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than a system upon observation. The fact is, there are very few original eyes and ears. The great mass see and hear as they are directed by others, and bring back from a residence in foreign countries nothing but the vague and customary notions concerning it, which are carried and brought back for half a century, without verification or change. The most ordinary shape in which this tendency to prejudge makes its appearance among travellers, is by a disposition to exalt, or, a still more absurd disposition to depreciate their native country. They are incapable of considering a foreign people but under one single point of view-the relation in which they stand to their own; and the whole narrative is frequently nothing more than a mere triumph of national vanity, or the ostentation of superiority to so common a failing.
A CEYLONESE DUTCHMAN.
INHABITANTS OF CEYLON.*
CEYLON is now inhabited by the English; the remains of the Dutch and Portuguese, the Cinglese or natives, subject to the dominion of the Europeans; the Candians, subject to the king of their own name; and the Vaddahs, or wild men, subject to no power. A Ceylonese Dutchman is a coarse, grotesque species of animal, whose native apathy and phlegm is animated only by the insolence of a colonial tyrant: his principal amusement appears to consist in smoking; but his pipe, according to Mr. Percival's account, is so seldom out of his mouth, that his smoking appears to be almost as much a necessary function of animal life as his breathing. His day is eked out with gin, ceremonious visits, and prodigious quantities of gross food, dripping with oil and butter; his mind, just able to reach from one meal to another, is incapable of further exertion; and, after the panting and deglutition of a long-protracted dinner, reposes on the sweet expectation that, in a few hours, the carnivorous toil will be renewed. He lives only to digest, and, while the organs of gluttony perform their office, he has not a wish beyond; and is the happy man which Horace describes :in seipso totus, teres, atque rotundus.
The descendants of the Portuguese differ materially from the * From a review of "An Account of the Island of Ceylon, by Robert Percival." Ed. Rev., April, 1803.
Moors, Malabars, and other Mahometans. Their great object is to show the world they are Europeans and Christians. Unfortunately, their ideas of Christianity are so imperfect, that the only mode they can hit upon of displaying their faith, is by wearing hats and breeches, and by these habiliments they consider themselves as showing a proper degree of contempt, on various parts of the body, toward Mahomet and Buddha. They are lazy, treacherous, effeminate, and passionate to excess; and are, in fact, a locomotive and animated farrago of the bad qualities of all tongues, people, and nations on the face of the earth.
The Malays, whom we forgot before to enumerate, form a very considerable portion of the inhabitants of Ceylon. Their original empire lies in the peninsula of Malacca, from whence they have extended themselves over Java, Sumatra, the Moluccas, and a vast number of other islands in the peninsula of India. It has been many years customary for the Dutch to bring them to Ceylon, for the purpose of carrying on various branches of trade and manufacture, and in order also to employ them as soldiers and servants The Malays are the most vindictive and ferocious of living beings. They set little or no value on their own existence, in the prosecution of their odious passions; and having thus broken the great tie which renders man a being capable of being governed, and fit for society, they are a constant source of terror to all those who have any kind of connection or relation with them. A Malay servant, from the apprehension excited by his vindictive disposition, often becomes the master of his master. It is as dangerous to dismiss him as to punish him; and the rightful despot, in order to avoid assassination, is almost compelled to exchange characters with his slave. It is singular, however, that the Malay, incapable of submission on any other occasion, and ever ready to avenge insult with death, submits to the severest military discipline with the utmost resignation and meekness. The truth is, obedience to his officers forms part of his religious creed; and the same man who would repay the most insignificant insult with death, will submit to be lacerated at the halbert with the patience of a martyr. This is truly a tremendous people! When assassins and blood-hounds will fall into rank and file, and the most furious savages submit (with no diminution of their ferocity) to the science and discipline of war, they only want a Malay Buonaparte to lead them to the
conquest of the world. Our curiosity has always been very highly excited by the accounts of this singular people; and we cannot help thinking that, one day or another, when they are more full of opium than usual, they will run a muck from Cape Comorin to the Caspian.
MADAME DE STAEL.
MADAME DE STAEL'S DELPHINE.
THIS dismal trash, which has nearly dislocated the jaws of every critic among us with gaping, has so alarmed Buonaparte, that he has seized the whole impression, sent Madame de Staël out of Paris, and, for aught we know, sleeps in a night-cap of steel and dagger-proof blankets. To us it appears rather an attack upon the Ten Commandments than the government of Buonaparte, and calculated not so much to enforce the rights of the Bourbons, as the benefits of adultery, murder, and a great number of other vices, which have been, some how or other, strangely neglected in this country, and too much so (according to the apparent opinion of Madame de Staël) even in France.
It happens, however, fortunately enough, that her book is as dull as it could have been if her intentions had been good; for wit, dexterity, and the pleasant energies of the mind, seldom rank themselves on the side of virtue and social order; while vice is spiritual, eloquent, and alert, ever choice in expression, happy in allusion, and judicious in arrangement.
The story is simply this:-Delphine, a rich young widow, presents her cousin, Matilda de Vernon, with a considerable estate, in order to enable her to marry Leonce Mondeville. To this action she is excited by the arts and the intrigues of Madame de Vernon, a hackneyed Parisian lady, who hopes, by this marriage, to be able to discharge her numerous and pressing debts. Leonce, who, like all other heroes of novels, has fine limbs and fine qualities, comes to Paris-dislikes Matilda-falls in love with Delphine, Delphine with him; and they are upon the eve of jilting poor Matilda, when, from some false reports spread abroad respecting the character of Delphine (which are aggravated by her own imprudences, and by the artifices of Madame de Vernon), Leonce, not in
Delphine. By Madame de Stael Holstein. London, Mawman. 6 vols. 12mo. Ed. Rev., April, 1803.
a fit of honesty, but of revenge, marries the lady whom he came to marry. Soon after, Madame de Vernon dies-discovers the artifices by which she had prevented the union of Leonce and Delphine—and then, after this catastrophe, which ought to have terminated the novel, come two long volumes of complaint and despair. Delphine becomes a nun-runs away from the nunnery with Leonce, who is taken by some French soldiers, upon the supposition that he has been serving in the French emigrant army against his country—is shot, and upon his dead body falls Delphine, as dead as he.
Making every allowance for reading this book in a translation, and in a very bad translation, we cannot but deem it a heavy performance. The incidents are vulgar; the characters vulgar, too, except those of Delphine and Madame de Vernon. Madame de Staël has not the artifice to hide what is coming. In travelling through a flat country, or a flat book, we see our road before us for half the distance we are going. There are no agreeable sinuosities, and no speculations whether we are to ascend next, or descend; what new sight we are to enjoy, or to which side we are to bend. Leonce is robbed and half-murdered; the apothecary of the place is certain he will not live; we were absolutely certain that he would live, and could predict to an hour the time of his recovery. In the same manner we could have prophesied every event of the book a whole volume before its occurrence.
This novel is a perfect Alexandrian. The last two volumes are redundant, and drag their wounded length: it should certainly have terminated where the interest ceases, at the death of Madame de Vernon; but, instead of this, the scene-shifters come and pick up the dead bodies, wash the stage, sweep it, and do everything which the timely fall of the curtain should have excluded from the sight, and left to the imagination of the audience. We humbly apprehend, that young gentlemen do not, in general, make their tuto the confidants of their passion; at least we can find no rule of that kind laid down either by Miss Hamilton or Miss Edgeworth, in their treatises on education. The tutor of Leonce is Mr. Barton, a grave old gentleman, in a peruke and snuff-coloured clothes. Instead of writing to this solemn personage about second causes, the ten categories, and the eternal fitness of things, the young lover raves to him, for whole pages, about the white neck
and auburn hair of his Delphine; and, shame to tell! the liquorish old pedagogue seems to think these amorous ebullitions the pleasantest sort of writing in usum Delphini that he has yet met with. By altering one word, and making only one false quantity,* we shall change the rule of Horace to
"Nec febris intersit nisi dignus vindice nodus
Delphine and Leonce have eight very bad typhus fevers between them, besides hæmoptoe, hemorrhage, deliquium animi, singultus, hysteria, and fœminei ululatus, or screams innumerable. Now, that there should be a reasonable allowance of sickness in every novel, we are willing to admit, and will cheerfully permit the heroine to be once given over, and at the point of death; but we cannot consent that the interest which ought to be excited by the feelings of the mind should be transferred to the sufferings of the body, and a crisis of perspiration be substituted for a crisis of passion. Let us see difficulties overcome, if our approbation is required; we cannot grant it to such cheap and sterile artifices as these.
The characters in this novel are all said to be drawn from real life; and the persons for whom they are intended are loudly whispered at Paris. Most of them we have forgotten; but Delphine is said to be intended for the authoress, and Madame de Vernon (by a slight sexual metamorphosis) for Talleyrand, minister of the French republic for foreign affairs.† As this lady (once the friend of the authoress) may probably exercise a considerable influence. over the destinies of this country, we shall endeavour to make our readers a little better acquainted with her; but we must first remind them that she was once a bishop, a higher dignity in the church than was ever attained by any of her sex since the days of Pope Joan; and that though she swindles Delphine out of her estate with a considerable degree of address, her dexterity some
*Perhaps a fault of all others which the English are least disposed to pardon. A young man who, on a public occasion, makes a false quantity at the outset of life, can seldom or never get over it.-Author's Note.
† Madame de Staël, on meeting Talleyrand at an evening party after the publication of this book, was addressed by the ci-devant Bishop with "Eh, Madame, on dit que nous sommes tous les deux dans votre livre deguisés en femmes."