صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

where they play at cricket, we noticed a pretty, moderate-sized house, with the largest geraniums growing on each side the door that we ever beheld in that situation. Mitcham reminded me of its neighbour Merton, and of the days of my childhood; but we would not go out of our way to see it. There was the little river Wandle however, turning a mill, and flowing between flowery meadows. The mill was that of a copper manufactory, at which the people work night as well as day, one half taking the duties alternately. The reason given for this is, that by night, the river, not being interrupted by other demands upon it, works to better advantage. The epithet of "flowery," applied to the district, is no poetical license. In the fields about Mitcham they cultivate herbs for the apothecaries; so that, in the height of the season, you walk as in the Elysian fields,

"In yellow meads of asphodel,
And amaranthine bowers."

Apothecaries' Hall, we understand, is entirely supplied with this poetical part of medicine from some acres of ground belonging to Major Moor. A beautiful bed of poppies, as we entered Morden, glowed in the setting sun, like the dreams of Titian. It looked like a bed for Proserpina, a glow of melancholy beauty, containing a joy perhaps beyond joy. Poppies, with their dark ruby cups, and crowned heads,-the more than wine colour of their sleepy silk, and the funereal look of their anthers, seem to have a meaning about them, beyond other flowers. They look as if they held a mystery at their hearts, like sleeping kings of Lethe.

The church of Mitcham has been rebuilt, if we recollect rightly, but in the proper old style. Morden has a good old church, which tempted us to look into the church-yard; but a rich man who lives near it, and who did not chuse his house to be approached on that side, had locked up the gate; so that there was no path through it except on Sundays. Can this be a lawful exercise of power? If people have a right to call any path their own, I should think it' must be that which leads to the graves of their fathers and mothers; and next to them, such a path is the right of the traveller. The traveller may be in some measure regarded as a representative of wandering humanity, and claims relationship with all whom he finds attached to a place in idea. He and the dead, are all alike in

a place, and yet apart from it. Setting aside this remoter sentiment, it is surely an inconsiderate thing in any man to shut up a church-yard from the villagers; and should these pages meet the eye of the person in question, he is recommended to think better of it. Possibly I may not know the whole of the case; and on that account, though not that only, I mention no names; for the inhabitant with whom I talked on the subject, and who regarded it in the same light, added, with a candour becoming his objections, that "the gentleman was a very good-natured gentleman too, and kind to the poor." How his act of power squares with his kindness, I do not know. Very good-natured people are sometimes very fond of having their own way; but this is a mode of indulging it, which a truly generous person, I should think, will on reflection, be glad to give up. Such a man, I am sure, can afford to concede a point, where others, who do not deserve the character, will try hard to retain every little proof of their importance.

On the steps of the George Inn at Morden,-the rustic inn of a hamlet,-stood a personage much grimmer than the White Lion of Streatham; looking, in fact, with his fiery eyes, his beak, and his old mouth and chin, very like the cock, or "grim leoun," of Chaucer. He was tall and thin, with a flapped hat over his eyes, and appeared as sulky and dissatisfied, as if he had quarrelled with the whole world, the exciseman in particular. We asked him, if he could let us have some tea. He said, "Yes, he believed so;" and pointed with an indifferent, or rather hostile air, to a room at the side, which we entered. A buxom good-natured girl, with a squint that was bewitching after the moral deformity of our friend's visage, served us up tea; and "tea, Sir," as Johnson might have said, "inspires placidity." The room was adorned with some engravings after Smirke, the subjects out of Shakspeare, which never look so well, I think, as when thus encountered on a journey. Shakspeare is in the highway of life, with exquisite side touches of the remoteness of the poet; and nobody links all kindly together as he does.

We afterwards found, in conversing with the villager above mentioned, that our host of the George had got rich, and was preparing to quit for a new house he had built, in which he meant to turn gentleman farmer. Habit made him dislike to go; pride and his

wife (who vowed she would go whether he did or not) rendered him unable to stay; and so, between his grudging the new comer and the old rib, he was in as pretty a state of irritability as any successful non-succeeder need be. People had been galling him all day, we suppose, with shewing how many pots of ale would be drank under the new tenant; and our arrival crowned the measure of his receipts and wretchedness by intimating, that "gentlefolks" intended to come to tea.-Adieu till next week.

To the Worshipful and Right Social Master E. H. and our other well-beloved Companions, one and all,these with all speed. Print, print; print for your life.

THE LATE FIRES.

It is astonishing how little imagination there is in the world, in matters 'not affecting men's immediate wants and importance. People seem to require a million thumps on the head, before they can learn to guard against a head-ache. This would be little; but the greater the calamity, the less they seem to provide against it. All the fires in this great metropolis, and the frightful catastrophes which are often the result, do not shew the inhabitants that they ought to take measures to guard against them, and that these measures are among the easiest things in the world. Every man, who has a family, and whose house is too high to allow of jumping out of the windows, ought to consider himself bound to have a fire-escape. What signifies all the care he has taken to be a good husband or father, and all the provision he has made for the well-being of his children in after life, if in one frightful moment, in the dead of night, with horror glaring in their faces, and tender and despairing words swallowed up in burning and suffocation, amidst cracking beams and rafters, sinking floors, and a whole yielding gulf of agony, they are all to cease to be !-to perish like so many vermin in a wall. Fireescapes, even if they are not made so already (as we believe they are) can evidently be constructed in a most easy, cheap, and commodious manner. A basket and a double rope are sufficient. Or two or three would be better. It is the sudden sense of the height at which people sleep, and the despair of escape which consequently seizes them, for want of some such provision, that disables them from thinking

[ocr errors]

of

any other resources. Houses, it is true, have very often trapdoors to the roof; but these are not kept in readiness for use; a ladder is wanting; or the door is hard to be got up; the passage to it is most likely difficult, and involved in the fire; and after all, the roof may not be a safe one to walk over; children cannot act for themselves; terror affects the older people; and therefore, on all these accounts, nothing is more desirable than that the means of escape should be at hand, should be facile, and able to be used in concert with the multitude below. People out of doors are ever ready and anxious to assist. Those brave fellows, the firemen, would complete the task, if time allowed, and circumstances had hitherto prevented it; and handle the basket, and the little riders in it, with confidence, like so many chickens. A time perhaps will come, when every window in a high bed-chamber will have an escape to it, as a matter of course; but it is a terrible pity meanwhile, that for want of a little imagination out of the common pale of their Mondays and Wednesdays, a whole metropolis, piquing themselves on their love of their families, should subject themselves and the dearest objects of their affection to these infernal accidents.

POETRY OF BRITISH LADIES.
(Continued from p. 336.)

MRS SHERIDAN's verses are not so good as her novels. Miss Jones has a compliment to Pope, which Pope himself may have admired for its own sake.

"Alas! I'd live unknown, unenvy'd too;

'Tis more than Pope with all his wit can do."

"Miss Jones," says a note in Boswell quoted by Mr Dyce, "lived at Oxford, and was often of our parties. She was a very ingenious poetess, and published a volume of poems; and on the whole, was a most sensible, agreeable, and enviable woman. She was sister to the Rev. River Jones, Chanter of Christ-church Cathedral, at Oxford, and Johnson used to call her the Chantress. I have heard him often address her in this passage from Il Penseroso, "Thee, chantress, oft the woods among, I woo, &c."

This puts in a pleasant light both Johnson and the poetess. How is it that these women, who are at once clever and amiable, should so often die unmarried? A clever woman, who is unamiable, we can easily conceive to remain single. Amiableness without cleverness beats her to nothing (to use a very Irish metaphor). If we were a Shakspeare, we would rather marry a good-natured girl, who had nothing but the instinctive wisdom of her disposition to go upon (and there is a good deal in that) than the cleverest woman

upon earth, who would plague us with the folly of her bad temper. But head and heart at once, how is it that these are resisted? Want of fortune on the lady's part, and want of sense on the men's, are, we fear, the chief and the sordid reasons. It is curious to see the numbers of young men, who can pass by the most amiable of the other sex, and wait for what they call good matches. Indeed, it is thought a matter of common prudence, and admired as such; whereas, even considered in that light, it is prudence only as far as a bad state of society is concerned, and is at once a consequence and a cause of it: and one thing is always meanly kept in the background on these occasions; namely, that the men, however wanting meanwhile in a proper and tender imagination, are alive enough to the call of their senses, which they indulge at the expense of another part of the sex; ruining, in fact, one set of women, that they may not be able, now or ever, to do justice to another. But the cause of our poetess is carrying us away from the subject. There are some fine chants by a Mr Jones, one especially which is sung in St Paul's on some anniversary, and used to affect Haydn. Was this "Chanter" the Jones of Oxford? The composition we allude to is to be found in the Harmonicon.' We forget whether it is exactly a chaunt or a hymn; but remember being forcibly struck even in imagination with the effect which must result in a great cathedral from the alternate softness and loudness of the strains, one of them being sung gently by the choir, and then the response being shouted out by an army of young voices.

6

Frances Brooke, author of Rosina, of Lady Julia Mandeville, &c. was a better poetess in her prose than her verse. Her Ode to Health, here given by Mr Dyce, is not much. We should have preferred a song out of Rosina. But we will venture to affirm, she must have written a capital love-letter. These clergymen's daughters somehow (her father was a Rev. Mr Moore) contrive to have a double zest in those matters. Mrs Brooke was for some time, if we are not mistaken, one of the managers of the Italian Opera. Her novel of Lady Julia Mandeville, may be had of Mr Limbird for eight-pence, or some such modicum. One is almost ashamed to give so little for knowledge: yet the time will come, we trust, and that before long, when it will be still cheaper. If newspapers (which are so many thick volumes printed miraculously on a sheet) can be tossed off so cheaply, by thousands, through the means of the new might of the steam-engine, why may not books be printed in like manner, a hundred at a blow?

In the well-known Prayer for Indifference, by Mrs Greville, is a stanza, which has the point of epigram with all the softness of a gentle truth.

"Nor peace, nor ease, the heart can know,
That, like the needle true,
Turns at the touch of joy or woe,
But turning, trembles too."

« السابقةمتابعة »