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the subject:" we shall therefore take rent as pathetic, and are transcribed leave to interpret their decisions, as as such, into those crude repositories old ladies do their dreams, by con- of mechanically assorted poetry traries; and it seems, on the face of which are designed to cultivate a the matter, to be a tolerably safe con- classical taste in the minds of youth. clusion, that the Dionysiucs is a suc It was the Loves of the Plants which perb poem.
they, who pretended to a correct They, indeed, who have exerted judgment, took upon themselves to their vigilance to guard us against condemn, as fantastic in style and admiring Nonnus with prejudice to meretricious in decoration. This is Homer, have been able to lay their much the same prudery of taste, finger on not a few instances of con- as that which swept from the vicinity ceited and puerile taste, similar in of the mansion the architectural garkind to those above quoted ; but not den, with its fountains, its statues, similar in degree: there is nothing so and its grottos, and obliged the inbad, there can be nothing so bad, in the mate to step at once, without an inmass of heterogeneous fables bound termediate gradation, from the house together in the Dionysiacal bundle, as to the field. Pluto hunting on the banks of Lethe The author of the Dionysiacs has for the ghost of Lazarus. The rea- thus experienced the same species of son is obvious: the subject is too frigid injustice as the authors of the solemn; too sacredly and moment- Botanic Garden, and of Thalaba. He ously interesting to human hopes, has been censured for his tinsel refor us to admit patiently of mytho- finement and subtle trifling, as though logical common-places being mixed he were celebrating the unnatural up with it; and the sublimity of the brothers of Thebes, or expounding in incident itself, recorded, as it is, with lofty verse the principles of the Ora plain circumstantiality that bears phic Theology. Many of the centhe stamp of truth, repels every at- sures which Cunæus has cast upon tempt at officious decoration; even him would merit the praise of tasteas Samson “ brake the seven green ful acumen were they directed awiths, as a thread of tow is broken gainst a poet of a different class: but when it toucheth the fire." But who what he sometimes holds up to rewould experience any violent sensa- probation, as sins against classical tion of offended taste, should he meet propriety and good sense, , appear with playful prettinesses of ingenuity, to me positive beauties, in the relaor trimid exaggerations of imagery, tion in which they stand, and in referwhen Aura is changed into a fountain, ence to the theme and object of the or when the constellations combat poet. I shall set down a few inagainst Phäeton? It is a common stances of this. error in those who pride themselves Petrus Cunæus asserts the trite on a classic simplicity of taste, to axiom that the “ beginning of a poem exact simplicity where it would be should be gentle, modest, and temout of character. Darwin has been perate;" but Samuel Johnson, with treated in this way: he has been his usual sturdy sense, has shown held up to the terror of all imitators, that in this supposed rule Horace is as a merely physical poet; as purely misconceived and Addison mistaken; material in his poetry, without sen- the proemial verses of both the Iliad timent, and without any feeling for and Odyssey being rather splendid the ideal. To this it may be answer than unadorned. (Rambler, No. 158.) ed, that he turned Botany into a fairy I should be glad to hear from any tale; and that he chose the diction disciple of Addison what there is suand illustrative imagery which were perior in magnificent elevation to this suitable to his plan and congenial passage (among several others simiwith his subject. It was the fairy lar) in the alleged plain exordium of dress of fairy metaphysics. That he thé Paradise Lost ? carried the same limited power of Instruct me, for thou know'st; thou from picturing to the eye into the regions
the first of sentiment, may be true; but the Wast present, and with mighty wings outobjection is never levelled against his
spread, cold and passionless elegiac pieces: Dove-like, sat'st broodingo'er the vast abyss, for these, on the contrary, pass cur
And madest it pregnant ?
When Cunæus cries out on the ex- The mottled fawn-skin, dropping nectar'd clamation of Nonnus,
Of the Maronic grape. Arrest the changing Proteus ! let him show His varying form, since various is my song, On this, quoth Cunæus, “he who and talks of “uncouth and frivolous begins to kindle up his subject to unsense,” and the “ invention of a prepared ears, seems to be mad ajejune and empty poor dabbler in mong people who are in their senses, poetry,” he seems to “ puff out his and is, I may say, like a drunken angry cheeks” on a very small occa- person among others who are sober. sion. That the diction of Nonnus is You see nothing here but Bacchic a little barbarous, and that he sub- rant and Corybantic noise." tilizes too much, and trifles too wit
Ob brains of Bolanus! what an tily with the changes of the sea error! to presume to be Bacchic god, as influencing the transitions of while preparing to celebrate the god his story, must be admitted: but in of Bacchanals! 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 cen.
Gnomici Poetæ Græci, and “left the sure? The truth is, that Virgil was
world” of fabulous romance an Augustan poet: he belonged to others to bustle in.” the golden age : he was the prince of
The merit of Nonmus is, that he has poets, and could do no wrong:
decked out the classic mythology though after panting through the with a gothic wildness of fancy. He cumbrous and prolix invocation pre
has also several graceful tales and fixed to the Georgics, an unclassical pleasing adventures, though expandreader might be tempted to exclaim, ed by luxuriant amplification, and Tale tuum carmen nobis, divine poeta,
tricked out here and there with sparkQuale sopor.
ling conceits in the Italian manner. If Virgil, after having made already sufficient to reply, that the Diony
To the usual slang of criticism it is an unmerciful muster of personages, siacs is a poem confessedly irregular, could cry out “O ALL ye gods and and irreducible to any single rule of goddesses !” surely, Nonnus might epic writing. The unity of the poem be permitted to place Proteus before consists merely in its title. Bacchus us under a few of his hypothetical is the centre of the system by arbitransformations. In the moment of inspiration the trary position : he has his own set of
adventures and exploits, which are poet exclaims,
not always necessarily connected Bring me the wand, ye Muses ! clash the with those of the other mythological cymbals,
personages, who move in eccentric Give to my grasp the ivy spear of Bacchus, orbits, and pursue their erratic course Him whom I sing
independent of the hero. I beg to And again,
introduce the poet of Panopolis to Bring me the wand, ye Mimallonian maids! such readers as have not made a vow Bind to my bosom-(my wont vesture to read nothing but the settlement of doff'd)
Æneas in Italy.
STORY OF AMPELUS.
From the Dionysiacs, Book 10.
Nor pamper'd courser neighing stood; but double flutes of love
in their clasp reciprocal they lifted from the ground
(To be continued.)
WELCOME, sweet Eve, thy gently sloping sky,
And softly whispering wind that breathes of rest,
Now stopp'd, as weary, hudåling in the West;
Left with the smiles of Heaven on its breast !
Thy soothing tenderness, to none denied ;
Musing and listening by thy gentle side,
Picturing of pleasant worlds unknown to care,
Warming in hopes its end shall harbour there.
LES MACHABÉES, OU LE MARTYRE ;
par les Comédiens du Roi.
WE hear that this tragedy (of Monti), are miserably deficient. We which our readers may find the sub- remember an attempt (we are not ject in the 7th chapter of the second sure whether by Voltaire or not) at book of Maccabees) has had a greater translating the following words in success than any which has appeared Hamlet, for a long time on the French stage. The serpent, that did sting thy father's life, We do not wonder at it. The novelty Now wears his crown : of the subject,--the animation of the dialogue,--the violentconflict between and all that came of it was,– maternal love and religious enthusiasm in the breast of Salomé,—the
Enfin, c'est ton oncle ! heroism of her martyred sons,—the
We are, however, sincerely glad suspense in which we are kept as to
to find the Tragic Muse making any their fate,-their triumphant sufferings, and the fury of their persecu- thing like a stand on the French tor Antiochus, terminating in his stage. We should have liked to see
Mrs. Siddons rushing in tipon our own'utterconsternation and dismay, all this must have agitated the feel- own, unable to support the torture ings of the audience strongly from them not to shrink from the trial,
of her sons, after she had encouraged beginning
to end. At least we know and uttering some such words as the that so it has been with us on read
following: ing it. Yet, with all this, we feel that there is a want of poetry Non, nón, laissez moi fuir.—Dieu ne l'exige throughout; of which there would
pas ; be the more right to complain, if it Et l'effort est trop grand pour le cæur d'une did not pervade all the tragedies we áre acquainted with since the so Tous mes fils garderont leur noble caractère, much celebrated age of Louis XIV. Et je n'ai pas besoin de ranimer leur foi. By a want of poetry, we do not mean (Regardant ses vêtemens avec horreur.) the absence of fine descriptions of Dieu ! le sang de mes fils a rejailli sur moi! buildings, and groves, and rocks, and Le sang ruisselle encore, et la hache est sea-views, and moonlight landscapes;
A. 5. Sc. 3. but we mean the absence of a powerful metaphoric diction, such as at It is not well for a writer to follow once testifies the poet's genius, * and this German custom of bringing the is the true index of passion,—such directions to the actors into his book. as Aristotle, from his own sagacity, They not only are a most unwelcome or from the practice of his country- interruption to the reader, but may men, concluded to belong properly induce the poet, who is satisfied with to the drama,--and such as Shak- so clumsy a method of conveying his speare, without knowing any thing meaning, to pass over many an exof Aristotle, or the countrymen quisite touch of nature. When Rosse of Aristotle, excelled in above all communicates to Macduff the murder others. It is herein that not only the of his wife and children, if Shakmodern French, but even Italian tra- speare could have contented himself gedians, (not excepting Alfieri and with a parenthesis in italics to this
"Ετι δή μέγα μέν το εκάτω των ειρημένων πρεπόντως χρήσθαι, και διπλούς ονόμασι και γλώτταις· το δε μέγισον, το μεταφορικών είναι μόνον γαρ τούτο, ούτε παρ' άλλου εςι λαβείν, ευφυΐας τε σημείον εσι το γαρ ευ μεταφέρειν, το όμοιον θεωρείν ετι.
κ. τ. λ.
Aristot. Poct. Tyrwhitt's Edit. 8vo. p. 84. Vol. VI.
effect,-(Here Macduff pulls his hat His subsequent simplicity, in being close over his face, and rests in a stupid so easily cajoled by the king to dissilence ;) he might have thought hims cover the hiding-place of his brothers, self dispensed from making Macduff is scarcely consistent with the boldsay to him,
ness and intelligence manifested in
this reply. Merciful heaven! What, man! ne'er pull your
The author has contrived artfully
upon your brows;
enough to introduce the vision of HeGive sorrow words, the grief that does not liodorus, from the third chapter of
Maccabees, b. 2. from which RaWhispers the o'erfraught heart, and bids it phael has taken his picture ; but he break.
might surely have made something, That fine exclamation;
more of it. Dieu ! le sang de mes fils a rejailli sur moi ! J'allais déjà saisir les vases de l'autel ; which stood in no need of explana- Déjà même, à travers la foule gémissante, tion, might perhaps have been sug
Mes soldats promenaient la hache mena, gested by a passage in the Polyeucte Quand la voûte du temple, entr' ouverte
çante ; of Corneille, where Pauline, who has
soudain, just witnessed the martyrdom of her M'a fait voir un guerrier, qui, tout couvert husband, says to her father,
d'airain, Son sang, dont tes bourreaux viennent de Avec un cri semblable à la voix d'une me couvrir,
armée, M'a dessillé les yeux, et me les vient Apparaissait immense en l'enceinte end'ouvrir.
flammée. The Christian martyr of Corneille Ce guerrier n'etoit point un fantôme im, is not equal to the Jewish ones of M. Un je ne sais quel Dieu.
posteur, Guiraud. The sudden transition in Polyeucte, from his love for Pau.
Ephraim. L'ange exterminateur. line to the ambition of martyrdom, is
Héliodore. Son bouclier de feu gardait too like an exemplification of that
le sanctuaire; mischievous saying of Voltaire's
J'ai voulu fuir ; mon front était dans la
poussière; D'amour à la devotion
Et de mon corps meurtri les membres fla. · Il n'est qu'un pas ; l'une et l'autre est
Se débattaient en vain sous ses coups reM. Guiraud has contrived to sup- doublés ; port the interest of his play without Son pied divin pressait ma poitrine san
glante. As we are here reminded of Cor- Que dis-je ? il plane encor sur ma tête tremneille, so are we elsewhere of Racine, Dans mon sein palpitant il étouffe ma
blante; but not so much to the advantage of
voix ; the modern. In the character of Me poursuit à tes pieds, young Mizaël, he has plainly had his
Ephraim, Je le sais, je le vois. eye on that of Joas in the Athalie,
A. 4. Sc. 5. as may be seen by comparing A. 2. Sc. 7. of that tragedy, with A. i. Sc.3. We will leave it to our readers to of the present. But the judgment of make the comparison to which we Racine could not be expected in so have referred in the Apocryphal book. young a writer.
One of the first We are informed that M. Guiraud is answers of the Hebrew boy to the not more than two or three-andinterrogatories of king Antiochus, twenty years of age. The dedication when he is asked
of the tragedy to his mother does as Jeune Hébreu, qui es-tu ?
much credit to his filial feelings, as is
the tragedy itself does to his talents Sans Dieu je ne suis rien,
as an author. Aussi puissant que vous si je l'ai pour