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Derwent Conway with his “ Tales ;" and a poetical touch or two from Lockhart, and a blunder or two from Sir Walter; and a rhodomontade from young
D’Israeli; and it was only t’other day, sir, we had little Grattan, hunting over the country with his dog Ranger; and Fenimore Cooper, poking about among the ruins of the Palatinate! In short, sir, we've had 'em all, (my service to you !) and I'm afraid there's not so much as a twig or an old castle left for you; they've made away with 'em all.”
“ The English public has been dosed with Rhenish picturesque, as largely as with counterfeit Hock," said we, trying to be sententious. “But the true Johannisberger still fetches its price, and a work of real merit"
“ Pshou! pshou! pshou !" cried Smith. “Every work is a work of merit to its author. But, just consider a moment how thoroughly the thing's worn out! · The Mouse Tower ! « The Pfalz! For my part, I'd as soon write an ode to Aldgate Pump !"
“ The Rhenish provinces supply a curious variety of matter; and”.
“ Variety! Why, you might just as well go beating the furze for game on Hampstead Heath. Every inch of ground has been hunted over and over, sir, till there's not so much as a cock.robin left! Lord ! if you did but know what tribes of blue ladies and black gentlemen are brought here by every Dampschiffe! I know 'em, sir, before ever they land! I could swear to the Picturesque gentlemen, before ever they set foot on shore; (twigged you, sir, as soon as you stepped out of the Eilwagen yesterday !) There you see 'em, the moment the boat stops, out with their note-books, and questioning the Commissionär, frightened to death for fear the least inkling of useful knowledge should escape 'em. “Pray, my friend, what was the name of that old ruin to the left?' Was that a castle, my good fellow, or a prison, on the rock to the right ?' Down it all goes, by way of novel information !"
“ An intellectual gentleman, like yourself, Mr. Smith, must be an invaluable acquisition to travellers of this description.” “ I believe I do sometimes save a little waste of ink, sir.
They all dine at the table d'hôte. (Waiter ! a fresh bottle of Moselle to this gentleman !) Last week there was an amazing promising young writer, with a Byron shirt-collar, the Shelley stoop, and the Montgomery eye, 'in a fine frenzy rolling.' (I fancy he makes some noise in the periodicals, sir !) Never heard a finer melodrama voice in my life! Smith !' said he, (in a tone to make one's blood curdle if he'd been talking by moonlight,) 'Smith ! know you the Drachenfels ?'- - To be sure I do,' says I, “but lord! you've no chance there. It's all dicky with the Drachenfels. Byron did 'em, and Praed did 'em, and Planché did 'em. They're as common as Greenwich Hill,' "
“ Poor young man!"
“Well, sir, next day a solemn young prig of a literator (one of the march of intellect chaps) arrives from Mayence by the boat, and decoys me up to the Fortress, under pretence of wanting an interpreter. I hadn't got half way up the hill, when he out's with his commonplace book, and gives me what he calls a philosophical sketch of Faustus in his laboratory. The great bell of the Dom-Kirch had revealed to the burghers of Maintz the commencement of a new day : but in a small desolate chamber of the quadrangle of the Benedictines, overlooking the dark waters of the Rhine, a lamp was still burning. It was that of a recluse to whom the whole world of letters' Lord, sir, what was the use of it
all ? As good and better's been said by Victor Hugo and all the romance-mongers of the cent et un! Then, sir, only last Friday, there was a very pretty youth, (nice dapper little fellow, something of your cut, sir-hope no offence,) and says he, ‘Smith, my good fellow,' says he, • I'm thinking of a little tale about Rheinfels ; something intense, something startling, something d-d Gothic, and feudal, and apparitional ! -I mean to go and sleep on the mountain over night, and see the sun rise !'— Lord, sir !' says I, spare your pains ; Rheinfels was very prettily done for the Winter's Wreath, two seasons back.'-—'Well, then,' cried my young friend, slapping me on the shoulder, “I'll try Lahmeck! There's a fine opening at Lahmeck.—The lugubrious masses of the dark rocks of Neider Lahnstein were casting the impressive shadows of their- - Lord love you, sir,' cried I, interrupting him, “ Derwent Conway had all that four years ago.'—' Then, by Jove !' says he, “I'll have a touch at the Lurelei ; and L. E. L. ectrify the world of letters with a ballad.' 'Sorry for you, sir !' as soon as he'd done spouting. - There's scarcely been an annual without a Lurelei for the last five years.'”
“ What will become of the poor fellow?" cried we, attempting a sympathetic countenance.
“ Ah, sir! as I said before, terrible bad spec. the Rhine, for literary gentlemen! You see there's been a great call of late years for small tales, and little picturesqueisms. There's the Souvenir, aud Keepsake, Gem, Forget-me-Not, Bijou, Christmas-Box, Landscape Annual, Continental Annual, Cadeau, Friendship’s Offering, (besides the Musicals and the Juveniles,) keep a wonderful number of hands going. Then, you know, there's the Monthlies! Blackwood has given us two or three magnificent Rhine stories; and the Monthly, and the New Monthly, and Fraser, they have all a bit of " It was during the non-bondage of the feudal era, that one evening a knight, fainting with toil, and accoutred in the iron harness of war ;'or, · Gisela of Eberstein was seated beside the arrow slit of the highest tower of the castle.' It cuts in neat among the heavy politics and light essays !”
“ You seem completely au fait to the mysteries of the profession.”
“ And even the Weeklies do now ' a tale unfold.' The Athenæum's got hold of two or three monstrous showy getters-up of a baronial anecdote. Besides, there's the twopenny halfpenny periodicals; the Story Teller,' and · Thieves,' and—I protest I saw the Gödenfels as neatly dished up in a penny paper (with a wood..cut and all) as you'd wish to see. And I'm told, Roscoe and Leitch Ritchie are at work at a series; and there are not two better hands for a mountain sunset, or a dungeon scene, or a winding staircase, from Paternoster Row to Ave-Maria Lane."
“ I see the game is up !-It is all over with us !"
“ Hope you ha’n't been rash enough to take earnest of your publisher, sir?"
“Not quite so bad as that! But, alas !".
“ Now, look here, my dear sir ; you may perceive that I have a little experience in these matters. Set off to the valley of the Næh; just up yonder by Bîngew. There's an old castle there, with a legend about a dragon and a crusader, that would do your business at once ; 'tis as fresh as a spring morning! I've kept it as snug as if it was my own! Chronicle of the Castle of St. Edelberg! What a jewel for a table of contents! Or the Murg—what say you to the Murg? The Black Forest, you know ! the God bless my soul ! sir, that's your cue ! Legends
of the Schwarzwald !' Call it the Scharzwald, by all means; a name no. body understands makes people ask questions. It got on The Giaour amazingly ; the young ladies were wonderful curious what could be the meaning of The Giaour, a Turkish Tale. I hav'n't heard how the Heidenmaur takes, but”
Fortunately (for I had fooled and been fooled by Mister Smidz to the top of his bent) the Kellner now made his appearance to inform me that a Post-kutsch was about to start for Emms, and that my baggage was al. ready coached. I had but five minutes to settle with Maas, listen to his twice (ten thousand) told description of “ the fine gollection of trinkingclasses what pelong to mein lade broder, if you sday till morning, I do mineself the bleasure to show you,” and speak a brief farewell to my loving countryman. To my great surprise, found Misder Smidz squeeze my hand tenderly at parting; and on settling myself in the corner of the diligence, discovered that he had managed to deposit therein a card, bearing an inscription, which we transcribe for the benefit of future travellers in the picturesque line of business.
4, ALSER GASSE, COBLENTZ, Gives Lessons at Gentleman's own houses, hotels, or otherwise ; or at
his own residence, from 6 to 10 evening.
N.B. No Entrance.
Having spoken of penal laws passed upon “the spur of the occasion," which are always vindictive and mostly sanguinary, we must notice another class of criminal enactments made with more deliberation, but which do not less grossly sin against the right rule of proportionate justice :—such are most of our laws intended for the protection of property, but really operating to the encouragement of depredation. The former were framed in times of public excitement, and spoke the language inspired by the warm blood of eager vengeance; the latter were the result of the cool calculations of avarice, which weighed the life of a human being against a bit of coin, and found it a feather in the scale Anger is not a more deceptive guide to follow in penal legislation than cupidity. The one errs from blind impulse, the other from calculating cruelty ; both mistake the violence of law for its efficacy ; both reject all moderate, all proportionate punishments,-all punishments that correct and reform, in their insatiable craving for victims, and victims only.
The task of legislators who act under the influence of anger or cupi. dity, is an easy one. It requires no patient research, no mental labour. It does not involve any of the cares or anxieties which are necessarily connected with a nice adjustment of the degrees of crime and its penal consequences. It is not impeded by moral considerations, nor controlled by the suggestions of experience. Such legislators want to know nothing more than that the offender has a life which can be destroyed, and that they have the power to destroy it ; never caring whether the possession
of that power confers any right to exercise it, they avoid all the moral and intellectual difficulties of legislation by the one compendious process of human destruction. Confounding small and great crimes in the one sentence of blood, they stride over all distinctions of guilt to strike at the life of the offender, as the only certain way of eradicating the offence. Having given the name of Justice to a malignant power invested with the murderous attributes of revenge, they have no necessity for arming her with other weapons for the repression of crime than those of exter. mination.
Let us illustrate what we mean by the class of sanguinary laws made upon deliberate calculation, by a few instances. The offence of sheepstealing was not punishable capitally by the ancient common law of England, but, like other offences coming under the head of simple larcency, was punishable by a pecuniary ransom, which, it is supposed, went not to the Crown, like a modern fine, but in the way of restitution to the parties injured. In this respect, our Saxon law was conformable to the Mosaic, and also to the civil law, before it was adulterated by those cruel enactments which were among the proofs of the barbarous degeneracy of the Roman empire. It was after the Norman conquest, namely in the reign of Henry I., that a statute was first passed, making offences of simple larceny punishable with death. Notwithstanding that statuto, however, all persons convicted of simple larceny who could read, were allowed the privilegium clericale, or benefit of clergy, at least for the first offence, which exempted them from capital punishment; but those who could not read, and all women convicts, whether they could read or not, were liable to be sent to the scaffold. Thus the rule of right reason was inverted : ignorance was made an aggravation of guilt, and education a palliative of crime! Subsequently, the test of reading was abolished by law, and the benefit of clergy allowed to both sexes, upon praying the benefit of the statute. Now, sheep-stealing being an offence of simple larceny, remained a clergyable felony, that is, a felony not capital, until the fourteenth year of George II. ; when some sapient members of Parliament, thinking sheep not sufficiently protected, as long as the sword of the law was not stained with the blood of him who committed theft of that species of property, had a bill passed through the Legislature to make the offence as penal as murder! The bill easily passed through both Houses ; for, unfortunately, in the British Parliament, the horror of innovation never arose unless when the alteration brought improvement, To adapt the institutions of the country to the advancing spirit of civilization, to purify what was corrupt, abolish what was irrational, and ameliorate what had the tincture of a barbarous origin, was what no man could attempt to do in the British Legislature without an outcry being raised against the “ dangers of innovation.” It was only when new laws were introduced to make what was bad worse, and to create additional obstacles to the amendment of social institutions, that they received a ready assent from the “ collective wisdom” of the nation. Hence it most frequently happened that bills which innovated upon the comparatively mild spirit of our ancient common law, by substituting sanguinary and revengeful punishments for those of a coercive or corrective nature, excited so little of the alarm of innovation, that they generally passed sub siientio, in almost empty Houses. One of the easiest things in the world was for a country gentleman, or a great manufacturer, or a dealer in paper-securities, or a director of some trading, perhaps bubble company, as the case might be, to obtain the favour from the
Minister of the day, of a “ new felony without benefit of clergy.” It is no wonder, then, that our Statute-book became almost one mass of sanguinary enactments, and the cry of judicial murder went up to Heaven, perpetually, from every corner of the land !
What were the arguments used by the original author of the law to make sheep-stealing punishable with death, we know not, nor, indeed, can we say that he found it necessary to use any ; but we presume if he did argue the matter at all, he observed upon the unavoidable exposure of this species of property to depredation, and the necessity of having an efficient protection, by placing every flock under the tutelary shadow of the gallows, and sacrificing a human life for every stolen sheep. But if we have no record of the arguments of that Draconic Legislator, who, to save sheep from being stolen, would slaughter mankind, we are disposed to believe we can quote something very like them from the more recent speech of a "philosophic" legislator, who, about two-and-twenty years ago, favoured the House of Commons with his own reasons for the perpetuation of that exterminating law. The occasion was the discussion of the first of the three bills brought in by the enlightened Romilly to repeal the penalty of death for the offences of privately stealing in a dwelling-house, or in a vessel on a canal or navigable river, to the amount of forty shillings, or stealing goods in a shop to the value of five shillings ! The legislator to whom we allude, is Mr. Davies Gilbert, sometime President of the Royal Society, which boasts to be the associated science of England. This philosopher, who never was betrayed into error by any unreflecting ardour of temperament, commenced his speech by observing that he “ agreed with the honourable and learned gentleman [Sir Samuel Romilly] in many of his propositions, though he could not help thinking that the career of humanity, on which he had entered, was likely to be too extensive. If it had been more limited and confined, he should have been happy in contributing, to the best of his ability, in forwarding, instead of obstructing his object; but he now felt it his duty to resist the alteration proposed by the present bill.” Only think, reader, of the disciplined sensibilities of this philosopher being alarmed into resistance by the unlimited and dangerous benevolence that would make the stealing of forty shillings in one case, and five shillings in another, an offence no longer punishable by the forfeiture of human life! In support of his rational fears on this subject, he gave a scientific reason in the course of his harangue, which we will cite in his own words. “As to the effects of certainty and severity of punishment, a proposition might be stated almost with mathematical precision,—that the prevention of crime, from this source, varies in the compound ratio of the seve. rity of the punishment, and the certainty of that punishment being inflicted; and if this severity and certainty vary, according to some inverse law, with regard to each other, it is indisputable that the increase of severity may so far decrease the certainty as to diminish the aggregate upon which the prevention depends. Attention is always to be paid to this ratio ; but it may be safely adopted as a general principle that the punishment should increase with the difficulty of the detection. With. out trespassing upon the time of the House, by entering into any minute application of this principle in any of the more heinous offences, I will confine myself to the single instance of sheep-stealing.” Now come what, we presume, were precisely the reasons given by the author of the sanguinary law for making the offence capital. “ Considering the manner in which sheep are, and must be fed on extensive downs,