Abbildungen der Seite


and far less was he permitted to regard the ap- stones, as the walls and gates we have beplause of his tellow-creatures, or his own self- fore mentioned in connexion with the Peinterest, as the measure of his actions, or the

lasgi. Upper Italy, too, felt the benefit of ruling principle of his understanding. The will of the gods was, from early education,

their knowledge of science. They sent every thing to the Lucumo, and ever present a colony into the plain of the Po. to his imagination. He consulted that will by constructed a scheme of draining and irrisacrifice, when he first took his seat in the sen- gation for the superabundant waters of that ate, and when he delivered his opinion there ; river. They drained the Delta of the same when he married, when he put out to sea, stream, and made a magnificent harbor. when he went forth to battle, when he sowed Thus they civilized Italy, to whose prosand when he reaped, when he planted and when he gathered in, when he increased his perity these arts were essential.

Every enestate and when he diminished it. He sacri- lightened ruler, every Italian reformer, has ficed when he desired to atone for his offences, considered the drainage of its poisonous or to satiate his vengeance; to endure man- marshes the first step to improvement. But fully loss and disappointments, or to triumph there seems a moral miasma impending over his foes. He sacrificed and took auspices over that devoted land, which unstrings the as a bounden duty, to moderate his exultation in prosperity, to alleviate his sufferings in ad-nerves and sinews of her national life, and versity, to guide his active career, and to cheer almost forbids the hope of even partial his dissolution.”—P. 266.

amendment, without a moral and spiritual

regeneration of her people. The depositories of the religion of the Mrs. Gray has executed her task with Etruscans were also, as we have hinted, the good taste. She has given us a thread of depositories of their science, and the arts ingenious theory to guide us through the of life; and they were the princes of the mazes of conflicting traditions. Subject to people. This explains the origin of the the modifications we have suggested, it is vast architectural remains to which we have perhaps as well founded as can be hoped before alluded. The influence thus exer- for. Her work is instructive and well cised over the people by their governors, worth an attentive perusal : though it is ofwho were spiritual and temporal rulers, ten dry in the necessary details, yet there may explain, without calling in the labor of is frequently an analogy traced, or some conquered or tributary nations, the con- kindred subject illustrated, which relieves struction of those great works, which mark the discussion. To judge of Mrs. Gray's the footsteps of the Eastern races. The merits as an interesting writer, one must walls of Babylon, the Pyramids of Egypt, wade through the mass of facts, and study the Cyclopean walls of Greece and Italy, the dry skeleton of results which the other and even the Druidical temples of England, historians of the early inhabitants of Italy are all types of the same national character, have laid before their readers. evidences of the same religious and politi- One or two points, however, in the excal system which prevailed in Etruria. ecution of the work seem to require obThe people were kept in intellectual and servation. There is a disposition to accept moral, as well as physical subjection ; the as facts, events supported by little evidence, government held over them the terrors of and occasionally to use the results of a bold the future, as well as the punishments of hypothesis, as stepping stones for farther the present world.

theories, which is, perhaps, natural to such Mrs. Gray dwells with praise upon the investigations. In our perusal, we have public works of the Etruscans,-made on sometimes hardly felt ourselves so secure,

great scale, in a truly public spirit, for as our guide seemed to be, that we were the poor as well as the rich. They were upon firm ground. Mrs. Gray places too particularly skilled in hydraulics. It was much reliance on the philological metemppart of their old Egyptian learning. The sychosis, so fashionable among antiquamarshes adjoining the sea, now desolated ries; and she is very expert at transforming by malaria, and the haunt only of the buf- names, pronouncing these consonants to be falo or the vulture, were then drained and radical, those to be superfluous, and vowcultivated. They covered the plain of the els unnecessary. The blunders into which Campagna with fertility; the Cloaca Max- this had led some antiquaries, should be a ima al Rome, and the Emissario of Albano, warning to our authoress. She seems, for were the work of Etruscan ngineers. disciple of Niebuhr, to place too much They are both constructed on the same confidence in the ordinary chronology of large scale, and with the same gigantic those times. Nothing, in all this subject, is more uncertain than the dates of events ;) judge by the specimens found at Pompeii, there is not one that can be fixed with cer- and are now far more generally used than tainty in profane history, beyond the ninth any other. The taste which is now discentury before our era.

carding all other forms but those fashioned We shall have much pleasure in seeing upon a Gothic model, and sets a value upthe conclusion of this work, the second part on them for their supposed antiquity, is inof which carries the history down to the ex- troducing an innovation of yesterday, compulsion of the Tarquins. But the last topic pared with the patterns it supplants, which, on which it is intended to dwell—the do- invented in Etruria, have survived to us mestic manners and customs of the Etrus- amid the varieties and changes of three cans—is one of delicacy and difficulty. Its thousand years. details are far from being matter of unmixed satisfaction. The civilization of Etruria, like that of Greece and Rome, was the civilization of a heathen people. In those countries, progress of mind and refinement

TENNYSON'S POEMS. of intellect seem to have been applied to

From the British Quarterly Review. the taking from vice its proper features. Nay, the popular mind, at the period of

Poems. By Alfred Tennyson. 2 vols. most advanced civilization, deified vices. Perhaps an admixture of caprice, and In Etruria, too, luxury and corruption profound obscurity, and wilful singularity, doubtless produced their inevitable results. has, in the instance of Tennyson, even addThough the unbridled license and unblush- ed something to the reputation of a poet, ing wickedness with which the Etruscans of whom every candid reader must admit have been charged by some ancient writers that he has written some of the most charmis, no doubt, grossly exaggerated, yet there ing verses these later times have produced. are points upon which the admirers of this It is good policy in an author, at least it is people have allowed themselves to dwell a fortunate circumstance for his immediate with praise, which disclose ground for these popularity, if, in companionship with sterattacks. Babylonian customs were kept up. ling merits that may challenge the applause A Roman matron would have shrunk from of severest judges, he can exhibit certain the exhibition which we have ourselves ob- startling eccentricities that will attract the served on the walls of the tombs at Corneto, gaze and wonder of the crowd, and invest of ladies sharing public banquets, clothed in him, amongst superficial readers, with an garments, the texture of which, when the air of undoubted originality. He thus bribes luxury of the East had enslaved and cor- the wise, and wins the foolish. rupted the old Roman virtue, called forth plause of the judicious cannot, indeed, be the indignant remonstrances of the epicu- long dispensed with; but the judicious are rean Horace, no less than the coarser" lash not the people who make much clamor in of the stern Juvenal.

the world, and he whose object is renown, Other points in relation to the Etruscan must, some way or other, gather the crowd manners, and particularly the mode in about his heels. which some of their customs and habits There is no speedier way of doing this, have been handed down to us, are very in- than by affecting singularities which attract teresting. Their works of art have been a and amaze the ignorant. Besides which, model for all succeeding ages. Genuine there are many, by no means belonging to lovers of beauty, they studied the graces of the ignorant class of mankind, who eagerly form rather than of color; and for exquisite attach themselves to an author, in the adoutline, their vases and cups have never miration of whom they also can be a little been surpassed. There is a strange per- bold and singular—who are pleased to be manency about these things. The same presented with certain eccentricities which shape which owes its existence to the inge- they can either generously pardon or cournuity of some Etruscan potter, is now the ageously adopt. There are those who, in universal model for English ware; and literature as in life, choose, not the book from this commercial centre of the world, or the friend whom they can thoroughly is sent to the remotest part. The patterns esteem, but rather some pet author, or pet and borders which adorn the painted sepul- companion, whom they are resolved, right chres of this people, seem to have been of or wrong, through good and ill repute, to universal use among the Romans, if we side with and to admire. They are deter

The ap

mined to show their free will in the distri- rious workmanship; and therefore, having bution of their praise ; nor are they ever bestowed the most felicitous toil on one so well pleased with their favorite genius, part of his canvas, he will strike the pencil as when, throwing themselves manfully in carelessly over another, to prove that he is the breach, they desend, explain, applaud no weaker, no fonder than ourselves. At all the affectations of which he is accused. first, indeed, this off-hand, impromptu manThese are they who, in our republic of let- ner of writing, as if the poet yielded to the ters, form those coteries who exert often so sudden, capricious, uncontrolled impulses mysterious an influence in its affairs, and of genius, would seem to denote a very difraise to so sudden an elevation the poet of ferent temper of mind, a bold reliance on the day. Advocates even of his weaknesses, his own powers, and on the favor of his authey, at all events, must be supposed dience. But, no; like the abrupt and startpre-eminently to appreciate his indisputable ling manner of a bashful man, this audacity excellences. It will, at least, they think, of the modern poet does but hide his timidbe conceded, that to them above all others ity, is but a struggle against the painful must be known where his strength really feeling, that he, perhaps, is out of place, lies. A concession, which will not, per- and in the presence of a society which gives haps, be universally granted. To us these but cold, ambiguous welcome, and which admirers appear to imagine that all their is more disposed to scoff than to admire. herves must resemble the miraculous cham- That the poet, of all men the most sensipion of the Israelites, and that their strength tive, should be occasionally depressed by must lie, not in bones and sinews, but in this sentiment of timidity, that he should, that loose, disordered hair which is hang- from time to time (as we gather even from ing uncombed about their shoulders. the poems and prefaces of Wordsworth),

We have no idea of attributing to Mr. have to reason himself into the conviction Tennyson a distinct premeditated policy in that his art is not an idleness, and his work this conduct we have observed upon. On not a mere superfluity of life-is natural the contrary, it has sometimes occurred to enough. It is another question whether he us, that, in the varied licenses which some is called upon to feel this sentiment of timof our later poets have taken-in their dis- idity, or doubt the utility of his calling. regard to established rules of composition The more prosaic the age, the more need, —their wilful carelessness—their wanton say we, of him and of his tender or his lofty play with language and metre--they have song. We cannot doubt that poetry has its but yielded, though, perhaps, unconsciously, distinct and very important office to perto the influence of a prosaic and practical form in the world of letters. Without insistage. In such an age, the maker of verse ing that for a perfect culture of the mind it is finds himself half ashamed of his vocation ; necessary to become acquainted with a wide and in order not to be thought to devote a sphere of thought and feeling-even of disproportionate labor to what, after all, thought not assented to and feeling not apmay be looked upon as a species of ingen- proved of—we may, taking the narrowest ious tribing, or, at best, an unproductive of all ground, safely contend that in the industry,' he throws aside, from time to time, circle of pure and domestic affections, and the air of study and of toil, and attempts to of the natural sentiments of piety which give to his best and happiest efforts the ap- man and nature inspire, a well selected popearance of hasty and spontaneous effusion. etry is of eminent advantage. Those who They are casual beauties, they—the natural have given but slight consideration to the wealth of the climate-gifts of the morning subject, have sometimes disputed its utility sun; if you think them valueless as sum- on the ground that, as it is with the real mer dew-drops, they at least cost as little. circumstances of life we have finally to deal, Brush them away-you are welcome-to- our feelings ought to be moulded by and for morrow can sow the fields again with the these, and not by fictions of the imaginasame profusion of pearls-pearls which no tion. But it is exactly that the heart should diver has raked up, with care and agony, be well attuned to the real circumstances from the bottom of the seas. The extreme of life that we desire, and it is exactly this polish of verse, the slow progressive labor that the better order of poetry assists in perwhich lived along the line,' is suspected forming. Unhappily, the circumstances of to be less honorable than heretofore. The real life, without collateral culture of the artist is anxious to show that he does not, mind, rarely awaken all the feelings which any more than others, over-estimate his cu- they are fitted, and which they ought, to call



forth. What is the magical word home to a miliarity blunts the most delicate susceptihard materialized nature, which seeks even bilities of social life, literature may be said in the domestic circle nothing but its own to supply an antidote to this ungracious inselfish gratification? The poet takes from influence. Every one has had occasion to the heart of better men, and diffuses over experience, or to remark, how at the meetmany, the tender, happy, and virtuous emo- ing of old friends, there suddenly gush uptions, which, in their perfection, are felt wards, as from hidden sources, many a tenspontaneously only by a few. It is not al- der feeling which had been choked up, or ways, nor most frequently, a mere visionary trodden down, or let run to waste. What scene that he reveals to us; he more often a meeting after a separation is to an old makes visible the beauty of that old familiar friendship, such is oftentimes the perusal of world which is lying disregarded around us. a genuine and heart-stirring poet. Even when his events are fantastical and We have sometimes been tempted to smile supernatural, the feelings, it must be re- at the charge brought with more gravity membered, which he describes, are human, than reflection against poetry, that it kindles else his poem is indeed but a 'tinkling imaginary and too vivid anticipations of the brass, of which no account need be taken, happiness of life, and inspires hopes which it being powerless for good or for evil. That our sober and toilsome world cannot realthoroughly English poet, Cowper, who drew ize. We have smiled, because we know his materials from the very fire-side by well that it is quite an opposite accusation which he wrote, has he done nothing to ex- which the poetry, especially of our windtend the sentiments which he felt so warmly beaten and wave-washed island has to susand described so well? Assuredly the poet- tain. From the tragedy of Hamlet, to the ry of The Task, like a sudden beam of light last lines we read in the magazine of the

some unpretending landscape, has month-which prettily and plaintively conbrought out to many an eye the beauty and gratulated a blind girl on this, at least, that pathos of simple and domestic life. And, she would never see the cold, averted in our own day, does not the whole heart glance of an alienated friend—the tenor of of England confess a new, a tender, a char- our poetry has been of a melancholy charitable and ennobling impulse from the verse acter, and its effect upon young and imof Wordsworth? He who makes two blades passioned readers has been invariably to of grass to grow where one only grew be- create more despondency than hope. fore, has been regarded as pre-eminently Whilst it kindles the purest and happiest of the benefactor of his species, and elevated feelings, it does not promise largely for aboye conquerors and statesmen; is he far their enjoyment; it mostly denies the conbehind him in utility, (we like to use that senting circumstance. It mingles before term, for we also, after our own manner, eyes the elements of happiness—it dexclaim to be utilitarians,) does he rank much terously presses the wine from out the below in the scale of serviceable men, who grape; but, somehow, the bowl is ever makes two blades of kindly feeling to grow broken; it falls to the earth, or is dashed where one only grew before?

from our hands. The treasures of life are Nor is it only in youth, and as a prepara- revealed to us in the strains of disappointtion for untried scenes that the pathos of ment; it is regret which ever sings of poetry may render good service; it is well in joy; it is her inverted torch which throws manhood and old age to kindle the memory its light upon our path; it is a golden urn of kind and noble affections which have that is thrust into our bosom. been felt. It has been said that the heart Jean Paul Richter, alluding to the melhas no echo,' and some have added, except ancholy influence of poetry upon youth, for its grief. Certainly the finer joys pass compares it to the black veil which travel rapidly across the mirror of the mind, and lers are advised to wear on their first enwe need some powerful incantation to trance amongst the snow-bright mountains bring them back, and stay them there, if of Switzerland, to protect the else dazzled but for an hour. We need to be some eye-sight. When the landscape has grown times told that we have kindled with disin- familiar to the traveller-when life to the terested affection, that we have overflowed youth-the black veil, in either case, may with that natural piety which the beauty be laid aside ; it will no longer be necessary, of the earth calls forth, in order that the nor likely to be retained. The apology conheart may be reassured, and know itself as veyed in this fanciful illustration is the best -still capable of these fine emotions. If fa- that can be offered ; but we are not sure that we should accept it as quite satisfactory. | marcation between sea and dry land, reWe are disposed to think that, to some ex- mains, at all times, equally difficult. If, for tent, it is an evil that our first efforts at re-instance, Akenside were now living, we flection should be awakened and accompa- may be sure he would not write a philosonied by sentiments of sadness and despond- phical theory of the sublime and beautiful ency. Every good thing of this earth, has, in blank verse. No Pope or Boileau however, some attendant evil, and this is would now convert rules of criticism into one which, in general, the stir and manifold materials for a poem; as if because they activity of life easily encounters and dis-related to poetry, they must be themselves pels.

of a poetical character. To blunderers, of No; the task of the poet is not a busy course, no limits can be set ; it is their idleness, nor is it in vain, or without a pur- peculiar privilege to overleap all bounds; pose, that an unconquerable impulse to pour and therefore, in these days of agricultural forth his inmost soul in the highest and improvement, some one may bethink him most impressive forms of language, has of reviving a bucolic strain, and teaching been implanted within him. We have, in the farmers how to plough, and sow, and obedience to a very prevalent mode of drain their lands in very elaborate hexamespeech, called our own a prosaic age, and ters, but we may be sure that this will not in one sense of the term it may be so de- be the Virgil of his

age. scribed ; but we do not regard it, on the Mr. Tennyson—to return to the author whole, as averse to poetry. The writers who whose works have led us to this train of reappear as candidates for applause, are, we mark—in the two small volumes in which suspect, (with very few exceptions,) not his poetry is comprised, may be said to worthy of the age, and for this reason ob-have exemplified whatever is characteristitain so little notice. Certainly, the great cally good or vicious, in the most modern masters of poetry were never more read, or school of poetry: we have its delicacy of better appreciated than they are at the touch, its subtlety of imagination, its finepresent time. Shakspeare was never more ness of vision ; we have, too, its carelessadmired, nor Milton more revered. We ness, its obscurity, its metaphysical vagueare not less open than at any former period ness, accompanied occasionally with the to the sublimest strains, to the deepest pa- very opposite fault of puerility. thos, to the tenderest fancies of the poet ; It is, we believe, the more approved cuswe, perhaps, demand more than ever that tom of our critical brotherhood to expose he be pre-eminently poetical-passionate, the faults, in the first place, and afterwards imaginative, creative. In one sense only to reveal the merits of their author ; to excan we be justly called prosaic. We have haust first the arrows of censure, and then no reverence for verse, for its own sake; to pour in the balm of praise. Whatever we set no value on dexterous artifices of advantage this order may possess, we shall language; have little esteem for “difficul- reverse it on the present occasion. While ties conquered," and similar claims to our the ear of our reader is fresh, and before admiration. What can be best said in he is thrown by any criticism of ours into prose, we desire should be said in prose. a too prying and suspicious temper, let us Poetry, in fine, has lost nothing; but versi- present him with some strains of exquisite fication has lost much. We still require it poetry; such as, if he has not encountered to be good, and yet bestow little honor on them before, he shall thank us for having it. We regard its excellence as a sort of brought under his notice. We shall be negative virtue. Nor do we care to see it rather liberal in our quotations from this so often as heretofore. Over a wide range author, on the presumption that his writings of topics, the decree has gone forth in favor have not circulated extensively amongst of plain prose, which has withal an abun- the class who constitute a large portion of dance of simple and natural harmonies of our readers. Nor are they likely, perhaps, its own. We are far from asserting that the to do so. Although containing nothing line has been distinctly drawn between the hostile to Christianity, and indeed exhibiting subjects which are and are not adapted to the occasionally a strong religious feeling, the forms of poetry. The boundary line may sentiments are of too miscellaneous a charstill be as vague as ever; we know only acter altogether to awaken strong interest that it has moved. We can pronounce that in that order of thinkers, who do not merely the tide has advanced or receded, although admit Christianity to a place in the cir. to trace, upon a bold shore, the exact de-cumference, but establish it in the very cen

« ZurückWeiter »