« AnteriorContinuar »
And made him friends of mountains : with the fully interspersed with his accustomed
crudities, but not without a consideraHe held his dialogue; and they did teach
ble sbare of poetic merit. The Night To him the magic of their mysteries ; To him the book of Night was opened wide,
Thoughts appear to be the objects of And voices from the abyss reveald
his imitation, but the copy falls very A marvel and a secret-Be it so." P. 44. far short of the original. His Lord
Amen, say also we; for till these dia- ship's philosophy is at times of the sect logues are somewhat more intelligible of the unintelligibles," at least to us than many of the verses in this volume, ordinary mortals, who have been bred We trust that our philosophy neither of up in the schools of common sense. We intellect nor of temper will be put to do earnestly hope that the noble Lord the test by any attempt to interpret will at last take bis promised repose, them. The next poem is a Chorus in and write no more, till he can cease to an unfinished Witch Drama, in which, as write about himself. The address to it consists wholly of curses upon some bis daughter, with which the Childe devoted victim, the reader will take Harold concludes, under all those cirfor granted that the noble Lord has cumstances with which the public are excelled.
too well acquainted, is written in bad * We fear that the noble Lord will gain taste, and worse morality. The Eng. very little credit by the volumes before lish nation is not so easily to be
The first, is decidedly the best, and whined out of its just and honourable
Coleridge, Esq. Evo. pp. 64. Murray. London. 1816.
from the British Review, not so If .genius' were merely a divergency
«« That wild and singularly original modesty, nor be quite unforbearing in and beautiful poem,” as Lord Byron its exactions. What we allow it the calls the production which stands first use of as an accessory, it must not conat the head of this article, in terms suf- vert into a principle, and what is grantficiently uncouth, but of a convenient ed to it as a part of its proper machinelength and authoritativeness for the book- ry, it must not impose upon us as the seller's purpose in his announcement main or only object of interest. But of the work, was read by us before Mr. Coleridge is one of those poets who, we saw the advertisement, and there- if we give him an inch will be sure to fore without that prejudice against it take an ell: if we consent to swallow which the above applauding sentence an elf or fairy, we are soon expected would certainly have produced in us. not to strain at a witch ; and if we open
• That the poem of Christabel is wild our throats to this imposition upon our and singular cannot be denied, and if good nature, we must gulp down this be not eulogy sufficient, let it be broom-stick and all. allowed to be original; for there is a • We really must make a stand someland of dreams with which poets hold where for the rights of common sense ; an unrestricted commerce, and where and large as is the allowance which we they may load their imaginations with feel disposed to give to the privileges whatever strange products they find in and immunities of the poet, we must, the country; and if we are coutent at the hazard of being considered as with the raw material, there is no end profane, require bim to be intelligible ; to the varieties of chaotic originalities and as a necessary step towards his bewhich may be brought away from this coming so, to understand himself, and fantastic region. But it is the poet's be privy to the purposes of his own province, not to bring these anomalous mind: for if he is not in his own seexistences to our view in the state in cret, it is scarcely probable that he can which he has picked them up, but so become his own interpreter. shaped, applied, worked up, and com- • It was in vain that, after reading the pounded, as almost to look like natives poem of Christabel, we resorted to the of our own minds, and easily to mix preface to consult the poet himself with the train of our own conceptions. about his meaning. He tells us only It is not every strange fantasy, or that which, however important, doubirambling incoherency of the brain, less, in itself, throws very little light upproduced perhaps amidst the vapours on the mysteries of the poem, viz. that of indigestion, that is susceptible of po- great part of the poem was written in etic effect, nor can every night mare the year 1797, at Stowey, in the county be turned into a muse; there must be of Somerset: the second part, after his something to connect these visionary return from Germany, in the year 1800, forms with the realities of existence, to at Keswich, in Cumberland. - Since gain them a momentary credence by the latter date my poetic powers,” says the aid of harmonizing occurrences, to the author, “ have been till very lately mix them up with the interest of some in a state of suspended animation." great event, or to borrow for them a Now we cannot but suspect that there is colour of probability from the surround- a little anachronism in this statement, ing scene. It is only under the shelter and that in truth it was during this susof these proprieties and corresponden- pense of the author's poetical powers, cies that witchcraft has a fair and legiti- that this “ wild and singularly original mate introduction into poetical compo- and beautiful poem” of Christabel was sition. A witch is no heroine, nor can conceived and partly executed. we read a tale of magic for its own
-Nondum facies viventis in illa, sake. Poetry itself must show some Jam morientis erat.
Nor can we perceive any symptoms of tation among our poets is a terrible recovery from this state of "suspended sameness or inanverism in each of those animation” in what has been lately who have been encouraged to write added as the completion of the poem; much ; and the worst of it is, that each we shall watch, however, like one of of these luminaries, while he moves in the agents of the Humane Society, for his own orbit in perpetual parallelism the signs of returning life, and consider with bimself, has a crowd of little moons the rescue of such a muse as that of attending him, that multiply the maligMr. Coleridge from suffocation by sub- nant influence, and propagate the demersion as some gain to the cause of ceptious glare. But the most insuffertrue poetry
able of all the different forms which mo• In the preceding paragraph of the dern affectation in composition has aspreface, Mr. Coleridge discovers no sumed, is the cant and gibberish of the small anxiety to obviate the suspicion German school, which has filled all the of having borrowed any part of this poem provinces, as well of imagination as of from any of “our celebrated poets,” science, with profound nonsense, uninand this accounts for his particularity telligible refinement, metaphysical mowith respect to the chronology of the rals, and mental distortion. Its perfecperformance, which, short as it is, ap- tion and its boast, is to be fairly fran, pears at each stage of it to have occa. chised from all the rules and restraints sioned so much mental exhaustion as to of common sense and common nature ; demand long restorative intermissions. and if domestic events and social manWe never suspected Mr. Coleridge of ners are the theme, all the natural afplagiarism, and think he betrays an un- fections, ties, charities, and emotions of reasonable mistrust of the credit which the heart, are displaced by a monstrous the critics will give him for originality. progeny of vice and sentiment, an asOur own opinion most decidedly is that semblage of ludicrous horrors, or a rabhe is honestly entitled to all the eccen- ' ble of undisciplined feelings. We shall tricities of this poem; and that in as- hail the day, as a day of happy auspiserting his exclusive property in them, ces for the moral muse, when our prehe has done great negative justice to sent fanatic race of poets shall have exthe rest of the literary worlu. Lord hausted all their “ monstrous shapes Byron seems as anxious to remove from and sorceries,” and the abused underhimself the imputation of having bor- standings of our countrymen shall break rowed from the author of Christabel. these unhappy spells, forsake the socieWith this question we shall not trouble ty of demons, and be divorced from deourselves : where two are afflicted with formity. To us especially, whose duty an epidemic, it is of little importance condemns us to the horrible drudgery which caught it of the other, sc long as of reading whatever inen of a certain we can escape the contagion.
reputation may choose to write, it will • The epidemic among modern poets be a great refreshment, if it be only for is the disease of affectation, which is the novelty of the scene, to find ourfor ever carrying them into quaint, ab- selves once more, if not at the fount of surd, and outrageous extremes. One is Helicon, or on the summit of Parnassus, determined to say nothing in a natural yet at least in a region where fog and way, unother is for saying every thing gloom are not perpetual, and poetry is with infantine simplicity, while a third so far mindful of its origin and ancient is persuaded that there is but one lan- character as to proceed in the path of guage for the drawing room, the Royal intelligibility, and to propose to itself Exchange, the talk of the table, and some meaning and purpose, if not some the teinple of the Muses. One conse- moral end. quence of this fatal propensity to affec- • And now for this “ wild and singu
larly original and beautiful poem” of time have some curiosity to see a little Christabel. Could Lord Byron, the of this “ wild and singularly original author of this pithy sentence, show us and beautiful poem,” the old toothless wherein consists its singular beauty ? bitch shall turn out for his entertainThis is the only specimen we have yet ment ; and he shall go with Christabel seen of his lordship's critical powers ; into the wood and attend her there until but from the experience we have had she meets with Lady Geraldine. of bis lordship’s taste in these matters, we do not think he could give a better
“'Tis the middle of night by the castle clock, account of the principles of his admira- And the owls have awaken'd the crowing cock; tion, or dilate with better success on the Tu-whit- -Tuwhoo! meaning of his sententious eulogium, And hark, again ! the crowing cock,
How drowsily it crew. than the bookseller who has borrowed
“ Sir Leoline, the Baron rich, its magical influence in all his adver- Hath a toothless mastiff bitch; tisements of this poemn.
From her kennel beneath the rock
She makes answer to the clock, • We learn two things, and two things Four for the quarters, and twelve for the hour : only, with certainty, from this “wild Ever and aye, moonshine or shower, and singularly original and beautiful Sixteen short howls, not over loud;
» Some say she sees my lady's shroud. poem :" that Sir Leoline was “ rich," and that he “had a toothless mastiff The night is chilly, but not dark.
“ Is the night chilly and dark ? bitch ;” and if any one should be so The thin gray cloud is spread on high, unpoetical as to ask in plain terms It covers, but not hides the sky.
The moon is behind, and at the full; what these two circumstances have to And yet she looks both small and dull. do with the business, story, or catastro- The night is chill, the cloud is gray; pbe of the poem, we must frankly con- 'Tis a month before the month of May,
And the Spring comes slowly up this war. fess that, wise as we are, we cannot tell; nor do we know to whom to refer Whom her father loves so well,
“ The lovely lady Christabel, him for information, unless it be to What makes her in the wood so late, Lord Byron.
The last person he A furlong from the castle gate ? should apply to in this distressing diffi- Of her own betrothed knight; culty is the writer himself, who, if he Dreams that made her moan and leap, has written with the true inspiration of As on her bed she lay in sleep; a poet of the present day, would laugh For the weal of her lover, that's far away. at the ignorance of those who should ** She stole along, she nothing spoke, espect him to understand himself, and The breezes they were still also ;' tell them that by the laws and usages But moss and rarest misletoe :
And nought was green upon the oak, of modern poetry it was for the reader She kneels beneath the huge oak tree, and the old toothless bitch to make out And in silence prayeth she. the meaning as they could between “The lady leaps up suddenly, them.
The lovely lady, Christabe!!
It moan'd as near, as near can be, • From the moment we leave the pic. But what it is, she cannot tell.turesque old lady (for we .cannot but On the other side it seems to be, suspect the bitch to be a witch in that Of the huge, broad-breasted, old oak tree. form) all is impenetrable to us, except Isit the wind that moaneth bleak?
“ The night is chill; the forest bare; the exact information which the poet There is not wind enough in the air gives us, that “the night was chilly but To move away the ringlet curl not dark," and the strong suspicion we There is not wind enough to twirl are led to entertain from its being " the The one red leaf, the last of its clan, month before the month of May," that That dances as often as dance it can it could not be, after all, any other than Hanging so light, and hanging so high,
On the topmost twig that looks up at the shy. that month which a plain man would
“ Hush, beating heart of Christabel ! call April. As our readers may by this Jesu, Maria, shielå her well!
She folded her arms beneath her cloak, spells were wrought both upon Christabel
and Sir Leoline, producing strange ex
ternal and internal transformations, is " There she sees a damsel bright, Drest in a silken robe of white;
evident; but what is meant to be underHer neck, her feet, her arms, were bare, stood to have been actually done, to And the jewels disorder'd in her hair.
what purpose, how produced, or with I guess, 'twas frightful there to see A lady so richly clad as she
what consequences to the parties, we Beautiful exceedingly !" (Christabel, p. 3–7. know as little as Mr. Coleridge bimselt.
We should not be much surprised if the • Now this strange lady, who is, to object of the poet was to make fools of be sure, some preternatural personage, the public, having observed Lord Byron comes home with Christabel, and passes to have succeeded so well in this art; the night with her. What the result of and if it was really published on the this adventure was is so very darkly inti- first of “ the month before the month of mated, that it would be hazardous to May,” we cannot altogether disapprove frame a conjecture. That all was not of the pleasantry.” as it should be, that some mysterious
Art. 3. Bertram, or the Castle of St. Aldobrand; a Tragedy in Five Acts. By
the Rev. R. C. Maturin. Fourth Edition. 8vo. pp. 80. Murray. London.
known to our readers under the name thrown off the disguise of a fictitious of Dennis Jasper Murphy, as the au. name, under which he had long successthor of the Wild Irish Boy, the Fatal fully cloaked himself, he has beende. Revenge, the Milesian Chief, &c. &c. graded from his preferments in the has gone as far in outraging taste, mo- church. desty, virtue, nature, and religion, as The British Reviewers, to whom we the most admired of his cotemporaries. are indebted for the remarks on this All his productions bear strong marks Drama, have very justly availed themof family likeness ;-all display talent, selves of so fair an opportunity to aniall teem with extravagance, all tend to madvert on the gross indecorum of immorality. The tragedy of Bertram inaking the solemnity of prayer a matis stamped with his characteristic linea- ler of mimicry. Appeals to heaven are ments, and is altogether worthy of his allowable only on important occasions genius.
of real life, and should be the aspiraHow such horrible fantasies, as he is tions of sincerity ; but when both the constantly, though unavailingly, exer- scene and the sentiment are feigned, cising, should ever have got possession they are shocking profanations. Were of a mind disciplined to the duties of it even possible for the spectators to his sacred function, we are utterly at a enter into the illusion, it should yet be Joss to imagine. The indulgence of remembered that there is One, who them seems scarcely compatible with cannot be deceived, and will not be the devoutness requisite in him, whose mocked." office it is to minister in holy things.' The following Review should be We have heard, indeed, and we cannot read in connexion with the preceding