« PreviousContinue »
rals, or are they so far above his, that is hissed off the stage ; mumping they can afford to laugh and be un- mummery and braggadocio impucontaminated ? I really fear we can dence are the favourite characters, afford to do no such thing with impu, allowed to do any thing, or do nothing, nity. Good-humour and joviality are as long as they can amuse the people the masks the devil wears every day, by pocketing their money with a jerk and in which he is most successful, up and a trick. I have been gravely told, to a certain point. There is a degree that a good, lying, filthy, successful of villany, where the power of assum- newspaper joke against the Tories, is ing those characters is impossible; as good to an editor as a treasury warand that is an awful state. But here rant for a thousand pounds. “What the resources of the devil do not fail serious is we turn to farce.” We are him-he makes in fiction what cannot become the most humorous people, be in reality, sets up his wooden idol, excepting in our caricatures- there unites the incompatibilities, mirth and our humour is very small, indeed, and utmost villany, and deteriorates hu- our wit may run in a curricle with man nature by an example beyond our humour, well matched ponies. human nature. Such had been my Punch had a language of his own-it reflections when I reached home; I is said to be partly obsolete, and that threw myself into a chair, hoping that some of our most ingenious and clever things were not quite so bad, and was writers have been employed in enrichwilling to give up all my conclusion, ing his vocabulary. For this, they when, without troubling my head fur, have sought expressions suited to his ther about the matter, I took up the practices; they have therefore dived newspaper of the day. I was first led into those dens of iniquity where they to notice the Police Reports. I was would be most likely to meet with struck with the coincidence in certain them, and, it must be confessed, they respects between them and the exhibi- have brought back an ample store : tion I had seen. The reporters had They have entered, too, into the very been each severally acting the pecu- mystery and power of the jovial villiar parts of their proprietorship, and lain, and as they have learnt from him dressed up and pulled the strings of the value of covering ill deeds with odd their puppets as they pleased, and put gestures and funny names, it is very what words they liked into their hard to know things by what they are mouths; or, verily, the manners of called ; and slang words, and, if the Punch and his proprietors had infect expression may be allowed, slang aped the whole community, and set off parel, so pass off meretricious morali. justices and culprits to enact buffoon- ty, that half the world take her for real eries, before the scarcely sober world. virtue. Some, in other respects eleI came to this case—and such are to gant writers, seeing the thing become be seen in every day's report: After a sort of fashion, have been bolder many had been fined and punished for still, and not only brought back the drunkenness and general disorderly language from those dens of iniquity, conduct_some first offences, dull dogs but have actually brought the chawho had nothing to say for themselves racters themselves, and made them -a notorious offender is brought up; speak and act pretty much as they do, he has the gift, and in his peculiar perhaps, in real life, occasionally for way uses it ; by a few quaint answers, the purpose of making them more ingets the laugh on his side, and is let teresting, engrafting upon them the off, and with a burlesque virtuous ad- manners of what is called a higher somonition, that reads as if it were ciety, and, that there may be a fair reshortened to save magistracy from the ciprocity,occasionally engrafting upon downright indecency of a horse-laugh. more polished characters the manners, We shall have HB. caricaturing the slang included, of scoundrels and Virtue s holding both her sides," and pickpockets. Punch himself, thereJustice dropping the scales, no longer fore, to keep pace with the fashionable able to stand upright, from indulging world who have taken to his walk, is in risibility at seeing the broad farce obliged to undergo changes. It is to of Humour enacted by Vice. Quit the be hoped they will be for the better, reports, turn to the politics, there too but, it is to be feared, the examples is the stage set up, the puppets work- set him lead to the worse. From this ed, their trickeries exhibited, and with adoption in our modern novels and buffoonery for argument, sober truth fashionable writings of every descrip
tion of this lowest London slang, as it had to entertain a youth just returned may be called in their own style “ the from Eton. He asked him if he had London particular," we may be con- any brothers or sisters. What was sidered at present in a transition state his reply? He “ believed there was a from one great class of ideas to an- chap at home." Now, is it possible other, of which the bounds and limits that this affectation, even if for the are yet undefined. Real morality is a present it be affectation only, should sort of neutral ground, for the present not engender cold blooded selfish. tacitly abandoned, until the new sets ness? A youth, such as I have describof names sball be properly located by ed, has been evidently under a deteri. our new high commissioners. Until orating system of artificial education then, there is great confusion of things I speak of education as not of books and of words. It cannot be expected, only-every thing is education that is therefore, that we should be so shocked said or done by or before the young. as we used to be at either. Our good. He will read slang, and think himself nature is sadly suffering from our sufficiently learned; he will talk slang, good-humour. We prefer laughing and think himself a wit; he will gri. with the facetious rogue, and fall into mace it, and pronounce himself a genhis view of cases that ought to excite tleman ; he will look it, and fancy our better sympathies. And thus we himself independent. He will put it adopt a sort of scorn of virtue; we on him with his very clothes, will eat excuse our lack of charities, by turn- it, drink and smoke it, sleep upon it, ing into ridicule those that should be and wake upon it, till he is little betthe objects of them. You will see one ter than an ape, with worse feelings scrutinize with his glass his father's than an ape-and an ape will he be friend, now old and poor, and not seem to the end of his life, for even his ing under the shabby coat the heart walking upright is artificial, and not of worth and perhaps of extreme suf- as nature intended he should. fering, shall coldly pronounce, as he I said, that were I a woman in the thinks wittily, the slang, that the old lower ranks of life I would make a gentleman is a little “ seedy." It mob, and drive Punch out of the would be better for him if he could streets-were I a woman at all I would construe the lines of the Roman Sa- move my whole sex against the hearttirist.
less gay, the jovial profligate. Their “ Nil habet infelix paupertas durius existence in society is a dishonour to in se.
their own sex, and an insult to the Quam quod ridiculos homines facit." other. The age of chivalry was the There is an assumption of heartless. golden age of virtuous sentiment, in ness in this “ humour" that, it is to be comparison with the cold calculating hoped, for the honour of human na. age that is coming, or well-nigh come ture, has not a corresponding reality upon us. Time was when our youth within. But kind feelings grow kinder at least were generous, and by an inby cultivation, and cold feelings be- nate virtue, the remains of a better come quite benumbed, and benumb- instinct, felt respect for woman as ing all that comes in contact with woman, and acknowledged without them, by being ever kept in this bril. shame the chain that bound them to liant ice. Brilliant, indeed !- it is pay. do her service. They owed allegiance ing it a compliment it little deserves. to the sex as champions of virtue ; Those who, early in life, are ashamed and the more tender were their sentito show feelings, are soon ashamed to ments, they were the more manly. have them, take the lesson they are The general casts of their minds was, taught, and first talk themselves and as happily the poet of a romantic age soon act themselves out of them. I describes his own :have been quite astonished at the tone
“ Naught is there under Heaven's wido and language in which I have of late
hollowness years heard young persons speak of That moves more dear compassion of their parents. Reverence is gone.
mind, The spendthrift son, and the cheated Than Beauty brought t'unworthy wretchold father of the Roman stage, are edness coming up again, emerging stronger By Envy's frowns, or Fortune's freaks than ever into real life. Brothers
unkind and sisters are “ bores." A gentle. I, whether lately through her beauty man not long since told me that he blind,
Or through allegiance, and fast fealty, B. “ I think I should go too cheap, Which I do owe unto all womankind, and one mustn't underrate one's-self." Feel my heart pierced with so great And so away they walked-and agony,
away I walked; they in their conceit, When such I sce, that all for pity I could Iin disgust. Are these men ? thought die !"
Iwere they of woman born."
Have they sisters ? Sisters, oh noThese are beautiful lines—but who that must be impossible. They might will now-a-days read and ackowledge have slandered their mothers—but them ? Nine young men out of every the words “ taken in" could not have ten one meets with would not for a come from one who had sisters to trifle read them, and own their virtue love and to protect. They could not before each other. Our modern poets have been quietly and unblushingly of “ the fashion" have not dared to heard by one who had a sister whose treat of love, as love should be treated pure character was dear to him. Inof, and felt, but have given its name, dignation at the suspicion implied, to cover the deceit, to a silly fancy, that a sister could " take in" any one, and have sought out beauty in an Eas- would have roused in a brother the tern harem, as if they were incapable little remnant of the dormant man of conceiving the real, the noble, and within him. And if the being blessed ennobling passion, that ever brings with a sister only, lovely as the title with it into the mind it enters, ten is, and as the bond is, that name derness, generosity, courage-lifting, confers, shall it be asked if either raising human character, and illumi. of them love even one dearer than nating it with almost angelic bright- sister ? It is impossible! The thought ness. We see little indeed of this is a profanation. If half of our monow. And what do we see in its dern young men were choked in some stead ? Take the following dialogue of their « deuced good feeds," and which took place a short time since the world left to be peopled by the in my presence-A and B, two youths, other half, the ensuing generation ages about twenty-one. Oxford term would not inherit too much goodness. over.
Our modern young gentlemen are A. “ Well, B, glad to see you. but ill plants, grow like cucumbers, Stay long in town ?"
more to belly than head, and have B. “ No, I'm off to-morrow. Go. but little pips for hearts. It was quite ing to hunt in shire. Then go different in my younger days. Who for pheasant-shooting to — Hall would believe it now! but we were Sir P. P.'s—good fellow-gives capis certainly in some way gifted then. tal feeds."
We saw angels—and now one scarcely A. “ I only stay here a week just even hears of them. It was an angel. to see the fun, andam off for Brighton." seeing age; I have myself seen many.
B. “ For Brighton are you? why, I first began to see them about sevenGeorge Sighaway is gone there teen years of age, and that was in the quiz him out of his love. The fool year—but no, there is no occasion to of a fellow is deucedly taken with mention the year, the angels might : some girl there."
not like again to visit me, if I did A. - What is he going to be mar. and I still live in hope. I cannot ried first and japanned after, or japan exactly say how many I saw before I ned first and married next, or take was twenty, but they all struck me as the two black jobs at once ?"
having very beautiful hair-their eyes Here both laughed heartily.
were heavenly ; but if the first sight B. “ No, no! not so bad as that was enchanting, the first touch of the I don't think he's going to marry the little finger of one, thrilled me all girl. He isn't quite such a fool as over, and then I knew and felt it was that."
an angel. What is extraordinary is, A. “ Well, perhaps we shall see that I have seen them of all ages, and you taken in one of these odd days.” up to a certain point, they seemed to
B. “ No objection, if you can but advance in age as I did, and after tell me of a good spec-not less than that, to grow somewhat younger. I twenty thousand."
have seen them in cities, and towns, A. " I suppose you'll take a in villages, in the country, in theatres, • Byron Beauty' with fifteen?"
at concerts, in churches, and chapels; VOL. XLV. NO. CCLXXX.
and some few, some very few at balls, upon which it might throw its air of private and public ; yet at balls I reality. Such substance was not long have seen many that at the first glance wanting. As Adelaide -- was had an angel look, particularly those stepping out of the carriage, the vague in cerulean blue, as they stood up in image upon my mind was caught in those days in the long country-dance, her person; and ere a week had pass. but their mothers mostly sat behind ed, she was the established idol of my them, and seemed to disenchant them heart. All the cerulean virtues of by resemblance, and you could then my former love were still there, em. see right through the seeming angels bodied anew-the charm was transferto the mothers in perspective. Those red. The image that before possessed were happy days-sorry am I to say me did not become faint, but was ab. I have not seen one for some years; solutely absorbed in the other. Never sorry, and ashamed too, for were I was I under stronger enchantment : worthy, they would perhaps some- by degrees even the little differences times give a glimpse of their persons. between her manners and Julia's Their persons-it was then not the (which had at first occasionally least extraordinary thing that we shocked me) became additional beau. angel-seers could read their minds— ties and merits. Julia was all softness, and it was the very first conception the gentlest of creatures, and as she we ever had of the wonderful power turned her blue eyes upwards, I could of all the virtues united-united in fancy that she was communing with one angelic form_not one left out. her native skies. Adelaide was rather The sight did infinite good to the brusque; I thought her, therefore, youth of that generation ; that angels more free, and of a superior order. of the very same kind still walk the In all respects I took her for an angel earth cannot be doubted, but the gift of the first quality. But I was deof discerning them is removed.
ceived. It was the radiance of my Philosophers tell us that vision re. first love which would no longer be mains active after the removal of the expended on the desert air, and had object--that is, we fancy we see what illumined an earthly object. And we do not see. It cannot be denied how did I discover this? Was she less that this occasionally took place in beautiful ? Quite the reverse ; more the gifted. The last angel left a lovely features were seldom to be something upon the vision which was scen, such brilliant eyes, such ringlets, imparted to a new object, and the whose very tangles were love-nets, seers even fancied those angels that and whiter or more even teeth I never were none. I remember well an in- beheld! Yet I did discover my error, cident of this kind that happened to and as follows. We were much myself—being then under twenty-one thrown together-one day we were years of age, I had been conversant to ride to view a ruined castle at long enough with one of those won- some distance- Adelaide liked spirited derful creatures to excite the suspi. horses—1, therefore, put her upon my cions of my parents, who wished for bay mare. The creature had no vice, no angels in their family, and had no and was just what she described as notion of their son's building castles most to her liking. We proceeded in the air. I was therefore consigned leisurely at first; Adelaide became deto a relative at a great distance, with sirous to have a canter; I did not whom I resided some months. I was think her seat remarkably good ; but under a promise not to correspond had never questioned inability for any with my beloved, and they were un- thing in such a being. The bay mare der promise that if, at the end of a was hot, the canter became a gallop, twelvemonth, I was in the same mind, I tried to keep near, fearing an acci. they would no longer oppose my dent. This made the matter worse. wishes. Away I went with a heavy I saw her become unsteady in her heart, and the angelic vision ever pre- seat; she caught hold of the mane and sent. After I had been with my re. leaned forward ; the mare threw up lations a few week, in a delightful her head, and I heard a cry for help. country of hills and plains, rivers and I forced my horse on, and was at the woods, some visitors arrived at the moment of seizing the mare by the house, and I must confess that the bridle when—what did I see? What vision daily became rather faint, and horrible mischief, what irreparable seemed to require some substance damage bad I, as I rapidly thoniglit, caused ? I was Beauty's murderer. I and arms, heraldic and otherwise, are saw the beautiful ringlets torn from her united, but souls too are united, we head, and, oh, the horror of the sight! have not a dozen pages in literature, Her teeth and the whole jaw hanging after Homer, that give us any notion out of her mouth. It was terrible. In of it. Meagre, indeed, are the accounts despair I threw myself before the of our Portias and Arrias, with their mare and stopped her, when Adelaide Pætuses and Brutuses, of whom our Sir slid down from the saddle. I stood John Brutes are no descendants. I aghast, looking at her face, when sud say, since Homer, for he does all things denly, with a jerk and a snap, in went well, and tells us the truth, the whole jaw and teeth, and all was right again; truth, and nothing but the truth ; and and, giving me a cuff on the ear, she we have lovely portraits of Androexclaimed in rather a shrill voice, mache with her Hector and Astyanax “ What the divil are you staring at, Land of the ever-loving and chaste you fool ?" I was suddenly disen. Penelope, whose suitors, by the bye, chanted. The lost vision of Julia re may very much resemble our modern turned to me. We rode home some. young men, for they did not care three what silently. I gained my Julia, farthings about Penelope for Peneand Adelaide lost me and two fine lope's sake, but had “ deuced good ringlets, which she probably thought feeds,” and intrigued with the maid. would as soon take root in the ground servants. And Helen— there is a bisas upon her head, and did not deign tory beyond courtship! It was a perto pick up. I had seen ruin enough petual courtship by her devoted goodwithout proceeding to that of the man Menelaus, who never ceased runcastle.
ning after her, when Paris had run It is said we are progressing daily away with her, and against her contowards perfection. Our speed may sent, by the bye—all the wickedness of be too great to allow us to stop and the thing was Venus's doing. We do look; or for any thing besides “ deuced not lose our interest for Helen, though good feeds," "shares," and " good she had been married, and run away specs." The age takes that turn with after. She is still the very aniand so words change their meaning. mating soul and beauty of the “ Tale The “ golden age" in one sense is not of Troy divine.” So wonderful was the “golden age” in another. Our she, that Æschylus, who takes us into most romantic writers, that would fain Menelaus's palace, shows us the befollow “ the course of true love,” as wildered husband walking his deserted far as they find it navigable, would as halls, feeding his love only by a look at soon think of endeavouring to discover her many statues. That, too, must the source of the Niger, as to sail their have been the age of angel seeing; or little frail-boats a mile beyond Matri. Priam and his old counsellors would mony Point-as ifitthere terminated in never have paid her the worship they a huge swamp. Where is the true loyal did. And no one speaks ill of her but historian of the sweet passion, who shall herself --Muwe 8 slui—which, translatfaithfully delineate all the home ten. ed, is nothing more than calling herself dernesses, and show the sunlit play of a femaledog --whateverybody now calls the perennial fountain in the ever- every body from unsweet lips. Still blooming garden of wedded love, whose there must be in life some evil examples infants are endearing cupids, such as -and, accordingly, we find them in Bartolozzi drew and painted in a fleshy Homer. Clytemnestra had a strong red, as patterns for connubial bliss arm-no more need be said. His very He never told their parentage. They gods had their differences of opinion, were so innocent they must have been but still Jupiter was Jupiter, and Juno, the progeny of the angels ; or, more Juno-and they made up their miffs, and probably, of some of Angelica Kauff- had undoubtedly a very fine family. man's pairs. Modern historians of the The Greeks had magnificent and tenpassion stop short at the most interest. der women and how they loved ing point, when examples would be them! Yet was their love nothing to really servicable; and there we are, the love the women bore them. Look obliged to embark upon a perilous sea, at Medea; her history, too, is post-conwithout star, unless they be evil stars, nubial-she murdered her own chiland with no compass at all. Great as dren rather than see them under a stepthe state of wedded happiness must, in mother. And dear Alcestis-and the most cases, be, when not only hands beautiful tale-the loveliest, the most