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DESULTORY ESSAYS ON SUBJECTS
edly considered, wholly preclude all
passion, pathos, and sympathy, which No. II,
are unquestionably among the inore
fascinating elements that enter into On the Darwinian School of Poetry. the composition of poetry. What end * Others for language all their care ex
could be gained by describing in verse press,
the machinery of a cotton-mill, or the And value books, as women men,
for improvements on the steam-engine? dress :
If Dr Darwin intended to excite pleaTheir praise is still — The style is excel- surable feelings in his readers, he lent;'
might unquestionably have chosen a The sense they humbly take upon con more appropriate subject; if instruc
tion was his aim, he could have atPoPE. .
tained it far more commodiously in In matter, and in manner, the Lake prose. We are told, indeed, that's it and Darwinian schools of poetry are is the design of the Botanic Garden the very antipodes of each other, to enlist Imagination under the banhostile in all their doctrines, and op- 'ner of Science, and to lead her votaposite in every characteristic. The ries from the looser analogies that one endeavours, and too often suc dress out the imagery of poetry, to ceeds, in debasing what is naturally the stricter ones, which form the radignified and lofty, by meanness of tiocinations of philosophy.” But the style, and triteness of simile, and great end of poetry is here forgotten ; puerility of description : it clothes we look on, and are dazzled ; but we Achilles once more in female habili- have no emotion of any kind. The ments, and sets Hercules to the dis- loves of the plants are wholly differtaff. The other endeavours if we ent from the metamorphoses of Ovid, may be allowed the simile-to buoy because, in the latter, the transmutaup the materials of prose into the tion is merely a secondary object, both etherial regions of poetry, by putting in the eyes of the poet, and in the esthem into the car of an air balloon, timation of the reader. Since the henot expanded by the divine afflatus, roine or hero must fall off from all but by means of hydrogenous gas, intellectual grandeur, and cease to while the aeronaut, as he ascends, excite all moral sympathy, we are waves his embroidered flag, and scat- wholly indifferent, if they must be ters among the gaping crowd below, transformed, into what it may be gold leaf, and tinsel, and roses. The -an animal, or a stone, or a plant. one reminds us of Cincinnatus, who, We are told, indeed, that Ajax stabafter having held the helm of state, bed himself, and that his blood was and led the armies of his country to turned into the violet ; but Ovid, victory, sighed for unambitious retire- with characteristic sagacity, previousment, and threw off the ensigns of of- ly gives us a peep at the assembled fice, and withdrew from the bustle of court, and tickles our ears with the cabinets and camps, to the tranquillity shouts of the soldiery, and touches of his little farm; and the other to our hearts with the eloquence of the Aben Hassan, in the Arabian Tales, champions, as they relate their “hairwho was transported from the tavern breadth 'scapes by flood and field," to the palace, when under the in- and all the important services they fluence of a somniferous potion, and had rendered to their country. awoke amid the music of a morning From among a hundred glaring inserenade, and surrounded with all the stances, which we could adduce from splendours of mock royalty.
the Botanic Garden, in proof of our Were it not for the similies, which allegations, and of the utter unfitness are, however, too frequently pressed of the subject for poetical delineation, into the service, the Botanic Garden we will only call the attention of the and the Temple of Nature, with all reader to a very few specimens. their luxuriant description, and splen- « Nymphs ! you disjoin, unite, condense, did imagery, and pompous versifica
expand, tion, would be the most tedious and And give new wonders to the chemist's uninteresting performances;-the only hand; Iedeeming virtue would be found in On tepid clouds of rising steam aspire, the notes. The subjects, abstracte And fix in sulphur all its solid fire ;
With boundless spring elastic airs unfold, troduced by way of simile, or for the Or fill the fine vacuities of gold;
purpose of illustration. We do not With sudden flash vitrescent sparks re- think of the Purple Foxglove, but of veal,
Philanthropy and Howard; we do not By fierce collision from the flint and steel; think of the embryo seeds, but of Or mark with shining letters Kunkel's Herschel and the starry firmament; In the pale phosphor's self-consuming not of the Carline Thistle, but of the flame.
ascent of Montgolfier; not of the So the chaste heart of some enchanted Orchis, but of Eriza and the Battle of maid
Minden; and not of the vegetable Shines with insidious light, by Love be- poisons, but of the desolation of Pale
trayed, Round her pale bosom plays the young As the chief excellence of dramatic Desire,
representation is exhibited in “suitAnd slow she wastes by self-consuming ing the action to the word,” so the fire." Economy of Veget Canto 1. 223. principal extrinsic excellence of poetry
consists in “ suiting the word to the How different, and how unpoetical action;"—but, by the Darwinian is the occupation of these nymphs, school, this is wholly overlooked. when compared with the fairies of the Subjects that are naturally low are arMidsummer Night's Dream, or with tificially exalted, stilted into emithe sylphs in the Rape of the Lock! nence, and loaded with epithet and -Again,
embellishment; and, whether lofty • You bid gold-leaves in crystal lantherns clothed, by the same unsparing hand,
or trivial, interesting or repulsive, are held, Approach attracted, and recede repell’d;
in the most gaudy and gorgeous coWhile paper nymphs instinct with motion louring, without respect to persons or rise,
discrimination of subject. If a beg: And dancing fauns the admiring Sage gar were to be introduced, it would surprise," &c.
be in a tattered laced coat; and if "ą
Canto 1. 85. slaughterer of horned cattle,” he would No one surely, now, will have the go through his operations in a high effrontery to dispute the axiom of the style, and make a speech. In fact
, Darwinians, that description consti- bition, a panorama of picturesque and
we are invited to a mere scenic exhitutes poetry. Again,
funciful objects, where we have the " Led by the Saye, lo! Britain's sons shall soft and the rugged, the Bay of Na
guide Huge sea-balloons beneath the tossing and the Devil's Bridge and the frown
ples and Loch-Lomond by moonlight, tide,” &c.
Canto iv. 207.
ing precipices of the Alps expanded
before us, without being obliged to It appears verily now to be beyond encounter the fatigues or difficulties all doubt, that the ancients have ex- of travel, and where we may be charmhausted all the subjects capable of ed with the puppet mummery of a poetical embellishment, and that there sea-fight, without being exposed to is no chance in modern times of being the actual dangers of death or captidistinguished in literature, or of com vily. In all the greater poets we have posing " singularly wild, and origi- feeling and fancy combined, and, nal, and beautiful” poetry, without though they can look on the beautics being fantastic. We have had poems of Nature with a gifted eye, they are on the “ Loves of the Triangles,” not, by the possession of this capsand on “ Washing Days,” and “Iron- city, excluded from penetrating into ing Days ;” and we do not despair of the secrets of the inner man, and from yet being delighted with " The Laws describing the wonders of the intelleof England, rendered into heroic tual world.—Here, however, every verse," or Human Anatomy Illus- thing is material, and nothing spitrated,” in a poem of ten cantos. ritual ; all is addressed to the eye or
The parts of the Botanic Garden to the ear ; the art is never touchworthy of admiration, are—without ed, nor the affections called into play, an exception that strikes us,-only nor the passions awakened from the those passages that are subsidiary to dreamless lethargy of torpor and tranthe main object of the poem, and in- quillity.
The following specimen we think phizing the stars, after alluding to the highly characteristic of Darwin's finer discoveries of Herschel. manner, as it combines a beautiful allegory with some of the chaster graces “ Roll on, ye stars ! exult in youthful and peculiar excellencies of his style. prime, It is from the Fourth Canto of the Mark with bright curves the printless steps
of Time; Economy of Vegetation, 189.
Near and more near your beamy cars ap“ So in Sicilia's ever-blooming shade,
proach, When playful Proserpine from 'Ceres And lessening orbs on lessening orbs enstray'd,
croach ;Led with unwary step her virgin trains
Flowers of the sky! ye too to age must O'er Etna's steeps, and Enna's golden Frail as your silken sisters of the field !
yield, plains ; Pluck'd with fair hand the silver-blossom'd Star after star from heaven's high arch
shall rush, bower, And purpled mead,herself a fairer Suns sink on suns, and systems systems flower ;
crush, Sudden, unseen amid the twilight glade,
Headlong, extinct, to one dark centre fall, Rush'd gloomy Dis, and seiz'd the trem
And death, and night, and chaos, mingle
all! bling maid.Her starting damsels sprung from mossy
-Till o'er the wreck, emerging from the seats,
storm, Dropp'd from their gauzy laps the
Immortal Nature lifts her changeful form,
Mounts from her funeral pyre on wings of Clung round the struggling nymph, with
flame, piercing cries
And soars and shines, another and the Pursued the chariot, and invok'd the
Ec. of Veg. c. 4. 371. Pleased as he grasps her in his iron arms, Frights with soft sighs, with tender words, In the style of the Botanic Garden, alarms,
we find much to praise, and a great The wheels descending rol'd in smoky deal to censure. No poet in our lanrings,
guage--not even Dryden exceptedInfernal Cupids flapp'd their demon wings ; has given such an extent of modulaEarth with deep yawn receiv'd the Fair, tion to the heroic couplet, -or rung, amaz'd,
upon the same specified quantity of And far in night celestial beauty blaz’d.”
syllables, such a variety of changes.
But there is little delicacy or nicety of Bating some of the epithets, we think discrimination evinced in the selecthis very fine indeed ;- but in how tion, or in the arrangement of the much fewer words, and in what a dif- materials, for the production of this ferent manner, does Milton tell the effect. Ás is too frequently the case same story!
with those who are denominated, " That fair field technically, fine singers, the sense is Of Enna, where Proserpine gathering made wholly subservient to the sound; flowers,
they are not very solicitous about your Herself a fairer flower, by gloomy Dis being acquainted with the tenor of the Was gather'd."
sentiment, provided they can charm
you with the melody of the tones. We shall only add another extract, Every thing is overloaded with ornawhich approaches the contines of sub- ment; and, where you expect to find limity. The idea of the gradual ex internal beauty, you too frequently tinction of the planetary system is too discover that it is inerely the dazzling like a passage in Ossian to be alto- glitter of the drapery. When a Gregether accidental.
He is apostro
they who are ashamed in thy presence will * “ Have thy sisters fallen from hea- rejoice.” Dar-thula. Fen? Are they who rejoiced with thee at Since we have pointed out a seeming night no more ?--Yes! they have fallen, imitation of Darwin's, it is but justice to fair light! and thou dost often retire to add, that the concluding paragraph of the
But thou thyself shalt fail one Pleasures of Hope bears a great resemnight, and leave thy blue path in heaven. blance to some passages in the above ex. The stars will then lift their green heads ;
cian matron is brought before you, mensions. Scale one-tenth of an inch instead of beholding the robes of to a foot. snowy white, and the elegance of sim
N plicity, you have her cheeks bedaubed with rouge, and her ringlets filletel up by means of an embroidered ribbon, and a golden cincture about
11 her waist, and a scarf of purple thrown over her shoulders. You expect to find the dignified majesty and serene countenance of Minerva, and you are introduced to the luxurious court of
2 1 2 the Queen of Paphos. How similar is the Darwinian, and yet how unlike in reality, to the exquisite modulation of the style of Campbell, which rises and falls with the subject ; now sinking with the melancholy accents of grief, and now soaring on the wings of impassioned eloquence; lofty and low by fits, like the breeze-borne
S sound of the cataract, or like the night wind dallying with the chords of an The dimensions marked in the de Eolian lyre!
bove figure are all in feet. Had it To conclude : We have no wish to not been for a horn which branches depreciate Darwin; all that we want- off two feet from the northern extreed to show was, that he is but a sec- mity, and bends round to the easttary in poetry; for a poet, as he is ward, it would have formed a narrow one of the oracles of Nature, must ellipsis, the conjugate diameter being speak, in a common language, on a tighteen feet, and the transverse diamesubject interesting to the fancy, and ter four. The length of the horn from affections. If he has pathos without the conjugate diameter to the eastern imagination, he is not a master in the extremity is five feet. All the above art; and, if he has this latter qualifi- dimensions are taken within the fie cation without feeling, his title to that
gure. rank is equally deficient. Darwin This excavation was everywhere displays no intensity of emotion, and (except the horn which we shall nono intimate acquaintance with the la- tice afterwards) abouc seven feet deep; tent springs of human conduct; but, six feet being built with stones much in the mechanical structure of verse, in the manner that a sunk fence is and the powers of description, he has faced up, and the remainder being a few superiors within the range of Bri- covering of earth on the top, varying tish poetry.
M. from nine to eleven inches in depth.
The workmanship, considering the
nature of the materials, was neither REMARKABLE SUBTERRANEOUS CEME. rude nor inelegant. The stones con
TERY LATELY DISCOVERED ON THE sisted of all the varieties found at ESTATE OF WILLIAM TAYLOR IM- Buckie Den, about a quarter of a mile RAY, ESQ. OF LUNAN, NEAR MON- distant, whence they had undoubted
ly been brought.
Towards the northern extremity, MR EDITOR,
where the horn or projection comIn spring 1817, when plowing a mences, there is an opening two feet field on the above estate, the plough wide, from top to bottom, very much struck repeatedly on some stones, like a gate or entrance ; and though which excited the attention of the the depth of the stone walls is here, proprietor, more particularly as the as at every other part of the edifice, field in question bad been arable, tine six feet, the foundations of the stoneimmemorial, and had presented no work gradually ascend, till they terobstacle to the plough. On digging minate in a single stone at the eastriown a complete cemetery, was disa ern point of the horn. One would covered of the annexed form and din almost be induced to take this gras
dual ascent for the exit and entrance consider it as wholly unique. I have, to this gloomy abode of mortality. however, been lately informed, that
This cemetery had been dug out of one of the same kind was lately disa gravelly knap or hillock, where the covered in the parish of Aberlemno, soil, to a considerable depth, is com near Forfar, and another in the parish posed of sandy beach, (provincially of Culsamond, Aberdeenshire. A chad,), whereas the interior of the draught and minute description of the stone ring was completely filled with latter has been preserved by the Reblack fat earth, such as is found in verend Mr Ellis, minister of the above church-yards where many dead bodies parish, which I may, probably, soon have been deposited. In clearing out be able to forward to you. this earth, many fragments of bones, It has long been the practice of the in a state of extreme decay,-many Gothic Pinkerton, and his adherents, small detached pieces of clay,--some to decry Celtic antiquities and Celtic ashes and charred wood, -and a good etymology, as wholly baseless and vimany cheek teeth of a very large size, sionary, but the antiquity in queswere discovered. I selected a few of tion affords an instance which will the teeth in order to preserve them, put them completely to the blush. but in a few minutes they mouldered Though the existence of this ancient down to dust. This singular struc- cemetery had been consigned to imture was not paved either on the bote penetrable oblivion, the name tom or the top. The quantity of distinctly preserved in a small streamstones in this subterraneous ring or let which runs about thirty yards to dike amounted to 30 cart-loads, but the southward of it, called' Cluy's they exhibited not one indication that Burn, and the field, in which the anany tool had ever been applied to tiquity is situated, still retains the them. It is a circumstance worthy of name of Cluy's Burn Park. Cluy remark, that the northern projection (the uy is sounded exactly as the was rather more crowded with the re- Greekr) is strictly and truly the lics of mortality, than any other part Gaelic claodh, meaning a grave, for of the structure, a circumstance which in that language ao is sounded u, may perhaps make the antiquary he- and dh is the substitute or combinasitate whether he ought not to pro- tion for y. Hence the true name of nounce it the most sacred recess of the streamlet and field are, the Grave the cemetery, rather than the entrance Burn, and the Grave Burn Park. to it.
But such is the Gothic prejudice and Not a vestige of a stone coffin or stupidity of mankind, that the proumn was discovered. There was found, priety and aptitude of the name was however, a small circular fragment of never attended to, till the antiquity green glass, imbedded in an exterior was discovered. enamel, longitudinally streaked with Having been present in all the black, red, and white, or pale yellow. stages of clearing out this remarkable The length of the fragment was one subterraneous structure, and having and a fourth inch, and when com- taken an accurate measurement of it plete must have measured five inches on the spot, the account forwarded to in diameter. This fragment was sub- you may be implicitly relied on; and mitted to the examination of 2 gentle. I am, Sir, &c. man of eminent chemical celebrity,
RT. HUDDLESTON. who pronounced it the same with Lunan, 7th March 1818. some other specimens which he had seen in the custody of the late Dr P. S. Being, at present, on the subBlack, and which had been found in ject of Celtic antiquities, I avail mythe ancient cemeteries of Egypt. There self of the opportunity to return my was also found a small circular piece best thanks to the Reverend Mr Lawa of yellow flint, neatly polisherl, and son of Creich, for his valuable comperforated in the middle, exactly in munication in your miscellany of Dethe shape of a small button mould, cember last. Having been engaged the extreme diameter one-fourth of for some time past in a classification an inch.
of the Celtic antiquities, and having Every circumstance indicates this discovered nine varieties of Celtic sepulchre to have been of very re- sepulchral monuments, the commumote antiquity, and I was disposed to nication in question very agreeably