Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

with more colour, and her dress betrays a more liberal turn of thinking. A blooming miniature of a fancied lover supplies the place of a faded one of her father, and though it is with difficulty she cap ascend her carriage steps, she never refuses a partner at a ball, because it is the fashion to slide down a dance. But follow her to home and see the fretful airs and indignant passions into which she is thrown-because some one more engaging has received greater attentions than herself. A Faro table,or some other ingenious gaming amusement, is resorted to as the most efficacious method of revenge for past vexations: and if a young Captain or country Squire wins of her a few sovereigns, she retires to repose, vastly gratified...

STUDIES OF A YOUNG REVIEWER.

[The following fragments were found among some loose papers acci

dentally left on the table of a Coffee-house. They are perhaps the exercises of some young Aristarchus, preparatory to his engaging in the regular fields of criticism. · The writer seems to have studied the modern system with success, and to have caught some of the more common beauties which distinguish the periodical works of the present day. It must be allowed, however, that he has addicted himself to the contemplation of one side of the question only, and has not ventured on the laudatory style, in which it is at least ne-' cessary to understand some of the better qualities of the author reviewed.]

MACBETH, WILLIAM SHAKŞPEARE. · QUERE.-Tragedy or melodrame ?

It consists of a dance of hobgoblins—the murder of a Scotch king—the elevation of a murderer to the thronea ghost with his throat cut from ear to ear-a lady walking in her chemise—and the murderer's death! This last is good: poetical justice. The following are pleasant specimens of the style. We select them sincerely from the first page alone:

When the hurly-burly's done,

When the battle's lost and won. . * Hurly-burly'-vulgar-but we have too much respect for ourselves to utter a word against it; even to express our indignation, &c. As to the second, let the paradox speak for itself-if it can. Good. But we must proceed with this

heavy performance. (Here say, if your readers knew, &c. all we have to go through, &c. they would compassionate us.]

First Witch. I come, Greymalkin..

Second Witch. Paddock calls—Anon, &c. This seems to be neither more nor less than the overflowing drivelling nonsense that streams occasionally from the crazed heads of poor old imbecile women. It would be cruelty towards them to utter a single invective against it.

Doubtfully it (the battle) stood,
As two spent swimmers that do cling together,

And choke their art, &c. We shall be happy to offer a moderate reward to any young gentleman who will come forward and furnish us with a reasonable explanation of this riddle. It is utterly beyond our simple comprehension; and with respect to a passage that occurs shortly afterwards about a woman sailing to Aleppo' in a sieve, like a rat without a tail,' it absolutely confounds our critical faculties. It probably relates to some northern superstition, and may be imposing and original to many; but to us we confess that it appears to be a simple lump of nonsense beaten out and dilated into six lines by a heavier hammer than that of Thor.

Macbeth is a king of Scotland; and among other valuable sayings we have the following, We are told that it has been admired-in Scotland, we suppose ; .

I dare do all that may become a man;

Who dares do more, is none. If kings ever spoke thus, we may congratulate ourselves on the improvement of royal intellects. We need only refer our readers to the excellent speeches pronounced on the opening of Parliament to satisfy them (by contrast) how perfectly barbarous and absurd were the colloquies of these earlier chieftains. Do but observe the miserable vanity of the first line, and the utter nonsense of the last. So, because a man does more than becomes him, he becomes-no man: he changes his sex, we suppose, or turns beast or blockhead, or something equally curious.

[ocr errors]

Mem.—Macbeth contrives to see a dagger floating about in the air--talks to it by the hour-follows it about as though it were a jack-o'-lantern; and in the end sticks his knife into his master's throat, in compliance with the hints of three old

women with beards, whom he sees through the suspicious medium of a Scotch mist.-Quere, if whiskey was made in those days? On how small a foundation a tragedy may be built !-Quere, may not the cauldron have been a private still, and Macbeth an officer of the revenue ? · Well, (here plead fatigue,) at last Macbeth gets the crown-stalks about with it on his head like a man in Bartholomew fair, and, in order to keep his hand in, cuts his friend Banquo's throat, and moralizes thereupon.-Note; Banquo's ghost appears, but he, (Macbeth) doesn't see it until after he has been drinking freely : sees a wood move, “ we suppose," under the same multiplying and fallacious influence. “ We suppose” the last syllable of recorded time' must mean something or other; but, quere, what? Congratulate ourselves and our readers on coming at the end of the tragedy. Too ridiculous for a nursery story: altogether bad: admonish the author, and compliment ourselves on our candour. ' Usual termination. .

Hamlet, by the same author, is merely the story of an unhappy young gentleman, who is allowed (very improperly) to walk about without his keeper. He raves and utters the most incoherent absurdities in the funeral tone of an undertaker. We despair of giving even an outline of the tale: indeed, it is out of the reach of common perseverance to get through the story at a sitting. There is a hea viness which comes over us which we are too apt to mistake for meditation, and it is not until we wake that we are altogether aware of the pleasing soporific which Mr. Hamlet had unconsciously prepared for us. There is another ghost in this tra, gedy, who incautiously chooses to take the air within the reach of the guns of the garrison. He may thank Mr. Shakspeare that he is not demolished— branch and root.'—How lucky it is that authors are omnipotent with respect to their own creations !-A Miss Ophelia (one of the characters) goes mad because her father dies, or, because she chooses to go mad, or for some other reason, equally cogent. She sings songs (like our itinerant market women) about lavender and primroses, &c.; and hangs herself, it seems, in order that her brother and Mr. Hamlet may fight about her. Her brother (Laertes) seems a gallant youngster, with no more : brains than may be safely ascribed to the head of the family ; and being puzzled on Mr. Hamlet's inviting him to eat a crocodile,' naturally declines making any answer, but fights him instead, with foils tipped with poison. These youths kill each other in an ingenious way, by changing weapons. Half the dramatis personæ die-some weep-some are executed in a summary way—and the tragedy and our lethargy .terminates at last. ; Some of the other plays of this author call loudly for castigation; more especially a thing called • The Tempest,' and a sort of puppet-show, entitled " A Midsummer Night's Dream,' in which poor little unresisting creatures of about an inch long are pressed into the service of the Tragic Muse, and utter words as large and nonsense as sounding as fools of a larger genius; nay, their absurdities are equally imposing--one man appears with an ass's head, and inclines one almost to credit the doctrine of Metempsychosis, and to think that he has merely returned to his original deformities. But enough. We hope that we have always shown ourselves to be the friends of true genius; but there is a spurious quality that in some measure approximates itself, which we are anxious at all times to decry. It seems to us to be the case here, and we have accordingly done our best to warn the the world against deception. Many silly people have attained a kind of celebrity for a short time, but posterity will not be long or be easily deceived; and its rewards will be eventually heaped upon those whose pretensions are recognised and adjusted by common sense.

Olliers' Miscellany.

PASSING BELL.
(Original.)

. On the subject of Popular Superstition, Grosse observes that our ancestors had two especial purposes in the use of The Passing Bell.

First, to obtain the prayers of all good Christians for the soul of the departed; this was not a little important at a time when a few masses could redeem the damned from the pains of purgatory.

Secondly, it was supposed that the evil spirits had a great aversion to bells, and were driven away by the sound, thus

leaving the soul a free passage from the earth to Heaven. The Devil and his subordinate agents were much more active personages in the dark times than they are with us, and used constantly to watch by the bed or chamber-door of the dying, to snap up the soul in its flight, like so many hawks pouncing on a sparrow.

Durandus too notices this delicacy of ear, and Winkynne de Worde observes in his Golden Legend,

“ The evyl spirytes that ben in the regyon of the ayre doubte moche when they here the belles ringen; and this is the cause why the belles ben ringen, when it thundreth, and when grete tempeste and outrages of wether happen, to the ende that the feindes and wicked spirytes shold be abashed and flee, and cease of the movynge of tempeste."

In all that Grosse has asserted he is no doubt right, but he has not gone above half way to the truth, no uncommon thing with better philosophers than the antiquarian. When he had found out the Devil's a version to the holy occupation of bellringing, it is a little surprising that he did not go one step farther, and seek into the cause of his antipathy; or did he suppose it was with the fiend as it was with Shylock, “ affection, mistress of passion, sways it to the mood of what it likes or loathes ?"— Truly he has done no great justice either to the fiend, or to his subject ; Bells are of a more ancient family than he supposes, and the reason of their use lies rather deeper than his investigation. Many ancient images of the Priapus have the bell attached to them, which bell was of a pyramidal form to show the igueous essence of the Deity. The ringing of bells too was common in the ancient sacrifices, as we read in the Scholiasts on Theocritus, Idyl the II. Prior to these, rattles were used, but the meaning in either * case was the same; the clattering noise of the rattle, and the jingle of the bell were adopted to typify the movement and mixture of the elements, from the union of which all things are produced. Hence too, the use of the latter in Catholic churches; these bells being cymbols of the creative power were naturally enough opposed to the operation of the de. structive, and superstition did the rest. Hence the aversion of the dæmon, or the emblem of the destructive powers, to the bells, the emblems of the creative. But thus it is with all religions; in the onset, reason is their basis, the Deity is represented as an essence, and the rites of worship are all symbols of his beneficence as shown in his works; but in time,

« AnteriorContinuar »