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poor author die of a broken heart, they attempt to modify the
calamity.” The cutting knife is used without mercy, but a plaister is applied with such apparent sympathy, that we are left to wonder how they could both be used by the same hand.
For example-what author could desire greater applause than Melish meets with in the remarks, page 383?—" I see much more to commend than reprehend in the general tenor of the work before us. The traveller seems disposed to do justice to our country and national character; and, bating some unequivocal symptoms of Caledonianism, he may be called a liberal man.” But who could meet with greater severity than what follows, page 384?_"This much in return for the political dogmas of a European, who seems to think that either his birth in the old world, or his province of book-making in the new, or both, invest him with the prerogative of passing sentence, without ceremony, upon the public conduct and motives of a very large and respect. able portion of the members of this great community.”
This leads to the observation, that the head and front of Mr. Melish's offending, with this remarker, is his supposed “ interference” in American party-politics. It is alledged (page 381) that the traveller has given “ a decision on the politics of America”-that he has non-suited the federalists”-and (page 382) " that he has demolished, as far as in him lies, the good name and reputation of a party, already labouring under a sufficient share of prejudice." These, Mr. Oldschool, are serious charges; but are they substantiated? No such thing! We have the mere u ipse dixit” of the remarker for it, without a single extract from the Travels in the shape of a proof; and we have no alternative but to receive it, or to prove a negative. The last course only can be adopted by having recourse to the work itself; and this is easiiy done. It has sold extensively, and been generally perused; and an appeal may be made to the numerous readers, wbether there be a vestige of evidence to support these charges. I have carefully perused the work, and have seen no such thing. On the contrary, I have found that Mr. Melish expressly disclaims all interference in the party-politics of the country, in so many words. In his preface, page 11, he thuş expresses himself: “ I have avoided all notice of local politics, except sometimes a mere VOL. II.
casual observation, not calculated to reflect on any party.". It appears to me that this has literally been the case; and I have frequently heard it remarked, by gentlemen of both sides of the political question, that there was not a single sentiment in the book calculated to give the smallest offence to any man, of any party. So much for politics.
The next charge against our author is Caledonianism (a novel charge to be sure) supported by evidence that he prefers Scottish reels and strathspeys to French cotillions; and is a great admi. rer of Robert Burns. As to the Scottish music and dancing, it is evident that the remarker knows nothing at all about it; and therefore he can form no more idea of it, than a man who has been blind all his life can form of the colours of the rainbow. I wish I could only introduce him to a Scottish assembly, that he might behold the ladies “fuot the floor" to the tune of the Cameronians rant, or Tullochgorum. Soon would he acknow. ledge his error, and own that he had been guilty of great rudeness to them, by comparing their feet to "apewterer's hammer." He would find that our author did them no more than justice, in adopting the pretty similie of Goldsmith_" their feet as pat to the music as its ecbo.",
As to Robert Burns, what Caledonian, or what admirer of genius would not be partial to him? But does it follow that an admirer of Burns must necessarily undervalue Shakspeare, and Milton, and Pope? I would have drawn a conclusion exactly the
An admirer of Burns must necessarily admire all the sons of genius, and none ever shone more bright in the firmament of human intellect than those mentioned. To admire Burns, and not to admire them, is an idea to be conceived only by a mind capable of tracing“ violent party zeal" in "a very tolerant notice" of the works of a political writer; and in attending a dinner party on the birth-day of an eminent and amiable statesman.
The last objection to the work is the alledged misapplication of the word by. I shall not dispute the point; but I can assure the remarker, that he is in a mistake, when he alledges 6 by is never put to the vehicle which carries us in America." Nothing is more common. A friend is going to Newyork: he is asked, by what conveyance? He answers, by the stage, or by the
steam-boat, as the case may be. The remarker says his ear is not "entirely gratified with the expression." That is a matter of taste, and who can dispute it? Indeed I have a fellow-feeling on this point, my own taste being somewhat singular. I am so unfashionable as to prefer telling my story in plain English, without trou. bling my readers with scraps of Latin or French. " Obiter dictum, maladie du pays, and nos patriam fugimus," may do well enough, and certainly show a great deal of learning but I think the English language sufficiently expressive without them-perhaps I want taste. I am more reconciled to the expressions “ contravene," " arraign," “ extra-judicial," " his own showing," and " non-suited,” because they serve to show, at least, the profession of an anonymous writer. But I confess my ears are shocked by such an unpolite word as the gallows; and they are not a little grated by such harsh expressions as “jigger,” “ brimful," and " Scoatchmen."
Notwithstanding these observations, however, I have all possible charity for the remarker. Being his and your humble servant,
A CITIZEN OF THE WORLD.
FRENCH LITERATURE-FOR THE PORT FOLIO.
OF FRENCH POETRY BEFORE AND SINCE THE TIME OF MAROT,
TO THAT OF CORNEILLE.
(Continued from page 188.) ALTHOUGH Marot rose above his cotemporaries, yet he had little influence upon their taste, and we do not find that poetry made any progress in his time. He who approached nearest to him was his friend Saint-Gelais; whose versification possesses great ease and sweetness, and of whom a few neat epigrams have been preserved. But he has less spirit and grace than Marot, whose fate has been very singular: for he had a sort of school two hundred years after his death. It was about the middle of this
age, and when the language, long since fixed, had become so different from his, that a fashion arose, which has been called Ma. rotisme. Rousseau, who has shown so much taste, and has composed his lyric poetry in such beautiful language, chose to go back to the sixteenth century, in his epistles, and, still more, in his allegories; and this dangerous example was imitated by a crowd of writers. But I shall defer an examination of the effects of this innovation, until I come to speak of Rousseau, remarking only, how seducing must be that style, which is imitated so long after it has become antiquated. At present we must pursue the progress
of our poetry The first who endeavoured to employ a more lofty style, and to transplant some of the beauties which they had admired among the ancients, were Dubellay, and especially Ronsard. The latter is as much decried now as he was praised in his own day; and there are good reasons for this apparent fickleness of taste. If it be the greatest of all faults in a writer that he cannot be read, how can we reproach ourselves for having forgotten Ronsard, when we can repeat, from memory, many of the pieces of Marot, and Saint-Gelais, who wrote thirty years before him? The reason is, that you cannot find in his writings four consecutive lines which can be remembered, his style is so affected and fantastic. Still, Ronsard was born with talents; he has a poetical vein; but those who, in denying him taste, conclude that he possessed judgment, seem to me to abuse the term, which signifies a great combination of talents. Certainly it does not consist in servilely engrafting upon a language which rejects them, the forms of the Greek and Latin idiom. Nor do his ideas make him great, for they are usually common or bombastic: nor can his invention acquire that title for him, since nothing can be more sterile than his Franciade. What fascinated his cotemporaries was an inflated style, before that time unknown. Although foreign to the language which he spoke, and better calculated to enfeeble than enrich, it dazzled because it was novel: and the more so, because he resembled the Greeks and Latins, whose empire erudition had just established, and whose writings were then most admired.
Let us add, in behalf of Ronsard, and his admirers, and fol. lowers, that the heroic style is beyond all comparison the most difficult: and if this opinion required any new demonstration, the French language will furnish it. Before it was formed, it possessed writers, at an early period, who knew how to give the graces of naiveté and gayety to its unadorned simplicity. But when it became necessary to use an elevated style, a style suited to great actions, all attempts failed, even to the time of Malherbe, although they were not contemptible; for it was some glory to at. tempt what was so difficult, and to take at least some bold steps in a path hitherto untrodden. Then it would have been real vigour, and true genius, to discover what character, what constructions, what arts, could be adopted to the language; how it might be freed from inversions which are not natural to it, in consequence of the defect of declensions and conjugations, properly so called, and the necessary train of auxiliaries and articles; to purge poetry from the hiatus which offends the ear, and to mingle, regularly, the masculine with the feminine rhyme, which produces so fine an effect. This was accomplished by Malherhe, who really possessed genius, and created his language; in which he differed from Ronsard, whose talents were rude, and who spoiled his language.
It is necessary to study his works, in order to recognise the merit which I have attributed to him, notwithstanding all his defects, and to distinguish some graces of harmony and expression which may be found in the midst of his barbarous bombast. It is not difficult to catch his plan of versification. It is evident that he strives to cast the French verses in a Greek and Latin mould; that he was sensible of the effect of various pauses, and picturesque epithets: but he lavishes them aukwardly; they present, in general, a rough and vulgar caricature. But still he has some happy touches, by which we may profit; for at this period, as I have already observed, he who fails frequently, but sometimes succeeds, may be useful. It is an ordeal to which art must be submitted, and it is in this way, to use the expression of Fontenelle, that the follies of parents are avoided by their children. Undoubtedly there is little art or merit in Frenchifying, arbitrarily, a crowd of Latin words, or converting Latin