Page images
PDF
EPUB

26.
He watched him as he lessened in his flight,

Gazing with anger, agony and dread;
Until he vanished wholly from his sight,

And then in sorrowing accents, thus he said
« Oh! am I not a luckless man the night!

What shall I do?” (and then he scratched his head,)
« Oh! if I once was home, upon my word,
I'd ne'er again set leg across a bird.'

27
How long he staid upon his airy seat,

I have not time at present to disclose ;
What wondrous things, if any,

he did meet,
And whether he was hail'd by friends or foes ;
Whether he set on earth again his feet,

My readers fain would learn, I may suppose ;
He saw, 'tis true, what none e'er saw before ;-
But we reserve them all for Canto Four.

MELMOTH THE WANDERER, &c. *

name

We do not envy those who are in- and anon a truth of true poetry difcapacitated by extreme delicacy of taste, fused over the thickest chaos of his or, we should rather perhaps say, by absurdities—and that he walks almost extreme indulgence in the habits of without a rival, dead or living, in many strict criticism, from enjoying such of the darkest, but, at the same time, works as those of Mr Maturin. They the most majestic circles of romance ? are all, prose and verse, full of faults Encouraged by praise at once so high so numerous, that it would be quite and so universal, it is no wonder that fatiguing—so obvious, that it would a young author of the true Milesian be quite useless to point them out. breed should regard with very consiThere is not one of them that a rigid derable indifference the cavils of the disciple of the Aristotelian school of hypercritical ;-nay, that he should criticism would condescend to call by be contented to go on sinning glothe of

any one given species of rious sins”-a sort of applauded rebel regular composition ; for there is not against all the constituted authorities one of them that has either begin- of the literary judgment-seat. But, ning, or middle, or end. The author, nevertheless, it is a very great pity in a very great proportion of every that such should be the continued work he has written, has been con course of his career. He should retented with copying the worst faults member, that although his faults are of his predecessors and contemporaries, not able to deprive him of the admiin the commonest walks of fictitious ration of the present time, they may writing. In his best passages there bid very fair to shut him out altogeis always a mixture of extravagance, ther, or nearly so, from the knowledge in the whole of his works there is of posterity. He should remember, not, perhaps, to be found one page of that it is one thing to be an English perfectly natural thought, or perfectly classic, and another to occupy "ample elegant language. And yet, where is room and verge enough” in every cirthe lover of imaginative excitement, culating. library throughout the land. that ever laid down one of his books We are far from saying that Mr Maunfinished-or the man of candour turin should writeless--but we do and discrimination, who ever denied, say, that he should write a great deal after reading through any one of more-observe a great deal more them, that Maturin is gifted with a and correct a great deal more.

If he genius as fervently powerful as it is does not, he may depend upon it he distinctly original that there is ever will never fulfil the rich promise of

* Melmoth the Wanderer: a Tale. By the author of “ Bertram,” &c. In 4 volumes. Edinburgh : Constable & Company.

mances.

his montORIO; for that, we rather men, women, and children, without, think, was the first-and, we are quite excepting in one instance only, the sure, is the best of all his perform smallest item of profit or pleasure ac

cruing to The Wanderer himself. Next to Montorio, however, we have The story of this demon of the piece no hesitation in placing this new ro is not very distinctly given, but, so mance of Melmoth the Wanderer, far as we can gather, he has sold his which, whatever faults may be disco- soul to the devil, for the sake of the vered or pointed out, either in its con- above-mentioned privileges and imception or in its execution, or in both munities; but, discovering after a time of these, cannot fail to be read univer- (like St Leon) the worthlessness of sally, and to please universally. It is superhuman powers in human hands, infinitely better than “ Women, or he is very desirous to prevail upon Pour et Contre," or " Fredolfo" in some other child of earth, to take the “ Bertram”-excellent as all these infernal lease, with all its consequenworks are in their several ways ces of good and evil, off his hands. and one reason for this is, that it is in order to find a person who will reinfinitely more horrible—for in horror, lieve him of his burthen, he explores there is no living author, out of Ger- from the time of Charles I. down to many, that can be at all compared that of George III. all imaginable with Mr Maturin.

scenes of human suffering and calaThe chief fault of the story is, that mity, always heightening, sometimes there is too much uniformity in the causing and originating the misery, sources of its horror-and yet, there amidst which it is his only business, is nothing more admirable than the and his only delight to move ;-exaltvariety of application by which the ing, casting down, exalting again, same cause of horror is made to dif- and again depressing, wearying out fuse its shadow over so many different and buffeting with every instrument walks of life. The error and the beauty and art of torture the feeble spirit of go hand in hand together in this re- humanity, in the hope of at last spect--no very uncommon circum- finding some one moment of wickedstance, by the way, in regard to the ness or weakness, in which his great works of Mr Maturin.

ultimate temptation may be offered The truth is, however, that it is and accepted. But it is all to no purmere courtesy to call MELMOTH “ a pose, The ambition of the young, Romance ;" for the four volumes con the avarice of the old, the love of the tain as many or more stories which, bride, the tenderness of the mother, with the exception of the agency of all are alike assailed, and all in vain. one character common to them all, No human passion excited to its uthave no sort of connexion with each most pitch of inflammation, is found other, their personages being other- capable of hurrying on the soul of wise quite different, and their scenes man or woman to a deliberate renunlaid at different periods, and in quite ciation of the hopes of eternal weal. different parts of the world. Suc- Parents starve before the eyes of their cessive pictures of human misery are starving children, but neither son presented in England, Ireland, India, nor daughter will purchase them brez ! Spain, and elsewhere, and between at the price of perdition; the lover them there is no earthly connexion, is struck with wild insanity, or wanexcept what arises from the one cir- ders a drivelling ideot by the side cumstance, that wherever exhibited, of his mistress, yet she too resists the and however produced, the master- terrible temptation ; the deserted mospring and moving cause of all this ther lies famishing in a dungeon, and misery is John MELMoth the wan her child dies of hunger on her breast, derer--A strange indefinable being, because even her resolution can withsomething between a Faustus and a stand the diabolical boon. For each Mephistophiles-whose life appears to of these situations of temptation there have been extended over the space of is here a separate tale, with separate nearly two centuries, and his mind time, incidents, and characters; but and body alike endued with no incon- they are all connected by the perpea siderable portion of the proper diabo- tual intervention of those black eyes, lical energy, all for the purpose of lustrous with the brilliancy of hell producing torture to human beings, which reveal too surely, and too late,

[ocr errors]

diren all the unhappy beings introduced, impossible we should give our readers

the fiend-like powers and purposes of either specimen or description. the most unhappy Melmoth.

Another very fine story is that of a There is an infinite display of ge- young Spaniard, whom the sins of his nius in the conception of all and each mother, and the weakness of his fa

of these tales; they are all sketches, ther, have condemned to the convene

but they are all sketches that could tual life, and who-his original averhas not be executed but by the hand of a sion for that life having been aggra

master; and no eye can look on any vated by a thousand circumstances one of them, without being satisfied of minute intolerable oppression into that the same hand might produce total hatred and disgust-explores althings no less perfect than powerful, most in vain every human resource of were such the good will and pleasure invention and boldness, in order to esof Mr Maturin. Perhaps the finest cape from its thraldom. The great me

design of the whole is that of the rit of this tale lies in the Author's streel story of the Spanish Girl that has nuous rejection of all those vulgar hor

been wrecked, and preserved alone, rors by which the disciples of the upon an island of the Indian Sea, Radcliffe School have been accustomwhere she grows up to womanhood in ed to deepen their portraitures of the innocent companionship of flowers monastic misery, and the skill he has and birds, till her lonely loveliness at displayed in resting the interest extracts the notice of the wanderer, who cited in favour of his hero, not on woos her in her island, with human these, but on the effect, slow, sure, and words and flatteries. Then her soli- irresistible, of that far more cuntude becomes loathsome to her, and ning, and more common species of she cannot breathe its voluptuous air tyranny, which destroys its victims without agony, unless the wily tempt

Non vi sed

sæpe

cadendo." er be there to walk with her beneath The truth of this representation is the leafy colonnades of her Banyan indisputable-we speak of its historiTree, or sit with her when the breeze cal, no less than of its moral truth ; plays, to watch the moon-beams on the aná, on every account, we recommend face of the midnight sea. Then he the whole of it to the study of our leaves her, and she is discovered by readers, who will indeed be very far her relations, and carried back to Spain, from doing their duty to Mr Maturin, where her heart pants and sickens in if they satisfy themselves with a single the midst of priests and duennas, for hasty novel-reading glanceover this, and the luxuries of her old natural freedom, manyother parts of thepresent performand the mysterious intellectual ardent The Spanish manners, too, of visitant of her island solitude. Then this, and some other parts of the work, Melmoth appears on the Prado, and appear to us to be, in general, very she faints at his sight. He en- felicitously given--and the Spanish ters the garden, and speaks to her scenery is sketched with a free, bold, at her viranda by the moonlight. He masculine power, that is the more efweds her, deserts her, discovers him- fective, by reason of the tender and self the more deeply to betray her,--, touching nature

the sentiments sees her thrown into the caverns of with whose influence its enchantments the Inquisition with no solace but the are not unfrequently mingled. company, of her child, the unhappr But neither the story of Isidora, nor pledge of her unhappy love, ---tempts that of the young Spaniard Juan di her there, as never woman was tempt- Monduça, is so great a favourite with ed by man,--and is baffled as never us as that of the family of Walberg;" devil was baffled by the faith, the and it is therefore from the last that purity, the natural innocence of wo

we purpose to give a few extracts, by We do think that, taking all way of enabling such of our readers as things together, this tale of Immalee, have not read Montorio to see what or Isidora, which comes last in the Mr Maturin is capable of doing in his series, has been judiciously selected by best moments of inspiration. An old the Author to occupy that place of rich Spaniard, by name Guzman, honour in his procession of terrors. quarrels with his only sister, because But the chief beauty of this story she marries a German musician, a proconsists in things of which is almost testant, who has nothing but his ge

VOL. VIII.

ance.

[ocr errors]

man,

nius to recommend him. She goes promise of future strength, and infused intherefore to Germany with her huse to his parents' hearts that fond anxiety band, where his abilities raise him with which we mark the progress of a mild to the situation of Maestro di Capella but cloudy morning in spring, rejoicing in at the court of Saxony, and where, in fearing lest clouds may overshade them be

the inild and balmy glories of its dawn, but a humble, yet comfortable manner, fore noon. The daughters, Ines and Julia, she rears her children till the eldest of had all the loveliness of their colder climate them approaches the verge of man -the luxuriant ringlets of golden hair, the hood. Aboat that time the old rich large bright blue eyes, the snow-like whiteSpanish brother is taken very ill, and ness of their bosoms, and slender arms, and in his sickness and fear of death, he the rose-leaf tint and chiness of their sends for his sister to come to him, delicate cheeks, made them, as they attend. with her family, saying that he is sen

ed their parents with graceful and fond offi. sible he has treated her cruelly, and ciousness, resemble two young Hebes mihas already, by his Will, endeavoured nistering cups, which their touch alone was

enough to turn into nectar. to make the best reparation in his • * The spirits of these young persons had power.

been early depressed by the difficulties in Walberg, his wife, and his children, which their parents were involved ; and even therefore leave Dresden, and come to in childhood they had acquired the timid Spain ; but, on reaching the place of tread, the whispered tone, the anxious and the brother's residence, they find he inquiring look, that the constant sense of has already recovered from his illness, children, and which it is the most exquisite

domestic distress painfully teaches even to and, although determined to provide pain to a parent to witness. But now there abundantly for all their wants, will

was nothing to restrain their young hearts, see no one of the family unless they

-that stranger, a smile, fled back rejoicing become reconciled to the Catholic to the lovely home of their lips,--and the Church. Ines, the wife of Walberg, timidity of their former habits only lent a is sorely cast down on finding that the grateful shade to the brilliant exuberance of estrangement of her brother is thus to youthful happiness. Just opposite this piccontinue: yet affluence is made to ture, whose hues were so bright, and whose surround them, and she enjoys much shades were so tender, were seated the fihappiness with her husband and her gures of the aged grandfather and grandmo

ther. The contrast was very strong ; there children. Walberg's old father and

was no connecting link, no graduated medimother, too, who had been invited to um,-you passed at once from the first and join them on the first news of their fairest flowers of spring, to the withered and prosperity, leave Germany and come to rootless barrenness of winter. live with them at Toledo. The follow “ These very aged persons, however, had ing is a picture of the happy group on something in their looks to sooth the eye, the evening of that day of their union. and Teniers or. Wouverman would perhaps

have valued their figures and costume far " I saw them,' said the stranger, inter- beyond those of their young and lovely rupting himself,— I saw them on the grandchildren. They were stiffy and evening of that day of union, and a painter, quaintly habited in their German garb who wished to embody the image of domes the old man in his doublet and cap, and tic felicity in a group of living figures, the old woman in her ruff, stomacher, and need have gone no further than the mansion head-gear resembling a skull-cap, with of Walberg. He and his wife were seated long depending pinners, through which a at the head of the table, smiling on their few white, but very long hairs, appeared children, and seeing them smile in return, on her wrinkled cheeks ; but on the coun. without the intervention of one anxious tenances of both there was a gleam of joy, thought,-one present harassing of petty dif- like the cold smile of a setting sun on a ficulty, or heavy presage of future mis- wintry landscape. They did not distinctly chance, one fear of the morrow, or aching hear the kind importunities of their son remembrance of the past. Their children and daughter, to partake more amply of formed indeed a groupe on which the eye the most plentiful meal they had ever witof painter or of parent, the gaze of taste or nessed in their frugal lives,—but they of affection, might have hung with equal bowed and smiled with that thankfulness delight. Everhard their eldest son, now which is at once wounding and grateful sixteen, possessed too much beauty for his to the hearts of affectionate children.sex, and his delicate and brilliant com. They smiled also at the beauty of Everplexion, his slender and exquisitely mould. hard and their elder grandchildren,ed form, and the modulation of his tender the wild pranks of Maurice, who was as and tremulous voice, inspired that mingled wild in the hour of trouble as in the hour interest, with which we watch, in youth, of prosperity ;-and, finally, they smiled at over the strife of present debility with the all that was said, though they did not hear

1

at

decay

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

66

kiss me

ide half of it, and at all they saw, though they ly rose and saluted each other with that af

could enjoy very little and that smile of fection which has not its root in earth, and

age, that placid submission to the pleasures whose blossoms, however diminutive and u of the young, mingled with undoubted colourless to the eye of man in this wretch

anticipations of a more pure and perfect fe. ed soil, shall yet bear glorious fruit in the a licity, gave an almost heavenly expression garden of God. It was a lovely sight to

to features, that would otherwise have behold the young people assisting their ale borne only the withering

look of debility and aged relatives to arise from their knees,

and it was a lovelier hearing, to listen to the “'Some circumstances occurred during happy good-nights exchanged among the

this family feast, which were sufficiently parting family. The wife of Walberg was a characteristic of the partakers. Walberg most assiduous in preparing the comforts

(himself a very temperate man) pressed his of her husband's parents, and Walberg father repeatedly to take more wine than he yielded to her with that proud gratitude, was accustomed to,—the old man gently that feels more exultation in a benefit con

declined it. The son still pressed it heart. ferred by those we love, than if we cona PesE fully, and the old man complied with a wish ferred it ourselves. He loved his parents, Etica to gratify his son, not himself.

but he was proud of his wife loving them * The younger children, too, caressed because they were his. To the repeated their grandmother with the boisterous offers of his children to assist or attend

fondness of children. Their mother re their ancient relatives, he answered, “ No, t'i proached them. “ Nay, let be,” said the dear children, your mother will do better,

gentle old woman. They trouble you, -- your mother always does best.” As he Smother,” said the wife Walberg.-- spoke, his children, according to a custom

“ They cannot trouble me long," said the now forgot, kneeled before him to ask his grandmother, with an emphatic smile. blessing. His hand, tremulous with affec* Father," said Walberg, “is not Everhard tion, rested first on the curling locks of grown very tall ?”

“ The last time I saw the darling Everhard, whose head towered him," said the grandfather, “ I stooped to proudly above those of his kneeling sisters, kiss him; now I think he must stoop to and of Maurice, who, with the irrepressible

” And, at the word, Everhard and venial levity of joyous childhood, darted like an arrow into the trembling laughed as he knelt. « God bless you !" arms that were opened to receive him, and said Walbergą" God bless you all; and his red and hairless lips were pressed to the may he make you as good as your mother, snowy beard of his grandfather. “ Cling and as happy as your father is this night ;' there, my child,” said the exulting father. and as he spoke, the happy father turned “God grant your kiss may never be ap- aside and wept.” plied to lips less pure.” They never shall, my father!” said the susceptible boy, blush

But their sky is soon overcast. The ing at his own emotions ; " I never wish old brother dies at length, and, after to press any lips but those that will bless living for several years in all the enme like those of my grandfather. "And joyments of luxury, it is not difficult do you wish,” said the old man jocularly, to imagine the misery into which the

o that the blessing should always issue whole family is thrown when it is est from lips as rough and hoary as mine?" made known that a new Will had

Everhard stood blushing behind the old been executed by the old man on his man's chair at this question, and Walberg, who heard the clock strike the hour at which death-bed, by which the whole of his he had been always accustomed, in prospe- fortune is left to the church. Nothing rity or adversity, to summon his family can be finer than the way in which

prayer, made a signal which his children Maturin has conceived the effects of well understood, and which was communi- this intelligence on all the different cated in whispers to their aged relative members of the household—the stu" Thank God," said the aged grandmother pified insensibility of the old people to the young whisperer, and as she spoke, the happy ignorance of the youngshe sunk on her knees. Her grandchildren assisted her. “ Thank God," echoed the

the despair of Walberg himself

and old man, bending his stiffened knees, and the quiet gentle resignation of his doffing his cap_" Thank God for this wife. Some hopes are held out that

shadow of a great rock in a weary land !"" it may be possible to prove unfair --and he knelt, while Walberg, after read- dealing on the part of the old man's ing a chapter or two from a German Bible confessors--and a lawsuit is begun which he held in his hands, pronounced an which, as might have been expected, extempore prayer, imploring God to fill is at last decided by the Spanish blessings they enjoyed, and to enable them judges in favour of the church, and

Their 11 so to pass through things temporal, that against the heretical family. they might not finally lose the things eter- misery then advances rapidly, and at nal” At the close of the prayer, the fami, length is such, that not a few readers,

66

to

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »