Page images

that stops the current which was wont to put this mighty formation into activity! Perhaps the incomprehensible Spirit may have acted in conjunction with its corporeal adherents to the last. Then, in one moment, what darkness and destruction follows a single gasp of breath!'

The commentary of The Doctor' is as follows:

• This fine passage is as consolatory in its former part, as it is gloomy at the conclusion; and it is gloomy there, because the view which is there taken is imperfect. Our thoughts, our reminiscences, our intellectual acquirements, die with us to this world—but to this world only. If they are what they ought to be, they are treasures which we lay up for heaven. That which is of the earth, earthly, perishes with wealth, rank, honours, authority, and other earthly and perishable things. But nothing that is worth retaining can be lost. When Ovid says, in Ben Jonson's play,-

“We pour out our affections with our blood,

And with our blood's affections fade our loves," the dramatist makes the Roman poet speak like a sensualist, as he was; and the philosophy is as false as it is foul. Affections, well placed and dutifully cherished; friendships, happily formed and faith. fully maintained; knowledge, acquired with worthy intent, and intellectual powers, that have been diligently improved, as the talents which our Lord and Master has committed to our keeping ;—these will accompany us into another state of existence, as surely as the soul in that state retains its identity and its consciousness.'-vol. ii., pp. 50-53.

On the subject of death, our author has many passages besides this, not less worthy of being extracted. We are sure every reader will thank us for the following specimen, and more especially for the anecdote of Thistlewood with which it concludes.

• It is one thing to jest, it is another to be mirthful, -Sir Thomas More jested as he ascended the scaffold. In cases of violent death, and especially upon an unjust sentence, this is not surprising ; because the sufferer has not been weakened by a wasting malady, and is in a state of high mental excitement and exertion. But even when dissolution comes in the course of nature, there are instances of men who have died with a jest upon their lips. Garci Sanchez de Badajoz, when he was at the point of death, desired that he might be dressed in the habit of St. Francis ; this was accordingly done, and over the Franciscan frock they put on his habit of Santiago, for he was a knight of that order. It was a point of devotion with him to wear the one dress, a point of honour to wear the other; but looking at himself in this double attire, he said to those who surrounded his death-bed, “ The Lord will say to me presently, “My friend Garci Sanchez, you come very well wrapt up!' (muy arropado) and I shall reply, Lord, it is no wonder, for it was winter when I set off.?" • The author who relates this anecdote remarks that “o morrer com




graça he muyto bom, e com graças he muyto mão :" the observation is good, but untranslateable, because it plays upon the word which means grace as well as wit. The anecdote itself is an example of the ruling humour “ strong in death ;” perhaps also of that pride or vanity, call it which we will, which so often, when mind and body have not yielded to natural decay, or been broken down by suffering, clings to the last in those whom it has strongly possessed.

• Don Rodrigo Calderon, whose fall and exemplary contrition served as a favourite topic for the poets of his day, wore a Franciscan habit at his execution, as an outward and visible sign of penitence and humiliation : as he ascended the scaffold, he lifted the skirts of the habit with such an air that his attendant confessor thought it necessary to reprove him for such an instance of ill-timed regard to his appear

Don Rodrigo excused himself by saying that he had all his life carried himself gracefully !—The author by whom this is related calls it an instance of illustrious hypocrisy. In my judgment the father confessor who gave occasion for it deserves a censure far more than the penitent sufferer. The movement, beyond all doubt, was purely habitual,-as much so as the act of lifting his feet to ascend the steps of the scaffold ; but the undeserved reproof made him feel how curiously whatever he did was remarked; and that consciousness reminded him that he had a part to support, when his whole thoughts would otherwise have been far differently directed. • A personage in one of Webster's plays says,

“ I knew a man that was to lose his head

Feed with an excellent good appetite
To strengthen his heart, scarce half an hour before,

And if he did, it only was to speak." Probably the dramatist alluded to some well-known fact, which was at that time of recent occurrence. When the desperate and atrocious traitor Thistlewood was on the scaffold, his demeanour was that of a man who was resolved boldly to meet the fate he had deserved; in the few words which were exchanged between him and his fellow criminals he observed, that the grand question whether or not the soul was immortal would soon be solved for them. No expression of hope escaped him, no breathing of repentance; no spark of grace appeared. Yet it is a fact which, whether it be more consolatory or awful, ought to be known) on the night after the sentence, and preceding his execution, while he supposed that the person who was appointed to watch him in his cell was asleep, this miserable man was seen by that person repeatedly to rise upon his knees, and heard repeatedly calling upon Christ his Saviour to have mercy upon him, and to forgive him his sins !

* All men and women are verily, as Shakspeare has said of them, merely players,—when we see them upon the stage of the world ; that is, when they are seen anywhere except in the freedom and undressed intimacy of private life.'-vol. ii. pp. 301-304


We are inclined to attribute to the author himself some lines which he gives as having been found worked on a little girl's first sampler at Ingleton-beautiful lines, with which we shall close our citations :

• Jesus, permit thy gracious name to stand
As the first effort of an infant's hand;
And as her fingers on the sampler move,
Engage her tender heart to seek thy love;
With thy dear children may she have a part,
And write thy name thyself upon her heart.'—vol. ii., p.

136. We much regret that we have not room for the love-story which fills the last chapters of volume second. We have no hesitation, however, in saying that it is the sweetest love-story that has been printed for many a day in the English tongue-every sentence in it breathes freshness of heart and purity of mind, and all is perfect homely simplicity, both in the thought and the expression. This jewel would alone make an enviable reputation.

Be this author who he may, the names which conjecture has banded about in connexion with his work imply, all and each of them, a strong impression of the ability and erudition which it evinces. At first, suspicion lighted almost universally, we believe, on the Poet Laureate himself; and certainly the moral, political, and literary doctrines of the book are such, in the main, as might have countenanced such a notion—nor do we hesitate to


the language of the book the extraordinary compliment of saying that much of it also might have done even Mr. Southey no discredit; but surely, of all the gross errors, both in the conception and in the execution, to which we have already alluded, the least could never have been supposed to have come from him,-unless, perhaps, in some merely juvenile prolusion, casually dug up out of a long-forgotten cabinet ; and their catalogue contains some items which even that theory could never have reconciled us to affiliate upon him. Of the real author of the work we happen to know he is ignorant ; so we may spare ourselves further speculation on this head. Mr. Frere, who has also been not unfrequently talked of, must have changed many of his opinions in these latter days, if he has had any hand in · The Doctor; but the comparative poverty of classical learning (strictly so called) in the book, is to us sufficient proof that it is none of his. Mr. D’Israeli, too, has been much mentioned; but that delightful and instructive writer, though he might have supplied all, and more than all, the learning of this odd work, could neither have reached the elegant clearness and precision of its style, nor condescended to affect certain feelings most beautifully and cordially expressed therein, and towards which, unfortunately for the world, his avowed works


exhibit, at best, a semi-poetical sort of respect. We confess that of all our distinguished contemporaries the one upon whom we ourselves were at first most inclined to fasten · The Doctor,' was Sir Egerton Brydges ; but this guess was soon overturned by abuse of Lord Byron (whom no one has praised more eloquently than Sir Egerton)—by just, but highly expressed laudation of Sir Egerton himself—and lastly, alas! by the frequent recurrence of passages indicating a happy and serene temper of mind, which, if Sir Egerton Brydges had possessed, he must long ere now have been one of the most popular, as well as, what no adequate judge of his writings can hesitate to pronounce him, one of the most elegantly accomplished and profoundly reflective authors of his age. A whisper seems now to be gaining ground that the book before us is in truth a joint-stock performance-but that the larger share belongs to Mr. Hartley Coleridge, of whose exquisite Sonnets we gave some specimens in a recent Number of this Journal. This may or may not be the fact—the gentleman's residence in Yorkshire has perhaps been enough to start a provincial rumour, which, should it be unfounded, he can have little reason to resent. Indeed, if . The Doctor'should prove at length to be a new candidate for literary fame, the names we have been reciting and rejecting will sufficiently attest the universal feeling that he, with all his defects, has been fully entitled to claim his degrees in cumulo.

Art.V.-Memoirs of the Emperor Jahangueir, written by himself;

and translated from a Persian Manuscript. By Major David Price, of the Bombay Army; Member of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland ; of the Oriental Translation Committee; and of the Royal Society of Literature.

4to. pp. 141. London. 1829. ITS T seems to be even as yet hardly known to the public at large, that

a committee of persons of great learning and eminence, most of them members of the Royal Asiatic Society, have been engaged, during the last four or five years, in giving to the world English and French translations from manuscripts in the Arabian, Persian, Cingalese, and other oriental languages. Supported by a list of subscribers, which, though not as numerous as we could wish, comprises the names of several individuals of the highest distinction in the country, they have been already enabled to produce upwards of thirty volumes connected with some branches of science, and almost every department of literature. We have treatises on algebra and geography, narratives of travels, memoirs, histories, romances, tragedies,

epic and lyric poems, sketches of national customs, and precepts of religion and morality. Whatever may be thought of the intrinsic value of some of these publications, it cannot be doubted that the zeal and liberality of the gentlemen, by whose exertions they have been collected and printed, are deserving of unqualified praise. Though hitherto uncheered even by the barren reward of popularity, Lord Munster and his colleagues have steadily persevered in the execution of an enterprise, which cannot ultimately fail to promote the interests of sound knowledge, and to reflect honour upon

the national character. The stores of Eastern literature, which are deposited in public and private libraries in England and France, and in the hands of Arabian, Hindoo, and Persian families, may be said, without exaggeration, to be inexhaustible. They are of course of various degrees of merit : but, excluding works on astronomy, mathematics, and medicine, which the greater progress of Europe in those sciences has rendered obsolete, it is known that there are amongst those manuscript collections many compositions of considerable interest and importance. Accomplished scholars and travellers, who have had access to those treasures, report that they comprehend volumes on ecclesiastical history and divinity, written by the fathers of the Syrian and Arabian churches, which illustrate the progress of Christianity during the earlier centuries of its existence; that they also include some valuable disquisitions on grammar and rhetoricand numerous works of fiction, not excelled by those of a similar class which have been already rendered familiar to us in every polished language of Europe. Histories of the Crusades, exhibiting minute details of wars, which, however mistaken in their origin, will never cease to captivate the attention of mankind, are also said to abound in the East, and to be well entitled to a wider sphere of celebrity. The treatise of Apollonius Pergæus, on conic sections, which was brought to Europe by Golius, and translated by Halley, was preserved from the ruins of Greek literature by a learned Arabian, who was employed for the purpose by the court of Bagdad. It is not, perhaps, visionary to suppose, that some others of the long-lost works of ancient Greece may yet be found among the versions, which are known to have been executed under the protection of the same authority during the enlightened and memorable period of the Caliphate.

To explore these sources of literature and science, and to render them available to the civilized world, is the very laudable ambition of the committee appointed to manage the subscriptions which are contributed to the Oriental Fund. This country ought to feel particularly interested in the results of their labours, from the intiVOL. LI. NO, CI.



« PreviousContinue »