra of great space, suited to the extraordinary size of the house, secure a far less adulterated playhouse atmosphere than we are used to; and so exempt from the ordinary inconveniences, that we were able to sit out the Semiramide, even with Ronzi di Begnis, now old and out of keeping, for the heroine. Surely she never should have been Semiramis, even in her palmy day! Actors and actresses will not know that words written for them, scenery and dresses adapted for them, and attitudes invented for them, can never make them the personages mentioned in the playbill. On returning home, we stood at our balcony gazing on the lovely face of a true Naples night—a night beyond description!—the whole vault of heaven lighted by one light: a full moon, like a subdued sunshine over earth and water. A world of light, that shone on a world of darkness, tinging the air, gilding the mountain-tops, and making the sea run like melted phosphorus. And what a silence abroad! not the perilous cessation of sound which so often only anticipates the storm; nor the sultry stillness of an exhausting noon; but a mighty and godlike display, as it were, of the first full moon after creation shining on an entranced world![Pg 488]



An amphitheatre is one of those few ruins that leave no problem to solve. Here we have a grey antiquity without any mutilation of form, and merely spoliated of its benches. The patron saint of Naples was, they say, imprisoned here. A little chapel ascertains the spot, but he does no miracles on this arena. When we come to temples, we are always at a great loss for proprietors. The very large one here is called of Jupiter Serapis. The remaining columns of this temple, whatever it was, exhibit a very remarkable appearance. Three pillars, forty-two feet in height, up to about twelve feet above their pedestals, have the surface of the marble as smooth as any in the Forum; then comes a portion of nine or ten feet, of which the marble has been bored, drilled in all directions, by that persevering bivalve the Lithodomus; the perforations are so considerable, and go so deep, as to prove "the long-continued abode" of these animals within the stone, and by consequence, as Mr Lyell observes, "a long-continued immersion of the columns in the sea at some period recent, comparatively, with that of its erection." Indeed, there is abundant evidence adduced in the fourth volume of his Geology to show, that all this ground was at a no very distant period under the sea, like Monte Nuovo in its neighbourhood, and was thrust out of the water to its present level. When the ground on which this temple stood, collapsed, the bottom part of its columns was protected by "the rubbish of decayed buildings and strata of turf;" the middle or perforated part was left exposed to the action of the sea bivalves above alluded to; and the upper part, which was never under the water, remained smooth and free from perforation. But these columns not only prove by internal evidence the general fact of the ground on which they stand having been submerged—they also furnish an exact measure of the degree to which it sunk; viz. twenty feet—i.e. the height where these perforations terminate at present. You can only cross the floor of this building on stepping-stones; and as you do so, you see shoals of small sea-fish darting about in the shallow water which occupies its area, into which the sea has been admitted on purpose, to prevent the accumulation of the stagnant water that had infected this particular spot with intense malaria.



We took a hot bath under the soi-disant villa of Lucullus. Steam, sulphur, and hot water, may be had cheap any where along this coast. An awful place it was to enter naked, and be kept in the dark, stifling, as we were, for some seconds which seemed minutes, till our guide returned with a milord's dressing-gown, which he assured us had been hung up as a votive offering for cured rheumatism. Being candidates ourselves for a similar benefit, we desired to be rubbed down like milord, till aluminous perspiration stood thick upon us, the alum being deposited from the walls and atmosphere of the place. We were soon obliged to beg for quarter. The milord, whose dressing-gown we were possessed of, was so bad as to be obliged to be rubbed sitting; but so powerful is the remedy, that after fifteen such sittings, he walked round the lake (two miles), and went home in his carriage "guerito!" "Such baths!" that had cured he knew not how many persons:—

"Men who'd spent all upon physician's fees,
Who'd never slept, nor had a moment's ease,
Were now as roaches sound, and all as brisk as bees!"—Crabbe.

What with its hot water, sulphur, vapour, and alum, we too should have fancied Naples might have been comparatively exempt from rheumatisms and skin diseases, in both of which it abounds.[Pg 489]


Lucrine and Avernus Lakes.

From the sea and its inlet called the Lucrine Lake, we pass along a pleasant green lane, about a mile long, which issues on Avernus, whose waters we find both limpid and clear; but are instructed that two months later will change them to a dark-red colour, and that the neighbourhood will then become very malarious and unsafe. A piece of semicircular wall on one side of the lake, indicates the whereabouts of a temple of Proserpine, or Apollo, or any god or goddess you please. We were so absurd as to pay a scudo to be taken through a vile tunnel, accompanied by two torch-bearers, and two other dirty wretches, who often carry us pick-a-back through one black hole into another, splashing us through dark pools, putting us down here and there as they pleased, picking us up again, grinning like demons, and by dint of shaking their torches above, and disturbing the water below, raising foul smells enough to intoxicate fifty Sybils. At length, half suffocated by those classical delights, we cry Enough! enough! and beg to be put into our saddles again. The Stufa di Nerone, a little further on the high-road, is another volcanic calidarium in full activity, where you may boil eggs or scald yourself in a dark cavern. There you may deposit your mattrass and yourself in any one of a store of berths wrought into that most unpicturesque tufa, of which the exterior face constitutes the whole of the sea view of Baiæ. If ever there were decorations in these caverns, they are gone; but there probably never were. Diana, Mercury, Venus, and Apollo all claim brick tenements, called temples, in this little bay, all close together on the seaside, and none having any claim at present either on the artist or the poet.

We quit the seaside at this spot, and reach the summit of the hill above, where there is more torch-work and more disappointment for those that go a Sybil-seeking with the sixth book of Virgil for a guide. Those who like it may also grope their way through Nero's prisons, and descend into the Piscina Mirabilis, that vast pilastered cellar like an underground dissenting chapel. They say the Roman fleet was supplied with water from this huge tank; but if this had been the intention of its construction, why obstruct it with more pillars or supports of square masonry than the roof absolutely required, without which incumbrances a reservoir of half its size would have held more water,—and for water it was evidently meant? Ascending the hill we see a man or two working away at a newly-discovered tomb, from which he told us he had removed several skulls in perfect preservation, even to the teeth of both jaws, together with some small sepulchral lamps and old copper coins. We dine on the summit of a low hill, immediately opposite a cape better known to fame than the Cape of Good Hope—the promontory of Misenum, with Procida and Ischia on our right, and Nisida with its white lazaretto, and Puteoli (Pozzuoli,) where St Paul landed, on our left. We took to plant collecting after dinner, and were glad to learn that we should find at Puzzuoli a celebrated botanist of the locality, who could declare to us the unknown of all we should collect. On our return, therefore, the man of science was fetched to look at our wild nose-gay and at us. We show him a specimen; he calls it by some outlandish name; we tell him what we want is its Latin one. It is Latin, he says, which he is actually speaking! We thought not. A crowd of fishermen and rustics are fast collecting around us; we try him with another one of the grasses. "Questo è asparago," cries a bumpkin, unasked, from behind. "Che asparagi?" says il mio Maestro, "è Pimpinella." We show him a Cytisus, and he calls it a Campanula. Seeing that so great a difference exists between our friend and Linnæus, we ask no further questions.

Tench and eels abound in Avernus, and coot and teal also blunder here occasionally, as if to contradict Virgil and confute etymology—for Avernus is αορνος (birdless,) and Latinised as every one knows. However, few birds are to be found here. The Lucrine is now a mere salt-water pond of small extent, affording the little sea[Pg 490] fish, in rough weather, a sort of playground. No Lucrine oysters now, though these dainties are of excellent quality at Naples, and might have satisfied Montanus himself. As to the Mare Mortuum, it is another rank, unwholesome, unpicturesque pond. We walked all round it, and have a right to say so; and, if we had done so twice after sunset, might perchance have had to say more.



"Ego vel Prochytam præpono Suburræ," says Juvenal, and so would we if compelled to live in that nasty St Giles's beyond the Coliseum; but as the "vel" seems strangely misapplied—for the situation of Procida must always have been delightful—the poet's preference must be understood as of a dull unlively place, with few inhabitants or resources, to a dense and dangerous population. Baiæ itself is not three miles from Procida; but the Roman Baiæ was thronged with good society, and this little island was doubtless then as unpeopled as it is now populous. Procida is about three-fourths of an hour's fair rowing from Miniseolæ, on the Baian side; but you may run your boat over on a fine day in half an hour. As you approach the houses, you discern the not unpicturesque frontage of a little fishing town; but all is as revolting within as fair without. Something of the Greek or Albanese costume is still preserved here, and they offer to dress up one of their families in full parure for our further satisfaction, if we will pay them. The view from the leads of the fort (under which the galley-slaves are confined) is fine indeed! Ischia and Vesuvius, and the whole stretch of the bay, and Sorrento, and the promontory of Minerva. Procida builds good enough trading vessels. We saw two in the harbour of Baiæ, as we rowed back on a delicious evening towards sunset; they were going on a first voyage, bound for our London docks;—and à propos of the London docks, all this country is, as it always was, rich in productive vineyards and bad wine. Every hill once gave its own epithet to wines celebrated in longs and shorts of immortal celebrity, whereas the land round Rome could never have been viniferous. You may still drink Falernian, if so minded, on its native seat of St Agatha. The wine of Gaurus has not deserted Monte Babaro, and Lachryma, though not classical, has its own celebrity; and the islands of Ischia and Procida also produce a strong, heating, white wine. But there is not any wine, from the Alps to Messina, to be compared to those of the Garonne, and the Rhine, or the Moselle. The Barbarians subdued by the Roman legions have long had it all their own way, not only in this, but in every other good thing except sunshine; but the vine, growing as it grows, suspended as it is suspended, and wreathed round the hills of Italy, is still the plant which secures the loudest admiration of the foreigner. "The vine of Italy for ever!"—so we join the chorus of all travellers, and say-"till it lies bruised, bleeding, fermenting in the vat! then commend us to the Bacchus of lands far nearer home." And here, feeling ourselves called upon for a song, we will sing one.

Abridged from Béranger.
"Amidst the Celtic hordes of old
That gather'd round his wayworn band,
The cumbrous booty to behold
Brought from Ausonia's sunny land,
Thus Brennus spake—'This lance of mine
Bears Rome's best gift—Behold—the Vine!
Plant, plant the Vine, to whose fair reign belong
The arts of Peace, and all the realms of Song!

"'They told us of its wondrous juice;
We fought to taste it, and have won!
Now o'er your hills new wealth diffuse
And cherish well the warrior's boon.
[Pg 491]Plant, plant the Vine, &c.

"'Nor for ourselves alone we tore
That stem away; your ships shall bear
The freighted joy to many a shore,
And spread the unknown gladness there.
Plant, plant the Vine, &c.'

"He ended, and in face of all,
While deep in earth he strikes the lance
And plants the shoot—unconscious Gaul
Prepares the world's vast vineyard—France!"[9]


The Palace of Caserta.

About thirteen miles from Naples is one of the finest kingly residences in Europe—so say all the guide-books, and they are right. Vanvitelli is the very Michael Angelo of palace-rearing! Its shape is a parallelogram approaching to a square. Counting mezzanines, it has six stories besides the attics; and is pierced with no less than 1700 windows. Its stair, the very perfection of that sort of construction, is vast in all its dimensions, and so very easy, that you look down from its summit admiring, with untried lungs, the enormous height you have reached. It starts double from the ground, and twenty persons might ascent either branch abreast, and meet one another at the spot where it begins to return upon itself; so that the noble octagonal landing above finds itself just over the starting-place below. From this post four large windows command four spacious courts, and the simple construction of this gigantic edifice stands unveiled. You now begin your journey through vast, lofty, magnificently marbled, and very ill-furnished apartments, of which, before you have completed the half circuit of a single floor, you are heartily tired, for, beyond the architecture, there is nothing to see. The commonest broker's shop would furnish better pictures. Boar-hunts of course, to represent how Neapolitan kings kill boars at Portici, and shoot wild-ducks on the Lago di Fusina. There is also an ample historical fresco on the ceiling of the antechamber to the throne-room, on which Murat had caused to be represented some notable charge where he proved victorious; but after he was shot, Ferdinand, with great taste, judgment, and good feeling, erased, interpolated, and altered the picture into a harmless battle of Tro[Pg 492]jans against Greeks, or some such thing! The palace has two theatres and a chapel; and you must change your conductor four times if you would be led through the whole. For this enormous edifice boasts of only twelve servants, at eleven dollars a-month from the privy purse. Caserta, which, even in its present imperfect state, has cost 7,000,000 scudi, is raised amidst a swarm of paupers, who are permitted to besiege the stranger, and impede his progress, with an importunity such as could be shown by none but men on the eve of famishing. We never saw such a population of beggars as those which infest the walls of this most sumptuous palace and its park—but the park is a park indeed! It may have something of the formality of Versailles or Chantilly; but its leading features are essentially English; its thickets and copses abound in hares and pheasants. The ilex attains twice the height we remember to have seen it reach elsewhere. Its islands and fishponds, its kitchen and flower-gardens, put one in mind of a first-rate English country-seat. The ornamental water is fetched, by an aqueduct worthy of old Rome, from mountains seven miles off, first emptying its whole charge over a high ledge of rock, making a waterfall (which you see from the drawing-room window) over a series of steps and terraces, which get wider as they get lower, till they terminate in a superb basin within a quarter of a mile of the palace, where the water makes its last bound, and forms a broad lake fit for Diana and her nymphs, amidst woods fit for Actaeon and his dogs. Of course we asked to be conducted to these stone terraces, over which the dash of the mountain stream into the lake is effected: but as we passed the latter, we were surprised by our guide approaching the water, and, beginning to whistle, he begs us to observe the water begins to be troubled at a distance, and the more he whistles the more the commotion increases. Ten, twenty, and in half a second hundreds of immense fish come trooping up, and, undeterred by our presence, approach as near as they dare to the surface of the water where he stands; they swim backwards and forwards, and lash the water with their tails. What is the matter? Why! they come to be fed! and such is the ferocious impatience of this aquatic menagerie, that we long to assist in quelling it; and so we dip our hand into the man's basket of frogs, and drop a few right over the swarm—and now the water is bubbling and lathering with the workings and plungings of these mad fish; and so large are they, so strong, so numerous, that, all angler as we are, we really felt unpleasantly, nor would we, after what we saw, have trusted hand or foot in the domain of such shark-like rapacity. They consume five basketsful of frogs and minnows a-day. Except that of the Caserta beggars, we never saw any thing like the hunger of the Caserta fish.


The Silk Manufactory.

The silk manufactory at Caserta is worth a visit. The labour is chiefly accomplished by the hand, as is all labour in Naples. Silk is wound off into skeins by a mill turned by the artificial falls of the aqueduct. At one extremity you see the unpromising cocoons; at the other the most rare and beautiful velvets and gros de Naples. The locality of this manufactory is delightful, and the old queen preferred its comforts and cheerfulness to the solitary grandeur of the palace in the plain. In place of occupying and paying the poor round his palace to make silk and satins for his court and the Pope, the present king spends his money in gunpowder and soldiering. They accuse him of having less compassion for the misfortunes of the poor than even his father Francis, or his grandfather Ferdinand of blessed memory. The view from this spot of the huge palace itself, with Vesuvius smoking to our right, and Capri shining before it, is one of those not to be forgotten.[Pg 493]


The Snake Tamer.

Behold the old snake-finder with his sack! "Ola! vecchio, che cosa avete pigliato quest' oggi?" was a question put from our one-horse cart, till then going at a great rate through the village of Somma, to a little old man, with a humpback, a sack, and a large shallow box. He was dressed in a queer costume, had a wolf's brush in his hat, and remarkably tight-fitting leather leggings. "Tre! fra altri una vipera meschia." "Oh! oh! aspetta," added we—we must see the viper. Upon which there was a broad grin all round the circle; but the driver stopped, and down we got. The old man, seeing our intention to be serious, got a chair for us from a cottage, and putting his box on his knee, looked knowing, and thus began.

"Gentlemen, you have all seen a viper, basta feroce—a reptile that every one runs from except me, and those who know, as I do, how to humour him. I have a viper in this box whom I have so perfectly tamed, that he lives with two others, and never quarrels with them. I will open the box, and, as you will see, they will all lie as if they were dead, until I notice one, when he will put up his head that I may take him out."

He opened the box, where lay coiled, and perfectly still, a spotted viper, an immense black snake, and one very light and silvery like an eel.

"Here's my family," said the old man; and catching the viper round the middle, brought him out, while the others wriggled a little, as if in expectation of being caressed in their turn. "This animal, signor, is not so bad in his temper as you have been told. It is only when he is making love that he is poisonous—to all but his females; but in this, gentlemen, he is scarcely worse than many of yourselves, whom it is not safe then to approach."

"Bravo, bravo, vecchaccio! ancora! Go it again!" sounds every where from the circle collected round the old snake-charmer.

"If you tread upon his tail, gentlemen, what can you expect but a bite? Would not you bite if you had your tails trodden on?"

The viper now raised his head, and darted it out, with about half of his body behind it, at the crowd. The two nearest peasants fell back. The viper, missing his spring, turns round to bite the hand that is holding him, but no sooner touches it, than off it glides from the horny finger, wriggling both head and tail at a great rate.

"He has been warmed by my hand, sirs, and wants to escape! Ingrato! Come, I have something to tell you that these gentlemen must not hear!"

And he opened his month, and the viper thrust his head between his lips; upon which the old man closes them and makes believe to mumble the horrid head, the body appearing violently convulsed, as if it really suffered violence.

"He has lost his teeth," said one, "and can't bite."

"Sicuro," said another, and began to yawn.

"No," said the old man, "his teeth are all in his head. You doubt it, do you? See here, then."

And catching him by the head, and drawing down his lower jaw, having forced the mouth to its full stretch, he drew the red surface of his upper-jaw smartly over the back of his own hand two or three times, so as to bring blood from six or seven orifices. Then, drying the blood off his hand, he returns his viper to the box, and asks a baiocco for the exhibition.

"What's the price of your viper?" ask we.

"Two carlines, excellenza."

"Here, tie him up for me in my handkerchief." Which was accordingly done, and we popped him into spirits of wine, as a souvenir of Monte Somma, and of the old man whom we saw handling him.

"Does he gain a livelihood by his trade?" we enquired.

"He teaches people how to catch serpents; and by familiarizing them with the danger, they work in greater comfort, and are not afraid of going over any part of Monte Somma, which, as it abounds in vipers and snakes, still deters the unpractised a little. Besides, they like to see the snake caught and exhibited, and every body gives him something."

[Pg 494]


Some hidden disappointment clings
To all of man—to all his schemes,
And life has little fair it brings,
Save idle dreams.

The peace that may be ours to-day,
Scarce heed we, looking for the morrow;
The slighted moments steal away,
And then comes sorrow.

The light of promise that may glow
Where life shines fair in bud or bloom,
Ere fruit hath ripen'd forth to show,
Is quench'd in gloom.

The rapture softest blush imparts,
Dies with the bloom that fades away,
And glory from the wave departs
At close of day.

Where we have garner'd up our hearts,
And fixed our earnest love and trust,
The very life-blood thence departs,
And all is dust.

Then, Nature, let us turn to thee;
For in thy countless changes thou
Still bearest immortality
Upon they brow.

Thy seasons, in their endless round
Of sunshine, tempest, calm or blight,
Yet leave thee like an empress crown'd
With jewels bright.

Thy very storms are life to thee,
'Tis but a sleep thy seeming death;
We see thee wake in flower and tree
At spring's soft breath.

We view the ruin of our youth,
Decay's wan trace on all we cherish;
But thou, in thine unfailing truth,
Canst never perish.

J. D.

[Pg 495]


With mournful tone I hear thee say,
"Alas, another year hath sped!"
As if within that circlet lay
Life's garland dead.

Vain thought! Thy measure is not Time's;
Not thus yields life each glowing hue;
Fair fruit may fall—the tendril climbs,
And clasps anew.

Time hath mute landmarks of his own;
They are not such as man may raise;
Not his the rudely number'd stone
On life's broad ways.

The record measuring his speed
Is but a shadow softer spread—
A browner leaf—a broken reed,
Or mildew shed.

And if his footfall crush the flower,
How sweet the spicy perfume springs!
His mildew stain upon the tower
A glory brings.

Then let the murmuring voice be still,
The heart hold fast its treasure bright;
The hearth glows warm when sunbeams chill;
Life hath no night.

J. D.


Soft-brow'd, majestic Corali!
Thou like a memory serene
Seemest to me—or melody,
Or moonlight scene.

With thee life in soft plumage glides,
As on the ruffled lake the swan,
Whose downy breast the struggle hides
That speeds it on.

In thy fair presence wakes no care;
Harsh discords into music melt;
Thy harmony alone is there—
Alone is felt.

The heart, unsway'd by hope or dread,
Safe haven'd in a clime of balm,
Nor chain'd in ice, nor tempest-sped,
Lies rock'd in calm.

J. D.

[Pg 496]


"Man wrongs and time avenges, and my name
May form a monument not all obscure."

The success of the Greek insurrection against the Turks, is the event in contemporary history concerning which it is most difficult to form a precise and correct idea. Causes and effects seem, to the ordinary observer, to be utterly disproportionate. Its progress set the calculations of statesmen at defiance; and while congresses, ambassadors, and protocols, were attempting to fetter it in one direction, it generally advanced with increased speed in some other, totally unexpected.

It was very natural that the Greeks should take up arms to emancipate themselves from Turkish oppression, the moment a favourable opportunity presented itself; but certainly, few foreigners conceived that the time they selected afforded them much chance of success. Kolocotroni, however, appears to have understood the internal condition of the Ottoman empire rather better than Metternich. The unwarlike habits of the majority of the Greek population, contrasted with the military feelings of the Turks, and with the numbers and valour of the Ottoman armies, rendered their cause desperate for some years, even in the opinion of their most enthusiastic friends. The whole progress of the Revolution was filled with anomalous occurrences; and the wisdom of the statesman, and the skill of the warrior, were constantly set at nought by events, the causes of which have still been too generally overlooked by the professional politicians of all nations who mix in the affairs of Greece.

Unquestionably, therefore, there exists much in the condition of the Greek nation, and in the character of the people, which has been completely misunderstood by foreigners. Nor do we entertain any hope of seeing the affairs of Greece placed on a better footing, until the Greeks themselves collect and publish detailed information concerning the statistics and the administration of the kingdom. Hitherto, not a single report of any value has been published on any branch of the public service; so that the foreign ministers at Athens are, from absolute want of materials, compelled to confine their active exertions for the good of Greece to recommending King Otho to choose particular individuals, devoted to the English, French, or Russian party, as the case may be, to the office of cabinet ministers. Not even an army list has yet been published in Greece, though the Hellenic kingdom is in the twelfth year of its existence. But as the publication of an army list would put some restraint on political jobbing and ministerial patronage, each minister leaves it to be done by his successor.

The fate of all the foreigners who have taken an active part in the Greek Revolution is worthy of notice. Many persons of high, and of deservedly high, reputation embarked in the cause, yet not one of the number added to his previous fame by his exploits. Although the names of Byron, Cochrane, and Capo d'Istrias appear in the annals of Greece, it is doubtful whether their actions in the country exercised any direct influence on the course of events. We think we may safely assert that they did not, and that these distinguished and able men were all carried along by the current of events. To us, it appears that the fate of Greece would have undergone no change if these great men had changed places;—if Capo d'Istrias had enacted the part of lord high admiral, Lord Cochrane that of commander-in-chief at Missolonghi, and Lord Byron, in his day, that of president of the Greek republic, things would have been little better and no worse. The ambassadors with their treaties and protocols at London, and the admirals with their untoward event at Navarin, were almost as unfortunate as all other volunteers in the Greek cause. The ambassadors were occupied for[Pg 497] years in trying to hinder the Greek state from attaining the form it ultimately assumed; and, in spite of the battle of Navarin, Ibrahim Pasha carried away from the Peloponnesus an immense number of Greek prisoners, in the very fleet the allied admirals supposed they had destroyed.

The insignificance of individual exertions in this truly national Revolution, has been equally remarkable among the Greeks themselves. Indeed it has been made a capital charge against them by strangers, that no man of distinguished talent has arisen to direct the destinies of the country. Perhaps there is a worse feature than this prominent in the Greek community, and this is a disposition to calumniate whatever little merit may exist. Here again, however, we cannot refrain from remarking, that a singular resemblance may be traced between the conduct of the strangers in Greece, and the Greeks themselves. A vice so predominant must doubtless be nourished by some inherent defect in the constitution of society in Greece, rather than in the characters of individuals.

If no Greek has succeeded in gaining a glorious pre-eminence by the Revolution, we must recollect that the foreigners who have visited the country have contrived to bury there all the fame they brought with them. Singular too as it may appear, a love of quarrelling and a passion for calumny have been found to be as decidedly characteristic of the foreigners in Greece, as of the natives. The Philhellenes were notoriously a most insubordinate body; the English in Greece have never been able to live together in amity and concord; the three European powers who signed a treaty to aid and protect Greece, have rarely been able to agree on the means of carrying their good intentions into execution on a systematic plan. The Regency sent to civilize the country during King Otho's minority, though consisting of only three members, set the Greeks an example of what the Litany calls "blindness of heart, pride, vain-glory, and hypocrisy, envy, hatred, and malice, and all uncharitableness." The corps diplomatique has often astounded the Greeks by its feuds and dissensions. The Bavarians made their sojourn in the country one prolonged querelle d'Allemande. Even the American missionaries at Athens have not escaped severe attacks of the universal epidemic, and during the paroxysms of the malady have made all Greece spectators of their quarrels.[10]

The single exception which so often occurs to confirm the general rule, exists in this case as in so many others. One European officer rendered very important services to Greece, and so conducted himself as to acquire the respect and esteem of every party in that singularly factious land. This officer was Frank Abney Hastings; but he always made it his rule of life to act, amidst the license and anarchy of society in Greece, precisely as he would have felt himself called upon to act in similar circumstances, could they have occurred, in England. We shall now attempt to erect a humble monument to his memory. The pages of Maga have frequently rescued much that is good from the shadow of oblivion; and, in this instance, we hope that a short account of the actions of the best of the Philhellenes will not only do honour to his memory, but will likewise throw some new light on the history of the Greek Revolution.

Frank Abney Hastings was the younger son of the late Lieutenant-general Sir Charles Hastings, Bart., and his elder brother Sir Charles Abney Hastings inherited the baronetcy. The late Sir Charles Hastings was colonel of the 12th foot, and knight grand cross of the Guelphic order; he possessed a large fortune, and he was well known for his singu[Pg 498]larity at Carlton House, and in the fashionable circles of London, about the beginning of the present century. The present baronet, Sir Charles Abney Hastings, entered the army when young, but retired after having served some time in the Mediterranean. Frank was born on the 14th of February 1794, and was placed in the navy when about eleven years old. Hardly six months after he became a midshipman, he was present at the battle of Trafalgar on board the Neptune. An explosion of powder between the decks of the Neptune during the action, by which several men were killed and wounded, early directed his attention to the service of artillery on board ship; and the science of gunnery became his favourite study. Hastings was subsequently serving in the Seahorse when that frigate engaged two Turkish men-of-war, and captured one of them, which proved to be a frigate much larger than herself. During his career of service, he visited every quarter of the globe.

After having served nearly fifteen years, he was sent to the West Indies in command of the Kangaroo, a vessel destined for the surveying service, carrying out his commission as commander. On arriving in the harbour of Port-Royal, in Jamaica, he was supposed to have brought the Kangaroo to an anchor in an improper manner. The flag-captain of the admiral's ship, then in the harbour considered this offence so extraordinary, that he took a still more extraordinary manner of expressing his dissatisfaction. We cannot give our readers a better idea of the circumstance than by transcribing the words of a letter which Hastings, on his return to England, addressed to Lord Melville, then first lord of the Admiralty. "He thought proper to hail me in a voice that rang through the whole of Port-Royal, saying—'You have overlayed our anchor—you ought to be ashamed of yourself—you damned lubber, you—who are you?'" Of course such an insult, both personal and professional, could never be overlooked. Hastings, however, feeling the importance of any step he might take to his future reputation, both as a sailor and a gentleman, waited until he had delivered up the command of the Kangaroo to the officer appointed to conduct the survey; and having received his commission as commander, and being ready to return to England on half-pay, he sent a challenge to the flag-captain who had thus insulted him.

The admiral on the station was, by some circumstance, informed of this challenge, and on his representation of the affair to the Admiralty, Hastings was dismissed the service. We shall conclude our mention of this most unfortunate business by quoting a few more words from the letter of Hastings to Lord Melville, which we have already alluded to:—"I have served fourteen years under various captains, and on almost all stations. I have certainly seen greater errors committed before; yet I never was witness to such language used to the commander of a British vessel bearing a pendant." "Your lordship may, perhaps, find officers that will submit to such language, but I do not envy them their dearly purchased rank; and God forbid that the British navy should have no better supporters of its character than such spiritless creatures." These words express the deep attachment he always felt to the service.

"Alas! how bitter is his country's curse
To him who for that country would expire."


Hastings now found that all his hopes of advancement at home were blasted, and, without any loss of time, he determined to qualify himself for foreign service. He flattered himself that he might acquire a reputation abroad, which would one day obtain for him the restoration of his rank in the navy in a distinguished manner. He resided in France for some time, in order to acquire a thorough knowledge of the French language, which, by dint of close application, he soon spoke and wrote with ease and correctness.

About three years after his dismissal from the navy, the position of the Greeks induced him to believe that in Greece he should find an opportunity of putting in practice several plans for the improvement of maritime warfare which he had long meditated. He embarked at Marseilles on the[Pg 499] 12th of March 1822, and arrived at Hydra on the 3d of April. Here he was kindly received by the two brothers Jakomaki and Manoli Tombazis, and their acquaintance soon ripened into friendship.

The Greek fleet was preparing to sail from Hydra to encounter the Turks, and Hastings was anxious to accompany it, in order to witness the manner in which the Greeks and Turks conducted their naval warfare. As it was necessary for a stranger to receive an authorization from the general government before embarking in the fleet, Hastings repaired to Corinth, which was then the seat of the executive power. The hostility displayed to the Greek cause by Sir Thomas Maitland, the lord high commissioner in the Ionian islands, had rendered the British name exceedingly unpopular at this time, in Greece, and Alexander Maurocordatos, (called at that period Prince Maurocordatos,) who was president of the Greek Republic, partook of the popular prejudice against Englishmen.

On arriving at Corinth Hastings met with a very cool reception, and spies were placed to watch his conduct; for though the president had made no progress in organizing the naval, military, or financial administration, he had already established a numerous and active secret police. For several days Hastings was unable to obtain an audience of Maurocordatos; but an American, Mr Jarvis, (afterwards a lieutenant-general in the Greek service,) to whom Hastings had given a passage from Marseilles, was received with great attention. Jarvis, as well as Hastings, observed "that the police was very severe and vigilant in Corinth;" and on the 15th of April he wrote thus:—"I paid my respects to the prince, and was invited to come in the evening. I had a long conversation with him, and he was particularly kind to me, and liked me the more, as he said, for being an American. He told me many of the bad actions of the English, and plainly told me he and the rest took my friend and companion for a spy. I then answered what was necessary—approved his dislike of the English and his foresight, but showed him that he was in the wrong in this case."

These suspicions being mentioned to Hastings, he immediately addressed a letter to the president, demanding that his offer of serving on board the fleet should be either definitely refused or accepted by the Greek government. He, at the same time, pointed out to Maurocordatos the absurdity of suspecting him as a spy. We translate his own letter, which is in French. "I am suspected by your excellency of being an English spy. Considering the conduct of the British government to Greece, I expected to meet with some prejudice against the English among the ignorant; but I own I was not prepared to find this illiberality among men of rank and education. If the English government required a spy in Greece, it would not address itself to a person of my condition. I am the younger son of Sir Charles Hastings, Baronet, a general in the army, and who was educated in his youth with the Marquis of Hastings, governor-general of India; so that I could surely find a more lucrative, less dangerous, and more respectable employment in India than that of a spy in Greece. I quitted England because I considered the government treated me with injustice, in arbitrarily dismissing me from the navy, after more than fourteen years of active service, for an affair of honour, while I was on half-pay." This letter obtained for Hastings an audience of the president, and his services were at length accepted.

On the 3d of May 1822, the Greek fleet began to get under weigh at Hydra, and Hastings embarked as a volunteer on board the Themistocles, a corvette belonging to the brothers Tombazis. The scene presented by the Hydriote ships hauling out of harbour was calculated to depress the hopes of the most sanguine friend of Greece. Those of the crew who chose to come on board did so; the rest remained on shore, and came off as it suited their convenience. When it became necessary to make sail, the men loosed the sails, but shortly found that no sheets were rove, and the bow-lines bent to the bunt line cringles. At last sheets were rove. But[Pg 500] as the ships were getting clear of the harbour, a squall came on; then every man on board shouted to take in sail; but there were no clue-lines bent, and the men were obliged to go out on the jib-boom to haul down the sail by hand. The same thing occurred with the topgallant sails. The crews, however, were gradually collected; things assumed some slight appearance of order; and after this singular exhibition of anarchy and confusion, the fleet bore up for Psara.

It is needless to describe the scenes of misery Hastings witnessed when the fleet arrived at Scio, as the particulars of the frightful manner in which that island had been devastated by the Turks are generally known. The war was at this period carried on with unexampled barbarity, both by the Greeks and Turks. As an illustration of the manner in which naval warfare had been previously conducted in the Levant, we shall quote the account given by an English sailor of the conduct of the Russo-Greek privateers in 1788. The modern atrocities were not perpetrated on so large a scale, and the officers rarely countenanced them, but still it would be too invidious to cite single examples. We shall therefore copy a short extract from Davidson's narrative of a cruise on board one of the vessels connected with the expedition of the famous Greek privateer and pirate, Lambro. "The prize had on board eighty-five hands, which we took on board us, and confined in the hold until next day; when they were called up one by one, and had their heads cut off in the same manner as we cut off ducks' heads at home, and we then threw them overboard. This was the first time we were obliged to take it by turns to put them to death. The English, when called upon, at first refused it; but when the captain told them they were cowards, and that he could not believe they were Englishmen, they went and did the same as the rest; and afterwards were even worse than the others, for they always were first when such work was going on. Sometimes we had three or four in a day to put to death for each man's share." Things are certainly better than this in our times; but the statesmen who have constituted the kingdom of Greece should recollect, that these occurrences took place in the dominions of King Otho on the 21st of May 1789, and that similar scenes, though not on so extensive a scale, were witnessed by Hastings in the month of May 1822.

The Greek naval force at this period consisted entirely of merchant ships, fitted out at the private expense of their owners. These vessels were generally commanded either by the owners or their near relations, whose whole fortune frequently consisted in the vessel they were to lead into action. It is not surprising that under such circumstances many brave men, who would willingly have exposed their lives, felt some hesitation in risking their property. The Greek ships, previously to the breaking out of the Revolution, had been navigated by crews interested in certain fixed proportions in the profits of the cargo. As the proprietor of the ship, the captain, and the sailors formed a kind of joint-stock company, they were in the habit of deliberating together on the measures to be adopted, and in discussing the destination of the vessel. The disorder and want of discipline naturally arising from such habits, were greatly increased by the practice which was introduced at the breaking out of the Revolution, of always paying the sailors their wages in advance. In a fleet so composed and manned, Hastings soon perceived that there was no hope of executing any of his projects for the improvement of naval artillery. After fitting locks and sights to the guns in the Themistocles, and building up a furnace for heating shot in her hold, he found that all his arrangements were of no avail. Some order was absolutely necessary, but he discovered by experience that there was nothing the Albanians of Hydra held in so much honour as disorder.

The naval campaign of 1822 was signalized by the successful attack of the Greek fire-ships on the fleet of the Capitan Pasha off Scio. Kanaris, who conducted his vessel with admirable courage and presence of mind, set fire to the ship bearing the pasha's flag, which was completely destroyed. Pepinos, who commanded the Hydriot fire-ship, was not so fortunate in his attack on the ship of the Reala Bey.[Pg 501] His vessel was disengaged, and though it drifted on board another line-of-battle ship, the Turks succeeded in extinguishing the flames in both.

Hastings, having failed to persuade the Greeks to fit out one or two gun-boats with long guns of large calibre and furnaces for heating shot, became disgusted with the service on board the fleet, which was confined to sending marauding parties to the coast of Asia Minor, where the plunder was oftener taken from the poor Greek villagers than from their Ottoman masters. These expeditions were conducted with unparalleled disorder, and without any plan. Before quitting the fleet, Hastings made a last attempt to inspire the councils of the admiral with some of his own energy. He waited on the celebrated Admiral Miaoulis with a plan for capturing a Turkish frigate then anchored at Tenedos. This interview between these two remarkable men is of great importance for the appreciation of their respective characters and views at this period. In order to convey to our readers as vividly as possible the impression which it produced on the mind of Hastings, we shall transcribe the account of it in his own words. "I proposed to direct a fire-ship and three other vessels upon the frigate, and, when near the enemy, to set fire to certain combustibles which should throw out a great flame; the enemy would naturally conclude they were all fire-ships. The vessels were then to attach themselves to the frigate, fire broadsides double-shotted, throwing on board the enemy at the same time combustible balls which give a great smoke without flame. This would doubtless induce him to believe he was on fire, and give a most favourable opportunity for boarding him. However, the admiral returned my plan, saying only χαλὸ, without asking a single question, or wishing me to explain its details; and I observed a kind of insolent contempt in his manner, which no doubt arose from the late success of Kanaris. This interview with the admiral disgusted me. They place you in a position in which it is impossible to render any service, and then they boast of their own superiority, and of the uselessness of the Franks (as they call us) in Turkish warfare." It must be recollected, in justification of Miaoulis, that he had not then had time to avail himself of the enlarged experience he subsequently acquired in his capacity of admiral of the Greek fleet. He was then little more than a judicious and courageous captain of a merchant brig, just elected by the suffrage of his equals to lead them. As one of the owners of the ships hired by government, his attention was naturally rather directed to the destruction than to the capture of the large Turkish men-of-war; and it is probable that he considered the total want of discipline among the Hydriotes as presenting insuperable difficulties to the execution of the plan, and as likely to render the Turkish frigate, even if captured, utterly useless to the Greeks, who would doubtless have allowed her to rot in port.

Shortly after this disagreeable affair, Hastings had an opportunity of acquiring considerable personal reputation among the Hydriote sailors, by saving the corvette of Tombazis in circumstances of great danger. In pursuing some Turkish sakolevas off the north of Mytilene, they ran in near Cape Baba, and made for the shore under a cliff, where a considerable number of armed men soon collected from the neighbouring town. The captain and crew of the Themistocles, eager for prizes, pursued them; when the ship was suddenly becalmed within gun-shot of a battery at the town, which opened a well-directed fire on the corvette. In getting from under the fire of the battery, a baffling wind and strong current drove the ship within sixty yards of the high rocky cliff where the Turkish soldiers were posted. These troops opened a sharp but ill-directed fire of musketry on the deck of the Themistocles; and on this occasion the total want of order, and the disrespect habitually shown to the officers, had very nearly caused the loss of the vessel. The whole crew sought shelter from the Turkish fire under the bulwarks, and no one could be induced to obey the orders which every one issued. A single man would spring forward for a few seconds, at intervals, to execute the most necessary manœuvre. Hastings was the only person on deck who[Pg 502] remained silently watching the ship slowly drifting towards the rocks. He was fortunately the first to perceive the change in the direction of a light breeze which sprang up, and by immediately springing forward on the bowsprit, he succeeded in getting the ship's head round. Her sails soon filled, and she moved out of her awkward position. As upwards of two hundred and fifty Turks were assembled on the rocks above, and fresh men were arriving every moment, there can be no doubt that in a short time the enemy would have brought a piece of artillery to bear on the Themistocles from a position inaccessible to her fire; so that, even if she had escaped going on shore on the rocks, her destruction seemed inevitable, had she remained an hour within gun-shot of the cliff. Thus, the finest vessel in the Greek fleet was in imminent danger of being lost, through the carelessness and obstinacy of the captain, who, though repeatedly entreated by Hastings to have a small anchor constantly in readiness, could never be induced to take this necessary precaution.

On this occasion, however, both the captain and the crew of the Themistocles did Hastings ample justice. Though they had refused to avail themselves of his skill, and neglected his advice, they now showed no jealousy in acknowledging his gallant conduct, and he became a permanent favourite with the crew ever after this exploit. Though he treated all with great reserve and coldness, as a means of insuring respect, there was not a man on board that was not always ready to do him any service. Indeed the candid and hearty way in which they acknowledged the courage of Hastings, and blamed their own conduct in allowing a stranger to expose his life in so dangerous a manner to save them, afforded unquestionable proof that so much real generosity was inseparable from courage, and that, with proper discipline and good officers, the sailors of the Greek fleet would have had few superiors.

When the naval campaign was concluded, Hastings joined the troops engaged in the siege of Nauplia. That force was exposed to the greatest danger by the irruption of a large Turkish army into the Morea, commanded by Dramali Pasha. While engaged in defending the little fort of Bourdzi in the port of Nauplia, and under the guns of that fortress, he became intimately acquainted with Mr Hane, a young artillery officer, who subsequently served under his orders with great distinction. At this time Hastings raised a company of fifty men, whom he armed and equipped at his own expense. But as his actions on shore are not immediately connected with the great results of his services to Greece, we shall confine this sketch exclusively to the share he took in the naval warfare. He served the campaign of 1823 in Crete, as commander of the artillery; but a violent fever compelling him to quit that island in autumn, he found, on his return to Hydra, that Lord Byron had arrived at Cephalonia.

It was of great importance to the Greek cause that the services of Lord Byron should be usefully directed, and it was equally necessary that the funds collected by the Greek committee in London should be expended in the way most likely to be of permanent advantage to Greece. The moment appeared suitable for one who, like Hastings, had acquired some experience by active service, both with the fleet and army, to offer his advice. He accordingly drew up a project for the construction and armament of a steam-vessel, which he recommended as the most effectual mode of advancing the Greek cause, by giving the fleet a decided superiority over the Turks at sea. It appeared to Hastings that it was only by the introduction of a well-disciplined naval force, directly dependent on the central government, that order could be introduced into the administration, as well as a superiority secured over the enemy. It is not necessary to enter into all the professional details of this memoir, as we shall have occasion to state the manner in which Hastings carried his views into execution a few years later. Its conclusion was to recommend Lord Byron to direct his attention to the purchase or construction of a steam-vessel, armed with heavy guns, and fitted up for the use of hot shot and shells as its ordinary projectiles.

Neither Lord Byron nor Colonel[Pg 503] Stanhope, the agent of the Greek committee, seem to have appreciated the military science of Hastings, and the plan met with little support from either.

The Greek government shortly after this obtained its first loan in England; and, during the summer of 1824, Hastings endeavoured to impress its members with the necessity of rendering the national cause not entirely dependent on the disorderly and tumultuous merchant marine, which it was compelled to hire at an exorbitant price. It is needless to record all the difficulties and opposition he met with from a government consisting in part of shipowners, eager to obtain a share of the loan as hire for their ships. These ships were in some danger of rotting in harbour, in case a national navy should be formed. The loan, however, appeared inexhaustible; and in the autumn of 1824, Hastings returned to England, with a promise that the Greek government would lose no time in instructing their deputies in London to procure a steam-vessel to be armed under his inspection, and of which he was promised the command. This promise was soon forgotten; a number of favourable accidents deluded the members of the Greek government into the belief that their deliverance from the Turkish yoke was already achieved, and they began to neglect the dictates of common prudence. The Greek committee in London emulated the example of the Greek government at Nauplia; and in place of acting according to the suggestions of common sense and common honesty, that body engaged in a number of tortuous transactions, ending in the concoction of a dish called "the Greek pie." Ibrahim Pasha awakened the heroes at Nauplia from their dreams, and Cobbett disturbed the reveries of the sages in London.

The success which attended Ibrahim Pasha on his landing in the Peloponnesus in 1825, and the improvement displayed by the Turks in their naval operations, seriously alarmed the Greeks. The advice of Hastings occurred to their remembrance; but, even then, it required the active exertions of two judicious friends of Greece in London to induce the Greek deputies to take the necessary measures for fitting out a steamer. Hastings, in a letter addressed to the Greeks, which he wrote on his return to Greece, declared distinctly that the gratitude of the Greek nation was due to the Right Honourable Edward Ellice and to Sir John Hobhouse, and not to the Greek deputies in London, if the steam-vessel he commanded proved of any service to the cause.

Greece was then in a desperate condition. Navarin was taken by Ibrahim Pasha, the Romeliat army was completely defeated, and the Egyptians encamped in the centre of the Peloponnesus, after routing every body of troops which attempted to arrest their progress. The Turkish and Egyptian fleets kept the sea in spite of the gallant attacks of Miaoulis; and the partial successes of the Greeks were more honourable to their courage than injurious to the real strength of their enemies. In the mean time, the Greek government had lost all power of commanding either respect or obedience at home, in consequence of the civil wars which prevailed previously to the arrival of the Egyptians, and the intrigues of Maurocordatos and Kolettis to obtain the sole direction of affairs.

At this conjuncture, Lord Cochrane's name excited universal attention in England, and he was engaged by the Greek deputies, and some friends of the cause, to enter the Greek service. He received for his services £37,000 sterling, in cash; and an additional sum of £20,000 was paid into the hands of Sir Francis Burdett, to be given to Lord Cochrane whenever the independence of Greece should be secured.

This transaction happened in the month of August 1825; but in the month of March, a steam-vessel, called the Perseverance, of about four hundred tons, had already been ordered; and Hastings had been named to command her, and received authority to arm her with sixty-eight pounders, according to the plan he had submitted to the Greek government. When Lord Cochrane was appointed commander-in-chief of the Greek fleet, five more steam-vessels were ordered to be built; but it may be observed, that only two of these ever reached Greece. The equipment of the Per[Pg 504]severance was then kept back, in order that the whole squadron might sail together under the auspices of Lord Cochrane. The news of the taking of Missolonghi by the Turks at last threw the friends of Greece into such a state of alarm, and the outcry against the dilatory manner in which the steam-boat expedition in the Thames was fitting out, became so violent over all Europe, that the Perseverance was hastily completed, and allowed to sail alone.

After a series of difficulties and disappointments, which it required all the extraordinary perseverance and energy of Hastings to overcome, he was hurried away from Deptford on the twenty-sixth of May 1826, though the engine of the Perseverance was evidently in a very defective state. The boiler burst in the Mediterranean; and the ship was detained at Cagliari, reconstructing a boiler, until the twenty-eighth of August. She arrived in Greece too late to be of any use in the naval campaign of that year. The winter was spent in aiding the operations of the army, which was endeavouring to raise the siege of Athens.

The Karteria, which was the name of the Perseverance in the Greek navy, was armed on the principle which Hastings had laid down as necessary to place the Greeks with small vessels on some degree of equality with the line-of-battle ships and large frigates of the Turks: namely, that of using projectiles more destructive than the shot of the enemy. These projectiles were hot shot and shells, instead of the cold round-shot of the Turks. We have already mentioned that the Karteria was armed with sixty-eight pounders. Of these she mounted eight; four were carronades of the government pattern, and four were guns of a new form, cast after a model prepared by Hastings himself. These guns were seven feet four inches long in the bore, and weighed fifty-eight hundred-weight. They had the form of carronades in every thing but the addition of trunnions to mount them like long guns; these trunnions, however, were, contrary to the usual practice, placed so that their centre intersected a line through the centre of the bore of the gun. They were mounted on ten-inch howitzer carriages, which answered the purpose admirably. The shells used were generally strapped to wooden bottoms; but they were more than once employed without any precaution, except that of putting them in the gun with the fusees towards the muzzle. The hot shot were heated in the engine fires, and were brought on deck by two men in a machine resembling a double coal-box, which was easily tilted up at the muzzle of the gun to be loaded.

Hastings fired about eighteen thousand shells from the Karteria in the years 1826 and 1827, with a miscellaneous crew composed of Englishmen, Swedes, and Greeks, and never had a single accident from explosion. As a very small number of hot shot can be heated at once, and as an iron ball of eight inches diameter loses its spherical form if kept for any length of time red hot, this projectile could only be used in particular circumstances. It happened more than once on board the Karteria, that shot which had remained for some time in the engine fires, had so lost their form as not to enter the muzzle of the guns. With regard to the great danger which is supposed to attend the use of hot shot on board ships, Hastings thus states his opinion in a "Memoir on the use of Shells, Hot Shot, and Carcass Shells, from ship artillery:"[11] "I have continually used hot shot with perfect safety; my people having become so familiar with them, that they employ them with as little apprehension as if using cold shot."

We shall now give a regular account of the career of active service in which Hastings was engaged, as captain of the Greek steam-frigate Karteria, extracted in part from his own official reports and private letters, and drawn in part from the testimony of eyewitnesses of all his actions.

In February 1827, Captain Hastings was ordered by the Greek government to co-operate with the troops under General Gordon, destined[Pg 505] to relieve Athens. Captain Hastings, sailing from Egina, passed round the island of Salamis, and entering the western strait between it and Megara, arrived, unobserved by the Turks, in the bay where the battle of Salamis was fought—now called the port of Ambelaki. This was the first time the passage had ever been attempted by a modern man-of-war. During the presidency of Count Capo-d'Istrias, Sir Edmund Lyons carried H.M.S. Blonde through the same passage.

The troops under General Gordon were landed in the night, and they occupied and fortified the hill of Munychia without any loss of time. It was then resolved to drive the Turks from a monastery at the Piræus, in which they kept a garrison to command the port. The troops were ordered to attack the building on the land side, and Hastings entered the Piræus to bombard it from the sea. A practicable breach was soon made; but the Greek troops, though supported by the fire of a couple of field-pieces, were completely defeated in their feeble attempts to storm this monastery. The Turks, on the other hand, displayed the greatest activity; and the Seraskier Kutayhi Pasha, who commanded the army besieging Athens, soon arrived with a powerful escort of cavalry, and bringing with him two long five-inch howitzers with shells, boasting that with these he would sink the Karteria. As the object of the Greek attack had completely failed, and the troops had retired, the Karteria quitted the port just as the Turks opened their fire on her.

A few days after this, the Turks, having defeated a division of the Greek army destined to make a diversion from the plain of Eleusis, attempted to carry the camp of General Gordon by storm. Captain Hastings now entered the Piræus again, even at the risk of exposing the Karteria to the Turkish shells; as he saw that by his powerful fire of grape he could prevent the Turks from forming in any force to attack the most vulnerable part of the camp. The fire of the Karteria soon produced its effect; but it drew all the attention of the Pasha to the vessel, as he perceived it was vain to persist in attacking the troops until he compelled the steamer to quit the Piræus. Five guns directed their fire against her, and though three were either dismounted by her fire, or rendered useless by their carriages breaking, still two elongated five-inch howitzers being placed between the monastery and an adjoining tower, which covered them from the fire of the Karteria, contrived to keep up a well-supported fire. The effect produced by the shells from the Turkish guns was soon considerable, though several of those which struck the Karteria did not explode. One, however, fixed in the carriage of a long sixty-eight pounder, and exploded there, though fortunately without injuring either Captain Hane, the artillery-officer engaged in pointing the gun, or any of the men who were working it. Another exploded in the Karteria's counter, and tore out the planking of two streaks for a length of six feet, and started out the planking from the two adjacent streaks. As this shell struck the vessel on the water's edge, a ship built in the ordinary manner would have been sunk by this explosion of about nine ounces of powder; but the Karteria was in no danger, as she was built with her timbers close and caulked together. She was also constructed with two solid bulkheads enclosing the engine-room, caulked and lined, so as to be water-tight; consequently, any one of her compartments might have filled with water from a shot-hole without her sinking. The attack of the Turks on the Greek camp having been repulsed, nothing remained for Hastings but to retreat from his dangerous position in the Piræus as speedily as possible. This, however, he did not effect without loss; all his boats were shot through, and he had to encounter a severe fire of musketry from the Turks stationed on each side, as he moved through the pillars at the entrance of the port.

In the month of March an expedition was planned by General Heideck, who was afterwards one of the members of the unhappy regency which misgoverned Greece during the minority of King Otho. The object of this expedition was to destroy the magazines of provisions and stores[Pg 506] which the Turks possessed at Oropos, and, by occupying their lines of communication with Negropont, to compel them to raise the siege of Athens. This was the only feasible method by which the Greeks could ever have hoped to defeat the Turks; but when the execution of it was proposed, it always met with some opposition. When it was at last undertaken by a foreigner, the operation was conducted in so weak and desultory a manner, as to end in complete disgrace.

The naval force which accompanied General Heideck was unusually powerful, as he was then the acknowledged agent of the King of Bavaria. It consisted of the frigate Hellas of sixty-four guns, with the flag of Admiral Miaoulis, the Karteria, and some smaller vessels as transports. The Greek vessels arrived before Oropos in the afternoon, and as the Hellas was compelled to anchor about a mile from the Turkish camp, Captain Hastings immediately steamed into the port. He captured two transports laden with grain and flour, which had just arrived from Negropont; and having anchored within two hundred yards of the Turkish batteries, he opened on them a fire, which in a short time dismounted every gun which they could bring to bear on his ship. A carcass-shell lodging in the fascines of which the principal battery was constructed, soon enveloped the whole in flames—the powder-magazine exploded, and the carriages of the guns were rendered useless.

At this moment the Greek troops, of whom one hundred and fifty were on board the Karteria, loudly demanded to be led to attack the camp; and an officer from General Heideck, who had remained on board the Hellas, was expected every moment to place himself at their head. No orders, however, arrived. Hastings remained all night in the port, and it was not until dawn next morning that the troops were landed. The Turks, in the mean time, had been more active; they had also received considerable reinforcements; the day was consumed without General Heideck going on shore, and a large body of Turkish cavalry making its appearance in the afternoon, he issued orders to re-embark the troops, and sailed back to Egina.

The public attention was suddenly diverted from this disgraceful exhibition of European military science by the arrival of Lord Cochrane in Greece. He came, however, in an English yacht, which had been purchased to expedite his departure, but unaccompanied by a single one of the five steamers which were still unfinished in the Thames. His lordship was soon after appointed lord high admiral of Greece; General Church was at the same time named generalissimo of the land forces; and both officers directed all their attention to raising the siege of Athens, which Kutayhi continued to attack with the greatest constancy.

Captain Hastings was now detached for the first time with an independent naval command. The Turks drew their supplies for carrying on the siege of Athens from a great distance in their rear, as all the provinces of Greece were in a state of desolation. This circumstance exposed their lines of communication, both by land and sea, to be attacked by the Greeks in many different points. Volo was one of the principal depots at which the supplies transmitted from Thessalonica and Constantinople were secured; and from this station they were forwarded by the channel of Eubœa to the fortress of Negropont, and thence to Oropos. From Oropos these supplies were transported on horses and mules to the camp of the Pasha at Patissia, near Athens. Captain Hastings was now charged with the duty of cutting off the communications of the Turks between Volo and Oropos, and instructed to use every exertion to capture their transports and destroy their magazines. For this purpose he sailed from Poros with a small squadron, consisting of the Karteria and four hired vessels—the corvette Themistocles, belonging to the Tombazis; the Ares, belonging to the Admiral Miaoulis; and two small schooners.

On the afternoon of a beautiful clear day, the little fleet entered the bay of Volo, in which eight Turkish transports were seen at anchor. It was some time before the enemy was[Pg 507] persuaded that the Greek vessels were bearing down to attack them, for they considered the anchorage perfectly defended by two batteries which they had erected on the cape, enclosing the harbour, opposite the castle of Volo. The castle itself is a square fort in a dilapidated condition, with only a few guns mounted.

At half-past four o'clock, the Themistocles and Ares received orders to anchor before the batteries, just out of the reach of musketry, and not to waste a single shot before they had taken up their positions. They were then directed to open a heavy fire of grape and round shot on the enemy. While they were executing these orders, Hastings entered the port, and opened his fire of shells on the intrenchments of the Turks, and of grape on the transports, which were filled with men to prevent their capture. The heavy fire of the Karteria, which poured on the enemy three hundred two-ounce balls from each of its guns, soon threw the Turks into confusion; and the boats were manned, and sent to board the transports. Five vessels being heavily laden, though they had been run aground, were not close to the shore, and these were soon captured; but two brigs being empty, were placed close under the fire of the troops in the intrenchments. Though they were attacked by all the boats of the squadron, they were not taken until after an obstinate resistance. The English boatswain of the Karteria, who was the first to mount the side of one, was wounded; but he succeeded in gaining the deck, and hauling down the Turkish flag. A Turk, however, who had no idea of surrendering to an infidel, rushed at him, and fired a pistol at his head. The ball, fortunately, only grazed his forehead. The Turk then leaped overboard, and endeavoured to swim on shore; but one of the English sailors, considering his conduct so unfair as to merit death, jumped into the sea after him, and, having overtaken him, deliberately cut his throat with a clasp-knife, as he had no other weapon, and then returned on board. The Greek Revolution too often gave occasions for displaying

"The instinct of the first-born Cain,
Which ever lurks somewhere in human hearts."


It was found impossible to get the two brigs afloat; and, as their sails had been landed, it would have been impossible to navigate them. They were therefore burnt; and another smaller vessel, which was so placed that Hastings would not expose his men by attempting to take possession of her, was destroyed by shells. A shell, exploding in her hull, blew her fore-mast into the water. For four hours the Karteria remained in the harbour of Volo. The corvette and brig had so completely silenced the fire of the batteries, that they appeared to be abandoned; while the guns of the castle only kept up an irregular and ill-directed fire on the Karteria. The magazines were all in flames from the effect of the red-hot shot fired into them; and, as night approached, the Karteria made the signal for all the vessels to make sail out of the harbour with a light breeze from the land. The spectacle offered by the bay as it grew dark was peculiarly grand. On the sombre outline of the hills round the gulf, innumerable fires were seen; and a continued discharge of musketry was heard proclaiming the arrival of each little band of troops which reached the camp at Volo. The lurid light thrown out by the flames from the burning magazines, and the reflection of the blazing transports, which were quickly consumed to the water's edge, enabled the steamer, in departing, to destroy the carriages of two guns which the Turks were endeavouring to get ready to salute the departing squadron.

Hastings had expected to find at Volo a large Turkish man-of-war, mounting sixteen heavy guns, and two mortars which had been constructed for the siege of Missolonghi, but which had not even got so far as Volo until after the fall of that place. This vessel was now waiting until the Turks should require her to bombard some seaport in the possession of the Greeks. A Greek fishing-boat came alongside to inform Hastings that the Pasha had ordered this vessel to Tricheri for greater security, where she was moored, with three schooners taken from the Greeks at Psara, in a small bay protected by a battery of twelve guns. In this position, she was considered perfectly safe from the attacks of the whole Greek fleet, aided[Pg 508] by the fire-frigate herself, as the Turks called the Karteria. Hastings proceeded immediately to Tricheri, hoping to surprise the enemy by an attack during the night; but he found the Turks on the alert, and their well-directed fire of musketry rendered it impossible to continue the attack with the smallest chance of success.

At daylight next morning, Hastings examined the position of the enemy with care, but he saw there was no hope of capturing the bomb-ketch or any of the schooners; he therefore determined to confine his operations to destroying them. After getting up the steam and heating a few shot, he stood in to about three-quarters of a mile of the Turkish ship, and going slowly round in a large circle, he brought his long guns to bear successively, and fired them with the greatest deliberation. He then moved out of gun-shot of the Turkish battery to observe the effect of his fire. In about half an hour, a quantity of smoke was observed to issue from the large Turkish vessel, which the enemy appeared at first to disregard; but, in a short time, they seemed to discover that their ship was on fire, for they were seen hurrying down and rushing on board in great numbers. The carronades were now reloaded with shells, and the long guns with large grape, and the Karteria stood in to prevent the enemy from continuing his endeavours to extinguish the fire. The attention of the Turks was thus distracted; the flames soon burst through the decks of the ship, and, catching the rigging, rendered all approach to her impossible. In a short time she was a mass of flame; and her guns to the land-side, having been loaded, went off, discharging their shot into the battery formed for her protection. As her upper works burned away, she drifted from her station; but getting again on shore against the rocks, her magazine exploded, and the remains of her hull, with all her guns, sank in deep water. The three schooners also received several shells, and were so injured, as to be rendered unable to put to sea without undergoing great repairs.

The loss of the Greek squadron in this expedition was very small; only three men were killed and two wounded. But one of the killed was James Hall, an Englishman on board the Karteria—an old sailor of a most excellent character, and possessed of considerable knowledge in every branch of his profession. He was killed by a twelve-pound shot from the battery at Tricheri. This shot, after breaking the claw of an anchor, rebounded, and, in falling, struck Hall in the pit of the stomach, and rolled on the deck, as if it had hardly touched his clothes. He fell instantly, and was taken up quite dead—the usual tranquil smile his features bore still lingering on his lips. Hall was not only a most excellent sailor, but, a truly honest man, and he was long remembered and deeply regretted by all on board the Karteria. His remains were committed to the deep, Captain Hastings reading the funeral service; for the English insisted that he would have preferred a sailor's funeral to being interred on shore in a Greek churchyard.

James Hall was the only human spirit among the rude crew of the Karteria, and after his death most of the English sailors displayed the feelings of savages. One old man-of-war's man, who had served in many a well-fought action, declared that he would kill every Turkish prisoner taken in the prizes at Volo; and he attempted one night to break into the cabin abaft the larboard paddle-box, in which some of these Turks were confined. Armed with a large knife, he proclaimed that he was determined to kill the prisoners, and he called on the other sailors to assist him. He argued, that the war with the Turks was an irregular warfare; and as the Turks killed their prisoners, on the ground that they were either rebels or outlaws, it was the duty of the Greeks to kill every Turk who fell into their power. When brought before Captain Hastings, he persisted in his determination; and though he was perfectly sober, he at last declared that he would quit the service, unless the English were allowed in future to kill the prisoners. Hastings tried to reason with him, but in vain. It was necessary to put him under arrest, and when the Kateria re[Pg 509]turned to Poros, he demanded his discharge, and quitted Greece.

The Karteria suffered very severely in her hull and rigging, from the fire of the castle at Volo, and the battery at Tricheri. She lost her jib-boom, main-topmast, gaff, and larboard cat-head, and received much other damage; so that it was necessary to proceed to Poros to give her a thorough repair. On her way, she was fortunate enough to capture four vessels laden with stores and provisions for the Turks of Negropont.

At Poros, Hastings found the affairs of the navy very little improved by Lord Cochrane's presence in Greece; and we think that we cannot convey a better idea of their state, than is contained in a letter which he addressed to his lordship on the 30th of April 1827. "It is with deep regret I see the extreme discontent on board the Sauveur brig, which seems to me to be greatly increased by, if not entirely owing to, the Greeks being paid in advance, and the English being in arrears of wages. In this country, I must repeat, my lord, nothing can be done without regular payments. By paying out of my own funds when others could not be obtained, I have established the confidence both of Greeks and English in this vessel, as far as money is concerned; but I cannot continue to pay out of my own pocket. If funds are not forthcoming, I beg leave to resign. Whilst I am on board, the people will always consider me personally responsible for their wages; and I must again remark, I have suffered already much too severely in my private fortune in this service to admit of my making further sacrifices. Besides wages for the crew, I have various expenses to repair damages sustained in the late actions at Volo and Tricheri." Captain Hastings was, however, at this time, easily induced to continue his services on board the Karteria, as the defeat of the Greek army before Athens on the 6th of May, and the departure of General Gordon, Count Porro, and several other Philhellenes, who considered the cause utterly hopeless, rendered the moment unsuitable for his resignation.

The Karteria was again fitted for sea with the greatest expedition, and joined Lord Cochrane, when he made an unsuccessful attempt to surprise and capture Ibrahim Pasha at Clarenza. Hastings was separated from the Hellas by bad weather, and in returning to the rendezvous at Spetzia, he lost two of his masts and two men, in a hurricane off Cape Malea. Shortly after his return to Poros, where he was again compelled to refit, he received the following laconic communication from Lord Cochrane, in which all mention of a rendezvous was omitted.

"Memo.—If the Perseverance is fit for service, please join the squadron without delay.

"Hellas, 7th June 1827.
"Captain Hastings, Perseverance."


In consequence of this order, Captain Hastings set out in search of Lord Cochrane. A series of fruitless cruises followed, in which every division of the Turkish fleet contrived to escape the Greeks. At last, it was resolved that an attack should be made on Vasiladhi, the little fort which commands the entrance into the lagoons of Missolonghi; and the whole fleet, under the command of Lord Cochrane in person, appeared off that place. The attempt was only persisted in for a short time, and it failed.

The treaty of the 6th of July 1827, for the pacification of the affairs of Greece, between Great Britain, France, and Russia, now became known to the Greeks; and the news stimulated both them and their friends to make increased exertions, in order that the Allies might find as much of the country as possible already delivered from the Turkish yoke. A small squadron of ten Turkish brigs having entered the Gulf of Lepanto, Lord Cochrane gave Hastings an order to pursue them, conceived in the following flattering terms:—

Off Missolonghi, 18th Sept. 1827.

"You have been good enough to volunteer to proceed into the Gulf of Lepanto, into which, under existing circumstances, I should not have order[Pg 510]ed the Perseverance (Karteria.) I therefore leave all the proceedings to your judgment, intimating only, that the transporting of General Church's troops to the north of the gulf, and the destruction or capture of the enemy's vessels, will be services of high importance to the cause of Greece."


Captain Hastings immediately entered the gulf, passing through the formidable strait between the castles of the Morea and Roumelia, called the Dardanelles of Lepanto, during the night. On the 29th of September, having collected his little squadron, consisting of the Karteria, the brig Sauveur of eighteen guns, commanded by Captain Thomas, and two gun-boats, each mounting a long thirty-two pounder; Hastings stood into the bay of Salona (Amphissa) to attack a Turkish squadron, consisting of nine vessels, anchored under the protection of batteries, and a large body of troops placed at the Scala of Salona. Three Austrian merchantmen in the port were also filled with armed men, in spite of the remonstrances of their masters, and assisted in defending the squadron at anchor.

About ten o'clock a.m., the Karteria, followed by the Sauveur and the two gun-boats, stood into the bay to attack this formidable position. The Turks were so confident of victory, that they were eager to see the Greek ships anchor as near them as possible. They therefore withheld their fire until Captain Hastings made the signal for anchoring. The Karteria proceeded much nearer the shore than the sailing vessels, and having anchored within five hundred yards, opposite the vessel which bore the flag of the Turkish commodore, she opened her fire. The Turks then commenced a furious cannonade from upwards of sixty pieces of artillery; but they had hardly time to reload the greater part of the guns on board their ships. Captain Hastings, before going into action, had heated several shells, thinking that sixty-eight pound shot might pass through both sides of the vessels he was about to engage so near, as they were principally constructed of fir. After firing one broadside of cold shot to make sure of the range, his second consisted of two hot shells from the long guns, and two carcass-shells from the carronades. One of these lodged in the hull of the Turkish commodore, and, reaching the powder-magazine, the action commenced by blowing up his ship.[12] A carcass-shell exploding in the bows of the brig anchored next to the commodore, she sank forward, while a hot shell striking her stern, which stood up in the shallow water, it was soon enveloped in flames. In a few minutes, another vessel was perceived to be on fire; and a fine Algerine schooner, mounting twenty long brass guns, having received a shell which exploded between her decks, was abandoned by her crew.

The battle of Salona afforded the most satisfactory proofs of the efficiency of the armament of steam-boats, with heavy guns, which Captain Hastings had so long and so warmly advocated. The terrific and rapid manner in which a force so greatly superior to his own was utterly annihilated by the hot shot and shells of the Karteria, silenced the opponents of Captain Hastings' plan throughout all Europe. From that day it became evident to all who studied the progress of naval warfare, that every nation in Europe must adopt his principles of marine artillery, and arm some vessels in their fleets on the model he had given them. In Greece the question of continuing to hire merchant ships to form a fleet was put to rest; and the necessity of commencing the formation of a national navy was now admitted by Hydriotes, Spetziotes, and Psariotes.

The services of the other vessels in the Greek squadron at Salona, though eclipsed by the superior armament of the Karteria ought not to be over[Pg 511]looked. Captain Thomas, who commanded the Sauveur, displayed all the courage, activity, and skill of an experienced English officer; he silenced the two batteries, on which the Turks had placed great dependence, as alone sufficient to prevent the Greeks from entering the port; and by a well-directed fire of grape, he compelled the troops which lined the shore to get under the cover of the irregular ground in the neighbourhood. Hastings then made the signal for all the boats of the squadron to take possession of the Algerine schooner and the two other brigs which were not on fire.

A severe contest took place in order to gain possession of the schooner; for the fire of the Greek ships being suspended as the boats approached her, the Turkish troops sprang from their hiding-places, and rushed to the edge of the rocks, which commanded a view of her deck. From this position they opened a heavy fire of musketry on those who had mounted her sides. The fire of the gun-boats again cleared the beach; but the Turks contrived to keep up a severe fire at intervals, and Mr Scanlan, the first lieutenant of the Sauveur, was killed, and several others wounded, in attempting to get her under weigh. Captain Hastings steamed up to the schooner at last, and having got her stream-cable made fast, attempted to move her; but the cable broke, and it became evident that the falling tide in the bay had fixed her firmly on the ground. With incredible exertions her long brass guns were all saved, and she was then set on fire. Mr Phalangas, a Greek officer, the first lieutenant of the Karteria, was also wounded in setting fire to a brig anchored at some distance from the rest. The boats then concluded the day by driving the Turks from the Austrian merchantmen, and bringing out these vessels as prizes.

In this engagement nine Turkish vessels were destroyed, though defended by batteries on shore and upwards of 500 veteran troops; yet it cost the assailants only six men killed and a few wounded. In the despatch of Captain Hastings, announcing the victory, he pays a high tribute to the merits of Captain Hane, who had served with him at the siege of Nauplia in 1822, and in Crete during the campaign of 1823. "The services of Captain Hane of the artillery, serving on board this vessel, are too well known on every former occasion to make it necessary for me to say more than that I am equally indebted to him now as on other occasions."

Ibrahim Pasha was at Navarin with an immense fleet, when he heard of the destruction of his ships in the bay of Salona. Sir Edward Codrington and Admiral de Rigny had, on the 25th of September, entered into convention with him to suspend all hostilities against the Greeks until he should receive answers from Constantinople and Alexandria to the communications made on the part of the three allied powers; but neither Hastings nor the Turkish commodore in the Gulf of Lepanto were aware of this circumstance. The rage of Ibrahim when he heard of the result of the affair at Salona knew no bounds, and he determined to inflict the severest vengeance on Hastings, whose little squadron he thought he could easily annihilate.

Sir Edward Codrington, after arranging the terms of the convention, had repaired to Zante to wait the arrival of several vessels he expected, and Admiral de Rigny had left Navarin to collect the French force in the Archipelago. Ibrahim, seeing that there were no ships of the allies at Navarin capable of stopping his fleet, ordered twenty-six men-of-war to put to sea on the 30th of September. He embarked himself with this division of his fleet, determined to witness the destruction of the Greek squadron. A violent gale, however, compelled him to put back on the 3d of October; but a part of his fleet, under the command of the Patrona Bey, persisting in its endeavours to enter the Gulf of Lepanto, was pursued by Admiral Codrington, who forced it to return to Navarin, but not until he had found himself obliged to fire into several of the Ottoman ships. As the English admiral had at the time a very small force at Zante, many of the Turkish ships might, in spite of all his exertions, have escaped into the gulf, unless he had been aided in arresting their progress by a succession of gales which blew on the 4th, 5th, and 6th of October. These gales assisted Sir Edward Codrington in compelling the[Pg 512] whole of the dispersed fleet of the Patrona Bey to seek refuge in the port of Navarin.

In the mean time the position of Captain Hastings was one of extreme danger, and Lord Cochrane, who addressed his last official communication to him on the 12th of October, conveys his parting words of praise and confidence in the following terms:—"You have done so much good, and so much is anticipated from your keeping open the communications between the shores of the gulf, that I think you would do well to remain for a while where you are. You occupy, however, a position of risk, if the reports are true regarding the fleet being off Patras; and therefore I leave you to act in all things as you judge best for the public service." Hastings, as soon as he was informed of Ibrahim Pasha's intention to attack him, and before he had received the news of his deliverance by the movement of Sir Edward Codrington's squadron, had selected the spot in which he hoped to be able to defy the attacks of the whole fleet sent against him. He chose a small bay at the eastern extremity of the Gulf of Corinth, formed in the rocky precipices of Mount Geranion, and open to the Alcyonian sea. This little bay or port is called Stravá. Its entrance is protected by two rocky islands, and it is bounded on the continent by a succession of precipices covered by pine woods, which render the debarkation of a large force in the neighbourhood very difficult. Hastings proposed to defend this position by landing four of his guns on the mainland and the islands; and he made every preparation for receiving the Egyptians with a well-sustained fire of hot shot, while a number of Greek troops were assembled to man the rocks around.

There can be no doubt that Ibrahim Pasha committed a blunder in violating the convention into which he had just entered, and his attempt at taking vengeance into his own hands, instead of appealing to the three allied powers, created great distrust on the part of the admirals. They naturally enough conceived that he would always hold himself ready to take every advantage of their absence, and their only method of effectually watching the immense fleet assembled at Navarin was by bringing their own squadrons to an anchor in that immense harbour. The battle of Navarin, on the 20th of October, was the natural consequence of the distrust on the one side, and the eager desire of revenge on the other, which rendered the proximity of the different fleets necessary. The affair of Captain Hastings at Salona, as one of the proximate causes of this great naval engagement, acquires an historical importance far exceeding its mere military results. In the eyes of the Greeks and Turks it very justly occupies a prominent place in the history of the Greek war, as it is by them always viewed as the link which connects their military operations with the celebrated battle of Navarin.

The destruction of the Turkish and Egyptian fleets delivered Greece from imminent peril; but in the exultation created by the assurance that their independence was firmly established, the Greek government began to forget the services which the Karteria had rendered in the days of their despair. No supplies of any kind were forwarded to Captain Hastings, who remained in the gulf; both Lord Cochrane and the government allowed him to remain without provisions, and his crew would have in great part quitted him, unless he had paid the men their wages from his own fortune. On the 17th of November he wrote to Lord Cochrane, urging the necessity of sending him some assistance. This letter, which remained unanswered, contains the following passages:—"I am now seven thousand pounds out of pocket by my services in Greece, and I am daily expending my own money for the public service. Our prizes are serving as transports for the army, and we must either shortly abandon this position or be paid. Without money I cannot any longer maintain this vessel. I will do all I can; but I must repeat, that it is not quite fair I should end a beggar, after all the labour, vexation, and disappointment I have experienced for so many years."

The only body of troops available for any national purpose, which had been kept together after the loss of Athens, with the exception of the corps[Pg 513] of regular troops under General Fabvier, was that assembled by General Church on the southern shores of the Gulf of Lepanto. As soon as the battle of Navarin had paralysed the movements of the Turks, General Church determined to transport his troops from the Morea into Acarnania, where the Greek captains, who had submitted to the Turks, offered again to take up arms, if an adequate force appeared in the province to support them. The principal object which detained the Karteria in the gulf had been to assist the movements of General Church, who now resolved to cross over to Acarnania from Cape Papas. On the evening of the 17th of November, Captain Hastings received a communication from General Church, requesting him to appear off Cape Papas next day.

In order to arrive at the rendezvous in time, Hastings was compelled to quit the gulf in the daytime, and consequently to expose his own ship and the three prizes to the fire of the castles of the Morea and Romelia—an act of rashness of which he would not willingly have been guilty. The castle of the Morea mounted about sixty guns, and that of Romelia twenty-seven; those commanding the straights were of large calibre. As their fire crossed, the passage of the Dardanelles of Lepanto was always considered a dangerous enterprise; and certainly, if the batteries had been served by good artillerymen, no ship could have ventured under their fire without being destroyed. Even with the gunners of Ibrahim Pasha's army, the passage was attended with considerable risk.

The little squadron of Captain Hastings approached the castles about noon on a beautiful day. The Karteria, leading with a favourable wind, and spreading an immense extent of canvass from her four low masts, glided along with the aid of her steam at an amazing rate. Her three prizes, followed with every sail set, and two Greek misticos availed themselves of the opportunity of quitting the gulf in order to cruise as privateers between Patras and Missolonghi. The moment the Karteria came within gun-shot of the Turkish castles, they opened their fire; and for some time the balls fell thick around her—those of both castles passing over her hull, and falling beyond their mark. Several shot, however, struck her sails, and the slow and regular manner in which each gun was discharged as it came to bear, indicated that the passage was not likely to be effected without some loss. Fortunately very few shot struck the hull of the Karteria, yet the damage she received was not inconsiderable. The funnel was shot through, a patent windlass was broken to pieces, and the fragments of the iron wheels scattered about the decks like a shower of grape. Several paddles were wrenched off the starboard paddle-wheel, and one shot passed through the side near the water's edge. Two of the best sailors on board were killed by a twenty-four pound shot while working a gun on the quarter-deck. The hand of a boy was carried away by another, and yet all this loss was sustained ere the Karteria had reached the centre of the passage. At the moment when every shot was taking effect, the Turks suddenly lost the range. Every succeeding shot passed over the steamer, and she proceeded along under the fire of more than half the guns, without receiving any additional damage. The Turks were only able to reload a few guns to discharge at the rest of the squadron, which escaped uninjured.

The loss of two men killed and one wounded, distressed Captain Hastings. He was sure the Turks at Patras would soon receive an exaggerated account of the damage he had sustained, from their spies at Zante; and as this would embolden those who furnished their camp with provisions, he was extremely anxious to destroy any vessels that might be anchored at Patras, in order to convince the enemy that the Karteria was to be dreaded, even after receiving the greatest injury. A favourable opportunity fortunately offered itself of displaying the power of the steamer to Ibrahim Pasha's camp at Patras. On approaching the roadstead, a brig heavily laden was seen at anchor, which had evidently arrived the preceding night, little expecting that the Greek squadron would quit the gulf in the daytime. Hastings im[Pg 514]mediately made every preparation for cutting her out, but the Austrian consul was seen approaching in a small boat, with a flag like the ensign of a three-decker. The following dialogue took place between him and Hastings alongside the Karteria, while the Austrians in the brig were actively engaged in getting every thing ready to haul their vessel, at a moment's warning, under a battery of Turkish field-pieces placed on the beach.

Hastings.—"As Austrian consul, you must be aware that the Greek government have been blockading Patras for some time, and that there is now a gun-boat cruising off the port."

Austrian Consul.—"My government acknowledges no such authority as a Greek government, and, consequently, does not admit the validity of its acts."

Hastings.—"My orders, however, are to enforce those acts. I must, therefore, request you to proceed immediately to the Austrian brig at anchor in the Harbour, and order the master to come on board with his papers."

Austrian Consul.—"I believe I am speaking to an Englishman; and neither Austria nor Turkey being at war with England, you are bound to respect the Austrian flag."

Hastings.—"You are speaking, sir, to an officer in the Greek service, commanding the squadron blockading Patras; and if the Austrian brig does not place itself under my protection in five minutes, I shall fire into the Turkish camp, and it will be destroyed."

In saying this, Captain Hastings took out his watch and left the consul, who vainly endeavoured to renew the conversation in order to gain time. When he quitted the Karteria, he pulled towards the shore, instead of proceeding to communicate Hastings' orders to the master of the brig. This being, apparently, a concerted signal, the greatest exertions were suddenly commence to haul the Austrian vessel under the guns of the battery.

Hastings allowed the Austrian consul five minutes to reach the shore; and as he was not inclined to expose his crew to any loss in taking possession of a prize which he could easily destroy without danger, he directed his fire against the Austrian brig. As soon as he found that he was approaching the range of the Turkish battery, he fired a few shells into it and the Austrian vessel. One of these exploding in her hull near the water's edge, tore out great part of her side, and she sank almost instantaneously, barely leaving time for the crew to escape in the long-boat.

On the 28th of November, General Church reached Cape Papas with the first division of his army, consisting of only six hundred men, which was embarked and transported to Dragomestré. Two days after, the squadron returned, and conveyed over to Romelia the remainder of the Greek troops, not exceeding seven hundred soldiers; so that General Church opened his winter campaign in Acarnania, which led to the conquest of that province, with a force of only one thousand three hundred fighting men.

While the Greek army was engaged in fortifying its position at Dragomestré, Captain Hastings resolved to attack Vasiladhi—the small insular fort commanding the entrance into the lagoons of Missolonghi and Anatolikon, which Lord Cochrane had attempted in vain to capture about three months before. On the 22d of December he anchored about three thousand yards from the fort, finding that it was impossible to bring the Karteria any nearer. For nearly a mile round Vasiladhi, the depth of the water does not exceed three feet, and the fort itself rises little more than six feet above the level of the sea. The bombardment of such a place was a delicate operation, requiring the most favourable weather, and the very best artillery practice. The first day the attempt was made, two hundred shells were fired without producing any effect. When fired en ricochet, they diverged to the right and left in a manner which gave Vasiladhi the appearance of an enchanted spot. Captain Hastings conjectured that this singular circumstance was owing to the shallowness of the water; the mud approaching the surface close to the fort, afforded so much more resistance to the shells which fell in[Pg 515] its immediate vicinity, as to cause a more marked deviation in the line of their primary direction.

At the same time it was found that those shells which were fired with a charge of eight pounds of powder, at twenty-three degrees of elevation—the highest elevation that could be given to the long guns—all varied to the right, though the day was perfectly calm. This variation appeared to be caused by a strong current of air at some height above the earth's surface; but it was so irregular that it was found impossible to make any correct allowance for it; and it was singular, that any wind perceptible on the deck of the Karteria blew in the contrary direction.

For some days after this unsuccessful attempt, the weather was too stormy to think of renewing the attack; but on the 29th of December the day was perfectly calm, and the atmosphere of that transparent clearness which characterises the climate of Greece. Hastings determined to bombard Vasiladhi a second time. The first shell fired indicated that the circumstances were now favourable; and the fourth, which Captain Hastings fired with his own hand, exploded in the powder-magazine. All the boats were instantly ordered out to storm the place; but the Turks were thrown into such a state of confusion by the explosion of the powder, and the fire which burst out in their huts, that they were unable to offer any resistance; and the assailants, commanded by Captain Hane of the artillery, entered the place, seized the arms of the Turks, and set them to work at extinguishing the fire, which was spreading to the magazine of provisions, as if they had only arrived to assist their friends. There were fifty-one Turks in the fort; twelve had been killed by the explosion.

Captain Hastings ordered all the prisoners to be transported on board the Karteria; and as he could ill spare any of his provisions, and could not encumber his vessel with enemies who required to be guarded, he resolved to release them immediately. He therefore informed the Turkish commandant that he would send him to Missolonghi in a monoxylon, or canoe used in the lagoons, in order to procure two large flat-bottomed boats to take away the prisoners. The Turk, who considered this was only a polite way of letting him know that he was to be drowned or suffocated in the mud, showed, nevertheless, no signs of fear or anger. He thanked Captain Hastings for the soldier-like manner in which he had been treated, and said that, as a prisoner, it was his duty to meet death in any way his conqueror might determine. The scene at last began to assume a comic character;—for Hastings was the last person on board to perceive that his prisoner supposed that he was about to be murdered by his orders; and the Turkish commandant was the only one who did not understand that it was really Hastings' intention to send him to Missolonghi in perfect safety. When the Turk was conducted to the monoxylon, in which one of his own men was seated, in order to paddle the boat through the lagoon, he was convinced of his error, and his expressions of gratitude to Hastings were warm, though as dignified as his previous conduct.

The flat-bottomed boats arrived next day, and took away the prisoners. They brought a sheep and a sabre as a present to Captain Hastings from the Turkish commandant, accompanied by a letter expressing his regret that the commander-in-chief in Missolonghi would not allow him to come himself to visit his benefactor.

The conquest of Vasiladhi did not diminish the difficulties with which Hastings was surrounded, nor remove any of the disagreeable circumstances attendant on the neglect with which he was treated by Lord Cochrane and the Greek government. On the 7th of January 1828, he wrote to a friend in the following desponding terms:—"I am full of misery. I have not a dollar. I owe my people three months' pay, and five dollars a man gratuity for Vasiladhi. I have no provisions. I have lost an anchor and chain. If I can get out of my present difficulties, I may perhaps go into the gulf."

On the 16th of January he wrote to the Greek government, stating all the difficulties of his position, and complaining of the manner in which the Karteria had been left entirely dependent on his private resources.[Pg 516] He wrote: "It has become an established maxim to leave this vessel without any supplies. Dr Goss has just been at Zante, and has left three hundred dollars for the Helvetia, now serving under my orders—but not one farthing, no provisions, and not even a single word, for me. Five months ago, I was eight thousand dollars in advance for the pay of my crew; and, since that time, I have only received one thousand dollars from the naval chest of Lord Cochrane, and six hundred from the military of General Church. This last sum is not even sufficient to pay the expenses incurred by the detention of our prizes in order to serve as transports for the army. I have, in addition to the ordinary expenses of this vessel, been obliged to purchase wood for our steam-engine, and provisions for the gun-boat Helvetia—to which I have also furnished two hundred dollars in money to pay the crew. The capture of Vasiladhi has cost me two thousand dollars; yet I have not taken the brass cannon in that fort, and replaced them with the iron guns of our prizes, in order to assist me in meeting my expenses."

About this time Count Capo d'Istrias arrived in Greece to assume the presidency of the republic; and Captain Hastings, as soon as he was informed of his arrival, transmitted him a very valuable letter, in which he gave a luminous picture of the state of affairs in Western Greece. This letter is particularly instructive, as it gives an admirable summary of the line of conduct which gained Hastings his great reputation in Greece. "From the hour of my receiving the command of the Karteria, I determined to break down the system existing in the navy of paying the sailors in advance, as such a practice is destructive of all discipline. The Greek government and Lord Cochrane, however, did not adopt this rule. They paid their own equipages in advance, and they left mine unpaid."

Count Capo d'Istrias, though a very able diplomatist, was not a military man; and he paid no attention to Hastings' letter. Lord Cochrane, who had long ceased to hold any communication with Captain Hastings, had, a short time previous to the arrival of Count Capo d'Istrias, suddenly disappeared from Greece, in the English yacht in which he arrived, without giving the Greek government any notice of his intention. In this state of things, it was not wonderful that the naval affairs of the country fell into the most deplorable anarchy; and the disorder became so painful to Captain Hastings, that he resigned the command of the Kateria and resolved to quit Greece.

The importance of preventing so distinguished a Philhellene from quitting Greece so shortly after his own arrival, struck Count Capo d'Istrias very forcibly, and he resolved to do every thing in his power to retain Captain Hastings in his service. To effect this, he invited him to a personal interview at Poros, in order, as he said, to avail himself of the valuable experience of so tried a friend to the cause of his country. When they met, it was easy for Capo d'Istrias to persuade Hastings to resume the command of the naval division in the Gulf of Corinth; particularly as the president promised to adopt the principles which Hastings laid down as necessary for the formation of a national navy, and engaged to follow his advice in organizing this force. Nothing, indeed, could have gratified the ambition of Captain Hastings so much as being employed in this way, since he could thus hope to raise a durable monument of his naval skill, and a lasting memorial of his service in Greece.

After commencing the formation of a naval arsenal at Poros, and laying the foundation for some superstructure of order in the naval administration, Hastings again assumed the command of the Karteria; and on the 9th of May 1828, anchored off Vasiladhi, in order to co-operate with the troops under General Church. The united forces had been directed by the president to act against Anatolikon and Missolonghi, which, it was hoped, would easily be compelled to surrender. After reconnoitring the approaches to Anatolikon, which General Church had resolved to attack first, Captain Hastings, with his usual activity, prepared rocket-frames, and brought all his boats into the lagoons. On the 15th, an attempt was made to set fire to the town by the discharge of a number of[Pg 517] six and twelve-pound rockets; but, though many entered the place, no conflagration ensued, and the attack failed. It was then determined to bombard Anatolikon; and, under the cover of a heavy fire of shells from the batteries, and grenades from the gun-boats, to make an attempt to carry the place by storm.

The 25th of May was fixed for the assault; and Captain Hastings, who felt the necessity of enforcing order, and setting an example of courage in so important a crisis, determined to direct the attack of the naval forces in person. Unfortunately, a division of the land forces, which were totally destitute of all discipline, and not even officered in a regular manner, had been embarked in the boats of some Greek privateers, for the purpose of assisting in the attack. The real object of these troops was to try to get first into the place in order to pillage. Before the artillery had produced any effect, and before Captain Hastings had made all the necessary dispositions for the assault, these irregular troops advanced to the attack. Two officers of the marine, who commanded the gun-boats at the greatest distance from the boats of the Karteria, seeing the attack commencing, and supposing that the signal had been given by Captain Hastings, pushed forward. No alternative now remained between carrying the place, or witnessing a total defeat of a considerable part of the force under his command; Hastings, therefore, without a moment's hesitation, endeavoured to repair the error already committed, by rendering the attack as general as possible. Making the signal of attack, he led the boats of the Karteria to the assault.

The ardour of the troops who rashly commenced the attack abated, as soon as they found that the Turks received them with a well-directed fire of musketry. After some feeble attempts to approach the enemy, in which they sustained no loss, they kept their boats stationary far out of musket-shot of Anatolikon. On the other side, the boats of the Greek squadron advanced with great gallantry and steadiness; but the Turks had assembled a powerful force, which was posted in a well-protected position, and opened a severe fire on the assailants. The shallow water, and intricate channel through the lagoon, retarded the progress of the two gun-boats; and Captain Andrea, who commanded that in advance, having been killed, and some of his men wounded, his crew was thrown into disorder. Captain Hastings, pushing forward in his gig to repair this loss, was almost immediately after struck by a rifle-ball in the left arm, and fell down. His fall was the signal for a general retreat.

When the boats returned to the Karteria, the wound of Captain Hastings was examined and bandaged. By a most unfortunate accident, there was no surgeon attached to the ship at the time; one surgeon having left a few days before, and his successor not having arrived. A medical man had, however, without any loss of time, been procured from the camp on shore; and after he had dressed the wound, he declared that it was not alarming, and that the arm was in no danger. Though he suffered great pain, Captain Hastings soon began to turn his attention to repairing the loss the Greek arms had sustained. On the 28th of May, he wrote a report of the proceedings before Anatolikon, addressed to the minister of the marine; and in it he expressed the hope, that in a few days his wound would be so far healed as to allow him again to assume the direction of the operations against Anatolikon in person.

But, in spite of the favourable opinion expressed by the surgeon of the troops, it became evident that the wound was rapidly becoming worse; and it was decided that amputation was necessary. In order to entrust the operation to a more skilful surgeon than the one who had hitherto attended him, it was necessary that Captain Hastings should proceed to Zante. This decision had unfortunately been delayed too long. Tetanus had ensued before the Karteria reached the port; and, on the 1st of June, Frank Abney Hastings expired at Zante, on board the Karteria, which he had so gloriously commanded.

The moment his death was known in Greece, the great value of his[Pg 518] services was universally felt. All hope of organizing the Greek navy perished with him; and notwithstanding the advice and assistance of the European powers, and the adoption of many plans prepared by the allies of Greece, the naval force of that country is in a much worse condition to-day than it was at the time of Captain Hastings' death in 1828. Every honour was paid to his memory. The president of Greece, Count Capo d'Istrias, decreed that his remains should receive a public funeral; and by an ordinance addressed to Mr Alexander Maurocordatos, the minister of the marine, and Mr George Finlay and Mr Nicholas Kalergy, the personal friends of the deceased, he charged these gentlemen with this sacred duty. Mr Tricoupi pronounced the funeral oration when the interment took place at Poros; and he concluded his discourse with the following words, as the prayer of the assembled clergy in the name of the whole Greek nation:—"O Lord! in thy heavenly kingdom remember Frank Abney Hastings, who died in defence of his suffering fellow-creatures."

But nations are proverbially ungrateful. Nearly seventeen years have now elapsed since the death of Hastings, the best and ablest Englishman who, even to the present hour, has been connected in any way with the public affairs of Greece; yet neither the Greek government nor the Greek people, though often revelling in millions rashly furnished them by their injudicious friends, have ever thought of paying their debt of gratitude to the memory of Frank Abney Hastings. While stars and ribands have been lavishly conferred on those whose power was supposed to influence the arrival of expected millions, the heirs of Hastings were forgotten. We are bound, however, to absolve a considerable portion of the nation from the charge of ingratitude and avarice, which we only thereby concentrate against the government, and the leading statesmen of the country.

When the numerous Greek sailors who had served under the orders of Hastings heard of his death, many of them happened to be at Egina. They immediately collected a sum of money among themselves, and engaged the clergy at Egina to celebrate the funeral service in the principal church, with all the pomp and ceremony possible in those troubled times. Never probably was a braver man more sincerely mourned by a veteran band of strangers, who, in a foreign land, grieved more deeply for his untimely loss.

It may appear surprising to many of our readers that we should give to the name of Hastings so very prominent a position in the history of the latter days of the Greek Revolution, when that name is comparatively unknown at home. To make this apparent, we shall endeavour to explain the manner in which the Greeks carried on their warfare with the Turks; and it will then appear that European officers were not generally likely to form either a correct or a favourable opinion of the military affairs of the country. It is not, therefore, surprising that false ideas of the state of Greece have prevailed, or indeed that they still continue to prevail, even among the foreigners long resident in the new Greek kingdom. The military operations of the Greeks, both at sea and on shore, were remarkable, not only for a total want of all scientific knowledge, but also for the absence of every shadow of discipline, and the first elements of order and subordination. The troops consisted of a number of separate corps, each under its own captain, who regulated the movements, and provided for the supply of his men, from day to day. Every soldier joined his standard, and left it, when he thought fit, unless when it happened that he had received some pay in advance; in which case, he was bound in honour to remain in the camp for the term he was engaged. With such an army, any systematic plan of campaign, and all strategetical combinations, were clearly impossible; and when they have been attempted by the different European officers who have commanded the Greeks, they have invariably ended in the most complete defeats the Greeks have ever sustained. So entirely were the operations of the war an affair of chance, that the mountain skirmishes, in which the Greek troops excelled, were usually brought on by accident.[Pg 519]

In such an army, it is evident that the services of many an able officer would be useless. A Greek general could only acquire and maintain a due influence over his troops by taking a rifle in his hand, and bounding over the rocks in advance of his soldiers. The best general, therefore, in the estimation of the soldiers, was the officer who could run fastest, see furthest, and fire with truest aim from behind the smallest possible projection of a rock. In cases where it became absolutely necessary to enforce obedience to an order, the captain required to be both able and willing to knock down the first man who dared to show any signs of dissatisfaction with the butt of his pistol. Many excellent European generals were not competent to emulate the fame to be gained in such a service.

Matters were very little better in the fleet. The sailors were always paid in advance, or they refused to embark; if on a cruise, when the term for which they had been paid expired, they always returned home, unless prevented by an additional payment. While at sea, they frequently held councils to discuss the movements of their ships, and repeatedly compelled their captains to alter the plans adopted by the admiral; and sometimes they have been known to carry their ships home in defiance of their officers. Even the brilliant exploits of the fire-ships which destroyed the Turkish three-deckers, were entirely performed by volunteers, and are rather due to the daring courage of Kanaris, and a few other individuals, than to the naval skill of the Greek fleet. In the latter years of the war, when the Turks and Egyptians had, by the exertions of Sultan Mahmoud and Mohammed Ali, made some small progress in naval affairs, the fire-ships of the Greeks failed to produce any important results.

Captain Hastings, observing the total difference between Greek and European warfare, avoided the error into which foreigners generally fell, of allowing their authority to be mixed up with that of others, over whose actions they could not exercise any efficient control. Instead of seeking a command, the imposing title of which might flatter his vanity, and impose on the rest of Europe, Hastings steadily refused to accept any rank, or place himself in any command, where he would have been unable to enforce obedience to his orders. By this means, and by the sacrifice of very large sums of money from his private fortune, in paying not only the men, but even all the officers who bore commissions on board the Karteria, he was enabled to maintain some order and discipline in that vessel. Though he was at the head of the smallest detached force commanded by a foreigner in Greece, there can be no doubt that, of all the foreigners who have visited Greece, he rendered the greatest service to the cause of her independence. At the same time, it is not wonderful that all other foreigners have felt but little inclined to give the due meed of praise to a line of conduct which they have never had strength of mind to imitate.

It may be observed here, that the naval operations of Captain Hastings possess considerable interest in connexion with the modern history of maritime warfare in Europe. The Karteria was the first steam-vessel armed with long sixty-eight pounders; she was the first vessel from which eight-inch shells and hot shot were used as ordinary projectiles. And this great change in the employment of destructive elements of warfare was introduced by Captain Hastings among a people where he had to teach the first principles of military discipline. Yet he overcame every difficulty; and with very little assistance, either from the Greek government, or the officers who were his superiors in the Greek navy, he succeeded in giving all the naval powers of Europe a valuable practical lesson in marine artillery. Great Britain is especially called upon to acknowledge her obligations to Captain Hastings. She has imitated the armament of the Greek steam-frigate Karteria in several vessels; and though the admiralty have doubtless added many improvements in our ships, we are only the more explicitly bound to recognise the debt of gratitude we owe. By rendering naval warfare not only more destructive, but at the same time making it more dependent on a combination of good gunnery and mechanical knowledge with profound[Pg 520] naval skill, he has increased the naval power of Great Britain, where all these qualities are cultivated in the highest degree. At the same time, the civilized world is indebted to him for rendering battles so terrible as to be henceforth less frequent; and for putting an end to naval warfare as a means of amusing kings, and gratifying the ambition of princely admirals, or vain-glorious states.

In concluding this sketch of the biography of Hastings, we regret that we have to record the death of Colonel Hane of the Greek army, so long his companion during the war, and who is so often and so honourably mentioned in his despatches as Captain Hane of the artillery. His death is another blot on Greece, and on what is called the English party in Greece, by whom he was treated with the greatest neglect. Colonel Hane was removed from active employment in 1842, when King Otho placed many Philhellenes and Greeks on a trifling pittance of half-pay, in order to retain a number of Bavarian officers in his service, who were richly endowed with staff-appointments. As a Philhellene, a constitutionalist, and an Englishman, it was natural that Colonel Hane should be treated with the utmost severity by the court and the Bavarian administration.

The adoption of the constitution on the 15th September (3d O.S.) 1843, caused all the Bavarians to be dismissed from the Greek service; but there were so many Greeks more eager in their solicitations for appointments than Colonel Hane, and ministers are always so much more ready to listen to the claims of their party than their country, that the title of a stranger to the gratitude of Greece was easily forgotten. When Mr Alexander Maurocordatos, however, became prime-minister, his subserviency to English diplomacy was supposed by many to indicate a feeling of attachment to English views, and an esteem for the English character. Under this impression, Mr Bracebridge, Dr Howe, and Mr George Finlay, solicited Sir Edmund Lyons to exert his influence to prevent an Englishman, who, for twenty-three years, had served Greece with courage and fidelity, from dying of absolute want. Mr Maurocordatos gave Sir Edmund Lyons some promises, but those promises were never fulfilled; and Colonel Hane died of a broken heart at Athens, on the 18th of September 1844, leaving a young wife and three children in the most destitute condition.

It was well known to every body in Athens, from King Otho to the youngest soldiers in the army, that Colonel Hane had for some time suffered the severest privations of poverty, which he had vainly endeavoured to conceal. That his last hours were soothed by the possession of the necessaries of life, was owing to the delicacy with which Dr Howe and Mr Bracebridge contrived to make the assistance they supplied as soothing to his mind, as it was indispensable for the comfort of his declining health.

Frank Abney Hastings, the hero who commanded the Karteria, and John Hane, the gallant officer who fought by his side, now rest in peace. Two volunteers, their friends and companions in many a checkered scene of life, still survive to cherish the memory of the days spent together on board the Karteria. One has acquired a wide-extended reputation in America and Europe, by the intelligence, activity, and we may truly say genius, with which he has laboured to alleviate the sufferings of humanity. But for an account of Dr Howe's exertions to extend the blessings of education to the blind, the deaf, and the dumb, we must refer to Dickens' American Notes. The other still watches the slow progress of the Greeks towards that free and independent condition of which these friends of their cause once fancied they beheld the approaching dawn. We may, therefore, allow the names of Hastings, Hane, Howe, and Finlay, to stand united on our page—

"As in this glorious and well foughten field
They stood together in their chivalry."

Edinburgh: Printed by Ballantyne and Hughes, Paul's Work.


[1] An offspring created without a mother.

[2] "There is no one now thinks of reading Montesquieu," said the Marquis of Mirabeau, author of L'Ami des Hommes, and a distinguished economist, to the King of Sweden, in 1772, at Paris.—See Biog. Univ. xxix. 89.

[3] This is still the case in some parts of England, according to the custom called Borough-English, Blackstone, ii. 93. Duhalde mentions that a similar rule of descent prevails among some of the Tartar tribes whom he visited on the frontiers of China: a curious indication of the justice of Montesquieu's speculation as to its origin.

[4] We were once told by Mr West, the president, that the reading of Richardson, (to use his own words,) "lighted up a fire in his breast that had never been extinguished; and that he had in consequence, and contrary to the wishes of his friends and relatives, who were Quakers at Philadelphia, resolved to become a painter." By a very curious circumstance, this identical volume is now in our possession, the legacy of the very man, whose history is worth relating, who lent it to Mr West when a boy.

[5] Fuseli objects that the principal figures and chief action in the Raising of Lazarus, by Sebastian del Piombo, are crowded into a corner. He would have had them "pyramid;" so does received quackery overpower the judgment of men of sense, and acute reasoning.



The Theatines' commandments ten
Have less to do with saints than men.
Chorus.—Tra lara, tra lara.

1—Of money make sure. Tra lara, &c.
2—Entrap rich and poor.
3—Always get a good dinner.
4—In all bargains be winner.
5—Cool your red wine with white.
6—Turn day into night.
7—Give the bailiff the slip.
8—Make the world fill your scrip.
9—Make your convert a slave.
10—To your king play the knave.

Chorus.—Those ten commandments make but two
All things for me, and none for you.
Tra lara, tra lara.


Breeders of all foreign wars,
Breeders of all household jars,
Snugly 'scaping all the scars.

Worshipp'd, like the saints they make;
Tyrants, forcing fools to quake;
Grasping all we brew or bake.

All our souls and bodies ruling,
All our passions hotly schooling,
All our wit and wisdom fooling.

Lords of all our goods and chattels,
Firebrands of our bigot battles.
When you see them, spring your rattles.

Shun them, as you'd shun the Pest;
Shun them, teacher, friend, and guest;
Shun them, north, south, east, and west.

France, her true disease has hit;
France has made the vagrants flit;
France has swamp'd the Jesuit.

[8] The Discovery of the Science of Languages. By Morgan Kavanagh. London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans. 1844.

[9] The poets are a little at variance, and do not all celebrate the same wine—(as some of us like Port, and some Madeira)—some, doubtless, dealt with better wine-merchants than others. Poets have the privilege of celebrating plain women, and wine that nobody else can drink. Redi talks of Monte Fiascone and Monte Pulciano—both raisin wines to English or French stomachs. Florence had no fame in those days, and now makes by far the best wine in Italy—give us good Chianti, and none of your Aleatico or Vino Santo. At Rome, there is not a flask of any thing fit to drink; and we recollect when bad Spanish wine was brought up the Tiber to meet the deficiency. Orvieto is far from wholesome; yet, in Juvenal's time, Albano furnished a wine of superlative quality.

"Albani veteris pretiosa senectus;"

the same passage denouncing Falernian by the epithet of acris—a wine, he says, to make faces at. Again, Cuma and Gaurus—the privilege of drinking those wines was for the rich only—are now the common drink of the peasants who cultivate them.

"Te Trifolinus ager fecundis vitibus implet,
Suspectumque jugum Cumis, et Gaurus inanis."

The vinum Setinum, wine fit for patriots to drink "on the birthdays of Brutus and Cassius," was never heard of by a subject of the Pope, nor would be worth above a paul a flask. But the day is far off when Italy will quaff a generous goblet on any such solemnity, or pour out a cup

"Quale coronati Thrasca, Helvidiusque bibebant,
Brut rum et Cassî natablibus."

[10] During the dissensions of the Regency and the corps diplomatique, old Kolocotroni, who was then confined in the fortress above the town of Nauplia, once remarked—"These Franks abuse us for quarrelling, but"—and here he threw out his right hand with the fingers wide apart towards the town of Nauplia below him, exclaiming, νά, with true Greek energy—"they worry one another like dogs—to unshame us." Τρώγουνταἰ σὰν σχυλιὰ δια νὰ μᾶς ἐξεντροπιάσαν.

[11] Published by Ridgway. 1828.

[12] In a description of the engagement, forwarded by the Austrian consul at Patras to the consul-general in the Ionian islands, which was captured by the Greeks, the following is the account given by the Austrians:—"Il commandante della flottiglia Ottomana con terzo del Vapore andò per aria, avendogli questo gettato una granata in Santa Barbara."


Transcriber's Notes:
The original Greek included a variant form of "rho" which could not be duplicated.

Additional spacing after some of the poetry and block quotes is intentional to indicate both the end of a quotation and the beginning of a new paragraph as is in the original text.

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume
58, Number 360, October 1845, by Various


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