Page images

ness, natural to drooping and fading life,

The poet's name, with unflinching patience. Her memory,

And hero's on the brazen book of time, judgment, temper and warm affections, were

Are writ in sunbeams, by Fame's loving hand;

But none record the household virtues there. unimpaired to the last. While she could write with a pen she did so ; when that be- In company she turned away from any came inconvenient, she used a pencil. Her mention of herself as an author. last words, in reply to the questions of She was a warm admirer of fine landwhat could be done for her, were, “ I want scapes, both on canvass and in nature. nothing but death.” She thanked her phy- Gilpin, on the picturesque, fascinated her sician for his attention, and received the at an early age, and she seldom changed sacrament before she became exceedingly her opinion either of books or men. Her weak : she was buried in the Cathedral memory was excellent, and her reading church of Winchester.

extensive. Johnson and Cowper were her It is said that of personal attractions she favorite moral authors Her natural dispossessed a considerable share, her figure crimination was gratified by Richardson's was fine, her deportment quiet and grace- power of creating, and preserving the conful, her countenance expressive of cheer- sistency of his characters, as he has done in fulness, sensibility and benevolence. Her Sir Charles Grandison. Her power of complexion was superb; the blood spoke inventing characters was intuitive, she in her modest cheek through “ the pearly studied from nature. But better than all texture of her dainty skin.” Her voice was these endearing qualities and talents, she sweet, her language fluent and precise. was thoroughly devout, fearful of giving She was formed to enjoy and adorn elegant offence to God or to any of his creatures. society. She was a good musician, and fond In one of her letters in reply to a mock of dancing in which she excelled, as she did charge of purloining from the manuscripts also in drawing. She was considerate as re- of a young relation, she writes : “What gards the frailties and foibles of others, al- should I do, my dearest E-, with your though fully alive to them, and never uttered vigorous and manly sketches, so full of either a hasty, a silly, or a severe expres- life and spirit? How could I possibly sion. Her manners were exceedingly plea- join them on to a little bit of ivory, two sant, and those who once met her had a inches wide, on which I work with a brush strong desire to become better acquainted so fine as to produce little effect after much with her, and to gain her friendship. Her labor." mein was tranquil and serene. She The following extract is from a letter became an author entirely from taste written a few weeks before her death :and inclination, when neither the hope “My attendant is encouraging and talks of fame or gain mingled with her mo- of making me quite well. I live chiefly tives.

on the sofa, but am allowed to walk from It was with great difficulty her friends one room to another. I have been out could persuade her to publish her first once in a sedan chair, and am to repeat it, work, and she thought its failure so certain, and be promoted to a wheel chair as the and that its sale would not repay her pub- weather serves. On this subject I will lisher, that she retained a part of her only say further, that my dearest sister, small income to meet the expected loss. my tender, watchful, indefatigable nurse, How great was her surprise when“ Sense has not been made ill by her exertions. As and Sensibilitybrought her a clear pro- to what I owe to her, and to the anxious fit of £130. With all her great talents affection of all my beloved family on this she was unpretending, although gratified to occasion, I can only cry over it and pray hear the applause that from time to time God to bless them more and more.” She reached her ears from those whose judg- concludes in this vein: “ You will find ment she highly valued. She shrank from Captain a very respectable, wellthe idea of attaching her name to any of meaning man, without much manner ; his her productions, although amid her own wife and sister all good humor and obligingfamily she talked of them freely and mod-ness, and I hope, (since the fashion allows estly, was glad of their praise, and submis- it,) with rather longer petticoats than last sive to their criticism.

Ah, Jane, the last sentence savors


of old maidishness. Can morality or im- To interesting narrative, Miss Austen morality be judged by the length of petti- adds sound principles, and inculcates uncoats and skirts, or by their shortness ? sophisticated manners, integrity and rectiA Swiss peasant girl is as likely to be mod tude, over the more common and artificial est as a fine lady with a long trail to her pretensions of society. Her discriminadress.

tion, quiet humor and delineation of charMiss Austen's novels are entirely unex- ter have never been surpassed. A very inceptionable, naturally and ably written. telligent writer speaks of novels in the Her characters you seem to have known following strain, and I heartily concur with all your life, to have been with them and his views. “If all literary fiction could be listened to their conversation in the sitting withdrawn and forgotten, and its renovation room, or by the dining table, and to have prohibited, the greater part of us would walked with them in parks, fields, and by be dolts, and what is worse, unfeeling, unthe road side. You see into their very generous, and under the debasing dominion hearts, become acquainted with their vir- of the selfishness of simple reason. It has tues, foibles and vices. For instance, let always appeared to me that those who any one take up Pride and Prejudice; cautiously keep novels from young people they will never forget Mr. and Mrs. Ben- mistake the nature of the mind, thinking it net, or Elizabeth, Ann, or Lydia, with her only intellect, and would cultivate the unintense love for officers, or the pompous derstanding alone. Imagination they look and empty Sir William Lucas, the foolish upon as an ignis fatuus to be extinguished Collins, tedious, and with a skull of solid if possible—an ignis fatuus arising out of proof, impenetrably dull ; the haughty, vain a quagmire, and leading astray to one. and silly Lady Catherine de Bourgh, the There is nothing good comes from the ingood hearted but wavering Bingley, and tellect alone. The inventive faculty is his sister, proud, scheming and heartless, compound, in which the imagination does or the sensible, well-bred Mr. and Mrs. the most work; the intellectual portion Gardiner, the sleek villain Wickham, or selects and decides, but collects not the the proud, generous Darcy, who is at last materials. All true sentiment, all noble, compelled to love and wed Ann Bennet in all tender feeling, comes not of the underspite of the vulgarity and offensive man- standing, but of that mind or heart, if we ners of her mother. The story of this so please to call it—which imagination courtship is well told.

raises, educates and perfecte. Even feelMiss Austen possessed good sense and ings are to be made--are much the result pure religious feeling, not ostentatiously of education. The wildest romances will put forth, but winding like a thread of gold in this respect teach nothing wrong. If through all her writings, beautifying and they create a world somewhat unlike the enriching her genius. No particular mo- daily visible, they create another which is ral, no dogma is inculcated in her stories. a reality to the possessor, to the romantic, They give a true picture of life, of men from which he can extract much that is and women as they really are, not as the practical, though it may seem not so; for imagination often dresses them


from hence may spring noble impulses, see characters such as she describes, daily. generosity and fortitude. It is not true that The drawing and coloring is so correct and such reading enervates the mind. I firmly true, the outline so definite, that it seems believe it strengthens it in every respect,

if any one could write novels equally and fits it for every action, by unchaining good. In this respect they are deceitful it from a lower and cowardly caution. Who enough, reminding us of the inimitable ever read a romance that inculcated list. grace and flowing ease, the felicitous en- less, shapeless idleness. It encourages acdowments, and the copiousness of Gold- tion and endurance. We have not high smith, apparently easily to be imitated, but natures till we learn to suffer. I have notheir naturalness and style have hitherto ted much the different effect troubles have been unapproached. Doctor Johnson's upon different persons, and have seen the style was happily copied by all, from lot- unromantic drop like sheep under the rot tery dealers to utterers of heavy sermons of their calamities, while the romantic have from well cushioned pulpits.

been buoyant, and mastered them. They

and we


I dare say

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

have more resources in themselves, and are more elegant than their dresses ;
not bowed down to one thought, nor limit- the lace upon Mrs. Hurt's gown
ed to one feeling; in fact, they are higher here she was interrupted. “ The Lucases,"
beings. The caution professes mainly to continued Mrs. Bennet, " are very artful
protect women; yet, among all the young people indeed, sister. They are all for
women I have been acquainted with, I what they can get. I am sorry to say it

say that the novel-readers are not of them, but so it is. It makes me very
only the best informed, but of the best na- nervous and poorly, to be thwarted so in
ture, and some capable of setting examples my own family, and to have neighbors who
of a sublime fortitude—the more sublime think of themselves before any body else.
because shewn in a secret and all-enduring However, your coming just at this time is
patience. Who are they that will sit by the greatest of comforts to me, and I am
the bed-side of the sick day and night, very glad to hear what you tell us of long
suffer privation, poverty, even undeserved sleeves.
disgrace, and shrink not from the self-im- “ It is amazing to me,” said Bingley,
posed duty, but those very young women “how young ladies can have patience to
in whom the understanding and imagina- be so very accomplished as they all are."
tion have been equally cultivated, so as to All young ladies accomplished ! My
render the feelings acute and impulsive ? dear Charles what do you mean ?” “Yes,
and these are novel readers. Love, it is all of them I think. They all paint tables,
said, is the only subject all novels are con- cover screens, and net purses. I scarcely

upon, and such reading encourages know any one of them who cannot do all extravagant thoughts, and gives rise to dan- this, and I am sure I never heard a young gerous feelings. And why dangerous ? lady spoken of for the first time without And why should not such thoughts and being informed that she was very accomfeelings be encouraged? Are they not plished.” such as are requisite for wife and mother Mansfield Park, is a most delightful to hold, and best for the destiny of woman novel, and finely displays the discrimina

- best in every view—best, if her lot be a ting taste and judgment of Miss Austen. happy one, and far best if her lot be an In describing fools she is truly Shaksperian, ill one ? For the great mark of such an and in this very production she has hit off education is endurance-a power to create the character of Rushworth inimitably a high duty, and energy and patience, where well. There is likewise a capital portrait both are wanted. Women never sink un- of a Mrs. Norris, who is always dictating der any calamity but blighted affection ; liberality to others, but herself mean, plotand we love them not less, we admire them ting and disingenuous, one of those well not less, that they do sink then, for their meaning people who are always doing misheroism is in the patience that brings and taken and very disagreeable things. The that awaits death."

Miss Bertrams are fine, showy, fashionable Poor Mrs. Bennet with her mean under- girls, accomplished, in the worldly sense of standing, little information, and variable the word, but vain, cold, and unfeeling, temper! when she was discontented she their heads somewhat cultivated, but their fancied herself nervous. The business of hearts a rank wilderness, from whence her life was to get her daughters married; spring no wholesome fruits or lovely flowits solace was visiting and news.

ers. Lady Bertram paid not the smallest take delight (she exclaims) in vexing me. attention to the education of her daughters. You have no compassion on my poor She had not time for such cares. She was

Don't keep coughing so Kitty, a woman who spent her days in sitting for heavens sake! have a little compassion nicely dressed on a sofa, doing some long on my nerves. You tear them to pieces. piece of needle work, of little use, and no “Kitty has no discretion in her coughs,” beauty, thinking more of her pug than her said her father, “she times them ill." "I children, but very indulgent to the latter do not cough for my own amusement,” re- when it did not put herself to inconveniplied Kitty fretfully. Mrs. B., speaking of ence, being one of those persons who think Bingley's sisters, says “ they are charming nothing can be dangerous or difficult, or

I never saw in my life any thing fatiguing to any body but themselves.

6 You



Dear Fanny Price is the most interest | any man's heart. The season, the scenes ing character in this novel, and we love her the air, were all favorable to tenderness from the moment she appears at Mansfield and sentiment. Mrs. Grant and her tamPark, a little girl of ten years old, as un- bour frame were not without their use ; it happy as possible, afraid of every body, was all in harmony; and as every thing ashamed of herself, and longing for the will turn to account when love is once set home she had left; she knew not how to a going, even the sandwich tray, and look up, and could scarcely speak to be Dr. Grant doing the honors of it, were heard, or without crying. Mrs. Norris had worth looking at. been talking to her of her wonderful good business, however, or knowing what he was fortune, and the gratitude and good beha- about, Edmund was beginning, at the end viour it ought to produce, and her consci- of a week of such intercourse, to be a good ousness of misery was therefore increased deal in love; and to the credit of the lady by the idea of its being a wicked thing for it may be added, that without his being a her not to be happy: In vain did Lady man of the world or an elder brother, Bertram smile, and make her sit on the without any of the arts of flattery or the sofa with herself and pug, and vain was gaieties of small talk, he began to be even the sight of a gooseberry tart towards agreeable to her. She felt it to be so, giving her comfort, and sleep seeming to though she had not foreseen, and could be her likeliest friend, she was taken to hardly understand it ; for he was not finish her sorrows in bed. The growth of pleasant by any common rule ; he talked her love for her cousin Edmund Bertram, no nonsense, he paid no compliments, his is exquisitely narrated. On what slender opinions were unbending, his attentions grounds she feeds her gentle passion, a few tranquil and simple. There was a charm kind looks, some pleasant words; a few perhaps in his sincerity, his steadiness, his grateful acts suffice her : the description of integrity, which Miss Crawford might be her scarcely conscious jealousy of Miss equal to feel, though not equal to discuss Crawford are in the finest style of novel with herself. She did not think very writing. Miss Austen could never have much about it, however; he pleased her written this sweet story of love without for the present; she liked to have him having experienced it herself, with all near her; it was enough.” its rapturous enjoyments and torturing The plot of Mansfield Park is simple fears.


but it gave ample opportunity for Miss Crawford, handsome and selfish, the display of Miss Austen's genius and gifted with much tact, and with no princi- purity of heart. A sensible critic observes ples to interfere with the gratification of that our fair authoress depends for her her schemes of vanity and ambition, soon effect upon no suprising adventures, upon secures Edmund in her strong toil of grace. no artfully involved plot, upon no scenes “Miss Crawford's attractions did not les deeply pathetic or extravagantly humorous. sen. The harp arrived, and rather added She paints a society which, though virtuto her beauty, wit, and good humor, for ous, intelligent, and enviable above all she played with the greatest obligingness, others, presents the fewest salient points of with an expression and taste which were interest and singularity to the novelist-we peculiarly becoming, and there was some- mean the society of English country genthing clever to be said at the close of every tlemen. Whoever desires to know the inair. Edmund was at the parsonage every terior life of that vast and admirable body, day to be indulged with his favorite instru- the rural gentry of England—a body ment; one morning secured an invitation for which absolutely exists in no other country the next, for the lady could not be unwilling on earth, and to which the nation owes to have a listener, and every thing was soon many of its most valuable characteristics in a fair train. A young woman, pretty, must read the novels of Miss Austen. In lively, with a harp as elegant as herself, these works the reader will find very little and both placed near a window, cut down variety, and no picturesqueness of persons, to the ground, and opening on a little

a little little to inspire strong emotion, nothing to lawn, surrounded by shrubs in the rich excite wonder or laughter, but he will foliage of summer, was enough to catch find admirable good sense, exquisite dis


crimination, and an unrivalled power of beth did not quite equal her father in pereasy and natural dialogue.

sonal contentment. Thirteen years had Sir Walter Scott, in his Diary, March seen her mistress of Killynch-Hall, pre 1826, remarks as follows: “I have amused siding and directing with a self-possession myself occasionally very pleasantly during and decision which could never have given the last few days, by reading over Lady the idea of her being younger than she Morgan's novel of O'Donnell, which has For thirteen years she had been some striking and beautiful passages of situ- doing the honors, and laying down the doation and description, and in the comic mestic law at home, and leading the way to part is very rich and entertaining. I do the chaise and four, and walking immedinot remember being so much pleased with ately after Lady Russell out of all the drawit at first. There is a want of story al- ing rooms and dining rooms in the country. ways fatal to a book the first reading—and Thirteen winters' revolving frosts had seen it is well if it gets a chance of a second. her opening every ball of credit which a Alas, poor novel! Also read again, and scanty neighborhood afforded; and thirteen for the third time at least Miss Austen's springs shown their blossoms, as she travvery finely written novel of Pride and Pre- elled up to London with her father, for a judice. That young lady had a talent for few weeks of annual enjoyment of the describing the involvements and feelings and great world. She had the remembrance characters of ordinary life, which is to me of all this, she had the consciousness of the most wonderful I ever met with. The being nine and twenty, to give her some Big Bow-Wow strain I can do myself like regrets and apprehensions. She was fully any now going ; but the exquisite touch satisfied of being still quite as handsome as which renders' ordinary common-place ever ; but she felt her approach to the years things and characters interesting from the of danger, and would have rejoiced to be truth of the description, and the sentiment, certain of being properly solicited by bais denied me.

What a pity such a gifted ronet blood within the next twelve months creature died so early !” A pity indeed. or two. Then might she again take up

Persuasion, is considered one of the the book of books with as much enjoyment very best of Miss Austen's six novels. It as in her early youth, but now she liked it is certainly a most artist like performance, not. Always to be presented with the date the plot, story, and its conclusion are alike of her own birth, and see no marriage folperfect. The characters I have not a low but that of a youngest sister, made the doubt were taken from life. They are in- book an evil, and more than once, when stinct with vitality, and make a lasting im- her father had left it open on the table near pression on the reader's mind. This novel her, had she closed it, with averted eyes, opens spiritedly with a description of a and pushed it away." Sir Walter becomes foolish baronet. “Sir Walter Elliot, of embarrassed ; he had given Elizabeth some Killynch-ball, in Somersetshire, was a man hints of it the last spring in town; he had who, for his own amusement, never took gone so far even as to say, can we reup any book but the Baronetage ; there he trench ? does it occur to you that there is any found occupation for an idle hour, and con- one article in which we can retrench ?-and solation in a distressed one; there his fa- Elizabeth in the first ardor of female alarm, culties were aroused into admiration and set seriously to think what could be done, respect, by contemplating the limited and finally proposed these two branches of remnant of the earliest patents ; there any economy: to cut off some unnecessary unwelcome sensations arising from domes- charities, and to refrain from new furnishtic affairs, changed naturally into pity and ing the drawing room ; to which expedients contempt. As he turned over the almost she afterwards added the happy thought of endless creations of the last century and their taking no present down to Anne, as there, if every other leaf were powerless, had been the usual yearly custom. These he could read his own history with an in- petty suggestions of economy did not stay terest which never failed—this was the the torrent. Killynch-Hall is finally rentpage at which the favorite volume always ed to a frank, good hearted Admiral, naopened. Elliot of Killynch-Hall: Walter med Crofts, a most genial personage, with a Elliot, born March 1, 1760, &c. Eliza- considerable sprinkling of oddities. The

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »