[ocr errors]

did fly

Fame the last spur that the clear spirit doth | guisement. This is the only happiness, and is raise

a rare instance of advantage in the body overTo spurn delights and live laborious days — powering the mind. was the object of his scornful ridicule; We have in this passage a clear index human action of any kind - even of the of Keats's motive when he was in the com. romantic ballads that had stirred the heart paratively active mood of poetical compoof Sir Philip Sidney "like the sound of a sition. To the vivid and powerful imagitrumpet," and of history that had inspired nation which worked within his diseased some of ihe noblest of Shakespeare's frame, "the vast idea," " the end and aim dramas -- was nothing to him compared to of Poesy," of which he speaks in his lines the emotion of an ideal love-scene:

on “Sleep and Poetry," was to escape

from the detested surroundings of actual Hence pageant history! hence gilded cheat ! life icto the ideal world which was ever Swart planet in the wilderness of deeds !

floating before his mind's eye. In his Wide sea that one continuous murmur breeds Along the pebbled shore of memory !

earlier poems he seems to be haunted by

the fear lest he should die before he had Many old routen-timbered boats there be Upon thy vaporous bosom magnified

time to execute his purpose. The diffi. To goodly vessels; many a sail of pride,

culty was to find a form of metrical comAnd golden-keeled is left unlaunched and dry. position adapted to the expression of his But wherefore this? What care though owl conception. Though, in its repugnance

to the actual and the real, his imagination Above the great Athenian admiral's mast? is akin to that of Coleridge, yet the mind What care though striding Alexander past of the latter was of a much more energetic The Indus with his Macedonian numbers ? Though old Ulysses tortured from his slum- which he invented had too much of contin.

and manly order, while the metrical music bers The glutted Cyclops, what care? Juliet lean-uous action to depict adequately the stead. ing

fast and isolated images which Keats's Amid her window flowers — sighing — weaning fancy loved to evoke. Nor could the Tenderly her fancy from its maiden snow younger poet make anything of an ex. Doth more avail than these: the silver flow tended narrative in verse.

As a story, Of Hero's tears, the swoon of Imogen,

Endymion deserves all that its worst Fair Pastorella in the bandit's den,

enemies ever said of it. " Hyperion " Are things to brood on with more ardency

shows a remarkable advance, but it is well Than the death-day of Empires.

that Keats left it a fragment, for it is plain One cause alone can explain and excuse that, with his effeminate notion of Apollo, this unblushingly avowed preference for be could never have invented any kind of the feminine over the masculine motives of action which would have interested the composition, — namely, physical debility. reader in learning how the old Titan Sun. To this indulgence Keats is entitled; and, god was turned out of his kingdom. The yet when we think of the fiery spirit thai poem, in its language, challenges comhas fretted out many a puny' body, it is parison with “ Paradise Lost," where difficult to read without disgust the fol. Milton is confronted with the same diffilowing confession of an apparently con. culty, yet even he, with all his skill in tented materialist :

construction and his noble power of rep This morning I am in a sort of temper indo- against the poverty of human interest and

resenting character, often contends vainly lent and supremely careless; I long after a incident inherent in his subject. stanza or two of Thomson's “ Castle of Indo. lence;” my passions are all asleep, from my

Keats evidently felt that in “Endym. having slumbered till nearly eleven, and weak. ion” he had not reached his "end and ened the animal fibre all over me to a delight- aim of Poesy.” But he was on the right ful sensation about three degrees on this side track. In "Sleep and Poetry” he lets us faintness. If I had teeth of pearl, and the see very plainly, though he is himself breath of lilies, I should call it languor ; but as scarcely conscious of the fact, that the I am, I must call it laziness. In this state of source of his inspiration is sculpture and effeminacy the fibres of the brain are relaxed painting. In looking on a picture by Ti. in common with the rest of the body, and to tian, or on the reliefs on a Grecian urn, such a happy degree, that pleasure has no show his fancy lit on objects which carried him of enticement, and pain no unbearable frown; neither Poetry nor Ambition nor Love have away into a world entirely remote from any alertness of countenance ; as they pass by bis actual circumstances, and we see him me they seem rather like those figures on à in “ Endymion” constantly trying to reGreek urn, two men and a woman, whom no produce, in words, the image of some one but myself could distinguish in their dis. I landscape or figure which he remembers


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]



in painting. These isolated pictures, in- Charmed magic casements opening on the foam deed - every one will recall the descrip. Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn; tion of Adonis asleep, of Cybele drawn in the passage that follows, – by her lions, and the beautiful proces. sional song of the Bacchanals are the Forlorn ! the very word is like a bell only successful parts of the poem. But To toll me back from thee to my sole self ; io his later works he had found his foot and in the lines in “ Lamia," bold, and in “St. Agnes' Eve,” the “Ode Then once again the charmed god began to a Nightingale," the “Ode on a Grecian An oath, and through the serpent's ears it ran, Urn,” and other short poems of the same Warm, tremulous, devout, psalterian. kiod, he shows that he has discovered a group of sculpturesque and picturesque And it is carried to its height in the won. subjects — subjects, that is to say, which derful description immediately connected suggest permanent forms in the midst of with these lines

- a passage in which the constant material change - on which his distinctness of the painting is equalled by imagination can work with perfect happi. its loathliness – depicting the agony of ness and freedom. He has realized his the serpent during her transformation into own ideal. As he says in the last stanza a woman. of the.“ Ode on a Grecian Uro"

These are remarkable achievements, O Attic shape! Fair attitude ! with brede

which only those who are insensible to Of marble men and maidens overwrought

the power of genius are likely to underWith forest branches and the trodden weed;

rate. Both Coleridge and Keats must be Thou, silent form! dost tease us out of regarded as inventors in the art of poetry, thought

and, as we know, Virgil gives inventors of As doth eternity: cold Pastoral !

all kinds a place beside the poets in Ely. When old age shall this generation waste, sium.

Thou shalt remain in midst of other woe Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou

Quique pii vates et Phæbo digna locuti ;

Inventas aut qui vitam excoluere per artes. Beauty is truth, truth beauty". that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

I think it will not be contended that I

have sought grudgingly to deprive the With what skill he had learned to call romantic poets of the honors that are up a picture in all its distinctness of form justly their due. On the other hand, it and color before the imagination, is best would be the mark of a feeble or a servile seen in the opening staozas of “St. Ag. mind to shrink, either in deference to the nes' Eve," and in the uorivalled descrip- authority of genius, or in gratitude for the tion of the painted window in the same boon of novelty, from inquiring whether poem :

those who in this century have discovered A casement high and triple-arched there was, always "spoken things worthy of Phee,

fresh arts of metrical composition, have All garlanded with carven imageries Of fruits, and flowers, and branches of knot- bus." I must go one step farther. I grass,

think that men of impartial judgment will And diamonded with panes of quaint de not deny that whatever results may be vice

achieved by the new methods must be Innumerable of stains and splendid dyes, achieved by the sacrifice of some princi. As are the tiger-moth's deep-damasked ple which lies at the foundation of what wings,

ihe world has agreed to regard as the And in the midst, 'mong thousand heraldries,

highest kinds of poetry. And twilight saints and dim emblazonings, A shielded scutcheon blushed with blood of

Look at Wordsworth's method, for in

stance. There can be no doubt that, by queens and kings.

carefully watching the individual impresIt is, in fact, evident that, just as Cole. sions made on his own mind by objects in ridge, by an instinctive process, learned the external world, it may be possible for how to produce musical effects in language a man of genius and imagination to notice by combinations of metrical sounds, so many subtle beauties which may have Keats came gradually to perceive the anal- escaped general observation, and to record ogy between painting and poetry latent in them in a striking metrical form. But it the picturesque associations of individual is absolutely essential that if he adopt the words. We see the tendency betraying principle of analysis, he should forego the itself early, in his sonnet on Chapman's principle of action; since he cannot form Homer; in its maturity, in the beautiful his conception in the sphere of imagina. lines,

tion pure and simple, nor can be give to LIVING AGE. VOL. LI. 2604


[ocr errors]

his creation that extension and proportion With fruits and flowers from Amalthea's horn, which is indispensable to any great ideal And ladies of th' Hesperides, that seemed whole. Moreover, by basing poetry solely Fairer than feigned of old or fabled since on the analysis of his own impressions, of faery damsels met in forest wide he necessarily deprives the art of its an

By knight of Logres or of Lyones, cient social influence, because, as Scott And all the while harmonious airs were heard

Lancelot, or Pelleas, or Pellenore; justly says, he can have no guarantee that of chiming strings, or charming pipes, and a record of his individual experience will winds have power to arouse in the minds of his Of gentlest gales Arabian odors fanned hearers those universal associations to From their soft wings, and Flora's earliest which the great masters of verse appeal.

smells. Again, a man may follow in the track of Coleridge and Keats, and make it his noble passage was the motive of “Para

But will anybody say that this most chief aim to touch the imagination by dis; dise Regained ” in the sense that the de. covering new associations of metrical sound, or fresh combinations of pictur; the motive of " St. Agnes' Eve"?

sire to produce gorgeous word-colors was esque words. But do not let it be argued that those who devote themselves to this

The nearer poetry approaches to paintpursuit are enlarging the boundaries of ing, the farther must it depart from action, the art, when in fact they are sensibly action suspended in a single moment of

because a picture can only represent an contracting them. Poetry contains in it. self the principles of painting, sculpture,

time. And if you sacrifice action in poetry, and music, but, in its highest forms, it you sacrifice all that makes it the noblest only develops and employs these for ine of the arts, since it alone is able to con representation of some human interest yey to the mind in a rational form an and action. For instance, the passage in idea of the most lofty and energetic pasthe “Penseroso :"

sions that sway the human heart. Of

these Keats knew nothing. With his Oft on a plot of rising ground,

brilliant pictorial fancy, he was able to I hear the far-off curfew sound,

conjure up before his mind's eye all those Over some wide-watered shore,

forms of the pagan world which were, by Swinging slow with sullen roar;

bis own confession, invisible to Words. Or if the air will not permit,

worth ; but, on the other hand, to the acSome still removed place will fit, Where glowing embers through the room

tual strife of men, to the clash and conflict Teach light to counterfeit a gloom,

of opinion, to the moral meaning of the Far from all resort of mirth,

changes in social and political life, he was Save the cricket on the hearth,

blind or insensible. Physical science he Or the bellman's drowsy charm

regarded as the enemy of poetry. " Do To bless the doors from nightly harm. not all charms,” he asks, – Here is the law of association at work

Do not all charms fly in all its power, a number of apparently At the mere touch of cold philosophy? unconnected images being combined, as

There was an awful rainbow once in heaven; in “Christabel,” in a musical metre; but, 'We know her woof, her textures; she is given unlike“ Christabel,” the unity of the poem Philosophy will clip an angel's wings,

In the dull catalogue of common things. lies, not in the music, but in the thought, Conquer all mysteries by rule and line, namely, the description of the features of Empty the haunted air and gnomed mine, melancholy.

Unweave a rainbow, As to painting, there is almost as much highly wrought imagery to be found in a These lines appear to me to contain a simile of Homer or of Ariosto, as in a world of suggestion. They speak with whole poem of Keats, and yet with them equal force, artistically, to enthusiasts the simile is merely a for who, like Wordsworth, contend that the repose in the midst of a swift narrative sphere of poetry is co-extensive with the of ideal action. Is there anything in sphere of nature, and morally in their Keats that can match the following as a pessimism and melancholy) to ihose other picture ?

optimists who hold that the resources of

art are boundless, so long as it is pursued And at a stately sideboard, by the wine That fragrant sinell diffused, in order stood

simply for its own sake. To detach the Tall stripling youths rich-clad, of fairer hue

imagination from its proper sphere, from Than Ganymed or Hylas; distant more the range of associations in which it can Under the trees, now tripped now solemn stood, move with natural freedom, and to plunge Nymphs of Diana's train, and Naiades it into the midst of common actual life, is

[ocr errors]


to confuse the limits that separate compo- of naval officers, their coolness in time of sition in verse from composition in prose; action, their seamanlike qualities, of which while, on the other hand, to struggle to some nations are so justly proud, would get absolutely free from the world of sense be put to a test in a manner altogether and reality in pursuit of mere beauty of different from what has hitherto taken form, involves a relaxation of all the place. The sailor, although brave and perves and fibres of manly thought, the cool in a fair fight, would be in constant growth of affectation, and the consequent dread of being hurled into the air without encouragement of all the emasculating even the chance of striking a blow or influences that produce swift deterioration firing a shot in self-defence. The writer and final decay.

of this, while commanding squadrons WILLIAM JOHN COURTHOPE. manned by men who have not only the

unsurpassed courage of their race, but who have recourse when in danger to the almighty word kismet, and only think of

danger after its arrival - had only his From Blackwood's Magazine.

own humble idea of courage without kis.

met, and thus felt all the anxiety day and [TO THE EDITOR OF BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE. night, for nearly a year, of not knowing at

Sir, — If I presume to endeavor to stem the what moment he might receive the happy tide of public opinion as regards the very great despatch by being blown into the air. efficiency of the fish torpedo as a weapon of The Russians had, very shortly after I maritime warfare, it is not with any confidence i had anchored my squadron in Batoum, in my powers of persuasion, or for the pleasure launched several torpedoes at the ships, of controversy, but because I am perhaps the in spite of my having placed guard-boats only person living who has commanded squad across the entrance of the harbor. One rons or single ships in war, where torpedoes of these torpedoes struck the chain of the were used as offensive weapons. — I am, yours truly,


flag.ship, and went on shore unexploded;

another struck on the armored belt of a DURING the late Turco-Russian war, corvette and exploded, but the blow being Russian torpedo-boats constantly attacked at an angle, it did no material injury. AfTurkish ships. These attacks were made ter this experience, it was absolutely innot only by boats armed with the Pole cumbent on me to take some steps for the and Harvey torpedo, but with the newest safety of the vessels under my command. type of the Whitehead torpedo then in. The means in my power for torpedo devented. They were commanded by as fence were unfortunately very limited, but active and gallant a set of men as ever that very fact enabled me to prove that stepped a ship's deck, and who made necessity is the mother of invention. For every possible effort to destroy Turkish example, the system which I had seen ironclads, every one of which returned adopted with regard to hostile fleets in safely to Constantinople after the war. torpedo defence, comprised a system of The only loss to the Turkish squadron éclairage which it was entirely out of my was two small wooden gunboats blown up power to employ. Thus, instead of lightin the Danube through the carelessness ing my ships, whereby I should have be. of their commanders.

come a target for the enemy, I, from force I venture to maintain that the power of of circumstances, was obliged to maintain the torpedo, as a weapon of offence as what was in reality the far better system well as of defence, is enormously exag- of utter darkness from sunset to daylight. gerated. Were it not so, one might al. But of this hereafter. most say that naval warfare would soon I will now relate in detail the plan I come to an end altogether, inasmuch as applied as a defence in regard to the difdo feet or ship could resist such a deadly ferent points mentioned above — namely, weapon. Blockade of an enemy's port the course to be adopted for the safety of could not be maintained. Vessels could ships of war while blockading an enemy's never lie at anchor 'near an enemy's coast. port, while lying at anchor near an eneFleets could not cruise in the neighbor- my's coast, or while cruising in the neigh. hood of hostile ships carrying torpedo. borhood of hostile ships blockading. I boats. Ports defended by torpedoes could think that the ships should be always, not be attacked, harbors and estuaries when convenient, under way, and with could not be approached; and, in fact, their torpedo.nets out, constantly changnone of the old systems of naval warfare ing their positions so as not to be easily could be put into execution. The courage I found by the enemy's torpedo-boats: no


lights whatever should be shown. Should | an English naval officer of the highest it be necessary to anchor, I think that the rank and position informed me that he had ships should be anchored in small detach- tried defence in torpedo warfare, he bimments, and a system of defence arranged self being on board the defending ship, as follows, placed round each ship or de and that he found that the torpedo-boats tachment.

so easily discovered his vessel in the Boats at a distance of four or five hun- darkest nights, that, had it been real war. dred yards will be placed round the squad. fare, she would have been sunk or de. ron at anchor. These boats will be con- stroyed. nected together by wire ropes immersed Now if a man tries to find a thing in the about two feet in the water, and buoyed dark in his own bedroom, he can easily in the centre. The object of this is to find it; but if he goes into another man's catch the screw of any attacking torpedo- bedroom, it will puzzle him vastly to put boat. It has been proved that common his hand upon what he wants. I make rope, used for want of anything better, this comparison because I imagine that has effectually checked the career and the attackiny torpedo-boats referred to capsized an attacking torpedo-boat in her by this gallant officer came from the im. attempt to destroy a Turkish ship in the mediate neighborhood, and knew pretty Black Sea during the last war; and I well where the object of their attack was know that most satisfactory experiments lying - knew the bearings and distance with the wire rope have been made else before they started to attack her, and thus where. The result of these experiments had very little difficulty in finding their was, that a torpedo-boat, steaming nine. way. The attack by the Russian ships teen miles an hour, has capsized while on the Turkish squadrons was generally dashing full speed on to an imaginary en. made from vessels coming from ports emy's ship.

two to three hundred miles off, and which, It seems to me that this system, care-on a pitch-dark night, had to find a harbor fully applied, would prove a most efficient where there were no marks or lights of and thorough defence against torpedo at any description. Nothing could be seen tack. I am aware that the present tor. beyond the dark outline of the high moun. pedoes are fitted with screws so sharply tains behind the harbor, which were next edged that they would cut through any to useless as a guide to the anchorage. rope placed to stop them. With the Moreover, we had a plan of defence at wire rope this would be impossible. This Batoum of a most original nature, proving system of defence would apply to single again that necessity is the mother of ships at anchor in the same way as it invention. would apply to a squadron or to a detach- The little port of Batoum and its town ment, and I see no reason why a large num- were kept, as I have stated, in perfect ber of ships should not be protected in a darkness. The severest penalties were to similar way – the only question being, be incurred by those who showed a light that the radius would have to be increased anywhere, and on several occasions inaccording to the number of ships, which fractions of that rule were punished with might prove, if overdone, inconvenient, if great severity. On one occasion not impossible. Objections might be caught an old rascal showing a light from made that in bad weather boats could not the window of a house prominently placed keep their positions. I have had ample near the sea.

The man

was instantly proof that in bad weather torpedo-boats seized and bastinadoed. After this, and cannot fire with any accuracy. It there when one or two other examples had fore tells both ways.

been made, one might have imagined BaNow as to lying at anchor pear an ene. toum a city of the dead during the night. my's coast. In this also I have had con. From a spit of land we improvised a siderable experience while at Batoum and breakwater, consisting of such trees and its neighborhood, where I had frequently spars as we could lay our hands on. under my command twelve or fourteen These trees and spars were anchored in ships, against which the Russians con- a line verging towards the beach at a stantly organized torpedo attacks. All point. To these trees we nailed numbers their attacks were unsuccessful, for the of thin planks abreast straight down into following reasons: in the first place, as a the water - so making, as it were, a wall most gallant Russian officer informed me of planks about twelve feet deep. The after the war, it was very difficult to find proof of their efficacy was shown one Batoum at all. I will diverge for a mo. morning by our finding a hole in the ment from my point in order to state that I planks, and a torpedo diverged from its



« VorigeDoorgaan »