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In one just at Death's door it was really absurd To see how her eye lighted up at that word Indeed there's not one in the language that I know, (Save its synonyms Spanish, Blunt,' Stumpy,' and · Rhino,)
Which acts so direct,
And with so much effect
It's a question with me
Which of the three,
'Twas the last quivering flare of the taper—the fire
Now I would not by any means have you suppose
Who entertain views
We're so apt to abuse,
Who haunt death-bed scenes,
By underhand means
Her sons to take care
That, let who will be heir,
Besides, you'll discern
It, at once, when you learn
Or nothing to signify,
Not what you'd dignify
All this in her ear
That her senses were wandering—she seemed not to hear,
-She expired, with her last breath expressing a doubt
(END OF CANTO 1.)
NOTES ON SOME NEW NOVELS, BY DR. PANGLOSS.
THE HOUR AND THE MAN. AN HISTORICAL ROMANCE, BY M188 MARTINEAU.CECIL:
: OR THE ADVENTURES OF A COXCOMB.—Some Account of My Cousin NichoBy Thomas INGOLDSBY.-COLIN CLINK, BY CHARLES Hooton.
Among the crowd of great men who figure in the historical annals of the last century, few deserve to hold a more prominent station than the celebrated negro general and
statesman, Toussaint L'Ouverture, the founder of the independence of St. Domingo, whose glorious task it was not only to rouse the dormant spirit of freedom in the breasts of the despised and trampled blacks, but to fit them for its rational enjoyment when achieved. And this he successfully accomplished, by a union of such qualities as rarely meet in one individual. To uncommon sagacity, and ready apprehension of character, he added an inflexible determination of purpose, a moral and physical courage that no difficulties or dangers could daunt, a coolness and self-possession that the most unexpected events had no power to disturb, and, above all, a heroism and disinterestedness of nature, that, in the prosecution of its grand designs, invariably omitted all mere considerations of self. This distinguished man has been sometimes compared to Napoleon, and at one period of his career he was proud of the comparison, holding the servant of the French Republic, and the Conqueror of Italy, in the greatest reverence, and styling him the • First of the Whites,' as he himself was generally styled the . First of the Blacks.' But the comparison does injustice to Toussaint, for in high moral qualities he was far superior to Bonaparte. His was not the vulgar ambition of universal conquest; he had no desire to dazzle mankind by the splendour of military renown; the throne of Hayti, twice offered him, he refused with lofty disdain; the immense wealth that he might have amassed, he set not the slightest store on; but throughout his whole public career was influenced solely by the desire of becoming the benefactor and redeemer of his sable brethren. He has been accused of treachery and worldly.mindedness, and even taunted with his signal cruelties towards the French inhabitants of St. Domingo. Never were accusations more false. He was frank and single-minded to a degree-indeed, it was his trusting simplicity of character that led to his ruin ; and his humanity is incontestably demonstrated by the fact, that throughout his arduous struggle with the whites he adopted what he called the
no-retaliation system of policy. Under his wise and beneficent administration the French and Spanish colonists-notwithstanding the galling state of subjection in which they had for years kept the negroes—lived in the most perfect security; the laws were enforced with rigid impartiality; schools were established in every district, where the distinctions of caste and colour were, as far as possible, set aside; the agricultural and commercial resources of the island, which had long been neglected, were brought into a healthy state of activity; and the intellectual ener. gies of the blacks were developed to an extent of which no European would ever have supposed their nature capable. When it is borne in mind that all these vast changes were effected within the short space of ten years—that they were the work of one individual, who did not commence public life till nearly his fiftieth year, up
to which period he had toiled as a slave on the estates of a French planter; that he was wholly self.taught, and had to mould and discipline the minds, not of intelli. gent whites, but of ignorant and demoralized blacks; that, nevertheless, his chief weapons of authority were reason and clemency, and that he wielded them with an effect which even Napoleon, in the fulness of his supremacy, never produced—when these things are borne in mind, it will not, we conceive, be saying too much for Toussaint that he possessed moral and intellectual faculties of the loftiest order, and needed only a more extended and familiar sphere of action to have achieved the uni. versal renown of a Washington, to whom in disinterestedness and magnanimity he bore a striking resemblance. The close of this great man's career was mournsul, and cannot be thought of without emotion. His sun, that rose so brightly, set suddenly in storm and darkness. After achieving the independence of St. Domingo, he was kidnapped by the French authorities, in whose sense of honour he had rashly confided ; conveyed away to France ; imprisoned in an unwholesome Swiss fortress; and there left to die, unpitied and unknown, of cold, disease, and starvation. This, and the subsequent murder of Hoffer, are the two great blots in the escutcheon of Napoleon ; and when we think of the wide-spread renown that this unscrupulous conqueror obtained during his life, and the general homage that has since been paid to his memory, and then recall the closing hours of the patriotic negro chiel, we know not whether most to blame or pity the perverseness and infatuation of mankind.
In her historical tale of the Hour and the Man, Miss Martineau has traced Toussaint L'Ouverture's extraordinary fortunes with singular minuteness and ani. mation. Commencing with the period of the revolutionary war of St. Domingo, when he first began to distinguish himself, she has followed him step by step through out his subsequent course of action; portrayed him in all the various pliases of his versatile character—now as the triumphant general, now as the sagacious statesman, and now as the gentle and considerate father and husband; made us sharers of his inmost thoughts during his brief snatches of domestic felicity, and taught us, by his example, how to discriminate between true and false greatness-a useful lesson, and one which the world stands much in need of. As an outline, Miss Martineau's portrait of Toussaint is excellent, but she is not so happy in the filling.up. She refines overmuch, and in places her colouring is overcharged. Forgetting, apparently, the adverse circumstances of her hero's early life, and that his education, notwithstand. ing his innale vigour of mind, was at best but imperfect, she represents him as a man of the most polished tastes, and of such rare literary endowments as are sel. dom or never found without the pale of civilized society. When he reasons, he does so, not like a man of strong common sense, but like a subtle philosopher. In fact, the authoress reasons for him, and her logic has every recommendation but that of historical proprieiy. As a patriot, however, and a father, nothing can be truer or more beautiful than Miss Martineau's delineation of the negro chief. Here there is no veneering—no undue varnishing of character. She represents him as he really was, and the very homeliness and simplicity of her details furnish us with a guarantee for their correctness. We cannot compliment our authoress on the tact or vigour with which she has wrought up her sterner and more tragic incidents. She seems wholly deficient in dramatic power, and aims at producing effect by_impressive de. scription, instead of by characteristic dialogue. The scene where Toussaint signs the death-warrant of his son-in-law, General Moyse, and visits him in prison the night previous to his execution, though meant to be profoundly impassioned, is read with comparative indifference, from its utter want of mark and likelihood. It has eloquence enough ; but it is not the eloquence of the heart, but is the mere prompting of the fancy. In her scenic descriptions, which are numerous, Miss Martineau displays abilities not unworthy of Walter Scott. One would imagine that she had ro. sided for years beneath the burning sun of the tropics, so graphic are her sketches, and so strong is the impress of reality that she has stamped on them.
We commenced Cecil with a strong prejudice against it, occasioned partly by its title, and partly by the air of undue assumption that characterizes every page of its preface. The adventures of a coxcomb! What interest can possibly attach to the adventures of such an insect—the mere butterfly of fashion ? Who can care to know how he dressed; where he dined; what he said ; with whom he flirted at Almacks', or betted at Crockford's ? Possibly he may have made the grand tour; scaled half an Alp, or so ; peeped into the crater of Vesuvius; and hob-a-nobbed with Metternich at Vienna ; but what then ? doubtless he returned home as wise as when he quitted it; for your genuino Brummel-like coxcomb-no matter what be his opportunities of improving himself—is very apt to continue a coxcomb to the end of the chapter. Such were the reflections that occurred to us as we commenced the autobiography, of the Honourable Cecil Danby, in whom we fully expected to find another · Vivian Grey,' or • Young Duke;' that is to say, a combination of littleness and self-sufficiency,
most tolerable, and not to be endured,' to quote honest Dogberry's words. We had not proceeded far, however, before we discovered that we were wholly in error. Cecil Danby is not a coxcomb, and in so far, therefore, the title of the book is a misnomer. True, he is fond of show and dash ; entertains a good opinion of himself; and even aspires to the enviable reputation of a lady-killer; but this is the mere outside coating-the superficies of his character; a warm, manly heart beats within his breast; he is shrewd, observant, and of an intellectual order of mind; generous himself, and able to appreciate generosity in others. He does not shudder at the idea of being brought too closely in contact with an ill.made coat. A loud hoarse laugh, or a grin from ear to ear, does not set his teeth on edge. He can see redeeming qualities in a fellow-creature, even though he may be acquainted with the geography of Russell Square, enjoy a pantomime, and eat fish with a steel fork! Such a man is notcannot be—a coxcomb; and we repudiate, therefore, Cecil Danby's claim to the title. Indeed, he himself throws off the mask very early in his autobiography, and stands forth a clever, unaffected, spirited man of the world. His adventures abound in stirring incident, detailed in that arch, laughing, and occasionally satirical man. ner, which tells so well in light fiction. But his serious vein is his best, for it is evidently the most native to his mind. His episodical sketch of the poor Bohemian dancing-girl, whom he unexpectedly encountered at Venice, of her hapless love, and tragic end, seems written with a pen dipped in his own heart's blood. Nor must we omit to notice the singular ease and vigour of his cursory descriptive touches. He never labours to produce striking picturesque effects ;-a few rough, hasty dashes of the brush, and we have the picture complete. Cecil is one of the few novels likely to survive the season.
Who is not familiar with the poetical vagaries of THOMAS INGOLDSBY, the legitimate successor of the Younger Colman, whom in the rich and racy quality of his humour he resembles more than any other writer of the day, and whom he far surpasses in the brilliant, meteoric play of his fancy? We defy any one to read his rhymed.quips and quiddities' without conceiving a strong liking for the man, as well as the author. His drollery, like Falstaff's chuckling laugh, breathes the very spirit of good fellowship. It has nothing waspish or satirical in its character. It leaves no sting behind it. It is full of the oil of gladness; is broad-subtle-fantasticextravagant-as suits the caprice of the moment; but exhibits a strong catholic tendency even in its wildest freaks. In this respect it is thoroughly Rabelaisian, and would have been pronounced as such by the immortal author of the • Voyage to the Holy Bottle,' whose humour rose out of the exuberance of his good nature, and who revelled and grew fat upon laughter, as though it were meat and drink. When we read the droll conceits of Ingoldsby, we always imagine that they have been concocted in an easy arm-chair, without the slightest effort, and that their immediate prompter has been a bumper of fine old port. They smack, not of the lamp, but of the bee's wing; and afford unequivocal proofs that their author has not yet taken Father Mathew's Total-abstinence Pledge! Who that has once read can ever forget Ingoldsby's unctuous, heartfelt description of the midnight carousals of the fat Abbot Nicholas, and of the ghostly man's chagrin when he found that the plump, buxom wench at whom he had been casting many a sly sheep's eye, was no other than Sa. tan himself in petticoats? Who has not laughed till his sides ached at the convivial supper party of my Lord Tomnoddy; and Roger's tipsy frolic with the witches in the Squire's wine-cellar? Yet, when it suits his mood, Ingoldsby can lay aside the mad jester, doff his cap and bells, put on a serious face, and strike a deep chord of sentiment. His cursory sketch of the felon on his way to execution is full of the truest touches of pathos; and there is a ghastly horror in his • Legend of Hamilton Tighe,' which even Coleridge has scarcely surpassed. Not less successful is he in presenting objects to the reader, so as at once to rivet his attention. His pictures appeal to the eye, as well as to the imagination. In the grotesque lines, for instance,
• The Sacristan he says no word to indicate a doubt,
But he puts his thumb up to his nose, and he spreads his fingers out.' In these lines we have, not merely a rhymed couplet, but a rich bit of painting, as genuine as anything in Hogarth. Another of Ingoldsby's characteristic excellences in his versification. Nothing can be easier, gracefuller, or more varied than its flow. It abounds in musical cadences; is buoyant and flexible to a degree ; and thickly bestrewed with the dazzling lights of a salient and teeming fancy. The lines, unlike many of Tom Hood's, never halt, or hobble feebly along on crutches, but trip briskly on, unimpeded by expletives. The only fault we find with Ingoldsby's humour is, that it sometimes overmasters him, and fairly runs his judgment off its legs. In his eager. ness to make his good things tell, he is apt to overdo them. This, however, is a fault on the right side, and originates in the uncommon affluence of his genius.
Thinking thus highly of Thomas Ingoldsby as a humorist, we took up his “Cou. SIN NICHOLAS” with no slight curiosity, in the expectation that we should find him as irresistible in prose as he is in verse. And we have not altogether been disappointed, though we will consess that he exhibits to greater advantage as a poet than as a novelist. The necessity of adhering in some degree to real life, and maintaining the proprieties of character and incident, in a tale professing to depict the manners of the day, seems to have cramped his genius ; and not upfrequently he moves on with difficulty, as if in fetters. This is more especially the case when he attempts set description of a serious cast, as in his episode of Major Fortescue, whose romantic adventures not only disturb the interest, and check the progress of the story, to which it is attached by the slenderest possible links, but savour throughout of the marvel. lous. To make amends for this drawback, we have, in Sir Oliver Bullwinkle and his hopeful son Nicholas, two as forcibly drawn and well.contrasted characters as could be desired. The latter, in particular, may lay claim to the praise of decided originality, which is saying a great deal for it, in this age of exhausted invention. Few scenes can be more humorous or spirited of their kind than those wherein Nicho. Jas—who, it should be premised, has an ungovernable fancy for playing off practical jokes-passes off a hoax upon his father at Oxford ; sets Dr. Drench's staid old mare frisking with unaccountable vivacity, by the application of a bunch of stinging nettles to her tail, just at the moment when the unsuspicious Doctor is setting himself in the saddle; and endeavours to persuade the crusty Baronet that he is an apparition, having previously giving out that he was dead, by way of restoring the hopes of his own desponding creditors. In eccentric sketches like these, which, without being absolutely improbable, just hover on its confines, our author eminently excels, and flags only when he enters within the pale of every.day, commonplace existence. The denouement of the story is startling and unforeseen ; and the half.frantic attempts at parricide by Nicholas, when driven to desperation by the fierce threats of his credi. tors, comes on the reader like a thunder.clap. Indeed, a scene of more thrilling power than this last is hardly to be met with in modern fiction.
The description of the poor old Baronet, after the death of his idolized, but heart. less, son Nicholas ; of the gradual pressure of sorrow upon his stalwart frame; and of his final lapse into a state of idiotcy, is replete with sterling pathos. Here is a touch worthy of Sterne. Sir Oliver, we should observe, has been for months a silent, drivelling imbecile; but one morning, while seated at a window looking upon his park, he hears the report of a gun in the preserves, when 'he sprang from his seat with a vigour which to his attendants seemed little less than miraculous, and with a shriek that long after rang in their ears, he exclaimed, “ Hold-hold your hand, I say!-don't fire'tis my boy !'tis Nicholas !” This brief, simple allusion to the father's instincts surviving the wreck of his reason, is exquisitely true to nature. the second tale, entitled The Rubber of Lise,' we have merely space to say, that it is by no means deficient in interest. The quiz on Fancy Fairs is admirable.
COLIN Clink is a tale thoroughly English in its character, dealing for the most part with homely, every.day personages, and portraying them with a vigour and nicety of discrimination not often met with in the works of our modern novelists. Mr. Hooton has studied plebeian nature, as it shows itself in our more remote country districts, with evident care ; and the result is, a series of pictures painted with the force and exactness of a Gainsborough. He might have been more humorous, had he been less rigidly adherent to truth in his details; but he has preferred in every in. stance to keep within the pale of probability, and deserves credit for the rare good sense that dictated such a determination. His Colin Clink will ere long, we predict, grow in high favour with the public, and be read and admired when many more noisy clap-trap fictions are forgotten. Though, generally speaking, it maintains a level tone, -reminding us in this respect of Miss Austen's unpretending tales,-yet it contains scenes of tragic power which lay a strong grasp on the memory. Of such a surt is the account of the midnight conflict in the poacher's hut; and of the death of the mad doctor, which last graphic scene cannot be read without mingled emotions of awe and terror.' The numerous clever illustrations by Leech, interspersed throughout the volumes, add considerably to their attraction.