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Peter's Notions on Music.
ANECDOTE OF MADAME LA MAUPIN,
A celebrated Singer during the reign of Louis XIV.
La Maupin, on account of her extraordinary character, and romantic adventures, deserves to be mentioned.
She was equally fond of both sexes, fought and loved like a man, resisted and fell like a woman. She eloped from her husband with a fencing master, of whom she learned the sinall sword, and became an excellent fencer. At Marseilles she became enamoured of a young lady, who on account of this whimsical affection was confined
by her friends in a convent: but La Maupin gaining admission as a novice, set fire to the convent, and in the confusion carried off her favourite. At Paris, when she appear ed on the stage in 1695, Dumein a singer having affronted her, she put on men's clothes, and insisted on his drawing his sword and fighting her, but he refusing, she caned him, and took from him his watch and snuff box as trophies of her victory. Ball given by Monsieur, brother of Louis XIV, she again put on men's clothes, and having behaved impertinently to a lady, three of the lady's friends, supposing Maupin to be a man, called her out. She killed them all, and returning coolly to the ball, told Monsieur of what had happened, who obtained her pardon. She afterwards became mistress to the Duke of Bava, ria, and ultimately seized with a fit of devotion, recalled her husband, and
spent the remainder of her life in piety. She died in 1707, at the age of 34,"
ESSAYS ON EMINENT CHARACTERS.
ESSAY III. ROBERT BURNS.
The labours of literary men for the last twenty years have fully developed the peculiar traits of Burns's genius. We are, therefore, not to expect that any thing material can be added to the general mass of information. All that can be done is to glean a few hints which have been overlooked, and to add our mite to the collection of accumulated knowledge. From these
Essays on Eminent Characters-Robert Burns.
motives we are led to the consideration of two facts ; viz. whether Burns possessed talents for descriptive poetry, and whether implicit credence is to be put in the criticism of A. F. Tytler, Esq. on the Lament for James, Earl of Glencairn. The last subject shall constitute the subject of the present, and the first of some future
paper. That justice may be done to all parties, we shall transcribe a portion of Mr. Tytler's letter to the bard, premising at the same time, that we suppose our read “rs acquainted with the
to which we allude. · It (The Lament) appears to me faulty as a whole, and inferior to those you have already published in the same strain. My principal objection lies against the plan of the piece. I think it was unnecessary and improper to put the lamentation in the mouth of a fictitious character, an aged bard. It had been much better to have lamented your patron in your own person, to have expressed your genuine feeling for his loss, and to have spoken the language of nature rather than that of fiction on the subject. The change is in my opinion injudicious too in this respect, that an aged bard has much less need of a patron and protector than a young one.”
We are very little disposed to concur with a single objection which this gentleman has stated. His remark on the impropriets of putting the lament in the mouth of an aged bard is a point not to be decided by authority: much may be said on both sides of the question, and what is urged by ourselves will go to defend the plan of the poem. By adopting the present conduct, Burns has undoubtedly gained one advantage at the risk of losing another He has inade his performance more picturesque but has incurred soine hazard of rendering it less pathetic. li he had lamented himself there could have been httle opportunity of introducing the fine imagery which opens
He might indeed have described nature in his own person and told us that amidst such a scene he went out to pour forth his lamentation. But the whole performance would have been so fanciful and egotistic as to attract at best but few readers. This is the only way in which we can conceive the descriptive portion of the poem
could have been preserved, but it goes so directly in the face of nature and propriety that no poet would ever adopt it. If he therefore had uttered the lament in his own person he must have sacrificed an essential portion of its beauty ; it might perhaps have been more
Essays on Eminent Characters-Robert Burns.
moving, but less animated and descriptive. A poem should possess whatever can please. Both the fancy and the heart require to be gratified. The author should clothe and embellish. He should touch the imagination by the variety of his objects and interest the soul by the impressiveness of his ideas. It is this which throws such a magic over many
of the scenes of Homer. Every thing is alive. Å shepherd hears afar off the approaching battle, and Hies in terror from his hill. The child is dazzled by the crest of its father in the pathetic interview of Hector and Andromache. The same fire and sublimity would have prevailed in his battle without a shepherd, and the same tenderness without the effect of the helmet on the child, but both would have been less picturesque. He touches by these agreeable facts. the imagination ; he enlivens his action, and keeps the mind in a pleasant mood. Much of the beauty of Burns's poem lies in its imagery. The bard at the fall of day-his cheek furrowed with years—his white locks bleached with time -his leaning against an aged oak and stringing bis harp to sorrow —are at once touching and impressive. The peice is more descriptive than most others which the poet has attempted, and if he had followed an opposite plan this rare quality of his muse would have been lost. When we read it we suppose all the circumstances to be true. The plan may be reared on a fictitious foundation, but the sentiments are undoubtedly not the language of fiction. We may as well appropriate the appellation of fabulous to the Cotter's Saturday Night. No person i. magines that such a scene actually took place, but it is such as may naturally enough occur. The fact of a bard being heard to utter the lamentation at evening, and under such circumstances as he describes is not probable, but the instance of a bard speaking such a lament is both likely and natural; or if this be denied, we are at liberty to affirm that the sentiments would have been false and unatural if the poet had spoken them in his own person. The Cotter's Saturday Night is the poem of actionthis is the
of sentiment. Such a precise action as the former represents Burns never saw, and such sentiments the latter expresses he never heard. But such an action as the first may naturally enough be seen, and such sentiments as are cond may with
equal probability be heard. Further, after the poet has done with the descriptive part of his poem he gives us the words of the bard. We have here all that the advocates a
Essays on Eminent Characters-Robert Burns.
gainst the plan of the Lament can demand. We have the voice of nature speaking ; there is no further occasion for supposing that the sentiments are uttered by a fictitious character. We may if we choose put a blot on what we have before read, and suppose Burns to lament his patron in his own person. But the effect of this will be to destroy all the fine picturesque poetry which ushers in the piece, and to sacrifice a certain decoration for a doubtful effect. At the same time it is very dubious if it would render the poem more pathetic.
It could not produce this effect if the pathetic parts were abstractly considered, the language as much as ever would be that of nature: although the bard was fictitious, yet the sentiments uttered by him were not so. If Burns has here erred, he has erred with Ossian, Homer, Tasso, Ariosto, and in truth with every great poet. No one on a serious consideration can give a moment's belief to the Narration of Æneas to Queen Dido; or to the battle between Fingal and the Spirit of Zoda. Yet the sentiments uttered by the parties please, not because we believe them to have ever been ex. pressed, but because they are those of nature, tender, heroic, descriptive, and beautiful. During the perusal of them, indeed, in order to give the scene its utmost effect, we can so tar strain our imagination as to believe them realities. We think with enthusiasın on the scenes which are represented passing before us, and never pro tempore think of doubt. Man is not so much of a philosopher, as to be displeased with what is actually untrue if it is beautiful. If this were really the case we would turn from the glorious extravagances of an Ariosto to many a common-place versifier as destitute of fancy as of passion.
Few persons on reading the Lament think of enquiring whether it be true or false. They look to the description, imagery, and sentiment. If these give satisfaction they are pleased, and care not by whom uttered if they are uttered with propriety. Iftruth is not grossly violated, they will endure, if pathetic sentiments occur they will feel, if they have hearts susceptible of emotion, and if these strains are enlivened by images of beauty, they are both melted by the tenderness of the one and charmed with the richness of the other.
The last objection, that aň aged bard has much less need of a patron than a young one is a cold remark, and in our opinion the very, contrary holds as fact. A young man lamenting his lord is surely a far less interesting object, than a venerable sire whose
Origin of Sirnames.
cheeks are furrowed with time, and whose locks are bleached in his service. His years accord with the scene in which he is engaged, all nature is sinking to rest, a langour seems to pervade material things, while the voice of his lyre swelling to the midnight air produces an association of images in themselves pathetic, and well suited for the melancholy strain in which he indulges. The scenery is not described as possessing gaiety: Nature is troubled, the wind blows hollow from the hills, his hoa
locks are wafted in the blast, and before he begins to open his mouth, we are touched with the situation in which he is placed.
So far from regarding this to be an inferior performance we consider it one of the happiest effusions of the A yrshire bard, and we are much mistaken if all our readers are not of the same opinion. The scenery itself prepares us for what is to follow. Step by step we are led on, it is no cold preparation which ushers in the lament for the departed. The hand of a master opens the poem, its begining is melancholy, and its termination pathetic. The aged bard" finds himself deprived of his all, of his only protector, thrown unheaded and unknown upon the world, this was a theme meet for poetry. Youth has certainly smaller apprehensions to sustain and fewer evils to encounter. Infancy and old age are the most interesting periods of human life, both equally incapable of protecting themselves, and certainly most interesting objects in their distress. Nov. 1819.
ORIGIN OF SURNAMES.
BY THE REV. MARK NOBLE, F. A. S.
There is nothing that so much excites curiosity as surnames, whence they come, and why adopted. Ofteu have I been asked well informed
what their own family name meaned. The subject is curious. I think a short essay upon it may be at once instructive and amusing.
The Romans had their family names, but I do not mean to speak of these people, but of our own nation. Surnames were borrowed by us from the Normans. Before the conquest some who had with Edward the Confessor, found an asylum, in that