Imágenes de páginas

not swallow the slightest morsel ; even was very unpleasant and painful while the tase of the food created a nausea it lasted, and frightened some of the and disgust. One or two guides ate guides. A very small quantity was a very little ; the rest could not at- sufficient to satisfy our thirst, for nine tempt to do so. I had provided a of us were perfectly satisfied with the bottle of champaigne, being desirous contents of one bottle, and happily its to see how this wine would be affect- unpleasant effects were of short dura

ed by the rarity of the air. I also tion. The most peculiar sensation * wished to drink to the prosperity of which all have felt who have gained

the inhabitants of the world below this great height, arises from the awme, for I could believe that there ful stillness which reigns almost unwere no human beings so elevated as broken even by the voice of those we were at that moment. The wire speaking to one another, for its feeble being removed, and the string cut, the sound can hardly be heard. It weighs cork flew out to a great distance, but deeply upon the mind, with a power, the noise could hardly be heard. The the effect of which it is impossible to wine rolled out in the most luxuriant describe. I also experienced the foam, frothing to the very last drop, sensation of lightness of body, of and we all drank of it with zest. which Captain Sherwill has given a But not three minutes had elapsed, description in the following words : when repentance and pain followed; “It appeared as if I could have passfor the rapid escape of the fixed aired the blade of a knife under the sole which it still contained, produced a of my shoes, or between them and the choking and stilling sensation, which ice on which I stood !”


THE melancholy details of Mr. and, as the faults, therefore, which Neele's death were given at large in we may discover in him, cannot affect the newspapers of the day, and we his memory or wound the feelings of have no wish to dwell on so painful a his surviving friends, we shall make subject. The evidence of insanity no apology for pointing them out as produced on the inquest was abun- friendly hints to that numerous and dantly sufficient, though little light interesting class of which he was an was thrown upon the causes that led unfortunate member. to the state of mind which preceded It is commonly said by those who his suicide. Indeed, there seems no wish to express a general sentiment of reason to suppose that there was any admiration for a writer, subject to a thing peculiar in the case of Mr. large qualification, that he had much Neele. Private distresses, (except genius but no taste. In nine cases imaginary ones,) so far as we can out of ten, we think this phrase conlearn, had no concern in his aberra- taiss a very imperfect explanation of tions. He was esteemed, loved, and what the actual defect in the mind outwardly prosperous. His history is spoken of is, or even of the meaning that of a class; and it is in the peru- which the speaker intends to convey ; sal of his writinys, not in the report of and, what is worse, the use of it leads an inquest, that we may expect to to very dangerous practical consefind the key to anything mysterious quences. in bis life.

The world conceiving that the geWe think we can trace the unfortu- nius of such men is answerable for all nate turn which his mind took to pe- their excesses, and that they want culiarities in the constitution of that another faculty to rein it in, naturally mind, arising from circumstances in a becomes impatient and disregardful of great measure independent of himself; a faculty which has so little power of self-management. And the men quiring that force and expression of themselves, on the other hand, con- which it was capable. His talent, scious that the faculty within them is genius, or whatever it may be called, a good faculty, and most good when existed in loose, detached fragments; most energetic, as naturally learn to it is nowhere fixed and concentrated. trample on all the commonplace criti. He was capable of striking out very ciscus upon their style and thoughts, fine sparks, of sending off a successto the reasonableness of which, nerer- ful cracker, or, even now and then, a theless, their conscience more than tolerable rocket; but to keep alive a half assents, because they are built steady, upflickering, Vestal flame in upon an hypothesis of which they his mind, which should guide others cannot for a moment acknowledge the by its light, and refresh himself by its justice.

warmth-for this he was insufficient. But, if either of these parties could He never can express an entire feeling he made to feel that these men, so far He is obliged to cut it into portions, from needing a new faculty to check and give us a morsel at a time. His what are called the flights of genius, views, in his lectures especially, somedo, on the contrary, most especially times appear too strongly expounded, want a power which shall give them and often set in phrases which the greater strength of wing, and which critics would condemn for being too shall enable them to fly further,-that, rash and unusual ; but a moment's rewhen they have obtained this power, flection convinces us, that the strength instead of becoming less daring, they only exceeds because it is not kept will become infinitely more daring, up, and that the phrases are only foolin a word, that they require it chiefly hardy because they rushed to the bai. because their genius, instead of being tle without friends, « like-armed," to too strong, is deficient in impetus and support them in Alank or rear. This momentuin :-if we could make this indicates a want, not of taste, but of doctrine prevalent, the public might that logical power which outwardly abandon that morbid distrust and ab- forms a writer's thoughts into a conhorrence of all high endowments position, wherein all the parts bear a which is so mischievous to those who perfect relation to each other, and to possess them, and so much more mis- the whole ; that composition itsell chievous to itself; and the persons being only the type and expression of we have been speaking of, instead of that inward coherency and subordinaholding cheap all hints for the cultiva- tion which exists between all the tion of their minds, would be urged parts of the mind from which those to value them by that very disposition thoughts have issued. This quality which has hitherto resisted them as (of which those formal persons in our plots for its own destruction.

day who think that logic consists in Now, that this is literally and truly the eternal use of syllogistic forms the case, we want no other evidence and dilemmas, and in the careful exthan the writings of Henry Neele, one clusion of everything that gives life of those authors who would be most or energy to a style, know just as hastily dismissed with the sentence, much as grammarians do of language, that he was a man of considerable that is to say, less than any other genius, but scarcely any taste. In the portion of mankind)—this quality, teeth of this dictum we will take up- which never has been prevalent, and on us to affirm, that every error to be never could be prevalent but in an found in his writings, (and, as we age when the imagination and feeling shall show presently, there was the were highly cultivated, -as, otherwise, tie of a common parentage between it would have nothing to work upon,these and the misfortunes of his life,) is to be seen manifested in the highest arose, not from his genius being too perfection in the writings of the old little restrained, but from its never ac- English poets and divines. In their

styles, which defy all artificial forts; and, when it fails, then ensues rules to stunt them in their growth, that sickness of the soul, that miserable orlop off their limbs, or strip “ mawkishness" which is so eloquentthem of their leaves, because there is ly described by Keats in the preface a living sap within the stout trunk to his “ Endymion. The degree in which must create for itself massive which it is experienced seems to be branches and an interminable foliage, in proportion to the genius of the sufwe at once perceive what necessity ferer. Chatterton had more of it there is that this power and its sister, than Neele, and Keats more of it than genius, should never be separated. Chatterton. Nor is this strange. Where the logical power exists with- The spirit of genius is eminently a out the vital power, there is dryness, combining spirit : it is always busily and coldness, and death. Where the hunting after connexions : in compovital power exists without the logical sitions, it loves long sentences and power, there is a struggle--a vain and abhors epigrams. To a mind in which hopeless struggle to express feelings this spirit exists, the consciousness which will not find language for them that it is deficient in the power of arselves. For (and it is to this point ranging and harmonizing the different we would particularly draw our read- elements of which it consists, that ers' attention, as being most connect- thoughts are every inoment flying off ed with the history we are comment- in a thousand directions from some ing on the case of the mere logician common centre to which they will not who is without genius, is very differ- return to explain the nature of their ent from that of the man of genius route, and how often they intersected without logic. The whole mind of each other,-must be agonizing to a the one is so darkened by forms that degree of which common-place perhe is quite unable to perceive the na- sons like ourselves can form no possiture of the country through which he ble conception. is moving, and consequently per- And is there no remedy for it? suades himself, good easy man, that Must the trophies of genius perishing he has travelled a vast distance, when, under its own glorious excitement be like Mrs. Hardcastle, he has been hung up forever, that worldly men merely driving round his own farm- may laugh and esult in their own house; and thus he may be one of the meanness and poverty? We trust happiest and most self-complacent of not. All the men we have described God's creatures. But the man of have been alike in one particular, begenius is in a very different predica- sides their genius : they have all ment. He never indulges in the wanted a calm, systematic, meditative pleasing delusion that he has been education. It is this which would speaking to the purpose when, like have conferred upon them that qualiGoodman Dull, he has not said one ty which, being absent, made those word all the while, for he has some- they possessed, not useless to the thing to say, something wbich he world, but cruelly painful to the posmust speak and cannot, something sessor. Many have fallen victims to which, finding no vent, turns inward the disease, who might have been and feeds upon the mind which pro- saved by this remedy ; and the fortuduced it. A thousand vague images nate few who have escaped, are not lie scattered in his fancy ; but he ungrateful for their rescue, or unmindcannot combine them into a picture: ful of its cause. glimpses of glorious visions appear to cha

! " That poets in their youth begin in gladness :" him ; but he cannot apprehend them : questionable shapes float by him ; but, for this they are indebted to the faculwhen he questions them, they will not ty divine, which invests everything it answer. The unassisted effort to touches with its own brilliancy and realise, is the most painful of all ef- loveliness ; but, if of any one of them

54 ATHENEUM, VOL. 1, 3d series.

it can be said, (and of whom can it good which they wrought to this one be said so truly as of the writer of the class of young poets,—the former line we are quoting,)

scale, heavily charged though it “ That thereof comes not in the end despon- might be, would instantly kick the dency and madness,"

beam. But, on this very account, ii this they owe in a very great measure is one of the very direst evils of these to the happy circumstances which en- Universities, that their doors are clasabled them to share in these early ad- ed against all such men upon whom vantages from which so many are ex- the gifts of fortune have not been becluded by poverty and mischance. stowed along with those of genius. We believe, that, if into one scale If the founders of the two magnificent were thrown all the mischiefs which institutions which are rising up in our Universities have produced by the London will lay this to beart, and encouragement of improper motives will really determine to make the ed to study, or of habits of extravagance ucation they communicate a means of and dissipation, and if to them were nursing instead of extinguishing geadded all the mischiefs which have nius, they will build for themselves been falsely laid to their charge by livelong monuments for which “kings," mistaken or malicious adversaries, and and greater than kings, “ might wish if into another scale were thrown the to die."

MADAME DE SÉVIGNÉ. As I am a sort of general reader of not being read in connexion with the polite literature, I have thought it dis- subjects to which they relate. graceful not to have read Madame de “It appears to me truly wise to Sévigné's Letters ; those letters so endure the tempest with resignation, celebrated for their wit, vivacity, ori- and to enjoy the calm when it pleases ginality, and the beauty of their style, heaven to restore it to us.” and which the reading world had been “God knows that I desire nothing unanimous in admiring during one more than his will; the futility of hundred and fisty years. But these wishes should always recal us to this letters composed nine volumes, closely submission.” printed ; and, as time was allotted to “ Those who are disposed to be me only in a definite portion, I was patient, and to take comfort, find reanot certain that I might not employ sons every where." it to greater advantage than in read- “Should we not be just, and place ing nine volumes of letters, even of ourselves in the situation of others?" acknowledged excellence. Years « Attention to what others say, and have passed over my head, my stock the presence of mind by which we of time is diminished, and, a month quickly comprehend and answer, are ago, I resolved to give a part of what principal objects in our intercourse remained to Madame de Sévigné's with the world.” Letters. I found in them all I ex- “We are more or less affected by pected, and much that I had not been great qualities, in proportion as we taught to expect ; for they appeared have more or less relation to to me as remarkable for the justness them." and propriety of the serious observa- “I am still alone, without being tions, as for the playfulness of fancy, dull. I have plenty of books, work, or the ease and elegance of their and fine weather ; these, with a little style. Of many examples found in reason, go a great way." support of this fact, I extract the fol- “ It seems to me that I have been lowing, though they will suffer from dragged, against my will, to the fatal period when old age must be endured; beautiful, of high birth, and possessI see it, I have attained it; and I ing high talents; yet she demands would, at least, contrive not to go be- nothing for herself, makes no claims. yond it, not advance in the road of in- There is not one line, in her thousand firmities, pain, loss of memory, dis- letters, which betrays a consciousness figurements, which are ready to lay of superiority ; on the contrary, she hold of me; and I hear a voice which evinces a degree of humility, which says, You must go on, in spite of might appear questionable, if we did yourself; or, if you will not, you must not know her to be totally free from die,' an alternative at which nature affectation. In principle she is firm; recoils. Such, however, is the fate in her intercourse with the world she of those who have reached a certain is conciliating. She considers what period; but a return to the will of is due to others, and frequently sacriGod, and to that universal law which fices her own comfort to contribute to is imposed upon us, restores reason to theirs. The religion of Madame de its place, and makes us call in patience Sévigné is submission to God, and her to our aid."

morality is justice, peace, and benevoIn reading the letters of Madame lence. She had a penetration which de Sévigné, I have never, for a mo- saw perfectly, a judgment which dement, lost sight of herself. In Paris, cided rightly, and a prudence which I have associated with her and her never went astray. friends : at the Rocks, I have walked But Madame de Sévigné, so just, with her in the woods ; in every 80 reasonable, in thought and in acplace, I have been with her when she tion, had one feeling which neither was writing to her daughter. So reason nor religion could control ; this strongly did I enter into her feelings, was her excessive love for her daughthat I wished her to join her daughter, ter ; a love which passed the bounds though I should thereby lose her ini- of maternal love, and for which, as mitable letters, which I would have there is no precedent, there is no doubled in number, had it been in my name. She lived but for her daughpower.

ter, and she died because she feared Madame de Sévigné was rich and her daughter would die.



AFTER Tommy Bodkin had heen youth, and that a master cannot be too working with me on the board for inuch on the head of his own business. more than four years in the capacity. It was in the pleasant month of of foreman, superintending the work- June, sometime, maybe six or eight shop department, together with the days, after the birth-day of our good conduct and conversation of Joe Bree- old king George the Third-for I reky, Walter Cuff, and Timothy Tape, collect the withering branches of lilymy three bounden apprentices, I oak, and flowers were still sticking thought I might lippen him awee, to up behind the signs, and ower the try his hand in the shaping line, es- lamp-posts,—that my respected acpecially with the clothes of such of quaintance and customer, Peter Farour customers as I knew were not rel, the baker, to whom I have made very nice, provided they got enough many a good suit of pepper-and-salt of cutting from the Manchester manu- clothes,—which be preferred from facture, and room to shake them- their not dirtying so easily with the selves in. The upshot, however, bakehouse-called in upon me, reproved to a moral certainty, that such questing me, in a very pressing mana length of tether is not chancey for ner, to take a pleasure ride up with

« AnteriorContinuar »