Imágenes de páginas

highest order; the brusque manner of Roebuck, whose tongue is a razor of the keenest penetration, but who is recognised as a thoroughly honest man; the dry humour of Mr. Villiers, brother of the Earl of Clarendon, relieving his somewhat "arid" manner; the hard, dry fun of Sir John Tissen Tyrrell, all the more exhilarating, because it has the appearance of dropping unconsciously; the comfortable look of Mr. Hume; the emphatic size of Mr. Pattison; the very good-humoured smile of Mr. Alderman Humphries, once "Lord Mayor of London,"-all these things may be noticed by the habitual visitant of the Legislature, but can hardly be conveyed to those who are "without."

[ocr errors]

We enter the "House on an important night. The front opposition benches are crowded. Lord John Russell is sitting beside Lord Palmerston; the one you can distinguish by his "smallness," the other by his erect attitude and handsome figure. On one side of Lord John Russell sits Sir George Grey, cousin of the present Earl Grey, and who, though he does not often address the House, whenever he does so, gallops like a race-horse, and leaves the impression that he treats his clear, vigorous intellect much as some people do spoiled children-merely to be humoured on occasions. Lower down you may observe Mr. Macaulay-the brilliant essayist, the sparkling poet, and the telling orator-folding his arms, and leaning back on his seat with the air of a pedagogue. That sharp-faced man is Charles Wood, brother-in-law of the present Earl Grey, a pair who, in days now gone by, used to be termed “the Dual party." Mr. Charles Wood is an intelligent and respectable man, but, in speaking, he never knows when to have done. A similar thing may be predicated of Mr. Labouchere, a man whose private and political character is singularly pure, and whose word of honour is safer than many men's bonds. That bustling man is Mr. Benjamin Hawes, member for Lambeth; he is a clever individual, has a large knowledge of commercial subjects; and, along with Mr.Tuffnell, acts as "whipper-in" for the Whig party.


Party!-there is no party now! On both sides of the House men are ranged, as if there still existed "Her Majesty's Opposition" as well as "Her Majesty's Government." It is a great mistake. Whatever have been the cause- -political education, moral progression, individual treachery, or a conglomeration of accidents→ the usual ideas of political party are now numbered amongst the things that floated in men's minds" before the Flood." Other and higher notions have come in their stead. The great question now with an honest political man, as well as an honest statesman, is, "How can I best serve my country?" All idea of opposing a measure because it comes from an opposite side of the House is laughed at—as it ought to be. The old watchwords have now less sense than ever they had; and the appellations of Tory, Conservative, Whig, Radical, and Chartist, have lost all distinctive power, and can only be applied in immediate relation to the expressed opinions of an individual. So far the country has gained immeasurably; and though, for a time, we float in a kind of political chaos, the elements will once more subside, and form a new stratum for human thought and human action.

Lord John Russell is one of the most conspicuous remnants of the days of party. He was born and educated in a school whose notion was, that all men were disposed politically into the party of movement and the party of resistance. Up till 1828 the idea was a correct one. For although Sir Robert Peel (then Mr. Peel) had begun to amend our Currency and our Criminal Laws, no serious inroad had been made in the "old" Constitution. In 1828 the first assault was made. Lord John Russell carried the Repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts; and Sir Robert Peel, then Home

Secretary, somewhat sulkily assented. In 1829 came Catholic Emancipation; after it the Reform Bill; and all the changes which have changed the very spirit of our times.

That Lord John Russell is not an orator, every reader of a newspaper is aware. He has not the personal appearance, the imposing attitude, nor the rotund sesquipedalianism which tell on an audience. But you cannot listen to him without feeling that a man of mind is speaking. He utters his thoughts in a sententious mode; concentrates his opinions into phrases which strike you as being peculiarly appropriate and reflective. There is nothing grand, nothing extraordinary; but all that is spoken is stamped with the character of an intellectual observation of human nature, both in its public and its private aspects. The late Rev. Sydney Smith, in a muchquoted sentence, describes Lord John Russell as having a courage which would dispose him to command the Channel fleet, perform the operation for the stone, or rebuild St. Paul's, should any of these performances lie within the sphere of his imperative duty. Ludicrous as it is, the description is as correct as some of those caricatures which convey a more faithful idea of an individual than the most elaborate portraiture. Lord John Russell is a singularly courageous man; and yet, as a general rule, he may be termed singularly cautious. Proud, cold, reserved, he never commits himself to that species of unscrupulous opposition which has been the disgrace of some living statesmen. Yet he is not inattentive to the arts by which a party is kept together, whether it be by corresponding with the managers of the daily press, or contributing to the periodical review. He speaks more correctly than he writes, of which an example may be observed in an article in the last Number of the Edinburgh Review,' on 66 Grey and Spencer," written, as it is understood, by Lord John Russell. Privately, he is a pure-minded man, with a temperament opposite to licentiousness, and a pride which scorns petty arts. Though fettering himself with party trammels, he has great faith in principles, and sees his way much farther than Sir Robert Peel, to whom he is inferior as a speaker, but superior as a thinker. It may not be superfluous to add, that Lord John Russell has written a play, a history, essays, and reviews; that he has filled high offices of state with much credit to himself and great utility to the country; that he has been connected with some of the most momentous changes of modern times, from the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts to the remodelling of our Municipal system; and though not, in any extraordinary sense, a very "great' man, the large space which he fills in the public eye is due to the rectitude and consistency of his public conduct and the exemplary purity of his private character.



"In the course of my life I have often pleased or entertained myself with observing the various and fantastical changes of the diseases generally complained of, and of the remedies in common vogue, which were like birds of passage, very much seen or heard of at one season, and disappeared at another, and commonly succeeded by some of a very different kind. When I was very

young, nothing was so much feared or talked of as rickets among children, and consumption among young people of both sexes. After these the spleen came in play, and grew a formal disease: then the scurvy, which was the general complaint, and both were thought to appear in many various guises. After these, and for a time, nothing was so much talked of as the ferment of the blood, which passed for the cause of all sorts of ailments, that neither physicians nor pa

tients knew well what to make of. And to all these succeeded vapours, which serve the same turn, and furnish occasion of complaint among persons whose bodies or minds ail something, but they know not what, and among the Chinese would pass for mists of the mind or fumes of the brain, rather than indispositions of any other parts. Yet these employ our physicians, perhaps more than other diseases, who are fain to humour such patients in their fancies of being ill, and to prescribe some remedies for fear of losing their practice to others that pretend more skill in finding out the cause of diseases, or care in advising remedies, which neither they nor their patients find any effect of, besides some gains to one, and amusement to the other. This, I suppose, may have contributed much to the mode of going to the waters either cold or hot upon so many occasions, or else upon none besides that of entertainment, and which commonly may have no other effect. And it is well if this be the worst of the frequent use of those waters, which, though commonly innocent, yet are sometimes dangerous, if the temper of the person or cause of the indisposition be unhappily mistaken, especially in people of age. As diseases have changed vogue, so have remedies in my time and observation. I remember at one time the taking of tobacco, at another the drinking of warm beer, proved for universal remedies; then swallowing of pebble stones, in imitation of falconers curing hawks. One doctor pretended to help all heats and fevers by drinking as much cold spring water as the patient could bear; at another time, swallowing a spoonful of powder of sea-biscuit after meals was infallible for all indigestions, and so preventing diseases. Then coffee and tea began their successive reigns. The infusion or powder of steel have had their turns, and certain drops of several names and compositions: but none that I find have established their authority, either long or generally, by any constant and sensible successes of their reign, but have rather passed like a mode, which every one is apt to follow, and finds the most convenient or graceful while it lasts, and begins to dislike in both those respects when it goes out of fashion."-Sir William Temple's Miscellanea.

THE VESSEL OF THE STATE. "The comparison between a state and a ship has been so illustrated by poets and

orators, that it is hard to find any point wherein they differ; and yet they seem to do it in this, that in great storms and rough seas, if all the men and lading roll to one side, the ship will be in danger of oversetting by their weight; but, on the contrary, in the storms of state, if the body of the people, with the bulk of estates, roll all one way, the nation will be safe. For the rest, the similitude holds, and happens alike to the one and to the other. When a ship goes to sea, bound to a certain port, with a great cargo, and a numerous crew who have a share in the lading as well as safety of the vessel, let the weather and the gale be never so fair, yet if in the course she steers the ship's crew apprehend they see a breach of waters, which they are sure must come from rocks or sands, that will endanger the ship unless the pilot changes his course : if the captain, the master, and pilot, with some other of the officers, tell them they are fools or ignorant, and not fit to advise; that there is no danger, and it belongs to themselves to steer what course they please, or judge to be safe, and that the business of the crew is only to obey: if however the crew persist in their apprehensions of the danger, and the officers of the ship in the pursuit of their course, till the seamen will neither stand to their tackle, hand sails, or suffer the pilot to steer as he pleases, what can become of this ship, but that either the crew must be convinced by the captain and officers of their skill and care, and safety of their course, or these must comply with the common apprehensions and humours of the seamen; or else they must come at last to fall together by the ears, and so throw one another overboard, and leave the ship in the direction of the strongest, and perhaps to perish, in case of hard weather, for want of hands. Just so in a state, divisions of opinion, though upon points of common interest or safety, yet if pursued to the height, and with heat or obstinacy enough on both sides, must end in blows and civil arms, and by their success leave all in the power of the strongest, rather than the wisest or the best intentions; or perhaps expose it to the last calamity of a foreign conquest. But nothing besides the uniting of parties upon one common bottom can save a state in a tempestuous season; and every one, both of the officers and crew, are equally concerned in the safety of the ship, as in their own, since in that alone theirs are certainly involved."-Ibid.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][subsumed][merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed]

LEIGH HUNT'S STORIES FROM THE ITALIAN POETS. Stories from the Italian Poets, with Lives of the Writers. By Leigh Hunt. 2 vols. London, 1846.

THIS is a noble specimen of Literature for the People. It is just such a book as all who have the dissemination of good taste at heart will gladly welcome. At the same time that it endeavours to place within reach of the people some taste of the great poets of Italy, it is no sketchy superficial work written, as the phrase goes, "down to the public." Had Leigh Hunt chosen his audience from the highest and most cultivated intellects of England, he would not have written with more finish, nor have sifted facts with more delicate scruples. The only difference might have been in more liberal citations from dead and foreign languages, which he would not have translated. It is a work for the people in everything but price. We trust its success will soon render a cheap edition remunerating to the publishers. Meanwhile we will give our readers some account of its contents.

And these specimens are unlike all specimens hitherto published, in being stories, having a complete interest as such, and giving a real image of the poet's manner. Nothing is more delusive than extracts. Great poets suffer by them; because works of art cannot be judged of piecemeal small poets gain by them; be cause their works are piecemeal. Now in the case of Dante, Leigh Hunt has felt that extract would be insufficient; accordingly he has given us in marvellous prose the Divine Comedy' as a whole, omitting only "long tedious lectures of scholastic divinity and other learned absurdities of the time," and


compressing the work in other passages not essentially necessary to the formation of a just idea of the author." The result has been a lasting benefit: All persons may now learn a great deal of Dante, and that in an agreeable manner. The translation by Mr. Cary, though a work of considerable merit, has the very serious drawback of not being very readable. He has made Dante walk upon Miltonic stilts. But the style of Milton, like the bow of Ulysses, is too [KNIGHT'S PENNY MAGAZINE.]

The first volume comprises Dante and Pulci; the second, Boiardo, Ariosto, and Tasso. The plan is to give a careful biographical notice of the poet, with a criticism upon his works and style, by way of introduction to the specimens.

No. 13.

« AnteriorContinuar »