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a barren and desolate plain, but the papyrus on which Æschylus inscribed his Prometheus is peopled still with his undying characters. How transient are the mightiest triumphs of forcehow everlasting the poet's thought; every year deadens the shout of the warrior, but the voice of the poet rolls down the corridors of the Future, awakening on its passage, like so many echoes, the sympathies of the unborn millions-nations yet to be; England will always be immortal in the world's esteem as the land of Shakspeare, when her colonies and her commerce have perished.
As we shall have a fitter place to discuss the want of an American Drama, we shall reserve what we have to say on this subject for that opportunity.
It frequently occurs that men run against difficulties which they have no occasion to meet; this is the case with Mr. Willis. In the intoxication of his vanity he believed he could drive his Pegasus to its dramatic Parnassus, but he found obstacles in the way he littled dreamed of.
This reminds us of an accident a lively novelist related one evening, as having happened to himself. Having occasion to dine with a friend, he jumped into a cab, and told the man to drive as fast as he could to Russell square. He had not been long in the conveyance before he felt assured the man was drunk; now he drove against a cart—then he went into an oyster stall. He extricated himself from this dilemma by rushing upon a heavy wagon; unable to overcome this obstacle, he violated the proprieties of driving by disorganizing a funeral procession ; his efforts reached a climax by mistaking the footpath for the road, and, immediately after, a sharp shock, and then a dead
stand-still, convinced the rider inside that the cab was inextricably fixed. Springing out, our friend observed that the man was in the middle of the footpath, and that the wheel was locked in a lamp-post. Indignantly demanding what the fellow meant, he received the following reply :-“ Who the devil would have thought of finding a post in the middle of the road ?" We fear this will be our author's apology for writing plays-he had no idea he should find any obstacles in his way!
We must now consider the prose writings of Mr. Willis, and we are glad to say that although he displays the self-same peculiarities we have condemned in his poetic musings, yet the less condensed style of composition renders them less apparent, from the greater diffusion of the fault. Once for all, we must here make the remark that he has very little self-reliance, and, indeed, not a particle of dignity; there is a total want of independence about him, which at times becomes absurdly deferential. He seems to have made Polonius his study, but, unlike that wise old man, he has not the same excuse. The Danish Minister believed he had a madman to humor, and not a rational being to converse with ; and we have always considered this as one of Shakspeare's most wonderful touches of Nature. “ Very like a whale” was a perfectly accountable expression from Polonius to a prince whom he believed to be crazy, but when Mr. Willis expects that we shall coincide with his dittoes to London dilettanti, he is wofully mistaken. He seems delighted with everything he saw and heard in the British capital ; he never bares the hideous mass of suffering under that velvet pall of aristocracy. Our space warns us that we
must finish what we have to say without further loss of time. We have not judged him without the very best available evidence in his favor, by his own works; we say this on the presumption that he would subpoena these witnesses to speak his character in case of a literary trial.
Having just completed the perusal of Mr. Willis's collected works, our impression is this :—He is a lively, entertaining writer, full of conceits, quips, and cranks, but destitute of that breadth and vigor of mind which give vitality to a writer; he is content, swallow-like, to skim on the surface, and never feels power or inclination to turn up the hidden beauties of nature or thought. He is content with chatting in the Muses' boudoir, at a morning call, and leaves without producing any impression. He is, therefore, only an occasional visitor, and not their intimate and friend. He is sometimes employed to carry a message, but is never treated as their interpreter or ambassador. We close our notice of Mr. Willis with a very characteristic anecdote of Bulwer, as related to us by an eyewitness :
Having been invited, at some three weeks' notice, by the author of Pelham to a grand dejeuner, or Fête Champêtre, at his Villa near Fulham, Mr. — upon the afternoon in question found himself driving towards the scene of action. On his arrival there, about two in the afternoon, he joined a large and fashionable company there assembled. Various groups were scattered about, occupied in different ways; a party here were engaged in archery—a party there were listening to some manuscript verses by some unpublished genius, who had basely
taken advantage of that courteous forbearance so nearly allied to martyrdom to inflict his undeveloped poems. At a little distance, pacing up and down, were a brace of political economists, busily engaged in paying off the national debt, and very properly inattentive to their own tailors' claims. On the bank of the river was the celebrated novelist himself, chatting to a small party of ladies, one of whom was occupied in fishing with so elegant a rod that Sappho herself need not have despised to use it. Of a sudden there was a faint and highly lady-like scream. "A bite, a bite, Sir Edward,” was the fascinating ejaculation of the fair angler. With that presence of mind so eminently characteristic of the beautiful part of creation, she pulled the rod from the water, and there, sure enough, was a monstrous fish, almost as large as a perch. While the poor little thing kicked violently about, the ladies cried with one accord for Sir Edward to secure the struggling prisoner by unbooking it. The baronet looked imploringly first at the ladies, then at the fish, and still more pathetically at his flesh-colored kid gloves, innocent of a stain. Sir Edward's alarm was apparent; he would have shrunk from brushing the down from off a butterfly's wing, lest he should soil the virgin purity of his kids, but a fish
-it was too horrible. The ladies, who seemed to take a fiendish delight in torturing their fastidious host, insisted upon his releasing the poor captive, and appealed loudly to his romantic sympathies. At length one of them more lively and mischievous than the rest, seized the rod and actually waved it close to Sir Edward's face; throwing his hand out to protect himself, bis fingers came in contact with the scaly phenomenon ;—then nerving himself for the deed, he resolutely seized the dangerous animal, and, extricating it from the hook, threw it into its native element. Lamb has in one of his essays observed, how would men like if some superior being were to go out manning, and, letting down a hook through the air towards the earth, baited with a beefsteak, draw a man up to heaven, roaring like a bull, with a hook in his gills.
Our friend was cordially welcomed by the fish releaser, and finding several of his old friends, rambled about the grounds, chatting first with one, and then another, until he felt all the vulgar sensations of hunger. It was now five o'clock, and no symptoms of the dejeuner ; he had unfortunately breakfasted early, and had purposely abstained from lunching, his knowledge of fashionable French being so limited as to translate erroneously the word “ dejeuner," to mean a meal of that kind. At eight o'clock in the evening the lunch bell rang, and a nonchalant rush was made towards the house. The blaze of light ushered them to the room where all was laid out in the perfection of Gunter's best manner; but judge our famished friend's dismay, when a rapid survey, like a Napoleon's glance, discovered only the elegances of eating, the ornaments of the appetite, and not its substantialities. Jellies in the shape of crystal mounds ; cakes battlemented like the baronial dwellings of feudal tyrants. Trifles light as air, swelling over Chinese dwellings, crimson flushed with vermilion sweets ; piles of bon-bons and scented crackers, gorgeously gilded and rainbow colored. At each side were flesh-colored masses of ice creams, flanked by a regiment of infinitesimal mince pies, raspberry tarts, and triangular cheese-cakes. At solemn intervals