Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

turn:

Gapes found the silent circle's loaded walls. Are sought in vain; and o'er each moul.
Bounds with one lashing spring the mighty dering tower,
brute,

Dim with the mist of years, grey fits the
And, wildly staring, spurns with sounding foot slade of power." p. 62.

The sand, nor blindly rushes on the foe;
Here, there, he points liis threatening front, imagine, the grand source of all the

The next stanza developes, we
to suit
His first attack, wide waving to and fro

gloom and bad passions displayed His angry tail: red rolls his eye's dilated in the volume. Speaking still of glow." P. 15.

Athens, he says, Our next extract shall be part of “Even gods must yield—religions take their an ode, addressed to Inez, about this

Twas Jove's, 'tis Mahomei's and other point of the tour, and which may assist as a foundation for some of our will rise with ollior years--till man shall

creeds, concluding observations.

learn, « And dost thou ask, what secret woe

Vainly his incense soars, his victim bleeds; I bear, corroding joy and youth;

Poor child of doubt and death, whose hope And wilt thou vainly seek to know

is built on reeds." Ibid. A pang, e'en thou must fail to soothe ?

In other words, that all religion is It is not love, it is not hate,

gross delusion. If good poetry could Nor low ambition's honours lost, That bids me loathe my present state,

apologise for bad divinity, ihe fol. And fly from all I prized the most.

lowing soliloquy on a skull might It is that weariness that springs

apologise for the last extract. From all I meet, or bear, or see :

“ Look on its broken arch, its ruined wall, To me no pleasure beauty brings ;

Its chambers desolate, and portals fout:
Thine eyes have scarce a cbarm for me. Yes, this was once ambition's airy hall,
It is that settled ceaseless gloom

The dome of thought, the palace of the
The fabled Hebrew wanderer bore;

soul. That will not look beyond the tomb, Behold through each lack lastre, eyeless hole, But cannot hope for rest before.

The gay recess of wisdom and of wit, What exile froin himself can flee?

And passion's host, that never brooked conTo zones, though more and more remote,

trol: Still, still pursues, where'er I be,

Can all, saint, sage, or sophist ever writ
The blight of life, the demon thought.

People this lonely tower, this tenement refit?"
Through many a clime 'tis wine to go,
With many a retrospection curst,

Then, as a substitute for « feeble"
And all my solace is to know,

orthodoxy, he recommends to us
Whate'er betides, I've known the worst. this, obviously in his own case effica-
What is that worst?--pay, do not ask; cious, remedy for gloom :
In pity from the scarch forbear:

" Pursue what chance or fate proclaimeth Smile on, nor venture to unmask

best; Man's heart, and view the hell that's there." Peace waits us on the shores of Acheron."

The description of the convoy The second canto brings us at sailing is finely executed, but we once to Athens and the following pass it over to give the truly beau• fine lines.

tiful portrait of Solitude,” which

follows: " Ancient of days ! august Athena! where Where are thy men of might? thy grand in “ To sit on rocks, to muse o'er flood and fell, soul?

To slowly trace the forest's shady scene, Gone-glimmering through the dream of Where things that own not man's dominion things that were.

dwell, First in the race that lead to glory's goal, And mortal foot-path ne'er, or rarely been; They were, and passed away—is this the To climb the trackless mountaiu all unseen, wliole?

With the wild flock, that never needs a A schoolboy's tale--the wonder of an hour fold; The warrior's weapons and the sophist's stole Alone o'er steeps end foaming falls to lean:

P. 64.

p. 53,

p. 74.

once

This is not solitude ; 'uis but to hold Then mayest thou be restored; but not till Converse with Nature's charms, and see her

then. stores unrollid.

A thousand years scarce serve to form a - But midst the crowd, the hum, the shock of

state; men,

An hour may lay it in the dust: and when To hear, to see, to feel, and to possess,

Can man its shatter'd splendour renovate, To roam along, the world's tir'd deuizen,

Recal its virtues back, and vanquish Time With none who bless us, none wborn we

and Fate?" p. 103. can bless;

" Yet are thy skies as blue, thy crags as wild ; Minions of splendour, shrinking from distress ! Sweet are thy groves, and verdant are thy None that with kindred consciousness en

fields, dued,

Thine olive ripe as when Minerva smild, If we were not, would seem to smile the less And still his hunied wealth Hymettus Of all that Aalter'd, follow'd, sought and yields; sued :

There the blitbe bee his fragrant fortress This is to be alone; this, this is solitude !"

builds,

The treeborn wanderer of thy mountain air ; In the 32d stanza, he goes out of 4 pollo still thy long, long summer gilds, his

Still in his beam Mendeli's marbles glare; way

to tell us, what a little modesty would have veiled, that he Art.glory, freedom fails, but Nature still is fair.

"Where'er we tread, 'uis laanted, holy ground;

No earth of' tbine is lost in vulgar mould ! “ Was not unskilful in the spoiler's art, · But one vast realın of wonder spreads around, And spread its soare licentious far and And all the Muse's tales seem truly told, widc."

Till the sense aches with guzing to behold Then comes an invocation to The scenes our earliest dreams have dwelt Sappho, as truly pagan as Sappho Each hill and dale, each deepening glen and

: herself could desire.

wold, “Dark Sappho, could not verse inmortal save Defies the power which crush'd thy temples That breast imbued with such immortal fire ;

gone : Could she not live, wlio life eternal gave, Age sliakes Athena's tower, but spares gray If life eternal may await the lyre,

Marathon,” p. 105. That only heaven to which eartli's children may aspire."

The poem soon after concludes,

and the author disappears someAfter some spirited delineation of Albanian scenery, we arrive at the thing like Hamlet's melancholy following stimulating stanzas to the ghost, when, on snuffing the morn

ing air, he reluctantly returns to his prostate cities of ancient Greece.

shades; for Lord Byron also, as he Fair Greece! sad relic of departed worth! tells us, is compelled to plunge into Immortal, though no more; though fallen, all the vices, the corroding flame of great!

which all the waters of the MediWho now shall lead thy scattered children

terranean had not been able to forth, And long accustom'd bondage uncreate?

quench. Not such thy sons who whilome did await, “ Then must I plunge again into the crowd,

The hopeless warriors of a willing doom, And follow all that Peace disdains to seek, In bleak. Thermopyla's sepulchral strait- Where Revel calls, and Laughter, vainly

Oh! who that gallant spirit shall resume, loud, Leap from Eurota's, banks, and call thee from False to the heart, distorts the hollow cheek.”

the tomb?" p. 101. • Hereditary bondsmen! know ye not,

The Noble Lord, we lament to Who would be free, themselves must strike hear, has obeyed this wretched desthe blow?"

tiny; and is to be seen, we fear, in When riseth Lacedemon's hardihood,

almost every temple but that where When Thebes Epaminondas rears again,

an altar of refuge is erected for the When Athen's children are with arts endued,

disconsolate. When Grecian mothers shall give birth to

Having by these extracts endea

youred to put our readers in possesCARIST. OBSERV. No. 126.

3 D

men,

sion of some of the finest parts of author-the extreme gravity of this poem, and also of those passages whose general manner and matter, which determine its moral com- in a measure covet the dignity of the plexion, we shall proceed to offer a heroic line. But it is this discordfew remarks upon its character and ancy of measure and subject, togepretensions in both points of view. ther with the obviously laboured

The poem is in the stanza of rhymes and the halting of the sense, Spenser-a stanza of which we which in general, we think, have think it difficult to say whether the shut out the Spenserian school from excellencies or defects are the great- popular reading, and have caused a est. The paramount advantage is distinguished critic* to say, that the the variety of tone and pause of “Faiery Queen will not often be read which it admits. The great disad- through;” and that, although it vantages are, the constraint of such maintains its place upon the shelf, complicated rhymes, and the long it is seldom found on the table of the suspension of the sense, especially modern library. in the latter half of the stanza. Whilst, however, Lord Byron The noblest conception and most participates in this defect of his brilliant diction must be sacrificed, great original, he is to be congratuif four words in one place, and three lated, as a poet, but alas ! in his poin another, cannot be found rhyming etical character alone, on much hapto each other. And as to the sus- py deviation from bim. In the first pension of the sense, we are persuad- place, he has altogether washed his ed that no man reads a single stanza hands of allegory; a species of fiction without feeling a sort of strain upon open to a thousand objections. lo the intellect and lungs—a kind of the next place, he is infinitely more suffocation of mind and body, before brief than his prototype. And in he can either discover the lingering the third place, he philosophizes and meaning, or pronounce the nine lines. moralizes(though not indeed in a very : To us, we confess that the rhyming sound strain), as well as paints--couplets of Mr. Scott, sometimes de provides food for the mind as well as viating into alternate rhymes, are, ihe eye--- kindles the feeling as well on both these accounts, infinitely as gratifies the sense.

Thus far, preferable. One of the ends of poetry then, we are among the admirers of is to relax, and the artificial and ela. bis Lordship. But it is to be laborate stanza of Spenser costs us too mented, that what was well conceivmuch trouble, even in the reading, ed is, from the temperament of his to accomplish this end. To effect this, mind, ill executed ; that his phila the sense should come to us, instead sophy is, strictly speaking, "only of our going far and wide in quest of philosophy so called;" that the the sense. In our conception also, moral einotions he feels, and is likethe heroic line of ten syllables, ly 10 communicate, are of a characthough favourable to the most digni- ter rather to offend and pollute the 'fied order of poetry, appears to limp mind, than to sooth or to improve it. when forced into the service of son- This defect, however, we fear, is to be neteers : and poems in the metre charged, not upon the poet, but upon before us, are, after all, little better the man, at least upon his principles. than a string of sonnets ; of which it But, whatever be the cause, the conis the constituent principle to be ra. sequences are dreadful. Indeed, we ther pretty than grand-rather ten- do not hesitate to say, that the temder than martial-rather conceited perament of his mind is the ruin of than wise--to keep the sense sus- his poem. We shall take the liberty, peoded for eight lines, and to dis- as we have intimated, of touching charge it with a point in the ninth. upon these defects as moral delina These observations are hy no means quencies, under another head; but designed to apply especially to the

• Hume.

1

for the present we wish to notice try. If the lessons they taught were them merely as poetical errors. of small importance or doubtful va.

The legitimate object, then, of lue, or if they often forget to " teach" poetry, as we have said, is to instruct in their ambition to “

please,” this is by pleasing; and, cæteris paribus, to be charged rather on the age that poem is the best which conveys than on the poet. They taught the the poblest lessons in the most al best lessons they knew ; and were tractive form. If, in reply to this, satisfied to please only when they had it is urged that the heathen poets, nothing better to do. In niodern and especially Homer, laught no times, it will not be questioned that lesson to his readers; we answer, the greatest poets have ever endeathat be taught all the lessons which, voured to enshrine some moral or in his own days, were deemed of intellectual object in their verse. highest importance to kis country. Milton calls Spenser “our sage seThe first object of philosophers and rious Spenser, whom I dare to be other teachers, in those days, was to

known to think a better teacher than make good soldiers, and therefore Scotus or Aquinas.” In like manner, to condemn the vices which inter- the Absalom and Achitophel, the fered with successful warfare. Now Hind and Panther of Dryden, the be it remembered, that the grand to- philosophic strain of Pope, the impic of the Iliad is the fatal influence mortal page of Milton, and the halfof the wrath of kings on the success inspired numbers of the Task, are of armies. Its first words are all, in their various ways, attempts MANIN asas. Besides this, the Il- of poets to improve or reform the iad upholds the national mythology, world. Every species of poetry, inor the only accredited religion; and deed, has received fresh lustre, and by a bold fiction, bordering upon even taken a new place in Parnastruth, displays in an Elysiuin and sian dignity, by a larger infusion of Tartarus, ihe eternal mansions of the moral sentiment into its numbers. good and bad, the strongest incen- The ancient ballad has arisen to new rive to virtue and penalty of vice. dignity through the moral touches, Indeed, that both this and ihe Odys- we wish they had been less rare, of sey had a moral object, and that this a Scott; and i be stanza of Spenser has object was recognized by the an- acquired new interest in the hands of cients, niay be inferred from Horace, Lord Byron, from the philosophical who says of Homer, in reference to air which it wears. Numbers withthe first poem :

out morals are the man without "the « Qui, quid sit pulchrum, quid turpe, quid moral tone of his Lördship's poem

glory.” We sincerely wish that the utile, quid non, Plenius ac nielius Chrysippu aut Crantore had been less liable to exception. dicit."

His Lordship, we believe, is ac

quainted with ancient authors. Let And as to the second :

bim turn to Quinctilian, and he will " Rursum-quid virtus, et quid sapientia

find a whole chapter to prove that a possit,

great writer must be a good man. Utile proposuit nobis exemplar Ulyssem."

Let him go to Longinus, and he will Epist. i. 2.

read that a man who would write

sublimely, “must spare no labour to Many of the Odes of Horace had educate his soul to grandeur, and a patriotic object---bis Epistles and impregnate it with great and geneSatires, with those of Juvenal and rous ideas”--that “the faculties of Persius, were the sermons of the the soul will then grow stupid, their day. Virgil chiefly proposed to spirit will be lost, and good sense himself to exalt in his hero the cha- and genius lie in ruins, when the racter of a patriot, and, in bis ficti- care and study of man is engaged tious bistory, the dignity of his coun. about the mortal, the worthless part

skies;

of himself, and be has ceased to cul- us into a Thersites or a Caliban ; or tivate virtue, and polish his nobler lodge us, as fellow-grumblers, in the part, his soul.” Or, it poetical authu- stye of Diogenes, or any of his two or rity alone will satisfy a poet, let four-footed snarling or moodyposterihin' learn from one of the fivest of ty. Now his Lordship, we trust, is acour modern poems:

cessible upon much higher grounds; ' But of our souls the high-born loftier part,

but he will perceive that mere regard Thethereal energies that touch the heart,

for his poetical reputation ought Conceptions ardent,laboring thought intense, to induce him to change his manCreative fancy's wild magnificence,

ner. Sf, as Longinas instructs us, a And all the dread sublimities of song: man must feel subtimely to write subThese, Virtue, these to thee alone belong: limely, a poet must find pleasure in Chill'd, by the breath of vice, their radiance the objects of nature before him, if dies,

he hope to give pleasure to others. And brightest burns when lighted at the

Let him remember, that not merely Like vest al fames to purest bosoms given,

his conceptions, but bis mind and

character, are to be imparted to us And kindled only by a ray from heaven*."

in his verse. He will, in a measure, That the object of poetry, how

stamp

an image of himself !” The ever, is not simply to instruct, but fire with which we are to glow must to "instruct by pleasing," is too ob- issue from him. Till this change vious to need a proof. However take place in him, then, he can the original objeci of measure and be no great poet. It is Heraclitus rhythm may have been to graft truth who niourns in his pages, or Zeno on the memory, and associate it who scolds, or Zoilus who lashes ; with music; they are perpetuated but we look in rain for the poet, for by the universal conviction that they the living fountain of our innocent delight the ear. Like the armour pleasures, for the artificer of our liwhich adorns the modern hall, they terary delight, for the hand which, were contrived for use, but are con

as by enchantment, snatches us from tinued for ornament.

the little cares of life, whirls us into Assuming this, then, to be a just the boundless regions of imaginadefinition of poetry, we repeat our tjon, “ exhausting” one “world," assertion, that, in the work before us, and imagining others, to supply picthe temperament of mind in the tures which may refresh and charm poet creates the grand defect of the the mind *. Lord Byron shews us poetry. If poetry should instruct, man and nature, like the phantasthen he is a defective poet whose magoria, in shade; whereas, in polessons rather revolt than improve etry at least, we desire to see them the mind. If poetry should please, illuminated by all the friendly rays then he is a bad poet who oftends which a benevolent imagination can the eye by calling up the most hi

impart. deous images.-- who shews the world We have hitherto confined ourthrough a discoloured medium--, selves to an examination of the inwho warms the heart by no gene- fluence of the principles and temper rous feelings---who uniformly turns of this work upon its literary preto as the worst side of men and tensións; but his Lordship will forthings---who goes on his way grum- give us if we now put off the mere bling, and labours hard to make his critic for a moment, and address readers as peevish and wretched as him in that graver character which hrimself. The tendency of the strain

we assume to ourselves in the title of of Flower is to transform us for the our work. In truth, we are deeply moment into heroes; of Cowper, into saints; of Milton, into angels ; but

* We cannot resist the temptation of sayLord Byron

would almost degrade ing, that in this highest department of the *Grant's Restoration of Learning in the East. bear a comparison with Mt, Southey.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »