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"No longer now she spurned at mean re
Or staid her hand for conquered foeman's
As when, the fates of aged Rome to change, By Cæsar's side she crossed the Rubicon: Nor joyed she to bestow the spoils she won, As when the banded powers of Greece were tasked
To war beneath the youth of Macedon : No seemly veil her modern minion asked; He saw her hideous face, and loved the fiend unmasked." xli.
After this we have the detail of the Spanish war :-the coronation of Joseph, the general insurrection, the Guerillas, Saragossa and Gerona, the exploits of Lord Wellington and of Generals Beresford and Graham. This was certainly the most difficult and dangerous part of Mr. Scott's task, and he has extricated himself from it without disgrace. To do more was perhaps impossible at least it required his happiest vein, and the most strenuous exertion of his powers; yet, as if to shew that the force of his genius can at pleasure triumph over mean associations, he ́has ventured to introduce into a scene of very serious and terrible interest, the three cheers of Old England, and with so noble an effect that we do not hesitate to give this passage the preference to any other in the poéni, "While all around was danger, strife and fear, While the earth shook, and darkened was
And wide destruction stunn'd the list'ning ear, Appalled the heart and stupified the eye; Afar was heard that thrice repeated cry In which old Albion's heart and tongue unite Whene'er her soul is up, and pulse beats high,
Whether it hail the wine-cup or the fight, And bid each arm be strong, or bid each heart be light.
Don Roderick turn'd him as the shout grew
A varied scene the changeful vision show'd;" For where the ocean mingled with the cloud, A gallant navy stemm'd the billows broad," liv, Iv.
After a highly spirited description of the British army, in their several divisions of English, Scotch, and
Irish, the poet boldly breaks the chain of his fiction; escapes from Don Roderick, the Prelate, and the Vision; and devotes the remainder of the poem exclusively to the celebration of British valour. We have already noticed some of the beauties of the piece. That our readers may have an idea of its defects also, we copy the following lines, which are not more weak, or of more ordinary manufacture, than manyothers which we pass over without notice. They contain an address to Massena. “But thou, unfoughten wilt thou yield to fate
Minion of fortune now miscalled in vain! Can vantage ground no confidence create, Marcella's pass nor Guarda's mountain chain?
Vain-glorious fugitive, yet turn again! Behold where, named by some prophetie seer, Flows Honour's Fountain, as fore-doomed
the name of poetry; and if we did not know its origin, should almost suppose it written for the Morning Post. The Vision of Don Roderick contains many passages of descriptive elegance, much spirited declamation, and many sounding lines. That it has less striking beauties than any of the former productions of its author, that it is occasionally turgid, and sometimes mean,-that it is deficient in elaboration and polish,and, above all, that it fails in interest, are truths which our admiration of the writer need not lead us to conceal; for it is proverbially true, that no man is at all times equal to himself: nor is there any want of precedent among poets, for enequalities of composition infinitely more marked than that which Mr. Scott has exhibited. The great demerit of this piece is its incompetency in exciting and arresting the attention-a fault, the cause of which is easily to be traced in the radical weakness of its plan. It is as difficult to listen with interest to a vision as to a dream, and they both equally demand conciseness in the narrator. If extended to any length, their dulness can only be redeemed by some artifice of plot, and continuity of action. A succession of independent events of real occurrence, such as form the subject of this poem, amounts to nothing more than a history, which is not the better for being told in verse, or introduced through the medium of a fiction.
High as the genius of Mr. Scott must be ranked, by all the lovers of true poetry; and wonderfully endowed as he is with the talent of adorning every subject that falls into his hands; it has been always apparent that he has owed much to his story, and that if he has far exceeded every other poet of his day in the delight which his works have excited, it is partly because his tales bave been such as would, independently of the embellishments of his verse, have been productive of entertainment. We consider the CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 121.
poem before us as the first instance in which, instead of being aided by his plan, he has been encumbered by it. This is the severest test to which talent can be exposed, and we think that it has been sustained in the present instance with ho
Memoirs of the Life of Peter Daniel Huet, Bishop of Avranches: written by himself; and translated from the original Latin, with copious Notes, biographical and critical, by JOHN AIKIN, M. D. 2 vols, 8vo. London: Longman and Co.,
WHATEVER might have been the real motive which impelled Huet to compose his own memoirs, he himself professes to have discovered one, in a desire to disclose the unsound parts of his character; by way of making a kind of oblation to the righteous Governor of the world. Under the influence of affliction, he writes:-"I felt myself summoned by God to scrutinize the engrained spots of my conscience, and most humbly and submissively lay them before his sight. I therefore thought I should perform an useful task in presenting an account of my past years to him, the Witness and Judge of all my delinquencies, and the Author of all grace, goodness, and beneficence, if I may hope to have acquired any merit for my actions in his eyes." (p. 2.) -To this paramount consideration he attaches one of subordinate impor tance, thus:-" To this motive was added the almost daily reproach of my friends; who, having heard me relate many anecdotes concerning the most learned men of this age, with whom I lived in close intimacy, urged me to undertake such a work." Ibid. Then follows a prayer that the Almighty would bless his undertaking. The comparative efficacy of the two motives announced in the above paragraphs may be determined by the general air of the performance. If the life of Huet be an useful speF
cimen of spiritual anatomy; then the writer was actuated by the nobler impulse first described. If it be merely an illustration of the importance of a man to himself; in that case, the narrator of his own tale may have had some difficulty in distinguishing the blandishment of some friends and many dependants, from a desire which originated solely in his own mind, to augment the reputation acquired by his writings, by superadding the fame and flattery of his admirers. Here then are two theories, one of which may perhaps be fully developed in the course of this article.
Huet was born in 1630. His father was once a Calvinist But the mention of this fact deserves to be amplified.
"My father was born and bred in the midst of the errors of Calvinism; yet, through the influence of Divine Grace, and the exhortations, both in person and by letter, of John Gontier, a pious and learned man of the order of Jesuits, he renounced the fatal doc. trines which he had imbibed. When his mother, from whom he had derived his erroneous opinions, was attacked by a severe disease that brought her life into imminent danger, the prayers of this excellent person for his parent's salvation, and his urgent exhortations, were so efficacious as to bring her to a sense of the truth; and, renouncing the doctrines of her nefarious sect with her dying voice, she calmly slept in Christ." p. 4.
Gontier, elevated to the most dizzy heights of self-gratulation, by this triumphant refutation of Calvinism, celebrated the whole affair in a collection of Greek, Latin, and French verses;" (p. 5.) which, in perpetuam rei memoriam, were engraved on immortal marble on the lady's tomb, in the church of St. John at Caen; at the expense of her son, who was an elegant dancer;" indeed, so elegant, "that once," says the anti-calvinistic prelate, when a splendid ballet was in preparation at Caen, and he was confined to his bed with a slight illness, the dancers came to him and constituted him the spectator
and sole judge of their intended exhibition." p. 6.
Huet details the adventures of his early years with more prolixity than would be admired even in the present age; when the value of biography seems almost to be measured by the compiler's ability to collect the littlenesses of the cradle, the coral, the nursery, the gingerbread, the school, and so on till the suckling becomes a man. But, peace! we do not wish to raise the ghost of Sam. Johnson.
While Huet was finding his way to manhood,
There arrived at Caen a company of Dominicans, for the purpose of restoring the relaxed discipline of the order in that town, With the spirit of piety displayed in this new form, I was so much captivated, that I became extremely desirous of being admitted into the society. My own relations, affectionately, yet pertinaciously, detained me a sort of prisoner in their houses; and thus was obviated a design, undertaken, as I supposed, on the Divine suggestion. Even from my early childhood I was conscious of no obscure wishes to enter into the service of
Christ; and I frequently felt the sparks of this pious desire bursting forth in my soul, which were repressed by a vivacious dispo sition, obnoxious to the light inclinations and feeble blandishments of the world; until at length conquering grace threw the rein over my reluctant spirit, and entirely subjected it to its own dominion." p. 25.
As curiosity allured the degenerate Israelites to attend the instructions of the precursor of the Messiah, though his doctrine, like his vesture and food, was repulsive to a haughty and luxurious nation,- so there has been always something in Monachism, which the young mind finds attractive; and unnatural as it may seem, the attractions are such as might be expected, if they pleased at all, to please any period of life except its vernal season; when pleasure either blossoms or begins to mature its high-flavoured fruit. This is the conquest achieved by the imagination of youth over the experience of age. When Huet had reached the winter, the hard season of life, he was able to interpret the wishes of his earlier days; and he
found his call to religious seclusion to have been nothing better than a boy's fancy. However, there seems to be in the above extract a lurking design on the part of the bishop to secure to himself the credit of having been substantially religious from his infancy. Yet the terms employed to testify the existence of this occult and dormant piety, are so artificial that if the climax be really truth, Truth, in this instance, has condescended to veil her simplicity beneath the drapery of affectation.
Huet's insatiable love of literature introduced him to Bochart: " But as the controversies between the Catholics and Calvinists, of the latter of whom Bochart was minister, were carried on with peculiar warmth; lest those of my persuasion should entertain suspicions of the soundness of my faith, it was agreed between us that I should pay my visits with caution, and for the most part by night, and without witnesses." (p. 36.) Let no controversialist, after reading this, neglect to improve the witching time of night; for now Peter, Martin, and Jack may converse without either speaking or using daggers.
While Huet's nights were given to Bochart, he laboured to accomplish his exterior by commencing a series of attentions to the sex; to be a favourite of whom," he says, "I regarded as the surest proof of politeness. In this view, I omitted nothing that I thought necessary to ingratiate myself with them: such as care of my person, elegance of dress, officious and frequent attendance upon them, verses, and gentle whispers, which feed the insanity of love: practices which I have, with too little reserve, displayed in a metrical epistle to Menage, well known to the public." (p. 48.) On this ridiculous and pitiable drivelling, the keen translator observes: "Nothing costs less to self-love than a confession of this kind; in which the writer, under the pretence of acknowledging some youthful frailties, gives views of himself which he
knows to be likely to enhance his character in the eyes of the majority of his readers. The epistle to Me nage is here obviously referred to, by way of further information on a subject which he could not decorously dwell upon." If an accurate surveyor of human nature, in its present abject state, were looking abroad for an object which had an undisputed claim to deep commiseration, we should venture to direct his attention to the conduct of a Christian prelate, who, in his eightyfifth year, could not resign the repu tation of having enjoyed the average share of sinful pleasure in the prime of manhood; the season when men of the world formally allow themselves and others to drink the Circean cup, not merely as a matter of course, but as a kind of homage fairly due to their general system, and the willing price by which the friendship of their community may be purchased and secured. Huet writes, as though he expected to "breathe a second spring," while he caught a distant prospect of the groves of Daphne; to whose guilty recesses all return was now de barred; not, it should seem, by principle, but by causes which no speculations of his could controul.
Some readers may censure these remarks, as too harsh for the occasion. The translator, we believe, will not concur in that censure. has known enough of mankind to be aware of the fact, that in many sad instances, the libertine survives the man; and he will account for the unextinguished influence of vice on the mind of one who appears unwilling to renounce sin, even when, in one sense, sin has renounced him. It is a strange circumstance, and wise men will observe it, that libertines themselves have frequently turned with abhorrence froin such superannuated offenders as have aspired to totter back again, from the verge of the grave, to scenes where the confession is wrung out, "I have nop leasure in them." Nature feels herself degraded and insulted; and
the very adepts in profligacy are ready to despise gratifications which they discover to be valuable to the fancy of a dying dotard.
In 1652, Huet visited Sweden in order to pay his learned respects to queen Christina. On his return through Holland, he says:
At Worcum I personally experienced what I had often heard, but regarded as a fiction; namely, that in the Dutch inns, a charge is made to the guest, not only for expenses incurred in his entertainment, but for the noise he makes. For when we were reckoning with our host, he put down to our account the barking of our little dog, and the horse-laughs of our saucy valet. And upon our laughing still louder at the charge, and treating it as a joke, the landlord flew into a passion, and called to his assistance certain rustics armed with axes: Here,' said he, are those who will make these rascally Frenchmen pay their dues!' We chose rather to submit than to fight." p. 189.
This jocose story will convince every candid reader that Sir John Carr's claim to originality must henceforth be abandoned. He is now convicted of having twitched from a Scandinavian crag all that time has suffered to remain of the inantle of Sir Peter Daniel Huet. But such is now the ingratitude of mankind, that a traveller can compile a quarto Northern Summer without expressing a single obligation to the man, who not only bequeathed his mantle, but an anecdote out of My Pocket-Book, by dropping a leaf of his journal at a Dutch tavern.
After a season, the author's moral feelings revived. He describes the consequence thus:
"It was now some time since I had duly explored the recesses of my conscience, and nulolded them in the Divine presence: for it commonly happens that the pursuit of vulgar objects attracts the mind from the contemplation of the celestial life, and even from a vigorous correction of the manners. For these purposes, a retreat to La Fleche, and the assistance of Mambrun, appeared well cal culated. I therefore with great alacrity repaired thither; and after a delightful conversation between us on the state of our conterns, I resolved to set apart an entire week,
according to the institution of the blessed Loyola, for the attentive recollection of all the errors of my past life, and the more careful regulation of my future days. Aud O that I had adhered to my engagements! but I too readily suffered myself to be borne away by the fire of youth, the allurements of the world, and the pleasures of study, which so filled my breast, and closed up all its inlets with an infinite number of thoughts, that it gave no admission to those intimate and charming conferences with the Supreme Being. Under this imbecility of soul with respect to divine things I have laboured during the whole course of my life; and even now, the frequent and almost perpetual wauderings of a volatile mind blunt my as pirations to God, and intercept all the benefit of my prayers. When from time to time God has benignantly invited me to pious exercises for the purpose of confirming in my soul the sense of religion, and washing away the stains contracted from human contagion, I have retired to places suitable to those intentions; either to the Jesuits' College at Caen, or the Abbey of Ardennes of the Præmonstratensian order, one mile distant from Caen, or to our own Aulnai, after I was placed at the head of it. But I frequently experienced a contrary current in the breeze of divine grace; as if the Deity by this indifference meant to punish my immoderate attachment to letters, and my sluggish movements towards divine things." p. 239.
The religion developed in this confession, is that of a person who compels himself to bear in mind, that when a bishop writes his own life, the world will expect him to say something about the object of his profession, as a matter at least of propriety; or demand it as a kind of technical finish to a piece of ecclesiastical biography. But to answer this demand, is embarrassing. A prelate finds himself to be no bishop, but a parade officer; or a civilian in canonicals; or a man of letters living in classical luxury at the expense of the church. Still, there are moments when the soul looks into futurity. The feelings of these awful intervals, together with their immediate consequences, are recalled and described; and the result is inade to stand as evidence of the writer's religion. In retracing his adventures, Huet.