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without delay, and, as might have been anticipated, his speculations have ended only in disappointments. They both began, his speculations and his disappointments, in early childhood, and even from that period he has carried about with him a soured and discontented spirit—unteachable in boyhood, unamjable in youth, querulous and unmanly in manhood, -singularly unhappy in all three.

We would venture to hope that the past may suffice for the spe. culations in which Mr. Shelley has hitherto engaged; they have brought him neither honour abroad nor peace at home, and after so fair a trial it seems but common prudence to change them for some new venture. He is still a young man, and though his account be assuredly black and heavy, he may yet hope to redeem his time, and wipe it out. He may and he should retain all the love for his fellow creatures, all the zeal for their improvement in virtue and happiness which he now professes, but let that zeal be armed with knowledge and regulated by judgment. Let him not be offended at our freedom, but he is really too young, too ignorant, too inexperienced, and too vicious to undertake the task of reforming any world but the little world within his own breast; that task will be a good preparation for the difficulties which he is more anxious at once to encounter.

We had closed our remarks on Laon and Cythna, when · Rosalind and Helen' was put into our hands: after having.devoted so much more space to the former than its own importance merited, a single sentence will suffice for the latter. Though not without some marks of the same ability, which is occasionally manifested in Mt. Shelley's earlier production, the present poem is very inferior to it in positive merit, and far more abundant in faults : it is less interesting, less vigorous and chaste in language, less harmonious in versification, and less pure in thought; more rambling and diffuse, more palpably and consciously sophistical, more offensive and vulgar, more unintelligible. So it ever is and must be in the downward course of infidelity and immorality ;-we can no more blot out the noblest objects of contemplation, and the most heart-stirring sources of gratitude from the creation without injury to our intellectual and moral nature, than we can refuse to walk by the light of the sun without impairing our ocular vision. Scarcely any man ever set himself in array against the cause of social order and religion, but from a proud and rebel mind, or a corrupt and undis

. ciplined heart: where these are, true knowledge cannot grow. the enthusiasm of youth, indeed, a man like Mr. Shelley may cheat himself with the imagined loftiness and independence of his theory, and it is easy to invent a thousand sophisms, to reconcile his conscience to the impunity of his practice : but this will last only long enough to lead him on beyond the power of return; he ceases


to be the dupe, but with desperate malignity he becomes the deceiver of others. Like the Egyptian of old, the wheels of his chariot are broken, the path of 'mighty waters' closes in upon him behind, and a still deepening ocean is before him :-for a short time, are seen his impotent struggles against a resistless power, his blasphemous execrations are heard, his despair but poorly assumes the tone of triumph and defiance, and he calls ineffectually on others to follow him to the same ruin-finally, he sinks, ' like lead, to the bottom, and is forgotten.


[From Blackwood's Ed. Mag.–Nov. 1819.) 3.Alastor; or, the Spirit of Solitude: and other Poems.

By PERCY ByssHE SHELLEY.-London, 1816.

We believe this little volume to be Mr. Shelley's first publication; and such of our readers as have been struck by the power

and splendour of genins displayed in the Revolt of Islam, and by is the frequent tenderness and pathos of “ Rosalind and Helen,” will

be glad to observe some of the earliest efforts of a mind, destined, in our opinion, under due discipline and self-management, to achieve great things in poetry. It must be encouraging to those who, like us, cherish high hopes of this gifted but wayward young

man, to see what advances his intellect has made within these few 3 years, and to compare its powerful, though still imperfect display,

in his principal poem with its first gleamings and irradiations thronghout this production, almost of his boyhood. In a short preface, written with all the enthusiasm and much of the presumption of youth, Mr. Shelley gives a short explanation of the subject of “ Alastor; or, the Spirit of Solitude,” which we cannot say, throws any very great light upon it, but without which, the poem

we suspect, altogether unintelligible to ordinary readers. Mr. Shelley is too fond of allegories; and a great genius like his, should scorn, now that it has reached the maturity of manhood, to adopt a species of poetry, in which the difficulties of the art may be so conveniently blinked, and weakness find so easy a refuge in obscurity.

"The poem, entitled " Alastor,' may be considered as allegorical of one of the 'most interesting situations of the human mind. It represents a youth of un*corrupted feelings and adventurous genius, led forth by an imagination inflamred and purified through familiarity with all that is excellent and majestic, to the contemplation of the universe. He drinks deep of the fountains of know‘ledge, and is still insatiate. The magnificence and beauty of the external *world, sinks profoundly into the frame of his conceptions, and affords to their 'modifications, a variety not to be exhausted. So long as it is possible for his 'desires to point towards objects thus infinite and unmeasured, he is joyous, and

would be,

'tranquil, and self-possessed. But the period arrives, when these objects cease "to suffice. His mind is at length suddenly awakened, and thirsts for inter* course with an intelligence similar to itself. He images to himself the Being

whom he loves. Conversant with speculations of the sublimest and most per"fect natures, the vision in which he embodies his own imaginations unites all of wonderful, or wise, or beautiful, which the poet, the philosopher, or the lover could depicture. The intellectual faculties, the imagination, the func'tions of sense, have their respective requisitions on the sympathy of corres. ponding powers in other human beings. The Poet is represented as uniting these requisitions, and attaching them to a single image. He seeks in vain for a prototype of his conception. Blasted by his disappointment, he descends to "an untimely grave.'

Our readers will not expect, from this somewhat dim enunciation, at all times to see the drift of this wild poem; but we think they will feel, notwithstanding, that there is the light of poetry, even in the darkness of Mr. Shelley's imagination. Alastor is thus introduced to our notice.

“ The fountains of divine philosophy
Fled not his thirsting lips, and all of great,
Or good, or lovely, which the sacred past
In truth or fable consecrates, he felt
And knew. When early youth had past, he left
His cold fireside and alienated home
To seek strange truths in undiscovered lands.
Many a wide waste and tangled wilderness
Has lured his fearless steps, and he has bought
With his sweet voice and eyes, from savage men,
His rest and food. Nature's most secret steps

He like her shadow has pursued.” He is then described as visiting volcanoes, lakes of bitumen, caves winding among the springs of fire, and starry domes of diamond and gold, supported by crystal columns, and adorned with shrines of pearl and thrones of crysolyte-a magnificent pilgrimage no doubt, and not the less so on account of its being rather unintelligible. On completing his mineralogical and geological observations, and on re-ascending from the interior of our earth into the upper regions, his route is, to our taste, much more interesting and worthy of a poet.

"His wandering step
Obedient to high thoughts, has visited
The awful ruins of the days of old :
Athens, and Tyre, and Balbec, and the waste
Where stood Jerusalem, the fallen towers
Of Babylon, the eternal pyramids,
Memphis and Thebes, and whatsoe'er of strange
Sculptured on alabaster obelisk,
Or jasper tomb, or mutilated sphynx,
Dark Æthiopia in her desert hills
Conceals. Among the ruined temples there,
Stupendous columns, and wild images
or more than man, where marble dæmons watch
The Zodiac's brazen mystery, and dead men
Hang their mute thoughts on the inute walls around,
He lingered, poring on memorials

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of the world's youth ; through the long burning day
Gazed on those speechless shapes, nor, when the moon
Filled the mysterious halls with floating shades,
Suspended he that task, but ever gazed
And gazed, till meaning on his vacant mind
Flashed like strong inspiration, and he saw

The thrilling secrets of the birth of time."
During the soul-wrapt enthusiasm of these mystic and magnifi-
cent wanderings, Alastor has no time to fall in love; but we are
given to understand that, wherever he roams, he inspires it. There
is much beauty in this picture.

“ Meanwhile an Arab maiden brought his food,
Her daily portion, from her father's tent,
And spread her matting for his couch, and stole
From duties and repose to tend his steps :
Enamoured, yet not daring for deep awe
To speak her love:-and watched his nightly sleep,
Sleepless herself, to gaze upon his lips
Parted in slumber, whence the regular breath
Of innocent dreams arose: then, when red morn
Made paler the pale moon, to her cold home,

Wildered, and wan, and panting, she returned.”
This poor Arabian maid has no power to detain him.-At last,
as he lies asleep in the loneliest and loveliest dell in the Vale of
Cashmire, a vision comes upon him, bringing with it a dream of
hopes never felt before.

“ He dreamed a veiled maid
Sate near hini, talking in low solemn tones.
Her voice was like the voice of his own soul
Heard in the calın of thought; its music long,
Like woven sounds of streams and breezes, held
His inmost sense suspended in its web
Of many-coloured woof and shifting hues.
Knowledge and truth and virtue were her theme,
And losty hopes of divine liberty,
Thoughts the most dear to him, and poesy,
Herself a poet. Soon the solemn mood
Of her pure mind kindled through all her frame
A permeating fire : wild numbers then
She raised, with voice stifled in tremulous sobs
Subdued by its own pathos : her fair hands
Were bare alone, sweeping from some strange harp
Strange symphony, and in their branching veins
The eloquent blood told an ineffable tale.
The beating of her heart was heard to fill
The pauses of her music, and her breath
Tumultuously accorded with those fits

Of intermitted song.”
In an agony of passion, he grasps the beautiful phantom in his
arms; but awaking in that delirium, finds himself alone in the
now desolate loveliness of nature. A fire is now in his life's blood,
and he is carried along, from clime to clime, on the tempest of his
own soul.
Vol. I.


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“ He wandered on
Till vast Aornos seen from Petra's steep
Hung o'er the low horizon like a cloud.

** A strong impulse urged
His steps to the seashore. A swan was there,
Beside a sluggish stream among the reeds.
It rose as he

approached, and with strong wings
Scaling the upward sky, bent its bright course
High over the immeasurable main.
His eyes pursued its flight.—“Thou hast a home,
Beautiful-bird; thou voyagest to thine home,
Where thy sweet mate will twine her downy neck
With thine, and welcome thy return with eyes
Bright in the lustre of their own fond joy.
And what am I that I should linger here,
With voice far sweeter than thy dying notes,
Spirit more vast than thine, frame more attuned
To beauty, wasting these surpassing powers
In the deaf air, to the blind earth, and heaven

That echoes not my thoughts ?” Just as he finishes his exclamation, he sees a little shallop floating near the shore, and a restless impulse urges him to embark. He sails along in calm or storm, till the shallop is driven into a cavern in the “ ethereal cliffs of Caucasus." It is scarcely to be expected that this submontane voyage should be very distinctly described, and we lose sight of Alastor and his pinnace, in dark and boiling caverns, till we joyfully hail his fortunate re-appear. ance. Some mysterious influences seem breathed from the spirit of nature over Alastor's soul, and its agitation to sink into a sort of melancholy calm. The following description, though rather too much laboured, in the unsatisfied prodigality of opulent youth, is beyond doubt, most highly poetical.

“The meeting boughs and implicated leaves
Wove twilight o'er the Poet's path, as led
By love, or dream, or god, or mightier Death,
He sought in Nature's dearest haunt, some bank,
Her cradle, and his sepulchre. More dark
And dark the shades accumulate. The oak,
Expanding its immense and knotty arms,
Embraces the light beech. The pyramids
Of the tall cedar overarching, frame
Most solemn domes within, and far below,
Like clouds suspended in an emerald sky,
The ash and the acacia floating hang
Tremulous and pale.

* * The woven leaves
Make net-work of the dark blue light of day,
And the night's noontide clearness, mutable
As shapes in the weird clouds. Soft mossy lawns
Beneath these canopies extend their swells,
Fragrant with perfumed herbs, and eyed with blooms
Minute yet beautiful. One darkest glen
Sends from its woods of musk-rose, twined with jasmine,
A soul-dissolving odour, to invite


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