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to this cause is to be attributed the want of completion of two long poems in this work, the publisher will not presume to decide.
The eyils which are thus alluded-to have reached their crisis. The publisher has lately had to choose between surrendering that responsibility which his duties to society have compelled him to retain, and which has in many cases prevented this work offending those whose esteem is most to be desired, or losing much of the assistance which has given to the Quarterly Magazine a peculiar and original character. He could not hesitate in his choice. He would not commit his own opinions to an inexperienced and incautious dictation; and he prefers the discontinuance of the work to conducting it with diminished talent. He has therefore to announce that the present Number of the Quarterly Magazine will be the last.
To those individuals, as distinguished for their consistency, and kindness as for their ability, who would have continued their exertions to this Miscellany, the Publisher has to return his most grateful thanks. It will ever be a satisfaction to him that of some of these, the first public services to the cause of Literature have been made in his humble field; and of others that they have brought to him the full vigour of those talents which had previously received the most conclusive encouragement.
The Quarterly Magazine will be bound in three volumes, price 368.
Pall-Mall East, November 30, 1824.
THE FLIGHT OF THE SWALLOWS. .
At this time of the year, when the periodical emigration of the inhabitants of the British islands takes place, we think of hazarding a few desultory hints to those of our countrymen, who are on the eve of crossing the channel ; to proceed, some in search of health, pleasure, or information, on the banks of the Seine, or of the Po, or on the shores of the “ dark blue sea.” We have styled this article the “ Flight of the Swallows,” from the French proverbial appellation of le passage des Hirondelles, which our facetious neighbours have adopted, when speaking of the annual influx of the children of the Bull family on the shores of laughterloving France.
We have been travellers ourselves, and we offer to our brother pilgrims the result of some of our own observations on travelling, its advantages and disadvantages, and the different ways of deriving profit or amusement from our peregrinations.
Cloyness, and a feeling of disappointment, the destruction of the finer attributes of the mind, are often the results of much travelling. Few of the moral causes of excitement and enthusiasm will bear a close examination. The spirit of analysis like the glass of Ruggiero in Ariosto, produces a complete disenchant
The experience of this might prove useful if we could always replace harmless illusions by something better. But this is not the case. How many mistaken notions there are about the words honour and glory, and yet these notions are often conducive to the security and general welfare of the community. What are most national songs when analyzed ? Will the sense, and construction of the words stand the test of logic? And yet in the hour of danger, when the country is threatened by an invading foe, where is the heart that does not throb with increased quickness at the sound of the martial strain? How many brave men have become soldiers, at the notes of the Marseillois hymn, of A la guerra, a la guerra Españoles, and of Rule Britannia !
Vol. III. PART I.
The same remark is applicable to travelling. If we travel with a splenetic spirit, we shall find out that the noblest remains of antiquity are but useless cumbersome piles, heaps of shapeless stones and rubbish: the Pantheon, to use the words quoted by Sterne, but a huge cockpit; the Forum nothing but a beast market; and the dwellings of Pompeii little better than stables or pig-styes. Then adieu to our classical recollections, and to all the soul-lifting impressions we derived in early youth, and which often serve man in lieu of principle, to keep him from debasement. I have seen many instances of the withering result of too close
an investigation of those subjects which are connected more with the heart and fancy, than with the logical powers of the mind. I met once at Lyons a gentlemen of education, who had just visited Italy; he said he was heartily tired of it, sick, disappointed, and concluded with observing, that Paris was, after all, the place for a gentleman to live in, and there he was hastening again. I also was coming from Italy at this time, leaving the Alps behind me with the most poignant feelings of regret!
It has been my lot to visit several of the principal countries of Europé. I remained a year or two in the Spanish Peninsula, and there I saw a people bent under a load of national prejudices of every sort, yet susceptible of fine feelings, which were miserably distorted, by mistaken notions and contracted ideas. I felt tio regret in leaving the Iberian shores, and came to England: I found a country of calculation and system, of squares and rules, artificial, but harmonious; imposing, though not cheering--a country, in which I was daily hurt at many things I saw, and yet, where the sum total of my impressions, after a residence of some months, was satisfactory. After the peace I visited France, with feelings of curiosity, sharpened by all I had heard and read of the great nation. I found the great nation neither so great, nor so affected, as it had been represented to me; I met a large mixture of characters, the natural result of their forced intercourse, during twenty years, with all the nations of Europe. Thence I went to Switzerland, the country of morality and republican virtue ; I found great pretensions to both, and great intolerance towards those who did not acknowledge those claims in toto. The best thing I saw in Switzerland was real family affection, carried to a higher degree than in any other country I know. But à winter passed on the banks of the Leman set me totally asleep; my ideas were frozen, and yet the people around me did not complain of the same soporific influence. The only person who shared my feelings was a Frenchman, who, however, with that astonishing pliancy which is the happy gift of his countrymen, drew from the monotony of the scene fresh food for pleasantry; now and then observing, with a shrug of the
shoulders, that it was a pity those Alps, which were in view, never altered their position. I think he would have liked to see them dance a minuet. Another fellow sufferer' was an English lady, married in the country, who observed one day at table, that she had never thought so much of death, as since she had come to Switzerland.
From Switzerland, I proceeded in the spring to fair Italy; but what shall I say of that unfortunate country. I found the people still as I had left them ten years before, as I had found them ten years previous to that, as my father and grandfather had known them before me—as all their poets, historians, and politicians, have described them for the last five centuries, from the times of old Dante, to those of Alfieri; divided in habits, language, and opinions, divided, in short, in every thing: disputing about words and trifles; disliking each other more than they do strangers, and yet every one of them partial to his respective distriot and municipality, but without any enlarged feeling of attachiment to Italy, except-on paper. With such materials, what hope is there? Things must take their course; trials will follow trials, and the result will be adjourned sine die. Still the work of change will proceed, though slowly; first in the minds, then in the hearts of the people ; and, in the course of a few generations, some useful fruits may be produced. But we shall not see them.
With this persuasion I bade farewell to all dreams of glorious futurity, and I became more individualized. I thought, thắt although nations cannot be altered and improved agreeably to our wishes, yet men may; and this gave a new turn to my ideas.
Every nation has its own åtmosphere, which extends more or less over its immediate neighbours. This atmosphere is formed of the habits, language, feelings, and humour of the people ; and it spreads in general from the more civilized and more influential country to the inferior one. Thus a native of Savoy, or Nice, although under an Italian Government, is more than half French, a Piedmontese, somewhat less ; a Vaudois is more French than German ; a Livonian is more German than Russian. This instinctive influence, however, is distinct from that of the mind, which is felt at a distance, across mountains and seas, but only by a small class of people. England, besides her great moral influence over the thinking world, has also this atmosphere of habits and feelings, which, however, extends chiefly along the coasts of the ocean, and over distant colonies. The countries nearest to her, on the continent of Europe, feel least of it. Cross the channel, and you are more coinpletely out of the English atmosphere, than you would be in North America or in India.
Therefore, the traveller, in passing over from England to the continent, begins to see things under a different aspect; his mental
horizon becomes enlarged; he perceives the being of many little worlds, in this, our world, all co-existing and thriving at the same time, though by very
different means. We travellers labour under very great disadvantages. We are strangers to every man, and every man is a stranger to us. The natives of the countries through which we wander look upon us with little or no sympathy, and often with suspicion or envy. What can we have in common with them? We may, for a time, make them beguile a tedious hour in talking to them of outlandish customs or wonders; we may amuse them, and pique their curiosity; but as soon as we are out of sight, the real interests by which they are surrounded resume their influence over them, and we are forgotten. We come in contact with them merely at a point of their sphere, and are immediately off again at a tangent; we can never enter the circle of their habitual pursuits and feelings. They look upon us as privileged idlers, feeding upon the fat of their land, without doing any thing for it. The Portuguese, in 1810, said the English had come to their country to eat their beef, because they were starving, at home. The Neapolitans think that foreigners go to Naples chiefly to feast upon their maccaroni, and their oysters del Fusaro. One of them very good-naturedly expressed his commiseration towards me, because I was going to leave his fine country. Many Frenchmen think that foreigners taste real enjoyment only when they are within the barriers of Paris. The Swiss, proud of his mountains and lakes, makes you admire them every day, and by repeatedly forcing your attention, destroys the charm at last. I have looked almost every hour of the day for months together at the beautiful prospect of the lake of Geneva, and the mountains of Savoy, until, at length, they had no more effect upon me than the sight of an old brick wall in the city of London has
In the same manner I have felt tired of Posilipo, have been extremely prosaic at the tomb of Virgil, and have often wished Vesuvius a thousand miles off.
With regard to the sentiments of travellers towards each other, I shall ask those who are endowed with strong national feelings, whether they have any exquisite gratification in meeting their countrymen in their travels ? Are they not often disappointed, or ashamed, or vexed at their blunders, vulgarity, or shabbiness? An Englishman of my acquaintance, residing at Naples, had resolved to avoid all the principal restaurateurs, for fear, he said, of meeting some of his pompous brethren. And really the absurdities that we heard from some of them were a sufficient ground for my friend's dislike. Travellers, when they meet their own countrymen, seem to shun and turn their noses up at them : “We don't travel to see our own countrymen." Travellers of