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“the still sad musick of humanity.” The matted room of Atterbury, the deprecating voice of Selden, and the proud sensitiveness of Milton, were only so many unconscious, and therefore most interesting, indications of character.
Sometimes we find a man receiving a bias from some particular circumstance, which all the subsequent motion of his mind acknowledged. We have an instance in the history of the celebrated Franklin; it occurs in a letter to Dr. Mather, of Boston. He tells him that the last time he saw his father was in the beginning of 1724, when, after some conversation, he shewed him a shorter way out of the library through a narrow passage, having a beam projecting from the roof. They continued talking, until Mather suddenly called out to his visitor “Stoopstoop!” Before he could obey the warning, his head struck sharply against the beam. “ You are young,” said Mather, noticing the accident, “and have the world before you ; stoop as you go through it, and you will miss many hard thumps.” Franklin did not forget the caution, especially when he saw the pride of people mortified by carrying their heads too high. He did not, however, limit it to this prudent humility. It might be taken as a motto for his biography. He went through his moral life stooping. All his thoughts, desires, and actions are of one stature. His writings display the same stunted growth and undignified posture; so that one, not indisposed to value or applaud his talents, has observed, that by him every subject is reduced to one level, and
' a great subject sometimes seems to become less while it is elucidated, and less commanding while it is enforced.” And thus it has happened, that an incidental caution, suggested by the beam in a roof, may have influenced the thoughts and conduct of a most remarkable person, and from being indicative of one character, became an exponent of a greater.
The eye, the gesture, the voice-each is an indication of character. Conversation especially is copious in its intelligence. It is the shadow upon the dial, proclaiming the time. These indications, however, are often transitory; they must be marked at once, if marked at all. They are suppressed by prudence, by deference, by good sense, sometimes by conscience; nay, frequently by the presence of the by-stander. If you stoop over a dial, you break the shadow, and the clock is silent. At the best, they never endure long; the light shines but for a moment, and is gone. Like a transparency suddenly illuminated, which shews the picture designed upon the canvas brilliantly for a minute, but suffers every feature to relapse into gloom when the candle is withdrawn. Hence it is, that we have so many happy glimpses of Johnson; so many indications of his true mind and disposition, his virtues and his follies, his wisdom and his weakness. Boswell was always at hand to catch and transfer the feature, as the sudden illumination of anger, pleasure, imagination, or joy kindled it into a distinct vividness and life. He seized the expression and colour of the moral transparency before the light vanished.
Sometimes, indeed, the manifestation of a particular quality is so constant and uniform, that no unusual quickness of observation is required to seize it; the moral transparency is always lighted. Thus you might say it was with the benevolent Howard, the learned Andrewes, the facetious More. Perhaps no portrait, preserved in the frame of history, ever draws more loving or patient eyes than that of Henry's Chancellor. His intellectual physiognomy is marked by a sunshiny changefulness of expression ; the gravity of the most thoughtful learning is cheered by the mild lustre of the most sportive gaiety; the scholar strengthens the Christian, and the Christian embellishes the scholar. His pleasantry accompanied him to the scaffold. When he turned his face away from human things, he left a parting smile upon. the world. In answer to some censures which have been passed upon this conduct of More, as incongruous with the solemnity of the occasion, it might be expedient to remember a remark by the late John Foster. In More the union of humour with seriousness was perfectly in accordance with the constitution of his mind; “It was an unquestionable matter of fact, that he could emit pleasantries, and be seriously weighing in his mind an important point of equity or law, and could pass directly from the play of wit to the acts and the genuine spirit of devotion.” They were only the sparkle and the edge of the same sword ; only the red and white upon the same cheek. In the strictest sense of the term, the mirthfulness of More was an indication of character.
In the works of some authors, as of Taylor, Milton, and Shakspeare, the revelations of the inner man are so abundant and perfect, that we seem to be reading an autobiography of their own genius; and the curious circumstance to be observed is, how their prevailing tone of sentiment runs through, so to speak, the rich and varied harmonies of their fancy ; they transfuse their own blood of thought into the veins of their heroes. In this manner Keble, in his recently-published Latin lectures, has succeeded in constructing a sort of memoir of Homer out of the qualities which he ascribes to the actors in his magnificent drama of poetry. Whoever desires to read the truest and pleasantest page of Spenser's history, must assuredly turn to it in some canto of the Faery Queen. Now, it should be noticed that painters coincide with authors in thus shaping their subject according to the mould already existing in their own minds. This resemblance might be proved by a reference to the different aspects under which the most celebrated artists have represented the awful history of the Crucifixion. Upon this interesting subject, Burnet's notes on Reynolds may be consulted. Michael Angelo, whose power of pencil lay chiefly in the expression and grace of his contour, selects the view of the subject that appeared to be most calculated to favour the exhibition of his peculiar talent. Raffaelle chooses the point of time when the people are taking down the body. Tintoret concentrates much of the force into the suffering mother at the foot of
Rubens is, as usual, profuse in the display of his treasures Asiat.Journ.N.S. VOL.IV.No.20.
of fancy. In one design, we see the elevation of the Cross ; in another, the executioners are breaking the limbs of the thieves. Here the grouping may be more effective; there the colouring more brilliant; but always picturesque expression, without regard to strict truth, is the one object sought. In Rembrandt, as was to be expected, light and shade are the conspicuous instruments employed by the pencil ; remembering the divine assurance, that darkness overspread the land, he represents the taking down from the Cross by moonlight. Thus, in the painter, as in the poet, we recognize the presence of an internal agency, communicating to outward things its own form and complexion. And so in piotures, as in conversation and books, we look, nor often look in vain, for indications of character.
There is also much room for interesting discussion in the extension of personal to national indications of feeling and disposition. Gillies remarks, that the orations of Demosthenes before an Athenian mob are more elaborate and subtle than the speeches of Cicero before a Roman Senate. The reason is obvious. The Greek orator addressed a populace who had been educated in some of the deepest mysteries of the heart by the dramatic spectacles of their illustrious poets. Æschylus and Sophocles had trained them up for Demosthenes. Their attention to the debater shewed their love of the poet ; and their rapturous emotion at the Bema, the liveliest indication of their interest in the theatre.
مشو تنگ دل نا صبوري مكن بهر بد که پیش آردت روزگار كه نا پایدارست غم همچنان که شادیست همواره نا پایدار
MAJOR AND MRS. GRIFFITH'S " JOURNEY ACROSS THE
It is seldom that we meet with a book the authorship of which is divided, as in the present instance, between husband and wife. This kind of partnership, however, is so very natural an affair, that we suppose its rarity is owing to the pride of the lordly sex, which heretofore was apt to think literary talents of the masculine gender. We have unlearned this as well as other vulgar errors, and perhaps the work of Major and Mrs. Griffith may be the forerunner of other family productions of a like nature, by which the public (if they be no worse than this) will be no loser.
The division of labour is thus apportioned : Mrs. Griffith is the writer of the narrative-a lively, rapid, amusing series of " sketches," as they are appropriately termed; and Major Griffith has supplied the graphic illustrations
extemely accurate and tasteful-as well as the matter of occasional descriptions.
As the work is made up of sketches, with a running commentary upon the remarkable objects seen in a steam-trip from Ceylon to Suez, thence through Egypt, to Italy and France, we cannot give the reader a better idea of it than by taking passages almost at random; and we shall confine our selections to the first volume.
The European public has not been so familiarized with the aspect of that extraordinary place, Aden, as to deprive Mrs. Griffith's sketches of it of novelty.
We hove to at the entrance of the harbour of Aden. I know not how to describe the scene that presented itself to our view. It is completely different from any thing I ever saw or imagined : huge rocks rising in every direction, and of the most grotesque shapes. But the most striking thing of all is, that there is not the smallest particle of vegetation to relieve the eye from these huge cinders, for they are literally nothing else, which reflect the sun threefold. The whole place is supposed to be of volcanic formation, and it certainly gives the idea of the mouth of a crater. Notwithstanding the disadvantages of the glare and heat, it is remarkably picturesque, and affords a wide field for the pencil; the rocks are of the most varied colours, and of the most grotesque shapes.
From the spot where we are at anchor, the view is splendid. Immediately in front are two magnificent cliffs, and a narrow valley between them affords a sight of the two highest mountains in the Peninsula, which, early in the morning, are of a cobalt colour. On the top of one are two ruined towers, scarcely distinguishable with the naked eye. In
A Journey across the Desert, from Ceylon to Marseilles : comprising Sketches of Aden, the Red Sea, Lower Egypt, Malta, Sicily, and Italy, By Major and Mrs. George Darby Grif. FITH, Two vols London, 1845. Colburn.
the foreground of one of the two cliffs is a rock having the exact appearance of a gigantic coal. In front is a sandy beach covered with loose pieces of rock. To the right is a point of high land jutting out into the bay; upon it are numerous bungalows belonging to the principal inhabitants of Aden, and are so many country seats; in fact, it is the sanatarium of the place. The town of Aden is in a valley on the other side of the mountains.
Mrs. Griffith's visit to the town is thus described :
The passage through the arch (the pass through the mountains, cut in the solid rock) looked so high and narrow, one might almost compare it to the eye in a darning needle. When we issued from the Pass, the whole valley of Aden lay like a map before us, hemmed in on three sides by precipitous mountains rising up straight and barren, like a mighty wall, almost to the sky; while, on the fourth, and immediately opposite to us, was the sea ; but even here the view was bounded by the island rock of Sera, completing the fortification of this Eastern Gibraltar. But the town! where was the town? How shall I describe it—this ancient and jewelled key to all the treasures of Arabia Felix? The only way I can give any idea of it is, to say what struck me at first sight. I saw clustered together throughout the valley a number of large baskets, like those met with at fairs in England and France to display crockery ware and other fragile articles. Here and there were a few tents, and in the centre towered a lofty minaret, while farther in the background rose the domes of two mosques.
“ But where are the houses ?" I exclaimed. “ There they are, and that very large hamper in the centre is Government-house," was the answer I received.
The houses are mostly two stories high, and very spacious. No traces of its former splendour now remain; not even the shaft of a pillar or a broken arch rears its head to testify the change that time has effected, and were it not for the solitary minaret crumbling with age, and the two mosques, one would be tempted to believe the present occupiers were the first; that none but basket buildings had ever reared their heads in this desert valley.
The bazaar was a very amusing assemblage of objects both animate and inanimate. Jews, with their sharp black eyes and long beards, were hurrying to and fro, and contrasted strangely with the stately Parsees, who share with the Jews in the labours of building and shopkeeping, as the Arabs are either very idle, or do not wish to make our residence
them easy by assisting us in any way. The aspect of these children of the desert was very furious, and their jet-black countenances scowled under the constraint imposed upon them by our military. All classes are very jealous of their women; but I caught a sight of the most lovely young Jewish girls, who peeped out upon me as I passed from a wicker birdcage-I can call it nothing else-which was perched at the top of one of the hamper houses.
Mrs. Griffith describes the passage of the Desert as any thing but