Page images

nothing wrong in his daily perambulation of the streets, nothing half so wrong as that which he will be sure to learn, be he ever so young, during his first half year at Caneborough House, or at one of the great public seminaries. All this advice may seem premature to you, my darling. There will be time enough to think of such things, you may be of opinion, a dozen years

hence. Daughter, there is never time sufficient to think of such things. Ever apace runs the world, and we cannot afford to lag behind for one instant. Adieu.




Musing the other day on a packet of books just brought by Shanko Fanko from the library to which I subscribe, and turning over now three-volume novels, now tomes of travels, now comic Christmas books, now magazines and pamphletsfor I take out my subscription to the last shilling's worth of privilege, and ransack the catalogue every Monday morning from beginning to end—I could not help thinking a little about the authors of the same books, and especially on the odd portraits affixed to the frontispieces of the works of those most popular among the scribbling craft.

It is positively irritating to find how widely unlike are authors to the images of them we vainly create for our own gratification. They don't even resemble their pictures. Sappho is forty-five, suffers from warts, and wears a wig; yet Sappho's publishers persist in engraving and re-engraving the bust of that blue-eyed girl with wavy hair, whom Sir William Ross limned so exquisitely in eighteen thirty-two. Yonder goes Anacreon Bays, the poet, with his sparse wisps of grey hair, his bulbous purple nose, and pendulous cheeks. He has no teeth now, and he wears spectacles ; but, lo! in Messrs. Smilington's shop window lies open the eighth edition of Anacreon Bays's Sonnets the Great and Less and, as a frontispiece, is Bays's portrait—a simpering head

Bears ;


of a Raffaellite-looking youth, with his hair parted down the middle, a high shirt-collar, and a cascade of black satin stock. They say that the Laureate, to look at, is a dreadful man, something between a national schoolmaster and a life-guardsman who has retired from the service. Dans le temps, I saw Mr. Rogers, the author of “ Italy," and the exquisite lines to a Tear. His head would have been like a skeleton's, if it had not more resembled an exceedingly hideous door-knocker. I have read Campbell, the dignified, the passionate, the sublimely melancholy, in verse, and I have seen him in the flesh. He was a brisk little man, in a bright blue coat and brass buttons, and pepper-and-salt continuations. The light and jocund Leigh Hunt looked, I am told, like a long, lean old woman clothed in grey. Charles Lamb, the fanciful, the humorous, the poetical, was the image of a parish clerk-a little bowed man, with a spiky bald head, a projecting frill, a seal dangling from his fob; black shorts, worsted stockings, and gaiters. Sir Walter Scott, truly, looked like himself ; but who would ever think, to regard his portrait, that the stout gentleman in an ill-made frock-coat, and the head like a Dutch cheese, was the famous Thomas Babington Macaulay, not only essayist, historian, and legislator, but the poet of Ivry and the Armada, and the Lays of Ancient Rome? The portraits of Mr. Carlyle, according to Mr. Nedwards, who knows him well, sufficiently resemble that terribly uncompromising Hangman of History ; but only consider Mr. Benjamin Disraeli! There is a portrait of Mr. Benjamin Disraeli extant-of a handsome Caucasian-looking youth, with an ample turn-down collar, fire in his eyes, eloquence on his lips, and a mass of luxuriant black ringlets that a woman might envy. I have met Mr. Benjamin Disraeli, too, in society, many times, in the days when he wore black velvet pantaloons and point-lace ruffles, and when he would sit for

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

hours on an ottoman in the midst of the gayest evening party, his hands placed between his waistcoat and his heaving and French cambric-covered bosom, and his truly poetical eyes in a fine frenzy rolling. You saw Mr. Benjamin Disraeli, you say, on the day of the opening of Parliament. He was pointed out to you in Palace Yard. He is the Right Honourable Benjamin Disraeli now. He is at the head of a great party, and has been a Minister of State ; but, alas ! how changed from him. You saw a sallow, lean, old Jew-man, curbed and downcast, not handsomely dressed. There was no fire in his eye, there were no ringlets on his forehead ; and people say that he is not so eloquent now as of yore, but that he labours, and strains, and stumbles, and halts, and is ofttimes dreary and monotonous. All, all must change, and come to gloom. That crowned head upon the florin will look too young one day to suit the Mistress of the Realm. Had Byron lived he might have been a doddering old gentleman in a brown jasey, and false teeth. I try to realise the idea of Napoleon at eighty, bald and gouty. I remember to have seen the ghost of the Great Duke Arthur swaying in his saddle as he rode up Constitution Hill. I have read of John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, half blind, half paralysed, peeping at his shrunken self in a mirror, and mumbling, “ That was once a man."

I should not be half so much vexed if authors and poets at all resembled their writings; but they don't, my dear—they don't. We have all heard that droll Mr. Hood was the most hipped and melancholy of men; and that Lord Byron wasn't a quarter so miserable, maddened, despairing, as he pretended, in the ottava rima, to be. Mr. Nedwards tells me that one of the wittiest and brilliant burlesque writers of the age is one of the gloomiest of mortals—frequently sheds tears, speaks of himself as a miserable creature and a blighted being, and is

[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »