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palace which she had occupied at Pera, bears a decided and respectable testimony; and, in vindication of her veracity in describing the interior of the seraglio, into which no Christian is now permitted to enter, he observes, that the reigning Sultan of the day, Achmed the Third, was notoriously very regardless of the injunctions of the Koran, and that her Ladyship's visits were paid while the court was in a retirement that enabled him to dispense with many ceremonies. We do not observe any difference between these letters in the present edition, and in the common copies, except that the names of Lady Mary's correspondents are now given at full length, and short notices of their families subjoined, upon their first introduction. At page eighty-nine of the third volume, there are also two short letters, or rather notes, from the Countess of Pembroke, that have not hitherto been made public; and Mr. Pope's letter, describing the death of the two rural lovers by lightning, is here given at full length; while the former editions only contained her Ladyship's answer,-in which we have always thought that her desire to be smart and witty, has intruded itself a little ungracefully into the place of a more amiable feeling.
The next series of letters consists of those written to her sister the Countess of Mar, from 1723 to 1727. These letters have at least as much vivacity, wit, and sarcasm, as any that have been already published; and though they contain little but the anecdotes and scandal of the time, will long continue to be read and admired for the brilliancy and facility of the composition. Though Lady Mary is excessively entertaining in this correspondence, we cannot say, however, that she is either very amiable, or very interesting. There is rather a negation of good affection, we think, throughout; and a certain cold-hearted levity, that borders sometimes upon misanthropy, and sometimes on indecency. The style of the following extracts, however, we are afraid, has been for some time a dead language.
"I made a sort of resolution, at the beginning of my letter, not to trouble you with the mention of what passes here, since you receive it with so much coldness. But I find it is impossible to forbear telling you the metamorphoses of some of your acquaintance, which appear as wondrous to me as any in Ovid. Would any one believe that Lady H*****ss is a beauty, and in love? and that Mrs. Anastasia Robinson is at the same time a prude and a kept mistress? The first of these ladies is tenderly attached to the polite Mr. M***, and sunk in all the joys of happy love, notwithstanding she wants the use of her two hands by a rheumatism, and he has an arm that he cannot move. I wish I could tell you the particulars of this amour; which seems to me as curious as that between two oysters, and as well worth the serious attention of naturalists. The second heroine has engaged half the town in arms, from the nicety of her virtue, which was not able to bear the too near approach of Senesino in the opera; and her condescension in accepting of Lord Peterborough for her champion, who has signalized both his love and courage upon this occasion in as many instances as ever Don Quixote did for Dulcinea. Innumerable have been the disorders between the two sexes on so great an account, besides half the House of Peers being put under arrest. By the Providence of Heaven, and the wise care of his
Majesty, no bloodshed ensued. However, things are now tolerably accommodated; and the fair lady rides thrrough the town in the shining berlin of her 100%. a month, which 'tis said, he allows her. I hero, not to reckon the more solid advantages of will send you a letter by the Count Caylus, whom, if you do not know already, you will thank me for introducing to you. He is a Frenchman, and no fop; which, besides the curiosity of it, is one of the prettiest things in the world."-Vol. iii. pp. 120-122. birth-night; my brain warmed with all the agreeable "I write to you at this time piping-hot from the ideas that fine clothes, fine gentlemen, brisk tunes, and lively dances can raise there. It is to be hoped that my letter will entertain you; at least you will certainly have the freshest account of all passages on that glorious day. First, you must know that I more, I believe in my conscience I made one of led up the ball, which you'll stare at; but what is the best figures there: For, to say truth, people are grown so extravagantly ugly, that we old beauties are forced to come out on show-days, to keep the court in countenance. I saw Mrs. Murray there, through whose hands this epistle will be conveyed; compliment to you that I do. Mrs. West was with her, who is a great prude, having but two lovers at time; I think those are Lord Haddington and Mr. Lindsay; the one for use, the other for show.
I do not know whether she will make the same
"The world improves in one virtue to a violent degree-I mean plain dealing. Hypocrisy being, as the Scripture declares, a damnable sin, I hope our publicans and sinners will be saved by the open profession of the contrary virtue. I was told by a very good author, who is deep in the secret, that at this very minute there is a bill cooking up at a hunting seat at Norfolk, to have not taken out of the commandments, and clapped into the creed, the ensuing session of Parliament. To speak plainly, I am very sorry for the forlorn state of matrimony; which is now as much ridiculed by our young ladies as it used to be by young fellows: In short, both sexes have found the inconveniences of it; and the
appellation of rake is as genteel in a woman as a the maid of honour, looks very well now she is out man of quality: It is no scandal to say Miss again; and poor Biddy Noel has never been quite well since her last confinement. You may imagine we married women look very silly: We have nothing to excuse ourselves, but that it was done a great while ago, and we were very young when we did it."-Vol. iii. pp. 142–145.
"Sixpenny worth of common sense, divided among a whole nation, would make our lives roll away glibly enough: But then we make laws, and we follow customs. By the first we cut off our own pleasures, and by the second we are answerable for the faults and extravagances of others. All these things, and five hundred more, convince me that I have been one of the condemned ever since I was born; and in submission to the Divine Justice, I have no doubt but I deserved it, in some pre-existent state. I will still hope, however, that I am only in purgatory; and that after whining and pining a certain number of years, I shall be translated to some more happy sphere, where virtue will be natural, and custom reasonable; that is, in short, where common sense will reign. I grow very devout, as you see, and place all my hopes in the next life-being totally persuaded of the nothingness of this. Don't you remember how miserable we were in the little parlour, at Thoresby ? we then thought marrying would put us at once into possession of all we wanted. Then came though, after all, I am still of opinion, that it is extremely silly to submit to ill-fortune. One should pluck up a spirit, and live upon cordials; when one can have no other nourishment. These are my present endeavours; and I run about, though I have five thousand pins and needles in my heart. I try to console myself with a small damsel, who is at present every thing I like-but, alas! she is yet in a
white frock. At fourteen she may run away with the butler."-Vol. iii. pp. 178-180.
I cannot deny but that I was very well diverted on the coronation-day. I saw the procession much at my ease, in a house which I filled with my own company; and then got into Westminster-hall without trouble, where it was very entertaining to observe the variety of airs that all meant the same thing. The business of every walker there was to conceal vanity and gain admiration. For these pur poses some languished and others strutted; but a visible satisfaction was diffused over every countenance, as soon as the coronet was clapped on the head. But she that drew the greatest number of eyes was indisputably Lady Orkney. She exposed behind, a mixture of fat and wrinkles; and before, a considerable protuberance, which preceded her. Add to this, the inimitable roll of her eyes, and her grey hairs, which by good fortune stood directly upright, and 'tis impossible to imagine a more delightful spectacle She had embellished all this with considerable magnificence, which made her look as big again as usual; and I should have thought her one of the largest things of God's making, if my Lady St. J***n had not displayed all her charms in honour of the day. The poor Duchess of M***se crept along with a dozen of black snakes playing round her face; and my Lady P**nd (who has fallen away since her dismission from Court) represented very finely an Egyptian mummy embroidered over with hieroglyphics. In general, I could not perceive but that the old were as well pleased as the young and I who dread growing wise more than any thing in the world, was overjoyed to find that one can never outlive one's vanity. I have never received the long letter you talk of, and am afraid that you have only fancied that you wrote it." Vol. iii. pp. 181-183.
The last series of letters, which extends to the middle of the fifth volume, and comes down to the year 1761, consists of those that were addressed by Lady Mary, during her residence abroad, to her daughter the Countess of Bute. These letters, though somewhat less brilliant than those to the Countess of Mar, have more heart and affection in them than any other of her Ladyship's productions; and abound in lively and judicious reflections. They indicate, at the same time, a very great share of vanity; and that kind of contempt and indifference for the world, into which the veterans of fashion are most apt to sink.With the exception of her daughter and her children, Lady Mary seems by this time to have, indeed, attained to the happy state of really caring nothing for any human being; and rather to have beguiled the days of her declining life with every sort of amusement, than to have soothed them with affection or friendship. After boasting of the intimacy in which she lived with all the considerable people in her neighbourhood, she adds, in one of her letters, "The people I see here make no more impression on my mind than the figures on the tapestry, while they are before my eyes. I know one is clothed in blue, and another in red: but out of sight they are so entirely out of memory, that I hardly remember whether they are tall or short."
In spite of all this gaiety, Lady Mary does not appear to have been happy. Her discreet biographer is silent upon the subject of her connubial felicity; and we have no desire to revive forgotten scandals; but it is a fact, which cannot be omitted, that her Ladyship went abroad, without her husband, on account of bad health, in 1739, and did not return to England till she heard of his death in 1761. Whatever was the cause of their separation, however, there was no open rupture; and she seems to have corresponded with him very regularly for the first ten years of her absence. These letters, which occupy the latter part of the third volume, and the beginning of the fourth, are by no means so captivating as most of the preceding. They contain but little wit, and no confidential or striking reflections.They are filled up with accounts of her health and her journeys; with short and general notices of any extraordinary customs she meets with, and little scraps of stale politics, picked up in the petty courts of Italy. They are cold, in short, without being formal; and are gloomy and constrained, when compared with those which were spontaneously written to show her wit, or her affection to her correspondents. She seems extremely anxious to impress her husband with an exalted idea of the honours and distinction with which she was everywhere received; and really seems more elated and surprised than we should have expected the daughter of an English Duke to be, with the attentions that were shown her by the noblesse of Venice, in particular. From this correspondence we are not tempted to make any extract.
The following reflections upon an Italian story, exactly like that of Pamela, are very much in character.
from artifice on one side, and weakness on the other. "In my opinion, all these adventures proceed An honest, tender heart, is often betrayed to ruin by the charms that make the fortune of a designing head; which, when joined with a beautiful face, can never fail of advancement-except barred by a wise mother, who locks up her daughters from view the Duchess of Bolton was educated in solitude, till nobody cares to look on them. My poor friend with some choice of books, by a saint-like governess: Crammed with virtue and good qualities, she thought it impossible not to find gratitude, though she failed to give passion and upon this plan threw away her estate, was despised by her in an alehouse, and produced on the stage, has obhusband, and laughed at by the public. Polly, bred tained wealth and title, aud even found the way to be esteemed!"-Vol. iv. p. 119, 120.
There is some acrimony, and some power of reviling, in the following extract:
"I have only had time to read Lord Orrery's work, which has extremely entertained, and not at all surprised me, having the honour of being acthose danglers after wit, who, like those after quainted with him, and knowing him for one of beauty, spend their whole time in humbly admiring. Dean Swift, by his Lordship's own account, was so intoxicated with the love of flattery, that he sought it amongst the lowest of people, and the silliest of women; and was never so well pleased while he insulted them. His character seems to with any companions as those that worshipped him, me a parallel with that of Caligula; and had he had the same power, he would have made the same use of it. That Emperor erected a temple to himself, where he was his own high-priest, preferred fessed enmity to the human race, and at last lost his horse to the highest honours in the state, prohis life by a nasty jest on one of his inferiors, which I dare swear Swift would have made in his
place. There can be no worse picture made of the Doctor's morals than he has given us himself in the letters printed by Pope. We see him vain, trifling, ungrateful to the memory of his patron, making a servile court where he had any interested views, and meanly abusive when they were disappointed; and, as he says (in his own phrase), flying in the face of mankind, in company with his adorer Pope. It is pleasant to consider, that had it not been for the good nature of these very mortals they contemn, these two superior beings were entitled, by their birth and hereditary fortune, to be only a couple of link-boys. I am of opinion, however, that their friendship would have continued, though they had remained in the same kingdom. It had a very strong foundation-the love of flattery on one side, and the love of money on the other. Pope courted with the utmost assiduity all the old men from whom he could hope a legacy, the Duke of Buckingham, Lord Peterborough, Sir G. Kneller, Lord Bolingbroke, Mr. Wycherly, Mr. Congreve, Lord Harcourt, &c., and I do not doubt projected to sweep the Dean's whole inheritance, if he could have persuaded him to throw up his deanery, and come to die in his house; and his general preaching against money was meant to induce people to throw it away, that he might pick it up."
Vol. iv. pp. 142-147.
Some of the following reflections will appear prophetic to some people; and we really did not expect to find them under the date of
"The confounding of all ranks, and making a jest of order, has long been growing in England; and I perceive, by the books you sent me, has made a very considerable progress. The heroes and heroines of the age, are cobblers and kitchenwenches. Perhaps you will say I should not take my ideas of the manners of the times from such trifling authors; but it is more truly to be found among them, than from any historian: as they write merely to get money, they always fall into the notions that are most acceptable to the present taste. It has long been the endeavour of our English writers, to represent people of quality as the vilest and silliest part of the nation, being (generally) very low-born themselves. I am not surprised at their propagating this doctrine; but I am much mistaken if this levelling principle does not, one day or other, break out in fatal consequences to the public, as it has already done in many private families."
Vol. iv. pp. 223, 224.
They place a merit in extravagant passions; and encourage young people to hope for impossible events, to draw them out of the misery they choose to plunge themselves into; expecting legacies from unknown relations, and generous benefactors to distressed virtue, as much out of nature as fairy treasures."-Vol. iv. pp. 259, 260.
She is not quite so fortunate in her remarks on Dr. Johnson, though the conclusion of the extract is very judicious.
The idea of the following image, we be lieve, is not quite new; but it is expressed in a very lively and striking manner.
"The world is past its infancy, and will no longer be contented with spoon-meat. A collective body like a single individual. When I reflect on the vast of men make a gradual progress in understanding, increase of useful as well as speculative knowledge, the last three hundred years has produced, and that the peasants of this age have more conveniences than the first emperors of Rome had any notion of, I imagine we may now be arrived at that period which answers to fifteen. I cannot think we are older; when I recollect the many palpable follies which are still (almost) universally persisted in. Among these I place that of War-as senseless as the boxing of school-boys; and whenever we come to man's estate (perhaps a thousand years hence), I do not doubt it will appear as ridiculous as the pranks of unlucky lads. Several discoveries will then be made, and several truths made clear, of which we have now no more idea than the ancients had of the circulation of the blood, or the optics of
Sir Isaac Newton."-Vol. v. pp. 15, 16.
her Ladyship declares, that "it is eleven years After observing, that in a preceding letter, since she saw herself in a glass, being so little pleased with the figure she was then beginning to make in it," we shall close these extracts with the following more favourable account of her philosophy.
"I no more expect to arrive at the age of the Duchess of Marlborough, than to that of Methusalem; neither do I desire it. I have long thought myself useless to the world. I have seen one generation pass away, and it is gone; for I think there are very few of those left that flourished in my youth. You will perhaps call these melancholy reflections; but they are not so. There is a quiet after the abandoning of pursuits, something like the rest that follows a laborious day. I tell you this for your comfort. It was formerly a terrifying view to me, that I should one day be an old woman. I now find that nature has provided pleasures for every state. Those only are unhappy who will not be contented with what she gives, but strive to break through her laws, by affecting a perpetuity of youth,-which appears to ine as little desirable "The Rambler is certainly a strong misnomer: at present as the babies do to you, that were the he always plods in the beaten road of his predeces-delight of your infancy. I am at the end of my sors, following the Spectator (with the same pace a paper, which shortens the sermon." pack-horse would do a hunter) in the style that is Vol. iv. pp. 314, 315. proper to lengthen a paper. These writers may, perhaps, be of service to the public, which is saying Lady Mary returned to England, and died Upon the death of Mr. Wortley in 1761, there in October 1762, in the 73d year of her age. From the large extracts which we have been tempted to make from her correspondence, our readers will easily be enabled to judge of the character and genius of this extraordinary woman. A little spoiled by flattery, and not altogether "undebauched by the world," she seems to have possessed a masculine solidity of understanding, great liveliness of fancy, and such powers of observation and discrimination of character, as to give her opinions great authority on all the ordinary subjects of practical manners and conduct. After her marriage, she seems to
a great deal in their favour. There are numbers
I wonder, however, that he does not perceive Tom
have abandoned all idea of laborious or regular study, and to have been raised to the station of a literary character merely by her vivacity and her love of amusement and anecdote. The great charm of her letters is certainly the extreme ease and facility with which every thing is expressed, the brevity and rapidity of her representations, and the elegant simplicity of her diction. While they unite almost all the qualities of a good style, there is nothing of the professed author in them: nothing that seems to have been composed, or to have engaged the admiration of the writer. She appears to be quite unconscious either of merit or of exertion in what she is doing; and never stops to bring out a thought, or to turn an expression, with the cunning of a practised rhetorician. The letters from Turkey will probably continue to be more universally read than any of those that are now given for the first time to the public; have no desire to awaken forgotten scandals because the subject commands a wider and by so idle a controversy. Pope was undoubtmore permanent interest, than the personali-edly a flatterer, and was undoubtedly suffities and unconnected remarks with which the ciently irritable and vindictive; but whether rest of the correspondence is filled. At the his rancour was stimulated, upon this occasame time, the love of scandal and of private sion, by any thing but caprice or jealousy, history is so great, that these letters will be and whether he was the inventor or the echo highly relished, as long as the names they of the imputations to which he has given nocontain are remembered;-and then they toriety, we do not pretend to determine. Lady will become curious and interesting, as ex- Mary's character was certainly deficient in hibiting a truer picture of the manners and that cautious delicacy which is the best guarfashions of the time, than is to be found in dian of female reputation; and there seems to most other publications. have been in her conduct something of that intrepidity which naturally gives rise to misconstruction, by setting at defiance the maxims of ordinary discretion.
Of Lady Mary's friendship and subsequent rupture with Pope, we have not thought it necessary to say any thing; both because we are of opinion that no new lights are thrown upon it by this publication, and because we
The Fifth Volume contains also her Ladyship's poems, and two or three trifling papers that are entitled her Essays. Poetry, at least
THIS is really a very good book; and not less instructive in its moral, and general scope, than curious and interesting in its details. It is a mixture of Biography and History-and avoids the besetting sins of both species of composition-neither exalting the hero of the biography into an idol, nor deforming the history of a most agitated period with any spirit of violence or exaggeration. It is written, on the contrary, as it appears to us, with singular impartiality and temper-and the style is not less remarkable than the sentiments: For though it is generally elegant and spirited, it is without any of those peculiarities which the age, the parentage, and the country of the author, would lead us to expect:-And we may say, indeed, of the whole work, looking both to the matter and the manner, that it has no defects from which it could be gathered that it was written either by a Young man-or an Irishman-or by the Son of the person whose history it professes to record-though it has attractions which probably could not have
the polite and witty sort of poetry which Lady Mary has attempted, is much more of an art than prose-writing. We are trained to the latter, by the conversation of good society; but the former seems always to require a good deal of patient labour and application. This her Ladyship appears to have disdained; and accordingly, her poetry, though abounding in lively conceptions, is already consigned to that oblivion in which mediocrity is destined, by an irrevocable sentence, to slumber till the end of the world. The Essays are extremely insignificant, and have no other merit, that we can discover, but that they are very few and very short.
The Life of the Right Honourable John Philpot Curran, late Master of the Rolls in Ireland. By his Son, WILLIAM HENRY CURRAN, Barrister-at-law. 8vo. 2 vols. pp. 970. London: 1819.
existed under any other conditions. The distracting periods of Irish story are still almost too recent to be fairly delineated-and no Irishman, old enough to have taken a part in the transactions of 1780 or 1798, could well be trusted as their historian-while no one but a native, and of the blood of some of the chief actors, could be sufficiently acquainted with their motives and characters, to communicate that life and interest to the details which shine out in so many passages of the volumes before us. The incidental light which they throw upon the national character and state of society in Ireland, and the continual illustrations they afford of their diversity from our own, is perhaps of more value than the particular facts from which it results; and stamp upon the work the same peculiar attraction which we formerly ascribed to Mr. Hardy's life of Lord Charlemont.
To qualify this extraordinary praise, we must add, that the limits of the private and the public story are not very well observed,
nor the scale of the work very correctly regu- | plaud. We suspect, indeed, from various lated as to either; so that we have alternately passages in these volumes, that the Irish too much and too little of both :-that the standard of good conversation is radically dif style is rather wordy and diffuse, and the ex- ferent from the English; and that a tone of tracts and citations too copious; so that, on the exhibition and effect is still tolerated in that whole, the book, like some others, would be country, which could not be long endured in improved by being reduced to little more than good society in this. A great proportion of half its present size-a circumstance which the colloquial anecdotes in this work, confirm makes it only the more necessary that we us in this belief-and nothing more than the should endeavour to make a manageable ab- encomium bestowed on Mr. Curran's own constract of it, for the use of less patient readers. versation, as abounding in "those magical Mr. Curran's parentage and early life are transitions from the most comic turns of now of no great consequence. He was born, thought to the deepest pathos, and for ever however, of respectable parents, and received bringing a tear into the eye before the smile a careful and regular education. He was a was off the lip." In this more frigid and faslittle wild at college; but left it with the char- tidious country, we really have no idea of a acter of an excellent scholar, and was univer- man talking pathetically in good company,— sally popular among his associates, not less and still less of good company sitting and cryfor his amiable temper than his inexhaustible ing to him. Nay, it is not even very COLSOvivacity. He wrote baddish verses at this nant with our notions, that a gentleman should time, and exercised himself in theological dis- be "most comical.” courses: for his first destination was for the Church; and he afterwards took to the Law, very much to his mother's disappointment and mortification-who was never reconciled to the change and used, even in the meridian of his fame, to lament what a mighty preacher had been lost to the world, and to exclaim, that, but for his versatility, she might have died the mother of a Bishop! It was better as it was. Unquestionably he might have been a very great preacher; but we doubt whether he would have been a good parish priest, or even an exemplary bishop.
As to the taste and character of Mr. Curran's oratory, we may have occasion to say a word or two hereafter.-At present, it is only necessary to remark, that besides the public exercitations now alluded to, he appears to have gone through the most persevering and laborious processes of private study, with a view to its improvement-not only accustoming himself to debate imaginary cases alone, with the most anxious attention, but "reciting perpetually before a mirror," to acquire a graceful gesticulation! and studiously imitating the tone and manner of the most celebrated speakers. The authors from whom he chiefly borrowed the matter of these solitary declamations were Junius and Lord Bolingbroke and the poet he most passionately admired was Thomson. He also used to declaim occasionally from Milton-but, in his maturer age, came to think less highly of that great poet. One of his favourite exercises was the funeral oration of Antony over the body of Cæsar, as it is given by Shakespeare; the frequent recitation of which he used to recommend to his young friends at the Bar, to the latest period of his life.
He was called to the Bar in 1775, in his twenty-fifth year-having rather imprudently
Irish lawyers are obliged to keep their terms in London; and, for the poorer part of them, it seems to be but a dull and melancholy noviciate. Some of his early letters, with which we are here presented, give rather an amiable and interesting picture of young Curran's feelings in this situation-separated at once from all his youthful friends and admirers, and left without money or recommendation in the busy crowds of a colder and more venal people. During the three years he passed in the metropolis, he seems to have entered into no society, and never to have come in contact with a single distinguished individual. He saw Garrick on the stage, and Lord Mansfield on the bench; and this ex-married two years before-and very soon athausts his list of illustrious men in London. tained to independence and distinction. There His only associates seem to have been a few is a very clever little disquisition introduced of his countrymen, as poor and forlorn as him- here by the author, on the very different, and self. Yet the life they lived seems to have almost opposite taste in eloquence which has been virtuous and honourable. They con- prevailed at the Bar of England and Ireland tracted no debts, and committed no excesses. respectively; the one being in general cold Curran himself rose early, and read dili- and correct, unimpassioned and technical; the gently till dinner; and, in the evening, he other discursive, rhetorical, and embellished usually went, as much for improvement as or encumbered, with flights of fancy and aprelaxation, to a sixpenny debating club. For peals to the passions. These peculiarities the a long time, however, he was too nervous and author imputes chiefly to the difference in the timid to act any other part than that of an au- national character and general temperament ditor, and did not find even the germ of that of the two races, and to the unsubdued and singular talent which was afterwards improved unrectified prevalence of all that is characterto such a height, till it was struck out as it istic of their country in those classes out of were by an accidental collision in this obscure which the Juries of Ireland are usually searena. There is a long account of this in the lected. He ascribes them also, in part, to the book before us, as it is said to have been re- circumstance of almost all the barristers of peatedly given by Mr. C. himself-but in a distinction having been introduced, very early style which we cannot conscientiously ap- in life, to the fierce and tumultuary arena of