[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

So sturdy Cromwell push'd broad-shoulder'd on ;
So burly Luther breasted Babylon;
So brawny Cleon bawl'd his Agora down;

And large-limb'd Mahmoud clutch'd a Prophet's crown! “Ay, mark him well! the schemer's subtle eye,

The stage-mime's plastic lip your search defy-
He, like Lysander, never deems it sin
To eke the lion's with the fox's skin;
Vain every mesh this Proteus to enthrall,
He breaks no statute, and he creeps through all ;
First to the mass that valiant truth to tell,
• Rebellion's art is never to rebel,
Elude all danger, but defy all laws,'
He stands himself the Safe Sublime he draws !
In him behold all contrasts which belong
To minds abased, but passions rous'd, by wrong;
The blood all fervor, and the brain all guile,-
The patriot's bluntness, and the bondsman's wile.”

- pp. 36, 37. The drawing of the present premier is still more happily touched.

“ Next cool, and all unconscious of reproach,
Comes the calm • Johnny who upset the coach.'
How formed to lead, if not too proud to please,
His fame would fire you, but his manners freeze.
Like or dislike, he does not care a jot ;
He wants your vote, but your affections not;
Yet human hearts need sun, as well as oats,
So cold a climate plays the deuce with votes.
And while its doctrines ripen day by day,
His frost-nipp'd party pines itself away ; -
From the starved wretch its own loved child we steal
And · Free Trade'chirrups on the lap of Peel !
But see our statesman when the steam is on,
And languid Johnny glows to glorious John!
When Hampden's thought, by Falkland's muses drest,
Lights the pale cheek, and swells the generous breast ;
When the pent heat expands the quickening soul, -
And foremost in the race the wheels of genius roll !”

[ocr errors]


- pp. 38, 39.

It is impossible to do justice to the narrative parts of the poem by means of detached passages. We shall glean a descriptive passage here and there, as a fairer course toward the

author, these being at least complete in themselves. The following verses, conveying the feelings suggested by night in London, are striking.

"The Hours steal on- and o'er the unquiet might
Of the great Babel-reigns, dishallowed, Night!
Not, as o'er Nature's world, She comes, to keep
Beneath the stars her solemn tryst with Sleep,
When move the twin-born Genii side by side,
And steal from earth its demons where they glide;
Lull'd the spent Toil-seal'd Sorrow's heavy eyes,
And dreams restore the dews of Paradise ;

But Night, discrown'd and sever'd from her twin,
No pause for Travail, no repose for Sin,

Vex'd by one chafed rebellion to her sway,

Flits o'er the lamp-lit streets- a phantom-day!"— p. 141. Here are a pair of out-of-doors scenes. The first is contained in a very few lines, but it is natural and touching. Arden has returned to England, and is seeking Mary at her old home.

"Behold her home once more!
Her home! a desert! - still, though rank and wild,
On the rank grass the heedless floweret smiled;
Still by the porch you heard the ungrateful bee,
Still brawled the brooklet's unremembering glee."- p. 92.

The other is an autumnal landscape. But it must be observed that the author never paints directly from nature, but from the reflection of her in his own mind.

"Now Autumn closes on the fading year,

The chill wind moaneth through the woodlands sere;
At morn the mists lie mournful on the hill, -
The hum of summer's populace is still!
Hush'd the rife herbage, mute the choral tree,
The blithe cicala, and the murmuring bee;
The plashing reed, the furrow on the glass
Of the calm wave, as by the bank you pass
Scaring the glistening trout, delight no more;
The god of fields is dead - Pan's lusty reign is o'er!
Solemn and earnest yet to holier eyes

Not void of glory, arch the sober'd skies

[ocr errors]

Above the serious earth! - e'en as the age
When fades the sunlight from the poet's page,
When all Creation is no longer rife,

As Jove's lost creed, with deity and life
And where Apollo hymn'd, where Venus smil'd;
Where laugh'd from every rose the Paphian child ;
Where in each wave the wanton nymph was seen;
Where in each moonbeam shone Endymion's queen ;
Where in each laurel, from the eternal bough
Daphne wreathed chaplets for a dreamy brow;
To the wreck'd thrones of the departed creeds
A solemn Faith, a lonely God succeeds;
And o'er the heathen altars of our youth,
Reigns, 'mid a silence disenchanted, — Truth!"

- pp. 178, 179.

The following night-scene is perhaps the best of its kind in the whole book. The images are all in keeping (a rare thing with our author), and the expression, especially in the verse we have Italicized, condensed and energetic.

[ocr errors]

""Tis night,
a night by fits, now foul, now fair,
As speed the cloud-wracks through the gusty air:
At times the wild blast dies and fair and far,
Through chasms of cloud, looks down the solemn star
Or the majestic moon;
as watchfires mark
Some sleeping War dim-tented in the dark;
Or as, through antique Chaos and the storm
Of Matter, whirl'd and writhing into form
Pale angels peer'd!

"Anon, from brief repose
The winds leap forth, the cloven deeps reclose;
Mass upon mass the hurtling vapors driven,
And one huge blackness walls the earth from heaven!


- p. 189.

As we said above, narrative seems the author's true sphere. His reflections are often commonplace, sometimes puerile, and display more knowledge of society than of man. Often a thought slender in itself is invested with a burly air by means of initial capitals. But when he has a story to tell, he is in his native element. He never flags, his versification becomes bolder and more sustained, the transitions are rapid and fluent, and incident follows incident without confusion and with a culminating interest.

The author of the New Timon might have studied Pope to more purpose than he has done. He is often exceedingly obscure. Brevis esse laborat, obscurus fit. There are pas

sages in the poem which have defied our utmost capacity of penetration. Nor is his use of language always correct. His metaphors are frequently confused, as, for instance, on page 154:

"From the way-side yon drooping flower I bore;
Warm'd at my heart, its root grew to the core."

A new method of reviving wilted plants. As a metrist he has departed widely from his professed original. In this respect he has done wisely, for Pope's measure is quite too uniform for the abrupt changes and varying inflections of a narrative. But too often he weakens a verse by a repetition of trivial monosyllables; as,


Wept tears that seemed to sweet founts to belong."— p. 28. "Thou com'st to slaughter, to depart in joy." — p. 154. Or by a word not strongly or decidedly enough accented; as, "Not even yet the alien blood confessed." p. 128. "Lists the soft lapse of the glad waterfall.”



We object, also, to his mode of using the Alexandrine as too abrupt. The metre should flow into it with a more gradual and easy swell. One of our own countrymen, Dr. Holmes, has a much surer mastery over this trying measure. We think the subject of metre one to be studied deeply by all who undertake to write in verse. We cannot quite agree with old Samuel Daniel, who, in his noble "Defense of Rime," asserts that "whatsoever form of words doth move, delight, and sway the affections of men, in what Scythian sort soever it be disposed or uttered, that is true number, measure, eloquence, and the perfection of speech." No doubt, the effect produced is the chief point; but in truth, the best utterances of the best minds have never been Scythian, coming to us rather "with their garlands and singing-robes about them."

In conclusion, we should say that vivacity, rather than strength, was the characteristic of our author; that rapidity of action, rather than depth or originality, was the leading trait of his mind. In his contempt of Laura-Matildaism, he sometimes carries his notions of manliness to an extreme which would be more offensive, were it not altogether absurd. He says, for example, that

"Even in a love-song man should write for men!"

p. 50.

Imagine the author of the New Timon serenading Lord Stanley, who seems to be an object of his admiration, with “ Sleep, gentleman, sleep!” It follows, as a matter of course, that his female characters (the simplest test of a creative poetic genius) are mere shadows.

If we might hazard a guess, we should name Bulwer as the probable author of this poem. It seems hardly possible that it should be the first production of a young writer. The skilfulness with which the plot is constructed, perfection in which is perhaps the slowest attainment of writers of fiction, seems to argue against such a supposition. Moreover, the characters and general sentiment are very much in Bulwer's manner. The fondness for personifying qualities or passions, and of giving a factitious importance to ordinary conceptions by means of initial capitals, is also one of his strongest peculiarities. The moral of the story, too, is within his range. Had we time, we might confirm our theory by a tolerably strong array of minor corroborations. But we must perforce

. content ourselves with merely throwing out the suggestion. It can hardly be supposed that the authorship of a poem which ran at once through several editions can long remain a secret. The fate of Junius is a warning to all authors not to preserve the anonymous too strictly.


ART. IX. — Views afoot; or Europe seen with Knapsack

and Staff. By J. BAYARD TAYLOR. With a Presace
by N. P. Willis. New York: Wiley & Putnam.
1846. 12mo. pp. 343.

There is something which we like well in the title of this unpretending work; it is straightforward and expressive, suiting well with the character in which the writer presents himself to the world. One of our modern writers, who think it refinement to go as far as possible from the Saxon barbarism of former days, might have described it as views seen when he was being” on foot in Europe ; but with all the evident grace of such forms of speech, which are now in high favor, we cannot help thinking that the plain phrase sounds as well, and conveys the meaning better. We say better, be

« VorigeDoorgaan »