網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

As to the revolutionary rulers of France themselves, we are sorry to say her indignant denunciation of them is exactly what, if she had now been among us, she could not have hesitated to utter concerning some of our own Reformers.

Judgment, memory, comparison, combination, and deduction, afford human sagacity but slender assistance in its endeavours to develope their future plans. We have not even the data of consistent wickedness on which to build rational conclusions. Their measures, though visibly connected by uniform depravity, are yet so surprisingly diversified by interfering absurdities, such is their incredible eccentricity, that it is hardly extravagant to affirm that improbability is become rather an additional reason for expecting any given event to take place.'-Remarks on the Speech of M. Dupont.

But we must now prepare to shut these volumes. The sisterhood drop away from before us one by one, and the sterling sense and worth of every one of them are successively exhibited in the most touching manner in the details of a Christian death-bed. We have been dealing largely in quotation, but we are sure every reader will thank us for transcribing a page out of the correspondence of the late venerable Bishop of Limerick, just published, in which his lordship gives an account of a visit which he paid at Barley Wood in September, 1817, shortly after the death of Sarah More.

6

Feeling, as they do very deeply, the sad breach made in their circle, they are wisely, cheerfully, and piously submissive to this appointment of Providence; and neither their talents nor vivacity are in the least subdued. Patty is suffering, with exemplary patience, the most excruciating pain; not a murmur escapes, though, at night especially, groans and cries are inevitably extorted; and, the moment after the paroxysm, she is ready to resume, with full interest and animation, whatever may have been the subject of conversation. Hannah is still herself: she took Charles Foster and me a drive to Brockley Combe; in the course of which, her anecdotes, her wit, her powers of criticism, and her admirable talent of recitation, had ample scope. On the whole, though not unmingled with melancholy, the impression of this visit to Barley Wood is predominantly agreeable,-I might, indeed, use a stronger word: differences of opinion there do, it cannot be denied, exist; but they are differences, on their part, largely the growth of circumstances; differences, too, which will vanish before the earliest beams of eternity: I parted with them, as noble creatures, whom, in this world, I never might again behold; and while I felt some pangs, which I would not willingly have relinquished, it was with deep comfort that I looked forward in hope to an hereafter, when we might meet without any of those drawbacks, in some shape or other, inseparable, perhaps, from the intercourse of mortals.'-Bishop Jebb's Letters, vol. ii. pp. 333,4.

2 & 2

Our

Our readers can hardly need to be reminded of the painful interest with which all orders of people heard, about 1828, rumours that pecuniary distresses were likely to trouble the closing period of Mrs. More's life. Her establishment at Barley Wood had got into sad confusion after the death of her sister Martha, who had through life been the manager of their domestic details,-dishonest and dissolute servants had wasted her substance,—and for a season it was doubtful whether enough remained to secure her the comforts to which she had been accustomed. In the end, however, it turned out that, though she must consent once more to change her place of residence, there would be no necessity for altering, in any essential respect, the style of her household economy. She removed to Clifton; and there, as has been already mentioned, she at last quietly and placidly ceased to breathe' in the September of last year. The account of her latter days, contributed to Mr. Roberts's book by her friend and physician, Dr. Carrick, is so interesting, that we would willingly extract it entire; but we can only give these fragments :

From the time Mrs. More removed to Clifton, her health was never otherwise than in a very uncertain and precarious state, and she seldom continued beyond a few days exempt from some attack of greater or less severity. ..

To the friends and admirers of Mrs. Hannah More, it was painful during her latter years to see those great and brilliant talents, which had justly raised her to the highest pinnacle of celebrity, descending to the level of more ordinary persons. Yet there was this consoling circumstance in the case of this admirable woman; that while the grand and vigorous qualities of her mind submitted to decay, the good, the kind, the beneficent, suffered no diminution nor abatement, to the last moment of consciousness. Age, which of necessity shrinks and impairs the bodily powers, generally blunts sensibility, and narrows the social virtues. The soul which in youth, and in the prime of life, teemed with every liberal and benevolent quality, is not unfrequently observed to grow cold and insensible, parsimonious, and even avaricious, when sinking into the grave. With this remarkable woman it was signally the reverse. Her beneficent qualities not only suffered no abatement, but expanded with her years.

[ocr errors]

So long as her intellectual faculties remained but moderately impaired, her wonted cheerfulness and playfulness of disposition did not forsake her; and at no period of her declining life did an impatient or querulous expression escape her lips, even in moments of painful suffering.

It seems worthy of remark, that as it pleased the Almighty to protect this distinguished woman to a very advanced period of life, from the infirmities of temper, which often tend to render age both unamiable and unhappy, so it likewise accorded with his goodness to spare her from many of those bodily infirmities, which usually accom

pany

pany length of years. To the very last her eye was not dim: she could read with ease, and without spectacles, the smallest print. Her hearing was almost unimpaired; and until very near the close of life, her features were not shrunk, nor wrinkled, nor uncomely, and her person retained to a considerable degree its wonted appearance, as at a much earlier period. Even to the last, her death-bed was attended with few of the pains and infirmities which are almost inseparable from sinking nature.'-vol. iv. p. 299–304.

Our respect, nay, veneration for the memory of Mrs. More, who perhaps did as much real good in her generation as any woman that ever held the pen, has, whatever Mr. Roberts may think, made us lenient critics of his part in this work. We now leave him with respect for his motives and intentions; with regret for that narrowness of mind and feeling, which it is, we presume, too late to expand; and with a simple expression of our hope that, at some future period, the valuable letters embodied in these volumes may be printed by themselves. We are not aware that Mr. Roberts's connecting narrative has given us any one fact which is not stated in the text of the correspondence, either following or preceding the page where he has chosen to make it the subject of his circumlocutory prose.

ART. VII.-Mémoires ou Correspondance Secrète du Père L'Enfant, Confesseur du Roi pendant les trois années de la Révolution, 1790, 1791, 1792. 2 vols. Paris. 1834.

WE

E notice these volumes only to warn our readers against an imposition-not indeed so gross and shameless as the Memoirs of Louis XVIII. and Madame de Créqui, but yet very dishonest. The title-page announces this work as the Memoirs or Secret Correspondence of the Confessor of the King during three eventful years. The editor's preface adds, that the Père L'Enfant lived at court, and concludes (as he might do if his premises were but true) that these are indeed precious memoirs.' Now, the truth is, that the Abbé L'Enfant was not-nor, if he really was the penman of these Memoirs, (which are not memoirs,) does he himself even pretend to have been-the king's confessor; that during the three years specified he never was at court at all, and never so much as saw either the king or the queen; that the pretended Memoirs are only a series of letters which, even if genuine, have no claim to the character of a secret correspondence,' for they are chiefly and professedly mere repetitions of the journals of the day; and, finally, that, so far from being precious,' they are so nearly worthless, that we shall not even do them the small

honour

honour of binding them, and should think we made a good bargain if we could obtain a couple of shillings for what has cost us ten. Our readers will judge of the interest of such a publication by the confession of the editor, that

We have printed the correspondence entire, except some mysterious and allegorical passages, which we do not understand, or at least not clearly enough to be able to afford a key to them. There was certainly a political object hidden under these enigmatical passages, which however we have thought it advisable to omit, because we have not the means of explaining their secret meaning.'-Notice, xi.

This is excellent-the man publishes the whole correspondence, except the passages which might be really interesting; and these curious passages are hidden from the public eye, because the individual blockhead has not the means of explaining them-as if that would not have been the best reason for publishing them, in the possibility that others better informed than he might be able to elucidate these important secrets: and, to crown the absurdity, it happens that, by a whimsical inconsistency, this editor, who thinks it right to suppress what he cannot fully elucidate, has not given us one note-no, not a single syllable of explanation or observation upon any part of the correspondence!

The utter insipidity and insignificance of these Memoirs, as to any purpose either of information or amusement, relieves us from the necessity of adducing our reasons for disbelieving that they were written by the Père L'Enfant at all. We shall only say that we incline to suspect that they have been lately fabricated by rummaging the files of old newspapers; or, if they were really written at the time, they must have been the nouvelles à la main of some asinine quidnunc in town, to some equally ignorant correspondent in the country, which the editor finds it convenient to attribute to a priest who fell in the massacre of the Abbaye, and whose name might therefore be usurped with impunity. As an article in the Biographie Universelle furnished the editor of Madame de Créqui's Memoirs with his fictitious heroine, so we believe the editor-i. e. fabricator-of the present volumes has borrowed his hero from the same work. But however that may be, nothing can be more stupid than the result. In the 777 pages of which the two first volumes consist, (we are to have more, it seems, if the public consents to be duped,) we have been able to discover but one passage which contains anything like novelty. On the occasion of some difficulties in which the National Assembly is represented as having found itself in July 1791, after the return of the king, an old woman is quoted as having said, Voici le commencement de la fin.' (vol. ii. p. 256.) Now, we had always

heard

heard this mot attributed to M. de Talleyrand on the occasion of Buonaparte's invasion of Spain; and we confess that we are rather inclined to believe it of the well-known old gentleman than of the anonymous old woman. M. de Talleyrand, we know, affected-for reasons obvious enough-to think that the Memoirs of Louis XVIII.' were genuine. We suppose that this little incident will prevent his vouching for the authenticity and originality of the Mémoires du Père L'Enfant.'

ART. VIII.-Memoirs of John Napier of Merchiston, his Lineage, Life, and Times. By Mark Napier, Esq. Edinburgh, 4to. 1834. pp. 535.

THIS

HIS is an elaborate work, the fruit of long-continued and varied research. That it should be the first attempt to narrate in detail the personal history of the inventor of the logarithms, reflects little honour on Scotland.

The author of such a book can afford to be told, without circumlocution, of petty mistakes and errors. He has overlaid his memoir with circumstances possessing but the thinnest and most fanciful connexion with its proper subject; he has frequently deformed a naturally plain and manly style with vicious panni of trope and metaphor, which have about as ridiculous an effect as a garland of roses and lilies stuck on a lawyer's wig; and he indulges in sneers and innuendos, at the expense of certain contemporary writers, in a tone wholly unsuitable to a work of grave and dignified pretensions.

If his estimate of his ancestor's merits be somewhat exaggerated, with that we are little disposed to quarrel; and at all events there is no remedy for it,-the feeling in question inspired the writer to his task, and it is inextricably interwoven with the whole texture of his performance.

We think he might have spared us the old woman's story about the first Napier being a second son of some antique Earl of Lenox, who in some action, place and date unspecified, did such signal service, that after the battle, every one setting forth his own acts, the then king [name unknown] said unto them, ye have all done valiantly, but there is one amongst you who hath NA-PEER, and calling Donald into his presence commanded him to change his name from Lenox to Napeer,' &c. &c. The only shadow of evidence in support of this legend is in the fact that the Napiers of Merchiston bore, as far back as their line has been traced, the ancient arms of Lenox, with such a slight variation as

« 上一頁繼續 »