Imatges de pàgina

bridges, which are of Portland stone, or Cornwall granite, were built by private companies ; for, in London, the Government has nothing to do with these public works.

Let us now pass from Waterloo Bridge, through Wellington Street, to the Strand. The Strand is filled with magnificent shops, whicb, though they have not the coquettish elegance of Parisian shops, have an air of singular richness and splendour. The portrait of Queen Victoria is to be seen in every print-shop; sometimes arrayed in jewels and ermined velvet, sometimes simply as a young woman in a domes. tic group with Prince Albert and her children; and, not unfrequently, Her Majesty is so cavalierly treated as to be introduced into bumorous caricatures. Without exaggeration, I may say that the likeness of Queen Victoria is as common in England, as that of Napoleon is in France. The toy-shops engaged my attention, for English playthings seem very serious affairs compared to ours. You see very few trumpets, drums, soldiers, and puppet-shows; but abundance of miniature railroads and steam-boats; the very magic lanterns offer a course of astronomy, or exhibit the planetary system. There are also architectural toys, with which all manner of edifices may be built; and a thousand other geometrical and metaphysical amusements, which would not delight much the infants of Paris.

In going along Charing Cross, you find, at the corner of Trafalgar Place, the house of the Duke of Northumberland, known by a great lion, whose stiff and upright tail produces, though a new, rather a mediocre sculptural effect. It is the lion of the Percys, and never did heraldic lion assume a more fabulous form. In the middle of Trafalgar Place they are about to raise a monument in memory of Nelson; in the mean time, on the boards which surround the space enclosed for it, are pasted gigantic placards, monstrous advertisements of letters six feet long, giving notice of exhibitions, theatricals, &c. &c. The English are rather too absurd about Waterloo and Trafalgar; I know that we are not ourselves exempt from the mapia of christening our streets and bridges by the name of our victories, - but, at least, our nomenclature is somewhat more varied.

The architecture of the houses, or rather the palaces, which form the part of the town inhabited by the richer classes, is extremely grand, though equivocal. Assuredly, the Romans and the Greeks were not so Roman or so Greek as the subjects of Her Britannic Majesty. You walk between two ranks of Parthenons, you see nothing but temples of Vesta and Jupiter-Stator,-and the illusion would be complete, if, between the columns, you did not read such inscriptions as the following :-Gas Company-Life Assurance. The English are rich, active, industrious; they can cast iron, manage steam, invent machines of fearful power; they may even be great poets; but the arts, properly so called, are unattainable by them. They perceive 'this; it irritates them, and hurts their national pride; they feel in their hearts that, notwithstanding their prodigious material civilization, they are only varnished barbarians, Lord Elgin, so violently anathematized by Lord Byron, committed a useless sacrilege. The bas-reliefs of the Parthenon, which were brought to London, have inspired no one. But Protestantism is a religion as fatal to the arts as

Islamism-perhaps more so. Artists must be either Pagans or Catholics. In countries where the churches are only large square chambers, without pictures, without statues, without ornaments of any kind, where gentlemen in well-curled wigs discourse to you seriously about Papist idols and the great Whore of Babylon, art never can attain eminence, for the noblest employment of the sculptor and the painter is to embody the divine symbols of the religion which prevails in his age, and in his country. Phidias sculptured Venus, Raphael painted Madonna, but neither the one nor the other was an Englishman.

The English can achieve all that is useful and comfortable, but they fail in the agreeable and the beautiful. They excel in all that is possible to do with difficulty, and above all they excel in the impossible. They may establish a Bible Society at Pekin, they may reach Tombuctoo in white gloves and polished boots, in a complete state of respectability; they may invent machines to produce six thousand pairs of stockings in one minute, and even discover new countries wherein to dispose of their stockings; but they never will succeed in making a bonnet that a French grisette would put upon her head. If taste could be bought, they would give any money for it: happily, God Almighty has reserved two or three little things in his distribution of the goods of this world, which the gold of the mighty of the earth cannot purchase; namely-genius, beauty, and happiness.

However, notwithstanding these criticisms, the general aspect of London is truly astonishing, and among its greatest charms are its squares and parks. It is much to be desired that squares were the fashion at Paris, where the houses are much too near each other. A square is a place surrounded by houses uniformly built, in the centre of which is a garden enclosed by iron railings, with trees, flourishing plants, and an emerald turf on which the eye reposes with pleasure after being fatigued with the gloomy tint of the houses around, and the skies above. Nothing can be more charming than these delightful enclosures, tranquil, green, and fresh; but, truth to tell, I never saw a living creature within them. The inhabitants of the squares alone possess keys to these gardens, and it is enough for them that. they have the power to close them against every one else.

But you will be wishing all this time to ask me about the living in London; what they eat, what they drink there ; for travellers, in general, are so much occupied in quarrelling about the exact size of a column, or the exact height of some public building, that they forget these every-day matters. The English pretend that they alone know how to live in a healthy, substantial, and abundant manner. This living consists principally of turtle-soup, rump-steak, fish, salted beef, boiled vegetables, rhubarb-pie, and other equally primitive dishes. The dishes are all dressed and served in the plainest manner, but they are not thus eaten. From six to eight little bottles are handed round in a silver frame with Cayenne pepper, anchovy sauce, Harvey sauce, and sauces of I do not know all what Hindoo ingredients, which each guest adds to his taste, and which transform these sample dishes into something very violent to the palate. The porter and the old Scotch ales--which last I like very much-are not at all like our French beer. The porter is nearly as strong as brandy, and the Scotch ale intoxi, cates like Champagne. As to the wines which are drunk in England,

the claret, the port, and the sherry,--they are rum more or less dis


The coffee-rooms do not at all resemble our French cafés. They are gloomy-looking rooms, divided into little cabinets or partitions, like the stalls for horses in stables, and not, like the cafés of Paris, brilliant with mirrors and gilding. Glasses, however, are rare in England; I saw very few mirrors, and these were not large.

The populace of London has the appearance of being more miserable than that of Paris. With us, tire workmen and the males of the lower classes have dresses peculiar to themselves,-coarse, it is true, but which evidently have been always their own; whilst the females, though simply dressed, are always clean and neat. In London, on the contrary, the same style of dress is used by all ranks. The men all wear coats and long pantaloons—the women, bonpets and dresses made like those worn by ladies; so that, at first sight, one is apt to fancy that the people one sees clad in all this tawdry frippery, are of a superior class fallen into distress either by misconduct or reverse of fortune: articles which have originally belonged to a gentleman's wardrobe, may be descried figuring on the back of a scavenger; and the satin bonnet which had once graced the head of a duchess, may be seen, crushed and soiled, furnishing the costume of a charwoman.

Let us now turn to the theatres : I have only visited the French Theatre and the Italian Opera. You will not care to hear about Forgeot and Perlet, I will, therefore, only speak of the Opera. The boxes are ornamented by red damask curtains, which give rather a sombre air to the house, which, besides, is not much lighted, the whole flood of light being reserved for the stage. This arrangement, and the blaze of the gas lamps, admit of almost magical effects. The sun-rise scene, which terminates the ballet of the Gizelle, produces a complete illusion, and does honour to the talent of Mr. Greave. Though the beau-monde had not all come to town, I saw at the Opera some charming female faces, which contrasted admirably with the red curtains. The annuals are more faithful than we are apt to fancy, in pourtraying the elegant forms and faces of the aristocracy. Here were the swimming eyes shaded with long drooping eye-lashes, the long fair ringlets falling in clusters over the polished shoulders and snowy chests that were very generally offered to public admiration ; a mode of dress, by the way, which to us appears little in accordance with English prudery. As to the toilets of the ladies, they have a striking air of eccentricity,-the most showy colours are preferred. In the same box glittered, like the colours reflected by a prism, three ladies, equipped, one in bright yellow, one in scarlet, and one in celestial blue.

Nor are the head-dresses of a very happy taste ; it is universally known that the English put all sorts of things on their heads; gold fringe, branches of coral, boughs of trees, shells, oysters,—their fancy sticks at nothing, especially when they have attained that age which is called l'âge de retour-at which, however, no one wishes to arrive, much less to return to.

I have now, dear Fritz, pretty well related to you what an honest looker-on, who does not speak one word of English, and does not care for the prescribed sights, can see in going through London. It is a very incomplete account; but if I were to give you an exact description of London, one letter would not be sufficient-it would fill volumes.

T. G,

MARSTON'S GERALD, AND OTHER POEMS.* Tue practical philosopher may point to his railroads and his Atlantic steam voyages as the greatest miracles of modern civilization ; he is quite welcome to his self-complacency on this point ; for our parts, we are fain to believe that more of the reality of human progress is to be discovered in our literature : what mighty secrets of being does it not reveal ! how eventful is its history ! how omnipotent is its influence, when compared with that which existed a century ago !- In the last age, few were the facilities, and few the aspirants for the honours of authorship ;-competition in ability was not very formidable to the candidates for literary fame, though their jealousies and bickerings were as virulent as the mediocrity of their talents is now undisputed. “A reading public" had then to be created : as an inducement to mental creation, private patronage was a sorry predecessor of our national popular encouragement; the consequence was, that those writers who gave their productions to the world, have become well known to posterity: they stood alone ; not on account of their intrinsic merits, but because there were then few temptations in literature to provoke rivalry.

Thus it is that Boswell is almost as familiar to us as Shakspeare. Mark the difference of their renown;-one lives with posterity,--the other is merely known to it. Notoriety is too often mistaken for Immortality, by those who imagine that making oneself conspicuous in one age is quite sufficient to insure the applause of the next. In our own day, the chance of an author being known to the generation which succeeds his departure from the world, is a chance indeed. The essentials which can now command a wordly immortality, are of a high and holy order; the rivalry of minds has brought literature to such a state of excellence, that the aspirant for fame may well shrink from the obstacles of greatness which he must outmatch, or be content with an apology for oblivion.

Poetry has struck out its new paths. Coleridge and Wordsworth are the high priests of the present poetical dispensation ; but we cannot conceal from ourselves the belief that the time will ere long arrive, when even their works-the Urim and Thummim through which Genius has declared its oracles—will fade before still higher mental creations destined to appear by the undying law of progress.

* Gerald ; a Dramatic Poem : and other Poems. By.J. Westland Marston, Author of " The Patrician's Daughter, a Tragedy." London: C. Mitchell. 1842. 2mo.

· Among those few aspiring poets who have been deservedly successful in spite of the difficulties in the way of achieving excellence, the author of “Gerald” is entitled to a high and an honourable station. His “ Patrician's DauguTER " proved him to be a poet of no common order; and the work which he has just published, and which it is now our intention to review, is, perhaps, a still higher development of mind than its predecessor. “Gerald" is avowedly a poetical picture, or rather a philosophical interpretation of human every-day life; it is dramatic in its construction, and tragic in its end; it is not, however, intended for the stage, though there are many scenes in it which are full of acting capability. The author's idea of adapting existing times to tragic ends is carried out even more boldly than in “ The PATRIcian's Daughter :" this is what is due, not only to his own perception of a truth, but to the public and the press by which his former promulgation of that truth was so cheeringly applauded. As to the correctness of his theory, we have never entertained any doubt, nor are we aware that it has been impugned with even a shadow of plausibility. except in one instance :-the objection thus entitled to consideration is the one involved in the dogma, that no uge is poetical to itself. This proposition, we should imagine, Mr. Marston would scarcely dispute; for our own part we would even extend its import, and declare that no age is, in its literal and ordinary aspect, poctical to uny other age. All ages are rendered poetical by being viewed through the medium of the Ideal; and the only question at issue is, whether this medium cannot be applied to contemporary life with the same propriety as to the life of antiquity. We contend, that a Poet, in delineating the existing Times, is no more bound to introduce every petty and unpoetical association connected with them, than the painter of modern landscapes is necessitated to represent every brick-kiln and puddle which he may occasionally encounter in his perambulations.

The ground which Mr. Marston assumes, is, that the intuitive taste of the Poet's mind is the only limit to his sphere of operation, and that whatever be the forms in which great and essential principles naturally evolve themselves, those forms are thereby consecrated to poetic uses. In truth, Genius need not wander from the present to find the elements of poetry, the interest of romance, and the best materials in which to embody its powers and to illustrate its most hidden truths.

To the true Poet, the Strand may be as fertile a theme as Parnassus, and the domestic hearth no less instructive than the “ classic Academe.' He need not seek for fictitious interest in “eastern groves,” “haunted castles,” or “ bygone eras,” while his fellow man, bustling through modern life, can furnish him with the subject of a deeper moral, a more eventful history, and purer pathos. He ought to make every incident, however apparently petty, subserve some grand aim: the human heart is the Olympus from which he ought to catch his inspiration, and witness his moral, living panoramas. Let us now examine more minutely how Mr. Marston has fulfilled our idea of what his work ought to be. We think that we cannot better commence our analysis than by giving the reader an insight into the characters of the poem.

There is first, “Gerald” himself,- the type of a Poet whose

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