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There are many topics and circumstances of much interest included in these volumes, to which our limits will not permit us to advert. But we should represent imperfectly the character of Columbus, were we to leave unnoticed his deep and enthusiastic religious impressions. In all his trials and adventures, he believed himself under the particular guidance of Heaven, selected and ordained to accomplish some predetermined and sublime design, and to promote essentially the great cause of the Church and of the Cross. Thus while he considered his maritime discoveries as evidences of this divine favour, he viewed them only as means preparing the way for events in his mind of far greater magnitude. The ultimate object to which he conceived or hoped himself to be destined, his earliest wish, his latest desire, was the recovery of the Holy Land and the Sepulchre of Christ from the power
of the infidels. To this purpose, his views were unremittingly directed. In his conversations, in his journal, even in the letters describing his brilliant discoveries, he rejoices in them frequently as promising to furnish treasures for this great and holy enterprise. When he considered power and wealth to have been secured to him, he solemnly engaged himself to furnish in seven years fifty thousand foot soldiers and five thousand horse for the conquest of Jerusalem, and an additional force of like amount within five years afterwards. Even in his last will and testament, executed but a few days before his death, he reverts to the same topic, lamenting that all the treasure derived from his discoveries, had not been appropriated by his sovereigns to this pious undertaking, and directing his heir to collect all his wealth and deposit it in the Bank of St. George, at Genoa, and permit it to accumulate until the amount should authorise him to undertake the project on Jerusalem with his own means, or in the train of his sovereign, should he be induced to engage in this holy enterprise.
We have remarked in the course of our observations, that Columnbus died ignorant of the real nature and extent of his discoveries. The concluding observations of Mr. Irving are so beautiful, that although often quoted, we shall, nevertheless, insert them.
" With all the visionary fervour of his imagination, its fondest dreams fell short of the reality. He died in ignorance of the real grandeur of his discovery. Until his last breath, he entertained the idea that he had merely opened a new way to the old resorts of opulent commerce, and had discovered some of the wild regions of the east. He supposed Hispaniola to be the ancient Ophir, which had been visited by the ships of Solomon, and that Cuba and Terra Firma were but remote parts of Asia. What visions of glory would have broke upon his mind,
could he have known that he had indeed discovered a new continent, equal to the whole of the old world in magnitude, and separated by two vast oceans from all the earth hitherto known by civilized man; and how would his magnanimous spirit have been consoled, amidst the chills of
age, and cares of penury, the neglect of a fickle public, and the injustice of an ungrateful king, could he have anticipated the splendid empires which were to spread over the beautiful world he had discovered, and the nations and tongues and languages which were to fill its lands with his renown, and to revere and bless his name to the latest posterity!” Vol. iii. p. 202.
Even in the appendix to this work, the interest is still sustained. Many questions are there discussed, which have an intimate relation to the life, character or discoveries of Columbus, and all of them will be read with pleasure. We cannot conclude without remarking, that a chapter on the actual state of science, at the close of the fifteenth century, and some philosophic inquiries into the condition of the natives on the islands of Cuba and Hispaniola, would be valuable additions to this work, and that some repetitions might well be rétrenched from his many descriptions of tropical scenery and savage life, nor while noticing these slight blemishes, can we close without expressing a hope that the success which has attended Mr. Irving in this undertaking, may induce him to continue his researches in the same rich mine. Many subjects crowd upon the recollection full of striking and magnificent incidents, furnishing to the poet or historian, themes for grave discussion, or for lofty and impassioned strains, and bearing to our own country relations intimate, important and of increasing magnitude.
ART. II.--A Rhyming Dictionary, answering at the same time
the purposes of spelling and pronouncing the English Language, on a plan not hitherto attempted. By J. WALKER, Author of the Critical Pronouncing Dictionary. A new edition. London. 1824.
ALTHOUGH our author notices in his introduction, the sketches of Poole and Byshe, he does not seem to have been aware, that lexicons of the same description as his own, existed among the Arabians of Spain, more than one thousand years before. The
Abbé Giovanni Andres, a chief admirer and advocate of Arabic literature, informs us, in his work “Dell' origine, de' progressi e dello stato attuale d'ogni Letteratura,” that there are in the library of the Escurial, many Arabic dictionaries, in which the words are found, (as in Walker's) not by the initial but by the final letters.*
Richelet, a French jurisconsult of the seventeenth century, published “Un petit Dictionnaire de Rimes,” which, if we credit the Abbe du Bos, was to the French poets a boon, equal to that conferred on the scholars of the first years of the sixteenth century, by the Latin Lexicon, called “Gemma Gemmarum." The Abbé appears to take a malicious pleasure in thus rallying the poets of France—“In endeavouring to surmount these, (difficulties of rhyme) he (the French poet) meets with the assistance of a dictionary of rhymes, that favourite book of all severe rhymers. For, let these gentlemen say what they will, there are none of them, but have this excellent work in their studies.” The Abbé Sabathier (Desessart's Siecles Literaires de la France, vol. v. p. 297) seems to think Richelet's book only fit for those, whom he calls “ les penibles rimeurs.” “Le nom de Richelet tient encore au souvenir du public, par un ouvrage, qui prouve que les petites choses, sont quelquefois capables de sauver de l'oubli."
There is one advantage, which rhyme possesses over blank verse; and although we cannot cite authority for the opinion, we venture it as the experience of every poet, who has cultivated this department of verse. D'Alembert remarks in his Essay on Taste, that reason itself, is obliged, on some occasions, to make certain sacrifices to rhyme. But this is equally true of the versification employed by Homer, and Virgil, and Milton. “He that writes in rhymes," as Prior tells us, “dances in fetters;" but so did Pindar and Horace. Now, the advantage of rhyme over every other species of verse, lies in this, that the very difficulty of obtaining suitable words, leads directly in the search, to new ideas, suggested by the successive words, which the poet is endeavouring to accommodate to the preceding line. Every such writer has frequently found, that some of his best ideas and happiest forms of expres
* La rima era telmente in uso presso gli Arabi, fino da piu antichi tempi, che anche negli scritti prosaici si vede frequentemente adoperata. Nella biblioteca dell' Escuriale si trovano molti Arabici dizionarii, ne' quali non si debbono cercare le parole, come si usa comunemente in simiglianti libri, nelle lettere iniziali, ma bensi nelle finali; perciocchè tanto è il diletto che si prendono gli Arabi della rima, che più hanno in pensiero la desinenza e l'ultime lettere delle parole, che non quelle, con cui cominciano.” Tom. sec. p. 201.
sion have arisen, in this manner, from the accidental associations of similar sounds. How far the crowd of such terminations, afforded by the Dictionary of Walker, may enhance or impair this advantage, none but the poets, who plead guilty to the pleasant accusation of Da Bos, can determine.
When the peculiar and prevailing character of Arabian verse is considered, it cannot be surprising that dictionaries of rhymes, should have been almost coeval with their poetry. The monorhyme, as it is called, is the most common form (Sismondi Lit. du midi de l'Eur, tom. i. p. 101): and it is equally adopted in the ghazelle and the casside, which embrace almost the entire mass of Arabian and Persian poetry. “One favourite rhyme," says Hindley, (Pref. to his Persian Lyrics, p. 13) "is characteristic of each ghazelle, and invariably terminates every couplet.” Such poems are written in distichs: the first line of each baving, no rhyme; but the second, throughout the poem, having the same termination. It is thus with the moallakát or works of the Arabian Pleiades, suspended in the Caaba at Mecca. There are but six rhymes (li, di, mi, ha, mi, ma, and ao) in the seven poems, each having one prevailing final sound, from the second to the last line, (Works of Sir William Jones, vol. iv. p, 245, 4to.) In the composition of such verses, it is obvious, that the Arabian poets would have to contend with difficulties of perpetual recurrence, and not less formidable in a poem of similar length, than those of Pindar, when he rejected, in the structure of an ode, every word containing the letter S.* We know not whether the Persian poet has ever had the same advantages as the Arabian; but neither certainly could make any progress, compared with the couplet or even octave rhymers of modern Europe, without the aid of a rhyming lexicon. Such a work would, indeed, be indispensable to the mono-rhymist of the Mohammedan school: and as necessity is man's first instructor, such dictionaries would appear to be the natural offspring of their system of versification.
A dictionary of rhymes would be as unintelligible to a Greek or Roman poet, as an English orator would esteem it useless to have instructions, like those of Dionysius of Halicarnassus, explanatory of the composition of prose sentences from poetical feet. The very fact then, that the character and objects of such
Tryphiodorus, facilè princeps of Lipogrammatists, wrote an Odyssey, in which he omitted each letter of the alphabet successively in the twenty-four books. Indeed, Eustathius says, he excluded the letter 8, from the whole poem. Proba Falconia, (who rote some portions of Scripture History in 700 lines, selected from Virgil) and Publil. Optatianus Porphyrius, (who wrote the Organon, consisting of 52 lines, the first 26 all of the same measure, and each having just 18 letters, the last 26 all hexameters, yet increasing by an additional letter at each step) were worthy compeers of our Lipogrammatic poet. VOL. II.NO. 3.
a lexicon as Walker's, would be incomprehensible to a classic poet, demonstrates the existence of a state of things in modern poetry, entirely unknown to the ancients. Whence has arisen this state of things: in other words, to whom, to what age, to what country, do we owe the invention of rhyme? If, indeed, rhyme deserves the anathema of the French romance of Charlemagne, it would ill merit the pains we are about to expend, in tracing its genealogy. “Nus contes rymés n'en est vrais: tot mensonge ce qu'ils dient." The romances of that day may, perhaps, have been worthy of our chronicler's indignation. But we are fain to believe, that rhyme has been too long and too frequently associated with beauty and sublimity, truth and usefulness, in some of the finest strains of modern poetry, to be now excluded from the literary company of antique verse or modern prose. Rhyme, says Milton, is the modern bondage; and Voltaire writes,
« La rime est necessaire à nos jargons nouveaux;
“ Enfans demi-polis des Normands et des Goths; while the Abbé du Bos calls it “a mere flash, which disappears after having given only a short-lived splendour.” Par. i. c. 36. “Nihil æquè gravitati orationis officit, quàm in sono ludere syllabarum." Voss. de Poem. cant. When a north-country gentleman, surprised at Dryden's admiration of Paradise Lost, exclaimed, “Why, Mr. Dryden, it is not rhyme:" "No," replied the poet, "nor would I have my Virgil in rhyme, if I were to begin it again.” And the same author consécrates this sentiment, in his epistle to Lord Roscommon, when he says
" Then Petrarch followed, and in him we see
" At best, a pleasing sound, and fair barbarity." But assuredly, all who have an accomplished taste, however severely modelled on the classic standard, must admit, that many of the poets of Italy, Spain, France and England, who have written in rhyme, justify the sentiment of the Abbé Batteux, when, having placed side by side, a passage of Virgil and one of Racine, he says, in reference to the latter, “Les Grecs et les Latins auroient admiré ces vers." Doubtless they could not but have admired the rhymed poetry of the masters of the modern school. Their ignorance indecd of the true pronunciation, might possibly have placed them in the situation of Gombaud, as described in his epigram on St. Amand :
* Tes vers sont beaux, quand tu les dis,