Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

pp. 176. 6s. 60.

is no where a copyist; that he takes sensible lines in the entire introduction his images and descriptions from nature are six, which he puts into the mouth alone, and that he always views nature of his reader by way of objection to with the inspired eyes of painting and his winding and irrelevant manner. poetry. In “ Bracebridge Hall," there. We could never have imagined that it fore, -Tout prends un corps, une ame, was to serve as a preface to a descripun esprit, un visage.

tion of a Vale in Savoy, as almost the entire of it is taken up with Scotland,

and The Vale of Chamouni, a Poem

The splendour of the Caledonian arms." By the Author of “ Rome.” 8vo.

The poem itself begins with an ad. dress, not to Apollo, or any of his daugh

ters, nor indeed to any sentient or inThe reader is naturally led to expect, telligent being, but to his own “shatterfrom the title of the present work, a ed bark !" by which we are unhappily descriptive poem, in which he will be to understand his own poetical genius; led through all the secret retreats, and that genius which guided him in his romantic wildernesses of nature. He former attempt. His “ Rome" he thinks will expect to wander promiscuously has been so severely treated by the through those sublime, beautiful and critics, that his poetical bark has been picturesque scenes which she has scat- shattered by their radeness. He seems tered with lavish hand over certain to wonder, however, that so well built portions of the globe, and to return a bark could suffer wreck, and therefrom his poetic excursion laden with fore introduces her shattered condition all the treasures which imagination can with a note of admiration,-“ Poorbestow. “ The Vale of Chamouni," or, shattered bark!" He comforts her, indeed, any vale forming the subject of however, by telling her that she was a poem, naturally leads the mind through superior to all the storms that opposed a labyrinth of rural associations, and her course;-if so, we are at some loss descriptive scenery; but in one half of to discover by what means she was the poem before us, and in the entire u shattered." of the introduction, the external beau. The poet, after contemplating the ties of nature are seldom presented to injuries which he had received from the wistful eye of imagination; and we the critics in his former poetic attempt, are obliged to be contented with nar- turns to Switzerland, and takes an opratives as little related to each other, portunity of lamenting the evils of slaas the proscriptions of Sylla to the very.—The author is a strong advocate loves of Pyramis and Thisbe. We can for liberty; but yet there is a levity in perceive no connection between the his muse which we cannot easily reconlinks that connect two different scenes cile with that sacred flame which freeor relations together; and we revolt dom inspires. He skips about perpeat the unnatural manner in which we tually, without rhyme or reason, so that are thrust forward, and obliged to wade he seldom produces a deep effect. He through the recital of circumstances bas evidently a talent for rhyming, for and events, which have as little con- his versification is smooth, and seems nection with the “Vale of Chamouni,"or to be executed with great facility; but with each other, as those which we what he has gained in facility, he has have just mentioned. The author pre- lost in dignity. He gives a very pleasfaces his poem with a poetical intro- ing description of the “ capricious duction of four hundred and four lines, taste" exemplified in the costume of supposed to be written at Inverness. the Helvetians, and of prospects from The chief and prevailing fault of this Ferney and the Jura Mountains; but poem is, that there is no obvious con- in the entire of the first part of his nection between its different parts; poem, which forms half the work, he that every time the subject changes, it never leads us once to the “ Vale of changes capriciously; that the pre- Chamouni,” which is the proper subvailing idea in one part, section, or pa. ject of his song. All this part is preragraph, does not suggest that which paratory to an arrival at the Vale, and immediately follows; and that, conse- in most parts as little connected with quently, every paragraph seems a dis- it as the introduction. To this, how. tinct poem in itself. The entire of the ever, we have no other objection than introduction is a series of unconnected its disagreeing with the title of the thoughts; and the whole of them put work, for the poet leads us occasiontogether has no connection with the ally through a variety of pleasing " Yale of Chamouni.” Indeed, the only scenes and interesting relations, which Eur. Mag. Vol. 82.

H

are suggested by other parts of Swit- Browne. His “Pseudodoxia Epidemizerland. Nor are we merely entertain- ca, or Vulgar Errors,” his “ Quincunx," ed with descriptive scenes and beauti- and “ Religio Medici," have been proful landscapes, but the persons whom perly omitted by the editor of the prethey commemorate are also introduced sent edition, the former being too long to us, and agreeably diversify those to appear, except in a complete edition pictures of external nature which the of his works; and the latter too apt to poet describes, and which would other create sceptical views of things which, wise possess too still and sombre a even if ideal, constitute a great portion character to give any permanent plea- of our real happiness; and which consure. The poet has therefore very art- sequently it can be neither wisdom nor fully, but at the same time very judi- philosophy to explode, could even their ciously, made Voltaire, Madame de inexistence be mathematically demonStael, Gibbon, Rousseau, Frederic Es. strated. There is another reason why chen, &c. appear in different parts of we think that the tracts contained in his painting, so that he leads us very, this edition bave been selected with agreeably through Bonneville, Clusę, great judgment by the present editor, Cavern of Balme, Groves of Magland, namely, because it is from these very Cascade of Balme, the Savoyard, &c. tracts that Sir Thomas Browne has been till he brings us within the sight of justly called the most extraordinary the “ Vale of Chamouni."

writer in the English language. His Our limits oblige us to leave our other works are not of so unique and poet and our readers at the entrance of determined a character, and in perusthis sublime and awful vale. Such of ing them, we cannot always discover them as love the grand and the terrific from the style alone, that they are his of nature must peruse this part of the productions. They are not like the poem with mingled astonishment and present tracts, a mirror that always redelight. The poet has certainly di- Alects a faithful picture of the original, vested himself of a great portion of Here he is always himself, and we can that levity of manner which characte- never mistake him for any other Engrizes his introduction particularly. He

Jish writer. His singularity appears seems to have written the last part of as well in his style as in his manner of his poem, or the description of the vale thinking. We are always at a loss to itself, under the awful impressions, know whether he is serious or in jest ; which the surrounding scenes are cal for even when he is evidently jesting, culated to inspire in every breast, that he puts on a serious face, and addresses responds to the influences and harmo- us so gravely, that we can hardly think nies of the sublimer productions of na- him otherwise than in earnest. Yet ture. This is no slight evideuce of there is no obscurity in his style : his rising genius. The dupce, and the diction is always so clear and perspi. writer of heavy intellect, puts forth all cuous, that he who runs may read. his energies at the first onset, and af- But though his style is clear, it is still terwards sinks into tame insipidity; as characteristic of him as his manner but the writer of native genius, though of thinking. He is full of elisions, so in his first attempts he betrays at every full, indeed, that it is impossible to step the faults, which unavoidably cling omit a word in any sentence which he to inexperience and want of maturer has not omitted himself. judgment, still rises progressively in To a reader not accustomed to this strength and vigour, and gives new in- style, it may possess a slight degree of terest to every scene and situation obscurity at first; but we only read a which he describes. The defects of few pages when this obscurity vanishes, the work before us result, we believe, and we are only surprized to meet with from this source alone; it has many a verb where it could be omitted. In beauties to compensate for its faults, imitation of the Latins, he is fond of and even its faults contain latent cvi- the inverted style, and has a good deal dences of the author's genius, and of Montaigne in his manner of thinkprove themselves to be only the blame, ing, except that he always keeps to his less offspring of inexperience.

subject more or less, while Montaigne frequently takes us into a new world

altogether. They agree however in Tracts by Sir Thomas Browne, this, that Montaigne is always seeking Knight, M.D. 12mo.

pp. 183. Edin

for objections to what he advances

himsell, while Sir Thomas is eternally burgh, 1822.

qualifying his assertions by the intro. The work before us does not contain duction of some unexpected idea, that all the productions of șir Thomas always serves to render them more written by himself, in his native dialashes the fanatics of his time :

a

agrecable, or more disagreeable, than if talents to other pursuits, we cannot they had stood by themselves. He venture to determine. treats of the most important matters as

One science only will one genius fit, if they were the most unimportant, and

So vast is art, so narrow buman wit. vice versa. He makes us pleased with what is actually displeasing to us, or

We have already observed, that he rearchly affects to believe we are pleased;

sembles Montaigne in one feature of but when he presents us with a delight- his manner: we may add that, in his ful image, he immediately prevents us general manner, he resembles Erasmus from enjoying it, by associating it with more tban any other writer. The ediother images which either entirely de

tor* is entitled to all the merit which stroy, or at least greatly diminish the an editor can claim, the exercise of a pleasure which they would otherwise chaste and correct judgment, the impart. He is perhaps of all writers work is printed with neatness and elethe most witty in his way, and yet no gance,--and we strongly recommend it man knew better how to conceal his to our readers. wit. He never affects to know that what he says is calculated to provoke us or make us laugh. He generally

Memoirs of the Life of Artemi. means the contrary of what he says, and praises always when he intends to 8vo. pp. 374. 12s. censure. Of this the following passage This is the biography of an Armenian, is a beautiful example, in which he

lect, which he afterwards translated “ Pious spirits who passed their days in rap

into the Russian language, from which tares of futurity made little more of this world it has been renderd into English. The than the world that was before it, while they faithful painting of Asiatic characters lay obscure in the chaos of pre-ordination and night of their forebodings. And if they be so

and manners, not by a European travelhappy as truly to understand Christian annibi. ler, but by a simple native, is new to lation, extasies, exolution, liquefaction, trans- our literature, and delights from its no. formation, the kiss of the spouse, gustation of God, and ingussion into the divine shadow, they

velty; but the chief charm of the book have already had a handsome anticipation of

is its simplicity of views and of style, hearen. The glory of the world is surely over, in which latter respect it has, we susand the earth in ashes unto them, To subsist in lasting monuments, to live in

pect, lost much by its travelling into their productions, to exist in their names and

English through the medium of Russia. predicament of chimeras was large satisfaction The work gives us a terrible view of to old expectations, and made one part of their the ferocity of our nature when untamclysium. But all this is nothing in the metaphysics of true belief. To live indeed is to be

ed by education and philosophy; shew. again ourselves, which being not only a hope ing the wretched state of Society, when but an evidence in noble believers, it is all one regular governments and permanent to lie in St. Innocent's church-yard as in the sands of Egypt. Ready to be any thing in the

institutions do not exist to protect life extasy of being ever, and as content with six and property, or do not produce an feet as the moles of Adrianus."

amelioration of individual character. -Tabesné cadavera solvat

Artemi's simplicity evinces itself even Au rogus haud refert.

from the first line of his preface, where

he tells us that the catalogue and jourWe have only to add that the little nal of his sufferings and misbaps were work before us is an imperishable mo- noted down, at his mother's command, nument of the author's genius. We merely to shew the goodness of God will not say but he might have directed towards him. He was born at Wagarshis talents to higher purposes; but as chapat, near Mount Ararat, on the 20th genius converts whatever it touches in. of April, 1774, his father being “ a to gold, we are so pleased with every skilful cutter and polisher of precious thing coming from his pen, that we stones." His history of his mother, and would hardly wish him to have written of her maternal parent, is the most simon any other subjects than those on

ple and moving representation of the which he has written, or at least we strong natural affection of a mother for would not exchange the pleasure, which her offspring that we ever read. This they have imparted to us, for the specu- universal feature of our nature suplative satisfaction which we might have ported these two unfortunate creatures possibly enjoyed, had be directed bis ihrough as much of cruelty and suffertalents to subjects of sublimer interests. ing as the most ferocious could inflict, We know what he has done: what he or as the most patient could support. might have done, had he directed his There is a story told of his mother

A Gentleman whose high talents and extensive acquirements are not unknown to the Jiterary world.

having been stolen from her parent at way of Constantinople-about as awkfour years old, and being purchased ward a journey as a man in these disby a benevolent Persian of wealth, was turbed times of the East could well unbrought up by the old man as his daugh- dertake. May good fortune restore ter and betrothed to his son. But the him to a safe and comfortable old age, mother having, after a long and ardu- for his biography has interested our ous search, discovered her child in the feelings, and has afforded us a day of house of the Persian, by one quarter pleasurable study. of an hour's rhapsody about saints and martyrs, creates in the girl an abhorrence of Mahometanism, weans all her affections from her kind old protector, The Lollards, a Tale. By the and makes her desert him, in spite of

Author of “ The Mystery," and of all his tears and entreaties. This is practically shewing the dreadful effects “ Calthorpe." London, 1822. of proselytism and religious difference, unaccompanied by good sense and hu- The Author of this book is already manity; and we sympathize with the known to our readers, as we have had good old man when he exclaims in his occasion to notice his former works; anguish, “ kindness has no effect on and his last novel of “ Calthorpe" de these unfeeling, ungrateful creatures." manded and received at our hands an But Artemi loses his father at four acknowledgement of its very superior months old, and his widowed mother merit. But the work now before us is struggles through every privation, and of a species totally distinct from its supports numerous cruelties to maintain

predecessors; and however well the her children, and to rear Artemi for author of " Calthorpe” may have estathe church, which was the object of blished bis claim to the general characher piety and of her ambition, as well ter of a good novelist, he has now as of her affection for her son. In entered into a new field, and it becomes Wagarschapat there were seven hun- necessary to examine, de noro, the dred houses, and we suppose about powers and capability of his mind and three thousand inbabitants, of which it pen. The book before us is not a mere appears only ten could read. Poor commentary upon human passions, and Artemi's literary proficiency excited a nicely constructed series of incidents so much envy on the part of his supe- and story, intended to interest and deriors, as to bring down upon himself light the imagination; but it aspires and mother numerous taunts, as well as to the loftier task of identifying remote cuffs and blows from both laymen and and important matters of history with the Christian priesthood of Armenia; the occurrences of private life, and the who certainly appear to be as arrant a customs and habits of private society. set of scoundrels as we ever read of. It is easy to conceive, that this is no Poor Artemi is very sensible, a great cominan undertaking, if it be executed moralizer, very superstitious, and cre- with accuracy and success. The difdulous. He suffers much for conscience ficulty does not alone consist in the sake, and more, it would seem, from comparative scarcity of materials, from his untoward destiny. His adventures which the necessary information is to be are numerous, and told in a style of derived. It is greatly increased by the affecting simplicity-at length Artemi taste of the age, which leads a large escapes to the Russians, and eventually portion of the literary world to the gets to St. Petersburgh, where, how. very sources of that information, with ever, new tribulations commence. After a thirst too insatiable to be satisfied, his long catalogue of disasters, drub- though the fountain yielded its waters, bings, and of " moving accidents by like the rock at the touch of the proflood and field,” the humble and amia- phet. There is a prevailing rage for ble creature concludes by a “ Praise historical and antiquarian research, be to God who has prospered me in which renders it utterly impossible, such manifold ways," although a life that an author should deceive or blunof less prosperity it is not very easy to der without detection; or assume facts imagine. However, Artemi at last rea- for the sake of convenience without lizes an humble competence, he gets to a tolerable shew of data upon which to Paris, acts as a commercial agent for found his assumption. There is a close the Armenians at St. Petersburgh, and, illustration of this in “ the Lollards,” as if enamoured of his disastrous pere- to which there is a learned and a candid, grinations, he cannot content himself as well as modest preface, apologising with ease, quiet, and security, but starts for some slight anachronisms, and ela on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem by the borately attempting to justify other

important departures · from received observation. Although the style, coupé, opinions. The chief point, upon which and antitheses, be peculiarly adapted to he has adopted such a course, is in Aphorisms, we cannot agree with Mr. relation to the era at which the art of Colton in his opinion upon the beauty prioting was discovered, as he makes of antitheses, as a figure, nor can we use of that discovery for the purposes agree with him in his possessing the of his work at a period considerably power of avoiding it in his more lengthantecedent to the time, at which it has ened pieces, for reading his preface, or been generally supposed to have taken the first ten lines of his Critique on Don place. And it must be admitted, in Juan, would convince us, that he even candour, that although the casche

thinks in antithesis. Some of these makes out may not be a perfect one, Aphorisms are so long and diffuse, that yet it is sufficiently conclusive to war- they are rather essays, or short sermons. rant its particular application. Our -Others are trite, containing nothing opinion of this work, upon its general of novelty in the matter, or of supemerits, is decidedly a favourable ope. riority in the form, such as Nos. 1. 3, 4. If we discover imperfections in the de- 8. 59. 83. 88, 89, 90. 96. 282.-Some of tail, we do not find the author wanting the best are, 7. 11. 13. 15. 35. 48.73 77. in the greater qualities of mind and 81. 91. &c. Many are very bad, such, acquirement, which it is necessary that for instance, as Nos. 16. 18. or both he should possess. His research has obvious and hacknied, such as 71. 84. been sufficiently extensive to enable &c.; whilst others, as we have before him to unfold the obscurities of history, observed, are mere essays; and, we must and to connect them with life and the add, being written in the style of Aphoactions of men. He has done this, not risms, are by no means pleasing essays. only with the delightful interest and We like Mr. Cotton's longer pieces the vivid colouring which attract and charm least : for instance, the Number 62, the general mass of readers; but with upon Materialism, contains nothing of an accuracy and general fidelity that fact, but what the writings of Laurence, may defy the most cynical of antiqua- Brown, Rennell, and the Reviews and ries. His motto is fully exemplified; Magazines of the day have rendered, for truly in his pages do “ forgotten we should almost say, nauseously comgenerations live again."

mon; whilst as to reasoning upon those facts, Mr. Colton displays a total igno

rance of the arguments. Mr. Colton Lacon; or, Many Things in Few

ought to know, that Analogy affords no

grounds of probability” in favour of Words. Vol. II. 8vo. 7s. 6d. pp. any religion, nor does it even prove, 266.

that religion is not improbable; all that

it can prove is, that it is not unnatural That, which we dislike the most of or absurd. This is the only use that this work, is its title. A book, wbich Bishop Butler professes to make of tells us many things in a few words, Analogy, and that orthodox and excelpossesses no ordinary degree of merit, lent reasoner, Dr. Reid, confines Anaand we think that the author might as logy to the same bounds. The critique well have selected some less quaint on Don Juan coutains many good oband assuming name, leaving the merits servations, but where Mr. Colton proof the work to elicit such a panegyric; nounces stanzas to be obscene or blasif it could, from its readers. The work, phemous, he might as well have avoided however, does really contain many very quoting them; and he never blames the good things, which we are rather sur- poet's morals without accompanying his prised at, as the first volume was replete censure with such bigh commendations with so much of similar matter, that we of his genius and powers, as to give us thought it must have exbausted any some suspicion that he is hardly in earprivate store-house of even more than nest; or that he is falling within the ordinary profundity. The present vo- observation contained in his fourteenth lume contains two hundred and eighty. Aphorism. Mr. Colton, in the third three Aphorisms, a long Critique upon page of this critique, tells us, that "the Lord Byron's Don Juan, and the author's Morality of Pope is too neutralized to Poem upon the Conflagration of Mos- do good.” What he means by tbis, we cow, now printed with many additions, do not know; and we suspect he does The Aphorisms do not possess the style not know himself. As to the magnaof epigrammatic paradox, or the bril nimity of sacrificing Moscow, we must liant turn so peculiar to Rochefoucalt, observe, that in poetry such a view of but they evince a power of profound the case is allowable-only let us rethinking, as well as a habit of acute member that those, who fired the city,

[ocr errors]
« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »