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Whilst gazing on thy stature tall
I bowed adoring down to earth,
The Power that gave Creation birth.
Thine eye turns me oft from truth,
Is not a true believer's eye;
It beams unmingled purity.
From the poem of Joseph, or Yussuf and Zuleikha, by Hamdi, we are happy to take a far less common-place extract. At the well-known moment when the unfortunate fair had summoned her female neighbours and friends to behold the beauty of Yussuf as an excuse for her passion, they cut themselves with surprise at the sudden sight of his personal charms; and, after duly binding their own wounds we imagine, set themselves to assuage that of their hostess in the following strain:—
Love rules the subject soul;—then, ah! how vain
We think there is still more of natural and picturesque beauty in the following passage; and have ventured to divest it of the stateliness of heroic verse.
'Twas night;—the hour when dreams arise
O'er the heart's tablet clear to shed
Had drunk the draught of sleep: her head
O'er roses at the close of day,
Hovering around that pillow, raised
Seemed straying far through silent bowers;
When lo! from forth the lavish flowers
A form of youthful beauty keeping,
Her heart awake while she was sleeping;
Till all her bosom's pulses danced,
And all her raptured soul entranced,
Our next quotation is a song from Mesti, who is distinguished by the respectable cognomen of The Drunken, and whose verse, it must be owned, savours much of its proper inspiration: nor is this impression at all lessened by the candour of the close, the moral gradually elevating the reader to the conclusion.
Know ye treasure of all treasures
We have only room for a few extracts from Messihi's beautiful verses on the Rose-Season: not very closely translated from the Turkish into German by Wieland, whose version our author has quoted instead of giving his own.
Hear the Bulbul's songs resound:
Culled from flowers that spring to meet him,
Silver buds, that bend to greet him.
From their beds the roses gleam,
Blushing forth their sacred ray:
Pleasure, pleasure reigns to-day:
Mark the lily's sword-points too,
Every costly drop we see
Hearken, hearken friends to me;
» * * *
That dark hour has passed away,
Midst the grassy verdure faint:
Scenes that pencil cannot paint.
Glittering in the morning sun,
Rain-drops gem the verdant plain;
Soon, too soon, to fade again!
* Such light, according to tradition, beams from the Prophets, that the hem of their garments (with which the head is frequently veiled) is tinged of a deep red, or purple.
Art. VIII. Zumalacarregui, oder der Tod des Helden. Trauerspiel in f'unf Aufziigen. (Zumalacarregui, or the Hero's Death, a Tragedy in five Acts.) Von S. F. L. G. Stuttgart and Leipzig, 1836.
When we observe the rapidity with which old established notions vanish and are forgotten, we sometimes feel a sort of apprehension creeping upon us that we, even we, whose especial business it is to watch and to report the progress and the vicissitudes of literary opinion, are wofully behind our age. The day is not very long past when it was deemed an audacious act of romanticism, such as only barbarians like Shakspeare could dream of, to found tragedies upon national history, although of bygone ages, to make tragic heroes of men bearing names " familiar as household words" to the ears of the audience. These compatriot subjects and heroes proving, however, more interesting than their predecessors, were allowed to take and keep possession of the stage, and the only remaining point for dispute was, how long heroes and heroines must have lain in their graves before their theatrical resuscitation was lawful. This being a vague question was never positively decided, but a considerable chronological interval between the real and the illusory existence was unanimously allowed to be indispensable. Accordingly, it was with no little astonishment that we, last year, brought before our readers a classical Italian tragedy upon the fall of the contemporary of a large majority amongst ourselves, to wit, the Emperor Napoleon, although the temerity of such synchronal dramatization was slightly veiled under old Assyrian names.
But, if Nabucco startled us, what shall we say to the far more synchronous Zumalacarregui?—to a tragedy which, without an attempt at allegory or masquerade, takes for its subject the death of a hero who died yesterday? whose name and exploits are yet vividly present to the mind of every, the youngest, reader of newspapers; who was the chief actor in the war which, even now, whilst we write, is distracting Spain? What can we say, but that the author is an imaginative German poet; and, that if the classical Italian, Niccolini, dramatized the revolution of 1814, it was to be expected that a non-classical, indeed, autonomous German, should dramatize the glory and the fall of the most extraordinary man of the last two or three years.
This striking tragedy has been ascribed, by public conjecture and by critics, to several distinguished poets, and the admiration it has excited induces some surprise that the anonymous author has not stood forward to reap his harvest of laurels. But no claimant appears, and the continuous incognito has been supposed to proceed from political motives, from fear to avow either the picture of Louis Philippe and his condition, or the statements of continental absolutist policy given to Zumalacarregui and the diplomatist. These several circumstances, joined to the potent living interest of the subject, have determined us to devote more pages to The Hero's Death than we habitually allot to a single play; and it will perhaps be no unacceptable introduction, if we begin by recalling a few details of the hero's real career.
The family of Zumalacarregui,—whose name, a compound of Arabic and Basque, literally means Zumal of the Mountain,—is of the ancient nobility of the Basque province, Guipuzcoa. The father of the hero resided in his patrimonial mansion in the little town of Ormaiztegui, cultivated his small patrimonial estate, and enjoyed the respect of his countrymen, together with the highest provincial offices and honours. The eldest son was educated for the church, and is now a parish priest in his native town; the second is a lawyer, holding a high judicial situation at Burgos, under the queen, and now, we believe, a member and president of Cortes; the third was our Don Tomas Zumalacarregui, born Dec. 29, 1788.
During the war of independence, Don Tomas served as a guerrilla under Mina; and, though he gained no European celebrity, as none but the leaders could, he must have distinguished himself, since he rose to the rank of captain. At this time he was a zealous liberal; but, disgusted with what he saw of the Spanish self-entitled constitutionalists, became an absolutist, or rather a royalist; for it must be observed, that an absolutist a Basque could no more be than, except in boyish ignorance and enthusiasm, a republican. The Basque provinces alone, of the states united into the Spanish monarchy, still enjoy their original, extraordinarily free, representative constitution, pretty much as it was established in the ninth century. It was indeed modified by the Biscayan parliament in the sixteenth century, to suit the altered state of society; but it was so modified by their own free will, and, even in this enlightened nineteenth century, retains so much of its primitive character, that Don Carlos has, we believe, sworn fidelity to the Basque rights, liberties, and usages, and received in return the Basque oath of allegiance, under the same oak of Guernica—at least, under its descendant and representative—under which the first Lord of Biscay, Don Lope Zuria, was elected in 870,—under which the subsequent Lords of Biscay have been elected or have sworn to the constitution, as did Isabel of Castile,—under which Basque parliaments have been held and Basque justice administered.