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· Note. These are the paragraphs and allusions which have filled the world with astonishment; and history, geology, and natural history, with marvellous perplexity and conjecture. Instead of elephants, rhinoceroses, elks, and buffaloes of foreign regions having furnished these heaps of bones, it will be seen that they are remains of native animals of the places where they are found. The elephants and rhinoceroses, which have been found in Siberia, have caused the confusion. Here mammoths are walruses : to prove which, the reader is referred to Strahlenberg, p. 402.; Muschkin Puschkin in Père Avril's Travels, p. 176.; and to this vol. chap. xvi.' — pp. 244, 245.
As to the mammoth found at the mouth of the Lena, Mr. Ranking would appear to consider him as having belonged to one of the Tartar conquerors: the quantity of hair on him is naturally accounted for by the change of climate and change of diet; for “the green winter-food of a northern climate must be extremely warm and stimulating.'
Mr. Ranking can swallow any thing, no matter how incredible. The following extract, says he, is from the Baron Cuvier's great work, and it is more interesting and diverting from these mammoths having been seen alive on the plains in the year 1571. He then gives a long extract, of which the following paragraphs only are to our purpose.
Un autre écrivain cité par celui là, s'exprime ainsi, “ Le tyn-schu ne se tient que dans des endroits obscurs et non-frequentés. Il meurt si tot qu'il voit les rayons du soleil ou de la lune : ses pieds sont courts à proportion de sa taille, ce qui fait qu'il marche mal. Sa queue est Tongue d'une aune Chinoise. Ses yeux sont petits et son cou courbe. Il est fort stupide et paresseux.
o "Lors d'une inondation aux environs du fleuve Tan-schuann-tuy (en l'année 1571), il se montru beaucoup de tyn-schu dans la plaine, ils se nourissoient des racines de la plante fu-kia.”' — p. 466.
Surely no one but Mr. Ranking would have believed this wild Chinese tale of a mole as big as an elephant; and is it possible he could have thought that Cuvier credited it ?
Among the rest of the new and important information to be derived from the present work is, that our great epic poet, when drawing his character of Satan, did not, as is generally supposed, turn bis eye to the extraordinary man of his own day, or to the Prometheus of Æschylus ; for his model, we now find, was the redoubted Timur. • It appears highly probable, that Milton has taken Timur in some instances as his prototype for Satan. The allusions to Timur and Cyrus, in the Paradise Lost, are numerous.' Nothing is more easy than to point out imitations and plagiarisms, for, unfortunately, we all relate the same or similar things in pretty nearly the same way; but we fancy Milton could have written the following fine lines without having read an account of Timur's reviewing his troops, in which account we can perceive nothing very uncommon or different from other reviews :
“ Ten thousand banners rise into the air,
With orient colours waving : with them rose
* * * * And now his heart
Book 1. When his youngest son, Mehemet, asked the honour of commanding the scouts, Timur approved his zeal, but reminded him that he had need of great presence of mind, &c. in an employ on which the safety of the whole army depended. Hence Milton;
- " Here he had need
The weight of all and our last hope relies.” Book 2. This, we apprehend, is quite enough. Milton, who knew all history, was certainly not unacquainted with that of Timur. But what resemblance is there between Timur and Satan?
We will now dismiss Mr. Ranking, with expressing our wish that he had never written; for his book is, we conceive, perfectly useless, and the theory of Cuvier, against which it is evidently directed, is as little affected by it as a bold and gigantic promontory is by the dash of a single wave. No wars, no sports, not all that ever were, will account for the single instance of the cave at Kirkdale ; and the histories of the Monguls, and of the Romans in Britain, we know as well from other and better books.
ART. IV. The Forest Sanctuary; and other Poems. By Mrs. He
mans. 8vo. pp. 205. 7s.6d. London. Murray. 1826. The scene of · The Forest Sanctuary' is laid amid the wilds of North America, not many years after that continent was discovered. An article written some time since in the Quarterly Review on Mr. Quin's “ Visit to Spain," and generally attributed to the Rev. Blanco White, seems to have suggested to Mrs. Hemans whatever of incident or story there is in her production. In that paper, Mr. White, who, since his arrival in England, has distinguished himself by making one half of his life a satire on the other, and the whole of it, so far as it has hitherto gone, a satire on his country, enters
s in heggested to attributed
at prehight Laging des by the
into an ingenious discourse upon the Spanish Inquisition, and mentions the fate of Gonzalez and his sisters. This short episode Mrs. Hemans has endeavoured to extend into a poem, and it is with great regret we are bound to say that she has fallen very far short of that success which we would have wished her to attain.
She has been unfortunate in the selection of her subject, and, if possible, still more unlucky in the choice of her scene. Her hero, a Spaniard, is supposed to have fled from his country in the sixteenth century, in order to avoid the terror of the Inquisition, to which he had indiscreetly exposed himself. He escapes from a dungeon with his wife and child, on board of a vessel bound for South America. His wife dies on the voyage, and he and his son after wandering some time amongst the Andes, where he again trembles at 'the tyranny of Spain,' proceed to North America, and find a refuge in the woods which Mrs. Hemans rather affectedly names • The Forest Sanctuary. It would be presumptuous to deny that such a groundwork as this, destitute as it apparently is of the sources of those high and contending emotions in which poetry delights, might not be filled up by the hand of genius with combinations of the most engaging description. But it is invidious to conjecture what might have been done by other writers. It is sufficient for us at present to know, that Mrs. Hemans found her theme almost wholly devoid of interest, and that by her mode of treating it she has rather weakened than improved the little which it did possess.
The scene too,-America, -has by no means assisted her poetical inspirations. We scarcely know why it is, but the New World seems, as yet, to have been fatal to most of our writers who have made it the theme of their minstrelsy. It is not, perhaps, that they are altogether ignorant of the localities, for the author of that hapless tale of Paraguay cannot be supposed unacquainted with a country into which he has more than once adventured, both as a historian and a fabulist. Masses of wood, gigantic mountains, rivers, and lakes, are not, however, of themselves sufficient to call forth the diviner. mind of poetry. They are indeed among the favourite haunts of the muse, but it would seem that in order to attract her peculiar favour, they must have been time out of mind crowned with temples sacred to her name, and peopled with her worshippers. The banks of the Avon are “ beautiful in song," not because nature has been propitious to them, but because they are associated with the name of Shakspeare. The traveller is wrapt in enthusiasm among the hills, and streams, and promontories of Greece, not so much on account of their appearance as pieces of exquisite scenery, but because they remind him of the poets, the sages, and the heroes, who have by their verse, eloquence, and bravery, rendered the leading features of their country so many monuments of their glory. America is not old enough as yet, she has no mysteries, no associations for attractive fiction. Man and his works, his sufferings, and his
happiness, can alone bestow on rude or cultivated nature that magnetic power which will always command the sympathies of his kind.
Mrs. Hemans must have felt throughout her work the want of that charm, for we know of none of her productions that bear so many tokens of the lamp as “The Forest Sanctuary. The stanzas are in the Spenserian measure, but how unlike the flowing melody of those upon whose model they are founded! We shall give but a few examples, and these shall be by no means the least favourable specimens of the whole. The poem thus opens :
- The voices of my home! - I hear them still !
They have been with me through the dreamy night
Have died in others, - yet to me they come,
In the grey stillness of the summer morn,
By quenchless longings, to my soul I say —
And find mine ark! - yet whither ? - I must bear
So must it be! - These skies above me spread,
Your graves all smiling in the sunshine clear,
But the faint echoes in my breast that dwell,
pp. 3-5. Mrs. Hemans has avowed her obligations for the beautiful thought in the last couplet to Mr. Wordsworth's exquisite descrip
tion in his Excursion of a boy on the beach listening to the mystic murmur of a sea-shell :
-_- his very soul
Is to the ear of Faith." It will be perceived, that Mrs. Hemans makes a different use of the image from Mr. Wordsworth, yet it is in itself perhaps equally felicitous. The lines from the Excursion would furnish an admirable subject for the pencil.
After these reflections, the hero (he has no name) enters into a narrative of the tragic scene which was enacted by the Inquisition, and as his child is too young to be interested in such a story, he repeats it to the ear of the desert,' which could hardly fail of being a patient listener. The whole of this narrative, which embraces the greater portion of the poem, is exceedingly elaborate and unimpressive. We have no desire to characterise the verse of Mrs. Hemans generally. But we cannot refrain from observing that her style of composition, in this work at least, is cold, disconnected, harsh, and arid. It wears the form of poetry; the syllables are duly measured; the words placed generally in proper order, and there is no want of precision. But the lines, taken together, have no power to animate the reader. Here and there an expression sparkles, and promises a higher strain, but promises only to delude. The rhymes are too often forced, so much so, that ideas which have no sort of natural link between them are brought into companionship, solely for the sake of filling out the stanza. There is none of that flush of inspiration upon her page, none of that unction of impetuous eloquence, which indicates the presence of the muse. What is there but the rhyme, and that too of no very peculiar merit, to distinguish the following stanza from very humble prose ?
• But a lance met me in that day's career,
Senseless I lay amidst th' o'ersweeping fight,
Covering me with his mantle ! — all the past Flow'd back — my soul's far chords all answer'd to the blast. p. 17. It may be presumed that if we had not the word “past,' in the penultimate line, we should not have heard a syllable of the soul's far chords all answering to the blast, the meaning of which, we must