Imagens das páginas

"A bower I have, where branching almonds spread, "Where all the seasons all their bounties shed; "The gales of life amidst the branches play, "And mufic burfts from ev'ry vocal spray, "Its verdant foot a stream of amber laves, "And o'er it Love his guardian banner waves: "There fhall our days, our nights in pleasure glide, "Friendship fhall live, when paffion's joys fubfide; "Increafing years improve our mutual truth, "And age give fanction to the choice of youth." His complaint is thus beautifully refumed :

Thus fondly I of fancied raptures fung,
"And with my fong the gladden'd valley rung.
"But fate, with jealous eye, beheld our joy,
"Smil'd to deceive, and flatter'd to deftroy;
"Swift as the fhades of night the vifion fled,
"Grief was the guest, and death the banquet fpread.
"A burning fever on her vitals prey'd,

"Defied Love's efforts, baffled med'cine's aid,

"And from these widow'd arms a treasure tore,
"Beyond the price of empires to restore."

There appears to be fomething exceptionable in the termination of this little poem. That an act of fuicide should be produced by fuch a permanent, mellowed grief as the general tenor of the poem points out, is, we think, improbable. We have also a doubt whether the practice is confiftent with Arabian manners. Confidered in a moral light, perhaps even fictitious examples of fuicide, in general, are not favourable to virtue. They may tend to familiarize the human mind to an act which the fevere preffure of misfortune too often induces men to commit.

The Profpect of Life, an ode, paints the dark fide of things ·ftrongly, and juftly. Perhaps it might have been improved by contraction, and a different arrangement. We fhould, alfo, have approved it more, had it been written in regular stanzas. Cowley's mif-titled Pindaric, in which he was followed by every rhimer, is now, in general, properly discarded, and we are forry whenever we see attempts made to revive the use of it, by any who merit the name of poet.

The following picture of fome of the miferies of life, is well drawn, and highly coloured:


[ocr errors]

Ah! why the catalogue of ills prolong,
And fwell with complicated woes the fong?
Recount thofe darker moments of defpair,

When all the paffions, fierce and unconfin'd,
Rush with the tempeft's fury on the mind,
And reafon, headlong, from her station bear:
When poverty to every other pang

Adds her keen edge-prefents an infant train,
Who with imploring eyes around thee hang,
And raise their fuppliant plaints for bread in vain:


Stern fate, perhaps, determin'd to destroy

All that was precious, all thou wish'd to fave,
And crush at once the fource of ev'ry joy-
Blafts the young confort blooming in thy arms,
Nips in the bud a daughter's op'ning charms,

Or gives thy bofom friend to an untimely grave.' The tranflation of the Oedipus Tyrannus being profeffedly a FREE one, its fidelity to the original does not come properly before us. We apprehend, however, that it will afford the English reader a pretty competent idea of the work of Sophocles. Confidered merely as a poem, it has much merit, the language not being deficient either in ftrength or melody; as will appear from the following quotations:

As a fpecimen of the Lyric parts of this tragedy, we shall
give the fecond ftrophe and antiftrophe of the chorus, Act I.
The pride of Thebes is levell'd with the ground,
The fruits of earth lie blafted on the plain :
Her palaces with fhrieks of death refound,

And her ftreets groan beneath the heaps of flain.
So wide hath fpread the monfter's fiery rage,
Beauty's flush'd cheek with fatal crimson burns;

From her wild eye pernicious lightning glares:
Ev'n virtue's hallow'd plaint the tyrant fpurns;

The fcreaming infant from the bofom tears,
And trikes to earth the hoary fcalp of age.
The mother with convulfive tortures torn,
Faints 'midt her pains, and languishes in death.
Her hapless infant, curft as foon as born,

Imbibes pollution with his earliest breath.
But hark! in louder burfts the pæans break;
The fhores with wilder acclamations ring,

Mad with the flames that revel through their blood.
Increasing throngs around our altars cling,
And fwift as rapid fire, or torrent flood,
By myriads rush to Lethe's gloomy lake.'

Of the colloquial parts, with quick returns of dialogue, our
Readers will judge from the following interefting scene:
Oedipus. Delay not, but inform me, didst thou give
An infant to this man!

Shepherd. I did, and oh!

Death had that moment been my happiest boon. Qed. This day thou dief, unlefs 1 know the whole Of this dark fscene.

Shep. Ah fpare the dire recital: 'Tis death to tell thee.

Oed. Doft thou trifle with me? Shep. Did I not fay I gave the child?

Ord. Go on;

Whence came he? Was he thine by birth, or who
Confign'd him to thy charge?


Shep. He was not mine;
I had receiv'd him from another hand.

Ord. What other? Speak his name, and where he dwells.
Shep. By all the pow'rs above, enquire no more:

I do conjure thee.

Ord. If I afk again,
Wretch, thou shalt die.

Shep. In yonder palace bornOed. Sprung from a flave, or was the king his fire ? Shep. Oh mifery to declare

Oed. Oh! Death to hear!

Yet fpeak

Shep. He was fuppos'd the king's own fon.
But well Jocafta knows the gloomy truth;
She can inftruct thee beft.

Oed. Didft thou from her
Receive the child?

Shep. 'Twere fruitless to deny
What fate itfelf reveals.

Oed. What was her purpose ?

Shep. That I should kill it.

Oed. What, deftroy the child?
Bloody, inhuman parent!
Shep. Dire affright,
From dreadful oracles, compell'd the queen
To this unnatural deed.

Oed. How, oracles?
What did they threaten?

Shep. That this fon fhould flay
Those who begat him.

Oed. But if fuch her fears,

Why didst thou give it to this fhepherd's care?
Shep. Compaffion for the infant wrung my foul;
I hop'd he would have borne his charge away,
Far, far from Thebes, and these his native roofs:
Fatal mistake! that life to him was death,
Preferv'd to long, unutterable, woes-
For oh! if thou be'ft he, thou art indeed
The most ill-fated, moft accurft of men.

Oed. 'Tis done; the tenfold mystery burfts to light;

I am that moft ill-fated, most accurft.

Thou fun, farewell; why fmile thy beams on me,
Whom murder blackens, and whom incest stains?
Incest and murder of the deepest hue:
A father flain, a mother's bed defil'd!

⚫ Come near, my daughters; fhudder not to touch Your father, and your-brother: view the hands,

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Come night, come horror, fhield me from his rays;
Plunge me in thick impenetrable glooms,
Black as my crimes, and boundless as my guilt.

From the longer fpeeches, we shall extract part of the pathetic addrefs of Oedipus to his daughters:



Yet red with gore, whofe fury hath confign'd me
To everlafting darkness, and forbade

The fight of you and heav'n: a king myself,
And yet a regicide, by heav'n and man
Alike abhorrd: approach, and weep my fate,
But do not curfe me with the name of parent.
Yes, to behold your angel fmiles, that once
Gave vigour to my pulfe, is mine no more.
Yet I can weep your fate, and I will weep
In tears of blood warm gufhing from the heart.
With patient fortitude I might have borne
My own difafters, but the fenfe of yours
Hath quite unmann'd me. Whither will ye go
For refpite from your toils, or how affuage
The madness of defpair? From public haunts,
And all the gay delights of focial life,
Driv'n with difgrace, your virgin bloom to waste
In barren folitude, and execrate

The name of father. Ye must never tafte
The fweets of Hymen, nor with eager eyes
Gaze on a fmiling progeny; for who,
Who will receive pollution to his arms,
Nor fhudder at the black impending guilt
That hangs o'er all the race of Oedipus ?"
Also the conclufion of the tragedy, being the addrefs of the
chorus to the inhabitants of Thebes:

• Inhabitants of Thebes, behold your prince,
The mighty Oedipus, whofe foaring thought
Pierc'd the dark riddle of the monster Sphynx;
Whose fame and pow'r, beyond example great,
What fon of Cadmus but with envy view'd ?—
That prince behold, by fad reverfe of fate
Fall'n from his throne of grandeur to the depth
Of abject mifery-Mortal, mark his fate;
Nor him, whom fortune's changeful smile adorns
With momentary triumphs, call thou bleft,

Till death decide, and itamp the name of "happy." This pleafing collection contains feveral other (fmaller) pieces, which have their merit. The Roman critic's maxim, ubi plura nitent, &c. we hope always to have in view, in our decifions; but candidly to point out fmaller faults is fometimes an office of kindness. Mr. Maurice feems to pay confiderable attention to correctnefs; we would wish him to be quite correct. He will, we hope, excufe the hint, that he might derive advantage from avoiding a recurrence of the fame thought in different expreffions. An inftance of this we obferved in his verfes to the Marquis of Blandford, (p. 13.) where, if the two lines,

But lo! attended by her infant train,

That fport around her on the velvet plain,


had been omitted, the circumftance defcribed would have been more beautifully, because more abruptly, introduced by the nineteenth line of the same page :

But who are thefe, that flufh'd with all the glow-&c." There are a few blemishes of other kinds, which ftruck us in the course of perufal. In Hero and Leander,

Defcending torrents, mix'd with ruddy flame,
Roar'd to the howling blast in loud acclam

The later part of the laft line is an impropriety committed for the fake of rhyme. The last line of our first quotation from Hinda, we could with the Author to reconfider

Perhaps the idea of indulging grief is not the most claffically expreffed by

-Sorrow cherish'd an eternal wound.

In the fame poem, p. 28, 1, 10, there is an elipfis of the prepofition to, which does not pleafe,

While unremitting forrow points the tomb.'

Had the epithet, unremitting, been fuppreffed, SORROW would have been perfonified, and might with propriety have been said to point, or direct, the unhappy mourner to his tomb.

We must not take leave of this publication, without doing its Author the juftice to remark, that, in this edition, he has much improved fome of the poems which were formerly publifhed, by the omiffion or alteration of exceptionable paffages. Yet we cannot help wishing that he had paid more attention to Hagley, and Netherby, in this republication. These poems, though they contain many excellent lines, ftill appear, in our opinion, to want fome curtailing, and much polishing.


H ISTOIRE Naturelle, generale, & particuliere; contenant les Epoques de la Nature, &c.—A Natural History, general and particular containing the Epochas of Nature. Supplement. Volume V. of the 4to Edition, and IX. and X. of the 8vo. 1779. Concluded. In the preceding part of our account * of this volume we arrived, in our analyfis of this philofophical romance, at the end of the fourth epocha of nature. As the chief merit of the Author, however extenfive his knowledge may be, lies in invention and painting, fo his picture of the ftate of the earth during this fourth period, when its domain was divided between water and fire, is fublime and terrible, in the higheft degree. The objects that enter into this difmal and tremen

Appendix to the last volume of our Review [the 61ft] p. 543. dous

« AnteriorContinuar »