« ZurückWeiter »
But half of me; one half behind
And bring the other to thy mind.' A considerable portion of gentlemanly information is displayed in these notes : but the means which his reading affords to an author for doing better only induce us to regret the more the little use to which he has applied them. Art. 15. Young Arthur ; or the Child of Mystery. A Metrical Romance. By C. Dibdin.
8vo. 148. Boards. Longman and Co. 1819. Alas! Alas!
“ Ætas parentum, pejor avis, tulit
Progeniem vitiosiorem." If this were true of the morals and the literature of Rome in the age of Horace, is it not true of the literature (at least) of England in the age of George the Fourth ? Seldom have we encountered a less successful son of an illustrious parent than Mr. Charles Dibdin ; considered, of course, solely as an author of poetical and other Sans Souci productions. Where is the vigour, — where is the neatness, where is the good-humoured flow of soul of that lamented parent? Plain and truly English in his feeling, he admitted no modern fripperies into his style of verse or music, but went on in a gallant sailor-like manner, and was the true " Spanking Jack” of his own compositions. Combined with this spice of familiar if not of vulgar excellence, we witnessed an ardour, a simplicity, and an honesty about the elder Dibdin, which the heirs of his name (however worthy of it in many respects) have certainly not attained. Let our readers refect for a moment on
“ Here a sheer-hulk lies poor Tom Bowling!" Let them remember with gratitude
“ The sweet little cherub that sits up aloft
To take care of the life of poor Jack !" Let them sympathize with “ the Last Shilling!”
“ As pensive last night in my garret I sate,
My last Shilling expos'd on the table !" Above all, let them sigh over “ Poor Tom !" ..
“ Then, perchance, when homeward steering,
With the tale my messmates come,
With a sigh may say — * Poor Tom !" Let our readers, we say, recall to their hearts these and many other delightful and patriotic effusions of Dibdin the father, and then let them own that the main honour of the sons must be a re
flccted honour, and derived from their relationship to that genuine English writer of songs and ballads.
Comparisons, we have been often told, are odious : but it may be alleged that this remark is an appeal made to the feelings against the judgment : for, when similar things are attempted, can any thing be fairer than to compare the execution ? It is far from our wish to depreciate the acquirements of the present writer :- but, really, the prolix, the feeble, the unmeaning character of most of his versification, could not but remind us of the concise, the vigorous, and the intelligent, and therefore intelligible, efforts of his predecessor. We come to the sad proof of our unwilling denunciation. • To which of these, Sir Bard, do
Play you the fiddle, or the hurdigurdy ?' As we would afford the author every opportunity of shewing kis paces, whether swift or slow, and of curvetting as liberally as he likes in the eyes of his readers, we select the following specimens of lyric irregularity. Here, it will be observed, the whole soul of genius has room to expatiate.
• The Youth's History.
For a noble knight his sire;
And his bosom contain'd its fire;
And his bosom heav'd heavy; for peace was gone.
And his sire was a noble knight ;
And hope has many a blight:
"The bell must go,
And the hearse move slow,
For, on the bier,
With a sigh and a tear,
* The old knight dead,
To lay his head
'Twas his father's wrong;
For thus the song
And his steed was white,
While scarlet and green
Were his housings seen,
And the minstrel sung in bis father's hall,' &c. &c.
We should be very unjust, however, if we charged on Mr. Dibdin more than his individual share of demerit. It is the very style of the age in which he writes that he also has adopted. More or less, the prose and the verse of England at this day are redundant, flimsy, and superficial ; and the condensation, the classical elegance, the meaning of our ancestors, are, to our minds, wholly lost in the writings of our contemporaries. Neither is Byron correct, nor Southey spirited, nor Scott dignified, nor Moore sublime. Something is wanting to each and all, and, although something was wanting also to our elder poets, yet it was an inferior and a less important quality. They hit the mark at which they aimed, although they did not always fix the arrow in the centre; and they never wandered so widely from their object as the frivolous, vain, and vapid race with whom we have so largely to deal at present.
In some lighter histrionic effort, we have no doubt that Mr.C. Dibdin might advance happily, hand and hand with his fraternal dramatist, and find himself completely at home in “ Five Miles Off, or the Finger-Post.” Art. 16. The Gentleman : a Satire, written during the Years
1812, 1813, 1814, and 1815. With other Poems, and Notes. Second Edition. 8vo. pp. 159. 58. 6d. Boards. Baldwin and Co. 1819. We are glad to see this spirited and critical little work arrived
at a second edition. The author acknowleges, in very handsome terms, the justice of some of our strictures on his first impression, (see M. R. vol. Ixxxvii. p. 321.) but, in general phrase, contests the propriety of others. Of course we cannot reply where the objections are not specified: but we hail the re-appearance of this little book; which fearlessly and, we think, correctly censures the prevailing follies of our literature, among other follies of the times in which we live. Having said this, we have nothing farther to do with the volume before us than to notice a few additional minor poems, which are subjoined to this edition.
The titles of two little prettinesses, at pages 66. and 67. are, surely, ridiculous enough:
To a Young Lady, - who expressed surprise that some otto of roses which she had worn two years on her bosom, still retained its smell.
• To a Young Lady, -inclosing a very small white pocket handkerchief, which she had dropped going down a dance.
From the fiddle-faddle and the diddle-daddle of these two courteous titles, we should be inclined to suspect. The Gentleman' to be a very old gentleman indeed: but, in truth, we do not think that any of these minor poems are calculated to add to the reputation of our anonymous satirist; and we advise him to adhere closely to the severer style of composition. Art. 17. - Poems on various Subjects, by Mrs. Kentish. Resident
at St. Salvador, Brazils. Crown 8vo. 6s. Boards. Longman and Co. 1819.
The fair author of these poems declares, in the preface, that the major part of them were written by the side of her son, between seven and eight years of age, with the view of directing his atten. tion to the most familiar surrounding objects, so as early to accustom him to habits of thought and reflection. Yet by far the greater number of these poems are love-songs, and addresses to Corydon, Henry, and Albert ; harmonious, indeed, considered as verses, but little calculated to fulfil the above purposes of education. The lines at page 18. to the memory of an infant, and others on a similar subject at p. 114., are elegant and feeling; and.. the poem intitled Brazil,' with which the volume concludes, has the merit of ease and characteristic description.
NOVELS. Art. 18. Eudoxia, Daughter of Belisarius. Translated from the
Spanish of Don Pedro Montengon, by Charles Hervey Smith, I 2mo. 2 Vols.
Boards. J. J. Stockdale. This writer varies from Marmontel's popular story of Belisaire, as well as from the common traditions concerning that warrior, but concurs with them in ascribing virtuous and noble sentiments to his hero. The stiffness of a translation is, however, conspicuous in the book, and some improbabilities are gratuitously added to the tradition : such as the circumstance of Maximius residing for many days with his mistress and ber family without being recog
nized. In a few instances, also, the grammar is incorrect; as • to visit his father who he supposed to be;' every extravagant of grief,' &c. &c. Art. 19. Eveleen Mountjoy; or Views of Life. By Mrs. Robert
Moore. 12mo. 4 Vols. 1l. 48. Boards. Longman and Co. 1819
Many obvious improbabilities occur in these · Views of Life;'. and, to us, Eveleen's childish weakness and her lover's angry neglect appear equally unnatural: but the history of their youth is attractive, and the book seems to bave been written with: a laadable and moral aim. In vol. i. p. 2., the expression ' fair belle' is a pleonasm; and the following is ungrammatical, vol. ii. P-52., twelve years has seen.' Art. 20.
Ernestus Berchtold ; or The Modern Edipus. A Tale. · By John William Polidori, M.D. 12mo. 6s. Boards. Long. man and Co. 1819.
Notwithstanding the gloomy and sceptical style which Dr.Polidori seems to have contracted, we might augur from passages in this tale that he is capable of writing in a higher and purer strain. In his', preface, he anticipates without removing the objection to Ernestus, Berchtold, that the same moral and the same colouring might have been given to characters acting under the ordinary agencies of life,', as to those whom he has here represented as being influenced by demons. A good lesson would, indeed, have been furnished in: the exemplification of evils resulting from such a system of educa-, tion as that which is mentioned in the tenth page; where Ernestus says, • 1 rested upon those situations which one in the million attains, and in which the passions of others are to be guided,, while I was not shewn how to conduct myself when my own incli-. nations and feelings might attempt to lead me astray in the common occurrences of life.'
The story displays considerable powers of imagination, but conveys merely irrelevant hints at supernatural agency; so that,, in the explanation which follows it, we are surprised to find how busy the evil spirits have been in producing misfortunes which we had been satisfied with ascribing to the influence of evil passions.. Perhaps the infidel principles of Olivieri are too amply detailed ;. and some obvious improbabilities appear to have been overlooked, such as the easy escape of Ernestus from the dungeon of Chillon, and the description at p. 116. of the shrine of St. Carlo Borromeo in the Duomo of Milan: where the dried corpse of the Saint, arrayed in his pontificals,' is represented as being constantly exposed to the gaze of devotees, though it is in truth concealed within its crystal coffin, and exhibited only when particularly requested on solemn occasions.
A few verbal inaccuracies must also be noticed; such as, p. 141., • but immediately he saw me he retired ;' p. 197.,, the streete being lit by a single lamp,' &c. Art. 21. Errors and their consequences; or Memoirs of an English Family, 1.2mọ.: 2 Vols. 138. Boards. Longman and Co. 1819.