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the Pacific, is one of those captivating fallacies, which that gentleman and his missionary coadjutors have been, for some time, in the habit of palming upon our credulous people. It may be admitted, that the horrible practice of slaying their own children has been very greatly diminished among the people of those islands. But Mr. Ellis imputes this alteration in their manners exclusively to the labours of the missionaries, who have had, in fact, much less to do with that improvement than some of the native princes, acting upon the suggestions of British commanders who visited their dominions. In truth, it appears from all accounts, that the British religious missionaries have done a great deal more harm than good in the Pacific, by having established in those islands a false and gloomy spirit of sectarianism, instead of the true and cheering doctrines of Christianity. From a chapter on flowers, by the author of “Rank and Talent,” we extract, with much pleasure, a beautiful, as well as an accurate view of the intentions of Providence, in scattering over the earth those varied symbols of his benevolence.
‘Flowers are for the young and for the old; for the grave and for the gay ; for the living and for the dead; for all but the guilty, and for them when they are penitent. Flowers are, in the volume of nature, what the expression, “God is love,” is in the volume of revelation. They tell man of the paternal character of the Deity. Servants are fed, clothed, and commanded; but children are instructed by a sweet gentleness; and to them is given by the good parent, that which delights as well as that which supports. For the servant, there is the gravity of approbation, or the silence of satisfaction; but for the children, there is the sweet smile of complacency, and the joyful look of love. So, by the beauty which the Creator has dispersed and spread abroad through creation, and by the capacity which he has given to man to enjoy and comprehend that beauty, he has displayed, not merely the compassionateness of his mercy, but the generosity and gracefulness of his goodness.
“What a dreary and desolate place would be a world without a flower It would be as a face without a smile—a feast without a welcome. Flowers, by their sylph-like forms and viewless fragrance, are the first instructors to emancipate our thoughts from the grossness of materialism; they make us think of invisible beings; and by means of so beautiful and graceful a transition, our thoughts of the invisible are thoughts of the good.
‘Are not flowers the stars of earth, and are not stars the flowers of heaven? Flowers are the teachers of gentle thoughts—promoters of kindly emotion. One cannot look closely at the structure of a flower without loving it. They are emblems and manifestations of God's love to the creation, and they are the means and ministrations of man's love to his fellow-creatures; for they first awaken in the mind a sense of the beautiful and the good. Light is beautiful and good; but on its undivided beauty, and on the glorious intensity of its full strength, man cannot gaze; he can comprehend it best when prismatically separated and dispersed in the many-coloured beauty of flowers; and thus he reads the elements of beauty—the alphabet of visible gracefulness. The very inutility of flowers is their excellence and great beauty; for, by having a delightfulness in their very form and colour, they lead us to thoughts of generosity and moral beauty, detached from and superior to all selfishness; so that they are pretty lessons in nature's book of instruction, teaching man that he liveth not by bread or for bread alone, but that he hath another than an animal life."—The Amulet, pp. 155–157.
Miss Mitford may truly be called an evergreen. We were afraid that she had given herself up altogether to the lugubrious moods of tragedy, and buried herself in strict seclusion even from her own village, in order to become the rival of Miss Joanna Baillie. But we have been agreeably surprised to find her stirring about in her garden and green-house, among her fruits and flowers, as merry as ever. One of her contributions to the “Amulet’ she has called * A Day of Distress;' but we suspect that the reader will agree with us in thinking, that her account of it is one of the pleasantest things which her picturesque and prolific pen has ever sketched. She is a most incomprehensible creature. Here is a story, in fact, all about nothing. The lady had a brace of keys in her hand, one of which locked up all the others of every department ; twirling them about on her finger, in the course of conversation with her friend Kate Leslie, she thrusts them heedlessly under her belt, and the distress that ensues from her having forgotten this little incident, she works up into one of the most amusing of her numerous cabinet paintings of still life. We can only afford room for a part of it.
“A gentle sorrow did arrive, all too soon, in the shape of Kate Leslie's poney-phaeton, which whisked off that charming person as fast as her two long-tailed Arabians could put their feet to the ground. This evil had, however, substantial consolation in a promise of another visit very soon; and I resumed, in peace and quietness, the usual round of idle occupation which forms the morning employment of a country gentlewoman of small fortune: ordered dinner—minced veal, cold ham, a currant-pudding, and a sallad—if any body happens to be curious on the score of my housekeeping; renewed my beau-pots; watered such of my plants as wanted most; mended my gloves; patted Dash; looked at the Times; and was just sitting down to work, or to pretend to work, when I was most pleasantly interrupted by the arrival of some morning visitors—friends from a distance—for whom, after a hearty welcome, and some cordial chat, I ordered luncheon, with which orders my miseries began.
* “The keys, if you please ma'am, for the wine and the Kennet ale,” said Anne, my female factotum, who rules, as regent, not only the cook and the under maid and the boy, but the whole family, myself included, and is an actual housekeeper in every respect except that of keeping the keys. “The keys, ma'am, if you please,” said Anne; and then I found that my keys were not in my right-hand pocket, where they ought to have been, nor in my left-hand pocket, where they might have been, nor in either of my apron-pockets, nor in my work-basket, nor in my reticule—in short, that my keys were lost
‘Now these keys were only two in number, and small enough in dimensions; but then the one opened that important part of me, my writing-desk;
and the other contained within itself the specific power over every lock in the house, being no other than the key of the key-drawer; and no chance of picking them—for alas! alas ! the locks were Bramah's So, after a few exclamations, such as—What can have become of my keys? Has any one seen my keys? Somebody must have run away with my keys —I recollected that, however consolatory to myself each lamentation might be, they would by no means tend to quench the thirst of my guests. I applied myself vigorously to remedy the evil all I could by sending to my nearest neighbours (for time was pressing, and our horse and his master out for the day) to supply, as well as might be, my deficiency. Accordingly I sent to the public-house for their best beer, which, not being Kennet ale, would not go down; and to the good-humoured wives of the shoemaker and the baker for their best wine. Fancy to yourselves a decanter of damsonwine arriving from one quarter, and a jug of parsnip-wine, fresh from the wood, tapped on purpose, from the other' And this for drinkers of Burgundy and Champaigne! Luckily the water was good, and my visitors were good.natured, and comforted me in my affliction, and made a jest of the matter. Really they are a nice family, the St. Johns, especially the two young men, to whom I have, they say, taught the taste of springWater. ‘This trouble passed over lightly enough. But scarcely were they gone before the tax-gatherer came for money—locked up in my desk What will the collector say? And the justice's clerk for warrants, left under my care by the chairman of the bench, and also safely lodged in the same safe repository. What will their worships say to this delinquency It will be fortunate if they do not issue a warrant against me in my own person I My very purse was left by accident in that unlucky writing-desk; and when our kind neighbours, the Wrights, sent a melon, and I was forced to borrow a shilling to give the messenger, I could bear my loss no longer, and determined to institute a strict search on the instant. “But before the search could begin in came the pretty little roly-poly Sydneys and Murrays, brats from seven downwards, with their whole train of nurses, and nursery-maids, and nursery-governesses, by invitation, to eat strawberries; and the strawberries were locked up in a cupboard, the key of which was in the unopenable drawer And good farmer Brookes, he too called, sent by his honour for a bottle of Hollands—the right Schiedam; and the Schiedam was in the cellar; and the key of the cellar was in the Bramah-locked drawer And the worthy farmer, who behaved charmingly for a man deprived of his gin, was fain to be content with excuses, like a voter after an election; and the poor children were compelled to put up with promises, like a voter before one; to be sure, they had a few pinks and roses to sweeten their disappointment; but the strawberries were as uncomeatable as the Schiedam. “At last they were gone; and then began the search in good earnest. Every drawer, not locked, every room that could be entered, every box that could be opened, was ransacked over and over again for these intolerable keys. “All my goods and chattels were flung together in heaps, and then picked over (a process which would make even new things seem disjointed and shabby), and the quantities of trumpery thereby disclosed, especially in the shape of thimbles, needle-cases, pin-cushions, and scissars, from the different work-baskets, work-boxes, and work-bags (your idle persons always abound in working materials) was astounding. I think there were seventeen pincushions of different patterns—beginning with an old boot and ending with a new guitar. But what was there not ? It seemed to me that there were pocketable commodities enough to furnish a second-hand bazaar ! Every thing was there except my keys. “For four hours did I and my luckless maidens perambulate the house, whilst John, the boy, examined the garden; until we were all so tired we were forced to sit down from mere weariness. Saving always the first night of one of my own tragedies, when, though I pique myself on being composed, I can never manage to sit still; except on such an occasion, I do not think I ever walked so much at one time in my life. At last I flung myself on a sofa in the green-house, and began to revolve the possibility of their being still in the place where I had first missed them. ‘A jingle in my apron-pocket afforded some hope, but it turned out to be only the clinking of a pair of garden scissors against his old companion, a silver pencil-case—and that prospect faded away. A slight opening of Dryden's heavily-bound volume gave another glimmer of sunshine, but it proved to be occasioned by a sprig of myrtle in Palamon and Arcite— Kate Leslie's elegant mark. ‘This circumstance recalled the recollection of my pretty friend. Could she have been the culprit’ And I began to ponder over all the instances of unconscious key-stealing that I had heard of amongst my acquaintance. Now my old friend, Aunt Martha, had been so well known for that propensity as to be regularly sought after whenever keys were missing; and my young friend, Edward Harley, from the habit of twisting something round his fingers during his eloquent talk (people used to provide another eloquent talker, Madame de Staël, with a willow-twig for the purpose), had once caught up and carried away a key, also a Bramah, belonging to a lawyer's bureau, thereby, as the lawyer affirmed, causing the loss of divers law-suits to himself and his clients. Neither Aunt Martha nor Edward had been near the place; but Kate Leslie might be subject to absent fits, and might, in a paroxysm, have abstracted my keys; at all events it was worth trying. So I wrote her a note to go by post in the evening (for Kate, I grieve to say, lives above twenty miles off), and determined to await her reply, and think no more of my calamity. “A wise resolution but, like many other wise resolves, easier made than kept. Even if I could have forgotten my loss, my own househould would not have let me. ‘The cook, with professional callousness, came to demand sugar for the currant-pudding—and the sugar was in the store-room—and the storeroom was locked; and scarcely had I recovered from this shock before Anne came to inform me that there was no oil in the cruet, and that the flask was in the cellar, snugly reposing, I suppose, by the side of the Schiedam, so that if for weariness I could have eaten, there was no dinner to eat—for without the sallad who would take the meat However, I being alone, this signified little; much less than a circumstance of which I was reminded by my note to Kate Leslie, namely, that in my desk were two important letters, one triple, and franked for that very night; as well as a corrected proof-sheet, for which the press was waiting; and that all these despatches were to be sent off by post that evening.
‘Roused by this extremity, I carried my troubles and my writing-desk to my good friend, the blacksmith—a civil intelligent man, who sympathized with my distress, sighed, shook his head, and uttered the word Bramah —and I thought my perplexity was nearly at its height, when, as I was wending slowly homeward, my sorrows were brought to a climax by my being overtaken by one of the friends whom I admire and honour most in the world—a person whom all the world admires—who told me, in her prettiest way, that she was glad to see me so near my own gate, for that she was coming to drink tea with me. w
‘Here was a calamity The Lady Mary H., a professed tea-drinker— a green-tea-drinker, one (it was a point of sympathy between us) who took nothing but tea and water, and, therefore, required that gentle and ladylike stimulant in full perfection. Lady Mary come to drink tea with me; and I with nothing better to offer her but tea from the shop—the villageshop—bohea, or souchong, or whatever they might call the vile mixture. Tea from the shop for Lady Mary Ill luck could go no further: it was the very extremity of small distress.
‘Her ladyship is, however, as kind as she is charming, and bore our mutual misfortune with great fortitude; admired my garden, praised my geraniums, and tried to make me forget my calamity. Her kindness was thrown away. I could not even laugh at myself, or find beauty in my flowers, or be pleased with her for flattering them. I tried, however, to do the honours by my plants; and in placing a large night-scented stock, which was just beginning to emit its odour, upon the table, I struck against the edge, and found something hard under my belt.
* “My keys, my keys!” cried I, untying the ribbon, as I heard a most pleasant jingle on the floor; and the lost keys, sure enough, they were; deposited there, of course, by my own hand; unfelt, unseen, and unsuspected, during our long and weary search. Since the adventure of my dear friend, Mrs. S., who hunted a whole morning for her spectacles, whilst they were comfortably perched upon her nose, I have met with nothing so silly and so perplexing.
“But my troubles were over—my affliction was at an end.
‘The strawberries were sent to the dear little girls; and the Schiedam to the good farmer; and the warrants to the clerk. The tax-gatherer called for his money; letters and proofs went to the post; and never in my life did I enjoy a cup of Twining's green-tea so much as the one which Lady Mary and I took together after my day of distress.’—The Amulet, pp. 166–174.
The subjects of the embellishments in the “Amulet’ are not well chosen, with the exception of the portrait which forms the frontispiece, and which, as far as the face, bust, and figure are concerned, is exquisitely engraved. But the left arm and hand are monstrous deformities. We like the idea of the moonlight scene, in the vignette style, in the last page. This mode of introducing illustrations has been adopted with the greatest success in the new edition of Rogers's “Italy,” and we are rather surprised that it has not been more extensively followed by the Annualists of this year. . A periodical entirely upon this plan would, doubtless, have met with a highly popular reception.