« ZurückWeiter »
So sturdy Cromwell push'd broad-shoulder'd on; So burly Luther breasted Babylon; So brawny Cleon bawld his Agora down; And large-limb'd Mahmoud clutch'd a Prophet's crown! “Ay, mark him well! the schemer's subtle eye, The stage-mime's plastic lip your search defy He, like Lysander, never deems it sin To eke the lion's with the fox's skin; Vain every mesh this Proteus to enthrall, He breaks no statute, and he creeps through all; First to the mass that valiant truth to tell, • Rebellion's art is never to rebel, Elude all danger, but defy all laws,' He stands himself the Safe Sublime he draws ! In him behold all contrasts which belong To minds abased, but passions rous'd, by wrong; The blood all fervor, and the brain all guile, The patriot's bluntness, and the bondsman's wile."
- pp. 36, 37.
The drawing of the present premier is still more happily
pp. 38, 39.
It is impossible to do justice to the narrative parts of the poem by means of detached
We shall glean a descriptive passage here and there, as a fairer course toward the
author, these being at least complete in themselves. The
Of the great Babel – reigns, dishallowed, Night!
Flits o'er the lamp-lit streets - a phantom-day!” - p. 141. Here are a pair of out-of-doors scenes. The first is contained in a very few lines, but it is natural and touching. Arden has returned to England, and is seeking Mary at her old home.
Behold her home once more!
Still brawled the brooklet's unremembering glee." - p. 92. The other is an autumnal landscape. But it must be observed that the author never paints directly from nature, but from the reflection of her in his own mind. “ Now Autumn closes on the fading year,
The chill wind moaneth through the woodlands sere ;
As Jove's lost creed, with deity and life
- pp. 178, 179. The following night-scene is perhaps the best of its kind in the whole book. The images are all in keeping (a rare thing with our author), and the expression, especially in the verse we have Italicized, condensed and energetic. " 'Tis night,
a night by fits, now foul, now fair,
as watchfires mark
Anon, from brief repose
- p. 189.
As we said above, narrative seems the author's true sphere. His reflections are often commonplace, sometimes puerile, and display more knowledge of society than of man. Often a thought slender in itself is invested with a burly air by means of initial capitals. But when he has a story to tell, he is in his native element. He never flags, his versification becomes bolder and more sustained, the transitions are rapid and fluent, and incident follows incident without confusion and with a culminating interest.
The author of the New Timon might have studied Pope to more purpose than he has done. He is often exceedingly obscure. Brevis esse laborat, obscurus fit. There are passages in the poem which have defied our utmost capacity of penetration. Nor is bis use of language always correct. His metaphors are frequently confused, as, for instance, on
page 154 :
“ From the way-side yon drooping flower I bore;
Warm'd at my heart, its root grew to the core. A new method of reviving wilted plants. As a metrist he has departed widely from his professed original. In this respect he has done wisely, for Pope's measure is quite too uniform for the abrupt changes and varying inflections of a narrative. But too often he weakens a verse by a repetition of trivial monosyllables ; as, " Wept tears that seemed to sweet founts to belong." “ Thou com’st to slaughter, to depart in joy." - p. 154. Or by a word not strongly or decidedly enough accented; as,
“ Not even yet the alien blood confessed.”
“ Lists the soft lapse of the glad waterfall.” We object, also, to his mode of using the Alexandrine as too abrupt. The metre should flow into it with a more gradual and easy swell. One of our own countrymen, Dr. Holmes, bas a much surer mastery over this trying measure. We think the subject of metre one to be studied deeply by all who undertake to write in verse. We cannot quite agree with old Samuel Daniel, who, in his noble “ Defense of Rime," asserts that " whatsoever form of words doth move, delight, and sway the affections of men, in what Scythian sort soever it be disposed or uttered, that is true number, measure, eloquence, and the perfection of speech.” No doubt, the effect produced is the chief point; but in truth, the best utterances of the best minds have never been Scythian, coming to us rather“ with their garlands and singing-robes about them.”
In conclusion, we should say that vivacity, rather than strength, was the characteristic of our author; that rapidity of action, rather than depth or originality, was the leading trait of his mind. In his contempt of Laura-Matildaism, he sometires carries his notions of manliness to an extreme which would be more offensive, were it not altogether absurd. He says, for example, that
“Even in a love-song man should write for men!"
Imagine the author of the New Timon serenading Lord Stanley, who seems to be an object of his admiration, with “ Sleep, gentleman, sleep!” It follows, as a matter of course, that his female characters (the simplest test of a creative poetic genius) are mere shadows.
If we might hazard a guess, we should name Bulwer as the probable author of this poem. It seems hardly possible that it should be the first production of a young writer.
The skilfulness with which the plot is constructed, perfection in which is perhaps the slowest attainment of writers of fiction, seems to argue against such a supposition. Moreover, the characters and general sentiment are very much in Bulwer's manner. The fondness for personifying qualities or passions, and of giving a factitious importance to ordinary conceptions by means of initial capitals, is also one of his strongest peculiarities. The moral of the story, too, is within bis range. Had we time, we might confirm our theory by a tolerably strong array of minor corroborations. But we must perforce content ourselves with merely throwing out the suggestion. It can hardly be supposed that the authorship of a poem which ran at once through several editions can long remain a
The fate of Junius is a warning to all authors not to preserve the anonymous too strictly.
ART. IX.- Views afoot; or Europe seen with Knapsack
and Staff. By J. BAYARD TAYLOR. With a Preface by N. P. Willis. New York : Wiley & Putnam. 1846. 12mo. pp. 343. THERE is something which we like well in the title of this unpretending work; it is straightforward and expressive, suiting well with the character in which the writer presents himself to the world. One of our modern writers, who think it refinement to go as far as possible from the Saxon barbarism of former days, might have described it as views seen when he “ was being” on foot in Europe ; but with all the evident
grace of such forms of speech, which are now in high favor, we cannot help thinking that the plain phrase sounds as well, and conveys the meaning better. We say better, be