Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

again seemed to rally, and, extending one of her hands towards Trevelyan, "Dear friend!" she said, "are you there? Do not leave me now!" He clasped her hand in his, and then in a tremulous voice addressing her,—" Yes, Theresa, I am here ; and there is another also here—your husband."—" Herbert! dear Herbert !" she exclaimed with energy: "Where? for my eyes are grown so dim I see nothing." Trevelyan caught hold of Lord Herbert's hand, and placed Theresa's in it; a smile once more came over her whitened lips, and her whole remaining strength appeared concentrated in the convulsive grasp with which she seized her husband's hand. "Thank God! thank God!" she cried with fervour, and again struggled hard for breath. "Is there anything you would wish to say to me, Theresa?" said Lord Herbert, in a tone of kindness. She did not answer—and every deep-drawn sigh seemed her last. Trevelyan, beside himself, and totally regardless of the presence of her husband, addressed her by the most endearing appellations, as if in the fond hope of retaining that life which he saw was fast ebbing away. "Theresa! dearest, best beloved—speak to me— once more speak to me."—" God bless and reward you!" she murmured in a low voice : " I feel there is hope—peace—peace!" These were the last words which came from her lips—the hard heavings of her bosom gradually subsided, until they became so faint as scarcely to be perceptible—her eyes were still raised to heaven, but they had assumed the blue glassiness of death.'—pp. 200-203.

We have omitted some touches in this description, as shockingly true—even as we give it, it trespasses beyond the bounds of legitimate art; for among the effects of such art never ought to be a sheer physical shudder. As to the rest, the reader can have no interest about my Lord Herbert Leslie; and we shall not follow poor Trevelyan to the early grave which he seeks and finds by joining, as a volunteer, Sir John Moore's army, at the commencement of the Corunna campaign. The character of this gentleman is admirably drawn throughout; and we heartily wish other novelists may profit by such an example, and perceive and remember that to make the most blase of readers sympathize with the most unfashionable of virtues, it is only necessary to combine its exercise with the display of ^uch passions as do require an heroic arm to bridle them.

We think our authoress has not trusted sufficiently to her own strength and skill, in declining to invest the character of Lord Launceaton's wife with any features of attraction. Augusta is a tame Octavia—we care nothing, from beginning to end, about 'the married woman.' Had this been avoided, the piece must have gained much in interest. It is a weak and an unwomanly condescension to the vulgar taste—altogether unworthy of one capable of such a creation as the 'old maid' of this novel.

As

As to Theresa herself, she is really not unworthy of being compared with Cleopatra in the play—' an ambiguous being/ (as Schlegel expresses it,) ' made up of pride, vanity, luxury, inconstancy, and true attachment, who excites our sympathy by an insurmountable fascination.' But we doubt, after all, whether the novelist ought to have made her ladyship go quite so far as Welwyn with Mr. Lascelles—there were inns to receive her, both at Barnet and Hatfield—and we suspect, Mr. Lascelles's fingers would have found their way to Trevelyan's wonder-working bracelet—the circumstance which in the novel recals the fugitive to her senses—rather earlier than at the twenty-fourth mile-stone. Moreover, we are desirous of submitting to the ingenious authoress, that it is after all rather a dangerous doctrine to inculcate that an early and miserable death is sufficient dramatic atonement for all but the most grievous of moral offences. It is, at any rate, a sort of doctrine, of which, at the present day, there are more than enough of preachers.

On the whole, we are inclined to think 'Trevelyan ' the best feminine novel, in many respects, that has appeared since Miss Edgeworth's ' Vivian.' The authoress seems to us superior to all her recent predecessors in compass of understanding, and in subtle management of the passions; and inferior to none of them in the portraiture of manners, and the graces of language. Her English style is unstained by affectation—we only wish she had not interrupted it with so many spots of French dialogue—and she is quite above gratifying the milliner appetite, by dwelling on the insignificant details of what is called fashionable life, with that Dutch minuteness which comes naturally from nobody but a parvenu.

Such is our opinion of this book; but we must not conclude without expressing our doubts whether it does not belong to a class, the circulation of which among very young female readers may be attended with unhappy consequences. We doubt whether respectable matron ladies are well advised, when they thus exercise their pens in the delineation, not of the pure fervours of 'Love's young dream,' but of the wayward workings of indulged and erring passions. Such pictures, now, as we have in one at least of the ' Recollections of a Chaperon,' and here in 'Trevelyan,' of the more or less improper entanglements that too often chequer the existence of the ' Bella mal maridada' in maturer years, after the bloom of life is gone, can hardly, we think, be daily and hourly placed before the eyes, and worked into the fancies, of innocent creatures in their teens, without cruelly anticipating, and therefore thwarting and disturbing, the natural course and development of thought, feeling, and character,—without producing, in short, consequeuces inconsistent with what an exquisite amatory poet has so beautifully described :—

'That entireness of love, which can only be found

Where Woman, like something that's holy, watched over
And fenced, from her childhood, with purity round,
Comes, body and soul, fresh as spring, to a lover;
Where not an eye answers, where not a hand presses,

Till spirit with spirit in sympathy move;
And the Senses, asleep in their sacred recesses,
Can only be reached through the Temple of Love.'

Moore's Rhymes on the Road, p. 16S.

Art.vii.— 1. A Letter to the Right Hon. Charles Grant, Presi~ dent of the Board of Control, on the Present State of British Intercourse tvith, China. By Charles Marjoribanks, Esq., M.P., late President of the Select Committee in China. J 833.

2. Papers relating to the Ship Amherst, in reference to a Voyage recently undertaken to the North-east Coast of China. Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed. 1833.

3. Papers relating to the Affairs of the East India Company. Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed. 1833.

4. Corrected Report of the Speeches of Sir George Staunton on the China Trade in the House of Commons, June 4 and 13, 1833. With an Appendix.

5. Observations on the China Trade, and on the Importance and Advantages of removing it from Canton to some other part of the Coast of that Empire. By Sir James Brabazon Urmston, late President of the Select Committee. 1833.

T^HE deed is done for good or for evil. By the omnipotence of the British Parliament, the Yellow Sea, which for ages has been, with few exceptions, a mare clausum, will become, from the 2'2d day of April next, a mare liberum to all the world, the ships carrying convicts to Botany Bay not excluded—which, by the way, are likely enough, from their favourable position, to be the first competitors in the field. Whether, through the conflicting interests of the numerous candidates for obtaining cargoes of tea,—and the serious disputes which are sure to occur with the local authorities—the old Chinese goose may not take alarm and cease to lay her golden eggs, which for the last hundred years and more have enriched the coffers of Whitehall and Leadenhall

street; street; or whether, in imitation of the 'ignorant impatience' of the stupid man in the fable, the free-traders will decide upon cutting her up at once, to get hold of the supposed treasure within, are points that remain to be seen: we only hope their Eldorado dreams may not terminate in the ' leaden slumber' of disappoint-, ment.

In taking up a measure in which the commercial and financial interests of the country are so deeply involved, our chief object is to send forth a warning voice to the mercantile community, and to show how little good is to be expected from that system of setting at defiance the Chinese laws and regulations, which is so strongly recommended by persons who ought to know better. It is a measure we cannot look upon as a party question; it is one in the success of which Whig and Tory are, or ought to be, equally interested. We beg leave, therefore, in the outset, distinctly to disclaim all party-feeling in any strictures we may be compelled to make, and shall abstain from casting the slightest imputation of blame on the line taken by the present cabinet. Let the result be what it may, the measure was one not sought by, but forced upon, these Ministers. The Duke of Wellington's government had made preparations for it, seeing that the public feeling on this point would be irresistible. From the moment, indeed, that the free-trade mania became the order of the day, the Chinese monopoly received its death-blow. Its condemnation was all but universal; and though one of its results must be that of bringing inevitable ruin to thousands of petty tradesmen on the banks of the Thames, especially in the neighbourhood of Wapping, and of throwing myriads of artizans out of employment, yet the Member for the Tower Hamlets offered no opposition; he is said, indeed,—how truly we know not—to have avowed, that, although the grass would most likely grow in the streets, he dared not hold up a hand against it. Sir George Staunton, than whom there is not a person in this kingdom better acquainted with everything that relates to China, her customs, and her language, w ho had been chief of the factory, as well as first commissioner in the last embassy to Pekin—even he could not obtain a hearing in the House of Commons, but, while speaking on certain resolutions which he had proposed, was twice uncourteously interrupted by the Member for Southwark, who moved that the House be counted. The Directors of the East India Company themselves offered no opposition: they knew that the die was cast; and their only wish was to wind up their concerns, dispose of their eighty or ninety millions of pounds of tea, and break up their commercial establishments with the least possible delay. In a word, we do not believe lieve that, if the government had been so inclined, they had the power to stem the torrent.

We certainly do not augur well of the change, as applied to China; but before we proceed to open the Sibyl-leaf and pry into futurity, it may be right to take a cursory view of Mr. Marjoribanks's 'Letter' to Mr. Grant, and of certain proceedings connected with his name and authority. The claims of this gentleman to be heard cannot be denied or resisted. He had passed twenty of the best years of his life at Canton, where, after being for a long period a member of the Select Committee, he had risen to be its president in 1830. In .that year he was examined before a Select Committee of the House of Commons on the East India Company's affairs relating to China; and the clear and off-hand manner in which his evidence was given—the principles of conciliation towards the Chinese government which he avowed—and the testimony of that government which had pronounced him to be ' profoundly intelligent,'—everything concurred to give us a favourable impression of the correctness of his information, and the validity of his judgment. The advice of such a person, we conceived, had a strong claim to be listened to by the President of the Board of Control, and we took up his 'Letter' under some anxiety to see the exact nature of that advice, but certain that, at least, we should meet with a cool and dispassionate inquiry into the real state of the case, and the future prospects, under the new arrangement, of our commercial intercourse with China. To say we have been disappointed, does not sufficiently express our feeling; we are surprised and grieved at the altered tone and sentiments which three short years seem to have produced; but, alas! the explanation is not difficult. He quits the presidential chair in Canton to obtain a seat in the House of Commons. He finds, like many others, that the people to whom he offered himself would have a representative of liberal, we might not be far amiss in calling them radical, opinions. Ambition, by which many a good man has fallen, got the better of discretion, and Mr. Marjoribanks became Member for Berwickshire. The case is so common that we shall not blame him for this; but we must blame him for arrogantly and splenetically coming forward in 1833, to avow principles and opinions which are in direct contradiction to those he had most deliberately uttered in his evidence before a Committee of the House of Commons in 1830,—opinions and principles which we deem to be injurious, were they acted upon, to the interests and the honour of the nation. We are at a loss to imagine how the residence of a year or two in China, as president, should have

operated

« ElőzőTovább »