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will be seen hanging his claims to credit on some threadbare influence with a lord or a man in office; another, endeavouring to make way by his good looks, or perhaps, like Sir Christopher Hatton the redoubtable, by his ball-room gifts and graces; but a general respect for the class, and a genial sympathy, beyond such as are implied in that word of destruction, clique,-is, alas ! far too rare among us.
We must indulge in one more extract, that we may part with our bevy of fair companions in good humour. The following town-scene, sketched in the streets of Le Puy, is as graphic and animated as if it had been painted by that most promising oil-colourist, the younger Goodall. To speak fancifully, it possesses, too, the charm which is as yet wanting to that artist's clever French interiors and fair-scenes,— namely, brightness and air.
“ On the occasion of the fête of Nôtre Dame d'Août, countless were the numbers of the peasantry, almost all women, and very aged men and children, which crowded the steps of the cathedral; and so dense was the throng within, that it appeared impossible for another creature to be introduced among the standing multitude. On every platform which divides the different series of steps mounting to the entrance of the church, were booths arranged on each side, filled with the usual holy toys of the meanest description eagerly brought by devotees.
"From the last step of the cathedral to the entrance from the lower town, all along the wide and dangerously precipitous street, en face, were hundreds of peasants in their holiday costumes, hurrying to mass from every village for leagues round. Very picturesque and singular is their appearance. The women wear generally dark gowns with rich-coloured aprons and handkerchiefs, scarlet and geranium prevailing among them; their white caps are small, and neatly quilled or plaited, bound round the head with a very broad coloured riband, tied in a bow in front, and surmounted by a little black, flat felt hat, about the size of a dessert plate.
"This hat is always worn on the front of the head, a little shading the eyes, and is trimmed according to the taste or caprice of the wearer. Ordinarily it is lined with red or green, and edged with velvet or chenille : it has a band of the same, which is sometimes fastened with a gold buckle, and some of the rich peasants have a plume of black feathers standing upright, placed all round the minute crown; occasionally a gold sprig is placed among the feathers, and sometimes the ornaments are bugles.
“ Nothing can be more bizarre and strange than this head-dress : it is singularly striking, and rather pretty when unadorned, but has a flaunting vulgar effect when covered with the forest of trimming which is considered a mark of dignity and wealth. To see these women arrive, as we did constantly in the Place de Breuil, mounted astride on their great heavy chargers, their scarlet aprons flaring in the sun, the plumes of their odd little bats nodding in the wind, and their panniers at their sides, was one of the most amusing sights imaginable.
“On the occasion of the fairs and cattle-markets, which are of too frequent occurrence for the peace of the quiet-minded, the whole of this immense square is filled to overflowing with peasants and cattle, when the coup-d'oeil is surprising, and certainly would delight a painter. The men are neatly enough dressed in blue jackets and trowsers, with a bright-coloured waistcoat, open collar, and large black sombrero. Others are in red woollen caps and round blue frocks. When it is remembered that these people all speak and call at the very tops of their voices, the charivari created by this concourse in the grande place may be conceived. Men rushing about, bearing in their arms refractory pigs, hallooing to others which are running between the legs of bullocks, cows, horses, asses, mules and sheep; the roaring, bellowing, screaming, scolding that ensues; the countless buyers and sellers; the eager bargainers; the vociferous meeting of friends; the disputes of rivals; the shrill cries of children; the beating of drums; the huées; the urging; the recalling; the patois ; the laughter;-altogether such a scene is beyond description, and, when witnessed, not easily forgotten."-Vol. ii. pp. 157–159.
We must bring this article to an end, though we have merely indicated the nature of the books to which it is devoted, in place of giving an account of their contents. It is an ungracious thing to compare and apportion, but we cannot help pointing out this class of literature as far healthier both for writer and reader than the contemporary fiction which it is the taste of the day to encourage and admire. We do not mean anything disrespectful to Romance: the ghost-scenes and Italian landscapes which charmed our mothers, did little harm to aught save the fancy; and the high-flown historical characters, all carmine cheeks and coal-black hair, such as the Porters delighted to draw, were too visionary and unreal to unsettle the mind of any save the veriest boarding-school worshipper of moonlights and serenades. And to the Edgeworths and Austins, who have taken life as they found it, and painted its motley scenes of grave and gay with honest hands, guided by benevolent hearts, be all honour. But the hard, haggard, empty, fashionable novel of the day; the tale bloated with morbid passion, or pregnant with false and bitter philosophies--surely far better than these are such records of fresh hours in the haunts of Nature, or solemn memories among the works of Art, as the ladies have given us, whom we here dismiss with respect and courtesy.
1. Speeches and Forensic Arguments. By DANIEL WEBSTER.
2 vols. Boston: Perkins and Marvin. London: J.
Green. 1838. 2. The Beauties of the Hon. Daniel Webster, selected and
arranged, with a Critical Essay on his Genius and Writings. By JAMES REes. New York: Langley.
London: J. Green. 1839. Except from the accounts of English travellers in America, and vague report, we apprehend that comparatively little is really known in our own country of Daniel Webster, the possessor of one of the most powerful and effective minds that have ever operated on the destinies of the United States. There are undoubtedly certain intellectual circles where his name is familiar, and his worth recognised; but the generality of our countrymen, we believe, are unacquainted with the particulars of his history, his character and influence, and the station that he occupies in society. It may also be very reasonably questioned if America, proud as she is of him, yet rightly comprehends the benefits which he has conferred upon her cause, and the cause of liberty generally throughout the world. Under this impression, it is our design in this article to enter more fully into an analysis of his character and works, than, with but one or two partial exceptions, little accessible to the general reader, has hitherto been attempted.
It is now seven or eight years, perhaps more, since the contents of the first of the two volumes heading our article were published. Several of the speeches and addresses which possessed a character of permanent and general interest, were translated and published in most of the languages of Europe, and deservedly appreciated by men of enlightened judgement and cultivated taste. One of the most eminent of our English statesmen declared that he had read them “ with “ no less admiration of their eloquence, than satisfaction in “ the soundness and ability of their general views.” In the United States the volume commanded the attention which might have been expected from the reputation of the author. No book perhaps had ever issued from the American press better calculated to take a strong and lasting hold of the public mind; to be regarded as a choice specimen of excellence in the various kinds of intellectual effort which it embraced; and to be resorted to and consulted as a standard authority on the great political and constitutional questions which had agitated the public mind of America for the last twenty years.
To the English public, however, we believe that very little of Mr. Webster's high qualifications as an orator and a statesman is yet known beyond vague conjecture or surmise, though the curiosity to inquire into his character may have been somewhat strengthened since his recent visit to this country. The causes of the neglect which we have assumed, we think on sufficiently warrantable grounds, may be twofold. In the first place they may be mixed up with those that attach generally to a want of interest felt by our countrymen in the details of American affairs; or, at least, in those concerns which do not apparently affect their more intimate relations with their transatlantic brethren. Secondly, because his writings consist almost wholly of oratorical effusions; and it may be that oratory, as such, is losing in general much of its pristine interest and power: the attraction which it would at first sight naturally appear to have, and which it formerly did excite, is on the decline; and the indifference of a people towards it is manifested in proportion as the institutions, habits and tastes of that people are not moulded on the republican model, or do not partake of its characteristics. And this applies probably as well to the perusal of a printed, as to the hearing of a spoken oration.
We may here observe by the way, that Lord Brougham, in his ‘Dissertation on the Eloquence of the Ancients,' remarks of public speaking, that with them it filled a greater space in the eye of the people than it does now, or ever can again, because they are now addressed through other means as well. The orator of old was the parliamentary debater, the speaker at public meetings, the preacher, the newspaper, the published sermon, the pamphlet, the volume—all in one. Miss Martineau, on visiting, in the course of her travels through the United States, some academical institution where declama
tion was made a prominent object of study, takes occasion to express a doubt whether the present generation of Americans are not mistaken in their calculations about the value and influence of popular oratory, and to remark that she never knew an oration produce nearly so much effect as books, newspapers and conversation. “I suspect,” she proceeds, “that “ there is a stronger association in American minds than the “ times will justify between republicanism and oratory, and “ that they overlook the facts of the vast change introduced " by the press—a revolution which has altered men's tastes " and habits of thought, as well as varied the methods of “ reaching minds. As to the style of oratory itself, reasoning « is now found to be much more impressive than declamation, 6 certainly in England, and I think also in the United States." She considers it therefore a pernicious mistake to render declamatory accomplishment so prominent a part of education as it is, and concludes, that “while the Americans have the “ glory of every citizen being a reader, and having books to “ read, they cannot have, and need not desire, the glory of “ shining in public oratory,—the glory of an age gone by.” Now in respect of mere declamation, these remarks, understood as generally applicable, will be admitted to contain a great deal of truth, but as regards true eloquence they are unquestionably subject to considerable limitation. It is true that this is especially a reading age, and the press exerts an efficiency never experienced at any previous æra; and where the affairs of a nation and the machinery of its government are exclusively or chiefly in the hands of the best educated classes of the people, there does indeed appear less need of the orator's vocation now than formerly. But among a people living and moving under the influence of a government and institutions solely dependent for their proper organization and wise direction upon the popular will in its broadest sense, and who, like the Americans, are for the most part closely engaged in realizing the physical conveniences of life, and hence necessarily debarred from the requisite leisure and means of fully probing all the intricacies of any great national question by their own unassisted efforts at home, the enlightening and guiding function of the public speaker is, and must continue to be, of great utility. Where the spirits of