« AnteriorContinuar »
The steps by which Scotland redeemed herself from this depth of misery and crime afford so many practical lessons for the regeneration of Ireland. But we can only enumerate their titles, the import of which may not be undeserving the attention of the new association of Orangemen and Repealers, said to have been just cemented for eliciting the natural and industrial resources of the emerald isle. They were stability in the tenure of land ; popular education for the people; the obliteration of class divisions ; internal peace by the union with England, and entire extinction of rebellious hopes; a system of banking and currency that created capital and animated industry; and, lastly, she obtained a Public Opinion, the result of science and literature and of an intelligent periodical and newspaper press.
We have only touched on the first of these, which seems the most feasible at the existing juncture and the most interesting More the question of landed tenure is investigated, and more deep and general we are convinced will become the conviction that landlords only hold their possessions in trust for the general benefit, and that the terms of their trust and its executive management form legitimate objects of public legis. lation both in England and Ireland, as they already have been in Prussia and most European countries. But the inquiry will be resumed.
Saul: a Dramatic Sketch. Josephine to Napoleon ; with other
Poems and Translations. Kimpton. London, 1844. Is the age of inspiration irrevocably extinct ? Are we to have no more immortal dramas, beautiful poems, nor tender sonnets? Shall we never again revel in the dissolving views of poetic existence ? No moonlit landscape, no perfect forms of truth, beauty, and loveliness again flit across the imagination! Are all our May mornings and Midsummer dreamings to be crushed and crystallized under the Juggernaut tramp of a dumb, icy, unsympathising philosophy ? Such seems the inevitable doom ! The bright, aerial, and joyous mythology of the ancients, that sported midway between heaven and earth, has ·long vanished from the regions of fancy; even our own sylvan and more native deities, our fairies and sylphs, and Robin-good fellows, can only be alluded to in burlesque. No celestial visitors cross our path ; venerable dames do not bewitch; and he would be a bold bard indeed, who, in Arcadian strain, should , pipe to the rural love of shepherd and shepherdess. Amidst the general privation it is unreasonable to complain of the dearth of good verses ; overlooking that poets have lost the raw material of their manufacture-its language, personifications, and idealities; all that constituted the machinery and dramatis persone of their art has been exploded, or at most looks faded, tinsel, and bizarre, like the worn-out paraphernalia of a theatrical wardrobe by daylight. They cannot make bricks without straw, no more than the oppressed Israelites, and of this chemistry, experimentalism, and inductive research has deprived them. * Jeremy Bentham exulted that we should never again have a successful epic; which seems probable, since every ambitious aim in verse for many a day has never enjoyed more than temporary celebrity; that which is new mostly perishes, and the old alone endures, consecrated in our memories by early impression. It seems the unavoidable result of progress ; society is waxing in years, and it cannot be young at will no more than an individual ; that most likely to find favour must be patent to men's faith and sympathies, and a drama of life, a song, or a satire, it is probable, will be mostly the limits of future poetic license.
the higher classes. A bond or obligation is still in existence, signed by the Earl of Cassilis in 1602, by which he engages, upon his honour, to pay to Hew Kennedy, his younger brother, the sum of twelve hundred marks yearly, besides a maintenance of six horses, provided the said Hew will murder the laird of Auchindrane.
One wide domain, however, still remains sacred, on which neither science nor reason has made serious impression. It is that of religious belief. The supernatural, and the supernatural which men bave faith in, constitute the stirring and attaching elements of poetry. In the incidents and characters of Scripture history is a rich mine of materials, and were there no profanity in the suggestion, the revival of the sacred dramas and old mysteries of a past generation might again give life both to verse and theatrical representations. Here is an attempt before us to draw from this fertile repository- Saul: a Dramatic Sketch,' Oh! that the spirit had been there to rise to the height and grasp of this great argument- to breathe into the fictious presentment the living interest of the original-involve a doubting faith again in the perplexing maze of a mysterious Providence—and awaken afresh the sympathies indestructible from early association !
Every incident in the adventures of the son of Kish is replete with dramatic power, and might have been made to tell. There are plot, scenes, and characters of riveting intensity. Invention or original conceptions were hardly needed; only artistical working and combination, description and utterance. Responsive worth knit together in indissoluble ties the souls of David and
Jonathan; the son of a king threw his protecting ægis over the stripling peasant, who daringly smote in the forehead the boastful Goliah, of whom all the host of Israel were afraid ; the princess Michal, whose bridal had been won by the spoil of the Philistines, loved David too, and saved him from the vengeful javelin of her hypochondriacal sire: all — the fair and faithless Abigail inclusive -- were enamoured of the hero, who, though lowly born, was of transcendant worth, and every one in trouble or who thirsted for adventure, hastened to range themselves under the banner of a chief of gallant bearing, who magnanimously spared his deadly foe when twice in his power-when he might have transfixed him to the earth with his own spear, as he lay sleeping in his tent, with his cruse at his bolster and his warrior cloak around him.
In cleverness, gallantry, fertility of device, prowess, diversified adventure, and accomplishment, the son of Jesse seems to have resembled 'the Shepherd of the Ocean,'Sir Walter Raleigh. But Saul is the portentous dramatic figure, the being of inscrutable purpose, dragged on by fate to the inevitable catastrophe on Mount Gilboa, where the battle went sore against him, and where to escape ignominy from the uncircumcised, he perished nobly in the midst of his slaughtered offspring. He is a man of destiny, whose unceasing moral and metaphysical involvements afford glimpses of the two most extraordinary impersonations of genius, Macbeth and Hamlet. Exalted from a mean estate, through a perverse and uncontrollable will, he incurs the divine displeasure, and forfeits from disobedience the kingly crown he had obtained from the special favor of the Most High. Desolate and horror-stricken by the abandonment of the Omnipotence that had created him, he vainly tries to explain and justify bis shortcomings; he interrogates the Sacred Oracles, which respond not; in his last extremity, bereft of hope and overwhelmed with terror by the multitude of his enemies, he clandestinely seeks to penetrate the hidden future by the incantations of the weird sisters,' whose practices he had interdicted in his dominions. Before him the witch of Endor brings the dread spirit of Samuel ; the inexorable seer, who had hewed Agag to pieces, and before denounced to him the loss of his sceptre for not baving executed to the uttermost Heaven's vengeance on Amalek. The prophet tells him of the adverse fortune that awaits him, his own death, and that of his sons, in the next day's melée, and that his kingdom would be given to the rival he had relentlessly persecuted.
The scene is attempted in the following. The fallen monarch evinces a rallying energy before sinking into the eternal abyss under an irreversible decree.
Nor shalt thou survive, Unhappy king! of every child bereft; Happy in this that death shall not divide you ; To-morrow they and thou shalt be with me. (The Spirit disappears.)
Witch.— The King ! look to him : he hath fallen to the earth!
Abner.-Alas ! his eyes are fixed; his teeth are clenched ;
He but swoons ;
Saul.—To horse! to horse ! away! speed ! spur!-Oh shame
Our author rarely or never reaches the high notes of the tragic muse. A short poem or translation seems more within his compass. The following translation of some hendecasyllabics in the Latin Anthology, erroneously ascribed to Gallus, is gracefully executed. We give the commencement to enliven the gloom of the preceding extract.
• Lydia, fair girl, whose milk-white skin
Might o'er the lily triumph win;
The "Vers à L'Aurore' are pretty and sparkling. • Aurora, rise,
Less lovely blows
The damask rose
Soft as ermine,
More white her skin In living blushes play.
Than the lily's spotless hue. Oh! she is fair
Apart she eats
And from her lip
I kissing sip
A dramatic sketch, translations, and poems, form the usual poetic freight of beginners, and we have given samples of each not fair, we own, but the best, according to our thinking, that turned up.
WIDOWERS.-There is no condition in life so utterly helpless, so utterly hopeless, as that which the father of a young family feels, upon the first few days, or may be weeks, of his and their bereavement. Then, however, is the time that exertion and decision are most needed on his part, as upon the very first step, with respect to future arrangement, will depend almost entirely the future happiness of his own and his children's lives; and, for the most part, then it is that some officious friend or interested acquaintance, by the display of an unfelt sympathy, gains an ascendancy over the entire family which can never be entirely shaken off, and the baneful effects of which will only cease with the lives of his children. For the most part it ends with planting at his fireside some imperious, bustling, intriguing, and mercenary woman as the gouvernante of his children, the purveyor of his house, and the head of his table,' and whose only object is to instal herself as 'mistress of the mansion,' and the curator of his purse. These are chiefly after all selected from the advertising widows, who declare themselves 'free from incumbrance,' and full of maternal tenderness' towards the sweet little dears,' whom they are so anxious to enfold in their wolf-like clutches. It is true they may not come directly sought out so, but they always have a set of friends who feel for their lone condition'-and for yours too! These friends will somehow entangle you with a widow if they can; and against this class of attacks, commenced at such a time, it is hard to cope. You think it all disinterested sympathy towards yourself, and are grateful for the entanglement which is to cost you so dearly! There is also, beside the widows, the class of middle-aged governesses, who would not object to take also the domestic superintendence;' and these are invariably on the lookout for a homestead of their own-are weary of single blessedness and too old to bear either the dictation or the exactions of the majority of mothers. They are, however, infinitely preferable to the widows as housekeepers, for they will be less assuming and imperious towards yourself— less overt in their attempts 10 gain your affections—and if less excellently qualified to manage a house, they will make their management less costly to you than the widow will. However, take the advice of one who speaks from experience-determine at once to marry again-to look out for a wife of suitable age and good disposition in your own circle—and, above all, determine never to choose a wife under your own roof. You will thus avoid many future annoyances, and consult your own and your
children's happiness infinitely more than by taking any other course; but, above - all things, avoid the officious interference of your friend's wife and of your
deceased wife's family.