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The reverse process of taking a superfluous foot from the end of the first line to help the second, which is just so much “curtailed of its fair proportion,” would restore both the following to symmetry. “A thrill of terror rooted me; they seemed | to frown And menace me with hostile eyes.”
-P 245. Possibly, however, these may be mere clerical inadvertences, as we observe that in a quotation of that grand passage, “ They were the watchmen by an empire's cradle,
Whose youthful sinews show like Rome's,
(Vol. 11. p. 193.) the second and third lines are marred in the same manner, by the wrong division which we have copied.
Occasional instances, we fear, may be pointed out of an objectionable phraseology. We can scarcely make up our minds to the use (by following which, many a small wit nowa-days is led to imagine, that he has found the art of being effective,) of the pronoun ye for you, when the objective case is to be expressed. “ For vows he would persist had passed between ye,”
(Vol. 1. p. 30.) and the like, is phraseology which has been so long out of good use, that it has now all the appearance of an affected innovation ; though it is true, that, if one chooses to make an argument in its defence, authority can be produced for it from the old standard writers. But, as to going further, and employing the word when it is one person only that is intended, we beg our author, who loves the English language well, not to lend his high authority to the weaker vessels, which are bringing in such a poor and useless sclecism. Lowth, in his Grammar, while he condemned it, thought that he found it in a verse of the received translation of the prophet Micah ; but if he had looked at the passage in the original, he would have seen, that the English words are but a closely literal rendering of the Hebrew, in which, as is not uncommon in that language, there is a confusion of numbers. And, to speak frankly our own mind, when Jacquelina, in the first of Mr. Hillhouse's dramas, is made to say to Cosmo,
“She loved ye, dear as life,” (Vol. 1. p. 27.)
and when the mask says to Demetria,
“ No harm shall come to ye,” (p. 52.) and Bianca to Cosmo,
“Well may ye falter,” (p. 80.) we are fain to ask ourselves, whether it is Mr. Hillhouse's correct and manly page that is before us, or some boardingschool Muse's essay in a Souvenir. So,
'Where be my lord, the Count ? ” (p. 80.) is language once in some credit, but long ago obsolete, and having no claim to be revived.
Set, though unstable, – blind to old desert.” (p. 27.) Set, for obstinate, is, we take it, a provincial vulgarism, finding itself now for the first time on an elegant writer's page.
“To realize thee foul and reprobate,” (p. 210.) is, we suppose, an indefensible expression, though it has obtained some currency in this country.
Realize is a good word; but it means to make a thing real, and not, what it is often employed to express, — to perceive the reality of a thing. Once more, to disburden ourselves of this minute criticism, of which, if well founded, Mr. Hillhouse, better than most men, kuows the worth, respecting the use of the word liege, we have not, of course, in these ends of the earth, any usus loquendi to direct us ; but, if we may trust our ear, it should never be used alone, as he has sometimes used it. “You task me, liege, above my knowledge." - p. 285. “ First view a little entertainment, liege.' “They 'll rue this gambol. Marked you, liege, the flash
Of swords unsheathing ?” (p. 290.)
This word, addressed to a monarch, follows the analogy, if we mistake not, of the word lord addressed to a noble. “My liege," “ my lord,” “ most mighty liege,” “ most valiant lord;" these forms are English; but if either word can be used in the vocative, independently of some adjunct, it is the latter, and the expression would, at least, have great abruptness.
Of the three prose Discourses in the second volume, the first, to which we formerly * called the attention of our readers,
* North American Review, Vol. XXIV. pp. 137 et seq. VOL. L. - No. 106.
relates to " Some of the Considerations which should influence an Epic or a Tragic Writer in the Choice of an Era.” It is more formal than either of the others, and to us, we own, less satisfactory, both in point of argument and of literary execution. We extract from it the following strain of just and striking remark, which we like not at all the less for being sensible that there is also much that might be forcibly urged on the other side. Men's sources of inspiration, the impulses, under which what is best within them must be brought
are exceedingly different. Intellect is cosmopolitan ; but yet there are better men than McGregor, who, like him, only feel their full strength when their foot is on their native heath. The genius of Burns was essentially a genius loci ; and that of Scott, if not greatest, was certainly most rich and fertile, on his own soil; not to say, what, indeed, was scarcely within our author's view, that there are forms of composition, which almost owe their being to the influences of country. The lyric is such a form. Independent of Greece and Germany, Pindar and Körner could not have been. The satire is still more obviously another such form.
“Let our countrymen pause, ere they adopt an opinion sometimes gravely urged, that an American must illustrate an American theme, or never hope to be ingrafted into the affections of his country. What! circumscribe within a couple of centuries, and the transactions of a few thinly-peopled colonies, the illimitable flights of the imagination ! Compel every species of genius to choose from the same scanty store of recent materials, or deny its inspiration! Philosophy might teach the absurdity of the idea. But is it sanctioned by the practice of other nations ? - What real relationship have Spenser's realms of Fairy to the United Kingdom of England, Scotland, and Ireland ? What exclusive interest has the British Isle in the loss or recovery of Paradise ? Does England rest her dramatic glory on the interlocutory chronicle of Shakspeare, rather than on Othello, Hamlet, and Macbeth ? With the exception of Lear, we have comprised in this brief list the crown-jewels of English poesy, the darling boast and pride of British hearts. Not one of them is on an English theme. The French equally idolize their Tragedy ; yet not one of Racine’s or Corneille's, and but one of Voltaire's six-and-twenty tragedies, is founded on a Gallic subject. Ariosto, Alfieri, and Metastasio looked abroad. Tasso's scene is on foreign and neutral ground, and his heroes are a chivalrous assembly from all the nations of Europe ; Dante's grand domain is imaginary, but its dark accompaniments must be confessed to be strictly Italian. These are names of some consideration ; but perhaps a more brilliant destiny attended others, who politicly flattered their country with a national theme.—How much has national gratitude done for the Albion's England of Warner, for the Civil War of Daniel, for the Bosworth Field of Beaumont, for the Italia of Trissino, for the Henriade of Voltaire, for Drayton's Poly-Olbion, for Blackmore's Arthur, for Pye's Alfred, for Milman's Samor, for Barlow's Columbiad ?
“ The great masters of modern times appear, for the most part, not to have found congenial matter in their own annals, and they went fearlessly in search of it wherever the spirit led them. If, just emerging from a martial age, whose splendid poetic capabilities we have attempted to develope, they might choose from the whole visible and invisible universe, how much more may we !” – Vol. II. pp. 92-94.
The Discourse in Commemoration of the Life and Services of General Lafayette” is an elegant biography of that great man, accompanied by many judicious and striking reflections naturally growing out of the subject. The Discourse “ on the Relations of Literature to a Republican Government” is in a yet higher style. It is full of eloquence and wisdom. Though we have already been seduced into multiplying extracts to an altogether unexpected extent, we cannot resist the temptation to lay before our readers the two following fine passages. Speaking of “the policy, as well as duty, of educating in the most finished manner our youth of large expectations, expressly to meet the dangers and fulfil the duties of men of leisure,” Mr. Hillhouse says;
“The mischievous, and truly American notion, that, to enjoy a respectable position, every man must traffic, or preach, or practise, or hold an office, brings to beggary and infamy, many who might have lived, under a juster estimate of things, usefully and happily ; and cuts us off from a needful, as well as ornamental, portion of society. The necessity of laboring for sustenance is, indeed, the great safeguard of the world, the ballast, without which the wild passions of men would bring communities to speedy wreck. But man will not labor without a motive ; and successful accumulation, on the part of the parent, deprives the son of this impulse. Instead, then, of vainly contending against laws, as insurmountable as those of physics, and attempting to drive their children into lucrative industry, why do not men, who have made themselves opulent, open their eyes, at once, to the glaring fact, that the cause, the cause itself, which braced their own nerves to the struggle for fortune, does not exist for their offspring ? The father
has taken from the son his motive ! - a motive confessedly important to happiness and virtue, in the present state of things. He is bound, therefore, by every consideration of prudence and humanity, neither to attempt to drag him forward without a cheering, animating principle of action, - nor recklessly to abandon him to his own guidance, - nor to poison him with the love of lucre for itself; but, under new circumstances, — with new prospects, -- at a totally different starting-place from his own, to supply other motives, — drawn from our sensibility to reputation, from our natural desire to know, from an enlarged view of our capacities and enjoyments, — and a more high and liberal estimate of our relations to society. Fearsul, indeed, is the responsibility of leaving youth, without mental resources, to the temptations of splendid idleness ! Men who have not considered this subject, while the objects of their affection yet surround their table, drop no seeds of generous sentiments, animate them with no discourse on the beauty of disinterestedness, the paramount value of the mind, and the dignity of that renown which is the echo of illustrious actions. Absorbed in one pursuit, their morning precept, their mid-day example, and their evening moral, too often conspire to teach a single maxim, and that in direct contradiction of the inculcation, so often and so variously repeated ; It is better to get wisdom than gold.' Right views, a careful choice of agents, and the delegation, betimes, of strict authority, would insure the object. Only let the parent feel, and the son be early taught, that, with the command of money and leisure, to enter on manhood without having mastered every attainable accomplishment, is more disgraceful than threadbare garments, and we might have the happiness to see in the inheritors of paternal wealih, less frequently, idle, ignorant prodigals and heart-breakers, and more frequently, high-minded, highly educated young men, embellishing, if not called to public trusts, a private station.
“For the consideration of those who confound leisure with idleness, we would merely observe, that, in their proper acceptation, the phrases, “a man of leisure,' and an idle man,' are about as nearly synonymous as the terms, Patriot and Politician.
“ With such a class ornamenting the circles of our chief cities, we should soon see a modification of claims. The arrogance of sinple wealth would stand rebuked, before the double title of those wbo superadded intellectual distinction. Accomplished minds, finding the air of fashionable assemblies more respirable, would more frequently venture into them. Society might be lively, various, and intelligent ; — an alliance of wit, learning, genius, and fortune, on terms of just appreciation. Meanwhile, the higher standard of public sentiment in relation to intellectual pursuits would thrill along the nerves of litera