The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction
Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Joshua Hutchinson and the Online Distributed
THE MIRROR OF LITERATURE, AMUSEMENT, AND INSTRUCTION.
VOL. XIX. NO. 543.] SATURDAY, APRIL 21, 1832. [PRICE 2d.
* * * * *
[Illustration: Melrose Abbey.]
(_From a finished sketch, by a Correspondent_.)
These venerable ruins stand upon the southern bank of the Tweed, in
Roxburghshire. The domestic buildings of the monastery are entirely
gone; but the remains of the church connected with, as seen in the above
Engraving, are described by Mr. Chambers as "the finest specimen of
Gothic architecture and Gothic sculpture of which this country
(Scotland) can boast. By singular good fortune, Melrose is also one of
the most entire, as it is the most beautiful, of all the ecclesiastical
ruins scattered throughout this reformed land. To say that it is
beautiful, is to say nothing. It is exquisitely--splendidly lovely. It
is an object of infinite grace and immeasurable charm; it is fine in its
general aspect and in its minutest details; it is a study--a glory." We
confess ourselves delighted with Mr. Chambers's well-directed
 Picture of Scotland, vol. i.
A page of interesting facts towards the history of the Abbey will be
found appended to the "Recollections" of a recent visit by one of our
esteemed Correspondents, in _The Mirror_, vol. x., p. 445. In the
present view, the ornate Gothic style of the building is seen to
advantage, but more especially the richness of the windows, and the
niches above them: the latter, from drawings made "early in the reign of
King William," were originally filled with statues; and, connected with
the destruction of some of them, Mr. Chambers relates the following
anecdote "told by the person who shows Melrose:"
"On the eastern window of the church, there were formerly thirteen
effigies, supposed to represent our Saviour and his apostles. These,
harmless and beautiful as they were, happened to provoke the wrath of a
praying weaver in Gattonside, who, in a moment of inspired zeal, went up
one night by means of a ladder, and with a hammer and chisel, knocked
off the heads and limbs of the figures. Next morning he made no scruple
to publish the transaction, observing, with a great deal of exultation,
to every person whom he met, that he had 'fairly stumpet thae vile
paipist dirt _nou!_' The people sometimes catch up a remarkable word
when uttered on a remarkable occasion by one of their number, and turn
the utterer into ridicule, by attaching it to him as a nickname; and it
is some consolation to think that this monster was therefore treated
with the sobriquet of 'Stumpie,' and of course carried it about with him
to his grave."
The exquisite beauty and elaborate ornament of Melrose can, according to
the entertaining work already quoted, be told only in a volume of prose;
but, as compression is the spirit of true poetry, we quote the following
If thou would'st view fair Melrose aright,
Go visit it by the pale moonlight;
For the gay beams of lightsome day
Gild but to flout the ruins gray.
When the broken arches are dark in night,
And each shafted oriel glimmers white;
When the cold light's uncertain shower
Streams on the ruin'd central tower;
When buttress and buttress, alternately,
Seem framed of ebon and ivory;
Wnen silver edges the imagery,
And the scrolls that teach thee to live and die;
When distant Tweed is heard to rave,
And the howlet to hoot o'er the dead man's grave,
Then go--but go alone the while--
Then view St. David's ruined pile;
And, home returning, soothly swear,
Was never scene so sad and fair.
* * * * *
By a steel-clench'd postern door,
They enter'd now the chancel tall;
The darken'd roof rose high aloof
On pillars, lofty, light, and small;
The key-stone, that lock'd each ribbed aisle,
Was a fleur-de-lys or a quatre-feuille;
The corbells were carved grotesque and grim;
And the pillars, with cluster'd shafts so trim,
With base and capital furnish'd around,
Seem'd bundles of lances which garlands had bound.
* * * * *
The moon on the east oriel shone,
Through slender shafts of shapely stone,
By foliated tracery combined;
Thou would'st have thought some fairy's hand
'Twixt poplars straight the osier wand
In many a freakish knot had twined;
Then framed a spell, when the work was done,
And changed the willow-wreaths to stone.
 Built by David I. in 1136.
 Corbells, the projections from which the arches spring,
usually cut in a fantastic face, or mask.
 Sir Walter Scott's "Lay of the Last Minstrel."
The monks of Melrose were caricatured for their sensuality at the
Reformation. Their Abbey suffered in consequence; for the condemnator,
out of the ruins, built himself a house, which may still be seen near
the church. "The regality," says Mr. Chambers, "soon after passed into
the hands of Lord Binning, an eminent lawyer, ancestor to the Earl of
Haddington; and about a century ago, the whole became the property of
the Buccleuch family."
* * * * *
(_For the Mirror_.)
The most important advantages we enjoy, and the greatest discoveries
that science can boast, have proceeded from men who have either seen
little of the world, or have secluded themselves entirely for the
purposes of study. Not only those arts which are exclusively the result
of calculation, such as navigation, mechanism, and others, but even
agriculture, may be said to derive its improvement, if not its origin,
from the same source.
Where a cause is good, an appeal should be directed to the heart rather
than the head: the application comes more home, and reaches more
forcibly, where it is the most necessary--the natural rather than the
improved faculties of the human understanding.
Common sense is looked upon as a vulgar quality, but nevertheless it is
the only talisman to conduct us prosperously through the world. The man
of refined sense has been compared to one who carries about with him
nothing but gold, when he may be every moment in want of smaller change.
The grand cause of failure in most undertakings is the want of
unanimity. This, however, we find is not wanting where actual danger, as
well as possible advantage may accrue to the parties concerned. It is
whimsical enough that thieves and other ruffians, while they bid open
defiance to the laws, both of God and man, pay implicit obedience to
Aristotle laid it down as a maxim "that all inquiry should begin with
doubt." Whenever, then, we meet with mysteries beyond our feeble
comprehension, would it not be more rational to doubt the very faculty
we are employing--the capacity of our reason itself.
The most politic, because the most effectual way of governing in a
family, is for the husband occasionally to lay aside his supremacy; so
in public, as well as private life, that king will be most popular who
does not at all times exercise his full prerogative.
It would appear that there is a great sympathy between the mind of man
and falsehood: when we have a truth to tell, it takes better, if
conveyed in a fable; and the rage for novels shows, that we may not only
divert extremely without a syllable of truth, but truth is even
compelled to borrow the habit of falsehood to secure itself an agreeable
In our intercourse with others, we should endeavour to turn the
conversation towards those subjects with which our companions are
professionally acquainted: thus we shall agreeably please as well as
innocently flatter in affording them the opportunity to shine; while we
should acquire that knowledge which we could no where else obtain so
What an extraordinary method of reducing oneself to beggary is gambling!
The man who has but little money in the world, and knows not how to
procure more without risking his life and character, must needs put it
in the power of fortune to take away what he has. Put the case in the
opposite light, it is just as absurd: the man who has money to spare,
must needs make the experiment whether it may not become the property of
It is a mistake to suppose a great mind inattentive to trifles: its
capacity and comprehension enable it to embrace every thing.
The failing of vanity extends throughout all classes: the poor have but
little time to bestow on their persons, and yet in the selection of
their clothes we find they prefer such as are of a flaring and gaudy
Philosophy has not so much enabled men to overcome their weaknesses, as
it has taught the art of concealing them from the world.
That a little learning is dangerous is one of our surest maxims. If
knowledge does not produce the effect of ameliorating our imperfect
condition, it were, without question, better let alone altogether; it is
not to be made merely an appendix to the mind, but must be incorporated
and identified with it.
They who have experienced sorrow are the most capable of appreciating
joy; so, those only who have been sick, feel the full value of health.
By the expression "common people," is meant the man of rank as well as
the more industrious peasant; for in our estimate of men, the mind, and
not the eye, is the most proper judge.
Some men are, of course, more original thinkers than others, but all,
without exception, who hope to appear in print with any effect, must
first be readers themselves. It was said by Dr. Johnson, that more than
half an author's time was occupied in reading what others had said
concerning the subject he was himself writing upon.
Every man, in his more serious moments, must confess that he has done
few things in the course of his life he would not wish undone; and
experience must have shown him that the things he most feared would have
been better ihan those he most prayed for.
Vanity is our dearest weakness, in more senses than one: a man will
sacrifice every thing, and starve out all his other inclinations to keep
alive that one.
The man who trusts entirely to nature when he is sick, runs a great
risk; but he who puts himself in the hands of a physician runs a still
greater: of the two, nature would seem the better nurse, for she will,
at all events, act honestly, and can have no possible interest in
tampering with disease.
A great idea may be thus defined:--it gives us the perception of many
others, and it discovers to us all at once what we could only have
arrived at by a course of reading or inquiry.
We are told to place no faith in appearances, yet it will be found a
wiser course to judge from the human countenance rather than the human
voice: most men place a guard over their words and their actions, but
very few can blind the expression that is conveyed by the features.
To assist our fellow-creatures is the noblest privilege of mortality: it
is, in some sort, forestalling the bounty of Providence.
There is no doubt that memory, although it may be cultivated, is
originally a gift of nature; so, also, application must be regarded as a
natural endowment; for there are some men, however well disposed, who
can never bring themselves to grapple closely with any thing.
It has been suggested that man has no real necessity for clothing. All
other creatures are furnished with every necessary for their existence,
and it is improbable one nobler than them all should be left in a
defective condition: there are some nations, in severer climates than
ours, who have no notion of clothing; and, even in civilized life, the
most tender parts of the body are constantly exposed, as the face, neck,
It is the temper of a blade that must be the proof of a good sword, and
not the gilding of the hilt or the richness of the scabbard; so it is
not his grandeur and possessions that make a man considerable, but his
* * * * *
THE KNIGHT'S RETURN.
FROM THE GERMAN.
(_For the Mirror_.)
"Page, what sound mine ears is greeting,
Whence the lime-trees wave in pride?"
"'Tis, sir knight, the herds that bleating,
Wander o'er the mountain's side."
"Say, my page, what means this singing?
Notes so sad, some ill betide;"
"In the village, crowds are bringing
From the chapel, home a bride."
"Say then, why so slowly passes
Yon dark-rob'd and silent train?"
"From the saying bridal-masses,
Monks are coming o'er the plain."
"Speak then, why I now behold it;
Whence yon banner's milk-white hue?"
"Ask no further, they unfold it
To the bride an honour due."
"Say, my page, what means that writing
Graven on yon marble-stone?"
"'Tis the youth and maiden plighting
Love to one, and one alone."
"How, my page, that name the dearest?
See, and true its meaning tell."
"Know, and tremble as thou hearest,
"'Twas for secret love she fell."
"What! my page, if thus 'tis written,
If for love she dar'd to die,
Bertha dead! if thus 'tis written,
As she perish'd, so will _I_."
* * * * *
(_To the Editor._)
The amusing letter of _S.S._ in No. 536, of _The Mirror_, has but so
very recently met my eyes, that I have been obliged unavoidably to allow
some weeks to elapse ere I noticed it. Indeed, to advert to it at all, I
should not have considered necessary, but that your correspondent seems
to imply a doubt as to the accuracy of my assertion, in the article
"Shavings," (vide No. 533, p. 83.) Permit me, for the satisfaction of
your readers to state, that I was no "flying tourist," when the fact of
a very considerable waste of fuel in Edinburgh, (fuel which would, I
thought, sell in England, if not wanted in Scotland,) came repeatedly, I
may say, almost daily, under my own personal observation. A residence of
two years in Edinburgh (yes, it certainly was "the Scottish capital,"
for I had previously resided during a longer period in the Irish one,)
enabled me to state what I then beheld, with a scrutiny which certainly
would not have been warranted by a mere casual visit of two days, two
weeks, or two months; that the circumstance should have irritated _S.S._
I cannot consider any fault of mine; my statement was correct. The
possibility of Irish labourers being employed to build in Scotland, as
they are very generally in England, does not seem to have occurred to
your correspondent; I confess it did to me, but considered, to mention
it in my trifling "Domestic Hint," quite unnecessary, since, had their
wastefulness been hitherto unknown to their employers, it might
henceforth, if they pleased "to take a hint," be by them materially
checked. In days when the complaint of poverty is universal, when the
working classes find it difficult to carry on any employment which shall
bring them bread, and when thousands wander over the united kingdom with
no apparent means of subsistence, I did not imagine that a "Hint," as to
a possible source of emolument (were it confined but to half a dozen
individuals) to the poor, would be considered a meet subject for
ridicule. I said, or intended to say, if shavings and loose chippings of
wood are of little value for fuel in Scotland, they are acceptable in
England; and why, if the proprietors of new houses choose during their
erection, to save the fuel they produce, and of which I repeat I have
seen vast quantities burnt, and bestow it as a charity on such persons
as might think it worth acceptance for sale, "over the Border;" why they
should not do so, I have yet to learn. However, waiving this scheme,
which _S.S._ may be inclined to think rather Utopian, and conceding,
that if Scotland needs not for fuel, her refuse chips and shavings, they
would not answer in that light as a marketable commodity in the sister
country, still wood and wood-ashes have become of late years, agents so
valuable and important in chemistry, and other sciences and arts, as to
furnish another, and all-sufficient reason why no reckless destruction
should be allowed of an article, every species of which may be rendered,
under some modification, of utility.
 Has Scotland no paupers to whom the gift of wood fuel might
prove acceptable, in spite of peat? We have in England abundance
of wood, yet our own poor are distressed for it, glad to pick up
sticks for firing, and often steal it from fences, &c. in their
necessity, and the gift of wood is to them a charity, as well as
that of coals. Why should aught that could he made of use, be
wantonly destroyed? It is contrary to Scripture; it is in
opposition to common sense.
Respecting the well preserved eggs of Scotland; though _S.S._ is
probably aware of the circumstance, yet some of your readers may not be,
their sale in England (and indeed I have understood America) brings her
in no inconsiderable profit. In this country they arrive, and I have my
account from an eye-witness, in large deal boxes, most curiously packed,
relying solely on each other for support; since, set up perpendicularly
on their ends, with no straw, heather, saw-dust, or any other material
to fill the interstices between them, the fate of every box of this
fragile ware depends, during its journey and unlading, on the safety or
fracture of a single egg; but such is the nicety and compactness of
their packing, that rarely, if ever, an accident occurs.
* * * * *
PRICE OF TEA.
(_To the Editor_.)
As I have been a subscriber to _The Mirror_ from its commencement, and
very frequently refer to its pages with much pleasure and profit, I hope
I may be allowed to correct a statement made in No. 541, p. 222, under
the article _Tea_. It is said that the profit of one pound to sell at
7_s_. is 2_s_. 2_d_.
Thus, cost price 2 5
Duty 2 5
Profit 2 2
In all retail houses of any respectability in the Tea trade, I am sure
that Tea costing 2_s_. 5_d_. at the sale is never sold above 6_s_. per
lb. and in five out of six shops of the above description 5_s_. 4_d_.
and 5_s_. 6_d_. is the utmost price demanded for such Tea. I and my
family have been in the trade, in one house, considerably more than half
a century, and I can assure you, that from 6_d_. to 8_d_. per lb. is the
present retail profit upon Tea sold at the East India Company's sales,
under 3_s_. per lb.
In reply to this note, the authenticity of which we do not question,
we can only refer the writer to our distinct quotation from "the
evidence of Mr. Mills, a Tea Broker, before the House of Lords.' In our
15th volume, No. 414, p. 104, the proportion of profit is differently
stated from an article in the _Quarterly Review_. A pound of 11_s_.
Costs at the Company's Sale 4 4
King's Duty 4 4
Retailer's profit, brokerage, &c. 2 4
We have often received from one of the most extensively dealing retail
Tea-dealers in the metropolis, an assurance, similar to that of our
correspondent, _S_. so that we do not require the substantiation he
* * * * *
GLEANINGS IN NATURAL HISTORY.
Observers of Nature seem to be just now appreciating the observation of
the benevolent _Gilbert White_, of Selborne, who lived and died in the
last century: "that if stationary men would pay some attention to the
districts on which they reside, and would publish their thoughts
respecting the objects that surround them, from such materials might be
drawn the most complete county histories." Accordingly, a little system
of rural philosophy has been founded upon the best of all bases,
home-observation, and such books as have resulted from these labours,
promise to make the study of Nature more popular than will all the
Zoological, Botanical, and Geological Societies of Europe. Among these
works we include the cheap reprint of the _Natural History of Selborne_;
Mr. Rennie's delightful observations which are scattered through the
Zoological volumes of the _Library of Entertaining Knowledge_; but more
especially the _Journal of a Naturalist_, published by Mr. Leonard
Knapp, about three years since, and stated by the author to have
originated in his admiration of Mr. White's _Selborne_. The volume
before us is the result of a congenial feeling, and is written by Edward
Jesse, Esq., deputy surveyor of his majesty's parks, by means of which
appointment he must have possessed peculiar opportunities and facilities
of observation, as is evident in the local recollections throughout his
volume. Thus, we find miscellaneous particulars of the Royal Parks and
Forests, and from the writer's residence on the bank of the Thames, (we
conclude, near Bushy Park,) a few Maxims for an Angler. The whole is a
very charming _melange_, with a most discursive arrangement, it is true,
but never falling into dulness, or tiring the reader with too minute
detail. We intend, therefore, to range through the volume, and gather a
few of its most interesting gleanings to our garner.
Our author thinks he has discovered the use for the remarkable and,
indeed, what appears disproportionate length, of the
Claws of the Skylark.
"That they were not intended to enable the bird to search the earth for
food, or to fix itself more securely on the branches of trees, is
evident, as they neither scratch the ground nor roost on trees. The lark
makes its nest generally in grass fields, where it is liable to be
injured either by cattle grazing over it, or by the mower. In case of
alarm from either these or other causes, the parent birds remove their
eggs, by means of their long claws, to a place of greater security; and
this transportation I have observed to be effected in a very short space
of time. By placing a lark's egg, which is rather large in proportion to
the size of the bird, in the foot, and then drawing the claws over it,
you will perceive that they are of sufficient length to secure the egg
firmly, and by this means the bird is enabled to convey its eggs to
another place, where she can sit upon and hatch them. When one of my
mowers first told me that he had observed the fact, I was somewhat
disinclined to credit it; but I have since ascertained it beyond a
doubt, and now mention it as another strong proof of that order in the
economy of Nature, by means of which this affectionate bird is enabled
to secure its forthcoming offspring. I call it affectionate, because few
birds show a stronger attachment to their young."
Instinct allied to reason.
Several interesting anecdotes are quoted to show that there is something
more than mere instinct, which influences the conduct of some animals.
Bees and spiders afford many traits, but we quote the elephant and
"I was one day feeding the poor elephant (who was so barbarously put to
death at Exeter 'Change) with potatoes, which he took out of my hand.
One of them, a round one, fell on the floor, just out of the reach of
his proboscis. He leaned against his wooden bar, put out his trunk, and
could just touch the potato, but could not pick it up. After several
ineffectual efforts, he at last _blew_ the potato against the opposite
wall with sufficient force to make it rebound, and he then, without
difficulty, secured it. Now it is quite clear, I think, that instinct
never taught the elephant to procure his food in this manner; and it
must, therefore, have been reason, or some intellectual faculty, which
enabled him to be so good a judge of cause and effect. Indeed, the
_reflecting_ power of some animals is quite extraordinary. I had a dog
who was much attached to me, and who, in consequence of his having been
tied up on a Sunday morning, to prevent his accompanying me to church,
would conceal himself in good time on that day, and I was sure to find
him either at the entrance of the church, or if he could get in, under
the place where I usually sat.
"I have been often much delighted with watching the manner in which some
of the old bucks in Bushy Park contrive to get the berries from the fine
thorn-trees there. They will raise themselves on their hind legs, give a
spring, entangle their horns in the lower branches of the tree, give
them one or two shakes, which make some of the berries full, and they
will then quietly pick them up.
"A strong proof of intellect was given in the case of Colonel O'Kelly's
parrot. When the colonel and his parrot were at Brighton, the bird was
asked to sing; he answered 'I can't,' Another time he left off in the
middle of a tune, and said, 'I have forgot.' Colonel O'Kelly continued
the tune for a few notes; the parrot took it up where the Colonel had
left off. The parrot took up the bottom of a lady's petticoat, and said
'What a pretty foot!' The parrot seeing the family at breakfast said,
'Won't you give some breakfast to Poll?' The company teazed and mopped
him a good deal; he said 'I don't like it.'--(From a Memorandum found
amongst the late Earl of Guildford's Papers.)"
Several pages are devoted to the economy of these curious creatures, and
as many points of their history are warmly contested, Mr. Jesse's
experience is valuable.
"That they do wander from one place to another is evident, as I am
assured that they have been found in ponds in Richmond Park, which had
been previously cleaned out and mudded, and into which no water could
run except from the springs which supplied it. An annual migration of
young eels takes place in the River Thames in the month of May, and they
have generally made their appearance at Kingston, in their way upwards,
about the second week in that month, and accident has so determined it,
that, for several years together it was remarked that the 10th of May
was the day of what the fishermen call eel-fair; but they have been more
irregular in their proceedings since the interruption of the lock at
Teddington. These young eels are about two inches in length, and they
make their approach in one regular and undeviating column of about five
inches in breadth, and as thick together as it is possible for them to
be. As the procession generally lasts two or three days, and as they
appear to move at the rate of nearly two miles and a half an hour, some
idea may be formed of their enormous number.
 From the following lines of Oppian, the rambling spirit of
eels seems to have been known to the ancients--
The wandering eel,
Oft to the neighbouring beach will silent steal"
 I have been informed, upon the authority of a nobleman well
known for his attachment to field sports, that, if an eel is
found on land, its head is invariably turned towards the sea,
for which it is always observed to make in the most direct line
possible. If this information is correct (and there seems to be
no reason to doubt it.) it shows that the eel, like the swallow,
is possessed of a strong migratory instinct. May we not suppose
that the swallow, like the eel, performs its migrations in the
same undeviating course?
"Eels feed on almost all animal substances, whether dead or living. It
is well known that they devour the young of all water-fowl that are not
too large for them. Mr. Bingley states, that he saw exposed for sale at
Retford, in Nottinghamshire, a quantity of eels that would have filled a
couple of wheelbarrows, the whole of which had been taken out of the
body of a dead horse, thrown into a ditch near one of the adjacent
villages; and a friend of mine saw the body of a man taken out of the
Serpentine River in Hyde Park, where it had been some time, and from
which a large eel crawled out. The winter retreat of eels is very
curious. They not only get deep into the mud, but in Bushy Park, where
the mud in the ponds is not very deep, and what there is, is of a sandy
nature, the eels make their way under the banks of the ponds, and have
been found knotted together in a large mass. Eels vary much in size in
different waters. The largest I ever caught was in Richmond Park, and it
weighed five pounds, but some are stated to have been caught in Ireland
which weighed from fifteen to twenty pounds. Seven pounds is, I believe,
no unusual size. The large ones are extremely strong and muscular.
Fishing one day at Pain's Hill, near Cobham, in Surrey, I hooked an eel
amongst some weeds, but before I could land him, he had so twisted a new
strong double wire, to which the hook was fixed, that he broke it and
made his escape."
Sir Humphry Davy's opinions respecting eels are quoted from his
_Salmonia_: Mr. Jesse adds:
 See MIRROR, vol. xii. p. 253.
"It is with considerable diffidence that one would venture to differ in
opinion with Sir Humphry Davy, but I cannot help remarking, that, as
eels are now known to migrate _from_ fresh water, as was shown in the
case of the Richmond Park ponds, this restless propensity may arise from
their impatience of the greater degree of warmth in those ponds in the
month of May, and not from their wish to get into water still warmer, as
suggested by Sir Humphry Davy. Very large eels are certainly found in
rivers, the Thames and Mole for instance, where I have seen them so that
they must either have remained in them, or have returned from the sea,
which Sir H. Davy thinks they never do, though I should add, that the
circumstance already related of so many large eels being seen dead or
dying during a hot summer, near the Nore, would appear to confirm his
assertion. If eels are oviparous, as Sir Humphry Davy thinks they are,
would not the ova have been found, especially in the conger,--many of
which are taken and brought to our markets, frequently of a very large
size? It does not appear, however, that any of the fringes along the
air-bladder have ever arrived at such a size and appearance as to have
justified any one in the supposition that they were ovaria, though, as
has been stated, distinguished naturalists, from the time of Aristotle
to the present moment, have been endeavouring to ascertain this fact.
Since the above was written, I have been shown ova in the lamprey, and
what appeared to have been melt taken from a conger eel, at a
fishmonger's in Bond-street. These specimens were preserved by Mr.
Yarrell, of Little Ryder-street, St. James's, who had the kindness to
open two eels, sent to him from Scotland, in my presence, and in which
the fringes were very perceptible, though they were without any ova.
That ingenious and indefatigable naturalist is, however, of opinion that
eels are oviparous, though he failed in producing proof that the common
eels were so.
"In further proof, however, of eels being viviparous, it may be added
(if the argument of analogy applies in this case), that the animalculae
of paste eels are decidedly viviparous. Mr. Bingley also, in his animal
biography, says that eels are viviparous. Blumenbach says, too, that
'according to the most correct observations they are certainly
viviparous.' He adds also, that, the eel is so tenacious of life, that
its heart, when removed from the body, retains its irritability for
forty hours afterwards."
We are not inclined to attach very considerable importance to Mr.
Bingley's experience, much as we admire his entertaining _Animal
Biography_: we believe him to be classed among book-naturalists, and he
wrote this work many years since.
(_To be continued_.)
* * * * *
QUEEN ANNE'S SPRING, NEAR ETON.
[Illustration: Queen Anne's Spring, near Eton.]
(_From a Correspondent_.)
The accompanying sketch represents a sequestered spot of sylvan shade
whence rises a Spring which tradition designates Queen Anne's. Here the
limpid crystal flows in gentle, yet ceaseless streams, conveying "Health
to the sick and solace to the swain."
It has some claims to antiquity; and its merits have been appreciated by
royalty. Queen Anne was the first august personage who had recourse to
it; in later times, Queen Charlotte for many years had the pure element
conveyed to her royal abode at Windsor, and in 1785, a stone, with a
cipher and date, was placed there by her illustrious consort, George
III. This spring is situate at Chalvey, (a village between Eton and Salt
Hill,) on the property of J. Mason, Esq., Cippenham. It was the
observation of the esteemed and celebrated Dr. Heberdeen, that it but
required a physician to write a treatise on the water, to render it as
efficacious as Malvern.
* * * * *
Spirit Of The Public Journals.
* * * * *
STATE OF MAGIC IN EGYPT, BY AN EYE-WITNESS.
At the Consul General's table, in Egypt, in August, 1822, the
conversation turned on the belief in magic; and the Consul's Italian
Staff propounded the following story, which seemed to have perfect
possession of their best belief. They said that a magician of great name
was then in Cairo--I think a Mogrebine; and that he had been sent for to
the Consul's house, and put to the following proof:--A silver spoon had
been lost, and he was invited to point out the thief. On arriving, he
sent for an Arab boy at hazard out of the street, and after various
ceremonies, poured ink into the boy's hand, into which the boy was to
look. It was stated, that he asked the boy what he saw, and the boy
answered, "_I see a little man_,"--Tell him to bring a flag,--"_Now he
has brought a flag_."--Tell him to bring another.--"_Now he has brought
another_."--Tell him to bring a third,--"_Now he has brought it_."--Tell
him to bring a fourth.--"_He has brought it_."--Tell him to bring the
captain of them all.--"_I see a great Sheik on horseback_."--Tell him to
bring the man that stole the spoon.--"_Now he has brought him_."--What
is he like?--"_He is a Frangi, poor-looking and mesquin_." After which
followed other points of personal description not remembered; but which
drew from the Staff the observation, that a European of exactly those
qualities had been about the house. We expressed our desire to be
introduced to the magician, and the Consul gravely intimated it might
hurt the prejudices of his wife, as being a Catholic; to the great mirth
of the beautiful Consuless when she was told of it, who, though a
Catholic and an Italian, declared she was the only person in the family
that set all the magicians in Egypt at defiance.
Having some time afterwards established ourselves in a house of our own,
on the edge of the garden of the Austrian Consulate (as I remember by
the token that a Turkish officer who had been taking his evening walk of
meditation, very gravely opened the window from the garden, put in first
one leg of his huge trousers and then the other, and strode into the
room followed by his pipe-bearer, as being the shortest cut into the
street; though I must do him the justice to say he laughed and was very
conversable, when I brought him up with a salam and a cup of coffee, by
way of demonstrating there was somebody in the house besides the Arab
owner), we sent for the magician. I remember a well-dressed personable
man, of what, after the fashion of the nomenclature in the Chamber of
Deputies, might be called the young middle-age. He agreed to show us a
specimen of his art, though I do not recollect that the nature of it was
defined. He fixed upon our little boy of seven years old to be his
instrument; and I remember he talked some nonsense about requiring an
innocent agent, and how a woman might do as well, if she could plead the
innocent presence of the unborn. He dispatched a servant into the bazar,
to procure frankincense and other things which he directed; and on their
being produced we all retired into a room, and closed the doors and
windows. An earthen pot was placed in the middle of the floor,
containing fire, and the magician sat down by it. He placed the little
boy before him, and poured ink into the hollow of the boy's hand, and
bid him look into it steadily. I think the mother rather quailed, at
seeing her child in such propinquity with "the Enemy;" but recovered
herself on being exhorted to defy the devil and all his works. And the
thing was not entirely without danger from another quarter; for it was
understood the Pasha had directed a special edict against all dealing
with familiar spirits; and the Pasha's edicts were not altogether to be
trifled with, as we knew from the mishap of a poor Indian servant, who
was caught in the bazar in the fact of taking thirteen of the Pasha's
tin piasters in change for a dollar, when the political economy of Cairo
had decreed that twelve were to be equal in public estimation, and was
immediately incarcerated in the place of skulls, or at least of heads,
from which it is supposed he would have come out shorn of his beard and
the chin it grew from, if the Consular cocked hat and Abyssinian charger
had not proceeded at a gallop to the Court at Shubra, to claim him as a
subject of the British crown; and much did poor Baloo vow, that no
earthly temptation should take him again to quit the gentle rule of the
old Lady in Leadenhall-street, who, though she pinches a Peishwa and
mercilessly screws a renter when it suits her, it must be allowed has a
reverent care for the heads of all her lieges, and gives them a fair
chance of going to their graves with the members nature had bestowed on
_Hisce positis_, as the logicians say, the magician began his process.
The boy was innocent of fear; being in fact a person rather perplexed
and imperfect in those parts of theology that should have caused him to
feel alarm. His native nurse first taught him to kiss his hand to the
moon walking in brightness; which, being especially reprobated in the
book of Job, we persuaded him to renounce. We next found him making
salams as he passed the fat old gentleman with an elephant's head, and
other foul idolatries bedaubed with rose-pink and butter, that show
themselves on various milestone-like appurtenances to an Indian road.
After his visit to the Persian Gulph he leaned more towards monotheism;
and I once found him seated between two guns on the quarter-deck of an
Arab frigate, in the midst of a fry of devotees of little more than his
own age, busily engaged in chanting canticles in praise of Mohammed the
"amber-_ee_." His early leaning towards the ugly gods of Hindoston, had
made it a delicate matter to introduce him to our Evil Principle; and
the fact was, that when he afterwards saw the Freischutz in England, we
had no means of making him comprehend the nature of the crimson fiend,
but by telling him he was a relation of his old elephant-headed friend
Gunputty. On the whole I imagine there never was a better subject to
cope with a sorcerer; and when he asked the cause of the immediate
preparations we told him the man was going to show some feats of
legerdemain such as he used to see in India. The magician began by
throwing grains of incense upon the fire, bowing with a seesaw motion
and repeating "_Heyya hadji Capitan, Heyya hadji Capitan;_" which being
interpreted, if it was intended to have any meaning, would appear to
imply "_Hurra, pilgrim Captain!_" being, as I understood it at the time,
an invocation by his style and title, of the spirit he wished to see.
When nothing came, he increased his zeal after the manner of a priest of
Baal, and seemed determined that if the "Captain" was sleeping or on a
journey, he should not be missed for want of calling. One slight
_variorum_ reading I observed. Instead of saying to the boy "What do you
see?" as had been reported--he said "_Do you see a little man?_" which,
if he had been accessible to fear or phantasy, was manifestly telling
him what he was to look for. The boy, however, resolutely declared he
saw nothing; and the sorcerer continued his calls upon his spirit. When
in this manner curiosity had been roused to something like expectation,
the boy suddenly exclaimed, "I see something!"--_Tremor occupat
artis;_--when he quashed it all by adding, "I see my nose." By the dim
light of the fire, he had succeeded in getting a glimpse of his own
countenance reflected in the ink. The magician doubled his exertions by
way of carrying the thing off; but there was much less gravity in his
audience afterwards; and at last he was forced to declare that the
spirit would not come, and the reason he believed was because we were
Christians. He said, however, if an Arab boy was substituted the spirit
would come. A servant therefore was sent out to bring a boy by the offer
of a piastre, and one was soon produced. Whether there was any
confederacy or not, I had no precise means to ascertain; but I was
inclined to think not. The Arab boy was trusted with the ink in place of
the European, and on the magician's asking him the leading question "Do
you see a little man?" he took but one look and answered "Yes." The
orders then followed "Tell him to bring a flag." &c. to all of which,
whether operated on by some dread of refusing, or by the natural
inclination of one rogue to help another, he duly answered that the
thing was done. I do not remember any further _denoument_ that there
was; and so ended the magic of the magician of Grand Cairo.
Being disappointed in this experiment, we began to seek for the
opportunity of making others, and offered a reward for any person who
would show us a specimen of imp or spirit. One man was produced, who was
stated to be of considerable fame. He said he would show me a spirit;
but I must go out with him three nights running to a cross road at
midnight, and perform divers ceremonies and lustrations which he
proceeded to describe. I believe he he had got an inkling, that I
intended to leave Cairo the next day. I told him, however, that I would
cheerfully go through any ceremonies he might propose. He next said, it
would be necessary that I should repeat the name of the spirit I called
for, eleven thousand times; and this I assured him I would painfully
perform. He then said, he was afraid at my age the operation would be
dangerous. I wonder whether the rogue meant that I was too young, or too
old, or too middle-aged; for I was exactly thirty-eight. Seeing that I
only pressed him the more, he took his fee and walked off, intimating
that there was no use in doing these things with Frangis.
I saw another instance in Cairo, of the way in which a story accumulates
by telling, and the degree in which even sensible Europeans by long
residence are induced to give into the beliefs they find around them.
The conversation turned one day on the power of charming serpents,
supposed to be inherent in certain descendants of the _Psylli_. One of
the Consular Staff immediately declared, that a most remarkable instance
of the fact had happened in the Consul-General's own courtyard the day
before. That one of those gifted men had come into the yard, and
declared he knew by his art that there were serpents in the stable; and
that he had immediately gone and summoned forth two snakes of the most
poisonous kind, which he seized in his hands and brought, in the
presence of the relator, to the Consular threshold. Now it happened to
me to see the whole of this scene. I was wandering about the Consul's
court, gazing at the curiosities scattered around, enough to have set up
any European museum with an Egyptian branch, and particularly, I
remember, at a lame mummy's crutch, found with him in his coffin, on
which it is possible the original owner hopped away from the plague of
frogs. An old rural Arab of respectable appearance was standing at the
Consul's door, holding in his hand the crooked stick which an Arab keeps
to recover the halter of his camel if he happens to lose it while
mounted, and presenting altogether a parallel to a substantial yeoman
with his riding-whip, come to town to do a little justice business with
the Mayor. A stable-keeper came and said, that two snakes had made their
appearance in the stable; on which the Arab, being no more in the habit
of fearing such vermin than a European farmer of fearing rats, proceeded
towards the stable, and I followed him. Sure enough there were two
snakes in dalliance in the horse's stall; and my construction was, that
it was the poor animals' St. Valentine. The Arab, however, ruthlessly
smote them with his gib stick, in a way that showed an exact
comprehension of what would settle a snake; and brought them hanging by
the tails and still writhing with the remains of life, and laid them at
the threshold of the house. I looked at the snakes, and felt a strong
persuasion that they were of a harmless kind; but whether they were or
not, was of small moment as the Arab treated them.
I remember in India once driving one of the snake-jugglers to discovery.
He told the servants there were snakes in the stable; and offered to
produce one. He accordingly went, with piping and other ceremonies, and
soon demonstrated a goodly _cobra de capello_ struggling by the tail. He
secured this in his repertory of snakes, and said he thought there was
another; on which he went through the same operations again. Though he
had been too quick for me on both occasions, I offered him a rupee to
produce a third, which he agreed to; and this time I saw the snake's
head, struggling rather oddly in his nether garments. He ran into the
horse's stall, rushed forward with a shriek to distract attention, and
then I saw him jerk out a snake of some four feet long, and drag it
backwards by the tip of the tail as if desperately afraid of it. Knowing
his snakes must be an exhaustible quantity, I proffered a second rupee
for another, taking care to keep between him and the snake-basket; which
he declined. But on turning round and giving him a chance to communicate
with his receptacle, he quickly presented himself with the assurance
that now he thought he knew where a serpent might be lodged. The Indian
servants all devoutly believed in his skill; but it is impossible not to
be ashamed of Europeans, who adorn their books with marks of similar
gullibility.--_Abridged from Tait's Edinburgh Mag._
* * * * *
Notes of a Reader
* * * * *
RECREATIONS IN THE LAW.
Gentle reader, we are not about to direct your notice to the Temple
Gardens, the olden feasts in our Law Halls--through which men ate their
way to eminence--nor to prove that looking to a Chancellorship is
woolgathering--nor to invite you to the shrubby groves of Lincoln's Inn,
or to promenade with the spirit of BACON in Gray's Inn. All these may be
pleasurable occupations; but there is mirth in store in the _study_ of
the Law itself, which is not "dull and crabbed as some fools (or knaves)
In a recent _Mirror_, (No. 540) this may have been made manifest to the
reader in the Legal Rhymes, quoted by our correspondent, _W.A.R.;_
but lo! here is a volume of evidence in "_The Cenveyancer's Guide;_" a
Poem, by John Crisp, Esq., of Furnival's Inn; in which the art of
Conveyancing is sung in Hudibrastic verse, and said in notes of pleasant
prose. Happy are we to see Mr. Crisp's volume in a third edition, since
we opine from this success the bright moments of relief which his Muse
may have shed upon the _viginti annorum lucubrutiones_ of thousands
of students. We have not space for quotations from the poem itself, in
which _Doe_ and _Roe_ figure as heroes, with their occasional
friend Thomas Stiles. We can only say their movements are sung with the
terseness and point which we so much admire in the great originals, so
as to make men acknowledge there is good in every thing. Our extracts
are from the Introduction and Notes. First is
A LEGAL GLEE.
"A woman having a settlement,
Married a man with none,
The question was, he being dead,
If that she had was gone.
Quoth _Sir John Pratt_, her settlement
Suspended did remain,
Living the husband--but him dead,
It doth revive again.
"CHORUS OF PUISNE JUDGES.
"Living the husband--but him dead,
It doth revive again."
 ERRATA in one of our correspondent's "Legal
for "six beaches," read "six braches."
for "book ycleped," read "_bock ylered_."
for "token" read "_teken_."
for "Hamelyn" read "_Howelin_."
Corrected from Blount's _Tenures_, p. 665, ed. 1815.
A print of Westminster Hall, by Mosely, from a drawing made by Gravelot,
who died in 1773, bears the following versified inscription:--
"When fools fall out, for ev'ry flaw,
They run horn mad to go to law,
A hedge awry, a wrong plac'd gate,
Will serve to spend a whole estate.
Your case the lawyer says is good,
And justice cannot he withstood;
By tedious process from above,
From office they to office move,
Thro' pleas, demurrers, the dev'l and all,
At length they bring it to the _Hall_;
The dreadful hall by Rufus rais'd,
For lofty Gothick arches prais'd.
"The _first of Term_, the fatal day,
Doth various images convey;
First, from the courts with clam'rous bawl,
The _criers_ their _attornies_ call;
One of the gown discreet and wise,
By _proper_ means his witness tries;
From _Wreathock's_ gang, not right or laws,
H' assures his trembling client's cause.
_This_ gnaws his haudkerchies, whilst _that_
Gives the kind ogling nymph his hat;
Here one in love with choristers,
Minds singing more than law affairs.
A _Serjeant_ limping on behind,
Shews justice lame as well as blind.
To gain new clients some dispute,
Others protract an ancient suit,
Jargon and noise alone prevail,
Whilst sense and reason's sure to fail:
At _Babel_ thus _law terms_ begun,
And now at West----er go on."
At page 24, of the Poem, there is a happy allusion to the permanence or
lasting of a limitation:
"But if the limitation's made
So long as cheating's us'd in trade,
Or vice prevails: 'tis then a fee,
As good as ever need to be:
For tho' 'tis base instead of pure,
Alas it ever will endure."
Upon this passage is the following confirmative note: "Cheating will
always prevail, in defiance of all human laws, for it cannot be avoided,
but so long as contracts be suffered, many offences shall follow
thereby."--(_Doctor and Student_, c. 3.) In buying and selling, the law
of nations connives at some cunning and overreaching in respect of the
price. By the civil law, a just price is said to be that, whereby
neither the buyer nor seller is injured above one moiety of the true and
common value; and in this case the person injured shall not be relieved
by rescinding the sale, for he must impute it to his own imprudence and
The origin of _Fee-tail estates_:
"The expression, fee-tail, was borrowed from the feudists, among
whom it signified any mutilated or truncated inheritance from which
the heirs general were cut off, being derived from the barbarous
word _taliare_ to cut.--(2 _Blac. Comm_. 112.)
_Fines and Recoveries (as fund and refund_,) are like the poles, arctic
and attractive. Of the latter is the following _quid-pro-quo_ anecdote:
"A physician of an acrimonious disposition, and having a thorough
hatred of lawyers, was in company with a barrister, and in the
course of conversation, reproached the profession of the latter with
the use of phrases utterly unintelligible. 'For example,' said he,
'I never could understand what you lawyers mean by docking an
entail.' 'That is very likely,' answered the lawyer, 'but I will
explain it to you; it is doing what you doctors never consent
to--_suffering a recovery_.'
Among the notes to _Rights and Titles_ is the following:
"Master _Mason_, of _Trinity College_, sent his pupil to another of
the fellows to borrow a book of him, who told him, 'I am loth to
lend books out of my chamber, but if it please thy tutor to come and
read upon it in my chamber, he shall as long as he will.' It was
winter, and some days after the same fellow sent to Mr. _Mason_ to
borrow his bellows, but Mr. _Mason_ said to his pupil, 'I am loth to
lend my bellows out of my chamber, but if thy tutor would come and
blow the fire in my chamber, he shall as long as he will.'
In the next page is a note on the _Nature of Property_, in the
perspicuous style of a master-mind:
"There is nothing which so generally strikes the imagination, and
engages the affections of mankind, as the right of property; or that
sole and despotic dominion which one man claims and exercises over
the external things of the world, in total exclusion of the right of
any other individual in the universe. And yet there are very few
that will give themselves the trouble to consider the original and
foundation of this right. Pleased as we are with the possession, we
seem afraid to look back to the means by which it was acquired, as
if fearful of some defect in our title; or at best we rest satisfied
with the decision of the laws in our favour, without examining the
reason and authority upon which those laws have been built. We think
it enough that our title is derived by the grant of the former
proprietor, by descent from our ancestors, or by the last will and
testament of the dying owner; not caring to reflect that (accurately
and strictly speaking) there is no foundation in nature, or in
natural law, why a set of words upon parchment should convey the
dominion of land; why the son should have a right to exclude his
fellow creature from a determinate spot of ground, because his
father had so done before him; or why the occupier of a particular
field, or of a jewel, when lying on his death bed, and no longer
able to maintain possession, should be entitled to tell the rest
of the world which of them should enjoy it after him.--(2 _Blac.
"The _two sheriff's of London_ are the _one sheriff of Middlesex_;
thus constituting in the latter case, what may be denominated, in
the words of _George Colman the Younger_, (see his address to the
Reviewers, in his _vagaries_,) 'a plural unit.' Henry the First,
in the same charter by which he declared and confirmed the
privileges of the City of _London_, (and among others, that of
choosing their own sheriffs,) conferred on them, in consideration of
an annual rent of 300_l._, to be paid to his majesty and his
successors for ever, the perpetual sheriffalty of _Middlesex_. This
was an enormous price; 300_l._. in those days were equal to more
than three times as many thousands at the present time.
Here is a lively commentary upon the _Inclosure Acts_:
"To a pamphlet which was published some years ago, against the
propriety of enclosing _Waltham Forest_, the following quaint motto
"The fault is great in man or woman,
Who steals a goose from off a common,
But who can plead that man's excuse,
Who steals the common from the goose?"
How to decide a Chancery Suit:
"The _Shellys_ were a family of distinction in _Sussex_. _Richard_ and
_Thomas Shelly_ were a long time engaged in litigation; and Queen
Elizabeth hearing of it, ordered her Lord Chancellor to summon the
Judges to put an end to it, to prevent the ruin of so ancient a
family."--(_Engl. Baronets_, ed. 1737.)
With these pleasantries we leave the _Conveyancer's Guide_, hoping it
may be long ere the witty author sings his "Farewell to his Muse."
* * * * *
Manners & Customs of all Nations.
* * * * *
THE CURFEW BELL.
(_For the Mirror_.)
Hark! the curfews solemn sound;
Silence, darkness, spreads around.
There are now but few places in which this ancient custom--the memento
of the iron sway of William the Conqueror--is retained.
Its impression when I heard it for the first time, will never be effaced
from my memory. Let not the reader suppose that it was merely the
_sound_ of the bell to which I allude; to use the language of Thomas
Moore, I may justly say, "Oh! no, it was something more exquisite
It was during the autumn of last year, that I had occasion to visit the
eastern coast of Kent. Accustomed to an inland county, the prospect of
wandering by the sea shore, and inhaling the sea breezes, afforded me no
trifling degree of pleasure. The most frequented road to the sea, was
through a succession of meadows and pastures; the ground becoming more
irregular and broken as it advanced, till at last it was little better
than an accumulation of sand-hills. I have since been informed by a
veteran tar, that these sand-hills bear a striking resemblance to those
on that part of the coast of Egypt, where the British troops under the
gallant Abercrombie were landed.
The evening was beautifully calm, not a sound disturbed its
tranquillity; and the sun was just sinking to repose in all his dying
glory. At this part of the coast, the sands are hard and firm to walk
upon; and on arriving at their extremity, where the waves were gently
breaking at my feet, "forming sweet music to the thoughtful ear," I
looked around, and gazed on the various objects that presented
themselves to my view, with feelings of deep interest and pleasure. The
evening was too far advanced to discern clearly the coast of France, but
its dim outline might just be traced, bounding the view. Every now and
then a vessel might be seen making her silent way round the foreland,
her form gradually lessening, till at last it was entirely lost in the
distance. As it grew darker, the strong, red glare of the light-house
shedding its lurid gleams on the waves, added a novel effect to the
At the very moment I was turning from the shore, to retrace my steps,
the deep tone of a distant bell fell on my ear. It was the Curfew
Bell--which had been tolled regularly at eight o'clock in the evening,
since the days of the despotic William.
The vast changes that had taken place in society, in fact, in every
thing, since the institution of this custom, occupied my thoughts during
my walk; and I felt no little gratification in the assurance that what
was originally the edict of a barbarous and despotic age, was now merely
retained as a relic of ancient times.
It may be thought romantic, but the first hearing of the Curfew Bell
often occurs to my memory; and there are times when I fancy myself
walking on that lone shore, and the objects that I then thought so
beautiful, are as distinctly and vividly seen as if I were actually
The only drawback from the interest of this brief paper is that the
writer does not state the name of the Village whence he heard the Curfew
* * * * *
It is almost inconceivable how long Fnglishmen have retained their
barbarous practices. It is not more than a century since a trial for
witchcraft took place in England, and hardly eighty since one occurred
in Scotland. The crime of coining the King's money is still treated as
treason, and women, for the commission of this crime as well as that of
murdering their husbands, were sentenced to be strangled, and afterwards
publicly burned. In London this horrible outrage upon civilized feelings
was perpetrated in Smithfield. One of these melancholy exhibitions took
place within the memory of many persons. The criminal was a fine young
woman, and the strangling had not been completed, for when the flames
reached her at the stake, she uttered a shriek. This produced, as it
well might, a general horror, and the practice was abandoned, though the
law was not abrogated. It was the mild and enlightened Sir Samuel
Romilly who first brought in a bill to annul the old acts which ordered
the most revolting mutilation of the corpses of traitors, agreeable to a
sentence expressed in the most barbarous jargon. Mark, this was only a
few years since, I believe in 1811.
What must have been the taste of our forefathers, who suffered
miscreants to obtain their livelihood for the moment by stationing
themselves at Temple-bar, after the rebellion in 1745, with
magnifying-glasses, that the spectators might more nicely discriminate
the features of those unfortunate gentlemen whose heads had been fixed
over the gateway. No London populace, however tumultuary, would now for
a moment tolerate such an outrage upon all that is decent and
humane--(From a clever letter in _the Times_ of April 12, by Colonel
* * * * *
THE SELECTOR AND LITERARY NOTICES OF _NEW WORKS._
* * * * *
THE ALTRIVE TALES.
By the Ettrick Shepherd.
Mr. Hogg proposes to collect and reprint under the above title, the best
of the grave and gay tales with which he has aided the Magazines and
Annuals during the last few years. The Series will extend to fourteen
volumes, the first of which, now before us, preceded by a poetical
dedication and autobiographical memoir. The poem is an exquisite
performance; but the biography, with due allowance for the Shepherd's
claim, is a most objectionable preface. It is so disfigured with
self-conceit and vituperative recollections of old grievances, that we
regret some kind friend of the author did not suggest the omission of
these personalities. They will be neither advantageous to the writer,
interesting to the public, nor propitiatory for the work itself; since
the world care less about the squabbles of authors and booksellers than
even an "untoward event" in Parliament; and if the writer of every book
were to detail his vexations as a preface, the publication of a long
series of "Calamities" might be commenced immediately.
To our way of thinking, the pleasantest part of the Shepherd's memoir is
his reminiscences of men of talent, with whom his own abilities have
brought him in contact. Thus, of
"My first interview with Mr. Southey was at the Queen's Head inn, in
Keswick, where I had arrived, wearied, one evening, on my way to
Westmoreland; and not liking to intrude on his family circle that
evening, I sent a note up to Greta Hall, requesting him to come down and
see me, and drink one half mutchkin along with me. He came on the
instant, and stayed with me about an hour and a half. But I was a
grieved as well as an astonished man, when I found that he refused all
participation in my beverage of rum punch. For a poet to refuse his
glass was to me a phenomenon; and I confess I doubted in my own mind,
and doubt to this day, if perfect sobriety and transcendent poetical
genius can exist together. In Scotland I am sure they cannot. With
regard to the English, I shall leave them to settle that among
themselves, as they have little that is worth drinking.
"Before we had been ten minutes together my heart was knit to Southey,
and every hour thereafter my esteem for him increased. I breakfasted
with him next morning, and remained with him all that day and the next;
and the weather being fine, we spent the time in rambling on the hills
and sailing on the lake; and all the time he manifested a delightful
flow of spirits, as well as a kind sincerity of manner, repeating
convivial poems and ballads, and always between hands breaking jokes on
his nephew, young Coleridge, in whom he seemed to take great delight. He
gave me, with the utmost readiness, a poem and ballad of his own, for a
work which I then projected. I objected to his going with Coleridge and
me, for fear of encroaching on his literary labours; and, as I had
previously resided a month at Keswick, I knew every scene almost in
Cumberland; but he said he was an early riser, and never suffered any
task to interfere with his social enjoyments and recreations; and along
with us he went both days.
"Southey certainly is as elegant a writer as any in the kingdom. But
those who would love Southey as well as admire him, must see him, as I
did, in the bosom, not only of one lovely family, but of three, all
attached to him as a father, and all elegantly maintained and educated,
it is generally said, by his indefatigable pen. The whole of Southey's
conversation and economy, both at home and afield, left an impression of
veneration on my mind, which no future contingency shall ever either
extinguish or injure. Both his figure and countenance are imposing, and
deep thought is strongly marked in his dark eye; but there is a defect
in his eyelids, for these he has no power of raising; so that, when he
looks up, he turns up his face, being unable to raise his eyes; and when
he looks towards the top of one of his romantic mountains, one would
think he was looking at the zenith. This peculiarity is what will most
strike every stranger in the appearance of the accomplished laureate. He
does not at all see well at a distance, which made me several times
disposed to get into a passion with him, because he did not admire the
scenes which I was pointing out. We have only exchanged a few casual
letters since that period, and I have never seen this great and good man
In the Recollections of Wordsworth we find related the affront which led
to Hogg's caricature of Wordsworth's style, an offence which shut out
the Shepherd from the society of the amiable poet of the Lakes.
"This anecdote has been told and told again, but never truly; and was
likewise brought forward in the 'Noctes Ambrosianae,' as a joke; but it
was no joke; and the plain, simple truth of the matter was thus:--
It chanced one night, when I was there, that there was a resplendent
arch across the zenith from the one horizon to the other, of something
like the aurora borealis, but much brighter. It was a scene that is well
remembered, for it struck the country with admiration, as such a
phenomenon had never before been witnessed in such perfection; and, as
far as I could learn, it had been more brilliant over the mountains and
pure waters of Westmoreland than any where else. Well, when word came
into the room of the splendid meteor, we all went out to view it; and,
on the beautiful platform at Mount Ryedale we were all walking, in twos
and threes, arm-in-arm, talking of the phenomenon, and admiring it. Now,
be it remembered, that Wordsworth, Professor Wilson, Lloyd, De Quincey,
and myself, were present, besides several other literary gentlemen,
whose names I am not certain that I remember aright. Miss Wordsworth's
arm was in mine, and she was expressing some fears that the splendid
stranger might prove ominous, when I, by ill luck, blundered out the
following remark, thinking that I was saying a good thing:--'Hout,
me'em! it is neither mair nor less than joost a treeumphal airch, raised
in honour of the meeting of the poets.' 'That's not amiss.--Eh?
Eh?--that's very good,' said the Professor, laughing. But Wordsworth,
who had De Quincey's arm, gave a grunt, and turned on his heel, and
leading the little opium-chewer aside, he addressed him in these
disdainful and venomous words:--'Poets? Poets?--What does the fellow
mean?--Where are they?' Who could forgive this? For my part, I never
can, and never will! I admire Wordsworth; as who does not, whatever they
may pretend? but for that short sentence I have a lingering ill-will at
him which I cannot get rid of. It is surely presumption in any man to
circumscribe all human excellence within the narrow sphere of his own
capacity. The '_Where are they?_' was too bad! I have always some hopes
that De Quincey was _leeing_, for I did not myself hear Wordsworth utter
Appended to this anecdote is a characteristic observation on the poetry
"It relates to the richness of his works for quotations. For these they
are a mine that is altogether inexhaustible. There is nothing in nature
that you may not get a quotation out of Wordsworth to suit, and a
quotation too that breathes the very soul of poetry. There are only
three books in the world that are worth the opening in search of mottos
and quotations, and all of them are alike rich. These are, the Old
Testament, Shakspeare, and the poetical works of Wordsworth, and,
strange to say, the 'Excursion' abounds most in them."
We chanced to fall upon the Shepherd's allusion to the liberties taken
with his name in _Blackwood's Magazine_, which work owes its
establishment and much of its early success to Mr. Hogg's co-operation.
We believe it to be pretty well known that the offensive language
attributed to the Shepherd in the "Noctes" has no more to do with Mr.
Hogg than by attempting to imitate his conversational style. This
impropriety, which is beyond a literary joke, was reprobated some months
since by the _Quarterly Review_, but here the offending parties are
properly visited with a burst of honest indignation which may not pass
unheeded. Mr. Hogg says
"For my part, after twenty years of feelings hardly suppressed, he
has driven me beyond the bounds of human patience. That Magazine of
his, which owes its rise principally to myself, has often put words
and sentiments into my mouth of which I have been greatly ashamed,
and which have given much pain to my family and relations, and many
of those after a solemn written promise that such freedoms should
never be repeated. I have been often urged to restrain and humble
him by legal measures as an incorrigible offender deserves. I know I
have it in my power, and if he dares me to the task, I want but a
hair to make a tether of."
The Shepherd appears to have written since 1813, fifteen volumes of
poetry and as many volumes of prose, besides his contributions to
periodical works; and, what is not the less extraordinary he was forty
years of age before he wrote his first poem.
The Tales in the present volume are the Adventures of Captain Lochy, the
Pongos, and Marion's Jock.
* * * * *
_Marriage Tree_.--A marriage tree, generally of the pine kind, is
planted in the churchyard, by every new-married couple, in the parish of
Varallo Pombio, in the Tyrol. A fine grove of pines, the result of this
custom, now shades this churchyard.
_Slippery Love_.--Thevenard was the first singer of his time, at Paris,
in the operas of Lulli. He was more than sixty years old when, seeing a
beautiful _female slipper_ in a shoemaker's shop, he fell violently in
love, unsight, unseen, with the person for whom it was made; and having
discovered the lady, married her. He died at Paris in 1741, at the age
Character of England.
Anglia, 1 Mons, 2 Pons, 3 Fons, 4 Ecclesia, 5 Faemina, 6 Lana.
(That is to say:)
For 1, Mountains; 2, Bridges; 3, Rivers; 4, Churches faire; 5, Women;
and 6, Wool, England is past compare.
_On our Lady Church in Salisbury_.
How many dayes in one whole year there be,
So many windows in one church we see,
So many marble pillars there appear,
As there are hours throughout the fleeting year.
So many gates, as moons one year do view,
Strange tale to tell, yet not so strange as true.
_Astronomical Toasts_.--Lord Chesterfield dined one day with the French
and Spanish ambassadors. After dinner, toasts were proposed. The Spanish
ambassador proposed the King of Spain under the title of the Sun. The
French ambassador gave his king as the Moon. Lord C. then arose, "Your
excellencies," said he, "have taken the two greatest luminaries, and the
Stars are too small for a comparison with my royal master. I therefore
beg to give your excellencies, Joshua."
_Talleyrand._--(The following _bon mot_ is worthy of extract from the
_Literary Gazette_, and smacks of the raciest days of the noble
utterer.) M. Talleyrand was enjoying his rubber, when the conversation
turned on the recent union of an elderly lady of respectable rank.
"However could Madame de S------ make such a match? a person of her
birth to marry a valet-de-chambre!" "Ah," replied Talleyrand, "it was
late in the game; at nine we don't reckon honours."
_Remarkable Circumstance._--William Coghan, who was at Oxford in the
year 1575, when the sweating sickness raged at that place, and who has
given a brief account of its ravages, says, "It began on the sixth day
of July, from which day to the twelfth day of August next ensuing, there
died five hundred and ten persons, all men and no women."
_A Loyalist._--The Earl of St. Alban's was, like many other staunch
loyalists, little remembered by Charles II. He was, however, an
attendant at court, and one of his majesty's companions in his gay
hours. On one such occasion, a stranger came with an importunate suit,
for an office of great value, just vacant. The king, by way of joke,
comsired the earl to personate him, and demanded the petitioner to be
admitted. The gentleman addressing himself to the supposed monarch,
enumerated his services to the royal family, and hoped the grant of the
place would not be deemed too great a reward. "By no means," answered
the earl, "and I am only sorry that as soon as I heard of the vacancy, I
conferred it on my faithful friend, the Earl of St. Alban's," pointing
to the king, "who constantly followed the fortunes, both of my father
and myself, and has hitherto gone unrewarded." Charles granted, for this
joke, what the utmost real services looked for in vain.
* * * * *
_Printed and published by J. LIMBIRD, 143, Strand, (near Somerset
House,) London; sold by ERNEST FLEISCHER, 626, New Market, Leipsic;
G.G. BENNIS, 55. Run Neuve, St. Augustin, Paris; and by all Newsmen
* * * * *
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