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propose saying a few words, should be erroneously estimated; one party degrading it below the standard of the “Queen of Hearts," and another equally degrading it, by supposing that it was intended to complete the par nobile of lauded childishness. We declare we have no such intention ; let the “ Epic” of “The Microcosm” be still considered by those, who choose it, an unique, without equal or second; but for the “ Song” of “ The Etonian,” we entreat but a little patience from our readers, and we will wager the price of this present Number, that we prove its immeasurable superiority over its celebrated antagonist. We invite Mr. Griffin himself to take notice of our arguments in its favour, and we leave the decision to Doctors Keate or Goodall, as the appellee pleases; or, in default of either of those muchrespected Judges, we will lay the case before the Visitor. We shall avoid the indelicacy of answering point by point the positions of our opponent, and shall set at once about showing to the satisfaction, as we dare hope, of every candid mind, that what we have advanced boldly we are able to defend reasonably,
In the first place, then, the “ March to Moscow” is a Song ; and hence in its very nature, as we shall soon show, a nobler creation than an Epic Poem. The fact is, in modern times the character of Songs has been greatly depreciated, and perhaps with some justice, when reference is had to the shoals of things called, or calling themselves, by that name; but we should not therefore forget that the essence still remains the same, though not successfully substantialized in the imperfect attempts which we contemn. A Song is that which was first sung before the jargon of epic, or tragic, or comic, was thought of by a parcel of plodding grammarians ; it was the free and spontaneous poetry of the soul, couched in multiform images, dressed in a thousand robes, and comprehending all things, even as the soul itself comprehended them.
A Song is the original and natural organ of Genius; and for this we have the greatest authority; for when the wisest man that ever lived on earth turned his universal mind to Poetry, what did he write? An Epic Poem? A Tragedy? A Comedy ? A Melodrama? A Satire ? A Sonnet ? An Epigram? By no means! He instantly saw or rather felt how Poetry best showed itself to men; in what dress it least suffered from the imperfection and material touch of language; and in what form it would be most popular, most comprehensive, most penetrating, most melodious. He wrote a Song and verily, a man must be gifted with a more than usual proportion of impudence, who denies, or underrates the authority of King Solomon.
But we cite this mighty name, not to crush the question with its weight, nor even to prove the truth of our position, but
simply to demonstrate the primitive and almost sacred descent of the Song, in its proper sense. We shall show, in the instance of the “ March to Moscow,” in what manner it comprehends every kind and degree of beauty of all sorts and names; and who will deny that what possesses the particular excellences of all, must be more excellent than each particular, or that the whole is more than its parts? In the mean time, we cannot refrain from adducing, in confirmation of our argument,—and as a test that we are not playing the same trick, of which we took the liberty to suspect Mr. Griffin,—the opinion of an acute Italian, the Abbe Salvini, who concludes his examination and eulogy of this species of composition in these words :-" But where does it ever become a Poet to display himself in all his poetical riches, in his invention, his powers of arrangement, his musical variety of metres, which affect the soul diversely, in his brilliant sentences, and his great and magnificent figures, if not in a Song ?” *
Having shown that we had some grounds for our assertion of the superior nature of the Song in the abstract, we will now, without further delay, proceed to the examination of the “ March to Moscow” itself, when we will endeavour to demonstrate its great and indeed transcendant merits, to the confusion of the most determined Sceptic.
To do this effectually we crave the loan, Gentle Readers, of your Ears and Imaginations; be for ten minutes but so old as the winter of 1812 will make you ; revive all the terrible sentiments of anxiety, or even despair, which at that time agitated the breast of the most sanguine statesmen; consider the Emperor of France the armed leader of countless armies, springing on from victory to victory; Holland incorporated, Italy enslaved, Spain deluged with blood, Germany crouching, Sweden playing double, and the despatches of the dreadful defeat of Smolensko overtaken by news of the slaughter of the Russians at Moskwa, and the Capital of the North in the possession of France—and we alone are left! but Providence interferes; the conquerors are conquered and exterminated, and their Leader runs away. Remember the joy, the delight, the happiness of England; our old prejudices against soup-maigre and wooden shoes all alive; we are feasting, we are dancing, we are triumphing, when at length a true Englishman gets on a table, calls for silence, says he has a bit of a song for the occasion, drinks the King's health with a "God bless him," is received with three tremendous cheers, and then half air, half recitative, commences thus :
* Ma dove mai vale a mostrarsi il Poeta ,con tutte le ricchezze poetiche, coll' invenzione, colla disposizione, colla musicale varietà de metri, che l'anima variamente percuotono, co' lumi delle sentenze, colle figure grande, et magnifiche, se non nella Canzone ?
· Prose Foscare di A. M. Salvini. Firenz: 1715, p. 219.
“ Bonaparte he would set out
For a summer excursion to Moscow;
Morbleu! Parbleu !
Heigho! for Moscow!
Princes a few, and Kings one or two,
Morbleu ! Parbleu!
Heigho! for Moscow !
Nothing would do,
Morbleu! Parbleu! But they must be marching to Moscow." Now let us pause here for a moment, and examine the varied qualities of the preceding lines. Consider them in whatever light you please, still, as in a well-drawn face, the eye is ever upon you. And not merely do they address themselves to you; but if a hundred people, each with different feelings, gaze upon them, they answer each one look for look, and respond to the heart with an expression which every individual feels is his own. You are expecting an Epic ?-Good :-Show us in Homer or Virgil, Tasso or Milton, any thing superior to the apt arrangement of the foregoing exordium :- the attacking forces are first numbered in a mass ; Homer, we are aware, does not so state their gross amount, but forces the reader to have recourse to a very long and somewhat intricate calculation to arrive at this most important preliminary; and moreover, he dissipates the energy of the idea in a heap of particular resemblances, and by telling you that they were as numerous as leaves, as noisy as geese or cranes, as thick as flies, he succeeds in the end in leaving upon the mind a most confused, uncertain, and unsatisfying accumulation of whimsical similitudes. This might have been easily avoided by that noble and decisive plainness which Mr. Southey has used; he does not distract the attention with a vast number of little sums, or disgust the enthusiasm of his readers by the puerilities of flies and ganders, but at once, with no sort of shuffling, as if he was ashamed of his “ rascals,” he declares the truth, makes no comment, and adds no simile.
“ Four hundred thousand men or more.” Have we ever seriously meditated upon the magnitude of this complex image? That elegant Captive, Mr. Hunt, said, that a
meeting of not one fifth of this number was “ tremendous.” What then would be the impression created by this army, covered with glory and helmets, and of course drums and fifes playing? But it was just possible that some reader of “ King Cambyses' vein” might not think this astounding multitude sufficiently great. The Poet foresaw this, and guarded against the contingency; and by saying
“ Foar hundred thousand men or more,” he has left every reader to choose for himself ad libitum any number, not less than the specified sum.
Are we in a Tragic mood ?-What can be so terrible, so fearful to the imagination, as the circumstance of this enormous army of gallant soldiers marching away from a home which they were never to see again, fondly enjoying the charms of the landscape and the climate, and all this attributed to the despotic Will of one bad Individual ? The inexorable Destiny of the Greek Tragedy was not so awful as this.
“ Bonaparte he would set out”" would set out," in spite of advice, in the teeth of treaties; nobody had injured him, no one provoked him; a sanguinary Caprice urges him on, and, as it seems, the fine weather encourages his hopes. Remark also his profane, yet humorous execrations, clearly arising from a habit of swearing, for as yet nothing has irritated him :" Morbleu! Parbleu !” He is very jocund-and out it comes. Thus far may be considered as the the Protasis of the Tragedy.
Must it be a Comedy?—But we see that if we go on thus pointing out all the various lights in which this wonderful “ Song " may be viewed, we shall exhaust ourselves and our readers. We will then proceed quickly through the remainder of the Poem, and only confine ourselves to the two points of Epic and Tragedy.
The Action now begins ; the Poet reserving the catalogue of the Russians in order to combine it with their exploits, and so save the tedium of two dry lists of names. This is a vast improvement upon the Ancients. We owe it to our English Genius. Well :
“ But then the Russians they turn'd to,
All on the road to Moscow;
Morbleu ! Parbleu !
And so he got to Moscow!”. He is still conqueror, has met with some hard blows, but yet the fine weather continues : he swears again, and gets into Moscow. This is the Epitasis.
Now follows immediately, without the distraction of Episode, the Peripateia and Russian Catalogue; and we will venture to pronounce it as our opinion, that more terrible ridicule, more rapid and continuous accumulation of fearful vicissitudes, and altogether any thing more in Homer's best manner, or nearer Pindar's impetuous eagerness, or Shakspeare's fashion of overwhelming his victim, by repeated blows of mischance, towards the end of a play, as in Richard III., Othello, King John, &c., has never appeared in the English or any other language. But let the Song speak for itself :
“ They made the place too hot for him,
For they set fire to Moscow;
Morbleu ! Parblcu !
The Russians they stuck close to him,
All on the road to Moscow:
Rajefsky and Noverefsky,
And all the others that end in efsky ;
And all the others that end in eff;
And all the others that end in off;
And all the others that end in itch;
And all the others that end in offsky;
And Platoff he played them off,
And Rodinoff he flogged them off,
Morbleu ! Parbleu !
Upon this splendid passage we have a few remarks to make. The taking of Troy ended the Trojan war, and the taking of