ページの画像
PDF
ePub

not a schoolfellow, Robert Jameson, to whom he afterwards addressed a series of beautiful sonnets; but with this exception he had, strictly speaking, no mates, and formed no friendships. He stood apart,-admired and beloved by all, but without intimacy. He could do nothing for or with his schoolfellows,* except to construe their lessons, and to tell them tales.

In the latter capacity he stood, I believe, quite alone. Other boys may have displayed more invention, and perhaps greater originality, though none such have come under my observation; but what

* With two of these, however, he afterwards lived on terms not of intimacy only, but of the most affectionate friendship. The first of these, Owen, third son of Mr. Charles Lloyd, on whom a portion of his father's tender spirit and refined intelligence had descended, was curate of Langdale, having returned to the haunts of his boyhood, to be for a while an example of the gentlest piety,—and to die. He did not go to the grave

“Without the meed of some melodious tear."

The lines to the memory of Owen Lloyd, printed in this collection, will show in what estimation he was held by his poet-friend.

The other survived him-not long. Eminently favoured by Nature in person and intellect, gallant, accomplished, generous, he too had returned to the lakes and mountainstreams which he had frequented when a boy. He brought back with him from a torrid clime the remains of an impetuous spirit, a soldier's graceful bearing, a cultivated mind, and blighted health. Eheu! Herberte.

he did his achievement, if I may so express myself, as a story-teller was unique. It was not by a series of tales, but by one continuous tale, regularly evolved, and possessing a real unity, that he enchained the attention of his auditors, night after night, as we lay in bed, (for the time and place, as well as the manner in which he carried on his witchery, might have been adopted from Scheherezade,) for a space of years, and not unfrequently for hours together. This enormous romance, far exceeding in length, I should suppose, the compositions of Calprenede, Scudery, or Richardson, though delivered without premeditation, had a progressive story, with many turns and complications, with salient points recurring at intervals, with a suspended interest varying in intensity, and occasionally wrought up to a very high pitch, and at length a final catastrophe and conclusion. Whether in the sense of Aristotle it could be said to have had a beginning, a middle, and an end, whether there was a perfect consistency, and subordination of parts, I will not trust my recollection to decide. There was certainly a great variety of persons sharply characterised, who appeared on the stage in combination and not merely in succession. In the conception of these, my impression is that very considerable power was evinced. He spoke without hesitation, in language

as vivid as it was flowing. This power of improvisation he lost, or conceived himself to lose, when he began the practice of written composition.

The moral of the tale, though neither very original nor particularly edifying, was characteristic both of himself and of the time. It turned upon the injustice of society, and the insufficiency of conventional morals to determine the right or wrong of particular actions.*

It is instructive to remark that the power here exhibited, did not place him at first much in advance of other clever boys in the use of the pen. He had to pass through the ordinary process of learning, and his peculiar powers seemed to have been suspended during the operation. His themes

* The hero of this tale bore the name of Haratti, an imperfect echo of his own. The best-drawn characters were a subtle, intellectual villain, Scauzan, and his father, a man of gigantic stature, outlawed and persecuted through the machinations of his son. The latter played the quasi-supernatural part, of which such effective use was afterwards made by Scott, as in the character of Meg Merrilies, Norna, &c. The struggles between parental affection and resentment against the injuries of his son were, I remember, powerfully depicted. It will be no matter of surprise that the rhapsodist sometimes lulled his hearers, tired schoolboys, to sleep; but the interest excited was occasionally so great as to become painful. It bore no name. We called it “ The Tale,” or rather the “Tale-Telling," with the usual deflections of school-boy phraseology; but when it drew to a close, he surnamed it “ The Virtuous Robbers.”

and verses were well-composed and sensible, but do not exhibit any remarkable precocity. They were, strictly speaking, exercises. He was acquiring, not without visible effort, the use of his tools. Perhaps a sense of difficulty, a struggle, is a more hopeful sign in a young writer, than premature facility.

It was among the advantages never to be forgotten of our school-days, that we had the opportunity of constant intercourse with Mr. Wordsworth and his family. It was in the library at Allan Bank, in the vale of Grasmere, where the great bard at that time resided, that Hartley carried on his English studies, and acquired in a desultory manner a taste for literary inquiries, and no inconsiderable amount of knowledge. This privilege was continued after Mr. Wordsworth had removed his residence to Rydal. It was at this early period. that he became acquainted with the poet, now Professor Wilson, then residing at his beautiful seat, Elleray, on the banks of Windermere, who became from that time, and continued to the last, one of his kindest friends. In his later years my brother looked back upon the hours which he spent at Elleray, as among the happiest of his life.

He has himself recorded the pleasure and profit which he derived from his visits at New Brathay, the seat of John Harden, Esq., a gentleman of varied, accomplishments and most engaging manners-

(that social charm which bespoke him the countryman of Sheridan and Moore). It was to Mr. Harden that he owed his early and intimate acquaintance with the works of Hogarth.* His intercourse with Mr. Lloyd † was neither less delightful nor less instructive. It was so, rather than by a regular course of study, that he was educated;-by desultory reading, by the living voice

* Ignoramus on the Fine Arts, No. III. Essays and Marginalia, Vol. I. p. 265.

+ Charles Lloyd was a man of subtle intellect, highly, but not healthfully, cultivated; of warm benevolence, and an acute moral sense, with extreme refinement of manners, and a sensitiveness of feeling always morbid, and in the end destructive of his mental sanity. His latter years were spent at Versailles, where he died. When I knew him, he used to soothe his disordered nerves by music, by digging in his garden, or more commonly by knitting. He was the author of a novel, “Edmund Oliver,” of some remarkable poetry, and of a translation of Alfieri.

My brother, in one of his latest reminiscences, thus reverts to his early intercourse with this remarkable man :"

I remember dear Charles Lloyd reading Pope's . Translation of Statius,' in the little drawing-room at Old Brathay. The room, the furniture, the little 12mo. Pope, are all before me. He highly commended the following lines :

*Yet who, before, more popularly bow'd ?
Who more propitious to the suppliant crowd ?
Patient of right, familiar in the throne ?
What wonder then ? He was not then alone.'”

Lloyd appreciated Pope as rightly as any man I ever knew, which I ascribe partly to his intelligent enjoyment of French

VOL. I.

e

« 前へ次へ »