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with tedious narrative in which Prologue plays dialogue with Dummy; and it avoids the worst of all critical faults, that of tediousness. Such as it is, Mason has adopted it in his Elfrida, without an attempt to disguise its manifest absurdity.'--p. 417.
We have put a few lines in this passage in italics, as involving in our judgment a very valuable hint on the theory of Greek tragedy. Not less truth of moral discernment is contained in the author's remarks on Evelina's speech to the Druids, in Caractacus.
• I know it well,
Of all his boast; indeed I marked it well,' &c.
• This is beautifully true to nature. Men are deceived in their judgments of others by a thousand causes, -by their hopes, their ambition, their vanity, their antipathies, their likes and dislikes, their party feelings, their nationality, but, above all, by their presumptuous reliance on the ratiocinative understanding, their disregard to presentiments and unaccountable impressions, and their vain attempts to reduce every thing to rule and measure. Women, on the other hand, if they be very women, are seldom deceived, except by love, compassion, or religious sympathy,—by the latter too often deplorably; but then it is not because their better angel neglects to give warning, but because they are persuaded to make a merit of disregarding his admonitions. The craftiest Iago cannot win the good opinion of a true woman, unless he approach her as a lover, an unfortunate, or a reli. gious confidant. Be it, however, remembered that this superior discernment in character is merely a female instinct, arising from a more delicate sensibility, a finer tact, a clearer intuition, and a natural abhorrence of every appearance of evil. It is a sense which only belongs to the innocent, and is quite distinct from the tact of experience. If, therefore, ladies without experience attempt to judge, to draw conclusions from premises, and give a reason for their sentiments, there is nothing in their sex to preserve them from error.'P. 438. In the author's general estimate of Mason's poetry we upon
the whole agree; though we cannot bring ourselves to rate the particular passages quoted in the life so highly as Mr. H. Coleridge is inclined to do. But the criticism on Congreve is, we think, excellent, both from its subtilty and its moderation. Speaking of "The Way of the World,' he says, –
"That very polish, that diligent selection and considerate collocation of words—that tiglit-lacing of sentences into symmetry-that exquisite propriety of each part and particle of the whole, which make "The Way of the World" so perfect a model of acuminated satire, detract more from scenic illusion than they add to histrionic effect. The dialogue of this play is no more akin to actual conversation than the quick step of an opera-dancer to the haste of pursuit or terror. No actor could give it the unpremeditated air of common speech. But there is another and more serious obstacle to the success of “ The Way of the World” as an acting play. It has no moral interest. There is no one person in the dramatis persone for whom it is possible to care. Vice may be, and too often has been, made interesting; but cold-hearted, unprincipled villany never can. The conduct of every character is so thoroughly and so equally contemptible, that however you suspend the moral codes of judgment, you cannot sympathise in the success, or exult in the defeat, of any.' - p. 688.
And Congreve is summed up in these words :
• From a rapid survey of his life and character, he seems to have been one of those indifferent children of the earth whom the world cannot hate ; who are neither too good nor too bad for the present state of existence, and who may fairly expect their portion here. The darkest—at least the most enduring-stain on his memory is the immorality of his writings ; but this was the vice of the time, and his comedies are considerably more decorous than those of his predecessors. They are too cold to be mischievous ; they keep the brain in too incessant action to allow the passions to kindle. For those who search into the powers of intellect, the combinations of thought which may be produced by volition, the plays of Congreve may form a profitable study. But their time is filed on the stage they will be received no more; and, of the devotees of light reading, such as could read them without disgust, would probably peruse them with little pleasure.'--p.693.
The author ought to have borne more steadily in his mind the very early period of life at which Congreve wrote his comedies; but upon the whole, we can truly say we have not for a long time been more delighted or instructed by any essays on such subjects, than by these two Lives of Mason and Congreve. Everything, indeed, said in this work is said with an individual feeling; the force and freshness of a single and somewhat peculiar man of genius is thrown around the commonplaces of literature ; and in the few particulars in which we are unable to agree with bim, we recognize some unimportant circumstance of temperament or locality as the cause of what we consider the error. The priucipal defect or fault of these Essays, as pieces of biography, is precisely that which, however at once ludicrous and disgusting in the writings of small men, is never very disagreeable to the thoughtful reader of a work of real genius—we mean the frequent appearance of the author himself, with his own principles, and modes of thinking and feeling, in the midst of the narrative. There is accordingly observable in these Lives an occasional want of fusion ; the text and the comment are sometimes disproportioned, if not out of place, and the story itself is forgotten during a longer digression than the ordinary reader likes, or the just rules of narrative allow. Still the material facts of each life are detailed with tidelity and spirit; and the particular subject of the biography is not only adequately drawn up, on the whole, but is illustrated by animated comparisons with many of his contemporaries.
Mr. Hartley Coleridge does not in this work run any race with Whitaker, or Prince, or Borlase. He is not over-learned in genealogies of no importance, nor expert in blazoning an extinct coat of arms, and neither describes the devolution of estates, nor sets forth the boundaries of manors. This book is sui generis--a most agreeable and instructive compound—addressed to readers of any corner of England, and yet possessing many points of particular interest for natives of the northern counties. So much original thought is very rarely found in any modern volume; and, differing as we do from what we perceive to be the author's inclinations in certain agitated questions of politics, we can nevertheless declare, that throughout the whole work we have met with no expression which did not bear testimony to the integrity of his principles, and to the generosity of his heart. Cum talis et tantus sit speramus nostrum futurum esse.
Art. III.- Visit to Iceland in the Summer of 1834. By John
Barrow, Jun. Post Svo. London. 1835. A PERIOD of twenty years has now elapsed since we have
received any report of what has been passing in that interesting island, which, though placed within a few days' voyage, by steam, of the remotest part of the coast of England, may be said to be what the Romans applied to us—toto ab orbe divisus ; and we therefore welcome even such a brief account of a. Visit to Iceland' as that which a very young author has just placed before the public. This island is not enrolled among the colonies of the British empire-as, for the mutual advantage of both, we once could have wished to have been the case,--and our commercial intercourse has long ceased; but the manners of its inhabitants have always been contemplated with curiosity and gratification by English travellers; and it is particularly agreeable just at present to find ourselves, even for an hour, among a simple and unchanged people.
Mr. Barrow ascribes the first account given of this island, by an eye-witness, to a Frenchman, who published in the year 1670; but, in the English translation of "Von Troil's Letters,' we find a catalogue of not less than one hundred and twenty books on Ice
land and Icelandic subjects, some of them of an earlier date. Few of these, indeed, could ever have been generally known to the English reader, being mostly in Danish, Swedish, German --in the native language, or in Latin. It is clear, however, from the Policie of England's keeping the See,' that our own countrymen were occasionally eye-witnesses,' pursuing their
trafiques’ and fisheries to Iceland a century or more before the period of the Frenchman's visit:
• Of Island to write is little nede,
Thitherwardes*But Iceland has also other attractions besides those of associa. tion with the adventures and perils of our early trade, and the primeval virtues of its population. The astounding and awful operations which have been carried on in this great laboratory of nature, and are still in full vigour—the desolate majesty of its general scenery, and the brilliant phenomena of earth, sea, and sky, are calculated to engage and reward equally the attention of every one who has any tinge either of poetical or of scientific enthusiasm in his composition.
Our readers will be able duly to appreciate the present author's temper, when they learn that he considers a visit to the Geysers, and the gratification of seeing them play in full activity, alone worth a voyage, at any time, of a thousand miles in the Northern Atlantic, even in a frail yacht. This is the right spirit for a young traveller ; but we confess that, with our own humble views, we are contented with the Geyser of Versailles.
We had occasion a year ago to notice favourably the · Excursions' of Mr. Barrow; in the course of which he describes the grand and diversified scenery which Norway presents—in those noble fiords or inlets, whose ramifications run deeply up into the country, and wash the bases of the snow-capped mountains -in the extensive and transparent lakes—the numerous cataracts and waterfalls which interrupt the pellucid streams of the rivers, abounding in trout and salmon-and the stately forests of pine, which climb the sides of the central and southern ranges: these grand features of nature would seem to render Norway not at all inferior in picturesque scenery to Switzerland ; that of the latter may be more magnificent in the great altitude of its mountains, but the former is more extensive and diversified, and certainly more interesting as regards the habits and domestic eco* Hakluyt's • Traffiques and Discoveries,' &c. Edition, 1599.
The Policie' is supposed to have been written in the time of Henry VI.
nomy of the simple-minded and honest peasantry—honest and simple in proportion as the country has been less visited; for it is avowed by all travellers, that the character of the Swiss peasantry
very much changed for the worse by their frequent intercourse with strangers. We were not surprised, therefore, that the lively narrative of the Excursions' should have had considerable influence in these days of locomotive mania, -and that, during the last and present summers, whole shoals of our countrymen have been flocking to the regions in question, some to enjoy the sports of angling or shooting, and others to luxuriate in the charms of woods, and lakes, and mountain-torrents.
We believe the present little work has also already had a similar effect. The little Flower of Yarrow, in which our author made the voyage, is described as having so sturdily overcome all her difficulties and dangers in the boisterous weather and rough seas of the coast of Iceland,* that a squadron of no less than tive yachts have this season left the Thames with the view of cruizing along the coast of Norway, running up its magnificent fiords, and eventually standing across to Iceland. In one of these, we understand, an accomplished lady has embarked, who is known to possess no ordinary skill in the use of her pencil; and we hope even she will have no occasion to repent her adventure.
The Flower of Yarrow'touched at Drontheim (or, as our author is still pleased to write it, Tronyem, which may be the right pronunciation) for the purpose of receiving on board a friend of Mr. Smith, the owner; and as she required some trifling refit, Mr. Barrow, in the mean time, made an excursion to the town of Röraas, situated not far from the source of the Glommen, and to the copper-mines in its neighbourhood, and from thence to the nearest residence of the Laplanders. He found these people precisely in the same condition as they have generally been described by other travellers, especially Sir A. De Capel Brooke-as poor as possible to all appearance, but cheerful and contented; and, judging from what he saw, much addicted to brandy and tobacco.
In this excursion of a hundred and twenty or thirty miles into this
part of the country, Mr. Barrow finds no reason to alter the opinions expressed in his former volume, as to the general good character of the Norwegian peasantry; and we are glad of this, having observed in a recent publication of Lieut. Breton statements of a contrary tendency. This gentleman meets with nothing scarcely in his tour through Norway but imposition, insolence, filth, and drunkenness; the guides, in particular, are all impos
The French ship of discovery. Lilloise' was less fortunate. She has not been heard of since her voyage to these seas in 1830; and the French government have now offered a reward of 40001. for the discovery of her crew, or any part of them.