Images de page

Mohammed Ali Pasha is a Turk, a very Turk, &c. So far from improving, as far as we could hear and see, he is ruining and impoverishing his country. He has got rid of his Turks and Albanians, and flatters himself his new levy is a master-stroke of policy. He does not pay, and will never attach them; and if they do not (which I think probable) de. sert with their arms, and disturb his conquests and possessions above the cataracts, they will die away as a body, and fall to pieces in a very short period of time.

The protection which he affords to the European traveller is to be acknowledged, but not at the expense of truth. He knows if his country was not safe, the European would not come there: he encourages the intercourse, because he avows his wish to receive and employ Franks; and it is necessary, therefore, to let them sce and know that protection is afforded to them, and to accustom his subjects to their presence. As far as Pasha can be independent of the Porte, he is, and he knows it is only by cultivating his Eu. ropean relations that he can effectually continue so to the end. They might now send him the bowstring in vain; they tell you that he is not sanguinary; men grow tired of shedding blood, as well as of other pleasures; but if the cutting off a head would drop gold into his coffers, he would not be slow to give the signal". His laugh has nothing in it of nature; how can it have? I can hear it now,-a hard sharp laugh, such as that with which strong heartless men would divide booty torn from the feeble. I leave him to his ad

mirers. At one thing I heartily rejoice; it is said that our consul-general has great

influence with him, and it is known that that is always exerted freely and amicably for Franks of all nations in distress or difficulty, and often for natives also.

We went to the castle and visited the arsenal; a clear-eyed, intelligent, manly spoken Englishman was in temporary charge of it, and hoped to be confirmed in the situation. He was a good specimen of what our countrymen are in such charges. Not a great deal of work is done here; there are plenty of good workmen, Franks, and some English, who were

disappointed with their employer, and about to return they only cast four pounders. It was in a room here, over a machine for boring cannon, that some Frenchman formerly in charge had paint. ed in large characters-" Vive Mahomed Ali, Protecteur des Arts!" The Englishman said, that when the Pasha visited

the arsenal, he certainly asked questions that surprised him, in a Turk. A man in power, of common intelligence, soon learns, by some means or another, to ask a few questions when he visits an estab lishment. His merit, if any, is, in defiance of prejudices, receiving men with heads to contrive, and hands to execute what himself, his three-tailed sons, and his people cannot.

These particulars are certainly at direct variance with all the accounts of the Pasha we have hitherto seen. Mr Rae Wilson, one of the latest writers on Egypt, whom we know to be a most credible and trust-worthy reporter of all that fell under his observation, characterises him as a man possessed of the most liberal sentiments, anxious to promote the welfare of his people by every honourable means, diligent in encouraging learning, and even the arts, and shrewd in adapting his policy to these laudable purposes. Belzoni also speaks of him in language equally commendatory; and from these and other concurring testimonies in the Pasha's favour, many an enlightened politician has been led to look towards him as the very Viceroy of Egypt who is most likely to raise that deeply-degraded country a few degrees up in the scale of political importance among the nations of the world. We do not, however, presume to contradict our author's statements respecting the character of the Pasha, for a wily Turk is a being about whom very opposite opinions may be conscientiously entertained by different individuals; only we think he has shewn no extraordinary degree of charity, in insinuating that a "set of foreign adventurers put notions into his (the Pasha's) head, and words into his mouth, which pass for, and, in truth, become his own;" leaving us to infer from this that other travellers had been entirely deceived in thinking that his seeming wisdom was any thing more than dogmas, learnt off by rote, the mere pretty-pollisms of a parrot. We request the reader to observe how M. A. B. tries to lessen our opinion of the Pasha's shrewdness in the sentence immediately following that which is printed in italics in

We do not like the apparently illiberal spirit in which these remarks are given.-ED.

the foregoing extract, and in which he attempts to neutralize the effect of the little credit he had reluctantly and very quaintly given to him. In short, we think M. A. B. has com pletely mistaken the Viceroy's character, and we are still willing to

believe all that has been said of him by the two travellers before mentioned. We would fain hope, indeed, that we are correct in this notion of the Pasha's character, because we cannot help cherishing an expectation, that if he lives to witness a little more of the success of the Greeks, he may be encouraged to bestir himself to exertion in the same cause. It is a fact well known, that he has gone as far as he could well go in freeing himself from the dominancy of the Porte, and indeed he is now almost independent of it, his subjection to its authority being little more than what a nominal vassalage would be in a feudal country. His means, too, are considerable, viewing the condition in which Egypt remained under the rude policy of his immediate predecessors; or, rather, they are considerable, when contrasted with the now enervated state of the Ottoman

Government. Joined with the effective forces which the Greeks can send into the field, therefore, an army of Egyptian Arabs would prove a most formidable obstacle in the way of any attempt on the part of the Porte to re-subjugate the land of Socrates and Plato; and in estimating the united strength of the Gre cian and Egyptian armies, there is no occasion to view them as thorough ly organized, for though numerous enough, they are, it must be confessed, defective in point of military discipline and skill. The Turks, however, are not, in this respect, a whit their superiors, nor are they more amply provided with financial means; and it is to be at least presumed, that they do not surpass either Arabs or Greeks in military enthusiasm. In short, we believe that Greece and Egypt could, hand in hand, crush the feeble power of the Turks. But we are forgetting what is more particularly our present business.

In speaking of other Egyptian matters, M.A.B. does not shew much of the characteristic erudition and research of the generality of British


travellers. Perhaps this ought not, in his case, to be accounted a fault, for, after what has come from the pens of the numerous sçavans of all nations, who have visited and described the antiquities and'curiosities of the country, little new light could have been expected to be thrown upon them by so cursory an observer as our author. The epigrammatic sketches of the manners of modern Egyptians, however, are interesting, though far too hasty and superficial to satisfy a shrewd, censorious reader.

We intended to follow our author in his excursion to Italy also, but we find our room is already occupied. We regret this the more, as the part of the volume which is devoted to his travels in that country is perhaps the most amusing and valuable: the shortness of his stay at the different places he visited did not permit him to describe them with a travellerlike minuteness and accuracy, but his advertisements of what he saw at Malta, Syracuse, Mount Etna, and Naples, are all written with spirit, and occasionally with force. We were a little struck with the following awkwardly-expressed, though impressive reflections on Rome:

Ascend the tower of the Capitol, and look around over the stately columns, and the pointing obelisks, the temples, porticoes, the arches of triumph! What ages flit, with their crowding shadows, past you! What voices sound, sober and sad, of those who thought and wrote like men worthy the name-men, an undiscovered scroll of whose true thoughts would be prized as a nobler relic than these grand, though ruined shrines of gods and victors, about whom we are

now disenchanted.

The greatest pleasure derived from wandering among these noble remains, is a consideration of the surprising power of man. Beneath such a magnificent ruin as the forum of Nerva, under the columns of a Trajan and an Antoninus, before that stupendous block the obelisk, brought from Heliopolis, and, above all, in that glorious temple the Pantheon, which has been the model for all after-time,

you feel, if you are a common man, one without the bright attainments of that scientific knowledge, which is true power, without even the strength or skill to raise the stone, or shape the common brick; you feel all the advantages and blessings of


society doubly; you shrink to think of the littleness and helplessness of solitary man; you startle at his power and daring, where minds and bodies aid each other, and fill the world with wonders of a creation within, and from its fair self,

which, to the eye of the untutored savage,

would all be miracles.

I like the black and monumental cypresses, which on the hills round this city seem to grow as mourners, and darkly wave their spiral tops above this spot, this grave of glory and of empire. How strange mirth seems in Rome! yet here it is loud, healthy, happy. Beneath a lofty mound of broken sherds and ancient pottery, without the city, there are some rustic taverns, and there are trees near, and grass grows round them: here you may see the people. The women in their black hats, with flowers in them, and bouquets in their hands and bosoms, and the laced corset, and the velvet jacket, nine crowded in one open carriage, all smiles and glowing with rude health, arrive and sit down with men of their own class, at open tables, and feast and dance to the lute and tambourine, and spend the long holiday in merriment. The forms and features of the Roman women are very handsome; they are all

on the large scale, but have astonishingly fine profiles, and eyes of the brightest lustre. They still call these festivals Bacchanalian, and crowd to them, if the weather is fine, in great numbers.

occupied with cursory descriptions of the principal cities through which he passed in his rout home, particularly Florence, Bologna, Padua, Venice, Verona, and Milan, from which one ignorant of the state and character of these places would certainly derive some useful information, but to those already familiar with their history, local curiosities, and the manners of their inhabitants, we fear these descriptions would add but little to their stock of knowledge.

The remainder of the volume is

It must be allowed, however, that observer of men and manners; and our author is an accurate and shrewd it is obvious, from the general character of his writings, that he possesses a heart fitted to sympathise with their feelings and fortunes, and a head capable of communicating to others what he has felt and seen.

[blocks in formation]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Else might I deem thy lovely vale to be Haunted at eve, when day's bright hours of joy are done.

Nor is thy winding loveliness unsung.
Oft, where the slanting birch its tresses

To kiss thy limpid wave, and wild-briar

Nurture from thee, and woodbine wreaths
are hung

Fantastically the dark elms among,
The praises of thy " dimpling course"
are heard,

And yon grey column, near the village

Tells, on its broken tablature, who flung His "rural pipe's" young music o'er thy tide,

A mighty name! yet, while the wild. notes sank,

Blent with thy murmur o'er the silent


A tone imbued his soul that did abide, And oft recall'd his fancy to thy bank, And claim'd his sweetest numbers to thy stream and vale.

[blocks in formation]

REPORT OF AN ADJUDGED LAW-CASE, NOT TO BE FOUND IN THE BOOK8. Shakespeare v. The Author of Waverley.

"I can call spirits from the vasty deep."

THIS day came on, before the Lord Chief Commissioner, Time, a trial, in which Shakespeare was pursuer, and the Author of Waverley defender. As the case excited considerable interest in the literary world, the court was unusually crowded. On the bench, beside the Judge, we observed Homer, Sophocles, Eschylus, and the laughterloving Aristophanes. The Earls of Essex and Southampton, the munifi

cent patrons of the bard of Avon, were present, and seemed to interest themselves much in the proceedings. The jury was composed partly of the gentlemen of former days, and partly of those of the present. Counsel for the pursuer, Lord Chancellor Bacon, &c.; for the defender, Dr Dryasdust, Messrs Gifford, Jeffrey, and the other celebrated critics of the day. Among the various personages who crowded, or, we may say, liter

ally crammed the court, we observed, in a corner, the Author of the Curiosities of Literature, busily engaged taking notes, from whose papers the following account of the proceedings has been chiefly taken.

The points at issue were: Whether was the pursuer or defender the greater genius? And whether the defender, by his productions, had not innovated upon the fame of the pursuer?

An objection was made to the trial going forward, on the ground that the parties did not come before the court on an equal footing; in respect that the one was a writer of dramatic works, and the other of novels, or prose tales and histories; and that therefore a comparison could not properly be drawn between the two. But it was argued, that the two species of composition bore a close resemblance to each other. That both depicted natural incidents and manners, and both dealt in the passions, and feelings, and foibles of humanity. That, in Shakespeare's time, the spirit of the age, and the habits and tastes of the public, had, perhaps, an effect in directing his attention to dramatic works; that the spirit of chivalry, then in its height, made the people delight in tournaments, public shows, and theatrical spectacles: whereas now the sentiments of the public had changed, and their amusements were diverted into other channels. They still retain their taste for the spirit of such works, but their habits have become more do mestic, more retired and sedentary, and their minds less enthusiastic, stirring, and chivalrous: they now prefer reading in their closets such works as the novels in question where the dialogues are so interspersed with description, as to bring the scene in a pleasing manner before the fancy-to witnessing all the pomp and circumstance, and the action and expression of a mimic representation. That, under these circumstances, the Author of Waverley had but adapted his productions to the prevailing taste; and that it is probable, had he written in Shakespeare's time, his pieces would have assumed a similar form to his.

The objection was over-ruled, and Lord Bacon rose to open the case for

the pursuer. He felt considerable diffidence, he said, considering the high merits of the subject, to appear before such a learned and venerable assembly as the champion of his celebrated client in the present case, more especially, as his pursuits and studies might seem to have lain in a different tract. "But I consider, my Lord,” he continued, “ that the man who unfortunately has not a relish for, or he who lets other occupations entirely alienate his taste from such productions, is deprived of many of the most delightful and exhilarating pleasures of a refined mind. I reflect with singular complacency on the many times, when, unbending my mind from severer studies, I have luxuriated on the vivid sallies of imagination, the touching pathos, the poignant wit, and pure morality, contained in the volumes of my illustrious client. I need scarcely enlarge on the fame of this celebrated author; he has received the united and enthusiastic admiration of his own countrymen, and of all those of other countries who are capable of approaching his excellencies. It has been beautifully observed by one of his admirers, that if it should so happen that the race of men became extinct, a being of another species would have a sufficient idea of what human nature was, from Shakespeare's works alone. Every shade of character,-every amiable propensity, every dark, gloomy, and turbulent passion, is pourtrayed with such singular truth and minuteness

Each change of many-colour'd life he drew,

Exhausted worlds, and then imagin'd


Existence saw him spurn her bounded reign,

And panting Time toil'd after him in vain !'

Thus has his name floated down the stream of public opinion, emblazoned by the applauding voice of suc→ cessive ages, without a rival, or even an approach of a competitor; till at last one has arisen, who, similarly gifted in many respects, treads close in his path, and in the eyes of many seems to proceed with equal footsteps.. Far be it from me to at

« PrécédentContinuer »