Page images
PDF
EPUB

riages, to compass which the poor quadrupeds are half fed, and the bipeds are wholly unpaid, and either fed upon promises, or upon their savings in former places, being allowed to run on an account of board wages and standing wages without any certain time of payment for either.

Here, Miss Priscilla, whose Pa was a merchant, has fortune enough for house, for servants—male and female, for hospitality, and for charity; but, then, although her charms are either invisible to all but her own partial eye, or are declining apace, yet she may make a good match, and as appearance is every thing, she must have her landau to sun herself in, and her men both in livery and out of it. For this purpose, the hospitable board must shrink into a sandwich and a glass of table-beer for self,—not at home, for poor relations,---meagre fare for her domestics, and a sparing hand for her poor cattle: add to which, coachee converts the economical allowance of corn into ale or gin for himself, and trusts to the stimulus of the whip instead of hand-feeding to get his sorry animals on; whilst the poor, who blessed the sire, now anathematize the daughter, with famished countenances and with angry looks.

Knighthood has raised sir Robert above himself. He was once the faithful picture of an honest John Bull. Substantial fare furnished the plenteous board both above stairs and below; his friends, his neighbours, his clerks, and his servants, his porters and shopmen, his dependants and the poor, all partook of his generosity; and every thing flourished. Now, he fain would be the courtier, and would act and look the nobleman.

My lady too, has suffered a metamorphosis, since she was presented at court. Now, Botolph-lane smells offensive to her nose; St. Paul's church is an eye-sore to her quality; its matin bell an impertinent intrusion on her first sleep;--she must have a house in some of the squares, (not Finsbury, for that has counting housesmoke in it, and savours of sugar and tobacco, of tea and indigo, of odious articles of traffic from the East and West Indies:) she must have her villa at Richmond or at Wimbledon, and her hothouse, conservatory, etcetera; not forgetting expensive dress and extravagant losses at play, in order to pay her footing amongst the nobility.

To meet all these expenditures, the open table is retrenched; state dinners are given in imitation of ministerial ones, but differing in this leading feature, that there—not a guest is asked but from some motive of interest

, public or private, -not a dish but is paid for again and again; nor is there even a miserable rat about the house that does not bring his price with him. Clerks, relatives, and dependents, are either treated as inferiors, or wholly cut; the servants' stomachs are guaged by my lady's wants, in order to pay her play debts; the horses' appetites are measured by the hunger of coachmen and grooms, unaccustomed to half allowance or short commons, and who purloin the corn to make up the deficit; all is finery or misery, excess or starvation, (the latter always falling to VOL. XIV.

27

the lot of the lower hardworking class;) the poor have no longer any portion in their bowels of compassion; nor have their bowels any portion of their former allowance; all is changed, all is external pomp and internal parsimony.

Such, too, is the rage for fashion, that every thing is immolated at its shrine; so that an empty coxcomb will put his whole fortune on his back, doing injustice to all around, in order to occupy a place in the beau monde; and a vain female will spend as much on rouge, odours, cosmetics, foreign frippery, and domestic dissipation, as would keep a whole family creditably, whilst she starves herself at home, and forces her abigail either to vice or dishonesty, in order to nourish the en bon point of her person, and the rose upon her cheek.

I know a lady, who has such a rage for high life, that, leaving a score of unprovided kinsmen and kinswomen in Essex, she has fixed her head-quarters in town. There she has sunk her small fortune for an annuity; what used to procure a substantial dinner daily, is converted into feathers and French lace; four maid-servants are turned into one footman and a char-woman; cousin Betty's annuity pays for the share of an opera box; the fat horses have been sold for a vis-a-vis with job cattle; the cows, poultry, and favourites of the brute species, with all implements of horticulture, dairy, etcetera, are melted into a suit of pearls; whilst the pittance of the poor hires musicians for one ball. Not a fragment must be lost, in order to pay for the chalking of her floors; and the flowers, which adorn her saloon, are extracted from so many ounces diur. nally purloined from the stomachs of her two established attendants; whilst she shabbily receives the card-money, in order to remunerate occasional hired domestics, who are to swell her consequence by their number, at her occasional entertainment, and to impose upon the ignorant as her regular retinue.

These gilded meannesses, and unworthy sacrifices, are, every where, and in every body, unbecoming and disgusting. They proceed from a narrow heart and shallow understanding; and are generally and deservedly punished by the detection of envy. The thin veil which covers these moral deformities is easily seen through; and contempt and derision are, not unfrequently, substituted for admiration and praise, just as those who raise a dust in order to blind their neighbours, are obscured and smothered by it themselves.

I spare the name of a dowager, whose allowance to servants is a red herring or an egg each per diem, and half a pound of coarse bread, with the smallest beer in Europe. This enables her to keep a man and a boy, and to give Madeira at her suppers; whilst port and sherry, and one male less, might have afforded one good meal to each of the inmates of her house. It happened, that the footboy's stomach making an ugly rumbling behind her ladyship's chair at supper, she gave him one of her petrifying looks, and asked him what was that vile noise which she heard? The lad (an Aberdo.

nian) answered, ' It's naething but an empty soond, my teddy.' A' general tittér seized her guests, among which was

THE HERMIT IN LONDON..

Art. V.-New American Poems. 1. New England, and other Poems; by William B. Tappan. Phi

ladelphia. 1819. 24mo. pp. 108. 2. Imagination; The Maniac's Dream, and dther Poems; by Henry

T. Farmer, M. D. Member of the Historical Society of New

York, New York. 1819. 12mo. pp. 163. 3. Niississippian Scenery, a Poem, descriptive of the interior of

North America; by Charles Mead. Philadelphia. 1819. 12mo.

pp. 113.

4. The Frontier Maid, or a Tale of Wyoming; a Poem in Five

Cantos. Wilkesbarre. 1819. pp. 208. 5. The Battle of Niagara. Second edition. Enlarged with other

Poems; by John Neal. Baltimore 1819. pp. 272. IF F the poetical department of our national literature, has heretofore

suffered under neglect and fallen into disrepute, certainly present indications seem to promise an alteration for the better.

The poems whose titles we have mentioned above, all recently published, although not perhaps destined to immortalize their authors, are all very respectable, and merit a welcome admission into the libraries of our belles-lettres scholars. The public will naturally augur well, from seeing the fearlessness with which these young, or at least new poets, put themselves forward, giving their names openly, with their productions, to the world, as an assurance of their own confidence in the merit of their poetry, and in the liberal judgment of their fellow citizens.

We have not the pleasure of a personal acquaintance with any one of them; it is impossible to peruse the poems, however, without a conviction that the writers are our countrymen, and gentlemen of talent and cultivated taste.

The modest, and simply eloquent, preface of Mr. Tappan, particularly, is inexpressibly prepossessing. It is not,' he says, with. out diffidence the following productions of a youthful Muse are submitted to an impartial public. The author is conscious that individual approbation is not the criterion by which success is to be anticipated. Under the full weight of this impression, he ventures to publish these effusions, with the sincere hope, that if they do not add a sprig to the increasing luxuriance of American literature, they will not diminish the number of those who regard piety and virtue as the only sure avenues to peace and happiness.'

The poetry of this little volume is remarkable for the purity of sentiment which breathes throughout; it contains · New England, a poem of about three hundred lines, descriptive of the early history of the Eastern states; a number of smaller miscellaneous pieces, and a collection of Sacred Pieces,' in which the charms of versé are most happily employed in the expression of religious feeling. We proceed to extract a few specimens, without selection, for all are good. And first from New England.'

Say, youthful muse, how glows the generous heart,
With impulse rich, unknown to languid art,
How throbs the bosom, warmed with virtuous fire,
And kindling zeal, which fain would each inspire,
As history's ken reviews the eventful time,
Wben hallowed freedom sought its genial clime; *
When persecution lit her fires afar,
And meet religion fled the unequal war;
When Pilgrim-sires, a small, but fearless band,
Unfurled their banner o'er this western land;
Rapt fancy views them tread the stranger shore,
Devotion joins as each with praise adore.
With laws severe--but with demeanour mild,
They rule, the patriarcbs of the savage wild;
The fruitful glebe subdued by hardy toil,
A new creation blooms op freedom's soil;
Fair rising towns, their industry confess,
The Indian vanquished, prove a Power to bless.
Each peril crushed, and freed from every snare,
Their ally Heaven—their weapon faith and prayer.
Time speeds his course, and sister-states appear,
And arts and commerce urge their swift career;
Rich agriculture waves o'er every plain,
And Ceres views a new and vast domain;
Fair heaven, approving, smiles on every toil,
And Freedom hovers o'er her native soil;
Here, at her altar beamed the sacred fire,
Whose lightning-spark a nation did inspire;
Here gleamed the brand, whose flaming disk displayed,
A phalanx firm, in freedom's cause arrayed,
Here on thy plainst the symbol was unfurled,
A constellation beaming o'er a world,
Thy fields yet stained with veteran blood, can tell
How rived thy bosom when thy children fell!
Thy soil encrimsoned with thy richest tide;
Thy chieftains brave-thy statesmen, wisdom's pride,
Thy daughterst aiding in their country's right,
Thy veterans hardy, patient but in fight,
All speak thy love, New-England, for the cause
Of God and Country-home, and sacred laws.
From tyrant chains, and ruthless bondage freed,
Secure in peace, bright Valour's richest meed;
With every bliss which heaven does here bestow,
New England blooms, a gem on Freedom's brow!
With gracious boon kind Providence hath blest,
Thy favoured clime, with health, enjoyment's zest,
Unscorched by burning heat and Southern blast,
The bracing North, confirms thy ruddy cast;
The glow of temperance marks thy hardy race,
And kindred morals own their honoured place.' &c.

* Landing of the Fathers.

+ Battle of Lexington. In the revolutionary struggle, the daughters of New England by a voluntary sacrifice, abstaining irom the use of foreign luxuries, accelerated the efforts of their husbands and fathers in the cause of liberty.

From the Sacred Pieces.

WEEP NOT

* Weep not, when sad distress is nigh,
When bliss and transient pleasures fly;
When earthly blessings droop and fade,
When all is wrapt in sorrow's shade.
Weep not, when death with cruel dart,
Pierces some idol of the heart;
When ballowed friendship decks the bier,
When tender love would claim the tear.
Weep not-for as the morning cloud,
Does nature's radiant smiles enshroud;
But scatters soon;—these gloomy woes,
Shall flee, and all be calm repose.
Weep not-for as the floweret fair,
Is crushed with winter's blighting air;
Pressed rudely down, it droops its head,
And all its varied hues are fled
With opening spring, its bloom revives;
Again, the beauteous floweret lives;
Thus, when life's wintry storms are o'er,
The friend revives, to die no more.'

THE MORNING STAR.

"I am the root and offspring of David, and the Bright and Morning Star. Rev. xxii. 16.'

• Benighted on the troublous main,

While stormy terrors clothe the sky;
The trembling voyager strives in vain,

And nought but dark despair is nigb
When lo, a gem of peerless light,

With radiant splendour shines afar;
And through the clouds of darkest night,
Appears

the Bright and Morning Star.
With joy he greets the cheering ray,

That beams on ocean's weary breast;
Precursor of a smiling day,

It lulls his fears to peaceful rest
No more in peril doth be roam,

For night and danger, now are far;
With steady helm he enters home,

His guide the Bright and Morning Star.
Thus when affliction's billows roll,

And waves of sorrow, and of sin,
Beset the fearful, weeping soul,

And all is dark and drear within
'Tis Jesu's, whispering strains of peace,

Drives every doubt and fearafar;
He bids the raging tempest cease,

And shines the Bright and Morning Star.
From the Miscellaneous Pieces, we take the following.

THE NORTH STAR.
• Mild star that markest thy lonely way,

In yon expanse of cloudless blue;
Whose gem-like form and steady ray,

Attract the heedless peasant's view,
And him whose thoughts to unknown regions stray.

« PreviousContinue »