Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

overstepping their station, so that my life is thus a round of perpetual mortifications and uneasiness. Pray, therefore, absolve me of ingratitude, if I long to return to my native and proper shades, with their appointed habits. I am dying, like the poor owl, for lack of my natural obscurity.” The curiosity of the Countess being awakened by the last expression, Zerlina related to her the story of that unfortunate bird, and applied it, with a very touching commentary, to her own condition; so that the Countess was affected even to the shedding of tears. She immediately comprehended the moral, and carrying back Zerlina to her native village, she bestowed her future favour so judiciously, that, instead of being a misfortune, it secured the complete happiness of the pretty peasant.

HAZLITT'S CHARACTER OF MR. KNOWLES. If we were asked what sort of a man Mr. Knowles is, we could only say, “ He is the writer of Virginius." His most intimate friends see nothing in him by which they could trace the work to the author. The seeds of dramatic genius are contained and fostered in the warmth of the blood that flows in his veins; his heart dictates to his head. The most unconscious, the most unpretending, the most artless of mortals, he instinctively obeys the impulses of natural feeling, and produces a perfect work of art. He has hardly read a poem or a play, or seen any thing of the world, but he hears the anxious beatings of his own heart, and makes others feel them by the force of sympathy. Ignorant alike of rules, regardless of models, he follows the steps of truth and simplicity; and strength, proportion, and delicacy are the infallible results. By thinking of nothing but his subject, he rivets the attention of the audience to it. All his dialogue tends to action, all his situations form classic groups. There is no doubt that Virginius is the best acting tragedy that has been produced on the modern stage. Mr. Knowles himself was a player at one time, and this circumstance has probably enabled him to judge of the picturesque and dramatic effect of his lines, as we think it might have assisted Shakespeare. There is no impertinent display-no flaunting poetry; the writer immediately conceives how a thought would tell if he had to speak it himself. Mr. Knowles is the first tragic writer of the age; in other respects he is a common man; and divides his time and his affections between his plots and his fishing tackle between the Muses' spring and those mountain-streams which sparkle like his own eye--that gush out like his own voice at the sight of an old friend. We have known him almost from a child, and we must say he appears to us the same boy-poet that he ever was. He has been cradled in song, and rocked in it as in a dream, forgetful of himself and of the world.

LINES
Written in the Livre des Estrangers of the Union Hotel

at Chamouni. By the late Lord Byron.
How many numbered, and how few agreed,
In age, in clime, in character, or creed !
Here wandering Genius leaves an unknown name,
And Folly writes--for others do the same;
Italian treachery and English pride,
Dutch craft and German dullness, side by side ;
The hardy Russian hails congenial snow;
The Spaniard shivers as the breezes blow.
Knew we the objects of this varied crew
To stare how many, and to feel how few!
Here Nature's child, ecstatic from her school,
And travelling problems that admire by rule;
The timorous poet woos his modest Muse,
And thanks his stars he's safe from all reviews
The pedant drage from out his motely store
A line some hundred hills have heard before;
Here critics too (for where's the happy spot
So blessed by nature as to have them not?)

Spit their vile slaver o'er some simple phrase
Of foolish wonder, or of honest praise,
Some pompous hint, some comment on mine host,
Some direful failure, or some empty boast :
Not blacker spleen could fill these furious men
If Jeffrey's soul had perched on Gifford's pen!
Here envy, hatred, and the fool of fame,
Joined in one act of wonder when they came :
Here beauty's worshipper in flesh or rock,
The incarnate fancy and the breathing block,
Sees the white giant, in his robe of light,
Stretch his huge form to look o'er Jura's height;
And stops when hastening to the blest remains
And hidden beauties of more classic plains :
And here whom Hope beguiling bids to seek
Ease for his breast and colour for his cheek,
Still steals a moment from Ausonia's sky,
And looks and wonders on his way—to die!
But he, the author of these idle lines,
What passion leads him, and what tie confines ?
For him what friend is true, what mistress blooms?
What joy elates him, or what grief consumes ?
Impassioned, senseless, vigorous, or old,
What matters?-bootless were his story told.
Some praise at least one act of sense may claim
He wrote these verses, but he veiled his name. *

THE BLACK VELVET BAG.

BY MISS MITFORD. Have any of my readers ever found great convenience in the loss, the real loss, of actual tangible property, and been exceedingly provoked and annoyed when such property was restored to them? If so, they can sympathize with a late unfortunate recovery, which has brought me to great shame and disgrace. There is no way of explaining my calamity but by telling the whole story.

Last Friday fortnight was one of those anomalies in weather with which we English people are visited for our sins; a day of intolerable wind, and insupportable dust;

* We are not altogether convinced that these lines were really the noble Lord's. -Ed.

an equinoctial gale out of season; a piece of March unnaturally foisted into the very heart of May; just as, in the almost parallel mis-arrangement of the English counties, one sees (perhaps out of compliment to this peculiarity of climate, to keep the weather in countenance as it were) a bit of Wiltshire plumped down in the very middle of Berkshire, whilst a great island of the county palatine of Durham figures in the centre of canny Northumberland. Be this as it may, on that remarkably windy day did I set forth to the good town of B., on the feminine errand called shopping. Every lady who lives far in the country, and seldom visits great towns, will understand the full force of that comprehensive word; and I had not been shopping for a long time: I had a dread of the operation, arising from a consciousness of weakness. I am a true daughter of Eve, a dear lover of bargains and bright colours; and, knowing this, have generally been wise enough to keep, as much as I can, out of the way of temptation. At last a sort of necessity arose for some slight purchases, in the shape of two new gowns from London, which cried aloud for making. Trimmings, ribbons, sewing-silk, and lining, all were called for. The shopping was inevitable, and I undertook the whole concern at once, most heroically resolving to spend just so much, and no more; and half comforting myself that I had a full morning's work of indispensable business, and should have no time for extraneous extravagance.

There was, to be sure, a prodigious accumulation of errands and wants. The evening before, they had been set down in great form, on a slip of paper, headed thus“ things wanted.” To how many and various catalogues that title would apply, from the red bench of the peer, to the oaken settle of the cottager—from him who wants a blue ribbon, to him who wants bread and cheese! My list was astounding. It was written in double columns, in an invisible hand; the long intractable words were brought into the ranks by the Procustes mode--abbreviation; and,

as we approached the bottom, two or three were crammed into one lot, clumped, as the bean-setters say, and designated by a sort of short-hand, a hieroglyphic of my own invention. In good open printing, my list would have cut a respectable figure as a catalogue, and filled a decent number of pages-a priced catalogue too; for, as I had a given sum to carry to market, I amused myself with calculating the proper and probable cost of every article; in which process I most egregiously cheated the shopkeeper and myself, by copying, with the credulity of hope, from the puffs in newspapers, and expecting to buy fine solid wearable goods at advertising prices. In this way I stretched my money a great deal farther than it would go, and swelled) my catalogue; so that, at last, in spite of compression and short-hand, I had no room for another word, and was obliged to crowd several small but important articles, such as cotton, laces, pins, needles, shoestrings, &c. into that very irregular and disorderly storehouse that place where most things deposited are lostmy memory, by courtesy so called.

The written list was safely consigned, with a well-filled purse, to my usual repository, a black velvet bag; and, the next morning, I and my bag, with its nicely balanced contents of wants and money, were safely conveyed, in a little open carriage, to the good town of B. There I dismounted, and began to bargain most vigorously, visiting the cheapest shops, cheapening the cheapest articles, yet wisely buying the strongest and the best; a little astonished, at first, to find every thing so much dearer than I had set it down, yet soon reconciled to this misfortune by the magical influence which shopping possesses over a woman's fancy-all the sooner reconciled as the monitory list lay unlooked at, and unthought of, in its grave receptacle, the black velvet bag. On I went, with an air of cheerful business, of happy importance, till my money began to wax small. Certain small aberrations had occurred, too, in my economy. One article that had hap

« ПредишнаНапред »