Page images
PDF
EPUB

in the middle of February, in the present year. In the latter part of his journal he has collected several facts, and grounded upon his own experience some directions, which any traveller about to proceed to South America will find really very acceptable and useful. During the author's stay at Rio, he chanced to see the Emperor and his young family at the opera. The following description is not unseasonable at this moment, when the destinies of the young Queen of Portugal excite so much attention.

'I visited the opera, for the purpose of getting sight of the Emperor, who happened to be there, accompanied by his two daughters, the Queen' of Portugal and the Infanta. The former is about ten years of age, and the latter an interesting little child of six or seven: they were very plainly dressed, and as they sat in their magnificent box in the centre of the theatre, were to be seen to great advantage. The interior of the house is very elegant, consisting of four tiers of boxes on each side of the Emperor's, which occupies the whole front of the theatre, excepting four small boxes just above it. The grand entrance to the pit is underneath it, and it was certainly most superbly fitted up, with chandeliers, pier glasses, tables, chairs, &c., having all the appearance of an elegant drawing-room; and being quite open in front, with the exception of a light gilt railing, they were quite exposed to the full view of the audience. Whenever the curtain dropt, the audience stood up, out of respect to the Emperor; those in the pit facing him, at which time he would always come forward with the little Queen and child. He wore a plain blue coat, without star or mark of distinction of any sort, with white trowsers and shoes, and but for the gentlemen in waiting never sitting down or coming forward, it was impossible to distinguish one from the other. The weather being very warm, he used a plain white fan during the whole of the opera, which, by the bye, is customary among the gentlemen in South America. The Queen is a very pretty little girl, with flaxen hair, and remarkably fair. She was dressed quite like a little old maid, very plain, wearing a prim close cottage bonnet. The pretty Infanta was the gayest of them all, being dressed just like an English child of the same age, with petticoat-trowsers and sash, her bright flaxen hair flowing in long ringlets over her shoulder. The Emperor is a handsome young man, about thirty years of age, with very dark hair, and large whiskers, He is not very particular with respect to etiquette, for he was talking promiscuously to the ladies and gentlemen in the boxes, on each side of him.'--pp. 302-304.

Although the illustrations which are found in this volume afford very accurate ideas of the scenes which they are intended to represent, yet we must add, that they are executed in a paltry style of art. This is the more surprising, as lithographic printing has now reached such a degree of perfection in this country, that one must expressly order bad drawings on stone in order to get them. In point of economy, moreover, the difference between excellent and inferior prints can hardly be worth consideration.

ART. XI.-The Subaltern's Log Book, including Anecdotes of Wellknown Military Characters. In 2 vols. London: James Ridgway.

1828.

*

SHOULD any subaltern in his Majesty's service be desirous of manufacturing a Log-book, we would recommend to him a diligent perusal of these volumes. Let him not be deterred by the apparent difficulties of the task; we assure him, and stake our reputation as critics on the result, that it (viz. manufacturing a Log-book, not reading the one before us; Heaven forefend that we should be guilty of such want of discrimination) is the easiest thing imaginable. As we have been compelled, in our judicial capacity, to wade through their contents, a feat of which we are not a little proud, and which we challenge one in a hundred of our readers to imitate, we will enlighten him with the fruits of our dear-bought experience.

"

Choose a title that shall, at first sight, lead the public to suppose that the work is a production of some favourite author (Mr. Gleig, for example); but as that would excite expectations which any other sub. might find it difficult to satisfy, contradict it by inserting underneath any thing in the shape of a puff, such as Anecdotes of well-known characters': this would effectually undeceive, and you might take credit for your candour and originality. Select some modest motto, mildly praising yourself, in which you contrive delicately to inform your readers (fictitious personages, a charming use of the figure anticipative, the destruction of which would annihilate no small portion of living authors) of your varied powers of observation. We introduce one by way of example

Talk not of seventy years of age, in seven

I have seen more changes, down from monarchs to

#1 BATE 2. ,༢》 ཝཱ 144

Never mind if you have never seen a monarch, that will make no difference; a slight touch of fiction will embellish the work, and give it a more poetic turn. As to the humblest individual under heaven,' we cannot exactly undertake to say where he is to be found; but no one need think of applying to our subaltern for any information on the subject; modesty is an article quite out of his line. Get up a flaming dedication to a foreigner; and that it may have some resemblance to its object, be particularly careful that the language is not English; tack to this an unmeaning preface, and proceed ad libitum. Should you feel at a loss for matter, resuscitate some of Joe Miller's jokes; laud and lament the Duke of York positively, comparatively, or superlatively, according to your reception at the Horse Guards; tell anecdotes of persons who never existed, it will prove your invention, and you will escape the charge of personality; eulogize the high principle and gentlemanly

The humblest individual under heaven,

Than might suffice a moderate century through."

conduct of the army; it will not be thrown away, it is a genteel way of praising yourself. String all this (with a report of afterdinner speeches, corrected by yourself) upon the thread of conceit and self-commendation, and be sure you display a laudable disregard of orthography and grammar; this may, perhaps, recommend you at head-quarters, and prove that, in your case at least, the schoolmaster has been always abroad.

We dare say that our readers imagine it impossible that a man can so completely mistake his own powers as to venture totally unqualified before the public: yet so it is. We have seldom met with a more unhappy attempt at authorship than the present, or such a farrago of trash and nonsense, with scarcely one redeeming feature. What could possibly have induced the author not only to commit his soporific lucubrations to paper (he has the assurance to call them light reading)—but to print them, let him answer for himself.

"

·

He does not seem to have been a great favourite with his fellowpassengers, who appear to have taken a delight in quizzing him, and he therefore thought of a literary undertaking. Surely it was better than to be looking ever and anon in the face of those enemies to my peace, who, from words I occasionally overheard, I knew were speaking of me.' "I know they are talking of nie, for they laughed consumedly," says the man in the play, and our Sub. evidently knew that they could be saying no good of him. I hoped, too, that notwithstanding my many failures, some pursuit would be discovered that might make the sight of my brother passengers and myself a greater treat and novelty to each other." The greater the novelty the greater the treat; and how do our readers imagine that his presence was rendered a greater novelty? By boring them with the contents of his log-book. Their irony did not prevent my reading on, as long as they would listen! until I found some of my stories seemed to interest, and my anecdotes make them smile, not at, but with me,' which means, of course, that they all laughed at them together.

Our Subaltern, according to his version, was indebted for his commission to the kindness of the late Duke of York, and that prince is consequently so unfortunate as to become the object of his eulogy. Gratitude is a very fine thing; but the person obliged should contrive in expressing it not to make the obliger appear ridiculous. The following is his report of an interview with the Duke previous to his going to India.

In my lodgings I had that morning found the Madras Courier newspaper, with an epitome of his Royal Highness's biography; it was written in accordance with truth, and with my most warm feelings of admiration of him. It would have been impossible for me to give utterance to the gratitude I owed him on my own account, as well as on that of my family; or of the very exalted opinion we all entertained of him, independently of our personal obligations; which opinion, now that he is no

more, appears to be a national feeling. I said, "May it please your Royal Highness, I have taken the liberty of presenting to you, for your perusal when at leisure, this paper; among its contents you will find something which I dare not attempt to express, lest I might altogether fail. It may convey a part of that respectful regard, which your goodness makes all those to whom you are known feel towards your royal person. I also requested him to peruse a letter I had received from the Commander of our depôt, which said something of my attention to my duty.'-vol. i. pp. 96, 97.

""

This is capital. The Duke strongly recommended his 'keeping out of the sun, living temperately, and avoiding, if possible, powerful medicine.' But the following precious specimen outherod's Herod :

But I trust that the recollection of him (the Duke), whose memory I constantly cherish, may, in all time coming, so influence my feelings and conduct, as in time past it has; and that the hope of meeting him hereafter, in that region" where the weary are at rest, and the good happy," may not be frustrated.'-vol. i. p. 98.

Only think of that, Master Brook!

The style of the two following letters is very unofficial, and the defects so marvellously resembling those pervading the rest of these volumes, that we strongly suspect the Ensign and Secretary to be one and the same person :

Shortly after this interview, I received the following note from his Secretary: Captain H has the satisfaction of transmitting to Ensign the accompanying introductory letter, which his Royal Highness promised him on Saturday last, to Sir T. Hislop, and which, there can be no doubt, will be most serviceable to him on his arrival at Madras. In doing this, Captain H—— also desires to assure him of the Duke's anxious good wishes for his welfare, united with those of his own."

"I acknowledged the receipt of this, and was favoured with the following reply:"Captain H has duly received Ensign's letter of the 3rd, and was so well pleased with its contents, that he could not help shewing it to his Royal Highness, who has now directed that he should be assured all those effusions of his good and warm heart, which it contains, are appreciated as they merit, and that he will ever be happy to hear of his welfare through the channel of Sir T. Hislop, who, he trusts, will become a protector to him.""

[ocr errors]

We have seen how the poor Duke fares under the Subaltern's hands; his parents cannot boast of much better treatment. His father, notwithstanding much maudlin sentiment dispersed through the work, whenever he appears personally on the scene, does not much honour to his clerical character. He takes into his house although their father

two illegitimate daughters of Marquis had informed him of their irreclaimable folly. One of these young ladies affects the heart of our hero, then at the age of sixteen. One little incident will show the amiable delicacy of our clergyman's protegée :

[ocr errors]

'One day, looking over with me the portraits of English kings, she remarked, "Charles (the Second) must have been very handsome" (the artist had flattered most impudently); "observe him," added she, putting her white finger on his face, and long flowing hair, "he had the strongest passions of any man of his age." I thought I heard a gently stifled sigh, but it might have been from the heat of the weather. "What must woman's be," she resumed, "when they are twenty times as strong, and she must, to be respected, suppress them?" I looked at her; and if I recollect right, blushed, for I was not quite sixteen.'vol. i. p. 75.

And on another occasion the clergyman sends for his son to Ireland, on a matrimonial speculation; but the lady was playing the same game, and the paternal go-between was nearly caught in his own trap. His son informs us, that he (his father) was a poet; and in a subsequent page gives us some very pathetic effusions from papa and mama.

We extract a couplet of the poet's production :

'Oh, none can love better than those whom you part from;

For parting from you is like parting a heart from.'-vol. ii. p. 196. We cannot at all reconcile ourselves to the idea that these volumes were written by an officer in the army. Captain Skinflint, Major Callous, Major Diddler, Captain Escrew, and many other names got up merely for the sake of effect, and in a work, too, in which the author professes not to make incident, but, Heaven bless the mark, to exhibit real characters, is an expedient unworthy of any but the paltriest literary hack. And what a description of his profession does he give? The officers with whom he principally came into contact, were frequently sharpers, liars, or scoundrels; the honorable men form by far the minority. That this is a libel on the military profession will be readily acknowledged, That individual can know but little of the army, who can venture to declare that it is in general advantageous to rise from the ranks; there are officers of rank, and as highly esteemed as any of their brethren who have thus risen, but it was in spite of the disadvantages of their first position, not in consequence of its advantages. Nor does it savour much of military nonchalance to be disconcerted by the gaze of manufacturers, when on a recruiting service.

The following extract, describing the situation of a sub. in India, shews our author is quite out of his sphere.

'I dare say some may turn up their noses at the idea of a subaltern drinking wine every day, as attempting to keep up too great an appearance for one in such an humble line, but I have always thought that his Majesty never could intend our pay to be appropriated in any other way than might conduce to the respectability of the regiment, in keeping up that gentlemanly system which, I trust, we are accustomed to at the tables of our private homes, and in promoting a due degree of cordiality, by having some small excuse for continuing a reasonable time after dinner at the mess-table, to be edified and improved by the conversation of the senior officers.'-vol. ii. p. 31.

« PreviousContinue »