Page images

nore delight from some of the native Caledorian music, than from the most elaborate com positions of Handel, Mozart, Haydn, &c. but, or heaven's sake, do not tell this to any of your exquisite German connoisseurs; they would look on me with the greatest contempt, and set me down as past redemption!

The delicacy, grace and expression of the Scotch pastoral airs, the energy and boldness of those of a martial kind, the sportiveness and vivacity of the airs of their humorous songs, and the bounding gayety of their reels, render their music truly delightful to any one whose ear is sensible to the concord of sweet sounds”-To be sure, these melodies have not received the fine polish of elaborate compositions, and the musical virtuoso will think them inferior to the airs composed by the great masters of the art, in which the very soul of passion is embodied in forms of the utmost symmetry and grace.


Benign ceruleans of the second sex!

I'll swear
Tbat taste is gone, that fame is but a lottery,
Drawn by the blue-coat misses of a coterie.

Don Juan.

Edinburgh, February 12, 1819. . THE “ blue stocking gentry” are the female pedants of Scotch society. Instead of talking

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

on those subjects which it is so becoming and graceful in a woman to know, they prose away on mineralogy, politics, borough reform, and the corn-bill: “ they are certainly the very flour of the sex,” says Peter, in his excellent “ Leto ters to his Kinsfolk.” Mrs. Kyndear is at the head of the Femmes Suvantes of this order: she bores me to death with learned harangues about geology, pebbles, and the botanical names of plants, which she ecorche's in the most ridiculous manner. She knows more about Dr. Hope's laboratory, than what is going on in her own family, and can analyze a fossil, although she cannot tell the component parts of a pudding!

Peter, in his amusing work above quoted, draws a parallel between the blue stockings of Edinburgh and Paris, very much to the advan. tage of the latter. “In France, (says he,) the genuine power and authority which the women exert, and have long exerted, in swaying the course of public opinion in regard to a vast variety of subjects, are sufficient, were there nothing more, to make one excuse a great deal of their petulance and presumption. And then there is a light graceful ease about the manner of their trespasses, which would carry off the indignation of Diogenes himself. How is it possible to feel any serious displeasure against a pretty creature that comes tripping up to you with a fan in her hand, and seems quite indif. *ferent whether you ask her to dance a quad.

lle with you, or sit down by her side, and iscuss the merits of the last roman?

A taste for the physical sciences has become uite general in this country, and has entirely sperceded the love of elegant classical literaire Every one must needs be a chemist, bo. inist, and have his collection of minerals, ried plants, snakes preserved in brandy, and skins of ill-shaped fishes.?"* On almost every Tantle piece there are variously coloured fosils, &c. which recal to my memory Gimcrack's rill, in the Tatler. The conversation in the nost instructive societies, is more remarkable or its metaphysical depth, than its elegance or hetorical ornament. The Latin and Greek anguages are not only neglected, but despised, ven by professional learned men; they call the cquirement of classical knowledge, wasting ime upon mere words; and, if you venture to jut the treasures of antiquity in competition vith their metaphysical stuff, they will answer you with a grin of incorrigible self complaceny, or work up their features into the increduus odi. Talk to them of the advantage there 's in being able to“ rifle the sweets and taste

* I have frequently compared the understandings of such men, says Goldsmith) to their own glasses. Their field of vision is too contracted to take in the whole of any but minute objects; they view all nature bit by bit; now the proboscis, now the antennæ, low the pinoæ of a flea! Thus they proceed, laborious in triles constant in experiment, without one single abstraction, till, it last, their ideas, ever employed upon minute things, contract the size of the diminutive object, and a single mite shall fill their whole mind's capacity.

the choicest fruits” of the Augustan age; they will say that the time spent in learning the dead languages, would be better employed in acquiring knowledge of more immediate utility-But it would not be prudent to reason with a Scotchman on a subject about which he has made up his mind; if you tread upon the hem of that garment of importance in which he envelops his ignorance, you will make him your enemy for ever. It is indeed too provoking for ordinary patience, to hear a money-making hard-featured Goth, presuming to talk with contempt of those studies which have been cul. tivated by the most distinguished genuises of every age, and to quote to you the misfortunes of those excellent men who have dedicated themselves to learning, without reaping any pecuniary rewards. If merit is suffered to pine in want and obscurity, whose fault is it, but that of the monopolizers of wealth?

Talents, perhaps, are not so rare as is generally supposed; the flower may exist in many souls, and if touched by the beam of a happy fortune, might more frequently emerge from its bed of obscurity, and gladden the day with its rich, though unexpected luxuriance. On the other hand, for want of this enlivening ray, how often is the most promising genius “ nipt i' the bud?” Thus Chatterton and Gilbert were driven to despair and suicide, and Henry Kirke White suffered to struggle through difficulties, till his over-exertions brought him to an untimely end.

“ Hard is the scholar's lot, condemned to sail
Unpatronized 'midst life's tempestuous wave;
Clouds blind his sight, nor blows a friendly gale
To waft him to one port, -except the grave."


[ocr errors]

I would enlarge on this interesting subject, at it is treated with such eloquence in “Per's Letters,” which I send you, that I will efer any further remarks till í write our iend Dr. Caldwell on the state of the Uniersity of Edinburgh. : According to your desire, I will make a few vservations on the marriages in Scotland. here is very little ceremony observed on iese occasions; indeed, I have been assured Elat, among the lower classes, the sanction of de church is not required to unite the sexes! 1. man has only to own before witnesses that ich a woman is his wife, to have her declared ; such before the world—and a person who as got children by illicit commerce, can have iem all legitimated, and his mistress into the argain, if he only publicly avow that the said bonnie lassy" is his true and lawful wife.

* Swift wrote the following very powerful lines on the misfornes to which the votary of the Muses seems predestined:

"Not beggar's brat on bulk begot;
Not bastard of a pedlar Scot;
Not boy bro'ght up to cleaning shoes,
The spawn of Bridewell or the stews;
Not infants dropp'd,—the spurious pledges
Of gypsies littering under hedges;-
Are so disqualified by fate
To rise in church, or law, or state,
As he whom Phoebus in his ire
Has blasted with poetic fire!"

« PreviousContinue »