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vient to useful information and the general welfare of mankind. True, if there be any merit in the mere acquisition of knowledge, it is far inferior, in our opinion, to that which belongs to the practical benefactor of our
The philanthropy of scientific pursuits is after all their chief recommendation, and the man who practically applies bis koowledge to the benefit and advantage of his fellow men, must ever rank far before him who sits within the magic circle of useless and inapplicable learning, and regards every disclosure of its mysteries as a profanation and a sacrilege.
Theodric, a Domestic Tale ; and other Poems. By Thomas Campbell.
It is now more than fifteen years since Mr. Thomas Campbell favored the public with · Gertrude of Wyoming,' and more than twenty-seven since • The Pleasures of Hope' first saw the light. The literary world has been long eagerly watching for the redemption of the pledge virtually given by the publication of those poems. Such a hope was excited no less by the intrinsic merit and deep fund of poetical talent evinced in them, than by that universal popularity which held forth such inducements to their author, again and again to make his skill awake the weary Nine.' But, with the exception of some occasional stanzas, containing in tbemselves the fullest evidence that the will, and not the ability, was wanting. Mr. Campbell, after remaining silent for fifteen long years, has not, until now, offered to the public a poem of any considerable length. We greeted its appearance with a hearty welcome, and opened the little volume with the appearance of being well pleased in the perusal How far our anticipations have been gratified, we do not deem it necessary to declare ; but proceed,
without farther delay, to give a faithful analysis of the story on which • Theodric' is founded.
The poet, accompanied by a friend, supposes himself to be wandering in a churchyard in Switzerland. A monument of white marble attracts his attention, and his friend thereupon communicates to him the history of the maiden whose remains slumber beneath it. Her younger brother, Udolph, it appears, had joined the Austrian Army, at the age of sixteen, and had the good fortune to be put under the command of Theodric. To this officer Udolph became zealously attached, and, as was very natural for one of his age, in his letters to his parents and sister (Julia,) gave a very exaggerated account of his leader's bravery. His parents, as was very natural for them, 'dried their tears and smiled' at such hyperboles of youthful style;' and his sister, as was, no doubt, very natural for her, fell bitterly in love with this darling theme of her brother's praise. It so happened, that
“ Once, when with hasty charge of horse and man
Our arriere guard had checked the Gallic van," Theodric, in visiting the outposts, discovered Udolph “ wounded, weltering on the ground;' wherewithal he was moved with compassion, that he took the young man to his own tent, sent for the doctor, and had his wounds attended to. Nor was this all: the charitable commander, fearing that the newspapers might exaggerate the state of Udolph's wounds as much as they had exaggerated his own merits, dropped a line to the old people, assuring them that their son was but slightly injured, and enclosed in bis letter a certificate from the regimental surgeon to the same effect. Udolph's parents returned a very polite answer, giving Theodric an abundance of thanks for all his kindness. (p. 11, 12.)
The poet then takes occasion to introduce, if we may so say, a hiatuswould we could add, valde deflendus ! He passes over a campaign of three years' continuance, at the expiration of which, there came a peace. The camp broke up, and Udolph, with much sorrow, leaves his old commander and returns home, carrying with him a portrait of Theodric, which his sister Julia instantly recognizes as a perfect resemblance of a certain gentleman, who, as she tells Udolph,
methought in sleep, When you were wounded, told me not to weep." In the mean time, Theodric, who had learned to speak English like a native, makes up his mind to pay a visit to the Island, to see
“ Her women fair, her men robust for toil;" Which he does accordingly, and, after seeing all the sights, he finds it time to return home, however reluctantly. Some unexpected affair, however, detained him a day or two longer than he had anticipated, and gave him an opportunity of seeing an English jubilee caused by some public tidings' On this occasion, London, where our hero resided, was illuminated ; and he sallied forth, in the course of the evening, on borseback, (a very dangerous mode of travelling on such occasions) to join the throng and see the lights. Among these groups, Theodric remarked a young lady more beautiful than he had ever seen; and the slow motion of her horses, impeded as they were by the crowd, gave him time to read the motto and mark the coat of arms painted on the carriage door. (p. 15.) He determines not to leave England until he is introduced to her. She improves on acquaintance; he falls desperately in love with her; gains her affection in return, and determines like a second Anthony, to sacrifice all for love; or in other words, to settle in merry old England,' for the sake of the lady with the motto and the coat of arms. But before their union, matters of concern' demanded his return to Austria. On his way, he stopped at the house of Udolph's parents, and the family was delighted beyond measure to see him. · The boy was half beside himself;' the old gentleman
"Of speedy parting would not hear him speak." So Theodric agreed to remain a month with them. The first part of this month passed very pleasantly; but at last he begins, from certain symptoms, to suspect that poor Julia entertains a tendre penchant for his person, which his engagement to the English lady renders it improper for him to return; and to prevent farther mischief, he determines to have an explanation with her. The poor girl takes it all very kindly, plays such a tune on the piano as mock'd all skill her hand had e'er displayed ;' and finally, when Theodric drops a hint that he had intended to visit her long before his voyage to England, the tender interview is concluded as follows:
“Ah! then,' she cried, 'you know not England's shore ;
And had you come-and wherefore did you not ?'
“Yes,' he replied, it would have changed our lot!"» Shortly after this interview, the captain took an opportunity of conversing with the young lady's mother, who assures him, that she never expectcd him to marry her daughter, notwithstanding all that Udolph had said about it; that she finds no fault whatever with his conduct, and that she thinks him very much of a gentleman indeed. The morning after this sentimental interview with the old lady, he ate a hearty breakfast prepared for him by Julia, and took his leave of the family.
After accomplishing his business in Austria, he returns to England, and marries Constance.
With one exception the match was a happy one. Constance was all that the fondest husband could desire. • But midst her kindred there was strife and gall;' and with the exception of one of her sisters, who, as the poet says, was bland, all his wife's family was quite disagreeable, being frequent visiters, and much given to wrangling. To be sure, Constance tried her best to keep them in order, but her exertions do not appear to have been particularly successful. Tbeodric, however, was not destined to remain very long in such disagreeable circumstances; but shortly after his settlement in England, he receives news that war had again broken forth in Germany, and he determined, with his wife's permission, to rejoin
his former companions in arms. Constance had no objection to his depar-ature for the field of battle, provided he would take her in company; and
to induce him to grant her this permission she uses many specious arguments, but all in vain. He promises, however, that she shall join him after the first campaign; but the lady, although she expected assent secretly resolved that they should not part so easily. The concealment of this private determination wrought their whole mischance :--but how it did so, we can by no means understand from the sequel of the story, which appears to be most preposterously entangled. Constance
- makes repair Again to kindred worthless of her care,” And Theodric being thus left' in his home a lonely man,' began to muse upon past events. Switzerland-Udolph-Julia—the lonely walks—the piano forte- the delightful breakfasts--all rose up in due perspective before his eyes. Poor Julia! was she well or ill?-He had received no letters from Udolph since his marriage :
“ And deep misgiving on his spirit fell,
That all with Udolph's household was not well." Just at this moment, Udolph enters the room; Theodric thought at first it was his "sprite' (p. 26.) but soon discovers that it is Udolph himself, who proceeds to inform Theodric of all that had taken place since his departure from Switzerland. Julia had long borne up high-mindedly and well? against her cruel passion for the captain, but was now dying, and her only desire was to see Theodric once more before her death. Udolph confesses that he, and he alone, is to blame; that his insane ambition for the name of brother to Theodric was the cause of Julia's love, of her disregard of her mother's sage counsel, of her present sickness, and of her anticipated de
He then states, that notwithstanding the length of the journey, and the fact of his being a married man, he doubts not that Theodric will have • ruth' enough to go to Switzerland, and thus concludes his pathetic petition.
“ And she who shares your heart, and knows its truth,
Has faith in your affection, far above
The fear of a poor object's dying love." This was irresistible, and Theodric was just on the point of expressing his acquiescence with Udolph's request, when their conversation was in
terrupted by an unexpected visit from the aforementioned disagreeable members of Constance's family, unaccompanied by the bland' sister. These good people made themselves quite at home-told Theodric that he need not expect his wife back in a fortnight-laughed because they saw this gave him some uneasiness and laughed still more heartily when he found fault with Constance's conduct-turned up their noses at Udolph, instead of bidding him good bye,' when he departed—and at last went off themselves, leaving a letter for Theodric from his wife, explaining all :' that is, stating that she was only staying at her father's house a short time to keep things in order, and praying bis permission to accompany bim to the continent. In reply to this, he forthwith despatched a note granting assent; but the letter, for no reason that we can imagine, missed her on the way, and in six hours' time she was in her own house again, in such trepidation lest Theodric should be wroth,' that he, kind soul! was afraid she had a fever. When she resumed her usual demeanor, be stated Julia's case to her, and received, not only her consent, but even her express command, to go off the next morning with his friend Udolph. Although he had a dark presentiment that some ailment lurked in Constance's system, occasioned by her fear of a scolding the preceding day, he nevertheless takes his departure; leaving, however, particular directions with a faithful page to let him know if any thing should happen to his wife.
Julia dies, and she scarcely had expired, when Theodric was summoned to the door by a special messenger, direct from England, who informed him that Constance was dying too. Theodric reached home a few moments too late. Constance was no more. Theodric was afraid that her death bad been occasioned by his having blamed her for intending to stay a fortnight away from him; but her only genteel relation, the · bland' sister, already more than once alluded to, assured him that he was laboring under a mistake. Poor Constance had not died for fear of being scolded by him, but of an actual bona fide scolding, given to her by her mother, in consequence of her determination to accompany her husband to the wars ! She then handed Theodric a letter in the proper hand-writing of Constance, which gave him great comfort. After putting himself into a becoming suit of black clothes, following his defunct wife to the grave, and mourning a decent length of time, the Captain made up his mind to the important truth that grieving's a folly,' and manfully resolved to survive his misfortunes.
If the plot of this domestic tale' is thus unmeaning, dull and incoherent, the character of the poetry admirably corresponds with that of the materials. It is as tame and weak as the feeblest parts of Montgomery's • World before the Flood;' and is never of a higher order than the lackadaisical story of Jacqueline. Who would believe that such specimens of heroic versification as follows, could ever escape the pen of Thomas Campbell?
“ How jocund was their breakfast parlour fanned
By yon blue water's breath-their walks how bland!"
The sister, who alone, like her, was bland.”
She beard, bewail'd, and pleaded Julia's case! " Foreseeing their event, she dictated,
And signed those words for you. The letter said”.
But we will not proceed farther in this new and ungrateful province of finding blemishes in a poet who has hitherto not unreasonably been considered the most elegant and fastidiously polished of living bards. There are two or three fine passages, scattered like angel's visits through the performance; which, however, are insufficient to redeem the insufferable mediocrity of the whole poem, or add any thing to the writer's reputation. The ill natured remarks of the Edinburgh Review upon Montgomery's earlier pieces, that they seemed to be the productions of a lad who had become intoxicated with green tea, might be applied to the greater part of Theodric, with justice. If we wish to see the fire and splendor and musical versification of our old friend Tom Campbell, we must appeal to “ Phi. lip sober," and turn over to some of the splendid lyrics in the end of the volume, which, as they have occasionally appeared in the New Monthly, have shown that the vigor of the poet was unimpaired, and have continued to pourish expectations which this abortion yclept Theodoric has most sadly disappointed.
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