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with Europe, of the use of which you try to convince us." I confess I was not able to give a satisfactory answer to this unexpected objection; and was forced to say, that my ignorance of the Japanese language hindered me from proving the truth of our assertions. But had I been a Japanese orator, I should probably have found some difficulty in refuting this argument.'
In an appendix, the Editor has published a statement of the voyages of Chwostoff and Dawidoff
, to which a frequent reference was made in the two volumes on Captain Golownin's captivity,
ART. VI. Greenland, and other Poems. By James Montgomery,
8vo. pp. 250. 10s. 6d. Boards. Longman and Co. 1819. HE first and longest poem in this collection is confessedly
incomplete; and we regret to be compelled to add that, in our judgment, it is tediously descriptive and uninterestingly episodical. The missionaries, who first Moravianized the dark regions of Greenland, are introduced to our acquaintance very poetically in the first canto, and then withdrawn from our sight (with a very short intervening glimpse) until the third canto; the whole intermediate space being occupied by volcanic mountains, geysers, or boiling fountains, ice-bergs, and ice-blinks, and all the horrible paraphernalia of a polar expedition. These objects are very scientifically, and indeed with much animation, described by Mr. Montgomery: but his poem is a crowded panorama of the curiosities of the northern seas. The historical part, besides, is so very inartificially managed, and is such a mere versification of Crantz and other authorities, that we cannot consider it as adding much life or variety to the long succession of protracted descriptions: the poem, in its present state at least, has no apparent unity of design, nothing to connect its parts; and the heroes themselves rest on bare piety, without colour or discrimination in the character of the pious individuals to recommend them to the reader's interest.
We grieve to give so very unfavourable an account of the work of a writer for whom we have much respect.
Both the sentiments and the style of Mr. Montgomery raise him very much above the herd of vulgar poets : but the present work, besides the faults which we have already enumerated with so much severity of justice, manifests a laxity and a prolixity of versification which tire and offend the ear of taste. Still, with all these drawbacks, the poem has several noble passages, and the opening is particularly finished and effective. Let our readers judge:
• CANTO Canto I. • The three first Moravian Missionaries are represented as on their
Voyage to Greenland, in the year 1733. — Sketch of the descent,
Are swiftly wheeling on their golden cars;
· Hark! through the calm and silence of the scene,
Kiss the victorious Sceptre of His grace.' Even in this passage, especially towards its end, we think that examples may be found of the loose sort of rambling prose in rhyme which abounds in the professed poetry of our contemporaries.
* The contents of the first canto, as here given, will justify our censure of the plan,
In the retrospect of triumphant Protestants, martyrs to their undaunted faith, we have much spirited writing : but it is disfigured, like the preceding extract, with the novel freedom of long paragraphs of rhyme, consisting of an unconscionable series of over-lapping lines, and seemingly frightened at a period. When it is said of Ziska that he
Deposed his arms and trophies in the dust,
Wept like a babe, and placed in God his trust,' we are told a very unnecessary fact in the last member of the sentence; considering that the whole story of this religious hero proceeds on the supposition of his confidence in Heaven. As a specimen of the prosaic sort of detail with which the volume too largely abounds, yet interspersed with more poetical lines, we select the following:
· Thus Greenland (so that arctic world they named)
Was planted, and to utmost Calpe famed
i 'Twere long and dreary to recount in rhyme
- Who follows Homer takes the field too late;
Falls, and adorns the Grecian's chariot-wheels.' The doctrine so plainly, and we must contend so ingloriously, avowed in the concluding tetrastic, is perhaps a popular opinion among the Gothic bards of the day: but it is the
death-blow to all pure and classical composition.
It seems as if authors of this class could not distinguish between a servile imitation, and a free advantage taken of the rules and examples of antiquity. They appear to have forgotten that all the best poets, of every country, have drunken largely from the Homeric fountain of inspiration; and that, in proportion as subsequent rhymesters, or blank-etteers, have deviated from his general model, they have advanced into barbarous violations of every law of good taste. — We cannot bring ourselves to pass any farther censure on a writer whose works have contributed to elevate and ennoble the sentiments of our poetry, by the most ardent devotion and by the most generous feelings of humanity.
A very pretty episode occurs in the fourth canto, of a German wandering in Greenland: but we prefer to select the simple and pathetic little story with which the poem concludes. The various devastations of Greenland, earthquake, pestilence, human discord, &c. &c. are enumerated, and then follows the sad but gentle tale in question :
« Thus while Destruction, blasting youth and age,
Raged till it wanted victims for its rage;
• Meanwhile his partner waits, her heart at rest,
With him she slumbers, or with him she plays,
Red evening comes; no husband's shadow falls,
'Tis done : from Greenland's coast, the latest sigh
Bore infant innocence beyond the sky.' The notes subjoined to the poem of Greenland' contain much interesting matter relative to that extraordinary section of the globe.
The minor or miscellaneous poems, which follow, possess (as usual) various degrees of merit. We have some imitations from the Italian; and one that is strikingly expressive of the condensed imagination which is so observable in the shorter poems of the best writers of that nation.
SonNet. The CRUCIFIXION.