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THE OMEN.

veiled to

Ir is really quite refreshing, after is sharp, and possunt quia posse via dull confinement to the sphere of dentur. No longer shall we grope realitics, to positive acting, and suf- timidly along the course of life, fering, and jostling about in the gathering from the signs of the preworld, to learn that we may have sent times dim glimpses of the fusuch fine glimpses into the future ture. Behold us snugly adjusting as this little volume discloses. In ourselves in our concave fauteuilperusing it, we are overcome by the beside a slumber-inspiring fires most bewitching reveries on things, sparkling decanters at our dexter not past or present, but on events to side, and other pertinent convecome; and we seem to acquire a niences. Thus comfortably disposed, double existence, while we brood we resign ourselves, with all imagiover the phantasms of our prescience. ñable complacency, to the direction So thoroughly satisfied do we find of those mysterious influences whose ourselves, after reading the Omen, province it is to reveal the features that the long vista of futurity is un- of our remotest destiny; and then

those who yearn after its it is that we feel exalted in the scale mysteries—so imbued are we, since of being--that we luxuriate in illimiits perusal, with a spirit of supersti- table existence, as “ coming events tion, and with faith in the oracles of cast their shadows before us,"

and the dreams, and other dark harbingers misty clouds of futurity are pictured of destiny, that we are already vain into forms of definite apprehension enough to imagine ourselves endow- and palpable truth. What rewards ed with powers of vaticination in- are due to that author who intimates comparably beyond those of the pro- to us this mighty power, and awakens phets of the olden times ; and, posi- us to a consciousness of its habitation tively, neither Roman augurs nor within us ! Surely the payment of Highland seers are worthy of stand the national debt, or Johnstone's acing within ten thousand miles of us. celeration of the mail at the rate of a " What dire effects from trivial hundred miles a minute, is a procauses spring!” This piccionino of a blem for children, compared with a voluine is evidently destined to work revelation of the secrets of ages yet a mighty revolution in the energies unborn. Yet, much as we are disand actions of men; and unless posed to immortalize the discoverer some of our worldly-minded senators of this great truth, we have our introduce a bill to check our wan- doubts sometimes whether our old derings into the next, or remoter friend Dryden has not a preferable centuries, we run a chance of entire- claim to the glory of first proclaimly forgetting the present generation, ing it, if, indeed, the latter be not and expending our lives for the be- an imitator himself. How mystenefit of our descendants in the fif- riously sublime and prescient is that

This, truly, is the excellent poet in the following lines age of illumination, in more things of his Annus Mirabilis! than the sciences of boxing and political economy. The spell which “ Then we upon earth's utmost verge has hitherto bound us to the nether parts of old Time-a peep into the

And view the ocean leaning o'er the sky;

From hence our rolling neighbours vista has just shewn us that we have learn to know, progressed upwards about as far as

And on the future world securely pry!" the thorax-is, thanks to the Omen, broken for ever. We may now bold- We are not given to disparagely climb to the very crown of his ment, but we cannot help thinking caput, since the secret of our strength that the author of the Omen has is let out. None will be unwilling studied some hints from Dryden ; to attempt the ascent, for curiosity and we are the more inclined to be

tieth degree.

will go,

* The Omen. William Blackwood, Edinburgh ; and T. Cadell, London. 1825. VOL. XVIII.

31

lieve that he is a second-hand dis. To thee, Vienna, be ascrib'd the praise coverer, from the following acciden- To generate that boast of coming days, tal circumstance :-We lately chan. Great Doctor Gall ! immortal be bis ced to stumble on a very old MS.,

name! thickly enveloped with the dust of Long will it fill the future trump of antiquity. Judge of our surprise, on

fame. its proving the indagating reverie of

He destin'd is first to reduce to practice a philosopher of the thirteenth cen

(Editor's note-this consonant to fact

is) tury; in which, to our high satisfac

A science drawn from skulls, with wontion, we found him roundly announ- ders fraught, cing, and correctly describing, those which all the world hereafter shall be glorious inventions, and their won- taught; der-working consequences, which we, Than Pope's, a swifter process he'll find in our blindness, had supposed un- out, known, and undreamt of, till the He'll measure brains within by bumps present century. This ancient au

without; thor, a poet as well as a philosopher, He'll lay his hand upon his patient's sings the praises of Captain Parry, head, and his brave crews, who, threescore And lo! a light most glorious shall be generations afterwards, were to push

shed, their brazen prows to the very North

Brightly illuminating all within, Pole ; and celebrates the rapidity of

As if the caput were turn'd outside

in ! voyages by steam from his native shores to the Indies. Nay, we veri. This is really an admirable passage, ly found, after much hieroglyphical though unfortunately it has nothing decyphering, that this old seer had to do with the Omen. But why should anticipations of that sublimest of all we object to the vagaries of any sciences, Phrenology. We shall pro- given prelude, however ridiculous or bably take an opportunity of soon extravagant ? There is no necessity giving to the world this singular for its bearing at all upon the suband antique document ; but, in the ject in hand. Cicero composed exormean time, to placate the phrenolo- diums by the dozen, and tacked gists, who, all the world knows, are them, like heads upon pins, to discurious and impertinent beyond bear- courses afterwards concocted. Like ing, we favour them with one little

the body of a lady's letter, it is law. passage :

ful to fill such things with every “ All hail, Phrenology ! 'tis thine to cull

thing but pertinences to the main A world of wonders from a withered

object. After all, to retire from our skull;

digression, it is delightful to pry inTo measure intellects of all degrees,

to futurity. We despise the vulgar By pressing foreheads with a gentle creed which holds prescience in mor. squeeze ;

tals to be synonymous with misery. To mark the force of reverential dread, One of the great boons of this foreBy thumbing well the apex of the head; knowledge is the power of confining To indicate each passion's secret power, our prophetic visions to the bright By groping parts behind a little lower. side of the picture. With such a By thee men's minds, from skulls, are power, no reasonable man would be meted out,

so doltish as to stir up the embryo By cunning measures circling these about, disagreeables of his future state. AnWith probes and scales, such as our ar

tiquity has long been stale as a subtists place On shapeless marbles, sculptur'd forms ject of occupation for thought, and

as for the present, we find it such a to trace. A poet shall have been, whose numbers perfect punctum, without length,

breadth, or thickness, that we are ran, “ The proper study of mankind is man,” generally thrown out in our search That is—to ponder man in every mood,

for the body of the times. HenceO'er all his movements, motives, thoughts forth let us be engaged, then, in conto brood.

templating the future, -in scanning But after Pope a glorious race shall rise,

the actions of the tenth generation Whose fame shall fill the concave of the to come,-in providing for the comskies.

fort of a race yet unborn, while we manfully disdain the daily duties of harbingers of evil; and throughout our own age. It is at once wonder- the whole piece, as may be well imaful and fascinating, to think that we gined, the author deals largely in can repose in our arm-chair, or doze amphibology and mystery. But we on our pillow, while we review, with shall proceed to give an outline of the bright reality of truth, and pass the work, taking care to intersperse judgment on the warriors, philoso- our narration with extracts of suffiphers, and poets, of the year of our cient length, to enable our readers to Lord two thousand. Verily the phi- form some judgment of its merits, losopher's stone is discovered at last in respect both to design and exethe talisman of immortality : cution. Can such things be,

The hero of the piece, if we may And overcome us like a summer cloud, be allowed to call him so, was the Without our special wonder !"

child of parents who had a sad

“ tragedy of the hearth to conceal ;” Badinage apart, the Omen is a and his genius, as may be gathered production of rather a novel nature. from our foregoing remarks, consisted It professes to be founded on fact, and in a sort of hereafter discernment yet inculcates the absurd doctrine of which very much annoyed him. As prescience, and the realization of this young gentleman is nameless in presentiments suggested by wordly the Omen, we shall, to avoid perioccurrences. The truth or the verisi- phrasis, take the liberty of calling militude of this doctrine is attempted him Henry Oglethorpe. His mother, to be exhibited in the history of a the frail lady to whom we have alyoung man, who is eternally pester- luded, was the sole heiress of her ed, and reduced to a state of mind maternal ancestors, from whom she bordering on phrenzy, by supernatu- inherited the splendid domain of ral intimations of impending horrors Beechendale. His father was a genin his fate-he knows not why or tleman, richer in heraldry than poswherefore. The mother of this young sessions, with whom she had acciman, after his birth, having lapsed dentally become acquainted. It apinto conjugal infidelity,—but

this cir- pears that this lady's love had been cumstance is unknown to him,-the fleeting as it was violent; for scarcely dark forebodings of his mind, in was she blessed with a son—the unwhich he believed as firmly as in his fortunate boy whose sorrows are rephysical existence, are wrought out corded—when her fickle affections and verified, by bis marrying a lady withdrew from her husband, and who proves to be his sister - the fruit clung to another object. Her infiof his frail parent's wayward affec- delity was discovered, and produced, tions, or of her second marriage, after one sad morning at Beechendalethe death of her first husband, the Hall, “ a hideous scene” of strife, father of this superstitious youth : between her injured lord and the or we should rather say, that these partner of her guilt. The bloody forebodings, to receive proper effect, struggle in which they engaged tershould have been so realized in the minated in the father of young nuptials of the brother and sister : Henry (then a mere child) being for our author, as if to refute the left weltering in his blood at the foot gloomy doctrine in which apparently of his staircase, while his lady's parahe so much delights, stops short of mour fled from the house which he that consummation, and, by natural had polluted. agency, reveals the connection of the It is at this epoch that the narparties, in time to save them from rative of the tale commences. It impending guilt. We cannot approve is told by our hero, when about to of such a story:

It is at best an sink into a premature grave at the unpleasant subject to handle, and vigorous period of life, and comprethere is nothing in the moral, ter- hends the troubled course of his exminating as the

story does, to com- istence up to that time, from the pensate its unpleasing nature. There eventful morning of which we have is much of improbability, too, even spoken. The earlier passages of his in the generation of those incidents life commencing with the struggle, he which are made the superstitious treats as matters of clouded reminis

room.

cence, neither recollected with the her, overwhelmed with the phantasma of vivid distinctness of remembered an unknown fear. facts, nor yet so feebly impressed on his mind as to seem altogether vi. Henry's grandmother.

The lady who thus died was young

On her sionary

death, he was consigned to the care Even my childhood was of Mrs Ormond, an aged gentlejoyless, and a mystery overshadows all . woman of a serene and benign counmy earliest recollections. Sometimes,

tenance," who formerly bad been on the revisitations of the past, strange the governess of his mother. The and obscure apparitional resemblances unvisited and solitary house of this leave me in doubt whether they are in

ancient dame, to which he was now deed the memory of things which have been, or but of the stuff that dreams are

removed, stood on a rising ground made of.

overlooking a bay, skirted on one The vision of a splendid mansion and side by a scattered hamlet of fishmany servants makes me feel that I am,

ermen's huts, and on the other by as it were, still but a child, playing with a rugged promontory of tall cliffs an orange on the carpet of a gorgeous and beetling rocks. It was here

A wild cry and a dreadful sound that, while yet a child, he for the frighten me again; and as I am snatched first time met Mr Oakdale, the deup and borne away, I see a gentleman stroyer of his father's doinestic peace, lying bleeding on the steps of a spacious and the hastener of his death. One staircase, and a beautiful lady distracted. cool summer evening, as Mrs Ore ly wringing her hands.

mond and Henry were walking on Whilst yet struggling in the strangling the beach, grasps of that fearful night-mare, a change comes upon the spirit of my dream, and -a gentleman, who was sitting on a a rapid procession of houses and trees, rock, started up, as we came unexpectedand many a green and goodly object, ly upon him, and hastily retired. Some. passes the window of a carriage in which thing in his appearance arrested my atI am seated, beside an unknown female, tention ; and I followed him with my who sheds tears, and often caresses me. eyes till he disappeared behind another

We arrive at the curious portal of a jutting fragment of the precipice. turretted manorial edifice :- I feel my. He had lately become the inhabitant self lifted from beside my companion, of a little cottage, which stood in a niche and fondly pressed to the bosom of a ve. of the cliffs. No one could tell whence nerable matron, who is weeping in the he had come: all that was known condusky twilight of an ancient chamber, cerning him was in the ravelled circumadorned with the portraits of warriors. stances of an uncredited tale told by a A breach in my remembrance ensues ;

poacher, who, being abroad in the night, and then the same sad lady is seen re

on his unlawful vocation, saw a black clining on a bed, feeble, pale, and wasted, boat passing athwart the disk of the while sorrowful damsels are whispering moon, (then just emerging from the sea,) and walking softly around. • •

and making towards a vessel under sail. She laid her withered hand upon my A solitary man was at the same time head, as I stood at her pillow. It felt seen coming from the beach-one who like fire, and, shrinking from the couch, had doubtless been landed from that res. I pushed it away, but with awe and re. sel. Next morning, about break of day, verence ; for she was blessing me in the gentleman whom he had disturbed silence, with such kind and gentle eyes! applied at the cottage for some refresh. My tears still flow afresh, whenever I ment, and finding in the only inmate the think of those mild and mournful eyes, needy widow of a fisherman, he persuaand of that withered and burning hand.

ded her to take him for a guest, and I never beheld that sad lady again; with her he had continued to lead a combut some time after the female who panionless life. brought me in the carriage led me by the Several years afterwards, Henry hand into the room where I had seen her again fell in with Mr Oakdale. The dying. It was then all changed ; and on the bed lay the covered form of a myste

former, no longer an attended child, rious thing, the sight of which filled my

was now a careless boy, allowed to infantine spirit with solemnity and dread. range alone, in the freedom of the The poor girl, as she looked on it, began hills and shores. to weep bitterly ; I, too, also wept, but I was returning homeward along the I knew not wherefore, and I clung to brow of the cliff's which overhung his

mons.

cottage ; a sunny breeze was blowing was not indeed until the lighthouse and from the sea, and a slight haziness in the evening star were mingling their the air rather whitened than obscured beams on the glittering waters, that I the azure of the heavens. The waves thought of returning home. were breaking on the shore, but neither He walked with me to the gate, where hoarsely nor heavily ; and the hissing of Mrs Ormond was standing, alarmed at the grass, and the rustling of the leaves, my absence, and anxiously looking for had more of life than of sadness in their the servants whom she had sent out in sounds.

quest of me. Immediately above the cottage was a The old lady, on seeing us, came eager. path which meandered down among the ly forward, and while affectionately emrocks towards the hamlet ; and as it bracing me, began to chide at my having shortened my distance from home I turn. staid abroad to so late an hour. I had ed into it, and had descended about fifty then hold of Mr Oakdale by the finger, yards, when I discovered him sitting on and felt him start at the first sound of a rock with his chin resting on his hand. her voice; in the same moment he I knew him again at the first glance, so snatched his hand away, and hastily vividly had his image been impressed withdrew. upon my young remembrance; and I Surprised by his abruptness, Mrs Orfelt as if I had known him in a previous mond raised herself from the posture into state of existence, which had long, long which she had stood to caress me, and ceased to be.

enquired with emotion who the stranger I looked at him for a moment, and was. Before I had time to answer, he then softly turned to retrace my steps ; turned with a wild and strange haste, but he heard me, and raising himself and seizing her by the hand, endeavoured from the ruminating posture in which he to remove her to a distance from me. was sitting, he beckoned to me, and in. She demanded to know why he treated vited me with such encouraging accents her so rudely. He said something in an to come to him, that in the ready confie emphatic whisper which I did not overdence of boyhood I soon obeyed the sum. hear, but it stunned her for an instant ;

and when she recovered, instead of mak. At first he spoke playfully, as the ing him any reply, she led me away, and gentle-hearted ever address themselves to without speaking closed the gate. children ; but all at once he gazed at me As we ascended the steps of the hall. with a wild and startled eye, and brush. door I looked back, and saw Mr Oakdale ing up the curls from my forehead with standing on the spot where we had left his hand, perused my features with an him. Mrs Ormond also looked back, alarming eagerness, and suddenly burst and said with an accent which the echoes into tears.

of memory have never ceased to repeat, When this paroxysm of incomprehen- " Miserable, miserable man !” She then sible sorrow bad subsided, he tried to re- hurried me before her into the parlour, gain my confidence by those familiar ci. and sunk down upon a sofa, overwhelmed vilities which so soon allay the fears and with agitation and grief. appease the anxieties of the young heart. The servants having returned, she enStill there was a cast of grief and passion quired if the gentleman who brought me in his countenance, and ever and anon home was still at the gate, but none of he fell into momentary fits of abstraction, them had seen him. during which, his tears, though with less Being by this time somewhat composviolence, flowed again.

ed, she began to question me again con. He enquired my name, but it was one cerning him. of which he had never heard ; and he Though I told her all I knew, and questioned me about many things, but I that he was the same person whom we was ignorant of them all. More than bad seen so long before sitting forlornly once he regarded me with a look so fierce on the rock, still my information appear. and suspicious, that it made me quake, ed to afford no satisfaction, but only to and I was fain to flee from him, but call forth her wonder that he should have he held me firmly by the wrist. Never been so long so near us, and all the time theless, in the midst of all that wayward so perfectly unknown ;-by which, young and fantastical treatment, there was much as I then was, and incapable of penetragentleness ; and I enjoyed on my heart ting the mystery with which I was sur. the occasional breathings of a spirit framrounded, I yet, nevertheless, could dised of the kindliest elements, and rich in cern that I was doomed to experience the softest affections of pity, and charity, some ill-omened sympathy with the disand love.

astrous fate and fortunes of that unhappy, I remained with him a long time. It solitary man.

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