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His predecessor Teraub, on the contrary, usually dwelt at Ril, a considerable town, not far from the centre of Darfur, but nearer to the border of Kordofan; ana evidently proper for a metropolis, as it abounds with conveniences, and is the key to Kordofan and Sennaar. It is situated nearly twenty four days journey westward from the city of the latter name, Att:vo thirds of that distance froon Ril, is Ibeit, a principal town of Kordofan. The western Nile, which seems to be somewhat narrower, although much deeper than the eastern, is little more than three days journey from the latter. The town called Shilluk (we suppose from the black conquerors of Sennaar) stands near the eastern bank of the former, and its inhabitants govern the passage of the river. The country between the two branches of the Nile seems to form the whole territory retained by the Mec, or king, of Sennaar. Kordofan is wrested from him by Darfur, and the whole country eastward of the Bahr-el-Azerg is said to be possessed by the revolted slaves of Sennaar, whom we suppose to be the black Nuba soldiers.
Beside Ril, the principal towns of Darfur, are Gidid, two days journey northward, inhabited chiefly by priests ; Cobhé, a day and a half northwestward of the latter; Sweini, on the northeastern boundary; Gellé toward the northwestern, belonging to one of the chief priests, and much impoverished; Cubcabia, a day's journey south-eastward of the latter, on the principal road to Bergoo, and flourishing with trade; Shoba, southwest of Cubcabia, somewhat farther distant, where Sultan Teraub built a palace; Cours, and Kurma, small towns, within short distances of Cobbé, which appears to be the most populous in Darfur, and is placed by Mr. B. in 14° 11' N. Lat. 280 g' E. Long. It is more than two miles in length, but the houses are distant from each other. It is almost entirely peopled by foreigners, who have settled there on account of the trade with Egypt. It has two markets weekly; at each of which, from 10 to 15 oxen, and four times the number of sheep, are usually slaughtered. Children are taught (the poor gratis) at several schools in the town by priests. There was only one very small inosque in the place, but a more spacious one was erecting.
The preceding abridgement is the best proof that we can give, of the value at which we estimate the geographical information given by the author, of a country before unknown to Europeans. Defects in his arrangement rendered the abstract difficult; but it seemed the more necessary, as Mr. Pinkerton has strangely omitted Darfur in his Geography, although he often refers to our traveller's first edition for matters of more questionable authority.
(To be concluded in our next Number.)
Art. II. Ballade and Lyrical Pieces, By Walter Scott, Esq. royal 8vo.
pp. 180. 78. 6d. Longman and Co. 1806. WHI
THEN a poet has on one occasion been eminently success
ful in deserving and obtaining the admiration of the public, his next performance will generally be purchased with avidity, read with lukewarmness, and laid aside with indiffer
It will be the common complaint that he has done well enough for any other man, but that he has fallen below himself: and scarcely can a critic be found, who will judge of the two works by the relative degree of their intrinsic merit, rather than by the comparative brilliancy with which they have impressed his imagination. The frigid reception of the volume before us, among the admirers of the Lay of the Last Minstrel, is an example of the precariousness of popular favour. Man is so unreasonable a being, that when his expectations are not exceeded, they are disappointed; for with every expectation of untasted pleasure is connected a secret hope, which is the antepast of a higher enjoyment than the mind rentures to promise itself; and if that hope be not realized, that expectation is dissatisfied. Now as the same kind of pleasure cannot be communicated twice in the same degree by equal means,-the charm of novelty having vanished with the first experience of it,--an author who has delighted his readers once by a happy effort of genius, to delight them as much another time, must put forth greater powers ; for, having been raised to the level of his former excellence, expectation will be disappointed unless he transcends that level, paradoxical as it may seem, because it has not enjoyed more than it certainly anticipated.
These “ Ballads and Lyrical Pieces” appear under the triple disadvantage, of following the Lay of the Last Minstrel, of having been written before it, and of being manifestly inferior to it. The two latter circumstances are certainly to the credit of the author's talents, but to the prejudice of his book; which has been judged and condemned by an uncandid compa; rison with the later and maturer effort of his genius, instead of being tried by its own merits as an earlier and more juvenile performance. The title page ought to have announced that this volume was only a republication of the author's fugitive pieces, and the apparently disingenuous omission of this notice there, has occasioned considerable chagrin to some of his warmest friends, who have eagerly taken up the book, and turned, glowing with hope, to the next page, where they have been chilled with the following advertisement, written in the coldest blood that ever crept through a Minstrel's veins.
• These Ballads have been already published indifferent collections, some in the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, others in the Tales of Wonder,
and some in both these Miscellanies. They are now first collected into one Volume. The Songs have been written at different times for the Musical Collections of Mr. George Thomson and Mr Whyte.'
There is nothing that makes a man more ill-natured, than the consciousness of having been outwitted, or even innocently deceived where he has ardently hoped: and we are persuaded that many have perversely refused to relish the dainties here set before them, because they had prepared their appetites for a feast of another kind, for recent and original compositions. This prejudice will operate equally against these Ballads, among those who have, and those who have not, met with them before. Poetry should always be read in good humour: if the author lays a stumbling block over which the reader breaks the shins of his temper at the beginning of a book, hə will not be fully forgiven even at the last page of it.
Of Mr. Scott's poetical abilities, we have already spoken highly in our Review of “ The Lay of the Last Minstrel." He has endeavoured to form an original style, or rather a peculiar manner of composition, by adopting the wildress, simplicity, and rudeness of ancient border-metre, and taming, embellishing, and softening these, with the smoothness, elegance, and freedom of modern verse, retaining the venerable and grotesque character of the former, without its dulness and barbarity, and avoiding the Rippant and insipid prettiness of the lat. ter, but comprehending the whole scope of its variety, sweetness, and strength. To compass this delicate point, he has employed a language most curiously selected from the Scottish and English dialects in all their changes through five centuries ; hence his diction is often elevated to a heroic height by the use of antique words of noble sound and romantic meaning, yet occasionally debased with feeble, uncouth, tautological phrases. These blemishes, we are aware, he has introduced by deliberate choice, but it is either the choice of indolence, or of a taste cankered by the rusty models of border-antiquity. In resemblance also of these imperfect models, ---though it is only their excellence that is worthy of his imitation,-his metre is frequently capricious, being fluent and melodious, or dissonant and irregular, as his wayward theme, or more wayward fancy, inclines him to be a minstrel of the twelfth, or of the nineteenth century. There is, nevertheless, great rapidity in his lyrical narrative, and, whether his numbers be rugged or voluble, the reader is never permitted to stop, however he may stunble, but is hurried along, through apostrophes, interrogations, and transitions, the most sudden and surprising, till he arrives, he scarcely knows by what means or by what magic, at the end of his journey: there the pleasing or dreadful effect of til story that he has beard, remains powerfully impressed on his
mind, but of its progress and developement he has only a bewildered recollection, like that of a strange dream from which one is suddenly awakened, and in the same instant looks ansiously back upon it as it vanishes for ever. Mr. Scott's thoughts have an air of sprightliness and vigour, that at first sight commends them to the reader's favour at their uttermost!worth: his sentiments are generally interesting, frequently pathetic, but rarely sublime. His sketches of ancient manners and amusements, the barbarous magnificence of buildings and dress, the . feasts and fightings of former days, are always masterly. But in our opinion, Mr. Scott's finest talent is displayed in his picturesque descriptions of individual scenery, which he touches with a pencil so ligbt, so bold, so enchanting, that while they have all the accuracy of reality, they have all the charm of fiction, and are as beautiful to the imagination, as they are true to nature,
Our limits will not permit us separately to analyse even the principal pieces contained in this volume; we shall therefore content ourselves, and delight our readers, with quoting a few passages only.
In the first poem, intitled “ Glenfinlas,” we find the following lovely example of Mr. Scott's descriptive powers.
• Three summer days, through brake and dell,
Their whistling shafts successful flew;
quarry to their hut they drew.
The solitary cabin stood,
Which murmurs through that lonely wood.
When three successive days had flown;
Steeped heathy bank, and mossy stone.
Afar her dubious radiance shed,
And resting on Benledi's head.' in the same piece the sudden manner in which the dreadful gift of second sight was conferred on an unfortunate being, is thus affectingly told.
• E'en then, when o'er the heath of woe,
Where sunk my hopes of love and fame,
On me the seer's sad spirit came.
The last dread curse of
heaven, With ghastly sights and sounds of woe, To dash each glimpse of joy, was given
The gift, the future ill to know.' Surely it is impossible to read the following stanzas from " The Eve of St. John,” and not imagine oneself living in a re · mote age and a savage country, and witnessing the interview they describe.
• My lady, each night, sought the lonely light,
That burns on the wild Watchfold ;
Of the English foemen told.
The wind blew loud and shrill;
To the eiry beacon brill.
Where she sat her on a stone;
It burned all alone.
Till to the fire she came,
Stood by the lonely flame.
Did speak to my lady there ;
And I heard not what they were.' The third piece, intitled “ Cadyow Castle,” we think the masterpiece of this volume. It is conceived and executed in the highest spirit of ballad-romance. The Bard represents himself conversing with Lady Ann Hamilton, to whom the poem is addressed, amidst the park and wood-scenery where the ruins of Cadyow Castle are yet mouldering away, when, at the request of the Lady to tune his
- harp of border frame,
On the wild banks of Evandale," he calmly rolls back the tide of time, transforms the present into the past, and raises the towers of Cadyow Castle and the Caledonian forest to the glory which they possessed two hundred and fifty years ago.
• Then, noble maid! at thy command,
Again the crumbled halls shall rise
The past returns--the present fies.