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Ye Ballade of Ste. Nicholasse
THE MIDLAND MAGAZINE,
In launching our bark upon the deep of public opinion, our first solicitude has been to lay in a requisite monthly provision ; and we look with a not overweening but chastened complacency upon the completion of our preparations—the elegance and strength of principle upon which the vessel has been constructed, and the choice and goodly freight consigned to us by our friends.
In our course, we shall be careful to avoid all political, religious, and politico-religious skirmishes. In this “piping time of peace," and benign reign of our beloved Victoria, we shall rather pay our addresses to the daughters of Mnemosyne, and beguile the voyage with gentle themes, and dulcet lays, “warm from the brain,” than court rencounters to annoy our passage ; though, if we meet with insulting colours—with an audacious pirate, a robber of “other men's stuff ;" by Neptune! that plagiarist shall quickly die with the splinters. We shall be happy to give a helping hand to docile, meritorious, sea-bred cruisers; but all pretenders, all presumptuous navigators in the high seas of poesy and erudition, shall be driven to the uninitiated landsmen, to con over their technical log-books of learning and rhyme-tagging; the divine spirit of poesy they will never inhale.
What need we say further of our intentions? With regard to our Contributors, we should be ingrates, if we were to withhold our meed of praise, our condign acknowledgment of the rich cargo of Essays, Articles, original Poetry, and miscellaneous literature, confided to us by the vigorous intellect of the Heart of England-the Midland Counties; a region not barren in lofty themes and No. 1.
and literary pursuits; a region that gave birth to Shakspeare and Johnson; that fostered James Watt, and our own Historian, Hutton; a region whose productions felicitously tempered with the rigour of the north, and the fervour of the south, will keep in all climates, and be admitted in any port.
Thus laden, we sail in the humble hope of reaching our wishedfor destination—the patronage of an enlightened and liberal public.
F. S. D.
J. J. B. Birmingham, January, 1852,
The New Year.
BY BE VERLEIG H.
PART 1. “ Well," said my Uncle, “I must say you are strangely altered since you left us for College,-how have you been passing your leisure time there? no wine-parties, I hope.”
My Uncle, Mr. Benjamin Baugh, was an eccentric specimen from dame Nature's pattern-book. In him were combined Naturalist, Phrenologist, Botanist, Geologist, and in fact everything that clings to the musty shelves of a library,—except romance, of which he had rooted in him a superhuman abhorrence. Many a time and oft has he kept me for hours, pouring over a learned dissertation on coal, lime, and all other strata of the earth,—for his edification, though not my own, I confess,—or else some valuable homily on Botany has been lent him, which he was sure I would willingly read during my leisure time to him, on any evening but Friday. The reason he would not read anything on that day, or have any read to him, was simply this-on Friday, his poor wife had died, -on Friday, he had buried her,-and on Friday was he married ; and so to propitiate the gods, he devoted himself, both winter and summer, to wander through the fields, admire the beauties of creation, and before he terminated his ramble, to visit the ground in which his wife was laid—to weep, and eat his bread and cheese (the only meal he ever had on that day) upon her grave. There he used to sit for hours, and never did he return before he laid a pebble on the mound, that covered his shrine, or scratched a stroke upon the grave-stone, that already began to look disfigured under the rude hieroglyphics and sections of triangles that had taken up their station upon its surface. But with all his fancies, he was a dear old man,-a more forgiving spirit, a kinder disposition, a more benevolent hand was never experienced,—though I own it was tedious to please his fancy: for once I stopped for five hours on the sea-shore, and the day was bitter and cold, to collect with him a number of stones and mosses, or in fact anything we could obtain, and in fine to carry them home, in order that he might enrich his cabinet of curiosities. My Uncle was learned, if not in the opinion of the world, in his own fancy, and towards the latter end of his life, devoted himself exclusively to the studies of surgery and metaphysics.
“ Tut, tut, tut, then you'll not tell me," resumed my Uncle, "well, never mind, you have been pretty steady, boy, I hope ?" And here he stroked me on the head, and displaced a ticing curl that graced my brow,—all my hopes were undone,-my sister Annie had kindly consented to introduce me (without my consent) to the rich daughter of Squire Tibbits, on the adjoining Hill. I liked not my new hair-dresser ; I disliked more the appellation he greeted me with.
“What art ill, Horace, that thou wilt not answer ?”
“Merely a sick headache,” I said in a low tone of voice, although the impression struck me at the time, I did not know where the particular characteristics of that disease lay—at least, I knew not the effects.
“ Tut, tut, tut, I thought as much,—what saith Celsus upon all diseases of the cranium ;” and here to my utter disgust did my esteemed friend proceed to the book-case, pulling down a quarto volume, and adjusting his spectacles, at the same time looking very anxiously into the contents of the book. “ Page 17, page 47,-Book 2. Pro his Di-vi-ti-a-c-u-s nam post disces-sum Belgarum.” I had caught the last sounds, and in an inward flood of laughter, precipitated myself into the unfathomable squab of the sofa. My Uncle not having learnt the tongue of the “ Populus Romanus," had been accustomed to peruse the interlinear translation of his authorities in his mother tongue. To show me that he knew Latin as well as English, he commeneed translating. “Tut, tut, tut, for these Durtiacus pleads for after the departure of the Belgre Cæsar.” I could contain myself no longer. My medical adviser having laid down a volume of Celsus, while he adjusted his spectacles—I had by some feat of necromancy exchanged it for one of like dimensions,—though of different title,—the book he was unconsciously conning for tonics and the like, was Cæsar's Commentaries of the Gallic War!
“What !” exclaimed my Uncle, perceiving me in convulsions, “Dare you, who scarcely know an airy tittle of nothing: dare you confront yourself against all the volumes of logic and metaphysics that have ever been written;" meaning himself; “ Tut, tut, tut,—but what says Plato, human nature,—that of which, I own, I am the greatest of observers”—
“Shakspeare," resumed I, "was decidedly the greatest”
“Shakspeare, zounds! Did Shakspeare ever wager his body in battle again a whole host of barbarians ? Did Shakspeare ever slay a fellow mortal, and then liken him to grass, as I have done in my fifth volume of Lyrics—to a bubble on the ocean's expanse—to a leaf falling from a tree-to atut-tut-tut!”—
It was the first time in my life I had ever heard my Uncle's words approach a poetic simile. I was undone; and my Uncle certainly excited-excited beyond measure—and in endeavouring to free myself by an apology, I drew myself farther into the torrent of his rage.
“But Milton," said I.
- Milton, a mere counterfeit-Paradise Lost-Paradise Regained-Paradise fiddlesticks. I tell you, young man, if John Milton had possessed the common sense of your Uncle, Benjamin Baugh, formerly Quarter-master of Her