« ElőzőTovább »
qanger in arriving. M. de Jouy cites Montmorenci as belonging to the former class, and the top of the steeple at Strasburgh, to the other. We can well understand that Montmorenci
that place which you know, “ Is so famous for cherries and · Jean Jacques Rousseau.'" must be able to boast of multitudinous inscriptions of this kind; and, we doubt not, they bear ample marks of the flood of bad taste to which the very mention of the name of Rousseau so often gives rise. All the fadeurs of sentimentality are sure to overwhelm you when Rousseau chances to be talked of; and a pilgrimage to Montmorenci is precisely the opportunity of giving loose to them unboundedly. We confess that we have no great reverence for this place, or its former inhabitant. Whatever may be the beauty, and we admit that it is great, of Rousseau's writings which do not speak of himself, his Confessions have caused him to lose in his own person, all power of exciting in us any feelings but those of ridicule and disgust. The doings of which Montmorenci is the scene, are calculated, we think, only to excite laughter, except in the instances—and they are not few-in which they become odious and revolting.
That the persons who mount the steeple at Strasburgh should wish to leave their names there is, we think, very natural. When
When a man chooses to encounter a great danger from the sensible and satisfactory cause that he wishes to brag of it afterwards, he is never backward in giving every possible publicity to his achievement. To this we attribute the numberless inscriptions on the top of the Strasburgh steeple. It most undoubtedly comes into the class of “places at which there is danger in arriving," for it narrows so much towards the top, that the steps are passed to the outside, and from that point
the ascent is so difficult that it is not unfrequent for the climber to loose his hold, and fall the five hundred feet which are between him and the earth. In consequence of this, you are not allowed to break your neck without an especial permission from the Mayor; who, like the Dervise in a fairy tale, at first dissuades you from undertaking the perilous adventure, but, on being pressed, ends in giving you the talisman necessary to enable you to be dashed to pieces. Those who survive the ascent naturally wish to leave a proof of their having firmness of foot and hand, nicety of eye, and steadiness of brainwe bar all bad jokes on the latter quality—sufficient to carry them up a place from which the nerves of a maintop-man of a seventy-four would almost shrink; the more especially as if they were to delay the recording their exploit till they got safe down again, it might, very possibly, be never recorded at all. The weathercock on the steeple at Strasburgh, therefore, is an Album.
The first Album consisting of fragments, written by various persons in a blank book, was, we believe, that kept on the Alps, by the successors of St. Bruno. In this, every traveller at his departure was asked to inscribe his name, and he usually added to it a few sentences of devotion, of thankfulness to his hosts, or of admiration of the scene around him. This register was kept for several centuries, and in its pages will be found a large proportion of names which have earned themselves immortality. As M. de Jouy truly observes, minds of that stamp would have all their energies raised and ennobled in such a scene ; the ideas which then flowed from their pen would be those which the magnificence of nature always excites in a high soul; and we can well understand that the monks should call those
thoughts inspired which were produced in circumstances such as these. It is much to be lamented that this curious and most interesting register should have been lost. It is supposed that the monks carried it with them at the period of their emigration, but little is, in fact, known concerning it. There is a book of the same kind now again kept at the passage of the Alps, but how long must it be before it can possess the treasures which the accumulation of ages had given to the old one!
This, probably, gave rise to the modern Albums; and even these, frivolous as many of them are, we think possessed of great interest. Into some, selections from favourite authors are admitted ; and there requires little more than a tolerable portion of good taste to make them pleasing. But those which consist entirely of original contributions are the more ambitious class, and are indeed, curious. Drawings, music,-scraps of poetry, and fragments of prose,-sentiment, wit, and no wit at all,-all these come into the composition of an Album ; and all these are, of course, stamped with the various shades of intellect, from genius down to silliness and stupidity. “ On demande de l'esprit à tout le monde, et personne n'est assez impoli pour se dire en droit d'en refuser."
Albums are usually kept by women ; perhaps because they have the most power of raising contributions; or, it may be, from a book of this sort being so convenient a vehicle for complimentary prettinesses to the fair owner. The great ambition is to have names of literary eminence in their collections, and we have known writers of reputation undergo woeful persecution for “something for my Album.” A poet especially can never escape without the payment of his tribute-stanza; indeed, we now
seldom see a volume of poems published without its containing some piece which the superscription tells us was “ written in an Album.” A fashion has lately crept in to have to the Album, in addition to all possible magnificence of binding, a gilt lock. We conclude this must be to keep the gatherings of the fair Albumist from unlicensed eyes ; we trust it can be for no other reason.
The real interest, however, of an Album, is to look back to the collections of former years. There are not many things more touching than to turn to these tokens of by-gone social enjoyment. The outpourings of buoyant gaiety, the playful allusions to local and tempo rary jests, and the occasional touch of softer and more tender feeling, are preserved in these books, the fresh and living traces of fellowship long broken through, of re-unions which can never again be brought together. Death will have swept away some, and circumstance have divided us from many; but here we find the sentiments of those we have loved, or at least in whom we have felt interest, traced by their own hand, and bearing the impress of character which is always so apparent in unpremeditated composition. These relics, though perhaps, trifling in themselves, under these circumstances become inexpressibly dear to us, and we are inclined to bless the means by which we have gathered and preserved them.
Last in the list of Albums comes our own :-and it may not be improper to say, in this place, a few words concerning its nature and the manner in which it will be conducted. The plan which we have chosen, is one hitherto untried. It is to establish a Quarterly Journal, wholly excluding politics, which shall embrace original papers on all literary subjects, and a Review. The Re
view will include only works of interest ; but those which we do notice, will be discussed in the full manner usual in the Edinburgh and Quarterly Reviews.
We have been induced to devote a certain number of our pages to the head which we have called “ Scraps, original and selected,”—by the great interest which literary fragments and anecdotes excite. We have occasionally seen manuscript books of scraps collected in this miscellaneous manner, and they have invariably caused the greatest amusement to readers of all tastes. It is with this view that we have gathered our scrapsthey will, of course, be on all subjects, and from authors of all descriptions ; soine of them also will be original.
Our pages will be open to the discussion of all literary subjects, and of all matters connected with the Fine Arts.
We have, as we have said, totally excluded Politics. We have done this from the conviction, that a journal wholly literary is, at this time, much wanted and wished for. Complaints are daily made, that no literary disquisition is now free from a mingling of political feeling. Politics are in truth, in these days, mixed up with every thing. The bitter spirit of political ill-will infects and poisons our enjoyments of all kinds. It gives an acrimonious turn to all discussion—it aggravates an argument into a dispute, and a difference into a quarrel. Politics are the very apple of discord of this age--they generate every unamiable and rancorous feeling-envy, hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness. Formerly literature at least was free from their contagion, and we were accustomed to turn to it for relief from the bad taste and bad passions of politics; but now it is their chief vehicle--the principal means by which they are disseminated and discussed. Literary journals are fast