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share in the glory of it should be accorded to him. Others have toiled earnestly and successfully in the same field, but Charles Knight is the Nestor of cheap literature. It is no small merit, either, that he can recall to the public memory every stage in his career and every line he has written, without a reserve or reason to blush. The people have ever found in him a sound educator, who has not degraded the literature of the country in popularizing it, but, on the contrary, has elevated the taste of the middle classes, and fostered among them a capacity to enjoy the richest products of the national genius. Mr. Knight's pen has been incessantly busy, even whilst his commercial undertakings involved the most serious responsibilities. Still, om the proper ordering of his time, "ates that he has not found the two ations incompatible. Of his suc› a writer and skill as an editor uld be superfluous to speak. ng his many labours the "Hisof England" is that, perhaps, ..ch does him most honour. It ill long occupy a distinguished place the general libraries of Englishpeaking people in all parts of the orld. The edition is a beautiful one, typographically, like all Mr. Knight's books; but the style of the composition is also charming in its ease, Dicturesqueness, and variety.
In these "Passages of a Working Life," there is an abundance of amusing detail, without any of the feebleness or garrulity of age. With more than his customary skill, Mr. Knight paints the Windsor of his boyhood, with the doings of the Court when George the Third was king, and all the quaint incidents of a social condition as far removed from present ways as if centuries intervened. It is intended that the autobiography shall be completed in three volumes, and we sincerely hope the author will carry out his intention by the publication of the other two. In this, the First Epoch only is given, coming down to 1827, when Mr. Knight became connected with the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. But however crowded the subsequent volumes may be with reminiscences of literary celebrities passed away, or of men still living whose earlier struggles are but par
VOL. LXIII. NO. CCCLXXVI.
tially known, nothing to be contained in them can well surpass in interest the Windsor scenes of the "prelude" of Vol. I., or the tender recollections of Praed, with which it closes.
The scene opens in 1800, when there were celebrations in Windsor on account of the Union with Ireland, and the regal style and title were changed, some thought ominously, by the omission of "France" from the declaration of sovereignty. Mr. Knight's father was a respectable bookseller in the town, and his son, being then ten years old, and of an observing disposition, stored up in his memory many curious things-" old customs," as he beautifully says, which linger about his early recollections, "like patches of sunlight in a sombre wood." The good dames of Windsor then, in mid-Lent, were careful to prepare the dish called furmety," according to ancient usage. This dish, once famous, was composed of boiled wheat, which was a second time boiled with plums, and served, spiced and sugared, in a tureen. The Rogation days of procession were observed. On the 10th of May, mayor, vicar, curate, charity children, citizen, marched two and two round the parish boundaries, and sung a psalm-gave public thanks “in the beholding of God's benefits," as good Queen Bess had directed, and were entertained, the common folk on bread, cheese, and ale, and all the better sort with wine. The Royal Family, at the same period, having no carriage road from the Castle or the Queen's Lodge, except through the town, were constantly in the public eye, and beloved by the people. Of the old King Mr. Knight speaks with affectionate respect. "There was a magnanimity about the man in his forgetfulness of petty offences," and a general kindliness, which took all hearts.
"Farmer George" was sneered at for his economies by a rhymester of the time, but this was not his reputation at Windsor; and an incident related by Mr. Knight probably promoted his popularity among a certain class of the people.
benediction was pronounced, vergers and choristers blew out the lights. Perquisites were the law of all service. The good-natured King respected the law as one of our institutions. He dined early. The Queen'
"At St. George's Chapel, the instant the
dined at an hour then deemed late. He wrote or read in his own uncarpeted room, till the time when he joined his family in the drawing-room. One evening, on a sud den recollection, he went back to his library. The wax-candles were still burning. When he returned, the page, whose especial duty was about the King's person, followed his Majesty in, and was thus addressed, 'Clarke, Clarke, you should mind your perquisites. I blew out the candles.' The King's savings were no savings to the nation. In 1812 it was stated in the House of Commons that the wax lights for Windsor Castle cost ten thousand a year."
In juxtaposition with this reminiscence of the King, let the reader place Mr. Knight's portrait of his Majesty's faithful and highminded
"Soon was the minister walking side by side with the sovereign, who, courageous as he was, had a dread of his great servant till he had manacled him. It was something
to me, even this once, to have seen Mr. Pitt.
The face and figure and deportment of the man gave a precision to my subsequent conception of him as one of the realities of his tory. The immobility of those features, the erectness of that form, told of one born to command. The loftiness and breadth of the forehead spoke of sagacity and firmnessthe quick eye, of eloquent promptitude-the nose (I cannot pass over that remarkable feature, though painters and sculptors failed to reproduce it), the nose, somewhat twisted out of the perpendicular, made his enemies say his face was as crooked as his policy. I saw these characteristics, or had them pointed out to me afterwards. But the smile, revealing the charm of his inner nature-that was to win the love of his intimates, but it was not for vulgar observa
The same brilliant pen sketches the interior of the Windsor playhouse.
"One side of the lower tier of boxes was occupied by the Court. The King and Queen sat in capacious arm-chairs, with satin playbills spread before them. The orchestra, which would hold half a dozen fiddlers, and the pit, where some dozen persons might be closely packed on each bench, separated the royal circle from the genteel parties in the opposite tier of boxes. With the plebeians in the pit the Royal Family might have shaken hands; and when they left, there was always a scramble for their satin bills, which would be afterwards duly framed and glazed as spoils of peace. As the King laughed and cried, 'Bravo, Quick!' or 'Bravo, Suett!'-for he had rejoiced in their well-known mirth-provoking faces many a time before, the pit and gallery clapped and roared in loyal sympathy: the
boxes were too genteel for such emotional feelings. As the King, Queen, and Princesses retired at the end of the third act, to sip their coffee, the pot of Windsor ale, called Queen's ale, circulated in the gallery. At eleven o'clock the curtain dropped."
Mr. Knight tells a capital story of a Windsor magistrate of those days.
"Late in the evening an offender was brought before one of our mayors, having been detected in stealing a smock-frock from a pawnbroker's door. Look in "Burn's Justice," said his worship to his son, 'look in the index for smock-frock.' 'Can't find
it, father. Not there.' 'What! no law against stealing smock-frocks? D heart, young fellow, but you've had a lucky escape.'
There was a yeomanry corps composed of the "best fellows" in WindA pursy wine-merchant was the commander, and it happened on a certain occasion that, not being as well mounted as his men, as he headed a charge, they opened right and left, leaving him in the rere, when he roared out with a sublime indignation Unparalleled in the annals of war, gentlemen." Those were times of excitement, in comparison with which our late little invasion-panic was a mere ruffle on the surface. The King was accustomed then to invite the volunteer officers to the front of the castle on Sunday evenings to hear sacred music played, but as he walked on the terrace, and as his spirits rose with the inspiring strains, he would interrupt the celestial melody with a stentorian call for
Britons, strike home," when the bandsmen of course instantly obeyed, and tremendous enthusiasm was the result. The Royal Family went annually to Weymouth, performing the journey of a hundred miles very differently 'express." from a flight by King, as they stopped to change horses, stepped forth, and joked with mine host, and acknowledged the huzzas of the villagers with a beaming countenance. No railway directors then obtruded themselves with fulsome and ungrammatical addresses.
Among Mr. Knight's first efforts in a literary direction was his successful 66 restore" the defective attempt to portions of an imperfect copy of Shakspeare-the first folio-with which he had been presented. The occurrence is a proof that at a very
early age he had that habit of industry by which he has since been enabled to accomplish so much :-
"Sadly defective it was in many places. I devised a plan for making the rare volume perfect. The fac-simile edition, then
recently published, was procured. Amongst the oldest founts of type in our printingoffice was one which exactly resembled that of the folio of 1623. We had abundant fly-leaves of seventeenth-century books which matched the paper on which this edition was printed. I set myself the task of composing every page that was wholly wanting, or was torn and sullied. When the book was handsomely bound I was in raptures at my handiwork. I was to have the copy for myself; but one of the Eton private tutors, to whom my father showed the volume, and explained how it had been completed, offered a tempting price for it, and my treasure passed from me. Some real value remained. The process of setting up the types led me to understand the essential differences of the early text, as compared with modern editions with which I was familiar, especially those which had been maimed and deformed for the purposes of the stage. What would I not now give, could I obtain this testimonial that I had not been altogether uselessly employed in the morning of my life, before a definite purpose for the future had given energy and consistency to my pursuits!
On the death of the Princess Amelia, the task was imposed upon our author of making a catalogue of her library, and there he found in a blank leaf of her prayer-book a touching prayer, which he considers it not now a violation of confidence to print":
"Gracious God, support thy unworthy servant in this time of trial, Let not the least murmur escape my lips, nor any sentiment but of the deepest resignation enter my heart; let me make the use Thou intendest of that affliction Thou hast laid upon me. It has convinced me of the vanity and emptiness of all things here; let it draw me to Thee as my support, and fill my heart with pious trust in Thee, and in
the blessings of a redeeming Saviour, as the only consolations of a state of trial. Amen."
The King never recovered the death of the Princess. About six months after, in April 1811, he seemed to rally, and Windsor was astir, the report having got abroad that his Majesty's physicians would allow him to appear in public. His horse was got ready. The inhabitants crowded to
the park and castle-yard. "The venerable man, blind but steady, was soon in the saddle, as I had often seen him -a hobby-groom at his side with a little park to the great park. The leading-rein. He rode through the bells rang; the troops fired a feu-dejoie. The King returned to the palace within an hour;" but he never went forth those walls again. What must have been the monarch's thoughts during this gleam of returned reason? Was he conscious of the dismal mockery of that farewell procession?
Soon after his brief school-days had come to a termination, Mr. Knight settled down to the regular work of journalism. In this department of labour, high and varied qualities are necessary; and but few of the many men who attempt the pursuit are found to possess them. The author of the "Passages" ranks among the successful.
started in Windsor, when only twentyThe paper which he one years of age, obtained considerable circulation, and made him known in London. A revolution has occurred in newspaper management since that time, and men of maturer political experience, and longer training, are required for such positions now; but Mr. Knight entered upon his functions as a public instructor with a lofty idea of their importance, and spared no exertion necessary to their fulfilment. That habit of industry, acquired at an early period of his life, which has stood him in such good stead throughout his honourable career, enabled him to give his newspaper a literary position superior to that of many of its contemporaries. Essays on social topics of importance, comprehensively conceived, appeared in its columns and it was during the preparation of one of these compositions that Mr. Knight's attention was first seriously turned to the pestilential character of the cheaper class of publications popular at the time, many of them infidelitous, others socialistic. In order to counteract their unhappy effects, he laboured even then to create among the working classes a taste for sound and profitable reading. He was constantly on horseback in the neighbourhood, picking up information for the "Windsor and Eton Express"he seems to have filled the positions of reporter, manager, and editor, at
once and studying the condition of the workpeople. For their benefit the "Plain Englishman" was started. After a probation that must have seemed tedious to a man so active in mind, notwithstanding the real interest he took in his work, he was called to London to conduct a weekly paper. Soon after "The Etonian" came into existence, and along with it his friendship began with Macaulay, Praed, and the brilliant set of Cambridge students, who subsequently wrote the principal part of Knight's Quarterly. Of these distinguished men his recollections are fresh and pleasing, especially of Praed, of whose genius Mr. Knight is a sincere admirer. In 1823 he established himself in Pall Mall, East, as a publisher. His connexion with the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge dates from 1827. His works then appeared in rapid succession, each a greater success than the former-all edited with scrupulous care, and brought out with elegance. Into the latter chapters of the volume in our hands, however, we cannot particularly enter now, but the reader will find there the record of the Cheap Standard Literature of England-a product of which the nation has reason to be proud. From that feeling of pride, it need hardly be added, the name of Charles Knight is inseparable. A
large share of the praise of the result is undoubtedly his. His charming pen has made our history popular; his Cyclopædia and his Shakspeare are destined to live and influence the national mind after more pretentious works of the same class are forgotten. Mr. Knight has had many ardent and successful fellow-workmen and followers in the same career-the Messrs. Chambers, Mr. Cassell, and many more. We think it scarcely possible to rate too highly the service rendered to the community by these enterprising persons. They have taught tens of thousands of working men to prefer their firesides to places of vicious indulgence, and given to their minds a stimulus, the effects of which have been manifested, not only in substantial improvement of the fortunes of individuals, but in the growth of inventive power and practical skill among the general population. Literature as a profession, too, owes much to this class of publishers.
To their efforts the multiplication of intelligent readers is principally referable, and the increase of these has provided the best sort of fostering for genius. But we must here close Mr. Knight's delightful book, with the simple further remark, that we anticipate no ordinary pleasure in the reading of the sequel promised to be furnished in due time.
EARLIER TYPE OF THE SENSATIONAL NOVEL.
BELIEVING that the course of the sensational novel has passed the culminating point, and bestowing our most hearty wishes for its termination, we purpose to lay before our readers a connected notice of a story of the class, constructed before anyone had thought of finding a generic name for such productions.
The mere sensational novel, which we would gladly see devoted to the waters of the infernal Lethe, lays no claim to truthful delineation of character, to moral teaching, to sympathy with the outward and inward manifestations of nature, nor pleasing social pictures, nor genial gushes of humour, nor healthy exercises of thought. Its sole merit consists in keeping the mind in painful sus
pense, exciting sensations of horror, or terror at least, and surrounding vice with a lurid splendour. novel that excites a lively interest in the fortunes of its good characters, even though united with the excitement of suspense and mystery, is not the thing against which we protest, if it possesses the desirable qualities we have named.
We talk of the article in question as if it were a variety in the domain of fiction altogether new; yet it has existed in a more or less developed shape since the first romance was written. The "Golden Ass" of Lucius Apuleius, one of the earliest tales we can call to mind, is sensational in parts. If the play of
King Edipus" is not a very sensa
tional drama, we know not the meaning of the word. The Mort d'Arthur" in part, a greater portion of the "Nibelungen Lied," several plays of the earliest English dramatists, and Titus Andronicus, be the author who he may, are clearly of the same order. Our great old Chaucer thought little of making his readers' nerves tingle now and then, and their flesh to creep.
The romances of chivalry were, oddly enough nearly exempt from censure in this particular; the Scuderi and D'Urfé romances entirely so. Novels of intrigue or of unconnected adventure prevailed from the days of William and Mary to the epoch of the Radcliffe romances, and when the mild terrors of these and their imitations began to lose their power, Matthew Gregory Lewis, by infusing a spice of horror mixed with very decided immorality into his precious productions, continued the evil work of vitiating public taste. At last the combined efforts of Miss Edgworth, Jane and Anna Maria Porter, the Misses Lee, Miss Austen, and the great wizard, Sir Walter, cleared the unhealthy atmosphere, except where the genius of poor Maturin endeavoured to keep the baleful vapour suspended. He came too late, however, to do much harm, and for ten years, commencing about 1819, the novels published were distinguished by little either of good or evil. Sir Edward Lytton Bulwer then began to introduce the spasmodic and morbid elements into his philosophical (?) stories, and even "The Keepsake" was seldom without a tale of a pretty nearly disgusting character. A charming heroine in one of these tales is the object of the hero's passion, but he is cured of his love, and nearly deprived of life by a strange discovery made by his being present where he ought not. He had never seen the left hand nor wrist of his ladylove, but on the occasion mentioned he beheld a hissing serpent where arm and hand ought anatomically to have been found. The unfortunate woman, it turns out, was obliged to find human food for this demon, and the horrified lover hears her vainly beseeching it to spare her betrothed (himself), when she would become his wife. There are few of poor Banim's stories in which an un
healthy morbid thread may not be found pervading the texture. The earlier phase of the school abounds with supernatural distortion.
By way of variety, the soul of a deceased person is permitted to animate the body of a new-born infant, and when the man or woman arrives at the age of reason he or she becomes conscious of a former state of existence. The new relations with the acquaintances of a past life are anything but pleasant. In one case an unfortunate father and mother are convinced that their little daughter is animated by the soul and spirit of her sister, long since dead. Mr. Boaden of theatrical memory wasted a great deal of time in constructing stories tainted with diseased extravagances of this kind. Ainsworth's early romances are other bad cases in point, and the translation of the Nôtre Dame romance made matters still worse than they would otherwise have been. Before the present undesirable revival we enjoyed a quiet interval of about fifteen years. We look out for clearer weather after a little; but so sure as the use of pens and paper continues to be taught, so sure are our children to see a new race of "Rookwoods" and "Lady Audleys" introducing themselves into the re-unions of future Waverleys" and "Rose Bradwardines" and "Emmas" and "Mr. Knightleys," and pushing them from their stools. They will, in turn, be thrown over and flung out of doors, but not till they have accomplished their share of mischief.
Something of the relation which a river, sometimes visible, and at other times prosecuting its course through underground channels, bears to a noble stream, never sinking below the surface till it reaches the sea, does the English tale of excitement present toward its Gallic counterpart. We purpose producing a sheaf from among the perennial and neverfailing crop which is indispensable to the life and well-being of the regular consumers of the three-volume novel, who can read French.
The story now to be introduced, is written by Marie Aycard, whom, notwithstanding the Christian name, we guess to be no more a woman than Amedée Aycard, author of several popular novels. We have seen no