« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
lady hops up to the gentleman, who stands at the distance of about three paces, and then capers back again to her place ;-the gentleman of course does the same; then they skip one way, then they jump another ;-then they turn their backs to each other ;-then they seize each other and shake hands; then they whirl round, and throw themselves into a thousand grotesque and ridiculous attitudes; --sometimes on one leg, and sometimes on the other, and sometimes on no leg at all : and this they call exhibiting the graces! By the nineteen thousand capers of the great mountebank of Damascus, but these graces must be something like the crooked backed dwarf of Shabrac, who is sometimes permitted to amuse his Highness by imitating the tricks of a monkey. These fits continue for short intervals of from four to five hours, till at last the lady is led off, faint, languid, exhausted, and panting, to her carriage ;-rattles home ;-passes a night of feverish rest. lessness, cold perspirations, and troubled sleep; rises late next morning, if she rises at all; is nervous, petulant, or a prey to languid indifference all day; a mere household spectre, neither giving nor receiving enjoyment; in the 1 evening hurries to another dance ; receives an unnatural exhilaration from the lights, the music, the crowd, and the unmeaning bustle ;-futters, sparkles, and blooms for a while, until the transient delirium being past, the infatuated maid drops and languishes into apathy again; is again led off to her carriage, and the next morning rises to go through exactly the same joyless routine.
And yet, wilt thou believe it, my dear Raggi, these are rational beings; nay, more, their countrymen would fain persuade me they have souls! Is it not a thousand times to be lamented that beings, endowed with charms that might warm even the frigid heart of a dervise ; with social and endearing powers, that would render them the joy and pride of the harem ;-should surrender themselves to a habit of heartless dissipation, which preys imperceptibly on the roses of the check; which robs the eye of its lustre, the mouth of its dimpled smile, the spirits of their cheerful hilarity, and the limbs of their elastic vigour :-which hurries them off in the spring-time of existence; or, if they survive, yields to the arms of a youthful bridegroom a frame wrecked in the storms of
struggling with premature infirmity. Alas, Muley! may I not ascribe to this cause the num. ber of little old women I meet with in this country, from the age of eighteen to eight-and-twenty?
In sauntering down the room, my attention was attracted by a smoky painting, which, on nearer examination, I found consisted of two female figures crowning a bust with a wreath of laurel. “This, I suppose,” cried I, “ was some famous dancer in his time?" O, no," replied my friend,“ he was only a general.", " Good; but then he must have been great at a cotillion, or expert at a fiddle-stick-or why is his memorial here?” “ Quite the contrary," answered my companion ; « history makes no mention of his ever having flourished a fiddle-stick, or figured in a single dance. You have no doubt, heard of him: he was the illustrious Washington, the father and deliverer of his country : and, as our nation is remarkable for gratitude to great men, it always does honour to their memory, by placing their monuments over the doors of taverns, or in the corners of dancing-rooms.”
From thence my friend and I strolled into a small apartment adjoining the grand saloon, where I beheld a number of grave looking persons with venerable gray heads, but without beards, which I thought very unbecoming, seated round a table studying hieroglyphics. I approached them with reverence, as so many magi, or learned men, endeavouring to expound the mysteries of Egyptian science : several of them threw down money, which I supposed was a reward proposed for some great discovery, when presently one of them spread his hieroglyphics on the table, exclaimed triumphantly, “ Two bullets and a bragger!" and swept all the money into his pocket. He has discovered a key to the hieroglyphics, thought I-happy mortal!—no doubt, his name shall be immortalized. · Willing, however, to be satisfied, I looked round on my companion with an inquiring eye; he understood me, and informed me that these were a company of friends, who had met together to win each other's money and be agreeable." Is that all ?"' exclaimed I; “ why then, I pray you, make way, and let me escape from this temple of abominations, who knows but these people, who meet together to toil, worry, and fatigue themselves to death, and give it the name of pleasureand who win each other's money by way of being agreeable-may some one of them take a liking to me, and pick my pocket, or break my head in a paroxysm of hearty good-wil !"
JAMES I. OF SCOTLAND.
JAMES flourished nearly about the time of Chaucer and Gower, and was evidently an admirer and studier of their writings. Indeed, in one of his stanzas he acknowledges them as his masters; and, in some parts of his poem, we find traces of similarity to their productions, more especially to those of Chaucer. There are always, however, general features of resemblance in the works of contemporary authors, which are not so much borrowed from each other as from the times. Writers, like bees, toil their sweets in the wide world; they incorporate with their own conceptions the anecdotes and thoughts which are current in society; and thus each generation has some feature in common, characteristic of the age in which it lived.
James in fact belongs to one of the most brilliant eras of our literary history, and establishes the claims of his country to a participation in its primitive honours. Whilst a small cluster of English writers are constantly cited as the fathers of our verse, the name of their great Scottish compeer is apt to be passed over in silence: but he is evidently worthy of being enrolled in that little constellation of remote but never-failing luminaries, who shine in the highest firmament of literature, and who, like morning stars, sang together at the bright dawning of British poesy.
How Peter Stuyvesant relieved the Sovereign People from
the Burthen of taking care of the Nation—with sundry Particulars of his Conduct in Time of Peace. The history of the reign of Peter Stuyvesant furnishes a melancholy picture of the incessant cares and vexations inseparable from government; and may serve as a solemn warning to all who are ambitious of attaining the seat of power. Though crowned with victory, enriched by conquest, and returning in triumph to his metropolis, his exultation was checked by beholding the sad abuses that had taken place during the short interval of his absence.
The populace, unfortunately for their own comfort, had
taken a deep draught of the intoxicating cup of power, during the reign of William the Testy; and though, upon the accession of Peter Stuyvesant, they felt, with a certain instinctive perception, which mobs as well as cattle possess, that the reins of government had passed into stronger hands; yet they could not help fretting, and chafing, and champing on the bit, in restive silence.
It seems by some strange and inscrutable fatality, to be the destiny of most countries (and more especially of your enlightened republics,) always to be governed by the most incompetent man in the nation; so that you will scarcely find an individual throughout the whole community, but who will detect to you innumerable errors in administration, and convince you in the end, that had he been at the head of affairs, matters would have gone on a thousand times more prosperously. Strange ! that that government, which seems to be so generally understood, should invariably be so erroneously administered-strange, that the talent of legislation, so prodigally bestowed, should be denied to the only man in the nation to whose station it is requisite.
Thus it was in the present instance, not a man of all the herd of psuedo-politicians in New-Amsterdam, but was an oracle on topics of state, and could have directed public affairs incomparably better than Peter Stuyvesant. But so severe was the old governor in his disposition that he would never suffer one of the multitude of able counsellors by whom he was surrounded, to intrude his advice, and save the country from destruction,
Scarcely, therefore, had he departed on his expedition against the Swedes, than the old factions of William Kieft's reign began to thrust their heads above water, and to gather together in political meetings, to discuss “the state of the nation.” At these assemblages the busy burgomasters and their officious schepens made a very considerable figure. These worthy dignitaries were no longer the fat, well-fed, tranquil magistrates, that presided in the peaceful days of Wouter Van Twiller. On the contrary, being elected by the people, they formed in a manner a sturdy bulwark between the mob and the administration. They were great candidates for popularity, and strenuous advocates for the rights of the rabble; resembling in disinterested zeal the wide-mouthed tribunes of ancient Rome, or those virtuous patriots of modern days, emphatically denominated “the friends of the people.'
Under the tuition of these profound politicians it is astonishing how suddenly enlightened the swinish multitude became, in matters above their comprehensions, Coblers, tinkers, and tailors, all at once felt themselves inspired, like those religious idiots, in the glorious times of monkish illumination; and, without any previous study or experience, became instantly capable of directing all the movements of government. Nor must I neglect to mention a number of superannuated, wrong-headed old burghers, who had come over when boys, in the crew of the Goede Vrouro, and were held up as infallible oracles by the enlightened mob. To suppose that a man who had helped to discover a country did not know how it ought to be governed was preposterous in the extreme. It would have been deemed as much a heresy as, at the present day, to question the political talents and universal infal
libility of our old “heroes of '76”—and to doubt that he . who had fought for a government, however stupid he might naturally be, was not competent to fill any station under it.
But as Peter Stuyvesant had a singular inclination to govern his province without the assistance of his subjects, he felt highly incensed on his return to find the factious appearance they had assumed during his absence. His first measure, therefore, was to restore perfect order, by prostrating the dignity of the sovereign people.
He accordingly watched his opportunity, and one even. ing when the enlightened mob was gathered together, listening to a patriotic speech from an inspired cobler the intrepid Peter, like his great namesake of all the Russias, all at once appeared among them, with a countenance sufficient to petrify a millstone. The whole meeting was thrown into consternation--the orator seemed to have received a paralytic stroke in the very middle of a sublime sentence, and stood aghast with open mouth and trembling knees, whilst the words horror! tyranny! liberty! rights! taxes! death! destruction! and a deluge of other patriotic phrases came roaring from his throat, before he had power to close his lips. The shrewd Peter took no notice of the skulking throng around him but advancing to the brawling bully ruffian, and drawing out a huge silver watch, which might have served in times of yore as a town-clock, and which is still retained by his descendants as a family curiosity, requested the orator to mend it and set it going, The orator humbly confessed it was utterly out of his