Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Vol 58, No. 357, July 1845
Author: Various
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In this battle Marlborough's wing lost 3000 men, and Eugene's the same number, in all 6000. The French lost 13,000 prisoners, including 1200 officers, almost all taken by Marlborough's wing, besides 34 pieces of cannon, 26 standards, and 90 colours; Eugene took 13 pieces. The killed and wounded were 14,000 more. But the total loss of the French and Bavarians, including those who deserted during their calamitous retreat through the Black Forest, was not less than 40,000 men,[14] a number greater than any which they sustained till the still more disastrous day of Waterloo.

This account of the battle, which is by far the best and most intelligible which has ever yet been published, makes it quite evident to what cause the overwhelming magnitude of this defeat to the French army was owing. The strength of the position consisted solely in the rivulets and marshy grounds in its front; when they were passed, the error of Marshal Tallard's disposition of his troops was at once apparent. The infantry was accumulated in useless numbers in the villages. Of the twenty-six battalions in Blenheim, twenty were useless, and could not get into action, while the long line of cavalry from thence to Oberglau was sustained only by a few battalions of foot, incapable of making any effective resistance. This was the more inexcusable, as the French, having sixteen battalions of infantry more than the Allies, should at no point have shown themselves inferior in foot soldiers to their opponents. When the curtain of horse which stretched from Blenheim to Oberglau was broken through and driven off the field, the 13,000 infantry accumulated in the former of these villages could not avoid falling into the enemy's hands; for they were pressed between Marlborough's victorious foot and horse on the one side, and the unfordable stream of the Danube on the other. But Marlborough, it is evident, evinced the capacity of a great general in the manner in which he surmounted these obstacles, and took advantage of these faulty dispositions; resolutely, in the first instance, overcoming the numerous impediments which opposed the passage of the rivulets, and then accumulating his horse and foot for a grand attack on the enemy's centre, which, besides destroying above half the troops assembled there, and driving thirty squadrons into the Danube, cut off, and isolated the powerful body of infantry now uselessly crowded together in Blenheim, and compelled them to surrender.

Immense were the results of this transcendent victory. The French army, lately so confident in its numbers and prowess, retreated "or rather fled," as Marlborough says, through the Black Forest; abandoning the Elector of Bavaria and all the fortresses on the Danube to their fate. In the deepest dejection, and the utmost disorder, they reached the Rhine, scarce twelve thousand strong, on the 25th August, and immediately began defiling over by the bridge of Strasburg. How different from the triumphant army, which with drums beating, and colours flying, had crossed at the same place six weeks before! Marlborough, having detached part of his force to besiege Ulm, drew near with the bulk of his army to the Rhine, which he passed near Philipsburg on the 6th September, and soon after commenced the siege of Landau, on the French side; Prince Louis with 20,000 men forming the besieging force, and Eugene and Marlborough with 30,000 the covering army. Ulm surrendered on the 16th September, with 250 pieces of cannon, and 1200 barrels of powder, which gave the Allies a solid foundation on the Danube, and effectually crushed the power of the Elector of Bavaria, who, isolated now in the midst of his enemies, had no alternative but to abandon his dominions, and seek refuge in Brussels, where he arrived in the end of September. Meanwhile, as the siege of Landau was found to require more time than had been anticipated, owing to the extraordinary difficulties experienced in getting up supplies and forage for the troops; Marlborough repaired to Hanover and Berlin to stimulate the Prussian and Hanoverian cabinets to greater exertions in the common cause, and he succeeded in making arrangements for the addition of 8000 more Prussian troops to their valuable auxiliary force, to be added to the army of the Imperialists in Italy, which stood much in need of reinforcement. The Electress of Bavaria, who had been left Regent of that State in the absence of the Elector in Flanders, had now no resource left but submission; and a treaty was accordingly concluded in the beginning of November, by which she agreed to disband all her troops. Trarbach was taken in the end of December; the Hungarian insurrection was appeased; Landau capitulated in the beginning of the same month; a diversion which the enemy attempted on Treves was defeated by Marlborough's activity and vigilance, and that city put in a sufficient posture of defence; and the campaign being now finished, that accomplished commander returned to the Hague, and London, to receive the honour due for his past services, and urge their respective cabinets to the efforts necessary to turn them to good account.

Thus by the operations of one single campaign was Bavaria crushed, Austria and Germany delivered. Marlborough's cross-march from Flanders to the Danube, had extricated the Imperialists from a state of the utmost peril, and elevated them at once to security, victory, and conquest. The decisive blow struck at Blenheim, resounded through every part of Europe; it at once destroyed the vast fabric of power which it had taken Louis XIV., aided by the talents of Turenne, and the genius of Vauban, so long to construct. Instead of proudly descending the valley of the Danube, and threatening Vienna, as Napoleon afterwards did in 1805 and 1809, the French were driven in the utmost disorder across the Rhine. The surrender of Trarbach and Landau gave the Allies a firm footing on the left bank of that river. The submission of Bavaria deprived the French of that great outwork, of which they have made such good use in their German wars, the Hungarian insurrection, deprived of the hoped-for aid from the armies on the Rhine, was pacified. Prussia was induced by this great triumph to co-operate in a more efficient manner in the common cause; the parsimony of the Dutch gave way before the tumult of success; and the empire, delivered from invasion, was preparing to carry its victorious arms into the heart of France. Such results require no comment; they speak for themselves, and deservedly place Marlborough in the very highest rank of military commanders. The campaigns of Napoleon exhibit no more decisive or glorious results.

Honours and emoluments of every description were showered on the English hero for this glorious success. He was created a prince of the Holy Roman empire,[15] and a tract of land in Germany erected into a principality in his favour. His reception at the courts of Berlin and Hanover resembled that of a sovereign prince; the acclamations of the people, in all the towns through which he passed, rent the air; at the Hague his influence was such that he was regarded as the real Stadtholder. More substantial rewards awaited him in his own country. The munificence of the queen and the gratitude of Parliament conferred upon him the extensive honour and manor of Woodstock, long a royal palace, and once the scene of the loves of Henry II. and the fair Rosamond. By order of the Queen, not only was this noble estate settled on the duke and his heirs, but the royal comptroller commenced a magnificent palace for the duke on a scale worthy of his services and England's gratitude. From this origin the superb palace of Blenheim has taken its rise; which, although not built in the purest taste, or after the most approved models, remains, and will long remain, a splendid monument of a nation's gratitude, and of the genius of Vanbrugh.

Notwithstanding the invaluable services thus rendered by Marlborough, both to the Emperor of Germany and the Queen of England, he was far from experiencing from either potentate that liberal support for the future prosecution of the war, which the inestimable opportunity now placed in their hands, and the formidable power still at the disposal of the enemy so loudly required. As usual, the English Parliament were exceedingly backward in voting supplies either of men or money; nor was the cabinet of Vienna inclined to be more liberal in its exertions. Though the House of Commons agreed to give L4,670,000 for the service of the ensuing year; yet the land forces voted were only 40,000 men, although the population of Great Britain and Ireland could not be at that period under ten millions, while France, with about twenty millions, had above two hundred thousand under arms. It is this excessive and invariable reluctance of the English Parliament ever to make those efforts at the commencement of a war, which are necessary to turn to a good account the inherent bravery of its soldiers and frequent skill of its commanders, that is the cause of the long duration of our Continental wars, and of three-fourths of the national debt which now oppresses the empire, and, in its ultimate results, will endanger its existence. The national forces are, by the cry for economy and reduction which invariably is raised in peace, reduced to so low an ebb, that it is only by successive additions, made in many different years, that it can be raised up to any thing like the amount requisite for successful operations. Thus disaster generally occurs in the commencement of every war; or if, by the genius of any extraordinary commander, as by that of Marlborough, unlooked-for success is achieved in the outset, the nation is unable to follow it up; the war languishes for want of the requisite support; the enemy gets time to recover from his consternation; his danger stimulates him to greater exertions; and many long years of warfare, deeply checkered with disaster, and attended with an enormous expense, are required to obviate the effects of previous undue pacific reduction.

How bitterly Marlborough felt this want of support, on the part of the cabinets both of London and Vienna, which prevented him from following up the victory of Blenheim with the decisive operations against France which he would otherwise have undoubtedly commenced, is proved by various parts of his correspondence. On the 16th of December 1704, he wrote to Mr Secretary Harley—"I am sorry to see nothing has been offered yet, nor any care taken by Parliament for recruiting the army. I mean chiefly the foot. It is of that consequence for an early campaign, that without it we may run the hazard of losing, in a great measure, the fruits of the last; and therefore, pray leave to recommend it to you to advise with your friends, if any proper method can be thought of, that may be laid before the House immediately, without waiting my arrival."[16] Nor was the cabinet of Vienna, notwithstanding the imminent danger they had recently run, more active in making the necessary efforts to repair the losses of the campaign—"You cannot," says Marlborough, "say more to us of the supine negligence of the Court of Vienna, with reference to your affairs, than we are sensible of every where else; and certainly if the Duke of Savoy's good conduct and bravery at Verue had not reduced the French to a very low ebb, the game must have been over before any help could come to you."[17] It is ever thus, especially with states such as Great Britain, in which the democratic element is so powerful as to imprint upon the measures of government that disregard of the future, and aversion to present efforts or burdens, which is the invariable characteristic of the bulk of mankind. If Marlborough had been adequately supported and strengthened after the decisive blow struck at Blenheim; that is, if the governments of Vienna and London, with that of the Hague, had by a great and timely effort doubled his effective force when the French were broken and disheartened by defeat, he would have marched to Paris in the next campaign, and dictated peace to the Grand Monarque in his gorgeous halls of Versailles. It was short-sighted economy which entailed upon the nations the costs and burdens of the next ten years of the War of the Succession, as it did the still greater costs and burdens of the Revolutionary War, after the still more decisive success of the Allies in the summer of 1793, when the iron frontier of the Netherlands was entirely broken through, and their advanced posts, without any force to oppose them, were within an hundred and sixty miles of Paris.

This parsimony of the Allied governments, and their invincible repugnance to the efforts and sacrifices which could alone bring, and certainly would have brought, the war to an early and glorious issue, is the cause of the subsequent conversion of the war into one of blockades and sieges, and of its being transferred to Flanders, where its progress was necessarily slow, and cost enormous, from the vast number of strongholds which required to be reduced at every stage of the Allied advance. It was said at the time, that in attacking Flanders in that quarter, Marlborough took the bull by the horns; that France on the side of the Rhine was far more vulnerable, and that the war was fixed in Flanders, in order by protracting it to augment the profits of the generals employed. Subsequent writers, not reflecting on the difference of the circumstances, have observed the successful issue of the invasions of France from Switzerland and the Upper Rhine in 1814, and Flanders and the Lower Rhine in 1815, and concluded that a similar result would have attended a like bold invasion under Marlborough and Eugene. There never was a greater mistake. The great object of the war was to wrest Flanders from France; when the lilied standard floated on Brussels and Antwerp, the United Provinces were constantly in danger of being swallowed up, and there was no security for the independence either of England, Holland, or any of the German States. If Marlborough and Eugene had had two hundred thousand effective men at their disposal, as Wellington and Blucher had in 1815, or three hundred thousand, as Schwartzenberg and Blucher had in 1814, they would doubtless have left half their force behind them to blockade the fortresses, and with the other half marched direct to Paris. But as they had never had more than eighty thousand on their muster-rolls, and could not bring at any time more than sixty thousand effective men into the field, this bold and decisive course was impossible. The French army in their front was rarely inferior to theirs, often superior; and how was it possible in these circumstances to adventure on the perilous course of pushing on into the heart of the enemy's territory, leaving the frontier fortresses, yet unsubdued, in their rear? The disastrous issue of the Blenheim campaign to the French arms, even when supported by the friendly arms and all the fortresses of Bavaria, in the preceding year, had shown what was the danger of such a course. The still more calamitous issue of the Moscow campaign to the army of Napoleon, demonstrated that even the greatest military talents, and most enormous accumulation of military force, affords no security against the incalculable danger of an undue advance beyond the base of military operations. The greatest generals of the last age, fruitful beyond all others in military talent, have acted on those principles, whenever they had not an overwhelming superiority of forces at their command. Wellington never invaded Spain till he was master of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajos; nor France till he had subdued St Sebastian and Pampeluna. The first use which Napoleon made of his victories at Montenotte and Dego was to compel the Court of Turin to surrender all their fortresses in Piedmont; of the victory of Marengo, to force the Imperialists to abandon the whole strongholds of Lombardy as far as the Adige. The possession of the single fortress of Mantua in 1796, enabled the Austrians to stem the flood of Napoleon's victories, and gain time to assemble four different armies for the defence of the monarchy. The case of half a million of men, flushed by victory, and led by able and experienced leaders assailing a single state, is the exception, not the rule.

Circumstances, therefore, of paramount importance and irresistible force, compelled Marlborough to fix the war in Flanders, and convert it into one of sieges and blockades. In entering upon such a system of hostility, sure, and comparatively free from risk, but slow and extremely costly, the alliance ran the greatest risk of being shipwrecked on the numerous discords, jealousies, and separate interests, which, in almost every instance recorded in history, have proved fatal to a great confederacy, if it does not obtain decisive success at the outset, before these seeds of division have had time to come to maturity. With what admirable skill and incomparable address Marlborough kept together the unwieldy alliance will hereafter appear. Never was a man so qualified by nature for such a task. He was courtesy and grace personified. It was a common saying at the time, that neither man nor woman could resist him. "Of all the men I ever knew," says no common man, himself a perfect master of the elegances he so much admired, "the late Duke of Marlborough possessed the graces in the highest degree, not to say engrossed them. Indeed he got the most by them, and contrary to the custom of profound historians, who always assign deep causes for great events, I ascribe the better half of the Duke of Marlborough's greatness to those graces. He had no brightness, nothing shining in his genius. He had most undoubtedly an excellent plain understanding, and sound judgment. But these qualities alone would probably have never raised him higher than they found him, which was page to James the Second's queen. But there the grace protected and promoted him. His figure was beautiful, but his manner was irresistible, either by man or woman. It was by this engaging, graceful manner, that he was enabled, during all his war, to connect the various and jarring powers of the Grand Alliance, and to carry them on to the main object of the war, notwithstanding their private and separate views, jealousies, and wrongheadedness. Whatever court he went to (and he was often obliged to go to restive and refractory ones) he brought them into his measures. The pensionary Heinsius, who had governed the United Provinces for forty years, was absolutely governed by him. He was always cool, and nobody ever observed the least variation in his countenance; he could refuse more gracefully than others could grant, and those who went from him the most dissatisfied as to the substance of their business, were yet charmed by his manner, and, as it were, comforted by it."[18]


[1] Letters and Despatches of John Churchill, First Duke of Marlborough, from 1702 to 1712. Edited by SIR GEORGE MURRAY, G.C.B., Master-General of the Ordnance, &c. 3 vols. London, 1845.

[2] "Marlborough," says Swift, "is as voracious as hell, and as ambitious as the devil. What he desires above every thing is to be made commander-in-chief for life, and it is to satisfy his ambition and his avarice that he has opposed so many intrigues to the efforts made for the restoration of peace."

[3] "During the interval between the liberation of Marlborough and the death of Queen Mary, we find him, in conjunction with Godolphin and many others, maintaining a clandestine intercourse with the exiled family. On the 2d May 1694, only a few days before he offered his services to King William, he communicated to James, through Colonel Sackville, intelligence of an expedition then fitting out, for the purpose of destroying the fleet in Brest harbour."—COXE'S Marlborough, i. 75. "Marlborough's conduct to the Stuarts," says Lord Mahon, "was a foul blot on his memory. To the last he persevered in those deplorable intrigues. In October 1713, he protested to a Jacobite agent he would rather have his hands cut off than do any thing to prejudice King James."—MAHON, i. 21-22.

[4] "Galli turpe esse ducunt frumentum manu quaerere; itaque armati alienos agros demetunt."—CAESAR.

[5] Despatches, 21st September 1702.

[6] Despatches, 23d October 1702.

[7] Memorial, 24th August 1703.—Despatches, i. 165.

[8] Marlborough was much chagrined at being interrupted in his meditated decisive operations by the States-General, on this occasion. On the 6th September, he wrote to them:—"Vos Hautes Puissances jugeront bien par le camp que nous venons de prendre, qu'on n'a pas voulu se resoudre a tenter les lignes. J'ai ete convaincu de plus en plus, depuis l'honneur que j'ai eu de vous ecrire, par les avis que j'ai recu journellement de la situation des ennemis, que cette entreprise n'etait pas seulement practicable, mais meme qu'on pourrait en esperer tout le succes que je m'etais propose: enfin l'occasion en est perdue, et je souhaite de tout mon coeur qu'elle n'ait aucune facheuse suite, et qu'on n'ait pas lieu de s'en repentir quand il sera trop tard."—MARLBOROUGH aux Etats Generaux; 6 Septembre 1703. Despatches, i. 173.

[9] "Ce matin j'ai appris par une estafette que les ennemis avaient joint l'Electeur de Baviere avec 26,000 hommes, et que M. de Villeroi a passe la Meuse avec la meilleure partie de l'armee des Pays Bas, et qu'il poussait sa marche en toute diligence vers la Moselle, de sorte que, sans un prompt secours, l'empire court risque d'etre entierement abime."—MARLBOROUGH, aux Etats Generaux; Bonn, 2 Mai 1704. Despatches, i. 274.

[10] The following was the composition of these two corps, which will show of what a motley array the Allied army was composed:—

Left wing, Marlborough. Batt. Squad. English, 14 14 Dutch, 14 22 Hessians, 7 7 Hanoverians, 13 25 Danes, 0 22 — — 48 86

Right wing, Eugene. Batt. Squad. Danes, 7 0 Prussians, 11 15 Austrians, 0 24 Of the Empire, 0 35 — — 18 74

[11] This pencil note is still preserved at Blenheim.

[12] French—Bat. 82. Squad. 146. Allies—Bat. 66. Squad. 160. At 500 to a battalion, and 150 to a squadron, this gives a superiority of 5900 to the French.

[13] Marl., Desp. i. 402-409.

[14] Cardonnell, Desp. to Lord Harley, 25th Sept. 1704, Desp. i. 410. By intercepted letters it appeared the enemy admitted a loss of 40,000 men before they reached the Rhine. Marlborough to the Duke of Shrewsbury, 28th Aug. 1704, Desp. i. 439.

[15] The holograph letter of the Emperor, announcing this honour, said, with equal truth and justice—"I am induced to assign to your highness a place among the princes of the empire, in order that it may universally appear how much I acknowledge myself and the empire to be indebted to the Queen of Great Britain, who sent her arms as far as Bavaria at a time when the affairs of the empire, by the defection of the Bavarians to the French, most needed that assistance and support:—And to your Grace, likewise, to whose prudence and courage, together with the bravery of the forces fighting under your command, the two victories lately indulged by Providence to the Allies are principally attributed, not only by the voice of fame, but by the general officers in my army who had their share in your labour and your glory."—THE EMPEROR LEOPOLD TO MARLBOROUGH, 28th August 1704.—Desp. i. 538.

[16] Marlborough to Mr Secretary Harley, 16th Dec. 1704.—Desp. i. 556.

[17] Marlborough to Mr Hill at Turin, 6th Feb. 1705.—Desp. i. 591.

[18] Lord Chesterfield's Letters, Lord Mahon's edition, i. 221-222.


No. II.



In offering to the public the following specimens of Pushkin's poetry in an English dress, the translator considers it part of his duty to make a few remarks. The number and extent of these observations, he will, of course, confine within the narrowest limits consistent with his important duty of making his countrymen acquainted with the style and character of Russia's greatest poet; a duty which he would certainly betray, were he to omit to explain the chief points indispensable for the true understanding, not only of the extracts which he has selected as a sample of his author's productions, but of the general tone and character of those productions, viewed as a whole.

The translator wishes it therefore to be distinctly understood that he by no means intends to offer, in the character of a complete poetical portrait, the few pieces contained in these pages, but rather as an attempt, however imperfect, to daguerreotype—by means of the most faithful translation consistent with ease—one of the various expressions of Pushkin's literary physiognomy; to represent one phase of his developement.

That physiognomy is a very flexible and a varying one; Pushkin (considered only as a poet) must be allowed to have attained very high eminence in various walks of his sublime art; his works are very numerous, and as diverse in their form as in their spirit; he is sometimes a romantic, sometimes a legendary, sometimes an epic, sometimes a satiric, and sometimes a dramatic poet;—in most, if not in all, of these various lines he has attained the highest eminence as yet recognised by his countrymen; and, consequently, whatever impression may be made upon our readers by the present essay at a transfusion of his works into the English language, will be necessarily a very imperfect one. In the prosecution of the arduous but not unprofitable enterprise which the translator set before himself three years ago—viz. the communication to his countrymen of some true ideas of the scope and peculiar character of Russian literature—he met with so much discouragement in the unfavourable predictions of such of his friends as he consulted with respect to the feasibility of his project, that he may be excused for some degree of timidity in offering the results of his labours to an English public. So great, indeed, was that timidity, that not even the very flattering reception given to his two first attempts at prose translation, has entirely succeeded in destroying it; and he prefers, on the present occasion, to run the risk of giving only a partial and imperfect reflection of Pushkin's intellectual features, to the danger that might attend a more ambitious and elaborate version of any of the poet's longer works.

Pushkin is here presented solely in his lyrical character; and, it is trusted, that, in the selection of the compositions to be translated—selections made from a very large number of highly meritorious works—due attention has been paid not only to the intrinsic beauty and merit of the pieces chosen, but also to the important consideration which renders indispensable (in cases where we find an embarras de richesses, and where the merit is equal) the adoption of such specimens as would possess the greatest degree of novelty for an English reader.

The task of translating all Pushkin's poetry is certainly too dignified a one, not to excite our ambition; and it is meditated, in the event of the accompanying versions finding in England a degree of approbation sufficiently marked to indicate a desire for more specimens, to extend our present labours so far, as to admit passages of the most remarkable merit from Pushkin's longer works; and, perhaps, even complete versions of some of the more celebrated. Should, therefore, the British public give the fiat of its approbation, we would still further contribute to its knowledge of the great Russian author, by publishing, for example, some of the more remarkable places in the poem of "Evgenii Oniegin," the charming "Gypsies," scenes and passages from the tragedy of "Boris Godunoff," the "Prisoner of the Caucasus," "Mazepa," &c. &c.

With respect to the present or lyrical specimens, we shall take the liberty to make a few remarks, having reference to the principles which have governed the translator in the execution of the versions; and we shall afterwards preface each poem with a few words of notice, such as may appear to be rendered necessary either by the subject or by the form of the composition itself.

Of the poetical merit of these translations, considered as English poems, their writer has no very exalted idea; of their faithfulness as versions, on the contrary, he has so deep a conviction, that he regrets exceedingly the fact, that the universal ignorance prevailing in England of the Russian language, will prevent the possibility of that important merit—strict fidelity—being tested by the British reader. Let the indulgent, therefore, remember, if we have in any case left an air of stiffness and constraint but too perceptible in our work, that this fault is to be considered as a sacrifice of grace at the altar of truth. It would have been not only possible, but easy, to have spun a collection of easy rhymes, bearing a general resemblance to the vigorous and passionate poetry of Pushkin; but this would not have been a translation, and a translation it was our object to produce. Bowring's Russian Anthology (not to speak of his other volumes of translated poetry) is a melancholy example of the danger of this attractive but fatal system; while the names of Cary, of Hay, and of Merivale, will remain as a bright encouragement to those who have sufficient strength of mind to prefer the "strait and narrow way" of masterly translation, to the "flowery paths of dalliance" so often trodden by the paraphraser.

In all cases, the metre of the original, the musical movement and modulation, has, as far as the translator's ear enabled him to judge, been followed with minute exactness, and at no inconsiderable expense, in some cases, of time and labour. It would be superfluous, therefore, to state, that the number of lines in the English version is always the same as in the original. It has been our study, wherever the differences in the structure of the two languages would permit, to include the same thoughts in the same number of lines. There is also a peculiarity of the Russian language which frequently rendered our task still more arduous; and the conquest of this difficulty has, we trust, conferred upon us the right to speak of our triumph without incurring the charge of vanity. We allude to the great abundance in the Russian of double terminations, and the consequent recurrence of double rhymes, a peculiarity common also to the Italian and Spanish versification, and one which certainly communicates to the versification of those countries a character so marked and peculiar, that no translator would be justified in neglecting it. As it would be impossible, without the use of Russian types, to give our readers an example of this from the writings of Pushkin, and as they would be unable to pronounce such a quotation even if they saw it, we will give an illustration of what we mean from the Spanish and the Italian.

The first is from the fourth book of the Galatea of Cervantes—

"Venga a mirar a la pastora mia Quien quisiere contar de gente en gente Que vio otro sol, que daba luz al dia Mas claro, que el que sale del oriente," &c.;

and the second from Chiabrera's sublime Ode on the Siege of Vienna

"E fino a quanto inulti Sian, Signore, i tuoi servi? E fino a quanto Dei barbarici insulti Orgogliosa n'andra l'empia baldanza? Dov'e, dov'e, gran Dio, l'antico vanto Di tua alta possanza?" &c. &c.

In the two passages here quoted, it will be observed that all the lines end with two syllables, in both of which the rhyme is engaged; and an English version of the above verses, however faithful in other respects, which should omit to use the same species of double termination, and content itself with the monosyllable rhyme, would indubitably lose some of the harmony of the original. These double rhymes are far from abundant in our monosyllabic language; but we venture to affirm, that their conscientious employment would be found so valuable, as to amply repay the labour and difficulty attending their search.

We trust that our readers will pardon the apparent technicality of these remarks, for the sake of the consideration which induced us to make them. In all translation, even in the best, there is so great a loss of spirit and harmony, that the conscientious labourer in this most difficult and ungrateful art, should never neglect even the most trifling precaution that tends to hinder a still further depreciation of the gold of his original; not to mention the principle, that whatever it is worth our while to do at all, it is assuredly worth our while to do as well as we can.

* * * * *

The first specimen of Pushkin's lyric productions which we shall present to our countrymen, "done into English," as Jacob Tonson was wont to phrase it, "by an eminent hand," is a production considered by the poet's critics to possess the very highest degree of merit in its peculiar style. We have mentioned some details respecting the nature and history of the Imperial Lyceum of Tsarskoe Selo, in which Pushkin was educated, and we have described the peculiar intensity of feeling with which all who quitted its walls looked back upon the happy days they had spent within them, and the singular ardour and permanency of the friendships contracted beneath its roof. On the anniversary of the foundation (by the Emperor Alexander) of the institution, it is customary for all the "old Lyceans" to dine together, in the same way as the Eton, Harrow, or Rugby men are accustomed to unite once a-year in honour of their school. On many of these occasions Pushkin contributed to the due celebration of the event by producing poems of various lengths, and different degrees of merit; we give here the best of these. It was written during the poet's residence in the government of Pskoff, and will be found, we think, a most beautiful and touching embodiment of such feelings as would be suggested in the mind of one obliged to be absent from a ceremony of the nature in question. Of the comrades whose names Pushkin has immortalized in these lines, it is only necessary to specify that the first, Korsakoff, distinguished among his youthful comrades for his musical talents, met with an early death in Italy; a circumstance to which the poet has touchingly alluded. Matiushkin is now an admiral of distinction, and is commanding the Russian squadron in the Black Sea. Of the two whom he mentions as having passed the anniversary described in this poem (October 19, 1825) in his company, the first was Pustchin, since dead, and the second the Prince Gortchakoff, whom he met by accident, travelling in the neighbourhood of his (the poet's) seclusion. Our readers cannot fail, we think, to be struck with the beautiful passage consecrated to his friendship with Delvig; and the only other personal allusion which seems to stand in need of explanation, is that indicated by the name Wilhelm, towards the end of the poem. This is the Christian name of his friend Kuechelbecher, since dead, and whose family name was hardly harmonious enough to enter Pushkin's line, and was therefore omitted on the Horatian principle—"versu quod dicere nolim." We now hasten to present the lines.

OCTOBER 19, 1825.

The woods have doff'd their garb of purply gold; The faded fields with silver frost are steaming; Through the pale clouds the sun, reluctant gleaming, Behind the circling hills his disk hath roll'd. Blaze brightly, hearth! my cell is dark and lonely: And thou, O Wine, thou friend of Autumn chill, Pour through my heart a joyous glow—if only One moment's brief forgetfulness of ill!

Ay, I am very sad; no friend is here With whom to pledge a long unlooked-for meeting, To press his hand in eagerness of greeting, And wish him life and joy for many a year. I drink alone; and Fancy's spells awaken— With a vain industry—the voice of friends: No well-known footstep strikes mine ear forsaken, No well-beloved face my heart attends.

I drink alone; ev'n now, on Neva's shore, Haply my name on friendly lips has trembled.... Round that bright board, say, are ye all assembled? Are there no other names ye count no more? Has our good custom been betray'd by others? Whom hath the cold world lured from ye away? Whose voice is silent in the call of brothers? Who is not come? Who is not with you? Say!

He is not come, he of the curled hair, He of the eye of fire and sweet-voiced numbers: Beneath Italia's myrtle-groves he slumbers; He slumbers well, although no friend was there, Above the lonely grave where he is sleeping, A Russian line to trace with pious hand, That some sad wanderer might read it, weeping— Some Russian, wandering in a foreign land.

Art thou too seated in the friendly ring, O restless Pilgrim? Haply now thou ridest O'er the long tropic-wave; or now abidest 'Mid seas with ice eternal glimmering! Thrice happy voyage!... With a jest thou leapedst From the Lyceum's threshold to thy bark, Thenceforth thy path aye on the main thou keepedst, O child beloved of wave and tempest dark!

Well hast thou kept, 'neath many a stranger sky, The loves, the hopes of Childhood's golden hour: And old Lyceum scenes, by memory's power, 'Mid lonely waves have ris'n before thine eye; Thou wav'dst thy hand to us from distant ocean, Ever thy faithful heart its treasure bore; "A long farewell!" thou criedst, with fond emotion, "Unless our fate hath doom'd we meet no more."

The bond that binds us, friends, is fair and true! Destructless as the soul, and as eternal— Careless and free, unshakable, fraternal, Beneath the Muses' friendly shade it grew. We are the same: wherever Fate may guide us, Or Fortune lead—wherever we may go, The world is aye a foreign land beside us; Our fatherland is Tsarkoe Selo!

From clime to clime, pursued by storm and stress, In Destiny's dark nets long time I wrestled, Until on Friendship's lap I fluttering nestled, And bent my weary head for her caress.... With wistful prayers, with visionary grieving, With all the trustful hope of early years, I sought new friends with zeal and new believing; But bitter was their greeting to mine ears.

And even here, in this lone dwelling-place Of desert-storm, of cold, and desolation, There was prepared for me a consolation: Three of ye here, O friends! did I embrace. Thou enteredst first the poet's house of sorrow, O Pustchin! thanks be with thee, thanks, and praise Ev'n exile's bitter day from thee could borrow The light and joy of old Lyceum-days.

Thee too, my Gortchakoff; although thy name Was Fortune's spell, though her cold gleam was on thee, Yet from thy noble thoughts she never won thee: To honour and thy fiends thou'rt still the same. Far different paths of life to us were fated, Far different roads before our feet were traced, In a by-road, but for a moment mated, We met by chance, and brotherly embraced.

When sorrow's flood o'erwhelmd me, like a sea; And like an orphan, houseless, poor, unfriended, My head beneath the storm I sadly bended, Seer of the Aonian maids! I look'd for thee: Thou camest—lazy child of inspiration, My Delvig; and thy voice awaken'd straight In this numb'd heart the glow of consolation; And I was comforted, and bless'd my fate.

Even in infancy within us burn'd The light of song—the poet-spell had bound us; Even in infancy there flitted round us Two Muses, whose sweet glamour soon we learn'd. Even then I loved applause—that vain delusion!— Thou sang'st but for thy Muse, and for thy heart; I squander'd gifts and life with rash profusion, Thou cherishedst thy gifts in peace apart.

The worship of the Muse no care beseems; The Beautiful is calm, and high, and holy; Youth is a cunning counsellor—of folly!— Lulling our sense with vain and empty dreams.... Upon the past we gaze—the same, yet other— And find no trace.—We wake, alas! too late. Was it not so with us, Delvig, my brother?— My brother in our Muse as in our fate!

'Tis time, 'tis time! Let us once more be free! The world's not worth this torturing resistance! Beneath retirement's shade will glide existence— Thee, my belated friend—I wait for thee! Come! with the flame of an enchanted story Tradition's lore shall wake, our hearts to move; We'll talk of Caucasus, of war, of glory, Of Schiller, and of genius, and of love.

'Tis time no less for me ... Friends, feast amain! Behold, a joyful meeting is before us; Think of the poet's prophecy; for o'er us A year shall pass, and we shall meet again! My vision's covenant shall have fulfilling; A year—and I shall be with ye once more! Oh, then, what shouts, what hand-grasps warm and thrilling! What goblets skyward heaved with merry roar!

Unto our Union consecrated be The first we drain—fill higher yet, and higher! Bless it, O Muse, in strains of raptured fire! Bless it! All hail, Lyceum! hail to thee!— To those who led our youth with care and praises, Living and dead! the next we grateful fill; Let each, as to his lips the cup he raises, The good remember, and forget the ill.

Feast, then, while we are here, while yet we may: Hour after hour, alas! Time thins our numbers; One pines afar, one in the coffin slumbers; Days fly; Fate looks on us; we fade away; Bending insensibly to earth, and chilling, We near our starting-place with many a groan.... Whose lot will be in old age to be filling, On this Lyceum-day, his cup alone?

Unhappy friend! Amid a stranger race, Like guest intrusive, that superfluous lingers, He'll think of us that day, with quivering fingers Hiding the tears that wet his wrinkled face.... O, may he then at least, in mournful gladness, Pass with his cup this day for ever dear, As even I, in exile and in sadness, Yet with a fleeting joy, have pass'd it here!

* * * * *

In the following lines, the poet has endeavoured to reproduce the impressions made upon his mind by the mountain scenery of the Caucasus; scenery which he had visited with such rapture, and to which his imagination returned with undiminished delight. It has been our aim to endeavour, in our translation, to give an echo, however feeble and imperfect, of the wild and airy freedom of the versification which distinguishes these spirited stanzas. The picture which they contain, rough, sketchy, and unfinished, as it may appear, bears every mark of being a faithful copy from nature—a study taken on the spot; and will therefore, we trust, be not unacceptable to our readers, as calculated to give an idea not only of the vigorous and rapid handling of the poet's pencil, but also of the wild and sublime region—the Switzerland of Russia—which he has here essayed to portray. Of the two furious and picturesque torrents which Pushkin has mentioned in this short poem, Terek is certainly too well known to our geographical readers to need any description of its course from the snow-covered peak of Darial to the Caspian; and the bold comparison in the last stanza will doubtless be found, though perhaps somewhat exaggerated, not deficient in a kind of fierce AEschylean energy, perfectly in character with the violent and thundering course of the torrent itself:—


Beneath me the peaks of the Caucasus lie, My gaze from the snow-bordered cliff I am bending; From her sun-lighted eyry the Eagle ascending Floats movelessly on in a line with mine eye. I see the young torrent's first leap towards the ocean, And the cliff-cradled lawine essay its first motion.

Beneath me the clouds in their silentness go, The cataract through them in thunder down-dashing, Far beneath them bare peaks in the sunny ray flashing, Weak moss and dry shrubs I can mark yet below. Dark thickets still lower—green meadows are blooming, Where the throstle is singing, and reindeer are roaming.

Here man, too, has nested his hut, and the flocks On the long grassy slopes in their quiet are feeding, And down to the valley the shepherd is speeding, Where Aragva gleams out from her wood-crested rocks. And there in his crags the poor robber is hiding, And Terek in anger is wrestling and chiding.

Like a fierce young Wild Beast, how he bellows and raves, Like that Beast from his cage when his prey he espieth; 'Gainst the bank, like a Wrestler, he struggleth and plyeth, And licks at the rock with his ravening waves. In vain, thou wild River! dumb cliffs are around thee, And sternly and grimly their bondage hath bound thee.

* * * * *

To those who measure the value of a poem, less by the pretension and ambitiousness of its form, than by the completeness of its execution and the skill with which the leading idea is developed, we think that the graceful little production which we are now about to present to the reader, will possess very considerable interest. It is, it is true, no more important a thing than a mere song; but the naturalness and unity of the fundamental thought, and the happy employment of what is undoubtedly one of the most effective artifices at the command of the lyric writer—we mean repetition—render the following lines worthy of the universal admiration which they have obtained in the original, and may not be devoid of charm in the translation:—

TO * * *

Yes! I remember well our meeting, When first thou dawnedst on my sight, Like some fair phantom past me fleeting, Some nymph of purity and light.

By weary agonies surrounded, 'Mid toil, 'mid mean and noisy care, Long in mine ear thy soft voice sounded, Long dream'd I of thy features fair.

Years flew; Fate's blast blew ever stronger, Scattering mine early dreams to air, And thy soft voice I heard no longer— No longer saw thy features fair.

In exile's silent desolation Slowly dragg'd on the days for me— Orphan'd of life, of inspiration, Of tears, of love, of deity.

I woke—once more my heart was beating— Once more thou dawnedst on my sight, Like some fair phantom past me fleeting, Some nymph of purity and light.

My heart has found its consolation— All has revived once more for me— And vanish'd life, and inspiration, And tears, and love, and deity.

* * * * *

The versification of the following little poem is founded on a system which Pushkin seems to have looked upon with peculiar favour, as he has employed the same metrical arrangement in by far the largest proportion of his poetical works. So gracefully and so easily, indeed, has he wielded this metre, and with so flexible, so delicate, and so masterly a hand, that we could not refrain from attempting to imitate it in our English version; for we considered that it is impossible to say how much of the peculiar character of a poet's writings depends upon the colouring, or rather the touch—if we may borrow a phrase from the vocabulary of the critic in painting—of the metre. Undoubtedly a poet is the best judge not only of the kind, but of the degree of the effect which he wishes to produce upon his reader; and there may be, between the thoughts which he desires to embody, and the peculiar harmonies in which he may determine to clothe those thoughts, analogies and sympathies too delicate for our grosser ears; or, at least, if not too subtle and refined for our ears to perceive, yet far too delicate for us to define, or exactly to appreciate. Moved by this reasoning, we have always preferred to follow, as nearly as we could, the exact versification, and even the most minute varieties of tone and metrical accentuation. Inattention to this point is undoubtedly the stumbling-block of translators in general; of the dangerous consequences of such inattention, it is not necessary to give any elaborate proof. How much, we may ask, does not the poetry of Dante, for instance, lose, by being despoiled of that great source of its peculiar effect springing from the employment of the terza rima! It is in vain to say, that it is enormously difficult to produce the terza rima in English. To translate the "gran padre Alighier" into English worthily, the terza rima must be employed, whatever be the obstacles presented by the dissimilarities existing between the Italian and English languages.


"Procul este, profani!"

A Poet o'er his glowing lyre A wild and careless hand had flung. The base, cold crowd, that nought admire, Stood round, responseless to his fire, With heavy eye and mocking tongue.

"And why so loudly is he singing?" ('Twas thus that idiot mob replied,) "His music in our ears is ringing; But whither flows that music's tide? What doth it teach? His art is madness! He moves our soul to joy or sadness. A wayward necromantic spell! Free as the breeze his music floweth, But fruitless, too, as breeze that bloweth, What doth it profit, Poet, tell?"

POET.—Cease, idiot, cease thy loathsome cant! Day-labourer, slave of toil and want! I hate thy babble vain and hollow. Thou art a worm, no child of day: Thy god is Profit—thou wouldst weigh By pounds the Belvidere Apollo. Gain—gain alone to thee is sweet. The marble is a god! ... what of it Thou count'st a pie-dish far above it— A dish wherein to cook thy meat!

MOB.—But, if thou be'st the Elect of Heaven, The gift that God has largely given, Thou shouldst then for our good impart, To purify thy brother's heart. Yes, we are base, and vile, and hateful, Cruel, and shameless, and ungrateful— Impotent and heartless tools, Slaves, and slanderers, and fools. Come then, if charity doth sway thee, Chase from our hearts the viper-brood; However stern, we will obey thee; Yes, we will listen, and be good!

POET.—Begone, begone! What common feeling Can e'er exist 'twixt ye and me? Go on, your souls in vices steeling; The lyre's sweet voice is dumb to ye: Go! foul as reek of charnel-slime, In every age, in every clime, Ye aye have felt, and yet ye feel, Scourge, dungeon, halter, axe, and wheel. Go, hearts of sin and heads of trifling, From your vile streets, so foul and stifling, They sweep the dirt—no useless trade! But when, their robes with ordure staining, Altar and sacrifice disdaining, Did e'er your priests ply broom and spade? 'Twas not for life's base agitation That we were born—for gain nor care— No—we were born for inspiration, For love, for music, and for prayer!

* * * * *

The ballad entitled "The Black Shawl" has obtained a degree of popularity among the author's countrymen, for which the slightness of the composition renders it in some measure difficult to account. It may, perhaps, be explained by the circumstance, that the verses are in the original exceedingly well adapted to be sung—one of the highest merits of this class of poetry—for all ancient ballads, in every language throughout the world, were specifically intended to be sung or chanted; and all modern productions, therefore, written in imitation of these ancient compositions—the first lispings of the Muse—can only be successful in proportion as they possess the essential and characteristic quality of being capable of being sung. Independently of the highly musical arrangement of the rhythm, which, in the original, distinguishes "The Black Shawl," the following verses cannot be denied the merit of relating, in a few rapid and energetic measures, a simple and striking story of Oriental love, vengeance, and remorse:—


Like a madman I gaze on a raven-black shawl; Remorse, fear, and anguish—this heart knows them all.

When believing and fond, in the spring-time of youth, I loved a Greek maiden with tenderest truth.

That fair one caress'd me—my life! oh, 'twas bright, But it set—that fair day—in a hurricane night.

One day I had bidden young guests, a gay crew, When sudden there knock'd at my gate a vile Jew.

"With guests thou art feasting," he whisperingly said, "And she hath betray'd thee—thy young Grecian maid."

I cursed him, and gave him good guerdon of gold, And call'd me a slave that was trusty and bold.

"Ho! my charger—my charger!" we mount, we depart, And soft pity whisper'd in vain at my heart.

On the Greek maiden's threshold in frenzy I stood— I was faint—and the sun seem'd as darken'd with blood:

By the maiden's lone window I listen'd, and there I beheld an Armenian caressing the fair.

The light darken'd round me—then flash'd my good blade.... The minion ne'er finish'd the kiss that betray'd.

On the corse of the minion in fury I danced, Then silent and pale at the maiden I glanced.

I remember the prayers and the red-bursting stream.... Thus perish'd the maiden—thus perish'd my dream.

This raven-black shawl from her dead brow I tore— On its fold from my dagger I wiped off the gore.

The mists of the evening arose, and my slave Hurl'd the corses of both in the Danube's dark wave.

Since then, I kiss never the maid's eyes of light— Since then, I know never the soft joys of night.

Like a madman I gaze on the raven-black shawl; Remorse, fear, and anguish—this heart knows them all!

* * * * *

The pretty lines which we are now about to offer, are rather remarkable as being written in the manner of the ancient national songs of Russia, than for any thing very new in the ideas, or very striking in the expression. They possess, however—at least in the original—a certain charm arising from simplicity and grace.


Where is our rose, friends? Tell if ye may! Faded the rose, friends, The Dawn-child of Day. Ah, do not say, Such is youth's fleetness! Ah, do not say, Thus fades life's sweetness! No, rather say, I mourn thee, rose—farewell! Now to the lily-bell Flit we away.

* * * * *

Among the thousand-and-one compositions, in all languages, founded upon the sublime theme of the downfall and death of Napoleon, there are, we think, very few which have surpassed, in weight of thought, in splendour of diction, and in grandeur of versification, Pushkin's noble lyric upon this subject. The mighty share which Russia had in overthrowing the gigantic power of the greatest of modern conquerors, could not fail of affording to a Russian poet a peculiar source of triumphant yet not too exulting inspiration; and Pushkin, in that portion of the following ode in which he is led more particularly to allude to the part played by his country in the sublime drama, whose catastrophe was the ruin of Bonaparte's blood-cemented empire, has given undeniable proof of his possessing that union of magnanimity and patriotism, which is not the meanest characteristic of elevated genius. While the poet gives full way to the triumphant feelings so naturally inspired by the exploits of Russian valour, and by the patient fortitude of Russian policy, he wisely and nobly abstains on indulging in any of those outbursts of gratified revenge and national hatred which deform the pages of almost all—poets, and even historians—who have written on this colossal subject.


The wondrous destiny is ended, The mighty light is quench'd and dead; In storm and darkness hath descended Napoleon's sun, so bright and dread. The captive King hath burst his prison— The petted child of Victory; And for the Exile hath arisen The dawning of Posterity.

O thou, of whose immortal story Earth aye the memory shall keep, Now, 'neath the shadow of thy glory Rest, rest, amid the lonely deep! A grave sublime ... nor nobler ever Couldst thou have found ... for o'er thine urn The Nations' hate is quench'd for ever, And Glory's beacon-ray shall burn.

There was a time thine eagles tower'd Resistless o'er the humbled world; There was a time the empires cower'd Before the bolt thy hand had hurl'd: The standards, thy proud will obeying, Flapp'd wrath and woe on every wind— A few short years, and thou wert laying Thine iron yoke on human kind.

* * * * *

And France, on glories vain and hollow, Had fixed her frenzy-glance of flame— Forgot sublimer hopes, to follow Thee, Conqueror, thee—her dazzling shame! Thy legions' swords with blood were drunken— All sank before thine echoing tread; And Europe fell—for sleep was sunken, The sleep of death—upon her head.

* * * * *

Thou mightst have judged us, but thou wouldst not! What dimm'd thy reason's piercing light, That Russian hearts thou understoodst not, From thine heroic spirit's height? Moscow's immortal conflagration Foreseeing not, thou deem'dst that we Would kneel for peace, a conquer'd nation— Thou knew'st the Russ ... too late for thee!

Up, Russia! Queen of hundred battles, Remember now thine ancient right!

* * * * *

Blaze, Moscow!—Far shall shine thy light! Lo! other times are dawning o'er us: Be blotted out, our short disgrace! Swell, Russia, swell the battle chorus! War! is the watchword of our race!

Lo! how the baffled leader seizeth, With fetter'd hands, his Iron Crown— A dread abyss his spirit freezeth! Down, down he goes, to ruin down! And Europe's armaments are driven, Like mist, along the blood-stain'd snow— That snow shall melt 'neath summer's heaven, With the last footstep of the foe.

'Twas a wild storm of fear and wonder, When Europe woke and burst her chain; The accursed race, like scatter'd thunder, After the tyrant fled amain. And Nemesis a doom hath spoken, The Mighty hears that doom with dread: The wrongs thou'st done shall now be wroken, Tyrant, upon thy guilty head!

Thou shalt redeem thy usurpation, Thy long career of war and crime, In exile's eating desolation, Beneath a far and stranger clime. And oft the midnight sail shall wander By that lone isle, thy prison-place, And oft a stranger there shall ponder, And o'er that stone a pardon trace,

Where mused the Exile, oft recalling The well-known clang of sword and lance, The yells, Night's icy ear appalling; His own blue sky—the sky of France; Where, in his loneliness forgetting His broken sword, his ruin'd throne, With bitter grief, with vain regretting, On his fair Boy he mused alone.

But shame, and curses without number, Upon that reptile head be laid, Whose insults now shall vex the slumber Of him—that sad discrowned shade! No! for his trump the signal sounded, Her glorious race when Russia ran; His hand, 'mid strife and battle, founded Eternal liberty for man!

* * * * *

The next specimen for which we have to request the indulgence of our readers, is a little composition of a very different and much less ambitious character. The idea is simple enough, and not, we think, entirely devoid of originality—the primary object of every translator in the selection of the subjects on which he is to exercise his dexterity.


See, on yon rock, a maiden's form, Far o'er the wave a white robe flashing, Around, before the blackening storm, On the loud beach the billows dashing; Along the waves, now red, now pale, The lightning-glare incessant gleameth; Whirling and fluttering in the gale, The snowy robe incessant streameth; Fair is that sea in blackening storm, And fair that sky with lightnings riven, But fairer far that maiden form, Than wave, or flash, or stormy heaven!

* * * * *

We now come to one of the most remarkable lyric productions of our Poet's genius, the "General;" and in order that our readers may be enabled to understand and appreciate this exquisite little poem, we shall preface it with a few remarks of an explanatory character; as the details, at least, of the events upon which it is founded may not be so generally known in England as they are in Russia. Our English readers, however, are doubtless sufficiently familiar with the history of the great campaign of the year 1812, which led to the burning of Moscow, and to the consequent annihilation of the mighty army which Napoleon led to perish in the snows of Russia, to remember one remarkable episode connected with that most important campaign. They remember that one of the Russian armies was placed under the command of Field-marshal Barclay de Tolly, a general descended from an ancient Scottish family which had been settled for some generations in Russia, but who was in every respect to be considered as a native Russian, being born a subject of the Tsar, and having, during a long life of service in the Russian army, gradually reached the highest military rank, and acquired a well-earned and universal reputation as an able strategist and a brave man. The mode of operations determined on at the beginning of this most momentous struggle, and persevered in throughout by the Russians, with a patience and steadiness no less admirable than the wisdom of the combinations on which they were founded, was a purely defensive system of tactics. The event amply demonstrated the soundness of the principles upon which those operations were based; for while Napoleon was gradually attracted into the interior of the country by armies which perpetually retired before him without giving him the opportunity of coming to a general action, the autumn was gradually passing away, and the flames of Moscow only served to light up, for the French army, the beginning of their hopeless retreat through a country now totally laid waste, and covered with the snows of a Russian winter. This mode of operations, however, was by no means likely to please the population of Russia, infuriated by the long unaccustomed presence of a hostile army within their sacred frontier, and worked up by all the circumstances of the invasion to the highest pitch of patriotic enthusiasm. Unable to appreciate the value of what must have appeared to them a timid and pusillanimous policy, they overwhelmed Barclay de Tolly with violent accusations of cowardice, and even of treachery; rendered the more plausible to the mind of the ignorant, by the circumstance of their object being a foreigner—or at least of foreign blood. So violent ultimately became these accusations, that although the Field-marshal continued to enjoy the highest confidence and esteem of his sovereign, it was found expedient to allow him to resign the chief command, in which he was succeeded by Kutuzoff. Barclay de Tolly, during the greater part of the campaign, fought as a simple general of division, in which character (as Pushkin describes) he took part in the great battle of Borodino.

Barclay must still be considered as one of those distinguished persons to whose memory justice has never been entirely done; and to do this justice was Pushkin's generous task in the noble lines which follow these remarks. No traveller has ever visited the winter palace of St Petersburg without having been struck with the celebrated "Hall of Marshals," which forms one of its most imposing features. In this magnificent room are placed the portraits (chiefly painted by Dawe, an English artist, who passed the greater part of his life in Russia) of the Russian generals who figured in that great campaign; and among them is to be found, of course, the "counterfeit presentment" of Barclay de Tolly, painted, as the field-marshals are in every case in this gallery of portraits, at full length. With respect to the versification of this and several other poems which we have selected, the English reader will not perhaps at first remark that it is nothing more than the measure used by old Drayton in the Polyolbion, and one in which a great deal of the earlier English poetry is written. It is very favourite measure of our Russian poet, who has, however, increased, in some degree, its difficulty for an English versifier, by introducing a great number of double terminations. It will be found, indeed, that these double rhymes are as numerous as the single or monosyllabic ones.


In the Tsar's palace stands a hall right nobly builded; Its walls are neither carved, nor velvet-hung, nor gilded, Nor here beneath the glass doth pearl or diamond glow; But wheresoe'er ye look, around, above, below, The quick-eyed Painter's hand, now bold, now softly tender, From his free pencil here hath shed a magic splendour. Here are no village nymphs, no dewy forest-glades, No fauns with giddy cups, no snowy-bosom'd maids, No hunting-scene, no dance; but cloaks, and plumes, and sabres, And faces sternly still, and dark with hero-labours. The Painter's art hath here in glittering crowd portray'd The chiefs who Russia's line to victory array'd; Chiefs in that great Campaign attired in fadeless glory Of the year Twelve, that aye shall live in Russian story. Here oft in musing mood my silent footstep strays, Before these well-known forms I love to stop and gaze, And dream I hear their voice, 'mid battle-thunder ringing. Some of them are no more; and some, with faces flinging Upon the canvass still Youth's fresh and rosy bloom, Are wrinkled now and old, and bending to the tomb The laurel-wreathed brow. But chiefly One doth win me 'Mid the stern throng. With new thoughts swelling in me Before that One I stand, and cannot lightly brook To take mine eye from him. And still, the more I look, The more within my breast is bitterness awaked.

He's painted at full length. His brow, austere and naked, Shines like a fleshless skull, and on it ye may mark A mighty weight of woe. Around him—all is dark; Behind, a tented field. Tranquil and stern he raises His mournful eye, and with contemptuous calmness gazes. Be't that the artist here embodied his own thought, When on the canvass thus the lineaments he caught, Or guided and inspired by some unknown Possession— I know not: Dawe has drawn the man with this expression.

Unhappy chief! Alas, thy cup was full of gall; Unto a foreign land thou sacrificedst all. The savage mob's dull glance of hate thou calmly balkedst, With thy great thoughts alone and silently thou walkedst; The people could not brook thy foreign-sounding name, Pursued thee with its yell, and piled thy head with shame, And by thy very hand though saved from ill and danger, Mock'd at thy sacred age—thou hoary-headed stranger! And even he, whose soul could read thy noble heart, To please that idiot mob, blamed thee with cruel art.... And long with patient faith, defying doubt and terror, Thou heldest on unmoved, spite of a people's error; And, e'er thy race was run, wert forced at last to yield The well-earned laurel-wreath of many a bloody field, Fame, power, and deep-thought plans; and with thy sword beside thee Within a regiment's ranks, alone, obscure, to hide thee, And there, a veteran chief, like some young sentinel, When first upon his ear rings the ball's whistling knell, Thou rushedst 'mid the fire, a warrior's death desiring— In vain!—

* * * * *

O men! O wretched race! O worthy tears and laughter! Priests of the moment's god, ne'er thinking of hereafter! How oft among ye, men! a mighty one is seen, Whom the blind age pursues with insults mad and mean, But gazing on whose face, some future generation Shall feel, as I do now, regret and admiration!



The Oxford visions, of which some have been given, were but anticipations necessary to illustrate the glimpse opened of childhood, (as being its reaction.) In this SECOND part, returning from that anticipation, I retrace an abstract of my boyish and youthful days so far as they furnished or exposed the germs of later experiences in worlds more shadowy.

Upon me, as upon others scattered thinly by tens and twenties over every thousand years, fell too powerfully and too early the vision of life. The horror of life mixed itself already in earliest youth with the heavenly sweetness of life; that grief, which one in a hundred has sensibility enough to gather from the sad retrospect of life in its closing stage, for me shed its dews as a prelibation upon the fountains of life whilst yet sparkling to the morning sun. I saw from afar and from before what I was to see from behind. Is this the description of an early youth passed in the shades of gloom? No, but of a youth passed in the divinest happiness. And if the reader has (which so few have) the passion, without which there is no reading of the legend and superscription upon man's brow, if he is not (as most are) deafer than the grave to every deep note that sighs upwards from the Delphic caves of human life, he will know that the rapture of life (or any thing which by approach can merit that name) does not arise, unless as perfect music arises—music of Mozart or Beethoven—by the confluence of the mighty and terrific discords with the subtle concords. Not by contrast, or as reciprocal foils do these elements act, which is the feeble conception of many, but by union. They are the sexual forces in music: "male and female created he them;" and these mighty antagonists do not put forth their hostilities by repulsion, but by deepest attraction.

As "in to-day already walks to-morrow," so in the past experience of a youthful life may be seen dimly the future. The collisions with alien interests or hostile views, of a child, boy, or very young man, so insulated as each of these is sure to be,—those aspects of opposition which such a person can occupy, are limited by the exceedingly few and trivial lines of connexion along which he is able to radiate any essential influence whatever upon the fortunes or happiness of others. Circumstances may magnify his importance for the moment; but, after all, any cable which he carries out upon other vessels is easily slipped upon a feud arising. Far otherwise is the state of relations connecting an adult or responsible man with the circles around him as life advances. The network of these relations is a thousand times more intricate, the jarring of these intricate relations a thousand times more frequent, and the vibrations a thousand times harsher which these jarrings diffuse. This truth is felt beforehand misgivingly and in troubled vision, by a young man who stands upon the threshold of manhood. One earliest instinct of fear and horror would darken his spirit if it could be revealed to itself and self-questioned at the moment of birth: a second instinct of the sane nature would again pollute that tremulous mirror, if the moment were as punctually marked as physical birth is marked, which dismisses him finally upon the tides of absolute self-control. A dark ocean would seem the total expanse of life from the first: but far darker and more appalling would seem that interior and second chamber of the ocean which called him away for ever on the direct accountability of others. Dreadful would be the morning which should say—"Be thou a human child incarnate;" but more dreadful the morning which should say—"Bear thou henceforth the sceptre of thy self-dominion through life, and the passion of life!" Yes, dreadful would be both: but without a basis of the dreadful there is no perfect rapture. It is a part through the sorrow of life, growing out of its events, that this basis of awe and solemn darkness slowly accumulates. That I have illustrated. But, as life expands, it is more through the strife which besets us, strife from conflicting opinions, positions, passions, interests, that the funereal ground settles and deposits itself, which sends upward the dark lustrous brilliancy through the jewel of life—else revealing a pale and superficial glitter. Either the human being must suffer and struggle as the price of a more searching vision, or his gaze must be shallow and without intellectual revelation.

Through accident it was in part, and, where through no accident but my own nature, not through features of it at all painful to recollect, that constantly in early life (that is, from boyish days until eighteen, when by going to Oxford, practically I became my own master) I was engaged in duels of fierce continual struggle, with some person or body of persons, that sought, like the Roman retiarius, to throw a net of deadly coercion or constraint over the undoubted rights of my natural freedom. The steady rebellion upon my part in one-half, was a mere human reaction of justifiable indignation; but in the other half it was the struggle of a conscientious nature—disdaining to feel it as any mere right or discretional privilege—no, feeling it as the noblest of duties to resist, though it should be mortally, those that would have enslaved me, and to retort scorn upon those that would have put my head below their feet. Too much, even in later life, I have perceived in men that pass for good men, a disposition to degrade (and if possible to degrade through self-degradation) those in whom unwillingly they feel any weight of oppression to themselves, by commanding qualities of intellect or character. They respect you: they are compelled to do so: and they hate to do so. Next, therefore, they seek to throw off the sense of this oppression, and to take vengeance for it, by co-operating with any unhappy accidents in your life, to inflict a sense of humiliation upon you, and (if possible) to force you into becoming a consenting party to that humiliation. Oh, wherefore is it that those who presume to call themselves the "friends" of this man or that woman, are so often those above all others, whom in the hour of death that man or woman is most likely to salute with the valediction—Would God I had never seen your face?

In citing one or two cases of these early struggles, I have chiefly in view the effect of these upon my subsequent visions under the reign of opium. And this indulgent reflection should accompany the mature reader through all such records of boyish inexperience. A good tempered-man, who is also acquainted with the world, will easily evade, without needing any artifice of servile obsequiousness, those quarrels which an upright simplicity, jealous of its own rights, and unpractised in the science of worldly address, cannot always evade without some loss of self-respect. Suavity in this manner may, it is true, be reconciled with firmness in the matter; but not easily by a young person who wants all the appropriate resources of knowledge, of adroit and guarded language, for making his good temper available. Men are protected from insult and wrong, not merely by their own skill, but also in the absence of any skill at all, by the general spirit of forbearance to which society has trained all those whom they are likely to meet. But boys meeting with no such forbearance or training in other boys, must sometimes be thrown upon feuds in the ratio of their own firmness, much more than in the ratio of any natural proneness to quarrel. Such a subject, however, will be best illustrated by a sketch or two of my own principal feuds.

The first, but merely transient and playful, nor worth noticing at all, but for its subsequent resurrection under other and awful colouring in my dreams, grew out of an imaginary slight, as I viewed it, put upon me by one of my guardians. I had four guardians: and the one of these who had the most knowledge and talent of the whole, a banker, living about a hundred miles from my home, had invited me when eleven years old to his house. His eldest daughter, perhaps a year younger than myself, wore at that time upon her very lovely face the most angelic expression of character and temper that I have almost ever seen. Naturally, I fell in love with her. It seems absurd to say so; and the more so, because two children more absolutely innocent than we were cannot be imagined, neither of us having ever been at any school;—but the simple truth is, that in the most chivalrous sense I was in love with her. And the proof that I was so showed itself in three separate modes: I kissed her glove on any rare occasion when I found it lying on a table; secondly, I looked out for some excuse to be jealous of her; and, thirdly, I did my very best to get up a quarrel. What I wanted the quarrel for was the luxury of a reconciliation; a hill cannot be had, you know, without going to the expense of a valley. And though I hated the very thought of a moment's difference with so truly gentle a girl, yet how, but through such a purgatory, could one win the paradise of her returning smiles? All this, however, came to nothing; and simply because she positively would not quarrel. And the jealousy fell through, because there was no decent subject for such a passion, unless it had settled upon an old music-master whom lunacy itself could not adopt as a rival. The quarrel meantime, which never prospered with the daughter, silently kindled on my part towards the father. His offence was this. At dinner, I naturally placed myself by the side of M., and it gave me great pleasure to touch her hand at intervals. As M. was my cousin, though twice or even three times removed, I did not feel taking too great a liberty in this little act of tenderness. No matter if three thousand times removed, I said, my cousin is my cousin: nor had I ever very much designed to conceal the act; or if so, rather on her account than my own. One evening, however, papa observed my manoeuvre. Did he seem displeased? Not at all: he even condescended to smile. But the next day he placed M. on the side opposite to myself. In one respect this was really an improvement; because it gave me a better view of my cousin's sweet countenance. But then there was the loss of the hand to be considered, and secondly there was the affront. It was clear that vengeance must be had. Now there was but one thing in this world that I could do even decently: but that I could do admirably. This was writing Latin hexameters. Juvenal, though it was not very much of him that I had then read, seemed to me a divine model. The inspiration of wrath spoke through him as through a Hebrew prophet. The same inspiration spoke now in me. Facit indignatio versum, said Juvenal. And it must be owned that Indignation has never made such good verses since as she did in that day. But still, even to me this agile passion proved a Muse of genial inspiration for a couple of paragraphs: and one line I will mention as worthy to have taken its place in Juvenal himself. I say this without scruple, having not a shadow of vanity, nor on the other hand a shadow of false modesty connected with such boyish accomplishments. The poem opened thus—

"Te nimis austerum; sacrae qui foedera mensae Diruis, insector Satyrae reboante flagello."

But the line, which I insist upon as of Roman strength, was the closing one of the next sentence. The general effect of the sentiment was—that my clamorous wrath should make its way even into ears that were past hearing:

"——mea saeva querela Auribus insidet ceratis, auribus etsi Non audituris hyberna nocte procellam."

The power, however, which inflated my verse, soon collapsed; having been soothed from the very first by finding—that except in this one instance at the dinner-table, which probably had been viewed as an indecorum, no further restraint of any kind whatever was meditated upon my intercourse with M. Besides, it was too painful to lock up good verses in one's own solitary breast. Yet how could I shock the sweet filial heart of my cousin by a fierce lampoon or stylites against her father, had Latin even figured amongst her accomplishments? Then it occurred to me that the verses might be shown to the father. But was there not something treacherous in gaining a man's approbation under a mask to a satire upon himself? Or would he have always understood me? For one person a year after took the sacrae mensae (by which I had meant the sanctities of hospitality) to mean the sacramental table. And on consideration I began to suspect, that many people would pronounce myself the party who had violated the holy ties of hospitality, which are equally binding on guest as on host. Indolence, which sometimes comes in aid of good impulses as well as bad, favoured these relenting thoughts; the society of M. did still more to wean me from further efforts of satire: and, finally, my Latin poem remained a torso. But upon the whole my guardian had a narrow escape of descending to posterity in a disadvantageous light, had he rolled down to it through my hexameters.

Here was a case of merely playful feud. But the same talent of Latin verses soon after connected me with a real feud that harassed my mind more than would be supposed, and precisely by this agency, viz. that it arrayed one set of feelings against another. It divided my mind as by domestic feud against itself. About a year after, returning from the visit to my guardian's, and when I must have been nearly completing my twelfth year, I was sent to a great public school. Every man has reason to rejoice who enjoys so great an advantage. I condemned and do condemn the practice of sometimes sending out into such stormy exposures those who are as yet too young, too dependent on female gentleness, and endowed with sensibilities too exquisite. But at nine or ten the masculine energies of the character are beginning to be developed: or, if not, no discipline will better aid in their developement than the bracing intercourse of a great English classical school. Even the selfish are forced into accommodating themselves to a public standard of generosity, and the effeminate into conforming to a rule of manliness. I was myself at two public schools; and I think with gratitude of the benefit which I reaped from both; as also I think with gratitude of the upright guardian in whose quiet household I learned Latin so effectually. But the small private schools which I witnessed for brief periods, containing thirty to forty boys, were models of ignoble manners as respected some part of the juniors, and of favouritism amongst the masters. Nowhere is the sublimity of public justice so broadly exemplified as in an English school. There is not in the universe such an areopagus for fair play and abhorrence of all crooked ways, as an English mob, or one of the English time-honoured public schools. But my own first introduction to such an establishment was under peculiar and contradictory circumstances. When my "rating," or graduation in the school, was to be settled, naturally my altitude (to speak astronomically) was taken by the proficiency in Greek. But I could then barely construe books so easy as the Greek Testament and the Iliad. This was considered quite well enough for my age; but still it caused me to be placed three steps below the highest rank in the school. Within one week, however, my talent for Latin verses, which had by this time gathered strength and expansion, became known. I was honoured as never was man or boy since Mordecai the Jew. Not properly belonging to the flock of the head master, but to the leading section of the second, I was now weekly paraded for distinction at the supreme tribunal of the school; out of which at first grew nothing but a sunshine of approbation delightful to my heart, still brooding upon solitude. Within six weeks this had changed. The approbation indeed continued, and the public testimony of it. Neither would there, in the ordinary course, have been any painful reaction from jealousy or fretful resistance to the soundness of my pretensions; since it was sufficiently known to some of my schoolfellows, that I, who had no male relatives but military men, and those in India, could not have benefited by any clandestine aid. But, unhappily, the head master was at that time dissatisfied with some points in the progress of his head form; and, as it soon appeared, was continually throwing in their teeth the brilliancy of my verses at twelve, by comparison with theirs at seventeen, eighteen, and nineteen. I had observed him sometimes pointing to myself; and was perplexed at seeing the gesture followed by gloomy looks, and what French reporters call "sensation," in these young men, whom naturally I viewed with awe as my leaders, boys that were called young men, men that were reading Sophocles—(a name that carried with it the sound of something seraphic to my ears)—and who never had vouchsafed to waste a word on such a child as myself. The day was come, however, when all that would be changed. One of these leaders strode up to me in the public playgrounds, and delivering a blow on my shoulder, which was not intended to hurt me, but as a mere formula of introduction, asked me, "What the d—l I meant by bolting out of the course, and annoying other people in that manner? Were other people to have no rest for me and my verses, which, after all, were horribly bad?" There might have been some difficulty in returning an answer to this address, but none was required. I was briefly admonished to see that I wrote worse for the future, or else——At this aposiopesis I looked enquiringly at the speaker, and he filled up the chasm by saying, that he would "annihilate" me. Could any person fail to be aghast at such a demand? I was to write worse than my own standard, which, by his account of my verses, must be difficult; and I was to write worse than himself, which might be impossible. My feelings revolted, it may be supposed, against so arrogant a demand, unless it had been far otherwise expressed; and on the next occasion for sending up verses, so far from attending to the orders issued, I double-shotted my guns; double applause descended on myself; but I remarked with some awe, though not repenting of what I had done, that double confusion seemed to agitate the ranks of my enemies. Amongst them loomed out in the distance my "annihilating" friend, who shook his huge fist at me, but with something like a grim smile about his eyes. He took an early opportunity of paying his respects to me—saying, "You little devil, do you call this writing your worst?" "No," I replied; "I call it writing my best." The annihilator, as it turned out, was really a good-natured young man; but he soon went off to Cambridge; and with the rest, or some of them, I continued to wage war for nearly a year. And yet, for a word spoken with kindness, I would have resigned the peacock's feather in my cap as the merest of baubles. Undoubtedly, praise sounded sweet in my ears also. But that was nothing by comparison with what stood on the other side. I detested distinctions that were connected with mortification to others. And, even if I could have got over that, the eternal feud fretted and tormented my nature. Love, that once in childhood had been so mere a necessity to me, that had long been a mere reflected ray from a departed sunset. But peace, and freedom from strife, if love were no longer possible, (as so rarely it is in this world,) was the absolute necessity of my heart. To contend with somebody was still my fate; how to escape the contention I could not see; and yet for itself, and the deadly passions into which it forced me, I hated and loathed it more than death. It added to the distraction and internal feud of my own mind—that I could not altogether condemn the upper boys. I was made a handle of humiliation to them. And in the mean time, if I had an advantage in one accomplishment, which is all a matter of accident, or peculiar taste and feeling, they, on the other hand, had a great advantage over me in the more elaborate difficulties of Greek, and of choral Greek poetry. I could not altogether wonder at their hatred of myself. Yet still, as they had chosen to adopt this mode of conflict with me, I did not feel that I had any choice but to resist. The contest was terminated for me by my removal from the school, in consequence of a very threatening illness affecting my head; but it lasted nearly a year; and it did not close before several amongst my public enemies had become my private friends. They were much older, but they invited me to the houses of their friends, and showed me a respect which deeply affected me—this respect having more reference, apparently, to the firmness I had exhibited than to the splendour of my verses. And, indeed, these had rather drooped from a natural accident; several persons of my own class had formed the practice of asking me to write verses for them. I could not refuse. But, as the subjects given out were the same for all of us, it was not possible to take so many crops off the ground without starving the quality of all.

Two years and a half from this time, I was again at a public school of ancient foundation. Now I was myself one of the three who formed the highest class. Now I myself was familiar with Sophocles, who once had been so shadowy a name in my ear. But, strange to say, now in my sixteenth year, I cared nothing at all for the glory of Latin verse. All the business of school was slight and trivial in my eyes. Costing me not an effort, it could not engage any part of my attention; that was now swallowed up altogether by the literature of my native land. I still reverenced the Grecian drama, as always I must. But else I cared little then for classical pursuits. A deeper spell had mastered me; and I lived only in those bowers where deeper passions spoke.

Here, however, it was that began another and more important struggle. I was drawing near to seventeen, and, in a year after that, would arrive the usual time for going to Oxford. To Oxford my guardians made no objection; and they readily agreed to make the allowance then universally regarded as the minimum for an Oxford student, viz. L200 per annum. But they insisted, as a previous condition, that I should make a positive and definitive choice of a profession. Now I was well aware that, if I did make such a choice, no law existed, nor could any obligation be created through deeds or signature, by which I could finally be compelled into keeping my engagement. But this evasion did not suit me. Here, again, I felt indignantly that the principle of the attempt was unjust. The object was certainly to do me service by saving money, since, if I selected the bar as my profession, it was contended by some persons, (misinformed, however,) that not Oxford, but a special pleader's office, would be my proper destination; but I cared not for arguments of that sort. Oxford I was determined to make my home; and also to bear my future course utterly untrammeled by promises that I might repent. Soon came the catastrophe of this struggle. A little before my seventeenth birthday, I walked off one lovely summer morning to North Wales—rambled there for months—and, finally, under some obscure hopes of raising money on my personal security, I went up to London. Now I was in my eighteenth year; and, during this period it was that I passed through that trial of severe distress, of which I gave some account in my former Confessions. Having a motive, however, for glancing backwards briefly at that period in the present series, I will do so at this point.

I saw in one journal an insinuation that the incidents in the preliminary narrative were possibly without foundation. To such an expression of mere gratuitous malignity, as it happened to be supported by no one argument except a remark, apparently absurd, but certainly false, I did not condescend to answer. In reality, the possibility had never occurred to me that any person of judgment would seriously suspect me of taking liberties with that part of the work, since, though no one of the parties concerned but myself stood in so central a position to the circumstances as to be acquainted with all of them, many were acquainted with each separate section of the memoir. Relays of witnesses might have been summoned to mount guard, as it were, upon the accuracy of each particular in the whole succession of incidents; and some of these people had an interest, more or less strong, in exposing any deviation from the strictest letter of the truth, had it been in their power to do so. It is now twenty-two years since I saw the objection here alluded to; and, in saying that I did not condescend to notice it, the reader must not find any reason for taxing me with a blamable haughtiness. But every man is entitled to be haughty when his veracity is impeached; and, still more, when it is impeached by a dishonest objection, or, if not that, by an objection which argues a carelessness of attention almost amounting to dishonesty, in a case where it was meant to sustain an imputation of falsehood. Let a man read carelessly if he will, but not where he is meaning to use his reading for a purpose of wounding another man's honour. Having thus, by twenty-two years' silence, sufficiently expressed my contempt for the slander,[19] I now feel myself at liberty to draw it into notice, for the sake, inter alia, of showing in how rash a spirit malignity often works. In the preliminary account of certain boyish adventures which had exposed me to suffering of a kind not commonly incident to persons in my station of life, and leaving behind a temptation to the use of opium under certain arrears of weakness, I had occasion to notice a disreputable attorney in London, who showed me some attentions, partly on my own account as a boy of some expectations, but much more with the purpose of fastening his professional grappling-hooks upon the young Earl of A——t, my former companion, and my present correspondent. This man's house was slightly described, and, with more minuteness, I had exposed some interesting traits in his household economy. A question, therefore, naturally arose in several people's curiosity—Where was this house situated? and the more so because I had pointed a renewed attention to it by saying, that on that very evening, (viz. the evening on which that particular page of the Confessions was written,) I had visited the street, looked up at the windows, and, instead of the gloomy desolation reigning there when myself and a little girl were the sole nightly tenants, sleeping in fact (poor freezing creatures that we both were) on the floor of the attorney's law-chamber, and making a pillow out of his infernal parchments, I had seen with pleasure the evidences of comfort, respectability, and domestic animation, in the lights and stir prevailing through different stories of the house. Upon this the upright critic told his readers that I had described the house as standing in Oxford Street, and then appealed to their own knowledge of that street whether such a house could be so situated. Why not—he neglected to tell us. The houses at the east end of Oxford Street are certainly of too small an order to meet my account of the attorney's house; but why should it be at the east end? Oxford Street is a mile and a quarter long, and being built continuously on both sides, finds room for houses of many classes. Meantime it happens that, although the true house was most obscurely indicated, any house whatever in Oxford Street was most luminously excluded. In all the immensity of London there was but one single street that could be challenged by an attentive reader of the Confessions as peremptorily

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