« EelmineJätka »
critiques of an intensely sui generis description in the pages of the Critic and the dissenting magazines. We had for some time anticipated that this magnus Apollodorus would be sooner or later taken notice of, in no complimentary way, by the author of “Firmilian"-50 sedulous appears to be his “ bilious attacks," acute as well as chronic, on Professor Aytoun—their bitterness savouring of that personal ill-will which makes one suspect that Apollodorus may have been a rejected contributor to Maga, or in some such experience have contracted the plethora of spleen he takes little pains to subdue or to disguise. To give one example out of many : speaking of Aytoun's Lays of the Cavaliers, Mr. George Gilfillan says, they “ are but Scott's cast-off clothes. Of Scott's sincerity there can be no doubt—of Aytoun's there may be much. . . . Aytoun's is the small spite of a schoolboy who confounds impudence with cleverness, and thinks that, because connected with Christopher North, he may indulge in similar freaks of fancy, and present the distaff without the Hercules—the contortions without the inspiration—the buffooneries or profanities of Falstaff without his wit, his bonhommie, or his rich originality.” Now for the retort courteous :
Enter APOLLODORUS, a Critic.
Of our young poets, their crustaceous sloughthe poems at whose nativity Apollodorus has played Lucina, being those specifically assailed in this satire on the Spasmodic School, -as the LifeDrama of Alexander Smith, Bigg's Night and the Soul, &c. To Apollodorus on the qui vive for a new discovery, there enters one Sancho, a Costermonger, singing as how,
Down in the garden behind the wall,
Merrily grows the bright-green leek;
The winds blow heavy, the little pigs squeak.
Hark to their music, Juanna my sweet! A very godsend for Apollodorus! Seraphic melody to him is the costermonger's strain. He thanks heaven that here he has lighted on a genuine bard, a creature of high impulse, and unsoiled by coarse conventionalities of rule ; on a heaven-born minstrel, who labours not to sing, because his bright thoughts resolve themselves at once, artlessly, with grace beyond the reach of. art, into truest divinest poesy, without the aid of balanced artifice, and in all the freshness and simplicity that beseem the songster's profession. And therefore Apollodorus greets his new protégé in posse with an emphatic “ All hail, great poet!" The great poet, thus arrested in his inspired career of minstrelsy, wonders what the civil-spoken gent is after, and evidently suspects him of a design to chaff him. "Save you, my merry master,” answers the great poet, in courteous return for the All hail. And then, with an eye to the main chance, he continues : “ Need you any leeks or onions? Here's the primest cauliflower, though I say it, in all Badajoz. Set it up at a distance of some ten yards, and I'll forfeit my ass if it does not look bigger than the Alcayde's wig. Or would these radishes suit your turn? There's nothing like your radish for cooling the blood and purging distempered humours."
Thy reinsbut here the costermonger puts in his oar. He has been patient up to this swell in the rhapsody; but 'tis the last ounce breaks the camel's back, and the costermonger, who has put up with the allusions to his donkey and his drag, finds the meddling with his “reins" too much for him. So he says, says he, “ Lookye, master, I've dusted a better jacket than yours before now, so you had best keep a civil tongue in your head. Once for all, will you buy my radishes ?"
[He is crushed by the fall of the body of HAVERILLO. This too literal fulfilment of the suppliant's petition, is occasioned by Firmilian's hurling the said Haverillo, a well-to-do bardling, from the top of the pillar of St. Simeon Stylites, upon which Firmilian has taken an unfurnished lodging, and beneath which the ill-starred Apollodorus is standing when Haverillo comes down with a vengeance. In the dreadful finale, when Firmilian is hunted to despair and destruction by a set of ignes fatui, amid the damning charges they heap up against him they yet glance with indulgent tenderness on this one good deed, of which indirectly he was the doer, the consigning Apollodorus to “immortal smash." For they say,
Give him some respite--give him some praise-
He has flattened the cockscomb of Apollodorus ! That the veritable Apollodorus will consider himself utterly smashed by the doughty Firmilian, is more than the most sanguine can expect. Doubtless he will be found alive and kicking in many a paulo-postfuturum “ article," which, however and alas, the admirers of Bon Gaultier and readers of “ Firmilian” are but too likely never to see or even hear of.
The extraordinary hero of Sydney Yendys' unfinished magnum opus, is answerable for the vagaries and wickedness of Firmilian himself. The murderous empiricism of Balder is illustrated in the soliloquy on the summit of the Stylites' pillar, and that among the lonely mountains where the Student of Badajoz tries to feel the luxury of remorse, and doesn't, can't; no, not for the life of him. He has been as sinful as ever he could ; has done to death a batch of his bosom cronies, and a nameless crowd besides ; and yet he is unable to enjoy the excitement of a fevered conscience. He has been a wholesale and retail dealer in crime, but cannot make a comfortable return, cannot “realise” a new sensation, such as his soul lusteth after. “ Three days have I," he plaintively murmurs,
Been wandering in this desert wilderness
Yet nothing comes to fright me! But he gets into trouble at last, with the Ignes Fatui, who lure him on to confusion and a quarry, on a certain barren moor, where, says he,.
-Two years ago,
To care for such an insect-worm as he. And now the wills-o'-the-wisp make “the seeing man walk in the path of the blind" -mooting impertinent inquiries the while after the fate of one of his recent victims :
Chorus of IGNES FATUI.
What have you done to Lilian?
How fared it with Lilian,
Firmilian, Firmilian ? So much for the Balder tragedy. Then again what admirer of Walter and Life-Drama-tics but will recognise the source of inspiration of such verses as these :
Let the red lightning shoot athwart the sky,
To old Orion, and his whimpering hound ; &c. or these :
I knew a poet once ; and he was young,
So fared it with the poet that I knew.
O my beautiful!
Shall I answer back ?
So look I, Mariana, on thine eyes! Surely it is quite credible that some of the least-ways" discriminating admirers of the Spasmodic School may, on the strength of these and similar excerpts, come to one of two conclusions-either that this new poet, Percy Jones to wit, is quite equal to Alexander Smith, or that he has unblushingly “cribbed" from the “ Life-Drama" its best lines by the dozen.
If there is any vital principle (as surely there is ?) in poets who can write as the authors of “ Balder” and the “Life-Drama" can, the satirical rogueries of “Firmilian” will do them no particular harm, and may do them a deal of good. A poetical constitution that wants stamina to survive a heavier blow and greater discouragement than this, must be too puny to deserve length of days. We have hope that the patients mainly concerned, however “ Firmilian" may disagree with them at present, will one day allow, each with a cordial experto crede of his own, that, even if it is good for nothing else, at least it is good for spasms.
THE MAIDEN OF RODENCHILD.
BY CAPTAIN MEDWIN.
So feverish and boiling a maiden's blood ?
And lists to her heart-and its ebb and flood-
In vain--for moveless the pendulum stood.
And ever on-five-six-and seven-
But a hymn mounts over the cry, to Heaven!
The return of the holy Easter-even.