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We shall not direct attention to minuter points, comprehending that extensive class which, being of ready apprehension but tedious expression, is better reserved for the reader's sagacity; nor can we report otherwise than in a general way upon the beauties and excellencies which are strewed throughout, as unfortunately they are so interwoven with an inferior context, as to forbid quotation in their associated state, and, at the same time, to render the task of separation forcible and unsatisfactory. Many of the faults, however, it should be kept in view, are the offspring of carelessness, indolence, or inexperience, and thus far remediable; and this consideration, while it leaves the composition defective as it stands, will yet largely mitigate the censure which, without it, might be passed on the capacity of the writer.
Of the supplementary matter of the volume we are, as we have hinted, able to speak in laudatory terms. Being chiefly the results of sudden impulses, short but vigorous, they afford but little scope for the admission of those defects which we have noticed in his more complex and systematic performance; and embracing without exceeding, exercising without exhausting
the points and powers in which he excels, are, in the main, attractive, diversified, and well supported. His genius manifestly inclines to the descriptive rather than the dramatic line, aud, when he pretermits the dangers and difficulties of the latter, he often expatiates with a force and freedom which imply no mean degree of mastery.
We submit some fragments, which will, however, but imperfectly exemplify the tone and character of his shorter compositions, which embrace a variety of topics, versified in a variety of measures. The first is from a poem entitled "The Solitary," embodying a strange and fanciful conception, being descriptive-purely in a poetical way, of course-of the fate and feelings of a youth, who, cast on a desert isle in infancy, grows up the only being of his race among the denizens of the wild, still developing, however, the native supremacy and nobility of man, despite the shackles of hostile circumstance, and the inability of the dumb creation round to raise or answer to his aspirations. The lines will serve to represent a style to which the author's taste is prone, and in which he is frequently extremely happy.
"A solitary isle amidst the deep
A gorgeous isle, a living paradise,
Pillow'd far up beside the dreaming moon:
A calm retreat-as beauteous, and as rich
In all the sweet variety of shade,
As nature ever planted in the sea;
Where summer spreads an endless bed of flowers
Amidst the scented perfume."
"He was a strange enthusiast of the wild-
Which bound him, as he thought, to other forms
Than those which breath'd around him; his delight
Was oft to shun their wanderings, and climb
Alone some mountain's solitary crest,
When the sky swam in beauty; and the sun,
The centre of magnificence, like God,
Look'd through the golden curtains of the ere
In the numerous instances of that
to confer spirit, brevity, and comprehension. It were easy, as well as agreeable, to multiply illustrations; but a few stanzas from "The Death of Napoleon” must suffice, and, at the same time, form a desirable conclusion to our paper.
"The Master Spirit of a world,
Like eagle from his eyrie hurl'd,
Of days when he, earth's loftiest one,
"At his death-hour, a tempest broke,*
Whose giant billows shook the rock
The sea-surge lash'd to mist was driven
Athwart the blazing brow of heaven;
And with almighty sweep.
The rattling thunder shook the shore,
"It kindled up the fading ray
Charge-charge! your eagles have the day,
My cuirassiers advance;
An empire's spoil is your reward,
Strike down yon leopard-on, my guard,
Ye chosen hearts of France!
I've given I'll give earth's kingdoms law,
The glorious fight is ours-ha, ha!'
"Thus in the conflict's fearful strife,
“With the 5th of May came wind and rain, and a dreadful tempest, which uprooted all the trees about Longwood. Napoleon's passing spirit was deliriously engaged in a strife more terrible than that of the elements around. The words 'tête d'armée,' the last which escaped his lips, intimated that his thoughts were watching the current of a heady fight; and after a struggle, which indicated the original strength of his constitution, Napoleon breathed his last.”—Scott's Life of Napoleon.
Strove to the latest span of life,
He saw his thousand fights once more,
He heard the shock-the charge-the roar.
Ay, far more potent than the vow
Of kings combin'd against him now.
"He died that quiver was his last-
And hush'd for ever is that blast,
FEMALE PORTRAITS.NO. III.-LADY SYDENHAM.
THERE is, perhaps, no surer test of genius, either in a writer, an orator, or a painter, than the power possessed by master minds in any of these departments, of making us abjure (for the moment at least) all preconceived theories, and clothe ourselves and our sentiments in the garb prescribed for us by those, in the result of whose opinions we feel, at all events, compelled to acquiesce. One short month has scarcely passed since, enamoured of the flowing and unstudied draperies of the happy transition period between hoops and hop-sacks, I launched out in praise of the Grecian contour of a Cornelia by Romney; and yet, ever since I moored my chair in my friend's library, so as to sit whole afternoons in rapt contemplation of the full-length female portrait opposite, where the very genius of grace, as embodied by Sir Joshua, triumphs over the now once more familiar stiffness of our grandmother's costume, I have begun to think (with the fashionables of our own day) that long waists, ruffles, and stomachers, are "your only wear."
There is certainly in them something indissolubly linked with aristocracy and refinement; and while many happier modes of disguising a faulty person have been from time to time devised, few ever displayed to such positive advantage the perfection of an elegant one. We see from antique portraits why a "fine shape" was more insisted on than regular features by the female panegyrists of yore; and come to understand how the ravages of small-pox on the charms of the countenance, were often compensated by the symmetry of form which the closely fitting boddice and unornamented sleeve set off beyond the possibility of mistake. The small, delicate foot, too, peeped out so coquettishly from beneath the ample furbelow, and the beautifully rounded arm emerged with such a subdued charm from the light drapery of the deep transparent ruffle! Nor do the belles of our own time appear unaware of the cunning foil afforded by the long-exploded black lace mitten to fingers, which seem to spring forth doubly white and taper from its envious shroud.
The head-dress even-that more questionable point of ancestral female policy, in which alone our modern damsels resolutely innovate on antique usage the hair unnaturally taught to forsake the brow it seemed designed to shelter, and dragged from its free, native, resting-place, in "durance vile" of ruthless pin and bodkin-even this strange heresy served often to reveal the else perhaps unsuspected perfection of that exquisitely defined low forehead, pronounced by no mean judge of feminine beauty, “an excellent thing in a woman." In short-be all this as it may-I lived for the space aforesaid, and should have died, too, (if within sight of Sir Joshua's chef-d'œuvre,) in the belief that of all the devices for transforming into an angel a mere "creature of earth's mortal
mould," a pale pink negligée of some sixty years since, with its legitimate accompaniments, was the most rare and infallible.
Shall I ever cease to bear in my own mind's eye, or succeed in conveying to that of another, the slight aerial being, with features and form alike of celestial symmetry, who (in beautiful contrast to the deep and almost severe repose of her dignified opposite companion) seemed just arrested by the painter's art, while fitting across earth's surface on some sylph-like and yet feminine errand. The nature of her pursuit, indeed, was not left to the imagination, for a basket, the very graceful mould of which, like all else, had surely its origin in the artist's fancy, hung light, as if woven of gossamer, across one lovely rounded arm; while the taper fingers of the other buried their lily stems amid a "shower of roses" which brought-when coupled with the breezy figure of their bearerthe "etherial mildness" of the poet completely before the eye.
The only circumstance by which a personification, too bright, surely, when first conceived, "for aught beneath this visible diurnal sphere," was sobered and brought down to the level of mortality, was the evanescent character (elsewhere alluded to) of our greatest portrait-painter's colouring. If "all that's bright must fade," never was the adage more truly verified than on the canvas of Sir Joshua. And here though the "vanishing tints" had happily stopped short of utter pallidness-there did pervade the lovely portrait a tone of colour 80 subdued, that pensiveness was now, spite of the youthful springiness of the figure, the prevailing expression of the countenance. The alabaster throatrendered still more dazzling by the black velvet collar, (our clever graudinother's most killing of necklaces) was no longer contrasted with the vermillion lip and rosy cheek which must, one felt, have been in youth the portion of one so redolent of health. Nay the very roses in the basket had paled their blossoms, as if in envy of superior loveliness now itself faded; and all spoke sadly, softly, yet resistlessly of the decay inseparable from earth's loveliness, and the yet colder, stiller aspect that joyous form had long since been taught by death
Struck-fascinated, however, by the matchless grace which, had its bare outlines alone been discernible, the picture must even then have exhibitedand yielding to a prejudice I am old-fashioned enough, wrong or right, to cherish-I could not help saying to Sir Edward in our next tête-a-tête
"There's blood enough certainly in all the pictures on your walls, to justify my old-world notions on the subject of aristocracy in beauty. But of all the fine women, by whom that blood seems to have been handed down since the Conquest, I don't think one looks so thoroughly élite as the lovely creature yonder, whose foot Cinderella might have envied, and whose hand speaks volumes for her origin. She is noble, I am sure, as the French say "jusqu'au bout des doigts."
"You never were farther out in your life, Will," said the Baronet, laughing heartily, (though the last man in the world to laugh at any thing ancien régime, not even a venerable prejudice,)" as you'll say when you hear that the princess of your fancy was a Connaught farmer's daughter! And yet a princess she may be, after all, and of more descents than a German one, too, if the Milesian stories so dear to her country are to be believed-for no (and she is one) ever
came but of royal blood, and Uncle Guy would never allow it to be a misalliance between a cadet of the house of Sydenham, and a scion of the kings of Connaught. I never saw my fair grand aunt till time had made sadder havoc on her roses thau on Sir Joshua's canvas: but if the vision which haunts my childish memory of an alabaster statue in black drapery does not deceive me, grace and dignity were her's to advanced age, which might have become a duchess."
"But Edward," said I, interrupting him, in my impatience-"how came a farmer's daughter, all angel or princess though she were, to find admittance into a family so intrenched in pride, as-forgive me for saying it-your's (till your late cousin's unhappy alliance) had always shown itself ?"
"Oh!" replied he, gaily, "love laughs at quarterings; and never more effectually than when it gains a lodgment in the well-garrisoned breast of a rough, middle-aged veteran. Uncle Guy (my grand uncle, of course, he, you remember, in the gallery, with the bluff, soldier-bearing, manly-scarred visage, and threecornered hat of true Kevonhuller dimensions) was just the man to surrender at discretion, when the spirit of romance, so omnipotent in the heroic bosom, was fairly evoked. And though (for there's a riddle as well as a romance in his
history) he did not marry the object before whom his pride of birth was veiled in the dust"
Do you mean to say," exclaimed I hastily, "that he fell in love with any thing prettier than that lovely creature before us?"
Not a bit prettier," answered the Baronet-"nay (as I have heard, on contemporary authority) not quite, if any thing, so beautiful. And yet the woman he married was not the one he surrendered his heart and his pride to." "Am I to believe, then, that such lovely creatures hunt in couples, to distract poor single gentlemen, and make fools of colonels of horse?"
Believe just as much or as little as you please on the subject," said Sir Edward, yet more enigmatically. With the daughter of a Connaught farmer Uncle Guy fell in love, and the daughter of a Connaught farmer became (as the catalogue there will perhaps satisfy you) Dame Evelyn Sydenham, wife of Sir Guy Sydenham, governor of - -, aud colonel of his majesty's regiment of dragoons. And yet, Dame Evelyn aforesaid and Uncle Guy's first (or, I ought rather, perhaps, to say, considering what a Philander he had been all his life, his last) unwedded flame were not one and the same person."
I always hated mysteries, Ned," said I, peevishly, "at least those which, without a key, there is no hope of elucidating. So just put me out of pain; with this one proviso, that nothing you may tell me 's to disenchant that radiant vision, or disturb the sweet memory of it which I hope to carry to my grave."
"You are more
"I'll ensure you against that," replied Sir Edward, gaily. likely to remember it than ever, when I have told you (which, being such an old story, I must do very imperfectly) how that picture came to claim a place, and an honorable one, too, I assure you, in our family collection. I am a sad ignoramus about Ireland, and shall make strange work, I fear, with manners and localities; but you, who have been, I believe, in the green isle, can, perhaps. put me right. At all events, you'll know exactly how it should all be, and fill up blanks in my old-world narration. I had it chiefly from Aunt Mabel; but it was the letters from the stricken hero himself, while endeavouring to reconcile his friends to a very startling alliance, which first interested me, as a boy, in the affair; and showed me how couleur-de-rose love could paint matters, even when the pencil was wielded by as plain (his enemies were wont to call him Guy of Gaunt) a son of Mars, as ever concealed a soul of mingled fire and gentleness under a rough, yet gentlemanlike exterior.
"But I feel that I ought-to inspire you with any thing like adequate interest -to introduce you more at length to Sir Guy, (as he became on assuming, as the reward of long services, a colonial government.) And if, while I am sketching the veteran, and you are looking at the picture, the musing tale of Beauty and the Beast comes across your recollection-pray remember, how fond, spite of his looks, 'la belle' became of her metamorphosed husband; and assure yourself that the lovely being yonder returned, in all its truth and devotedness, the manly affection which years only served to enhance and deepen.”
My great grandfather, Sir Godfrey,
It was, however, a moving body in more senses than one; for long ere the youthful "ancient" could wield the pair of colours which had floated before his juvenile fancy, the corps itself, at the peace of 17, was disbanded, and the tall, young, would-be soldier cast adrift,
professionless and provisionless, upon a too, too pacific world. The world, however, is seldom long in this antibelligerent mood. Its "voice" (in some quarter or other) " is still for war ;" and this being in Guy's ear at nineteen the "most sweet" of possible "voices," he flew at its call to join, as a volunteer, the army of Prince Ferdinand in Ger many. Alter serving con amore and sans pay, till some military experience and much barren praise had fallen to his portion, he was enabled, by good interest at home, and a good word from abroad, to put himself at the head of a small corps of auxiliaries (chiefly raised on his father's northern estates) an