our era.




BY SIR FRANCIS HASTINGS DOYLE, BART., [The following is an attempt to versify a literal transla

tion of a poem by the Hindoo writer, Tinevaluva, Late Regius Professor of Poetry at Oxford. who lived, it is supposed, in the third century of

He was remarkable for his hatred of Young blossom! delicately pure and fair, idolatry and caste, and for his almost Christian Ere sunshine's touch hath warmed the snow. conception of God and human duty.)

chilled sod; Who gives what others may not see,

How comest thou to this grim northern air, Nor counts on favor, fame, or praise,

Flower from the land of God?
Shall find his smallest gift outweighs
The burden of the mighty sea.

Not to our clime, oh petals pale and sweet,
Are ye akin, - our realms of strife and

pain, Who gives to whom hath naught been given,

Nor born to be down-trodden under feet
His gift in need, though small indeed

Still hurrying after gain;
As is the grass blade's wind-blown seed,
Is large as earth and rich as heaven.

Thy home is on each holy mountain-side,

O’er plains filled with the wind flower's Forget thou not, O man! to whom

flaming gleam, A gift shall fall, while yet on earth,

O’er dells where the massed oleanders hide, Yea, even to thy sevenfold birth,

In rose clouds the blue stream. Revive it in the lives to come!

Thou bringest back those deathless moments Who, brooding, keeps a wrong in thought,

when Sins much, but greater sin is his

Thy native heaven grew strong with solemn Who, fed and clothed with kindnesses,

powers, Shall count the holy aims as naught.

And breathest here - a type of other men,

And other lives, than ours.
For he who breaks all laws may still
In Sivam's mercy be forgiven :

Yes! above all, thy leaflets fresh and white, But none can save in earth or heaven

White as the unreached snows that never The wretch who answers good with ill!

wane, Recall the inan who walked thy hills in light,

That spirit without stain.

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

From Blackwood's Magazine. often said, that a glimpse into a man's EDWARD GIBBON.

mind, a real portrait of a human creature

great or small, is one of the greatest The last autobiographer whom we pleasures we can receive. It is not nebrought before the reader was the most cessary even that the portrait should be of romantic and fantastic of noble ladies. an elevated and remarkable person, or of We have now a subject more sedate. one already known to us, or that the life Those picturesque and troublous days should contain great and varied interests. were over, and the reign of the conven. There is a picture in our National Gallery tional had come in, when Edward Gibbon, at which many a spectator gazes with symEsq., a comely, well-bred, and well-dressed pathy and interest. It is a portrait without gentleman of the Georgian era, bethought any name a pensive face disclosing a him that it would be well, having neither character somewhat feeble, weak-kneed, chick nor child, but only a big book to inarticulate. The original does not seem make him known to posterity, if he left to have found his life a very satisfactory also for the instruction of the world a one. No wonder, for he was but a tailor; personal account of himself and all his and though the mediæval times in which ways. He had a happy confidence that he lived must have furnished many allevi. this narrative would be received with all ations in rich color and quaint design to the interest which it deserved, and was the monotony of the trade, its disabilities very well aware that his was no insignifi- were probably greater in those aristocratcant figure, but one in every respect im- ical ages than now. But we look at him portant enough to be contemplated by with more than mere admiration for a successive generations, and to give the picture, with a distinct sense of human world assurance of a man and a historian fellowship. To see him with his scissors, such as appears but rarely to its view. looking out at us, modestly, humbly, with He was not noble or beautiful, or the a deprecatory consciousness of being but head of a family such as might be sup- a poor sort of fellow to have survived so posed to derive at once importance and many vicissitudes and centuries, is, humguidance from the example of an ancestor ble though he be, a touching sight. And so distinguished. He does not write, as who is there who could resist that loftier Lord Herbert does, for the instruction of countenance, in the same collection - the his particular household, but, with a com- dark, soft, pathetic, almost beseeching placency which is not unbecoming to him, face of the Florentine Andrea, the great and perfectly natural, he dispenses with painter but feeble soul, whose sad story all secondary motives, and with sincerity of vacillation and moral failure, deepened and modest self-appreciation presents him by a never-failing consciousness of the self, as one worthy of its study, to the higher truth he could not hold by, is writuniverse. And his confidence has been ten in his eyes ? Such studies from the entirely justified. No chapter in his great life are above art. Our steady-going his. work has been more read and admired torian has nothing in him of the poem of than that which tells his own story, and self-abasement and moral despair which how that great work came to be written. is in the looks of Andrea, and it would be There are passages in it which are as unworthy of Mr. Gibbon's dignity to comfamiliar to our ears as proverbial expres- pare him to Moroni's inoffensive tailor; sions. The words in which the comfort- but nevertheless his sketch is like them, able fat gentleman discloses and describes valuable, not for the kind of being it that eventful moment when the idea of depicts, but because it does depict a real writing a history of Rome first dawned kind of being, bringing us into distinct upon him, and those in which he sets contact with him, and affording a clear forth his sensations at the moment of perception of his qualities. concluding it, are as well known as any The figure is a dapper figure, neither passages in the English language. Thus heroic nor melanchols, but self-sufficient, we prove over again what has been so l self-approving, thoroughly comfortable

[ocr errors]

and satisfied with a world which, on the igality in youth, was good enough to whole, had proved to him the best of all secure all the advantages of a luxuri.. possible worlds, though it gave him not ous bringing-up to his son. His reflecvery much, no supreme joy or rapture, tions upon his own good fortune in the nothing beyond a reasonable level of article of birth are of the most edifying, well-being, with plenty of food for the kind. Dr. Watts has expressed the sen. intellectual curiosity which was in him, tinient in a more popular form, but the and excellent prose compensation for his delightful complacency of his Christian labors. This is not enough for many child in respect to its own antecedents smaller persons; but it was enough for is identical with the satisfaction of the Gibbon, who had no fantastic desires or great historian. “My lot,” says Gibimaginations. He was the son of a fam- bon, "might have been that of a slave, ily which, without any brag of its impor- a savage, or a peasant: nor can I re. tance or antiquity, he is able to trace back fiect without pleasure on the bounty of with satisfaction for a few generations. nature, which cast my birth in a free and His grandfather was a director of the civilized country, in an age of science and South Sea Company, and as such was philosophy, in a family of honorable rank forced by act of Parliament to give up and decently endowed with the gifts of almost the whole of his fortune in satis. fortune." A gentle regret crosses his faction of the claims upon that chief of mind on looking back. His five brothers bubble companies. We are not informed he does not pretend to lament, but the how it was that the action of Parliament sister who died also in infancy calls up in in the matter was necessary, or whether him a sense of want. The relation of a this was the beginning of that liability brother and sister is a beautiful tie. Itis which has produced so much ruin in our “the sole species of Platonic love that own day, and against which the device of can be indulged in with truth and without a responsibility “limited” has been in danger,” he says; and he regrets that this vented to afford a safeguard. The Gib. tender and delightful companionship bon of the South Sea Company was, never fell to his lot. It is the only regret however, it is evident, one of those irre- he expresses. But the circumstances of pressible mercantile men who seem to his childhood were somewhat peculiar. thrive upon failure, for he ended as rich His mother had not time to bestow upon as he was before, having fully re-estab- her sickly boy. She died early, and durlished his fortunes. His son, as was nat- ing her lifetime was frequently ill, and she ural, was of another temper, and spent had “an exclusive passion for her huswhat the father had gained. He sat in band.” But she had at the same time – Parliament for many years, joining the an

institution which careless mothers Tory party, as Gibbon explains, out of should cultivate a sister, “at whose the vigorous hatred he had for Sir Robert name," says the great writer of fifty-two, Walpole and the party which had confis. " I feel a tear of gratitude trickle down cated his father's goods for the advantage my cheek.” “If there be any, as I trust of his creditors. “Without acquiring the there are some," he adds, “who rejoice fame of an orator or statesman, he eagerly that I live, to that dear and excellent joined in the great opposition which, after woman they must hold themselves in. a seven years' chase, hunted down Sir debted.” His aunt was the mother of his. Robert Walpole; and in the pursuit of a mind and the salvation of his delicate popular minister he gratified a private frame. He was a weakly boy, for whom. revenge against the oppressor of his fam- education of the usual kind was impractiily in the South Sea persecution.” The cable. School was tried, but in vain. historian finds this sentiment very legiti- Like Cowper, he remembered with horror mate, and states it with historical calm. the direful experiences of that ineffectual He was himself the only surviving child and interrupted training : like Buckle, he of this avenger of family wrongs, whose learned to read and think and discuss, at position, notwithstanding an over-prod-l a very early age, books which are in gen

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

eral left to mature intellects. “Every delightful by her companionship. The

. • time I bave since passed over Putney sickly little boy shot upwards like an imCommon," he tells us, “I have always prisoned plant towards the light, and came noticed the spot where my mother, as we to premature growth and blossom. He drove along in the coach, admonished me read not only fairy tales, but works of that I was now going into the world, and classic inspiration under her soft and genmust learn to think and act for myself.” |ial shadow. He was but eight years old when this cri.

Her indulgent tenderness, the frankness of sis arrived. At ten he was brought home her temper, and my innate rising curiosity, again upon the death of his mother, and soon removed all distance between us. Like recalls his first meeting with his father, friends of an equal age, we freely conversed with all the distant distinctness of a child. on every topic, familiar or abstruse; and it was ish memory, bewildered and awestricken her delight and reward to observe the first by a grief he was too young to compre

shoots of my young ideas. Pain and languor hend, as a scene he could never forget. were often soothed by the voice of instruction “The awful silence; the room hung with and amusement; and to her kind lessons I

ascribe my early and invincible love of read. black; the midday tapers; his sighs and

ing, which I would not exchange for the treastears; his praises of my mother, a saint

ures of India. . . . Before I left Kingston in heaven; his solemn adjuration that I School I was well acquainted with Pope's would cherish her memory and imitate her - Homer” and “The Arabian Nights Enter virtues; and the fervor with which he tainments,” two books which will always please kissed and blessed me as the sole surviv. by the moving picture of human manners and ing pledge of their loves.” Perhaps a specious miracles: nor was I then capable of man requires to be a celibate, without discerning that Pope's translation is a portrait after-ties that take the place of those endowed with every merit excepting that of early ones, or the chance of seeing his likeness to the original. The verses of Pope own childhood obliterate itself in the more accustomed my ear to the sound of poetic interesting childhood of his child, to pre wreck of Ulysses I tasted the new emotions of

in the death of Hector and the ship

harmony: serve this clear far-off freshness of recol- terror and pity, and seriously disputed with lections, those scenes like pictures, in

my aunt on the vices and virtues of the heroes which he himself stands bewildered, yet of the Trojan war. . . My grandfather's so profoundly conscious. It is curious to flight unlocked the door of a tolerable library: note how much more keen is the memory, and I turned over many English pages of poetry how much more distinct all the personal and romance, of history and travels. Where details of recollection, in the minds of a title attracted my eye, without fear or awe I those who have kept themselves intact, so snatched the volume from the shelf; and Mrs. to speak, and have never lost their child. Porten, who indulged herself in moral and ish individuality. The man, and more

religious speculations, was more prone to enespecially the woman, who has married, courage than to check a curiosity above the and confused the remembrance of early

strength of a boy. days with so many recollections more The group thus described is singularly poignant, has a memory of a totally dif- attractive: the woman, middle-aged by ferent quality from that of the virginal old this time, who had found in “the perusal age which has never replaced its first im- of the best books in the English lanpressions with others more important. guage” training and entertainment for an Gibbon and Cowper and Buckle are all of active and fine mind, at leisure from the this stamp. To leave our pensive poet more absorbing occupations of life, but between these two brother philosophers with many of its cares upon her shoul. is unfortunate; but in this one particular ders, and probably without much companthey resemble each other. But Gibbon ionship that could satisfy ber higher was happier than Cowper. His aunt nature; and the half-invalid child, precotook for him the place of the mother, ciously sharpened in all his intellectual whom already she had supplanted in the faculties, abstracted altogether from the child's life; and was made happy and I realities, and existing in the ideal as only

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

a child can, with entire good faith and me from the exercises of the schoor and realization of every imaginative detail, the society of my equals.” How were seriously disputing” over the merits of tame lessons and dreary lexicons to be Homer's heroes, and forgetting Putney, supported by an intelligence which already where the sky was overcast with coming felt itself free to rove as an equal, as a troubles, — make a pretty picture. Very critic and judge, among the great author. soon, however, the catastrophe came. ities of historical science? "In my child. The grandfather, of whom we have no ish balance,” he confesses, “I presumed further particulars, was ruined in trade, to weigh the systems of Scaliger and and Gibbon's aunt, Catherine, " the true Petavius, of Marsham and of Newton, mother of his soul,” as he calls her, was which I could seldom study in the origileft destitute. Whether it was with spenals; and my sleep has been disturbed by cial reference to her invalid boy or not, it the difficulty of reconciling the Septuagint is at least certain that the high-spirited with the Hebrew computation. I arrived woman, looking about for some way to at Oxford with a stock of erudition that maintain herself, fixed upon that of keep- might have puzzled a doctor, and a de. ing a boarding-house for Westminster gree of ignorance of which a schoolboy School, where the little Edward was would have been ashamed.” placed under her care, and an attempt The reader will find in the life of Buckle made to keep him at the ordinary studies almost an exact reproduction of this prethere. Notwithstanding his aunt's care, cocious, presumptuous young reader, however, the attempt failed. He adds leaping over all the early discipline by various sententious remarks as to the which the mind is strengthened and recharacter of public schools, to the account strained, and setting up with the temerity of his own failure; but perhaps a youth to of childhood a standard of his own. whom school was a weariness, was not Buckle, too, had the sprightly intelligence best adapted to form a judgment. His of a woman, his most tender nurse and health made the studies of Westininster, protector, to stimulate and encourage him, whether good or bad in themselves, im- and shared his studies with his mother, possible, and the boy was transferred to as Gibbon did with his aunt. Fortua private tutor. When this tutor was nately, however, for the latter, he was found incapable, the father, bewildered, delivered from the crude opinions and and evidently losing his head in his per- self-willed theories which have taken so plexity, suddenly carried off his ailing much from the weight of Buckle's often uneducated son to Oxford, of all places in brilliant but always one-sided philosophy, the world, where he matriculated and be by an interval of compulsory self-denial came a gentleman-commoner at Magdalen and hard work. This was not, it is hardly College, in the fifteenth year of his age. necessary to say, at Oxford. Gibbon de. Such things have been before now; and scribes his entry into the life of the the young prodigies who took this posi- famous university with a mixture of suption before they were out of their child. pressed spite and desire to appear candid hood have developed into great scholars, and to be just: as their natural bias led them. But Gib. bon was no scholar. He had little tin, At the distance of forty years she says] I and less Greek, when he invaded prema still remember my first emotions of surprise turely these classic shades.

A strange

and satisfaction. In my fifteenth year I found little student! with his head full and run myself suddenly raised from a boy to a man; ning over with the lore which was to be in age and academical rank entertained me

the persons whom I respected as my superiors his future occupation in life, but all un- with every mark of attention and civility; and trained in the classical instruction which my vanity was flattered by the velvet cap and was the special distinction of the univer- silk gown which distinguish a gentlemansity: Never was a child more emphatic. commoner from a plebeian student. A decent ally the father of the man. He had read allowance, more money than a schoolboy had grcedily every historical work that had ever seen, was at my own disposal. . : . A fallen into his hands, receiving all kinds key was delivered into my hands which gave of heterogeneous food, and the theories me the free use of a numerous and learned of adverse historians, of which he was too library: my apartment consisted of three eleyoung to comprehend even the complete Building

gant and well-furnished rooms in the new diversity. “Instead of repining," he says, lege; and the adjacent walks, had they been

- a stately pile — of Magdalen Col. "at my long and frequent confinement to frequented by Plato's disciples, might have the chamber or the couch, I secretly re- been compared to the Attic shade on the banks joiced in these infirmities, which delivered of the Ilissus.

[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »