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haunted with an exceeding dread that the marvellous machinery of which he so lavishly makes use, may displease the critics of these degenerate and prosaic days. Twice he takes occasion to quote at length the same four lines of 'notre législateur Boileau.' 'Sans tous ces ornemens le vers tombe en langueur; La poésie est morte, ou rampe sans vigueur; Le Poëte n'est plus qu'un orateur timide, Qu'un froid historien d'une fable insipide.'
And again and again he reminds the world, that Virgil has produced an epic, but Lucan no more than a gazette in hexameters. We believe, however, that M. Parseval will find he has been rather mistaken in his apprehensions. Few critics, we venture to say, will seize on the appearance of his great work, as presenting an irresistible opportunity for investigating the principles on which either the marvellous in general, or any particular species of the marvellous, has been, or ought to be introduced either in this, or in any other species of composition. Such speculations, it will in all probability be decided, may be safely deferred until another Poëme Héroïque' of the old school shall have been put forth by some person in whom the public have the pleasure to recognize not merely a diligent student of the various treatises of the poetic art, but a poet.
If hard students are commonly rewarded in France by gold snuffboxes, the gentleman has deserved his, which we hope is a musical one. He has got his Horace and his Boileau by heart, And if we have not read Longinus,
Will magisterially outshine us :'
He has perused with laudable perseverance M. de Sainte Palaie's Essays on Chivalry, Dr. Robertson's View of the Feudal System, the Renée of the Vicomte de Chateaubriand, the Castle of Otranto, and many other works illustrative of the manners and customs of the middle ages; and the lore thus laboriously accumulated is spread, with a generous hand, both over his numbers and his notes. He has given us we know not how many tournaments, parliaments of love, banquets, ordeals, dubbings of knights, and professions of nuns-but unfortunately, he has described no realities which had not been much better described before-and he has invented nothing but what is absurd. We understand that the skill with which he constructs his Alexandrines has been much applauded in his own country; and this praise he probably deserves. But if we overlook the mere mechanism of versification, and come to M. Parseval's language, we fear it is impossible not to see that in this far more essential matter, poverty, conceit, and utter incongruity of effect are blemishes equally prevailing and
fatal. There is a constant struggle to blend the picturesque simplicity of the Chronicler or Romancer, with what the French talk of as the polished stateliness of the French tragedy; and the result is disagreeable. In one paragraph we have Haute et puissante dame,' and in the next Quoi, Madame?' Royal spectres begin their speeches with an Eh bien,' and when the ghost of the chosen hero Montmorenci himself heads the French army, and decides the fate of the empire at Bovines, we are told that
Germains, Hongrois, Teutons, reculent effrayés,
La force en vain combat, l'épouvante est plus forte; Mort ou vivant, fantôme ou chevalier, N'IMPORTE Again, one of the principal preux of the cycle of Philippe Auguste, conceiving an unfortunate passion for the wife of the eldest son of his king and his own most particular friend, is, as is proper, by that lady rejected and rebuked; falls, of course, into a state of the most profound and heroic melancholy, and thus describes his situation
'Le bonheur est fécond, le malheur est aride,
But the best example is behind. The main knot in the fable of M. Parseval is this: Philippe Auguste, being persuaded that his dearly beloved queen, Isembure, is an adultress, dismisses her and takes Agnes de Meranie in her stead. The pope, disapproving of this proceeding, lays an interdict on the kingdom of France, the consequences of which are fearful in the extreme; more particularly the interruption to marriages, thus tenderly, classically, and ecclesiastically alluded to by our poet
'O vierges, qui d'amour languissez dès l'aurore,
In the meantime Agnes herself becomes convinced of her predecessor's purity-for no other reason in the world but that the said predecessor, with whom she meets one fine morning by the merest accident in the world in a church, assures her she is pure. The Queen de facto engages Montmorenci to prove the fact thus ascertained, by a duel, and the result is the re-establishment of the Queen de jure, the removal of the interdict, and the final triumph of Philippe Auguste over all his enemies. Now it seems pretty
clear that the return of Isembure to her husband's arms under such circumstances is an incident of high importance in the plot
of this epic: the situation is in itself, no one can deny, a very noble and affecting one. The following is the use made of it by M.
'Les ordres du monarque assemblent son conseil.
Les dénombrements,' says M. Parseval, qui font une partie nécessaire de l'épopée, ont peu d'attraits pour les lecteurs: et c'est là surtout que le poëte doit épuiser toutes les ressources de l'art d'écrire, pour obtenir leur attention.'
The above is part of the note upon the passage, in which M. Parseval describes the army of King John at the battle of Bovines; to wit:
Les uns viennent du nord de la riche Angleterre
Et vous, nobles guerriers d'Hertford et de Cambridge,
Que leur ont prodigué les beautés de Windsor.'
Not satisfied with surpassing Homer and Virgil in this splendid manner, M. Parseval takes various opportunities of coming to close quarters with the most celebrated poets of modern days. We request particular attention to the following passage from Chant VII. in which he enters the lists with Milton and transports us to the Empyrean.
'Thibaut dans un air pur
Qui du sein du Très-Haut en flots brillants s'écoule,
Et dont les ruisseaux d'or, de nacre, et de saphir,
Qui nagent, s'inondant de ces flots précieux,
Recommending these flots précieux,'' flots brillants,'' brillants canals' and brillantes effusions' to the leisurely consideration of our readers, we request them to pass with us for a moment to Chant XI. where Philippe-Auguste is gratified with a survey of the apparitions of all his royal predecessors on the throne of France, and among the rest those of Childeric and his paramour Bazine.
'Cette ombre que tu vois, lui dit la plus jeune ombre,
Mon époux l'accueillit. Oh! de quel trouble atteinte
Que les baisers sont doux quand c'est toi qui les cueilles,
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The poet says, with perfect good faith, in his Note on this
'cette apparition de Bazine et de Childéric m'a été INSPIRÉE par l'admirable Episode de Françoise de Rimini dans l'Enfer du Dante.'
Inspiration, indeed! We certainly thought that a living genius of our own country had succeeded in degrading the story of Francesca of Rimini as far as the powers of human bathos could plunge, but we must admit that this new master of the Epopée Chrétienne,' as he continually calls it, has achieved a still baser degree of profanation. A great authority says;
In poetry the height we know ;
'Tis only infinite below :
For instance :—when we rashly think
Soars downwards deeper by a yard.'
The introduction of Solomon for Launcelot, and the muddy murder of quel giorno più non vi leggemmo avante' in the three last lines we have quoted from M. Parseval, are, however, we must still hope, specimens of the absolute ne plus infra.
In an earlier part of this epic poem the scene between Hubert and Arthur, in Shakspeare's King John, inspires Monsieur Parseval with a passage quite as abominable, and so much longer, that we cannot think of transcribing it. But indeed our readers may, probably, be of our own opinion: namely, that we have already given too much space to a performance in which, after all, there is at least as much to provoke pity as merriment. The chief faults revealed by his grand jour de l'impression' are, he may depend upon it, never once alluded to in the voluminous notes of this laureate of the Tabatière.
ART. V.-1. The Subaltern. 8vo. Edinburgh. 1825. 2. The Adventures of a Young Rifleman in the French and English Armies during the War in Spain and Portugal, from 1806 to 1816. Written by himself. London. 1826. 3. Adventures of a French Serjeant, during his Campaigns in Italy, Spain, Germany, Russia, &c. from 1805 to 1823. Written by himself. London. 1826.
WHEN we consider of what materials the British army is composed; that its officers are, for the most part, and have long been, gentlemen, and men of at least some education; we cannot help experiencing both regret and surprize at the total absence of literary ambition which appears generally to affect them. There is perhaps no species of composition which the