Imágenes de páginas

upon one

“ to these qualities, and partly to the great variety of his “ style, that Mr. Scott is much less frequently tedious than

any other bulky poet with whom we are acquainted. His

store of images is 60 copious, that he never dwells “ long enough to produce weariness in the reader; and, even u where he deals in borrowed or in tawdry wares, the rapidity " of his transitions, and the transient glance with which he is “ satisfied as to each, leave the critic no time to be offended, “and hurry him forward along with the multitude, enchanted “ with the brilliancy of the exhibition. Thus, the very fre

quency of his deviations from pure taste, comes, in some sort, to constitute their apology; and the profusion and variety of his faults to afford a new proof of his genius.

“ These, we think, are the general characteristics of Mr. “ Scott's poetry. Among his minor peculiarities, we might “notice his singular talent for description, and especially for “the description of scenes abounding in motion or action of “any kind. In this department, indeed, we conceive him to “ be almost without a rival, either among modern or ancient

poets; and the character and process of his descriptions are

as extraordinary as their effect is astonishing. He places “ before the eyes of his readers a more distinct and complete

picture, perhaps, than any other artist ever presented by mere words; and yet he does not enumerate all the visible

parts of the subject with any degree of minuteness, nor con“ fine himself, by any means, to what is visible. The singular “merit of his delineations, on the contrary, consists in this, « that with a few bold and abrupt strokes, he finishes a most “ spirited outline,-and then instantly kindles it by the sud“ den light and colour of some moral affection. There are

none of his fine descriptions, accordingly, which do not de“rive a great part of their clearness and picturesque effect, as “ well as their interest, from the quantity of character and “ moral expression which is thus blended with their details, « and which, so far from interrupting the conception of the “external object, very powerfully stimulate the fancy of “ the reader to complete it; and give a grace and a spirit to “the whole representation, of which we do not know where “ to look for any other example.”

[ocr errors]

Wallace, or the Fight of Falkirk. This beautiful little poem is by far the happiest of all the imitations of Mr. Scott's manner. It is the production of a lady~" Miss Holford” and exhibits

very uncommon powers, both of fancy and versification. We are happy to find that it has been republished in this country, and can, with great confidence, recommend it to our readers. It professes to be no more than a description of the battle of Falkirk, in which the liberties of Scotland were “ for a time cloven down," and has therefore very little variety of incident. But the account of this battle, and of some of the preceding and subsequent adventures of Wallace, is wrought up with great spirit, and imbued with considerable interest. The history of her hero has been rendered familiar to our public by the prose romance of Miss Porter, “ The Scot

tish Chiefs," which has had so wide a circulation among us. The ignominious death of the Scottish chieftain, upon which Miss Porter dwells with so much pathos, could not well be minutely described in a poem of this description. Miss Holford has closed her work with a mere allusion to this topic, in which she has displayed considerable ingenuity and skill.

“ Now, ye who list, with Wallace go,
“ To mark the closing scene of woe!
“ I cannot!-On the failing string,
“ With faltering touch, my fingers ring!
“The sorrowing muse her wing has spread,
“ And tir'd of earth, is heaven-ward fled!
“I wake! and all the sounding theme
“ Seems like a sleep-erected dream!
“ But 'tis not so. Though Wallace' dust,
“ Is long since scatter'd by the gust,
“ His name lives still, cherish'd and shrin'd
" In every Scottish patriot's mind!
“ Perchance his spirit hover'd nigh,
“ And as I pour'd the descant high,

“ Drank of the votive strain, and bless'd it from the sky." As the" Fight of Falkirk” may not be known to very many of our readers, we shall lay before them two or three additional extracts, as specimens of the general merits of the work. The death of Guy earl of Warwick slain by the hand of Wallace is thus finely described.

“ And now more dreadful, fierce, and fell,
“ Than the spent muse has breath to tell,
“ The mortal combat grows!
“ Earl Warwick's helm has touch'd the ground,
“ Spouting from many a glastly wound,

(* The sanguinary river flows!
« Dire, as a famish'd wolf, he turns,
* Foaming, the gory earth he spurns;
** With baffled wrath, unskill'd despair,
“ Idly he spent his strokes in air,
“Whilst every gash his rival lent
“Yawn’d wide, as it would give the mighty spirit vent!
“ Yet the soul fled not.--Fierce and grim,
“ It would have still maintain'd the fight,
“ But the stunn'd brain and eye-balls dim,
“ The wasting strength, and failing limb,
“ Confess'd his foeman's might!
* On his stern brow the pain-drops break,
“ And paleness shrouds his dusky cheek!
“ Anguish was in his mighty heart,
“ He felt his limbs forsake their part;
“ Feebly his arm the falchion wields,
“Each trembling joint beneath him yields;
“Still, still he struggles!—'tis in vain!

Conquered he sinks upon the plain,
“ On the pale rose his band had cropp'd

“ All powerless, faint and wan the noble Warwick dropp’d." The following passages may also serve to illustrate the general strain of sentiment and diction.

“ Ah! would the muse could drop the tear,
“ Distinct, on every hero's bier!
“ Well-pleas'd, the embalming dew to shed,
“On every patriot's cherish'd head!
“ But many a name has envious time
“ Snatch'd from the fame-bestowing rhyme,
“ Which might have blazed on history's page,
“ To light this fearful, lowering age:
“ But man, alas! since first began
“The fickle, wavering race of man,
“ Through every clime and age the same,
“ Has stain'd his crest, and stoop'd to shame;
“ Fear’d for his land to strike the blow,
“ Or basely sold her to the foe!

“ Where is the breast of iron mould,
“Stern, inaccessible, and cold,
" Which melts not when its proud (listress
“ Is balm’d by pity's gentleness?
“ It pierces through the warrior's steel,
“ His cares to soothe, his wounds to heal;
“ It creeps into the rankling heart,
" And if it cures not, lulls the smart;
“ All is not lost, if by our side
“ One faithful lingerer fondly stays,
“ But life's dark waste, so wild and wide,
“ Seems lessen’d on our gaze!
“ 'Tis sweet on some familiar face
“ The mild reflected tear to trace,
“ And sympathy's responding sigh
" Is music to the frozen ear of misery."

“ When we stand on the dark grave's fearful brink,
« When we touch the verge of the world below,

" When our lip shall be wet with the chill, cold drink,
“The latest drop in our cup of woe,
“ When the warrior quits his useless brand,
“ And the sceptre slips from the nerveless hand,
“ When the ardent heart, its tremblings o'er,
“ Shall waver, and hope, and fear, no more,
“ When love's warm smile, hate's fiery eye,
“ Must, quench'd in the dust of the churchyard lie-
“ If thou knowest a breast like the virgin snow,
" Pure and unthaw'd on Dunmaït's brow;
“Oh! ask when it touches this awful goal,
“ What are the thoughts of the passing soul?
“ The tear that swims in the filmy eye,
“ The chill, faint breath of the final sigh,
“ These are the passing soul's reply!
“ The farewel of the lingering mind,

“ Which hangs on this pleasant world, for ever left behind!" The feelings awakened by the approach of a battle in the mind of the combatants are well described by Miss Holford.

“Yes, it is come! that pause of dread,
" Whose silent interval precedes
“ Men's faltering footsteps, as they tread
“ Towards sanguinary deeds!
“ There is an hour, whose pressure cold
“ Comes even to the hero's breast!
“ Each warrior's heart of human mould
“ Howe'er intrepid, fierce, and bold,
“ Has still that hour confest.
" It is not when the battle-storm
“ Hurtles along the affrighted skies,
“ It is not when death's hideous form,
“ His threatening voice and piercing cries,
“ Shriek in our ears and scare our eyes;
“ It is not when the slogan shout
“ Has sent the death-word ʼmid the rout,
“ Nor 'mid the hail of the arrowy shower,
“ Nor when we see the life blood pour;
“ It comes not then-that ghastly hour!
“ 'Tis in the breathless pause before,
“ While yet unwash'd with human gore,
“ Our thoughts 'mid dreams of terror roam,
“ And sadly muse on things to come!
“ Then shuddering nature half recoils,
“ And half forbids the inhuman toils!
“ But 'tis too late!-the die is cast!
“ The furies bid to the repast!
“ Oh! from the cradle to the tomb,
“ Comes there no hour so fraught with gloom,

" As that ere nations meet, to seal each other's doom." Vol. I.


Storia della Guerra dell' Independenza degli Stati Uniti 1

d'America, scritta da Cario Botta. So much has been said and written, on the advantages to be derived from the study of history, that it would be deemed almost impertinent in us, if we undertook to expatiate on that subject. We may, however, be permitted to offer a general recommendation on this head to our young countrymen, and to point out some of the particular sources, from which the lessons of experience are to be drawn with most profit and pleasure. There does not now exist on the face of the earth, and perhaps there never has existed a people, upon whom it is more rigidly incumbent, both from motives of interest and duty, to apply to historical studies, than upon the citizens of the United States. The unrivalled felicity of their condition, the splendor of their prospects, and the magnitude of the dangers to which they are exposed, summon them imperiously to make the operation of the human passions, upon the welfare of states, as it is unfolded in the general experience of mankind, the subject of their most eager and unremitting research. The rise and the decline of the free governments which have at any time flourished in the world, should particularly engage their attention, as they offer, not only the most delightful aliment to liberal curiosity, and the most magnificent pictures to the fancy, but the most instructive commentaries on our particular situation, and the surest rules of conduct for the members of a free commonwealth. The histories of Thucydides, of Polybius, of Livy, and of Sallust among the ancients, and those of Ferguson, Gillies, Hume, Machiavel and Guicciardini among the moderns, should be habitually read and revolved, by such of our youth, as cherish the sacred ambition of administering beneficially the affairs, and preserving unimpaired the institutions of this republic.

There are, also, certain other works, which we would espe, cially recommend to their notice, and which may be said to contain the philosophy of history, and to be the digests of the general principles of state wisdom, as they are to be collected from particular cases in the narrative of human fortunes, and the great current of human affairs. We allude to such political writings as those of Aristotle, of Plato, and of Cicero,~-of Bolingbroke, Burke, Montesquieu and Machiavel. The discourses on Livy, which form a part of the works of the Italian politician, contain, perhaps, more copious and valuable instruction, for a republican reader, than any other political discussion

« AnteriorContinuar »