Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

reckoning by one day. In the Bible, by which the Jury of Inquest were sworn, was found this record, by the colonel's own hand :-“ 14th of January, 1829, 3 o'clock in the morning, my beloved wife Olivia died at my house in Cliftonwood.” On the 13th instant, precisely at 3 o'clock a. M., the fatal catastrophe occurred. And it is not unlikely that it had some connexion with the death of his wife, by that romantic, and partly superstitious character, which is apt to characterize men of his profession. Surely he could hardly fail to think of her, when he had her children with him, and was about to leave them unprotected on the world-when himself had resolved to follow her, unbidden of his Maker, into the same eternity, and hoped, perhaps, to meet her there. In the wildness and hurry of his thoughts, he had probably mistaken the date by one day, and supposed he had chosen the anniversary of her departure. He certainly selected the very hour, 3 o'clock in the morning.

It is not difficult to imagine the general character of the reasonings in Col. Brereton's mind, which suggested and framed the dreadful purpose. He anticipated his degradation, and he had not the courage to brave the consequences. He knew what this world was, but he had not taken care to think duly of the next. His religion was, peradventure, the honour of his profession, and the comfortable emoluments of that profession its reward. Take away these, and existence to him is no longer valuable-life is intolerable-he resolves, in the phrensy of his disappointment, to put an everlasting extinguisher upon both-or at least to plunge himself into the regions of that untried being," which will certainly terminate the troubles of the present, and which, not unlikely, from the nature of his education and the habits of his life, wears little but the aspects of romance; or which, perhaps, in his creed, is stricken for ever from the records of a conscious existence. There are indeed strong pleadings of nature, the feelings of a father to hold him back; but these very feelings, in his madness, urge him on. He will not stay to witness the consequences of his own degradation upon his offspring. When he returns to his habitation in the evening, resolved upon his purpose, he will not visit the nursery, as usual, to see those children. He refuses to go and kiss his babes, lest he should still find a charm to bind him to this world. Their innocent prattle and affectionate mien might shake his purpose. They might run into his arms, and say, “Father, what is the matter? Don't be sorry, father.” They might rehearse to him their nursery adventures of the day, and demand in return a like rehearsal of what had befallen their father; and he would be obliged to feel, that whatever else was lost, all was not lost—that if he could not count upon the honours of the world, he might rely upon the affections of his children.

Or he might have found them asleep, and, as he knelt to give them a last embrace, he would not unlikely have seen the image of their mother resting on their faces, and he might seem to hear her voice of rebuke from the invisible world, as conscious of his purpose, saying to him, “I left these babes in charge with thee; and wilt thou, rashly and uncalled by heaven, desert them, and leave them on the cruel mercies of an unfeeling world ?" But he would not encounter such a trial. “On Thursday night,” said the housekeeper, in her testimony before the inquest, “he did not go into the nursery to kiss and bid good-night to his children-a thing which he had never failed to do before."

Poor and rash man! It is likely he had never learned, that religion has a consolation and a healing balm for such a wounded spirit even as his! He had moved in a circle of this world which could never appreciate either the importance or the power of religion in such a day of trial. Blind and deaf to the future-to his after being—he felt only the present. He consulted not his conscience in relation to Godhe thought only of his honour in relation to man, and of honour measured by a false estimate in every particular. What a fearful change of being has he made ! What a plunge! We will not-we dare not follow him to that tribunal to which he has made his last appeal. It were a relief to think that madness had unsettled his mind, and diminished the responsibilities of the wild scene of that dreadful night. To flee from man, he ushers himself, uncalled, forbidden, into the presence of his God, and leaves his children orphans.*

· FUNERAL OF CLEMENTI.

I stood on the orchestra, by the side of the organ, in Westminster Abbey. Every thing beneath, around, and above, whether we regard the moral or the artificial, was grand-sublime. That ancient and magnificent Gothic edifice was my canopy and enclosure—the whole internal of which, including the long ranges of lofty and massive col. umns, through the line of the nave and of the arms of the transept, and back to the altar, and over the altar to the Chapel of Henry VII., was all within the scope of a coup d'ail. The columns, so lofty and grand, and running in the lines of a sort of endless perspective, seemed to support the arches of heaven. The illusion is the easiest possible. The

* Two daughters--one three, and the other six years old.

mind is at once at sea, and swimming in it without effort and in ecstasy.

Around, clustering in all directions, and of various forms, on the pavement, on the walls, and some borne aloft on wings of sculptured marble, are the monuments of England's renowned and mighty dead-of her heroes, her statesmen, her nobles, her saints, her poets, her musicians, her literati. It is the sanctuary of religion too—the holy place where man for ages has lifted his thoughts from earth to heaven, and held communion with his God. - For ages holy men have worshipped there; holy men lie in quiet slumber there, awaiting the resurrection of the just. Beneath those pavements, under those walls, and without under the soil, on which the building rests, are entombed a vast congregation of the good and the bad, who shall rise together for judgment at the last day.

Perched on the organ-loft, in the midst of such a scene, thus canopied, thus walled in, surrounded by objects of such grave meditation, and in the midst of a living throng of human beings, assembled for the most solemn and affecting of all services, the burial of the dead-I stood with a friend to see what might be seen, and hear what might be heard.

From the choir, the west screen of which was directly under our feet, were drawn two ranges of white-robed choristers, stretching through the length of the nave to the great western door, with an open space between them, pressed on all sides by the dense and expecting throng.

At last the two folds of the massive door were thrown open, and the funeral train of Clementi entered in solemn procession, preceded by a black and waving forest of plumes.

“Lofty and slow it moves to meet the tomb,

While weighty sorrow nods on every plume." It seemed to say, “ give place to the dead, and be still.” Immediately the organ answered to the sympathies of the hour, first with its soft and careful expressions, and then with its loud and thundering peal; and the mingling voices of the choristers below, turning and moving towards the altar, sustained and filled the swelling notes, till every arch seemed vocal with living harmony. Well did it become him, who had devoted the years of his long life to fill these lower spheres with music, to be sung so sweetly to his grave, to his rest, to his heaven-if charity might hope he had gone to heaven. Of that, I know not, ask not. Every note of this service was enough to make death sweet, the grave an enviable doom, and all beyond a bright and hopeful condition. What is this art of man, which can so melt down the soul and transport it into ecstasy? And if the anthems of earth are such, what must those of heaven be?

And they all marched (the white-robed singers exhibiting

[ocr errors]

a striking contrast to the dark procession in rear), -with a slow and solemn pace, scarcely moving, through the nave into the choir, singing as they came, till the dead was placed before the altar. The choristers in their stations still kept up the anthem—now soft, now loud-now a part, and now in chorus full-at one time, as in distant, angel whispers, and then as if all heaven had burst upon our ears its joyous welcome of a saint arrived. The predominant and pervading characteristic of the music, seemed to be deeply, most pathetically, and indescribably plaintive, as expressive of the troubles of life's troublous scenes, and above all, of the conflict and pains of life's end, as involving the agonies of dissolution and the affliction of survivers ;-and all along, mingled with these sentiments, the sweet and heavenly harmonies seemed to give earnest of a sweet and heavenly rest. Christianity has taught man how to sing his troubles, and in the same voice to sing his triumphs-in the same anthem to deplore his present calamities and anticipate his succeeding and everlasting joys.

The entire burial service was performed by the choir, with the exception of a little reading of the Scriptures. When the procession moved to the place of interment in the cloisters on the south side of the Abbey, they still kept up the music as they went, and literally sung the great musician into his grave. Would that thy heaven, Clementi, might be as sweet as thy burial anthem!

One of my numerous reflections on this occasion was : that man, who knows his own feelings in joy and grief, give him time and opportunity, will learn how to express them , by the admirable works of his own art. The deepest, the most religious, and the most awful passions of his soul are not beyond his reach, nor beyond the power of his representation. In nature, or in art, he will find a type-some shape, or sound, or some combination of things foreign to himself, that shall show himself, speak to his inmost soul, and challenge all his possible sympathies. And if so much can be effected in the present imperfect state of society, while men are no better—what may not be expected when all men shall be good ?-If the arts of unholy men can so ape and feign goodness—can so frame the beau ideal of moral excellences, and so combine their images, as to claim the fellowship and promote the edification of the best feelings--what may not be expected of human art, when its own masters shall be pure as itself?

It is doubtful, perhaps, whether the moral power vested in the finer and nobler arts of man, as an auxiliary for the attainment of the most exalted and the holiest of human society, is duly appreciated. The nature of man is always susceptible of the power of music, poetry, painting, and other kindred arts ;--and for this reason, that God, having filled the world and the universe with these qualities, has adapted the nature of man to enjoy them. And there is no place so full of music, so natural to song, or so attractive in its beautiful forms, as heaven itself.

EXCURSION IN SCOTLAND.

First impressions on entering Scotland-Scotch national character

Holyrood House-Charles X.-Duke de Bordeaux-Dutchess de Berri -Queen Mary-Edinburgh--Stirling-Castle Campbell-Rumbling Bridge and Devil's Mill-Affecting Death of a Brother and SisterPerth-Dunsinane Hill and Birnam Wood-Dunkeld-Grampian Hills -The Highlanders-Bagpipes-Inverness-Caledonian Canal-Nep.' tune's Staircase- Ben Nevis-Staffa and Fingal's Cave, &c.

I REMARKED on my first entrance into the territories north of the Tweed, that the countenance and character of man in that region made impressions upon my mind indicating another race than the English. . And the physical features of North Britain are as diverse from those of the South, as is the character of the men to be found there-wild, stern, and hoary. A people born and bred among such hills and vales, familiar with such mountains and lakes, challenging the stronger emotions of the soul, and the bolder flights of fancy, ought to be extraordinary. I never looked out upon the face of that country, but my mind was quickened equally by what strikes the eye, and by historical associations. Scotland would be venerable in her naked majesty, in the eye of a seraph spirit, who on wings should make survey of her face, spread out to the heavens, even in desolate loneliness-if that spirit might be supposed to have any thing of a taste akin to man for the beauties of nature. But she is venerable for the projects which have been conceived by the mind of man, and for the scenes in which man has enacted a part. She has been the cradle of warrior chieftains, whose exploits in heathen story would have given them rank among the gods--and even as it is, they are famed as more than mortal. The wild and romantic rhapsodies of Ossian had their natural occasions and just provo'cations in the physical and moral of the regions where they were conceived. They were not the mere creatures of fancy. Human beings, tenanting such a part of the world, must be bold and aspiring-must be men of high endeavour, and sometimes of mighty achievements. When war was the fashion, they must have been heroic in arms. When Christianity addressed itself to their hearts, they felt its power. When poetry has moved them, they have sung

« AnteriorContinuar »