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Nothing that wisdom has devised, or skill perfected,
“ It is a torrent,” said the Genius,“ of the Goths and Vandals. Unable to exist in their own barren country, they have left it to possess this delicious climate ; and, assuredly, it has attractions to induce a conquest from a nation less in want, and less barbarous than these ravagers."
I continued to gaze intently on the scene, and I thought that ages passed away, leaving me in possession of every occurrence that had transpired in the lapse of time. Instead of industry there gradually prevailed remissness; instead of science, dullness; instead of ambition, apathy; instead of politeness, barbarism. All traces of civilization were at last obliterated, and a mist of ignorance overspread the land.
I now saw a deformed and morose phantom, stalking over every part of the country.
Its face was gloomy as a cloud. Its eyes were suffused with film. Its hair and nails were exceedingly long; and it was clothed in filth and sackcloth. Its whole appearance was at once ridiculous and terrible. Joy and merriment ceased wheresoever it passed ;sullenness and despair accompanied its steps ;-all nature seemed blighted by its presence. After wandering, for some time, about the land, and touching, in its progress, nearly all the inhabitants, whose dispositions it immediately changed, it came, as it were by chance, into the presence of a monarch who had rendered himself dreadful to his subjects by his cruelties, and fell down on its face before him. The Genius perceiving me turn to him with a look of inquiry, told me that the name of the phantom was Superstition. Superstition, you know, said he, " is the child of Ignorance. 'Tis also, as you will see, the parent of Cruelty, of Hatred, of Persecution, and of many other evils that afflict humanity. But let not your attention be diverted from the scene before you."
Methought the phantom swore obedience to the monarch, and promised to uphold his power. “ Why does the phantom,” said I, “ assist the monarch against his subjects ?” “ The phantom,” replied the Genius, “ is subservient to any one who is exempted from its terrors, in his designs against those who are influenced by them.
Those only are exempted from the terrors of superstition who possess knowledge ; and those only are influenced by them who are enslaved by ignorance.”
I was much surprised at an edict, which the monarch at this time caused to be proclaimed, that all the books which remained in the country should be brought to him. The people, too, notwithstanding their subjection, could not refrain from expressing some astonishment at the proclamation. Being, however, informed by the phantom, which interested itself greatly on this occasion, that it was issued for their benefit, they forthwith acquiesced in the monarch's proclamation, and, without further opposition, deposited the books at the foot of the throne. The monarch, professing himself well pleased with the obedience of his subjects, graciously returned the books to them, retaining one only that had the appearance of great antiquity. This book he ordered to be translated into a foreign tongue; and then, telling his subjects he doubted they would not be able to understand it, without assistance, as it was very figurative and difficult, appointed, of his own accord, several ministers to explain it to all those who felt any curiosity about its contents.
“What old book is that,” said I, “ which the monarch selected from those which were brought to him? What made him so eager to obtain it, and why is he so careful of its doctrines, and so anxious that the people should understand it thoroughly ?"
“That book,” replied the Genius, “is the Bible. The monarch appoints ministers to explain it, in order to give its doctrines a false interpretation. Were his subjects to read and understand it, they would speedily overturn his power. Had they read and understood it, the phantom had never been born.”
Methought the monarch now increased prodigiously in power; and, usurping a throne of supernatural height, arrogated to himself universal dominion, and commanded the people to worship him as a God.Methought he encircled his brows with a mitre, and declared that “infallibility” was his prerogative. At times, he scattered amongst his subjects scrolls of parchment according as they received or disobeyed his edicts. On some of the scrolls was written “ Absolution ;" on others, “Excommunication;" “ Purgatory;" or, “Promises of future Happiness ;” or, “ Threats of Everlasting Misery.”
“ The monarch,” said the Genius, “is the Pope ; and the scrolls of parchment he has scattered, are his bulls. In the pride of his heart, he fancies himself the Vicegerent of Heaven, possessing unlimited, uncontrolled sway over the earth. His ministers are monks, who first pervert the meaning of the Bible, to serve the purposes of his ambition ; and then practise cruelty, under pretence of piety, and make religion the vehicle of persecution, in order to their own aggrandizement. Base, sordid hypocrites ! were they to escape damnation for their cruelty, their affected piety would plunge them into it.”
I saw a phantom, at this time, make a low obeisance to some trifles which the monarch had collected, as I conceived, with a view to the entertainment of the multitude. These trifles were a bone, a phial, a drop of blood, a piece of wood crossed, a picture, a statue, with many other matters which my memory will not serve me to enumerate.
“ These things, which appear as trifles to you,” remarked the Genius, are of the utmost importance to the monarch. Through them he pretends to work miracles; and deceives the people into a belief of his super-human authority. His resorting to these expedients, however, is a proof that he apprehends his power to be on the wane.”
A short time after this, methought a man of great learning, wisdom, and integrity, happening to procure an old book, similar to that the monarch had seized upon with such avidity, perused it with extraordinary pleasure; and, finding that it enjoined duties of the highest nature, made several translations of it into the vulgar tongue, and circulated them amongst his countrymen. The people, perceiving that its doctrines were contrary to those taught by command of the monarch, and recollecting their ancestors’ veneration for the book, began first to wonder at their own stupidity, and then to conclude that the monarch was a deceiver, and had assumed an improper authority over them. They lamented they had been so long desuded by him with promises which could not be performed ; and terrified with threats
which could not be executed. No longer, however, would they acknowledge the supremacy of Christ's boastful vicegerent; no longer would they attribute to him infallibility, or consent to the unseemly worship which he had exacted. Other countries, that submitted to his yoke, were animated with the same spirit, and rejected, with similar indignation, the pestilential doctrines he had inculcated. The throne of the ecclesiastical tyrant diminished daily; and, at last, by the dissemination of knowledge, became as contracted as a shadow in meridian day.
As for the phantom-although it swore obedience to the monarch, when ignorance prevailed, and looked terrible and gloomy in proportion as his power increased—no sooner had the golden maxims of the old book been published, and ignorance banished from the land—than it abandoned the monarch—its terrors vanished—its gloom was changed to resignation-and it assumed a pleasing form, which I instantly knew to be that of “ Religion."
Know,” said the Genius, “that the phantom was, originally, as it appears now to be.
It was metamorphosed into Superstition by IgnoThe man who translated the old book, was one of the greatest champions of Christianity. Fame has already carried his praise to the uttermost corners of the earth.”.--Here the Genius left me--
---I awoke, and found myself in bed.
Z. Z. Z.
STANZAS FOR MUSIC.
IV. But sweeter far 'twill be to feel, when we have ceased to rove; How little soil and clime have power, to make content and love; For though wintry storms succeed these suns, our happy hearts shall know, That the fire-light of our native hearths, has yet a holier glow.
have contributed; and report bears us out in this idea. That the authors are of the gentler sex, is also very apparent, from the tone of sentiment and feeling with which the different subjects are handled. This is most prominent in the three tales; “Emily Butler,” which is a narrative of deep and unfortunate love, managed with considerable delicacy and pathos; “ The Outpost, founded on an anecdote, bearing the stamp of truth, and intended to illustrate at once the barbarous situation of Hibernian manners, and the feudal bonds which still subsist between lord and vassal; and, “ The Widow's Nuptials,” a somewhat harrowing recital of the operation of unhallowed passion, meeting with virtuous resistance, long sustained, till borne down by the force of maternal affection; though ending at length in joyless decay, and an unhallowed death.
The translations from the German, which, allowing for the exaggerated state of northern continental feeling, possess very considerable interest—and the three stories, the “ Miller of Doune," “ Mynheer Dodimus Doolittle," and “ Beware of what you say before Children,” bear the impress of a more masculine intellect, and appear to have proceeded from the same pen; though, strange to say, the best story in the work, “ Mynheer Dodimus," and the worst, “ Beware of what you say before Children, are of the trio.
The fair writer will doubtless be a little surprised at the decision on the tale which winds up the volume ; as, from its station there, and some passages of the writing, she certainly must have reckoned it one of the most forcible and effective. The incident on which the story hinges, is unquestionably horrible and striking; and, brought in episodically, must have passed with eclat in this age of strong emotion ; but the circumstances, added to give effect, only operate as water, in diluting the strong essence of the anecdote; and throw over it an air of ridicule, conjoined with a feeling quite unpleasant and disagreeable. If French critics stigmatise Shakspeare for the barbarity of smothering Desdemona on the stage, what can be said, even by a rougher British critic, in defence of a minute and particular account of the atrocities committed at the incremation of an insane woman, whose broken thigh-bone rattles on each step of the prison stair as she is dragged down, and who is at last mercifully rendered senseless among the excruciating frames, by receiving on her head an immense stone, thrown by a horrified byestander.
We have said enough, and perhaps more than enough in censure; but, had the stories been more full of blemishes, one to pounce on, would not have ap"peared so prominent. We would fain give an extract from the “ Miller of Doune," throughout which the olden Doric dialect of Scotland is admirably
sustained; but find we cannot detach a passage with effect, without entering • into the minutiæ of the story, the agreeable task of which we would rather
leave to our readers, assuring them of very considerable amusement. • Of the other tales, which make up the volume, several of which contain con'siderable interest and entertainment, our limits preclude us from making particular mention; indeed they will be more or less relished, according to the taste of the reader. To conclude, we wish the fair writers every success in the walk of literature they have chosen. As to their elegant accomplishinents, the translations from the German and Italian, and more especially the original music to which several lyrics in the book are set, allow only of one opinion being formed; though we admit they might have selected some more noted poets to illustrate, than Costello, or T. C. Smith, neither of whom are likely to be very familiar to the public.
Should they again think of presenting themselves at the bar of public favour, we would advise them, as true observers of society and manners, to adhere to their own deductions therefrom; and banish all novel-writing sentimentality from their pages. The late period of the month at which this interesting volume was received, as precluded us from giving some of the many favourable specimens we should otherwise have presented to the notice of our readers; but this omission shall be atoned for in our next publication.
THE MORAL CHARACTER OF LORD BYRON.* This pamphlet is a metaphysical inquiry into the moral character of Lord Byron, with many of the sentiments of which we entirely disagree. It would be unjust to withhold from the author our praise for the ingenuity of some of his arguments and the vividness of his perception; for he seems to have found morality in productions that could never have been intended to convey moral instruction to mankind. In this liberal spirit, he discovers that in Don Juan there is a total freedom from grossness of sentiment and language." In his anxiety to promote the cause of morality, our author deplores the destruction of Lord Byron's autobiography, and calls poor Mr. Moore all kinds of uncivil names for having given the precious manuscript out of his possession; accusing him of baseness, treachery, and dishonour, faithlessness and ingratitude; as well as of having acted from paltry temporary considerations, in his concession to the friends of Lord Byron, as it regarded the posthumous production of which he was the depository. So far from sympathising with Mr. Simmons, in his rhapsodical invectives, we are of opinion, that Mr. Moore rendered an acceptable service, not only to Lord Byron's fame, but to society in general, in suppressing the noble poet's account of his own life, filled as it would seem to have been with personalities and indecencies, of the most disgusting description. To speak seriously, Mr. Simmons' pamphlet is a very flimsy and absurd attempt to inquire into the merits of a question which has long been decided. The Monody subjoined to the essay, contains some very pleasing lines, but is on the whole extremely rhapsodical and extravagant.
OLD ENGLISH PROVERBS, EXPLAINED AND ILLUSTRATED, BY WILLIAM CARPENTER.F This small, but neatly printed volume, contains a selection of English proverbs, from Ray, Dyke, Bailey, &c., with illustrations of their meaning and applicability. The author of these comments does not however give his readers credit for quite as much intelligence as we conceive to be the average possessed by all decent people at this time of day, for he is sometimes at much pains to explain what needs no explanation at all. The book is, however, on the whole, both useful and pleasant; and is calculated to form an acceptable present to young people. It is a cheap and pretty publication.
The Poor Man's FRIEND.I This is a very useful and entertaining little brochure, and forms the best exposition of the almost incredible enormities of William Cobbett, we eyer remember to have met with. There is scarcely an opinion on any subject of importance, in which the turn-coat of the Register has indulged, to which we are not here furnished with a counterpart. “ Out of thine own mouth shalt thou be judged," would have formed an appropriate motto for this pamphlet, the author of which has rendered an acceptable service to the poor desuded creatures, who have been cajoled by this most inconsistent, shameless, and unprincipled of politicians. Those merchants and manufacturers who are in the habit of employing large numbers of the lower orders, would do well to circulate the “Poor Man's Friend” among their dependants. The exposure of old Cobbett's tricks is so complete, that it can hardly fail of producing a very sensible effect in the minds of his admirers, if any yet remain to him.
* An Inquiry into the Moral Character of Lord Byron. By J. W. Simmons. Cochran, pp. 98. + Old English Proverbs, Explained and Illustrated, by W. Carpenter, 24mo. Booth.
I The Poor Man's Friend; or, the Companion of the Working Classes : being the system of moral and political philosophy, laid down by W, Cobbett. Stedman, pp. 32.