Abbildungen der Seite

hasty and unintelligible explanation, he hastens home, where his search is again unsuccessful. So far Arden is his own biographer.

After a time, Morvale, by means of a miniature worn by Lucy, discovers that she is the daughter of Arden and Mary. He is about to send for Arden to inform him of this fact, when he makes the additional discovery, that Calantha is the nameless lady to whom his friend had been betrothed in Italy, and that his desertion of her was the occasion of that profound melancholy which was gradually killing her. He sends for Arden, and receives him by the death-bed of Calantha. His Indian nature thirsts for revenge, and, after making known his last discovery to the man whom he now considers his deadliest foe, draws a dagger, but is arrested in the act of striking by the entrance of Lucy, who throws herself between them. The relationship between Lucy and Arden is revealed, and she goes home with her father. Morvale, still struggling with his savage thirst for vengeance, wanders over the country on foot, and at last meets with an old man who converts him to Christianity. A chance occurring, he saves Arden from drowning, but leaves him before he has recovered his consciousness, though not before he has been seen and recognized by Lucy. Arden at length dies. By an informality in his will, Lucy is disinherited, and at this juncture Morvale returns in season to have the story end canonically with a wedding.

Our brief sketch does no kind of justice, of course, to the narrative skill of the author, which is, we are inclined to think, his strong point. But the comparative anatomist will see at a glance, that the skeleton is in many parts inconsistent with itself. Even granting (a large concession), that the hereditary savage in Morvale should have withstood all the refining influences of a high artificial culture, and the Mephistophelic polish acquired by attrition with the world, there is still a geographical blunder in the character. It is far less in accordance with what we know of the mild nature of the Hindoo, than with the less tractable idiosyncrasy of our American Indian, which takes the color of the white man's civilization only as a paint through which the Maker's original red shows itself at the first opportunity. But after making this allowance, we feel that the author has not used the character to the best advantage. This fresh, unfettered nature might have been brought into fine contrast with Arden, the artificial

product of the club and the saloon. Indeed, this seems to have been the author's original design, but in point of fact there is little substantial difference between the two characters as they are exhibited to us in the narrative, and they might change places without any great shock to the reader's sense of fitness.* Our author makes up his characters. His mind is not of that creative quality which holds the elements of different characters, as it were, in solution, allowing each to absorb only that which is congenial to itself, by a kind of elective affinity. The only savage propensity of Morvale's nature which is brought to bear upon the story is the sentiment of revenge, and for this the motive is not sufficient. Why should Morvale wish, or how could he expect, that Arden should have committed what would have been at least moral bigamy by marrying Calantha? If not, what injury was there to avenge? The story, in fact, ends with Arden's discovery of his daughter; the whole of Morvale's conduct after this event seems to be an unnatural excrescence. The author may plead that he intended to convey a moral; but the moral of a story should always be infused into it, or rather should exhale out of every part of it, like the odor of a flower. It is but an incumbrance, when wafered on. Besides, the means by which he manages the conversion of his hero are ludicrously insufficient to the end. If Horace's rule be true, that a god must not be brought in unless the knot refuses to be unloosed by simpler means, then it follows, a fortiori, that, when brought, the god should be competent to the task in hand. It is absurd that Morvale, after holding out so long against more natural inducements, should be converted at last by a very prosy sermon from an old man whom he meets under a hedge, and whom he would have been much more likely to consider a bore than an apostle. The author should have remembered his master Pope's criticism upon Milton. It would have been much more to the purpose, had Morvale been regenerated by his love for Lucy. As the dénouement is managed, we feel very much as when we first discovered that the red man of our boyish

In his tragedy of "Luria," Mr. Browning has finely worked out an idea similar in kind, though with tragic, and not satirical, contrast. We are glad to recognize in the last work of this very promising dramatist a more assured touch, and a chastened, though by no means diminished, vigor and originality.

[blocks in formation]

imagination, the one hero of Cooper under a dozen aliases, "The stoic of the woods, the man without a tear,"

was powerless to resist the persuasion of a string of glass beads.

We will now proceed to extract some of the passages which have struck us most favorably in reading the book, and which give a fair idea of the author's manner and spirit. In the first part of the poem there are a few sketches of well-known public characters, which, as they are complete in themselves, and have no connection with the story, we will quote first. They do not assume to be complete full-lengths, but must be understood as hit off with a pencil on the crown of a hat. We omit that of Sir Robert Peel, who seems to have puzzled our author, and come to the Duke of Wellington.

"Next, with loose rein and careless canter view
Our man of men, the Prince of Waterloo;
O'er the firm brow the hat as firmly prest,
The firm shape rigid in the button'd vest;
Within the iron which the fire has proved,
And the close Sparta of a mind unmoved!
Not his the wealth to some large natures lent,
Divinely lavish, even where misspent,
That liberal sunshine of exuberant soul,
Thought, sense, affection, warming up the whole;
The heat and affluence of a genial power,
Rank in the weed as vivid in the flower;
'Hush'd at command his veriest passions halt,
Drill'd is each virtue, disciplined each fault;
Warm if his blood he reasons while he glows,
Admits the pleasure - ne'er the folly knows;
If for our Mars his snare had Vulcan set,
He had won the Venus, but escaped the net;
His eye ne'er wrong
if circumscribed the sight,
Widen the prospect and it ne'er is right,
Seen through the telescope of habit still,
States seem a camp, and all the world-

a drill! - pp. 34, 35.

O'Connell next passes across our magic-lantern.

"But who, scarce less by every gazer eyed,
Walks yonder, swinging with a stalwart stride?
With that vast bulk of chest and limb assign'd
So oft to men who subjugate their kind;

So sturdy Cromwell push'd broad-shoulder'd on;
So burly Luther breasted Babylon;

So brawny Cleon bawl'd his Agora down;

And large-limb'd Mahmoud clutch'd a Prophet's crown! "Ay, mark him well! the schemer's subtle eye, The stage-mime's plastic lip your search defyHe, like Lysander, never deems it sin

To eke the lion's with the fox's skin;

Vain every mesh this Proteus to enthrall,
He breaks no statute, and he creeps through all;
First to the mass that valiant truth to tell,
'Rebellion's art is never to rebel,


Elude all danger, but defy all laws,'
He stands himself the Safe Sublime he draws!
In him behold all contrasts which belong
To minds abased, but passions rous'd, by wrong;
The blood all fervor, and the brain all guile,-
The patriot's bluntness, and the bondsman's wile."

- pp. 36, 37. The drawing of the present premier is still more happily touched.

"Next cool, and all unconscious of reproach,

[ocr errors]

Comes the calm 'Johnny who upset the coach.'
How formed to lead, if not too proud to please,
His fame would fire you, but his manners freeze.
Like or dislike, he does not care a jot;
He wants your vote, but your affections not;
Yet human hearts need sun, as well as oats,
So cold a climate plays the deuce with votes.
And while its doctrines ripen day by day,
His frost-nipp'd party pines itself away;
From the starved wretch its own loved child we steal·
And Free Trade' chirrups on the lap of Peel! -
But see our statesman when the steam is on,
And languid Johnny glows to glorious John!
When Hampden's thought, by Falkland's muses drest,
Lights the pale cheek, and swells the generous breast;
When the pent heat expands the quickening soul, —
And foremost in the race the wheels of genius roll!"

It is impossible to do justice to the poem by means of detached passages.

pp. 38, 39. narrative parts of the We shall glean a de

scriptive passage here and there, as a fairer course toward the

author, these being at least complete in themselves. The following verses, conveying the feelings suggested by night in London, are striking.

"The Hours steal on- and o'er the unquiet might
Of the great Babel-reigns, dishallowed, Night!
Not, as o'er Nature's world, She comes, to keep
Beneath the stars her solemn tryst with Sleep,
When move the twin-born Genii side by side,
And steal from earth its demons where they glide;
Lull'd the spent Toil-seal'd Sorrow's heavy eyes,
And dreams restore the dews of Paradise;

But Night, discrown'd and sever'd from her twin,
No pause for Travail, no repose for Sin,
Vex'd by one chafed rebellion to her sway,
Flits o'er the lamp-lit streets- a phantom-day!
Here are a pair of out-of-doors scenes.

p. 141.

The first is con

tained in a very few lines, but it is natural and touching. Arden has returned to England, and is seeking Mary at her old home.

"Behold her home once more!

Her home! a desert!

still, though rank and wild,

On the rank grass the heedless floweret smiled;

Still by the porch you heard the ungrateful bee,

Still brawled the brooklet's unremembering glee." - p. 92.

The other is an autumnal landscape. But it must be observed that the author never paints directly from nature, but from the reflection of her in his own mind.

"Now Autumn closes on the fading year,

The chill wind moaneth through the woodlands sere;
At morn the mists lie mournful on the hill,

The hum of summer's populace is still!

Hush'd the rife herbage, mute the choral tree,
The blithe cicala, and the murmuring bee;
The plashing reed, the furrow on the glass
Of the calm wave, as by the bank you pass
Scaring the glistening trout, delight no more;
The god of fields is dead - Pan's lusty reign is o'er!
Solemn and earnest yet to holier eyes
Not void of glory, arch the sober'd skies
Above the serious earth!-e'en as the age
When fades the sunlight from the poet's page,
When all Creation is no longer rife,

« ZurückWeiter »