« ForrigeFortsett »
other wi' teeing people happy an' comfortable. It is anely a matter of indiveedual feeling. A peesant saves a mon's life for the same rea•on that a hero or a footpad cuts his throat: an' a philosopher deleavers a mon frae a preeson, for the same reason that a tailor or a prime meenester puts him into it—because it is conformable to nis ain parteecular feelings o' the moral an' poleetical fitness o' things.
• Squire Headlong.—Wake the Reverend Doctor. Doctor, the bottle stands with you.
« The Reverend Doctor Gaster.—It is an error of'wKTch lam seldom guilty.
'Mr. Mac Laurel.—Noo ye ken, Sir, eevery mon is the centre of his ain system, an' endeevours as much as possible to adapt eevery thing aroond him to his ain parteecular views.
'Mr. Esoot.—Thu9, Sir, I presume, it suits the particular views of a poet, at one time, to take the part of the people against their oppressors, and at another, to take the part of the oppressors against the people.
'Mr. Mac Laurel.—Ye mun alloo, Sir, that poetry is a sort of ware or commodity, that is brought into the public market wi' a' other descreeptions o' merchandise, an' that a mon is parefectly justified in getting the best price he can for his article. Noo, there are three reasons for taking the part o' the people: the first is, when general leeberty an' public happiness are conformable to your ain parteecular feelings o' the moral an' poleetical fitness o' things: the second is, when they happen to be, as it were, in a state ot excitaheelity, Ai* ye think ye can get a gude price for your commodity, by throwing in a leetle seasoning o' pneelanthropy an' republican speerit: the third is, when ye think ye can bully the meenestry into gieing ye ft peension to hau'd your din; an in that case, ye point an attack against them within the pale o' the law; an' if they tak nae heed or ye, ye open a stronger fire; an' the less heed they tik, the mair ft bawl, an the mair factious ye grow always within the pale o' the law, till they seend a pleenipoteentiary to treat wi ye for yoursel; an' then the mair popular ye happen to be, the better price ye
* Mr. Cranium.—I perfectly agree with Mr. Mac Laurel in his definition of self-love and disinterestedness: every man s actions are determined by his peculiar views, and those views are determined by the organization of his skull. A man in whom the organ of benevolence is not developed, c;inn >t be benevolent: he, in whom it is so, cannot be otherwise The organ of self-love is prodigiously developed in the greater number of subjects that have fallen under my observation
« Mr. Escot.—Much less, I presume,among savage than civilized i&en, who, constant only tn the love of self, and consistent only in their mm to deceive, are always actuated by the hope of personal advan~
ftigCt or by the dread of personal puiuJiment * * Mr. Cranium—Very probably.' pp. 56
* Drummond's Academical Questions. Vol. V. N. S. G g
During a subsequent conversation, an angry dispute arises l>« twsen Messrs. Gall and Nightshade; the latter, as we are informed, pertinaciously insisting on having his new poem reviewed by Treacle, and not by Gall, whose sarcastic comHiendatipn he held in superlative horror.
« The remonstrances of Squire Headlong silenced the disputant!, but did not mollify the inflexible Gall, nor appease the irritated Nightshade, who secretly resolved that, on his return to London, lie would beat his drum in Grub Street, form a mastigophoric corps of hi* own, and hoist the standard of determined opposition against the critical Napoleon.'
We must indulge ourselves in one more extract, which shall be taken from Mr. Cranium's Lecture on Skulls. After some preliminary remarks on the difficulty of accounting for the varieties of moral character in men, contrasted with the similarity in all the individuals of other species, and proving th* several definitions of man to be extremely defective or erroneous, the Lecturer thus proceeds.
« " Every particular faculty of the mind has its corresponding organ in the brain. In proportion as any particular faculty or propensity acquires paramount activity in any individual, these organs develope themselves, and their developement becomes externally obvious by corresponding lumps and bumps, exuberances and protuberances, on the osseous compages of the occiput and sinciput. In all animals but man, the same organ is equally developed in every individual of the species: for instance, that of migration in the swallow—that of destruction in the tiger—that of architecture in the beaver—and that of parental affection in the bear. The human brain, however, consists, as I have said, of a bundle or amipmir. J of all the faculties of all other animals, and from the greater developemeht of one or more of these, in the infinite varieties of combination, result all the peculiarities of individual character.
'"Here is the skull of a beaver; and that of Sir Christopher Wren. You observe, in both these specimens, the prodigious developemeat of the organ of constructiveness.
• "Here is the skull of a bullfinch; and that of an eminent fiddler. You may compare the organ of music.;
'"Here is the skull of a tiger. You observe the organ of carnage. Here is the skull of a fox. You observe the organ of plunder. Here is the skull of a peacock. You observe the organ of vanity. Here is the skull of an illustrious robber, who, after a long and triumphant process of depredation and murder, was suddenly checked in his ca reer by means of a certain quality inherent in preparations of hemp* which, for the sake of perspicuity, I shall call suspentitcness. Here is the skull of a conqueror, who, after over-running several kingdoms, burning a number of cities, and causing the death* of two or three millions of men, women, and children, was entombed with all the pageantry of public lamentation, and figured v the hero of several thousand odes and a round dozen of epics; while the poor highwayman was twice executed,
• At the gallows first, and after in a ballad,
'Sung to a villanous tune.' You observe, in both these skulls, the combined developement of the organs of carnage, plunder, and vanity, which I have just pointed out in the tiger, the fox, and the peacock. The greater enlargement of the organ of vanity in the hero, is the only criterion by which I can distinguish them from each other. Born with the same faculties and the same propensities, these two men were formed by nature to run the same career :. the different combinations of external circumitances decided the difference of their destinies.' pp. 154—157.
After some further illustrations, Mr. Cranium proceeds to deduce his practical inferences.
'"It is obvious, from what I have said, that no man can hope for worldly honour or advancement, who is not placed in such a relation to external circumstances, as may be consentaneous to his peculiar cerebral organs; and I would advise every parent, who has the weU fare of his son at heart, to procure as extensive a collection as possible of the skulls of animals, and, before determining on.the choice of a profession, to compare with the utmost nicety their bumps and protuberances with those of the skull of his son. If the developement of the organ of destruction point out a similarity between the youth and the tiger, let him be brought to some profession (whether that of a butcher, a soldier, or a physician, may be regulated by circumstances), in which he may be furnished with a license to kill: as, without such license, the indulgence of his natural propensity may lead to the untimely rescission of his vital thread, 'with edge of penny cord and * vile reproach.' If he trace an analogy with the jackal), let all possible influence be used to procure him a place at court, where he will infallibly thrive. If his skull bear a marked resemblance to that of a magpie, it cannot be doubted that he will prove an admirable lawyer; and if with this advantageous conformation be combined any resemblance to that of an owl, very confident hopes may be formed of his becoming a judge."' pp. 159, 160.
We have been induced to make larger quotations from this little volume, than its size or importance might seem to demand; but we confess that we have been so much amused with it ourselves, as to wish our readers to partake in the entertainment. We will not extend our approbation of the work to every expression which it contains. The character of Dr. Gaster will be considered as falling under the same objection as that to which Dr. Syntax, and similar caricatures, are justly exposed. That such characters exist in real life, is an insufficient excuse for their being brought out on the canvass. The general design of the volume is however so unexceptionable, the execution is so spirited and good-humoured, and the satire in general so well-directed, that we cannot but accord to it, on the whole, a high measure of commendation.
Several songs of various casts are scattered through the volume. The following is the best :—
LOVE AND OPPORTUNITY.
My name is Love, the child replied: '•Swifter I pass than south-winds sighing*
Or streams through summer-vales that glide.
'Tis cold Neglect whom now you see:
*Q! who art thou, so fast proceeding,
Ne'er glancing back thine eyes of flame?
And Opportunity's my name. N %What form is that, which scowls beside thee?
Repentance is the form you see;
She seizes them who seize not me. p. 90.
AH. Till. The Story of Rimini, a Poem. By Leigh Hunt, foolscap 8vo. pp. xx. 112. Price 6s. Murray, 1816.
4^.£ have, in the present affluence of poetical genius, almosi every style of poetry yearly issuing from the press; the imaginative philosophy of Wordsworth, the bosom touches of Southey, the stir and spirit of Scott, the voluptuous elegance of Moore, the intense feeling of Lord Byron and Joanna Baillie: yet we have nothing exactly in the manner of the 'Story of Ri'mini,' the easy graceful style of familiar narrative. This was a favourite style with the Italians. Chaucer brought it into our own country; but it is, perhaps, best known as that which Dryden adopted in his fables. Dryden, however, was not the best fitted to excel in this kind. Powerful interest, it is true, is not required in the narration; our pleasure is to arise chiefly from the description, and from the passion of the story. It was exactly in these two particulars that Dryden failed; what he was acquainted with, Dryden could indeed describe forcibly, for be always went strait to the point, never blundering about his meaning; but there is hardly to be found, in all his voluminous productions, a single image immediately from nature; and be ha* not a passage that strikes upon the heart, as if sent from the heart. Accordingly, we believe, the vigorous writing and free versification of Dryden's fables, are more praised than read.
We are very glad to seethe style revived by one so fitted to excel in it as Mr. Hunt. We wish indeed that'the story
* This stanza is imitated from a passage in the Oeeositne of M»chiavelli.
had moved on a little more rapidly; but we are not unwilling to loiter among the beautiful descriptions, and enjoy the fresh diction of Mr. Hunt.
The tale is soon told. It consists of nothing but the gradual progress and final accomplishment of a criminal passion—a mutual passion of wife and brother-in-law. We give the Author full credit for the decency of his representations, for the absence of every thing that csn disgust, or seduce, or inflame: but still we doubt whether such stories are not likely to do some hurt to the cause of morality; whether it is possible so to distinguish between the offence and the offender, as to render the one detestable, while the other is represented as so very amiable; and whether indeed this amiableness is not gotten by paring off sundry little portions of the sin ; such as selfishness—that unheroic quality, on the part of the seducer; base infidelity on the part of the woman. Our objections to these stories on the score of good taste, we have formerly stated.
But we hasten away from criticism to poetry. We shall give the reader a few specimens of Mr. H.'s powers in those two grand parts of poetry, the descriptive audthe passionate.
Nothing can be more fresh and fragrant, more unfeigned and eon amore, than the following description of a clear spring morning, with which the poem opens.
* The sun is up, and 'tis a morn of May Bound old Ravenna's clear shewn towers and bay, A morn, the loveliest which the year hat teen, Last of the spring, yet fresh with all its green; For a warm eve, and gentle rains at night, Have left a sparkling welcome for the light, And there's a crystal clearness all about; The leaven are sharp, the distant hills look out; A balmy briskness comes upon the breeze; The smoke goes dancing from the cottage trees; And when you listen, you may hear a coil Of bubbling springs about the grassy soil; And all the scene, in short—sky, earth, and sea, Breathes like a bright-eyed face, that laughs out openly.
* *Tis nature, full of spirits, waked and springing:
The birds to the delicious time are singing,
**' While happy faces, striking through the green
— Come gleaming up, true to the wished-for day,