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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
'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
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
of the world's youth ; through the long burning day
The thrilling secrets of the birth of time."
“ Meanwhile an Arab maiden brought his food,
Wildered, and wan, and panting, she returned.”
“ He dreamed a veiled maid
Of intermitted song.”
“ He wandered on
** A strong impulse urged
approached, and with strong wings
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
* * The woven leaves