« EelmineJätka »
bility of parts separated from an animal longer than common ait. The subject needs a more ample discussion; perhaps M. Humboldt will supply this desideratum in his expected work.
A miscellany of surgical cases and remarks completes the volume before us. This part ranges under the heads of the operation for the aneurism, of emphysema, and of the use of mercurial fumigations. Particular illustrations are copiously adduced, and there is much minute observation; minute, but not therefore the less important; for it is impoffible to treat well of surgical operations without much minuteness.
We think that we may venture to assure our industrious author that there was not the least occasion for the concluding apology. No inquirer, who takes up his papers with a proper disposition, will be sensible of a want of finishing.' In regard to style, we consider them as the best-that is, the most fimple, which their author has yet produced.
ART. XIII. Donald Bane: án Heroic Poem. In Three Books. By George Skene, Esq. 8vo. 2s. 6d. Robinsons. 1796.
AT T length a just taste in epic poetry is beginning to arise in this country; and we may hope to see the military conflicts of our ancestors, the achievements of our heroic ages, described in a manner worthy of them and of us. The embellishments of our later poets, which disguise all truth of manners, and, with the translators of Homer, attribute refinement to men engaged in the struggles of barbarians, are insensibly sinking to that level, which has already floated the courtierpoetry and theatric politeness of the obsolete French school into the pool of oblivion. We now dare to read and write "all that may become a man" in its natural naked fidelity: we may therefore now expect writings fitted for men of all times and all places.
We have read with pleasure Mr. Skene's rough northern poem ", and, though it has many defects, we form high expectations with regard to the author: we shall make copious extracts from it, comprising part of the episode of the unfortunate herald, sent by Robert, King of Scots, to demand the homage of the unsubmitting Donald Bane, a chieftain of the western isles; Donald Bane speaks:
*The short preface informs us that this poem is founded on the remembrance of an old historical manuscript, preserved at the seat of Mr. Skene of Skene, member in the parliament before last, for the county of Aberdeen; as well as on the tradition of the peasants in that neighbourhood.'
Rav. SEPT. 1797.
"Audacious Lowlander, again speak out
Insulting Robert's message! He shall know
A king am I greater than he in power
And spirit, able to enforce my right,
And lay his boasting low, as I will thee,
His servant and vile second in my wrongs.
Subject to him!--No, rather let me live
Lord of myself, to none accountable,
My roof a rocky cave, and roots my fare!"
He ended; but, with visage all inflamed,
Still with his passion shook the solid rock.
Calmly the youth, with manly face erect
As if in Robert's court he stood beloved
By all that love, while courage on his brow
Allied to gentleness and beauty smiled,
Thus answered, as th' impending ruin shook
Astonished o'er his head. "Strike, rebel, strike !
Thou art not bound by loyal honour's laws.
Strike, rebel, strike! I came for death prepared.
But thou, inflicting it, shalt be the shame
Of nature and of nations, infamy
Thy lot, and pity leagued with glory mine.
And thou by this, if any title else
Remain to thee of kingdom, wilt disclaim it,
Whilst I to serve my king with joy expire.
Ambassadors of kings are sacred held
By kings, but thou art none. Thus Robert speaks
To thee, a subject of his crown :
And late demand of lands he disavows;
But yet advises, ere his wrath arise..
Above thy long delayed submission, fly
Lest ruin overtake thee, fly with speed,
Due homage give, a rebel else proclaimed."
"A rebel! Die!" the furious Donald roared,
"And messenger like thee whoever comes
Shall swiftly to the lowest hell be hurled !"
He roared so loud that the firm-founded rock
Shook to its base, and through the gothic dome
Loud echo rung. With ponderous blade uplift,
The bane of many a foe and vassal, soon
In blood the daring youth would have been drown'd,
Though meeting with a placid mien the blow
And resolute: but through the martial host
Ran hollow murmurs, hardly now restrained
By Donald's awful eye; for in their breasts,
Where fiercer passions flamed, soft pity slept
Like gems in the rude sea, though seldom seen,
And sympathy for one so young, so brave,
To death devoted. Nor was heard in vain,
Amid the rest, a fainting female voice,
save him, brother!" sweet as the lament
Of Philomel amid a torrent's roar.
Macdonald swift behind his father rush'd
With rosy check bedewed, and stayed his arm;
Then, round the strange youth twining, interposed
His massy shield almost in vain; so fierce
The burning fury urged his brawny arm,
With aught but blood unquenchable; quick down,
Of opposition reckless (though restrained
In mid career and weakened, else resolved
On death) the fatal sword of Donald fell.
The purple torrent from the filial arm
And from the stranger's shoulder mingling poured
In friendship indivisible. Enraged,
The frowning father with relifted arm,
And marble heart, at once would have destroyed
The son and foe, and to the silent dust
Their youthful glory and their lives consigned;
Had not humanity, that hovered round
Dovelike, found refuge in the rugged hearts
Of those who 'tended nearest on their lord,
And who surrounding the devoted pair
Rescued them. Who can speak the dreaded chicf,
That, towering high above the rest, his face
In grisly horror clothed, and rough red beard,
Token of rage, quick breathing, vented thus
His ire?"Am I the father, sovereign lord,
Of this my son, and these my subjects? I
Their chief? And dare they brave me? Sacred hilt
Of my blood-searching sword! Thou legacy
Of many a father to his son bequeathed,
Since first our mighty race, in ancient days
And times forgotten by an upstart world,
Superior shone? The son that durst presume
To hold his shield up in his father's face
Shall never handle thee; but in a dark
And deep abode shall linger out his life,
Fit place for parricides: there sigh alone
The livelong night and day, no day to him,
Devoid of light; for never shall the sun,
The glory of the globe, look down on him
Who durst defy his father, durst defy
His life's sole arbiter! his lord! his king!"
So saying, thrice he kissed the fatal blade,
And thrice with horrid grin he murmured out,
As Boreas growling in the north bespeaks
The tempest nigh, his never-broken oaths.
His hapless son thus hearing, nought replied.
Unchangeable he knew the dire decree
By fate or fortune; and he knew it vain,
As vain as 'tis to reason with the rage
Of roaring lions, or remove the rock
Whereon his castle stood, to seek by sighs
Or tears to melt the unrelenting chief,
Whose verdict once pronounced, ne'er knew recall,
Or right or wrong; who only with his life
Could seem to yield, impregnable to prayer
Ia mind, as from without to force of arms.
"Pity me, father! grant me death," he cried;
"Imprison not my soul, but in the earth
Enwrap my body; else the glorious flame
Within me will not brook a loathsome cell;
But, breaking its vile chain, will fly to heaven,
Spurning its dull abode; nor can abide
In rust and ignominy, shame and sorrow
For many a day, in dark oblivion drowned.
Ah! sweet and flowery seems the vale of death
To noble souls enslaved." While thus he spake
In vain, the temperate bloom grew on his cheek,
By lust or base desire, like May's cool rose,
Unscorched, unsullied; on his polished brow
The shield of valour shone; his eye contained
Benevolence, and seemed to swim in tears
Of pity for the sorrows of mankind,
Save in the rage of battle when he fought,
Heroic ardour breathing: but in peace
His gentle mind was tuned to love and friendship,
To love and fellowship in virtue tuned.
His daring look relaxed, the stranger now
(Pitfour his name, for excellence preferred
From Robert's warlike court) felt pity's pang;
Before insensible of death and all
Its agonies; and now his heart relented,
On him his
And threw forth sighs; and while the melting pearls
Bedewed his cheek, he prayed the chief to spend
his son, whose crime
Was sweet humanity alone. As soon
He might have calmed the rapid whirlwind's rage.
His suit was answered by a speech of scorn.
Vain fool, to think of moving my resolve!"
Replied the haughty lord: "Thy master too
As vain to send thee hither, servant fit
To execute his folly, and atone
His fault in prison! Away with them, away!
And in the dungeon of the rock immured
That overlooks the ocean, let them rue
Their insolence, and to the noisy waves
Re-echo their complaints. To thec, Kildare,
To whom without belief I've listened long,›
Defending still my son against thy doubts
By truth inspir'd, which now the rebel proves,
In open day opposing me with arms,
And sheltering my foe-to thee I trust
Their punishment, commanding thee to make
Them feel their crime, and wash it with their tears.'-
• Meantime the beauteous Flora, left alone,
Lost all her cheerfulness; and for the crowd
Of her attendants chose the silent shade
Of solitude; or spent the livelong day,
In wandering pensive on the cranckled shore,
And sighing to the sea, or venting loud
Her virgin wishes. Oft the stranger's shape
And countenance serene, and manly mind,
As when he smiled beneath the falling sword
Of her incensed sire, rose to her view
In all the pride of beauty, when her soul
Sunk under the soft sympathy. Aloud
She called upon him solitary; none
But Heaven was privy to her lovelorn heart,
And its lamentings borne upon the winds,
That sadly pitied her and sighed for sorrow.
But when encircled with the giddy train
Of easy hearts, she hung her silent head,
And, like a lily drooping with the weight
Of dewy tears, abstracted and alone
Amid the multitude she stood forlorn.
One day, as was her custom, wandering far
Upon the sandy beach, beseeching Heaven
For such a mate as fancy formed Pitfour,
She reached the foot of a stupendous rock,
Whose top was circled with the clouds, and base
Beat by the sea, and weary sat her down
To think of love, and feel delightful pangs,
Which ne'er till now her maiden heart had known.
She sat, and often wiped the starting tear,
While gazing on the rude waves, unperceived
Surrounding her, so quickly flowed the tide.
With vacant eye she gazed, and wept, nor from
Her trance of love awoke, until she found
Upon a craggy piece of rock herself
Amid the ocean seated: like the queen
Of love she looked, sweet offspring of the waves-
More goddess than the goddess-for she crowned
With innocence and chastity the charms
Of beauty bright as hers.-Unlike the garb
Of courtly-painted dames, the mantle was
Of tartan which she wore, and braided neat
Her auburn tresses, upward, Dian like
Were plaited carefully; her swelling cheek,
Where health and beauty revelled late, had lost
The dimpled smile of ease and mirth, and gained
A more enchanting look, serene and grave,
Of sensibility, and youthful care
In love; her eye, so brilliant lately beaming,