Page images
PDF
EPUB

every girl believes were solely invented for and addressed to herself, and that no man ever loved as her own dear since the days of Romeo. I could tell Fanny no love-tales, for, far from loving, I did not, unfortunately, even like; so, affecting to treat her ecstasies with assumed contempt, I fell back on rank, position, eminence, fortune, and brilliant establishment, and entrenched myself behind the ramparts of worldly views and calculating convenance, wishing, however, all the time, in my inmost heart, that my lordling would address such effusions to me as Fanny's William did to her, instead of looking at me when we met as if he were afraid of me.

But here I am, forgetting that this is Cornwall, and the country around so romantic I seek in vain for words to describe it. The road follows the course of the same estuary over which I had crossed at Devonport, now narrowed to a perfect stream, forcing its passage between lofty hills—now expanding into large sheets of water, dotted with islands edged by luxuriant oaks, darkening the water where their shadows fell. The bank along which I drove resembled an elevated terrace, from which descended woody banks and deep ravines to the water's side, the hills above being covered with luxuriant thickly-planted oak woods, beautifully tinged with autumnal tints, broken into glens and dells, down which came rushing little mountain-streams, dancing over dark rocks and moss-grown stones. Distant peeps there were every now and then of grassy hills, velvety in their rich soft green, and verdant fields shut in by another wood, behind which rose an outline of loftier and more distant heights quite in the background.

A village was passed, and then came a long steep ascent, when the road, after passing between high rocky banks, emerged on a flat plain country very like the level ground of Scotland. The fields had no fringe of trees, and all the hills were round and uninteresting, the only variety being afforded by peeps of the blue sea between the opening heights : and this monotonous scenery continued for some miles, until I found myself descending into the Vale of Looe, from the lofty uplands the road winding down in terraced lines through a thick oak wood. Before ma now unfolded a scene so lovely, that I actually found myself exclaimirg aloud with delight. In front lay the vast azure expanse of the ocean, with the narrow entrance to Looe harbour enclosed between shelving rocks and hills; while scattered on either bank lay the houses, or rather huts, forming the picturesque little town, the opposite banks connected by an antique bridge, very narrow, and containing innumerable low arches. The river, or estuary, on which stands the town, after passing the bridge, divides into two branches, separated by a headland gracefully sweeping down from a considerable height, covered with woods, now shaded with every hue, from green to red, and from red to russet-brown. The water right and left of this hill intersects the country between high woody banks, meandering along, forming little bays, and capes, and pretty quiet corners, tossing about the upper land into ravines, dells, and valleys, all covered with oak woods, save where jutting rocks stand out in bold relief, contrasting their sober tints of grey to the brilliant colouring of the overhanging branches. The river before being divided has all the appearance of a lake, expanding, after passing the bridge, to a considerable size; in this respect much exceeding the banks of the W ye

Sept.- VOL. CII. NO. ccccv.

(a scene otherwise very similar), where, however, the river is very narrow, and quite discoloured with mud. I must prefer the Vale of Looe as being not only bolder and grander in character, but also richer in woods and verdure.

After resting at the little inn, where one passes through a street so narrow that friendly neighbours might well shake hands out of window across the street, I proceeded over the old-fashioned bridge, up the opposite bank, by a road so steep that the horses crawled up like rats, with difficulty keeping their footing, the road continuing along one of the wooded banks overlooking the water until we turned inland.

I was now approaching my children, and my heart expanded with a joy and expectation which made me doubly vexed at our contriving to lose our way, not only once, but over and over again, for the obvious reason, that every person to whom we applied flatly contradicted the other, and all spoke such a jargon it might have been Chinese for aught I knew. At last, after many turns and twistings, and being bumped across some terribly rough fields, we reached the right road, and descended to Polperro down a terrifie eliff, so steep that I jumped out the quicker to meet my beloved ones. My feet keeping pace with my impatience, I soon reached the door of the small house where they were domiciled, and in a few moments was pressing to my heart in rapturous joy the long-lost darlings. How they were improved! How proud and delighted was I to be the mother of such sweet children, and who look, too, as good as they are pretty! This, indeed, was happiness very golden moment-a bright star in my dark path!

May—my May-is sweet, with her long auburn ringlets hanging in luxuriant curls over her white neck; and there is an air of feminine gentleness about her that will become more and more fascinating as she grows up. Her melting blue eyes are full of love and sweetness, and her little caresses gentle and winning in the extreme. My eldest is not so pretty, but full of intelligence and ardour, tall and well made, animated and active-as warm-hearted a little maiden as a mother's heart could desire. The little pair by their very contrast set off each other: the one yielding, gentle, eoy—the other ardent, impetuous, fiery, her glowing little eyes full of resolution and enterprise." I will defer my account of our locale until to-morrow, being too much absorbed with my children to have eyes for aught else.

THE PAGAN AND THE CZAR.

BY NICHOLAS MICHELL.

What did the Pagan monarch do ?-
Burning to conquer laods that were not his,
Recking not waste of life, or human bliss,

War's fearful trump an Alexander blew,
Made countries desolate, caused want and tears,
Crushed in a day the labours of long years,
Sent thousands to their grave ere Nature's hour,
Advancing still, yet craving still more power-

And this he deemed no crime,
Ambition's ladder mounting like a god,
Blight in his looks, destruction in his nod,

The terror of his time!

What should the Christian monarch do ?Strive to improve, advance the realms his own,

To make his people's hearts his living throne,
And hush the battle-trumpet's deathful tone,

To justice, mercy true;
Sow wide the seeds of commerce, knowledge, joy,
To enlighten mind each energy employ,

And rights, like common air, impart,

And foster science, genius, art,
Knit land to sister land by bonds of love,
All owning one great Sire, one Lord above-

This should the Christian monarch do.
And thou, proud Czar, art Christian, and wouldst lay

All hateful Pagans low;
Yet dost thou tread the Pagan's blood-stained way,
Breaking earth's peace, and scattering dire dismay,

And wedding Want to Woe.
Man of the iron heart and stubborn will,

Ruling th' enslaved and crouching North!
Renouncing good for violence and ill,

Pour thy serf-armies forth!
Seize like a robber, burst all honour's ties,
Raise famine's fiend, and mock at miseries!
Another Timur, slay, then Heaven adore,
And lift, like him, the clasp'd hands red with gore
Yet know, a day of reckoning comes for thee,
. And dark and dread crime's penalty will be ;

Man of the iron heart !

Honour's brave bands that start,
The avenging swords which from their scabbards fly,
That, but for thee, had slept with things gone by,
The cannon's roar, the wide-spread battle-cry,
Like thunder-tongues appealing to the sky,

All tell us what thou art!
Wrong never yet had lasting, true success;
Awhile thy countless hordes may onward press;
Yet 'gainst their will they war—thon, only thou
Send'st them to slay, and to be slaughtered now;
Thy wild ambition may, with blasting breath,
Wither an hour, and spread dismay and death,
And pour Destruction's maddening deluge wide,
But Civilisation shall beat back the tide;
Free Britain, gallant France, their power have hurled
Against the Invader's force, and saved the world :

Yet cruel, reckless Czar!
Through thy base passions ere this strife shall end,
Thousands to Hades' darkness will descend,

Thou the sole cause of war!
Think of men's deaths, their agonies, their woes, -
When Night draws 'round the curtain of repose,
Will not the dread reflection banish rest,
And pierce with stings of fire thy conscious breast ?

[merged small][ocr errors]

LITERARY LEAFLETS.

BY SIR NATHANIEL.

No. XXIII.—KINGSLEY'S EDINBURGA LECTURES. * What Alexandria has been, history tells in large and memorable characters. Mr. Kingsley is not without large hope of her future also. As the unrivalled advantages of her locule were seen at a glance by Philip's warlike son, “one of the greatest intellects whose influence the world has ever felt,” and at once suggested to him the “ mighty project of making it the point of union of two, or rather of three worlds," so the author of “ Hypatia” believes that a glance at the map, which is enough to see what an 'oubalos yñs, a centre of the world, this Alexandria is, may naturally arouse in other minds, what it has often done in his, the suspicion that the place has not yet fulfilled its whole destiny, but may become at any time a prize for contending nations, or the centre of some world-wide empire to come. " The stream of commerce is now rapidly turning back to its old channel; and British science bids fair to make Alexandria once more the inn of all the nations." The fate of Palestine, we are reminded, is now more than ever bound up with the fate of the city with whose history its own was inextricably united for more than three centuries; and a British or French colony might, it is added, holding the two countries, develop itself into a nation as vast as sprang from Alexander's handful of Macedonians, and become the meeting point for the nations of the West, and those great Anglo-Saxon peoples who seem destined to spring up in the Australian ocean. And then with regard to intellectual development, Mr. Kingsley opines, that though Alexandria wants, and always has wanted, " that insular and exclusive position which seems almost necessary to develop original thought and original national life, yet she may still act,” as in her palmy days she so effectually did, as the “point of fusion for distinct schools and polities”-a rallying-place of both conflicting and converging forces, where the “young and buoyant vigour of the new-born nations may at once teach, and learn from, the prudence, the experience, the traditional wisdom of the ancient Europeans.” So speculates one not without pretension to the functions of the Seer. For ourselves, we can but say, we shall see.

In these four Lectures, a rapid survey is taken of the varied phases of the historical and philosophical life of Alexandria, from the dawn of her renown under the first Ptolemy to her decadence in mediæval times. No dry summary of facts and dates and doctrines, however; as far as the veriest habitué in light reading can desire, from that; but enlivened and enriched and relieved with graphic passages, and rich colouring, and happily-devised side-lights, such as all acquainted with the lecturer's previous writings will know how to give him credit for. Lecture-going people, who had hitherto possessed only a mummified sort of notion of Ptolemy Lagus, Mr. Kingsley knew how to interest thenceforth in the human actuality of that Egyptian despot, by talking to them of Soter's face and practical genius :-a face of the loftiest and most Jove-like type of Greek beauty ; not without a “possibility” about it, as about most old Greek faces, of boundless cunning, and a lofty irony, and Goethelike contemptuousness about the mouth ;-and the genius of one, who saw clearly what was needed in those strange times, and went straight to the thing which he saw. “But Ptolemy's political genius went beyond such merely material and Warburtonian care for the conservation of body and goods of his subjects," as he displayed in his system of administration so sagaciously adapted to the peculiar caste-society, and the religious prejudices of Egypt-substituting law and order, and reviving commerce, for the wretched misrule and slavery of the conquering Persian dynasty. Ptolemy provided for the due sustenance, or rather renewal and development, of the religious sentiment-introducing new gods, that were soon to become the fashionable deities of the Roman world; and he provided for the intellectual wants of his country, gathering round him the wise men of Greece, in the belief that mind had been all along the secret of Greek power, when brought into collision with barbarian brute force, and intent on fortifying his throne, and glorifying his realm, with the splendid establishment of a true aristocracy of intellect. “So he begins. Aristotle is gone: but in Aristotle's place Philetas the sweet singer of Cos, and Zenodotus the grammarian of Ephesus, shall educate his favourite son, and he will have a literary court, and a literary age. Demetrius Phalereus, the Admirable Crichton of his time, the last of Attic orators, statesman, philosopher, poet, warrior, and each of them in the most graceful, insinuating, courtly way, migrates to Alexandria, after having had the three hundred and sixty statues, which the Athenians had too hastily erected to his honour, as hastily pulled down again.” A library is instituted, and a Mouseion, or Temple of the Muses, is right royally endowed, and in all things the presiding genius of Aristotle* is to be worshipped.

* Alexandria and her Schools. Four Lectures delivered at the Philosophical Institution, Edinburgh. With a Preface. By the Rev. Charles Kingsley. Cam. bridge: Macmillan and Co. 1854.

A Quarterly Reviewer-Mr. Sewell, we “guess" -has drawn a parallel, which he considers close and curious, between the Alexandrian Court of this epoch and the Court of Prussia under Frederic II. Both Ptolemy and Old Fritz were, he remarks, military princes; both estranged from

* Every man, said Schlegel, is born a Platonist or an Aristotelian. Mr. Kingsley the former. His “ Phaethon" shows us how highly he estimates Plato. In the Preface to these leetures, it is for the Plato he was taught at Cambridge, still more than for the criticism and the mathematics he was taught there, that he avows himself grateful to her. In his third lecture he contends that the true Platonic method remains yet to be tried, both in England and Germany, and that, if fairly used, it will be found the ally, not the enemy, of the Baconian philosophy; " in fact, the inductive method applied to words, as the expressions of Metaphysic Laws, instead of to natural phenomena, as the expressions of Physical ones.” But Aristotle he regards with aversion (to speak Hibernice), as a proud, self-contained systematiser, a who must needs explain all things in heaven and earth by his own formulæ, and his entelechies and energies, and the rest of the notions which he has made for himself out of his own brain," and put “every created and uncreated thing henceforth into its proper place, from the ascidians and polypes of the sea to the virtues and the vices,-yea, to the Great Deity and Prime Cause .... whom he discovered by irrefragable processes of logic.” -Cnf. Lectures, pp. 17-18, 29, 162, s99.

« EelmineJätka »