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drinking coffee out of some leetle fişefied cups, but I'm affeared they didn't set up so straight as young ladies ought tu in company—their heads did seem to set rather unsartin on their shoulders every time I looked at 'em.
I drunk off a cup of coffee jest to oblige Jase, and then I begun to be kinder sociable with a young gal that sot by Jemima, while Jase took Lord Morpeth round to look at his marble head, and the two whopping picters of himself and wife.
Arter he had gone the rounds—as we Editors say of a prime article-Lord Morpeth made his bow and went out, I begun to feel kinder as if I'd like to take a snooze, and so I jest gin one smashing bow at the door for all, and arter getting my hat, I follered Lord Morpeth out. It was tarnal cold, and I begun to chirk up a leetle when I see that Jase's carriage stood there. Lord Morpeth stepped back when he see me close to him, and moved his hand as much as to say-Git in; but I stepped back, and sez I, “ I guess I've been taught better manners than to help myself fust,” -50 with that he got in, and I arter.
We had a good deal of talk in the carriage; and when we both got out, Lord Morpeth shook hands with me as if I'd been his twin brother, and asked me to come and see him to his room, for he wanted to talk with me about picters and the fine arts, and things in general.
I gin his hand an allfired grip, and sez I, “Lord Morpeth, you can depend on this chap, for he'll tell you the truth and no soft sodder. I didn't take much of a notion to you at fust, for I aint a chap to run arter you because you're a lord, but I like you in spite of that, for you're a darned good hearted, smart critter, and lord or no lord, that's enough."
We here close, for the present quarter, our extracts from this most amusing, and frequently instructive, book. We have, in this paper, extracted chiefly from the lighter chapters, but in our next number we shall, perhaps, return to another phase of its contents.
Un Homme Sérieur. Par Charles de Bernard. Paris : 1843.
It may not seem our wish to drift on comfortably with the current of our times, when we select a work published so far back as 1313, and (we are sorry for the circumstance) by a writer whose short and spirited career is at an end; but as our business is with foreign literature, we are happily exempt from the necessity of noticing every worthless and ephemeral work of fiction sent for approval by influential publishers.
The nice-looking volumes in their flowered cloth dress, with their white thick leaves, clear type, and lines far apart, are laid on the table of the unfortunate reviewer, who, after a few desperate attempts at resolution, cuts some sheets about the middle of the second volume and the end of the third. He finds what he expected; a tissue of crude thoughts or common place ideas, unsuccessful incursions into the domains of invention or fancy, a succession of events either of improbable occurence or loosely strung together, the whole evidencing either slipshod negligence or a barren imagination. Still something must be done to disencumber the publisher's shelves of the heavy mass, or gratify tlie misguided author who, by relationship, acquaintance, or political sympathy, is furnished with some hold on the much straitened critic.
So, desperately wettiug luis pen, he resolves to do the deed, and boldly commences at the inscriptions engraved by Hermes on those Antediluvian pillars which, long after the deluge, were discovered in caverns somewhere or other. He then siglis for a journal of a day kept by an Egyptian lady of the reign of Psammeticus the Eightieth, or the prototype of Ennui written by some forgotten Maria Edgeworth, the ornament of the court of Pericles. He recollects in time, however, the unintellectual character and occupation of the Greek ladies of that reign, aud gives it as his own private opinion that no novels of ordinary life were composed either at Athens or Sparta. Then, paying a compliment to Bekker for his clever and research-shewing sketches of Gallus and Charicles, be laments that in coinwon with inost fictions on classic subjects, they resemble the truthful and natural ones of our days, as a lay figure does the human being whose muscles and bones are informed by life, and invested with an outward envelope of youth and beauty. He then descants on the fortunate pre
servation of the comedies of Aristophanes, and Terence, and Plautus, and the dialogues and fictions of Lucian, seeing that we get a better insight into the interior life of the Greeks and Romans by their pieans than from the old serious chronicles which have come down to us. Having advanced so far in his subject, he naturally asks, wherefore the need of such ceaseless showers of vapid trash covering the surface of society in the shape of loose leaves, as snow fakes on a calm winter's day cover the dry hard street and field.
After fixing his hearers by this query, he shortly relieves them by alluding to the restless craving of the soul for excitement, when no real engrossing cares or troubles are present. He then learnedly disserts on the cruel sports of the circus giving temporary relief to the tired and unhappy Roman senators and ladies ; touches lightly on the means resorted to by Julia and Messalina to escape from the dreadful sway of ennui, attributes the cruelties of Nero and Tiberius to the same cause, and creates an agreeable variety in the page by the introduction, in Bourgeois type, of Dr. Watts, the Bee, Mischief, and the Devil.
Now, bidding adieu to the dissolute old Heathens, with a passing glance at The Ethiopian Romance of Heliodorus, and the fictions of Achilles Tatius, and Longus, and a reproof of the extravagance of the first and want of decency of the others, he glides easily into the old feudal castle, and shews the bard with harp in band, driving the “evil influence" fronu the hearts and minds of the noble Chatellan and Chatellaine by the recital of the Lay of the Niebelungen Hoard, the deeds of Charlemagne and his Paladins, the chivalric exploits of Arthur and Tristram, or the still greater (?) ones of Fion Mac Cumhail and Oscar, and the splendors and hospitality of the palace of Almhuin.
. At this point of his task, the critic, forgetting that it is a task, and leiting the existence of author and publisher escape his memory, seizes on the invention of printing, and ignoring the dirty advertisements of quacks, Reynolds's villanous Mysteries, Volney's Ruins, and The Vestiges of Creation, blows it up in triumph to the clouds.
Now encumbering his arms with Mine. de Scuderi's folio romances, he points to the curious circumstance of the living coachinen, vine dressers, and plouglımen of Normandy and Picardy rejoicing with their wives in the unchristian titles of
Pharnabazes, Sophonisba, &c.; names given to their greatgreat-grandsires by the lords and ladies, their masters, from the aforesaid folios, and still religiously handed down with true Celtic tenacity through their descendants.
Taking an easy flight over the curled periwigs of Congreve, Cibber, Addison, and Steele, he next repeats what every one knows about them already, and talks learnedly of the barren field of fiction from the Regency to the Revolution, if the works of Voltaire, Smollett, and Fielding, and the blameless Vicar of our own poor Oliver, are excepted.
Being now confortably landed on the threshold of our own times, he shews, by the help of the introduction to Telemaque, and a translation of a volume in Bohn's Library, what are the essential qualities of a heroic poem, and varying the recipe a little, he applies the rule to a prose epic. He laments that Thackeray does not copy the bonhommie of Goldsmith, and that the plot of Pickwick is not so compact as that of Tom Jones ; and wishes that the authoresses of Beatrice, of The Lady and the Priest, and of Father Eustace, might be shut up together in a lone chateau, be well fed, never see the face of a man, and be obliged to listen to each other's productions.
At last, our critic counts his pages, and finds that out of the sixteen which he had allotted to the Parish Orphan, fifteen and a half are occupied.
So he refers to want of space, ( whose fanlt?) compliments his readers on the accession of a new and powerful, though yet undisciplined pen, to the field of letters; speaks of truth of character-painting, of delicacy of style, natural succession of incidents, (bating a leetle improbability), and recommends to the talented author more care in the elaboration of the design of his (?) next work; excuses the absence of quotations from wart of space, and the impossibility of divorcing any portion of the compact structure of the work from its context; but orders his readers to procure the book at once, and enjoy the intellectual treat. Our literary magistrate now flings down his wearied
pen, begs forgiveness from the bust of Aristotle over his desk, thanks Mercury that his task is ended, and runs off to enjoy a hearty laugh at Little Toddlekens.
Those readers of the article who depend on Providence and their fellow creatures for judgment, and taste, and every
thing else, send at once to the library or the shop for the much-be-praised book, wonder that they cannot find out the beauties attributed, throw it on the heap of neglected works, or return it to the library, on whose shelves it will soon form a permanent incumbrance.
Now, as from the peculiar aim of this series of papers, the amusement or information of our readers is of much more interest to us, than the profit of publisher or glorification of author we are more auxious to discover a work of merit among our French collection (new or old, it little matters), than to seize on the latest importation. We have taken down one of De Bernard's, of which we entertain pleasurable recollections since a perusal of many years date.
It will not be necessary to analyse the peculiar qualities of our Author's powers here, as this introduction bas already extended farther than we proposed, aud as something has been already done in our Sixth Number, (page 369,) on occasion of noticing his Gentilhomme Campagnard. His caustic and vigorous powers were there pointed out, with the substratuin of a kind nature, under a harsh and cynieal exterior.
As a pendant, we may remark, that he detested socialism and red republicanism, and was no believer in the sincerity of the poor old “Citizen King."
Incapacity or self seeking among those who aimed at political power or influence, particularly stirred his bile; and the chief object of the present work was to point out the bad consequences of a man of mediocre ability striving to attain office which he is unable to manage for his own comfort or the good of the people. In devoting all his attention to the means of raisiug himself to the coveted point, his family affairs are left to mind themselves, and the natural consequences soon force themselves on his notice in a very disagreeable shape.
Our Serious Man, an advocate at Douay, was in easy circumstances, but of no great mark as an able lawyer. He was sufficiently fluent, employed more in criminal than civil trials, and generally lost only three cases out of four. He practised more with the object of seeing himself in print four times in the year, viz. at the periods of the assizes, than from any wish to add to his funds. In the intervals he was much more intent on politics than jurisprudence. In a general election for members of the “Chainber" previous to 1830, he stoutly oppog. ed the legitiinist member, using all his influence for the opposi.