« PreviousContinue »
"Sir Fopling Flutter." Sit near Spring Gardens, | There is an epigrammatic force—an inborn sinceturn your back on Carlton Terrace, and you can rity in these brief lines of the author of " Arcadia,” almost imagine that lady of “easy virtue" in your which are worth more to me than the beauty, howvicinity to be Mistress Nelly Gwynne, dressed in the ever ornate, of the melodious lines of the author costume of the nineteenth century. “A mighty of the “ Pleasures of Memory." What say you, stretch of the imaginative powers !” says sceptical fair reader ? Possibly your opinion fluctuates; reader, “ Credat Judæus !” Well, well—I care both poets flatter your sex, and yet both beautinot.
fully speak truth, in language beautiful enough to As I do not pretend to class authors of the same break the heart of any poor old bachelor who has time together, my readers must not be surprised if passed the "grand climacteric” of his life, and I place in juxta position authors who were not who now misses that “sweet doubling ” of it, so exactly contemporaries. I ought, perhaps, to have graphically described by that high-souled gentleman mentioned Sir Philip Sydney in the same page with who, as he lay dying on the gory field of Zutchpen, bis friend Spenser ; but, as I write currente calamo, pushed away the cup of water proffered to his you must not expect precision.
death-parched lips, because at his side there lay & Of the "Arcadia“ of Sir Philip Sydney—“that wounded soldier who, said chivalry personified in honey-bee of quaint conceits," as Hazlitt some- Sydney, “needs it more than I !" where calls him-I can read but only “here a Read the “ Arcadia”-parts thereof—for it may little and there a little,” in an idle hour. There seem heavy as a whole now-a-days—and thank me, are too many flowers—fancy sickens. Nevertheless, who am now babbling of my book-recollections for there are many sweet thoughts, which seem so the recommendation. So shall tby love, gentlest strange when read by us readers of 1857 in the of readers, grow more and more daily for that great, massive, dusty tome that enshrines them. “ branch of honour and of martial sprite,” Sir That book I have lost with the rest. It was a Philip Sydney. dear old moth-eaten volume- -an eleventh edition I know not why the “ melancholy" Cowley, (as of A.D. 1652. But a few lines which I re- he calls himself in the “Complaint,” though the member, and have, I believe, quoted in an early author of the “Anacreontics," which, as Hazlitt chapter, yet ring in my ears. They picture the says, “ breathe the very spirit of love and wine," bliss of matrimony, and I prefer them to the would not seem to have been much troubled with much-praised lines of Rogers on a like subject; such a gloomy passion as melancholy) should be so which lines, in all impartiality, I will thereunder little read in these degenerate days. I grant that subjoin, trusting to your hearty verdict in favour be is too pedantic a poet, and that to some, alas ! of the hero of Zutchpen in preference to the poet- his quaint conceits, beautiful in their fantastic banker of St. James's. Below are the lines of quaintness, may seem strained and vapid; yet is which I speak-and first, in point of time, comes there much good food for the scholar in the
“ Notes to Davideis," and much philosophy in the
“ Verses Written on Several Occasions." I transBelieve me, man, there is no greater blisse, Than is the quiet joye of loving wife,
cribe, for my reader's delectation, two verses from Which whoso wants, half of himself doth misse, the "Hymn to the Light:"Friend without change-playfellow without strife,
First-born of Chaos, who so fair didst come,
From the old Negro's darksome womb,
Which, when it saw the lovely child, Beautiful lines, are they not? But now listen
The melancholy mass put on kind looks and smiled. to the elegant
What more poetical idea of the first dawn of
light on the world could be imagined by any poet ? His house she enters—there to be a light
Again Shining within, when all without is night;
A crimson garment in the rose thou wear'st; A guardian-angel o'er his life presiding,
A crown of stadded gold thou bear'st; Doubling his pleasures, and his cares dividing ;
The virgin lilies in their white Winning him back, when mingling in the throng,
Are clad but with the lawn of almost naked light. Back from a world we love, alas ! too long, To fireside happiness, to hours of ease,
Is there not a richness of poetry in the first Blest with that charm, the certainly to please. line-a fantastic beauty—and withal beauty true How oft her eyes read his; her gentle mind
to nature in the last conceit?
Yet Cowley, To all his wishes, all his thoughts inclined; Still subject-ever on the watch to borrow
says Hazlitt, is "mechanical !” Scholar ! read the Mirth of his mirth, and sorrow of his sorrow.
“ Notes to Davideis," oh! bon vivant, read the The soul of music slumbers in the shell,
“Anacreontics," oh! philosopher, read the fragTill waked and kindled by the master's spell ;
ments, disjecta membra poetæ, at the end of that And feeling hearts-touch them but rightly-pour
sweet book, and ye will severally bless with me A thousand melodies unheard before !
the poet and the printer. Well, reader, and to whom-Rogers or Sydney For general readers the “Miscellaneous Poems," -Will you give the palm ? Recollect, however, and “Several Discourses by way of Essays," will before giving in your award, that Rogers takes possess greater attractions than the more elabosixteen lines to express wbat Sydney paints in six. rate efforts of our poet; the Epicurean content, the
wish to pass “ with velvet step, unlieeded, softly" | lying neglected and dusty on a topshelf, while, through this “working day world ” (as Rosalind perchance, the “Racing Calendar," or the “Sportcalls it)—make us love Cowley as a man, before we ing Magazine," flaunted proudly in the newest admire him as a poet. The art of living well was honours of Russia leather?
And yet we may never better summed up than in the following lines, read, greatly unto edification, the “Characters" of written, be it remembered, by Cowley when a boy Fuller's “Holy and Profane States," and the bioof thirteen -truly, “the child's the father of the graphies appended to each. Learning, wit, strong man."
common sense in quaint guise, are the character, This only grant me, that my means may lie istics of good Thomas Fuller. Reader! take Too low for envy, for contempt too high,
unto thy heart the "Holy and Profane States," Such honour I would have
bound up with the “Holy War.” All will find Not from great deeds but good alone,
Fuller's piety pleasing, but not obtrusively thrust
into every place ; his common sense will be as
wholesome meat, and his witty quaintness as racy Acquaintance I would have—bat when't depends
sauce to the mental palate. A first edition, a Not on the number but the choice of friends. Books should, not business, entertain the light,
good, well-worn copy of Fuller, is more attractive And sleep, as undisturbed as death, the night.
to a bookworm, like myself, than any reprint, My house a cottage more
however artistically executed, could possibly be. Than palace, and should fitting be
What charms would the quaint title-page and For all my use, no luxury.
frontispiece of the “Holy War" possess, if lithoMy garden painted o'er With Nature's hand, not Art's, and pleasures yield
graphed by Haghe and Day ? They (the titleHorace might envy in his Sabine field.
page, etc.,) might be better done, but the magie
charm of moth-eaten age would be lost. You Thus would I double my life's fading space, would, in fact, sublime old beauties in the crucible For he that runs it well twice rous his race,
of modern taste, and the attempt would results And in this true delighi, These unbought sports, that happy state,
after all, like all such efforts, in a dull caput more I would not fear por wish my fate,
tuum, I doubt not. There is something in externals But boldly say each night,
as regards books and reading. If any of my To-morrow let my sun his beams display,
readers doubt the truth of my assertion, let me Or in clouds hide them ; I have lived to-day.
ask them if they would care to read Fuller in a Oh! rare Cowley-surely thou wert a philoso. first floor lodging at a bow-window in Regentpher when in long clothes !-wise above children street! Could there be, in such a case, any moral must thou have been when a boy of thirteen—an union between the “Good Merchant" of Fuller, Epicurus of thirteen summers—thou didst write and the flashy proprietor of the flashy shop over those lines—lines which should be read in a garden the way? such as thou didst love. Well did thy master,
“ for fresh fields and pastures new"' Epicurus, choose a garden wherein, beneath the - let us leave old books (those dear old tomes, shady trees, by which loud chirped the cicala, he printed at “Ye Bible, in St. Paul's Churchyard," night expound to that eager band of disciples the et id genus omne,) for their modern descendants of art of “living well."
Albemarle-street, Paternoster-row, and elsewhere. When Epicurus to the world had taught
Fair readers (if such should so far highly bonour That pleasure was the only good,
me as to glance over these pages) with "eges (And was perhaps i’the right, is rightly understood,) darkly, deeply, beautifully blue," will hardly forHis life he to his doctrine brought,
give me for lightly passing by Byron—as it is And in a garden ́s shade that sovereign pleasure scaght.
my present purpose to do. It is a work of superIf I have glanced but cursorily over Cowley- erogation to descant on acknowledged beauties. omitting many beauties, and substituting comments Byron is known to all, from the maiden of Berkefor quotations—I still shall have effected my pur. ley-square to the maid-of-all-work at Stoke pose if by these unworthy comments of mine, I Newington. I dare not-I cannot criticise hinshall have induced any one of my readers to seek honestly. Byron seems likely to be immortal in out—" mark, learn, and inwardly digest” the every way. We hear his name breathed endearpoems of the "melancholy Cowley." Or if, oh ingly by young ladies in their teens, by young gentle Cowley, my reader should think I have dal gentlemen hurriedly in drawing rooms; by lied too long for his patience with thee, even as blighted beings" of every rank and age-from one who, meeting an old friend in the busy street the dandy of St. James's-street to the hopeless stays too long with him, leaving the new friend to " counter-jumper” of High Holborn. Few proshift for himself-surely such a fault may be for- vincial towns are without a Lara, and few people given me when now I bid thee farewell.
but can number among their acquaintance a Don Fuller is another son of wisdom, whose works Juan of St. George's Hospital or of the Temple. are undeservedly covered with the dust of neglect. We can with difficulty bring our minds to recollect Have none of my readers (if I be fortunate that the author of “Childe Harold's Pilgrimage," enough to carry any with me thus far) seen “the died at Missolonghi, and was buried at Hucknall Holy War" and the Holy and Profane States," in the year of grace, 1824. His portraits are in
the windows of countless print-shops ; bis busts goodness from a volume, whose beauties they are, and are recognised by all, on the board of cannot appreciate. Such people vituperate Shelley's every Italian vendor of plaster of Paris casts ; writings on the ground of their posssessing no while his less fortunate, but equally gifted friend, earthly interest. If "Prometheus Unbound” serves Shelley, is forgotten, save by a few, and they are to elucidate no practical purpose—as some men in a small minority. The ashes of that guileless, affirm—still the lover of the beautiful can quench gentle-hearted poet, lie in a foreign land, his his spirit's thirst at the pure fount of Shelley's name awakens obloquy in the minds of many; inspiration, and rise refreshed from the draught. and the human race-the great brotherhood—for It will be admitted that Patience and Love are whom he laboured in love, during his brief and attributes of God-godlike. Did not Shelley offer melancholy existence, have hardly yet learned to up the incense of his ardent, guileless heart, at such appreciate the single-bearted child of genius.shrines ? “The winged words” of the poet are "A burning and a shining light” was quenched for like the seed which “ the gower went forth to ever, when that frail bark, which held Shelley sow.” They may be bid in the ungrateful heart and Trelawny, sunk beneath the sullen sea. of the world for a long period-or they may be
If Shelley was guilty of many errors in theory, scoffed at and trodden under foot by “the beasts he was, at least, guilty of few in practice. Let of the people ;" yet some must “fall on good those who from prejudice bave suffered the poems ground"-and may they bring forth a golden of Percy Bysshe Shelley to be unread by them, harvest in the world's mind! The prose-writers read "Queen Mab," that sweet fledgling of his genius appeal more to the head, or reasoning faculties, --and, though his and their theories may not agree, than to the heart. The poet's music, (to borrow yet must they, as candid men, adnjit that that poet a phrase from Fuller, who defines poetry as “music " with all the odorous dews of pathos” around him, in words," as music is “poetry in sound”) follows inculcated as sublime a practice as any author of men into the world--the sound rings in their ears any "Whole Duty of Man.” Shelley owned no in the privacy of their chamber, and oft amid the law but the law of Love, and to Love he paid a turmoil of busy life that music appeals unto their tribute too enthusiastic to escape the scorn of a better, purer feelings—it brings back to the cold-hearted world. If Love the most exalted hacknied man of the world the green days of attribute of the Deity-was the sole object of youth, and all should refuse to close their ears Shelley's worship; if he severed that one of many against that sweet music which comes across the attributes from the grand Whole, to worship that dull monotony of daily life, like some sweet air one attribute with the warmth of a pure young anew remembered. beart,—was be guilty of such monstrous impiety Let us not lose ourselves in the mazes of that as bigotry would have us believe ?-for, is not that rich garden of poesy, Shelley's "Prometheus Un. one attribute the essence and governing principle bound,” when we have not even time to cull of all? From Shelley's lyre sprang into being together a few flowers and then go on our way. many sweet sounds, whose soul-purifying music If ever man was born a poet, that man will ring through the ears of many till this evil Shelley. From his earliest youth he had built for world shall pass away, and Love shall be lord of all. his soul a nest of sweet fancies, to which he might May God hasten that time when creeds shall no retreat, and in which he, during his brief existence, longer, as now, by too many, be set up as cold shrouded his too sensitive mind from life's sterner substitutes for that charity which "thinketh no realities. Hear what the Fourth Spirit sings : evil !""* A time will come, let us hope, when man will not hate his brother, if they worship one God
Ou a poet's lips I slept
Dreaming like a love-adept at different altars—a time so ardently looked for
In the sound his breathing kept ; by that believer in man's perfectibility, the true
Nor seeks nor finds he mortal blisses, hearted, if often erring, P. B. Shelley. Those who
But feeds on the aërial kisses living too much in the world are “of the earth,
Of shapes that liaunt thought's wildernesses.
He will watch from dawn to gloom earthy," sneer at the golden fancies of a child of
The lake-reflected sun illume song; they know not how such blossoms bring
The yellow bees in the ivy-bloom, forth pleasant fruit. The man described by Words
Nor heed nor see, what things they be; worth is a fine type of these groundlings—Words
But from these create he can
Forms more real than living man, worth’s clown perchance lacked worldliness suffi cient to render the resemblance more complete
Nurslings of immortality !* "A primrose by the river's brim,
There is the poetic character hit off by a few A yellow primrose was to him
faint yet masterly touches by a poet; and a poet But-it was nothing more.”
in the truest, holiest, purest sense of that high As that clown could pass by and trample on the word was Shelley ; he was no bard of the the primrose at his feet, without one thought of salon ; he had a great heart, which beat for all the beauty in simplicity, or of God who made this his fellow men. From his visionary youth to the firstling of spring-80 these literal varlets can dream-land beauty of his maturer years he had carp at sentences, though they will never extract devoted his heart and mind to poesy—he had not * But did Shelley worship at any altar P
• " Prometheus Uubound."-Chorus of Spirits.
TALFOURD'S DEFENCE OF SHELLEY.
loved the world — he might have said with subjoin from that splendid effort of oratory disByron, (and with more trath,)
played on the trial of Mr. Moxon (Shelley's pubI have not loved the world nor the world me,
lisher) for “blasphemy,” by the counsel for the I have not flattered its rank breath-nor bowed defendant, the late Mr. Justice Talfourd. To its idolatries a patient knee,
Mr. Moxon, as doubtless many of you remember, Nor coined my cheek to smiles, nor cried aloud was indicted at the instance of one Het berington, In worship of an echo.
for having published Sheiley's “Poetical Works." Why Byron's popularity exceeded Shelley's we Speaking of certain passages therein, which formed can easily understand; in the first place, the Eng. the groundwork of that ill-advised prosecution, lish are a lord-loving people. Is it to be won- Serjeant Talfourd said :-* dered if, baving before them a “living lord,"
They appeal to no passion; they pervert so affection; young, handsome, and a child of genius, they they find nothing in human nature, frail as it always is should be fascinated ? Byron invested vice with guilty as it sometimes becomes, to work on. Contemplated the mantle of poetry; his villains were not con
apart from the intellectual history of the extraordinary being temptible—“rather to be admired,” thought the who produced them, and from which they can never be
severed by any reader of this book, they would excite no English reader, whose mind was agog on Germanisms feelings but those of wonder at their andacity, and pity for (if such a word may be allowed me). Every their weakness. Not only are they incapable of awakening young gentleman who happened to have been any chords of evil in the soul, but they are ineffectaal to crossed in love, or to have been supplanted by a
present to it an intelligible heresy. Are they more than more favoured rival, found in Byron's pages
atoms of chaotic thought not yet subsided into harmony, over
which the spirit of love has not yet brooded so as to make limnings (thought the aforesaid youth) of his own
them pregnant with life and beauty and joy ? “ dark soul”—their collars were turned down, Now when it is proved that this poem ("Qneen Mab"] verses, á la “ Fare-thee.well,” indited, signed and thus containing the doctrine of immortality, is presented sealed; and the young man became a Fleet-street with the distinct statement that Shelley himself in malare Lara—haughty, sullen, and poetically unhappy; panied by his own letter, in which he expresses his wish for
life departed from its offensive dognias,—when it is accordEvery youth who happened to be of a dissipated its suppression.
surely all sting is taken out turn of mind could find in Byron's pages morbid of the rash and uncertain passages which have been selected administerings to ill-feeling. Much as I admire as indicatiug blasphemy! But is it not antidote enough to Byron's fiery flow of verse, his hatred of humbug,
the poison of a pretended atheism, that the poet, who is his unflinching advocacy of what he believed to be supposed to-day to deny Deity, finds Deity in all things? true—much as my own heart yearns in sympathy
Well said that gifted advocate, when speaking towards“ Childe Harold,” as my eyes grow dim of a certain alleged blasphemous passage in an while reading verses where the passion, throbs of essay written by Shelley and appended to “Queen that noble heart are laid bare to the light of day Mab,”—an essay disclaimed long before his death -still I cannot blind my convictions to the fact by Shelley himself :that Colton, the author of "Lacon," well defined
Here you shall see a poet whose fancies are most ethereal, the tendency of Byron's works, when he said, they struggling with a theory gross, material, shallow ; imagine taught the youth of that day that the whole duty the great struggle by which the Spirit of the Eternal seeks of man was "to hate your neighbour, and love
to subdue the material world to its uses. His genios vas your neighbour's wife!"
pent up within the hard and bitter riud of his philosophy,
as Ariel was in the rift of the cloven pinc; and what yos. Since I read that opinion, I must own that der if a spirit so enthralled should send forth strange and " the glass-eyed, teeth.grinding, lone Caloyer,” discordant cries ? Here is a spectacle which angels as Carlyle nicknarnes Byron, has lost much of may admire and weep over! Here is a poet of faney the his power over me.
most ethereal — feelings the most devout-charity the most But I had nearly forgotten Shelley while speak and debasing! Here is a youth endowed with that seosibi
Christian-enthralled by opinions the most cold, hollow, ing of his friend Byron. As regards the charge lity to the beautiful and the grand which peoples his minates of immoral tendency alleged so bitterly against with the perceptions of years ; who (with a spirit of selfShelley's works I will only say-point me out one
sacrifice which the oldest Christianity might exalt in, if line which, irrespective of creed, inculcates immo
found in one of its martyrs) is ready to lay down that intel. rality, and I will own the allegation just. That
lectual being-to be lost in loss itself—if by anaihilation Shelley did make grievous mistakes in religious of his species and yet, with strange wilfulness, rejecting
he could multiply the enjoyments and hasten the progress opinion, I am ready to acknowledge and deplore; that religion in form to which in essence he is imperishably but he was from bis childhood a calumniated, per- allied ! Observe these radiant fancies, pare and cold as secuted being ---and surely we can little wonder if
, frostwork ; how would they have been kindled by the warmth when be heard the professors of a creed disgrace through eternity," and think how they would repose in their
of Christian love! Track “ those thoughts that wander it by calumny, in bitter mockery of their profession, proper home! "And trace the inspired but erring youth, that he should be led insensibly to confound theory poem after poem, year after year, month after month, box with practice, and a creed with its upholders. shall you see the icy fetters which encircle his genius graPersecution always hardens.
dually dissolve ; the wreaths of mist ascend from his paih; Reader, ere you make up your mind never to read one line of Shelley, thereby voluntarily de publishing Shelley's Works, before Lord. Denman anda
* See report of the trial of Mr. Moxon, for blasphemy, ia priving your heart and head of much that will special jury — June 23, 1841. Counsel for defendant, Mr. soothe and refresh both, first read the extract I Serjeant Talfourd and Mr. Hayward.
TO MY BOOKS ON PARTING WITH THEM.
and the distance spread out before him peopled with human I have before me now, in an old M.S. book, affections, and skirted by angels' wings ! See seeming atheist begins to adore—how the divine image of a labour of leisure when I was a boy at school,) Calvary, never unfelt, begins to be seen-and, in its contem
some lines written by the late lamented author of plation, the sostened poet exclaims, in his “ Prometheus,” of
“ The Life of Lorenzo de Medici," Mr. Roscoe ; the followers of Christ :
and these lires, composed on a like occasion, will The wise, the pure, the lofty, and the jast,
perhaps serve better than any dull
prose to express Whom thy slaves hate for being like to thee.
all I felt on parting from those dear old books of And thus he proceeds, with light shining more and more
mine :towards perfect day, which he was not permitted to realise in this world. As you trace this progress, alas ! Death veils it-veils it, not stops it ; and this perturbed, imperfect, but
As one who, destined from his friends to part, glorious being is hidden from us till the sea shall give up its dead.
Regrets his loss, but hopes again erewhile
To share their converse and enjoy their smile, But I have wandered too far and too long with
And tempers, as he may, Amiction's dart; Memory. I have thought too much of my own
Thus, loved associates, chiefs of elder Art, impressions of books and reading, and have ex
Teachers of wisdom, who could once beguile pressed too little aright; I have filled sundry sheets
My tedious hours, and lighten every toil, of paper, and now find that I have said too little
I now resign you—nor with failing heart; to the purpose, and too much of myself. Let me hope, dear reader, that you will pardon all this : For, past a few short years, or days, or hours, it is very hard to lose one's books and one's home And happier seasons may their dawn unfold, together; it is very natural to remember both
And all your sacred fellowship restore; tenderly, and to seek to indulge such a train of When, freed from earth, unlimited its powers, thought, albeit at the expense of a reader's patience. Mind shall with mind direct communion hold, Be this, then, my excuse.
And kindred spirits meet to part no more!
The western wind sighed through the palm I'll murmur round thee in thy slumbers, whisper groves of an Indian clime, and the sun's glowing to thee in thy dreams, and wander from thee to rays brightened into the mellow horizon. The heaven's blue vault, only to summon thence those sky, and sea, and land were blazing with the glory blest guardians of the sky, whose office of love it of the dying day, as an Indian mother bowed her henceforth shall be to watch thy tender child. graceful head over the fragile being who owed to Rest thee ! rest thee !"--and the wind murmured her its new found life; her hair in its wild luxuri. until the Indian girl slept beside her child. ance covered the infant form, and her tears fell Then it hushed its lulling breezes, and fled tofast on its tender limbs.
wards the distant west-farther and farther it went She wept, for she thought of the sin and on its heaven bound mission-farther and farsorrow of the world it had entered ; she wept, for ther. she felt the impotency of her own mind alone to The sun had set; the air became murky and save it from that sin; and wept, because she had still; insects buzzed and fluttered; noisome rep. heard so little, and knew so little, of the way in tiles crawled forth--the wily snake and poisonous which that might be done, or of that great being adder-stole near the spot where lay that gentle wlio, in his divine love, came from heaven to being and her helpless infant. earth, and went from earth to heaven again on this
But there came one creature, more subtle, more sin-destroying mission.
dangerous than all. Slowly, stealthily it advanced, The gentle west wind moaned round that young and breathed on the sleeping child. Its serpent loving mother, kissed her heated brow, bathed her form was raised as its poisoned tongue darted at limbs with its cooling stream, sought' to waft her the infant—another moment, and its sting lad sorrow from ber, and sang its own murmuring entered that tender frame; but the gentle western lullaby to woo her into rest.
breeze returned, and brought on its balmy wings " Rest thee, Fayaway, child of the golden beings of light and love, of seraph essence, of East,” it sighed ; “grieve not at the doom of earth; angelic nature, who spread their outstretched weep not for that which as yet is not-which pinions between the slimy reptile and the sleeping never may be. Rest thee, Fayaway; rest thee, babe. “Away,” they said ; and the willing echo regentle one, and let me kiss thine eyelids iuto sleep. peated the command, as the reptile dragged its