Imagens das páginas

being installed the Champion of the Fair Sex, surrender one atom of our just prerogative. Mark, then: when I attribute to your sex a greater share of delicacy of thought and feeling, I am to be understood as speaking merely of society in general, of men and women as they come before us promiscuously in our long walk through the world. For even in these qualities, you are surpassed by the master-spirits of our sex. The elegant soul of Virgil and the exquisite sensibility of Shakspeare, have left you models, which the very best poets of your sex (who are all soul and sensibility) cannot even copy. And this, because it requires the highest degree of intellectual strength to be supremely refined, the most exalted imagination to be acutely sensitive; enthusiasm that can enter passionately and deeply into the intensities of feeling, judgment which can exactly determine the limit between delicacy and effeminacy, so as not to overpass it. But in judgment and enthusiastic ardour of mind, the best of your sex are not on a par with the best of ours; therefore neither in delicacy nor feeling. Ay, let the Flower of Riversdale look as she will; let her endeavour to contract her Madonna brows into something like a frown, and draw up her tucker till she looks as starch and as stern as Queen Bess, if she can; still I assert this opinion: even though she were to offer me the sweetest favour which the fips of a woman have to bestow, as the price of my apostacy, I should (that is, I belee-ee-ve I should) persevere in my ungallantry, in spite of a temptation to which Adam might yield, though it cost him a second Paradise.

But your constitutional delicacy of mind, the fineness of the strings which vibrate in woman's heart, endue your conversation, generally, with a grace, a sweetness, and a sensibility, which our coarser nature and fiercer disposition are unacquainted withal. The very gracility of the female figure bespeaks correspondent delicacy of mind; for it would be absurd to endue a being with rugged tastes, or vehement inclinations, whose bodily structure prohibited their indulgence and exercise. A woman's form is the metaphor of her mind; weak, elegant,

beautiful, but not sublime. Thus, inversely, of men. And now do you understand my creed? and are you still infidels therein? Is it not reasonable and liberal? Is it not borne out on the back of experience, and supported on the shoulders of argument and demonstration? Right or wrong, however; flimsy or firm; pregnable or impregnable; in a word, true or untrue, it is true to me.


This, then, is the reason why I had rather spend an hour in the proximity of a petticoat, than an eternity confronted in bearded dialogue with Plato himself. Not if the lady were old or ugly, somebody will say. To which I reply: that if I entered upon a roomful of ladies, I certainly should not scramble for a double chin or a nut-cracker nose; I most unquestionably should not pitch, with malice prepense, on a preserved virgin, nor make a dead set at a dowager, as bulky and gray, as tressy and tottersome, as the tower of Riversdale Abbey: my excursions over the carpet would converge, I suppose, unconsciously to myself, towards some "Cynosure, some young-eyed, fresh-breathing nymph, who sifted her words through a double gate of pearls, and transfused her ideas into my mind through my eyes as well as my ears. This I am not Stoic (i. e. hypocrite) enough to deny. Beauty bespeaks a favourable audience, though discretion and good sense can alone command our applause. It costs even the most palpable fool, male or female, some trouble of the tongue, to undo the prepossession in his or her favour, which a noble or beautiful presence may have created in our bosoms. But, independent of all such considerations, to me there is a softness, a purity, and a tenderness of feeling, in the general converse of women, which equalizes it fully with the general converse of my own sex. Thoughts and expressions moulded by the understanding and lips of your sex, if less profound, less strenuous, than those we use, are, on a general review of both spe cies, proportionately more refined, more elegant. And in respect of feeling, there is a lyre still strung in every woman's breast, whose chords are ever ready to tremble at every breath of woe. Let but the voice of sorrow strike upon her ear, and im

mediately the little air-drawn lyre reechoes in murmurs of pity from her heart.

To sum up my opinions on this point, and to give a general estimate of what I conceive to be the conversational characteristics of both sexes: In the first place, you frequently meet with men who really do not possess mental energy sufficient, to enable them to propagate articu lative motion from the spirits to the organ of loquacity; their tongues lie in their mouths, because they may as well lie there as out of them, and except for the purposes of deglutition, seem to enjoy a complete sinecure in their bodily system. Now you seldom meet with a woman, who cannot talk, at all events. She is seldom in such a state of mental stupor, seldom so immersed in thoughtless abstraction, but that she can at least exercise, that act of mind which consists in adapting the motions of the tongue to the formation of audible, though perhaps unintelligible sounds and sentences. When you speak to a woman, she seldom looks you full in the face, with a glazed eye and an open mouth, as if wondering what a-vengeance you were grimacing at. I my self am acquainted with a Fellow of College who has to stop and recollect himself, brush up his wits and shake his ears for a minute or two, before he can set the machinery of his clap per a-going, so as to answer the plain question, How d'ye do, by the simple reply, Very well, I thank ye. So that, with regard to ordinary everyday society, that class which comprises all human creatures who enjoy various degrees of reason, from absolute simplicity up to common sense, in a word, with respect to the great bulk of the rational world, I think your sex is decidedly superior to ours. Every lady can speak upon general topics, with a sufficient degree of quickness and propriety; men of the same class of the community, are, for the most part, altogether disagreeable, despicable, and insufferable. Women are very often silly, but they are seldom utter fools; men are very often idiots, and very seldom better than silly. Secondly: if we ascend one step higher, to what may be called the middle rank of intelligent beings, here I think the sexes are about on an equality; if sense and solidity be for the most

part on our side, delicacy and feeling are to be met with chiefly in you. Perhaps, in conversation, the latter qualities are more effective than the former; they produce more instantaneous pleasure, and communicate more electric gratification, they are in themselves more pleasurable and grateful qualities, than their antagonists, if not so exalted in kind. Hence it is, from these positive charms of mind, and not from the absence of faculties that might rival ours, from these intellectual beauties in your conversation, independent of the physical beauties of your outward form, hence it is, I say, that your society is preferable to that of men in general. But when we ascend, lastly, into the sphere of genius, into the society of transcendant wit, imagination, the sublime, and the greatly wise-we quit, that moment, the society of women.

These are my opinions, on the comparative pretensions of your sex, with respect to mind. I do not know how your friend Miss Harley will be satisfied with them. She and I had a fierce argument upon the subject, a few days before I quitted Riversdale, and my fair foe most strenuously contended that her sex was by no means inferior to ours in power, rigour, and energy of mind. She would not be satisfied with the concession of mere fortitude, that patient, passive quality, whose strength consists in suffering; nothing less than positive energy, the active qualification whose strength consists in doing, would fill up the measure of her ambition. The former and less obtrusive species of mental strength, I should have granted with the most liberal indulgence to her sex, for I think they possess it without my investiture; but the latter, the vigour which overleaps the common limits of thought, makes inroads upon the realms of genius, and returns with the glorious fruits of its transgressions, the fearless spirit which plunges at once into the obscure profound. the deepmost abyss of hidden knowledge, and brings up Truth by the locks, this species of mental strength, whether imaginative or ratiocinative, I think is incompatible with the constitution of your frame, the disposition of your mind, the duties of your station, and the habits of your life. RICHARD CHATTEETON.


-A DUTCH ambassador entertaining the king of Siam with an account, of Holland, after which his majesty was very inquisitive, amongst other things told him, that water in his country would sometimes get so hard, that men walked upon it; and that it would bear an elephant with the utmost ease. To which the king replied,-Hitherto I have believed the strange things you have told me, because I looked upon you as a sober fair man, but now I am sure you lie. We have little doubt but that if six months ago Baron Fagel had told (not the king of Siam, God save his majesty !) but the king of England, that in his country there was such a thing as poetry,-poetry which would bear criticism,-we have little doubt but that the king of England would have returned, in the most delicate and soothing terms which the "finest gentleman in Europe" could think of, the identical answer which his Siamese cousin gave in plain English. Not that we impute any want of information upon subjects of general literature, to our Sovereign; on the contrary, we believe him to be a man of very elegant acquirements, and of a refined and cultivated understanding:-but to an English ear, Dutch poetry sounds like a contradiction in terms. For ourselves, to our shame we confess it, we should as soon have expected moonlight to burst forth from cheese, as eloquence from the mouth of Mynheer; and we dare say most of our readers would have thought, with us, that the two miracles were about on a par of impossibility. In the little volume before us, we have, however, a complete refutation of this our ancient opinion, the offspring of ignorance and prejudice; there is some poetry here which would not discredit any nation, some which would do honour to the most poetical nations that ever flourished Greece and England. We should like to know whether our readers do not freshly recognize the Grecian model in the following chorus from the Palamedes of Vondel:


* Batavian Anthology; or, Specimens and Harry S. Van Dyk. London, 1824. + Ursa Major.

The thinly-sprinkled stars surrender
To early dawn their dying splendour;
The shades of night are dim and far,
And now before the morning-star
The heavenly legions disappear:
The constellation's+ charioteer
No longer in the darkness burns,
But backward his bright courser turns.
Now golden Titan, from the sea,
With azure steeds comes gloriously,
And shines o'er woods and dells and downs,
And soaring Ida's leafy crowns.
O sweetly-welcome break of morn!
Thou dost with happiness, adorn
The heart of him who cheerily-
Surveys whatever nature gives,
And wanders oft the banks along
What beauty in her presence lives,
Of some sweet stream with murmuring song.
Oh! more than regal is his lot,
Who, in some blest secluded spot,
Remote from crowded cares and fears,
His loved his cherish'd dwelling rears!
For empty praises never pining,
His wishes to his cot confining,
And listening to each cheerful bird
Whose animating song is heard:
When morning dews, which zephyr's sigh
Has wafted, on the roses lie,
Whose leaves beneath the pearl-drops bend;
When thousand rich perfumes ascend,
And thousand hues adorn the bowers,
And form a rainbow of sweet flowers,
Or bridal robe for Iris made
From every bud in sun or shade.
Contented there to plant or set,
Or snare the birds with crafty net;
To grasp his bending rod, and wander
Beside the banks where waves meander,
And thence their fluttering tenants take;
Or, rising ere the sun's awake,
And chase the hare with swift-paced hounds;
Prepare his steed, and scour the grounds
Or ride beneath the noon-tide rays
Through peaceful glens and silent ways,
Which wind like Cretan labyrinth :
Or where the purple hyacinth
Is glowing on its bed; or where
The meads red-speckled daisies bear.
Whilst maidens milk the grazing cow,
peasants. toil behind the plough,
Or reap the crops beneath their feet,
Or sow luxuriant flax or wheat.

Here flourishes the waving corn,
Encircled by the wounding thorn:

And there the village smoke is seen :
There glides a bark by meadows green,
And there a castle meets the view,
Half-fading in the distance blue.
How hard, how wretched is his doom
of the Dutch Poets. By John Bowring,

Whom sorrows follow to the tomb,
And whom, from morn till quiet eve,
Distresses pain, and troubles grieve,
And cares oppress;-for these await
The slave who in a restless state
Would bid the form of concord flee,
And call his object-liberty.
He finds his actions all pursued
By envy or ingratitude :-
The robe is honouring I confess,
The cushion has its stateliness;-
But, oh! they are a burthen too!
And pains spring up, for ever new,
Beneath the roof which errors stain,
And where the strife is—who shall reign.

(P. 142.) This is Grecian, even to the imperfections of that school of poetry: the practice of uttering moral tauto logies so frequent with Sophocles, Euripides, &c. is imitated in these lines

How hard, how wretched is his doom, &c. with marvellous felicity. This practice among the Greeks may have arisen from their proverbial loquacity, but how are we to account for it (or even for its imitation) in the phleg

matic Dutchman ?

The higher beauties of the English school of poetry are emulated

with some success in several of the shorter poems; that to the Nightingale (quoted in our last number) is perhaps the most beautiful in the volume, the subject almost makes it


the words, are the same in both; but which writer (as Puff says) thought of them first? Had the Dutch poet's dragoman, when he wrote his line, a singing in his head, the burthen of which was the English lay? The original, if produced, would answer this question.

When a person is cured of one misapprehension, the first thing he naturally does, is to fall into another: -In conformity with this general practice, upon our prejudice against the possibility of Dutch poetry existing having been put to flight by the publication of the Batavian Anthology, our next step was to indulge a prepossession, that although it might be Dutch poetry, it was not real poetry. It had sufficiently the air of a prodigy that a native of the modern Boeotia should put together such a combination of images and words as might convey to his dull ear and sations, or should feel within himcapacity, what he called poetic senself any appetite for pleasures other than the indigenous ones of smoking, sailing, canalling, and money-making; but when in direct contradiction of opinions, formed, as we thought, on a philosophical estimate of the Batavian disposition, a volume of Dutch poetry was announced as forth-coming, -we consoled our wounded infallibity with the hope, that beyond the immediate purlieus of the Zuyder-Zee, these images and words aforesaid, would excite sensations, equally intense perhaps, but more akin to laughter than sympathy. We had figured to ourselves the Dutch Venus,- -a lady of about half a ton avoirdupois, with a face like the full moon and a boddice-full of heavenly realabaster, enveloped in a dozen petticoats, and leading in her hand the able as a flying cherub on a monunational Cupid, as fat and immovement;-when lo! the Medicean herself in all her bending beauty and graceful diminutiveness of person, salutes us with a well-known smile, and the immortal Urchin who floats round her shoulders, is as volatile, as classically proportioned, and as mischievously alive as ever. Are not these the very deities with whom we have been so long and so intimately acquainted?

We have carefully used the word "emulated" with respect to English poetry, as however near in point of local situation the two countries may be, there has not as yet been sufficient connexion between them, in literary respects, to render imitation of either by the other a probable circumstance. Yet we were particularly struck by a markable coincidence, both in point of idea and expression, between a line in the last-mentioned poem, and one from a lately-published English tragedy, which we have somewhere met with: in the first, the nightingale is thus described

A singing feather he a winged and wandering sound:

in the latter, we find these wordsWhen that winged song, the restless nightingale

Turns her sad heart to music:

Both the above passages are eminently beautiful; the ideas, and even

Cupid once in peevish pet
Cried to Venus" They are wet-

He has drench'd my strings in tears:
All my quiver have I shot-
Wasted all-they pierce him not,
And his heart of stone appears."

"Listen, silly boy!" she said:
"Steal a lock from Doris' head;
When thy arrows miss-refrain !
Waste not, trifling rogue, thy strength---
Wait and watch! Be sure at length
Cupid shall his victory gain."

So he runs where Doris dresses,
But he dared not steal her tresses;-
For a straggling hair or two
Softly he implores the fair:
Bends his bow The shaft is here→→→
He has pierced me through and through."
(P. 58.)

The following verses are from Hooft, the Dryden, it may be said, of Dutch poetry: it was he who refined the versification of his age, without divesting it of its vigour; and by the study of Grecian, Latin, and Italian authors, he was taught to impart that melody to his own language of which it had not hitherto been deemed susceptible:

On my brow a new sun is arisen,

And bright is its glance o'er my prison; Gaily and grandly it sparkles about me, Flowingly shines it within and without me: Why, why should dejection disarm me→→→ My fears or my fancies alarm me?

Laughing light, lovely life, in the heaven
Of thy forehead is virtue engraven;
Thy red coral lips, when they breathe an

To me are a dawn which Apollo is painting
Thy eyes drive the gloom with their


Where sadness and folly sit darkling.

[blocks in formation]

O how bleat, how divine the employment,
How heavenly, how high the enjoyment
Delicate lips and soft amorous glances,
Kindling and quenching and fanning sweet

Now, now to my heart's centre rushing,
And now through my veins they are

Dazzling eyes-that but laugh at our ruin,
Nor think of the wrongs ye are doing;
Fountains of gladness and beacons of glory,
How do ye scatter the dark mists before
ye :-

Can my weakness your tyranny bridle?
O no! all resistance is idle.

Ah! my soul! ah! my soul is sub


Thy lips-thy sweet lips-they are fitted
With a kiss to dissolve into joy and affec

The dreamings of hope and of gay recol-

And sure never triumph was purer,
And sure never triumph was surer.

I am bound to your beauty completely,
I am fetter'd and fasten'd so sweetly;
And bless'd are the tones and the looks
and the mind too

Which my senses control and my heart is
inclined to:

While virtue, the holiest and brighest,
Has fasten'd love's fetters the tightest.
(P. 59-61.)

Hear how this luxurious Dutch-
man talks of "coral lips," "fragrant
mouths," "dazzling eyes," "kisses,"
"delicate lips and soft amorous
guage too! from which no one can
glances!" And in right lovers' lan-
gather above half a meaning, or such
a proportion of common sense
gleams from this plentifully-worded
passage, for instance:


Lovely eyes then the beauties have bound

And scatter'd their shadows around them

are) must have scattered their sha-
The "beauties" (wherever they
dows around our poet's head, we
conceive, in order to reproduce such
beauties as we are here presented

of Huig de Groot, the reader is com-
Under the very unpromising name
pelled to recognize an old acquaint-
ance, the classical Grotius; he will
perhaps find it still more difficult to
acknowledge the handy-work of a
great moralist and profound thinker
in these vapid lines:

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »