Зображення сторінки

Thy honors spread through barb'rous climes, one of Mr. Leigh Hunt's weekly publications, Ages unborn, and impious times,

and is reprinted now in the "Remains." This And realms involved in night.”

poem is, indeed, among the most mark-wor

thy of the productions of Keats; besides beIn its phraseology and its separate im- ing good and original in metre, it is simple, ages, this fine poem is about on a level with passionate, sensuous, and, above all, truly the foregoing “Ode:” but there is a charm musical. in Taylor's effusion which is wholly wanting Concerning the extreme self-consciousness in the verses of Keats. Taylor believed what which characterized Keats, and showed itself he was writing; he was, as most of our in his poems, we have only space to remark, readers are aware, a light-worshipper, and that this quality was the chief cause of the was in this poem pouring forth real idolatry excess of sense over sentiment, of which we to the sun." His feeling taught him secrets have complained, and to adduce the followof the poet's art, which were not revealed to ing additio nal documentary proof of the exthe lazy labor of Keats, in his lines about istence of this self-consciousness in Keats' Apollo. The frequently repeated and splen- habits of thought:—"I think a little change didly effective " See !" was the true and in- has taken place in my intellect lately. I imitable suggestion of sincere emotion, as is cannot bear to be uninterested or unemployproved by the otherwise inartificial charac- ed; I, who for a long time have been adter of the poem; the alliteration with which dicted to passiveness. Nothing is finer for the poem abounds is evidently the uncon- the purposes of great productions than a scious effect of passion ; the music is occa very gradual ripening of the intellectual sionally exquisite; there are no more beau- powers. As an instance of this, observe, I tiful eight syllables in this respect in English sat down yesterday to read King Lear once poetry than those which constitute the sec- again. The thing appeared to demand the ond line of the eighth stanza; and these are prologue of a sonnet; I wrote it, and began all of them excellencies which have rarely to read.” been arrived at by a poet of the sensual We have already stated our belief that school, however highly cultivated may have this consciousness is a stage through which been his peculiar faculties.

the modern mind must pass on its road to The characteristic beauties of the sensual excellence; it is not, therefore, the less a school are now so very generally appreciated, defect while it exists. Keats died before he that we shall be doing the cause of English had outgrown this stage, as he certainly poetry the best service in our power by must have done, had he lived a few years dwelling here almost exclusively upon its more. As it was, the best of Keats' poetry, less obvious, though still more characteristic by reason of the quality in question, falls faults. Among the principal of these are, considerably short of the highest beauty, imperfect artistical construction, extreme lit- which, whether it be sweet or severe, is eralness of expression, defective perception always the spontaneous, or unconscious obeof true harmony, and, as a consequence of dience of spirit to law: when the obedience the last, unskilfulness in the choice and man is unopposed, sweetness results, when it agement of metres, and incapacity for the meets with opposition, severity is expressed : invention of them.

witness, for example, the “ Venus de MediWe know not of a single fine measure that cis," and the “Niobe.” The highest, the is to be attributed to the poets of this only true beauty, is thus the beauty of holiorder ; on the other hand, they have pro- ness; and since obedience is essential huduced a multiplicity of metres which are mility, beauty, by becoming proud and selfwholly wanting in law and meaning, and of conscious, reverses its own nature, and is not which the existence can be accounted for the less essential deformity for its assumponly by supposing that the arrangement of tion of the shape of an angel of light. rhymes, and of the varying numbers of feet It remains for us formally to introduce to in the lines, arising in the composition of the our readers the “Remains," which occupy first few verses, became negligently fixed the bulk of the second of the two little upon as the form of stanza for the whole volumes before us. Altogether they will poem. The only striking proof of the exist- not add to the very high reputation of Keats. ence of true metrical power in Keats, seems The tragedy called Otho the Great” is to us to occur in the measure of a little, and the most important of these productions. It almost unknown poem, called “ La belle contains extremely little that is truly draDame sans merci," which appeared first in / matic; and that little wants originality, be


ing evidently imitated, even to the rhythms | And wonder that 'tis sothe magic chance ! of the separate lines, from Shakspeare, and Her nostrils small, fragrant, fairy, delicate, more often from that bad, but very tempting ller lips— 1 swear no human bones e'er wore model, Fletcher. There is, however, one

So taking a disguise." passage that strikes us as being finer, in its peculiar way, than anything in the hitherto Great,” stands an attempt in the comic style,

Next in consideration to “ Otho the

, published writings of Keats. We quote it the more readily, because it stands almost of a very indifferent vein, depending chiefly

called “The Cap and Bells.” The humor is alone, and constitutes the chief right possessed by the tragedy to the time and attention upon the introduction of slang, or extremely of our readers ; for highly interesting as the colloquial phrases, in immediate connection work must be to students of poetry, and of

with more serious expressions. There are, the poetical character, we are bound to con

however, frequent touches of charming pofess that, on the whole, it exhibits a strange

etry; for exampledearth even of the author's common excel

•Good ! good!' cried Hum, “I have known her lencies.

from a child ! The Prince Ludolph, driven mad by the She is a changeling of my management ; sudden discovery of the guilt of his bride, She was born at midnight in an Indian wild; enters the banquet-room in which the bridal Her mother's screams with the striped tiger’s blent, party is assembled :

While the torch-bearing slaves a halloo sent
Into the jungles ; and her palanquin
Rested amid the desert's dreariment,

Shook with her agony, till fair were seen “ A splendid company. Rare beauties here;

The little Bertha's eyes ope on the stars serene.” I should have Orphean lips and Plato's fancy, Amphion's utterance toned with his lyre,

Of the two following stanzas, the first is Or the deep key of Jove's sonorous mouth, as good an illustration of the mistakes of the To give fit salutation. Methought I heard,

poem as the second is of its beauties :As I came in, some whispers—what of that! 'Tis natural men should whisper ;-at the kiss Of Psyche given by Love, there was a buzz

“ • Why, Hum, you're getting quite poetical; Among the gods !--and silence as is natural. Those nows you managed in a special style !' These draperies are fine, and being mortal,

• If ever you have leisure, sire, you shall I should desire no better ; yet, in truth,

See scraps of mine will make it worth your while; There must be some superior costliness,

Tit-bits for Phæbus !-yes, you well may smile. Some wider-domed high magnificence !

•Hark! hark! the bells—a little further yet, I would hare, as a mortal I may not,

Good Hum, and let me view this mighty coil.' Hangings of heaven's clouds, purple and gold,

Then the great emperor full graceful set Slung from the spheres; gauzes of silver mist,

His elbow for a prop, and snuffed his mignonette. Looped up with cords of twisted wreathed light,

“The morn is full of holiday; loud bells And tasselled round with weeping meteors ! With rival clamors ring from every spire; These pendant lamps and chandeliers are bright

Cunningly stationed music dies and swells As earthly fires from dull druss can be cleansed;

In echoing places, when the winds respire, Yet could my eyes drink up intenser beams

Light flags stream out like gauzy tongues of fire; Undazzled--this is darkness; when I close

A metropolitan murmur, lifeful, warm, These lids, I see far fiercer brilliancies,

Comes from the northern suburbs, rich aitire And spouting exhalations, diamond fires,

Freckles with red and gold the moving swarm ; Skies full of splendid moons and shooting stars, While here and there clear trumpets blow a keen And panting fountains quirering with deep glows.

alarm." Yesthis is dark-is it not dark ?

Of the lesser poems “ The Song of Four There should be three more here :

Fairies," and the fragment called “The Eve For two of them, they stay away perhaps, of St. Mark," deserve especial attention, but Being gloomy minded, haters of fair revelsThey know their own thoughts best . As for the they are too long to quote

. We must close third,

our extracts with a grand and subtle sonnet Deep blue eyes-semi-shaded in white lids, Finished with lashes fine for more soft shade. Completed by her twin-arched ebon brows; While temples of exactest elegance,

“It keeps eternal whisperings around Of eren mould, felicitous and smooth ;

Desolate shores, and with its mighty swell Cheeks fashioned tenderly on either side,

Gluts twice ten thousand caverns, till the spell So perfect, so dirine, that our poor eyes

Of Hecate leaves them their old shadowy sound. Arc dazzled with the sweet proportioning,

Often 'tis in such gentle temper found,





That scarcely will the very smallest shell land has passed through three great epochs,

Be moved for days from where it sometime fell, and is now in the early youth of the fourth, When last the winds of heaven were unbound.

and let us hope the noblest. Natural and Oh, ye who have your eyeballs vexed and tired, Feast them upon the wideness of the sea ;

religious, almost by compulsion, nearly till Oh, ye whose ears are dinned with uproar rude,

the time of Milton, the muse at last endeavOr fed too much with cloying melody,

ored to be something other and more than Sit ye near some old cavern's mouth, and brood these ; with Cowley and his train, she affectUntil ye start, as if the sea-nymphs quired!" ed elaborate, artificial, and meretricious or

nament; but the re-action appeared in that Ere we conclude, we must again entreat school of sensible poets, of which Dryden and that we may not be misunderstood in what has Pope were the chief doctors; we are now been put forth by us concerning the short- returning to the right path ; nothing can be comings of Keats in his character as a poet. more laudable than have been the aims of Were we to speak at full all the praise which most of our modern poets, and we found our we believe his writings merit, we should extraordinary hopes of the final success of satisfy the blindest of his admirers; but we the school, less upon any earnest we have have dwelt rather upon the faults of Keats, received of the harvest than upon the inbecause while they have been very much less controvertible truth that “ Whatsoever we generally perceived than his excellencies, the desire in youth, in age we shall plentifully perception of them is by no means of less obtain.” importance to the health of English litera It remains for us to assure our readers ture. When we remember that poets are that Mr. Milnes, whose prose style is the comunconsciously received in the world as the pletest, in its happy way, that we are achighest authorities upon matters of feeling, quainted with, has executed his task with and therefore of morals, we cannot think accomplished taste. For a poet to have that we have dwelt even fully enough upon conducted the autobiography of a brother the deficiences of the last phase which our poet, as Mr. Milnes has done, without havpoetry has assumed. We console ourselves ing once overstepped the modest office of an with the assurance that it is a phase which “ editor,” is an exhibition of self-denial which cannot be an enduring one. Poetry in Eng. 'is now as rare as it is worthy of imitation.



It cannot be so long ago,

But yesterday it seems,
When hand in hand, and to and fro,
Where on the banks sweet violets grow,

We wander'd by the streams,
A girl and boy; and now I gaze

Upon your locks as white as snow,
Yet mem'ry brings back those sweet days-

It cannot be so long ago !

It cannot be so long ago,

Or was it but a dream ?
Methinks e'en now, I long to go,
Where on the banks those bright flowers grow

Where flows the rippling stream ;
Yet past and gone is many a year,

For thus the str of life must flow,
We scarcely mark its bright career-

It cannot be so long ago !

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

The Authorship of the Letters of Junius Elucidated, including a Biographical Me

moir of Lieutenant-Colonel Isaac Barré, M.P. By John Britton, F.S.A. London : 1848.

In sea

STAT NOMINIS UMBRA must still be the emblazon the vices of public men. inscription upon the intellectual mausoleum sons of national emergency, the State may of Junius. Eighty suns have revolved since require for its service the talent and practithis political Meteor burst upon our horizon. cal wisdom of men who may not be distinUnder the censure of Junius the sovereign guished for their religious or moral qualitrembled on his throne ;—the corrupt states- ties; but in the settled and normal condition man crouched beneath his rod ;—the pliant of a Christian land, where the rights of the judge smarted under his rebuke ;—the fawn- reigning family rest upon a religious qualifiing courtier writhed under the agony of his cation, and where adhesion to a Creed is lash ;—and the Lords and Commons of Eng- demanded from the functionaries of the State, land were at once the sport of his wit, and it would be an insult to the feelings and to the victims of his wrath. Regarding as in the faith of a nation, to place either a skepseparable the private character and the po- tic or a profligate in power; and were such litical acts of public men, and viewing the a character intrusted with high and responimmorality of the Court as the fountain of sible functions, we should hold it to be a social corruption, he dragged into public view public duty to expose his profanity, or his the licentiousness of public men, and thus licentiousness. There are infirmities, howsubjected himself to the imputation of writing ever, there are even vices, which shrink under the excitement of personal feeling, and from the public gaze, and which neither inof assuming the mask of a political moralist, in vite our imitation nor demand our rebuke. order to aim a shaft at the heart of an enemy, Charity throws her veil over insulated imor strike a blow at the character of a friend. moralities, into which great and good men

It is easy to understand how Junius has may be occasionally betrayed, and which been charged with "falsehood and malice” accident or malignity may have placed beby those whose private character he unveiled, | fore the public eye. When remorse or shame or who were stung with the sharpness of his , pursue the offender, public censure may

well wit, or smarted under the asperity of his be spared. Vice has no attractive phase, satire ; but these charges have never been when the culprit is seen in sackcloth or in substantiated; and when we study the dis- tears. But when licentiousness casts its closures which time is continually drawing glare from a throne, or sparkles in the corforth from the epistolary stores of the past, onet of rank,—or stains the ermine of juswe have no hesitation in hazarding the opin- tice,-or skulks in the cleft of the mitre, ion, that Junius may yet be proved to have or is wrapped up in the senatorial robe, or neither magnified the corruptions of the Gov. cankers the green wreath of genius, --when ernment which he denounced, nor malig- acts of political corruption, or public immonantly calumniated the officials who com- rality are mingled with individual, domestic, posed it.

or social vices, courting imitation or apIt may be, and has been, a question how | plause, and offering violence to the feelings far, in the discussion of public measures, we and principles of the community, it becomes are entitled to pry into the character, and the duty of the patriot and the moralist to

hold up to public shame the enemies of pub* The shadow of his name survives.

lic virtue.

Such a patriot and moralist was Junius. | draw the inference that the political changes The flash of his mental eye scathed as with which convulse the age in which we live have a lightning-stroke the minions of corruption, but created a more ardent desire to discover and men paused in their career of political mis- the name of a writer who in “ thoughts that chief in order to avoid the fate of his victims.breathed and words that burned" defended Envenomed with wit and winged with sarcasm, the inalienable rights of Englishmen, while he his shafts carried dismay into the ranks of warned them against any revolutionary inhis adversaries, and they struck deeper into roads upon the constitution by which these their prey in proportion to the polish with rights were secured. which they had been elaborated. And when In attempting to substantiate the charges he failed to annoy and dislodge his antagonist of malignity and personality which have been by the light troops of his wit and ridicule, he brought against Junius, his accusers have brought up in reserve the heavy artillery of availed themselves of most unjust and una powerful and commanding eloquence. In pardonable assumptions. He is supposed to thus discharging the duties of a public censor have written a number of other letters bearing and in defending, at the risk of his life, the laws various signatures, and containing virulent atand constitution of his country, we may ad- tacks upon public men to whom, in his acmire the courage of Junius, and even proffer knowledged compositions, he had avowed the to him our gratitude, though we disown his deepest attachment. He is thus arraigned political principles and disapprove of his con as the warm friend and the bitter enemy of duct. As the enemy of public corruption Lord Chatham, and he is made to occupy the and the assertor of public rights, every suc- odious position of the worshipper and the ceeding age will do homage to his intrepidity slanderer of Lord Shelburne. The accusers and success; and if during the prosecution of of Junius, too, presuming that they have a lofty purpose he occasionally forgot in the identified him with some contemporary statesheat of controversy the courtesies of polished man, charge him—and justly charge him, if life, the patriot will but shed a tear over their hypothesis be true—with attacking those human frailty, and fix his eye on the great with whom he lived on the most intimate truths which may have been established, or terms, and to whom he was under the greatthe important victory which has been achieved. est obligations.* If Sir Philip Francis was In the moral and in the physical world the the author of these letters, as some of Junius' forces which are called into action must obey accusers believe, we admit at once the truth the laws from which they originate. The of the charge. He who assails with intempersolar ray may occasionally consume when its ate abuse the Government of his country purpose is but to illuminate, and the tornado while he is eating its bread and doing its which is sent to purify our atmosphere bears work-who exposes the immoralities and sulin its bosom the elements of death and deso- lies the honor of a noble family while he lation. In social life the intellectual powers shares their confidence and enjoys their hos must often perform their functions under the pitality—and he who slanders his benefactor high pressure of the passions and affections; and aims his deadliest shaft at the patron and even when most nobly and generously who placed him in office-deserves to be exercised, they may display the temperature made an outlaw from social life, and stigmaof the one and the taint of the other. The tized as the basest of mankind. But Sir good done by Junius has lived after him, let Philip Francis was not guilty of being Junius, the evil be interred with his bones.

and Junius was not Sir Philip Francis-not a Although the scenes in which Junius clerk in the War Office, and the slanderer of played so conspicuous a part have been, to a Lord Barrington, not the protégé and the certain extent, cast into the shade by the calumniator of Mr. Welbore Ellis, (Lord Menwars and revolutions of modern times, yet dip,) not the guest and the spy at the Duke of the public anxiety to give life to his shade Bedford's table. Junius was neither Atticus, has not abated ; and were we to judge by nor Lucius, nor Brutus, nor Domitian. the number of the works which have been | These personages must occupy their own published for the purpose of identifying him niche in the temple of fame; the reputation with some eminent statesman,* we should of Junius requires no supplement from theirs,

and the name of Junius shall not be sullied * No less than eleven works, having for their ob

either by their errors or their crimes. ject the identification of Junius with some distinguished character, have been published since the * Lord Brougham's Historical Sketches, &c., pp. peace of 1815.

115, 116. VOL XVI. NO. IL


« НазадПродовжити »