Abbildungen der Seite

quickly perished.* Not so with Anguillotto, who, swimming lustily, kept himself above water. But when, raising his head, he waved an arm to his comrades, they were already distant. All hastened to his assistance; Siboga in the boat which was nighest, the rest more slowly in the bark. Egidio, on the prow of the latter, was directing and exhorting them to save Anguillotto; but on the boat's nearing, and bis successfully grasping, first an oar, and afterwards a hand, which Siboga, leaning over, had extended,-a discharge from four carbines proved fatal to Egidio, and he fell, mortally wounded, into the river. The unhappy youth had not even time to look on Gertrude, or utter a single exclamation ; whilst she, reckless of the firing, kept her eyes fixed on the spot where the body, overwhelmed and carried away by the stream, crimsoned in bloody streaks the waves that buried it. Anxiety to save him was more powerful than her despair, and she continued, with desperate shrieks and gestures, to urge the rowers, when a second discharge stretched Siboga at her feet, and by a third, she herself fell, stricken in the arm. Meanwhile, the swiftness of the current bore far away her lover's mangled corpse. From the flash and report of the first fatal volley, she had suffered the terrors of death, previously to losing her senses from her own wound. And opportune, indeed, was that unexpected succour. The two first discharges came from four Spaniards, who, journeying to the Po in order to receive Gertrude from the Swiss, chanced to arrive at the moment of the contest, and instantly embarked to aid her escort. The last shots were fired by the two Swiss remaining in Francesco's ferry-boat.'--vol. iii. pp. 299–303.

A parley is 'held, and Anguillotto learning for the first time that his mistress is a fugitive nun, delivers her up without further resistance. The wound proving slight, she is conveyed to Milan, and taken to the palace of the archbishop, who, finding her sincerely penitent, administers consolation, and listens to her confession: this is unexpectedly interrupted by the sudden entrance of her proud, unnatural, but now aged and broken-hearted parent.

• Hearing the laboured footsteps of a person slowly advancing, she lifted up her head, and half looked round; but when Gertrude saw, and recognised him who approached, starting up with the lightwing movement of one that flies a dungeon, she gave a cry, more piteous and terrible than speech; aud with her arms thrown back in the most expressive attitude of repulse, her head rolling like a maniac's, she rushed through the nearest door, and closing it violently, seizing and dragging along, in the wildest phrenzy, and with supernatural force, whatever her hand laid hold of, she barricadoed herself within. The prince, stupified and powerless at the action, and leaning almost breathless on his staff, eagerly gazed on the archbishop, expecting, with that hope which never abandons even the most guilty, a word of consolation, or of pity. But (now that all is known) did he deserve it from the world ? and had he not been long undeserving thereof in the sight of heaven? Borromeo also was moved, and calling to memory the means employed to influence the youthful mind of Gertrude by her father, elevating his voice with that accent which speaks from the heart: " Dost thou return again, O miserable man,” he said, “to lie before the minister of Him whom it is impossible to deceive ? And with

* See Burley's death in .Old Mortality.”

one foot on the borders of eternity, how shalt thou dare to front the awful passage ? how wilt thou sustain that angel's aspect who weighs in the golden balance the duties of fathers towards their children? Thou hast heard from her mouth, O barbarous parent, the cry of outraged nature, but hast not comprehended all its dreadful import, for on thy head it calls down the punishment of seduction ; on thy head the crimes committed; on thy head the sacrilege; on thy head the blood of thine own son, slain by the hand of her guilty lover.”

The wretched old man, overcome by this denunciation, swooned, and fell. The archbishop ordered the assistance humanity required to be afforded him; whilst, in the state to which he was reduced, the band of God was plainly visible.—The manuscript which has hitherto guided me throughout this tale, ending here, it is uncertain whether the prince embraced his daughter before his death; but with regard to her, it is known, that, placed in a convent of the strictest discipline, the Heavenly mercy granted her long life, that long might be her repentance.'-vol. iii. pp. 319 -323.

The productions of Manzoni and Rosini, undoubtedly form an era in what may eventually become an extremely amusing part of Italian literature; as such, their authors are entitled to our praise and thanks, and we heartily trust they will be prompted to fresh and, we hope, prosperous efforts; but we could wish them in future to take a loftier flight, and let their genius soar upon a nobler pinion ; for assuredly, times in which lived a Sforza, a Giovanni Visconti, or the Borgios,-times abounding in romantic incidents of the most picturesque and striking nature,—would furnish scenes and characters more generally and deeply interesting, and worthier subjects for the pens of men possessing first-rate qualifications.

ART. IV.- Random Records. By George Colınan the Younger. Two

volumes. 8vo. London: Colburn and Bentley. 1830. With infinite truth hath George Colman “the younger,"—though not much younger we suspect, than any other living person of his name,--entitled this precious piece of autobiography, “Random Records.' If to write at random, mean to wander from one subject to another, to jump from infancy to age, and back again to infancy, and to stop, occasionally, half way at manhood, and diverge, ad libitum, to every point in the circle of life,- the “ younger” of all his race hath accomplished his purpose, in the fullest sense,-indeed in the greatest latitude which can be given to that expression. George thinks nothing of taking his reader up, in one page, at the year 1770, and setting him down in the next at 1830. His work is a sort of steam carriage, which dashes over the road at the rate of a hundred miles in a minute. Up hill, down the precipice, through the town, through the country, by the sea,-on he goes, a panoramist of the first order, who sets all the rules of chronology and system at defiance.

Now, this sort of license which our “younger” friend assumes may be very well for him; it may be very poetical, and very dramatic, and perfectly convenient, particularly as he well knows that the slightest approach to order would only betray the nakedness and barrenness of the land. The fact is, that George, having little to tell, or rather-little that he would wish to tell, has a great deal to say. He talks against time, or rather against the printer. He must compose two volumes, and whether he fills them up with nonsense or wit, with prologue or epilogue, botany or burletta, - signifies to him not one jot. Contrary to the doctrine of Milton,

-“ 'Thy words at random

Argue thy inexperience," our autobiographer's 'records at random,' display the fruits of worldly wisdom, which he has gathered in his “ younger ” days; for he candidly confesses that he prints them, because he accepted ' a very good offer from his bookseller,' a reason, which, he thinks, • infuenced most of his predecessors.'

Who doubts it? Not we, at least, for we have had too much of auto-biography from the prolific machinery of Messrs. Colburn and Bentley, not to know that this line of literature has been, and still is,-and, until we destroy the nuisance, will continue to be, driven as a mere matter of trade,-a speculation of mere pecuniary profit. In the ordinary course of things, men of accomplished intellects write, because they write to communicate to the world, thoughts, which, in their own opinion, are calculated to enlighten, instruct, or amuse mankind. But, in the extraordinary state of trade in which we live, many literary mechanics are employed to indite, because booksellers wish to get money, The true and only legitimate end of publication, considered as its main object,—the improvement of mankind, is altogether merged in the sordid love of gain. It would, even, seem that discrimination as to the real value of a new work is altogether out of the question. The object seems now to be,-production, publication, sale, no matter of what sort of trash, provided it have an attractive name, and a spice of novelty, George Colman the “ younger” lets the cat out of the bag. 'I write,' he ingenuously proclaims, because I have accepted a very good offer from my booksellers !

We can easily imagine George not a little frightened when first this golden temptation came in his way. “What!” he may have questioned his inner soul, “am I expected, in consideration of the sum of 5001., to make a real history of my life? If to my share some venial errors fall,' am I to expose them to the world; am I to season my pages with all the scandal that I know, with every scene, before and behind the curtain, in which I performed a part ? Am I to bring, again, upon the stage dramas and farces, which I fear everybody has forgotten, and to make persons figure upon it, whom I have no particular desire to remember? Am I, in short, to tell where and how I lived since I became George Colman the Younger ?” Consulting with his

booksellers, he would, at once, be told that he was born in the year one of the new Augustan age; that these were all exploded notions of the darker centuries; that he might make his niind perfectly easy,-just disclose as much as he thought fit of his life, gather together all the recollections of men and things which were floating in his brain, give the thing a selling name, and by no means to forget, in the title-page, that he was George Colman “the Younger!" With this carte blanche in his pocket, off he sets to his lodgings, works harder than he worked before, since he departed from the Haymarket, gets into a fever, gets out of it, resumes his pen, freshens up a few incidents of his early life, admits one or two of bis slightest “venial errors,” glosses over the others with a roguish laugh at your folly for expecting even an apology, and, having accumulated quires of foolscap concerning all things, and a great many other things, he sends them to Burlington Street, and gets his money. “ People may say what they like concerning my production,” thinks the · Younger' slyly to himself, “but there are the two volumes, and here are my five hundred pounds,”—no small consideration, certainly, for a work which, exclusive of the paper, is worth about one shilling and four-pence!

The reader, after this exordium, may feel pretty well assured that we are not going to give him that full, true, and particular account of George Colman the Younger, which the said George has declined giving of himself. As well as we can calculate, the fabricator of that droll composition called “The Mountaineers,”? must be now somewhere about his seventieth winter. It were wonderful, indeed, if, during so extended a life, he had not beheld a great variety of faces, and heard innumerable small anecdotes. He, accordingly, begins with his first schoolmaster, and the said schoolmaster's wife, who once held the rod of empire over Maryle-bone Seminary,—Dr. and Mrs. Fountain,-in the sunshine of whose favour George did not often bask, he having been a most incorrigible idler. From this school we trace him, through the mist of many pages, to Aberdeen, whither he was exiled for being too fond of the green-room of his father's theatre. A few terms at Oxford completed his education, when he was called to the administration of the Haymarket, by the sudden incapacitation of his progenitor; what he has since been, and what he has done, all the world knows, at least, all that part of the world which has the least curiosity to know any thing about 'George Colman the Younger.'

Three or four passages, selecied, with difficulty, from the mass of small talk with which these volumes are overloaded, will be sufficient to save the reader from the trouble of turning over their pages in the search after novelty or entertainment. We must confess, that when that exceedingly stupid work, called “ The Connoisseur,” first fell into our hands, we had no idea of the facility with which its dissertations were produced. It seems, however, that the "currente calamo” has been left as an heir-loom in the family.

We own, that we could not refrain from a smile, at the reflection which our autobiographer makes upon the frail humanity of Bonnell Thornton, the associate of his father in the above-named periodical.

• On starting this publication, the authors were pledged, as is usual in periodical writings, to produce a certain quantity of letter-press, on certain days; and when the onus fell upon Thornton to provide materials, he waddled out, like a lame duck in the alley; that is, he was delinquent, after having promised to be punctual, and, at almost the very last moment, his partner was left to supply his deficiency. On one of these oceasions, the joint authors met, in hurry and irritation, to extricate them. selves from the dilemma; my father enraged, or sulky, Thornton muzzy with liquor, the Essay to be publish'd on the next morning, not a word of it written, nor even a subject thought on, and the press waiting; nothing to be done but to scribble helter-skelter. “ Sit down, Colman,” said Thornton, “ by od ! * we must give the blockheads something." My in. dustrious sire, conscious of obligations to be fulfill'd, sat down immediately, writing whatever came into his head, currente calamo. Thornton, in the mean time, walk'd up and down, taking huge pinches of souff, seeming to ruminate, but not suggesting one word, or contributing one thought. When my father had thrown upon paper about half of a moral Essay, Thornton, who was still pacing the room, with a glass of brandy and water in his hand, stutter'd out, “ Write away, Colman! by od ! you are a bold fellow! you can tell them that virtue is a fine thing ;" implying that my father wrote nothing but mere common-place, and instructed his readers in what every body knew before.

This somewhat recondite sarcasm came ludicrously enough from a man who, through his own default in moral principle, was pushing his partner to save both their credits, at a minute's warning.

• I believe that, after this joint concern, the intimacy of the colleagues, though they were always upon good terms, was not kept up; nor was it likely to be, with two persons of such different habits, except in their pursuits of literature. I have no recollection of having ever seen Thornton at my father's house. Not long before his (Thornton's) death, these two quondam co-partners had occasion to meet in London, on some business, at a tavern; their interview was at noon, and 'Thornton came half drunk ! During their conversation upon the business which had brought them together, my father observed to his old friend, that he regretted to see he by no means appear’d in good health. “ Health!” said Thornton, “ look bere !” and he pointed to his ancles, which were alarmingly swollen; can't you see? 'tis the dropsy? by 'od! I'm a-going :" and he was going, for he died shortly afterwards.

"When Thornton was on his death bed, his relations surrounding it, he told them that he should expire before he had counted twenty; and, covering his head with the bed clothes, he began to count>" One, two, --,-,-, eighteen, nineteen, twenty.” He then thrust out his head, exclaiming, “ By 'od! its very strange! but why aren't you all crying ?” “ Teach my son," said he to the by-standers,“ teach him, when I am gone, his A, B, C; I know mine in several languages, but I perceive no good

* By od !” was his favourité apostrophe ; he spoke inarticulately, and clippii many of his words.

« ZurückWeiter »