Page images

the travellers. Here they halted, for their roads were widely different. When they came to part, the merchant and his wife were loud in thanks and benedictions, and the good burgher would fain have given Pelayo the largest of his sacks of gold; but the young man put it aside with a smile. “Silver and gold,' said he, ‘ need I not, but if I have deserved aught at thy hands, give me thy prayers, for the prayers

of a good man are above all price.' In the mean time, the daughter had spoken never a word. At length she raised her eyes, which were filled with tears, and looked timidly at Pelayo, and her bosom throbbed ; and after a violent struggle between strong affection and virgin modesty, her heart relieved itself by words.

• Senor,' said she,' I know that I am unworthy of the notice of so noble a cavalier ; but suffer me to place this ring upon a finger of that hand which has so bravely rescued us from death ; and when you regard it, you may consider it as a memorial of your own valor, and not of one who is too humble to be remembered by you.'

With these words, she drew a ring from her finger, and put it upon the finger of Pelayo; and having done this, she blushed and trembled at her own boldness, and stood as one abashed, with her eyes cast down upon the earth.

Pelayo was moved at the words of the simple maiden, and at the touch of her fair hand, and at her beauty, as she stood thus trembling and in tears before him: but as yet he knew nothing of woman, and his heart was free from the snares of love. · Amiga,' (friend,) said he, ' I accept thy present, and will wear it in remembrance of thy goodness :' so saying, he kissed her on the cheek.

The damsel was cheered by these words, and hoped that she had awakened some tenderness in his bosom; but it was no such thing, says the

grave old chronicler, for his heart was devoted to higher and more sacred matters : yet certain it is, that he always guarded well that ring.

When they parted, Pelayo remained with his huntsmen on a cliff, watching that no evil befel them until they were far beyond the skirts of the mountain; and the damsel often turned to look at him, until she could no longer discern him, for the distance, and the tears that dimmed her eyes.

And, for that he had accepted her ring, says the ancient chronicler, sbe considered herself wedded to him in her heart, and would never marry; nor could she be brought to look with eyes of affection upon any other man ; but, for the true love which she bore Pelayo, she lived and died a virgin. And she composed a book which treated of love and chivalry, and the temptations of this mortal life ; and one part discoursed of celestial matters, and it was called . The Contemplations of Love;' because, at the time she wrote it, she thought of Pelayo, and of his having accepted her jewel, and called her by the gentle appellation of Amiga.' And often thinking of him in tender sadness, and of her never having beheld him more, she would take the book, and would read it as if in his stead; and while she repeated the words of love which it contained, she would endeavor to fancy them uttered by Pelayo, and that he stood before her.

[blocks in formation]

The purely chaste, are those who're chaste in thought;

An angel's purity within them lives :
Their unstained souls with Heaven's own fire are fraught,

Which its great glory to their being gives.
The unsunned snow upon the eternal hills,

The crystal ice, in regions where no ray of warmth the frozen air one moment fills,

To thaw its everlasting front away, May not example peerless CHASTITY :

For they, removed from their peculiar sphere,
Lost in a moment to themselves would be ;

But the chaste soul Temptation's self may dare,
And win itself from man a glorious crown,
On which the gods approvingly look down.


Mirth, pleasure, innocence, delight and joy,

Encompass children of a tender age; Grief, sorrow, agony.

sin's dark alloy, Stamp no impression on that sunny page : The untainted spring of life's mysterious river

Here owns its clear, its crystal fountain-head; Pure as it flowed from the all-pure All-Giver,

Its light unclouded radiantly is shed. We gaze on children sporting in their glee,

And pause to watch them as they gaily move, And wonder what the infant charm can be,

That binds them to us in the bonds of love: Ah! know we not that it is heaven we see? That heaven itself exists in purity ?

CHUR CH-YARD. I WANDER in the city of the dead,

Midst streets of corses, mouldering to decay! Where is the pride of riches ? - it is fied!

Where pomp and circumstance? - all passed away! The loved and lovely lie together sleeping,

The high and lowly in one dust are laid; A solitary mourner here is weeping

O'er the last tenant Nature's debt has paid; Soon Time, Grief's great assuager, will dry up

The flowing tears, leaving the dead unwept.
Drink, then, proud mortal! from the better cup

Of wholesome truth. Wake up! - too long thou 'st slept.
High as thou art, lowly in death thou 'lt lie;
The CHURCH-YARD calls to thee, 'Prepare to die!'


Paint hell in horrors: picture liquid fire,

In which the quivering spirit ever lives Where the fallen angels, now fell demon's, ire,

The eternal lash to the racked sufferer gives. Crown him with scorpions, let each piercing fang,

Stab him continuous, and let heaven's bright bliss Live in his sight, to add a keener pang

To his dread suffering — picture thou all this ! 'Tis not more dreadful than the awful voice

Of CONSCIENCE torturing the sinful soul, 'Till madness is a blessing. Oh, rejoice,

Thou whose pure life gives Conscience no control. In good men's hearts Conscience as love doth dwell ; It is the evil-doer's burning hell!



HENRY OF GUISE, OR THE STATES OF Blois. By G. P. R. JAMES, Esq., Author of

"Richelieu, etc. In two volumes, 12mo. pp. 468. New-York: HARPER AND BROTHERS.

These volumes, by one of the most popular novelists of the day, have doubtless ere this been perused and admired by the great mass of our readers. We have always been favorably impressed with the good moral tendency of all of Mr. James' tales, as well as the easy style in which they are clothed, and the deep interest which they excite. Though not peculiarly happy in portraying nice shades of character, he is always suceessful in marking out a bold outline, and preserving its consistency and keeping throughout. He is, in our judgment, particularly forcible and impressive in developing and describing the more universal feelings of our nature; the ordinary currents of human thought; those impulses and affections, in short, which are common to all mankind. He frequently begins his chapters with abstract reflections, illustrated by the most happy comparisons, which possess the merit of being apposite, and consonant with the case in hand, while they exhibit the point and apothegm of La Bruyére, and the simplicity and truthfulness of Addison. To illustrate this remark, we quote the following passage :

“The prudent plans and purposes of the most prudent and politic people in this world are almost all contingent; contingent, in the first place, upon circumstances, the great rulers of all earthly things, and, in the second place, not less than the first, upon the characters, thoughts, and feelings of the very persons who frame them. Many a one may be tempted to tell us that it must be a prudent man to form prudent resolutions, and that such a prudent man will keep them; but now the reverse of this commonplace reasoning is directly the case, and the most prudent determinations are but too often taken by the most imprudent people, and violated without the slightest ceremony or contrition. This is, indecd, almost universally the case; for really prudent people have no need to make resolutions at all, and those who make them have almost always some intimation in their own mind that there is a likelihood of their being broken."

“The rock which it meets with in its course turns the impetuous river from the way it was pursuing, even when it comes down in all the fury of the mountain torrent. The slight slope of a green hill, the rise of a grassy bank at an after-period, bends the calm stream hither and thither through the plains, offering the most beautiful image of the effect of circumstances on the course of human life. Some streams also become colored by the earth they pass over, or mingle readily with the waters that flow into theirs. But there are a few — and they are always the mightiest and most profound which retain their original hue and character, receive the tribute of other streams, pass over rocks and mountains, and through the midst of deep lakes, without the Rhone losing its glossy blue in the bosom of Lake Leman, or the Rhine mingling its clear stream with the waters of Constance or the current of the Maine.

“The firm and powerful mind may be affected in its operations by circumstances, but not in its nature, and the depths of original character remain unchanged from the beginning to the end of life. Even strong feelings in such hearts, like objects cast upon a grand and rapid river, are borne along with the current through all scenes and circumstances, till with the waters themselves they plunge into the ocean of eternity."

The story of Henry of Guise is laid in the sixteenth century, during the reign of Henry III. of France, and the Wars of the League. The leading events are historically true.

It would occupy too much of the space allotted to this department of the KNICKERBOCKER, to give a full analysis of the story; and we must confine ourselves to a few general remarks. Charles of Montsoreau, the hero, at least of the love, if not of the action of the tale, is a pleasant specimen of humanity in the abstract, and meets with many sad mishaps, and performs many noble deeds, that make us wonder why virtue in this world finds so much trouble in obtaining its reward; but like most of James' personages, he lacks that strong Sbakspearian individuality of character, which is essential in exciting deep personal interest. The Abbé de Boisguerin, the Marplot of the story, is a good specimen of an abstract villain, and so is Villequier ; but they are cast in the same mould; they act and think alike; and it is their different position, only, that makes any difference in their respective characters. Not so with Shukspeare's or Scott's villains. lago and Varney are each thorough paced rascals, yet so peculiar, that they stand out by themselves, as it were; natural, yet unique; consistent, yet defying all competition. There is an easy flow, however, in Mr. James' novels, which bears us on, perhaps more pleasantly than a wilder current. His descriptions of scenery are vivid; his detail of events is striking; and his plot is well digested and well developed. We always arise from the perusal of his works not only amused, but improved; not merely entertained, but instructed.

The Poet's TRIBUTE. POEMS OF William B. TAPPAN. In one volume. pp. 322.

Boston: D. S. King, and CROCKER AND BREWSTER. New-York : GEORGE W. Light, Fulton-street.

MR. Tappan has been long before the public as a 'fugitive' poet, and many of his brief occasional pieces have won deservedly high commendation. He has always manifested the strictest regard to the moral and religious tendency of his verse; devoting his talents, in almost every effort of his pen, to the inculcation of good lessons. Oftentimes, his versification is melodious, and altogether felicitous; yet we are constrained to say, he seems occasionally to have written, not so much from impulse, as habit. Crudeness and unripe thoughts must needs sometimes follow. The volume under notice opens with The Good Wine,' which deserves the place of honor it occupies. It was originally written, as well as several other poems in the present collection, for the KNICKERBOCKER. For this reason, it is not necessary that we should call special attention to Mr. Tappan's merits as a poet. Conceding, therefore, that he has not gained repute without adequate desert, we must nevertheless caution him against the very common fault of writing too much. He now and then forces a sentiment, and pumps up a feeling, simply because the gods have made him poetical, and not because he feels the divine afflatus. With none but the kindest feelings toward Mr. TAPPAN, we must be permitted to cite a few examples of the composition from which we draw this conclusion. Take, as an instance, the beginning of the second poem, "The Choir :'

I went to chapel, some feu Sundays since,
In Chatham-street, New-York ! "T was early yet,
So I surveyed awhile the edifice,
Admiring at the growth of piety!'

We cannot 'admire ať such prosaic lines as these, however cordially we may commend others, from the same source. They remind us too forcibly of WORDSWORTH'S satirist, in the 'Old Cumberland Pedlar' of 'Warreniana:'

Come, Timms, and you too, Stokes,
Come, sit you down upon this bank of fresh
And bilious butler-cups ; 't is scarcely seven,
And I shall not drink tea till half past eight,
Or peradventure nine!'



Something of this familiar style may be seen in the annexed sentence from 'The Child of the Tomb;'

. Meanwhile, the recreant teacher, where was he?
Gune in effrontery to take his tea
With the boy's mother !

The same imitation of WORDSWORTH's minute simplicity, merely, may be seen in the opening of 'The Silent Street :'

*In Boston is a street, about a rod
From her famed Common,' etc.

And again in 'Mortality and Immortality,'Mr. Tappan tells us :

[merged small][ocr errors]

We have cited these instances, to show that Mr. TAPPAN owes it to his fair fame, as a poet, to write less hastily, and always to give to good thoughts the best of words. Does he not see how a single prosaic line, like those we have instanced, would have affected such a beautiful poem as the one upon the twenty thousand children of our Sabbath schools, celebrating the Fourth of July at Staten Island, and commencing:

Oh, sight sublime! oh, sight of fear!

T'he shadowing of infinity
Numbers! whose murinur rises here,

Like whisperings of the mighty sea!
Ye bring strange vision to my gaze;

Earth's dreamer, heaven before me swims ;
The sea of glass, the throne of days,

Crowns, harps, and the melodious hymns!'

Many other examples might be given of Mr. Tappan's ability to write admirable poetry, when he composes deliberately, and revises carefully. We commend 'The Poet's Tribute to the reader, as a work well calculated to awaken and stimulate the better emotions of the heart. We should not omit to add, that the volume is handsomely printed and bound, and embellished with a likeness, in mezzo-tint, of the author, and a tasteful vignette landscape. It would form an appropriate 'tribute to a friend, in this season of presents and tokens of affection.

LETTERS FROM THE OLD WORLD. By A LADY OF New-YORK. In two volumes, 12mo.

pp. 643. New-York: HARPER AND BROTHERS.

These letters from Egypt, Syria, Asia Minor, Palestine, Turkey and Greece, following in the wake of STEPHENS’ delightful 'Incidents of Travel' in the same regions, come before the public subject, it must be confessed, to a trying comparison. But they will sustain it to the general content. They appear to have been written by an industrious and careful observer; one who seizes upon, and records faithfully, pretty much all that occurs, or is seen, during an interesting tour. Although there is not always apparent a due discrimination between salient points and tame platitude; striking incidents and minute detail ; or between peculiar characteristics and common attributes; there is yet, undeniably, much entertainment in the work. Indeed, its faults are comparatively few, and such, moreover, as are common to most writers of travels. We need not commend the volumes to our readers; since the fair and accomplished authoress has been sending out literary letters of credit, for several months, through the columns of the 'New-York American' daily journal.

« PreviousContinue »