Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

*

[ocr errors]

admirer, affected to regard literary dis. | English. Their intrinsic merit is not, it tinction as a trifle. “I beg,” he said, must be admitted, of a high order, but as “that you will look upon me, not as an a literary curiosity they will bear repetiauthor, but as a gentleman.” “If,” re- tion: plied Voltaire, disgusted with his foppery, “you had had the misfortune to be simply

Hervey, would you know the passion

You have kindled in my breast? a gentleman, I should not have troubled

Trifling is the inclination myself to wait upon you.” To Congreve That by words can be express'd. he owed, we suspect, his introduction to the Dowager Duchess of Marlborough,

In my silence see the lover who not only communicated to him some

True love is best by silence known; interesting particulars which he after

In my eyes you'll best discover

All the power of your own. wards wove into his “ Siècle de Louis XIV.,” but is said to have solicited his A curious fortune attended these verses. assistance in drawing up her memoirs. They were subsequently transcribed and This task he at first consented to under- addressed to a lady named Laura Harley take. The duchess laid the papers before

- the wife of a London merchant — by him, and issued her instructions. Find one of her gallants, and they formed part ing, however, that he was to write, not as of the evidence on which her husband unbiassed historical justice required, but grounded his claim for a divi This as her Grace's capricious prejudices dic- has misled Mr. Parton, who supposes that tated, he ventured to expostulate. Upon Voltaire wrote them, not in honor of Lady that her manner suddenly changed. Fly. Hervey, but in honor of poor Mr. Harley's ing into a passion, she snatched the paper erring wife. That they awoke no jealousy from him, muttering, “ I thought the inan in Lord Hervey is proved by Voltaire's had sense; but I find him, at bottom, letter to Thiériot, dated April, 1732, and either a fool or a philosopher.” The story by a letter he addressed to Hervey bimis told by Goldsmith; * it would be inter- self in 1740. But the beautiful wife of esting to know on what authority.

Lord Hervey was not the only lady disAnother story, resting, it is true, on no tinguished by the admiration of Voltaire. very satisfactory testimony, but in itself | He has spoken in rapturous terms of the so intrinsically probable that we are in- graces and accomplishments of Lady Boclined to believe it genuine, is related by lingbroke, for whom he finds a place in Desnoiresterres. Voltaire, hearing that his “ Siècle de Louis XIV.;" and an unthe duchess was engaged in preparing her published letter in the British Museum memoirs for publication, ventured to ask shows that he had paid assiduous court if he might be permitted to glance at the to Lady Sundon, who had evidently not manuscript “You must wait a little,” been insensible to his flattery.t she said, “ for I am revising it;" coolly And now we come to a very curious observing that the conduct of the govern- story, a story which is related in detail ment had so disgusted her that she had by, Ruffhead, and has been repeated by determined to recast the character of Johnson. It had long been suspected by Queen Anne, “as I have,” she added, Pope and Bolingbroke that Voltaire was • since these creatures have been our playing a double part; in other words, rulers, come to love her again.” Pope's that he had formed a secret alliance with Atossa was assuredly no caricature, and the court party, and was acting as their a better commentary on it it would be spy. Their suspicion was soon confirmed. impossible to find.

In February, 1727, appeared the third of Like most of his countrymen Voltaire a series of letters in which the character appears to have been greatly struck with and policy of Walpole were very severely the beauty of the English women, and handled. The letter was written with about this time he became acquainted unusual energy and skill; it attracted with one whose charms have been more much attention, and Walpole's friends frequently celebrated than those of any were anxious to discover the author. other woinan of that age. Voltaire was While it was still the theme of conversaone of the thousand adorers of Molly tion Voltaire came to Twickenham, and Lepel, then the wife of Lord Hervey. asked Pope if he could tell him who wrote To her he addressed a copy of verses it. Pope, seeing his object, and wishing which are interesting as being the only verses now extant composed by him in his - Les Divorces Anglais," and is discussed by

[ocr errors]

* This circumstance is mentioned by Châteauneuf in • Life of Voltaire, Miscellaneous Works, iv., p. 25. † Additional MSS.

Desnoiresterres.

to prove him, informed him in the strict. phant; but it is nevertheless true that he est confidence that he was himself the too often figures in a character closely author of it, “and," he added, “I trust bordering on both. His correspondence to your honor as a gentleman, Mr. Vol. – and his conversation no doubt resemtaire, that you will communicate this se- bled his correspondence – is almost sickcret to no living soul.” The letter had ening. His compliments are so fulsome, really been written by Bolingbroke, and his flattery so exaggerated, that they might bore in truth no traces of Pope's style; excusably be mistaken for elaborate irony. but the next day every one at court was He seems to be always on his knees. speaking of it as Pope's composition, and There was scarcely a distinguished man Voltaire's treachery was manifest. To then living in England who had not been this Bolingbroke apparently alludes in a the object of this nauseous homage. He letter to Swift (May 18, 1727): “I would pours it indiscriminately on Pope, Swift, have you insinuate that the only reason Gay, Clarke, on half the Cabinet and on Walpole can have to ascribe them (i.e. the half the peerage. In a man of this charoccasional letters just alluded to) to a acter falsehood and hypocrisy are the very particular person is the authority of one essence of his composition. There is of bis spies, who wriggles himself into nothing, however base, to which he will the company of those who neither love, not stoop; there is no law in the code of esteem, nor fear the minister, that he social honor which he is not capable of may report, not what he hears, since no violating. The fact that he continued to man speaks with any freedom before him, remain on friendly terms with Pope and but what he guesses.” Conduct so scan. Bolingbroke can scarcely be alleged as a dalous as this ought not to be lightly proof of his innocence, for neither Pope imputed to any man, and it would be sat- nor Bolingbroke would, for such an ofisfactory to know that Voltaire had either fence, be likely to quarrel with a man in a been traduced or misrepresented. It is position so peculiar as that of Voltaire. pot likely, however, that the story was His flattery was pleasant, and his flattery, invented by Warburton, from whom Ruff. as they well knew, might some day be head almost certainly had it, and there is, worth having. No injuries are so readily moreover, strong presumptive evidence in overlooked as those which affect neither its favor. Voltaire had undoubtedly been men's purses nor men's vanity. meddling with the matter, for in a letter Meanwhile he was diligently collecting to Thiériot dated May 27, 1727, he says: materials which were afterwards embod“Do not talk of the occasional writer. ied in his “ Lettres Philosophiques,” his Do not say that it is not of my Lord " Dictionnaire Philosophique,” his “Sie. Bolingbroké. Do not say that it is a cle de Louis XIV.”, and his “ Histoire de wretched performance. You cannot be Charles XII.” First he investigated the judge." It is certain that he twice re. history and tenets of the Quakers. He ceived money from the court; it is certain sought the acquaintance of one Andrew that he visited Walpole, and that he sought Pitt, who resided in the country not far every opportunity of ingratiating himself from London, and he attended a 'Quakers' with the king and with the king's friends. meeting, of which he gives a very amusIt is clear that neither Pope nor any ing account, near the Monument. The member of Pope's circle had much confi. substance of his conversation with Pitt, dence in him.' Bolingbroke has indeed supplemented by his own independent expressly declared that he believed him study of Quaker literature, he has emcapable of double-dealing and insincer- bodied in the article on Quakers in the ity, * and what Bolingbroke observed in Philosophical Dictionary," and in the him was observed also by Young:t Nor first four “Philosophical Letters." He was such conduct at all out of keeping investigated the various religious sects with the general tenor of Voltaire's be into which English Protestantism had havior during his residence among us. divided itself, and to these schisms he Throughout his aims were purely selfish, somewhat paradoxically ascribes the har. and to attain those ends he resorted to mony and contentment reigning in the means which no man of an honest and religious world of England. "If," he independent spirit would have stooped to observes, “only one religion were allowed use. It would perhaps be unduly harsh in England, the government would very to describe him as a parasite and a syco- possibly become arbitrary; if there were See his letter to Madame de Ferriole, dated De other's throats; but as there are such a

but two, the people would cut one ancember, 1725, Lettres Historiques, vol. iii., p. 274. Spence's Anecdotes, p. 285.

multitude, they all live happy and in

[ocr errors]

peace.” He studied the economy of the But nothing impressed him so deeply as Established Church, and the habits and the homage paid, and paid by all classes, character of the clergy. Our commerce, to intellectual eminence. Parts and genour finance, and our government, each ius were, he observed, a sure passport, engaged his attention, and on each he not, as in France, to the barren wreath of has commented with his usual superficial the Academy, but to affiluence and popucleverness. Three things he observed larity. By his pen Addison had risen to with especial pleasure, because ey con- one of the highest offices of the State. trasted so strongly with what he had been A few graceful poems had made the foraccustomed to witness in France. He tunes of Stepney, Prior, Gay, Parnell, found himself for the first time in his life Tickell, and Ambrose Philipps. By his in the midst of a free people, a people essays Steele had won a comunissionerwho lived unshackled save by laws which ship of stamps and a place in Parliament. they had themselves enacted; a people A single comedy had made Congreve iowho, enjoying the inestimable privilege of dependent for life. Newton was master a free press, were, in the phrase of Taci. of the mint, and Locke had been a comtus, at liberty to think what they pleased, missioner of appeals. He records with and to publish what they thought. He pride that the portrait of Walpole was to beheld a splendid and powerful aristoc- be seen only in his own closet, but that racy, not as in Paris, standing contemptu. the portraits of Pope were to be seen in ously aloof from science and letters, but half the great houses in England. “Go,”. themselves not unfrequently eager candi- he says, "into Westminster Abbey, and dates for literary and scientific distinction. you find that what raises the admiration of The names of many of these noble au- the spectator is not the mausoleums of thors he has recorded, and they are, he the English kings, but the monuments adds, more glorious for their works than which the gratitude of the nation has for their titles. With not less pleasure erected to perpetuate the memory of those he beheld the honorable rank assigned in illustrious men who contributed to its English society to a class who were in glory;" He thought bitterly bow in his the Faubourg St. Germain regarded with own country he had seen Crébillon on the disdain. Voltaire was perhaps the first verge of perishing by hunger, and the son writer of eminence in Europe who had of Racine on the last stage of abject desthe courage to vindicate the dignity of titution. When, too, on his return to trade. He relates with pride how, when France, he saw the body of poor Adrienne the Earl of Oxford held the reins of le Couvreur refused the last rites of re. Great Britain in his hands, his younger ligion, and buried with the burial of a brother was a factor at Aleppo; how, dog, because she was an actress,” his when Lord Townshend was directing the thoughts wandered to the generous and councils of his sovereign in the Painted large-hearted citizens who laid the coffin Chamber, one of his nearest relatives was of Anne Oldfield beside the coffins of soliciting custom in a counting-house in their kings and of their heroes. the City. He draws a sarcastic parallel between a “seigneur, powdered in the life o rivale d'Athène, O Londre ! heureuse terre, of the mode, who knows exactly what Ainsi que les tyrans, vous avez su chasser o'clock the king rises and goes to bed, Les préjugés honteux qui vous livraient la and who gives himself airs of grandeur C'est là qu'on sait tout dire et tout récom

guerre. and state at the same time that he is act

penser. ing the slave in the antechamber of a Nul art n'est méprisé, tout succès a sa gloire. prime minister," and a merchant who en. Le vainqueur de Tallard, le fils de la victoire, riches his country, despatches orders from Le sublime Dryden, et le sage Addison, his counting-house to Surat and Grand Et la charmante Oldfield, et l'immortel Newton Cairo, and contributes to the felicity of Ont part au temple de mémoire, the world."

Et le Couvreur à Londre aurait eu des tom.

beaux

Parmi les beaux-esprits, les rois et les héros * See the remarkable passage at the end of the tenth letter in the Lettres Historiques." It may be worth Quiconque a des talents à Londre est un grand mentioning that this work is in two forms — the En

homme. glish translation, which preceded all extant French

(La Mort le Mlle. de Couvreur.) editions, appeared in 1733, and was executed under the superintendence of Thiériot, its title being “Letters

Here we must pause. The history of concerning the English Nation," by M. Voltaire. appeared in French the following year as “ Lettres Voltaire between the period at which we Philosophiques.”

have now arrived and his departure from

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

It

England in the spring of 1729 is too inter- i So beneath his roof in idle play esting and important to be treated curso- The winter slowly sped, rily. We hope in a future number to Though the windows shone like the brightest complete our sketch.

J. C. C.

day,
With their curtains small and their flower-pots

gay
In the little cottage red.

FROM THE NORWEGIAN OF HENRIK IBSEN.

[ocr errors]

From Blackwood's Magazine. When fair winds broke the ice-lumps through,
TERRY WIGAN.

With the brig was Terry gone :
When the gray goose in autumn southwards

flew,
A STRANGE and grizzled man once dwelt He met it half-way flown.
On yonder outmost isle;

Then a gloom like the shade of the coming By land or sea he never dealt

night A human being guile :

Clouded the sailor's brow; But at times came an ugly gleam in his eye, He came from the land of the sunshine bright, When the weather wasn't good,

Astern lay the world with its life and light, And then they thought he was mad thereby, And winter before the bow. And then few men would dare go nigh Where Terry Wigan stood.

They anchored, and his mates betook

Themselves to their carouse;
I saw him myself a single time,
He lay with his fish by the pier :

He gave them just one longing look,
Though his hair was flecked with a foamy rime, In at the lattice he peeped. Not one,

As he stood by his quiet house. Gay was his voice and clear.

But two in the room were they ; With a quip and a jest the girls he cheered,

His wife sat still and linen spun,
With the village lads made fun;

While in the cradle, full of fun,
He waved his sou’wester, and off he sheered,
Then up with his stay-sail and home he steered,

A rosy lassie lay.
Away in the setting sun.

By that one glance was he inspired I'll tell you now of Terry's tale,

With a resolution deep: Whatever I have heard ;

He toiled and moiled, and was never tired And if at times 'tis dry and stale,

Of rocking his child to sleep. There's truth in every word.

Of a Sunday night, when the dances gay I heard the story from those whose place

Were heard from the homesteads there, Was with him when he died;

He'd sing his merriest songs and play, Who watched by his bed at his decease,

While in his lap little Anna lay And closed his eyes to the sleep of peace,

With her hands in his auburn hair. High up on yon hillside.

So the weeks went by till the war broke out In his youth, a wild dare-devil Dick,

In eighteen hundred and nine : He gave his folk the slip,

The troubles still are talked about And bore with many a monkey trick

That then made the people pine. As the youngest lad in the ship.

Every port was blocked by English crews, Then at Amsterdam away he ran,

Inland there was famine sore; For his home-love urged him sore,

The poor had to starve and the rich to lose, And returned in the “ Union” – Captain And two strong arms were of little use Brann;

With plague and death at the door.
But at home there were none that saw in the
The little boy of yore.

Terry mourned for a day or two,

Then rose from sorrow free; For he'd grown to be dapper and tall and red, He thought of a friend that was old and true,

The broad and boisterous sea. And was rigged out tight and trim :

There's a western rhyme that still gives life But his father and mother both were dead,

To his deed as thing of note : And all that were dear to him.

“ When the winds were loud with storm and He mourned for a day — ay, maybe two,

strife, Then rose from sorrow free;

Terry Wigan rowed for his child and wife, With earth at his feet no rest he knew;

Over seas in an open boat.”
It was better, he said, to have to do
With the broad and boisterous sea.

His smallest skiff was chosen out,
In a year from then was Terry wed,

To Skagen he must go : It came about in haste,

Mast and sail he did without, And he rather repented a step, folk said,

For he thought it safer so. That kept him firmly placed.

He knew the boat could bear him far,

man

Howe'er the sea might chop;

To God in his bitter dread :The Jutland-reef was a ticklish bar,

On yonder famine-stricken shore But a worse was the English man-o'-war Sits iny starving wife at my cottage door, With a watch on the mizen-top.

And waits with her child for bread.”

66

"

[ocr errors]

So he seized the oars and gave his fate But the fifteen shouted louder then,
Over to Fortune's care,

'Twas the same as at Lyngor – And, safe at Fladstrand, did but wait

The luck is ever with Englishmen To ship his cargo there.

When they plunder Norway's shore. Not much of a freight, Lord knows, he drives, When Terry touched on the sunk reef's top, Three kegs with oats high piled;

The yawl too scraped the cliff : But he came from a country where poverty | From the stern the officer sang out, “Stop! thrives,

Then he heaved up an oar, and he let it drop, And aboard of his boat he'd the savin' o' lives, And he thrust it through the skiff. And it was for his wife and child.

a Three nights and days to the thwarts bound The thrust made a burst of frame and plank,

The sea rushed in at the chink;
close,

In the two foot o' water his cargo sank,
Strongly and brave he rowed :
When next the inorning sun arose,

But his spirit didn't sink.

He fought himself free from the armed men, A misty line it showed.

Their threats deterred him not: It was no cloud that met his view,

He ducked and swam, and he ducked again; But land before him lay; The Imenaes Saddle, broad and blue,

But the yawl pushed off, and there flashed out

then Stood out, the peaks and ridges through,

Cutlass and musket-shot.
And then he knew his way.
He was near his home, and he had just They fished him up and aboard the craft,
To bear a short delay;

The sailors gave three cheers;
His heart swelled high in faith and trust,

The commander stood on the poop abaft, He was near about to pray,

A boy of eighteen years. 'Twas as if the words had stopped frost. Terry's boat was the first prize e'er he made, bound

So he struts with a proud stiff neck: He gazed, and in his track,

But Terry's mind was now dismayed, Through the fading fog that upward wound,

The strong man lay and wept and prayed He saw a corvette in Hesnaes Sound

On his knees on the vessel's deck. That pitched as she lay aback.

He bought with tears and they sold him smiles, The skiff was seen, the signal passed,

They paid him scorn for prayer : That way was blocked outright;

An east wind rose, and from out the isles

Seaward the victors fare.
But the west wind veered, and Terry steered
Towards the west his fight.

'Twas done : not a word had he to say, Then they lowered the yawl - as the ropes un.

He would bear his sorrow now; coiled,

But his captors it was strange, thought they, He could hear the sailors shout:

How a something stormy passed away With his feet on the frame of the boat he From the vault of his cloudy brow.

toiled At the oars, till the water foamed and boiled, In prison for many a year he lay, – And the blood from his nails oozed out. Full five long years, say some;

His back was bowed, and his hair grown grey, Gaesling's the name of a sunken shoal

With dreaming of his home. To the east of Homburg Sound:

He would think in silence, and never cease, There's an ugly surf and the breakers roll,

Of a joy his heart waxed big at: And two foot down you're aground.

Then 1814 came with peace,
There are white spurts there and a yellow And the captives Norse on their release
slough,

Sailed home in a Swedish frigate.
Though the sea hasn't even rippled;
But, although the swell be never so rough, He stood on the pier by his home anew,
Inside it is calm and smooth enough,

Made a pilot since the war ;
For the force of the current's crippled.

But the grizzled man was known to few

As the sailor lad of yore. There Terry Wigan's skiff shot through His house was a stranger's — God him save Over the foam and sands :

From the fate his darlings found ! But in his wake behind him flew

“ When the husband left," was the tale they The yawl and fifteen hands.

gave, It was ihen that he cried through the breakers' “They starved, and got a common grave

From the parish in pauper's ground.”

a

roar

« VorigeDoorgaan »