My Dear Sir, I accede to your request, and instead of the fragmentary “Sylvæ," venture these more continuous revelations on the public. As a mere work of literature I know not what rank they ought to claim. That “there are a hundred faults in this thing," is I fear but too flattering a calculation ; that “ a hundred things might be written to prove them beauties,” includes task which, I believe, would surpass the ingenuity of the most accomplished critical advocate. But I conceive that you accept it— I confess that I offer it-on very different grounds from any purcly poetical merit. The tale of the youthful Julian contains much which if not itself profoundly thought, may well be the cause of profound thought in others: and as such, solely as such, I present to you the product of some not unpleasing hours in two of the earliest summers of its author's years.

How far the substance of these incidents and reflections owed existence to direct observation and personal experience, it is, I presume, unnecessary that the public should be informed. The public are only concerned to determine whether the reflections are solid, and whether they arise with the propriety of natural connexion from the facts related.

The charge of abstracted egotism is often preferred against verse of this kind. I confess that I consider it too obvious a misconception to require notice. Julian is an individual : Julian, the boyish visionary, is one of a thousand, of ten thousand. But there is a charge which in an age, covetous of novel excitement and inventive singularity, becomes a serious one. It may be said that the world is weary of such depictions ; that we have had them in every form, from the meditative Ennuyé of Lord Byron's muse to the inspired packman on whom his great rival has conferred immortality. Those who are offended with the similarity I can only (with the Athenian dramatist) warn to wait for the developement. My purpose (if I can interpret myself) will be found to differ not only from the misanthropical doctrines of Byron, but from the scarcely less dangerous and delusive philosophy which has been inculcated by a far more exalted and benevolent teacher. The greatest of living poets would instruct us to heal the maladies of life by a species of remedy which is inapplicable to minds but those which do not require it. I believe that there is one remedy alone. To reprove the growth of this illusion (so natural to all noble spirits), the illusion itself must be represented : but it is only represented that it may be ultimately exposed. On such a subject it would be useless to enlarge: a poem which requires explanation is seldom worth explaining. Of course, if I had not conceived that I was here about to renew a strain whose variations had not been wholly exhausted by those who have already essayed to set the thoughts of men to music, I should never have burthened your pages. But it is my firm belief that the cause of Christianity which has given such a depth and height to the visions of poetical philosophy, is of late almost lost in the superior captivations of these diversified and arbitrary creations; and when I have written of the faculty divine, that

even that Power, the loftiest Earth can name,

Is but a ministry to Faith and Hope, I have expressed—what those who are conversant with the sublime but capricious conceptions of the most influential of our present poetical guides, will acknowledge is not entirely superfluous : what those who have not undergone this previous discipline, and matured it by some reflection too, can scarcely expect to understand or estimate. I shall no longer protract this hasty commentary, as I fear that its desultory hints are likely to owe their chief elucidation to the text they were meant to elucidate. June 10th.

W. A. B.




From the dark North, its forests hoar, and lakes
Blue-heaving beneath mists, its sullen hills
Which the sun eyes with cold unwilling glance,
Its calms that are but overwearied storms,-
From the proud children of that rugged clime,
The ceaseless fervor of audacious thought
Inquisitive of truth,* the dauntless heart
Slow to resolve, but eagle-winged to act,
Long since I turned for softer souls and scenes.
I sought the genial noondays of the South
And its empurpled sunsets, for my

Sank in the sinking of its cell of clay,
And craved the mild variety of dreams
Which indolent travel in a lovely land
Can weave.

The brain serenely busy found
In motion intellectual rest of heart.
Thus docile to all natural influxes
Of sight and sound, and in mine inmost mind
Moulding an untaught science out of all,
Pilgrim of Health, I sought thee, Italy !
And there, a freemau of all climes where man
Dwells, did I dwell, aye studying the deep lore
Of human hearts unvaried yet unlike,
The uniformity diverse of souls.
My mind, the mirror of all hues and forms,
Cold, but alas! not cloudless as its type-
Borrowed the colours of the transient hour,
Renounced itself, and was the thing it saw.

But a time came when better teaching gave
A law whose growth was deeper happiness,
When higher musings sanctified the flow
Of daily thought, and led to holier peace.
As sought my lagging steps the viny slopes
Of soft Campania, and the Pæstan wilds :
Wandering alone, yet not uncompanied
By visions wrought from all that ear and eye
Could glean to swell the treasuries of thought,
And heavenly hopes that fortify content,
Yea, hopes that sublimate content to joy.
The solitary places then were loved,
And dreamy thoughts that wander in the dark,
Still hoping, still deceived, and finding still
Their best loved knowledge in obscurity ;
Conscious in all that darkness, of a power
Prophetic of its own high heritage,
Glory to come, and franchisement divine !

For I had loved the silent ways of life,
A slumberer amid slumberers, vainly calm
In this my cherished choice of passing peace,

As he who sleeps upon a sinking deck, ." A nation not slow and dull, but of a quick, ingenious, and piercing spirit, acute to invent, subtle and sinewy to discourse, not beneath the reach of any point the highest that human capacity can soar to.”---Areopagitica.

Vol. VIII.


Or smooths his pillow while the groaning soil
Heaves with a coming earthquake. I had lived
Observing others, to myself unknown.
And now a stranger amid foreign climes,
Ah, more a stranger in my own mute heart !
Of knowledge thoughtful, thoughtless of the truth,
And losing Wisdom in Philosophy,
I sought and won the sunny-sleeping south,
Where Nature spreads a couch for reverie,
And the sky bends its soft voluptuous blue
To curtain round and canopy men's dreams!
The creature of the time, my spirit passed
Unchanged through changeful moods that Circumstance
Woke into transient life to die again
And merge in mute repose ; even as an harp
Whose strings are smitten into endless formis
Of varying melody, is yet the same,
The one still subject of a thousand wills.
Nay, wil·lest passion in its tempest-course
Rock'd not my spirit to its deepest base ;
Bui, as the winds that sweep the ocean wastes,
Rousing to wrath its upper wilderness,
Stir not the green profound of waters laid
In everlasting stillness far below :-
Such were my frenzies, such my changeless soul!

Oh, could I paint the picture of the heart
With shifting colours and a changeful hand,
Then would I tell ye what I was and felt.
And could I print upon the magic page
Those colours of a tenderer tint, that live
Unaltered in their depth of tenderness,
Serenely still as moonlight landscapes seem,
When shadowy woodlands glimmer on the gaze,
And the dusk waters, murmuring, roll unseen ;-
Then would I speak of one whose life is now
An echo from the cells of memory,-
A vanished vision,-a forgotten strain,-,
A dream to that gross earth that now to him
Is more, far more a dream. Beloved youth!
Beloved of me, yet rather loved of Heaven!
Lone dweller in the Vale of Vision,-mine
It is to weave thy fragmentary lays,
The gathered music of thy soul, in one
Wild harmony. That strain abstruse what ear
Shall hear and understand, but his whose heart
Hath learned himself in man, man in himself?
His whose mature unmutilated thought
Crowds not in one poor page the human soul,-
Knows it hath realmis untold, an amplitude
Of desert wastes—dark pilgrimage of woe!
Of plains suffused with summer's blush of Howers,
Drear depths of pain, heights that intrude on heaven ;
And knowing this, leans anxiously to hear
From those who have trod its lunelier haunts, the tale
Of their strange voyage through the inner world!

Wanderers, and won to union through the power
Of secret sympathies, attempered oft
By shades of unresemblance sweeter still,
We met and parted not in heart or hope.

I came to cherish a decaying life ;
He sat beside the southern wave, to die.
For no bright phantasm of deriding dreams
Mocked his last earthly hours : he knew his time ;
And smiled upon the darkness of a doom
Which, glorificd by his unquenched trust,
Brightened to light celestial. Oft he spoke
of the Great Mystery solved by faith, unsolved
By proud Intelligence : and sagely young,
Unclosed the Book of Life, and taught the Truth.
Oft, too, the faded splendours of his soul
Flashed from their embers; the dead Past awoke,
And Poesy relumed the languid eye.
At such a time,-'twas seldom, for he knew
The glory lad departed from his brow,
I caught the change, and left the impassioned boy
To his throng'd solitude of rushing thoughts.
Then would he gaze upon the waves, and feel
Once more their music in his heart : but most
At night, (the noonday of his soul,) he loved
To yield himself to starry influences,
Instructed in their deep unworded lore
By the heart's true, divine astrology.
But feeble from the lonely strife of mind,

would seek for me, his accents speak,
As once they spoke—'twas while the dying sun
Sunk on its funeral pile of flaming clouds,
Bequeathing earth to rest and holy thought--
“I cannot measure what I feel and hope,

Hopes incomplete, and undeveloped joy.
• Voices that echo from the vast unseen,
" That swell the present with the future world,
And, though no words can give their promise form,
“ Yet come instinct with prophecy from heaven!

Oh! when shall I, knowing as I am known,
“ Receive and hold with no corporeal ear
“ The music of the accordant universe,
“ The central harmony of things ; and see,
" Mine eyes unscaled, the essential beauty sit
“ With wings diffused upon illumined space,
“ Breathing that glow upon the liseless world
" Which here our throbbing bosoms recognise,

(Faint transcript of substantial loveliness !)
" And wildly worship with disturbed delight.
“ Ah! too much worsliip. I was one, my friend,
• Who walked enwreathed in lustrous thoughts ; ay, one
" Who wore that coronal of verse which men

Envy, nor know that like the poisonous wreath
“ Of martyrdom, it burns the brain it binds !"*
He paused : then slowly said—“'twas but the heart,
“ The weak unfaithful heart that stained these gifts.
Blest is the power creative to the man

Who masters it, but ruin to its slave-
“ Wretch tortured by the demon lie evokes !

• The "corona feralis.” In the long and learned treatise of Paschalius, the reader may find an account of this invention, which plays a distinguished part in the Martyrologies.

" But Poesie hath peace for him who reigns
“ The Sovereign of Himself, and knows in her
“ The brightest Angel in the train of Truth.
“ Calm as the primal deep, when still it lay
“ Glittering in circumfuséd light new formed,
" And meek beneath the incumbent Spirit --erę
“ It grew into a world, and while it bcre
" An embryo Universe as yet unborn ;
" Is that all-continent Phantasy, which claims
“ The rightful power to utter from its depths
“ A second world more lovely than the first.

Serenely dominant the Law august “ Of Reason rules it, as that Spirit ruled “ The blind Iinmense, heaving with life to come. “ Yet even that Power, the loftiest Earth can name, " Is but a ministry to Faith and Hope,“ And poor is he who sees on heaven's high throne “ A God of power, nor knows the God of love !" Again he paused, and with a brighter air As one who casts aside a weight of thoughts :-“ To me it needs not now to say what He “ Who giveth all, had given ; the spell is broke,“ And of the tranced rapture, now there lives A something only which makes Truth more bright, And Joy more joyous, and inspirits Hope To rise like that bold bird of Southern climes,* “ That, calmly soaring, slumbers on the wing, “ Rock'd by the winds amid the clouds of heaven!"

Such (the long summer season of the south) Such was the utterance of a heart that wore Around it beams from the invisible Sun, The youthful Dreamer who had ceased to dream. Such was my Juliau's converse. Would ye know The story of the flower that faded thus, Blighted when others but begin to bloom ? That shall ye hear, who musing o'er his tale, Bring to the page more than the page can give. Enough is said. His latest days drew near, And heaven was with him ; dare I say, with one Whose sleepless eyes watched weeping by his couch, Won by his teaching from a deeper sleep. Worn victim of supprest and silent pain He caine, as hath been said, to make his grave Beneath the vigil of Ausonian stars ; As though he sought the nearest flight to heaven From earth's least earthly clime. His wearied soul Fled bird-like, (hovering on a broken wing,) To depth of ancient groves, those haunted shades That fringe the waves of soft Parthenope, Baiæ, and green Pausilypus. Around He saw the ruined emblems of the past The future needed none within his breast, For Faith lived there, triumphant over Time. With few he spoke-yet all revered who saw The seal of sadness on so young a brow ; Aud oft the peasants paused, amid their toil, To greet the silent stranger as he came, With mute obeisance. Most of all it woke

* The Albatross is said to repose in the clouds.

« VorigeDoorgaan »