« ПредишнаНапред »
to a seat in any, I have ever regarded it as a species of spiritual poaching; and the haunts of methodism I should never trouble with my presence at all, thinking with my old friend Cosens, that whatever it may be to the multitude, it is not, to say the least of it, the religion of a gentleman.'-Fruits of Experience, pp. 294, 295.
This gentleman was, as we have already hinted, a very different sort of person in his early years, and not a few of his readers will linger with the highest pleasure, we dare say, over the pages in which he transmits to posterity the picture of the long-repented vagaries of his youth. In these days, the venerable historian makes no scruple to confess he was a free-thinker both in religion and politics, and what he himself considers as the necessary consequence, in a man of his temperament, a very free liver. He seems, in truth, to have belonged to so many clubs, that if he attended each of them once a month, he could not possibly spend a single evening at his own fire-side. There was, for example, the Highflyer Club, of which old Mr. Tattersall, a kind-hearted and cheerful man,'' originally an hostler,' was president, while the principal wits, (next to Brasbridge himself, we suppose,) were 'Whitfield, the comedian, commonly called T. B. (that is-T'other Bottle) Whitfield ;' Mr. Colburn, of the Treasury, whose very looks inspired cheerfulness and good humour;' Bob Tetherington, as merry a fellow as ever sat in a chair;' and 'Owen, the confectioner, a gentlemanly man, of considerable accomplishment and talent.' (p. 16.) This was a gambling club, all the members being fond of the turf, and frequent visiters at Squire Tattersall's sporting box in Leicestershire. There was a second-a card-club, at the Crown and Rolls, Chancery-lane, where the great attraction seems to have been Equity Hawkins,' a spatterdash-maker,' so designated from having his shop at the door of Lincoln's Inn. A third assembly congregated at 'the Globe, in Fleet-street!'—and here shone pre-eminent over his pipe and pot, 'Archibald Hamilton, the printer, with a mind fit for a Lord Chancellor' (p. 39). Mr. Deputy Thorpe, the keeper of this classical tavern, seems to have been himself a wit of no small standing (p. 41); but the Momus of the Globe was the gay and fascinating Mr. John Morgan.' (p. 44.)
'He,' says our historian, was, without exception, the best companion I ever knew. One night in particular, he was so irresistibly droll, that Mr. Woodmarston, the stock-broker, presented the ludicrous spectacle of a man of six feet high rolling about on the floor with his arms a-kimbo, to keep himself together, as he said, for that he was certain otherwise he should break a blood-vessel, that fellow Morgan made him laugh so much.-Fruits of Experience, p. 46.
There was, moreover, the Sixpenny,' held at the Queen's Arms, in St. Paul's Churchyard,' (p. 46.) As also the Po
litical,' at the Cider-cellar, in Maiden-lane;' but above all, The Free and Easy under the Rose,' which assembled at the Horn.
It was originally kept by Bates, who was never so happy as when standing behind a chair with a napkin under his arm; but arriving at the dignity of alderman, tucking in the calipash and calipee himself, instead of handing it round to the company, soon did his business.'-Fruits of Experience, p. 59.
The members of the last-named association were called 'buds of the rose,' and had a button which might have pleased Anacreon. But for the full and particular history of all these festive haunts, as also of those who frequented them, and of their sons, wives, daughters, cousins, and, above all, customers, we must refer the curious reader to Mr. Brasbridge's own chronicle. We have never had the pleasure of seeing the author personally, but if we may judge from the portrait engraved at the beginning of his book, he is one of the most comely and healthy, as well as loyal and contented of octogenarian literati.
So much for five of these ten autobiographical worthies. One word more, and we conclude.
Few great men-none of the very highest order-have chosen to paint otherwise than indirectly, and through the shadows of imaginary forms, the secret workings of their own minds; nor is it likely that genius will ever be found altogether divested of this proud modesty, unless in the melancholy case of its being tinged, as in Rousseau, with insanity. There was, therefore, little danger of our having too much autobiography, as long as no book had much chance of popularity which was not written with some considerable portion of talent, or at least by a person of some considerable celebrity in one way or another. But the circle of readers has widened strangely in these times; and while an overwhelming preponderance of vulgarity among them tempts one class of writers to the use of materials which, in elder times, they would have held themselves far above; a still more disgusting effect is, that it emboldens beings who, at any period, would have been mean and base in all their objects and desires, to demand with hardihood the attention and the sympathy of mankind, for thoughts and deeds that, in any period but the present, must have been as obscure as dirty. The mania for this garbage of Confessions, and Recollections, and Reminiscences, and Aniliana, is indeed a vile symptom.' It seems as if the ear of that grand impersonation, the Reading Public,' had become as filthily prurient as that of an eaves-dropping lackey.
If this voluntary degradation be persisted in, the effects of it will, ere long, be visible elsewhere than in literature. An universal
spirit of suspicion will overspread the intercourse of society, and no class of persons will suffer more, than those who found easy access in former days to circles much above their station, in virtue of the general belief, that their garrulity was not at least the veil of a calculating curiosity, and that, however poor their wit might be, they were capable of receiving kindness and condescension, without any notions of turning a penny by the systematic record of privacies too generously exposed.
If any ridicule could terminate this abomination, the autobiographical silversmith would supply it: he has put parody out of the question. But the nuisance has gone far beyond a jest. None can hope to guard against the treachery deep-working and slowthe odia in longum cocta, of a Horace Walpole; but people have themselves to blame, if their feelings, or those of their children after them, are outraged in consequence of the levity with which they admitted the companionship, on any terms, of farce-wrights and professional buffoons.
ART. VII.-Dartmoor; a Descriptive Poem. By N. I. Carrington, author of the Banks of the Tamar. With a Preface and Notes, by W. Burt, Esq., Secretary of the Chamber of Commerce, Plymouth; and Eight Vignettes and Four Views, illustrative of Scenery, drawn and etched by P. H. Rogers, Esq., Plymouth. Hatchard. 1826.
THE HE subject of this poem is a district of singular interest, not only to the picturesque tourist, but to the naturalist and antiquary-we will not add, to the farmer or the political economist; for, notwithstanding all that is said as to its capability of being turned to the purposes of cultivation, and after all the attempts that have been made, and partially succeeded, towards redeeming Dartmoor from the sterility with which the hand of nature has stamped it, we hold it among the remotest of speculations, that the thin and scanty covering of peat earth with which its basis of primitive granite is far from completely invested, can ever be made, we will not say to reward the projector, but even to supply fuel for the rage of improvement.
We will not deny that our wish, if not the parent of our persuasion, is at least in some degree akin to it. The very vicinity of this desolate tract to some of the richest and most highly-cultivated land in the kingdom-the insularity of its position, surrounded on all sides by a region of smiling loveliness, on which it looks down frowning in stern and lonely retirement, ought, we cannot help thinking, to protect it against the thought of invasion or disturbance.
The mention of railroads' can scarcely be pleasant to him who contemplates from the summit of one of its loftiest tors the distant prospect of civilisation beneath him, so strangely contrasted with the absolute seclusion of the spot from whence he surveys it. We feel as if separated by some impassable, though viewless barrier, from the habitable earth that lies spread out like a map before our eyes, and forget that it is possible, in the space of an hour or little more, to rejoin the world of which we seem to have taken our last farewell.
Dartmoor, in its general form and features, will not, by those whose impressions are formed from mountain-scenery, be allowed the praise of picturesque. When viewed from the north and north-west, from the borders of Exmoor to the promontory of Hartland, it forms a boundary to the distant horizon, which, from its continuity and gradual rise, approaches, if it does not quite reach, the character of magnificence; but, viewed from all other directions, it presents the aspect merely of an elevated table-land, broken into
a number of hemispherical swellings, or undulations, gradually overtopping each other, and here and there interrupted by deep depressions, yet without forming what may be properly called distinct mountains. It is covered with black and brown peat, and crowned at intervals with tors; some rising like pillars or turrets, others composed of blocks piled together, others divided into horizontal or perpendicular strata, and others so symmetrically arranged as to resemble the ruins of ancient castles. Innumerable masses of stone, more or less rounded and smoothed, lie scattered over the general surface. To a person standing on some lofty point of the moor, it wears the appearance of an irregular broken waste, which may be best assimilated to the long, rolling waves of a tempestuous ocean, fixed into solidity by some instantaneous and powerful impulse. Even at a distance it has this billowy aspect, which, in every zone, according to Humboldt, is the characteristic of primitive chains.'
But what it wants in outline is amply compensated by the advantages it derives from various accidental features and appendages.
The changeful hues of the moor, at different periods, are picturesque objects for many miles round. At one time the clouds creep up the acclivities, and envelope them in a white vapour, through which the sun breaks with difficulty. At another, their nakedness is exposed to the full glare of its beams. At another, light and shade either chequer the surface, or follow each other in rapid alternation. Mornings and evenings, they are of a deep blue colour; but when the snow mantles them with its fleecy skirt, they remind the spectator of the Apennines.'
To the poetical worshippers of nature, it possesses character
istics far more valuable, and which raise far nobler emotions than the mere picturesque is capable of exciting.
The roaring of torrents, after heavy rains, and when the wind favours its transmission, is sublime to a degree inconceivable by those who have never heard this impressive music in a wild and solitary district. It is occasionally louder by night than by day, which the peasants consider as a prognostic of rain, and often strikes the ear even at three miles' distance. This majestic sound applies to the rivers generally, when swollen and agitated, but the falls of Beckey and Lydford afford particular examples of it. De Luc, in his Geological Tour through England, gives a very picturesque account of the former. "A beautiful stream," he says, 66 was first seen to precipitate itself from above, and for some way to bound, divided, from block to block, often disappearing between them, and again issuing forth in several rills, which glided along their mossy surface, falling upon some of them in a sheet of water, with the alternate glittering and transparency of silver gauze; but this sheet was soon lost amongst the blocks, whence the stream repeatedly burst forth, and afterwards, flowing calmly for some distance, rushed precipitately down another slope."'
The numerous rivers and smaller streams which take their rise from the moor, and, in their respective courses to the English and Bristol Channels, intersect the whole county westward of the Exe, and assign to it its most lovely and most distinguishing character, are equally beautiful and diversified, in the wilder features which mark their source and progress through the parent district, and in the softer scenes of valley and woodland which accompany them downwards to the sea. The principal are the Dart and Teign, whose direction is to the east and south-east; the Tavy and Plym, to the south-west; and the Taw, to the northward. They have all their source out of or near a lake called Cranmere Pool, which itself constitutes one of the principal curiosities of the district. It is situated
on the top of a high hill, never known to be dry, and consisting of morass, or red bog and rushes, which, in process of time, have so accumulated as to rise forty or fifty feet above the natural level. It is of an oblong form, about one hundred and fifty feet in length, by eighty broad, the water appearing to issue from a bed of gravel beneath the peat, which is here peculiarly excellent and abundant, although, from its remoteness, but little used. The precise site is difficult to be found, even by those who have before visited it, and it cannot be approached, without precaution, by man or horse, except in summer, when the ground, for a narrow space, is more solid than the rest. In the vicinity of the pool are quaking bogs. Some of the moor rivers are thought to have their immediate sources in the pool, but this is not precisely the fact. One only is so circumstanced. The others flow, in opposite directions, from the surrounding morass; but as the water with which