Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

garments, and the blasting flame blackened her face: the shades of death swam before her eyes ; and she fell breathless down the black steep rock: the sea received her body, and she rolled down with the roaring water.

Ethelgar stood terrible as the mountains of Maindip; the waves of despair harrowed up his soul, as the roaring Severn ploughs the sable sand; wild as the evening wolf

, his eyes shone like the red vapours in the valley of the dead : horror sat upon his brow; like a bright star shooting through the sky, he plunged from the lofty brow of the hill, like a tall oak breaking from the roaring wind. Saint Cuthbert appeared in the air ; the black clouds fled from the sky; the sun gilded the spangling meadows; the lofty pine stood still; the violets of the vale gently moved to the soft voice of the wind; the sun shone on the bubbling brook. The saint, arrayed in glory, caught the falling mortal; as the soft dew of the morning hangs upon the lofty elm, he bore him to the

sandy beach, whilst the sea roared beneath his feet. Ethelgar opened his eyes, like the grey orbs of the morning, folding up the black mantles of the night.-Know, O man! said the member of the blessed, to submit to the will of God; he is terrible as the face of the earth, when the waters sunk to their habitations; gentle as the sacred covering of the oak; secret as the bottom of the great deep; just as the rays of the morning. Learn that thou art a man, nor repine at the stroke of the Almighty, for God is as just as he is great. The holy vision disappeared as the atoms fly before the sun. Ethelgar arose, and bent his way to the college of Kenewalcin ; there he flourishes as a hoary oak in the wood of Arden.

Chatterton's Miscellanies.

33.-Kenrick.--Translated from the Saxon. WHEN winter yelled through the leafless grove; when the black waves rode over the roaring winds, and the dark brown clouds hid the face of the sun ; when the silver brook stood still, and snow environed the top of the lofty mountain ; when the flowers appeared not in the blasted fields, and the boughs of the leafless trees bent with the loads of ice; when the howling of the wolf affrighted the darkly glimmering light of the western sky; Kenrick, terrible as the tempest, young as the smoke of the valley, strong as the mountain of the slain; his armour shining like the stars in the dark night, when the moon is veiled in sable, and the blasting winds howl over the wide plain; his shield like the black rock, prepared himself for war.

Ceolwolf of the high mountain, who viewed the first rays of the morning star, swift as the flying deer, strong as a young oak, fierce as an evening wolf, drew his sword; glittering like the blue vapours in the valley of Horso; terrible as the red lightning, bursting from the dark brown clouds: his swift bark rode over the foaming waves, like the wind in the tempest; the arches fell at his blow, and he wrapt the towers in flames; he followed Kenrick, like a wolf ravening for prey.

Centwin of the vale arose, he seized the massy spear; terrible was his voice, great was his strength; he hurled the rocks into the sea, and broke the strong oaks of the forest. Slow in the race as the minutes of impatience. His spear, like the fury of a thunderbolt, swept down whole armies ; his enemies' melted before him, like the stones of hail at the approach of the sun.

Awake, O Eldulph! thou that sleepest on the white mountain : no more pursue the dark brown wolf; arise from the mossy bank of the falling waters; let thy garments be stained in blood, and the streams of life discolour thy girdle; let thy flowing hair be hid in a helmet, and thy beauteous countenance be writhed into

terror.

Egward, keeper of the barks, arise like the roaring waves of the sea : pursue the black companies of the enemy.

Ye Saxons, who live in the air and glide over the stars, act like yourselves.

Like the murmuring voice of the Severn, swelled with rain, the Saxons moved along; like a blazing star the sword of Kenrick shone among the Britons; Tenyan bled at his feet; like the red lightning of Heaven he burnt up the ranks of his enemy.

Centwin raged like a wild boar. Tatward sported in blood, armies melted at his stroke. Eldulph was a flaming vapour, destruction sat upon his sword. Ceol wolf was drenched in gore, but fell like a rock before the sword of Mervin.

Egward pursued the slayer of his friend; the blood of Mervin smoked on his hand.

Like the rage of a tempest was the noise of the battle ; like the roaring of the torrent, gushing from the brow of the lofty mountain.

The Britons fled, like a black cloud dropping hail, Aying before the howling winds.

Ye virgins ! arise and welcome back the pursuers ; deck their brows with chaplets of jewels ; spread the branches of the oak beneath their feet. Kenrick is returned from the war, the clotted gore hangs terrible upon his crooked sword, like the noxious vapours on the black rock; his knees are red with the gore

of the foe.

Ye sons of the song, sound the instruments of music; ye virgins, dance around him.

Costan of the lake, arise, take thy harp from the willow, sing the praise of Kenrick, to the sweet sound of the white waves sinking to the foundation of the black rock. Rejoice, O ye Saxons ! Kenrick is victorious.

Chatterton's Miscellanies.

34. Hard Words defended. Few faults of style, whether real or imaginary, excite the malignity of a more numerous class of readers, than the use of hard words.

If an author be supposed to involve his thoughts in voluntary obscurity, and to obstruct, by unnecessary difficulties, a mind eager in pursuit of truth; if he writes not to make others learned, but to boast the learning which he possesses himself, and wishes to be admired rather than understood, he counteracts the first end of writing, and justly suffers the utmost severity of censure, or the more afflictive severity of neglect.

But words are only hard to those who do not understand them; and the critic ought always to inquire, whether he is incommoded by the fault of the writer, or by his own.

Every author does not write for every reader; many questions are such as the illiterate part of mankind can have neither interest nor pleasure in discussing, and .which therefore it would be an useless endeavour to level with common minds, by tiresome circumlocutions or laborious explanations; and many subjects of general use may be treated in a different manner, as the book is intended for the learned or the ignorant. Diffusion and explication are necessary to the instruction of those who, being neither able nor accustomed to think for themselves, can learn only what is expressly taught; but they who can form parallels, discover consequences, and multiply conclusions, are best pleased with involution of argument and compression of thought; they de sire only to receive the seeds of knowledge which they may

branch out by their own power, to have the way to truth pointed out which they can then follow without a guide.

The Guardian directs one of his pupils “ to think with the wise, but speak with the vulgar.” This is a precept specious enough, but not always practicable. Difference of thought will produce difference of language. He that thinks with more extent than another will want words of larger meaning; he that thinks with more subtilty will seek for terms of more nice discrimination; and where is the wonder, since words are but the images of things, that he who never knew the originals should not know the copies ?

Yet vanity inclines us to find faults any where rather than in ourselves. He that reads and grows wiser, seldom suspects his own deficiency; but complains of hard words and obscure sentences, and asks why books are written which cannot be understood.

Among the hard words which are no longer to be used, it has been long the custom to number terms of art, “ Every man (says Swift) is more able to explain the subject of an art than its professors : a farmer will tell you, in two words, that he has broken his leg; but a surgeon, after a long discourse, shall leave you as ignorant as you were before.” This could only have been said but by such an exact observer of life, in gratification of malignity, or in ostentation of acuteness. Every hour produces instances of the necessity of terms of art. Mankind could never conspire in uniform affectation ; it is not but by necessity that every science and every trade has its peculiar language. They that content themselves with general ideas may rest in general terms; but those whose studies or employments force them upon closer inspection, must have names for particular parts, and words by which they may express various modes of combination, such as none but themselves have occasion to consider.

Artists are indeed sometimes ready to suppose that none can be strangers to words to which themselves are familiar, talk to an incidental inquirer as they talk to one another, and make their knowledge ridiculous by injudicious obtrusion. An art cannot be taught but by its proper terms, but it is not always necessary to teach the art.

That the vulgar express their thoughts clearly is far from true ; and what perspicuity can be found among them proceeds not from the easiness of their language, but the shallowness of their thoughts. He that

sees a building as a common spectator, contents himself with relating that it is great or little, mean or splendid, lofty or low: all these words are intelligible and common, but they convey no distinct or limited ideas. If he attempts, without the terms of architecture, to delineate the parts, or enumerate the ornaments, hiş narration at once becomes unintelligible. The terms, indeed, generally displease, because they are understood by few; but they are little understood, only because few that look upon an edifice, examine its parts, or analyze its columns into their members.

The state of every other art is the same; as it is cursorily surveyed or accurately examined, different forms of expression become proper. In morality it is one thing to discuss the niceties of the casuist, and another

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »