Art. XXVI.-Magic and Mesmerism ; an Episode of the Eighteenth Century,

and other Tales. 3 vols. The late hour of the month at which these Tales were put iuto our hand $ renders it impossible that we can do more than glance in the most summary manner at a few of the pages, or gather any other than an indistinct notion of the current of each of the stories. This much we have learned of the first of them, which bears the title of “Magic and Mesmerism,” that a Jesuit priest, of the name of Girard, had obtained unhallowed influence over a young and beautiful girl of good family, whohad been subject to somnambulism from her infancy; and that having got her placed in a convent he carried on by means of his mysteries and mesmeric charms the most villanous purposes to the undoing of the lady. At length she is rescued and taken home to her family, when the trial of the father for his abominations is instituted, which down to the last day of its proceedure, promised most distinctly to issue in his conviction. At the eleventh hour, however, a change comes over the spirit of the plaintiff; for Girard regains his satanic power over his frail victim, by contriving that she should drink a glass of water after he had breathed upon it. These few words may serve as an introduction to the following powerfully depicted scene; the father of the person who is supposed to narrate the story, having been the advocate of Mademoiselle Catherine Cadières.

"On every day of this eventful trial,- and it was an unusally protracted one, -the people had never ceased crowding to suffocation every approach to the hall of justice; but on the last day the press was fearful, and it was with the utmost difficulty that ingress or egress could be obtained to or from the

An expression of unusual animation pervaded every face, which, in many of those ardent southern countenances, was deepened into ferocity,-a peculiarity not altogether foreign to their impassioned natures.

The Jesuits, ever since the beginning of the affair, had scarcely ventured to pass through the mob, so intense was the execration in which they were held at that moment by the very people who had worshipped them with slavish respect but a few short days before. The excitement within and without the court was at its height.

The spectators had nosegays of white flowers at their breasts, as if in joyous expectation of the triumph of that innocence for whose emblem they had been selected. Catherine looked still more beautiful than on the previous days, though somewhat more moved than usual. A slight blush diffused her face at almost every alternate minute, and her eyes more frequently sought those of her trembling mother, who was scarcely less an object of deep sympathy and interest than herself.

The judges seemed more perturbed and gloomy than ever, and turned no friendly glances towards the plaintiff and her advocate. Their collision with the Jesuits was too evident to make it doubtful which way their judgment would go, had they but dared to follow their inclinations,- perhaps their fears would be the truer interpretation of their feelings,-in the undeniably critical position in which they were placed. But my father heeded not their frowning aspect. Although the eighteenth century yet retained all the seeds of the feudal and justiciary system of the dark ages, and justice was yet almost syn

onlmous with barbarity,---power with abuse, --still so flagrant and outrageous an act as the condemnation of Catherine, especially considering the ferment of the spirit throughout the town, he could not bring himself to believe possible.

The proceedings of that day he estimated as mere child's play, to delay as long as possible an unavoidable sentence, which, however, older practitioners warned him not to look forward to so very sanguinely. Once and once only did his eye light perchance upon the Jesuit's countenauce, whose every movement he had hitherto watched, nevertheless most carefully. He seemed moody and absorbed, but in a great measure recovered from the abject consternation and terror which had overwhelmed him throughout the proceedings of this harrassing trial.

My father remarked that in the course of that morning he had helped himself repeatedly from a water flask that stood near, in order, as he thought, to calm his inward perturbation : and when his glance fell on him he was in the very act of raising a glassful of the pure element to his lips. There was nothing in his simple movement to excite any attention, and my father soon turned his thoughts to other objects. Shortly afterwards, Catherine feeling much exhausted, one of the inferior officers about the court approached her with a tumbler of fresh water, which was accepted, and drained at a draught. As she returned the glass to the man, who waited for it with extended hand, she observed to him--and many, besides my father, who scarcely heeded it at the moment, heard the remark—that the water had a very salt and disagreeable taste, and rather excited than slacked her thirst.

The examination of other witnesses went on, and finally Catherine was again confronted with Father Girard. Her behaviour in public had been, until that moment, in such perfect accordance with the sentiments she expressed in private, that my father no longer watched her with the same keen sickening apprehenaion which at first his doubts of stability had occasioned. But now there was something so strange and unsteady in the sound of her voice as to cause him to start and look round, when the change that he beheld in her whole mien and bearing riveted at once his eye and his attention.

Had the wan of an enchanter touched her, and that wand invested with all the mysterious qualities ever bestowed on it by the most generous imagination, it could not have wrought a change more complete, and to her friends and well-wishers more appalling. Her eyes wandered with uncertain dreamy gaze, from object to object, or sought the ground, not, however, from natural bashfulness, but from a heaviness that seemed to press the lids forcibly down ; her lips and brow were contracted as if by an intense effort at collecting thought; her answers were broken, dark, vague, unconnected, and the light from within, that had irradiated her countenance, and diffused its brightness into every lineament, seemed fading away from her complexed brow, on which the mists that had lain so heavy on it at St. Clare, were slowly again gathering.

Gradually as Catherine lost her self-command, and that too at the most critical moment of her fate, Father Girard assumed an air of growing courage, as much at variance with his hitherto abject timidity and unmanly incoherency. His manner grew proportionably assured, and that of his opponent lost firmness. My father gazed in speechless amazement, whilst the judges

exchanged smiles that showed how much this change relieved their minds at that decisive hour.

The rest passed with the rapidity, and, my father has often assured me, with the indistinctness of a dream. He more than once made a violent effort as if to awake from some troubled vision, as he heard Catherine in a hurried confused manner recant one by one every word she had before spoken, deny every fact that had been proved by irrefragable evidence, assert herself a mean impostor, the tool of a vile conspiracy,—-Father Girard an injured saint, herself, her friends and supporters, the vilest of sinners that ever trod the earth.

Father Girard's scowling glances, fraught with darkest malignity int he hour of victory, the exclamations of uncontrollable wonder that burst from the spectators, the sobs of the agitated mother, the indignant rustle of the veils of the nuns of St. Clare as they drew them closer to their faces in speechless indignation, at the unconscionable shameless prevarication of the plaintiff, whom they had hitherto regarded with feelings of the purest commisseration,

-the thundering eloquence of Monsieur Thoraine, as it came pouring down from the Alps of his imagination like a headlong avalanche-his own weak and confused refutation spoken in a hoarse indistinct tone of voice,-the summing up of the judges—the fatal condemnation itself—all that passed around him sounded to my father like the horrid mockery of a dream. But an hour ago a victor, standing proudly opposed to humble foes, whose evil designs he had so valiantly combated, now prostrate and vanquished without a final struggle—taken by surprise--thrown off his guard-never had knight fallen so low, or lady proved so false. How he left the court and reached home he could scarcely tell,nor was it before a few hours of calm and solitude had restored his wonted elasticity and energy of spirit, that he felt himself again able to look about him and to think.

Whatever may be thought of the doctrine of Mesmerism, or whatever may be the fact with regard to the author's reliance upon its claims, unquestionably he has worked out by means of such speculations, traditions, and facts, as the creed suggests and furnishes, a tale of no ordinary vigour, stirring interest and originality. With regard to the other two pieces in these volumes, we are led to believe that they are worthy of the author of “Magic and Mesmerism," and that they, like the first tale, have facts and authenticated occurrences for their ground-work.

Art. XXVII.-Rural Chemistry; an Elementary Introduction to the Study of

the Science in its relation to Agricolture, By Ed. Solly, Jun., F.R.S. &c.

The contents of this small volume formed the substance of a series of articles on Chemistry, which originally appeared in the Gardener's Chronicle ; the object of the author being to present such an elementary sketch as will enable those who are ignorant of the subject, more readily to comprehend the works of the various authors who have written on Agricultural Chemistry. The work however, is calculated to be of direct service independently of clearing the way to the study of larger and more complex treatises. To practical men we would particularly recommend the chapter which is devoted to manures. But every page is suggestive or directly informing,

Arr. XXVIII. Religious and Moral Sentences culled from the Works of

Shakspere, compared with Sacred Passagés drawn from Holy Writ. By a Member of the Shakspere Society.

Here we have" a selection,” as the title of the elegant volume more fully setteth forth,“of religious sentiments and moral precepts, blended in the dramatic works, &c. of our immortal bard." A principal feature of the publication is the design to prove that Shakspere was a member of the Protestant Church of England ; and that he could not have written the will, a copy of which is shewn in his house at Stratford-upon-Avon. This document would make it out that the poet was a Papist. But without going to Doctor's Commons, internal evidence we think must clearly indicate to any person of thought and general research, that the copy is a gross forgery. Still

, the compiler is not satisfied with this mode of testing its truth; for in the first part of his volume, he has collected a great number of phrases, sentences, and passages, in which the dramatist uses no measured language of assault, and where he certainly spares neither the Pope nor the Popish priesthood. A question here to be considered, however, is how far the dramatist identified himself with the characters in his plays, when he made them utter the speeches and words quoted. On the other hand one would be led to think, that had his heart recoiled, many of his denunciations might, without affecting the purposes he had in view, been avoided or greatly modified.

In the second division of the volume, the compiler has been at great pains to muster extracts from Shakespere in order to 'shew from the similarity of idea, as well as of verbal use, that the poet was deeply read in Scripture; and that therefore he could not have been an adherent of the Church of Rome. We must confess that the identity of sentiment, or the derirative nature of many of the instances are not manifest to us, and not, we think, by any pro. cess of ingenious interpretation, to be set down as imitations, The third section of the volume consists of the religious and moral sentences that may be culled from Shakspere's works. And here, as in almost every department of thougth and life, the reader must be astonished at the variety and riches that characterize the productions of the poet.

There is much in the volume to attract, and also to lead to extended reflection. The preface contains curious and informing matter. There are also notices of Shakspere as connected with the high personages, wbo, when he was living, appreciated and patronized his genius. Portraits of the poet, of the Earl of Southampton, and an engraving representing Queen Elizabeth listening to her favourite dramatist, embellish and illustrate passages of the appendix. The work is dedicated to the Shakspere Society, and is published for the benefit of the Benevolent Funds of the Theatres Royal, Drury Lane and Covent Garden. All who are solicitous to know how much may be learned of the poet, and who are choice in their selection of Shaksperiana will be gratified on calling at the publishers, Messrs. Calkin and Budd, to find one monument more erected in this beautiful volume to the immortal bard.

[ocr errors]




JULY, 1843.

ART. I.-The Irish Sketch-Book. By Mr. M. A. TITMARSH. With

numerous engravings. 2 vols. Chapman and Hall. Gentle reader! be not for this time at least repelled by the title and the subject-matter which the pseudonymed author has affected for these volumes. Ireland, it appears, had not been exhausted: it was possible once more to traverse the emerald isle, and to cram a sketch-book with Irish pictures and portraits, and to show up to Mr. Bull certain and sundry things, which he had either never seen before, or never viewed so distinctly and clearly. Nay, it needed not any very protracted sojourn, nor formally mapped scheme of travel, to furnish Mr. M. A. Titmarsh with studies for his


and pencil. His tours, to be sure, though rapid, and taken, it would seem, pretty much at random, were in such different and opposite directions, and conducted from a few such central points, as to supply him with tolerably complete notions both of the South and of the North ; and seeing that his volumes derive their character, and estabJish their excellence, rather by the sketches which they contain of persons and manners, than of landscapes and localities, it was the less necessary that the author should thread every country and take up his temporary residence in every big town, than it would have been had his business been that of a thorough surveyor or a painstaking gatherer of statistical information. Indeed, many of Mr. Titmarsh's most effective pictures have that degree of exaggeration about them imbuing the spirit of caricature, but nevertheless at the same time imparting a highly-striking sketch, which he who may be a total stranger to the original, feels at once to be truthful not merely to an individual subject or group of figures, but faithful to that which is the type of a class and of an entire national section.

Again, it is true, Mr. T. has prejudices, is on various points straightlaced, and by no means remarkable as a logician. But then,

VOL. II. (1843.) No. III.

[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »