« PreviousContinue »
Ever too modest or too proud to rate
Myself by my companions. They were written in 1796.
Page 73, line 21. So thro' the vales of Loire the bee-hives glide, An allusion to the floating bee-house, which is seen in some parts of France and Piedmont.
Page 74, line 6.
After line 6, in the MS.
See the Rape of the Lock, Canto V.
Page 75, line 8. And, with the swallow, wings the year away! It was the boast of Lucullus that he changed his climate with the birds of passage.
How often must he have felt the truth here inculcated, that the master of many houses has no home!
The following Poem (or, to speak more properly, what remains of it *) has here and there a lyrical turn of thought and expression. It is sudden in its transitions, and full of historical allusions ; leaving much to be imagined by the reader.
The subject is a voyage the most memorable in the annals of mankind. Columbus was a person of extraordinary virtue and piety, acting, as he conceived, under the sense of a divine impulse; and his achievement the discovery of a New World, the inhabitants of which were shut out from the light of Revelation, and given up, as they believed, to the dominion of malignant spirits.
Many of the incidents will now be thought extravagant; yet they were once perhaps received with something more than indulgence. It was an age of miracles; and who can say that among the venerable legends in the library of the Escurial, or the more authentic records which fill the great chamber in the Archivo of Seville, and which relate entirely to the deep tragedy of America, there are no volumes that mention the marvellous things here described ? Indeed the story, as already told throughout Europe, admits of no heightening. Such was the religious enthusiasm of the early writers, that the Author had only to transfuse it into his verse; and he appears to have done little more ; though some of the circumstances, which he alludes to as well-known, have long ceased to be so. By using the language of that day, he has called up Columbus“ in his habit as he lived;" and the authorities, such as exist, are carefully given by the Translator.
* The Original in the Castilian language, according to the Inscription that follows, was found among other MSS. in an old religious house near Palos, situated on an island formed by the river Tinto, and dedicated to our Lady of La Rábida. The Writer describes himself as having sailed with Columbus; but his style and manner are evidently of an after-time,