صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

on her

fessed himself not only ready, but anxious, by every means in his power, to forward the recovery of a beantiful, and amiable woman, whom he had always loved ; insisted: on seeing her, and as introductory preparation did not seem necessary, in a case where hope and fear were ex-, tinguished, they conducted him to her cell.

“ On opening the door, he started back with horror and surprize; the object he beheld was the remains of a form and a mind, which had once interested and pleased all who beheld it; of one, whom he had left in the bloom of health, animation and beauty; with roses cheeks, sensibility and good sense beaming from her eyes, the pride of her parents, the enlivener of all her associates; -alas, how changed! her countenance pale, squalid and emaciated; her eyes, with fixed insensibílity, rivetted to the ground; her hair dishevelled, her dress neglected; she was reclining on the floor, with her head resting on one of her hands.

The company not at all attracting her attention, the young man suppressed, as far as he was able, those emotions which so sad a reverse naturally produced, and ventured to approach her.

“ Gently pressing the unoccupied hand, which lay on her side, she turned her eyes on him, as if they passed: over an empty space, and immediately relapsed into torpid listlessness; he then called her by name, when strange to tell, at the sound of that well-known voice, which had so often charmed her ear, her memory

and faculties seemed to be suddenly awakened; she changed her attitude, and, after a recollective gaze on the object of her affections, in which fear, doubt, and joy were mingled, she sprung from the ground, burst into tears, and rushed into his arms.

“ A medical gentleman, who had been requested to attend, saw the tears with considerable satisfaction; they were the first she had shed during the whole of her indisposition, and were thought favourable.

“ The lovers were separated for the present, but as her senses gradually returned, his visits were repeated, when it was observed, that she was anxious to alter her dress; at the end of three months, being pronounced perfectly recovered, she was married to the man of her heart.

“ The happy father would not suffer them to quit his hospitable roof; and at the end of ten months, she be

CABINÉT.

came the mother of a fine boy ; it was during the interval of her confinement on this occasion, that her husband was suddenly called to the north, by the dangerous illness, and afterwards detained by the death, of his mother.

“ He was absent six weeks, on various family concerns ; but flying on the wings of affection to his wife and child, and travelling the last fifty miles in a night coach, he arrived soon after day-break at the village where she resided; the servant at the moment of his approach was opening the windows of the house in which they lived.

« In a transport of impatient delight, he hurried to the. bedchamber of his wife, whom he found in bed, asleep, and in the arms of her father's assistant.

“ Struck with horror and astonishment, he had neither resolution nor inclination to awake the guilty couple, but instantly quitted the house, to which he never returned.”.

Such are the circumstances related by an infamous woman, who concludes with remarking, that purity is only a mask to conceal vicious inclinations; that love is no more than a refined phrase for lust. Her narrative is improbable as a fact, and unnatural as a fiction ; it is the fabrication of a prostitute, who endeavours to confound pure and tender affection with sensual appetite.

It is a base, but vain attempt to degrade man, and through him, his Maker ; if we are once convinced that we are brutal by nature, we shall soon become so by habit; if we once believe that vicious indulgence is common to all, but concealed by the cunning and the prudent; the general fashion will be to hide, rather than suppress wicked inclinations; to preach morality rather than to practise it.

But I appeal, without hesitation, to the heads as well as the hearts of the majority of mankind; I confidently ask them, if there is not a passion, which independent of reason, interest, and education, is tender, faithful, constant, and virtuous; as different from

gross sensuality as the military gallantry of General Wolfe, from the 'mercenary selfishness of a commission-broker; or the heroic ardor of Lord Nelson, from the cautious prudence of a borough admiral, who knows no battles but those of the bottle, and is better acquainted with cookery than fighting

LETTER II.

ON COLLECTIONS OF THE BRITISH POETS,

ADDRESSED TO THOMAS PARK, ESQ. F. 8. A.

SINCE the last hasty observations I addressed to you on this (to me peculiarly interesting) subject, a few other remarks have occurred, which, should they ever meet your eye, will not, I hope, prove totally useless.

The authors which I took the liberty of enumerating as unworthy of a place in the collection you are now engaged upon, were only such as had been inserted in former collections, but there will be a still greater necessity for the exertion of your taste in the selection of more modern authors. We well know tħat as the writers of poetry encrease in number, the majority will be composed of those who have no higher claim than that of mediocrity ; and many through the caprice of fashion, the glare of title, or the novelty of their folly have obtained a temporary fame, whose works it is sincerely to be hoped will never disgrace a collection of the national bards.

But if from this circumstance your task will be difficult, how much more so will be that of the future editors, who are doomed to hesitate over the puerilities and wretched absurdities of Wordsworth whilst they admire his originality, to see the name of the elegant author of the " Triumphs of Temper affixed to a volume of tales and ballads that would disgrace a schoolboy; and the sublime poet of Joan of Arc and Madoc, swelling the bulk of his works with compositions that he himself must certainly despise.

I should be sorry to be thought profane, as I do not imagine that inpiety is necessary to the character of a wit; I therefore hope you will acquit me of being swayed by that motive when I protest against the admission of the whole of Watts's works; for I cannot believe that his piety ought to be allowed as an excuse for his bad poetry.

There are two objections to thus selecting an author's best compositions, which have doubtlessly considerable force ; it prevents us from viewing him in his real character as a writer ; and it also prevents the youthful poet from observing the minute gradations by which an author arrives at eminence: from seeing none but their better efforts, he may almost despair of excelling in a science which, though some of the greatest requisites are certainly the gift of nature alone, is still a science in which perfection is only to be attained by study and practice.

But we have the example of other nations in thus making a selection froin the works of our native bards ; Sir William Jones informs' us that a work was published at Constantinople, containing the finest verses of five hundred and forty-nine Turkish poets: I believe the French have also sometimes done the same ; and the above objections I do not look upon of sufficient force, to obviate the inconvenience of admitting so much inferior matter into a collection of British poetry.

It is intended that the lives of the poets should accompany the present edition, and those of Johnson have already been published; these undoubtedly no one will object to, for his harsh strictures on Gray, Milton, &c. only excite our smile, as we are aware of their injustice; and the errors of some of his opinions ought uot to destroy the pleasure which the accuracy and critical acumen of others, and the elegant and furcible diction in which they are clothed will ever afford. The other lives we are promised from your own pen. I should think that they would be rendered inore interesting by the lives of the greatest authors being given on Johnson's plan, and those of the inferior writers being reduced to a mere statement of dates, unless they contained something very remarkable. I have now, Şir, to apologize for my inability to treat the subject in the manner which I certainly think it deserves; and, to add to my disadvantages, I unfortunately omitted a few lines in copying my last essay, which were necessary to connect the first sentence with those which follow it : but if my opinions are just, my inaccuracies of style may perhaps be exeused.

I remain, &c. &c. Liverpool, 11 Nor. 1807.

W'. M. T.

ANNA LOUISA DARBACK, OR KARSCH.

This extraordinary female was born in 1722, upon the borders of LowerSilesia, at a small hamlet, called Hammer. Her father, a brewer and alehouse-keeper, was the principal of seven poor inhabitants, but died when she was not above seven years old. Her grandmother's brother, an old man of good understanding, who lived in Poland, had taken her home to his house a few months before this happened, and taught her to read and write. To this uncle she addressed a poem, which is in her printed cule lection. She continued with him about three

years,

and then returned to her mother, who, it seems, had married again. The misfortunes which constantly attended her till she was near forty began at this period. Her first employment was the care of her brothers-in-law ; hut she soon quitted that, in order to attend upon

three cows, which were her parents' whole stock. The first signs of her natural inclination to poetry then made their appearance, by an uncommon desire to sing. She knew an hundred church hymns by heart, and sung them at her work, or whilst watching the cattle. Her inclination soon prompted her to write verses, but she did not afterwards recollect any part of that first essay of her un. cultivated genius: which was accidentally assisted by a neighbouring shepherd, who, although separated by a small river, contrived to lend her a few books; Robin. son Crusoe, the Asiatic Banise, a German romance, and the Arabian Nights Entertainments, composed their whole library. She read these works, perhaps as proper as any to keep alive the fire of the imagination, and to enlarge the view of fancy, with great pleasure. But this happiness was soon at an end, and she was obliged to return to her former attendance upon children, in which, and other laborious employments, she reached her 17th. year. At this period, her mother provided her a husband, Darback, a woolcomber, who obliged her to prepare all the wool which he used; besides which, she had the whole business of the house to manage, and could find no time to indulge her natural propensity to writing verses and reading, except a few hours on Sunday, when she wrote down the poems she had composed during the week. After having been married nine years, she was

« السابقةمتابعة »