« ForrigeFortsæt »
a folio which I in youthful days not only read but studied, this language is recorded and accurately described amongst many other modes of cryptical communication, oral and visual, spoken, written, or symbolic. And, as the bishop (writing before 1665) does not speak of it as at all a recent invention, it may probably at that time have been regarded as an antique device, for conducting a conversation in secrecy amongst by-standers; and this advantage it has, that it is applicable to all languages alike, nor can it possibly be penetrated by one not initiated in the mystery. The secret is this, repeat the vowel or diphthong of every syllable, prefixing to the vowel so repeated the letter G. Thus, for example: Shall we go away in an hour? Three hours we have already staid. This in Ziph becomes: Shagall wege gogo agawagay igin agan hougour? Threegee hougours wege hagave agalreageadygy stagaid. It must not be supposed that Ziph proceeds slowly. A very little practice gives the greatest fluency; so that even now, though certainly I cannot have practised it for thirty years, my power of speaking the Ziph remains unimpaired. I forget whether, in the Bishop of Chester's account of this cryptical language, the consonant intercalated be G or not. Evidently any consonant will answer the purpose. F or L would be softer.
In this learned tongue, it was that my friend and I communicated our feelings; and having staid nearly four hours, a time quite sufficient to express a proper sense of the honor, we departed; and, on emerging into the open high road, we threw up our hats and huzzaed, meaning no sort of disrespect, but from uncontrollable pleasure in recovered liberty.
For a few minutes at this or at another of her Majesty's fêtes, and twice on other occasions, before we finally quitted Eton, I again saw the King; and always with
renewed interest. He was kind to everybody -condescending and affable in a degree which I am bound to remember with personal gratitude: and one thing I had heard of him, which even then, and much more as I became capable of deeper reflection, won my respect. I have always reverenced a man of whom it could be truly said, that he had once, and once only, been desperately in love; in love, that is to say, in a terrific excess, so as to dally, under suitable circumstances, with the thoughts of cutting his own throat, or even (as the case might be) the throat of her whom he loved above all this world. It will be understood that I am not justifying such enormities; but it is evident that people in general feel pretty much as I do, from the extreme sympathy with which the public always pursue the fate of any criminal who has committed a murder of this class, even though tainted (as generally it is) with jealousy, which, in itself, is an ignoble passion.*
Great passions, passions moving in a great orbit, and transcending little regards, are always arguments of some latent nobility. There are, indeed, but few men and few women capable of great passions, or (properly speaking) of passions at all. Hartley, in his mechanism of the human mind, propagates the sensations by means of vibrations, and by miniature vibrations, which, in a Roman form for such miniatures, he terms vibratiuncles. Now of
* Accordingly, Mr. Coleridge has contended, and I think with truth, that the passion of Othello is not jealousy. So much I know by report, as the result of a lecture which he read at the Royal Institution. His arguments I did not hear. To me it is evident, that Othello's state of feeling was not that of a degrading, suspicious rivalship; but the state of perfect misery, arising out of this dilemma, the most affecting, perhaps, to contemplate, of any which can exist, viz., the dire necessity of loving without limit one whom the heart pronounces to be unworthy and irretrievably sunk.
men and women generally, parodying that terminology, we ought to say-not that they are governed by passions, or are at all capable of passions, but of passiuncles. And thence it is that few men go, or can go, beyond a little love-liking, as it is called; and hence also, that, in a world where so little conformity takes place between the ideal speculations of men and the gross realities of life, where marriages are governed in so vast a proportion by convenience, prudence, self-interest, anything, in short, rather than deep sympathy between the parties, we yet hear of so few tragic catastrophes on that account. The King, however, was certainly among the number of those who are susceptible of a deep passion, if everything be true that I have heard. All the world has heard that he was passionately devoted to the beautiful sister of the then Duke of Richmond. That was before his marriage: and I believe it is certain, that he not only wished, but sincerely meditated to have married her. So much is matter of notoriety. But other circumstances of the case have been sometimes reported, which imply great distraction of mind, and a truly profound possession of his heart by that early passion: which, in a prince whose feelings are liable so much to the dispersing and dissipating power of endless interruption from new objects and fresh claims on the attention, coupled also with the fact that he never, but in this one case, professed anything amounting to extravagant or frantic attachment, do seem to argue that the King was truly and passionately in love with Lady Sarah Lenox. He had a demon upon him, and, by some accounts, was under a real possession. If so, what a lively expression of the mixed condition of human fortunes, and not less of another truth equally affecting, viz., the dread conflicts with the will the mighty agitations which silently and in darkness are convulsing many a heart, where, to the
external eye, all is tranquil,- that this King, at the very threshold of his public career, at the very moment when he was binding about his brows the golden circle of sovereignty, when Europe watched him with interest, and the kings of the earth with envy, no one of the vulgar titles to happiness being wanting-youth, health, a throne the most splendid on this planet, general popularity amongst a nation of freemen, and the hope which belongs to powers as yet almost untried, that, even under these most flattering auspices, he should be called upon to make a sacrifice the most bitter of all to which human life is liable! He made it: and he might have then said to his people — —For you, and to my public duties, I have made a sacrifice, which none of you would have made for me.' In years long ago, I have heard a woman of rank recurring to the circumstances of Lady Sarah's first appearance at Court after the King's marriage. It was either a presentation, or it occurred at a ball; and, if I recollect rightly, after that lady's own marriage with Sir Charles Bunbury. Many eyes were upon both parties at that moment, - females eyes especially, and the speaker did not disguise the excessive interest with which she herself observed them. The lady was not agitated, but the King was. He seemed anxious, sensibly trembled, changed color, and at last shivered, as Lady S. B. drew near. But, to quote the one single eloquent sentiment, which I remember after a lapse of thirty years, in Monk Lewis's Romantic Tales 'In this world all things pass away; blessed be Heaven, and the bitter pangs by which sometimes it is pleased to recall its wanderers, even our passions pass away !' And thus it happened that this storm also was laid asleep and forgotten, together with so many others of its kind, that have been, and that shall be again, so long as man is man, and woman woman. Meantime, in justification of a pas
sion so profound, one would be glad to think highly of the lady who inspired it; and, therefore, I heartily hope that the insults offered to her memory in the scandalous memoirs of the Duc de Lauzun, are mere calumnies, and records rather of his presumptuous wishes, than of any actual successes. That book, I am aware, is generally treated as a forgery; but internal evidence, drawn from the tone and quality of the revelations there made, will not allow me to think it such. There is an abandon and carelessness in parts which mark its sincerity. Its authenticity I cannot doubt. But that proves nothing for the truth of the particular stories which it contains.
* A book of scandalous and defamatory stories, especially when the writer has had the baseness to betray the confidence reposed in his honor by women, and to boast of favors alleged to have been granted him, it is always fair to consider as ipso facto a tissue of falsehoods; and on the following argument, that these are exposures which, even if true, none but the basest of men would have made. Being, therefore, on the hypothesis most favorable to himself, the basest of men, the author is selfdenounced as vile enough to have forged the stories, and cannot complain if he should be roundly accused of doing that which he has taken pains to prove himself capable of doing. This way of arguing might be applied with fatal effect to the Duc de Lauzun's Memoirs, supposing them written with a view to publication. But, by possibility, that was not the case. The Duc de L. terminated his profligate life, as is well known, on the scaffold, during the storms of the French Revolution; and nothing in his whole career won him so much credit, as the way in which he closed it; for he went to his death with a romantic carelessness, and even gaiety of demeanor. His Memoirs were not published by himself; the publication was posthumous; and by whom authorized, or for what purpose, is not exactly known. Probably the manuscript fell into mercenary hands, and was published merely on a speculation of pecuniary gain. From some passages, however, I cannot but infer that the writer did not mean to bring it before the public, but wrote it rather as a series of private memoranda, to aid his own recollection of circumstances and dates. The Duc de Lauzun's account of his intrigue with Lady Sarah goes so far as to allege, that he rode down in disguise, from London to Sir Charles B.'s country-seat, agreeably to a previous assiguation, and that he was admitted, by that Lady's confidential