Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

promised reward ; so he was seized with the ceiving the great reward of all his hea disease of envy, which preyed in flames roism in the embrace of Ibla. We upon his heart and his body, particularly would hope Mr Hamilton's diligence when he heard that Antar had slain the son of his uncle ; then he resolved to betray may be such as to enable us, ere long, Antar, and make him drink of the cup of to lay before our readers an abstract of

his ulterior perdition. So he waited till both were in

progress. volved in dust, when he drew from under In the meantime, even the short and his thigh a dart more deadly than the mis- imperfect account which we have given, fortunes of the age ; and when he came near will furnish some idea of the species Antar he raised his arm and aimed at him of amusement to be met with in this the blow of a powerful hero. It started from very novel publication. We forbear, his hand like a spark of fire : but Antar was quick of mind, and his eyes were continually cal disquisition concerning its merits,

for the present, entering into any crititurning to the right and to the left, for he satisfied that a few extracts will be was amongst a nation that were not of his own race, and that put him on his guard,

more instructive than any remarks we and he instantly perceived Bahram as he could offer ; and satisfied, moreover, aimed his dart at him; and then casting that the book itself will soon be unia away his spear out of his hand, he caught versally in the hands of old and young. the dart in the air with his heaven-endowed One remark, however, we shall hazard, force and strength, and rushing at the Greek, and this is, that Antar is the only conand shouting at him with a paralysing voice,

siderable work of fiction of Arabic he struck him with that very dart in the chest, and it issued out quivering like a flame origin, which our readers have in their through his back; then wheeling round possession. It is long since M. Langles Abjer, like a frightful lion he turned down

asserted his belief that the tales of the upon Bahram ; but Chosroe, terrified lest thousand and one nights are not original Antar should slay Bahram, cried out to his in the Arabic, from which we have reattendants—Keep off Antar from Bahram, ceived them, but translations from the or he will kill him, and pour down annihila old Persian or Pelhevi. This hypothesis tion upon him. So the warriors and the

has been adopted by the great Orientsatraps hastened after the dreadful Antar,

alist of our time, Von Hammer, in and conducted him to Chosroe, and as the foam burst from his lips, and his eye-balls

his history of Persian poetry; a most flashed fire, he dismounted from Abjer, and important work, of which we shall soon thus spoke:

give some account to our readers May God perpetuate thy glory and Were any thing wanting to confirm happiness, and mayst thou ever live in eter the opinion of these scholars, it might nal bliss ! O thou king mighty in power, be found abundantly in the contrast and the source of justice on every occasion presented by Antar to the Arabian I have left Badhramoot prostrate on the Nights. The simplicity of scenery and sands-wallowing in blood. of my spear he fell dead, and his flesh is action, and the almost total absence of the prey of the fowls of the air. I left the supernatural agency on the one side, gore spouting out from him like the stream

compared with the endless richness and on the day of the copious rain. I am the pomp, the exquisitely artificial interrible warrior ; renowned is my name, and trigues, and the perpetual genii, talisI protect my friend from every peril. Should mans, and sorcerers, on the other; all Cæsar himself oppose thee, O King, and these circumstances, and a thousand come against thee with his countless host, I minor ones, which the reader will will leave him dead with his companions. easily gather, even from the limited True and unvarnished is this promise. O King, sublime in honours—illustrious and shew incontestibly that the two works,

extracts we have given, are sufficient to happy, thou art now my firm refuge, and my stay in every crisis. Be kind then, and though written in the same beautiful grant me leave to go to my family, and dialect, and perhaps much about the to prepare for my departure : for my same time, belong in truth to two anxiety, and my passion for the noble- several nations, differing widely from minded, brilliant-faced Ibla are intense. each other in faith, in laws, in modes Hail for ever-be at peace live in ever of life, and in character. lasting prosperity, surrounded by joys and

It is the highest compliment which pleasures !""

can be paid to Thalaba, that it looks Soon after the narration of this ex as if it were merely a more polished ploit, the present translation closes. strain, framed for the same ear, which Antar is left returning towards his own had been long accustomed to the story country, loaded with honours and gifts, of Antar. Our perusal of this real by Nushirvan, and intent on at last re Bedoueen story has vastly increased

[ocr errors]

and was preparing them for a long journey lay, and let there be no answer, but by land. Badhramoot was much agitated the putting your foot in the stirrup.” and surprised at this. To whom do you The Arabian King is very glad to intend sending this treasure ? he asked. have his quarrel accommodated in such To Chosroe Nushirvan, the lord of the crown and palace, replied the Emperor; for aflattering manner, and he immediately he is the King of Persia and Deelem, and obeys the mandate, taking with him all the ruler of nations.

O monarch, this his chosen warriors, and Antar, “ the King, is he not of the religion of Jesus, the horseman of the age," by his side. son of Mary ? the chief asked. He is the The Greek Knight had fought one engreat King, he replied, and he worships tire day with Bahram, the last and nofire ; and he has armies and allies, whose blest of all the warriors of Nushiwan, numbers are incalculable, and on t is account I send him tribute, and keep him ed him, yet when evening separated

and although he has not slain or woundaway from my own country.

" At these words the light became dark. them, the advantage was still visibly ness in Badhramoot's eyes. By your exist

on the side of the stranger. The ence, 0 King, said he, I cannot allow any King commands Antar to be the comone to adore aught but the Messiah, in this batant of the succeeding day, an ar, world. We must wage a sacred war, and rangement with which the Greek and have a crusade against the inhabitants of the Arabian are alike delighted. that land and those cities. How can you “ Then Antar rushed down upon the submit to this disgrace and indignity, and humble yourself to a worshipper of fire; him like a blazing fire. They engaged

Grecian like a cloud, and the Greek met you who are the Emperor of the religion of like two lions ; they maddened at each other the Cross, and the Priest's gown? I swear by him who withdrew a dead body from

like two camels, and they dashed against the earth, and breathed into clay, and there frightened every eye with their deeds. A

each other like two mountains, so that they came forth birds and beasts, I will not per- dust rose over them that hid them from the mit you to send these goods and presents, sight for two hours. The Greek perceived unless I go also against those people, and fight them with the sword's edge. I will and a sea where there was no rest; he was

in Antar something beyond his capacity, engage the armies of Chosroe, and exert my terrified and agitated, and exclaimed-by strength against them ; if I am slain, then

the Messiah and his disciples ! this biscuit you may stand to your covenant.

is not of the same leaven- this is the hour Badhramoot accordingly arrives at

of contention ; and now is the time for Modayin, with the presents, and offers struggle and exertion. So he shouted and forth with to deliver them into the roared at Antar, and attacked him with his hands of Chosroe, provided that prince spike-pointed spear, and dealt him a furious can produce a Knight superior to him- thrust; but Antar eluded it by a dexterous self, in the warlike

exercises of his pro- movement, and struck him with the heel of fession. If no such person can be his lance under the arm, and made him found, he will retain the presents, and

totter on the back of his horse ; and he al. return with them to Antioch. -His

most hurl’d him on the ground : but Badh

ramoot, with infinite intrepidity, sat firm on proposal is, immediately accepted by his horse's back, and gallopped to the furNushirvan, and a space being marked ther part of the plain. Antar waited paout for the combat, day after day, for tiently till he had recovered, and his spirit many successive days, the Greek was renewed, when he returned upon him Knight engages and baffles all the like a ferocious lion, and recommenced the chosen warriors of Persia. The Great conflict. King is sadly dispirited by the fate of King Monzar was highly gratified at his chivalry, and is about to dismiss the deeds of Antar, and felt convinced that the Greek in despair, when his vizier him, and that had he wished to kill him, he

he was only sparing him, and dallying with advises him to write to King Monzar; would have done it. But the Monarch was for, said he, “ in such emergencies, perfectly astonished at Antar's courage; and the horsemen of Hijaz are most re- turning to his attendants, said to them By nowned, but our horsemen, O king of the essence of fire, this is indeed horsemanthe world, are only famed for magni- ship, and intrepidity. Never have I reficent entertainments.” The hostilities marked such but in an Arab! And he ad. still subsisting between Monzar and vanced towards the field of battle, that he his Sovereign, render Chosroe very un

might observe what passed between these

dreadful combatants, and that he might see willing to adopt this proposal ; but the how the affair would terminate. continued misfortunes of some days

“ Now Bahram, when he perceived that more, subdue his spirit, and he at last

Antar was superior to himself in strength, allows the visier to write to Monzar. and was mightier than the Greek in the con“Come hither,” said he," without de- flict, felt assured that he would obtain the

ed, for so long a continuance, as to at- it would lighten the pressure of a taxatain its full growth. Except in so far tion which preys upon the daily com, as the tone of theirexistence is strength- forts of their existence. Vanity and ened by political partizanship (which ambition do not lead them to hate their among them is not conducted so as to superiors; they only wish to be reexercise the higher faculties), their time lieved from physical causes of sufferis either spent in enjoyments and ing. In this class, the uniformity of amusements, quite ephemeral and occupations is such, as to destroy all selfish, or in contests of vanity, relat- variety in the developements of the ing to objects of no practical import- mind. The external aspect of their ance, except within the circles of existence is without

any

features fashion. Persons of the learned pro- worthy of being represented ; but a fessions have a line chalked out for source of internal life is often lighted them, in which direction they must up within them by the most beautiful spend their energies. Perseverance, sentiments of piety, and by the feeland a regular exercise of the under- ings engendered out of domestic restanding, are the things chiefly requir- lations. ed from them; and their leisure time, Since external existence no longer of course, is not apt to produce any presents the same striking objects as very spirited or forcible manifestations it has done at former periods, a new of character. It is chiefly spent in species of novels (of which Werter and squaring their manners to those of the the Nouvelle Heloise are examples) higher classes, and in partaking of simi- has sprung up, and has for its purpose lar amusements. The next compre- . the exhibition of the internal growth hensive class is that of shop-keepers and progress of sentiments and pasa and master-tradesmen, whose existence sions, and their conflicts. Great geseems to be chiefly occupied by the nius may be shewn in works of this passion for money-making, and the kind, and probably no kind of writing enjoyments of physical luxury, and has exerted more influence over mooften by the sectarian forms of religion.' dern habits of thought; yet they canAmong the richer portion of this class, not well be considered as any thing the advantages, and the external show more than a spurious sort of literature, procurable by wealth, serve to engross and one that is not perhaps very salu the attention of their self-love, and to tary in its effects. They are not mes confine its operations within the circle morials of what has existed ; for such of their own acquaintances; but, among combinations of sentiment as they rethe poorer set, self-love, being unable present never took place in any human to spend itself in that manner, takes a mind. Neither are they didactic different direction, and assumes the form works ; for no person, in reading of political fanaticism. Unsatisfied pride, them, ever picked up rules of practical finding nothing in the station which it prudence, or gained more control over occupies, to allay its fever, grasps at an his passions. Mastery over our feelincrease of political functions, withings is gained by exerting the will in which to dignify its existence; and, the course of our personal experience; being always at war with the lazy and but, in reading a novel, the will reinactive importance of property, wishes mains totally inactive. And, lastly, to change the field of society in å in novels of this kind, such is the crude gymnastic arena, where advantages are mixture of beauty and deformity, and to be gained or lost, according as indi- of what is to be chosen with what am viduals possess that sort of activity and voided, that they cannot be regarded address, which are inspired by envy as works of art, holding up models of and ambition. The sturdy malcontent, perfection to the imagination. Therefinding no peace within, wishes to ex- fore, the only purpose they can serve ereise his itching sinews in wrestling is to afford a temporary excitement, matches with those members of society neither very pure in its kind, nor even who feel more at ease, and whose mus- always agreeable to feel, from its want cular powers are not in the same fever- of harmony and consistency. ish state of excitement. In the next When literature has become so relower class, that of workmen and me- dundant, and conceptions have been chanics, the desire of political change, so largely accumulated, as in this counwhere it exists, proceeds from different try, the spirit of system is needed to motives ; namely, from the belief that enable authors to discover the true

THOUGHTS ON NOVEL WRITING.

our love for that most exquisite and dence in their own impressions. The most characteristic of all Mr Southey's uniformity of habits, imposed by most poems; because it has satisfied us of trades and professions, has eradicated its perfect fidelity. No man of high freedom and variety of volition from original genius ever possessed the power those who exercise them, and has of imitation in the same measure as caused every unfolding of character, Mr Southey. His genius seems to be except what bears on a certain point, come intensely infused into his imita- to be considered as superfluous and tion.

pernicious. Novelists have therefore, for some time past, found more persons in the highest circles fit for exhibition than any where else, except

in life approaching to barbarism. UnSince, in modern times, the different shackled by the drudgeries of life, and modes of national existence are no standing in awe of few persons' opilonger capable of being represented in nions, the leaders of fashion have been epic poems, it has become the task of able to let their minds shoot forth in the novelist to copy, in an humbler a considerable variety of forms and afstyle, the humbler features exhibited fectations, which, although neither by human life. Of all novels, Don noble nor useful, have served to afford Quixote (which was the earliest great some amusement to gaping spectators work in that line) has most resem in the other classes. Only such indiblance to an epic. It has little to do viduals of the lower class have dragwith cities, but relates chiefly to the ged in, as happened to retain some unindigenous national manners remain- couth traits of physiognomy. ing visible in Spanish country-life, However, as the manifestations exand to chivalry; which, being unable hibited in fashionable life are without any longer to hold its place in society, system or coherency, and have no root could not be introduced among con in any thing permanent, they cannot temporary objects, except in masque- be painted, once for all, in any standrade. Fielding also represented Eng- ard performance; and hence a succeslish country-manners with their roots sion of flimsy publications keeps pace still fixed in their native soil. Le Sage with their changes. The manners and and Smollet both bear traces of the concerns of the middle classes have aladulteration which natural character so been handled in works, which are istics undergo, when plucked up, and not written like the highest novels, boiled together, in the town cauldrons. for the sake of recording the developeGoethe has preserved the rural life of ments exhibited by the human mind, the Germans in Herman and Doro- but which may be called moral novels ; thea; which, although written in the because they have generally a didactic form of a poem, bears a close affinity purpose, relating to existing circumto some of the higher sorts of novels. stances, and are meant to shew the And, lastly, some person, who seems causes of success or failure in life, or averse to have his name too often re the ways in which happiness or misery peated, has fairly pasted the flowers of is produced by the different manageScotland into his herbals of Guy ment of the passions and affections. Mannering, Old Mortality, &c. for To judge how far the modes of existperpetual preservation.

ence of the different classes are worth These form the highest class of the painting, it would be necessary to take novels which have dealt in actual exis à glance at the objects, passions, or tences, and not in pastimes of imagi- employments which respectively fill up nation. In proportion as society has their lives. The highest class has more undergone the influence of detrition, room than any other, to sprout forth succeeding novels of the pourtraying in spontaneous forms; but its aims are class have grown more limited in their for the most part neither high nor seobjects, more slight in their execution, rious, and its force like that of rockets, and more ephemeral in their interest. is spent chiefly in vacuo, without being The external aspect of town-life no directed towards any manly or rational longer affords any thing worthy of be- purposes. Their volitions, not being ing painted for posterity; and the sufficiently tasked against obstacles, country-people, feeling the influence want nerve and concentration; and the of an intellectual ascendancy proceed- rapid whirl of objects around them ing from the cities, have lost confi- prevents any faculty from being exerta

ed, for so long a continuance, as to at- it would lighten the pressure of a taxatain its full growth. Except in so far tion which preys upon the daily comas the tone of theirexistence is strength- forts of their existence. Vanity and ened by political partizanship (which ambition do not lead them to hate their among them is not conducted so as to superiors; they only wish to be reexercise the higher faculties), their time lieved from physical causes of sufferis either spent in enjoyments and ing. In this class, the uniformity of amusements, quite ephemeral and occupations is such, as to destroy all selfish, or in contests of vanity, relat- variety in the developements of the ing to objects of no practical import- mind. The external aspect of their ance, except within the circles of existence is without

any

features fashion. Persons of the learned pro- worthy of being represented ; but a fessions have a line chalked out for source of internal life is often lighted them, in which direction they must up within them by the most beautiful spend their energies. Perseverance, sentiments of piety, and by the feeland a regular exercise of the under- ings engendered out of domestic restanding, are the things chiefly requir- lations. ed from them; and their leisure time, Since external existence no longer of course, is not apt to produce any presents the same striking objects as very spirited or forcible manifestations it has done at former periods, a new of character. It is chiefly spent in species of novels (of which Werter and squaring their manners to those of the the Nouvelle Heloise are examples) higher classes, and in partaking of simi- has sprung up, and has for its purpose lar amusements. The next compre-: the exhibition of the internal growth hensive class is that of shop-keepers and progress of sentiments and pasa and master-tradesmen, whose existence sions, and their conflicts. Great geseems to be chiefly occupied by the nius may be shewn in works of this passion for money-making, and the kind, and probably no kind of writing enjoyments of physical luxury, and has exerted more influence over mooften by the sectarian forms of religion.' dern habits of thought; yet they canAmong the richer portion of this class, not well be considered as any thing the advantages, and the external show more than a spurious sort of literature, procurable by wealth, serve to engross and one that is not perhaps very salu. the attention of their self-love, and to tary in its effects. They are not meconfine its operations within the circle morials of what has existed ; for such of their own acquaintances; but, among combinations of sentiment as they rethe poorer set, self-love, being unable present never took place in

any

human to spend itself in that manner, takes a mind. Neither are they didactic different direction, and assumes the form works ; for no person, in reading of political fanaticism. Unsatisfied pride, them, ever picked up rules of practical finding nothing in the station which it prudence, or gained more control over occupies, to allay its fever, grasps at an his passions. Mastery over our feelincrease of political functions, with ings is gained by exerting the will in which to dignify its existence; and, the course of our personal experience ; being always at war with the lazy and but, in reading a novel, the will reinactive importance of property, wishes mains totally inactive.

And, lastly, to change the field of society in a in novels of this kind, such is the crude gymnastic arena, where advantages are mixture of beauty and deformity, and to be gained or lost, according as indi- of what is to be chosen with what am yiduals

possess that sort of activity and voided, that they cannot be regarded address, which are inspired by envy as works of art, holding up models of and ambition. The sturdy malcontent, perfection to the imagination. Therefinding no peace within, wishes to ex- fore, the only purpose they can serve ereise his itching sinews in wrestling is to afford a temporary excitement, matches with those members of society neither very pure in its kind, nor even who feel more at ease, and whose mus- always agreeable to feel, from its want cular powers are not in the same fever- of harmony and consistency. ish state of excitement. In the next When literature has become so rea lower class, that of workmen and me- dundant, and conceptions have been chanics, the desire of political change, so largely accumulated, as in this counwhere it exists, proceeds from different try, the spirit of system is needed to motives ; namely, from the belief that enable authors to discover the true

« AnteriorContinuar »