« PoprzedniaDalej »
SC EN ES
DURING THE CONFLAGRATION IN NEW-YORK, DECEMBER 16Th, 1835.
THERE was a marriage, and the fair
Proceed, thou holy man!
So spake the youth
- And so the priest, with solemn voice inquir'd
Lo, the tide
Ah! who can tell
Still hope was there;
And noon and midnight were to her the same.
Hark! 't is the mother's cry,
She passed out homeless, on that bitter night.
L. H. S.
Long, long the theme of every past delight,
"A thing of beauty is a joy for ever!'
I had a dream - a dream, but that is o'er,
I own the light, the glory of thy brow;
Farewell !--- and though the thought of thee may gleam
L. L. D. P.
SCRIPTURAL ANTHOLOGY : OR, Biblical ILLUSTRATIONS. Designed as a Present for all
Seasons. By Nathan C. BROOKS, A. M. In one volume. pp. 180. Philadelphia : William MARSHALL AND COMPANY. Baltimore: BAYLY AND BURNS.
On opening this volume, the first thing which meets the eye of the reader is the 'publishers' preface,' evidently written by the author, wherein the succeeding pages are en of, as ' blending exalted sentiment and devotional fervor with the enchantments of poetry. This modest verdict is followed by this farther declaration :
While we must claim for our author a high degree of poetic excellence, we would by no means insist that his productions will be found superior to criticism; as they are merely the relaxation of a scholar, while laboriously engaged as superintendent of one of our largest and most respectable literary institutions.' Here two or three birds are killed with one stone. Mr. Brooks is not only a poet of the first order, but he is a scholar, and moreover, preceptor of a very superior academy; and his faults as a writer are to be excused, on the ground that he is engaged in literary occupations! As we perused this advance critique and academy advertisement, we could not help calling to mind the economical inscription upon a tomb-stone in Père La Chaise, Paris:
Here lies the body of M—R an affectionate parent and kind husband. His disconsolate widow still keeps the shop, No.-, Rue -, where may be found, at all times, a superior assortment of gloves, hosiery, linens,' etc. But waiving the diffident introduction to the volume under notice, and bearing in mind, that while the elephant is always drawn smaller than life, a flea must be represented larger, let us pass to a few remarks upon the egg which is heralded by so much cackling.
Having read the 'Scriptural Anthology' through, (for which feat we trust to become distinguished, in like manner with that long, low, 'dark-complected individual, who is pointed out on a sunny day in Broadway, as 'the man who has read. The Monnikins,') we are prepared to speak our opinion of its merits; and since we neither know, nor have ever seen, the author, we cannot be accused of being influenced in our comments by personal considerations. Sooner shall the surges of the sandiferous sea ignify and evaporate,' ('style is style,' and we have caught the infection) than we be justly chargeable with such disingenuous motives !
The first features of Mr. Brooks' writings, which we have to notice, are their inflation and redundance. He is ever on stilts — aiming to petrify the reader in a single stanza — and 'winnowing the air with wingéd words.' Heconceives nothing too high for him to mount; nor does he ever seem aware, in reducing his aspirations to practice, of the pressure about his heels. He tosses his splendid epithets around him, and hammers out hard sentences on the anvil of his brain, with untiring perseverance. This may be necessary, however, for the purposes of amplification,' mentioned in the publishers' preface.' He tells us how the 'opalled sun-beams' shone, and the moon-beams leaped from heaven's urn of blue;' how the sun played prompter, and 'rolled up the curtain of the world's theatre;' the winds are described as
'strong-lunged heralds of the storm,' while the thunder 'booms from pole to pole.' His personal similes are numerous. Take, for example, one feature. We have the
cheek of heaven' turning pale, 'ocean's cheek,' the 'cheek of earth,'' night's starry cheek,' and the 'cheek of day;' the loud winds' seize the giant billows' Samson locks;' the veil of darkness hangs in 'foldings' over the face of earth; and there are dark 'foldings' in the tempest's robe. If a line is not sufficiently full, nothing is easier than to remedy the defect by elongating a proper name-as ‘Babylon-ia's waters,' or ' Egypt-ia's soil' - after the manner of that famed university poet, who, (embodying a sentiment worthy of Mr. Brooks' attention,) wrote:
"A man cannot make himself a poet,
No more 'n a sheep can make itself a go-at!' Subjoined are a few specimens of amplification. The first is taken from Abrahain's Sacrifice:
• The waren neck
The tissue of the pure, transparent skin.'
· The moon
Of living rays upon the slumbering earth.' The annexed is from the 'Beheading of John the Baptist.' It is a fair specimen of our author's general style and taste :
. The man of blood bore in the gory head
How much better than poor prose is the following ? - always excepting the electro-magnetic simile, so unaffected and so clear. Abraham is here spoken of:
• Strengthened and composed,
Of strong paternal feeling.' We must protest against reducing touching and beautiful passages of Scripture to such verse as is in this volume turned to small account, in paraphrasing the captivity of Zion, our Saviour's lamentation over Jerusalem, the melting pathos of the 'Man of Uz,' or re-painting, in lines of tedious vapidity, a scene like that of Belshazzar's feast, what time his guests gazed at the hand-writing on the wall, * Until their thought-strained eyes
dilated He must needs be largely gifted, who kindles adequately at the flame of the sacred writers. It requires something more than one who contents his ideas with the 'films and images that fly off upon his senses from the superfices of things,' to beautify, or render more poetical, some of the finest scenes recorded in Holy Writ.
Our author, we are sorry to perceive, has not at all times a proper regard for the VOL. XI.
laws of mëum and tüum. He has borrowed, if not' line upon line,' yet here a little, and there a great deal. CamPBELL's noble line,
* And the sentinel stars set their watch in the sky,' he has metamorphosed, for instance, into
* Beneath the night-watch of the sentinel stars ;' and that admirable conceit which SHAKSPEARE puts into the mouth of Richard III.,
"And e'en the stars do wink,
As 't were with over-watching,' is altered to
* The pale stars grow dim with watching.' We have pencilled several other lines, equally glaring with the foregoing.
Now and then, we are struck with a few stanzas of a simple or sublime character, which convince us that were Mr. Brooks to cease altogether to write ad ostentationem, he might hope for very respectable success. Witness the following lines, which are spirited and unaffected :
"The God Omnipotent, who rolled
Hymn his own vast immensity!' And that is a good simile, which describes the marks of the deluge upon high mountains
• As a memorial of the curse of sin,
Upon its giant sides.' But such passages are rare, amidst frequent trickeries of phrase, and examples of verbose bombast, and diluted thoughts, encumbered with tinsel and frippery. Our author does not lack words; and, being born of few ideas, they flow freely enough from his mind and pen ; just as people come faster out of a church when it is empty, than when a crowd is at the door. Hence, it is needless to add, he is a prëeminent mannerist.
Mr. Brooks may be a scholar; he may be well versed in the Greek and Roman story; he may be a competent principal of one of our largest and most respectable literary institutions;' but whatever his 'publishers' preface' may insinuate to the contrary, he is no poet ; and, as a volume of poetry, 'to compare his book with a bottle of small beer, would be greatly to belie that fluid.' He might, indeed, we have reason to believe -- judging from his idea of the horrid, as manifested in the extract above, describing the head in a charger,' and other passages of a kindred description – concoct a melo-drama, that, in popular parlance, would'take' well. Let him therefore study some of the higher flights of SUMNER LINCOLN FAIRFIELD, (whom he resembles, as a writer, in his worst points,) and become familiar with his night-riding incubi, Abaddon, etc., and then, being ripe for his task, write a play; call it. The Unknown Spirit of the Mysterious Grotto, or the Immense Vacuum of the Solitude of the Desert,' or designate it by some such euphonious and mysterious title, and we will use our influence with ‘Mr. George Jones, the Great American Tragedian'— par nobile fralrum! - to take the part of the Unknown Spirit.' So shall the fame of the author of 'Scriptural Anthology' be fully established.
The typographical execution of the volume is creditable to the publishers; although little can be said in favor of the 'embellishments,' so ostentatiously set forth; espocially the 'minor embellishments, or tail-pieces' — small, coarse wood-cuts, an inch or two square. The persevering reader will be pleased, however, with one of these, at the close of the book. It is termed in the catalogue, 'FINIA !!