« 上一頁繼續 »
trated into unexplored parts of the country. This had given him confidence in himself; and he said that one who had travelled through Mekran had nothing to fear in the countries which he was then about to explore. He had taken with him, too, contrary to the system which Malcolm took so much pains to enforce upon his assistants, a large amount of baggage, including "a showy tent," and a numerous retinue of people. Against this also Mr. Rich remonstrated in vain. Grant and his party started; and so little pains did he take to secure the safety of himself and his followers, that he left the Resident in a state of uncertainty respecting the route which he intended to take. The consequences of this imprudence might be foreseen. On reaching the defile, he was met by the robberchief and a party of horsemen. They professed friendly intentions, and persuaded Grant and his friends to alight and refresh themselves. Then they fell upon the travellers. Grant was shot dead as he attempted to regain his horse. The rest were seized and carried about prisoners for four days, at the end of which Kelb Ali, the robber-chief, separated the Christians from the Mussulmans, and suffered the latter to depart. Then the Christians were brought forth to the sacrifice. Mr. Fotheringham and three Armenian servants were placed in a row, and asked whether they would become Mussulmans or die. They preferred death to apostacy; and one after another they were shot dead upon the spot.
This melancholy event elicited a noble expression of feeling from Malcolm. The King of Persia, he wrote, was resolved upon punishing the murderers, but he added, "I am indifferent to their efforts. They cannot restore my friends."
To these serious grievances many of a minor character were superadded. The missions of the "Crown" and of the "Company" came, as might naturally be expected, to loggerheads. Sir Harford Jones had done much to increase the fever of cupidity which Malcolm himself had excited ten years before by the prodigality of his gifts. No wonder, therefore, that Malcolm found the courtiers of Persia hungering and howling after British gold. "These people," he wrote, "are like ferocious animals who have once tasted blood. Nothing else will satisfy them. They cry out for money as shamelessly as if it was their natural food." The appointment of Sir Gore Ouseley as ambassador to the court of Teheran, relieved Malcolm from his unpleasant position. The Shah wished to detain him and his followers in his service, but he only consented to leave Captain Christie and Lieutenant Lindsay.
When Malcolm left Tabriz, he hoped that he had turned his back for ever on "falsehood, deceit, and intrigue;" but he had yet one more exhibition of these qualities, combined with the rampant national cupidity, to ruffle him before he shook the dust of Persia from his feet. He had not been unburdened of all his presents, and therefore was not beyond the reach of vexation and annoyance. He had seen much of the sordid littleness of Persian courts, but he had still to find, if possible, a lower degree of degradation in the court of Kermanshah.
Malcolm embarked for England with his wife and family shortly after his return from the Persian embassy. This was at an eventful periodthat of the Hundred Days. Malcolm went over to see the field of Waterloo, and he followed the allies to Paris. He has left some very agreeable impressions of the stirring scenes which he there witnessed. He went at once to see his old friend in the Nizam's army.
We found the Duke with a large party seated at dinner. He called out, in his usual manner, the moment I entered, "Ah! Malcolm, I am delighted to see
you." I went and shook hands, introduced Lord John Campbell, and then sat down. I mention this trifle because it showed me at once that his astonishing elevation had not produced the slightest change. The tone-the mannereverything was the same.
After dinner, he left a party he was with when I entered, and, shaking me by the hand, retired to one end of the room, where he shortly stated what had occurred within the eventful month. "People ask me for an account of the action," he said. "I tell them it was hard pounding on both sides, and we pounded the hardest. There was no manoeuvring," he said; "Bonaparte kept his attacks, and I was glad to let it be decided by the troops. There are no men in Europe that can fight like my Spanish infantry; none have been so tried. Besides," he added, with enthusiasm, " my army and I know one another exactly. We have a mutual confidence, and are never disappointed."-" You had, however," I observed, "more than one-half of your troops of other nations.""That did not signify," he said, "for I had discovered the secret of mixing them up together. Had I employed them in separate corps I should have lost the battle. The Hanoverians," he added, "are good troops, but the new Dutch levies are bad. They, however, served to fill gaps, and I knew where to place them.'
Malcolm returned to India to take a leading part in the war against Holkar; but he was disappointed in not receiving the government of Bombay as a reward for his long and able military, diplomatic, and administrative services. It was only after once more returning to his native country that this act of justice was done to his merits. The Bombay government lasted only some three years. Malcolm returned to England to take a final part in the discussions upon the Reform Bill and the India Charter, when the strong man was struck low by palsy, and expired at the age of sixty-four.
Malcolm seems always to have been lucky in the friends by whom he was surrounded. His last journey out to India was enlivened by the congenial company of the then young Bombay cadet, Henry Creswicke Rawlinson-now the most distinguished Orientalist of the age. He could not even get into a stage-coach without meeting with a character, and his account of a journey performed under such circumstances with William Cobbett is highly amusing and characteristic.
But apart from this, Sir John Malcolm was in every respect one of the remarkable men of an age that numbered many such. These biographies of Mr. Kaye's cannot but serve a great and good purpose. Their author seems, as he goes on from one to another, to become more and more familiarised with his subjects, and to treat them in a more masterly and comprehensive manner. The days when young boys of twelve were sent, almost without any previous preparation, to fight the battles of life, as well as those of their country, in a distant foreign land, are happily gone by, but still the example afforded of what can be done by a combination of such rare qualities as are met with in a Malcolm and a Metcalfe, cannot fail to be of advantage to future aspirants. Malcolm himself reminds us, more than any person of modern times, of the hero of olden chivalry, without any of the follies or the vices of such a character.
AN OMNIUMGATHERUM LITERARIUM, CHIEFLY ILLUSTRATIVE OF
BARROW ON 'WIT.'
ADDENDA DE RIDENDO.
-Now, by two-headed Janus,
That they'll not show their teeth in way of smile,
The Merchant of Venice, Act I. Sc. I.
A PAGE or two more on the general subject of Laughter,-and then upon the affinities and distinctions of Wit and Humour-before entering upon our more immediate and avowed theme, the exemplification of Barrow on Wit.'
The Philosophy of Laughter has been illustrated (obfuscated sometimes), by very numerous and conflicting speculators, expositors, and theorists, from the days of Aristotle-whose definition of To yeλolor the moderns find it hard to mend-down to that German sovereign who, a quarter of a century ago, offered a prize for the best exegesis, in sober seriousness, of this laughable subject-the importance of which made it, in his eyes, no laughing matter.
Henri Beyle (De Stendhal), writing in 1823, remarks: "A German prince, well known for his attachment to literature, has just proposed a prize for the best philosophical dissertation upon Laughter. I hope the prize will be carried off by a Frenchman. Would it not be ridiculous for us to be beaten in this department? To my thinking, there are more jokes made at Paris in the course of a single evening, than in Germany during an entire month."* And hereupon M. Beyle proceeds to pose the question, Qu'est-ce le RIRE? and supposes (that is, sub-poses) as an answer, Hobbes's celebrated theory (or rather hypo-thesis, i.e. sub-position), that laughter is simply a convulsive movement of the nerves, produced by the unexpected sight of our superiority over some one else, at whose expense, and by whose involuntary agency, the laugh is brought about. Exemplifying which theory, the French critic draws a picture of an elaborately dressed gentleman, blooming in age and costume, complacently tripping his way to the ball, whereat he meditates conquests of the electric veni vidi vici type-but who, alas for the mishaps of this chequered life, stumbles at the very threshold of his glory, and by that stumble, and its muddy result, ministers mirth to every Parisian "Jeames" who assists, officially, at the spectacle. "Le voilà dejà sous la porte cochère, encombrée de lampions et de laquais: il volait au plaisir, il tombe et se relève couvert de boue de la tête aux pieds; ses gilets, jadis
* Œuvres de Stendhal : "Racine et Shakspeare," ch. ii.
blancs et d'une coupe si savante, sa cravate nouée si élegamment, tout cela est rempli d'une boue noire et fétide. Un éclat de rire universel sort des voitures qui suivaient la sienne; le suisse sur sa porte se tient les côtés, la foule des laquais rit aux larmes et fait cercle autour du malheureux."* M. Beyle accounts it necessary that le comique, to be such, should be clearly displayed, and that a sense of our superiority, as laughers, pro tem., over the object of our mirth, should be distinctly felt.
But long years before M. Beyle had cast his full-dress Frenchman into the mire, to excite inextinguishable laughter among lacqueys, and to illustrate the philosophy of le rire, our own, that is to say, merry England's own Sydney Smith had fixed on an analogous illustration, in his Lecture on Wit and Humour,† at the Royal Institution. We refer to the climax in his examples of incongruity as the occasion of laughter. To see a young officer of eighteen years of age come into company in full uniform, and with such a wig as is worn by grave and respectable clergymen advanced in years, would make everybody laugh (says the laughing and laugh-compelling lecturer), because it certainly is a very unusual combination of objects, and such as would not atone for its novelty by any particular purpose of utility to which it was subservient. This is the lecturer's first and, so far as it goes, complete case of incongruity. Add, he says, ten years to the age of this incongruous officer, and the incongruity would be very faintly diminished; but make him eighty years of age, and a celebrated military character of the last reign, and the incongruity almost entirely vanishes-insomuch that we might even be disposed rather to respect the peculiarity than to laugh at it. Thus comes the muddy mishap to which we alluded: "If a tradesman of a corpulent and respectable appearance, with habiliments somewhat ostentatious, were to slide down gently into the mud, and dedecorate a pea-green coat, I am afraid we should all have the barbarity to laugh. If his hat and wig, like treacherous servants, were to desert their falling master, it certainly would not diminish our propensity to laugh; but if he were to fall into a violent passion, and abuse everybody about him, nobody could possibly resist the incongruity of a pea-green tradesman, very respectable, sitting in the mud, and threatening all the passers-by with the effects of his wrath. Here, every incident heightens the humour of the scene:-the gaiety of his tunic, the general respectability of his appearance, the rills of muddy water which trickle down his cheeks, and the harmless violence of his rage."
That pea-green tradesman, and the "dedecoration" of his coat, are worthy of Sydney Smith. In making out his argument, as to the dependence of laughter on a sense of the incongruous, the lecturer added, by way of supplement, or contrast, or relief by contrast, to the pea-green tradesman, that if, instead of this, we were to observe a dustman falling into the mud, it would hardly attract any attention, because the opposition of ideas is so trifling, and the incongruity so slight. The argument is in opposition to Hobbes's definition of laughter, as "a sudden glory,
Euvres de Stendhal: "Racine et Shakspeare," ch. ii.
† Being the eleventh of the Course, since published as "Elementary Sketches of Moral Philosophy, delivered at the Royal Institution, in the years 1804, 1805,
arising from a sudden conception of some eminency in ourselves, by comparison with infirmity of others, or our own former infirmity" which Mr. Smith rejects as not an explanation of the laughter excited by humour, and for which he substitutes, as we have seen, a sense of incongruity, or the conjunction of objects and circumstances not usually combined.
If tears may be, as they have been, considered the natural and involuntary resource of the mind overcome by some sudden and violent emotion, before it has had time to reconcile its feelings to the change of circumstances, laughter, on the other hand, is defined by Hazlitt to be the same sort of convulsive and involuntary movement, occasioned by mere surprise or contrast (in the absence of any more serious emotion), before it has time to reconcile its belief to contradictory appearances.
Aristotle defines the laughable as consisting of, or depending on, what is out of its proper time and place, yet without danger or pain. This definition is applauded by Coleridge, in repeated passages alike of his Essays and his recorded Table-Talk. In the latter he maintains, for instance, that to resolve laughter into an expression of contempt is contrary to fact, and laughable enough: "Laughter is a convulsion of the nerves, and it seems as if nature cut short the rapid thrill of pleasure on the nerves by a sudden convulsion of them to prevent the sensation becoming painful-Aristotle's Def. is as good as can be. Surprise at perceiving anything out of its usual place when the unusualness is not accompanied by a sense of serious danger. Such surprise is always pleasurable, and it is observable that surprise accompanied with circumstances of danger becomes Tragic."+ For, as Hazlitt observes, while the mere suddenness of transition, the mere baulking our expectations, and turning them abruptly into another channel, seems to give additional liveliness and gaiety to the animal spirits,—the instant the change is not only sudden, but threatens serious consequences, or calls up the shape of danger, that instant is our disposition to mirth superseded by terror, and laughter gives place to tears.
Man has been defined a LAUGHING Animal: one of the various definitions, all of them one-sided perhaps, which have been devised to differentiate the genus homo from lower but cognate genera, quadruped, quadrimanous, biped, and so on. Mrs. Browning refers to this definition, among others, in her new and remarkable poem :
Men define a man,
And of even those exceptional beings-lusus naturæ they can hardly be called, when there is so little ludendi about or within them-of even those sporadic anomalies who are notorious, to their familiars, as persons that
• Lectures on the English Comic Writers.
"Hence Farce may often border on Tragedy; indeed, Farce is nearer Tragedy in its Essence than Comedy is."-Coleridge's Table-Talk.
But do not the apes also laugh, or attempt to do it? asks Carlyle, in expanding his Clothes'-Philosophy.
§"Aurora Leigh." Book VII