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The fascinations of a literary career, which seem so brilliant when viewed from afar, and through the pleasant illusions of hope and youthful confidence, present but a pitiable appearance in the biographies of most literary men. Experience is daily reading us a homily on the precariousness of the profession, and the habitual improvidence of the professors; but we do not often meet with a sterner warning than is conveyed in the paragraph from the Northern Whig, which has been copied into the papers. A man of genius, William Carleton, at an age when even the day-laborer may fold his arms and cease to work", nearly blind, and with fading faculties, at seventy-one has still to struggle on to maintain a large family upon £ 150 a year, the residue of his pension after the insurance premium is paid. Now when we consider that of all forms of literary work none is so lavishly remunerated as fiction, and that the author of the "Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry " was very popular with readers of fiction, the announcement that William Carleton is in distress implies either the insufficiency of literature as a means of securing a competence even for an author who has considerable success, or else the improvidence which permits a man to make income of his capital, "living from hand to mouth," without any serious forethought of the coming days when failing faculties or waning reputation will no longer secure the income. Read the story how you will, it is one which should arrest the serious thought of the many ambitious aspirants who are tempted to escape the "drudgery " of commerce for the illusory attractions of literature.
Touching a volume of selections from Mrs. Browning's poems, published by Chapman and Hall, the editor of The Fortnightly Review says: The selection has been made by Browning himself; and the poet's instinct and the husband's reverential love have combined to give this Selection a peculiar artistic interest, over and above the separate interest of each poem. "It has been attempted," he says, "to retain and to dispose the characteristics of the general poetry whence this is in abstract, according to an order which should allow them the prominency and effect they seem to possess when considered in the larger, not exclusively the lesser works of the poet. A musician might say, such sweet chords are repeated, others made subordinate by distribution, so that a single movement may imitate the progress of the whole symphony. But there are various ways of modulate ing up to and connecting any given harmonies; and it will be neither a surprise nor a pain to find that better could have been done as to both selection and sequence, than in the present case all care and the profoundest veneration were able to do." A better selection? Possible; but not to me conceivable. I read the whole volume through, and felt as if I were reading one work. That is the final test of the artistic construction of such a selection; it is also a test of the unalterable sincerity of the writer, who expresses her own mind, and is not trying experiments on yours. The various poems have very various degrees of merit, but they have all the supreme merit of being genuine. They are songs; musical utterances of thoughts and fancies passing through the poet's brain. In affluent felicity of expression, Mrs. Browning is a study for poets and critic*, even when the thought expressed is of little value. We often hear the far-off echo of Shakespearian phrase, as, for instance, —
"There's nothing low
Or this: —
"What can I give thee back, O liberal
Shakespeare has no finer sonnet than that. The one blemish in it, (" Ask God who knows "), which is apt to excite a feeling of the ridiculous if dwelt upon, is the kind of blemish very frequent in her poems, — a reckless, or at least prodigal, introduction of God and Christ, disturbing the homogeneity of impression; but it is evidently a spontaneous mode of thought with her. I cannot venture to go on quoting passages as I should like to quote and comment, but as a single specimen of the delicate varieties she could throw into the same sentiment, let this little poem be compared with the sonnet just given: —
"0, wilt thou have my hand, Dear, to lie along in thine? As a little stone in a running stream, it seems to lie and
pine. Now drop the poor pale hand, Dear, unfit to plight with
"0, wilt thou have my cheek, Dear, drawn closer to thine
own? My cheek is white, my cheek is worn, by many a tear
run down. Now leave a little space, Dear, lest it should wet thine
"0, must thou have my soul, Dear, commingled with thy soul? Red grows the cheek, and warm the hand; the part is iu
the whole, Nor hands nor cheeks keep separate when soul is joined to soul."
Thomas Bewick has recorded, in his Autobiographical Memoir, that in 1812, during his slow recovery from a severe illness, he conceived the plan of a book similar to Croxall's JEsop's Fables; and as he gained strength began to draw designs on wood of the fables and vignettes. "In impatiently pushing forward to get to press with the publication, I availed myself of the help of my pupils, — my son, William Harvey, and William Temple, — who were eager to do their utmost to forward me in the engraving business, and in my struggles to get the book ushered into the world." William Harvey, born at Newcastle in 1796, was apprenticed to the great reviver of wood-engraving at the age of fourteen. His employment during the seven years of diligent apprenticeship was not always of so pleasurable a nature as his work upon his master's drawings. Bewick was a general engraver, at a time when he himself was almost the only artist who saw the capabilities of wood-cuts for the illustration of books. And so when Harvey sat at the bench in his master's workshop in St. Nicholas Churchyard, Newcastle, patiently laboring upon shop-cards, and all the other common productions in copper or wood of a country engraver, his opportunities for any practical acquaintauce with the higher branches of his art were not extensive. But he had the rare advantage of intimate companionship with one who has been called "a truly original genius, who, though not a painter, was an artist of the highest order in his way." Thus Mr. Leslie describes him who was characterized by John Wilson as "the matchless, inimitable Bewick."
In 1817 Mr. Harvey left the quiet haven of Newcastle to embark upon the stormy sea of artist-life in London. The young man knew the deficiencies of his early training, and placed himself as a pupil under Hayden, who was well qualified to give him correct instruction in the principles of drawing. But he assiduously worked as a wood-engraver, and in 1821 produced his large cut from Hayden's picture* of the " Death of Dentatus." Marvellous as is the execution of this work, — "superior to anything of the kind, either of earlier or more recent time," writes Mr. Chatto, — it is rather an attempt to rival lineengraving than a legitimate display of the peculiar excellence of woodcuts. After another seven years' labor as an engraver, Mr. Harvey, in 1824, abandoned that department of Art, and devoted himself exclusively to designing for copper-plate and wood engravers. Thus, during forty-one years, his name has become familiar to every reader of illustrated books, to an extent which has been said to exhibit one of the most remarkable instances of industry in the history of Art. The writer of a brief memoir of Mr. Harvey in the English Cyclopedia—himself an artist and art-critic — says "the number of his designs is less surprising than their variety. With that accurate observation of the habits of quadrupeds, which he probably derived from his early studies with Bewick, his zoological illustrations would alone command admiration. But in the higher orders of design, whether strictly historical or purely imaginative, the resources of his prolific genius appear rarely to have failed, however hurried the demands upon his taste and invention. The abundance of his works has necessarily involved conventional forms, which detract from his originality in some cases."
The blameless and useful life of William Harvey was terminated on the 13th of January. He died at Prospect Lodge, Richmond, where he had long resided. When his old master, Bewick, on the 1st of January, 1815, sent him " The History of British Birds," the present was accompanied with the solemn exhortation, "Look at them, as long as they last, on every New-Year's day, and at the same time resolve, with the help of the all-wise but unknowable God, to conduct yourself on every occasion as becomes a good man." Those who had the happiness of William Harvey's acquaintance can testify how well he carried out, during a long career of labor and struggle, this advice of his early friend. A more conscientious or more amiable man has rarely discharged the duties of every relation of life.
* Proofs of this remarkable engraving for many years brought flvncy prices, and, owing to a curious accident which occurred soon iitt-T it was finished, collectors spoke of the impressions as being "before" or " after" the mishap alluded to. It appears that whilst some proofs were being taken, a pair of scissors was left on the block by accident. The pressman gave a sharp pull, as usual, the tool was crushed into the wood, and the block was spoilt Brery effort was afterwards made to restore it, but it was too late. In 1824, Harvey drew and engraved the beautiful vignettes and "tailpK-ces" in Dr. Henderson's "History of Ancient and Modern Wines." After this he occupied himself more with designing than engraving; and, amongst the thousands of elegant illustrations drawn by him, we may mention two editions of White's "History of Selborne," "Northcote'H Fables" (first and second series), the 14 T nver Menagerie," the " Gardens and Menagerie of the Zoological
fijwi..t,. " tha .1 Arohinn Vt.rl.la " u nH « flholrMaTU>nrA"
THE GYPSIES' SONG.
(Translated from the Russian.)
We are two maidens
Hot boils the blood there,
In the eye's blackness the fire sparkles gladly,
Know ye what danger
In the eye's blackness the fire sparkles gladly,
AN ELIZABETHAN VALENTINE.
(In an Album, dated 1593.)
When Slumber first uncloudes my brain,
And thoughte is free, And Sense refreshed renews her reigne,—
When nexte in prayer to God above
1 bende my knee, Then when I pray for those I love, —
I pray for Thee.
And when the duties of the day
Dcmande of mee
I work for Thee.
Or if perchance I sing some lay,
Whate'er it bee;
They say of Thee.
For if an eye whose liquid lighte
Gleams like the sea, They sing, or tresses browne and brighte,—
They sing of Thee.
And if a wearie mood, or sad,
Possesses mee, One thought can all times make mee glad,
The thoughte of Thee.
And when once more upon my bed,
I dream of Thee.
In short, one only wish I have,
To live for Thee;
I'd die for Thee.
THE SWINDLER AS ARTIST.
The swindlers should form an Academy. As with the other middle classes of Great Britain, — for we take it the true rank of a swindler in the criminal world is between a burglar and a thief, — they have the virtue of industry, and they produce results; but they are terribly deficient both in intelligence and style. Mr. Matthew Arnold would despise them heartily, even if they had contrived to cheat him out of a five-pound note. They are always doing something which, even when efficient, is exceedingly clumsy and offensive to persons penetrated with a just sense of the value of the ideal in art.
They embezzle, for instance, with some success, and in great numbers; but embezzlement usually is nothing but theft under very easy circumstances. A person trusted with money steals it, and absconds, — an operation about as artistic as the construction of the brick box with holes in it which is called in London a house. If a professional indeed has obtained his situation with the view to embezzle, studied his employer's character and books, and embezzled at the precise moment when embezzlement is most profitable, then, indeed, his work is redeemed from vulgarity, and he may go to Portland with a serene consciousness that he has displayed intelligence lifting him quite out of the rank of mere industrials.
But few men have the ability for harmonious scoundrelism of this kind. They prefer simpler or more brutal expedients. Forgery, for instance, in the absence of an Academy which would enforce sound laws, strikes them as really artistic, and they are always forging. In reality forgery is to, true swindling what photography is to art, — it produces a great result, but by purely mechanical means. There is no possibility of style about it, for a mere imitation of handwriting does not allow of style, and the labor of ascertaining the state of an account requires very little thought, while the personation sometimes essential a, after all, an inferior though necessary accomplishment. The power of "getting up" well does not constitute a good actor. A professional forger may of course belong to a high order of swindlers, just as a photographer may be an artist, but the business itself is not within the domain of art. Ordering goods, too, and selling them without paying has usually very little merit, though it is sometimes redeemed from its commonplace nature by the adoption of a title, or the use of an aristocratic name, or some appeal to the dealer's vanity, or other peculiarity of disposition which requires thought and may indicate some faint trace of genius. The man who, for example, lived recently
for some weeks as a peer, taking a name now little known, was at least as high as an ordinary forger.
A swindle was recently committed in the South of France, which at first sight looked as if a great artist in swindling had appeared. A "Greek Prince" took rooms in a hotel in Marseilles, declaring himself on his way to Paris, bought horses, lived at an enormous rate, borrowed fifteen hundred francs of his landlord, professed to have fallen in love with a girl he saw in the train, and actually arranged with her family a contract of marriage which read very like a sale of the young lady by her brother. The Prince was a convict, and his success in duping so many persons whose interest it was not to be duped, and in availing himself of the prevalent belief that the arrival of a Greek Prince was a possibility, and the universal ignorance of what Greek Princes would be like, showed a fine and perceptive mind. But then it was immensely stupid to declare himself a Turkish subject when Turkey had a consul in the port, and to forge Turkish bills of exchange. The first man of common sense who got one — it happened to be the young lady's brother — took the document to the consulate, the bubble exploded, and Prince Kalliinaki was speedily in a prison again.
So, too, in the remarkably clever swindle related in the Times there is one evidence of vulgarity. Most of the incidents are artistic in the very highest degree, but there is a defect in style. A gentleman, it appears, who wished to let his house in Berkeley Square, was informed that a Mr. Montefiore was willing to take it, and called on him to arrange the lease. Mr. Montefiore thereupon informed him that he did not want the. house, but had asked for it because he wished to relieve its owner's embarrassments, and prevent the sale of a place he might afterwards require. An offer so unexpected and unusual would of course have excited suspicion; but the swindler, with really high feeling for his art, had prevented this by adopting the only name which carries with it a presumption of benevolence, as Rothschild docs of wealth. The owner accepting the offer, Mr. Montefiore told him that a bank with which he had influence would open a credit for him, provided he paid in £500. Had this been done, he would doubtless have offered in the kindest way to take the money to the bank, and have bolted with it, but the victim had not so much at hand. With a sang froid of the most creditable kind, Mr. Montefiore explained that it did not signify, that £200 would do, and that he himself would lend, to be repaid the following morning, the remainder. A check for £200 was produced, Mr. Montefiore showed another for £300, which under the circurastances was not examined, and drove his victim to a bank, where he pretended to get both cashed and really got one, and then to Rothschild's bank, where he disappeared with his plunder, leaving his victim in the cab. To make the fraud still more perfect, there is a Mr. Montefiore in the bank, and on Mr.
inquiring if he was there, he was answered
of course in the affirmative, a reply which gave the swindler nearly an hour more in which to escape pursuit.
Now here we have nearly the perfect swindler, the consummate actor, who marks his victim, understands his circumstances and character, lays a plot involving little danger at the outset, meets an unexpected difficulty with complete self-possession, and in the kindest, most charitable, and most gentlemanly manner robs the man who trusted in his effusiveness. There is, however, one blot. "Mr. Montefiore" is liable when detected to rather severe penalties, and we take it the ideal swindler, is the man who, doing all he did, and doing it as delicately, would at the end of it all be only within the grasp of the civil magistrate. To swindle so as to be imprisoned is a defect in art, showing want of culture and sense of proportion, an act very inferior in intelligence to a bankruptcy with property concealed, or other unpunished chef cCceuvre. It is like building a beautiful structure on a morass, and indicates a defect either of knowledge or of patience, inconsistent with the highest order of genius. That rank belongs to a performer in a little drama we heard of the other day, who, if he really exists, and we have no personal knowledge of the facts, ought to be made President of the Swindlers' Academy. He actually devised a safe form of swindling. He opened an account with a bank in the city, and commenced a practice of paying in his office balance every evening and drawing it out every morning. He did not like, he said, to leave so much money, usually some thousands, in the office. The practice, though unusual, was tolerated for some weeks, and on the last day the check presented as usual. It was not till it had been paid, and the money lost, that the clerk discovered the cash had not, as usual, been paid in. The drawer had relied with a curious knowledge of human nature on the influence of habit, and the dislike of men to display unnecessary suspicion, and the dislike of all banks to do anything so violent as refuse an unsuspected customer's check.
On the other hand, the swindler knew perfectly that if the check were refused it would be in the ordinary way by a mere memorandum of " Insufficient effects," and now that it is paid he is only in the position of a customer who has overdrawn and is liable to civil process. That little fraud, if it really occurred as we believe, is artistic swindling, and may almost reconcile the Mr. Arnold of the profession, whoever he is, to the blundering clumsiness of most of the fraternity, who seem to imagine, as such wretched industrials do, that if the result is attained, theft and swindling are almost the same thing. As well confuse architecture and London house-bnildim*.
Ix almost every German town there is a watchtower; sometimes it is a separate building, but generally the highest church-tower is used for this purpose; if a fire should by any chance, break out, whether by day or by night, the watchman is sure to observe it, if he is, as he should be, at his post,
and he forthwith tolls a bell which sets all the large bells in the town going in an incredibly short space of time. This is called a Sturm Glocke, and doubtless many a "song of the bell" could be written about such, since Schiller composed his poem, which forcibly describes a calamity so often occurring, vet bringing with it ever new terror and dismay. The outburst of these dreaded tongues is followed in many places, as in Saxe-Weimar, by the ■firing of canon; two such signals being given if the accident happens in the town itself, and one only if beyond the gates, or in a neighboring village. In the former case, this explosion is succeeded by blowing of trumpets, shouting, and barking of dogs; or after a while this Dutch concert is somewhat drowned by the bassoon-like rumbling of the heavy fire-engines drawn by their four or six black steeds along the rough-pitched stone pavement. To be thus awakened, after one's first sleep, is, it is needless to say, far from agreeable; it was long before I could compose myself to rest again, after my first experience in this way. The watchman with his family, if he should possess one, lives rent-free in his airy castle, is supplied with firewood and lights, and is allowed a certain stipend. Those who have been accustomed to the tower-life do not often willingly descend to take up their abode amongst ordinary mortals. I have been told by an old couple, who had given up the watch to take to some more lucrative occupation, that the change of air agreed with them so ill, and that they had so strong an impression that they must be suffocated if they remained below, as to induce them to return to their home in the clouds. The woman told me that her mother had been born, married, and died in a tower, and that she had followed in her steps in two instances, and hoped to do so in the third, when her time came. "Down in the town," said she, " there is always so much gossiping and backbiting going on, and I dare say that I should become as bad as the rest if I lived there; but up in my loft there is peace and fresh air, and we do not trouble ourselves about our neighbors, — indeed we scarcely feel that we have any to trouble about." I happened, in the early part of last autumn, to be visiting the chief town of Ober Hessen, Giessen, whose university I was wishing to see; and after satisfying my curiosity as to that ancient receptacle of learning, I turned my steps towards the still more ancient watch-tower, from whose height, I was told, I should get a good view of the surrounding scenery, so justly esteemed for its beauty. On reaching the dwelling part of the building I was greeted by the observant occupant himself, who at my request escorted me to the gallery, which was a wide one; and, arranged in rows around the outer side, stood a number of flowering shrubs and plants. This sudden and unexpected burst of brightness was a glad surprise to the eye, after resting so long upon the cold gray gloom of the stone walls and steps during the ascent, and it was with something of the same kind of feeling that a released prisoner must experience when he steps from his dungeon into the free air of heaven, that I stepped out upon this little garden of fresh verdure and brilliant blossoms, hanging as it were in the sky; and the view here was a still greater surprise; for indeed it is a fine and comprehensive one. To the right, the Schiffenberg, with its old church rising bare from behind its wooded ascent, among whose wandering paths the townsfolk love to disport themselves on Sundays and feast days. To the left, Gleiberg, on whose summit stands an ancient though lately repaired tower, the Sieben Hu
•_'<-lii. and the river Lahn flowing round by the hill and ruin of Badenburg; in the middle distance, fruit orchards lying warm and ruddy in the ripening August sun. The Germans call this month "dcr koch monat," the grapes being then supposed to undergo a process which turns their sour juice into the sunlit nectar which wine is capable of representing. After feasting my eyes on the landscape below, I turned towards the keeper of the little paradise on which I was standing, and complimented him upon the good taste which led him to adorn his balcony, so as to render it so attractive.
"Yes, madame, this is indeed a pleasant place to sit down and repose in, when I get up here, away from the heat and bustle of the noisy, dusty world beneath. My wife brought the coffee here for breakfast, after which meal I smoked my pipe, and enjoyed the fresh morning air. Ah, in spring-time, how delicious were those early hours, listening to the singing birds, beginning with solos and twitterings, and at length breaking into one gush of song! Yes,' those May mornings are delightful,' the fruittrees one sheet of blossom, whose odor rising on the breeze excels any toilet-perfumes that I know of. Here, too, on Sunday afternoons and evenings in summer, how charming it has been to sit, with my wife and children around me, watching the fading sky and the stars twinkle out one by one, and then, when all is hushed, and the world below asleep, O how I love to lie here and watch, not only the town, as is my duty, but the moon as she glides behind the clouds, or sheds down her unveiled light from the deep vault above me. How often do I pity the poor townspeople, who have to breathe the thick, smoky, ill-smelling atmosphere under me, whilst I am inhaling the pure breath of heaven. A friend of mine has remarked to me, that when he has anything of a perplexing nature to think about, or to determine, he likes to come-up here, where, apart from all that distracts attention in the underworld, he can more readily come to a conclusion; and Herrn C lark hinder" (the Dickens of Germany, you must know, reader), "who once came up to look about him, told me, that this round balcony would be worth thousands of guldens a year to him. Yes, the place is nice enough to live in, — but," continued the watchman, with a sigh, "we cannot remain in it. I am going to remove my furniture; my wife and the children are already gone away."
"What is your reason ?" inquired I, becoming interested in the man.
• • We have had so many fright*, and such a fearful accident here, that my poor wife's nerves are quite broken down, and I fear for her intellect, if she were to live in this tower any longer. She and the little ones are now lodging with some neighbors, if I can call those such who live so far beneath us, and out of our range as it were. They shall never put foot in this place again. We have had now three frights, and it u in consequence of the last, and the accident which caused it, that I came to the decision of removing as soon as possible."
"Will you tell me about the three occasions on which you and your wife were so much alarmed?"
"Willingly," replied he, offering me a wicker seat. "Those flowers opposite to you, madame, I placed at an additional protection to that of the iron railing, in consequence of the second fright we had, which happened about six months ago. But I will take them in order as they come. To begin with the first, which is as trifling an affair, compared with
the second, as that is compared again with the third, the shock from which I fear my wife will never entirely recover, — to begin, I say, with the first, I must explain that we have a windlass, by which we draw up our firewood and water from below, and which is fixed in the upper landing of the tower; the rope attached to it passes through a hole in the building, along a leaden pipe, which holds it out at about six feet distance from the wall outside, from whence it is let down when required into the lane beneath. There is a large wooden tray, which is hooked on to the rope, and filled with wood below; my wife and I, assisted bv our eldest boy, generally hauled up the wood, whilst the younger children, at least those who were old enough, for we have a large family, loaded the tray. We drew up our firing in this way once every day, usually in the afternoon or evening. We were thus employed one evening, when my wife remarked that the burden felt very light, and that those careless children of ours must have been playing about, and so neglected to fill the tray as full as usual. We had not long to wind, for the tray came up quickly, and on going up aloft to pull it over the balcony rails, which was our way of getting it in, to our astonishment and horror, instead of our firewood, we beheld a man, — yes, a man! pale as death, and with black swollen hands hanging on by the long iron hook, which fastened the rope to the tray, which had swung round, and offered no longer any support in consequence.
The luckless wight appeared to be almost in a fainting condition, and unable to speak from exhaustion. Had he moved a finger, he would have been in danger of falling, and it seemed to us, that ere we could possibly rescue him his strength must fail him, and he would become incapable of holding on any longer. The glazed look of terror in the poor fellow's eyes haunts me to this day. It was no easy matter to get him out of his predicament, as we found when we began to try, and it was a nervous touch-and-go work. Our hands trembled the more, from our conviction of the fact that the man's life entirely depended on our strength and the skill with which we exerted it. Recollect, the rope hung six feet from the wall, and that although it was an easy thing to fasten upon the large square surface of the tray, which came, of itself, much nearer, it was a very difficult matter to lay hold of the human being, hanging from the hook, at such a distance. Here was a dilemma: what was to be done? The process of letting him down by the windlass would have taken too long a time, I saw, for the man appeared to be on the point of swooning. An idea struck me! Rushing down stairs, I quickly returned with my walking-stick, and — ah! was I too late ? — it was the work of a second — life or death, which was it to be ? — which did it prove? the first of these contingencies, thank God! I succeeded in hitehing the crooked handle of the stick into the man's belt, and, thus pulling him within range of us, we caught hold of him by the head and by the feet at once, and lifted him over the railings. He was one of the ballet-dancers, whom I happened, being myself engaged at the theatre, to know, and a married man with a family. As soon as he was safe, my wife let out upon him, scolding him soundly for his wickedness in frightening her and exposing his life, of which, for his wife and children's sake, he should have taken more care. She turned him down stairs before he had half time to recover himself, telling him never to ascend, either by the outside or the inside, to our dwelling again. He had made a foolish