« PreviousContinue »
get on ?”
cup, colored all the flowers with their various dyes. Now we have “good” children's books, where the school-master is the ogre, and the school-room the dungeon.
Even pleasant Miss Mitford sometimes forgets the village name of a wild flower, and immersed in “calyx," and “stamen,” and “ petal,” frequently mars the effect of many a pretty passage in her sweetest of English stories with her over-great knowledge.
“ Undine” is almost the only modern Fairy Tale; it takes us away from the world altogether, and we are at once in a paradise of beauty, and shadow, and dream. As to Peter Schlegmel, he is tiresome, to say the best of it. At any rate we cannot exclaim with the Persian—“ May your shadow never be less." We have no sympathy with so difficult a moral.
To return to the maternal injunction—“ Never read a novel.” How often is this held to be a good and safe rule. We once overheard a conversation, which ran something in this way:
“ Matilda !" why will you continue reading that foolish novel (" Ernest Maltravers ” by the way) “ Why don't you study your Mnemonics ?” How does Dr. Scramble's Sermon
“ I cannot get beyond the fifth head, Mamma, and indeed I am afraid I do not understand the “ Crook” system. I have covered the ceiling, the floor, and all the walls with the first part, and I believe the “ application” is in the china cupboard. As for the text, I have missed it altogether, if it has not got into one of the pickle-jars.”
“Well, my dear, if you cannot manage the Mnemonics, do something else useful ; there, put that blue-bottle in the air. pump, or give the cat an electrical shock, Matilda, it may do the poor thing good; or if you want something quieter, try a little Algebra, a Greek verb-any trifle in short-only improve yourself, and if you would, never read a novel, my child. "
We repeat we are tired of the merely useful, and wish to prove that the useful and pleasant may be advantageously blended. It is easier to teach the important principle of Mutual Reliance and Protection—the first grand rule of morality, by a tale like the Vicar of Wakefield than by the gravest treatise ever penned; easier to learn what a “right line” means by seeing others act well in one than by any metaphysical Euclid whatever; easier to raise the mind through the feelings, than through the understanding—and where, as in the best novels, this is united, how much more likely are the young to emulate the nobility of a Warwick or the virtues of a Henri Quatre than by poring over the dull pages of some tedious history. We do not say this of Hume however—his style is charming enough for fiction—and we believe, very often, clothes fiction.
If we are the better for having our hearts softened, our minds refined, there is utility in Fiction. We will venture to say “ Old Scroodge” made many a merry Christmas after the “ Carol” came out, whilst D’Israeli has done something for the politics of the drawing-room; and we are free to confess how much we owe to the enthusiasm and purity of De'L'orme and Darnley.
Fiction ? what is it that so often makes the memory of our home happy but some old associations of books and ballads ;some nursery song—some child's book-the old Volume of Miss Edgeworth set such store by, and where even now you may be sure to find the old lady's long used spectacles-or Sterne's Tristam Shandy, reserved for our reverend uncle's sole perusal. Fiction? who does not believe in Don Quixote? who more alive than he and honest Sancho. Fiction ! that which makes up so much of our thought soon comes to look very
like Truth. No real reader of Scott, or Bulwer, or Dickens, but peoples hearth and home with the creations of the potent MagiciansLucy Ashton—Ione-Little Nell, are as much before us now as when they first charmed us.
If it be useless to make us feel and recognize the common infirmities and charities of our nature, then is Fiction useless. But if we would teach ourselves a right conduct in the highways of life, if we would see the world “on its brighter side,” be ever ready with a smile of encouragement, know how to find a tear for the sorrows—a hand for the necessities of others, we say—seek out these masters of the passions—men, who in their so-called works of imagination, have with the wand of their Genius found the gushing truths of the heart--and thus occupied, we prophecy you will soon see the Utility of Fiction.
FRANK. NATURE'S LOVE LETTER.
TRE world has but one language for the heart,
I love thee!
RALEIGH'S LAST LETTER.
Tue character of Sir Walter Raleigh is of so varied a nature and possesses so many points of attraction, that the student very generally loses sight of his deeper and nobler qualities, in his admiration of the gallantry, the courtesy, the generosity, which so eminently marked this great man.
It is to these, his external qualities, that the courtier owed his popularity, whilst his misfortunes were in a great measure the result of his higher and hidden energies--the grace of his person, the magic of his eloquence, the dignity of his address : were the spells which alike wound him round the hearts of the people, and the charms that ensured him the favor of the sovereign.
Although we are far from believing that Elizabeth was blind to the enthusiasm of his nature—so ready a weapon in her councils—yet it is evident that she never sounded the depths of his mind. His voice, his air, his passionate fervour rivetted the eyes of the virgin queen, but to her, the subtlety of Cecil, the almost regal demeanour of Leicester, the respectful adoration of Essex, the doughty loyalty of Sussex: were far more attractive than the chivalrous patriotism of the high-souled Raleigh.
His mind was indeed of no common order. With him the wonders of earth and the dispensations of heaven were alike welcome; his discoveries at sea, his adventures abroad, his attacks on the colonies of Spain : were all arenas of glory to him—but he was infinitely happier by his own fire-side, in recalling the spirits of the great in the history of his country
nay, was even more contented in the gloom of his ill-deserved prison, with the volume of genius or the book of life before him : than in the most animating successes of the battle-field.
The event which clouded his prosperity and destroyed his influence with the queen-his marriage with Elizabeth Thrormorton—was the one upon which he most prided himself; and justly, too—for if ever woman was created the companion, the solace of man—if ever wife was deemed the dearest thing of earth to which earth clinys, that woman was his wife. Not merely in the smiles of the court did her smiles make a world of sunshine to her Raleigh ; not merely when the destruction of the Armada made her husband's name glorious; not merely when his successes and his discoveries on the ocean made his presence longed for at the palace ; did she interweave her best affections with the lord of her heart. It was in the hour of adversity she became his dearest companion, his " ministering angel;" and when the gloomy walls of the accursed tower held all her empire of love, how proudly she owned her sovereignty. Not even before the feet of her baughty mistress, in her prayerful entreaties for her dear Walter's life, did she so eminently shine forth in all the majesty of feminine excellence, as when she guided his counsels in the dungeon, and nerved his mind to the trials of the scaffold; where, in his manly fortitude, his noble self-reliance, the people, who mingled their tears with his triumph, saw how much the patriot was indebted to the
Were there no other language, but that of simple, honest affection, what a world of poetry would remain to us in the universe of love! You
he excited to sorrow for his fate by recalling the varied incidents of his attractive life: you may mourn over the ruins of his chapel at his native village : you may weep over the fatal result of his ill-starred patriotism : you may glow over his successes in the field or on the wave- your lip may curl with scorn at the miserable jealousy of Elizabeth : your eye may kindle with wrath at the pitiful tyranny of James—but how will your sympathies be so awakened as by reading his last, simple, touching letter to his wife.
“You receive, my dear wife, my last words, in these my last lines. My love, I send you that you may keep it when I am dead, and my counsel, that you may remember it when I
I would not with my will present you with sorrows, dear Bess—let them go to the grave with me and be
am no more.
buried in the dust—and seeing that it is not the will of God that I should see you any more, bear my destruction patiently, and with a heart like yourself.
First, I send you all the thanks which my heart can conceive, or my words
express your many travels and cares for me, which, though they have not taken effect as you wished, yet my debt to you is not the less, but pay it I never shall in this world.
Secondly, I beseech you, for the love you bear me living, that you do not hide yourself many days, but by your travels seek to help my miserable fortunes and the right of your poor child—your mourning cannot avail me that am dust-for I am no more yours nor you mine-death hath cut us asunder, and God hath divided me from the world and you from me.
I cannot write much. God knows ! how hardly I steal this time when all sleep. Beg my dead body which, when living, was denied you, and lay it by our father and mother- I can say no more-time and death call me away—the everlasting God, the powerful, infinite and inscrutable God, who is goodness itself, the true light and life, keep you and yours, and have mercy upon me, and forgive my persecutors and false accusers, and send us to meet in his glorious kingdom.
My dear wife_farewell! Bless my boy-pray for me, and let the true God hold
both in his arms.
Thus a few fond words convey more poetry to the heart than a whole world of verse.
We know not any man's history more romantic in its commencement, or more touching in its close than that of Raleighfrom the first dawn of his fortunes when he threw his cloak before the foot of royalty, throughout his brilliant rise and long imprisonment, to the hour when royalty rejoiced in his merciless martyrdom.
Whether the recital of his eloquent speeches, the perusal of his vigorous and original poetry, or the narration of his quaint, yet profound “history of the world engage our attention, all will equally impress us with admiration of his talent, with wonder at his achievements, with sympathy in his misfortunes, and with pity at his fall.