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ON THE MODERN POETS.-WALTER SCOTT.
To the Editor of the Literary Gazette. | NOW come to the consideration of efforts, struck the agreeable despot from 1 Mr. Scott's works. These were the his throne. To quartos of lightness, leaders in that deteriorated style of poetry, bave succeeded pamphlets of sublimity ; which has driven back our language to and the Lay of the last Minstrel, (literally all its primitive impurities, and has given speaking) has outdone, in public estimaus a species of non-descript tale, appa- tion, the lay which goes by that name. rently epic, but in reality a medley par. But how could Mr. Scott espect pertaking of the old ballad and the modern petual patronage, since caprice and prenovel. The genius of its inventor, and judice had already gone so far as to exthe novelty of the design itself, brought communicate even a Pope and a Dryden? quartos of jingle into infinite request; And what better can Lord Byron himself the prose romance was abandoned, the expect, whenever some other poet, with Minerva press outwitted, and all ran to a complete new set of graces, shall make purchase those huge charming volumes, his appearance? The fact is this. The which contained cantos instead of chap- public may veer, and the censor may ters. All this went on extremely well, rail, and the writer may suffer ; but true for a time. No age was so great as the genius will rise triumphant from its fall present, and Mr. Scott tinkled to the at last. Even its own errors affect, in a tune of thousands per tome. But novelty, very slight degree, its ultimate fate. as its name evinces, is very short-lived, Though weeds are sometimes twisted and capricious taste, that first stands among its laurels, it still continues to forth its protector, ultimately becomes shoot forth its immortal rays from beits murderer. On a sudden, there arose neath them. in the opposite quarter of the heavens, Certainly, there have seldom been two another luminary, who, for his hour, was cotemporary poets, whose leading charLord of the ascendant. Deep, intense, acteristics are so dissimilar as those of metaphysical, and unaccommodating, he Mr. Scott and Lord Byron. Ease, grace, opposed profundity to prattle, and taught a perpetual flow, and an unfailing vivacithe torrent of his eloquence to roar down ty, distinguishes the former. Hardness, the purliog of the rival streams. With inflexible force, abrupt and short sentenequal, though not always similar blem- ces, and an almost updeviating gloomiishes, he displayed energies which his ness, are the attributes of the latter. The precursor could not; and in fine, by a one is sometimes feeble, in consequence few gloomy, misanthropical, gigantic of redundancy: the other is often ob
2Y ATHEREUM. Vol. 2
scure, in consequence of compression. tameter, while Lord Byron wields it, We quote a passuge from the one, and a when he pleases, with a most masterly line from the other;—the passage, for its hand. beautiful thought, elegantly, though per- I have thus endeavoured to compare haps needlessly, protracted—the line, for these emiðent poets, and to show, that its strong meaning, tersely, though per- each has his own peculiar excellencies. haps uncouthly, ex ressed. The one Their errors are mutual, so far as regards excels in delineating external pature; the the prevailing pedantries and affectations: other in laying bare, as he himself ex- and it must be confessed, that both of presses it, “ that living sepulchre, the na- them have done much injury to the pubked heart.” In the one, we have various lic taste. In casting off the trammels of characters, sketches with a rapid pencil, Italian concetti and French tameness, and brought out dramatically. In the they have rioted in their new-found libother, we have but few; and the pecu- erty, till it has degenerated into licenliar traits of these few, are detailed to us tiousness. Mr. Scott is, however, the with such curious minuteness, that their older and the greater offender : and he subsequent actions become, not so much is at this moment, learning, by the revulthe means by which we are made ac- sion of that public taste, which he had quainted with those traits, as the proofs himself excited and upbeld, the disagreeby which we may substantiate the accu- able, but I trust, salutary lesson, that no racy of our previous information respect- poetry will long retain its ascendancy in ing them. The poetry of Mr. Scott is popular favour, unless it be written in the much more mellifluous than that of Lord dialect of the times, and with all the puByron, and has not so many loose and rity which an improved language will weak lines; but it is somewhat strange, permit. that he does not at all succeed in the pen
SOUTHEY'S HISTORY OF BRAZIL.
From the European Magazine, THE HISTORY OF BRAZIL. PART II. BY ROBERT SOUTNEY. [To those who are acquainted with the former part of marching mid-deep in water: but the
this Work, it will scarcely be necessary to observe, flood continued to rise, and compelled that it affords a fund of information and entertainment. The historical facts are well connected, and the dryness of historical detail is relieved not only by som
by storm increased, the rain continued, and curious anecdotes and biographical sketches, but by the ivundation augmented ; and among those minute and picturesque descriptions in which the beasts and reptiles whom the waters Mr. Southey is confessedly pre-eminent.
had surprized, oje of the buge American The most interesting part of the Work relates to the wo
serpents approached the tree upon which progress of the Jesuits in South America, from their first adventurous achievements, as itinerant mission
Ortega and bis catechist bad taken re. aries, to the final establishment of a well-organized fuge, and coiling round one of the bransystem of Theocracy.
ches, began to ascend, while they fully The history of one of their perilous pilgrimages is expected to be devoured, having neither given by Mr. Southey with his usual vivacity of de- means of escape pior of defence: the scription.]
branch by which he sought to lift himself RTEGA and Filds continued many broke under his weight, and the monster
years in Guayra, itinerating among swam off. But though they were thus the savages. In one of these excursions delivered from this danger, their situation the former was caught by a sudden was truly dreadful: iwo days passed, flood between two rivers; both over, and in the middle of the second night flowed, and presently the whole plain one of the Indians came swimming 10had the appearance of one boundless wards the tree by the lightning's light, lake. The missionary and the party of and called to Ortega, telling bim that six Neophytes who accompanied bin were of his companions were at the point of used to inconveniences of this kind, and death; they who had not yet been bap. thought to escape, as heretofore, with tized intreated him to baptize them, and
VOL. 2.] Southey's History—Jesuit Discipline in Brazil. 363 those who had received that sacrament The business of the young girls was to requested absolution ere they died. The gather the cotton, and drive away birds Jesuit fastened his catechist to the bough from the field. The boys were employby which he held, then let himself down ed in weeding, keeping the roads in order, into the water, and swam to perform and other tasks suited to their strength. these offices; he had scarcely completed Those children who by the manner them before five of these poor people in which they repeated morning and dropt and sunk: and when he got back evening their prayers and catechism, to his own tree the water had reached were thought to give promise of a good the neck of his catechist, whom he had voice, were instructed in reading, writnow to untie, and help him to gain a ing, and music, and made choristers; higher branch. The food, however, there were usually about thirty in å now began to abate. · Ortega, in swim- Reduction : this was an honour which ming among the thorny boughs, received parents greatly coveted for their children. a wound in his leg, which was never Except these choristers, only those thoroughly healed during the two and children were taught to read and write twenty years that he survived this dread. who were designed for public officers, ful adventure.
servants of the church, or for medical [Of the government established by the
practice; and they were principally
chosen from the families of the Caciques Jesuits, and the discipline imposed on
on and chief persons of the town,--for amid the Indians, Mr. Southey has furnished
this perfect equality of goods, there was a copious, and we believe a faithful, statement; it was obviously calculated to
an inequality of raok, as well as office.
The Cacique retained his title, and some preserve them in a state of ignorance
ce appearance of distioction, and was exand subordination. To arrest the pas
empirom tribute. sions was the great object of their spi
Equal care was taken to employ and ritual governours; early marriages were
to amuse the people; and for the latter universal, but the change of state produced no accession of care.]
purpose, a religion which consisted so
much of externals afforded excellent An Indian of the Reductions never means. It was soon discovered that the knew, during his whole progress from Indians possessed a remarkable aptitude the cradle to the grave, what it was to for music, take thought for the morrow: all his Having also, like the Chinese, an duties were comprized in obedience. admirable ingenuity in imitating whatThe strictest discipline soon becomes ever was laid before them, they made all tolerable when it is certain and immuta- kinds of musical instruments : the lute, ble ;-that of the Jesuits extended to guitarre, harp, violin, violiucello, sackevery thing, but it was neither capricious but, cornet, oboe, spinette, and organ, nor oppressive. The children were were found among them; and the choconsidered as belonging to the commu- ral part of the church service excited the nity; they lived with their parents, that admiration and astonishment of all Euthe course of natural affection might not ropeons who visited the Reductions. be interrupted; but their education was In dancing, according to the ordinary a public duty. Early in the morning manner, the Jesuits saw as many dangers the bell summoned them to church, as the old Albigenses, or the Quakers in where, having prayed and been examined latter times; and like them, perhaps, in the catechism, ihey heard mass; their believed that the paces of a promiscuous breakfast was then given them at the dance were so many steps toward Hell. Rector's from the public stores; after But they knew that to this also the which they were led by an elder, who Indians had a strong propensity, and : acted both as overseer and censor, to therefore they made dancing a part of all their daily occupations. From the their religious festivities. Boys and earliest age the sexes were separated; youths were the performers; the grown they did not even enter the church by men and all the females assisted only as the same door, nor did woman or girl spectators, apart from each other; the ever set foot within the Jesuit's house. great square was the place, and the Rec
tor and his Coadjutor were seated in the killed for the feast made a part of the church-porch to preside at the solemnity. spectacle. Seed reserved for the next The performances were dramatic figure. sowing was brought forth to receive a dances, for which the Catholic mythology blessing, and the first fruits of the harvest furnished subjects in abundance. Some- as an offering. The flour-and-water times they were in honour of the Virgin, object of Romish idolatry went first, whose flags and banners were then under a canopy, which was borne by the brought forth; each of the dancers bore Cacique and the chief magistrates of the a letter of her name upon a shield, and town: the royal standard came next: in the evolutions of the dance the whole then followed the male inhabitants in were brought together and displayed in military array, horse and foot, with their their just order: at intervals they stopt banners. There was an altar at the head before her image, and bowed their heads of every street; the sacrament stopped to the ground. Sometimes they repre- at each, while a mottetto, or anthem, sented a battle between Christians and was sung; and the howling of the beasts Moors, always to the proper discomfiture assorted strangely with these straios, and of the Misbelievers. The Three Kings with the chaunting of the choristers. of the East formed the subject of another Man may be made either the tamest favourite pageant; the Nativity of or the most ferocious of animals. The another ; but that which perhaps gave Jesuits' discipline, beginning with birth most delight was the battle between and ending only with death, ensured Michael and the Dragon, with all his that implicit obedience which is the first imps. These stories were sometimes duty of Monachism, and was the great represented in the form of Aulos, or object of their legislation. Beside the Sacred Plays (like the mysteries of our overseers who inspected the work of ancient drama), in which no female the Indians, there were others who actactors were admitted.
ed as inspectors of their moral conduct, One great festival in every Reduction and when they discovered any misdewas the day of its tutelar saint, when the meanor, clapped upon the offender a boys represented religious dramas ; the penitential dress, and led him first to inhabitants of the nearest Reductions the church to make bis confession in were invited, and by means of these public, and then into the square to be visits a cheerful and friendly intercourse publicly beaten. It is said that these was maintained. But here, as in most castigations were always received without other Catholic countries, the most splen- a murmur, and even as an act of grace, did spectacle was that which, in the —50 completely were they taught to naked monstrosity of Romish superstition, lick the hand which chastised and fed is called the Procession of the Body of them. The children were classed accorGod! On this day the houses were hung ding to their ages, and every class bad with the best productions of the Guarani its inspectors, whose especial business it loom, interspersed with rich feather- was to watch over their behaviour ; works, garlands, and festoons of flowers. some of these censors stood always beThe whole line of the procession was hind them at church with rods, by help covered with mats, and strewn with of wbich they maintained strict silence flowers and fragrant herbs. Arches were and decorum. This system succeeded erected of branches wreathed with in effectually breaking own the spirit. flowers, and birds were fastened to them Adults, who had eluded the constant by strings of such length as allowed them superintendance of their inspectors, to fly from bough to bough, and display would voluntarily accuse themselves, and a plumage more gorgeous than the richest ask for the punishment which they had produce of the vegetable world. Wild merited ; but by a wise precaution they beasts were secured beside the way, and were not allowed to do this in public till large vessels of water placed at intervals, they had obtained permission, and that in which there were the finest fish, that permission was seldom accorded to the all creatures might thus by their repre- weaker sex. They would often enquire sentatives render homage to the present of the priest if what they had done were Creator! The game which had been or were not a sin ; the same system
which rendered their understanding tor. Pope, in condescension to their weakpid, producing a diseased irritability of ness, indulged them with a jubilee every conscience, if that may be called con- year, and on these occasions the Misscience which was busied with the sionaries of the nearest Reductions went merest trifles, and reposed implicitly to assist each other. The Jesuits boast, upon the priest. In consequence of that years would sometimes pass away their utter ignorance of true morality, without the cominission of a single and this extreme scrupulosity, ove of deadly sin, and that it was even rare to their confessions occupied as much time hear à confession wbich made absolution as that of ten or twelve Spaniards. The necessary.
From the European Magazine, September 1817,
SIXTH LETTER FROM A FATHER TO HIS SON. My dear G
allow, for argument's sake, that he who, BEGIN to think that I have under- frequents the theatres may take upon
taken a task of po easy accoinplish- himself to quote in his own favour that ment, in attempting to reason down in half of the line-- Miscuit utile dulciyour mind the attachment which you vet I think, he cannot fairly do this unless indulge for theatrical ainusements--I the former half be the fact. - Omne will, however, suppose, that as far as I tulit punctum.”—You see I am willing bave gone in exposing that abuse of to indulge your taste by quoting the them into which many of your com- motto upon many a playhouse proscenium. peers have so rashly plunged, to the But for the life of me, G- , I cannot disgrace of their heads and the degra- see where the utile is to be found in dation of their hearts, I have succeeded throwing away five hours together upon in convincing you of its vulgarity and an insipid spectacle, or still more insipid folly :--But it is to be remembered by comedy or modern tragedy, spun out to you, that I placed the reasonableness five formidable acts of love, madness, of your amusive relaxations upon the murder, and suicide, fraught with all wise appropriation of your time.- We their most guilty combinations of crime will set out then, G- , in my present and evasion, from among which not a letter, with something like a compting- single passage can be extracted that is house estimate of profit and loss, and worth the slightest exertion ofthe memory, will strike the balance between the profit or that, when recollected, improves either gained by giving-up five hours out of the understanding or the heart.--- It is the twenty-four to a theatrical represen- certainly, my dear G- , a most imtation, and the loss incurred by withdraw- portant point gained, when our pleaures ing so large a proportion of the natural are of such a description as to blend day from the cultivation of your mind themselves with our intellectual progress. by the acquirement of useful knowledge. Something like this has been urged by You will observe, I have applied the those who are attached to theatrical enepithet useful, in this instance, to knowl- tertainment--but it is probable that the edge, in contradistinction to that which plea is made more from an anxiety to you may expect to reap, at a theatre. find an excuse for a favourite amusement Here, perhaps, you will interrupt me, by immoderately indulged in, than with the reminding me, that my topic was amuse- consciousness of the gain being greater ment; and you will tell me, that you than the loss for they who frequent the do not look for useful knowledge in your theatre, must feel that much time is amusive pursuits.
wasted which might be more eligibly I must conclude, then, that there is employed, and I should suspect them of no improvement in such pursuits ; and doing it more to gratify a vacant mind if so, I must insist upon it that they had than to turn a vacant hour to the best better be let alone. However, I will account; indeed, I have seldoni met any