« ZurückWeiter »
The arch upreared by nature's architect,
“She, as she gazed with grateful wonder, pressed
Her sheltered love to her impassioned breast;
And why not also Torquil and his bride ?" The lovers thus escape; but Christian and his two unfortunate comrades perish, after a gallant defence, described with a freedom and spirit, which prove the poet's independence of, or rather his power over, the shackles of metre. There are few more interesting narratives than this, considered as a mere story. There is much fine abstract poetry, which we cannot venture to quote, after the length to which our article has run.
The translation of the first canto of Morgante Maggiore ap
pears in this edition, for the first time, we believe, in America. It was an experiment in which no one was as likely to succeed as Byron. Pulci, however, is much more valuable for his antiquity, and as the forerunner of Ariosto, than for his intrinsic poetry or wit.
In the advertisement, the translator refers to the doubts as to his intentions, in so frequently introducing religious topics ; and inclines to the opinion, that it was done with no purpose of deriding sacred subjects, an attempt which would have been alike hazardous, in the age in which he wrote, to his literary reputation and personal safety. In this supposition we concur without hesitation. The cotemporaneous poetry of that age, in all countries, partakes of the same leaven; and we are induced to smile, in reading the ancient ballad poetry of England, at the pious beginnings and conclusions of the legends of love and war, in the course of many of which the poets seem to have forgotten their preliminary devotions with extraordinary despatch. But whatever may have been Pulci's latent intention, there is no mistake in this version, in which an air of ridicule is too obviously assumed, in invocations and allusions, which should only be uttered with solemnity.
We find, interspersed through this edition, (such another hodge-podge no human eye ever saw, some lines to Lady Byron, and three farewell addresses “ To a Lady," on leaving England, with which we have not met before. The three Jatter are far inferior to the exquisite stanzas to Thyrza and Mary. The first was written, no doubt, in an overflowing of the heart, with a fulness of sincere affection, which, there is too much reason to believe, was not reciprocated.
“There is a mystic thread of life
So dearly wreathed with mine alone,
At once must sever both or none.
Have often gazed with fond delight;
And dreams restore it through the night.
Such thrills of rapture through my breast,
Unless that voice would join the rest.
Affection's tale upon the cheek;
Proclaims more love than words can speak.
And none had ever pressed before;
It vowed to make me sweetly blessed,
And mine--mine only, pressed it more.
Hath pillowed oft this aching head;
An eye whose tears with mine are shed.
In unison so closely sweet,
They* both must heave, or cease to beat.
In gentle streams so calmly run,t
They cannot part--those souls are one !" We quote these lines less for their poetical spirit, than for their breathing the language of affection. Whoever doubts their sincerity, must be insensible to the gentler passions, and incapable of appreciating their natural expression.
The generation to whom the former school of poetry was familiar in their youth, does not, of course, relish the productions of the new, with an admiration equal to that felt by their children. Of those whose fondness for the language of imagination and passion has been developed by the unparalleled fertility of the minstrels of the present age, who, if asked to designate the greatest among the laurelled band, can hesitate for a moment in declaring his preference? Who has swept the chords of the human heart, with the most wizard skill; or whose numbers dwell longest on the ear of memory, and recur most frequently, awakened by a thousand associations ? And if we call over the long roll of the bards of Albion, respectable as it is for masters in every department of the pleasing and noble art; after we have mentioned Spenser, and Shakspeare, and Milton, what name shall we next venture to add to the splendid triad ? The interval is long over which we are compelled to pass; the period once called the Augustan age of English literature, does not yield a compeer to these illustrious poets; and we can rest, in our inquest, with complete satisfaction, only upon the name of BYRON.
* Presumed to be the correct reading; there being no sense in the passage in the present edition.
+ The graminatical error in this verse is probably the poet's own. He was frequently guilty of similar oversights, from the rapidity with which he wrote. Whoever has tried his hand at manufacturing verses, has experienced the often recurring difficulty, when the verb concludes the line, and must be obstinately singular or plural, in opposition to the requisitions of the rhyme.
ART. XXIV.-Mornings at Bow-street ; a Selection of the most
humorous and entertaining Reports which have appeared in the London Morning Herald. By J. Wight, Reporter to the Morning Herald. With illustrations, by GEORGE CRUIK
New-York. For sale by the principal booksellers. 1826.
THERE must be an amazing dearth of polite literature, as our readers will probably remark, when a reviewer is driven from the regions of Parnassus to those of St. Giles ; from plucking flowers on Helicon, to inspecting cabbages and cauliflowers in the purlieus of Covent Garden; from classical sounds of the uproar of Billingsgate.
6 'Tis as though the eagle
To chatter loose and ribald" Fie on Mr. Milman! We dare not quote all his words, though he is the very pink and jonquille of modern propriety. But what is to be done? We felt inclined to write a book ourselves, about which there could be no difficulty; but we could not get it printed in time to review it for this number, What then is to be done under the exigent circumstances of the case? We must take such specimens of the taste of the times as we find provided for us, and “not look the gift-horse in the mouth."
We have all seen and read Mornings in Town and Country, and Mornings ina ll the principal cities of Europe ; Evenings at Home, Evenings in Autumn, and in all the other seasons; but our reporter for the Morning Herald, has chosen to devote his elegant leisure to Mornings in the Police Office; with the philosophical purpose of extracting from the exhibition afforded by the matunine resurrection of the votaries of Bacchus, Mercury, Venus, and Mars, (if the tremendous father of Rome may be considered as one of the patrons of the fancy,) whatever met his own perception of the ludicrous, or could be travestied into something which might satisfy the effectual demand (to use the scientific language of the political economists) of the newspaper reading market. There is certainly nothing which may not be burlesqued. It is easy enough to conceive that there is but one step from the sublime to the ridiculous. A little hero, (and almost all heroes are little,) cuts but a sorry
figure in a picture-window, with a cocked hat and sword too big for Goliath of Gath, however well he may appear in a gazette, or in an epic poem. But that propensity of our nature, which leads us to make mirth out of moral obliquity, to consider distress and misery, in their concrete appearance, as highly amusing affairs, and to turn human vice and sorrow, (as the French tutor complains, in one of Matthews's exhibitions) " into ridiculousness," can only be ascribed to Adam's fall, wherein, as the primer properly observes,
"We sinned all.” It is, to be sure, after all, rather a funny sight, to see a young, or an old gentleman, brought up at sunrise in the morning, before the worshipful, courteous, and amiable magistrates, who preside over the nocturnal and diurnal morals of a large city. Refreshed by slumber, and wide awake by turning out of his dormitory at so early and healthy an hour, gently breathed and exercised by his walk to the tribunal, the modern prætor seats himself in his chair, with a countenance full of smiles, a voice mellifluous as the lark's saluting the morn, and an insinuating manner, the charms of which cannot be expressed. (At least, so we are told. We are ready to make affidavit, that we have never been in the watch-house, except on works of necessity or mercy.) But then those who have been out a-larking, after the solemn noon of night; who have been fatigued by their peripatetic exercises ; who have, perhaps, stimulated a little beyond the measure of prudence, and have then been compelled to invoke “nature's sweet restorer, balmy sleep," in an attitude almost any how-on a bench, or in a dark corner—what an awkward squad they compose! They have been very naughty, and we ought to be sorry and ashamed for them. "But they cut such a droll figure, from crown to toe, that we feel, for the moment, as if it were more natural to laugh than to shed tears. Their beavers are knocked into divers representations of solids, unenumerated in the eleventh book of Euclid. Their locks are in no wise Cesarean, but resemble rather those of Absalom, after he was hauled down from his state of dependency. Their eyes are not " in a fine frenzy rolling,” but like the sun at the same probable hour, are struggling through clouds and mist, squinting a few slant, occasional beams, as if in search of what may be visible. A little comm. sap. et aqua. font. would certainly be a good prescription for the improvement of their complexions. Then consider their gait, and the management of their several members. A leader charging at the head of his squadron; a great Vol. II.