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gold, than from him who carves a beechen cup; and if a mantle hangs ungracefully, the fault is not rendered less vexatious by the splendour of the velvet or rarity of the furs. If indeed it were probable that the writings in which these blemishes occur would slide into oblivion when their hour of novelty was past, I should think the labour of correction not unwisely spared; but considering that a great portion, at least, of the works thus hastily put forth, is likely to be incorporated for ever with the living body of our literature, I watch their imperfections with as much concern as if I saw a magnificent piece of porcelain going to the furnace with the visible impression of a workman's thumb. It is mortifying to anticipate that åt some future day, a dunce who has broken'Priscian's head across,' and 'given' Lindley Murray “a bloody coxcomb*,' shall imagine himself to be composing after the author of Waverley.
It is not in the spirit of Momus's uncandid criticism on the Goddess of Beauty, that I hazard this free censure of a graceful but too negligent Muse. The lovely slattern may perhaps poutingly remark, that a true admirer of her natural perfections would overlook external disadvantages; but I answer, that the very fondness with which we regard her transcendent charms, inflames our jealousy of whatever tends to obstruct their influence.
“ If thou, that bidst me be content, wért grim,
Lame, foolish, crooked, swart, prodigious,
King John, Act iii. Sc. 1.
* Twelfth Night, last scene.
I speak the more unreservedly on this point, because the works of our two authors, although so loose and unfinished in general, yet contain more than enough of polished and harmonious writing to convince us that the faults complained of are not the result of any constitutional unaptness, of any innate or rooted indisposition to the limæ labor. A great part, for instance, of the excellent Life of Dryden (prefixed to the edition of his works in eighteen volumes) is composed with an accuracy and neatness entirely unexceptionable; but in this as in the other productions under our review (and here I include the poems), we may often find, within the compass of a few pages, two styles as different from each other as the sluttish Artemisia from the elegant Belinda.
It would, however, be unjust to dismiss this part of the subject without observing that on some happy occasions both the novelist and his rival exhibit a much higher excellence than mere neatness or accuracy; I mean that irresistible natural sweetness which flows from true feeling and refined taste, and, without these, is unattainable by the most experienced pen. It is impossible for tenderness and poetic beauty of sentiment to be more enchantingly set off by artless melody of diction than in the first introductory pages of Old Mortality; and after indulging so unreservedly in the language of dispraise, I shall not, I think, incur your blame for extracting a passage which excites, in my mind, unmingled admiration.
• Most readers,' says the manuscript of Mr. Pattieson, 'must have witnessed with delight the joyous burst which 6 attends the dismissing of a village-school on a fine summer evening. The buoyant spirit of childhood, repressed with so much difficulty during the tedious hours of discipline, may then be seen to explode, as it were, in shout and song, and frolic, as the little urchins join in groups on
their play-ground, and arrange their matches of sport for the evening. But there is one individual who partakes of the relief afforded by the moment of dismission, whose • feelings are not so obvious to the eye of the spectator, or 6 so apt to receive his sympathy. I mean the teacher him
self, who, stunned with the hum, and suffocated with the closeness of his school-room, has spent the whole day
(himself against a host) in controuling petulance, exciting indifference to action, striving to enlighten stupidity, and labouring to soften obstinacy; and whose very powers of intellect have been confounded by hearing the same dull • lesson repeated a hundred times by rote, and only varied
by the various blunders of the reciters. Even the flowers • of classic genius, with which his solitary fancy is most gratified, have been rendered degraded, in his imagination, by their connexion with tears, with errors, and with punishment; so that the Eclogues of Virgil and Odes 6 of Horace are each inseparably allied in association with the sullen figure and monotonous recitation of some blubbering school-boy. If to these mental distresses are added 6a delicate frame of body, and a mind ambitious of some • higher distinction than that of being the tyrant of childhood, the reader may have some slight conception of the relief which a solitary walk, in the cool of a fine summer evening, affords to the head which has ached, and the nerves which have been shattered, for so many hours, in plying the irksome task of public instruction.
• To me these evening strolls have been the happiest hours of an unhappy life; and if any gentle reader shall “ hereafter find pleasure in perusing these lucubrations, I 6 am not unwilling he should know, that the plan of them
has been usually traced in those moments, when relief from ó toil and clamour, combined with the quiet scenery around me, has disposed my mind to the task of composition.
* My chief haunt, in these hours of golden leisure, is the banks of the small stream, which, winding through a lone vale of green bracken,' passes in front of the village school• house of Gandercleugh. For the first quarter of a mile,
perhaps, I may be disturbed from my meditations, in order ' to return the scrape, or doffed bonnet, of such stragglers
among my pupils as fish for trouts or minnows in the little brook, or seek rushes and wild flowers by its margin. • But, beyond the space I have mentioned, the juvenile anglers do not, after sunset, voluntarily extend their excursions. The cause is, that farther up the narrow valley, 6 and in a recess which seems scooped out of the side of the steep heathy bank, there is a deserted burial-ground which the little cowards are fearful of approaching in the twilight. • To me, however, the place has an inexpressible charm. • It has been long the favourite termination of my walks, 6 and, if my kind patron forgets not his promise, will (and • probably at no very distant day) be my final resting-place after my mortal pilgrimage.
It is a spot which possesses all the solemnity of feeling attached to a burial-ground, without exciting those of a more unpleasing description. Having been very little used for many years, the few hillocks which rise above • the level plain are covered with the same short velvet • turf. The monuments, of which there are not above seven or eight, are half sunk in the ground, and overgrown with moss. No newly-erected tomb disturbs the sober serenity • of our reflections by reminding us of recent calamity, and
no rank springing grass forces upon our imagination the - recollection, that it owes its dark luxuriance to the foul and • festering remnants of mortality which ferment beneath. • The daisy which sprinkles the sod, and the hare-bell which " hangs over it, derive their pure nourishment from the dew of
Heaven, and their growth impresses us with no degrading
• or disgusting recollections. Death has indeed been here, 6 and its traces are before us; but they are softened and
deprived of their horror by our distance from the period .. when they have been first impressed. Those who sleep * beneath are only connected with us by the reflection that
they have once been what we now are, and that, as their 6-reliques are now identified with their mother earth, ours
shall, at some future period, undergo the same transforma• tion.'-Old Mortality, ch. 1.
The following passage, on a very different subject, is written in the same spirit, and although less accurately composed, possesses similar beauties.
. It was on the second night after my arrival in Paris, that, finding myself rather too early for an evening party * to which I was invited, I strolled out, enjoying the pure 6 and delicious air of a summer night in France, until I
found myself in the centre of the Place de Louis Quinze, 6 surrounded, as I have described it, by objects so noble in
themselves, and so powerfully associated with deep historic 6 and moral interest. And here am I at length in Paris;'
was the natural reflection; and under circumstances how - different from what I dared to have anticipated! That is
the palace of Louis le Grand; but how long have his de scendants been banished from its halls, and under what auspices do they now again possess them! This superb esplanade takes its name from his luxurious and feeble descendant; and here, upon the very spot where I now stand, the most virtuous of the Bourbon race expiated, by
violent death inflicted by his own subjects, and in view 6 of his own palace, the ambitions and follies of his predecessors. There is an awful solemnity in the reflection, 6 hów few of those who contributed to this deed of injustice • and atrocity now look upon the light, and behold the pro