Page images

views, and therefore there is less dan- fault that brings more ridicule upon ger of deviating from propriety in the him, and which is more dwelt upon execution on the one side than on by those who deny his qualifications the other. Angelo rould find it more for dramatic excellence, than his play dimcult to do justice to his own de- upon words. His admirers have been signs than an interior painter ; or per- sadly distressed in labouring to justify haps it may be said more properly, him in this puerile amusement; but his that the execution of the latter might justification can only be found in that exceed his expectation, while no feli- affectation of wit which characterizes city of execution would enable the the manners of all ages emerging from former to reach that grandeur and barbarism. Nor is it, indeed, necesterrifie sublimity which he had sketched sary to go back to ancient times to in his own mind. Hence, in a contest seek for proofs of this propensity in between two eminent painters while human nature, antecedent to civilizathey were yet in their apprenticeship, tion and refinement. We have only their master justly awarded the prize to look to the common herd of manto bim who committed most faults, be- kind in our own days, and to mingle in, cause he displayed, at the same time, their societies, and we shall find the a power of mind and a vastness of same fippadcy of mind, and the same conception of which the other was in ambition of excelling in low humour, capable. Shakspeare then has fre- and verbal witticism. I can say from quently deviated from propriety of my own experience, and every man manner : his faults are as numerous may make the trial if his pride will as bis beauties; but to defend them permit him, that the lower orders of is certainly not to defend Shakspeare, English are particularly devoted to but to defend error, and to bring the this species of witticism ; that the established rules of criticism into lower order of Irish are still more contempt. The pre-eminence of his so; and that the lower order of the genius is easily defended without Scotch, if I can depend on the tesdefending it's aberrations, while to timony of Scotsmen themselves, are prove him free from faults and ble- hy no means behind band with the misbes, would be in fact to prove him English and Irish. The philosopher altogetber destitute of genius. Even can easily account, in my opinion, now, when the rules and precepts of for this propensity in human nature. fine writing are so multiplied, as to The lower orders of mankind bave but reader it impossible for any writer few ideas; and as the ambition of well acquainted with them to mistake intellectual endowments and penetrahis way, or the line which he should tion is common to all men, tliey seek pursue in the conduct of his work, to turn the small stock they possess to it is still impossible to avoid faults. the best advantage. As they are, He, then, who could avoid them before therefore, confined to few ideas, they these rules and precepts were known, have more frequent opportunities of would prove himself to be a writer of returning to these ideas than those such few thoughts and conceptions as who travel over a vast circumference required neither plan nor arrange- of science, and consequently they can ment, and consequently neither guide examine those ideas in which they are nor director. He who would attribute perpetually hackpicd, in more difiergenius to such a writer would demon- ent points of view. But as ideas are strate that he possessed none of it expressed in words, the more frehimself.

quently they ponder on the ideas, It is certain, however, that a great the more frequently have they an portion of Shakspeare's faults must opportunity of perceiving the difbe ascribed to the necessity under feient imports which the same word which be was placed of accommo- conveys, and consequently the difdating himself to the temper and ferent modes which they possess of manners of the age in which he wrote, meaning one thing and expressing and not to bis want “ of greater another. It is in this, properly, a skill," or more refined judgment. He play upon words consists; and these osten knew when he was transgressing are the reasons, if I mistake not, against the laws of propriety, and the why a play upon words is so common feelings of a more refined age than among the vulgar. We are deceived, that in which he lived. There is no however, if we imagine, that Shakspeare did not perceive it's absurdity, I shall, therefore, copclude my obthough he had recourse to it merely to servations on this inmortal poet by obaccommodate himself to the humour serving, that all his faults originale of the times ; and those critics are from circumstances in no wise conequally deceived who labour to jus. nected with the character of inteltify in Shakspeare a fault which in lectual endowments; that those crihim was by no means the effect of tics who enumerate his faults in order ignorance or want of better sense, to depreciate his fame, can only serve and which he knew to be faulty at to the very time that he alfected to con- ~ Amnse the unlearn'd and make the sider them beauties. Of this, if we learned smile ;" have any doubt, the following pas- and that those who defen: bis faults, sage from his own works will serve to through their over eagerness to secure convince us.

the immortality of his fame and the " ( dear discretion, how his words are

pre-eminence of his genius, onght to

recollect, that suited! The fool hath planted in his memory “Errors like straws upon the surface An army of good words: and I do know

flow; A many fools, that stand in better place, He who would seek for pearls must dive Garnish'd like him, that for a tricksy word below.” Defy the matter."

M. M. D.

[ocr errors]

WHY ask the stars for their boat of light,

As eastern sages tell?“
We have each a boat of hue as bright,
”Twill compass the world in one summer night,

And reach the stars as well.
All the treasures that Thought can bring

It sails through the clouds to find;
'Tis swifter than Time on his swiftest wing,
For Care the courtier of Death the king

It leaves upon earth behind.
It's helm is lit with a meteor's gleam,

It's sail is a gossamer spun
From the downy pillow of Life's first dream,
Or films that float upon Fancy's stream,

Or threads from her cobweb won.
Then the boat will pass over this world's bars

To traverse a brighter sphere
In the glowing heaven of immortal Mars,
Or among the suns that look like stars

Unearthly Venus near.
But best through the world of light it steers

Where the placid moon reposes ;
For her pure and bright clime sheds no tears,*
But a sweet invisible dew that cheers,

As memory feeds life's roses.
Oh! when the pilot-soul is true,

Let the boat of Hope go free!
Sweet Ida!-'twill sail to regions new,
And search the worlds of Fancy through,

But return again for thee.


• The moon's atmosphere is said to yield no rain.


[ocr errors]

What was your dream, my Lord? I pray you, tell me. SHAKSPEARE

Small that dreary night
A wondrous blaze was seen to gleam ;
Twas broader than the watch-fire light,

And redder than the bright moon beam. SCOTT
AS on a bright, but wintry day,

By Queen ULRICA's side reclining,
The Royal CHARLES of Sweden lay,

While joy was through his palace shining;
And pleasure look'd out all around,
As if her Temple she had found,
And cast her choicest gems and flowers
To beam in STOCKHOLM's royal towers :
Thus spake the King :-" I scarce know why
My heart feels sad and gloomily;
I do not commonly give way
To thoughts like these, by night or day ;
But now, so dreadful they appear,
Some heavy woe must sure be near.”
" Charles," said Ulrica, “ calm your breast,

Sorrow is ever o'er us stealing;
But surely Kings should be at rest

Whatever subject hearts are feeling:
Perchance, however, 'tis the reign
Of melancholy or of pain,
Brought on by thoughts which will not die,
But float within the memory,
To shew, when Time returns the scene,
What we would fain forget hath been.”

'Tis even so," the King replied,
My courage many a field hath tried,
And ever yet at Danger's side,

Have I maintain'd my stand;
Yet once, my Queen, upon this day,
Though not in any mortal fray,
My heart the coward's part did play,

And palsied was my hand !
Now, though above my head have past
Days, months, and years, those terrors last;
And every annual visit seems
But to renew those fearful dreams :
Oh! would that when this sun hath set,
For ever that I could forget
That once mine eyes beheld such sight,
As on December's sixteenth night
I witness'd here, in form as true
As if 'twere all of mortal bue."
Replied Ulrica, with that smile

Woman will oftentimes put on,
Which half our cares cap so begaile,

We fain would tbink that all are gone;
* Charles, from the hint your words have given,

'Twas not a sight for mortal eye?"
“ No,--they were messengers from heaven,

And spake of future destiny !”.
" Then, if my dearest Prince will tell,
What none can e'er relate so well;
For still, albeit your fear and care,
I deem you were the stoutest there;
Perchance 'twill turn your fitful mood

To say what wondrous sights you view'd,”
Exr. Meg. Vol. 81. Feb. 1822.


Said Charles, -" I do not oft talk o'er

The adventures of that midnight story;
For though the firmest heart I bore,

It makes but little for my glory.
But yet, perchance, as thou dost say,
My fitful mood 'twill drive away,
To speak of what alarm'd me then,
And half unman myself again;
The tale to thee I will relate,
And thou shalt own my heart was great.
But,-give thy faith to every line,
That sun does not more surely shine,
Than all my story shall unfold
Myself and followers did behold!"
He paused,--and fear his blush display'd,
While thus his hurried tale he said:

[blocks in formation]

“ December's moon o'er Stockholm cast

The splendours of a milder day,
And every eye was closed fast,

Save mine, which tired yet open lay:
My crown and sceptre's worth were vain
The bliss of slumber to obtain,
Though wearied, sad, and heart opprest,
I tried, yet could not sink to rest.
'Tis strange, that Kings, whose royal power

With honours, fame, and wealth can bless
Cannot command one little hour

To fall into forgetfulness!--
When too, on lowliest subjects' eyes
It's blessed influence ever flies ;
Though Poverty around their beds,
Within their hearts, and o'er their heads,
His reign of everlasting care
Most firmly hath establish'd there :
While 1,--the Lord of Sweden's sbore,
Whom envious thousands bow before,
Lay gazing on the moon's pale beam,
Less blessed-than the least of them.
But let that pass,-all annals shew
It hath been,-ever shall be so;
For look ye through the rolls of Time,
In every age and every clime,
Judah and Persia, Greece and Rome,
In distant kingdoms, and at home ;
Through all, ye view the self-same scene,
That still shall be,--and still hath been.
I started,--for in nights like those
A moment will the eyelids close,
One instant will the fancy stray
To sweet forgetfulness away ;
Then back the wearied sense is swept
As sad as if she had not slept.--
I started,--to the midnight skies
I slowly turn'd my opening eyes,
As if some direful spectre's blaze
Should dart on it's returning gaze,
So loathly from that passing dream
To break it's slumber did it seem.
Oh, Powers of God!-- were demons there,

Was that the hour when fiends assembled,
Spread through the world their fiery glare?

I am no coward, --but I trembled !

[merged small][ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

My Audience-Hall one sheet of flame,
As bright as e'er on earth it came,
Seemed to enwrap the huilding round
From it's high turrets to the ground ;
And this, when first it met my look,
My firmest powers of reason shook.
One moment, and I thought mine eyes
Were dazzled by the moonlight skies ;
But yet it shone so bright and clear,
So red and vivid did appear,
It could not be the paly hue
With which the crescent greets the view.
* Brahe,-BIELKE,--answer me,

Wbat lights in yonder buildings shine ?
Do not your eyes their radiance see,

Or do they glitter but to mine?'
Saint Mark be lauded! Sire, the moon
Is by the glassy windows shewn,
Like sanbeams o'er the ice that play,
With brighter and reflected ray ;
Fear not, your waking hours have prest
Too heavy on your royal breast.'
It might be so ;-I could not tell
The form of anything so well,
When my strain'd sense from slumber snatch'd,
The weary noon of night bad watch'd:
No matter what that light might be,
I turn'd it's rays no more to see.
Still the recesses of my heart

Most strangely felt, -as if a fever
Had seiz'd upon her vital part,

And would not for one moment leave her,
Till I into the Hall had gone
To witness that phenomenon;
And search into it's wondrous cause,
I could not for an instant pause;
But hoping all that light had fled,
I turn'd me on my restless bed,
O Heaven ! no! It still was there,
That brilliant and unearthly glare,
Staining the same high building o'er
As bright as when I look'd before !
• Friends,- for God's mercy turn your eyes,
I am not lost in ecstacies ;
But, never yet hath moonbeam shone
Like that on yonder Hall of stone!
GRUMSTEN,--look thou ;-and do not deem,
That my tongue raves, my senses dream,
But say, if what I see so well
Be moonlight, flame, or fiendish spell.'
• Perchance it is the darken'd room,
The contrast of the light and gloom,
Which makes the moonbeams, Sire, to thee
Seem more than fair reality:
Believe the rays on yonder Hall,
From the pale lamp of midnight fall.'
They could not all in error speak,

And I composed myself once more;.
But though mine eyes were strain’d and weak,

My mind was restless as before :
And gazing,- for a spell had got
My sight to fix upon that spot,

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »