« ForrigeFortsæt »
is not surprising that the lash of correc. This early and signal discomfiture of tion deservedly applied to the one, the Goliaths of literature, though achievshould, sometimes, inflict an unmerited ed by a stripling, with little more than stripe on the other. "It is not, however, a pebble, was enough to deter less probably, the first instance in which bis doughty champions from bazarding a lordship bas suffered from an impru- conflict. Nor was the effect of this dent connexion.
exploit merely to avert the danger of We have said that his lordship had attack. Whilst the few who bad felt long enjoyed an exemption from the his force, or feared his vigour, were scourge of criticism ; but it was not al- awed at least into respectful silence, the ways so ;nor was the lenity of the many who rejoiced in the defeat of the critics owing to the bumility with vanquished, conspired to extol the which he, at any time, kissed the rod. prowess of the victor :-and, unfortuThe Edinburgh Reviewers frowned nately, bis lordship was weak enough to terribly at the peccadillos of his lord- measure his desert by the scale of their ship’s lisping muse. The venial pue- gratitude. rilities of some juvenile performances, The noble author did not repose long which that eagerness for notoriety that upon bis laurels. He soon made a bold bas been the bane of bis life, impelled experiment upon the strength of his rehim to print, drew down upon him, putation ; which unhappily bore bim out from those obdurate censors, a de- in it. He was able, and his very temerity nunciation that might have daunted a and extravagance were accessary to his veteran. So far, however, from inspir- success, to bring into vogue a new style ing his lordship with diffidence in his of poetry, compared with which every powers, or operating to dissuade himn thing that had preceded it was tame. from bis favourite pursuits, this severity He placed himself at the head of a of reprehension, whilst it inflamed his new school; and the Stagirite never ire, suggested a means of appeasing bis had more disciples. The votaries of wrath. His retort in the satire of the the system, of which Lord Byron was * English Bards and Scotch Reviewers,' the propagator, have ravaged every reafforded him, at once, the gratification gion of fancy, and have erected the of revenge and the eclat of triumph, high places of their monstrous idolatry Its influence was not confined to pro- in groves sacred to the musės. ducing a change in public sentiment; Is there a parson much bemused in beer, but strange as it may seem, it wrought A maudlin poetess, a rhyming peer,
A clerk foredoom'd his father's soul to cross, a prodigious revolution in the minds of w his adversaries. However it may be is there who lock'd from ink and paper scrawls, accounted for, certain it is, that they Withdesperate charcoal,round hisdarken'd walls. suddenly relaxed the austerity of their All, all are imitators of Byron. But features, and bave, ever since, continued one may mimic the contortions of the to smile on bis Jordsbip with the most Sybil,' without catching her inspiracondescending complacency.
tion. Such is the fate of most of the herd
sa stanza when he sho
of Byron's followers. In his lordship's lordship seems to think it is as much wildest incoherence, there is something beneath him to attend to the melody of of poetic frenzy ; and there are inter. his numbers, as it would be below a vals in his raviog :-even his absurdi- great general to step to the air of a ties are rarely ridiculous, and there march. He sacrifices on all occasions, is sometimes, method in his mad- without hesitation, both rhyme and ness.'
rythm to piquancy of phrase. He is But his lordship has entirely lost sight teazing us constantly, too, with hints of the true end of poetry. He has and innuendos at ideas which he cannot stripped her of her dignity. He has define, simply because he does not comdivorced her from reason, and prosti- prehend them. Mystery is a source of tuted her to passion. It used to be the sublime, but not a convertible term considered the province of poetry to for sublimity. inculcate useful truths by pleasing fic. On the whole, his lordship's productions; to instil moral lessons by im- tions leave an impression on the mind, pressive illustrations; to assign, with (which we cannot but suspect that they
poetic justice,' to virtue its reward, and were designed to create,) that the author to vice its punishment; to excite horror is capable of more than he bas perat crime, and sympathy for suffering ; formed. It would seem as if one who in short, to refine the manners, ' to raise could do so well, might do better.-We the genius, and to mend the beart.' Not sincerely hope he may. one of these objects has his lordship ever His lordship is not destitute of amproposed to himself. He has selected bition ; but it is not of the right sort. traitors, seducers, pirates, robbers, mur- He has an inordinate appetite for popuderers, and atheists, as the beroes of larity; but is satisfied with the coarsest bis plots, and bas held them up, if not kind of it. As long as he can procure to the approbation, at least to the com- his daily bread of praise, in return for miseration of his readers. He has, by his fragments of epic and fritters of an incongruous assemblage of inconsist, song, we bave no hope of his addicting ent qualities in the creatures of his himself to more worthy exertions. The imagination, and by throwing into his only chance is, that his readers will pictures an artful and deceptive mix. at last be surfeited with his trash. ture of light and shade, endeavoured As they become fastidious, he will proto dazzle our sight and mislead our bably mend; but whilst be can get even judgment. He has laboured to enlist crumbs of encomium in exchange for our best feelings on the worst side, and to the crudities with which he crowds the entice us to applaud the expression of market, there is no prospect of innsentiments which it would be impious provement in the manufacture of his to entertain.
materials. His • Third Canto of Childe But laying aside the moral of bis fa. Harold,' with its giblets and garnishes, bles, we have objections of no trivial forcibly reminded us of Peter Pindar's nature to his lordship's manner. His exclamation,
Some folks are fond of hearing themselves chat. His friends, indeed, have said that ter,
the noble autbor appropriates no porPromising wine, and giving milk and water, Or that most mawkish mess callid water-gruel,non of these sums to his own use. This is not fair, my lord-'tis very cruel. We know not how the fact may be
Another motive than vanity might, though we should never have thought indeed, be suggested for the inconti- of reproaching any man with receiving nence of his lordship's muse. It came the reward of bis labours, had he not out in evidence, in a recent trial before himself endeavoured to render it opthe Lord Chancellor, on an application probrious. The world, we imagine, for an injunction to restrain the sale of would much more easily forgive his certain poems,* to which the publisher lordship for subsisting on the products had taken the liberty to prefix his lord- of his literary toil, than for squandership's naine to give them currency, that ing the inheritance of his family. The his lordship had received 2000L. from humiliation of vending his verses is his Bookseller, Mr. MURRAY, for the but the consequence of the dilapidation copy.right of the little volume before of his patrimony, and no disgrace in us, and 50001. at different times, on ac- comparison with the alienation of the count of works purchased by him of the venerable monuments of the feudal noble author. This huckstering does grandeur of his house.
correspond with the lofty But we shall gaze, in vain, on the strain of his indignant apostrophe to galaxy of his lordship’s virtues, for any Walter Scott
glimmering of consistency. His chaAnd think'st thou, Scott, by vain conceit per.
er racter is a compound of contrarieties chance,
and his course has been as chequered On public taste to foist thy stale romance, as his character. It is amusing to trace Though Murray with his Miller should com- his meanderings. To-day, he offers
bine Torild the muse just halfea-crown per line? some fruit ol bis fecundity as a tribute No, when the sons of song descend to trade, of gratitude and a testimony of regard Their bays are sear, their former laurels fade. to a noble relative ;*-to-morrow, disaLet guch forego the poets' sacred name,
vows the acknowledgment; and the Who rack their brains for lucre, not for fame; Low may they sink to merited contempt,
third day, recants his revocation. Some. And scorn remunerate the mean attempt; times the process is reversed, and he Such be their meed, such still the just reward, begins with reviling and ends with a Of prostituted muse, and hireling bard!
dedication.t In one breath, he stigmaFor this we spurn Apollo's yenal son,
tizes a man as a dunce, or an ass, and And bid a long Good-night to Marmion.'
If his lordship have incurred his own
the Earl of Carlisle, his guardian; ridiculed him anathema, it is but an exemplification in his Satires ; and confesses, in his third canto of of the old adage.
Childe Harold, that he wronged him.
+ Lord Holland and Thomas Moore were dealt
with after this manner. These spurious poemg, which have been re- . | Mr. Jeffrey, the leading editor of the Edinprinted in this country under Lord Byron's name, burgh Review, to abuse whom, he wrote his Saare Lord Evron's Pilgrimare to the Holy Land, tire, and to gratify whom, he afterwards bought the Tempest, &c. We notice them tó guard up the whole edition, and suppressed it. our readers against the impostute.
Mr. Coleridge: this sentimentad ballade
in the next, admits him to be a scho- of Lord Byron and of his muse, we lar, or commends him as a poet s bould have heard no more, till time,
at least, and meditation, should have Perhaps it will be thought unneces- af
enlarged the soul of the poet, and sary to have lacerated his lordship so mellowed the power of his song. But deeply, in the dissection of his works. a very few months since his Lordship and But the noble author has so identified the public parted in no very pleasant himself with his theme, that it is next mood ; be called them forth not as arto impossible to sever him from bis
bitrators, but as parties in bis domestic
bis feuds ; they obeyed the summons, but subject. Besides, we had an object the cause which they espoused was not jo making an anatomy of his lordship. that of his Lordship; they gave their It has been said, by one whose opinion sentence with justice and enforced it deserves consideration, that none but
hust with spirit; and from that decision,
", after a vain, and, in our opinion, a paltry a good man can be a good orator.' appeal to their worst passions, he fled. the axiom be equally applicable to the We little thought that his Lordship poet, perhaps we have detected the would again have wooed so disdainful a secret of his lordship's failure !-and it mistress, especially when that mistress
bad begun to show some signs of lassimay be useful to point it out.
tude on the endless repetition of the We have protracted, beyond our in- same tedious and disgusting strain. And tention, what we designed merely as ye
as yet bis Lordship informs us,
"I have not loved the world, nor the world me; an introduction to a review wbich we I have not flattered its rank breath, nor bow'd bave extracted from the British Critic.
To its idolatries a patient knee
Nor coined my cheek to smiles-Dor cried aloud In resuming the exercise of those in worship of an echo.” rights which she seemed for a time to
“ This is all vastly indignant and bave abdicated, Criticism enters on the
vastly grand; yet we have now two
witnesses before us who speak a very duties of her office in sullen state, and different language, and we find ten more proceeds to arraign bis lordship for a in Mr. Murray's catalogue, who tell the long arrearage of offences. We would same tale. The man who sends out not be understood as entirely accord. into the world a single poem, the labour
perhaps of years, may affect, with some
el, pretence of probability, to scorn the though we think them nearly as dis- voice of public censure or approbation ; passionate, and quite as just, as such but he who, at intervals only of a few sentences generally are.
months, shall continue to court the ex-'
pectations of the world with the suc. “ We had cherished a hope, that cessive fruits of his poetic talent, not
only exists a pensioner upon public fame, onger, besides being honoured with the epithet but lives even from hand to mouth upon above alluded to, is thus coupled in a stanza with popular applause. another worthy of the same school,
Every poem which Let simple Wordsworth chime his childish
oh he publisbes is a living witness that he
bows to the idolatry of the world a And brother Coleridge lull the babe at nurse.
patient knee, and that he worships the And yet in return for some paltry compliment,
it. very echo which he professes to scorn. his lordship has christened the Christabel," the " The first publication of the noble most puling and drivelling of all • baby-nurse,' Lord which claims our attention is the Coleridge's bantlings, that wild and singularly third part of Childe Harold. original and beautiful poeng."
first and second parts of this poem ap- vastly superior both he and his genius peared before we commenced our criti- are to the common herd of mankind; cal labours, we shall pass no opinion on that he is a being of another and higher their merits, except that they were too order, whose scowl is sublimity, and generally over rated by the fashion of whose frown is majesty. We have the the day. The poem before us is much noble Lord's word for this and for a more likely to find its level. The no- great deal more, and if he would bave ble Lord has made such draughts upon been content with telling us so not more public partiality, that little is now lest than balf a dozen times, to please bim, him but the dregs of a cup which he we would have believed it. But he once fondly thought to be inexhaustible. has pressed so unmercifully, that we The hero of the poem is, as usual, bim- now begin to call for proof, and all self: for he has now so unequivocally the proof we can find is in his own asidentified hiinself with his fictitious hero, sertion. The noble Lord has written that even in his most querulous moods, a few very fine, and a few very pretty le cannot complain of our impertinence verses, which may be selected from a in tracing the resemblance. We really heap of crude, barsh, unpoetical strains; wish that the noble Lord would suppose farther than this we neither know nor that there was some other being in the wish to know of his Lordship's fame. world besides himself, and employ his His Lordship's style, by a fortunate bit, imagination in tracing the lineament of caught the favourable moment in the some oiber character than his own. One turn of the public taste ; his gall was would have imagined that in twelve mistaken for spirit; his affectation for several and successive efforts of bis feeling, and bis harshness for originality. muse, something a little newer than this The world are now growing tired of same inexhaustible self might have been their luminary, and wait only for the invented. Wherever we turn, the same rise of some new meteor, to transfer portrait ineets our eye. We see it now their admiration and applause. The glaring in oils, now sobered in fresco, noble Lord bad talents, which if they now dim in transparency. Sometimes had been duly husbanded, might have it frowns in the turban of the Turk, ensured him a more permanent place sometimes it struts in the buskins and in their estimation. His Lordship never cloak of the Spaniard, and sometimes could have been a Milton, a Dryden, a it descends to fret in its native costume ; Pope, or a Gray, but he might bave but frown, strut, or fret where it will, been a star of the third or fourtb mag. the face is still but one, and the features nitude, whose beams would have shown are still the same. “ Mungo here, even upon posterity with no contempti. Mungo there, Mungo every where." ble lustre. As the matter stands, be We are ever ready to listen with all will now be too late convinced that he due patience to a long story, provi- whose theme is only self, will find at ded it be not too often repeated, but last that self his only audience. . there is really a limit beyond which “ The first sixteen stanzas of the Poem buman patience ceases to be a virtue. before us are dedicated to this one We must come at last to the question, everlasting theme, and contain, like a Wbat is Lord Byron to us, and what repetition pye, nothing more than the have we to do either with his sublimity scraps of his former strains, seasoned or his sulks? It is his poetical not bis rather with the garlic of misanthropy personal character which is the subject than the salt of wit. “ Self-exiled of our criticism, and when the latter is Harold” reaches the plain of Waterloo, so needlessly obtruded upon our aiten- but with a step not inore auspicious tion, it betrays at once poverty of in- than that of preceding poets, who have vention and lack of discretion. The trod that bloody plain. We know not wbat poble Lord is ever informing us how strange fatality attends a theme so sa