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I love old wine, old songs, old books, and one or two old women; but am choice in my old favourites. My songs must be heart-stirring, bold and chivalric, full of fire and spirit--no matter be the subject right joyous or pathetie-still reviving the scenes, the fantasies, the bright imaginings of past days. I have more than an antiquary's reverence and love for old holiday-sports, and am curious in anniversaries. Pliny tells of a Roman poet, who held the birth-day of Virgil sacred, and paid an annual visit to his tomb. I revere the memory of the poet-worshipper, and would accompany him to the shrine, and stand, full of awe, or kneel, in silent and entrancing worship, with the living bard, over the grave of the departed. I respect the birth-day, both of the living and the dead, and have many registered in my calendar, but like Pliny's friend, hold all more sacred than my own.--"Once upon a time." —How deliciously that fine old exordium falls on the ear of the school-boy, conveying more rapture, and begetting more expectation in the youthful listener, by its shadowy, oldworld, indefinite, suggestions, than all the beginnings,” polished or abrupt, oratorical or epic, that are subsequently presented to the more matured, and more fastidious taste of his manhood."Once upon a time,” it was a day of pleasure. I remember it was a holiday, which, for many months past, I had looked forward to, with eager and restless anticipation. I rose earlier than usual on the wished-for morn, having slept but little, dreaming and musing on it, and planning what I should do, and thinking what a terrible thing it would be, if it rained. But my birth-days then, were ever fine, and the sun always shone bright, and the heavens looked clear on those days. Now, the seasons of childhood and schooltime gone, they put on a more sober garb, and the heavens are sometimes clouded, and the sun is not always glorious and glowing. Formerly the days were slow in their approach. Now, they revolve almost too rapidly to be either noted or remembered.
I have a passion for Cathedrals, Abbies, old Gothic ruins, and the round towers of Ireland; and if, as Hazlitt says, there is nothing in heaven or earth but poetry, that fire and water, wood and stone, are all poetry, the very highest order of the art, is, to my imagination, a fine old Cathedral, such as my favourite, St. Patrick's;
whose branching roof
That they were born for immortality! Independently of the grandeur and beauty of this fine Gothic building, its nave, its aisles, and its monuments, it possesses the hon rable distinc. tion of being the church of Swift. The library attached to it, was his favourite resort, and “ Swift's corner," is the name of a recess in a remote part of the room. From the window of this classic spot, may be seen an interesting view of the Cathedral. The library was founded by Primate
Marsh, for the use of the good citizens of Dublin. It contains some curious books and manuscripts, and is the depository of a part of the collections of Stillingfleet and Sterne.
Old libraries afford a species of pleasure peculiar to themselves. In treading the boards of the Bodleian, you rever imagine yourself to be the person that an hour before lounged in High-Street--you breathe a different atmosphere, and allow your imagination to run riot and revel in literary luxury, You sit where Milton sat, and open the volume he was wont to read. A stillness is preserved in the place, as if you feared to disturb the spirits of the past ages, who repose in its recesses. Busts of illustrious members occupy each side of the room, placed on pedestals of marble. They are the tutelary guardians of the hallowed place ---the very household gods of the University. A bust, in my mind, possesses a vast superiority (no matter how originating, as I am not now in a mood for dissertation, suppose it were from the palpable fulness with which it meets, and satisfies the eye and the touch,) over the finest portrait; a superiority which amply atones for the want of colour. Chantry's Scott, is an illustration in point, this noble work, is as superior to Raeburn's pieture, as the living original is to inanimate marble.
It was at Marsh's library I first saw Maturin. He was reading near Swift's window. Hie countenance betrayed an expression of melancholy that was distressing to look upon. But now and then a change—a fitful change, like the alternate gleaming and darkness of the conflicting passions of his own heroes-spread its transient lustre over his face. His looks brightened up into a tearful April sun-shine; his eyes beamed with that light which could only be quenched by death ; and the poor curate became, for a few moments, the poet of Bertram, and of Eva. He soon again relapsed into that habitual gloom, which was too deep and settled to be ever completely dispelled. Genius in repose, and genius in action, appear as dissimilar as light and shade. Look at M **** hastening through Bond-Street, and who could recognize, what Sheridan compared to “a partiele of fire separated from the sun, ever fluttering to get back to the source of light and heat?”
The story of Maturin is as romantic as some of his own fictions. He loved in boy-hood, and was wedded to his first-love. He entered the University at fifteen, and obtained college-honors and a scholarship, and was distinguished for his eloquence in the Historical Society, at that period, the nursery of Irish talent. From real affluence and luxury, his family were suddenly reduced to absolute poverty, and young Maturin became tutor to a few college students, who attended him, daily, at his house. At this time, he was curate of St. Peter's, and besides his other struggling exertions, was of course obliged to devote himself to the arduous duties which belonged to that humble situation. He fulfilled the trust reposed in him, and his memory will ever be held in honour in this country. It is, after all, a disheartening reflection, that, with the exception of a very few instances on record, that are remarkable for their very singularity, the vast debt which the world owes to its greatest and best benefactors,—the men of genius who have illumined, delighted, and adorned it,-should be paid in the cold and profitless oblations of posthumous renown. This sort of tribute, good for nothing, but testifying the unavailing reverence, the tardy regret of the survivors, must be gathered in mere anticipation, by the living philosopher and poet, whose mental second-sight may reveal the orient glory beginning to tinge the borizon in the distance, but it also descries the death-shroud wrapped and wreathed about his own spectral form, interposed between the seer and his visionary triumph. The prophet must perish before that glory is realised. These however, are the hard conditions, generally speaking, on which genius is content to pursue its own proud and solitary walk, through this dark and selfish world, towards the home of its rest, and the pure and eternal fountains of its inspirations. For the present, my recollections have borrowed a sad and sober colouring from the subject on which they have fallen, not very analogous to the bunyant spirit in which they set out at the commencement. They are however, not unlike a section of human existence itself—beginning in reckless gaiety and infantine frolic, and ending in bitter tears, and withered hopes, with an interminable and dreary waste spread out before it.
ON A PICTURE OF NAPOLEON IN HIS ROBES.
Written in 1823.
I frankly own that gilded state
Trust me, the parple ill supplies
of Russia's Czar,
Thy banners far and wide unfurl'd,
7 hat made thee conscience of the world?
Napoleon's own words.“ Allez et songez que du haut de ces monumens quarante siecles vous contemplent.”
+ And Samson said “Suffer me that I may feel the pillars whereupon the house standeth' that I may lean upon thom," &c.—Judges. Chap. XVI.
THE CONSPIRACY OF PLAUTIAN.
[The following specimen of a translation of a very remarkable passage in Herodian, was communicated to us by a very respectable person in this city, distinguished no less by his acquirements as a scholar, than by his manners and liberality as a gentleman. To be candid, however with, him, we must avow the greater satisfaction with which an original paper from his pen, and on some subject congenial to his taste and power, would be received by us, and we venture to predict, by the public. The hint thus publicly suggested, will not, it is hoped, be lost on our worthy contributor. In the present ample supply of translations, paraphrases and imitations of the ancients,-most of them decently—and some of them admirably executed",-a species of wealth, by which our literature is oftener enfeebled than invigorated, oftener gorged than enriched; it must be an extremely rare and beautiful passage, descriptive of a most uncommon and striking event, or illustrative of some recondite curiosity, selected out of some yery rare and exquisite author, and above all, translated in a masterly and finished style—not “ done into English. It must be an union of all these requisites, that can justify the editor of this Magazine, to tempt the patience, and provoke the fastidiousness of his readers, by submitting to their perusal any writings of this nature. At the same time, it is obvious, that when such a production is distinguished by the qualities just stated, the public taste must be inclining somewhat to a morbid and irritable condition, if it chose to reject or disdain so fine a repast, on the mere ground of its not being a luxury of our own growth. At all events, we shall ourselves take care to recollect that our duty lies mainly in sometimes guiding, sometimes correcting, always catering for the taste of the public; laying ourselves out, fearlessly, yet respectfully, to gratify, to the utmost of our poor abilities, its craving, when it is healthy; and in gentleness and good feeling, to rectify its occasional deviations, and its little periodical irregularities. We aspire simply to the honourable and friendly cares of a physician,-not to the unenviable and questionable supremacy of a dictator. From the public—we mean the enlightened, liberal and accomplished part of it--we shall always be as willing to receive an admonition, as to give one: because with that public we are anxious to be identified, rather than sustain a separate and isolated function. As for the pert, the foppish, the ill-bred, or the bumbugging set of people, who sometimes arrogate to themselves the name of “The public,” when their provocations are petty, when their guilt is diminutive like themselves, we shall allow them just to pass by for their very insignificance; but when they attempt to erect from the dust, along which they are condemned to wriggle and crawl, their hissing head and poisonous tongue, what have we more to do, than to lash down
On the subject of translation, and on the qualifications and duties of a good translator of one who neither enfeebles, nor vulgarizes, nor caricatures, nor traduces the original; who present to his country, in his own language, the whole undulated spirit, and unshrivelled body of a foreign or an ancient writer; the reader is referred to Alexander Frazer Tytler's elegant and judicious essay: while, as a specimen of splendid and finished translation, comprising in itself, all that we deem requisite to give perfection to such a work, and standing unrivalled by every attempt of equal difficulty in the departments of either prose or poetry in our language. The works of Sallust, by Henry Stuart, of Allaston, are recommended to the perusal of the classic scholar.