« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
ideas affecting, not a cottage, but a kingdom. “ It becomes,” says he,“ obvious now by contrast, a powerful mode of demonstration, how much Spain could be a gainer by a judicious system of agriculture;" and then he breaks forth, overpowered by the torrent of his feeling, “ What a magical revolution it alone would make in her statistical modification!”
This is what has been called by one of those pests of society," a wit, “ taking things in the lump, without stopping at minute considerations." The author seems to suppose, that it is much more convenient to state simply a general conclusion, than to detail the arguments that lead to it; since, by the mere exposition of the former, the reader is made acquainted with all the writer knows, and any comparison of the premises with the inference, might unnecessarily disturb his conviction.
By the few examples we have already supplied from the work, the sort of style of composition to which Mr. Keatinge is attached must have been ascertained. We have seen him from vulgar rules with brave disorder part," but under this deviation, it is difficult sometimes to know to wbat higher direction he has submitted. It cannot have escaped the notice of the reader, that the class to which our author belongs is of the lengthy or sesquipedalian; and as his words are protracted, so a sort of happy coincidence is maintained in the remoteness of his ideas. The Colonel is not a convert to the opinion, that in orthoepy there is no difference between a word of six syllables and six monosyllables, the latter being so intimately blended that the ear cannot, like the eye, distinguish their separation; and such is his regard for fine words, that he does not lose time in examining either into the purity of the grammar, or the applicability of the meaning, despising concord in either, and every where preferring, like the adepts in the science of music, sound to sense.
With such peculiarities in regard to the English, we may expect some in the Spanish tongue. A luminous passage regarding the accommodations on the road is as follows:
“ The inns, so far, from Madrit, are on the magnificent establishment. It is presumable, here is an intended classification of them by especial denominations. Posada we know means no more than a lodging-place. Venta boasts (fallacious hope too often!) a step of elevation, and tells us supplies are there to be had for money, Fonda (Arabicè Fondagh) is a remnant of Moorish days, in equal use with the rest, but less definite. Uostalris is a place of general reception; but a new establishment, resolved to be original throughout, assumes the name of Meson. This seems a compliance with that tendency in the present day to Frenchify the Spanish language; that same inducement which has led some courtly writers here to substitute the French u for their own sonorous 0, but whose vil. lanous saffron, it is to be hoped, will fail upon the dough of the country at large.”
Posada is from posar to repose; venta is from vender to sell, but the step of elevation" we do not discover. Fonda, he says, is of equal use with the rest, but it is wholly in disuse and is not Spanish in any sense that is here applied to it. Uostalris is not a Spanish word, but Hostal was anciently employed. Meson is never now named. How the reader is to puzzle out his classification from such a Lingua Franca we do not know; but we can assure Mr. Keatinge that there is no tendency to “ Frenchify” the Spanish language, and as to the delinquency of the courtly writers," the “ villanous saffron” whicho" it is hoped will fail upon the dough of the country at large, we have no ray of light to encourage us to seek for his meaning. A writer in his inquiries as to the several kinds of geniuses, dealers in the profound, amuses himself with an arrangement sufficiently appropriate from natural history, and he resembles the class to which Mr. Keatinge belongs, to the didapper“ authors, that keep themselves long out of sight under water, and come up where you least expect them.
The gentleman now advances with more rapidity, and we must follow his steps.
“ CORDOVA presents to the traveller Mohammedan scenery. A few short hours of route convey him from Etruria to Bagdats. This place was chosen by the Mohammedans with their usual judgment. Descriptions of it are to be met with in abundance. Command of water was, with reason, and necessarily, a requisite in their social establishments; there tendency to which was very peculiar, since man in general, by the selfishness of his disposition, unless unavoidably compelled, prefers insulated situations. Even when demiciliated, which is not the result of propensity, he prefers living on the profit, and of course in the centre of his agricultural labours."
We are not aware at all in what way the author got to modern Tuscany, or what that country has to do with the subject : Bagdats, we presume, is a misnomer for Bagdat; and in how many hours or minutes his flighty imagination may convey him from the one to the other, is a calculation
that we have no quantities numeral or literal to determine. The bold period on the command of water with the peculiar tendency of the Mahometans to this aquatic authority, we at first thought had some allusion to maritime power; and we were astonished when we discovered the import of the whole to be narrowed to the utility of that simple element in common life. This is a fine specimen of what is called by rhetoricians amplificatio, or vulgarly, the making the most of a thing. A writer of the last century denominates it the spinning wheel of the art. “There are amplifiers,” says he, 6 who can extend half a dozen thin thoughts over a whole folio; but for which the tale of many a vast romance, and the substance of many a fair volume might be reduced into the size of a primmer.'
A little onwards the Colonel, (perhaps from a kind of professional hostility) again quarrels with the ordinary names of places, and the customary distinctions of science, and he tells us
“ ANDALUSIA (or Vandalusia), the tract south of the Sierra Morena, or between the Guadalquivir and the sea, forns the lowest of the three well defined levels which the surface of Spain presents. Thus the geology of Spain is an alternation of edges and horizontals; the former, fragments of a wreck, the latter in some instances the alluvial deposits, of Nature, the argillaceous in La Mancha here arenose.* This is a tract of loamy sand, where water is found at a yard's depth below the surface. Here it emerges from below, in La Mancha it is retained from above."
The author is as peculiar in his geographical descriptions as he is in his nomenclature. It might be supposed from this account that the Guadalquivir (Gualdalquivir) was the northern boundary of Andalusia (Andaluzia). The reader, according to every other account and to every map that has been published, would be wholly misled in such a conjecture. The Gualdalquivir (Arabick great river) rising in the mountains of Gazarla, in New Castille, divides into equal portions the province of Andaluzia, and five leagues below Seville falls into the ocean. Every schoolboy knows that the limits of the province are to the north New Castille and Estremadura, to the west Portugal, to the east Murcia and Granada, and to the south the Straits of Gib. raltar, the Bay of Cadiz, and a spacious gulph, the ex. tremities of which are formed by the shores of the Gual. dalquivir and Guadiana. Having explained thus much of
* I deduce this word from arena, as the most expressive.
his geography, we may observe that his geology, with his “ alternation of edges and horizontals," is equally incorrect, as far we can pretend to understand him, and the paragraph if in any way intelligible, is a curious example of the periphrasis according to the definition long since given :" A confused circumlocatory manner of expressing a known idea, which should be so mysteriously couched as to give the reader the pleasure of guessing what it is that the author can possibly mean, and an agreeable surprise when he finds it out."
On quitting Europe, the author appears as if standing on an eminence, and taking a general survey of the kingdoms he has traversed. He here seems to be collecting all his mental strength for the occasion. As the most striking form of illustration is comparison, or rather contrast, we find him resorting to it, and since a genuine writer of the profound will take care to imitate nature by magnifying the object, and clouding it at the same time, he has closely adhered to this rule of composition—" No light, but rather darkness visible.”
“ For the purpose of possessing in the mind a good idea of so great an object as a nation, it is necessary that the image should be so concentrated, its features so condensed, as to be rendered capable of being retained upon the mind without confusion. In regard however first to France:- In that country we see one, to judge of which, a personification will avail us. France is a great nation, of prodigious physical and moral resources, but under a system in every respect inadequate to the display and effort of her mighty means. May it not be said of that country, that France has outgrown the vib, leading-strings, and rod? It is obvious what she suffers by. The case of Spain is entirely different, but the same principle of comparison will avail here. Spain labours under the decrepitude produced by accumulation of political evils. Expansion is called for by oņe state, exoneration by the other; one is supine, the other prostrate. The political institutions which might ruie a Frankish confederacy of illiterate and adventurous warriors are utterly inadequate to a domiciliated people, and the feudal claims are not less so.
Such political evils, any one of which has ever been felt a material detriment to a state, are utterly intolerable to one debilitated beyond the endurance of pressure.”
In the second part of the first volume we have, through about 150 pages, an account of Mogadore, in south Barbary; historical anecdotes of Morocco and its government, court politics, prejudices, and amusements.
The next volume supplies the route from the city of Morocco to Tangier, with observations on the Arabs and Moors; and after giving an account of the Tunny fishery at Xonil, the author notices his return to Spain by the way of Cadiz, whither we do not feel at all disposed to follow him; having accompanied him so far through his first expedition in that country.
În what is called part the third of the second volume, we have a journey through France in 1814, but the town has been so overwhelmed of late with itineraries through that country, that it would be very difficult for us to introduce any extracts from this portion of the work, that would be either new or entertaining, even with the assistance of all the eccentricities of the military author.
This is not the first time that this gentleman has appeared before the public, and the very title of his former publication confirms, in the shortest form, our criticism on the present; it is “ Eidometria Local, Viatorial, and military.”
It is astonishing to see the pleasure some persons take in rendering themselves obscure. If this gentleman had as diligently endeavoured to use properly his own language as to pervert it, and to make himself intelligible as to confound all meaning, we indulge the hope that he would have succeeded. But if we may judge from the date of the publication just alluded to, the disorder has remained with him at least for four years, and we fear therefore he must be referred to the list of incurables. We, however, are full as anxious for private as for public reform, and will afford him all our aid, if he will accept of it, on any future occasion when he will descend from the pomp and magnificence he affects, into the plainness and simplicity we admire; when he will distinguish between redundancy of words and luxuriancy of imagination; and finally, when he will avoid every attempt at imposition by false brilliancy, on that public whom it is our duty from such artifices to protect. In the mean while, anxious to find for him some consolation, we will take leave of him with the sentiment of the Roman critic: “ Facilé remedium est ubertatis : sterilia nullo labore vincuntur."