Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

And leads him on from flower to flower
A weary chase and wasted hour,
Then leaves him, as it soars on high,
With panting heart and tearful eye:
So Beauty lures the full-grown child
With hue as bright, and wing as wild ;
A chase of idle hopes and fears,
Begun in folly, closed in tears.

If won, to equal ills betrayed,
Woe waits the insect and the maid,
A life of pain, the loss of peace,
From infant's play, and man's caprice :
The lovely toy so fiercely sought
Has lost its charm by being caught,
For every touch that wooed its stay
Has brush'd its brightest hues away,
Till charm, and hue, and beauty gone,
'Tis left to fly or fall alone.
With wounded wing, or bleeding breast,
Ah! where shall either victim rest ?
Can this with faded pinion soar
From rose to tulip as before?
Or beauty, blighted in an hour,
Find joy within her broken bower?
No: gayer insects fluttering by
Ne'er droop the wing o'er those that die,
And lovelier things have mercy shown
To every failing but their own,
And every woe a tear can claim

Except an erring sister's shame.' p. 6-3. The sentiment of the following passage is striking and original ; but the image by which it is illustrated, is not of a poetical character, nor introduced with much elegance of language ; while the minuteness into which it is pursued is still more objectionable than in the preceding example,

. To love the softest hearts are prone,

But such can ne'er be all his own;
Too timid in his woes to share,
Too meek to meet, or brave despair ;
And sterner hearts alone may feel
The wound that time can never heal.
The rugged metal of the mine
Must burn before its surface shine,
But plung'd within the furnace-flame,
It bends and melts-though still the same ;
Then tempered to thy want, or will,
"Twill serve thee to defend or kill ;
A breastplate for thine hour of need,
Or blade to bid thy foeman bleed,

But if a dagger's form it bear,
Let those, who shape its edge, beware!
Thus passion's fire, and woman's art,
Can turn and tame the sterner heart;
From these its form and tone is ta’en,
And what they make it, must remain,

But break-before it bend again.' p. 27-28. We shall add but one other exceptionable passage ; in which also, though there is much force both of conception and expression, the same ambition of originality has produced a degree of harshness in the diction, and an air of studied ingenuity in the thought, which is very remote from the general style either of the piece or its author. · The Mind, that broods o'er guilty woes,

Is like the Scorpion girt by fire,
In circle narrowing as it glows
The flames around their captive close,
Till inly search'd by thousand throes,

And maddening in her ire,
One sad and sole relief she knows,
The sting she nourish'd for her foes,
Whose venom never yet was vain,

>
Gives but one pang, and cures all pain,
And darts into her desperate brain.
So do the dark in soul expire,
Or live like Scorpion girt by fire ;
So writhes the mind by conscience riven,
Unfit for earth, undoom'd for heaven,
Darkness above, despair beneath,

Around it flame, within it death! p. 8, 9. There is infinite beauty and effect, though of a painful and almost oppressive character, in the following extraordinary passage; in which the author has illustrated the beautiful, but still and melancholy aspect, of the once busy and glorious shores of Greece, by an image more true, more mourntul, and more exquisitely finished, than any that we can now recollect in the whole compass of poetry.

• He who hath bent him o'er the dead,
Ere the first day of death is filed;
The first dark day of nothingness,
The last of danger and distress ;
(Before Decay's effacing fingers
Have swept the lines wliere beauty lingers,)
And mark'd the mild angelic air
The rapture of repose that's there-
The fixed yet tender traits that streak
The languor of the placid cheek,

[ocr errors]

And—but for that sad shrouded eye,

That fires not—wins not-weeps not-now

And but for that chill changeless brow,
Whose touch thrills with mortality,
And curdles to the gazer's heart,
As if to him it could impart
The doom he dreads, yet dwells upon-
Yes--but for these and these alone,
Some moments--aye-one treacherous hour,
He still might doubt the tyrant's power,
So fair-s0 calm-so softly seal'd
The first last look by death reveald!

Such is the aspect of this shore-
'Tis Greece-but living Greece no more!
So coldly sweet, so deadly fair,
We start-for soul is wanting there.
Hers is the loveliness in death,
That parts not quite with parting breath ;
But beauty with that fearful bloom,
That hue which haunts it to the tomb
Expression's last receding ray,
A gilded halo hovering round decay,

The farewell beam of Feeling past away!
Spark of that flame-perchance of heavenly birth-
Which gleams—but warms no more its cherish'd earth!' p.

3-5. The Oriental costume is preserved, as might be expected, with admirable fidelity through the whole of this poem ; and the Turkish original of the tale is attested, to all but the bolder sceptics of literature, by the great variety of untranslated words which perplex the unlearned reader in the course of these fragments. Kiosks, Caiques and Muezzins, indeed, are articles with which all readers of modern travels are forced to be pretty familiar ; but Chiaus, palampore, and ataghan, are rather more puzzling: They are well sounding words, however; and as they probably express things for which we have no appropriate words of our own, we shall not now object to their introduction. But we cannot extend the same indulgence to Phingart, which signifies merely the moon; which, though an humble monosyllable, we maintain to be a very good word either for verse or prose, and can, on no account, allow to be supplanted, at this time of day, by any such new and unchristian appellation.

The faults of diction which may be charged against the noble author are sufficiently apparent in several of the passages we have quoted, and need not be farther specified. They are faults, some of them of carelessness, and some, we think, of bad taste-but as they are not very flagrant in either way, it would probably do the author no good to point them out particularly to his nos

[graphic]

tice. The former, we suspect, he would not take the trouble to correct,—and of the existence of the latter we are not sure that we should easily convince him.

We hope, however, that he will go on, and give us more fragments from his Oriental collections; and, powerful as he is in the expression of the darker passions and more gloomy emotions from which the energy and the terrors of poetry are chiefly derived, we own we should like now and then to meet in his pages with something more cheerful, more amiable, and more tender. The most delightful, and, after all, the most poetical of all illusions are those by which human happiness and human virtue and affection are magnified beyond their natural dimensions, and represented in purer and brighter colours than nature can furnish, even to partial observation. Such enchanting pictures not only gladden life by the glories which they pour on the imagination-but exalt and improve it, by raising the standard both of excellence and enjoyment beyond the vulgar level of sober precept and actual example; and produce on the ages and countries which they adorn, something of the same effect, with the occasional occurrence of great and heroic characters in real life —those moral avatars, by whose successive advents the dignity of our nature is maintained against a long series of degradations, and its divine original and high destination made palpable to the feelings of all to whom it belongs. The sterner and more terrible poetry which is conversant with the guilty and vindictive passions, is not indeed without its use both in purging and in exalting the soul: But the delight which it yields is of a less pure, and more overpowering nature ; and the impressions which it leaves behind are of a more dangerous and ambiguous tendency. Energy of character and intensity of emotion are sublime in themselves, and attractive in the highest degree as objects of admiration ; but the admiration which they excite, when presented in combination with worthlessness and guilt, is one of the most powerful corrupters and perverters of our moral nature ;' and is the more to be lamented, as it is most apt to exert its influence on the noblest characters. The poetry of Lord Byron is full of this perversion ; and it is because we conceive it capable of producing other and still more delightful sensations than those of admiration, that we wish to see it employed upon subjects less gloomy ond revolting than those to which it has hitherto been almost exclusively devoted.

ART. III. An Account of a Trigonometrical Survey, and of the

Measurement of an Arc of the Meridian in the Peninsula of India By Major William Lambton, of the 33d Regiment of Foot.

(From the Asiatic Researches, Vol. VIII. X. &. XII.) THE THE measurement of the distance between the meridians of

Paris and of Greenwich in 1787, formed a new era in the art of Trigonometrical Surveying. The instruments employed in that operation were of such a superior construction, as to afford a measure of many quantities which were before only known from theory to exist. Though it was perfectly understood that the three angles of a triangle on the surface of a spherical body like the earth, must necessarily exceed two right angles, yet a quantity so minute as to bear the same proportion to four right angles which the area of the triangle bore to half the superficies of the globe, had eluded the best intruments yet applied to the purposes of practical geometry. It was not till the survey just mentioned, that the new thcodolite of RAMSDEN, in the hands of General Roy, and the repeating circle of BORDA, in those of the French mathematicians, were able to measure a quantity, where even fractions of a second must be accurately ascertained. The exquisite division of the former of these instruments, and the power possessed by the latter, of not only measuring any angle, but any multiple of it, and any number of multiples, rendered them perfectly equal to such delicate observations. The advantage of this was quickly perceived; for the spherical excess, or the excess of the three angles of the triangle above two right angles, depending entirely on the area of the triangle, could be estimated with sufficient accuracy before the angles were correctly determiner, and therefore might serve for a check on the observations, as effectual as that which is furnished by the well known property of plane triangles, that the three angles are always equal to 180 degrees. This was remarked by General Roy, and applied to the purpose of estimating the accuracy and correcting the errors of his observations: The French geometers carried their views farther; and in seeking to turn the knowledge of this limit to the greatest advantage, LE GENDRE discovered, that if each of the angles of a small spherical triangle be diminished by one third of the spherical excess, their sincs become proportional to the lengths of the opposite sides of the triangle, so that the ratios of the sides may be found by the rules of plane trigonometry.

In a science where all the parts are necessarily connected with

« AnteriorContinuar »