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nature, those manifold and admirable touches of character and passion, that picture of the manners of an age, that image of the 6 heart of a nation ?" Alas! these are things not susceptible of being transferred elsewhere. They may be born again, but the lifeless bodies which once contained them cannot be re-animated.
What then has Virgil done? He has built up a monument of art and labor, which even they who are most sensible of its deficiencies cannot but regard with admiration, almost with wonder, for the powers and acquirements expended on it. It is a magnificent delusion, and might well excuse the exaggerated praises of the author's contemporaries. The march of the narrative is stately and imposing; the story, though decidedly inferior to that of Tasso, is woven together with no small skill; the versification harmonious and varied to an almost unequalled degree. In delicacy, in majesty, in mild pathos, he has few rivals; and there is often a picturesque power in his words, of which the Latin language might have seemed to be scarcely susceptible. Of the multiplicity of bis acquirements we need not speak; his industry, in this respect, appears to have been truly Miltonian.
We might, and would willingly, say much more on the various topics connected with Virgil; although we are not without fears that wbat we have already said will be thought neither very clear nor very satisfactory. But our limits are short, and we will therefore conclude this part of our subject with a striking passage from a writer to whom we have already referred ;—the German historian of Rome :
“Perbaps it is a problem that cannot be solved, to form an epic poem out of an argument which has not lived for centuries in popular songs and tales as common national property, so that the cycle of stories which comprises it, and all the persons who act a part in it, are familiar to every one. Assuredly the problem was not to be solved by Virgil, whose genius was barren for creating, great as was his talent for embellishing. That he felt this himself, and did not disdain to be great in the way adapted to his endowments, is proved by his very practice of imitating and borrowing, by the touches he introduces of an exquisite and extensive erudition, so much admired by the Romans, now so little appreciated. He who puts together elaborately and by piecemeal, is aware of the chinks and crevices which varnishing and polishing conceal only from the unpractised eye, aud from which the work of the master, issuing at once from the mould, is free. Accordingly Virgil, we may
felt a misgiving, that all the foreigo ornament with which he was decking his work, though it might enrich the poem, was pot his own wealth, and that this would at last be perceived by posterity: that potwithstanding this fretting con
sciousness, he strove, in the way which lay open to him, to give to a poem, which he did not write of his own free choice, the highest degree of beauty it could receive from his hands; that he did not, like Lucan, vainly and blindly affect an inspiration which nature had denied to him ; that he did not allow himself to be infatuated, when he was idolized by all around him; and when Propertius sang
Yield, Roman poets, bards of Greece, give way;
The Íliad suon shall own a greater lay; that, when death was releasing him from the fétters of civil observances, he wished to destroy what in those solemn moments he could not but view with melancholy, as the groundwork of a false reputation ;--this is what renders him estimable, and makes us indulgent to all the weaknesses of his poem.”
It has been often maintained, that a tranquil and liberal despotism is more favorable to the growth of the fine arts than a free constitution; and the Augustan age of literature has been appealed to as an evidence. It would not be difficult to assemble a host of instances tending the contrary way; but with regard to the particular example adduced in proof of the maxim, we cannot help thinking it more than a doubtful one. Let it be observed, that the mind of Rome had been awakened, and had grown to maturity, in a state of liberty, or amidst civil struggles; that the ground had long been prepared, and had already produced some of its choicest fruits; and that the brilliant career of letters in general, and of poetry in particular, was but the continuation of their former progress,
-a progress which the new and incomplete servitude under Augustus could not wholly or even visibly retard. Thus it was in France in the first part of the reign of Louis XIV., during the peace which succeeded the conflicts of the league; thus it was in Spain, after the liberties of Castile had been finally crushed by Charles V. And what appears to establish our position is, that in all these three cases, when the first bright constellation of writers had gone out, no others arose in their stead; the mental energies of the nation were gradually weakened, and an inferior race succeeded. Rome never produced a second Livy; still less a second Virgil. Of the many men of various talent who attempted to tread in the path of the Mantuan, no one can be considered as even approaching him ; those, indeed, who followed most closely in his track, remained the farthest below him. Several of these performances are still extant; but they will not, in general, detain us long. The most remarkable of the later epic poets of Rome, and by far the first in intellectual power, was Lucan. His work never received its final correction ; a fate which, by some perverse coincidence, befel almost all the epic attempts of the Romans now
extant—the Æneid, the Argonautics, the Achilleid of Statius, and the Raptus Proserpinæ of Claudian. In Lucan's case, this was owing to that premature death which, combined with his charac: ter, reminds us of our own Shelley—to whom, in other respects, he bears very little resemblance. The marks of youthful exuberance and immature judgment in the Pharsalia are so palpable, the inequalities so abrupt, that we could almost engage to point out which passages he would have expunged, and which retained, bad he been spared ten years longer. What the poem would have been, in its ripened state, is hard to say: yet we cannot help thinking that something great would have been produced. As it is, we can only regard it as a brilliant promise. In the plan and conduct of his poem, as well as in bis manner of writing, Lucan is far more original than any of his brethren. In his descriptions, his coloring is sometimes bold, but much oftener tawdry and bombastic; and it is seldom that he rises into the regions of pure poetry; the most remarkable instance is in the enchantments of Erichtho. But the great and redeeming excellence of the poem is its passion. Let not our readers be startled by this paradox; we speak not of what is ordinarily meant by the word, but of a philosophical passion, a stoical enthusiasm, a delight in the inculcation of noble and heart-stirring truths. This pervades the whole poem, and imparts to it a moral dignity which nove of its fellows possess; and for a parallel to which we must refer to Milton, whose deep and lofty religious belief produces a somewhat analogous effect on his poem ; and who, by the way, seems to have borrowed from Lucan bis habit of intermixing his narrative with frequent and long-continued reflection. It is remarkable, indeed, how the Roman poet sinks and rises, as he vibrates between story and moral declamation.
The age of Domitian and Trajan produced three epic poets, who may be classed together, not merely as contemporaries, but as having adopted Virgil, with more or less closeness, for their model. These were Statius, Valerius Flaccus, and Silius Italicus. Of these, the last is, in our opinion at least, the most readable; on account of the exceeding interest of his subject (the second Pupic war), the moonlike reflection of Virgilian grace and harmony which characterises his poem, and the fine Roman feeling which inspirits it. He has no express hero : Hannibal on the one side, and the Roman people collectively on the other, are the leading ideas of
Like Livy, whom he follows, he bates the great Carthaginian, yet is evidently overawed by his genius. His great fault is a certain coldness of manner; and his most remarkable merit, an eye for natural beauty, and a power of picturesque description. In this respect scarcely any of the Latin poets surpassed him. Statius is more original than either of his associates ; but his sins of taste, his bombast, and his false passion, far more
than counteract the effects of his frequent vivid conceptions, his sustained stateliness, and the occasional touches of exquisite tenderness which are scattered here and there in the sultry desert of the Thebaid. From his Sylvæ, the most valuable part of his works, be appears to have been of a soft and affectionate temperament, fond of quiet, and exemplary in the duties of private life. It seems at first sight passing strange, that such a man should have found delight (which yet he evidently did) in filling twelve long books with the exploits of heroes, who may be described as wild beasts in human form, always breathing hatred and fury, and scarcely exhibiting, from the beginning to the end of the poem, a single trait of generosity or magnanimity. It is true that the Thebaid was a youthful performance; and we are inclined to think that maturer years would have taught Statius where his real strength lay, and induced him to choose a subject of a less revolting nature, as well as to mix up more of true humanity in his repiesentations. That this would probably have been the case, may be gathered from the fragment of the Achilleid ; a poem unfortunate in its design, but of which the two unfinished cantos, though not free from the author's besetting sins of diction and magery, contain more beauty and interest than the whole of the "Thebaid. The beautiful sentence in the description of the young Achilles, (1. 167.)
Fors et lætus adest: o quantum gaudia formæ
is alone worth a capto of bluster and massacre. We
may that Statius is singularly happy in his pictures of infancy and boyhood.
Of Valerius Flaccus we shall best convey our idea by saying, that although far inferior to Virgil in extent of powers, his mind seems to us to have been cast in a more Virgilian mould than that of any other Latin poet. His subject was the same as that of Apollonius; and making all proper deductions for the superior aptitude of the Greek language for poetry, we think that he has fully equalled him; perhaps, in the conduct of the poem, excelled him. His style is remarkably bard and obscure; perhaps from the work having been left a fragment in an uncorrected state. We recollect one singularly fine incident in this poet. Medea administers a powerful magic draught to the dragon appointed to guard the golden fleece; it takes partial effect; but the instinctive fidelity of the brute guardian still struggles even against the might of sorcery, employed to overpower its faithfulness; and Medea, with pain and unwillingness, is compelled to apply a stronger spell, which at length effects its purpose. This is a conception which one might expect to find in a great modern poet.
The last in the catalogue of Roman epic poets is Claudian. On the 'merits and defects of this writer we bave treated so largely in a former article, that little need be added here. His political poems, though tinged with the epic character, cannot be classed under the bead of regular epopees. The unfinished Rape of Proserpine is distinguished from other works of the same denomination by its subject being, not in parts, but in its very groundwork, superhuman. This was a daring attempt; and it is executed with very considerable success. We are not inclined to agree with the critics in their excessive condemnation of Claudian's extravagance and overflow of fancy; we think, on the contrary, that his manner, though ill-suited to more regularly heroic subjects, harmonizes well with this. Among the flowers of Enna, we are not sure that we should not prefer Claudian as a companion, even to Virgil. In pathos Claudian is far from deficient; the return of Ceres to the deserted dwelling of her daughter, more especially, is very beautifully described. Were we not apprehensive that the comparison might appear somewhat far-fetched, we should say, that in this interlacing of gorgeous descriptions and supernatural wonder with scenes of domestic tenderness, the Proserpine reminds us, distantly it is true, of our own Kehama. Of Claudian's language and versification we have spoken elsewhere.
The length to which our observations have extended must preclude us from adding any thing further on this copious subject. We shall therefore take our leave of the reader in the word of the Spanish play, never uttered more earnestly than on the present occasion : “Thus finishes the comedy: excuse the faults of the author.”
ANNALS and ANTIQUITIES of RAJAST"
HAN, or the CENTRAL and WESTERN
anticipating from the splendid work before us an ample fund of entertainment and multifarious instruction, we were fully justified by the perusal of many highly interesting articles on various