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THE LAMENT FOB THJRTEU.
A loud Lament is heard in town—a voice of sad complaining—
The sorrow Whig is high and big, and there is no restraining.
The great Lord Mayor, in civic chair, weeps thick as skeins of cotton,
And wipes his eyes with huckaback, sold by his own begotten.
Alas, says he, thy thread of life is snapt by sheers of Clothor
And a winding sheet, a yard-yard-wide, enwraps thee, O, my brother!
Howl, buff and blue ! of that dear crew, whose brows the patriot myrtle
Shades, for Harmodius Thistlewood! Howl, howl for Whig Jack Thurtell!
The doves and rooks who meet at Brooks', sob loudly, fast, and faster,
Lord Byron, gentleman is he, who writes for good Don Juan,
He was a Whig—a true, true Whig—all property he hated
In funds or land, in purse or hand,—tithed, salaried, or estatcd.
When he saw a fob, he itch'd to rob, the genuine whiggish feeling;
No matter what kind was the job, fraud, larceny, cheating, stealing.
Were he a peer our proud career he'd rule in mansion upper,
In the Lower House, behind him Brougham would amble on the crupper,
Like Bennet Grey, or Scarlet J. he'd wield the poleaxe curtal
(My rhymes are out) 'gainst Ministers! Alas! for Whig Jack Thurtell!
"What aileth thee, Xarifa, what makes thine eyes look down?
The Zegri lady rose not, nor laid her cushion down,
Nor came she to the window to gaze with all the town ;—
But though her eyes dwelt on her knee, in vain her fingers strove,
And though her needle press'd the silk, no flower Xarifa wove;
One bonny rose-bud she had traced, before the noise drew nigh—
That bonny bud a tear effaced, slow dropping from her eye.
"No—no," she sighs—" bid me not rise, nor lay my cushion down,
To gaze upon Andalla with all the gazing town."—
"Why rise ye not, Xarifa, nor lay your cushion down?
This book was originally announced to the public, if we mistake not, under the title of " The Youth of Reginald Dalton;" and we wish that title had been preserved, for it properly expresses the real aim and object of the work. The author, whoever he may be, is a man of a singularly powerful and original mind, widely versed in literature and book-knowledge, and keenly observant of human nature, as displayed on the stuge of the world. There is a force and vigour in his style of thinking and writing, not excelled by any man of this age; and often, too, an elegance, a gracefulness, and a beauty, that come charmingly in among his more forceful delineations, and shew that he could, if he would, be equally effective in the touching and pathetic. He pours out all his thoughts, feelings, observations, remarks, fancies, whims, caprices, follies, sarcasms, and jocularities, with the same easy, we had almost said careless, spirit of lavish profusion. He seldom remains long on one key, but he strikes it strongly, till the corresponding chord in the heart vibrates to its centre. He rarely seems anxious to work up any effect, but seizes the main interest of the feeling or incident which he is dealing with; and having brought it out boldly, he proceeds forthwith on his career, and hurries forwards with a free, and sometimes impatient consciousness of strength, among new scenes, new emotions, and new characters. Accordingly, he is never wearisome nor languid; never exhausts a passion either in himself, the agents in his history, or his readers, but, by a constant succession of various feelings springing out of each other, keeps the scene busy, and the imagination on the alert, infusing life, spirit, bustle, and vivacity throughout the work during its whole progress, and almost always becoming, when he ceases to be impressive and impassioned, excessively amusing and entertaining,—and when he leaves the deeper feelings of our nature, almost always glancing over the surface of life with a truly engaging spirit of youthful elasticity, and a beaming freshness of youthful enjoyment that inspires cheerful sympathy, and makes one in love with the every
day world. It is evident that the volumes are written by one who, in the strength and prime of manhood, has not yet lost the animation and lightheartedness of youth. There is nothing young in the opinions, the reflections, the views of human life, when the writer addresses himself seriously and solemnly to the stronger and permanent principles of action in our nature, but there is much that is delightfully juvenile—puerile, if yon will—in the by-play, the under-plot, the inferior incidents, and the depicting of the various auxiliary characters,—and the gravest and most formal personage that ever wore gown or wig, at bar, in pulpit, or in bench, roust surely relax the sternness of his physiognomy at many of the ludicrous details of occurrences in stage-coaches, college-rows, gaucleamuses, and snug parties of well-educated wine-bibbers, and erudite devourers of the fat of the land, that permeate the book almost from beginning to end, and alternate most effectively with matters of very serious import, namely,with the sorrows of fatherly affection, the desolation of blasted hope, the agonies of repentant dissipation and prodigality, the cleaving curse of folly, the agonies and transports of baffled or requited love, and all the host of undistinguishable passions that often storm the soul of youth, and crowd into a few years at much delight and as much despair as is afterwards enjoyed or suffered between twenty and the tomb.
Now, it is pretty obvious, that in a book written on such principles, and by such an author, various faults of considerable magnitude, and of no unfrequent recurrence, will be found. For, in the first place, it is not always possible to escape in good time from the extreme levity, and the joyful absurdities of reckless boyhood or youth; and in indulging, con aware, in such strains of description, a writer, with a keen sense of the frolicsome, the ludicrous, and the piquant, must be in perpetual danger of offending, either by the untimely introduction of such mirthful topics, or by their undue prolongation, or by " a certain spice" of them remaining behind, even after a serious, solemn, or affecting appeal has been made to the better and higher feelings. This, we think, frequently happens throughout these volumes. The current of deeper emotion is too often checked or diverted; and although the book may not, on that account, be a less true picture of human life, nevertheless we expect human Kfe, in all its varieties, to be something different, in a work of imagination, from what it is in reality. This author occasionally destroys his most complete and powerful illusions, as if he did so, either on purpose to startle and perplex, or because he himself really felt less at the time, than the readers, over whom his genius prevailed, and were more indifferent than they ever could be to the beings of his own creation.
• Reginald Dalton. By the Author of Valerius and Adam Blair. 3vols. W. Blackwood, Edinburgh, and T. Cadcll, London. 1824.
But farther—the humour—the wit —the fun and frolic—the grotesque and the ludicrous—are sometimes not only out of place, but not very good in themselves, or if very good, yet not of a kind precisely which one is in the habit of meeting with in handsomely printed works in three thick volumes. Ever and anon our author waxeth facetious on other authors alive and merry like himself, deals out little biting and pinching quips modest, right and left, apparently without malice or meditation, but in ra&cegaietiducceur. When he is in such moods, whatever comes uppermost, out it goes, so that more than once we thought we were reading this Magazine, and that Reginald Dalton was no other than Christopher North, in the gown of an under-graduate. Perhaps the names of about twenty living persons of eminence occur in a work which is one of mere fiction, and it is impossible to tell how strange is the effect of these flesh-and-blood gentlemen dining or drinking, or sitting on coach-boxes, or being introduced to Reginald Dalton and his fellow-phantoms. Instead of throwing an air of reality, and truth, and good faith over the narrative, it breaks the spell most teazingly, and more than once we have laid down our volume with a " says a frown to a smile," ratherangry at being bammed and trotted by this capricious, wayward, and incurable quizzer.
To be done, for the present, with our enumeration of faults, we must take the liberty of hinting to this author, that, in the midst of his powerful, eloquent, and idiomatic English, he, too often, lets slip words, phrases,
epithets, and modes of expression, that border upon the coarse and vulgar— grate upon the ear at least, if not upon the mind, and occasionally impair, in some measure, the beauty of his most overwhelming or exquisite descriptions. Perhaps something of this is unavoidable in a style so natural, bold, and flowing; but the tendency to it may at least be controlled; and if we are offended by such macula? in his next work, we shall present him with a list of those in the present, some of which he will be surprised at and correct, while probably he will suffer others to remain, that they may furnish matter for philological criticism to the "influential" writers in the New Monthly, and other periodical lights of our southern hemisphere.
The purpose of this original and powerful writer, is to paint a bold portrait of the youth of a well-born, well-educated Englishman. He is not to place him in any very conspicuous or commanding situation, to bring over, and around him, the pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war, to envelope him in the light of genius, or to endow him with the power and privilege of exalted rank, but to shew him, as a youth of good birth, fair prospects, excellent talents, strong feelings,—and then to let him take his choice for good or for evil among the causes for ever at work to shape out our destiny. Perhaps there rarely ever existed one individual, of any strong powers of thinking and feeling, the history of whose youth would not, in many respects, be extremely interesting. Independent of the workings of heart and spirit, and the formation and fluctuation of character, it would probably exhibit not a few impressive and interesting, perhaps striking and remarkable incidents, either in itself, or intimately connected with it, or with the fates and fortunes of other families. Accordingly, Reginald Dalton is represented as the son of a country rector, and we are first made acquainted with him, while yet living under the loving tuition of his father, a widower, whose heart was wholly bound up in Reginald, his only son. During half of the first volume, we become so far acquainted with this retired ecclesiastic, and his concerns, as to feel no ordinary interest both in him and Reginald. We learn that an ample and
old hereditary estate.
We cannot but give one extract
Reginald Dalton. Uan-Grypherwast- as to conceal that he had looked into the book.
"It was not that Reginald felt any consciousness of having done wrong in opening this packet—that he laboured under any guilty shame—that he was anxious to escape from the detection of meanness. Had twenty letters, addressed to his father, been lying before him with their seals broken, he was entirely incapable of looking into one of them. He had had, at the moment when he opened the packet, no more notion, intention, or suspicion of violating confidence, or intruding upon secrecy, than he should have had in taking down any given volume from the shelves of his father's library. His feeling simply was, that he hastily indeed, and almost involuntarily, but still by his own act, put himself in possession of a certain piece of knowledge, which, for whatever reason, his parent had deemed it proper to withhold from him. To erase the impression that had been made on his mind, on his memory, was impossible; but to save his father the pain of knowing that any such impression had been made there, appeared to be quite possible; and so, without taking time to balance remoter consequences or contingencies, Reginald followed, as I have said, the first motion of a mind, the powers of which had hitherto acknowledged the almost undivided sway of paternal influence, and from no motive but one of filial tenderness for his father's feelings, he endeavoured, as well as he could, to restore to the packet its original appearance.
"Having done so, he awaited his entrance quietly, with a book in his hand. Dinner was served up shortly afterwards, and they quitted the library together, without Mr Dalton's having taken any notice of the packet.
"Soon after the repast was concluded, he rose from the table, and Reginald heard him re-enter the library by himself. Perhaps half an hour might have elapsed, when he rung his bell, and the boy heard him say to the servant who obeyed the summons, ' Go to Master Reginald, and tell him I want to speak with him.'— There was something in the manner of his saying these words that struck Reginald at the moment as unusual; but the man delivered his message with a smiling face, and he persuaded himself, ere he rose to attend his father, that this must have been merely the work of his own imagination.
"When he entered the library, however, he perceived, at one glance, that there was heaviness on his father's brow. S
'Reginald,' he saM, hi a low tone of voice, • I fear yon have been guilty of deceit— you have been trying to deceive your father, my boy—Is it not so?'
"Reginald could not bear the seriousness of his looks, and threw his eyes upon the table before him; he saw the packet lying open there, and then again meeting Mr Dalton's eye, felt himself to be blushing intensely.
"' You need not speak, Reginald,' he proceeded, 'I see how it is. Look, sir, there was a letter in this packet when you opened it, and you dropt it on the floor as you were fastening it again. It is not your opening the packet that I com. plain i»i', but when you tied these cords again, you were telling a lie to your father—Yes, Reginald, you have told a lie this day. I would fain hope it is the first you ever told—I pray God it may be the last! What was your motive?'
"Poor Reginald stood trembling before him—«las! for the misery of deceit! Conscious though he was that he bad meant no wrong—conscious though he was that had be loved his father less tenderly, had he revered him less awfully, be should have escaped this rebuke at least—his tongue was tied, and he could not master courage enough even to attempt vindicating himself by the truth.
* Involuntarily he fell upon his knee, but Mr Dalton instantly bade him rise again.
"' Nay, nay, Reginald, kneel not to me. You humble yourself here, not for the sin, but the detection. Retire to your chamber, my boy, and kneel there to Him who witnessed your offence at the moment it was committed.' He waved his hand as he said so, and Reginald Dalton for the first time quitted his father's presence with a bleeding heart
"By this time the evening was somewhat advanced; but there was still enough of day-light remaining to make him feel his bed-chamber an unnatural place for being in. He sat down and wept like a child by the open window, gazing inertly now and then through his tears upon the beautiful scenery, which had heretofore ever appeared in unison with a serene and happy spirit. With how different eyes did he now contemplate every wellknown feature of the smiling landscape! How dull, dead, oppressive, was the calm of sunset—how melancholy the slow and inaudible waving of the big green boughs —how intolerable the wide steady splendour of the lake md western sky!
"I hope there is no one, who, from the strength and sturdiness of his manhood, can cast back an unmoved eye upVol. XV.
on the softness, the delicacy, the open sensitiveness of a young and virgin heart —who can think without regret of those happy days, when the moral heaven was so uniformly clear, that the least passing vapour was sufficient to invest it with the terrors of gloom—of the pure open bosom that could be shaken to the centre by one grave glance from the eye of affection—of the blessed tears that sprung unbidden, that flowed unscalding,more sweet than bitter—the kindly pang that thrilled and left no scar—the humble gentle sorrow, that was not Penitence—only because it needed not Sin to go before it.
"Reginald did not creep into his bed until the long weary twilight bad given place to a beautiful star-light night By that time his spirits had been effectually exhausted, so that slumber soon took possession of him.
"But he had not slept long ere he was awakened, suddenly, but gently, by a soft trembling kiss on his forehead ; he opened his eyes, and saw Mr Dalton standing near bis bed-side in his dressing-gown. The star-light, that shewed the outline of the figure, came from behind, so that the boy could not see his father's face, and he lay quite quiet on his pillow.
"inn little while Mr Dalton turned away—but ere he did so, the boy heard distinctly, amidst the midnight silence, a whiper of God bleu my child I—Reginald felt that his father had not been able to sleep without blessing him—he felt the reconciling influence fall upon his spirit like a dew from heaven, and be sunk again lightly and softly into his repose."
There are a few other such touching passages as this in the first two hundred pages of the first volume, but sprightliness is their'prevailing character. We are introduced to several of the personages, male and female, who are afterwards to figure in the history. But we never could write an abstract of anything, nor, if we could, would it now benefit our readers, for the merit of this book is not in the story, but in the sentiments, the situations, the descriptions, and the characters.
At page 187, Reginald Dalton leaves Lancashire for Oxford, in the Admiral Nelson coach, which is for a few stages driven by his friend Frederick Chisney, a dashing Christchurch-man, who afterwards plays a conspicuous part in this short eventful history. The journey to Oxford, including a good upset, is given somewhat at too great length, but with infinite spirit; and we are made acquainted with another O