Imatges de pÓgina

things. Among the gallery pictures is an Adoration of the Shepherds, by Philip de Champagne, which possesses extraordinary merit in the design and the chiaro-scuro; among the portraits, there is an admirable one by Bronzino, and two by Sir Anthony More which are little inferior to Titian ; and finally, there is a charming set of pictures by Watteau, representing the Four Ages of Man, and two others by the same artist in his usual courtly style.

In taking leave of the Fonthill Gallery, I should not give a fair impression of its character to those who have not seen it, if I did not add, generally, that it is (or, by this time, was) more miscellaneous in point of merit than any other great collection that I could point out. It contains (as I have shewn) a few fine works—but those, with one or two exceptions, not of the finest class; many that do not reach to mediocrity; and some that are totally bad. Whether this argues a want of taste, or only a want of means, is more than I shall determine. It must be confessed, however, that it might be difficult to say where four hundred fine pictures are to be found. In fact, the mistake of picture-buyers is to limit themselves in price rather than in number. Oh, for the two best rooms in Fonthill Abbey, and a hundred thousand pounds to furnish them with! With this space and this sum alone one might, even in the present day, collect together a finer private gallery than any one now in existence ;-bartering his paltry gold for the “ riches fineless" of truth and beauty; and (if that were his appetite) acquiring a lasting fame at the same time. The late Mr. Angerstein was known all over Europe, and will not soon be forgotten, for no other reason than that he possessed ten of the finest pictures in the world!


Seek not for loneliness ’midst leaves and Aowers,

But on the sands that void and voiceless lie,
Where not a shade reveals the passing hours,

And Time seems lost into Eternity!
And where-like wrecks upon a sullen sea,

Making the solitude more sad—we tread
O'er cities long lost from the things that be,

Where, towering like tall phantoms of the dead,
Haunting their desert tomb dim columns rear their head.
But when the stars look down through night's dun veil,

And o'er the Arab's slumber shed their beams-
As soft as Beauty's eye at Sorrow's tale,

Then is the desert peopled with his dreams-
With fairy scenes creative fancy teems;

He sees the blue-robed daughters of the skies
Wave on his spirit—where the crystal streams

Stray through cool shades, and every air that sighs
Wafts o'er immortal bowers the songs of Paradise !


[ocr errors]


Or the Art of making a good Marriuge. Such is the attractive title of one of those Parisian publications, which from their union of a refined and piquant style with great licentiousness of matter—from their abundance of caustic satire, or playful bantering, with the most barefaced want of principle--and from the employment of a cultivated, subtle, and even delicate intellect to inculcate the grossest sensuality, may be pronounced eminently and emphatically French. From the profligate romance of Louvet, down to that most heartless and detestable of all productions Les Liaisons Dangereuses, the literature of France, however poor in other respects, leaves not a single niche unoccupied in what may be termed her national Temple of polished Libertinism: while England, so superior to her rival in all the nobler departments of mental power, has fortunately seldom deigned to compete with her on this unhallowed and forbidden ground: One remarkable coincidence between the prurient writers of both countries is the common hypocrisy and cant with which they set themselves! up for moralists and saints whenever they are about to be particularly scandalous. We could mention certain British mawworms who never venture upon an indecent or abusive article without a preface of pretended horror at the irreligion, indecorum, and personality, of some unacceptable contemporary. Thus the Viscount de S-, which is the nom de guerre assumed by the author of " Conjugalism,” while in the spirit of the misogynist Swift he wallows in the most revolting nastiness of detail, is careful to add, that there is no security for female virtue or conjugal happiness unless it be grounded upon our holy religion; and at the very moment that he suggests means of the basest artifice, fraud, and forgery, to lovers of both sexes, for the attainment of their object, he piously warns them that there is no medium so likely to succeed as the practice of strict honour and unsullied morality. Upon other occasions, however, he forgets all his theoretical integrity, inculcates falsehood, treachery, and cheating, without deeming them worthy of even a passing apology, or, if he condescends to excuse them at all, revives the controversy of Thwackum and Square ; assures us that, if the end be the happiness of the parties, it completely sanctifies the means ; quotes the old adage, that in Love and War all stratagems are allowable; and finally tells the reader very cavalierly, that if any objections be made to the sordid duplicity which he advises, he rests his whole defence upon the title of his book, which he has called the art of making a good marriage. Without farther stigmatizing the pernicious tendency of this unprincipled work, we shall proceed to give such extracts from its unobjectionable passages as may afford amusing specimens of the author's style and power of

observation, as well as of the Parisian fashions, habits, and modes of thinking upon that universally interesting subjeci--Marriage.

The very first paragraph of the preliminary reflections is strikingly characteristic of the nation. Whoever is in the slightest degree conversant with French literature must have observed the slavish conceit with which every individual, for many ages, identified his own personal vanity with that of the grand monarque, to which we may attribute their custom of ransacking ancient and modern history for bon-mots


2 E

and fine sayings, that they might father them upon their own kings and princes. Every history of Henry the Fourth begins with the established anecdote, that, when in the plenitude of his power he was counselled to avenge himself upon some of his former opponents, he exclaimed “It does not become the King of France to punish the injuries done to the Duke de Vendôme." The good folks of France repeat this trait of magnanimity without dreaming that the words were originally uttered by a Roman Emperor under somewhat similar circumstances. Nobody without being suspected of Carbonari principles could object to this loyal plagiarism, so long as it was exercised for the benefit of crowned heads; but it behoves us to get ready our spring guns and steel traps when our neighbours begin to poach upon our private manors, in the style of the following opening paragraph

Mademoiselle Sophie Arnould, of cynical memory, amid a crowd of smart sayings and free sallies which have obtained for her the honour of a scandalous celebrity, compared Marriage to a bag full of venomous serpents, among which there were one or two good eels; you put your hand into this bag, said she, with your eyes bound, and you must be born under a singularly lucky star to avoid some of the cruel serpents, and pick out the good eel.” Unfortunately for Miss Sophie Arnould, we are told by so old a writer as Camden, that this was a favourite saying of Sir John More, the father of the celebrated Sir Thomas, who notwithstanding ventured to put his hand three times into the bag, and, so far from having his life shortened by his three wives, lived to the age of ninety, and then died in a very Anacreontic manner, of a surfeit occasioned by eating grapes.

After having decided in his first chapter that Marriage, besides its political, religious, social, sentimental, and patriotic considerations, has also its gymnastic division, and that mannikins, pigmies, as well as all rickety and deformed cripples, ought to be prohibited by law from sullying by their abortions the noble and superb theatre of propagation, our author reminds his readers that the wedding-day is like the day of judgment, when poor mortals must be exhibited in their true colours, without veil or disguise; and subsequently compares the same period to Ash Wednesday, when the Carnival-folks, having no longer any body to deceive, finish by throwing off the mask. Women in search of a husband are audaciously likened to criminals, who, knowing that they must be ruined by the truth, conceal it by the most complicated subterfuges ; the slanderer does not hesitate to state that they have recourse to pads and mechanical stays to hide their crookedness, and that, as to their mental defects, the veriest Fury will put her claws into lambskin, and exhibit honey upon her lips while her heart is rankling with gall. This being established, craft becomes justifiable on the part of the wooer; marriage, like diplomacy, has its Machiavelism, and as it oceasionally becomes indispensable to sacrifice a rustic and ridiculous frankness to the interests of the heart, or of a good establishment, the following instructions are to be diligently studied if the mother of your intended should fortunately happen to be one of those blue-stocking dames who deal in metaphors and romance, or are continually spouting their own rumbling stanzas.

“ This advantage,” exclaims our Viscount, “ is still better than to have one of those voluminous mammas, who under the weight of ten good lustres


and an undulating fat, are not the less solicitous to appear young, and simper their girlish graces with a set of teeth from Desirabode, and a head of hair from Michalon. Yes, a literary or rhyming mother-in-law is, in my opinion, the summit of felicity for a clever bridegroom. There is no bird-lime of surer effect than flattery for catching a woman who loves to see herself in print: in this case, you learn by heart some of her somniferous productions ; of course you fall into ecstasies or swoon away at every verse; in pastoral and elegy Madame Deshoulières and Madame Dufresnois, are but ninnies and simpletons, you exclaim, compared to your eleventh Muse; then it is that you yourself will also try to compose some little poems and madrigals, modest dwarfs presuming not to approach the giants which your eleventh Muse gives you every morning to digest ; and finally you hire, at whatever expense, some journalist or reviewer, who, although rarely of his own opinion, but always of that of his purse, will lavish his typographical incense and venal enthusiasm, which you have taken care to purchase for ready-money.. Oh! don't be uneasy upon this subject; there are twenty ways of creepirig into the good graces of a lady-author, who quits her household affairs to shoot, like Icarus, into a romantic immortality. Sometimes, I confess, the task is tiresome. What a nuisance to be daily overwhelmed, at dinner, in the drawing-room, at breakfast, even at the theatre, with bundles of verses and endless rhymes, whose harmonious and pompous delivery pursues you even in your dreams! Not to be able to swallow a mouthful at table without having it rendered insipid by some sonorous strophe which buzzes in your ear! To be forced to cry out charming! beautiful while you mutter to yourself, what wretched stuff! But, on the other hand, take a bird's-eye view of the handsome for. tune which is to be the reward of this heroic complaisance; contemplate, moreover, that heap of canvass bags through which the fine five-frasic pieces are seen to model their bright diameter; those bank notes which are well worth all your love-letters ; that gold, source of every prosperity; that glittering furniture in mahogany and rosewood ; those ottomans ; that superb mar. riage-bed, of mushroom colour or jonquil ; those golden doves which are billing over the canopy; those purple" curtains; the obsequious valet-dechambre with his plumeau; the lady's maid with pockets to her apron ; and, above all, those parchment marriage-articles upon which the law itself has engraved the guarantee of your fortune-Are not all these treasures worth a few moments' cunning and suppleness ?”

For the benefit of all aspiring bachelors, we extract our author's Vrai Code de l'Hymen :"

“ Instead of falling in love with a grisette, who has no other patrimony than her lilies and roses, her plump graces, and her wreath of flowers, the whole in a furnished garret at fifteen francs a month, look out for a good bulky dowager, or an imposing and substantial baroness of fifty-five, who drinks freely at every meal her bottle of best claret, never reads any thing but her cook's bill of fare, and knows to a nicety when a pullet is well-dressed. A solid and discreet man who ties the matrimonial knot with a woman of this description, understands his true interests : instead of wasting his youth in the dust of a counting-house, or scribbling in a lawyer's-office, our gentleman discourses with a complacent pride about his château, his garden-wall which he is going to rebuild, his hounds, his monkey, and his newspapers ; and throws a patronizing glance, as he walks, upon his former companions, to whom he has refunded, by the hands of a third person, certain half-crown pieces, which they had formerly lent him to buy a dinner.--For Heaven's sake never indulge in any thing romantic à la Oswald, à la Corinne ; that superb apparatus of sentiments rarified in the alembic of Platonism soon vanishes at the sight of misery; and when you are left in a wretched loft with a inistress



# A fashionable dentist in the Palais Royal.



full of sensibility, do you know what remains of those marriages which are sneeringly termed the union of hunger and thirst ?-mutual regrets-manuscripts of romances, and pawnbrokers' duplicates. Reflect, then, seriously, conjugalizers of both sexes, before you subinit yourselves to the empire of a sentiment ; anticipate the future fate of the Venus, cr the Apollo, who has captivated


and do not imagine that this firework of the heart can be of long continuance. Alas! after the fine Catherine wheel has been let off at Tivoli, there remains nothing but blackened scaffolding, scorched pasteboard, and the bad odour of sulphur; and to many husbands marriage, after the honeymoon, appears little better than a Tivoli firework.”

of the propriety of submitting to our parents in all matrimonial affairs, the following is adduced as an exemplary illustration :

“Edward, a handsome cashier, fell in love with the beautiful Olympia, only daughter of an opulent banker. Love had never more vehemently inflamed two hearts already united by the bonds of sympathy; nevertheless the father, having learnt the folly of his daughter, formally declared in an angry letter, that she must prepare to renounce her chimerical passion. Olympia replies, for lovers are never sparing of long-winded epistles, that Fate had pointed out as her husband the only individual who could secure her happiness, and concluded her high-flown and romantic letter with the following remarkable words—Edward or Death!!!What did papa write under this theatrical and mournful declaration ?-"Neither the one nor the other."-And he was perfectly right. Edward had nothing but a good figure, a little talent, and a good many creditors. Olympia passing from opulence to penury, in a melancholy hovel, disinherited by her parents, and forced to make a little kitchen, in a little room, with little means, would soon have repented her melo-dramatic resolutions ; love, who is a lover of good cheer, would as usual have flown out of the window, and our married couple, according to custom, would have recriminated upon their mutual folly."

Against the dupery of fortune-tellers and gipsies the following caution is given to all amorous damsels :

“I beseech all those young ladies, who, while they have the bandage of love or of the senses over their eyes, never see any thing except through the prism of illusions and desire, not to yield to the puerile superstition of consulting one of those Pythonesses of the highway, one of those sibyls of the garret, who, of their own plenary authority, read in the future every body's fate but their own, and in a game of cards spread out like a fan, in the white of eggs, or the grounds of coffee, shew you sweethearts as clearly as astrologers perceive inhabitants in the moon. Believe me, these sorceresses of the cellar, upon their modern tripods, with their black or white magic, their legerdemain and conjurer's tricks, know not a jot more of the matter than those porteresses who prophesy husbands for the chambermaids of their hotel, by signalizing the knave of hearts as a fair lover, the queen of spades as a dangerous rival, and the ace of diamonds as a letter from the country. Do you wish to know, ladies, the only method of securing a rich and good husband, who after luve (which has an immortality of some months after mar-, riage) will preserve for you an eternal esteem It is by your good conduct, your manners, your prudence, that you will obtain this treasure.

It would have been well for our author, and better for his readers, had he never given more objectionable advice.

Upon the subject of education, he disserteth after the following fashion.

In bestowing a brilliant education upon a girl whose whole fortune consists in the pride of her superficial learning, in her harpsichord, her musicbooks, and her fastidious purism in language, you are unconsciously, preparing for her the inost painful lot. Quitting her high-bred school with a

« AnteriorContinua »