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Let no man condemn Everard. He thought that he was doing right. But he was igno
rant; he was quite a child; it did not occur to him that the knowledge which we acquire by our
own exertions, by our own patient and methodical investigations, takes root in the mind with a stability which is not possessed by that which is communicated to us, through another, by fitful and irregular starts. A man may throw a cloak over your shoulders, but you must draw it lightly around you with your own hands, or you will lose it. Besides, Everard was wiser and older than he was when the parish minister was the oracle of his youthful understanding; his intellect was now more cultivated; the soil was in a fitter state to receive whatever seeds might fall upon it ; but the poor boy forgot all this. He took up the Système de la Nature ; he read a few chapters; but he did not like it; the style was too inornate; he threw aside the volume, and took up (I know not how it got there) Sir William Drummond's GEdipus Judaicus.
How much better it would have been for her son if Mrs. Sinclair. had burnt all these books. “A little philosophy,” saith Bacon, “inclineth men's minds to atheism ; but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion.” What could be expected from Everard, a child studying metaphysics, but error and untruth An infant playing with the strings of a harp maketh not SWeet music.
He thought that the great machine of society was badly organized. He thought that there was more unhappiness and unrighteousness in the world, than is accordant with the desire of a merciful God. He conceived that by a concurrence of voluntary energies, very much of this evil might be amended. He did not think that the institutions of humanity were founded upon true Christian principles. This was unfortunate; for people in general care less about the spiritual than the conventional. The world is more violent in defending the forms, than the essence of the religion it professes.
I hope that I have made it appear that Everard was neither an atheist, nor, indeed, a follower of Anti-Christ. I have tried to do so. Perhaps I have failed. However, his deeds will speak for him. When they said that Sophocles was mad, he read his GEdipus Colomeus to the judges.
“But Everard Sinclair was, at all events, heterodox. He did not belong to the Church of England, nor subscribe to the Thirty-nine Articles.” There I abandon him,--I give him up. I have nothing to say in his behalf, but that he had some very excellent qualities. Bear with him, I beseech you. Do not condemn him, for he condemned no one. Deal with him as Isaac Walton did with the frogs. Deal with him as though he were your brother.
School has been rightly called “a microcosm;" it is, indeed, a little world; the argument of a greater work,-the sketch of a larger picture, a puppet show, a theatre in miniature. It is a sort of undress rehearsal of the tragedy of life. Life is always a tragedy, for there is death in the closing scene.
Those were the happiest days of my life, the days of that vacation at Heathfield. It was beautiful summer weather, and I was in the enjoyment of all that I could wish. I was then nearly seventeen years of age, and Everard was a few months my junior. That same age of seventeen, methinks, is, above all others, the season when life is most bountiful in its blessings. We then begin to be conscious of enjoyment; to know that we are really happy. Knowledge is just beginning to dawn upon us. The pleasures of the intellect are enrobed in all their freshest garments of beauty, and those of the affections are girt about with a glory which is bedimmed in maturity. We are standing, as it were, upon the bridge across the stream which separates the child from the man,—which passes from ignorance to knowledge. Life is replete with hope, —our bosoms glow with enthusiasm. ...We dream of futurity, and live in the midst of imaginary scenes. We know just enough of life to look upon it as a radiant thing, and to glory in our frail humanity. We know just enough to be happy. At seventeen we have arrived at a season of existence, which, above all others, is most pregnant with enjoyment; equally remote as it is from the dull ignorance of childhood, and the desolating knowledge of maturity. Oh that I could have made a stand there, and have advanced not a step further into the gloom of the vally of years
Everard falls in love, and his passion is returned. He thus describes the bliss of being beloved :
The chalice of my joy runs over; I am no longer an unblest, solitary being, treading the F. of desolation. I am happy—nay, more, I am beloved ; and in that one word is compreended all that is most blissful upon earth. What a beautiful thing is affection Like the tree which the Prophet of Israel cast into the waters of Marah, it sweetens the bitter fountain of life. It is even as the “wondrous alchemy" of Medea, the sorceress,
Which, wheresoe'er it fell, made the earth gleam
We have already objected to this work, that the characters are too much on stilts, but there are passages in it which are at once natural, touching, and eloquent. Such is that which describes Jerningham's first interview, after his return from India, with a sweet girl whom he afterwards marries, from pique, not from affection, and hurries to a premature grave by his unkindness and neglect:
We spake of past,-of our childish days; and upon such a theme, we were more than eloquent. We spake of joys departed,—of events long buried in the sepulchre of time, of feelings which once had been, but which now were not, and never would be again. We called upa thousand things for many years wrapped in oblivion, which now we remembered and spake of with the tenderest and most affectionate emotion. Every word that we uttered was a note from our heart's lyre ; and there was music in the tones of our voices, because there was harmony in our souls. Our accents were very low, for deep feeling is not otherwise than quiet; and memory stole over us with a soothing power which was sweet, though laden with sadness ; and thoughts, too holy for utterance, vented themselves silently ; and their stillness was more eloquent than words.
Then we burst the bonds of silence, and language again came to our relief. We spake of events which had happened since we two had dwelt asunder, I told of my travels and my loneliness, my sickness and my struggles with death. I said that in the hour of tribulation, when disease sat by my couch, and pain was my bed-fellow, night and day,+and when there was none to help me, -I had thought of Heathfield and of Ellen, and a light shone upon the darkness of my despair, and peace entered the dwelling-place of my soul. Then Ellen spake of all that had happened at Heathfield since last I had seen her. She told me of her poor brother,-how the boy had been neglected at school, and sent home too late to his parents, how she had nursed him many weeks, scarcely resting from her vigils, because she loved him very dearly ; and the boy liked best to be tended by Ellen—his own sister. Ellen,” as he called her. Then she told me how the boy died,—died in her arms one night, when all beside her slept ; and how she was left alone with death, but feared not, because her God was in the chamber. And when Ellen spake of these things she swept. Poor girl' she had seen much of grief; and
Many innocent tears
In the second volume there is a description of a wild Bacchanalian revel al fresco, by torchlight, which is more extravagant, perhaps, than any thing in the work; but which, in spite of its pedantry and bad taste in general, is not wanting in power, and indicates a classical turn of mind. . The leading star among the choice spirits at this mad orgie, is the gifted and gay young Lord Leicester, the victim of Dalaval's iniquitous revenge, and he sings the following song, which appears to us to be a very spirited and classical lyric. As Leigh Hunt would say “there is a proper Bacchanalian roar in it.” A critic in the Monthly Review, says of the penultimate stanza, that “it is almost sublime from its excess of extravagance :
Let snarling Cynics rail at it, and priests say what they will,
There's a blessing in the sun-light, a blessing in the air,
I sit within my bower, and enjoy the cooling breeze,
A maiden sits beside me as I quaff the glowing wine,
And she presses with a gentle touch her blissful cheek to mine ;
* Shirely's Duke's Mistress.
I sip the sparkling nectar, and it mounts up to my brain ;
The earth it reels, it totters; and the trees dance to and fro;
The sun itself whirls round and round, and now 'tis overcast ;
“ The Moenad's song”, which follows, though in a still more classical vein, is very inferior, and therefore we shall not quote it.
Our next extract describes
But Everard Sinclair was benevolent and wise. His charity was of the most valuable order because it was active charity., . Had he given tens of thousands to the poor, without entering their gates, he would have achieved but a small fraction of the good which his exertions brought about. Energy of purpose, subtlety of device, unshrinking fortitude, and laborious zeal, were instruments in his hands, which compensated for the absence of gold, and were the constant hand-maidens of his benevolence, whose resources were unfailing, however conflicting the difficulties against which they were summoned to contend. Beneficence was a science with him, and how to be beneficent his study.
We must now venture on a very long but a very beautiful extract. It is a common remark that a love scene is rarely interesting in description; but Mr. Kaye has furnished one which is far from being liable to this objection. Any thing more exquisitely pourtrayed than the scene in which Jerningham and the lovely enthusiastic, Margaret, discover their mutual passion, we have seldom met with. If any carping critic be disposed to object that the language is too exalted, let him reflect that it is the language of youth and enthusiasm, gifted with eloquence and taste, and seeking to develop the ardour of new-born love :
Mr. de Laurier went his way, and I abandoned myself for a few minutes to the pleasantest reflections imaginable. But I did not remain idle very long ; for I started up, and cried, “ Fool, fool, to enjoy the shadow instead of the substance,—the image, and not the reality of bliss.” So I drank of a bumper of wine to “Sweet Margaret de Laurier ;” and, hastening up stairs, in a moment I was seated by her side.
How radiantly beautiful she was what harmony in that impassioned face ! She was reading when I entered the room, and the poetry of the volume before her was legibly written upon her countenance. You might tell at once what she was reading by the peculiar expression of her features.
She was sitting upon the sofa with her book; and her beautiful sandaled feet were resting upon a worked cushion. I would have given the whole world to have kissed those little feet.
I seated myself beside her. She was so wrapt up in her book, that she did not know I had entered the room. I tried to say something, but I could not ; I looked into her face ; Margaret was aware of my presence ; but she did not raise her eyes from the book. At last, I said * Margaret;"—and she looked at me, and answered, “Claude."—Then I knew that my love was returned.
Presently she inquired after her father. “He has gone out,” I said ; but I would not tell her where he was gone. This was partly selfish, and partly not; I would not distress Margaret, and I wished her to think of no one but me.
“Will he be back soon 2" asked Margaret.
alpable to embody the delicacy of our sensations. That is a pretty Oriental custom, where loveetters are made out of flowers.
We spake of beauty,+universal beauty; and this led us to consider the respective advantages of personal and intellectual endowments. Margaret contended in favour of the latter, whilst I was vehement in exalting the former. I said that, in my opinion, beauty was the greatest blessing in the world; but Margaret said, that it was a feather when weighed in the balance against genius. We were, both of us, very much in error; but it was a beautiful theme for lovers to converse upon.
Margaret astonished me by the mingled delicacy and profoundness of all her remarks. I wish that I could remember what she said; but I will endeavour to give a draught of the conversation.
She did not talk quite like a philosopher; but then she was a mere girl ; scarcely nineteen years of age ; and though she was not always right, she was always very clever, in her observations. For my own part, I don't like young people to be logical.
“What is it, Margaret,” I said, “that changes a wilderness into an Eden, and “makes a glory, in a shady place o’”
She did not answer, for some moments; but she blushed, and I knew what she meant. “Will
you not tell me ?" I asked ; and leaving her to finish the sentence, I continued,—“ Margaret, is it. ->
And she did finish the sentence. One little, quaint monosyllable, worth all the language beside—' Love.’
If there was idolatry in my heart at that moment, I hope to be forgiven.
“Yes, Margaret, it is love and what a beautiful thing it is. ‘Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it; if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.’”
“How beautiful 1" cried Margaret, “those must be inspired words.”
“They are,” I said, “it is the language of Solomon. You acknowledge then, with me, Margaret, that love surpasses all other blessings, as the sun outshines all the stars of the firmament. But what is the oil, Margaret, that cherishes the lamp of love?”
“I think not; Iam sure not, Margaret; it is beauty. Genius may awaken admiration, honour, respect, flattery, but it will not awaken love. We fondle that which we love, but we could not caress deformity, though it were the temple of brightest genius. We look with an eye of kindness upon all beautiful things, even the many-coloured, crested snake, as its graceful folds glitter in the sun; we love it, though it has venom in its mouth, –there is that in beauty—”
“Claude, Claude, I will not suffer you to go on; you talk of beauty,+what then is genius? Is it not intellectual beauty? What is the body when weighed against the mind what is this dull mass of clayey matter to the essential soul of man? What is a span of life to eternity Oh, Claude, do not set up the substance against the spirit of man; stones, flowers, all insensate things, the birds of the air, the brutes that perish, are clothed in robes of beauty and splendour ; but man– only man, Claude, whom God made after his own image, is illuminated with the light of genius, and can boast the possession of a soul.”
“Alas! Margaret,” I replied, “we have fallen upon evil days. That genius is a more ennobling possession than beauty, I seek not to deny. I should be insensate, indeed, were I to do so. But is it a greater blessing 2 Margaret, I think not. They who have both," and here 1 paused, and looked significantly into the maiden's face, “they who are doubly-gifted, know not how to answer this question. They are beloved ; they are conscious of the result; but when they dive into the cause of this mystery, it is natural that they should rather believe that their attractive powers are centred in their minds than in their bodies, because the miud is so much nobler than the body. There is a pretty little eastern fable—”
“Nay, Claude, I won't allow your sable to have any weight,” cried Margaret, shaking her dark ringlets, and smiling with a face full of joy.
“Then what say you to a fact, my little utilitarian There is one Madame de Stael, a vain woman it is true, but a woman of great genius; she said, that for one attribute of beauty she would exchange all her mental endowments. I like her the better for this ; she was sick and weary of admiration; she wished to barter it for love. I have heard this speech differently interpreted, but such is my construction, it is charitable; Madame De Stael had an unlovely person, and she was like the sensitive plant of your own dear Shelley, which (you must tell me if I quote not aright, ght,) “Has no bright flower; Radiance and odour are not its dower; It loves e'en like Love, its deep heart is full, It desires what it has not, the beautiful.’
When I apply these beautiful verses to the French woman, I apply them to all who, like her, have
genius without beauty, and who are taught by the presence of the former to feel more acutely the absence of the latter.”
“If love were only the hand-maiden of beauty, then, Claude, I would say with you, there is nothing like beauty in the world. But it is not so : I will quote you a passage from the same volume,” and she started up to fetch a book which was lying on the table. It was a Paris edition, containing a triad of poets, Coleridge, Shelley, and Keats.
She turned over the leaves of the book, and, presently, in a sweet silver-toned voice, she read the following lines from the Prometheus : –
“Common as light is love,
She paused suddenly, her face, her neck, her shoulders, were died with a crimson hue. She bent her head forward, and she pressed both her hands upon her eyes, like one who strives, with all her might, to prevent the tears from gushing forth. Then she trembled all over, “from the crown of her head to the sole of her foot,” the excitement of her feelings made her tremble, and all because she had alighted upon a passage which was strangely applicable to her own condition.
“Margaret, are you unwell?" I drew myself closer to her side, and gently withdrawing her pressing hands from the bright orbs that they covered, I continued, “Oh, Margaret, speak to me! Have I said anything 2–yet that were impossible ! You alarm me, my dear Margaret !” and Margaret listed up her eyes.
Then, seeing that she had almost recovered herself, I cried—“Will you read on 1 I should like you to finish the sentence, though I hardly know what it contains : I am sure it must be something very beautiful, yet I dare not look at it myself. Margaret, I should like you so much to finish reading that passage.”
“Give me the book, Claude. I will read it, if you wish me to do so. Yet how foolish I am. You must think me a great simpleton, I am sure.” And then taking the book into her hand, she fixed her eyes upon the printed page, though they traced not the characters written there ; for they were too full of tears to see any thing distinctly, and Margaret knew the passage by rote. I never shall forget the tones of her voice, as she articulated the following words: I never shall forget the thrilling emotions with which I drank in every syllable she uttered. She began the passage anew :
“Common as light is love,
They who inspire it host are fortunate,
As I shall soon become,”
What a beautiful thing it is to make love over a volume of poetry !
“Heaven bless you, my Margaret I” I cried. “Yes, my Margaret:” and was she not my troth-plight bride, as much as if she had said, “I am yours ?"
“Heaven bless you, my own sweet Margaret !” And encircling her trembling waist, with an arm scarcely less tremulous, I pressed the palpitating maiden to my bosom, whilst a long, burning, passionate kiss, that would have gained the prize at the Dioclesian festivals,” bespoke the intensity of my love.
“What a beautiful volume this is, Claude : I am so glad that you admire Shelley. Do you know, I please myself with the fancy that Shelley was an Italian poet. His writings are imbued with an inspiration peculiar to that sunny land. He lived there, and he died there, you know. I look upon Byron, too, as half an Italian, and Keats. Do you speak the Italian language 3. It is the language of poetry and”—she paused, and cast down her eyes. Her frame trembled slightly. Whenever she was much excited, she shook all over like an aspen leaf.
I finished the sentence in her stead—“‘Love, Margaret ! It is the language of poetry and love. I am but a poor scholar : my ignorance puts me to the blush. I have read “Petrarch,' and some portion of the ‘Giarusalemme;' but my knowledge is very imperfect. I will learn it, though, for your sake, Margaret. Perhaps you will teach me.” And I smiled.
Margaret's countenance assumed a serious aspect. “Claude,” she said, “I was born in Italy. You know not what aspirations I have to visit that sunny clime. I am an Italian,—my father is an Italian. You will not quarrel with me, Claude, for boasting that I belong not to the same country as yourself.”
* Festivals, in honour of Diocles, celebrated annually at his tomb, where the youth who gave the sweetest kiss, was publicly rewarded with a garland.