« ZurückWeiter »
is not necessary that the reader of this poem-to appreciate its beauty-should have enjoyed the privilege of seeing these two admirable ladies-models of that grace which survives youthmutually supporting and supported—dignifying the simplest life, and rendering lovely the unconcealed touches of a sacred old age. But we believe these lines are not more beautiful in themselves than they are precisely true in fact.
* Dear Agnes, gleamed with joy and dashed with tears
O’er us have glided almost sixty years,
A long perspective to my mind appears,
To think what now thou art and long to me hast been. * «The manse of Bothwell was at some considerable distance from the Clyde, but the two little girls were sometimes sent there in summer to bathe and wade about.'
( 'Twas thou who woo'dst me first to look
" Then, as advancing through this mortal span,
With thee my humours, whether grave or gay,
' By daily use and circumstance endeard,
Pouring from smoky spout the amber stream
• The change of good and evil to abide,
"Thou ardent, liberal spirit ! quickly feeling
These are, perhaps, the last I shall indite.'-pp. 219, 222. With these most affecting verses we think it well to conclude these few remarks, trusting that nothing in them will be found inconsistent with the profound respect we feel for Mrs. Joanna Baillie's name, and that the freedom in which we have indulged will be accepted as a guarantee for the sincerity of our praise.
Arr. VI.-Trifles from my Portfolio ; or, Recollections of Scenes
and small Adventures during Twenty-nine Years' Military
Service. By a Staff Surgeon. 2 vols. 8vo. Quebec. 1839. THIS gentleman makes
so very free with other people's names that we have no hesitation about mentioning his own. Dr. Henry was attached, during a long series of years, to the 66th regiment, and, as we are told, equally appreciated in the messroom and the hospital-a sturdy, jovial, humorous little Irishman, and a skilful surgeon. Puellis nuper idoneus, he has recently taken to himself a Canadian wife and farm, and amused his leisure by inditing these • Trifles,' which are, in fact, pretty copious memoirs of his adventurous campaigns in the fields of Venus as well as Mars. We have had of late so many • Military Recollections' that the title did not particularly attract us; but, after the volumes had been on our shelves for more than twelve months, we casually took them down; and a perusal so amused us, that we must invite our readers to a participation in the feast of reason.'
The early part, in which he records his boyhood, youth, and professional education, offers nothing worth dwelling upon; and though his account of his experiences in the Peninsula contains several lively passages, they relate to scenes which have engaged so many clever pens—from Gleig to Quillinan-that we think it better to step on to India—for which region the 66th regiment embarked exactly as the news of Bonaparte's escape from Elba reached the Downs, March, 1815. As they started, our author betted a dinner that the Great Man would be caged again by the 15th of April-a curious anticipation of Ney's pledge to Louis XVIII.—and a good dinner it must have been, since we find it hinted that the bill cost the sanguine doctor nearly 1001. 'in expensive Calcutta.'
Among the best of his Indian chapters is that describing a voyage from Dinapore to Cawnpore :
' In the beginning of July we embarked on the Ganges, now full to the brim. If any person wishes to luxuriate among roses let him repair to Ghazepore, where the whole country, for some hundred or two of square miles, is thickly covered with them. Rose-water and the exquisite attar of roses are, consequently, cheaper here than in any other part of India ; though the latter, when genuine, must always be a most expensive article, from the enormous consumption of roses in its preparation. It takes a prodigious quantity of the petals to make an ounce of attar; and to produce a quart bottle would require, I suppose, a heap about as big as St. Paul's.'—vol. i. p.
184. This fragrant exordium contrasts vividly with what comes after. When we reflect that the inhabitants of the valley of the Ganges
are in number at least thirty millions; that the superstitious reve. rence for the sacred river induces every family who can possibly approach it to commit their dead to its waters, and that for the greater part of the year the atmosphere is very hot, -we may form some notion of the multitude of human corpses, in every stage of dissolution, that must be perpetually mixed with or buoyant on the flood—the surface waters must be actually a decoction of putridity. It can be no wonder that infectious diseases, with cholera at the head, should eternally hover over this gigantic open sewer of Bengal, and diverge far and wide from its centre of corruption. Dr. Henry has a description of the scene too painful to be quoted. We can but allude to the enormous flocks of vultures and other birds of prey eternally flapping and screaming over the floating masses of decay, tearing and disembowelling naked carcases of men, women, and children. But the horror of horrors is the fact that the voyager can never keep near the shore for an hour at a time without seeing some old, worn-out, decrepit grandfather or grandmother, carried to the verge of the stream by the hands of their own offspring, their mouths stuffed with the holy river-grass, and the yet gasping bodies tumbled into the flood. We are weary of hearing that such usages could not be interrupted without alienating the minds of the Hindoos. No superstition was supposed to be more deeply rooted than the horrid one of the Suttee--but a single rescript put that abomination down-and, except from certain sleek Brahmins interested in the matter of burning fees, not one voice has been heard to complain of the abolition. The same as to infanticide in soine extensive districts, where it had prevailed from a remote antiquity. Who can doubt that all these diabolical atrocities have always been perpetrated amidst the secret loathing of the priest-ridden population of India ? It is of the very essence of such tyranny that it succeeds in suppressing all outward show of aversion on the part of its victims :
' Ducitur iratis plaudendum funus amicis.' The feelings of humankind are the same everywhere; and we are well convinced that the authority of a civilised government could in no way be strengthened so effectually, as by making itself felt wherever it extends to be the immitigable enemy of every usage that wars against the instincts of natural affection.
Nay more—we venture to say that the English government in India can never gain anything by authorising spontaneously any act that tends to compromise it in the eyes of the natives, as if it were, as a power, indifferent to the distinction between Idolatry and Christianity. The majority of the better educated natives are, we may rest assured, infidels to the creed of their ancestry.