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Some cross-bows bring, some clubs or pikes uprear,
Some spits, and rustic scythes, or bill-hooks sway.
And all who gain the fatal shore destroy.' The leader's vessel makes a stout resistance under the castle walls.
“Stationed at some small distance from the land,
A storm of bolts and stones her engines pour
Slay the wrecked sailors struggling to the shore.
Of wberries, skiffs, and boats; by vigorous oar
And crowd the gallant ship on every side.
Yet dares not from these borrors turn her eye,
Amongst the warriors in the flag-ship nigh.
His fate, who combats there so gallantly;
And on the poop can scarce his stand maintain,
Shoots underneath, and takes the hanging chain.
As to the beach they tow the prize amain,
Ferocious cries and clamorous plaudits greet.
Board her, and win, dismanned and desolate ;
Assailed on all sides; his deserted state
Resistance hopeless 'gainst impending fate :
He springs, and plunging with him, seeks the flood.
A female sbriek of bitter agony.
Swooning, unconscious of her misery,
There long, in blest insensibility,
We have suffered this extract to run to some length, because its scene of mingled human and elemental strife is one of the most striking in the poem. The main fault of Grossi and Carcano, and, in a less degree, of Montanari also, is the dryness of the narrative they detail, instead of selecting a few dramatic and graphic scenes, forwarding the catastrophe, and connected by a brief intimation of the intermediate facts. This, we apprehend, was one of the secrets that rendered the poems of Scott and others so effective: for the genuine poet can only paint vividly that which vividly impresses his own fancy, namely, particular scenes and portions of his tale.
Richelmo, intent upon chastising Ulrico's reported falsehood, had led the Milanese fleet, and was killed in the first attack. Whilst Lida is weeping over his body, she hears that Ulrico is alive-a prisoner in the castle, and his bride with bim. Her agony and rage when her rival comes before her, are well described; but Ulrico's supposed bride proves to be bis sister Rosamonda, and the lover satisfactorily exculpates himself respecting Eurosa di Rumo. The nuptial project is resumed; the crews are prisoners at large in the castle; and, upon the next rumour of peace, Ulrico is again sent home to implore his father's consent. But scarcely is he gone, when the Comasian sailors break out of the castle, and meeting with Rosamonda, Lida, and Odalinda, forcibly carry them off. Their appearance at Como complicates matters. Azzo di Rumo, learning that his daughter is rejected for Lida, obtains the incarceration of the latter, with threats of fearful punishment unless she persuades Ulrico to marry Eurosa. But this generous, hopelessly enamoured girl, at Rosamonda's instigation secretly liberates Lida, and conducts her to Ulrico, who flies with her and her little sister: but the child wakes and screams just as they are stealing past Azzo's door, and he is indefatigable in pursuit. We extract the conclusion of their disastrous Aight.
“Beneath a beam of mighty length, thrown o'er
The valley where it narrows and grows deep,
Headlong, precipitous, adown the steep:
Is guarded with a rail, by which to creep
It gives frail hold for those across that go.
And gently forward urged the tottering child,
Lida, who stepped with fear, and faintly smiled.
Thus high uplifted o'er the watery waste,
The sisters trembling, shook in terror wild ;
Guided them both on that aërial way.
Fierce Rumo's accents, vengeance menacing,
And see him on the bridge impetuous spring.
His cheek and eye of wrath such terrors fling;
His eager weapon to Ulrico's heart.” Lida shields her lover, receiving in her bosom the descending blow, and
“ Th' assailant on his murderous aim intent,
Thrown blindly forward, feels his footing fail,
To either side, would balance him : the rail
The beam; it leaves him : nothing now avail
That wood-work, following, floats upon his grave." With this catastrophe we should have thought the poem might have properly closed; but Grossi has added a whole canto, in which Lida gets home and goes to bed; finds her mother insane at the loss of her children; and sees her recover her senses on the restoration of the two survivors. Yet just when every body, surgeon and reader included, imagines her wound in a fair way of healing, the poor girl dies, a minute or two after being married to Ulrico.
It strikes us as somewhat remarkable, that two out of these three new and popular poems should terminate with a deathbed marriage; and we feel half tempted to consider the circumstance as indicative of a return to a depth and solemnity of feeling such as has not, for some centuries past, been indigenous in the Italian soil and spirit.
Here we take a temporary leave, looking forward with hope to more finished productions from Carcano and Montanari: to the genius of Grossi we decidedly think the prose historic novel far better suited than either poetic tales, or fragments of epics.
The works we have just noticed do not possess all the merit we could desire, but they are at least interesting, and even important, as showing that the most recent literary taste of western Europe has also extended to Italy.
Art. III.-- La Science Politique fondée sur la Science de l'Homme,
ou Etude des Races humaines sous le Rapport philosophique, historique, et sociale. Par V. Courtet, de L'Isle. Paris :
Bertrand. 1838. 8vo. THERE is in vogue amongst our continental neighbours a Philosophy which, let it take what shape it will, is perpetually tending towards materialism: a philosophy that, in its self-sufficiency, continually flatters itself by seeking its defence in the ancient philosophy of the Greeks and Romans; overlooking the characteristic fact, that whilst this latter was constantly grasping after truth, itself is as constantly running after error, and embracing, with an exulting satisfaction, every opinion that may reduce the intellect given us by our Creator to a level with the animals that grovel in the dust. We scarcely know from what causes such a theory has obtained disciples, unless it be more or less attributable to a condition of society bordering fast on the dissolution of social sentiments, or the bigotry of mental blindness, rejecting all evidence but that of the touch.
To this system of philosophy unquestionably belongs the essay of M. Courtet, which has just reached our hands. When he talks of laying the foundations of political science in the science of man, we must not understand by this latter the science impressed by the immortal γνώθι σεαυτόν. Μ. Courtet wishes to make politics what he terms une science positive, by throwing overboard the study of man's high intellectual faculties, and basing it upon his physical constitution as an animal ; that is to say, he would have us consider the essence, or being, implied by the term MAN, to be in the body and not in the mind. He attempts to do away
with the illusion which, it seems, has so long been suffered to mislead our theories of government, viz. the consideration of man as a "moral being" only; and accordingly divides his book into two parts, in the first of which he developes his notions of Man as simply an animal; and in the second he applies these notions to the science of politics.
Linnæus, says our author, when he placed man in his system of nature at the head of the animal kingdom, opened a new road to science. Buffon followed in the same train, and called the attention of his disciples to the singular and beautiful regularity with which the chain of animated nature extended, from its lofty climax, man, down to the lowest point of its gradation. But Linnæus and Buffon, with their followers, according to M. Courtet, although they made this grand step towards the true, fell into the important error of considering man, physically, as a class, in
stead of one species of a class. Others, too, of later years, have led the way to the grand discovery set forth, it seems, in the present work, viz. that as in every class of animals there is a regular series of species, so in this highest class of man there is such a series also ; every species of which is distinctly separated from the other, and has been ab origine, by the strongest and most indelible characteristics. Having thus extirpated “un préjugé trop profondément enraciné," namely, the notion that man is one class, M. Courtet sets down certain axioms, as he calls them, on which his political doctrines are to be grounded, and which are-1, a general deep-rooted gradation in animal beings and in the human race; 2, a plurality of original types amongst mankind; 3, the perpetuity of these types, entirely independent of the influence of climate.
Before we go farther into M. Courtet's system, we will consider briefly the arguments by which he supports these axioms (!) and we trust that we shall, without much difficulty, be enabled to show their utter fallaciousness.
In the first place, our author attempts to demonstrate a logical necessity for the truth of his axioms, by a train of reasoning that would do honour to an “opponent” in any one of our university schools. Buffon, says he, places man at the head of the animal race : Buffon remarks the astonishing regularity of the chain, descending" by steps almost insensible, from the most perfect of creatures to the most shapeless mass.
." Now, in order that there may be such a regularity of descent, “there must necessarily be in the composition of the human race original differences of organization, at least as distinct as those which separate the different species of animals:" *- Ergo, there are such differences; &c. An admirable argument this, and equally remote from the common places of logic and fact. We must, nevertheless, consider poor Buffon as extremely ill used in this process of reasoning, since there is much more fathered upon him ihan he would willingly have acknowledged. When Linnæus and
*“Il résulte de cette opinion que l'homme, tout en se distinguant d'une manière sensible des genres inférieurs d'animaux, se lie néanmoins à ces genres par une facile transition, comme ceux-ci, également distincts les uns des autres, se lient évidemment entre eux. Il n'y a identité nulle part, mais l'analogie est partout. Entre l'homme et les autres êtres organisés, il n'y a point similitude, il y a gradation. Mais pour qu'il y ait gradation, pour que l'on puisse descendre par des degrés presque insensibles de la créature la plus parfaite à la matière la plus informe, de l'animal le mieux organisé au minéral le plus brut,' il faut nécessairement qu'il y ait dans le sein du genre humain (qui se trouve ainsi rattaché à tous les autres genres) des différences originelles d'organi. sation, pour le moins aussi tranchées que celles qui séparent les diverses espèces d'ani. maur : car, si l'on comparait l’Européen à l'oran-outang, il serait absurde de dire que l'on passe de l'un à l'autre par une transition légèrement marquée,”-p.6.