網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

The inge

gentility of blood, mind, and manners in the Ponsonbys, which looks down upon the glare, frivolity, and dash of mere fashion in the Follets, Bolingbrokes, Vicars's, &c. to the homely civility of the Brownes, and the revolting vulgarity of the Joneses, Careys, and Prattens, down to the gossip and slang of abigails and valets, all is in its place, all is true to nature. nuity and vigilance which the two Miss Merediths (we think they must be meant for the heroines) display in watching and imitating the most attractive specimens of deportment and manner, which they happen to fall in with, the confidential and descriptive letters which they interchange, and the mortifications incident to the disproportionate match which one of them succeeds in effecting, supply improving lessons and warnings to the young aspirant after notice and admiration. We would willingly give to our readers the anomalous straw-berry party at Ashton—the military frolic of demolishing a cottage - the excursion to Bath, performed in the Bristol stage by a young lady of delicacy, under the patronage of incorrigible vulgarians the laborious duty of giving a ball

, achieved by a family with some glimmerings how things ought to be, but perplexed with ineificient, blundering servants, and vulgar relations, who must be asked to a “ friendly dish of tea,” with village gossips, and wrangling over the card-table, &c. We all admire a picture by Teniers or Ostade, though we should turn with horror from the proposal to spend an evening with real boors, in a real alehouse ; and much enjoyment may be extracted from past awkwardnesses, as well as from past perils. But the various claims upon the notice of our journal forbid us to do more than give the following extract, relating an attempt at that exotic entertainment, which flourished at Paris in the days of a Tencin and a Deffand, but which we do not expect ever to see naturalized: under an English sky. We allude to a bas-bleu party of gentlemen and ladies. The meeting (we believe we may borrow an American term, and say the palaver) is held at the house of a Mrs. Clements, an Italianized English woman with whom Maria Worthington (we do not feel sure that she is not the heroine) has, in consequence of family distresses, placed herself in the capacity of governess, and by whom she is, with a liberality seldom extended to the officiating priestess of the school-room, admitted to share in the amusement of the family.

“ The first visitor that made her appearance was an elderly figure who was announced Lady Carwardine, and was received with distinguished respect; in return for which, she underlook to give them all the particulars of a recent illness. Her narrative was interrupted by the arrival of two ladies and a gentleman, particular friends of Mrs. Clements; and

they immediately began to talk over two or three parties where they had lately met.

A variety of company followed, some violently fashionable in their appearance, others studionsly the reverse.

« Urs. Errington assumed her seat at the end of an ottoman with an air of contemptuous saleliness, which naturally provoked the question, " Who is she?" and the interrogator was immeiliately struck duinb with Bold Truths, or Suciul Evils," a philosophical novel, in seven octavo volumes.

“The next person announced was Mr. Vyvian, a round good-humored little man, with a bald head covered with a coating of powder and pomatum scrupulously scraped into form, to represent hair. Being a notorious man of genius, he was greeted on every side by persons anxious to prove themselves among his friends. Another visitor, however, laid claim to superior talents, and the name of Miss Archer excited no small sensation : she was a little squat figure, with a face that seemed determined to refute the asiom, that

Eternal smiles an emptiness betray,

As shallow streams run diinpling all the way. The exacting mutability also of two eyes, whose glazy blackness aimed at brilliant intelligence, directed a fatiguingly endless artillery at every one within eye-shot. The empressemeni with which the kisses on either cheek, and the pressures and swayings of both hands were lavished on the little lady by Miss Mullens, necded no explanation ; for the object of them was almost immediately led by Mr. Vyvian to the literary altar, a rose-wood table, with a reading lamp, placed in the centre of the room, supporting the quarto edition of Scott's Lord of the Isles.

“ Miss Archer reciied, without a pause, the first canto of the poem; and as soon as the buzzing homage of compliment had subsided, Mr. Vyvian, on a nod and a beck from Mrs. Clements, prepared to obey her commands; and having rung for a tumbler of water, gave a recitation of “ Alonzo the Brave and the Fair Imogene:" in the course of which, an emphatical knock of the knuckle on the side of the tumbler produced a solenn imitative eflect as he repeated

When the bell of the castle tolled one. A slender stooping gentleman, who had been brought by Mr. Vyvian, and was bis particular friend, now began, with a querulous humility of voice, to put aboui, in a half audible whisper, something respecting ele gies and sonnets, of which Mr. Vyvian might possibly have some in his pocket.

"The company began to crowd round Mr. Vyvian with that sort of polite hustling, which bespeaks the gratitude of the fashionable world towards the possessor of talents that can divert lassitude. Mr. Vyvian was not one of those“ who would be wooed, and not unsought be won;" his consent almost outran the request : to say the truth, he was vain of his talents : nor did he attempt to disguise it; for he was too simple and frank in his nature to disguise any thing; and if vanity ever was agreeable, it was so in this good-humored instance. His feet moved with mechianical compliance towards the reading table, and his hands begav simultaneously to fuinble in his pocket. In the search, various Joose papers fell on the carpet, and were sedulously and obsequiously picked up by his shadowy companion. Mr. Vyvian assuring himself, by

1

an anxious side glance, that they were in safe custody, proceeded to give a reading of an unpublished

SONNET
To the Candle-shade of a dear

friend.
Thou art a thing of silk : and thou wert spun

Froin forth the tiny bowels of a worm :
And now thou spreadest out thy fan-like form,
Green as the green grass in an April sun.

This is not all thy glory, or thy good :

Thou art not made to please an idle eye,
Like many creatures that are flesh and blood :

For while his tabby cat lies purring by,
My friend sits musing, pen in hand : and thou
Screenest the candle-glare, that on his brow
Flickers as through a veil; which otherwise
Would dim with blearing light his dazzled eyes.
And that fine ode is owing, dearest John !

To that green shade which thou didst gaze upon. Expressions of delight and rapturous applause were received by Mr. Vyvian with unconcealed satisfaction, and he was preparing to yratify the company with another sample of his talents, when Miss Mullens brought Miss Archer to the table; at the same time sending round the room the delightful intelligence that she had prevailed on her accomplished friend to favor them with a specimen of a work on which she was employing her pen, a ballad, epic, romance, to be entitled,

The Bridal Assassin.
Oh! 'twas the sound of St. Andrew's bell

That came from the steeple tower.
It caine like the toll of a sudden death-knell,

And it shook Lady Claribel's bower.
Oh! 'twas the clatter of horse's hoof,

That made the hard pebbles fly;
And where is thy hawbeck and helm of proof,

When the borderer's tramp is nigh?
Then the draw-bridge clank'd to De Courcy's stride,

And he sprang on his berry-brown steed;
Adieu, and adieu, my bonny bride;

For of love there is now no need. Charming! charming lines indeed !" cried Mrs. Clements, “they are in the very best style.

“Dear îne !" exclaimed Lady Carwardine, “ what a delightful thing it must be to compose poetry.”

“What an imagination she has !" cried Mrs. M. ntresor ; "what a beautiful picture she has drawn! She indeed may rank among the first epic geniuses of the age.”

"I trust,” observed Miss Mullens, with a confident utterance, « that at length the era is arrived, when all distinction of sex in inind is abolished: when fernale genius may be allowed to assert its equality with the boasteri superiority of man. “The ladies were all ready to support Miss Mullens, and as they com

posed the majority of the company the gentlemen were unwilling to risque so unequal a combat.

“Mrs. Clements, while lavishing smiles on all around her, was secretly much chagrined that Mr. Capel was not arrived; she had every reason to fear he would not now make his appearance; and though glad of having Mr. Vyvian and Miss Archer to lend their aid to help off the evening, their recitations wanted the charın of novelty. She had piqued herself on Mr. Capel's attending her conversazzione: she felt it would give it a dignity, and she bad boasted to all her friends that he had promised to come. As the evening began to wear away, she becan.e restless and impatient: the company too scemed to think it a lost case, and by degrees a certain sort of dullness began to pervade the party, when a sudden throwing open of the door produced a general breathless pause of expectation; and the great lion of the evening entered.

“ Mr. Capel was looked upon as a monitor of genius and literature : he was the author of an epic poem under the title of Odin, illustrative of the Scandinavian history and mythology. He had published Antiquarian researches in Iceland and Norway; Italy and Greece; had written a volume of essays, philosophical, critical, and political; and was now busily occupied in an elaborate commentary on ihe Kantian philosophy. The public mind was in a ferment of expectation; and as he could scarcely ever be drawn into company, the gratification of Mrs. Clements and Miss Mullens was displayed in repeated thanks. His presence occasioned a sort of awe to pervade the company who seemed to look for some extraordinary information, every time he was addressed, even if he were only asked to partake of the refreshments. They seemned to be of opinion, that with proper management he might be familiarised, and attacked him with every anbiguity ut polite innuendo for the purpose of enticing him to recite : he persevered however in parrying their maneuvres, and having advanced but a few paces into the room, he entered into an carnest conversation with Mr. Molesworth, a professed antiquarian, (unliguury) and black letter-inan, who began describing with ardor the success attending the unrolling of the Herculaneum manuscripts, &c. &c.

Vol. iii. p. 163.

ART. IX. Zeluca, or Educated and Uneducated Woman, a No

vel, in three volumes. Baldwin and Co. London, 1815. pp.

1094. £l. Is. We

e have read this novel with more attention than is usually claimed by works of fiction, from those who read professionally, and, nevertheless, we feel ourselves under some embarrassment how to characterise the performance. The title obviously avows an intended parallel with Dr. Moore's celebrated romance; but the terms educated and uneducated, thus placed in contradistinction, when compared with the events and tendency of the book, involve a vague and indeterminate meaning. The heroine is

meant to exemplify the educated woman, having been highly accomplished in every fashionable attainment; she turns out, however,' extremely ill in point of moral conduct; and dies the victim of her malignant, perverse, and fiery passions. The second figure on the canvas is her cousin and companion, Marianne, who is a pattern of every feminine grace and virtue, but is considered to be uneducated, because her talents have not been cultivated by the attendance of masters or a governess; she reads French with difficulty, sings but little, and does not draw at all. This young person having, however, been brought up by discreet and pious relations, in a family where all the courtesies of life were known and practised, we should, we consess, have made no scruple to declare her very well educated ; and should have retorted the charge of non-education upon the mother of Zeluca, who dismisses her daughter's preceptress before she is thirteen, by an act of injustice to which she makes her child the confidante and the party; and thus, not only authorizes deceit, cruelty, and falshood, by her example, but inculcates them by her precepts! We must observe that this work abounds with contradictions des disparates affreuses in almost every page. It professes to inculcate a veneration for morality and religion, with a respect for the decencies of conduct and conversation; get perpetually viclates them ail, by the admission of passages which no reader of any degree of inental tact can see without disgust. We give, by way of sample, an extract from a conversation which passes at the ball at which Zeluca makes her début, between Mrs. Delvayne (her mother), and an officer of her acquaintance.

"The education of the angel you present to us must be faultless, fur you gave it to her.”_" Angel, said Mrs. Delvayne, " that is the compliment of a very red cout, and you, a true blue !"_" True to my assertions," returned Cissenberd, "that she is very goddess of very goddess, one substance with the mother; nut nade for mortal man's praise.” vol.i. P. 125.

The following passage betrays turpitude of a different dye. “ Flora Rosenay," purgited Mrs. Delvayne,“ she is pretiy."-"Very.”" But she dresses too inin." (thinly).-" That does not hide ber beauty." -"No; but it shows her de!ec!s--knock knees-she would not wear that dress á com, if she was (were) nu-n kuced-of a friend. Cume, play the amiable and give her a hint.” vol. i. p. 126.

The incessant occurrence of the Sacred Name, used as an expletive to passionate asseverations, or unmeaning pleasantries, (we have counted four “good Gods” in one page, repeatedly) is rather surprising in a work of which most of the numerous

« 上一頁繼續 »