« VorigeDoorgaan »
magnificence. Had the poet spoken of the Andes as a chain or assemblage of mountains, this image would have been more in keeping.'
Let us see. We are glad that "the last line deserves applause," and we join in the general" ruff." That a mountain, viewed at a distance, may be visible above as well as below the clouds," is a rare observation, that shows the critic is familiar with nature. We cannot say that we see any vague magniloquence" in "Andes, giant of the western star," -but, nevertheless, are pleased to think "that it shall be allowed to pass." "The western star,"-if we mistake not is a poetical image, significant of the "whereabouts" of the giant-somewhat vague, no doubtbut meant to be so for his latitude and longitude are both well known to navigators. The passage is said to "be disfigured by the introduction of too many points of similitude with human grandeur." Andes" is allowed" to be a giant-and to sit on a throne of clouds; but "with meteor standard to the winds unfurl'd" spoils all-and the pensive public thinks of O'Doherty. So did not wethough we have recited the passage to ourselves and others a thousand times —till assured by the reviewer that it "inevitably suggests ideas of military pomp, if not of military office"-and then indeed we beheld the head of the Standard-bearer. Yet may we be permitted to hint, that Andes is not represented by Mr Campbell as the Adjutant. If we mistake not, Milton somewhere speaks of Black Night and her standard. without meaning that she bore a commission in his infernal majesty's service. Andes, though a solitary giant, desired to see and to be seen-o'er and by "half the world." Therefore, he kept occasionally streaming a meteor round his head and shoulders-furnished him by the atmosphere of the Western Star and the poet chooses to call this a meteor standard to the winds unfurl'd" without a thought at the time, we verily believe, of the Irish Ensign. A meteor standard, we cannot, for the life of us think, "accords ill with the mountain's solitary and severe magnificence;" the contrary, 'tis an image that shows him to us superbly arrayed in his regalia, with the elements, his flaming
ministers. In nature he may be "a chain or assemblage of mountains' but if he be, we commend Mr Campbell for keeping his thumb on that circunistance; nor do we distinctly see, with the critic, how the "image would have been more in keeping with a chain"-or even with an assemblage"-for if he will have it that the mountains were all drawn up like an army, then Andes, who carried the colours, had no right to sit upon a throne, but ought to have been with his own regiment.
The reviewer, reverting to his remarks on the passage about the homesick sailor, goes on to say,
"The same may be said, with still greater justice, of the descriptions which immediately follow. The ardent expectations of a youth of genius were to be represented. Hope descends in the form of an angel, and after waving her golden wand,' proclaims the various glories that await on the successful prosecution of science, philosophy, or the muse. There is here much skilful verse, but is there one glow of honest enthusiasm? That Hope should have been personified, and made the speaker on the occasion, is an inauspicious commencement; but was Mr Campbell's imagination so inextricably involved in the mythology of Greece, that he could not put into her mouth an address to the young poetical aspirant somewhat nearer to our feeling than such as this?
Turn, child of Heaven, thy rapturelighten'd eye
To Wisdom's walks, the sacred Nine are nigh:
Hark! from bright spires that gild the Delphian height,
From streams that wander in eternal light, Ranged on their hill, daughters swell
"When Venus, throned in clouds of rosy hue,
With Franklin grasp the lightning's fiery Flings from her golden urn the vesper dew, wing, And bids fond man her glimmering noon
"Bright as the pillar rose at Heaven's
When Israel march'd along the desert land,
Blazed through the night on lonely wilds afar,
And told the path-a never-setting star :
Can you now admit, with the critic, "That in this catalogue there is not one circumstance which could be selected as a manifest violation of probability; and yet the reader feels throughout that it is a collection of topics gathered from remote sources, not the result of a strong realization in the poet's mind?" Can you now tolerate his insulting interrogatory"There is here much skilful verse, but is there one glow of honest enthusiasm ?" It is" instinct with spirit." Why should Campbell alone, of all our poets, be blamed for personifying Hope? It surprises and grieves us to hear a Quarterly Reviewer ask, "Was Mr Campbell's imagination so inextricably involved in the mythology of Greece, that he could not put into her mouth an address to the young poetical aspirant somewhat nearer to our feelings than such as this?" Are "Wisdom's walks," the "sacred Nine," the "Delphian height," "Harmonia's daughters," the "Loxian murmurs," "Pythia's awful organ," all remote from his feelings from those of all the young poetical aspirants now musing by the Isis and the Cam? Then, we need say nothing of the unfairness of selecting eight lines from eighty, to prove that Mr Campbell's imagination was SO inextricably involved in the mythology of Greece." They who, like the Quarterly Reviewer, care nothing about the mythology of Greece, may behold in that splendid passage, as it now moves before them in "long resounding march and energy divine," crowds of glorious images awakening thoughts and sentiments most ennobling to humanity- and most auspiciously " flowing from the lips of Hope, as she stands “on yon proud height,” hand in hand with Genius," the child of Heaven!"
"The next theme is the Hope of a poor but reputable couple, who trust that their rising offspring will one day relieve their anxieties and administer to their wants. Who does not wish
That when his eye grows dim, his tresses grey,
These busy hands a lovelier cot shall build,
And deck with fairer flowers his little field,
And call from Heaven propitious dews to breathe
Arcadian beauty on the barren heath.'
So far the Reviewer; but the whole passage is short, so let us quote the whole.
"Propitious Power! when rankling cares annoy
The sacred home of Hymenean joy;
Oh! there, prophetic HOPE! thy smile bestow,
And chase the pangs that worth should never know
There, as the parent deals his scanty store To friendless babes, and weeps to give no
Tell, that his manly race shall yet assuage Their father's wrongs, and shield his latter age.
What though for him no Hybla sweets distil,
Nor bloomy vines wave purple on the hill; Tell, that when silent years have pass'd
That when his eye grows dim, his tresses
These busy hands a lovelier cot shall build, And deck with fairer flowers his little field, And call from Heaven propitious dews to breathe
Arcadian beauty on the barren heath; Tell, that while Love's spontaneous smile endears
The days of peace, the sabbath of his years, Health shall prolong to many a festive hour The social pleasures of his humble bower."
What care you now for the critic's sneer? "A poor but reputable couple!" They were so-but "something more ;" and as the Husband and Father was "a scholar and a gentleman," and a dear friend of Mr Campbell's, , it was natural and proper, and graceful, and not a little affecting, for the Poet to represent Hope as
breathing encouragement into the sufferer's heart in language with which he had been familiar from boy. hood, and which continued to be spoken to him by some of the bestbeloved books in the little library which his wife would not suffer him to sell even though the quartern loaf was at eighteenpence, and the scrag of mutton in proportion.
Please to observe, that there is no troubled passion in the passage-that the young poet is contemplating not a miserable scene-of utter wretchedness -but the "sacred home of Hymenean joy," clouded with care, but not deprived of sunshine. With such a mood, poetical imagery is not unaccordant-and fancy embellishes at her own pleasure the song of hope. "The wedded pair of love and virtue" are not located in any county-on this or that side of the Tweed. What if their dwelling be in a land of vines? "Hybla sweets" is a pardonable prettyism; and pretty isms are often found in the poetry of natural sentiment. As for Arcadian beauty," the word is a lovely one, and legitimate-and nothing forbids the application of it to any sweet spot on the surface of the earth, especially if it has been won from the barren wilderness by the happy labour of contentment.
"The subject most effectively treated in this portion of the poem, is the Hope of the poor maniac for the return of her shipwrecked lover-an expectation perpetually disappointed, and perpetually revived. As the feelings of such an individual come rarely under observation, and must remain with most of us a subject only for the imagination, the departure from truth -if any such there be-is not readily detected, and the topic affords scope for the harmonious numbers and tender generalities of the poet.'
Was ever praise so cautiously and sparingly doled out?" The departure from truth-if any such there be-is not readily detected." Is there or is there not? Answer.
"Hark! the wild maniac sings, to chide
Poor widow'd wretch! 'twas there she wept in vain,
Till memory fled her agonizing brain;— But mercy gave, to charm the sense of woe, Ideal peace, that truth could ne'er bestow; Warm on her heart the joys of fancy beam, And aimless HOPE delights her darkest dream.
Oft when yon moon has climb'd the midnight sky,
And the lone sea-bird wakes its wildest cry,
Piled on the steep, her blazing fagots burn,
To hail the bark that never can return; And still she waits, but scarce forbears to weep
That constant love can linger on the deep."
"The second part of the Pleasures of Hope is chiefly occupied in celebrating the anticipation of an immortal life-a glowing theme, and treated with great power. But here the poet
has sometimes, in his attention to the music of his line, and the vigour of his diction, neglected to secure a sound and accurate basis of thought.
Unfading Hope! when life's last embers
Eternal Hope! when yonder spheres sublime
Peal'd their first notes to sound the march of Time,
Thy joyous youth began-but not to fade.
When all the sister planets have decay'd;
When wrapt in fire the realms of ether glow,
And Heaven's last thunder shakes the world below;
Thou, undismay'd, shalt o'er the ruins smile,
And light thy torch at Nature's funeral pile !'
He who regards the destruction of the world as the era when his future and immortal existence shall commence,
may say with truth and beauty that his hope 'lights its torch at nature's funeral pile,' inasmuch as the prior conflagration of the earth is a necessary condition of his felicity. But the poet is not speaking here of the grounds of a present hope he is celebrating the duration of the sentiment itself and in doing this he has converted the hope of immortality into an immortal hope. The expectation of an eternal life cannot surely be said to survive when that eternal life has itself commenced. The hope of immortality passes away with that terrestrial scene which it cheered and illuminated; it does fade, for it is lost in fruition; and, instead of lighting 'her torch at nature's funeral pile,' Hope might with more accuracy have been represented as throwing her now useless torch upon that pile, to be consumed with the rest of the world to which it belonged."
verse; and "Heaven's last thunder shakes the world below." Hope, undismayed amid the "wrack of matter and the crash of worlds," smiles serenely as Faith. But she is not yet lost in fruition
"For wrapt in fire the realms of ether glow;"
and Hope is Hope, though on the verge of heaven.
Expunged, therefore, be these words" Hope might with more accuracy have been represented as throwing her now useless torch upon that pile, to be consumed with the rest of the world to which it belonged." The refutation of all that the critic has been saying, lies in these his own words-" to be consumed." While there is life there is Hope. Hope is Hope as long as she has a hand to hold a torch—or a torch to be held ;to fling it into the fire would have been the act of- Despair.
A word with John A. Heraud, Esq., author of "The Oration on Coleridge," &c. &c. In a "Lecture on Poetic Genius as a Moral Power," delivered at the "MILTON Institution," occurs this portentous paragraph:
There is something, but very little, in the remark on, "when soul to soul, and dust to dust return"-so let it pass not without due commendation of the critic's acuteness; but we cannot allow to pass the elaborate attempt to demolish the glorious close of the poem. It is a complete failure, as a "We have now to do with the few words will show. The poet has poets who exercise activity. Being, not converted the hope of immor- we have said, must act-in the neuter tality into an immortal hope." The and passive, we have detected its critic has blindly fallen into several eternal operation. But it operates in mistakes-and, in the first place, he Time also, and is diligent in reference has attached to the word "eternal" to sensible ultimates. It is here that a meaning which, in this passage, it the third class of poets are active. does not bear. Hope is rightly said POPE and CAMPBELL and ROGERS are by Campbell to be "eternal," because anxious only for the sensuous formit began with the music of the spheres, the channel of expression in which and continued amid their ruins. All their thoughts shall flow. They prepoetry is full of such passionate exag- fer Act in its lowest spheres to Being gerations-and we could cite a thou- in any. Unconscious of the neuter, sand instances where this very word and despising the passive, they inter"eternal" is applied to transitory pose a set form of speech, and, to do objects at the very moment of their them justice, never dream of publishextinction. Let one suffice: Young, ing themselves for men inspired. If when describing the Last Day, says, they approach the purlieus of the Eternal and the Ideal, they are sure "There, undermined, down rush th' eternal to blunder. Hence Campbell, at the hills!" conclusion of his poem, lights the torch of Hope at nature's funeral pyre-an error of which any theolo gian might have admonished him. False and injurious predicator of a state when Faith shall be lost in sight, and in which Hope can have no part; since Hope requires Time for its condition, and has no place in Eternity! Such poets as these, are the votaries
Further and emphatically—" The expectation of an eternal life cannot surely be said to survive when that eternal life has itself commenced." But it has not commenced-"Nature's funeral pile" is a-blaze, but it is not yet consumed; if it were, Hope could not light her torch in the dead ashes. Time still is-and the material uni