« ZurückWeiter »
heads in the caption of our article, (although we have no doubt it is all valuable,) with the exception of two or three, which most attracted our attention.
Not having noticed any of the poetical effusions of our countrymen for some time past, we felt it a duty to make an incursion into the regions of the muses; we accordingly instituted a search in the book-store ; and the result of our labours appears in the title.
“ LOGAN," on looking at the date, we find, does not come within our jurisdiction. It is founded on the affecting incident mentioned in Jefferson's notes. The speech, of course, cannot be improved, by the shackles of the octo-syllabic measure. The versification of this poem is generally correct; and some descriptive parts are fair; but there is no new intelligence from Parnassus in it, to the best of our knowledge. But here is our old friend Doctor M•Henry come again, twaddling in heroics about the PLEASURES OF FRIENDSHIP,--and several other things, as far as we can gather from a hasty survey. What will he do next? But he is over the water, publishing his romances for the benefit of Europe ; and it would be unfair to pass any judgment upon him, when he is not at home to appeal and recriminate, in “his usual purlite and genteel manner," as Gregory Grunt would express himself. By-the-bye, the Doctor has got out a new novel lately, as we have understood. It is proper that some one should review it. It must be a very interesting work.--His iambics are smooth enough, and there is, doubtless, much good poetry in the “ Pleasures of Friendship, and other poems. If any of the author's admirers will be kind enough to find it, and leave a memorandum with our publishers, we will treat him--to a set of our journal from the commencement.
The next poem in our catalogue is written by a lady. It makes us feel in a more sober mood. We would hearken to the voice of propriety, which sounds in our ear~“ procul, O! procul, este profani”--and we must apologise for the awkward juxtaposition in which the work is accidentally placed: but we cannot forbear expressing our regrets, that the writer seems unhappy; and, as a resource, has applied--not to the fountain of living waters—but to a stream, which, though its origin may be in Castalia, is defiled, and troubled, and made bitter, by the channels in which it has been forced to wander. Mere passion, however intense, unconnected with associations of heroic or virtuous interest in its object, is not a theme calculated to produce a soothing effect on the feelings, while the imagination is running riot in impure impossibilities.
The sensuality of modern poetry may seduce a very innocent fancy; and the inevitable proneness to imitation, will lead a chaste mind to borrow, in its creations, images, whose origin its own simplicity has prevented it from distinctly apprehending. But if, in the exacerbation or apathy of the better feelings, the appetite of the creative power, which strives to substitute dreams for realities, is permitted to feed on fruit forbidden by good taste, as well as sound morality, the faculty itself becomes soon vitiated, and its desires and aspirations sickly and disgust. ing. It is at first like drinking small drams, and in its end like living upon poison. There is no doubt that the cant of certain modern reviewers, inconsistent as it has been with their own writings and lives, has done more than any thing else, towards giving notoriety to a kind of writing, which the good sense and decency of thought, in the present generation, would have proscribed, had not such oracular tirades of nonsense, and such ludicrous horror at the effusions of the Satanic school, at once excited suspicion of a superiority in the works so weakly assailed, which they did not in fact possess, and a curiosity to examine them, which was illy repaid by its gratification. Where common sense and taste are brought to bear, in an unsophisticated state, upon such productions and such criticisms, they are soon despatched from their consideration, with no very complimentary expedition. But the loves of any devil and any mortal woman, (on one of these gests we believe this poem is founded,) require the management of a superior mind, to be at all tolerable.
On a more rigid scrutiny, and by gazing intently through the dim obscure of this narrative, we have no doubt it is the first fyt of the story of Tobias in the Apocrypha; and contains the particulars of the death of the first of the seven lovers of Anna, (here called Sephora,) who were destroyed on their wedding nights, by the fiend, until Tobias smoked him
the chimney. With all respect to the volume whence it is taken, and to the author, we do not like the subject for poetical purposes. And with sincerity, we trust, and without affectation, we would recommend either to a desolate heart or diseased imagination, the New Testament; in preference to traditions, which have been preserved for reasons of which we know nothing—and to Voltaire's introduction to his Universal History; a volume which contains more no-such-things than any other of the same size, not excepting the Koran, Joe Miller, and the Arabian Nights. If we are taxed with a want of decorum, in thus far venturing our advice, we refer for our justification to the first note to this poem ; in which we are told, that " the God who conducted
the Hebrews, sent a malignant spirit to speak from the mouths of the prophets, in order to deceive king Acbab.” Who was this “the God"-according to the creed of Christians, Jews, and even Mahommedans ?
With an imagination thus- unnaturally excited, and many errors of mere language, this writer has some power of conception, fertility in illustration, and felicity of expression. We shall not quote from Zophiel, but select the best verses from the preliminary Invocation, as the fairest specimen of her abilities :
« Thou with the dark blue eye upturned to heaven,
Daughter of God,most dear,
Come with thy quivering tear,
"Come Poesy ! not like some just-formed maid,
But of such age be seen
As Egypt's glowing queen,
« Or as thy Sappho, when too fierce assailed
Her love by scorn repaid
Her friendship true betrayed,
“ And still, as wild barbarians fiercely break
Where arts too long have lain
Debased at pleasure's fane,
6 Methinks I see thee on the broken shrine
With many a flow'ret wild;
While some lone, pensive child
6 Friend of the wretched ; smoother of the couch
Where through the wakeful night,
Lies a pale youth, upon his pallet low,
“ Friendless—oppressed by fate—the restless fires
Till, strengthened by thine aid,
He shapes some kindred maid,
Thy sovereign priest by earth's vile sons was driven
The damp cave mocked his sigbs
But from his sightless eyes,
"Thou sought'st him in his desolation; placed
Bade him for visions live
More bright than worlds can give;
Source of deep feeling---of surpassing love-
Since man from dust arose.
His birth the cherub owes
“ Forsake me not! none ever loved thee more!
If mid the scene severe
Thou'lt drop on me one tear,
The present of its ills—I'll scorn them and adore.”—pp. 13-19. Of Mr. John Turvill Adams, next presented in our catalogue, we have only leisure to remark, that his rhymes are more pleasing than his blank verse. We select a sonnet, which, though not original, is very creditable to him, both as a versifier, and a modest man:
*«On the banks of the Meles was shown the spot where Critheis, the mother of Homer, brought him into the world, and the cavern to which he retired to compose his immortal verses. A monument erected to his memory, and inscribed with his name, stood in the middle of the city it was adorned with spacious porticos under which the citizens assembled."
“Spirit of Poesy ! thou whom my heart
Hath loved, and with a passion so intense,
How thee and her, I rightly may adore.''-p. 24. We have not introduced the continuation of Don Juan, for the purpose of making any idle declamation against its immorality, or gratuitous jeremiads over the sad waste of time and ingenuity which it exhibits. If the author wished to be read, he made as sad a mistake as can well be imagined, in selecting such a title and such a subject. We speak with deferential homage to the memory of the greatest poet of our age; but those who did read Don Juan, had got enough of him, before death terminated the career of the illustrious bard, among whose foibles was the creation of this Epic, as he was pleased to call it. With the exception of a very few gleamings, like angels' visits, of original power, the latter cantos might have been written by a very ordinary poet. The book before us, except for its frequent inaccuracies of versification, and the overstrained ambition, which vaults and overleaps itself, in the passages where the author aims at the sublime, might, for aught we can see, have been mistaken for an authentic continuation. Why then do we notice it at all? Because it is in our list; and because the author is an American, and possesses no equivocal talent; which, with proper culture, might produce results that would entitle him to the lasting praise of his country
We waste no sympathy for his error; as he would not thank us if we did. if he is determined to bastardize the offspring of his fancy, he has a perfect right so to do; and the community have an equal right, which they most assuredly will exercise, of totally neglecting the spurious progeny. But if he possesses, as we believe he does, the original faculty of the poet; if, on perusing the nobler efforts of the great masters of the art, he feels an inward glow, which announces “Ed io anche son pittore ;" if he has high and holy aspirations for the ideal of beauty, of purity, and of pleasure; if he has an inextinguishable longing for an immortal and honourable fame-he should not, in his better years, while feeling is intense and fancy prolific, eat the husks of the prodigal, in an unclean fold, but