Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

was completely successful; and, if he gained no material advantage, no accession of territory and of power, by a war and by victories till then unparalleled in Europe, he surrounded himself at least with a halo of military glory and with a moral force which proved a safeguard against further attacks.

The fourth and concluding volume exhibits Frederick's unwearied efforts, during the latter half of his long reign, to promote the welfare and prosperity of his country, and his rigid attention to every department of the administration. It relates the public transactions in which he was engaged during the same period; the share which he took in the first partition of Poland, which, if it cannot be justified, is in some degree to be excused; his generous interference in behalf of Bavaria, when at the age of sixty-eight be hesitated not to take the field once more, to rescue that State from the grasp of her greedy neighbour; and his solicitude, even in the last year of his life, to raise, in a confederation of German princes, an effective barrier against the ambitious designs of Austria.

But by far the larger portion of this volume relates to Frederick himself; and for this reason it will, no doubt, have far greater attraction for the general reader.

It exhibits his particular opinions on the highest and most important topics of moral and intellectual consideration : on religion, on his views concerning which so much misconception has generally prevailed; on education ; and on the literature of his country. It exhibits his conduct towards his officers and his soldiers ; towards his relatives, his friends, and his servants; towards the highest and the meanest of his subjects; and, in the numerous anecdotes of his affection, his kindliness, his affability, his humanity, nay, his very eccentricities, it furnishes a ready explanation of the secret of that universal enthusiasm for his person which perhaps no monarch ever excited in an equal degree. Perfection is not the lot of human nature; and Frederick had his failings; nor has it been attempted to conceal or to palliate them in these pages-or the picture would not have possessed that interest and moral value which it now does beyond most others of its kind that are extant. But the truth is, that the steruness of the sovereign and of the hero was so tempered by the “milk of human kindness” that Frederick needs no apologist.

It may be thought by some that the writer has dwelt rather too long on the king's increasing infirmities, and on that illness which terminated his glorious life. But the last days, the last moments, of a great man —and Frederick was great in every sense of the word—are peculiarly interesting. His solicitude for the welfare of his people, and his anxiety to fulfil the duties which he imposed upon himself till his latest breath, are more than touching ;—they present a picture of the true “ beauteous and sublime of human life."

In conclusion, we must say that the work is more pregnant with social, moral, and political interest than almost any other of its class that can be named, and that it cannot fail to take a permanent place in our historical literature, accordingly; while, as mere desultory reading, there is nothing of recent daie that can compete with it.

COLLEGE LIFE.*

The portion of this work which appeared in our own pages could not have failed to give the reader a desire to know more of it, even if the name of “ Peter Priggins” did not secure for it a universal interest among the lovers of humour, character, and drollery. Not that it bears much resemblance to the lucubrations of that worthy, except in its inexhaustible fund of character, anecdote, incident, and action, and in the fact of its being devoted chiefly to “ College Life,” the social records of which this clever and original writer seems determined shall no longer remain a sealed book. And he is quite right; for though his fearless exposures (especially those in his first work) must excite no little alarm and scandal in the minds of those stately “authorities” to whom they will (we are bound to believe) be as new as they will to nine-tenths of the world besides, it is difficult to suppose they can fail to bring about a reform of those abuses which argument and remonstrance might have failed to reach. In fact, when our comic and satirical writers discover (in virtue of being bred up among them) that the solemn cloisters of Oxford and of Cambridge are no less fertile in scenes of low vice than the back slums of St. Giles’s, the Heads of Houses will doubtless think it time that they should make the discovery, too. In the interim, the readers of “ College Life” will find it an infinitely superior book to its predecessor, “ Peter Priggins,” in all points of view, but especially in that of its scenes and characters being for the most part taken from higher grades of the “ life" which it professes to depict. The fun of “ Peter Priggins," though it contained “no offence i’the world,” was of too boisterous and rollieking a character to find much favour in female eyes ; whereas, in the present work there is not merely an absence of those features which it was deemed necessary, for the sake of keeping, to hand over to the pencil of the “ College Scout and Bedmaker," — but most of the relations (which are in the present case assigned to the worthy Mr. Fortescue Frumpleigh, M.A., as the result of his observations and annotations on “ College Life” during a year's service of the office of senior proctor) have a sustained interest, and a strength and substance of material, that enable them to take their place as regular works of fiction; while the broad humour of their general tone and style will command for them the same class of readers whose favour gave so extensive and immediate a popularity to their predecessors from the less polite pen of Mr. Peter Priggins.

The tales which form the staple of these volumes are at once lightened, varied, and held together by a subsidiary narrative which is perhaps the most humorous and entertaining portion of the work ;-probably because it is that portion which the author has written with the most gusto, and the least restraint upon his fancy and inclination. Among the regular narratives, by far the best is that which occupies the largest space—more than a third of the whole work. It is called “ The Drama of Real Life,” and fully answers to its title, both in its strong and sterling reality, and in the dramatic skill with which its chief scenes are

* College Life ; or, the Proctor's Note-book. By J. Hewlett, M.A., Author of * Peter Priggins.” 3 vols.

constructed. The humorous portions of the tale are, as might be ex: pected, by far the most effective, and we cannot help thinking that several of them are at least equal to the average of those left us by that great humorist who first introduced this his worthy pupil and protégé to the world : for though nothing can be more his own than the style of " Peter Priggins,” it can scarcely be doubted that it is founded on that of Theodore Hook. The scenes between Voluble, Octavus Thrillington, and Hamlet Luckless, on their coming up late at night, after the long,"—the latter a modest freshman, and the other two, regular larking, knowing, practical-joking undergraduates,-those in which Thrillington shows the college “ lions” to his simple friendthe subsequent ones at Thrillington Manor, particularly that including the E. E. L. A. O. yeomanry of the county-show an observation of life, and a dramatic grasp of character and situation, which point strongly towards the stage ; and it is evident the writer himself feels a lurking inclination towards that direction for his talents, for his third volume opens with a regular drama (incidental to the story) which is so good of its kind, that it will probably find its way to the London stage as soon as these volumes become generally known.

The first regular story in the third volume, is one which will excite peculiar interest

, on account of its being evidently a true sketch of the career of a poor scholar's successful struggle for fame.” The parties depicted may be guessed at by the following passage : can gain access some day during the sittings of Parliament to the House of Lords, do so. Stand behind the bar, or in the gallery, and cast your eyes on the benches to the right of the throne ; they are the seats appropriated to the Bishops, as lords spiritual and temporal. You may observe a tall, pale, prelate, with a benevolent countenance, and an eye beaming with talent; that tall pale man was James Pauperly, the poor exhibitioner of Hall, Oxford. Now he is James, by divine permission Lord Bishop of The noble lord who has just crossed the house and is shaking hands with him is Baron ;

he was Ploddington of Ch. Ch.—he sits as a retired judge.".

These volumes will increase rather than diminish the popularity so rapidly earned by their clever author--now for the first time publicly known as Mr. J. Hewlett, M. A., late of Worcester College, Oxford.

- If you

THE BIBLE IN SPAIN.*

Numerous as have been the works we have read since the perusal of “ The Gipsies of Spain,” the powerful impression made by that singular work, has suffered but little. We still retain almost as vividly as at first, the striking pictures of human life under a new aspect, which the author there presented to us, and can readily recall to mind the various picturesque groups and characteristic portraits which they contained. And long will it be before the traces of the dusky Zincali and their dark doings, their strange habits, and curious speech, as they exist in Mr. Borrow's faithful pages, fade from our remembrance. It was therefore with an anticipation of much gratification we saw the announcement of a new production from the same source. Nor have we in the slightest degree been deceived. The reader unacquainted with the originality of the author might expect from a work bearing the title of “ The Bible in Spain,” nothing more than the commonplace journal of a sectarian.

* The Bible in Spain ; or, the Journeys, Adventures, and Imprisonment of an Englishman in an attempt to circulate the Scriptures in the Peninsula. By George Borrow, Author of "The Gipsies of Spain.” 3 vols.

We have read Missionary adventures and descriptions in no small number, and although impressed with the piety of the writer, we seldom failed to be equally so with their want of general information, their contracted views, and narrow prejudices ; but the person whom the British and Foreign Bible Society wisely selected to advance their objects in the Peninsula, was a man of a totally different stamp ; his intellect, of no common order originally, had been greatly improved by the most familiar communication, by means of travel, with people of various countries, and in addition to extraordinary powers as a linguist, he added accomplishments likely to give him great influence among the class to whom his mission was directed. He was a perfect horseman—could scientifically shoe his own steed, when blacksmiths were scarce ; and when farriers were not to be had, doctor him as well as any member of the veterinary college, and could bring the most intractable animal to obedience by the employment of that curious process practised in a part of Ireland by people called “ Whisperers." These are not exactly evangelical gifts it must be allowed; but amongst the lower classes of Spain, an apostle of six feet two, excelling in matters the excellence of which they could both judge and appreciate, was sure of finding an attentive audience. And so it proved, for whether among the gipsies in the dark forests, or the scum of the metropolis collected in its jails, Mr. Borrow was certain of being listened to with respect. We regret that we cannot follow him throughout his adventurous career to awaken the populace of the most bigoted and ignorant country in Christendom to a proper perception of the light of the gospel ; we can however most safely say that the scenes and characters among which he moved are as amusing as the best pages of Le Sage.

Although persecuted with the fiercest intolerance by all that is contemptible in the priesthood of Spain, he bears honourable testimony of the worth of several of its members whom he beheld under more favourable circumstances. He is certainly no admirer of the pope-- witness the very amusing manner in which he occasionally addresses him, but with an absence of prejudice that does him great lionour. He seems ever ready to bear witness to any thing estimable that came under his observation belonging to the Roman Catholic religion. We cordially recommend the reader to these entertaining volumes, fully convinced that he will be particularly gratified in making the acquaintance of the admirable Maria Diaz and her excellent husband of the no less devoted Joanna Correaof the cracked treasure-seeker, Benedict Mol—of the eccentric Antonio, the Greek-or his less creditable namnesake, the wandering gipsy—or the braggadocio Balthazar of the nationals of Madrid—or fifty more equally curious and interesting personages in their several ways, whose society he will there enjoy. We hope he has not exhausted his reminiscences of travel. We should be glad to echo Baron Taylor-one of the numerous originals to whom he has introduced us—who, as the author states, “ whenever he descries me, whether in the street or the desert, the brilliant ball, or amongst Bedouin baimas, at Novogorod, or Stambul, he flings up his arms and exclaims, 'O ciel! I have again the felicity of seeing my cherished and most respectable Borrow!!"

A YACHT VOYAGE IN THE MEDITERRANEAN.*

[ocr errors]

Tuese light and agreeable volumes narrate, in the form of a journal, the events and observations made by their writer, Lady Grosvenor during a yacht voyage in the Mediterranean, and its incidental land journeys, commenced in the autumn of 1840, and continued through nearly the whole of the subsequent year. A voyage and journeys of this nature, performed with all the appliances and facilities which wealth and station comma

mand, was not likely to be diversified by many “hairbreadth 'scapes,” either “by flood or field," and the present volumes do not disappoint the reasonable reader's expectations in these particulars. But a year so passed, by such a company (consisting of Lord and Lady Grosvenor, and four of their children, attended only by a maid and a male servant), could not fail to furnish matter full of interest and entertainment, and the records of which, as here prepared and given to the world, will be found to reflect much of that interest and entertainment, without that serious cost of personal désagrémens which must ever attend such an undertaking, even in the most favourable circumstances.

As the travellers staid but a very brief period in the various countries and scenes they visited, we have, of course, no elaborate accounts even of the most note-worthy places and objects. But we have that which, for all purposes but those of dry information and study is much betterthe easy and off-hand remarks and personal impressions of an intelligent and cultivated woman, put down probably in the very words in which they were expressed during her daily conversation with her family or in her letters to friends at home. At all events good sense, good feeling, and absence of all affectation mark them throughout, and render the volumes as pleasing as they will be found useful and valuable to future travellers over the same inviting and interesting ground. The chief places visited are, Lisbon and its environs; Cadiz; thence by steamer up the Guadalquivir to Seville; returning to Cadiz for the purpose of visiting the Moorish city of Tangier; from Tangier to Gibraltar, and thence through Malaga to Granada, and all the wonders and beauties of the Alhambra. The next place of peculiar interest visited by our travellers was that which has recently so absorbed public attention and curiosity—the city of Barcelona, whence they took yacht again to Naples, visiting Majorca by the way. During the remainder of the spring the party visited the principal cities of Sicily and the south of Italy, and then took their departure for Greece. About a fortnight sufficed for a mere passing glance at some of the beauties of Attica and the islands, and on the 16thof May they found themselves in the Bosphorus. The remainder of the first volume and the opening of

Narrative of a Yacht Voyage in the Mediterranean during the years 1840-1. 2 vols.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »