Imágenes de página

• Be still the unimaginable lodge
For solitary thinkings; such as dodge
Conception to the very bourne of heaven,
Then leave the naked brain : be still the leaven,
That spreading in this dull and clodded earth

Gives it a touch ethereal-a new birth.'—p. 17. Lodge, dodgeheaven, leaven-earth, birth; such, in six words, is the sum and substance of six lines.

We come now to the author's taste in versification. He cannot indeed write a sentence, but perhaps he may be able to spin a line. Let us see. The following are specimens of his prosodial notions of our English heroic metre.

• Dear as the temple's self, so does the moon,

The passion poesy, glories infinite.'—p. 4.
* So plenteously all weed-hidden roots.'—p.6.
• Of some strange history, potent to send.'-p. 18.
* Before the deep intoxication.'--p. 27.

Her scarf into a fluttering pavilion.'-p. 33.
• The stubborn canvass for my voyage prepared-p. 39.
«“ Endymion! the cave is secreter
Than the isle of Delos. Echo hence shall stir
No sighs but sigh-warm kisses, or light noise
Of thy combing hand, the while it travelling cloys

And trembles through my labyrinthine hair." ' -p.48 By this time our readers must be pretty well satisfied as to the meaning of his sentences and the structure of his lines: we now present them with some of the new words with which, in imitation of Mr. Leigh Hunt, he adorns our language.

We told that' turtles passion their voices,' (p. 15); that an arbour was nested,' (p. 23); and a lady's locks gordian'd up,' (p. 32); and to supply the place of the nouns thus verbalized Mr, Keats, with great fecundity, spawns new ones; such as “men-slugs and human serpentry,' (p. 41); the · honey-feel of bliss,'(p. 45); ' wives prepare needments,' (p. 13)—and so forth.

Then he has formed new verbs by the process of cutting off their natural tails, the adverbs, and affixing them to their foreheads; thus, “the wine out-sparkled,'(p. 10); the multitude up-followed,' (p. 11); and night up-took,' (p. 29). • The wind up-blows,' (p. 32); and the ' hours are down-sunken,' (p. 36.)

But if he sinks some adverbs in the verbs he compensates the language with adverbs and adjectives which he separates from the parent stock. Thus, a lady whispers pantingly and close,' makes

hushing signs,' and steers her skiff into a ripply cove,'(p. 23); a shower falls ó refreshfully;' (45); and a vulture has a ' readed tail,' (p. 44.)



But enough of Mr. Leigh Hunt and his simple neophyte.-If any one should be bold enough to purchase this. Poetic Romance,' and so much more patient, than ourselves, as to get beyond the first book, and so much more fortunate as to find a meaning, we entreat him to make us acquainted with his success; we shall then return to the task which we now abandon in despair, and endeavour to make all due amends to Mr. Keats and to our readers.

ART. VIII.—Greenland, the adjacent Seas, and the North-IVest

Passage to the Pacific Ocean; illustrated in a Voyage to Davis's Strait during the Summer of 1817. By Bernard

O'Reilly, Esq. 4to. 1818. JF we feel disposed to exercise a more than usual degree of cri

tical severity on the volume before us, it is not so much for the mere gratification of breaking a butter-fly on a wheel,' as of exposing one of the most barefaced attempts at imposition which has occurred to us in the whole course of our literary labours.

Our first impression on taking up the volume was, that, as the subject of the Arctic regions had become one of the fashionable topics of the day, (which we may fairly take to ourselves the credit of introducing,) some hanger-on of Paternoster-row had contrived, with the help of Egede, Fabricius, and the interminable Cyclopedia of Dr. Rees, to hash up a fictitious voyage to Davis's Strait, in order to gratify the eager appetite of the public, and at the same time to 'put money in his purse.' Recollecting, however, that the log-book of the ship Thomas, of Hull, in which this voyage is stated to have been made, was within our reach, we turned to it, and found that Bernard O'Reilly, Esq. was not, as we suspected, a phantom conjured up for the occasion, but that there actually was a person of this name, in the capacity of surgeon, on board that ship --for, in consequence of the Act for Encouraging the Whale Fishery,'it is deemed imperative on every whaler to have a person so rated. As he, fortunately, is seldom called on but to assist in filling the blubber casks, and making the plum-pudding on Sundays, the owners are not particularly nice in their choice of the doctor, who is generally an apothecary's apprentice just escaped from his indentures. We do not mean to say, however, that there are not exceptions ; indeed we happen to know that very respectable and meritorious characters have sometimes been induced by necessity to accept the situation. We would mention, as an instance, Mr. John Laing, whose sensible and unpretending narrative of a' Voyage to Spitzbergen,' in a small duodecimo, forms an admirable contrast to the pompous and frothy quarto of Bernard O'Reilly, Esq. . But, in ascertaining the name of Bernard O'Reilly, to be


that of the person who filled the capacity of surgeon on board the Thomas, of Hull, we have also ascertained, what is much more to the purpose, that the very small portion of his · Greenland,' which is not absolute nonsense, is either fiction or downright falsehood. This grave charge we shall substantiate without much waste of our own or the reader's time.

As it is not always quite so easy to detect false facts in physics, as false principles in the abstract sciences, the former may sometimes pass for truths, and thus become as pernicious as the latter. There is little danger, however, on the present occasion. The glaring folly which pervades every page of Mr. O'Reilly's book forms a sufficient guarantee against its mischievous tendency. We find, however, in the very threshold, a premeditated misrepresentation with regard to the latitude, on which are made to depend some extraordinary discoveries, wbich the author could not have ventured to broach without exceeding the usual limits of a whale-fishing voyage to Davis's Strait.

He sets out by accusing the masters and the mates of Greenland ships, of falsifying their logs and journals—and for what?-for the interest of the government, of their employers, and of themselves. The interest of government (so gross is his ignorance) is the 'additional revenue to be recorded on the collector's book :''the poor man, it seems, being unable to distinguish between revenue and bounty, the latter of which is paid by the government to the shipowner, while nothing whatever is received in the shape of the former. He, generous and disinterested to a fault, having embarked for the sake of science, disdained' to trust for support to documents placed in custom-houses,' or to the uncertain information which might be 'coaxed from the master of a whale-ship.'-- He submitted to be cooped up with uninformed, unsociable beings, to study nature,'and ' to keep a journal adapted to all the scientific objects he had in view:-Yet with all this and much more empty boasting, did this prodigy of disinterested science' write to Hull, to procure a copy of the master's journal, and to learn the highest latitude which the ship had reached! which, by a good observation of the master, was, on the 19th July, 75° 17'. This latitude, however, would not admit of his fabrications; he asserts, therefore, that 'many days elapsed before the sailing of the Thomas from that latitude, occasionally shifting her station; that' on one such occasion, the termination of the Linnaan islands came distinctly in view, the open sea lying beyond, when the latitude, no observation being taken, was most probably about the 77th degree;' that 'the state of the atmosphere permitted a prospect of a degree at least farther to the northward, where the continental ice was evidently interminable:' every word of which we shall prove to be false. We happen to have examined the jour



nals of many of the Davis Strait's ships for the year 1817, for a different purpose than that of convicting Bernard O'Reilly, Esq. of misrepresentation, and among others, that of the Thomas; and in it we find that, instead of many days having elapsed before she sailed from that latitude,' (75° 17') she stood to the southward the very next day, (July 201li) on the noon of which she was, by 'observation, in lat. 75° 10' N., and from that moment continued down the strait on her homeward-bound passage !-Nor shall his calıımny against the master and mate of the Thomus of having falsified their journals avail bin. The masters and mates of the other vessels in company must also have falsified their journals, and, by a singular coincidence, have all falsitied them in the same places. The Audrew Marvel was in company with the Thomas, and the latitude marked in her log on the 18th is, by observation, 75° 19ʻN. The Royal George too was in company with her, and lier log, on the same day, marks the latitude, also by observation, as 75° 24'.—The Ingria, the Majestic, the Eclipse, and many other vessels, to the annount of eighteen, were in sight from the 17th to the 20th July, and there is not ten miles difference of latitude between any two of them. So much for falsehood and caluinny..

It requires some talent to carry on a successful imposture. The Linnaan islands, a very appropriate name it must be allowed, which Mr. O'Reilly presumed (as he says) to give them in 'honour of the prince of Natural Historians,' are stated in one part of the text, 'to run in a curve bending westward and northward, from the Greenland side across Davis's Strait,' and in another, to stretch across the Strait east and west, as far as the power of vision can ascertain,' (p. 94;) but, in a thing resembling a tailor's measure, or a proctor's bill, by its length, and which is humorously called a chari, the whole of these islands are upluckily placed north and south; and instead of stretehing westward across the Strait, by the same unaccountable mishap, they are laid down a full degree to the eastward of any part of the west coast of Greenland! Again: 'from my chart, which was made with the utmost accuracy, the number of these islands is eighty:'--the blots upon the thing we have mentioned, and which, we suppose, are meant to represent islands, amount to about sixly.

These · Linnæan islands' perform a very conspicuous part in Bernard O'Reilly's volume. By the power of vision' he sees behind them very distinctly, an open sea,' and beyond that an 'interminable icy continent.' But on reading a little farther, we find that the sea and the continent have changed places !

'In the view of the extensive chain of islands (to which I have presumed to give the name of the Linnean Isles), which stretch across the


straits east and west, very nearly in a circular curve, as far as the power of vision can ascertain, there lies an immense continent of ice, rising towards the Pole, and towards the islands before mentioned, descending like the regular declivity of the land mentioned by Bruce in the approach to the sources of the Nile. In this descent innumerable chan. nels are visible, eaten away by the snow which is dissolved annually under the presence of the sun. In some places it out-tops the islands, but leans upon them all; and it is probably owing to this very chain of islands presenting an impenetrable barrier, that the descent of larger portions of the icy continent have not before now carried their chilling aspect into southern climates.'--pp. 94, 95. Thus, instead of an open sea beyond these islands, it would now appear, that this interminable continent,'the source of all the icebergs that float to the southward, abuts on them and out-tops then, (like the overhanging eaves of a thatched roof,) rising towards the North Pole, as the summit of the ridge!

We cannot be sufficiently thankful to these eighty buttresses, which Bernard O'Reilly has discovered, for preventing a southerly visitation of this icy continent with its 'chilling aspect.' Its presence, however, would not seem to offer any very great annoyance to the neighbouring inhabitants of Greenland. It is not here, as in other parts of the world, that frost, snow, and elevation of surface, occasion cold; on the contrary they are the sources of heat. Of this we cannot doubt, being assured that the elevated lands produce in thenselves such an absorption of solar heat, during the summer months, as to make the atmosphere insupportably sultry;? (Introduction, p. 13.); that the beat of the sun reflected from the snow and ice, and also from the face of the rock, is intolerable;' and that when knee-deep in snow, the head and body are involved in a burning atmosphere.' (p. 391.)

This extraordinary development of heat from ice and snow (which, by the way, is noted, in what he calls a journal, from 33° to 40° of Fahrenheit in the month of July) might be expected to produce some extraordinary effect on the vegetation of Greenlandand so it does about Disco, near the icy continent;' for there the accumulation of heat is so great that all vegetable life is rapidly evolved,' (p. 271); on the southern part of Greenland, however, in about 60° of lat., the thermal influence ceases, and with it all appearance of vegetation. The ship Thomas, it is true, was never within sight of any land on this part of the coast; but that is nothing-Bernard O'Reilly's power of vision' enables him, like the witches in Macbeth, to see ' beyond the ignorant present.'—Indeed we are perfectly astonished at the unremitting attention which he appears to have bestowed on this picturesque country. Not a single day passes in which the cirrhus, the cirrhostratus, the agglomerated cumulostratus, cirrhocumulus, and the nimbus are not detected in playing



« AnteriorContinuar »