Page images
PDF
EPUB

...

...

on a sudden... silent; you were silent for seven years; you were silent on the greatest questions, . . . and you were silent. . . for . . . money! You supported the unparalleled profusion and jobbing of Lord Harcourt's scandalous ministry. You, sir, who manufacture . . . stage thunder against Mr. Eden for his anti-American principles, you, sir, whom it pleases to chant a hymn to the immortal Hampden ; — you, sir, approved of the tyranny exercised against America, and you, sir, voted four thousand Irish troops to cut the throats of the Americans... fighting for their freedom, . . . fighting for your freedom,... fighting for the great principle... liberty! But you found, at last, that the court had bought, . but would not trust you. Mortified at the discovery, you try the sorry game of a trimmer in your progress to the acts of an incendiary; and observing, with regard to prince and people, . the most impartial. . . treachery and desertion, . . . you justify the suspicion of your sovereign... by betraying the government ... as you had sold the people. Such has been your conduct, ... and at such conduct.. every order of your fellow-subjects . . . have a right to exclaim! The merchant... may say to you, the constitutionalist . . . may say to you,... the American may say to you, - and I... I... now say, and say to your beard, . . . Sir, — you are not an honest man!

..

...

...

...

...

10. THE DEFERENTIAL MAN.

He would not (with a peremptory tone)
Assert the nose upon his face...
his own;
With hesitation . . . admirably slow...
He humbly... hopes presumes it

...

[ocr errors]

Cowper.

..

[blocks in formation]

§ 67. The Narrative Style. (See § 48.)

DEATH OF SIR WALTER SCOTT. Lockhart.

He expressed a wish that I should read to him; and when I asked from what book, he said, "Need you ask? There is but one." I chose the fourteenth chapter of St. John's Gospel; he listened with a mild devotion, and said, when I had done,

"Well, this is a great comfort; I have followed you distinctly, and I felt as if I were yet to be myself again." In this placid frame of mind he was again put to bed, and had many hours of soft slumber. . . . .

As I was dressing on the morning of Monday, the 17th of September (1832), Nicholson came into my room, and told me that his master had wakened in a state of composure and con sciousness, and wished to see me immediately. I found him entirely himself, though in the last extreme of feebleness. His eye was clear and calm, every trace of the wild fire of delirium extinguished.

"Lockhart," he said, "I may have but a minute to speak with you. My dear, be a good man; be virtuous; be religious; be a good man. Nothing else will give you any comfort when you come to lie here." He paused, and I said, “Shall I send for Sophia and Anne?” No," said he, "don't disturb them. Poor souls! I know they were up all night. God bless you all!"

66

With this he sank in a very tranquil sleep; and, indeed, he scarcely afterwards gave any sign of consciousness, except for an instant on the arrival of his sons. About half past one in the afternoon, on the 21st of September, Sir Walter breathed his last, in the presence of all his children.

It was a beautiful day; so warm that every window was wide open, and so perfectly still that the sound of all others most delicious to his ear, the gentle ripple of the Tweed over its pebbles, was distinctly audible as we knelt around the bed and his eldest son kissed and closed his eyes.

§ 68. The Colloquial Style. (See § 52.)

1. THE BUSY BEE.

In his "Bleak House" Dickens makes Mr. Skimpole say: "He had no objection to honey, but he protested against the overwhelming assumption of Bees. He didn't see at all why the busy bee should be proposed as a model; he supposed the Bee liked to make honey, or he would not do it, nobody asked him. It was not necessary for the Bee to make such a

4

[ocr errors]

merit of his taste. If every confectioner went buzzing about the world, banging against everything that came in his way, and egotistically calling upon everybody to take notice that he was going to his work and must not be interrupted, the world would be quite an insupportable place. He must say he thought a Drone the embodiment of a pleasanter and wiser idea. The Drone said, unexpectedly, 'You will excuse me; I really cannot attend the shop; I find myself in a world in which there is so much to see, and so short a time to see it in, that I must take the liberty of looking about me, and begging to be provided for by somebody who doesn't want to look about him.' This appeared to Mr. Skimpole the Drone philosophy, and he thought it a very good philosophy, — always supposing the Drone to be on good terms with the Bee, which, so far as he knew, the easy fellow always was, if the consequential creature would only let him, and not be so conceited about his honey!"

2. THE DUKE ARANZA TO JULIANA. - John Tobin.

―――

I'll have no glittering . . . gewgaws stuck about you,
To stretch the gaping eyes of idiot wonder,

And make men stare upon a piece of earth
As on the star-wrought firmament; no feathers
To wave as streamers to your vanity;
Nor cumbrous silk, that, with its rustling sound,
Makes proud the flesh that bears it. She's adorned
Amply that in her husband's eye looks lovely, -
The truest mirror that an honest wife
Can see her beauty in!

Thus modestly attired,-
A half-blown rose stuck in thy braided hair,
With no more diamonds than those eyes are made of,
No deeper rubies than compose thy lips,
Nor pearls more precious than inhabit them
With the pure red and white which that same Hand
Which blends the rainbow mingles in thy cheeks;
This well-proportioned form (think not I flatter)
In graceful motions to harmonious sounds,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

3. A PLEA FOR DUNCES.

Thackeray.

Let us, people who are so uncommonly clever and learned, have a great tenderness and pity for the poor folks who are not endowed with the prodigious talents which we have. I have always had a regard for dunces; those of my own school-days were amongst the pleasantest of the fellows, and have turned out by no means the dullest in life; whereas many a youth who could turn off Latin hexameters by the yard, and construe Greek quite glibly, is no better than a feeble prig now, with not a pennyworth more brains than were in his head before his beard grew.

And thy free tresses dancing in the wind, -
Thou 'lt fix as much observance as chaste dames
Can meet without a blush.

[ocr errors]

Master Hulker, at Dr. Birch's, is the most honest, kind, active, plucky creature. He can do many things better than most boys. He can go up a tree, jump, play at cricket, drive and swim perfectly, he can eat twice as much as almost anybody (as Miss Birch well knows), he has a pretty talent of carving figures with his hack-knife, he makes and paints little coaches, he can take a watch to pieces, and put it together again. He can do everything but learn his lesson; and there he sticks at the bottom of the school, hopeless. As the little boys are drafted from Miss Raby's class (it is true she is one of the best instructresses in the world) they enter and hop over poor Hulker. He would be handed over to the governess, only he is too big.

If you could see his grammar, it is a perfect curiosity of dog's-ears. The leaves and cover are all curled and ragged. Many of the pages are worn away, with the rubbing of his elbows, as he sits poring over the hopeless volume, with the blows of his fists as he thumps it madly, or with the poor fellow's tears. You see him wiping them away with the back of his hand, as he tries, and can't do it. - The doctor has operated upon Hulker (between ourselves), but the boy was so little affected you would have thought he had taken chloroform. Birch is weary of whipping now, and leaves the boy to go his own gait..

[ocr errors]

Prince, when he hears the lesson, adopts the sarcastic manner with Master Hulker, and says, "Mr. Hulker, may I take the liberty to inquire if your brilliant intellect has enabled you to perceive the difference between those words which grammarians have defined as substantive and adjective nouns? if not, perhaps Mr. Ferdinand Timmins will instruct you." And Timmins easily hops over Hulker's head. I wish Prince would leave off girding at the poor lad. He's an only son, and his mother is widow woman, who loves him with all her

might.

4. HAMLET'S INSTRUCTION TO THE PLAYERS.

Shakespeare.

These exhortations of Hamlet to the players afford an exercise in which there may be a happy combination of the colloquial with the didactic style of delivery. By the groundlings is meant those of the audience who sat in the pit of a playhouse. Termagant is the name given in old romances to the tempestuous god of the Saracens. Pressure is impression, resemblance. Allowance is estimation.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue; but, if you mouth it, as many of our players do, I had as lief the town-crier spoke my lines. And do not saw the air too much with your hand, thus: but use all gently; for, in the very torrent, tempest, and, as I may say, WHIRLWIND of your passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness. Oh! it offends me to the soul, to hear a robustious, periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of the GROUNDLINGS; who, for the most part, are capable of nothing but inexplicable dumb show and noise. I would have such a fellow whipped for o'erdoing Termagant; it out-Herods Herod. Pray you avoid it.

Be not too tame, neither, but let your own discretion be your tutor: suit the action to the word, the word to action; with this special observance, that you o'erstep not the modesty of nature; for anything so overdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is, to hold, as 't were, the mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature; scorn, her own image; and the very age and body of the time, his form and pressure. Now, this overdone,

« PreviousContinue »