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TRANSLATIONS FROM THE MODERN FRENCH POETS.
CASIMIR DE LA VIGNE.
Or Messenian Elegies. BARTHELEMY in his Anacharsis are apt to imagine that the battle of gave this title to certain elegies which Waterloo shows to disadvantage by treated of the oppression of the Mes- the side of the old-fashioned battle of senians by the Spartans : Delavigne the Boyne: the effect of the latter invests it with a somewhat arbitrary was the putting down “ the right generic acceptation, as descriptive of divine of kings to govern wrong" at poems applicable to all analogous once and for ever: whereas among circumstances, of whatever nation. the results of the former they see a He seems to boast of having intro- confederacy of kings, not against their duced into the literature of his coun- own people only, but against the try a new species of poem. It is very people of every country under heaven; evident that he would have been glad a conspiracy of the few against the if events had not supplied him with many; the press " curbed, and kept the occasion. The * redeunt Satur- curbed;" “ learned men not wantnia regna” is not his motto.
ed;" the Inquisition re-settled warm There is accordingly a large por- in their seats, and the miracles of tion of readers with whom the war- Prince Saint Hohenlohe in full elegies of Delavigne will not be po- bloom. pular. Neither his auspicious pro- This, however, is a matter of taste. nomen of Casimir, nor the budding For the sentiment which supplies the promise of his sirname, will stand that inspiration of the French poet, he poet in stead who profanely mourns may defend himself by the plea that over the catastrophe of Waterloo. it is epidemic. “A lively demoiselle Robert Southey (I like him best with- of the second class,” relates a sensible out the esquire—the plain Robert re- writer, who published an inquiry into minds me of old times and old prin- the duties of Christians with respect ciples), Robert Southey once said, “I to war, “gave her suffrage for war am one of those who cannot wish suc- and glory with much animation; and cess to an unjust cause, because my when I represented the attendant country supported it; and if there be miseries, put to flight all scruples any one who can, I desire not that with the heroic argument, « Plutôt man's approbation.” We might la guerre, plutôt la guerre, que la worthily sympathize with our coun- France ainsi avilie."* trymen's prowess; and in the in- Some good-natured allowance may stance of Waterloo, while the laurels be made for the declamations of a were fresh, this prowess was not dis- Frenchman, whose pride has been joined in men's expectations from the “ hurt past all surgery," and whose hope of rational freedom and the im-' heart is in his verses.
He has warm provement and peace of nations. feelings and a short memory. BlenWe had not yet learnt that parch- heim, and Quebec, and Maida, and ment was only a bit of skin torn from Vittoria, are not in his chronological a sheep's back, and that a seal to a table. The space traversed by his public instrument was nothing in the eye is filled only with Waterloo. He world but a lump of coloured bees'- thinks we have a single trophy. I wax mixed up with a little rosin. think we have more in number and We were therefore rather surprised better in quality than this. at the practical comment on mani- He will talk with us on the theme festoes concerning the internal rights of France “ until his eyelids can no of nations, furnished by the fact of longer wag.” But he has a word to the desired king being escorted to the spare for Greece, and one (wormdoor of his senate by British troops wood in its moral) for Naples. His with lighted matches. Simple men elegies come forth'“ like angel visits,
* Letters descriptive of a tour through France, &c. by John Sheppard.
few and far between.” It were to be of a sacrifice, is that of her brothers wished that he had exerted the fire spilt by the hands of mussulmen. and tenderness of his heart and fancy After this, we have no inclination for more frequently and copiously on statues and metamorphoses. the theme of Greece. The pathetic Delavigne is the author of two traand romantic incident which he has gedies--the Sicilian Vespers, and versified and adorned from the tra- Paria ; and a comedy—the Comevels of Pouqueville, is an earnest of dians : but his fame seems rather to what he might effect in this free and rest on his elegies. He has a free fair career of poetic glory. His flow and choice of metre and expreselegy “on the ruins of pagan Greece," sion, and exhibits warmth and boldthough elegant and brilliant, is too ness of sentiment, with a power of much like the production of an artist. condensing his thougbts in few The appeal to Christian Greeks har- words: and he has added another monizes ill with the licentious fable proof of the facilities of his native of Leda, and the restoration of the tongue in the sweet and lucid diction idols of heathen Athens. That they with which he has clothed the sensiare Christians we are reminded by the ble imagery, of nature. But his chief, reply of the old shepherd who, when merit is his masculine energy and the interrogated about the tomb of Eury- fire of national honour which his dice, answers that what the poet sees pieces breathe; and which entitle is the grave of his daughter; and that him to the name of the French Tyre the blood, which he mistakes for that tæus.
BATTLE OF WATERLOO.
They breathe no longer :-let their ashes rest;
Clamour unjust and calumny
Against the legions of your enemy,
thus avenged themselves : for you they die.
Can spare no drops to mourn your country's weal;
Against the common sorrow hard as steel:
You may be forced yourselves to feel.
For her defenders, dying in their fame;
What old man's cheek is tinged not with her shame?
Feels not the quickening spark of his old youthful flame?
The wounded on their slow cars dying,
O grief! what sight appals mine eye?
Sole 'gainst an army, pause-to die !
A reverend sorrow for their brave career
And first beheld them undisturb’d with fear. See then these heroes, long invincible,
Whose threatening features still their conquerors brave; Frozen in death those eyes are terrible;
Feats of the past their deep-scarr'd brows engrave; For these are they, who bore Italia's sun,
Who o'er Castilia's mountain barrier pass'd; The north beheld them o'er the rampart run,
Which frosts of ages round her Russia cast: All sänk subdued before them, and the date
Of combats owed this guerdon to their glory,
On some proud day, that should survive in story.
O curst delirium ! jars deplored
The strangers raze our fenced walls;
Haste- quench the torches of intestine war;
France ! France ! awake with one indignant mind !
And thou ! oh people, flush'd with our defeat,
Messene's daughter, weeping o'er her hearse,
Sing'st grand reverses, noble woes,
And weep for griefs more terrible than those.
The palm of combats, prodigies of art,
Into the waste of years depart,
The sun hangs hovering o'er the ocean's bound,
With equal rise and fall their strokes are plied;
One in a skiff is skimming the salt tide :
He drops the oars ; 'a lute his grasp supplies ;
He lifts his voice, a prophet strain ;
nd nightly sends its low-breathed sound
As captive Hebrews sigh'd their moan Beneath the drooping willows
To weep in peace an exile tly,
The wheat-ear glean'd upon our field;
For the fresh rills our fountains yield.
The pack by whom our deer are chased.
His children's board, the robber's booty ;
With curses on her daughter's beauty.
The club is drench'd in guiltless gore.
Our Christian blood, the despots then,
Share and allot the tribes of men.
And are we brethren? yet expire ?