Imágenes de páginas

Having once formed his plan, no time was ever lost, but an immediate announcement was made in a drawling, monotonous voice :

*Ralph Roanoke will stand on one foot for an hour, on the horse-block in front of the door, bare-headed; and every time he falls off will add another half hour.'

An instantaneous roar of laughter followed this announcement, in which I joined as heartily as any. In general, this out-break would have brought condign punishment upon the head of every fellow who was caught laughing. But Elihu was eccentric withal, and would have been very much chagrined if his announcement had been received quietly. He would have felt it to be a failure. It was a tribute to his invention. Yes, the more his boys laughed, the more he inwardly chuckled, and the greater was the danger of a collapse to his stockinets. Thanks to good and well-developed muscles, I hopped upon the block, and went at it as cheerfully as a martyr. The old adage, that it is an ill wind that blows no body any good,' was again verified in my case. It was literally impossible for the boys to study with Ralph cocked up on one leg, making all kinds of grimaces when Elihu's eye was turned away, without shutting the door, and if the door was shut, it could not be seen whether he was in statu quo or not. Thus I bad the penalty and the other boys had the fun.

At length the hour expired, and Elihu gravely made the announcement,

Ralph Roanoke having stood an hour on his right leg, can now take his seat.'

But Ralph could not resist the temptation to show his bottom by flapping his wings, (arms,) and crowing like a fighting-cock.

Another roar of laughter, and then followed that monotonous voice :

"Ralph Roanoke will stand another hour on his left leg, and the first one who laughs shall keep him company.'

This second hour on t'other leg completely smoothed down all Ralph's impudence, and the latter clause took the grin off the faces of all merry-makers, and put another stripe on the shoulders of the great Captain Elihu H. Howe.


The 'Life-Drama,' the reviewer concedes, ‘has the merit, such as it is, of not showing much of the littérateur, or connoisseur, or indeed the student; but the poems present continual images drawn from the busy seats of industry,' and 'there is a charm in finding the black streams that welter out of factories, the dreary lengths of urban and suburban dustiness,

the squares and streets,

And faces that one meets,' irradiated with a gleam of genuine purity.' The story of the 'Life-Drama' is thus briefly indicated: “WALTER, a boy of poetic temperament and endowment, has, it appears, in the society of a poet-friend now deceased, grown up with the ambition of achieving something great in the highest form of human speech. Unable to find or make a way, he is diverted from his lofty purposes by a romantic love-adventure, obscurely told, with a lady' who finds him asleep, ENDYMION-like, under a tree. The fervor and force of youth wastes itself here in vain ; a quick disappointment-for the lady is betrothed to another-sends him back enfeebled, exhausted, and embittered, to essay once again his task. Disappointed affections and baffled ambition, contending henceforward in unequal strife with the temptations of skepticism, indifference, apathetic submission, base indulgence, and the like; the sickened and defeated, yet only too strong, too powerful man, turning desperately off, and recklessly at last plunging in mid-unbelief into joys to which only belief and moral purpose can give reality; out of horror-stricken guilt, the new birth of clearer and surer, though humbler, conviction, trust, resolution; these happy changes met, perhaps a little prematurely and almost more than half-way, by success in the aims of a purified ambition, and crowned, too, at last, by the blessings of a regenerate affection—such is the argument of the latter half of the poem; and there is something of a current and tide, so to say, of poetic intention in it, which carries on the reader (after the first few scenes) perforce, in spite of criticism and himself, through faulty imagery, turgid periods, occasional bad versification and even grammar, to the close.'

The reviewer thinks little of the first four or five scenes. There are,' it is observed, “frequent fine lines, occasional beautiful passages; but the tenor of the narrative is impeded and obstructed to the last degree, not only by accumulations of imagery, but by episode, and episode within episode, of the most embarrassing form. It is really discouraging to turn page upon page, while Walter is quoting the poems of his lost friend, and wooing the unknown lady of the wood with a story of another lady and an Indian page.' The sweet and tender thought of the lover-maiden, presently quoted, was in type among the excluded extracts of the notice in our last number :

"I have a strange, sweet thought. I do believe
I shall be dead in spring, and that the soul
Which animates and doth inform these limbs
Will pass into the daisies of my grave.
If memory shall ever lead thee there,
Through daisies I'll look up into thy face,
And feel a dim, sweet joy, and if they move,

As in a little wind, thou 'lt know 't is 1.'
Instead of writing from and in and of himself,' the critic of the North-
American cannot but see that Mr. Smith has 'followed predominantly, if not
exclusively, the writers of his own immediate time. He is the latest disci-

ple of the school of Kears. He is young enough to free himself from his present manner, which does not seem natural, and his own.' The verdict here expressed is one which has now been so fully and uniformly rendered, that appeal from it were wholly vain. 'ALEXANDER Smith writes, it would almost seem, under the impression that the one business of the poet is to coin metaphors and similes. He tells them out as a clerk might sovereigns at the Bank of England. So many comparisons —so much poetry; it is the sterling currency of the realm. He is most pleased when he can double or treble a similitude. But simile within simile, after the manner of Chinese boxes, are more curious than beautiful.' "The continuity of the poem is perpetually presumed upon; the attention which the reader desires to devote to the pursuit of the main drist of what the writer calls itself a single poem, is incessantly called off to look at this and look at that;' and he 'diverts us continually from the natural course of thought, feeling, and narrative.' Our own idea is, that there can be but little real feeling, and little original imagination, in such a writer; but this opinion we have already expressed.

A second 'division' is upon the ‘Poetical Remains of SIDNEY WALKER,' which are full of real timidity, real sinking from actual things, and real fear of living.' The author was the school-fellow and college-friend of PRAED. Marked from his earliest youth by his poetic temper and faculty, he passed fifty-one years, mostly in isolation and poverty, shivering upon the brink, trembling and hesitating upon the threshold of life. Fearful to affirm any thing, lest it haply might be false ; to do any thing, because so probably it might be a sin; to speak, lest he should lie; almost to feel, lest it should be a deception; he sat crouching and cowering in a dismal London back-street lodging, over the embers of a wasting and dying fire, the true image of his own vitality.' Yes; and one might almost say the same of his verse; which, although melodious in rhythm, and full of feeling, is of so sad, so melancholy a school, that we pass it by for the present. The writer may be more variously represented by his entire volume. Judging from the single poem quoted from the volume of the young Irish poet, WILLIAM ALLINGHAM, we should regard him as a keen observer of the outward in nature, with a heart to interpret its teachings to the hearts of others.

The remaining papers in the North-American are ‘Brougham's Political Philosophy;' The Eclipse of Faith, or a Visit to a Religious Skeptic;' "SPARKS' Correspondence of the Revolution ; ' 'Recent Social Theories;' * France, England, and America;' Modern Saints, Catholic and Heretic;' * The Life of Saint Paul;' THACKERAY as a Novelist ;' 'Writings of B. B. EDWARDS;' and 'SCHOOLCRAFT on the Indian Tribes. Of the articles abovenamed, we have found leisure to peruse only “The Eclipse of Faith,' the one on the Life of St. Paul, and that on the Writings of THACKERAY. The first, from internal evidence alone, we judge to be from the pen of Rev. Orville Dewey. It is characterized by logical force and beauty of style, as a single passage will sufficiently attest:

"WHEN we mark the fondness of birds and beasts for their young, and see that, after a few weeks or months, they no longer recognize their own offspring, we perceive that the care of the defenceless is the only and sufficient end of the instinctive love that they cherish. But in man, when dependence ceases, attachment survives and grows stronger. It is the testimony of those who know, that, severe as is the sorrow when little children are called away, those who die in their maturity carry with them a still larger portion of the parent's heart. The affections grow with the growth of charac ter, and are never more intense and active than on the near approach of death, when every cherished name of the living and the departed mounts to the lips, and the last strength of dissolving nature is expended in words of love and consolation for those that are to survive. If these affections are to slumber for ever in the grave, why are they suffered thus to grow through life and to live in death? We receive their permanence as a pledge of immortality. If not, what else does it mean? how else is it to be accounted for? why this distinguishing attribute of human love in contrast with all else that bears the semblance of love?

'All the phenomena of disease and dissolution present insuperable difficulties, unless man be immortal. If that which thinks and loves is part and parcel of the bodily frame, why does it live in undiminished and growing vigor with the mutilation and decay of that frame? How can the tongue, the hand, the foot be palsied, and the mind unimpaired? How can the body waste to the shadow of its former self, and the soul that tenants it seem more luminous and majestic than when its tabernacle was entire and sound? If the soul has not a separate life of its own, how can it be so clear and bright, so self-collected and earnest, so keen of apprehension, so rapid in action,

as it often is up to the very moment of dissolution? Why is it that the pro cess which Christians calls disembodiment frequently enhances, to an amazing degree, the quantity of mental and spiritual life, so that the feeble grow strong, the timid bold, the slow of tongue eloquent,

the lame of counsel wise, the dull of fancy rich in lofty and gorgeous imaginings? These things look not like the death of the soul.'

From the paper upon the Life of Saint Paul,' we present this consideration of what manner of person he probably was, with some very wellexpressed conclusions upon the assumption :

•What St. Paul was in person we can infer but vaguely. He quotes those who speak of his bodily presence as weak, and his speech as contemptible;' and there is reason to believe that the 'thorn in the flesh' to which he refers was the close-clinging consciousness of a physical nature ill-adapted to win respect and deference. Yet, wherever he appeared, he seems to have commanded profound attention, and to have awakened lasting interest in the truths that he dispensed. If insignificant in outward aspect, his presence exerted a controlling influence. If lame in speech, results prove him to have been the most eloquent man of his age. We can conceive that he may have derived added power from the very infirmities of which he was so painfully conscious. The most ample physical endowments are over-prone to fasten regard on the orator, rather than on his cause. The brilliant harangue attracts more praise for its rhetoric than heed to its doctrine. Nay, there is prone to adhere to those who are eloquent by the gift of nature, the suspicion of excessive self-reference; and many are the earnest men in professional and public life, the efficacy of whose words would be greatly enhanced by diminished symmetry of form and feature, or by something less than faultless accent and modulation. On the other hand, a spirit of superior brightness and energy, when lodged in a diminutive, feeble, or deformed body, frees itself to an amazing degree from all bodily circumspection, works itself loose from organic laws, and becomes endowed with a power of action and influence far beyond the measure of its apparent means and opportunities. Thus, too, a slender, shrill, harsh, or intractable voice, when laden with great thoughts and fervent emotion, either rises into an eloquence as far above artistical rules as it is wide of them; or else, in its utter inadequacy there is an inexplicable charm, which brings hearers into that close intimacy with the speaker, in which his spirit seems to be transfusing itself directly into theirs, rather than communing with them through the medium of language. We conceive of St. Paul's person as in itself unattractive, but as irradiated in countenance, gesture, and mien, as absolutely transfigured and glorified, by, the vividness of his spiritual perceptions, the intensity of his zeal, the fervor of his piety. His voice, too, may have been beneath the capacity of culture ; yet it must have swelled and surged, grown majestic in its intonation and rhythm, trembled with deep emotion, risen into grandeur as it spoke of CHRIST and heaven, and struck the most gentle chords when moved by pity and sympathy. Such a soul as his could have assimilated the meanest apparatus of bodily functions to its own intense and noble vitality; could have become transparent through the most opaque medium; could have made itself profoundly felt even with a stammering tongue or a barbarous dialect.'

We have not of late had the requisite space to do justice to the merits of our old and favorite Quarterly; but our readers will find it no whit behind its previous reputation, either as to matter or manner. Its typography is as correct and faultless as ever.

« AnteriorContinuar »