« 上一頁繼續 »
that the author who rides in a sully, is the most likely to get on with his business: Mercantile houses so send their travellers out, and it is found the most safe, unincumbered, and expeditious mode.
The Northern Memoirs, in order, we presume, to match with the bouquet of subjects which the body of the work contains, is enriched with four dedications,—three author's prefaces, (" more first words of Mr. Baxter")—and four separate bunches of recommendatory verses. The first dedication is "To Mr. J. W. merchant of London," and in it the writer is for a time tolerably reasonable in his account of himself, and of his motives for writing the book; but, in speaking of Scotland, he rather suddenly forgets himself, and rushes into the following rhapsody:
"For you are to consider, sir, that the whole tract of Scotland is but one single series of admirable delights, notwithstanding the prejudicate reports of some men that represent it otherwise. For if eye-sight be argument convincing enough to confirm a truth, it enervates my pen to describe Scotland's curiosities, which properly ought to fall under a more elegant stile to range them in order for a better discovery. For Scotland is not Europe's umbra, as fictitiously imagined by some extravagant wits: No, it's rather a legible fair draught of the beautiful creation, drest up with polished rocks, pleasant savanas, flourishing dales, deep and torpid lakes, with shady fir-woods, immerged with rivers and gliding rivulets; where every fountain overflows a valley, and every ford super-abounds with fish. Where also the swelling mountains are covered with sheep, and the marish grounds strewed with cattle, whilst every field is filled with corn, and every swamp swarms with fowl. This, in my opinion, proclaims a plenty, and presents Scotland a kingdom of prodigies and products too, to allure foreigners, and entertain travellers."
The second Dedication "To the Virtuosos of the Rod in the British metropolis, the famous City of London," is "high fantastical." In truth the pen of Captain Richard Franck throws a long line!
The third Dedication is " To the Academicks in Cambridge, the place of my Nativity." And here Captain Francks, conscious of the erudite persons he is addressing, takes an opportunity of advancing upon the style of his merchant's and his virtuoso's dedications; and tropes, figures, and metaphors, become "as plenty as noun-substantives."
The last Dedication—(by the way it is a perfect puzzle to us to conjecture what portion of the book Captain Richard can possibly have remaining to give away)—is "To the Gentlemen Piscatorians inhabiting in or near the sweet situations of Nottingham, North of Trent." And herein the author does not quite dress himself up in his usual May-day finery. The following passage is pleasant and reasonable.
"In those florid fields, near the fords of Trent, I frequently wandered up and down to crop the buds of experience; yet I plundered no man's orchard to enrich my arbory, nor borrowed I other men's labours to adorn my discoveries: the bounty of heaven, that always blest me with benevolent success, restrained me from rifling the records of my ancestors; when to put a rod in my hand, and place a river before me; so that I should offer violence to reason and art, if now to consult the authority of others, when such a large and legible folio to write by, as the great and stupendous volume of the creation; which to contemplate, interprets the divine practice of solitudes, and becomes not only contributary to the present, but the future generations."
The three Prefaces come next; one in poetical prose, and two in prosaic poetry. The first of them, under the pretence of "manuducting you through the slender margin of this uncultivated book," treats, amongst many other subjects, of religion, Dubravius, the Trent, Isaac Owldham, and honest Master Isaac Walton, (the last of whom meets with but rough usage in the hands of our florid old trooper.) The second Preface is called, by the writer, an Address to his Book. And the third is "a booing" return to one of the poets, who "boo" to the author of the Northern Memoirs. The captain has thus, as our readers will have seen, fired off at least half a dozen morning guns before the piece opens, doubly out-doing that brace of noisy prefaces in The Critic, of which Mr. Puff so angrily complains; and our trooper's guns have not the merit which attaches to Mr. Puff's contrivances, which, it may be remembered, "saved a description of the rising sun, and a great deal about gilding the eastern hemisphere."
And now for "a brief description of the cities, citadels, &c.of Scotland, with the Contemplative Angler," extending over nearly four hundred pages; and which, from the idea our author seems to have of a brief, we should have set down as the work of some Gentleman, one, fyc. had we not seen with our own eyes the name of " Richard Franck, PhilanthroPic," set down in the title page. The work is composed in dialogue, like Isaac Walton's wholesome book, and a gentleman, of the name of Theophilus, pursues his studies under the directions of Arnoldus, (Captain Franck,) seemingly well fitted to answer his master's flowery observations. The conversation thus commences, or dawns, as the Captain would have it. ] . .
"Theophilus. It was in April, when every bough looked big with blessings, and the florid fields and fragrant meadows, (adorned with green,) sent forth their sweet and redolent perfumes to refresh the universe. Chanticleer then gave the day a summons, and the early lark, earlier than the sun, salutes the air, whilst blushing Phebus paints and gilds the azure globe, whose celestial influence, (by refulgent magnetism,) blest all the world with prolifick blessings; so that the whole creation began to vegetate, and every vegetation sent forth sweet aromas; the birds began now to build their nests, and every bird to choose his mate; whilst the groves and delightful springs, as also the forests and unfrequented desarts, celebrated the fragrant spring; when the frigid congelations of frost and snow were all struck dead by the blazing fiery strokes of the sun.
"Arnoldus. What infer you from these pretty metaphors?
"Theoph. I infer thus much :—The vernon ingress smiled a blessing, when she sent the melodious harmony of birds to melt the air. The nightingale with her warbling notes, the blackbird, thrush, linnet, and golden-jay, besides the canary and delicious bulfinch, filled all the woods with their solitary strains; and because beating the air with such proportionable harmony, every bush became an aviary, and every grove a mellifluous concert, whilst the purling springs, and more shady rivulets, softened by the gentle breathings of Zephyrus, seemed tacitly to express a secret, whispering, silent praise.
"Arn. To whom?
"Theoph. To whom think you? Unto Jehovah the great Creator.
"Arn. Very well exprest! Proceed.
"Theoph. Things thus posited, under such a rectoral governance, my reason and all my faculties were excited to contemplate the excellent beauty of this stupendous creation; but above all, when to consider man lord of this creational work, and invested with power to conduct the creatures, and intrusted with the cargo of the whole creation; this, I confess, was very surprising, when but to consider him in a natural state, and compare him with the excellency of celestial beings.
"Arn. What observe you from thence?
"Theoph. I observe him complicated, and compounded of elements; and elements of themselves they drop in sunder.
"Arn. But what if you take him translated into a state of grace and regeneration?
"Theoph. Why, then, I'll grant the first death is past, and the second death shall have no power to hurt him.
"Am. So far you'll grant him to excel all created beings."
The theological argument is waged for several pages, in the course of which the loss of Paradise is very fantastically alluded to; and there seems to be no prospect of the author getting to any other subject, when Theophilus puts, as we think, and as our readers shall see anon, a very pertinent question.
"Arn. God forbid that the sting of sin should be so venomous a poison, that no antidote can cure it! Did not the Lord of Life die to conquer sin, and death, and hell, in every believer? Let us be so charitable as to parallel Saul with Sampson, who had his Dalilah, as Saul had his Endor. Here we read, that David found repentance after the prophet's reproof; and Sampson had his satisfaction upon the lords of the Philistines. These two had their pardon sealed before death; and fain would I be so charitable to conclude so of Saul.
"Theoph. Ay, but Saul's fault is writ in capital characters.
"Am. That's instituted for our admonition, and the reformation of succeeding generations.
"Theoph. O, Arnoldus! the generations to come will abominate this, that inflames itself to set the rest of the world on fire.
"Am. Then let them burn and consume one another; for lust and pollution augment the flames.
"Theoph. Do not all the nations and kingdoms about us exhaust their treasures to indulge themselves, and devote their services to the hypocrisy of the times? .
"Am. It's rare (to a miracle) to find faith amongst men, especially such as daily expose conscience to the wreck of opinion. And he that makes a god of his belly devotes all his services to his luxurious appetite. Thus, men, as by machination, traduce one another into the devil's school, to brazen themselves against the modesty of a blush, lest sin should be thought to be shame-faced. And others, raking up the embers of revenge, fire themselves by quenching the flames.
"Theoph. So let them. But what's all this to our angling design?
"Am. Stay a little till we come to the water-side: in the meantime I have a question to put, and that's this; How comes it to pass that the hinge and poize of politic states move and turn about with such rapid motions, that kingdoms and potentates are dashed in pieces?"
The question which Arnoldus takes the opportunity of putting before he gets "to the waterside," would have ruined the angling of poor Theophilus for ever, if he had stayed to answer it.
At page thirty-four, Agrippa, a friend of the two colloquists, arrives "from the flourishing fields in Albion." (There was no such a thing then as agricultural distress.) Arnoldus after the usual courtesies proposes that the new comer shall meet them in a silent grove, and in the meantime that he and Theophilus shall discourse.
"Am. Come then, let us chat awhile, and discourse Rome divided among the Romanists. Nay, what will you say to see the church look asquint at the Pope, and Portugal to lift up his heel to kick against his elder brother of Spain? It's madness rather than manners to hear them wrangle and jangle about religion, when there's nothing left on't but bare opinion; which if you won't conform to, they'll stamp the character of a stelletto upon you, or the bloody impressions of an Inquisition."
At length we have the prospect of a change, and the keeneyed reader may begin to see the fish rise.
"Theoph. Come, Arnoldus, let us enter this solitary grove; here we may dwell among rocks, consort with the creation, and keep time with the pulse of the fluctuating ocean. Here we may refresh our ears with the relishing notes of tunable birds, and astonish our eyes with the beautiful model of heaven; where, whilst we gaze on those glittering orbs, our hearts, as inspired, may breathe forth flames.
"Am. A solitary life I always approved of, to trace the polite sands, to sit down under the shades of woods and rocks, and accost the rivers and rivulets for diversion, (as now we do) and trample on the beautiful banks and florid meadows, beautified with greens, that will not only refresh our senses with their redolent perfumes, but enamour us beyond express, when to see their banks bathed by such silver streams. Come and let's pitch our tents in these delightful plains, where every shady grove, as an umbrella, will shelter us from the scorching fiery beams of the sun, till the earth sends forth her sweet aromas; over which the burnished and beautiful firmament of heaven surrounds all the earth (and the blessed creation) with melody like birds, and murmuring streams; I fancy it a kind of counter-paradise for mortal content. And how sweet and sublime is that contemplation that surmounts angels for divine associates! Observe, Theophilus, that little rowling rivulet, where every eye may evidence fish in those purling streams courting the sun, as if naturally enamoured with stars and celestials. Such observations flow from our present state, let us therefore consider both the author and the end."
Anon, Agrippa joins the party, and in answer to the interrogations of his philosophical friends, gives a veiy long and a very melancholy account of the troubled state of "the flourishing fields of Albion." One might almost suppose, that a more recent tongue than Agrippa's had uttered the following observations:—
"Am. What, is there no trimming nor neutrality left amongst 'em?
"Agrip. Yes, there's enough of that, and solicitations for peace among sober men and mechanicks.
"Am. But what say the people as to church government? Is one religion or more in fashion?
"Agrip. Religion is made a mere stalking horse, to answer the ends of every design, and worn so threadbare, that there's nothing left to cover it, save only the name on't. It's true, there's some small alteration in the church, so is there in the state, by a late purgation; the army also is decimated, and it's thought the mystery of law will be made legible, to speak our modern dialect: but the priest paramount is the bravest fellow, because Presbyter John struts a horse-back, whilst the proselyte like a pensioner holds the bridle; but to speak plain English, most hold the stirrup.
VOL. VIII. PART I. N