Page images

3. — Blended Emotions arising from Scenery and Sentiment

[Manfred's Soliloquy.] Byron.
“ The stars are forth, the moon above the tops
Of the snow-shining mountains. - Beautiful!-
I do remember me, that in my youth,
When I was wandering, — upon such a night
I stood within the Colosseum's wall,
'Midst the chief relics of almighty Rome:
The trees which grew along the broken arches,
Waved dark in the blue midnight; and the stars
Shone through the rents of ruin; from afar
The watchdog bayed beyond the Tiber; and,
More near, from out the Cæsar's palace came

The owl's long cry; and, interruptedly,
Of distant sentinels the fitful song
Began and died upon the gentle wind.
Some cypresses, beyond the time-worn breach,
Appeared to skirt the horizon, yet they stood
Within a bowshot, — where the Cæsars dwelt,
And dwell the tuneless birds of night, amidst
A grove which springs through levelled battlements,
And twines its roots with the imperial hearths;
Ivy usurps the laurel's place of growth;-
But the Gladiator's bloody Circus stands,
A noble wreck in ruinous perfection!
While Cæsar's chambers, and the Augustan halls,
Grovel on earth in indistinct decay. —
And thou didst shine, thou rolling moon, upon
All this, and cast a wide and tender light,
Which softened down the hoar austerity
Of rugged desolation, and filled up,
As 'twere, anew, the gaps of centuries;
Leaving that beautiful which still was so,
And making that which was not, till the place
Became religion; and the heart ran o'er
With silent worship of the great of old !--
The dead, but sceptred sovereigns, who still rule
Our spirits from their urns.” —

4. — Prose Example of the preceding Emotions.

[Reflections on Westminster Abbey.] Irving. “The shadows of evening were gradually thickening around me; the monuments began to cast deeper and deeper gloom; and the distant clock again gave token of the slowly-waning day. I rose, and prepared to leave the abbey. ........

“ The last beams of day were now faintly streaming through the painted windows in the high vaults above me: the lower parts of the abbey were already wrapped in the obscurity of twilight. The chapels and aisles grew darker and darker. The effigies of the kings faded into shadow; the marble figures of the monuments assumed strange shapes in the uncertain light; the evening brecze crept through the aisles, like the cold breath of the grave; and even the distant footfall of a verger, traversing the Poet's Corner, had something strange and dreary in its sound. I slowly retraced my morning's walk; and as I passed out at the portal of the cloisters, the door, closing with a jarring noise behind me, filled the whole building with echoes.

“I endeavoured to form some arrangement in my mind of the objects I had been contemplating; but found they were already falling into indistinctness and confusion. Names, inscriptions, trophies, had all become confounded in my recollection, though I had scarcely taken my foot from off the threshold. What, thought I, is this vast assemblage of sepulchres but a treasury of humiliation ; a huge pile of reiterated homilies on the emptiness of renown, and the certainty of oblivion! It is, indeed, the empire of Death; his great shadowy palace; where he sits in state, mocking at the relics of human glory, and spreading dust and forgetfulness on the monuments of princes. How idle a boast, after all, is the immortality of a name!

“ History fades into fable; fact becomes clouded with doubt and controversy; the inscription moulders from the tablet; the statue falls from the pedestal. Columns, arches, pyramids, what are they but heaps of sand — and their epitaphs, but characters written in the dust?

“What then is to insure this pile, which now towers above me, from sharing the fate of mightier mausoleums? The tiine must come when its gilded vaults, which now spring so loftily, shall lie in rubbish beneath the feet; when, instead of the sound of melody and praise, the wind shall whistle through the broken arches, and the owl hoot from the shattered tower, — when the garish sunbeam shall break into these

gloomy mansions of death; and the ivy twine round the fallen column and the fox-glove hang its blossoms about the nameless urn, as if in mockery of the dead. Thus man passes away; his name perishes from record and recollection; his history is as a tale that is told; and his very monument becomes a ruin.”


1. — GRAVE STYLE. Example in Didactic Composition.

(Heroism of the Pilgrims.] Choate. « To play the part of heroism on its high places, and its theatre, is not, perhaps, so very difficult. — To do it alone, as seeing Him who is invisible, was the stupendous trial of the pilgrim heroism.

“A peculiarity in their trials was, that they were unsustained, altogether, by every one of the passions, aims, stimulants, and excitations, the anger, the revenge, the hate, the pride, the awakened, the dreadful thirst of blood, the consuming love of glory, the feverish rapture of battle, – that burn, as in volcanic isles, in the heart of mere secularized heroism. — Not one of all these aids, did or could come in use for them. Their character and their situation both excluded them. Their enemies were disease walking in darkness, and destroying at noonday; famine, which, more than all other calamities, bows the spirit of a man, presses his radiant form to the dust, and teaches him what he is; the wilderness; spiritual foes on the high places of the unseen world.”


Didactic Composition.

[Tyranny of Fashion.] Mrs. Barbauld. “ To break the shackles of oppression, and assert the native rights of man, is esteemed by many among the noblest efforts of heroic virtue. But vain is the possession of political liberty, if there exist a tyrant of our own creation, who, without law or reason, or even external force, exercises over us the most despotic authority ; whose jurisdiction is extended over every part of private and domestic life, controls our pleasures, fashions our garb, cramps our motions, fills

our lives with vain care and restless anxiety. The worst slavery is that which we voluntarily impose upon ourselves; and no chains are 80 cumbrous and galling, as those which we are pleased to wear, by way of grace and ornament.”


Descriptive Composition.

[The Martin.] Jardine. “In summer comes the dark, swift-winged martin, glancing through the air, as if afraid to visit our uncertain clime: he comes, though late, and hurries through his business here, eager again to depart, — all day long in agitation and precipitate flight. The bland zephyrs of the spring have no charms with these birds; but, basking and careering in the sultry gleams of June and July, they associate in throngs, and screaming dash round the steeple or the ruined tower, to serenade their nesting mates; and glare and heat are in their train."


Descriptive Composition.

[The Court of Fashion.] Mrs. Barbauld. “ The courtiers of Alexander, it is said, flattered him by carrying their heads on one side, because he had the misfortune to have a wry neck; but all adulation is poor, compared to what is practised in the court of Fashion. Sometimes the queen will lisp and stammer; and then none of her attendants can speak plain:' sometimes she chooses to totter as she walks ;- and then they are seized with sudden lameness. According as she appears half undressed, or veiled from head to foot, her subjects become a procession of nuns, or a troop of Bacchanalian nymphs.”


Example in Burlesque Verse.

[Artificial Education.] Jane Taylor.
6 'Tis thus Education, (so called in our schools,)
With costly materials and capital tools,

Sits down to her work, if you duly reward her,
And sends it home finished according to order.?

Site dowds it the

“ See French and Italian spread out on her lap;
Then Dancing springs up, and skips into a gap;
Next Drawing and all its varieties come,
Sewed down in their place by her finger and thumb.

“ And then, for completing her fanciful robes,
Geography, Music, the Use of the Globes,
&c. &c., which, — match as they will, —
Are sewed into shape, and set down in the bill.

6 Thus Science, distorted, and torn into bits,
Art, tortured, and frightened half out of her wits ;
In portions and patches, — some light and some shady,-
Are stitched up together, and make — a young lady.'”


Example of Earnest Emotion.

[From a Ballad.] Heber.
“O captain of the Moorish hold,

Unbar thy gates to me!
And I will give thee gems and gold,

To set Fernando free.”


This quality," though, in many instances, perfectly “pure” to the ear, implies a greater exertion of force, in the action of the organs, than is required for the sole effect of “purity.” It demands, likewise, a position of the palate quite different from what is requisite for the production of " pure tone." The latter property belongs to calm and gentle emotions, and needs attention chiefly to a perfectly tranquil posture and undisturbed play of the organs, with a reserved and

* The word “orotund” implies, by its etymology, round and full utterance.

« PreviousContinue »