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English language, and can impress a just sense of its genius
And reeds and lyres, their Dorian melody,
And throngs, with laurel-boughs before the altar bending." Here every thing is indistinct, and unmeaning: there is a straining after force and effect, without attaining it; like an ill-favoured woman rouging and blanching, and all to make herself more hideous than before. No doubt, there is also án uncertainty and vagueness of conception, which has no small share in producing a correspondent cloudiness in the expressions; it is at once cause and effect; fit et facit. If Mrs. Hemans talks of " hymn-notes,” which is a delicate monster of hers, others of inferior taste and judgment, will have their majestio " song-notes,” their military
“ march notes," and their enchanting “ quadrille-notes." We own we cannot even guess at the meaning of "night-o'erpeopling deud;" but by a fair verbal analogy we shall soon bave the " lund dispeopling" essay of Malthus or the “ land-o'erpeopling” answer of Godwin. Surely Mrs. Hemans cannot regnire to be told that the printer's-devil's hyphen hath not that potent magic in it, that it should make those words one, wbich logic, and universal grammar, have put asunder. By this process, his Majesty's revenue might be detrauded to a ruinons and indefinite extent; for if an attorney may write seventy-two words in a folio, and he be a bad and ill-disposed subject, he has nothing to do but to fetter ten or twelve substantive words together, like the galley-slaves in Don Quixote, and he may plead stoutly, that they are all but one word. In the-ever-memorable-and-never-to-be-forgotten-pages of the Morping-Post, abundantly-and-forcibly-displayed authority may be found for this practice; but every body knows that
the newspapers are not written in English, any more than the Scotch novels, or Mr. Irving's orations.
It requires a fine ear, and an exquisite apprehension of idiom not to err in inventing new compounds ; yet there is one plain rule which logic teaches in its rudiments, viz. that the two compounds produce a tertium aliquid, the two words inake a third word. "If the two words retain two senses, what is the use of connecting them together? Thus Mrs. Hemans invents «
hymn-notes,” which can mean nothing more than the “ notes of a hymn;" the two words preserving their individuality in their forced union, like a man and a wife, whom inatrimony, having been a matter of money, have united with out identifying. Milton invents “ wood-notes,” which do not
“the notes of a wood!” but notes or poetry of a wild and sylvan character, and perhaps something more which is felt in the compound “wood-notes," though not existing in the long paraphrase.
“ Sun-burst" is really an outrage upon the language of this country.
“ Noon-day-night," is a bull.
The sins against technical grammar in this volume are many; the sins against logical grammar are innumerable. Mrs. Hemans must remember, that “ broke," &c. are solecisms, and that the frequent use of them in our best writers, is an authority, but no reason. “ It was Alvar Fañez came!” is not only bad grammar, but what is worse, and more extraordinary, a specimen of a very common London vulgarism.
These are blemishes, but they are blemishes only; they obscure and weaken, but do by no means eclipse the light. It is in the belief of the genuine strength of that light, that we have ventured to point out freely a few of the most apparent obstacles to its attaining its full and meridian brightness. Poetry is Mrs. Hemans vocation certainly; let it be her study. Let her aim at more concentration of thought, more intenseness of feeling, more austerity of style. Let her before all things check that tendency to extreme diffuseness which enervates the most vigorous conception. Let her be sparing in the use of similes and compounded words, which always indicate real imbecility under the garb of power ; in excess they are the epicurism of poetry. Lastly, let her not write too much, if it can be avoided ; the act is injurious to her intellect, and the publication of the trifles detrimental to her reputation. There are many pieces in this volume, which we shall not mention, that had been better left in the Monthly, or Edinburgh Magazines, or deposited in the archives of that foolish body of people, who meet in London, under the name
of Eisteddvod, (as we copy it,) and celebrate Welsh bardism, and Far Faliessin and Hoel, and so forth, "in the sun's face, beneath the eye of light," forsooth; when it is an even wager that these precious Bards must pay for candles to read their speeches by. This and Mr. Irving's preaching, are the two greatest bumbugs in London.
In order to leave a sweet savour on the intellectual palates of our readers, we will conclude with a few fine lines from the Siege of Valencia.
“ For me, my part is done!
« My child !--What dream
« Death's !
“ Nay, speak not thus !
" Why should not He, whose touch dissolves our chain,
Put on his robes of beauty when he comes
They should not all be fearful !—If his call
Art. IX. Italy. A Poem by Samuel Rogers. Part the
First. 1823. To tread in the path where the steps of genius have trodden before, and to hope that flowers may be gathered which its eye has failed to discover, would appear to afford little prospect of success. Every spot which it has consecrated, acquires an interest so exquisite and perfect, that all succeeding attempts, unless supported by an equal claim, are viewed with jealousy. The scenes which it bas depicted, the events around which it has shed its halo, and the minutest circumstance to which its glance has been directed, become ballowed memorials, to be approached in future only by the gifted few. Of all the regions which have been the theme of poetry, none have been ealogised with such warmth of fancy, and such enthusiasm of praise as Italy. It is the land in which the lyre was first struck, that recalled the remembrance of the melody of Greece, in her best and happiest days. It was here that the illustrious band of orators, poets, and philosophers was gathered, whose labours have been the treasure of succeeding ages. And when Europe bad again sunk into the profoundest intellectual darkness, it was from “the eternal City” that the day-beam arose which was to shed its lustre over the whole civilized world. Even in more modern times it has formed the centre in which is collected all that can feast the eye, or delight the imagination. The arts have here flourished as in their native soil, while the rich and beautiful garb in which nature has clothed herself, renders it the scene to which the painter and the poet have alike delighted to direct the efforts of their genius. There are few names which have been enrolled “ inter amabiles choros” whose writings do not afford allusions to this classic land : and the number is not small of those who have made it the single theme of their most successful attempts. It would therefore appear almost rash, for any one who was not conscious of higher energy, or more powerful fancy, to hope that he can producc a better delineation of scenes which have been so often pourtrayed, or a new combination of images which have been so frequently, and so ably selected. Yet adventurers are still to be found on every side who are eager to solicit the notice of their reader to the observations which circumstances, or the peculiarities of their character have induced them to form': and the press continually teems with the volumes which the actual tourist and the imaginary traveller are offering to the world. No attraction of title or novelty of design has been left untried, which might afford a hope of linking the name of a writer with the remembrance of a country to wbich from boyhood our regards have been directed. Among those who have made it the subject of poetical effusions, the author whose work is before us, seems to claim some attention from the degree of celebrity.which he acquired by his early productions. It would be in vain to institute a comparison between these and the present poem, but we cannot forbear to express a wish that instead of diverging into a track in which even the merit of success must be shared with numerous competitors, be had confined himself to the simple delineation of feeling and domestic scenes, in which he had so few rivals.
The poet commences his tour at Geneva, from which he pursues the usual route to the Alps, Como, Venice, and Florence in the neighbourhood of which he coneludes what the title page announces, to be the first part of his work. It contains several episodes taken, as the preface inforins us, from the Old Chroniclers. Of these bowever, several have been the subject of an abler pen ; and the others are for the most part possessed of so little interest as to deserve no better fate than the obscurity from which they were drawn. We look in vain for rich, and vivid description of the lovely scenery by which the traveller is on every side surrounded; or for the expression of deep and ardent feeling which the subject might be expected to awaken in ai cultivated, and poetical mind. There are perhaps not many passages which sink below mediocrity, but on the other hand there are none to which the mind 'recurs, or upon which it dwells with delight. There are few traces of that energy of thought, that
mens divinior” which is the never-failing accompaniment of true genins.
We may quote as a favourable specimen of the general style, the lines which are devoted to the society of monks on the summit of the Great Saint Bernard, the retreat to which active, unobtruding charity has retired from the view, and the praise of men, to discharge in its noblest form, the duty of Christian benevolence. After describing his own recep: