Imágenes de página

their gambols, perpetually intermingling with each other, dancing through the misty atmosphere, and producing over the more misty pages of his quarto, as numerous and as various transmutations as may be seen in the tube of a kaleidoscope; all this he has pilfered, and converted into nonsense, from Forster's . Systematic Arrangement of the Clouds. With respect to the country itself, he gravely assures us that it is a grievous nistake to suppose it took its name from any thing green about it. The origin is totally different, and is plainly discoverable in the language of the natives. It is called

Succanunga,' the Land of the Sun; but, lest we should not do justice to our author's learned and interesting speculation,' as he calls it, we present our readers with the passage entire.

"A classical reader, familiar with the works of Greek and Roman writers, will recollect that an epithet for the noon-day Apollo, when clad in Latin form, is Grynæus.' Grynæus Apollo forms an adulatory invocation in the prayer of Eneas, who was at once a priest and prince according to the Phrygian mythological system. General Vallancy, who bestowed much and very extraordinary labour on the subject of antiquities, particularly those referable to eastern origin, has fixed on the word Grian, of Irish or Celtic signification, as it may be received, being epithetically expressive of the strongest power of the sun, which is synonymous among all ancient nations with the Apollo of Grecian mythology. To avoid, therefore, invidious reference as to intercourse with the Greenlanders, it may be fairly admitted, that the synonyme, by whatever voyager to these parts communicated, is justly explained by the above terms: let us view them in connexion: Succanuk--the Sun.

Succanunga-Greenland. Grian-Apollo, or the Sun. Grianland-Land of the Sun.

"The Land of the Sun, or Sunny-land, as familiarly may be said, corresponds with the simple appellation which the natives give their country. The adventurers who came in aftertimes to seek the same shores, not probably understanding the meaning of the term, yet spelling the word as they could from hearing it often repeated, were inclined to write Grianland in their mude Groenland, which sounds very nearly alike, but in the language of Denmark has no reference to the original! -pp. 14, 15.

There is a trifling mistake in this interesting speculation;' but it is rather favourable to the view of the subject as taken by Bernard O'Reilly, Esquire. With submission to his superior knowledge, we take leave to observe, that Grynæus is not exactly an epithet for the noon-day Apollo,' but rather of a grove sacred to Apollo.

His tibi Grynæi nemoris dicatur origo:

Ne quis sit lucus, quo se plus jactet Apollo. Now as the ancients had a way of naming things by the rule of contraries,'as“ lucus a non lucendo,' an instance in point, nothing is more probable than that Æneas conferred the name of Grynaanland, or land of groves, on this delightful country, because he could not meet with a single twig upon it. Mr. O'Reilly has our permission to print this further elucidation' in the second edition of his quarto.


To be serious for a moment—General Valencey, (from whom most of this rambling stuff is taken,) though a man of learning, wrote more nonsense than any man of his time; and has unfortunately been the occasion of much more than he wrote. His reveries which, as they came from him, afforded occasional glimpses of ingenuity, when taken up by those who, like Bernard O'Reilly, have neither learning, nor taste, nor judgment, nor even common sense to direct them, degenerate into mere absurdities, too mad for reason, too foolish for mirth.

He, however, is so elated with his success, ' in the etymological line,' that he pursues his inquiries with increased vigour. He has actually collected a vocabulary of no less than six and twenty words of pure Esquimaux, among which are piccaninny, a child-canoe, a boat, &c.; and he has set the people themselves right as to the true manner of writing and pronouncing their name, which, it appears, is Uskee. From Uskee comes (we know not how) yak, and from yak, yankee ;--- of doodle Mr. O'Reilly says nothing. His most surprising discovery, however, is that of the derivation of the word Uskee itself, with which we should have favoured our readers had not the author, unfortunately for his literary fame,' contrived, in imitation of his betters, to mix up so much filth and obscenity with his speculations as to render it quite unfit for the public eye or ear.

We shall not trouble our readers with all the instances in which we have caught our learned author tripping, though, for the sake of doing justice to our own character for sagacity, we are under the necessity of noticing a few of them. Thus we apprehend there is a trifling mistake in the information now first communicated to the world, that · Columbus came to Britain,' and that he was refused protection,' (Introduction, p. 10); that two noble Venetians, following his example, obtained a ship in Ireland, and sailed to West Friesland in 1380, not many years after he, whose example they followed, was born. But though they got their ship in Ireland, and though Ireland traded with West Friezeland, the Irish, it seems, know nothing of the matter, and for this plain reason, because Queen Elizabeth deprived them of their records. (p. 10.) Still more unluckily for the Irish, this extensive island, peopled with polished inhabitants dwelling in a hundred towns, was, shortly after its discovery, suddenly overwhelmed in the ocean, and disappeared with every living creature on its surface,' (p. 10)—those beneath its surface, we take for granted, floated off in safety. It was situated, we are informed, in the fifty-eighth degree, between Ice

( 3


land and Greenland,' (p. 11.) both of which, of course, must then have extended, at least, as far south as that parallel, though they bave since receded towards the North Pole. That there was a West Friezeland Mr. O'Reilly assures us is by no means doubtful; that it was not the Greenland' of late note' is equally certain; and that it is now named the Sunken Land of Buss cannot be called in question :-yet in the very next page he says: 'Quære? May not this land of Buss, so sunken, bear some probable reference to the Old or Lost Greenland, or the Atlantis of the Greek writers? It would not be easy to disprove this.' (p. 12). We will not contest the point with the learned author, especially as, after all, this island, with its hundred cities, which was metamorphosed from West Friezeland to Buss, froin Buss to West Greenland, and from West Greenland to the Atlantis of the Greek writers,' turns out to be neither more nor less than the famed Uliima Thule of the ancients'! and as whole valleys of dreadful soundings, and peaks of tremendous and destructive contact, buried in the ocean water, forbid an exact inquiry regarding its actual position.' (p. 12.)

Bul if Mr. O'Reilly bas perplexed us a little with this multinominal country, in return, he has set us at ease with regard to Spitzbergen, which we had supposed to be a cluster of islands, but which he has ascertained, from his two months cruize in Davis's Sırait, ' to be one island.' (p. 47). We are moreover instructed that this one island (Spitzbergen) is utterly uninhabitable in the winter months,' and, finally, that` the attempt has never yet been made.' Will not the Dutch and the Russians take shame to themselves for publishing in the face of the world, that their people have frequently wintered there! We are also informed that the bergy fragmeuts' from the icy continent seldom pass the latitude of Statenhoek before they become finally dissolved;' of course, the accounts of ice-islands seen in the Atlantic are false. And by way of further consolation, it is added, that the icy continent itself must finally disappear, as the melted snow has eaten deep and tremendous chasms into its sides.

One word more-We are not much in the babit of deciding on the price of books, considering that as not within the critic's province; yet when, as on the present occasion, the enormous sum of fifty shillings is charged for a very thin quarto, we cannot but think it fair that the public should be apprized of what it is composed.It is this consideration alone which has led us to waste a word on a composition so utterly worthless as the volume before us.



Arr. IX.-Childe Harold's Pilgrimage. Canto IV. By Lord

Byron. 1818.
• Farewell! a word that must be, and hath been-
A sound which makes us linger;-yet-farewell!
Ye! who have traced the Pilgrim to the scene
Which is his last, if in your memories dwell
A thought which once was his, if on ye swell
A single recollection, not in vain
He wore his sandal-shoon, and scallop-shell;

Farewell! with him alone may rest the pain,

If such there were--with you, the moral of his strain!' THIS solemn valediction, the concluding stanza of Lord Byron's essay. · There are few things, says the moralist, 'not purely evil, of which we can say, without some emotion of uneasiness, this is the last. Those who could never agree together shed tears when mutual discontent has determined them to final separation, and of a place that has been frequently visited, though without pleasure, the last look is taken with leaviness of heart. When we resume, therefore, our task of criticism, and are aware that we are exerting it for the last time upon this extraordinary work, we feel no small share of reluctance to part with the Pilgrim, whose wanderings have so often beguiled our labours, and diversified our pages. We part from Childe Harold' as from the pleasant and gifted companion of an interesting tour, whose occasional waywardness, obstinacy and caprice are forgotten in the depth of thought with which he commented upon subjects of interest as they passed before us, and in the brilliancy with which he coloured such scenery as addressed itself to the imagination. His faults, if we at all remember them, are recollected only with pity, as affecting himself indeed, but no longer a concern of ours:-his merits acquire double value in our eyes when we call to mind that we may perhaps never more profit by them. The scallop-shell and staff are now laidaside, the pilgrimage is accomplished, and Lord Byron, in his assumed character, is no longer to delight us with the display of his wondrous talents, or provoke us by the use he sometimes condescends to make of them, —an use which at times has reminded us of his own powerful simile,

• It was as is a new-dug grave,

Closing o'er one we sought to save.' Before we part, however, we feel ourselves impelled to resume a consideration of his · Pilgrimage,' not as consisting of detached accounts of foreign scenery and of the emotions suggested by them, but as a whole poem, written in the same general spirit, and pervaded by the same cast of poetry. In doing this, we are con



scious we must repeat much which has perhaps been better said by others, and even be guilty of the yet more unpardonable crime of repeating ourselves. But if we are not new we will at least be brief, and the occasion scems to us peculiarly favourable for placing before our readers the circumstances which secured to the Pilgrimage of Childe Harold a reception so generally popular. The extrinsic circumstances, which refer rather to the state of the public taste than to the genius and talent of the author, claim precedence in order because, though they are not those on which the fame of the poet must ultimately rest, they are unquestionably the scaffolding by means of which the edifice was first raised which now stands independent of them.

Originality, as it is the highest and rarest property of genius, is also that which has most charms for the public. Not that originality is always necessary, for the world will be contented, in the poverty of its mental resources, with mere novelty or singularity, and must therefore be enchanted with a work that exhibits both qualities. The vulgar author is usually distinguished by his treading, or attempting to tread, in the steps of the reigning favourite of the day. He is didactic, sentimental, romantic, epic, pastoral, according to the taste of the moment, and his fancies and delights, like those of Master Justice Shallow, are sure to be adapted to the tunes which the carmen whistle. The consequence is, not that the herd of imitators gain their object, but that the melody which they have profaned becomes degraded in the sated ears of the public -its original richness, wildness and novelty are forgotten when it is made manifest how easily the leading notes can be caught and parodied, and whatever its intrinsic merit may have been, it becomes, for the time, stale and fulsome. If the composition which has been thus hunted dowu possesses intrinsic merit, it may—indeed it will—eventually revive and claim its proper place amid the poetical galaxy; deprived, indeed, of the adventitious value which it may at first have acquired from its novelty, but at the same time no longer over-shaded and incumbered by the croud of satellites now consigned to chaos and primæval night. When the success of Burns, writing in his native dialect with unequalled vigour and sweetness, had called from their fails an hundred peasants to cudgel their brains for rhymes, we can well remember that even the bard of Coila was somewhat injured in the common estimation--as a masterpiece of painting is degraded by being placed amid the flaring colours and ill-drawn figures of imitative daubers. The true poet attempts the very reverse of the imitator. He plunges into the stream of public opinion even when its tide is running strongest, crosses its direction, and bears his crown of laurel as Cæsar did his imperial mantle, triumphant above the waves. Such a phenomenon sel


« AnteriorContinuar »