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another more powerful enchantment prevailed over her. Her songs were now the gentle strains of the troubadours. She was less guarded too in securing a retreat, and seemed to rely upon my obedience to her imperious order not to advance. I obeyed with the submission of a young lover. She still wavered however in her opinion of my freedom to contract the vows of love, but it was too late—I saw my advantages, and pressed them at every interview. To secure these opportunities, love taught me to appear in the eyes of the father a more matured probationer of his convent, and he reported to his daughter what he termed my paroxysms; while she suppressed from him what she deemed my lucid intervals. This contest in her bosom undermined her health; from the blooming sportive nymph, she became the pale and woe-worn statue. For a long time I could obtain no sight of her, though I was incessantly in the laboratory. One day her father ran forth from the inner room, calling for help, and directing me to bring salts and smelling bottles. I rushed after him into those hallowed precincts, and stood in the chamber of my mistress. She had swooned under the operation of blood-letting, and the frightened professor directed me, as if I were a sexagenary dame, or bloodless minister of the harem, or unfeeling practitioner of midwifery, to support that pallid form, and to chafe her temples, while he excited animation in her yet unbeating heart. As soon as she returned to sense, she fixed her eyes upon her Orlando, whose own streamed with tears; a moment after the conscious blood rushed over her face and bosom: she drew around her what concealment she could, ordering me away; and I went, but the picture of that scene was for ever before me, and will remain indelibly in my memory. The father construed the emotions of his daughter into mere apprehensions of danger, and permitted me still to occupy the laboratory. A few days after this event the door once more opened, and my Angelica stood on the threshhold in a delightful hesitation, whether to advance or retreat. I supplicated hard for leave to approach, but she only blushed and withdrew, leaving the door unclosed. The temptation was irresistible. I again transgressed the limits prescribed to me. She was seated with a handkerchief to her face, in which she buried her laughing eyes, at the sight of my presumptuous entrance: that instant I was at her feet, covering the other hand with my caresses, in a very unphilosophic manner. I pass over the long, inebriating draughts of joy that we drained together, and shall merely record, that from that day my intrusion was not unfavoured by the fair one. She had made up her mind as to my intellects, for better or worse, and joined me in imposing upon the provost. It was in these hours of bliss that my venerable master fell so ill that nothing would content him but a final experiment upon the vitality of animals. I became enamoured of the project, and committed that heinous conspiracy against the life of my mistress's lap-dog, without once surmising its consequence. This relapse into theory renewed the alarms of Angelica ; she all but shuddered at the sight of me. In vain I pronounced the warmest professions of love, she but looked upon me with a gaze of despair, and trusted herself no longer in my presence. This separation I could not endure. One day, forgetting all respect for her anthority, I darted into the room, and seized the trembling fugitive in SEPT. 1826.
I left no argument untried to justify myself; I implored, vowed, wept, and became frantic to such a degree, that she was convinced of my rationality. Her love began to renew itself again in unequivocal expressions, when-all of a sudden, her father, who thought he had heard enough, burst from his concealment upon us, with a countenance inflamed by wrath. It was no time to stickle for mere honours. I avowed myself an apostate; renounced the statute, and proposed myself as a husband for his daughter. She joined me like any ally of my heart; but he pretended to be but the more convinced of my fitness for the professorship. At the sound of a catcall, in rushed two or three of his myrmidons, who disrobed me in a trice, and laced upon me that same strait garment which I had so often laced upon others. A monkish cell was assigned me, and the discipline regularly enforced; but nothing could reclaim me; the sight of my mistress, as she lay in my arms, was ever present to my view, and her last sweet confession sounded continually in my ears. vost began to despair of my embracing his orders, and fearing a visit from the chancellor, he used other means to effect a lasting separation between his daughter and me. What they were may be collected from the following note, put into my hand some six months after, on my liberation ; when my clothes, together with a good round sum of money, were delivered to me.
“Go, unhappy! I can endure your cries and groans no longer. Receive this small pittance from me, and forget Angelica, who has purchased your freedom by becoming the wife of another.”
Thenceforth the future was all to be every-day incident, without hope and without romance. I had no system to demonstrate, no order to uphold, no sweet contract to fulfil. I became, as Campbell has emphatically expressed it," a man without a plan.” This was not the sole effect of one great disappointment, for there were other passions, besides love, to propel me, even had that one been extinct; but it was the consequence of those early hallucinations which a false system of education had developed ; a kind of treacherous suggestions, which persuade man, that by the force of intellect he can sur-. mount all obstacles, remodel society, and perfectionize the worldthey desert him at the first trial, leaving him to unconquerable regret, at having trusted for a moment in the smooth seductive fallacy, which, like a cunning harlot, obtained such empire over his mind. Such has been the fate of an
GASTON DE BLONDEVILLE;
In the publication of this book, Mr. Colburn has not shown his accustomed tact. Though the taste for romance is gone by, a posthumous work of Mrs. Radcliffe, considered as a literary curiosity, had every prospect of success ; but the publisher has most injudiciously, as it strikes us, prefixed to Gaston de Blondeville a still greater literary curiosity in the shape of an essay on the life and
writings of its author. The reader finds the romance in this preliminary matter, and all that astonishment which should have been reserved for the adventures and incidents of the main work is exhausted by the superhuman flights of the introductory treatise in question. Having read this performance we are no longer in a condition to wonder at any thing, and go to the tale of the author of Udolpho, familiarized with outrages against reason, and surfeited with mysteries of the most perplexing and inexplicable kind. In thus throwing the principal object into shade, by the lavish magnificence of the porch through which we are ushered to it, Mr. Colburn has discovered a want of skill rarely ascribable to him. It is as if a cook were to give us a foretaste of the coming dinner at our luncheon, and that too with dishes of a superior savouriness—our appetite is thus too early satisfied, and we proceed to the main repast already satiated with its dainties. A judicious cuisinier like Colburn should have given us something plain and simple before the rich meal promised to us, and not a mass of green fat for lunch when we were to dine on turtle. Or to drop illustrations, essays on writings ought not to surpass the writings themselves in their own peculiar style of excellence, which is the fault we find with this essay before us, which contains more imagination, more superb language, and more mysteries than are to be found in the same given space in any of Mrs. Radcliffe's works. The author is obviously one of those gifted persons who are commonly said to have“ a great command of words.” “A great command of words,” like all other great commands, becomes a tyranny if the power be without responsibility; from the desirable restraining responsibility on a great command of words, a responsibility to reason, the author is entirely free, and the consequence is, that he is a perfect despot, who commits every species of outrage on his unresisting subjects, on the motion of whim, wantonness, or ostentation. Like most despots, he delights in being fine; and so that he is prodigiously grand, he cares not at what cost the grandeur is achieved. Troops of grenadier words he will have, dressed in handsome lines, and looking imposing and showy, but with what violence he presses them into his service, and at what expence of sense he puts them in array, he never stops to consider. He is the commander-in-chief of the vocabulary, and uncontrolled by any articles of reason; his pleasure being his only law, and print his only object. Like other despots, he has his favourites whom he uses for every purpose-dream, grandeur, and golden, with their relatives dreamy, grand, and gold, form his verbal court ; let him be where he may, he has got his dream, or his dreaminess, or his dreamy this or that; and there is grandeur, or something grand, and gold or golden. These are his words of worship, his quality, whose titles alone are supposed to command respect, and to qualify them for any station to which his excellency may appoint them—and his caprice, it must be confessed, is as unbounded as his power. From the common rules of composition, as from all other rules, our great commander of words is free, and as it is now time that we should come to examples, we shall give one illustrative of this assertion. Having combated the vulgar notion that Mrs. Radcliffe was the slave of her own terrors, he says“ Although Mrs. Radcliffe was, as far as possible, removed from the
slavery of superstitious fear, she took an interest in the work of composition, and was, for the time, completely absorbed in the conduct of her stories.”—(P. 8.)
That" Although," which is the chosen minister of inconsequence, has great force in this sentence. We are left to infer that it is something unusual for a person removed from the slavery of superstitious fear, to take an interest in the work of composition ! We must confess, however, that we have never observed any remarkable connexion between superstition and a delight in composition ; nor does it appear at all extraordinary to us, that people free from the influence of the one, should take a pleasure in the other. But an although” can work wonders under one who has “ a command of language.”. For example, the writer of this essay might with as much logic and propriety have observed, “ Although Mrs. Radcliffe was as far as possible removed from the slavery of superstitious fear, she had a good appetite for her dinner, and was for the time completely absorbed in the contents of her plate.” See how an
although can link up two things, which can by no human possibility have any thing to do with each other, provided we do but dismiss from our minds all kind of reference to things when dealing with words. We proceed to specimens of a different sort of power.
If," says the essayist, “in the mere perusal of novels we lose our painful sense of the realities of this unimaginable world, and delightedly participate in the sorrows, the joys, and the struggles of the persons; how far more intently must an authoress like Mrs. Radcliffe feel that outgoing of the heart hy which individuality is multiplied, and we seem to pass a hundred lives."-(P. 8.)
Mrs. Radcliffe must then have felt very old.
“ She spreads out many threads of sympathy, and lives along every line."-A life in the thread line!
Anon: in her works
“ There is a perpetual exercise of that plastic power which realizes the conceptions of the mind to itself, and gives back to it its own imaginations in clear dream' [we are never long without a dream] ' and solemn vision. How delightful to trace the dawnings of innocent love, like the coming on of spring, [of course]—to unveil the daily course of a peaceful life gliding on like smooth water, [original idea !]—to exhibit the passions in their high agitations and contests ; to devise generous self-sacrifice in heroic thought; to pour on the wearied and palpitating heart overflowing happiness; to throw the mind forward to advanced age, and through its (eye*) glass to take a mournful retrospect of departed joy, AND PENSIVELY UNDERSTAND A MILD AND TIMELY DECAY.”—(P. 9.)
We are very certain that the reader may throw his mind” backwards and forwards, without understanding, pensively or otherwise, one syllable of the author's meaning in the concluding clause, and that for a very simple reason, that he has none. “ The Spanish fleet you cannot see, because it is not yet in sight.”
* We have supplied eye, because we suppose that the reference must be to mind, which is allowed an eye; the only other substantive in the sentence is “ age," and as its glasses are commonly spectacles, we take it that the allusion is not to it.
There is a beautiful art in writing by which common things are sublimed to such a degree as to pass human comprehension. Of this the author of the essay before us is a complete master. Mrs. Radcliffe was in the habit of making memoranda of the impressions and events of the day. On the utility of memoranda our genius writes thus:
“ Such a habit, when it does not become too frequently retrospective, or ' sickly o'er' our employments with pale cast of thought,' tends to impart a unity to our intellectual being.”
Just now it was good “ to pass a hundred lives," and now we are to make memoranda, as the habit tends“ to impart a unity! Whence we are to infer that intellectual beings are commonly in want of unity. What is their condition of mind then ordinarily ?—the writer must know, it is clear, seeing that he provides a remedy for their infirmity. But he might just as well have written, that the habit of making memoranda “ tends to impart a fiddlestick to our intellectual being." He meant nothing by his unity. Words, words, words.
There is a habit in making phrases which tends to impart any thing but unity to our writing, and that is the habit of driving our substantives with a pair or even three adjectives in hand. It is charming to observe how our essayist couples them up, and bowls them down his sentences, neck or nothing. Here is an example—“ Something of the formality derived from education may be traced in her [Mrs. Radcliffe's] works, supplying a massive, but noble and definite framework for her sombre and heroic pictures."-(P.7.)
Here first he drives an unicorn ; massive is his leader, and he putsto noble and definite as wheelers to the substantive. Massive alone could not have dragged frame-work handsomely through the sentence, and so definite is brought to its assistance, with a but between them, whence we should suppose, did we not know the contrary, that things massive had not commonly the quality of being definite. Noble and definite, we must observe, are a bad pair ; they do not run well together. Sombre and heroic to the pictures are a better match.
The practice of giving every substantive as many adjectives as can be yoked to it, is so common, as it tends to impart a prolixity to articles, that it is scarcely worth noting in a performance which boasts 80 many specimens of original art.
In the following sentence there is in the commencement some ray light; but it ends like a firework with a bounce, an explosion which surprises our ears, and then we are left in the dark :
“She [Mrs. Radcliffe) occupied that middle region between the mighty dreams of heroic ages and the realities of our own, which remained to be possessed; filled it with goodly imagery, (so far, rather fine, but very well—now however comes the lang at the tail of the squib] and made it resonant with awful voices."—(P. 106.)
Of this region“ resonant with awful voices," no one, not even the discoverer himself, has an idea.
At what time of life should Mrs. Radcliffe's works be read ? That is the question, and here is the answer :
“Her works, in order to produce their greatest impression, should be read first, not in childhood, for which they are too substantial ;