« AnteriorContinuar »
Really quite Homeric—with a difference. This sort of thing would tell amazingly with the "three jolly butcher-boys all in a row." But again
Think of it! dream! The cleaver climbs aloof.
Flush, gnashing, quivering-and where ends the spasm ? (p. 14.) Where, indeeed! The Spasmodic School, this, with a vengeance. But again, list, list, oh list !
How foams my mouth! How cold my forehead steams !
The cleaver's clanking! (p. 15.) That cleaver's clanking will be the death of us, as it was of so many thousands in the era of the tragedy, with its running accompaniment of swoop, cut, crash, clink, chasm, flush, flash, gnash, spasm, and gurgle. But once more hark ye, my masters
Furies that round the scaffold hoot and hymn;
The loosened swoop, the clank, cut, crash, &c. (p. 182-3.) Robespierre the younger is thus pictured, en route to the guillotine
The tyrant's brother, flower of broken stalk,
They bend, push, plant him. Now! clink! flash! &c. (p. 258.) While Robespierre's own appearance on the same platform is thus pictured
Foretasting pangs for ever to be wreaked,
Heavens I how it scowls, it gnasbes, and it glares. (p. 261.) But all this scenery from the shambles is parenthetical: we close the parenthesis, and proceed with our elegant extracts from the Q. C.'s teeming stores of imagery.)
St. Just thus deals with a similitude borrowed from the droughtparched steppes of Asia :
The bare black swamps in death-like silence sleep,
And some vast snake, or crocodile, Alings out. Tallien, feeling himself talkatively-disposed, and altogether wolfish, exclaims
My tongue has edge,
and loaden, as their axe's wedge. Who shall say Mr. Bliss is not original in his ideas and expressions ? Oct--VOL. CII. NO. CCCCVI.
The same Tallien tucks a dagger under his wrap-rascal, intended for
Through ranks of minions this shall reach his heart:
As bounds through herds a bloodhound for the bull. Neat and appropriate. Barrère is in positive ecstasies at Tallien's eloquence, and thus applauds him :
What peals sublime can truth and reason roll!
Whose beak swoops screaming for a bison's brain. Well may Tallien, under such auspices, demand unlimited freedom of speech:
Let my tongue's torrent have nor stay nor stain,
As Arethuse untainted cleaves the main.
The Commonwealth from chaos comes, like earth,
From the storm's bosom and the womb of night. We must try to bear in mind this genesis of the whirlwind's morrow, for meteorological and poetical uses. Here is another striking simile, applied by Robespierre to Tallien:
Shame on the Mountain must as mist condense,
Till the blaze burst, and hurl the villain thence. Tallien pronounces Robespierre
Mute as pest, and mystic as a bier; and plainly tells him,
The giant gibbet towers,
The type and image, tyrant, of thy soul. Tallien is for sending him to plead at the Tribunal, on retributive grounds:
As the brass bull, that bellowed o'er a fire,
To enclose the inventor first, and last the buyer. In style One of Her Majesty's Counsel is at times eminently terse and concise, or aims at being so, even at the risk of obscurity. Robespierre thus warns the deputies against sophistic and hostile counsellors :
There are, who flatter, is, who tells you truth
Are, who divide you, is, who would unite. He declares that
Fouquier for France at any shall impeach
All, who corrupt the People, or alarm.
What's fame? A parrot, fowlers teach by rote
The abbreviating process is also tried on single words, as well as sentences and lines; as where Robespierre cries, “Why did I leave my native vill ?” or where Tallien exclaims, “ Come, penetrate that den of hyens.” Old words, moreover, are used in a somewhat new fashion--as the word nape; e.g. in Tallien's vigorous outburst on Robespierre as one guilty
Of kindling Terror's trump to voice thy breath,
And brandishing an axe at every nape. And again, D'Anglas, apparently recognising some significant distinction between the two nouns, inquires
Whose neck seemed safer than Desmoulin's nape? Mark the phraseology as well as the modesty of Barrère in the lines
Pause not to choose a chairman more condign.
Since honour's post is danger's, make it mine. While Robespierre complains
Me all insidiate, all calumniate still ; a façon de parler which reminds us of a speech of the first Lord Baltimore, as recorded by Madame d’Arblay: “I have been,” said he,“ upon a little excoriation to see a ship lanced; and you've no idiom how well it sailed."
Plentiful illustrations might be adduced, too, of Mr. Bliss's fancy for antithesis, and a certain (or uncertain) epigrammatic construction, -as in Robespierre's warning,
Respect this edict ! woe the wights that scorn!
Loathed for the crime, and laughed at for the blunder.
A traitor, tyrant, murderer, monster, fiend-
Coward in heart, and liar in thy teeth. But the reader is probably, as the reviewer is certainly, weary; as weary as a grammar schoolmaster of inspecting the nonsense verses of his class. For this tragedy à posteriori sadly emphasises Mr. Moile's sly à priori remark, on receiving, in some consternation, his friend's five acts and forty-one scenes,—"your letter ... has given me some anxiety, as well on your account as my own. On yours, for there had existed till now, I thought, no indication that you were, for your sins, visited with poetic aspirations.” If this sort of tragedy-writing argues foregone sin (or if not, but simply on its own account), the sooner Mr. Bliss cries Peccavi! the better.
PO L P E RR 0.
Friday, October 30th.—The town of Polperro is in a manner jammed between high cliffs and rocky hills, the houses terraced one above another ; the entrance to the small harbour from the sea is extremely narrow, and the rocks on either side are heaped up in ragged piles of every shape, and point upwards in the most fantastic shapes. To the right and left the cliffs continue along the coast as far as the eye can reach ; even the shore
1; below the town is so completely iron-bound with huge rocks one can nowhere descend to the water's edge, but look down from a vast height on the blue waves below. The coast is broken mall bays and creeks, into which the sea dashes, beating against the cliffs, and covering the rocks with snowy foam. To the west the land runs out in a lofty headland beyond Fowey, about twelve miles distant, and to the east are dimly discerned the line of hills that mark the entrance to Devonport and Plymouth Harbour. The town of Polperro consists of streets so very narrow they resemble the alleys in a Dutch picture ; and one ascends and descends by flights of interminable steps by no means remarkable for cleanliness, when one picks one's way tant bien que among
the débris of deceased fish, avoiding a gaunt cod's head to slip away on the tail
. I am sure I shall never eat fish any more after seeing the way it is thrown about in these dirty little streets, where I often came upon piles of conger-eels so enormous they more resembled huge marine boa-constrictors than food by which man is to increase and multiply.
The climate is, however, deliciously mild, and here, in the beginning of November, we find the myrtle in full bloom, as well as roses, carnations, and passion-flowers, and I, who came prepared for winter weather, denude myself in my walks something in the fashion of a clown in an amphitheatre of one garment after another, with such power does the sun still pour down his rays. The people appear to be very primitive in their habits ; their saddles for the donkeys, made of wood, and exactly the same shape as those on which Joseph and Mary are represented in their flight into Egypt, in the pictures of the old masters, are quite curiosities. The names, too, here are very good; our maid rejoices in the highsounding title of Phillippa Lewellyn, and as to Tremellion and Trelawny, &c., &c., there are no end of them, nor of saints either, for almost every town bears the name of some sanctity unknown even in the abundant list of the Romish calendar, remnants no doubt of our British or Saxon ancestors, when driven to these uttermost regions by the Norman conquerors. To-day I directed my walk inland beyond the town through .
I the valley extending at the base of the lofty hills which enclose the harbour. Here I followed the course of a dashing bubbling mountaintorrent, flowing over a beautifully pebbled bottom, forming in its course cascades and waterfalls
, saluting the ear with that music which ever seems to my imagination the voice of nature uplifted among the ever
lasting hills. The road wound up the valley through steep, rocky banks, covered with ivy, the hills, or rather downs, rising on either side until Í reached an elevated point commanding a view of various other valleys disappearing among the hills in different directions ; lonely orchards here and there clothing their sides like little patches of verdure in the wilder
In so solitary a scene one wondered where the people would come from to gather the fruit. After wandering about for some hours in these lonely lanes, a prey to that melancholy foreboding of future ills that ever possesses me when alone with nature, when I think of these two dear children, and calculate the fearful odds of my ability to conceal them. I retraced my steps, wishing earnestly for the presence of that dear friend whose society alone imparts comfort to my soul under the pressure of cruel and unmerited wrongs. It is in scenes like these, far from the hum of busy life, far from the haunts of men in the presence of the eternal hills rising in silent grandeur to the blue sky, shut in amid the recesses of a rocky valley, where streams flow among dark masses of stone, and silence is unbroken save by the bubbling of water over the rocks, that one's soul feels penetrated by the vanity of the moving world without, where death and change are ever at work; where the tongue of man incessantly silences thought, and life passes away in one confused whirl so different from the majestic silence of such a lonely scene,-the stillness around invites the mind to reflection, and tinges its thoughts with a gentler melancholy. Oh! how I hate the clatter of insensate tongues! How I love the silence of the hills! Nay, how buffoonish speech appears after musing like this! alone, in silent communion with Nature!
Saturday, October 31st.— The morning broke in glorious brilliant sunshine, casting broad floods of light across the blue sea, more like a day in August than at this late season; the pointed rocks, heaped in fantastic shapes at the entrance of the harbour, stood out in dark lines, and the town glistened, and the white houses sparkled in the sun. After breakfast, I sallied out to enjoy this radiant day, and proceeding down the steep flight of steps that lead from our narrow alley to the cliffs on the left side of the bay, I emerged on the terraced walk elevated an immense height above the sea. The coast is, indeed, iron-bound; and, far the
can reach, presents a succession of creeks and narrow inlets, into which the sea dashes, covering the rocks with snowy foam; altogether, the scene is wild, romantic, bold, and singularly solitary, unbroken by a sound save the monotonous splash of the waves below. Above, the hill rises perpendicularly, bright with the yellow blossoms of the furze and purple thyme, the rocks jutting out here and there covered with ivy, which grows freely everywhere. Turning my back on the town, I followed the footpath to Talunt, where the descending hills form a small sequestered bay, and the sea-shore is strewn with fine white sand and delicate little shells, through which comes rushing down a mountain stream, clear and pure, bubbling over a pebbly bed of stones of every colour. Beyond, on the hill, rises the church, to which we mounted by a steep ascent between rocky banks, the lane continuing inland for some distance, until we reached Port Looe, where the hills dividing form a valley, opening to the ocean on the right. I walked up hill and down dale until I approached the Vale of Love,