صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

tied with a black ribband about his neck, and kiss'd it twice. --Here, Billy, said hc,--the boy flew across the room to the bed side,--and falling down upon his knee, took the ring in his hand, and killed it too,--then kissed his father, and sat down upon the bed and wept.

“ I wish, faid my uncle Toby, with a deep figh, I wish, Trim, I was asleep.

“ Your honour, replied the corporal, is too much concerned ;-shall I pour your honour out a glass of sack to your pipe? - Do, Trim, said my uncle Toby.

" I remember, said my uncle Toby, sighing again, the ftory of the ensign and his wife, with a circumstance his modesty omitted ;-and particularly well that he, as well as the, upon fome account or other, (I forget what) was universally pitied by the whole regiment; - but finish the story thou art upon. -'Tis finished already, said the corporal, - for I could stay no longer,- so wished his honour a good night: young Fever rösc from off the bed, and faw me to the bottom of the Itairs; and as we went down together, told me, they had come froin Ireland, and were on their route to join the regiment in Flanders.

But alas ! said the corpora',-the lieutenant's last day's march is over. Then what is to become of his poor boy? cried my uncle Toby.

“ It was to my uncle Toby's eternal honour, though I tell it only for the sake of those, who, when coop'd in betwixt a natural and a positive law, know not for their souls, which way in the world to turn themselves. That notwithstanding my uncle Toby was warmly engaged at that time in carrying on the fiege of Dendermond, parallel with the allies, who predsed theirs on so vigorously, that they scarce allowed him time to get his dinner that nevertheless he gave up Dendermond, though he had already made a lodgment upon the counterscarp,---and bent his whole thoughts towards the private distresses at the inn; and, except that he ordered the garder gate to be bolied up, by which he might be said to have turned the fiege of Dendermond into a blockade,-he left Dendermond to ittell, to be relieved or not by the French King, as the French King thought good ; and only considered how he himíelf should relieve the poor lieutenant and his son,

66 - That kind Being, who is a friend to the friendIefs, Mall recompense thee for this.

“ Thou

" Thou hast left this matter short, said my uncle Toby to the corporal, as he was putting him to bed, - and I wilk tell thee in what, Trim. In the first place, when thou madest an offer of my service to Le Fever, -as fickness and travelling are both expensive, and thou knoweft he was but a poor lieutenant, with a fon to subsist as well as himself, out of his pay, that thou didft not make an offer to him of my purse ; because, had he ftood in need, thou knowelt, Trim, he had been as welcome to it as myself. Your honour knows, faid the corporal, I had no orders. True, quoth my uncle Taby,—thou didft very right, Trim, as a soldier,but certainly very wrong as a man.

« In the second place, for which, indeed, thou hast the fame excuse, continued iny uncle Toby, when thou offered ft him whatever was in my house, thou shouldst have offered him my house too: A sick brother officer should have the best quarters, Trim, and if we had him with us, we could tend and look to him.

Thou art an excellent nurse thyself, Trim,--and what with thy care of him, and the old woman's, and his boy's, and mine together, we might recruit him again at once, and let him upon his legs.--

“ In a fortnight or three weeks, added my uncle Toby, smiling, he might march. He will never march, an' please your honour, in this world, said the corporal. He will march, said my uncle Toby, rising up from the side of the bed, with one shoe off. An' please your honour, said the corporal, he will never march, but to his grave. He fhall march, cried my uncle Toby, marching the foot which had a shoe on, though without advancing an inch, he shall march to his regiment. He cannot stand it, said the corporal. - He shall be supported, said my uncle Toby, -He'll drop at last, said the corporal, and what will become of his boy? He shall not drop, said my uncle Toby, firmly. A-well-o'day,—do what we can for him, faid Trim, maintaining his point, the poor soul will die.

He fhall not die, by G--! cried my uncle Toby. ! - 6 : The ACCUSING SPIRIT which flew up to heaven's chancery with the oath, blushed as he gave it in ;and the RECORDING ANGEL as he wrote it down, dropped a tear upon the word, and blotted it out for ever.

- My uncle Toby went to his bureau, put his purse into his breeches pocket, and having ordered the core

.or. D4

pora!

poral to go early in the morning for a physician, he went to bed, and fell asleep.

66 The sun looked bright the morning after, to every eye in the village but Le Fever's and his afflicted son's ; the hand of death press'd heavy upon his eye-lids, and hardly could the wheel at the cistern turn round its circle, when my uncle Toby, who had rose up an hour before his wonted time, entered the lieutenant's room, and without preface or apology, fat himself down upon the chair by the bed side, and independantly of all modes and customs, opened the curtain in the manner an old friend and brother officer would have done it, and asked him how he did, how he had rested in the night, what was his complaint, where was his pain,--and what he could do to help him and without giving him time to answer any one of the enquiries, went on and told him of the little plan which he had been concerting with the corporal the night before for him.

You shall go home directly, Le Fever, said my uncle Toby, to my house, and we'll send for a doctor to see what's the matter, and we'll have an apothecary; and the corporal shall be your nurse, and I'll be your servant, Le Fever.

- There was a frankness in my uncle Toby, not the effe&t of familiarity, but the cause of it, which let you at once into his soul, and shewed you the goodness of his nature; to this, there was something in his looks, and voice, and manner, superadded, which eternally beckoned to the unfortunate to come and take shelter under him ; so that before my uncle Toby had half finished the kind offers he was making to the father, had the son insensibly pressed up close to his knees, and had taken hold of the breast of his coat, and was pulling it towards him. The blood and spirits of Le Fever, which were waxing cold and now within him, and were retreating to their last citadel, the heart, rallied · back, the film forsook his eyes for a moment, he looked up wishfully in my uncle Toby's face, then cast a look upon his boy, and that ligament, fine as it was, was never broken.

". Nature instantly ebb'd again, the film returned to its place, the pulse flutter'd -stoppid- went onthrobb’

d s topp'd again- moved s topp'd : Tall I go on? Ño." : Such is' the affecting story of Le Fever ; who was attended by his son and uncle Toly, as chief mourners to the grave.

Since Since Mr. Sterne published his Sermons, we have been of opinion, that his excellence lay not so much in the humorous as in the pathetic; and in this opinion we have been confirmed by the above story of Le Fever. We appeal to the Heart of every reader whether our judgment is not right?

..La

Fingal. An ancient Epic Poem, in fix Books. Together with several other Poems, composed by Ofian, the Son of Fingal.

Transated from the Galic Language by James Macpherson. · 4to. Io s. 6d. in boards. Becket and De Hondt.

OTRANGE as it may feem, that an epic poem, com

posed in our own country, above fourteen hundred years ago, and handed down by tradition from the ancient bards, should not have made an earlier appearance in the English language, it had been yet stranger, if the present publication of lo uncommon a production had failed to engage the attention of the literary world. Its extraordinary mcrit, indeed, has not a little contributed to increase that admiration, which must be naturally excited by so great a curiosity. The sensible pleasure we ourselves received in the perusal, makes us readily subscribe to the universally-allowed merits of this poem; for which we think the public much obliged to the ingenious Editor, whose translation is very justly deemed a valuable acquisition to English poetry. We should be wanting, however, in a due regard both to our own character and the justice we owe to our readers, did we implicitly join in that excessive admiration, which, indiscriminately entertained, even for the best performances, is diametrically opposite to the candour of true criticism, and destructive of the very elements of literary composition. The noble Aights, and native excursions, of true genius are, indeed, frequently too excentric to be exactly measured by critical rules ; nor is it to be wished they should be too strictly subjected to such restraint: it is expedient, nevertheless, that the mechanism and execution of every considerable performance should be compared with that standard, and examined by those laws, which have, for many ages, been allowed to constitute the perfection of that peculiar species of writing, under the denomination of which such performance is presented to the world. Criticism degenerates, otherwise, into a servile echo of the leading voices of the times, and gives encouragement for every rising genius to indulge the luxuriance of his ima

gination, gination, at the hazard of being hurried, by the impetuofity of unbridled fancy, into bombast, extravagance, and absurdity. At the same time, the taste and judgment of the reader, misled by such general and undistinguishing applause, become gradually vitiated, and the very end and design of all

critical institution thereby totally fubverted. , .' Were we to judge from the many unsuccessful attempts that have been made by poets, in different ages, to reach the dignity and perfection of the Epopoeia, we should be apt to conclude it the most difficult, as well as the most perfect, fpecies of poetry. But though we should agree with the Sta.. gyrite, that an epic poem is inferior in excellence to a perfect tragedy, yet certain it is, the former requires such fuperior faculties of the human mind, as have been seldom found to correspond with the studies and inclinations of those who have undertaken fo arduous a task.

The Iliad of Homer, the father of heroic poesy, as it is the moft ancient, so it is universally allowed to be the moft perfect epic poem extant. It was, indeed, from an examination into the construction and execution of Homer's poems, and not from the efforts of intuitive genius, that Aristotle deduced those laws, which he has laid down as essential to the Epopæia. In admitting the justice of those laws, therefore, we do not implicitly subscribe to any abstract reasonings, founded on arbitrary assumptions, a priori, or to the mere ipfe dixit of the Stagyrite ; but to the propriety of those precepts, which he rationally deduced, a posteriori, from the approved practice of the Grecian bard, and in composing which

Nature and Homer were, he found, the fame. Some critics, from a superficial knowlege of these rules, have talked of them as if they related only to the form, and not the spirit, of poetry. This, however, is far from being the case ; and though we are not, as above hinted, so prejudiced in favour of the models of antiquity, as to pretend a poetical gening should servilely conform to them in the mere forms of composition, yet experience is strong on our fide, to prove, that such as deviate from those essential parts, which compose the sublime and perfect works of the ancients, will cver fall short of their perfection. If Ariofto has been censured by fome, for neglecting the established rules of Aristotle, and justified by others, as having a right to invent a new species of compofition, the critics on both fides the question may, nevertheless, have been right in their different opinions,

[ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »