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• The group consisted of two lovely girls, their governess, and a blooming youth, on whom the two girls leant. Every turn of their healthful and beautiful countenances was expressive of joy and health ; and their elastic and buoyant steps seemed scarcely to touch the turf, as, arm-linked in arm, they passed along. The youngest, a rosy-cheeked girl of eleven years old, begged her companions to pause while she examined a bird's nest, which she said she feared the parent-bird had forsaken; and this gave the heart-stricken mother, for those were the children of the unknown, an opportunity of regarding the treasures her soul yearned to embrace. How did her bosom throb at beholding those dear faces—faces so often presented to her in her troubled dreams!—Alas! they were now near her-she might, by extending her hand, touch them—she could almost feel their balmy breaths fan her feverish cheek, and yet it was denied her to approach them. All the pangs of maternal affection struck on her heart; her brain grew giddy, her respiration became oppressed, and, urged by all the phrenzy of a distracted mother, she was on the point of rushing from her concealment, and prostrating herself before her children.
* But this natural though selfish impulse was quickly subdued, when a moment's reflection whispered to her, will you purchase your own temporary gratification at the expence of those dear beings whom you have so deeply injured? Will you plant in their innocent breasts an impression bitter and indelible? The mother triumphed over the woman, and, trembling with emotion, she prayed that those cherished objects might pass from her view, while yet she had strength and courage to enable her 10 persevere in her self-denial.
* At this moment the little girl exclaimed, “Ah! my fears were too true; the cruel bird has deserted her nest, and here are the poor little ones nearly dead! What shall we do with them?” • Let us carry them to our dear mamma,” said the elder girl ;
" she will be sure to take care of them, as she says we should always pity the helpless and forsaken.”
• The words of the children struck daggers to the heart of their wretched mother. For a moment she struggled against the blow, and, making a last effort, tried to reach the spot where she had left her attendant ; but nature was exhausted, and she had only tottered a few paces, when, uttering a groan of anguish, she fell to the earth bereft of life, just as Francesca arrived to see her unhappy mistress breathe her last sigh!'--pp. 150 -155.--The Keepsake.
The editor, Mr. F. Mansel Reynolds, has favoured the readers of the 'Keepsake' this year with only one of his masterly productions; at least it is the only one that he has condescended to acknowledge. It appears in the shape of an irregular ode. The author calls it a ‘Moral Song.' It is in truth a versified sermon upon the text, “Vanity of vanities, and all is vanity,” which is prefixed to it in the Latin tongue. In the first part of the said discourse, the preacher inculcates, with great force of argument, and singular beauty of diction, that we are not to consider ourselves very good, simply because we do not commit murder.
• Though from certain crime exempt,
True, no doubt, you spill no blood
The Keepsake, p. 213, Having made this excellent exordium, the sweet moralist next proceeds to shew, that a lady or a gentleman who happens to scold a servant, or any kind of dependent, without just cause, is now, that is to say in these enlightened times, infinitely more criminal than a baron bold of the chivalrous ages, who slew his neighbour without remorse of conscience! The soundness of this doctrine is indisputable. In the feudal days, killing was really no murder. A man might then knock another man down, and draw out all the blood that was in him, without being answerable to human or divine law. Nay, such deeds were then very natural; they were but an indulgence in crimes that did tempt 'a yielding to temptation strong,' as our author happily puts it, which is nothing compared to the wickedness of yielding to temptation slight!'
• They that with but slight temptation,
The Keepsake, p. 213. If, therefore, dependents should annoy us, or any other person, friend or foe, we ought to bear with them, for we must all die.
• Let it pass;
For, alas !
And we must
Turn to dust,
Whether we are corrupt or just.' Or, as the author, in a subsequent stanza, more elegantly expresses it,
• In an instant be as not ;
Lie beneath the earth and rot!' It would injure the chain of the argument, if we were to break in further upon this sublime composition, and follow the author in his demonstration of the great truth, that
• Life is much too short for wrangling,
Death will come and catch us jangling! We shall only cite one passage more, just to let the reader see the moral editor of the Keepsake roused to what may be called a holy anger. Mark the flash of withering lightning which breaks forth in this fine exclamation :
Tell me not of love and beauty,
The Keepsake, p. 214. Who can deny that the Keepsake,' for the new year, possesses the charm of variety ? Lest the essay upon Chesterfield and his Fanny should produce a bad effect upon the minds of youthful readers, the editor gives an antidote to it, in a moral song!
Upon the engravings, we can only make a general remark, that they are, for the most part, pearls-pearls thrown amongst swine! for it cannot be said, that the few pieces which we have selected for praise, including even the moral song, can redeem from obscurity and worthlessness, more than three hundred pages of matter, with which the volume is oppressed.
Mr. Thomas Roscoe styles himself, not the editor, but the author, of the Landscape Annual.' He writes a tour of Italy, where we believe he has never been, by the assistance of several writers who have visited that country; he quotes many passages from Rogers and Byron, and whole pages from books which are in the hands of every body; and this, he thinks, is being the author of the mass of letter-press which explains the embellishments! Had he acknowledged, what is really the fact, that he was simply a collector on this occasion, we should have given him the credit of having well arranged a very respectable compilation ; the chief attraction of which, however, consists of the number and beauty of its engravings. There are no fewer than twenty-six in the volume, all admirably executed, but not equally well designed. We defy the most imaginative mind to form an idea of Venice, from the sketch which Mr. Prout has given of it. A crowd of people, a canal, a boat and part of its sails, a fragment of a portico, with a lamp suspended therein, a church, two pillars, and two or three palaces; these are called Venice! Truly, it required the name to be written beneath, to inform us what the painter intended to produce. The partial glimpses of the grand canal, the Rialto, and St. Mark's Place, are much more intelligible. We cannot but consider the view of Rome as very imperfect; it is too small and trilling for an object which awakens in the mind such a long train of glorious associations. Several of the Roman temples and palaces are exhibited, with great effect. But, in turning over the volume, we feel
wearied of the sameness of the subjects, and of the style in which they are represented. It is refreshing to repair from so many gorgeous scenes, to the quiet seclusions of Rimini and Terni, and Civita and Castellana.
There are four prints in the 'Gem’ for the new year, which would stand a comparison with any that have appeared in the other annuals. We allude to Victoria Colonna,' the Portrait of a Boy,' the Young Crab catchers,' and the landscape composition called * Evening. Upon each of these we could pore for hours, without being satiated; they give a value to the “Gem' that must raise it to the highest rank of these publications. We have never seen the spirit of a painting more completely infused into verse, than that of the portrait of which we have just spoken.
• Thou thing that speakst without a tongue,
That seest with those unseeing eyes:
Unliving, yet that never dies !
Bright infant of the dark-to be,
Shall Heaven's high verdict stamp on thee ?
Shall kindle with the poet's fire;
That hand strike rapture from the lyre ;
Of all Earth's bards, the mightiest bard;
Thyself thine own sublime reward ?
Tho' lovely visions lead the way;
There's madness in its golden ray.
Thou, too, shalt feel fame's ebbing tide ;
Boy! thou shalt perish in thy pride.
To smite the nations, or to save;
The terror of the land and wave;
Upraised for thee, and thee alone;
The strength of empires in thy throne ?
And see the brood that nestle there :
The wild suspense, the fierce despair ;
The thoughts that, like a lava-stream,
Consume the mighty to the grave :
Nor die Ambition's worn-out slave.
And making earth and sea thy mine,
The Indian and his treasures thine ?
That turn the wealth of worlds to gall :
The Gem, pp. 37, 38. The 'Gem' has also a very good engraving of Lady Russell in the act of writing. A fragment of that distinguished woman's story is interestingly told. The literature of the volume is varied and unpretending. We can only find further room for some very laudable and good-humoured verses, in deprecation of war, of which, heaven knows, we have seen quite enough for one generation.
Aye, bear it hence, thou blessed child,
Though dire the burden be,
Or drown it in the sea :
So let him swear and pray;
And take the sword away.
Guns, glories, odes, gazettes,
Huzzas, and epaulettes ;
Another leaf of bay;
Yes, take the sword away.
That pleased our patriot throngs;
And tame to Dibdin's songs ;
Without a great display ;
But take the sword away.
Play up a favorite air ;
More ugly than they were ;