Obrazy na stronie
PDF

a classical scholar at Christ's Church, Oxford, and was familiar with almost the whole range of Italian, French, and English literature. In 1805 he published the Inferno of Dante in blank verse, and an entire translation of the Divina Commedia, in the same measure, in 1814. He afterwards translated the Birds of Aristophanes, and the Odes of Pindar, and wrote short memoirs in continuation of Johnson's Lives of the Poets, which, with lives of the early French poets, appeared anonymously in the London Magazine. For some years Mr. Cary held the office of assistant-librarian in the British Museum, and enjoyed a pension of £200 per annum. A Memoir of this amiable scholar was written by his son, the Rev. H. Cary, and published in 1847. First brought into notice by the prompt and strenuous exertions of Coleridge, Mr. Cary's

[blocks in formation]

I began: ‘Bard I willingly

I would address those two together coming,
Which seem so light before the wind. He thus:
‘Note thou, when nearer they to us approach.
Then by that love which carries them along,
Entreat; and they will come. Soon as the wind
Swayed them toward us, I thus framed my speech:
‘0 wearied spirits! come and hold discourse
With us, if by none else restrained. As doves,
By fond desire invited, on wide wings
And firm, to their sweet nest returning home,
Cleave the air, wafted by their will along;
Thus issued, from that troop where Dido ranks,
They, through the ill air speeding, with such force
My cry prevailed, by strong affection urged.

‘0 gracious creature, and benign who goest
Visiting, through this element obscure,
Us, who the world with bloody stain imbrued;
If, for a friend, the King of all we owned,
Our prayer to him should for thy peace arise,
Since thou hast pity on our evil plight.
Of whatsoe'er to hear or to discourse
It pleases thee, that will we hear, of that
Freely with thee discourse, while e'er the wind,
As now, is mute. The land that gave me birth,
Is situate on the coast, where Po descends
To rest in ocean with his sequent streams.

‘Love, that in gentle heart is quickly learnt,
Entangled him by that fair form, from me
Ta'en in such cruel sort, as grieves me still:
Love, that denial takes from none beloved,
Caught me with pleasing him so passing well,
That, as thou see'st, he yet deserts me not.
Love brought us to one death: Cainal waits
The soul, who spilt our life. Such were their words;
At hearing which downward I bent my looks,
And held them there so long, that the bard cried:
‘What art thou pondering?” I, in answer, thus:
‘Alas! by what sweet thoughts, what fond desire,
Must they at length to that ill pass have reached !’

Then turning, I to them my speech addressed,
And thus began: “Francescal your sad fate,
Even to tears, my grief and pity moves.
But tell me; in the time of your sweet sighs,

* The place to which murderers are doomed.

By what and how Love granted, that ye knew
Your yet uncertain wishes. She replied:
“No greater grief than to remember days
Of joy, when misery is at hand | That kens
Thy learned instructor. Yet so eagerly
If thou art bent to know the primal root,
From whence our love gat being, I will do
As one who weeps and tells his tale. One day,
For our delight, we read of Lancelot,"
How him love thralled. Alone we were, and no
Suspicion near us. Ofttimes by that reading
Our eyes were drawn together, and the hue
Fled from our altered cheek. But at one point
Alone we fell. When of that smile we read,
The wished smile, so rapturously kissed
By one so deep in love, then he, who ne'er
From me shall separate, at once my lips
All trembling kissed. The book and writer both
Were love's purveyors. In its leaves that day
We read no more.’” While thus one spirit spake,
The other wailed so sorely that heart-struck
I, through compassion fainting, seemed not far
From death; and like a corse fell to the ground.

Ugolini and his Sons in the Tower of Famine.

[During the contests between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, in 1289, Count Ugolini with two of his sons and two grandsons, were confined by Archbishop Ruggieri in a tower; the tower was locked, and the leey thrown into the Arno, and all food was withheld from them. In a few days, they died of hungerDante describes the future punishment of Ugolini and the cardinal as being “pent in one hollow of the ice. The awful deaths in the tower are thus related by the ghost of the count.]

A small grate Within that mew, which for my sake the name Of famine bears, where others yet must pine, Already through its opening several moons Had shewn me, when I slept the evil sleep That from the future tore the curtain off. This one, methought, as master of the sport, Rode forth to chase the gaunt wolf and his whelps, Unto the mountain which forbids the sight Of Lucca to the Pisans. With lean brachs, Inquisitive and keen, before him ranged Lanfranchi with Sismondi and Gualandi. After short course the father and the sons Seemed tired and lagging, and methought I saw The sharp tusks gore their sides. When I awoke, Before the dawn, amid their sleep I heard My sons—for they were with me—weep and ask For bread. * : * Now had they wakened; and the hour drew near When they were wont to bring us food; the mind Of each misgave him through his dream, and I Heard, at its outlet underneath, locked up The horrible tower: whence, uttering not a word, I looked upon the visage of my sons. I wept not : so all stone I felt within. They wept: and one, my little Anselm, cried: ‘Thou lookest so father, what ails thee?’ Yet I shed no tear, nor answered all that day Nor the next night, until another sun Came out upon the world. When a faint beam Had to our doleful prison made its way, And in four countenances I descried The image of my own, on either hand Through agony I bit; and they who thought I did it through desire of feeding, rose

1 One of the knights of the Round Table, and the lover of Ginevra, or Guinever, celebrated in romance.

* A fine representation of this scene in marble formed part of the Manchester Exhibition of 1857. It was from the collection of the Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone, and was executed by

Mr A. Munro, sculptor, London.

[ocr errors]

O' the sudden, and cried: “Father, we should grieve
Far less if thou wouldst eat of us: thou gavest
These weeds of miserable flesh we wear;
And do thou strip them off from us again.”
Then, not to make them sadder, I kept down
My spirit in stillness. That day and the next
We all were silent. * Ah, obdurate earth!
Why open'dst not upon us? When we came
To the fourth day, then Gaddo at my feet
Outstretched did fling him, crying: ‘Hast no help
For me, my father?” There he died; and e'en
Plainly, as thou seest me, saw I the three
Fall one by one 'twixt the fifth day and sixth:
Whence I betook me, now grown blind, to grope
Over them all, and for three days aloud
Called on them who were dead. Then, fasting got
The mastery of grief.

A select descriptive passage of Dante, imitated by Gray (first line in the Elegy), and by Byron (Don Juan, canto iii. v. 108), is thus rendered by Cary: Now was the hour that wakens fond desire In men at sea, and melts their thoughtful heart Who in the morn have bid sweet friends farewell, And pilgrim newly on his road with love Thrills, if he hear the vesper-bell from far, That seems to mourn for the expiring day.

WILLIAM STE W.A.R.T ROSE.

WILLIAM STEwART Rose (1775–1843), the translator of Ariosto, and a man of fine talent and accomplishments, was the second son of Mr. George Rose, Treasurer of the Navy, &c. After his education at Eton and Cambridge, Mr Rose was introduced to public life, and he obtained the appointment of reading-clerk to the House of Lords. His tastes, however, were wholly literary. To gratify his father, he began A Naval History of the Late War, vol. i., 1802, which he never completed. His subsequent works were a translation of the romance of Amadis de Gaul, 1803; a translation in verse from the French of Le Grand of Partenopez de Blois, 1807; Letters to Henry Hallam, Esq., from the North of Italy, 2 vols., 1819; and a translation of the Animali Parlanti of Casti, 1819, to which he prefixed introductory addresses at each canto to his friends Ugo Foscolo, Frere, Walter Scott, &c. In 1823, he published a condensed translation of Boiardo's Orlando Innamorato, and also commenced his version of the Orlando Furioso, which was completed in 1831. The latter is the happiest of Mr Rose's translations; it has wonderful spirit, as well as remarkable fidelity, both in form and meaning, to the original. The translator dedicated his work in a graceful sonnet to Sir Walter Scott, “who, he says, “persuaded me to resume the work, which had been thrown aside, on the ground that such labour was its own reward:”

Scott, for whom Fame a gorgeous garland weaves,
Who what was scattered to the wasting wind,
As grain too coarse to gather or to bind,
Bad'st me collect and gird in goodly sheaves;
If this poor seed hath formed its stalks and leaves,
Transplanted from a softer clime, and pined
For lack of southern suns in soil unkind,
Where Ceres or Italian Flora grieves;
And if some fruit, however dwindled, fill
The doubtful ear, though scant the crop and bare-
Ah, how unlike the growth of Tuscan hill,
Where the glad harvest springs behind the share-
Peace be to thee! who taught me that to till
#" sweet, however paid the peasant's care.

[blocks in formation]

One of our earliest translators from the German was WILLIAM TAYLOR of Norwich (1765–1836). In 1796 appeared his version of Burger's Lenore. Before the publication of this piece, Mrs Barbauld —who had been the preceptress of Taylor—read it to a party in Edinburgh at which Walter Scott was present. The impression made upon Scott was such that he was induced to attempt a version himself, and though inferior in some respects to that of Taylor, Scott's translation gave promise of poetical power and imagination. Mr Taylor afterwards made various translations from the German, which he collected and published in 1830 under the title of A Survey of German Poetry. “Mr Taylor, says a critic in the Quarterly Review (1843), ‘must be acknowledged to have been the first who effectually introduced the modern poetry and drama of Germany to the English reader, and his versions of the Nathan of Lessing, the Iphigenia of Goethe, and Schiller's Bride of Messina, are not likely to be supplanted, though none of them are productions of the same order with Coleridge's Wallenstein. In 1843 an interesting Memoir of Taylor, containing his correspondence with Southey, was published in two volumes, edited by J. W. Robberds, Norwich.

THE EARL OF ELLESMERE.

In 1823 this nobleman (1800–1857) published a translation of Goethe's Faust and Schiller's Song of the Bell. This volume was followed in 1824 by

* Memoir prefixed to Bohn's edition of the Orlando Furioso, 1858.

another, Translations from the German, and Original Poems. In 1830 he translated Hernani, or the Honour of a Castilian, a tragedy from the French of Victor Hugo. To the close of his life, this accomplished nobleman continued to adapt popular foreign works—as Pindemonte's Donna Charitea, Michael Beer's Paria, the Henri Trois of Dumas, &c. He

translated and re-arranged Schimmer's Siege of

Vienna, and edited the History of Peter the Cruel, King of Castile and Leon (two vols., 1851). In 1839 he undertook a voyage to the Mediterranean in his yacht, and on his return home printed for private circulation The Pilgrimage, Mediterranean Sketches, &c., which were afterwards published with illustrations. A dramatic piece, Bluebeard, acted with success at private theatricals, also proceeded from his pen. He occasionally contributed an article to the Quarterly Review, and took a lively interest in all questions affecting literature and art. Of both he was a munificent patron. His lordship, by the death of his father, the first Duke of Sutherland, in 1833, succeeded to the great Bridgewater estates in Lancashire, and to his celebrated gallery of pictures, valued at £150,000. He was raised to the peerage as Earl of Ellesmere in 1846. The translations of this nobleman are characterised by elegance and dramatic spirit, but his Faust is neither very vigorous nor very faithful. His original poetry is graceful, resembling, though inferior, that of Rogers. We subjoin one specimen, in which Campbell seems to have been selected as the model.

The Military Execution.

His doom has been decreed, He has owned the fatal deed, And its sentence is here to abide. No mercy now can save; They have dug the yawning grave, And the hapless and the brave Kneels beside.

No bandage wraps his eye, He is kneeling there to die Unblinded, undaunted, alone. His latest prayer has ceased, And the comrade and the priest, From their last sad task released, Both are gone.

His kindred are not near The fatal knell to hear, They can but weep when the deed 'tis done; They would shriek, and wail, and pray: It is well for him to-day That his friends are far awayAll but one.

Yes, in his mute despair, The faithful hound is there, He has reached his master's side with a spring. To the hand which reared and fed, Till its ebbing pulse hath fled, Till that hand is cold and dead, He will cling.

What art, or lure, or wile, That one can now beguile From the side of his master and friend? He has gnawed his cord in twain; To the arm which strives in vain To repel him, he will strain To the end.

The tear-drop who can blame? Though it dim the veteran's aim, And each breast along the line heave the sigh. For 'twere cruel now to save; And together in that grave, The faithful and the brave, Let them lie.

In 1820–22 THOMAs MITCHELL (1783–1845), published translations in verse of Aristophanes, in which the sense and spirit of the ‘Old Comedian” were admirably rendered. Mr Mitchell also edited some of the plays of Sophocles, and superintended the publication of some of the Greek works which issued from the Oxford Clarendon press.

VIscount STRANGFoRD (1780–1855), long the British ambassador at Lisbon and other foreign courts, in 1803 published a version of Poems from the Portuguese of Camaens, with Remarks on his Life and Writings. The translation was generally condemned for its loose and amatory character, but some of the lyrical pieces have much beauty. A sarcastic notice of Strangford will be found in Byron's English Bards and Scotch Reviewers, and Moore dedicated to him one of his finest epistles. To the last, the old nobleman delighted in literary and antiquarian pursuits, and was much esteemed.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

RoBERT TANNAHILL, a lyrical poet of a superior order, whose songs rival all but the best of Burns's in popularity, was born in Paisley on the 3d of June 1774. His education was limited, but he was a diligent reader and student. He was early sent to the loom, weaving being the staple trade of Paisley, and continued to follow his occupation in his native town until his twenty-sixth year, when, with one of his younger brothers, he removed to Lancashire. There he continued two years, when the declining state of his father's health induced him to return. He arrived in time to receive the dying blessing of his parent, and a short time afterwards we find him writing to a friend: ‘My brother Hugh and I are all that now remain at home, with our old mother, bending under age and frailty; and but seven years back, nine of us used to sit at dinner together.’ Hugh married, and the poet was left alone with his widowed mother. In a poem, The Filial Wow, he says: 'Twas hers to guide me through life's early day, To point out virtue's paths, and lead the way: Now, while her powers in frigid languor sleep, 'Tis mine to hand her down life's rugged steep; With all her little weaknesses to bear, Attentive, kind, to soothe her every care. 'Tis nature bids, and truest pleasure flows From lessening an aged parent's woes.

The filial piety of Tannahill is strikingly apparent from this effusion, but the inferiority of the #" to

any of his Scottish songs shews how little at home he was in English. His mother outlived him thirteen years. Though Tannahill had occasionally

Robert Tannahill.

composed verses from a very early age, it was not till after this time that he attained to anything beyond mediocrity. Becoming acquainted with Mr R. A. Smith, a musical composer, the poet applied himself sedulously to lyrical composition, aided by the encouragement and the musical taste of his friend. Smith set some of his songs to original and appropriate airs, and in 1807 the poet ventured on the publication of a volume of poems and songs, of which the first impression, consisting of 900 copies, were sold in a few weeks. It is related that in a solitary walk on one occasion, his musings were interrupted by the voice of a country-girl in an adjoining field singing by herself a song of his own—

We’ll meet beside the dusky glen, on yon burnside;

and he used to say he was more pleased at this evidence of his popularity, than at any tribute which had ever been paid him. He afterwards contributed some songs to Mr George Thomson's Select Melodies, and exerted himself to procure Irish airs, of which he was very fond. Whilst delighting all classes of his countrymen with his native songs, the poet fell into a state of morbid despondency, aggravated by bodily weakness, and a tendency to consumption. He had prepared a new edition of his poems for the press, and sent the manuscript to Mr Constable the publisher; but it was returned by that gentleman, in consequence of his having more new works on hand than he could undertake that season. This disappointment preyed on the spirits of the sensitive poet, and his melancholy became deep and habitual. He burned all his manuscripts, and sank into a state of mental derangement. Returning from a visit to Glasgow on the 17th of May 1810, the unhappy poet retired to rest; but “suspicion having been excited, in about an hour afterwards it was discovered that he had stolen out unperceived. Search was made in every direction, and by the dawn of the morning,

the 't of the poet was discovered lying at the

side of the tunnel of a neighbouring brook, pointing out but too surely where his body was to be found.” Tannahill was a modest and temperate man, devoted to his kindred and friends, and of unblemished purity and correctness of conduct. His lamentable death arose from no want or irregularity, but was solely caused by that morbid disease of the mind which had overthrown his reason. The poems of this ill-starred son of genius are greatly inferior to his songs. They have all a common-place artificial character. His lyrics, on the other hand, are rich and original both in description and sentiment. His diction is copious and luxuriant, particularly in describing natural objects and the peculiar features of the Scottish landscape. His simplicity is natural and unaffected; and though he appears to have possessed a deeper sympathy with nature than with the workings of human feeling, or even the passion of love, he is often tender and pathetic. His Gloomy Winter's now Awa’ is a beautiful concentration of tenderness and melody.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

1838.

* Memoir prefixed to Tannahill's Works. Glasgow.

[graphic]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

JOHN MAYN E.

JoHN MAYNE, author of the Siller Gun, Glasgow, and other poems, was a native of Dumfries—born in the year 1761—and died in London in 1836. He was brought up to the printing business, and whilst apprentice in the Dumfries Journal office in 1777, in his sixteenth year, he published the germ of his Siller Gun in a quarto page of twelve stanzas. The subject of the poem is an ancient custom in Dumfries, called ‘Shooting for the Siller Gun, the gun being a small silver tube presented by James VI. to the incorporated trades as a prize to the best marksman. This poem Mr Mayne continued to enlarge and improve up to the time of his death. The twelve stanzas expanded in two years to two cantos; in another year (1780) the poem was published—enlarged to three cantos—in Ruddiman's Magazine; and in 1808 it was published in London in four cantos. This edition was seen by Sir Walter Scott, who said (in one of his notes to the Lady of the Lake) ‘that it surpassed the efforts of Fergusson, and came near to those of Burns. In 1836, the Siller Gun was again reprinted with the addition of a fifth canto. Mr Mayne was author of a short poem on Halloween, printed in Ruddiman's Magazine in 1780; and in 1781, he published at Glasgow his fine ballad of Logan Braes, which Burns had seen, and two lines of which he copied into his Logan Water. The Siller Gun is humorous and descriptive, and is happy in both. The author is a shrewd and lively observer, full of glee, and also of gentle and affectionate recollections of his native town and all its people and pastimes. The ballad of Logan Braes is a simple and beautiful lyric, superior to the more elaborate version of Burns. Though long resident in London (as proprietor of the Star newspaper), Mr Mayne retained his Scottish enthusiasm to the last; and to those who, like ourselves, recollect him in advanced life, stopping in the midst of his duties, as a public journalist, to trace some remembrance of his native Dumfries and the banks of the Nith, or to hum over some rural or pastoral song which he had heard forty or fifty years before, his name, as well as his poetry, recalls the strength and tenacity of early feelings and local associations.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
« PoprzedniaDalej »