« AnteriorContinuar »
mass of our originals acquire little other distinction than is conferred by a Harlequin's cap and bells. The man who truly merits the appellation of Great, attains, indeed, to a superior elevation ; but it is only because he steadily eschews separation. His mind is formed by past time, as well as the tendencies of the multitude-his opinions are the very principles which guide and modify their hidden life, and he merely superadds an energy of Will. Dr. Chalmers possesses too much prudence to admit of his entirely cutting himself loose ; but he has never taken sufficient note of the progress of events; and his sentiments on all practical matters are marked, accordingly, by a tendency towards absolutism and mere fancifulness. There is an amusing naïveté in that announcement somewhere in the volume referred to, of the form of government which he considers the only tolerable one. He wishes a King upon the throne, and nobles around him, clad, we fancy, in mail jackets, and swelling with the virtues and charities of feudalism ; but this wish, ought, logically, to have been preceded by another,-the vain wish that societies remain permanently in that condition which could alone render the machinery possible. The day of feudalism is indeed past : its tournaments are now food for the romancers; and the body politic of Europe is throwing off its oppressive forms as an old shell. There were good feelings and virtuous men in these past ages; but the ages are themselves gone, and no theorist need expect to restore them—at least until the Reform Bill shall be accounted of less value than the ballad of Chevy Chace. Has Dr. Chal. mers fallen into the egregious blunder of imagining those social respects -those duties of the lower orders, and what else might be denominated the conservative sentimentalism of feudal times—to be the natural offspring of the heart and conscience of man? Does he not know that they were the produce and not the cause of that peculiar arrangement of political society, that they were the results of man's endeavours to be happy, however cloudy the vault above him—of his heart's struggles to alleviate the oppressions of the worst and best compacted tyranny the world ever saw, and to humanize rugged and barbarous force by initiat. ing it in kindness, and teaching it to feel ? To lament over the passing away of these sentiments is no task for a philosopher, and our country.. man should not have composed their elegy. It is vain to endeavour to revive them, as their materiel is worn out; and to regret their disappearance is unworthy, since it merely happened because society has advanced.
The Doctor, however, not only regrets those antiquated forms of social life, but alludes, with little ceremoniousness, and no forbearance or kindliness of feeling, to the attempts of modern nations to organize a new one; and certainly, if we were to quarrel with him seriously, this would be the point of our difference. Jonathan may abide a jibe, for he is stout and healthy, and now tolerably used to it; but we must pronounce it ungracious in the extreme, to refer, with a sneering lip, to the brave but unfortunate population of France, who have been twice afflicted by the terrible scourge of revolution. The safety of Britain, a safety which hung but upon the events of a few hours, may be a ground for our thankfulness, but it is none for despite of our neighbour; and, least of all, ought one sneering remark to have escaped from a theorist, whose panacea for the evils which afflict that country, appears to be a form of Government ; the materials of which do not exist within its boundaries ! In regard of their final settlement, let the Doctor be quite at ease.
We will not trust the formation of a constitution to him ; but we will trust it to that “moon-struck rabble.” If they have hitherto
been “ dancing round a May-pole" with apparent thoughtlessness, they will tire soon; and there are already symptoms that they are in quest of rest. In what political bed they will choose to repose, we will allow them to discover ;-in one thing we agree with the Doctor, and it is, that this bed is not their present one. How long, too, will the BURDEN of American civilization be misunderstood ? It is painful to find a man like Dr. Chalmers giving even an indirect countenance to the Halls and Trollopes, and other retailers of the flotsam and jetsam of the age. Is it of no moment with him, that in America no man is born to independence of good conduct ? Does the grand truth, which elsewhere appears so powerful over his mind, that Industry is the parent of Virtue, reconcile him nothing to a society where all must be industrious—to a society which permits of no aristocratic order of mendicants, which, as it can never have a Lucullus, will neither have an Augustus nor a Nero? Critics compare America with their ideal states, their cloud-land republics, and straight turn away, in sentimental squeamishness, from the contemplation of its rude virtues. Is it then only on this side of the Atlantic that the world is in a state of probation? Is it only here that we can tolerate imperfection or look forward for improvement? Legitimates ! your ingenuity will not all do! The third Rome is rising in the west. Her long shadow already reaches across the Ocean, “and obscures the splendour of your thrones !”
PHANTASMAGORJAN show of things, Where, in orations from the Woolsack, Of privy councils, princes, kings,
That make the ears of knaves and fools ache, Lords, Commons, macers, Speaker! Brougham's comminations thunder ; King's Bench, Old Bailey, and riff raff, Showing each foul abuse in Chancery, “ Dear damned enchanting town!* I quaff Till (while scar'd Lyndhurst brews an To you my midnight beaker.
answer) he “ THE Town, with three times three !" Strikes dumb the Lords with wonder! The Town
Where dandylings, baptized in ink, Where neither prose nor verse go down Find saving grace to write or think ;
Undrugg’d with Useful Knowledge ; Where many a peer pedantic, Where all mankind grow penny-wise, Lord of the Bedchamber, and Lord And, Stranded, prim Minerva plies Knows what's beside, sheathing his sword, Her distaff at King's College.
With pen in hand grows frantic.t
Show fight in the Court Magazine
Of powder (and pomatum;)
While theirdread sires, oppress'd with gout, Remitted, bail'd, or held in fee,
For tittle-tattle grope about,
And scandalum magnatum.
One vast Augean stable ; Where Nash's gate for cameleopards Crowds roaring forth with lungs of leather, Astonishes the bagshot shepherds,
As though Old Nick had call'd together To Smithfield market bound.
A Lower House in Babel!
My whisky-toddy pleased I drain
To drink your melioration ! While creeping things a mightier host And may the Bill soon lop away Their cunning nests, well feather’d, boast, Each rotten branch that forms to-day In Downing Street, Whitehall.
A by-word to the nation!
FUNERAL OF SIR WALTER SCOTT.
BY AN EYEWITNESS.
“ Och, hone a riel Och, hone a rie!"_GLENFINLAS.
Alas for Scotland ! Her highly gifted, her beloved, her idolized Sir Walter has yielded his mighty, his magic spirit into the hands of him who created it; and she, his hitherto proud mother, now weeps over the bereavement of her darling son, like Rachel refusing to be comforted ! Vain is it to remind her of the sad truth that his soul had been for some time so clouded by the premature advancement of the dark shadows of the Valley of Death, as to make it matter of Heaven's mercy that it has been at last removed from its earthly imprisonment. She can never view him as thus bereft of intellectual light. She can never think of him but as the living magician who so long held all her feelings under his control ; at the wave of whose wand she laughed or wept as he listed ; and who continued day after day to raise her name, coupled with his own, higher and higher among the civilized nations of this earth. Yet bitter as is this her present affliction, she is not altogether without a source of consolation. He has, it is true, terminated his earthly career, but he has left behind him a legacy to his grateful country of literary treasures, and of fame, which, defying the ravages of the worm, the moth, the rust of age, or the destructive tooth of time, must endure as long as any part of the world itself may endure in a state of intellectual civilization.
When we arrived at the ford, which gave its fancied name to the poet's dwelling, we found the silver Tweed sparkling merrily along as if all things were as they were wont to be. The young woods before us, and the towers, and gables, and pinnacles of the mansion were smiling beneath the mellowing rays of the September sun, as if unconscious that the master spirit which called them into being had for ever fled from them. The sound of wheels came on the ear at intervals, rushing from different directions, and indicating the frequent arrival of carriages; yet when we, availing ourselves of the open doors, had taken our well-known way through the garden, and passed beneath the Gothic screen that might have vied with the Beautiful Gate of the Temple itself, and on into the court-yard in front of the house, we were surprised to find it deserted and lonely. Before any one came to interrupt us, we had leisure to gaze around, and to wonder at the great growth of the trees and shrubs since we had last beheld them; and as we did so, the venerable shade of him who had last walked there with us, filled our imagination and our eyes, shifted with them as they shifted ; and as it glided around us, it recalled to our full hearts a thousand pleasing and touching recollections. But our dreams were at length abruptly broken, by the appearance of some of our acquaintances who issued from the house; and the sight of their weeds of wo immediately recalled our thoughts to the garb of grief which we also wore, and to the sad object of our present visit.
Passing through the Gothic hall, we met with no one till we entered the library, where we found a considerable circle of gentlemen already assembled. These were chiefly from the neighbouring districts; but there were a few whom we recognised as having come from Edinburgh and other places equally distant. Here our visions were too much broken in
upon by the’ appearance, and the frequent entrance of so many human beings, to permit us much indulgence in them. But still there were moments when we forgot that we were not alone ; and during these we wandered back to those happy days when we experienced the condescension, the kindness, and the unvarnished hospitality of him, who, more perhaps than any other human being, knew the grand secret of bringing down a great mind to the level of smaller intellects. Indeed this, which is with others a very important art, was with this great man a part of his very nature. It was this golden ingredient in the character of Sir Walter Scott that made him at all times the most entertaining, as well as the most instructive of hosts. How did all the Tales of our gifted Landlord, even those tales with which he seasoned our feast and light.. ened the passing hours, return upon us as memory became gradually roused and stimulated by the inanimate objects around us! Nay, by degrees, even the people in the room were forgotten, and our reverie ran on for a brief space of time in one unbroken thread. Obscured with. in the shadow of one of the book-cases, we remained ruminating as if we had been absolutely alone, until we were interrupted by a summons to the drawing-room, where certain refreshments were prepared for those who had any inclination to partake of them. But we must confess our natural antipathy to all such mournful feasts. We therefore declined to join in this; and after catching, as well as our position near the door allowed us to do, a few stray sentences of a prayer which was feelingly offered up by the parish clergyman, we became so oppressed by the heat of the room, that we ventured to steal away to enjoy the air in the porch.
That porch was soon tenanted in our imagination, by that venerable ideal image which we had been all this while courting to our side. With it we continued to hold sacred communion; with it we looked, as we had formerly done with the reality, on the effigy of Maida ;* and the harsh truth, that Maida's master was now as cold as Maida itself, went rudely home to our hearts. But footsteps came slowly and heavily treading through the small armoury. They were those of the servants of the deceased, who, with full eyes, and yet fuller hearts, came reverently bearing the body of him whose courteous welcome had made that very porch so cheerful to us. We were the only witnesses of this usually unheeded part of the funeral duties. Accident had given to us a privilege which was lost to the crowd within. We instinctively uncovered our heads, and stood subdued by an indescribable feeling of awe as the corpse was carried outwards; and we felt grateful, that it had thus fallen to our lot to behold the departure of these the honoured and precious remains of Sir Walter Scott, from the house of Abbotsford, where all his earthly affections had been centred; and which had so long been to him the source of so much innocent and laudable enjoyment, that it may be matter of speculation, whether the simple pleasures which he reaped in the construction of this house and place, were not greater than any he derived from the almost unparalleled celebrity of his name as an author. The coffin was plain and unpretending, covered with black cloth, and having an ordinary plate on it, with this inscription, “ Sir Walter Scott of Abbotsford, Bart., aged 62.”
« Alas !” said we, as we followed the precious casket across the court.yard ; "alas ! have these been the limits of so valuable a life? How many of his cotem
* A celebrated stag-hound, which Sir Walter Scott received from Glengarry.
poraries are here; men who were his companions at school ; men who have sat with him in boyhood, on the steps of stairs, or on walls, lis. tening to his tales of wonder and of interest, and who yet wear all the appearance of health, and strength, and activity, giving promise of years to come of extended and enjoyable existence; and that he should have been snatched from us at an age so comparatively early !"
Having followed the coffin until we saw it deposited in the hearse, which stood on the outside of the great gate of the court-yard, we felt ourselves unequal to returning into the apartment where the company were assembled; and we continued to loiter about, seeking for points of recollection which might strengthen the chain of association we wished to indulge in. Our attention was attracted, by observing the window of the study open, and we were led to look within, impelled by no idle or blamable curiosity, but rather like a pilgrim approaching the shrine where his warmest adoration has ever been paid. Our eyes penetrated the apartment with a chastened look, such as we should have used if the great magician himself had been seated in the chair of this his sacred penetralium. The different articles in the room seemed to remain much in the same places they occupied when we had last seen them. All the little circumstances attendant on our last visit to this sanctuary of the poet came crowding upon us. Thither Sir Walter had conducted us himself ; there he had acted the part of our cicerone with all his native wit and playfulness. His figure was in our eyes ; and his voice, nay, his very words were in our ears. But, alas ! the deep tones of the venerable old Principal Baird, whose voice was heard in earnest and impressive prayer, came upon us through an opposite door, from the library beyond ; and the affecting allusions which he uttered, again brought us back to the afflicting truth, that Sir Walter Scott was gone from us for ever!
The prayer was no sooner ended than the company began to issue from the house. The carriages had been previously assembled on the haugh below, and were so arranged there, that they drove up in a continued line; and as each passed the great gateway, it took up its own. ers and then proceeded. There certainly were not less than seventy gentlemen's carriages of all descriptions, two-wheeled as well as fourwheeled ; besides which there were a number of horsemen. The public road runs along the face of the hill, immediately above the house, in a direction from west to east ; and the avenue leading from the gate of the court-yard runs up the hill in a westerly direction, entering the public road so obliquely as to produce a very awkward turn for carriages going eastward towards Melrose. Until we had passed this point some little way we could form no notion of the extent of the procession ; but when we were thus enabled to form some judgment of it, we perceived that it had extended itself over about a mile of road.
Ere yet we had left the immediate vicinity of the house, we discovered a mournful group of women-servants weeping behind the hedge on our left, whither they had hurried to take their last look of that hearse which was carrying to the grave a kind and indulgent master, whose like they had no hope ever to look upon again. There was to us something peculiarly touching in the grief of this group, for there they stood isolated, as it were, in a sorrow, which, arising from so humble a source, bore ample testimony how well he had fulfilled even the minutest kindlinesses of life to all with whom circumstances had in any way brought him into contact. The elevation of the road on the hill-side was such as