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Ix carlier days the greatest poets addressed themselves more to the passions or heart-emotions of their fellow.men than to their thoughts or mind-emotions. The passions were then in their natural state, and held their natural places in the character. They were not made sickly by a false refinement, or stimulated to a discased and incessantly craving state. Men loved and hated to excess, perhaps ; but there was nothing factitious in their love or hatred. The tons of poetry, even when employed on the most tragic subjects, might waken in the hearer's heart a chord of joy ; for in such natural sorrow there was a healthful life, an energy which told of healing yet to come and the endless riches of love and hope.
How different is its lone in Faust and Manfred ; how false to simple nature, yet how true to the time! As the mechanism of society has become more complex, and must be regulated more by combined efforts, desire after individuality brings him who manifests it into a state of confict with society. This is felt from a passion, whether it be love or ambition, which seeks to make its own world independent of trivial daily circumstances, and struggles long against the lessons of experience, which tell it that such singleness of effort and of possession cannot be, consistently with that grand maxim of the day, the greatest happiness of the greatest number. Not until equally enlightened and bumble, can the human being learn that individuality of character is not necessarily combined with individuality of possession, but depends alone on the zealous observance of truth. Few can be wise enough to realize with Schiller, that “to be truly immortal one Italist live in the whole.” The mind struggles long, before it can resolve on sacrificing any thing of its impulsive nature to the requisitions of the time. And while it struggles it mourns, and these lamentations compose the popular poetry. Men do not now look ia poetry for a serene world, amid whose vocal groves and green meads they may refresh theniselves after the heat of action,
and in paradisaical quiet listen to the tales of other days. No 1 dissatisfied and represt, they want to be made to weep, because, in so doing, they feel themselves in some sense free.
All this couflict and apparently bootless fretting and wailing mark a transition-state-a state of gradual revolution, in which men try all things, seeking what they hold fast, and feel that it is good. But there are some, the pilot-minds of the age, who cannot submit to pass all their lives in experimentalizing. They cannot consent to drist across tho waves in the hope of finding somewhere a haven and a hoine ; but, seeing the blue sky over them, and believing that God's love is every where, try to make the best of that spot on which they have been placed, and, not unfrequently, by the aid of spiritual assistance, more benign than that of Faust's Lemures, win from the raging billows large territories, whose sands they can convert into Eden bowers, tenanted by lovely and majestic shapes.
Such are Southey, Coleridge, and Wordsworth. They could not be satisfied, like Byron, with embodying the peculiar wit or peculiar sufferings of the times; nor like Scott, with depicting an era which has said its say and produced its fruit: nor like Campbell, with occasionally giving a voice and a permanent being to some brilliant moment or fair scene. Not of nobler na. ture, not more richly endowed than Shelley, they were not doomed to misguided efforts and baffled strivings; much less could they, like Moore, consider poetry merely as the harmonious expreesian of transient sensations. To them Poetry was, must bo, the ex 1 pression of what is eternal in man's nature, through illustrations drawn from his temporal state ; a representation in letters of fire, on life's dark curtain, of that which lies beyond ; philosophy dressed in the robes of Taste and Imagination; the voice of Nature and of God, numanized by being echoed back from the understanding hearts of Priests and Seers! Of course this could not be the popular poorry of the day. Being eminently the pro
duct of reflection and experience, it could only be appreciated by those who had thought and felt to some depth. I confess that it is not the best possible poetry, since so exclusively adapted to the meditative few. In Shakspeare, or Homer, there is for minds of every grade as much as they are competcat to receive, the shallow or careless find there amusement; minds of a higher order, meaning which enlightens and beauty which enchants them.
This fault which I have admitted, this want of universality is not surprising, since it was necessary for these three poets to stand apart from the tide of opinion, and disregard the popular tastes, in order to attain firmness, depth, or permanent beauty. And they. being, as I have said, the pilot-minds of their time, their works enjoy a growing, though not a rapidly growing, popu. larity.
Coleridge, in particular, is now very much read, nor, notwith. standing his was but occasional homage to the shrine of poesy, was he the least valuable votary of the three, since, if he has done least. if his works form a less perfect whole, and are there. fore less satisfactory than those of the other two, he is far more suggestive, more filled with the divine magnetism of inlu'tion, than they.
The muse of Southey is a beautiful statue of crystal, in whose bosom burns an immortal flame. We hardly admire, as they de. serve, the perfection of the finish, and the elegance of the con. I tours, because our attention is so fixed on the radiance which glows through them.
Thus Southey is remarkable for the fidelity, and still more for the grace, of his descriptions; for his elegant manner of expressing sentiments noble, delicate, and consistent in their tone; for his imagination, but, more than all, for his expansive and fervent piety.
In his fidelity of description there is nothing of the minute
accuracy of Scott. Southey takes no pleasure in making little dots and marks; his style is free and bold, yet always true, sometimes elaborately true, to nature. Indeed, if he has a it is that he eluborates too much. He himself has said that poc. try should be “thoroughly erudite, thoroughly animated, and thoroughly natural." His poetry cannot alwnys toast of the two last essentials. Even in his most brilliant passages there is nothing of the heat of inspiration, nothing of that celestial fire which makes us feel that the author has, by intensifying tho action of his mind, raised himself to communion with superior
8 intelligences. It is where he is most calm that he is most bcauti. ful; and, accordingly, he is more excellent in the expression of sentiment than in narration. Scarce any writer presents to us a sentiment with such a tearful depth of expression ; but though it is a tearful depth, those tears were shed long since, and Faith and Love have hallowed them. You nowhere are made to feel the bitterness, the vehemence of present emotion ; but the phe. nix born froni passion is seen hovering over the ashes of what was once combined with it. Southey is particularly exquisite in painting those sentiments which arise from the parental and filial relation : whether the daughter looks back from her heavenly lover, and the opening bowers of bliss, still tenderly solicitous for her father, whom she, in the true language of woman's heart, recommends to favour, as
" That wretched, persecuted, poor good man;"
or the father, as in “ Thalaba,” shows a faith in the benignity and holiness of his lost daughter, which the lover, who had given up for her so high a destiny, wanted ; or, as in "Roderick," the miserable, sinful child wanders back to relieve himself from the load of pollution at the feet of a sainted mother; always alwnys he speaks from a full, a sanctified soul, in tones of thrill. ing melody.
The imagination of Southey is marked by similar traits; thero is no flash, no sciotillation about it, but a steady light as of day itself. As specimens of his best manner, I would mention the last stage of Thalaba's journey to the Domdaniel Caves, and, in the “Curse of Kehama," the sea.palace of Baly, “ The Glen. doveer,” and “The Ship of Heaven.” As Southey's poems are not very generally read, I will extract the two latter :
extract in a note to the “Curse of Kehama," and I think no ono can compare the two without feeling that the truc alchymy has been at work there. His poctry is a new and life-giving ele. ment to the very striking thoughts he borrowed. Charcoal and dianıonds are not more unlike in their effect upon the observer.
“THE SHIP OF HEAVEN.
"The ship of heaven, instinct with thought displayed
On either side, in wavy tide,
Around the living bark enamored play,
" That bark in shape was like the furrowed shell
The sail, from end to end displayed,
An angel's head with visual eye,
Nor aid of wing, nor foot nor fin,
Disturbs the surface of the silver stream,
Through ar and sunshine sails the ship of heaven." Southey professes to have borrowed the description of the Glendovoer from an old and forgotten book. He has given the prose
" of human form divine was he,
Even such as that divincst furin shall be
When no infirmity, low thought, nor basc dcsire, nor wasting caro Delace the semblance of our heavenly sire
The wings of cagle or of cherubim
Had sceincd unworthy him;
The perineating light
Now bright as when the rose,
. From Douro's generous vine, Or ruby when with deepest red it glows; Or as the morning clouds refulgent shine When at fortlicoming of the lord of day,
The orient, like a shrine, Kindles as it receives the rising ray,
And herakling his way