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typographical faults occur, of which one of the most remarkable is to be seen in Vol. II. p. 78.; where, by a singular mis-print, we are told of the sculptures of Hidias, instead of Phidias.
ART, IX. A Sicilian Stary, with Diego de Montilla, and other
Poems. By Barry Cornwall. 12mo. pp. 176. 78. Boards,
Ollier. 1820. “He that busily hunteth after affected words,” says an old
the great-swelling phrases, is many times (in winding of them in, to shew a little verbal pride) at a dead loss of the matter itself." This is not the case with Mr. Barry Cornwall *; for the unworthy artifices of his style cannot hide the movements of a poetical soul, though they may encumber its natural and beautiful freedom by compelling it to wear the garb of conceit and affectation. It would, however, be vain to repeat the observations which we were lately compelled to make on this most essential failing in the character of his muse; a failing which pervades the present volume as completely as it disfigured his former production. Yet we cannot omit to remark that, in some of the pieces now before us, the affectation which defaces the style of the poet extends also to his sentiments and feelings, and completes the disappointment which we feel in viewing talents perverted and true taste despised.
Mr. Cornwall (if we must still so call him) is a great imitator; and, in his “ Dramatic Scenes," he turned his sentences, as nearly as he could, in the fashion of our older dramatists. Unfortunately, too, he is an imitator in the narrower sense of the word, a follower of the peculiarities of his predecessors. This is not the way to take advantage of the exertions, and the wisdom, and the beauty of past ages.
The efforts of all poets, however high be their fame, are in fact only sketches or copies from the vast field of external nature, or inadequate expressions of the ineffable
* In our notice of the “ Dramatic Scenes" of this writer, (Review for November last,) we hinted that Barry Cornwall was a feigned name, and might possibly mean Mr. C. Lamb. We have pow Mr. C.'s own authority for saying that he is not Mr. Lamb, but that he still chuses to enjoy the dignity of the mystery under which the acknowleged fictitious appellation of Cornwall yet conceals him. We have heard his real name positively stated, but do not feel ourselves at liberty to print it.
passions and movements of the soul. In the watchful study, therefore, of these great poets, it is not sufficient to make their productions our mould and model : -- we must drink of the fountain of which they drank; we must gaze in that mirror in which they beheld the mysteries of nature; we must ponder on the same high themes which formed the subject of their contemplation; and then, building our efforts on this sure foundation, we shall become the companions, however humble, and not the servile followers of those master-spirits whose glory we emulate. Mr. Cornwall has contented himself with gaining possession of some of the antique vestments of the old sons of song: but their noble simplicity of mind, and their unceasing and laborious exertions to render their works conformable to the great standard of natural truth, seem not to have been the objects of his research. Perhaps he was sensible of the possession of strong poetic powers, and imagined that the capability of expression was alone defic'ent. If he studied the pages of Shakspeare and Milton with this view only, he has succeeded as far as such an attempt merits success : but the triumph is poor and inglorious. No one can open the volumes of his poems without being immediately sensible of the truth of this fact. The young writer has evidently been struck with admiration of the perpetual allusions, with which Milton abounds, to the places and persons of antiquity, and the mythic fables of Greece and Rome; and, accordingly, his volume is thickly interspersed with the names and genealogical history of the heathen divinities.
We wonder what would be Mr. Cornwall's style, if, rejecting the servile task of a copyist, he should unbind the wings of his muse, and suffer her to stretch her flight as freedom and nature dictated. The experiment would be curious, and we wish that he would venture on it. As the case is, every line seems to have been written under the idea that the author must phrase it as if he had enjoyed the happiness of having been born during the reign of that wise monarch, James I. Du Piles recommended to a portrait-painter that he should infuse such an expression into the countenances of those whom he delineated, that each character should seem to address the spectator in appropriate words; as, “ Am I not a wise king ?” “ Am I not a most able politician?” &c. In the same manner, all Mr. Cornwall's lines seem to say, “ Is not this poetical language ; and has any thing like it been written for these two centuries past ?” The truth is that Mr. C. often gives us much poetic language, but then it does not be long to him, and therefore it sits ill upon him; while he more often conveys to us much poetic feeling, which we partake with pleasure, because we know that it has not been borrowed.
The “Sicilian Story,' taken from Boccaccio, is short and simple. The lover of the Sicilian lady is murdered by her brother, and his mangled body is cast down a precipice: Isabel finds it; and, washing the bleeding heart in the waters, she carries it with her, and buries it under a basil-tree, from which it is stolen by her traitor-brother.
She then grows distracted, and escapes to the forests, whence she wanders home only to die. The tale is beautifully told, and the reflections mingled in it are deep and pathetic. The following is a passage of great descriptive power, and of splendid imagery:
• One night a masque was held within the walls
Of a Sicilian palace : the gayest flowers
Wasting their rhymes upon the soft night air.'
The dark-eyed Guido whom she lov'd so well. The youth came not; and her fierce brother, offended at her sorrow, bitterly repeated the name of “ Guido” in her ear. At the hour of sleep, her lover's form appeared to her,
• And spoke -“ Awake and search yon dell, for I
Have left my mangled and unburied limbs
Are shut and now have lost their light for ever.” As the phantom commanded, she reached the spot, perceived the mangled body of her lover, and derived her last consolation from finding the tree which covered his heart:- but her brother also discovered it;
where, like a spell, it lay, And cursed and cast it to the waves away:' The crazed heart-broken' Isabel flew to the solitude of a dreary wilderness; and we hear a song from her, which is a kind of imitation of that most affecting and sublime poem, O'Connor's Child :
• At last she wandered home. She came by night.
The pale moon shot a sad and troubled light
Beyond the look of mere mortality.' • The Worship of Dian' is the work of a decided mannerist ; and, in The Falcon,' Mr. Cornwall surpasses himself. We quite agree with the lady when she tells Frederigo that he is mad indeed, mad.' The following specimen is from a rhapsody of four times the length : · Giana! my
Giana! we will have
Thy sun of life, faithful through every season,
Love's own idolater, and worship thee.' It seems that Mr. Barry Cornwall could not bear that Lord Byron should carry away all the praise which an ingenious adaptation of the ottava rima to English verse confers, and he has therefore chosen to give us a specimen of his own powers in that line. This determination was not prudent; and indeed he appears to hold that opinion himself, and expresses some doubt as to the propriety of laying the verses before the public. It would certainly have been better had he kept them in his desk for the classical and safe term of nine years; for the management of this verse requires more lightness, more brilliancy, more wit, and a more intimate acquaintance with mankind and manners, than Mr. C. pos
We perceive very little wit or entertainment in such verses as these, from his tale of . Gyges.'
Now king Candaules was an amorous sot,
A mere, loose, vulgar simpleton d'ye see;
Not quite deserving, surely: and that she
Seems odd. We talk of “ woman's constancy
And she's but the exception, not the rule.'
That the author of this volume possesses a strong and beautiful fancy, the following little song is a proof:
Thou shalt sing to me