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ART. II. A Sicilian Story, with Diego de Montilla, and other Poems. By BARRY CORNWALL. London, Ollier, 1820. 12mo. pp. 177.
THE reception which Mr. Cornwall's "Dramatic Scenes, and other Poems" met with, at their appearance, must have been very gratifying to the feelings of a youthful poet. We had intended noticing them; but circumstances at the time prevented till we thought it unnecessary to repeat the encomiums, which daily, weekly, and monthly crities conspired to lavish on them. These, no doubt, have encouraged him so early once more to tempt the award " of gods, men, and columns ;" nor do we conceive he runs much hazard in lessening his reputation, by this, his second attempt. Should the account we give of it be short, and the extracts few, we think they will nevertheless sufficiently answer our design-that of rendering our readers impatient until they possess the little volume itself.
The first, or the Sicilian Tale, is unquestionably the finest poem it contains, and possesses such tenderness of feeling, and beauty of description, that we are at a loss where to begin, or rather where to conclude the extracts we intend giving. This story
"A story (still believed through Sicily,)
Is told of one young girl who chose to die
is founded upon a tale in the Decameron of Boccacio, and finely illustrates the sentiments with which it commences, that
Which ther who love, and have been lov'd,
And she-but what of her, his chosen bride,
His won whom he gazed in secret pride,
And loved almost too much for happiness?
Enough to say that she was born to bless.
Guido, become the secret husband of Isabel, is slain by her brother Leoni, who is averse to their connexion, and who inters him in the midst of a solitary wood. Having appeared in a vision to his beloved Isabel, she, following his instructions, discovers his body-when, to give it in the words of the author,
"She took the heart, and washed it in the wave,
Such as he loved to scent in happier hours,
And 'neath the basil tree she scoop'd a grave,
And therein placed the heart, to common earth
Doom'd, like a thing that owned not human birth."
This tree, watered by her tears, and nursed "as a mother guards her child," flourished exceedingly," and stood unequalled in the land," till her brother,
The rest of this affecting story, referring to the distraction which seized Isabel, may easily be imagined from the lines that follow; for
"That day the green tree withered, and she knew
And then she felt that she was quite alone
In the wide world.".
The only other poem in the volume, of which we shall speak, is "The Falcon," the outline of which is also to be found in the Decameron. Nor can we refrain extracting the second scene entire, as it displays such exquisite taste, both in conception and manner; while it will afford our readers a genuine specimen of the same author's "Dramatic Scenes," already mentioned. The subject may be related in the quotation which is given from the old version of Boccacio.
"Frederigo, of the Alberighi family, loved a gentlewoman, and was not requited with like love again. But by bountiful expenses, and ever liberal invitations, he wasted all his lands and goods, having nothing left him but a Hawk or Falcon. His unkind
mistress happeneth to come to visit him; and he, not having any other food for her dinner, made a dainty dish of his Falcon for her to feed on. Being conquered by this exceeding kind courtesie, she changed her former hatred towards him, accepting him as her husband in marriage, and made him a man of wealthy possessions."
BOCCACIO, (Old Translation,) Fifth Day, Novel 9.
Be satisfied, dear Madam, that I say it;
Gia. Nay, this is not like you.
Fred. Gracious lady,
Believe me not so poor; the bird is dead.
Madam, you came to visit me, to feast:
I had not one poor coin to purchase food.
To smile on one whom all the world aban-
Once I had been her lover, how sincère
My nature had not quite forgot its habits:
And send you fasting home? Your ser
Have scorned me. Lady, even then I
That I would feast you daintily. I did.
And 1 will swear thine eyes are like the
(They are, they are, but softer,) and thy shape
Fine as the vaunted nymphs' who, poets feign'd,
Dwelt long ago in woods of Arcady.
How fondly will we pass our lives together; And wander, heart-link'd, thro' the busy world
Like birds in eastern story.
Gia. Oh! you rave.
Fred. I'll be a miser of thee; watch
(Thou hast already with thine eyes) and bring
My load of love and lay it at thy feet. -Oh! ever while those floating orbs look bright
Shalt thou to me be a sweet guiding light.
Once, the Chaldean from his topmost
Did watch the stars, and then assert their
And in the beauty and the spell that lies
'Till in the white depths of thy breast
And in thy polish'd forehead, and thy hair
Heap'd in thick tresses on thy shoulders
In thy calm dignity; thy modest sense;
On me, so poor,) shall lie my argument.
We confess, we have been much delighted with the contents of Mr. Cornwall's little volume, which manifests, like its precursor, much tenderness of spirit, delicacy of feeling, correctness of taste, and beauty of imagery; and these are embodied with the same pure and graceful form, that at first soothed the critics' asperity, and gave Mr. Cornwall, in their opinion, such a high degree of superiority above his fellows-we mean those, with whom, (at the risk of vitiating his taste,) he deigns to associate. There is no writer of the present day, that we are acquainted with, who makes so near an approach to the pure and natural style of our elder dramatists. This encourages us to hope something still better from him, under whatever name he may choose to assume, (for we are assured that Barry Cornwall is but a nomme de guerre.) He has avoided what we conceived to be a partial blemish in his first work-something like affectation in his diction-by coming too near the barriers of unmeaning simplicity. And, in conclusion, we would only wish to guard him against allowing himself to be, (as one or two instances betray a tendency to such a fate,) too servile an imitator of the style, subject, or manner of any particular poet. There are works which stand alone, and may not be successfully copied; and failure in imitation ought not to be look