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forensic and senate eloquence are two different things, and he did not maintain this department of his reputation in the House of Commons. He could not adapt his oratory to the style of Saint Stephen's, and the affection in his throat (which ultimately proved fatal) had already begun to make inroads on a voice at no time remarkable for fulness of volume. In other respects, he proved an efficient legislator, and on resigning his seat, the Scotch members on both sides paid him the rare compliment of a public dinner. The cares of the House fagged him not a little, but it could not extinguish the play of fancy, as will be seen from the following extract. After referring to a noisy and protracted sederunt in the unreformed House, he goes on to say:
It was a beautiful rosy, dead, calm, morning when we broke up, a little before five to-day; and I took three pensive turns along the solitude of Westminster bridge, admiring the sharp clearness of St. Paul's, and all the city spires soaring up in a cloudless sky, the orange-red light that was beginning to play on the trees of the abbey, and the old windows of the Speaker's house, and the flat green mist of the river floating upon a few lazy hulks on the tide, and moving low under the arches. It was a curious contrast with the long previous imprisonment in the stifling, roaring house, amidst dying candles, and every sort of exhalation.
The truth is, Jeffrey became home-sick; he was too old to transplant. He took up the Gentle Shepherd in Malthus's, and read it with tearful eyes; and he often had visions of his favourite Loch Lomond, and sorrowed when he awoke and found they were but dreams.
Returning to his native Edinburgh, he became a judge successively in the outer and inner houses of the Court of Session; and in this relation he gained golden opinions from all men-the only complaint ever preferred against him being that he was intolerant to long-winded counsel, a fault more honoured, as we think, in the observance than the breach.
In the privacy of domestic life Jeffrey was singularly estimable. His letters on the death of his sister and first wife will not be read by the most apathetic without emotion.
His affection for his daughter and her children; for his numerous friends in every corner of the earth; and for his dog and parrot, all bespeak a simple and loving nature. And as the early portion of his life had been marked by causticity as a critic, so his latter days were characterised by great kindness to all literary adventurers of whatever grade. Perhaps he was too lenient in his judgments of unknown authors and their works, but the failing leant to virtue's side, and it is pleasant to have it to record that the end of such a life was peace. He died on 26th January, 1850, in his seventy-seventh year.
There are numerous notices of contemporaries in the two volumes before us, with some quotations from which we shall conclude.
WILLIAM IV.-Lord Holland says he won five-and-sixpence from the king at cribbage, and was sent to bed at eleven o'clock. Can you conceive anything more innocent or primitive? A king playing eagerly for sixpences! He tells me also that he read to his majesty the letter I wrote him about a new rebellion in Scotland if the bills were not passed, and with very good effect. The king condescended to observe that there was a Scotticism in the letter, viz., the use of the word misgive for fail or miscarry, which I do not think a Scotticism, but who will dispute with a king?-Jeffrey to Cockburn.
LORD ALTHORP [On the resignation of the ministry].-I went to Althorp and had a characteristic scene with that most honest, frank, true, and stouthearted of all God's creatures. I found him sitting on a stool in a dark duffle [Anglicé, grey] dressing gown, with his arms (very rough and hairy) bare above the elbows, and his beard half-shaved, and half-staring through the lather, with a desperate razor in one hand and a great soap-brush in the other. He gave me the loose finger of the brush-hand, and with the usual twinkle of his bright eye and radiant smile, he said, 'You need not be anxious about your Scotch Bill to night, for I have the pleasure of telling you we are no longer His Majesty's ministers.'
When they came to summon him to a counsel, on the Duke's giving in, he was found in a closet with a groom, busy oiling the locks of his fowling-pieces, and lamenting the decay into which they had fallen during his ministry.-—Ibid.
TALLEYRAND.-He is more natural, plain, and reasonable than I had expected; a great deal of the repose of
high breeding and old age, with a mild and benevolent manner, and great calmness of speech rather than the sharp, caustic, cutting speech of a practised utterer of bon-mots. He did not eat much nor talk much about eating, except only that he inquired very earnestly into the nature of cocky-leckie, and wished much to know whether prunes were essential. He settled at last that they should be boiled in the soup, but not brought up in it. He drank little but iced water.-Ibid.
LORD MELBOURNE. - A LESSON ON PATRONAGE. - Unless sends good medical credentials he certainly will not be appointed. I have had some talk about it with Lord Melbourne, who says that to job a teaching chair in a great medical school would be disgraceful, and that he will not give it to any man because he is a Whig, unless he be the best, or amongst the best in all respects; and who shall say otherwise ?-Ibid.
MOORE. In respect of the famous duel between Jeffrey and Moore, Lord Cockburn corrects some popular errors. Both pistols were loaded. On reaching the police-office it was then found that Jeffrey's pistol contained no bullet; either because it must have dropped out when the officer snatched it from him, or afterwards in the officer's hands. Moore's bullet was still in his pistol, and Horner was certain that one had been put into Jeffrey's. Little's was therefore not the leadless pistol.'i. p. 172.
At a subsequent period, when there was a rumour that Moore's circumstances were embarrassed, Jeffrey wrote to Rogers making offer of assistance to the extent of 3001. or 5007.'
KEMBLE.-King John was the occasion of Jeffrey sticking in a speech, which he had never done before or after. Kemble had taken leave of the Edinburgh stage, and his admirers gave him a dinner and snuff-box. 'Jeffrey was put into the chair, and had to make the address previous to the presentation. He began very promisingly, but got confused, and amazed both himself and everybody else by actually sitting down and leaving the speech unfinished; and until reminded of that part of his duty not even thrusting the box into the hand of the intended receiver. He afterwards told me the reason of this. He had not premeditated the scene, and thought he had nothing to do except in the name of the company to give the box. But as soon as he rose to do this, Kemble, who was beside him, rose also, and with most formidable dignity. This forced Jeffrey to look up to his man; when he
found himself annihilated by the tall tragic god, who sunk him to the earth at every compliment by obeisances of overwhelming grace and stateliness. If the chairman had anticipated his position or recovered from his first confusion, his mind and words could easily have subdued even Kemble.-i. p. 254.
LEGAL CONTEMPORARIES.-Although some of these worthies, by reason of their seclusion at the Scotch bar, are not possessed of such household names as the foregoing, there are circumstances related regarding many of them which, very properly, have not been allowed to pass into oblivion. For example, we have a capital sketch of bluff, rough, Sir Harry Moncrieff (who, by the way, was not legal, although his descendants have been so), the man who, in his old age, disliked a brother man fewer every day he lived.' We have similar justice done to Lord Moncrieff, the son of the preceding, who commenced his public career as a Whig by literally holding the candle to the Hon. Henry Erskine. A public meeting was held in 1795 in an Edinburgh Circus, but those being the days when men in the north were unaccustomed to public speaking, no precaution had been taken to light the place, and Erskine commenced his address in the dark. A lad, however, struggled through the crowd with a dirty tallow candle in his hand, which he held up in the orator's face. Many shouts honoured the unknown torch-bearer. This lad was James Moncrieff, then about sixteen.' He had a shrill and harsh voice, and casual listeners went away with the idea that it would be nothing else. They never heard him admonish a prisoner of whom there was still hope; or doom one to die; or spurn a base sentiment; or protest before a great audience in favour of a sacred principle. The organ changed into striking impressiveness whenever it had to convey the deep tones of that solemn earnestness which was his eloquence.' Then we have the witty John Clerk, who is handled with the pen of a master. The zeal of this gentleman knew no bounds. He did not take his fee, plead the cause well, hear the result, and have done with it, but gave the client his temper, his perspiration, nights, his reason, his whole body and soul, and very often the fee to boot. His real superiority lay in his legal learning and hard reasoning. But he would have been despicable in his own sight, had he reasoned without defying and insulting the adversary and the unfavourable judges; the last of whom he always felt under a special call to abuse, because they were not merely obstrueting justice but thwarting him. His whole session was one keen and truceless conflict.'
We have also passing references to James Grahame, the author of the Sabbath, the Marquis of Lansdowne, the gentle Joanna Baillie, and last, although not least, Boswell. This worthy was on one occasion assisted home by Jeffrey, and on being restored to reason he thanked the young lawyer for his aid, and predicted the possibility of his one day rivalling himself! Prior to this event he had seen a greater than Boswell-BURNS.
One day, in the winter of 1786-7, he was standing on the High-street, staring at a man whose appearance struck him; a person standing at a shop-door tapped him on the shoul
der and said, 'Ay, laddie, ye may well look at that man. That's Robert Burns.' He never saw Burns again. Scott, too, only saw the poet once.
Those enamoured of modern names will find references to Macaulay, Dickens, Carlyle, &c., copiously scattered throughout the volumes. But on the whole the work, although pleasant, is imperfect, and we would earnestly suggest that before issuing a second edition advantage should be taken of the annotations of the many literary friends to whom Jeffrey was well known, and to whom his memory will long be precious.
We have always remarked the
success of a novel theory to be in exact proportion to its preponderating balance of folly. New doctrines containing a tolerable admixture of truth, disappear from public view almost as soon as they are mooted; while those whose basis is total ignorance are certain to obtain a temporary success. They run their course, pioneered by frothy oratory and affirmed by blundering experiment, till they are finally explained away under the pressure of universal experience. For in the long run, those stubborn facts, resisting and counteracting forces, must overcome the magnificent schemes and brilliant theories which have the substantive deficiency to have been constructed without recognising their existence. Many an embryo railway runs smoothly enough over the projector's diningroom table, which in actual preparation labours under some such slight difficulty as being under water half the year. Many a motive power which will propel with wonderful rapidity on the peaceful surface of a tub, is powerless against wind or tide. Many a social theory, beautiful in its exterior and attractive in its promises, might be most beneficially adopted if the world were other than it is and men totally different from what they are. The
lambent doctrines of the Peace Society are of this complexion: they may be extremely applicable to some
VOL. XLV. NO. CCLXIX.
shining fraternity in the Dog Star, but are quite unsuited to mankind. Nevertheless, being based on a dexterous combination of the two fundamental principles of all twaddle, won't see and can't see, assisted by unreasoning amiability, they have spread over a considerable surface of society, enlisting fanatics of all classes-political, sentimental, and superstitious. But as the resisting and counteracting forces in the body of society threaten to arrest their further extension, the Peace party have imagined a mole-like course, whereby to inoculate the very babes and sucklings with their theory, and to doctrinate the entire cradle of Britain with Peace, ingrain and polemical. Hopeless of success in other quarters, they have Idirected the force of their maiden artillery against our nurseries, where they have spied an enemy strong in traditionary associations and the right of unquestioned tenure, but feeble in its outward defences and powerless in its personal supporters. The enemy once ousted, the region he occupies seems to promise a crop of abiding and fruitful proselytes.
This well-devised plot has been made public by means of a manifestation issued under the auspices of Mr. Charles Dickens, through the medium of the periodical called Household Words. This Peace ukase exhibits a total misconception of the spirit of our national nursery rhymes, owing apparently to a want
of practical acquaintance with the subject and a confident reliance on spurious authorities. With the folly, as a component part of the theory of peace, we have nothing to do: we shall content ourselves with exposing the misrepresentation which has given that theory a form and an apology, and having freed Mother Goose from the ridiculous aspersions thrown on her, shall leave her in a clear arena, and with fair play, to fight her own battles with the Peace Society, either collectively or man by man.
We are told that the direct tendency of the nursery rhymes is to pervert and destroy the innocence and generosity of childhood, to foster violence, and to encourage wanton and reckless cruelty, killing, theft, and greed. To make out this case, a vast number of verses are quoted, which make up an imposing array of horrors and improprieties very likely to bring our old friends into unmerited disrepute. Most of these purport to be taken from Halliwell. We have in our possession the authentic edition of Halliwell's collection, published by the Percy Society, and not one half of the jingles cited are to be found there; neither are they in Ritson's collection, called Gammer Gurton's Garland, still less in Mother Goose's Melodies, which is the oldest and most genuine of all, containing only rhymes and ditties in circulation all over England, while the collections of Ritson and Halliwell comprise many of merely local interest. The censured ditties which are to be found in any of the three authorities above mentioned are invariably misunderstood and misrepresented rhymes, reflections, games, tales, and riddles being jumbled together without explanation: so that lines, sentences,and couplets, being respectively isolated from the context, present images as unlike their real appearance as do the moon and the ocean in the hands of a subjective cockney poet. For instance,
Here comes a candle to light you to bed: Here comes a chopper to chop off your head, is given as a solitary couplet of exceeding practical hideousness,' whereas, as every schoolboy knows, these two lines belong to the middle of the game called Oranges and
Lemons,' in which every individual of the company is elected to belong to one of two parties by means of a compulsory process not very remote from that liberty of choice which is usually enjoyed by the fighting champions of mighty chiefs. The two children who represent the leaders form an arch with united and upraised arms, under which the others pass in a string, the last being taken prisoner by the downdropping arms which encircle his neck while the lines are repeated, and the captive makes choice of one of the two parties. When the whole are disposed of in this manner, the two parties form, and the second division of the game proceeds. It must be evident that as the children are only elected to new action by this very innocent decapitation, it cannot possibly convey the ideas of death and murder.
Portions of several other games are misquoted in a similar manner, even the well-known
Tit, tat, toe,
My first go,
which every man who has ever been a boy will remember as the libretto of that game of noughts and crosses played on a slate, is represented as a song of abrupt and savage tone,' 'grim, gloomy, and vague.'
Riddles, instead of being unriddled, are involved in additional perplexity and hopeless entanglement. Propositions which when presented as a puzzle to be solved, and understood to hide some object or idea under an image purposely decep tive, are perfectly innocent, become hideous' and horrible when accepted as realities. Here is one which, though evidently referring to a fruit, and classed by Halliwell among the riddles, is held up as a speci men of all that is improper :
When I went up sandy-hill,
I cut his throat, I sucked his blood,
It seems quite marvellous that any person should take this harmless rhyme to be anything but a riddle, especially as the word 'boy' is so commonly applied to favourite eatables, and 'thim's the boys for my money is a naturalized Hibernianism which greets many an admired potato, plump partridge, and luscious
orange. But a greater amount of misconception falls to the share of the simple songs and rhymes; all their sly humour, quiet wisdom, and poetical justice is destined to miss fire in the nursery of Peace. The total inability to see the point of any one of them presents the most remarkable instance of mental blindness on record. Among the instances quoted to show that innocence and guilt fare alike in the nursery code is
Your house is on fire,
Your children will burn.
This verse which little children sing to the lady-bird, first letting it mount to the top of the fore-finger, is intended as an incitement to her to fly off: it is always so sung and so understood. The mock pomposity and magnified importance with which five or six fellows set about some very trifling business, is a favourite scheme of the old nursery tale-probably of Norman origin, as many of the modern French ditties are of a similar character, and certainly not without its moral or application. It seems so very evident that the point of such stories as these consists in the manner of doing, and not in the thing to be done, that it is with unmitigated astonishment we see the charge of wanton killing under aggravated circumstances brought against
We'll go a-shooting, says Richard to Robin, We'll go a-shooting, says Robin to Bobbin, We'll go a-shooting, says John, all alone, We'll go a-shooting, says every one. These magnanimous heroes having determined on this excursion, next proceed to deliberate on the game to be pursued, when it is unanimously decided to shoot at a wren;' the wren being shot, there is a great difficulty about getting her home; in order to accomplish this they hire a cart, after some exertion manage to hoist' their spoil into it, and when safely returned home, share the booty among them. The fun very plainly consisting in the much ado about nothing expedition, and not in the death of the wren.
The accusation of encouraging theft rests on similar misrepresentation.
Taffy was a Welshman,
Tom, Tom, the piper's son,
Stole a pig, and away he run,
are two of the instances adduced in proof of this. But as both the criminals are punished, one with a broken head and the other with a beating, we see no greater inducement to theft furnished by their histories than that held out by the daily police reports, where imprisonment and transportation are awarded to similar delinquents, none of which conclusions seem to present terminal prospects of so cheering a nature as to encourage theft.
Half the verses quoted as condemnatory evidence are not included in the three authentic collections; they bear stereotyped evidence of their ungenuineness in their unmeaning, ignorant, and vulgar physiognomy; they are also entirely deficient in the grace of rhythm and charm of melody which is the invariable attribute of the genuine nursery rhyme; they likewise lack the stamp of general currency which distinguishes the true coin with universal recognition. That such trash as that we refer to should be classed with the real ditties, shows a want of practical acquaintance with the subject which the subsequent treatment of the latter substantiates. A misapprehension which we sincerely hope may do our old friends no damage, as no new rhymes can replace them. The resolute will, the historical observation, the hardy training, the humorous reflection, the hearty jollity, and the ambushed wisdom of our ancestors, reveal their features to us there, singing with a wild melody, shouting with a lusty companionship which unites the youth of the past and the present in one common boyhood. No other set of rhymes could convey so much wisdom, love, and playfulness as these ancient ones supply. It is no slight proof of their aptitude for the sphere they occupy, that they should have spread and survived so long, unwritten and unprinted, as they have done. The spontaneous reflection of the political observer, the social censor, the detector of sham philosophies, sham moralities, sham heroisms, handed down from generation to generation, with the melodious lullaby that soothes the car of