The Attic Chest this year is somewhat late in opening, but we trust that our Season though short may yet be brilliant, and that the cause which has partly delayed our meetings, may add to their splendour. We need not say that we allude to the visits paid to the Continent by many of our members during the summer recess, and who are now returned, we hope with recruited fancies and expanded ideas, to the enjoyment of a social English winter, and the charms of our literary evenings. One correspondent indeed promises to make us more familiar with the peculiarities of France then even the tours which have been poured so prodigally on the public, and tho’ Mr McLeasing pretends only to collect and condense the remarks scattered in these works, we yet suspect from internal evidence that he has really been in some of the scenes he professes to describe; and we shall receive with pleasure the mixture of sentiment and adventure with which he promises to season the letters of the fair.
Has the sprightly air of France acting by the rule of contraries on the saturnine spirits of our countrymen given rise to tragic thoughts, or whence comes it, that in this night’s reading we have the commencement of two tragedies — One bard has chosen to paint the glowing scenery of India, and to interest us for the hostile divinities of Persia and of Hindustan. The other has transported his frozen Muscovites to the warmer shores of Calabria. We shall follow with respect to these rival candidates, our constant custom of offering no remarks on the merit of unfinished pieces except as far as our sentiments may be implied in our earnest wish to see the sequel.
Our Chest is not this year so rich in Valentines as it has been on former occasions, but it would be unreasonable to expect that these volatile trifles should not long since have been evaporated by the keen winds of March. Two however, their merits being fixed on a more permanent basis, have stood the test of time, and remain in full odour. The talent shown in the delineation of a rural scene, is as creditable to the young artist as the spirit and neatness of the descriptive verses which accompany it. The milkmaid, the ploughboy at this labour — the shocks of corn thickly scattered over the field — the cottage &c. are all admirably depicted, and it is not too much to say that the verses are worthy of them.
Two other Valentines also grace the Chest, and beautiful as we might have thought them had they not been eclipsed by superior excellence we must now reluctantly bid them
“Hide their diminish’d heads”
There is yet however much that is pleasing in the address of the Septuagenary Bard, and the lines sent with a repeating watch and seals seem prompted by the same spirit as that which dictated the Valentine from Philemon to Olivia so much admired a year since.
The issue of new coin from the Bank of England has been very well turned by one of our members so as to suggest a very pleasing and we think we may also say a well-earned compliment to the Attic Society.
The lines by Dr Brande are valuable from the cheerful and pious spirit in which they are written, and show, were anything needful to show it, the sustaining force of religion under severe bodily privation. The remark has we know been commonly made that while deaf people are peevish and discontented the blind are cheerful and happy under what must be though a much greater privation. A young friend one day observed that she thought the reason obvious. A blind person is generally seen in his happiest moments with his friends around him, when he loses in their society the remembrance of his misfortune. This is on the contrary the time when the deaf most sensible feel their loss, in being unable to profit by, or participate in, the conversation that enlivens all around him.
We are not however of opinion that this is entirely satisfactory, perhaps it may also be said that while we frequently meet the totally blind, we see only the partially deaf, and that we are frequently more impatient under a partial than a total privation. To that which is complete and which we know to be irrevocable the mind soon submits, and soon regains its cheerfulness; but it is restless and impatient while there is a chance of shaking off the yoke. The blind also never see what they lose; the beauties of nature thought they are the source of half our gratification at every instant, tho’ they make an impression the most lasting, though sight seems to be universal as the daylight that supports it, yet perhaps it is more easy for the mind to conjure up in darkness images of beauty than to fill that void occasioned by the impossibility of sharing the ideas of others. Yet if one of these evils must one day be our portion we would choose deafness rather than blindness. Of those around us, perhaps few comprehend — few at least are interested in the objects of our thoughts and studies — To converse with books, to talk with the pen, dejected or wearied to throw off all our sorrows to hail as friends the pure air and the fair face of nature are among our chief enjoyments, and we think we must be wretched if deprived of these. These are blessings, that like breathing, we enjoy almost unconsciously at every moment, and we could better spare that conversation which often delightful, and on such evenings as the present peculiarly so, is also often tedious or uninteresting, and which sometimes produces the vacuum it ought to remove, and which on all occasions the pen can so well supply. One thing more — the deaf are independent at least of personal assistance — the blind scarcely can be so.
We are sorry for the unfortunate bard who has lost his Muse. But if our hopes do not deceive us the tuneful sisters often meet on Attic Nights around their favourite Chest, and we trust that he will find her here. At least we can venture to say that many of our members are admitted to her private society, and the reward offered by the hapless bard is so considerable that more than one of our friends must we think be tempted to deserve it.
Our correspondents have been so bountiful that we are under the necessity of deferring many of their favours. The translation from Horace — the fête in the Sun, the Sonnet — the Festival or Nouroz — the Enigma and the Waterloo Button, shall if possible appear in our next.