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Iti s a first principle of colonization to assemble the greatest possible variety of races and ranks of men; and, after having observed attentively their relative progress and success, to seek farther recruits in the class which is found from experience most to prosper.
For APRIL, 1820.
POETRY and the DRAMA. Art. 10. Rosalba, a Tale of Sicily. By R. C. Barton. 8vo.
5s. sewed. Lloyd and Son. 1819. This common-place little production is introduced by a preface, in which (according to a practice which we recollect at school) the Reviewers are lashed for future impudence.' In truth, this sort of anticipation of censure is very ill-advised, for it is generally just, and therefore furnishes a critic with the necessary clue for condemnation, witliout the trouble of minute inquiry.
Nothing can be more hacknied than the story of Rosalba. She is the only daughter of a rich landholder; and Enrico, her lover, is the only son of a poor man, who has been thus reduced by the
everyday occurrence of being bail for a friend who ran away from his vond of honour. The father of Rosalba in course disapproves of 80 unprofitable a connection: but Enrico, ' baving saved the daughter from a wild boar, obtains the object of his choice from the relenting parent.
Would the repeated offer of treacle to a full-grown guest be likely, or not, to disgust him? Having answered this question, our readers need not be asked what they think of the preceding portion of Rosalba.
Just as the characters are in the middle of singi:g the subjoined Bridal Hymn, a party of infidels rush in, bind them for slaves, and put an end to all the agrémens of the party.
· BRIDAL Hymn.
Kneels before the Throne of Heav'n,
Deign to hear my grateful pray'r;
Let thy guardian-angels keep us
All I seek from Heaven above,
To him alone thy cares extend;
Kindly bless our marriage-bed,
Let our offspring Here enter the infidels.
We are far from being deficient in sympathy with the sentiments of Enrico and Rosalba: but we think that they must have rehearsed their parts very frequently, to have had them so perfect on the nervous occasion above stated.
When Rosalba sees Enrico in chains, (and here the story certainly rises in novelty) she begins to cool her forehead with the blood of the wounded infidels; which, as we might expect, gives the lady and her white gown so tremendous an appearance, that, on her sudden attack, the infidels are struck with a panic, and, supposing her to be a maniac (a character which they superstitiously revere), they leave her to herself, and we hear no more of her! Enrico and all the males sail away in excellent spirits, and thus ends Rosalba, a Tale of Sicily.'
We should here conclude our notice of this publication : but we are really desirous to benefit the author, whatever he may think of the severe manner in which we have discharged our duty to the reader ; and we therefore do admonish him, most sincerely, that no talent for poetry is discoverable in • Rosalba,' but much unexceptionable English, and something that might be turned to a better account. Art. u. The Family Shakspeare, in Ten Volumes; in which
nothing is added to the original Text, but those words and Expressions are omitted which cannot with Propriety be read aloud in a Family. By Thomas Bowdler, Esq. F.R.S. and S.A. 18mo. 31. 38. "Boards. Longman and Co.
A family circle can scarcely obtain a more gratifying relaxation, on a winter's evening, than that which is afforded by reading aloud the plays of our immortal bard: but it would be more frequently indulged, if the licence of the times in which they were produced had not occasioned the introduction of too many expressions and allusions, which would raise a blush on the cheek of modesty, if understood; or which, if not comprehended, might create in
quiries that a gentleman would find rather difficult to solve. An edition, therefore, which, by expunging such objectionable passages, enables a reader boldly to proceed, without fear that the next sentence may bring him to an aukward hiatus, is certainly a desirable accession to a family-library.
The work before us seems to fulfil its promise in this respect; and it is of little importance whether it has not exceeded it, considering the uses for which it is intended, and that such an edition will never be inspected for any critical purpose. We cannot, however, avoid remarking that in our opinion the editor has sometimes shewn the truth of the old saw, that the nicest person has the nastiest ideas, and has omitted many phrases as containing indelicacies which we cannot see, and of the guilt of which our bard, we think, is entirely innocent. In other cases, Mr. Bowdler seems to be rather fastidious in his alterations of a mere vulgarism that was appropriate to the character, and adopting in its place a genteeler word that has destroyed the spirit of the passage. The critical or religious and moral ideas of the editor seem also to be subject to some vicissitudes ; for he expunges in one place as coarse, or as unholy, or as indelicate, words which in another he allows to stand, without any apparent reason for the alteration in his opinions.
In our Number for October, 1807, we noticed a work under the same title, in four volumes; which contained only twenty of the plays. Art. 12.
Hacho ; or, The Spell of St. Wilten'; and other Poems.
8vo. pp. 160. Hone. 1819. “ Another and another still succeeds." - We are here presented with one more of the innumerable offerings at the shrine of the Muse of the Epopea, - an irregular heroic poem, in the style and manner, though not with the genius and happy fancy, of Walter Scott. From the preface of the anonymous author, we in fact learn that the tale of Hacho is founded on a note accidentally perused in one of that Bard's popular productions, mentioning an invasion of Scotland by the Danes under Hacho, during the reign of Alexander; which name, for metrical convenience, has been altered to Fergus. For metrical convenience, also, we suppose, the author has moreover contrived to dispense with good poetry, and other essential requisites, in the execution of this species of epic ; of which the wild and irregular form, and the varied versification, were no sooner introduced and established than they were judiciously abandoned by the celebrated author above mentioned. The Danish hero, Hacho, is a giant of very small dimensions indeed, when compared with the Rodericks and Marmions of the north, or the Corsairs and Giaours of the east.
While we feel ourselves compelled to pronounce that the chief poem in this volume is deficient both in interest and execution, we must not omit to mention the superiority of several miscellaneous pieces which follow it, and from which we quote the following very poetical lines: (p. 146.) Rev. APRIL, 1820.
• Farewell, sweet moon, pass but a few short years,
And he who gazes on thy beauty now
Is but escape from bondage.'
house. 1819. Few things in history itself are more shocking than the fate of Parga. It combines profession and treachery; boasting and cowardice; Christian seeming with more than Turkish despotism and cruelty. Alas! the details of the shame of the English government are too well known, in this most painful transaction: it is a blot which never can be wiped out of our national annals ; although (thank Heaven!) it will not be considered, by the welljudging, as a part of our national character: it is the act of indi. vidual Englishmen, (if they must so be called,) and not of England.
This poem, however, will do little credit to so good a cause as that of the Parguinotes, for it wants strength, where it should have breathed fire against the foes of honour and liberty : but it is well meant; and, as far as it goes, we heartily recommend it to the perusal of all patriotic readers. The notes tell a plain tale, - a tale which our latest posterity will blush to read. Art. 14. The Saviour of the World. A Poem, in irregular Verse,
on the Death, Resurrection, Descent into Hell, Ascension, and Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. By Joseph Higgins, a Layman of the Church of England. 12o. 58. Boards. Whittemore. 1819.
We meet with some productions of which it is difficult to speak, without inadvertently committing the very fault that they exemplify: Of such a kind is the present extremely indecent poem; in which, under the notion of piety, the author is guilty of the most impious familiarities with the most sacred subjects. Will it be believed that the Saviour of the world' is here described as going with the penitent thief into Paradise, as bidding 'adieu' to the inhabitants of heaven, and as afterward holding a conversation with Satan in the infernal regions ? — We call on the author, by every remnant of good sense and good taste which his religious or worldly propensities may have left him, to give up this
“ profane “ profane babbling," and these audacities of devotion, “ falsely so called."
As a composition, our readers will immediately see the merit of this very objectionable little volume by the following brief quotation; all that we can bring ourselves to quote from such a performance :
May I presume
A sympathizing heart;' &c.
pp. 120. Longman and Co. 1820. “ O curas hominum! O quantum est in rebus inane !" “ Vanity of vanities,” saith the preacher, “ all is vanity ;” and, frequently as we are forced to reiterate this observation, it compensates in everlasting applicability for the want of those nove attractions which belong to more recondite passages. Nothing could be more unaccountable than the constant reproduction of poetry which brings neither fame nor profit to the writer, were it pot for this clue of “ vanity!"
“ Search then the ruling passion." This it is which inundates our booksellers' windows with unread, uncut, and unsold pamphlets in prose and verse; this it is which inks many harmless fingers, and wastes many valuable hours:
" Scribimus indocti doctique poemata passim.” Indoctus we do not say is an epithet applicable to the present author: our remarks are general : but we will enable our readers to judge of Mr. Brooke for themselves. His “ Durovernum," &c. we have already submitted to their opinion ; and let them now attend to his Thoughts and Feelings.' « Oh thou that mockest at misfortune! Thou That warrest with the dead! Oh
England ! for this all blisteringly light!
Such mercy as thou shewedst shewn to thee.' We cannot but observe that Mr. Brooke is an Englishman by birth; and that any man who is so denationalized, so dead to all patriotism, as to utter this rhapsody, is scarcely a fit object for the pen of the critic. We are referred to the daily papers of December, 1818, for the story of an unfortunate Spaniard, whose suicidal body was subjected to gross treatment in this country, in order to account for this burst of indignation : but he who can lash his country for the acts even of its government, must have cast off England, and cannot wonder if the compliment be returned. - Is the following much better?