صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

It has often been observed, that the courage of all men is subject to fluctuation. The general who would boldly meet his enemy, dreads to encounter the gentle waves of an undisturbed sea; a brave soldier has been known to tremble before a cat; and it is said of a modern hero, whose brows are encircled with a coronet, that when he first entered the list of fame, and heard the loud shout of angry battle, he trembled. We will therefore more readily excuse a transient failure in Sir Andrew's valour, when he hears such serious accounts of his opponent's skill.

Sir Toby. Why man, he's a very devil ; I have not seen such a virago; I had a pass with him, rapier, scabbard and all, and he gives me the stuck in with such a mortal motion, that it is inevitable: and on the answer, he pays you as surely as your feet hit the ground they step on; they say he has been sencer to the Sophy.'

Sir Andrew's reply, though not a very bold, is an extremely natural one, and contains a sentiment which many men in his situation, were they as candid as he, would express. “Plague on't : an I had thought he had been so valiant, and so cunning in fence, I'd have seen him damned ere I'd have challenged him.” The unwilling combatants, however, draw near; while, to inspirit Sir Andrew, Sir Toby assures him that his enemy has sworn not to harm him, to which the Knight most earnestly answers, “ Pray God he keep his oath.” Officers of the law interfere, and prevent bloodshed; but when Viola is led off under arrest, Sir Andrew's fugitive courage returns, and he pursues his supposed rival on murderous deed intent. But alas for the rash Knight-he mistook his man, and lighted upon Sebastian, and the consequences he thus bewails. “ He has broke my head across, and given Sir Toby a bloody coxcomb too: for the love of God your help: I had rather than forty pound I were at home,”—and thus discomfited in love and in battle, Sir Andrew takes his final leave.

But we cannot take our leave without trespassing further on the reader's attention, and turning a little aside from our subject, to indulge in some literary scandal. Every one must recollect Wamba, in Ivanhoe, and the artifice he uses to gain access into the castle of Front-de-Bouf: where, in assuming the friar's cowl, he too evidently doffs the fool's cap and bells; and though he substantiates his fidelity as a friend, weakens his reputation as a true fool. No one has forgotten his “Pax vobiscum," or his too sensible remarks on assuming his disguise, or if they have, can fail to remember it, when they read the following scene from the Twelfth Night.

Maria. Nay, I prithee, put on this gown and beard ; make him believe thou art Sir Topas, the curate: do it quickly, I'll call Sir Toby the whilst.

Clown. Well, I'll put it on, and I will dissemble myself in it ; and I would

[blocks in formation]

I were the first that ever dissembled in such a gown: I am not half fat enough to become the function well, nor lean enough to be thought a good student.

Sir Toby. Jove bless thee, master parson.
Clown. Bonos dies, Sir Toby.'

The Clown wears his cowl as easily, though not in such peril, as his successor, Wamba : “ The knave counterfeits well; a good knave.We do not remark this coincidence with any desire to depreciate the merit of the extraordinary genius who has added so much to the literary treasures of the age, but cite it as an instance of the felicity with which he adopts remote hints, and by making them his own, renders them more valuable.

Art. III.- Travels in France and Italy, in 1817 and 1818. By

the Rev. WilliAM BERRIAN, an Assistant Minister of Trinity Church, New-York. 8vo. pp. 403. T. & J. Swords.

We do not agree with those reviewers, who believe the day for the personal narratives of travellers to be past. It is true, that much idle and egotistical matter may be obtruded on our notice in this manner; yet we greatly prefer a lively detail of occurrences, which represents incidentally the customs of a people, to any formal and dull statistical account. The chance for novelty, at least, is on the side of the traveller; and we conceive there can be no safer method of forming our opinions of a people at a distance, than by listening to the relation of well chosen facts.

He who travels with a view to write, should seize every opportunity of coming in contact with the inhabitants he visits; and then nothing more is necessary than ability to discern and fidelity to record. We wish not to be understood as saying, that after hastily running over a certain district of country, a writer is always qualified to convey a just idea of the character of its people; but we wish every man to relate what he sees, as it occurs, and by so doing, he enables us to form a juster estimate of the value of his facts. But to explain ourselves more fully: Suppose two men undertake to give an account of any particular country, from the result of their own observations. One travels through it, sees the people as well as he can, collects what anecdotes he may, draws his own conclusions, and then, perhaps with the aid of a few books, communicates the result to the world, under the sounding title of Remarks, National Character, or perhaps Statistics. The other travels also-relates, in the form of a personal narrative, every thing of moment which occurs-gives us his method of reasoning, it is true, but so closely connected with the facts that we are

at liberty to reason for ourselves; and carries us with him, as it were, to examine every witness on whose testimony he makes up his verdict. In the one case we are to yield implicit belief to the opinions of another man; and in the other, the reasons are given to us, and we are left to judge for ourselves. We very well know, this liberty to introduce their private adventures on our notice, is often abused by travellers; and we also know that many of the more pretending writers condemn us to wade through an equal quantity of misrepresentation, without giving us by way of compensation half the amusement. If we object to any particular fashion of recording travels, it is that which compels us to read, for the hundredth time, descriptions of the same places, and of things that cannot alter. We do most heartily wish we could have a good book of travels through modern Italy, that should say not one word about Mount Vesuvius, St. Peter's, nor the Venus de Medici. The first is a burning mountain, and has been so, and probably will continue to be so, for some thousands of years : and should it disappear, we make no doubt we shall obtain prompt notice of the event from the Neapolitans themselves; especially now that they are about obtaining the important privilege of the liberty of the press. When our brother reviewers vent a few official anathemas against these trite and worn out descriptions, we cheerfully respond to their denunciations; but still we must maintain the narrative to be the better book of the two; as it may at all events give us some insight into human nature.

Books of travels are much wanted in this country. It is of great moment, in a popular government like ours, and where the agency of the people in public measures is so direct, that just opinions should be entertained of foreign nations. It is the people we would know, and it is all important that we should see them with American eyes. For our part, we wish that no intelligent American who travels would forget to give his countrymen an account of what he has seen; and we would have this practice to continue, until we have at least collected enough of testimony to enable us to make our decisions unbiassed by the prejudices of European rivalry. We have so far spoken of what is best for ourselves. But cæteris paribus we believe an American better qualified to give an impartial account of the Christian world, than a man of any other nation of the earth. Comparatively speaking, as a nation we have nothing to hope for, and as little to fear, from any power; consequently, we are equally removed from prejudice and partiality. As a people, we are acute, discriminating and inquisitive. Common sense, and a rational manner of viewing the things of this life, are characteristics of our nation. It is the prevalence of this fastidious taste which represses among us the exuberance and exhibition of talent more than any

want of leisure or patronage; yet they are qualities which fit us admirably to judge of our neighbours. The scale of Christian morals among us is very justly graduated, being alike free from fanaticism and superstition. We are without hauteur and easy of access, qualities which help us wonderfully in our intercourse with strangers, and in which the English, as a people, are absolutely wanting ;-in short, the reasons are numberless.

We read with pleasure any book, written by one of our own countrymen, which professes to give an account of a foreign nation. As yet the number of such works, compared with the multitude who travel, has been small indeed; but we hail it as a favourable symptom that, small as that number is, a majority of these works have appeared within a very few years. Silliman, White, Noah, James and Berrian are all recent travellers; and although, perhaps, neither of these gentlemen expects to be placed very high in the scale of this order of writers, we believe each of their books may be read with profit. Simond we class among the most pleasant and ablest of foreign tourists, when we consider the beaten path in which he trod; but Simond, although so long an inhabitant and a citizen of our republic, wrote more like a Frenchman than an American. Noah was very amusing and instructing until he began to be learned, when the character of his book changed.

But to turn our attention more particularly to the one before us :—The Rev. Mr. Berrian was, and still continues to be, Assistant Minister of Trinity Church in the city of New York, Symptoms of a decline induced him, in 1817, to flee from the impending rigour of an American winter, to the milder climate of Italy. Accompanied by a friend, whose case was much more threatening than his own, our author embarked on board a ship bound to France. His voyage was short; but still it afforded enough of materials to occupy several pages of his book. He saw terrible sights—was in danger of shipwreck-finds great fault with his captain for carelessly sleeping through all the preparatory warnings of a Dutch boatswain, to a gale that, notwithstanding the captain's obstinate indifference, continued full three hours. In short, like most novices on the ocean, our author saw more than he relished, and less than he expected.

We believe, on the whole, the best course for landsmen to pursue, is always to act under the impression of the man, who said, . he car'd not if the vessel did sink, he was nothing but a passenger :' As we have a sly suspicion, that by recounting our adventures on the mighty deep, we only create amusement for those who know better. We will therefore leave our traveller until we have him on his own proper element, where he appears to much better advantage. He arrived at Rochelle, and gives us

a clear idea of the impressions he received at his entrance into a strange land. It is this kind of writing that we covet. Having a pledge in the character of the author that the facts are faithfully related, to our minds it is not only the most agreeable, but the most distinct method of conveying knowledge of this sort. · It shows us at once the difference between ourselves and strangers, and under the same circumstances.

The antipathy to the English, which has been generated more by their manners than any national depravity, is frequently mentioned by our author in the course of his travels. In the French this could excite no surprise; the dislike is mutưal, and the agency of the British government, in subverting the gigantic power of Napoleon, will sufficiently account for their aversion. But it

appears to have extended to Italy, and must there be entirely owing to their overbearing manners. We extract the first instance witnessed by the author, only remarking, that he experienced similar treatment afterwards, and for the same reason. We include the latter paragraph, to show the high estimation in which the followers of Luther are held by the orthodox children of St. Peter's.

• When we returned to our hotel, and took our seats at the public table, we remarked a look and manner towards us amounting to rudeness and impertinence, We had noticed the same kind of deportment in the company at Rochefort. This, said I to myself, is the consequence of that horrible revolution which not only subverted the political institutions of the country, but entirely changed the manners of society. A new and vulgar race has sprung up, and instead of the ease, the courtesy, and finished elegance of the old regime, we have the coarseness and brutality of the sans culottes. But I had entirely mistaken the cause of their incivility. From some gross observations on the mode of living in England, which were evidently pointed at us, it appeared that we were taken for Englishmen : for as soon as they discovered, from our travelling companions, that we were Americans, there was a very striking change in their behaviour.

The next morning we procured a guide, who took us to some of the most remarkable places in the neighbourhood of Saintes. After having visited the ruins of the church of St. Seroine, he conducted us to the burying ground. The part which we first entered was open to the road, and only contained the graves of a few Protestants. The other, which was filled with Roman Catholics, was enclosed by a low and neat hedge. “ There," said our guide, pointing to the latter, “ lie the Christians, here lie the Protestants."

For a clergyman, our traveller has given a very tolerable portion of the kind of narrative that we like; but his classic taste makes heavy demands on his pen, and we are favoured throughput the whole book with descriptions of churches, ancient cu

« السابقةمتابعة »