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A huge and massy pile-
They entered there a large and lofty dome,
As gazing round,
Thy power hath rendered vain. Lo! I am here,
How beautiful is night!
A dewy freshness fills the silent air;
No tear relieved the burden of her heart;
In the second edition of the poem, published in
He gave, He takes away!
The Lord our God is good!'
The metre of 'Thalaba,' as may be seen from this specimen, has great power, as well as harmony, in skilful hands. It is in accordance with the subject of the poem, and is, as the author himself remarks, the Arabesque ornament of an Arabian tale.' Southey had now cast off his revolutionary opinions, and his future writings were all marked by a somewhat intolerant attachment to church and state. He established himself on the banks of the river Greta, near Keswick, subsisting by his pen, and a pension which he had received from government. In 1804 he published a volume of Metrical Tales, and in 1805 Madoc, an epic poem, founded on a Welsh story, but inferior to its predecessors. In 1810 appeared his greatest poetical work, The Curse of Kehama, a poem of the same class and structure as Thalaba,' but in rhyme. With characteristic egotism, Mr Southey prefixed to 'The Curse of Kehama' a declaration, that he would not change a syì
Pedants shall not tie my strains
Kehama is a Hindoo rajah, who, like Dr Faustus, obtains and sports with supernatural power. His adventures are sufficiently startling, and afford room for the author's striking amplitude of description. The story is founded,' says Sir Walter Scott, *upon the Hindoo mythology, the most gigantic, cumbrous, and extravagant system of idolatry to which temples were ever erected. The scene is alternately laid in
A glow, as of a fiery furnace light,
A thing of comfort; and the sight, dismayed,
The world of wo before them opening wide,
There rolls the fiery flood,
Girding the realms of Padalon around.
A sea of flame, it seemed to be
Sea without bound;
For neither mortal nor immortal sight Could pierce across through that intensest light.
Besides its wonderful display of imagination and invention, and its vivid scene-painting, the Curse of Kehama' possesses the recommendation of being in manners, sentiments, scenery, and costume, distinctively and exclusively Hindoo. Its author was too diligent a student to omit whatever was characteristic in the landscape or the people. Passing over his prose works, we next find Mr Southey appear in a native poetical dress in blank verse. In 1814 he published Roderick, the Last of the Goths, a noble and pathetic poem, though liable also to the charge of redundant description. The style of the versification may be seen from the following account of the grief and confusion of the aged monarch, when he finds his throne occupied by the Moors after his long absence:
The sound, the sight Of turban, girdle, robe, and scimitar, And tawny skins, awoke contending thoughts
Of anger, shame, and anguish in the Goth; The unaccustomed face of human kind
Confused him now-and through the streets he went
castigation, that even his admirers admitted to be not unmerited. The latest of our author's poetical works was a volume of narrative verse, All for Love, and The Pilgrim of Compostella. He continued his ceaseless round of study and composition, writing on all subjects, and filling ream after ream of paper with his lucubrations on morals, philosophy, poetry, and politics. He was offered a baronetcy and a seat in parliament, both of which he prudently declined. His fame and his fortune, he knew, could only be preserved by adhering to his solitary studies; but these were too constant and uninterrupted. The poet forgot one of his own maxims, that frequent change of air is of all things that which most conduces to joyous health and long life.' Paralysis at length laid prostrate his powers. He sank into a state of insensibility, not even recognising those who ministered to his wants; and it was a matter of satisfaction rather than regret, that death at length stept in to shroud this painful spectacle from the eyes of affection as well as from the gaze of vulgar curiosity. He died in his house at Greta on the 21st of March 1843. Mr Southey had, a few years before his death, lost the early partner of his affections, and contracted a second marriage with Miss Caroline Bowles, the poetess. He left, at his death, a sum of about L.12,000 to be divided among his children, and one of the most valuable private libraries in the kingdom. So much had literature, unaided but by prudence and worth, accomplished for its devoted follower! The following inscription for a tablet to the memory of Mr Southey, to be placed in the church of Crosthwaite, near Keswick, is from the pen of the venerable Wordsworth :
'Sacred to the memory of Robert Southey, whose
Few authors have written so much and so well, with so little real popularity, as Mr Southey. Of all his prose works, admirable as they are in purity of style, the Life of Nelson alone is a general favourite. The magnificent creations of his poetry-piled up like clouds at sunset, in the calm serenity of his capacious intellect-have always been duly appreciated by poetical students and critical readers; but by the public at large they are neglected. A late attempt to revive them, by the publication of the whole poetical works in ten uniform and cheap volumes, has only shown that they are unsuited to the taste of the present generation. The reason of this may be found both in the subjects of Southey's poetry,
and in his manner of treating them. His fictions are wild and supernatural, and have no hold on human affections. Gorgeous and sublime as some of his images and descriptions are, they come like shadows, so depart.' They are too remote, too fanciful, and often too learned. The Grecian mythology is graceful and familiar; but Mr Southey's Hindoo superstitions are extravagant and strange. To relish them requires considerable previous reading and research, and this is a task which few will undertake. The dramatic art or power of vivid delineation is also comparatively unknown to Southey, and hence the dialogues in Madoc and Roderick are generally flat and uninteresting. His observation was of books, not nature. Some affectations of style and expression also marred the effect of his conceptions, and the stately and copious flow of his versification, unrelieved by bursts of passion or eloquent sentiment, sometimes becomes heavy and monotonous in its uniform smoothness and dignity.
WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR.
This gentleman, the representative of an ancient family, was born at Ipsley Court, Warwickshire, on He was educated at the 30th of January 1775. Rugby school, whence he was transferred to Trinity college, Oxford. His first publication was a small volume of poems, dated as far back as 1793. The poet was intended for the army, but, like Southey, he imbibed republican sentiments, and for that cause father then offered him an allowance of £400 per declined engaging in the profession of arms. His annum, on condition that he should study the law, with this alternative, if he refused, that his income should be restricted to one-third of the sum. The i independent poet preferred the smaller income with literature as his companion. On succeeding to the family estate, Mr Landor sold it off, and purchased two others in Monmouthshire, where it is said he expended nearly £70,000 in improvements. The ill conduct of some of his tenants mortified and exasperated the sensitive land-owner to such a degree, that he pulled down a fine house which he had erected, and left the country for Italy, where he has chiefly resided since the year 1815. Mr Landor's works consist of Gebir, a poem; dramas entitled Andrea of Hungary, Giovanni of Naples, Fra Rupert, Pericles and Aspasia, &c. His principal prose work is a series of Imaginary Conversations of Literary Men and Statesmen, three volumes of which were published in 1824, and three more in 1836. In
Gebir' there is a fine passage, amplified by Mr Wordsworth in his Excursion, which describes the sound which sea-shells seem to make when placed close to the ear:
tive and intellectual character. An English scene received, he never stops to consider how far his
own professed opinions may be consistent with
The work before us,' says he, is an edifying example of the spirit of literary Jacobinism-flying at all game, running a-muck at all opinions, and at continual cross-purposes with its own. This spirit admits neither of equal nor superior, follower nor precursor: "it travels in a road so narrow, where but one goes abreast." It claims a monopoly of sense, wit, and wisdom. To agree with it is an impertinence; to differ from it a crime. It tramples on old prejudices; it is jealous of new pretensions. It seizes with avidity on all that is startling or obnoxious in opinions, and when they are countenanced by any one else, discards them as no longer fit for its use. Thus persons of this temper affect atheism by way of distinction; and if they can succeed in bringing it into fashion, become orthodox again, in order not to be with the vulgar. Their creed is at the mercy of every one who assents to, or who contradicts it. All their ambition, all their endeavour is, to seem wiser than the whole world besides. They hate whatever falls short of, whatever goes beyond, their favourite theories. In the one case, they hurry on before to get the start of you; in the other, they suddenly turn back to hinder you, and defeat themselves. An inordinate, restless, incorrigible self-love, is the key to all their actions and opinions, extravagances and meannesses, servility and arrogance. Whatever soothes and pampers this, they applaud; whatever wounds or interferes with it, they utterly and vindictively abhor. A general is with them a hero if he is unsuccessful or a traitor; if he is a conqueror in the cause of liberty, or a martyr to it, he is a poltroon. Whatever is doubtful, remote, visionary in philosophy, or wild and dangerous in politics, they fasten upon eagerly, "recommending and insisting on nothing less;" reduce the one to demonstration, the other to practice, and they turn their backs upon their own most darling schemes, and leave them in the lurch immediately.' When the reader learns that Mr Landor justifies Tiberius and
We quote one more chaste and graceful fancy, en- Nero, speaks of Pitt as a poor creature, and Fox as
a charlatan, declares Alfieri to have been the great-
Clifton, in vain thy varied scenes invite-
To watch pale evening brood o'er land and sea,
The Maid's Lament' is a short lyrical flow of picturesque expression and pathos, resembling the more recent effusions of Barry Cornwall: :I loved him not; and yet, now he is gone,
I feel I am alone.
I checked him while he spoke; yet could he speak,
For reasons not to love him once I sought,
And wearied all my thought
To vex myself and him: I now would give
He hid his face amid the shades of death!
I waste for him my breath
Who wasted his for me; but mine returns,
With stifling heat, heaving it up in sleep,
And waking me to weep
Tears that had melted his soft heart: for years
'Merciful God!' such was his latest prayer,
These may she never share!'
Quieter is his breath, his breast more cold
Than daisies in the mould,
Pray for him, gentle souls, whoe'er ye be,
And oh! pray, too, for me!
In Clementina's artless mien
Lucilla asks me what I see, And are the roses of sixteen Enough for me?
Lucilla asks if that be all,
Have I not culled as sweet before!
Ah yes, Lucilla! and their fall
I still deplore.
I now behold another scene,
Where pleasure beams with heaven's own light,
Faith, on whose breast the loves repose,
Mr Landor will be remembered rather as a prose writer than as a poet, and yet his writings of that kind are marked by singular and great blemishes. A moody egotistic nature, ill at ease with the common things of life, has flourished up in his case inte a most portentous crop of crotchets and prejudices, which, regardless of the reprobation of his fellowmen, he issues forth in prodigious confusion, often in language offensive in the last degree to good taste. Eager to contradict whatever is generally
Chesterfield. It is true, my lord, we have not always been of the same opinion, or, to use a better, truer, and more significant expression, of the same side in politics; yet I never heard a sentence from your lordship which I did not listen to with deep attention. I understand that you have written some pieces of admonition and advice to a young relative; they are mentioned as being truly excellent; I wish I could have profited by them when I was composing mine on a similar occasion.
Chatham. My lord, you certainly would not have done it, even supposing they contained, which I am far from believing, any topics that could have escaped your penetrating view of manners and morals; for your lordship and I set out diversely from the very threshold. Let us, then, rather hope that what we have written, with an equally good intention, may produce its due effect; which indeed, I am afraid, may be almost as doubtful, if we consider how ineffectual were the cares and exhortations, and even the daily example and high renown, of the most zealous and prudent men on the life and conduct of their children and disciples. Let us, however, hope the best rather than fear the worst, and believe that there never was a right thing done or a wise one spoken in vain, although the fruit of them may not spring up in the place designated or at the time expected.
Chesterfield. Pray, if I am not taking too great a freedom, give me the outline of your plan.
Chatham. Willingly, my lord; but since a greater man than either of us has laid down a more comprehensive one, containing all I could bring forward, would it not be preferable to consult it? I differ in nothing from Locke, unless it be that I would recommend the lighter as well as the graver part of the ancient classics, and the constant practice of imitating them in early youth. This is no change in the system, and no larger an addition than a woodbine to a sacred grove.
Chesterfield. I do not admire Mr Locke.
Chatham. Nor I-he is too simply grand for admiration-I contemplate and revere him. Equally deep and clear, he is both philosophically and grammatically the most elegant of English writers.
Chesterfield. If I expressed by any motion of limb or feature my surprise at this remark, your lordship, I hope, will pardon me a slight and involuntary transgression of my own precept. I must intreat you, before we move a step farther in our inquiry, to inform me whether I am really to consider him in style the most elegant of our prose authors!
Chatham. Your lordship is capable of forming an opinion on this point certainly no less correct than
Chesterfield. Pray assist me. Chatham. Education and grammar are surely the two driest of all subjects on which a conversation can turn; yet if the ground is not promiscuously sown, if what ought to be clear is not covered, if what ought to be covered is not bare, and, above all, if the plants are choice ones, we may spend a few moments on it not unpleasantly. It appears then to me, that elegance in prose composition is mainly this; a just admission of topics and of words; neither too many nor too few of either; enough of sweetness in the sound to induce us to enter and sit still; enough of illustration and reflection to change the posture of our minds when they would tire; and enough of sound matter in the complex to repay us for our attendance. I could perhaps be more logical in my definition and more concise; but am I at all erroneous ?
Chesterfield. I see not that you are. Chatham. My ear is well satisfied with Locke: I find nothing idle or redundant in him. Chesterfield. But in the opinion of you graver men, would not some of his principles lead too far?
Chatham. The danger is, that few will be led by them far enough: most who begin with him stop short, and, pretending to find pebbles in their shoes, throw themselves down upon the ground, and complain of their guide.
Chesterfield. What, then, can be the reason why Plato, so much less intelligible, is so much more quoted and applauded?
Chatham. The difficulties we never try are no difficulties to us. Those who are upon the summit of a
mountain know in some measure its altitude, by comparing it with all objects around; but those who stand at the bottom, and never mounted it, can com pare it with few only, and with those imperfectly. Until a short time ago, I could have conversed more fluently about Plato than I can at present; I had read all the titles to his dialogues, and several scraps of commentary; these I have now forgotten, and am indebted to long attacks of the gout for what I have acquired instead.
Chesterfield. A very severe schoolmaster! I hope he allows a long vacation?
Chatham. Severe he is indeed, and although he sets no example of regularity, he exacts few observances, and teaches many things. Without him I should have had less patience, less learning, less reflection, less leisure; in short, less of everything but of sleep. Chesterfield. Locke, from a deficiency of fancy, is not likely to attract so many listeners as Plato.
Chatham. And yet occasionally his language is both metaphorical and rich in images. In fact, all our great philosophers have also this property in a wonderful degree. Not to speak of the devotional, in whose writings one might expect it, we find it abundantly in Bacon, not sparingly in Hobbes, the next to him in range of inquiry and potency of intellect. And what would you think, my lord, if you discovered in the records of Newton a sentence in the spirit of Shakspeare?
Chesterfield. I should look upon it as upon a wonder, not to say a miracle: Newton, like Barrow, had no feeling or respect for poetry.
Chatham. His words are these: I don't know what I may seem to the world; but as to myself, I seen to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of Truth lay all undis covered before me.'
Chesterfield. Surely Nature, who had given him the volumes of her greater mysteries to unseal; who had bent over him and taken his hand, and taught him to decipher the characters of her sacred language; who had lifted up before him her glorious veil, higher than ever yet for mortal, that she might impress her features and her fondness on his heart, threw it back wholly at these words, and gazed upon him with as much admiration as ever he had gazed upon her.*
EDWIN ATHERSTONE is author of The Last Days of Herculaneum (1821) and The Fall of Nineveh (1828), both poems in blank verse, and remarkable for splendour of diction and copiousness of descrip tion. The first is founded on the well-known destruction of the city of Herculaneum by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius in the first year of the Emperor Titus, or the 79th of the Christian era. Mr Atherstone has followed the account of this awful occur rence given by the younger Pliny in his letters to Tacitus, and has drawn some powerful pictures of the desolating fire and its attendant circumstances.
is none for the best.'
* A very few of Mr Landor's aphorisms and remarks may be added: He says of fame- Fame, they tell you, is sir; but without air there is no life for any; without fame there The happy man,' he says, 'is he who distinguishes the boundary between desire and delight, and stands firmly on the higher ground; he who knows that pleasure is not only not possession, but is often to be lost, and always to be endangered by it.' Of light wit or sarcasm, he observes-Quickness is amongst the least of the mind's properties. I would persuade you that banter, pun, and
quibble are the properties of light men and shallow capa cities; that genuine humour and true wit require a sound and capacious mind, which is always a grave one.'