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beautiful Ephesian matron.". "The lady of whom I speak," said the general, "has been known to me from my earliest years; she is now nearly eighty years of age, and, when I was a mere boy, she was a beautiful and admired woman. She was an heiress and an orphan, and at about the age of twenty, was situated near that of my father, in this county. I can remember, when at home for the holidays, being taken to visit at Shirley Park, and never have I seen any living creature so beautiful as was then Lady Shirley, and I have heard my father say that he never witnessed a union which seemed to afford such perfect happiness. Her whole idea of earthly felicity seemed centred in her husband; his wish was a law; his sentiments became hers; she formed her character on the model of his, and the result was as perfect domestic bliss, and as perfect excellence of conduct, as are to be attained by mortals in this world of error. But this was not to last; a fever, brought on by overfatigue, and cold taken after a day of riding, terminated the life of Sir Robert, eight years after his marriage, and he left his wife, at the age of about eight-and-twenty, possessed of perfect beauty, a splendid fortune at her own disposal, and the reputation of having made her husband the happiest man in the county. For one month after his death she was seen by no one; the answer to all inquiries was that she was not dangerously ill, but too unwell to receive the visits even of her most intimate friends. At the end of that period she again appeared, but how changed!-it seemed that the events of a few weeks had done the work of years. Beautiful she still was, though in grief, and beautiful she is even now in old age; neither sorrow nor time can destroy the perfect symmetry of her form, and the matchless harmony of her features; but the face was no longer radiant with happiness, the eyes no longer sparkled in the

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light and sunshine of her felicity; the smile of welcome was no more; no more did she advance with light and joyous step to meet those who loved her and wished her well, but she stood like a monumental figure on the tomb of the dead, as pale, as cold, and almost as lifeless. spoke not of her feelings herself, but she did not avoid the subject when introduced by another. At the mention of her husband, a slight convulsive spasm, passing across her face, showed how her heart vibrated to the name; but hers was not the grief to find relief in words, and those who came with the wish to console her found that the greatest kindness they could show her was to be silent. There was no parade or affectation of any sort about her, and none was shown in her mourning garb, or in the time of wearing it. She wore the dress of a widow as long, and no longer, than is usual, and when she discontinued it, her appearance was, as it had ever been, marked by simplicity and elegance, without show or splendor. At this period she was surrounded by lovers; few women, I should think, have ever had more, or more advantageous offers, than she received. She might have added riches to her own wealth, and exchanged her own title for some that ranked high in the peerage, but to all her answer was the same-polite, but decisive; every one felt that it was final, and, though disappointed, few were offended. One of her admirers, the Nimrod of the county, a man of rough manners and exuberant spirits, was rallied at a public dinner on his dismissal by the beautiful widow, and advised not to give up the chase so easily, and reminded of his own frequentlygiven opinion on the stability of woman, but he emphatically declared that such calm determination, with such unaffected sweetness and gentleness of manner, he had never before witnessed; that the man must be worse than a savage who

could give her a moment's uneasiness by persevering in a suit that she had declared fruitless, and that if he knew any one who did so, he would willingly horsewhip him with his own hand.

"Her resolution to remain single became generally known, and she was freed from the annoyance of lovers, but she converted them into friends, who would have died to serve her, and admirers and venerators of her consistent and excellent character.

"She has now passed rather more than fifty years in her state of widowhood, and has never been twenty miles from her own house in all that time she spends her noble for tune entirely in acts of beneficence, friendship, and charity. You will not hear of her at Bible-meetings, but it is not her fault if any cottager, within ten miles of her estate, has not a Bible in his possession: you will not see her name enrolled in the list of subscribers to Missionary Societies; but she throws all around her, and on all who are within the sphere of her influence, the light of Christianity, while in her own conduct and character she holds forth a brilliant example of all that a christian ought to be.

"All the power over others that she derives from her wealth, her rank, and her understanding, has been ever uniformly exerted to promote the cause of religion and virtue she has established extensive schools in her neighborhood, and

she has settled considerable stipends on more than one worthy and pious clergyman, who visit the cottages for miles around, and while, with no sparing hand, they distribute the liberal bounty of their benefactress, inform the ignorance, reprove the vices, and encourage the virtues, they meet with. She reads a great deal, and mostly, perhaps now exclusively, books of devotion; but she enters into no controversial reading or deep discussion she believes in the truths of the Gospel as firmly as she believes in her own existence, or in the presence of the sun when he gives her light and warmth; but she leaves nice points of doctrine to those who have had more opportunity to make them their study, and satisfies herself with endeavoring, as far as it is possible, to conform to the rules and practise the precepts of her divine master. If you are so disposed, we will ride over some morning and call on her; the park is not more than a morning's drive from hence, and my brother, who lives within a mile of her, will give us a dinner and a bed."

[We find our limits will not permit us to copy the writer's account of this interesting visit. For the gratification of the reader whose admiration has been excited by the preceding sketch, we will however mention that the personal interview confirmed the visiter in his belief of all that had been said respecting the excellent character of the kind and venerable widow Shirley.]

MODERN BIOGRAPHY.

THE Public is a monster. We are afraid that is all that can be said upon the subject. But the monster must be fed. Anecdotes, private histories, biographies of the weak, the wicked, the merry, or the wise, are its favorite food; and it will find feeders as long as there are those who can make pence or popularity by the office; and food, as long as there are noble lords, or

fallen statesmen, royal dukes, or clever actresses, in the world. A part of this is according to a law of nature-and must therefore be submitted to as to any other necessity. But a part of it belongs to that law by which a man sometimes thinks himself entitled to make money in any mode that he can; a law which we punish in the case of highwaymen, the keepers of Faro-banks,

quacks, and impostors of all kinds. The quocunque modo rem has been the code of those active classes from time immemorial, and they have been hanged, dungeoned, and banished accordingly. We by no means desire to see the Biographical School extinguished, though unquestionably its prevalence in the present day must make many an honest man shiver at the thought of what is to become of him, when he falls into the hands of his friends a week or two after he has lost the power of bringing an action for defamation in this world. What is life good for, unless it be an easy life? and what life can be easy while a man is perfectly convinced that some literary undertaker is waiting only for the moment the breath is out of his body to pounce upon his "Remains ; run away with his "Recollections; " and by advertising his "Life," the dearer part of him, his reputation, justify a regret that the sufferer had not adopted the anticipatory justice of taking his? The whole process tends to the treason against human nature, of giving an additional care to the catalogue of human cares. All life is at best but a field of battle, and what soldier goes into the battle more cheerfully by knowing that he has, in the rear of the line, a suttler who follows him with no

other purpose than to make the most of him when he is down, to strip him of coat and waistcoat, and sell everything saleable about him to the best bidder? The crime is one clearly of lèse majesté, and we must so far denounce it as worthy of the severest penalties of Parnassus. But this anecdote trade does more than torment the easy part of mankind. It maddens the ambitious. The whole tribe of those living nuisances, the wits by profession, the "enliveners," the "embellishers," the laborious students of the art of shining, the inveterate getters-by-heart of accidental good things, the whole preparedimpromptu, dull-brilliant, and painstaking idle race, who flourish through literary dinners, and are announced as the lamps and lustres of conversaziones, are absolutely encouraged in their pernicious practices by the belief that somebody or other may yet embalm them in a biography; that even at the moment of delivering his most obsolete absurdity, some man of the "ever-pointed pencil and asses' skin" may be gleaning their words; that their "Life and Sayings" may be already half way through the press, and that they may live in three octavo volumes with all their bons-mots in full verdure round them at the first blush of the “publishing season."

ROBINSON CRUSOE.

IF Defoe be comparatively unknown as a politician, as a novelist and writer of fiction he has the rare merit of having witched all Europe. His inimitable" Robinson Crusoe " has been translated into every continental language, and has even kindled the enthusiam of the Arabs, as they listened outside their tents to its incidents, rendered into the vernacular by the skill of the traveller Burkhardt. By more discriminating and fastidious judges it has been equally well received. It warmed the unsocial heart of Rous

seau, and taught him to feel that there were other things in nature worthy consideration besides himself; relaxed the cynical frown of Johnson; delighted Blair and Beattie; and in our own days has recieved the unqualified commendation of such men as Scott, Lamb, and Hazlitt. Public opinion, split into a thousand nice distinctions on other literary topics, has been unanimous on the subject of "Robinson Crusoe." It has received the suffrages and interested the feelings of all ages and grades in socie

ty, of the school-boy and the man, of the peer and the peasant. The reason of this is obvious. Crusoe is nature herself speaking in her own language on her own most favorite and intelligible topics. Art is no where present, she is discarded for matters of higher and more general interest. While the poet and the scholar appeal to the select few, Defoe throws himself abroad on the sympathies of the world. His subject, he feels, will bear him out; the strongest instincts of humanity will plead trumpet-tongued in his favor. Despite the extraordinary moral and intellectual changes that a new fashion of society, a new mode of writing and thinking, have wrought in England, "Robinson Crusoe "still retains (though partially dimmed) his reputation, and the reader who can unmoved peruse his adventures, may assure himself that the fault of such indifference lies with him; Defoe is wholly guiltless.

For ourselves, the bare recollection of this tale brings before our minds sympathies long since resigned, and which otherwise might be altogether forgotten. We remember, as though it were an event of yesterday, our first perusal of "Robinson Crusoe." We remember the sloping green in front of the grey abbey wall, where we sate thrilled with wonder and a vague sense of horror, at the print of the unknown savage's feet on the deserted island, which the solitary mariner discovered in one of his early wanderings. We remember the strong social sympathies that sprung up within us—the birth, as it were, of a new and better existence as we read how from being utterly desolate, Robinson Crusoe gradually found himself the companion of one or two associates, rude indeed, and uncultivated, but men like himself, and therefore the fittest mates of his solitude. We remember (and how few tales beloved in boyhood can bear the severe scrutiny of the 54 Atheneum, VOL. 5, 3d series,

man!) the generous warmth with which he entered into the feelings of the sailor, as he saw his little colony-including the goats, who were grown so tame that they would approach at his call and suffer him to penn them at night in their fold-gradually augmenting round him, and at last springing up into a limited monarchy, of which he was the head. We remember too-for no gratification is without its alloy-we remember the acute regret we experienced when feuds and ambitious feelings began to spring up within the bosom of that colony, where Astræa, driven from all other parts of earth, should have taken up her abode, and Peace sate throned as on a sepulchre. Will it be believed that this tale, so perfect in its descriptions-so affecting in its simplicity-so entirely and incorruptibly natural-was refused by almost every bookseller in the metropolis? Yet strange as it may seem, this was actually the fact. "Robinson Crusoe was hawked about through the trade as a work of neither mark nor livelihood, and at last accepted, as a proof of especial condescension, by an obsctire retail bookseller. It is singular, but not less true-and we leave our readers to draw their own inference from the fact that almost every book of any pretensions to originality has been similarly neglected.

Paradise Lost" with difficulty found a publisher, while the whole trade vied with each other in their eagerness to procure the works of such dull mechanical writers as Blackmore and Glover; "Gulliver's Travels" lay ten years in MS, for want of due encouragement from the booksellers; and in our own times, and in a lighter branch of literature, the "Miseries of Human Life," and the still more ingenious "Rejected Addresses," were refused by the trade with indifference, if not contempt. To crown the list of works thus misunderstood, Sir W. Scott has left it on record

quacks, and impostors of all kinds. The quocunque modo rem has been the code of those active classes from time immemorial, and they have been hanged, dungeoned, and banished accordingly. We by no means desire to see the Biographical School extinguished, though unquestionably its prevalence in the present day must make many an honest man shiver at the thought of what is to become of him, when he falls into the hands of his friends a week or two after he has lost the power of bringing an action for defamation in this world. What is life good for, unless it be an easy life? and what life can be easy while a man is perfectly convinced that some literary undertaker is waiting only for the moment the breath is out of his body to pounce

upon his " Remains; run away with his "Recollections ;" and by advertising his "Life," the dearer part of him, his reputation, justify a regret that the sufferer had not adopted the anticipatory justice of taking his? The whole process tends to the treason against human nature, of giving an additional care to the catalogue of human cares. All life is at best but a field of battle, and what soldier goes into the battle more cheerfully by knowing that he has, in the rear of the line, a suttler who follows him with no

other purpose than to make the most of him when he is down, to strip him of coat and waistcoat, and sell everything saleable about him to the best bidder? The crime is one clearly of lèse majesté, and we must so far denounce it as worthy of the severest penalties of Parnassus. But this anecdote trade does more than torment the easy part of mankind. It maddens the ambitious. The whole tribe of those living nuisances, the wits by profession, the "enliveners," the "embellishers," the laborious students of the art of shining, the inveterate getters-by-heart of accidental good things, the whole preparedimpromptu, dull-brilliant, and painstaking idle race, who flourish through literary dinners, and are announced as the lamps and lustres of conversaziones, are absolutely encouraged in their pernicious practices by the belief that somebody or other may yet embalm them in a biography; that even at the moment of delivering his most obsolete absurdity, some man of the "ever-pointed pencil and asses' skin" may be gleaning their words; that their "Life and Sayings" may be already half way through the press, and that they may live in three octavo volumes with all their bons-mots in full verdure round them at the first blush of the " publishing season.

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ROBINSON CRUSOE.

Ir Defoe be comparatively unknown as a politician, as a novelist and writer of fiction he has the rare merit of having witched all Europe. His inimitable "Robinson Crusoe" has been translated into every continental language, and has even kindled the enthusiam of the Arabs, as they listened outside their tents to its incidents, rendered into the vernacular by the skill of the traveller Burkhardt. By more discriminating and fastidious judges it has been equally well received. It warmed the unsocial heart of Rous

seau, and taught him to feel that there were other things in nature worthy consideration besides himself; relaxed the cynical frown of Johnson; delighted Blair and Beattie; and in our own days has recieved the unqualified commendation of such men as Scott, Lamb, and Hazlitt. Public opinion, split into a thousand nice distinctions on other literary topics, has been unanimous on the subject of "Robinson Crusoe." It has received the suffrages and interested the feelings of all ages and grades in socie

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