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mentioned. The author lays the scene at one time in Greece, and at another in Sicily; and with a strange and whimsical forgetfulness describes the king's capital as being at one moment in the Morea, and in the next, without the least warning, we find it placed in the island ; thus he transports us from one to the other, with the most ludicrous gravity and unconcern. The confusion occasioned by this ubiquity of his dramatis personæ, may be easily conceived. Ariamnes is indifferently designated by that name, and by the name of Aminander, and we learn towards the conclusion of the poem, rather abruptly, and with some surprize, for the first time, that the king of the Morea is called Cleander. We shall content ourselves with these specimens, without pointing out other inaccuracies and instances of pedantry which are to be found in the work ; but, with all its defects, we should be sorry to see it continue in unmerited neglect; for we think that, under the superintendance of a judicious editor, it might be reprinted with advantage, and would add one more to the many enjoyments of the lover of the most delightful of all arts.
Danielis Heinsii Poemata. Ex Officina Joannis
Janssonii. 1649. 24mo. pp. 666.
· The age of modern Latin poetry, as of prose, is now past. There was a time when the languages of modern Europe were little more than the languages of conversation, and when their yet unformed and unrefined state rendered them but ill adapted to the enunciation of abstract truths, the embodying of the suggestions of imagination, or the preservation of historical facts. It was natural in such a state of things, that all which deserved the name of polite literature should be written in the only language, then understood, which was capable of transmitting it: the language of religion, the language of the last eminent literary nation, and the language, more or less, of those former inhabitants of the European countries, from whom the barbarian invaders received their civilization. In the course of ages, however, from a variety of causes, these noble dialects gradually developed their native powers, and finally became to their respective nations what the Greek and Latin had been to the people of antiquity—the medium of intercourse between cultivated minds, the vehicles of controversy, the records of past and present events, the propagators of opinion, and the moulds in which the visible forms of imagination were cast. In proportion as this great change unfolded itself, the use and importance of the Latin, as a written tongue, of course declined.
It was not to be supposed, however, that this revolution could take place immediately or simultaneously. The use of the native dialects could only be established gradually; and some of them would remain in their uncultivated state longer than others. The epoch, moreover, of this revolution (än epoch more fruitful than any other in great events) was also that in which the talents of mankind, from causes on which it is needless to speculate, began to develope themselves more freely and favourably than during many preceding centuries; and among others, the faculty of poetry. That modern Latin poetry should partake, in a minor degree, of the genial influence which had descended upon all the branches of science and literature, was but natural. Italy accordingly leading the way, the nations of Europe swarmed with a generation of Latin poets, as numerous, perhaps, as those of the ages of Augustus and Trajan. Cardinals and reformers, statesmen and scholars, disported themselves in heroics, elegiacs, sapphics, iambics, and hendecasyllabics; the doctrines of natural philosophy were embodied in didactic poems, theological triumphs were celebrated in verse, the historical facts of Scripture formed the ground-work of epics and tragedies, the animosities of hostile critics vented themselves in satire, and the births and marriages of princes, and the great events of the age, regularly called forth a tribute of classical dolour or exultation. The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries may be esteemed the great age of modern Latin poetry. Its cultivation, through causes which will easily suggest themselves to the reader, has declined; and while England and France, Holland, Italy, and Scandinavia, send forth poets, historians, philosophers, and theologians, in their native languages, Latin prose has become, in a great measure, confined to the commentaries and treatises of classical scholars, and Latin verse to prize poems and school exercises.
We do not intend here to speculate either upon the causes or the consequences of this decadence. That Latin composition will cease to be cultivated in the modern nations of Europe, we do not apprehend; circumstances appear to render it impossible; and certainly it would not be desirable. But we have no time to dwell on the various topics which the subject suggests to us.
Daniel Heinsius, best known as a critic, was, in his own time, of no small repute as a Latin poet. He was acquainted with many, or most, of the great scholars of his time; and the small closely printed volume, containing his poems, has, at the end, by way of colophon, a gay pendant of laudatory verses by the Grotiuses, Dousas, and Scaligers, of that age. He imitated almost all the Latin poets in turn, and seems more formed for a kind of free imitation than for original composition. His ex
cellence consists in a small, but visible, portion of talent, which pervades his verses, and gives to their best parts a pleasing and equable, though never a surpassing beauty. Like some others, he seems every now and then, to be for a moment on the verge of excellence, but disappoints the reader by forthwith sinking. There is a sprinkling of individual feeling in some of his pieces, which makes them not uninteresting.
His largest work is a didactic poem, in four books, “ De Contemptu Mortis.” The subject was a noble one, and it has in some degree elevated the writer. A solemnity pervades his expositions of the Platonic and the Christian tenets, concerning death and the soul, which operates as a charm to those who are sensible to the grandeur of the subject.
The following lines, on the exalted nature of the soul, may be quoted as a fair specimen.
“ Ergo, non stellarum orbes, non lucidus æther,
· Et quos ambitio mendax suspirat honores.” p. 264.
The first lines of the following passage remind us strongly of a description of Young :
“ Night, sable goddess ! from her ebon throne,
“ Nonne vides, quoties nox circumfunditur atra
Cum rerum obduxit species obnubilus aër,
The same book (the first) contains a happy imitation of Virgil's “ Primus ego,” &c.
“ Hoc opus, illustres animæ, dum corpore clause
Primus ego, magna ingrediens sacraria vates,
Atque heic depictæ facies in limine primo
The following description of Paradise is from Book IV.
“ Illic sub tremulis argutæ frondibus auræ
Et sponte ex ipso manabant aëre mella.” p. 325. The work concludes with an address to Christ, which we will extract.