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of it, rather than the mental superiority by which it is obtained, that interferes with their enjoyment. Distinction, however won, usually loads to a passion for more distinction; and is apt to engage us in laborious efforts and anxious undertakings: and those, even when successful, seldom repay, in our judgment at It-ait, the e'ase, the leisure, and tranquillity, o: which they require the sacrifice: but it really paspes our imagination to conceive, that the very highest degrees of intellectual vigour, nr fancy, or sensibility, should of themselves be productive either of unhappiness or general dislike.
Harold and his poet next move along the lovely banks of the Rhine, to which, and all their associated emotions, due honour is paid in various powerful stanzas. We pass on, however, to the still more attractive scenes .of Switzerland. The opening is of suitable grandeur.
'But these recede. Above me are the Alps,
How Earth may pierce to Heaven, yet leave vain man below."
On this magnificent threshold, the poet pauses, to honour the patriot field of Moral, and the shrine of the priestess of Aventicum; and then, in congratulating himself on hie folitude, once more moralises his song with something of an apology for its more bitter misanthropies.
"To fly from, need not be to hate mankind;
"The race of life becomes a hopeless flight
Whose bark drives on and on, and anchor'd Tie'er
The cliffs of Meillerie. and the groves of Clarens of coujse, conjure up the shade »f Rousseau; whom he characterises very st'ongly. but charitably, in several enchantit!2 stanzas ;—one or two of which we shall rite as a specimen of the kindred rapture with which the Poet here honours the Apostle if Love.
'' His love was passion's essence! A§ a tree
. ong hie burning page, dietemper'd though it
TA» breath'd itself to life in Julie, this
"Clarens! sweet Clarens, birth-place of deep
Love! Thine air is the young breath of passionate
Thy trees take root in Love; the snows above
In them a refuge from the worldly shocks, Which stir and sting the soul with hope that woos,
"All things are here of Aim; from the black pines, Which are his shade on high, and the loud ruar Of torrents, where he listeneth, to the vines Which elope hie green path downward to the
Where the bow'd waters meet him, and adore, Kissing his feet with murmurs; and the wood, The covert of old trees, with trunks all hoar, But light leaves, young as joy, stands where it slood,
Offering to him and his, a populous solitude."
Our readers may think, perhaps, that there is too much sentiment and reflection in these extracts; and wish for the relief of a little narrative or description: but the truth is, that there is no narrative in the poem, and that all the descriptions are blended with the expression of deep emotion. The following picture, however, of an evening calm on tho lake of Geneva, we think, must please even the lovers of pure description—
"Clear, placid Leman! thy contrasted lake,
That I with stern delights should e'er have been so mov'd.
"It is the hush of night ; and all between
Or chirps the grasshopper one good-night carol
"At intervals, some bird from out the brakes,
The following sketch of a Midsummer night's thunder storm in the same sublime region, is still more striking and original—
"The sky ¡я chang'd !—and such a change! Oh night, [strong!
And storm, and darkness, ye are wondrous
"And ihis is in the night :—Most glorious night!
In passing Ferney and Lausanne, there is a fine account of Voltaire and Gibbon; but we have room for but one more extract, and must take it from the characteristic reflections with which the piece is concluded. These, like most of the preceding, may be thought to savour too much of egotism: But this is of the essence of such poetry; and if Lord Byron had only been happier, or in better humour with the world, we should have been delighted with the confidence he has here reposed in his readers :—as it is, it sounds too like the last disdainful address of a man who is about to quit a world which has ceased to have any attractions—like the resolute speech of Pierre—
"For (his vile world and I have long been jangling, And cannot part on belter terms than now. —
The reckoning, however, is steadily and sternly made; and though he does not spare himself, we must say that the world comes off much the worst in the comparison. The passage is very singular, and written with much force and dignity.
"Thus far I have proceeded in a theme
Is a stern task of soul !—No matter !—it is taught.
111 have not lov'd the world—nor the world me!
"I have not lov'd the world, nor the world me'
That goodness is no name, and happiness no dream."
The closing stanzas of the poem are extremely beautiful ;—but we are immoveable in the resolution, that no statement of oura ehall ever give additional publicity to the subjects of which they treat.
Wecomenow to "The Prisoner of Chillón." It is very sweet and touching—though we can afford but a short account of it. Chillón is a ruined castle on the Lake of Geneva, in the dungeon of which three gallant brothers were confined, each chained to a separate pillar, till, after long year» of anguish, the two younger died, and were buried under the cold floor of the prison. The eldest was at
length liberated, when worn ont with age and misery—and is supposed, in his joyleíliberty, to tell, in this poem, the sad story of his imprisonment. The picture of their first feelings, when bound apart in this livir.2 tomb, and of the gradual sinking of the:/ cheery fortitude, is full of pity and agony.
"We could not move a single pace;
The return to the condition of the yourecr brother, the blooming Benjamin of the family, is extremely natural and affecting.
"I was the eldest of the three,
The gentle decay and gradual extinctim of this youngest life, is the most tender and beautiful passage in the poem.
"But he, the favorite and the flow'r.
And ihen the sighe he would suppress
Of fainting nature's feebleness,
More elowly drawn, grew less and lees!
I listen'd, but I could not hear!—
I cali'd, for I was wild with fear;
I cali'd, and thought I heard a sound—
I burst my chain with one strong bound,
And rush'd to him !—I found Aim not,
/ only stirr'd in this black spot,
/only liv'd—/ only drew
Т1Г accursed breath of dungeon-dew."
After this last calamity, he is allowed to be »t large in the dungeon.
"And it was liberly to stride
He climbs up at last to the high chink that admitted the light to his prison; and looks out once more on the long-remembered face of nature, and the lofty forms of the eternal mountains.
"1 saw them—and they were the same,
The only one in view;
Of gentle breath and hue.
The rest of the poems in this little volume, are less amiable—and most of them, we fear, have a personal and not very charitable application. One, entitled "Darkness," is free at least from this imputation. It is a grand and gloomy sketch of the supposed consequences of the final extinction of the Sun and me Heavenly bodies—executed, undoubtedly, with great and fearful force—but with something of German exaggeration, and a fantastical selection of incidents. The very conception is terrible, above all conception of tno-.vn calamity—and is too oppressive to the imagination, to be contemplated with pleasure, етеп in the faint reflection of poetry.
"The iry earl h •Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air."
Cities and forests are burnt, for light and warmth.
"The brows of men by the despairing light
And others hurried to and fro, and fed
Then they eat each other: and are extinguished!
• The world was void,
The populous and the powerful was a lump,
There is a poem entitled "The Dream," full of living pictures, and written with great beauty and genius—but extremely painful— and abounding with mysteries into which we have no desire to penetrate. "The Incantation" and "Titan" have the same distressing character—though without the sweetness of the other. Some stanzas to a nameless friend, are in a tone of more open misanthropy. This is a favourable specimen of their tone and temper. ,
"Though human, thou didst not deceive me,
Though woman, thou didst not forsake, Though lov'd, thou foreborest to grieve me,
Though slander'd, thou never coaldst shake,— Though trusted, thou didst not disclaim me,
Though parted, it was not to fly, Though watchful, 'twas not to defame me,
Nor mule, that the world might belie."
Beautiful as this poetry is, it is a relief at last to close the volume. We cannot maintain our accustomed tone of levity, or even speak like calm literary judges, in the midst of mese agonising traces of a wounded and distempered spirit. Even our admiration is at last swallowed up in a most painful feeling of pity and of wonder. It is impossible to mistake these for fictitious sorrows, conjured up for the purpose of poetical effect. There is a dreadful tone of sincerity, and an energy that cannot be counterfeited, in the expression of wretchedness and alienation from human kind, which occurs in every page of this publication; and as the author has at last spoken out in his own person, and unbosomed his griefs a great deal too freely to his readers, the offence now would be to entertain a doubt of their reality. We certainly have no hope of preaching him into philanthropy and cheerfulness: but it is impossible not to mourn over such a catastrophe of such a mind; or to see the prodigal gifts of Nature, Fortune, and Fame, thus turned to bitterness, without an oppressive feeling of impatience, mortification, and surprise. Where there are snch elements, however, it is eqnally impossible to despair that they may yet enter into happier combinations, —or not to hope this "that puissant spirit"
"yet shall reascend
Self-rais'd, and repossess its native seat." Lalla Rookh; an Oriental Romance.
THERE is a great deal of our recent poetry derived from the East: But this is the finest Orientalism we have had yet. The land of
been poured forth, nor her gorgeousness displayed so profusely to the delighted senses of Europe. The beauteous forms, the dazzling
'stitution of genius. While it is more splendid
in imagery—(and for the most part in very good taste)—more rich in i.; thoughts
the Sun has never shone out so brightly on the and original conceptions, and more full indeed
children of the North—nor the sweets of Asia
of exquisite pictures, both of all sorts of beauties and virtues, and all sorts of sufferings and crimes, than any other poem that has yet come before us; we rather think we speak the sense
splendours, the breathing odours of the East, of most readers, when we add, that the effect
seem at last to have found a kindred poet in of the whole is to mi
that green isle of the West; whose Genius disappointment with t
has long been suspected to be derived from a excite admiration rather than any warmer warmer clime, and now wantons and luxuri- sentiment of delight—to dazzle, more than to
ates in those voluptuous regions, as if it felt that it had at length regained its native element. It is amazing, indeed, how much at home Mr. Moore seems to be in India, Persia, and Arabia; and how purely and strictly Asiatic as the colouring and imagery of his book appears. He is thoroughly embued with the character of the scenes to which he transports us; and yet the extent of his knowledge is less wonderful than the dexterity and apparent facility with which he has turned it to account, in the elucidation and embellishment of his poetry. There is not, in the volume now before us, a simile or description, a name, a trait of history, or allusion of romance which belongs to European experience; or does not indicate an entire familiarity with the life, the dead nature, and the learning of the East. Nor are these barbaric ornaments thinly scattered to make up a show. They are showered lavishly over all the work; and form, perhaps too much, the staple of the poetry—and the riches of that which is chiefly distinguished for its richness. We would confine this remark, however, to the descriptions of external objects, and the allusions to literature and history—or to what may be termed the materiel of the poetry before us. The Characters and Sentiments are of a different order. They cannot, indeed, be said to be copies of European nature; but they are still less like that of any other region. They are, in truth, poetical imaginations;– but it is to the poetry of rational, honourable, “onsiderate, and humane Europe, that they inelong—and not to the childishness, cruelty, and profligacy of Asia. It may seem a harsh and presumptuous sentence, to some of our Cosmopolite readers: But from all we have been able to gather from history or recent observation, we should be inclined to say that there was no sound sense, firmness of purpose, or principled goodness, except among the natives of Europe, and their genuine descendants. There is something very extraordinary, we think, in the work before us—and something which indicates in the author, not only a great exuberance of talent, but a very singular con
enchant—and, in the end, more frequently to startle the fancy, and fatigue the attention, by the constant succession of glittering images and high-strained emotions, than to maintain a rising interest, or win a growing . o a less profuse or more systematic display Of attractions. The style is, on the whole, rather diffuse, and too unvaried in its character. But its greatest fault, in our eyes, is the uniformity of its brilliancy—the want of plainness, sim. plicity, and repose. We have heard it observed by some very zealous admirers of Mr. Moore's genius, that you cannot open this book without finding a cluster of beauties in every page. Now, this is only another way of expressing what we think its greatest defect. No work, consisting of many pages, should have detached and distinguishable beauties in every one of them. No great work, indeed, should have many beauties: If it were perfect, it would have but one; and that but faintly perceptible, except on a view of the whole. Look, for example, at what is perhaps the most finished and exquisite production of human art—the design and elevation of a Grecian temple, in its old severe simplicity. What penury of ornament—what rejection of beauties of detail l—what masses of plain surface—what rigid economical limitation to the useful and
the necessary! The cottage of a peasant is
scarcely more o in its structure, and has not fewer parts that are superfluous. Yet what grandeur—what elegance—what grace and completeness in the effect! The whole is beautiful—because the beauty is in the whole: But there is little merit in any of the parts, except that of fitness and careful finishing. Contrast this, now, with a Dutch pleasurehouse, or a Chinese—where every part is meant to be separately beautiful—and the result is deformitv —where there is not an inch of the surface that is not brilliant with varied colour, and rough with curves and angles. – and where the effect of the whole is monstrous and offensive. We are as far as possible from meaning to insinuate that Mr. Moore's poetry is of this description. On the contrary, we
think his ornaments are, for the most part, truly and exquisitely beautiful; and the general design of his pieces very elegant and ingenious: All that we mean to say is, that there is too much ornament—too many insulated and independent beauties—and that the notice, and the very admiration they excite, hurt the interest of the general design; and not only withdraw our attention too importunately from it, but at last weary it out with their perpetual recurrence.
It seems to be a law of our intellectual constitution, that the powers of taste cannot be permanently gratified, except by some sustained or continuous emotion; and that a series, even of the most agreeable excitements, soon ceases, if broken and disconnected, to give any pleasure. No conversation fatigues so soon as that which is made up of points and epigrams; and the accomplished rhetorician, who
• could not ope
His mouth, but out there flew a trope,"
must have been a most intolerable companion. There are some things, too, that seem so plainly intended for ornaments and seasonings only, that they are only agreeable, when sprinkled m moderation overa plainer medium. No one would like to make an entire meal on sauce pitFiante; or to appear in a dress crusted over with diamonds; or to pass a day in a steam of rich distilled perfumes. It is the same with the slittering ornaments of poetry—with splendid metaphors and ingenious allusions, ana all the figures of speech and of thought that constitute its outward pomp and glory. Now, Mr. Moore, it appears to us, is decidedly too lavish of his gems and sweets;—he labours under a plethora of wit and imagination—impairs his credit by the palpable exuberance of his possessions, and would be richer with half his wealth. His works are not only of costly material and graceful design, but they are everywhere glistening with small beauties and transitory inspirations—sudden flashes of fancy, that blaze out and perish: like earth-born meteors that crackle in the lower sky, and unseasonably divert our eyes from the great and lofty bodies which pursue their harmonious Bourses in a serener region.
We have spoken of these as faults of style: But they could scarcely have existed in the ítylp, without going deeper; and though they ñrst strike us a? qualities of the composition inly, we find, upon a little reflection, that the rame general character belongs to the fable, the characters, and the sentiments,—that they al! ?m alike in the excess of their means of attraction,—and fail to interest, chiefly by being too interesting.
In order to avoid the debasement of ordinary or familiar life, the author has soared to i region beyond the comprehension of most of his readers. All his personages are so very beautiful, and brave, and agonising—so totally wrapt up in the exaltation of their vehement emotions, and withal so lofty in rank, and so sumptuous and magnificent in all that relates to their external condition, that the herd of ordipary mortals can scarcely venture to con
ceive of their proceedings, or to sympathise freely with their fortunes. The disasters to which they are exposed, and the designs in which they are engaged, are of the same am bilious and exaggerated character; and all are involved in so much pomp, and splendour, and luxury, and the description of their extreme grandeur and elegance forms so considerable a part of the whole work, that the less sublime portion of the species can with difficulty presume to judge of them, or to enter into the concernments of such very exquisite persons. The incidents, in like manner, are so prodigiously moving, so excessively improbable, and so terribly critical, that we have the same difficulty of raising our sentiments to the proper pitch for them ;—and, finding it impossible to sympathise as we ought to do with such portentous occurrences, are sometimes tempted to withhold our sympathy altogether, and to seek for its objects among more familiar adventures. Scenes of voluptuous splendour and ecstasy alternate suddenly with agonising separations, atrocious crimes, and tremendous sufferings :—battles, incredibly fierce and sanguinary, follow close on entertainments incredibly sumptuous and elegant f—terrific tempests are succeeded by delicious calms at sea: and the land scenes are divided between horrible chasms and precipices, and vales and gardens rich in eternal blooms, and glittering with palaces and temples—while the interest of the story is maintained by instruments and agents of no less potency than insanity, blasphemy, poisonings, religious hatred, national antipathy, demoniacal misanthropy, and devoted love.
We are aware that, in objecting to a work like this, that it is made up of such materials, we may seem to be objecting that it is made of the elements of poetry,—since it is no doubt true, that it is by the use of such materials that poetry is substantially distinguish^ J from prose, and that it is to them it is indebted for all that is peculiar in the delight and the interest it inspires: and it may seem a little unreasonable to complain of a poet, that he treats us with the essence of poetry. We have already hinted, however, that it is not advisable to live entirely on essences; and our objection goes not only to the excessive strength of the emotions that are sought to be raised, but to the violence of their transitions, and the want of continuity in the train of feeling that is produced It may not be amis?, however, to add a word or two more of explanation.
In the first place, then, if we consider how the fact stands, we shall find that all the great poets, and, in an especial manner, all the poets who chain down the attention of their readers, and maintain a growing interest through a long series of narrations, have been remarkable for the occasional familiarity, and even homeliness, of many of their incidents, characters and sentiments. This is the distinguishing feature in Homer, Chaucer, Ari osto, Shakespeare, Dryden, Scott—and will be found to occur, we believe, in all poetry that has been long and extensively popular ; or that is capable of pleasing very strongly, or stirring