Page images
[blocks in formation]

To the Editor of the Literary Gazette.

consideration of efforts, struck the agreeable despot from
These were the his throne. To quartos of lightness,
have succeeded pamphlets of sublimity;
and the Lay of the last Minstrel, (literally
speaking) has outdone, in public estima-
tion, the lay which goes by that name.

NOW come to the Mr. Scott's works. leaders in that deteriorated style of poetry, which has driven back our language to all its primitive impurities, and has given us a species of non-descript tale, apparently epic, but in reality a medley parBut how could Mr. Scott expect pertaking of the old ballad and the modern petual patronage, since caprice and prenovel. The genius of its inventor, and judice had already gone so far as to exthe novelty of the design itself, brought communicate even a Pope and a Dryden? quartos of jingle into infinite request; And what better can Lord Byron himself the prose romance was abandoned, the expect, whenever some other poet, with Minerva press outwitted, and all ran to a complete new set of graces, shall make purchase those huge charming volumes, his appearance? The fact is this. The which contained cantos instead of chap- public may veer, and the censor may ters. All this went on extremely well, rail, and the writer may suffer; but true for a time. No age was so great as the genius will rise triumphant from its fall present, and Mr. Scott tinkled to the at last. Even its own errors affect, in a tune of thousands per tome. But novelty, very slight degree, its ultimate fate. as its name evinces, is very short-lived, Though weeds are sometimes twisted and capricious taste, that first stands among its laurels, it still continues to forth its protector, ultimately becomes shoot forth its immortal rays from beits murderer. On a sudden, there arose neath them. in the opposite quarter of the heavens, Certainly, there have seldom been two another luminary, who, for his hour, was cotemporary poets, whose leading charLord of the ascendant. Deep, intense, acteristics are so dissimilar as those of metaphysical, and unaccommodating, he Mr. Scott and Lord Byron. Ease, grace, opposed profundity to prattle, and taught a perpetual flow, and an unfailing vivacithe torrent of his eloquence to roar down ty, distinguishes the former. Hardness, the purling of the rival streams. With inflexible force, abrupt and short sentenequal, though not always similar blem- ces, and an almost undeviating gloomiishes, he displayed energies which his ness, are the attributes of the latter. The precursor could not; and in fine, by a one is sometimes feeble, in consequence few gloomy, misanthropical, gigantic of redundancy: the other is often ob



Walter Scolt.-Southey's Brazil.

[VOL. 2

scure, in consequence of compression. tameter, while Lord Byron wields it, We quote a passage from the one, and a when he pleases, with a most masterly line from the other;—the passage, for its hand. I have thus endeavoured to compare beautiful thought, elegantly, though perhaps needlessly, protracted-the line, for these eminent poets, and to show, that its strong meaning, tersely, though per each has his own peculiar excellencies. haps uncouthly, expressed. The one Their errors are mutual, so far as regards excels in delineating external nature; the the prevailing pedantries and affectations: other in laying bare, as he himself ex- and it must be confessed, that both of presses it, "that living sepulchre, the na- them have done much injury to the pubked heart." In the one, we have various lic taste. In casting off the trammels of characters, sketches with a rapid pencil, Italian concetti and French tameness, and brought out dramatically. In the they have rioted in their new-found libother, we have but few; and the pecu- erty, till it has degenerated into licenMr. Scott is, however, the liar traits of these few, are detailed to us tiousness.

with such curious minuteness, that their older and the greater offender: and he subsequent actions become, not so much is at this moment, learning, by the revulthe means by which we are made ac- sion of that public taste, which he had quainted with those traits, as the proofs himself excited and upheld, the disagreeby which we may substantiate the accuracy of our previous information respecting them. The poetry of Mr. Scott is much more mellifluous than that of Lord Byron, and has not so many loose and weak lines; but it is somewhat strange, that he does not at all succeed in the pen

able, but I trust, salutary lesson, that no poetry will long retain its ascendancy in popular favour, unless it be written in the dialect of the times, and with all the purity which an improved language will B. permit.


From the European Magazine.



ment. The historical facts are well connected, and

the dryness of historical detail is relieved not only by curious anecdotes and biographical sketches, but by those minute and picturesque descriptions in which Mr. Southey is confessedly pre-eminent. The most interesting part of the Work relates to the progress of the Jesuits in South America, from their

first adventurous achievements, as itinerant missionaries, to the final establishment of a well-organized system of Theocracy.

The history of one of their perilous pilgrimages is given by Mr. Southey with his usual vivacity of description.]

[To those who are acquainted with the former part of marching mid-deep in water; but the this Work, it will scarcely be necessary to observe, flood continued to rise, and compelled that it affords a fund of information and entertain them to take to the trees for safety. The storm increased, the rain continued, and the inundation augmented; and among the beasts and reptiles whom the waters had surprized, one of the huge American serpents approached the tree upon which Ortega and his catechist had taken refuge, and coiling round one of the branches, began to ascend, while they fully expected to be devoured, having neither means of escape nor of defence: the branch by which he sought to lift himself RTEGA and Filds continued many broke under his weight, and the monster years in Guayra, itinerating among swam off. But though they were thus the savages. In one of these excursions delivered from this danger, their situation the former was caught by a sudden was truly dreadful: two days passed, flood between two rivers; both over and in the middle of the second night flowed, and presently the whole plain one of the Indians came swimming tohad the appearance of one boundless wards the tree by the lightning's light, The missionary and the party of and called to Ortega, telling him that six Neophytes who accompanied him were of his companions were at the point of used to inconveniences of this kind, and death; they who had not yet been bapthought to escape, as heretofore, with tized intreated him to baptize them, and

[ocr errors]


VOL. 2.]

Southey's History-Jesuit Discipline in Brazil.


those who had received that sacrament The business of the young girls was to requested absolution ere they died. The gather the cotton, and drive away birds Jesuit fastened his catechist to the bough from the field. The boys were employby which he held, then let himself down ed in weeding, keeping the roads in order, into the water, and swam to perform and other tasks suited to their strength. these offices; he had scarcely completed them before five of these poor people in which they repeated morning and Those children who by the manner dropt and sunk and when he got back evening their prayers and catechism, to his own tree the water had reached were thought to give promise of a good the neck of his catechist, whom he had voice, were instructed in reading, writnow to untie, and help him to gain a ing, and music, and made choristers; higher branch. The flood, however, there were usually about thirty in a now began to abate. Ortega, in swim- Reduction: this was an honour which ming among the thorny boughs, received parents greatly coveted for their children. a wound in his leg, which was never thoroughly healed during the two and twenty years that he survived this dreadful adventure.

[Of the government established by the Jesuits, and the discipline imposed on the Indians, Mr. Southey has furnished a copious, and we believe a faithful, statement; it was obviously calculated to preserve them in a state of ignorance and subordination. To arrest the sions was the great object of their spipasritual governours; early marriages were universal, but the change of state produced no accession of care.]

Except these choristers, only those children were taught to read and write who were designed for public officers, servants of the church, or for medical chosen from the families of the Caciques practice; and they were principally and chief persons of the town,--for amid this perfect equality of goods, there was The Cacique retained his title, and some an inequality of rank, as well as office. appearance of distinction, and was exempt from tribute.

Equal care was taken to employ and purpose, a religion which consisted so to amuse the people; and for the latter

much of externals afforded excellent
Indians possessed a remarkable aptitude
It was soon discovered that the
for music,

admirable ingenuity in imitating whatHaving also, like the Chinese, an ever was laid before them, they made all kinds of musical instruments: the lute, guitarre, harp, violin, violincello, sackbut, cornet, oboe, spinette, and organ, were found among them; and the choral part of the church service excited the admiration and astonishment of all Europeons who visited the Reductions.

An Indian of the Reductions never knew, during his whole progress from the cradle to the grave, what it was to take thought for the morrow: all his duties were comprized in obedience, The strictest discipline soon becomes tolerable when it is certain and immutable; that of the Jesuits extended to every thing, but it was neither capricious nor oppressive. The children were considered as belonging to the community; they lived with their parents, that the course of natural affection might not be interrupted; but their education was a public duty. Early in the morning manner, the Jesuits saw as many dangers In dancing, according to the ordinary the bell summoned them to church, as the old Albigenses, or the Quakers in where, having prayed and been examined latter times; and like them, perhaps, in the catechism, they heard mass; their believed that the paces of a promiscuous breakfast was then given them at the dance were so many steps toward Hell. Rector's from the public stores; after But they knew that to this also the which they were led by an elder, who Indians had a strong propensity, and acted both as overseer and censor, to therefore they made dancing a part of all their daily occupations. From the their religious festivities. earliest age the sexes were separated; youths were the performers; the grown Boys and they did not even enter the church by men and all the females assisted only as the same door, nor did woman or girl spectators, apart from each other; the ever set foot within the Jesuit's house. great square was the place, and the Rec


Jesuit Discipline of the Aborigines of Brazil.

[VOL. 2

tor and his Coadjutor were seated in the killed for the feast made a part of the church-porch to preside at the solemnity. spectacle. Seed reserved for the next The performances were dramatic figure- sowing was brought forth to receive a dances, for which the Catholic mythology blessing, and the first fruits of the harvest furnished subjects in abundance. Some- as an offering. The flour-and-water times they were in honour of the Virgin, whose flags and banners were then brought forth; each of the dancers bore a letter of her name upon a shield, and in the evolutions of the dance the whole were brought together and displayed in their just order: at intervals they stopt before her image, and bowed their heads to the ground. Sometimes they represented a battle between Christians and Moors, always to the proper discomfiture of the Misbelievers. The Three Kings of the East formed the subject of another favourite pageant;

another; but that which perhaps gave most delight was the battle between Michael and the Dragon, with all his imps. These stories were sometimes represented in the form of Autos, or Sacred Plays (like the mysteries of our ancient drama), in which no female actors were admitted.

object of Romish idolatry went first, under a canopy, which was borne by the Cacique and the chief magistrates of the town: the royal standard came next: then followed the male inhabitants in military array, horse and foot, with their banners. There was an altar at the head of every street; the sacrament stopped at each, while a mottetto, or anthem, was sung; and the howling of the beasts assorted strangely with these strains, and with the chaunting of the choristers.

Man may be made either the tamest the Nativity of or the most ferocious of animals. The Jesuits' discipline, beginning with birth and ending only with death, ensured that implicit obedience which is the first duty of Monachism, and was the great object of their legislation. overseers who inspected the work of the Indians, there were others who acted as inspectors of their moral conduct, One great festival in every Reduction and when they discovered any misdewas the day of its tutelar saint, when the meanor, clapped upon the offender a boys represented religious dramas; the penitential dress, and led him first to inhabitants of the nearest Reductions the church to make his confession in were invited, and by means of these public, and then into the square to be visits a cheerful and friendly intercourse publicly beaten. It is said that these was maintained. But here, as in most castigations were always received without other Catholic countries, the most splen- a murmur, and even as an act of grace, did spectacle was that which, in the -so completely were they taught to naked monstrosity of Romish superstition, lick the hand which chastised and fed is called the Procession of the Body of them. The children were classed accorGod! On this day the houses were hung ding to their ages, and every class had with the best productions of the Guarani its inspectors, whose especial business it loom, interspersed with rich feather- was to watch over their behaviour; works, garlands, and festoons of flowers. some of these censors stood always beThe whole line of the procession was hind them at church with rods, by help covered with mats, and strewn with of which they maintained strict silence flowers and fragrant herbs. Arches were and decorum. This system succeeded erected of branches wreathed with in effectually breaking own the spirit. flowers, and birds were fastened to them Adults, who had eluded the constant by strings of such length as allowed them superintendance of their inspectors, to fly from bough to bough, and display would voluntarily accuse themselves, and a plumage more gorgeous than the richest ask for the punishment which they had produce of the vegetable world. Wild merited; but by a wise precaution they beasts were secured beside the way, and were not allowed to do this in public till large vessels of water placed at intervals, they had obtained permission, and that in which there were the finest fish, that permission was seldom accorded to the all creatures might thus by their repre- weaker sex. They would often enquire sentatives render homage to the present of the priest if what they had done were Creator! The game which had been or were not a sin; the same system

VOL. 2.]

On Theatrical Amusements,


which rendered their understanding tor- Pope, in condescension to their weakpid, producing a diseased irritability of ness, indulged them with a jubilee every conscience, if that may be called con- year; and on these occasions the Misscience which was busied with the sionaries of the nearest Reductions went merest trifles, and reposed implicitly to assist each other. The Jesuits boast, upon the priest. In consequence of that years would sometimes pass away their utter ignorance of true morality, without the commission of a single and this extreme scrupulosity, one of deadly sin, and that it was even rare to their confessions occupied as much time hear à confession which made absolution as that of ten or twelve Spaniards. The necessary.


My dear G,

From the European Magazine, September 1817.



BEGIN to think that I have under- frequents the theatres may take upon allow, for argument's sake, that he who. taken a task of no easy accomplish- himself to quote in his own favour that ment, in attempting to reason down in half of the line-Miscuit utile dulci— your mind the attachment which you yet I think, he cannot fairly do this unless indulge for theatrical amusements-I the former half be the fact. will, however, suppose, that as far as I tulit punctum."-You see I am willing have gone in exposing that abuse of to indulge your taste by quoting the them into which many of your com- motto upon many a playhouse proscenium. peers have so rashly plunged, to the But for the life of me, G—————, I cannot disgrace of their heads and the degra- see where the utile is to be found in dation of their hearts, I have succeeded throwing away five hours together upon in convincing you of its vulgarity and an insipid spectacle, or stil! more insipid folly:--But it is to be remembered by comedy or modern tragedy, spun out to you, that I placed the reasonableness five formidable acts of love, madness, of your amusive relaxations upon the murder, and suicide, fraught with all wise appropriation of your time.-We their most guilty combinations of crime will set out then, G- -, in my present and evasion, from among which not a letter, with something like a compting- single passage can be extracted that is house estimate of profit and loss, and worth the slightest exertion of the memory, will strike the balance between the profit or that, when recollected, improves either gained by giving-up five hours out of the understanding or the heart. It is the twenty-four to a theatrical represen- certainly, my dear G, a most imtation, and the loss incurred by withdraw- portant point gained, when our pleaures ing so large a proportion of the natural are of such a description as to blend day from the cultivation of your mind themselves with our intellectual progress. by the acquirement of useful knowledge. Something like this has been urged by You will observe, I have applied the those who are attached to theatrical enepithet useful, in this instance, to knowl- tertainment-but it is probable that the edge, in contradistinction to that which plea is made more from an anxiety to you may expect to reap, at a theatre. find an excuse for a favourite amusement Here, perhaps, you will interrupt me, by immoderately indulged in, than with the reminding me, that my topic was amuse- consciousness of the gain being greater ment; and you will tell me, that you than the loss-for they who frequent the do not look for useful knowledge in your theatre, must feel that much time is amusive pursuits. I must conclude, then, that there is employed, and I should wasted which might be more eligibly no improvement in such pursuits; and doing it more to gratify a vacant mind suspect them of if so, I must insist upon it that they had than to turn a vacant hour to the best better be let alone. However, I will account; indeed, I have seldomi met any

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »