Page images

NOREEN; OR, O'DONOGHUE'S BRIDE. man carrying in his breast his own fate and

the fate of others. And the postman's life, BY MRS. CRAWFORD.

(to let drop the birds of omen, all dead and PRETTY mocking spirit! say,

buried long ago with him who drank the Hast thou heard the Syren's lay?

hemlock,) at least in town, has much of the Canst thou tell me, sportive sprite,

child's about it. If in the morning your In thy wild and vagrant flight

walk is towards the city, you meet them Over mountain, over lake, Bosky dell, and flow'ry brake,

packed in vans, which are to deposit each at Hast ihou heard Killarney's queen,

the starting points of his daily round.My young, my fair, my fond Noreen ? They go forth to their work laughing and

Echó! Echo!
Preity mocking spirit! say,

lighi-hearted as children in a wagon to the Hast thou heard the syren's lay?

hay-field. And their weariness at night is Echo! Echo!

not unlike the fatigue of childhood-sheer Sofier than the lover's lute,

physical exhaustion, the working of the When the charmed winds are mute;

mind has had no share in producing it.Sweeter than love's whisperd'd sighs, Two sets of vans do we encounter in this Or the thousand melodies

great city, both the property of her MajesFloating through the ball of shells, Where the soul of music" dwells,

ty—both known to be such by the Royal Sweeter sings Killarney's queen,

arms emblazoned upon them. The one is My young, my fair, my fond Noreen. sacred to the uses of the gay scarlet-and

Écho! Echo!
Pretty mocking spirit! say,

gold-liveried postmen, the other to the more Hast ihou heard ihe syren's lay ?

sombre candidates for the hulks. Alas, that Echo! Echó!

even as bull's-eyes and lollipops tempt young prides of their mothers' hearts to sin, so the money which people will put into leto

ters, exposing postmen to temptation, frePOSTMEN, TOWN AND SUBURBAN. quently makes one or other of them ex

change his own airy van for the close tumFrom the Spectator.

bril of the Police! Xenophon has preserved a plausible ar-l. These are the town postmen. The sugument of Socrates in support of the vul. burban postman is quite a different-a more gar belief of his day that the future might intellectual creature; and if in consequence be learned from omens-sneezes, the flight he has more cares, as all must have who of birds, &c. There is something very share the inheritance of the tree of knowpretty in the way in which the old sage ad-ledge, so he has higher and keener pleaverts to the ignorance of the birds respect.sures than his town compeers. The suburing the good or bad fortune they became, / ban postman-formerly on the Threepenny in the hands of a superior being, the means establishment, now, we believe, incorporaof heralding. Postmen much resemble ted into the “General” service--still rebirds in this respect. They, in their daily tains his old uniform : he belongs to “ the circuits, are the messengers of good and Blues.” His color is fresh, for he has to evil to thousands, yet know nothing of the take long walks through green lanes, or contents of the pregnant missives they car- what once were green lanes and still are ry. The ignorance of Athenian birds and not streets. He resides in some central London postmen is their bliss : how sym-part of his beat, and, except of a holyday, pathizing and anxious they would become rarely ventures nearer town than the place if they knew the nature and consequences of call where all his brother postmen of the of the tidings they were bringing !

same district meet to deliver up the letters In this innocence of intention they re- posted and to receive those which they are semble children: it never occurs to the to distribute. The suburban postman is in playful boy that he must one day become an general married : on a fine day he may be earnest and responsible being that his seen leading his little son or daughter along simple presence is the prophecy of a future with him as he goes his rounds. If not

married he is an aspirant to the holy state • The O'Donoghues were the lineal descendants of matrimony; and the lady of his affecof Irish prioces, and lords of the Lakes. Their an.. cestor it is who, in the popular legends of tha: ter.

tions may sometimes be seen accompanyrestrial paradise Killarney, is said to ride over the ing him in the more rural and secluded surface of the lower lake on a white horse every parts of his beat-saving time, making May morning. +Author of "Kathleen Mavourneen," "Dermot

love and transacting business at the same Astore," and other popular songs in the Irish “ Lake moment. The suburban postman is in a Echoes."

manner connected with literature; for about

Christmas he supplies the families whose and transmuting Mr. Charles Dickens into Jetters he delivers with their almanacks. Mr. John Johnson, or Mr. Benjamin Brown, The connection is slight, but, co-operating gone away without allowing a hint of our with his ruralhaunts, it lends a dignity, a dash visit to transpire either at home or abroad. of sentiment to his air, which is never seen We should thus have entered America, and about the town postman. Last summer, made all our most important observations, on a smooth firm pathway between embow- under a strict incognito. A month before ering hedges, we sometimes encountered quitting it, however, we might perhaps have a suburban postman-one of those scholar. resumed our character of "Charles Dickens, like figures, slender, and with more height Esquire," and presenting the best letters of than he can carry easily-short-sighted, or introduction with which we had come proat least wearing glasses; and, ever as he vided, mixed in the best society in our paced along, a fair girl was by his side, own proper person. Thus we should have into whose ears his speech was voluble. If seen Jonathan asleep, in dishabille ; and that postman was not a contributor to the also wide awake, and in his best clothes, Annuals, we know nothing of the signs ex- and his best manners. And we hereby give ternal of a poet.

him notice that, if ever we go over the water, this will be the plan of our proceed. ing; and our American friends will be un

conscious, while we are doing it, that DICKENS'S AMERICAN NOTES FOR GENE

"A chiel's amang them takin' notes,'

An'faith he'll prent them.”
From Blackwood's Magazine.

But what did our good friend Boz do? American Notes for General Circulation. By why

by Why, alas! to our inexpressible concern

las CHARLES Dickens. In two vols. post 8vo. Sind vacat

and vexation, we saw him formally anLondon; Chapman and Hall, 1842.

nounce his intentions to the whole world, WHEN the cruel and subtle grimalkin, months before he set off; nor was there roused from her slumbers by some sudden a newspaper in Great Britain which did impulse of hunger, meditates an expedition not contain paragraphs intimating the fact, to the regions which she knows to be occu- the time, and the manner of this amusing pied by mice, do you think she foolishly satirist's departure for the scene of his in. frustrates her purpose by heralding her ap- teresting observations. From that moment, proach, shoeing hersell, as it were, with (as we then said to those around us,) we walnut-shells, clattering, mewing, spitting, gave up all expectation of any such product and sputtering? Alas, unhappy mice! no ; | as Mr. Dickens's qualifications and opportu. but she glides, suddenly, unseen, and noise- nities, prudently used, would have entitled lessly into your dusky territories; and you us to rely upon. He was hamstrung and are not made aware of the terrible visitation hoodwinked at starting; he doubtless unyou have experienced, save by her hasty consciously prepared himself for a tri. departure, bearing in her ensanguined jaws umphal progress through America-all have the crushed writhing bodies of one or two ing long before been put on their guard, of perhaps your best citizens, uttering faint and by a thousand devices of courtesy, hosand dying squeaks. Now, to compare small pitality, and flattery, disabling their admired things with great, (the former Grimalkin, visitor from taking, or communicating to the latter Boz,) when we first heard it his countrymen, just and true observations breathed that he was going to America, we on the men and inanners of America; for thought within ourselves thus : If we had it was to see them that we supposed such a the admirable talent for observation and man as Boz would have gone ; and not the description, and the great reputation (to mere cities, villages, railroads, coaches and give universal currency to our “ Notes”) of steamboats, or the rivers and mountains Boz-a man who has amused for several and forests of America, all of which have years, a greater number and more various been repeatedly scanned, and adequately classes of his fellow creatures, than any one described, by perhaps a hundred of his prewe have for some years known, beard, or decessors. Maga would not deserve her read of—and had intended to break up new hard-earned and long-held position in the ground in America, we should have imi- world of letters, were she to permit any tated the aforesaid cat, in all except her private personal partialities—to suffer any bloody designs and doings. In plain Eng. consideration to warp her judgment, or inlish, we should have resolved to take-good- duce her to withhold her real sentiments naturedly-brother Jonathan off his guard; I from her readers on any subject of general literary interest; and it is with infinite con- in all this he showed himself to be a man of cern and reluctance, especially knowing original genius. His powers of pathos were that our judgment also will be somewhat prominently developed not till some time regarded in America, that we acknowledge afterwards. The Quarterly Review prothat our apprehensions prove to have been nounced ex cathedrâ, that his forte lay warranted by a perusal of these volumes. there. Mr. Dickens seemed so satisfied of They contain many evidences of the pecu- this, that his writings thenceforth assumed liar and unrivalled powers of Boz; quite as a somewhat different character-pathetic many evidences of his literary faults and touches greatly predominating over the imperfections; and still more of his self-humorous. He planned, moreover, (ob. imposed difficulties and disabilities. serving how firmly fixed he was in the

The suddenness and universality of the public favor,) far more elaborate and ambipopularity of Boz, constitute a remarkable ious performances than any which he had event in the literary history of the times. previously contemplated. His series of Who, or what he was, or had been ; what his light detached “Sketches" of persons and early education, and habits, and society, no places, gave way to formal Novels, appear. one knew; yet all of a sudden, he started from ing in very copious monthly numbers, for the crowded ranks of his eager competitors twenty months running-each novel followin the race for popularity and distinction, I ing close upon the heels of the other, with and distanced them at a bound unapproach- a sort of literary superfætation. Shall we ably. We have watched his progress with acknowledge our opinion, however, that lively interest and curiosity, and with, we each one of them, which contained, by the trust, an anxious disposition to acknow. way, variations and re-productions of his ledge his undoubted merits. When he thus original characters, was inferior to its presuddenly burst on the public, he could not decessor; and all of them, trebled, unequal have been more than six or seven-and. in genius and execution to the creations twenty ; yet he evinced the possession of which originally delighted the public ? His several of the best qualities of Goldsmith, Sketches,' several portions of his 'PickSmollett, and Sterne: the same fond eye wick,' and of his 'Oliver Twist,' we believe for the simplicity of nature; the same per cannot be equalled, in their way, by any ception of broad and humorous capabilities; living writer; and in producing them, Mr. the same tenderness of sentiment. He Dickens became his own greatest rival. touched off with ease and beauty the true Quantity, not quality, seemed subsequently, characteristics of the lower orders of Eng. however, to become his object-to win lish, particularly, of metropolitan, society. "golden opinions" of one sort, at least, from His eye was keen and clear, his heart full bis innumerable and enthusiastic admirers. of generous feelings. He seemed to have He did not give his genius fair play; he did been born and bred among the scenes he not allow himself leisure either to contrive delineated with such accuracy and sprightli- a complete plot, (essential in the composiness. His humor long excelled his pathos; tion of a sterling and lasting novel,) to conit was sly, caustic, spontaneous, original, al-ceive distinctly the incidents of which it ways wearing a gay, good-humored ex- was to be constructed, or to sustain, conpression, and governed by an impulse of sistently, the characters by whom it was to evident love towards all men. Under his be worked out. What imagination could Hogarth-like pencil, a Cockney in all his stand such a heavy monthly drain? You low varieties of species, became the most saw the man of genius, indeed, but painfully entertaining creature in the community ; overworked and exhausted ; exhibiting in his language, his habits, his personal pecu- his rapidly succeeding productions frequent liarities, were suddenly introduced into the master-strokes, but obscured and overborne drawing-rooms of the great, the haughty, by the surrounding hasty and unskilful the refined ; into the cottages of the poor in daubing. He judged it necessary, also, at the counties, into the little garrets and fac. length, to extend the sphere of his action tories of the manufacturing towns—in fact, according to the growing exigencies of his everywhere; affording universal amuse- stories, and introduced characters and ment, not only at home, but abroad, and scenes taken from the higher classes of soamongst those ignorant even of our lan. ciety; and here, with due deference to those guage: and be it observed, that Mr. Dickens who may think otherwise, we consider that in all this never exceeded the boundaries of he is never successful—that he has never moral propriety; so that all, the young, the presented one single character in superior old, the virgin, the youth, the high, the low, life, with a tithe of the truth, force and conmight shake with innocent laughter. Surely sistency, with which he has delineated those of inferior life.-We deprecate again his stant presence of these pictorial illustrarecourse to history, as in his last story, for tions has unconsciously influenced his own the substratum and material of his fictions. fancy while at work in drawing his ideal We object to this in him—we object to it in characters; which are insensibly moulded the case of all the other writers of the day by, and accommodated to, the grotesque, -on principle, as calculated to give the quaint, and exaggerated figures and attivast mass of partially and imperfectly edu- tudes of the caricaturist's pencil. The cated persons, who are in the habit of reading writer's" mind's eye” becomes thus obedi. works of fiction only, in the present day, ent, insensibly, to the eye of his body; and most superficial, distorted, and mischievo the result is, a perpetual and unconscious ously erroneous notions on the subject. straining after situations and attitudes which Sir Walter Scott we recognise as a magni. will admit of being similarly illustrated. ficent exception ; but dear and delightful, Thus the writer follows the caricaturist, inyet youthful Boz, consider for a moment the stead of the cariacaturist following the character and circumstances of that giant writer ; and principal and accessory change writer—the mature age at which he had ar. places. rived before he at once enchanted and in- Again. The credit he has attained for structed the public with the glorious and "a rare and happy power of placing matimmortal series of his works, commencing ters of ordinary occurrence in a new light, with Waverley—his prodigious knowledge, and detecting and bringing forth to view his complete mastery of history and all its some features of interest from the most adjuncts, his universal reading, his facility of trite and common topics,” he is most justly writing—the many years of silent acquisi. entitled to; but it is the credit which he tion, observation, and reflection he had has already obtained by, and for, this, which enjoyed-his amazing natural powers, his may be indicated as a source of danger to imagination, his prodigious memory, his him: for it is calculated, since he must strong and chastened taste and judgment write so much, and so frequently, to put -all these combined to make him de- him upon straining after, and forcing out, servedly the wonder and idol at once of his these hidden qualities and effects, instead own and all future times. What may have of—so to speak—allowing them to exude been Mr. Dickens's early education, op-before the eye of a minute and penetrating portunities, habits, acquirements, and so observation. We could fill columus with ciety, we know not, nor are we intrusive or striking illustrations of this remark, taken impertinent enough to inquire into, or spe- from the volumes now before us, and from, culate upon; but let him bear in mind how indeed, almost all Mr. Dickens's other works. young he is, and how many years he has What is more natural? What requires before him to acquire and treasure up rich more watchfulness? From an eye settled and varied materials for enduring reputa- upon her, with a business-like determination. Let him reflect on Seneca's maxim, tion to make the most of her delicate and “ Non quàm multa, sed quàm multum !” bidden charms, Nature flies, alarmed and “ 'Trees which abide age,” it was beautifully shocked. Look at her, and love her for observed by Mr. Burke, we believe, “ grow herself, originally and solely; and treasure slowly ; the gourd that came up in a day, up your impressions afterwards, with anx. withered in a day."

|ious fondness, if you like, and make what Before concluding this brief sketch of use you please, hereafter, of the precious the progress of Mr. Dickens, let us advert results of your observations. to one or two other matters deserving to be Yet once again. The works of Mr. Dicktaken into account. There can be no doubt ens afford many evidences of their writer's that, originally, and all along, he has been great familiarity with theatrical matters and greatly indebted for his popularity, among associations; a dangerous thing to a young his numerous readers in the lower classes writer on men and manners, as apt to induce of society, to the spirited and often admir- a style of writing, turgid, factitious, and able illustrations with which all his writings exaggerated. It is to look at the realities bave been accompanied, by Cruikshank and of life through a glaring, artificial, and vul. others—at once rousing and sustaining the garizing medium. How painfully conscious most dull and torpid fancy, giving form, of this are most persons of sound judg. and substance, and corporeal and tangible ment and cultivated taste, immediately on shape and reality, to his characters. They quitting a theatre-the moment that the have, however, had also another effect, not glitter and excitement of novelty and scenic hitherto, perhaps, adverted to by either Mr. decoration are over! Mr. Dickens, we Dickens himself, or his readers. The con- have reason to believe, is a great frequent

er of such scenes; and we are sure his and flesh of our flesh; and were we our. candor and good-nature will not take our selves to go over to America, we feel sure suggestions otherwise than as well-meant that we should be greatly affected, the inand well-founded. Now, however, to his stant of setting our foot on the shores of book on America. What were we war. the vast Western Continent, to hear our ranted in expecting from Mr. Dickens's ac- own dear mother-tongue spoken in our ears, count of his visit to that country? in accents of kindliness and welcome. The

To an accomplished and philosophical Americans may say, that we and our insti. observer, especially from England, America tutions have our faults : we believe that presents fruitful fields of interesting and they and theirs have very grave faults; but instructive reflection and speculation; to we make all such allowances for them as a which, however, we need not more distinct kind experienced father, with willing affec. ly allude, since we did not desire or expect tion, makes for the errors and imperfections from Boz any dissertation upon the political of a youthful and inexperienced son. institutions of America, or their remote in Alas, how very sad it is to have to own fluence upon the habits, humors, and cha- the feelings.of chagrin and disappointment racter of its citizens. We have long had, with which we have risen from the perusal and are constantly acquiring, ample mate of these volumes of Mr. Dickens, and to rials for judging whether the men, or the express our fears that such will be the reinstitutions, are to be praised or blamed for sult of the perusal of them by the Amerithe state of things at present existing in cans! We perceive in every step he takes, that country. The penetrating intellect of in whatever be says or does, and all that the candid, but biassed, De Tocqueville, he has written, the blighting effects of his and the invaluable observations of our ac- original blunder in proclaiming before-hand complished, experienced, and highly gifted his going to America. Where are his countryman, Mr. Hamilton,* (the author of sketches of, at all events, the public characCyril Thornton,—whose work is greatly su- ters, and of the pursuit and manners of the perior, in our opinion, in point of solidity great men of America with whom he must and interest, to that of any other English have frequently come into close contactwriter upon the subject-and others whose the statesmen, the judges, the inore eminent names will at once occur to the reader, members of the bar, the clergymen, the bave laid bare to us the very pulsative heart physicians, the naval and military men, the of America. We expected from Boz great professors in the universities—nay, even amusement ; and thought it not unlikely the theatrical men, but above all, the authors, that, before setting off on his trip, or, at of America ? Not one! or if any of them least, before publishing an account of it, he are mentioned, it is in only a word or two would have read the fine works of his more of vague and spiritless eulogy! Yet Bozeminent predecessors, if not to guide his a shrewd, a cute, watchful observer, has observations, at all events to enable him to been six months among them all; went to avoid pre-occupied ground. An acute and the President's levees, to the Houses of Lewatchful observer of the social, the acade. gislation during their sittings, to very many mical, and literary characteristics of Ame- courts of justice, to churches and chapels, rica, including such personal notices of to universities, and into the best and most leading men as a gentleman might feel war. varied society of America. Why is all ranted in giving, without any breach of eti. this? And why did he form the once-or. quette or abuse of confidence, or sense of twice-expressed determination to give no personal embarrassment, cannot even now notices or sketches of individuals ? And fail of producing a work equally interest. if he thought fit thus to resolve-thus to ing and valuable to Englishmen, who have exclude all possible topics of interest to the a deep stake in all that concerns their bre-reading public—why, with his reputation thren in the far West. We utterly dislike and influence, did he publish a book on and despise all those who would seek to set America at all? Would not such a perus against Jonathan, by dwelling, as some formance, iis omissis, be indeed the play of bave done, with resolute ill-nature on the Hamlet, with the character of Hamlet omitweak parts of bis character-needlessly ted? How many names of eminent perwounding his vanity, and irritating his na- sons in America occur to one's recollectional feelings. Jonathan may rely on it, tion, of whom personal sketches by so spino British heart beats which does not de- rited and faithful a pencil as that of Boz, light to own that he is bone of our bone, would have been delightful and invaluable !

Yet in his pages, they all . Men and Manners in America. 2 vols. 1834.

"Come like shadows, so depart."

« PreviousContinue »