Изображения страниц
[ocr errors]

share in the glory of it should be ac- tially known, nothing to be contained
corded to him. Others have toiled in them can well surpass in interest
earnestly and successfully in the same the Windsor scenes of the “prelude”
field, but Charles Knight is the Nes- of Vol. I., or the tender recollections
tor of cheap literature. It is no of Praed, with which it closes.
small merit, either, that he can recall The scene opens in 1800, when
to the public memory every stage in there were celebrations in Windsor
his career and every line he has on account of the Union with Ire-
written, without à reserve or rea- land, and the regal style and title
son to blush. The people have ever were changed, some thought omin-
found in him a sound educator, who ously, by the omission of" France"
has not degraded the literature of from the declaration of sovereignty.
the country in popularizing it, but, Mr. Knight's father was a respect-
on the contrary, has elevated the able bookseller in the town, and his
taste of the middle classes, and fos- son, being then ten years old, and of an
tereil among them a capacity to observing disposition, stored up in his
enjoy the richest products of the na- memory many curious things—“old
tional genius. Mr. Knight's pen has customs,

as he beautifully says, been incessantly busy, even whilst his which línger about his early recolleccommercial undertakings involved the tions, “like patches of sunlight in a most serious responsibilities. Still, sombre wood.” The good dames of

on the proper ordering of his time, Windsor then, in mid-Lent, were care"ates that he has not found the two ful to prepare the dish called “fur

ations incompatible. Of his suc- mety,", according to ancient usage. ; a writer anil skill as an editor This dish, once famous, was comuld be superfluous to speak. posed of boiled wheat, which was a ng his many labours the “His- second time boiled with plums, and

of England” is that, perhaps, served, spiced and sugared, in a tureen. ..ch does him most honour. It The Rogation days of procession ill long occupy a distinguished place were observed. On the 10th of May, ..i the general libraries of English- mayor, vicar, curate, charity chil:peaking people in all parts of the dren, citizen, marched two and two Forld. The edition is a beautiful one, round the parish boundaries, and sung typographically, like all Mr. Knight's a psalm-gave public thanks “in the books; but the style of the compo- beholding of God's benefits,” as good sition is also charming in its ease, Queen Bess had directed, and were victuresqueness, and variety.

entertained, the common folk on ; In these “ Passages of a Working bread, cheese, and ale, and allthe better Life, there is an abundance of sort with wine. The Royal Family, amusing detail, without any of the at the same period, having no carfeebleness or garrulity of age. With riage road from the Castle or the more than his customary skill, Mr. Queen's Lodge, except through the Knight paints the Windsor of his town, were constantly in the public boyhood, with the doings of the eye, and beloved by the people. Of Court when George the Third was the old King Mr. Knight speaks with king, and all the quaint incidents of affectionate respect.

“There was a a social condition as far removed magnanimity about the man in his from present ways as if centuries in- forgetfulness of petty offences," and tervened. It is intended that the a general kindliness, which took all autobiography shall be completed in hearts. Farmer George” was three volumes, and we sincerely hope sneered at for his economies by a the author will carry out his intention rhymester of the time, but this was by the publication of the other two. not his reputation at Windsor ; and In this, the First Epoch only is given, an incident related by Mr. Knight coming down to *1827, when Mr. probably promoted his popularity Knight became connected with the among a certain class of the people. Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. But however crowded benediction was pronounced, vergers and

“At St. George's Chapel, the instant the the subsequent volumes may be with choristers blew out the lights. Perquisites reminiscences of literary celebrities were the law of all service. The good-na-' passed away, or of men still living tured King respected the law as one of our whose earlier struggles are but par- institutions. He dined early. The Queen VOL. LXIII.--- No. CCCLXXVI.




dined at an hour then deemed late. He boxes were too genteel for such emotional wrote or read in his own uncarpeted room, feelings. As the King, Queen, and Printill the time when he joined his family in cesses retired at the end of the third act, to the drawing-room. One evening, on a sud- sip their coffee, the pot of Windsor ale, den recollection, he went back to his library. called Queen's ale, circulated in the gallery. The wax-candles were still burning. When At eleven o'clock the curtain dropped." he returned, the page, whose especial duty was about the King's person, followed his Mr. Knight tells a capital story of Majesty in, and was thus addressed, 'Clarke, a Windsor magistrate of those days. Clarke, you should mind your perquisites. I blew out the candles.' The King's savings “Late in the evening an offender was were no savings to the nation. In 1812 it brought before one of our mayors, having was stated in the House of Commons that been detected in stealing a smock-frock from the wax lights for Windsor Castle cost ten a pawnbroker's door. Look in “ Burn's thousand a year."

Justice," ' said his worship to his son, 'look

in the index for smock-frock.' Can't find In juxtaposition with this remin- it, father. Not there.' 'What! no law iscence of the King, let the reader against stealing smock-frocks? D- my place Mr. Knight's portrait of his heart, young fellow, but you've had a lucky Majesty's faithful and highminded escape.' ' servant :

There was a yeomanry corps com“Soon was the minister walking side by posed of the “best fellows” in Windside with the sovereign, who, courageous as A pursy wine-merchant was the he was, had a dread of his great servant till commander, and it happened on a he had manacled him. It was something certain occasion that, not being as to me, even this once, to have seen Mr. Pitt. The face and figure and deportment of the well moninted as his men, as he headed man gave a precision to my subsequent con

a charge, they opened right and left, ception of him as one of the realities of his- leaving him in the rere, when he tory. The immobility of those features, the roared out with a sublime indignation erectness of that form, told of one born to -“ Unparalleled in the annals of command. The loftiness and breadth of the war, gentlemen.' Those were times forehead spoke of sagacity and firmness

of excitement, in comparison with the quick eye, of eloquent promptitude-the which our late little invasion-panic nose (I cannot pass over that remarkable

was a mere ruffle on the surface. feature, though painters and sculptors The King was accustomed then to infailed to reproduce it), the nose, somewhat

vite the volunteer officers to the front twisted out of the perpendicular, made his enemies say his face was as crooked as his of the castle on Sunday evenings to policy. I saw these characteristics, or had hear sacred music played, but as he them pointed out to me afterwards. But walked on the terrace, and as his the smile, revealing the charm of his inner spirits rose with the inspiring strains, nature-that was to win the love of his in- he would interrupt the celestial timates, but it was not for vulgar observa- melody with a stentorian call for tion."

“Britons, strike home,” when the The same brilliant pen sketches the bandsmen of course instantly obeyed, interior of the Windsor playhouse.

and tremendous enthusiasm was the re

sult. The Royal Family went annually " One side of the lower tier of boxes was

to Weymouth, performing the journey occupied by the Court. The King and

of a hundred miles very differently Queen sat in capacious arm-chairs, with

The satin playbills spread before them. The from a flight by "express.” orchestra, which would hold half a dozen King, as they stopped to change fiddlers, and the pit, where some dozen per- horses, stepped forth, and joked with sons might be closely packed on each bench, mine host, and acknowledged the separated the royal circle from the genteel huzzas of the villagers with a beamparties in the opposite tier of boxes.

Withing countenance. No railway directhe plebeians in the pit the Royal Family tors then obtruded themselves with might have shaken hands; and when they fulsomeand ungrammatical addresses. left, there was always a scramble for their satin bills, which would be afterwards duly

Among Mr. Knight's first efforts in framed and glazed as spoils of peace. As

a literary direction was his successful the King laughed and cried, 'Bravo, Quick!' attempt to “restore” the defective or 'Bravo, Suett!'-for he had rejoiced in portions of an imperfect copy of their well-known mirth-provoking faces Shakspeart—the first folio- with many a time before,--the pit and gallery which he had been presented. The clapped and roared in loyal sympathy: the occurrence is a proof that at a very

[ocr errors]

early age he had that habit of in- the park and castle-yard. “Thevenerdustry by which he has since been able man, blind but steady, was soon enabled to accomplish so much :- in the saddle, as I had often seen him “Sadly defective it was in many places. leading-rein. He rode through the

---a hobby-groom at his side with a I devised a plan for making the rare vol- little park to the great park. The ume perfect. The fac-simile edition, then bells rang; the troops fired a feu-derecently published, was procured. Amongst the oldest founts of type in our printing- joie. The King returned to the paoffice was one which exactly resembled that lace within an hour ;" but he never of the folio of 1623. We had abundant went forth those walls again. What fly-leaves of seventeenth-century books must have been the monarch's which matched the paper on which this thoughts during thisgleam of returned edition was printed. I set myself the task reason ? Was he conscious of the of composing every page that was wholly dismal mockery of that farewell prowanting, or was torn and sullied. When cession? the book was handsomely bound I was in

Soon after his brief school-days had raptures at my handiwork. I was to have the copy for myself; but one of the Eton

come to a termination, Mr. Knight private tutors, to whom my father showed settled down to the regular work of the volume, and explained how it had been journalism. In this department of completed, offered a tempting price for it, labour, high and varied qualities are and my treasure passed from me. Some necessary; and but few of the many real value remained. The process of setting men who attempt the pursuit are up the types led me to understand the es- found to possess them. The author sential differences of the early text, as com- of the “ Passages” ranks among the pared with modern editions with which I

successful. was familiar, especially those which had been started in Windsor, when only twenty

The paper which he mained and deformed for the purposes of the stage. What would I not now give,

one years of age, obtained considerable could I obtain this testimonial that I had circulation, and made him known in not been altogether uselessly employed in London. A revolution has occurred the morning of my life, before a definite in newspaper management since that purpose for the future had given energy time, and men of maturer political and consistency to my pursuits !

experience, and longer training, are

required for such positions now; but On the death of the Princess Mr. Knight entered upon his functions Amelia, the task was imposed upon as a public instructor with a lofty idea our author of making a catalogue of of their importance, and spared no her library, and there he found in a exertion necessary to their fulfilment. blank leaf of her prayer-book a touch- That habit of industry, acquired at ing prayer, which he considers it an early period of his life, which has “not now a violation of confidence to stood him in such good stead throughprint" :

out his honourable career, enabled “Gracious God, support thy unworthy

him to give his newspaper a literary ervant in this time of trial, Let not the position superior to that of many of least murmur escape my lips, nor any sen

its contemporaries. Essays on social timent but of the deepest resignation enter topics of importance, comprehensively my heart ; let me make the use Thou in- conceived, appeared in its columns ; tendest of that affliction Thou hast laid and it was during the preparation of upon me. It has convinced me of the vanity one of these compositions that Mr. and emptiness of all things here; let it Knight's attention was first seriously draw me to Thee as my support, and fill turned to the pestilential character of my heart with pious trust in Thee, and in the cheaper class of publications poputhe blessings of a redeeming Saviour, as the only consolations of a state of trial.

lar at the time, many of them infidelAmen."

itous, others socialistic. In order to

counteract their unhappy effects, he The King never recovered the death laboured even then to create among of the Princess. About six months the working classes a taste for sound after, in April 1811, he seemed to and profitable reading. He was conrally, and Windsor was astir, the re- stantly on horseback in the neighport having got abroad that his Ma- bourhood, picking up information for jesty's physicians would allow him to the “ Windsor and Eton Express”appear in public. His horse was got he seems to have filled the positions ready. The inhabitants crowded to of reporter, manager, and editor, at

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

once-and studying the condition of large share of the praise of the result the workpeople. For their benefit is undoubtedly his. His charming the “Plain Englishman” was started. pen has made our history popular; After a probation that must have his Cyclopædia and his Shakspeare seemed tedious to a man so active in are destined to live and influence the mind, notwithstanding the real in- national mind after more pretentious terest he took in his work, he was works of the same class are forcalled to London to conduct a weekly gotten. Mr. Knight has had many paper. Soon after “The Etonian", ardent and successful fellow-workmen came into existence, and along with and followers in the same career-the it his friendship began with Macaulay, Messrs. Chambers, Mr. Cassell, and Praed, and the brilliant set of Cam- inany more. We think it scarcely bridge students, who subsequently possible to rate too highly the service wrote the principal part of Knight's rendered to the community by these Quarterly. Of these distinguished enterprising persons. They have men his recollections are fresh and taught tens of thousands of working pleasing, especially of Praed, of whose men to prefer their firesides to places genius Mr. Knight is a sincere ad- of vicious indulgence, and given to mirer. In 1823 he established himself their minds a stimulus, the effects of in Pall Mall, East as a publisher. which have been manifested, not only His connexion with the Society for in substantial improvement of the the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge fortunes of individuals, but in the dates from 1827. His works then growth of inventive power and pracappeared in rapid succession, each a tical skill among the general popugreater success than the former-all lation. Literature as a profession, edited with scrupulous care, and too, owes much to this class of pubbrought out with elegance. Into the lishers. To their efforts the mullatter chapters of the volume in our tiplication of intelligent readers is hands, however, we cannot particu- principally referable, and the increase larly enter now, but the reader will of these has provided the best sort of find there the record of the Cheap fostering for genius. But we must Standard Literature of England-à here close Mr. Knight's delightful product of which the nation has reason book, with the simple

further remark, to be proud. From that feeling of pride, that we anticipate no ordinary pleasit need hardly be added, the name ure in the reading of the sequel of Charles Knight is inseparable. A promised to be furnished in due time.


BELIEVING that the course of the sen- pense, exciting sensations of horror, sational novel has passed the cul- or terror at least, and surrounding minating point, and bestowing our vice with a lurid splendour. The most hearty wishes forits termination, novel that excites a lively interest in we purpose to lay before our readers the fortunes of its good characters, a connected notice of a story of the even though united with the exciteclass, constructed before anyone had ment of suspense and mystery, is not thought of finding a generic name the thing against which we protest, for such productions.

if it possesses the desirable qualities The mere sensational novel, which we have named. we would gladly see devoted to the We talk of the article in question waters of the infernal Lethe, lays as if it were a variety in the domain no claim to truthful delineation of of fiction altogether new ; yet it has character, to moral teaching, to sym- existed in a more or less developed pathy with the outward and inward shape since the first romance was manifestations of nature, nor pleas- written. The “Golden Ass” of Luing social pictures, nor genial gushes cius Apuleius, one of the earliest of humour, nor healthy exercises tales we can call to mind, is sensaof thought. Its sole merit consists tional in parts. If the play of in keeping the mind in painful sus- King Edipus” is not a very sensa


tional drama, we know not the mean- healthy morbid thread may not be ing of the word. " The Mort found pervading the texture. The -d'Arthur” in part, a greater portion earlier phase of the school abounds of the “Nibelungen Lied,” several with supernatural distortion. plays of the earliest English drama- By way of variety, the soul of a tists, and Titus Andronicus, be the deceased person is permitted to aniauthor who he may, are clearly of mate the body of a new-born infant, the same order. Our great old Chau- and when the man or woman arrives cer thought little of making his read- at the age of reason he or she becomes ers' nerves tingle now and then, and conscious of a former state of existtheir flesh to creep.

The new relations with the acThe romances of chivalry were, quaintances of a past life are anyoddly enough nearly exempt from thing but pleasant. In one case an censure in this particular ; the Scu- unfortunate father and mother are deri and D'Urfé romances entirely so. convinced that their little daughter Novels of intrigue or of unconnected is animated by the soul and spirit adventure prevailed from the days of of her sister, long since dead. Mr. William anıl Mary to the epoch of Boaden of theatrical memory wasted the Radcliffe romances, and when a great cleal of time in constructing the mild terrors of these and their stories tainted with diseased extraimitations began to lose their power, vagances of this kind. Ainsworth's Matthew Gregory Lewis, by infusing early romances are other bad cases in a spice of horror mixed with very de- point, and the translation of the cided immorality, into his precious Nôtre Dame romance made matters productions, continued the evil work still worse than they would otherof vitiating public taste. At last the wise have been. Before the present combined efforts of Miss Edgworth, undesirable revival we enjoyed a Jane and Anna Maria Porter, the quiet interval of about fifteen years. Misses Lee, Miss Austen, and the We look out for clearer weather after great wizard, Sir Walter, cleared the a little ; but so sure as the use of unhealthy atmosphere, except where pens and paper continues to be the genius of poor Maturin enılea- taught, so sure are our children to voured to keep the baleful vapour see a new race of “Rookwoods” and suspended. He came too late, how- "Lady Audleys" introducing them

” ever, to do much harm, and for ten selves into the re-unions of future years, commencing about 1819, the Waverleys” and “ Rose Bradwarnovels published were distinguished dines” and “Emmas” and “Mr. by little either of good or evil. Sir Knightleys,” and pushing them from Edward Lytton Bulwer then began their stools. They will, in turn, be to introduce the spasmodic and mor- thrown over and flung out of doors, bid elements into his philosophical (?) but not till they have accomplished stories, and even “The Keepsake” was their share of mischief. seldorn without a tale of a pretty Something of the relation which a nearly disgusting character. A charm- river, sometimes visible, and at other ing heroine in one of these tales is times prosecuting its course through the object of the hero's passion, but underground channels, bears to a he is cured of his love, and nearly noble stream, never sinking below deprived of life by a strange disco- the surface till it reaches the sea, very made by his being present where does the English tale of excitement he ought not. He had never seen present toward its Gallic counterthe left hand nor wrist of his lady- part. We purpose producing a sheaf love, but on the occasion mentioned from among the perennial and neverhe beheld a hissing serpent where failing crop which is indispensable arm and hand onght anatomically to to the life and well-being of the have been found. The unfortunate regular consumers of the three-volume woman, it turns out, was obliged to novel, who can read French. find human food for this demon, and The story now to be introduced, is the horrified lover hears her vainly written by Marie Aycard, whom, notbeseeching it to spare her betrothed withstanding the Christian name, we (himself), when she would become guess to be no more a woman than his wife. There are few of poor Amedee Aycard, author of several Banim's stories in which an popular novels. We have seen no


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »