Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

Beyond this general appearance, there is little to be seen but a bit of mosaic and a fountain, and even this last has not escaped the doubts of the incredulous.

“ Before the discreet traveller girds himself for this tour,” says Mr. Hobhouse, “ he is requested to lay aside all modern guide-books, and previously to peruse a French work, called • Researches after the House of Horace. This will undeceive him as to the Blandusian Fountain, which he is not to look for in the Sabine Valley, but on the Lucano-Apulian border where Horace was born."

The proof brought forward is incontrovertible as far as it goes, and is founded on a bull of Pope Paschal, that mentions the “Castellum Blandusiæ ;” and in enumerating the churches, to which it is addressed, describes one as “ in Blandusino fonte apud Venusiam,” which leaves no doubt that there was a Blandusian fountain where Horace was born. But a distant fountain could scarcely be the object of an ode and a vow, and it is very unlikely that Horace, “ satis beatus unicis Sabinis," possessed a residence elsewhere. Perhaps the poet, finding a nameless well in his farm, which he sought to elevate into his Helicon, and to dignify it by an appellation, called it Blandusine from that near his native place. The controversy is of little moment: the well in the Sabine Valley, if it be not the actual “ Fons Blandusix, splendidior vitro," is consecrated, independent of that ode, in the epistle to Quinctius,

«« Fons etiam rivo dare nomen idoneus, ut nec

Frigidior Thracam, nec purior ambiat Hebrus;

Infirmo capiti fuit utilis, utilis alvo.” So much for Horace-too much, perhaps, for one every way unworthy of reverence, unless as possessed of poetic power. It should be the boast, not the regret of England, that she has few Horaces to deify her Cesars, and that her best Mæcenases are her princely booksellers. In this light, may she never have her Augustan age !

R.

or bow

Cupid and Time, an Eclogue.
Time. Nay, little urchin, do not fly;

I must o'ertake you by and by :
Besides, related are our houses,
Since aged men will wed young spouses,
And lead their lives so gay and blithe,
And never think of my old scythe.
I will not steal

your

darts
My scythe more potent is, you know,
Than all your toys; for when my sway

I exercise, it is to slay.
Cupid. I know you do, there's no resistance;

So, Mr. Scytheman, keep your distance.
Yet learn, grim Mower, it is found
That many feel that I can wound:
Then, Ovid says, no herbs can heal

The sorrows that poor lovers feel !
Time. Fig for such wounds by which no man dies,

And none can fear except young Dandies ;
And all the pains that they endure
I almost instantly can cure.

The Literary Trio.
A Critic and a Poet met,
And at one table down were set

To mutton and old port:
For a rich Printer, now and then,
Would feed these heroes of the pen

In verse and chapter court.
The glass went round; the Critic's brow
Became more smooth, the verses flow

From the gay Poet's tongue ;
The candid Critic cried encore,
The merry Printer calld for more-

And more the echoes rung.
Ho! quoth the Editor, I see
How bards and critics may agree,

And amicably chum:
For we all briskly drive a trade,
Since generous port is wisely made
“The circulating medium."

The Fair Sophist.
Occidis sæpe rogando. Hor.
“ No, no, my dear, I 'll ne'er discover-
It is the secret of a friend :
But, were it mine, so fond a lover
To mystery could not pretend.”
Whilst thus with phiz so grave I prosed,
My Chloe seem'd to mirth disposed ;
Then with a kiss, and such a leer
As every lover thinks sincere,
The nymph exclaim'd, " Ah, why withhold
This secret I have half been told §
With me you may entrust it well,
You know I never kiss and tell.'"

On Visiting an old Armoury.

Credas simulacra moveri
Ferrea, cognatoque viros spirare metallo.

CLAUDIAN.
UpRight and stiff, and large of limb,
Of visage most austere and grim,
Brimfull of feudal pride and rage,
These heroes of the “iron age”
Exhibit in tremendous rows
Dire symptoms of impending blows.
Yon battle-axe and twisted mail
Would make a modern foeman quail.
Though all this dress, they look so great in,
Shows they could bear a world of beating.
For then no villainous salt-petre
Gave war its most terrific feature :
They deem’d the body safe and well,
Unless the foeman broke his shell,
And with his spear strongly at work
Pulld out his carcase with a jerk.
Thus have I seen a boy's eye twinkle
When he attacks a periwinkle
With a long pin, and by the snout
Wriggles the periwinkle out.

LES VÊPRES SICILIENNES.* Lorsdan makes some compensation for the feebleness of diction in which the avowal of her guilt is conveyed, by the force of his invective and imprecation.

Your treachery stands
Unparallel'd, accursed, detestable.
You are pale and blanch’d, Amelia,--you are pale,
And shudder at the anticipated dooin.
Live! life be all your punishment: and live
As I have lived-as you have made me live.
May all your days be wasted in such tears
As I have shed for you—their fountain be
As black and as envenom'd as the source
Of passion in this bosom ; and for him,
For whose bad sake you have abandon’d me,
As perjured as yourself

, let him arouse
The self-same furies in your maddening heart
With which you have distracted me. Be all your tears
Paid back with scorn deliberate as e'er
Set on the smiles of perfidy; your love,
When it comes warm and gushing from your breast,
Be turn’d at once to ice, and frozen down
With a repulse as heartless. Then, Annelia-

Then will you think of me! Lorédan continues his invective against Amelia in verse of great force, which our limits will not permit us to extract, and bids her retire lest the vehemence of his emotions should hurry him to an extremity. She complies with his injunction. This scene, though well written, is, when taken with reference to the plot, objectionable, upon the ground that it does not forward the progress of the play, and contains no new event or intimation of some future incident on which expectation can be fed. This is a defect into which every author not acquainted with the stage is apt to fall, but it is most injurious to dramatic interest, which, though it may not constitute a very important merit, and may be attained by writers of inferior capacity, is yet indispensably necessary for success. We have seen whole acts of tragedies abounding with poetry and filled with character, which were rendered wholly unfit for representation by this fatal blemish. In general, the French authors, who, with less vigour, have yet more intimate perceptions of effect than the writers who have reached a high reputation in England, avoid the commission of this error; and the work before us is sufficiently free from it to render the scene to which we have alluded less imperfect than if it were a link in a long series of irrelevancies. The rest of the act is rapid and precipitate. Procida enters, and informs his son that Gaston, whose wariness was such an object of alarm to the conspirators, has been despatched. Procida exhorts him to make reparation for his offence by some great achievement, and the selection of a noble victim. The conspirators enter, and, in order to reconcile the improbability of their holding their assembly in the hall of Montfort's abode with any resemblance of likelihood (the objection which has been so often made to Cato, and which arises from too

* Concluded from page 390. VOL. V. NO, XXIV.

2 K

scrupulous an observance of the unities), it is supposed that they ar-
rive for the purpose of soliciting the forgiveness of Montfort, and
that he lies asleep in his apartment, overcome by the heat of the day.
Procida takes advantage of this interval of his absence and of their
re-union together to excite them to some sudden act of vengeance,
which may instantaneously accomplish the national freedom. He in-
spires them with enthusiasm, and after delivering several very eloquent
speeches, the length of which would perhaps be objected to upon our
stage, but which, if properly delivered, would, upon any stage, be
productive of signal impression, exclaims-
Procida. The people are assembled: they kneel down

In thousands at the altar; now's the time-
The sacrifice is horrible ; but just,
Because 'tis necessary. Let us rush
Into the sanctuary ; and be our swords
Nakedly brandish’d, and with hands all hot
And red with blood, our cry be liberty-
Revenge and liberty !--and at the sound
Let the infuriated multitude
Start up into an army: we can boast
Two hundred veterans left us, and be they
These new-created soldiers, more matured,
But not less fierce associates : let us break
At once through the thin ranks that round these gates
Stand as their feeble guard, and be this steel
Your guide as your avenger. Hark! the bell !
It sends its invocation to us all,
And with its brazen voice cries out to us,
The time is come for Sicily! you start
At the transporting summons. Countrymen,
Death 's in the sacred signal: on, my friends,
My brothers in revenge! eternal right
Is the great cause we fight for.-By the thought
Of wife and sister by that maddening thought,
All reeking with pollution, I call up
The thirst for blood within you: bathe yourselves
In massacre. Sicilians! strike! and be
Each blow remorseless as 'tis deep : 'tis God,
'Tis God that makes them over to our hate :
And be that hate like their own guilt.—Come on :
Our victims' throats are ready: God in heaven,

God is our guide to carnage !
Salviati.

Hold a moment !
Montfort yet lives. Let Montfort be the first

To feel the poniard.
Lorédan.

What! against one heart
Should all your swords be lifted ? Montfort sleeps :

One blow should be sufficient.
Procida.

Who should strike it?
Lorédan. This arm!
Salviati.

That! dare you say so?
Procida.

The first stab
Is mine of right, and in that sacred right
I can transfer my privilege : you were
My son—and I would have you so again,
Go-be reborn !--when I can grasp this hand
Wet with a tyrant's blood, I will again

Call you the son of Procida. My friends,
I stand his hostage, and I put my life

On his revenge : remember it. Come on! This scene is sweeping and rapid, as it ought in such an emergency to be. The conspirators precipitate themselves from the stage, with Procida at their head, to accomplish their sanguinary purpose, of which the outrages committed by the French furnish a sufficient extenuation, to divest the leader of this enterprise of that horror with which our imaginations would have arrayed him, had not his dreadful deed been palliated, to a certain extent, by the enormity of those offences against his country which he was sworn to revenge. A mere unmitigated villain is an undramatic personage. He excites no other sentiment than that of detestation, as unmingled as his own atrocities. Unmodified depravity may be occasionally introduced for the purpose of bringing other characters into relief, and making their good qualities more conspicuous from the depth of shadow which borders on their delineation. But, in general, cold blooded malignity should be banished from theatrical representations. Procida commits a deed repugnant to all our notions of morality and honour ; but it receives from the injuries which he has endured a partial alleviation. The author should, perliaps, have dwelt at greater length upon the outrages of the French, and entered into more minute details of their barbarities; but he was writing for a Parisian audience, whose vanity would have recoiled from the spectacle of their national atrocities, and upon this account he was, in all probability, induced to sacrifice to the necessity of pleasing a people so sensitive upon every subject connected with the honour of their country, what was at once due to justice and to dramatic propriety. To return from this deviation: Lorédan remains upon the stage, having undertaken to put his friend and benefactor to death. This is a fine situation, and is managed by the author with exceeding skill. A person unacquainted with the stage would, probably, have indulged himself in a long soliloquy upon an occasion of this kind, in which he would have scrupulously and minutely anatomized the feelings of Lorédan, and have made him, at great length, descant upon his misfortunes, and indulge in much lachrymatory egotism and self-contemplation. But the author knew better, and accordingly he is satisfied with putting into the mouth of Lorédan a few lines, the brevity of which is their chief merit; because in such a situation the audience, who are awakened into the most intense expectation, and pant for the event, would listen with impatience to the finest poetry that was ever endited.

Thus the author has, with singular dexterity, brought Montfort upon the stage in a moment that assembles in its compass so many deep and thrilling interests. It is likely that an English writer, who thinks that there is even a merit in breaking the unities, would have led Lorédan to the couch on which Montfort was reposing. For our own part, we conceive that the unities ought never to be violated during an act, except where some great object, incompatible with their observance, is to be attained. The sudden appearance of Montfort, awakened by the call of Lorédan, is infinitely more impressive than any change of scene, which in the hands of one of our melodramatists would have presented Montford to the audience talking, in all likelihood, in his sleep. Upon Montfort's entrance he says

« AnteriorContinuar »