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himself, but recommended the study of them to others, and patronised all who excelled in them.
"At length the end of this great man approached. The immediate cause of his death is wrapped in mystery. He had been recommended to take a strong dose of mercury (his infirmities for some time had been neither few nor light), was it too strong for his constitution? so at least some thought; so even he appeared to suspect."* Shakspeare is said to have died on the day of his birth. Sobieski died on the double anniversary of his birth and of his accession to the throne-after_twenty-three years of kingship, and sixty-seven of human life. Those who are curious in coincidences have taken note, in addition to the double anniversary fact, that both the day of his birth and that of his decease were signalised alike by a terrific storm.
M. de Salvandy's book is, indeed, replete with curious incidents illustrative of what he calls "the end of the reign and the house of John III." A critical compatriot affirms of it that "rien n'est plus dramatique et plus dramatiquement raconté;" adding, that the end of the Atrida is more horrible, but not more triste. The difference is that between truth and fiction. Long time Sobieski wearily drags on that ever-lengthening chain, son impuissante vieillesse, amid the turmoil of civic sedition and family strife. These dissensions survive him; and, like Alexander, he bequeaths civil war and partition of power to his country and his household: sanguine parentabitur. "Lui mort, les portes de son palais sont outrageusement fermées à sa dépouille, et le libérateur de Vienne attend pendant trente-six ans un tombeau." His race is dispersed. His visions of hereditary succession for his sons, dislimn, dissolve, leave not a rack behind. The too charming and too fondly-beloved Mariette hies her to conceal in exile the shame, now so public, of having duped the hero's affection and betrayed his memory. On this subject, M. de Salvandy writes with generous warmth. If we ask with him, or of him rather, how it came to pass that so good and great a man as John Sobieski had his soul within him lacerated by grief; how it was that the king's home affections and his regal sway, his public life and his private life, were equally embittered, how it was that his sons grew up under his eye amid those vile debaucheries, those láches désordres, which were the ruin of them; why it was that he who lived the world's envy should die in despair? the answer M. de Salvandy gives us amounts to this: that John Sobieski committed one capital error in his life, of which error that life was to be the expiation. That when he sought for, and obtained the hand of the dazzling Madame Zamoyski, her husband, that generous Zamoyski whose tenderness had raised Marie d'Arquien to the pinnacle of honour and fortune, had only been three weeks in his grave. Sobieski should have
reminded himself that, surely, a woman who was so ready thus to forget and insult a man whose life had been devoted to her, was unworthy of a second attachment; that she would blight his entire existence instead of adorning and doing it honour; that she would implant in the breasts of their children the poisons which grew rank within her own; and that she would be capable of hereafter discrediting her second husband, even as she had already slighted her first.
* Foreign Quarterly Review, No. xiv. Sept.-VOL. CXXIII. NO. CCCCLXXXIX.
But if Sobieski's biographer, more in sorrow than in anger, can rebuke and remonstrate, he can also most indulgently make allowances and suggest excuses, on this score, of all others. "La passion aveugla Sobieski; et de tous les événements celui-là est assurément le plus digne d'excuse aux yeux du monde! Mais il est des hommes qui ont le devoir de se montrer élevés au-dessus de la foule par le caractère autant que par la fortune. Quand l'empire désordonné d'une femme peut influer sur le sort des nations, faut-il s'étonner que Dieu le châtie? ... L'histoire bien faite serait le tableau des justices du ciel."*
However, tout compte fait, as the essayist on Sobieski said in the Journal des Débats,† he was a great man and a "glorieux chrétien," and, in that twofold capacity, is one of the worthiest names in modern history; and has had one piece of good fortune, after his death, which is not accorded to all great men, and for which Cæsar and Condé are still kept waiting:—he has his historian (in Salvandy), and, as that historian's critics are free to aver, never will have, never need have, a better.
A VISIT TO THE COUNTY OF WICKLOW.
MANY travellers have spoken in praise of the beauties of Irish scenery as compared with that which we meet with in the peaceful, calm, domestic, and highly-cultivated counties in England. The Lakes of Killarney, the harbour of Cork, the wilds of Kerry, have been often resorted to in autumn, and the beauties of each have been frequently explored and commented upon. Who that is blessed with health, strength, and the gusto which loves to dwell on the loveliness of nature in its wild and primitive aspects, would not willingly undergo the rough vicissitudes of walking, car travelling, stopping at country inns, and being exposed to all sorts of varieties of weather (notwithstanding its being summer), in preference to the crowded railway carriage, and the cockneyism of the most generally visited places of resort in autumn? There is an air of comfort, of sociality, of city-like routine, in the excursion trips to visit the muchfrequented places of resort in England. Even those localities abroad which have been most written upon, most visited, most rhapsodied about by renowned poets and writers, and where
Nature, tortured twenty thousand ways,
To guide-books, tours, rhymes, sketches, illustrations,
are now so much inundated with visitors-adults, male and female, and infants-that a nook for retirement, or a secluded walk for contemplation, is what one might seek for in vain in their vicinity. I recollect stopping at Manheim, on the Rhine, after having come from the East, and
* Salvandy, Histoire du roi Jean Sobieski, t. ii.
† Of October 21st and November 4, 1855,-two essais on "Jean Sobieski."
having passed through the north of Italy, Switzerland, and so on to the Black Forest in Germany, through Schaffhausen, and finding myself in the hotel at Manheim, actually surrounded by English visitors. I really believe that in that long travellers' room where I dined there were not six persons, exclusive of the attendants, who were not English. Thus, I fancy that no place in the southern countries of Europe is likely to be found wholly exempt from English tourists and English felicity hunters. Also, the adjuncts for puffing off, advertising, and emblazoning the merits of the different localities, and the hotels which they boast of are so numerous, that their description would be endless. From the prince of guide-book writers, Murray, to the legions of
Imitatores servum pecus,
who follow in his wake, the well-known places are so belauded and commented upon by writers who deal in every phase of eulogium or puffs more numerous than those descanted upon in Sheridan's "Critic," that the traveller who essays to venture giving his lucubrations in their behalf might rationally fear that he should be unable to escape the charge of plagiarism. Certainly the supposition may seem rather affronting, and the idea rather ludicrous, but one can scarcely divest oneself of the thought which rises uppermost to one's mind on reading the hyperbolical comments which one sees in such numbers with reference to those places that their "praise is hymned," with the intention of heralding the hotels to the notice of the public, and that the many-tongued rumour, whose advertising medium is the press, with its all-diffusive agency, in place of the
κήρυκες Διὸς ἄγγελοι ἠδὲ καί ανδρῶν
is occupied by incessantly trumpeting forth to the tourist that the wild and sylvan solitudes which used to be left alone to nature are not unprovided with the comforts of modern enjoyment, and that the romance, which was wont to characterise mountain scenery has been chased away by the flaring hotel and its posse comitatus, if not by the distant whistle of the whirling engine. Such being the case with regard to the different favourite localities in Europe, it is with much diffidence that I approach the subject of a visit to the picturesque scenes in the county of Wicklow.
A good deal of allowance must be made for the exaggerated praise which has been bestowed upon the favourite rural spots in this county, which has been described, rather erroneously (I think), as the garden of Ireland. It is a tract of country embracing the most picturesque features of scenery which one meets with throughout the whole island, and having the mountains, valleys, woodlands, and rivers most beautifully disposed so as to form pleasing landscapes, the country residences of the gentry also being placed in such a series of successive arrangement as to form quite a continued category of interesting objects of attraction; but as a garden suggests the idea of produce in a most amplified extent, I do not think that the term is applicable to the county of Wicklow, its valleys, however prolific they may be, not producing any staple article which may be considered eligible for exportation more than the usual complement of corn and esculent roots, which are found elsewhere, and the feeding the cattle, which produce certainly a very excellent quality of butter, and the
sheep, which make the Wicklow mutton as much prized nearly in Ireland as the Welsh mutton is in England. To see the country to perfection, I think it is positively necessary to make a pedestrian tour of it; to stop when and where you like, to climb eminences, to talk to rustic cottagers, to watch the finest glimpses of the scenery at your leisure, to see the sun rise from the top of Sugar-loaf, the most favourable locality for the purpose throughout the county, you must thoroughly embrace the hardihood of a traveller who is blessed with the inestimable gift of health and walk. As we all know there are two hundred thousand acres, or more, situated inland of the county, which are uncultivated, when you come to any situation which is peculiarly dull and dreary, you may shorten the distance by taking one of the country cars, or you may, after having visited the chief places of attraction, return from Wicklow to Dublin by the train, which runs all along the coast, and performs the journey in an hour and a half. But to go inland to traverse the up-hill and down-dale trajet, which leads you from the Scalp to the Meeting of the Waters, and most especially not to neglect the adjacent scenes of interest, which are really the principal causes for making such a tour, you ought certainly to walk. I took the opportunity of fine weather, and made some pedestrian trips through the county.
I was quartered with my regiment at the Curragh camp—a distance of about thirty miles from Dublin-a most extensive plain, and one which has its surface thoroughly unbroken by the shelter of trees, or aught but the crossing of roads, the dwarf plantations of the gorse, called in the country furze, and some faint remains of the Raths, or ancient forts, which were in use with the native Irish, but which are now grown over and so much levelled by the lapse of time, that their traces are barely perceptible. To the southern side is situated what is called the camp, being a large cantonment of huts, all built of wood, and divided into a number of squares, which are distinguished by the letters of the alphabet, from A to K, and intersected by two lines of streets, the first being the road which divides the officers' huts from the squares where the men reside; the second being the road which divides the huts of the sutlers, the schools, cook-houses, stables, and guard-rooms, from the men's squares. Far apart, lying both to the north and to the south, are the huts where the general's numerous staff officers, chaplains, and heads of departments reside, and at some distance east of these the commander-inchief's residence is situated. In the centre of the grand cantonment stand the church and chapel, men's library and some offices, officers' racket-court, together with the post-office, general school, and other public buildings, and far away from the camp to the south is the place where the slaughter of the cattle takes place, which the authorities have wisely kept aloof from the dwelling-places of the troops. It wants, to render it perfect, in my opinion, only two things; the first, a library for the officers, of an extensive kind; and for both officers and men there should be two extensive pieces of water, to enable each class to partake of the refreshing exercise of swimming in the summer months.
Near this camp, at a distance of two miles, lies the small town of Kildare, a wretched place, but celebrated for the grand round tower, which is situated by the side of a large ruined abbey, and both buildings are in an enclosure lying in the centre of the town. In the same en
closure is the Protestant church, or rather cathedral. Of the round tower, which is very antique, and the same size as those which one usually sees in Ireland, I think the most remarkable part is that it is impracticable to reach to its summit, unless by a ladder placed outside. It would be also impossible, without breaking the stones down, to enter it, did not an oblong air-hole lie situated about ten feet from the base of the building, to which a ladder might also be laid, and one might by this means procure entrance. But the problem of "what purpose such a structure would serve for," being totally too narrow for affording a commodious dwelling-place to human beings, and besides being impervious to an entrance, and having no means of ascent, has not, I think, been satisfactorily solved, notwithstanding the ponderous tomes and the learned disquisitions which these round towers have given birth to. The granite stones are huge and massive, and it is built strongly and compactly, tapering up gradually to a height of one hundred feet, or thereabouts, and being about fifty feet at the base in circumference. Its being also situated beside a large chapel, or abbey, argues its having something to do with the religion which was prevalent in the country at the time of its building. All those which I have seen in the country are similar in their characteristics. Those which I have remarked particularly are this one at Kildare, one at Ferns, in Wexford, one at Glendalough, and one at the Seven Churches, near Athlone.
My road towards the county of Wicklow lay through Kilcullen. I accordingly took a fine day in summer for walking from the Curragh to that village, and so on to Pool-a-phooca. The road to Kilcullen was a distance of about three miles, which was principally alongside the partition wall which divided the road from a large demesne called Castle Marten, which I learn from the country people has changed owners lately, like a great many Irish estates, having formerly belonged to the Carter family. I made a detour to the right before I reached the new town of Kilcullen to see the ruins of an old town, called Old Kilcullen, which at present presents no objects indicating its having been the site of a community except the remains of an old church, which are situated on a hill, and surrounded by a churchyard. In the plain adjacent are a few mud huts. The town of Kilcullen, which lies about a mile from this, is a pretty one for the country it is in. The Liffey runs through it, and the bridge over this river spans it in the centre of the town. After passing through it the line of country becomes very boggy and flat, and I walked through to the village of Ballitore, which is a wretched one, and afterwards entered upon a wilder country; and about six miles from Ballitore reached the place called Pool-a-phooca, which is a romantic glen, well wooded, and, though small, a very pleasing and sequestered spot. But the chief characteristic of it is a waterfall from a height which is spanned by a stone bridge. It is formed by the waters of the Liffey. The vista from the glen below is really such as would form a beautiful vignette, but, in my humble opinion, wants grandeur, from the circumstance of the bridge which crowns it being artificial, and also forming a thoroughfare. This glen, however, is a favourite place of resort, and one, also, wholly detached from the regular beaten track of the county of Wicklow lions. I made a separate visit to it, and as it lies fifteen miles from Newbridge, I had a good day's walk in reaching it and re