Page images
PDF
EPUB

“O, my lord,” she said, “ does there exist a means of keeping any one a prisoner without putting him in irons, and without confining him to a prison ?"

“ Yes," answered Merlin, “my beautiful Viviane! Take this phial, put it in your girdle, and it will acquire the property of building in a moment walls that shall never crumble.”

This said, Viviane and Merlin continued their melancholy walk. Towards evening the enchanter felt tired, and wished to sit down. It was spring-time, the evening was fine and warm, violets embalmed the pure air, the perriwinkle clothed the ground with its glossy leaves and flowers of celestial blue, the hawthorn covered the shrubs with its roseate snow of odoriferous blossoms. Merlin lay beneath one of those fragrant bushes in fatal security.

Viviane took her girdle from her waist, and traced with it a circle round the enchanter. Then using the phial, there rose up upon that circle a tower without an opening, which enclosed the too credulous Merlin and keeps him there till the end of ages.

From that time henceforth Viviane no longer left the forest of Broceliande. Sometimes under one form, sometimes under another, she still never ceases to watch at the foot of that immortal tower, constantly shaded by branches which never fade, which the frosts respect, and which singing-birds frequent the whole year round.

As to Merlin, he is always there living and captive, and notwithstanding the embalmed home that Viviane has created for him, the traveller wandering in the deep glades of the forest hears his plaintive voice mingling with that of the wind and the storms.

The “ Almanach Comique” prophesies for the year 1855, among other things, an insurrection among cooks and other domestics against such tradesmen as persist in refusing a New Year's gratuity. A clipper will arrive at the Bois de Boulogne; Paris will become more and more a seaport. The Academy will decide that the bouf gras of next Carnival shall be called Psammeticus. The Queen of Saba and the Princess of Trebizond will arrive in Paris. Having learnt that Paris has become a seaport, a shoal of herrings will arrive by way of the Seine. Having attairied his majority, the hippopotamus of the Garden of Plants will present a petition to the director to permit of his being married. The functionary in question will be thereby placed in a state of great embarrassment. A celebrated romancer will take an engagement limiting his productiveness to fifty volumes a year. Gold deposits will be discovered in the regions of Saint Chaumont. The queue of persons going into the Crystal Palace will extend to the Place de la Bastile; an Englishman will give fifty pounds sterling for a place at the corner of the Rue Montmartre. It was calculated that he would reach the palace in twenty-four hours. Places at the Rue Royale will sell at two thousand francs. At the horticultural exhibition prizes will be given for rose-coloured cucumbers and blue roses. An angler will hook a salmon under the arches of the Pont Royal. Gentlemen who are endowed with pesonal gifts will continue to abuse the same by fascinating the ladies on the Boulevards. The porpoise will be domesticated, to save people from drowning and shipwreck. There being no clown at the fair of St. Cloud, Bilboquet, full of devotion to the cause, will return to his first scenic triumphs. An engineer of London will invent a means of superseding smoke. An inhabitant of Paris will petition that colds and catarrhs shall be suppressed. The Chinese insurrection will continue as

heretofore-Nankin will be captured by the rebels, but Pekin will be recaptured by the imperial troops.

The police courts have furnished fewer characteristic specimens of the gamin and the gueux tribe during the past year than usual. Here is one of the best that we have stumbled upon :

M. de Nucingen was introduced into the dock. His politeness prevented him going first ; he invited the officer to pass in; the latter refused. M. de Nucingen insisted, the officer persisted, and M. de Nucingen appeared to be quite scandalised to see his civilities thus lost upon his attendant. Before taking his seat he bowed to the court, not omitting the bar, the clerk, and the reporters ; he then cast a longing eye over the audience; which done, he smoothed down the frill of his shirt-a black, crumpled, worn-out frill, but still a frill!

The President-You have no profession?
M. de Nucingen-I beg your pardon a thousand times, Mr. Chancellor.
The President-What is it?
M. de Nucingen-I play the part of Marquis.
The President- This is not the place to trifle.

M. de Nucingen-Heaven preserve me! I am a marquis-in songs, you understand, with big sous in them, to throw into the windows. I have broken many a pane of glass.

The President-Yes, you have been a ballad-singer in the streets, but that is many years ago ; your licence was taken from you because you were always drunk.

M. de Nucingen-My medical adviser had ordered me to drink milk ; and every one knows that the milk of artists is wine.

The President-Come, you have no place of residence ?

M. de Nucingen-As I had the honour to inform you, I put two sous into my songs; some people were honest enough to throw me back only one ; and that rascally big drum! Ali, it is not all clover in the life of a marquis.

The President-So that you have no means of existence ?

M. de Nucingen-Oh, yes, I have reflected in gaol; the lock system grieved me very much at first, but if it has its drawbacks it has also its advantages. I have an idea; if you let me off, I will turn glazier; and if I can only get the job of putting in the panes wherever I break them, my fortune is made, and I will found an hospital.

The court condemned the accused to fifteen days' confinement.

M. de Nucingen bowed to the court, the bar, and the clerk, offered a pinch of snuff to the gaoler, who refused it, and then to the officer, who pushed him rather unceremoniously out of the dock. As he passed out of court, “ Here's the glazier !" were the last words heard.

Here is a young man bit with the prevailing Oriental epidemic :

Mortadelle is eighteen years of age, and this is the fifth time that he has appeared before the correctional police. When only eight years old he was condemned to six years' imprisonment, and he has only just been emancipated from three months' for picking pockets.

The President-Your profession ?
Mortadelle-Mason; no, carpenter.
The President-Come, which of the two ?

Mortadelle-Carpenter; no, mason; say mason-carpenter, or carpentermason.

The President-You have two occupations ?
Mortadelle- I have two.

The President-You would do better to have only one, and to follow it. Mortadelle-I do not say no, I do not say yes, for the proverb says we must have two strings to our bow.

The President-Lettus go on. You are accused with being a vagabond! Mortadelle-They always warn me too late. Theyı arrest me first, and them tell me I am acoused with being a vagabond,, without giving me the opportunity of finding a lodging. I call thattabsurd.

The President—Come, now, no equivocation. You went into a publichouse, you had meat and drink served to you to the amount of nineteen sous, and then you ran away without paying.

Mortadelle I had not a sou..

The President. Why did you ineur an expense which you knew you could not meet?

Mortadelle. Because I was hungry and thirsty. Birds have no money, and yet they eat and drink, and no one accuses them with robbery.

The President-Yon was arrested and led to the guard-house, where you stole two volumes which belonged to the corporal of the guard, and hid them under your blouse. Mortadelle-Well, that is not a punishable offence.

The President, What, not punishable, an inexcusable robbery? Mortadelle-It was theory and practice. Why did I take the books? It was to read them. Why did I read them? It was to learn from them. Why did. I wish to learn? Because I wished to enlist. Why did. I wish to enlist? That I might go and thrash the Russians.. Why did I wish to thrash the Russians ? That I might defend the Turks. Why did I

The President-And did you think that they would admit into the army a man with your antecedents Mortadelle-They say that fire purifies all things, that is why I wished to go.

The President-Well, then, know that men of your description are not admitted into the army. Mortadelle-What a pity! I did so wish to see Constantinople! The would-be recruit was sentenced to three months imprisonment.

TO THE EMPEROR OF AUSTRIA, ON HIS MARRIAGE.

BY CAPTAIN MEDWIN

Whilst the new Goths, in many a Cossack horde,
Slaves to the ambition of the ruthless Czar,
Lay, waste his neighbour's realms with fire and sword,
Glad nuptial shouts outswell the din of war.
Sovereign! tho’young in years, in wisdom old,
Drive back the invader from thy Danube's floods,
Back to their steppes and icy solitudes,
And thy sons' sons shall bless thee. Rise ! Awake!
Or fall for ever!' Join the Western band
Of brothers harnessed to uphold the weak:.
Thy country's altars, hearths, thy native land,
All Europe's independence is the stake
Prove not in vain struck down the Assassin's hand!

LITERARY LEAFLETS.

BY SIR NATHANIEL.

No. XXV.-HANNAY'S, “SATIRE AND SATIRISTS."* CLEVER and entertaining a book on the Satirists is pretty sure to be by the author of “Singleton Fontenoy," “ Biscuits and Grog," “ Sand' and Shells,” &c. He is himself blessed or cursed with satirical tendencies, which evidently, and to his signal' credit, he keeps under bit and bridle. Mr. Hannay could, obviously, put a good deal of gall into his ink if he liked, and make his penmanship very black indeed. There is gall in his ink, but that not much : rather he is careful' to counteract it by an infusion of the milk of human kindness—an item not much in request for the satirist's ordinary mixture. Let not those gentle souls, therefore, whose kind nature shrinks instinctively, and on principle, from the perusal of books by or concerning satire and satirists, — let them not reject Mr. Hapnay's little volume, the pervading spirit of which they will find in harmony, despite a discord here and there, with their own charity and good-will towards men.

Mr. Hannay can write so well, and is in command of a style so much to the purpose, that–be this enforced imprimis, and so “done with "it were highly desirable he were less of an imitator. It is all very well, for us petty scribblers, who have nothing a month to say, and who say it,—who are dependent upon some opulent author's alms-basket of words -it is all very well for us to copy the style of another in order to attract a hearing for ourselves: but why should the author of “ Singleton Fontenoy," who can afford to act out his independence, and is rich enough to keep a style of his own; be found essaying, again and again, a hit, a very palpable hit, of direct imitation ? He might, indeed, have chosen a worse model than Mr. Thackeray ; nay, considering the scope and subject of his discourse, it might have been hard for him to fix on a better: But why not be self-sufficing in this matter ? Admirer as he is of Mr. Thackeray, he is no undiscriminating one; witness his dissent from that distinguished writer's portraiture of Swift. But how closely he affects the Pendennis mannerism, let an excerpt or two from the present volume bear pretty explicit evidence.

Of Erasmus, for instance, he says: “I am not going to set up Erasmus as a very lofty kind of man before you. He is not one whom you feel any disposition to worship. I make my bow to him, and do him honour; but I do not stand uncovered, or impressed with any reverential awe before him. Only we must appreciate and love him too. We must remember that he was luminous, genial, generous, brotherly. Let us begin, then, by pitying him, in so far as he deserves our pity,” &c.

Well said, be it allowed, both as to matter and manner; but whose is the manner? The lecturer is laudably and healthily addicted to simplicity of style ; but may he not, does he not, affect a certain order of it, until we almost forget the simplicity in the affectation? One man's

** Satire and Satirists. Six Lectures. By James Hamay. London: Bogue. 1854.

nature may be another man's art. And too obviously so, if the other man has not, and possibly would reject, the ars celare artem.

But our cynical philosophy must be based on induction. So, to quote again.

Speaking of Dryden's marriage with the Lady Elizabeth Howard, the lecturer observes: “ If we could look into that house in Gerrard-street, Soho (five doors from Newport-street, on the left hand, I have peered at it with interest many a time), as it existed when John was there, and the back of it looked out on the gardens of Lord Leicester's house, we should see some odd squabbles, perhaps. I fancy that the brothers in trade' did not present themselves there when her ladyship was in one of her moods, and particularly when she was on good terms with her family, and Sir Robert or the Honourable Edward was coming."

In the next we have thorough Thackeray to the letter, though aught but Thackeray in the spirit : “ Poor woman !” exclaims Mr. Hannay, Swift's Vanessa being on the carpet—"she flew like the moth to the lamp, -it is not the lamp's fault. But we are to pity her and love her, if we like ; and pity and admire Stella too ; only let us keep ourselves in a state of moderation about the poor lonely Dean, whom they would love in spite of his destiny ; and go and behave well to our own Stellas and Vanessas, if we are happy enough to get them.” Surely this is almost exactly how Mr. Thackeray would, and what he would not, have written on the same vexed question.

Here, again, is a second-hand picture, lively and graphic enough to indicate first-hand skill :—it is a description of the social anomalies of our “ Augustan” age : “ Your Harleys, and your St. Johns (not to mention a crew whose names live only in epigrams and in peerages), parcel out everything amongst themselves. It is like a Saturnalian feast, where the slaves have the good things, and their masters wait upon them. That is the effect of looking at the Queen Anne period to me. Davus takes the chair ; Leno is opposite him ; Gulosus is beside them: and at these orgies of power and plunder, who are the waiters ? Jonathan Swift advises the direction of the whole ; Mat Prior comes tumbling in with the wine ; Joseph Addison says grace, and helps the carving, with his sleeves turned up ; Mr. Pope sings. A scandalous spectacle, and absurd feast, indeed! And how shall we understand what makes Swift ferocious and gloomy, if we don't remember the nature of it?”

One is driven to the somewhat musty similitude, Cæsar and Pompey bery much ’like : 'specially Pompey. Coleridge said that Chantrey's bust of Wordsworth was more like than Wordsworth himself. Mr. Hannay has a kindred gift of hyperbolic verisimilitude. One example more. When Swift came into the world of politics, “the evil of his position was instantaneously felt. The “Irish parson,' the ex-dependent of Temple,—they treated him in every way but in a genuine and manly one. They flattered him, they feared him ; but they looked on him as an Aladdin, about whom the best thing was his wonderful lamp. They liked Aladdin to come to dinner, and bring his lamp along with him, you know !* He tells you himself, that the Lord-Treasurer affected to be

* Mr. Hannay's far too liberal use of the mark of admiration, expedient as the one in the text suprà may perhaps be, is a characteristic not caught from Mr.

« EelmineJätka »