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The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 14, No. 384, August 8, 1829 online

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THE MIRROR OF LITERATURE, AMUSEMENT, AND INSTRUCTION.

VOL. XIV, No. 384.] SATURDAY, AUGUST 8, 1829. [PRICE 2d.



* * * * *



Voltaire's Chateau, at Ferney.

[Illustration]


Voltaire is the bronze and plaster poet of France. Cheek by jowl with
Rosseau, (their squabbles are forgotten in the roll of fame), you see
him perched on mantel, bracket, _ecritoire_, and bookcase: in short,
their effigies are as common as the plaster figures of Shakspeare and
Milton are in England. How far the rising generation of France may
profit by their household memorials - or the sardonic and satanic smile
of their great poet - we will not pretend to determine; neither do we
invite any comparison; although Voltaire, with all his trickseyings and
panting after fame, never inculcated so sublime a lesson as is conveyed
in

"The cloud-capp'd towers," &c.

which are inscribed beneath the bust of our immortal bard.

But we turn from Voltaire and his stormy times to the seat of his
retirement - Ferney, about six miles from Geneva; where he lived for
twenty years; but in his eighty-fourth year actually quitted this scene
of delightful repose for the city of Paris - there to enjoy a short
triumph, and die. The latter event took place in 1778. At pages 62 and
69 of vol. xii. of THE MIRROR, we have given a brief description of
Ferney, with many interesting anecdotes, carefully compiled from a
variety of authorities. Here Voltaire lived in princely style, as
Condorcet says, "removed from illusion, and whatever could excite
momentary, or personal passion." According to M. Simond, a recent
tourist, the _château_ is still visited by travellers, and Voltaire's
bed-room is shown in the state he left it. The date of our view is about
the year 1800, since which the residence has been much neglected: and
during the late war, it was frequently the quarters of the Austrian
soldiers. The gardens are laid out in the formal, geometrical style,
and they command a view of the town and lake of Geneva. The apartments
of the ground-floor of the house are in the same state as during
Voltaire's lifetime. In the dining-hall is a picture, representing
demons horsewhipping Fréron:[1] such was Voltaire's mode of perpetuating
his antagonists.

[Footnote 1: Fréron was an eminent journalist of the last century: his
criticisms procured him many powerful enemies, among whom was Voltaire.]

Of the purchase of Ferney, Voltaire thus speaks in his memoirs: -

"I bought, by a very singular kind of contract, of which there was no
example in that country, a small estate of about sixty acres, which they
sold me for about twice as much as it would have cost me at Paris; but
pleasure is never too dear. The house was pretty and commodious, and the
prospect charming; it astonishes without tiring: on one side is the lake
of Geneva, and the city on the other. The Rhone rushes from the former
with vast impetuosity, forming a canal at the bottom of my garden,
whence is seen the Arve descending from the Savoy mountains, and
precipitating itself into the Rhone, and farther still another river.
A hundred country seats, a hundred delightful gardens, ornament the
borders of the lakes and rivers. The Alps at a great distance rise and
terminate the horizon, and among their prodigious precipices, twenty
leagues extent of mountain are beheld covered with eternal snows."

Upon Voltaire's settlement at Ferney, the country was almost a savage
desert. The village contained but fifty inhabitants, but became by the
poet's means the residence of 1,200 persons, among which were a great
number of artists, principally watch makers, who established their
manufacture under his auspices, and exported their labours throughout
the continent. Voltaire also invited to Ferney, and afforded protection
to, the young niece of the celebrated Corneille; here she was educated,
and Voltaire even carried his delicacy so far as not to suffer the
establishment of Madlle. Corneille to appear as his benefaction. The
family of Calas, likewise, came to reside in the neighbourhood, and to
this circumstance may be attributed the zeal which Voltaire evinced in
their ill fate.

* * * * *



DURHAM HOUSE, STRAND:

MARRIAGE OF LADY JANE GREY.

(_For the Mirror._)


Why did ye me dysseyve,
With faynyng fantzye agenst all equitie and right,
The regall powers onjustly to receyve,
To serve your tornes, I do right well perceyve;
For I was your instrument to worke your purpose by;
All was but falshed to bleere withall myn eye.

_Cavendish's Metrical Visions._


The short but eventful period between the death of the last Henry, and
the succession of his bigoted and intolerant daughter Mary, presents a
wide and fertile field for the inquiring mind both of the historian and
philosopher. The interest attached to the memory of the beauteous but
unfortunate Lady Jane Grey, renders the slightest event of her life
acceptable to every lover of English history; while her youth and
intellectual acquirements, her brief reign of nine days, and finally her
expiation for her _innocent_ crime on the scaffold, combine to rouse the
feelings and excite the sympathy of every sensitive heart.

The marriage of lady Jane Grey, which may be regarded as the principal
cause of her sufferings, was brought about by the ambitious Earl of
Northumberland, a nobleman, the most powerful and wealthy at that
period, in the kingdom. By the marriage of Lord Guilford Dudley with the
Lady Jane, he formed the daring project of placing the crown of England
on the head of his son, in order to consolidate that preeminence, which,
during the reign of the youthful Edward, he had so craftily attained to,
and which he foresaw, would, on the accession of Mary, from whom he had
little to expect, either on the side of friendship or protection, be
wrested from him. By the will of Henry VIII., as well also as by an Act
of Parliament, the ladies Mary and Elizabeth had been pronounced as
heirs to the crown; this claim, however, he hoped to overrule, as the
statutes passed by Henry, in the twenty-eighth year of his reign,
declaring their illegitimacy, had never been repealed. By the will of
Henry, the lady Jane had also been placed next in succession after the
Princess Elizabeth, in total exclusion of the Scottish line, the
offspring of his sister Margaret, who had married James IV. of Scotland.

The day on which this important event took place is not exactly known;
but it is generally supposed to have been towards the close of the month
of May, in the year 1553, before the lady Jane had attained her
seventeenth year. The nuptials were solemnized with great magnificence
at Durham House, the then princely residence of the Earl of
Northumberland, who appears to have been particularly earnest in their
conclusion, as they were celebrated but two months previous to the death
of Edward VI., who at that time "lay dangerously sicke,"[2] and being
unable to attend, sent costly presents as marks of his approval. Three
other marriages, also, appear to have taken place at the same time, as
recorded by the chronicler Stow.[3]

[Footnote 2: Stow's _Summarie of the Chronicles of England_, p. 245.]

[Footnote 3: Lord Gilford, the Duke of Northumberland's fourth son,
married Lady Jane, the Duke of Suffolk's daughter, whose mother being
then alive, was daughter to Mary, King Henrie's sister, which was then
married to the French king, and after to Charles, Duke of Suffolke. Also
the Earle of Pembroke's eldest son married Lady Katharine, the said
duke's second daughter. And Martin Keie's gentleman porter married Mary,
the third daughter of the Duke of Suffolke. And the Earle of
Huntington's son, called Lord Hastings, married Katharine, youngest
daughter to the Duke of Northumberland. - Stow's _Chronicle_, p. 1029,
edit. 1600.]

Durham House, which formerly occupied that extensive space of ground on
the southern side of the Strand, now covered by the stately pile of
buildings called the Adelphi, was erected, according to Stow,[4] in the
reign of Edward III., by Thomas de Hatfield, created Bishop of Durham in
1345. Pennant,[5] however, but upon what authority does not appear,
traces its foundation to a period prior to the abovementioned, that
of Edward I., when he says it was erected by Anthony de Beck, patriarch
of Jerusalem and Bishop of Durham, but was afterwards rebuilt by Bishop
Hatfield. In 1534, Tonstal, the then bishop, exchanged Durham House with
Henry VIII. for a mansion in Thames Street, called "Cold Harborough,"
when it was converted by that monarch into a royal palace. During
the same reign, in the year 1540, a grand tournament, commencing on
"Maie daie," and continuing on the five following days, was held at
Westminster; after which, says Stow, "the challengers rode to Durham
Place, where they kept open household, and feasted the king and queene
(Anne of Cleves) with her ladies, and all the court."[6] In the reign
of Edward VI., a mint was established at Durham House by the ambitious
Thomas Seymour, Lord Admiral, under the direction of Sir William
Sharington.

[Footnote 4: Strype's _Stow_, vol. ii. p. 576.]

[Footnote 5: Pennant's _London_, p. 120, 4to. edit.]

[Footnote 6: Stow's _Chronicle_, p. 975.]

This mansion was bestowed on the princess Elizabeth, during the term of
her life, by her brother Edward VI., when it became the residence of the
Earl of Northumberland, and the scene of those important transactions we
have just endeavoured to relate. On the death of Elizabeth, Sir Walter
Raleigh, to whom the mansion had been given by that queen, was obliged
to surrender it to Toby Matthew, the then Bishop of Durham, in
consequence of the reversion having been granted to that see by queen
Mary, whose bigoted and narrow mind regarded the previous exchange as a
sacrilege.

In 1608, the stables of Durham House, which fronted the Strand, and
which, says Strype,[7] "were old, ruinous, and ready to fall, and very
unsightly in so public a passage to the Court of Westminster," were
pulled down and a building called the New Exchange erected on their
site, by the Earl of Salisbury. It was built partly on the plan of the
Royal Exchange; the shops or stalls being principally occupied by
miliners and sempstresses. It was opened with great state by James I.,
and his queen, who named it the "Bursse of Britain."[8]

[Footnote 7: Strype's _Stow_, vol. ii. p. 576.]

[Footnote 8: Howel's _Londinopolis_, p. 349.]

In 1640, the estate of Durham House was purchased of the see, by Philip,
Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery, for the annual sum of 200_l_., when the
mansion was pulled down, and numerous houses erected on its site; and
in 1737, the New Exchange was also demolished to make room for further
improvements.

Towards the close of the last century the whole estate was purchased of
the Earl of Pembroke, by four brothers of the name of Adam, who erected
the present buildings, named by them the _Adelphi_, from the Greek word
[Greek: adelphoi], brothers.

S.I.B.

* * * * *



THE DEATH OF MURAT.

(_For the Mirror._)


"Where the broken line enlarging
Fell or fled along the plain,
There be sure was Murat charging:
There he ne'er shall charge again."

BYRON.


Perhaps the features of romance were never more fully developed than in
the last days and death of Murat, King of Naples. To speak panegyrically
of his prowess, is supererogatory; as his bravery has been the theme of
history and of song. But a pathetic paper in _Blackwood's Magazine_,
affectingly describes his fall from splendour and popularity to servile
degradation and unmerited military death. He has many claims on our
interest and pity; whether we view him as the enthusiastic leader of
Napoleon's chosen, against the wily Russians, in the romantic array of
"a theatrical king," bearing down all impediment; or the plumeless and
proscribed monarch of "shreds and patches," hiding from his enemies
amidst the withered spoils of the forest. The writer of the paper
referred to, in describing his arrival at Ajaccio, says, "I was sitting
at my door, when I beheld a man approach me, _with the gaiters and shoes
of a common soldier_. Looking up, I beheld before me Joachim II. the
splendid King of Naples! I uttered a cry, and fell upon my knees!"

Escap'd from wreck and storm of fickle seas,
Degraded, plunder'd, sought for by his foes,
Brave Murat went, a weary, exil'd king,
Unto the land that gave Napoleon life;
And he who was the head of armies, when
His sabre slew opposing multitudes;
Whose dauntless spirit knew no other words
In fiercest strife, but "Soldiers, follow me!"
Came a poor, drooping, broken, lonely man,
To meet reproach, and harsh vicissitude,
Base persecution, and destroying hope;
To drain the cup of human suffering dry,
From which his fever'd lips had scarce refrain'd;
When in the tangled wood he trembling lay,
Weary and worn, expos'd to sun and storm,
Hunger and cold, and nature's helplessness.
And when Ajaccio's walls rung with the shouts
For Naples' ruler, he of warlike fame,
It wrung his spirit to remember when
That city hail'd him as her only star,
Worthy to reign where Masaniello rul'd.
Dejected chief! the tears forsook his eyes,
When on his vision rush'd the bygone love
Applauding thousands bore him, as he rode
In pride imperial 'midst the bending throng.

The gathering crowds along Ajaccio's streets
Felt Freedom's fervor kindle in their souls;
And Murat's banner fann'd the glorious flame.
"'Tis past," he cried, "and now I proudly come,
O, shameless Naples! in thy arms to die,
Or nobly live."

"Now blood for tears! my sword, my sword!
Be thou unsheath'd in Naples' cause,
I'll meet again the battle horde,
And beard the bravest of my foes!

"Proud Austria! I will drive thee back,
Deem not that Naples' throne is thine;
For soon shall Murat's bivouac
Keep watch upon thy tented line.

"Nor taunt of enemy shall move,
Nor bitterest suffering shall degrade,
My heart - for with my people's love
My daring will be richly paid.

"Hearts like my own! that hem me now,
The ground we tread is sacred earth,
Prove not the soil from which ye sprang
Unworthy of Napoleon's birth.

"On to the struggle! we shall gain
Adherents to our patriot cause;
Shake off the exile's hated name,
And abrogate the despot's laws.

"Insulted, wrong'd, and robb'd of all,
My feelings scarce could brook my fate;
But I will gain my crown or fall
Before degraded Naples' gate!"

Midnight descended on Calabria's coast,
And Murat's little fleet wore sailing there;
No peering moon lit up the lonely sea,
But all was sable as his wayward fate.
A storm dispers'd them, and Sardinia's isle
Receiv'd the bark that held the hapless king,
And morn beheld it on the main again;
But far apart his faithful followers.
Calabria's beach was gain'd; where Murat stood
Amidst the dastard throng that hemm'd him round,
With heart of adamant, and eye of fire.
There is a majesty in kingly hearts
Which changing time nor fickle fate can quell:
He stood - reveal'd from his own lips, "The King
Of fallen Naples." At those stirring words
A hundred swords unsheath'd; for on his head
A princely price was set, and flight he scorn'd;
For grasp'd his hand the well-accustom'd blade;
And _vainly_ fought -

* * * * *

His hour is come! behold the dauntless man
Baring his bosom to the stern platoon:
And parted friends, and pardon'd enemies,
Relinquish'd glory, and forgotten scorn,
Are naught to him - but o'er his war-worn face
A momentary gleam of passion flits -
To think _that he who wore that diadem
The second Caesar placed upon his brows_,
(No cold inheritance of legal right,
But truly bought by bravery and blood.)
Should die with traitor branded on, his fame.
His hand enfolds a small cornelian seal,
A portrait of his queen, - on which his eyes
Are fondly fix'd. The final word is given,
And Murat falls: ah! who would be a king!

* * H.

* * * * *



COAST BLOCKADE MEN.

(_For the Mirror._)


Maturin in his fearful romance of _Melmoth_, has well exemplified the
change of character and frequent subversion of intellect occasioned by
untoward circumstances. The human mind, like a woody fibre, when
submitted to the action of a petrifying stream, gradually assimilates
the qualities of its associates. This truth is strikingly verified in
the persons of the men on our blockade stations, for the prevention of
smuggling. They are a numerous race, and inhabit little fortalices on
the coasts of our sea-girt isle, which to an imaginative mind would give
it the appearance of a beleagured citadel. The powerful, but still
ineffective means resorted to by government for the suppression of
illicit traffic, sadly demonstrates the degeneracy of our nature, and
may be seen in full operation on the coast between Margate, Dover, and
Hastings. For this purpose, the stranger on his arrival at Margate, must
take the path leading to the cliff's, eastward of the town, and after
walking a little way with the sea on his left hand, he will pass,
at intervals, certain neat, though gloomy looking cottages, chiefly
remarkable for an odd, military aspect, strongly reminding one of a red
jacket turned up with white. These, perched like the eagle's eyry on the
very edge and summit of those crested heights that "breast the billows
foam," are the _preventive stations_, inhabited by the _dumb_ and
isolated members of the blockade. These men will now be seen for the
rest of the journey, mounted on the jutting crags, straining their weary
eyes over the monotonous expanse of waters which for ever splash beneath
them - a sullen accompaniment to their gloomy avocations.

On a first sight of these men, you are ready to exclaim with Mercutio,
"Oh, flesh! how art thou fishified;" and begin to think that Shakspeare
might have had a living original for his horrid Caliban: for they are
mostly selected from amongst fishermen, on account of their excellent
knowledge of the coast, and most perfectly retain their amphibious
characteristics. The good humoured Dutch looking face is, however,
wanting; they have a savage angularity of feature, the effect of their
antisocial trade; one feels a sort of creeping horror on approaching a
fellow creature, armed at all points, in a lone and solemn place, the
haunts of desperate men, and on whose tongue an embargo is laid to speak
to no one, pacing the surly rocks, his hands on his arms, ready to deal
forth death on the first legal opportunity. Beings such as these an
amiable and delicate mind shudders to contemplate, and always finds it
difficult to conceive; yet, such are the preventive men who line our
coast - melancholy examples of the truth stated at the outset of this
paper. Occasionally, however, the good traveller will, much to his joy,
meet with an exception to this sad rule, in the person of an old
tar, whom necessity has pressed into the service, and who from long
acquaintance with the pleasures of traversing the mighty ocean, feels
little pleasure in staring at it like an inactive land-lubber, a
character which he holds in hearty contempt; besides, to fire at a
fellow Briton is against his nature; thief or no thief it crosses his
grain, and he looks at his pistols and hates himself. His situation is
miserable; he is truly a fish out of water; he loves motion, but is
obliged to stand still; his glory is a social "bit of jaw," but he dares
not speak; he rolls his disconsolate quid over his silent tongue, and is
as wretched as a caged monkey. Poor fellow! how happy would a companion
make you, to whom you could relate your battles, bouts, and courtships;
but mum is the order, and Jack is used to an implicit obeyance of
head-quarter orders. The sight of an outward bound vessel drives him
mad.

On the appearance of a suspicious sail, the blockader, all vigilance,
(Jack excepted) awaits in silence the _running_ of the devoted cargo,
when suddenly discharging one of his pistols, the air in a moment rocks
with a hundred reports, answered successively by his companions. This
arouses those in the cottages off duty; the cliffs instantly teem with
life; all hurry to the beach, by slanting passages cut in the rocks for
that purpose, and a scene of blood and death ensues too horrible for
description. Thus are sent prematurely to their graves, many poor
fellows, who, had brandy been a trifle cheaper, might have lived bright
ornaments of a world they never knew.

After leaving Dover, the scene changes very materially in its appearance;
the regimental cottages have vanished, and in their places are found
strong brick towers, placed at short distances from each other,
containing each a little garrison, over which a lieutenant presides;
from the abundance of these towers, and their proximity to each other,
the men are numerously scattered over the bleak sands, and living more
together, are a social set of creatures, compared with those westward
of Dover. The towers very much resemble the Peel Houses which, "lang
syne," bristled on the Scottish border, and like them, are built to
watch and annoy an enemy from; they are about twenty feet in height,
of a circular form, and have a concealed gallery at top with loopholes,
for observation. The preventive men have a costume peculiar to them:
white trousers, bluejacket, and white hat; a pair of pistols, a cutlass,
and a sort of carbine. A well painted picture of them, when surrounding
their little castles, a fresh breeze stirring the sea into a rage, and
a horizontal sun gilding their rugged features, would fairly rival
Salvator Rosa's brigands in the Abruzzi Mountains.

S.S.

* * * * *



ONCE ANCIENT. - A FACT.

(_For the Mirror_.)


A Norwich mayor, who an uncommon thing
(Because 'twas generous) had done, was sent
With a petition to his gracious King,[9]
And reach'd St. James's wondrously content.
His Majesty found him quite eloquent,
Fond of a dinner, fonder of a joke
But, needing matter
For converse with his stranger worship, spoke
Of Norfolk hospitality, and geese;
Of turkeys, game, and fowls, that take a lease
Yearly to smoke on many a cockney platter,
Forgetting not, to please the honest _gent:_
Mention of gravy, sausage, dumpling, batter;
Till, the good man, quite in his element
'Gan prating glibly of the Norwich folk
And what fine things were doing in their city,
"An ancient place it is, sir!" said the prince,
"As its old churches, castle, gates, evince!"
"Gates!" please your highness, "there my heart is broke,
They 'as, and more's the pity,
Just pull'd the old gates down! (I may
Get i' the wrong box too, for blabbin')
Narwich an arncient city, did you say?
An' please your Majesty, not now; 't ha' been!"

[Footnote 9: George III. - This incident actually occurred.]

M. L. B.

* * * * *


PORTRAIT OF FAIR ROSAMOND.


A picture of this unfortunate woman, the mistress of Henry II., and the
victim of his queen's jealousy, supposed to have been painted in the
time of Henry VII., was, at the commencement of the last century in the
possession of Samuel Gale, Esq., the antiquary. It consisted of a
three-quarter length, painted on panel, and attired in the costume of
the period; a dress of red velvet, with a straight low body, and large
square sleeves, faced with black flowered damask, turned up above the
elbow, from which descended a close sleeve of pearl-coloured satin,
puffed out, and buttoned at the wrist; her bosom being covered with a
fine flowered linen, gathered close at the neck like a ruff. Her hair,
which was of a dark brown colour, was parted from the middle of the
forehead; on her head was a plain coifure, surmounted by a gold lace,
covered with a small, black, silk cap. In her right hand, which was
richly decorated with rings, she held the fatal cup, with the cover in
the left. Before her, on a table covered with black, damask, lay an open
prayer-book. Her complexion was fair, with a beautiful blush upon her
cheeks.

S.I.B.

* * * * *





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Online LibraryVariousThe Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 14, No. 384, August 8, 1829 → online text (page 1 of 4)