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cules, or liker to those Vulcanian Three,
that in sounding caverns under jMongibello
wrought in fire, — Brontes, and black Ster-
opes, and Pyracmon. So work the workmen
that should repair a world !

Artists again err in the confounding of
poeticyvitli pictorial suhjects. In the latter,
the exterior accidents are nearly everything
— the unseen cjualities as nothing. Othello's
color, — the infirmities and corpulence of a Sir
John Falstaff, — -do they haunt us perpetually
in the reading? or are they obtruded upon
our conceptions one time for ninety-nine
that we are lost in admiration at the respect-
ive moral or intellectual attributes of the
character? But in a picture Othello is
alwai/s a Blackamoor : and the other only
Plump Jack. Deeply corporealized, and
enchained hopelessly in the groveling fet-
ters of externality, must be the mind, to
which, in its better moments, the image of
the high-souled, high-intelligenced Quixote
— the errant Star of Knighthood, made more
tender by eclijise — has never presented it-
self, divested from the unhallowed accom-



168 ^\\t X'A^t (^^pM\^ of (glia.



paniment of a Sanclio, or a rabblement at
the heels of Rosinante. That man has read
his book by halves ; he has laughed, mistak-
ing his author's purport, whicli was — tears.
The artist that pictures Quixote (and it is in
this degrading point that he is every season
held up at our Exhibitions) in the shallow
hope of exciting mirth, Avoald have joined
the rabble at the heels of his starved steed.
We wish not to see that counterfeited, whicli
we would not have wished to see in the
reality. Conscious of the heroic inside of
the noble Quixote, who, on hearing that his
withered person was passing, would have
stepped over his threshold to gaze upon his
forlorn habiliments, and the " strange bed-
fellows Avhich misery brings a man acquaint-
ed with " ■? Shade of Cervantes ! who hi
thy Second Part could put into the mouth
of thy Quixote those high aspirations of a
super-chivalrous gallantry, where he replies
to one of the shepherdesses, apprehensive
that he would spoil their pretty net- works,
and, inviting him to be a guest with them,
in accents like these ; " Truly, fairest Lady,
Acta:^on was not more astonished when he
saw Diana bathing herself at the fountain,
than I have been in beholding j^our beauty:
I commend the manner of your pastime, and
thank you for your kind offers ; and, if I may
serve you, so I may be sure you will be
obeyed, you may command me ; for my pro-
fession is this, To show myself thankful, and



mic E»$t i&^rmr^ ot €lm, ic&



:a doer of good to all sorts of people, especi-
ally of the rank that your person shows you
to be ; and if those nets, as they take up but
a little piece of ground, should take up the
whole world, I would seek out new worlds
to pass through, rather than break them;
and (he adds), that you may give credit to
this my exaggeration, behold at least he that
2n'omiseth you this, is Don Quixote la Man-
cha, if haply this name hath come to your
hearing." Illustrious Romancer ! were the
" fine frenzies," vv'hicli possessed the brain
of thy own Quixote, a fit subject, as in this
Second Part, to be exposed to the jeers of
Duennas and Serving Men ? to be monstered,
and shown up at the heartless banquets of
great men? Yfas that pitiable infirmity,
which in thy First Part misleads him ahraijs
from within., into half-ludicrous, but more
than half-compassionable and admirable er-
rors, not infliction enough from heaven, that
men by studied artifices must devise and
practice upon the humor, to inflame where
they should soothe it ? Why, Goneril would
have blushed to jpractice upon the abdicated
king at this rate, and the she-wolf Pcgan
not have endured to play the pranks upon
his fled wits, which thou hast made thy
Quixote suffer in Duchesses' halls, and at
the hands of that unworthy nobleman.*

*yet from this Second Part, our cried-up pict-
ures are mostly selected ; the waitiug-womeu with
'beards, etc.



170 rUc ^aiat (^^m^ of min.



In the First Adventures, even, it needed
all tlie art of the most consummate artist in
the Book way that the world hath yet seen,
to keep up in the mind of the reader the
heroic attributes of the character without
relaxing-; so as absolutely that they shall
suffer no alloy from the debasing- fellowship
of the clown. If it ever obtrudes itself as a
disharmony, are we inclined to laugh or not,
rather, to indulge a contrary emotion ? — Cer-
vantes, stung, perchance, by the relish ^^■ith.
which /lis Keading Public had received the
fooleries of the man more to their palates
than the generosities of the master, in the
sequel let his pen run riot, lost the harmony
and the balance, and sacrificed a great idea
to the taste of his contemporaries. We
know that in the present day the Knight
has fewer admirers than the Squire. Antic-
ipating, what did actually happen to him,
— as afterwards it did to his scarce inferior
follower, the Author of " Guzman de Alfar-
ache," — that some less knowing hand Avould
prevent him by a spurious Second Part ;
and judging that it would be easier for his
competitor to outbid him in the comicalities,
than in the romance, of his Avork, he aban-
doned his Knight, and has fairly set up the
Squire for his Hero* For what else has he
unsealed the eyes of Sancho ? and instead
of that twilight state of semi-insanity — the
madness at second hand — the contagion,
cauu'ht from a stronger mind infected — that



®Uc ^it-st (^rs^in\!i of (eiia. 171



war between native cunning and hereditary
deference, with which he has hitherto accom-
panied his master, — two for a pair almost,
— does he substitute a downriglit Knave,
with open eyes, for his own ends only fol-
lowing* a confessed ^ladman ; and offering at
one time to lay, if not actually laying, hands
upon him ! From the moment that Sancho
loses his reverence, Don Quixote is become
— a treatable lunatic. Our artists hauuie^
liim accordmgly. "" -"^



ehc l^ast (^^^i\\^^ tft €lm.



The Wedding.

I DO not know when I liave been better
pleased than at being invited last week to
be present at the wedding- of a friend's
(laughter. I like to make one at these cere-
monies, which to ns old people give back
our youth in a manner, and restore our
gayest season, in the remembrance of our
own success, or the regrets, scarcely less
tender, of our own youthful disappointments,
m this point of a settlement. On these oc-
casions I am sure to be in good-humor for
a week or two after, and enjoy a reflected
honeymoon. Being without a famih^, I am
flattered with these temporary adoptions
into a friend's famil)^ ; I feel a sort of
cousinhood, or imcleship, for the season ; I
am inducted into degrees of affinity; and, in
the participated socialities of the little com-
munity, I lay down for a brief while my
solitary bachelorship. I carry this humor
so far, that I take it unkindly to be left out,
even when a funeral is goingon in the house
of a dear friend. But to my subject.

The union itself had been long settled, but
its celebration had been hitherto deferred,



to an almost unreasonable state of suspense
in the lovers, by some invincible prejudices
which the bride's father had unhappily con-
tracted upon the subject of the too early
marriages of females. He has been lecturing
any time these five years — for to that length
the courtship has been protracted — upon the
propriety of putting olf the solemnity, till
the lady should have complete'd her five-and-
twentieth year. We all began to be afraid
that a suit, which as yet had abated none of
it ardors, might at last be lingered on, till
passion had time to cool, and love go out
in the experiment. But a little wheedling
on the part of his wife, who was by no
means a party to tliese overstrained notions,
joined to some serious expostulations on
that of his friends, who, from the growing
infirmities of the old gentleman, could not
promise ourselves many years' enjoyment
of his company, and were anxious to bring
matters to a conclusion" during his lifetime,
at length prevailed ; and on IMonday last

the daughter of my old friend, Admiral ,

having attained the v)omanhj age of nineteen,
was conducted to the church by her pleas-
ant cousin J , who told some few years

older.

Before the youthful part of my femalo
readers express their indignation at the
abominable loss of time occasioned to the
lovers by the preposterous notions of my old
friend, they will do well to consider the re-



174 Z\\c i:a.^t (t^^m^ of €Ua.



luctance wliicli a fond parent naturally feels
at parting with his cliild. To this unwill-
ingness, I beUeve, in most cases may be
traced the difference of opinion on this point
between child and parent, whatever pre-
tenses of interest or prudence may be held
out to cover it. Tlie hard-heartedness of
fathers is a fine theme for romance writers,
a sure and moving topic; but is there not
something untender, to say no more of it, in
the hurry which a beloved child is some-
times in to tear herself from the i^aternal
stock, and commit herself to strange graft-
ings '? The case is. heightened where the
lady, as in the present instance, happens to
be an only child. I do not understand these
matters experimentally, but I can make a
shrewd guess at the wounded pride of a
parent upon these occasions. It is no new
observation, I believe, that a lover In most
cases has no rival so much to be feared as
the father. Certainly there is a jealousy in
iniparallel subjects, which is little less heart-
rending than the passion which we more
strictly christen b}^ that name. Mothers'
scruples are more easily got over; for this
reason, I suppose, that the protection trans-
ferred to a husband is less a derogation and
a loss to their authority than to the paternal.
Mothers, besides, have a trembling foresight,
which prints the inconveniences (impossible
to be conceived in the same degree by the
other parent) of a life of forlorn celibacy,



®he p^st (^^^:i^^ of (B\m. 175

"which the refusal of a tolerable match may
entail upon their child. Mother's instinct
is a surer guide here, tlian the cold reason-
ings of a father on such a topic. To this
instinct may be imputed, and by it alone
may be excused, the unbeseeming artitices,
by which some v^ives push on the matrimon-
ial projects of their daughters, Avhich the
husband, however approving, shall entertain
•with comparative indifi'erence. A little
shamelessness on this head is pardonable.
With this explanation, forwardness becomes
a grace, and maternal importunity receives
the name of a virtue. But the parson stays,
while I preposterously assume his oihce ; I
am preaching, while the bride is on the
tliresliold.

Nor let any of my female readers suppose
that the sage reflections which have just
escaped me have the obliquest tendency of
application to the young lady who, it will be
seen, is about to venture upon a change in
her condition, at a mature and competent a


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Online LibraryCharles LambThe last essays of Elia → online text (page 10 of 15)