Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

Chinese empire ; from which opinion I am not inclined to differ after the frequent opportunities I subsequently had of testing it. The carving, both upon the stone and wood-work, was well executed. The porcelain figures of men, dragons, &c., with which they delight to adorn their religious buildings, were finished in a style which far exceeded my expectations.

“ There were a number of altars, and presiding at each a due complement of gods and demons, all of which seemed to be largely supplied with offerings of the good things of this world, in the shape of tea, coffe, sugar, &c., set out in handsome China bowls. The attendant priests were rather flattered at our tasting these dainties, and at our lighting our cigars at the holy fires which were kept burning opposite each of the principal gods; they moreover invited us to taste of the

dishes which had been prepared for their own meal, many of which were noted very good, though considerable difficulty was experienced in the use of the chopstick.

“The dress of the priests differed but little from that of the rest of the community, their great distinction consisting in their wearing no tail, which, for a Chinese of any other class to be devoid of, would be considered the highest reproach. One amongst many of their customs totally at variance with our own, is that of choosing their priests from the dregs rather than from among the highest class of society. In the outer court of the building were to be seen a number of filthy wretches beseeching charity, such as are to be observed in Catholic countries just without the doors of most places of religious worship. These poor creatures were engaged in pastimes, such as cards, &c.; no doubt very amusing to them, but little suited, according to our ideas of propriety to, the place they were in.”

A CHINESE WEDDING.—“On my return from the joss house, seeing a dwelling house gaily decorated with pieces of gaudy-coloured silk, &c., lamps and lights, I entered and discovered a Chinese wedding to be going forward. Both bride and bridegroom were decked out in the richest of silks ; and at the moment of my entry the attendant relatives were busily employed cramming into their mouths a preparation of betel-nut until they were nearly choked, this being a portion of the ceremony which on no account is to be omitted. The lady was a Malay, who are almost the only wives the Chinese are here able to procure ; for although there were at the time I mention between 10,000 and 12,000 Chinamen at the settlement, I was given to understand there were but two Chinese women ; these had been taken to London some years since, for the purpose of exhibiting their feet, and had returned thus far towards their native country, the nearest point to which they could then approach, as the jealousy of the government is so great that it forbids all its subjects from leaving China to visit foreign soils, more especially women ; and there could not be the shadow of a doubt that were they to have ventured home, their lives would have paid the penalty of their rashness.”

COUP DE SOLEIL.—“The excitement being somewhat abated, the heat was now beginning to be severely felt by the men, particularly among those who for so many months had had no exercise ; numbers were falling out from the ranks, and some-I believe I do not exaggerate when I say nearly a dozen -fell down dead upon the spot. Our first care therefore was to march them, as speedily as practicable, to a neighbouring village, taking possession of a number of joss houses and other buildings, to get them shelter from the sad effects of such a sun. We lost but five men killed by the enemy's fire, but before night about twenty of Her Majesty's 98th had perished from the effects of coup de soleil.”

In addition to his Chinese Recollections, Captain Cunynghame records his impressions on a visit to Manilla, the island of Laconia, &c. He also relates some interesting occurrences on his return homeward, which our readers will find well worthy of their attention. The work is very tastefully embellished with drawings and wood engravings, and

the binding is elegant and appropriate. The dedication is addressed, very naturally, and by permission, to Major-General Lord Saltoun. We have been much pleased with the perusal of these interesting volumes, and can safely recommend them to our readers.

The Candidate for Favour, in Poetry and Prose. By Helen Hyams. This is a miscellaneous collection of prose tales and poetical pieces, by a Jewish lady. The poetry greatly preponderates over the prose. In both departments of composition the writer shows that she possesses a literary taste, but much yet remains to be done in the way of improving it. The poetry is often defective in the measure, and the prose is in some places too artificial. These are faults, however, which time will correct. The following short poetical piece is as favourable a specimen as we could give of the writer's manner. It is entitled

THE CHANGELING'S GRAVE.*

I.
The night was cold, the moon was bright,
And icicles in clusters hung;
The air was clear, and all was light,
As if broad day its radiance flung;
The scene was drear, an arid waste,
Girt by the moss-grown rock alone;
The hunter, with redoubled haste,
Attempts a prayer, and hurries on.

II.
Ah! he has nearly pass’d the dell;
Why starts he in such wild atfright?—
Let his own words the secret tell :

Away! in pity, withering sight! The wretched superstition, on which the following verses are founded, is too generally known, and was, unhappily, too often acted upon, even so near our own time as the early part of the last century, to require any very lengthened comments. If a child was sickly, deformed, or otherwise particularly afflicted, it was supposed to be a fairy changeling, and little or no attention was paid to the poor stricken one ; it was, indeed, sometimes put to the most cruel and lingering torments, protracted till it died, in order to free the supposed inhabitant of Fairy-land, who was expected to resume his proper shape, when the usurper should have been dislodged by the accredited means. It is easy to suppose that, under such circumstances, the popular superstition would often be made available for the worst purposes. Thus, it is related, that the kinsman of a young and noble infant in the West of England, caused the child to be immolated, and took possession of the estates, in pretended expectation of the rightful heir's return from Fairy-land. One day, as the shades of evening closed around him, being accidentally separated from his attendants when returning from the chase, he suddenly found himself beside the changeling's grave, a spot unhallowed by the consecration of the church. A vain search was instituted ; sometimes his figure was visible in the dell, standing close to the grave, which appeared to be covered with rare and exotic flowers, yet any attempt to approach him proved futile; for the adventurer making such trial was either seized with inexpressible horror, preventing his advance, or a thick mist overspread the spot and remained an impenetrable barrier; but if these preventives did not suffice, a stunning blow was bestowed by an unseen hand, and, on recovery, the unlucky wight found himselfin some other and remote part of the mountain pass, of which the dell constitutes a part.

It is the changeling's grave, and I
So long have fled the spot in vain;
Ah! now I hear that fearful cry,
And it accuses me again !

III.

Who dares to say that I did play
The traitor for thy large estate ?
Rest thee! the grave should not betray
The deeds of avarice, and hate !
Hurrah ! hurrah! a troop comes on !
Off, off! ye shall not seize on me!
Spectres avaunt ! ye turn to stone
My moving flesh ! I cannot flee !

IV.
They watch'd all night within the hall,
For him that own’d that vast domain,
And oft was heard the seeker's call;
But ah! they watch'd and sought in vain.
There is, beyond yon tow’ring hill,
A spot, man's foot does never tread,
Where fix’d, as by some power of ill,
A stone form watches o'er the dead !

V.

Flowers spring on the tiny grave,
Of matchless beauty, and most rare,
Which an undoubted virtue ha
To draw the poison fro:u despair.
But then they must by hands be cullid
Free from all sin, on bosoms worn
Where baneful passions are all lullid,
And virtue's highest gifts adorn.

V!.

If, tempted by the goodly sight,
Unworthily they should be grasp'd,
The scene will change to blackest night,
The thief by demon form be clasp'd,
And hurld in headlong fury through
The dark abyss, appallid by dread,
Found in some chasm he never knew,
Distracted, maim'd, or even dead.

Reliques of Ancient English History, consisting of Old Heroic Ballads,

Songs, and other Pieces of the earliest Poets, together with some few

of later Date. In 3 vols. Vol. I. Mr. Moxen has done good service to the cause of English literature by his cheap and elegant republications of English standard interest. The present work, when simplified, will add one to the number of his previous meritorious publications. This is the fourth edition-a plain proof of the popularity of the work. When the remaining two volumes are published, we shall probably refer at some length to so interesting a work.

Reliques of Ancient English Poetry; consisting of Old Heroic Ballads,

Songs, and other Pieces of our early Poets, together with some few of

later Date. In 3 vols. This is one of Mr. Moxon's excellent republications, in a cheap and excellent form, of works which, in a more expensive shape, had already received the stamp of public approbation. The choicest specimens of old English poetry chiefly, in the ballad style, are now placed before the reader at the cheapest possible price. Those who may have seen the following before will be glad to meet with it again in our pages. It is a ballad entitled

FAIR MARGARET AND SWEET WILLIAM.
As it fell out on a long summer's day

Two lovers they sat on a hill ;
They sat together that long summer's day,

And could not talk their fill.

“ I see no harm by you, Margaret,

And you see none by me;
Before to-morrow at eight o' the clock

A rich wedding you shall see.'
Fair Margaret sat in her bower-window,

Combing her yellow hair;
There she spyed sweet William and his bride,

As they were a riding near.
Then down she layd her ivory combe,

And braided her hair in twain :
She went alive out of her bower,

But ne'er came alive in't again.

When day was gone, and night was come,

And all men fast asleep,
Then came the spirit of fair Marg'ret,

And stood at William's feet.

“ Are you awake, sweet William ? ” she said ;

“Or, sweet William, are you asleep? God give you joy of your gay bride-bed,

And me of my winding sheet.”

When day was come, and night was gone,

And all men wak'd from sleep,
Sweet William to his lady sayd,

My dear, I have cause to weep.

I dreampt a dream, my dear ladye,

Such dreams are never good :
I dreamt my bower was full of red wine',

And my bride-bed full of blood.”

“Such dreams, such dreams, my hououred sir,

They never do prove good;
To dream thy bower was full of red wine',

And thy bride-bed full of blood.”

[blocks in formation]

• Alluding to the dole anciently given at funerals. Ver. 31. 35. Swine, PCC.

« ZurückWeiter »