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The reader approves merely of this extract, but discovers
nothing in it peculiarly beautiful. Here palpable injustice is done to the bard. We have now to image to ourselves Edward's army on the march against the usurper Trastamere,and stopping at Ronceval, the theatre of a former bloody action. Gloom gathers on all their countenances, when they behold the bones of their country men,who fell in this engagement, whitening in the sun, ominous of the sad destiny many of the spectators are shortly to encounter. At a season like this, we have further to consider, that Constance seizes the harp and pours the heroic strain just quoted. Then indeed,
"To arms, to arm* the -warriors cried
The following lines serve to remind us of some fine passages in the Georgics, which Sotheby has so gracefully told in his native dialect.—The army of Edward pass,
"Mid champaigns o'er whose fertile bed
Virgil himself, in his sixth pastoral, seems modestly to doubt his ability, to employ his muse with success, on martial subjects. That he never satisfied himself, is evident from his anxiety to burn the manuscript of the ^Eneid. Reverencing as we do the genius of Mr. Sotheby in this walk, we think it more at home in milder scenes. Virgil says of his muse thus employed,
"But when 1 tried her tender voice too young.
And Jighting iingt and bloody battles mng,
Apollo check'dmy pride, and hade me feed
My fat'ning flocks, nor dare beyond the^ reed." ,
Mr. Sotheby appears to eminent advantage whenever he is occupied in the description of the amiable, the tender, and the delicate. Of examples of this class many might be cited. In the tomb of Maria de Padilla her alabaster image was seen.
"That lady bore Maria's air,
Each living charm scem'd featur'd there:.
Such her 6ne form and placid mien;
Still on her lip a smile was seen,
As if a blessinff on the dead
Had retted an the spirit fed."
Of the same cast of character is the following.
"Sweet ia it when the spirit is at rest,
And peace attunes the mind,
And on the clouds that canopy the west
Far diff'rent they by hope betrayM,
In fact, if a judgment can be formed of an author's ideas from his work; if in this, as in all the other relations of life, the dispositions of man is to be ascertained by his actions, these are the thoughts that Mr. Sotheby himself entertains. He does believe, we think, that his genius is better calculated for pastoral, than martial subjects; and of this the volume before us furnishes abundant evidence. Although the tenor of his subject leads to the tented field, he continually slides into pastoral scenes—he recurs to them again and again, and at last quits them with apparent regret.
Nor can it be asserted with truth that such interludes were introduced to relieve the mind, by a grateful variety, from the storm and bustle of a camp. No one acquainted with Sotheby will contend, that his pages involve so deep an interest, as to render such an expedient either necessary, or proper. The pastoral scenes do not heighten our interest in the martial ones, as they would do in the pages of Scott, were such contrast attempted. They render the features of both war and peace less perceptible and distinct, and contribute to the faintness of the impression made on the memory when the story is finished. The law of contrast demands characters deeply drawn, and strongly opposed: it requires something to surprise, and the greater the disparity the more is this emotion excited. In the page of Mr. Sotheby we pass from the one to the other by mild and quiet stages, and are sensible only of a change of scene on our arrival.
We had marked another passage of the nature of the foregoing one for insertion, and we give it, as it affords a full illustration of the principle above laid down.
"Hard is his he oft, who never at the tomb
Of one belov*u o'er the sepulchral urn
No forms unkind intrude.
O'er each harsh feature rude
Where each harsh form that met the day
In darknes dies away:
The work terminates with the prediction of the Hermit, which we have before alluded. Although this "prophetic ode," as it is intitled, does not rank with the similar vision of Gray's Bard, or even with that of Don Roderick, it has much poetical merit. We extract it for the gratification of our readers, dismissing at the same time the poem of Mr. Sotheby with sentiments, if not of admiration, at least of good-will.
"Spaniard!—Iberia's glories fade.
"Terror of earth, enthron'd sublime,
"Who, crown'd by horror, fraud and crime,
"O'erlook'st the world, an idol god!
"O'er Gaul th' avenger lifts die rod,
"And dyes in blood of kings his robe.
"Shalt at the idol's altar bow;
"Thou by thy native sons betray'd,
"By scepter'd vice and folly sway'd:
"Thy nobles slav'd, thy princes sold,
"Thy ruler under yoke of gold;
"Thy warriors on the frozen main
"Fetter'd beneath the Gallic chain.
"I gee in arras a people stand,
"Stand where their great forefathers bled,
"While Rome and all her legions fled,
"And o'er their consecrated grave
"The rescu'd flag of freedom wave.
"Speaks, as she casts her shield o'er Spain:
"Beneath my trident, strike the blow,
"And boldly grasp the Gallic prow.
"Beneath my trident free thy host,
"Unyoke their strength on Funen's coast;
"Assert the birth-right of the brave,
"Conquer, or claim a patriot's grave!
"With thee his sword the Briton draws:
"Freedom is thine and Britain's cause.
"Wheel o'er thy realm his scythed car,
"Level with iron mace thy tow'rs,
"And waste with flame thy peaceful bow'rs:
"Though smoke with blood thy untill'd ground,
"Palace and altar blazing round,
"All is not lost: Yet, yet remains
"Valour, that slavery's yoke disdains,
"Honour remains, that nurs'd thy sires,
"Vengeance, that roused Saguntum's fires:
"To want, to wo, to death resign'd
"Remains th' unconquerable mind:
"The rocks, th' eternal rocks remain
"The bulwark of Pelayo's reign:
"The starry cope, the cold bleak sky
"Sheltering the sons of liberty.
"On every mount the weapon lies
"That gain'd the Gothic victories,
"Freedom!—to man in birth-right giv'n,
"Guard it—the rest confide to hearn.'1
Outlines of a Plan for the Regulation of the Circulating Medium of the United States.
In a preceding article of this Number, we took a cursory view of the late proceedings of congress, and established, from the general aspect of our situation, the conclusion, that some* thing must be wrong in the arrangement of our national concerns. We also undertook to investigate particularly the question of our finances, under the impression, that a solid system of finance is indispensable to national prosperity.
Finding, however, that financial power depends on an ample revenue, and on public credit, which is itself, in part, a consequence of the former, we thought that the task could not be well accomplished, without going back to the source of revenue, which is taxation. We, of course, briefly discussed the principles, and enumerated the characteristic features, of a good system of taxation, and then proceeded to pass in review, the different modes of taxation, which have been devised, carefully pointing out their defects, particularly as far as they have been adopted, or are intended to be resorted to in the United States.
We showed, that internal taxes on consumable commodities, besides violating in their operation, in a high degree, the fundamental principle of justice, are particularly incompatible with the character of our country, and government; that duties on imports,—less objectionable in many other respects—make the public revenue entirely dependent on foreign commerce, and thereby place a nation, which has no other resource, when assailed, or wronged by a maritime power, in the miserable dilemma, of being obliged to choose between impotent resentment, or ignominious submission. We finally endeavoured to prove, that a direct personal tax, properly organized, and always concomitant with the customs—so as to enable government, by a small increase of the rate of the former, at any time to supply a temporary deficiency in the latter —is the only one, strictly correct in principle, and congenial to our federal republic.
During this discussion we took it for granted, that the country is sufficiently supplied with a medium of circulation, but, remarked in the outset, that it forms an essential branch of the duties of the financial department, "so to regulate the circulating medium of the country, that an adequate supply of it, for the exigencies of the nation, never shall be wanting."