ページの画像
PDF

& Te Deum” merrily, “ that they had won the beast of price.”

“If you will any more of this,
In the Friery at Richmond written it is,
In parchment good and fine,
How Freer Middleton so lende,
At Greta Bridge conjured a fiend,
In likenesse of a swine.”

This tale, which possesses some portion of Cervantick humour, resembles the tournament of Tottenham [See Percy’s Reliques, vol. ii.] in which the peasants of a village are introduced imitating all the soleminities of a tournament, and battering each other’s heads with flails, as knights did with long swords and maces. Another remarkable example of this class of comick romances, is entitled the “Hunting of the Hare.” A yeoman having found a hare.sitting in the common field of a village, announces his discovery to the inhabitants. The peasants, resolving to course her, bring to the spot their great yard dogs and mastiffs, “ with short shanks and never a tail.” The confusion and disarray which follow the congregating of this ill-assorted pack is described with great humour: the ban-dogs, more addicted to war than sport, fall foul of each other; their masters are gradually involved in the quarrel, and poor puss steals away, leaving her enemies engaged in a grand scene of worrying and wrangling, This poem, has never, we believe, been printed. We could add largely to these examples, and show that low romance formed a distinct style of composition during the middle ages: but we have already exceeded our bounds, and must dismiss Mr. Evans's publication, which, always curious, has been greatly improved by his personal taste and labour.

The next articles in our title, which are allied in subject to the Collection of Ballads, are two editions of the same work; Dr. Aikin's well known collection of songs, with the preliminary essay. Mr.

Evans, it seems, from his preface, considered Dr. Aikin to have given up any intention of reprinting his collection.

“The many years which have elapsed since the publication of the last edition, seemed to leave no hope that Dr. Aikin could be prevailed on to gratify the publick by a revision and enlargement of his work. He had declined the task in the prime, and vigour of life, and he might now think it unbecoming his years, to engage in a republication of these nugae camore. Turpe senilis amor, the doctor might exclaim, and though he might be pleased to see his volume ranged by the side of those of Percy, Ellis, and some other similar publications, yet he has abandoned the friendly office of revision to other hands.”

Mr. Evans has, however, reckoned without his host in this matter, and we are sorry that he did not take some more certain means of ascertaining the doctor's intentions, considering his own labours; for we are not to suppose, that one who is an editor, as well as a bookseller, would have so far neglected the comitas due to a brother author, as to publish against him a rival edition of his own work. Dr. Aikin prefaces his edition with the following account of his motlves:

“As inquiries were still from time to time made after it among the booksellers, the editor was asked the question, whether he had any intention of reprinting it; accompanied with the intimation, that, as the copy-right was expired, should he decline the business, others would be ready to undertake it. Conscious that the Essays were the juvenile attempts of one whose taste was by no means matured, and whose critical knowledge was circumscribed within narrow limits, the editor was unwilling that his book should again be given to the publick with all its imperfections on its head. He was obliged, therefore, to declare, that if it were reprinted at all, it should be with many material alterations, corresponding to his own change of taste and opinion in various points during so longan interval.

“Under these almost compulsory circumstances, although heperhapsshould notnow

have chosen for the first time to appear as the collector of productions, the general strain of which is more suitable to an earlier period of life, yet he thought he might, without impropriety, avail himself of the opportunity of making a new and much more extensive selection of compositions which will not cease to be favourites with the lovers of elegant poetry, whatever be the vicissitudes of general taste.” In the singular predicament of reviewing two rival editions of the same work, and without pretending to give a decision against Mr. Evans, although we think he has treated Dr. Aikin with somewhat less attention than his age, situation, and talents perhaps demanded, we cannot regret that we are possessed of both editions of the book, and trust that (as the old song runs) “the world's wide and there's room for us all.” We are particularly glad to have an opportunity of comparing Dr. Aikin's original ideas upon the subject of song writing, with those which he has since adopted. His four essays upon songs in general, upon ballads and pastoral songs, upon passionate and descriptive songs, upon ingenious and witty songs, are now blended into one general essay; but we love the classical turn of these little discourses so well, that we are glad they are preserved in their original state. Such directions and rules of composition, whether in their separate and detailed, or in their new moulded shape, were never more necessary than at the present day. The marriage between Harmony and “Immortal Verse,” has, like fashionable wedlock, frequently made some very ill-matched pairs; and we suspect that Poetry must soon sue for a separate maintenance The ladies, who ought, in common charity, to feel for her situation, are those who aggravate her hardships; for it is rare to hear a fair songstress utter the words of the song which she

quavers forth. But where taste and feeling for poetry happen to be united with a sweet and flexible voice, it is scarcely possible to mention a higher power of imparting and heightening social pleasure. We have heard Dr. Aikin's simple ballad: “It was a winter's evening, and fast came down the snow,” set by Dr. Clarke, sung with such beautiful simplicity as to draw tears even from the eyes of reviewers. But the consideration of modern song opens to the critick a stronger ground of complaint, from the degeneracy of the compositions which have been popular under that name. Surely it is time to make some stand against the deluge of nonsense and indecency which has of late supplanted, in the higher circles, the songs of our best poets. We say nothing of the “Nancies of the hills and vales.” Peace to all such! let the milliner and apprentice have their ballad, and have it such as they can understand. Let the seaman have his “tight main-decker,” and the countess her tinseled canzonet. But when we hear words which convey to every man, and we fear to most of the women in society, a sense beyond what effrontery itself would venture to avow; when we hear such flowing from the lips, or addressed to the ears, of unsuspecting innocence, we can barely suppress our execration. This elegant collection presents, to those who admire musick, a means of escaping from the too general pollution, and of indulging a pleasure which we are taught to regard as equally advantageous to the heart, taste, and understanding. Both editions are considerably enlarged by various songs extracted from the best modern poets, and in either shape the work maintains its right to rank as one of the most classical collections of songs in any language.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

** 1708–AS I was sure that Marlborough could make no arrangements but what were excellent, I went the day after the battle of Oudenarde to see my mother, at Brussels. What tears of affection did she shed on beholding me again with some addition of glory! I told her, however, that Marlborough's portion seemed greater than mine, as at Hochstett. The joy of revenge had some share in that, occasioned by our victory. She was glad to see the king humbled, who had left her, for another woman, in his youth, and exiled her in his old age. It is remarkable that in hers, she married the duke d'Ursel, without assuming his name. Nobody knew this; it could not have been a match of conscience or convenience, but probably of ennui and idleness. The fifteen days which I thus passed with her, were the most agreeable of my life. I parted from her with the more pain, as it was probable that we should not see each other again. On the last day of my visit the troops from the Moselle arrived. We were then as strong as the French. I sent eight battalions to reenforce Marlborough’s corps, which covered Flanders. I left the rest to cover Brussels, and rejoined him at the camp of Eichin. e, Ouverkirke, and myself, agreed upon sending a strong detachment to lay waste Artois and Picardy, and

thus compel Vendome to leave his camp. Vendome, who guessed our intention, remained immovable. I proposed the siege of Lisle; the deputies of the states-general thought fit to be of a different opinion. Marlborough was with me, and they were obliged to hold their tongues. The siege was committed to me, while Marlborough was to cover it against the army of the duke of Burgundy. The latter with 60,000 men, encamped near Pont des Pierres; and I with 40,000, after investing the city, took up my head quarters at the abbey of Loos, on the 13th of August. The brave and skilful Boufflers, with a garrison of sixteen battalions, and four regiments of dragoons, cut out plenty of work for me. The job, so far from being easy, was a dangerous one; for Mons was not in our possession. My first attack on fort Cateleau was repulsed; the works undertaken the same day to drain a large pond which was in my way, also failed. I ordered epaulements to be made, for the fire of the place annoyed us to such a degree, that a cannon-ball carried off the head of the valet of the prince of Orange, at the moment when he was putting on his master's shirt. It may easily be supposed that he was obliged to take another, and to remove his quarters. I opened the trenches, and on the 23d the besieged made * * * *

a sortie, when lieutenant-general Betendorff, who commanded there, was taken prisoner. Boufflers treated him exceedingly well. The festival of St. Louis, which he celebrated with three general discharges of all His artillery, cost us some men. In the night between the 26th and 27th, the besieged made a terrible sortie; I gained the post of the mill of St. Andrew; Boufflers retook it; and I there lost 600 men. Marlborough sent me word that Berwick having reenforced the duke of Burgundy, the army, now 120,000 strong, was marching to the relief of Lisle. The deputies of the statesgeneral, always interfering in every thing, and always dying of fear, asked me for a reenforcement for him. I went to his camp to offer him one. He said: “Let us go together, and reconnoitre the ground between the Deule and the Marck.” After we had examined it, he said: “I have no occasion for one, I shall only move my camp nearer to your’s.” Vendome proposed not to lose a day, but instantly attack the army of observation, and the besieging force. “... I cannot,” said the duke of Burgundy; “I have sent a courier to my grandfather to inquire his pleasure.” Conferences were held at Versailles, and the king sent his booby Chabillard to his grandson's camp. He went up with him into the steeple of the village of Sedin, to view our two armies, and he decided against giving us battle. I cannot conceive how Vendome could forbear running mad; another, with less zeal, would have sent every thing to the devil; and he, a better grandson of a king of France than the other, took the trouble, the day before, to go so close to Marlborough's position to reconnoitre, that he was grazed by a cannon-ball. I had returned to Marlborough's camp to be his volunteer, if he had been attacked. But (while I think of it) a Chamillard, that is, in one word, a Vol. v. g

young prince of no character, and an old king who had lost his, were quite sufficient to fill Vendome's heart with rage. He was obliged by them to retreat, as if he had been beaten. I continued the siege, sure of not being interrupted, and took the redoubt of the gate of Flanders, and some others; but after three hours fighting for one of the most essential, I was driven back, and pursued to my trenches. I scarcely stirred from them, having the king of Poland and all my young princes at my side; for it was necessary to set an example, and to give orders. I ordered two assaults to facilitate the taking of the covered way; always repulsed, but a horrible carnage. Five thousand English, sent me by Marlborough to repair my losses, performed wonders, but were thrown into disorder. We heard the cry of Vive le Roi et Boufflers / I said a few words in English to those brave fellows who rallied round me; I led them back into the fire; but a ball below the left eye knocked me down senseless. Every body thought me dead, and so did I too. They found a dung-cart, in which I was conveyed to my quarters. First my life, and then my sight, was despaired of. I recovered both. The ball had struck me obliquely. Here was another unsuccessful attack; out of 5,000 men, not 1,500 returned, and 1,200 workmen were there killed. . Being prevented for some time, by my wound from interfering in any thing, I left the command of the siege to Marlborough, who delivered his to Ouverkerke. He effected a lodgment in a tenaillon on the left; but a mine baffled the assault and the assailants. Marlborough countermined some of them, and took all possible pains to spare me trouble on my return. He was obliged to eat in publick, in order to cheer my army, and returned to his own. The chevalier de Luxembourg deceived me by introducing ammuinition, of which the besieged were in great want; and a captain, named Dubois, deceived me by swimming with a note from Boufflers to the duke of Burgundy, informing him, that though the trenches had been opened forty days, I was not yet completely master of any of the works. “Nevertheless, Monseigneur,” added he, “I cannot hold out beyond the 15th or 20th of October.” I was in want of powder. A single ietter from Marlborough to his friend; queen Anne, occasioned a quantity to be sent me, with fourteen battalions, by the fleet of viceadmiral Byng, who landed them at Ostend. Every body is acquainted with the stupidity of Lamotte, who not only suffered this convoy to reach me, but got a sound drubbing for his whole corps that was intended to prevent it. Being completely recovered from my wound, I was night and day at the works, which Boufflers, also present every where, was 'incessantly interrupting or anhoying. I bethought me of a stratagem to give frequent. alarms for several anights, at a half moon, with a view to attack it afterwards in open day, being persuaded that the wearied soldiers would take that time for repose. This scheme succeeded. I ordered an assault upon a salient angle; and that succeeded. I directed the covered way to be attacked, and again succeeded. I thence made a breach in the curtain, and enlarged another in a bastion; and when I was at length working at

the descent of the ditch, the marshal, ,

who had every day invented some new artifice, sometimes tin boxes, at others earthen pots filled with grenades, and done all that valour and science could suggest, offered to capitulate on the 22d of September. Without mentioning any conditions, I promised to sign such as he should propose to me. “This, M. le Marechal,” so I wrote to him, “is -to show you my perfect regard for

your person, and I am sure that a brave man like you will not abuse it. I congratulate you on your excellent defence.” My council of war, which I summoned out of politeness, objected to the article that the citadel should not be attacked on the side next the town. I yielded, having my plan in my head, and wrote to Boufflers: “Certain reasons, M. le Marechal, prevent me from signing this article, but I give you my word of honour to observe it. I hope in six weeks to give you fresh proofs of my admiration.” Boufflers retired into the citadel, and I entered the city with Marlborough, the king of Poland, the landgrave of Hesse, &c. In the morning we went to church, and at night to the play, and all the business of the capitulation being finished on the 29th of October, I the same day ordered the trenches to be opened before the citadel. Before I proceed to this siege, I ought to relate a circumstance that happened to me during that of the city. A clerk of the post-office wrote to the secretary of general Dopf, desiring him to deliver to me two letters, one from the Hague, and the other I know not whence. I opened the letter, and found nothing but a greasy paper. Persuaded, as I still am, that it was a mistake, or something of no consequence, which I might, perhaps, have been able to read had I taken the trouble to hold the paper to the fire, I threw it away. Somebody picked it up, and it was said that a dog, about whose neck it was tied, died poisoned in the space of twenty-four hours. What makes me think this untrue, is, that at Versailles they were too generous, and at Vienna too religious, for such a trick. The ninth day the besieged made a vigorous sortie. The prince of

, Brunswick, who repulsed it, receiv

ed a wound from a musket-ball in the head. The eleventh, a still more vigorous sortie of the cheva

« 前へ次へ »