Imatges de pÓgina

the predictions with which every wedding is solemnized ; and if the Aattering visions of the future prove too often illusory, it is to be attributed to the general lot of bumanity, rather than to any inberent defects in the marriage system.

Although he seemed to possess all the constituents of conjugal happiness, the sanguine auguries of Sir Ralph's friends were speedily falsified; he parted from his wife, and returned with new ardour to his first loves--the bottle and the chase. On his wedding-day I had seen him, in this very church-yard, step from his carriage flushed with youth and vigour, an elastic specimen of manly beauty. Living to see him crippled, gouty, and infirm, I at last beheld him borne once more to this same spot, and methinks I now hear the deepest-mouthed of those very bells that had rung out such a merry peal on his marriage," swinging slow with solemn roar" its sad and solitary toll for his burial-Dong! dong! dong! dong !- What a contrast did the scene present! Every shutter was closed in the windows of the old hall-its chimneys were cold and smokeless—the whole house looked forlorn and desolate, as if there were no living thing within it. The once jovial master of that ancient mansion was borne slowly from its gate beneath the sable plumes of a hearse; the gay carriage and the four noble horses, of which he was so proud, followed, as if in mockery of his present state, the servants attesting, by better evidence than their mourning liveries, the sincerity of their grief; a sad procession of coaches with the customary trappings of woe brought up the rear; sorrow was upon every face ; the villagers spoke to one another in whispers ; a hushing silence reigned among the assemblage, only broken by the deep toll of the passing bell; and thus did I follow the body to the family sepulchre, and heard the hollow rattling of the sand and gravel as they were cast down

the coffin-lid of the


that was once Sir Ralph Wyvill. There is not a dell or cover, a woodland or plain for many

miles around, that has not echoed to his Stentorian view hallo! nay even the church itself and the hollow mansions of the dead, for he was no respecter of localities, have rung with the same cry. Where is that tongue now? The huntsman might wind his horn, the whole pack give cry, and the whole field unite their shouts at the very mouth of his vault, without awakening the keen sportsman who sleeps in its deep darkness. That tongue, whose loud smack pronounced a fiat upon claret, from which there was no appeal-what is it now?-a banquet for the worm until both shall be reconverted into dust. And perhaps, ere those bells shall have rung in another new year, and awakened a new race of candidates for the grave, the hand that traces these thoughts, and the eye that reads them, may be laid also in the earth, withered decompounded-dust!



A COUNTRY gentleman, whose habits are retired, uniform, quiet, and withal somewhat studious, on being occasionally hurried up to London, is always much more vividly impressed with the various objects of the singular scene presented by the metropolis, than those can be who reside almost all the year round in town, and whose senses are consequently accustomed and blunted to the stimulus of its imposing movements and its noises. This is precisely my own case. Although no stranger to the multitudinous capital, my latter years have been passed in a tranquil and distant part of England, whilst occasional calls of duty summon me, for a few days, to endure the sounds and sights, and to respire the thick and tepid 'atmosphere of town. The first idea of one of these journeys is always highly disagreeable to me; and, for a few days before I leave home, I feel a more than usually tender attachment to those objects which endear it to me, and lament, to a degree that I fear would be considered absurd, the interruption of cherished habits of regularity, and the necessity of a temporary absence from scenes and persons familiar to me, and even not always without the power of annoying me. As I generally travel by coach, I look forward with pain to the weary hours I am to pass on my journey,

“Remote, unfriended, melancholy, slow ;" and see in their termination in London nothing that has power to charm. I know not how to account for it, but the approach to, and entrance into London, invariably depresses me. This strange feeling is independent of external circumstances ; for I have entered London in youth and health, and not without the power to command its pleasures; but ever as I have approached its barriers, I have seemed to enter the fatal city which was to afford me a gloomy grave. Yet, of all horrors, God preserve me from that of being hurled into the earth by a London sexton, or buried by a London clergyman!—I speak this, as Brutus speaks of the Tarquins, "from the bottom of my soul."

With the exception of one or two entrances, an arrival in London is preceded by an hour's journey through scenes in which wretchedness and vanity are displayed in colours the most painful to the eye of reflection that can be imagined: the whole picture floats before me at this moment:—The scanty gentility of the better sort of houses; the lugubrious blackness of the few unhappy trees, placed, as in derision, among masses of hasty brick-work; the porter-houses; the coachstands with their complement of watermen, half-pay coachmen, and regular pickpockets; the coffee-shops; the rows of brokers' stalls, each with a seductive pile of squalid finery, and withal the gaudy starvation of exotic women; and the dingy multitudes of men in worn-out black coats, all full of a London look of important wretchedness; and, mingled with these, pompous equipages; pale proud faces, physiognomies fresh from the very heart of the city, marking the wealthy who seem to be driving away into semi-rural life, as if to save their lives :these, with the noise, the crowd, the dull, dispiriting, and carbonaceous atmosphere; glimpses of long streets of busy interested life; thousands of people, not one among whom would care if one died of apoplexy on the spot, and most of whom would rather like the excitement of

sach a spectacle :all this is oppressive to a degree that cannot be described, and causes an absolute gasping of the inward soul for the freshness of rural life and human innocence. These are things which, potwithstanding the hurry with which he is driven to some pestiferous coach-hotel, with its dungeon-offices below and prison-galleries above, on which the sun never yet shone for one bright hour, make his first moments in London hateful to the country gentleman. The character of man is, indeed, altogether worked out unfavourably in London, and the vast city seems to receive you as if only to devour you. Talent, it is true, is highly cultivated and richly rewarded; the intellectual faculties are fully developed and splendidly exercised; whatever is grand in conception, or extensive in operation, is boldly undertaken and skilfully performed; but the good feelings of our nature, the warm, social, uncalculating, and friendly propensities, find no favourable soil. Even in the higher classes there is not, from want of time, or perhaps from the eternal occupation of a town-life, that warmth of feeling which prevails in the peaceful and elegant mansions of the country; whilst, in the middle classes, all that is interested and vain, and in the lower, all that is wicked, foolish and vulgar, is brought forth more prominently and disgustingly: ignorance is more presuming, profligacy more gloried in, villainy more open and avowed ; and in all, from the very highest to the lowest, forgetfulness of friends ranks among the dignified virtues which adorn prosperity. Some are absorbed in dissipation, others in the pursuit of gain, others in the promotion of profligacy, and many in the refinement and perfection of erery kind of fraud, artifice, and crime; whilst feeling and reflection are lost in whirl, and noise, and hurry, and never-ending toil. Thus, at least, it painfully appears to the visitant from the country, on his arrival; and it is not until he is extricated, or drawn a little out of the nucleus of the town, just far enough to feel the fanning benefit of a west wind, and to know that he yet continues to live in a world where sometimes the sky and sometimes the sun is seen, that he begins to breathe, the asthma under which his heart and lungs have laboured so painfully is relieved, and he lives to comfort or to happiness once more. The disagreeable impressions fade rapidly away, and so far from London then appearing a place without pleasures, and those of the highest and most ennobling description, he finds himself perplexed with their variety, and perhaps somewhat at a loss to determine how many may be comprehended in the brief space of two or three long and busy days. Who is there, indeed, with any taste for any thing, with any knowledge or admiration of any art, or any science, or any occupation, or any amusement, that does not admire London? It is in London that the perfection and utmost refinement of human industry and human talent may be contemplated in works, various, endless, and irresistibly attractive. If there be any music in the soul, London is the temple of divinest harmony; there, and there only, the finest singers, and those who touch instruments of music with inspired fingers, may be nightly heard. If there is any fondness for the arts, nowhere in England can that fondness be so fully gratified : the finest works of sculpture and painting, the most ingenious contrivances, and the most beautiful works of genius, are all to be found in London, produced or collected by an industry which seems almost supernatural. If eloquence moves us, in London we may listen to that which is “ almost divine :" the pub lic meeting, the lecture, the courts of law, the churches, and, above all the Senate, exhibit it in forms more perfect and animating than un. aided imagination can have prepared us for, or at least realize the dreams which our acquaintance with the orators of ancient days has given birth to, and display to us, with every overpowering accompa niment, the riches and splendours of human intellect. The very air, like that of Rome, is classical, in spite of the malaria from the eustern marshes : for it was breathed by those whose eloquence, whose wisdom, whose wit, whose patriotism, have adorned and dignified our annals in the successive ages of British history: and as regards interesting relics of antiquity, they lie on every side, disregarded on account of their very multiplicity. Nor is it a small matter to find oneself actually in the same town with — and

-, and men whose names and deeds furnish the remotest provinces with conversation but seem yet obscurely viewed so long as we remain in the country. I walk out, I meet a gentleman in a blue coat and black cravat, with an umbrella under his arm—it is the great Duke of I see another on horseback, it is the Marquis of .: here is Mr.

who shakes the senate with his brilliant and powerful oratory; here a poet, actually alive and walking about among common men: that gentleman in the chariot is a Judge, the next a Bishop, the third a celebrated physician, and the tall gentleman who walks so fast is no less a person than Sir

All this is very astonishing to a country gentleman.

If I am alone in London, I consider myself emancipated from the mechanical regularities of a country life, without thinking it at all necessary to conform to the habits of town; I therefore get up and go to bed when I choose, and in short, for a day or two, do exactly as I please. Being obliged to hurry to distant points in that contiguous world of houses, my way is to walk in all the gentlemanly parts of the town, for in those I always feel a peculiar amplification of my own respectability; whereas, if I walk into the city and come at all near the Exchange, I seem to become a sort of person whom every banker's clerk heartily despises ; and when I have occasionally walked in that inconceivable part of London near Bagnigge Wells, or in the middle of the parish of St. Giles, I have not felt any positive or comfortable conviction of being the same gentleman that I was: in those vicinities, therefore, I shelter myself in a coach, happy, like other men, when I meet with one which does not set me reflecting on cutaneous disorders, or the driver of which puts me in no fear of assassination. As I fly through the streets to accomplish the long journeys which the remote residences of friends always renders necessary, and pay my visits in succession to men whom I remember living out of London, once amiably imprudent and full of human feelings, but who are now all so much alike that it is difficult to distinguish one from another, all asking the same questions, all too much hurried to sit down and be idle and agreeable, all inviting one to dinner, and all, on the refusal, (for I always refuse,) shaking hands, apologizing, and straightway forgetting all that concerns us ;-as I hurry through these visits of duty and ceremony, I every now and then dive into exhibitions and museums, and plunge into bazaars and shops of all descriptions, on all sorts of


trifling and luckily-remembered commissions ; but, of all things, the collections of sculpture and painting, and natural history, detain me most and delight me longest in London. The other day, for instance, I saw the Wapeti, and lingered long near those singularly beautiful, elegant, and engaging animals. A turn to the right brought me before Mr. Haydon's picture of Lazarus : the cant of criticism, if I wished to employ it, is not in my power, and to say the truth, I have a sort of horripilation all over me when a writer or a talker mentions a picture, assuring myself of so much light and shade, tint and colour, expression and effect, grouping and drapery, that I shall be well nigh dead before he has murdered his subject but not the most casual lounger in the room where this picture is exhibited can fail to be struck with that wonderful conception, the face of Lazarus. It is unearthly, but not unnatural ; it is appalling, and yet the eye turns to it again and again ; it is death yet, indeed, but death as no man ever saw it-not death approaching, but death departing: the dark and terrible insensibility of the grave is yielding to the life and light of the upper world; the awful preparation for the perfect dissolution of the corporeal frame is visibly suspended; and the spectator sees at once that the features have been impressed by the hand of death, and that life is restored.

It happened that on the same day I looked in upon the Chapeau de Paille, and the scene presented by the exhibition-room was very amusingly different from that in which Lazarus was shown. I had visited Lazarus in the morning, some half-dozen gentlemen were there, but no man spoke a syllable; the tomb of Lazarus himself was scarcely more silent. I visited Rubens's fair dream at four o'clock, the room was crowded with ladies and gentlemen, and

every body was talking ; the lips of the lovely picture alone were not in motion, although the eyes were eloquent, as if animated by a living soul. I had heard of the faults of this chef-d'æuvre, and recognized them, but for my more intimate acquaintance with the picture I am indebted to a council of fair and loquacious ladies who stood near me ; through whose observations I became fully convinced of all the meaning of the chapeau itself, and became more awake to the defects of the ear and the fingers, and to the indescribably sweet expression of the countenance; above all, I became aware of a fact, not I think before noticed, but yet indisputably true, that the pictured fair is represented with a goitre. In future I shall always attend exhibitions in company with ladies; their perceptions are delicate and acute, and their organs of speech easily acted upon through the agency of the mind: but, on the whole, of this picture of Rubens—this his chef-dæuvre, if so it be-I searcely know what to say: I dare neither confess how much I was pleased with it, nor say all I thought about it: in truth, I am free to confess I know not what to make of it, and shall therefore leave it to the regular critics.

It is a reproach not uncommon in the mouths of foreigners, that an Englishman regulates all the amusements, and even alĩ the employments of the day, by a constant and accurate reference to the hour of dinner. In this respect I confess myself un véritable Anglais, one with whom dinner is a habit, and who in default thereof could never, in any climate, or season, or company, deceive himself by grapes, or chesnuts, into a belief that he had actually and bona fide got any dinner unless the

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