Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

ing with great spirit ; and, when in a subsequent article we discuss what has been done, and is intended yet to be done, by the new Constitutional Government in favour of public instruction, we shall not omit to mention the measures it has already taken to introduce and disseminate schools on the Lancasterian system.

SONG.

I vow'd a vow of faith to thee,
By the red rose of June;
I vow'd ii by the rainbow,
And by the silver moon.
The red rose is departed,
Fresh ones are blooming there ;
The rainbow has not left a shade
Upon the azure air.
And the crescent moon has swellid
Into a golden round,
And a sign of chance and change
On each and all are found.
Then say not I have broken,
The faith I vow'd to thee;
Change was made for all on earth,
Was it not made for me?

L. E. L.

A DEFENCE OF THE ALPHABET.

THERE does not exist on the face of the earth, a worse used community than the alphabet. To judge the members by the reports that are daily circulated against them, one must take them for the most troublesome, immoral, wicked, profligate, abandoned set of wretches that ever formed a society. For "poisons, conspiracies, and assassinations-libels, pasquinades, and tumults,” the very Abderites would have blushed for them. That they sometimes appear to be concerned in libels and pasquinades; that instances of religious, political, and literary prostitution may be adduced to their discredit, must, in fairness, be admitted; but it must also be remembered, in extenuation of their seeming offences, that in such cases they are not free agents, but the mere passive instruments of potent employers, against whose authority they are altogether unprovided with the means of resistance. That they would not willingly lend themselves to such vile and dirty purposes, there is no reason to doubt ; for those most respectable members of the community, V and I, have frequently protested against all such misemployment of their services. of wilful participation in the criminality of such proceedings, they must, therefore, stand acquitted ; and if odium must attach to them, VOL. X. No, 60,1825.

76

it can be only in the same degree, and upon the same unjust principle, that an army is made to share in the disgrace of a defeat occasioned by the incapacity or the misconduct of its leader.

If then there be so slight a foundation for such accusations as those against them, how deplorable must their situation appear, when it is considered that all other accusations, of what nature soever, are atrocious calumnies ! Heavens ! were it otherwise, there is not one among them from A to Izzard, for whom hanging, drawing, and quartering would not be excess of tenderness—the hurdle, the gibbet, and the stake, a paradise. Read the daily prints, and it will be found that not an elopement is planned ; not an unsuspecting female is ruined ; not a crim. con. is committed; not a prodigal son is guilty of an offence, at once, against his family and the state; in short, not a crime in the long catalogue furnished by human depravity is perpetrated; but some unhappy letters of the alphabet are denounced as the criminals! And innocent as they are, why should this be? Why should they, even for a day or an hour, be selected as the scape-goats, to bear the odium of offences attributable to others, who may be sufficiently adroit or powerful to procure for themselves secrecy and shelter under cover of an innocent initial? By such allowance, not only are the ends of justice per verted (often defeated) but crime is, in some measure, encouraged; for there is many a heartless fellow, who, had he no other tribunal to account to than his own indulgent conscience, would readily commit an act from which he would be deterred by the certainty of exposure, in the event of detection, to the rigour, not merely of the laws, but of public opinion. It may be objected, that this assertion is not strictly applicable as regards the graver offences against society, such as do really fall within the cognizance of the laws; and that no subterfuge is available to screen the authors of such misdeeds from the infliction of their merited punishment. Such objection is partially admitted; but there can be no doubt, that so far as concerns the commission of innumerable offences contra bonos mores, which do not come within reach of the arm of justice, the shelter afforded by an initial, an asterisk, or a dash, is to those who are not passionate lovers of Virtue for her own sake, a strong temptation to take a trip with her ugly sister, which they might be induced to resist, if their names, from the first letter to the last, were liable to exposure. In either case the injustice towards the poor alphabet is manifest. For instance ; a drunken quarrel takes place between Captain Bluster and Lieutenant Racket, in the course of which sundry bottles, glasses, and waiters' heads are broken, three watchmen nearly beaten to death with their own staves, and the quiet inhabitants of a whole street thrown into confusion and alarm. The next day the affair is reported in the newspapers ; but, instead of naming the real offenders, poor B— and Rare held up to public indignation, as a couple of drunken, turbulent rascals.-Mrs. Walker and Mr. Smith become enamoured of eacb other, as the phrase is : she abandons her husband and nine children, he leaves a wife and seven, to shift for themselves; the interesting pair, utterly unmindful of the serious duties they are bound to perform, resolve to live together, and off they go. The occurrence soon becomes known ; but Mr. Smith is adroitly protected from the odium that ought to attach to his name, by throwing it on the shoulders of poor S- ; whilst Mrs. Walker is merely announced as

a W! And for such outrageous attacks upon their moral characters, the unfortunate members of the alphabet are without redress. Now, had such a convenient mode of concealment not existed; had the parties alluded to been assured that they themselves must bear the shame of their own misconduct, and that they would not be permitted to transfer it to two unoffending letters ; it is much more than probable that their dread of exposure would have operated as a restraint upon their inclinations. Hard is the lot of the poor alphabet ? For such outrageous attacks upon its moral character, it is without redress! The letters have not their action for defamation ; they are calumniated with impunity; and this is, perhaps, the first time that a champion has ventured to stand forward in their defence !

Another, although comparatively a lighter grievance, to which they are subjected by this unfair use of their names, is the constant disturbance of their peace and quiet. Not a day passes but the whole community is alarmed for their safety, or thrown into a state of consternation by the reported annihilation of one or more of their members, usually by violent or disgraceful means. Fire and water, the dagger and the bowl, (according to newspaper reports) have made such havoc amongst them, that one is astonished at finding a single letter well and hearty at the present moment. Last Tuesday the slaughter was, in appearance, terrific. Q- - was found drowned at Richmond, and Cfloating in the New River; the young and beautiful Mrs. A-died in the straw; 0 - was squeezed as flat as a pancake between a waggon and a wall; T - scalded to death; US had put an end to a hopeless passion, by the gentle aid of garters and a bed-post ; and I was poisoned by having swallowed a dumpling containing more arsenic than apples. Upon inquiry, however, it was discovered that not one word of all this, so far as related to the parties in question, was true; but that the real sufferers were Messieurs Quintin, Collins, Ommaney, and Ingram; Mistresses Ash and Upham; and Miss Tims.

The petty vexations and annoyances inflicted upon them are numerous; but 100 notorious to need, as well, perhaps, as of too little importance to deserve, a notice in a defence of so grave a character as the present. With one highly meritorious letter, who shall be nameless, whose complaints are unceasing, and seemingly well founded, I confess I have no sympathy. According to his own showing, the persecutions he suffers, through the hatred of the “ Warwickshire lads and the lasses,” and of those inhabitants of the capital who are emphatically denominated Cockneys, are not to be endured; but I think that, in the long run, ample justice is done to him ; for if, as he says, he is even in one short commandment ejected from house, he is generously admitted into ox and ass. Thus is he doubly compensated.

Again : the omission of some one of them, where his presence is essential, is so clearly the effect of accident, and not of ill-will, or of a deliberate intention to injure, that that also is unworthy of our serious attention. Take, for instance, the following paragraphs selected from the newspapers, the sense of which is completely altered by the omission of the initial letter of the word printed in italics :

“ The conflict was dreadful, and the enemy was repulsed with considerable laughter !"

“Robert Jones was yesterday brought before the sitting magistrate on a charge of having spoken reason at the Barleymow public-house."

" In consequence of the numerous accidents occasioned by skaiting on the Serpentine River, measures are taking to put a top to it.”

" When Miss Leserve, late of Covent Garden Theatre, visited the Hecla,' she was politely drawn up the ship's side by means of a hair."

“ At the Guildhall dinner none of the poultry were eatable except the ovls."

“A gentleman was yesterday brought up to answer a charge of having eaten a hackney-coachman for demanding more than bis fare ; and another was accused of having stolen a small ox out of the Bath Mail : the stolen property was found in his waistcoat pocket.”

“ The Russian general Kachkinoffkowsky was found dead with a long word sticking in his throat.”

“SMITHFIELD Festivities.--The air was crowded with people of all descriptions. At two o'clock the Lord Mayor drove through it in his state carriage."

These, however, are but trifling grievances. But the practice of casting upon the poor unoffending Alphabet the odium of offences committed by other people--of making the innocent suffer for the guilty-is not only grossly unjust in itself, but detrimental in the highest degree to the well-being of society at large; for, to say nothing of high crimes and misdemeanors, it cannot be doubted that decency and morality at least would be less frequently violated, were the facilities of concealment diminished, and exposure rendered more prompt and certain.

P.

[ocr errors]

THE WRECK OF THE COMET.

Hard by her native shore

Did that gay ship smoothly glide : She ask'd no breeze to impel her o'er,

No sail to flout the tide.
Instinct with motive strength,

Her bulk on the waters lay,
And bravely she moved her majestic length

On her couch of ocean spray,
It was the midnight hour,

The jovial dance was done,
And sleep upon many a lid had power,

That saw not another sun.

And beauty and youth were there,

The lover and loving bride, Affection too pure for fate to spare,

And hopes that should not have died. And thoughts in silence bent

On children, friends, and home, On life's port, where the voyager journey-spent

Looks for his joy to come. The moon, a false friend, filed,

For her friendship's proof was nigh; And darkness, from that which covers the dead,

Came over earth and sky. And now the headland frown'd

A mark to the timoneer, That the welcome haven to which he was bound,

And rest from care were near, When there broke a cry of woe,

A shriek of agony,
That pierced the darkness and stillness through,

And rush'd into the sky,
And crashing sounds of wreck,

That faint upon the ear,
And strangling sighs, and bubblings that break

As the drowning disappear.
And strugglings and splashings wild,

Convulsings 'mid his grave,
When, reason fled, like a wild'red child

Man grapples the faithless wave :-
Or grasps, in suffering,

At th' unsubstantial air,
And sinks to his death ere his soul can wing

A momentary prayer.
No sunken rock is nigh,

No quicksand lurks below,
No plank is sprung, and no foe is by,

No angry tempests blow.
Yet that gay ship, but now

Careering in her pride, Like a drunkard reels, and her shatter'd prow

Buries beneath the tide,

« НазадПродовжити »