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And he would as soon think of putting happiest example. The subject is inon band and cassock as of address teresting to the inost insensible reaing the reason instead of the fancy of der ; the language is some of the his readers. I say not this to disparage sweetest I have ever met with ; and the author of Waverley; by no means. the sentiments are of that deeply imHis line of writing may not admit of such pressive moral kind, pregnant with a proceeding. His talents may lie in feeling, simple, yet full of thought, another direction, and, powerful as composing a master-piece of its kind, they are, they may not be universal. which it is almost vain for me to recI merely wish to point out in what I ommend to imitation ; for it can conceive Washington Irving's superi- scarcely be imitated with success, perority to consist. He is certainly the haps by the author himself. The last only author I can now recollect, who, page or two where he speaks of “ the in the present day, largely intermin- sorrows for the dead,” are worthy of gles moral reflection with the poetry perpetual study and eternal rememof composition. This is the consum- brance. They are at once beautiful mation devoutly to be wished by rea- and sublime ; instructive and delightders, and devotedly to be sought after ful: To them I would chiefly point by writers. The author of the Sketch my reader's attention, as exhibiting Book is, in my opinion, a model for that that degree of reflection, and that meaclass of writers to whose works the sure of instruction, which I am anx multitude chiefly resorts for its mental ious to see all our general authors imrecreation, apprehensible by alnjost part to some portions of their writings. every age, sex, and condition, yet not I am not an admirer of didactic combeneath any. He unites much of the position ; but I confess it is not withsolid with more of the splendid ; a cer- out some compunction that I sacrifice tain degree of reflection with a greater my time to the perusal of works degree of imagination; considerable where the imagination alone is pampower and will to instruct, still more pered, and the reason altogether considerable power and will to de- starved. Idle meditation would be a light. But such unions are rare ; more profitable employment than such unions by which Nature sometimes reading. endeavours to make compensation for With these pre-dispositions in Mr. the myriads of fools whom she brings Irving's favour, and with these expecevery day into the world.
tations from his forthcoming work, How beautifully, for instance, does you may judge, my dear sir, of my the story of “ The Widow and her disappointment, when instead of the Son," in the Sketch Book, intervene qualities I have mentioned as raising between “ The Country Church," him so far above his cotemporaries, and « The Boar's Head Tavern!” I found little in his Tales of a TravelHow much sweet and unobtrusive ler, but the style, to admire. Here is wisdom is inculcated by the sketch of scarcely a gleam of his playful and 6 Westminster Abbey" and several Addisonian wit ; nothing of his vivid others in these volumes! How fre- delineation of character. But this is quently does the author lead us unwa- not the worst. The Tales of a Travrily into a train of reflection! and in eller are a number of short stories the midst of his liveliest stories how comprised in two volumes of about the often do we meet with sentences and same size as his former works. Not passages of gentle admonition or in- one of these stories is of the reflective structive remark, a maxim' or a moral, character. In not one of them does tending to make us better or wiser, the author indulge that fine strain of disclosing a new truth, or impressing sentiment and moral feeling which an old one !—but of this beautiful and makes his Sketch Book such a familymost praiseworthy introduction of treasure,-even for the space of an moral reflection into works of enter- ordinary paragraph. Some of the tainment, “ Rural Funerals” is the tales are to be sure of a serious nature; serious as any one of those eventually suffer by it. Irving will hundred thousand frightful little sto- now perhaps begin to “ write against ries of ghosts and Italian banditti that time” as others do, and destroy his appal the midnight milliner,--and own credit with his readers, as others just as worthy of any other reader's have done. Being myself a man of admiration. Except in beauty and no superfluous wealth, I shall certain. grace of language they are not a whitly reflect maturely before I give foursuperior to an equal number of pages and-twenty shillings for his next torn from the innumerable garbage- work, whatever it may be. And how novels which Paternoster pours upon does the interest of the public suffer? us every publishing week. It is curi. Why in this manner: the author, as I ous enough too, that the author in his may say,defrauds us of the deeper richpreface actually makes a boast of the es of his mind, putting us off with the To sound morality” inculcated by each dross which lies nearest the surface, of his stories; not by some of them, can be more easily gotten together, observe, but by each of them. Now and more readily delivered over to I beg leave to put the question to Mr. the task-master, his publisher. The Irving,– Where is the “ sound moral" tales of a Traveller seem to tell one of the following stories, viz. The more tales than the author would wish Great Unknown, The Hunting Din- to make public,-viz : that Geoffrey ner, The Adventure of my Uncle, Crayon knows something of “ The The Adventure of my Aunt, The Art of Bookmaking” beyond the Beld Dragoon, The German Student, mere theory. They bear unequivoThe Mysterious Picture, The Myste- cal marks of having been composed rious Stranger, i. e. all the stories of for Mr. Murray, and not for the pubPart I, except the last.) Is there one lic. Whilst reading them, I was perof the stories in Part III which con- petually haunted by a singular vision; tains more " sound morality” than I fancied that I saw the author at his banditti stories generally do? The writing-desk, armed with a goose-quill impression left on my mind by Mr. and other implements of literary hus. Irving's fascinating description of bandry, whilst the aforesaid eminent these heroic ruffians is rather in fa- bibliopolist stood at his elbow, jingling tour of robbing. I don't know but a purse of sovereigns from which a couthat if I possessed a good villainous ple descended into the author's pouch set of features, and the tact of dress- according as he finished every page of ing myself point device in the “ rich foolscap. Hasty composition is writ. and picturesque jackets and breeches” ten in palpable yet invisible letters of these Italian cut-throats, I should on the face of the whole work. The be tempted into the romance of taking subjects chosen are most of them porses amongst the Abruzzi moun- common-place; and the manner of tains, were it for nothing but to pick treating them is not very original. up some of that “ sound morality” There is in these volumes, as I have which Mr. Irving says is to be found said, nothing of that sweet and solemn there. But to be serious : it will be reflection, no traces of that fine rich very evident to all who read these vein of melancholy meditation, which volumes, that in the two parts I have threw such an air of interest over his specified (i. e. half the book), the first and best work, which infused morality is either evil or exception- such a portion of moral health into able.
the public constitution.* Yes, there I have reason to believe that Mr. is one passage of this nature, and it Irving received a very liberal sum from his publisher for this work ; and * It is ungenerous I acknowledge, but I canoot if this be really the case I am sorry help wishing that the author of the Sketch Bast for it. Should I be asked wherefore bad remained a little longer under the pressure al
that misfortune (whatever it may have beco I answer ; that (not to speak of fame)
which seemed to have dictated those pathetic de it is much to be feared his own inter
deeply-affecting little stories, that form the primer est, as well as that of the public, will
pal charm of his maiden work.
is the best in the whole work. It is honey," cried an Irish captain of drathe description of a wild and reck- goons, “ if it's ghosts you want, you less youth who returns, after many shall have a whole regiment of them. wanderings, to visit the grave of the And since these gentlemen have given only being he had loved on earth, his the adventures of their uncles and mother. Geoffrey Crayon wrote this aunts, faith and I'll even give you a passage. We may perceive, also, chapter out of my own family histraces of the other end of his pencil tory." To be sure this officer had the in the humourous Dutch stories which ill-luck to have been born in the same form part IV. of his collection. The country with Burke, Sheridan, and pun has some truth in it which asserts Grattan ; he was, it must be confessthat Mr. Irving is at home whenever ed-an Irishman; and it is past doubt he gets among his native scenes and that Irishmen in general can never fellow countrymen. Though even in wholly divest themselves of a certain this part the touches of humour are mellifluous elongation of tone called the fewer and less powerful than of old ; brogue,nor perhaps of a greater breadth faint flashes of that merriment which of pronunciation than our English were wont to set his readers in a roar. nicety of ear can digest ; but although Rip Van Winkle and Sleepy Hollow my experience has lain pretty largely are stories beyond the inspiration of amongst gentlemen of that nation, I Albemarle-street. Of the remaining must in justice say that I never yet Tales in these volumes, the author of met with one whose idiom in any degree Bracebridge-hall may have written approached the plebeian model here some,—and any other “ gentleman of brought before us. Mr. Irving judgthe press” (only borrowing Mr. Ir. ing probably from the “ rascal few" ving's easiness and grace of language) whom crime or vagabondism, has driven might have written the rest. One or to his country, that common refugium two Americanisms, and a general dearth peccatorum, conceives it necessary to of those peculiar beauties in thought make an Irish gentleman express himand expression which overspread his self like an Irish American ; or performer works, indicate the same neg. haps he has taken Foigard and Macligence and haste which I have re- morris for his beau-ideal. To me, marked as comparatively distinguish- who have kept better company than ing these volumes. Ai least ì had Mr. Irving probably met with in Hirather impute these faults to those berno-America, his delineation of an causes than to a mind worn out, or a Irish gentleman, as we must presume genius broken down. The author every dragoon-officer to be, appears may possibly have written this work offensively unnatural. Being moreat the feet of Fame, not under the over put forth as a general charactereye of Mammon; but if so-Fare- istic description (which, with Mr. well! his occupation's gone! Geof. Irving's seal to it, must necessarily frey Crayon was Mr. Irving, but Mr. have its influence on foreign opinion), Irving is not Geoffrey Crayon. the gentry of that nation cannot but
As to delineation of character, I consider it as an insult and an injustice could scarcely persuade myself that which the ignorance that dictated it he who drew the admirable portrait can alone excuse. of Master Simon could err so lamenta- In the L'Envoy to the Sketch Book bly as our author has, in attempting to Mr. Irving speaks of the contrariety depict several miniatures in the pre- of excellent counsel” which had being sent volumes. A worthy fox-hunt- given him by his critics. « One kinding old baronet” tells a most roman- ly advised him to avoid the ludicrous, tic love-tale, with all the sensibility of another to shun the pathetic." If the a disciple of Della Crusca, and an offi- turn of an author's genius is to be decer of British dragoons is made to termined from the line of writi speak in the follow Tyle, so verslich he seems most to indulp characteristic of the
is certainly the reigning men: “Oh! if it's
sing's mind. Brace
Hall, much and the best part of the Sketch Book ? He would thus please Tales of a Traveller, are written in both parties, instead of neither. the humorous vein. On the other To conclude: it is an usual comhand, if the turn of genius is to be es- plaint with the authors of one popular timated by the felicity of execution, work that their succeeding efforts are we should perhaps say that our au- ungraciously received by the public; thor's forte was the pathetic. But in but the inferiority of the Tales of a truth, the fine melancholy shade which Traveller to Mr. Irving's preceding was thrown over the Sketch Book works is so palpable, that I am sure seems to have been only the effect of he himself must acknowledge the sorrow's passing cloud,--and to have sentence that condemns it as unwor. past with it. Could not Mr. Irving thy of his talents to be just. manage to be humorous and pathetic
I am, &c. &c. at the same time, and give us another
I ET your philosophical contribu- fore their usual rising time, to re-con
tors fix the cause, I content my- and polish the long-balanced funeral self with asserting the fact, that in oration. These were the symptoms every considerable town except Dub- down to half-past seven o'clock; but lin, where I have yet sojourned, prac- lo ! at or about that hour, forth rushes tical hoax seems to be the esteemed the town-crier, without a hat, his face relaxation of gentlemen at large of the pale, his looks wild, his gesticulation middle rank, and men of business and vehement, and his voice choked with profession, whose facile method of de- precipitancy; and he rings me his spatch, or whose waste time, allows bell at every corner, and endeavours them the primary means for its indul- to pronounce the following:-“ By gence. Passing by countless instan- special orders of Mr. Mayor, the funeces of this scientific waggery, which, ral is not to take place till Friday if you had been as long as I have morning. God save the King !" The been in Ireland, would amuse you, shops were opened, the bells ceased allow me to submit one grand tour ilto toll, and business and bustle prolustrative of the almost desperate ex- ceeded as usual. I went to the public tent to which it can reach. I am reading-room to satisfy myself on this about to mention important facts and extraordinary occurrence. The Dubdates, and am aware of the authenti- lin mail had not arrived; but the city of which I ought to base my nar. Mayor had received the news by derative; but if my own eyes and ears spatch from the Castle the night bemay serve, they are your warrant in fore, and all was right. It was eight attaching implicit credence to the se- --half-past eight o'clock, and we quel. In one word, I shall not state a heard, at last, the “twanging horn” circumstance which I do not know of of the mail-coach as it drew up at its my own knowledge.
allotted resting-place. Many a wistThus, then, you will easily call to ful eye now peered out of the winmind, that at the death of the ever-to-dows adown the street to reconnoitre be-lamented Princess, now some years the boy, who had been for an hour ago, the day of interment was previ- before placed with his shoulder to the ously understood throughout the Uni- little black wooden pane in the shop ted Kingdom, and every town and vil- window of “the post-office.” He lage proposed to mourn the melan- came at last, pale and breathless, and choly event on a Wednesday, I be- with an ominous pendency in jawlieve, with closed shops, suspension of for oh! he had held whispering conbusiness, prayers and homilies. I need verse with that important inland pernot remind you that I was then in sonage, the guard of the mail, and his Ireland, partly on your own mission, ear still rung with fearful sounds. and residing in a certain city of Ire- We tore open the papers—the Dublin land. The appointed morn rose on papers of the preceding evening, dethat certain city as on all others, and spatched at eight o'clock, six hours the people duteously attended, or sooner than a Mercury could have left rather began to attend, to the orders town to be in at one o'clock in judicially issued for its sad observe the morning, which was the case statance. No shopkeeper unmasked the ed. We tore them open, I say; our broad and shining face of his shop eyes glanced like electricity to the window; no petty marketting or cries readings of the different journals, ushered in the day ; death-bells were then to the tail of the column, where kpelling; the loyal and pious, includ- “second edition," in good capitals, ing the garrison, proposed to go to di- ought to have been. We did this and vine service ; and all the preachers in more. We-who ? The magistrates the town had been up two hours be- of the city among the rest, with the