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appears in great splendor, and promises him a vision of glory that shall compensate for all his sufferings. Hereupon be transports the captive from his dungeon, and places him on an eminence, from whence be shews him, in immense perspective, the Atlantic ocean and the western continent.
• O'er the wide hemisphere his glances fly,
sway, Crowd back the ocean and indent the day. p. 11. We could as soon discover the Terra Australis Incognita, as the meaning of the latter couplet : of the same ineffable character are the following lines in the context.
Bays stretch their arms and mountains lift the skies.” • In misty radiance loom a thousand isles." • The vales branch forth, high walk approaching groves,
And all the majesty of nature moves.” Hesper proceeds to deliver a geographical speech, which is one of the best among many bad ones in this volume. The images are well selected, and the expressions occasionally dignified, though on the wbole hideously tawdry and affected. We are not long discovering that in the genus Poeta Mr. Barlow is of the species Darwina. The following is a tolerably good dried specimen of the American variety. The subject is the river St. Lawrence 'contristed' by the frost.
• Indignant Frost to hold his empire plies
Obstruct his sluices, and impede his course.' p. 26. The dialogue and vision are continued in the second book of the poem. The aboriginal Americans, according to their tribes, appear before Columbus, while their characters and manners are described by Hesper. The conquest of Mexico is foreshewn; after which the origin of the Peruvian empire and superstition, from Manco, Capac and Oella, the pretended children of the sun, is minutely retraced. This being in itself the most romantic and 'interesting allusion in the poem, is managed in the author's least offensive manner; and those who can at all tolerate the bombast in other parts of the work, will almost forget it in
this. The following introduction of the young lovers is very pleasing.
· Led by his father's wars, in early prime
• By nature form'd for hardiest deeds of fame,
• Still unresolved he sought the lonely maid,
• For she, the first in all Hesperia, fed
Sudden his near approach the maid alarms ;
His distant empire and the fire of fame.' pp. 59, 60.
further) though there are many striking descriptions, the
Having finished this narrative in the third book, Hesper proceeds in the fourth to foretel the destruction of the De. ruvian hierarchy and state. Columbus being overwhelmed with grief at this intelligence, the genius renews the vision, and opens future ages to his view. From thence to the close of the eighth book, we have a rhyming chronicle of American revolutions to the present day. Through this multifarions and microscopic exhibition we shall neither follow the finger of Hesper nor the eye of Columbụs; and we suspect that few European readers will do more than turn over the leaves of this metrical gazette. Mere matters of fact are seldom, perhaps never, fit subjects for poetry;
in which truth itself, to be pleasing, must have the air of romance and the grace of fable. Hence these five books, the chief merit of which is their historical accuracy, diminish in interest precisely as they approximate to our own times ; yet in America a different feeling may be excited by the record of actions, and the repetition of names, in which many yét living have a personal, and more have an hereditary sympathy ;-such, perhaps, may be only less affected by Mr. Barlow's magnificent strains, than they would have been by a plain narration of the same circumstances in prose. Adam's antediluvian vision, in the eleventh book of Paradise Lost, seems to have been the prototype of the vision of Columbus; but Mr. Barlow has so bravely departed from his original, that the most censorious critic cannot charge him with the slightest resemblance to Milton. The latter, by dividing his prospective views of sixteen centuries into five distinct scenes, admirably concise in detail, but transcendently sublime in conception, has rendered the whole poetically probable; the reader, unconsciously taking it for granted that they might be thus surveyed in the course of a few hours. Mr. Barlow, on the other hand, presents in one series, or succession of incidents, the entire history of North America from its discovery to the peace of 1783, which impresses the mind with an idea, that Columbus must have been nearly as long in reviewing the events, as the events themselves were in occurring, especially as he seems to know every scene and every city, undiscovered or unbuilt, and recognizes every
body he sees, from Sir Walter Raleigh down to the drummers and fifers in Washington's army. In Milton's vision, the subjects are generalized, and few individuals are particularly distinguished : Joel Barlow's index contains nearly six hundred names of places and persons, with the far greater part of which Columbus was unacquainted before the appearance of Hesper; yet we are required to believe, that, in the course of a few hours,' either by intuition or inspiration, he learned sufficient concerning them all to be interested in the history of each. Nothing niore monstrous was ever attempted on the credulity of man since Mahomet's journey to paradise, which by the assistance of an angel equipt with three score and ten pair of wings was performed so expeditiously, that the prophet was transported in the night through all the heavens, each of which was five hundred years journey from that below it, and replaced in his bed before it had grown cool from his absence! It is true that a more weary length of wilderness in prose or rhyme we never tracked before ; and the reader, who sets out a young man on the pilgrimage of these five books, may well be as onished if he does not find himself grown grey at the end of his travels. The outrageous improbability of Mr. Barlow's plan, according to which Columbus foresees all events, in order, number, and proportion, as they afterwards befel, will appear yet more glaring when we remark further, that not only the progress of arms and adventures, but aiso of arts and sciences, is realized to the eye of the enraptured spectator, in this panorama of futurity. At the eighth book Hesper turns back the course of ages; and Columbus, after living two centuries and a half in the department of war and colonies, (to borrow a plırase from the secretary of state's office) is obliged to spend the same time over again in the pursuits of literature, Here, after anticipating all the philosophical discoveries of Franklin, Rittenhouse, Godfrey and others, he has the happiness to review the paintings of Mr. Benjamin West (two hundred and ninety nine of which are recapitulated in the notes) as well as those of Copley, Browne, Stuart, &c. &c. after which he is introduced to the company and works of the American poets, Trumbull, Dwight, and Humphries. One thing only is wanting to crown the climax ;– Columbus should have seen Mr. Barlow himself, in all the agony and transport of composing this poem, that he might have caught from the lips of the bard, 'warm-wild' as he sang it, the praise of America, for whose dear sake, according to his own magnanimous and patriotic acknowledgement,
we are to understand that he has committed all these absurdities in verse :
· Warm-wild I sing, and to her failings blind,
Mislead myself, perhaps mislead mankind.' Of this literary antepast, in the midst of a historical pageant, we cannot give a clearer idea than is conveyed in the author's own inimitable chiaro-scuro style:
• In visions bright supernal joys are given,
And all the dark futurities of heaven.' In the five books more immediately under consideration, we shall notice two or three passages. In the fourth book, (p. 123 ) Hesper tells Columbus that he himself was the cre. aior of the American heaven and earth, though on two former occasions he allows that these were the works of a God; what God we know not, for we cannot discover what reli. gion either Hesper or Mr. Barlow is of. We shall not pretend to reconcile the apparent inconsistencies in the following quotations : Hesper may mean himself when he talks of a God in the two latter quotations, as the poet has advanced him to that style and dignity in the tenth book, • the guardian God,' (p. 331.)
that leads the stellar host of even, That stretch'd o'er yon huge ridge the western heaven, That heal'd the wounded earth, when from her side The Moon burst forth and left the south-sea-tide ; This arm prepared their * future seats of state, Design'd their limits, and prescribed their date.' p. 122. • While Nature's grandeur lifts the eye
For here great Nature, with a bolder hand,
The last ascending steps of her creating God.' p. 17. The closing thought, alluding to the stupendous elevation of the mountains of the new world, is so sublime, that for the sake of it we will freely forgive the author the worst five hundred lines in his work.
The moonlight view of Delaware, and the procession of river gods, are well imagined; but, as usual, unfortunately, and sometimes incomprehensibly executed: 6. 8.
• O'er greenwood glens a browner lustre flies,
And bright-hair’d hills walk shadowy round the skies.'p. 132. * Alluding to the present people of the United States of America, or, as the poet elsewhere calls them, the sapient race' !