Page images

"That he who thus enthusiastic- falls. The mercury here stood at 29.68 inches. I then moved the instrument to another rock within ten or twelve feet of the edge of the fall, where it was placed by means of a levelling instrument exactly at the same height as in the first instance. It still stood at 29.68; and the only difference I could observe was a slight continuous vibration of about two or three hundredths of an inch, at intervals of a few seconds. Cap tain Hall ascribes the difficulty of breathing felt by parties visiting this celebrated water-fall to the simple agitation of the air by percussion.

ally apprehended, and thus exquisitely painted, the artless beauty and solemnity of the feelings and thoughts that ennoble the life of the Scottish peasant, could witness observances in which the very highest of these redeeming influences are most pow. erfully and gracefully displayed, and yet describe them in a vein of unmixed merriment-that the same man should have produced the Cottar's Saturday Night and the Holy Fair about the same time-will ever continue to move wonder and regret.

"It can hardly be doubted that the author of the Cottar's Saturday Night had felt, in his time, all that any man can feel in the contemplation of the most sublime of the religious observances of his country; and as little, that had he taken up the subject of this rural sacrament in a solemn mood, he might have produced a piece as gravely beautiful as his Holy Fair is quaint, graphic, and picturesque. It is surely just that we should pay most attention to what he has delivered under the gravest sanction. In noble natures, we may be sure, the source of tears lies nearer the heart than that of smiles."


Captain Basil Hall in his excursion through the United States last autumn, paid a visit to the celebrated Falls of Niagara, with the view of determining a question, which had been mooted by several scientific men-whether the pressure or elasticity of the air is not increased in the immediate vicinity of a sheet of falling water? In describing the experiment to Professor Silliman, Captain Hall says:As a first step, I placed the barometer at the distance of about one hundred and fifty feet from the extreme western end of the fall, on a flat rock, as nearly as possible on a level with the top of the talus or back of shingle lying at the base of the overhanging cliff, from which the cataract descends. This station was about thirty perpendicular feet above the pool or basin into which the water


A gentleman, some years ago, be ing upon a visit to the Escurial, after having spent some hours in viewing the splendid collection of paintings, was shown over the several towers of this stupendous edifice. He re marked to the Monk who had, with great civility and attention, pointed out everything deserving notice, that he was much surprised there were no lightning conductors attached to any part of the building. "We can have no occasion for them," said he, crossing himself very devoutly, "as we have relics of Santa Barbara in eve ry one of the towers." About a fortnight after this conversation, one of the principal towers was completely destroyed by lightning. Upon the gentleman's subsequently revisit ing the monastery, he ventured to represent to the Monk, the inefficiency of the relics of which he had so much boasted. "The only way in which we can account for Santa Bat bara's having so neglected us," re plied the monk, shrugging up shoulders, " is, that she must have been angry with us for some sius that we had committed."




A captain in the navy meeting friend as he landed at Portsmouth Point, boasted that he had left his whole ship's company the happiest fellows in the world. "How so?" asked his friend. "Why, I have

just flogged seventeen, and they are happy it is over; and all the rest are happy that they have escaped."


In the year 1821, a young Englishman, (seventeen years of age,) left Madrid in the diligence for Yrun. About seven leagues from Madrid, at two in the morning, the diligence was stopped by a band of robbers, who ordered the whole of the passengers to alight forthwith, and then bound them with cords. The banditti immediately lighted a number of torches, and proceeded to ransack the vehicle. The young Englishman having a great passion for drawing, and conceiving it to be a picturesque scene, managed to slip the cords from his hands, took out his sketch book, and began very coolly to commit it to paper. The robbers were So struck with the extraordinary en thusiasm of the young man, that they permitted him to continue his sketch, and left his property untouched, although they took possession of the smallest articles from every other passenger. The Danish Secretary of Legation at Madrid, who was one of the party, was stripped to his shirt: his elegant travelling cap was changed for an old Castilian Montero. He had a ring on his finger which, though intrinsically of little value, he much prized; and by way of preserving it, told one of the robbers that it had been so many years on his finger, that it was impossible to get it off. "Tenemos cuchillos," we have knives," said the ruffian, coolly. Upon this information the finger instinctively shrunk, and the ring was immediately delivered.



"but then it is no sooner off than it is on."


Fletcher, of Saltoun, is well known to have possessed a most irritable temper. His footman desiring to be dismissed, "Why do you leave me ?" "Because, to speak the truth, I cannot bear your temper." "To be sure, I am passionate, but

said he.


near the

About half a century ago, when it was more the fashion to drink ale at Oxford than it is at present, a humorous fellow, of punning memory, established an alehouse pound, and wrote over his door, "Ale sold by the pound." As his ale was as good as his jokes, the Oxonians resorted to his house in great numbers, and sometimes staid there beyond the college hours. This was made a matter of complaint to the Vice Chancellor, who was directed to take away his license, by one of the Proctors of the University. Boniface was summoned to attend, and when he came into the Vice Chancellor's presence, he began hawking and spitting about the room; this the Chancellor observed, and asked what he meant by it? "Please your worship," said he, "I came here on purpose to clear myself." The Vice Chancellor imagined that he actually weighed his ale and sold it by the pound; "is that true ?" "No, an't please your worship," replied the wit. "How do you, then ?" said the Chancellor.. "Very well I thank you, Sir," replied he, "how do you do?" The Chancellor laughed, and said, "Get away for a rascal; l'íí say no more to you." The fellow departed, and crossing the quadrangle met the Proctor who laid the information. "Sir," said he, “the chancellor wants to speak to you ;" and returned with him. "Here, Sir," said he, when he came into the Chancellor's presence, "You sent me for a rascal, and I've brought you the greatest that I know of.".


Hartlib, the friend of Milton, pensioned by Cromwell for his agricul tural writings, says, that old men in his days remembered the first gardeners that came over to Surrey, (Eng.) and sold turnips, carrots, parsnips, early peas, and rape, which

my passion is no sooner on than it is were then great rarities, being imported from Holland. Cherries and

off," "Yes," replied the servant,

hops were first planted, he says, in the reign of Henry VIII.; artichokes and currants made their appearance in the time of Elizabeth: but even at the end of this latter period cherries were brought from Flanders; onions, saffron, and liquorice, from Spain; and hops from the Low Countries. Potatoes, which were first known in these islands about the year 1586, continued for nearly a century to be cultivated in gardens as a curious exotic, and furnished a luxury only for tables of the richest persons in the kingdom. It appears in a manuscript account of the household expenses of Queen Anne, wife of James I., that the price of potatoes was then 1s. the pound.

Mr. Uniake, the barrister, in his letter to Lord Eldon, sums up not less than sixty statutes passed as lately as the session of 1824, expressly, as their titles import, for the purpose of amending and continuing, and repealing, and removing doubts, and explaining, and rendering effect ual, and altering, and suspending, and facilitating the execution of other acts previously passed.

There are few labourers of either sex who live to old age unmarried; scarcely any, it has been said, of tolerable character; and this remark may be confirmed by any person's observation.

Nothing wearies me more than to see a young lady at home, sitting with her arms across, or twirling her thumbs for want of something to do. Poor thing! I always pity her, for I am sure her head is empty, and that she has not the sense even to devise the means of pleasing herself.

He who expects to find the husbandman flourishing while the manufacturers are out of employ; or the tradesman, on the other hand, in prosperity, while the farmer is in distress, let him," as Fuller says, "try whether one side of his face can smile while the other is pinched."


The use of "Your humble servant" came first into England on the marriage of Queen Mary, daughter of Henry IV. of France, which is derived from votre tres humble serviteur. The usual salutation before that time was, "God keep you," "God be with you;" and among the vulgar, "How dost do?" with a thump on the shoulder.


The Capitan Pasha, Gazi Hassan, was a man of extraordinary boldness: he applied himself with unremitting zeal to the formation of an effective navy; and under his protection, a nautical academy was opened ia 1773, in which instructions were given by an Algerine, not deficient in practical abilities. Before this time the Turks knew nothing of na vigation, and were almost ignorant of the use of the compass, as was remarked by Boscovich. The best models of naval architecture were procured from Deptford and Toulos, European artists were engaged; docks were constructed by a Swede, named Rodé; the great natural resources of the empire-the forests of Taurus, and the mines of Trebisond -were put in requisition, and Brua, Benoit, and Spurring, launched in the port of Constantinople some of the finest vessels of which any nation could boast.

It affords us pleasure to announce a new volume of Poems by L. E. L The two principal pieces are Venetian Bracelet and the Lost Pleiad; the former being, we under stand, more of a connected narrative or story than this delightful song. stress has hitherto attempted. The Golden Violet, notwithstanding the large impression printed, is rapidly following the Troubadour and Inprovisatrice into new editions; a proof of the correctness of our opi nion, that the poetry of L. E. L. is of that fine order which not only commands present admiration, but everlasting fame.

NO. 9.]






HERE never has been an European nation in which this writer could have arisen, and have been what he is, for so long a time, except only the dominions of George IV. He has existed by nothing but the freedom of the press; and therefore England alone, or revolutionary France, could have furnished him with the necessary field. In France his talents would have placed him at the head of a party, and he would have found the shoulders of his supporters but steps to the guillotine, But it is in England, and here only, that he could have been produced, here only, that he could become what he is, the ablest of mob writers, the least successful of public men; the opponent whose abuse is the most virulent, and at the same time the least regarded; the most vigorous adversary of the aristocracy, yet the most despised laughing-stock of the people; the most uniformly obnoxious to the general mind, yet the most strenuous friend to every time-honoured prejudice; the politician, who with the largest fertility of talent and the most unwearied industry has failed in every thing he has undertaken; and yet with a kind of blundering omnipotence, still continues to amuse, to excite, and sometimes even to terrify society. Without a great mass of democratic opinion he would have had nothing on which to act, or whereby to sus tain himself; without considerable 41 ATHENEUM, VOL. 9, 2d series.

[VOL. 9, N. S.

freedom of discussion, he never could have wielded his weapons; but for the general consciousness of great evils in our social system, he would have wanted objects which men would endure to hear denounced; and if we were not governed by the deeply founded predominance of an aristocracy, his abilities must at some time or other have enabled him to profit by occasion, and perhaps to raise a permanent power on a popularity, which has now long departed, and for ever.

Mr. Cobbett is the natural outgrowth of our soil; and as he could not have existed in any other country, so he can scarcely be understood by any but Englishmen. In France, Italy and Spain, the body who misgovern the nation have little power of perverting the opinions of the instructed classes, and therefore politics in these countries have been commonly studied as a science, and reduced to general principles. These are taken for granted by the persons who would now discuss such subjects, and the attempt to argue on any other grounds would only produce contempt and ridicule. But as the class by whom political power is held in this country are an aristocracy, supported partly by privileges and partly by wealth, the combined influence of these enables them to guide in a great degree the direction of public opinion, and prevent the universal reception of any determi

nate political maxims to which every one might at once appeal in any question of the abuse of authority. This accounts, in a great degree, for the extreme ignorance and vacillation of Mr. Cobbett's reasonings, and also for the favourable reception which some of them have met with. But the indifference to wide and abstract truth, with regard to men's social interests, is by no means the only cause for the occasional popularity and constant notoriety of this singular author. He is really a man of very rare and particularly applicable abilities. He knows nothing, to be sure, of metaphysics, and is not very deeply versed in the higher mathematics. We doubt whether he could write a Greek ode, or price a Raphael, or comprehend Faust. But, on ordinary political subjects, his argument is wonderfully lucid and powerful. He deduces his conclusions so shortly, that we never lose sight of their connection with the premises. He states his reasoning in such homely and energetic language, and so impregnates it with all the force of the feeling which he wishes to excite, sets it in such a va riety of lights, strengthens it with so much of fresh familiar illustration, and sharpens it with such cutting sarcasm, that there probably never was a writer whose paragraphs, taken singly, are so well calculated to carry along the minds of the less instructed classes: and, besides the qualities we have mentioned, there is, through all his works, an easy and negligent superiority, which gives an imposing look of conscious power. The most characteristic of his distinctions undoubtedly is, that he never wrote a sentence which is not intelligible at the first glance. The next point which marks him out from all the other authors of the time is, the inimitable energy of his scurrility: a merit the display of which is certainly not restrained by any very scrupulous delicacy, but shows itself in so bold-faced an exuberance, that, if one were inclined to make a Dic tionary of our language, divided into

different classes of words, the commercial, the metaphysical, the laudatory, and so forth, a complete cata logue of the vituperative might certainly be collected from the writings of Mr. Cobbett. His third great glory is, an unparalleled impudence, an effrontery so excessive, as absolutely to have in it something of the awful. It is not the peasant trampling upon princes, nor the corporal treating the Duke of Wellington with an easy superiority; but the man of a thousand inconsistencies, and an almost universal ignorance, quietly taking for granted, as a mat ter settled years ago, that he himself, and he alone, is the fountain of all wisdom, that he holds in his hands the fate of England, and that he has prophesied, to the letter, every thing which was, and is still to happen, upon earth. This it is which sets our author at such an immeasurable distance above every one else, that he is undoubtedly the most amusing of mountebanks-the most sublime of quacks.

The great defect of his mind (barring common honesty) is his utter incapacity to generalize. He has a peculiar hatred to broad principles,

partly because they require the exertion of a larger intellect than his,

partly because if he ever recog nized one such rule, he might find it อก inconvenient restraint on his future laxity of lucubration; but chiefly, we believe, because he came upon the political stage with the formed habits of early life, which taught him to apply to every parti cular case, for itself, a sort of over bearing clownish shrewdness, such as is nourished among fields and farm-yards, speaks the language of the country market, and savours of crops and cattle. He never, there fore, attempts to compress into his robust and homespun sentences any guiding or standard propositions: but with the most ostentatiously sim ple subtlety, narrows to the utter most the premises, or widens the conclusion, and by some bold knockdown reference to partial experience,

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »