Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

rity-I have not sought to develope tion of him be banished from the thy mystery- I have only worshipped earth-he who apparently was the thee in the bright sun in the soft centre of a little world, dealing sunmoon-in the green fields-in human shine or discontent, as he directed nature-in my friends-in my wife or denied his approving glance.-It -my children! Art thou satisfied is singular to consider that a unit with such worship—the worship of taken from the sum of human beings the heart?"_" Oh-no-no-he is makes no alteration in the general not-he cannot be—what do you law; and that the broken hearts of mean by the spiri of nature ?” in his nearest and dearest connections terrupted his wife. " That which go for nothing in the scale of geneproduced this world and myriads of ral happiness. others that which produced thee, It was soon found that his sleep my sweet Emily, and my beloved was that of death. Lady Seldon children.”—“My dear father,” cried had given the lesson she sought to Laura, ber countenance brightening give, but not in the way she intendwith renewed hope, we shall meet ed-her children's opinions were no again in heaven," he prest her to his longer wavering their father had bosom, and, with a voice rendered confessed, unasked, that to the good almost inarticulate by emotion, said, atheism is not happiness—he himself “I hope so, if there be a heaven, I lamented most earnestly that he felt am sure so—and now my sweet chil no belief in a future state of existdren, to you I will confess what hu ence—there had been for him through man pride would still urge me to - life no consolatory feeling to sooth conceal, that I would give up all, his sorrow at the death of a friend; even this last hour of

your endear for he had no hope in an eternal rements, to purchase a thorough con union, he believed that all things viction that we should meet again must have birth, and flourish, and I go without fear, but I go cheer then pass away as though they had lessly, I would purchase the hope never been--but although they clung that brightens your brow, my Laura,' to the hope their father was denied, continued he, as he convulsively prest yet did their religion differ greatly her fingers.—“I am without fear,” from Lady Seldon's; they would repeated he, “but without hope," contend that there were better arguand relaxing the grasp by which he ments than force in favour of chris held his daughter's hand, he sank tianity—that it was a Christian's upon his pillow. .

duty to heal, and not to wound; to The sun had scarcely sunk below forgive, and not to revile ; to look the horizon—the attendant clouds, with pity on those, who were denied still in gorgeous splendour, lingered the consolations of religion; to reto tint with varied beauty the wes gret there was one vast source of tern heaven; the same delicious air happiness unopened to them, and still played around his forehead-he not to hunt them down, as is but too had spoken but an instant before, often the case, perverting the course and he will never speak again, he of justice to satisfy implacable venwill wake no more to rejoicing-he geance on victims incapable of rewill no more watch for and hail the sistance. This enlightened Christiareturning spring, the eternal re nity they found most conducive to production of nature-no—that form happiness — and the sneers of the of manly beauty will shortly be food world, and the reproofs of their mofor worms—the fire of that eye is ther, never afterwards induced them fled that often would persuade be to alter their principles. fore his tongue gave birth to elo

HUMANITATI Amicus. quence how soon will all recollec

ON THE EPISTOLARY STYLE.

(Translated from “ Le Musée." There are few persons who ex

to command it; with expressions, perience the necessity of delivering which nature alone seems to have an oration, or of composing a dis- dictated; with that easy communicasertation or a poem : while there is tion of sentiment which makes one scarcely an individual who has not soul known to another; and where occasion, at one time or other, to the heart seeks not to veil itself in write a letter. A knowledge of letter the mask of the understanding. writing should, therefore, be placed The epistolary style, however, among the elements of a useful edu- must not be supposed incapable of cation. It is of particular import- elevation and warmth. Of this, the ance in the education of females; Letters of Rousseau are sufficient for, if we except the few whose evidences. But as they were inminds are directed to literary pur

tended for the press, they are letters suits, the rest require only an ac more in name than in destination. quaintance with letter-writing., To They are either dissertations, or dethem literature, properly speaking, scriptions of travels or romances, is a mere object of curiosity, so that written in the epistolary form. In it is from an ignorance of the epis- a word, they are works, subjected to tolary style alone, that they can the different laws which literature experience any inconvenience. We imposes on these different species of ase the word ignorance, because it is writing. of much greater importance to them

We here talk only of private letto avoid faults than to become ac ters, with which the public are supquainted with beauties. We seldom posed to be unacquainted, and the make any observation on a letter sole object of which is to transmit to written in a simple style; but we him, who receives them, the thoughts cannot well avoid smiling at the of the person by whom they are dicaffectation of excellence.

tated. They are intended for those Siyle may be termed the order in who are deprived, by their absence, which we present our thoughts, and of that pleasure and information the manner in which we express which they would derive from our them. The sublime style consists presence. The advantages of this in grand and generous conceptions,

distant commerce of thought is hapexpressed with energy and dignity; pily expressed by Eloisa, in her Episin bold and impassioned sentiments, tle to Abelard, by Colardeau. clothed in a brilliant and lively co

Ecris moi, je le veux. Ce commerce louring. Of this style we meet with enchanteur, numerous examples, in the funeral

Aimable epanchement de l'esprit et du orations of Bossuet, and in the

caur, Athalia and Pliadrus of Racine. Cet art de converser sans se voir, sans

When, on the contrary, we have s'entendre, only to describe the milder affec Ce muet entretien si charmant et si tions, free opinions, details incapable tendre, of elevated' emotions or of daring L'Art d'ecrire, Abelard, fut sans doute images, we should then employ that

inventé tempered style, which interests us in Par l'amante captive, et l'amant agité. Vertot, and charms us in Fenelon. + From this definition, or rather

If we seek for models of the simple description of the epistolary style, style, we should study Fontaine, or arise all the rules to which it is subSevigné. In perusing these writers, jected. These rules are few, and we are enchanted with that delicious may all be reduced to one. As negligence of manner, which capti- a letter and its reply is merely a convates our attention without seeming versation between two who are absent,

. Also in the Paradise Lost of Milton.
+ Addison is also a good model of this style.
| Swift is also esteemed for simplicity of style,

they should write as they would puerilities, thcsc repetitions will still speak to each other if they were pre possess a latent charm, which love sent; that is, with that openness, only can either appreciate or perthat ease, agreeableness, and even ceive. negligence, which a familiar conver The same may be affirmed of friendsation either requires or permits. ship. It is a talker, and delights in A letter to a superior should be re- words. As it loves confidence, it spectful; to an equal, frank and seeks to be acquainted with every open'; and to a friend, light and thing. Love is not so ambitious of playful. In a word, propriety knowledge; it regards only the seshould be the pole-star of a letter crets of the heart, and the state of writer, and the character of propriety its affections. It looks to the beloved is to adapt itself to persons, circum- object alone, not to the relation that stances, times, and situations.

exists between it and others. Friend As ease and perspicuity are the ship is not so easily satisfied. It most valuable ornaments of conver must be acquainted with the sentisation, they are also the simplex ments and ideas, the fears and hopes, munditiis of letter-writing--the most the projects of every day, the dreams simple, and, at the same time, the of every night, the interests of the most elegant character that can pos- family: in a word, every thing consibly belong to the epistolary style. nected with the object of its solici

As we speak, so should we write, for tude. It embraces every thing; it no other purpose than that of com must know every thing; nor can it municating our thoughts to each rest satisfied, until the entire soul is other. The choice and propriety of laid open to its view. The epistolary terms ought, therefore, to be the style, therefore, can be subjected to first consideration of a letter-writer; no rules, with regard to love and for if he use terms which admit of friendship; and it reminds us of St. two meanings, he can have no cer Augustin's answer, when asked, tainty that they will be understood what was the most proper manner in the sense which he pretended to of addressing the Supreme Being. affix them.

« Love,” said he, “and you may adPrecision is another quality of dress him afterwards as you please.” letter-writing, which seldom can be This expression may be properly dispensed with, unless we choose to applied to lovers and to friends. dispense with propriety; for it re- He who writes under the impulse quires no argument to shew, that we of the heart may say every thing he cannot make our thoughts or wishes pleases, and in what manner he understood too soon. Precision, pleases. Nothing can displease : however, differs from ease and per- nothing can be out of place; or, at spicuity in this principal feature, least, nothing will appear to be so. that the latter qualities of style Love is blind, and friendship is inbelong to letters of every possible dulgent. description, while precision is con Rules and instructions can avail fined to a certain class. It is a class, us, therefore, only in letters, which however, that embraces all the dif- participate of neither of tlrese affecferent species' of letter-writing, ex tions ; they are useful, however, in cept two, namely, those of love and

every other species of epistolary friendship. The truth of what Gres

communication; for in all, except set says, will be quickly recognized these two alone, precision is not by every lover:

only a merit, but a strict obligation.

Prolixity is inconvenience, and difL'esprit n'est jamais las d'ecrire,

fusion, verbiage. Lorsque le cæur est de moitié.

Precision, however, must not lead When the hand, therefore, only us to obscurity. Extremes meet, obeys the impulse of the heart, a let- and obscurity is generally the result ter may, without inconvenienre, ex- of too much precision. tend to four pages. Love deliglits J'evite d'etre long, et je deviens obscur. in affections, protestations, and repetitions. Should its inattentive pen This should be carefully avoided. retrace incessantly the same ardours, To transform a commission which the same oaths, bagatelles, and even we give, a fact which we relate, an

idea which we communicatė, or a the most indulgent hearer ; but to sentiment which we express, into him who peruses a letter, it is still an enigma, is evidently to mistake more intolerable. He who reads is the principal intention of epistolary sooner disgusted than he who hears, commerce. Obscurity, however, is because he perceives more calmly, not the only, ill that results from and, consequently more clearly, the extreme precision ; for it likewise absurdity of such affectation. The degenerates into dryness and in- brief style, or, in other words, that sipidity; another rock from which style which unites brevity with prothe letter - writer should carefully priety of expression, is, therefore, keep aloof. He who speaks wishes peculiarly

adapted to epistolary comto be heard; he who writes wishes munications. We should reject those to be read; and as we quickly move parentheses, which interrupt the printhe cup from our lips if it has not cipal sense by unnecessary ideas, and some tincture of sweetness, so also which embarrass it, under the preis the attention soon wearied, if not tence of rendering it more evident. supported by a certain agrément, or if a developement be necessary, let felicity of style. We must not, how it follow in the next sentence, rather ever, seek to captivate attention by than suffer it to arrest the progress those measured, harmonious periods of the discourse. from which the orator derives such Finally, the epistolary style should important advantage.

be light, but not bonnding ; rapid, Long and sonorous periods, in a but not laconic; and free, but not familiar conversation, would fatigue licentious.

SKETCHES FROM NATURE,

No. 3.

rove

(The Sequel of No. 1. Vol. 81. p. 410.) It was on a calm and placid even and it was in vain I strove against ing at the close of the year, when I it. The forms, that moved around rambled forth, after a few months' me, appeared not to be actuated by absence, in the neighbourhood of the animation and spirit of life, but the spot that was endeared to my passed and repassed mechanically; recollection by the eventful exit of even the occasional glances of beauthe unfortunate young officer. It tiful bright eyes, as the light form had been my intention to of rural beauty glided by me, were through some of the delightful and insufficient to call my mind from the enchanting walks with which it gloom of departed days ; --- there abounds, and meditate on the amaz thought seemed to settle, and under ing power, and infinite benevolence the impulse of this feeling I resolved of Deity, displayed as they are, more on visiting the spot, that

was doubly legibly in scenery like this; what hallowed, as the altar where the matchless skill may we not trace in pledge of earliest love had first been the formation of the majority of in- offered, and since having become sects, that dart continually to and fro the resting-place of one of those in the sun-beams, unable to contain youthful wretched beings:-a tear themselves for very excess of happi- stood in my eye as I thought on what ness ;---oh! how the heart leaps with they were on what they are on joy to witness their dwarf but not their hapless love (as Marianne emthe less positive pleasure; six thou- phatically termed it) a love so tender sand years, and day by day of each, so true--and sodisastrous.Istood hath 'his beneficent eye beheld my beside the grave with a degree of riads of myriads feasting on his solemn veneration – it was newly bounty; oh! blest employment! made the turf was neat and flouworthy of a God !

rishing - here and there might be But there was a tint of melancholy, seen the faded flowers, that the kind that involuntarily associated itself hand of affection or delicate friendwith these gratifying meditations, ship had scattered round it.--A neat

[ocr errors]

and unobtrusive head-stone bore (oy vain. My imagination bore me back "his own particular desire) this in to that period, when he was pouring scription :

forth his soul to Marianne a few

moments ere he breathed his last' In memory of Lieut. William H.

The hand that so fervently clasped Aet. 20, Obiit. May 16, 1812. « In the midst of life we are in death."

her is powerless ---the eye that so

fondly marked her is closed, ---the It was one of those mementos that tongue, the vehicle of thought, is -speak to the heart, having for its ob- mute.---and the bosom, that beat with ject not so much the eulogy of the the glow of purest and fondest emodead, as the benefit of the living; tion, that throbbed so wildly, that and was a tribute of warmest affec- foreboded so darkly, that loved so tion, not the offering of heartless tenderly--is quiet as the turf that ostentation.

coldly wraps it. · On a small eminence, a few yards The clanking monotone of the to the right, stood the little yew-tree church-yard gate, swinging to and of which, on his death-bed, he spoke fro on its worn hinges, warned me with such deep and animated feeling of an intruder. It was poor Joseph -it was fresh and green, and the the sexton---a feeble, grey-headed, gentle zephyr sighed as it swept infirm, old man; who, even in the through its foliage. The setting winter of his days, seemed to possun was half buried in the horizon, sess the spirit and vivacity of spring and his shorn beams fell obliquely --not that he was (as many of his on this interesting little mound- calling are) devoid of feeling; but, thus too he shone upon their earliest possessing that generous warm-heartvows ; then it was in the spring, ed disposition that glows at the hapwhen all nature seemed bursting in- piness of another, he had never been to life ; and all in unison ;—the bud- long without catching the spirit of ding trees—the verdant turf- the sympathy from some blest companion opening flowers—the joyous birds or acquaintance, when there was nothe southern winds--spoke with one thing in his own circumstances to general voice of future bliss ---but call forth his feelings of exhilaration ; not for them--there seemed, to my and, moreover, the “ lines having mind, to have been something omi. fallen to him," for the most part, nous in the situation: it was a fool. “ in pleasant places,” if he had not ish thought, earth is a field of graves met with much in his career to eleevery step we take we tread on vate him, he had experienced little human dust. Now, the same peace to depress him. He was the chroniwas written on the face of nature; cler of the village,-reputed a calcubut it appeared more like the peace lator of destinies, caster of births, of death than the quiet harmony of watcher on St. Mark's ere, and was blest existence. The sear and yellow generally supposed to be aware of leaves fled, one by one, in silence to the deaths and marriages of the comthe ground ;—the brown enclosures ing year ; it was even currently reof late gathered corn---the chilly air ported he kept a register, that took a ---the leaves of various flowers wi- prospective view of these important thered and strown---the desolation occurrences. that was creeping over all-only Anxious to learn something conthe yew-tree, with its graves beneath, cerning the fate of Marianne, 1 stepwas still the same.

ped towards him, and entered into I thought on the youth who slept conversation. “ Yours is a rural beneath my feet--on the quiet repose plot of ground--a place which, after he now enjoyed---and I could not all the storms of life, the proud and but contrast the tumultuous tenor of the ambitious might well covethis bustling life with the stillness of where the melancholy and plaintive his grave-his melancholy presenti-heart might desire to be laid, and ments have now met their sad reali- calmly sleep the sleep of death." zation---and that heart which but a “ Aye, aye, sir," was his reply.--few months ago was wildly agitated “we've a pretty bit of ground enough with gloomy doubts and fears, is at ---and many's the weary heart that sest now---the mightiest waves of sleeps soundly under it. I've known human weal or woe sweep over it in some in my days," continued he, his

« AnteriorContinuar »