« PreviousContinue »
rent speaker, though he was put at the head of a party, and had been Lord Chancellor of Ireland. Perhaps he was worn out at this time, though not sixty; for his knowledge was scanty, his ideas were few, and he always treated a subject in a strangely narrow and detached manner, as if his whole ambition was confined to a few epigrammatic remarks.
"Francis Horner was a rising speaker, when he was taken off in the flower of his age. He was calm, rational, strong, and so argumentative and clear, as to fix the attention, and carry with him very frequently the conviction of a part of his audience against their will; yet he never rose to eloquence, and had always something of a professional manner.
"The manner of Wilberforce had a little too much of the pulpit. His voice was weak and shrill; and his person extremely unfavourable. But he had the prudence to speak seldom except on great topics, on which his opinions and arguments were, from the habits of his life, extremely desirable to be known by the public.
"Old George Rose spoke in a gossiping, garrulous manner, and never had the good luck to carry much weight with him; while his knowledge of details was always suspected of some party purpose.
"Tierney made his way by a fund of subtle humour and drollery peculiar to himself, which caused him to be listened to, not only without fatigue, but with eagerness and pleasure.
"The tone of Brougham's oratory is still in such daily exercise, that it is unnecessary to particularize it. It is often powerful, sometimes irresistible; but sometimes deals too much in exaggeration, and sometimes in verbiage. Its sarcasm and irony is not easily withstood. The accentuation is something peculiar, half Westmoreland and half Scotch; and he never loses the tone, expressions, and air of an advocate.
"Sir James Mackintosh's matter and language are admirable; but his voice is weak and unmusical, and his pronunciation retains a great deal of his Scotch birth.
and with an extraordinary appearance of gentlemanly and honourable feeling.
"Peel is a clear, well-arranged, intelligent, and able speaker on points of bu siness; but his voice is a little affected, and almost always tends to a whine.
"The present Chancellor of the Exchequer did not, at the time of which I am speaking, hold this important office. He then spoke seldom; but when he did rise, he always spoke with liveliness, talent, vigour, knowledge, and sound sense,
"It is said that lawyers make bad speakers in Parliament; yet it must be observed, that most of the persons here named were brought up to the bar.
"While I sat in this House, I made great efforts to amend the Poor Laws; nor did I take less pains to get the cruel and unjust provisions of the Copy-right Act altered. I was not successful; but in both cases I had powerful and overwhelming parties to contend with. In the first, all the manufacturing towns, and all towns; in the second, the universities of the three kingdoms, and all their members. Now, when I contemplate the subject coolly, I wonder that I made the little progress which I did. I was in my fiftieth year when I took my seat, and this is much too late to indulge the hope of becoming a parliamentary speaker of any power. I did my best; but I rose very seldom, for my nerves were not strong enough to enable me to retain my selfpossession, and bring together my ideas with sufficient strength and clearness to do justice to them. I have no reason to complain of want of candour here, for I was treated with quite as much candour as I deserved. Indeed, had 1 had as fair usage in the rest of my days as in Parliament, I should be unjust to be discontented with mankind, or with my lot in life. The gloom and plaintiveness of which I am accused would never then have been the inmates of my bosom, I witnessed slights, and jealousies, and rudenesses, even there; but such are the inevitable attendants of our human lot.
"There is much fatigue in attending strictly the multitudinous business of the House; and the late debates, prolonged till long after midnight, are often very wearisome; and the return home through the night-air, when the House, which is not large enough to hold conveniently all its members, has been crowded and hot, is very trying to the health.
"To encounter many things that depress, and many that disgust, is no more than must happen to us all, however we occupy ourselves. It is the same in private business, in literature, in pleasures; -everywhere intrigue, envy, jealousy, selfishness, corruption; everywhere combination and faction; everywhere quackery and charlatanism; everywhere pretension:-Nowhere simple strength and But they who have not solid merit. boroughs must engage in popular elections; and what fortune is secure against the costs of popular elections? Who are
fitted for the solicitude, the suppleness, the caprices, the insults, of a popular canvass? It is said, that men of genius and high abilities do not make men of business; this is true of the details; but in a legislative assembly, men of genius and originating minds ought to be intermixed in their due proportions. It is true, that government may not want such minds among them: they merely
want a silent vote, and do not choose the interference or management of any measures but their own. It has been remarked, that no one can do anything in Parliament individually, and unconnected with the movements and technical arrangements of a party; what is done can only be carried, even through the early stages, by combination,and parliamentary tactics are as necessary as the tactics of war. Inexperienced members get up, and make motions, and are led on by sanguine hope; but zeal, energy, and exertion, waste away with time; speakers of a subordinate power or success, who have commenced busily, gradually languish, and then lapse into silence. There are men who have sat in many Parliaments, and gone through the routine with such silent mechanism, that their very persons are scarcely known to ten meinbers of the House. I have seen men come into committee-rooms, with whom others sitting on the committees have sat for ten years, yet on their entry have not recognized them to be members. For my part, though I knew the persons of a large part of the House, still there were many whom I did not know.
that I was out of the way of that most painful and harrowing question."
The peculiar character of the author's mind shines out again rather amusingly in the following brief notice of a modern work, which he fairly tells us he had not read through at the time when he thought it necessary to indite his criticism. There is infinite simplicity of expression and great truth of feeling in the passage.
"I have for some time, nearly I believe, for two years, lost the habit or power of reading, which was a grand passion of my life; but on Saturday I accidentally took up a book lying on the table, which had been obtained from one of the libraries at Geneva, entitled The Trials of Margaret Lyndsay. I have read it about half through; and though the grand test is yet to come in the manner of conducting the other half, so far I have been very much affected and enchanted by it. It is written, I presume, by a Scotch poet of some celebrity; but I am six years behind in the incidents of British literature, for a few English books only reach us at this distance. It at any rate could not be written by any one but a true poet; for all its descriptions are genuine poetry of a high cast. It is one of those few happy productions which has left a thrill upon one's frame, that seems to change one's nature, and give new has a decided originality; perhaps it has lights to the face of things around one. It more elegance and gentle tenderness than force; and I am afraid that it now and then a little approaches to affectation in a few of its sentiments, and a sort of overlabour of pious reflection; but what delicacy of the descriptions, which are at touches me is the exquisite and tender the same time rich and brilliant; and a sweetness of moral pathos in many passages, which does not outstep nature, but enchains the reader by its deep simplicithose emerging from crowded streets, so ty. The delight of the suburban walks to beautifully touched by Milton, in the passage beginning
"How many have since gone to their graves, and several with whom I had daily intercourse; how many have withdrawn from Parliament, and betaken themselves to the shades of retirement, from the busy scenes where we used to forget, in the pressure of public business, our private cares and anxieties; where the day still brought with it some new excitement, and wholesome fatigue brought on the sound sleep from which we rose refreshed on the morrow! To deep sorrow, and the constant presence of the ghost of past injustice, how pleasant is the distraction of the images of crowded cities, and gentle occupation!
"The Parliament which succeeded that in which I sat only lived a year, and then was dissolved by the King's death, in the spring of 1820. I was then at Florence, confined to a sofa, and I believe dangerously ill. During all the proceedings about the Queen, which took place soon afterwards, I was at Naples. I was glad
'As one, who long in populous city pent,' &c. is dwelt upon by the present author with a brilliance of inventive fidelity which is at once new and perfect. The visit to the native cottages of Braehead from the narrow lane and gloomy court,' (see chapters xiv. and xv. &c.) will continue to be read by readers of sensibility and taste while the language lasts. There is no charm so thrilling, so profound and permanent, as the embodying these pure
and native images in association, with such virtuous and simple impressions of the heart and mind; it is one of the offices in which genius is most usefully and appropriately employed. I suppose that this work is stealing its silent way into eternity; for if it is finished as it is begun, it deserves it; but it shows how noiseless' true merit often is."
This is not a case in point-the volume thus eulogized having been much spoken of, and, from the first, very popular.
We shall now conclude with a passage which, if we could think we had said one unjust word in this paper, would make us blush as we transcribed it. We think there is a truth, a pathos, and a measured and even stately elegance about the last of the paragraphs we are about to quote, that cannot fail to conciliate every one who has a heart to be moved.
ing. Age has made me calm, and somewhat more resolute, and regardless of ungenerous or ignorant censure. First or last, what is true and just will find its due place; and if it be not so, no praise or flattery will long keep it afloat. Let it be that I over-estimate myself,-I injure no one but myself.
"If all those energies which still continue to burn on the verge of sixty-two are ill-directed and useless,-if they are a vapoury flame which produces neither warmth nor light, but glimmers, and flashes, and struggles, like wet fuel on a cold hearth, surrounded by damps and blights, the cost of toil and strength is all to me, the annoyance nothing to others.
"I consider that the world has not been kind to me; and I do not bear it with the surly stern pride of Lord Byron. During my six years' absence on the Continent I have reason to believe that I have been sometimes treated with unprovoked disrespect by the hireling part of the press. I do not deserve it of them. They who live by literature owe me something. To me they owe the extension of their property in their labours to the end of their lives, if they survive the term of twenty-eight years; and this is surely in many cases a boon. I myself have already survived that term eleven years in my first publication; and in Mary de Clifford I have survived it four years. The late Mrs Elizabeth Carter survived her earliest publication sixty-seven years; so that in her case it would have extended her right the addition of thirty-nine years. I worked hard, and should (as most of the intelligent members of that Parliament will allow) have carried my point for the amendment of the Copy-right Act, in defiance of all the weight of the universities, had I not been cut short by the dissolution of the Parliament in June 1818. The professional part of the press, therefore, ought to spare me unmerited slights. But they may go on, if it answer their purpose in filling a piquant article, when they have a task to perform before they can receive their daily pay; or when they can gratify the enmity to
wards me of some one who can be of use to them, and whose smiles they are court
"When I look back beyond the six years I have passed out of England, it seems a long and countless age, and the distance so great, that I can scarcely see distinctly the point whence I set out. I can never seriously and assuredly persuade myself that I shall see my native country again : perhaps my bones may rest there,-not as Lord Byron's have done, covered with glory, and intensely wept over by an awestruck and idolizing people; but silently, frown of that beetling and immortal cliff and without notice, landed beneath the pictured by Shakspeare, and borne in humble obscurity a few short miles to the rustic church of the wooded hill, which is separated but a few paces from the neglected chamber where the light of this world first beamed upon me. I do not remember that I have visited that chamber for forty years; and it is almost as long since I slept in the house. If I reach England once more, probably I shall never have spirits to look upon those scenes again.'
We earnestly wish Sir Egerton Brydges would be persuaded to write his own life. If he would in so far alter his old plan, as not to print everything, merely because he had once penned it, leave out all apologies for headaches, consider the theory of poetic art in general as already sufficiently discussed, and, in short, confine himself to what he has actually seen, heard, and felt, of the affairs of this world, (literary affairs included,) and their influence,-we can have no doubt that, with the opportunities he has enjoyed, and the talents he possesses, the vox populi itself would be the first and the loudest to welcome him.
This little story appears to us to be by far the best of Sir Egerton's writings. It is quite forgotten, and really deserves to be reprinted.
TREMAINE. A NOVEL. *
Ir so happened that we opened this book with every disposition to be dis gusted with it. It had been puffed off in all the newspapers as the avowed work of the Right Hon. Richard Ryder; and after continuing to be so for a length of time, that renders it impossible to doubt the publisher's connivance at least, it was openly disavowed by Mr Ryder himself, under his own hand, and that in a style so broad and distinct, as to leave no sort of doubt, taking all the circumstances into view, that the whole story had been, from the beginning, a wilful lie. On opening the work itself again, we were disgusted, in limine, with an elaborately silly puff, in the shape of an editor's preface. No wonder that these things prepared one to play any part rather than that of the Lector Benevolus.
So much the higher, certainly, is the compliment which we now pay this work, in saying, as we do, without he sitation, that it has pleased us more than almost any one of the same class that has appeared of late years. It is manifestly the production of one who unites in himself the characters of the scholar, the gentleman, and the Christian. Throughout, it is written in easy and unaffected English-in many parts with admirable elegance-here and there with the felicity of genius itself. It is evidently the work of a highlyrefined mind, and does not charm the less because it may be suspected to be that of an unpractised hand. The tendency of the story is excellent; the talent shown in many points of its management is great; and in this matter also, as well as in the style, it is impossible not to recognize occasional touches of that superior power which men reverence under the name of genius; because it, and it alone, takes possession of those that contemplate its energies, and fills and inspires them for the time, whatever of themselves they may be, with the actual presence and enjoyment of a state of mind that is felt always while it lasts, and often after it is gone, to belong, as it were, to the beings of another sphere.
Of this power, this work contains
something that alone is sufficient to distinguish it entirely from the mass of new publications in the same at present ultra-popular department of literature; and, taken together with the merits of its admirable moral purpose and tendency throughout, to entitle it of reading. to be read by all who are in the habit
accordingly, we cannot doubt; and That it will be most extensively read there is the less occasion for us to occupy much space with it here. And indeed we should scarcely have thought already done, but for a strong feeling it necessary to do more than we have which we have that the impudent quackery of others must have excited a very general prejudice against Tremaine; in other and plainer words, has, a severe struggle to maintain our knowledge that it has had, and still against an almost universal notion of its being nothing more than one of Mr portance"-a notion which we are Colburn's "Works of the first Imsorry to see some of our contemporaries, the critics, have been idle and base enough to do their best to confirm and establish.
may be described in few words. TreThe scope and design of the book fects of want of regular occupation and maine is intended to represent the efserious purposes upon a mind gifted by nature with high talents, and not originally educated with a view to a younger branch of a great English falife of independent wealth. He is a mily, who succeeds, unexpectedly, in opening manhood, to all its honours and riches; and being thus thrown loose from the necessity of pursuing his studies, he vainly seeks relief for a mind meant to be active, in the dissipations of fashionable society, whose hollowness he is too clever not to public business of Parliament, of which see through; and, for a time, in the his habits are too delicate and shrinking to endure well the rubbing and turmoil. In either walk he meets with disgusts, and being at once very proud too, and yet not the least in the world and very modest, considerably vain,
• Tremaine; or, The Man of Refinement. 3 vols. London: Printed for Henry Colburn, New Burlington Street.
of a coxcomb, in the ordinary sense of the term, he flies for refuge to one of his seats in the country, where he de sigus to shut himself up among his books and trees,
"Oblitusque suorum, obliviscendus et illis."
He carries, however, into his retirement, all the habits of personal luxury, which long indulgence has rendered natural to him, and sits down at the age of eight-and-thirty, handsome in person, graceful in manners, accomplished in mind, to enjoy the most splendid of hermitages, and pursue, for their own sakes, the cultivation of his literary and philosophical tastes.
This plan, of course, fails. Tre maine cannot do without the world, though the world can do very well without him. He thinks that he has tried both friendship and love, and found them nothing; but his heart is in the right place, and nature asserts her abhorrence of the void. He thinks, too, that he has sounded the depths of philosophy, and that he has convinced himself of the absurdity of a revealed religion. But here, too, he is quite mistaken, both as to what he has done, and as to what he really feels. His is too good, too honest, and far too feel ing a mind to rest satisfied in scepticism. In a word, he flies from book to book, from listless indolence to illregulated exertion-solitude, uncertainty, languor, heart-sickness, weigh upon him; and, when his body is about to sink altogether under the burden of his mind, he is luckily compelled, by an important piece of business, to quit his magnificent villa of Belmont, and pay a visit to the old and grave seat of his ancestors, buried among enormous groves of antique oaks, in the heart of a beautiful and unsophisticated district of Yorkshire.
Here his cure is begun. He finds, in the rector-squire of a neighbouring parish, a friend of his early days, several years older than himself, Dr Evelyn. The Doctor is a widower, with a single lovely daughter, Georgina, just blooming in the perfection of early womanhood. Tremaine shrinks from them at first as rustics; but is, ere long, satisfied that real elegance has no necessary connexion with the air of Grosvenor-Square. He is in love long before he suspects it-far longer, he begins to suspect that it can be re
paid, (for he has an oppressive sense of the difference between eighteen and eight-and-thirty)-and at last he follows the way of all flesh, and avows the passion which has already cured one half of his diseases.
To his great surprise, Dr Evelyn tells him, first, that he had long seen his condition; second, that he had already talked to his daughter on the subject, though he cannot repeat what has passed; and thirdly, that it is impossible that any alliance should take place while Mr Tremaine's opinions (never concealed, though never obtruded) upon the most important of all subjects, remain as they are. Tremaine solicits permission to have one interview with Miss Evelyn herself. This her father accords. We shall quote the passage in question; but observing that it forms the conclusion of the second volume of the book, we think it only fair to bring our readers acquainted a little with the author's manner, by laying before them, in the first place, a specimen or two of the materials of which these two volumes are mainly made up.
A great deal of room is occupied with mere conversations, and we must say that we know few or no novels where the interest is so well, so thoroughly, indeed, sustained-the dialogue bearing so great a proportion to the narrative.
"A few moments ago we left Tremaine strolling up and down his great dining-room, with a Horace in his hand, which he read with more relish than he had ever done, since he had (what he called) shut himself up.
"The sun blazed full upon the garden door, at which he stopt at almost every turn, alternately gazing at the glories it presented, and again communing with the agreeable heathen he was so fond of.
"His nerves had never been so little irritated.
"I know not how, or why,' said he aloud, and looking abroad; but solitude seems to have peculiar charms for me this morning.'
"What will you give me, and I'll tell you both the how and the why?' said Evelyn, stealing in behind him.
"I'm afraid it will baffle even your philosophy,' said his friend, shaking hands with him.
"No! it confirms it all,' replied Evelyn, for it proves my favourite tenet of the necessity of earning our tranquillity. You have earned it for a little by the two