Billeder på siden

threatening them with the weight of his utmost displeasure if they retained a Non-conformist to the Perth articles, and they were accordingly obliged to dismiss him. These factions, however, did not prevent the resort of students to the University, nor diminish the real and exertions of the patrons. New professors continued to be appointed for branches of science which were gradually disjoined from more general courses of study; and by this separation of objects, and division of labour, the prosperity of the institution was materially promoted. Meanwhile, the intolerant violence of the court towards the teachers remained unabated, and several fresh instances of deposition and even banishment occurred.

Such was the disturbed state of Scotland when Charles I. succeeded to the throne of these kingdoms. During his unfortunate reign, the policy which he pursued with regard to that country still farther incensed the nation, and gave rise to that association for the defence of its civil and religious rights which produced such mighty effects. Charles was too much occupied with political disputes to find time for patronising literature; and when, in 1633, he made a visit to Scotland, he paid no attention to the University of its capital.

During the period of the civil wars, of the Protectorate, and down to the Revolution, the University of Edinburgh, like other public seminaries, experienced equal violence from the successively predominating parties. Professors were appointed or expelled as the prevailing tyranny of the hour dictated; tests of opposite kinds were required from all the different members; and the interests of literature were thus, in the disgusting struggle for power, utterly contemned and nearly destroyed. In 1684 the privy council ordained,

That whosoever owned, or refused to disown, the declaration *, on oath, should be put to death, in the presence of two witnesses, though unarmed when taken. This excited the greatest terror and consternation throughout the whole country. The state of society had now become such that, in Edinburgh, attention to ordinary business was neglected, and every one was jealous of his neighbour.' (Vol. i. p. 307.)

From the contemplation of so disgusting a picture, we gladly turn to persons and circumstances of a calmer character, and of more happy influence on the interests of science and of mankind. The Revolution of 1688 occasioned the most auspicious changes in the management of the

* Of adherence to the Presbyterian form of worship.


Scotish Universities; and, down to the end of the 17th century, (when the first volume of the work before us closes) the University of Edinburgh in particular continued, in consequence of the liberal principles then introduced, steadily and progressively to improve in celebrity and usefulness. At this period, the number of professorships was ten, of which that of mathematics had been rendered particularly celebrated by the two Gregorys, James and David; the former being the inventor of the Gregorian telescope, the latter the author of the well known treatises on Optics and on Physical and Geometrical Astronomy; and both being the friends and correspondents of such men as Newton, Halley, and Wallis. We must also not omit to mention Maclaurin, the celebrated expounder of Newton, by whose recommendatory letter to the magistrates he had been preferred to the chair.

Having thus given a rapid abstract of the history of this University, from the period of its greatest difficulties until it attained the repose which is so necessary to literary pros-. perity, we have little room left to pursue the narrative farther, We will, however, take notice of two or three particulars. In 1703, Carstares, so well known for his collection of statepapers, was elected principal. He possessed a greater assemblage of talents than commonly falls to the lot of one person, and had ample scope for the exercise of them during the turbulent times in which he lived. He also enjoyed the entire confidence of King William; who, at his first interview with him when Prince of Orange, was struck with the acuteness, extensive views, and political information of his new acquaintance. He had been employed in confidential missions by the Prince, in the course of which he was ap prehended, and twice put to the torture of the Thumbikens * at Edinburgh. Such was his influence in affairs both of the state and of the church, that he was called Cardinal Carstares.

From the encouragement which had been given to science by the principles introduced at the Revolution, the number of professorships was still more augmented; and, in particular, the foundation was laid of that celebrated school of medicine which has now long maintained a high reputation throughout Europe. Munro was among the first of the professors called to this chair; and the catalogue of eminent teachers, who successively filled it for more than half a century, may be regarded as no trivial indication of the honesty and

* The Privy Council afterward presented him with this instrument of his torture.

E e 4

penetration penctration of the patrons. The Infirmary, an institution absolutely necessary to the completion of a medical school, was erected soon afterward; and we discharge a duty to society in recording that the family of Hopetoun were the principal contributors to this noble work of charity and science. The medical school was afterward still more improved by the separation of the professorships of the Theory and Practice of Medicine; and by the erection of two new chairs, those of Chemistry and Botany.

Mr. Bower has not carried his narrative lower down than 1760, although he intimates his intention of continuing it farther; and surely the period of Robertson, Fergusson, Blair, and Black, is not undeserving of attention.

On the whole, this performance bespeaks much laborious research ; and though, from an apparent solicitude to give a faithful narrative, the author has detailed some events and proceedings that are now of little moment, it possesses value as an accurate record of an institution which stands high among national seminaries.

The observations, also, which he has occasionally introduced on various plans of teaching and branches of science, are judicious and instructive, and indicate the diligence of his erudition. The book aspires not to the praise of elegance: and, besides occasional useless repetition, (as if the task had been resumed at long intervals, when the author had forgotten what he had already stated,) it is loaded with a common-place and too often inaccurate phraseology. Its merit is its fidelity, and its interest consists in pointing out some of the steps by which our northern neighbours have arrived at their reputation for learning : though this object, we must observe, might have been effected in a much less detailed and more connected narrative.

ART. XI. The Lament of Tasso. By Lord Byron. 8vo. pp. 19. Is. 60. Murray. 1817.

. WH

HILE we were in the act of penning the advice to Lord

Byron, which we ventured to offer when reviewing his Manfred in our last Number, it seems that his publisher was in some measure rendering that advice unavailing by printing another of his Lordship's works. It was even ushered to the world previously to the appearance of our critique ; and, although our suggestions were given with perfect sincerity, we acknowlege that we are pleased that they have not been instrumental in preventing (of which, perhaps, there was little risk, even had they been in time, the publication of the short poem now under our notice. We say this not only on 7.


[ocr errors]

account of the mere pleasure which we have received in reading this performance, but because we think that it strengthens the ground which we took in the commencement of our review, and because it contains something more than the “ word of promise” towards an entire fulfilment of the prophecy at its conclusion. If Lord Byron continues to display such powers as he has exhibited in the Lament of Tasso,' to divest his poetry of self or of its twin-shadow, - and still to write with energy, to excite our interest, and to command our sympathy,

- all of which he has done here, we shall indeed cease to associate with his muse all that is terrible, gloomy, and forbidding.'

Our readers are aware that Tasso was confined for seven years in the hospital of St. Anna, at Ferrara, by Alphonso II., the last Duke, who had some reason for supposing that his sister Leonora of Estè was the object of the poet's love. Lord Byron, whose works so generally follow the track of his travels, has lately visited the cell in which Tasso was confined for . imputed madness; and, identifying himself with the Italian bard, his Lordship has poured forth, in his name, this beautiful Lament.' In its pathos, which in this instance receives addition from the irregularity of the rhyme, its enérgy of thought, and its strength of expression, it is not surpassed by his former productions; and its wildness (for it has some portion of that quality) is so tempered, that the circle of pleasure is enlarged by including more to whom its beauties will be comprehensible.

Avoiding the particular mention of a few prosaic lines, and merely noticing, cn passant, the anachronism of which the poet is guilty in making Tasso employ his penance' in the composition of the “ Gierusalemme Liberata,which was published several

years before, we shall give the following extract:
• I have been patient, let me be so yet ;

I had forgotten half I would forget,
But it revives -Oh! would it were my lot
To be forgetful as I am forgot!
Feel I not wroth with those who bade me dwell
In this vast lazar-house of many woes?
Where laughter is not mirth, nor thought the mind,
Nor words a language, nor ev'n men mankind;
Where cries reply to curses, shrieks to blows,
And each is tortured in his separate hell
For we are crowded in our solitudes
Many, but each divided by the wall,
Which echoes madness in her babbling moods ;
While all can hear, none heed, his neighbour's call -
None! save that one, the veriest wretch of all,


Who was not made to be the mate of these,
Nor bound between distraction and disease.
Feel I not wroth with those who placed me here?
Who have debased me in the minds of men,
Debarring me the usage of my own,
Blighting my life in best of its career,
Branding my thoughts as things to shun and fear?
Would I not pay them back these pangs again,
And teach them inward sorrow's stifled groan?
The struggle to be calm, and cold distress,
Which undermines our stoical success?
No!-- still too proud to be vindictive - I
Have pardoned princes' insults, and would die.
Yes, sister of my Sovereign ! for thy sake
I weed all bitterness from out my breast,
It hath no business where thou art a guest;
Thy brother hates -- but I can not detest;

Thou pitiest not — but I can not forsake.' An allusion is made in the eighth stanza to the spirit with whom Tasso believed that he had intercourse. In our review of Manfred, we extracted a description of that character, beginning “ From my youth up;" and, as a contrast with that passage, we shall conclude our present article with the picture of Tasso's early life, and the lines by which it is introduced :

But thou art dearest still, and I should be
Fit for this cell, which wrongs me, but for thee.
The very love which locked me to my chain
Hath lightened half its weight; and for the rest,
Though heavy, lent me vigour to sustain,
And look to thee with undivided breast,

And foil the ingenuity of pain.
. It is no marvel - from my very

My soul was drunk with love, which did pervade
And mingle with whate'er I saw on earth;
Of objects all inanimate I made
Idols, and out of wild and lonely flowers,
And rocks, whereby they grew, a paradise,
Where I did lay me down within the shade,
Of waving trees, and dreamed uncounted hours,
Though I was chid for wandering; and the wise
Shook their white aged heads o'er me, and said
Of such materials wretched men were made,
And such a truant boy would end in woe ;
And that the only lesson was a blow;
And then they smote me, and I did not weep,
But cursed them in my heart; and to my haunt
Returned and wept alone, and dreamed again
The visions which arise without a sleep.
And with my years my soul began to pant

« ForrigeFortsæt »