« PreviousContinue »
We confess to a little surprise at finding Byron so sensitive to criticism, and to all animadversions upon his writings by his contemporaries. Of the notice of his first volume in the · Ediuburgh' his biographer remarks : “ The effect which the review produced upon the poet can with difficulty be conceived. A friend, who found him in the first moments of excitement after reading the article, inquired anxiously whether he had just received a challenge, not knowing how else to account for the fierce defiance of his looks. Among the less sentimental effects of the critique upon his mind, he used to mention, that on the day he read it he drank three bottles of claret to his own share after dinner ; that nothing however relieved him until he had given vent to his indignation in rhyme, and that after the first twenty lines he felt himself considerably better.' A scorching letter of Souther's, in reply to some severe comments of Byron upon his character and writings, so exasperated the noble bard that he could not wait for revenge in ink-shed, but on the instant despatched, through a friend in London, a cartel of mortal defiance to the poet-laureate ; but KINNAIRD, the friend in question, had sufficient good sense to withhold the challenge. Among other autograph-letters, copied to the very acmé of perfection by the French artist, we find the following, addressed to GALIGNANI at Paris. Original letters, in the veritable handwriting of FrankLIN, WASHINGTON, and Sir Walter Scott, have been placed in type for these pages; and the following lacks only the original ink and paper, to be in the same category:
Venice, April 27th, 1819. SIR: In various numbers of your journal, I have seen mentioned a work entitled “The Vampyre,' with the addition of my name as that of the author. I am not the author, and never heard of the work in question until now. In a more recent paper I perceive a formal annunciation of "The Vampyre,' with the addition of an account of my 'residence in the Island of Mitylene,' an island which I have occasionally sailed by, in the course of travelling, some years ago through the Levant, and where I should have no objection to reside, but where I have never yet resided. Neither of these performances are mine, and I presume that it is neither unjust nor ungracious to request that you will favor me by contradicting the advertisement to which I allude. If the book is clever, it would be base to deprive the real writer, whoever he may be, of his honors ; and if stupid, I desire the responsibility of nobody's dulness but my own. You will excuse the trouble I give you; the imputation is of no great importance; and as long as it was confined to surmises and reports, I should have received it, as I have received many others, in silence. But the formality of a public advertisement of a book I never wrote, and a residence where I never resided, is a little too much; particularly as I have no notion of the contents of the one nor the incidents of the other. l have, beside, a personal dislike to · Vampyres,' and the little acquaint. ance I have with them would by no means induce me to divulge their secrets. You did me a much less injury by your paragraphs about.my devotion,' and 'abandonment of society for the sake of religion,' which appeared in your · Messenger' during last Lent; all of which are not founded on fact; but you see I do not contradict them, because they are merely personal, whereas the other in some degree concern the reader.
* You will oblige me by complying with my request of contradiction. I assure you that I know nothing of the work or works in question; and have the honor to be (as the correspondents to Magazines say,) 'your constant reader,' and very obed't,
Humble serv't, "To the Editor of Galignani's Messenger.'
• It was a thought worthy of the great spirit of Byron,' says the · Edinburgh Review,' after exhibiting to us his pilgrim-Childe' amidst all the most striking scenes of earthly grandeur and earthly decay; after teaching us, like him, to sicken over the mutability and vanity and emptiness of human greatness, to conduct him and us at last to the borders of the Great Deep.' It is there that we may perceive an image of the awful and unchangeable abyss of eternity, into whose bosom so much has sunk, and all shall one day sink; of that eternity wherein the scorn and the contempt of man, and the melancholy of great, and the fretting of little minds, shall be at rest for ever.' Would it not be well for all, of kindred disquietude of spirit, who are now walking
by the solemn shore
Of the vast ocean they must sail so soon,' to ponder well upon these words of Sir Walter Scott: "There is no royal road and no poetical path to contentment and heart's-ease : that by which they are attained is open to all classes of mankind, and lies within the most limited range of intellect. To narrow our wishes and desires within the scope of our powers of attainment; to consider our misfortunes, however peculiar in their character, as our inevitable share in the patrimony of Adam; to bridle those irritable feelings which ungoverned are sure to become governors ; to shun all galling and self-wounding reflections; to stoop, in short, to the realities of life ; repent if we have offended, and pardon if we have been trespassed against ; to look on the world less as our foe than as a doubtful and capricious friend, whose applause we ought as far as possible to deserve, but neither to court nor contemn; such seems the most obvious and certain means of keeping or regaining mental tranquillity:'
GOSSIP WITH READERS AND CORRESPONDENTS. We have indulged, during the month, in a pleasant trip to Saratoga, Lake George, Ticonderoga, etc.; and you must permit us, reader, to mingle with our usual salmagundi a few incidents of travel,' which, as they gave pleasure to us, we may hope will not altogether fail to find favor in your eyes. The telegraph, rail-roads and ocean-steamers have done away with all the Poetry of News.' We used to sit down of a morning, with one of the slow-and-easy "good old-fashioned' newspapers before us, containing intelligence One month later from the continent of Europe and news · Eighteen days from New Orleans,' and from other places, near or far, in like proportion. Then 'news was news.' Then we could enjoy our murders of a morning ; nor was a personal rencontre between two blackguards, or an abduction, or rape, matters to be lightly appreciated. Now, to adopt a common but rather over-figurative parliamentary phrase, 'when we take our eye and throw it over the country' represented by the journals of the day, what do we encounter? In a circular radius, swept by lightning, of some two or three thousand miles, we gather up riots, executions, wholesale butcheries, awful casualties, • Death's doings' over a whole continent, and a condensed account of national crime the day before, throughout the whole length and breadth of the land. Stabbing thus becomes familiar, and murder comes to be considered one of the fine arts; an indulgence in which, with due reference to 'tooling,' grouping, etc., brings notoriety, and in too many instances, “nothing else.' Still, homicide, in its collateral effects, is we believe yet generally regarded as somewhat dangerous. People reason in this way: 'Once commit a murder, and you do n't know where you are going to stop. You may perhaps go on until you reach profane swearing, Sabbathbreaking, and finally fall into prevarication, procrastination, and other the like heinous offences against law and order.' . Wiley, publisher, Broadway, has issued the second number of Dickens' new story of The Personal History and Experience of David Copperfield the Younger.' It fully sustains the promise of the first part. The cuts are admirable. By-the-by, is there any body who excels DICKENS
in the brief authentic strokes by which he paints a scene, and especially in his finelyillustrative similes? We know of no one. His observation is keen and incessant. Do you remember his description of the small cactus putting forth clawslike a green lobster ? The following, depicting an old maid who has come to live with a newlymarried brother, prepared to kick up a muss generally,' is equally felicitous : 'On the very first morning after her arrival she was up and ringing her bell at cock-crow. When my mother came down to breakfast, and was going to make the tea, Miss MURDSTONE gave her a kind of peck on the cheek, which was her nearest approach to a kiss.' It would be difficult to give a more forcible exemplification of a cold dry salutation of the lips' than this: a kind of peck on the cheek! ... Aside from the ease and polish of the verse, there are excellent good sense and timely advice in the subjoined lines upon • The Cholera,' for which we are indebted to an old and always welcome metropolitan correspondent:
This modern terror of the human race
Shall plead exemption from the tyrant's reign. Fear is unquestionably one of the most powerful predisposing causes of cholera. Those therefore who watch with trembling anxiety the appearance of the daily reports of the Board of Health; who fear to walk in the street, but choose rather to shut themselves up in close apartments of their dwellings; who see in visions of the night upon their beds an “Ozone night-mare careering through the air, scattering fire-brands, arrows and death ; such persons should heed the wise suggestions of our correspondent. And to those who, on the very first sign of the approach of the disease toward their own immediate quarter of the town, hasten at once to the country, we would say, in the words of a Spanish poet :
SINCE no place there is
Is by his flight itself revealed.'
private circles, which has created not a little amusement among those who have had the pleasure of his personal acquaintance. It has often been remarked of Mr. MaCREADY, that in conversation he rarely finishes a sentence; and the anecdote in question rather ludicrously illustrates this personal characteristic. One day at a prominent metropolitan hotel he was sitting after dinner with some friends, over his wine and almonds, when a boy was admitted, who presented him a note. While reading it his countenance gradually assumed a tragic expression ; and at length, holding out the letter, he said, partly to the lad, partly to himself: “No-o! I-I— will ah-not! Most extro'dnary! A person - -a- a woman, whom I never saw !- I can ah-not do it! Sends me here - Tell her the request is ah-absurd — preposterous ! No ah-acquaintance with the person — never beheld her in all me life! Most extrod’nary! No; ah-I will ah-NOT DO IT! Know neth-ing of her— neth-ing! I did, indeed, ah-once suck one or two of her No, me lad,' he concluded,'ah-tell her I ah-Can not ah-Do it!!' The lad evanished; when it presently transpired that Mrs. Jarvis had sent to MacREADY, as she does to every person of any eminence, for his testimony in favor of the manifold virtues of her • Cold ndy! ... BEEN sitting in dreamful ease for more than an hour, gossipping indolently with agreeable friends, on the cool piazza which runs around the inner court of that maguificent house, The United States' Hotel, Saratoga. •House,' quotha! Why, it is of itself a village, mainly under one roof, and almost constituting one edifice. Observe the colonnade before us; there are some fifteen hundred feet of it, altogether, including the façades of the cottages,' which you perceive are in perfect keeping. What the United States' was before the erection of the new hall, our readers are already
The addition has the dignity of space' magnificently developed. It is a little short of an hundred and fifty feet in length, and of appropriate comparative width. On the first floor are the bar-room and seven dining-rooms and parlors ; on the second, the ball-room, one hundred and two feet by forty in length, and twenty feet high, the largest and finest hall of its kind in the Union, with twenty-one windows, eighteen feet high, opening on all sides upon spacious promenading-piazzas. The hall is also flanked at the entrance-end by three large reception and waiting-rooms for ladies and gentlemen, leaving nothing to be desired. On the third floor are sleeping-rooms, large and airy, commanding the most delightful views, looking either off upon the distant landscape or down into the umbrageous court-yard below. Some idea of the extent of the establishment may be inferred from the fact that it embraces four hundred and eighty rooms; encloses five acres ; and comprises, within a trifle, two thousand feet of piazza! Associate with these attractions, if you please, the kitchen, the heart of the house,' as a friend termed it, in which there is not a 'convenience' nor an improvement of any kind wanting; a chef-de-cuisine of unrivalled skill and imagination ; (we saw him walking slowly through the grounds in his robe-dechambre, with his finger on his lip, in an attitude of study, for he was composing;) a larder that would put to shame that of Bolton Abbey; a wine-cellar replete with the richest treasures of the Rhine; and, over and above all, as the 'creownin' glory of the United'n States'n,' that noble park, with its trees of varied foliage, its gravelled walks, its rolled and quilted turf, upon which, through the heavy umbrage, the sunlight shimmers down in flecks of gold; associate, we say, these features in your mind, reader, and place our genial friend the Judge' and the younger brother of the house in the fore-ground, to make you feel the force of the warm welcome of an inn ;' do all this, and you have before you the United States' Hotel at Saratoga. .. WE
clipped from a country journal the other day at the publication-office, where it appeared without any indication of its source, a capital parody upon LONGFELLOW’s • Psalm of Life.' We have a faint recollection of having first read it some months ago in that lively and independent sheet, the Boston 'Chronotype.' As the original was written for the KNICKERBOCKER, we subjoin a few verses of the parody, which is intituled' • Psalm of the Smoker,' by Professor LONGNINE : • Tell me not, in mournful ditty,
• In the world's broad field of puffing, Smoking is a habit vile;
Would you have your pleasures ripe,
Be not simply .up to snuff'.ing,
Be a hero of the pipe!
• Pipes are long, and pipes are brittle;
But only buy them by the score;
That perfumes your mottled floor.
• Lives of smokers all remind us
We may make our lives a glory; And, departing, leave behind us Puffs that shall roll up in story.'
• The Poor,' said ONE who spake as never man spake,''the poor ye have always with you. A new contributor, who feels, in the spirit of the Redeemer, that the poor need the sympathy and care of those who in a worldly point of view are more blessed, has in the leading paper of the present number put forth and sustained certain propositions which we deem to be worthy of heedful consideration. GLANCING this evening over some old letters, addressed by the late Willis GAYLORD CLARK to his friend David GRAHAM, Esq., of this city, we remarked among many other noteworthy passages the following observations touching the cholera, then (August, 1832) widely prevalent in Philadelphia : “My good fellow, the cholera is making dreadful ravages here. The report to-day is one hundred and fifty-four cases and fifty-eight deaths! How the sublimity of thought, the aspirations of a heaven-lit spirit panting after immortal renown, and ranging through the long vistas of memory, and the glittering empire of imagination, are dependent upon the coats of the stomach and the arrangement of the abdominal viscera ? Is n't it astonishing! What are we? What our pride, our ambition, our uplifted fancies, our hates, or loves ? Baubles of an hour; glittering motes in the sunbeam of health, that the breath of miasma or the cloud of the evening may smite into non-existence! I tell you what, David, it makes a man think ; but most of all, it makes him regular. Thank God, I always was so, and so are you ; but it seems to me that if we desire the boon of life--and oh, what a gift it is! (for a living dog is better than a dead lion,) we must crucify the fleshly appetite ; whereupon I have ceased to chew olives, which have been my passion, and betaken myself to rice, bread and port wine. At this season, when the chances and changes of this mortal life' are deemed by many persons more than usually to abound, we have thought it not amiss to quote what has seemed to us to be timely reflections upon the pestilence that walkoth in darkness and wasteth at noon-day. One other passage we venture to present, as indicative of the strong affection which, in common with ourselves, the writer enter. tained for our common vocation: 'I can imågine precisely how you felt when you arrived at home and resumed the duties of your profession. If any one should ask me where I had the most enjoyment, I should say instantly, 'In my office, devising editorials, peering over the papers, and in the afternoon, cheek-by-jowl among the books in my apartments in Fourth-street; now and then, when the spell is on me, making a piece of metre for BULWER’s • New Monthly,' writing letters to cherished fri yourself, and so forth. So, I am sure, is it also with you. Society is a good thing, but I weary of its formal routine ; not that I do not have pleasure at H's, Madame Cl's, B 's, etc. ; but after all, my vocation is the most