صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

a reply, is in no great danger of becoming a catholic from the lectures of such profound teachers as these."

The Superior kept his word with me, and I never had reason to believe, that any farther attempts at conversion were made upon

[ocr errors]

my son.

We cannot, however, reprehend his mistaken conduct towards his child more severely than he does himself, and it is but just to give his words.

I must here acknowledge, with deep regret, not only the error of a theory, which I had adopted at a very early age, when older and wiser persons than myself had been dazzled by the eloquence of Rousseau ; but I must also reproach myself with not baving, after my arrival in France, paid as much attention to my boy as I had done in England, or as much as was necessary to prevent the formation of those babits, wbich could never afterwards be eradicated. I dwell on this painful subject, to warn other parents against the errors which I committed. I bad successfully reached a certain point in the education of my pupil ; I had acquired complete ascendency over his mind; he respected and loved me ; but, relying upon what I had already done, I trusted him to the care of another, who, with the best intentions in the world, had no experience in the management of children, or any habitual influence over his particular pupil. The boy soon obtained the mastery. The tutor was a man of abilities, and truly solicitous to discharge his duty ; but he was of an easy temper, and his mind was intent upon objects of his own.

He had a slight impediment in his speech, and had not a favourable disposition for learning languages. He had a French master, to whom he dedicated at least two hours every day. My son was invited, and tempted by various means, to partake of the lessons, to which his tutor so assiduously attended ; but the boy could never be induced to get by role the French irregular verbs, or to hear critical remarks upon the uses of certain common particles, which strangers are apt to confound and misapply. But in the mean time he learned to speak French fluently, and with a good accent; and before his tutor could express his wants at dinner with common accuracy, or indeed before he became intelligible to the people with whom he lived, my son was able to read and converse without any hesitation. The consequence might be easily foreseen. The boy perceived his superiority npon a subject of mutual pursuit; and the tutor, who had himself failed in learning French, could never afterwards persuade his pupil to learn Latin in the usual dull routine; neither could he induce him to apply steadily to any species of study, that required sedentary habits, or continued attention.'

We think we can perceive an improvement in Mr. Edgeworth's character, from the date of his union with his beloved Honora. Her talents seemed to have given new energy, and a right direction, to his active powers. His happiness is, however, interrupted by the death of his wife. The vivacity with which he bore up

against affliction—the wise perseverance with which he closed his eyes to evil anticipations, and which we think was one of the sources whence flowed the happiness of mind he so eminently enjoyed, was strongly evinced on this occasion. He not only mastered his grief, but soon married again, and returned to his native country, -when he may be said to have begun to live, if we estimate the term of a man's existence by the years of his usefulness. His exertions to ameliorate the condition of the Irish peasantry around him-his liberality, justice, and almost incredible patience, in this nearly hopeless attempt, must meet the warm admiration of every feeling heart. Miss Edgeworth's description of the scenes they witnessed upon their first arrival at their estate, convince us that “ Castle Rackrent" was indeed no overcharged picture.

· The back yard, and even the front lawn round the windows of the house, were filled with loungers, followers, and petitioners ; tenante, undertenants, drivers, subagent and agent, were to have audience; and they all had grievances and secret informations, accusations reciprocating, and quarrels, each under each interminable. Alternately as landlord and magistrate, the proprietor of an estate had to listen to perpetual complaints, petty wranglings, and equivocations, in which no human sagacity could discover truth, or award justice. Then came widows and orphans, with tales of distress, and cases of oppression, such as the ear and heart of unhardened humanity could not withstand. And when some of the supplicants were satisfied, fresh expectants appeared with claims of promises, and hopes, beyond what any patience, time, power, or fortune, could satisfy. Such and so great the difficulties appeared to me, by wbich my father was encompassed on our arrival at home, that I could not conceive how he could get through them, nor could I imagine how these people had ever gone on during his absence. I was with him constantly, and I was amused and interested in seeing how he made his way through these complaints, petitions, and grievances, with decision and despatch; he, all the time, in good humour with the people, and they delighted with him ; though he often "rated them roundly,” when they stood before him perverse in litigation, helpless in procrastination, detected in cunning, or convicted of falsehood. They saw into his character, almost as soon as he understood theirs. The first remark which I heard whispered aside among the people, with congratulatory looks at each other, was“ His Honour, any way, is good pay."

The remainder of his life is passed in active exertion, in affording happiness to a large family, and contentment to a numerous tenantry. He entered into politics, and became a member of parliament; but it was in his domestic circle that he appeared to greatest advantage. He grew old, but his age was not “ dark and unlovely." Miss Edgeworth, making full allowances for filial Vol. II.

45

partiality, has exhibited a beautiful picture of declining age; but we must add-it is a cold one.

We cannot but admire the pure morality of Mr. Edgeworth's character, respect his integrity and disinterestedness, and love his amiable qualities; yet, without feeling bigoted, without daring to judge how far these virtues alone may influence the future destiny of their possessor, we wish that religion had appeared among them. Mr. Edgeworth's code of morals is beautiful as the statue of Pygmalion, but like it, it wants life. We wish to bestow on it a soul, a vital principle; and we perceive that the lips, which discourse so eloquently of morals and philosophy, have not been touched by holy fire. We find the principles of honour and benevolence, where we look for those of faith and piety.

There is always an unpleasant feeling which accompanies biographical reading. The child, whose steps to manhood we have watched, whose sorrows we have pitied, and whose happiness we have in some measure shared, —we must also follow down the vale of life, mark his strength fail-his mind decaylean over his dying bed, and attend him to his grave. With much of this feeling we closed these memoirs—the history of threescore years, life's limited span—their various events, joys, sorrows, passions, loves—all comprised in the space of three hundred pages. We read of his afilictions and vexations, and turning to the close of the volume, exclaim, “what matters it !"

Art. VII. The Political State of Italy. By TheoDORE LY

MAN, Jr. Boston. Wells and Lilly. 1820.

This is one of the best specimens of book-making, either cisor trans-atlantic, that we recollect to have seen: Four hundred and twenty-four pages, comprising thirty-three chapters and three appendices, in pica type and leaded lines, on beautiful wove paper and with a broad margin, constitute the body of the work: and fifteen pages in bourgeois, on the same beautiful paper, present the table of contents—which contents are again set before us, in numerical succession, at the heads of the respective chapters to which they belong. The typography does credit to the well established reputation of Messrs. Wells & Lilly—and the precaution taken by the author to apprize his readers in the small type of all that he has to say in the large, shows his kindness towards that class of indolent gentlemen, who wish to have the reputation

of knowing every thing about a book, and at the same time to be freed from the trouble of perusing it.

It is confidently stated, that Mr. L. has actually travelled in Italy, and that the work before us is to be considered a volume of travels. There are, certainly, sundry matters and anecdotes set forth in it, entirely at variance with the notion, that the writer had made his book out of materials collected exclusively in his study, and that he had not visited “Rome, Naples, and the Lombard-Venetian Kingdom.” It is true, he has forborne giving any preliminary notice of himself-or stating whence he came or whither he was going-what his views and objects wereor, indeed, craving in any shape or form the favour of his readers, by the customary modest avowal, that he was all incompetent to the treating of such “high matters," as are contained in his book that it was compiled for his own amusement, and was, by the importunity of partial friends, quite against both his will and his judgment, obtruded upon a discriminating, and yet, as he would hope, an indulgent public. In this Mr. L. shows his independence. He does not even seek favour, by an alluring titlepage. He knew what fascinations there were in the very word Travels and omits it. He knew how apt feeling, and, if the reader pleases, prejudice, are to be forestalled by pleasant introductions of autobiography. He would not descend to any of these common and persuasive arts; but comes sternly down upon his reader, in the first chapter, with an account of the “ Index Expurgatorius"that formidable weapon of Romish hostility against the freedom of the press; and in the course of eight pages, musters up Popes, Cardinals and Philosophers, in English, French and Latin, with an ease and familiarity, that would almost throw into the back ground the ponderous learning of the Belgic Scholiasts.

We intend to part with Mr. Lyman in great candour and with perfect good nature. We have read his book through,-a fact we understand, as to many works not very interesting, of rather equivocal bearing among the brotherhood of critics and we have no hesitation in saying, that we derived somewhat more pleasure from its perusal, than the judgments we had heard pronounced upon it led us to anticipate. We have suffered the less fatigue, in that the Latin, Italian, and French, which are scattered quite liberally throughout the work, are of so accommodating and plain-faced a character, as to give but little trouble in the translation ; and that the Statistics, which constitute its principal part, are put down in such good intelligible numerals, as to leave but scanty room for arithmetical captiousness. The work, however, it must be admitted, has its imperfections.

All, at least, all who can say that the cultivation of letters has been, to any considerable extent, their study and delight, know

what enchantments are thrown about the nameItaly. From the schoolboy who reads the story of Æneas, to the soldier, the patriot, the statesman, the philosopher, the artist, the orator, the poet, and the religionist-Italy furnishes associations and recollections, on which they love to speculate, to dwell, to feel, and to ponder. The theatre of so many great achievements—the mother of so much talent—the nurse of so much profligacy-the field of so much blood, and the cradle of so many revolutionsshe is vastly imposing, in the melancholy magnificence of her ruins; and much more calculated, in these respects, to secure the notice of the intelligent stranger when he traverses her territory, and the favourable attention of the reader of his travels,than any very minute accounts of births and deaths, or-careful computations, on given spots and in certain months, of the tendency of the principle of population, as Malthus might call it, to produce a disparity in numbers between the sexes.

If one undertakes to travel through and to write of Italy, without throwing a scholar's glance at the relics of its grandeur, or musing awhile upon the achievements and memorials of the arts, or lending some hours to its classical recollections, he will scarcely reconcile himself to his readers,—unless he can show that he acted under some such “despotic consciousness of duty," as controlled Howard, in his journey of philanthropy :-—that he had “one great work to do,”and that all else must be made subordinate to it :-that the objects of his pursuit were of so high and grave a character, as to make it almost criminal to allow the imagination any wing, or taste, any province; and withal, of so precise and arithmetical a bearing, as to forbid any notice of the prevailing manners and habits of the country; any analysis of its social, literary and scientific character; any examination into the springs of action which prevail there; or any prophecies respecting its future hopes and prospects.

Now we cannot help the conviction that Mr. Lyman must have felt himself under some such imperative moral obligation, to induce him to forego the credit of furnishing, and us the pleasure of reading, a much more ingenious and attractive book. He must, we think, have made “a covenant with his eyes," to be blind to all those objects which are emphatically interesting in Italy. He seems to have been mainly solicitous to be a favourite with the census takers, the tax gatherers, the sextons, the jailors, and the superintendents of hospitals and infirmaries. We presume, he insured accuracy to his statements, as well as gratified the vanity of the above-mentioned personages, by obtaining from them, personally, the returns in their respective departments. We fear, however, he did not allow himself to be cumbered with any great amount of more general and elevated

« السابقةمتابعة »