stantial farmer, come into the town to buy and sell at the fair. “ But, as Monsieur was fond of curious things," he added, " he ought by all means to see the church of St. Radigonde, where the mark of our Saviour's foot was still to be seen;" and he set to tell me how it happened, and all about it. His story was somewhat after his own fashion, it is true, but it is not a whit the worse for that.

“ St. Radigonde," he said, “ was a Catholic, and the sister of Clovis, who was father to Henri Quatre."--" I thought that they were more distantly related,” said I ; but he stuck to his biography, and continued. “Well, Clovis was a very warlike monarch, as well as his son, and being engaged in a most tremendous battle, he sent to his sister to desire her prayers, which she very readily granted him, and while thus piously engaged, our Saviour appeared to her, and promised her the victory for her brother, leaving the mark of his foot in the marble. Clovis triumphed over his enemies, and so great was his gratitude for this manifest interference of Heaven in his favour, that he instantly became a sincere Catholic. For you know," said the narrator, “ that before that time he was a Protestant!"

I have heard,” replied I, “ that he was a Pagan."
“A Pagan or a Protestant,” said he," it is all the same thing."

I am as fond of seeing curiosities as any other grown child that ever existed, and as my companion was of the same mind as myself, the first thing we did the morning after our arrival at Poitiers, was to visit the ruins of the Amphitheatre, which are very little worth seeing, except to those who love ruins for their own sake. The arena is filled up with garden; and though the whole site is perfectly well marked out, but little of the walls exist at present. It was the son of the proprietor who showed us over the spot. He might be an idiot, or he might not, but he gave us no information, and kept grinning at us, and listening to our foreign dialect with evident marks of horror and astonishment. On our departure, be followed us into the street, and still kept staring in our faces, till my friend appealed to my better knowledge of France, to ascertain what he wanted. I answered, “A franc." My companion was incredulous, but I put my hand in my pocket, and drawing one out I begged the young gentleman to give it to “ La domestique." He took it immediately with great satisfaction, and whether the servant ever received it or no, is between her young master and herself.

We went to the church of St. Radigonde. It is really singular to observe how prone the human mind is to lend itself to every sort of absurdity. We are made of odd clay certainly, of so soft a temper in our youth, that it takes the first form it happens to find, and then har. dening there, would sooner break than quit it. There were a dozen old women at the church-door, who make a livelihood by fixing themselves in the suite of St. Radigonde, and we were instantly assailed by “ La bonne St. Radigonde prie pour vous," together with much counting of rosaries, and all the rest of Catholic begging. On entering the church we soon found an iron grating, with a fine figure of the Saint, dressed in a blue cloak, powdered with fleurs de lis, not at all unlike one of the figures placed at the head of a ship. There, too, was what they are pleased to call the foot-mark of our Saviour, covered with some bars of iron, and an inscription above to give authenticity to the falsehood. Round about it were scattered several pieces of money, from a sous to a franc, which my companion, in his fisherman's slang, termed groundbait. . .

Farther on is the tomb of the saint, with a silver lamp ever burning, the gift of Anne of Austria, in gratitude for the restored health of Louis XIV. after his illness at Metz, which the queen attributed entirely to St. Radigonde. In imitation of this royal credulity, multitudes of persons afflicted with various maladies have hung up at the shrine little effigies of the affected parts, modelled in wax, so that there are enough of waxen legs and arms to furnish the largest doll-shop in Europe. Passing through a low arch, we descended by a few steps to the sort of vault in which lies the stone coffin supposed to contain the body of St. Radigonde: this the pious take care to adorn with large tapers, much to the gratification of the priests and the wax-chandlers.

We were tired with our ramble, for besides the Amphitheatre and St. Radigonde, we had been to the cathedral and the promenades, and had walked for two or three miles along the road towards Paris, to see the beautiful rocky scenery which fanks the entrance to the town, and which we had passed the night before by moonlight. Finding that we could actually get no dinner at the inn, (they were all so occupied with the people of the fair,) we strolled out to a restaurateur's in the neighbourhood, before the door of whose house a woman, with a voice like a stentor, and a face like Baron G- , was singing the acts of our Sa. viour, in a sort of little booth covered all over with gospel pictures, which the man who played the accompaniment pointed out with his fiddlestick, one by one, as she came to them in her song. .

We went into the restaurant, and notwithstanding the multitude of the fair, met with a very good dinner, composed of Heaven knows what. It is of no use to inquire into these things, the best way is not to ask about them. .

After dinner we ordered a bottle of Sautern, which was marked in the carte at two francs ten sous. It was in a kind of despair that we did it, for the red wine was worth nothing. It came-people may talk of Hocheim, and Burgundy, and Hermitage, and all the wines that ever the Rhone or the Rbine produced, but never was their wine like that one bottle of Sautern. It poured out as clear as the stream of hope ere it has been muddied by disappointment, and it was as soft and generous as early joy ere youth finds out its fallacy. We drank it slowly, and lingered over the last glass as if we had a presentiment that we should never meet with any thing like it again. When it was done, quite done, we ordered another bottle. But no-it was not the same wine, We sent it away and had another-in vain;-and another-there was no more of it to be had.

It was like one of those days of pure unsophisticated happiness, that sometimes break in upon life, and leave nothing to be desired ; that come unexpectedly, last their own brief space, like things apart, and are remembered for ever.

LETTERS FROM NEW YORK, NO. II. Dear D,-Your objection is just ; I have proceeded a little too fast. I ought certainly to have given you some account of the first impression I received of New York; one never, indeed, contemplates a second view, even of the most striking sight, with the same degree of excitement as a first. However, to atone for the omission, I will now endeavour to give in this letter my general recollection of several visits to the city-a pleasing task, which reminds me of many kind friends and the obligations of much hospitality.

After leaving the — I had been put on shore at Utrecht, on Long Island, and approached New York by Brocklyn, from the heights of which the town, on the opposite side of the Sound, or East River, as it is commonly called, presents a gay and superb appearance, crowned with a coronal of many elegant steeples. Along the wharfs lofty stacks of vast warehouses bespeak high ideas of its mercantile opulence. The vessels which lined the quays, both in number and importance, surpassed my expectations.

The distant view of New York, almost free from smoke, is singularly bright and lively; in some respects it refreshed my recollection of the sea-bound cities of the Mediterranean, but with more variety of colour, and less ornamented architecture. The lower parts of the interior, next to the warehouses, resemble Liverpool ; but the boast of the city is Broadway, a street that, for extent and beauty, the Trongate of Glasgow, which it somewhat resembles in general effect, alone excels.. The style of the Trongate is, if the expression may be used, of a more massy and magnificent character, but there is a lightness in that of Broadway which most people will prefer. Those who compare the latter with Oxford-street, in London, do it injustice ; for, although the shops in Oxford-street display a richer show of merchandize, the buildings are neither of equal consequence or magnitude. Regent-street in London is of course always excepted from comparisons of this kind.

New York, however, is not distinguished for edificial ornaments. The only building in the whole town which claims or attracts any de. gree of admiration is the City Hall, a vast pile, constructed of coarse white marble, and resembling in the features of its architecture the Stadt-house of Amsterdam, in Holland; but if my recollection serves, it is lower by a floor. The interior is elegantly fitted up; the councilchamber, adorned with portraits of officers who have rendered service to the Republic, is a noble apartment; no corporation in Europe is, indeed, so splendidly accommodated as that of New York.

Some of the churches may be entitled to the appellation of handsome ; but a defect in the proportions of those which exhibit porticoes is destructive of the dignity they ought, in propriety, to have possessed. The pillars are too far apart; and I think, in some instances, also too slender.

The portico of the Bowery Theatre is immeasurably the finest morçeau of architecture in the city. It resembles that of Covent-Garden, but seems to be nobler and greater; and yet I am not sure if, in point of dimensions, it is larger, or so large as that of Covent-Garden. The only objection to it-and my objection is stronger against the London theatre--is the unfitness. In both cases, the style and order are of the gravest Templar character, more appropriate to the tribunals of criminal justice, than to the haunts of Cytherea and the Muses. It is astonishing, after all which has been lectured on the proprieties of architecture, that such inappropriate fabrics should still be raised. I do not, however, find so much fault with the American artists as with our own. The arts here are less understood in principle than with us a fine thing is deemed fine, without relation to its fitness; and we have no superiority to boast of, while two such insults to the taste of the age exist in London as the exteriors of Covent-Garden and the India House. Is there no chance in the march of intellect that the sublimated vulgar will destroy them?

The chief architectural beauties of New York, as of every other town after all, not of the first class, are the private houses. The very best here do not exceed the second, or rather the third, order of London residences; but they are quite equal to the first either of Glasgow or of Liverpool, the proper standards of comparison with a city so similarly commercial. The only thing I object to in them, is the showiness of the furniture ; it appears more for ornament than use; it lacks the simplicity and quietness of domestic householdry. I would almost suspect that the public rooms, except on rare occasions, are only used for morning visitors, not as family apartments: wherever this is the case, there will always be something dressed and ceremonious about the house, deteriorating the comfort that might otherwise be enjoyed.

In their hospitality, the richer class of the citizens of New York (especially those who, with a judicious fastidiousness, do not allow the legal equality of civil rights, with only equal fortune, to be sufficient to supersede the superiority of education and intelligence,) study refinement and liberality. Accordingly, in every particular, their tables are served in the very best style and taste. It may be that the sideboards are less set out with ornamental plate, and the wines are less numerous and recherché; but there must be a great deal of affectation in the guests from your side of the Atlantic, who would pretend to deny the epithets of elegance and delicacy to the entertainments. I am persuaded, few of the commercial visitors from Great Britain to New York see such entertainments at home, and few are now admitted to them. The presumptuous dogmatism with which these gentry, some years ago, were in the practice of criticising the hospitality of the Americans, has had the effect of producing a more chary diffidence in admitting them to the freedom they were formerly allowed.

On my second visit to the city, Mr. P. WŁ, then the Mayor, did me the honour to call on me, and to invite me to his house : an incident I shall ever esteem felicitous, as it opened to me a society, both for general talent and intellectual intelligence, of a superior kind, and enabled me to form, if I may use the freedom to say so, a friendship with a gentleman of uncommon urbanity of manners and delicacy of taste. To my excellent friend Dr. W-- I was no less indebted : I felt towards him, from the first moment of introduction, as if we had been formerly acquainted in another sphere of being. But to every stranger who has the good fortune to be made known to him, his attentions are unbounded ; and his circumstances happily enable him to gratify his hospitable inclinations with no ordinary elegance. I had the pleasure, at

Sept.-Vol. XXVI. NO, cv.

his house, to be introduced to Mr. Clay, the late Secretary of State for the United States, a plain, intelligent, Presbyterian-looking personage, with an occasional pleasing intellectual smile, that softened the habitual hardness of an address more official than natural. But I must not attempt to describe in this manner the different gentlemen with whom I had the good fortune to become acquainted; it is a freedom that may be taken only with public characters.

There are several things in the first impression of New York which ought to be mentioned ; amongst these, the dull complexion and expressionless physiognomy of the common people. Whether their sallow hue and the languor of their looks, so strikingly different from the fresh and ruddy animation of the English, are the effects of a local climate, and of influences peculiar to the situation of the city, I shall not undertake to determine ; but unquestionably both the figure and countenance of the Americans improve as you proceed into the interior,



On England's shore I saw a pensive band,
With sails unfurld for earth's remotest strand,
Like children parting from a mother, shed
Tears for the home that could not yield them bread;
Grief mark'd each face receding from the view,
'Twas grief to nature honourably true.
And long, poor wand'rers o'er th' ecliptic deep,
The song that names but home shall bid you weep;
Oft shall ye fold your flocks by stars above
In that far world, and miss the stars ye love;
Oft, when its tuneless birds scream round forlorn,
Regret the lark that gladdens England's morn,
And, giving England's names to distant scenes,
Lament that earth's extension intervenes.
But cloud not yet too long, industrious train,
Your solid good with sorrow nursed in vain :
For has the heart no interest yet as bland
As that which binds us to our native land ?
The deep-drawn wish, when children crown our hearth,
To hear the cherub-chorus of their mirth,
Undamp'd by dread that want may e'er unhouse,
Or servile misery knit those smiling brows :
The pride to rear an independent shed,
And give the lips we love unborrow'd bread;
To see a world, from shadowy forests won,
In youthful beauty wedded to the sun;
To skirt our home with harvests widely sown,
And call the blooming landscape all our own,
Our children's heritage, in prospect long.
These are the hopes, high-minded hopes and strong,
That beckon England's wanderers o'er the brine,
To realms where foreign constellations shine ;

« ElőzőTovább »