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IN FOOLSCAP OCTAVO,
SCENES AND HYMNS OF LIFE;
A VOLUME OF SACRED POETRY.
JOHN NAPIER OF MERCHISTON,
ILLUSTRATIVE OF THE HISTORY OF SCOTLAND AND OF SCIENCE,
39!!COMPILED FROM HIS FAMILY PAPERS, AND OTHER ORIGINAL SOURCES.
LINEAGE, LIFE, AND WRITINGS,
BY FELICIA HEMANS,
IN ONE VOLUME, QUARTO,
BY MARK NAPIER, Esq.
ON THE 25TH MARCH WILL BE PUBLISHED, IN 8vo,
VOL. I. PART I.
NEW STATISTICAL ACCOUNT OF SCOTLAND,
UNDER THE SUPERINTENDENCE OF
A COMMITTEE OF THE SOCIETY FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF THE CLERGY.
It is expected that the WORK will not exceed Ten Volumes, Octavo. Each Volume will consist of Three Parts; one Part to be published each alternate month. Subscriptions to be intimated to the Publisher, Mr BLACKWOOD, George Street, Edinburgh, and to all the other Booksellers in town and country,
an Eidolon begotten by the imagination on the air of night, or some night-like day, and is visible but to his own frightened father. Now, Achilles was an Apparition; and his seer was a blind old man, with a front like Jove's, and a forehead like Olympus. "All power was given him in that dreadful trance;" and Beauty and Terror accompanied the Destroyer. He haunted Homer, who no longer knew that he had himself created the sublimest of all Phantoms. But the Muse gave the maker command over his creature ; and, at the waving of his hand, the imaginary Goddess-born came and went obedient, more magnificent than any shadowy form that at the bidding of sunlight stalks along mountains into an abisme of clouds.
THE Iliad was written by Homer. Will Wolf and Knight tell us how it happened that all the heroic strains about the war before Troy, poured forth, as they opine, by many bards, regarded but one period of the siege? By what divine felicity was it that all those sons of song, though apart in time and place, united in chanting the wrath of Achilles? The poem is one-like a great wood, whose simultaneous growth overspreads a mountain. Indeed one mighty poem, in process of time, moulded into form out of separate fragments, composed by a brotherhood of bards-not even coeval-may be safely pronounced au impossibility in nature.
Achilles was not the son of many sires; nor was the part he played written for him by a succession of "eminent hands," all striving to find fit work for their common hero. He is not a creature of collected traditions. He stands there-a single conception-in character and in achieve ment; his absence is felt like that of a thunder cloud withdrawn behind a hill, leaving the air still sultry; his presence is as the lightning in sudden illumination glorifying the whole field of battle. Kill, bury, and forget him, and the Iliad is no more an Epic.
No two men at the same time ever yet saw a ghost; because a ghost is
VOL. XXXV, NO. CCXVII.
The Odyssey-also and likewise -was written by Homer, and the proof lies all in one word-Ulysses.
There he is-the self-same being as in the Iliad, and the birth of one brain. Had Homer died the day he said, " And thus they celebrated the obsequies of Hector the Tamer-ofHorses," before no mortal eye would have stood on the threshold of his own hall, pouring out from his quiver all the arrows at his feet, that vision of a ragged beggar, suddenly transfigured into an Avenger more glorious far than Apollo's self trans
fixing the Python,-for Laertiades stretched along his ancestral floor the whole serpent brood.
The opening of the Iliad is very simple-and so is the opening of the Odyssey-and both openings areyou will agree with us in thinking -sublime. In the one you are brought in a moment into the midst of heaven-sent death threatening the annihilation of a whole host; and, in pacifying Apollo, Agamemnon incenses Achilles, whose wrath lowers calamity almost as fatal as the visitation of the Plague. Men's minds are troubled-there is debate of doom in Heaven-nation is enraged against nation-and each trusts to its auxiliar gods. In the other there is no din below-the earth is silentand you hear not the sea. Corn grows where Troy-Town stood and you feel that Achilles is dust. All the chiefs who fought there and fell not-as Sotheby solemnly
His daughter there the sorrowing chief reclaims,
and there is an almost melancholy peace. There is mysterious mention of shipwreck on account of sin-and one guiltless and great Survivor is spoken of and then namedwho is to take the place in our imaginations of all the other heroes living or dead-affectingly named-for he has been and is to be a Sufferer"All but Ulysses!" And shall the Celestial Synod care for that One Man! Aye, Minerva says to Jove,
"With bosom anguish-rent I view
In yonder woodland isle, the central boss
And ever with smooth spirit, insidious
To wean his heart from Ithaca, meantime
At last relent? Hath not Ulysses oft
With victim's slain amid Achaia's fleet
At once we love the Man of whom the Muse is to sing-longing for his home-his wife-and his son-and pitied at last by Jove, at the intercession of Minerva, because of his piety. That she should fly to Ithaca, and that Hermes should wing his way to the Isle of Secrecy-on behalf of Ulysses-seems demanded of the justice of heaven. And simple as all this is-we said it was sublime Dwell free from battle and the ocean for our sympathies are already
"At home once more
"A good man struggling with the storms of fate."
Ulysses longs for Ithaca-but knows not what may have passed, or may be passing there-if Penelope and Telemachus be alive or dead. All we are told is, that year after year he has been lamenting for his native Isle-sighing for a sight of its ascending smoke, ere he dies-unforgetful of Ithaca even in Calypso's arms.
How finely Sotheby has given Minerva's "alighting," and the sudden shewing of the scene-the first sight of which reveals to us all the lawless life of the Suitors, and the evils to which the kingless Island has been so long a prey! We are at once in the heart of it all-and the thought comes across us in the midst of the revelry, "if Ulysses were here!"
"Then on her feet her golden sandals laced,
Then downward flew from steep Olympus' height,
Then clasp'd her hand, received the brazen spear,
"Hail! stranger-welcome-now the banquet share,
"He spake and at the word, the blue eyed Maid
He fix'd the lance, where, ranged in order, stood
And youths oft crown'd their goblets o'er and o'er,
Telemachus is no favourite with many critics. But we hope you admire and love the Princely Boy-for
he was assuredly a great favourite with Homer. So well did Homer know his worth, that he is at no great
pains to describe his character. He puts him, however, into some situations that serve to shew what is in him—and he behaves, we think, like heir-apparent to the throne. Here he allows the dicers to shake their elbows undisturbed-in their pastimes perhaps playing for the Queen. But he is picturing in his mind another kind of game-in which his father will play the Lion, and he the Lion's Whelp. Mentes, the leader of the Taphian Band, though no vulgar stranger, is disregarded by the Suitors, heralds, and menials-but how courteous is the Prince! "Manners maketh the man," and Telemachus, we feel, will be a hero. He takes not his guest into some nook or corner, to question him of his Sire--but places him on a stately seat, with a footstool," and near it drew his own resplendent throne." Let all the Suitors behold them two in conversenor dare to intrude upon their privacy-apart but open-and confidential during the measure preluding the Poet-Laureate's song. Minerva must have been pleased with such graceful and dignified reception -and how wisely does she insinuate into his heart, by half-truth and half fable, hopes even of his sire's return! True that Telemachus speaks like one that will not be comforted; but his looks belie his words, for we see his face brightening as he listens to the stranger's counsel. Who does not see that he believes his father will return, as Minerva, after foretelling that return, says,
"But this I urge-now truly this declare, Art thou, for such thou seem'st, Ulysses' heir?
sures me that I am the son of Ulysses-but I know it not." In this, says Pope, "there seems something very shocking,"-but as Minerva approved of it-and said cheeringly, "heaven shall one day grace thee, not nameless, nor of a nameless race, sprung from Penelope,”there can be no doubt that it was the answer usually returned to such a question, in that simple age, a sort of apophthegm, that conveyed no imputation on any mother's fidelity to her husband, but, on the contrary, entire reliance on every mother's truth. That Telemachus in this conversation expresses no tenderness for his mother, has been foolishly said to shew a want of due filial atfection. But he knew she was pretty well, up-stairs-while he feared his father was dead or in misery-and that was the thought that wrung his heart. It would have been exceeding silly to begin puling about Penelope to a person who was not much troubling his head about her
but who had paid her, nevertheless, a high and just compliment. There can be no doubt that he loved and honoured her-but he was now in his twentieth year-and at that age sons are shy of seeming before strangers too fond of their mothers-nay even before their mothers themselves-especially when surrounded by suitors. But hear him on his
"Once I had hope while here my sire remained,
That wealth and virtue had our house sustained;
Thy features such, thy eyes so beaming bright,
Such as the chief oft towered before my sight, Ere with their bravest heroes, Argos' boast,
The Warrior moor'd his fleet on Phrygia's coast."
Pallas was not a goddess addicted to the complimentary-and she loved Ulysses too well to be easily satisfied with his son. But she was satisfied with his beaming eyes-nor at all dissatisfied with his answer about his mother, though it has given serious offence in certain quarters, not in the contemplation of Telemachus. The Prince said, "my mother as
But heaven, devising ill, not this designed,
And left his fate obscurest, 'mid mankind; Nor could bis death so sharply have impressed
The sting of sorrow in my filial breast, If, with his brave compeers, in Phrygia slain,
Or, 'mid his friends from Troy returned again.
Then all the Greeks had raised his funeral mound,
And by his father's fame the son renowned.
But him the Harpies from the light of day Unknown, unseen, unheard, have swept away."
The noble boy listens with delight to the recital of his Father's