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Bot only persuaded the upholsterer to release Kelly, but, to punish the citizen for his unjust and ungenerous arrest, he borrowed two hundred pounds of him.
One more extraordinary anecdote of this singular compound of genius and carelessness, and we have done. Pizarro was brought forward as the stay and prop of Drury; all the boxes were bespoke and the scenery prepared; and still Kelly had not been supplied with one word of the songs for which he was to compose music, and the half-distracted composer dunned the bard in vain. Some hope was afforded by a summons at ten o'clock one evening, when Sheridan carried him off from a choice party just at the sweetest hour of the night, but it was only to show him the Temple of the Sun, through the vapours of a large bowl of negus which the bard had planted in the critics' row of the empty pit. At length they got to work and a curious process it was. 'Here,' said Sheridan, ' I design a procession of the virgins of the sun, with a solemn hymn.' Kelly sung a bar or two suitable for the occasion.
'He (Sheridan) then made a sort of rumbling noise with his voice, (for he had not the slightest idea of turning a tune,) resembling a deep, gruff bow, wow, wow; but though there was not the slightest resemblance of an air in the noise he made, yet so clear were his ideas of effect, that I perfectly understood his meaning, though conveyed through the medium of a bow, wow, wow.'—Kelly, vol. ii. pp. 145, 146.
Cora's song Sheridan did supply; and Kelly got some songwright to do the rest after the ideas which he had collected from these ' bow, wow, wows.' By the way, the choral hymn of these same virgins, vol. ii. p. 193., the same which iu Peeping Tom is set to the words of Pretty Maud, is erroneously termed by Mr. Kelly a Scotch air. It is an English ballad of the reign of George I., on the catastrophe of the celebrated pirate, beginning 'My name is Captain Kidd, When I sail'd, when I sail'd, &c.' At last, while Pizarro was in the act of being performed, 'all that was written of the play was actually rehearsing, and incredible as it may appear, until the end of the fourth act, neither Mrs. Siddons, nor Charles Kemble, nor Barrymore, had all their speeches for the fifth! Mr. Sheridan was up stairs in the prompter's room, where he was writing the last part of the play, while the earlier parts were acting; and every ten minutes he brought down as much of the dialogue as he had done, piecemeal, into the green-room, abusing himself and his negligence, and making a thousand winning and soothing apologies, for having kept the performers so long in such painful suspense.'—Kelly, vol. ii. pp. 146, 147.
Talk after this of being hunted with printer's devils, with ' more copy, sir—the press stands;' pshaw.
• There are good anecdotes of many literary characters in this amusing miscellany. Some mistakes there must be: such, for example, is the statement that Mr. Lewis, author of the Monk, was poisoned by two favourite negroes, to whom he had bequeathed their liberty, and who became impatient for their legacy. That amiable, though odd man, died of sea-sickness as he returned from visiting his estate in the West Indies,* where it is most certain he had exerted himself to improve the condition of his slaves. The disease was aggravated by his persisting in a fatal opinion of his own, that taking emetics would remove the nausea. . , There is a very diverting account of a party at Mr. Cumberland's, near Tunbridge, with Jack Bannister; how the veteran read the Men of Mirth, a new play, instead of opening a fresh bottle; how Kelly fell asleep during the reading; and what effect his snoring produced on the sensitive nerves of the poet; with much more to the same purpose. , ■
Mr. Kelly's style of story-telling is smart and lively, a little protracted now and then, as will happen to a professed narrator. In point of propriety we have only one stricture to make: the author ought to have spared us his sentimental lamentation over poor Mrs. Crouch; it is too much in the line of Kotzebue morality. We never wish to press ourselves into the private intrigues and arrangements of public performers, but the joys or sorrows which attend such connections must not be blazoned as matters of public sympathy. There is bad taste in doing so. Mr. Kelly has told us many good stories, we beg to requite him with one of Northern growth. A young man in the midland counties of Scotland, boorishly educated and home-bred, succeeded in due time to his father's estate, and, as the lairdship was considerable, began to be looked on as desirable company in the houses of those prudent matrons who have under their charge one, or more than one,
"Penniless lass, wi' a lang pedigree." One of this class, a lady of considerable rank, was, in the intervals of a formal entertainment, endeavouring to make the wealthy young cub a little more at ease by the ordinary jokes on his celibacy, and exhortations to take a wife with all speed. The interest which her ladyship seemed to take in the matter induced the sapient youth to explain his ideas of domestic convenience in these emphatic words, drawled out in the broad Angus dialect, without the least sense of impropriety, ' Na, my leddy; wives is
* ' I would give many a sugar-cane Monk Lewis were alive again.'
Lord Byron (MS.).'
•■ • •'■ ■ Q4 •' 'fashions
fashious bargains—but I keep a missie.' We leave the application to the Signior Kelly. * A variety of persons are mentioned in Kelly's Memoirs, whose public exhibitions have given an hour of pleasure to conclude the human day of care, and who in their private capacity have enlight" ened the social circle, and afforded gravity itself a good excuse for being out of bed at midnight. Of these some are still labouring in their old walk; Liston, for example, whose face is a comedy, and whose mere utterance makes a jest out of dullness itself; and Charles Mathews, driven from the public stage to make way for puppets and pageants, and compelled to exert his talents, so extraordinary for versatility and inexhaustible resource, in making his own fortune instead of enriching the patentees. Others enjoy a well-won independence in the quiet shade of retirement. There is Jack Bannister, honest Jack, who in private character, as upon the stage, formed so excellent a representation of the national character of Old England—Jack Bannister, whom even foot-pads could not find it in their heart to injure.* There he is, with his noble locks now as remarkable when covered with snow as when their dark honours curled around his manly face, singing to his grand-children the ditties which used to call down the rapture of crowded theatres in thunders of applause. There is the other Jack too, who discriminated every class and character of his countrymen, with all the shades which distinguish them, from the higb> bred Major O'Flanagan down to Looney Mac Twolter—he too enjoys otium cum dignitate. The recollection of past mirth has in it something sorrowful; the friends with whom we have shared it are gone; and those who promoted the social glee must feel their powers of enlivening decrease as we feel ours become less susceptible of excitement. Others there are mentioned in these pages whom ' our dim eyes seek in vain;' their part has been played; the awful curtain has dropped on them for ever.
Art. XI.— The History of England, from the Invasion of Julius Cesar to the Revolution of 1688. By David Hume, Esq. New Edition. London. 1825.
XI/HATEVER opinions may be entertained respecting the
faith which ought to be placed in a modern narrative of
ancient history, there is, generally speaking, hardly any doubt
concerning the truth of the materials from whence the composition
* This distinguished performer and best of good fellows was actually stopped one evening by two foot-pads, who recognizing in his person the general favourite of the English audience, begged his pardon and wished him good night. Horace's wolf was a joke to this.
is derived. Perhaps the inferences of the writer may be deuiedy or his arguments may be deemed fallacious, but the sources of his work are admitted, without contest, as authentic testimonies. We are sufficiently careful to guard against the errors of the author, particularly when the subject is such as to offer a probability of his being either deceived himself, or inclined to deceive his readers, a misled follower or a fallacious guide. Should any suspicions arise, we contest his qualifications, we examine his principles, we ask for his creed. And if we are disposed to try the history by the severest test, we compare it with the 'original authorities,' and we examine whether the facts which rest upon ancient evidence are fairly and faithfully recited or rendered. If the author's text and the 'authorities' which he quotes are found to agree, we are satisfied. After this investigation has been performed our inquiries end. The vigilance awakened by the modern Historian is rarely excited by the ancient Chronicler. Upon our ancestors we willingly bestow the faith which we withdraw from our contemporaries, and consider all as ' very sooth' which has the venerable sanction of grave antiquity. !,'..'. ■ Our disinclination to examine into the positive veracity and comparative value of the ancient sources of ancient history may be easily explained. The individuals who flourished in the many, long, remote centuries, which we denote by the comprehensive term of the ' middle ages,' are so essentially distinguished by language, manner and mind, from the individuals of the living age, that they seem to form but one class when contrasted with our contemporaries. All minor distinctions amongst them are lost in the general conformity. The Nun of Sion prays beside the Benedictine Monk of Lindisfarne. Mailed crusaders unite with the ranks of the gallant chivalry of the Tilt Yard. Plantagenets and Tndors meet in the same presence-chamber. The interval by which they are separated from us, appears to place all their forms at the same distance. All are equally uncouth and strange. Enveloped alike in mist and gloom, we are impressed with a vague idea of remoteness, and we do not sufficiently measure the gradations in which they recede.
Hume, in the first chapters of his history, affords a curious exemplification of the deceptions thus produced by the aerial perspective of the mind. It might be anticipated that the author of the Essay on Miracles would have prefaced his historical inquiries by carefully scrutinizing the value of his authorities. In endeavouring to establish his facts by an appeal to historical testimony, we might have expected some recollection of his own rules. We have been taught by him to attend to the character of the witnesses, to balance every circumstance which can occasion
doubt, doubt, and to mark every cause of suspicion. Such, however, is far from being his mode of proceeding, when he had occasion to practise his own maxims. Hume has not even observed the obvious rule of avoiding to adduce secondary evidence when an original witness can be obtained. At the foot of his pages we have, certainly, a cabbalistic array of names, and syllables, and figures; but this host of quotations can only betray the reader into a belief that the history has resulted from a careful comparison of testimonies. A more minute examination of the authorities will dispel our reliance on the judgment of the historian. Without any selection, any attempt at discrimination, we find the Saxon Chronicle and Florence of Worcester, William of Malmesbury, Ralph Higden and Matthew of Westminster, all considered as the vouchers for the events of the reign of the Confessor, and, apparently, with equal confidence and satisfaction. Yet, how different are the grounds upon which they are to be trusted !—The Saxon Chronicle may be considered, in this portion, as coeval with the events which it relates.—Florence of Worcester, in the corresponding sections of his Latin Chronicle, is merely a translator of the Saxon Chronicle; and his version, though of great importance in affording an assistance to the right interpretation of the Anglo-Saxon text, is without any weight if quoted as cumulative testimony.—William of Malmesbury, removed but by one generation from the Anglo-Saxon age, was enabled to consult authorities which cannot be traced in any other ancient historian.—Ralph Higden flourished towards the close of the reign of Edw. III., and his Chronicle, a new edition of a compilation formed by Roger, of Chester, who wrote a few years before, consists entirely of excerpts from original writers, all of which are extant, connected by his own remarks and annotations.—Matthew of Westminster is a phantom who never existed.—If such an uncritical use of ancient authorities was made by Hume, a reasoner gifted with singular acuteness and sagacity, and trained and exercised in the very school of scepticism, we may well account for the impression usually received respecting those passages of history which are as familiar to us as household words. The authorities being all admitted to be valid, it follows as a necessary consequence that the facts remain unchallenged. Adventures inseparably associated to well-known names; deeds which have been recounted to us from our earliest childhood; monarchs whose grim imaginary portraitures have been presented to us so often that we recognize them as easily as the countenances of our own parents, form the popular materials and characters of popular history. Seldom do they offer themselves in such a guise as to excite any degree of hesitation. The utmost • > extent