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natural order of association, in which objects strike the thoughts and feelings. (His is the poetry of the bath, of the toilette, of the saloon, of the fashionable world ; not the poetry of nature, of the heart, or of human life. He stunts and enfeebles equally the growth of the imagination and the affections, by not taking the seed of poetry and sowing it in the ground of truth, and letting it expand in the dew and rain, and shoot up to heaven,
“ And spread its sweet leaves to the air,
Or dedicate its beauty to the sun,”instead of which he anticipates and defeats his own object, by plucking flowers and blossoms from the stem, and setting them in the ground of idleness and folly-or in the cap of his own vanity, where they soon wither and disappear,“ dying or ere they sicken !” This is but a sort of child's play, a shortsighted ambition.
In Milton we meet with many prosaic lines, either because the subject does not require raising or because they are necessary to connect the story, or serve as a relief to other passages—there is not such a thing to be found in all Mr. Moore's writings. His volumes present us with “ a perpetual feast of nectard sweets”—but we cannot add,• where no crude surfeit reigns.” He indeed cloys with sweetness; he obscures with splendour; he fatigues with gaiety. We are stifled on beds of roses -we literally lie “ on the rack of restless ecstacy." His flowery fancy “ looks so fair and smells so sweet,
that the sense aches at it.” His verse droops and languishes under a load of beauty, like a bough laden with fruit. His gorgeous style is like “ another morn risen on mid-noon.” There is no passage that is not made up of blushing lines, no line that is not enriched with a sparkling metaphor, no image that is left unadorned with a double epithet—all his verbs, nouns, adjectives, are equally glossy, smooth, and beautiful. Every stanza is transparent with light, perfumed with odours, floating in liquid harmony, melting in luxurious, evanescent delights. His Muse is never contented with an offering from one sense alone, but brings another rifled charm to match it, and revels in a fairy round of pleasure. The interest is not dramatic, but melo-dramatic-it is a mixture of painting, poetry, and music, of the natural and preternatural, of obvious sentiment and romantic costume. A rose is a Gul, a nightingale a Bulbul. We might fancy ourselves in an eastern haram, amidst Ottomans, and otto of roses, and veils and spangles, and marble pillars, and cool fountains, and Arab maids and Genii, and magicians, and Peris, and cherubs, and what not ? Mr. Moore has a little mistaken the art of poetry for the cosmetic art. He does not compose an historic group, or work out a single figure ; but throws a variety of elementary sensations, of vivid impressions together, and calls it a description. He makes out an inventory of beautythe smile on the lips, the dimple on the cheeks, item,
golden locks, item, a pair of blue wings, item, a silver sound, with breathing fragrance and radiant light, and thinks it a character or a story. He gets together a number of fine things and fine names, and thinks that, flung on heaps, they make up a fine poem. This dissipated, fulsome, painted, patch-work style may succeed in the levity and languor of the boudoir, or might have been adapted to the Pavilions of royalty, but it is not the style of Parnassus, nor a passport to Immortality. It is not the taste of the ancients, “ 'tis not classical lore” -nor the fashion of Tibullus, or Theocritus, or Anacreon, or Virgil, or Ariosto, or Pope, or Byron, or any great writer among the living or the dead, but it is the style of our English Anacreon, and it is (or was) the fashion of the day! Let one example (and that an admired one) taken from Lalla Rookh, suffice to explain the mystery and soften the harshness of the foregoing criticism.
“ Now, upon Syria's land of roses
Softly the light of eve reposes,
And whitens with eternal sleet,
Is sleeping rosy at his feet.
To one who look'd from upper air
Fair gardens, shining streams, with ranks
Banquetting through the flowery vales;
And woods, so full of nightingales!"
Joy, joy for ever! my task is done
To thee, sweet Eden! how dark and sad
And the fragrant bowers of Amberabad.” There is in all this a play of fancy, a glitter of words, a shallowness of thought, and a want of truth and solidity that is wonderful, and that nothing but the
heedless, rapid glide of the verse could render tolerable :-it seems that the poet, as well as the lover,
“ May bestride the Gossamer,
That wantons in the idle, summer air,
And yet not fall, so light is vanity!" Mr. Moore ought not to contend with serious difficulties or with entire subjects. He can write verses, not a poem. There is no principle of massing or of continuity in his productions-neither height nor breadth nor depth of capacity. There is no truth of representation, no strong internal feeling-but a continual flutter and display of affected airs and graces, like a finished coquette, who hides the want of symmetry by extravagance of dress, and the want of passion by flippant forwardness and unmeaning sentimentality. All is flimsy, all is florid to excess. His imagination may dally with insect beauties, with Rosicrucian spells; may describe a butterfly's wing, a flower-pot, a fan : but it should not attempt to span the great outlines of nature, or keep pace with the sounding march of events, or grapple with the strong fibres of the human heart. The great becomes turgid in his hands, the pathetic insipid. If Mr. Moore were to describe the heights of Chimboraco, instead of the loneliness, the vastness and the shadowy might, he would only think of adorning it with roseate tints, like a strawberry-ice, and would transform a magician's fortress in the Himmalaya (stripped of its mys