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Spirits of earth and air--of light and gloom,
Awake! arise !
His darkling eyes.
Give to his lips
Dispel the eclipse
And saddens all mankind with tears and night. Other circumstances there were immediately preceding and quickly following the death of Sir Walter Scott, that could not fail to awaken melancholy reflections on the instability of life, and the vanity of human wishes. The partner of his bosom was not suffered to attain old age ; his two sons, his two daughters, and his eldest grandson, have been prematurely snatched away; the fine fortune, the harvest of his genius, which he had destined to enrich his family, is scattered to the winds; and the mansion which he had built up with so fond a magnificence, hoping that his descendants for many a generation might occupy it with becoming splendour, is silent and untenanted! Not over generous have been some of the remarks, sadly trite and misplaced have been most of the Jeremiades elicited by this combined mortality and disappointment. When the gilding disappears from the shrine at which a Mammonite kneels, it becomes instantly unhallowed and disenchanted in his eyes, and there can be little doubt that Sir Walter's reverse of fortune lowered him in the estimation of those sordid worldlings who respect merit only so long as it is prosperous and wealthy. Possibly there were others whose jealousy was not ungratified by the downfall of the master spirit, which had either thrown them completely into the shade, or had made them “ show like pigmies." These were the carpers and cavillers who now went about, either venting cut and dried quotations from the moralists and satirists, or sapiently exclaiming, “ How strange that a man like Sir Walter, with a world-wide reputation, should ruin himself in the pitiful ambition of becoming a Scottish laird! What covetousness, what insatiable avarice, in insisting upon 3 share of the publisher's, and even of the paper-maker's profits, until he was dragged into the partnership by which he was finally ruined. What an exemplification of the dog and the shadow! What a lesson for the man who grasps,
till he can hold no more?'” Oh, for the pen of Milton, that I might lash, as they deserve, these “apes and monkeys, asses, owls, and dogs!" Not strange was it, but perfectly natural, that Sir Walter, believing his pecuniary means to be fully equal to the attempt, should seek to realise the vision over which his mind had incessantly brooded, and erect a structure which, while it accorded with his own cherished tastes, should form an appropriate residence for the family that he hoped to found. Neither by his outlay at Abbotsford, nor by any indulgence in selfish profusion elsewhere, was his fortune dissipated. By an unforeseen liability it was drawn into the vortex and swallowed up in the Maelstrom of Ballantine's bankruptcy. Sir Walter Scott avaricious ? Preposterous charge! If he had any failing, it was in a totally opposite direction, his generous impulses often prompting him to a liberality hardly consistent with his means. Who calls the farmer avaricious when he puts up a fence around his field, to prevent marauders from stealing his flock ? Such was the motive of the arrangement with booksellers which has been branded with cupidity. Sir Walter was avid of nothing but his own. To prevent, not to obtain pillage was his object. With a proper sense of justice, as well as of his own dignity, he refused to toil like a slave, and turn his fine intellect into gold, living all the while in comparative poverty, in order that a publisher, possibly an idler and a blockhead, might roll in wealth. Such is the unfair system of our modern literature, and every lover of fair dealing, more especially every brother author, should feel grateful to the man who was the first to break through this monstrous monopoly and ravage. Far from being a churl and a niggard, he only desired to increase his means by preventing his property from embezzlement, that so he might give a wider expansion to his large-hearted beneficence. The foremost censurers of an unprosperous man may sometimes be traced among the leading parasites of a successful one, and if Sir Walter, disappointed in none of his expectations, had realised a large fortune, and had been enabled to exercise at Abbotsford the generous hospitalities so congenial to his nature, it is not unlikely that the parties to whom we have alluded, would be his most obsequious applauders, happy to follow in his wake, that their little barks "might pursue the triumph and partake the gale."
One word as to the croakers who harp upon the sadness of human destinies, because two generations of Sir Walter's family have been so quickly and so prematurely struck down into the grave. Truly lamentable is the catastrophe, but it is only in accordance with the frequent course of nature. Untimely as have been their deaths, they will be much longer remembered from their connexion with so illustrious a writer, than if they had lived to a patriarchal age as the members of any less distinguished family.
“ But look,” exclaims some dolorous hypochondriac, “behold how soon the finest mind of the age may be smitten with imbecility and darkness!"
“ Look again,” is my reply, “ and behold what the human mind can accomplish, even though its duration be still more precarious than that of life.”
Sir Walter was not young when he began to write, he was not old when he sank into fatuity, yet if his disembodied spirit could hover above us, how truly might he exclaim, in the words of the old Roman poet" What quarter of the globe is not filled with my labours ?" Alps and Apennines, the Cordilleras, and the Himalaya mountains, with all their intermediate lands, are animated by the immortal creations of his fancy, springing up in every direction and for all classes; like the sweet flowers of the earth, to delight, to refresh, and to beautify. Oh, the illimitable puissance of mind! Oh, the world-worshipped majesty of intellect ! Oh, the divineness of the human soul !
Believing, as I do, that the writings and the character, the head and the heart of Sir Walter Scott, have tended to exalt our common nature ; feeling grateful to Heaven that I was allowed to be his contemporary, and proud that I had the honour of calling him my friend; I have been induced to pen the concluding remarks, because I think every opportunity should be seized of brushing away the insects who have attempted to fasten a blot
the glorious escutcheon which it is our duty to transmit to future ages, as it has been delivered to us, bright, perfect and, immaculate.
MR. JOLLY GREEN ON THE THREATENED FR-CH INV-S-N.
Marlbrook se va t'en guerre,
Ra ta plan-ta plan.
Ancient French Melody.
At a moment when the eyes of all England are fixed upon the Dof W-LL-NGT—N, and a certain person who shall he NAMELESS, and the “gallant off-c-r,” first mentioned, having given his opinion on the best course to be pursued, in the event of the French having the temerity to land on the shores of Britain for the purpose of invasion, I think it is only an act of JUSTICE TO MY COUNTRY that I should give MINE.
It is not my intention to criticise the plan of defence suggested by the n—bl-ed-ke, whom I agree with on the most material points
, but, HAVING BEEN IN FRANCE (as the readers of the New Monthly may remember) I conceive that it is not only desirable but PATRIOTIC, that I should, at this critical period, publish the fruits of my military experience on the continent, and describe, from the opportunities for close observation which have been afforded me, the character and resources of the enemy with whom we may have to deal. The neglect of this precaution has too often been attended by fatal consequences !
It will at once be conceded that the man who has bivouacked on the Champs des Mars (as I have often done returning home late to my lodgings in the Rue Louis le Grand), who has witnessed a review in the Plaine de Grenelle on HORSEBACK, and who has received previous instructions in strategy from a British drill serjeant (a fact alluded to in my travels), may consider himself tolerably well justified to discuss the topic now so popular.
At the same time I have no wish to press this view of the case too closely on the attention of the British public, but shall merely observe that it was in a great degree owing to my possessing those military qualifications, that I experienced so many persecutions in Fr-n-e, and was looked upon with so much jealousy by the Fr—nch
It is not necessary, while we are still at peace, that I should be more explicit ; the hint I have given will, I trust, suffice.
The French army is chiefly composed of elderly men (called on that account “ La jeune France"), great numbers of whom are to be seen in uniform in the streets of Paris, particularly on a Sunday morning. They are for the most part inclined to be stout, many of them wear spectacles, and one singular fact may be noticed, viz., that on entering the shops in the Palais Royal and on the Boulevards, the English traveller is often struck with astonishment at the extraordinary likenesses he sees in the features of the tradespeople to those of the heroes of Marengo and Austerlitz, whom he has probably seen only a few days, nay, even a few hours, before in the Rue de Rivoli marching to the guard-mounting parade in the Place de Carousel ! If my conjecture on the cause of this remarkable coincidence, that the tradesman and the trooper are sometimes identical, be correct, I can only say that the French are a nation of patriots, and deserve the encomiums that have been lavished on them for their knowledge of the art of war, while at the same time it behoves us to be more than ever upon our guard.
I have said that the bulk of the army is composed of veterans, as, indeed, any one who remembers the campaigns of Napoleon and Louis XIV. (to say nothing of the Spanish war of succession), may readily suppose ; that in making this assertion, of course I except the recruits who wear red trousers, grey great-coats, and yellow balls in their caps, and who are invariably stationed in frontier towns (some, indeed, are actually sent as far off as Algiers) until they have learnt their exercise, without which, it is well known, no man, whether a school-boy or a soldier, can be expected to do his duty. These veterans are no less distinguished by their admirable skill in the management of their favourite weapon, the firelock, than by the simple severity of their costume, in which the livery of the house of Orleans--the national colours-are happily blended. They have chosen this mixture on account of the extraordinary affection which the French people have for H- M-j-sty Lo-is Ph-1-pe, who may truly be said to be the father-in-law of all his subjects, as well as of the D-ch-ss de M-otp-ns-r. I ought not to omit to observe that a great many
of these hardy warriors wear very black, bushy beards : indeed, so general is the use of beards in the French service, that I am inclined to suspect they are served out with the clothing, or perhaps presented to them every New Year's day, when it is the custom of the French people to make what are called cadeaux ; in that case, a presentation of beards would be equivalent to the ceremony which takes place with a new pair of colours in the English army; and the French soldiers, no doubt, take an oath to be true to them, exactly in the same way as British ensigns are in the habit of swearing when ordered on duty. I must not, however, pursue this speculation further, but rather point attention to the obvious motive for wearing these beards, which, there can be little doubt, is done for the purpose of striking terror into their foes. If my classical recollections are not altogether at fault, I think the practice is as old as the time of Brennus, who was dragged into Rome by his, by the senator Papyrius. I am positively certain there is a passage something to this effect to be found in Goldsmith. Julius Cæsar and Mark Antony also allude to this custom amongst the Gauls.
The cavalry of the French army is not so numerous as the infantryat least, such is my impression-a circumstance which I am inclined to ascribe to the fact of the natives being such very
bad riders. A Frenchman is too brave to run away, except in the event of a panic, which a great military authority, the Baron Jomini, says is more likely to happen amongst a people of a lively imagination than with any other ; but if he cannot properly manage his horse nothing can prevent him, if the animal be so disposed," from being run away with. That the brutes are frequently unmanageable under fire, I once had experience myself in spite of my being a notoriously fine rider. It is owing to this circumstance that we have less to dread from a French invasion than, perhaps, from any other, for owing to the defective condition of their cavalry, they are totully unprovided with Horse MARINES, and most military men will agree with me when I say, that where this arm of the service is wanting, a maritime attack upon our frontier is deprived of half its terrors. This notable defi.
ciency is attended by another disadvantage to the invaders, for as the principal duty of the Horse Marines is to ride the great guns to water (a figurative expression, I apprehend, for the embarkation of artillery), how are they to be got over if they cannot be shipped ? Sixty-eight pounders, and field pieces of that calibre, are a little too heavy to be conveyed in men-of-war's gigs, and no man knows better than myself that there is no such thing as a jolly boat in the French navy. In order to cover their landing the invaders will therefore be compelled to have recourse to distant cannonading; they must establish their batteries on the heights between Boulogne and Calais, and commence firing the moment their vessels put to sea.
It may be objected that the range in this case is too long to be dangerous, but I would remind all cavilling sceptics of Queen Elizabeth's celebrated pocket-pistol, at Dover, on the butt-end of which is engraved the following legend :
Load me well and keep me clean,
I'll carry my balls to Calais green. If therefore, a pocket-pistol can carry twenty-one miles, and Sterne informs us that is the precise distance, I should like to know how far a six and thirty inch howitzer would carry ?*
But I have not quite done with the French army. I admit that they have a tolerably well-served artillery, but I think I have shown that, except for coast operations, it is not to be regarded with apprehension ; besides, it is my private opinion, that they want all the guns they have to man the fortifications of Paris, a circumstance which controversialists have hitherto strangely overlooked. These I have seen with my own eyes! Of the other branches of the service I am obliged to speak more from report than actual observation. For instance, there are the SapeursPompiers, equipped like the knights of old in helmets, who are skilfully trained to set towns on fire. Why the French have given them so ridiculous a name as the above I am perfectly at a loss to say—a more correct one certainly would be that of incendiaries! There is also a very numerous corps distributed throughout France called the Cantoniers ; they are armed with pickaxes and shovels, and do much mischief with these weapons! They wear the blouse and glazed hats, inscribed with the number of the regiment to which they belong, and may occasionally be met with on the high roads, but travellers scarcely ever see more than one at a time, on which account they may be compared to guerillas, and, like them, they are an inoflensive body, except when they are provoked. Their wives are the celebrated Cantinières, familiar now to the English eye through the admirable representations of Jenny Lind; but it may be as well to caution the public against putting too much faith in the accuracy of stage costume, as these female troops do not all wear hats. I have often noticed them on the quays in Paris, selling lemonade and coffee to the soldiers (and even to the inhabitants), and the majority of these wore handkerchiefs twisted round their heads in a very picturesque manner. These handkerchiefs are called Folards, from a distinguished military
* I would remark en passant (and it was en passant, as the French say, that I did first remark it) that there is no green now visible in Calais, though in all probability there was in the time of Queen Elizabeth. For a full description of that city the reader is referred to my Travels, ante, supra, passim, &c.