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“They will not give a direct negative, and decline an affirmative; and in this way they trifled with us for months," he observed.
On returning home, as well as while he was abroad, he was a contributor to the New Monthly Magazine of no small value ; but he gave up contributing at the end of 1825 or 1826, while his brother James contributed to that periodical down to the end of 1830.
The reason was, that he became a novel writer, and commenced his career by the publication of “ Brambletye House,” his first and best work of that class. This line of authorship was then lucrative indeed compared to the present worthlessness of the pursuit, good or bad as the product may happen to be in a literary sense; showing but too plainly that the public taste is as capricious and ill-grounded as that of fashion in other things. To this line of authorship Horace Smith applied himself, and produced several works in succession, of varying degrees of merit. Previously, in 1821, he had published a volume entitled “The Nympholept," from the name of the principal poem. We know not what the circulation was, but being a pastoral drama it was not likely to have been considerable. To the longer poem was attached a pretty story called “ Lucy Milford,” and several sonnets. His name was not affixed to the title-page. The term “ Nympholepsy,” it is probable, was “caviare to the general.” We can remember, however, that we perused the copy presented to us with great pleasure ; the simple images of the past and purer taste in poetry not having then lost their zest, or been superseded by metropolitan street-dialogues, or pictures of St. Giles's in verse. If amusing literature does not elevate or amend the mind, it is comparatively useless. But in Smith's writings there was always the sentiment of good. He worked ever in the right direction, whether touching good-naturedly upon trivial follies, or assailing vulgar errors. Playful or serious, he never dragged our humanity downwards to aid the common order of mind in banqueting upon social corruption.
We have remarked that it was about 1826 that he published his first novel. He had some time before taken up his abode at Tunbridge Wells, quitting London and his lodgings at 142, Regent-street, of which he declared himself heartily sick. Even at this distance of time, we remember a dinner he gave there before he started—the last, it is probable, he ever gave in London--and the hilarity of the guests, among whom were some of the celebrated wits of the time, most of whom are now no
At Tunbridge Wells we soon paid him a visit, while residing in Mount Edgecumbe Cottage. He was, as usual, kind, entertaining, and hospitable. We think of that time with melancholy pleasure. His qualities were the most amiable, the most gentle, in those days, that can be conceived. Surely, if integrity, sincerity, and real friendliness deserve happiness, they must be his. There we met an old friend of his, whom we have not seen for years—a clever and ingenious man ; the author of a novel not enough known. Prior to his arrival, the weather being very warm, we were puzzled how to employ ourselves. We walked to the rocks; one of which Smith called the - Titanic toad,” from its resemblance to that reptile. We returned ; it was too hot to talk, it was anti-social to sleep; motion was declared to be best after all. get a vehicle, and perform a pilgrimage to Penghurst." It was no sooner
said than done. Horace was in one of his best moods for conversation ; and those who knew him in those moods can alone appreciate the pleasure of his companionship, especially when third parties were not present. The subjects touched upon have faded from memory, but not so the impression left of that pleasant morning. We only remember that the larger part of our discourse was serious, and touched upon the destiny of man—upon his nothingness, even when invested with the virtues of a Philip Sidney. As we passed through the venerable rooms, and examined the moth-eaten hangings, the pictures mildewed by time, and while standing before the portrait of “Sidney's sister-Pembroke's mother," a conversation ensued upon the pleasures derived from visiting places of that character. We were conjecturing how the same rooms once looked when the gay and gallant, the “fair and wise and good,” thronged them. Smith remarked that such buildings were the best foundation-scenes for novels ; and it was no wonder they had been so often chosen.
This visit was the origin of “ Brambletye House," on which he was soon busily at work. We cannot recollect whether it was while he was about this or a subsequent novel, that some one recommended the female appellation of Zillah to him, as a peculiarly pleasing name for a similar work. “To me," said Horace, “it must, of course, be doubly interesting. She was a lady of the very earliest descent; the mother of Tubal Cain, the first of the Smiths, and, of course, the founder of my family.”
His attachment to Tunbridge Wells originated, perhaps, in early associations. It was once the residence of Cumberland and Bland Burges, who had encouraged his early efforts in literature. He showed us Cumberland's residence; and walking one day up to Frant Church, he spoke of the superiority of Tunbridge as a residence to any place he knew. Years after, at Brighton, where he took up his abode at first as far from the sea as possible, he repeated his regard for Tunbridge, and boasted of its superiority over Brighton. It seemed to us as if he was kept in suspense between the beauty of nature at Tunbridge and the advantage of superior society in Brighton. He was a true lover of nature. One of his favourite haunts had been Knole, in the vicinity of Sevenoaks, where the trees are remarkably fine, and the antique of our rough forefathers attaches the mind to the relies of perished generations. Knole is mine as much as the Duke of Dorset's. He can only walk in his grounds; I do the same, and enjoy them equally without the trouble and expense of keeping them."
Hook began a set of papers in the New Monthly which were called the " Thompson Papers.” . Both the Smiths were to contribute to them, and Horace was to arrange them as they came in from different sources. Hook broke down after the first article ; and Smith beginning “ Brambletye House,” found his novel occupied all the time he could afford to give up to literature. The idea seems to have been a good one. The communications were to be in the shape of letters, and to include all subjects of the hour ; but two of them only appeared.
Horace Smith always declared that he found novel-writing a task much less arduous than writing constantly for a magazine, owing to the necessity of finding new subjects, and then having to handle them often
times with an injurious brevity. About ten years ago he was on the point of giving up writing altogether. His views regarding the literature of the hour were exceedingly just. He was of opinion that the continual straining after novelty would have the effect of leading writers further and further from that nature and simplicity upon which alone an enduring literature is based. He feared that we were returning to the childhood of literature again. He was on the point, as he phrased it, of not "troubling the world any more with his scribblings,” after 1840. He felt, he said, “ that he was getting old." Yet he did not adhere to this resolution, though in periodical literature he had done nothing for a good while, so that he began to express his fear lest his “ hand had lost its cunning," for he had "lain too long, fallow.” He had an objection, also, to that degrading fashion of placarding authors' names on the walls, with police bills of rewards for catching felons, and with quack doctors' bills. He said one day, “Marryat bas been telling me that he had agreed to write for a new paper called the edited by Frank Mills; but that he objected vehemently to see the walls plastered with his name, feeling it to be somewhat infra dig.: and in this I fully agree with him.”
His sense of growing old—or the feeling of it-eight or nine years before his death, was often repeated to us. The last time he alluded to it he said he felt it in various ways, and continually in the change of his children from childhood to maturity. He would remark upon it, and then add, “ Thank God, we are well, in good health and spirits, disposed to make the best of every thing, and to enjoy the world as well and as long as we can.” This was his happy frame of mind-placid, contented, and resigned. It was the temperament of a choice few in the world, and those among the wisest and best.
His old acquaintance, Thomas Hill, was ever the aim of a goodnatured joke on the part of Smith. Hill was a very singular character, well known to all his contemporaries who were literary men, and died in 1840. Those who had known him, like Smith, from their own youth upwards, even his most intimate acquaintance, had no knowledge of his age, which Hill studiously concealed. His appearance was in his favour, and aided him in making himself seem much younger than he really was. Meeting Smith just after Hill's decease, he said, "So poor Hill has gone at last! It appears to have surprised every body, the world seeming to think that he couldn't die. I see the papers state him to have been eighty-one.” Hill was often called “the immortal” by his friends; and, in truth, the greenness of his age was sufficiently remarkable.
Horace Smith had a great regard for his own productions in verse, which were collected and published in two volumes two or three years since. Some of them had been exceedingly popular.
We know no parallel instance of two brothers being so successful in their literary labours as James and Horace Smith. It is useless to enumerate the works of the latter ; those of James were all published by his brother in a couple of volumes. The works of Horace are numerous and several remain to this hour
anonymous. In the loss of such individuals as Horace Smith, it is not merely the literary world that seems to lose a part of a long-accustomed association ; the friendly circle, the vicinity of his residence, every local undertaking to aid which he was a contributor, suffers also. He was eminently useful in private life, wherever he could so render himself. Then there was a
warmth of heart in his hospitality—a strength of friendship, which seemed rather a part of the natural man than any acquirement. Ile could not, it appeared, be otherwise if he would. His social qualities were very visible and attaching. On those who met him for the first time, they always left an indelible impression. He had at one time-perhaps he never gave it up-an idea of human perfectibility, or the possibility of a near approach to it at some future period. These hopes of human advancement were strong. He contended that, as - nothing stood still, and a far greater portion of the mass of mankind was largely in advance of what it was in ancient times, when there were a few individuals of a higher order of mind than in later days, so he believed the benefit then confined to a few was now diffusing around a wider circle, and thus bringing by slow gradations the advancement of general happiness. He would not believe that the Supreme Being was a being of vengeance, who devoted the larger part of mankind to destruction hereafter. Thinking that such a doctrine derogated not only from the benevolence but the omniscience of the Creator, who must have foreknown all things, he thought that the end of his creation was concealed from man, Providence not being accountable to the creature of a moment; and that in the words of Mülner
The wherefore may when the dead rise be told us. Hence the foundation of that evenness of mind and temper—that beneficence which was stamped upon his character; and hence, too, much of that simplicity, and disregard of the “low ambition" of many who had not half the claims to superiority which he had. He overlooked this in the philosophical contemplation of ultimate results. Equally agreeable in the lively or serious mood, he ever exhibited principles based upon what he considered an immoveable foundation. He showed no wavering. He complied often with the fancies and prejudices of others for the sake of those who held them, so far as not to disturb them. He loved peace before all things; and though the delight of any assembled circle, either of wits or of society at its common level, they never knew half his mental worth and excellence, who in his best days had not enjoyed his scciety in an insulated state. Many of his ideas were novel and striking. While he endeavoured to reconcile the condition of humanity with his own views of the justice and goodness of Heaven, he had a great dislike of that too prevalent sin, the preaching up one doctrine and practising its opposite. Homines ignari opera, philosophi sententia, raised his abhorrence.—But enough. We might proceed to a great length on a matter in which the truth might be supposed to be violated through the partiality of friendship, by those who take superficial views of things. We therefore leave the subject, with the assertion that we might have better spared a better man; and with regret-a regret, alas! not uncommon, to witness the ravage death makes around us of those who were once the ornament, delight, and honour of society ; exclaiming in the words of another, not without the full impress of the feeling their sense induces, “ Good Heaven! how often are we to die before we go off this stage? In
friend we lose a part of ourselves, and the best part. God keep those we have left! Few are worth praying for, and ourselves the least of all !"
THE BROTHER’S SUMMONS.
BY MRS. ACTON TINDAJ..
FRANCIS, first Duke of Brittany, conceived a violent hatred against his brother, the Prince Gilles; he confined him for many years in dismal dungeons, and after in vain attempting to poison him, he was strangled in the prison of Mount St. Michel, on the coast of Brittany. A poor brother of the Cordeliers heard his dying confession through the bars of the dungeon-window. The dying man summoned his tyrannical brother to meet him in forty days at the bar of God. This message was delivered to the Duke Francis by the Cordelier, who met him returning from a victorious campaign. History further records, that before forty days, were passed the Duke Francis had gone to his great account, and was succeeded by a surviving brother.-Roujoux's Histoire des Ducs de Bretagne.
The bold Duke from the battle rode,
The foremost of the warrior band;
The trumpet sounded through the land;
A friar barefooted and grey;
And barred with his weak arm the way;
“Monarch," the friar gravely said,
I come with feeble, faltering tread,
“New grants make I to thee and thine,
And on the Virgin's holy shrine
“ 'Tis not of earth that I must tell;
Thy summons to the deepest hell.