Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

a person, to fill the vacant throne. The physicians having investigated, and reported the King's death to have been caused by poison, and suspicion arising of its having been administered in the cordial; Almanzor hastened to the cave appointed for the first retreat of Pharonnida and her friends, sürprized and brought them before the judicial authorities, to take their trial' for the double murder of the King and Zoranza. A curtain was withdrawn, displaying the two dead bodies, the sight of which was too much for Pharonnida—and she fainted. The habits in which the murderers of Zoranza were disguised, being proved by the wounded Epirot lord to be the same as the male prisoners now wore, they were all sentenced to die, unless a champion should, within twenty days, appear on their behalf, and vanquish Almanzor in single combat.

Before the court rose, the Princess made a dignified, but fruitless appeal in favour of the Cyprian Prince, although she disdained to ask a subject's mercy for herself.-Almanzor thinking Argalia might appear as the champion of Pharonnida, contrived to heighten the colouring of her supposed crime, which soon reached Argalia, with“such doubtful circumstances as shook his noble soul.” —Confirmed as these circumstances were, by the messengers he had sent to Corinth; his passion had

" near unclad
His soul of all its robes of flesh :"-
« Could earth e'er conquer, or had it within
The power of whatsoe'er is mortal, been
T have wrought disorders of amazement, where
The noble soul such true consent did bear
With the harmonious angels, (he in all
His acts like them appears, or, ere bis fall,
Perhaps like man, that he could only be
Distinguish'd from some hallow'd hierarchy,
By being cloth’d in the specific veil
Of flesh and blood,) this grief might then prevail
Over his perfect temper, but he bears
These weights as if unfelt-on his soul wears
The sable robes of sorrow, whilst his cheek
is dress’d in scarlet smiles-no frown his sleek
And even front contracts, like to a slow
And quiet stream, his obscur'd thoughts did flow,
With greater depths, than could be fathom'd by

The beamy lines of a judicious eye.” Notwithstanding the situation of his kingdom, and the opposition of his council, Argalia formed the resolution of

VOL. I. PART I,

rescuing Pharonnida-and selecting some veteran troops, he forced a passage through the army, by which he was invested, and threw them into such confusion as promised an early raising of the siege. On his arrival at the Monastery where he had formerly been so kindly succoured, he retired with his friend the Friar, by whose dispassionate advice he was persuaded to visit the prisoners with him in the character of a confessor.

The Friar applied himself to Amindor, Argalia to Pharonnida, (at the sight of whom he is nigh forgetting his priestly office) and having “ read the sad story of her life,” was satisfied of her innocence. Throwing off his monastic robes with

« Near as much speed As incorporeal substances, that need

But will for motion," he appeared in the lists—Almanzor was vanquished.The innocence of the prisoners being established by the confession of the vanquished champion, Argalia, as the choice of the princess, was elected king of the Morea, and at the same time received the crown of Epirus.

We have, in the above abstract of the poem, attempted to give the reader some idea of the spirit and poetry of the original. All attempts of this kind must necessarily be in some measure imperfect. If, however, we have succeeded in exciting his interest in favour of this beautifully planned poem, we shall be abundantly rewarded. It may be proper, however, to notice a few of its most glaring defects, in addition to those already mentioned. The author lays the scene at one time in Greece, and at another in Sicily; and with a strange and whimsical forgetfulness describes the king's capital as being at one moment in the Morea, and in the next, without the least warning, we find it placed in the island; thus he transports us from one to the other, with the most ludicrous gravity and unconcern. The confusion occasioned by this ubiquity of his dramatis personæ, may be easily conceived. Ariamnes is indifferently designated by that name, and by the name of Aminander, and we learn towards the conclusion of the poem, rather abruptly, and with some surprize, for the first time, that the king of the Morea is called Cleander. We shall content ourselves with these specimens, without pointing out other inaccuracies and instances of pedantry which are to be found in the work; but with all its defects we should be sorry to see it continue in unmerited neglect; for we think that, under the superintendance of a judicious editor, it might be reprinted with

advantage, and would add one more to the many enjoyments of the lover of the most delightful of all arts.

ART. IV. Danielis Heinsiï Poemata. Ex Officina Joannis

Janssonii. 1649. 24mo. pp. 666. The age of modern Latin poetry, as of prose, is now past. There was a time when the languages of modern Europe were little more than the languages of conversation, and when their yet unformed and unrefined state rendered them but ill adapted to the enunciation of abstract truths, the embodying of the suggestions of imagination, or the preservation of historical facts. It was natural in such a state of things, that all which deserved the name of polite literature should be written in the only language, then understood, which was capable of transmitting it; the language of religion, the language of the last eminent literary nation, and the language, more or less, of those former inhabitants of the European countries, from whom the barbarian invaders received their civilization. In the course of ages, however, from a variety of causes, these noble dialects gradually developed their native powers, and finally became to their respective nations what the Greek and Latin had been to the people of antiquity--the medium of intercourse between cultivated minds, the vehicles of controversy, the records of past and present events, the propagators of opinion, and the moulds in which the visible forms of imagination were cast. In proportion as this great change unfolded itself, the use and importance of the Latin, as a written tongue, of course declined. It was not to be supposed, however, that this revolution could take place immediately or simultaneously. The use of the native dialects could only be established gradually; and some of them would remain in their uncultivated state longer than others. The epoch, moreover, of this revolution (an epoch more fruitful than any others in great events) was also that in which the talents of mankind, from causes on which it is needless to speculate, began to develope themselves more freely and favourably than during many preceding centuries; and among others, the faculty of poetry. That modern Latin poetry should partake, in a minor degree, of the genial influence which had descended upon all the branches of science and literature, was but natural. Italy accordingly leading the way, the nations of Europe swarmed with a generation of Latin poets, as numerous perhaps as those of the ages of Augustus and Trajan. Cardinals and reformers, statesmen and scholars, disported themselves in heroics, elegiacs, sapphics, iambics, and hendecasyllabics; the doctrines of natural philosophy were embodied in didactic poems, theological triumphs were celebrated in verse, the historical facts of Scripture formed the groundwork of epics and tragedies, the animosities of hostile critics vented themselves in satire, and the births and marriages of princes, and the great events of the age, regularly called forth a tribute of classical dolour or exultation. The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries may be esteemed the great age of modern Latin poetry. Its cultivation, through causes which will easily suggest themselves to the reader, has declined; and while England and France, Holland, Italy, and Scandinavia, send forth poets, historians, philosophers, and theologians, in their native languages, Latin prose has be- come, in a great measure, confined to the commentaries and treatises of classical scholars, and Latin verse to prize poems and school exercises.

We do not intend here to speculate either upon the causes or the consequences of this decadence. That Latin composition will cease to be cultivated in the modern nations of Europe, we do not apprehend; circumstances appear to render it impossible; and certainly it would not be desirable. But we have no time to dwell on the various topics which the subject suggests to us.

Daniel Heinsius, best known as a critic, was, in his own time, of no small repute as a Latin poet. He was acquainted with many, or most of the great scholars of his time; and the small closely printed volume containing his poems, has at the end, by way of colophon, a gay pendant of laudatory verses by the Grotiuses, Dousas, and Scaligers of that age. He imitated almost all the Latin poets in turn, and seems more formed for a kind of free imitation than for original composition. His excellence consists in a small, but visible portion of talent, which pervades his verses, and gives to their best parts a pleasing and equable, though never a surpassing, beauty. Like some others, he seems every now and then to be for a moment on the verge of excellence, but disappoints the reader by forth with sinking. There is a sprinkling of individual feeling in some of his pieces, which makes them not uninteresting.

His largest work is a didactic poem, in four books, “ De Contemptu Mortis.” The subject was a noble one, and it has in some degree elevated the writer. A solemnity pervades his expositions of the Platonic and the Christian tenets concerning death and the soul, which operates as a charm to those who are sensible to the grandeur of the subject.

The following lines, on the exalted nature of the soul, may be quoted as a fair specimen.

“ Ergo, non stellarum orbes, non lucidus æther,
Nec Lunæ albentes radii, aut Titanius orbis,
Quamquam igni illustris formoso ac cornibus aureis,
Et picturatum toties decurrit Olympum,
Quantum animus, possunt, nec se illi aut sedula tellus
Audeat, aut vasti facies componere ponti.
Nec verò, immensus quanquam in se vertitur orbis
Ætheris aurati, terramque amplectitur omnem,
Quamquam tot populos urbisque ingentibus ulnis
Continet, includit meditantem assurgere, supra
Colum omne, & proprium naturæ accedere fontem,
Æternum coeli regem, vitæque parentein.
Præcipue, quoties altæ penetralia mentis
Ascendit, quoties in se divertitur ipse,
Aversatus opum splendorem, & commoda vitæ,

Et quos ambitio mendax suspirat honores.” p. 264. The first lines of the following passage remind us strongly of a description of Young:

“ Night, sable goddess ! from her ebon throne,
In rayless majesty, now stretches forth
Her leaden sceptre o'er a slumb’ring world.
Silence, how dead; and darkness, how profound !
Nor eye, nor list'ning ear, an object finds;
Creation sleeps,” &c.

Nonne vides, quoties nox circumfunditur atra
Immensi terga Oceani terramque polumque,
Cum rerum obduxit species obnubilus aër,
Nec fragor impulsas aut vox allabitur aures,
Ut nullo intuitu mens jam defixa, recedit
In sese, & vires intra se colligit omnes ?
Ut magno hospitio potitur, seque excipit ipsa
Totam intus : ceu jussa Deûm discumbere mensis.
Nam neque sic illain solido de marmore tecta,
Nec cum porticibus capiunt laquearia centum
Aurea, tot distincta locis, tot regibus apta,
Quæsitæque epulæ, Tyrioque instructus ab ostro:
Ut gaudet sibi juncta, sibique intenditur ipsa,
Ipsa sibi tota incumbens, totamque pererrans,
Immensa, immensam spatio, longeque patentem.
Seu dulces inter latebras Heliconis amani,

« AnteriorContinuar »