« PreviousContinue »
so suggestive of a design to delude the beholder terranean cellar, in order to taste it. into an idea of the worthlessness of the docu- They (the two) proceed there according, ment; these things, together with the hyper-ly; the tempter in some ordinary carnival obtrusive situation of this document, full in disguise ; the doomed man in the motley view of every visitor, and thus exactly in ac
with cordance with the conclusions to which I had grotesque dress of a Fool or Zany, previously arrived; these things, I
All things the usual cap and bells.
say, were strongly corroborative of suspicion, in one who having been prepared beforehand, the came with the intention to suspect.
amateur is induced to drink, glass after "I protracted my visit as long as possible, glass, until he becomes intoxicated and and while I maintained a most animated discus: stupid. In this state, the other proceeds sion with the Minister, upon a topic which I to build him up, in a recess in the wall. knew well had never failed to interest and excite him, I kept my attention really riveted His task is almost done; and he is just upon the letter. In this examination, I com- about to fix the last stone in its place, mitted to memory its external appearance and when the poor drunkard shakes his fool's arrangement in the rack; and also fell, at bells, and utters a single half-conscious cry length, upon a discovery which set at rest of alarm. The murderer, staggered by the whatever trivial doubt I might have entertained. sound, hesitates for a moment-only a In scrutinizing the edges of the paper, I ob moment--and then contemplates his diaserved them to be more chafed than seemed bolical task; shuts .up his
alive in necessary, They presented the broken appear his grave, and returns to the upper air ance which is manifested when a stiff paper, and society. He is oppressed, however, folder, is refolded in a reversed direction, in the by remorse, which never leaves him till same creases or edges which had formed the he dies. The helpless cry of the stupefied original fold. This discovery was sufficient. victim, and the clash of his bells—a terriIt was clear to me that the letter had been ble incident in the murderous gloom of turned, as a glove, inside out, re-directed, and the scene-will ring for a long time (unresealed. I bade the minister good morning, less we mistake) in the reader's memory; and took my departure at once, leaving a gold snuff-box upon the table.'”—Pp. 278–279.
The poetical works of the author need
not detain us long. With one remarkaHe goes home, prepares carefully a fac- ble exception, his verses do not differ simile of the letter, and returns next materially from others of the same time. morning for his snuff-box. During the They are neither very good nor very bad. gossip which ensues upon his visit, a loud They do not exbibit much depth or grareport of fire-arms, accompanied by phic power, and but little tenderness-nor screams, is heard underneath the minis- | do they, in fact, possess any of those dister's window. That functionary throws tinguishing qualities which lift a man up up the sash for a moment to ascertain the beyond his contemporaries. The blank cause of the disturbance, and during this verse is not good; but some of the smaller interval Dupin exchanges his fac-simile pieces have a smoothness and liquid flow for the original letter so ardently desired. that are pleasant enough. One short The man who fires the pistol is a colleague poem, said to have been written at the of Dupin. The reasoning upon which age of fourteen, and addressed “To Dupin proceeds in this matter must be Helen,” is full of promise. sought for in the tale itself.
Of all Mr. Poe's poems, however, “The We had marked, as worthy of extract, Raven” is by far the first. It is, like the a short story, entitled “The Cask of larger part of the author's writings, of a Amontillado;" but we are obliged to gloomy cast; but its merit is great; and content ourselves with merely recom- it ranks in that rare and remarkable class mending it to the reader's notice. The of productions which suffice singly to make tenor of it is as follows: A man, owing a reputation. Whether or not it was to some previous slight or insult, entertains manufactured in the deliberate way stated the most implacable hatred towards ano- by the writer in his article on The Phither. During the Carnival, (for the scene losophy of Composition,” we do not is laid in Italy,) he insinuates himself into know; but the passage in which he disthe society of his victim, who is a great sects with anatomical precision what amateur of rare wines, and inflames his might otherwise pass for the offspring of imagination so much by the description impulse and of genius, is curiously chaof a certain matchless cask of Amontillado, racteristic of his analytical disposition. that the other is induced to visit the sub- The poem itself, however, deserves to be remembered by all lovers of verse. In "Much I marveled this ungainly fowl to hear disthe United States its popularity is uni
course so plainly, versal, but we believe it still to be far less Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy
bore; known in this country than it ought to For we can not help agreeing that no living human be. We therefore transcribe the greater being portion of it.
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his "Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, chamber-door, weak and weary,
With such name as 'Nevermore.' Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore
“But the Raven, sitting lonely on that placid bust, While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there spoke only came a tapping,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my
did outpour. chamber-door.
Nothing further then he uttered; pot a feather then " 'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, tapping at my he flutteredchamber-door
Till I scarcely more than muttered: Other friends Only this and nothing more.' have flown before
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have "Ah! distinctly I remember it was in the bleak De
flown before.' cember,
Then the bird said: 'Nevermore.' And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
“Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly Eagerly I wished the morrow; vainly I had sought spoken, to borrow
'Doubtless,' said I, what it utters is its only stock From my books surcease of sorrow-sorrow for the and store lost Lenore
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerci. For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels
ful Disaster pame Lenore
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one Nameless here for evermore.
burden bore Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden
bore" And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each pur
Of Never-nevermore.' ple curtain Thrilled me-filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
"But the Raven still beguiling all my sad soul into So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood
smiling, repeating :
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird • 'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at
and bust and door; ber-door
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird This it is, and nothing more.'
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking Nevermore.' “Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
“This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my
expressing Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease
bosom's core; stopped or staid he; But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my on the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light
reclining chamber-doorPerched upon a bust of Pallas just above my cham- But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light
She shall press, ah! nevermore! " Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into “ Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed smiling,
from an unseen censer By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the
tufted floor. * Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,' I Wretch,' I cried, 'thy God hath lent thee-by said, 'art sure no craven,
these angels he hath sent thee Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from Respite--respite and nepenthe from thy memories the Nightly shore
of Lenore ! Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Quaff, oh! quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this Plutonian shore !'
lost Lenore ! Quoth the Raven: 'Nevermore.'
Quoth the Raven: 'Nevermore.'
""Prophet!' said I, 'thing of erill prophet still, if | of this collection, is an extraordinary inbird or devil!
stance of his subtle and discriminating reWhether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed search into the very elements of fiction.
thee here ashore, Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land en. It is impossible to trace out with greater chanted
nicety the very germ of a plot, and the On this home by Horror haunted tell me truly, I finest artifices of invention. But here the
implore Is there is there balm in Gilead ? tell me—tell me, few of them enter into the question of the
interest of Edgar Poe's criticisms stops : I implore. Quoth the Raven : Nevermore.' peculiar genius of the author reviewed, of
the class to which he belongs, of the way "Prophet l' said I, 'thing of evil-prophet still, if in which education and events have bird or devil !
moulded him, of his habits or every-day By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God life, or of those impulses or physical cir
we both adore Tell this soul with sorrow laden, if, within the dis- cumstances which have impelled his inteltant Aidenn,
lect to assume that particular shape in It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels which it presents itself before the world. name Lenore
Without entering into some such conClasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels siderations, the critic can scarcely place name Lenore.' Quoth the Raven: 'Nevermore.'
his author fairly on his pedestal. We feel,
even in the case of Mr. Poe, that it would "Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend I have been most desirable if a fuller bioI shrieked, up-starting
graphy had accompanied his works. . "Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Honest and able, as far as it goes, and Plutonian shore !
glancing upon the more prominent events Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul of his life, it leaves us without informa
hath spoken! Leave my loneliness unbroken! quit the bust above tion on many matters from which much
might have been gathered to form an acTake thy beak from out my heart, and take thy curate judgment. Perhaps we are, after form from off my door!'
all, copying the deformities only of the Quoth the Raven: 'Nevermore.'
man, at a time when we are anxious to
submit all that was good as well as bad “And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still to the reader's judgment. The rough
is sitting On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber nesses that were so conspicuous on the door ;
surface of Poe's character would naturally And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that attract the notice of his biographers in the is dreaming;
first instance. But, underneath, was there And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his nothing to tell of? no cheeriness in the
shadow on the floor; And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating boy-no casual acts of kindness-no ad
hesion to old friendships-no sympathy on the floor Shall be lifted—nevermore!" with the poor or the unhappy, that might
have been brought forward as indicative We do not propose to enter into the of his better nature ? Even he himself accuracy of the numerous investigations has done nothing to help us. His sketches which Mr. Poe appears to have insti- and stories are singularly deficient in all tuted into the publications of his brother reference to his own private life. It is and sister authors. To say the truth, we strange that a man who did and suffered do not estimate his powers as a critic so much should have felt nothing for the very highly. His essays on Criticism historian's hands! The petty acts are inwere, we imagine, written on the spur of deed before us, but perhaps the greatest the moment, without much consideration, is behind.” For no man is thoroughly and were more than sufficiently imbued evil. There must be slumbering virtues. with those prejudices with which he was good intentions undeveloped - even so apt, we are told, to view the works of good actions, claiming to have a place on contemporary writers. Some of his es- the record. Generosity, sympathy, chari. says are very slight and brief; some flip ty have often their abodes in lowly and pant; some distinguishable for that re- unexpected places—in poor, thoughtless, markable power of analysis which he car. humble bosoms—in the hearts of those ried into all his productions. His review who have deeply sinned. of “Barnaby Rudge,” in the third volume The influence of his faults was limited,
and the penalty (such as it was) he only probably pass into many hands, unaccomhad to bear. But the pleasure arising panied by the narrative of his personal from his writings has been shared by exploits. For one reader who carefully many thousand people. In speaking of weighs the actions of an author's life, himself personally, we have felt bound to there are a hundred who plunge into the express our opinions without any subter- midst of his works without any previous fuge. But we are not insensible that, inquiry. The seamstress reveling in whilst he grasped and pressed hardly on “ The Mysteries of Udolpho” neither some individuals with one hand, with the knows nor cares any thing about the comother he scattered his gifts in abundance fortable, domestic Mrs. Radcliffe. And on the public. These gifts are by no the young man, intent on cheering his means of a common order, and on balanc- leisure hour with the adventures of Mrs. ing the account of the author with pos- Amelia Booth, or Mr. Abraham Adams, terity, he ought to have credit for their has never heard perhaps that Henry full value.
Fielding (the noblest member of the house Fortunately for Edgar Poe, his personal of Denbigh) was as often reduced to shifts history will be less read, and will be more as one of his own heroes, and that he died short-lived than his fictions, which will poor, and in a foreign land.
From the Leisure hour,
"THE TIME OF THE SINGING OF BIRDS IS COME."
The hour of song is come!
Swells high a voice of mirth ;
Life has its tuneful birth.
A sound, a motion slight,
A thrill but scarce revealed,
Has earth's cold veins unsealed.
The fig-tree's branch is green,
The tender vine-bud swells,
Gleams from its waving bells;
The quivering rose-leaf tells.
O'erflows its crystal urn,
Far o'er the fields of morn.
Higher than matin swell,
And who inspired the lay.
From the cleft rock doth fly-
On radiant wing borne high.
Or praise its soft breath sends :
On gentle mission here.
Where sin had breathed its blight,
Songs in affliction's night!
I've heard a sweeter song-
The plains where midnight lowers;
Those hymn-notes chimed the hours
* "He giveth songs in the night."-Job 35: 10.
A GLANCE AT THE THEOLOGY OF HOMER.
When luxuriating over the pages of that we can not regard such a loss as desome classic author of any age, how natu- plorable, is to be remembered the improrally does the wish arise, that we could bability of their having been contemporatake a peep at the people who read them, ries. Religion takes precedence of philowith not less keen a relish, at their first sophy; action, of investigation; the epos, issue. We long to ask them, who and of genealogy: and it is altogether to be what is the God or gods you worship? regarded as unlikely that Hesiod's TheoHow do you worship Him or them?gony was the product of Homer's century, What are your ideas of religion, philoso- as that Mrs. Cowden Clarke's "Infancy of phy, the world, and things in general ? Shakspeare's Heroines” was in being at the What, in short, your universal relations ? same time with the immortal bard himself. Man, in spite of Hobbes and his Leviathan, “Who but the poet has given gods to is a social animal, and as such will con- men ?” is a question that has been asked stantly be making inquiries into the social by one, who, in the interrogative form, life of his fellows in remote times and meant to assert strongly a categorical distant places. In ages and countries proposition. From which we take leave where novels or plays have been in vogue, to dissent; involving, as it does, at least we arrive at the closest approach to a the one fallacy of concreting the poetical resolution of our difficulty; but in times sentiment into the poetic individual. The anterior, and in places foreign to this class poet may be the god-fashioner, but not of literary production, we are driven to the god-giver ; although the poetic feeling, speculation as to the state of society in apart from revelation or intuition, (which which such and such historical facts were is a kind of individual revelation,) may possible ; and to deduction from the hero have postulated a deity, or more probably of the poet, to the peculiar thoughts and deities. Of what kind those deities were feelings of the epoch and the nation of which man eliminated, as the German his which this hero was intended to be the amel out of the depths of his moral conrepresentative and embodiment. The sciousness, we are about to see. Let it office and gift of the poet, we take it, is be premised that men, with a sort of hazy not so much actually to create, as to mould conviction that neither class of beings fuland fashion; not so much to announce to filled the ideal of their respective natures, the people amongst whom he sings their held a tradition, that in the olden time, wants and aspirations, as to put these into long anterior to the Homeric, and the their most harmonious and cosmical form; dynasty under which we are about to not so much to give them a faith, as to place ourselves, more beneficent and just render tangible and luminous the faith al- gods bore sway over more happy and conready floating in their minds. Apollo tented subjects. stabilizes and fixes, does not make, Delos. The gods of Homer were for the most
In what follows, we shall for conve- part either the children or the children's nience sake, upon the principle just laid children of Saturn, (Kronos, or Time,) a down, sometimes employ the words Ho- parentage which precluded the idea of mer and Homeric as coëxtensive with eternity, but which yet preserved to them Greece and Grecian. Those who regard an existence that could never terminate. Hesiod as contemporaneous with Homer In form they did not materially differ from will, perhaps, think that, by the exclusion the human race; their greater power for of the former, we lose something of the good or evil
, their blessedness, their posdogmatic element of Greek theology, at session of the peaks of Olympus, and least so far as the genesis of the gods is thrones beyond the ether, broadly marked concerned; but over and above the fact their superiority. They governed the