« PreviousContinue »
gable in business, a great observer of men, and is extolled by Spanish writers as unparalleled in the science of the cabinet. It has been maintained by writers of other nations, however, and apparently with reason, that he was bigoted in religion, and craving rather than magnanimous in his ambition; that he made war less like a paladin than a prince, less for glory than for mere dominion; and that his policy was cold, selfish, and artful. He was called the wise and prudent in Spain ; in Italy, the pious; in France and England, the ambitious and perfidious.
Contemporary writers have been enthusiastic in their descriptions of Isabella; but time has sanctioned their eulogies. She was of the middle size, and well formed; with a fair complexion, auburn hair, and clear blue eyes. There was a mingled gravity and sweetness in her countenance, and a singular modesty in her mien, gracing, as it did, great firmness of purpose and earnestness of spirit. Though strongly attached to her husband, and studious of his fame, yet she always maintained her distinct rights as an allied prince. She exceeded him in beauty, personal dignity, acuteness of genius, and grandear of soul. Combining the active, the resolute qualities of man, with the softer charities of woman, she mingled in the warlike councils of her husband, and being inspired with a truer idea of glory, infused a more lofty and generous temper into his subtle and calculating policy.
It is in the civil history of their reign, however, that the character of Isabella shines most illustrious. Her fostering and maternal care was continually directed to reform the laws, and heal the ills engendered by a long course of civil wars. She assembled round her the ablest men in literature and science, and directed herself by their counsels in encouraging literature and the arts. She promoted the distribution of honours and rewards for the promulgation of knowledge, fostered the recently invented art of printing; and, through her patronage, Salamanca rose to that eminence which it assumed among the learned institutions of the age. Such was the noble woman who was destined to acquire immortal renown by her spirited patronage of the disco'ery of the new world.
The style of this piece requires the manner of a lively” and “gay" conversation, interspersed with occasional “ serious” expression, and, sometimes, with graphic “humour.” To give these changes of feeling with full natural effect, is the chief object to be kept in view, in reading. When the description borders on the sairical style, a peculiar pungency is required in the emphasis ; and the “ slide,” or “simple inflection,” passes into the “ wave,” or “ double inflection." A pompous “ median” swell, also, is sometimes thrown in, to give efficacy to descriptive tone, in burlesque passages.]
MR. MILSTEAD, who, to the most sincere piety united a cultivated mind, a benevolent heart, and a cheerful and liberal disposition, had been recently appointed to a church in one of the small towns of a certain Atlantic section of the Union, that shall be nameless. His wife was a young and beautiful woman, whose character harmonized in every respect with his own.
As they had no children, and were good managers, Mr. Milstead soon found that his salary would not only afford them all they wanted, but that it would leave them something to give away. They became very popular with the congregation ; for Mr. Milstead, though indefatigable in administering to the spiritual wants of his flock, was never unmindful of their temporal happiness; and his judicious and amiable wife went hand in hand with him, in every thing.
They had not been long established in Tamerton, when they observed with regret, that, though the inhabitants showed the best possible disposition to be on intimate terms with the minister and his lady, there was little sociability or familiarity among themselves. The society of Tamerton had gradually divided into numerous circles; some of these circles being so small as to comprise but one or two families. Mrs. Gutheridge, for instance, the most wealthy woman of the place, revolved entirely in her own orbit. She was the childless widow of Zephaniah Pelatiah Gutheridge, who had, for several successive sessions, filled the office of speaker, in the senate of the state legislature, — an office that suited him exactly, as he had never been known to speak in the house, and very rarely out of it.
Mr. Gutheridge had long been the chief man of Tamerton; and his widow now reigned in his stead, — alone in her glory, and occupant of the broadest, the longest, and the tallest white frame domicile in the village. She was originally from the city, and of a very genteel family : her grandfather, having made his fortune, had quitted bricklaying, and turned gentleman, long before he was superannuated. Her father had not contaminated his hands by putting them to any trade whatever; having, after he left college, attended to no other business than the care of preserving his life, by studying to guard himself from all possible maladies and accidents. Therefore he died,- of no particular disease, - at the age of thirty-four.
Mrs. Gutheridge was a large woman, with a majestic figure. She had an aquiline nose, immense black eyes, and a prominent mouth, with very good teeth. After she became a widow, she preferred remaining at Tamerton, to removing to the city; for, like Cæsar, she thought it better to be first in a village, than second at Rome. She had, however, a sovereign contempt for every man, woman, and child in the neighbourhood, with the exception of the clergyman and his wife, whom she tolerated, because she heard that, in England, the aristocracy make a point of upholding the church; and she professed to be aristocratic in all her ways.
With the assistance of her maid, she spent an hour every day in attiring herself for her solitary dinner; and she sat down alone to her sumptuous table, "all dressed up in rich array.” This she called self-respect. Her abigail reported that Mrs. Gutheridge had a set of night curls for sleeping in; and that her nightcaps were far superior to any daycaps that had ever appeared in Tamerton.
Mrs. Gutheridge rarely walked beyond her own grounds; but she rode out in her carriage every afternoon. She was seldom seen at full length, except on Sunday morning, when she proceeded up the middle aisle of the church, swinging a magnificent reticule, and followed by her black man, carrying two magnificent books. Her pew was richly lined and carpeted; and it was surrounded by curtains through which she could peep, without being exposed to the gaze of the vulgar; for of that class she considered the whole congregation. She reminded Mr. Milstead of the sovereign of one of the Asiatic islands, who always kept his own name a profound secret, lest it should be profaned by the utterance of his subjects.
Mrs. Gutheridge, being unquestionably at the head, (or rather over the head,) of Tamerton society, the next position was occupied by the families of two lawyers, and the third circle consisted of three physicians; for, except in Philadelphia, lawyers are generally supposed to take rank of doctors; but, in the city of brotherly love, that point is still contested. With regard to the medical fraternity of Tamerton, it might be said in the words of Shelty, that “every man shook his own hand;" for they never met in amity, and were seldom on speaking terms. Dr. Drainblood referred every disease to the head; Dr. Famishem deduced "all the ills that flesh is heir to,” from the state of the stomach; and Dr. Juste Milieu, (who was a Frenchman,) maintained a strict neutrality; keeping half way between the two theories, doing neither good nor harm to his patients, and incurring the contempt and reprobation of both his fellow-practitioners. He was, however, in high favour with the young ladies and the mothers : the grandmothers did not like him quite so well.
In the fourth circle, were the store-keepers; and they found it convenient to be tolerably friendly. Next came the tavern-keepers, who were rivals and foemen. The mechanics all took precedence of each other; there being no reason why a carpenter should vail his bonnet to a wheelwright, why a shoemaker should do reverence to a tailor, or why a butcher should succumb to a baker. As to the clerks, milliners, and mantua-makers, they got in where they could. The teachers got in nowhere; except one lady, who, under the signature of Polyhymnia, supplied the weekly newspaper with odes, “after the manner of Pindar," (not Peter,) and was therefore generally invited to meet strangers, and to show them that the town of Tamerton possessed a live author.
Let it, however, be understood that the integrity of the circles was chiefly preserved by the ladies. The gentlemen, when their wives were not by, frequently gave way to their natural dislike of restraint, and talked to each other familiarly enough, particularly on politics; for when that subject is started, no American can possibly keep silent.
Such was the state of society in the village of Tamerton, when Mr. and Mrs. Milstead first removed thither. They soon discovered the position of affairs by visiting round among the congregation; and when the pastor and his lady invited company to their own house, they always perceived that they had given some dissatisfaction by not assorting the guests according to rank.
Mrs. Gutheridge kept herself entirely aloof, and showed no other civility to Mr. and Mrs. Milstead, than that of coming in her carriage to leave at their door two cards printed in
Mr. Milstead took occasion, in one of his sermons, to deprecate the sin of pride and arrogance, which he justly represented as being especially absurd and inconvenient in a small community, every member of which was a citizen of a republic. His discourse was eloquent and impressive; and it was heard with due attention. Yet the only effect it produced, was, that none of the congregation took his admonitions to themselves, but all hoped that their neighbours would.
[This beautiful example of pensive “repose,” passes from the “ sub
dued” form of “pure tone,” in the utterance of tranquillity and pathos, which prevail through the first stanza, to that of solemnity and awe, at the close of the last stanza. In the second and third stanzas, the “orotund” tone of joy is delicately blended with the pensive expression of regret, in that peculiar suavity of voice which belongs to those moods of memory which are pleasant but mournful to the soul.” Such passages require a nice attention to the full yet gentle effect of the melodious utterance appropriate to poctry, - the prolonged and lingering swell, slowly vanishing on the ear, and imparting to metre and cadence something of the effect of a closing strain of distant music.]
There is an evening twilight of the heart,
When its wild passion waves are lulled to rest,
As fades the day-beam in the rosy west.
We gaze upon them as they melt away,
But hope is round us with her angel lay,