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and anxiety for an hour or two, when one of the men peeping through a crack in the door saw an English naval officer at a little distance, which he informed me of, and knocking at the door, I desired the sentinel to call him to me. He was the captain of a frigate, then lying in the harbour. I told him who I was, and the awkward situation in which I was placed. Make yourself easy, sir, said he, you shall be here but a few minutes. He left me, and directly after the British consul came, who told me that I and my men were at liberty, and desired me to accompany him to a hotel near his home, where I would find all the accommodations I might want. From him I learnt that our ship had been in great danger of being driven on the rocks, which was the occasion of her firing several guns, as signals of distress. She had let go her anchors, but drifted with them all ahead, in consequence of the extreme violence of the squalls, and was obliged to cut her cables. A number of boats had gone to her assistance, among which were four from the British frigate, Sancta Theresa, the master of which had got on board of her, but being unable to regain his boat, had been taken out to sea. But," said he, “ she will soon be back, and in the mean time command whatever is in my power to procure for you.” I felt very grateful for such kindness from a perfect stranger, and proffered in a situation where it was so much needed. The next day came, and the next, and the next, but no ship came with them. I ascended the highest ground several times a day, and looked out for her with great solicitude. On the evening of the third day, while I was pacing backwards and forwards on the pavement before the hotel, hearing the rapid approach of horses, I looked up, and behold, the captain leaped from a horse and seized me by the hand. “Why, Ramsdell! where did you come from? where's the ship?” “ At Porto Lougóhe, two leagues from this, where having lost all our anchors, and twenty times escaped the rocks, we at last brought the ship up with a couple of guns instead of anchors. You'll see the master of the frigate, whom we took along with us, and he'll tell you that he never had such a jaunt in all his life. But here's a bundle of your clothes; I thought you would want them, and be rather uncomfortable till you knew what had become of us ; therefore, as soon as the ship was secured, I got these rags, and that fellow, who can't understand a word I say to him, and we have come here like a couple of flying proas.”
From this place a few days afterwards, I crossed in a sparonaro to Piombino in Tuscany.
Poor Ramsdell ! he was an excellent seaman, possessed of the greatest presence of mind, of the most determined courage, and the most affectionate heart. I frequently delight in recollecting him. It is that feeling which has induced me to write this narrative of the events which occurred while I was in his compa
ny; and in which I have been obliged to mention myself oftener than I would have done, could I have avoided it.
I say poor Ramsdell! The next voyage was his last. He had command of a ship, and is supposed to have been lost in a severe gale of wind in the Atlantic, Neither vessel nor crew were ever heard of.
I know nothing of his parentage or connexions, except, that they lived in Nantucket.
Art, VI.-The Pirate ; by the Author of " Waverly, Kenil
worth, &c." (We have already submitted to our readers, a very copious Review of the
Pirate-(see the No. for January 1822,)—but we are tempted to renew the subject, in the following article, because it contains some excellent observations on the mooted point of novel-reading. The abstract of the story of the romance is omitted, as we suppose it is by this time familiar to every one; but if any one should wish to refresh his recollection, he may refer to the Number just cited.]
Why does not the Christian Observer review the Waverly Novels ? has been so often repeated, that we think it time at length to attend to the inquiry. Our protracted silence will have shown that we are not very vehement admirers either of novels or novel-reading; and, as Christian observers, we do not hold ourselves obliged very frequently to notice works like the present. There are, however, cogent reasons for at length ad. verting to the subject. The Waverly Novels already amount to no less than thirty-nine volumes : their multifarious contents, good, bad, and indifferent, are eagerly swallowed (for novel readers do not wait to masticate, much less digest, their repast,) by innumerable readers in every corner of the empire: the book shop's are crowded with candidates for the first reeking copies the mo'ment a new tale is announced ; long before which auspicious event, from the wholesale vender to ihe itinerant bookstall, the the wary bibliopole placards his widow and counter with the intelligence : edition after edition is bespoken before it can be printed; the humblest circulating library must have its duplicate and triplicate copies; the parlour the drawing-room, and it is well if not the kitchen and servants' hall and nursery also, become possessed of this indispensible piece of furniture: the young and old, the gay and the grave, all sit down with aridity to the perusal; and more time and energy are perhaps employed in settling who among so many anxious expectants shall first have the precious volume, than would almost suffice for reading it; the lady's maid and footman quarrel for the prior claim to purloin a sight of the parlour copy; while the very cook and her scullion expedite their operations to have a snug hour for the borrowed treasure from the circulating library. Go where yoil
will, a Waverly Novel peeps forth; you find it on the breakfast table, and under the pillow; concealed in the desk of the clerk, and the till of the shopman; in the sleeve of the gownsman, and the pocket of the squire; on the barouche-box, and in the swordcase; by day-light, by lamp-light, by moon-light, by rush-light; ay, even among the Creek Indians has been seen a volume of these far-famed tales beguiling the tedious hours of the daughter of an Alabama planter, as she sat down with her coffee-pot by the evening fireside in the recesses of an American forest.
Scandit eodem quo dominus ; neque.
Post equitem sedit. Works thus numerous and popular-and which, both from these circumstances, and from the high degree of talent that pervades them, must have no inconsiderable effect upon the public taste and sentiments—undoubtedly claim some attention in a miscellany like ours; nor shall we shrink from putting our readers in full possession of our sentiments upon them.
There are, also, other reasons which have determined us to enter on the present subject; not the least of which is, that the modified character of the Waverly Novels has gained access for them into many families in which general novel-reading had been strictly interdicted. Even religious families, in numerous instances, have suffered these specious works to become the means of breaking down the barrier which had been hitherto maintained between the habits of bona fide Christians, and the habits of worldly society; and an opening for injurious or trifling reading being once admitted, it is not easy to anticipate where the evil may stop. A single novel, if not more exceptionable than are the generality of the Waverly Tales, would scarcely have induced us to go far out of our path to notice it: we should have calculated on its dying away without producing any very considerable effects on society, and certainly without causing any material innovations in the habits of those persons to whom novel-reading was a very rare or unknown practice. But such a constant repetition of the draught, even though its composition be but partially deleterious, may be highly dangerous. The volumes in question already amount, as we have stated, to the number of our Articles of Religion; and it will be well if they do not prove “ forty stripes save one” for their readers and the public. Each stroke may be gentle, and yet the united effect of the whole severe; especially should the act of novel-reading, being thus frequently repeated become a habit, and find its way permanently into families hitherto inaccessible to its baneful influence.
The Waverly Novels, however, must not be the whole of our theme; for they are but a part, though, for one writer, a very considerable part, of the mass of works of entertainment and
imagination which now so profusely issue from the presses of England and Scotland, and which are eagerly perused by thousands and tens of thousands of our countrymen and countrywomen of all ranks, ages, and capacitics. Poetry, in particular, has, of late years, made most prolific shoots: and we wish we could add with truth, that “its leaves are for the healing of the nations.” To all this, we must append, as a part of our general indictment, the mass of tales, poems, dramas, and other effusions which float, “ trifles light as air," over the stream of our diurnal, and weekly, and monthly literature ; and all of which go into the vast aggregate of the national reading, and tend strongly to influence the public taste, sentiments, and conduct.
It seems to us a question of delicate casuistry to what extent religious families may lawfully indulge in the perusal of works of mere taste and imagination. As a general principle, it is easy
“ The less the better ;" but such a sweeping denunciation however convenient to the casuist, is not likely to convince or reform those who require conviction or reformation ; nor is it, in fact, altogether well-founded. The imagination is not necessarily an enemy; like other faculties of the mind indeed, it is depraved by the Fall; but, like them also, it may be employed, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, for the most valuable purposes. The perversion is not in the faculty, but in its application ; and the object of a christain should be, not to extirpate it, but wisely to controul its unlawful tendencies, and to dispose it to virtuous and heavenly objects. To abandon it to the service of “ the world, the flesh, and the devil,” is both unnecessary and most inexpedient. It ought rather to berescued from this degradation, and employed, as the sacred writers and our Blessed Lord himself employed it in their figures, and parables, and apologues, and allegories, for the glory of God and the good of
To this we might add, that its occasional exercise fur. nishes a powerful relief to the man of business or study; and may even be of use in some cases, to the clergy themselves; at least to those of them whose leaden pinions require such an aid, or whose soporific habits of thought and language might be sub limed, to the great satisfaction of their auditories, though often dangerous, faculty.
But the subject strikes us in another aspect. We live in a somewhat unkindly climate: a large portion also of our population are cooped up in towns and cities; we are proverbially subject to rains and fogs and chills, to dark days and long evenings; and the habits of the people, concurring with these natural causes, render in-door occupations and amusements essential to Brirish ideas of comfort. Every parent who wishes to discourage in his children the inordinate love of visiting, gossiping, and pleasure-taking, and at the same time not allow the domestic fireside to become the scene of listlessness, indolence, or inanity,
perhaps of fretfulness or quarreling, must feel the great importance of light (we do not say trifling) reading as one of the best resources for his purpose. Young persons cannot be every moment employed either in their studies or in active recreations, or in devotional exercises : it is desirable also on many accounts to promote among them a taste for reading, which cannot be altogether done by means of treatises of dry and abstract argument. Here then is a fair opening for books of an innocent and amusing character; such as voyages, travels, the lighter arts and sciences, poetry, and many of the papers in periodical and other publications. The chief, though by no means the only danger, is in the admission of works purely of imagination. As for doubtful sentiments, injudicions expressions, and exceptionable facts and allusions, it is hard to say how they can be wholly excluded, even where works of fiction are most strictly shut out.
There are comparatively few books of light reading, even of a useful kind, in which a prudent Christian parent may not detect passages which he could wish altered or omitted. The most moral writers, unless they are sincere Christians, are apt to introduce unscriptural principles and motives ; and even sincere Christians are not always men of good taste, and enlightened judgment, or conscious of what will bear reading, word for word, in a family circle. In all these cases, the best safeguard is the viva voce comment of a judicious parent or friend ; and where this can be had, many a work may be read with advantage, which, if studied in silence and solitude, would have been highly dangerous to a youthful mind.
It is clear, then, that works of imagination cannot be condemned at once and in the gross, simply on account of there being a supposed impropriety in exercising the particular faculty of mind to which they appeal; for the imagination, as we have seen is not necessarily a vehicle of evil, and may even be made a vehicle of good. It is equally clear also, that an occasional occurrence of wrong sentiments or other partial deformities, in works of imagination, cannot be fairly visited with a total banishment of this branch of literature, without applying the same rule to many other classes of works, including a very large proportion of those which are among the very best for the family fireside. One chief class of works of imagination, namely poetry, is found, even by religious parents, to be not only a valuable literary amusement for young persons, but an excellent vehicle for instruction and the promotion of right feelings; provided (as it must be also in the cases of works not of imagination) a due exercise of piety and judgment is made in the selection. There is then, in fact nothing, strictly speaking, in works of imagination, which is malum per se ; and yet, as our readers will discover in the course of our remarks; we perceive so much that is exceptionable in the general, and almost inevitable, accompani