« AnteriorContinuar »
The crisis so nice is, and past in a trice is.—
He still has a keen eye,
In the drawing-room-look
All the company muster,
In a terrible fluster;
She clangs and she bangs, and she batters and clatters, What a whetting of knives, what a ringing of platters!
To and fro-above-below
Up and down, the footmen go.
The Cook" rules the roast."
Ah, tell me, Muse, do clocks, suns, moons, deceive,
When holy vespers lull the listening wind
When ancient wisdom supp'd, and have I not yet dined?
"Patience, thou young and rose-lipp'd cherubim,”
Art thou not sick of writing for thy meals?
In that dull wilderness of barren time,
'Twixt the last quarter's note of preparation, And the glad chorus of the pealing chime,
The DINNER BELL, the long-wish'd consummation ?
Slow as the squire's old coach in Clag-clay Lane,
As Innovation in the House of Peers,
As Retribution, or Platonic years,
So lingering long each hungry minute passes
Nor yet humanely suffer'd quite to die,
Martyr of knowledge! thus a wretched frog,
Heaving vain sighs for its dear native bog
There's many a sound that poets have call'd sweet,
With swanlike movements, elegantly tardy,
As to usurp, or not to know, her place.
In long array, Earls, Viscounts, Barons, Squires,
Imagination, haste away with me,
For vainly thou the nomenclature connest,
Or terms too hard for any tongue that's honest;
Where gilt-daub'd lacqueys serve us with a sneer,
And the coy maid, whose speech, reserved and slow,
In monosyllables for ever speaking.
Farewell, Sauterne and Hermitage,
The" thin potations" of a sober age;
So-da, and Seltzer's effervescent lymph,
With all your hissing impotence of rage,
Farewell the streamlet, where the mountain nymph
But where shall we the brisk decoction find,
Yet e'en to her one genial drop is given,
Which takes the Tea-tree for the Tree of Knowledge?
Its own, and my unmated lot betrays?
Nay, cheerful herb, I will not seek for thee,
With age, and penury, and poetry.
Since the fine Hyson, and the dark Boheas,
Like wisdom, dwell with children at their knees, (4)
(1.) Hushabie, &c. These "snatches of old song," after descending by oral tradition from generation to generation, like the common law, the poems of Össian, and the mysteries of the Druids, have, in these printing times, been collected and published by the indefatigable industry of the London booksellers. We certainly cannot think them improved by the types; but they are at least harmless, which is more than can be said of all our juvenile literature. The old nursery carol-Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross, has been rendered into Greek by a distinguished scholar, now a mitred pillar of Protestantism, who has, by a laudable pun, converted "Cock-horse" into inaλExтрúv, a compound worthy of Aristophanes.
(2.) Wandering Ceres-See Claudian de Rap. Proser. B. 3.
(3.) Roast Pig. I am aware that this antipathy of my palate will appear tronomic heresy to the incomparable Elia.
"Wisdom doth live with children round her knees."
MONKEYS are certainly, there is no denying it, very like men; and, what is worse, men are still more like Monkeys. Many worthy people, who have a high respect for what they choose to call the Dignity of Human Nature, are much distressed by this similitude, approaching in many cases to absolute identity; and some of them have written books of considerable erudition and ingenuity, to prove that a man is not a monkey, nay, not so much as even an ape; but truth compels us to confess, that their speculations have been far from carrying conviction to our minds. All such inquirers, from Aristotle to Smellie, principally insist on two great leading distinctions-speech and rea
But it is obvious to the meanest capacity, that monkeys have both speech and reason. They have a language of their own, which, though not so capacious as the Greek, is much more so than the Hottentottish; and as for reason, no man of a truly philosophical genius ever saw a monkey crack a nut, without perceiving that the creature possesses that endowment, or faculty, in no small perfection. Their speech, indeed, is said not to be articulate; but it is audibly more so than the Gaelic. The words unquestionably do run into each other, in a way that, to our ears, renders it rather unintelligible; but it is contrary to all the rules of sound philosophizing, to confuse the obtuseness of our own senses with the want of any faculty in others; and they have just as good a right to maintain, and to complain of, our inarticulate mode of speaking, as we have of theirs indeed much more-for monkeys speak the same, or nearly the same, language all over the habit able globe, whereas men, ever since the Tower of Babel, have kept chattering, muttering, humming and haw ing, in divers ways and sundry manners, so that one nation is unable to comprehend what another would be at, and the earth groans in vain with vocabularies and dictionaries. That monkeys and men are one and the same animal, we shall not take upon
ourselves absolutely to assert, for the truth is, we, for one or two, know nothing whatever about the matter; all we mean to say is, that nobody has yet proved that they are not, and farther, that whatever may be the case with men, monkeys have reason and speech. More than this it might be rash to hold; and with the caution, therefore, which distinguishes all our Philosophy from that of the heedless and headlong age in which we flourish, here we place our foot on ground impregnable alike to assault or explosion.
It is flattering to see how all created things, animate and inanimate, imitate humanity-some of them, it must be admitted, most abominably, but, on the whole, with commendable assiduity and success. What can possibly be more like the face of a man than the face of a horse? except, indeed, that of a lion, a tiger, or a sheep. Look attentively at the first team you meet, and either in leader or wheeler you will not fail to recognise a characteristic likeness of some original friend. The long face-the wall eye
the upper or lower lip-the flat cheek-the lantern jaw-the very colt's tooth-the same! Away flies his Majesty's most gracious mail-coach, with a gentleman all in red standing on the stern, as straight as ODoherty, tooting a tin-horn six feet long; and one of the worthiest fellows you know, with a wife and six children, disappears through the turnpike gate, without paying toll, in the shape of a Houyhnhynm at full gallop, and beautifully caparisoned in brass-harness, all spick and span new, on the king's birth-day. Or mount the steps, up and down, into a collection of wild beasts, Pidcock or Wombwell, and turning on the saw-dust to the left, look-pray-at that Lion. Saw ye ever, in all your born days, such a striking likeness-such a noble full-length living portraitnone of your kit-kats, but from tip of the nose to the tip of the tail-of Christopher North? The same calm, grave, thoughtful eyes, that inspire an immediate awe-the same chops,
Monkeyana, or Men in Miniature, designed and etched by Thomas Landseer. Moon, Boys, and Graves. London.
which it is needless to characterize to any one who has seen either North or Nero-the same posture of the paws, fit alike to pat or fell-see, see the same long, red tongue-the yawn discovering a double shiver-de freeze of spike-tusks the same-and hark-hark-Lord preserve us-in with both your hands into your ears -the Roar the Roar! Or, face about to the right, and there is the self-same Editor of Blackwood's Magazine in a royal Bengal Tiger. You imagine you see him leaping along Lisson-Grove, with poor Leigh Hunt in his mouth, as if the Cockney King were no bigger than a mouse. Finally, eyes forward, and what think you of that Persian sheep, with face so pensive, meek and mild, so demure and melancholy, the very image of David Lester Richard son, in the act of perusing that Century of Inventions, each an unpaid-for panegyric on his own genius, which, like a small prolific Bantam, lays an egg a-day during the sonnet-season, and then-cackle-cackle-cackle!
The imitation of humanity is equally apparent in inanimate nature. Look on that pretty, little, white-rinded, airy, yet weeping birch-tree, still in her teens, so murmuring, and so balmy in budding spring, that breathes of summer too, and say if ever you saw a sweeter symbol-nay, it is her very self-of L. E. L., in her virgin elegance and loveliness, charming all eyes, while, as if a breeze came by, her tresses are all a-dance over her forehead, and with poetic lustre irradiate the day. That Sycamore, so bright above, so dark below, with head that loves the sunshine, and stem round which, like living things, the shadows conglomerate-a tent-like tree, beneath whose umbrage might Beauty lie dissolved in delicious tears over some divine lyrical ballad-haply the tale of Ruth, woo'd-won-wedded -deserted in time that, as through dream and vision did she sink," seemed to be all but one dear, dim, delightful day, or Wisdom meditate, in the half-glimmer half-gloom, on the immortality brought to light, not only in Holy Writ, but in the inspirations too of the great poets-that Sycamore, so fair and so august, so beautiful and so magnificent-remindeth it not of the Genius of Wordsworth, the very man himself personified before you in
the shape of a Sylvan, conspicuous to those who can penetrate its haunts among all the trees of the forest?-If ever departed spirits revisit the earth they loved, that Mountain-Ash, call it by its own Scottish name, that Rowantree-with stem straight, smooth, and strong, yet in its abated brightness speaking of the blast-with leaves delicate indeed to look at, and soft to the touch, but imbued with preservative beauty as boldly they rustle to the winds-crowned with a thousand diadems, all blended into one glory_visible from afar,-gaze here, gaze here, Caledonia, and, with the voice of all thy streams, bid hail the Image of thy own Burns illumining the banks and braes o' bonny Doon, while all the linnets break out into delighted lilting among the broom, and the blackbird, on the top of his own tree, sends up his song in chorus to the lark, thick, fast, and wild-warbling beneath the rosy cloud!-Whence comes that fragrant breath upon the woody wilder ness is it from the sweet unseen ground-flowers, or from a tree in blossom somewhere hidden in the shade? Lo! yonder stands the old Hawthorn, white as the very snow-yet, as you approach, 'tis mixed with glorious green, even as the summer sea-wave heaves in foam. Therein the cheerful shilfa builds her nest most beautiful-or therein―hark the crashing and then the flapping wing-as the cushat, ne'er disturbed before, is startled from her shallow couch. Lonely as is the place, yet see on the old rough bark, now hard to read among moss as some ancient inscription on the stone that shades in its cell some solitary spring-the names of lovers fond and faithful of yore, now and long ago sleeping in the mools by each other's side! The roamer thinks of the rural poets that have tuned their pipes to rural loves-and some sweet wild strain touches his ear from the Queen's Wake, or from "Bonny Kilmeny, as she gaed up the glen," or from the rich yet simple melodies which "honest Allan" yet lives to breathe, inspired by the songs of auld Scotland-on whose darkness and dimness, his genius, strong in love, has streamed light like sunbeams, regardless of the more flaunting flowers, and seeking out the primrose and violet in nooks of the untrodden woods!