Page images
[ocr errors]

so emiuently possessed by the latter; nevertheless his writings are distinguished by an unassuming warmth, a beautiful, dignified simplicity, loveliness, and clearness of diction ; and above all, a purity of taste, in which he surpasses many of his contemporaries. In one of his poems, entitled The Netherlands, he first ventured to strip off the fetters of rhyme, and sing the heroic and literary greatness of his small country with a truly Ossianic enthusiasm. Simons is particularly known for his bold poem, Vergäet un afkomft, ô Bataven, which he wrote during the French usurpation, and which was translated for his present Majesty while Prince Regent, as a proof of the spirit which then animated the Dutch nation,

Borger, who died in 1820, in his 36th year, left but few poems: but they prove that he might have become the first poet of his country. His works, De Historia Pragmatica, De Historia Providentiæ Divinæ, &c., deserve to be more universally known.

The scarcity of theatrical productions at the present time seems to be felt in Holland as much as elsewhere. There are some good pieces of Bilderdyk and his wife, such as Cormac, William of Holland, Floris V., and a translation of Cinna, by the former ; and Elfride, by the latter : but they all present great difficulties in the performance. A Prize offered by the National Institution in 1818 produced some original tragedies : among which Dacosta's Alphons of Portugal, and Mrs. Bilderdyk's Dargo, were mentioned as the best; yet the prize was adjudged to no one. A second competition was not more successful, although it called forth two other productions of the same author and authoress, of which Montigny and Diatrice, by Dacosta, is now frequently performed at Amsterdam and the Hague, with considerable applause.

Among the prose writers J. H. van der Palm (Prof. of the Orient. Lang. and Preacher at the University of Leyden) holds the first rank. His numerous sermons are graced by a simple, yet inimitable eloquence, grounded on the most extensive biblical study. His memoir on the Liberation of the Netherlands is well worthy of being translated, although it would be difficult to transfer to a translation the various beauties of style, and the harmony of the periods which grace the original. The other pulpit orators of re

. nown are Clarisse, at Leyden; Broes, Roll, and Stuart, at Amsterdam; Dermont, at the Hague ; Van der Hoeven, at Rotterdam; and Schrant (a Roman Catholic) at Gbent. Their best historians are Stuart and Scheltema. The style of the former is harmonious, and full of the finest illustrations : but it is not sufficiently compressed. That of the latter is too close an imitation of the diction of old Hoost. · In fact, the Dutch prose (with the exception of that of Van der Palm ) has not yet risen to that height to which their poetry bas raised itself. (Literary Gazette.)



In our next we shall giveCoincidences between Tasso and Honer.-In Sophoclis Edip. Colon. Emend.— Notice of the Odes of Anacreon of Teos.- Biblical Criticism on the first and second Chapters of St. Matthew.

E. R. G.'s verses are correct in metre, but deficient in style and expression.

Arithmetic of the Holy Scriptures came too late for our present No.
We shall continue S.'s Comments on Demosthenes in our next.
Notices of Worledge, Tancoigne, &c. in our next.

Y.'s Remarks on the English Translation of the Bible will also appear in
the next No.
J. B.'s Biblical Criticisms came too late.
W. T. P. S.'s short articles will appear in our next.
We have received J. J.-N. 0.-G. P. C.-
The notice which we promised to give of Professor Boissonade's
Aristænetus, has been deferred from a wish to make it as interesting as
possible, by subjoining to it a rapid view of the other Works of the
Professor-all of which are now before us with the exception of Holstenii

No. LV. Page 120. line 13. Lege uti, pro usurpare.
LVI. 318. 3. Sed redeamus

8. Sic pro hi.

Debetur jurijurando.



Insert the Four Plates opposite page 192.





JUNE, 1824.

On the striking Coincidences between the Allegories,

Similes, and Descriptions, in Tasso's Gierusalemme Liberata, and those of Homer and some other Ancient Writers.

Homer has been in all ages deservedly admired as the first poet of any eminence, whose works were preserved by the care of literary characters, influenced by the principle of a sacred species of veveration, which owed its origin to the superior character of his two immortal works, distinguished for sublimity of subject and for the elegance displayed not only in the ideas, but likewise in the force and purity of diction; far superior to the conceptions

1 of those who were the ordinary geniuses of the period in which he lived, wbose compositions were no doubt consigned to oblivion, when eclipsed by the brilliancy of so great a master, or, as Val. Maximus styles him, such an "ingenii cælestis vates," from whose deep draughts of the Castalian spring succeeding poets have in all ages been inspired. There appears a superiority in his poems, which can only be compared to the expression of the countenance of one of the noblest statues of antiquity. He hardly seems a “ denizen of earth,” but appears to stand like the “heavenly archer" in serene majesty, above the other compositions of mortals---possessed of a description of sublimity which disdains the common career of sublunary objects. Whether he actually wrote the Iliad and Odyssey from his own conceptions alone, aided by the tradition of preceding times, appears to have


[ocr errors]

been doubted by some of the learned. He has been accused of deducing his plan from the poems of Orpheus and those of one Corinnus, said to have been contemporary with the heroes of the Trojan war. I have read a disquisition,-certainly, it must be confessed, an idle one,-which tends to prove that the works imputed to him were actually the composition of Thales the Milesian ;-but, whosoever the author was, we have abundant reason for considering him a most extraordinary, unrivalled genius. Among other works of estimation which have been formed on the model of this great" high priest of all the Nine" in after ages, appears that chef-d'ouvre of Italian Epic poetry immortalised under the name of the Gierusalemme Liberata. A critic of the first eminence in the literary world considers Tasso as having far surpassed the Iliad in the chief circumstances connected with the characteristic features of the heroes who figured in the days of the Crusades; as well as in the manner in which their characters are respectively sustained, and in the fire and variety of action contained in his descriptions of warlike manoeuvres. He has certainly painted with a masterly hand those fine conceptions traced out by Homer; and it will be easily perceived in the course of the following observations, that he has pursued in no small degrèe the minutest touches of originality displayed in the sublimest parts of the Iliad and Odyssey.

The character of Rinaldo, the hero of the first offspring of Tasso's genius, is generally considered as more interesting than that of his great prototype Achilles. The poem is written in all the spirit of ancient chivalry, and contains many gigantic and other fabulous adventures.

The hero of the piece is indeed represented as possessing great muscular strength; but he is nevertheless remarkable for courtesy and magnanimity, and all other heroic qualities conspicuous in the character of a knight errant. Like the heroes of the Iliad, he exerts his bodily powers in a supernatural manner, and bears down all opposing knights, whether single or united.

These adventures are occasionally diversified by episodes and other entertaining digressions; and enchantment, fairy scenes, and romantic occurrences, are among the other beauties of the poem.

Tasso has closely imitated Hemer in the following passages of the Gier. Lib. In Canto 1. S. 37. the catalogue of the armies and nations employed is given before the commencement of any warlike achievements or hostile conflict, in the same manner as Homer describes the heroes of Greece in his catalogue of the Ships, Iliad. lib. B'. 495. ; though it may be here observed, that there appears a greater diversity in the enumeration of the forces of the Crusaders, and that the Italian poet has improved upon his model, as his descriptions contain more variety of sentiment, and are divested of the tautology of that part of the Iliad. In Canto Ill. Herminia points out and describes the Christian warriors to Aladin from the top of a tower, in the same manner as Helena does those of Greece to old Priam, Il. . 171.

It is worthy of remark that the Gods occurring in the poems of Homer, are brought forward by Tasso in the shape of good and evil angels, by whose ministry many actions of note are performed, and warriors excited on several memorable occasions. In Canto vii, S. 68. Godfrey of Bouillon speaks to an aged warrior in the same style and manner as Agamemnon to Nestor. The coincidence is striking, particularly as Godfrey is formed in many respects on the model of the son of Atreus :

Oh pur avessi fra l'etade acerba
Diece altri di valor al tuo simile,
Come ardirei vincer Babel superba,

E la Croce spiegar da Battro a Nile.
Compare Il. ß'. 371..

Α1 γαρ, Ζεϋ τε πάτερ,-
τοιούτοι δέκα μoι συμφράδμονες είεν 'Αχαίων

τα κε τάχ' ήμύσειε πόλις Πριάμοιο άνακτος, &c. In Canto vii. S. 105. the description of the warriors charging in battle bears a very lively resemblance to that of Homer, II. 8'. 446. The same uccurs in Canto ix. S. 51.

S'affronta insieme orribilmente urtando
Scudo a scudo, elmo ad elmo, e brando a brando,
Σύν δ' έβαλον ρινούς, συν δ' έγχεα, &c.

αταρ ασπίδες ομφαλόεσσαι "Επληντ' αλλήλησι, &c. (Clorinda fights like an Amazon, and bears a marked resemblance to Penthesilea, Dictys Cret. and to the Camilla of Virgil's Æneid.) Alecto inflames Argillano in a vision, being incited by some evil angel to kindle commution against the Crusaders, in the same manner as she is represented, instigated by Juno, Æn. 7. stirring up the fury of Turnus against the Trojans.

Canto 1x. S. 38. An old warrior falling on the field of battle is compared to an ancient tree, blown down by a storm. A simile of this sort is very common in Homer, who compares the fall of Simoisius to that of a poplar, and that of Orsilochus and Crethon to that of two tall fir-trees.-Canto ix. S. 46. Godfrey is represented as similar to the Po overflowing its banks and rushing with tremendous force to the Adriatic; and in the lliad,

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »