網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

Genoa, May 9th, 1845. “Once more in my old quarters; and with rather a tired sole to my foot, from having found such an immense number of different resting-places for it since I went away. I write you my last Italian letter for this bout, designing to leave here, please God, on the ninth of next month, and to be in London again by the end of June. I am looking forward with great delight to the pleasure of seeing you once more, and mean to come to Gore House with such a swoop as shall astonish the Poodle, if, after being accustomed to his own size and sense, he retain the power of being astonished at any thing in the wide world.

“You know where I have been, and every mile of ground I have traveled over, and every object I have seen. It is next to impossible, surely, to exaggerate the interest of Rome, though I think it is very possible to find the main source of interest in the wrong things. Naples disappointed me greatly. The weather was bad during a great part of my stay there. But if I had not had mud I should have had dust, and though I had had sun I must still have had the Lazzaroni ; and they are so ragged, so dirty, so abject, so full of degradation, so sunken and steeped in the hopelessness of better things, that they would make Heaven uncomfortable, if they could ever get there. I didn't expect to see a handsome city, but I expected something better than that long, dull line of squalid houses, which stretches from the Chiaja to the quarter of the Porta Capuana ; and while I was quite prepared for a miserable populace, I had some dim belief that there were bright rags among them, and dancing legs, and shining sun-browned faces; whereas the honest truth is, that connected with Naples itself I have not one solitary recollection. The country round it charmed me, I need not say. Who can forget Herculaneum and Pompeii ?

As to Vesuvius, it burns away in my thoughts beside the roaring waters of Niagara, and not a splash of the water extinguishes a spark of the fire ; but there they go on, tumbling and flaming night and day, each in its fullest glory.

“I have seen so many wonders, and each of them has such a voice of its own, that I sit all day long listening to the roar they make, as if it were in a sea-shell, and have fallen into an idleness so complete that I can't rouse myself sufficiently to go to Pisa on the twenty-fifth, when the triennial illumination of the Cathedral, and Leaning Tower, and bridges, and what not, takes place. But I have already been there ; and it can not beat St. Peter's, I suppose. So I don't think I shall pluck myself up by the roots, and go aboard a steamer for Leghorn.

“Let me thank you heartily for the · Keepsake' and the Book of Beauty.' They reached me a week or two ago. I have been very much struck by two papers in them. One, Landor’s ‘Conversations,' among the most charming, profound, and delicate productions I have ever read. The other, your lines on Byron's room at Venice. I am as sure that you wrote them from your heart as I am that they found their way immediately to mine.

“It delights me to receive such accounts from Maclise's fresco. If he will only give his magnificent genius fair play, there is not enough cant and dullness even in the criticism of art from which Sterne prayed kind Heaven to defend him, as the worst of all the cants continually canted in this canting world, to keep the giant down an hour.

"Our poor friend, the naval governor, has lost his wife, I am sorry to hear, since you and I spoke of his pleasant face. And IBM, what a terrible history that was! F_ did himself enduring honor by his manly and zealous devotion to the interests of that orphan family, in the midst of all his pains and trouble. It was very good of him.

“Do not let your nieces forget me, if you can help it; and give my love to Count D'Orsay, with many thanks to him for his charming letter. I was greatly amused by his account of

There was a cold shade of aristocracy' about it, and a dampness of cold water, which entertained me beyond

CHARLES DICKENS."

measure.

“Devonshire Terrace, March 20, 1846. “Many thanks for the letters! I will take the greatest care of them, though I blush to find how little they deserve it.

“ It vexes me very much that I am going out on Friday, and can not help it. I have no strength of mind, I am afraid. I am always making engagements in which there is no prospect of satisfaction.

“ Vague thoughts of a new book are rife within me just now, and I go wandering about at night into the strangest places, according to my usual propensity at such a time, seeking rest and finding none.

As an addition to my composure, I ran over a little dog in the Regent's Park yesterday (killing him on the spot), and gave his little mistress, a girl of thirteen or fourteen, such exquisite distress as I never saw the like of.

“I must have some talk with you about those American singers. They must never go back to their own country without your having heard them sing Hood's · Bridge of Sighs.' My God, how sorrowful and pitiful it is! “Best regards to Count D'Orsay and the young ladies.

“CHARLES DICKENS."

“Devonshire Terrace, May 19th, 1846. “If I had not a good reason for delaying to acknowledge the receipt of the book you so kindly sent me, I should be a most unworthy dog. But I have been every day expecting to be able to send you the inclosed little volume, and could get no copies until last night, in consequence of their running very line against the subscription and demand. May you like it!

“I have been greatly entertained by the femme de chambre, who paints love with a woman's eye (I think that the highest praise), and sometimes like a female Gil Blas. The spirit of our two fair friends M—and S-shines through their representative. I would have identified the former any where.

“Count D'Orsay's copy of the pictures, with my cordial remembrance and regards. Ever, my dear Lady Blessington, faithfully your friend,

“ CHARLES DICKENS."

" 48 Rue de Courcelles, Paris, January 24th, 1847. "I feel very wicked in beginning this note, and deeply remorseful for not having begun and ended it long ago. But you know how difficult it is to write letters in the midst of a writing life ; and as you know too (I hope) how earnestly and affectionately I always think of you, wherever I am, I take heart on a little consideration, and feel comparatively good again.

“F- has been cramming into the space of a fortnight every description of impossible and inconsistent occupation in the way of sight-seeing. He has been now at Versailles, now in the prisons, now at the Opera, now at the hospitals, now at the Conservatoire, and now at the Morgue, with a dreadful insatiability. I begin to doubt whether I had any thing to do with a book called • Dombey,' or ever sat over number five (not finished a fortnight yel) day after day, until I half began, like the monk in poor Wilkie's story, to think it the only reality in life, and to mistake all the realities for short-lived shadows.

Among the multitude of sights, we saw our pleasant little bud of a friend, Rose Cheri, play Clarissa Harlowe the other night. I believe she did it in London just now, and perhaps you may have seen it. A most charming, intelligent, modest, affecting piece of acting it is, with a death superior to any thing I ever saw on the stage, except Macready’s ‘Lear.' The theatres are admirable just now. We saw.Gentil Bernard' at the Varietés last night, acted in a manner that was absolutely perfect. It was a little picture of Watteau, animated and talking from beginning to end: At the Cirque there is a new show-piece, called the . French Revolution,' in which there is a representation of the National Convention, and a series of battles (fought by some five hundred people, who look like five thousand), that are wonderful in their extraordinary vigor and truth. Gun-cotton gives its name to the general annual jocose review at the Palais Royal, which is dull enough, saving for the introduction of Alexandre Dumas sitting in his study beside a pile of quarto volumes about five feet high, which he says is the first tableau of the first act of the first piece to be played on the first night of his new theatre. The revival of Molière's • Don Juan' at the Français has drawn money. It is excellently played, and it is curious to observe how different their Don Juan and Valet are from our English ideas of the master and man. They are playing · Lucretia Borgia' again at the Porte St. Martin ; but it is poorly performed, and hangs fire drearily, though a very remarkable and striking play. We were at V-H-'s house last Sunday week, a most extraordinary place, looking like an old curiosity shop, or the property-room of some gloomy, vast old theatre. I was much struck by H— himself, who looks like a genius, as he is, every inch of him, and is very interesting and satisfactory from head to foot. His wife is a handsome woman, with flashing black eyes. There is

also a charming ditto daughter of fifteen or sixteen, with ditto eyes. Sitting among old armor, and old tapestry, and old coffers, and grim old chairs and tables, and old canopies of state from old palaces, and old golden lions going to play at skittles with ponderous old golden balls, they made a most romantic show, and looked like a chapter out of one of his own books.

“ CHARLES DICKENS."

[blocks in formation]

The Right Honorable Sir James Scarlett, Baron Abinger, a Privy Councilor, Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer, &c., &c., &c., was born in Jamaica, where his family had been long resident, and held considerable property. A younger brother of his, Sir Robert Scarlett, was for many years chief justice of the island.

Sir James was sent to England at an early age for education. He graduated in Cambridge in 1790, and in 1794 was called to the bar. He rose rapidly in his profession as an advocate, and obtained a silk gown in 1816. He offered himself for the borough of Lewes in 1812, but lost the election, and again in 1816 contested the borough, and was defeated. In 1818 he entered Parliament for Lord Fitzwilliam's borough of Peterborough. His success in Parliament, however, was far from answering the expectations of his friends. In 1822 he stood for the borough of Cambridge, and was defeated, but was immediately after rechosen for Peterborough.

In 1822, in Mr. Canning's administration, he was made attorney general, and was knighted the same year. From this period Sir James manifested very strongly and conspicuously Conservative principles. In 1828 he ceased to be attorney general, and was succeeded by Sir Charles Wetherell. In May, 1829, Sir Charles made a violent speech in opposition to Catholic Emancipation, and was dismissed by the Duke of Wellington. Sir James Scarlett was appointed by the duke to succeed Sir Charles Wetherell, who again offered himself to the borough of Peterborough, and was re-elected.

The new attorney general was soon called on to file criminal informations against “ The Morning Journal,” « The Atlas," and other papers, for libels on the Duke of Wellington and Lord Chancellor Lyndhurst. In 1830, on the Whigs coming into office, Sir James Scarlett's office of attorney general was conferred on Mr. Denman. In 1831 Sir James offered himself to the electors of Cockermouth, and was returned by them.

The following year he stood for Norwich, on the Tory interest, and was returned also.

A tender appeal of Sir James Scarlett to the ladies of Norwich, in the contest of 1832, in behalf of himself and a brother candidate, is one of the most amusing specimens of grave rigmarole electioneering eloquence on record :

To the Ladies of Norwich.—None but the brave deserve the fair.' If ever the sweets of social virtue, the wrath of honest zeal, the earnings of industry, and the prosperity of trade, had

any influence in the female breast, you have now a happy opportunity of exercising it to the advantage of your countryyour cause. If ever the feelings of a parent, wife, sister, friend, or lover had a sympathy with the public virtue, now is your time to indulge the fonder passion. If ever you felt for the ruin and disgrace of England, and for the miseries and deprivations occasioned by the obnoxious Reform Bill, you are called upon by the most tender and affectionate tie in nature to exert your persuasive influence on the mind of a father, brother, husband, or lover: tell them not to seek filial duty, congenial regard, matrimonial comfort, nor tender compliance, till they have saved your country from perdition !-posterity from slavery! History furnishes us with instances of female patriotism equal to any in the page of war and politics. Oh, may the generous and beatific charms of female persuasion prevail with the citizens of Norwich to espouse the cause of real liberty—of

“ STORMONT AND SCARLETT."*

The ex-attorney general's fervor on this occasion, and enthu

* New Monthly Magazine, August, 1832.

« 上一頁繼續 »