Page images
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

* Pugilism is a regular science in England, as fencing is in France. Fighting for improvement is called sparring, -and in good earnest, boxing. In sparring, the hand is covered with much the same sort of glove as in fencing. I have been taken to a fives: court, where I have seen some of the best professors, and some amateurs of this noble art, spar. Two combatants, naked to the waist, ascended a theatre or stage, fifteen or twenty feet square, and three or four high, erected in the centre of the fives-court; each had his second, they shook hands, like the salute in fencing,

then on their guard; one foot forward,-knees a little bent, the principal weight of the body on the foremost leg,-fist held to the height of the chin, at the distance of about a foot. In this attitude the combatants observe each other, eye to eye,' watching their opportunity to place a blow, which is darted, rather than struck, with the back of the hand or knuckles; a moderate blow, well planted, gives a fall. The blows are parried with the outside of the arm, or with one hand, while the other returns the blow, The pugilists are very sparing of their strength and their wind; no unnecessary motion,—no precipitation,--and, above all, no anger. One of the first requisites is impassibility under the severest bodily pain. Notwithstanding the gloves, blood is spilt sometimes. Among the performers at the fives-court, Crib the younger, Gulley, and Belcher, were pointed out to me,--all names of renown in the art. They were not stout men, but remarkable for activity and coolness. The place was very full--a mixed company of people of all ranks,-a considerable proportion of men of fashion; and all went off in a very orderly and quiet manner. The sword or pistol equalize strength, and secure politeness and circumspection between individuals in the higher ranks of society; the fist answers the same purpose between the high and the low. A gentleman well taught can by that means repress and punish vulgar insult, when supported by mere. bodily strength. “There is a sort of courtesy and law of combat here, as well as in more deadly encounters. You are not to strike an enemy on the ground, and never below the waist; you are to desist the instant he gives out ; there are never to be two against one; and other rules, which soften the brutality of the art, and give to the very lowest, in their violence, some sort of generosity and honourable feelings.” Vol. i. P. 125.

Our readers will be amused at the surprise expressed by a Frenchman, after twenty years residence in America, at the fair play of the English combats-desisting the moment your adversary gives out-never striking him while on the ground-and one only against one-are points of pugilistic morality very little attended to, we believe, by our neighbours across the water, or by their Transatlantic admirers and allies.

The journey of our author to Liverpool gives him an oppor tunity of entering at large into the then growing disputes between England and America, and of their comparative strength and

national * “ Talents are generally to be found in opposition to the government, in England, as well as in America, because it is the brilliant side; but wealth in England is arranged on the side of government, who protects it. In America, it feels the ill-will of a government dependent on the multitude, naturally jealous of the rich. Wealth, therefore, in America, seeks the protection of talents in the opposition.”

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

national greatness. Upon these points he speaks with that insight into the subject which might be expected from a man of good sense, who had been so long resident in the United States.

" The two great parties, which took, at the union of the states in 1789, the names of federalists and anti-federalists, sincere and pure as their objects might be, assumed the colours of the two great rival powers; and there has been, undoubtedly, ever since, a French and an English party. The Americans may say that England and France are for them niere abstract-watch-words, like St. Denis and St. George. But there is virtue in names; and it cannot be denied that one-half of the inhabitants of the United States are in the habit of approving whatever France does, while the other does as much for England;- not exactly half, however, for the French party is much the most numerous. The other has on its side a decided majority of the talents, the wealth,* and the gentility of the country; from all appearances, I might say of the morality also, if I was not aware that much may be placed to the account of principles which are the effect of situation. A very remarkable circumstance is, that most of the veterans who bore arms against England during the revolution, are now of the party I call English. Washington himself, that model of patriots, whom all parties unite, since his death, in considering as eminently pure and wise, was openly denounced by the French party during his life.” Vol. i. P. 250.

It is afterwards remarked with sufficient ingenuity and reason, that the greater share of rising talent is often found in England upon the side of opposition, because it affords the more ready display to early brilliancy; but that the greater share of wealth is to be found on the side of the ministry, because it is fostered under their protection, and is often created under their auspices. Now in America, the government being more purely democratical, the rich are an object of jealousy: numbers not wealth there form the phalanx of govervnient; wealth therefore in America retires into opposition, and throws itself under the protection of whatever talent is to be found in that quarter. Our author conceives that the danger likely to result to his country from the growing superiority of America is far, very far distant. The American states appear rather to be bound than united by their federal government; two different interests pull different ways;


[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

that unity therefore of purpose which is so essential to the increase of dominion cannot exist in so divided a people. But independent of this circumstauce, which the course of events may in a short time remove, they will not have for many years yet, a sufficient number of idle and destitute individuals to fill the ranks of their army, or to supply their navy. Their population is at present far below the means of its easy support; and upril it increases far beyond its present extent, it will repose in inglorious security, nor be roused either by the pressure of immediate want, or the calls of hungry ambition into activity and power,

Of our author's power of describing British scenery, the following is a specimen,

" We are just returned from Loch Katrine. The distance from Callender to the Guide's house, is about eight miles of rough roads We went in two hours and a half, and returned in two hours, and have spent eight hours on a spot celebrated for its natural beauties, and still more pox as the scene of the most picturesque poem that ever was written.

“ You approach this consecrated spot with your imagination considerably exalted, and prepared for something very wonderful. In this unfavourable state of mind, the first sight of Loch Vena choir and Loch Achray did not satisfy us. The latter lake receives the waters of Loch Katrine, by an outlet through the Trosachs, a confused jumble of rocks and tops of mountains, which seems to have slid down from higher mountains, Benvenue on the left, and Ben-Ledi on the right, and, to bar the passage,

“ Crags, knolls, and mounds, confusedly hurled

The fragments of an earlier world. « One of these odd pieces of rocks (Binean) pointed like a steeple, is said to be 1800 feet high, half of which is perpendicular. The general effect of this anti-chamber of Loch Katrine is, upon the whole, more grotesque than great or beautiful. We entered it by a narrow defile, between two ramparts of rocks, finely rent and broken, and overgrown with old trees, their mossy

trunks and fantastic branches hanging over on each side. Turning the last corner, Lake Katrine burst upon us, not in its full beauty at first, but twenty yards farther the sight was indeed glorious. The following rough sketch may render the description more intelligible. Advancing by the road cut into the rocky base of Ben-Ledi, you see, on the other side of the lake, the mountain of Benvenţie rising in blueish grandeur, behind the rocks and wood of the shore, which are deeply indented with bays and promontories. The re. trospect of the Trosachs you have left, presents still the same aspect of grotesque wiidness which serves to set off the simple and rich composition of Benvenue. We had provided a guide, who took us in his boat to the island of the Lady of the Lake; 'which


[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

mon with

the imagination of the poet has, if not embellished, at least much enlarged. We knew at first sight · The aged oak, that slanted from the islet rock,' and did not fail to gather a few leaves and acorns, which will render us an object of envy among the numer. ous readers of Mr. Scott in America. The Naiad of the Strand was unfortunately not there.

" With head upraised, and look intent,

And eye and ear attentive bent,
And locks flung back, and lips apart,

· Like monument of Grecian art.' Vol. i. P.321. Our author generally writes in a strain of sufficient good humour; the extortion, however, practised upon himself, in com

every visitor of Blenheim, that splendid monument of national gratitude, appear, ayd, we must confess, with much justice, to have excited his spleen. The dues exacted by servants at the seats of our English noblemen, are indeed a disgrace, though perhaps a necessary one, to the nation; there is, however, a point beyond which even accustomed extortion becomes intolerable.

6 We were first conducted to a small house on the left; con. taining a humble appendage to the glory of the Marlboroughs, viz

. a cabinet or gallery of old china ; and were made to undergo the sight of a whole series of dishes and teapots, from the earliest infancy of the art, in modern Europe, among the Romans, and in China : the specimens are, as may be supposed, mostly very coarse, rude, and ugly. Of all connoisseurships this is perhaps the most childish, The guardian of these treasures is, very properly, a female. Whether she perceived our unworthiness, I do not know, but there seemed to be a sort of tacit agteement between us to dispatch the business as quickly as possible. Having paid our fees, we drove on, among very fine trees, and, passing between the palace and the water, had a full view of its front. I had heard much of its magnificence, and of its heaviness; but I saw nothing of either. The pediment of the main body is too high and narrow; the colonnade of the wings is interrupted by awkward projections. Multitudes of low towers, pointed pinnacles, and other ornaments hérissent the top of the edifice, which seems to want simplicity and grandeur,-some extensive surface or large parts for the eye to rest upon. The main body on this side extends about 350 feet from wing to wing.

« Crossing the bridge, we admired the finely indented and woody banks of the piece of water, which is very clear, and

appears cover about 200 acres. We drove to the column already mentioned, then across a plain, with meagre plantations, and herds of lazy over-tame deer, round the western extremity of the lake, We had been overtaken by a gardener, who came after us au grand gulop, mounted on an ass, to direot our admiration to particular



[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

spots (all tame enough), and get his 2s. 6d. On the limits of his jurisdiction, the park, he delivered us over to another cicerone, an old servant, who descanted on the architecture, and, among other things, made us take notice of a colossal bust of Louis XIV. taken at Tournay, and placed here over the pediment, with this inscription,

• Europæ hæc vindex genio decora alta Britanno, and below, the British lion clawing the Gallic cnck to pieces adding, with a sigh, that things were much altered since that time. He committed us to the charge of another domestic, our fifth guide, (a great division of labour,) who opened to us a small theatre, used formerly by the family and their friends. . In an adjoining room are numbers of original Titians, very large, without frames, and but lately put up, after lying for near a century in a garret, being a present of the King of Sardinia to the great Marlborough, who was no virtuoso. These Titians appeared to me very bad pictures; incorrect drawing, --no shades,--and vulgar expression. A sixth man took us round the pleasure-grounds, and these were certainly well worth seeing." Vol. ii, P. 104.

“ The seventh guide was a coxcomb of an upper servant, who hurried us through the house. The entrance-hall is very fine. The apartments exhibit Gobelin tapestry, in very bad taste, as usuál; a' multitude of indifferent pictures, and some good ones. I recollect an excellent Vandyck, Time clipping the wings of Love, and a very indifferent portrait of some mistress of Charles II. by the same; a huge family picture, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, in which the present duke is conspicuous for the beauty of his person; an excellent Death of Seneca by Lucca Jordano; but we had really no time to see them properly. Nothing can be more magnificent than the library. It is about 200 feet long, by 32 feet wide; the coved ceiling is richly worked and painted, and supported by a row of columns of the rarest marbles, each of a single block; the entablature and base also of marble. This library contains 20 or 25,000 volumes. We remarked a statue of Queen Anne by Rysbrack, the dress finished with extreme care. The fees of all our different guides amounted to nineteen shillings. The annual income of the Duke of Marlborough is estimated at 70,0001.” Vol. ii. P. 107.

The reader will now be curious to hear the summary of our author's observations upon the general character of the English nation.

If I was asked, at this moment, for a summary opinion of what I have seen in England, I might probably say, that its poli

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

“ * This allegory of Vanbrugh has been called a pun in archigecture,'

« PreviousContinue »