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"The night is past, and shines the san
As if thai morn were a jocund one.
Ligluly and brightly breaks away
The Morning from her mantle grey,
And the Noon will look on a sultry day!
Hark lo the trump, and the drum,
And the mournful sound of the barb'rous horn,
And the flop of the banners, that flit as they're
borne. And the neigh of the steed, and the multitude's
hum, And the clash, and the shout, 'They come, they
corne!' The horsetails are pluck'd from the ground, and the
sword From its sheath! and they form—and but wait for
The steeds are all bridled, and snort to the rein;
"Asithe wolves, that headlong go
Parisina is of a different character. There is no tumult or stir in this piece. It ¡sail sadness, and pity, anil terror. The story is told in half a sentence. The Prince of Esté has married a lady who was originally destined for his favourite natural »on. He discovers a criminal attachment between them; and puts the issue and the invader of his bed to death,
before the face of his unhappy puamotu. There is too much of horror, perhaps, in th* circumstances; but the writing is Ьеаишш throughout; and the whole wrapped ni a :¡<_ and redundant veil of poetry, where eren thing breathes the pure essence of geniusaui sensibility. The opening verses, thoush ».. and voluptuous, are tinged with the ¿an' shade of sorrow which gives its character ал! harmony to the whole poem.
"It is the hour when from the bough«,
"With many a ling'ring look they leave
The arraignment and condemnation of the guilty pair, with the bold, high-torned, and yet temperate defence of the son, are mania«! with admirable talent : aiul yet are lesstooihingthan the mule despair of the fallen beatf.t who stands in speechless agony be»u!e L-.
"Those lids o'er which the violet vein—
"Nor once did those sweet eyelids close,
The grand part of this poem, however, л that which describe» the execution of the rival son; and in which, though there is no pomp, either of language or of sentiment aaJ every thing, on the contrary, i* conceived and expressed with studied simplicitv and J.r-v'ness, there is a spirit of pathos and poetry U> which it would n Л be easy to find many parallels.
The Convent belle are ringing!
In ihe grey square turret swinging,
Heavily to the heart they go!
The «ong for the dead below,
For a departing Being's soul [knoll:
The death-hymn peals and the hollow bells
He is near his mortal goal;
Kneeling at the Friar's knee;
Sad to hear—and piteous to see !—
Kneeling on the bare cold ground,
With the block before and the guards around—
While the crowd in a speechless circle gather
To see the Son fall by the doom of the Father! "II is a lovely hour as yet
Before the summer sun shall set,
Which rose upon that heavy day,
And mock'd it with his steadiest ray;
And his evening beams are shed
Full on Hugo's fated head!
As his last confession pouring
To the monk, his doom deploring
In penitential holiness,
He bends to hear his accents bliss
With absolution such as may
Wipe our mortal stains away!
That hieb sun on his head did glisten
As he there did bow and listen!
And the rings of chesnut hair
Curled half-down his neck so bare;
But brighter still the beam was thrown
With a clear and ghastly glitter!
Oh! lhat parting hour was bitter!
"The parting prayers aro said and over
The scarf which Parisina gave—
Of the Hebrew melodies—the 0<le to Napoleon, and some other smaller pieces that appeared about the same time, we shall not now stop to say anything. They are obTÍoiisly inferior to the works we have been noticing, and are about to notice, both in general interest, and in jx>wer of poetry— ttiouîh some of them, and the Hebrew melodies especially, display a skill in versification, anj a mastery in diction, which would have
raised an inferior artist to Lie very summit of distinction.
Of the verses entitled, "Fare thee well,"— and some others of a similar character, we shall say nothing but lhat, in spite of their beauty, it is painful to read them—and infinitely to be regretted that they should have been given to the public. It would be a piece of idle affectation to consider them as mere effusions of fancy, or to pretend ignorance of the subjects to which tney relate—and with the knowledge which all the world has of these subjects, we must say, that not even the example of Lord Byron, himself, can persuade us that they are fit for public discussion. We come, therefore, to the consideration of the noble author's most recent publications.
The most considerable of these, is the Third Canto of Childe Harold; a work which has the disadvantage of all continuations, in admitting of little absolute novelty in the plan of the work or the cast of its character, and must, besides, remind all Lord Byron's readers of the extraordinary effect produced by the sudden blazing forth of his genius, upon their first introduction to that title. In spite of all this, however, we are persuaded that this Third Part of the poem will not be pronounced inferior to either of the former; and, we think, will probably be ranked above them by those who have been most delighted with the whole. The great success of this singular production, indeed, has always appeared to us an extraordinary proof of its merits; for, with all its genius, it does not belong to a sort of poetry that rises easily to popularity.—It has no story or action—very little variety of character— and a great deal of reasoning and reflection of no very attractive tenor. It is substantially a contemplative and ethical work, diversified with fine description, and adorned or overshaded by the perpetual presence of one emphatic person, who is sometimes the author, and sometimes the object, of the reflections on which the interest is chiefly rested. It required, no doubt, great force of writing, and a decided tone of originality to recommend a performance of this sort so powerfully as this has been recommended to public notice and admiration—and those high characteristics belong perhaps still more eminently to the part that is now before us, than to any of the former. There is the same stern and lofty disdain of mankind, and their ordinary pursuits and enjoyments; with the same bright gaze on nature, and the same magic power of giving interest and effect to her delineations—but mixed up, we think, with deeper and more matured reflections, and a more intense sensibility to all that is grand or lovely in the external world.—Harold, in short, is somewhat older since he last appeared upon the scene—and while the vigour of his intellect has been confirmed, and his confidence in his own opinions increased, his mind has also become more sensitive; and his misanthropy, thus softened over by habits of calmer contemplation, appears less active and impatient, even although more deeply rooted than before. Undoubtedly the finest part» of the poem before us, are those which thus embody the weight of his moral sentiments: or disclose the lofty sympathy which binds the ilespiser of Man to the glorious aspects of Nature. It is in these, we think, that the great attractions of the work consist, and the strength of the author's genius is seen. The narrative and mere description are of far inferior interest. With reference to the sentiments and opinions, however, which thus give its distinguishing character to the piece, we must say, that it seems no longer possible to ascribe them to the ideal person whose name it bears, or to any other than the author himself.— Lord Byron, we think, has formerly complained of those who identified him with his hero, or supposed that Harold was but the expositor of his own feelings and opinions;—and in noticing the former portions of the work, we thought it unbecoming to give any countenance to such a supposition.—In this last part, however, it is really impracticable to distinguish them.—Not only do the author and his hero travel and reflect together,—but, in truth, we scarcely ever have any distinct intimation to which of them the sentiments so energetically expressed are to be ascribed; and in those which are unequivocally given as those of the noble author himself, there is the very same tone of misanthropy, sadness, and scorn, which we were formerly willing to regard as a part of the assumed costume of the Childe. We are far from supposing, indeed, that Lord Byron would disavow any of these sentiments; and though there are some which we must ever think it most unfortunate to entertain, and others which it appears improper to have published, the greater part are admirable, and cannot be perused without emotion, even by those to whom they may appear erroneous.
The poem opens with a burst of grand poetry, and lofty and impetuous feeling, in which the author speaks undisguisedly in his own person.
"Once more upon the waters! yet once more!
And the waves bound beneath me, as a steed
That knows his rider. Welcome, to their roar!
Swift be their guidance, wheresoe'erit lead!
Though the strain'd mast should quiver as a reed.
And the rent canvass fluttering strew the gale,
Still musí I on ; for I am as в weed.
Flung from the rock, on Ocean's foam, to sail Where'er the «urge may sweep, the tempest's breath prevail.
"In my youth's summer, I did sing of One,
Plod the last sands of life,—where not a flower appears.
"Since my young days of passion—joy, or pain.
Forgetfulnees around me—it ahall seem, I'o me, though to none else, a not theme."
After a good deal more in the same ,e proceeds,
'Yet mast I think less wildly :—I hate thougbt
'Something loo much of this:—but now*UJp*K,
The character and feelings of this unjoyoi! jersonage are then depicted with great for« ind fondness ;—and at last he is placed при he plain of Waterloo.
'In ' pride of place' where late the Eagle flew. Then tore with bloody talon the rent plain, Pierc'd by the shaft of banded nalions through!"—
'Fit retribution! Gaul may champ the bit
'If not, o'er one fall'n despot boast no more'"
There can be no more remarkable proof of .he greatness of Lord Byron's genius than the spirit and interest he has contrived to совmunicate to his picture of the of ten-drawn aid difficult scene of the breaking up from Brussels before the great battle. It is a trite remark, that poets generally fail in the representation of great events, when the interest is recent, and the particulars are con&eque:i: у clearly and commonly known : and the reten is obvious: For as it is the object of poetrj tt make us feel for distant or imaginar)' occurrences nearly as strongly as if they were p-'sent and real, it is plain'that there is nosco;-' for her enchantments, where the impress.*? reality, with all its vast preponderance ol mlKest, is already before us, and where the concern we take in the gazette far outgoes acj emotion that can be conjured up in usbvlb help of fine descriptions. It is natural, h ever, for the sensitive tribe of poets, to n: take the common interest which they ti share with the unpoetical part of their сои trymen. for a vocation to versify; and to u proceed to pour out the lukewarm dislmiiK of their phantasie? upon the unchecked t n vescence of public feeling! All our 'an-'s accordingly, great and small, and of all *'J ages, and professions, from Scott and S«i't down to hundreds without names or aild.no- f have adventured upon this theme—anJ la-'" in the management of it! Ami while •>* yielded to the patriotic impulse, as if they fl* all caught the inspiring summons—
"Let those rhyme now who never rhyrn'd t* <«, And those who always rhyme, rhyme n
The result has been, that scarcely a line И be remembered had been produced on » &*
ject which probably was thought, of itself,
'There was a Bound of revelry by night;
"Ah! then and there was hurrying to and fro,
If ever more should meet those mutual eyes, Since upon nights so sweet such awful morn coulc
"And there was mounting in hot haste : the steed,
"And Ardennes waves above them her green
Dewy with Nature's tear-drops, as they pass! (!rie?ing, if aught inanimate e'er grieves, fïver the unreturning brave,—alas! Krr evening to be trodden like the grass Which now beneath them, but above, shall grow In its next verdure ! when this Негу mnss Ot living valour, rolling on the foe [and low."
And burning with high hope, shall moulder cold
Alter some brief commemoration of the worth and valour that fell in that bloody field, the author turns to the many hopeless mourner» that survive to lament their extinction ; the папу broken-hearted families, whose incurable sorrow is enhanced by the national exultation that still points, with importunate joy, to the scene of their destruction. There is a richness and energy in the following passage which is peculiar to Lord Byron, among all mulern poets,—a throng of glowing images, fonred forth at once, with a facility and prolusion which must appear mere wastefulness to more economical writers, and a certain '"•slisence and harshness of diction, which <an belong only to an author who is oppressed wiih the exuberance and rapidity of his con«ptione.
'The Archangel's trump, not Glory's, must awake Those whom they thirst for! though the sound
of Fame Miy for a moment soothe, it cannot slake
^ 1 he fever of vain longing; and the name ïj honour'd but assumes a stronger, bitterer
"They mourn, but smile at ,ength; and, smiling.
And thus the heart will break, yet brokenly live on:
"Even as a broken mirror, which the glass
Showing no visible sign,—for such things are un
There is next an apostrophe to Napoleon, graduating into a series of general reflections, expressed with infinite beauty and earnestness, and illustrated by another cluster of magical images ;—but breathing the very essence of misanthropical disdain, and embodying opinions which we conceive not to be less erroneous than revolting. After noticing the strange combination of grandeur and littleness which seemed to form the character of that greatest of all captains and conquerors, the author proceeds,
'Yet well thy soul hath brook'd the turning tide
ie stood unbow'd beneath the ills upon him pil'd.
Sager than in thy fortunes: For in them
But quiet to quick bosoms is a hell,
This makes the madmen, who have made men
Vhich would unteach mankind the lust to shine 01
Their breath is agitation; and their life,
Vhich eata into itself, and rusts injuriously.
He who ascends lo mountain-tops, stall find The lofiiesi peaks most wrapt in clouds and snow; He who surpassa or subdues mankind, Must luok down on the hate of those below. Though high above the sun of glury glow, And far beneath the earth and ucean spread, Round him are icy rocks; and loudly blow Contending tempests on his naked head, [led." And thus reward the toils which to those summits
This is splendidly written, no doubt—but we trust it is not true; and as it is delivered with much more than poetical earnestness, and recurs, indeed; in other forms in various parts of the volume, we must really be allowed to enter our dissent somewhat at large. With regard to conquerors, we wish with all our hearts that the case were as the noble author represents it: but we greatly fear they are neither half so unhappy, nor half so much hated as they should be. On the contrary, it seems plain enough that they are very commonly idolised and admired, even by those ou whom they trample; and we suspect, moreover, that in general they actually pass their time rather agreeably, and derive considerable satisfaction from the ruin and desolation of the world. From Macedonia's madman to the Swede—fromNimrod to Bonaparte, the hunters of men have pursued their sport with as much gaiety, and as little remorse, as the hunters of other animals—and have lived as cheerily in their days of action, and as comfortably in their repose, as the followers of better pursuits. For this, and for the fame which they have generally enjoyed, they are obviously indebted to the great interests connected with their employment, and the mental excitement which belongs to its hopes and hazards. It would be strange, therefore, if the other active, but more innocent spirits, whom Lord Byron has here placed in the same predicament, and who share all their sources of enjoyment, without the guilt and the hardness which they cannot fail of contracting, should be more miserable or more unfriended than those splendid curses of their kind :—And it would be passing strange, and pitiful, if the most precious gifts of Providence should produce only unharpiness, and mankind regard with hostility their greatest benefactors.
We do not believe in any such prodigies. Great vanity and ambition may indeed lead to feverish and restless efforts—to jealousies, to hate, and to mortification—but these are only their effects when united to inferior abilities. It is not those, in short, who actually surpass mankind, that are unhappy; but those who struggle in vain to surpass them: And this moody temper, which eats into itself from within, and provokes fair and unfair opposition from without, is generally the result of pretensions which outgo the merits by which they are supported—and disappointments, that may be clearly traced, not to the excess of genius, but its defect.
It will be found, we believe, accordingly, that the master spirits of their age have always escaped the unhappiness which is here supposed lo be the inevitable lot of extraordinary talents; and that this strange tax upon
genius has only beer, levied from those wfo held the secondary shares of it. Men of trolj great powers of mind have generally it« cheerful, social, and indulgent; while a tesdency to sentimental whining, or herce ял..erance, may be ranked amoiig the acres symptoms of little souls and inferior intellects. In the whole list of our English рое», we can only remember Shenstone and Savage —two, certainly, of the lowest—who were querulous and discontented. Cowley, miieed. used to call himself melancholy ;—but he irai not in earnest; and, at any rate, was fui of conceits and affectations; and has nothing tn make us proud of him. Shakespeare, tit greatest of them all, was evidently of a free and joyous temperament ;—and so wasCLai;cer, their common master. The same dinposition appears to have predominated m Fletcher, Jonson, and their great contemporaries. The genius of Milton partook gomething of the austerity of the party to which he belonged, and of the controversies in wb.ru he was involved; but even when fallen on evil days and evil tongues, bis spirit getms to have retained its serenity as well as its ¿cnity; and in his private life, as well as in his poetry, the majesty of a high character a tempered with great sweetness, geniai indigences, and practical wisdom. In the succeeding age our poets were but too gay; and though we forbear to speak of living authnrs. we know enough of them to say with coi..~dence, that to be miserable or to be hated is not now, any more than heretofore, the савтоп lot of those who excel.
If this, however, be the case with poel& confessedly the most irritable and fantastic of all men of genius—and of poets, too, bred and born in the gloomy climate of England, it is not likely that those who have surpassed their fellows in other ways, or in other region«, have been more distinguished for unhappuiett. Were Socrates and Plato, the greatest philoeophers of antiquity, remarkable for unsocial or gloomy tempers !—was Bacon, the pvatr-î in modern times ?—was Sir Thomas Moreor Erasmus—or Hume—or Voltaire ?—vs« Newton— or Fenelon ?—was Francis I., or Henry IV., the paragon of kings and conquerors ?—was Fox, the most ardent, anrf. m tLf vulgar sense, the least successful of statcfmen? These, and men like these, are nndoubtedly the lights and the boast ol the world. Vet there was no alloy of misan thropy or gloom in their genius. They ¿i not disdain the men they had surpassed : a: neither feared nor experienced their hoftii;n Some detractors they might have, from envy or misapprehension; but, beyond all doubt the prevailing sentiments in respect loth» я. have always been those of srralitude and admiration; and the error of public jodernoTit. where it has erred, has much oftener been "> overrate than to undervalue the merits of those who had claims on their good opinion On the whole, we are far from thinking tlw' eminent men are actually happier than tbfft who glide through life in peaceful obfcntity: But it is their eminence, and the conseqnence«