bassadors who come to visit thern. But it is somewhat inconsistent with what appears to be their general character, that they should pay strangers even this equivocal compliment; for under a prodigious mask of politeness, they are not slow to evince their contempt of other nations, whenever any comparison is insinuated with the subjects of the Brother of the Sun and Moon. The knowledge they respect in us most, is that of gun-making, and of the East Indian passage. When our countrymen shewed them a map of the earth, they enquired for China; and on finding that it only made a little piece in a corner, could not contain their derision. They thought that it was the main territory in the middle, the apple of the world's eye.

On the other hand, the most imaginative nations, in their highest times, have had a respect for remote countries. It is a mistake to suppose that the ancient term barbarian, applied to foreigners, suggested the meaning we are apt to give it. It may have gathered some such insolence with it among the Romans, as they spread their own barbarous power; but the more intellectual Greeks venerated the countries from which they brought the elements for their mythology and philosophy. The philosopher travelled into Egypt, like a son to see his father. The merchant heard in Phænicia the farbrought stories of other realms, which he told to his delighted countrymen. It is supposed, that the mortal part of Mentor in the Odyssey was drawn from one of these voyagers. When Anacharsis the Scythian was reproached with his native place by an unworthy Greek, he said, “ My country may be a shame to me, but you are a shame to your country.”' Greece had a lofty notion of the Persians and the Great King, till Xerxes came over to teach it better, and betrayed the softness of their skulls.

It was the same with the Arabians, at the time when they had the chief accomplishments of the world to themselves; as we see by their delightful tales. Every thing shines with them in the distance, like a sunset. What an amiable people are their Persians! What a wonderful place is the island of Serindib! You would think nothing could be finer than the Caliph's city of Bagdat, till you hear of Grand Cairo; and how has that epithet and that name towered in the imagination of all those, who have not had the misfortune to see the modern city! Sindbad was respected, like Ulysses, because he had seen so many adventures and nations. So was Aboulfaouris the Great Voyager, in the Persian Tales. His very name sounds like a wonder.

With many a tempest had his beard been shaken. was one of the workings of the great Alfred's mind, to know about far-distant countries. There is a translation by him of a book of geography; and he even employed people to travel ; a great stretch of intellectual munificence for those times. About the same period, Haroun al Raschid (whom our manhood is startled to find almost a less real person than we thought him, for his very reality) wrote a letter to the Emperor of the West, Charlemagne. Here is Arabian and Italian romance, shaking hands in person !


The Crusades pierced into a new world of remoteness. We do not know whether those were much benefited, who took part in them ; but for the imaginative persons remaining at home, the idea of going to Palestine must have been like travelliug into a supernatural world. When the compaign itself had a good effect, it must have been of a very fine and highly-tempered description. Chaucer's Knight had been

Sometime with the lord of Palatiee
Agen another hethen in Turkie:
And evermore he had a sovereign price;
And though that he was worthy, be was wise,

And of his port as meek as is a mayde.
How like a return from the moon must have been the reappear-
ance of such travellers as Sir John Mandevile, Marco Polo, and
William de Rubruquis, with their news of Prester John, the Great
Mogul, and the Great Cham of Tartary! The long-lost voyager
must have been like a person consecrated in all the quarters of
heaven.: His staff and his beard must have looked like relics of his
former self. The Venetians, who were some of the earliest European
travellers, have been remarked, among their other amiable qualities,
for their great respect for strangers. The peculiarity of their position,
and the absence of so many things which are common-places to other
countries, such as streets, horses, and coaches, add, no doubt, to
this feeling. But a foolish or vain people would only feel a contempt
for what they did not possess.

Milton, in one of those favourite passages of his, in which he turns a mere vocabulary into such grand meaning and music, shews us whose old footing he had delighted to follow. How he enjoys the distance; emphatically using the words far, farthest, and utmost!

- Embassies from regions far remote,
In various habits, on the Appian road,
Or on the Emilian; some from farthest south,
Syene, and where the shadow both way falls,
Meroe, Nilotick isle ; and more to west,
The realm of Bocchus to the Black-moor sea;
From the Asian kings, and Parthian among these ;
From India and the golden Chersonese,

And utmost Indian isle Taprobane.-Parad. Reg. B. 4.
One of the main helps to our love of remoteness in general, is the
associations we connect with it of peace and quietness. Whatever
there may be at a distance, people feel as if they should escape
from the worry of their local cares. " () that I had wings like
a dove! then would I fly away and be at rest.” The word far is
often used wilfully in poetry, to render distance still more distant.
An old English song begins-

In Irelande farre over the sea

There dwelt a bonny king.
Thomson, a Scotchman, speaking of the western isles of his own
country, has that delicious line, full of a dreary yet lulling pleasure

As when a shepherd of the Hebrid isles,
Placed far amid the melancholy main.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

In childhood, the total ignorance of the world, especially when we are brought up in some confined spot, renders every thing beyond the bounds of our dwelling a distance and a romance. Mr. Lamb, in his Recollections of Christ's Hospital, says that he remembers when some half-dozen of his schoolfellows set off,“ without map, card, or compass, on a serious expedition to find out Philip Quarls's Island.” We once encountered a set of boys as romantic. It was at no greater distance than at the foot of a hill near Hampstead; yet the spot was so perfectly Cisalpine to them, that two of them came up to us with looks of hushing eagerness, and asked, “ whether, on the other side of that hill there were not robbers :” to which, the minor adventurer of the two added, And some say serpents.” They had all got bows and arrows, and were evidently hovering about the place, betwixt daring and apprehension, as on the borders of some wild region. We smiled to think which it was that husbanded their suburb wonders to more advantage, they or we: for while they peopled the place with robbers and serpents, we were peopling it with sylvans and fairies.

" So was it when my life began;

So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,

Or let nie die !
The child is father to the man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety."

PASSAGES FROM OSSIAN, ALLUDED TO IN OUR LAST. On renewing our acquaintance with Ossian, we felt tempted to go to some length about him; but we must reserve our criticism for another time. The following are as many specimens of his uses of mist, as we have room for. The first is very grand; the second as happy in it's analogy; the third is ghastly, but of more doubtful merit.

Two chieFS PARTED BY THEIR KING.-" They sunk from the king on either side, like two columns of morning mist, when the sun rises between them on his glittering rocks. Dark is their rolling on either side, each toward its reedy pool.”

A GREAT ENEMY.--". I love a fue like Cathmor: his soul is great; his arm is strong; his battles are full of fame. But the little soul is like a vapour, that hovers round the marshy lake. It never rises on the green hill, lest the winds meet it there.”

A TERRIBLE OMEN.-". A mist rose slowly from the lake. It came, in the figure of an aged man, along the silent plain. It's large limbs did not move in steps; for a ghost supported it in mid air. It came towards Selma's hall, and dissolved in a shower of blood."

Orders received by the Booksellers, by the Newsmen, and by the Publisher,

Joseph Appleyard, 19, Catherine-street, Strand.-Price Twopence. Printed by C. H. Reynell, No. 45, Broad-street, Golden-square, London.



There he arriving round abont doth fly,
And takes survey with busie, curious eye?
Now this, now that, he tasteth tenderly.



[ocr errors][merged small]

A man who does not contribute his quota of grim stories now-a-days, seems hardly to be free of the republic of letters. He is bound to wear a death's head, as part of his insignia. If he does not frighten every body, he is nobody. If he does not shock the ladies, what can be expected of him?

We confess we think very cheaply of these stories in general. A story, merely horrible or even awful, which contains no sentiment elevating to the human heart and it's hopes, is a mere appeal to the least judicious, least healthy, and least masculine of our passions, fear. They whose attention can be gravely arrested by it, are in a fit state to receive any absurdity with their wits off ; and this is the cause, why less talents are required to enforce it, than in any other species of composition. With this opinion of such things, we may be allowed to say, that we would undertake to write a dozen horrible stories in a day, all of which should make the common worshippers of power, who were not in the very healthiest condition, turn pale. We would tell of Haunting Old Women, and Knocking Ghosts, and Solitary Lean Hands, and Empusas on One Leg, and Ladies growing Longer and Longer, and Horrid Eyes meeting us through Key-holes, and Plaintive Heads, and Shrieking Statues, and Shocking Anomalies of Shape, and Things which when seen drove people mad; and indigestion knows what besides. But who would measure talents with a leg of veal, or a German sausage.

Mere grimness is as easy as grinning; but it requires something to put a handsome face on a story. Naratives become of suspicious merit in proportion as they lean to Newgate-like offences, particularly of blood and wounds. A child has a reasonable respect for a Raw-head-and-bloody-bones, because all images whatsoever of pain and terror are new and fearful to his inexperienced age : but sufferings merely physical (unless sublimated like those of Philoctetes) are common-places to a grown man. Images, to become awful to him, must be removed from the grossness of the shambles. A death's head was a respectable thing in the hands of a poring monk, or of a nun compelled to avoid the idea of life and society, or of a hermit already buried in the desart. Holbein's Dance of Death, in which every grinning skeleton leads along a man of rank, from the Pope to the gentleman, is a good Memento Mori; but there the skeletons have an air of the ludicrous and satirical. If we were threatened with them in a grave way, as spectres, we should have a right to ask how they could walk about without muscles. Thus many of the tales written by such authors as the late Mr. Lewis, who wanted sentiment to complete his talents, are quite puerile. When his spectral nuns go about bleeding, we think they ought in decency to have applied to some ghost of a surgeon. His little Grey Men, who sit munching hearts, are of a piece with fellows that eat cats for a wager.

2nd Edition,

Stories that give mental pain to no purpose, or to very little purpose compared with the unpleasant ideas they excite of human nature, are as gross mistakes, in their way, as these, and twenty times as pernicious : for the latter become ludicrous to grown people. They originate also in the same extremes, either of callousness, or morbid want of excitement, as the others. But more of these hereafter. Our business at present is with things ghastly and ghostly.

A ghost story, to be a good one, should unite as much as possible objects such as they are in life with a præternatural spirit. And to be a perfect one,-at least to add to the other utility of excitement a moral utility,—they should imply some great sentiment,-something that comes out of the next world to remind us of our duties in this; or something that helps to carry on the idea of our humanity into after-life, even when we least think we shall take it with us.

When “the buried majesty of Denmark” revisits earth to speak to his son Hamlet, he comes armed, as he used to be, in his complete steel. His visor his raised; and the same fine face is there; only, in spite of his punishing errand and his own sufferings, with

A countenance more in sorrow than in anger. When Donne the poet, in his thoughtful eagerness to reconcile life and death, had a figure of himself painted in a shroud, and laid by his bedside in a coffin, he did a higher thing than the monks and hermits with their skulls. It was taking his humanity with him into the other world, not effecting to lower the sense of it by regarding it piecemeal or in the frame-work. Burns, in his Tam O'Shanter, shews, the dead in their coffins after the same fashion. He does not lay bare to us their skeletons or refuse, things with which we can connect no sympathy or spiritual wonder. They still are flesh and body to excite the one; yet so look and behave, inconsistent in their very consistency, as to excite the other.

Coffins stood round like open presses.
Which shewed the dead in their last dresses :
And by some devilish cantrip sleight,

Each, in his cauld hand, held a light. Reanimation is perhaps the most ghastly of all ghastly things, uniting as it does an appearance of natural interdiction from the next world,

« ElőzőTovább »