« AnteriorContinuar »
feel certain of any truth, but from a clear perception of its beauty, and I find myself very young-minded, even in that perceptive power, which I hope will increase. A year ago I could not understand, in the slightest degree, Raphael's Cartoons; now I begin to read them a little. And how did I learn to do so? By seeing something done in quite an opposite spirit; I mean a picture of Guido's, in which all the Saints, instead of that heroic simplicity and unaffected grandeur, which they inherit from Raphael, had, each of them, both in countenance and gesture, all the canting, solemn, melo-dramatic mawkishness of Mackenzie's Father Nicholas. When I was last at Haydon's, I looked over a book of prints, taken from the fresco of the church at Milan, the name of which I forget. In it were comprised specimens of the first and second age in Art in Italy. I do not think I ever had a greater treat, out of Shakspeare; full of romance and the most tender feeling; magnificence of drapery beyond every thing I ever saw, not excepting Raphael's, but grotesque to a curious pitch; yet still making up a fine whole, even finer to me than more accomplished works, as there was left so much room for imagination. I have not heard one of this last course of Hazlitt's Lectures. They were upon Wit and Humor, the English Comic Writers, &c.
I do not think I have any thing to say in the business-way. You will let me know what you would wish done with your property in England-what things you would wish sent out. But I am quite in the dark even as to your arrival in America. Your first letter will be the key by which I shall open your hearts and see what spaces want filling with any particular information. Whether the affairs of Europe are more or less interesting to you; whether you would like to hear of the Theatres, the Bear Garden, the Boxers, the Painters, the Lecturers, the Dress, the progress of Dandyism, the progress of Courtship, or the fate of Mary M being a full, true, and très particular account of Miss Mary's ten suitors; how the first tried the effect of swearing, the second of stammering, the third of whispering, the fourth of sonnets, the fifth of Spanish-leather boots, the sixth of flattering her body, the seventh of flattering her mind, the eighth of flattering himself, the ninth of sticking to the mother, the tenth of kissing the chamber
maid and bidding her tell her mistress-but he was soon discharged.
And now, for the time, I bid you good-bye.
Your most affectionate Brother,
February 14, [1829.]
MY DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER,
How is it that we have not heard from you at the Settlement? Surely the letters have miscarried. I am still at Wentworth Place; indeed, I have kept in doors lately, resolved, if possible, to rid myself of my sore throat; consequently I have not been to see your mother since my return from Chichester. Nothing worth speaking of happened at either place. I took down some of the thin paper, and wrote on it a little poem called "St. Agnes' Eve," which you will have as it is, when I have finished the blank part of the rest for you. I went out twice, at Chichester, to old dowager card-parties. I see very little now, and very few persons,-being almost tired of men and things. Brown and Dilke are very kind and considerate towards me. Another satire is expected from Lord Byron, called "Don Giovanni." Yesterday I went to town for the first time these three weeks. I met people from all parts and of all sects. Mr. Woodhouse was looking up at a book-window in Newgate-street, and, being short sighted, twisted his muscles into so queer a style, that I stood by, in doubt whether it was him or his brother, if he has one; and, turning round, saw Mr. Hazlitt, with his son. Woodhcuse proved to be Woodhouse, and not his brother, on his features subsiding. I have had a little business with Mr. Abbey; from time to time he has behaved to me with a little brusquerie; this hurt me a little, especially when I knew him to be the only man in England who dared to say a thing to me I did not approve of, without its being resented, or, at least, noticed;—so I wrote him about it, and have made an alteration in my favor. I expect from this to see more of Fanny, who has been quite shut up from me. I see Cobbett has been attacking the Settlement; but I cannot tell what to believe, and shall be all at elbows till I hear from you. Mrs. S. met me the other day. I heard she said a thing I am not
at all contented with. Says she, "O, he is quite the little poet.” Now this is abominable; you might as well say Bonaparte is "quite the little soldier." You see what it is to be under six feet, and not a Lord.
In my next packet I shall send you my "Pot of Basil," "St. Agnes' Eve," and, if I should have finished it, a little thing, called the "Eve of St. Mark." You see what fine Mother Radcliffe names I have. It is not my fault; I did not search for them. I have not gone on with "Hyperion," for, to tell the truth, I have not been in great cue for writing lately. I must wait for the spring to rouse me a little.
Friday, 18th February.—The day before yesterday I went to Romney-street; your mother was not at home. We lead very quiet lives here; Dilke is, at present, at Greek history and antiquities; and talks of nothing but the Elections of Westminster and the Retreat of the Ten Thousand. I never drink above three glasses of wine, and never any spirits and water; though, by the by, the other day Woodhouse took me to his coffee-house, and ordered a bottle of claret. How I like claret! when I can get claret, I must drink it. 'Tis the only palate affair that I am at all sensual in. Would it not be a good spec. to send you some vineroots? Could it be done? I'll inquire. If you could make some wine like claret, to drink on summer evenings in an arbor! It fills one's mouth with a gushing freshness, then goes down cool and feverless then, you do not feel it quarreling with one's liver. No; 'tis rather a peace-maker, and lies as quiet as it did in the grape. Then it is as fragrant as the Queen Bee, and the more ethereal part mounts into the brain, not assaulting the cerebral apartments, like a bully looking for his trull, and hurrying from door to door, bouncing against the wainscot, but rather walks like Aladdin about his enchanted palace, so gently that you do not feel his step. Other wines of a heavy and spirituous nature transform a man into a Silenus, this makes him a Hermes, and gives a woman the soul and immortality of an Ariadne, for whom Bacchus always kept a good cellar of claret, and even of that he never could persuade her to take above two cups. I said this same claret is the only palate-passion I have; I forgot game;
I must plead guilty to the breast of a patridge, the back of a hare, the back-bone of a grouse, the wing and side of a pheasant, and a woodcock passim. Talking of game (I wish I could make it), the lady whom I met at Hastings, and of whom I wrote you, I think, has lately sent me many presents of game, and enabled me to make as many. She made me take home a pheasant the other day, which I gave to Mrs. Dilke. The next I intend for your mother. I have not said in any letter a word about my own affairs. In a word, I am in no despair about them. My poem has not at all succeeded. In the course of a year or so I think I shall try the public again. In a selfish point of view I should suffer my pride and my contempt of public opinion to hold me silent; but for yours and Fanny's sake, I will pluck up spirit and try it again. I have no doubt of success in a course of years, if I persevere; but I must be patient: for the reviewers have enervated men's minds, and made them indolent; few think for themselves. These reviews are getting more and more powerful, especially the "Quarterly." They are like a superstition, which, the more it prostrates the crowd, and the longer it continues, the more it becomes powerful, just in proportion to their increasing weakness. I was in hopes that, as people saw, as they must do now, all the trickery and iniquity of these plagues, they would scout them; but no; they are like the spectators at the Westminster cock-pit, they like the battle, and do not care who wins or who loses.
On Monday we had to dinner Severn and Cawthorn, the bookseller and print-virtuoso; in the evening Severn went home to paint, and we other three went to the play, to see Sheil's new tragedy ycleped "Evadne." In the morning Severn and I took a turn round the Museum; there is a sphinx there of a giant size, and most voluptuous Egyptian expression; I had not seen it before. The play was bad, even in comparison with 1818, the 66 Augustan age of the drama.” The whole was made up of a virtuous young woman, an indignant brother, a suspecting lover, a libertine prince, a gratuitous villain, a street in Naples, a cypress grove, lilies and roses, virtue and vice, a bloody sword, a spangled jacket, one "Lady Olivia,". one Miss O'Neil, alias The play is a fine amusement,
Evadne," alias "Bellamira."
as a friend of mine once said to me: "Do what you will," says he, a poor gentleman who wants a guinea cannot spend his two shillings better than at the playhouse." The pantomime was excellent; I had seen it before, and enjoyed it again.
Your mother and I had some talk about Miss Says I, "Will Henry have that Miss a lath with a boddice, she who has been fine-drawn,-fit for nothing but to cut up into cribbage-pins; one who is all muslin; all feathers and bone? Once, in traveling, she was made use of as a linch-pin. I hope he will not have her, though it is no uncommon thing to be smitten with a staff;-though she might be useful as his walking-stick, his fishing-rod, his tooth-pick, his hat-stick (she runs so much in his head). Let him turn farmer, she would cut into hurdles ; let him write poetry, she would be his turn-style. Her gown like a flag on a pole: she would do for him if he turn freemason; I hope she will prove a flag of truce. When she sits languishing, with her one foot on a stool, and one elbow one the table, and her head inclined, she looks like the sign of the Crooked Billet, or the frontispiece to 'Cinderella,' or a tea-paper woodcut of Mother Shipton at her studies."
The nothing of the day is a machine called the "Velocipede." It is a wheel-carriage to ride cock-horse upon, sitting astride and pushing it along with the toes, a rudder-wheel in hand. They will go seven miles an hour. A handsome gelding will come to eight guineas; however, they will soon be cheaper, unless the army takes to them.
I look back upon the last month, and find nothing to write about; indeed, I do not recollect one thing particular in it. It's all alike; we keep on breathing; the only amusement is a little scandal, of however fine a shape, a laugh at a pun,—and then, after all, we wonder how we could enjoy the scandal, or laugh at the pun.
I have been, at different times, turning it in my head, whether I should go to Edinburgh, and study for a physician. I am afraid I should not take kindly to it; I am sure I could not take fees and yet I should like to do so; it is not worse than writing poems, and hanging them up to be fly-blown on the Review shambles. Every body is in his own mess: here is the Parson