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It has been said that half the sorrows of life are included in the little words “ Too late.” It would be easy, looking only at the outside of things, to make special application of this pregnant truth-easy to moralise on the vanity of human wishes, and to show that Metcalfe had clutched a bauble, which he had yearned for all his life, when he was past the power of enjoying its possession. But they who have read aright the character of the man will make no such application of the aphorism. If Metcalfe had died that night, the honours conferred upon him by the crown would not have come too late. They would not have come too late to convince him-not that he had done his duty, for on that subject the testimony of his conscience was most conclusive--but that what he had done was appreciated by the State which he had so faithfully served. They would not have come too late to assure him that sooner or later, even in this world, such honesty of purpose, such rectitude of conduct, such fidelity to the throne, such love for the people, such abnegation of self, as had distinguished his career of public service, will secure their reward. It would not have come too late to encourage others, and to be a lesson to the world.
Lord Metcalfe remained, however, at his post to the last; he would not leave it while there was work to be done ; but he was dying—dying no less surely for the strong will that sustained him and the vigorous intellect that glowed in his shattered frame. A little while and he might die at his post; but the Queen had graciously expressed her willingness that he should be relieved, his own council besought him to depart, and at last he consented, ere another winter set in, to embark for England. He left the colony, which he had so ably ruled at the turning-point of its career, cheered by a chorus of gratitude and praise swollen by the voices of all parties.
Soon after his return to England, Lord Metcalfe retired to Malshanger. He never took his seat in the House of Lords. The Garter King-ofArms wrote to him, with a formula of the prescribed ceremony; and court robe-makers sought his lordship's patronage. But he smiled sorrowfully as he thought, now that the dreams of his ambitious youth had been realised, and the doors of Parliament thrown wide open to him, that he would never be suffered to cross the threshold.
His patience and fortitude under a severe affliction remained the same to the last. In the words of his biographer, “ All his old tenderness his consideration for others—his pure unselfishness—still beautified his daily life.” He never uttered a word of complaint, and it was a privilege to attend upon one so grateful for small kindnesses, so unwilling to give trouble, and so resigned under every dispensation.
He never betook himself to the sick-room, but, as far as his infirmities would allow him, went about his daily avocations, or rather lived his habitual life, with little outward alteration. He received visits from his friends. He received letters, many suggesting remedies for his disorder, and he dictated answers. His last days were cheered, not only by the sympathy and admiration of his friends, but by expressions of respect and admiration from the Eastern and Western worlds. The Oriental Club voted him an address—the Canadian Council sept another. The Metcalfe Hall, erected in Calcutta by public subscription to commemorate the-to Lord Metcalfe untoward-act of the liberation of the press, was completed, and his bust was placed in it—a worthy memorial of a worthy man.
The dreadful progress of his disease having caused the bursting of a vein in his neck, the hæmorrhage was so alarming that Mr. Martin, who had con. tinued to visit him, was summoned from London by electric telegraph. When this gentleman arrived at Malshanger, he found the patient in his usual sitting. room, greatly exhausted by loss of blood. The members of his family had been vainly endeavouring to persuade him to suffer himself to be carried up-stairs to his sleeping apartment. Against this he had resolutely protested ; and he now said to Martin, “ I am glad you are come; for I feel rather faint from loss of blood. They wanted to carry me up-stairs, but to that I have strong objectionswhat do you say?" On ascertaining the state of Metcalfe's circulation, Mr.Martin stated his opinion that, with some little aid, the patient might be able to walk up to his bedroom. The decision seemed quite to revive him. “ That's right," he said; “I thought you would say so. I would not allow them to carry me.” He then sent for a bundle of walking-sticks, collected in different parts of the world, and taking one brought from Niagara, said to Martin, “ You keep that." He then selected another, a bamboo, known in India as a Penang Lawyer, and grasping it firmly, said, “ Now, with Martin on one side and the Penang Lawyer on the other, I think we shall make it out.” Thus he went up-stairs to his chamber. And in spite of the increased faintness which the exertion occasioned, all rejoiced that the inclinations of the noble sufferer had not been thwarted.
Mary Higginson, the daughter of a dear friend, a child of merely seven years of age, read God's blessed word to the dying statesman, and he received the glad tidings of salvation as if he himself were also as a little child : so great was the simplicity and sincerity of his heart. At length he was relieved from pain, and on the 5th of September, 1846, with a calm sweet smile on his long-tortured face, Charles Theophilus, first and last Lord Metcalfe, rendered up his soul to his Maker.
The life of such a man is a national record. All the honours are not with the successful warrior alone. Lord Metcalfe was not a conqueror, but he was more-he was a pacificator of worlds. As Macaulay has nobly said, “ He was tried in many high places and difficult conjunctures, and found equal to all. He calmed evil passions, he reconciled contend. ing factions.” He upheld the honour of the British name, and he consolidated British rule by pacific measures only, and that, perhaps, to as great an extent as any one of his more warlike contemporaries. This is a lesson not to be lost sight of ; Mr. John William Kaye has placed it before the world in a clear, eloquent, and attractive form—there could not be a more suitable or a more gratifying monument to the memory of a great man than that which is contained in his own biography honestly and pleasantly written.
BY SIR NATHANIEL.
No. XXIV._" FIRMILIAN."* THE “ Rejected Addresses” are said to have met with a clerical critic, an unsophisticated vicar in one of the midland counties, who candidly owned, after careful perusal, that, for his part, he didn't see why they should have been rejected ; some of them seemed to him to be very good. We can readily suppose a brother clerk, "simple, grave, sincere" -some Reverend Abraham Plymley, who Lives in the Country to take a similarly earnest view, at the present time, of “Firmilian, a Spasmodic Tragedy." The good parson has not very long since read Mr. Bailey's “ Festus;" he has also groped his way, dark with excessive bright of sun, moon, and stars, through Mr. Alexander Smith's “ Life-Drama;” and he has followed up this trying undertaking by a long pull and a strong pull at Mr. Dobell's “ Balder.” Each of these works ho read in perfect good faith. Then why not “Firmilian ?” He did not suppose Festus to be mocking him, or Walter to be in mere make-believe convulsions, or Balder to be laughing in his sleeve. Then why not give credit to the Student of Badajoz for genuine soul-strife ? or why impute to that impassioned Mr. Percy Jones the indignity of sham spasms? If “Firmilian” contains abrupt transitions from the lofty to the low, and sometimes oscillates apparently between the sublime and the ridiculous, and indeed is quite open to the charge of neglecting that austerity of classical taste, and that scrupulous observance of sound critical canons, which genius and talent used to follow when he, the good parson, was a younger man,—why, the same thing, you know, may be said of the Smith and Yendys' wares; and, at the worst, the distinction seems to be rather in degree than in kind.
For some time past, the Spasmodic School has been a growing nuisance. Its poets and critics have multiplied exceedingly, till the multiple threatens to become n, an infinite power, even as the mystic matter they work upon is x, an unknown quantity. The spasms were for a while sporadic, but are now epidemic. Bad cases have increased, are increasing, and ought to be diminished.
Now, any one acquainted with the parodies and burlesque ballads of Bon Gaultier, must have been convinced that Bon could, if he pleased, do yeoman's service in putting down this nuisance. He, who could“ take off” Tennyson so languishingly, and Macaulay so closely, and Moore so melodiously,—how tempting, and again how legitimate, a field for his powers of travestie lay open in the Spasmodic School! The bait was irresistible, and it took. And the result is, “Firmilian ; or, the Student of Badajoz: a Spasmodic Tragedy, by T. Percy Jones.” As in the case of previous bravuras from the same composer, this performance comprises passages that look like sparkling poetry, expressed in rhythm now sweetly,
* Firmilian; or, the Student of Badajoz. A Spasmodic Tragedy. By T. Percy Jones. Blackwood: 1854.
now sonorously musical, as well as flights of rhodomontade the most ludicrous, and ravings in King Cambyses' vein the most bombastic, and farcical associations duly accommodated to the theme. Such a synthesis of antitheses, such a composition of opposing forces, is, indeed, characteristic of the writer, who loves to dally between jest and earnest, and to show that he can be a poet while he chooses to be a parodist. Placed between the serious and the comic Muses, he pays court to both, not in succession but at once ; and instead of singing, “ How happy could I be with either, were t'other dear charmer away,” he makes himself happy in the dual number, and will on no account let go his hold of either.
Amusing and effective as “ Firmilian” is, it is not, however, so effective or amusing as its clever writer might have made it. He has made too much of it in one way, and not enough in another. Too long and too complicated for a mere jeu d'esprit, it is too brief and fragmentary to answer its own purpose. It drags at times. The wit is often in high condition, and sparkles with effervescent "up-pishness;" but not unfrequently it has the look and taste of heel-tap, without body, soul, or spirit. Or it may be, after all, our inability to descry the dramatist's scope ; and our own eye, instead of his wit, that is dull as ditch-water : certainly we do not pretend to be sure of all his side-blows and allusions, many of which may, to the fully initiated, be very telling, though they do not tell upon us. One or two of the most decided personalities and most palpable hits we will quote, in such piecemeal shape as our limits allow. About these there can be no mistake; and we prefer giving a taste of the quality of “ Firmilian ” in this fashion, to sketching an outline of the action, which is designedly preposterous, though such an outline would by no means be more difficult in the case of the parody, despite its extravagant and erring spirit, than in those of the furibund life-and-death-and-judgment dramas which it “takes its change out of.”
Those who remember the sort of reception Blackwood vouchsafed to the Latter-day Pamphlets, will be prepared for the following masque of the pamphleteer:
There was a fellow, too, an Anabaptist,
. . . . He, too, spoke.
Unwisdoms, Tithes, and Unveracities.
'Faith, when I heard him railing in crank terms,
The other's was most tedious. Now for that Graduate. Again we may assume, that whoso remembers how Blackwood dealt with Ruskin's Lectures, will be prepared for the scene between “ A Priest and a GRADUATE :"
GRADUATE. Believe me, father, they are all accurs'd !
PRIEST. Peace, son! thou ravest.
Do I rave indeed ?
It is my purpose, and they all shall down! Later in the piece, the Graduate is walked off by the Inquisition satellites to an auto-da-fé, for his “monstrous deed in blowing up the church.” At the pile, having craved and obtained the Inquisitor's permission to say a word or two,
His speech was worse than any commination.
That nothing was exempted from his ban ; and albeit the indignant populace hailed him with a whole storm of cats and baser missiles,
Yet he curs'd on, till the familiars gagg'd him—
Bound him unto the stake, and so he died. Excellent fooling, possibly, of its kind. But if the Graduate never meets with more damaging onslaught than this, he can afford to be tolerably quiet from fear of evil. Far more pungent is the ensuing account of the North country gentleman who signs himself Apollodorus and “does"