« 上一頁繼續 »
“No more beneath Pandion's walls
The purer muses sigh in vain :
“ WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR."
JOHN FORSTER, ESQ. MR. FORSTER was born in Newcastle in 1812. He is indebted to the best of all patrons for his eminence in literature-his own sterling worth and talents, sound judgment, and solid understanding
The rarest and most advantageous of all combinations—the union of common sense and great intellectual endowments constitutes the power and peculiarity of Mr. Forster's abilities alike in literature and journalism. One is reminded, by his lucid, plain, trenchant, and forcible style of writing, of Cobbett's best manner, with a large infusion into it of literary taste and scholarship. If Cobbett had been a man highly educated, with sensibility, and that delicacy of organization which is essential to the development of a taste for art, a love of poetry, a longing after excellence of every sort in nature, or beyond its realms, and it was possible for him, thus constituted, to have retained his original, rough, intellectual viger, his style would be found, perhaps, to bear a strong resemblance to that of Forster. If there be any thing to be desired in the latter, it is an admixture of vivacity—of light wit and refined humor—to relieve the ponderous prose of subjects discussed with profound thought and gravity, and, when treated with irony, of too fine a sort for the generality of matte -of-fact people to find out in it any thing bordering on a joke. Pascal made himself master of the minds of his readers, while he amused their imaginations-le veritable maître du caur, sait faire rire l'esprit.
A disciple of Lavater or Gall and Spurzheim could not encounter Forster in any society, or position in it, without being struck with his appearance, his broad and ample forehead, his
massive features, his clear, intelligent eye, his firm, fixed, and solemn look, and expressiveness of lips and other features. When we are ushered into the presence of Forster, we feel at home in his company, and well assured of our safety in it. We find ourselves in the company of a man of high integrity and moral character-of an enlarged mind and of a generous nature.
His original pursuits have given to him an acuteness of intellect which enhances the value of his opinions on subjects wholly unconnected with those pursuits; hence, perhaps, to some extent, the unbounded confidence placed in his prudence, sagacity, and experience by several of the most eminent literary people of the day.
Forster is the intimate friend of Landor and DickThe peculiar bent of his literary taste is the study of history, and his acquaintance with it is profound. The lessons thus derived from history, and his experience of professional and literary life conjoined, give a philosophical turn to his sentiments and social character. One who knows him well thus writes of his genial disposition: “He is not general in his friendships, but I have known him, in cases where his aid has been required, display a zeal and energy rarely surpassed, or, indeed, equaled, more especially in cases of literary men or their families when in distress."
In December, 1836, Lady Blessington, writing to one of her correspondents, said, "I have made the acquaintance of Mr. Forster, and like him exceedingly; he is very clever, and, what is better, very noble-minded.”
The principal works of Forster are “The Statesmen of the Commonwealth,"* and the “Life of Goldsmith”—the latter a performance of great merit, remarkable for the vigor of its style, extensive research, and calm philosophical views of the times and persons he treats of; manifesting not only literary talents of the highest order, but kindly feelings and generous impulses. A lover of literature for its own dear sake; a zealous, able, and fearless advocate of its interests; a man of strong sympathies with his fellow-men, and, above all, with the unfortunate, the neglected, or the ill-used of that literary profession of which
Published in Lardner's Cyclopædia.
he is a frank, manly, warm-hearted, and most distinguished member.
Mr. Forster's contributions to reviews and other periodicals, if collected and published in a distinct form, would probably do more for his fame than either of his separate works, excellent as they are.
It always appeared to me a great merit in Lady Blessington, that she had the ability to discover the worth of men like Forster, and the power of attaching them to her by the strongest ties of friendship.
In this instance, from a large correspondence, only such passages have, by request, been taken as helped to exhibit the kindliness of Lady Blessington's nature, and the generosity and warmth of her friendships.
LETTERS FROM LADY BLESSINGTON TO JOHN FORSTER, ESQ.
“Gore House, Monday. 1835. " It has given me the greatest pleasure to hear that you are so much bet
Count D'Orsay assures me that the improvement is most satisfactory. To-morrow will be the anniversary of his birth-day, and a few friends will meet to celebrate it. How I wish you were to be among the number. What you say of Horace Walpole well exposes the littleness of that overpraised man's character. I never liked him, and always considered him a sort of nondescript, combining all the qualities of an envious, spiteful old maid. His one redeeming point was his affection for General Conway, and now even that is gone. How I wish the weather would mend, and that you could.come to us.
«Gore House, October 7th, 1838. “ I have been a sad invalid of late, and am still making but a very slow progress toward health. My literary labors, slight as the subjects to which they have been directed are, have fatigued me, and I now discern that light works may prove as heavy to the writer as they too frequently do to the reader.
“Saturday night. “I thought of you often last evening and this day. I have felt all that you are now undergoing thrice in my life, and know what a painfully unsettled state of mind it produces, what a dread of the present, what a doubt of the future. What a yearning after the departed, and what an agonizing conviction that never was the being, while in life, so fondly, so tenderly loved as now, when the love is unavailing. Judge, then, after three such trials, how well I
can sympathize in yours. I feel toward you as some traveler returned from a perilous voyage, where he narrowly escaped shipwreck, feels, when he sees a dear friend exposed to similar danger, and would fain make his sad experience useful to him. I am glad you have heard from our friend find a friend when one most needs consolation is indeed something to be grateful for; and I am glad when any thing brings back old and dear associations. Perhaps, if we could all see each other's hearts, there would be no misgivings, for coldness of manner often covers warmth of heart, as, to use a very homely simile, wet slack covers over the warm fire beneath. My nieces send you their cordial regards. Count D'Orsay will be the bearer of this. God bless and comfort you! prays your cordial friend, M. BLESSINGTON."
“ Gore House, February 10th, 1643. “I am deeply sensible of your sympathy, and truly value it. You, who knew the interesting creature who has been taken from us, can imagine our grief.* She had wound herself around the fibres of my heart, and it will be long ere I recover the sorrow her death has occasioned me. The development of the mind of this dear child has long been to me a subject of study and delight. Such an extraordinary intellect, and so warm and tender a heart. At ten years old she had a knowledge and piety almost unexampled, without having lost the least portion of that innocence and gayety which form such an attraction in childhood. Her poor mother bears this trial wonderfully, and I do believe the certainty of soon joining her lost child assists her in support
“Goro House, December 10th, 1844. “And so our friend is gone! Does not his visit now seem like a pleasant dream, from which one is sorry to awake? Will you tell me how I can send him the “Keepsake' and · Book of Beauty ?' "The Chimes' delighted me, although it beguiled me of many tears. It will do great good, for I defy any one to read it (and all the English world will) without being deeply affected in the fate of that class whose cause he so powerfully advocates. Yes, this book will melt hearts and open purse-strings. There is a truthfulness in the writer, not only in his works, but in his life, that makes itself felt, and commands our sympathies. I could not lay down · The Chimes' until those of my clock had told three in the morning, and I was embarrassed to meet the eyes of my servants, mine were so red from my tears. Do name a day to come and dine with us. It will be very kind, in this cold, dark weather; and more so, as Count D'Orsay is absent, and will be for some days. I heard from our friend, Sir E. B. Lytton, yesterday, and am glad to hear he is in better health than usual. I long to have another book from him, for it seems an age since the last. My nieces send you their kindest regard.
“M. BLESSINGTON." * The death of Miss Isabella Fairlio is referred to.-R. R. M. VOL. II.-G.
“ Gore House, January 1st, 1845. “ If the warmest sympathy of your friends at Gore House could alleviate your grief, be assured its bitterness would be softened. We feel so sincere a regard for you, that the loss you have sustained can not be a matter of indifference to us, and therefore we hope that you will come to us en famille, without the fear of meeting other guests, until your spirits are more equal to encountering a mixed society. “ Before I knew of your affliction, I had prepared a little gift for you
for this day. Its sombre hue, alas ! but too well accords with your present feelings, and therefore I venture to send it. Should you return to-day, and be equal to the exertion, we shall be most happy to see you at dinner at eight o'clock. My nephew will be the only guest.
“When you write to Mr. Dickens, remember us most kindly to him. I have made many persons buy • The Chimes' who were afraid it was not amusing, and made them ashamed of expecting nothing better, nothing greater, from such a writer. They can laugh until their sides ache over Mrs. Gamp, but they dread weeping over dear good Trotty, that personification of goodness ; sweet Meg, the beau ideal of female excellence ; poor Lilian, and the touching but stemn reality of Bill Fern, which beguiled me of so many tears. We should pity such minds, yet they make us too angry for pity. I have read • The Chimes' a third time, and found it as impossible to repress my tears when perusing the last scene between Meg and Lilian as at the first. God
"Gore House, Saturday, January 11th, 1845. “If you knew the anxiety we all feel about your health, and the fervent prayers we offer up for its speedy restoration, you would be convinced that, though you have friends of longer date, you have none more affectionately and sincerely attached to you than those at Gore House. I claim the privilege of an old woman to be allowed to see you as soon as a visitor in a sickroom can be admitted.
“Sterne says tható a friend has the same right as a physician,' and I hope you will remember this. Count D'Orsay every day regrets that he can not go and nurse you, and we both often wish you were here, that we might try our power of alleviating your illness, if not of curing you. God bless you, and restore you speedily to health.
“Gore House, February 13th, 1845. “We are greatly distressed by the news of my poor nephew's death in India, the brother of your friends. The poor souls are in great affliction. He had caught the Chinese fever while on service in China, and his constitution sunk under it. Poor fellow! how sad to die so far from all who loved him! In addition to all our troubles, Captain P, of the Guards, has been attacked by small-pox, and gives us great anxiety. I spend the greater part