Page images

The only defect in his manner of speaking (and it is, after all, by no means a constant defect), is a certain appearance of coldness, which, I suspect, is nearly inseparable from so much accuracy; Mr. Cranstoun is a man of high birth and refined habits, and he has profited abundantly by all the means of education which either his own or the sister country can afford. His success in his profession was not early (although never was any success so rapid after it once had a beginning); and he spent, therefore, many years of his manhood in the exquisite intellectual enjoyments of an elegant scholar, before he had either inclination or occasion to devote himself entirely to the more repulsive studies of the law. It is no wonder, that in spite of his continual practice, and of his great natural eloquence, the impression of these delightful years should have become too deep ever to be concealed from view; and that, even in the midst of the most brilliant displays of his forensic exertion, there should mingle something in his air, which reminds us that there is still another sphere wherein his spirit would be yet more perfectly at home. To me, I must confess, although I am aware that you will laugh at me for doing so, there was always present, while I listened to this accomplished speaker, a certain feeling of pain. I could scarcely help regretting that he should have become a barrister at all. The lucid power of investigation; the depth of argument; the richness of illustration--all set forth and embalmed in such a strain of beautiful and unaffected language, appeared to me to be almost too precious for the purposes to which they were devoted—even although, in this their devotion, they were also ministering to my own delight. I could not help saying to myself,—what a pity, that he who might have added a new name to the most splendid triumphs of his country—who might perhaps have been equal to any one as a historian, philosopher, or statesman, should have been induced, in the early and inconscious diffidence of his genius, to give himself to a profession which can never afford any adequate remuneration, either for the talents which he has devoted to its service, or the honour which he has conferred

its name. Having this feeling, I of course could not join in the regret which I heard expressed by all my friends in Edinburgh, in con. sequence of a prevailing rumour, that Mr. Cranstoun intends ere long to withdraw himself from the practice of his profession; and yet I most perfectly sympathise in the feelings of those, who, themselves compelled to adhere to those toils from which he is enabled to shake himself free, are sorry to witness the removal of one, who was sufficient of himself alone to shed an air of grace and dignity over the whole profession-and almost, as it were, over all that belong to it. Well indeed may they be excused for wishing to de fer as long as possible the loss of such a brother. To use the old Greek proverb, which Pericles has applied on a more tragical, but not on a more fitting occasion—it is indeed 'taking away the spring from their year.'


In the retreat of Mr. Cranstoun, however, (should it really take place) even these gentlemen, when they have leisure for a little more reflection, will probably see any thing rather than a cause of regret. The mind which possesses within itself so many sources of delightful exertion, can never be likely to sink into the wretchedness of indolence; and, in whatever way its energies may be em. ployed, there can be no question that good fruit, and lasting, will be the issue. Whether he return to those early pursuits in which he once promised to do so much, and of which, in the midst of his severer occupations, so many beautiful glimpses have from time to time escaped him; or whether he seek, in the retirement of his honourable ease, to reduce into an enduring form the product of his long assiduity in the studies of his profession-whether he may prefer to take a very high place in the literature, or the

very highest in the jurisprudence of his country—all will acknowledge that he has chosen a better part than he could have ever obtained, by remaining in the dust and fever of a profession which must be almost as fatiguing to the body as it is to the mind. Ibid. pp. 516_522.

MR. JEFFREY. I have heard many persons say, that the first sight of Mr. Jeffrey disappointed them, and jarred with all the ideas they had previ. ously formed of his genius and character. Perhaps the very first glance of this celebrated person produced something of the same effect upon my own mind; but a minute or two of contemplation sufficed to restore me to the whole of my faith in physiognomy. People may dispute as much as they please about particular features, and their effect, but I have been all my life a student of the human face divine,' and I have never yet met with any countenance which did not perfectly harmonize, so far as I could have opportunity of ascertaining, with the intellectual conformation and habits of the man that bore it.-But I must not allow myself to be seduced into a disquisition.

Mr. Jeffrey is a short and active looking man, with a great ap. pearance of vivacity in all his motions. His face is one which cannot be understood at a single look—perhaps it requires, as it cere tainly invites, a long and anxious scrutiny before it lays itself open to the gazer. The features are neither handsome, nor even very defined in their outlines; and yet the effect of the whole is as strik. ing as any arrangement either of more noble or more marked features, which ever came under my view. The forehead is very singularly shaped, describing in its bend from side to side a larger segment of a circle than is at all common; compressed below the temples almost as much as Sterne's; and throwing out sinuses above the eyes of an extremely bold and compact structure. The mouth is the most expressive part of his face, as I believe it is of every face. The lips are very firm, but they tremble and vibrate, even when brought close together, in such a way as to give the idea of an intense, never-ceasing play of mind. There is a delicate kind of sneer almost always upon them, which has not the least appearance of ill-temper about it, but seems to belong entirely to: the speculative understanding of the man. I have said, that the mouth is the most expressive part of his face--and, in one sense, this is the truth, for it is certainly the seat of all its rapid and transitory, expression. But what speaking things are his eyes! They disdain to be agitated with those lesser emotions which pass over the lips; they reserve their fierce and dark energies for matters of more moment; once kindled with the heat of any passion, how they beam, flash upon flash! The scintillation of a star is not more fervid. Perhaps, notwithstanding of this, their repose is even more worthy of attention. With the capacity of emitting such a flood of radiance, they seem to take a pleasure in banishing every ray from their black, inscrutable, glazed, tarn-like circles. I think their prevailing language is, after all, rather a melancholy than a merry one-it is at least very full of reflection. Such is a faint outline of this countenance, the features of which (to say nothing at all of their expression), have, as yet, baffled every attempt of the portrait-painters; and which, indeed, bids very fair, in my opinion, to leave no image behind it, either on canvass or on copper

Mr. Jeffrey's voice is neither a musical nor a noble one; but it has such a sharp, acute, thrilling power, that even its whisper can be heard distinctly at a very great distance, and that too in the midst of a multitude of voices, of more apparent power and compass. There is something about it which at once convinces you that it proceeds from no insignificant person-a decided, nervous tone, which cuts deep into the ear. His pronunciation is wretched-a mixture of provincial English, with undignified Scotch, altogether snappish and offensive; and which would be quite sufficient to render the elocution of a more ordinary man utterly disgusting; but the flow of his eloquence is so overpoweringly rapid, so unweariedly energetic, so entirely unlike every other man's mode of speaking, that the pronunciation of the particular words is quite lost to one's view in the midst of that continual effort which is required, in order to make the understanding, even the ear of the listener, keep pace with the glowing velocity of the declamation. His words come more profusely than words ever came before, and yet it seems as if they were quite unable to follow, passibus æquis, the still more amazing speed of his thoughts. You sit, while minute follows minute unaccounted and unheeded, in a state of painful excitation, as if you were in a room overlighted with gas, or close under the crash of a whole pealing orchestra.

This astonishing fluency and vivacity, if possessed by a person of

very inferior talents, might for a little be sufficient to create an illusion in his favour; and I have heard that such things have been. But the more you can overcome the effect of Jeffrey's dazzling rapidity, and concentrate your attention on the ideas embodied with such supernatural facility, the greater will be your admiration. It is impossible to conceive the existence of a more fertile, teeming intellect. The flood of his illustration seems to be at all times rioting up to the very brim-yet he commands and restrains it with equal strength and skill; or, if it does escape him for a moment, it spreads such a richness all around, that it is impossible to find fault with its extravagance. Surely never was such a luxuriant' copia fandi,' united with so much terseness of thought, and brilliancy of imagination, and managed with so much unconscious, almost instinctive ease. If he be not the most delightful, he is certainly by far the most wonderful of speakers.

Like Cranstoun, this splendid rhetorician was many years at the bar, before his success was at all proportioned to his talents. The reputation enjoyed by his Review was both a friendly and a hostile thing to him as a barrister; for it excited universal attention to him whenever he made any appearance at the bar, and yet it prevented many people from soliciting him to undertake the conduct of their cases, by inspiring a sort of fear, that his other, and more delightful, and better-rewarded pursuits, might perhaps pre. vent him from doing full justice to matters of every-day character--the paltry disputes of traders, and the mean tricks of attor. nies. All this, however, has been long since got over, and Jeffrey is now higher than almost any of his brethren in his general character of an advocate, and decidedly above them all in more than one particular department of practice. The same powers which have enabled him to seize with so firm a grasp the opinion of the public, in regard to matters of taste and literature, give him, above all, sway unrivalled over the minds of a jury. There cannot be a finer display of ingenuity than his mode of addressing a set of plain conscientious men, whom it is his business to bamboozle. He does not, indeed, call up, as some have dared to do, the majesty of sleeping passions, to overawe the trembling indecision of judgment. The magic he wields is not of that high cast which makes the subject of its working the conscious yet willing slave of the sorcerer. His is a more cunning, but quite as effectual a species of tempting. He flatters the vanity of men, by making them believe, that the best proof of their own superiority will be their coming to the conclusion which he has proposed; and they submit with servile stupidity at the very moment that they are pluming themselves on displaying the boldness and independence of adventurous intellect--In criminal trials, and in the newly-established jury court for civil cases, Mr. Jeffrey is now completely lord of the ascendant.--Ibid. pp. 526--30, Art, VII.- The Pariah of Bombay, a Tale.

[From the European Magazine.] TOWARDS the brilliant hour of sunset, in a spring evening,

one of the noblest brachmins in this island appeared on a parapet of rocks extending into the bay, and began the ceremonies of the cocoa-nut feast by throwing a gilded shell into the sea. In a few

moments the waves swarmed with more than a thousand shells lanched as a tribute to the bountiful element, while the shore resounded with the joyous clamours of tom-toms, pipes, trumpets, and the double flutes played by rough boys, resembling the young satyrs in antique bas-reliefs. Booths, gayly festooned with dyed cot. ton or splendid chintzes, and heaped with toys and sweetmeats, gave amusement to groups composed of every nation, class, and cast, in their best attire. But even the brachmin who presided at this harmless superstition was not more disposed to good humour than Ibrahim Ahmed, a dustoor or high-priest of the sect called Guebres or Parsees,* in India. He was still in the prime of life; his eminently graceful figure derived every possible advantage from the folds of his long white muslin Jamma, and the gay colours of the shawl which twined round his cap of crimson velvet, suited the laughing character of his face, while they contrasted the clear olive of his complexion. Accustomed to the festivities of the best Europeans in Bombay, and to the frank amenity of their opinions, he looked with more curiosity than contempt on the pageant of Hindoo bigotry. While tame snakes, and jugglers from Madras, amused his companions, his eyes were attracted by a female pariah, one of the most reprobated class of outcasts. She held in her hand a lamp of fireflies, and was wading into the tide in quest of the cocoa-shells that swam near the shore; hoping, perhaps, to collect a few whose fibres might be used for cordage. Though her person was bowed by the constant drudgery of her unhappy class, and defiled by squalid habits, there was something in the arrangement of the Shaliet contrived to answer the purpose of a petticoat and mantle, which revealed modesty and natural grace. And when she threw back the corner of this shalie, whose ragged ends had been gathered over her head as a veil, the beautiful black eyes beneath it made the dustoor Ibrahim half regret the dignity of his own station. He thought with more than usual bitterness of the superstition that consigns the pariahs to utter ignominy, and per-haps these thoughts occupied him so long that he forgot the Atshbaharam, or holy fire, which he ought to have kept alive. Those who recollect the objects of a Guebre's superstition, know that a firetemple contains two fires, one of which the vulgar may behold, but the other is preserved in the most holy recess, unvisited by the light of the sun, and approached only by the chief dustoor or highpriest. It was necessary to remedy its extinction by fire brought from a funeral pile, and at this period Ibrahim knew not where to -seek one, as his sect no longer burned their dead, holding it more -advisable to return the body to air, by exposing it, than to earth, Water, or fire. But as the Hindoos of Bombay burned human relics on the shore at low water, he folded himself in his shawl, and

* Both the sun and the sea are worshipped by these idolaters. Their burialplace is a square open repository.

# The Shalie, among the common class of native females, is a long piece of coloured silk or cotton wrapped round the waist, leaving balf one leg bare.

« PreviousContinue »