Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

a specimen of the general style, and with this we take our leave, for the present, of the most dishonest and contemptible set of infidels that the present age can boast.

“ Never since God said Let there be light, and there was light, has so much been said in so few words. They declare the sovereignty of Jesus, as vicegerent of God the Father, over the universe; they virtually annul the exclusiveness of Judaism by substituting a scheme. of universal revelation; they express a promise to the Christian Church of surviving, whatever may befall, under the countenance of her master, till the world's end. And here let me ask in passing, has this promise or prophecy, for such in fact it is, been fulfilled so far as we can judge of its fulfilment, up to the present day? You will remember, if uttered by Jesus, it must have been delivered nearly eighteen centuries ago ; and at all events it has now been uttered by St. Matthew more than seventeen hundred years. Take it at the lowest date, put it at 1700 years, which however I have not the slightest right to do, nay perhaps am not justified in doing ; and even on that supposition, let me again ask, has the prophecy stood the test of those 1700 years ? or has it not? Does Christianity still exist, as Jesus so long ago declared it should? or does it not ? But time alone is a very insufficient measure of the unforeseeableness of a prophecy. Try it then by the alterations which in the interval have taken place. Try it by the obliteration of Paganism from the memories of all except the book-learned; by the dissolution of the Roman empire ; by the effects of those discoveries and mechanical inventions which no one had in those days dreamt of, but which have changed the face of the world politically and intellectually, as much as ten deluges could have changed its physical appearance. But why remind you of such lesser changes ? when even the languages of those times are dead, and the races which spake them are extinct, so that the earth is occupied by a new people." And Christianity, how has that fared amid the torrents which, have swept down every thing that seemed most firmly rooted round it? It has escaped and gathered strength and spread; from being when planted the least of seeds, it has shot up into a tree so great, that all the liberty, all the knowledge, all the civilization in the world have been reared to vigour and maturity beneath the friendly shelter of its branches. It has escaped, but not alone; the riven trunk of Judaism still sticks, or rather lives, in the earth (for Judaism does.live) fronting it. Compare these two survivors from a state of things long since passed away. Contrast the indestructible life, the increasing luxuriance, of the one, with the equally unperishing barrenness and stationary dissolution of the other; and then ask yourself, whether this, their joint escape from the violence of time and circumstances, can be reasonably attributed to chance, which is a word ? or to natural causes, which could never have spared both ? or to any other source or inf ence except the favour and will of God?" P. 100,

ART. V.-High-ways and By-ways; or, Tales of the Roadside, picked up in the French Provinces. By a Walking Gentleman. Second Series. 3 vols. 12mo. Colburn. 1825.

This is an agreeable addition to the second-rate novels of the day. The author has no bad knack at telling a story, and works up some of his scenes with great success. The plots, the most difficult portion of his undertaking, are not powerfully conceived, nor is the general management of them above a respectable mediocrity. The strain of sentiment also is too mawkish for our taste; and probably the writer will be astonished at hearing, that the love scenes, upon which so much of his narrative hinges, are the worst part of his performance. In the three tales now related, two most violent passions are contracted at first sight, and the third, a mutual flame, without any sight at all. This is drawing somewhat too freely upon the credulity of ladies and gentlemen in their teens. There is also throughout the work a diffuseness with which we could readily dispense. But the volumes are entertaining; and to such as would wile away an idle hour in the perusal of an innocent work of imagina tion, they may be safely recommended.

The first story, Caribert, the bear-hunter, is decidedly the best. The plan and the execution are both good, and there are passages which excite the liveliest interest. The bravest and most skilful sportsman on the Pyrenees has been decoyed from his father and the chace by the charms of a lowland maid. The old man encounters an enormous bear; receives a severe wound, and loses his favourite dog. Caribert returns home, and vows revenge; but a fever, terminating in insanity, prevents the accomplishment of his purpose.

“ Soon after Caribert and his father had quitted their home, the morning, which had only just broke, began to be more than commonly overcast. A snow shower, mixed with rain, assailed them ere they reached the Pic du Midi; and the piercing cold of the air, added to the sleet beating cuttingly into his face, brought on, with Caribert, repeated attacks of violent and alternate fever and shivering: When they arrived at the den of the bear, which was formed of a cavity in the western side of the mountain, close to that terrific precipice which I have already endeavoured to describe, they were both benumbed, and scarcely capable of exertion; but the old man, rousing up all his wrath and courage for the onset, approached the cave, and with loud shouts of defiance, endeavoured to stir up the savage animal's rage. The

e summons was no sooner heard than answered. A horrible growl sent out from the recess, was followed by the appearance of the bear, which rushed forth as if in conscious

recollection of yesterday's triumph. At the appalling sound and sight, Pero, the faithful and courageous dog, unsupported by his former ally, and having his share of brúte remembrance too, of the late rencontre, hung down his head, dropped his tail, and fled yelping down the mountain: Old Larcole grasped his pike firmly, and advanced. The hideous monster reared itself upon its hind legs, stretched out its fore paws, and as, with its jaws yawning wide, its fearful tusks displayed, and growling with horrid energy, it was in the very act of springing forward, the veteran hunter stepped close :up; and aimed a thrust with no flinching strength, right at his enemy's heart. He was not far wide of that vital spot. His pike pierced the left breast, and went out clearly at the shoulder. Rendered frantic by the pain, the bear bounded up, Aung itself full upon its undaunted assailant, and fell upon him to the earth.". The old man, burying his head under the body of his foe, received on the back and shoulders of his doublet its unavailing efforts to penetrate the thick folds of armour with tusks and nails.

He tugged at the pike to extricate it from the body, but his position was such that he could not succeed, and every new effort only tended to give issue to the thick stream of blood which flowed from the wound. During this frightful struggle, the yells of the bear were mixed with and smothered by the loud execrations of the old man. The latter, at length, gave up the hope of recovering his pike, but strove fairly next to get rid of his terrific burthen. He succeeded so far as to get one leg clear, and with his nervous grasp, entwined round the body of the brute; he was rising on his knee, and called out,, Now, Caribert, now! To his heart-to his heart the death blow, now! strike, strike !'—but Caribert struck not! He stood gazing on the scene-panic-struck_fixed to the spot with emotions not fathomable to man,-a terrible but not solitary instance of the perilous risks run by mental courage, as well as by hunian virtue. I do not inquire into the mystery-but there he stood, its horrible and shuddering illustration !

The old man was now getting clear, but the bear had his hold in turn. His huge paws were fastened with a dreadful force round one of his victim's thighs ; and recovering from his sprawling posture, he began to draw him backwards, evidently in the design of regaining his den. The old man's courage rose with his danger, for he alertly drew his knife from his belt, opened the blade, and plunged it repeatedly into the body of the bear. The latter leaped and bounded with agony; and Larcole, recovering his feet once more, succeeded in grasping the savage in his arms. But the trial could not be prolonged. He was drooping under the dreadful gripe.-Breathless and faint, he could only utter some terrific curses against the recreant who had abandoned him; and while Caribert gazed, his brain on fire, his hands outstretched, his tongue cleaving to his mouth, but his limbs trembling, his heart sunk, and his feet rooted to the earth, he saw the white locks of his aged father floating over the neck of his destroyer ; while the dying animal, in his blindpeşs, not knowing what he did, had retreated to the very edge of

ܪ

the precipice, slipping at every backward plunge in the slough formed by the snow and his own heart's blood, by which it was dissolved. The old man, seeing his terrible fate, seemed to acquire for an, instant the gigantic energy of despair. Throwing one glance across the horrid space on the border of which he stood, he screamed in a voice of thunder, · Caribert ! Caribert!' The terrible expression conveyed in this hoarse scream, struck on the mind of his son with an electrical shock. Suddenly roused from his stupor, he recovered for an instant all his recollection and his courage. He uttered a cry of corresponding fierceness,—swung his brandished pike—rushed forwards with open arms to seize his father, and snatch him from his destiny,—but it was too late! The monster touched on the extreme edge-lost his footing--plunged instinctively forward—took another backward step,—and just as Caribert believed he had grasped his father in his outstretched arms, both man and bear were lost to his sight, and their groans came mingling in the air, as they went crashing down below. Vol. i. p. 172. : We cannot promise the reader a second passage as good as this; but the adventures of the maniac are well managed, and a magnificent hunting party, which closes his career, is very little inferior to that which we have extracted,

The Priest and the garde du corps, does not particularly please us. The latter falls furiously in love with MariaAntoinette; guards her through all the perils described by Madame de Stael, Madame Campan, &c. and blows out his brains when he can be of no farther service. The whole is an extravagant burlesque; and we should wish the chivalrous young gentlemen at the lanterne or the guillotine, were he not introduced to our notice, and accompanied throughout his adventures, by an Irish oddity of the most amusing descrip-. tion. This person's name is Father O'Callogan. Having left his native land at an early age, learned French and divinity at a convent, and practised the latter in the Irish brigade; he is encountered by the author in a Flemish town, and recognising one other

as countrymen, they become bosom friends in a moment. The result is that the priest communicates the history of the garde du corps; but there is nothing more worthy of notice in the whole narrative, than the entertainment by which it is ushered in. The comrades are seated in the priest's miserable garret, and thus they feast à l'Irlandois.

“ The table was soon arranged by the old priest and this faithful friend and serving woman, who had prepared his frugal meals and attended to his desolate chamber for more than twenty years. Her next entry into the room was with a large earthen pot, called in France a marmite, which she deposited by the fire, while she went out again to complete the omelet, for the making of which the said

L VOL. XXIII. FEBRUARY, 1825.

[ocr errors]

marmite was removed from her fire to ours. I knew this was jour maigre for the worthy priest, and, as a tureen of onion soup was quickly smoking on the table, I was rather puzzled to divine what were the contents of the pot, until their boiling furiously up against the lid forced it to one side, and I discovered amidst the foam of the agitated water a quantity of large potatoes, dancing in the bubbling element and bursting their skins as if they laughed in concert with the motion.

My good Father,' cried I, not a little pleased at this plentiful specimen of our national food, “ I see you have not lost your

Irish taste.'

«« « God forbid that I did !' replied he; no, no, my dear child, there's no fear of my losing the taste of any thing Irish, for I've the smack of the potatoes, and the flavour of the turf just as fresh upon my palate this minute as the day I sailed from the Cove of Cork. Sit over-sit over to the table, my jewel-Madame Genevieve will be after draining the potatoes while we're aiting our soup.?

“ These operations were duly performed, and when our part was finished the old woman placed her pyramid of pommes de terre ait: naturel in the centre of the table.

Ah, there they are the smilers, smoking and mailey.!! exclaimed the priest. There they are, just quite as natural as if they came out of my poor ould father's cabbage garden at the fut of Castle Carbery. Why then doesn't this put you in mind of Ireland? upon my salvation it warms the heart in my body; that's no lie that I tell you. Och ! that's the real way to dress potatoes—there's none of your frites or purées, or maitres d'hôtel, but plain honest downright thumpers, bursting out through their skins, and crying

come ait me, come ait me,' like the little pigs with knives and forks in them.'

“ But I cannot afford more room to a detail of our repast, nor of my host's discourse. The homeliness of both possessed a considerable relish for me; and the natural bearing of the priest while I parlook of his humble fare, and listened to his coarse phraseology, put me completely at my ease, because it convinced me that he was perfectly at his.

When we had finished the soup, the omelet, a bit of salt fish, and the biggest half of the potatoes,' as my host expressed it, he stood up and produced from the bottom of a little press in the wall, a bottle covered with dust, and about half full of a colourless liquid. While he proceeded to break off the sealing wax which thickly covered the cork, I saw the tears , rush into his eyes, as his countenance became evidently agitated.

“! Well then,' cried he, it's à thought that suddenly struck me, and sure it isn't a bad one ;-yes, yes, by my sowl, you shall drink share of it, you shall, and you're the first man that has as much as smelt it, for two-and-twenty years. There-smell it, what. is it do you think? do you know what it is now-Eh?'

“ I smelt it and tasted accordingly, and found that this treasure,

[ocr errors]

4

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »