staircase is the highway, and every floor or
apartment a separate habitation." These
sketches, though manifestly written many
we should surmise not very
years ago
long after the restoration of Louis XVIII.
-are still, in most of the prominent points
of the characters which they describe, as
true as ever. The descendants of the Eng-
lishman and the Frenchman may to-day look
at these portraits of their fathers, and find
the likenesses undeniably true, though the
fashion of the garb or of the nationality of
each may be a little modified at the present
day. Here now are two of these pictures,
in which are presented the characters of the
two nations which, the writer observes, are
like two threads of different colors, tangled
together, but never blended :-

"In fact, they present a continual antithesis, and seem to value themselves upon being unlike each other; yet each have their peculiar merits, which should entitle them to each other's esteem. The French intellect is quick and active. It flashes its way into a subject with the rapidity of lightning; seizes upon remote conclusions with a sudden bound; and its deductions are almost intuitive. The English intellect is less rapid, but more persevering; less sudden, but more sure in its deductions. The quickness and mobility of the French enable them to find enjoyment in the multiplicity of sensations. They speak and act more from immediate impressions than from reflection and meditation. They are therefore more social and communicative-more fond of society, and of places of public resort and amusement. An Englishman is more reflective in his habits. He lives in the world of his own thoughts, and seems more self-existent and self-dependent. He loves the quiet of his own apartment; even when abroad, he, in a manner, makes a little solitude around him, by his silence and reserve-he moves about shy and solitary, and, as it were, buttoned up, body and soul.

every thing, whether useful or ornamental, by what it costs. He has no satisfaction in show, unless it be solid and complete. Every thing goes with him by the square foot. Whatever display he makes, the depth is sure to equal the surface.

"The Frenchman's habitation, like himself, is open, cheerful, bustling, and noisy. He lives in part of a great hotel, with wide portal, paved court, a spacious dirty stone staircase, and a family on every floor. All is clatter and chatter. He is good-humored and talkative with his servants, sociable with his neighbors, and complaisant to all the world. Any body has access to himself and his apartments; his very bedroom is open to visitors, whatever may be its state of confusion; and all this not from any peculiarly hospitable feeling, but from that communicative habit which predominates over his character.

"The Englishman, on the contrary, ensconces himself in a snug brick mansion, which he has all to himself; locks the front door; puts broken hottles along his walls, and spring-guns and mantraps in his gardens; shrouds himself with trees and window-curtains; exults in his quiet and privacy, and seems disposed to keep out noise, daylight, and company. His house, like himself, has a reserved, inhospitable exterior; yet, whoever gains admittance, is apt to find a warm heart and warm fireside within.

"The French excel in wit, the English in humor; the French have gayer fancy, the English richer imaginations. The former are full of sensibility, easily moved, and prone to sudden and great excitement, but their excitement is not durable; the English are more phlegmatic, not so readily affected, but capable of being roused to great enthusiasm. The faults of these opposite temperaments are, that the vivacity of the French is apt to sparkle up and be frothy; the gravity of the English to settle down and grow muddy. When the two characters can be fixed in a medium-the French kept from effervescence and the English from stagnation-both will be found excellent.

"This contrast of character may also be noticed in the great concerns of the two nations. The ardent Frenchman is all for military renown; he fights for glory-that is to say, for success in arms. For, provided the national flag is victorious, he cares little about the expense, the injustice, or the inutility of the war. It is wonderful how the poorest Frenchman will revel on a triumphant bulletin. A great victory is meat and drink to him; and at the sight of a military sovereign bringing home captured cannon and captured standards, he throws up his greasy cap in the air, and is ready to jump out of his wooden shoes for joy.

"John Bull, on the contrary, is a reasoning, considerate person. If he does wrong, it is in the most rational way imaginable. He fights because the good of the world requires it. He is a moral person, and makes war upon his neighbor for the maintenance of peace, and good order, and sound principles. He is a money-making personage, and

"The French are great optimists; they seize upon every good as it flies, and revel in the passing pleasure. The Englishman is too apt to neg lect the present good in preparing against the possible evil. However adversities may lower, let the sun shine but for a moment, and forth sallies the mercurial Frenchman, in holiday dress and holiday spirits, gay as a butterfly, as though his sunshine were perpetual; but let the sun beam never so brightly, so there be but a cloud in the horizon, the wary Englishman ventures forth distrustfully, with his umbrella in his hand.

"The Frenchman has a wonderful facility at turning small things to advantage. No one can be gay and luxurious on smaller means; no one requires less expense to be happy. He practises a kind of gilding in his style of living, and hammers out every guinea into gold-leaf. The Eng-fights for the prosperity of commerce and manulishman, on the contrary, is expensive in his hab- factures. Thus the two nations have been fighting, its, and expensive in his enjoyments. He values time out of mind, for glory and good. The French,

in pursuit of glory, have had their capital twice written for you. And this, dear readers, is taken ; and John, in pursuit of good, has run one of the pleasantest things in the world. himself over head and ears in debt."

Just such a day as this, while you sit at the

fire-side, and having finished a sketch or a Well, some thirty years have passed away disquisition, what can be pleasanter than to since Geoffrey Crayon made these sketches, lay the book gently down upon its face, on and these years have wrought great changes your desk, and then, looking at the bubbling in the relative position of the two nations to-gas-jets from the coal, or the puffing smokewards each other, and with the changes have wreaths winding round the bars, surrender come changes of feeling. The two threads your soul up to a reverie, and speed away still retain each its own color, it is true, but full chase after a thought that your

author they tangle no longer, nay, they are actually has started for you, and so run down your twined agreeably, so as to form a bond all game far, far away from the spot where you the stronger, and they blend too in that man- have set out, passing over all sorts and diner in which the weaver has learned to blend versities of country in your chase-wide lycolors together in “shot silk,” so that they ing plains of easy thought, where the soul

, harmonize agreeably, while the hue of each goes in a hand-gallap, valleys of pathos, may yet be distinguished when looked at in hills of sublime speculation, dark forest a particular light, and from a particular point mazes of metaphysics, where the soul wanof view. And this process has been wrought ders and well-nigh loses her way, and scarce out by many coöperating circumstances ; first, sees the light of teaven above her, till at and in chief, the two nations have learned to last she emerges again into sunshine. All recognize fully each the merit of the other, this is, as we say, very pleasant, and someand to accord a full, and frank, and generous times very profitable, and sometimes, let us esteem, each to its neighbor. Intercourse make the confession, very idle, or worse than has increased wonderfully, till the facilities of idle. Still, as we say, it is very pleasant, modern locomotion have made the passing and the more so, when, as now, outside you from one country to the other little more there is not a leaf on the trees, nor a spot of than the stepping from one shire or parish green or even of brown earth on the surface into another; and the telegraph lias enabled of our civic little garden-plots, and snow, the Frenchman and the Englishman to con- snow everywhere around you-snow in ihe verse as readily in their respective lands, as heavens, snow on the earth, snow in the air, two farmers could do while standing each at snow in the streets, snow on the slates. his own side of a common mearing. With Now, let us take up our book again, an! this has naturally come a giving way mutu- go through its pleasant pages. Here are ally of old prejudices, then a wearing off of scraps of history, mingling with pieces of ficmany of those antithetical points of char- tion—the real and the unreal relieving each acter, and an adoption by each of something other in a manner that is very agreeable. characteristic of the other. From French But above all, we have two or three legends literature we have adopted in a larger degree told in that happy, easy, off-hand style which than most people, perhaps, imagine, French Washington Irving has made his own, and habits of thought; and a similar change has in which he has, as yet, been unrivalled. been wrought by similar means over the Who forgets“ Rip Van Winkle ?” Is it not French. Every day we are reciprocating as familiar as a nursery tale ? “The Ada kindnesses, lending and borrowing forms of lantado of the Seven Cities” scarce yields to speech, forms of dress, forms of thought it in comic humor or lively touches; and the till at last came this great common peril and return of the hero, after the sleep of a cencommon interest, which has bound the two tury, to mistake the great-granddaughter of nations together, as with bands of iron; and his quondam inamorata for the object of his the adhesion, which was at first but the re- early love, is scarce inferior to the incidents sult of pressure from without, has now be in the legend of the “Sleepy Hollow.” One come an amalgamation, cemented by the other legend, “ Guests from Gibbet Island," fusion of French and British blood in the has taken our fancy so strongly, that we same battle-field.

must read a passage from it aloud. They There are few authors more suggestive who will listen to us may do so. Vanderthan Washington Irving. All his essays scamp, the hero of the adventure, was by —and who has written more agreeable or no means the best of characters—whereby philosophical essays than he has ?

we mean, of course, that he was about the sure to set you thinking far beyond what is greatest rascal extant, especially as three of


[merged small][ocr errors]


'It happened late one night, that Yan Yost Vanderscamp was returning across the broad bay in in his light skiff, rowed by his man Pluto. He had been carousing on board of a vessel newly arrived, and was somewhat obfuscated in intellect by the liquor he had imbibed. It was a still, sultry night; a heavy mass of lurid clouds was rising in the west, with the low muttering of distant thunder. Vanderscamp called on Pluto to pull lustily, that they might get home before the gathering storm. The old negro made no reply, but shaped his course so as to skirt the rocky shores of Gibbet Island. A faint creaking overhead caused Vanderscamp to cast up his eyes, when, to his horror, he beheld the bodies of his three potcompanions and brothers in iniquity dangling in the moonlight,their rags fluttering, and their chains creaking, as they were slowly swung backward and forward by the rising breeze.


"What do you mean, you blockhead,' cried Vanderscamp, by pulling so close to the Island?' "I thought you'd be glad to see your old friends once more,' growled the negro; 'you were never afraid of a living man, what do you fear

from the dead?'

"Who's afraid? hiccupped Vanderscamp, partly heated by liquor, partly nettled by the jeer of the negro; who's afraid? Hang me, but I would be glad to see them once more, alive or dead, at the Wild Goose. Come, my lads in the wind!' continued he, taking a draught, and flourishing the bottle above his head, 'here's fair weather to you in the other world; and if you should be walking the rounds to-night, odds fish! but I'll be happy if you will drop in to supper.'

"A dismal creaking was the only reply. The wind blew loud and shrill, and as it whistled round the gallows, and among the bones, sounded as if they were laughing and gibbering in the air. Old Pluto chuckled to himself, and now pulled for home. The storm burst over the voyagers while they were yet far from shore. The rain fell in torrents, the thunder crashed and pealed, and the lightning kept up an incessant blaze. It was stark midnight before they landed at Communipaw.


"Company!' said Vanderscamp meekly; 'I brought no company with me, wife.'

"No indeed! they have got here before you, but by your invitation; and blessed looking company they are, truly.'


"Vanderscamp's knees smote together. For the love of heaven, where are they, wife?' "Where?-why in the blue room up stairs, making themselves as much at home as if the house were their own.'

Dripping and shivering, Vanderscamp crawlent, ed homeward. He was completely sobered by the storm; the water soaked from without, having diluted and cooled the liquor within. Arrived | at the Wild Goose, he knocked timidly and dubiously at the door, for he dreaded the reception he was to experience from his wife. He had reason to do so. She met him at the threshold in a pre

"Vanderscamp made a desperate effort, scrambled up to the room, and threw open the door. Sure enough, there at a table, on which burned a light as blue as brimstone, sat the three guests from Gibbet Island, with halters round their necks, and bobbing their cups together, as if they were hob-or-nobbing, and trolling the old Dutch freebooter's glee, since translated into Eng

lish :-

"For three merry lads be we,
And three merry lads be we:
I on the land, and thou on the sand,
And Jack on the gallows-tree.'


"Vanderscamp saw and heard no more. ing back with horror, he missed his footing on the landing-place, and fell from the top of the stairs to the bottom. He was taken up speechless, and either from the fall or the fright, was buried in the yard of the little Dutch church at Bergen, on the following Sunday."

cious ill-humor.

"Is this a time,' said she, 'to keep people out of their beds, and to bring home company, to turn the house upside down?'

And now we have passed our day most comfortably, from noontide, turning over these leaves, and have gone fairly through them, from cover to cover; and there is the great, round, red-faced, frost-bitten sun going down below the horizon-no, not the horizon, but below the straight sky-line, drawn along the dull, dim, foggy heaven, by the roofs of the opposite houses. We close the book, and we lay it by in an honored corner of our book-shelf, to be reproduced again, it may be, on some wintry day, or summer evening; and we bid farewell for the present to Washington Irving. Since the day when he first sought and obtained the suffrages of all classes of readers to the pres

he has contrived to maintain his popularity through all changes of time and things. Others, many others, have arisen in the interval, who have won the admiration of the world, and shared its applause, but none of them have weakened the estimation in which

Washington Irving has ever been held; and he is, we venture to say, no less a favorite to-day than when he first instructed and delighted the world, as Diedrich Knickerbocker or Geoffry Crayon.

From Chambers's Journal.



DIED last Christmas-day-Sir Adam Ferguson, the school-friend of Scott, and his friend through life-a conspicuous figure, of course, in Mr. Lockhart's biography of the great fictionist. Many interesting and pleasant memories hovered around the name of this fine old man, and in his removal from the world, one important link between the Old and the New is severed. It will be almost startling to our readers to hear that there lived so lately one who could say that he had sat on the knee of David Hume. Yet such was the case. Sir Adam had often been so seated, and received bon-bons from the pocket of the philosopher of the benevolent expression of whose countenance, he said, no portrait gave an adequate representation. Equally surprising it must be to think of the deceased as the son of one who fought in the battle of Fontenoy. Yet this also is true. At that action, which took place in May, 1745, Adam Ferguson, the father of our friend, was present as chaplain of the Black Watch-the same regiment which, under the name of the Fortysecond, has distinguished itself so much in the recent conflicts in the Crimea. The colonel was rather surprised to see the chaplain coming on among the rest, with a broadsword in his hand, and ordered him to the rear. He would not go-the colonel threatened him with the loss of his commission. He took out the document from his pocket, and throwing it on the ground with an exclamation more significant than clerical, joined in that charge which the French afterwards described as so terrible-when the "Highland furies," they said, "rushed in upon us with more violence than ever did a sea driven by a tempest."

Even this curious fact does not give the case in its strongest light. The present writer can never forget the strange feeling which came over him one day, when, chancing to meet Sir Adam Ferguson on a country ride in the neighborhood of an old mansionhouse near Edinburgh, he heard the ancient knight remark: There is Brunstain House, where my

father lived in 1742, as secretary to Justiceclerk Milton!"

This Lord Milton was the acting sousministre for Scotland in the administration of Walpole. Here was a limb of Walpole's government, it might be said, speaking the other day through a son. It seemed to crumple up time, and make it look as nothing. It may be added, that this young secretary's father was pastor of the Aberdeenshire parish in which Balmoral is situated, immediately after the Revolution; and in his manse at Crathie, he had given shelter to some of the unfortunate Macdonalds of Glencoe, on their flight from the celebrated massacre.

It may be remarked, that the secretary afterwards came to be professor of moral philosophy in the Edinburgh University, and an eminent author. The work by which he is best known is his History of the Roman Republic. He acted as secretary to the commission sent out by Lord North in 1778, to try to make up matters with the Americans; and endeavored on that occasion, but in vain, to be allowed to go in person to the congress at Yorktown, and lay the British proposals before them. He was in many respects a singular man. Having had a stroke of paralysis at sixty, he put himself upon a rigid vegetable and milk diet, with an entire abstinence from intoxicating liquors, and thus survived thirty-three years, dying at last rather because he had ceased to wish to live, than from any failure of the powers of life. That is to say, the interest he felt in the war being at an end in 1815, he became compar. atively careless about regimen and other such matters, and so sunk in the ensuing year. Perhaps never did any Stoic philosopher more completely subject his passions and feelings to his reason than did Dr. Adam Ferguson.

The son was in many respects a contrast to the father. Although a man of good talents, he never showed the least disposition to concentrate them in any course by which distinction was to be won. Gay and light

hearted, he was entirely calculated for the insouciant life of a soldier; and a soldier he accordingly became. He had made an attempt, indeed, to enter life as a writer to the

Signet (equivalent to the English solicitor); but it was of no use. How happy must have been the "messes" which he joined! Barrack-life could have had with him no dulness. The hardest campaign must have been sensibly alleviated, if Ferguson shared in it, for he had a pleasantry for every possible contingency. It must have been surprising to any English brother-officer to consider him as a Scotsman, for not one particle of that sagacious and somewhat repulsive gravity which is attributed to the nation belonged to him. It would not have been surprising, however, to discover how much goodness of disposition and solid worth were joined to this gay temper.

Ferguson, who was the senior of Scott by less than a year, met him at the High School; and they immediately became friends. At that time, Dr. Ferguson lived in a solitary suburban villa, which his friends used to call Kamtschatka, on account of its being so far out of the way; and here, every Sunday, he received a few of his brother literati at dinner. Black, the illustrious chemist, whose niece he had married; Hutton, the father of modern geology; Robertson, the historian; John Home, the author of the tragedy of Douglas; Smith, the author of the Wealth of Nations; and Dugald Stewart, were among the ordinary visitors of Kamtschatka; and into this brilliant circle Scott was introduced, when a mere boy, by his friend Adam. One day, in 1787, Dugald Stewart brought with him, as a kind of protégé, the poet Robert Burns, who had then just burst upon the public gaze. Scott was there, a noteless youth, glad to keep by some safe corner of the room, whence he might eye the luminaries at a distance, with out ever presuming to think himself worthy of conversing with any of them. This was the only occasion on which Burns and Scott were ever brought together; and Scott, many years after, gave an account of the meeting to Mr. Lockhart. He speaks particularly of the poet's large black eye, which he says "literally glowed when he spoke with feeling or interest." But Ferguson told some particulars which Scott's modesty suppressed. He used to say that Burns did not at first join the circle, or attempt to enter into their conversation, but casting his eye on a framed print which hung on the wall, he became quickly interested in the scene which it dis

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

The eyes of Burns overflowed as he read, and he turned with an agitated voice to the company, asking if any one knew who wrote those beautiful lines. The philosophers sat mute; and after an interval, young Walter said half aloud and very carelessly: "They're written by one Langhorne." Burns caught the response, and seeming both surprised and amused that a boy should know what all those eminent men were ignorant of, he said to Scott: "You'll be a man yet, sir." Rather oddly, we have found, on an inspection of the identical copy of the print, that the name "Langhorne" is inscribed below the lines, though in so small a character, that when the picture hung on a wall, it might well have escaped the notice of both Burns and Scott.

Through all their days of youth, the intimacy of Ferguson with Sir Walter Scott knew no abatement. Many were the merry meetings in which they took part, in the Edinburgh oyster-cellars, and the taverns of Newhaven; but Ferguson always bore strong testimony to the practically virtuous and temperate life of Scott in those days. When Scott, as a writer's apprentice, went to serve some writ upon a recusant farmer in the Perthshire Highlands, and thus made his first acquaintance with those romantic scenes which he afterwards introduced into his Lady of the Lake, Ferguson accompanied him. Some years before the close of the century, Dr. Ferguson lived in a very retired place called Hallyards, amidst the pastoral hills of Peeblesshire, where a mis-shapen and eccentric dwarf, of most uncanny aspect, called David Ritchie, was a near neighbor. In 1797, Scott came to pay the Fergusons a visit there, and was taken to see David, as one of the lions of the district. The misanthrope-for so he was-seeing Scott's lameness, seemed to take to him more than he did to strangers generally, and having perhaps heard of his curious old-world learning, took him firmly by the wrist, saying, in his harsh wild voice: "Ha'e ye ony poo'er?"-meaning magical power.


« VorigeDoorgaan »