Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

PAULUS, 83. iij. 102.
On a Daughter who died youngB.
“Sweet maid, thy parents fondly thought

To strew thy bride-bed, not thy bier ;
But thou hast left a being fraught

With wiles, and toils, and anxious fear.

For us remains a journey drear,
For thee a blest eternal prime,

Uniting, in thy short career,

Youth's blossom with the fruit of time.” P. 286. Bion and Shakspeare have immortalized the loves of Venus and Adonis, and we were, therefore, rather surprised to find this acknowledged favourite of the goddess omitted in the following stanza, which, in other respects, may be placed in the same page with Prior’s numerous jeux d'esprits on the same subject. In the Greek, the “flint-hearted boy' takes his proper station with Anchises and Paris.

UNCERTAIN, 247. iii. 200. Exclamation of Venus on seeing her Statue by Praxiteles. M.

My naked charms ! The Phrygian swain,

And Dardan boy-to those I've shown them,
And only those, of mortal strain.

How should Praxiteles have known them ?” P. 372. At p. 403. is a note on the god of sleep, where the age, under which this divinity has been usually represented by the ancients, is discussed. The distinction made between Somnus and More pheus seems rather fanciful. It is supposed that Morpheus, always represented as an old man, “is alone the proper image of the sleep of the living;” and that Somnus, figured under the character “of a boy, or rather of a beautiful youth,” is “le sommeil éternel, image du sommeil, ou de la mort." We cannot reconcile this appropriation of the duties assigned to the two deities with the following passage in the Metamorphoses of Ovid, where Morpheus is sent by Somnus, at the suggestion of Juno, to inform Halcyone of the fate of Ceyx.

“ Pater e populo natorum mille suorum
Excitat artificem simulatoremque figuræ
Morphea. Non illo jussos solertius alter
Exprimit incessus, vultumque modumque loquendi.
Adjicit et vestes, et consuetissima cuique
Verba, sed hic solos homines imitatur, &c.

Præterit hos senior : cunctisque e fratribus unum
Morphea, qui peragat Theumantidos edita, Somous
Eligit.” Lib. ii. 633.

Here Morpheus is distinctly described as acting under Somnus, and assuming different appearances as the occasion required. However this may be, there is a mistake in the punctuation of a passage quoted to show the youth of Somnus, of some importance, as it affects part of the proof adduced in support of the distinction, and entirely destroys the parallelism of the passage. After charging Addison with having fallen into “an error from which his own reference to Statius ought to have secured him," the writer of the note thus quotes the lines alluded to.

“Crimine quo merui, juvenis placidissime Divum,
Quove errore, miser, donis ut solus egerem,
Somne, tuis ?

We have always read the

passage thus:

“ Crimine quo merui juvenis, placidissime Divum," &c.

By this punctuation juvenis acquires a very peculiar force, and the spirit of the passage is greatly improved. " What have I done, that I, though still young, at that season of life when cares are least likely to obstruct repose, am denied the gifts of sleep?" The beauties of this exquisite little poem are fresh in the memory of every classical reader, and we agree with the remark in the Illustrations, that Mr. Hodgson “ has, if possible, added to the calm repose and sweetness of the original description."

“ Now every field, and every herd is thine,
And seeming slumbers bend the mountain pine;
Hush'd is the tempest's howl, the torrent's roar,
And the smooth wave lies pillow'd on the shore." P. 408.

It is thus we should wish to express our feelings on viewing the tranquility and softness of one of Claude's night-pieces.

The least interesting division of the volume is the last, entitled “ Satirical and Humorous.” A part, at least, of the pleasure which we derive from humour, arises from the unexpected manner in which incongruous thoughts are combined by some apparent similarity. It follows that our pleasure is lessened in proportion to our surprise, and that which appears good on the first reading, loses something of its beauty at every succeeding perusal. Besides, the subjects which afforded matter of ridicule to the ancients are not altogether such as now strike us in the same light; and in general every age has its own objects of entertainment, ils peculiar cast of humour, which will not be readily exchanged for any other. But this is a point on which we touch with considerable tenderness for the feelings and opinions of others. We may, however, venture to observe, that true wit has no more connexion with extravagant images, than the comedy of Terence, of Fontenelle, and occasionally of Molière, has with plays of character, in which simple avarice or extravagance are drawn, instead of the covetous, or the extravagant man; or with Spanish plots, which deceive a man through his senses, not through his passions and affections. The emotion of pleasure must be retained, as well as excited; the gratified feeling must be as inseparable from the idea which gave rise to it, when it is familiar, as when it was new. Notwithstanding what we have said on this point, we will still venture to quote one specimen of this part of the work, in which a favourite subject of all epigrammatists is well displayed.

AGATHIAS, 67. iii. 56.

On a Lawyer. M.
" A plaintiff thus explained his cause
To counsel learned in the laws :
• My bondmaid lately ran away,
And in her flight was met by A,
Who, knowing she belong'd to me,
Espous'd her to his servant B.
The issue of this marriage, pray,

pray,
Do they belong to me or A ?!
The lawyer, true to his vocation,
Gave sign of deepest cogitation,
Look'd at a score of books, or near,
Then hemm’d, and said, “your case is clear,
Those children, so begot by B,
Upon your handmaid must, you see,
Be your's, or A's.--Now, this I say:
They can't be your's, if they to A
Belong-it follows then, of course,
That if they are not his, they're yours.
Therefore-by my advicemin short,
You'll take the opinion of the court.'” P. 451.

We are not much dissatisfied with the following observations prefixed to some “ extracts from the Grecian drama.”

“ Notwithstanding the success with which Potter's faithful and animated translations of the great fathers of the Grecian drama have deservedly been attended, it has always appeared to me that the true spirit of their poetry might he more nearly attained, by adopting the sonorous and majestic couplet, which Dryden wished to introduce on the English stage, in imitation of Corneille and Racine; and which, however ud

suitable to the purpose of representing violent and sudden emotions, is peculiarly well adapted as the vehicle both of declamatory passion, and of pathetic sweetness."

The extracts which follow are from the most touching and tender scenes of the Greek tragedy; the thoughts such as are most in unison with those domestic feelings which come home to every heart, and the classical allusions so natural and intelligible as not to be displeasing even to the English reader who seeks only for beauty of poetry, and has no additional source of gratification in meeting with a spirited version of his favourite passages; yet we should say that the attempt had decidedly failed, if the truth of the doctrine depended on the detached specimens before us. We must, however, make two exceptions; the first in favour of the translation of a chorus in the Alcestis of Euripides, the other the address of a daughter to her father, conjuring him to spare her life ; and both of singular beauty.

J

ADDRESS OF THE CHORUS TO Alcestis. M.
“ Daughter of Pelias! peaceful sleep
In Pluto's mansions cold and deep,

Where the bright sun can enter never!
And may the gloomy monarch know,
And he, the steersman old and slow,
By whom the ghosts are wafted o’er,
To that uncomfortable shore,

No spirit half so lovely ever,
Nor half so pure, his boat did take
On the dark bosom of the Stygian lake.
Thy name preserved in sweetest lays,
'The sacred bards of future days
The seven striug'd lyre shall tune to thee,
Waking its mountain-melody;
Or in harmonious notes shall sing,
What time the rosy-bosom’d spring

Bedews with April showers
Fair Sparta's walls, and all the night,
The full moon pours her silver light

Oa Athens' heav'n-loved towers.

"O! could the power of verse recall
Thy ghost from Pluto's dreary hall,

And dark Cocytus' spectred wave!
O! could it bid thy spirit stray
Back to the cheerful light of day,

And break the darkness of the grave!

“ Most lov’d, most honour'd shade, farewell!

We know not what the gods below

Will measure out of bliss or wo;
Yet may thy gentle spirit dwell,
In those dark realms to which it fled,
Most blest among the peaceful dead!
“ Nor thou, aflicted husband, mourn
That voy age whence is no return,

And which we all are cloom'd to try :
The gods' great offspring, battle-slain,
'Mid common heroes press the plain,

And undistinguish'd die. " But she who pobly died, to save A husband from the cheerless grave, Though seen no more by mortal eye, Shines, a bright power, above the sky. Hail, lovely light of Phera's vale ! Blest guardian of the wandering stranger, hail !-P. 243.

FROM THE IPHIGENIA IN AULIS OF EURIPIDES.

Iphigenia to Agamemnon.
56 Had I the voice of Orpheus, that my song
The unbending strength of rocks might lead along,
Melt the rude soul, and make the stubborn bow,
That voice might heaven inspire to aid me now.
But now, ungifted as I am, untaught
To pour the plaint of sorrow as I ought,
Tears, the last refuge of a suppliaut's prayer,
Tears yet are mine, and those I need not spare.
Father, to thee I bow, and low on earth
Clasp the dear knees of him who gave me birth-
Have mercy op my youth ! O, think how sweet
To view the light, and glow with vital heat!
Let me not quit this cheerful scene, to brave
The dark uncertain horrors of the grave!
« I was the first op whom you fondly smiled,
And straining to your bosom, called, My child!"
Capst thou forget how on thy neck I hung,
And lisp'd, My father!' with an infant toogue ?
How ’midst the interchange of holy bliss,
The child's caresses, and the parent's kiss,

And shall I see my daughter,' wouldst thou say,
Blooming in charms ainong the fair and gay?
Of some illustrious youth the worthy bride,
The beauty of his palace and the pride?

« AnteriorContinuar »