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Byron and a Southey. Can we expect to see successors worthy of these men reared up under the penny scale of remuneration which now exists? If knowledge become so cheap that the production of it in an original form shall cease in future to be profitable, what are we to think of the wisdom of those corporate bodies, who, for a momentary purpose, sacrifice the means by which alone the true interests of literature can be promoted? The sum of information created down to a late period of our history may, indeed, be dealt out in exchange for the lowest coin of the realm. But who, with that wretched pittance before him for his reward, will apply his mind to new inquiries, with the view of enlarging the circle of the sciences, or the range of any species of knowledge of a really useful description?
We perceive that the contagion of the cheap system has also reached France, where a great variety of deux sous journals are already in progress. The wood-cuts which have already served their purpose in this country are stereotyped, if we may use such an expression, and the plates are transmitted to Paris, where they enable an inferior order of booksellers to issue, with a certain quantity of letter-press, an unlimited number of embellishments, at a price still lower even than that at which they are sold in England. Although books published on the continent have been for many years considerably cheaper, on the average, than in this country, nevertheless it will not be possible for the Gobelets, the Mongies, the L'Advocats of Paris-who have been among the Mæcenases of French literature-to contend against the competition of the deux sous race of livraisons. Their standard works will soon be so thoroughly rifled, that they might as well throw the volumes into the Seine, as preserve them any longer in their warehouses. In France, it is true, science may still take refuge in the Institute, where it will be sure to meet with just honour and reward; but as to any of the higher departments of writing, that kingdom may be said to be already as barren as our own. Thus the prospects of original and lofty literature, in the two most civilized nations of the earth, are reduced to a state of absolute despair.
BRUNEL'S APOLOGY FOR THE TUNNEL.
WHEN Brunel fail'd, and Nature set her face
In truth," cried he, "I own you have been bored,
* Mr. Brunel sticks up a glass at the end, and then says, "See what it would have looked like, if I could have finished it !"-Vide" New Monthly" for March, p. 372.
April.-VOL. XL. NO. CLX.
MINE has been a troublous and a perilous life in matters of love: no sooner have I emerged from one ocean of sighs and tears, than I have plunged headlong into another. It is passing strange that I never fell into matrimony in my very early days; my father did so, and so did my mother, and also my respected grand-dame. She, good soul, originally Miss Letitia Simpson, at fifteen married her first husband, a Mr. Jeffery Wilson; at sixteen, gave birth to my mother. Her husband then died without any other issue, leaving her more than well provided for. At seventeen, she espoused a Mr. Winckworth, who, in his turn, consigned her to single blessedness and a fat dower; after which, having quarrelled with all her race, or all her race with her, she abjured them and the realm, betook herself to the Continent, and was barely heard of afterwards. My mother, following one part of her example, married at sixteen, and enriched the world with me at seventeen. Fate, however, I suppose, (for I am a believer in fate,) destined me to
"Waste my sweets upon the desert air;"
and thus only can I account for my escaping all the matronly and matrimonial snares that beset me in my youth. But to my tale.
On my arrival on the Continent, I had been but a short time at when my health visibly and seriously declined, and the medical men who attended me advised a visit to for its restoration. In accordance with their directions, I, nothing loth, (for a seat at a desk never was a desideratum with me,) sat out; and, as I was alone, and was not overenamoured of my monosyllabic patronyme, assumed one more suited to the euphony of a billet-doux; and having, therefore, rebaptized myself, I made my appearance at my journey's end as Augustus Montagu, with, moreover, a dash of black down on my upper lip, which I dignified, to my own mind, with the title of moustache. Thus yclept, and thus accoutred, I began my way at ·; and, by dint of my modest looks, a little foppery, and my good name, I shortly won my way into a circle of acquaintance.
At a party to which I had, through these means, been asked, I one night met a Madame Pérollet, whose appearance, and more, her sufferance of my attentions, made some impression upon me. She was an extremely fine woman, and English, seemingly about five-and-thirty, though less-favoured fair ones spoke of her having numbered fifty years. Her hair and eyes were of the blackest; her eye-lashes of the same colour, and long, thick, and silky; her complexion fair, but not ruddy, such as best contrasts with, and best becomes, the raven lock; her features were more beautiful in their expression than in their individuality, although then even they were beautiful; her teeth were the finest I ever saw; and I opine no woman can lay claim to beauty who cannot show, nay, even display, her teeth. She bore an easy, dignified, and complacent smile; her figure was of the strictest proportions, and her carriage most graceful; moreover, she was rich, and consequently
aimable. She was a widow, too; and, with all these qualifications, of course was greatly sought after by the men. But she had sense and caution; and while she smiled on all, and enamoured many, she never gave more than hope, and preserved all her own freedom. The women, who wished her dead, or married, consequently called her a coquette, and some of the vieux garçons agreed with them-but this was suspicious evidence; while the younger men, whom the aunts and mothers of standing spinsters admonished to beware of the widow, only bowed, and then turned on their heel to laugh.
The first time I met her, a glove which she dropped, and which I proffered her, gave me an opportunity of opening a conversation with her. At first, conscious of my youth, I hesitated a little, although my looks bespoke an age riper, by some years, than I had attained; but her answers were so mild, so suave, and so condescending, her manner to me so kind and easy, and her whole conduct so engaging and assuring, -that, before I left her, I had, although blushingly, adventured on some little gallant badinage, for which, to the mortification of my elder competitors, she shook her little delicate finger at me, and tapped me with her fan. Encouraged thus, I might have proceeded farther; but as she knew how to commence a conquest, so she knew how to continue one; and assuming a dignity, not violent, but perceptible, she restrained my further advances: and being even then sensible that an independent respect is the surest way to a woman's heart, (for I had begun to think of hers,) I contented myself, for that time, by expressing a hope that I should have the happiness to meet her again, and bowed myself
That night I rose fifty per cent. in my own esteem. "Truly," said I to myself, "the man whom that woman distinguishes must own some attractions: she is a lovely and an intellectual specimen of her sex; to possess the love of such a one would be something to pride one's self on. What honour is the love of a giddy, indiscriminating girl, who runs the market of matrimony with her heart in her hand eager to bestow it on the first bidder?-Truly, I'll be a chapman no more for such common wares. But, vanity! vanity! Can the rich, beautiful, sought, and at an age when prudence has mastered passion, think of such a one as me? Yet she seemed very kind." "But kindness never marries," said a still, small voice. "Yet she ofttimes gives birth to love," I thought, in answer. "But she is wealthy, has a wide range for choice, is a widow, and has the whole town after her," replied my monitor. True, true," I whispered; "but she has interested me, and by I'll try it !”
Again we met- -"Et je contais encore quelques fleurettes." The widow smiled at them, and threatened, if I persisted, to reprove me. "Cela va bien," said I to myself, and I retired; for my vanity, or little else, was as yet interested.
A third time we met. "Now then, Ephraim," said I, " for the coup d'essai-this time you must be serious and distant, and if she has thought upon you, the result will tell." I approached her with a low and most respectful reverence; inquired after her health; without giving her time to answer, made some dry remarks on the wet weather; broached a recent murder; remarked on the Almanac, and the last new flounce; and was retiring, when she said
"But, Mr. Montagu, I wish to trouble you with a commission, if you can find time to execute it for me."
I assured her I was at her service.
"Then will you have the goodness to see my carriage ordered here at twelve, as I have been out all the week, and am fatigued. Perhaps you will let me know when it is at the door, as I don't wish to be seen leaving so early."
"Allons, mon bon ami, Ephraim," thought I; "cela va du mieux." And thanking her for the honour of her commands in a tone of deep and grateful respect, I left her to execute them.
That done, and twelve o'clock came, I made my way to her. She was seated near the door, and whispering to her (for the secrecy she wished me to practise gave me the privilege to do so) that the carriage was ready, I offered myself as her escort to it. She accepted my offer, and placed her arm within mine; as she did so, I felt a fluttering in my heart I was unprepared for, and as the staircase was deserted, I looked up in trembling and confusion into her face, and perceived she looked at me. One instant our eyes met, and the next they were cast down or averted, and I thought the confusion was mutual-I positively shook. As I handed her into the carriage, I stammered out an expression of hope that she would feel relieved from her fatigue next day, and begged her permission to call and inquire after her health in the morning a gracious smile, and a graceful inclination of the head, answered me, and the coach drove off.
"Fool," said I, as I slowly reascended, " to match your puny wits against a woman's charms and wiles! Your own weak snares have entrapped you."
In the morning, having dressed myself with more than ordinary care, I found myself, about two o'clock, with a very unsettled pulse, at Madame Pérollet's door; and being announced, was ushered into the drawing-room, where the widow was seated on a couch, at a small and elegantly-carved writing-table, drawing her small white hands over some invitation cards. The usual inquiries made and answered, our conversation turned on the previous night's party, and she told me she was busy when I entered writing cards for one of her own.
"But do you know," she said, "I write so little lately that my hand is quite stiff, and I am so awkward. See," said she, laying it over the table to me, 66 see how I have blacked my fingers with the ink."
"Indeed," said I, rising and advancing to the table, and with an affectation of short sight, taking her hand in mine to examine it. "This ink of yours is a most sacrilegious violator. Would you permit me," I added, as she drew her hand away, to finish your task?”
Oh, indeed,” she answered, rising and vacating her place to me, you will oblige me much, if you will undertake that kind office for
"Rather say for myself," I said; "for I fear I am selfish in seeking the pleasure I ask."
She made me no reply, but smiled, and placed herself opposite, with a list of names to dictate.
"What is this?" said I, taking up the last she had finished. is my name. Am I the only Mr. Montagu of your acquaintance?"
She nodded acquiescence.
"And am I to have the honour of attending you?"
"If," she ans answered, no better, no more agreeable engagement." "Heavens!" said I," what better, what more agreeable engagement is it possible I could have? what other engagement could induce me to forego
"Mr. Montagu," said the widow, " I will read the names."
"I thank you-but, Madam," I resumed, "you must first permit me to thank you for the honour you have done me, or you will make me believe you think so meanly of me as to deem me insensible to it."
"If your thanks are on each recurrence of the occasion to be as fervent," said the widow, "I fear the task will soon be irksome to you, for I have just made up my mind, if you will promise to write all my cards, and be a little more sedate in your gratitude, to put your name down in my book for the season."
"Is it possible, Madam? then will I be sworn, like the Hebrew copyist, never to pen aught else; and will attend you, too happy as your bidden, your bounden scribe-nay, but there is no room for that dubious smile-I will swear."
"Don't, pray," she replied; "remember, if you write for me only, how many damsels will die for lack of the elegant food of your billets
doux ! "
"Not one, I assure you, Madam; if I have polluted paper with a line to woman since my arrival, or dared to harbour thoughts of more than one, and she, one to whom I can never presume to aspire
"Then there is one, Mr. Montagu? but pray remember my cards. I fear you will a very negligent amanuensis." "There is indeed one, Madam, if I dared reveal her."
Well, well, Mr. Montagu," she said, "I don't wish to confess you."
"And yet, Madam," I answered, "you could absolve me."
"Mr. Montagu," said the widow, hastily, "do, pray, think of my cards, or I must write them; and only see how that nasty ink has stained my fingers."
"It only serves as a foil to the snowy lustre of the rest,” I said. "But yet you would not like it if the hand were yours
"If it were mine-if it could ever be mine," I said, warming as I spoke, and raising it to my lips.
"Have done then, have done, Mr. Montagu; see now how you have kept your promise, not one card written-oh, fie! and now we really must leave it till to-morrow, for I must go out."
"I hope not," I said. "I will complete them instantly."
But, indeed, I must go out."
"To-morrow then, perhaps, you will permit me to show my industry?"
Yes," she said, "if you will promise, very faithfully, really to write." As closely as a pundit, on my honour;" and once more pressing her hand, and having fully received pardon for my sins, I withdrew.
The next day and the next, our seats were resumed. I pen in hand, Madame with her pocket-book; but still the cards remained stationary. Not so with other matters: I progressed in love and boldness, until I won