Imágenes de páginas



another had quoted as his favorite. I am indeed convinced in my own mind, that could the same experiment have been tried with these volumes, as was made in the well known story of the picture, the result would have been the same; the parts which had been covered by the number of the black spots on the one day, would be found equally albo lapide notatæ on the succeeding.

However this may be, it is assuredly hard and unjust to fix the attention on a few separate and insulated poems with as much aversion, as if they had been so many plague-spots on the whole work, instead of passing them over in silence, as so much blank paper, or leaves of bookseller's catalogue ; especially, as no one

; pretends to have found immorality or indeli-, cacy; and the poems therefore, at the worst,

; could only be regarded as so many light or inferior coins in a roleau of gold, not as so much alloy in a weight of bullion. A friend whose talents I hold in the highest respect, but whose judgeinent and strong sound sense I have had almost continued occasion to revere, making the usual complaints to me concerning both the style and subjects of Mr. Wordsworth's minor poems; I admitted that there were some few of the tales and incidents, in which I could not myself find a sufficient cause for their having been recorded in metre. I mentioned the “ Alice

[ocr errors]


Fell" as an instance; “nay,” replied my friend with more than usual quickness of manner, “ I cannot agree with you there! that I own does seem to me a remarkably pleasing poem." In the “ Lyrical Ballads” (for my experience does not enableme to extend the remark equally unqualified to the two subsequent volumes) I have heard at different times, and from different individuals every single poem extolled and reprobated, with the exception of those of loftier kind, which as was before observed, seem to have won universal praise. This fact of itself would have made me diffident in my censures, had not a still stronger ground been furnished by the strange contrast of the heat and long continuance of the opposition, with the nature of the faults stated as justifying it. The seduc-, tive faults, the dulcia vitia of Cowley, Marini, or Darwin might reasonably be thought capable of corrupting the public judgement for half a century, and require a twenty years war, campaign after campaign, in order to dethrone the usurper and re-establish the legitimate taste. But that a downright simpleness, under the affectation of simplicity, prosaic words in feeble metre, silly thoughts in childish phrases, and a preference of mean, degrading, or at best trivial associations and characters, should succeed in forming a school of imitators, a company of almost religious admirers, and this too


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

among young men of ardent minds, liberal education, and not

i “ with academic laurels unbestowed;" and that this bare and bald counterfeit of poetry, which is characterized as below criticism, should for nearly twenty years have well-nigh engrossed criticism, as the main, if not the only, butt of review, magazine, pamphlets, poem, and

paragraph ;—this is indeed matter of wonder! Of yet greater is it, that the contest should still continue as* undecided as that between Bac

[ocr errors]

* Without however the apprehensions attributed to the Pagan reformer of the poetic republic. If we may judge from the preface to the recent collection of his poems, Mr. W. would have answered with Xanthias

Συ δ' εκ εδεισας τον ψοφον των ρηματων,

Κα» τας απειλας; ΞΑΝ. αμα Δι', εδ' εφροντισα. And here let me dare hint to the authors of the numerous parodies, and pretended imitations of Mr. Wordsworth's style, that at once to conceal and convey wit and wisdom in the semblance of folly and dulness, as is done in the clowns and fools, nay even in the Dogberry, of our Shakespear, is doubtless a proof of genius, or at all events, of satiric talent; but that the attempt to ridicule a silly and childish poem, by writing another still sillier and still more childish, can only prove (if it prove any thing at all) that the parodist is a still greater blockhead than the original writer, and what is far worse, a malignant coxcomb to 'boot. The talent for mimicry seems strongest where the human race are most degraded. The poor, naked, half human savages of New Hol-! land were found excellent mimics; and in civilized society, minds of the very lowest stamp alone satirize by copying. At least the difference, which must blend with and balance the likeness, in order to constitute a just imitation, existing here merely in caricature, detracts from the libeller's heart, without adding an iota to the credit of his understanding.

chus and the frogs in Aristophanes; when the former descended to the realms of the departed to bring back the spirit of old and genuine poesy.

Χορος Βατραχων και Διονυσος

γαρ εςι, ή κόαξ.

Χ. Βρεκεκεκεξ, κουαξ, κοαι!

αλλ' εξολοισ9' αυτω κοκξ.

οιμωζετ: 8 μοι μελει.
Χ. αλλα μην κεκραξομεσθα

γoπoσον η φαρυγξ αν ημων
χανδανη δε ημερας
βρεκεκεκεξ, κοαξ, κουαξ!

τέτω γαρ 8 νικησετε.
Χ. કીદ

μεν ημάς συ σαντως.
εδε μεν υμάς γε


εδεποτε κεκραξομαι γαρ

εως άν υμών επικρατήσοω τω Κοαξ!
Χ. βρεκεκεκεξ, ΚΟΑΞ, ΚΟΑΞ!

δει δε ημερας,

During the last year of my residence at Cambridge, I became acquainted with Mr. Wordsworth's first publication entitled “ Descriptive Sketches;" and seldom, if ever, was the emergence of an original poetic genius above the literary horizon more evidently announced. In the form, style, and manner of the whole poem, and in the structure of the particular lines and periods, there is an harshness and acerbity connected and combined with words and images

[ocr errors]


all a-glow, which might recall those products of the vegetable world, where gorgeous blossoms rise out of the hard and thorny rind and shell, within which the rich fruit was elaborating. The language was not only peculiar and strong, but at times knotty and contorted, as by its own impatient strength ; while the novelty and struggling crowd of images acting in conjunction with the difficulties of the style, demanded always a greater closeness of attention, than poetry, (at all events, than descriptive poetry) has a right to claim. It not seldom therefore justified the complaint of obscurity. In the following extract I have sometimes fancied, that I saw an emblem of the poem itself, and of the author's genius as it was then displayed.

'Tis storm; and hid in mist from hour to hour,

All day the floods a deepening murmur pour ;
The sky is veiled, and every cheerful sight:
Dark is the region as with coming night;
And yet what frequent bursts of overpowering light!
Triumphant on the bosom of the storin,
Glances the fire-clad eagle's wheeling form ;
Eastward, in long perspective glittering, shine
The wood-crowned cliffs that o'er the lake recline ;
Wide o'er the Alps a hundred streams unfold,
At once toʻpillars turn’d that flame with gold ;
Behind his sail the peasant strives to shun
The West, that burns like one dilated sun,
Where in a mighty crucible expire
The mountains, glowing hot, like coals of fire.”


« AnteriorContinuar »