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genius would desire to see blotted from would have compressed into an epithet. his works. It appears impossible that In narrative skill, and constructive powthe mind that created “Genevieve” should er, he excels both; and is himself ex. likewise have produced amatory verses, celled only by Scott. His mind was ex. which would do no honor to Mr. Cowley ceedingly fertile in the invention of incia or Robert Murray. Coleridge, indeed, sur- dent. “ Thalaba” and the Curse of prises us almost as much by his failures Kahama," are the most dazzling of his as his triumphs.
long poems, and show to the best advanROBERT SOUTHEY fills a large space in tage the whole resources of his mind. the literary annals of our time. His In these the originality consists in conname and his powers, were connected necting common passions and common with those of Wordsworth and Coleridge, virtues, with the most fantastical and unin the poetical revolution which mark common incidents; and in exhibiting the ed the commencement of the century. powers and feelings of human nature in Though the largest portion of his time relation to the grotesque fictions of was spent in retirement, he was engaged superstitious faith.
The predominant in continual contests. Byron detested faculty in exercise is fancy; and, were and reviled him, with the utmost warmth it not that the author's perceptions of of his nature; and the Edinburgh Re- character and conduct are rigidly severe, view, for a series of thirty years, made the whole representation would appear him the object of its keenest sarcasm and like a feverish dream; but the continual most mocking ridicule. Many of these presence of the faults and the virtues of attacks were almost justified by Southey's Robert Southey, amid the most monown intolerance of nature. He was a strous and improbable machinery of his dogmatist of the most provoking kind,— fancy, gives to the essential substance of cool, calm, bitter and uncompromising; the poems a character of didactic reality. and he delighted to dogmatise on subjects Inhuman or superhuman actions are perwhich his mind was unfitted to treat formed from human motives, and relate Nothing could shake his egotism. to human ideas of duty and feeling. Though, in many respects, one of the In the delineation of the passions, best of Christians and noblest of men, he Southey manifests generally more of the was never free from bigotry when there theologian than the poet. Love is almost was any occasion for its development. always represented either as lust or adoHe often confounded his prejudices with ration. Macaulay pointedly remarks, his duties, and decked out his hatreds in that “ his heroes make love either like the colors of his piety. In all his con seraphim or like cattle.” There is no troversies, he never seems to have appre- golden mean between the extremes of ciated the rights of an adversary. To passion, in his delineations. He never oppose him was to champion infidelity could have written « Genevieve,” or reor anarchy. Yet no man had more kind- presented Effie Deans. There is someness of heart, or displayed greater wil. ihing harsh and hard in his morality, lingness to befriend either struggling which prevents him from a tolerant estigenius or mediocrity, when his contro- mate of character. His men and women versial passions were stilled. If we look are didactic rather than dramatic-emat him from one point of view, he seems bodiments of essays on human nature, the most unamiable of men ; while from rather than embodiments of human naanother, he appears the most benevolent ture itself. They evince a great lack of and gentle. He was a kind of St. Domi- insight, and have little objective truth. nic on one side of his nature, and a kind His characiers are mirrors to reflect the of Fenelon on the other. His adversa- outlines of his own individuality. As a ries, therefore, he made his enemies, and poet, he seems to us to fall below Scott, his friends became his partisans. Shelley, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron,
As a prose writer Southey was more and to belong to the second class of con. successful than as a poet. His prose temporary poets.
In imagination and style is of such inimitable grace, clear- true poetic feeling, we should hesitate to ness and fluency, that it would almost place him on an equality with Campbell, make nonsense agreeable. His poetry in- Barry Cornwall, Tennyson, and Keats, dicates a lack of shaping imagination, although in general capacity and acquireand is diffusely elegant in expression. ments, and especially in force of indiHe often gives twenty lines to a com vidual character, he is their superior. parison, which Shelley or Wordsworth It requires no prophetic gift to predict
that most of his verse is destined to another. He blinds the eye with diamond die.
dust, and lulls the ear with the singing Thomas Moore began his career with sweetness of his versification. Much of singing, not the “ Loves of the Angels,” his sentiment, which fair throats warble but the loves of the roués. His early so melodiously, is merely idealized lust. poems are probably the most disgraceful The pitch of his thought and feeling is legacies of licentious thought, ever be not high. The impression gained from queathed by prurient youth to a half- his works, is most assuredly that of a penitent age. They are exceedingly man variously gifted by nature, adroit, inclever, unprincipled and pernicious. We genious, subtil, versatile, "forgetive"never read any verses, produced by one a most remarkable man, but not a great at the same tender years, so utterly defi- poet. Nothing about his works “ wears cient in moral sense. Their gilded vul- the aspect of eternity." garity is not even redeemed by any depth As a lyrical poet, he has written many of passion. They are the mere children exquisite songs, and no bad ones. His of fancy and sensation, having no law power of expression is always equal to higher than appetite. They constitute the thought or emotion to be expressed. the libertine's text book of pleasant sins, As far as he has conception, he has lanfull of nice morsels of wickedness and guage. His lyrics are numerous and choice tit-bits of dissoluteness. What various, and relatively excellent. But, there is poetical in them, is like the re even here, his strongest ground, he is not flection of a star in a mud puddle, or the great. According to the character and shining of rotten wood in the dark. capacities of a poet, will be the merit of
The taint of this youthful voluptuous- his lyrics. Moore, in all his celebraness infects much of Moore's more tions of patriotism and love, has never matured composition.
His mind never reached the elevation of his great conwholly became emancipated from the temporaries. To be a great lyrist a poet dominion of his senses. His notion of must have great elements of character. Paradise comes from the Koran, not the These Moore does not possess. He has New Testament. His works are pic- written nothing equal to the hest songs torial representations of Epicurianism. and odes of Campbell, though the latter Pathos, passion, sentiment, fancy, wit, has no claim to his versatility and fluency are poured melodiously forth in seem of feeling and fancy. ingly inexhaustible abundance, and glit The fame of THOMAS CAMPBELL will ter along his page as though written ultimately rest on his lyrics. They are down with sunbeams; but they are still grand and stirring compositions, full of more or less referable to sensation, and the living energy of high emotion, and the “trail of the serpent is over them dotted, here and there, with fine flashes all.” He is the most superficial and em- of imagination. They come, too, from pirical of all the prominent poets of his deep sources of feeling and inspiration." day. With all his acknowledged fertili. Campbell possessed a noble nature, but ty of mind, with all his artistical skill its impulses were checked by an incuraand brilliancy, with all his popularity, ble laziness. He “ dawdled” too much he never makes a profound impression over his long compositions. The curse on the soul, and fewever think of calling of his life was a pension of two hundred him a great poet, even in the sense in pounds. The capacity of the man is best which Byron is great. He is the most displayed in those burning lyrics, which magnificent trifler that ever versified. were called forth by the events of his Nothing can be finer than his sarcasm, time. When his soul was roused to its nothing more brilliant than his fancy, utmost, it ever manifested great qualities. nothing more softly voluptuous than His poems, generally, will probably live. his sentiment. But he possesses no depth His descriptions of the gentler passions of imagination, no grandeur of thought, have exquisite tenderness and pathos, no clear vision of purity and holiness. when not injured by over refining in the He has neither loftiness nor comprehen- expression. His condensation is often sion. Those who claim for him a place quite remarkable for its artistical excelamong the immortals, are most generally lence and effectiveness. The bombast, girls who thrumb pianos, and who are strained metaphors, and turgid epithets, conquered by the“ dazzling fence” of his which occasionally disfigure his comporhetoric, and the lightning-like rapidity sitions, were the result of indolence, with which he scatters fancies one upon more than bad taste. We can select lines
and stanzas from his poems, having all cular purpose, and could not be omitted the appearance of inspiration, which without injury to the general effect. must have been produced in a state of Every thing has meaning. Every idea mental apathy. His works, generally, was won in a fair conflict with darkness, are good examples of the distinction be or dissonance, or gloom. The simplicity, tween poetry and eloquence, in not ad the barrenness of ornament, in some of mitting the diffuse magnificence of the his lines, are as much the result of conlatter. Almost all his contemporaries, trivance as his most splendid images. who were deeply stirred by individual With what labor, for instance, with calamities, or who entered into colloquies what attentive watching of consciousness, with the public, would often merge the must the following sianza have been poet in the orator. Byron was more wrought into shape : lavish of his passion than his imagina “ All those sharp fancies, by down-lapsing tion. Had Campbell written “ Childe
thought Harold,” it would have cost him ten years Stream'd onward, lost their edges, and more labor than it did the author, and would not have been half as long.
Rollid on each other, rounded, smooth'd Mr. Griswold informs us, with admir
and brought able gravity, that the writings of ALFRED
Into the gulfs of sleep.” TENNYSON, have sufficient merit, “ to This intense intellectual action is dissecure him a permanent place in the third played in his delineations of nature and or fourth rank of contemporary English individual character, as well as in his poets." This is rather an amusing slip subjective grossings into the refinements of the pen. Tennyson's genius is of too of his own consciousness. In describing marked a nature, to be disposed of with scenery, his microscopic eye and marvel so much nonchalance. Of all the succes- lously delicate ear, are exercised to the sors of Shelley, he possesses the most utmost in detecting the minutest relations sureness of insight. He has a subtle and most evanescent melodies of the oh. mind, of keen, passionless vision. His jects before him, in order that his reprepoetry is characterized by intellectual in- sentation of it, shall include everything tensity, as distinguished from the inten- which is important to its full perception. sity of feeling. He watches his con His pictures of English rural scenery, sciousness with a cautious and minute among the finest in the language, give attention, to fix, and condense, and shape the inner spirit as well as the outward into form, the vague and mystical sha- form of the objects, and represent them, dows of thought and feeling, which glide also, in their relation to the mind which and fit across it. He listens to catch the is gazing on them ; but nothing is sponlowest whisperings of the soul. His taneous: the whole is wrought out elaimagination broods over the spiritual and borately by patient skill. The picture mystical elements of his being, with the in his mind is spread out before his demost concentrated power. His eye rests tecting and dissecting intellect, to be transfirmly on an object, until it changes from ferred to words, only when it can be done film into form. Some of his poems are with the most refined exactness, both as forced into artistical shape, by the most regards color, and form and melody. He patient and painful intellectual processes. takes into calculation the nature of his His utmost strength is employed on those subject, and decides whether it shall be mysterious facts of consciousness, which detinitely expressed in images, or indetiform the staple of the dreams and reveries nitely through tone, or whether both of others. His mind winds through the modes shall be combined. His object is mystical labyrinths of thought and feel- expression, in its true sense ; to reproduce ing, with every power awake, in action, in other minds the imagination or feeling and wrought up to the highest pitch of which lies in his own;
and he adopts the intensity. The most acute analysis is method which seems best calculated to followed, step by step, by a suggestive effect it. He never will trust himself to imagination, which converts refined ab. the impulses of passion, even in describstractions into pictures, or makes them ing passion. All emotion, whether turaudible to the soul through the most bulent or evanescent, is passed through cunning combinations of sound. Every- his intellect, and curiously scanned. To thing that is done is the result of labor. write furiously, would to him appear as There is hardly a stanza in his writings, ridiculous, and as certainly productive of but was introduced to serve some parti- confusion, as to paint furiously, or carve
furiously. We only appreciate his art, into the texture of the style, with the when we consider that many of his finest most admirable felicity. Locksley Hall,” conceptions and most sculptural images, “ Aenone,” “ The May Queen,” “ Ulysoriginally appeared in his consciousness ses,” “ The Lotus Eaters,”
The Lady as formless and mysterious emotions, of Shalott,” “ Marianna,” « Dora,” “ The having seemingly no symbols in nature Two Voices,” “ The Dream of Fair Woor thought
men,” “ The Palace of Art,” all different, If our position is correct, then most all representing a peculiar phase of nature certainly nothing can be more incorrect or character, are still all characterized by than to call any poem of Tennyson's un the cunning workmanship of a master of meaning. Such a charge simply implies expression, giving the most complete a lack in the critic's mind, not in the form to the objects which his keen vision poets. The latter always means some- perceives. The melody of verse, which thing, in everything he writes; and the distinguishes all, ranging from the deepform in which it is embodied is chosen est organ tones to that with the most careful deliberation. It
“Music which gentlier on the spirit lies, seems to us that the purely intellectual Than tired eyelids upon tired eyes," element in Tennyson's poetry, has been overlooked, owing perhaps to the fragility is also of remarkable beauty, and wins of some of his figures and the dreariness and winds its way to the very fountains of outline apparent in others. Many of thought and feeling. think him to be a mere rhapsodist, fertile We extract a few of Tennyson's picin nothing but a kind of melodious em- tures, in illustration of his imaginative piricism. No opinion is more contradict- and artistical power. It will be seen that ed by the fact. Examine his poetry they are illustrations of moods of mind minutely, and the wonderful artistical as well as images of scenery; that they finish becomes evident. There are few all bring with them a host of suggestive authors who will bear the probe of ana. associations, lysis better. The poetry of Tennyson is, moreover,
“For some were hung with arras green
and blue, replete with magnificent pictures, flushed with the finest hues of language, and where with puff’d cheek, the belted hunter
Showing a gaudy summer-morn, speaking to the eye and the mind with
blew the vividness of reality. We not only His wreathed bugle-horn. see the object, but feel the associations trated with imagination ; and the felicity who paced for ever in a glimmering connected with it. His language is pene- One seem'd all dark and red-a tract of sand;
And some one pacing there alone, of his epithets leaves nothing to desire.
land, “Godiva” is perfect, as regards taste and
Lit with a low large moon. the skill evinced in compelling the mind of the reader to sympathize with all the One show'd an iron coast and angry waves, emotions of the piece. Like the general
You seem'd to hear them climb and fall ity of Tennyson's poems, though short, And roar, rock-thwarted, under bellowing it contains elements of interest capable of
caves, being expanded into a much larger space.
Beneath the windy wall. But the poem which probably displays to
“And one, a full-fed river winding slow the best advantage his variety of power, By herds upon an endless plain, is “ The Gardener's Daughter." It is The ragged rims of thunder brooding low, flushed throughout with the most ethereal With shadow streaks of rain." imagination, though the incidents and emotions come home to the common “A still salt pool, lock'd in with bars of heart, and there is little appearance of
sand, elaboration in the style. It is bathed in
Left on the shore-that hears all night
The plunging seas draw backward from beauty-perfect as a whole, and finished
the land in the nicest details with consummate
Their moon-led waters white." art. There is a seeming copiousness of expression with a real condensation; and
“ As in strange lands a traveler walking the most minute threads of thought and
slow, feeling, -so refined as to be overlooked In doubt and great perplexity, in a careless reading, yet all having rela A little before moon-rise hears the low tion to the general effect,
Moan of an unknown sea."