« PreviousContinue »
more than fair and just to examine tual friend—“I have often been very my writings argumentatively, but no- foolish,” said her ladyship, “but body has any business to enter the never wicked." At hearing this, a lists with a dagger for my throat, blush stole over the noble bard's face, when the rules of the combat allow and he observed, “I believe her.” him to play with tilts only."
Once, and once only, he betrayed Lord Byron and Mr. scrupu- a slight degree of vanity. He was lously avoided touching upon any speaking of a narrow escape that he · subject in a manner that was likely had lately had in riding through a to be irksome to me, but once or torrent. His mare lost her footing, twice, when their peculiar opinions and there was some danger of her were betrayed in the course of con- being unable
recover herself. versation, I did not choose to lose the “ Not, however,” said he, “ that I opportunity of declaring my own sen- should have been in any personal timents upon the same subjects, as hazard, for it would not be easy to explicitly as the nature of the conver- drown me.” He alluded to his swimsation would admit. Among other ming, in which he certainly surpassed things, I suggested the danger there most men. must be of offending Omniscient Wis- Once also he seemed to think he dom, by arraigning what we could had spoken incautiously, and took not always understand, and expressed pains to correct himself. He was almy belief that the Supreme Being luding to an invitation to dinner that expects humility from us, in the same had been given to him by an English manner as we exact deference from
gentleman in Genoa. “ I did not go, our inferiors in attainments or condi- for I did not wish to make any new tion. Lord Byron and Mr. - I did not feel that I could depart thought otherwise, and the former from a rule I had made, not to dine expressed himself in the celebrated in Genoa.” lines of Milton
This reminds me of an anecdote
related to me by the Countess D--, For such a petty trespass, and not praise the lady of a late governor of Genoa, Rather your dauntless virtue, whom the pain who was anxious to be introduced to Of death denounced, whatever thing death be, Lord Byron. A note was written to Deterred not from achieving what might lead To happier life.”-B. IX. 692-697.
that effect, and the answer explained
in as polite language as the subject I ventured to reply that his Lord
would permit, that he had never comship’s sentiments were not unlike plied with such a wish as that which those expressed in the Virgilian line the Countess did him the honour to
entertain, without having occasion af“ Flectere si nequeo Superos, Acheronta movebo."
terwards to regret it. In spite of this During the whole interview, my ungallant refusal of a personal introeyes were fixed very earnestly upon duction, notes frequently passed bethe countenance of the extraordinary tween the parties, with presents of man before me. I was desirous of books, &c., but they never met. examining every line in his face, and When I took my leave of Lord of judging from the movements of his Byron, he surprised me by saying, lips, eyes, and brow, what might be “ I hope we shall meet again, and passing within his bosom. Perhaps perhaps it will soon be in England.” .
” he was not unaware of this, and de- For though he seemed to have none termined to keep a more steady com- of that prejudice against his native mand over them. A slight colour oc- country that has been laid to his casionally crossed his cheeks ; and charge, yet there was a want of inonce, in particular, when I inadvert- genuousness in throwing out an intiently mentioned the name of a lady, mation of what was not likely to take who was formerly said to take a deep place. Upon the whole, instead of interest in his Lordship, and related avoiding any mention of England, he an anecdote told me of her by a mu- evidently took an interest in what was
Will God incense bis ire
going on at home, and was glad, when beyond the level of ordinary clever the conversation led to the mention men in his remarks or style of conof persons and topics of the day, by versation, and certainly not anything which he could obtain any informa- to justify the strange things that have tion, without directly asking for it. been said of him by many, who, like
Such was my interview with one of the French rhapsodist, would describe the most celebrated characters of the him as half angel and half devil. present age, in which, as is generally
Toi, dont le monde encore ignore le vrai nom, the case, most of my anticipations Esprit mysterieux, mortel, ange, ou demon, were disappointed. There was noth- Qui que tu sois, Byron, bon ou fatal genie; ing eccentric in his manner-nothing
La nuit est ton sejour, l'horreur est ton domain,
COTEMPORARY AUTHORS.--MR. SOUTHEY.
(Extracted from Blackwood's Magazine.)
men of distinguished talents and only man who ever alludes to Southey's industry, who have not attained to the poems. We can suppose youngish praise or the influence of intellectual readers start when they come upon greatness, only because they have been some note of bis in the Quarterly, or so unfortunate as to come too late into in his new books of history, referring the world. Had Southey flourished to “ the Madoc,” or the Joan,” as forty or fifty years ago, and written to something universally known and half as well as he has written in our familiar. As to criticism and politics time, he might have ranked nem. con. of the day, he is but one of the Quarwith the first of modern critics, of terly reviewers, and scarcely one of the modern historians, perhaps even of most influential of them. He puts modern poets. The warmth of his forth essays half antiquarianism, half feelings and the flow of his style would prosing, with now and then a dash of have enabled him to throw all the a sweet enough sort of literary mystiprosers of that day into the shade— cism in them--and more frequently a His extensive erudition would have display of pompous self-complacent won him the veneration of an age in simplicity, enough to call a smile into which erudition was venerable—His the most iron physiognomy that ever imaginative power would have lifted grinned. But these lucubrations prohim like an eagle over the versifiers duce no effect upon the spirit of the who then amused the public with their time. A man would as soon take his feeble echoes of the wit, the sense, and opinions from his grandmother as from the numbers of Pope. He could not the Doctor. The whole thing looks as have been the Man of the Age ; but, if it were made on purpose to be read taking all his manifold excellences and to some antediluvian village club— The qualifications into account, he must fat parson—the solemn leech-the have been most assuredly Somebody, gaping schoolmaster, and three or and a great deal more than some- four simpering Tabbies. There is body.
nothing in common to him and the How different is his actual case! As people of this world. We love hima poet, as an author of imaginative we respect him, we admire his diliworks in general, how small is the gence, his acquisitions, bis excellent space he covers, how little is he talked manner of keeping his note-books—If or thought of! The Established Church he were in orders, and one had an adof Poetry will hear of nobody but vowson to dispose of, one could not but Scott, Byron, Campbell : and the Lake think of him. But good, honest, worMethodists themselves will scarcely per- thy man, only to hear him telling mit him to be called a burning and shin- us his opinion of Napoleon Buonaing light in the same day with their parte !--and then the quotations from Wordsworth--even their Coleridge. Coleridge, Wordsworth, Lamb, Lan
dor, Withers, old Fuller, and all the joke a great deal too far. People do rest of his favourites and the little at last, however good-natured, get weawise-looking maxims, every one of ry of seeing a respectable man walking them as old as the back of Skiddaw, his hobby-horse. and the delicate little gleams of pathos Melancholy to say, the History of —and the little family stories and allu-, the Peninsular War, in spite of an insions and all the little parentheses tensely interesting theme, and copious of exultation-well, we really wonder materials of real value, is little better after all, that the Laureate is not more than another Caucasus of lumber, after popular.
all. If the campaigns of Buonaparte The first time Mr. Southey attempt- were written in the same style, they ed regular historical composition he would make a book in thirty or forty succeeded admirably. His Life of quarto volumes, of 700 pages. He is Nelson is truly a master-piece ;-a overlaying the thing completely-he brief-animated-glowing--straight- is smothering the Duke of Wellington. forward-manly English work, in two The underwood has increased, is involumes duodecimo. That book will creasing, and ought without delay to be read three hundred years hence by be smashed. Do we want to hear the every boy that is nursed on English legendary history of every Catholic ground.--All his bulky historical works saint, who happens to have been buriare, comparatively speaking, failures. ed or worshipped near the scene of His History of Brazil is the most un- some of General Hill's skirmishes ? readable production of our time. Two What, in the devil's name, have we to or three elegant quartos about a do with all these old twelfth century single Portuguese colony! Every lit- miracles and visions, in the midst of a tle colonel, captain, bishop, friar, dis- history of Arthur Duke of Wellington, cussed at as much length as if they and his British army? Does the Docwere so many Cromwells or Loyolas tor mean to write his Grace's Indian -and why ?-just for this one simple campaigns in the same style, and to reason, that Dr. Southey is an excel- make the pin whereon to hang all the lent Portugueze scholar, and has an
wreck and rubbish of his commonexcellent Portugueze library. The place book for Kehama, as he has here whole affair breathes of one sentiment, done with the odds and ends that he and but one.—Behold, O British Pub- could not get stuffed into the notes lic! what a fine thing it is to under- on Roderick and My Cid ? Southey stand this tongue--fall down and should have lived in the days of 2600 worship me! I am a member the page folios, triple columns, and double Lisbon Academy,and yet I was born in indexes-He would then have been Bristol, and am now living at Keswick. set to a corpus of something at once,
This inordinate vanity is an admira- and been happy for life. Never surely ble condiment in a small work, and was such a mistake as for him to make when the subject is really possessed of his appearance in an age of restlessly a strong interest. It makes one read vigorous thought, disdainful originality with more earnestness of attention and of opinion, intolerance for long-windedsympathy. But carried to this height, ness, and scorn of mountains in labour and exhibited in such a book as this, -Glaramara and Penmanmaur among it is utter nonsense. It is carrying the the rest.
Three things give every charm to life,
And every grief controul-
And an untainted soul.
(Lond. Lit. Gaz.) IN
And music from that cage is breathing, N our Review of this exquisite pro
Round which a jasmine braid is wreathing, duction last week, the beauties we
A low song from a lonely dove, had marked out for quotation so far A song such exiles sing and love, overstepped our limits, that we were
Breathing of fresh fields, summer skies reluctantly compelled to abridge our Now to be breathed of but in sighs! extracts even after they were printed. But fairer smile and sweeter sigh Thus the following Moorish Romance Are near when LEILA'S step is nigh! got excluded; and we are sure that With eyes dark as the midnight time,
Yet lighted like a summer clime every reader of taste and admirer of With sun-rays from within ; yet now genius will thank'us for now restoring Lingers a cloud upon that brow, the omission.
Though never lovelier brow was given
To Houri of an Eastern heaven! SOFTLY through the pomegranate groves
Her eye is dwelling on that bower, Came the gentle song of the doves;
As every leaf and every flower Shone the fruit in the evening light,
Were being numbered in her heart ; Like Indian rubies, blood-red and bright;
There are no looks like those which dwell Shook the date-trees each tufted head,
On long remembered things, which soon As the passing wind their green nuts shed ;
Must take our first and last farewell! And, like dark columns amid the sky
Day fades apace ; another day, The giant palms ascended on high;
That maiden will be far away, And the mosque's gilded minaret
A wanderer o'er the dark-blue sea, Glistened and glanced as the daylight set.
And bound for lovely Italy, Over the town a crimson baze
Her mother's land ! Hence, on her breast Gathered and hung of the evening's rays ;
The cross beneath a Moorish vest; And far beyond, like molten gold,
And hence those sweetest sounds, that seem The burning sands of the desert rolled.
Like music murmuring in a dream, Far to the left, the sky and sea
When in our sleeping ear is ringing Mingled their gay immensity;
The song the nightingale is singing ; And with the flapping sail and idle prow
When by that white and funeral stone, The vessels threw their shades below.
Half hidden by the cypress gloom, Far down the beach, where a cypress grove
The hymn the mother taught her child
Is sung each evening at her tomh.
But quick the twilight time has past,
Like one of those sweet calms that last
A moment and no more, to cheer
The turmoil of our pathway here.
The bark is waiting in the bay, To a garden, fair as those
Night darkens round :
-LEILA, away! Where the glory of the rose
Far, ere to-morrow, o'er the tide,
Or wait and be-ABDALLA'S bride!
She touched her lute-never again
Her ear will listen to its strain!
She took her cage, first kissed the breastWith its dim and lovely light,
Then freed the wbite dove prisoned there : And its silence, suiteth well
It paused one moment on her band,
Then spread its glad wings to the air. With the magic tales they tell.
She drank the breath, as it were health, Through that cypress avenue,
That sighed from every scented blossom ; Such a garden meets the view,
And taking from each one a leaf, Filled with flowers-flowers that seem
Hid them, like spells, upon her bosom. Lighted up by the sunbeam; Fruits of gold and gems, and leaves
Then sought the secret path again Green as Hope before it grieves
She once before had traced, when lay O’er the false and broken-hearted,
A Christian in her father's chain ; All with which its youth bas parted,
And gave him gold, and taught the way Never to return again,
To fly. She thought upon the night, Save in memories of pain !
When, like an angel of the light,
She stood before the prisoner's sight, There is a white rose in yon bower,
And led him to the cypress grove, But holds it yet a fairer flower:
Aud showed the bark and hidden cove;
And bade the wandering eaptive flee,
He had braved slavery and death,
Made sweet and sacred by her breath. She reached the grove of cypresses,
Another step is by her side : Another moment, and the bark
Bears the fair Moor across the tide !
'Twas beautiful, by the pale moonlight,
Another evening came, but dark ;
Beat close and closer yet to his !
Beneath that ancient cedar tree,
For years alone beside the sea !
The dark bair of the Moorish maid,
Where tenderly her bead was laid ;
And yet her lover's arm was placed
Were dripping wet with foam and blood ;
Were heavy with the briny flood !
It long had been a sacred spot.
By many who had not forgot;
The Improvisatrice, a poem of about fifteen or sixteen hundred lines, is followed by a number of miscellaneous pieces, which display the great versatility of the author. Two or three only are of a playful kind; for descriptive power, pathos, and imagination, are unquestionably her chief characteristics. And though Love has always been, as the mighty northern minstrel has finely expressed it,
The noblest theme That ever waked the poet's dream; our fair bard has, in several of these minor pieces, shown that nearly an equal degree of tenderness, fancy, and feeling, can be thrown into subjects of a different order. St. George's Hospital, the Deserter, the Covenanters, Gladesmuir, The Soldier's Funeral, The Female Convict, Crescentius, Home, The Soldier's Grave, and others, are forcible and admirable examples : While Rosalie, The Bayadere, The Minstrel of Portugal, The Guerilla Chief, the Legend of the Rhine,&c. are more or less connected with the master passion of the human soul, and with tales founded on its influence. The Bayadere is an Oriental Romance; and we do not detract from Lalla Rookh, when we say it is the only composition in the English language which may bear a close comparison with that popular poem. Rosalie
. is, on the contrary, a domestic story of hapless affection, and full of the most touching passages. We will cite a few brief instances which are the easiest detached. It opens with this hold yet sweet exordium :