Page images
[ocr errors]

taking upon him, that these comparisons are on Cuzzoni, to my feeling at least, very delino hyperboles ; but that the best things in ciously ; but Wither, whose darling measure nature do, in a lover's eye, fall short of those it seems to have been, may show, that in excellences which he adores in her.

skilful hands it is capable of expressing the

subtilest movements of passion. So true'it “ What pearls, what rubies can Seem so lovely fair to man,

is, which Drayton seems to have felt, that it As her lips whom he doth love,

is the poet who modifies the metre, not the When in sweet discourse they move, Or her lovelier teeth, the while

metre the poet ; in his own words, that She doth bless him with a smile! Stars indeed fair creatures be;

“It's possible to climb;
Yet amongst us where is he

To kindle, or to stake;
Joys not more the whilst he lies

Altho' in Skelton's rhime."
Sunning in his mistress' eyes,
Than in all the glimmering light

• A long line is a line we are long repeating. In the Of a starry winter's night?

Shepherds Hunting take the following-
Note the beauty of an eye-
And if aught you praise it by

If thy verse doth bravely tower,
Leave such passion in your mind,

As she makes wing, she gets power ;
Let my reason's eye be blind.

Yet the higher she doth soar,
Mark if ever red or white

She's affronted still the more,
Any where gave such delight,

'Till she to the high'st hath past,
As when they have taken place

Then she rests with fame at last."
In a worthy woman's face.

What longer measure can go beyond the majesty of
I must praise her as I may,

this! what Alexandrine is half so long in pronouncing Which I do mine own rude way,

or expresses labour slowly but strongly surmounting Sometimes setting forth her glories

difficulty with the life with which it is done in the By unheard of allegories"-&c.

second of these lines ? or what metre could go beyond

these from Philarete To the measure in which these lines are

“ Her true beauty leaves behind written the wits of Queen Anne's days

Apprehensions in my mind contemptuously gave the name of Namby Of more sweetness, than all art

Or inventions can impart. Pamby, in ridicule of Ambrose Philips, who

Thoughts too deep to be erpress'd, has used it in some instances, as in the lines And too strong to be suppress'd."



[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

MR. REFLECTOR,—I was born under the enough with rural objects to understand shadow of St. Dunstan's steeple, just where tolerably well ever after the poets, when they the conflux of the eastern and western in- declaim in such passionate terms in favour habitants of this two-fold city meet and of a country life. justle in friendly opposition at Temple-bar. For my own part, now the fit is past, I The same day which gave me to the world, have no hesitation in declaring, that a mob saw London happy in the celebration of her of happy faces crowding up at the pit door great annual feast. This I cannot help look- of Drury-lane Theatre, just at the hour of ing upon as a lively omen of the future great six, gives me ten thousand sincerer pleasures, good-will which I was destined to bear than I could ever receive from all the flocks toward the city, resembling in kind that of silly sheep that ever whitened the plains solicitude which every Chief Magistrate is of Arcadia or Epsom Downs. supposed to feel for whatever concerns her This passion for crowds is nowhere feasted interests and well-being. Indeed I consider so full as in London. The man must have a myself in some sort a speculative Lord Mayor rare recipe for melancholy who can be dull of London : for though circumstances un- in Fleet-street. I am naturally inclined to happily preclude me from the hope of ever hypochondria, but in London it vanishes, arriving at the dignity of a gold chain and like all other ills. Often, when I have felt Spital Sermon, yet thus much will I say of a weariness or distaste at home, have I myself in truth, that Whittington with his rushed out into her crowded Strand, and Cat (just emblem of vigilance and a furred fed my humour, till tears have wetted my gown) never went beyond me in affection cheek for unutterable sympathies with the which I bear to the citizens.

multitudinous moving picture, which she I was born, as you have heard, in a crowd. never fails to present at all hours, like the This has begot in me an entire affection for scenes of a shifting pantomime. that way of life, amounting to an almost The very deformities of London, which insurmountable aversion from solitude and give distaste to others, from habit do not rural scenes. This aversion was never in- displease me. The endless succession of terrupted or suspended, except for a few shops where Fancy miscalled Folly is supyears in the younger part of my life, during plied with perpetual gauds and toys, excite a period in which I had set my affections in me no puritanical aversion. I gladly beupon a charming young woman. Every man, hold every appetite supplied with its proper while the passion is upon him, is for a time food. The obliging customer, and the obliged at least addicted to groves and meadows and tradesman-things which live by bowing, purling streams. During this short period and things which exist but for homage—do of my existence, I contracted just familiarity not affect me with disgust; from habit I

perceive nothing but urbanity, where other attained by the same well-natured alchymy men, more refined, discover meanness: I love with which the Foresters of Arden, in å the very smoke of London, because it has beautiful country, been the medium most familiar to my vision.

“ Found tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, I see grand principles of honour at work in

Sermons in stones, and good in everything." the dirty ring which encompasses two combatants with fists, and principles of no 'less Where has spleen her food but in London ! eternal justice in the detection of a pick- Humour, Interest, Curiosity, suck at her pocket. The salutary astonishment with measureless breasts without a possibility of which an execution is surveyed, convinces being satiated. Nursed amid her noise, her me more forcibly than a hundred volumes of crowds, her beloved smoke, what have I been abstract polity, that the universal instinct of doing all my life, if I have not lent out my man in all ages has leaned to order and good heart with usury to such scenes ! government.

I am, Sir, your faithful servant, Thus an art of extracting morality from the commonest incidents of a town life is


[ocr errors]


[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]


MR. REFLECTOR,—I was amused the other handles, with wrought gripes; the coffin to day with having the following notice thrust be well pitched, lined, and ruffled with fine into my hand by a man who gives out bills crape ; a handsome crape shroud, cap, and at the corner of Fleet-market. Whether he pillow. For use, a handsome velvet pall, saw any prognostics about me, that made three gentlemen's cloaks, three crape hathim judge such notice seasonable, I cannot bands, three hoods and scarfs, and six pair of say; I might perhaps carry in a countenance gloves ; two porters equipped to attend the (naturally not very florid) traces of a fever funeral, a man to attend the same with band which had not long left me. Those fellows and gloves ; also, the burial fees paid, if not have a good instinctive way of guessing at exceeding one guinea.” the sort of people that are likeliest to pay “Man,” says Sir Thomas Browne, “is a attention to their papers.

noble animal, splendid in ashes, and pompous in the grave.” Whoever drew up this little advertisement certainly understood this

appetite in the species, and has made abun“A favourable opportunity now offers to dant provision for it. It really almost inany person, of either sex, who would wish to duces a tædium vitæ upon one to read it be buried in a genteel manner, by paying Methinks I could be willing to die, in death one shilling entrance, and two-pence per to be so attended. The two rows all round week for the benefit of the stock. Members close-drove best black japanned nails,-how to be free in six months. The money to be feelingly do they invite, and almost irrepaid at Mr. Middleton's, at the sign of the sistibly persuade us to come and be fastened First and the Last, Stonecutter’s-street, Fleet- down! what aching head can resist the market. The deceased to be furnished as temptation to repose, which the crape shroud, follows :--A strong elm coffin, covered with the cap, and the pillow present; what sting superfine black, and furnished with two rows, is there in death, which the handles with all round, close drove, best japanned nails, wrought gripes are not calculated to pluck and adorned with ornamental drops, a hand-away? what victory in the grave, which tho soine plate of inscription, Angel above, and drops and the velvet pall do not render at Flower beneath, and four pair of handsome least extremely disputable ? but above all


the pretty emblematic plate with the Angel issued from Mr. Middleton's, Stonecutter'sabove and the Flower beneath, takes me street, which pleases me less than the rest, mightily.

it is to find that the six pair of gloves are to The notice goes on to inform us, that be returned, that they are only lent, or, as though the society has been established but the bill expresses it, for use, on the occasion. a very few years, upwards of eleven hundred The hood, scarfs, and hat-bands, may properly persons have put down their names. It is enough be given up after the solemnity ; the really an affecting consideration to think of cloaks no gentlemen would think of keeping; so many poor people, of the industrious and but a pair of gloves, once fitted on, ought not bard-working class (for none but such would in courtesy to be re-demanded. The wearer be possessed of such a generous forethought) should certainly have the fee-simple of them. clubbing their twopences to save the reproach The cost would be but trifling, and they of a parish funeral. Many a poor fellow, I would be a proper memorial of the day. dare swear, has that Angel and Flower kept This part of the Proposal wants reconfrom the Angel and Punchbowl, while, to sidering. It is not conceived in the same provide himself a bier, he has curtailed him- liberal way of thinking as the rest. I am self of beer. Many a savoury morsel has the also a little doubtful whether the limit, living body been deprived of, that the lifeless within which the burial-fee is made payable, one might be served up in a richer state to should not be extended to thirty shillings. the worms.

And sure, if the body could Some provision too ought undoubtedly to understand the actions of the soul, and be made in favour of those well-intentioned entertain generous notions of things, it would persons and well-wishers to the fund, who, thank its provident partner, that she had having all along paid their subscriptions been more solicitous to defend it from dis- regularly, are so unfortunate as to die before honours at its dissolution, than careful to the six months, which would entitle them to pamper it with good things in the time of its their freedom, are quite completed. One can union. If Cæsar were chiefly anxious at his hardly imagine a more distressing case than death how he might die most decently, every that of a poor fellow lingering on in a conBurial Society may be considered as a club sumption till the period of his freedom is of Cæsars.

almost in sight, and then finding himself Nothing tends to keep up, in the imagi- going with a velocity which makes it doubtnations of the poorer sort of people, a generous ful whether he shall be entitled to his funeral horror of the workhouse more than the honours: his quota to which he nevertheless manner in which pauper funerals are con- squeezes out, to the diminution of the comducted in this metropolis. coffin nothing forts which sickness demands. I think, in but a few naked planks coarsely put together, such cases, some of the contribution money —the want of a pall (that decent and well- ought to revert. With some such modificaimagined veil, which, hiding the coffin that tions, which might easily be introduced, I hides the body, keeps that which would see nothing in these Proposals of Mr. Midshock us at two removes from us), the dleton which is not strictly fair and genteel ; coloured coats of the men that are hired, at and heartily recommend them to all persons cheap rates, to carry the body,—altogether, of moderate incomes, in either sex, who are give the notion of the deceased having been willing that this perishable part of them some person of an ill life and conversation, should quit the scene of its mortal activities some one who may not claim the entire rites with as handsome circumstances as possible. of Christian burial, - one by whom some Before I quit the subject, I must guard parts of the sacred ceremony would be de- my readers against a scandal, which they may secrated if they should be bestowed upon be apt to take at the place whence these him. I meet these meagre processions some- Proposals purport to be issued. From the times in the street. They are sure to make sign of the First and the Last, they may me out of humour and melancholy all the conclude that Mr. Middleton is some pubday after. They have a harsh and ominous lican, who, in assembling a club of this aspect.

description at his house, may have a sinister If there is anything in the prospectus end of his own, altogether foreign to the

[ocr errors]

solemn purpose for which the club is pre- nothing to do. He leaves the friends of the tended to be instituted. I must set them dead man to form their own conjectures as right by informing them that the issuer of to the place to which the departed spirit is these Proposals is no publican, though he gone. His care is only about the exuviæ. hangs out a sign, but an honest superinten- He concerns not himself even about the dant of funerals, who, by the device of a body as it is a structure of parts internal, Cradle and a Coffin, connecting both ends of and a wonderful microcosm. He leaves such human existence together, has most ingeni- curious speculations to the anatomy proously contrived to insinuate, that the framers fessor. Or, if anything, he is averse to such of these first and last receptacles of mankind wanton inquiries, as delighting rather that divide this our life betwixt them, and that the parts which he has çare of should be all that passes from the midwife to the under- returned to their kindred dust in as handtaker may, in strict propriety, go for nothing: some and unmutilated condition as possible ; an awful and instructive lesson to human that the grave should have its full and vanity.

unimpaired tribute,-a complete and just Looking over some papers lately that fell carcass. Nor is he only careful to provide into my hands by chance, and appear to have for the body's entireness, but for its accombeen written about the beginning of the last modation and ornament. He orders the century, I stumbled, among the rest, upon fashion of its clothes, and designs the symthe following short Essay, which the writer metry of its dwelling. Its vanity has an calls, “ The Character of an Undertaker.” It innocent survival in him. He is bed-maker is written with some stiffness and peculiari- to the dead. The pillows which he lays ties of style, but some parts of it, I think, never rumple. The day of interment is the not unaptly characterise the profession to theatre in which he displays the mysteries of which Mr. Middleton has the honour to his art. It is hard to describe what he is, or belong. The writer doubtless had in his rather to tell what he is not, on that day: mind the entertaining character of Sable, in for, being neither kinsman, servant, nor Steele’s excellent comedy of The Funeral. friend, he is all in turns; a transcendant,

running through all those relations. His office is to supply the place of self-agency in

the family, who are presumed incapable of it “He is master of the ceremonies at burials through grief. He is eyes, and ears, and and mourning assemblies, grand marshal at hands, to the whole household. A draught funeral processions, the only true yeoman of of wine cannot go round to the mourners, the body, over which he exercises a dicta- but he must minister it. A chair may torial authority from the moment that the hardly be restored to its place by a less breath has taken leave to that of its final solemn hand than his. He takes upon himcommitment to the earth. His ministry self all functions, and is a sort of ephemeral begins where the physician's, the lawyer's, major-domo! He distributes his attentions and the divine's, end. Or if some part of the among the company assembled according to functions of the latter run parallel with his, the degree of affliction, which he calculates it is only in ordine ad spiritualia. His from the degree of kin to the deceased ; and temporalities remain unquestioned. He is marshals them accordingly in the procession. arbitrator of all questions of honour which He himself is of a sad and tristful countemay concern the defunct ; and upon slight nance; yet such as (if well examined) is not inspection will pronounce how long he may without some show of patience and resignaremain in this upper world with credit to tion at bottom; prefiguring, as it were, to himself, and when it will be prudent for his the friends of the deceased, what their grief reputation that he should retire. His deter- shall be when the hand of Time shall have mination in these points is peremptory and softened and taken down the bitterness of without appeal. Yet, with a modesty pecu- their first anguish ; so handsomely can be liar to his profession, he meddles not out of fore-shape and anticipate the work of Time. his own sphere. With the good or bad Lastly, with his wand, as with another divi. actions of the deceased in his life-time he has ning rod, he calculates the depth of earth


« PreviousContinue »