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Reformation, we still are assured that Burghley would have felt a pang on his death-bed, had he foreseen that a day would arrive in England, when his name would be degraded into the shibboleth of a party.
ART. VIII.- Tour in England, Ireland, and France, in the Years 1828
and 1829; with Remarks on the Manners and Customs of the Inhabitants, and Anecdotes of distinguished Public Characters. Series of Letters. By a German Prince. In two Volumes 8vo. London :
Effingham Wilson, 1832. These letters are reported on the Continent, where they were originally published, to be the productions of Prince PücklerMuskau, a subject of Prussia, who is said to have travelled in England and Ireland, about the period at which they are dated. It is very certain that a foreigner under that title, visited Ireland at the time in question ; but whether he was a German prince, or had any claim to the title which he assumed, we have no means of judging. The translator thinks that, as the Prince PücklerMuskau has not declared himself the author, it would be unfair to fix the letters upon him: the German editor says, that the author is already numbered with the dead, although the Prince, we believe, is still living. We have no clue to these mysteries. It is not improbable, that they have been got up for the purpose of giving additional interest to the work ; we can have no doubt as to its foreign origin, and no person can read it without being convinced that the author is a German, exceedingly well acquainted with the world, intelligent, good-humoured, and though at times given to spleen, more frequently pleased with enacting the part of the laughing philosopher. He has many singularities about him, which are highly amusing. He is a bold and comprehensive thinker, and entertains views of his own upon
every subject. Desirous of seeing the machinery of society in these kingdoms, he ascends and descends the gamut of our community with the facility of a master. He seems equally at home in the drawing-room of the nobleman, and the cabin of the peasant.
Blessed with the rare faculty of seeing generally only the sunny side of things, he enjoys it with a freshness of feeling, a festive delight, which it is difficult sometimes not to envy. “The gifts of God,' he very truly remarks, ' are infinite; and we might almost say, we are inexcusable if we are not happy. How often, indeed, we have it in our power to be so, every one may see, who looks back at his past life ;—he cannot escape the conviction, that he might easily have turned almost every evil to good. We are the makers of our own destiny. Let every one only do his utmost to be of good courage, and to regard the outward things of this world, without exception, as of light moment,-for the things of this world are verily light and unimportant, in good as in evil. There is no better weapon against un
VOL. III. NO IV.
happiness; only we must not on that account cross our hands, and do nothing. This is the summary of our author's philosophy in the conduct of life. It is the true recipe for a wise happiness, and uniform cheerfulness, and we must do him the justice to say, that his practice seems very seldom to have deviated from this admirable precept, which he inculcates subsequently in still more forcible terms.
Both pious hope,' he observes,' and energetic action consist perfectly well together, and indeed mutually aid each other. No man can doubt that the former greatly lightens the latter : for if that sort of piety which is common in the world, -that confident expectation of earthly and peculiar protection from above, that supplication for good against evil,-is merely a self-delusion, still it is a beneficent one, and perhaps grounded in our very nature, subject as we are to so many illusions, which, when they take fast hold on our minds, become to us individual truth. It appears that our nature has the power of creating to itself a factitious reality, as a sort of auxiliary support, where reality itself is unattainable. Thus a pious confidence in special interpositions, though but a form of superstition, gives courage. A man who goes into battle with a talisman which he believes renders him invulnerable, will see bullets rain around him with indifference. But still more powerful and exalting is the enthusiasm excited by ideas which place us above the external world.'—vol. i. pp. 129, 130.
This passage will make the reader better acquainted with the author's mental constitution, than twenty pages of description. To this he adds a romantic and poetical temperament, which enables him to derive peculiar enjoyment from natural scenery, and to dramatize, as it were, the varieties of human character with which he meets in the world. Every object, however trifling in the eyes of ordinary observers, every person, however insignificant in his own esteem, has for this German traveller a fund of the most lively interest. He more than once calls himself a misanthropist. We never knew an individual less so, for, on the contrary, he seems uniformly to entertain the strongest affection towards his fellow beings, and to sympathise in their concerns.
We pass over his journey through Wales, as this portion of his work consists of little more than sketches of scenery, with which most of our readers are probably acquainted, and join the prince, as we suppose we must call him, upon his landing in the neighbourhood of Dublin. How truly does he at once catch the peculiarities of that beautiful, yet wretched city; its broad straight streets, adorned with magnificent palaces, yet bearing the marks of poverty in their dirty appearance; the general raggedness of its lower classes, the want of English elegance in its higher; the brilliant uniform of regimental officers, never seen, except on duty in the streets of London ; the neglected air of its environs ; its large, but silent and deserted inns; its tasteless monuments, and general second-handed look, as compared with the country which he had
just quitted. After visiting the college, the park, and the other public places in and near Dublin, he gives a characteristic account of a journey which he made to the “ three rocks,” whence he had a commanding view of the capital, and the country adjacent to it. In his usual way of estimating things, he found this scene still more animated, by a sweet looking' young woman, whom he found on the rocky solitude, platting straw, and in whom he recognized a beautiful figure, though her whole clothing consisted of a very coarse straw hat, and two or three rags of sackcloth, suspended under the breast by a piece of cord. Nevertheless, though the conversation of this girl was sportive and witty, unembarrassed, and far from being prudish, she was a pattern of virtue; and the author justly remarks, that the women of her class in Ireland, are, almost universally, extremely chaste, and still more disinterested. They are seldom tempted, at all events, by money, to abandon the path of duty.
A little incident which occurred to our prince in the streets of Dublin, may be taken as an index to the whole volume of jobbing, which has for centuries been familiar to that miserable country. He happened to meet a London dandy' of his acquaintance, who, after laughing heartily at their encountering each other in such a horrid place,' and ridiculing its society in general, told him, that through the influence of his family, he had just obtained an official situation there, that brought him in 2,0001. a-year, without imposing upon him any other business, than that of compelling him to pass a part of the year . pro forma’ in that "dreadful abode. Who will wonder after this, at this foreigner's honest remark, that
the pitcher will not always go to the well without breaking,' and that Ireland 'appears to experience, in almost every instance, a step-mother's care, contributing largely to the power and splendour of the English nobility, without obtaining in return, the smallest portion of those advantages, of which England receives so much.'
Among the “lions,” or rather, perhaps we should say, the “lionesses” of Dublin, the author could not of course have failed to visit Lady Morgan, of whom he gives a piquant, and, as we should imagine, a very faithful sketch. He was much disappointed in that personage. He found her ' a little frivolous lively woman, apparently between thirty and forty, neither pretty nor'ugly, but by no means disposed to resign all claim to the former, and with really fine and expressive eyes.' He remarks, as every body who sees her must do, upon her affectation of the manners of fashionable life, her incessant allusions to her fashionable acquaintances, her ultra political liberalism, and her religious infidelity. The doctrines of Helvetius and Condillac, are certainly not rendered more amiable when they fall from the lips of a woman. A female atheist is of all things the most intolerable.
From Dublin, the prince proceeded to visit in detail, the beautiful and celebrated scenery of the county of Wicklow; his sketches
of which are, however, rather tiresome from their number, as well as their indistinctness. For although an ardent lover of nature, he has not the talent and the patience, or if he has, he does not frequently shew them, for conveying to the reader a clear representation of the natural objects which have most attracted his admiration. He is much more happy in his pictures of moving scenes, of which we may select as a specimen, his graphic picture of Donny-Brook fair.
Nothing, indeed, can be more national! The poverty, the dirt, and the wild tumult, were as great as the glee and merriment with which the cheapest pleasures were enjoyed. I saw things eaten and drunk with delight, which forced me to turn my head quickly away, to remain master of my disgust. Heat and dust, crowd and stench, (“il faut le dire,”) made it impossible to stay long: but these did not annoy the natives. There were many hundred tents, all ragged like the people, and adorned with tawdry rags instead of flags; many contented themselves with a cross or a hoop; one had hoisted a dead and half-putrid cat as a sign; the lowest sort of rope-dancers and posture-masters exercised their toilsome vocation on stages of planks, and dressed in shabby finery, dancing and grimacing in the dreadful heat till they were completely exhausted. A third part of the public lay, or rather rolled about, drunk; others ate, screamed, shouted, and fought. The women rode about, sitting iwo and three upon an ass, pushed iheir way through the crowd, smoked with great delight, and coquetted with their sweethearts. The most ridiculous group was one which I should have thought indigenous only to Rio de la Plata; two beggars were seated on a horse, who, by his wretched plight, seemed to supplicate for them ; they had no saddle, and a piece of twine served for reins.
• As I left the fair, a pair of lovers, excessively drunk, took the same road. It was a rich treat to watch their behaviour. Both were horribly ugly, but treated each other with the greatest tenderness, and the most delicate attention. The lover, especially, displayed a sort of chivalrous politeness. Nothing could be more gallant, and, at the same time, more respectful, than his repeated efforts to preserve his fair one from falling, although he had no little difficulty in preserving his own balance. From his ingratiating demeanour, and her delightful smiles, I could also perceive that he was using every endeavour to entertain her agreeably; and that her answers, notwithstanding her“ exalté” state, were given with a coquetry and an air of affectionate intimacy, which would have been exquisitely becoming and attractive in a pretty woman.
• My reverence for truth compels me to add, that not the slightest taste of English brutality could be perceived ; they were more like-French people, though their gaiety was mingled with more humour, and more genuine good nature; both of which are national traits of the Irish, and are always doubled by potheen (the best sort of whiskey illicitly distilled.) —vol. i. pp. 203—205.
If this picture be in some respects vulgar, it is, nevertheless, a faithful one ; its coarseness may be overlooked on account of its truth, an apology which has been generally found sufficient on behalf of the paintings of the Dutch school. We must select as another example of the writer's graphic powers, his sketch of inn life, as it is generally exhibited after the English fashion.
' August 31st.--I found this country inn so pleasant, that I resolved to prolong my stay over to-day, Sunday. Living at inns affords one a good opportunity of observing the middle classes. Every man here shows himself as he is, and seems to feel himself alone. I have already told you that English travellers, of this class, (I include all the inhabitants of the three kingdoms, who have English manners and habits), usually pass their time, when out of doors, in a common room, called the coffee room. In the evening, this coffee room is lighted with lamps; candles are carried, if called for, to the gentlemen who sit at the separate little tables. It has often surprised me, that in a country in which luxury and refinement, on all the wants of life, are so universal, even in the best provincial inns, (and often in London,) taliow candles are commonly used. Wax candles are an unwonted luxury; and, if you ask for them, you are treated with redoubled civility, but your bills are also doubled throughout.
• It is very diverting to observe the perfect uniformity with which all behave, as if machines out of one workshop. This is particularly observable in their eating : though placed at separate tables, and no individual taking the slightest notice of any other, they all seem to have exactly the same usages, exactly the same gastronomic tastes. Nobody eats soup, which, unless bespoken before hand, is not to be had. (This is the reason, bythe-bye, for which my old Saxon servant left me. He declared that he could not exist any longer in such a state of barbarism—without soup !) a large joint of roast meat is commonly carried from one to another, and each cuts off what he likes. This is accompanied by potatoes or other vegetables, boiled in water; and a “plat de ménage,” filled with sauces, is placed on every table ; beer is poured out, and there, in a common way, ends the dinner,
But now follows the second stage:-the table cloth is removed ; clean plate and knife and fork laid ; wine and a wine glass, and a few miserable apples or pears, with stony ship-biscuits, are brought; and now the diner seems to begin to enjoy tranquillity and comfort. His countenance assumes an expression of satisfaction; apparently sunk in profound meditation, leaning back in his chair, and looking fixedly straight before him, he suffers a sip of wine to glide down his throat from time to time, only breaking the death-like silence by now and then laboriously craunching his rocky biscuits.
• When the wine is finished, follows stage the third—that of digestion. All motion now ceases: his appetite being satiated, he falls into a sort of magnetic sleep, only distinguishable from the natural by the open eyes. After this has lasted for half an hour, or an hour, all at once it ceases; he cries out, as if under the influence of some sudden possession, “Waiter, my slippers,” and, seizing a candle, walks off gravely to his chamber to meet his slippers and repose.
This farce, acted by five or six men at once, has often amused me more than a puppet-show: and I must add, that, with the exception of the incident of the slippers, pretty nearly the same scene is represented in the first clubs of the metropolis. I scarcely ever saw an Englishman read at dinner; I am not sure that they don't think it an act of indecorum-perhaps of impiety-like singing and dancing on a Sunday, for instance. Perhaps, however, it is only a rule of dialetics, converted by time into a law, which no vivacity of temper can break through.