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the subject:" we shall therefore take leave to interpret their decisions, as old ladies do their dreams, by contraries; and it seems, on the face of the matter, to be a tolerably safe conclusion, that the Dionysiacs is a su perb poem.

They, indeed, who have exerted their vigilance to guard us against admiring Nonnus with prejudice to Homer, have been able to lay their finger on not a few instances of conceited and puerile taste, similar in kind to those above quoted; but not similar in degree: there is nothing so bad, there can be nothing so bad, in the mass of heterogeneous fables bound together in the Dionysiacal bundle, as Pluto hunting on the banks of Lethe for the ghost of Lazarus. The reason is obvious: the subject is too solemn; too sacredly and momentously interesting to human hopes, for us to admit patiently of mythological common-places being mixed up with it; and the sublimity of the incident itself, recorded, as it is, with a plain circumstantiality that bears the stamp of truth, repels every attempt at officious decoration; even as Samson" brake the seven green withs, as a thread of tow is broken when it toucheth the fire." But who would experience any violent sensation of offended taste, should he meet with playful prettinesses of ingenuity, or tumid exaggerations of imagery, when Aura is changed into a fountain, or when the constellations combat against Phaeton? It is a common error in those who pride themselves on a classic simplicity of taste, to exact simplicity where it would be out of character. Darwin has been treated in this way: he has been held up to the terror of all imitators, as a merely physical poet; as purely material in his poetry, without sentiment, and without any feeling for the ideal. To this it may be answer ed, that he turned Botany into a fairy tale; and that he chose the diction and illustrative imagery which were suitable to his plan and congenial with his subject. It was the fairy dress of fairy metaphysics. That he carried the same limited power of picturing to the eye into the regions of sentiment, may be true; but the objection is never levelled against his cold and passionless elegiac pieces: for these, on the contrary, pass cur

rent as pathetic, and are transcribed as such, into those crude repositories of mechanically assorted poetry which are designed to cultivate a classical taste in the minds of youth. It was the Loves of the Plants which they, who pretended to a correct judgment, took upon themselves to condemn, as fantastic in style and meretricious in decoration. This is much the same prudery of taste, as that which swept from the vicinity of the mansion the architectural garden, with its fountains, its statues, and its grottos, and obliged the inmate to step at once, without an intermediate gradation, from the house to the field.

The author of the Dionysiacs has thus experienced the same species of frigid injustice as the authors of the Botanic Garden, and of Thalaba. He has been censured for his tinsel refinement and subtle trifling, as though he were celebrating the unnatural brothers of Thebes, or expounding in lofty verse the principles of the Orphic Theology. Many of the censures which Cuneus has cast upon him would merit the praise of tasteful acumen were they directed against a poet of a different class: but what he sometimes holds up to reprobation, as sins against classical propriety and good sense, appear to me positive beauties, in the relation in which they stand, and in reference to the theme and object of the poet. I shall set down a few instances of this.

Petrus Cunæus asserts the trite axiom that the "beginning of a poem should be gentle, modest, and temperate;" but Samuel Johnson, with his usual sturdy sense, has shown that in this supposed rule Horace is misconceived and Addison mistaken; the pröemial verses of both the Iliad and Odyssey being rather splendid than unadorned. (Rambler, No. 158.) I should be glad to hear from any disciple of Addison what there is superior in magnificent elevation to this passage (among several others similar) in the alleged plain exordium of the Paradise Lost?

Instruct me, for thou know'st; thou from

the first

Wast present, and with mighty wings out-
Dove-like, sat'st brooding o'er the vast abyss,
And madest it pregnant?

When Cuneus cries out on the exclamation of Nonnus,

The mottled fawn-skin, dropping nectar'd dews

Of the Maronic grape.

On this, quoth Cunæus, "he who begins to kindle up his subject to unprepared ears, seems to be mad among people who are in their senses, and is, I may say, like a drunken person among others who are sober. You see nothing here but Bacchic rant and Corybantic noise."

Oh brains of Bolanus! what an error! to presume to be Bacchic while preparing to celebrate the god of Bacchanals!

Arrest the changing Proteus! let him show His varying form, since various is my songand talks of "uncouth and frivolous sense," and the "invention of a jejune and empty poor dabbler in poetry," he seems to "puff out his angry cheeks" on a very small occasion. That the diction of Nonnus is a little barbarous, and that he subtilizes too much, and trifles too wittily with the changes of the sea god, as influencing the transitions of his story, must be admitted: but in a poem of diversified mythological The said Petrus no doubt regardfables, the invention of Proteus seems ed Euryalus in the Dionysiacs, wieldboth ingenious and suitable. If it being a sword twenty cubits long, as on objected that his exordium is loaded a par with Jack the Giant-killer. He and pompous in details, why is Vir- had better have commented on the gil to escape clear of the same cenGnomici Poetæ Græci, and "left the sure? The truth is, that Virgil was world" of fabulous romance "for an Augustan poet: he belonged to others to bustle in." the golden age: he was the prince of poets, and could do no wrong: though after panting through the cumbrous and prolix invocation fixed to the Georgics, an unclassical reader might be tempted to exclaim, Tale tuum carmen nobis, divine poeta, Quale sopor.


If Virgil, after having made already an unmerciful muster of personages, could cry out "O ALL ye gods and goddesses!" surely, Nonnus might be permitted to place Proteus before us under a few of his hypothetical


In the moment of inspiration the poet exclaims,—

Bring me the wand, ye Muses! clash the


Give to my grasp the ivy spear of Bacchus,
Him whom I sing-

And again,

Bring me the wand, ye Mimallonian maids! Bind to my bosom-(my wont vesture doff'd)

The merit of Nonnus is, that he has decked out the classic mythology with a gothic wildness of fancy. He has also several graceful tales and pleasing adventures, though expanded by luxuriant amplification, and tricked out here and there with sparkling conceits in the Italian manner. sufficient to reply, that the DionyTo the usual slang of criticism it is siacs is a poem confessedly irregular, and irreducible to any single rule of epic writing. The unity of the poem consists merely in its title. Bacchus is the centre of the system by arbitrary position: he has his own set of adventures and exploits, which are not always necessarily connected with those of the other mythological personages, who move in eccentric orbits, and pursue their erratic course independent of the hero. I beg to introduce the poet of Panopolis to such readers as have not made a vow to read nothing but the settlement of Eneas in Italy. VIDA.


From the Dionysiacs, Book 10.

The Wrestling-match.

Both, in delighted converse link'd, to thicket shades repair,
And now the ivy spear they throw that flits in empty air;
Now on the treeless ocean shore in th' open sunlight stray;
Now rouse from rocks the lion whelps that couch on hills for prey :
Anon in solitude upon the banks of desert stream,

Upon some river's banks, where bright the rolling pebbles gleam,
With wrestler's gripe in sportful mood they struggled all alone;
Nor tripod as their palm of strife, nor flower-wreath'd caldron, shone:

Nor pamper'd courser neighing stood; but double flutes of love
With two-voiced whispers breath'd, and this the prize for which they strove.
And lovely was their strife; and Love himself within the ring,
With wrestler Hermes at his side, stood trembling on the wing:
And looking on they wrought the while a chaplet of delight;
Where with Narcissus hyacinths their purple blooms unite.
Both in the midst sprang forth at once these wrestlers fair as Love,
And round each others' backs their hands a finger-fillet wove:
A finger-chain beneath their loins, a mutual yoke of hands,
Dragging with arms and elbow-joints in intertwisted bands;
And in their clasp reciprocal they lifted from the ground
Each other's body, snatch'd in air, descending, round and round;
A double pleasure thus employ'd th' Olympian dweller's mind,
Lifting and lifted thus by turns upon the wafted wind.

Round Bacchus' wrist with fasten'd gripe the boy his fingers strain'd,
And caught his unreluctant hand as in a yoke retain'd;

But he around the youth's smooth loins his freed hands winding cast;
With grasp all frantic-fond he caught the twining wrestler fast,
And toss'd him up; then Ampelus a deft advantage took,
And Bacchus' ankle suddenly with foot extended strook;
And with a gentle smile he sank beneath his fellow's thrust,
As though by that soft foot-sole tripp'd, self-rolling in the dust.
The naked boy incumbent sat upon the prostrate god,

Who as he writhed him to and fro heaved back the pleasing load;
Till with stretch'd heel, that delves the sand, his nimble back he lifts,
Yet shows but half his strength, and thus with striving turns and shifts,
And sleight of quick-repelling hand throws off the lovely freight;
The stripling's bended elbow propp'd upon the sand his weight:
Then on the god's resisting back with crafty leap he swung
His sidelong form, and round the loins as with a chain he clung;
With heel to ankle firmly prest, his kneading knees he plied,
And drew his foot-sole right outstretch'd along the twisting side:
Roll'd headlong in each other's twine they tumbled on the soil;
The dripping moisture from them rain'd, the herald of their toil;
Till Bacchus, he who bore the form of strongly grappling Jove,
Spontaneous-vanquish'd, loosed his hold, though he unvanquish'd strove:
As mighty-statured Jupiter upon Alpheus' bank,

Self-prostrated to Hercules, knee-tottering reel'd and sank.

To see the sportive fight achieved, the youth's delighted hand
Upheld the prize, the two-voiced pipe; and stooping from the strand,
He wash'd away the beaded dust, and as he dash'd the stream,
His body, dropping silver, shed a lambent lovely gleam.

(To be continued.)


WELCOME, Sweet Eve, thy gently sloping sky,
And softly whispering wind that breathes of rest,
And clouds, unlike what day-light gallop'd by,—
Now stopp'd, as weary, huddling in the West;
Each, by the farewell of Day's closing eye,

Left with the smiles of Heaven on its breast!
Meek nurse of weariness, how sweet to meet

Thy soothing tenderness, to none denied ;
To hear thy whispering voice :-Ah! heavenly sweet,
Musing and listening by thy gentle side,
Lost to life's cares, thy colour'd skies to view,
Picturing of pleasant worlds unknown to care,
And, when our bark the rough sea flounders through,
Warming in hopes its end shall harbour there.



Représentée pour la premiere fois le 14 Juin, 1822, au Théâtre Royal de l'Odéon, par les Comédiens du Roi.

WE hear that this tragedy (of which our readers may find the subject in the 7th chapter of the second book of Maccabees) has had a greater success than any which has appeared for a long time on the French stage. We do not wonder at it. The novelty of the subject,--the animation of the dialogue,--the violent conflict between maternal love and religious enthusiasm in the breast of Salomé,-the heroism of her martyred sons,-the suspense in which we are kept as to their fate, their triumphant sufferings,—and the fury of their persecutor Antiochus, terminating in his ownutter consternation and dismay,all this must have agitated the feelings of the audience strongly from beginning to end. At least we know

that so it has been with us on reading it. Yet, with all this, we feel that there is a want of poetry throughout; of which there would be the more right to complain, if it did not pervade all the tragedies we áre acquainted with since the so much celebrated age of Louis XIV. By a want of poetry, we do not mean the absence of fine descriptions of buildings, and groves, and rocks, and sea-views, and moonlight landscapes; but we mean the absence of a powerful metaphoric diction, such as at once testifies the poet's genius,* and is the true index of passion,-such as Aristotle, from his own sagacity, or from the practice of his countrymen, concluded to belong properly to the drama,-and such as Shakspeare, without knowing any thing of Aristotle, or the countrymen of Aristotle, excelled in above all others. It is herein that not only the modern French, but even Italian tragedians, (not excepting Alfieri and

Monti), are miserably deficient. We remember an attempt (we are not sure whether by Voltaire or not) at translating the following words in Hamlet,

The serpent, that did sting thy father's life,

Now wears his crown:
and all that came of it was,-

Enfin, c'est ton oncle!

We are, however, sincerely glad to find the Tragic Muse making any stage. We should have liked to see thing like a stand on the French Mrs. Siddons rushing in upon our own, unable to support the torture them not to shrink from the trial, of her sons, after she had encouraged and uttering some such words as the following:

Non, non, laissez moi fuir.—Dieu ne l'exige

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*Ετι δὴ μέγα μὲν τὸ ἑκάτω τῶν εἰρημένων πρεπόντως χρῆσθαι, καὶ διπλοῖς ὀνόμασι καὶ γλώτταις· τὸ δὲ μέγισον, τὸ μεταφορικὸν εἶναι· μόνον γὰρ τοῦτο, οὔτε παρ ̓ ἄλλου ἐπὶ λαβεῖν, εὐφυΐας τε σημεῖόν εςι· τὸ γὰρ εὖ μεταφέρειν, τὸ ὅμοιον θεωρεῖν επι. κ. τ. λ.


Aristot. Poct. Tyrwhitt's Edit. 8vo. p. 84. 2 C

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That fine exclamation,

Dieu! le sang de mes fils a rejailli sur moi! which stood in no need of explanation, might perhaps have been suggested by a passage in the Polyeucte of Corneille, where Pauline, who has just witnessed the martyrdom of her husband, says to her father,

Son sang, dont tes bourreaux viennent de me couvrir,

me les vient

M'a dessillé les yeux, et d'ouvrir. The Christian martyr of Corneille is not equal to the Jewish ones of M. Guiraud. The sudden transition in Polyeucte, from his love for Pauline to the ambition of martyrdom, is too like an exemplification of that mischievous saying of Voltaire's—

D'amour à la devotion

Il n'est qu'un pas; l'une et l'autre est faiblesse.

M. Guiraud has contrived to support the interest of his play without any love.

As we are here reminded of Corneille, so are we elsewhere of Racine, but not so much to the advantage of the modern. In the character of young Mizaël, he has plainly had his eye on that of Joas in the Athalie, as may be seen by comparing A. 2. Sc. 7. of that tragedy, with A. 1. Sc.3. of the present. But the judgment of Racine could not be expected in so young a writer. One of the first answers of the Hebrew boy to the interrogatories of king Antiochus, when he is asked

Jeune Hébreu, qui es-tu? is

Sans Dieu je ne suis rien, Aussi puissant que vous si je l'ai pour

His subsequent simplicity, in being so easily cajoled by the king to discover the hiding-place of his brothers, is scarcely consistent with the boldness and intelligence manifested in this reply.

The author has contrived artfully enough to introduce the vision of Heliodorus, from the third chapter of Maccabees, b. 2. from which Raphael has taken his picture; but he might surely have made something more of it.

J'allais déjà saisir les vases de l'autel ; Déjà même, à travers la foule gémissante, Mes soldats promenaient la hache menaQuand la voûte du temple, entr' ouverte cante;



M'a fait voir un guerrier, qui, tout couvert


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