Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

Critical Reviewers are for supporting the Constitution, both in Church and State. The Critical Reviewers, I believe, often review without reading the works through, but lay hold of a topic, and write chiefly from their own minds. The Monthly Reviewers are duller men, and are glad to read the books through."

But we have now carried our chronological “ Review of Reviews" down to the time proposed :—the establishment of the “Monthly Review ;” and must cut the subject short.

In a future paper, we may resume the topic; which is certainly one of the most interesting in literary history.

NEWPORT IN WINTER.

Is there any

I WA imately bold enough to visit New

It does not require much heroism to go there in summer. If you can patiently endure an Italian climate, gorgeous sunsets, and the sweet stillness of the sea, you will find Newport tolerable in August. İf you do not chafe at pleasant society, and the most various afforded by the country; if you can resign yourself to the sparkling northern, and languid tropical manners; if you like to dance with belles fairer than Bayaderes, and to the most siren music; or if you prefer solitary rambling upon ocean cliffs, hearing the music far away over bare fields; if you are a fisher, or a poet, or a preuxchevalier, you will submit to Newport in summer.

But when, in the most dogged of the dog-days, some friend, generously hospitable, cries “Come in the winter ;” you smile incredulous assent. Newport in winter? Do roses blow in January ; or is St. Valentine honored like May-day? No, I will go see Miss Cushman playing Romeo at fifty. I will suck my thumb at thirty, and con the primer. I will believe in Santa Claus. I will renew the eager vows of my youth to Jemima, who is now an elderly widow, with seven pledges of connubial affection. I will laugh at Fred's jokes. I will keep awake under Dr. Drowsy. Yes, I will listen to my aunt's gossip of bonnets and ladies. I will do all impossible things; but I won't go to Newport out of season.

If “the season” fell in win I could understand going when it was past: when it would be pleasant to loiter away long days in sweet summer idleness. Then the air would whisper with ghostly robes, and eyes, brighter than the season saw, would look kindly upon the pilgrim, out of season; then, through the pensive silence, great thoughts would arise out of the sea, full of light and heat, like imperial summer days, or haply, fair images, and fleeting—like Venus, brighter than the foam. Then the musing pilgrim

might sit, without fear of freezing, upon the steps of the hotels, and extort their secrets from the long piazzas. Hark! how they echo; for it is winter now, and the winds blow sharp and sadly, and wail turbulently about the building. If summer were out of season, he might recline upon the wooden bench over the beach, and watch the curving sweep of the surf. Then, gliding over the sea, his imagination would receive once more, like a conqueror, the freedom of foreign cities. He would be again a Roman, a Venetian, a Parisian. The roar of invisible towns would hush the sea, bellowing at his feet; memory would lay her chastening finger upon him; thought would be purified; vows renewed. Or pacing the solitary marge, something of the grandeur of the sea would pass into his mind, and mould his life in more majestic proportions.

But winter blots out this influence; it is an enemy:

It stands ready at the door to buffet you as you step out. It springs upon you with a rush from behind corners. It is a stealthy savage, and stings you as you vainly hurry. It makes unpleasantly evident the processes of life, and the imperious wants of the body. It exalts that gross portion of us inordinately, I wish, for instance, to breathe invisibly and

nconsciously; but winter taunts me, and beclouds me with my own breath. It says impertinently, “ Foolish child, that is what keeps you going.” I wish to exchange thoughts with my friend, but as I walk home with him in the polar moonlight, winter strikes me with palsy, and I shake, or I chatter like an idiot. He is the only foe I cannot fight. Buried in blankets, he creeps in close to me, or he tweaks my poor exposed nose relentlessly. Encased in coats and furs he scoffs at me, and comes in at the button-holes and the sleeves. In the house, he catches me as I fly shrinking from parlor to chamber, or he forces me to seek the horrid help of a furnace-an inverted misery. He beatme and insults me, and judicious thin friends call it bracing. He pinches my

unco

cheeks blue and red, and hot-blooded the very throne of summer, I said: I satirists call it the rosy hue of health. will see those green trees, rifled and sere; He clogs me with snow, or trips me up those cliffs over-clipped with ice; those with ice, and men who never swerve from stones upon the beach, like debris of the rectitude (my only consolation for aber Arctic zone; I will see those wide sumration being the escape from their society), mer fields sowed with snow; I will bechuckle, that it makes one spry. Why hold that which was Sorrento in August, should one be spry? Why not have a strip of Greenland in December; I will an arrangement of things, that dispensed dream that I follow Sir John Franklin; as with spryness? I was lately hurrying I turn from the inhospitable doors of "the along, wrapped in my cloak, to meet Ocean," and the “ Bellevue,” I will fancy Agrippina, to whom I am tenderly attach that our provisions are failing; as the ed. Already the dawn of smiles had broken Maine Law annoys me, I will imagine our out upon my face, when I fearfully col spirits have long since given out; as I lapsed; I fell

, heels upward, before my watch the sea between snow-sheeted cliffs, adored Agrippina. I lay ignominiously they shall be icebergs, and the blue water, sprawling upon the pavement, and Agrip Baffin's Bay. If far away upon the ocean pina, to whom I am tenderly attached, horizon I descry the single mast of a fishgave way to immoderate laughter. I par ing smack, it shall be the North Pole; as doned her, and limped away without a I creep toward my cell in the townsingle word. I pardoned her, but I have tavern, it shall settle the question of discontinued my visits to the adored Agrip Symmes' hole. pina. This immortal foe, this mocking Seriously, I was sure of grandeur in winter, has made me ridiculous to her; the winter coast of New England. Deand, is it Bruyère or Confucius who spite its barrenness, despite the rough says that love is extinguished by laugh shores and the abortive foliage, I said ter ?

again to myself, those shores were southYet I will not deny the genius of my ern in July, why not boreal in December? enemy, nor forget the Alps, upon whose It was in October that I finally resolved. peaks he sits. I know that he has done One golden day nothing seemed imposwhat Xerxes and Canute could never do. sible. Its persuading warmth melted me I know that the kings of Central Africa as Solomon was melted by the Queen of hear of his exploits, as we read fairy tales. Sheba. The benign hand of grave old I have seen the cunning with which, under Autumn laid upon me, like the hands of a cover of a dreary storm of sleet or bitter King upon a subject, and I rose a Knight, rain, he cases the great trees to their most confirmed in heroism. delicate twigs in crystal, and holds them I met young Arthur, and told him I until the sun comes, and is dazzled by was going to Newport. His eyes blazed his own reflection. I know into what in with enthusiasm. “Ah!” he said, “if tense silence he hushes the various mur only I could go! I have just been reading mur of the landscape, which you knew Parry's Voyages. Who makes your snownot you heard, until you heard it no lon shoes ?" ger. He “freezes sound," as a poet told I met elderly Adoniram, father of

I know how quaintly he wreathes young Arthur, and told him of my intendevices upon the window, so that the open tion. The severity of his glance relaxed ing eye, as it falls upon them, dreams into paternal concern. “Well, my son,” that it beholds its dreams. Then, more he said, “ youth is the time for adventure. awakening, I lie awaiting the sun, who I have read of those regions; keep up a will melt that diamond filagree, and I stout heart. What remedy do you

take needs must think it will drop away in for the scurvy ?" music. Do I not know what an architect It became known; I was pointed out as he is? Have I not seen the edifices of the man who was going to Newport in his rearing: so squarely quarried, so softly winter. In August hundreds of people laid? Is Aladdin's palace any longer a went daily, and whoever could not go mystery? Is not that romance of torrid envied those who did. In December, deserts made real to me here, in bleak Newport was a myth; to go thither was New England ? Yes, I melt; I cherish to be pitied, or derided as eccentric. Yet a warmer feeling toward mine enemy. it was known that Newport has its winter Is it not he, who, in midsummer, makes denizens. Panting in August noons, one my glass to overflow, as with a melting hears with delight from his friend, that he glacier of champagne ?

will “pass the winter in Newport;" of It was, therefore, not strange, that, after course he will, who wouldn't? It sounds, the first shock of surprise had passed, I as I said, like a fable, but the mere menwas willing to contemplate his work in tion of the intention is refreshing; Newport. I will go sce winter sitting in ices the sherbet of the summer! But

me.

it so

when there is no sherbet to your ice, the undulating against the cold rosy green of case is so different!

the horizon; the few old vessels, mostly I made my preparations, and the day of schooners, in the harbor, all facing the departure was finally appointed. I fan same way, and all as regularly placed, as cied a greater kindliness in the manner of if they had been toys arranged by a child; my friends as the day drew nigh, as gentle one or two comfortable old hulks, whose Lady Jane Grey must have been more masts ending at the cross-trees leaned, like than ever gentle to her young Lord Dud- stumps, against some ancient store on the ley on the fatal morning. They pressed very edge of the dock, as if in the forlorn my hand with silent sympathy; in the extremity of age, the two denizens of sea evening, at the club, they urged me to and shore had clubbed their neglect, and " one more punch," and after the fourth gossiped as they quietly decayed, of the glass, little Lagrima threw his arms stately days departed; the unnaturally around my neck and burst into a quite white buildings of the town, with an ocuncontrollable weeping. Recovering, he casional estray from vanished centuries, fixed his eyes at intervals with a languid in the shape of a tumble-down old gablesorrow upon mine. He fitfully em roofed house, trying to see its withered braced me, and called all the room to wit image in the water; the pediment of the ness his protestations of eternal fidelity. “Atlantic"—the towers of the “ Bellevue," He declared in the most solemn manner, just seen above the boughs of trees, the that he always had been my friend and had flaunting front of the “Ocean,” impending liked me from the first,“ yes, Isaac, loved over the town like the huge palace of a Geryou," and then fell off into another violent man Duke over his poor, little, frightened fit of weeping. “By Heavens !” cried I, residenz, or capital; the modest spire of - to go to Newport in winter, is a serious Bishop Berkeley's Trinity church, that business,” and Lagrima responded with points to heaven, whither he has led the fresh tears and interjaculatory observa way; and on the outskirts, the frequent tions, somewhat thick and incoherent from houses of those who love summer, silence, grief. Carissimo had been silent with and the sea. These were what I saw that sympathy and a cigar, in the corner of the December day, and had so often seen room; “Well, Isaac,” he commenced, and when the dog-star raged. I adjusted my attention for a brief 'fare The sky was cloudless. It seemed well— let's have one more.” We had burnished by the clear, colorless cold of it; we joined hands around the table, and the day. I suppose Newport was no stiller sang Auld Lang Syne, Lagrima burst in than it always is, but a preternatural during the chorus with two or three pro tranquillity embosomed the town. It fuse gushes of tears; he went through a was because I knew that the guests were rapid pantomime of affection and despair, all out of those houses, on shore, and the threw up his arms, and, -fell under the cushions out of those sail-boats in the hartable.

bor, that my feelings were changed. I It was upon a quiet December afternoon had arrived in some distant land. I should that two wheels might have been seen meet Peter Wilkins, perhaps, or better paddling the waters of Narragansett bay. than he, Youwarkee, skimming along Upon the deck of the steamer stood two Thames street, or poising for a flight upon youths gazing at the shore.

Long Wharf. Or would it be General halidome," quoth the younger of the Washington who came to Newport, and twain, “it is a town of a goodly aspect." danced a minuet-fair precedent for the “Yes, truly,” returned the elder, “I polka-or the gay group of Frenchmen, would fain tarry there a while, and test Rochambeau, and L'Estaing, who taught the brew of mine host of the Bellevue." these island maidens Parisian measures,

Even so, upon a still winter day, the and wrote with diamond rings upon the steamer Perry glided gently into the har windows the names of the fairest belles ? bor of Newport. The world was appa Would the good Bishop come to greet us, rently emptied of atmosphere, so distinctly from his favorite seat upon the hanging drawn upon the air were the remotest rocks, proffer us tar-water for our better objects, and the horizon line of the sea was health, and insist that we were not mateas sharply cut as if it had been a rim of rial existences, but apparitions merely ? lapis-lazuli

. The bold breakwater, whose If I had remembered, good Bishop, that I nervous young arm holds the sea at bay retreated to the cabin, upon the way down from the dozing old town; the long low the bay, perceiving that if a ghost, the lines of the embankments at the fort, the wind did not blow through me without a slim flag-staff, with the swelled top, sug chill, I would have made you confess that, gesting that a flag was clinging around the apparitions as we might be, heat was a pole, although too far to be distinctly vi very material element of comfort. But, sible; the brown shore of Conanicut feebly looking at dear old Newport, evidently as

By my

Or at the casement seen her stand?

much surprised to see me, as I was to see aimless dreaming. Enormous dowagers it, I was willing to give in to any ghostly lined the great entry, a wonderful living theory and believe in dreams.

tapestry, and before them fluttered the There was no bustle at the wharf. It brilliant groups, idly chatting, idly listenwas absurdly easy to get a carriage. ing, idly drifting down the summer. Even There was no outlay of oaths—not even as poor Yorick's skull in the hand of an expletive was necessary. There was Hamlet, was that huge, blank, hopeless no frenzied darting up the plank, pulling pile in my eye, as we passed it. an appalled woman after you, and dashing But winter had torn aside other tapesthrough crowds of vociferous hackmen tries than those wonderful living ones of no insane telegraphing men whose ap

the entry.

The leaves were stripped pearance you could not recall a moment from the trees. You remember that afterward, and who answered by scores, dense grove opposite the “ Atlantic," “yes” to your inquiry, “are you my man?fenced off from the main road. You have —there was no hot pursuit of erring um often speculated whether there were a brellas, and self-willed trunks, during house there, and if a house, whether any which you dropped bags and crushed one lived in it, and if any one lived in it, babies; none of the prodigious excitement why then Any summer morning you of a Summer arrival ; but the event was have murmured as you sauntered by ; as eventless as the sunrise of a cloudy

* But who hath seen her wave her hand! day. I stepped into the street, without fear of a belated coach from the Or is she known in all the land, “Ocean” thundering around the corners,

The Lady of Sbalott?" and betook myself to visions of the snowy

Winter has solved the mystery. Now fields and icy cliffs, I anticipated in win that there is no one to look, every thing ter-bound Newport.

can be seen. Between the trees standing I passed the ruin, the old mill, among close to each other, the pilgrim out of whose arches the sunset was fading. season can distinguish the outline of a The “ Atlantic" stood opposite, wrecked spacious house. The windows are closed, upon the winter. There were no window the dead leaves drift along the piazza-the blinds, and many panes were broken, family has left Newport. slats were torn from the railings, fences Proceeding down the road, which, in half overthrown-windows and doors summer, is so crowded at this time of sternly closed, and a gloomy dreariness day, with countless carriages and equesreigned over all. The paint was dirty, trians, nothing disputes the way. The the glass and the grounds were the same. rows of low wooden shops are silent and I looked at the lofty columns and whis deserted. The merchants of a day have pered to myself for comfort, “Greece." packed up the red flannel bathing-dresses, The lofty columns answered, “ Foul, ugly, the fancy canes, the cravats, gloves and old, humbugging wooden shanty." I thin coats, and have flown away with the whispered, "Summer palace of pleasure," swallows. The "Daguerreian artist” had and a bitter gust rattled the loose case he remained, would have been obliged to ments and died away. I sighed, “ Ah! content himself with catching the features gay beat of happy feet, high holiday of of the landscape. Shutters are up at all youth, and love, and beauty!” and in the the windows. But presently, I see that windless sunset of the winter day, I heard the doors and windows of one of the shops the muffled moan of the ocean.

are open. I hurry across to scan the The last time I had stood upon that contents, to deplore, with the shopman, piazza there was a ball within. The the total stagnation of business. I reach great white pile was bursting with light the door, and look in. The stock in trade and music. Every window and door was is a broken counter, and a few empty open. There were incessant flights of drawers irregularly open. There is a painladies across the hall. Carriages drove ful neatness in the aspect of the spot. No to the door, and dainty dames stepped scrap of wrapping-paper, no comfortable out, rolled cloud-like up the broad steps, coil of cheese-paring, no broken crockery, and disappeared in the house. Couples not a single apple past its prime, remains stepped through the windows upon the as memorials of the busy summer days. piazza. Dancers too tired to dance, and All shows the melancholy precision of ladies whose mourning inhibited their acknowledged death, and I find myself feet, and not their eyes from pleasure, sat involuntarily whistling the Dead March in in large arm-chairs, and looked in upon Saul. the merry-making; knots of elderly men, At the corner where new books were arrived by the evening boat from Boston, sold, I could not find a single old one, stood talking idly of State street, and but barred doors and blank shutters stocks-wasting precious time in such made it dismal. I turned across the

street to the corner opposite for consola shot dull care straight through the heart, tion. Here, erewhile, was Soda-water and savagely assaulted ennui,--poor Eddispensed, at sixpence the glass. “ I will wards' archery ground! seek comfort in comfits” said I faintly. Farther down, upon Narraganset aveAlas! the demon of desolation was there nue, we met wagon-loads of laborers rebefore me. The fount had run dry, in turning from the houses, which were Rider and Sisson's “confectionery and rising rapidly upon the cliffs. The wagons refreshment saloon."

“ Where be your

were crowded and rolled rapidly by us, tarts now ? your cheese-cakes? your while the men sang, and their dinner-ketpies ? your pounds of assorted candies, tles rattled. Except these, there were wont to set children by the ears? Not a only occasional solitary wayfarers. Some glass of soda now, to foam at your own few families remain through the winter in mouth ? quite done up ?” cried I bitterly, Newport, and even in the height of the as I turned disappointed away.

summer solstice they anticipate with But mark one figure, one solitary figure pleasure their snowy seclusion from the upon the walk over which momently flit world. They may well do so, for sumted knots of laughing girls, when last I mer does not leave them with the swarms saw it. It is an old man, slowly prome of visitors it brings, but abides in those nading, with one hand under his coat flaps homes throughout the year. and the other buried in his bosom. There I had come to Newport for its wintry is an air of preternatural respectability in grandeurs. The air was very sharp, the his dress. It is past seed time with that sky was clear,-it was December,-all black coat as with the fields upon the island. the material of winter was apparently It has a burnished complexion, as if with ready. But I awoke to a fresh May remorseless brushing. It is closely but morning. Never have I seen Newport toned, and hangs broad, in generous flaps, more beautiful than on that day. The behind. The ample black trowsers fall neighboring sea softens the air. Snow over boots unnaturally polished. Such rarely lingers long. The land which, with blackened boots accord with morning, but us, seems always to recoil in horror as at sunset they perplex the mind. That it approaches the sea, finds, upon touchhat, like all things earthly, was once new. ing it as in Newport, that the shock is There was once, possibly, that fashion in not so dreadful after all, and that the seahats. Now it is a bell-crowned mystery. side is more kindly than the inland. The Did it once have nap?

little frost upon my window pane trickled The old gentleman walked slowly up away before I was fairly up-and my and down, and glanced at me vaguely as large expectations of unspeakable wintry I passed. I returned his gaze with reve desolation melted likewise, and ran off, at rence, for I could not suppose him walking the touch of the same sun. My hostess there for his private pleasure, but as a was already out in her grounds,--Medkind of official mourner for the pleasant dowes arrived from the South, as if the and beautiful things passed away. Na season had come round again, and Magnus ture had furnished him for that place and stepped over to ask us to a stroll. We moment, as London undertakers furnish sauntered about upon the rocks, heedless mutes for state funerals. He wore that of “the inverted year.” The ground was coat and those trowsers and boots-yes, oozy and plashy under our feet as in and-possibly-that hat, er officio. Í spring. Cows strolled idly by, snatching was struck anew by the wisdom of na contemplative mouthfuls from the grassy ture, which-is it Paley or Father Prout sides of the road. The factories in the who says it ?-always puts the right town shot their white columns of vapor thing in the right place. Yet I was sur high into the blue air. A distant bell prised as I walked away, for I thought rang over the fields between us and the Old Grimes was dead.

town, and choice glimpses of the sea, each There were the bowling-alleys that framed in picturesque rocks,-a cabinet thupdered all summer long, now as still picture-pleased the eye, that swept the as Rip Van Winkle's. Two or three whole horizon. White sails illuminaboys played listlessly about the doors. ted the harbor, and flashed in the sunThere was no report from the pistol-gal shine far out at sea. Was this my dream leries. The piping times of peace had of Newport in winter ? come, and in the field under the Ocean I looked earnestly up the road to descry Hall a few children were pulling turnips. Mot's old hat,—that brave old hat which

The Ocean Hall! There's your text had clearly been out in all storms that for Newport in winter; “whose lights ever blew, and had returned limp with are fled, whose garlands dead,” &c. chronic palsy and yellow with hopeless

There was Edwards' Archery Ground, jaundice. What an abominable hat it where one happy day of midsummer, we was! How it flapped like the ragged,

VOL. I.-11

« PoprzedniaDalej »