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his biographer, delighted in the innocent endearments and opening graces of infancy, and possessed a heart painfully alive to the dictates of tenderness; but who could entirely abandon the excellent and unoffending wife of his youthful choice, and his infant family, lest his acknowledgement of them should interfere with his advancement in his art.
About this time Lady Hamilton formed an acquaintance with Mr. Greville, nephew to the gentleman from whom she afterwards derived her title and her importance in society, and well known in the higher circles for the elegance of his address. Surrounded by men of genius and of polished exterior, it may easily be imagined, that her understanding and her manners daily exhibited proportionate improvement. Her taste, particularly in music and in painting, rapidly developed itself, and her skill in recitation enabled her frequently to fill up those languid intervals, which familiar intercourse is sure to give birth to when unsupported by esteem. To defer, however, is not to prevent. Her connexion with Mr. Greville came to the end common to such connexions; it died the natural death of satiety: but he wiih more consideration for the interests of his mistress, than for the honour of his relation, contrived to introduce her to Sir William Hamilton, under appearances so favourable, that his admiration of her terminated in marriage. From this time Lady Hamilton's ambition seems to have taken a wider flight, and for the exhibition of abilities like hers, the intriguing and dissipated court of Naples was an appropriate sphere. The character of Sir William Hamilton is delineated in these pages with great impartiality; his choice of a wife is excused on account of the deception practised upon him by those whom his own integrity prevented him from suspecting; his taste in the fine arts is acknowledged, but his devotion to them at a time when the high duties of his station demanded all his attention, is justly condemned; more especially'as he seemed occasionally to be influenced by the feelings of a merchant or a broker, rather than of a scholar and an antiquary.
The commencement of Lady Hamilton's acquaintance with Lord Nelson, the disgust with which the native honesty and noble simplicity of his soul at first recoiled from the associates with whom she was surrounded, and the dissipation of her habits, are detailed in a plain and undisguised manner. The gradual subjugation of the energies of a hero by the flatteries of a syren, cannot be contemplated without pain. The errors of political conduct, to which the influence of Lady Hamilton gave rise at Naples, are forcibly represented; and surely if it be of any importance in the history of human actions, to trace back consequences to their causes, such a representation must be highly instructive. The execution of Carraccioli, on board Nelson's ship, is severely reprobated. Whatever advocates that arbitrary assumption of power may have found in the convenient doctrine of expediency, we believe there is no one who will venture to admire Lady Hamilton, for going upon deck to witness the miserable end of this aged nobleman, whose life was terminated by his being hanged at the yard-arm ; the disgrace of which mode of death was so terrible to him, that as a last entreaty he earnestly pleaded to have it altered, but he pleaded in vain! Let us never again be told of Lady Hamilton's sensibility. We must own that this odious proof of the torpor of feeling, which is often found in conjunction with levity of conduct, and which not even her admirers have attempted to controvert, removes all incredulity from our minds respecting other cruelties which she is accused of passively witnessing, and in some instances even of instigating. But the darker the scene becomes, the more reluctant we are to dwell upon it. The biographer himself assumes an increased severity of tone, when he describes the injuries inflicted on the peace of Lady Nelson and her relations, by one who could smile, and murder while she smiled. Among her very few good qualities, he remarks that her filial duty was conspicuous. He advocates the claims of that child who was left by Nelson to his country; and who, there is too much reason to fear, was the offspring of that intimate acquaintance with Lady Hamilton, which some, too virtuous themselves to suspect vice in others, actually believed to be the purest description of platonic attachment.
The contemplation of the close of Lady Hamilton's days, at Calais, to which place she fled for refuge on her liberation from the King's Bench, is calculated to excite reflections of a very melancholy nature. At this trying moment, however, the affection and duty she had ever shewed her mother, were brought back to her own bosom, by the soothing attentions of her child, who waited upon her throughout her illness with undeviating affection.
'When, at last, she found there were no hopes of a recovery, she employed the little time that remained in preparing such documents and memorials as might be of service to this interesting object, who was now about to encounter the rude storms of the world, without a relation or a guardian to take a tender interest in her welfare. This consideration pressed heavily on the mind of the dying parent, who manifested the most affectionate concern for her • iiilii, by endeavouring to soothe her mind, and to allay her fears, giving her the best advice for her future conduct, and settling all her affairs in such a manner as appeared best adapted to secure the property which had been set apart for her use, from any attempts that aught be made to injure the rights of the orphan and the destitute. A sealed packet was also carefully entrusted to her hands, but with strict injunctions that it should not be opened till the attainment of her eighteenth year; which corresponded also with the particular settlement in the codicil added to the will of Nelson, providing for the maintenance of this very child under the denomination of his adopted daughter." pp. 347, 8.
Our biographer fully acquits Lady Hamilton of any share in the infamous publication of I*ord Nelson's letters. The impartiality which he displays in every part of his instructive performance, makes us willing to dismiss him in the words which Shakspeare puts into the mouth of one not much more injuriously treated than the amiable person whose interests ought inseparably to have been connected with Lord Nelson's, whose affections were most aggrieved by his desertion:
After my death I wish no other herald,
Art. IX. 1. Jonah. The Sentonian Prize Poem, for the year 1815; 'By James W. Bellamy, M. A. of Queen's College, Cambridge.
8w>. pp. 28. Price 5s. 6d. Taylor and Hessey. 1815. 2. Jonah, a Poem. By Edward Smedley, Junior. 8vo. pp. 24. Price 3s. 6d. Murray. 1815.
WE had occasion, in reviewing the Seatonian prize poem lor the year 1814, to notice the difficulties which the candidates have to surmount in producing, on a given subject, and that nominally a scriptural one, a poem possessing either originality or interest. The present productions may serve to exemplify those observations.
Mr. Bellamy has obviously bestowed considerable pains on the poising of his cadences, and the burnishing of his rhymes: there is a dazzling semblance of poetry in his diction: but we look in vain for any display of fancy, that might compensate fcr Ins injudicious deviations from the simplicity of the scriptural Bar Hiv*. The character of Jonah, we are sorry to remark, is inappropriately delineated, and his history is badly narrated.
The following magniloquous lines are substituted for the aoriptm'e lccount of the prophet's fatal voyage. The impressive circumstances of the lot falling upon Jonah, his confession to the mariners, and his directing them to cast him overboard, are wholly omitted.
• Launch'd on the main, the seamen woo the gale
Scattering their deepening horrors o'er the skies:
This may suffice for a specimen of the performance. We cannot dismiss Mr. Bellamy, however, to whom, as devoted to the Christian ministry, poetical fame must be a very subordinate object, without one word of severer animadversion, in reference to the passage beginning,
4 Ye cheerless blossoms fade, that coldly spread.' These lines appear to be a palpable, but indifferent, imitation of some of the finest lines in the " Pleasures of Hope,' but they have this further disadvantage; that the total negation of all peculiarly Christian sentiment, the omission of any reference to the dictates of Revelation on the subject of the world to come, is, in a poem professedly founded on Old Testament history, particularly offensive and reprehensible. It indicates, what is obvious from the extract given above, that the poet neither felt nor properly understood his subject. Jonah was indeed a Jew, but if, as our Author has properly represented him, though he makes no use of the reference, he was ' a type of 'Israel's King', it is not to be supposed that he was unacquainted with the Christian doctrine of immortality, as ' brought to 'light* by the Gospel. Such lines as thejfollowing are destitute of all propriety in a poem on a sacred subject.
'No—beneath Heaven's^/Jrw thield, in peril's hour
. . ■ .....-■•. r ■'-•-'
We are much better pleased with Mr. Smedley's performance. Not half of his poem, indeed, is occupied with the subject of Jon ih; and he must therefore be considered as having eluded, nther than surmounted, its difficulty as a theme for poetry. Still, in the brief and rapid narrative which he gives of the history, more of the circumstances recorded in Scriptare, are included, than in Mr. Bellamy's diffuse description.
The poem commences with the destruction of Nineveh, as predicted by Nahum, Zephaniah, and Jonah; and a very judicious use is made of the bold and vivid language of prophecy. The transition is then made to the story of Jonah, in the following lines :—
'Yea I Nineveh is fallen!—but not before
''Strange was the mystery which the Lord prepar'd