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His Great Variety of Styles-Conclusion.
addresses. One of the chief peculiarities observable in these poems seems to us their great variety of style, ranging from the delightful sweetness of our early poetry down to the polished verse, and neat, though often affected, sentiment of the last century. In his fine Celebration of Charis,' his exquisite numbers flow just like Marlowe's and Shakespere's; while the very next poem, The Musical Strife,' belongs to the school of Donne. Thus, too, while most of his pieces in heroic verse, in their varied cadence, and rough, sometimes almost jolting measure, belong to his own age, there are passages-many of these will be found in his masques-which fall scarcely below the polished numbers of Pope in elaborate sweetness. And later poets, too, he often strikingly resembles. These lines, from his Farewell to the World for a Gentlewoman virtuous and noble," might not Cowper have written them?—
'No, I do know that I was born
To age, misfortune, sickness, grief;
As wanderers do that still must roam,
These, again, from 'An Elegy,' have the style, as well as the rhythm of Tennyson :
But who could less expect from you,
And on them burns so pure a flame,
It would indeed be difficult, we think, to find any poetcertainly not of that age-whose style exhibits so many varieties as Ben Jonson's. On the whole, especially in regard to his poems, he must be viewed not only as belonging to our first school of poetry, but, in his less beautiful compositions, as the
precursor of the second. Jonson is, indeed, the link between them both. He outlived all his early contemporaries, and ere he ceased to write, the graceful, but diluted elegancies of Carew and Lovelace were fast superseding the rich and noble poetry of Jonson's earlier day. We look too late, when we refer the great change that passed over our poetic literature to the days of the Restoration. The blight had already begun in the reign of Charles the First, and its earliest effects, we think, may be seen in the neglect with which the aged court poet, he who had offered such devoted homage both to father and son-too precious incense for such unworthy shrines-was treated in his desolate old age.
Still, notwithstanding courtly neglect, he was not forgotten; while Shakespere was neglected, and all his great fellow-dramatists cast aside, as though they had never been, 'rare Ben Jonson' continued to be a name of note. But he owed it not to his poetic merits, but to those true cavalier qualities, his equal devotion to the King and the wine-cup; and when in more modern times his name was still quoted, he owed it to his learned notes, not to the fine poetry which they illustrated. All this has passed, still rare Ben Jonson' will hold a high station among us; and though he must take lower place as a dramatic writer, his Forest, his Underwoods, and his Masques, will vindicate for him a foremost place among our poets.
ART. II. (1.) Arctic Explorations: The Second Grinnell Expedition in Search of Sir John Franklin, 1853, 1854, 1855. By ELISHA KENT KANE, M.D., U.S.N. 2 vols. Philadelphia: Childs and Peterson. London: Trübner and Co. (2.) An Earnest Appeal to the British Public on behalf of the Missing Arctic Expedition. By LIEUTENANT BEDFORD PIM, R.N.,F.R.G.S. London: Hurst and Blackett. 1857.
ON a summer's day, in the year one thousand eight hundred and fifty-three-to employ the language of novelists-a small vessel might be seen entering the harbour of Fiskernaes, on the coast of that misnamed country, Greenland. It was a brig of 144 tons burden, with not more than eighteen persons on board. To this little troop an Esquimaux hunter-a youth who could spit a bird on the wing with his javelin-was added from the population. of the place. After a short detention, by reason of contrary winds, the voyagers put out to sea, passed the last Danish outposts of
civilization, and soon the white sails, slowly lessening as they receded, like some sorrowful ghost unwilling to forsake the haunts of men, dipped into the mists of the North, and were heard of no more for two long and dreary years.
It was no whaling mission on which these adventurers were bent-Philanthropy, not Commerce, had chartered the ship. Instead of hunting for blubber, and returning with barrels of oil, their object was to repeat the question which Humanity had already put to the Frost-King by the mouth of many a gallant messenger-Where are the brave mariners who left England in the year 1845, in order to explore these dismal regions, and in what part of the winter-world are they immured, if living, or entombed, if dead? Granting that, after such a lengthened captivity, they must all have perished, is it possible to discover any traces of their wanderings, or to collect any relics or memorials which will throw light on the last chapter of their history?
Undeterred by the failure of so many enterprises, the munificent Grinnell, one of the prince merchants of America, who had despatched a previous expedition, under Lieutenant de Haven, without any result, resolved upon another attempt to dissipate the mystery attached to the fate of Franklin. It seems to have been wisely assumed that a small party would involve less risk, and ensure greater facility of movement, than a magnificent flotilla, largely manned and liberally equipped. Compared with the resources of the splendid squadron which had sailed from England in the previous year (1852), under the captaincy of Sir Edward Belcher, there was a daring simplicity in the appointments of the American brig. Dr. Kane, its commander, was like a man who should cross the Atlantic in a herring-boat with a few biscuits and a scanty allowance of beer, instead of taking his passage in a steamer of the Collins or Cunard line. In the summer of 1852, Captain Inglefield had dashed up Baffin's Bay right into Smith's Strait, and further than European was known to have penetrated before in that direction-having accomplished this smart little feat in a puny schooner, with a sixteen horsepower engine, which seemed better fitted to work a coffee-mill than to propel a vessel through the midst of nipping floes and crushing bergs. But the Americans had no steam to carry them on and bear them back, and instead of a flying trip to the northern waters, the gallant fellows who put into Fiskernaes Harbour were well aware that they might be compelled to spend more than one season in the ice, with little else to support them than the materials which the ship's magazine could supply.
The scheme of search propounded by Dr. Kane was nobly audacious. Believing that Greenland was a vast peninsula, extending, in
all probability, to the neighbourhood of the Pole, he determined to make the land itself the basis of operations; and having quartered the brig in some appropriate spot, when the state of the ice rendered further progress impossible, he proposed to send out travelling parties towards the north, so as to explore the western coast of the country, and also to examine the opposite shore, (Grinnell Land), if circumstances would permit. From the adoption of this course it was hoped that certain advantages would accrue. Animal food would be more easily procured. The assistance of the Esquimaux, in providing dogs for the sledges, and in replenishing the larder of the expedition, might be expected. The open Polar Sea-if such a sea did really exist would, in all probability, be soonest reached by pursuing a direct northern line. And not least amongst the jottings of Hope, it was assumed that the party would escape many of the annoyances attached to journeys performed over the ice, where the road is generally in ruins, and the pavement is sometimes composed of scattered blocks, which are as difficult to traverse as it would be to drive a wagon through a crowded churchyard.
Crossing Melville Bay, through which the brig forced a passage with difficulty, sometimes beating to and fro like a fish seeking an outlet from a glass jar,' the voyagers came in sight of the 'Crimson Cliffs' of Sir John Ross, and doubtless gazed upon the rosy-coloured snow as if it were a mocking introduction to the ghastly wilderness they were about to enter. Not long afterwards, the two polar pillars of Hercules, Cape Alexander and Cape Isabella, were descried in the distance; and on the 6th of August, the vessel swept past these stately sentinels of the Northern Sea, and was cutting its way through the unexplored waters of Smith's Sound. But the ice soon came down upon them, as if incensed at their intrusion: heaping itself up on the coast it formed vast barricades, one of which presented a perpendicular front of more than sixty feet in height. To push through the pack before them seemed utterly impracticable, and therefore the commander resorted to a novel and hazardous experiment in navigation. In consequence of the rise and fall of the tides, the ice relaxed at times, so as to leave a narrow tortuous lane of water along the shore; shallow as this channel was, Dr. Kane deemed it possible to warp the brig through its windings by dint of main force. Yoking the men to the ship, and working like horses, they succeeded in making some slight progress; but after a month of desperate struggling, the young ice began to grow so fast that it became necessary to look out for a winter dock for their bruised and battered vessel. Many were the dangers they encountered before this step could be taken: they were in perils
from ice, perils from fire, perils from water, perils from tempest and storm. Once, after anchoring to a berg-an operation involving eight hours of hard labour-they had scarcely found shelter under its jagged cliffs when a crackling was heard, fragments of the mass began to patter on the surface of the water, and ere the vessel could well escape to a satisfactory distance the face of the floating mountain was hurled into the sea with a crash like that of bursting ordnance. At another time, the brig heeled over so suddenly that the cabin stove upset, and its blazing contents were scattered on the deck; the wood caught fire, and burnt briskly, and a serious conflagration seemed to be impending, but fortunately the flames were smothered before they could reach the powder depôt, which was not far from the spot. Again, when a hurricane had risen, like a lion from its lair, and the seamen were hoping to outride the tempest by means of three good hawsers, a sharp twang was heard, and away went one of the lines; then came a second shrill report, which told that the overtaxed strands of another had parted; but the third, a strong ten-inch manilla -would not that bid defiance to the angriest blasts? Alas, no! with a snap which rung out far above the roarings of the storm, the cable succumbed to the terrible tension, and the vessel was instantly entangled in a wild torrent of ice. As they galloped furiously along, the strait grew narrower, and the floes grinding against the cliffs, and piling up on either hand, seemed to await their coming to crush them to atoms. In the hope of winding up the ship, the best bower was dropped; but they might as well have attempted to anchor in an avalanche. On they sped, grazing great floes, smashing their bulwarks against one upturned mass, and recoiling from the blow with half a ton of ice lying in a lump on the deck. Worse still, right ahead a troop of bergs appeared; towards these the runaway brig was careering with suicidal haste. As the anxious seamen drew nearer, they discovered an opening, into which the ship was luckily impelled; but their joy was of short duration, for the wind failed them between the tall icy embankments, and, to their great horror, they soon perceived that the mountain blocks were in motion, and would probably crunch them like an empty cask beneath the blows of a forge hammer before they could emerge from that frightful defile. Suddenly a bold thought suggested itself to the intrepid commander. Ă low berg came rushing up from the south with sufficient momentum to render it independent of the wind; could he not make use of it to tow the vessel through the perilous strait before the walls could meet? This happy conception was happily executed: a line was fastened to the berg as it swept close by their side, and once harnessed to this white steed of the waters, the ship was