Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

Of a very different character, and we have great pleasure in quoting it, is the subsequent passage, in which the noble author addresses the memory of the founder of his name and rank:

• Led by his hand, I first essay'd to walk,

O dear companion of my earliest steps,
With thee, o muse ; and from the beams of morn
To the pale twilight sought thy converse sweet.
Whatever in old Greece or Rome was done,
Or else recorded of those actions pure,
From thee I learnt, and from his counsel sage.
Grave was he, and severe ; but gentle too ;
And underneath a rough exterior hid
A heart, which pity melted into tears.
Farewell, my master, and my earliest friend !
But not farewell of thee the memory ;
Since all I am in fortune, or in rank,
In thought, or my inheritance of fame,
Bating my nature, to thy care I owe;
I should be viler than the dog, that tears
The hand that fed him from his earliest youth,
If I forsook thee, or thy gen'rous cause :
The seasons may pass on, and blanch my head,
And wither my shrunk check, and paint a map
Of woeful age upon my wrinkled brow;
But 'till the tomb outshuts me from the day,
And time disparts me from the things that were,
Thy memory shall unimpair'd remain,
Boundless, as I must still be less, than thee :
While Spring shall for her blossoms be desir'd,
Or Summer for her sweets, while Autumn pale
With fruitage shall be crown’d, or Winter rule
In storms and tempests the dejected year,
So long, O my first master, while I live,

Shall I forget not either thee or thine.' The lines on the vanity of Conquest in p.13. are spirited, although the subject is trite, and has been treated by poets of all ages and merits. Throughout the whole of this poem, we perceive an obvious attempt to imitate the manner of Milton: but the author has caught more of the obscurity of that great man than of his brilliancy; and the cumbrous style of the versification is ill justified by the shallow and unimportant thoughts which are wrapt up in it.

On the translation from the chorus of the Hippolitus of Euripides by Lord Chancellor Thurlow, we cannot bestow so much praise as the noble Editor seems to think it deserves. It is succeeded by a translation from the same hand, of Homer's Battle of the Frogs and Mice, which is certainly executed with great fidelity and spirit. The learned author has been particularly

happy happy in the imitation of the Greek compounds, and especially in the names of the heroes of this long celebrated war; such as Bladder-cheek, Crumb-catch, Gnaw-gammon, and Nibble-biscuit. As specimens, we may quote the speech of the unfortunate Mouse in the first canto :

“ Him Crumb-Catch answer'd quick in vocal sounds;

Why, friend, my birth demand, so known to men,
To gods, and to the fowl, who wing the sky ?
My name is Crumb-Catch, and I am the son
of Nibble-Biscuit, my great-hearted sire ,
Lick-Mill's my mother, king Gnaw-Gammon's child,
She bore me in a hole, and brought me up
With figs, and nuts, and every sort of food.
But how make me thy friend, unlike in kind?
Thy living is in waters, but my food,
Whatever man is us'd to eat. The loaf
Thrice-kneaded, in the neat round basket kept,
Escapes not me, nor wafer flat and long
Mix'd with much sesame, nor bacon-slice,
Nor liver, cloth'd in jacket of white lard,
Nor cheese, fresh curdled from delicious milk,
Nor the good sweet-meats, which the wealthy love,
Nor what else cooks prepare to feast mankind,
Dressing their dishes with each kind of sauce -
Nor ever do I fy the deadly shout
Of war: but with the host advancing straight
The foremost champions join; nor man himself
I dread, although he bears so huge a trunk;
But scale his bed, and bite his fingers' ends,
And seize his heel; and yet no pain invades
The man, nor flies his sweet sleep at my bite.
But these two chief I fear in all the earth,
The hawk and cat; who work my heavy woe ;
And doleful trap, where treach’rous death resides ;
And most I dread a cat of the first kind,
Who, when a mouse takes hole, belays the hole.
I eat no cabbage, radishes, or gourd ;
Nor can I on pale beet or parsley brouse ;

This is your food, whose dwelling is the pool.' The speech of Minerva too, when she is called by Jupiter to assist the routed Mice, is happily translated :

“ So spake the son of Saturn ; Pallas thus ; .

Oh! never, father, would I go to help
The mice distress’d, for they do me much harm,
Spoiling my wreaths, and lamps, to get the oil.
And this much frets my mind, which they have done :
They gnaw'd my robe I took such pains to weave,
Threading with slender warp the slender woof,
And made holes in it; now the clothier comes

For

For interest on me: I am downright mad,
I wove on tick, and have it not to pay.
But in like manner I'll not aid the frogs,

For they are not discreet.' The description of the crabs, which closes the poem, is another instance of successful imitation of the compound epithets of the Greek.

The production intitled Virgil's Ghost' is not without humour, but, unfortunately, for that quality of it (which constitutes its only merit) the noble author is indebted to Dr. Johnson's well-known little piece beginning “ Hermit hoar in dreary cell,”

Ariadne is a dramatic poem evidently intended as an imitation of Milton's Comus, with some borrowing from “ The Tempest." The heroine of it is not the classical personage of that name, but a fanciful lady, who (to use her own words) was born of Troy, upon the wave. The espoused queen, her mother, bringing forth, what time the Duke her father, from sweet Corinth led her (the mother) home ;' from which account, our readers will perhaps know nearly as much of her birth and family as we do. We should, however, add that her father was Menelaus Duke of Troy. The other principal characters in the piece are Amphitrite, and Ariel, her messenger, Lord Marinell, Marsaces, and Enceladus ; so that (judging by their names) they form a tolerably motley group of “all nations and languages.” Ariadne is first discovered on the shore of a desert island, weeping. Amphitrite, desirous of knowing what brought her there, and

• What the winds have done, or fortune's spite,

By wat'ry evil, that the maiden stands,

Disconsolate, upon that yellow shore,' and having requested information on those points, with some threats, from Nereus and Æolus, (but without waiting for their answers,) dispatches Ariel to bring her,

E’er the darkness steal,

Word of Ariadne's weal.' The messenger, in the disguise of a shepherd, accosts the lady, who readily tells him her history; confessing that the cause of her grief is separation from the Lord Marinell, with whom she had fled from her father's court, and from the persecution of her step-mother and of Marsaces a rival lover. In what manner the separation happened, we do not clearly comprehend: but, Ariel having carried to his mistress the information thus acquired, she conjures up the giant Enceladus, from whom Rev. Sept. 1814.

D

she

she extorts information as to the place where Marinell is to be found, and immediately dispatches Ariel to restore him to Ariadne ; which errand we are left to suppose is duly executed;

for he says,

"I will go

More fleet, than lightning, to my loved task :
For I perceive, sweet Mistress, there shall come
From this dear union all the world thinks good,
Peace, and true laws, and equal liberty :

Am I prophetick, O beloved Queen?' This passage, we presume, contains the ' allusion to passing events,' mentioned by the author in the preface.- Such is the story (if so it may be called) of this piece, and the composition is much on a par with it. All the lyric parts are without merit, as Ariel's song,

• See they quake,' &c. p.10. and Amphitrite’s promise to Ariel in the same;

• There, beneath the Moon's pale eye,

In a cowslip you shall lie,
Fann'd by od'rous winds to sleep,

Fuming from the charter'd deep. For a specimen of this kind of composition, our readers may take, once for all, the chorus of Ariel's song at the end of the second part :

• Who will, may follow me
O'er the bright and curved sea ;

For I go,
To let Amphitrite know,
With my pretty yes and no,

That these things are so and so.' 'Those parts of the poem are rather better which are in blank verse ; as may partly be seen from these lines in Ariadne's account of her early life:

« And love I knew not, nor I car'd to know.

So fifteen summers warbled o'er my head,
And I, beneath my mother's careful eye,
Like a young bird, that must be taught her tune,
Liv'd happy, and suspecting of no change.
The sixteenth summer, and, o shepherd, then
My mother died; and I remember well,
'Twas when the almonds blossom, and a bird
She lov'd and fed died first upon the eve,
And then she follow'd innocent and sweet.
Forgive me if I weep; I oft have wept,
Though many years have pass’d: but tears are vain.
My inother died, and then my father sought
Another love; and thence came all my woe.'

On

On the whole, the piece is most tediously drawn out through three parts, and 57 pages, with very few poetical passages and still less variety to relieve the general dullness and monotony:

The Doge's Daughter is written throughout in verses of eight syllables ; and a more delectable specimen of namby pamby we have seldom, if ever, been doomed to peruse. The Duge and his Daughter (like some other persons in similar situations, if we may allude 'to passing events,') disagree about the matrimonial arrangements of the latter; and the young lady, as the shortest mode of settling the question, under the reluctant advice of an old nurse, betakes herself to flight,--though not in a Hackney-coach. She afterwarit falls in, by a well-design’d accident, with the lover of her choice on his road to join the warriors; and the young lady, most heroically bent on assisting him, equips herself in armour, and follows him to battle. Here, however, she is very much in his way, being thrown from her horse on the first onset, and occasioning him the trouble of defending her, in addition to that of protecting himself: all this, too, from pure generosity, since he does not know who the gallant knight really is, till, the battle being over,

The shatter'd helmet he unbound,
And on the verdure all around
The golden tresses 'gan to play
Like beams of th' oriental day,
And Heliodore before him lay.'

P. 28.
This is Tasso's Tancred and Clorinda, over again.

As the reader may expect that our opinion should be justified by an extract, we take at random a part of the nurse's speech in the first canto, when she is dissuading her mistress from the imprudent step in which she afterward joins her:

• Say, the youth is fierce and brave,

Full of virtue and delight,
Yet he is not in your sight,
Nor he cannot be again ;
What then can be more idle pain,
Than to tear your heart for one,
Who cannot to your arms be won ?
Would you with Frangipani go,
An exile, o'er the mountain's snow?
Or with Frangipani sleep,
In the caves of forests deep,
Underneath dishonour'd boughs ?
Would you be the windy spouse
Of a Corsair, on the deck
Baring that immortal neck ?
O my Heliodora, bred
In the golden marriage-bed,
D 2

Fed

}

« AnteriorContinuar »