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vation made to him by a learned and intelligent friend, on the subject of pursuing the study of the learned languages too far. For some time after the Reminiscent quitted college, he continued smitten with the love of Greek and Roman lore. His friend remarked to him that it was a vain pursuit : “ you and I” he said,“ are willing to think that we understand the French language as well as we do our own: most gentlemen, who have received a liberal education, do the same. Yet, how little do any of us feel the beauties of French poetry? How little are we sensible of that indescribable charm of the verses of Racine, of which every Frenchman talks to us with so much rapture ? Now, if this be the case, in respect to a language which we hear spoken every day, and the writers in which are countless, how much more must it be the case in respect to a dead language, when the writers, whom we possess, are so few? The utmost knowledge, which, by the most persevering application we can obtain of the literary merit of their compositions, so far, at least, as respects the beauties of their style, must be very limited.” In this observation, there seems to be good sense: one, of an import somewhat similar, and leading to a similar conclusion, was made to the Reminiscent by Mr. Porson. “The number of ancient writers," said that gentleman,“ which has reached us, is so small, that we cannot be judges of the expressions, or even of the words appropriated to any particular style. Many, suited to the general style of Livy, would not be suited to that of Tacitus : of this, we necessarily are, great measure, insensible; and use them indiscriminately. This must be wrong ; when, therefore, we write in the Latin language, our style should be most unambitious; we should carefully avoid all fine words and expressions, we should use the most obvious and most simple diction ; beyond this, we should not aspire ; if we cannot present a resemblance, let us not exhibit a caricature."
It was a remark of Boileau, that if the French had become a dead language, and few only of its approved writers had survived it, a poet, who wished to describe a person gathering sand on the bank of a river, might mention him.
“ Sur la rive du fleuve amassant de l'arène," and justify the line, by producing from approved authors, every word it contained. “ But now," said Boileau, “the most ordinary writer knows that the expressions rive du fleuve and amassant de l'arène, are insupportably bad; and would write Sur le bord de la rivière and amassant du sable."
TO THE DRAMATISTS OF THE DAY.
We quote only the latter part of the first of these leto ters, which appeared in the London Magazine for July, 1823, as it contains the essence of the writer's reasonings. We perfectly agree with him in his observations on this subject, but he does not appear to have perceived the true source of tragic pleasure. Action, it is true, co-operates in producing the effect; but why does it so co-operate; or must the action so co-operating, possess a certain character ? If so, what is the character that gives interest to action? These are questions which the writer, not only seems unable to resolve, but which he would appear never to have asked himself. Could he reply to them satisfactorily, he would have little difficulty in discovering many other particular means of producing tragic interest, besides that of mere action, and he would also find, that action possesses no interest, unless it possess, at the same time, a certain character. -Ed.
The dramatists of this day would appear to a less profound observer than I am, (who can spy out the cause in our present ultra-refinement of mind,) to have entered into a conspiracy for the exclusion of every thing which might possibly assist their genius in the end they, as tragedists, should aim at. Action is the essence of drama; nay, its definition: business, bustle, hurly, and combustion-dire, are indispensable to effective drama; at least, if pathos run not very copiously through the piece, in which case, action may be partly compounded for by tears, though, perhaps, not without some hazard. But that essence, and these indispensables, you, gentlemen, seem, with one consent, sedulously to avoid meddling with, to shun as you would fire and brimstone. You seem to think, that the whole virtue of tragedy lies in its poeticity; and the softer, the sweeter, and the more soul-soothing, the more hushing the poetry is, the better you think it, though the audience go to sleep under your
At any rate, if you don't think thus, you write as if you did. One great instrument of keeping an audience on the fret of attention, is a good plot; an
excellent reason, as it would appear with you, to select bad or indifferent ones. Oh! so as we deliver forth poetry enough, what a plague have we to do with plotting? You either poke into the crevices and corners of history, real or fictitious, for insignificant events, which you neither amplify nor adorn by addition or decoration, as Shakspeare might have ensampled you; or, being the architects of your own stories, your designs are so light and graceful, so economical in point of material, and of so very corinthian an order of elegance, that they are nearly invisible to the gross sense of our popular eye-sight.
Description of a Battle between Ninety-three PauneeLoup Warriors, against a large Body of
Jetans, Arrapahues, and Kiawas.
This severe battle was fought by ninety-three Pawnee-Loup warriors, against a large body of Jetans, Arrapahoes, and Kiawas. The party was led by the most distinguished Brave of the village, and half-brother of the Metiff chief, but of unmixed blood, and a principal supporter of the influence of that chief. The party, who were all on foot, were on their way to capture horses, but they were badly armed for a contest, and had but twelve guns amongst them. They were proceeding cautiously along in the prairies, between the head waters of the Arkansa and the Rio del Norte, when one party of their runners, or discoverers, came in with information, that a great body of the enemy were a-head, and had not seen them ; another party of runners soon came in, with the same information. The whole now halted to wait for night, to capture horses, and busied themselves in preparing their ropes and halters, and in putting themselves in the best order, in case of attack. One of the party ascended a small eminence, and perceived three of the enemy mounted, and coming on in full career; presently, more appeared, and soon after they began to shew themselves in every quarter. It was now evident to the party, that the enemy were the first discoverers, and that they were now necessitated to contend against a vastly superior force, better armed than themselves, and possessing, also, the advantage of being all mounted on good horses. It was obvious, also, that there was no hope for them but in the display of a desperate yalour. Their first wish had been to gain a creek, at some distance in their rear, which was margined with small timber ; but as their enemy now completely surrounded them, this was impossible. The battle commenced about ten o'clock, A. M., and soon raged with great fury. Every muscle was called into action in our little band, who hung firmly together, discharging their arrows, and occasionally a fusee, at the enemy, with the steadiest aim. The dead and wounded were falling in every direction, in both parties. The enemy were so numerous, that numbers of their Braves, armed only with a shield, having rejected their offensive weapons, hovered in front of their companions, intent only upon the acquisition of the renown dearest to the