網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

Times of Trial; being a brief Narrative of the Progress of the Reformation, and of the Sufferings of some of the Reformers. By Mary Ann Kelty. One vol. 8vo. Pp. 470. London. Longman, Rees, and Co. 1830. THIS is a very sensible book, displaying good feeling on the part of the author. It is a connected history of the sufferings of the Reformers, from the time of Wickliffe, down to the accession of Elizabeth. It will be read with pleasure by all who take an interest in the subject.

MISCELLANEOUS LITERATURE.

[ocr errors]

MY FIRST FEE.

A CHAPTER FROM THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A BARRISTER. "Fee him, father, fee him."

|

SEVEN long yearning years had now elapsed since, with the budding anticipation of youthful hope, I had assumed the lugubrious insignia of the bar. During that dreadful time, each morn as old St Giles told the hour of nine, might I be seen insinuating my emaciated figure Often have I looked with envy upon the more favoured within the penetralia of the Parliament House, where, candidates for judicial fame,those who never return to begowned and bewigged, and with the zeal of a Powell their domicile or their dinner, but to find their tables or a Barclay, I paced about till two. These Peripatetic | groaning with briefs! How different from my case! practices had wellnigh ruined me in Wellingtons and, lat- My case? What case? I have no case !-Not one fe terly, in shoes. My little Erskine was in pawn; while | to mock its own desolateness! Months and months passmy tailor and my landlady threw out most damning hints ed on-still success came not! The hoped-for event came of their long bills and longer credit. I dared not under-not-resolution died within me-I formed serious inten. stand them; but consoled myself with the thought, that tions of being even with the profession. As the profes the day would come when my tailor would cease his dun- sion had cut me, I intended to have cut the profession. ning, and my landlady her clamour. In my wants, I would have robbed, but my hand was withheld by the thought, that the jesters of the stove might taunt me thus,-" He could not live, so he died, by the law." I have often thought that there is a great similarity between the hangman and the want of a feethe one is the finisher of the law, the other of lawyers!

I had gone the different circuits, worn and torn my gown, seated myself in awful contemplation on the side benches, maintained angry argument on legal points with some more favoured brother, within earshot of a wily writer. In fine, I had resorted to every means that fancy could suggest, or experience dictate; but as yet my eyes Pondering on my griefs, with my feet on the expiring had not seen, nor my pocket felt-a fee. Alas! this was embers of a sea-coal fire, the chair in that swinging posi denied. I might be said to be, as yet, no barrister; for tion so much practised and approved in Yankee Land, what is a lawyer without a fee? A nonentity! a sha--the seat destined for a clerk occupied by my cat, for I dow! To my grief, I seemed to be fast verging to the latter; and I doubt much whether the "Anatomie vivante could have stood the comparison-so much had my feeless fast fed on my flesh!

I cannot divine the reason for this neglect of my legal services. In my own heart, I had vainly imagined the sufficiency of my tact and subtelty in unravelling a nice point; neither had I been wanting in attention to my studies; for heaven and my landlady can bear witness that my consumption of coal and candle would have suf- | ficed any two ordinary readers. There was not a book or treatise on law which I had not dived into. I was insatiable in literature; but the world and the writers seemed ignorant of my brain-belabouring system, and sedu.. lously determined that my feeling propensities should not be gratified.

Never did I meet an agent either in or out of Court, but my heart and hand felt a pleasing glow of hope and of joy at the prospect of pocketing a fee; but how often have they turned their backs without even the mortifying allusion to such a catastrophe! How oft have I turned round in whirling ecstasy as I felt some seemingly patronising palm tap gently on my shoulders with such a tap as writers' clerks are wont to use; but, oh, ye gods! a grinning wretch merely asked me how I did, and passed on !

Nor were my illegal friends more kind. There was an old gentleman, who, I knew, (for I made it my business to enquire,) had some thoughts of a law-plea. From him I received an invitation to dinner. Joyfully, as at all times, but more so on this occasion, was the summons obeyed. I had laid a train to introduce the subject of his wrongs at a time which might suit best, and with this

The old fox was

Lis

plan I commenced my machinations.
too cunning even for me-he too had his plot, and had
hit upon the expedient of obtaining my opinion withouta
fee!--the skinflint! Long and doubtful was the contes
-hint succeeded hint, question after question was put,
till at last my entertainer was victorious, and I retired
crest-fallen and feeless from the field! By the soul of
Erskine, had it not been for his dinners, I should have
cut him for ever! Still I grubbed with this one, culti
vated an acquaintance with that, but all to no purpose-
no one pitied my position. My torments were those of
the damned! Hope (not the President) alone buoyed
me up-visions of future sovereigns, numerous as those
which appeared to Banquo of old, but of a better and
more useful kind, flitted before my charmed imagination.
Pride, poverty, and starvation pushed me on. What!
said I, shall it be hinted that I am likely neither to have
a fee nor a feed?-tell it not in the First Division-pub.
lish it not in the Outer-House!— All my thoughts were
riveted to one object to one object all my endeavours
were bent, and to accomplish this seemed the ultimatum of
bliss.

love every thing of the feline species, my cogitations were disturbed by an application for admittance at the outer-door. It was not the rat-tat of the postman, nor the rising and falling attack of the man of fashion, bat a compound of both, which evidently bespoke the knockee unaccustomed to town. I am somewhat curious in knocks —I admire the true principles of the art, by which one may distinguish the peer from the postman—the dun from the dilettante--the footman from the furnisher. But there was something in this knock which baffled all my skill; yet sweet withal, thrilling through my heart with a joy unfelt before. Some spirit must have presided in the sound, for it seemed to me the music of the spheres.

A short time elapsed, and my landlady “ opened wide the infernal doors." Now hope cut capers (Lazenby, thou wert not to blame, for of thy delicacies I dared not even dream!)—now hope cut capers within me! Heavy footsteps were heard in the passage, and one of the lords of the creation marched his calves into the apartment. With alacrity I conveyed my "corpus juris" to meet him, and, with all civility, I requested him to be seated. My landlady with her apron dusted the arm-chair, (I purchased it at a sale of Lord M -'s effects, not causes,— expecting to catch inspiration.) In this said chair my man ensconced his clay.

I had commenced my survey of his person, when my eyes were attracted by a basilisk-like bunch of papers which the good soul held in his hand. In ecstasy I gazed

characters were marked on them which could not be mistaken; a less keen glance than mine might have discovered their import. My joy was now beyond all bounds, testifying itself by sundry kickings and contortions of the body. I began to fear the worthy man might think me

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

With flowers of budding hawthorn.
Of maidenish nick-nacks greatly overran
My utmost arithmetical operation.

mad, and repent him of his errand,—I calmed myself, and sat down. My guest thrust into my hands the papers, and then proceeded to issue letters of open doors against his dexter pocket. His intentions were evident; with difficulty could I restrain myself. For some minutes "he groped about the vast abyss," during which time my agitation increased so much that I could not have answered one question, even out of that favourite chapter of one of our institutional writers, "On the Institution of Fees." but let me describe the man to whom I owe so much.

He was a short, squat, farmer-looking being, who might have rented some fifty acres or so. Though stinted in his growth upwards, Dame Nature seemed determined to make him amends by an increase of dimension in every other direction. His nose and face spoke volumes-ay, libraries of punch and ale; these potations had also made themselves manifested lower down, by the magnitude of the belligerent powers. There was in his phiz a cunning leer, in his figure a knowing tournure, which was still further heightened by his dress; this consisted of a green coat, which gave evident signs of its utter incapability of ever being identified with Stultz; cords and continuations encased the lower parts of his carcass; a belcher his throat; while the whole was surmounted by a castor of most preposterous breadth of brim, and shallow capacity. But in this man's appearance there was a something which pleased me—something of a nature superior to other mortals. I might have been prejudiced, but his face and figure seemed to me more beautiful than morning. Never did I gaze with a more complacent benevolence on a breeches-pocket. At last he succeeded in dragging from its depths a huge old stocking, through which "the yellow letter'd Geordies keeked." With what raptures did I look on that old stocking, the produce, I presumed, of the stocking of his farm. It seemed to possess the power of fascination, for my eyes could not quit it. Even when my client (for now I calculated upon him,) -even when my client began to speak, my attention still wandered to the stocking. He told me of a dispute with his landlord, about some matters relating to his farm, that he was wronged, and would have the law of the laird, though he should spend his last shilling, (here I looked with increased raptures at the stocking.) On the recommendation of the minister (good man!) he had sought me for advice. He then opened wide the jaws of his homely purse—he inserted his paw-now my heart beat-he made a jingling noise-my heart beat quicker still-he pulled forth his two interesting fingers—Oh, ecstasy! he pressed five guineas into my extended hand—they touched the virgin palm, and oh, ye gods! I was FEED!!! Edinburgh, 16th March, 1830. P. R.

ANDREW THE PACKMAN.

AFTER THE MANNER OF WORDSWORTH.

By the Ettrick Shepherd.

IN vale of Bassenthwaite there once was bred
man of devious qualities of mind;
Andrew the Packman, known from Workington,
And its dark and uncomely pioneers,

Even unto Geltsdale forest, where the county
Borders on that of Durham, vulgarly
Called Bishoprigg. But still within the bounds
Of ancient Cumberland, his native shire,
Andrew held on his round, higgling with maids
About base copper, vending baser wares.
Not unrespective, but respectively,

As suited several places and relations,
Did he spread forth muslins, and rich brocades
Of tempting aspect; likewise Paisley lace,
Upholden wove in Flanders, very rich
Of braid, inwove with tinsel, as the blossoms
Of golden broom appear in hedgerows, white

Then his store

Andrew knew well, better than any man In all the eighteen towns of Cumberland, The prime regard that's due to pence and farthings, The right hand columns of his ledger-book. This I call native wisdom, and should stand Example to us of each small concern That points to an hereafter. For how oft Is heaven itself lost for a trivial fault! First we commit one sin-one little sinA crime so venial, that we scarcely deem It can be register'd above. Yet that one Leads to another, and, perchance, a greater: Higher and higher on the scale we go, Till all is lost that the immortal mind Should hold to estimation or account! Thus wisdom should be earn'd. But I forgot, Or rather did omit, at the right place, To say that Andrew at first sight could know The nature, temper, habits, and caprices Of every customer, man, wife, or boy, Stripling, or blooming maid. Yet none alive Could Andrew know, for he bad qualities Of eye, as well as mind, inscrutable. For when he look'd a person in the face, He look'd three ways at once. Straightforward one, And one to either side. But so doth he, That wondrous man, who absolutely deducts, Arranges, and foretells, even to a day, Nature's last agony and overthrow.

|

| Presumptuous man! Much would I like to talk
With him but for one hour. So I am told
Looks a great man-a man whose tongue and pen
Hath hope illimitable. One who overrules
A great academy of northern lore.
So look three of our noble peers.
And so
Looks one-and I have seen the man myself-
A fluent, zealous holder forth, within

The House of Commons. So look'd Andrew Graham,
That peddling native of fair Bassenthwaite.

Now this same look had something in't, to me
Deeply mysterious. For, if that the eye
Be window of the soul, in which we spy
Its secret workings, here was one whose ray
Was more illegible than darkest cloud
Upon the cheek of heaven; whene'er he look'd
Straight in my face, and I return'd that look,
His seem'd not bent on me, but scatter'd
To either hand, as if his darkling spirit
Scowl'd in the elements. Yet there was none
Could put him down when loudly sceptical,
But I myself. A hard and strenuous task!
For he was eloquence personified.

Now it must be acknowledged, to my grief,
That this same pedlar—this dark man of shawls,
Ribbons, and pocket napkins-he, I say,
Denied that primal fundamental truth,
The Fall of man! Yea, the validity

Of the old serpent's speech, the tree, the fruit,
The every thing concerning that great fall,
In which fell human kind! The man went on,
Selecting and refusing what he chose

Of all the sacred book. Samson's bold acts,
(The wonders of that age, the works of God!)
The jaw-bone of the ass,-the gates of Gaza,——
Even the three hundred foxes, he denied—
Terming them fables most impossible!
But what was worse,-proceeding, he denied
Atonement by the sacrifice of life,
Either in type or antitype, in words
Most dangerously soothing and persuasive.
Roused into opposition at this mode
Of speech, so full of oleaginiousness,

Yet sapping the foundation of the structure
On which so many human hopes are hung,
It did remind me even of a pillar

Of pyramidal form, which I had seen
Within the lobby of that noble peer,
The Earl of Lonsdale. On the right hand side,
As entering from the door, there doth it stand
For hanging hats upon. Not unapplausive
Have I beheld it cover'd o'er with hats.
Apt simile in dissimilitude

Of that most noble fabric, which I have
In majesty of matter and of voice

Aroused me to defend. "Sir, hear me speak,"
(Now at that time my cheek was gently lean'd
On palm of my left hand; my right one moving
Backwards and forwards with decisive motion,)—
"Sir, hear me speak. Will you unblushingly
Stretch your weak hand to sap the mighty fabric,
On which hang millions all proleptical

Of everlasting life? That glorious structure,
Rear'd at the fount of Mercy, by degrees
From the first moment that old Time began
His random, erring, and oblivious course?
Forbid it, Heaven! Forbid it Thou who framed
The universe and all that it contains,
As well as soul of this insidious pedlar,
Aberrant as his vision! O, forbid

That one stone-one small pin-the most minute,
Should from that sacred structure e'er be taken,
Else then 'tis no more perfect. Once begun
The guilty spoliation, then each knave
May filch a part till that immortal tower
Of refuge and of strength,-our polar star,
Our beacon of Eternity, shall fall
And crumble into rubbish. Better were it
That thou defaced the rainbow, that bright pledge
Of God's forbearance. Rather go thou forth,
Unhinge this world, and toss her on the sun
A rolling, burning meteor. Blot the stars
From their celestial tenements, where they
Burn in their lambent glory. Stay the moon
Upon the verge of heaven, and muffle her
In hideous darkness. Nay, thou better hadst
Quench the sun's light, and rend existence up,
By throwing all the elements of God
In one occursion, one fermenting mass,
Than touch with hand unhallow'd, that strong tower,
Founded and rear'd upon the Holy Scriptures.
Wrest from us all we have-but leave us that!"

The spirit of the man was overcome,
It sunk before me like a mould of snow
Before the burning flame incipient.

He look'd three ways at once, then other three,
Which did make six; and three, and three, and three,
(Which, as I reckon, made fifteen in all,)
So many ways did that o'er-master'd pedlar
Look in one moment's space. Then did he give
Three hems most audible, which, to mine ear
As plainly said as English tongue could say,
"I'm conquer'd! I'm defeated! and I yield,
And bow before the majesty of Truth!"

He went away-he gave his pack one hitch
Up on his stooping shoulders; then with gait
Of peddling uniformity, and ell

In both his hands held firm across that part
Of man's elongated and stately form

In horses call'd the rump, he trudged him on,
Whistling a measure most iniquitous.

I was amaz'd; yet could not choose but smile
At this defeated pedlar's consecution;
And thus said to myself, my left cheek still
Leaning upon my palm, mine eye the while
Following that wayward and noctiferous man:

"Ay, go thy ways! Enjoy thy perverse creed, If any joy its latitude contains!

How happy mightst thou be through these thy rounds
Of nature's varied beauties, wouldst thou view
Them with rejoicing and unjaundiced eye!
The beauteous, the sublime, lie all before thee;
Luxuriant valleys, lakes, and flowing streams,
And mountains that wage everlasting war
With heaven's own elemental hosts, array'd
In hoary vapours and majestic storms.
What lovely contrasts! From the verdant banks
Of Derwent, and the depths of Borrowdale,
Loweswater, Ennerdale, with Buttermere
And Skiddaw's grisly cliffs. Yet, what to thee
Are all these glimpses of divinity

Shining on Nature's breast? Nay, what to thee
The human form divine? The form of man,
Commanding, yet benign? Or, what the bloom
Of maiden in her prime, the rosy cheek,
The bright blue laughing eye of Cumberland,
Loveliest of England's maids? What all to thee,
Who, through thy darkling and dissociate creed,
And triple vision, with distorted view,

Look'st on thy Maker's glorious handywork,
And moral dignity of human kind!

-Even go thy ways! But, when thou com'st at last,
To look across that dark and gloomy vale
Where brood the shadows and the hues of death,
And see'st no light but that aberrant meteor
Glimmering like glow-worm's unsubstantial light
From thy good works, in which thou put'st thy trust,
Unhappy man! then, woe's my heart for thee !"

LITERARY AND SCIENTIFIC SOCIETIES OF EDINBURGH.

THE ROYAL SOCIETY.

Monday, 15th March. PROFESSOR RUSSELL in the Chair. Present,-Professors Wallace and Christison; Drs Gre gory, Knox, and Borthwick ;, James Robison, ——— Gerdon, &c. &c. Esquires.

DR KNOX concluded his paper on Hermaphroditical appearances in the Mamalia.

Professor CHRISTISON read a paper, which he intimated to the Society was the first of a series of experimental essays on the physiology of the blood and respiration. The only order of delivery he could prescribe for these papers, was that which the progress of his experiments might suggest The present communication related to the much-agitated question, whether the change effected upon the blood in its transmission from the veins to the arteries, was susceptible of explanation upon chemical principles alone; or whether the additional aid of some vital process must be assumed in order to account for it? Priestley, Girtanner, Berthollet, and other physiologists, had shown that venous blood, agitated in contact with atmospheric air, assumed the bright arterial red; that oxygen disappears, and carbonic acid is formed, during the process-in short, that the same effects are produced as by the process of respiration in the living body. But the correctness of their experiments and inferences had lately been called in question by Dr Davy, who maintains that no change is effected in the colour of the blood; that the change produced in the composition of the air, is the result of incipient putrefaction; and that in experiments instituted by himself, with blood recently drawn from a vein, no change had taken place. Dr Chris tison had been induced, by this statement of Dr Davy, to repeat the experiment with the utmost care and nicety of which he was capable; and his conviction was, that the change from venous to arterial blood is effected by mere mechanical agitation of the fluid, in conjunction with atmospheric air, after being drawn from the body, as com pletely as if subjected to the influence of the air inhaled during the process of respiration in the human frame. Dr C. then proceeded to detail the nature of his experiments, premising that the operator required to be on his guard against deceptive results, proceeding from two different causes. In the first place, in some states of the system, the venous blood was found of such a bright red as to be with difficulty discernible from the arterial. He had known cases where

took it into their heads to vociferate loudly for him; and Vandenhoff, of course, came forward to assure them, that

it was one of the happiest moments of his life, and that
he would never forget them. We should have liked him

better, had he expressed himself somewhat to the follow-
ing effect:-" Ladies and Gentlemen, What the devil is
it you mean? Here I have been playing for the last six
weeks to empty benches, and have been getting myself
ever and anon cut up by some of your best critics; and
going to rid you of my presence.
now you seem all like to break your hearts, because I am
I wish to heaven, La-
dies and Gentlemen, you would be a little more consist-
Either come and see me when I am here, or let me
go away without making a mockery of me in this fashion.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am your very obedient humble
servant; but catch me visiting Edinburgh again in a
hurry."Whatever Vandenhoff said, we know he felt
thus. For ourselves, however, we wish to part friends
with him. Set aside Kean, Young, Macready, Charles

ent.

Kemble, and perhaps Warde, and we believe Vandenhoff

to be the best tragedian we have. If he be not content with this praise, we cannot help it. We shall be glad to see him here again at a future opportunity, when we may possibly say more of him.

Miss Fanny Ayton sang and acted to us for three eventhis week. On the whole, we have been disappointed in her. Her style is essentially Italian, or we should rather say foreign, for she strikes us as a little Frenchified also; and, consequently, she is somewhat out of her element in English opera. We do not precisely know, either, why this should be, for Caradori's Polly and Rosetta were exquisite; but Miss Ayton must in every re She has a good, clear, spect rank much below Caradori. flexible voice, which has been carefully cultivated; but it is deficient in richness of tone and variety of expression. Her acting is poor, because it is apparently heartless ;there is none of the energy and sincerity of true feeling about it. We think Miss Ayton any thing but improved

since she was last here. The houses she drew were indifferent.

On Thursday evening, Mr Wilson, a native of Edinburgh, and a gentleman who has already distinguished himself at the Professional Concerts here and elsewhere, made his first appearance on the stage, in the character of Henry Bertram. He was very enthusiastically received, and had evidently a number of warm friends in the pit. In the course of the evening, he sang four songs, all of which were encored. Mr Wilson has a clear powerful voice, and a distinctness of articulation particularly well adapted for stage singing. As an actor, he has, of course, much yet to learn; and probably never expects to rise very high in that department of the profession. But his vocal powers, if carefully cultivated, will carry him successfully through. He reminded us in some respects of Sinclair, and is already decidedly superior to Thorne, or any singer we ever remember to have had resident here. Of what we may consider his faults and imperfections, we shall not at present speak, being always willing to treat a debutant leniently. One thing, however, we must ask, where did he get his boots and his white inexpressibles?

the surgeon, on opening a vein, had been led for some moments, by the appearance of the blood, to fear that he had by mistake opened an artery. When the blood was in this state, it was evident that little change in the colour of the blood or composition of the air could be expected. In the second place, in the blood of persons labouring under certain disorders, the colouring bore an unduly small proportion to the serous matter. In such cases, the change effected in the composition of the air, would necessarily be so small as to be apt to escape detection, unless very nicely measured. He mentioned these circumstances to show that the failure of one, or even more experiments, was not fatal to the principle he maintained. His first care was to procure a vessel, in which all ingress of the external air could be prevented, and the quantity left in contact with the blood before and after agitation accurately ascertained. The blood was obtained so as to avoid as much as possible all previous contact with the atmosphere, by allowing it to flow in a full stream into a bottle, which was closely stopped as soon

as full, with a grooved stopper. Into this bottle several small pieces of lead had been previously introduced, as nuclei

round which the fibrin might collect, and thus be separated

from the colouring matter and serum. The colouring matter and serum, thus prepared, were then transferred to the vessel above-mentioned, between one hour and three hours after the blood was drawn; and care was taken to admit

the least possible contact with the external atmosphere. As soon as the due proportions of blood and air were in the vessel, its aperture was closed, and the agitation commenced. Care was also taken to keep the blood-vessel at the temper-ings ature of the room in which the experiment was conducted, lest the expansion or contraction of the volume of air within, should affect the application of the method by which it was poposed to ascertain whether it were diminished in bulk. After agitating the vessel for some time, the blood, from a dark purple hue, assumed the bright arterial red. The application of a curved glass tube, opening under a graduated tube which was filled with air, and vested in a saucer of coloured water, showed by the ascent of the fluid into the tube, on opening the stop-cock of the bottle, that the volume of the internal atmosphere had diminished during the process by which the colour of the blood was changed. Afterwards, by a particular contrivance, the internal air was expelled from the vessel, and received under mercury in one of the receivers usually employed for that purpose; it was found, by the application of chemical tests, that the quantity of azote remained unaffected, that the oxygen had been diminished, and a quantity of carbonic acid gas had been formed; but that the carbonic acid did not nearly equal the oxygen which had disappeared, because carbonic acid being very soluble in serum, the greater part of what was formed was absorbed. It would appear from these statements, Dr C. continued, that the resuit of his experiments differed materially from that announced by Dr Davy. The absorption of oxygen by ten cubic inches of venous blood, varied in different experiments from about half a cubic inch to nearly a cubic inch and a half. At the close of his paper, Dr C. repeated his experiment before the Society. He pointed out that the transition of the blood from purple to bright red was not caused, as Dr Davy alleged, by the formation of air-bubbles, and the consequent greater diffusion of the colouring matter; for it extended, after the vessel had remained at rest, to the lower portion of the air-vessel, where there was no admixture of air-bubbles with the fluid.

[ERRATUM. We are requested by Mr James Wilson, to correct an error, which inadvertently crept into our report of his paper on the American Grouse, read before the Wernerian Society. At p. 153 of the present volume, col. 2, 1. 17, Mr Wilson is made to say Ptarmigans seem to prefer comparatively temperate climates." Mr Wilson's statement was,-" Ptarmigans seem to prefer in comparatively temperate climates, such as that of Scotland, the bare and stony sides and summits of the highest mountains; but under the rigorous temperature of Greenland, and the most northern parts of North America, they are chiefly found in the vicinity of the sea-shore, by the banks of rivers, and among the willow and other copse-woods of the lower and more sheltered vales."]

THE DRAMA.

SINCE We last wrote, certain occurrences have taken place in the dramatic world, which we must not allow to pass unchronicled. Vandenhoff took his leave of us in the character of Damon. It is the best part he plays, and ought to have been performed at an earlier period of his Engagement. On the fall of the curtain, the audience

Mrs Henry Siddons, previous to her final retirement from the stage, is about to appear in five of her favourite characters, commencing to-night with the part of Julia Melville, in "The Rivals." Little more than a week has elapsed, since she formed this resolution,-the uncertain state of her health having led her to fear that the exertion might be too much for her. We rejoice, however, that she is now so convalescent, as to be able to present herself once more to the Edinburgh public. We have, for some time back, intended to pay a tribute to the well-merited success which has attended Mrs Siddons's theatrical career. When we see before us an actor or actress, in the heyday of health and popularity, we are too apt to forget how much of amusement and delight we owe to the ex

ertion of their talents; and selfishly availing ourselves of it all, enjoy it in silence, and seek to display our own ingenuity, by the discovery of faults, real or imaginary. But when the irrevocabile tempus has flown past, bringing change and absence upon its wings, it is then we come to know how much we have lost; and a pang of regret arises within us, that in a light and careless mood we should have ever spoken harshly, or wounded the feelings, of one, whose genius was in former days so fruitful a source of our own pleasures. It is thus that, at the present moment, we are inclined to think of Mrs Henry Siddons. A long line of beautiful representations crowd upon our memory, in all of which we see the features of her truly graceful and feminine mind strongly stamped; and, in the trite but touching language of Hamlet, we begin to doubt whether we shall ever "look upon her like again." One thing we do not hesitate to say, that we are not aware of ever having seen upon the stage, one who united so much the elegance and refinement of the lady, with the accomplishments of the actress. Do not let it be supposed that this is trifling praise. Our interpretation of the word lady, implies the presence of a thousand nice and delicate shades of character, which are too apt to disappear, in a profession so much exposed to public gaze as that of the stage, but which, when left, cast a lustre around the individual, which nothing else could give. It is impossible to describe the effect produced by polished manners; but it is felt, even by the vulgarest. Nor was it in this respect alone, that Mrs Siddons excelled; her histrionic powers have rarely been surpassed, and not often equalled. We ask any of our readers to recall to their recollection the most celebrated actresses whom they have seen, both in comedy and tragedy, and we are satisfied they will be prepared to own, that Mrs Siddons keeps her ground beside the best of them. Stars rose in the dramatic hemisphere, which for a time made a greater noise, and seemed to burn with a stronger light, but which, when fairly brought into comparison with the lady of whom we speak, outshone her not. Mrs Siddons never had an opportunity of winning for herself a metropolitan reputation; but this cannot alter the fact, that there is not in London at this moment, nor has there been for many years, an actress to be named beside her. We shall see her take her final leave of us with many feelings of deep regret; and can only hope, that though her retirement from public life be a serious loss to us, it will be a source of increased health, serenity, and happiness to her. The Caledonian Theatre has not been particularly well attended since it re-opened, and we suspect Mr Bass will not find the speculation a very profitable one. The truth is, as we have more than once said before, Edinburgh cannot, or will not, support two theatres at one and the same time. Were the Caledonian Theatre to open only when the Theatre Royal was closed, it might succeed, but not other ways. Nay, we go farther, and say that we should not wish it to succeed when the Theatre Royal is open; for, in that case, the latter would be more than half deserted, and the manager would be obliged to reduce his prices, and consequently to deteriorate the character of his performances, because he could then only engage inferior actors at lower salaries. If the public of Edinburgh would fill two theatres at once, we should be very glad; but as they never have done so, we stand by the Theatre Royal until we see a better. Certain of the newspaper writers, who proceed upon no steady principle in their dramatic criticisms, have been puffing the Caledonian a good deal of late. Not that we object to give this establishment all the praise it is fairly entitled to; but let that praise be judicious and discriminating, and do not let it seem to imply that the Theatre Royal, since the opening of its rival at the head of Leith-walk, must 66 pale its ineffectual fire." We would particularly caution the proprietors of one newspaper, the Editor of which knows something of dramatic matters, not to allow gentlemen to write criticisms for them who are totally unfit for the

task. The Editor of that paper will also seriously endanger his reputation if he gives his imprimatur to many assertions like the following:-" Mrs Cummins" (the chief female singer at the Caledonian) " is possessed of a beautiful voice, a chaste and simple style, and a great deal of feeling." Mrs Cummins possesses a well-cultivated voice; but we have seldom heard an individual so entirely destitute of animation, so completely sleepy in her manner both of acting and singing, as she is. Or again,—“ Mr Wilkins and Mrs Archibald particularly distinguished themselves by a vein of rich and chaste humour." Any body who understands what "rich and chaste humour" means, knows that the style of Mr Wilkins and Mrs Archibald is as far removed from it as can well be conceived. We refrain from mentioning farther enormities committed by this writer, and should not have alluded to him at all, had he not, in his zeal for the Caledonian Theatre, taken upon him to read us a lecture of a very suspicious kind, wherein he puts words in our mouth that we never used; and, what is worse, gives his readers the impression that we did use them; and wherein, moreover, he is obliging enough to insinuate, that unless we agree with him regarding the Caledonian Theatre, we are in all probability sacrificing our own judgment, in order to please the management of the Theatre Royal. We could get into a considerable passion at the impertinence of this insinuation, did we not feel obliged to hold our sides with laughter, at the bare idea of OLD CERBERUS writing to please any mortal being but himself. What say you, Mr Murray ?—are we a very gentle and obedient animal, or have we a will of our own, think you? Let the Contributor to the Weekly Journal thank his stars that we are not disposed to argue with him, or with any newspaper, else we should have given him such a shake, that he would not have been able to crawl down to the Caledonian Theatre for the next month, and when he did, he would have been so much altered, that neither his friends Mr Wilkins nor Mrs Archibald would have known him again. -All that need be said of the Caledonian Theatre at present, was said in the LITERARY JOURNAL last Saturday;— it has an excellent orchestra, and one or two good singers; but the acting is very mediocre, and the things acted, as far as we have seen, are exceedingly dull. We certainly, therefore, shall not follow in the footsteps of certain wiseacres, and bestow upon it an egregious puff," to the detriment of the Theatre Royal."

Old Cerberus

LITERARY CHIT-CHAT AND VARIETIES.

NIEBUHR'S ROMAN HISTORY.-Our readers will hear with plessure, that since we intimated the destruction of Niebuhr's house and manuscripts by fire at Bonn, we have learned, by a letter from that city, that though the MS. of the third volume of his Roman History was amissing for several days, and was supposed to have shared in the general conflagration, it has, however, been since found unioju. red. The reported loss of so valuable a work occasioned much dis tress among the admirers of the distinguished historian, and we are happy to put them now in possession of the true state of matters.

It is reported that Lady Byron is about to publish a reply to the Memoirs of Mr Moore, vindicating her family from any undue interference in the conjugal differences which existed between herself and

her late Lord.

The accomplished sister of Sir Thomas Lawrence kept a regular Diary of all the leading events and occurrences relating to her brother, during many years, including their private correspondence. These documents, together with his letters from France, Italy, Germany, and the Low Countries, principally relating to works of art, are deposited by the family with Mr Campbell, his Biographer, and are said to be highly interesting.

The Life and Correspondence of Admiral Lord Rodney is in the press.

The Game of Life, by Leitch Ritchie, author of " Tales and Confessions," is announced.

Ranulph de Rohais, a Romance of the 12th century, by the Au thor of "Tales of a Voyager to the Arctic Ocean," is in preparation. The Village and Cottage Florist's Directory, by James Main, A.L-S

will speedily appear.

Mr Woodford's Elements of the Latin Language, Part First, will appear in a few days.

[ocr errors]
« 上一頁繼續 »