Imágenes de páginas
PDF

travelled in France and Italy, but he ON THE UNFRIENDLY DISPOSITIONS let his mind and his years run to EXISTING BETWEEN GREAT BRIwaste, and whatever he wrote was TAIN AND AMERICA. probably penned on the spur of the moment, and partook of the irregu- No one who considers the relative larity of his life and the wildness of situation of Great Britain and Amehis intellect. In the construction of rica, can for a moment doubt the his plays he shews little or no art, and, great importance of their remaining least of all, in the management and on a friendly footing with each other, digestion of his plots, which are work- by which we do not mean merely their ed out most coniusedly, and with no desisting from war, for want not of attention to system. It would have hostile dispositions, but of sufficient been too great a labour for him to means to prosecute the strife, but that have modelled his stories even with they should cultivate peace, as Burke the slightest observance of the strict expresses it, in the spirit of peace. rules of the ancient drama, and to It is possible for two nations to cease this habitual carelessness and incon. from active hostility while the ani. sistency in him we are perhaps to at mosity of war still rages; but when tribute the ultimate perfection of what this happens, when they leave off the has been termed the romantic drama, struggle in all the rage of unsatisfied He was well read in Boiardo and revenge, merely because they are worn Ariosto, and has founded one of his out, and can no longer persevere in plays upon their poems, and had a harassing each other, still continuing, strong partiality for the delightful however, under a show of peace to and wild luxuriance of the Italian no- vent their malignity in acts of petty velists, of whom he at times made insolence and mischief, we cannot diggreat use. Every body knows that nify such a state of things with the apShakespeare's “ As You Like It," is pellation of peace. It is a hollow truce, founded upon Greene's “ Dorastus a short breathing interval of repose, and Fawnica."

mutually agreed on, that theattack may The title-page of the play I have recommence with fresh fury, and it just concluded mentions"“' A Plea- is precarious, liable at every moment gant Comedie, presented by Oboram, to be interrupted by an ebullition of King of Fayeries,” he is elsewhere in undisguised violence. The human the play called Oberon, but if the passions, when they are thus pent up, reader expects any thing like Shake- are like the winds as they are describspeare's Oberon and Titania, he will ed by the Roman poet, howling withbe much mistaken : Oborain's “ Co. in the cave into which they are immedie" only consists of dances, &c. prisoned by the deity who rules over, by antics and fairies, between the acts, them, but ready at every moment to to cutertain one Bohan, a “ Scottish burst forth and to sweep the earth Stoicke,” who, by a curious incon- with wide destruction. Such a state gruity, procures the play to be repre- of things is, therefore, far from desented before Oberon ; his part of the sirable. It is only preferable to open dialogue is in the Scottish accent, Í war, because there is a chance that believe the first time it was ever intro being debarred from the exercise of duced on the stage. “Now king, (he open hostility, our dispositions may says,) if thou be a king, I will shew be gradually ameliorated. The bad thee whay I hate the world by de passions require to be inflamed and monstration. In the year 1520 was kept alive by continual and reciprocal a king over-ruled with parasites, mis- acts of mischief, and when they are led by lust, and many circumstances, not nourished by this their proper too long to trattle on now, &c.; but food, they are apt to fade out of the gang with me to the gallery and Ile mind. Hence it is, that we consider shew thee the same in action by guid a state of smothered hostility, however fellowes of our countrymen."

undesirable, preferable to actual war. There is nothing about the battle These remarks have been suge of Flodden in the play, and it seems gested to our minds by the symponly mentioned in the title as a more toms of mutual aversion which we so particular designation of which of the often observe breaking forth among a kings of Scotland was intended. large class, both in this country and I. P. C. America. They seein to breathe aa

gainst each other jealousy and dislike, &c. We have little doubt that these and absolutely to regret that the war statements have some foundation in is at an end, which would have given truth. America is peopled by a race them an opportunity of gratifying of farmers, none of whom rise above, those vindictive feelings. After the the common level of equality which conclusion of the last Continental war, every where prevails. They are mostthe wish was frequently expressed in ly engaged in the task of “ increasing this country that we should now turn their store," and have little time, and our victorious arms against America, less inclination, for mere refinements. and avenge ourselves on this insolent In America, no class of rich landa and upstart nation. If this wish had holders has yet arisen to arrogate to been acted upon, into what an abyss of themselves the distinction of superior misery and blood should we have plung- polish and gentility; there is no arised, and into what a labyrinth also of tocracy to give the tone to their innever-ending strife? The British go- feriors, nor are there in literature any vernment, however, acted more wise- shining examples of superior merit ly, and all causes of difference being to kiddle the emulation of the other removed, they concluded a peace. classes, and to diffuse a benign influ. But this peace has not been followed ence over the national manners. Do upin a suitable spirit by the individuals we complain that all this should be we have been describing, and in nume- stated ? far from it. What we comrous and well circulated periodical pub- plain of is, that it is stated, not calmlications in this country, we find a ly and philosophically, as a fact necesa spirit of rancour continually break- sarily originating out of the general ing forth against America. Her in- state of society, but that it is dwelt stitutions, her manners, her litera- upon with exultation. And it is only ture, her public men are not oriticised facts degrading to America that are in a strain of free and liberal specula- sought for, others of a different nature tion; but they are reviled and held being either neglected or discredited. up to odium. All her imperfections Now we leave it to our readers to dea are in vidiously displayed, while all termine to what passion of our nature that is favourable in her manners, in- it is that such facts minister pleasure. stitutions, and policy, is studiously The dispositions to which we allude and uncandidly kept back. This seem to have been of late considerably shews the disposition, the mulus anin aggravated by the rage for emigramus, the rancour and rivalry which tion prevalent in this country; those those secretly cherish who express who are animated with the truly Bria such feelings. In so great a commu- tish feeling of overvaluing themselves, nity as that of America, there must and despising every other nation, canbe a great mixture both of good and not bear the preference which they evil; but, when we consider the na- suppose emigration from this country ture of her institutions,—the perfect to another to imply; and this gives a freedom which reigns throughout the peculiar tone of asperity to their rewide precincts of her authority, the inarks on America. The fact is unabsence of all restrictions on human derriable, however, that, in this new industry,--of all religious tests, and and unsettled country, the demand of all corporation laws,--the ample for labourers is greater than in the scope thus given to all the moral en- crowded communities of Europe, and ergies of society,-every one will ad- this fact may be adınitted without mit that the good must predominate. binding us to any positive conclusion Now, when we find all this thrown in favour of the political institutions into the shade, and nothing brought of America, seeing that this favouraforward except what tends to reproach ble state of society has its origin in and to degrade, we cannot help corsi- the quantity of vacant territory which dering this as a proof of prejudice, America possesses. In like manner, and we regret that it should prevail, e low wages of labour in this counbecause it seems to be of pernicious try afford direct ground for impeachconsequence to the future good agree- ing her political institutions. The ment of the two countries. We are same demand for labourers exists in continually told of the want of refine. Canada, which is under the government in America, of the coarseness ment of Great Britain. of her manners,-her filthy habits, On the other hand, if there prevails

among a certain class in Britain an il- exploit-and by our claim, which, by liberal animosity against America, this the journals of the day, was wont to feeling is returned with interest from be constantly brought forward in the the other side of the Atlantic. In the most offensive strain, of our being soAmerican character, we may see re- vereigns of the ocean. They will have, flected all the defects of our own, and, therefore, their military and naval glolike all imitators, the Americans have ries—and their heroes likewise, whom improved upon the original. The they celebrate as the saviours of the namain peculiarity of both nations, out tion; and we have no doubt that a large of which all others spring, seems to class would willingly see a war break be, that, in proportion as they over- out, in which they could vindicate value themselves, they despise others, their claims to these distinctions by and to such a length does this pro- actions, and not by words, and in ceed, that, like authors who expect which their growing jealousy and discriticism to be all praise, they dislike like of Britain might be gratified. the most modest and impartial expo- We cannot forbear bringing to the sition of their imperfections. They remembrance of our readers the eagerare impatient under the free language ness with which the officers of an of truth-they cannot bear to look American ship of war availed themon their own portrait, and are ready selves, when at Gibraltar, of an op to take fire at the least insinuation of portunity, or rather a pretext which any defect in their institutions or offered, of engaging in a series of duels manners. This disposition is well de- with our officers, in the course of scribed by a writer in the National which transactions they displayed a Intelligencer, an American paper. ferocious insolence, and a determined Most of our critics, and indeed spirit of revenge, which strongly writers of all characters, have but one marked the spirit of rivalry and hadegree of comparison ; every thing is tred with which they were actuated in the superlative; our brave men are towards this country. all heroes; our men of sense all sages; Such being the dispositions prevaour good men are all patriots. We lent among a large class in both counnever qualify, because we never dis- tries, it is evident that our dependcriminate.” This picture, we appre- ence for the continuance of peace must hend, would answer equally well both be in the prudence and moderation of for America and Britain. There is, the respective governments; and we however, this difference, that there is are willing to do justice to the cau. more plausibility in our national boast- tion and good policy which has all aing than in that of America. In science long distinguished ihe government of and literature, we have many great this country in its intercourse with names renowned throughout the world. America, and which has, indeed, been In war, our military exploits have met by corresponding dispositions on shaken kingdoms, and our fleets have the part of the American rulers. But chased every enemy from the ocean. what we dread is, that, if hostile disThese are plain and undeniable facts, positions continue to be fostered de which may have made us too proud, mong the people by inflammatory puband of which we may boast in an lications, the government of both offensive strain; but still our boast- countries will be at length swayed by ing is not so ridiculous, as if it the impulse of popular opinion, and were founded on no solid ground. that, in spite of all their precautions Now, although America has some and all their prudence, they will be good grounds for boasting of what hurried into war by the violence of she has achieved in war, her stock contending factions among their subof naval and military achievements jects. Envy, jealousy, hatred, as is but small, and they fall short they are the causes of discord aboth in number and value of those of mong individuals, so are they of Britain. They are, nevertheless, pa- war between nations; and, when these raded with equal ostentation, and materials of inflammation are brought America, decked out in this tinsel, together in sufficient quantities, we shines forth as the rival of the parent may just as well imagine that gunstate. The Americans are impatient powder will not explode when the under the glory we have acquired at match is applied, as that discord and Waterloo-they are fretted by our war will not break out between nacontinual boastings of that memorable tions in the course of their transac

P

tions with each other. Other causes hat, and hung it upon a peg immeare, no doubt, alleged in vindication diately over him. I was surprised, of all wars; and it is, indeed, the bu- and a little offended perhaps, by the siness of politicians to allege any cause apparent irreverence of this behaviour; rather than the true one,to invent but the service soon commenced, and specious glosses, in order to give the my thoughts were speedily constrainmatter a fair appearance, and, when ed to flow in a very different channel. the nation is driving headlong under In his prayer, however, and even the impelling fury of its passions, to through a considerable part of his serdevise good and politic reasons to jus- mon, I must not deny that the imtify what is previously determined on pression of strength and acumen, conother grounds. In this case, it be- veyed by the style of the Baronet's hoves all men of reflection to unite in eloquence, was still accompanied with endeavouring to repress this rising some sense of coarseness, not much feud between Great Britain and the expected or relished in such a situaUnited States; and public writers tion by my English ears. The novelwould do well to reflect, that their ef- ty of such a way of preaching, notforts to revile and to degrade America withstanding, was sufficient to rivet necessarily tend to inflame animosi- effectually my attention, and the ties, which, rankling in the mind, will broad substratum of practical pith at length produce war, the wide- could not fail to shine brightly through spread calamities of which it is useless the voluntary opaquenesses he scatterto describe. If in America a foolish ed over his surface. But towards the and ill-grouniled antipathy prevails, end, when he had done with all his be ours the glory of setting a well- bitter and dogmatic reprobations of timed example of moderation. those who interpret differently from

him the passage on which he enlarg

ed, and made an end also of his own CLERICAL PORTRAITS, FROM PETER's somewhat technical expositions of the LETTERS TO HIS KIN$FOLK. Calvinistic minutiæ in point, and be

gan fairly to press home upon his peoto wise Peter, complaisant enough!

ple the use which they ought to make, Pope.

in their daily life and conversation, of The first Presbyterian clergyman the truths which he had been promul. of Edinburgh whom I went to hear gating or establishing-it was then was the saine Reverend Baronet of that all the harsher parts of his mind whose appearance in the General As- seemed to have been stilled into quiessembly I have already spoken. In the cence, and that all the lines of his maspulpit, the appearance of this man is culine countenance seemed to thrill quite as commanding, and it is (under and vibrate with the genuine apostofavour) far more amiable, than in the lic tenderness of a Christian minister. Ecclesiastical Court; and this is just Nor when I looked up and saw those as it should be. He has a pride, it features, which heretofore I had conwould seem, in keeping up, as much templated clothed in the rigid marble as the times will permit, not only of of unmixed austerity, dissolving now the animating spirit, but the external and trembling with the warm gushdemeanour, of the old Presbyterian ing inspirations of love and compasdivines. They, you know, set their sion-could I help feeling that this is faces entirely against the notion of any the true way in which the gentler and superior sanctity being attached to the more delightful feelings of humanity mere locule of any place of worship, ought to be made to come in the train and, in order to mark this notion in a and attendance of the sterner behests tangible way, they introduced the of that law which is nothing unless it custom of entering the church coverbe severe. ed. Sir Henry adheres even to this What a different sort of effect has somewhat rude practice, and I ob- such a tender close as this, following served him with astonishment walk- after the bold and pealing alarums of ing from his vestry through the an unsparing (even should it be a church, and ascending the steps of his rude) honesty, from the puling and pulpit with his hat on his head. It piping echos of eternal tenderness with was not till he had fairly established which not a few of the popular serhimself in his seat that he took off his mon-makers of the day think fit to

VOL. V.

regale the effeminate ears of their ad- the knowledge of these men, is it wonmirers! How different from the elo- derful that he should also adopt their quence of your white-handkerchiefed modes of thinking and of feeling? I whiners--your ring-displaying, faul. think it were strange, indeed, if he tering, fawning, frothy weavers of pa- should not do so. thetic periods your soft, simpering Sir Henry Moncreiff officiates in a saints, from whose mouths the reli- church which lies out of the town algion of the Bible falls diluted and dul- together, at the western side of the cifier, like the meretricious moonlight Castle ; and Dr Inglis in the Greyburdens of an Irish melody! It is by friars Church, which is situated in an the ministrations of these poor draws' obscure part of the Old Town. But lers that the Christian faith is degrad- the most popular preacher of the time ed in the eyes of men who are sharp in Edinburgh occupies a new and enough to observe these superficial ab- magniticent place of worship in the surdities, but not wise enough to pe- finest square, and most fashionable netrate below their veil into its true neighbourhood, of the whole city. and deep-placed majesty. It is, on Mr Andrew Thomson (for that is his the other hand, by the ministrations name) is a much younger man than of such men as Sir Henry Moncreiff, either of those I have described ; and that men are, or ought to be, inspired perhaps his talents are still better awith an equal and a simultaneous re- dapted than those of either for proverence for the awful and the gentle ducing a powerful impression on the notes that are ever mingled together minds of people living in what may in the true oracles of God.

be calledl, strictly speaking, the SoI also heard Dr Inglis preach; and ciety of Edinburgh. Nor, indeed, the high idea I had formed of him, can any better proof of his eminent from his speaking in the Assembly, qualifications be required, than the was certainly raised, rather than other- effect which, unless I am quite miswise, by the style of his eloquence in informed, his preaching has already the pulpit. This preacher is far from produced in the place of his ministraexhibiting anything of the same ex- tions. I am assured, that churchtreme attachment to the externals of going was a thing comparatively out the old Presbyterian divines, which I of fashion among the fine folks of the had remarked in Sir Henry Mon- New Town of Edinburgh, till this creiff. He preaches, indeed, like a man was removed from a church he sound Calvinist ; but in the arrange- formerly held in the Old Town, and ment of his subject, the choice of his established under the splendid dome illustrations, and the whole strain of of St George's. Only two or three his language, he is very little different years have elapsed since this change from the best of our own High-Church took place; and yet, although he was preachers in England. I am sure, in- at first received with no inconsiderdeed, that (laying aside his northern able coolness by the self-complacent accent, and some characteristic ges- gentry of his new parish,—and alturcs which are quite as peculiar to though he adopted nothing that ordithe atmosphere of the north) Dr In- nary people would have supposed likeglis might preach the sermon I heard ly to overcome this coolness,-- he has in any cathedral in England, and already entirely subdued all their prewould, in so doing, not only impress judices, and enjoys at this moment a his audience with great admiration of degree of favour among all classes of his talents, but carry along with him, his auditors such as(to the shame of in the whole turn of his thoughts and the world be it spoken)-very seldom sentiments, the perfect intelligence of falls to the share of such a man in their sympathies. And why, after all, such a place. should I state this as a circumstance His appearance is good ; and this is any wise wonderful in regard to a man less of a trifle in regard to such matwho is, as I have already told you, an ters than he himself would perhaps be accomplished scholar both in and out willing to allow. He is an active and of his profession? The Scottish cler- muscular man, about forty, and cargyman, who is an accomplished divine, ries in his countenance the stamp of a must have become such only by hav- nature deficient in none of those ele. ing intensely studied and compre- ments which are most efficacious in hended the great divines of England. giving a man command over the minds With the language of these men, and of persons placed under the continua

« AnteriorContinuar »