Page images
PDF
EPUB

reappearance of Roderick at the great battle which put an end to the infidel dominion, form the materials of the action. The King, in the disguise of a hermit, figures in most of the scenes; and his agonizing repentance for his past crimes, and humble trust in the mercy of God, are the key-note or prevailing tone of the work. Though free from the injudicious employment of supernatural machinery, and though containing some descriptions of undeniable merit, and several scenes of powerful tenderness and pathos, there is the same want of reality and human interest which characterizes his other poems.

The tone of Southey's poems in general is too uniformly ecstatic and agonizing. His personages, like his scenes, have something unreal, phantom-like, dreamy: they are often beautiful, but it is the beauty not of the earth, or even of the clouds, but of the mirage and the Fata Morgana. His robe of inspiration sits gracefully and majestically upon hiin, but it is too voluminous in its folds, and too heavy in its gorgeous texture, for the motion of real existence: he is never “succinct for speed," and his flowing drapery obstructs and embarrasses his steps. He has power, but not force : his genius is rather passive than active.

On being appointed poet-laureate, Southey paid his tribute of Court adulation with an eagerness and regularity which showed how complete was his conversion from the political faith of his youthful days. A convert is generally a fanatic; and Southey's laureate odes exhibit a fierce, passionate, controversial hatred of his former liberal opinions which gives interest even to the ambitious monotony, the convulsive mediocrity, of his official lyrics. In one of them, the Vision of Fudgment, he has essayed to revive the hexameter in English verse. This experiment, tried in so many languages, and with such indifferent success, had been attempted by Gabriel Harvey in the reign of Elizabeth; and the universal ridicule which hailed Southey's attempt was excited quite as much by the absurdity of the metre as by the extravagant flattery of the poem itself. The deification, or rather beatification, of George III. drew from Byron some of the severest strokes of his irresistible ridicule, and gave him the opportunity of severely revenging upon Southey some of the attacks of the laureate upon his principles and poetry.

§ 8. Southey's prose works are very numerous, and valuable on account of their learning; but the little Life of Nelson, written to furnish young seamen with a simple narrative of the exploits of England's greatest naval hero, has perhaps never been equalled for the perfection of its style. In his other works — the principal of which are The Book of the Church, The Lives of the British Admirals, The Life of Wesley, a History of Brazil, and of the Peninsular War--we find the same admirable art of clear, vigorous English, and no less that strong prejudice, violent political and literary partiality, and a tone of haughty, acrimonious, arrogant self-confidence, which so much detract from his many excellent qualities as a writer and as a man, his sincerity, his learning, his conscientiousness, and his natural benevolence of character.

NOTES AND ILLUSTRATIONS.

imitations of Wordsworth, Cobbett, Southey, ColerOTHER POETS OF THE NINETEENTH

idge, and Crabbe; Horace, those of Scott, Moore, CENTURY

Monk Lewis, Fitzgerald, and Dr. Johnson. SAMUEL ROGERS (1763-1855) was born at New-1 James did little more in the way of literature, exington Green, a suburb of London. After a care- cept an occasional piece in some of the monthlies. ful private cducation he was placed, while yet a lad, Lady Blessington said, “If James Smith had not in his father's banking-house to learn the business, been a wealthy man, he would have been a great in which he afterwards became a nominal partner. man." He died on Christmas Eve, 1839, in his 65th In the enjoyment of large wealth and ample leisure, year. he devoted himself to literature and to the cultiva- HORACE SMITH (1779-1849) was a more volumi. tion of the society of men distinguished in politics, nous writer than his brother. He was the author of literature, and art. His chief works are the Pleas- several novels and verses. Brambletye House, 1826, ures of Memory, published in 1792; Human Life, in

was in imitation of Scott's historical novels. Besides 1819; and Italy, in 1822. His poetry is highly this he wrote Tor Hill, Walter Colyton, The finished, but not characterized by much power or

Moneyed Man, The Merchant, and several others. imagination.

His best performance is the Address to the Mummy, Rev. WILLIAM LISLE BOWIES (1762-1850) was some parts of which exhibit the finest sensibility born at King's Sutton, on the borders of Northamp and an exquisite poetic taste. tonshire. He was educated at Westminster School! FELICIA DOROTIIEA IIEMANS (1793-1835), whose and Trinity College, Oxford. In 1805 he obtained maiden name was Browne, was a native of Liverthe valuable living of Bremhill, in Wiltshire. He pool, and spent the early part of her life in North occupies an important place in the history of Eng-Wales, not far from Abergele. She was not more lish literature, from the great influence which his than fifteen years of age when her first work was poctry appears to have exercised over the produc published. In 1812 appeared the Domestic Affections of Coleridge, Wordsworth, and Southey. His tions and other poems; and in the same year Miss Sonnets, his Missionary of the Andes, and his Vil Browne was married to Captain Hemans. She was lage Versc Book, are among the best of his fortunate in her competition for prizes, gaining that works.

for the best poem on Wallace in 1819; and two years REV. CHARLES WOLFE (1791-1823) was born in afterwards she won a prize for a poem on Dartmoor. Ireland. He is chiefly known as the author of the Her dramatic attempt, the Vespers of Palermo, 1823, celebrated lincs on the death of Sir John Moore, was not successful. Other works quickly followed: published in 1817. His literary compositions were The Forest Sanctuary, 1826; Records of Women, collected and published in 1825.

| 1828; Lays, Lyrics, &c., Songs of the Affections, BERNARD BARTON (178+1849) was a member of 1830. Mrs. Hemans for the latter portion of her life the Society of Friends, and the amount of attention resided at Dublin with her brother, and whilst there which he attracted is perhaps mainly owing to the published in 1834 her Hymns for Childhood, and then unusual phenomenon which he presented of a Scenes and Hymns of Life, with a few sonnets entiQuaker poet - the title, indeed, by which he came tled Thoughts during Sickness. Mrs. Hlemans's writto be commonly known. He published a volume ings are extensively read. Her subjects are those of Metrical Effusions in 1812; Napoleon and other which find a ready admission to the hearts of all Poems, 1822; Poetic Vigils, 1824; Devotional Verses, classes. The style is graceful, but presenting, as 1826. Numerous other pieces appeared separately Scott said, “ too many flowers for the fruit." There and in magazines.

is little intellectual or emotional force about her JAMES MONTGOMERY (1771-1854), educated by | poetry, and the majority of it will soon be forgotten. the Moravians at Fulneck, near Leeds, wrote many A few of the smaller pieces will perhaps remain as poems while yet a boy, but first attracted public English gems, such as The Graves of a Household, attention by The Wanderer in Switzerland, pub- and the Homes of England. lished in 1806, which, though not exhibiting much REV. WILLIAM HERBERT (1778-1847), at first a power, is written in very melodious verse. His lawyer, then Member of Parliament, finally entered subsequent poems were The West Indies (1809), The the Church, and died Dean of Manchester. He is World before the Flood (1812), Greenland (1810), the author of several translations from the Norse, and The Pelican Island and other Poems (1827). Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese - the original

JAMES SMITII (1775-1839), known best in con- poems, Helga, 1815, and Attila, 1838– besides tales, nection with his brother Horace, wrote clever paro sermons, and scientific treatises. dics and criticisms in the Picnic, the London TIOMAS HAYNES BAYLY (1797-1839), a celebrated Review, and the Monthly Mirror. In the last ap- | song-writer. The best known are The Soldier's peared those imitations, from his own and brother's Tear, She wore a Wreath of Roses, rd be a Butterhand, which were published in 1813 as The Rejected fly, 0, no, wc nerer mention her, and Ite met Addresses; one of the most successful and popular | 'twas in a Crowd. works that has ever appeared. James wrote the FRANCIS WRANGHAM (1769-1843), Archdeacon

Tai

of Chester, was author of translations from the clas- Time; a work of real value. A few passages have sical poets, and other poetic and prose writings. quite a Miltonic ring. The poem is a sketch of the

TIENEY FRANCIS CARY (1772-1844), published in life and end of man. The sentiments are Calvin1801 a translation of Dante's Inferno, and ten years istic. The tone and coloring are often too sombre. later a translation of the Divina Commedia, in blank | Sometimes the style becomes rather inflated. Robversc, &c.

ert Pollok was a native of Muirhouse, Renfrewshire, WILLIAM STEWART ROSE (1775-1843) was also studied at Glasgow, and became a minister in the celebrated as a translator. His chief works were United Secession Church. He also wrote Tales of Anadis de Gaul, 1803, and the well-known transla- the Covenanters, in prose. tion of the Orlando Furioso of Ariosto, published | ROBERT BLOOMFIELD (1760-1823), the son of a in 1831.

tailor at Honington, near Bury St. Edmund's, WILLIAM TAYLOR (1765-1836), of Norwich, worked as a shoemaker in London, where he comtranslated some of the works of Goethc, Schiller, and | posed his poetry, which was rejected by London Lessing, and gave a great impulse to the study of booksellers, but published at Bury, at the expense German literature in England.

of Capel Lofft, Esq. He was patronized by the JAMES GRANJAME (1765-1811), a native of Glas. Duke of Grafton, and obtained a situation in the gow, at first a barrister, then entered the English Seal Office. He died on the 19th of August, 1823, at Church, where he became a well-known preacher. Shefford, Bedfordshire. The chief poems are The In 1801 he published Mary Queen of Scotland, a Farner's Boy (1793), Rural Tales (1810), Wild dramatic poem. This was followed by the Sabbath, | Flowers, &c. His stylc is descriptive. The rhythm Sa'bath Walks, and other poems of a religious is correct, and the language choice, but the gentle character. Grahame is not an easy, graceful poet; flow seldom bursts into the rush of passion. He and though his verse is full of tender and devout never sinks, and never soars. feeling, it has little vigor or imagination. He has JOUN LEYDEN (1775-1811), a native of Scotland, been compared to Cowper, but wants that poet's wrote a few poerns and miscellaneous prose articles humor, force, and depth of poetic passion.

in the Edinburgh Alagazine, entered the Church WILLIAM SOTITELY (1757-1833), born in London (1798), but afterwards became a surgeon in the East and educated at llarrow, was for some time in the India Company's service (1802). In India he dearmy; but retired about 1780, and devoted himself voted himself to the study of the Oriental languages. to literature. He was a man of great learning, and He accompanied Lord Minto in the expedition translated some classical works with much elegance against Java, where he died in 1811. His Poetical and skill. Ilis chief works were, Poetical Descrip Remains were published in 1819, by Rev. James tion of Wales, 1789; Translation of Virgil's Georgics, Morton. Sir Walter Scott has spoken in high terms 1800; Constance de Castille, 1810, written after the of his poetry. style of Scott's romantic poems; translations of The

9: translations of The THIOMAS NOON TALFOUED (1795-1854) was born Iliad, 1831; and The Odyssey, 1832. His transla- at Reading, rose to distinction at the bar, and was tion from Wieland's Oberon has received great made a judge in 1849. Ile died on the bench whilst commendation.

addressing the Grand Jury at Stafford in 1851. IIe JOIIN ILOOKIAN FRERE (1769-1816), a friend of wrote the tragedies of Ion, The Athenian Captive, Canning, whom he assisted in the paper called The The Massacre of Glencoe, and The Castilian; and Anti-Jacobin; was Charge d'Affaires in Spain with in prose, Vacation Rambles (1851), Life of Charles General Moore, and afterwards Resident at Malta, | Lamb, and an Essay on the Greek Drama. lle is where he died, aged seventy-seven. He was the best known by the tragedy of Ion, perhaps one of author of the once celebrated satiric poem, pub the most striking additions to tragic literature in lished in 1817, entitled Prospectus and Specimen of modern times. an intended National Work by William and Robert WINTHROP MACKWORTIL PRAED (1802-1839), Whistlecraft, &c. It was written in ottava rima, son of Mr. Serjcant Praed, entered the House of and was a clever burlesque of romantic writings, Commons, and became Secretary of the Board of with here and there a touch of rcal poetry. It was Control. His early life and writings gave promise the model on which Byron wrote his Beppo. He of future eminence. While at Eton he started the was also the author of the War Song of Drunnen Etonian, and was one of the chief contributors to burg, published by Ellis as a fourteenth century Knight's Quarterly Magazine. His poems, which production, but really written by the author when have been recently published in a collected form, at school at Eton during the great discussion on the are some of the most remarkable which have Rowley poems by Chatterton. Frere also made an appeared in modern times. admirable translation into English verse of the HARTLEY COLERIDGE (1796-1849) and SARA Acharnians, Knights, Birds, and Frogs of Aristoph-COLERIDGE (1803-1852) were the children of the anes, which was printed at Malta.

great Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and themselves Dr. REGINALD IIEIER (1783-1826) was born at well known in the world of letters. The brother Malpas, Cheshire, educated at Brasenose College, was author of Poems, Essays, Lives of the Northern Oxford, and successively Vicar of Ilodnet and Worthies, and other miscellaneous works. His Bishop of Calcutta. He died at Trichinopoly, poems were published, with a Memoir of his life, in April, 3, 1826. IIe was author of the Dampton 1851. The sister married in 1829 her cousin Henry Lectures, 1815; Life of Jeremy Taylor, 1822; mis- | Nelson Coleridge. The dissertations which she cellaneous prosc writings; and many poems, chiefly appended to many of her father's works, published religious, of great beauty and feeling.

after his death, are remarkable both for power of ROBERT POLLOK (1799-1827), the author of a thought and of expression. lony poem in blank verse, called the Course of! MRS. SOUTILEY (CAROLINE ANNE BOWLES)

(1787-1854) was born at Lymington, Hants. Her "Ettrick Shepherd," a native of Ettrick Vale, Selearly life was spent in retirement and literary pur- kirkshire. His school was the mountain's side, suits. Several poems were published by her of where he kept the cattle and sheep. Ilis education much taste and sentiment. She was married to was scanty; but a quick and retentive memory, Southey on the 5th June, 1839. She completed the great natural gifts, and a fine appreciation of the poem Robin Hood, commenced by Southey. Her wondrous scenes around him, called up the slumhest known piece is the little lyric called The Pau- bering muse, and in 1801 he published a small volper's Death-bed.

ume of songs. The Mountain Bard followed in EBENEZER ELLIOTT (1781-1849), the son of an 1807. Soon afterwards he left his occupation and ironfounder of Masborough, Yorkshire, worked resided at Edinburgh, supporting himself entirely himself at his father's business. In 1823 he pub- by his pen. The Queen's IVake (1813) brought him lished some poems; but is best known for the Corn into very favorable notice. It was followed by Law Rhymes, which appeared between 1830-36. Mador of the Moor, Winter Evening Tales, &c. His affection and advocacy of the working classes Hogg's chief delight was in legendary tales and endeared his name to them; whilst his genius and folk lore. Fancy rather than the description of life pure poetic fervor, though sometimes leading him and manners is the prevailing character of the poet's beyond the limits of good taste, claimed the recog writings. A modern critic says, “He wanted art to nition of Southey, Bulwer, and Wilson.

construct a fable, and taste to give due effect to his ROBERT MONTGOMERY (1808–1855), a popular imagery and conceptions. But there are few poets preacher at Percy Chapel, Charlotte Street, Bedford who impress us so much with the idea of direct inSquare. His poems passed through numerous edi-spiration, and that poetry is indeed an art' unteachtions; but they are stilted and unnatural in expres-able and untaught.'" sion. Their religious subjects, and the clever puffing which they received, contributed to their

MORE MODERN POETS. success. The chief of them were the Omnipresence of the Deity, Satan, Luther, Messiah, and Oxford. The poets of the latter part of the nineteenth cenHe is perhaps best known by the scathing criticism tury have been very numerous; but there are only which he received in the celebrated essay by Ma | four who stand out in any prominence worthy of caulay.

comparison with that illustrious band which adorned LETITIA ELIZABETI LANDON (1802-1838), best the early years of the century. These are ALFRED known by her initials L. E. L., under which her TENNYSON, ROBERT BROWNING, MRS. BROWNpoems appeared in various periodicals, which have ING, and THOMAS IIОon. The two former are been collected and published separately. She was excluded from the scope of this work. The other the daughter of an army agent, born at Chelsea, and two must not be passed by without a short notice. married in 1838 Mr. Maclean, governor of the Gold THOMAS IIOOD (1799–1845) has, unfortunately, Coast Colony, West Africa, where she died, Octo- been regarded only as a humorist; and as the Engber 15, 1839.

lish reader would accept from him nothing but wit REY. GEORGE CROLY (1780-1863), a native of and humor, the most valuable of his writings are Dublin, and rector of St. Stephen's, Walbrook, Lon | in danger of being forgotten. IIe was born on the don. His style was gorgeous and his imagination 23d of May, 1799; and in 1821 he became sub-editor fertile. He was the author of several works in poetry of the London Magazine, where his poem on llope and prose. Paris in 1815, Angel of the World (1820), appeared. He was associated with the brilliant Pride shall have a Fall, Catiline, The Modern Or- circle who then contributed to the Magazine; among lundo (1846), are his chief poems. In fiction he whom were Lamb, Hazlitt, the Smiths, De Quincey, produced Salathiel, Tales of the Great St. Bernard, and Reynolds. The latter of these was united with and darston; the first of which is a romance of Hood in the publication of the Odles and Addresses, great power and eloquence.

which appeared anonymously, and were ascribed MRS. MARY TIGIIE (1773-1810), a native of Wick- by Coleridge to Lamb. These were followed by low County, Ireland, the authoress of Psyche, a whims and Oddities. Hood became at once a poem founded on the story of Cupid and Psyche in popular writer; but in the midst of his success a Apuleius, and exhibiting much imagination and firm failed which involved him in its losses. The graceful fancy.

poet, disdaining to seek the aid of bankruptcy, JAMES SHERIDAN KNOWLES (1794-1862), one of emulated the example of Scott, and determined by the principal modern tragic writers, was born at the economy of a life in Germany to pay off the debt Cork in 1794. He went on the stage, and there dis- which he had thus involuntarily contracted. In tinguished himself as an actor and writer of plays. 1835 the family took up their residence in Coblenz; Ile afterwards retired from the stage, and occupied from thence removed to Ostend (1837); and returned himself with teaching elocution, and sometimes to London in 1815. He subsequently became editor preaching in the chapels of the Christian body to of the New Monthly in 1841, and held it until 1943, which he belonged. Caius Gracchus was performed when the first number of his own Magazine was in 1815; and was followed by Virginius, one of the issued. A pension was obtained for him, with remost popular dramas that has appeared in recent version to his wife and daughter, in 1844; and he times upon the English stage. The Hunchback died upon the 3d of May in the following year. and William Tell are perhaps his two best works. Hood stands very high among the poets of the Two novels were written by him, George Lovell and second order. He was not a creative genius. He llenry Fortescuc. His plots are natural, and the has given little indication of the highest imaginacharacters well sustained.

| tive faculty ; but his fancy was most delicate and JAMES Hogg (1770-1835), known better as the full of graceful play. His appreciation of the beau

ties of nature was very vivid; and some of his de- | longings for Italian liberty. IIer greatest poem, scriptions are models of their class. His most Aurora Leigh, was published in 1850; and her distinctive mark was the thorough humanity of his Poems before Congress and Later Poems were not thoughts and expressions. His poems are amongst given to the public till shortly before her death, the most valuable contributions to English litera- which took place at the Casa Guidi, Florence, ture of sympathy with, and insight into, human life June 29, 1861. and character. Every reader is struck by the sad- Mrs. Browning stands very high in the rank of ness and melancholy always present in his works. English poets. The creative or imaginative faculty The author of the Comic Annuals can scarcely be she possessed in the highest degree. ller Satan in conceived of as writing such a poem as the Bridge the Drama of Exile is one of the finest creations in of Sighs. Yet it is true that humor is generally the whole range of our literature. So intense, howunited with sadness. It has been well said by Ilood cver, was the subjective in this poetess, that all her himself, that

writings are tinged by herself. We can see the “There's not a string attuned to mirth,

woman of deep emotion, of high-toned thought, of But has its chord in melancholy."

devout spirit, with soul strong enough to have filled

the body of a Joan of Arc, shut in her darkened Hood was without a doubt the greatest humorist and chamber, reading "almost every book worth readwit of his age. He possessed in a most remarkable ing in almost every language," mingling with a few degree the power of perceiving the ridiculous and friends, the smallness of which circle prevented a the odd. Words seemed to break up into the most loss of emotional force by too great expanse, her queer and droll syllables. His wit was caustic, and heart going forth in sympathy with the wretched yet it bore with itself its remedy. It was never and down-trodden, and at last finding a man and coarse. An impurity even in suggestion cannot be poet worthy of her best affection; and then, gatherfound in Hood's pages. With the hunor was asso ing up her strength, she seems to fling her own soul ciated a most tender pathos. The Death-bed is one into her verse, now with all the passion which of the most affecting little poems in our language, gleams through “Aurora Leigh," and now in the and is equalled only by another of his ballads enti- tenderer sonnets so full of pathos and love. It is tled Love's Eclipse. The deep melancholy that not to je wondered at therefore that some of her colors “I remember" is carried almost too far. The writing has been called spasmodic. Mrs. Browning last verse of that little poem seems to contain the has not the calm, unfailing flow of thought and feelsorrows of a whole life. Amongst his larger works, ing which we find in her only modern superior, the the llca of the Midsummer Fairics, and Hero and Laureate. But the woman rises to heights on which Leander, are the most sustained and elaborate the man has never stood, and finds deeps which he The descriptive picces in both are full of the most has never fathomed. Iler style is therefore often careful observation of nature, and most musical rugged, unfinished, and at times utterly without expression of her beauties. The best known of his rhythm. Some portions of Aurora Leigh might be poems are The Bridge of Sighs, Eugene Aram, and written as prose as well as poetry. the Song of the Shirt.

The sadness which pervades all the writing of ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING (d. 1861), wife Mrs. Browning is what might be well expected from of Robert Browning, himself an eminent poet, was such a life as hers. Her ill health, the sudden loss a native of London, and contributed in very early of her younger brother, the long-continued continelife to some of the leading periodicals. IIer first ment in that chamber where no sunbeam ever acknowledged work was Prometheus Bound, a cheered, must all have deepened the sorrow in which translation from the great Greek dramatist, 1833. she ever dwelt. Her verse is therefore but rarely In 1844 her poems were published in two volumes. sportive. She deals sometimes in satire, but satire is After her marriage with Robert Browning, her fail- always sad. Her own idea of the poet's work seems ing health compelled them to reside in Italy, and to bear this view. “Poetry has been as serious a they took up their residence first in Pisa, and after-thing to me as life itself; and life has been a very wards in Florence. Here she sympathized warmly serious thing. I never mistook pleasure for the with the cause of her adopted and suffering nation. final cause of poctry, nor leisure for the hour of the Her poem of Casa Guidi Windows appeared in 1851, poct." From such a view of poetry and life, wo where the Italian revolutions of 1848 and 1819 kin- cannot wonder at the moral purpose, the soul which ded her indignation at foreign oppression, and her | is found in all her writing.

« PreviousContinue »