Imágenes de páginas

And lion crest unconscious of the comb;
Erect with rage,-his brow's impending gloom,
O'ershadowing his dark eyes' terrific blaze.

The opponent, dexterous and wary,

Will fend and parry ;
While masses of conglomerated phrase,

Enormous, ponderous, and pedantic,
With indignation frantic,
And strength and force gigantic,

Are desperately sped

At his devoted head.
Then, in different style,
The touchstone and the file,
And subtleties of art
In turn will play their part;
Analysis and rule,
And every modern tool;
With critic, scratch, and scribble,
And nice invidious nibble ;
--Contending for the important choice,
A vast expenditure of human voice !

Eu. Don't give me your advice; I claim the seat,
As being a better and superior artist.

B. What, Æschylus, don't you speak? You hear his language.

E. He's mustering up a grand commanding visage A silent attitude

the common trick That he begins with in his tragedies.

B. Come, have a care, my friend; you'll say too much.

E. I know the man of old-I've scrutinized
And shewn him long ago for what he is,
A rude unbridled tongue, a haughty spirit ;
Proud, arrogant, and insolently pompous ;
Rough, clownish, boisterous, and overbearing.

Æ. Say'st thou me so ? Thou Bastard of the earth,
With thy patch'd robes and rags of sentiment,
Rak'd from the streets, and stitch'd and tack'd together!
Thou mumping, whining, beggarly hypocrite!
for it.

B. There now, Æschylus, You grow too warm. --Restrain your ireful mood.

Æ. Yes; but I'll seize that sturdy beggar first, And search and strip him bare of his pretensions.

B. Quick! Quick! A sacrifice to the winds—Make ready; • I see the storm there gathering. Bring a victim.

Æ. -A wretch that has corrupted every thing;
Our music with his melodies from Crete;
Our morals with incestuous tragedies.

B. Dear, worthy Æschylus, contain yourself;
And as for you, Euripides, move off
This instant, if you're wise ; I give you warning ;
Or else, with one of his big thumping phrases,
You'll get your brains dash'd out, and all your notions,
And sentiments, and matter, mash'd to pieces.
--And thee, most noble Æschylus, I beseech,
With mild demeanour, calm and affable,
To hear and answer. For it ill beseems
Illustrious bards to scold like market-women.
But you roar out and bellow like a furnace.

E. I'm up to it. I'm resolved, and here I stand

Ready and steady-take what course you will ;
Let him be first to speak, or else let me.
I'll match my plots and characters against him;
My sentiments and language, and what not ;
Ay, and my music too, and Meleager,
My Æolus, and my Telephus, and all.

B. Well, Æschylus, determine. What say you ?

Æ. I wish the place of trial had been elsewhere :
I stand at disadvantage here.

B. As how?
Æ. Because my poems live on earth above,
And his died with him, and descended here,
And are at hand as ready witnesses.
But you decide the matter, I submit.

B. Come let them bring me fire and frankincense,
That I may offer vows and make oblations
For an ingenious critical conclusion
To this same elegant and clever trial.
[To the Chorus.) And you too, sing me a hymn there-To the Muses.

To the heavenly Nine we petition,
Ye, that on earth or in air ) are for ever kindly protecting

The vagaries of learned ambition,
And at your ease from above, | our sense and folly directing,

(Or poetical contests inspecting,
Deign to behold for a whileas a source of amusing attention,

All the struggles of style and invention)
Aid, and assist, and attend, and afford to the furious authors

Your refin'd and enlighten'd suggestions ;
Grant them ability-force, | and agility, quick recollections,

And address in their answers and questions,
Pithy replies, with a word to the wise, and pulling and hawling,

With inordinate uproar and bawling;
Driving and drawing, like carpenters sawing their dramas asunder,
With suspended sense and wonder.

All are waiting and attending
On the conflict now depending.

B. Come, say your prayers, you two, before the trial. [Æschylus offers incense.

Æ. O Ceres, nourisher of my soul, maintain me,
A true partaker of thy mysteries.
B. [To Euripides.] There, you there, make your offering.

E. Well, I will ;
But I direct myself to other deities.

B. Heh, what? Your own? Some new ones?
E. Most assuredly.
B. Well, pray away then—to your own new deities. [Euripides offers incense.

E. Thou foodful Air, the nurse of all my notions,
And ye, the organic powers of sense and speech,
And keen refind olfactory discernment,
Assist my present search for faults and errors.

Here beside you, here are we,
Eager all to hear and see
This abstruse and curious battle,
Of profound and learned prattle.

-But, as it appears to me,
Thus the course of it will be:
That the junior and appellant
Will advance as the assailant,
Aiming shrewd satiric darts
At his rival's noble parts,
And with sallies sharp and keen,
Try to wound him in the spleen;
While the veteran rends and raises
Rifted, rough, uprooted phrases,
Wields them like a thrashing-staff,
And dispells the dust and chaff.

B. Come now, begin, and speak away ; | but first I give you warning:
That all your language and discourse I must be genteel and clever,
Without abusive similies, / or common vulgar joking.

E. At the first outset, I forbear to state my own pretensions;
Hereafter I shall mention them when his have been refuted;
And after I have prov'd and shewn, | how he abus'd and cheated
The rustic audience that he found, which Phrynichus bequeath'd him.
He planted first upon the stage la figure veild and muffled,
An Achilles or a Niobe, 1 that never shew'd their faces,
But kept a tragic attitude, | without a word to utter.
B. No more they did : it's very true.-

E. In the meanwhile, the Chorus
Strung on ten strophes right-an-end, but They remained in silence.

B. I lik’d that silence well enough; | as well, perhaps, or better Than those new talking characters.

E. That's from your want of judgment, Believe me.

B. Why, perhaps it is ;-but what was his intention? E. Why, mere conceit and insolence ;-o keep the people waiting Till Niobe should deign to speak,--to drive his drama forward.

B. O what a rascal !--Now I see the tricks he us'd to play me. [To Æschylus, who is shewing signs of indignation by various contortions. ] -What makes you writhe and wince about?

E. Because he feels my censures. Then having dragg’d and drawl'd along, half-way to the conclusion, He foisted in a dozen words of noisy boisterous accent, With “ nodding plumes and shaggy brows,” | mere bugbears of the language, That no man ever heard before.

Æ. Alas! alas !

B. [To Æschylus. ] Have done there! E. His words were never clear or plain.

B. [To Æschylus. ] Don't grind your teeth so strangely.
E. -But Bulwarks, and Scamanders, | and Hippogrifs, and Gorgons,
“ Embost on brazen bucklers,” | and grim remorseless phrases,
Which nobody could understand.

B. Well, I confess, for my part,
I us'd to keep awake at night, | conjecturing and guessing,
To think what kind of foreign bird | he meant by Griffin-horses.

Æ. A figure on the heads of ships, \ you goose, you must have seen them.
B. I took it for Philoxenus, | for my part, from the likeness.
E. So! figures from the heads of ships are fit for tragic diction.
Æ. Well,

then-thou paltry wretch, explain—What were your own devices?
E. Not stories about flying stags, I like yours, and griffin-horses ;
Nor terms nor images deriv'd from tap'stry Persian hangings.
When I receiv'd the Muse from you, I found her puff'd and pamper’d,
With pompous sentences and terms, 1 a cumbrous huge virago.
My first attention was applied to make her look genteelly,
And bring her to a moderate bulk | by dint of lighter diet.

I fed her with plain household phrase, I and cool familiar salad,
With water-gruel episode, | with sentimental jelly,
With moral mincemeat; till at length | I brought her within compass :
Cephisophon, who was my cook, | contriv'd to make them relish.
I kept my plots distinct and clear ;-and to prevent confusion,
My leading characters rehears'a | their pedigrees for prologues.

Æ. 'Twas well at least that you forbore | to quote your extraction.

E. From the first opening of the scene, | all persons were in action : The master spoke, the slave replied ;---the women, old and young ones, All had their equal share of talk.

Æ. Come then, stand forth, and tell us, What forfeit less than death is due | for such an innovation ?

E. I did it upon principle, | from democratic motives.
B. Take care, my friend-upon that ground | your footing is but ticklish.
E. I taught these youths to speechify.

Æ. I say so too.—Moreover,
I say that for the public good,---you ought to have been hang'd first.

É. The rules and forms of rhetoric,—the laws of composition ;
To prate, to state, and in debate / to meet a question fairly;
At å dead lift, to turn and shift, -to make a nice distinction.

Æ. I grant it all-I make it all-my ground of accusation.

E. The whole in cases and concerns occurring and recurring,
At every turn and every day, | domestic and familiar;
So that the audience, one and all, | from personal experience,
Were competent to judge the piece, , and form a fair opinion,
Whether my scenes and sentiments | agreed with truth and nature.
I never took them by surprise, to storm their understandings
With Memnons and Tydides's, | and idle rattle-trappings
Of battle-steeds and clattering shields, I to scare them from their senses,
But for a test (perhaps the best) our pupils and adherents
May be distinguish'd instantly by person and behaviour:
His are Phormisius the rough, Meganetes the gloomy,
Hobgoblin-headed, trumpet-mouth'd, I grim-visag'd, ugly-bearded ;
But mine are Cleitophon the smooth, | Theramenes the gentle.

B. Theramenes ! --a clever hand, I a.universal genius;
I never found him at a loss, I in all the turns of party,
To change his watch-word at a word, I or at a moment's warning.

E. Thus it was that I began,
With a nicer, neater plan;
Teaching men to look about,
Both within doors and without;
To direct their own affairs,
And their house and household wares;
Marking every thing amiss-
" Where is that? and—What is this?
This is broken-That is gone;"
'Tis the system, and the tone.

B. Yes, by Jove--and now we see
Citizens of each degree,
That the moment they come in,
Raise an uproar and a din,
Rating all the servants round:
If it's lost, it must be found.
Why was all the garlic wasted ?
There, that honey had been tasted,
And these olives pilfer'd here,
Where's the pot we bought last year?
What's become of all the fish ?
Which of you has broke the dish ?"
Thus it is; but heretofore
They sat them down to doze and snøre,

DR STERNSTARE'S LETTERS. of human nature. They have always

been remarkable for a certain cold and No II.

unadmiring shrewdness, of which self

love is the true foundation. Sawney Acknowledgment of Aberdeenshire Heads-- feels no love of great and beautiful

Nature of Religious Feeling among Co. objects for their own sakes, but stands venanters Self-love of Lowland Scots aloof, and measures them with a scepAspects it assumes Young Frenchman's tical eye. The Lowland dialect is reApplication—Meleager and Antinous

plete with certain vernacular phrases, Imperfections of Portraits.

which betray his inclination to view I HAVE received the three specimens all persons and things through a diof Aberdeenshire heads. That they minishing glass; and, for instances of must have been as remarkable for the this, I refer to the national novels of savoir faire, as you say they were, is Waverley, Guy Mannering, &c. No evident from their structure. One of passion for the arts touches his soul; them now stands on a shelf, with his no longings after the great ideal. The cheek close to the “ Ready Reckoner.” more homely and limited the objects You urge me strongly to pronounce, which are presented to him, the more in the meantime, some rough esti- comfort he draws from them; and mate of the Scottish character ; but this is an infallible symptom of the cautious induction is ever the mark of predominance of self-love over the the true philosopher, and in no science generous and aspiring affections. Even is it so necessary as in that which the metaphysics of this singular race, treats of human faculties and propen are the metaphysics of littleness, and sions. It is evident that the other have never led into the love of beauhead which you sent cannot be that ty, as with most other nations. of a Covenanter ; at least of a truly The Lowland peasant, however, with zealous and obdurate one, willing to all his self-love, never betrays a Gasgo all lengths. It is too little deve- conading spirit. The caution and loped in the organs of self-love and coldness of his character will not allow of firmness. Devotion assumes dif- him to hazard any thing of that sort. ferent aspects, according to the differ. Neither does his pride assume a stura ent natural dispositions which it finds dy, manly, and combative attitude, in the individuals whom it animates. as it does with the English; but he In the Covenanters, religious feeling wraps himself prudently in his blandid not meet with many of the bland, ket, and, eyeing the world askance benign, forgiving, and beautiful disa over one shoulder, employs the keenpositions, which have their seat in the ness of a northern sagacity to supply region above the forehead. It was himself mentally with reasons of disrather connected with conscientious- paragement against every sort of preness and severe justice, which, in the tensions. Even religion is made by first place, gave no quarter to them- him subservient to the gratification of selves, and which also engendered, by his human passions ; for, as it inculinternal reaction, something like a cates the vanity of all worldly objects, feeling of unrelenting bitterness to- and the insignificance of all human wards others. It was also strongly merits and distinctions, it so far utconnected with will or determination, ters to him a soothing voice ; and he and, through it, with self-love. The finds a consolation in thinking, that Covenanters were also addicted to doc- those who enjoy better fare than oattrinal discussions which exercised their meal, or wear any thing finer than a dialectical understanding, and which blue bonnet, are so much the more often ended in exciting more activity likely to go to a bad place in the end. of opinionative self-love, than of de- None of the divine or good feelings votional sentiment, and in drawing have any exclusive tendency, except down their thoughts into the sphere against qualities that are destructive of the human passions. If their re to themselves. You will perhaps ligiousness had been of a nobler qua- think some of the foregoing strictures lity than it was, we should have heard too severe, and perhaps they are ; but less of them in history. Upon the I have no patience with the love of whole, I am inclined to suspect the littleness, which, whoever indulges Lowland Scots of a meagreness in the in, as a great poet observes, wars enthusiastic and disinterested elements against his own soul.”

« AnteriorContinuar »