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speare says, a King and a House of Lords exist in the United States; or still more obviously, boots are made out of calfskin, ergo, a calf is made out of boots. But let us leave Mrs. Gray to her dreams.
The Tyrrhenians were probably Pelasgians, but whether the Rasena were of Eastern or Northern extraction, we can only say to either hypothesis-- non probatum est. is much of an Oriental complexion undoubtedly among the Etruscans. Their hierocracy is neither wholly Druidic nor wholly Oriental, but it seems a mean between both,—approximating still more, in some respects, to the Brahminic: yet it may have been independent of all,- at least it may be so regarded until the identity of the others is proved.
We would fain, if we had time, devote some space in this Review to an examination of the singular history of the Etruscans. Civilized, yet without a literature,-intelligent and powerful, yet without renown,--they attract and merit our admiration, yet they offer little but the novelty and mystery which now invest their career, to engage our sympathy. They present the singular anomaly of a people deliberately fixing a limit to their duration, and sinking with the sullenness of despair, by slow degrees, into that grave which for centuries they had anticipated. It was the will of the gods, that after so many cycles, their power, their glory, their national existence, should be terminated ; and they bowed to the will of heaven, without a murmur at their predestined fate. Their proximity to Rome gave form and symmetry to the Eternal City, but it drained the life's-blood from themselves: and the nation fell, in the era of Rome's glory, by that Sylla, who most fully represented the system of landed aristocracy, which had been introduced from among themselves into the bosom of the Roman people. But we must refrain from additional remarks,-our limits forbid us further discussion of this interesting topic. The materials for a history of Etruria are not yet collected,-and, perhaps, it is only ordinary prudence to wait for a day of greater illumination, which may be now dawning, before we attempt any systematic examination of the history and constitution of the Etruscan states. And yet we leave the subject with regret, though we are thus delivered from a further acquaintance with Mrs. Gray, and Mrs. Gray's work.
ART. II.-A Drama of Ezile, and other Poems. By ELI
ZABETH BARRETT BARRETT, Author of "The Seraphim, and other Poems.” Two volumes. New-York : Henry G. Langley. 1845.
The first knowledge we had of Miss Barrett, was from an article that appeared in the London Quarterly Review, a few years since, where her claims as a poet were discussed at the same time with seven or eight other "modern English poetesses." An exquisitely beautiful lyric, on Cowper's Grave, quoted from her, remained in our memory, after the unfamiliar name was forgotten, till recalled afterwards by association with a poem of striking originality, published in one of the Ladies' Magazines of Philadelphia. We rejoice now that a collection of many poems, from her pen, is likely to extend her reputation widely through this land ; to make her known and loved among that American people, to whom, she says, her love and admiration have belonged, as long as she has felt proud of being an English-woman, and almost as long as she has loved poetry itself. The American edition of "The Drama of Exile," etc., precedes the English one by a step,-a step suspended for a moment, that the author, "by a cordial figure, may kiss the soil of America, and address her thanks to those sons of the soil, who, if strangers and foreigners, are yet kinsmen and friends.” It may be hoped that this cordial spirit will be reciprocated by every American reader, in the reception of these interesting volumes.
The time has passed when prejudices existed against learning in women; any "elderly objections" on that score would subject the cavillers themselves to contempt; but the reader of Miss Barrett's productions may well be startled at the demand she makes continually on his learning, to understand her allusions and analogies. A long continuance of ill health having rendered her a prisoner in her own apartment for years, she has solaced her pain, and sweetened her seclusion, by the most un wearied devotion to study. Probably she owes it, in part, to these circumstances, that she is the most erudite poetess living; that her attainments in the classics are extraordinary; that she has written elegant Latin verses, and made fine translations from Æschylus, besides being the author of sundry criticisms on the Greek poets ; that she is familiar with Hebrew, and is even suspected of
an acquaintance with other and less known tongues. Besides all this, her knowledge of the literature of the day is said to be extensive and complete. A mind thus richly stored and cultivated, and all these varied acquirements, she brings to her work,--the poetic utterance of religious feel. ing, and the aspirations of a deeply religious spirit. With her, poetry is sublimed into devotion.
The subject of the longest poem in these volumes,—"The Drama of Exile,”—may seem at first sight to be singularly chosen, considering by whom it has been appropriated. But we can easily understand how the author's daily habits of thought might fasten it upon her; how the struggles of her own spirit with a sense of physical weakness, the laboring of a soul that apprehended truth, and aspired to lift itself into union with etherial natures, yet felt itself weighed down by the realities of life,-would lead her thoughts back to the sad beginning of human exile. Separated from the world, in daily companionship with high contemplation, she could feel almost in its freshness, the desolation of that first spiritual bereavement, when aspiration failed to reach, and the "soul, all mournfully, sate down among the senses.”—The form of the drama approaches the model of the Greek tragedy. Its object is to express "the new and strange experience of the fallen humanity," newly driven forth from Paradise into the wilderness. The suffering of Eve particularly, bearing the consciousness of having been the tempter of her husband and the organ of the Fall
, and taking, in all humility, her lot of self-sacrifice and submission,-could be expressed, she thought, better by a female heart and pen. The scene of the drama, or mystery it might be called, is without the
gates of Eden, which are shut fast with clouds. This, the writer thought, would be a barrier between herself and Milton, so that none might say she dared to walk in his footsteps. But her precaution is ineffectual. The subject, and the great poet's glory covering it, swept through the gates, and she stood full in it against her will. There she must be content to stand. The grandeur of Milton's genius has strode to the utmost limit where human intellect could tread; the step of any other must be prescribed and narrow, and fettered wherever he turns by a perpetual vision of the surrounding majesty. Andreini, whose work suggested Paradise Lost, went before Milton; none can come after him, and fail to be lost in the shadow of his greatness. Ne
vertheless, as Miss Barrett deprecatingly observes, there is room for lyrical emotion in those first steps into the wilderness ; "in ihat first sense of desolation after wrath,-in that first audible gathering of the reproachful grcan of the whole creation,-in that first darkening of the hills from the withdrawing footsteps of angels.--and in that first silence of the voice of God."--Exile is her great idea ; and it is carried through to its utmost extent, ending with Lucifer, who is but an Adam borne out to the extreme, representing the ultimate tendencies of sin and loss.
Although this drama has nothing of the grandeur of con. ception, the epic majesty we have been accustomed to associate with the subject, the truth and tenderness of its lyrical spirit entitle it to the highest praise. We enter with sympathy into the desolation and remorse of the exiled pair; and the plaint of the spirits of earth and air, jarred from the harmony of their existence by the shock of man's sin, and feeling the wrong he has done them in their strife and sorrow, appeals, with its mournful melody, to our hearts. In the foreground of the picture stands the angel of the sin, pale in the drear light, to be an idea to all souls:
“A monumental, melancholy gloom,
And measure out the distances from good.” But Gabriel is there to dispute his claim over this ruined world, and even amidst the rumor of the vexed and discordant powers of pature, even while the echo of the curse still sounds, to assert that God has not wholly abandoned earth. While the eager inalice of the Arch Tempter anticipates the completion of the destruction he has wrought,—boasting that
Right o'er the edges,"
solemnly, that the evil one becomes aware of a divine purpose of restoration.
One of the many beautiful passages, is a part of the dialogue between Adam and Eve, when they have fled to the extremity of the sword-glare shooting from the closed gate of Eden out into the dreary wilderness, and come upon the wild open country. The first evening of their expulsion is darkening around them; but the shadows are not only of the night :
“Adam. How doth the wide and melancholy earth
Adam. And yet the cedars and the junipers
Adam. No cause for fear. The circle of God's life
Eve. I think the earth
Adam. We will not fear;
Yea, I plucked the fruit
Adam. Night is near.
Eve. And God's curse, nearest. Let us travel back
Eve. Ah! ah! dost thou discern what I behold ?