« VorigeDoorgaan »
his choice of title, his choice of subjects, ling upon the tomb of a dead hero may and his choice of metres. With this last both see more, and see what he sees more however I have no wish here to concern truly, than beholders can to whom the myself; and indeed it would be venture- past is dead, or than the buried hero's some to argue with the master of so many contemporaries could, to whom the signif. stanza-forms, none of which (I may say in icance of his deeds could be but darkly passing) he seems to me to employ more visible. musically than that of the touching poem
This is the poet's right! " A Crusader's Tomb." One who is both He looks with larger sight artist and critic like Mr. Palgrave was Than they who hedge their view by present unlikely to fall into the cardinal error of things, confounding historical poetry with poeti- The small, parochial world cal history, or in other words to let his Of sight and touch: and what he sees, he historical opinions - which are often so
sings. decided that they might almost be called The epithet “parochial” has a Beaconshistorical principles — dictate either the field sound, if not a Beaconsfield origin; choice or the treatment of his themes. but the sentiment of the stanza recalls “ Poetry, not History." as he very plainly Spenser's lines, to which it is of course expresses it, “ has been my first and last only on the first glance contradictory, aim ; or, perhaps I might define it, History for Poetry's sake.” Buť he has at the Why then should witlesse man so much mis. same time striven, as was not only natural That nothing is but that which he hath seene ?
weene, in his father's son, but perfectly compati. ble with the chief or artistic aim of his
Nothing could be more out of place book, " to keep throughout as closely to than for me to enter here upon a discusabsolute historical truth in the design and sion of the estimates formed by Mr. Palcoloring of the pieces as the exigencies of grave of the historical authorities upon poetry permit.” As the poems in this whom he principally relies. Among these volume are lyrical, its several parts have it is not only piety which places Sir Franno outward or necessary connection with cis Palgrave and Hallam in the front one another; and the author was able to rank. The former of these was a histochoose at his own will such characters rian to whose mind not only such an event and scenes in the national loistory as as the battle of Hastings, but even so might appear to him“ leading" or "typi- pragmatical a transaction as the compila. cal.” The vagueness of the latter term is tion of Domesday Book at once transconvenient; but whatever may be thought lated itself into a vivid piciure of the selection actually made, the princi- plete section, as the botanists say, of the ple on which it has proceeded is obvious. nation's historic life. Hallam's reputation The difficulty lay in the insusion of that for impartial wisdom, which survived the element which may be called the dramatic, piteous groans of Southey, will likewise, and which justifies the title given by Mr. unless we mistake, survive certain more Palgrave to bis book. Each poem form- recent cavils; in Mr. Palgrave he has an ing part of it is described as a “Vision of enthusiastic adınirer, indeed.one enthusiEngland,” and is therefore to carry back astic enough to quote him out of as well the reader into “the atmosphere of the as in season. (Hallam's admission that age" of which it treats. But while dra. during the eleven years of non-Parliamen. matically reproducing the spirit of so tary government, England “had grown many generations in connection with some into remarkable prosperity and atiluence," of their chief events and figures, Mr. Pal. hardly supports the enthusiastic“ Vision” grave bas wished at the same time, ac. of the time cording to the best of his ability, " to set When the kingdom had wealth and peace, forth each scene or character in its essen
one smile o'er the face of the land, tial ” historical “ truth.” His “Visions" are to be, not the delusive phantoms con- if taken in conjunction with Hallam's fur. jured up by the Geisterscher, who knows ther observation that“ it would have been very well what spirits he and his patrons an excess of loyal stupidity in the nation wish to see, but the revelations granted to to have attributed their riches to the wis. the “prophet looking back” the stu. dom or virtue of the court, which had dent to whom “the research and genius” injured the freedom of trade by monopof the best historians have furnished the olies and arbitrary proclamations, and means of which he makes conscientious driven away industrious manufacturers by
In this sense the patriotic poet gaz- persecution.”) Altogether, I am by no
- a com
meaos sure that as to the revolutionary | Royal with Nature's royalty inborn, period Mr. Palgrave does not ride rather And English to the very heart of heart ! too daringly on the wave of reaction with the strength of which Professors Gar
But the “ Visions ” lose nothing of their diner and Seeley have something to do;
vividness as they come to occupy them. but this is of course a matter of Opinion! selves with the Norman and Plantagenet On the other hand I rejoice that he should times; and in grandeur of conception have given so much attention to Ranke, there is certainly nothing in the volume and should have said of him what, in En
that surpasses the fine poem entitled gland at least, has never been so well said the date is fixed in 1295, the real birth
“The Rejoicing of the Land,” of which before, that to him we owe the only parrative of the Civil War period in which year of our Parliamentary institutions “as history is treated historically, that is representing at once the culminating point without judging of the events by the light ism in England.” Here the poet, like
in the reign of Edward, and of mediæval. either of their remote results, or of modern political party.” I pass by Mr. Pal. Gray's bard, ranges at will through the grave's references to his other chief history of the nation, contrasting tyranny authorities, except to note the generous beautiful picture of the prosperity and
with tyranny, and ending his strain with a spirit - generous to Ireland as well as to her distinguished historian – in which he piety which consort so well with an era of appeals to Mr. Lecky's truly "invaluable peace. It is a poetic picture correspondchapters” on Irish history, and to recall ing to those of which the eminent Ger. his frequent use of our most recent his man historian of England, who has lately torical classic, Mr. J. R. Green.
The passed away, loved to sketch the outlines extraordinary richness of Mr. Green's in prose. I have not noticed any resernarrative, which we teachers sometimes ence in Mr. Palgrave's notes to Pauli, find overflowing the vessels into whose whose premature death has cut short at so emptiness it has been poured, is best at- early a point as the beginning of the Tutested by the wealth of ideas as well as
dor period a noble historical narrative pictures which it suggests to a fertile which is still unfortunately a closed book mind like that of the author of the “ Vis. to too many Englishmen. ions."
Over the Tudor period Mr. Palgrave Mr. Palgrave's own choice of subjects
himself certainly does not seem to linger and method of treatment are nearly always
with any pronounced predilection. His full of interest, and at times singularly heart goes up to the Oxford reformers as striking. As to the former, hereditary
the earliest representatives of what was tastes perhaps help to attract him more
most enduring in the influences of the especially to the earlier periods of our
English Renascence; and it it satisfachistory ; but every true poet is a child of tory to find him recognizing in the noblest his times, and it is not in vain that Mr. of these scholars, Sir Thomas More, the Freeman's great histories, as well as his purest figure of a turbid age:occasional utterances, have appealed to Blest soul, who through life's course the nationality principle which dominates Didst keep the young child's heart unstain'd the political life of our age. The "true- and whole, born Englishman” of the present day To find again the cradle at the goal, can at the most glory in a “race, of many Like some fair stream returning to its source ; races well-compact; " but his sympathy Il fall’n on days of falsehood, greed and force ! is strongest with those figures and deeds Base days, that win the plaudits of the base,
Writ to their own disgrace, which seem most purely English.
With casuist sneer o'erglossing works of blood, Harold was England : and Harold lies here, Miscalling evil, good; are the closing words of Mr. Palgrave's Grovelling in shameful worship unashamed.
Before some despot-hero falsely named spirited ballad of Hastings fight; and with a sure instinct he celebrates as the very The extremes of Edward and Mary are flower of our national heroism that “dar- | alike virtually passed by; the Muse can. ling of the English who is peerless not breathe easily in so overcharged an among our kings, Alfred the Great : atmosphere. But of the Elizabethan To service or command, to low and high
times the “ Visions " recall some of the Equal at once in magnanimity,
most striking figures — among them the The Great by right divine thou only art !
unhappy woman who is here not treated Fair star, that crowns the front of England's as a vile Duessa, but as the victim of morn,
passion and of fate; and Astrophel, more
radiant than ever as he casts off the dross | ful Indian catastrophes in 1842 and 1857; of earth; and the Utopian venturer, to and to the gentler associations also of us at once the most modern and the most the Victorian age. Nowhere-is the poet representative of the later Elizabethans, wanting in a generosity of spirit which
-Sir Walter Raleigh. Of course Queen is the moral mark of his verse, which Elizabeth herself once more appears at strives to be just even to Indians and Tilbury; but though the date "Septem- Irishmen, and is not afraid to recognize ber, 1558,” is a little misleading, the poem an element of unconscious heroism even is skilfully arranged so as to celebrate at in so palpable a historical and political once the conflict between the Armada failure as that of Richard Cromwell. and the “English boats on the English But even were this not so, the fresh and sea," and the scattering of the foe by the self-consistent individuality of Mr. Pal. blast from on high.
grave's book gives it a charm, and I A very eminent authority, of whose may add a strength, to which no collection labors any student of English history is of patriotic lyrics by several writers is glad to be able to seize an opportunity likely to attain. I doubt for instance of acknowledging his admiring recogni- whether any one of Mr. Palgrave's “Vistion, has accorded to Mr. Palgrave's ions” can be compared in mere literary historical insight praise by the side of excellence to many of the “ Poems of which all words of mine must be value. English Heroism” arranged together by less. Canon Stubbs writes: “I do not Mr. A. C. Auchmuty in an unpretending think that there is one of the • Visions' little volume of which one would rejoice which does not carry my thorough con- to hear as known and esteemed by our sent and sympathy all through.” For rising generation. But taken together, myself, I confess that I could not say as the lyrics of the one scholar and poet much with reference to those of Mr. Pal-have the inestimable advantage of an grave's patriotic lyrics which treat of the inner unity which no arranging or editstruggle between the king and the Coming can simulate, but which is due to mons. One's own sympathies may lie the transfusion of materials by one araltogether with that“ golden moderation ”tistic endeavor. There are many minor which the poet commends in the fine points in Mr. Palgrave's method of treatstanzas " At Bemerton;” bu are ment to which exception might perhaps times in the national life, as in individual be taken; but these seem to me of little lives when the great question "for or importance for the total effect of the book, against ?”.
"" for the law or against the law, which not only deserves, but, as it were, for the right or against the right, pre- demands to be received as a single wreath sents itself categorically, and when on of laurel offered to bis country by a poet. the answer given to it by the leaders of I think that he has availed himself rather the people depends the future of the land. too frequently of his poetic right to comPym was, let it be granted, a;
pare, so to speak, by anticipation, to think deep stately designer, the subtle in simple and of Balaclava as the mists clear off be
of La Haye Sainte on the hill of Senlac, disguised, Artist in plots, projector of panics he used, fore the walls of Zutphen. I think moreand despised !
over that it would have been well had he
in so short a series of lyrics — far too and Cromwell may be called, by way of short for the capabilities of the concepsupreme reproach, “ Philistia's child and tion and for the spirit with which it has chief; ” but whether they were Conserv- been executed – avoided the occasional atives or Philistines, they and those who repetition of the same, or similar, motifs. stood by them saved our freedo:n. And The anonymous “Old Dane,” the hero of for my part I cannot picture Hampden to a singularly pleasing little poem, pairs off myself riding, wounded to death, off with the nameless Crusader; and in Chalgrove Field with uncertainty in his both Earl Simon at Evesham and King soul; nor can I join in calling Milton Edward at Crecy, the paternal feeling ap. “untrue to himself” as well as “to the pears more or less predominant. But sweet Muses,” when like an Athenian of these are mere impressions; and still less old he did his duty in choosing his side in should I care to cavil at one or two historthe hour of civil conflict.
ical or literary touches of detail which By a progress more rapid than one seem to me of doubtful accuracy. The could wish, the “Visions” bring us down historical scholarship of the book as a to later times and even to our owni day whole seems to me, if I may venture to say to Trafalgar and Torres Vedras, to the aw. I so, of a very high order indeed.
As an experiment in poetic literature, thought, have always the setting, the which if not absolutely new, is at all callida junctura, which only an Augustan events made under totally new conditions, poet can give them ? these “ Visions of England” may be des- There is another aspect of Ovid's potined to occupy and interest criticism etry which is sure to attract some readers. when much of the verse that is now popu- Tacitus writes of a contemporary poet, lar or fashionable has fluttered away with “Suorum ipse flagitiorum proditor." Of the leaves of the season. In the mean no one is this more true than of Ovid; time, I hope Mr. Palgrave may be inclined indeed he says of himself, “ Ille ego nelo enlarge and develop a conception quitiæ Naso poeta meæ ;” and any writer prompted by an ambition at once aspiring of antiquity, even of a lower rank than aod legitimate. Should his book, in an his, who thus carries his personality on ampler and fuller form, achieve an en- the front of his poetry, would be a literary during success, it can hardly fail to be. phenomenon worth attention. His garcome the beginning of a new species of rulity, bis vanity, his egoism, his infirmity patriotic poetry. Should it happen other of purpose, his want of principle, not to wise, the age too may in some measure be speak of the graver faults of this sturdy in fault.
sinner, are all exposed to the public gaze. A. W. WARD. To-day he is all hope, tomorrow all de
spair. In one of his letters he is almost defiant, full of intellectual self-complacency, “ Cæsar bas no rights over the
poet; ” in the next le grovels in selfFrom Teniple Bar. abasement before his imperial judges. OVID, AN APOLOGIA.
An author of so distinguished a name, ROGERS in his “Recollections” says who thus insists on being known to us that Grattan's one objection to Burke's with all his weaknesses, is sure to conciltaste was his love for Ovid ; and it is no uniate some pardon and some interest.
We common thing in our own day to hear this are proud in his pride, and humiliated in. poet spoken of disparagingly. We won his humiliation; and if moralists require der how much of this is due to the fact that the penalty of such sins as his should that his detractors know him very little, be made manifest, surely there could or know him chiefly through the “ Fasti,” be no more ample satisfaction of poetical one of the least vivacious of his works. I justice, no more terrible Nemesis for the Something perhaps, too, is to be assigned odious cynicism of the “Ars Armandi,” to school reminiscences of bald constru- the "nomen amicitia est,” than the pitiful ing – the unwelcome, but necessary aid refrain of the “ Tristia,” that "fides" is of the classical dictionary, and the thou- dead, and that all are friends of a man's sand painful associations of labor which fortune, none of himself. is not a delight. Grattan's objection, how- Ovid, we have already said, was the ever, must have had more solid founda. poet of a capital — of a modern era; he tions. Perhaps there is a sameness in does not "let his wayward fancy roam parts of the “Heroides," and the “fatal back to those times so different from the facility" of Ovid's verse is sure to offend present.” He has no hankering after a those readers whose jaded appetites seek philosophic or sham-philosophic state of in poetry for more recondite and less ob- nature; he would not even be content, like vious beauties : but as Mr. Gosse has Grattan, “ with a coitage and claret." reminded us in his recent work on Gray, Rather, like the child in the infant hymn, “We must beware of the paradox which he thanks the goodness and the grace denies beauty in a work of art because which on his birth have smiled.” “ Prisca beauty has always been discovered there.” | juvent alios, ego me nunc denique natum Surely, of those whose first real acquaint- gratulor; hæc ætas moribus apta meis ;” ance with Ovid is made after schooldays, though we take leave to doubt whether there must be many who find a satisfac- the "ætas" and the “mores ” which made tion in the ease and graceful simplicity of the Roman poet so content, offer quite his verse; many who are moved by his the same innocent causes of congratulapathos and entertained by his humor, as tion as those which are supposed to stir well as by those delightfully modern the English child. touches with which the life of a great cap- From the " Ars Amandi” we get much ital is sure to supply its poet. And may harmless and amusing information about we not put in a word, too, for his aphoris. Roman life, its manners and amusements, tic phrases, which, however familiar the l in the first century of the empire.
Here are some of the minor devices to in fashion, and mere simple beauty,* or smooth the course of true love. “ Take the ruddy glow of health on a country the lady to sec a triumph, and tell her all face, seems to have little attraction for about it, asked or unasked. Say, " That him; or perhaps it would be truer to say is intended for the Euphrates, this for the that he dare not recommend all his priTigris; there is the famous Parthian vate sentiments in these ex cathedrà utchief.''
Nor need your lionizing be very terances as a fashionable professor; for accurate; it is sure to be acceptable. he tells us in the “ Amores” that no kind Play games with her, but never win. of charm or idiosyncrasy in the sex was Never throw sixes, and take care to lose lost on him. He adored them all. † your queen.* Go walks with her, and But in this witty poem more serious carry her parasol.t To visit often at her questions than amusements or fashion house it is necessary to be acquainted, not are occasionally touched on. Ovid has to say affectionate with the servants, to something to tell the young people on the call them by their names, and shake subject of religion; and we get a curious hands with them in a word, to practice glimpse of the polite Roman world, cling. all those arts which Mr. Pecksniff under-ing to their thousand antiqui foci, with stood so well. As for writing verses in the same conservative instinct with which her honor, their use is doubtful, since the they clung to their obsolete political sursex is too avaricious to look on them as vivals, and at the same time enjoying the equivalent to a present; but perhaps the subtle flavor of a laugh at their own simexperiinent is worth making, for though plicity. "I may as well tell you,” says few women have any culture, all like to be Ovid, “that our whole pantheon is an credited with it. Then to the ladies, too, amiable creation of expediency, # but by he has something to say: They must all means let us keep it, it is very useful." show no personal defects, but must wear (We may compare what Cicero says of the false hair, and paint and patch without belief in immortality, that it was a good stint to conceal them. But the deception notion, struck out by our ancestors in the must be complete. Once on bis sudden interests of the magistrate.) Presently arrival at a house, one of his many flames he goes on in a very exalted moral strain. appeared with her false hair put on back We know of no Epicurean heaven “semota to front. He prays that such a blush as a nostris rebus sejunctaque longe.” Our he then witnessed may only be kindled god is within us. He is conscience. again in a Parthian cheek! Ladies should Conscious innocence will be our divinity. learn all games of chance. They are very To keep our hands unstained by blood, to
and then follows what might scorn treachery, to respect a trust - this have been a motto for a Homburg table is religion. We are afraid that with the - it is not so easy to keep your temper at exception of the first clause of his creed, them. I
the preacher of Sulmo was pretty much Though he has discouraged their suit of the mind of his countrymen as to a ors from writing verses, and, as we have belief in the existence of gods. Expeseen, sneers at female education, he ex. diency required that even in the “ Ars pects the ladies, besides their vocal and Amandi” virtue should be assumed to instrumental accomplishments (among exist, but its claims were not to be too other hints on this subject they are ad violently insisted on in practice. Hence vised to reproduce the airs they hear in the slight inconsistency between “nomen the theatre), to know a good many poets, amicitia est,” and “pietas sua federa and not merely song-writers like Anacre- servet.” If Ovid thought fit to insult the on, or amatory poets like Tibullus, but lifeless corpse of the old faith, it was with he expressly counsels them to read the no idea of substituting for a dead religion Æneid. Unfortunately the sex is not a living morality. athletic, and they cannot compete with Two virtues, however, we may credit one another, like the men, on the Campus him with - a freedom from rancor or Martius, or in the Tiber; but there is a malice, and a contempt for gain and sordid promenade in the Pompeian Gardens, avarice. For the first, he has not depth where all who have beauty or elegance of nature enough to hate violently. As may display it. This last word will con- he says himself, his emotions were easily vey Ovid's general rule in these matters. stirred, and they followed one another in He would not presume to be beterodox
* “Cultus adest, nec nostros mansit in annos * “ Fac pereat vitreo miles ab hoste tuus."
Rusticitas, priscis illa superstes avis
“Noster in has omnes ambitiosus amor." † “ Majus opus mores composuisse suos."
“Expedit esse deos, et ut expedit esse putamus."