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the poems themselves in their form, ing the pole like two tame bears. conception, and execution, it would But let me read you now some pasbe Miss Seward's criticisms of sages from Miss Seward's “Analysis them. Indeed it is scarcely possible of the Botanic Garden.” “After to believe that such a work as her that landscape of the scene which
Life of Dr Darwin' could have forms the exordium, the Goddess of been written in the present century: Botany descends in gorgeous gaiety." -its stilted style, its unnatural ver- Belton. Gorgeous gaiety !” biage, its pompous solemnity, are so Good heavens ! out of keeping with our modern Mallett. Yes, gorgeous gaiety ; habits of thought, feeling, and ex- and she thus makes her appearpression. Let me read you some passages
“She comes, the Goddess, through the Poetry,” says Miss Seward,
whispering air, “has nothing more sublime than Bright as the morn descends her blush. this, the picture of a town on fire. ing car." “From dome to dome, when flames infu.
“Spring welcomes her with frariate climb,
grance and with song, and to reSweep the long street, invest the tower ceive her commission the four elesublime,
ments attend. They are allegorGild the tall vanes amid the astonished night,
ised as gnomes, water-nymphs, and And reddening heaven returns the san. sylphs, and nymphs of fire. Her guine light;
address to each class and the busiWhile with vast strides and bristling hair ness she allots to them form the four
aloof, Pale Danger glides along the falling roof; cantos of the first part of the poem. And giant Terror howling in amaze,
The ladies of Ignition receive her Moves his dark limbs along the lurid primal attention.' blaze.
Belton. No! You have invented Nymphs ! you first taught the gelid wave
that. to rise, Hurled in resplendent arches to the
Mallett. I could not invent anyskies;
thing half so good. Be patient. In iron cells condensed the airy spring, And imp'd the torrent with unfailing dress commences is of consummate
"The picture with which her adwing; On the fierce flames the streain impetuous
brilliance and grace.
Behold it, falls,
reader, and judge if this praise be And sudden darkness shrouds the shat- too glowing !"
tered walls; Steam, smoke, and dust in blended vol. “Nymphs of primeval fire! your vestal umes roll,
train, And night and silence repossess the pole.' Hung with gold tresses o’er the vast
inane, There! what do you think of Pierced with your silver shafts the throne that ?
of night, Belton. I feel like giant Terror And charmed young nature's opening “ howl in amaze.
eyes with light. Mallett. I was sure you would be Belton. “ Vast inane" indeed ! impressed by this. Think of “imp- Mallett. Listen, and don't intering a torrent with unfailing wing," rupt. « The Darwinian creation and the “ vast strides and bristling which ensues charms us infinitely, hair" of Danger, and the “gelid even while we recollect the simpler waves" of the fire-engine," hurled greatness on the page of Moses, and in resplendent arches to the skies." on its sublime paraphrase in the Think of night and silence repossess- ‘Paradise Lost.' The creation in this
poem is astronomic, and involves Mallett. “She next exhibits her the universe, and as such is of ex- as superintending the subterranean cellence unequalled in its kind, and and external volcanoes. never to be excelled in the grandeur of its conceptions.
“You from deep cauldrons and unmea
sured caves " •Let there be light! proclaimed the al.
Blow flaming airs or pour vitrescent mighty Lord,
waves ; Astonished Chaos heard the potent word;
O'er shining oceans ray volcanic light, Through all his realms the kindling Ether
Or hurl innocuous embers through runs,
the night.'” And the mass starts into a million suns. Earths round each sun with quick ex
Belton. Why innocuous ? plosions burst,
Mallett. Have you any objection And second planets issue from the first; to “innocuous
as a word ? Bend, as they journey with projectile Belton. Does it mean anything?
force, In bright ellipses their reluctant course.
Mallett. Oh, this is “to consider Orbs wheel in orbs, round centres centres too curiously." Why should it roll,
mean anything? But let me go And form, self-balanced, one revolving "The goddess proceeds to re
whole. Onward they move amid their bright mind her handmaids of their employabode,
ments, says they lead their glitterSpace without bound—the bosom of their ing bands around the sinking day, God.'”
and, when the sun retreats, confine And listen to this commentary, in the folds of air his lingering fires “The word of the Creator setting to the cold bosom of earth. into instant and universal blaze the “O'er eve's pale forms diffuse phosignited particles of Chaos till they phoric light, burst into countless suns, is an idea And deck with lambent flames the
shrine of night.'” sublime in the first degree.”
Belton. Sublime indeed ! It is Now mark what Miss Seward says more like the fireworks and the of this. “Surely there cannot be girandola of Castel St Angelo than a more beautiful description of a anything I ever read. What would vernal twilight. The phosphoresDr Darwin of to-day say to all cent quality of the Bolognian stone, this? Here is “ evolution” with a Beccari's prismatic shells, and the vengeance! I think it almost un- harp of Memnon, which is recorded handsome, after the first Dr Dar- to have breathed spontaneous chords win had so satisfactorily arranged when shone upon by the rising sun, creation in a moment, and aston- are all compared to the glimmerished Chaos, that his descendant ings of the horizon. So, also, the should undertake to "evolve" nature luminous insects, the glowworm, the by such tedious processes.
fire-flies of the tropics, the fabulous Mallett. Miss Seward continues ignis fatuus, and the Gymnotus elec-“The subsequent comments of tricus, brought to England from Suthe goddess on the powers of the rinam in South America about the nymphs of fire, introduce pictures year 1783-a fish whose electric of the lightning and the rainbow, power is a provocation mortal to the exterior sky, the twilight, the his enemy. He is compared to meteor, the aurora borealis—of the the Olympian eagle that bears the planets, the comet, and all the lightning in his talons." There ! ethereai blaze of the universe." what do you think of that?
Belton. Comprehensive. Any- Belton. Give me the book. You thing else?
have invented, at least, a part of
it, as you are accustomed to do. to leave Bardolph and go on with I am up to your tricks.
Miss Seward_" we find this beautiMallett. No; on my word, I have ful couplet in the course of the not interpolated a word. See for passage-yourself.
“'You with nice ear on tiptoe strains Belton. I can scarce believe my pervade own eyes. How prettily that bit Dim walks of morn or evening's silent of information is introduced about the Gymnotus electricus brought Belton. “Tiptoe strains" is good. from Surinam in South America Mallett. Good? Miss Seward does about the year 1783 !
not only think it good—she cries Mallett. Shall I go on-or do I out in her enthusiasm, “What an bore you?
exquisite picture !” Í shall now Belton. Pray go on.
only cite one other passage, and Mallett. “The Fourth Canto opens then I will lend you the book to with a sunrise and a rainbow, each read for yourself. And this shall of Homeric excellency. The Muse be the description of a simoom-or of Botany gazes enchanted on the rather of Simoom-for of course he scene, and swells the song of Paphos” is personified : (whatever that may happen to be) “Arrest Simoom amid his waste of sand, is to softer chords. Her poet adds— The poisoned javelin balanced in his
hand; "'Long aisles of oaks returned the silver Fierce on blue streams he rides the tainted sound,
air, And amorous echoes talked along the Points his keen eye and waves his whistling ground.'"
hair; Belton. Beautiful! beautiful !! Rolls in red waves and billowy deserts
While, as he turns, the undulating soil beautiful !!!
boil." “And amorous echoes talked along the “This,” says Miss Seward, “is a ground."
fine picture of the Demon of Pesti“ Amorous echoes”! That is the lence. The speed of his approach finest thing I have heard yet. is marked by the strong current of
Mallett. Restrain your enthusi- air in which he passed, and by the asm. After a short digression, Miss term 'whistling' as applied to his Seward continues : “But to resume, hair.” There, I have done. the botanic goddess and her enu- Belton. “ Points his keen eye, meration of the interesting employ- and waves his whistling hair. ments of the third class of nymphs, Magnificent! It's all very well to their disposal of those bright waters talk about arresting Simoom-with which make Britain irriguous, ver- his keen eye pointed and his whistdant, and fertile.”
ling hair, while billowy deserts are Belton. Irriguous ?
boiling round you; but I distinctly Mallett. Yes, irriguous; and I will, decline to make the attempt. What as Bardolph says, “maintain the à subject for a picture! In fact, word with my sword to be a good what a series of pictures could be soldier-like word, and a word of ex- made from this work ! ceeding good command, by heaven!” Mallett. There is one couplet of Irriguous, “that is when a coun- Paine's—I am sorry that it is the try is, as they say, irriguous, or only one I can bring into definite when a country is being whereby form out of vague mists of my mema' may be thought to be irriguous, ory- which is worthy of a place which is an excellent thing." But with some of these. Such as it is I
give it you. Some tremendous con- tity - numerantur non ponderanvulsion of nature is anticipated by tur. They are out of a long wild him for some purpose, and he closes poem, not destitute of a certain with these lines
straggling untrained talent, though “ And the vast alcove of creation blaze, mixed up with such fustian and Till nature's self the Vandal torch should folly that we used to roar with raise.'
laughter over them. Scene, midBelton. Did you ever read Bar- night — a wild stormy night — a low's Columbiad,' the great epic lover in despair—he goes to the of the American revolution ?
windowMallett. All of it? Gott bewahr! I have read a good deal of it, how
“He raised the lattice, oped the blind,
He looked around, before, behind, ever, in pure amusement, but it has
And when he heard the hinges skreak, all gone out of my memory. But He thought it was his Lena's shriek. there is no foolishness which is not to be found in verse, and there is
For Lena was divinely fair,
But he had swapped her for despair.” no verse so bad that it does not find readers.
Belton. That is a magnificent Belton. Do you remember in our idea—swapping your lady-love for young days a fellow who called despair. And skreak is good toohimself the Lynn bard ?
“Good phrases are Mallett. Perfectly, and he used to surely and ever were very commendwander along the shores of the tolv- able. φλοισβοιος θαλασσης, and wildly ges- Mallett. And yet, after all, laugh ticulate to the winds and the sea, as we may over these absurdities, and wave his whistling hair and there is something melancholy in the point his keen eye, and pour forth thought of the hours, months, and his feelings in verse. One of his
even years, that were spent over these poems, I remember, commenced poems—of the hopes, ambitions, thus
which falsely cheered the authors as “ The moon was rising on the sea, they wrote-of the amount of talent Round as the fruit of orange tree ; and toil wasted upon them that was I wandered forth to meet my dear, destined never to be rewarded. And found her sitting right down here."
Even in the midst of our laughter Belton. And then there was we are almost tempted to weep over remarkable Southern poet, over these abortive efforts for the immorwhose verses we used to “laugh tality of fame. Every jeer of criticonsumedly" in our university days. cism is a deadly stab to hopes that
Mallett. “By cock and pie, sir,” I were sweet almost as life-to ambiremember him well. He was a tre- tions which were pure as they were mendous Pistol, who never would foolish. When this thought comes “aggravate his choler" in verse, over one, criticism seems cruel, and though, I daresay he was a quiet our laugh has a Satanic echo. peaceable gentleman enough at home Belton. Don't get sentimental. and in prose, with a “mellifluous Mallett. Do you remember that voice," and a “sweet and contagi- absurd statue of Moses that stands ous man, i' faith.” A few of his over the fountain at the entrance of verses still stick in my mind, and I the Piazza de' Termini ? think
Belton. Oh yes ! that squat, Belton. Let us have them. broad, fierce-looking figure swaddled
Mallett. They are but few; but in heavy draperies, and so stunted let us not measure quality by quan- that it seems to have no legs.
goes mad ?
Mallett. The same. Well, there Nor doth he in himself know them for is a story connected with that, sad
Till he behold them formed in the apenough to inake one pause before
plause uttering a savage jeer of criticism.
Where they're extended—which, like an The sculptor, whose very name is arch, reverberates fortunately buried in oblivion, was
The voice again, or like a gate of steel young, enthusiastic, ambitious, and Fronting the sun, receives and renders
back self-reliant; and when the commis- His figure and his heat.” sion to make this statue was given to him, he boasted that he would verberates only the cries of scorn,
Mallett. And when that arch remodel a Moses that should entirely eclipse that of Michael Angelo. It what wonder that a sensitive mind was a foolish boast, but he was
Belton. I believe that to most young and ardent, and let us forgive him his boast. Filled with a
authors censure gives more pain noble ambition to excel, he shut than praise does pleasure. The himself up in his studio, and
arrow of fault-finding has a poisonlaboured strenuously and in secret
ous barb that rankles in the wound on his work. At last it was finish- that Voltaire had a rhinoceros epider
it makes. One would have thought ed, and the doors were thrown open mis in such matters—that, scorner to the public. But instead of the full acclaim of Fame which he had and bitter critic as he was himself, expected, he only heard reverberat
he would have accepted criticism on
his own works at least with calming from all sides cries of derision and scorn, and, driven to despera- ness; but Madame de Graffigny says
of him that he “was altogether tion and madness by this cruel shattering
of all his hopes, he rush indifferent to praise, while the least ed to the Tiber and drowned him word from his enemies drove him self.
crazy.” Take again, among many Belton. So much the better, per- Walter Scott.
others who might be mentioned, Sir
He tells us that he haps. We have probably been
made it a rule never to read an saved some very bad statues; and we have more than enough of these attack upon himself; and Captain already.
Hall, quoting this statement, adds : Mallett. Don't sneer at him.
“Praise, he says, gives him no Nothing is so easy as to sneer. I
pleasure, and censure annoys him.” call this only sad, and all the more
I have known several distinguished sad because the artist really had authors in our own day who refused talent and
to read any criticisms, favourable or Absurd in power.
many respects as this statue is, it shows otherwise, of their works; and one vigour and purpose.
It does not
who always fled the country when sin on the side of weakness, but of publishing a book. exaggeration ; and time and study
Mallett. Criticism is not certainly
likewould probably have tamed him down to truth and nature. But
“The bat of Indian brakes, the blow was too sudden, and he fell Whose pinions fan the wound it makes ; beneath it.
And soothing thus the dreamer's pain, Belton. 'Tis as Ulysses says
It sucks the life-blood from his vein." "No man is the lord of anything, attacks on his works, or criticism
You cannot expect any one to relish Though in and of him there be much consisting,
and fault-finding, however just. Sir Till he communicate his parts to others. Walter found probably that censure