Imágenes de páginas

offices and honors. It would indeed be perfectly amusing, if it were not at the same lime a subject of sad contemplation, to hear the terms aristocratic and democratic, in the party contests of the day—familiarly applied to things and persons having no one quality—to justify such idle distinctions. The man for example who is "clothed in purple and fine linen, and fares sumptuously every day"—who drives his splendid equipage with liveried servants, who "lies down in luxury and rises in sloth"—that man is a member, or if you choose, the leader of the plain republican party— whilst the humble homespun pedestrian, w ho walks by the wheels of the other's chariot—whose bread is earned by the sweat of his brow, but who is sufficiently independent to think for himself—is denounced as an artjtocral, or what is worse, a Federalist of the genuine stamp—and is thought unworthy of all communion with the faithful, or at least of all participation in equal political benefits. Epithets are the powerful weapons with which bad and ambitious men have in all countries finally succeeded in overturning all that was valuable and good—all that was wise and beneficent; and unless the people of these States shall in time become sufficiently enlightened, to distinguish the qualities of things from their names, we shall assuredly ere long add another to that gloomy procession of republics, Which Iiavf.




Lo! Death hath reared himself a throne

In a strange city, all alone,

Far down within the dim west—

Where the good, and the bad, and the worst, and

the best,
Have gone to their eternal rest.

There shrines, and palaces, and towers
Arc—not like any thing of ours—
Oh no!—O no!—ours never loom
To heaven with that ungodly gloom!
Time-eaten towers that tremble not!
Around, by lifting winds forgot,
Resignedly beneath the sky
The melancholy waters lie.

No holy rays from heaven come down
On the long night-time of that town,
But light from out the lurid sea
Streams up the turrets silently—
Up thrones—up long-forgotten bowers
Of sculptured ivy and stone flowers—
Up domes—up spires—up kingly halls—
Up fanes—up Babylon-like walls—
Up many a melancholy shrine
Whose entablatures intertwine
The mask—the viol—and the vine.

There open temples—open graves
Are on a level with the waves—
But not the riches there that lie
In each idol's diamond eye,

Not the gaily-jewell'd dead

Tempt the waters from their bed:

For no ripples curl, alas!

Along that wilderness of glass—

No swellings hint that winds may be

Upon a far-off happier sea:

So blend the turrets and shadows there

That all seem pendulous in air,

While from the high towers of the town

Death looks gigantically down.

But lo! a stir is in the air!

The wave—there is a ripple there!

As if the towers had thrown aside,

In slightly sinking, the dull tide—

As if the turret-tops had given

A vacuum in the filmy heaven.

The waves have now a redder glow—

The very hours are breathing low—

And when, amid no earthly moans,

Down, down, that town shall settle hence,

All Hades, from a thousand thrones,

Shall do it reverence,

And Death to some more happy clime

Shall give his undivided time.



While there is an active literary faction in America, who decry the study of the ancient classics, it is still pleasing to observe, upon a comprehensive survey, that these consecrated remains are assuming in public esteem the place which they deserve. I hope therefore to meet with some indulgence when I offer the few desultory remarks, not in behalf of classic lore in general, so much as in commendation of a single branch. The observations which follow are meant to shew some reasons why our scholars should devote special attention to the Greek Tragedies.

It is believed that these relics, unfortunately not more than thirty in number, have been more neglected in oar schools and among our private scholars than any portion of ancient letters. That this has not been the case in England will be very apparent to any one who is familiar with the lives and labors of such men asBeolley, Porson, Markham, and Blomfield. Especially in the University of Cambridge the ardor with which these works have been restored to purity of text, and elucidated by indefatigable research, has been almost ex cessive.

The intrinsic difficulties in the Greek plays are not such as should deter any well grounded scholar. After an ordinary training in the Attic idioms of Xenophon, Plato, and Demosthenes, the labor will be small. From the nature of the versification, there is a limit to the construction, so that the sense cannot be thrown beyond s few lines. And the metres themselves, except in the most difficult choral parts, have been robbed of their intricacies by the labors of the critics.

There is this obvious inducement for the scholar to take up a Greek tragedy, that it is short. Even if he study with minute analysis, a few days will complete his task. But he who begins the Odyssey is loth to lay it aside until he has finished it, which is the work of months. The tragedy is complete in itself, " totus teres atque rotimdus."

It has been maintained by some scholars, that no human productions have the perfection of literary finish, as it is possessed by the dramas of Euripides. And we may include his two great predecessors in the remark, that their works, like the Hellenic sculptures, will remain unrivalled, the models nf all who aim to present nature idealized to its utmost point.

The ancient tragedy, from its very nature, contains the concentration of high passion. This was the very notion of it, as tragedy. And this quality renders it an indispensable study to all those whose province it is to scrutinize or to awaken the active powers; in other words, to the metaphysician, the poet, and especially the orator. No doubt it was this view of the subject which led a man no less visionary than Mr. Fox to declare, as he does in his correspondence with Dr. Parr, that if he had a son to educate for the senate, he would cause him to be profoundly versed in the writings of Euripides.' And yet so far as mere passion is concerned, we find it more strongly developed in the "desolate simplicity" of Aeschylus, than in either of his followers. This use of dramatic composition is doubtless involved in that celebrated and vexed passage of Aristotle's Poetics, in which tragedy is said to be efficacious to purge the passions. Barker quotes Jamblichus, in illustration of this TraOnitaToii/ xaQiipms, where he says: "By contemplating the passions of others in tragedy and comedy, we settle our own passions, render them more temperate, and purify them." Milton also, whose whole soul was steeped in Grecian poesy, alludes in the introduction to his Samson Agonistes, to this same remark of Aristotle, where tragedy is said "to be of power by raising pity and fear or terror, to purge the mind of those and such like passions, that is, to temper and reduce them to just measure."

Alike in name, ancient and modern tragedy scarcely belong to the same species. The grand distinction of the former is the chorus, which is altogether inadmissible in the latter. According to the most specious hypothesis this was the nucleus of the Greek drama, around which, by slow degrees, the dialogue was gathered. It was the chorus, as a train of personages unconnected with the plot, that relieved the tedium or directed the excitement of the dialogue. Sometimes, as they appear in significant dance, they advise, exhort, or suggest a moral; sometimes they echo back the feeling of the actors, and always augment the grandeur of the pageant. Thus we find the chorus ever and anon breaking in to temper the unnatural rage of Medea, and in this respect discharging the duty indicated by Horace,

I!le bonis faveat, et concilietur amice:

El re^at iratoa, el ami;l pacare tumentes:

Die daprs lauricl mensac brevis: ille salubrcm

Jusliliam, legesque, et apcrlis otiaportia:

ille legal commissa, 8cc. Jld Pisones 193.

The mere English reader will have a fair conception of this singular ingredient of the ancient drama, by perusing Milton's tragedy above-named, which is cast

♦ See Appendix to Parr's Works, Johnstone's edition. Vol. vii. and viii.

in the most rigorous Attic mould; and which, we are tempted to imagine would have been received even at Athens, if it could have been brought out in the astonishing Greek version of Glasse. If Gray had not dissipated his matchless powers upon mere fugitive efforts, he might have done more than all other scholars to produce a spirited repristination of the antique chorus. Mason's Elfritla on the same plan has been thought a failure. His estimate of the ancient chorus however merits attention. "Shakspeare" says he, speaking of the poetic element in the drama, "had the power of introducing this naturally, and what is most strange, of joining it with pure passion; but I make no doubt, if we had a tragedy of his formed on the Greek model, we should find in it more frequent, if not nobler, instances of his high poetical capacity. I think you have a proof of this in those parts of his historical plays, which are called choruses, and written in the common dialogue metre. And your imagination will easily conceive, how fine an ode the description of the night preceding the battle of Agincourt would have made in his hands, and what additional grace it would receive from that form of composition." He also shows that the chorus augmented the pathetic, both in its odes and dialogue; by music, by the dance, by aiding and carrying forward the impression, and by showing to the spectators other spectators strongly affected by the action. These remarks are cited merely to throw light on this cardinal attribute of the ancient drama, not to recommend its revival among the moderns. The German scholar will find the "Iphigenia in Tauris" perhaps the severest and happiest imitation of the antique; yet it docs not "come home to our business and bosoms."

The relative importance of these great productions should cause them to be placed in a commanding position at our great schools. This has already been effected in England. A taste for this branch of st udy is fostered by the rank which it is made to hold in the university examinations. Porson's noted prize is awarded annually to the best translation into Greek verse of a given passage of Shakspeare. In the Cambridge examinations, the three great objects of competition in classical literature, are the University Scholarships—the Classical Tripos, and the Chancellor's Medal. Among other exercises demanded of candidates, they are expected to translate into English verse any given portions of the three tragedians, as well as of Aristophanes. A passage, usually from Shakspeare or Milton, is assigned, to be translated into Greek verse. The metre is generally Tragic Iambic; sometimes Tragic Trochaic; sometimes Anapxstic; rarely Heroic, and still more seldom Comic Iambic The obvious tendency of such measures, is to excite the most intense emulation in the whole literary corps, and to keep before the mind of the learned the highest models. Familiarity with these amazing conflicts of passion is not merely a literary luxury; it is a great preparative for those real scenes in which the statesman, the advocate and the orator, are called upon to reach the hidden springs of human action, to sway the motives, and wield "at will the fierce democraty." The American student therefore who is awake to his own interest, will not deem it beneath his notice to work in this mine, and will say with Milton,

Sometimes let gorgeous Tragedy
In sceptcred pall come sweeping by,

[merged small][ocr errors]



Oh strike the Harp.

Oh! strike the harp, while yet there lies
In Music's breath the power to please;
And if the tears should fill mine eyes,
They can but give my bosom ease.
But hush the notes of Love and Mirth,
Too welcome to my heart before;
For now those airs that breathe of earth
Can charm my pensive soul no more.

Yes, I have loved the world too well,
And roved in Pleasure's train too long;
And I have felt her sweetest spell
In Beauty's smile, and Passion's song.
But now my soul would break her chains,
While yet perhaps the grace is given;
Then strike the Harp in Zion's strains,
And she shall soar at once to heaven.


Filled in from the Pencilling* of an English artist,

Painting is welcome ;—
The painting is almost the natural man;
For since dishonor traffics with man's nature,
He is but outside. These pencilled figures are
Even such as they give out.

Timon of Jllhens.


Chesapeake Bay. Hampton Roads. Old Point. Rip Raps.
The Capes.

Tuesday, May 26, 1835. Hurrah! there she goes! Free and fast,—free and fast! Hurrah! Here am I on the green waters of the Chesapeake,—my craft a little clipper, my companion one of the best fellows in creation; and his sister, a bright-eyed French girl, whose spirits seem to rise with every knot our tight little vessel makes upon the dancing waves. Did you ever see a Baltimore clipper under full way? Then you have seen a fair sight. I never saw any craft get over the waves so fast. Her peculiar build, and her yet more peculiar rig fit her for this, and she takes the wind out of any thing and everything she essays to compete with. We have left a steamboat behind since we left Baltimore. We are just now entering Hampton Roads, and here we are to anchor. "Old Point Comfort," is the name given to a fortification on our right, which, in the dense mirk of the night looks like any thing but the abode of comfort. We are riding at anchor upon the surging waves, and beneath dark and heavy clouds

piled one above another in voluminous masses, from which the lightning is playing incessantly. It is a most grand and yet most fearful scene. I stand, with Mariette, my little French companion, and, as if spellbound, look into the depths of cloudland, watching for every opening of those yawning chasms disclosed by the perpetual play of the lightning, regardless of the warning of the captains, (for we "serve two masters") who are foreboding a fearful night. Excitement! wlui are we not willing to sacrifice for it,—a new scene, something strange,—a fresh feeling! Here are we, tempests threatening us from every point, the wind veering incessantly from every quarter of the heavens, and the chances that we shall be driven ashore increasing with the lapse of every moment, and yet all is so new, and so exciting, that we are really rather amused than fearful. But then, cnpilaine, if you insist upon it, why, I suppose we must e'en go below!

2S(n. Just returned from a visit to what one of the men who accompanied us called " the last post office I everdid see, any how!" It is located in the centre of the grand fort, planned by the most celebrated engineer of his own and Napoleon's time, General Bernard. They mount three hundred guns, and the work, I understand is, or is to be the finest piece of military architecture in the United States. But it was too dark while we were there to observe any thing minutely. We are now approaching blue water very fast. The Rip Raps or Fort Calhoun on our left, will soon be lost to our view. This fortification is only a few feet above the water as yet, nor will it be finished for some years, I do not know who was the projector of it, but presume from the name it bears that it was originally projected by that celebrated South Carolinian statesman, while he was minister of the war department. It is to be built on a similar plan to that of Cherbourg in France, by filling large boats or rafts with stone, and sinking them. This mass is then covered with loose stone, over all which a composition or cement is poured, acting as a binder. This work is about gun distance from Old Point Comfort, and the two, by a cross fire, forma most admirable barrier to James River, thus protecting the ports of Richmond and Norfolk completely. I do not see that Baltimore is by any means adequately guarded, its only protection being a small fort a dozen miles below the town, which might be very easily evaded by a skilful foe.

29IA. Only think of n stager of my standing and experience being sea-sick! I am ashamed of myself, after defying Old Ncp. in his very lair, in two or three regular marches across his domains, to be here, taming pale in the face from encountering the Capes of Virginia. But so it is, and as that droll Yankee Liston whom I saw in Boston, but whose name I forget,' was wait to say, "it can't be any Uisser."

June 4. After all, this sen life is anlntolernbly monotonous and stupid way of getting along in the world. I would rather be a dormouse or a hedgehog; indeed I might as well be either,—for my only life now is lying in the sun all day, eating if my qualms will allow rw, and drinking whether they will allow me or my- merely pour passcrle temps .- sleeping from seven o'clock, p. M, until seven o'clock, A. H. besides taking a iapi«

♦ My friend means Finn.

[lie morning, and a siesta to boot. I have seen the flying fish, the whale, and the Portuguese man of war, which Mariette says is "sans doute le Nautile,"—and now I close my log till 1 shall see a dolphin. "This do 1 swear, and now let's have a song!" as the renowned Artaxomines sailh.


Chased by a Pirate. Going ashore. St. Thomas's. Descriptive Sketches.

After a lapse of many days, I resume my sketches, to give you some account of my going ashore in the West Indies, after my long and tedious voyage. Since I shut up the port-folio nothing worthy of remark has occurred. The same succession of two-knot breezes, of lazy floating gulf-weed and of flying fish; the same rolling of the vessel all the first part of our voyage, to make us sick, and then six days of severe squalls, during light and dark, to make us mad, were our iquuscnients. My comrade was on his back, a martyr to this combination of horrors., Mariette, poor thing! looks the spectre of herself; and as for myself, I have conjugated that bore of a verb ennuycr in all its moods and tenses, until I began to fancy myself a marine Mazeppa, lied on a seahorse, and doomed to ride the waste of waters forever for my sins.

What a relief was it, and how did it stir my sluggish blood, to hear the captain say that there was a pirate in full chase of us, one squally morning. We were a fore and aft schooner—with a two and a half knot wind—while the chase was square rigged, and nearcd us every moment. The wind had not blown from any quarter steadily fur six days, but was rising and lulling every half hour,—and it was to this peculiarity in the weather that we owed our escape, after a smart chase of seven hours. Our craft was a very fast vessel on the wind, and a breeze springing up, we distanced the enemy in a little time, and soon run her clear out of sight. So much for the speed of the fur famed Baltimore clippers! This sea-devil appears to be well known by sailors in these waters; and one of cur crew told mc that she carries no guns, but only small arms, which are easily stowed, or plausibly accounted for,—and if she is overhauled by a government vessel, that she shows merchants' papers. When she attacks she makes sure work, and quiets all babblers: "dead men tell no tales." Upon our arrival at St. Thomas, we heard of preparations being made to pursue this very craft, which had been carrying on its bloody trade in the vicinity of that island. Arrived at St. Thomas on the last day of June.

This island belongs to the government of Denmark, and its latitude is about 13 deg. 30 min. It seems to me one of the most interesting places I ever visited which feeling, in advance of nil experience upon its shores, must arise from the impression of novelty which every tiling I see around me has produced. The principal harbor (Forto Franco) is one of the loveliest bays in the world; it is round and small, and filled with vessels displaying the flags of every nation on the globe Among these I observed that the stars and stripes of your free land predominated greatly. Entering this harbor, you sec only a dense mass of mountain and wood, until within n few miles you see the Moro, or fort, on the right, and a dilapidated structure on the

left, of an entrance scarcely a half mile across. Passing the latter fortification, as it is called, the whole town rises grandly before you, compactly built on a succession of undulations or spurs of the grand hill which composes the island, reaching quite down to the water's edge. The wharves are built on piles, as are many of the stores or warehouses for the deposit of heavy goods, as tobacco, sugar, &c in which an extensive trade is carried on by the people of the island.

The town does not make so imposing an appearance from the harbor as it would do were the houses more than one ortwo stories high; and one isdisappointed on going ashore, to find a much more dense and extensive population than he was prepared to see. The streets are refreshed with the shade of banana and cocoa trees, and here and there you meet with a market place or parade ground, with these tropical trees growing in thick luxuriance around them. I have observed that several parts of the town have of late been thickly planted with them, but as they arc six years in attaining their growth, they are yet very small compared with the others I have described.

Many, I may say most of the houses are built of stone, and this renders them much cooler and more agreeable places of residence than they would otherwise be. Yet the preference of this material arose less from choice than necessity. There was a most calamitous fire in the island in the year 1832, which devastated nearly the whole town. Since that time the government have prohibited the erection of buildings from any other material than stone. These are low, but neat and commodious enough.

The country around (if that may be called so which is a continued ascent to the elevation of about 3,000 feet above the level of the sea, rising abruptly from the harbor) is surpassingly rich in verdure, every description of tropical shrub and underwood growing spontaneously. Many of these, and indeed most of them, arc gay and brilliant in their flowering, but singly are, like other wild flowers, scentless. Yet on the hills, their united or concentrated aroma is often overpowering.

In the morning, upon rising and coming on deck, while the heavy dew is yet lying upon all around mc, 1 observe that the water outside the harbor, being very deep, is of the most intense blue; while inside the harbor it is of the brightest green,—brighter than any thing I have ever seen, excepting some very light shades of foliage,—and realizing the clearness of Claude's water pieces. And when the early sun shines upon the waters, they present shades of emerald, which, were I to be so daring as to convey them to my canvass, would be invariably condemned by nil beholders as fictitious. This, by the way, is one of the painter's greatest obstacles; to surmount which, indeed, he finds it impossible: he must paint nature with art as his model, before ho can be called natural; yet he knows full well that "Laboring art, can never ransom Nature From her inaiJable estate."

In the centre of the town is a very substantial fort of dark blue stone, an excellent garrison, and paved with a kind of fire-brick or tile. The guns are very small but beautifully cast. They are of brass, and arc handsomely mounted. The men arc all clean, well dressed, and under admirable discipline. Their light Danish complexion strikingly contrasts with the swarthy counlenances of the islanders. The pale fair faces, flaxen hair, sandy muslachins and light blue eyes of the soldiery, mark them at once among the smooth-chinned, black-eyed, curly-haired Creoles and natives. The streets are filled with blacks of every grade and shade, all thinly clad; and the coquettish manner in which the Madras dress their heads in their striped handlerchiefs, with the hair long and straight, or braided and hanging in clubs around the forehead and temples, and a peculiar style of gait in the women, combine to give them a certain air, which at first gives you rather a ludicrous idea of them; but as you see more of it, it becomes rather pleasing than otherwise. The girls of fifteen or sixteen are frequently met walking in pairs, as erectly as possible, clad in a single garment, generally of white cotton or linen, either falling down to the feet in folds, or tied round the waist with a kerchief, and the folds partially drawn up to this belt, to aid the wearer in walking. This gives them a certain air which we sometimes call classic, and which is associated rather with the idea of an Egyptian or a Hindoo. When young they are mostly beautiful; but age, though it does not destroy that crcclncss of gait which I have described, gives them an unsteadiness in their carriage which is quite marked and very general. I have observed too, that the old people of the laboring classes, are either grossly fat or wretchedly thin and emaciated. It is curious to see the precision and ease with which they carry their burthens, invariably upon their heads, and which they balance, be they ever so heavy, with great nicety. I yesterday saw two girls coming from the well with their water pots. These are entirely Egyptian in their fashion, being large and round, with long necks, and a handle on each side. They are made of red clay, and are very strong. I could not but stay to watch the group. The figures of the girls were faultless, their faces pleasing, though black; and then their thin white flowing draperies setting off their slender graceful forms and small neat feet to great advantage. The back ground to this scene was formed by a row of latticed houses, shaded by cocoa trees.

The stores for the sale of fancy articles and dry goods are large, commodious and cool,—fire proof, by ordinance of the government, with large open doorways, displaying the interior almost entirely, and attended by the whole family—fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, and slaves. Articles of all descriptions are cheaper here than in New York, though I confess the currency puzzles me no trifle, the Spanish dollar being here worth only seventy-five cents, and that is divided into so many "servers" and "bits," that a stranger is cheated every hour in the day in spite of his teeth.

July llh. I have just returned from one of the most whimsical scenes I ever witnessed. About half a mile from the town rises a chain of hills, divided by ravines running from the summit to the spot I visited, a distance of perhaps two miles. This being the bight of the hills, is always moist, even in the hottest weather. A small stream which is constantly trickling down, keeps the place cool, and the foliage is the richest and purest green I ever witnessed. Tropical trees and shrubs of every kind, grow here spontaneously; the lofty silk cotton tree,—the mango, with its dense foliage, than which there is no shade from the sun, or shelter from the rain more agreeable,—the graceful pomegranate,—

the quivering tamarind with leaf like the locust tree, but more graceful and fragile, and a thousand other plants, all in blossom, and bearing ripe fruit and green at the same time. One would fancy the place the chosen spot of Oberon, for the scene of his fairy revels,— although at present a very different kind of fairies were disporting themselves in this lovely wilderness. The spot is called by the very unromantic name of "Buck's Gut," from the circumstance, I believe, of its being the property of a Mr. Buck. However this may be, it is private property, and the owner derives a profit from it by farming it out to a tenant, who has built a dam at the head of the stream, which is but a little drizzle of water an half inch deep or thereabouts. Thus he makes a pool, in which he sells the right of washing linen at the rate of ten stivers, or twelve cents per diem. The parties hiring this privilege, assemble over night and form lesser pools, by building smaller dams at intervals from the top to the bottom of the ravine, out of stones, mud, and old rags. Round these pools congregate persons of every color and shade—but no white —dressed in every degree, from the dress in which their Maker sent them into the world, to ihefanhicnablt muslin slip in which " Missy Rosa, lubby fine," danced with heramiable ebony Adonis last evening,—during which pasting his spurs (all ride, and many walk here a la miiiiairt, with spurs, the shanks of which are of bright brass, and six inches long at least) must have caused "that envious rent," through which I perceived the ladies' ^If»A-co!ored stockings and sky-blue shoes with pink rosettes.

The process of washing was curious enough. The pool soon becomes of the consistency of batter from the large number of clothes washed in it, but still the wretches wash and wash until they only gain in dirt instead of losing, until the hour of noon, when you see them in all their glory —some on their knees, thumping their finds into very rugs with a short mallet—others, mid-deep in the pool, more tenderly treating their clothes—some lying on the bank, lazily basking in the sun, and singing some negro song, in which the whole group at times unite in full chorus. One old woman stood among the enormous roots of a gigantic silk cot ton tree, cooking soup for the good of the community, with a half dozen children sitting contentedly around her, in primitive nudity. In this latter particular the adults are not much better off, however, than the children; for of them not more than a twelfth part have any more covering than a single kerchief tied round the middle of their persons. Now, though some of these yellow girls are straight and well limbed, the generality of them would hardly serve as models for * Venus.

But hark! what noise is that! what screaming and shouting! what roar of waters! the sluices at the herd of the stream are just opened, and the fresh water is coming down in all its force. Open gush all the pools, to be dammed up again directly, soas to allow the laundresses an opportunity to rinse the clothes they hove been attempting to wash. The water, in its descent, is accompanied by shouts from group to group, apprising those below of what is coming —and such an infernal hubbub never before did I hear. Has ing finished my pencilling of the scene, I took my leave. July Sl/i. I took a walk this evening a little way out

« AnteriorContinuar »