Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Lion, and of the American Lion : there are Black Lions, White Lions, and Red Lions; there are Lions rampant, Lions couchant, and Lions regardant ; there are the Lion and the Unicorn under the King's crown; there are Lions in the Tower, and Lions in Exeter 'Change; and finally, there is Mr. Kean's Lion. But with these we have nothing to do; we have nothing to say · against them; but after all, the most they can do is, to shake a mane, if they have one, grovel on four feet, give a roar, and go to sleep. But the Lion we have our eyes upon is a Lion indeed, worthy of being called, as in reality he is, the King of Beasts; and not only so, but of men also; and what is more, of the inanimate creation to boot.

“ Qualc portentum neque militaris

Daunia in latis alit esculetis ;
Nec Jubæ tellus generat, leonum

Arida Nutrix.We, being raw and inexperienced striplings, know but little of nature and the world, and therefore will not presume to offer any thing in the shape of a complete account of this noble animal; all that we can manage with ease and certainty is, to note down some of his prominent peculiarities, and to quote instances of his appearance and reality, as they have chanced to fall under our own inspection. 1stly-He can at pleasure be of either sex, of any shape, of all ranks, and of all ages. 2dly-He can be a thousand things at once, and yet be one indivisible Lion, with various Lionets within himself. 3dly-He can die when he likes, and be any inanimate substance ; or he can resolve himself into thin air, and revive again. And lastly-He can be and not be at the same moment (which is just the secret Hamlet might have learnt, if he had proceeded on his voyage to England); and, what is more, he will not unfrequently change himself into the person who denies his existence; or, in other words, a man' may become a Lion when himself gazing upon a Lion.

No part of England is without this universal creature. Far from partaking in the şulky solitary spirit of his forest namesake, he affects society and the most crowded walks of public life ; and, though there is no difficulty in finding them at the Lakes in Cumberland, or the Mountains in Wales, yet I question if a stranger will ever see more Lions, full grown, and of greater beauty, than in London itself. There is a fine menagerie of active Lions in the Park, especially on a Sunday; and, what is well worthy of remark, they are constantly seen taking their airing in chariots, landaus, coaches, gigs, curricles, and tandems; nay, hundreds literally ride about on horseback, their steeds being so well trained as not to be frightened at the approach of this animal.

Bond-street maintains a very respectable number; and vast numbers of well-dressed Lions walk up and down St. James's-street every day, from three to five. But the grandest collection seen in this country for many years was shown on the 19th of this month at Westminster, where the Lion of England appeared under all his shapes, underwent all his modifications, and displayed all his wonderful properties, active, passive, and neuter. A friend of ours walked down from the Temple to see the Coronation, and his account is as follows :-" The first Lion I heard only, viz. the roaring of the guns from the brig moored between the Bridges, which made the Strand shake again ; then there was a moderáte Lion, in the shape of a string of coaches, from Temple-Bar to the barrier in Charing-Cross, at four in the morning; at eight a most remarkable Lion, in a coach and six, attended by a Lord and two Ladies, made its appearance, and caused a great disturbance amongst the multitude, some applauding the Lion's splendid dress and gay demeanour, and others complaining that the Keepers were to blame in letting it loose on such an occasion, and some few thought the Lion itself should have known better than to attempt to force a passage where there was no room, and persist in going up Parliament-street, whereas the Lord Chamberlain bad appointed Little George-street for the exit of all carriages, whether hackneys or not. I waited till the procession passed, and then there arose wonders on wonders, in the transformations and legerdemain tricks of this animal. I heard many people around me say, Miss Fellowes, with her fair companions, was a Lion; some seemed to think the Herald Kings at Arms were Lions; and, indeed, it is agreed by all that one of them was a Lyon. There were some good folks who thought they discovered a Lion in the shape of a certain Alderman; but this was strenuously denied by others, who declared they saw nothing lionlike in the said Alderman at all. There were few who did not allow the Judges and Bishops to be Lions in their way; and I heard a young Templar say with a grin, that he wished he had a good lien upon the Lord Chancellor. This I did not understand, for I have not met with it in the first volume of Blackstone. But, without any dispute, and I hope I may say it without being guilty of treason, His Most Excellent Majesty, King George, was by far the greatest Lion there : every one seemed to recognise him as they would have done a friend in the crowd; the whole vast mass of the multitude rose and shouted with a feeling that made the blood start and dance; and the women waved their handkerchiefs, and the trumpets blew their notes of gratulation, and the bells rung merrily and fast, and the cannons rolled their thunders round this indescribable scene. The object of this unequalled enthusiasm was evidently affected, and in this instance, as always, the Lion of England bowed from his high estate, and returned an answer to thousands, which every individual felt to be his. own.

“ I had become so familiarized to these great Lions, that walking home in the evening through the Park, with a friend who had been a Page to a Peer, I was at a loss to understand the meaning of the crowd's stopping and forming round us, and gazing and laughing, until, upon a little reflection, I found out the cause I was armin-arm with a young Lion. I forgot to say that Prince Esterhazy's coat was the greatest Lion in the Abbey before the procession entered, and that the Duke de Grammont's glass coach and running basques have become a most prodigious Lion in the West End.".

This is our friend's account, and we shall only remark upon it, that even foreigners, however they may be secure from such transfiguration in their own countries, seldom escape becoming Lions when they display themselves and their attendants within the influence of the atmosphere of England. After the Lions of the Coronation it would be flat and unprofitable to descend into fürther particulars, and detail the infinitely varied species of this animal which show themselves in the Universities, at Brighton, and at Eton ; lately, indeed, we have been informed that some Tigers were seen in the Senate House at Cambridge, but, upon accurate investigation by competent judges, it was fully ascertained that the said Tigers, although rather differently spotted, were in fact nothing more or less than common Lions of the country. For this important fact we have Dr. Clarke's word,' who presided at the Committee appointed to examine these Tigers, and who having seen more Lions, Foreign and English, dead and alive, existing and not existing, than most other men, will, we are quite sure, be held sufficient authority for us to acquiesce in. ! We had intended originally to have written a longer and a wittier article; we had prepared many jests, many pleasant conceits, many delicate double entendres; but we know not how it is, but we feel heavy and listless,—and a kind of gloominess, settling fast round our hearts, clogs up the passages of the animal spirits, and puts us out of temper with the very joke which totters upon the point of our pens. **Can this be death? or are these the foretokens of immediate dissolution ? Is this the last time we shall see ourselves in print ?—Yes, the very last time ! This is the seamark of our utmost sail. Hereafter never shall poor Gerard dogmatize about subjects of which he knows just nothing at all; neither shall the gentle Frederick sport pleasingly, or the gentler Be' lamy simper soothingly in the handiwork of Mr. Charles Knig We have been for this last year-that is, “ the Etonian,” in wh«

we live and breathe, has been unquestionably the greatest Lion of Eton : we appeal to all parties with confidence, whether he has not behaved himself very orderly and like a quiet beast as he is; and when he roared, did he not “roar you as sweet as 'twere any nightingale?” The complex body and soul of the Eton Lion is about to die ;—when the world reads this, on Election Saturday, he, in his corporate capacity, will be dead, and those, who contributed to form his existence, and who partook in his import-, ance, will themselves be reduced again to plain human nature, and restored once more to the use of two feet. Yet a moment “We would fain say something to the excellent Person who rules this royal menagerie: he has been, to us at least, a kind and an instructive Keeper, and he may with perfect security put his arm, or even his head, into our mouth, and we here engage, foi de Lion, not to bite it off. To the Fair Ones ;-if they have frowned upon us, we say that never came frowns from so sweet a quarter :-if they have smiled, we say—or rather we will say. no more ;—for what saith the discreet Bottom ?

“ Masters, you ought to consider with yourselves; to bring in, God shield us! a Lion among Ladies, is a most dreadful thing; for there is not a more fearful wildfowl than your Lion living; and we ought to look to it.

Snout. Therefore, another prologue must tell, he is not a Lion. " Bot. Nay, you must name his name, and balf his face must be seen through the Lion's neck; and he himself must speak through, saying thus, or to the same defect, -Ladies, or fair ladies, I'would wish you, or, I would request you, or, I would entreat you, not to fear, not to tremble: my life for yours. If you think I come bither as a Lion, it were pity of my life. No, I am no such thing ; I am a man as other men are: -and there, indeed, let him name bis name, and tell them plainly be is "

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

“ A mermaid on a dolphin's back. Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath, That the rude sea grew civil at ber song."

SHAKSPEARE.

About six years ago I was staying at -, a watering-placé on the Sussex coast. It was one of the fine mornings in July, ;' when the Sun had just risen above the top of the wave, and was scattering around his bright, warm, rays; that having taken my customary dipping, I had wandered unthinkingly along the shore,

admiring the impending grandeur of those tall cliffs, which, in the language of our great tragic bard,

"Beat back the envious siege

Of wat’ry Neptune."...! . I had trodden the same path the evening before, and it was my amusement in these marine perambulations to inspect the crevices of the rocks, and to carry home with me the most beautiful shells, that chance threw in my way, I had rather a taste for conchology, and had made no inconsiderable collection of the specimens, of our own shores ;--one group, of rocks I had found particularly fertile in rarities, and these I had very nearly approached. A:: peculiar jutting out of the cliff at that place hid them from the sight till you were close upon them; I had nearly, in the marine phrase, doubled this promontory, when my progress was arrested by the sound of a female voice, chaunting some beautiful air in a very plaintive tone. I stood to listen the words, as far as I can remember, were these : S “ Edward is gone--and I know not whether

- His spirit may rest on land or sea; H O ," O would that, love, we had sailed together,

ri Or thou badst never been torn from me!. . ., Ellen is sighing—but nought is nigh

To pity her moan but the wind and wave;-'cou
The gull shall soon, from her roost'on high, ??

Sing à lullaby dirge over Ellen's grave." The voice ceased. - I advanced a few steps to the other side of the cliff, and the figure of the lovely warbler, reclining on one of the tallest of the rocks, was before my sight. Her long black ringlets were streaming down her neck, and her eye was fixed steadfastly on the horizon. She had her back towards me, which prevented her observing my approach. I thought I perceived her lips moving, as if muttering something to herself; and on a sudden giving a glance over the sea, she resúmed her song :- ..

“I'll recline on this rock, and the wave shall bear"

My paly form to that favoured shore ,
Where Edward is breathing a distant air,

oir * ?Mid the fury of war and the cannons' roar." I had been gradually advancing towards her--as she uttered the last words her voice faltered, and she seemed falling. I. rushed forward and supported her. She started at finding some one', by her side, and, looking up with a listless air, “ You are not Eden ward," she said, “ Edward sailed- last week,” Her dark black

« AnteriorContinuar »