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But when the seasons roll round, and the summer's prime is come again,' the spot is haunted by vague influences, and through
• THE current keeps the dreadful Past
yet the lady walking beside it, is overcome by doubtful recollections, and feels her spirit palpably weighed down.
This poem has been severely attacked as having no termination, and disappointing the reader by exciting expectations which it does not fulfil. Of course a common-place mind thinking of the regular · business' (to use theatrical parlance) in similar cases, does expect the false and fair lady to meet her former lover's ghost, or at least find his body, 'according to the act.' But this invective rests on an entire misconception of the poem. It is . The River,' and describes the river under its different phases at different times. It is not the story of Witchaire and the Lady; they are introduced subordinately, like figures in a landscape.*
• The Woodman's Daughter' is very clever, loo clever in its way. PaTMORE declaims with much truth against the corrupting influence of French literature, but we can imagine cases in which this story of illicit love would do as much mischief as any novel of SanD or SUE. And this brings us to · Lilian,' the poem in this little volume most charac. teristic of its author. In some respects it may be called an imitation of Locksley Hall,' being written like it in long trochaics, and like it the expression of strong personal feeling. We have heard on good authority that 'Cousin Amr’ is no fiction. In PaTMORE's case, no external evidence is wanted. The indignant emotions that will not wait to be thrown into measured form and orderly expression, but pour themselves out in something half prose, half verse, (we wonder that PATMORE did not choose the form of a tale rather than a poem,) speak, too plainly to be mistaken, the writer's condition. Such personality is not always safe. The clown who was TENNYSON's rival has probably lived on in sheer unconsciousness of the poet's denunciation ; but PaTMORE chose a more dangerous subject, and has perhaps even now begun to pay the penalty of his rashness. Had • Winton' any thing to do with the Slasher' in Blackwood? The power of depicting character, to which we have alluded, is well illustrated in this poem. The destroyer Winton, is truly sketched:
• He had learned in well-taught boyhood under quick and watchful eyes,
* His heart placed right by Heaven, was to Heaven once akin,
To this effect however those who knew him best were bliad;
* And lips still most expressive, though deformed with quoting French,
For even when he utter'd common things and clear to sight,
The above lines at the same time illustrate Patmore's strength of expression and his crying sins on the score of metre and poetic diction. But say what you will against the
* This cannot be properly understood without reading the whole poem. Five-sixths of it is descriptive of scenery ; of this the critic cannot give a sketch or synopsis. If he wishes to show what it is he must quote it all. But he is naturally led to sketch the events of the narrative and thus to give them more than their original prominence. VOL. xxv.
It is a
poem on these counts, it bears the marks of genius; and one proof of this is, that it has set all the reviewers, favorable and unfavorable, to discussing the character of Lilian, and talking as to whether she was once the model of purity, which her lover represents her to have been, or from the first disposed to frailty, and only waiting a sufficient temptation. The question affords room for much argument on both sides. On the one hand, our natural and laudable abborrence to attach ideas of impurity to a virgin mind, makes us wish in every case to transfer the guilt to the tempter; on the other, when a woman is found in the habitual perusal of books in which her lover
· Had stopped half way in horror lest his soul should putrefy.** the shock is so great that we find it difficult to imagine purity to have been predicable of her. But without attempting to discuss this particular, we think PaTMORE right in the general principle, viz., that a naturally pure and virtuous mind may be turned into mud' by the insidious application of French romance, The poem concludes with a fine idea, that France, conquered by England in the field, is now endeavoring to conquer her with the pen, by undermining those foundations of morality on which her greatness really rests. melancholy new reading of 'Grecia victa victorem cessit.' Of Sir Hubert, with which the volume concludes, we hardly know what to say,
We can best express our idea of it by calling it the abortion of a noble poem. Utterly unfinished, half of it mere prose, forced into something like rhyme, it still ever and anon show traces of genuine poetry. PaTMORE is still young, little more than twenty. Let him wait ten years as TENNYSON did. If he does, he may become a great poet. If he goes on in his present condition, we dread to say what seems to us his probable termination.
There are several English authors who though they have appeared somewhere in the poetic world have only followed the muses év tapipes. MACAULAY's ballad poetry, fiery and spirit-stirring as it is, has always been subordinate to his rhetoric; Hood's ‘Eugene Aram’and . Song of the Shirt'are splendid exceptions to his prose comicalities; and the versification of “Young England' forms but a small element in its various attempts upon the public mind.
We shall therefore take an opportunity of speaking of these hereafter under a different head, and for the present confine our concluding remarks to a school who have specially devoted themselves to literature; who are indeed so unpractical, that their tragedies, though possessing no inconsiderable dramatic power, fail utterly from ignorance of stage requisites and stage effect. They call themselves syncretics ; why, we will not pretend to explain ; and their leading men are Horne and BROWNING.
Great injustice has been done to Mr. Horne, by no one more so than himself, when he suffered his name to be put at the head of that very trashy volume, The New Spirit of the Age,' His tragedies we have never read, nor has it been our fortune ever to meet with any one who had. His reputation must rest on the epic · Orion.'
*Orion' is a great poem in conception, but in its present state of execution it can scarcely be called a poem at all; it is rather a rich mine of poetic ore, or a depository of half-wrought precious metal. The lines utterly despise the ordinary rules of blank verse, being sometimes redundant by about four syllables; at other times they require the oddest elisions to reduce them to metre, (ARTEMIS as a dissyllable for instance, though there certainly is never any thing quite so bad as PaTMORE's continual “ p'r’aps' for perhaps,) and among this unfinished work we every now and then light upon a line like one of TenNyson's best, combining equal poetry and philosophy : E. G.
• 'Tis always morning somewhere in the world.'
The idea of the poem is truly great. It is really the most successful instance of alle
* This is one of PATMORE's strong lines, as true as forcible. We can find nothing in the language so descriptive of the sensations with which we once threw down, after the third chapter, a volume of PAUL DE Kock, which our indiscreet curiosity had led us to open.
gory with which we are acquainted. The giant Orion is the ideal man, the builder-up' and the improver of his species. His loves for Artemis, Merope and Eos represent the purely intellectual, and the entirely sensuous love, with that third and complete one, which is the just union of the other two. His giant companions are Akinetos, the passive intellect, Biastor, Harpax and Rhexergon, various developments of the spirit of lawlessness and radicalism, and Encolğon. (It should be Encolion by the way.)
* The dull retarder, chainer of the wheel,'
an embodiment of the conservative principle. The chief merit of such an idea lies of course in its development; and the excellence of Orion' is, that the two currents of truth and fable in it never interfere with, but always assist each other, so that the narrative is as interesting as the allegory is instructive. For a neat example of this we would refer to the sack of a Enopion's city, where Biastor is whelmed under Encolyon's statue, and Rhexergon killed by the fall of the temple in which he had collected the rulers and priests to destroy them ; a wholesome warning to all
* Breakers-down of things.'
That our praise of this epic is not exaggerated, we could easily show by numerous extracts, did the limits assigned to a magazine-article like the present permit. As it is, we can only commend Orion' to the favorable regards of our readers; being well convinced that they will confirm the justice of our encomiums.
Robert BROWNING is an odd character; much cleverness dashed with more conceit. His plays are as good as any mere closet plays can be, his shorter poems very lively and spirited, his longer ones quite unintelligible. Sordello,' for instance, beats Sycophron hollow. It is a perpetual riddle throughout. “Paracelsus’ is nearly as bad, but is saved by some glorious lyrics interspersed through it. BROWNING ought clearly to confine himself to fugitive pieces. His Cavalier Ballads are very dashing; in reading them we forget our Puritan prejudices, and wish to be among the jolly loyalists :
His humor is rich and racy. Bluphocks, the English vagabond, might almost be a character in one of the Elizabethan dramatists. As a sample of rollicking fun we know few things better than the following 'Garden Fancy.' 'SIBRANDUS SCHAFNABURGENSIS,' whose pedantry provoked an interment too good for him, was we suppose some schoolman : we have often fancied ourselves disposing in a similar way of a Cambridge mathematical treatise :
Plaguk take all pedants, say I!
He who wrote what I hold in my hand,
Leaving this rubbish to lumber the land;
Printed on paper and bound in leather,
Just when the birds sang all together,
And under these arbutes and laurustine,
From title-page to closing line;
As a curious traveller counts Stonehengo;
And then proceeded to my revenge.
LETTERS FROM NEW-YORK. Second Series. By L. MARIA CHILD.
New-York : C. S. FRANCIS AND COMPANY.
In one volume. pp. 287.
SEVERAL of the letters or articles in this volume bere appear for the first time ; others of them have been published in the different periodicals of the day. No one can read them without being satisfied that they are what they claim to be, an honest record of the writer's views and impressions on subjects which most interested her. "That I see glorious truths in mere fragments,' she remarks, in her brief preface, “I am very conscious ; but frankly and confidingly, as children do, I show you an image of my soul, as reflected in the mirror of its passing thoughts. I have written nothing from sectarian prejudice or partizan zeal.' There are thirty-one • Letters' in the volume, and all on different and very various themes. We must content ourselves with two short extracts; the first is taken from Letter XV., which treats of kindness to animals, and contains, beside a characteristic anecdote of our friend Judge Edmonds, the following amusing story of a fox:
ONE of the most amusing stories I ever heard of animals, was lately told by a sober Quaker from New-Jersey, who said it was related to him by the eye witness, himself a member of the same serious, unembellishing sect. He was one day in the fields, near a stream where several geese were swimming Presently he observed one disappear under the water, with a sudden jerk. While he looked for her to rise again, he saw a fox emerge from the water, and trot off to the woods with the unfortunate goose in his mouth. He chanced to go in a direction where it was easy for the man to watch his movements. He carried his burden to a recess under an overhanging rock. Here he scratched away a mass of dry leaves, scooped a hole, hid his treasure within, and covered it up very carefully. Then off he went to the stream again, entered some distance behind the flock of geese, and floated noiselessly along, with merely the tip of his nose visible above the surface. But this time, he was not so fortunate in his manæuvres. The geese, by some accident, took the alarm, and flew away with loud cackling. The fox finding himself defeated, walked off in a direction opposite to the place where his victim was buried. The man uncovered the hole, put the goose in his basket, replaced the leaves carefully, and stood patiently at a distance, to watch further proceedings. The sly thief was soon seen returning with another fox that he had invited to dine with him. They trotted along right merrily, swinging their tails, snufting the air, and smacking their lips, in anticipation of a rich repast. When they arrived under the rock, Reynard eagerly scratched away the leaves; but lo, his dinner had disappeared! He looked at his companion, and plainly saw by his countenance, that he more than misdoubted whether any goose was ever there, as pretended. He evidently considered his friend's hospitality a sham, and himself insulted. His contemptuous expression was more than the mortified fox could bear. Though conscious of generous intentions, he felt that all assurances to that effect would be regarded as lies. Appearances were certainly very much against him; for his tail slunk between his legs, and he held his head down, looking sideways with a sneaking glance at his disappointed companion. Indignant at what he supposed to be an attempt to get up a character for generosity on false pretences, the offended guest seized his unfortunate host, and cuffed him most unmercifullly. Poor Reynard bore the jnfliction with the utmost patience, and sneaked off, as if conscious that he had received no more than might naturally be expected, under the circumstances.'
From a chapter which contains some eloquent thoughts upon the mountain scenery of New-England, we take the following passage. Its just satire will not escape the attentive reader:
With the remembrance of Mount Holyoke, came the twenty-two spires seen from its summit; and they reminded me of the following paragraph from a Northampton newspaper, which did not seem to me very much like mountain preaching: There is no one thing which helps to establish a man's character and standing in society, more than a steady attendance at church, and a proper regard for the first day of the week. Go to church! If you are a young man, just entering upon business, it will establish your credit. What capitalist would not sooner trust a beginner, who, instead of dissipating his time, his character, and his money, in dissolute company, attended to his business on week-days, and on the Sabbath appeared in the house of God? This recommendation of religion for the sake of bank-stoek, made me think of the interesting newspaper, published by inmates of the Insane Asylum, in Vermont. One of the writers tells the story of an old aunt of bis, who loudly praised a rich man, for building a great brick meeting-house. Heaven prospered him in the undertaking,' said she; he has sold out; the underground part for victualing cellars, the basement story for grocery shops; and after selling the pews, he has nearly fifteen hundred dollars more than the whole cost him, and next week, it is to be dedicated to the Lord.'
Now, we crazy ones think that churches should be built by denevolent and pious individuals, and then unreservedly dedicated to God, and opened to all who have a desire to worship in them. This building your churches like splendid palaces, making the pews the individual property of those who are able to buy them, and turning the button against all who are not owners, drives from those houses the poor, to whom the gospel was first preached freely, and for whose comfort and consolacion it was emphatically sent.'
This is not crazy reasoning, though pointed against a very common manifestation of the spirit of trade among us. No branch of business is more respectable than these profitable investments in the