Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

and honour. On their visit to Wevere, the brother of Tetorg, one of the most civilized and enlightened of the chiefs, their baggage was inunediately put under the verandah of the storehouse, and tạbbooed. And, says the Writer, • though our guns and powder-flasks, which to them were the greatest temptation in the world, lay at the mercy of the natives, not a single article was lost, nor did any one of them attempt to enter our teut without permission.' p. 29.

It is not, however, quite clear in this case, whether the property would have remained untouched, had it not been consecrated or tabbooed. Superstition here came to the aid of honesty. But the hospitality of the chiefs was honourably manifested in taking this method of securing the baggage of their guests. The power of the tabboo was very usefully manifested on another occasion. When the Prince Regent schooner anchored in the river of Shukehanga, so many war canoes, filled with men, surrounded her, that the commander, whose crew consisted only of nine persons, was not a little alarmed at his unprotected situation.'

But his apprehensions were soon removed by a chief named Moodooi, who came upon deck, and tabboord the vessel, or made it a crime for any one to ascend the side without permission. The injunction was strictly attended to during her stay in the harbour; while Mowhenna, the chief of the tribe in the immediatę neighbourhood of the Heads, daily presented the people with several baskets of potatoes, and extended the same liberality to the boats of the Dromedary, when they accidentally went on shore. p. 88.

The people of Shukehanga are represented as apparently of more industrious habits, milder manners, and far more under the control of their chiefs, than those at the Bay of Islands.

During the stay of Capt. Cruise in the Island, the Rey. Mr. Marsden made an excursion in a canoe up the Wydematta, intending, after navigating that river as far as possible, to walk to the Bay of Islands. He arrived safe at Parro Bay, having been twenty-three days upon his journey from the river Thames to the Bay of Islands. During that time

he had suffered much fatigue and many privations, but had been • universally well received by the different tribes he encoun• tered. The protection which the Missionaries enjoyed was nevertheless considered by our Author as very precarious, being maintained at the expense of much forbearance and humiliation. This opinion, subsequent events have in part justified; yet still, they bave been able hitherto to stand their ground, and some of the natives are stated in the recent Vol. XXI. N. S.

N

accounts, to manifest a very favourable disposition. An interesting anecdote is given in the notes to the present volume, of fidelity in a native domestic. Mr. Hall, une of the settlers sent out by the Church Missionary Society, had resided on the banks of the Wytangy about six months, when some of the natives one evening suddenly rushed into his house, knocked down both him and his wife, plundered him of every thing they could lay hold of, and then departed. The cause of this outrage does not appear.

• When he had sufficiently recovered his senses to see the extent of his calamity, his infant and only child was missing. A native girl was nursing it at the time the house was attacked, and, alarmed for the safety of her charge, she covered it with her mat, and crossing the Wytangy in a canoe, concealed herself in the woods. At the end of two days, when every thing was quiet, she brought back the child in perfect safety. She still lives with Mr. Hall, and when Europeans visit his house, they generally testify their sense of her fidelity by making her some trifling present.' p. 311.

Two years and a half after this, the settlement at Kiddeekiddee appears to have remained undisturbed, and Mr. Leigh, a missionary sent out by the Wesleyan Society, found good wheat, barley, oats, beans, peas, and vegetables of all kinds bere in abundance. Capt. Cruise gives a very favourable character of one of the natives, named Wheety, of whose steady fidelity they had repeated proof. When the ship got under weigh, Wheety came upon deck, and took leave individually of almost every one in the ship.

• He had been so general a favourite, that there were few from whom he had not received a present ; and now, rich in his own estimation and that of his countrymen, he expressed his intention of going back to Shukehanga, of building himself a house as much like the Europeans as he could, and of living in their manner. He had long laid aside his native customs and prejudices, and often remarked that New Zealand would one day be the White mens' country.' pp. 275, 6,

If the present unpretending volume has not added much to our information respecting the inhabitants of New Zealand, yet, we are not inclined to depreciate any work which gives us, as this does, the result of personal observation. At the same time, had the metereological observations been thrown into a table at the end, the substance of the Journal might have been comprised, without lessening either its value or interest, in a volume of half the dimensions.

Art VII. The Duke of Mercia, an historical Drama. 'The Lamen

tation of Ireland : and other Poems. By Sir Aubrey de Vere

Hunt, Bart. 8vo. pp. 292. Price 10s. 6d. London. 1823. ON the first appearance of a new candidate for literary

honours, it is the readiest, if not the fairest method of trying his merits, to compare him with his predecessors; but, in a second publication, he is liable to be compared with himself. The Public are, perhaps, somewhat unreasonable in demanding that he should not merely equal, but surpass the maiden effort of his pen. Encores are dangerous experiments for the fame of the performer; and though, in literary performances, the subject is changed, the voice remains the same. Yet what successful poet ever had the pusillanimity or the magnanimity-call it which you will-to content himself, like Orator Hamilton of single-speech memory, with the fame of a first production ?

Of Sir Aubrey's former volume, our readers will have in recollection, that we reported in very favourable terms; nor are we in the least disposed to retract or qualify the commendation bestowed upon “ Julian the Apostate," although its Author must prepare himself to find that the Public will take their estimate of his talents from the average as it were of the two works; and if the second production be not equal, it will consequently lower the calculation. By this process the fame of Lord Byron has undergone a very considerable reduction, his latter works being so much subtracted from the value of his earlier works, on which they are a dead weight.

At the time that Julian fell into our hands, an historical tragedy of any dramatic merit was something new and rare. With the exception of Mr. Milman's Fazio and Lord Byron's didactic tragedies, there had been nothing of excellence, we believe, of this kind since Miss Baillie's plays on the passions. Within the past eighteen months, however, there has been an amazing supply of this species of poetry, and the rival and clashing claims of the competitors would not be very easily adjusted. As for those who have avowedly written for the stage, we leave them to the decision of that tribunal to which they have chosen to appeal ;-though a poet might as well carry his cause into the Court of Chancery, as regards either the competency of his judges, or the chances of a hearing. The lawyers may be indeed better critics than the players, and equity would be more likely to be obtained from a master than a manager. The folly of writing for the stage inflicts, however, its own punishment, as it infallibly vitiates the whole east and character of the composition as poetry.

N 2

[ocr errors]

But there have been put forth some two or three tragedies, which, though not entirely to our taste, will require more distinct notice at some future period. We must confine ourselves at present to the volume before us, and shall enable our readers to judge how far the Author has supported the brilliant promise of his " Julian the Apostate.”

The subject ought not to be considered as ill-chosen, unless the prejudice which renders it unattractive, iş reason good against the choice: it is taken from English-or, must we say from Saxon history, the principal personages in the drama be. ing Edmund Ironside, and his brothers, and Canute the Dane. Now, we know not how it is, but these our barbarian progenitors excite extremely little interest either in or out of history. Mr. Bowles has lately fallen into “ the grave of the last Saxon, and we would have his juniors take warning by his fate. Even the Author of Ivanhoe has failed, we think, in the attempt to make his English readers better acquainted, or more sociable with their Saxon and Norman ancestors. The young Jewess is the heroine ; for the name of Cour de Lion himself is pronounced with more respect by the Mahomedans at this day, than by his countrymen. There is, moreover, a finical distaste for the good old Saxon names, which has been caught from the French. Mr. Bowles was afraid to use the name Magnus, and so substituted that of Marcus, as he said, for euphony's sake, though nothing in this respect was gained by it. Sir Aubrey has distributed among his personages, the names of Edric, Uthred, Edwy, Algitha, Ethelmar, Anlaffe, Gothmund, Sigiferth,—which have, it must be confessed, a somewhat uncouth appearance in the groupe, but are surely as euphonous and fit for poetical use as Frederick, Arthur, Edward, Hamlet, or Macbeth; while in Edmund, and Emma, and Eustace, history has furnished him with names which rival any of the favourités of verse. The poem opens with what the Author entitles • Introductory Scenes,' in which the old Danish king Sweyn (who does not appear in the subsequent parts of the poem) lands with his son Canute and his train, on the coast of Cornwall,

Timeless to save, yet timely to avenge.' Gunilda, the daughter of Sweyn, meets them, in a state of distraction, occasioned by the butchery of her husband and children by the Saxons, and lives only to tell her wrongs. Part the first opens with a scene in the Palace of London, in which Edmund Ironside announces to the assembled nobles, that the King his father had appointed himself and Edric, his brotherin-law, joint regents of the kingdom. This intimation is received with great dissatisfaction, so far as relates to the appointment of Edric, whose character is' regarded with welltounded distrust;

[graphic]

A man of à most admirable presence,

Subtle of wit, and eloquent of speech,
Of station high, most noble in alliance,
Second to none for riches, and, with all,
Unbending in his selfishness; cool, crafty,
Scorner of truth, heartless, inexorable,

In fine, a man without a conscience.' Edric enters unperceived, so as to overhear part of his charac ter, but smothers his resentment. In the following scene, his ambitious designs are developed, in a conference with the Earl of Cornwall, his friend and partizan, who whispers him that

There are among our nobles, men who recognise
Queen Emina's beauty and Duke Edric's wisdom,

And may be wrought upon to wish them mated.' In Part the Second, Edmund discovers to his friends, and to Edric, an attachment which he has formed to Algitha, the ward only, as be supposes, but, as it appears, the young wife also of a Danish noble. Edwy, his brother, has fallen in love with the same lady; and Edric contrives that they shall meet, in the hope that a quarrel may ensue between the rivals. The issue is, that Sigiterth gets killed by Edwy; Edwy is severely, but not fatally wounded by his brother, and the young widow is led off by the conqueror. We cannot say that these scenes are either very pleasingly or very vigorously written. The language of Edwy is offensively coarse, and the cool atrocity with which he first assassinates Sigiferth, and then attacks his own brother, is involuntarily resented by the reader; nor can the Poet escape the charge of being an accessary before the fact, for he ought not to have wantonly married Sigiferth to his ward, when he knew the bloodshed it must indispensably cost to make Algitha a widow. The Second Part closes with a Council of State, in which Edmund peremptorily declares his determination to put an end to the negotiations with the Danes, and to take the field on the morrow.

In the first scene of Part the Third, Edric makes his suit to Queen Emma, who coquettes with him, but intends to make a conquest of the royal Dane, if she can; in which of course she succeeds, and Edric is, in the sequel, contumeliously dismissed. In the mean time, the battle of Ashdown is fought, in which Edwy and Northumberland are slain through the treachery of Edric, and Edmund escapes only by flight. The cause of the battle is not, however, so clearly made out as it might have been, and Dane is opposed to Dane in the two armies some

« AnteriorContinuar »