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ger.". We thinke name of "Ero prose in the year
the age's more celebrated wits. He died on the 11th of January, 1689, having lived to the age of 70 years, and was buried at Shaftesbury, in the church-yard of the Holy Trinity, where his son, Valentine Chamberlayne, erected a monument to his memory. Besides this poem he wrote a tragi-comedy,* called “ Love's Victory," which was afterwards acted under the title of “ Wits led by the nose, or a Poet's Revenge.” Langhaine, in his account of this play, mentions Pharonnida, adding, that though it had nothing to recommend it, yet it appeared in prose in the year 1683, as a novel, under the name of “ Eromena, or the Noble Stranger." We think, however, that when our readers have perused the abstract of the story which we propose to give, and the different extracts with which it will be interspersed, they will totally dissent from the judgment pronounced by this useful but tasteless author. The garb, indeed, in which the poem is clothed, is sufficiently uninviting; the materials, to be sure, are rich, but the workmanship is awkward and ungraceful. Yet notwithstanding this inauspicious covering, and the obstructions which the involved, and unharmonious diction, and the poverty and insignificance of the rhymes, t present to the complete enjoyment of the poem, there is a pure and tender strain of feeling and morality, and a richness of imagery, that cannot fail to interest the heart and please the imagination of every lover of poetry. How far it is entitled to the name of a heroic poem, we leave to others to determine; but we cannot help observing, that the vigorous conception of the story, the unity and symmetry of the design, and the sustained dignity of the personages, and of the sentiments, make out a claim to that title, which we are by no means inclined to dispute. The main story is car. ried on with deep and varied interest, and developed with great, but unequal power; and every incident which might, by possibility, be considered as improbable, is accounted for from plausible causes, with a scrupulousness and care which is very remarkable, when contrasted with the singular carelessness which distinguishes some other parts of the poem. Upon the whole the poem is somewhat too long, arising perhaps, from the absurd and pedantic determination of the author to extend it to precisely five books, each containing the same number of cantos. In a few of the latter cantos,
* Published in 1658.
+ To these may be added, the inaccurate printing and erroneo punctuations, which incessantly occur.
his muse soars with a comparatively feeble wing, but she soon resumes her vigour, and again mounts into the sublimé regions of impassioned poetry. The genius of Chamberlayne, however, is rather tender and pathetic, than strong and lofty; his narrative rather calm and equable, than rapid and overpowering; but it is at the same time diversified with occasional bursts of deep pathos, of glowing and vehement passion. He delights to wander into the unknown regions of space and éternity ; contemplates with solemn pleasure the soul of man, disrobed of its earthly covering, and speculates with earnestness upon its ethereal nature and future destiny. But the more grave and serious parts of this delightful poem, are enlivened and adorned with all the exuberance of a rich and inexhaustible fancy, pure, sparkling, and luminous, as the earth with the dew of heaven. The characters of the personages of the poem are rather general than individual ; they are painted with broad shades, rather than with distinct and minute touches. Those of Pharonnida and
noble and dignified description; and although a pitch above the tone of the ordinary feelings and actions of humanity, are beings of flesh and blood; that of Pharonnida, a lofty but gentle minded female, whose irrepressible passion for Argalia, leaves no room in her full heart for the operation of other feelings, is touched off with a fine and delicate pencil. But the character of Almanzor, possesses more individuality and fire, than any other in the poem, - ambitious, bold, impetuous, resolute, and unscrupulous of the means necessary to accomplish his objects; he is also cunning, secret, and undermining--he is audaciously wicked, or sanctimoniously virtuous, as it suits his purpose; he possesses as occasion requires, the savage and unrelenting ferocity of the tiger, or the wily and dangerous stillness of the serpent. But we will no longer delay introducing our readers to the poem itself. The outline of the story is as follows:
As Ariamnes a Spartan Lord, and a noble train, were one day hunting on the shores of the “ far famed Bay of Lepanto," their attention was attracted to a fierce engagement between a Turkish and a Christian ship. Victory was inclining to the side of the Turks, when the combat was suddenly interrupted by a violent storm, which however, soon subsided, and left the “uncurled ocean" spotted only with the wrecks of the lately contending ships. The fury of the elements had not abated the ardour of such of the hostile parties as escaped, and the battle was renewed on shore. The hunters, on coming down to the beach, were struck with the sight of a single Christian, defending himself against a party
vol. 1. PART 1.
of the Infidels, by whom he was almost overpowered. They flew to the assistance of this brave warrior, and rescued him from his foes, whom they put to flight. Ariamnes conveyed Argalia, (for such was the name of the stranger) with his wounded friend Aphron, to his palace, where the latter soon recovered from his wounds. The two friends were about to take leave of their noble host, when he was summoned to attend his sovereign, the King of the Morea. The strangers were invited, and promised to accompany him to court, but they were prevented from performing this promise, by the unexpected illness of Aphron. One day, during the convalescence of Aphron, Argalia strayed into a neighbouring forest; and whilst he was reclining under the shade, two females passed at a short distance before him :
“ A pair of virgins, fairer than the spring ;
Their morning carols, drop.”Almanzor, a Spartan noble, happened to enter the grove which shadowed the two damsels; and no sooner did he behold, than he advanced towards them, but with such speed as to excite their alarm and immediate flight. Almanzor pursued, and seized one of them, whose name was Florenza. He first attempted to seduce her; but failing in that attempt, he had recourse to violence, and had nearly accomplished his purpose, when Florenza's lover, who was at no great distance, hearing her shrieks, came to her assistance, and fell in endeavouring to effect her rescue. In the meantime Florenza again fled, but in vain; her pursuer again seized her, who
« with her shrieks did bill
Voice of harmonious music.”— Argalia, roused from the slumber into which he had fallen, hurried to the spot from which the shrieks proceeded. Almanzor, doubly enraged at being a second time baffled, impetuously assailed him; but his blind fury was no match for the temperate valour of Argalia, under whose hand he would certainly have fallen, but for the interference of his followers, who opportunely arrived in search of their master. They fell upon Argalia, and with the loss of two of Almanzor's relatives, had nearly overpowered him, when a second troop came up: finding Almanzor wounded, they very wisely concluded Argalia to have been the aggressor, and seized and conveyed him to the king's palace as a murderer. In this part of the narrative, the poet has introduced a short episode, which, as it contains some exceedingly beautiful lines, we do not choose to omit.
The Queen of the Morea had died in giving birth to an only daughter, whom, with her dying words, she desired might be called Pharonnida. Before she expired, she addressed the King in the following beautiful lines, breathed from the bottom of a soft and tender soul:
“ This, this is all that I shall leave behind,
What wondrous change dwells in eternity.”
This only child was the darling and solace of the royal widower, amidst " woes that would have shaken his soul to
“ Had not this confort stopp'd them, which beguiles
Stealing his heart through all the guards of grief." When Pharonnida arrived at woman's estate, her father chose a palace in the Vale of Ceres, near to his capital of Corinth, for her residence, and assigned her a guard of one hundred noble Spartan youths, the command of which he gave to Almanzor, the bold, haughty, and ambitious man before mentioned. Whenever the king visited this favored daughter, (which he was at this time doing) there was a peculiar custom that she should sit in judgment on all cases which occurred during the time of his visit.-Before her tribunal the accused Argalia was fated to appear,—the day of his trial having come on, the Princess ascended the seat of justice,-the prisoner was brought forth, who
“ In this low ebb of fortune did appear,
The excellence of angels ; fear had not
Thron'd in the medium, constant virtue sat."
“ His noble soul still wings itself above
Returns, fraught with the olive branch of peace.” He attempted to defend himself, but false witnesses being produced to prove the accusation, he saw it would be vain to make any further defence. An ominous silence intervened-Pharonnida, struck with admiration at the de. meanour and appearance of Argalia, could not refrain from tears—and she at the same time made a deep impression upon the heart of the prisoner.
- " Yet in this high Tide of his blood, in a soft calm to die, His yielding spirit now prepares to meet
Death, clothed in thoughts white as his winding sheet." One of the assistant judges at length pronounced the fatal sentence, which was received by the prisoner with calm attention.
." His ev'ry look, so far
To clog his heart." At the instant the Court was rising, and the jailors hurrying Argalia away, Ariamnes arrived. Having related so much of the stranger's story as he was acquainted with, he prevailed upon the princess to suspend the execution of the sentence, until he had an opportunity of investigating the truth of the charge. The Court was a second time about to break up, and was a second time interrupted by the abrupt entrance of Aphron, who having been alarmed at the