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The great fault found with the New Monthly was its “frivolity" (what a charge from Lady Morgan-most friends used to think it not light enough), you should give something essential. Amusing biography, or natural or classical biography, or topography. Your lighter articles should mean something in point of fact, and be stamped with some philosophical inferences. Literary Gazettes, Court Journals, and eternal annuals, have done the business of petty nonsense. You must know that I have a carte blanche to write for such trash.
The New Monthly, in its present high character, would precisely meet the desiderata then put forth. Sir Charles Morgan, of whose intellectual calibre we do not entertain precisely the same high notions as are indulged in by his own clique, could, it appears, tell a good story at second-hand :
Talking of saints, I heard a good anecdote of Wolfe, from Lord Strangford. His servant travelled with W. as an interpreter. “How came it," said his lordship, “ that he escaped with his head, if he really preached against the Turks ?” “Why," replied his servant, “I always interpreted his speeches in my own way, and concluded with declaring him out of his mind; when the Turks immediately treated him with that respect which they always pay to insanity, and which he mistook for approval of his doctrine."
Leigh Hunt detested piscatorial amusements, Cyrus Redding pleads guilty to a turn that way, but he says not for the sport, but for the enjoyment of the landscape, and of peaceful meditation in the bosom of nature. He can, however, speak kindly (and who would not, with all his errors, common, the proverb tells us, to humanity) of one who loved mankind, if he did not care to catch little fish:
Leigh Hunt-just now no more-I used to visit occasionally, when I chanced to be in town. I cannot recollect where I first called upon him, having been introduced to him by his brother John, about 1812 or 1813. I think he then lived in Lisson-grove, and soon after in Cumberland-place, New-road, where, on some particular evening in the week, I used to find him encircled with a few friends. On such occasions it was not possible to meet a more pleasant man. He did not know much of the great world, but in literature, and in that relish for what is agreeable and beautiful in books or the arts, I knew no one of that time who excelled him. His acquisitions were confined to the tasteful in the belles lettres, and none rendered the English, Italian, or Latin poets to more advantage, or understood them better. There was a certain affectedness about him at times which exhibited itself in his writings. The latter were simple, smooth in style, and never obscure. His subjects—at least those on which he loved to expatiate—were of the simple kind, extremely pleasing, but never, that I remember, elevated. He loved to expatiate and make much of what he saw and liked within a limited circle, and that circle seemed to bound his views, and to attach him to a locality which grew upon his affection by his greater familiarity with it. The Vale of Health, at Hampstead, was his little world at one period. The Well Walk, the paths, the heath, he made as much of as if they were to others what they had been to him; scenes where they had ruminated and been busy
“In the quick forge and working house of thought.” There was in this respect a circumscription about him somewhat marked after the school of Lamb, except that Lamb's “Paradise" was bounded by the Temple, and the dirty streets in its vicinity. He cared not for the rest of
the world besides. All 'men have their peculiar tastes, even kings for low . company; and their ministers, often, as with Pitt, for any but intellectual men in their choice. It was otherwise with Hunt, who had much more poetical feeling and a better regulated imagination than Lamb, who was a sort of housewife in literature. Hunt loved green fields, and trees, and glimpses of Nature, and most as she shows herself in the vicinity of themetropolis; and beautiful nature it is, if the works of man in tile and brick, which so mar its beauty, could be got to harmonise with its verdure and agreeable. ness. There was a want of usage in the modes of conduct and thinking, in certain classes of society, which Hunt never understood. This was the case in his intercourse with Byron. It is true he was above them, but that is no matter; man is called upon for some little personal sacrifice to fit into his place with all degrees and orders of his fellow-beings.
For the judge who could send such a man to a cell, Cyrus Redding has no compunction. “Ellenborough,” he says, “ was more ferocious than usual upon that trial. I never looked in the face of his lordship on the bench but I thought of Rhadamanthus. He was imperious and illtempered.” The relations of Hunt with Byron and Moore are touched upon with good sense and delicacy, and our author lights up with the fire of olden eloquence when he denounces the persecutions of literary men in bygone times, and the perpetual ban they live under, of being unemployed, from the dread, he says, ever entertained by those in authority of too much knowledge and independence.
Sir William Napier, Mr. Pryce Gordon, and Washington Irving, next pass before us in this literary kaleidoscope.
Reflections upon the anomalous position in which literary men are placed with regard to the public, to those in power, and to bibliopolists, are followed by some lengthy and characteristic disquisitions upon the decadence of taste in the present day; the evils of sensation story-telling; the depravity of fashion; the selection of degrading and immoral subjects; venal influences, perverted talent, and other faults and errors, all the more annoying to an old man, as they naturally did not exist in his time. Yet, were there not Radcliffes and Monk Lewises to counterbalance the pseudo-sentimental and sensation writers of the present day, with their low-life heroes and heroines ?
John Galt comes next upon the tapis, and he is let off with that kind of faint praise regarding which an illnatured saying is current; and he is followed by James Montgomery, who is admitted by our censor of men and morals to have been a man of sterling genius—a most amiable, meek-tempered man, who exhibited great consistency of principle. Apperly (Nimrod), Sir Herbert Croft, and Cobbett, about fill up the list, which is completed as the last stone in the edifice by Cyrus Redding himself.
Mr. Redding has, we see, received, since this work was published, a small pittance from her Majesty's government in recognition of his political and literary labours carried over a very long period. We sincerely rejoice in this, though it is but a poor as well as tardy recompense for so persevering a labourer in a good cause.
A “FAST” PILGRIM.*
A MORE lively, racy, rollicking " pilgrim” than Captain Clayton it has not been our good fortune to meet for a long time. One of the pilgrims to Canterbury in the olden times was “wantoun and merye ;" another, albeit "his heed was ballid, and shon as eny glas," was much addicted to sports of the field, and although a monk, disdained not " & love-knotte;" a third was “ Epicurius's owne sone;" and a fourth was a "jangler” and a “golyardeys,” who at " wrastlynge” “wolde bere awey the ram.” Yet at the head of all was “a verray perfight gentil knight,” who set the example of good manners, carefully avoided all unbecoming words, and who, though “worthy, still was wise.” Such is the modern“Il Pellegrino:" the scenery of new lands only awakens the sentiments of the heart; the encountering of a various humanity begot no ill words; and the incidents and characters of the wayside, as also the discomforts inseparable from continental travels, are all alike hit off in a humorous off-hand manner. The gentleman is always uppermost -the scallop-shell covers, but does not obliterate the escutcheon.
It was at that season of the year, we are apprised, when people in London had retired into the backs of their houses, carefully closing all the shutters in front, so as to leave an impression on the passer-by that they were "out of town," that our pilgrim set forth upon his travels; the ladies becoming “ pea-green corpses” on the passage, while some gentlemen “considered sea-sickness a shocking waste of good food." They were received at landing by the usual crowd of “magnificent and ferocious gentlemen and authorities," and then a train,
Like a wild and demon horse,
Started with screams on its angry course, and hurried them (for they were three) to the valley of the Aar, which we are assured means “simply twelve thalers — nothing more," for nothing grew there save " the scarlet geranium--emblem of stupidity.” The Rhine scenery to “ fast pilgrims" of modern times was just the same as of yore-"the old identical and eternal ruins sacred to warriors, bishops, poets, rats, cats, and other animals." One page is turned over, and we are at Zurich, and then on the Rigi Kulm, which our pilgrims discover to be the culminating point of the mountain ; where French pilgrims have been beforehand with sketches of Cockney travelling costumes; where there is always one wretched and miserable man first out of bed; and where a band of music renders the coming of the God of Day “more impressive still.” Then there is Fluelen, where modern scepticism informs us that Tell never did those things for which tradition and monuments have consecrated the place, any more than the spirit of Pontius Pilate wanders round the gloomy mountain called after the unhappy governor of Judæa. A lady is next tricked out of the coveted corner of a railway carriage by a feat of acrobatics, and Berne is reached, but found to be “so full of bears and armorial bearings, that it is almost unbearable!"
* IL PELLEGRINO; or, “Wanderings and Wonderings." In Two Vols. By Captain J. W. Clayton, F.R.G.S., &c. &c. T. Cautley Newby.
A greater bear than all, however, is the British traveller, as morose, growling, and unsocial an animal as any Arctic Bruin-beg pardon, “ gentleman in the fur coat," as the timid Laplander would call him, in language meant to conciliate. Well, then, in the log hut on the crest of the Faulhorn, there were a group of these amenities; “on entering the facetious-looking salle à manger five or six other miserable and deluded wretches were discovered sitting, stolid, silent, shivering, and stupid, round one coal, burning in a dilapidated iron stove; no one individual seemed to know the other. A most painfully, well-bred, and thorough English state of embarrassment succeeded; everybody seemed to look with suspicion out of the corners of their eyes at every one else.” And so they were, in this highly improving state of mind, assembled together in the clouds to pass the remainder of the day. No wonder that the chatty, communicative, light-hearted Gaul should dread being thrown in company with “ la morgue Brittanique” in his travels! A similar scene at the Hôspice on the St. Bernard, where a “ semicircle of apathetic loggerheads,” seated round a blazing wood fire, were quite “ unapproachable through the wall of stern reserve they had built up around them,” was suddenly interrupted and dispelled by the appearance of the eversmiling face of the “ Hero of Mont Blanc"'--the entrance of no less a personage than Albert Smith himself.
But we are anticipating. Interlachen had to be “ done," and our pilgrims were blandly informed by a London footman on the door-steps of a chalet (how strangely out of place? bad as the lady's-maid at Karnak!) that that was the “Ed ouse in the ole village.” Then there is a story of an old gentleman who objected to fast young pilgrims smoking in a railway carriage, and declared that he would inform. So at the next station the delinquents jumped out first and informed against the old gentleman, and having the best of numbers and linguistic gifts, he (the innocent old man) was mulcted in a fine! The char-à-banc to Chamounix was shared with a "divinely-tinted young lady,” for whom our pilgrim wrote some lines, one of which runs as follows:
Those gentle eyes only for him had one expression; smooth, the reader will observe, as the waters of the Arve after a storm. Chamounix itself was “undergoing a wonderful state of confusion and excitement, and human combustion,” for the Prince of Wales was among the sight-seers. Thence it was across the Col de Balme to Martigny and up the St. Bernard that the Hospice was reached, in a storm so trying to the pilgrim's nerves that he made a desperate bolt of it, and, arriving first,“ sank helpless and chilled to the bones on the door-steps of the monastery, whilst one of the good brothers was supporting him, as with a smile of solicitude he pressed a flask of cognac to his lips." We think we have seen the scene pictorially rendered by a competent artist.
At St. Remi our pilgrims, reinforced by the cheery “ Seigneur de Mont Blanc," embarked in "an opera-box drawn sideways by a donkey,” and it was in this curious vehicle that they reached Aosta, “ the chief depôt of the world's off-scum, disease, and deformity.” Having " discussed” old Augusta, our pilgrims made the best of their way past goîtred beggars and toppling crags to Pont St. Martin, where, “ athirst and hungry, there was nought placed before them but some unknown flesh, a compound of charcoal and gore, served up with dock-leaves, and
wine tasting like red ink, stirred up with an old razor." Sleep was banished by Aleas, and in the morning there was half a pint of water for ablution. There was no solace save in a cigar, and we are told that “the direst enemy of the fragrant weed would, in such straits, cheerfully acknowledge its consolatory effects." The speed of the train hence to Turin appeared very insipid to a Yankee tourist. In his own country he said the milestones, going by so quickly in succession, made the road look like a graveyard—a very ominous joke! At Turin, what struck our pilgrims most seem to have been the palatial hotels; and the two hours thence to Arona were enlivened by watching their fellow-travellers, two snuffy old ladies, a fat and greasy priest, and three other human nondescripts, scratching one another like monkeys in a cage. A next feat was to clamber up the interior of Carlo Borromeo, with an arm-chair in the nose, and a magnificent view of Lago Maggiore from the nostrils. The ascent of Monterone was effected on donkeys so obtuse that when once down, a fire had to be lit underneath to get them up again. Our pilgrims passed the night-we were going to say slept—at the Orta, in * the darkest, dirtiest, dismallest, direst of inns,” refreshed by the story of the discovery of a murder lately effected there through the medium of ants, and of two robbers torn to pieces by a bear, which they had mistaken for a pig. Our doughty pilgrims were, however, in no way discomposed, for next morning they took “headers ” into the translucent waters of the lake, although, as their crystal depths reflected, we are told, vividly the mountains around, the effect must have been that of throwing oneself directly against the summit of Monte Rosa.
Novara was reached after a long, hot, dusty martyrdom on the top of a diligence, the passengers, packed like figs in a drum, having, like the skunk, “ the curious faculty of distributing abroad the most dreadful and noxious odours." This is the land of the beautiful in nature and art ! The land which, before they had fairly got into it, the pilgrims proclaimed: “ There walk hand in hand the three Graces of genius, each breathing a separate and heaven-born language-a language taught by the echoes of angel-whispers, floating down from the Falls of Heaven, and shedding fresh sweetness upon the dull prison of clay; Music, the voice of the soul; Painting, of the mind; and Statuary, of the true and perfect.” But what disagreeables has the poor pilgrim to undergo ere he can reach all these perfections ? It is like the ascent of Sacro Monte, at Varallo, to inspect the " Massacre of the Innocents,” past bespattered figures clothed in old rags, the Redeemer covered all over with blood, dirt, and tangled masses of real red hair, and diseased and deformed persecutors belabouring their daubed victim with cudgels considerably larger than their bodies. There were charms in the land, however, ard four or five pages of mingled prose and poetry in honour of the syren of Lago Maggiore recals us fittingly to a sense of what is due to the beautiful especially oblivion of the ugly. We have not heart to turn from this sentimental picture to that of the “loving old English couple rolled up together in the same railway-wrapper like a huge palpitating German sausage;" yet such is travel-an ever-varying kaleidoscope! The ubiquitous English! The walls of the only hotel at Lugano were actually, we are told, like an orange-chest, bursting and bulging out with its burden of Anglo-Saxons !