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The King's renewed endeavour to soothe this perturbed spirit, but aggravates her woe, and heightens the vehemence of her invocation :
0, that my tongue were in the thunder's mouth!
Which scorns a modern invocation. It sounds like the wild wailings of some “strange soul upon the Stygian banks staying for waftage.” A longing for dissolution, it has been observed, a fond familiarity with graves, and worms, and epitaphs, forms, as it were, the background, the bass accompaniment, of the character of Hamlet. It sounds at ever recurrent intervals, says Hartley Coleridge, like the slow knell of a pompous funeral, solemnising the mournful music and memorial pageantry: No sooner is he left alone, in the first scene after his entrance, than he wishes that “the Everlasting had not fixed His canon 'gainst self-slaughter;" in the last, in articulo mortis, he requests of his only friend,
If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart,
To tell my story. So little does the dying man love life, that he holds it the utmost sacrifice of friendship to endure it.- Milton depicts with awful emphasis the misery which wrings from fallen man, “miserable if happy,” an invocation of that which, he knew, should follow sin : “ O welcome hour whenever! Why delays His hand to execute what His decree fixed on this day?”
Why am I mock'd with death, and lengthen'd out
As in my mother's lap! Thus Adam to himself lamented loud through the still night. On the cold ground outstretched he lay, and oft cursed his creation,-death as oft accused of tardy execution :
-Why comes not Death,
Mends not her slowest pace for prayers or cries. And of all the sad visions presented before Adam by Michael the archangel, none would seem to have more pained his eyes and grieved his heart (as they come like shadows, so depart) than that wherein Despair tended the sick busiest from couch to couch, “and over them triumphant Death his dart shook, but delay'd to strike, though oft invoked with vows, as their chief, good, and final hope." Samson Agonistes, sightless and in bonds, waits until “ oft invocated death hasten the welcome end of
all his pains.
This one prayer yet remains, might I be heard,
Legend has made it the climax of the Wandering Jew's afflictions, that he cannot die. Romance has again and again made death's delay a sorrow's crown of sorrows. • Why did I not die?” cries Frankenstein, “More miserable than man ever was before, why did I not sink into forgetfulness and rest? Death snatches away many blooming children, the only hopes of their doting parents : how many brides and youthful lovers have been one day in the bloom of health and hope, and the next a prey
for worms and the decay of the tomb! Of what materials was I made, that I could thus resist so many shocks, which, like the turning of the wheel, continually renewed the torture ? .. Alas! life is obstinate, and clings closest where it is most hated.” The rich man in Barry Cornwall's song, to whose door a Stranger comes, and thence bears away one bright child after another, invokes in vain, for himself, the dreadful and nameless guest:
year there was none but the rich man left,
And sought through the land-in vain! It is part of poor forsaken Margaret's complaint, to Wordsworth's Wanderer, that her“ tears have flowed as if her body were not such as others are ; and she could never die.” And the Solitary, in the same poem, whose entire happiness Death blasted “in the short course of one undreaded year," --first, and suddenly, overthrowing two lovely children, and then their mother, still in her youth's prime,—what are we told of him, the lonesome and lost one, thus bereaved where he had garnered up his heart, where either he must live, or bear no life ?
With pain the regions of eternity. Sometimes, again, the invocation rises from one crazed with care, or crossed in hopeless love. Typical of these is Tennyson's Enone, wandering, forlorn of Paris, in that vale in Ida, lovelier than all the valleys of Ionian hills, and calling in wailing tones on mother Ida, many-fountain'd Ida, to hear her last confessions ; and invoking death that bri rest to the woe-worn-for her heart was breaking, and her eyes were dim, and she was all aweary of her life :
O death, death, death, thou ever-floating cloud,
Weigh heavy on my eyelids : let me die. Childhood even, has, before now, invoked the relief of a Power it knows nothing of. It is said that Alfieri thus invoked it, at five years old. "He was attacked with a dysentery, and so violently that recovery seemed hopeless. In the bitter suffering the poor little fellow experienced, he prayed for death as a relief from
his misery. He knew nothing of the
dread remedy he asked for; but a young brother had died some time before, and had become, he was told, an angel. He wished to follow in the footsteps of that good and happy brother.” A year or two later, a settled melancholy possessed the boy: "he had heard that a plant existed, called hemlock, which if eaten would cause death :"—this time he was not contented with mere passive invocation ; beneath his window was a flower-garden, and he culled flowers from it here and there, and ate them greedily, in the hope that hemlock might be among them, though it was not
A Napoleon complains, “ It is of no use ; death refuses to come to my aid,"-after his fruitless attempt at suicide, when the treaty of abdication has been signed at Fontainebleau. A William Cowper makes a like complaint-half thankfully, half bitterly-after repeated failures at selfdestruction, the foiled efforts of a mind distraught. He lived to be grateful that the effort was foiled, the invocation unheard, the appeal to Heaven's chancery dismissed, though with costs. And so have others lived to regard life with different eyes,-life, and therefore death. Novalis (Friedrich von Hardenberg) in 1796 longed for death; he had lost the young darling of his heart, and he now, in Tieck's words,“ lived only to his sorrow." Insomuch that Tieck surmises that this time, with its deep griefs, planted in Novalis the germ of death, if it was not, in any case, his appointed lot to be so soon snatched away from his friends. But in 1800 we see him full of gladness and hope, full of plans for a happy life, just when the death he had been longing for was to visit him, inopportunely now, uninvited and unwelcome now. “Four
years ago, says an English biographer, "Novalis had longed and looked for death, and it was not appointed him; now life is again rich and far-extending in his eyes, and its close is at hand.” So true is it that, at the worst, and when death seems least unwelcome, least undesirable (for we rightly refrain from saying most welcome, most desirable)-50 true it is that, in poor humanity's dread extremity, 'tis life, not death, for which we pant. So true was his answer, that, after listening to the first of the Two Voices, declared that “whatever crazy sorrow
saith, No life that breathes with human breath has ever truly longed for death.” A more living life is what we really want: our real craving is, even at the worst, not that we may cease to live, but that we may in a more real sense have life, and that we may have it more abundantly-ένα ζωην έχωμεν, και περισσον έχωμεν. There needs bat Calidore's voice and presence to make life, not death, desirable and dear to Pastorell, “ that now long season past had never joyaunce felt nor cheerful thought:" at his cheery voice and guardian presence she begins forthwith new
life to feele that long for deathe had sought. Worth pondering, in connexion with this subject, is the saying of a living French divine: “Ah, those know little of the human heart who say that men die more easily, in proportion as their life has been destitute of all happiness and joy. We wished to have tasted, at least onee in our lives, these seductive fruits of the earth; it would seem as if we were ashamed to enter on another life without having experienced anything but the ills of this.” Worth pondering, ton, are the words of Caroline Helstone, in “Shirley," when meditating on the life and works of kind,
earnest, unselfish, but quite solitary Miss Ainley, who owned to her young friend that there was, and ever had been, little enjoyment in this world for her: “She looks, I suppose, to the bliss of the world to come. So do nuns with their close cell,
their iron lamp, their robe straight as a shroud, their bed narrow as a coffin. She says, often, she has no fear of death-no dread of the grave: no more, doubtless, had Simeon Stylites, lifted up terrible on his wild column in the wilderness. , . . Poor Miss Ainley would cling closer to life, if life had more charms for her. God surely did not create us, and cause us to live, with the sole end of wishing always to die. I believe, in my heart, we were intended to prize life and enjoy it, so long as we retain it.” So Charlotte Bronté, we may be sure, believed in her heart, even in the dreary days when she was writing - Shirley," sick at heart, and bowed down with sorrow. It is but paraphrasing that true affirmation in Tennyson's Two Voices, already quoted by us in part, and well worth quoting again,
Whatever crazy sorrow saith,
THE FRENCH IN CANTON.
OUR gallant allies have recently been setting up a claim through the columns of their papers to the conquest of Canton, the heavy Englishmen having been, as usual, outstripped in the race. Far be it from us to attempt the solution of this moot point; but there is no doubt that some few
years back Dr. Yvan successfully invaded Canton, and carried off his spolia opima in the shape of very amusing anecdotes and incidents connected with the upper classes of the Celestial Empire. Dr. Yvan appears to have been sent into the world for the purpose of exemplifying the truth of the old adage, “ that travellers see strange things."
If our memory serve us aright, we have already had the pleasure of accompany; ing him to the Philippines, where the most extraordinary adventures befel him. Next, in partnership with M. Callery, he furnished us with much valuable information anent the Chinese insurrection, and now that popular attention is once more directed to our operations before Canton, he publishes, in the very nick of time, a really valuable, certainly most amusing, narrative of his doings in Canton, from which we propose to make some excerpts, throwing additional light on the manners and customs of a hitherto but little-known people.
It appears that, on the occasion of the French sending a mission to China, a very intimate friendship sprang up between the ambassador, M. de Lagrené, and the viceroy of the two Kuangs, Ki-in. When the
business was satisfactorily settled, the envoy accepted an invitation to visit Canton, and went up with his family, M. Callery being present as his interpreter, and Dr. Yvan as physician to the embassy. These two gentlemen having been sent on to make the necessary preparations, took passage on board a lorcha; and Dr. Yvan was much amused with an inscription before the mast where we should expect to find “No smoking abaft the funnel.” The Chinese, however, are far more practical : they write up, “ Take care of your purses ;” and Dr. Yvan, on looking round at the company, fully appreciated the justice of the warning. So soon as the vessel was got under weigh, which was not effected without various fireworks and noisy applications to a gong, Dr. Yvan found time to watch the amusements of the passengers, which may be summarily described as eating and gambling. The Chinese find an outlet for the latter propen-, sity in fighting quails, and even the domestic “cricket on the hearth.” Our
poor author caused M. Callery great amusement, by calling his attention to the patriarchal habits of the Chinese, who could not go to sea without such a reminiscence of home pleasures. Great was his disgust, then, when he saw two crickets taken out of their cages and set to fight. But his attention was soon called off by their arrival at Whampoa.
Whampoa is situated on the slope of a vast hillock, and European vessels have for many years cast anchor at its foot. It is, in some measure, a succursal to the port of Canton, which the greedy mandarins have granted to the barbarians. Some day this concession will be real, and I am convinced that England will, eventually, command at Whampoa, as she now does at Hong-Kong. The country We saw on either side while ascending the river is indescribably rich; as far as the eye can see you find only rice-fields, wondrously bordered by litchi and banana-trees, from the centre of which grow out clumps of trees, overshadowing pagodas, temples, countless hamlets and villages. This luxury of vegetation has nothing in common with the irregular fecundity of lands left to their own free growth. Nature here submissively obeys the laborious hand that governs it. On this soil, conquered by labour, nothing grows or vegetates save by the intervention of man ; the smallest tuft of herbage, the poorest tree only exist on condition that they satisfy the wants or promote the enjoyment of the master who grants them a place in the sunshine. * In the midst of these immense plains of verdure, solitary towers are observable, like the trunks of giant trees, struck by lightning, or stripped by winter inclemency. These octagonal monuments of five, seven, even nine stories, were built in the olden time to fix the spirits of the soil, and by the concentration of its mysterious fluids ensure the fertility of the country. The inhabitants had surely no occasion to resort to these cabalistic agencies; for they are in the possession of wondrous secrets to subjugate rebel nature and fertilise barren plains : the love of labour and comfort, the spirit of order and economy. The appearance of the river itself testifies to the laborious habits of this enterprising race; on the bank, women were seeking.in the mud of the Tchou-Kiang for shells, from which lime is manufactured, while the fishermen, aboard fragile barks, track the intelligent denizens of the flood, and drive them into the labyrinths they have formed with stakes in the bed of the river.
Before long, the lorcha arrived at Canton, and our travellers found themselves in the centre of one of the poorest suburbs of the floating town. They were surrounded by a forest of masts, bearing, in lieu of foliage, standards and flags of every hue, and seeming to grow naturally on the sterile and shifting soil. On closer observation, the peculiar features of this floating town came out in strong relief; the inhabitants were