Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

Like a rose embower'd

In its own green leaves,
By warm winds deflower'd,

Till the scent it gives
Makes faint with too much sweet those heavy winged

thieves.
Sound of vernal showers

On the twinkling grass,
Rain-awakened flowers,

All that ever was
Joyous, and clear, and fresh, thy music doth surpass :

Teach us, sprite or bird,

What sweet thoughts are thine;
I have never heard

Praise of love or wine
That panted forth a flood of rapture so divine.

Chorus hymeneal,

Or triumphal chaunt,
Matched with thine would be all

But an empty vaunt,
A thing wherein we feel there is some hidden want.

What objects are the fountains

Of thy happy strain ?
What fields, or waves, or mountains ?

What shapes of sky or plain?
What love of thine own kind ? What ignorance of

pain?

With thy clear keen joyance

Languor cannot be:
Shadow of annoyance

Never came near thee;
Thou lovest; but ne'er knew love's sad satiety.

Waking or asleep,

Thou of death must deem

Things more true and deep

Than we mortals dream, Or how could thy notes flow in such a crystal stream?

We look before and after,

And pine for what is not:
Our sincerest laughter

With some pain is fraught :
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest

thought.

Yet if we could scorn

Hate, and pride, and fear;
If we were things born

Not to shed a tear,
I know not how thy joy we ever could come near.

Better than all measures

Of delight and sound,
Better than all treasures

That in books are found,
Thy skill to poet were, thou scorner of the ground

Teach me half the gladness

That thy brain must know,
Such harmonious madness

From my lips would flow,
The world should listen then, as I am listening now.

IIOW COMMODORE TRUNNION WENT TO GET

MARRIED.

Tobias GEORGE SMOLLETT.

[Tobias Smollett formed the third of that glorious trio of novelists who first awakened our ancestors from the fustian over which they were wont to dream to that new class of literature which, while it was fiction, was still founded on the realities of

[ocr errors]

truth and nature. The first of these was Samuel Richardson, "master of the worshipful Stationers' Company, and printer to the king," who (let all young authors who think they are hardly done by lay the fact to heart and cease to despair) did not commence authorship until he was turned fifty, and who yet made one of the greatest reputations of his day. The second, we need scarcely say, was Henry Fielding. Smollett published his first novel, ** Roderick Random," six years after the appearance of Fielding's “ Joseph Andrews,” and just before the publication of “Tom Jones.' The two anthors became the Dickens and Thackeray of that day, and it is no disparagement to the modern novelists to say that they owe something to their predecessors of a century back. It will be fortunate for their posthumous fame if men and manners a century hence undergo no greater change than that which has taken place since Fielding and Smollett wrote.

Smollett was born near the village of Renton, Dumbartonshire, in 1721. His father, a younger son of Sir James Smollett, having died young, he was educated at the cost of his grandfather in the Grammar School of Dumbarton, and at the University of Glasgow. His education complete, Tobias was apprenticed to a medical practitioner in Glasgow, but his grandfather dying without having made any provision for him, he proceeded to London to try his luck as a professional author. All he brought with him was a few light packages of personal baggage, and a heavy tragedy, called "The Regicide." As might be expected, his juvenile contribution received a check, and the tragedy was not brought out; so he went aboard an eighty-gun ship, and served as surgeon's mate. Failing to obtain promotion the navy, he left the service and resided some time in the West Indies, but returned to England in 1744, and resumed the practice of medicine. In 1748 his novel of “Roderick Random." appeared, and finding that he made no progress in the profession of physician, he abandoned it, took a house in Chelsea, and henceforth devoted his talents entirely to literature. “ Roderick Random

was well timed; the public had tasted of Richardson, and revelled in Fielding ; appetite grew on what it fed, and Smollett, too, became popular. He would have made his mark at any time, and but for certain indelicacies, which the novelists of the present time still indulge in, but wrap up more carefully, he would be more read now. Had Smollett been a man of independent means, he would have been a poet: his early inclinations lay that way, and what verse he has left us goes far to prove that he would have been a poet of no mean order.

In his early days Smollett married a young West Indian lady, by whom he had one daughter, who died at the age of fifteen. Disconsolate for her loss, he made a tour of France and Italy, and was absent from England for two years. He published an account

[ocr errors]

a

[ocr errors]

of his tour, which was an odd mixture of humour and imbecility, and it was to satirize this work that Sterne wrote his “ Sentimental Journey," a fact that is lost sight of now, or, more generally, unknown, by those who, in speaking of Sterne, blame him for the very foible he held up to ridicule. There is no lasting point, no permanent punishment, in satire ; time will blunt the edge of it, or turn it against the wielder.

“Roderick Random ” was followed by “Peregrine Pickle,” " Count Fathom,” “Sir Lancelot Greaves,” and “Humphrey Clinker;"' and during the composition of these works, Smollett also wrote, as "pot-boilers,” his "Continuation of Hume's History of England," and his translation of “Don Quixote,” besides editing a paper, The Briton, in opposition to Wilkes, of The North Briton. Like his contemporary, Fielding, he went abroad in quest of health, and died, near Leghorn, October 21, 1771, aged fifty-one.

The fame of this extraordinary conjunction spread all over the county; and on the day appointed for their spousals, the church was surrounded by an inconceivable multitude. The commodore, to give a specimen of his gallantry, by the advice of his friend Hatchway, resolved to appear on horseback on the grand occasion, at the head of all his male attendants, whom he had rigged with the white shirts and black caps formerly belonging to his barge's crew; and he bought a couple of hunters for the accommodation of himself and his lieutenant. With this equipage then he set out from the garrison for the church, after having dispatched a messenger to apprise the bride that he and his company were mounted. immediately into the coach, accompanied by her brother and his wife, and drove directly to the place of assignation, where several pews were demolished, and divers persons almost pressed to death, by the eagerness

of the crowd that broke in to see the ceremony performed. Thus arrived at the altar, and the priest in attendance, they waited a whole half-hour for the commodore, at whose slowness they began to be under some apprehension, and accordingly dismissed a servant to quicken his pace. The valet having rode something more than a mile, espied the whole troop

She got " Hark ye,

disposed in a long field, crossing the road obliquely, and headed by the bridegroom and his friend Hatchway, who, finding himself hindered by a hedge from proceeding farther in the same direction, fired a pistol, and stood over to the other side, making an obtuse angle with the line of his former course; and the rest of the squadron followed his example, keeping always in the rear of each other like a flight of wild geese.

Surprised at this strange mode of journeying, the messenger came up, and told the commodore that his lady and her company expected him in the church, where they had tarried a considerable time, and were beginning to be very uneasy at his delay; and therefore desired he would proceed with more expedition. To this message Mr. Trunnion replied, brother, don't you see we make all possible speed ? Go back, and tell those who sent you that the wind has shifted since we weighed anchor, and that we are obliged to make very short trips in tacking, by reason of the narrowness of the channel; and that as we lie within six points of the wind, they must make some allowance for variation and leeway." "Lord, sir !" said the valet, “what occasion have you to go zigzag in that manner? Do but clap spurs to your horses, and ride straightforward, and I'll engage you shall be at the church-porch in less than a quarter of an hour.” “What! right in the wind's eye ?” answered the commander, “ahey! brother, where did you

learn your navigation ? Hawser Trunnion is not to be taught at this time of day how to lie his course, or keep his own reckoning. And as for you, brother, you best know the trim of your own frigate.” The courier finding he had to do with people who would not be easily persuaded out of their own opinions, returned to the temple, and made a report of what he had seen and heard, to the no small consolation of the bride, who had just begun to discover some signs of disquiet. Composed, however, by this piece of intelligence, she exerted her patience for the space

of

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsæt »