unison. When the errors of such persons, and the sources of those errors, are pointed out, as in the present instance, not with malevolence or treachery, but in the serious tone of exhortation, and with deep regret for their consequences, surely we ought not to forego the investigation of them, from the fear that we may find ourselves compelled to condemn where we would rather admire and venerate. Of all the social ties, those of conjugal love are the most important, the most delightful, the most holy; and when those ties, are violeritly rent asunder, they are the virtuous who suffer acutely, and whose hearts are broken :-the vicious triumph, reckless of the misery they have occasioned.

That Lord Nelson, in consequence of his acquaintance with Lady Hamilton, subjected himself to the imputation of having practised this species of cruelty, cannot be denied; and those who deprecate the exposure of the disgraceful consequences depicted in the pages before us, might with equal reason censure certain ancient writers, for their malignity' in informing is that Mark Anthony was deceived, betrayed, and ruined by the wiles of Cleopatra. But, though we are unwilling to load feminine weakness with the heaviest condemnation, we cannot avoid thinking the unsuspecting warmth of heart which falls into the snare laid for it, far less criminal, than the cold-blooded vanity which deliberately spreads the net, and can anticipate with savage delight, the tears which will be shed by the innocent upon the capture of the victim. How far Lady Hamilton comes under this censure, it remains for us to examine.

The contemplation of Lady H.'s character and conduct, will forcibly exhibit how much the unbounded love of admiration is at variance with all that is worthy of being admired; and how incessantly it seeks for gratification at the expense of that modesty and simplicity, which give to either personal or intellectual graces their most attractive charm.

Mrs. Hannah More has justly remarked, that. If the educa6 tion of women formerly resembled that of a confectioner, it o is now too much like that of an actress.' The subject of these Memoirs is a striking example, that accomplishments which are acquired almost entirely for the sake of popular admiration, are very much at variance with the unassuming virtues of private life. The bloom of Lady Hamilton's life was passed in servitude, chiefly among fashionable families in London. Her biographer informs us, that “ To a figure of ( uncommon elegance, were added features perfectly regular, 6 with a countenance of such indescribable sweetness of ex

• pression, as fixed the beholder in admiration. The airiness ,' of her form gave a peculiar grace to her movements, and

as this censure, itim. Howed by the

onance ibitione

[ocr errors]

(such was the flexibility of her limbs, that she might have

been considered as a mountain nymph.' To these attractions were added a musical voice, a fine ear, a retentive memory, a turn for mimickry, and a passion for theatrical entertainments, which unfortunately for herself, she had frequent opportunities of indulging.

When we consider what are the manners of servants in fashionable families, and the examples set them by their superiors, we must in candour acknowledge, that the youthful Emma, profusely endowed with personal graces and mental readiness, but totally uninstructed in religious principles or moral propriety, was placed in a situation of no , common danger; when, therefore, we say that she soon became' vain, bold, and licentious, we merely state the almost unavoidable consequences of the situation into which she was thrown. We will not follow her through those gradations from guilty splendour down to the sad state of unpitied misery, by which a life of meretricious notoriety is invariably marked. Necessity and despair compelled her to undergo degradations, which in themselves must be deemed justly merited punishment for the misconduct which reduced her to them. The painter and the sculptor profited by her necessities, to improve their art, by contemplating that beauty which, thus exposed, could no longer retain a charm for those who justly estimate purity of soul; and the sighs which her wounded modesty heaved, expired unheard, while her vanity listened with delight to the plaudits of admiration.

Among those persons who were most lavish in the language of adulation, and perhaps the sincerest in the feelings which dictated it, was Romney the painter, who at different times exhibited to the public the features of his favourite model, in the character of a Circe with her magic wand, a Calypso, a Magdalen, a wood nymph, a Bacchante, the Pythian priestess on her tripod, a Saint Cecilia, and as a personification of Sensibility. Our Author reprobates in terms of virtuous indignation, the attempt on the part of Mr. Hayley, to throw a veil of sentimental delicacy over Romney's attachment to the subject of these Memoirs. The biographer of Cowper, appears indeed but ill employed in eulogizing the fine feelings and the social affections of a libertine. Romney was more true to nature in depicting Lady Ilaroilton in the character of Circe, than under the personification of Sensibility. When we recollect that she could voluntarily and carelessly forego the caresses of her own children, we cannot look with much delight upon her nursing the sensitive plant, though any incongruity between the sign and the thing signified, could not be expected to present itself to Romney, who, we are told by

i bis biographer, delighted in the innocent endearments and opening graces of infancy, and possessed a heart painfully alive to the dictates of tenderness; but who could entirely abandon the excellent and unoffending wife of his youthful choice, and his infant family, lest bis acknowledgement of them should interfere with his advancement in his art.

About this time Lady Hamilton formed an acquaintance with Mr. Greville, nephew to the gentleinan from whom she afterwards derived her title and her importance in society, and well known in the higher circles for the elegance of his ad- . dress. · Surrounded by men of genius and of polished exterior, it may easily be imagined, that her understanding and her manners daily exhibited proportionate improvement. Her taste, particularly in music and in painting, rapidly developed itself, and her skill in recitation enabled her frequently to fill up those languid intervals, which familiar intercourse is sure to give birth to when unsupported by esteem. To defer, however, is not to prevent. Her connexion with Mr. Greville came to the end common to such connexions ; it died the natural death of satiety : but he with more consideration for the interests of his mistress, than for the honour of his relation, contrived to introduce her to Sir William Hamilton, under appearances so favourable, that his adiniration of her terminated in marriage. From this time Lady Hamilton's ambition seems : to have taken a wider flight, and for the exhibition of abilities like hers, the intriguing and dissipated court of Naples was an appropriate sphere. The character of Sir William Hamilton is delineated in these pages with great impartiality ; his choice of a wife is excused on account of the deception practised upon him by those whom his own integrity prevented him from suspecting; his taste in the fine arts is acknowledged, but his devotion to them at a time when the high duties of his station demanded all his attention, is justly condemned ; more especially as he seemed occasionally to be influenced by the feelings of a merchant or a broker, rather than of a scholar and an antiquary.

The commencement of Lady Hamilton's acquaintance with Lord Nelson, the disgust with which the native honesty and noble simplicity of his soul at first recoiled from the associates with whom she was surrounded, and the dissipation of her habits, are detailed in a plain and undisguised manner. The gradual subjugation of the energies of a hero by the flatteries of a syren, cannot be contemplated without pain. The errors of political conduct, to which the influence of Lady Hamilton gave rise at Naples, are forcibly represented; and surely if it be of any importance in the history of human actions, to trace back consequences to their causes, such a representation

must be highly instructive. The execution of Carraccioli, on board Nelson's ship, is severely reprobated. Whatever advocates that arbitrary assumption of power may have found in the convenient doctrine of expediency, we believe there is no one who will venture to admire Lady Hamilton, for going upon deck to witness the miserable end of this aged nobleman, whose life was terminated by his being hanged at the yard-arm ; the disgrace of which mode of death was so terrible to him, that · as a last entreaty he earnestly pleaded to have it altered, but he pleaded in vain! Let us never again be told of Lady Hamilton's sensibility. We must own that this odious proof of the torpor of feeling, which is often found in conjunction with levity of conduct, and which not even her admirers have attempted to controvert, removes all incredulity from our minds respecting other cruelties which she is accused of passively witnessing, and in some instances even of instigating. But the darker the scene becomes, the more reluctant we are to dwell upon it. The biographer himself assumes an increased severity of tone, when he describes the injuries inflicted on the peace of Lady Nelson and her relations, by one who could smile, and murder while she smiled. Among her very few good qualities, he remarks that her filial duty was conspicuous. He advocates the claims of that child who was left by Nelson to his country; and who, there is too much reason to fear, was the offspring of that intimate acquaintance with Lady Hamilton, which some, too virtuous themselves to suspect vice in otliers, actually believed to be the purest description of platonic attachment.

The contemplation of the close of Lady Hamilton's days, at Calais, to which place she fled for refuge on her liberation from the King's Bench, is calculated to excite reflections of a very melancholy nature. At this trying moment, however, the affection and duty she had ever shewed her mother, were brought back to her own bosom, by the soothing attentions of her child, who waited upon her throughout her illness with undeviating affection.

"When, at last, she found there were no hopes of a recovery, she employed the little time that remained in preparing such documents and memorials as might be of service to this interesting object, who was now about to encounter the rude storms of the world, without a relation or a guardian to take a tender interest in her welfare. This consideration pressed heavily on the mind of the dying parent, who manifested the most affectionate concern for her child, by endeavouring to soothe her mind, and to allay her fears, giving her the best advice for her future conduct, and settling all her affairs in such a manner as appeared best adapted to secure the property which had been set apart for her use, from any attempts that might be made to injure the rights of the orphan and the

destitute. A sealed packet was also carefully entrusted to her hands, but with strict injunctions that it should not be opened till the attain. ment of her eighteenth year; which corresponded also with the particular settlement in the codicil added to the will of Nelson, providing for the maintenance of this very child under the denomination of his adopted daughter.” pp. 347, 8.

Our biographer fully acquits Lady Hamilton of any share in the infamous publication of Lord Nelson's letters. The impartiality which he displays in every part of his instructive performance, makes us willing to dismiss him in the words which Shakspeare puts into the mouth of one not much more injuriously treated than the amiable person whose interests ought inseparably to have been connected with Lord Nelson's, whose affections were most aggrieved by his desertion :

· After my death I wish no other herald,
· No other speaker of my living actions,
To keep my honour from corruption,

But such an honest chronicler.
Art. IX. 1. Jonah. The Seatonian Prize Poem, for the year 1815:

By James W. Bellamy, M. A. of Queen's College, Cambridge.

8vo. pp. 28. Price 5s. 6d. Taylor and Hessey. 1815. 2. Jonah. a Poem. By Edward Smedley, Junior, 8vo. pp. 24.

Price 3s. 6d. Murray. 1815. W E had occasion, in reviewing the Seatonian prize poem

V for the year 1814, to notice the difficulties which the candidates have to surmount in producing, on a given subject, and that nominally a scriptural: one, a poem possessing either originality or interest. The present productions may serve to exemplify those observations.

Mr. Bellamy has obviously bestowed considerable pains on the poising of his cadences, and the burnishing of his rhymes : there is a dazzling semblance of poetry in his diction : but we look in vain for any display of fancy, that might compensate for his injudicious deviations from the simplicity of the scriptural narrative. The character of Jonah, we are sorry to remark, is inappropriately delineated, and his history is badly parrated.

The following magniloquous lines are substituted for the scripture account of the prophet's fatal voyage. The impressive circumstances of the lot falling upon Jonah, his confession to the mariners, and his directing them to cast him overboard, are wholly omitted.

• Launch'd on the main, the seamen woo the gale
To fan, with favouring breath, the swelling sail:
Bounds the light bark the foaming billows o'er,
And wings her way to Tarshish' sheltering shore.

Short blew that prosperous breeze : thick clouds arise,
Vol. V. N. S.

« 前へ次へ »