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saw said and done there, we find it indispensable to have in remembrance the caution of that high literator,* whom, of all others, Mr. Willis seemingly hates with most perfect hatred,—viz., that to report conversations fairly, it is a necessary prerequisite that we should be completely familiar with all the interlocutors, and understand thoroughly all their minutest relations, and points of common knowledge and common feeling, with each other; and that he who is not thus qualified, must be in perpetual danger of misinterpreting sportive allusion into serious statement; and may transmute what was some jocular phrase or half-phrase, intelligible only to an old companion, into a solidified opinion which the talker had never framed, or if he had, would never have given words to in any mixed assemblage—"not even among what the world calls friends at his own board.” But again, we fancy that a vast deal of the abuse showered down on the American attaché's head, was sham sentiment, and that he was made something like the scapegoat in this matter. Somebody, however, behoved to be the scapegoat; and while the hapless individual suffered, the general public benefited by the protest thus uttered, whether on the whole sincerely or not, against what was tending to become an intolerable nuisance. Accordingly, when it was last announced that N. P. Willis had again arrived in England, that vigilant wag Punch thought it a duty to say as much :-“We mention this fact for the benefit of those would-be literary gentlemen who are anxious to appear in print, as an invitation to Mr. Willis for dinner will be certain to secure them the advantages of publication without any risk or expense. Literary gentlemen are cautioned, however, against speaking too freely in their conversation after dinner, as mistakes have been known to occur in the best-regulated memories—even in Mr. N. P. Willis's. For testimonials, apply to the editor of the Quarterly, or any one mentioned in Mr. Willis's American works, when he was last in England.” Happily, Mr. Willis is a lively rattle, not easily abashed, or liable to be put out of spirits by the dull jokes of British malcontents. They will not put him out of countenance by allusions to brass, or his nose out of joint by piercing a ring through it. A liberal public has been found to patronise his lucubrations; and so he has gone on writing, and re-writing, and patching together odds and ends, and dressing up faded beauties with new cuffs and collars, and cramming crambe repetita into new spicilegia, and entertaining easy souls with a rapid succession of “ People I have Met,” “Hurrygraphs,” “Summer Excursions in the Mediterranean," “ Life Here and There,” “A Health Trip to the Tropics," and many another excursus, related with what Theseus calls
. The rattling tongue
Of saucy and audacious eloquence. Seneca is a great deal too heavy for Mr. Willis, but Plautus not a. whit too light. He is effervescent with animal spirits, and dashes you off a gay, buoyant aphorism with the bonhommie of Harold Skimpole himself. Trifles light as air float beamingly through his volumes the flimsy texture whereof almost justifies at times the satire of Tom Moore, on book-making tactics:
* “ This reptile of criticism,” Mr. Willis calls him : adding, “ He has turned and stung me. Thank God! I have escaped the slime of his approbation.” That Deo gratias is a masterstroke in its way.
No matter with what their remembrance is stock'd,
So they'll only remember the quantum desir'd;
Price twenty-four shillings, is all that's requir’d.
Like Dibdin may tell of each farcical frolic;
That gingerbread-cakes always give them the colic. But then our Penciller is not prosy, and has the art ever to keep the attention simmering. Never hum-drumming himself, he never lets you snore. Only let him suspect you of a preliminary yawn, or an incipient drowsiness, and he'll soon mend that by a playful poke in the costal regions, or some such coup-de-main of infallible virtue. The style he can command when at his best—which, probably, is when he is least ambitious of effect* -is a capital vehicle for the chatty coxcombries it hurries along.
His prose had a natural grace of its own,
And Willis's shallowness makes half his beauty. It is in fact just the style for his public—the public of magazine-readers, railway students, first-of-the-month folks—who gallop through an article of smooth trim surface as swiftly as Camilla scours the plain, but who are not equal to your cross-country work, and are, after all, most at home when ambling along macadamised road and wooden pavement.
* After declaring that Willis's nature is
“A glass of champagne with the foam on't,
As tender as Fletcher, as witty as Beaumont," Mr. Lowell adds, what would read as well without the questionable compari. son with our dramatic Dioscuri,
“ So his best things are done in the flush of the moment;
THE LADY'S WELL.
I. In a very retired part of Wales, one little frequented and little known, are to be seen the remains of an ancient well, or fountain. Shrubs, withered and stunted now, and dark with age, but once green and beautiful, cluster round the brink, and though it is, and has been for ages, dry, it still bears the name of “ The Lady's Well.” A stately castle once rose near the spot; all remains of it have long passed away, but that it must have been of some repute and beauty in its time, an ancient guidebook of the locality will bear witness to. A copy of this guide-book is rare now. One fell into the hands of the author, and from that book we will quote, with the reader's permission, part of its description of this same Castle of Chillingwater. It must be premised, however, that this account is but the copy of another copy, for the ancient book states that all traces of the Castle of Chilling having long passed away, the compiler had been indebted for his information to some manuscripts of vellum, yellow with age, found in the archives of a neighbouring monastery when it was destroyed in the time of Henry VIII. And so antiquated was the language of this parchment, that much difficulty occurred in translating it into more modern English.
“From the pile of ruins alone visible to us now," quotes the guidebook, “none can form an adequate idea of the strength and might of the Castle of Chillingwater, when it was in the height of its glory. Its many turrets and proud battlements; its lofty terraces and well-apportioned halls; its marble-pillared reception rooms and magnificent chambers; its spacious courts and ramparts of defence. Its domains stood unrivalled in the land. Think, children (so runneth the record on the vellum), of the sunny land of the East, whose beauties seem to us but as some gorgeous painting. Picture to yourselves the delicious Cashmere, the described wonders of which lovely valley sound to us but as a fable : where the sweet air is one ineffable essence of perfume, the flowers spread the earth as of an embroidery of many colours, and the nightingales with their sweet voices never tire ; where the grateful clime, more generous than Italia's balmy one, is of no capricious brightness, and the ever-blue sky sheds joy around. Not inferior to these foreign fables was the valley of Chilling. It will be well if our poor description can give to posterity an adequate notion of its loveliness; of its orangeries, which had no end; of its conservatories, so extensive that they seemed to have no beginning; its grottoes of curious devices ; its intricate mazes, or labyrinths; its splendid aviaries; its groves of pines and acacias ; its clusters of Eastern shrubs and flowers, where the brilliantly-plumaged birds, imported from other climes, thinking themselves in their own sunny country, flew not away; and its far-famed Holy Well, the which was said to possess healing properties to those who would drink of its waters. And who shall tell of the splendours of the surrounding landscape, daily rejoicing the eye of the gladdened spectator ? The mountains, with the varied hues of their luxuriant herbage, on which the flocks grazed; the dark woods and the bright-green plains; the cascades and waterfalls that pleased the eye and soothed the ear; and the picturesque cottages of the serfs and vassals! Who shall describe all this for a later age? who shall enlarge upon the glories of the once-famed stronghold of Chilling? Surely the pen of a solitary and humble monk is inadequate to it.”
Now this holy monk, however inadequate his pen was to his task, must have been a man of vivid imagination, and must have drawn largely upon it, when enumerating the praises of this long-passed-away Welsh domain. When the reader shall have perused the legend, to which we now pass on, a question may arise in his mind whether the recording monk may not have been Geoffry, the Baron of Chillingwater: whiling away the hours of his old age in his long-endured solitude, and garrulous over the glories that once were his.
It was as far back as the twelfth century, at the close of the reign of that Plantagenet whose history is connected, in schoolboys' minds, with Fair Rosamond, a bowl of poison, Queen Eleanor, and the rebellious princes, that a lovely child, scarcely yet twelve years old, reclined on one of the terraces of the Castle of Chillingwater. It was the Lady Ellana de Chilling, the only daughter of that ancient house. She was being reared at home, contrary to the very common custom at that time, of bringing young ladies up in nunneries. Pacing the same terrace, at a distance, were her father and mother, the old baron grey with years, and his still young and handsome wife. Their only son, several years older than the Lady Ellana, was away from home, engaged in some one of the many petty wars that disturbed this period. The baron had opposed his departure, representing that he was yet full young to engage in these fiery conquests, and hinting that some of the nobility had been thus cut off in the flower of their youth. But the lad refused to listen, and had rushed off, boy-like-boy-like !—full of excitement and ardour, his head and his tongue running wild with visions of glory and renown.
I shall come home with my sword all reeking with the blood of our enemies, Ella,” he had boasted to his sister, when on the eve of departure; “ and it shall be hung up in our hall of trophies. I will show them what a De Chilling is made of. Wilt thou not wish me good luck, Ellana ?
“I will wish thee God speed, brother dear,” she answered, in a saddened tone. “But who will be my companions when thou art gone ?"
“ Tush! tush !" returned the hot young warrior; “I am too old to waste my time in companionship with a girl ; even with thee, Ella. I am above it now. A youth who goes forth to fight for his king and country, would blush to think of it. Our cousins must be thy companions now.”
“But Edgar is always away with his hawks and his falcons,” sighed the Lady Ellana.
“Geoffry is not,” retorted the lad.
“Geoffry never stirs from that book-reading of his,” resumed the maiden, with a curl of her lip. “ It would give me the headache only to look at his parchments, Reginald.”
The cousins spoken of by the heir of Chillingwater were the orphan sons of the baron's only brother. They were being educated in the castle, and had no inheritance, save their father's honoured name and his good sword. The younger, Edgar, would, to all appearance, wield it bravely; but the elder, Geoffry, promised to be that most despised character in the barbarous ages, a bookworm. Even the old baron, his uncle, who was by no means of a fierce nature, as natures went then, used to rate him angrily, Aling his written-book out of his hand, and tell him he would be fit for nothing but a puny monk. Geoffry, after these scenes, would arouse himself, and for a whole week, perhaps, accompany his brother to his fierce out-door sports : hunting boars, tracking game, or join in his martial exercises ; returning then to his clerkly-studies with more zest than ever. You cannot change a boy's nature. Education and circumstances may do much, but they will never wholly change it: and, as it is in these days, so it was in those.
The young baron in prospective departed from his father's house, at the head of his squires and his pages, and his retinue of retainers, as it was the custom for young barons in prospective to do. And the Lady Ellana, sitting on the terrace, as we have seen her, was wondering when they should hear news of him. He had been gone two months, and rumours had reached them of a petty engagement having been fought, in which it was probable he had been engaged. The young girl was picturing to herself happy dreams—of her brother Reginald coming back victorious, thundering across the drawbridge, and waving his sword over his head in token of laurels and victory: dreaming that he flew to her with embraces, whispering that he had had enough of glory for the present, and would stay at home and be her companion as before. Unconsciously she drew to the edge of the terrace, and looked down, perhaps with the hope of seeing him. The strong bridge was drawn securely up, and there were no signs in all the landscape of Reginald and his followers. But in a shady nook of the luxuriant gardens was stretched her cousin Geoffry de Chilling, poring over a roll of his learned parchment; and the good monk, his tutor, looked on by his side. There was a wide difference in the personal appearance of the two brothers. Geoffry was slight and fair, with a mild, thoughtful countenance, and a look of delicate health ; whilst Edgar was a tall, active boy, possessing noble features glowing with youth, and eyes dark and brilliant.
The Lady Ellana saw her cousin sitting there, idly studying away his hours: further away, she could catch the form of his brother Edgar, and her eyes and thoughts rested on the latter. He was never still : boys of fourteen being much the same then, that they are now. Now, coaxing his dogs ; now, teazing them, till nothing but barks and howls were heard; now, vaulting, leaping, and flinging stones at every object within reach; and now, darting into the stables. With his disappearance, the little girl returned to her thoughts about her brother, and as her eyes once more ranged over the domain, she caught sight of some horsemen advancing at a quick pace. So engaged had she been, watching Edgar, that they had advanced passably near, unperceived. She bent her head down and strained her eyes, for, in the form of the first, she thought she recognised her brother's squire. In another moment, she had darted up to her parents, and taking a hand of each, was dragging them forward that they might see the horsemen.
They bring news of Reginald! I know they bring news of Re