Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

A Correspondent, in answer to T's Query respecting the Lines on a New-Born Infant, inserted at page 562 of our last Number, states, that they were translated from the Arabic by the Rev. Dr Carlyle. It is probable that Sir W. Jones may likewise have given a Translation of them.

We have received Mr Huddlestor's communication, dated December 7, and shall give it a place in an early Number.

Serjeant Campbell's account of his Interview with the Emperor Alexander does not appear, in its present state, well adapted for our pages.

If C, B, will do us the favour to select the most striking passages from his Friend's Journal, we shall be happy to insert them. The specimen he has sent us, though not without interest, has too much unnecessary detail.

We take an Old Correspondent's” remonstrances in very good part, and will do our best to please him; but " tempora mutantur," as he must well know,

Our Rothsay friend must have patience, His verses are by no means “ Idiotic," but we should be as well pleased if he would take to sober prose.

The Correspondents of the EDINBURGH MAGAZINE AND LITERARY MISCELLANY are respectfully requested to transmit their Communications for the Editors to ARCHIBALD CONSTABLE and COMPANY, Edinburgh, or LongMAN and COMPANY, London, to whom also orders for the Work should be particularly addressed.

Printed by George Ramsay & Co.

THE

EDINBURGH MAGAZINE,

AND

LITERARY MISCELLANY.

JANUARY 1819.

ORIGINAL COMMUNICATIONS.

ON VANTE'S INFERNO, dive into the dark abysses of this

powerful spirit, We owe some apology to our read

Hail, horrors, hail ers for having delayed so long the continuation of our remarks on this infernal world, and thou, profoundest hell. great and original poet. It is, per

The poet represents himself as wan. haps, easier to offer a general criti- dering through a dark and perplexed cism, than to illustrate it by parti- wood, and as in danger of being decular examples ; at least, we have voured by wild beasts, when a veneralways felt an apprehension of be able personage appears to him. This coming tedious whenever we medi- turns out to be the poet Virgil, who tated å renewal of this subject, by says, that he has been commissioned a detailed exposition of the plan and by a divine lady, Beatrice, with conduct of the Divina Comedia. We whom Dante had been in love, while shall not, therefore, be very ininute, she was on earth, to conduct him particularly in our account of the In- through all the scenes of punishment ferno, the division of Dante's poem and of purification, till he brought which is both best known and most him into her presence, when she would admired. For our own parts, we are herself convey him through the rea not sure but that we like our poet best gions of glory. This visible reprewhen

sentation of all that was to be dread. Met in the milder shades of Purgatory. ed and aspired after, was intended for

the poet's eternal benefit, and he is so We cannot, indeed, but bear the benevolent as to make the world acInferno a little grudge, for the preju- quainted with the precious revelation. dice which it has been the main cause On being informed that it is Virgil of supporting, -that the genius of who addresses him, Dante expresses Dante is very little at home in the his profound veneration for his great tenderer emotions, and that his ima

master in poetry. gination is replete only with the most horrible conceptions. This prejudice “ And art thou then that Virgil, that wellhas been well combated in a late very spring able article in the Edinburgh Review, From which such copious floods of elo-where many instances to the contra quence

Have issued ?" I with front abash'd rery are brought from the Inferno ita self,--and when we come to the Pur.

plied :

“ Glory and light of all the tuneful train ! gatorio, we think we shall be able to

May it avail me, that I long with zeal produce passages, of as deep and der Have sought thy volume, and with Joya licate a feeling, or of as resplendent immense and glorious a colouring, as are to be Have conn'd it o'er. My master thon and met with in the writings of any guide! poet. In the mean time, we must Thou he from whoin alone I have deriv'd

That style, which for its beauty, into fame Like as the rois in June with her sueite Exalts me.”

smell,

The marigulde or dasy doith excell. We have sometimes wondered that Quhy suld I than, with dull forhede and Virgil, the character of whose genius vane, was so unlike his own, should have With rude ingyne, and barane emptive been Dante's chief favourite. The brane, truth is, Virgil seems to have been with bad harsk speich, and lewit barbare the poet who was held in highest toung and most general estimation at the Presume to write quhare thy sueit bell is revival of letters, and was, per

roung ? haps, more an object of admiration

But to proceed with our narrative. then even than he is now. Ho- Dante, following his guide through mer was not so well known. The the wood, comes to a gate, the in. Æneid was the great source of those scription on which has always been legends of the heroic ages which had greatly admired, as remarkable for the already found their way into the wild awe and solemnity which it breathes. romances of chivalry ; and the very The mingled severity and harmony of perfection of Virgil's composition must the original are scarcely, however, to have appeared something miraculous be traced in Mr Cary's version of this and almost above human attainment, passage ; and we may here remark in to writers who were emerging from general, that it is seldom possible, barbarism, and struggling with the without the use of rhyme, to render rudeness of unformed languages. with effect those places which the poet Great power and energy are now the has particularly laboured. There is qualities which we are apt to admire a felicity in the rhyming closes, which most in poetry,--because we ourselves gives a very poetical character to have gone as far in polish and refine- many passages in Dante, that, when ment as we are capable of going,--and translated into blank verse, approach, these qualities appear to us less im- from the plainness and directness of posing, than more vigorous though the language, more nearly to prose, and ruder exhibitions. In many respects, any one acquainted with the original it is certainly impossible to place Vir- must often be sensible of this defect gil too high ; but he excites in our in Mr Cary's translation. The folminds little of that enthusiasm which lowing is a very imperfect attempt to seems to have been very sincerely felt give a more accurate conception of for him, by men whom we are now in- this dread inscription : clined to rank as hissuperiors it may be, Through me into the city sad of woe, in genius, but who appear with a most Through me into the seat of endless pain, amiable humility, to have been power. Through me among the damned folk you fully impressed with the eminence of those qualifications in him which they 'Twas justice mov*d my builder to ordain, found themselves incapable of reach- 'Twas power divine, and wisdom never ing. The beauty of his style is what

vain, Dante chiefly lauds in the passage a

'Twas love itself, the mighty work did rear: bove quoted, as occasioning the love Nothing but things eternal to remain, immense" with which he “conned (And I too ain eternal,) did appear him o'er.". The same feeling of hum- Before me: quit all hope, 0 ye, who enter

here! ble yet ardent devotion appears in the preface with which our Scotch poet; This, our readers will perceive, was Gawin Douglas, (a person of nó the gate of hell; and it required common genius, with whom we all Virgil's words of good cheer to proposé soon to make our readers bet- tempt our poet forward. Mr Cary ter acquainted,) opens his noble trans- will tell us very well what were the lation of the Æneid:

first sounds that met them on their Laude, honoure, prasing thankis infinite

entrance. To thee, and thi dulce ornate fresch endite, Here sighs with lamentations and loud Maist reverend Virgil, of Latine poetis prince,

Resounded through the air pierced by no Gem of ingyne, and Aude of cloquence ;

star,

That e'en 1 wept at entering. Various In every volume quhilk thee list to write,

tongues, Surmounting fer all uther maner endite: Horrible languages, outcries of woe,

go!

moans

[ocr errors]

Accents of anger, voices deep and hoarse, of Milton, even in his early years, With hands together smote, that swelled when, like Samson, he seemed to feel the sounds,

his growing strength! Dante, likeMade up a tumult that for ever whirls

wise, we here find, in a very few and Round through that air with solid darkness modest words, laying claim to that a

stained, Like to the sand that in the whirlwind ward, which posterity has since amply flies.

confirmed to him. In these first suburbs of the infer. When they together short discourse had nal regions, (for they were nothing

held, more, passed in a constant rapid mo- They turned to me, with salutation kind tion the spirits of those people who Beck’ning me; at the which my master had gone through life in insignifi- Nor was this all ; but greater honour still cance, or had had no character at They gave me, for they made me of their all"

tribe ;' Those who lived And I was sixth amid so learned a band. Without or praise or blame, with that ill band

We now come into Hell proper; and, Of angels mixed, who nór rebellious before we advance farther, it may be proved,

advisable, once for all, to mention, Nor yet were true to God, but for them- that Dante's scheme of this region of selves

punishment is of a very regular and Were only.

mathematical construction. He supFame of them the world hath poses it to be literally an immense pit

none, Nor suffers ; mercy and justice scorn them the interior, every lower one of which

divided into a series of terraces along both. Speak not of them, but look and pass them is of less dimensions than the upby.

per. The poet descends from cirOur poets now came to the shore of cle to circle, is most accurate in his a stream, over which they were fer- account of each separately, and even, ried in Charon's boat, and then into in some places, has dropt hints of the

measurement of one or two of them, a spacious plain, where there were

so as to enable his commentators, numbers of people, suffering no torment, yet excluded from all hopes of according to the admirable employheaven. These consisted chiefly of

ment which commentators generally the virtuous among the Heathen ;

find for themselves, to measure the this was the place allotted to Virgil whole ; and thus the number of square himself; and Dante has here the hap- fernal regions may be as accurate

miles in every compartment of the inpiness of seeing some of the other îl. lustrious fathers of poetry. When ly known as of any given district in Virgil appeared, a voice was heard Europe. This design has certainly from the band of his compeers saying, cramped and cribbed to an amazing

not a very poetical aspeet, and seems Honour the bard

degree, when contrasted with the Sublime !his shade returns that left us grand scope which the genius of Mil

late. No sooner ceased the sound, than I beheld ton has allowed itself in the same deFour mighty spirits toward us bend their seription. There can be no doubt, steps,

moreover, that a poet of a less dauntOf semblance neither sorrowful nor glad.

less spirit than Dante would at once

have sunk under such a mass of heavy These, Dante is informed, were Ho- and cumbrous mason-work; but we mer, Horace, Ovid, and Lucan. It is are not at all prepared to say, that he always interesting (there is never any has not turned into a beauty what in thing offensive in it) to find a great any other writer would have been an poet sensible of his own enduring insuperable deformity. The regularity qualifications. The prophecies of im- and symmetry of his Hell is, permortality which we meet with in the haps, necessary for a elear conception

higher poets of antiquity never strike of the arrangement and gradation of • us as insolent assumptions; indeed, his punishments; it tends, too, to

in their case, the prophecy has been produce the species of interest which lorig fulfilled. How fine, too, are the he is most anxious to awaken, and swelling hopes and internal gloryings which he does awaken to a degree that

is quite unequalled, -that of a fixed “ But to the pleasant world when thou reconcentration of mind, which never

turn'st, wanders beyond the walls in which Of me make mention, I entreat thee, there. he confines it, but is fastened, as by a

No more I tell thee, answer thee no more.” spell, to the worils and looks of the This said, his fixed eyes he turned as

kance, different phantasmagoria who are in A little eyed me, then bent down his hcad, turn presented to it.

And ’midst his blind companions with it In the circle to which he first

fell. comes, he finds the carnal sinners, When thus my guide: No more his bed and it is here that he introduces

he leaves, the beautiful episode of Francesca Ere the last angel-trumpet blow. and her lover Paulo. The torment which they and their associates suf

The next circle is that of the nisers fered was that of being borne along and the prodigals, whose punishment incessantly on a gust of wind. Fran- it is to roll immense stones against each cesca stops for a moment, and relates other, which, when they clash, they her story. We will not quote it, as

roll back again in the opposite direcit is so familiar to every one.

Its ef. tion, and so for ever repeat the same fect upon our poet, wlio, in general, round. By a stroke of satire, he gives indeed, shows a most profound sensi- most of his misers a tonsure, so as to bility to the woes which he encoun

denote that they were churchmen. ters, was so great, that he fell to the

Both popes and cardinals, o'er whom ground in a swoon, and, in the mean Av'rice dominion absolute maintains. time, was conveyed into a still lower circle, where there were

When they had passed through this

circle, they came to the siile of a flood.

Showers
Ceaseless, accursed, heavy and cold, un-

Intent I stood
changed

To gaze, and in the marish sunk descried For ever, both in kind and in degree. A miry tribe, all naked, and with looks Large hail, discoloured water, sleety flaw, Betokening rage. They with their hands Through the dun midnight air streamed alone down amain ;

Struck not, but with the head, the breast, Stunk all the land whereon that tempest

the feet, fell.

Cutting each other piecemeal with their

fangs. This was the punishment to which the gluttonous and intemperate were These were the victims of intempesubjected; they lay under this filthy rate anger. Over this stream they are sleet, hud, moreover, the satisfac- conveyed in a boat, which shoots out tion of hearing the dog Cerberus bark- from the opposite shore on a signal ing and howling over them, and being made by a light from a turret, sometimes, for a little variety, were at the base of which they were. А torn and flayed by his greedy fangs. corresponding light instantly appears Dante has a conversation with one of at a distance, and immediately the those gluttons, which, like most of boat arrives. The rapidity and life in the dialogues in the poein, relates to all these little movements constantly the affairs of Florence; and it is in occurring in the course of this poem, this vehicle chiefly that the poet con- have a vast effect in keeping up its veys the bitter invective and satire, interest. The two poets are conwhich partly, indeed, relieve the u- veyed by the demon, who guides niformity of his descriptions, but more the boat, to the outskirts of a city; frequently, it must be owned, from but the fiends who guarded its towers the constant allusion to minute events objected to the admittance of Dante, in which we can take no interest, in- as he was not a spirit, but a living terrupt, in a tedious manner, the man; and all Virgil's remonstrances course of the narrative. There is with them have no effect. something very striking in the de- fine machine is now introduced ; scription of this ghost's demeanour, Virgil looks across the lake with great on the conclusion of his speech. Like apparent anxiety and expectution -most of the unfortunate beings in this the fiends upon the battlements grow place of torment, the desire of being bolder in their resistance, --Dante is named on earth had not lett him. in violent alarm, when 1

A very

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »