Page images

Lucide visioni s' aggiravano*
Per la tua fantasia : felice io m'era,
Fino ch'ospite tuo questo
Vie più fresco d' Adon fatale Assiro.
Ah quai fur le mie pene allor che vidi
Tue conscie gote, e iguardi amor-spiranti !
Non seducente sogno a te più giúnse,
Non nuova illusion, non arte nia.
L'agonie dell'inferno allor conobbi,
E mi strussi nel foco, e in sen la punta

Dello scorpio sentii.”—pp. 11, 12. The translation of the rest of this fine scene is equally well executed. The spirit's thrilling narrative of his own daring crime, and Tamar's amazement, horror, grief, and desperate abjuration of his love, are given with all the power and passion of the English poem. The following concluding lines are strikingly dramatic : Tam. Ma ben or ti conosco, e abbiuro, ed odio

Più di quanto tamai, senza sapermi
Che l' amor mio per te fosse un delitto.
Spero in Dio! chiamo Dio!

Ad. (con furor demoniaco.) Basta! avrem tempo
Di garrir poi-vieni or con me-Costei
Madre non fia dell'incarnata Prole
Che noi temiam !

Tam. Abi salva me--me salva,

gran Dio di Giacobbe, e di Davidde !”—p. 16. Of the mere style, it is scarcely necessary to speak. The language is eminently poetical throughout, reminding us alternately of Zeno, Metastasio, and Monti, with now and then a verse which Alfieri might have written. We have not been able to detect in the translation, a single deviation from the general purity of the translator's language, and it is, no doubt, this remarkable exemption from the prevailing vice of Gallicism, that makes, by the contrast, even the pardonable “ mi lusingo” of the dedication, strike us as a blemish and an oversight. We cannot conclude without expressing our regret, that the beautiful language of Italy is not yet sufficiently cultivated among us, to induce Mr. Da Ponte to give to the whole of Mr. Hillhouse's poem, a dress, which, judging from the specimen before us, would set off its numerous beauties to the greatest possible advantage.

* This verso sdrucciolo has a fine effect.



JULY, 1825.


The class of literary triflers is not by any means numerous in our country. I speak of those who are so, not casually, and in the intervals of business, but of those who are so by constant habit, and by profession. The genius of our nation is so practical—the men of education among us are so generally distributed among the learned professions, and other pursuits which require diligent occupation—that an instance of an individual, giving up his time and faculties to the mere toys and accidents of science and literature, is actually a sort of phenomenon. One of these, however, has lately fallen under my observation, and I am going to give the world his description.

A few years since, I had occasion to make a journey through the middle states. For the sake both of economy and expedition, I travelled in the stage coach. Contrary to my usual fortune in such cases, (which is, to be crammed so closely among a crowd of passengers, that I am denied all use of my limbs while in the coach, and find that I have almost lost power to use them when I get out of it,) I had, for the whole first day, no companion. I was delighted with this circumstance, which seemed to me a dispensation from inconvenience and impertinence, and gave me an opportunity of pursuing my own reflections without interruption. I formed plans for the transaction of my business when I should arrive at my place of destination. I looked on the face of nature, as it lay in the deep verdure of summer, and watched the continual changes in the scenery as we passed. I speculated on the difference in the soil and productions of the different districts through which I was travelling. I whistled, sung, lolled on the three seats of the coach, and when I wished to hear another human voice than my own, I put my head out of the window, and talked to the good-natured driver about his horses.

The next morning I had the prospect of passing another day in the same manner. I was still alone, but solitary travelling had lost its novelty, and with it many of its charms. The hours followed each other heavily, the coach seemed to move with a melancholy slowness, and I began fairly to wish myself at the end of my journey. All whom I passed looked coldly at me, or only looked at the horses, and I could not recognise a single countenance that I had seen before. I attempted to talk to the driver, a fellow in a red bottle nose, and eyes that looked ruefully through a scarlet border; but either he had not taken his morning dram, or had drank too much over night, and his replies were quite laconic and not very civil. Every habitation that I passed increased my melancholy; for it reminded me of glad looks, and the greetings of friends, and of fireside enjoyments in which I could not participate. The world seemed to me a dreary, comfortless kind of place; and I would have given the whole of it to have seen even the old cur that used to follow me in my walks, or the cat that slept by my kitchen fire. Then came a vision of dear faces that I had left behind me, and their parting words sounded in my ears. I counted the miles that must be travelled before I finished my journey. I looked at the road that lay before me; it seemed stretching to an immeasurable distance. The interval that must elapse before my return swelled to an age, an eternity; and the lumbering coach, as it moved heavily along, seemed carrying me for ever from all that I loved,

At length the driver stopped at a public house to water his horses, and when he was ready to set out again, I was not displeased to see him open the coach door to admit another traveller. An odd figure entered, and took a seat directly facing

He was rather tall, and exceedingly lank and narrow shouldered; but his large hands and feet, and the coarse articulations of his shrunken limbs, showed him to be the degenerate descendant of a hardy and robust ancestry of ploughmen and wood cutters. His features, which the sun had seldom been permitted to visit, and which wore no marks of mental labor, or of the agitation of the passions, were overspread with a complexion fair even to feminine delicacy, enlivened, at the same time, with a tolerably fresh and healthful tint. He carried in his hand a cotton umbrella, and wore a large white hat, and a coat of coarse bottle-green cloth, ill-made but neatly brushed. His hair was tied


in a club, as was the fashion thirty years ago, and his feet were equipped with a pair of sheepskin shoes, not much the worse for wear.

I was so much occupied in contemplating the strange figure before me, with his singular travelling dress, that we had pro


ceeded a considerable distance before I made any attempt to engage

him in conversation. He, in the mean time, seemed so agreeably engaged in his own meditations, that it would have been perfect cruelty to interrupt him. He was looking about him with a complacent simper, now and then attempting a very delicate hem, and occasionally employed in pulling the great joints of his long fingers till they gave a cracking sound, or brushing off stray particles of lint that had trespassed on the sacred precincts of his pantaloons, and the sleeves of his coat.

It was a fine day in June, and the air had been freshened by a shower which had fallen the preceding night. The clocks in the farm houses were striking the hour of eleven as we passed; the fogs had rolled away from the upland on which we were travelling, and were gathered over a deep valley, from which we could hear the sound of a river, whose course they were following off to the southeast. I broke our long silence by a remark to my fellow traveller, about the beauty of the morning. “It is a very fine morning indeed, sir,” replied he, briskly;

• The East is as warm as the light of first hopes.'" I was somewhat puzzled to conjecture how this quotation could have any propriety, at a time of day which seemed to me more like noon than like the break of morning; but one thing at least I could infer from it, and this was perhaps all that he meant I should do, namely, that he had read Lalla Rookh. He, however, was apparently quite as well satisfied with his quotation, as I was embarrassed by it. A considerable pause ensued in our conversation, while I was in perplexity to find a meaning in what he had said, and he was luxuriating in the agreeable consciousness of having uttered a good thing. When we were a little recovered from this, our conversation took a literary turn. I found my companion exceedingly profound upon the subject of reviews and magazines. He remarked that the North American Review was very ably conducted, and had a very extensive circulation, and that Silliman's Journal of Science and Arts was a work that did great honour to the country. He also observed, that Blackwood's Magazine and Campbell's New Monthly furnished very pleasant reading; that the Edinburgh Review was a little too much in the habit of cutting up the authors that fell in its way, and that the Quarterly had lost many of its friends in the United States, by its indiscriminate abuse of our country, Along with these very ingenious and very novel observations, and many others equally so, he gave me an account of books that had just appeared, and of works in the press, by which I

perceived that he was deeply read in the quarterly lists of new publications. Some of these books he had actually seen, others he had even taken into his hands, and some he had gone so far as to open and look into, but I could not bring him to confess that he had read


of them. 5. It is a dull task you know," said he, "to read a book through." In this manner he continued to entertain me, till we came opposite to the door of a small house which he said was his, and at which he directed the driver to stop. On getting out, he very cordially bid me adieu ; adding, that as I seemed to be of a literary turn, he hoped, if my engagements should ever again bring me that way, I would do him the favor to call and see him at his house, where he should take great pleasure in showing me his collections in natural history, and certain other curiosities, which he was very sure would interest me.

I thought no more of my stage coach acquaintance till the next winter, when some professional business carried me again into the neighborhood of which he was an inhabitant. I took up my quarters at an inn, at a little distance from his dwelling. My landlord, a knowing, communicative sort of man, of whom I made an inquiry respecting him, told me that he was the son of a wealthy farmer in these parts, who finding him of a delicate constitution in his childhood, a timid, puny boy of whom he could expect little assistance in his agricultural labors, had sent him to college. That after taking his degree, he passed the usual time in the office of a lawyer in an adjoining town; and on being admitted to practice, about seven or eight years since, had opened an office in the neighbourhood. The first and only cause in which he was engaged, was an action of trespass, brought by him in favor of a very litigious fellow, against one of his neighbors whose, geese had entered his close, and cropped and spoiled his grass. In this action he had the misfortune to be nonsuited by the magistrate before whom the cause was tried, on the ground that there was no law for geese. Whether it was on account of his failure in this first attempt, or on account of the singularity of his manners, which gave

the good people of the place no high idea of his capacity for business, my landlord would not undertake to say; but so it was, that nobody was known to apply to him in the way of his profession, afterwards. He accordingly became discouraged, shut up

his office, and was then living on a farm belonging to his father; from the rent of which, with great economy, except a little extravagance, as my landlord called it, in the purchase of books, he managed to support himself, and even, as the neighVoi. I.


« PreviousContinue »