Page images

knowlege; and we do not see any thing to censure in it, except the invidious task which it informs us they have undertaken, of printing only a part of the Prize-Odes, and, even in that selection, of altering some expressions which appeared to them incorrect and improper. These alterations, they say, are of the slightest kind, and rarely occur: but neither do we think that their zeal for the honour of their University will excuse this liberty, nor can we allow that the plea of trying the public taste, and of avoiding the appearance of making a large volume by re-publishing poems already edited, is sufficient to atone for the presumption of selecting a few compositions, from a number which have all equally shared the meed of academical distinction. Yet these are questions which can affect only a comparatively small body of scholars; and the classical student, generally speaking, is obliged by the pleasure and advantage which he may receive from a perusal of these hitherto half-buried exercises.

The first ode is on the death of Sir William Browne, M.D. the donor of the prizes, viz. three golden medals, annually distributed to the best composer in Greek Sapphics, in Latin Lyrics, (of course after the manner of Horace,) and in Epigram, on the models of the Anthology and of Martial. - The Sapphic dirge which we have mentioned is the composition of Edward Cooke, of King's College, and bears date 1775. It is simple, correct, and elegant. The following stanzas happily commemorate the benefactor of the poet on the present occa sion :

"Artis O prases medica, vel audis
Latior Musa citharæque fautor;
Spiritum Phalus tibi, Phabus artes

Mille medendi

[blocks in formation]

The second ode, dated 1794, is an Alcaic poem on the Genius of Greece, by another scholar of King's College, John Keate, the present head-master of Eton School. It has some noble stanzas.

"O vis severæ sacra Tragadia!
O que subactis sensibus imperas
Regina, ferventesque victo

Insinuas animo tumultus &

Tibi haustus altè spiritus, et piá
Qui leniter dulcedine profluunt
Fletus, et impexd tremiscens

Casarie famulatur borror;" &c. &c.

but neither is this nor the former ode free from the faults of boyish composition; as in one instance will be seen by the careless and inharmonious expressions,

[blocks in formation]

where the repeated dissyllables and open vowels must offend the fastidious ear; and, in the other instance, by the too frequent admission of a licentious arrangement of metre. example, (besides the 2d line of the second stanza above :)

"Argentea testudinis impulit


Insania: quandoque tumultuans

Nunc assidens infantibus angitur

Ingentium formidine nominum”.


Yet a bold and original spirit pervades all these expressions and if they be not correctly classical in their flow, they must be forgiven for their unborrowed harmony, and for that first of poetical virtues,

"Wild Nature's vigour stirring at the root!"

This writer, indeed, has more fire than any other in the vo lume, with the single exception of Robert Smith, also of King's College.

The opening of the ode (dated 1796) on the vain attempt of the Spaniards against Gibraltar, and on the subsequent treaty with Spain, by the last-mentioned author, is indeed truly poetical. We do not know any thing equal to it in modern Latin poetry; and we much doubt (absit dictis injuria) whether any thing superior to it can be found in Horace :

"Primo Creator Spiritus halitu
Caliginosi regna silentii

Turbavit, ingentesque aquarum
Luce nova tremefecit umbras;

"Tum firma disjecto emicuit mari
Moles, et immotum exeruit caput

Atlas, et æternùm nivalis

Caucasus. Hac tibi, Terra, sedes,


[blocks in formation]

Perpetua stabilita lege."

We shall not diminish our praise of these animated lines by any minute objections; only observing that, among many other specimens of the sublime, this ode exhibits the same general faults with that of Keate, namely a too great freedom of metrical construction. It should be remembered how seldom Horace betrays this irregularity

Mentemque lymphatam Mareotico.

The ode on Pompey's Pillar, dated 1802, by James Park of Trinity College, is of that inferior order of poetry which will allow the critic justly to specify its faults, whether of incorreetness or of insipidity. Errors which may be forgiven in such a passage as the preceding cannot be pardoned in such tame lines as,

[blocks in formation]

"where oft the ear the open vowel tires."-The ode indeed throughout is marked by a deficiency in spirit, in harmony, and in chaste construction. A close attention is required to discover the grammatical arrangement of the words; and we might quote numerous examples equal to the following in flat dulness;

"At tu volentem poscis adhuc lyram,
Columna; seu quòd flore Corinthio
Factes, laboratumque lautá

[ocr errors]

Arte decus; vel amica mavis

"Audire nautæ et certa fides vago," &c. &c.

The model of this style of composition must have been that unaccountable specimen of the Bathos in one of the finest odes of Horace,

« quibus

Mos unde deductus per omne
Tempus Amazonia securi

Dextras obarmet, quærere distuli.”—

The Praise of Astronomy, 1793, by Samuel Butler, of St. John's, will not add to the praise of its author. We are unwilling to rake up the juvenile indiscretions of a celebrated scholar: but we must admonish the academic youth against such a combination of faults as the following:


" Qui

[blocks in formation]

Pandens verenda arcana Scientia,
Quá lege cælum, pendulique
Machina sustineatur orbis".

where the double consonants in Spiritu and Scientiæ (an error of which Keate is also guilty) do neither more nor less than destroy the verse; and where the ditrochæus, pendulique, at the end of the third line of an Alcaic stanza, is not sanctioned by any authority whatsoever.

Michael Thomas Becker, of King's College, has an ode dated 1782, on Peace. - Peace to his manes!

Abraham Moore, of King's College, follows, in 1786, on the "Unfortunate Shipwreck of Richard Pierce." The excellent satirical tripos of Abraham Moore in Mores Academia Cantabrigiensis, and his pathetic hendecasyllables on the death of poor Tweddell, plead strongly for our pardon of his vile Alcaic ode:- - but alas !

"nec te tua plurima, Pantheu,

Labentem pietas, nec Apollinis infula texit."

What poetic patience can endure the subjoined barbarisms ? 66 non aliá duce

Te, Pierce, mandatum tuique
Dimidium melius procellis

"Credam, relictis, heù malè debitum !
nec jam, Pierce, aderit manus,

Quæ littori appulsum cadaver," &c. Sc.

Thomas Gisborne, of St. John's, 1777, wrote on the ruins of Herculaneum. We have lately written so much ourselves on the same subject, that we shall only say that Mr. Gisborne is but a moderate Latin poet; and that

"Mandavit atas, pande fauces,”

is an unadvisable rhythm for Alcaic verse,

John Tweddell,

(Ογ άρτι Γαλλοι ἦρινῳ καιρῳ βια

Έδρεψαν Αιδης — Richard Porson)

is a name beloved by every youthful scholar. He had in truth an extraordinary genius. Of his excellent Greek ode we shall speak presently. The present Latin ode, intitled Batavia Rediviva, and dated from Trinity College in 1788, has not perhaps the same excellence of classical imitation with the Greek, but it abounds in pleasing and poetical expression:

"An ille divini halitus ætheris,
Auhela vita vis, abit in putrem


[blocks in formation]

As Abraham Moore beautifully suggests in his address to the memory of Tweddell, the scholar who apostrophizes his shade may derive some consolation by reflecting

"Tue te quoque quòd tegant Athenæ !"*

Very different is the manner in which we are compelled to mention the next ode, on the taking of Malta, written by the Hon. Frederick Robinson, of St. John's College, dated 1801. We never saw a more childish production.

"Io! Britanni nunc hilares, Io
Triumphe! clament:"-

They must be "hilares Britanni” indeed, or rather « cheerful Christians," who can compassionately chirp over so feeble an

VIV as this. Scarcely a stanza is without a fault. Erigitque at the end of the third line of the third stanza, and uti in the sixth stanza, with the last syllable short, are merely trifles :-we have absolutely the following specimen of genuine mawkish


"jam Melites ruent

Mista indecoro mania pulvere ;
Ardebit arx invisa; priscus

Cedet bonos Equitumque nomen!!!"

Being truly desirous of deterring all juvenile scholars from the dangerous mistake of supposing that any quality in composition will atone for the want of spirit, we beg leave to exhibit an instance of the above style carried to its utmost perfection: - jam Meliten canit Vates misellus carmine languido ; Fractumque sermonem Latinum Debilibus repetit Camenis.

Henry Hartopp Knapp's ode, dated King's College 1803, is a much better composition. We select one stanza from it, of no common beauty, descriptive of the simple happiness of

This promising young man died at Athens.


« PreviousContinue »