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college sanction) that he whom his country “cingit optatis honoribus," may be generally admitted " radiare lumine splendido;" and, further, that lumen is always more or less splendidum, and that such an epithet is better omitted than inserted. Besides, the final syllable of patriă, in this line, being short, the line is no verse at all.* A false quantity of this sort would under Dr. Busby, Dr. Parr, or Dr. Burney, have been as closely associated with a flogging, as shadow with substance, or a tree with its bark: but under those masters, boys of so much talent and literary ambition as Griffin and Da Ponte, would, even in the lower regions of nonsense-verse, have been far removed from such an error as the one we have just noticed.
“ Sublimem puerum ad sidera tollite
Præcurrens, &c.” It is not very clear to what nominative or vocative this verb tollite is referrible; and as the proverb tells us that “wbat is every man's business, is no man's," the poor palm-deserver might remain fixed to the earth for want of some further stagedirection. Here, again, we have a false quantity in the final syllable of meruit. The whole of this lyric attempt accords with the specimen we have given above; but the two concluding lines exhibit so curious a specimen of the ouolotehsurov, that we are unwilling to pass them by unnoticed :
Est dignus meritis, dignus honoribus,
Vestris hic quoque sit dignus amoribus." Surely, the partial schoolmaster who endorsed such verses as these with the eulogistic “ præclaré, optimé, præclarissimé, honos," &c. should have recollected Dr. Johnson's reproof of a praiser not qualified to praise : “I wish you would consider the value of your flattery, before you bother me with it."
The second poem has for its thesis some celebrated lines in Seneca, that we shall insert, as containing a prophecy that cannot but interest us of this new world, which the Roman tragedian is said to have here shadowed out: it is a little singular that the poetical subject of a poetical exercise should stand at its head divested wholly of the measure in which Seneca was writing. We shall, of course, give them in their author's dress; their prosaic disguise or transmogrification may be seen by reference to the printed volume: they form part of a chorus in Seneca's Medea.
* In noticing these false quantities, we are not regardless of the power of the cæsura ; but though we feel all due respect for this poetical license in the lengthy poems of Virgil, Lucretius, &c. we protest totis viribus against its applicability in short copies of verses like those before us: in many of which, as readers of attuned ears must painfully perceive, there is no cæsura at all. Horace seems to have bad a great objection to this figure of prosody, probably for the reason we have assigned, that it is not admissible in compositions of a limited extent. In the Ode of which Mr. Griffin's is at once a servile and most unsuccessful imitation, and iu two others of the same metre, no short syllable, made long by cæsura, is to be found.
- Venient annis
Ultima Thule.” Whether Seneca had a presentiment of our western world, or not, it must be admitted that they apply to us in a very remarkable manner; as was first observed, if we mistake not, by that Bishop Berkley to whom Pope has attributed “every virtue under beaven.” From this rectification of the order of these celebrated lines, let us proceed to see how far they served to inspire the muse of Mr. Griffin..
“ Audebat quondam transire profunda Columbus
Æquora,” &c. Can any thing be tamer than this! and should not the manifest misuse of the imperfect, but continuous action implied in audebat, have been by the master pointed out ? The adventure of Columbus took place several centuries since, and yet this illchosen tense is employed in relation to it, merely because ausus est (the perfect tense) could not be introduced into the bald hexameter that commences the poem! In verse the eighteenth we are told that,
“ Ipse gubernabat navem, clavumque gerebat.” If this sickening tautology escaped the boy-poet, how could his master avoid noticing it? Is criticism made up wholly of praise? Or, if faults there are, does friendship require that they should be suppressed? The justly lamented author of these failures ended the short voyage of his life without knowing the shoals and quicksands that he had escaped; but, does candour require that those who come after him should not be warned of the dangers that await them if they venture upon similar undertakings with no better preparation ? When Virgil means to raise Æneas in our estimation, we are furnished with reasonable grounds of admiration :
“ Ipse, sedens, clavumque regit, velisque ministrat.” The hero not only governs the helm, but manages the sails at the same time, and that, too, sedens-quite at his ease—an
art which modern helmsmen seem to have lost. Columbus, indeed, would not have long been able to sit still, for,
“ Ecce ante oculos ingens, informis imago,
Teque, Columbe petens, summâ sese extulit unda.” The epithets ingens and informis are aukwardly connected with the participle petens; and, indeed, as the realities of Columbus' voyage afford matter enough for poetry the most sublime, it is to be regretted that this fabulous monster should have been so unuecessarily introduced to alarm him. The prodigy, indeed, soon disappears, and gives way to another;
En subito Dea candida culmine fluctus • Libertas advecta subit." This Virgo cælestis assures him that,
“Audiit omnipotens facilis, solio radianti.” In which line facilis is a very silly epithet, and the proposition upon which solio radianti depends, is omitted though indispensable to the syntax of the phrase. Omitting other passages that we had underscored, we would ask every classical reader what meaning can be annexed to the following lines :
“ Æneas posuit sedem, atq immitis Achilles
Orbem tu tamen invenies, populosque potentes," &c. But from this master-piece of fourteen years of age, let us hasten to the compositions of sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen, which afford very little additional satisfaction. Under proper tuition, the last important period would have enabled our poet to make us forget the crude efforts of former years. Alas! he had no Busby to correct his errors, and, at the same time, to commend and encourage his zeal!
The lines written at sixteen are upon an interesting subject and calculated to inspire poetry where a spirit of poetry exists the misfortunes of Greece-yet, neither in this production do we find any thing to praise. The thesis is from Ovid's Metamorphoses; and we cite it as coming home to the feelings, on an occasion which so lately occupied a large share of our attention and sympathy:
“ Vile solum Sparte est; altæ cecidere Mycenæ;
Ovid. Met. xv. 426. Finding nothing in Mr. Griffin's effusions that we can commend, we shall content ourselves with very few remarks.
“Græcia heu misera ante omnes spoliata,” &c. Is no verse; it may be scanned, but cannot be proved. Greece is described as the “ contempla sedes servorem qui complexu fera vincula cingunt"-who hug their chains-words that convey the idea of a mother's affection for a child about to be torn from her: surely, the attachment of the Greeks to their chains never amounted to this: if it had, they would not have expressed it in such Latin phraseology.
“Argutus cithararum cantus vallibus imis." Has no trace of cæsura, and is, in this respect, too nearly resembled by many others. If we represent to ourselves a human frame, indued with motion, but without the usual feribility of joint, we shall have some idea of what the ear suffers in reading such hexameters. They would not pass without censure in a first copy of even nonsense-verse. We search in vain for the corresponding substantive of umbrosis, in—"Tempe in umbrosis neque musæ, nec citharista Pythius ipse habitat.” The verse cannot be scanned without a false quantity, and we unavoidably lament the degradation of the Pythian Apollo, when we find him reduced to a mere Cytharista—a harper. We are told that
“ Campus Olympiacus, factorum ingentium arena
Lætitia exultans deserto in gramine ludit." All this is insufferably puerile, both in thought and expression, for a boy of sixteen, held up to public admiration as Mr. Griffin was, by the college officers, by his schoolmaster, and again by the compiler of these volumes. What but a Gradus could have suggested such an epithet as petulanti? or what system of prosody will justify the lengthening of the last syllable of Heroes (from Hpwes) before a vowel?
“ Gloria Græcorum, tua fama effugit, Athenæ.” How is tua made to accord with the plural nominative Athene? Anxious as we are to avoid the odious charge of hypercriticism, we feel compelled to add a few more lines of this specimen: If they do not plead in excuse of us, we are at a loss to imagine what will.
“ Servitii dæmon, Erebo nigrisque tenebris
Quæ Libertati quondam sacrata, Deisque.” Rus, properly opposed to urbs or oppidum, is here confounded with regio.
" Thermopylas, sacras famæ Lacedæmoniorum
Nec resonat Zenonis voci porticus ampla.”
Disjointed as these distichs appear in our pages, they are equally so in the composition from which we copy them, and which Dr. McVickar is pleased to call a Poem. And here we are tempted to exclaim, “Ohe jam satis est,” especially, as we are sure that every reader, whether he understands prosody and Latin, or not, must heartily echo the exclamation, or some similar one. Two copies of verses remain unexamined ; one written at seventeen-the other at eighteen years of age. They are ejusdem farina. The same bald Latin, or rather English latinized; the same weak epithets; the same uprythmical lines; the same measuring of the verse by the finger instead of the ear; the same school-boy reference to the Gradus; the same or similar occasional false quantities occur in these as in the preceding. We must, therefore, be forgiven (and, no doubt, readily shall be so,) if we content ourselves with one quotation —which, if the spirit of Gray is now susceptible of torment, might be adduced for that purpose-there is an apparent allusion, in what follows, to the “ Bard” of that immortal poet and exquisite scholar.
“Longa undansque pedes vestis defluxit ad imos.
Divinum afflatum orantes ab Apolline magno." Can any thing be worse than this? Orbes inanes luminis, orantes afflatum—blind eyes praying for an inspiration—to magnus Apollo!! In the next passage, the poet is compelled by the measure of his verse to contract certavere into certâre (which, we believe, not even poetic licence ever before attempte ed,) and the certamen, we find was
“ Pelidis quando amplexu Atrides Agamemnon
Charo, Briscin voluit divellere pulchram.” Proh pubor! What would be the feelings of our countryman, Washington Irvine, if he should happen to be present when a performance like this, falls under the critical eye of