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Frenchman, knowing the circumstances, would consider such a victory as this a matter of extraordinary exultation?
Even if the successful American cruisers had captured ships equal to themselves in size and force, the simple result would have been, that the United States had proved capable of equipping some eight or ten sloops and frigates, any one of which was superior in discipline and efficiency to the average of ships of their class in a navy of near six hundred sail! No seaman, we are sure, will deny the force of this argument. Suppose that a war were to break out with France, what would be said of a French general who should claim a superiority in personal prowess for his countrymen, because a dozen maitres-d'armes, picked out of his whole army, had killed in single combat an equal number of British recruits?
When we see the Americans, in time of war, not sending out their cruisers singly to prey upon merchantmen, or pick off inferior vessels, but victorious in equal conflicts, and fitting out fleets capable of protecting their coasts from insult and their harbours from blockade,-then, and not till then, shall we acquiesce in Mr Cooper's presumptuous declaration, that it is not 'improbable the battle for the mastery of the seas will have to be fought over again,' (vol. ii. p. 556.)
We cannot conclude this article without emphatically disclaiming all intention of unduly depreciating Mr Cooper's merits, or of finding more fault with his work than is absolutely necessary to vindicate the credit of the British navy. We trust we shall never give vent to our disapprobation of the feeling with which Mr Cooper too obviously regards the English nation, by such an illiberal affectation of contempt for his talents as we have lately remarked with regret in some of our contemporaries. We recognise and respect the literary station occupied by the author of the Pilot' and the Prairie;' and it is because we do so, that we have offered that reply to his assertions which we refused to those of certain bombastic American histories, published several years ago under the first excitement of success. We trust that we have done sufficient justice to the merits of the present work, to show that none of its mistatements have so irritated our prejudices as to make us unable to appreciate the abilities. of the author; and we can sincerely assure our readers, that we should have felt far greater pleasure in our present task, had our duty urged us no farther. But it has long been too evident that certain real or fancied mortifications undergone by Mr Cooper in his experience of English society, and publicly complained of, by him, with more bitterness than dignity, in a late work, have created in his mind much strong prejudice against this country;
and this has, no doubt, been exasperated by the unsparing ridicule which its injudicious display has provoked from the English press. We hope that this morbid resentment, so unworthy of the talents of the American writer, may yet be eradicated from his feelings. Its existence must necessarily be a source of regret to those who are its objects, and cannot but be deeply injurious to his own personal as well as literary reputation.
With equal sincerity, we express our hopes that none of the remarks which we have felt ourselves compelled to make upon Mr Cooper's history, will be thought to spring from a wish to undervalue the merits of the American navy. We readily acknowledge the gallantry and nautical skill so frequently displayed by their officers in the combats of the late war; and we are happy to recognise among them a high degree of that enthusiastic esprit-de-corps, and that nice sense of professional honour, the effects of which have been so long and so beneficially felt in the naval service of Great Britain. We are much mistaken if the brave men who opposed us in battle twenty years ago, entertain any feeling towards the British navy except the respect due to honourable rivals; and we are certain that they would be the first to despise the assistance of prejudiced arguments and partial statements. It is this confidence in the liberal feeling of the American nation in general, and their navy in particular, which encourages us to hope that no part of the contents of this article will be deemed inconsistent with the respect which we entertain for both. We believe that this feeling is reciprocal. Each nation probably assigns the first place to its own naval officers, and we trust it will be long before either has reason to repent this well-earned confidence; but neither, we are certain, is inclined to deny all due honour to the defenders of their relation and ally. To create permanent hostility between two nations which entertain this generous feeling of mutual respect, would require far stronger agents than the sneers of flippant novelists, the invectives of interested partisans, or the misrepresentations of prejudiced historians.
ART. IV-Poems by Mrs Boddington. 8vo. London: 1839.
HE recent death of the amiable authoress imparts an additional and melancholy interest to this pleasing volume, the last production of her pen. Even trifles acquire an importance when associated with the memory of the dead; and many of the fugitive poems and occasional verses which it contains, trifling and unimportant in themselves, will now acquire a value in the eyes of friends, as simple and natural records of the kindly feelings, the graceful tastes and sympathies of the accomplished
The appearance of a volume of poems by one who had already shown herself to be a poet in prose, was of itself calculated to excite some interest. When we noticed, some years ago, the Reminis'cences of the Rhine and of a Corner of Italy,' we were struck with the truth and felicity with which every scene was described. The writer seemed to render back the very spirit of the spot, so as to awaken in the reader the very associations of which the spectator would have been conscious in viewing the scene itself. In this insight into the spirit of nature, by which not only its leading features are delineated, but the finer play of its expression is arrested and reflected, a certain portion of poetical power is implied; and when we felt how skilfully, in her Reminiscences of the Rhine,' the writer had embodied the gay and mingled associations derived from legendary lore, picturesque beauty, and fertility, which are called up by the banks of that exulting and abounding river;'-how much, again, of this species of local truth distinguished her portraits of the harder and grander features of Swiss scenery, where Nature cuts with a sharper chisel' than under the soft sky of Italy ;-her sparkling and bustling Italian pictures, in which the reader felt himself involved in the whirl and confusion of the narrow streets, littered with fruit, macaroni, and vegetables, or stumbling among portable cookshops, puppet-shows, and itinerant musicians; or some of those charming landscapes, like the sunset near Gersau, describing the approach of still evening on the lake of Lucerne,-we could not but form the impression that the writer of such descriptions was a poet.
Nor was this impression diminished by her more recent 'Sketches from the Pyrenees,' in which the distinctive character and associations of that wild region of mountain grandeur, under all diversities of aerial effects, were depicted with the same intensíty and the same artist-like breadth of light and shadow-the same
harmony and keeping in the colouring, with perhaps a greater unity of feeling than the first work had possessed. The reader seemed to feel with her the fresh breath of the mountain air—to experience the healthful elasticity of spirits imparted by those elevated regions to catch, through rolling and shifting mists, the bright sun above, or the blue and far-stretching valleys below to see the storm come travelling up the mountain side-to look down with terror into vast chasms, with still, black, lakes sleeping beneath, and eagles screaming overhead,-in short, to enjoy again a summer of romance in the Pyrenees. As circumstances prevented our noticing this volume when it appeared, we cannot resist the temptation of exhibiting a few short specimens of the mastery which the writer exhibited, in delineating the features of nature at once firmly, graphically, and poetically; and in connecting these with reflections, at once just in themselves and happily expressed. The following is a propos of the serene and rich scenery of Touraine, watered by the Loire:
Moonlight is the true setting off of calm, broad, silvery scenery, where a river forms the great feature, and the dependent landscape is just enough indented to throw down shadows on its lucid bosom : the wide blue sky so full of hope, the earth of peacefulness, the long track of light, compact yet broken, marking its starry way on the waters, and the tall spire rising from its dark base, and growing gleamy in the moonshine, are sweet ingredients, of which the mind makes magic.'
She thus describes twilight among the valleys of Cauterets :
A fine tone of solemnity in the deep valleys, half an hour before absolute night, when there are no shadows, but a deep and universal tint spread over the face of nature. Darkness, gathering not from one settled point, but coming, as age does on the human face, imperceptibly yet palpably. Trees growing indistinct, and taking fantastic shapes, houses looking like rocks, rocks like castles; but as we come up into the last light of the western sky, the tender gauzy lilac, how beautiful it is! and the stars that tremble through it coming out one by one, until the firmament is studded over, and then the pale lilac growing paler, and melting into the true starlight blue-the blue of heaven.'
What a feeling of loneliness and seclusion does the following description of a mountain lake leave upon the mind!—
Descending to the lake,' (the Lac de Gaube,) it becomes wild and dreamy like a Highland superstition. The Vignemate, furrowed with glaciers, closes the gorge, and, though still at a considerable distance, appears to rise from the very borders of the Lac de Gaube itself-a mountain lake of wild and melancholy aspect, still, and pure, and blue, as if it had never been rippled by net or oar, or stirred by wind. A
fisherman's hut on a gentle swell of green land, and a fairy lawn at the southern end, with a few trees upon it, alone break the precipitous lines that descend from the tops of the mountains, and hide themselves in the waters. In some places there is no room even for a footpath, nor sign of life any where but on the spot before the hut. No oar glimmers on the bosom of the lake, no bird flies over it, no summer leaf rustles on its bare shore; and yet, notwithstanding its cold glaciers, and the bleak mountains, and the poverty of vegetation, it is a gentle rather than a savage scene. The influence of a southern climate is sensibly felt; it is visible in the colouring of the air-in the lights that fall upon the water. As we returned homewards through the pine-woods, we stopped to look back upon the great lake: it was in shadow, and evening had already dropped upon its mountains, while a valley opening from the west crossed them with a line of light that had a whole day of sunshine in it. The contrast was exquisite; so were the lights and shadows that fell upon the pines: the ground was covered with wild pinks and other flowers, and the air full of sweetness. There were no birds: as evening came I missed their whistle, the sweet Ave Maria of the desert: brakes and bushes, to build and warble in, abound; but they have no tenants.
There is something inexpressibly solemn in the stillness of a wood at the close of day; and the pine-tree, which has no light leaves to tremble as the breeze passes over it, and whose stationary darkness doubles that of evening, has something visionary in its gloom that works magically on the fancy. The air, the light, the shadows that pass over the face of the heavens, seem subject to some secret and mystical influence; it speaks in the passing wind; it descends from the mountains with the last beams of the setting sun.'
One other short and fanciful passage on the character and associations of trees, and we have done.
There is something so solemn and monumental in the aspect of a pine-tree, that when I find a few planted together in a solitary spot, it seems to me like a woodland cemetery, where the hunter whose chase is over, or the wanderer who loved to repose beneath their shade, has found a resting-place. Trees are powerful speakers: the single pine, or melancholy cypress, has the solemnity of the grave it shadows in its silent speech it tells of the dead below-of the hand that found a mournful pleasure in planting it. The light acacia waves its beautiful boughs, to let you know it is a pleasure garden or a summer bower which its bright leaves decorate. The oak is ancestral, heraldic, feudal from head to foot, and would talk old castle legends, and feats of noble hunting and moonlight revelry, by the hour, if you would but stop and listen to them. The rooky elm is a rustic lover's story-book, full of twilight meetings, hand graspings, honest vows, and "if you love me as I love you" poesy. The palm transports you to the Georgian vales in whose deep shades the royal Abras wooed the wise and tender Abra. The pear-tree brings you back to the cottage wall; the apple puts in its word, with a long score of schoolboy larcenies,-all speak, from the stately royalties of the forest