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TIE PIRATE.

BY THE AUTILOR OF WAVERLEY.

We trust that we are not deficient in gratitude to the great Scottish novelist for the abundant delight which he ministers to us, even in the lowest of his works ; but we cannot quite join in the shout of boundless exultation, nor subscribe to all the tremendous eulogies, with which some of our contemporaries hail every production of his genius. With some of these it is the mere cant of criticism to suggest that there is any falling off

, or any repetition in his works, and it is an audacious heresy to "hint a fault or hesitate dislike” respecting any of his creations. We are more reasonable, we frankly confess, in our idolatry: though we admire “ The Pirate” it is “ with a difference;" nor are we quite convinced that if none of its predecessors had appeared, it would excite exactly the same sensation which was produced by" Waverley."

Without resorting to the ordinary and shallow theory, that the powers of observation and invention in an original writer are necessarily exhausted by frequent publication, we may, we think, easily perceive why his works should alter for the worse as he proceeds in a rapid career. His first love of the employment grows naturally cold, or degenerates into a mere craving after the excitements of applause, or a desire for the more solid rewards of his labours. His own peculiar feeling—the “ primal sympathy" with his works—wears out as his tact of authorship advances. He writes not to indulge his genius, but to please his booksellers, and to satisfy the expectations of the public. This new inspiration excites him to a different course, and produces more stiffness, more constraint, and more nicely-balanced incident and character, than would be found in the voluntary pouring forth of a free and exuberant mind gliding at“ its own sweet will” through the fair regions of imagination and of humanity which it has chosen.

The peculiar excellences of our author-his power of conceiving and delineating character--his command of descriptive allusion-and the “ mighty magic" of his commune with the wild superstitions of the North—are not of casts likely to endure, through successive works, in their original vigour. In characteristic delineations, the very recollection of previous success is unfavourable to continued excellence. As the author becomes conscious of bis own skill, he unavoidably infuses something of a kindred consciousness into the persons whom he draws. They have less of truth and unaffected nature, and more theatrical pretension, than those which were hit off in the first moments of his inspiration. They become, though it may sound paradoxical, too consistent; that is, they are too perpetually intent on their own peculiarities, and these are obtruded on the notice of the reader far more frequently than are the most characteristic traits of any whom we meet with in actual life. There is also an evident design to fill up and heighten previous sketches; to add the pomp of circumstance to figures which are only encumbered by the apparel, and to push every bint, which has once succeeded, to a dangerous extreme. That which before was made visible by a single glowing flash, is now brought out " into the light of common day,” and we are invited minutely to examine and admire its proportions. As there is more stiffness in individual figures, so there is an elaborate art in the grouping, which destroys the effect of the picture. Each finely elaborated creation revolves in its own separate orbit

instead of joining in the mazy round in linked union. The creatures do not come tumbling into life, fresh from the teeming brain, in glorious confusion, but are coldly arranged in picturesque attitudes. Instead of the perpetual undulation of thought, the gay variety of healthful forms, the perpetual melting of things into each other, all is carefully distinguished and contrasted. We feel no more the careless plenitude, we revel no more in the unbounded prodigality of genius; we have leisure to admire the author, instead of luxuriating delighted in his creations.

The charm also which the Scotch novels derived from allusions to external nature, was peculiarly liable to be dissipated and weakened in their progress. This charm consisted not in the exquisite pictures of extended scenery-not even in the vivid description of particular objects -but in the familiar allusion to the beauties of Nature and to the feelings which they excited, copiously scattered through the busiest and most eventful portions of the history. Mere naked description is comparatively an inferior art, and scarcely ever produces very intense or elevated sensations; but nothing can be more delicious than to feel the influences of the quiet earth and heaven mingling with and tempering more passionate emotions. But as the author proceeds, as he learns more distinctly his own faculties, and as every object in his works assumes more of separate identity, he will naturally elaborate his descriptions as descriptions, and can scarcely recur, even if he would, to the bright throng of intermingled hints, traits, and images, which he poured out from the mere impulse of delighted power.

The supernatural touches of our author would still less bear to be frequently repeated. Nothing, indeed, can more decidedly shew the influence of composition re-acting on the mind of an author, than the circumstance that setting out with a manifest tendency to superstition and an eager love of the marvellous, he has, in the end of this his last work, disappointed all the strange fears which he has excited in its progress, and made his awe-stirring character finally sensible of the vanity of her own pretensions! The undefined feeling of delicious terror—the longing to find in unusual phenomena indications of something more than mortal, will soon wear out in the mind which sets down its sensations in a note-book, and thinks how they can be most artfully disposed to awaken interest in the public. It is very curious and edifying to observe the progress of this alteration in the mind of the author of Waverley. At first his supernatural terrors were interwoven with the very threads of existence. He infused his own spirit into the blood of his enchanted readers. In his works, dim intimations found answering realities; enthusiasm verged on inspiration; and the dreams of fond credulity were scarcely distinguishable from the solemnities of death and life. But his genuine sense of the mysterious soon decayed when it became food for common wonder ; and instead of the marvels told, as it were, under the breath-instead of the fine uncertainty in which we were so tremulously bewildered, we had prodigies which no one could believe for a moment-second-sight clearly developed-visions“ plenty as blackberries”-witches in immediate communication with the evil one- and prophecies fulfilled to the letter. But even the power which sustained these cold fantasies has decayed ; and in" The Pirate" our wonder is excited only to be destroyed by those most barbarous expedients of Mrs. Radeliffe-a knowledge of the weather, promptitude of movement, and an exemplary acquaintance with trapdoors and secret passages!

The work which has prompted these observations has all the merits and defects incidental to a late production of an original writer. It is full of accurate descriptions and well-defined and strikingly-arranged characters, but betrays throughout a consciousness of the peculiar talents which have called it into being. Its plot, though not very satisfactory, has more interest than that of many of its author's romances. We will not attempt to give any analysis of its incidents, which would only fatigue the multitude who have read it, and diminish the curiosity of the few who have still to read it. It is not certainly calculated to satisfy the expectations which its title and motto have excited. When we saw prefixed to it the lines “ Nothing in him but doth suffer a seachange,” we thought that its author was ahout to subdue to his dominion the world of waters—to give a new life to all the appearances of sea and sky-to lull us into delicious dreams on summer seas——to agitate us by hurricanes and shipwrecks—to make us familiar with all the wild superstitions which chill the blood of the long-expectant mariner—to send into the heart the very feeling of sea-dreariness-to give us sea weed and coral for our playthings, and the monsters of the deep for companions. But there is nothing of all this: throughout the three volumes we are never once out of sight of shore. Nor do we find any of those wild darings, those desperate exploits

of the freebooters of the ocean, which we anticipated from its name. The pirate Cleveland is a flinching sentimental person, who does only one thing for which he deserves to be hanged,—when he draws a knife and stabs an unarmed man who is struggling fairly with him—which is not a very heroic crime. All the preparation made for some extraordinary disclosure respecting him ends in nothing. We are led to expect some glowing passion nurtured in the spicy groves of tropical islands—some strange intermingling of bravery, luxury, and crime; but he is merely commonplace, faint-hearted, and repenting.

The love of Minna, the lofty sentimentalist, towards the anomalous Cleveland, is elaborately defended by the author on the principle of contraries. This theory does not shine in the argument, and is falsified by the result of the story. Cleveland's spirit does not “ shine through him" so as to justify the damsel's passion; nor does the discovery of the particulars of his trade seem sufficient to account for her refusal to share his distresses. She loves him as a pirate ; but she has some fine notions of pirates as sea kings, and cannot endure to find them only tolerable, but erring mortals. If the theory were true—if it were natural for the most delicate maidens to be fascinated by outlaws, it would be natural for them to cleave to these objects of their love more strongly in danger, not to forsake them at their utmost need. The pictures of Minna, and her livelier sister Brenda, are drawn with a skill which enables us in our mind's eye to see their diversified loveliness ; in the earlier part of his career our author would have been contented if we felt it. There are one or two scenes between the sisters of exqınsite tenderness, most delicately and beautifully touched, where the alienations which love produces between those who have had but one heart from their childhood, are pourtrayed with the finest feeling and truth.

Magnus Troil, their father, the jovial, stout-hearted Udaller, is excellent in his way ; a perfect pillar of the olden time. The lover of Brenda, Mordaunt Mertoun, is a fine spirited lad, in the opening of the romance; gay, buoyant, full of life and joy; but he subsides into a mere machine towards its close. Triptolemus Yellowley, the classical and speculative farmer, is a mere patchwork part, like some of the characters made up of all oddities and inconsistencies, in the plays of Morton and Reynolds, a sort of lifeless curiosity not worth inspecting. Claud Halcro, the rhymer, who lives upon one glimpse of the "glorious John Dryden,” with his prattle about Russell-street, Covent-garden, is as much out of place amidst pirates and savages as the figure of a courtier in full dress on the wings of cherubim. But the great attempt and failure of the whole is the part of Norna of the Fitful head, who is evidently intended for a sublimated Meg Merrilies. She is unquestionably, in some respects, better furnished with appliances and means; instead of being a wandering gipsy queen, without father, mother, or descent, she is confessedly allied to a noble family; instead of trusting wholly to her enchantments, or to her loftier human energies, she has a large income, which she spends in procuring the appearance of wonders; and, instead of roaming alone over hill and valley, she has a hideous dwarf to do her bidding. But her life has no “ magic in the web of it.” She has not one old affection 'sustaining an exhausted heart--no terrific energies—no deep, lone commune with nature, by which she has learned its mysteries. Her maternal instinct is a cheat, her prophetic power a delusion; she awakes to the melancholy conseiousness that her whole life has been a lie, and becomes soberly sad at last. This is for an author to turn the tables on those whose blood he has made curdle, and whose hair he has made stand on end at these worn-out superstitions with a vengeance !

The work abounds in descriptions of great excellence; but, for the most part, they are little animated with breathing life. There is, indeed, one picture of a whale-fishing, which is an exception to this remark; and reminds us of the most vivid and mighty delineations of our author. We can only make room for its close.

“ Magnus Troil, who had only jested with the factor, and had reserved the launching the first spear against the whale to some much more skilful hand, had just time to exclaim, Mind yourselves, lads, or we are all swamped,' when the monster, roused at once from inactivity by the blow of the factor's missile, blew, with a noise resembling the explosion of a steam-engine, a huge shower of water into the air, and at the same time began to lash the waves with its tail in every direction. The boat in which Magnus presided received the shower of brine which the animal spouted into the air; and the adventurous Triptolemus, who had a full share of the immersion, was so much astonished and terrified by the consequences of his own valorous deed, that he tumbled backwards amongst the feet of the people, who, too busy to attend to bim, were actively engaged in getting the boat into shoal water, out of the whale's reach. Here he lay for some minutes, trampled on by the feet of the boatmen, until they lay on their oars to bale, when the Udaller ordered them to pull to shore, and land this spare hand, who had commenced the fishing so inauspiciously.

“ While this was doing, the other boats had also pulled off to safer distance, and now, from these as well as from the shore, the unfortunate native of the deep was overwhelmed by all kinds of missiles— harpoons and spears flew against him on all sides—guns were fired, and each various means of annoyance plied which could excite him to exhaust his strength in useless rage. When the animal found that he was locked in by shallows on all sides, and became sensible, at the same time, of the strain of the cable on his body, the convulsive efforts which he made to escape, acconipanied with sounds resembling deep and loud groans, would have moved the compassion of all but a practised whale-fisher. The repeated showers which he spouted into the air began now to be mingled with blood, and the waves which surrounded hiin assumed the same crinison appearance. Meantime the attempts of the assailants were redoubled ; but Mordaunt Mertoun and Cleveland, in particular, exerted themselves to the uttermost, contending, who should display most courage in approaching the monster, so tremendous in its agonies, and should inflict the most deep and deadly wound upon its huge bulk.

The contest seemed at last pretty well over : for although the animal continued from time to time to make frantic exertions for liberty, yet its strength appeared so much exhausted, that, even with assistance of the tide, which had now risen considerably, it was thought it could scarce extricate itself.

“ Magnus gave the signal to venture upon the whale more nearly, calling out at the same time, Člose in, lads, she is not half so mad now—Now, Mr. Factor, look for a winter's oil for the two lamps at Harfra—Pull close in, lads.'

“ Ere his orders could be obeyed, the other two boats had anticipated his purpose

and Mordaunt Mertoun, eager to distinguish himself above Cleveland, had, with the whole strength he possessed, plunged a half-pike into the body of the animal. But the leviathan, like a nation whose resources appear totally exhausted by previous losses and calamities, collected his whole remaining force for an effort, which proved at once desperate and successful. The wound last received, had probably reached through his external defences of blubber, and attained some very sensitive part of the system, for he roared aloud, as he sent to the sky a mingled sheet of brine and blood, and snapping the strong cable like a twig, overset Mertoun's boat with a blow of his tail, shot himself by a mighty effort, over the bar, upon which the tide had now risen considerably, and made out to sea, carrying with him a whole grove of the implements which had been planted in his body, and leaving behind him, on the waters, a dark red trace of his course.”

After all,“The Pirate” contains much matter, for which we are thankful. It is good enough to please us if not to reflect honour on its author. Let him then write on ; he will never equal his first works ; but these have rendered it impossible that he should ever be written down--even by his own pen.

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SONNET.
Look where she sits in languid loveliness!

Her feet up-gather'd, and her turban'd brow

Bent o'er her hand, her robe in ample flow
Disparted. Look! in attitude and dress
She sits and seems an Eastern Sultaness !

And music is around her, and the glow

Of young fair faces, and sweet voices go
Forth at her call, and all about her press.

But Sultana she! as in a book
In that fine form and lovely brow we trace

Divinest purity, and the bright look
Of Genius. Much is she inmind and face

Like the fair blossom of some woodland nook,
The wind-flower delicate and full of grace.

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NI.

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