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ther becomes at last neglected; character first gives way to polish, polish by little and little carries away solidity; and all the community, who are to be acted upon in this way, are at length in danger of resembling so much worn-out coin, which has not only lost the features upon it, and grown blank by attrition, but begins to be weighed and found wanting even for the common purposes of society.
As far then as our observations on manners go, it will be our endeavour to counteract this extreme. Our mode of proceeding will be best explained by itself; but we shall endeavour to set men, not upon disliking smoothness, but avoiding insipidity,--not upon starting into roughness, but overcoming a flimsy sameness,—and this too, not by pretending to characters which they have not, but by letting their own be seen as far as they possess them, and once more having faces to know them by.
Taste, as was inevitable, has sympathized completely with this superficial state of manners.' In proportion as the community were all to resemble each other, and to have faces and manners in common, their self-love was not to be disturbed by any thing in the shape of individuality. A writer might be natural, but he was to be natural only as far as their sense of nature would go, and this was not a great way. Besides, even when he was natural, he hardly dared to be so in language as well as idea; there gradually came up a kind of dress, in which a man's mind as well as body was to clothe itself; and the French, whose sophisticated taste had been first introduced by political dircumstances, saw it increasing every day under the characteristic title of polite criticism, till they condescended to acknowledge that we were behaving ourselves well,—that Mr. Pope was a truly harmonious poet, and that Mr. Addison's Cato made amends for the barbarism of Shakspeare. The praises indeed bestowed by the French in these and similar instances, went in one respect to a fortunate cxtreme, and tended to rouse a kind of national contradiction, which has perhaps not been without its effect in keeping a better spirit alive: but it must not be concealed, that both Shakspeare and Milton have owed a great part of their reputation, of late years, to causes which, though of a distinct nature, have been unconnected with a direct poetical taste. I alluele to the art of acting with regard to the former, and to certain doctrines of religion with respect to the latter, both of which have no more to do with the finer spirit of either poet, than a jack-o-lantern or a jugged hare. Milton still remains unknown to the better classes, in comparison with succeeding writers; and Chaucer and Spenser, the two other great poets
of England, who have had no such recommendations to the pursuits or prejudices of society, are scarcely known at all, especially with any thing like an apprehension of their essential qualities. Chaucer is considered as a rude sort of poet, who wrote a vast while ago, and is no longer intelligible; and Spenser, a prosing one, not quite so old, who wrote nothing but allegories. They startle to hear, that the latter has very little need of the glossary, and is dipt in poetic luxury; and that the former, besides being intelligible with a little attention, is in some respects a kindred spirit with Shakspeare for gravity as well as for mirth, and full of the most exquisite feeling of all kinds, even to the pathetic. It is curious indeed to see the length to which the levelling spirit in manners, and the coxcomical sort of exclusiveness it produces, have carried people in their habitual ideas of writers not of their generation. Nothing is young and in full vigour but themselves. Shakspeare may enjoy a lucky perpetuity of lustihood by means of school-compilations and stage-players; and Milton, in their imaginations, is a respectable middle-aged gentleman, something like the clergyman who preaches on Sundays;-but Spenser is exceedingly quaint and rusty: and Chaucer is nothing but old Chaucer or honest Geoffrey, which is about as pleasant, though not intended to be so, as the lover's address to the sun in the Gentle Shepherd:
And if ye're wearied, honest light,
Sleep, gin ye like, a week that night. You will even find them talking, with an air of patronage, of having found something good now and then in these old writers, ---meaning the great masters above mentioned, and the working heads that were in the time of Shakspeare. They evidently present them to their minds as so many old gentlemen and grandfathers, half-doating; and for aught I know, would think of Apollo himself in the same way, if it were not for Tooke's Pantheon or an occasional plaster cast. As if perpetual youth, instead of age, was not the inheritance of immortal genius! As if a great poet could ever grow old, as long as Nature herself was young!
But I must restrain myself on this subject, or I shall exceed my limits. The reader will see that we are prepared to say a great deal of “ these old poets;" and we are so, not because they are old, but because they are beautiful and ever fresh. We shall also do as much for some of the old prose writers; and endeavour, by means of both, and of the universal principles which inspired them, to wean the general taste, as far as we can, from the lingering influence of the French school back again to that of the English, or in other words, from the poetry of modes and fashions to that of fancy, and feeling, and all-surviving nature. We have had enough, in all conscience, of men who talk away, and write smoothly, and everlastingly copy each other; let us, in the name of variety, if of nothing else, have a little of men, who held it necessary to think and speak for themselves,-men who went to the fountain-head of inspiration, where the stream wept and sparkled away at its pleasure, and not where it was cut away into artificial channels, and sent smoothing up, pert and monotonous, through a set of mechanical pipes and eternallyrepeated images.
On the subject of morals, which is one that requires the nicest development, and will be treated by us with proportionate care nd sincerity, we shall content ourselves with saying at present, that if we differ on this point also from the opinions of our predecessors and others, it is only where we think them hurtful to the real interests of charity and selfknowledge, and where they have made a compromise, to no real purpose, with existing prejudices. On this point, as well as on manners, we shall endeavour to pierce below the surface of things, but only to fetch out what we conceive to be a more valuable substance, and fitter for the kindlier purposes of intercourse. We may disturb the complacency of some exquisitely self-satisfied persons, and startle into a God-blessne or so (which we should be sorry to do over their tea-cups) a number of worthy people who lament that every body does not resemble them: but the world have too long, even when most professing to be charitable, been taught to value them. selves at the expense of others; and perhaps in our old zeal for the many instead of the few, we shall endeavour to reserve this kind of beginning at home, and exhort them to think somewhat better of others, even at a little expense to themselves.
In short, to recommend an independent simplicity in manners, a love of nature in taste, and truth, generosity, and selfknowledge in morals, will be the object, dining or fastįng, with hlade in hand or with pen, of the knights of the round table.*
THE VENUS DE MEDICIS. (From the Giornale Enciclopedico, a magazine published at Florence.) It is generally known that one of the fingers of the left hand of the Venus de Medicis has been supplied by a modern artist: every circumstance, however trifling, which relates to this mas
* We intend to publish the succeeding numbers of this work:
ter-piece of antiquity, justly considered as the wonder of art, must necessarily be interesting to the public; and our readers will not be displeased to learn how the finger was broken, especially as none of the writers who have spoken of this famous work have taken any notice of it.
In the time of Cosmo the third, grand duke of Tuscany, lord Ossory being in Florence, was one day, in the company of the grand duke, contemplating this wonderful statue, and offered him an hundred thousand livres for it, if he could be induced to part with it, asking two months time to procure the sum of money from England, and adding that a ship should be sent from thence expressly for the purpose of conveying it. The grand duke smiled at the proposal, but without making any reply, turned towards the marquis Malaspina, who was present, and desired him to note down his lordship's name; and the affair ended as a piece of pleasantry.
Lord Ossory had a red cornelian ring, representing a cu. pid, which the grand duke, having seen it some days before, had admired so much, that his lordship wished to make him a present of it. His highness however would not accept it; and upon this occasion the Englishman, with a delicate generosity, requested Cosmo, though he would not consent to part with the Venus, at least to permit him to marry her; to which the grand duke having smilingly consented, his lordship put the ring on the finger of the goddess, and fixed it as firmly as possible;* thus finding means to gratify the duke with the cornelian, without wounding his self-love. Cosmo thinking the representation of Cupid agreeable to the subject of the statue, suffered the ring to remain; and the statue would still have been adorned with it, had not a certain personage, wisely resolving to remove from the finger of Venus this heterogeneous addition, clandestinely entered the gallery one day, and attempted to appropriate the ring to hiinself, when being obliged to force it off, and fearful perhaps that he might be surprised, the finger was broken.
We should like to know the name of this person, how the attempt became known, and if, with the finger, he really succeeded in taking away the ring also: but the document from which we have taken these circumstances goes no farther; it only mentions that the ring is still preserved, and is appended
Not having the statue before us, we cannot say precisely which is the funger that appears to have been joined; but we understand from some of our artists that it is the fore-finger, which leads us to conclude that the Englisla nobleman was acquainted with the ancient practice of wearing the nuptial ring on that finger: the opinion prevailed amongst the Greeks and Románs, and perhaps some may still maintain it, that there is a small nerve which connects that finger with the heart.
to a little gold chain in the chrystal cabinet of the royal gał. lery; and all that we can say in addition is, that the Venus de Medicis, mutilated, will remain a perpetual monument of the inadvertency of this personage.
(The Italian journalist, in a note, seems to hint that this ungallant attempt at petty larceny was committed by some foreigner of distinguished rank.]
(From Chateaubriunds Beauties.) THERE is no power but in conviction.-What wonders a small band of troops, persuaded of the abilities of their leader, is capable of achieving! Thirty-five thousand Greeks follow Alexander to the conquest of the world; Lacedæmon commits her destiny to the hands of Lycurgus, and Lacedæmon becomes the wisest of cities; Babylon believes that she is formed for greatness, and greatness crowns her confidence; an oracle gives the empire of the universe to the Romans, and the Romans obtain the empire of the universe; Columbus alone, among all his contemporaries, persists in believing the existence of a new world, and a new world rises from the bosom of the deep. Friendship, patriotism, love, all the generous sentiments, are likewise a species of faith. It was because they had faith that a Codrus, a Pylades, a Regulus, an Arria, performed prodigies. For the same reason those, who have faith in nothing, who treat all the attachments of the soul as illusions, who consider every noble action as insanity, and look with pity upon the warm imagination and tender sensibility of genius—for the same reason such hearts will never achieve any thing great or generous: their only belief is in matter and in death, and they are already insensible as the one, and cold and icy as the other.
TRIUMPHS AND TROPHIES IN COOKERY, TO BE USED AT FESTI
VAL TIMES, AS TWELFTH-DAY, &c.
(From an old work entitled “ The Accomplisht Cook.") “ Make the likeness of a ship in pasteboard, with flags and streamers, the guns belonging to it of kickses, binde them about with packthred, and cover them with coarse paste proportionable to the fashion of a cannon with carriages, lay them in places convenient, as you see them in ships of war; with such holes and trains of powder that they may all take fire; place your ship firm in a great charger; then make a salt round about it, and stick therein egg-shells full of sweet water; you may, by a great pin, take out all the meat out of the egg by