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amount of work every day, and the between them. Wordsworth, the quantity he produced is something peripatetic philosopher, living so much enormous. His poems alone fill ten in the open air, seeking no inspiration large volumes, and in addition he from books, and happily relieved from wrote histories, biographies and ar- the necessity of any uncongenial literticles without number for the Quar- ary toil, found it hard to sympathize terly, and other reviews. His enemies fully with Southey, who rarely stirred accused him of being a mere machine, outside his library, who was forced to warranted, if properly wound up and write on any and every subject, if set going, to produce a ready-made thereby he could earn money, and who article after any pattern required ; and had moreover little foibles and prejuthe sneer certainly had a groundwork dices inconceivable to Wordsworth. of truth. Southey himself asserted, A jesting remark of Southey's happily that between the ages of twenty and illustrates their dissimilarities in taste twenty-five he burnt more poetry than and character; he said that to allow he published during his whole life, a Wordsworth access to his library was fact which, some people would say, like letting a bear into a tulip garshould not be lost sight of in summing den.' But it is probable that the raup his meritorious deeds. If he had dical cause which prevented an imburnt a little more it would, perhaps, mediate friendship between the two have been better for his reputation, men, was their intense, overpowering and more gratifying to his critics. egotism ; Wordsworth could brook no Nevertheless, the untiring energy and one, who claimed equality, near his unflagging industry with which South- throne, and Southey had a full share ey struggled for competence for his

of the same feeling. family, and glory for himself, compel The saddest event of Southey's life, our admiration. The writings by and one which displays prominently which he made money were his prose the sweetness of his nature, and the works. As an instance, we may men- depth of his affections, was the loss of tion, that for a review of Nelson in his son Herbert. He said, in speakthe Quarterly, subsequently expanded ing of it, that for him earth had into the famous Life, he received henceforth no joys to offer; and it is £150. He regarded such work as certain that a shadow was cast over mere drudgery, and never allowed his life which was not dispelled on this it to interfere with his incessant toil side of the grave. Among Southey's in the nobler field of poetry. It published works are some fragmentmay be his lot, however, to depend ary thoughts occasioned by his son's largely for fame upon the works that death, of no great value in a literary he despised, and if this be so, his in- sense, but touching from their simdustry and the integrity which in- plicity, and from the depth of afflicspired it will not have been without tion which inspired them. He tells their reward.

us how his For many years Southey lived a

• Playful thoughts happy, and, except in a literary sense,

Turn'd now to gall and esel.' uneventful life at Keswick. With

And with a mournful reference to Wordsworth he maintained a pleasant

the shrinking pain he never ceased to intercourse, although it was of the

feel at any mention of his dead son, calm and equable sort which springs

he declared rather from close acquaintanceship than from any strong mutual attrac

In sacred silence buried, which was still tion. Indeed their habits were so At moru and eve the never wearying theme

Of dear discourse.' dissimilar, that it required many years to bring about anything like intimacy It is not necessary to dwell longer on

That nauie


Southey's private life.

He never feriority of the last generation and sought what is conventionally known this one, but we must all agree that as society,' although he gained the Southey's age was far more indulgent reputation among such men as Words

than our own. It was an age of reworth, Coleridge and De Quincey of vival, and

age of intellectual a brilliant conversationalist, of the in- giants; as was inevitable in such a cisive, arbitrary kind; a style which case, in the wake of the giants folmust have been peculiarly telling lowed innumerable pigmies, each with when contrasted with Coleridge's elo- his or her circle of adorers sounding quent and mystical verbosity. In

loud praises. The critical acumen of 1837 his peaceful, studious life was an age that could endure, much more rudely shaken by the death of his idolize, Mrs. Hannah More, Miss wife, the cherished and faithful com- Seward, Bloomfield, Montgomery, and panion of forty years, helper in all his

many still more despicable versifiers, struggles and proud sharerin all his pros- cannot have been very great, and it is perity. Her loss was somewhat com

not surprising to find that Southey, pensated for, however, by his second who was himself by no means one of marriage with Caroline Bowles, the

the pigmies, compelled an adulation poetess, who consented to comfort his

out of all proportion to his deserts. declining years, and alleviate the dis- When dwarfs were mistaken for tress of a solitary old age. Her

giants, it is not wonderful that an affectionate ministrations were soon honest man of regulation height should painfully needed; the inexpressibly have had several inches added to his sad end was approaching when that stature. The association of Southey's intellect, so long the pride of its pos

name with those of Coleridge and sessor and the boast of his companions, Wordsworth, and the position he forlapsed into childishness and the ob- tuitously gained among the Lake livion of imbecility. Over such a Poets, had also much to do with the scene it is better to draw the veil ; recognition he received as being himwhen a life, upon the whole, noble in

self one of the truly great. But above aspiration and successful in attain

any and all of these reasons must be ment, closes in a darkness worse than reckoned the force of his own characdeath, we can but bow our heads and,

ter, and his firm and invulnerable beechoing Southey's own words, acknow- lief in himself. It is often said that ledge that, in such a case,

the world appraises a man at the * The Grave is the House of Hope.'

value he sets on himself, and Southey It remains now to discuss Southey's is a remarkable instance of this; he merits as a poet, and it is only fair at was so thoroughly sincere and singlethe outset to point out, that it is not minded, and possessed, moreover, of altogether easy for this generation to ta

talents that so nearly approached mete out full justice to a poet who genius, that those around him could was so unduly eulogized during his not help thinking that he must know lifetime. The revulsion from extreme best, and that if he thought so himself laudation to utter neglect has been he really must be the greatest poet of rapid, and perhaps not unnatural, but

It is difficult to read Southey the very

violence of the revulsion may without entering in our minds a silent, well incline us to doubt whether, to sometimes indignant, protest its fullest extent, it has been deserved. against the judgment of his contemThe causes which combined to render poraries, but although this of necessity possible the attainment by Southey renders us critical, it need not make of great reputation are not far to seek. us unjust, nor blind us to whatever of We may

each have our own opinion real merit is to be found in his poetry: as to the intellectual superiority or in It was recognized by unprejudiced

his age.


critics* even in Southey's lifetime, that chimney to carry off naughty children. the fundamental fault of his poetry Nor is it the sole example of Southey's lies in what, for want of a better power in this respect. Most of his word, must be called its' childishness.' ballads are of this description, and His great epic attempts are based on were it not for his scathing rebuke to fables, much more fitted for the nurs- Mr. Payne Collier, we should have ery than for the delectation of think- unhesitatingly classed many of them ing men and women. They are filled as mock-ballads.' The childishness with bogies, such as malicious nurses which Wordsworth assumed from afdelight to terrify children with ; they fectation or from revolt against the describe scenes in heaven, and earth, worship of Dryden and Pope, was, and hell with a gaudy brilliancy, or we think, almost natural to Southey. a murky darkness, which alternately He never touches in any serious way, recall to mind the transformation upon the vast problem of life; he scene, and the demon's haunt in a seems afraid to contaminate his pages Christmas pantomine. Such was the with any story of moving passion, or framework he chose for his most of erring human nature; the affections ambitious attempts ; and he displays he delineates are those of parent for the same unfortunate predilection for

child, or of sister for brother; beyond the infantine in all his poetry, either this his simplicity apparently dare in design or in manner of execution. not betray him. And if this be His ballads are almost all intended to universally so in the structure of be horrible—and if they had a little his poems, what wonder that in the more humour, would often attain to execution he sometimes degenerates the grotesquely horrible, but-and into a childishness which outdoes herein lies the gist of the matter - Wordsworth at his worst? The Southey wrote them soberly and seri- exquisite simplicity of perfect finish ously, without a thought that they and harmony, is one of the rarest, could possibly be viewed from a hum- as it is one of the highest attriorous side. Payne Collier once, in butes of a poet. In our own day Mr. all honesty of mind, spoke of the Matthew Arnold has shown us how Old Woman of Berkeley,' as a mock- delightful is the simplicity of perfecballad, and Southey, furiously indig- tion, but to compare with such simnant, replied, that certainly this was plicity as his, the following lines taken never suspected by the author or any

at random from ‘All for Love,' an of his friends. It obtained a very

important poem of Southey's, seems different character in Russia, where, almost a mockery : having been translated and published

* And he had heard a waking voice, it was prohibited for this singular

Which said it so must be, reason, that children were said to be

Pronouncing upon Cyra's name

A holiest eulogy. frightened by it.'+ The ballad in

• Her shall her husband praise, and her question may certainly be well adap

Her children blest shall call ; ted to terrify children, but its effect

Many daughters have done virtuously

But thine excelleth them all!' on any reader who has attained a less sensitive age, would, we think, ap

When Southey, in what is meant to

be the most impressive passage in a proach more nearly to the ridiculous than to the horrible. It is a veritable lengthy poem, puts such sad stuff as

this into the mouth of an angel from nursery tale, fit to be classed with the black man who comes down the heaven, we feel that the last depth

of inanity has been reached, and we *This view is admirably sustained in an article in

are not surprised that he should somethe Edinburgh Review. "Vol. 17. 1810.

times cause his merely mortal characPreface to Southey's works. Vol. VI., Author's

ters to utter still more pitiable com


monplace. Southey's ballads and lyric poems are full of examples of the puerile affectation into which, in common with many greater poets of his age, he was led by the desire to be, above all things, natural.

We can discover neither poetry, nature, nor art in such verses as the following, from the ballad of St. Michael's Chair:

Up the tower Rebecca ran,

Round and round and round:
'Twas a giddy sight to stand a-top

And look upon the ground.
• “A curse on the ringers for rocking

The tower !" Rebecca cried,
As over the church battlements

She strode with a long stride.' Southey had, moreover, a childish love for the huge and portentous, to which he


in The Curse of Kehama and Thalaba. The extraordinary situations and the supernatural agencies of these poems cannot be said to spring from a poetical imagination; they only prove that Southey possessed in an abnormal degree the power of invention which is the essential requisite of a nursery story-teller. Baron Munchausen's veracious history is amusing, and we must confess that the excellent Baron was not deficient in imagination, but it is hardly the kind of imagination upon which a great poet would care to base his reputation.

Southey never allowed any of his ideas to suffer from want of elaboration. He is never content to hint anything; all must be explained in minute, laborious detail, so that a a reader is impressed with the belief that the poet attached undue importance to every one of his ideas, and thought nothing which passed through his own mind too trivial to be conveyed to his readers. This of itself challenges criticism ; passages whose weakness might, if less obtrusively forced upon us, pass comparatively unnoticed, compel our attention, and force us to take exception to them. Southey has given us a remarkable instance of his proneness to work an idea to death in the elaborate addi

tions which he made to · The Devil's Walk.' This well-known satire was first published in the Morning Post, and was the joint production of Southey and Coleridge; it originally consisted of seventeen stanzas, and according to Coleridge the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 9th and 16th stanzas only were dictated by Mr. Southey.' Southey's account does not openly controvert this, but contradicts it by implication. In the “Advertisement' which pre cedes the poem in the author's edition, Southey presumes that its authorship has been sufficiently authenticated by Coleridge's statement; but in refutatation of Porson's claim, he quotes the Morning Post,' without correction, to the effect that the verses were written by Southey and 'subsequently shown to Mr. Coleridge, who, we believe, pointed some of the stanzas, and perhaps added one or two.' This account hardly tallies with that of Coleridge, but the authorship of the verses—they make no pretension to be dignified with the name of poem-is hardly worth disputing ; the only line which possesses the merit of having enriched the English language with a proverb was undoubtedly Coleridge's :

"And the Devil did grin, for his darling sin

Is pride that apes humility.'* We only allude to this satire as illustrating Southey's unfortunate habit of expanding to the fullest extent any idea which he conceived to be worth anything In his published works, edited by himself, The Devil's Walk is lengthened to 308 lines, whereas in Coleridge's version (which we believe to be the original form of publication) it consists of only 69 lines. The value of Southey's additions may be guessed from the following stanza :

Well pleased wilt thou be at no very far day, And I bring them forth in battle array

When the chaldron of mischief boils

* This quotation is from Coleridge's version, Southey's reads ;

* And he own'd with a grin
That his favourite sin
Is pride that apes humility.'

And bid them suspend their broils, That they may unite and fall on the prey

For which we are spreading our toils. How the nice boys all will give mouth at the call,

Hark away! hark away to the spoils !
My Macs and my Quacks and my lawless Jacks,
My Shiels and O'Connells, my pious Mac-Donnells,
My joke-Smith Sydney, and all of his kidney,
My Humes and iny Broughams,

My merry old Jerry,
My Lord Kings and my Doctor Doyles !

master of the English language; his diction is pure and scholarly, and his choice of words almost invariably felicitous. His powers of description were undoubtedly very great, and had he but kept a tight rein on his unfortunate verbosity, he might perhaps have stood comparison in this respect with most English poets. The following gorgeous passage is from · Thalaba the Destroyer,' and is a good example of Southey at his best : * Here emerald columns o'er the marble courts Shed their green rays, as when amid a shower

The sun shines loveliest on the vernal corn. Here Shedad bade the sapphire floor be laid

As though with feet divine

To tread on azure light,
Like the blue pavement of the firmament.

Here self-suspended hangs in air,
As its pure substance loathed material touch,

The living carbuncle :

Sun of the lofty dome,
Darkness hath no dominion o'er its beams;

Intense it glows, an even-flowing spring
Of rauliance like the day-flood in its source.

* Therefore at Shedad's voice Here tower'd the palm, a silver trunk, The fine gold net-work growing out

Loose from its rugged boughs. Tall as the cedar of the mountain, here Rose the gold branches, hung with emerald leaves, Blossomed with pearls, and rich with ruby fruit.'

The idea of extending what was originally a short, racy, semi-political squib into a long poem would have occurred to few poets but Southey ; the original idea of The Devil's Walk was, however, undoubtedly a striking one; it took the public by storm, and Southey could not resist the temptation of working it threadbare.

As Southey apparently never even attempted to impart a dramatic element to his poetry, it is perhaps hardly fair to say that he failed in this respect; its utter absence shows that in one direction at least he correctly gauged his own powers. But a poet may be devoid of the dramatic faculty and yet invest with a vivid human interest the characters he portrays; if he cannot do so, it is obviously rash for him to enter the field of Epic poetry, which should deal with great subjects, great emotions, and great deeds, and deal with them in such a manner that, without being divested of sublimity, they may appeal to the heart as well as to the intellect of mankind. Southey's characters are often SO wildly supernatural as to be altogether outside the pale of humanity; and when clothed in mortal flesh and blood they are tedious and

dull, always either impossibly wicked or insipidly perfect. It is difficult to believe that Southey ever drew a tear from any human being. That ne cannot stir our emotions is partly owing to the frequency and elaboration of the attempts he makes to do so; he had not the "ars celare crtem,' and many of his finest passages leave us perfectly unmoved, the very laboriousness of the effort defeating the end - aimed at.

Southey was a great and admirable

In The Curse of Kehama the description of Padalon, the Oriental equivalent of Hell, is impressive, because it is not overburdened with images and epithets, as are so many of Southey's descriptive passages. The following lines approach nearly to absolute greatness : * For other light than that of day there shone Upon the travellers entering Padalon. They too in darkness enter'd on their way,

But far before the Car,
A glow, as of a fiery furnace light,
Fill'd all 'before them. "Twas a light which made

Darkness itself appear
A thing of comfort, and the sight dismayed,
Shrunk inward from the molten atmosphere.
Their way was through the adamantine rock
Which girt the World of Woe; on either side

Its massive walls arose, and overhead
Arch'd the long passage ; onward as they ride
With stronger glare the light around them spread ;

And lo! the regions dread,
The World of Woe before them, opening wide.

There rolls the fiery flood,
Girding the realms of Padalon around.
A sea of flame it seem'd to be,

Sea without bound;
For neither mortal nor immortal sight
Could pierce acriss through that intensest light.

A single rib of steel,
Keen as the edge of keenest scimitar,
Spann'd this wide gulpb of fire.'

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