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It was the misfortune of Keats, as a poet, to be either extravagantly praised or unmercifully condemned. The former was owing to the generous partialities of friendship, somewhat obtrusively displayed; the latter, in some degree, to resentment of that friendship, connected as it was with party politics and peculiar views of society as well as of poetry. In the one case his faults, and in the other his merits, were entirely overlooked. An interval of more than twenty years should have dispelled these illusions and prejudices. Keats was a true poet: he had the creative fancy, the ideal enthusiasm, and the nervous susceptibility of the poetical temperament. If we consider his extreme youth and delicate health, his solitary and interesting self-instruction, the severity of the attacks made upon him by his hostile and powerful critics, and, above all, the original richness and picturesqueness of his conceptions and imagery, even when they run to waste, he appears to be one of the greatest of the young self-taught poets. Michael Bruce or Henry Kirke White cannot for a moment be compared with him: he is more like the Milton of Lycidas,' or the Spenser of the Tears of the Muses.' What easy, finished, statuesque beauty and classic expression, for example, are displayed in this picture of Saturn and Thea!
[Saturn and Thea.]
Deep in the shady sadness of a vale
Along the margin sand large footmarks went.
It seemed no force could wake him from his place;
playfully and wittily, in his Don Juan, to the death of the young poet :
John Keats, who was killed off by one critique,
Sorrow more beautiful than Beauty's self!
I cannot say, "O wherefore sleepest thou!"
As when, upon a tranced summer night,
The antique grace and solemnity of passages like this must be felt by every reader of poetry. The chief defects of Keats are his want of distinctness and precision, and the carelessness of his style. There would seem to have been even affectation in up images and conceits in such profusion, that they his disregard of order and regularity; and he heaps often form grotesque and absurd combinations, which fatigue the reader. Deep feeling and passion are rarely given to young poets redolent of fancy and warm from the perusal of the ancient authors. The difficulty with which Keats had mastered the classic mythology gave it an undue importance in his mind: a more perfect knowledge would have harmonised its materials, and shown him the beauty of chasteness and simplicity of style-the last but the greatest advantage of classic studies. In poets like Gray, Rogers, and Campbell, we see the ultimate effects of this taste; in Keats we have only the materials, unselected, and often shapeless. His imagination was prolific of forms of beauty and grandeur, but the judgment was wanting to symmetrise and arrange them, assigning to each its due proportion and its proper place. His fragments, however, are the fragments of true genius-rich, original, and various; and Mr Leigh Hunt is right in his opinion, that the poems of Keats, with all their defects, will be the 'sure companions in field and grove' of those who love to escape 'out of the strife of commonplaces into the haven of solitude and imagination.
[The Lady Madeline at her Devotions.] [From the Eve of St Agnes."] Out went the taper as she hurried in; Its little smoke in pallid moonshine died: She closed the door, she panted, all akin To spirits of the air and visions wide: No uttered syllable, or, wo betide!
But to her heart her heart was voluble, Paining with eloquence her balmy side; As though a tongueless nightingale should swell Her throat in vain, and die heart-stifled in her dell.
A casement high and triple-arched there was, All garlanded with carven imageries
Of fruits, and flowers, and bunches of knot-grass, And diamonded with panes of quaint device Innumerable, of stains and splendid dyes,
As are the tiger-moth's deep damasked wings; And in the midst, 'mong thousand heraldries, And twilight saints, and dim emblazonings, A shielded scutcheon blushed with blood of queens and kings.
Full on this casement shone the wintry moon,
She seemed a splendid angel newly drest,
[Hymn to Pan.]
O thou whose mighty palace-roof doth hang
In desolate places, where dank moisture breeds
By all the trembling mazes that she ran,
O thou for whose soul-soothing quiet turtles Passion their voices cooingly 'mong myrtles, What time thou wanderest at eventide Through sunny meadows, that outskirt the side Of thine enmossed realms: 0 thou to whom Broad-leaved fig-trees even now foredoom Their ripened fruitage; yellow-girted bees Their golden honeycombs; our village leas Their fairest blossomed beans and poppied corn; The chuckling linnet its five young unborn, To sing for thee; low creeping strawberries Their summer coolness; pent-up butterflies Their freckled wings; yea, the fresh budding year All its completions-be quickly near, By every wind that nods the mountain pine, O forester divine!
Thou to whom every fawn and satyr flies For willing service; whether to surprise The squatted hare while in half-sleeping fit; Or upward ragged precipices flit To save poor lambkins from the eagle's maw; Or by mysterious enticement draw Bewildered shepherds to their path again; Or to tread breathless round the frothy main,
And gather up all fancifullest shells
O hearkener to the loud-clapping shears,
The many that are come to pay their vows
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun; Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage trees,
To swell the gourd and plump the hazel shells
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes, whoever seeks abroad may find Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind; Or on a half-reaped furrow sound asleep, Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers; And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep Steady thy laden head across a brook; Or by a cider-press with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.
Where are the songs of spring? Ay, where are they! Think not of them, thou hast thy music too, While barred clouds bloom the soft dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue; Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies; And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn; Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft The redbreast whistles from a garden croft, And gathering swallows twitter from the skies.
[On First Looking into Chapman's Homer.] Much have I travelled in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen; Round many western islands have I been Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold. Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne: Yet did I never breathe its pure serene Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold: Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken; Or like stout Cortez, when with eagle eyes
He stared at the Pacific-and all his men Looked at each other with a wild surmiseSilent, upon a peak in Darien.
[The Human Seasons.]
Four seasons fill the measure of the year;
[On England.] Happy is England! I could be content To see no other verdure than its own;
To feel no other breezes than are blown Through its tall woods with high romances blent; Yet do I sometimes feel a languishment
For skies Italian, and an inward groan To sit upon an Alp as on a throne, And half forget what world or worldling meant. Happy is England, sweet her artless daughters; Enough their simple loveliness for me; Enough their whitest arms in silence clinging: Yet do I often warmly burn to see Beauties of deeper glance, and hear their singing, And float with them about their summer waters.
[The poet Keats walked in the Highlands, not with the joyousness, the rapture, of the young Rousseau, but in that hallowed pleasure of the soul which, in its fulness, is akin to pain. The following extract of a poem, not published in his works, proves his intensity of feeling, even to the dread of madness. It was written while on his journey, soon after his pilgrimage to the birthplace of Burns, not for the gaze of the world, but as a record for himself of the temper of his mind at the time. It is a sure index to the more serious traits in his character; but Keats, neither in writing nor in speaking, could affect a sentiment-his gentle spirit knew not how to counter feit.'-New Monthly Magazine, 1822.]
There is a charm in footing slow
There is a pleasure on the heath,
Made known in days of old,
Ay, if a madman could have leave
One hour half idiot he stands
But in the very next he reads
His soul's memorial.
That hill's eternal crown!
Room is there for a prayer,
DR REGINALD HEBER.
DR REGINALD HEBER, bishop of Calcutta, was born April 21, 1783, at Malpas in Cheshire, where his father had a living. In his seventeenth year he was admitted of Brazen-nose college, Oxford, and soon distinguished himself by his classical attainments. In 1802 he obtained the university prize for Latin hexameters, his subject being the Carmen Seculare. Applying himself to English verse, Heber, in 1803, composed his poem of Palestine, which has been considered the best prize poem the university has ever produced. Parts of it were set to music; and it had an extensive sale. Previous to its recitation in the theatre of the university, the young author read it to Sir Walter Scott, then on a visit to Oxford; and Scott observed, that in the verses on Solomon's temple, one striking circumstance had escaped him-namely, that no tools were used in its construction. Reginald retired for a few minutes to the corner of the room, and returned with the beautiful lines
No hammer fell, no ponderous axes rung;
Reft of thy sons, amid thy foes forlorn,
He has also given a striking sketch of the Druses, the hardy mountain race descended from the Crusaders :
Fierce, hardy, proud, in conscious freedom bold,
O, ever thus, by no vain boast dismayed,
Though not for you the pale and sickly slave
admired, and all looked forward to the maturity of While his poem of 'Palestine' was universally a genius so rich in promise, Heber continued his studies with unabated industry. He made considerable progress in mathematics and in the higher classics. In 1805 he took his degree of B. A., and the same year gained the prize for the English elected to a fellowship at All Souls college, and essay; the subject, The Sense of Honour. He was soon after went abroad, travelling over Germany, Russia, and the Crimea. On his return he took his degree of A. M. at Oxford. He appeared again as a poet in 1809, his subject being Europe, or Lines on the Present War. The struggle in Spain formed the predominating theme of Heber's poem. He was now presented to the living of Hodnet; and at the same time he married Amelia, daughter of Dr Shipley, dean of St Asaph. The duties of a parish pastor were discharged by Heber with unostentatious fidelity and application. He also applied his vigorous intellect to the study of divinity, and
His picture of Palestine, in its now fallen and deso- in 1815 preached the Bampton Lecture, the subject late state, is pathetic and beautiful:
selected by him for a course of sermons being the Personality and Office of the Christian Comforter. He was an occasional contributor to the Quarterly Review; and in 1822 he wrote a copious life of Jeremy Taylor, and a review of his writings for a complete edition of Taylor's works. The same year he was elected, by the benchers of Lincoln's Inn, preacher to their society. Here he had chambers in London, an addition of about £600 to his yearly income, and his duty was only preaching thirteen sermons in the year. An office so honourable, from the high character and talents of the electors, and the eminent persons by whom it has been held, is usually considered a stepping-stone to a bishopric. To this honour in its highest formthat of a spiritual peer of the realm-Heber might now have looked forward with confidence; but a
So when, deep sinking in the rosy main,
Yet shines your praise, amid surrounding gloom,
strong sense of duty and desire of Christian usefulness prevented the prospect being realised. It was under such feelings, and contrary to the advice of prudent friends, that he accepted, in 1823, the difficult task of bishop of Calcutta. With his family
Heber's Parish Church.
he arrived safely at his destination on the 10th of October; and no man could have entered on his misthe ensuing year, he was engaged in visiting the sion with a more Christian or apostolic spirit. During several European stations in Bengal and the upper provinces of Hindostan. In January 1825 he made a similar tour to the stations under the Bombay government, consecrating churches at various places. In May 1825 he held his episcopal visitation at Bonbay. During this progress he laid the foundation of two central schools. He also visited the Deccan, Ceylon, and Madras, on his return to Bengal, performing at each station the active duties of his sacred office. His whole energies appear to have been devoted to the propagation of Christianity in the East. In 1826 the bishop made a journey to Travencore, accompanied by the Rev. Mr Doran, of the Church Missionary Society. He preached, confirmed, and visited his Christian communities with his usual affection and ardour. On the 1st of April he arrived at Trichinopoly, and had twice service on the day following. He went the next day, Monday, at six o'clock in the morning, to see the native Christians in the fort, and attend divine service. He then returned to the house of a friend, and went into the bath preparatory to his dressing for breakfast. His servant conceiving he remained too long, entered the room, and found the bishop dead at the bottom of the bath. Medical assistance was applied, but every effort proved ineffectual; death had been caused by apoplexy. The loss of so valuable a public man, equally beloved and venerated, was mourned by all classes, and every honour was paid to his memory. Much might have been anticipated, from the zeal and learning of Heber, in elucidation of the antiquities of India, and the moral and religious improvement of its people, had his valuable life been spared. At the time of his death he was only in his forty-third year-a period too short to have developed those talents and virtues which, as
one of his admirers in India remarked, rendered his course in life, from the moment that he was crowned with academical honours till the day of his death, one track of light, the admiration of Britain and of India. The widow of Dr Heber has published a Memoir of his Life, with selections from his letters; and also a Narrative of his Journey through the Upper Provinces of India from Calcutta to Bombay. In these works the excellent prelate is seen to great advantage, as an acute and lively observer, graphic in his descriptions both of scenery and manners, and everywhere animated with feelings of Christian zeal and benevolence. As a poet, Heber is always elegant, and often striking. His hymns are peculiarly touching and impressive, and musical in versification. The highest honours of the lyre he probably never could have attained; for he is deficient in originality, and is more rhetorical than passionate or imaginative.
Passage of the Red Sea.
For many a coal-black tribe and cany spear,
Mid the light spray their snorting camels stood,
Down, down they pass a steep and slippery dell;
Yet not from Israel fled the friendly light,