Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

Honor O‘Hara; and includes so many characters, that our circumscribed review forbids us analyzing all; we must therefore content ourselves with a general survey, and a brief examination of the principal acting personages.

The first chapter opens with a description “ of an old tumbledown rectory at the upper end of a straggling village, hanging on a steep hill's side, in the North of England.” Within this antiquated dwelling, reside a Rev. Mr. Meredith, his wife, Miss Honor O'Hara, her Irish nurse Betty, with other domestics. Mrs. Meredith is admirably in character throughout; an absurd mass of vulgar ignorance, and coarse intellect: one of those beings so abundant in the world, who sprung from the dust of plebeian obscurity, love to keep down those whom circumstances have depressed, and yet the meanest fawner for the smirk of patronage ;---but we will copy the author here."

“ Miss Meredith was in truth a most formidable personage : being a lady, without either temper, sense, or breeding. For eighteen years, it had been her laudable practice to pass through the whole of her house twenty times every day, carrying all before her like a whirlwind ; scaring men, women, children, dogs and cats, through the whole of the ordinary day : this hurricane blew with the constancy of a trade wind, during which time Mrs. Meredith went slopping about in a dingy gown, and flap-eared cap, but on the signal of a visitor by the evening, the fierce drab changed into a smart woman, all smiles and servility; seated at the card table of a bettermost neighbour, or presiding over her own tea and toast, surrounded by Misses in muslin, and spinsters in scoured satin."

Mr. Meredith, the rector, is a man who “passed his time in his study, meekly submissive to the dominion of the petticoat;" of a “tender heart, a yielding temper, tolerable talents, and much better principles.” Disappointed of his first beloved, he was weak enough to admire Miss Simpson, an humble shipowner's daughter; and after his marriage, quietly submitted to the torments of an outrageous scold and tampering temper. Before we come to the hero and the heroine, we can just afford time to glance at the other characters. There is an old baronet, inhabiting of course an old mansion, and displaying all that is generally found in the old Sirs in the pages of a novel. He is nominated Sir Everard Fitz-Arthur; is of a jolly temperament, very hospitable, keeps good ale, and has the family arms quartered, over the stately portico"leading to Arthur Court.” Mrs. Preston comes next, having little more originality about her, and if it be possible to image the authoress in her novel, we apprehend she bears a resemblance to herself. Mrs. Shafto is an envious servile wretch, match-contriving, conceited creature, with three conceited husband-hunting daughters. A worthy dean, called Mulcaster, with a delightful family, consisting of a trio of beautiful daughters and most active, buoyant, and jocose son, form a conspicuous feature in the work : there are a great number of minor characters, but we cannot stay to analyze them, and at once proceed to a consideration of the leading two, Honor O'Hara, and Delaval Fitz-Arthur. From these two characters we draw the moral of the volume, viz. that the dreaming fancies of a young, inexperienced, and romantic heart, picturing perfection as necessary to attract and deserve her love, are not safe to be encouraged; they unfit the mind for more strengthening and solid attachments, and make

love to abide in the pride of a heated imagination, instead of being enshrined in the humble affection of a docile and diligent heart. Honor O'Hara is not so perfectly drawn as her lover, Fitz-Arthur: the wavering principles often appear too forced, and rather exhibited for the sake of a moral lesson than the developinent of character. Fitz-Arthur is exquisitely pictured, proud with meekness, lofty minded without a taint of disdain, warm yet prudent, and though properly estimating the glories of the hero, and the god-like energies of genius, is endowed with a taste for the serene usefulness of domestic life. But, much as we admire the many beautiful descriptions, the deep discernment and research exhibited through each volume,we could not escape a feeling of ennui after the first volume. The incidents are too little varied; every chapter is replete with meetings and partings, sighs and groans, and all the branching transactions of love's dalliance; we are aware, love must be the essence of a novel, but it is possible to develope it in a variety of transactions. We repeat it, the two last volumes are

mes exceedingly monotonous; there is nothing bad in style, or trifling in thought; but repeated allusions to a like subject, and tame calloquies, create the fatigue of dullness, instead of the delight of sympathy.

The following is the description of Honor O‘Hara.

“ Honoria really was charming, and being then at that childish age which privileges men in telling her she is so, the young red and blue coats were not slow in availing themselves of this privilege; and the fond nurse and admiring foster-sister was perpetually repeating what was said of the beautiful Miss Honoria's flower of a face. Honoria was singularly graceful, possibly from the very freedom of dress and movement. She never thought how she was looking, when met in a fresh morning running over the hills with her hat half blown off her head, all her locks scattered, and her cloak escaping from her laughing struggle to keep it folded round her. She never thought it might look inelegant, when she sat down on some three-legged stool at the foot of a village Goody, her elbow on her knees, her hand crushing half the ringlets of her hair over one side of her glowing face; and while loosening the knotted handkerchief from her throat, getting up in the face of her companion, asking some favorite legend of the Cheviots. By some craft or mystery known only to herself, our heroine had the extraordinary power of giving new expressions to old clothes. If she had a certain large straw hat closely drawn down with a silk handkerchief, she might have gone to a masquerade as a gipsy; if she allowed the same hat to stand wide, with streamers of ribbon, and a few wild flowers twined round its low crown, she was a shepherdess ; cast the hat off, and she was a Quaker in her close lawn cap; put that away, and twist the long ringlets of her forehead with the rest of her hair, and the finely shaped head, the expressive brow, and the large lifted eye, made her a Sappho.

“Honoria had a genius for drawing, that is, she sketched rapidly and freely the form of trees, old buildings, cattle, children, in short whatever picturesque group or object caught her attention ; but she knew nothing of working them up into a lady-like or workman-like drawings, fit for display. She sang as woodlarks do, sweetly, wildly : her taste was born of her sensibility, her tones were rich and downy, and had a certain pathos in them, which deepened the tender sadness of Scottish melodies, and those of her native land. She could also accompany herself, in a self-taught way, upon the Irish harp. Beyond this accomplishment, Honoria went out. She could, however, work like Arachne, arrange nosegays like Glycerium, make cakes and comfits like Mrs. Glasse, and dress herself at an instant's warning for a ball, out of a few ribbons. She told ghost stories better than any body: she had always some little comic touching anecdote to tell after ber tour among the cotters, or some amusing sally ready to answer the bantering of a lovely companion. She was always in good humor, though not always in good spirits. She gossipped with the aged poor, played with their grandchildren, patted their curs,

fondled their kittens, helped them with a little money when they were pinched to pay the doctor's bill; and neither playing the inquisitor into their concerns nor their consciences ; neither wearying them with lectures, nor pampering them with alms, bettered the hearts she was warming towards herself.”

Now is not Honor a dear creature, we ask? the fact is, we mean to look out for such another immediately, and therefore cannot wait a moment longer to introduce her lover, Delaval Fitz-Arthur.-Reader, prithee pray for our search after happiness.'

Friendship's Offering for 1827. Lupton Relfe, Cornhill.

Although the birth of this charming “ new-comer" has not yet been announced, we have been fortunate enough to obtain a peep at the child of promise, which we can confidently assert, not only bears a family name to its elder brothers and sisters, but can even boast of additional charms and graces. To drop from so homely a metaphor, into a plain matter of fact, the Offering for 1827, will be published on the date of our present nunber; and from the hasty glance we have had of its contents, we can phophecy that there will be a vigorous struggle for the palm of superiority between this knighterrant of the muses, and its rivals which are yet to come on the field. When we say that the claims of “ Friendship’s Offering” are supported by the first professors of literature and art, our readers will, we think, agree with us in our good opinion. We cannot resist an opportunity of presenting a taste of the good things this elegant bijou contains, reserving for another opportunity our intention of contrasting its pretensions

with those of its forth-coming competitors. Mrs. Hemans (whose name would alone shed a charm round the volume) has two or three beautiful pieces, from which we select the following:

LAST RITES.

BY MRS. HEMANS.
" By the mighty Minster's bell,
Tolling with a sullen swell;
By the colors half-mast high
O'er the sea, hung mournfully ;

Know, a Prince hath died !
By the drum's dull muffled sound,
By the arms that sweep the ground,
By the volleying musket's tone,
Speak ye of a soldier gone

In his manhood's pride.
By the chaunted psalm, that fills,
Reverently, the ancient hills,*
Learn, that, from his harvests done,
Peasants bear a brother on,

To his last repose,
By the pall of snowy white,
Through the yew-trees gleaming bright;
By the garland on the bier,
Weep! a maiden claims thy tear---

Broken is the rose.
* A custom still retained at rural funerals in some parts of England and Wales.

Which is tenderest rite of all ?---
Buried virgin's coronal ?
Requiem o'er the monarch's head,
Farewell gun for warrior dead,

Herdsman's funeral hymn ?
Tells not each of human woe ?
Each, of hope and strength brought low ?
Number each with holy things,
If one chastening thought it brings,

Ere life's day grow dim!" Although, as we have before said, there is a cluster of the highest names that sustain our literary pre-eminence, enrolled amongst the contributors of this beautiful little volume; we think we cannot give a greater proof of the thoral importance of celebrity, when compared to internal merit, than by extracting a nervous and highly-wrought little piece which is anonymous:

THE DYING BRIGAND.
“ She stood before the dying man,

And her eye grew wildly bright ;---
Ye will not pause for a woman's ban,

Nor shrink from a woman's might;
And his glance is dim that had seen you fly,

As ye before have fled:---
Look, dastards! how the brave can die---

Beware,---he is not dead !---
“By his blood ye have tracked him to his lair :---

Would you bid the spirit part !---
He that durst harm one single hair,

Must reach it through my heart.
I cannot weep, for my brain is dry,--.

Nor plead, for I know not how ---
But my aim is sure, and the shaft may fly,---

And the bubbling life-blood flow !
“Yet leave me, while dim life remains,

To list his parting sigh;
To kiss away these gory stains,

To close this beamless eye!---
Ye will not !---N0,---he triumphs still,

Whose foes his death-pangs dread---
His was the power---yours but the will :---

Back, ---back,---he is not dead !
“ His was the power that held in thrall,

Through many a glorious year,
Priests, burghers, nobles, princes, all

Slaves worship, hate, or fear:
Wrongs, insults, injuries, thrust him forth,

A bandit-chief to dwell ;---
How he avenged his slighted worth,

Ye, cravens, best may tell !---
“His spirit lives in the mountain-breath,

It flows in the mountain-wave ; ---
Rock,---stream ---kath done the work of death,

Yon deep ravine the grave !--

That which hath been, again may be !--

Aye, by yon fleeting sun,
Who stirs, no morning ray shall see,---

His sand of life has run!

[ocr errors]

Defiance shone in her flashing eye,

But her beart beat wild with fear :-
She starts, ---the bandit's last faint sigh

Breathes on her sharpened ear.---
She gazes on each stiffening limb,

And the death-damp chills her brow ;---
For him I lived---I die with him !

Slaves, do your office now!" Our hasty glance must conclude with the following “ Stanzas," which have all the delicacy of expression, and sweetness of feeling, of their deservedly popular author:

[blocks in formation]

BY HENRY NEELE, ESQ.
“ Sing me a lay,---not of knightly feats,

Of honor's laurels, or pleasure's sweets ;
Not of the brightness in beauty's eyes,
Not of the splendors of royalty ;
But of sorrow, and suff'ring, and death, let it tell---
Of the owlet's shriek, and the passing bell,
Of joys that have been, and have ceas'd to be ;---
That is the lay,---the lay for me.
Twine me a wreath,---but not of the vine,
Of primrose, or myrtle, or eglantine ;
Let not the fragrant rose breathe there,
Or the slender lily her white bosom bare,
But twine it of poppies so dark and red,
And cypress, the garland that honors the dead
And ivy, and nightshade, and rosemary ;---
That is the wreath,---the wreath for me.
Bring me a robe,---not such as is worn
On the festal eve, or the bridal morn,
Yet such as the great and the mighty must wear;
Such as wraps the limbs of the brave and the fair ;
Such as Sorrow puts on, and she ceases to weep;
Such as Pain wraps round him, and sinks to sleep ;

The winding-sheet my garment shall be :---
That is the robe ---the robe for me.
Oh ! for a rest---not on Beauty's breast,
Not on the pillow by young Hope prest,
Not 'neath the canopy Pomp has spread,
Not in the tent where shrouds Valour his head;
Where grief gnaws not the heart tho' the worm may

feed there,
Where the sod weighs it down, but not sorrow or

care :

Thę grave, the grave, the home of the free ;---
That is the rest,---the rest for me."

The Editor (T. K. Hervey) has some very beautiful lines from his own pen, which we do not intend to let escape our “ admiring ken."

« PředchozíPokračovat »