Page images

«ice" and "the abyme of misery," but these are trifles which our duty compels us to notice, more than our inclination.

The Lyricks of Horace; comprising his Odes, Epodes, and Secular Ode; in English Verse: with the Latin Text revised and subjoined. 2 Vols. Bvo. 15s. White. 1803. "The intention of the present work," says the author, "is to give such a translation of the odes of Horace, as may preclude the necessity of notes: putting the Latin and the English reader, as it were, upon the same footing." If there had been any chance of success, this attempt would have been commendable: but he might as well have endeavoured imponere Pelio Ossam; and something still more gigantic, than to hope " to give one ode in each of the nineteen different metres of Horace, in blank verse of the same measure with the Latin," with any other effect than that of absurdity. Some of the odes of the Venusian bard defy all translation, their every thing consisting in a felicity of expression, altogether inimitable; but if some are proof against being turned in any verse, every ode is sure to reflect discredit on the poet who essays to dress k in an English garb, fashioned according to a Latin measure.

The translator is, however, not without desert; and if he lends a better ear to his rhymes, may be more successful in other works.

A Friendly Address to the Volunteers of Great Britain. 6d. Bi.vingtons. 1803. This pamphlet, being well-timed, well-written, and wellmeant, we sincerely hope that it will be well received, well read, and well applied. . •«.

Barbara Markham, or the Profligate requited. A Novel. 2 Vols, 8vo. 7s. Vernor and Hood. 1803.

In the great point of morality, this novel is without blame, and on the score of interest and amusement it is, according to the nature of the story, rarely equalled.

Terrible Tractoraiion!! a poetical Epistle against Galvanizing Trumpery, and the Perkinistic Institution. In four Cantos. By Christopher Caustic, M. D. L.L. D. A. S.S. Bvo. 4s. 6d. Hurst. 1803.

There appears nothing truly "terrible" in this publication, except the severe attack made on the purchaser's pocket, for such a mass of "trumpery.1' Though we may question Christopher Caustic's title to his fim two degrees, we can never doiibt hit right to the third. '" "^

The History of Ilium, or Troy; including the adjacent Country, and the opposite Coast of the Chersonesus of Thrace. By the Author of" Travels in Asia Minor and Greece." Ato. 10*. 6d. Robson. 1802.

We have more time than space, and it suits better with the nature of our studies than with the nature of our work, to enter into the dispute which, moved by Mr. Bryant respecting the existence of Troy, is still in agitation. Fuit Ilium. Dr. Chandler is of the same opinion, and ably meets all the principal objections of Mr. Bryant, and, stepping beyond the line prescribed by his title, ha* given to the public a book full of interest, learning, and research. The Poet's Day, or Imagination's Rambles, a Poem, in Jour Rooks, with smaller Poems. 12mo. Watts and Bridgezcater. 1803. The poet's day is divided into morning, noon, evening, and night; and a morning, noon, evening, and night, will be well spent in reading it, and deeply considering the important matter it cantains.

Christmas Holidays. By Henry Whitfield, M. A. Fellon qf King's College, Cambridge. 6d. Highley. 1803. These lines are the production of an ingenious, elegant, and classical mind; and a short extract from them will be sufficient to prove that they are

—————Fumoso non aspernanda Dixmrrt Carmina. Mart. Lib. v. After describing, in very chaste and pleasing verse, the holidayreturn of the school-boy to his dulce domum, the meeting of his mother and sisters, and the rapturous, cordial welcome which he receives, Mr. Whitfield thus naturally introduces an old play-mate of our young friend.

"His very steps arc known—his fav'rite dog, Sleek-coated Sancho, sprung from lineage pure, Sues for admittance at the parlour door, Importunate, and yelps his noisy joy i Climbs on his master,-fondly licks the hand Which tempers chastisement and choice rewards i Then cries aloud, and frisks in wanton mood!" P. 3. The praise that we have to bestow on this poem, seldom falls to the lot of poets—we regret that it is not longer.

The school-boy's recal is wanting to complete the subject, when . ', 'tristit nucibus puer relictis Clamoso revocatur a magistro;

Mart. Lib. v. and we should he glad to receive it from the pen of Mr. Whitfield

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

[Continued from page 336.]


After a tragic poet has arranged his subject, and chosen his personages, the next thing he must attend to, is the propriety of sentiments; that they be perfectly suited to the characters of those persons to whom they are attributed, and to the situations in which they are placed. The necessity of observing this general rule is so obvious, that I need not insist upon it. It is principally in the pathetic parts, that both the difficulty and the importance of it are the greatest. Tragedy is the region of passion. We come to it, expecting to be moved j and let the poet be ever so judicious in his conduct, moral in- his intentions, and elegant in his style, yet if he fails in the pathetic, he has no tragic merit, we return cold and disappointed from the performance, and never desire to meet with it more.

To paint passion so truly and justly as to strike the hearts of the hearers with full sympathy, is a prerogative of genius given to few. It requires strong and ardent sensibility of mind. It requires the author to have the power of entering deeply into the characters which he draws; of becoming for a moment the very person whom he exhibits, and of assuming all his feelings. For, as I have often had occasion to observe, there is no possibility of speaking properly the language of any passion, without feeling it; and it is to the absence or deadness of real emotion, that we must ascribe the want of success in so many tragic writers, when they attempt being pa. thetic.

No man, for instance, when he is under the strong agitations of anger, or grief, or any such violent passion, ever thinks of describing to another what his feelings at that time are; or of telling them what h« resembles. This never was, and never will be, the language

3 E—voL. XVI.

of any person when he is deeply moved. It is the language of one who describes coolly the condition of that person to another; or it is the language of the passionate person himself, after his emotion had subsided, relating what his situation was, in the moments of passion. Yet this sort of secondary description is what tragic poets too often give us, instead of the native and primary language of passion. Thus, in Mr. Addison's Cato, when Lucia confesses to Portius her love for him, but, at the same time, swears, with the greatest solemnity, that, in the present situation of their country, she will never marry him; Portius receives this unexpected sentence with the utmost astonishment and grief; at least the poet wants to make us believe that he so received it. How does he express these feelings?

Fix'd in astonishment, I gaze upon thee, like one just blasted by a stroke from Heav'n, Who pants for breath, and stiffens yet alive In dreadful looks; a monument of wrath. This makes his whole reply to Lucia. Now did any person, who was of a sudden astonished and overwhelmed with sorrow, ever, since the creation of the world, express himself in this manner? This is indeed an excellent description to be given us by another, of a person who was in such a situation. Nothing would hare been more proper for a by-stander, recounting this conference, than to have said,

Fix'd in astonishment, he gaz'd upon her, Like one just blasted by a stroke from Heav'n, Who pants for breath, &c. But the person, who is himself concerned, speaks, on such an occasion, in a very different manner. He gives vent to his feelings; he pleads for pity; he dwells upon the cause of his grief and astonishment; but never thinks of describing his own person and looks, and showing us, by a simile, what he resembles. Such representations of passions are no better in poetry, than it would be in painting, to make a label issue from the mouth of a figure, bidding us remark, that this figure represents an astonished, or a grieved person.

On some other occasions, when poets do not employ this sort of descriptive language in passion, they are too apt to run into forced and unnatural thoughts, in'order to exaggerate the feelings of persons, whom they would paint as very strongly moved. When Osmyn, in the Mourning Bride, after parting with Almeria, regrets

in a long soliloquy, that his eyes only see objects that are present, and cannot see Almeria after she is gone; when Jane Shore, in Mr. Rowe's tragedy, on meeting with her husband in her extreme distress, and finding that he had forgiven her, calls on the rains to give her their drops, and the springs to give her their streams, that she may never want a supply of tears; in such passages, we see, very plainly, that it is neither Osmyn, nor Jane Shore, that speak; but the poet himself in his own person, who, instead of assuming the feelings of those whom he means to exhibit, and speaking as they would have done in such situations, is straining his fancy, and spurring up his genius to say something that shall be uncommonly strong and lively.

If we attend to the language that is spoken by persons under the influence of real passion, we shall find it always plain and simple; abounding indeed with those figures which express a disturbed and impetuous state of mind, such as interrogations, exclamations, and apostrophes; but never employing those which belong to the mere embellishment and parade of speech. We never meet with any subtilty or refinement, in the sentiments of real passion. The thoughts which passion suggests, are always plain and obvious ones, arising directly from its object. Passion never reasons, nor speculates, till its ardour begins to cool. It never leads to long discourse or declamation. On the contrary, it expresses itself most commonly in short, broken, and interrupted speeches; corresponding to the violent and desultory emotions of the mind.

When we examine the French tragedians by these principles, which seem clearly founded in nature, we find them often deficient, though, in many parts of tragic composition, they have great merit; though, in exciting soft and tender emotions, some of them are very successful; yet, in the high and strong pathetic, they generally fail. Their passionate speeches too often run into long declamation. There is too much reasoning and refinement; too much pomp and studied beauty in them. They rather convey a feeble impression of passion, than awaken any strong sympathy in the reader's mind.

Sophocles and Euripides are much more successful in this part of composition. In their pathetic scenes, we find no unnatural refinement! no exaggerated thoughts. They set before us the plain and direct feelings of nature, in simple expressive language; and therefore, on great occasions, 'they seldom fail of touching the

« PreviousContinue »