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THE ENGLISH HOUSE OF COMMONS.
A LEAD FROM THE JOURNAL OF A TRAVELLER IN ENGLAND.
London, February 24, 19—, I ATTENDED to-day, for the first time, in the House of Commons. The debate was on a proposition of Mr Williams, member for Lincoln, to raise a committee to inquire into the delays, expenses, and vexations of the Court of Chancery. Mr Williams spoke with great wit, eloquence, and effect. He was abundantly provided with facts. He gave the history of cases, that had gone on fifteen, twenty, thirty, and more years, and every one of them with a great annual expense; and in many of them the parties, in final despair of a decision, had compromised the cause. Among others, was one, the subject of which was a windmill, which went to decay and fell down before a decree was obtained !
Mr Secretary Peel (who is a small man with red hair and a youthful look, thirty-eight or forty years old) replied, and accounted for the delay, which he did not deny to exist, by saying, that the business had increased so as to be above any human power to perform. Lunatic, bankrupt, accomptant general, and appealed cases were enumerated as having increased beyond all example. He stated that the lawyers in chancery occupied a great deal of time. In one instance, a lawyer occupied "eighteenminutes, you will say,-hours, those who are most extravagant; but both would be wrong—he had occupied eighteen whole days!!” Mr Peel, however, admitted the necessity of inquiring; and said, that his Majesty's government were engaged upon the subject, and would shortly appoint a committee, composed of the Lord Chancellor and several other distinguished gentlemen, chiefly, as it appeared, from the ministerial ranks.
Mr Abercrombie, a Scotch member, and a chancery lawyer, animadverted with great force on the absurdity of setting such men to inquire into this matter, and declared that it would be a mockery
Mr Brougham (five feet nine inches high, spare form, nose turned up, head thin and high, brown hair, and about forty-seven years old) spoke to the same effect. He was utterly astonished, that the Lord Chancellor should hesitate upon every thing else; but should not hesitate a moment to head and to designate the committee, which was to inquire into his own conduct !
Mr Canning (five feet eight or nine inches high, rather retreating forehead, nose long and slightly Roman, brown hair, and about fifty years old) assured the house, that the inquiry was intended to be sincere and beneficial. He would not, however, consent to haye the political and judicial functions of the Lord Chancellor
separated (which was to be one of the points of the inquiry). It was one of the most beautiful prerogatives of the crown, that it could take the meanest man-the meanest, not in talents and endowments, but in birth and fortune-from the walks of Westminster, and place him at the head of the peerage. He saw in this transition from the court pieporoder to the woolsack and the peerage, the most beautiful illustration of the mixed monarchical and democratical principles of the British constitution. There was an eloquent fervour in this part of his remarks, which I found very poorly preserved in the reports of the London journals on the following day. The truth is, that these journals report very badly, notwithstanding the great perfection to which we suppose them to have brought the art.
I have seen one or two speeches of Mr Randolph, reported by the senior editor of the National Intelligencer, better than any
that I have met with in the journals of this country; but those were on occasions, when that expert tachygraphist made exertions, which he is seldom induced to make, and which no unassisted individual would often make if he could help it. Accurate reporting is a desideratum in literature. How little has been preserved of the many eloquent speeches which have been made in the United States, at the bar and in deliberative apd popular assemblies. If any are preserved, or are pretended to be, they are not genuine ; but are so mutilated, and so disfigured, that the reputed authors would not know nor acknowledge them. Under the present system in England as well as with us) the reporter reduces or raises every thing to the standard of his own mind. If he happens to be intelligent and quick, and to have a good memory, he may give a tolerable abstract of a speech, catching occasionally, and preserving a striking or characteristic expression ; but more than this none of them do-few do so much. I doubt very much whether any of the ex tempore speeches on record, attributed to first-rate orators, do them any thing like justice. The most perfect are those, which have been corrected or subsequently written by them elves; but who does not know, that a truly eloquent man speaks at times better than he can write, or than any man can write. There is occasionally, in er tempore debate, and under the excitement produced by opposition and sympathy, a pathos, an inspiration, a swelling of the soul, an intensity of feeling, and power of language, an aliquid immensum, that no closet composition can ever-I will not say reach—but approach, Pinkney is not only dead, but his well earned fame as an orator has died with him, and is gone forever. The same may be said of Hamilton, of R. H. Lee, and indeed is more or less true of all our orators.
The remedy, as it regards the future, is obvious. We have only to educate men for this art, as we do for other arts much
less laborious and difficult. Boys must be early initiated into the mysteries of cryptography, commence practice in childhood, and go through a regular apprenticeship. No learning that they might acquire would come amiss. The art, having been thus learned, ought to yield them a genteel support, and be esteemed a liberal ealling, for it is obviously more important than that of portraitpainting ; inasmuch as the peculiar features of the minds of illustrious men are more interesting to us than those of their faces. By contemplating a distinct and vivid representation of the former, we may draw instructive lessons for the improvement of our own minds; but we shall hardly be able to assume the features of a fine face, though we may look upon a picture of it forever.
The fountain whence it rose.
The Spirit of a star.
He sprang to generous deeds.
Compelled him to be great.
The voice that bade him dare.
His only aim-the skies.
A glance, that thrilled him through.
Full in the front of war he stood ;
THE REIGN OF MAY.
I feel a newer life in every gale;
The winds, that fan the flowers,
Tell of serener hours,
Beneath the sky of May.
From his blue throne of air,
Beauty is budding there;
Their slumbers and awake.
And the wide forest weaves,
A canopy of leaves;
A gush of trembling notes.
The tresses of the woods,
And the full-brimming floods,
TO A FRIEND AT SEA.
All pure and serene in her maiden splendor,
Her silvery lustre is thy defender.
As through the blue skies it is coldly sweeping,
Their way to the pillow where thou art sleeping. Whenever I look on the dark green sea,
Or think of the fathomless depths of ocean, Oh! sadly my spirit then turns to thee,
And prays thou art safe from the wave's commotion.
But joyfully swelleth my gladdened heart,
When favouring gales, in their balmy sweetness,
Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine for February and March, 1825. This journal has greatly degenerated within a year or two, and is now remarkable for nothing but ultra-toryism and scurrility. About six months since, there appeared in it a sort of chronicle of American writers, arranged alphabetically. This has been continued through five numbers, and is now concluded. When we first observed this, we were surprised at the acquaintance with the personal character and history of many of our writers, which was displayed in it, and at the number of names collected. We were astonished to perceive such a formidable list; and though the notices were generally abusive, we were rather flattered that our friends over the water should have taken the trouble to notice so many of our writers at all. There seemed to be something enigmatical about the whole affair; for though there were many mistakes, they did not appear to be such as a stranger would be likely to fall into; the writer seemed to have too much knowledge of many things, to be so ignorant of some others; and often appeared to be telling a lie rather than making a blunder. He has not had the wit, however, to keep his own secret. In the fifth and last number, he lets “ the cat out of the bag," and completely nullifies every effect of his strictures, whether good or evil, by discovering himself to be a Mr John Neal, of Baltimore. This person is the author of several novels; one of which, called Randolph, we had occasion to notice in an early number of this Gazette. For this work Mr Neal is said to have received in a most unfortunately
more kicks than coppers.” This sort of honorarium, indeed, to do him justice, he strenuously denies the receipt of, and certainly he is as likely as any one to know. If we erred in publishing an intimation of this kind, we now make the amende honorable to Mr Neal, by giving equal publicity to his denial, and admitting, that at the worst, the thing was rather his misfortune, than his fault. Mr Neal was seen by several persons in this vicinity, some years since. We gather from their account of him, as well as from his writings, that he possessed some natural talent, and had he been “caught young,” might have made something ; but that he has been left to himself so long, that he can scarcely be expected ever to be fit for any thing better than a contributor to the Edinburgh Magazine. There are several other articles in these numbers, of which we intended to give some account, but as we can say nothing good of them, we shall perhaps do more wisely to say nothing at all.
Adsonville, or Marrying out; A Narrative Tale. Albany. 1824. 12mo. pp. 285. This is a very ordinary book, printed in a very ordinary manner. The author promises, “ if this shall pass with impunity, to sin no more.” It