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Another year has passed away; and during that brief space, how many publications have been brought to life, run a short course, then expired; while The MIRROR, the old favourite of twenty years' standing, plods on in its usual course, respected by those in years, who, when life was young, had profited by its wholesome and amusing lessons, and revered by the son, because it was the favourite of the father. To meet the friend of our boyhood, after we have stemmed the rude stream of life-after being lashed against the rock of adversity, to meet an old companion with a smiling face, a warm heart, and open hand-how heart-gratifying; the scenes of youth flịt before the imagination, a flood of joy inundates the sout, and memory at once unfolds a thousand pleasures which we once enjoyed." May The MIRROR then prove the old friend with the smiling face and open hand; and may its sight, when announcing No. 1 of 1846, awaken ideas long forgotten, and resuscitate associations that will warm the heart, and gratify the feelings. To
many contributors thanks are returned for their able exertions. In prefacing another volume, no promise is held out, but a hope is expressed, that from the preparations that are being made to secure able and amusing contributions, the old friends of THE MIRROR will not forsake it, but, on the other hand, will point it out to the rising generation, saying, Thy father was instructed by this work; it still contains instructive and amusing articles; read it, for by doing so thou wilt derive both information and amusement.
Among the vast varieties of human nature, we find men who command by the force of genius urged in one particular direction, and others who shine by their versatility,
“Not one but all nature's epitome.” Victor Hugo challenges admiration for the extraordinary power by which he is distinguished, as well as by the diversified labours of a fertile, ingenious, and ever active mind. He is deemed in France, both in poetry and proše, to belong to that new school of which Lord Byron was the founder. His enemies are not few, and from time to time he has been overwhelmed with the most virulent abuse; but his friends and admirers, still more numerous, have triumphantly drowned the hiss of scorn or resentment in deafening enthusiastic acclamations. Sometimes his style is found turgid and feeble ; but at others his ideas, sparkling and sublime, extort applause, and at once carry the understanding and the heart by storm.
Much of the hostility which he has provoked, he owes to the part he has taken in politics; but as a romance writer, he has conquered many of those whom he had previously alienated. A stronger proof of this can hardly be required than that furnished by the fact that three editions of his romance of « Les Derniers Jours d'un Condamné” were sold in as many days.
As a dramatist, he boldly aspires to give a new direction to the taste of his country. The trammels of Racine and Voltaire, to which others have been content to submit, he pushes aside, and labours to make a road to fame for himself. His “ Hernani, ou l'Honneur Castellan," was put forth as a specimen, as one stone of an edifice which the author proposed at a future period to complete. We shall avail ourselves of the labours of the Foreign Review to describe the two remarkable works which we have mentioned :
“In Les Derniers Jours d'un Condamné, a murder having been committed, a young man belonging to the middling class of society is apprehended, loaded with irons, and brought before the tribunal. The prosecution having closed, the jury retire to their deliberative sitting, and the prisoner is reconducted to his dungeon. During three days his cause is under consideration, while his name and imputed crime draw crowds of spectators to the hall of justice. The two first nights of inquietude and terror he passes in wakeful agitation; but on the third, after leaving the court at midnight, overcome with anxiety and exhaustion, he falls into a sleep.
“ He is thus reposing on his pallet, sunk in profound slumber, when they come to awaken him. It is the gaoler---who exclaims; • Arise ! The prisoner, trembling in every limb, obeys, though scarcely able to find his clothes or to dress himself. You are waited for,' resumed the gaoler-and in a few moments he finds himself once more in the presence of his judges, and sentence of death is pronounced upon him.
"Condemned to death! said the crowd; and, as I was led along, the people rushed after me with the sound of a crashing edifice. I walked onward in a state of stupefaction. A revolution had taken place within me. Before the passing of the sentence I felt myself breathing, moving, and living in the same atmosphere with other men-but now I beheld distinctly the barrier betwixt the world and me. Nothing seemed the same as it before had seemed. The lofty painted windows, the beauteous sun, the cloudless heaven, and the lovely flowers-all, all were overspread with a paly, sheet-like whiteness; and the men, wonen. and children, thronging around my path, appeared but phantoms of unsubstantial air.
66. At the foot of the staircase, a grated coach, dark and dirty, was ready to receive me. A condemned culprit!' exclaimed the passersby as they hastened towards the coach. Through the mist that seemed to hang betwixt myself and all around, I perceived two young girls who followed me with eager looks; Good,' said the younger, clapping her hands, it will take place in six weeks!'
“The black coach conveys the convict to Bicêtre, where he records the mental tortures endured by the miserable expectants of destruction. Every possible precaution is taken to prevent his making any desperate effort to shorten the period of intermediate agony between condemnation and death. At first he experiences some kindliness from the gaolers, but in a few days their accustomed barbarity prevails, and he is confined in the common dungeon, among the most depraved criminals. Here he makes his will—a mother, a wife, and a child, will live to lament his fate and blush for his shame. Thu; he says, after my death three women-childless, husbandless, and fatherless--will survive me. Three orphans of different kinds—three widows made by law. I own myself to be with justice punished, but what have these guiltless ones committed ? Nothing-yet they are disgraced and ruined—and this is justice.' The walls of the dungeon are covered with mutilated inscriptions and broken sentences, headless forms, like those who had written them.' It seemed as though each convict had wished to leave a trace of his having dwelt in that horrible abode. Pencils, chalk, coal, had been used for this purpose often deep notches had been cut in the stone, and here and there were seen incrusted characters, which appeared to be of blood. There had those murderous men thought their latest thoughts. ' The prisoner fancies to behold them, crowded in the dungeon and carrying their hairless head by the mouth. All clench their hands at him; except the parricide. The gaoler entering takes the prisoner from amidst these horrible spectres, and leads him to a small cell whence he
may behold the departure of the slaves for the galleys. He views that odious spectacle-he hears the smacking of whips and the clanking of chains, and the applauding shouts of the populace, who rejoice at the sufferings of the miserable slaves. • And this,' cries the pri