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The little piece called Serenade is uncommonly graceful and airy; and though rather too long, we will extract it entire.
Softly the moonlight
And high on the stern Stands the young and the brave, As love-led he crosses The star-spangled wave, And blends with the murmur Of water and grove The tones of the night, That are sacred to love. His gold-hilted sword At his bright belt is hung, His mantle of silk On his shoulder is flung, And high waves the feather, That dances and plays On his cap where the buckle And rosary blaze. The maid from her lattice Looks down on the lake, To see the foam sparkle, The bright billow break, And to hear in his boat, Where he shines like a star, Her lover so tenderly Touch his guitar. She opens her lattice, And sits in the glow Of the moonlight and star-light, A statue of snow; And she sings in a voice, That is broken with sighs, And she darts on her lover The light of her eyes. His love-speaking pantomime Tells her his soulHow wild in that sunny clime Hearts and eyes roll. She waves with her white hand Her white fazzolet, And her burning thoughts flash From her eyes' living jet. The moonlight is hid In a vapour of snow!
Her voice and his rebeck
And the music is still.' Our limits do not permit us to make a farther selection of the smaller pieces. Besides them, the volume contains the tragedy, of which we have already spoken; some miscellaneous poems in a more sustained and elevated character; and Prometheus, a discursive and philosophical poem, in a hundred and sixty two stanzas of the Spenserian measure. This seems to us—though highly unequal-the most vigorous and powerful poetry which the volume contains. Not a few of these verses have all the dark sententiousness of Byron, clothed in an uncommonly easy versification. The following will, we think, justify the remark:
In tender childhood, pointed to the goal,
My dark, distracted being where fiends keep
Of early fond attachments. Like the slaves
Where not a ray of hope comes, I must pour
The soul, that had its hone with me, was bright,
So bright the stream of mind within me flowed,
Where Truth has reared her awful throne, and pure
Its coward head in pleasure's lap and drink
Of endless woe and ruin
To feel a heart within thee, tender, flowing
Unknown, unvalued, and to quench the flame Of mind in some low slough, and bid farewell to fame :' &c. The Prometheus, like most of the other pieces, breathes a melancholy spirit too deep not to be real. We should sincerely regret that powers, so fine as Mr Percival evidently posses
ses, should want that self-consciousness, which they ought to inspire, or should feel a doubt of that public favour, they so truly deserve : and though he probably does not rely on any thing he has yet written, as giving him a fair title to the rank of a classical American poet, yet we feel no hesitation in saying, that he shares with few the gifts, which might make
Art. II.–Views of Society and Manners in America; in a
series of letters from that country to a friend in England, during the years 1818, 1819 and 1820. By an English
From the first London edition, with additions and corrections by the author. 8vo, pp. 387. New York, 1821.
This work has been so extensively read in America, that a review of it, at the present time, may seem unnecessary. As it forms, however, in many respects a contrast with other works of the same class, and is distinguished for its flattering tone toward our country, it might seem a failure in respect to so courteous a foreigner, to allow her work to pass unnoticed. We cannot, at the same time, but feel ourselves under much embarrassment in speaking of it. Like all human productions, it has, of course, its imperfections ; but as American critics, it would seem a piece of rudeness to be at pains to gather up these, from the pages in which our character, manners, and institutions are so advantageously portrayed. On the other hand, our country, not to say our own poor labours, is so handsomely eulogized by this polite stranger, that we should be thought perhaps to speak under prepossession, if we were very forward in maintaining the merits of her book.
We know not, in fact, a less enviable task than that of the traveller, who uedertakes to publish an account of a short visit to a foreign country, and feels at all concerned for the reception his book may meet with in that country. It is impossible in a short visit, or even in a long visit, to become so thoroughly acquainted with a country, considerably different in character from your own, as not to be constantly exposed to mistakes in detailed statements of its peculiarities. Then the traveller, who is well received, falls into some circle, which has its local or political party; he becomes imbued with their feelings, and