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Account of the late Historical Society of Trinity College.
Thus they were prepared by habit and experience, when the strictness of collegiate duties ceased, to enter on that course of more ornamental and elegant, but far from unuseful acquirements, to which the Historical Society invited, with advantage to themselves and benefit to the institution at large. If the state of things was to be altered in consequence of their premature exertions, the regulation of 1812 was the only cause the Committee could assign.
With respect to the expression private business, the Committee requested the Board to declare their meaning, as hitherto all branches of business had been equally public to the members-equally private to strangers; and it was suggested that the appointment of a committee of five with uncontrollable authority to settle their affairs, would tend to the complete subversion of respect for the decisions of the Society.
The Board was not at all influenced by this appeal; and at the next meeting the Society resorted to the only measure now left to them. They adjourned sine die; and thus, by a system of inquisitorial tyranny, the college was deprived of its brightest ornament. That the members had a right to dissolve the bands of their association must be evident to all who consider that they were voluntarily assumed. That the exercise of that right was prudent will appear from these considerations:-the result of the late orders would have been, for the above-mentioned reasons, the ruin-the gradual ruin of the society. A voluntary dissolution would, therefore, but anticipate this expected event, and seemed to be in some respects preferable. It rescued a great number of individuals from the harassing and degrading necessity of submitting the decision on their conduct to an oligarchy of their equals; and it seemed to lay the foundation for a hope of the revival of the Society upon those original principles, under the beneficial operation of which it had so long and so eminently flourished; as the suddenness of the event would excite enquiry, and the public attention would be directed to investigate its cause. The result of such investigation would be a wish for its revival.
We have in this account followed the opinions, and adopted the words of the author of a brief statement of the causes which led to the dissolution of the Historical Society, which was published in 1815. We have followed his opinions-for they must be those of every friend to the literary welfare of his country-his words, for they are in every respect worthy of their subject.
The Prophesy of Dante.
Since the dissolution of the society some attempts have been made by its well-wishers to procure its resuscitation; and particularly at the promotion of the present Provost, a strenuous effort was resolved on. But the hopes which were founded on the appearance of Dr. Kyle's name among the original founders of the Society, were completely frustrated. We cannot precisely say to whom this failure is to be attributed; but the Board collectively must sustain the odium, and we cannot but think that the care which has been bestowed on the building of ball-court for the encouragement of idleness among the junior students, would have been better devoted to the purpose of reviving an institution which supplied so great a desideratum in collegiate education, and conferred such lustre on the establishment that supported it.
"The Prophecy of Dante," a Poem, by Lord Byron.
FROM the dark ages of antiquity, when the power of reason was unfelt, and the mind of man, debased by habitual enslavement, sank beneath the gloom of ignorance and error, we turn with a proud and conscious satisfaction to those times when Learning triumphed over the despotism that had en. thralled her, and the spirit of Genius, awakening from her dreamless slumber, went forth through the earth, rousing the dormant faculties of man, and calling into action the nobler energies of our nature. On those periods of mental regeneration we dwell with lingering delight; every flower that strews the path is consecrated by the recollection of some awakened feeling, or some novel emotion; and we turn from the sickening record of anterior imbecillity, to gaze on the illustrious annals of subsequent periods. To the land, where this immortal spirit first breathed the air of freedom, and wandered uncontrolled amid the wildness of nature, we are insensibly wedded; and while the names of Dante, Petrarch, Tasso, and Ariosto, exist, the land where Literature first reared her standard cannot be forgotten. The home of learning-the residence of the arts-the abode of beauty, of chivalry, and of song-Genius conferred upon
The Prophesy of Dante.
her a name that, otherwise, she never would have acquired; and the spirit which was generated in her bosom, scattered its diffusive rays upon the nations around her, and spread its influence wide as the creative powers of the sun.
We have been led into these reflections by the perusal of the Poem before us; with the name of Dante, recollections of a brighter nature are associated, and while we pause in admiration over the aspirations of genius, we are attracted insensibly to the home of its nativity. In adopting the idea of introducing the Tuscan Bard as prophesying the future fortunes of Italy, though the noble author may incur the charge of puerility, yet, in the conduct and management of his subject, he deserves the utmost praise. We discover the same boldness of style-the same freedom of expression-and the same exalted conceptions, which characterise the loftier range of his compositions. That depth of thought, that commanding sway which he holds over the passions and feelings of his reader, and that magic of delivery which keeps the imagination captive, are conspicuous in every line; and while we are perusing the effusions of a mortal pen, we almost fancy an immortal spirit is addressing us. We shall give a slight sketch of the leading topics on which he dwells, and briefly note each character as it passes.
Dante was born at Florence, 1261, and died in 1321; his ambitious spirit drew him from the retreats of literature and the presence of the muses, to join a factious party then prevailing in Florence; but failing in their object, and the power of his party decreasing, Dante was banished, and during his exile wrote some of his finest poems. He was the first who revived the Augustan age of learning in Italy, and by adopting the modern dialect in preference to the old Latin tongue, was enabled to confer a sweetness of expression, and purity of style, on his compositions, which excited the admiration of his successors, and induced them to imitate what his brighter genius had suggested. The prophecy is supposed to be delivered by Dante "in the interval between the conclusion of the Divina Commedia and his death, and shortly before the latter event, foretelling the foretunes of Italy in general in the ensuing centuries.' He begins with an address to Beatrice, in a strain of beauty and sublimity which challenges competition.
Oh Beatricé! whose sweet limbs the sod
The Prophesy of Dante.
Thou sole pure seraph of my earliest love,
That nought on earth could more my bosom move,
That without which my soul, like the arkless dove,
Relieved her wing till found; without thy light
And after commenting on the ingratitude of his country which had sent him forth, a homeless exile from the land which he would have died to save, he prophesies the coming of that day, when she will be proud to acknowledge the merits of her exiled Bard, and permit his bones to rest in the sanctuary of his fathers; which, in a burst of indignant passion, he avers shall never be the case.
No.-she denied me what was mine-my roof,
Alluding to the ascendancy of the Guelph, which was the cause of his banishment, he indulges for a moment in the bitterness of his feelings, and almost wishes that his country may experience the shame, and sorrow, and degradation, which she had flung upon him. From the dominion of such feelings he bursts with a noble enthusiasm, and, as it were, gifted with the spirit of prophecy, which "the great Seers of Israel wore within," he foretells the future glories of her name in giving birth to the most exalted characters; and in allusion to the reformation of her language by the introduction of the Italian in place of the old Roman tongue, the prophesying Bard is made to express himself in the following beautiful words:
But I will make another tongue arise
As lofty and more sweet, in which exprest
Shall find alike such sounds for every theme,
And make thee Europe's nightingale of song;
From thence he proceeds to prophesy the downfall of his country, the storms that shall agitate-and the earthquakes
The Prophecy of Dante.
that shall convulse her; the ruin and devastation which await her from the incursions of the German, Frank and Hun; and, in an address to Rome, he details the miseries which have desolated her, from the invasion of Brennus to the treachery of Bourbon; which he ascribes to the disunion of her children, and endeavors to awake the dormant spirit of freedom in their bosoms by reminding them of their descent from those who overthrew the conquerors of the Persian Prince in the passes of Thermopyla, and reared an empire for themselves upon the ruins of their predecessor's glory. The whole passage is so exquisitely managed and so happily conceived, that we cannot avoid extracting it.
Oh! Rome, the spoiler or the spoil of France,
From Brennus to the Bourbon, never, never
Oh! when the strangers pass the Alps and Po,
To topple on the lonely pilgrims head?
The peasant's harvest from his turbid bed?
Were not each barbarous horde a nobler prey?
Roll'd over Pharaoh and his thousands,- why,
Those who overthrew proud Xerxes, where yet lie
Are the Alps weaker than Thermopylæ ?
That to each host the mountain-gate unbar,
And makes your land impregnable, if earth
In a soil where the mothers bring forth men :
Of the poor reptile which preserves its sting