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The generous Fiesco, anxious to vindicate himself in the eyes of Verrina, tells him to proclaim that they are free. Verrina tells him not to lose their transport, to be present at their reception of the gift"Believe me, Prince,
The greatest pleasure of a monarch's soul
Fiesco, overpowered by the shadows of his coming fate, replies— "Man, thou art terrible!
And yet, I know not why, but I must follow thee."
They both go towards the sea.
At this moment, the great Poet proves himself indeed the master. A remorse, the memory of former days, comes over the old man-he stops suddenly, looks at Fiesco with the tenderest affection, and bursts into tears:
"Terrina. But once again! embrace me, my Fiesco;
Here's no one that observes Verrina weep,
Or sees a Monarch feel! (Pressing him ardently to his bosom.)
Two greater hearts, that beat in stricter unison
Together! We loved each other with such warm esteem,
Such brotherly affection!
(Hanging on his neck.)
Thou leav'st a vacancy within my breast,
Which the whole human race thrice over told
Verrina. Cast off this ugly Purple, and I am so!"
Fiesco indignantly refuses - Verrina resumes his coldness stand on a plank that leads to one of the galleys-Verrina plunges the Usurper into the waves-the weight of his armour sinks him. This is the catastrophe of the Tragedy.
We have thus gone through one of the noblest performances that the genius of man ever accomplished. With all the fire of "The Robbers," it has all the depth of "Wallenstein." We have dwelt upon it at the greater length because we are convinced, that of all the German dramas, it would be one that, with prudent omissions, might be rendered the most effective on the English stage. The magnificence of the scenery-the perpetual stir and bustle of the action-the dazzling and fiery life that burns in every scene, would alone attract the multitude; while the deep learning that is of the heart-the majesty of the sentiments-the august poetry of the conception, would place before the wiser few such models of taste-such examples for emulation, as could not but tend to ennoble and refine our Stage. Macready would perform Fiesco admirably. We perceive that our influential contemporary, the "Literary Gazette," has compared Colonel d'Aguilar's translation to some passages from the German by Mr. Gillies, and not advantageously to the former; but the fact is, that the best lines in Mr. Gillies' translation are not a word of them in the original. And as regards the flow of the verse, we suspect that Colonel d'Aguilar has designedly left it frequently rude and imperfect to convey the better idea of the original, which is written in prose-the melodious prose of Schiller.
ON VERNACULAR LITERATURE.
I. ENGLAND, which has given models to Europe of the most masterly productions in every class of learning, and every province of genius, so late as within these last three centuries, was herself destitute of a native literature.
How "that was performed in our tongue which may be compared, or preferred, either to insolent Greece or haughty Rome," as one of our great poets has nobly expressed himself, becomes a philological tale for an English philosopher, who discovers in the history of the human mind the gradual expansion of public opinion.
The vernacular literature of every European nation was long impeded by the predominance of that universal language which the Gothic nations of Europe, from accident, if not from necessity, had adopted from that mighty Rome which they had themselves conquered. Ecclesiastical Rome, whence the novel faith of Christianity was now to emanate, far more potent than military Rome, perpetuated the Roman language. The clergy through the diversified realms of Europe, held together by a common bond, chained to the throne of the priesthood-one faith, one discipline, one language!
The Latin language, in verse and in prose, was domiciliated among people of the most opposite interests, customs, and characters. The primitive fathers, the later schoolmen, the monkish annalists, all alike composed in Latin; charters, even marriage contracts, in a word, all legal instruments, were drawn in Latin, and even the language of Christian prayer was that of abolished Paganism.
The idiom of their father-land, or, as we have affectionately called it, our mother-tongue-those first human accents which their infant ear had caught, and which, from their boyhood, were associated with the most tender and joyous recollections-every nation left to fluctuate on the lips of the populace, rude and neglected: all men who looked towards advancement in the world, and were members of the higher classes in society, cultivated the Latin language. It is an observation of the learned historian of our Anglo-Saxon history, that owing to this circumstance "the Latin language and the classical writers were preserved by the Christian clergy from that destruction which has entirely swept from us the language and the writings of Phenicia, Carthage, Babylon, and Egypt." But we must also recollect that the influence of the Latin language became far more permanent when the great master-works of antiquity were gradually unburied from their concealments. In this resurrection of taste and genius amidst the most barbarous ages, they survived by the secret charm of their style and the imperishable art of their composition.
II. But we in England, while we shared in common with our neighbours this bondage of a foreign idiom, had likewise the peculiar unhappiness of bearing a double chain, and the ignominy of a double servitude. Not only the general cultivation of the Latin language crushed every native attempt, and long procrastinated the day of our emancipation, but our countrymen had been compelled to adopt that Norman French which a foreign race had imposed on us-a hateful intruder, with which we had long to wrestle. Thus while the learned only communicated in Latin, the English at large, from their cradle, 2 N
June.-VOL. XXXIV. NO. CXXXVIII.
were also taught to speak French, the court language. The vernacular idiom seemed utterly extirpated. So much was our nation kept under, that we were glad to dissemble our tongue and learn theirs; whereupon came the proverb, "Jack would be a gentleman if he could speak French," as we gather from Sir Thomas Smith, the learned Secretary of Elizabeth, who was himself intent on refining the unpolished English of his day.
It is remarkable, that when John de Trevisa, in 1381, translated the "Polychronicon" into English, and stated his reason in a dialogue between "Clericus and Patronus," the patron deemed it a supernumerary labour, since the Latin was the more general language; and even Trevisa himself doubted the utility of his own labour, at a time when the national antipathy to our old masters, the Normans, was at its height; when Edward III. had recently abolished the practice of carrying on the pleadings in our law courts in French; when a crisis had come, and a revolution was occurring in our grammar-schools, where, as Trevisa tells, "the children leaveth French and construeth in English." Our native translator still considers this important innovation not to be so wholly an advantage as some conceived; for Trevisa feared that the neglect of the French idiom would be sensibly felt in their intercourse and "travaile in straunge londes and in manie other places also." So unsettled was the English language at that day, that Trevisa notices its unintelligible orthoepy. In different parts of the island a diversity of pronunciation occurred, so that the northern, the southern, and the middle-land-men, an intermixture of the Danish, the Saxon, and the Norman races, could not often understand one another.
But the history of this ancient translation of the "Polychronicon" offers a still more remarkable circumstance in the history of our language. At a subsequent period, when it was printed by Caxton, not more than one hundred and twenty years had elapsed since the translator's death, and we find Caxton complaining of Trevisa's "rude and old English, that is to wit, certain words which in these days be neither used nor understood." Trevisa himself, in his translation, had avoided what he calls "the old and ancient English." It might have startled Master Caxton to have suspected that he might be to us what Trevisa was to him, as it might equally have amazed Trevisa when he discovered archaisms which had contracted the rust of time, to have imagined that his fresher English were to be archaisms to his printer in the succeeding century. What a picture is here exhibited of the mortality of words through all the fleeting stages of their decadency!
III. Our language, indeed, long continued in this fluctuating state: it was built on sands. And to pursue this philological speculation to a much later date, look in the prefaces of our elder lexicographers. Every one of them pretends to purify the vocabulary of his predecessor. In the reign of Elizabeth, we see Baret in his " Alvearie, or Quadruple Dictionary of Four Languages," in 1580, thus expressing himself:-"I thought it not meet to stuffe this work with old obsolete words which now a-daies no good writer will use." Words spurned at by the lexicographer of 1580 were probably words consecrated by the venerable Chaucer, Gower, and Piers Plowman, and
which, at least, the poetical antiquary would now gladly retrieve. These rapid revolutions in our language are remarkable. The nephew of Milton, in the preface to his " Theatrum Poetarum," where the critical touch of the great master so frequently betrays itself, pleads for our ancient poets, who are not the less poetical because their style is antiquated. Writing in the reign of Charles II. in 1675, he says: -"From Queen Elizabeth's reign, the language hath not been so unpolished as to render the poetry of that time ungrateful to such as at this day will take the pains to examine it well. If no poetry should please but what is calculated to every refinement of a language, of how ill consequence this would be for the future let him consider, and make it his own case, who, being now in fair repute, shall, two or three ages hence, when the language comes to be double-refined, understand that his works are come obsolete and thrown aside. I cannot-" he, perhaps Milton, continues-"I cannot but look upon it as a very pleasant humour that we should be so compliant with the French custom as to follow set fashions, not only in garments, but in music and poetry. For clothes, I leave them to the discretion of the modish; breeches and doublet will not fall under a metaphysical consideration. But in arts and sciences, as well as in moral notions, I shall not scruple to maintain, that what was verum et bonum' once, continues to be so always. Now whether the trunk-hose fancy of Queen Elizabeth's days, or the pantaloon genius of ours be best, I shall not be hasty to determine." It would seem as if Milton, from this new invasion of Gallic words and Gallic airiness which broke in at the Restoration, had formed some uneasy anticipations that his own learned diction and sublime form of poetry, might suffer by the transition, and that Milton himself might become as obsolete as some of his great predecessors.
I cannot quit this subject of ancient words without one reflection. This rapid mortality of words, these perpetual ejections of powerful lexicographers, these terrors of neologisms, all only exhibit the natural progress of style in the infancy of a language which was not yet that of a literary people. A national idiom, in its mighty formation struggling into birth, incumbered by the heavy mass in which it lies involved, is like the creation of the Lion of the Bard of Paradise, when
The tawny lion, pawing to get free
It may be suspected whether the English of our own times has not been enriched even by some former extravagant attempts, and there is no doubt that we have lost some picturesque words, and even some fortunate expressions, which have not always found equivalents in their substitutes. If Time, the great arbiter of words, as well as of things, chases away the fantastical, like expelled vagrants, the more felicitous should at all periods be allowed to claim their denizenship.
IV. But to return to the history from which this digression has for a moment lured us. The learned wrote only to the learned in an universal language; and the authors of every nation were alike accessible to each other, unobscured by faithless translations. But however this might be desirable in this community, or republic of
letters, great scholars, after all, were only addressing great students; and a similarity of thinking and of style usually deprived the writers of that raciness or originality which the nations of Europe afterwards displayed when they cultivated their vernacular literature.
The progress of the human mind was not commensurate with the curious diligence which long prided itself on the purity of its Latinity. At a more advanced period in society and literature, authority was sought for every word, and patiently culled every favourite phrase, in a classical superstition of style; a solecism was fatal to a man's honour; and even libels, and it is said, duels have occurred between two vindictive Ciceronians. Erasmus has written a satirical dialogue to expose the extravagance of this wordy race. In a mosaic of phrases eminent scholars were often but ridiculous apes of Cicero, and in a cento of verses empty echoes of Virgil.
The most classical Latinity, for no author ventured beyond an epigram in Greek, could be little more than the result of an ingenious memory, and the felicitous appropriation of phrases collected from the authors of another age and people. Century after century, men of genius in Europe were following each other in these sheep-tracks of antiquity. University responded to University, and the human mind was ever cast in the same mould. All native vigour died away in the coldness of imitation. Even meaner intellects were not always unsuccessful in acquiring this artifice of diction, covering their squalid meagreness with the purple patches of the immortal ancients.
And in the progress of the human mind, of which literature is the history, it is remarkable of those writers who had already distinguished themselves by their Latin works, that when they began to compose in their native language, those classical effusions on which they had confidently rested their future celebrity, sunk into oblivion; and the writers themselves ceased to be subjects of critical inquiry or popular curiosity, except in that language in which they had created a manner, and a style, of their own. Here their original power, and their freed faculties, placed them at a secure interval from their imitators. Modern writers in Latin were doomed to find many equals, and some superiors; and it was only those who afterwards became so inimitable in their vernacular idiom, who discovered how the productions of the heart, rather than those of the lexicon, were echoed to their authors in the voice of the people.
The people indeed were removed far out of the influence of literature; the people could neither become intelligent with the knowledge, nor sympathise with the emotions, concealed in an idiom which had long ceased to be spoken.
This state of affairs had not occurred among the Greeks, and hardly among the Romans, who had only composed their immortal works in their maternal tongue. Their arts, their sciences, and their literature were to be acquired by the single language which they used. It was the infelicity of their successors in dominion to weary out the tenderness of youth in the repulsive and barren labours of acquiring the languages of the two great nations, whose empire had for ever closed, but whose finer genius had triumphed over their conquerors.
With the ancients, instruction did not commence until their seventh year; and until that period, nature was not disturbed in her mysterious workings; the virgin intellect was not doomed to suffer the