Page images
PDF
EPUB

Slow paced he, destined to unite
Two kingdoms, by his mind and might :
O’ermatched, to marshal Freedom's field,
Ready to die, but not to yield-
To still the surge of civil broil-
To struggle with pacific toil
Happy that fate should Sully send,
A patriot-minister, and friend.
But Harry was the Lord's anointed,

And not a gilt stick, state-appointed.'-p. 31. With vast reason and abundant discretion has the poet noted the important circumstance that Harry was no gilt stick, else how could he have escaped the inconveniences to which the alluvial virtues of the trickling water' would have exposed him?

Soon, too soon, does it turn out that other invaders than the suspected ones, had interrupted the balmy slumbers of the delicate aspens. In the expressive words of our bard,

A demon rose, to crush delights
Fast opening in love's neophytes :
Ill omen for the royal suitor-

It wore the likeness of his-tutor !' La Gaucherie was the man. Long suspecting the tendencies of his charge—having reason to fear that the youth

· Had made a woful backsliding,' the "tutor” was enabled to procure intelligence of the intended meeting ;

• When, sallying forth, he had proof clear
Ocular and auricular-" (quere“ auriculeer")
That the rath gipsey had bewitched

The child his hand paternal-breeched !' Any Cambridge youth, who has ever made tea for his company, will supply a rhyme for “ bewitched,” infinitely more appropriate in sense and euphony, though scarcely more worthy of being repeated in good society than the phrase with which the author has coupled it.

The result is that the Prince is ordered by his mother to Bayonne, a journey that involves a complete separation between him and his rustic beauty. Leaving the dagger in the bosom of the youth, for a moment the poet pauses, and turning to the window, as might say, indulges in the following most becoming and noble reflections.

Skies to solace should mirror the mind;

Winter's the time to walk with Sorrow;
It mocketh him not, who is litlle inclined

To bid holyday suns good morrow.
He who in feverishness is waking-
His heart still sore from last night's aching,
When crimsony light over earth is breaking,

one

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Rolls back his thoughts into Memory's mist,
Hoping the phantom's with cock-crow dismissed,
That cumbered his breast like a mountain of lead ;
But, alas ! for the watcher, it hath not fled-
Would he had slumbered aniong the dead !
The sun-circle over and over him dancing,
Scorcheth the dim brow on which it is glancing;
The hum of the bee and the song of the bird
Are as wearisome sounds as he ever hath heard ;
And the scent of the woodbine adjacently growing,

Is a rank herb's breath on a sick man blowing.-p. 35, 36. In commending the winter as being the most appropriate season for 'walking with sorrow,' our poet perhaps deemed it unnecessary to specify the disadvantages of choosing the latter for a summer companion. It is not, however, very clear to us, that the time of the year is calculated at all to take from the disagreeable qualities of such an associate—nor can we indeed discover the principle on which the poet has come to his decision respecting the superiority of Winter. For example, if we refer to the case of his own hero, we shall be led to entertain conclusions not very consistent with the same theory.

• A fairer morn hath seldom shone
The bounding frame of youth' upon,
Than that which rose upon our hero
Aswith a spirit below zero,
He took the solitary road
To his divinity's abode,
That nestled where fruit-bearing trees

Waved their rich burdens in the breeze.'-pp. 36, 37. We think that we are pretty well justified in concluding from the circumstance of the fruit trees waving their rich burdens in the breeze, that the time of the scene was in a very advanced period of summer, when the temperature must have been very considerably elevated. Now, if under such circumstances the spirit of the young prince was so wonderfully cool as to bring the thermometer down below Zero, we are impelled to believe that the same calamity occurring in winter time, would have converted the unfortunate lover into an iceberg, at least. And this is our reason for differing from our great poet upon a question, be it remembered, which, after all, compromises a very minor, and to him, a very superfluous, qualification.

Henry tapped at the window, and in a trice Fleurette was by his side. He forthwith disclosed the dread tidings of his banishment, and the effect of the news on her sensitive frame was such as to satisfy the most fastidious of lovers.

• The finger of despair she felt
Froin his embrace she seemed to melt-

She tottered to the broad beech-tree,
In blossoming-time, a fragrant pea,

Reft of its support suddenly.'---p. 38. It is hard to expect every sort of perfection in a poet. He may understand the philosophy of flowers, ad infinitum: but there is no pretence for exacting from him a familiarity with garden vegetables. Hence, to confer upon Fleurette all the maturity of a full grown marrafat pea, at the very moment that she is said to be still within the precincts of the blossoming season, is only another example of that privation of minute knowledge, which is supposed to be the source of negative bliss to those who happen to be the subjects of such a lucky abandonment.

Twelve months and three had just passed when Henry returned to Nerac, all his love, all his vows and promises utterly extinguished for poor Fleurette, whose image in his breast had been superseded by that of D'Ayelle, a newer, and therefore a more engaging beauty. The knowledge of his faithlessness weighs heavily on the deserted girl; she resolves on self-destruction, communicates her intention to her former lover, who, struck with the pangs of remorse, pursues her to the fountain, and arrives there in time to find only her breathless corpse; we give the catastrophe in the words of the author.

* The lamp upon his features playing,

Shewed fear predominating there;
Before him the dread billet laying,
While something whispered 'twas conveying

Tidings he could not bear.
What may we not be doomed to feel
On severing of a tiny seal !
All that soothes and all that maddens,
All that elevates and saddens,-
Whatever Henry's weird, 'tis now
About to break upon

his brow;
For the feeble lines he traces-
Seeming still to change their places--
Few the words--enough for him !
Dancing on that paper dim.

“ By the Fountain seek for me,
There I told thee I should be,
Let what would betide to thee.
Pass thou may'st without perceiving
Her thou partedst without grieving :
Though thy love no longer burn,
I shall wait for thy return.
Search again, and thou shalt have me;

All is well-0! God forgive me !"
From Henry's prophet breast arise,
More than woman's wildest cries,
In her spirit's agonies !

Summoning the household band,
Torches blazing in each hand,
Over height and over hollow,
With a speed they strained to follow-
To the Fountain he led on,
To the basin cut in stone :
He hath plunged into the water,
In his arms he hath caught her-
He supports her on the bank,
Shading back her tresses dank;
Printing fast the frenzied kiss
On a cheek—no longer his !
Offering provinces to give
Him whose skill would bid her live-
Vowing vengeance on his head,
Who should dare to think her dead!
Sure the arrow was, and keen,
That had pierced the garden queen!
Threats, or promises, were vain-

She would never bloom again ! —pp. 61-63. And now we ask if the reader be not satisfied, that Mr. Kennedy is the very first, or amongst the first poets of our time? Is not there good muscle in these lines? Does not Mr. Kennedy strike an idea on the head with a vigorous hand ? and do not his thoughts rise up in his pages like bristles upon the fretful porcupine? Verily this is poetry to which critics and critics only can do justice!

But we should be very badly discharging our duty to the public, if we were to dismiss this case of Mr. Kennedy, the poet, without a few observations in a more serious strain, than that which we have thought it necessary to adopt in the few preceding pages. Let any competent person just peruse the extracts which we have made(we shall give him the freedom of the whole work for the same purpose,) and say, honestly, if he can discover in them any thing whatever, in the shape of a thought or expression,—any intellectual contrivance of any kind, indicative of the presence of an order of mind that is not possessed by every second individual that one meets with in a day. We defy the most penetrating genius in existence to point out, from the first to the last page of this book, the faintest traces of that rare faculty which, however indescribable it may be, manifests itself in results of one kind or another, that never fail to be adequately recognized. We blame not the youthful indiscretion of a volume of verses—it is the heavy tribute, which few escape from, who visit, in their tender years, the golden regions of taste and fancy. Every child reckons upon being able to add another to the illustrious line of bards who have shed glory on their country; seldom, however, does the delusion survive the first discipline of reason. If in our day, however, the reverse of this takes place, if the fond chimeras of the boy are deliberately cherished by the

man, we owe the revolution to causes with which it is the peculiar misfortune of our time to be troubled ; into these causes we refrain, at present, from penetrating. Enough of their mischievous efficacy is manifested, in the fact that they have driven, and do continually drive, men of mediocrity into the arena, where supreme excellence alone can maintain a permanent footing.

Art. III. - The Life of Mrs. Jordan, including Original Private Cor

respondence, and numerous Anecdotes of her Cotemporaries. By James Boaden, Esq., author of the “ Life of Kemble," &c. 2 vols. 8vo.

London : Edward Bull, 1831. We very much fear, that Mr. Boaden, in this work, without acting very fairly towards the public, has been betrayed into the commission of a great degree of injustice towards himself. He must have been perfectly conscious that the announcement of the life of Mrs. Jordan by a familiar of the theatrical houses, would, under the peculiar circumstances of our day, have excited the glow of curiosity in the bosom of the most indifferent subject of this realm. To take advantage of this universal state of the public mind, and to palm upon it, in the name of Mrs. Jordan, a hotch-potch from the newspapers, is neither creditable to a veteran writer, who is well acquainted with the better days of our literature, nor wilt it prove, we may assure him, of use to his own interests. What reader

expects to find no more than about a fourth part of the contents of these volumes occupied by Mrs. Jordan and her concerns ? What reader will be satisfied with such an arrangement? We are ready to admit that cotemporary history is sometimes admissible into the biographies of individuals; but this allowance is restricted to the introduction of such facts and circumstances as are naturally connected with the principal subject, either illustrating conduct or motives, or in some measure calculated to have an influence upon our opinion of the person whose life we are reading.

If this principle be a just one, we can have no indulgence for Mr. Boaden, who brings us over the theatrical history of the last forty or fifty years for the thousandth time, gratifying us with a very long and elaborate version of Master Betty's first appearance, of which we never heard before; and full and complete accounts of the equally novel and inexplicable events—the burning of the two theatres. There are in these volumes, also, sundry other episodes concerning John Kemble, Mrs. Siddons, Colman, and the rest, with which the public is long familiar, through the magazines and the annual registers. No man certainly is more indebted to his “Cotemporaries' than Mr. Boaden, for no one has turned them to more profitable account.

But if Mr. Boaden had really given us something worth reading of Mrs. Jordan; if he had removed even a small portion of the veil

« PreviousContinue »