Imágenes de páginas
PDF

him to gain a higher branch. The flood, however, now began to abate. Urtega, in swimming among the thorny boughs, received a wound in his leg, which was never thoroughly healed during the two and twenty years that he survived this dreadful adventure.” Of the government established by the Jesuits, and the discipline imposed on the Indians, Mr. Southey has furnished a copious, and we believe a faithful, statement: it was obviously calculated to preserve them in a state of ignorance and subordination. To arrest the passions was the great object of their spiritual governors: early marriages were universal, but the change of state produced no accession of care. “An Indian of the Reductions never knew, during his whole progress from the cradle to the grave, what it was to take thought for the morrow: all his duties were comprized in obedience. The strictest discipline soon becomes tolerable when it is certain and immutable;—that of the Jesuits extended to every thing, but it was neither capricious nor oppressive. The children were considered as belonging to the community; they lived with their parents, that the course of natural affection might not be interrupted ; but their education was a public duty. Early in the morning the bell summoned them to church, where having prayed and been examined in the catechism, they heard mass; their breakfast was then given them at the Rector's from the public stores; after which they were led by an elder, who acted both as overseer and censor, to their daily occupations. From the earliest age i. sexes were separated; they did not even enter the church by the same door, nor did woman or girl ever set foot within the Jesuit's house. The business of the young girls was to gather the cotton, and drive away birds from the field. The boys were employed in weeding, keeping the roads, in order, and other tasks suited to their strength.” “Those children who by the manner in which they repeated inorning and evening their prayers and catechism, were thought to give promise of a good voice, were instructed in reading, writing, and music, and made choristers; there were usually about thirty in a Reduction: this was an honour which l'arents greatly coveted for their chilsiren. Except these choristers, only those children were taught to read and

write who were designed for public officers, servants of the church, or for medical practice; and they were principally chosen from the families of the Ca. ciques and chief persons of the town, —for amid this perfect equality of goods, there was an inequality of rank, as well as office. The Cacique retained his title, and some appearance of distinction, and was exempt from tribute” “Equal care was taken to employ and to amuse the people; and for the latter purpose, a religion which consisted so much of externals afforded excellent means. It was soon discovered that the Indians possessed a remarkable aptitude for music.” “Having also, like the Chinese, an admirable ingenuity in imitating whatever was laid before them, they made all kinds of musical instruments: the lute, #. harp, violin, violincello, saekut, cornet, oboe, spinette, and organ, were found among them; and the choral part of the church service excited the admiration and astonishment of all Europeans who visited the Reductions. “In dancing, according te the ordinary manner, the Jesuits saw as many dangers as the old Albigenses, or the Quakers in later times; and like them, perhaps, believed that the paces of a promiscuous dance were so many steps toward Hell. But they knew ibat to this also the Indians had a strong propensity, and therefore they made dancing a part of all their religious festivities. Boys and youths were the performers; the grown men and all the females assisted only as spectators, apart from each other the great square was the place, and the Rector and his Coadjutor were seated in the churchporch to preside at the solemnity. The performances were dramatic figuredances, for which the Catholic mythology furnished subjects in abundance. Sometimes they were in honour of the Virgin, whose slags aud banners were then brought forth ; each of the dancers, bore a letter of her name upon a shield, and in the evolutions of the dance the whole were brought together and displayed in their just order: at intervals they stopt before her inage, and bowed their heads to the ground. Sometimes they represented a battle between Christians and Moors, always to the proper discomfiture of the Misbelievers. The Three Kings of the East formed the subject of another favourite pageant; the Nativity of another; but that which perhaps gave most delight was the battle between Michael and the Dragon, with all his imps. These stories were sometimes represented in the form of sutos, or Sacred Plays (like the mysteries of our ancient drama), in which no female actors were admitted.” “One great festival in every Reduction was the day of its tutelar saint, when the boys represented religious dramas; the inhabitants of the nearest Reductions were invited, and by means of these visits a chearful and friendly intercourse was maintained. But here, as in most other Catholic countries, the most splendid spectacle was that which, in the naked monstrosity of Romish superstition, is called the Procession of the Body of God! On this day the houses were hung with the best productions of the Guarani loom, interspersed with rich feather-works, garlands, and festoons of flowers. The whole line of the procession was covered with mats, and strewn with flowers and fragrant herbs. Arches were erected of branches wreathed with flowers, and birds were fastened to them by strings of such length as allowed them to fly from bough to bough, and display a plumage more gorgeous than the richest produce of the vegetable world. Wild beasts were secured beside the way, and la vessels of water placed at intervals, in which there were the finest fish, that all creatures might thus by their representatives render homage to the present Creator . The game which had been killed for the feast made a part of the spectacle Seed reserved for the next sowing was brought forth to receive a blessing, and the first fruits of the harvest as an offering. . The flourand-water object of Romish idolatry went first, under a canopy, which was borne by the Cacique and the chief magistrates of the town ; the royal standard came next : then followed the male inhabitants in military array, horse and foot, with their banners. There was an altar at the head of every street; the sacrament stopped at each, while a mettetto, or anthem, was sung and the howling of the beasts assorted strangely with these strains, and with the chaunting of the choristers.” “Man may be made either the tamest or the most ferocious of animals. The Jesuits' discipline, beginning with birth and ending only with death, ensured that implicit obedience which is the first duty of Mouachism, and was the great

object of their legislation. Beside the overseers who inspected the work of the Indians, there were others who acted as inspectors of their moral conduct, and when they discovered any misdemeanor, clapped upon the offender a penitential dress, and led him first to the church to make his confession in public; and then into the square to be publicly beaten. It is said that these castigations were always received without a murmur, and even as an act of grace,—so completely were they taught to lick the hand which chastised and fed them. The children were classed according to their ages, and every class had its inspectors, whose especial business it was to watch over their behaviour; some of these censors stood always behind them at church with rods, by help of which they maintained strict silence and decorum. This system succeeded in effectually breaking down the spirit. Adults, who had eluded the constant superintendance of their inspectors, would voluntarily accuse themselves, and ask for the punishment which they had merited; but by a wise precaution they were not allowed to do this in public till they had obtained permission, and that permission was seldom accorded to the weaker sex. They would often enquire of the priest if what they had done were or were not a sin ; the same system which rendered their understanding torpid, producing a diseased irritability of conscience, if that may be called conscience which was busied with the merest trifles, and reposed implicitly upon the priest. In consequence of their utter ignorance of true morality, and this extreme scrupulosity, one of their confessions occupied as much time as that of ten or twelve Spaniards. The Pope, in condescension to their weakness, indulged them with a jubilee every year; and on these occasions the Missionaries of the nearest Reductions went to assist each other. The Jesuits boast, that years would sometimes pass away without the commission of a single deadly sin, and that it was even rare to hear a confession which made absolution necessary.” -

Evening Hours ; a Collection of Original Poems. 1817. pp. 128.

It is truly a source of self-gratulation to all those doomed to exereise their talents in the “art and mystery” of analysing the various merits and demerits of our no less various authors, when the tedium of this professional investigation is relieved by any amusement or instruction derived from the works over which they sit in judgment. Happily for our patience, this has been partly our good fortune with the present volume ; and though we cannot conscientiously offer unreserved praise, its anonymous author will, we hope, not be entirely dissatisfied with our critical award, which, we can assure him, shall be impartial. brilliant, and his departure was a subject of general regret. He has left lights behind him, but we cannot expect soon to witness the rising of such another sun. Never did the moral dignity, and the classical refinement of the British stage, meet with a more active advocate, or a more industrious contributor, Never were the capacity and the character of an actor in his profession, and in private life, more respected and esteemed,—and never was there such a meeting of the noble and the learned to do honour to a professor of the histrionic art upon a similar occasion. Thanks, however, to the commercial genius of our ever happy, if industrious, island, the various businesses of men made the honour calm compared with that ecstatic ferment into which Athens would have been thrown;—Idleness and pleasure and profligacy we trust, alihough, they had well uigh got hold of us in the exhibitions of the Parks, are still too far from us to create a contempt of national sobriety, dignity, and truth, in honour of any individual, or in celebration of any occurrence. Exaggeration is the very spirit of public *::::: and applause. When the multitude are of one mind and one purpose, the cataract of Enthusiasm, out of whose mouth issues no reasonable thing, has neither round, check, nor opposition : it inundates the temple of Truih in its career; nor, till the torrent has subsided, can the goddess enter into her sanctuary—or give voice to the trumpet of Fame, or open the coffers of rational reward. Here, were we to moralize, we might observe how admirable is the decree of Providence in causing a diversity of opinions among men in matters of no needful moment, the enthusiasm of imagination is weakened, and the ecstasy of madness prevented by perpetual opposition and controversy ; while in the commandments of the law the consciences of men remain the same, —and for enthusiasm in the fulfilment of those commandments, man will not stand accused. Where men differ in opinion, there is no need of conformity—all intolerance or persecution for mere opinion's sake is wrong—but where men have been agreed throughout all ages, their knowledge must be the suggestions of truth–and happiness would dwell in us with truth, were it not for the contradiction of our con

Had we been honoured with a previous consultation, our advice would unquestionably have been, not to publish : for though youth is to be admitted as an apology for many inaccuracies, and imperfections, yet it is certainly no excuse for their exposure : and here, though mingled with many beauties, are also far too many instances of confusion, negligence, and defect, to meet the public eye. . The irregular odes are irregular beyond precedent (so far they correspond with their distinction, and deserve their name), while the Prosopopaeia is introduced to the fullest extent of the licentia poetica, giving to nothing, as well as to every thing, “a local habitation and a name.” In evidence of our not wilfully misstating facts, we quote at random from a poem on “Genius,” where we are informed,

“Some fiend pourtrays the maddening start, The pain, the agony of heart, When Chatterton absorb’d the poison'd bowls I see;—I see his frantic gazelThe lightning of his eye decays, And one convulsive pang, -one struggle yields his soul.” Page 26:

Of Chatterton's suicide we have repeatedly heard, and as repeatedly deplored his unhappy fate; but until now, we knew not the extent of his sufferings, we knew not, that he swallowed the bowl as well as the poison 1 An inference, which though here positive from the passage transcribed, a very trifling correction would have avoided or removed. An affectation of simplicity, verging on silliness, is another error, for which, however, youth offers a more reasonable apology than for the former, though the refinement of our poetic taste, by the illustrious School of our living Bards of Britain,

must forbid us to allow even toleration to the following specimens — “But, oh!, it was not, Genius never gave Her Bard, the stripling to the gloomy grave. He died, But poverty and pride Had blasted to the core; And hate, Revengeful and elate, With madness stung him sore.” Page 27. * - - - - - + “And now another minstrel strikes His high toned lyre to heavenly strain; Stealing, stealing, Melting, melting, How the sound Floats around ! Quivering in air the cadence dies, now swells again " Page 30. Our readers will, we think, never guess, that the gentleman here represented as exercising the joint professions of a pickpocket and a tallowchandler, by “stealing” and “melting,” is our immortal Bard, Milton 1 though both these extracts are exceeded in ludicrous effect, by our author's address to his “Lyre " where that untoward piece of a poet's furniture is represented as heeding the influence of neither “Sun,” nor “Moon,” but,

“Careless it hangs; "No pleasing note Flies from the strings in air to float; No willing wire Attentive hangs, or heeds my ire, Or, hears my pangs!” Page 59.

More might produce satiety, and we therefore gladly pass on to another part of our subject. The sentiments of the several sonnets are truly poetical, though their expression is very seldom meiodious; indeed, after all our painfully reiterated attempts to read, or to comprehend, the following passage, we have been reluctantly compelled to desist from the endeavour, almost without a hope of our readers being more fortunate than ourselves.

“Great Russell, victim of a venal rage —

Thy name revolving with each future age, Shall be the pole-star of sublimity, And the politic mariner from far Shall hail it as the Magi did their star!”

Page 128.

[blocks in formation]

And gladly would we make reply; yet, alas ! though our Bard has here furnished us with such very apposite language for asking the question, he leaves it, like the author of Junius, to descend to oblivion a secret unrevealed !

It has been hitherto our ungracious task to notice this volume only by its defects; but we now turn with infinitely more complacency to introduce its beauties; and we trust the author will feel no disposition to doubt the sincerity of our praises, because our censures may have appeared harsh, and our criticisms severe. He will remember, that

“Praise undeserved is censure in disguise;” and, that

“Skilful surgeons cut beyond the wound, To make the cure complete.”

Many of the pieces display very considerable poetical talent, aided by general harmony of numbers, and tolerable correctness of versification. Where the metre is regular, he has proved of what his powers are capable, when adhering to the primary rules of composition, and the legitimate principles of poesy. Those pieces which deviate from these principles, are indeed singular; so much so, that we are convinced they never can become plural by imitation, and we have uo doubt that his porte feuille contains many poems infinitely superior to most in this collection.—“Abelard to Eloise” deserves much commendation for its imagery, its pathos, and its delicacy, though alloyed by several passages which disgrace their company. There are, besides this, two or three others, which give fair promise of future excellence, when matured by age and experience, of which, indeed, we should entertain no doubt, was his exuberance of fancy more beneath controul, or his powers under the guidance of a judgment more corrected and more cool. We wish not to dissuade him either from writing, or from publishing, for we think he possesses abilities sufficient for both; but we would recommend most earnestly his profiting | that advice upon these subjects, which he had doubtless very many literary friends well qualified to give. Our previous quotations having substantiated the justice of our unwelcome censures, we feel equally certain, that the subjoined extract will fully justify our warmth of praise and descryed cncomiums. .

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

. to our consciousness of what is right. *: mean not by these observations to insinuate that Mr. Kemble has been too highly honoured—we would only infer, that we must not suffer our devotion to the liberal arts to supplant our duty towards the interests | trade—We must not wander so far into the fields of luxury and refinement, — which are at the very edge of the precipice, and upon the very borders of destruction, —as to remember, patronize, and honour, those things only, which are a pleasure and a recreation to us, neglecting our co-operation in, and our encouragement and support of the more hum: ble and more general labours which de. tain men from those weaknesses and vices whose termination is the destruction of states. The natural qualifications and the attainable requisites of an actor, together with the power of theatrical representa. tions upon the principles of a people, are such, that the profession ought to be divested of that sicentious and Epicurean garb, in which, by popular prejudice, it has so long been invested. Nothing could have tended so much to effect this, and to inspire in the mind of every actor a suitable self-respect, as the nature of the compliment which Mr. Kemble received at the close of his theatrical career; the particulars of which have already been before our readers. Well!—but what has all this to do with Mr. Kemble's Essay We must confess—little ; but if it have anything to do with man, we trust it will be accepted as over and above the promise: it is, however, so far connected with our present subject, as the name of Mr. Kemble is connected with his recent retirement from the stage. The publication of his Essay, particularly at such a crisis, could not fail to excite a considerable degree of interest and curiosity. The characters of Shakspeare, however familiar, continue objects of curious research and edifying contemplation,-and notwithstanding the number of our commentators, the labours of this peculiar criticism will increase till the works of Shakspeare shall be no more. The object of this volume is to shew, in opposition to Mr. Whateley, and to Steevens, who has followed on his side, “ that Macbeth has a just *

« AnteriorContinuar »