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Author: Haney, John Louis
Title: Early Reviews of English Poets
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Title: Early Reviews of English Poets

Author: John Louis Haney

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EARLY REVIEWS

OF

ENGLISH POETS


EDITED WITH AN INTRODUCTION

BY

JOHN LOUIS HANEY, PH.D.

_Assistant Professor of English and History, Central High School,
Philadelphia; Research Fellow in English, University of Pennsylvania_


PHILADELPHIA
THE EGERTON PRESS
1904

COPYRIGHT, 1904
BY JOHN LOUIS HANEY


PRESS OF
THE NEW ERA PRINTING COMPANY,
LANCASTER, PA.




TO

MY FRIEND AND TEACHER

PROFESSOR FELIX E. SCHELLING

OF THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA




PREFACE


"Among the amusing and instructive books that remain to be written, one
of the most piquant would be a history of the criticism with which the
most celebrated literary productions have been greeted on their first
appearance before the world." It is quite possible that when Dr. William
Matthews began his essay on _Curiosities of Criticism_ with these words,
he failed to grasp the full significance of that future undertaking. Mr.
Churton Collins recently declared that "a very amusing and edifying
record might be compiled partly out of a selection of the various
verdicts passed contemporaneously by reviews on particular works, and
partly out of comparisons of the subsequent fortunes of works with their
fortunes while submitted to this censorship." Both critics recognize the
fact that such a volume would be entertaining and instructive; but, from
another point of view, it would also be a somewhat doleful book. Even a
reader of meagre imagination and rude sensibilities could not peruse
such a volume without picturing in his mind the anguish and the
heart-ache which those bitter and often vicious attacks inflicted upon
the unfortunate victims whose works were being assailed.

Authors (particularly sensitive poets) have been at all times the sport
and plaything of the critics. Mrs. Oliphant, in her _Literary History of
England_, said with much truth: "There are few things so amusing as to
read a really 'slashing article'--except perhaps to write it. It is
infinitely easier and gayer work than a well-weighed and serious
criticism, and will always be more popular. The lively and brilliant
examples of the art which dwell in the mind of the reader are
invariably of this class." Thus it happens that we remember the witty
onslaughts of the reviewers, and often ignore the fact that certain
witticisms drove Byron, for example, into a frenzy of anger that called
forth the most vigorous satire of the century; and others so completely
unnerved Shelley that he felt tempted to write no more; and still others
were so unanimously hostile in tone that Coleridge thought the whole
detested tribe of critics was in league against his literary success.
There were, of course, such admirable personalities as Wordsworth's--for
the most part indifferent to the strongest torrent of abuse; and clever
craftsmen like Tennyson, who, although hurt, read the criticisms and
profited by them; but, on the other hand, there are still well-informed
readers who believe that the _Quarterly Review_ at least hastened the
death of poor Keats.

It has been suggested that such a volume of the "choice crudities of
criticism" as is here proposed would likewise fulfill the desirable
purpose of avenging the author upon his ancient enemy, the critic, by
showing how absurd the latter's utterances often are, and what a
veritable farrago of folly those collected utterances can make. We may
rest assured that however much hostile criticism may have pained an
author, it has never inflicted a permanent injury upon a good book. If
there appear to be works that have been thus more or less obscured, the
fault will probably be found not in the critic but in the works
themselves. According to this agreeable theory, which we would all fain
believe, the triumph of the ignorant or malevolent critic cannot endure;
sooner or later the author's merit will be recognized and he will come
into his own.

The present volume does not attempt to fulfill the conditions suggested
by Dr. Matthews and Mr. Collins. A history of contemporary criticism of
famous authors would be a more ambitious undertaking, necessitating an
extensive apparatus of notes and references. It seeks merely to gather a
number of interesting anomalies of criticism--reviews of famous poems
and famous poets differing more or less from the modern consensus of
opinion concerning those poems and their authors. Although most of the
chosen reviews are unfavorable, several others have been selected to
afford evidence of an early appreciation of certain poets. A few
unexpectedly favorable notices, such as the _Monthly Review's_ critique
of Browning's _Sordello_, are printed because they appear to be unique.
The chief criterion in selecting these reviews (apart from the effort to
represent most of the periodicals and the principal poets between Gray
and Browning) has been that of interest to the modern reader. In most
cases, criticisms of a writer's earlier works were preferred as more
likely to be spontaneous and uninfluenced by his growing literary
reputation. Thus the volume does not attempt to trace the development of
English critical methods, nor to supply a hand-book of representative
English criticism; it offers merely a selection of bygone but readable
reviews--what the critics thought, or, in some cases, pretended to
think, of works of poets whom we have since held in honorable esteem.
The short notices and the well-known longer reviews are printed entire;
but considerations of space and interest necessitated excisions in a few
cases, all of which are, of course, properly indicated. The spelling and
punctuation of the original texts have been carefully followed.

The history of English critical journals has not yet been adequately
written. The following introduction offers a rapid survey of the
subject, compiled principally from the sources indicated in the
bibliographical list. I am indebted to Professor Felix E. Schelling of
the University of Pennsylvania, and to Dr. Robert Ellis Thompson and
Professor Albert H. Smyth of the Philadelphia Central High School for
many suggestions that have been of value in writing the introduction.
Dr. Edward Z. Davis examined at my request certain pamphlets in the
British Museum that threw additional light upon the history of the early
reviews. Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach and Professor J.H. Moffatt read the proofs
of the introduction and notes respectively, and suggested several
noteworthy improvements.

J.L.H.

CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL,
PHILADELPHIA.




CONTENTS


Preface                                                       vii
Introduction                                                 xiii
Bibliography                                                  lvi

REVIEWS

GRAY       Odes (_Monthly Review_)                              1
GOLDSMITH  The Traveller (_Critical Review_)                    5
COWPER     Poems, 1782 (_Critical Review_)                     10
BURNS      Poems, 1786 (_Edinburgh Magazine_)                  13
           Poems, 1786 (_Critical Review_)                     15
WORDSWORTH Descriptive Sketches (_Monthly Review_)             16
           An Evening Walk (_Monthly Review_)                  19
           Lyrical Ballads (_Critical Review_)                 20
           Poems, 1807 (_Edinburgh Review_)                    24
COLERIDGE  Christabel (_Edinburgh Review_)                     47
SOUTHEY    Madoc (_Monthly Review_)                            60
LAMB       Blank Verse (_Monthly Review_)                      65
           Album Verses (_Literary Gazette_)                   66
LANDOR     Gebir (_British Critic_)                            68
           Gebir (_Monthly Review_)                            69
SCOTT      Marmion (_Edinburgh Review_)                        70
BYRON      Hours of Idleness (_Edinburgh Review_)              94
           Childe Harold (_Christian Observer_)               101
SHELLEY    Alastor (_Monthly Review_)                         115
           The Cenci (_London Magazine_)                      116
           Adonais (_Literary Gazette_)                       129
KEATS      Endymion (_Quarterly Review_)                      135
           Endymion (_Blackwood's Magazine_)                  141
TENNYSON   Timbuctoo (_Athenaeum_)                             151
           Poems, 1833 (_Quarterly Review_)                   152
           The Princess (_Literary Gazette_)                  176
BROWNING   Paracelsus (_Athenaeum_)                            187
           Sordello (_Monthly Review_)                        188
           Men and Women (_Saturday Review_)                  189

Notes                                                         197
Index                                                         223




INTRODUCTION


To the modern reader, with an abundance of periodicals of all sorts and
upon all subjects at hand, it seems hardly possible that this wealth of
ephemeral literature was virtually developed within the past two
centuries. It offers such a rational means for the dissemination of the
latest scientific and literary news that the mind undeceived by facts
would naturally place the origin of the periodical near the invention of
printing itself. Apart from certain sporadic manifestations of what is
termed, by courtesy, periodical literature, the real beginning of that
important department of letters was in the innumerable _Mercurii_ that
flourished in London after the outbreak of the Civil War. Although the
_British Museum Catalogue_ presents a long list of these curious
messengers and news-carriers, the only one that could be of interest in
the present connection is the _Mercurius Librarius; or a Catalogue of
Books Printed and Published at London_[A] (1668-70), the contents of
which simply fulfilled the promise of its title.

Literary journals in England were, however, not a native development,
but were copied, like the fashions and artistic norms of that period,
from the French. The famous and long-lived _Journal des Scavans_ was
begun at Paris in 1665 by M. Denis de Sallo, who has been called, since
the time of Voltaire, the "inventor" of literary journals. In 1684
Pierre Bayle began at Amsterdam the publication of _Nouvelles de la
Republique des Lettres_, which continued under various hands until
1718. These French periodicals were the acknowledged inspiration for
similar ventures in England, beginning in 1682 with the _Weekly Memorial
for the Ingenious: or an Account of Books lately set forth in Several
Languages, with some other Curious Novelties relating to Arts and
Sciences_. The preface stated the intention of the publishers to notice
foreign as well as domestic works, and to transcribe the "curious
novelties" from the _Journal des Scavans_. Fifty weekly numbers appeared
(1682-83), consisting principally of translations of the best articles
in the French journal.

A few years later (1686), the Genevan theologian, Jean Le Clerc, then a
resident of London, established the _Universal Historical Bibliotheque;
or, an Account of most of the Considerable Books printed in All
Languages_, which was continued by various hands until 1693 in a series
of twenty-five quarto volumes. Contemporary with this review was a
number of similar publications which had for the most part a brief
existence. Among them was the _Athenian Mercury_, published on Tuesdays
and Saturdays (1691-1696), the _History of Learning_, which appeared for
a short time in 1691 and again in 1694; _Works of the Learned_
(1691-92); the _Young Student's Library_ (1692) and its continuation,
the _Compleat Library_ (1692-94); _Memoirs for the Ingenious_ (1693);
the _Universal Mercury_ (1694) and _Miscellaneous Letters, etc._
(1694-96). Samuel Parkes includes among the reviews of this period Sir
Thomas Pope Blount's remarkable _Censura Celebrium Authorum_ (1690).
That popular bibliographical dictionary of criticism (reprinted 1694,
1710 and 1718) is only remembered now for its omission of Shakespeare,
Spenser, Jonson and Milton from its list of "celebrated authors."
Neither that volume nor the same author's _De Re Poetica_ (1694) finds a
proper place in a list of periodicals. They should be grouped with such
works as Phillips' _Theatrum Poetarum_ (1675) and Langbaine's _Account
of the English Dramatic Poets_ (1691) among the more deliberate attempts
at literary criticism.

Between 1692-94 appeared the _Gentleman's Journal; or, the Monthly
Miscellany. Consisting of News, History, Philosophy, Poetry, Music,
Translations, etc._ This noteworthy paper, edited by Peter Anthony
Motteux while he was translating Rabelais, included among its
contributors Aphra Behn, Oldmixon, Dennis, D'Urfey and others. In many
ways it anticipated the plan of the _Gentleman's Magazine_ (1731), which
has usually been accorded the honor of priority among English literary
magazines. The _History of the Works of the Learned; or, an Impartial
Account of Books lately printed in all Parts of Europe_ was begun in
1699 and succumbed after the publication of its thirteenth volume
(1711). Among its editors was George Ridpath, who was afterwards
immortalized in Pope's _Dunciad_. The careers of the _Monthly
Miscellany_ (1707-09) and _Censura Temporum_ (1709-10) were brief. About
the same time an extensive series of periodicals was begun by a Huguenot
refugee, Michael De la Roche, who fled to England after the revocation
of the Edict of Nantes and became an Episcopalian. After several years
of hack-work for the booksellers, he published (1710) the first numbers
of his _Memoirs of Literature, containing a Weekly Account of the State
of Learning at Home and Abroad_, which he continued until 1714 and for a
few months in 1717. In the latter year he began at Amsterdam his
_Bibliotheque Angloise_ (1717-27), continued by his _Memoires
Litteraires de la Grande Bretagne_ (1720-1724) after the editorship of
the former had been placed in other hands on account of his pronounced
anti-Calvinistic views. At Amsterdam, Daniel Le Clerc, a brother of the
Jean Le Clerc already mentioned, published his _Bibliotheque Choisee_
(1703-14) and his _Bibliotheque Ancienne et Moderne_ (1714-28). Both of
these periodicals suggested numerous ideas to De la Roche, who returned
to London and conducted the _New Memoirs of Literature_ (1725-27). His
last venture was a _Literary Journal, or a Continuation of the Memoirs
of Literature_, which lasted about a year.

Contemporary with De la Roche, Samuel Jebb conducted _Bibliotheca
Literaria_ (1722-24), dealing with "inscriptions, medals, dissertations,
etc." In 1728 Andrew Reid began the _Present State of the Republick of
Letters_, which reached its eighteenth volume in 1736. It was then
incorporated with the _Literary Magazine; or the History of the Works of
the Learned_ (1735-36) and the joint periodical was henceforth published
as a _History of the Works of the Learned_ until 1743. Other less
extensive literary journals of the same period were Archibald Bower's
_Historia Literaria_ (1730-34); the _Bee; or, Universal Weekly Pamphlet_
(1733-35), edited by Addison's cousin, Eustace Budgell; the _British
Librarian, exhibiting a Compendious Review or Abstract of our most
Scarce, Useful and Valuable Books, etc._, published anonymously by the
antiquarian William Oldys, from January to June, 1737, and much esteemed
by modern bibliophiles as a pioneer and a curiosity of its kind; a
_Literary Journal_ (1744-49) published at Dublin; and, finally, the
_Museum; or the Literary and Historical Register_. This interesting
periodical printed essays, poems and reviews by such contributors as
Spence, Horace Walpole, the brothers Warton, Akenside, Lowth and others.
It was published fortnightly from March, 1746 to September, 1747, making
three octavo volumes.

The periodicals enumerated thus far can hardly be regarded as literary
in the modern acceptation of the term; they were, for the most part,
ponderous, learned and scientific in character, and, with the exception
of the _Gentleman's Journal_ and Dodsley's _Museum_, rarely ventured
into the domain of _belles-lettres_. An occasional erudite dissertation
on classical poetry or on the French canons of taste suggested a
literary intent, but the bulk of the journals was supplied by articles
on natural history, curious experiments, physiological treatises and
historical essays. During the latter half of the eighteenth century
theological and political writings, and accounts of travels in distant
lands became the staple offering of the reviews.

A new era in the history of English periodicals was marked by the
publication, on May 1, 1749, of the first number of the _Monthly
Review_, destined to continue through ninety-six years of varying
fortune and to reach its 249th volume. It bore the subtitle: _A
Periodical Work giving an Account, with Proper Abstracts of, and
Extracts from, the New Books, Pamphlets, etc., as they come out. By
Several Hands._ The publisher was Ralph Griffiths, who continued to
manage the review until his death in 1803. It seems remarkable that this
periodical which set the norm for half a century should have appeared
not only without preface or advertisement, but likewise without
patronage or support of any kind. From the first it reviewed poetry,
fiction and drama as well as the customary classes of applied
literature, and thus appealed primarily to the public rather than, like
most of its predecessors, to the learned. Its politics were Whig and its
theology Non-conformist. Griffiths was not successful at first, but
determined to achieve popularity by enlisting Ruffhead, Kippis,
Langhorne and several other minor writers on his critical staff. In
1757 Oliver Goldsmith became one of those unfortunate hacks as a result
of his well-known agreement with Griffiths to serve as an
assistant-editor in exchange for his board, lodging and "an adequate
salary." About a score of miscellaneous reviews from Goldsmith's
pen--including critiques of Home's _Douglas_, Burke's _On the Sublime
and the Beautiful_, Smollett's _History of England_ and Gray's
_Odes_--appeared in the _Monthly Review_ during 1757-58. The contract
with Griffiths was soon broken, probably on account of incompatibility
of temper. Goldsmith declared that he had been over-worked and badly
treated; but it is quite likely that his idleness and irregular habits
contributed largely to the misunderstanding.

Meanwhile, a Tory rival and a champion of the Established Church had
appeared on the field. A printer named Archibald Hamilton projected the
_Critical Review: or, Annals of Literature. By a Society of Gentlemen_,
which began to appear in February, 1756, under the editorship of Tobias
Smollett and extended to a total of 144 volumes when it ceased
publication in 1817. Its articles were of a high order for the time and
the new review soon became popular. The open rivalry between the reviews
was fostered by an exchange of editorial compliments. Griffiths
published a statement that the _Monthly_ was not written by "physicians
without practice, authors without learning, men without decency,
gentlemen without manners, and critics without judgment." Smollett
retorted that "the _Critical Review_ is not written by a parcel of
obscure hirelings, under the restraint of a bookseller and his wife, who
presume to revise, alter and amend the articles occasionally. The
principal writers in the _Critical Review_ are unconnected with
booksellers, unawed by old women, and independent of each other." Such
literary encounters did not fail to stimulate public interest in both
reviews and to add materially to their circulation.

When the first volume of the _Critical Review_ was complete, the
"Society of Gentlemen" enriched it with an ornate, self-congratulatory
Preface in which they said of themselves:

     "However they may have erred in judgment, they have declared their
     thoughts without prejudice, fear, or affectation; and strove to
     forget the author's person, while his works fell under their
     consideration. They have treated simple dulness as the object of
     mirth or compassion, according to the nature of its appearance.
     Petulance and self-conceit they have corrected with more severe
     strictures; and though they have given no quarter to insolence,
     scurrility and sedition, they will venture to affirm, that no
     production of merit has been defrauded of its due share of
     applause. On the contrary, they have cherished with commendation,
     the very faintest bloom of genius, even when vapid and unformed, in
     hopes of its being warmed into flavour, and afterwards producing
     agreeable fruit by dint of proper care and culture; and never,
     without reluctance disapproved, even of a bad writer, who had the
     least title to indulgence. The judicious reader will perceive that
     their aim has been to exhibit a succinct plan of every performance;
     to point out the most striking beauties and glaring defects; to
     illustrate their remarks with proper quotations; and to convey
     these remarks in such a manner, as might best conduce to the
     entertainment of the public."

Moreover, these high ideals were entertained under the most unfavorable
circumstances. By the time the second volume was complete, the editors
took pleasure in announcing that in spite of "open assault and private
assassination," "published reproach and printed letters of abuse,
distributed like poisoned arrows in the dark," yea, in spite of the
"breath of secret calumny" and the "loud blasts of obloquy," the
_Critical Review_ was more strongly entrenched than before.

There was more than mere rhodomontade in these words. Not only did open
rivalry exist between the two reviews, but they were both made the
subject of violent attacks by authors whose productions had been
condemned on their pages. John Brine (1755), John Shebbeare (1757),
Horace Walpole (1759), William Kenrick (1759), James Grainger (1759) and
Joseph Reed (1759) are the earliest of the many writers who issued
pamphlets in reply to articles in the reviews. In 1759 Smollett was
tried at the King's Bench for aspersions upon the character of Admiral
Sir Charles Knowles published in the _Critical Review_. He was declared
guilty, fined L100, and sentenced to three months' imprisonment. Yet in
spite of such difficulties, the _Critical Review_ continued to find
favor among its readers. The articles written by its "Society of
Gentlemen" were on the whole far more interesting in subject and
treatment than the work of Griffiths' unfortunate hacks; but the
_Monthly_ was also prospering, as in 1761 a fourth share in that review
was sold for more than L755.

In 1760 appeared a curious anonymous satire entitled _The Battle of the
Reviews_, which presented, upon the model of Swift's spirited account of
the contest between ancient and modern learning, a fantastic description
of the open warfare between the two reviews. After a formal declaration
of hostilities both sides marshal their forces for the struggle. The
"noble patron" of the _Monthly_ is but slightly disguised as the Right
Honourable Rehoboam Gruffy, Esq. His associates Sir Imp Brazen, Mynheer
Tanaquil Limmonad, Martin Problem, and others were probably recognized
by contemporary readers. To oppose this array the _Critical_ summons a
force that contains only two names of distinction, Sampson MacJackson
and Sawney MacSmallhead (_i.e._, Smollett). The ensuing battle, which is
described at great length, results in a victory for the _Critical
Review_, and the banishment of Squire Gruffy to the land of the
Hottentots.

Dr. Johnson's well-known characterization of the two reviews was quite
just. On the occasion of his memorable interview (1767) with George III,
Johnson gave the King information concerning the _Journal des Savans_
and said of the two English reviews that "the _Monthly Review_ was done
with most care; the _Critical_ upon the best principles; adding that the
authors of the _Monthly Review_ were enemies to the Church." Some years
later Johnson said of the reviews:

     "I think them very impartial: I do not know an instance of
     partiality.... The Monthly Reviewers are not Deists; but they are
     Christians with as little Christianity as may be; and are for
     pulling down all establishments. The Critical Reviewers are for
     supporting the constitution both in church and state. The Critical
     Reviewers, I believe, often review without reading the books
     through; but lay hold of a topick and write chiefly from their own
     minds. The Monthly Reviewers are duller men and are glad to read
     the books through."

Goldsmith's successor on the _Monthly_ staff was the notorious libeller
and "superlative scoundrel," Dr. William Kenrick, who signalized his
advent (November, 1759) by writing an outrageous attack upon Goldsmith's
_Enquiry into the Present State of Polite Learning in Europe_. His
utterances were so thoroughly unjustified that Griffiths, who had scant
reason for praising poor Oliver, made an indirect apology for his
unworthy minion by a favorable though brief review (June, 1762) of _The
Citizen of the World_. During 1759 the _Critical Review_ published a
number of Goldsmith's articles which probably enabled the impecunious
author to effect his removal from the garret in Salisbury Square to the
famous lodgings in Green Arbour Court. After March, 1760, we find no
record of his association with either review, although he afterwards
wrote for the _British Magazine_ and others.

During the latter half of the century several reviews appeared and
flourished for a time without serious damage to their well-established
rivals. The _Literary Magazine; or Universal Review_ (1756-58) is
memorable for Johnson's cooeperation and a half-dozen articles by
Goldsmith. Boswell tells us that Johnson wrote for the magazine until
the fifteenth number and "that he never gave better proofs of the force,
acuteness and vivacity of his mind, than in this miscellany, whether we
consider his original essays, or his reviews of the works of others."
The _London Review of English and Foreign Literature_ (1775-80) was
conducted by the infamous Kenrick and others who faithfully maintained
the editor's well-recognized policy of vicious onslaught and personal
abuse. Paul Henry Maty, an assistant-librarian of the British Museum,
conducted for five years a _New Review_ (1782-86), often called _Maty's
Review_, and dealing principally with learned works. It apparently
enjoyed some authority, but both Walpole and Gibbon spoke unfavorably of
Maty's critical pretensions. _The English Review; or, an Abstract of
English and Foreign Literature_ (1783-96), extended to twenty-eight
volumes modelled upon the plan of the older periodicals. In 1796 it was
incorporated with the _Analytical Review_ (1788) and survived under the
latter title until 1799. The _Analytical Review_ deprecated the
self-sufficient attitude of contemporary criticism and advocated
extensive quotations from the works under consideration so that readers
might be able to judge for themselves. It likewise hinted at the tacit
understanding then existing between certain authors, publishers and
reviews for their mutual advantage, but which was arousing a growing
feeling of distrust on the part of the public. The _British Critic_
(1793-1843) was edited by William Beloe and Robert Nares as the organ of
the High Church Party. This "dull mass of orthodoxy" concerned itself
extensively with literary reviews; but its articles were best known for
their lack of interest and authority. The foibles of the _British
Critic_ were satirized in Bishop Copleston's _Advice to a Young
Reviewer_ (1807) with an appended mock critique of Milton's _L'Allegro_.
In 1826 it was united with the _Quarterly Theological Review_ and
continued until 1843.

_The Anti-Jacobin Review and Magazine; or, Monthly Political and
Literary Censor_ (1799-1821) played a strenuous role in the troublous
times of the Napoleonic wars. It continued the policy of the
_Anti-Jacobin, or Weekly Examiner_ (1797-98) conducted with such marked
vigor by William Gifford, but it numbered among its contributors none of
the brilliant men whose witty verses for the weekly paper are still read
in the popular _Poetry of the Anti-Jacobin_. The _Review_ was conducted
by John Richards Green, better known as John Gifford. Its articles were
at times sensational in character, viciously abusing writers of known or
suspected republican sentiments. From its pages could be culled a new
series of "Beauties of the Anti-Jacobin" which for sheer vituperation
and relentless abuse would be without a rival among such anthologies.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the principal reviews in
course of publication were the _Monthly_, the _Critical_, the _British
Critic_, and the _Anti-Jacobin_. The latter was preeminently vulgar in
its appeal, the _Critical_ had lost its former prestige, and the other
two had never risen above a level of mediocrity. There was more than a
lurking suspicion that these periodicals were, to a certain extent,
booksellers' organs, quite unreliable on account of the partial and
biassed criticisms which they offered the dissatisfied public. The time
was evidently ripe for a new departure in literary reviews--for the
establishment of a trustworthy critical journal, conducted by capable
editors and printing readable notices of important books. People were
quite willing to have an unfortunate author assailed and flayed for
their entertainment; but they did not care to be deceived by laudatory
criticisms that were inspired by the publisher's name instead of the
intrinsic merits of the work itself.

Such was the state of affairs when Francis Jeffrey, Henry Brougham and
Sydney Smith launched the _Edinburgh Review_ in 1802, choosing a name
that had been borne in 1755-56 by a short-lived semi-annual review.
There were several significant facts associated with the new enterprise.
It was the first important literary periodical to be published beyond
the metropolis. It was the first review to appear quarterly--an interval
that most contemporary journalists would have condemned as too long for
a successful review. Moreover, it was conducted upon an entirely
different principle than any previous review; by restricting its
attention to the most important works of each quarter, it gave extensive
critiques of only a few books in each number and thus avoided the
multitude of perfunctory notices that had made previous reviews so
dreary and unreadable.

The idea of founding the _Edinburgh Review_ was apparently suggested by
Sydney Smith in March, 1802. Jeffrey and Francis Horner were his
immediate associates; but during the period of preparation Henry
Brougham, Dr. Thomas Brown, Dr. John Thomson and others became
interested. After some delay, the first number appeared on October 10,
1802, containing among its twenty-nine articles three by Brougham, five
by Horner, six by Jeffrey and nine by Smith. Although there was a
slight feeling of disappointment over the mild political tone of the new
review, its success was immediate. The edition of 750 copies was
speedily disposed of, and within a month a second edition of equal size
was printed. There was no regular editor at first, although the
publication of the first three numbers was practically superintended by
Smith. Afterwards Jeffrey became editor at a salary of L300. He had
previously written some articles (including a critique of Southey's
_Thalaba_) for the _Monthly Review_ and was pessimistic enough to
anticipate an early failure for the new venture. However, at the time he
assumed control (July, 1803) the circulation was 2500, and within five
years it reached 8,000 or 9,000 copies. Jeffrey's articles were
recognized and much admired; but the success of the _Edinburgh_ was due
to its independent tone and general excellence rather than to the
individual contributions of its editor. Its prosperity enabled the
publishers to offer the contributors attractive remuneration for their
articles, thus assuring the cooeperation of specialists and of the most
capable men of letters of the day. At the outset, ten guineas per sheet
were paid; later sixteen became the minimum, and the average ranged from
twenty to twenty-five guineas. When we recall that the _Critical Review_
paid two, and the _Monthly Review_ sometimes four guineas per sheet, we
can readily understand the distinctly higher standard of the _Edinburgh
Review_.

Horner left Scotland for London in 1803 to embark upon a political
career. During the next six years occasional articles from his pen--less
than a score in all--appeared in the review. Smith and Brougham likewise
left Edinburgh in 1803 and 1805 respectively; but they ably supported
Jeffrey by sending numerous contributions for many years. During the
first quarter-century of the review's existence, this trio, with the
cooeperation of Sir James Mackintosh and a few others, constituted the
mainstay of its success. Jeffrey's remarkable critical faculty was
displayed to best advantage in the wide range of articles (two hundred
in number) which he wrote during his editorship. It is true that his
otherwise sound judgment was unable to grasp the significance of the new
poetic movement of his day, and that his best remembered efforts are the
diatribes against the Lake Poets. Hence, in the eyes of the modern
literary dilettante, he figures as a misguided, domineering Zoilus whose
mission in life was to heap ridicule upon the poetical efforts of
Wordsworth, Coleridge and the lesser disciples of romanticism.

There are in the early volumes of the _Edinburgh_ no more conspicuous
qualities than that air of vivacity and graceful wit, so thoroughly
characteristic of Sydney Smith. The reader who turns to those early
numbers may be disappointed in the literary quality of the average
article, for he will instinctively and unfairly make comparison with
more recent standards, instead of considering the immeasurably inferior
conditions that had previously prevailed; but we may safely assert that
the majority of Smith's articles can be read with interest to-day. He
was sufficiently sedate and serious when occasion demanded; yet at all
times he delighted in the display of his native and sparkling humor.
Although most of his important articles have been collected, far too
much of his work lies buried in that securest of literary
sepulchres--the back numbers of a critical review.

Henry Brougham at first wrote the scientific articles for the
_Edinburgh_. Soon his ability to deal with a wide range of subjects was
recognized and he proved the most versatile of the early reviewers. In
the first twenty numbers are eighty articles from his pen. A story that
does not admit of verification attributes to Brougham a whole number of
the _Edinburgh_, including an article on lithotomy and another on
Chinese music. Later he became especially distinguished for his
political articles, and remained a contributor long after Jeffrey and
Smith had withdrawn. A comparatively small portion of his _Edinburgh_
articles was reprinted (1856) in three volumes.

Although the young men who guided the early fortunes of the review were
Whigs, the _Edinburgh_ was not (as is generally believed) founded as a
Whig organ. In fact, the political complexion of their articles was so
subdued that even stalwart Tories like Walter Scott did not refrain from
contributing to its pages. Scott's _Marmion_ was somewhat sharply
reviewed by Jeffrey in April, 1808, and in the following October
appeared the article by Jeffrey and Brougham upon Don Pedro Cevallos'
_French Usurpation of Spain_. The pronounced Whiggism of that critique
led to an open rupture with the Tory contributors. Scott, who was no
longer on the best terms with Constable, the publisher of the
_Edinburgh_, declared that henceforth he could neither receive nor read
the review. He proposed to John Murray--then of Fleet Street--the
founding of a Tory quarterly in London as a rival to the northern review
that had thus far enjoyed undisputed possession of the field, because it
afforded "the only valuable literary criticism which can be met with."
Murray, who had already entertained the idea of establishing such a
review, naturally welcomed the prospect of so powerful an ally. Like a
good Tory, Scott felt that the "flashy and bold character of the
_Edinburgh's_ politics was likely to produce an indelible impression
upon the youth of the country." He ascertained that William Gifford,
formerly editor of the _Anti-Jacobin_ newspaper, was willing to take
charge of the new review, which Scott desired to be not exclusively nor
principally political, but a "periodical work of criticism conducted
with equal talent, but upon sounder principle than that which had gained
so high a station in the world of letters."

In February, 1809, appeared the first number of the _Quarterly Review_.
Three of its articles were by Scott, who continued to contribute for
some time and whose advice was frequently sought by both editor and
publisher. Canning, Ellis, and others who had written for the then
defunct _Anti-Jacobin_ became interested in the _Quarterly_; but the
principal contributors for many years were Robert Southey, John Wilson
Croker and Sir John Barrow. This trio contributed an aggregate of almost
five hundred articles to the _Quarterly_. In spite of its high standard,
the new venture was a financial failure for at least the first two
years; later, especially in the days of Tory triumph after the overthrow
of Napoleon, the _Quarterly_ flourished beyond all expectation.
Gifford's salary as editor was raised from the original L200 to L900;
for many years Southey was paid L100 for each article. Gifford was
distinctly an editor of the old school, with well-defined ideas of his
official privilege of altering contributed articles to suit himself--a
weakness that likewise afflicted Francis Jeffrey. While it appears that
Gifford wrote practically nothing for the review and that the savage
_Endymion_ article so persistently attributed to him was really the work
of Croker, he was an excellent manager and conducted the literary
affairs of the _Quarterly_ with considerable skill. His lack of system
and of business qualifications, however, resulted in the frequently
irregular appearance of the early numbers.

On account of his failing health, Gifford resigned the editorship of the
_Quarterly_ in 1824, and was succeeded by John Taylor Coleridge, whose
brief and unimportant administration served merely to fill the gap until
an efficient successor for Gifford could be found. The choice fell upon
Scott's son-in-law, John Gibson Lockhart, who, from 1825 to 1853, proved
to be a most capable editor. The subsequent history of the review under
Whitwell Elwin (1853-1860), William Macpherson (1860-1867), Sir William
Smith (1867-1893), Mr. Rowland Prothero (1894-1899) and the latter's
brother, Mr. George Prothero, the present editor, naturally lies beyond
the purposes of this introduction.

The period of Lockhart's editorship of the _Quarterly_ was likewise the
golden epoch of the _Edinburgh_. Sydney Smith's contributions ceased
about 1828. In the following year Jeffrey was elected Dean of the
Faculty of Advocates. He felt that the tenure of his new dignity
demanded the relinquishment of the editorship of an independent literary
and political review; accordingly, after editing the ninety-eighth
number of the _Edinburgh_, he retired in favor of Macvey Napier, who had
been a contributor since 1805. Napier conducted the review with great
success from 1829 until his death in 1847. His policy was to prefer
shorter articles than those printed when he assumed control. At first,
each number contained from fifteen to twenty-five articles; but the
growing length and importance of the political contributions had reduced
the average to ten. The return to the original policy naturally resulted
in a greater variety of purely literary articles.

Macaulay had begun his association with the _Edinburgh_ by his
remarkable essay on _Milton_ in 1825--a bold, striking piece of
criticism, full of the fire of youth, which established his literary
reputation and gave a renewed impetus to the already prosperous review.
During Napier's editorship he contributed his essays on _Croker's
Boswell_, _Hampden_, _Burleigh_, _Horace Walpole_, _Lord Chatham_,
_Bacon_, _Clive_, _Hastings_ and many others. Napier experienced some
difficulty in steering a middle course for the review between Lord
Brougham, who sought to use its pages to further his own political
ambitions, and Macaulay, who vigorously denounced the procedure. The
_Edinburgh_ was no longer conspicuous among its numerous contemporaries;
but the literary quality was much higher than at first. Among the other
famous contributors of this period were Carlyle, John Stuart Mill,
Thackeray, Bulwer, Hallam, Sir William Hamilton and many others. This
was undoubtedly the greatest period in the history of the review. Its
power in Whig politics is shown by the fact that Lord Melbourne and Lord
John Russell sought to make it the organ of the government.

Napier's successor in 1847 was William Empson, who had contributed to
the _Edinburgh_ since 1823 and who held the editorship until his demise
in 1852. Next followed Sir George Cornewall Lewis, who, however,
resigned in 1855 to become Chancellor of the Exchequer in Lord
Palmerston's cabinet. During his regime he wrote less than a score of
articles for the review. His immediate successor was the late Henry
Reeve, whose forty years of faithful service until his death in 1895
brings the review practically to our own day. When Reeve began his
duties by editing No. 206 (April, 1855) Lord Brougham was the only
survivor of the contributors to the original number. In 1857, when a
discussion arose between editor and publisher concerning the
denunciatory attitude assumed by the review toward Lord Palmerston's
ministry, Reeve drew up a list of his contributors at that time,
including Bishop (afterwards Archbishop) Tait, George Grote, John
Forster, M. Guizot, the Duke of Argyll, Rev. Canon Moseley, George S.
Venables, Richard Monckton Milnes and a score of others--most of them
"names of the highest honour and the most consistent adherence to
Liberal principles." Within the four decades that followed, the
personnel of the review has made another almost complete change. A new
group of contributors, under the editorship of Hon. Arthur R.D. Elliot,
is now striving to maintain the standards of old "blue and yellow." A
caustic note in the (1890) Annual Index of _Review of Reviews_ said of
the _Edinburgh_:

     "It has long since subsided into a respectable exponent of high and
     dry Whiggery, which in these later days has undergone a further
     degeneration or evolution into Unionism.... Audacity, wit,
     unconventionality, enthusiasm--all these qualities have long since
     evaporated, and with them has disappeared the political influence
     of the _Edinburgh_."

The two great rivals which are now reaching their centenary[B] are still
the most prominent, in fact the only well-known literary quarterlies of
England. During their life-time many quarterlies have risen, flourished
for a time and perished. The _Westminster Review_, founded 1824, by
Jeremy Bentham, appeared under the editorship of Sir John Bowring and
Henry Southern. As the avowed organ of the Radicals it lost no time in
assailing (principally through the vigorous pens of James Mill and John
Stuart Mill) both the _Edinburgh_ and the _Quarterly_. In 1836 Sir
William Molesworth's recently established _London Review_ was united
with the _Westminster_, and, after several changes of joint title,
continued since 1851 as the _Westminster Review_. Since 1887 it has been
published as a monthly of Liberal policy and "high-class philosophy."
The _Dublin Review_ (London, 1836) still continues quarterly as a Roman
Catholic organ; similarly the _London Quarterly Review_, a Wesleyan
organ, has been published since 1853. Of the quarterlies now defunct, it
will suffice to mention the dissenting _Eclectic Review_ (1805-68) owned
and edited for a time by Josiah Conder; the _British Review_ (1811-25);
the _Christian Remembrancer_ (1819-68), which was a monthly during its
early history; the _Retrospective Review_ (1820-26, 1853-54) conducted
by Henry Southern and afterwards Sir Nicholas Harris Nicolas as a
critical review for old and curious books; the _English Review_
(1844-53); and the _North British Review_ (1844-71), published at
Edinburgh. The impulse toward the study of continental literature during
the third decade of the century gave rise to the _Foreign Quarterly
Review_ (1827-46); the _Foreign Review and Continental Miscellany_
(1828-30) and the _British and Foreign Review_ (1835-44), continued as
the _British Quarterly Review_ (1845-86).

A most determined effort to rival the older quarterlies resulted in the
_National Review_, founded in 1855 by Walter Bagehot and Richard Holt
Hutton. Its articles were exhaustive, well-written and thoroughly
characteristic of their class. In addition to the excellent work of both
editors, there were contributions by James Martineau, Matthew Arnold,
and Hutton's brother-in-law, William Caldwell Roscoe. Yet, in spite of
the high standards maintained until the end, the _National_ ceased
publication in 1864. The many failures in this class of periodicals seem
to indicate quite clearly that the spirit of the age no longer favors a
quarterly. For our energetic and progressive era such an interval is too
long. The confirmed admirer of the elaborate essays of the _Edinburgh_
and the _Quarterly_ will continue to welcome their bulky numbers; but
the average reader is strongly prejudiced in favor of the more frequent,
more attractive and more thoroughly entertaining monthlies.

It is one of the curiosities in the history of periodical literature
that no popular monthly developed during the first half of the
nineteenth century: the great quarterlies apparently usurped the entire
field. We have already seen that the _Critical Review_ came to an end in
1817 whilst the _Monthly_ continued until 1843. In both cases, however,
the publication amounted to little more than a sheer struggle for
existence. The _Monthly's_ attempt to imitate in a smaller way the plan
of the quarterlies proved an unqualified failure. Neither of the two
periodicals established at the beginning of the century ever achieved a
position of critical authority. The _Christian Observer_, started (1802)
by Josiah Pratt and conducted by Zachary Macaulay until 1816, was
devoted mainly to the abolition of the slave-trade. Its subsequent
history until its demise in 1877 is confined almost wholly to the
theological pale. The second periodical was the _Monthly Repository of
Theology and General Literature_ (1806-37), which achieved some literary
prominence for a time under the editorship of W.J. Fox. During the last
two years of its existence, Richard Hengist Horne and Leigh Hunt became
its successive editors, but failed to avert the final collapse.

It would be useless to enumerate the many short-lived attempts, such as
the _Monthly Censor_ (1822) and Longman's _Monthly Chronicle_ (1838-41)
that were made to provide a successful monthly review. The first of the
modern literary monthlies was the _Fortnightly Review_, established in
1865, evidently upon the model of _Revue des Deux Mondes_, which had
been published at Paris since 1831. Like the great French periodical,
it was issued fortnightly (at first) and printed signed articles. It was
Liberal in politics, agnostic in religion and abreast of the times in
science. The publishers, Messrs. Chapman and Hall, secured an
experienced editor in George Henry Lewes, who had contributed
extensively to most of the reviews then in progress. The success of the
new review was assured by the presence of such names as Walter Bagehot,
George Eliot, Sir John Herschel, Mr. Frederic Harrison and Herbert
Spencer on its list of contributors. It provided articles of timely
interest in politics, literature, art and science; in its early volumes
appeared serially Anthony Trollope's _Belton Estate_ and Mr. George
Meredith's _Vittoria_.

Lewes edited the first six volumes, covering the years 1865-66. The
review was then made a monthly without, however, changing its now
inappropriate name, and the editorship was accepted by Mr. John Morley,
who conducted the _Fortnightly_ with great success for sixteen years.
Most of the earlier contributors were retained; others like Mr.
Swinburne, J.A. Symonds, Professor Edward Dowden and (Sir) Leslie
Stephen established a standard of literary criticism that was
practically unrivalled. The authority of its scientific and political
writers was equally high; as for serial fiction, Mr. Morley published
Mr. Meredith's _Beauchamp's Career_ and _The Tragic Comedians_, besides
less important novels by Trollope and others. More recently the
publication of fiction has been exceptional. The (1890) _Review of
Reviews_ Index said of the _Fortnightly_:

     "While disclaiming 'party' or 'editorial consistency,' and
     proclaiming that its pages were open to all views, the
     _Fortnightly_ seldom included the orthodox among its contributors.
     The articles which startled people and made small earthquakes
     beneath the crust of conventional orthodoxy, political and
     religious, usually appeared in the _Fortnightly_. It was here that
     Professor Huxley seemed to foreshadow the expulsion of the
     spiritual from the world, by his paper on 'The Physical Basis of
     Life,' and that Professor Tyndall propounded his famous suggestion
     for the establishment of a prayerless union or hospital as a
     scientific method for testing the therapeutic value of prayer. Mr.
     Frederic Harrison chanted in its pages the praises of the Commune,
     and prepared the old ladies of both sexes for the imminent advent
     of an English Terror by his plea for Trade Unionism. It was in the
     _Fortnightly_ also that Mr. Chamberlain was introduced to the
     world, when he was permitted to explain his proposals for Free
     Labour, Free Land, Free Education, and Free Church. Mr. Morley's
     papers on the heroes and saints (Heaven save the mark!) of the
     French Revolution appeared here, and every month in an editorial
     survey he summed up the leading features of the progress of the
     world."

Since Mr. Morley's retirement in 1883, the editors of the _Fortnightly_
have been Mr. T.H.S. Escott (1883-86), Mr. Frank Harris (1886-94) and
the present incumbent, Mr. W.L. Courtney.

The _Fortnightly_ was not long permitted to enjoy undisputed possession
of the field. In 1866, while it was still published semi-monthly, the
_Contemporary Review_ was launched. Alexander Strahan, the publisher,
selected Dean Alford as its editor in order to assure a more reserved
tone than that of its popular predecessor. Although Liberal in politics,
like the _Fortnightly_, it assumed a very different and apparently
corrective attitude in religious matters. Most of its articles for many
years were upon theological subjects and were written by scholars
comparatively unknown to the public. The gradual change in policy
furthered by its later editors, especially Mr. James Knowles and Mr.
Percy Bunting has brought the _Contemporary_ nearer to the general type
of popular monthlies. Its principles seem to tend toward "broad
evangelical, semi-socialistic Liberalism."

In 1877 Mr. Knowles found it impossible to conduct the _Contemporary_
any longer in the independent manner that seemed essential to him;
accordingly, he withdrew and established the _Nineteenth Century_, which
in deference to the new era and a desire to be abreast of the times,
recently adopted the somewhat awkward title of the _Nineteenth Century
and After_. Like the _Fortnightly_, it presented a brilliant array of
names from the first. The initial number contained a Prefatory Sonnet by
Tennyson, and articles by Gladstone, Matthew Arnold, Cardinal Manning,
and the Dean of Gloucester and Bristol. It is sufficient to state that
this standard has since been maintained by Mr. Knowles and has made his
_Nineteenth Century and After_ the most popular of the monthlies.

The _National Review_ (not to be confounded with Bagehot and Hutton's
quarterly of that name), is the youngest and least important of the
monthly reviews. It was established in 1883 as a Conservative organ
under the editorship of Mr. Alfred Austin and Professor W.J. Courthope.
Well-known writers have contributed to its pages, yet it has never
assumed a place of first importance in the periodical world. Its present
editor is Mr. Louis J. Maxse.

It is well to bear in mind that these reviews all seek to discuss the
most important subjects of contemporary interest, and to secure the
services of writers best qualified to treat those subjects. In the
narrow sense of the term, they are not literary reviews; the function of
periodicals that discuss present day politics, sociology, theology,
history, science, art and numerous other generic subjects is more
inclusive and appeals to a much larger audience than the periodical of
literary criticism. In the quarterlies and monthlies we look for the
most authoritative reviews of the important books of the day; but for
general literary review and gossip, a new class of monthlies, best
represented by Dr. Robertson Nicoll's _Bookman_ (1891) and the American
_Bookman_ (1895) and _The Critic_ (1881) has appeared. These fill a gap
between the more substantial monthlies and the very popular weekly
papers.

The last-mentioned class was practically developed during the nineteenth
century. The frequency of publication forbade a strict devotion to the
cause of _belles-lettres_; hence, in most cases, politics or music and
art were included in the scheme. At first literature was granted meagre
space in newspapers of the _Weekly Register_ and _Examiner_ type.
William Cobbett, profiting by his previous experience with _Porcupine's
Gazette_ and the _Porcupine_, began his _Weekly Political Register_ in
1802 and continued its publication until his death in 1835. It was so
thoroughly political in character that it hardly merits recognition as a
literary periodical. The _Examiner_, begun in 1808 by John Hunt, enjoyed
during the thirteen years of his brother Leigh's cooeperation a wide
reputation for the excellence of its political and literary criticism.
Under Albany Fonblanque, John Forster and William Minto it continued
with varying success until 1880.

The first truly literary weekly review was the _Literary Gazette_,
established in 1817 by Henry Colburn, of the _New Monthly Magazine_,
under the joint editorship of Mr. H.E. Lloyd and Miss Ross. After the
first half-year of its existence, Colburn sold a third share to the
Messrs. Longman and another third to William Jerdan, who became sole
editor and eventually (1842) sole proprietor. The original price of a
shilling was soon reduced to eight pence. Jerdan set the prototype for
later literary weeklies in his plan, which embraced "foreign and
domestic correspondence, critical analyses of new publications,
varieties connected with polite literature, philosophical researches,
scientific inventions, sketches of society, biographical memoirs, essays
on fine arts, and miscellaneous articles on drama, music and literary
intelligence." Thus Jerdan followed his friend Canning's advice by
avoiding "politics and polemics" and by aiming to present "a clear and
instructive picture of the moral and literary improvement of the times,
and a complete and authentic chronological literary record for general
reference." He secured the services of Crabbe, Barry Cornwall, Maginn,
Campbell, Mrs. Hemans and others: with such an array of contributors he
was able to crush the several rival weeklies that soon entered the
field.

Toward the end of its prosperous first decade, however, the misfortunes
of the _Literary Gazette_ began. Colburn's publications had been roughly
handled in its pages and he accordingly aided James Silk Buckingham in
founding the _Athenaeum_. The first number appeared on January 2, 1828,
as an evident rival of the older weekly. For a time the new venture was
on the verge of failure and the proprietors actually offered to sell it
to Jerdan. Within half a year Buckingham was succeeded by John Sterling
as editor. Frederic Denison Maurice's friends purchased the _Literary
Chronicle and Weekly Review_ (begun 1819) and merged it with the
_Athenaeum_ in July, 1828. For a year Sterling and Maurice contributed
some of the most brilliant critical articles that have appeared in its
pages. The working editor at that time was Henry Stebbing who had been
associated with the _Athenaeum_ since its inception and who was the only
survivor[C] of the original staff when the semi-centennial number was
published on January 5, 1878.

Even the high standards set by Maurice and Sterling failed to win
public favor. The crisis came about the middle of 1830 when Charles
Wentworth Dilke became "supreme editor," enlisted Lamb, George Darley,
Barry Cornwall and others on his staff, and reduced the price of the
_Athenaeum_ from eightpence to fourpence. The apparent folly of reducing
the price and increasing the expenses did not lead to the generally
prophesied collapse; this first experiment in modern methods resulted in
the rapid growth of the _Athenaeum's_ circulation, to the serious
detriment of the _Literary Gazette_. Jerdan tried to stem the tide by
publishing lampoons on the dullness of Dilke's paper; but when the
_Athenaeum_ was enlarged in 1835 from sixteen to twenty-four pages
Dilke's triumph was evident. The _Literary Gazette_ was compelled to
reduce its price to fourpence in its effort to regain the lost
subscriptions. Dilke labored earnestly to improve his paper and when, in
1846, he felt that it was established on a firm basis, he made Thomas
Kibble Hervey editor and devoted his own time to furthering his
journalistic enterprises. However, he continued to contribute to the
weekly; his valuable articles on Junius and Pope together with several
others were afterwards reprinted as _Papers of a Critic_.

Jerdan withdrew from the _Literary Gazette_ in 1850. The hopeless
struggle with the _Athenaeum_, involving a third reduction in price to
threepence, lasted until 1862, when the _Gazette_ was incorporated with
the _Parthenon_ and came to an end during the following year. Hervey
edited the _Athenaeum_ until 1853 when ill-health necessitated his
resignation. The later editors include William Hepworth Dixon, Norman
MacColl and at present Mr. Vernon Rendall. After the withdrawal of Dixon
in 1869 a reformation in the staff and management of the _Athenaeum_ took
place.

     "Some old writers were parted with, and a great many fresh
     contributors were found. While special departments, such as
     science, art, music and the drama, were of necessity entrusted to
     regular hands, indeed, the reviewing of books, now more than ever
     the principal business of 'The Athenaeum,' was distributed over a
     very large staff, the plan being to assign each work to a writer
     familiar with its subject and competent to deal with it
     intelligently, but rigidly to exclude personal favouritism or
     prejudice, and to secure as much impartiality as possible. The rule
     of anonymity has been more carefully observed in 'The Athenaeum'
     than in most other papers. Its authority as a literary censor is
     not lessened, however, and is in some respects increased, by the
     fact that the paper itself, and not any particular critic of great
     or small account, is responsible for the verdicts passed in its
     columns." (Fox Bourne.)

Half a year after the inception of the _Athenaeum_, the first number of
the _Spectator_ was issued (July 6, 1828) by Robert Stephen Rintoul, an
experienced journalist who had launched the ill-fated semi-political
_Atlas_ two years before and therefore decided to confine his new
venture to literary and social topics. The political excitement of the
time soon aroused Rintoul's interest, and he undertook the advocacy of
the Reform Bill with all possible ardor. From him emanated the famous
battle-cry: "The Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill." He
conducted the _Spectator_ with great skill until 1858, when he sold it
two months before his death. Although he wrote little for its pages,
Rintoul made the _Spectator_ a power in furthering all reforms. The
literary standard, while somewhat obscured for a time by its politics,
was high. In 1861 the _Spectator_ passed into the hands of Mr. Meredith
Townsend who sold a half share to the late Richard Holt Hutton with the
understanding that they should act as political and literary editors
respectively. During the four years of the American Civil War, the
_Spectator_ espoused the cause of the North and was consequently
unpopular; but the outcome turned the sentiment in England and likewise
the fortunes of the _Spectator_. Hutton's contributions included his
most memorable utterances upon theological and literary subjects. In the
midst of religious controversy he was able to discuss delicate questions
without giving offense, to enlist all parties by refraining from
expressed allegiance to one. The _Spectator_ of Hutton's day was, in
Mrs. Oliphant's opinion, "specially distinguished by the thoughtful tone
of its writing, the almost Quixotic fairness of its judgments, and the
profoundly religious spirit which pervades its more serious articles."
Hutton retired shortly before his death in 1897. The present editor is
Mr. J. St. Loe Strachey.

The _Saturday Review_ was established in November, 1855, by A.J.
Beresford Hope. Its first editor was John Douglass Cook, who had indexed
the early volumes of the _Quarterly_ for Murray and had gained his
journalistic experience with the _Times_ and the _Morning Chronicle_.
Though possessed of no great personal ability, Cook had the useful
editorial faculty of recognizing talent, and consequently gathered about
himself the most promising writers of the younger generation, including,
among others, Robert Talbot Cecil, the late Lord Salisbury. The
_Saturday Review_ at once became the most influential and most energetic
of the weekly papers. Its politics, independent at first, later assumed
a pronounced Conservative complexion. Cook remained editor until his
death (1868) when he was succeeded by his assistant, Philip Harwood.
Since the latter's retirement in 1883 the more recent editors include
Mr. Walter H. Pollock, Mr. Frank Harris and the present incumbent, Mr.
Harold Hodge. Professor Saintsbury wrote of the _Saturday Review_:

     "Its staff was, as a rule, recruited from the two Universities
     (though there was no kind of exclusion for the unmatriculated; as a
     matter of fact, neither of its first two editors was a son either
     of Oxford or Cambridge), and it always insisted on the necessity of
     classical culture.... It observed, for perhaps a longer time than
     any other paper, the salutary principles of anonymity (real as well
     as ostensible) in regard to the authorship of particular articles;
     and those who knew were constantly amused at the public mistakes on
     this subject."

Such "salutary principles of anonymity" were not observed by the
_Academy, a Monthly Record of Literature, Learning, Science and Art_,
which began to appear in October, 1869, and was published for a short
time by John Murray. Its founder, Dr. Charles E. Appleton, edited the
_Academy_ until his death in 1879. All the leading articles bore the
authors' signatures, and, following the example of the more ambitious
monthlies, Dr. Appleton secured the best known writers as contributors.
The first number opened with an interesting unpublished letter of Lord
Byron's; its literary articles were by Matthew Arnold, Gustave Masson
and Mr. Sidney Colvin, theology was represented by the Rev. T.K. Cheyne
and J.B. Lightfoot (later Bishop of Durham), science by Thomas Huxley
and Sir John Lubbock (now Lord Avebury), and classical learning by Mark
Pattison and John Conington. This remarkable array of names did not
diminish in subsequent numbers. Besides those mentioned Mr. W.M.
Rossetti, Max Mueller, G. Maspero, J.A. Symonds, F.T. Palgrave and others
contributed to the first volume. Later such names as William Morris,
John Tyndall, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Walter Pater and Robert Louis
Stevenson appeared in its pages.

In spite of its brilliant program, the size of the _Academy_, even at
its price of sixpence, was too slight to rank as a monthly. After four
years' experience, first as a monthly, then as a fortnightly, it became
and has remained a weekly. The editorial succession since the death of
Dr. Appleton has been C.E. Doble (1879-81); Mr. James Sutherland Cotton
(1881-96); Mr. C. Lewis Hind (1896-1903); and Mr. W. Teignmouth Shore.
The issue of November 7, 1896, announced Mr. Cotton's retirement and the
inauguration of a new policy, which, in addition to technical
improvements, promised the issue of occasional supplements of a purely
academic and educational character, and the beginning of the series of
_Academy Portraits_ of men of letters. At the same time the publication
of signed articles was abolished and the _Academy_ remained anonymous
until the recent editorial change. A new departure in October, 1898,
made the _Academy_ an illustrated paper--the most attractive though not
the most authoritative of the weeklies. It has departed widely from the
set traditions of Dr. Appleton, but most readers will agree that the
departure has been justified by the needs of the hour. There is small
satisfaction in reading a one-page review from the pen of an Arnold or a
Pater; we feel that such authorities should express themselves at length
in the pages of the literary monthlies; that the reader of the weekly
should be content with the anonymous (and less expensive) review written
by the staff-critic. Whatever the personal bias, it is at least certain
that under present conditions the _Academy_ appeals more generally to
the popular taste. Its recent absorption of a younger periodical is
indicated in the compounding of its title into the _Academy and
Literature_--a change that does not commend itself on abstract grounds
of literary fitness and tradition.

A consideration of periodicals of the _Tatler_, _Spectator_ and
_Rambler_ class evidently lies beyond our present purpose; though
Addison's papers on _Paradise Lost_ and similar articles show an
occasional critical intent. The magazines, however, have in various
instances shown such an extensive interest in matters literary that a
brief account of their development will not be amiss. The primary
distinction between the review and the magazine is well understood; the
former criticizes, the latter entertains. Hence fiction, poetry and
essays are better adapted than book-reviews to the needs of the literary
magazine. As already stated, Peter Motteux's _Gentleman's Journal_
(1692-94) probably deserves recognition as the first English magazine,
though its brief career is forgotten in the honor accorded to the
_Gentleman's Magazine_, established in 1731 by Edward Cave and which,
still under the editorship of "Sylvanus Urban, Gentleman," is now
approaching its three hundredth volume. In the early days its lists of
births, deaths, marriages, bankrupts, events, etc., must have made it a
useful summary for the public. In literature it printed merely a
"Register of New Books" without comment of any sort. It is exasperating
to find such books as _Pamela_ or _Tom Jones_ listed among "New
Publications" without a word of criticism or commendation. We could
spare whole reams of pages devoted to "Army Promotions" and "Monthly
Chronicle" for a few lines of literary review.

Although the booksellers refused to aid Cave in establishing his
magazine, the demonstration of its success brought forth numerous
rivals. As they all followed Cave's precedent in ignoring literary
criticism, it will suffice to mention merely the names of the _London
Magazine_ (1732-79); the _Scots Magazine_ (1739-1817), continued as the
_Edinburgh Magazine_ until 1826; the _Universal Magazine_ (1743-1815);
the _British Magazine_ (1746-50); the _Royal Magazine_ (1759-71); and
finally the _British Magazine, or Monthly Repository for Gentlemen and
Ladies_ (1760-67) edited by Tobias Smollett, who published his _Sir
Launcelot Greaves_ in its pages--perhaps the first instance of the
serial publication of fiction. Goldsmith wrote some of his most
interesting essays for Smollett's magazine.

An important addition to the ranks was the _Monthly Magazine_ begun in
1796 by Sir Richard Phillips under the editorship of John Aikin. The
principal contributor was William Taylor of Norwich who, during a period
of thirty years, supplied to the _Monthly Magazine_ and other
periodicals a series of 1,750 articles of remarkable quality. His
contributions gave the Magazine standing as a literary review. Hazlitt
accorded to Taylor the honor of writing the first reviews in the style
afterwards adopted by the Edinburgh Reviewers, which established their
reputations as original and impartial critics. He is remembered to-day
as the author of an unread _Historic Survey of German Poetry_ which was
vigorously assailed by Carlyle in the _Edinburgh Review_. The _New
Monthly Magazine_ was started in 1814 by Henry Colburn and Frederick
Shoberl in opposition to Phillips' magazine. Its first editors were Dr.
Watkins and Alaric A. Watts. At a later time Campbell, Bulwer, Theodore
Hook and Harrison Ainsworth successively assumed charge. Under such
capable direction the magazine naturally won a prominent place among the
periodicals of the day. During its later years the _New Monthly_ was
obscured by more ambitious ventures and came to an inglorious end in
1875--thirty-two years after the suspension of Phillips' _Monthly
Magazine_.

A most significant event in the history of the magazine was the founding
of the _Edinburgh Monthly Magazine_ in April, 1817, by William
Blackwood. The new magazine was projected to counteract the influence
of the _Edinburgh Review_, but under its first editors, James Cleghorn
and Thomas Pringle, it failed to win favor. After six numbers were
issued, a final disagreement between Blackwood and the editors resulted
in the withdrawal of the latter. The name of the monthly was changed to
_Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine_--popularly _Blackwood's_ or "Maga"--and
henceforth until his death Blackwood was his own editor. John Wilson
(Christopher North) and John Gibson Lockhart, the most important of the
early contributors to _Blackwood's_, published in that famous seventh
number the clever _Chaldee Manuscript_--an audacious satire upon the
original editors, the rival publisher Constable, the _Edinburgh Review_
and various literary personages under a thinly veiled allegory in
apocalyptic style. It at once attracted wide attention (including a
costly action for libel within a fortnight) and was suppressed in the
second impression of the number. The same number of _Blackwood's_ set
the precedent for the subsequent critical vituperation that made the
magazine notorious. It contained an abusive article on Coleridge's
_Biographia Literaria_ and the first of a series of virulent attacks on
"The Cockney School of Poetry." Much of the literary criticism in the
first few volumes is inexcusably brutal; fortunately, _Blackwood's_ soon
became less rampant in its critical outbursts. The cooeperation of James
Hogg and the ill-fated Maginn introduced new articles of varied
interest, particularly the witty letters and the parodies of "Ensign
O'Doherty." Wilson's _Noctes Ambrosianae_ became a characteristic feature
of _Blackwood's_; John Galt and Susan Ferrier won popularity among the
novel readers of the day; and in the trenchant literary criticism of
Lockhart, Wilson, Hogg and their confreres an equally high standard was
maintained.

After the death of the elder Blackwood in 1834, the management of the
magazine passed to his sons successively. John Blackwood, the sixth son,
enjoyed the distinction of "discovering" George Eliot and beginning, by
the publication of her _Scenes of Clerical Life_ in 1857, a relationship
that was both pleasant and profitable to the firm. A few years earlier
appeared the first contributions of another remarkable literary
woman--Mrs. Margaret Oliphant, whose association with _Blackwood's_
lasted over forty years. Her history of the house of Blackwood was
published in the year of her death (1897).

_Blackwood's_ is still a strong conservative organ. The already quoted
Index of the _Review of Reviews_ says of it: "With a rare consistency it
has contrived to appear for over three score years and ten as a spirited
and defiant advocate of all those who are at least five years behind
their time. Sometimes _Blackwood_ is fifty years in the rear, but that
is a detail of circumstance. Five or fifty, it does not matter, so long
as it is well in the rear." Such gentle sarcasm merely emphasizes the
fact that _Blackwood's_ has always aimed to be more than a magazine of
_belles-lettres_. The publishers celebrated the appearance of the one
thousandth number in February, 1899, by almost doubling its size to a
volume of three hundred pages, including a latter-day addition to the
_Noctes Ambrosianae_ and other features.

An important though short-lived venture was the _London Magazine_, begun
in January, 1820, under the editorship of John Scott. By its editorial
assaults upon the _Blackwood_ criticisms of the "Cockney School," it
became the recognized champion of that loosely defined coterie. The
initial attack in the May number was further emphasized by more vigorous
articles in November and December of 1820, and January, 1821. Lockhart,
who was the recipient of the worst abuse, demanded of Scott an apology
or a hostile meeting. The outcome of the controversy was a duel on
February 16th between Scott and Lockhart's intimate friend, Jonathan
Henry Christie. Scott was mortally wounded, and died within a fortnight;
the verdict of wilful murder brought against Christie and his second at
the inquest resulted in their trial and acquittal at the old Bailey two
months later. It would have been well for the _London Magazine_ and for
literature in general if that unfortunate duel could have been prevented
or at least diverted into such a ludicrous affair as the meeting between
Jeffrey and Tom Moore in 1806.

The most famous contributions to the _London Magazine_ during Scott's
regime were Lamb's _Essays of Elia_. Those charming productions, now
ranked among our dearly treasured classics, were not received at first
with universal approbation. The long and justly forgotten Alaric A.
Watts said of them: "Charles Lamb delivers himself with infinite pain
and labour of a silly piece of trifling, every month, in this Magazine,
under the signature of Elia. It is the curse of the Cockney School that,
with all their desire to appear exceedingly off-hand and ready with all
they have to say, they are constrained to elaborate every sentence, as
though the web were woven from their own bowels. Charles Lamb says he
can make no way in an article under at least a week." In July, 1821, the
_London Magazine_ was purchased by Taylor and Hessey. Although Thomas
Hood was made working-editor, the _Blackwood_ idea of retaining
editorial supervision in the firm was followed. Within a few months De
Quincey contributed his _Confessions of an English Opium-Eater_--the
most famous of all the articles that appeared in the magazine. Lamb[D]
and De Quincey continued to write for the magazine for several years.
Other contributors, especially of literary criticism, were Barry
Cornwall, Carlyle, Hazlitt, Henry Cary and, toward the end, Walter
Savage Landor. The magazine became less conspicuous after 1824 and
dragged out an obscure existence until 1829; but it is probable that no
other periodical achieved the standard of purely literary excellence
represented by the _London Magazine_ during the first five years of its
existence.

In February, 1830, James Fraser published the first number of _Fraser's
Magazine for Town and Country_. The magazine was not named after the
publisher but after its sponsor, Hugh Fraser, a "briefless barrister"
and man about town. The latter enlisted the aid of Maginn who had
severed his connection with _Blackwood's_ in 1828. In general,
_Fraser's_ was modelled upon _Blackwood's_; but a unique and popular
feature was the publication of the "Gallery of Illustrious Literary
Characters" between 1830-38. This famous series of eighty-one caricature
portraits chiefly by Daniel Maclise, with letter-press by Maginn, has
been made accessible to present-day readers in William Bates' _Maclise
Portrait Gallery_ (1883) where much illustrative material has been added
to the original articles. It is evident that the literary standard of
_Fraser's_ soon equalled and possibly surpassed that of _Blackwood's_.
Among its writers were Carlyle (who contributed a critique to the first
number, published _Sartor Resartus_ in its pages, 1833-35, and, as late
as 1875, his _Early Kings of Norway_), Thackeray, Father Prout and
Thomas Love Peacock. Maclise's plate of "The Fraserians" also includes
Allan Cunningham, Theodore Hook, William Jerdan, Lockhart, Hogg,
Coleridge, Southey and several others. It is unlikely that all of them
wrote much for _Fraser's_; but the staff was undoubtedly a brilliant
assemblage. James Anthony Froude became editor in 1860 and was assisted
for a time by Charles Kingsley and Sir Theodore Martin. He was succeeded
by his sub-editor, William Allingham, during whose administration
(1874-79) the fortunes of _Fraser's_ suffered a decline. The gradual
failure was due to the competition of the new shilling magazines rather
than to incompetence on the part of the editor. The end came in October,
1882, when _Fraser's_ was succeeded by _Longman's Magazine_ which is
still in progress.

The magazines established soon after _Fraser's_ followed for the most
part a policy that demands for them mere passing mention in the present
connection. Literary criticism and reviews were largely abandoned in
favor of lighter and more entertaining material. The _Dublin University
Magazine_ (1833-80) and _Tait's Edinburgh Magazine_ (1832-61) best
represent the transitional stage. During its early history, the latter
employed prominent contributors, who gave it an important position. Such
magazines as the _Metropolitan_ (1831-50) and _Bentley's Miscellany_
(1837-68) set the standards for similar periodicals since that time.
Charles Dickens' experience with _Bentley's_ led to the publication of
his weeklies, _Household Words_ (1850 to date) and _All the Year Round_
(1859), which was incorporated in 1895 with the former. _Macmillan's
Magazine_, first of the popular shilling monthlies, began in 1859 and
was soon followed by Thackeray's _Cornhill Magazine_ (1860) and _Temple
Bar_ (1860). All of these magazines are still in progress. The
occasional publication of an article by a literary critic hardly
justifies their inclusion within the category of critical reviews, as
their essential purpose is to instruct and entertain, rather than to sit
in judgment upon contemporary letters.

There are in course of publication to-day numerous literary periodicals
of varying scope and importance that have not even been mentioned by
title in our hasty survey. Enough has been said, however, to give some
idea of the magnitude of the field, and to show that most of the great
names of modern English literature have been more or less closely
associated with the history of the literary reviews. Those reviews have
usually sought to foster all that is highest and best in our
intellectual development; and although English literary criticism has
been, on the whole, less convincing, less brilliant and less
authoritative than that of France, it has during the past century set a
fairly high standard of excellence. It seems difficult to understand why
the literary conditions in England, instead of developing critics like
Sainte-Beuve, Gaston Paris, Brunetiere and others whose utterances
redound to the lasting glory of French criticism, should be steadily
tending toward a lower and less influential level. Mr. Churton Collins
in his pessimistic discussion of "The Present Functions of Criticism"
deplores the spirit of tolerance and charity manifested toward the
mediocre productions of contemporary writers; he attributes the
degradation of criticism to the lack of critical standards and
principles, and indirectly to the neglect of the study of literature at
the English Universities. The plea for an English Academy has been made
at different times and with different ends in view, but under modern
conditions such an institution would hardly solve the problem. Mr.
Collins shows how the intellectual aristocracy of the past has been
superseded by the present omnivorous reading-public afflicted with a
perpetual craving for literary novelty. The inevitable rapidity of
production results in a deluge of poor books which are foisted upon
readers by a "detestable system of mutual puffery." This condition of
affairs naturally offers few opportunities for the development of
critical ideals; but it hardly applies to the incorruptible reviews of
recognized standing. The reasons for the lack of authority in modern
English criticism are more deeply grounded in an inherent objection to
the restraint imposed upon an artist by artificial canons of taste, and
in a well-founded impression that many of the greatest literary
achievements evince a violation of such canons.

It is not to be inferred that criticism is thereby disdained and
disregarded. The critical dicta of a Dryden or a Johnson, a Coleridge or
a Hazlitt, and, more recently, an Arnold or a Pater, are valued and
studied because they emphasize the vital elements essential to the
proper appreciation of a literary product; and, moreover, because such
critics, in transcending the limitations of their kind, establish higher
and juster standards for the criticism of the future. On the other hand,
the great majority of critical utterances must necessarily be ephemeral;
they may exert considerable contemporary influence, but are usually
forgotten long before the works that called them forth. Unless this
criticism is more than a perfunctory examination of the merits and
defects of the work under consideration, it cannot endure beyond its own
brief day.

Several fruitless attempts have been made to reduce criticism to an
exact science, which, quite disregarding the factor of personal taste,
could refer all literature to a more or less fixed and arbitrary set of
critical principles. The champions of this objective criticism point to
the occasionally ludicrous divergence of the views expressed in
criticism of certain poets or novelists, and insist that there is no
occasion for such a bewildering difference of opinion. They seem to
forget that the criticism which we esteem most highly at all times is
the subjective criticism in which the personality of a competent and
sincere critic is manifest. Literature, like music, painting and the
other arts, has its own laws of technique--fundamental canons that must
be observed in the successful pursuit of the art; but at a certain point
difference of opinion is not only possible but profitable. The critics
who would unite in condemning a thirteen-line sonnet or a ten-act
tragedy could not be expected to agree on the relative merits of
Milton's and Wordsworth's sonnets. Unanimity of opinion is as impossible
and undesirable concerning the poetic achievement of Browning and
Whitman as it is concerning the music of Brahms and Wagner, or the
painting of Turner and Whistler. Great artists who have taken liberties
with traditions and precedents have done much to prevent the critics
from falling into a state of self-complacency over their scientific
methods and formulas.

The most helpful form of criticism is the interpretative variety, not
necessarily the laudatory "appreciation" that is so popular in our day,
but an honest effort to understand and elucidate the intention of the
writer. The proper exercise of this art occasionally demands rare
qualifications on the part of the critic; at the same time it adds
dignity to his calling and value to his utterance. It serves to dispel
the popular conception of a critic as a disappointed _litterateur_ who
begrudges his more brilliant fellow craftsmen their success and who dogs
their triumphs with his ill-tempered snarling. Interpretative criticism
needs few rules and no system; yet it serves a noble purpose as a guide
and monitor for subsequent literary effort.

The question of anonymous criticism has occasioned much thoughtful
discussion. In former times anonymity was often a shield for the
slanderer who saw fit to abuse and assail his victim with the rancorous
outburst of his malice; but it is also clear that the earlier reviewers
were mere literary hacks whose names would have given no weight to the
critique and hence could be omitted without much loss. The authorship of
important _Edinburgh_ and _Quarterly_[E] articles in the days of their
greatness was usually an open secret. Later periodicals, like the
_Fortnightly_ and the _Academy_ found it a profitable advertisement to
publish the signatures of their eminent critics. The tendency of the
present day is largely in favor of anonymity; no longer as a cover for
the dispensation of malicious vituperation, but as a necessary
safe-guard for the unbiased and untrammeled exercise of the critical
function. Certain abuses of the privilege are inevitable. Mr. Sidney
Colvin in looking over the criticisms of Mr. Stephen Phillips' poetry
recently discovered in three periodicals convincing parallels that led
Mr. Arthur Symons to confess to the authorship of all three critiques.
The average reader would in most cases be strongly influenced by the
united verdict of the critics of the _Saturday Review_, the _Athenaeum_
and the _Quarterly Review_; in this instance his convictions would
undoubtedly be rudely shattered when he learned the truth. Under such
conditions anonymous criticism is a menace, not an aid to the reader's
judgment.

In conclusion, it must be borne in mind that criticism is not an end but
a means to an end. All the literary criticism ever uttered would be
useless as such if it did not evince a desire to further the development
of literary art. The _Iliad_ and the _Oedipus_ were written long
before Aristotle's _Poetics_, and it is not likely that either Homer or
Sophocles would have been a greater poet if he could have read the
Stagirite's treatise. Yet the _Poetics_, as a summary of the essential
features of that art, served an important purpose in later ages and
exerted far-reaching influences. Criticism in all ages has necessarily
been of less importance than art itself--it guides and suggests, but
cannot create. Literary history shows that true criticism must be in
conformity with the spirit of the age; it cannot oppose the trend of
intelligent opinion. It may praise, censure, advise, interpret--but it
will always remain subservient to the art that called it forth. There is
no reason to believe that criticism can ever be established in the
English-speaking world upon a basis that will subject to an arbitrary
and irrevocable ruling the form and spirit of the artist's message to
mankind.

[Footnote A: Reprinted in Professor Arber's _The Term Catalogues_
(1668-1709). London, privately printed, 1903.]

[Footnote B: See the centenary number of the _Edinburgh Review_
(October, 1902). During the editor's recent tenure of government office,
the review was temporarily edited by Mr. E.S. Roscoe.]

[Footnote C: See his letter in _Athenaeum_, January 19, 1878. See also
"Our Seventieth Birthday," _Athenaeum_, January 1, 1898.]

[Footnote D: Mr. Bertram Dobell in his _Side-Lights on Charles Lamb_
(1903) directs attention to some hitherto unknown articles of Lamb's in
the _London Magazine_.]

[Footnote E: In July, 1902, the _Quarterly Review_ published its first
signed article--the widely-discussed paper on Charles Dickens by Mr.
Algernon Charles Swinburne. Since then several other noteworthy articles
have appeared over the authors' signatures.]




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EARLY REVIEWS OF ENGLISH POETS




THOMAS GRAY


ODES. _By Mr._ Gray. 4to. 1s. Dodsley.

As this publication seems designed for those who have formed their taste
by the models of antiquity, the generality of Readers cannot be supposed
adequate Judges of its merit; nor will the Poet, it is presumed, be
greatly disappointed if he finds them backward in commending a
performance not entirely suited to their apprehensions. We cannot,
however, without some regret behold those talents so capable of giving
pleasure to all, exerted in efforts that, at best, can amuse only the
few; we cannot behold this rising Poet seeking fame among the learned,
without hinting to him the same advice that Isocrates used to give his
Scholars, _Study the People_. This study it is that has conducted the
great Masters of antiquity up to immortality. Pindar himself, of whom
our modern Lyrist is an imitator, appears entirely guided by it. He
adapted his works exactly to the dispositions of his countrymen.
Irregular[,] enthusiastic, and quick in transition,--he wrote for a
people inconstant, of warm imaginations and exquisite sensibility. He
chose the most popular subjects, and all his allusions are to customs
well known, in his day, to the meanest person.[F]

His English Imitator wants those advantages. He speaks to a people not
easily impressed with new ideas; extremely tenacious of the old; with
difficulty warmed; and as slowly cooling again.--How unsuited then to
our national character is that species of poetry which rises upon us
with unexpected flights! Where we must hastily catch the thought, or it
flies from us; and, in short, where the Reader must largely partake of
the Poet's enthusiasm, in order to taste his beauties. To carry the
parallel a little farther; the Greek Poet wrote in a language the most
proper that can be imagined for this species of composition; lofty,
harmonious, and never needing rhyme to heighten the numbers. But, for
us, several unsuccessful experiments seem to prove that the English
cannot have Odes in blank Verse; while, on the other hand, a natural
imperfection attends those which are composed in irregular rhymes:--the
similar sound often recurring where it is not expected, and not being
found where it is, creates no small confusion to the Reader,--who, as we
have not seldom observed, beginning in all the solemnity of poetic
elocution, is by frequent disappointments of the rhyme, at last obliged
to drawl out the uncomplying numbers into disagreeable prose.

It is, by no means, our design to detract from the merit of our Author's
present attempt: we would only intimate, that an English Poet,--one whom
the Muse has _mark'd for her own_, could produce a more luxuriant bloom
of flowers, by cultivating such as are natives of the soil, than by
endeavouring to force the exotics of another climate: or, to speak
without a metaphor, such a genius as Mr. Gray might give greater
pleasure, and acquire a larger portion of fame, if, instead of being an
imitator, he did justice to his talents, and ventured to be more an
original. These two Odes, it must be confessed, breath[e] much of the
spirit of Pindar, but then they have caught the seeming obscurity, the
sudden transition, and hazardous epithet, of his mighty master; all
which, though evidently intended for beauties, will, probably, be
regarded as blemishes, by the generality of his Readers. In short, they
are in some measure, a representation of what Pindar now appears to be,
though perhaps, not what he appeared to the States of Greece, when they
rivalled each other in his applause, and when Pan himself was seen
dancing to his melody.

In conformity to the antients, these Odes consist of the _Strophe_,
_Antistrophe_, and _Epode_, which, in each Ode, are thrice repeated. The
Strophes have a correspondent resemblance in their str[u]cture and
numbers: and the Antistrophe and Epode also bear the same similitude.
The Poet seems, in the first Ode particularly, to design the Epode as a
complete air to the Strophe and Antistrophe, which have more the
appearance of Recitative. There was a necessity for these divisions
among the antients, for they served as directions to the dancer and
musician; but we see no reason why they should be continued among the
moderns; for, instead of assisting, they will but perplex the Musician,
as our music requires a more frequent transition from the Air to the
Recitative than could agree with the simplicity of the antients.

The first of these Poems celebrates the Lyric Muse. It seems the most
laboured performance of the two, but yet we think its merit is not equal
to that of the second. It seems to want that regularity of plan upon
which the second is founded; and though it abounds with images that
strike, yet, unlike the second, it contains none that are affecting.

In the second Antistrophe the Bard thus marks the progress of Poetry.

    II. [2.]

    In climes beyond the solar road,
    Where shaggy forms o'er ice-built mountains roam,
    The Muse has broke the twilight-gloom
    To cheer the shivering natives dull abode
    And oft beneath the od'rous shade
    Of Chili's boundless forests laid,
    She deigns to hear the savage youth repeat,
    In loose numbers wildly sweet
    Their feather-cinctured Chiefs, and dusky loves.
    Her track, where'er the Goddess roves,
    Glory pursue, and generous shame,
    Th' unconquerable Mind, and Freedom's holy flame.

There is great spirit in the irregularity of the numbers towards the
conclusion of the foregoing stanza.

[II, 3, and III, 2, of _The Progress of Poesy_ are quoted without
comment.]

The second 'Ode is founded on a tradition current in Wales, that Edward
the first, when he compleated the conquest of that country, ordered all
the Bards that fell into his hands to be put to death.' The Author seems
to have taken the hint of this subject from the fifteenth Ode of the
first book of Horace. Our Poet introduces the only surviving Bard of
that country in concert with the spirits of his murdered brethren, as
prophetically denouncing woes upon the Conqueror and his posterity. The
circumstances of grief and horror in which the Bard is represented,
those of terror in the preparation of the votive web, and the mystic
obscurity with which the prophecies are delivered, will give as much
pleasure to those who relish this species of composition, as anything
that has hitherto appeared in our language, the Odes of Dryden himself
not excepted.

[I, 2, I, 3, part of II, 1, and the conclusion of _The Bard_ are
quoted]--_The Monthly Review_.

[Footnote F: The best Odes of Pindar are said to be those which have
been destroyed by time; and even they were seldom recited among the
Greeks, without the adventitious ornaments of music and dancing. Our
Lyric Odes are seldom set off with these advantages, which, trifling as
they seem, have alone given immortality to the works of Quinault.]




OLIVER GOLDSMITH


_The Traveller, or a Prospect of Society. A Poem_. _Inscribed to the
Rev. Mr._ Henry Goldsmith. _By_ OLIVER GOLDSMITH, _M.B. 4to. Pr. 1s.
6d_. Newbery.

The author has, in an elegant dedication to his brother, a country
clergyman, given the design of his poem:--'Without espousing the cause
of any party, I have attempted to moderate the rage of all. I have
endeavoured to shew, that there may be equal happiness in other states,
though differently governed from our own; that each state has a peculiar
principle of happiness; and that this principle in each state,
particularly in our own, may be carried to a mischievous excess.'

That he may illustrate and enforce this important position, the author
places himself on a summit of the Alps, and, turning his eyes around, in
all directions, upon the different regions that lie before him,
compares, not merely their situation or policy, but those social and
domestic manners which, after a very few deductions, make the sum total
of human life.

    'Remote, unfriended, melancholy, slow,
    Or by the lazy Scheld, or wandering Po;
    Or onward, where the rude Carinthian boor
    Against the houseless stranger shuts the door;
    Or where Campania's plain forsaken lies,
    A weary waste expanded to the skies.
    Where'er I roam, whatever realms to see,
    My heart untravell'd fond turns to thee;
    Still to my brother turns with ceaseless pain,
    And drags at each remove a lengthening chain.--
      Even now, where Alpine solitudes ascend,
    I sit me down a pensive hour to spend;
    And, plac'd on high above the storm's career,
    Look downward where an hundred realms appear;
    Lakes, forests, cities, plains extended wide,
    The pomp of kings, the shepherd's humbler pride.
      When thus creation's charms around combine,
    Amidst the store 'twere thankless to repine.
    'Twere affectation all, and school-taught pride,
    To spurn the splendid things by heaven supply'd.
    Let school-taught pride dissemble all it can,
    These little things are great to little man;
    And wiser he, whose sympathetic mind
    Exults in all the good of all mankind.'

The author already appears, by his numbers, to be a versifier; and by
his scenery, to be a poet; it therefore only remains that his sentiments
discover him to be a just estimator of comparative happiness.

The goods of life are either given by nature, or procured by ourselves.
Nature has distributed her gifts in very different proportions, yet all
her children are content; but the acquisitions of art are such as
terminate in good or evil, as they are differently regulated or
combined.

    'Yet, where to find that happiest spot below,
    Who can direct, when all pretend to know?
    The shudd'ring tenant of the frigid zone
    Boldly asserts that country for his own,
    Extols the treasures of his stormy seas,
    And live-long nights of revelry and ease;
    The naked Negro, panting at the line,
    Boasts of his golden sands and palmy wine,
    Basks in the glare, or stems the tepid wave,
    And thanks his Gods for all the good they gave.--
      Nature, a mother kind alike, to all,
    Still grants her bliss at Labour's earnest call;
    And though rough rocks or gloomy summits frown,
    These rocks, by custom, turn to beds of down.
      From Art more various are the blessings sent;
    Wealth, splendours, honor, liberty, content:
    Yet these each other's power so strong contest,
    That either seems destructive of the rest.
    Hence every state, to one lov'd blessing prone,
    Conforms and models life to that alone.
    Each to the favourite happiness attends,
    And spurns the plan that aims at other ends;
    Till, carried to excess in each domain,
    This favourite good begets peculiar pain.'

This is the position which he conducts through Italy, Swisserland,
France, Holland, and England; and which he endeavours to confirm by
remarking the manners of every country.

Having censured the degeneracy of the modern Italians, he proceeds thus:

    'My soul turn from them, turn we to survey
    Where rougher climes a nobler race display,
    Where the bleak Swiss their stormy mansions tread,
    And force a churlish soil for scanty bread;
    No product here the barren hills afford,
    But man and steel, the soldier and his sword.
    No vernal blooms their torpid rocks array,
    But winter lingering chills the lap of May;
    No Zephyr fondly soothes the mountain's breast,
    But meteors glare, and stormy glooms invest.
    Yet still, even here, content can spread a charm,
    Redress the clime, and all its rage disarm.
    Though poor the peasant's hut, his feasts though small,
    He sees his little lot, the lot of all;
    See no contiguous palace rear its head
    To shame the meanness of his humble shed;
    No costly lord the sumptuous banquet deal
    To make him loath his vegetable meal;
    But calm, and bred in ignorance and toil,
    Each wish contracting, fits him to the soil.'

But having found that the rural life of a Swiss has its evils as well as
comforts, he turns to France.

    'To kinder skies, where gentler manners reign,
    We turn; and France displays her bright domain.
    Gay sprightly land of mirth and social ease,
    Pleas'd with thyself, whom all the world can please.--
    Theirs are those arts that mind to mind endear,
    For honour forms the social temper here.--
    From courts to camps, to cottages it strays,
    And all are taught an avarice of praise;
    They please, are pleas'd, they give to get esteem,
    Till, seeming blest, they grow to what they seem.'

Yet France has its evils:

    'For praise too dearly lov'd, or warmly sought,
    Enfeebles all internal strength of thought,
    And the weak soul, within itself unblest,
    Leans all for pleasure on another's breast.--
    The mind still turns where shifting fashion draws,
    Nor weighs the solid worth of self-applause.'

Having then passed through Holland, he arrives in England, where,

    'Stern o'er each bosom reason holds her state,
    With daring aims, irregularly great,
    I see the lords of human kind pass by,
    Pride in their port, defiance in their eye,
    Intent on high designs, a thoughtful band,
    By forms unfashion'd, fresh from Nature's hand.'

With the inconveniences that harrass [_sic_] the sons of freedom, this
extract shall be concluded.

    'That independence Britons prize too high,
    Keeps man from man, and breaks the social tie;
    See, though by circling deeps together held,
    Minds combat minds, repelling and repell'd;
    Ferments arise, imprison'd factions roar,
    Represt ambition struggles round her shore,
    Whilst, over-wrought, the general system feels
    Its motions stopt, or phrenzy fires the wheels.
      Nor this the worst. As social bonds decay,
    As duty, love, and honour fail to sway,
    Fictitious bonds, the bonds of wealth and law,
    Still gather strength, and force unwilling awe.
    Hence all obedience bows to these alone,
    And talent sinks, and merit weeps unknown;
    Till time may come, when, stript of all her charms,
    That land of scholars, and that nurse of arms;
    Where noble stems transmit the patriot flame,
    And monarchs toil, and poets pant for fame;
    One sink of level avarice shall lie,
    And scholars, soldiers, kings unhonor'd die.'

Such is the poem, on which we now congratulate the public, as on a
production to which, since the death of Pope, it will not be easy to
find any thing equal.--_The Critical Review_.




WILLIAM COWPER


_Poems by William Cowper, of the Inner Temple, Esq._ _8vo. 5s._ Johnson.

These Poems are written, as we learn from the title-page, by Mr. Cowper
of the Inner Temple, who seems to be a man of a sober and religious turn
of mind, with a benevolent heart, and a serious wish to inculcate the
precepts of morality; he is not, however, possessed of any superior
abilities, or powers of genius, requisite to so arduous an undertaking;
his verses are, in general, weak and languid, and have neither novelty,
spirit, or animation, to recommend them; that mediocrity so severely
condemned by Horace,

    Non Dii non homines, &c.

pervades the whole; and, whilst the author avoids every thing that is
ridiculous or contemptible, he, at the same time, never rises to any
thing that we can commend or admire. He says what is incontrovertible,
and what has already been said over and over, with much gravity, but
says nothing new, sprightly, or entertaining; travelling on in a plain,
level, flat road, with great composure, almost through the whole long,
and rather tedious volume, which is little better than a dull sermon, in
very indifferent verse, on Truth, the Progress of Error, Charity, and
some other grave subjects. If this author had followed the advice given
by Caraccioli,[G] and which he has chosen for one of the mottos
prefixed to these Poems, he would have clothed his indisputable truths
in some becoming _disguise_, and rendered his work much more agreeable.
In its present state, we cannot compliment him on its shape or beauty;
for, as this bard himself _sweetly_ sings,

    'The clear harangue, and cold as it is clear,
    Falls soporific on the listless ear.'

In his learned dissertation on _Hope_, we meet with the following lines

    [Quotes some fifty lines from _Hope_ beginning,
      Build by whatever plan caprice decrees,
      With what materials, on what ground you please, etc.]

All this is very true; but there needs no ghost, nor author, nor poet,
to tell us what we knew before, unless he could tell it to us in a new
and better manner. Add to this, that many of our author's expressions
are coarse, vulgar, and unpoetical; such as _parrying_, _pushing by_,
_spitting abhorrence_, &c. The greatest part of Mr. Cowper's didactics
is in the same strain. He attempts indeed sometimes to be lively,
facetious, and satirical; but is seldom more successful in this, than in
the serious and pathetic. In his poem on Conversation there are two or
three faint attempts at humour; in one of them he tells us that

    'A story in which native humour reigns
    Is often useful, always entertains,
    A graver fact enlisted on your side,
    May furnish illustration, well applied;
    But sedentary weavers of long tales,
    Give me the fidgets and my patience fails.
    'Tis the most asinine employ on earth,
    To hear them tell of parentage and birth,
    And echo conversations dull and dry,
    Embellished with, _he said_, and _so said I_.
    At ev'ry interview their route the same,
    The repetition makes attention lame,
    We bustle up with unsuccessful speed,
    And in the saddest part cry--droll indeed!
    The path of narrative with care pursue,
    Still making probability your clue,
    On all the vestiges of truth attend,
    And let them guide you to a decent end.
    Of all ambitions man may entertain,
    The worst that can invade a sickly brain,
    Is that which angles hourly for surprize,
    And baits its hook with prodigies and lies.
    Credulous infancy or age as weak
    Are fittest auditors for such to seek,
    Who to please others will themselves disgrace,
    Yet please not, but affront you to your face.'

In the passage above quoted, our readers will perceive that the wit is
rather aukward, [_sic_] and the verses, especially the last, very
prosaic.

Toward the end of this volume are some little pieces of a lighter kind,
which, after dragging through Mr. Cowper's long moral lectures, afforded
us some relief. The fables of the Lily and the Rose, the Nightingale and
Glow-worm, the Pine-apple and the Bee, with two or three others, are
written with ease and spirit. It is a pity that our author had not
confined himself altogether to this species of poetry, without entering
into a system of ethics, for which his genius seems but ill
adapted.--_The Critical Review_.

[Footnote G: Nous sommes nes pour la verite, et nous ne pouvons souffrir
son abord. Les figures, les paraboles, les emblemes, sont toujours des
ornements necessaires pour qu'elle puisse s'annoncer: on veut, en la
recevant, qu'elle soit _deguisee_.]




ROBERT BURNS


_Poems, chiefly in the Scottish Dialect_. _By_ ROBERT BURNS,
_Kilmarnock_.

When an author we know nothing of solicits our attention, we are but too
apt to treat him with the same reluctant civility we show to a person
who has come unbidden into company. Yet talents and address will
gradually diminish the distance of our behaviour, and when the first
unfavourable impression has worn off, the author may become a favourite,
and the stranger a friend. The poems we have just announced may probably
have to struggle with the pride of learning and the partiality of
refinement; yet they are intitled to particular indulgence.

Who are you, Mr. Burns? will some surly critic say. At what university
have you been educated? what languages do you understand? what authors
have you particularly studied? whether has Aristotle or Horace directed
your taste? who has praised your poems, and under whose patronage are
they published? In short, what qualifications intitle you to instruct or
entertain us? To the questions of such a catechism, perhaps honest
Robert Burns would make no satisfactory answers. 'My good Sir, he might
say, I am a poor country man; I was bred up at the school of Kilmarnock;
I understand no languages but my own; I have studied Allan Ramsay and
Ferguson. My poems have been praised at many a fireside; and I ask no
patronage for them, if they deserve none. I have not looked on mankind
_through the spectacle of books_. An ounce of mother-wit, you know, is
worth a pound of clergy; and Homer and Ossian, for any thing that I have
heard, could neither write nor read.' The author is indeed a striking
example of native genius bursting through the obscurity of poverty and
the obstructions of laborious life. He is said to be a common ploughman;
and when we consider him in this light, we cannot help regretting that
wayward fate had not placed him in a more favoured situation. Those who
view him with the severity of lettered criticism, and judge him by the
fastidious rules of art, will discover that he has not the doric
simplicity of Ramsay, nor the brilliant imagination of Ferguson; but to
those who admire the exertions of untutored fancy, and are blind to many
faults for the sake of numberless beauties, his poems will afford
singular gratification. His observations on human characters are acute
and sagacious, and his descriptions are lively and just. Of rustic
pleasantry he has a rich fund; and some of his softer scenes are touched
with inimitable delicacy. He seems to be a boon companion, and often
startles us with a dash of libertinism, which will keep some readers at
a distance. Some of his subjects are serious, but those of the humorous
kind are the best. It is not meant, however, to enter into a minute
investigation of his merits, as the copious extracts we have subjoined
will enable our readers to judge for themselves. The Character Horace
gives to Osellus is particularly applicable to him.

    _Rusticus abnormis sapiens, crassaque Minerva._

[Quotes _Address to the Deil_, from the _Epistle to a Brother Bard_,
from _Description of a Sermon in the Fields_, and from
_Hallowe'en_.]--_The Edinburgh Magazine_.


_Poems, chiefly in the Scottish Dialect_. _By Robert Burns._ Printed at
Kilmarnock.

We have had occasion to examine a number of poetical productions,
written by persons in the lower rank of life, and who had hardly
received any education; but we do not recollect to have ever met with a
more signal instance of true and uncultivated genius, than in the author
of these Poems. His occupation is that of a common ploughman; and his
life has hitherto been spent in struggling with poverty. But all the
rigours of fortune have not been able to repress the frequent efforts of
his lively and vigorous imagination. Some of these poems are of a
serious cast; but the strain which seems most natural to the author, is
the sportive and humorous. It is to be regretted, that the Scottish
dialect, in which these poems are written, must obscure the native
beauties with which they appear to abound, and renders the sense often
unintelligible to an English reader. Should it, however, prove true,
that the author has been taken under the patronage of a great lady in
Scotland, and that a celebrated professor has interested himself in the
cultivation of his talents, there is reason to hope, that his
distinguished genius may yet be exerted in such a manner as to afford
more general delight. In the meantime, we must admire the generous
enthusiasm of his untutored muse; and bestow the tribute of just
applause on one whose name will be transmitted to posterity with
honour.--_The Critical Review_.




WILLIAM WORDSWORTH


_Descriptive Sketches_, in Verse. Taken during a Pedestrian Tour in the
Italian, Grison, Swiss and Savoyard Alps. By W. WORDSWORTH, B.A. of St.
John's, Cambridge. 4to. pp. 55. 3s. Johnson. 1793.

More descriptive poetry! (See page 166, &c.) Have we not yet enough?
Must eternal changes be rung on uplands and lowlands, and nodding
forests, and brooding clouds, and cells, and dells, and dingles? Yes;
more, and yet more: so it is decreed.

Mr. Wordsworth begins his descriptive sketches with the following
exordium:

    'Were there, below, a spot of holy ground,
    By Pain and her sad family _un_found,
    Sure, Nature's God that spot to man had giv'n,
    Where murmuring _rivers join_ the song of _ev'n_!
    Where _falls_ the purple morning far and wide
    _In flakes_ of light upon the mountain side;
    Where summer suns in ocean sink to rest,
    Or moonlight upland lifts her hoary breast;
    Where Silence, on her night of wing, o'er-broods
    Unfathom'd dells and undiscover'd woods;
    Where rocks and groves the _power_ of waters _shakes_
    In cataracts, or sleeps in quiet lakes.'

May we ask, how it is that rivers join the song of ev'n? or, in plain
prose, the evening! but, if they do, is it not true that they equally
join the song of morning, noon, and night? The _purple morning falling
in flakes_ of light is a bold figure: but we are told, it falls far and
wide--Where?--On the mountain's _side_. We are sorry to see the purple
morning confined so like a maniac in a straight waistcoat. What the
night of wing of silence is, we are unable to comprehend: but the
climax of the passage is, that, were there such a spot of holy ground as
is here so sublimely described, _unfound_ by Pain and her sad family,
Nature's God had surely given that spot to man, though its _woods_ were
_undiscovered_.

Let us proceed,

    'But doubly pitying Nature loves to show'r
    Soft on his _wounded heart_ her healing pow'r,
    Who _plods_ o'er hills and vales his road _forlorn_,
    Wooing her varying charms from eve to morn.
    _No sad vacuities_ his heart _annoy_,
    _Blows_ not a Zephyr but it _whispers joy_;
    For him _lost_ flowers their _idle_ sweets _exhale_;
    He _tastes_ the meanest _note_ that swells the gale;
    For him sod-seats the cottage-door adorn,
    And _peeps_ the far-off _spire_, his evening bourn!
    Dear is the forest _frowning_ o'er his head,
    And dear the green-sward to his _velvet tread_;
    Moves there a _cloud_ o'er mid-day's flaming eye?
    Upwards he looks--and calls it luxury;
    Kind Nature's _charities_ his steps attend,
    In every babbling brook he finds a friend.'

Here we find that _doubly_ pitying Nature is very kind to the traveller,
but that this traveller has a _wounded heart_ and _plods_ his road
_forlorn_. In the next line but one we discover that--

    'No _sad vacuities_ his heart _annoy_;
    Blows not a Zephyr but it whispers _joy_.'

The flowers, though they have lost themselves, or are lost, exhale their
idle sweets for him; the _spire peeps_ for him; sod-seats, forests,
clouds, nature's charities, and babbling brooks, all are to him luxury
and friendship. He is the happiest of mortals, and plods, is forlorn,
and has a wounded heart. How often shall we in vain advise those, who
are so delighted with their own thoughts that they cannot forbear from
putting them into rhyme, to examine those thoughts till they themselves
understand them? No man will ever be a poet, till his mind be
sufficiently powerful to sustain this labour.--_The Monthly Review_.


_An Evening Walk_. An Epistle; in Verse. Addressed to a Young Lady, from
the Lakes of the North of England. By W. Wordsworth, B.A. of St. John's,
Cambridge. 4to. pp. 27. 2s. Johnson. 1793.

In this Epistle, the subject and the manner of treating it vary but
little from the former poem. We will quote four lines from a passage
which the author very sorrowfully apologizes for having omitted:

    'Return delights! with whom my road beg_un_,
    When _Life-rear'd_ laughing _up her_ morning _sun_;
    When Transport kiss'd away my April tear,
    "Rocking as in a dream the tedious year."

Life _rearing_ up the sun! Transport kissing away an _April_ tear and
_rocking_ the year as in a dream! Would the cradle had been specified!
Seriously, these are figures which no poetical license can justify. If
they can possibly give pleasure, it must be to readers whose habits of
thinking are totally different from ours. Mr. Wordsworth is a scholar,
and, no doubt, when reading the works of others, a critic. There are
passages in his poems which display imagination, and which afford hope
for the future: but, if he can divest himself of all partiality, and
will critically question every line that he has written, he will find
many which, he must allow, call loudly for amendment.--_The Monthly
Review_.


_Lyrical Ballads, with a few other Poems_. _Small 8vo. 5s. Boards._
Arch. 1798.

The majority of these poems, we are informed in the advertisement, are
to be considered as experiments.

'They were written chiefly with a view to ascertain how far the language
of conversation in the middle and lower classes of society is adapted to
the purposes of poetic pleasure.' P. i.

Of these experimental poems, the most important is the Idiot Boy, the
story of which is simply this. Betty Foy's neighbour Susan Gale is
indisposed; and no one can conveniently be sent for the doctor but
Betty's idiot boy. She therefore puts him upon her poney, at eight
o'clock in the evening, gives him proper directions, and returns to take
care of her sick neighbour. Johnny is expected with the doctor by
eleven; but the clock strikes eleven, and twelve, and one, without the
appearance either of Johnny or the doctor. Betty's restless fears become
insupportable; and she now leaves her friend to look for her idiot son.
She goes to the doctor's house, but hears nothing of Johnny. About five
o'clock, however, she finds him sitting quietly upon his feeding poney.
As they go home they meet old Susan, whose apprehensions have cured her,
and brought her out to seek them; and they all return merrily together.

Upon this subject the author has written nearly five hundred lines. With
what spirit the story is told, our extract will evince.

[Quotes lines (322-401) of _The Idiot Boy_.]

No tale less deserved the labour that appears to have been bestowed upon
this. It resembles a Flemish picture in the worthlessness of its design
and the excellence of its execution. From Flemish artists we are
satisfied with such pieces: who would not have lamented, if Corregio or
Rafaelle had wasted their talents in painting Dutch boors or the humours
of a Flemish wake?

The other ballads of this kind are as bald in story, and are not so
highly embellished in narration. With that which is entitled the Thorn,
we were altogether displeased. The advertisement says, it is not told in
the person of the author, but in that of some loquacious narrator. The
author should have recollected that he who personates tiresome
loquacity, becomes tiresome himself. The story of a man who suffers the
perpetual pain of cold, because an old woman prayed that he might never
be warm, is perhaps a good story for a ballad, because it is a
well-known tale: but is the author certain that it is '_well
authenticated?_' and does not such an assertion promote the popular
superstition of witchcraft?

In a very different style of poetry, is the Rime of the Ancyent
Marinere; a ballad (says the advertisement) 'professedly written in
imitation of the _style_, as well as of the spirit of the elder poets.'
We are tolerably conversant with the early English poets; and can
discover no resemblance whatever, except in antiquated spelling and a
few obsolete words. This piece appears to us perfectly original in style
as well as in story. Many of the stanzas are laboriously beautiful; but
in connection they are absurd or unintelligible. Our readers may
exercise their ingenuity in attempting to unriddle what follows.

    'The roaring wind! it roar'd far off,
      It did not come anear;
    But with its sound it shook the sails
      That were so thin and sere.

    The upper air bursts into life,
      And a hundred fire-flags sheen
    To and fro they are hurried about;
    And to and fro, and in and out
      The stars dance on between.

    The coming wind doth roar more loud;
      The sails do sigh, like sedge:
    The rain pours down from one black cloud,
      And the moon is at its edge.

    Hark! hark! the thick black cloud is cleft,
      And the moon is at its side:
    Like waters shot from some high crag,
    The lightning falls with never a jag
      A river steep and wide.

    The strong wind reach'd the ship: it roar'd
      And dropp'd down, like a stone!
    Beneath the lightning and the moon
      The dead men gave a groan.' P. 27.

We do not sufficiently understand the story to analyse it. It is a Dutch
attempt at German sublimity. Genius has here been employed in producing
a poem of little merit.

With pleasure we turn to the serious pieces, the better part of the
volume. The Foster-Mother's Tale is in the best style of dramatic
narrative. The Dungeon, and the Lines upon the Yew-tree Seat, are
beautiful. The Tale of the Female Vagrant is written in the stanza, not
the style, of Spenser. We extract a part of this poem.

[Quotes lines (91-180) of _The Female Vagrant_.]

Admirable as this poem is, the author seems to discover still superior
powers in the Lines written near Tintern Abbey. On reading this
production, it is impossible not to lament that he should ever have
condescended to write such pieces as the Last of the Flock, the Convict,
and most of the ballads. In the whole range of English poetry, we
scarcely recollect anything superior to a part of the following passage.

[Quotes lines (66-112) of _Lines Written a few Miles above Tintern
Abbey_.]

The 'experiment,' we think, has failed, not because the language of
conversation is little adapted to 'the purposes of poetic pleasure' but
because it has been tried upon uninteresting subjects. Yet every piece
discovers genius; and, ill as the author has frequently employed his
talents, they certainly rank him with the best of living poets.--_The
Critical Review_.


_Poems, in Two Volumes_. _By_ WILLIAM WORDSWORTH, _Author of the Lyrical
Ballads._ 8vo. pp. 320. London, 1807.

This author is known to belong to a certain brotherhood of poets, who
have haunted for some years about the Lakes of Cumberland; and is
generally looked upon, we believe, as the purest model of the
excellences and peculiarities of the school which they have been
labouring to establish. Of the general merits of that school, we have
had occasion to express our opinion pretty freely, in more places than
one, and even to make some allusion to the former publications of the
writer now before us. We are glad, however, to have found an opportunity
of attending somewhat more particularly to his pretensions.

The Lyrical Ballads were unquestionably popular; and, we have no
hesitation in saying, deservedly popular; for in spite of their
occasional vulgarity, affectation, and silliness, they were undoubtedly
characterised by a strong spirit of originality, of pathos, and natural
feeling; and recommended to all good minds by the clear impression which
they bore of the amiable dispositions and virtuous principles of the
author. By the help of these qualities, they were enabled, not only to
recommend themselves to the indulgence of many judicious readers, but
even to beget among a pretty numerous class of persons, a sort of
admiration of the very defects by which they were attended. It was upon
this account chiefly, that we thought it necessary to set ourselves
against this alarming innovation. Childishness, conceit, and
affectation, are not of themselves very popular or attractive; and
though mere novelty has sometimes been found sufficient to give them a
temporary currency, we should have had no fear of their prevailing to
any dangerous extent, if they had been graced with no more seductive
accompaniments. It was precisely because the perverseness and bad taste
of this new school was combined with a great deal of genius and of
laudable feeling, that we were afraid of their spreading and gaining
ground among us, and that we entered into the discussion with a degree
of zeal and animosity which some might think unreasonable toward
authors, to whom so much merit had been conceded. There were times and
moods indeed, in which we were led to suspect ourselves of unjustifiable
severity, and to doubt, whether a sense of public duty had not carried
us rather too far in reprobation of errors, that seemed to be atoned
for, by excellences of no vulgar description. At other times, the
magnitude of these errors--the disgusting absurdities into which they
led their feebler admirers, and the derision and contempt which they
drew from the more fastidious, even upon the merits with which they were
associated, made us wonder more than ever at the perversity by which
they were retained, and regret that we had not declared ourselves
against them with still more formidable and decided hostility.

In this temper of mind, we read the _annonce_ of Mr Wordsworth's
publication with a good deal of interest and expectation, and opened his
volumes with greater anxiety, than he or his admirers will probably give
us credit for. We have been greatly disappointed certainly as to the
quality of the poetry; but we doubt whether the publication has afforded
so much satisfaction to any other of his readers:--it has freed us from
all doubt or hesitation as to the justice of our former censures, and
has brought the matter to a test, which we cannot help hoping may be
convincing to the author himself.

Mr Wordsworth, we think, has now brought the question, as to the merit
of his new school of poetry, to a very fair and decisive issue. The
volumes before us are much more strongly marked by all its peculiarities
than any former publication of the fraternity. In our apprehension, they
are, on this very account, infinitely less interesting or meritorious;
but it belongs to the public, and not to us, to decide upon their merit,
and we will confess, that so strong is our conviction of their obvious
inferiority, and the grounds of it, that we are willing for once to
wa[i]ve our right of appealing to posterity, and to take the judgment of
the present generation of readers, and even of Mr Wordsworth's former
admirers, as conclusive on this occasion. If these volumes, which have
all the benefit of the author's former popularity, turn out to be nearly
as popular as the lyrical ballads--if they sell nearly to the same
extent--or are quoted and imitated among half as many individuals, we
shall admit that Mr Wordsworth has come much nearer the truth in his
judgment of what constitutes the charm of poetry, than we had previously
imagined--and shall institute a more serious and respectful inquiry into
his principles of composition than we have yet thought necessary. On the
other hand,--if this little work, selected from the compositions of five
maturer years, and written avowedly for the purpose of exalting a
system, which has already excited a good deal of attention, should be
generally rejected by those whose prepossessions were in its favour,
there is room to hope, not only that the system itself will meet with no
more encouragement, but even that the author will be persuaded to
abandon a plan of writing, which defrauds his industry and talents of
their natural reward.

Putting ourselves thus upon our country, we certainly look for a verdict
against this publication; and have little doubt indeed of the result,
upon a fair consideration of the evidence contained in these
volumes.--To accelerate that result, and to give a general view of the
evidence, to those into whose hands the record may not have already
fallen, we must now make a few observations and extracts.

We shall not resume any of the particular discussions by which we
formerly attempted to ascertain the value of the improvements which this
new school had effected in poetry;[H] but shall lay the grounds of our
opposition, for this time, a little more broadly. The end of poetry, we
take it, is to please--and the name, we think, is strictly applicable to
every metrical composition from which we receive pleasure, without any
laborious exercise of the understanding. This pleasure, may, in general,
be analyzed into three parts--that which we receive from the excitement
of Passion or emotion--that which is derived from the play of
Imagination, or the easy exercise of Reason--and that which depends on
the character and qualities of the Diction. The two first are the vital
and primary springs of poetical delight, and can scarcely require
explanation to any one. The last has been alternately overrated and
undervalued by the professors of the poetical art, and is in such low
estimation with the author now before us and his associates, that it is
necessary to say a few words in explanation of it.

One great beauty of diction exists only for those who have some degree
of scholarship or critical skill. This is what depends on the exquisite
_propriety_ of the words employed, and the delicacy with which they are
adapted to the meaning which is to be expressed. Many of the finest
passages in Virgil and Pope derive their principal charm from the fine
propriety of their diction. Another source of beauty, which extends
only to the more instructed class of readers, is that which consists in
the judicious or happy application of expressions which have been
sanctified by the use of famous writers, or which bear the stamp of a
simple or venerable antiquity. There are other beauties of diction,
however, which are perceptible by all--the beauties of sweet sound and
pleasant associations. The melody of words and verses is indifferent to
no reader of poetry; but the chief recommendation of poetical language
is certainly derived from those general associations, which give it a
character of dignity or elegance, sublimity or tenderness. Every one
knows that there are low and mean expressions, as well as lofty and
grave ones; and that some words bear the impression of coarseness and
vulgarity, as clearly as others do of refinement and affection. We do
not mean, of course, to say anything in defence of the hackneyed
common-places of ordinary versemen. Whatever might have been the
original character of these unlucky phrases, they are now associated
with nothing but ideas of schoolboy imbecility and vulgar affectation.
But what we do maintain is, that much of the most popular poetry in the
world owes its celebrity chiefly to the beauty of its diction; and that
no poetry can be long or generally acceptable, the language of which is
coarse, inelegant, or infantine.

From this great source of pleasure, we think the readers of Mr
Wordsworth are in a great measure cut off. His diction has no where any
pretensions to elegance or dignity; and he has scarcely ever
condescended to give the grace of correctness or melody to his
versification. If it were merely slovenly and neglected, however, all
this might be endured. Strong sense and powerful feeling will ennoble
any expressions; or, at least, no one who is capable of estimating those
higher merits, will be disposed to mark these little defects. But, in
good truth, no man, now-a-days, composes verses for publication with a
slovenly neglect of their language. It is a fine and laborious
manufacture, which can scarcely ever be made in a hurry; and the faults
which it has, may, for the most part, be set down to bad taste or
incapacity, rather than to carelessness or oversight. With Mr Wordsworth
and his friends, it is plain that their peculiarities of diction are
things of choice, and not of accident. They write as they do, upon
principle and system; and it evidently costs them much pains to keep
_down_ to the standard which they have proposed to themselves. They are,
to the full, as much mannerists, too, as the poetasters who ring changes
on the common-places of magazine versification; and all the difference
between them is, that they borrow their phrases from a different and a
scantier _gradus ad Parnassum_. If they were, indeed, to discard all
imitation and set phraseology, and to bring in no words merely for show
or for metre,--as much, perhaps, might be gained in freedom and
originality, as would infallibly be lost in allusion and authority; but,
in point of fact, the new poets are just as great borrowers as the old;
only that, instead of borrowing from the more popular passages of their
illustrious predecessors, they have preferred furnishing themselves from
vulgar ballads and plebeian nurseries.

Their peculiarities of diction alone, are enough, perhaps, to render
them ridiculous; but the author before us really seems anxious to court
this literary martyrdom by a device still more infallible,--we mean,
that of connecting his most lofty, tender, or impassioned conceptions,
with objects and incidents, which the greater part of his readers will
probably persist in thinking low, silly, or uninteresting. Whether this
is done from affectation and conceit alone, or whether it may not
arise, in some measure, from the self-illusion of a mind of
extraordinary sensibility, habituated to solitary meditation, we cannot
undertake to determine. It is possible enough, we allow, that the sight
of a friend's garden-spade, or a sparrow's nest, or a man gathering
leeches, might really have suggested to such a mind a train of powerful
impressions and interesting reflections; but it is certain, that, to
most minds, such associations will always appear forced, strained, and
unnatural; and that the composition in which it is attempted to exhibit
them, will always have the air of parody, or ludicrous and affected
singularity. All the world laughs at Elegiac stanzas to a sucking-pig--a
Hymn on Washing-day--Sonnets to one's grandmother--or Pindarics on
gooseberry-pye; and yet, we are afraid, it will not be quite easy to
convince Mr Wordsworth, that the same ridicule must infallibly attach to
most of the pathetic pieces in these volumes. To satisfy our readers,
however, as to the justice of this and our other anticipations, we shall
proceed, without further preface, to lay before them a short view of
their contents.

The first is a kind of ode 'to the Daisy,'--very flat, feeble, and
affected; and in a diction as artificial, and as much encumbered with
heavy expletives, as the theme of an unpractised schoolboy. The two
following stanzas will serve as a specimen.

    'When soothed a while by milder airs,
    Thee Winter in the garland wears
    That thinly shades his few grey hairs;
      _Spring cannot shun thee_;
    Whole summer fields are thine by right;
    And Autumn, melancholy Wight!
    Doth in thy crimson head delight
      When rains are on thee.
    In shoals and bands, a morrice train,
    Thou greet'st the Traveller in the lane;
    If welcome once thou count'st it gain;
      _Thou art not daunted_,
    Nor car'st if thou be set at naught;
    And oft alone in nooks remote
    We meet thee, like a pleasant thought,
      _When such are wanted_.' I. p. 2.

The scope of the piece is to say, that the flower is found everywhere;
and that it has suggested many pleasant thoughts to the author--some
chime of fancy '_wrong or right_'--some feeling of devotion 'more or
less'--and other elegancies of the same stamp. It ends with this
unmeaning prophecy.

    'Thou long the poet's praise shalt gain;
    Thou wilt be more beloved by men
    In times to come; thou not in vain
      Art Nature's favourite.' I. 6.

The next is called 'Louisa,' and begins in this dashing and affected
manner.

    'I met Louisa in the shade;
    And, having seen that lovely maid,
    _Why should I fear to say_
    That she is ruddy, fleet, and _strong_;
    _And down the rocks can leap_ along,
    Like rivulets in May?' I. 7.

Does Mr Wordsworth really imagine that this is at all more natural or
engaging than the ditties of our common song writers?

A little farther on we have another original piece, entitled, 'The
Redbreast and the Butterfly,' of which our readers will probably be
contented with the first stanza.

    'Art thou the bird whom man loves best,
    The pious bird with the scarlet breast,
      Our little English Robin;
    The bird that comes about our doors
    When autumn winds are sobbing?
    Art thou the Peter of Norway Boors?
      Their Thomas in Finland,
      And Russia far inland?
    The bird, whom _by some name or other_
    All men who know thee call their brother,
    The darling of children and men?
    Could Father Adam open his eyes,
    And see this sight beneath the skies,
    He'd wish to close them again.' I. 16.

This, it must be confessed, is 'Silly Sooth' in good earnest. The three
last [_sic_] lines seem to be downright raving.

By and by, we have a piece of namby-pamby 'to the Small Celandine,'
which we should almost have taken for a professed imitation of one of Mr
Philip's prettyisms. Here is a page of it.

    'Comfort have thou of thy merit,
    Kindly, unassuming spirit!
    Careless of thy neighbourhood,
    Thou dost show thy pleasant face
    On the moor, and in the wood,
    In the lane;--there's not a place,
    Howsoever mean it be,
    But 'tis good enough for thee.
    Ill befal the yellow flowers,
    Children of the flaring hours!
    Buttercups, that will be seen,
    Whether we will see or no;
    Others, too, of lofty mien;
    They have done as worldlings do,
    Taken praise that should be thine,
    Little, humble, Celandine!' I. 25.

After talking of its 'bright coronet,' the ditty is wound up with this
piece of babyish absurdity.

    'Thou art not beyond the moon,
    But a thing "beneath our shoon;"
    Let, as old Magellan did,
    Others roam about the sea;
    Build who will a pyramid;
    Praise it is enough for me,
    If there be but three or four
    Who will love my little flower.' I. 30.

After this come some more manly lines on 'The Character of the Happy
Warrior,' and a chivalrous legend on 'The Horn of Egremont Castle,'
which, without being very good, is very tolerable, and free from most of
the author's habitual defects. Then follow some pretty, but professedly
childish verses, on a kitten playing with the falling leaves. There is
rather too much of Mr Ambrose Philips here and there in this piece also;
but it is amiable and lively.

Further on, we find an 'Ode to Duty,' in which the lofty vein is very
unsuccessfully attempted. This is the concluding stanza.

    'Stern lawgiver! yet thou dost wear
    The Godhead's most benignant grace;
    Nor know we anything so fair
    As is the smile upon thy face;
    Flowers laugh before thee on their beds;
    And fragrance in thy footing treads;
    Thou dost preserve the stars from wrong;
    And the most ancient heavens through thee are fresh and strong.' I. 73.

The two last [_sic_] lines seem to be utterly without meaning; at least
we have no sort of conception in what sense _Duty_ can be said to keep
the old skies _fresh_, and the stars from wrong.

The next piece, entitled 'The Beggars,' may be taken, we fancy, as a
touchstone of Mr Wordsworth's merit. There is something about it that
convinces us it is a favourite of the author's; though to us, we will
confess, it appears to be a very paragon of silliness and affectation.
Our readers shall have the greater part of it. It begins thus.

      'She had a tall man's height, or more;
      No bonnet screen'd her from the heat;
      A long drab-coloured cloak she wore,
      A mantle reaching to her feet:
      What other dress she had I could not know;
    Only she wore a cap that was as white as snow.

      'Before me begging did she stand,
      Pouring out sorrows like a sea;
      Grief after grief:--on English land
      Such woes I knew could never be;
      And yet a boon I gave her; for the creature
    Was beautiful to see; a weed of glorious feature!' I. 77, 78.

The poet, leaving this interesting person, falls in with two ragged boys
at play, and 'like that woman's face as gold is like to gold.' Here is
the conclusion of this memorable adventure.

      'They bolted on me thus, and lo!
      Each ready with a plaintive whine;
      Said I, "Not half an hour ago
      Your mother has had alms of mine."
      "That cannot be," one answered, "She is dead."
    "Nay but I gave her pence, and she will buy you bread."

      "She has been dead, Sir, many a day."
      "Sweet boys, you're telling me a lie";
      "It was your mother, as I say--"
      And in the twinkling of an eye,
      "Come, come!" cried one; and, without more ado,
    Off to some other play they both together flew.' I. 79.

'Alice Fell' is a performance of the same order. The poet, driving into
Durham in a postchaise, hears a sort of scream; and, calling to the
post-boy to stop, finds a little girl crying on the back of the vehicle.

    "My cloak!" the word was last and first,
    And loud and bitterly she wept,
    As if her very heart would burst;
    And down from off the chaise she leapt.

    "What ails you, child?" she sobb'd, "Look here!"
    I saw it in the wheel entangled,
    A weather beaten rag as e'er
    From any garden scarecrow dangled.' I. 85, 86.

They then extricate the torn garment, and the good-natured bard takes
the child into the carriage along with him. The narrative proceeds--

    "My child, in Durham do you dwell?"
    She check'd herself in her distress,
    And said, "My name is Alice Fell;
    I'm fatherless and motherless.

    And I to Durham, Sir, belong."
    And then, as if the thought would choke
    Her very heart, her grief grew strong;
    And all was for her tatter'd cloak.

    The chaise drove on; our journey's end
    Was nigh; and, sitting by my side,
    As if she'd lost her only friend
    She wept, nor would be pacified.

    Up to the tavern-door we post;
    Of Alice and her grief I told;
    And I gave money to the host,
    To buy a new cloak for the old.

    "And let it be of duffil grey,
    As warm a cloak as man can sell!"
    Proud creature was she the next day,
    The little orphan, Alice Fell!' I. p. 87, 88.

If the printing of such trash as this be not felt as an insult on the
public taste, we are afraid it cannot be insulted.

After this follows the longest and most elaborate poem in the volume,
under the title of 'Resolution and Independence.' The poet, roving about
on a common one fine morning, falls into pensive musings on the fate of
the sons of song, which he sums up in this fine distich.

    'We poets in our youth begin in gladness;
    But thereof comes in the end despondency and madness.' I. p. 92.

In the midst of his meditations--

    'I saw a man before me unawares;
    The oldest man he seemed that ever wore grey hairs.

              ----------

    Motionless as a cloud the old man stood;
    That heareth not the loud winds when they call;
    And moveth altogether, if it move at all.
    At length, himself unsettling, he the pond
    Stirred with his staff, and fixedly did look
    Upon the muddy water, which he conn'd,
    As if he had been reading in a book:
    And now such fre[e]dom as I could I took;
    And, drawing to his side, to him did say,
    "This morning gives us promise of a glorious day."

              ----------

    "What kind of work is that which you pursue?
    This is a lonesome place for one like you."
    He answer'd me _with pleasure and surprise_;
    And there was, while he spake, a fire about his eyes.
    He told me _that he to this pond had come
    To gather leeches_, being old and poor:
    Employment hazardous and wearisome!
    And he had many hardships to endure:
    From pond to pond he roam'd, from moor to moor,
    Housing, with God's good help, by choice or chance:
    And in this way he gain'd an honest maintenance.' I. p. 92-95.

Notwithstanding the distinctness of this answer, the poet, it seems, was
so wrapped up in his own moody fancies, that he could not attend to it.

    'And now, not knowing what the old man had said,
    My question eagerly did I renew,
    "How is it that you live, and what is it you do?"
    He with a smile did then his words repeat;
    And said, that, _gathering leeches_, far and wide
    He travelled; stirring thus _about his feet_
    The waters of the ponds where they abide.
    "_Once I could meet with them on every side_;
    But they have dwindled long by slow decay;
    Yet still I persevere, and find them where I may." I. p. 96, 97.

This very interesting account, which he is lucky enough at last to
comprehend, fills the poet with comfort and admiration; and, quite glad
to find the old man so cheerful, he resolves to take a lesson of
contentedness from him; and the poem ends with this pious ejaculation--

    "God," said I, "be my help and stay secure;
    I'll think of the leech-gatherer on the lonely moor." I. p. 97.

We defy the bitterest enemy of Mr Wordsworth to produce anything at all
parallel to this from any collection of English poetry, or even from the
specimens of his friend Mr Southey. The volume ends with some sonnets,
in a very different measure, of which we shall say something by and by.

The first poems in the second volume were written during a tour in
Scotland. The first is a very dull one about Rob Roy; but the title that
attracted us most was 'an Address to the Sons of _Burns_, after visiting
their Father's Grave.' Never was anything, however, more miserable. This
is one of the four stanzas.

    'Strong bodied if ye be to bear
    Intemperance with less harm, beware!
    But if your father's wit ye share,
      Then, then indeed,
    Ye sons of Burns! for watchful care
      There will be need.' II. p. 29.

The next is a very tedious, affected performance, called 'the Yarrow
Unvisited.' The drift of it is, that the poet refused to visit this
celebrated stream, because he had 'a vision of his own' about it, which
the reality might perhaps undo; and, for this no less fantastical
reason--

    "Should life be dull, and spirits low,
    'Twill soothe us in our sorrow,
    That earth has something yet to show,
    The bonny holms of Yarrow!" II. p. 35.

After this we come to some ineffable compositions which the poet has
simply entitled, 'Moods of my own Mind.' One begins--

    'O Nightingale! thou surely art
    A creature of a fiery heart--
    Thou sing'st as if the god of wine
    Had help'd thee to a valentine.' II. p. 42.

This is the whole of another--

    'My heart leaps up when I behold
      A rainbow in the sky:
    So was it when my life began;
    So is it now I am a man;
    So be it when I shall grow old,
      Or let me die!
    The child is father of the man;
    And I could wish my days to be
    Bound each to each by natural piety.' II. p. 44.

A third, 'on a Sparrow's Nest,' runs thus--

    'Look, five blue eggs are gleaming there!
    _Few visions have I seen more fair,_
    _Nor many prospects of delight_
    More pleasing than that simple sight.' II. p. 53.

The charm of this fine prospect, however, was, that it reminded him of
another nest which his sister Emmeline and he had visited in their
childhood.

    'She look'd at it as if she fear'd it;
    Still wishing, dreading to be near it:
    Such heart was in her, being then
    A little prattler among men,' &c., &c. II. p. 54.

We have then a rapturous mystical ode to the Cuckoo; in which the
author, striving after force and originality, produces nothing but
absurdity.

    'O cuckoo! shall I call thee bird,
    Or but a wandering voice?' II. p. 57.

And then he says, that the said voice seemed to pass from hill to hill,
'about and all about!'--Afterwards he assures us, it tells him 'in the
vale of visionary hours,' and calls it a darling; but still insists,
that it is

    'No bird; but an invisible thing,
    A voice,--a mystery.' II. p. 58.

It is afterwards 'a hope;' and 'a love;' and, finally,

    'O blessed _bird_! the earth we pace
    Again appears to be
    An unsubstantial, faery place,
    That is fit home for thee!' II. p. 59.

After this there is an address to a butterfly, whom he invites to visit
him, in these simple strains--

    'This plot of orchard-ground is ours;
    My trees they are, my sister's flowers;
    Stop here whenever you are weary.' II. p. 61.

We come next to a long story of a 'Blind Highland Boy,' who lived near
an arm of the sea, and had taken a most unnatural desire to venture on
that perilous element. His mother did all she could to prevent him; but
one morning, when the good woman was out of the way, he got into a
vessel of his own, and pushed out from the shore.

    'In such a vessel ne'er before
    Did human creature leave the shore.' II. p. 72.

And then we are told, that if the sea should get rough, 'a bee-hive
would be ship as safe.' 'But say, what is it?' a poetical interlocutor
is made to exclaim most naturally; and here followeth the answer, upon
which all the pathos and interest of the story depend.

    'A HOUSEHOLD TUB, like one of those
    Which women use to wash their clothes!!' II. p. 72.

This, it will be admitted, is carrying the matter as far as it will well
go; nor is there anything,--down to the wiping of shoes, or the
evisceration of chickens,--which may not be introduced in poetry, if
this is tolerated. A boat is sent out and brings the boy ashore, who
being tolerably frightened we suppose, promises to go to sea no more;
and so the story ends.

Then we have a poem, called 'the Green Linnet,' which opens with the
poet's telling us;

    'A whispering leaf is now my joy,
    And then a bird will be the _toy_
      That doth my fancy _tether_.' II. p. 79.

and closes thus--

    'While thus before my eyes he gleams,
    A brother of the leaves he seems;
    When in a moment forth _he teems_
      His little song in gushes:
    As if it pleas'd him to disdain
    And mock the form which he did feign,
    While he was dancing with the train
      Of leaves among the bushes.' II. p. 81.

The next is called 'Star Gazers.' A set of people peeping through a
telescope, all seem to come away disappointed with the sight; whereupon
thus sweetly moralizeth our poet.

    'Yet, showman, where can lie the cause? Shall thy implement have blame,
    A boaster, that when he is tried, fails, and is put to shame?
    Or is it good as others are, and be their eyes in fault?
    Their eyes, or minds? or, finally, is this resplendent vault?

    Or, is it rather, that conceit rapacious is and strong,
    And bounty never yields so much but it seems to do her wrong?
    Or is it, that when human souls a journey long have had,
    And are returned into themselves, they cannot but be sad?' II. p. 88.

There are then some really sweet and amiable verses on a French lady,
separated from her own children, fondling the baby of a neighbouring
cottager;--after which we have this quintessence of unmeaningness,
entitled, 'Foresight.'

    'That is work which I am rueing--
    Do as Charles and I are doing!
    Strawberry-blossoms, one and all,
    We must spare them--here are many:
    Look at it--the flower is small,
    Small and low, though fair as any:
    Do not touch it! Summers two
    I am older, Anne, than you.
    Pull the primrose, sister Anne!
    Pull as many as you can.

    Primroses, the spring may love them--
    Summer knows but little of them:
    Violets, do what they will,
    Wither'd on the ground must lie:
    Daisies will be daisies still;
    Daisies they must live and die:
    Fill your lap, and fill your bosom,
    Only spare the strawberry-blossom!' II. p. 115, 116.

Afterwards come some stanzas about an echo repeating a cuckoo's voice;
here is one for a sample--

    'Whence the voice? from air or earth?
    _This the cuckoo cannot tell_;
    But a startling sound had birth,
    _As the bird must know full well_.' II. p. 123.

Then we have Elegiac stanzas 'to the Spade of a friend,' beginning--

    'Spade! with which Wilkinson hath till'd his lands,'

--but too dull to be quoted any further.

After this there is a Minstrel's Song, on the Restoration of Lord
Clifford the Shepherd, which is in a very different strain of poetry;
and then the volume is wound up with an 'Ode,' with no other title but
the motto, _Paulo majora canamus_. This is, beyond all doubt, the most
illegible and unintelligible part of the publication. We can pretend to
give no analysis or explanation of it;--our readers must make what they
can of the following extracts.

    '----But there's a tree, of many one,
    A single field which I have look'd upon,
    Both of them speak of something that is gone:
          The pansy at my feet
          Doth the same tale repeat:
    Whither is fled the visionary gleam?
    Where is it now, the glory and the dream?' II. 150.

              ----------

          O joy! that in our embers
          Is something that doth live,
          That nature yet remembers
          What was so fugitive!
    The thought of our past years in me doth breed
    Perpetual benedictions: not indeed
    For that which is most worthy to be blest:
    Delight and liberty, the simple creed
    Of childhood, whether fluttering or at rest,
    With new-born hope forever in his breast:--
          Not for these I raise
        The song of thanks and praise;
      But for those obstinate questionings
      Of sense and outward things,
      Fallings from us, vanishings;
      Blank misgivings of a creature
    Moving about in worlds not realiz'd,
    High instincts, before which our mortal nature
    Did tremble like a guilty thing surpriz'd:
      But for those first affections,
      Those shadowy recollections,
          Which be they what they may,
    Are yet the fountain light of all our day,
    Are yet a master light of all our feeling
          Uphold us, cherish us, and make
    Our noisy years seem moments in the being
    Of the eternal silence: truths that wake,
          To perish never;
    Which neither listlessness, nor mad endeavour,
          Nor man nor boy,
    Nor all that is at enmity with joy,
    Can utterly abolish or destroy!
        Hence, in a season of calm weather,
          Though inland far we be,
    Our souls have sight of that immortal sea
          Which brought us hither,
        Can in a moment travel thither,
    And see the children sport upon the shore,
    And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore.' II. 154-6.

We have thus gone through this publication, with a view to enable our
readers to determine, whether the author of the verses which have now
been exhibited, is entitled to claim the honours of an improver or
restorer of our poetry, and to found a new school to supersede or
new-model all our maxims on this subject. If we were to stop here, we do
not think that Mr Wordsworth, or his admirers, would have any reason to
complain; for what we have now quoted is undeniably the most peculiar
and characteristic part of his publication, and must be defended and
applauded if the merit or originality of his system is to be seriously
maintained. In our own opinion, however, the demerit of that system
cannot be fairly appreciated, until it be shown, that the author of the
bad verses which we have already extracted, can write good verses when
he pleases; and that, in point of fact, he does always write good
verses, when, by any accident, he is led to abandon his system, and to
transgress the laws of that school which he would fain establish on the
ruin of all existing authority.

The length to which our extracts and observations have already extended,
necessarily restrains us within more narrow limits in this part of our
citations; but it will not require much labour to find a pretty decided
contrast to some of the passages we have already detailed. The song on
the restoration of Lord Clifford is put into the mouth of an ancient
minstrel of the family; and in composing it, the author was led,
therefore, almost irresistibly to adopt the manner and phraseology that
is understood to be connected with that sort of composition, and to
throw aside his own babyish incidents and fantastical sensibilities. How
he has succeeded, the reader will be able to judge from the few
following extracts.

[Quotes fifty-six lines of _Lord Clifford_.]

All English writers of sonnets have imitated Milton; and, in this way,
Mr Wordsworth, when he writes sonnets, escapes again from the trammels
of his own unfortunate system; and the consequence is, that his sonnets
are as much superior to the greater part of his other poems, as Milton's
sonnets are superior to his.

[Quotes the sonnets _On the Extinction of the Venetian Republic_,
_London_, and _I griev'd for Buonaparte_.]

When we look at these, and many still finer passages, in the writings of
this author, it is impossible not to feel a mixtures of indignation and
compassion, at that strange infatuation which has bound him up from the
fair exercise of his talents, and withheld from the public the many
excellent productions that would otherwise have taken the place of the
trash now before us. Even in the worst of these productions, there are,
no doubt, occasional little traits of delicate feeling and original
fancy; but these are quite lost and obscured in the mass of childishness
and insipidity with which they are incorporated; nor can any thing give
us a more melancholy view of the debasing effects of this miserable
theory, than that it has given ordinary men a right to wonder at the
folly and presumption of a man gifted like Mr Wordsworth, and made him
appear, in his second avowed publication, like a bad imitator of the
worst of his former productions.

We venture to hope, that there is now an end of this folly; and that,
like other follies, it will be found to have cured itself by the
extravagances resulting from its unbridled indulgence. In this point of
view, the publication of the volumes before us may ultimately be of
service to the good cause of literature. Many a generous rebel, it is
said, has been reclaimed to his allegiance by the spectacle of lawless
outrage and excess presented in the conduct of the insurgents; and we
think there is every reason to hope, that the lamentable consequences
which have resulted from Mr Wordsworth's open violation of the
established laws of poetry, will operate as a wholesome warning to those
who might otherwise have been seduced by his example, and be the means
of restoring to that antient and venerable code its due honour and
authority.--_The Edinburgh Review_.

[Footnote H: See Vol. I. p. 63, &c.--Vol. VII. p. 1, &c.]




SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE


_Christabel: Kubla Khan, a Vision. The Pains of Sleep_. By S.T.
COLERIDGE, ESQ. London, Murray, 1816.

The advertisement by which this work was announced to the publick,
carried in its front a recommendation from Lord Byron,--who, it seems,
has somewhere praised Christabel, as 'a wild and singularly original and
beautiful poem.' Great as the noble bard's merits undoubtedly are in
poetry, some of his latest _publications_ dispose us to distrust his
authority, where the question is what ought to meet the public eye; and
the works before us afford an additional proof, that his judgment on
such matters is not absolutely to be relied on. Moreover, we are a
little inclined to doubt the value of the praise which one poet lends
another. It seems now-a-days to be the practice of that once irritable
race to laud each other without bounds; and one can hardly avoid
suspecting, that what is thus lavishly advanced may be laid out with a
view to being repaid with interest. Mr Coleridge, however, must be
judged by his own merits.

It is remarked, by the writers upon the Bathos, that the true _profound_
is surely known by one quality--its being wholly bottomless; insomuch,
that when you think you have attained its utmost depth in the work of
some of its great masters, another, or peradventure the same, astonishes
you, immediately after, by a plunge so much more vigorous, as to outdo
all his former outdoings. So it seems to be with the new school, or, as
they may be termed, the wild or lawless poets. After we had been
admiring their extravagance for many years, and marvelling at the ease
and rapidity with which one exceeded another in the unmeaning or
infantine, until not an idea was left in the rhyme--or in the insane,
until we had reached something that seemed the untamed effusion of an
author whose thoughts were rather more free than his actions--forth
steps Mr Coleridge, like a giant refreshed with sleep, and as if to
redeem his character after so long a silence, ('his poetic powers having
been, he says, from 1808 till very lately, in a state of suspended
animation,' p. v.) and breaks out in these precise words--

    ''Tis the middle of night by the castle clock,
    And the owls have awaken'd the crowing cock;
    Tu ---- whit! ---- Tu ---- whoo!
    And hark, again! the crowing cock,
    How drowsily it crew.'
    'Sir Leoline, the Baron rich,
    Hath a toothless mastiff bitch;
    From her kennel beneath the rock
    She makes answer to the clock,
    Four for the quarters, and twelve for the hour:
    Ever and aye, moonshine or shower,
    Sixteen short howls, not over loud;
    Some say she sees my lady's shroud.'
    'Is the night chilly and dark?
    The night is chilly, but not dark.' p. 3, 4.

It is probable that Lord Byron may have had this passage in his eye,
when he called the poem 'wild' and 'original;' but how he discovered it
to be 'beautiful,' is not quite so easy for us to imagine.

Much of the art of the wild writers consists in sudden
transitions--opening eagerly upon some topic, and then flying from it
immediately. This indeed is known to the medical men, who not
unfrequently have the care of them, as an unerring symptom. Accordingly,
here we take leave of the Mastiff Bitch, and lose sight of her entirely,
upon the entrance of another personage of a higher degree,

    'The lovely Lady Christabel,
    Whom her father loves so well'--

And who, it seems, has been rambling about all night, having, the night
before, had dreams about her lover, which 'made her moan and _leap_.'
While kneeling, in the course of her rambles, at an old oak, she hears a
noise on the other side of the stump, and going round, finds, to her
great surprize, another fair damsel in white silk, but with her dress
and hair in some disorder; at the mention of whom, the poet takes
fright, not, as might be imagined, because of her disorder, but on
account of her beauty and her fair attire--

    'I guess, 'twas frightful there to see
    A lady so richly clad as she--
    Beautiful exceedingly!'

Christabel naturally asks who she is, and is answered, at some length,
that her name is Geraldine; that she was, on the morning before, seized
by five warriors, who tied her on a white horse, and drove her on, they
themselves following, also on white horses; and that they had rode all
night. Her narrative now gets to be a little contradictory, which gives
rise to unpleasant suspicions. She protests vehemently, and with oaths,
that she has no idea who the men were; only that one of them, the
tallest of the five, took her and placed her under the tree, and that
they all went away, she knew not whither; but how long she had remained
there she cannot tell--

    'Nor do I know how long it is,
    For I have lain in fits, I _wis_;'

--although she had previously kept a pretty exact account of the time.
The two ladies then go home together, after this satisfactory
explanation, which appears to have conveyed to the intelligent mind of
Lady C. every requisite information. They arrive at the castle, and pass
the night in the same bed-room; not to disturb Sir Leoline, who, it
seems, was poorly at the time, and, of course, must have been called up
to speak to the chambermaids, and have the sheets aired, if Lady G. had
had a room to herself. They do not get to their bed, however in the
poem, quite so easily as we have carried them. They first cross the
moat, and Lady C. 'took the key that fitted well,' and opened a little
door, 'all in the middle of the gate.' Lady G. then sinks down 'belike
through pain;' but it should seem more probably from laziness; for her
fair companion having lifted her up, and carried her a little way, she
then walks on 'as she were not in pain.' Then they cross the court--but
we must give this in the poet's words, for he seems so pleased with
them, that he inserts them twice over in the space of ten lines.

    'So free from danger, free from fear,
    They crossed the court--right glad they were.'

Lady C. is desirous of a little conversation on the way, but Lady G.
will not indulge her Ladyship, saying she is too much tired to speak. We
now meet our old friend, the mastiff bitch, who is much too important a
person to be slightly passed by--

    'Outside her kennel, the mastiff old
    Lay fast asleep, in moonshine cold.
    The mastiff old did not awake,
    Yet she an angry moan did make!
    And what can ail the mastiff bitch?
    Never till now she uttered yell
    Beneath the eye of Christabel.
    Perhaps it is the owlet's scritch:
    For what can ail the mastiff bitch?'

Whatever it may be that ails the bitch, the ladies pass forward, and
take off their shoes, and tread softly all the way upstairs, as
Christabel observes that her father is a bad sleeper. At last, however,
they do arrive at the bed-room, and comfort themselves with a dram of
some homemade liquor, which proves to be very old; for it was made by
Lady C.'s mother; and when her new friend asks if she thinks the old
lady will take her part, she answers, that this is out of the question,
in as much as she happened to die in childbed of her. The mention of the
old lady, however, gives occasion to the following pathetic
couplet.--Christabel says,

    'O mother dear, that thou wert here!
    I would, said Geraldine, she were!'

A very mysterious conversation next takes place between Lady Geraldine
and the old gentlewoman's ghost, which proving extremely fatiguing to
her, she again has recourse to the bottle--and with excellent effect, as
appears by these lines.

    'Again the wild-flower wine she drank;
    Her fair large eyes 'gan glitter bright,
    'And from the floor whereon she sank,
    The lofty Lady stood upright:
      She was most beautiful to see,
      Like a Lady of a far countree.'

--From which, we may gather among other points, the exceeding great
beauty of all women who live in a distant place, no matter where. The
effects of the cordial speedily begin to appear; as no one, we imagine,
will doubt, that to its influence must be ascribed the following
speech--

    'And thus the lofty lady spake--
    All they, who live in the upper sky,
    Do love you, holy Christabel!
    And you love them--and for their sake
    And for the good which me befel,
    Even I in my degree will try,
    Fair maiden, to requite you well.'

Before going to bed, Lady G. kneels to pray, and desires her friend to
undress, and lie down; which she does 'in her loveliness;' but being
curious, she leans 'on her elbow,' and looks toward the fair
devotee,--where she sees something which the poet does not think fit to
tell us very explicitly.

    'Her silken robe, and inner vest,
    Dropt to her feet, and full in view,
    Behold! her bosom and half her side--
    A sight to dream of, not to tell!
    And she is to sleep by Christabel.'

She soon rises, however, from her knees; and as it was not a
double-bedded room, she turns in to Lady Christabel, taking only 'two
paces and a stride.' She then clasps her tight in her arms, and mutters
a very dark spell, which we apprehend the poet manufactured by shaking
words together at random; for it is impossible to fancy that he can
annex any meaning whatever to it. This is the end of it.

        'But vainly thou warrest,
          For this is alone in
        Thy power to declare,
          That in the dim forest
          Thou heard'st a low moaning,
    And found'st a bright lady, surpassingly fair:
    And didst bring her home with thee in love and in charity,
    To shield her and shelter her from the damp air.'

The consequence of this incantation is, that Lady Christabel has a
strange dream--and when she awakes, her first exclamation is, 'Sure I
have sinn'd'--'Now heaven be praised if all be well!' Being still
perplexed with the remembrance of her 'too lively' dream--she then
dresses herself, and modestly prays to be forgiven for 'her sins
unknown.' The two companions now go to the Baron's parlour, and
Geraldine tells her story to him. This, however, the poet judiciously
leaves out, and only signifies that the Baron recognized in her the
daughter of his old friend Sir Roland, with whom he had had a deadly
quarrel. Now, however, he despatches his tame poet, or laureate, called
Bard Bracy, to invite him and his family over, promising to forgive
every thing, and even make an apology for what had passed. To understand
what follows, we own, surpasses our comprehension. Mr Bracy, the poet,
recounts a strange dream he has just had, of a dove being almost
strangled by a snake; whereupon the Lady Geraldine falls a hissing, and
her eyes grow small, like a serpent's,--or at least so they seem to her
friend; who begs her father to 'send away that woman.' Upon this the
Baron falls into a passion, as if he had discovered that his daughter
had been seduced; at least, we can understand him in no other sense,
though no hint of such a kind is given; but on the contrary, she is
painted to the last moment as full of innocence and
purity.--Nevertheless,

    'His heart was cleft with pain and rage,
    His cheeks they quiver'd, his eyes were wild,
    Dishonour'd thus in his old age;
    Dishonour'd by his only child;
    And all his hospitality
    To th' insulted daughter of his friend
    By more than woman's jealousy,
    Brought thus to a disgraceful end.--'

Nothing further is said to explain the mystery; but there follows
incontinently, what is termed '_The conclusion of Part the Second_.' And
as we are pretty confident that Mr Coleridge holds this passage in the
highest estimation; that he prizes it more than any other part of 'that
wild, and singularly original and beautiful poem Christabel,' excepting
always the two passages touching the 'toothless mastiff bitch;' we shall
extract it for the amazement of our readers--premising our own frank
avowal that we are wholly unable to divine the meaning of any portion of
it.

    'A little child, a limber elf,
    Singing, dancing to itself,
    A fairy thing with red round cheeks,
    That always finds and never seeks;
    Makes such a vision to the sight
    As fills a father's eyes with light;
    And pleasures flow in so thick and fast
    Upon his heart, that he at last
    Must needs express his love's excess
    With words of unmeant bitterness.
    Perhaps 'tis pretty to force together
    Thoughts so all unlike each other;
    To mutter and mock a broken charm,
    To dally with wrong that does no harm
    Perhaps 'tis tender too, and pretty,
    At each wild word to feel within
    A sweet recoil of love and pity.
    And what if in a world of sin
    (O sorrow and shame should this be true!)
    Such giddiness of heart and brain
    Comes seldom save from rage and pain,
    So talks as it's most used to do.'

Hence endeth the Second Part, and, in truth, the 'singular' poem itself;
for the author has not yet written, or, as he phrases it, 'embodied in
verse,' the 'three parts yet to come;'--though he trusts he shall be
able to do so' in the course of the present year.'

One word as to the metre of Christabel, or, as Mr Coleridge terms it,
'_the_ Christabel'--happily enough; for indeed we doubt if the peculiar
force of the definite article was ever more strongly exemplified. He
says, that though the reader may fancy there prevails a great
_irregularity_ in the metre, some lines being of four, others of twelve
syllables, yet in reality it is quite regular; only that it is 'founded
on a new principle, namely, that of counting in each line the accents,
not the syllables.' We say nothing of the monstrous assurance of any man
coming forward coolly at this time of day, and telling the readers of
English poetry, whose ear has been tuned to the lays of Spenser, Milton,
Dryden, and Pope, that he makes his metre 'on a new principle!' but we
utterly deny the truth of the assertion, and defy him to show us _any_
principle upon which his lines can be conceived to tally. We give two or
three specimens to confound at once this miserable piece of coxcombry
and shuffling. Let our 'wild, and singularly original and beautiful'
author, show us how these lines agree either in number of accents or of
feet.

      'Ah wel-a-day!'
      'For this is alone in--'
    'And didst bring her home with thee in love and in charity'--
      'I pray you drink this cordial wine'--
      'Sir Leoline'--
      'And found a bright lady surpassingly fair'--
      'Tu--whit!----Tu--whoo!'

_Kubla Khan_ is given to the public, it seems, 'at the request of a poet
of great and deserved celebrity;'--but whether Lord Byron, the praiser
of 'the Christabel,' or the Laureate, the praiser of Princes, we are not
informed. As far as Mr Coleridge's 'own opinions are concerned,' it is
published, 'not upon the ground of any _poetic_ merits,' but 'as a
PSYCHOLOGICAL CURIOSITY!' In these opinions of the candid author, we
entirely concur; but for this reason we hardly think it was necessary to
give the minute detail which the Preface contains, of the circumstances
attending its composition. Had the question regarded '_Paradise Lost_,'
or '_Dryden's Ode_,' we could not have had a more particular account of
the circumstances in which it was composed. It was in the year 1797, and
in the summer season. Mr Coleridge was in bad health;--the particular
disease is not given; but the careful reader will form his own
conjectures. He had retired very prudently to a lonely farm-house; and
whoever would see the place which gave birth to the 'psychological
curiosity,' may find his way thither without a guide; for it is situated
on the confines of Somerset and Devonshire, and on the Exmoor part of
the boundary; and it is, moreover, between Porlock and Linton. In that
farm-house, he had a slight indisposition, and had taken an anodyne,
which threw him into a deep sleep in his chair (whether after dinner or
not he omits to state), 'at the moment that he was reading a sentence in
Purchas's Pilgrims,' relative to a palace of Kubla Khan. The effects of
the anodyne, and the sentence together, were prodigious: They produced
the 'curiosity' now before us; for, during his three-hours sleep, Mr
Coleridge 'has the most vivid confidence that he could not have composed
less than from two to three hundred lines.' On awaking, he 'instantly
and eagerly' wrote down the verses here published; when he was (he says,
'_unfortunately_') called out by a 'person on business from Porlock, and
detained by him above an hour;' and when he returned the vision was
gone. The lines here given smell strongly, it must be owned, of the
anodyne; and, but that an under dose of a sedative produces contrary
effects, we should inevitably have been lulled by them into
forgetfulness of all things. Perhaps a dozen more such lines as the
following would reduce the most irritable of critics to a state of
inaction.

        'A damsel with a dulcimer
        In a vision once I saw:
        It was an Abyssinian maid
        And on her dulcimer she play'd,
        Singing of Mount Abora.
        Could I revive within me
        Her symphony and song,
        To such a deep delight 'twould win me,
    That with music loud and long,
    I would build that dome in air,
    That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
    And all who heard should see them there,
    And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
    His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
    Weave a circle round him thrice,
    And close your eyes with holy dread:
    For he on honey-dew hath fed,' &c. &c.

There is a good deal more altogether as exquisite--and in particular a
fine description of a wood, 'ancient as the hills;' and 'folding sunny
spots of _greenery_!' But we suppose this specimen will be sufficient.

Persons in this poet's unhappy condition, generally feel the want of
sleep as the worst of their evils; but there are instances, too, in the
history of the disease, of sleep being attended with new agony, as if
the waking thoughts, how wild and turbulent soever, had still been under
some slight restraint, which sleep instantly removed. Mr Coleridge
appears to have experienced this symptom, if we may judge from the title
of his third poem, '_The Pains of Sleep_;' and, in truth, from its
composition--which is mere raving, without any thing more affecting than
a number of incoherent words, expressive of extravagance and
incongruity.--We need give no specimen of it.

Upon the whole, we look upon this publication as one of the most notable
pieces of impertinence of which the press has lately been guilty; and
one of the boldest experiments that has yet been made on the patience or
understanding of the public. It is impossible, however, to dismiss it,
without a remark or two. The other productions of the Lake School have
generally exhibited talents thrown away upon subjects so mean, that no
power of genius could ennoble them; or perverted and rendered useless by
a false theory of poetical composition. But even in the worst of them,
if we except the White Doe of Mr Wordsworth and some of the laureate
odes, there were always some gleams of feeling or of fancy. But the
thing now before us is utterly destitute of value. It exhibits from
beginning to end not a ray of genius; and we defy any man to point out a
passage of poetical merit in any of the three pieces which it contains,
except, perhaps, the following lines in p. 32, and even these are not
very brilliant; nor is the leading thought original--

    'Alas! they had been friends in youth;
    But whispering tongues can poison truth;
    And constancy lives in realms above;
    And life is thorny; and youth is vain;
    And to be wroth with one we love,
    Doth work like madness in the brain.'

With this one exception, there is literally not one couplet in the
publication before us which would be reckoned poetry, or even sense,
were it found in the corner of a newspaper or upon the window of an inn.
Must we then be doomed to hear such a mixture of raving and driv'ling,
extolled as the work of a '_wild and original_' genius, simply because
Mr Coleridge has now and then written fine verses, and a brother poet
chooses, in his milder mood, to laud him from courtesy or from interest?
And are such panegyrics to be echoed by the mean tools of a political
faction, because they relate to one whose daily prose is understood to
be dedicated to the support of all that courtiers think should be
supported? If it be true that the author has thus earned the patronage
of those liberal dispensers of bounty, we can have no objection that
they should give him proper proofs of their gratitude; but we cannot
help wishing, for his sake, as well as our own, that they would pay in
solid pudding instead of empty praise; and adhere, at least in this
instance, to the good old system of rewarding their champions with
places and pensions, instead of puffing their bad poetry, and
endeavouring to cram their nonsense down the throats of all the loyal
and well affected.--_The Edinburgh Review_.




ROBERT SOUTHEY


_Madoc_, by ROBERT SOUTHEY. 4to. pp. 560. 2l. 2s. Boards. Printed at
Edinburgh, for Longman and Co., London. 1805.

It has fallen to the lot of this writer to puzzle our critical
discernment more than once. In the _Annual Anthology_ we had reason to
complain that it was difficult to distinguish his jocular from his
serious poetry; and sometimes indeed to know his poetry from his prose.
He has now contrived to manufacture a large quarto, which he has styled
a poem, but of what description it is no easy matter to decide. The
title of epic, which he indignantly disclaims, we might have been
inclined to refuse his production, had it been claimed; and we suppose
that Mr. Southey would not suffer it to be classed under the
mock-heroic. The poem of Madoc is not didactic, nor elegiac, nor
classical, in any respect. Neither is it _Macphersonic_, nor
_Klopstockian_, nor _Darwinian_,--we beg pardon, we mean _Brookian_. To
conclude, according to a phrase of the last century, which was applied
to ladies of ambiguous character, _it is what it is_.--As Mr. Southey
has set the rules of Aristotle at defiance in his preface, we hope that
he will feel a due degree of gratitude for this appropriate definition
of his work. It is an old saying, thoroughly descriptive of such an old
song as this before us.

Mr. Southey, however, has not disdained all ancient precedents in his
poem, for he introduces it with this advertisement:

    'Come, listen to a tale of times of old!
    Come, for ye know me! I am he who sung
    The maid of Arc; and I am he who framed
    Of Thalaba the wild and wonderous song.
    Come, listen to my lay, and ye shall hear
    How Madoc from the shores of Britain spread
    The adventurous sail, explored the ocean ways,
    And quelled barbarian power, and overthrew
    The bloody altars of idolatry,
    And planted in its fanes triumphantly
    The cross of Christ. Come, listen to my lay!'

This _modest ostentation_ was certainly derived from the verses imputed
to Virgil;

    "Ille ego, qui quondam gracili modulatus avena
    Carmen; et egressus sylvis, vicina coegi
    Ut quamvis avido parerent arva colono,
    Gratum opus agricolis: at nunc horrentia Martis, &c."

In the very first part of the poem, also, we find Mr. Southey pursuing
the Horatian precept, "_prorumpere in medias res_;" for he commences
with the _return_ of Madoc to his native country. It is true that, like
the Messenger in Macklin's tragedy, he "goes but to return;" and the
critic is tempted to say, with Martial, _toto carere possum_.--Thus the
grand interest of the work, which ought to consist in exploring a new
world, is destroyed at once, by the reader at his outset encountering
the heroes returning "sound, wind and limb," to their native country. It
may be said that Camoens has thrown a great part of Da Gama's Voyage
into the form of a narrative: but he has also given much in description;
enough, at least, to have justified Mr. Southey in commencing rather
nearer the commencement of his tale.

That he might withdraw himself entirely from the yoke of Aristotle, Mr.
Southey has divided his poem into two parts, instead of giving it a
beginning, a middle and an end. One of these parts is concisely
entitled, 'Madoc in Wales;' the other, 'Madoc in Aztlan.' A _middle_
might, however, have been easily found, by adding, _Madoc on
Shipboard_.--The first of these Anti Peripatetic parts contains 18
divisions; the second, 27 which include every incident, episode, &c.
introduced into the poem. This arrangement gives it very much the
appearance of a journal versified, and effectually precludes any
imputation of luxuriance of fancy in the plot.

Respecting the manners, Mr. Southey appears to have been more successful
than in his choice of the story. He has adhered to history where he
could discover any facts adapted to his purpose; and when history failed
him, he has had recourse to probability. Yet we own that the
nomenclature of his heroes has shocked what Mr. S. would call our
prejudices. _Goervyl_ and _Ririd_ and _Rodri_ and _Llaian_ may have
charms for Cambrian ears, but who can feel an interest in _Tezozomoc_,
_Tlalala_, or _Ocelopan_? Or, should

    ----'Tyneio, Merini,
    Boda and Brenda and Aelgyvarch,
    Gwynon and Celynin and Gwynodyl,' (p. 129.)
    "Those rugged names to our like mouths grow sleek,
    That would have made Quintilian stare and gasp[I],"

how could we swallow _Yuhidthiton_, _Coanocotzin_, and, above all, the
yawning jaw-dislocating _Ayayaca_?--These torturing words, particularly
the latter, remind us so strongly of the odious cacophony of the Nurse
and Child, that they really are not to be tolerated. Mr. Southey's
defence (for he has partially anticipated this objection) is that the
names are conformable to history or analogy, which we are not inclined
to dispute: but it is not requisite to tread so closely in the traces of
barbarity. Truth does not constitute the essence of poetry: but it is
indispensably necessary that the lines should be agreeable to the ear,
as well as to the sense. Sorry, indeed, we are to complain that Mr.
Southey, in attempting a new method of writing,--in professing to set
aside the old models, and to promote his own work to a distinguished
place in the library,--has failed to interest our feelings, or to excite
our admiration. The dull tenor of mediocrity, which characterizes his
pages, is totally unsuitable to heroic poetry, regular or irregular.
Instead of viewing him on a _fiery Pegasus_, and "snatching a grace
beyond the reach of art," we behold the author mounted on a strange
animal, something between a rough Welsh poney and a Peruvian sheep,
whose utmost capriole only tends to land him in the mud. We may indeed
safely compliment Mr. Southey, by assuring him that there is nothing in
Homer, Virgil, or Milton, in any degree resembling the beauties of
Madoc.

Whether the expedition of Madoc, and the existence of a Welsh tribe in
America, be historically true, it is not our present business to
examine. It is obvious, however, that one great object of the poem, the
destruction of the altars of idolatry, had failed; for it is not
pretended that the supposed descendants of Madoc remained Christians.

We shall now make some extracts from this poem, which will enable our
readers to judge whether we have spoken too severely of Mr. Southey's
labours.

[Quotes 270 lines of _Madoc_ with interpolated comments.]

If the perusal of these and the preceding verses should tempt any of our
readers to purchase Mr. Southey's volume, we can warrant equal
entertainment in all its other parts, and shall heartily wish the
gentleman all happiness with his poet.--To us, there appears a thorough
perversion of taste, in the conception and execution of the whole; and
we are disgusted with the tameness of the verse, the vulgarity of the
thoughts, and the barbarity of the manners. If this style of writing be
continued, we may expect not only the actions of Vindomarus or
Ariovistus to be celebrated, but we may perhaps see the history of the
Cherokees, Choctaws, and Catabaws, versified in quarto. The name of
Atakulla-kulla would not be inharmonious, compared with some of Mr.
Southey's heroes. Indeed, a very interesting poem might be founded on
the story of Pocahuntas, as it is detailed by Smith, in his History of
the Settlement of Virginia; and if Mr. Southey should meditate another
irruption into the territories of the Muse, we would recommend this
subject to his attention.

It must be remarked that this is a very handsome and elegantly printed
book, with engraved title-pages, vignettes, &c. and had the poet
equalled the printer, his work might have stood on the same shelf with
those of our most admired writers.--_The Monthly Review_.

[Footnote I: Milton.]




CHARLES LAMB


_Blank Verse_, by CHARLES LLOYD, and CHARLES LAMB. 12mo. 2s. 6d. Boards.
Arch. 1798.

Dr. Johnson, speaking of blank verse, seemed to have adopted the opinion
of some great man,--we forget whom,--that it is only "_poetry to the
eye_." On perusing the works of several modern bards of our own country,
we have sometimes rather inclined to the same idea, but the recollection
of Milton and Thomson presently banished it.

We have more than once delivered our sentiments respecting the poetry of
Mr. Charles Lloyd. To what we have formerly remarked, in general on this
head, we have little to add on the present occasion; except that we
begin to grow weary of his continued melancholy strains. Why is this
ingenious writer so uncomfortably constant to the _mournful_ Muse? If he
has any taste for variety, he has little to fear from _jealousy_ in the
sacred sisterhood.--Then why not sometimes make his bow to THALIA?

Mr. Lamb, the joint author of this little volume, seems to be very
properly associated with his plaintive companion.--_The Monthly
Review_.


_Album Verses, with a few others_. By CHARLES LAMB. 12mo. pp. 150.
London, 1830. Moxon.

If any thing could prevent our laughing at the present collection of
absurdities, it would be a lamentable conviction of the blinding and
engrossing nature of vanity. We could forgive the folly of the original
composition, but cannot but marvel at the egotism which has preserved,
and the conceit which has published. What exaggerated notion must that
man entertain of his talents, who believes their slightest efforts
worthy of remembrance; one who keeps a copy of the verses he writes in
young ladies' albums, the proverbial receptacles for trash! Here and
there a sweet and natural thought intervenes; but the chief part is best
characterized by that expressive though ungracious word "rubbish." And
what could induce our author to trench on the masculine and vigorous
Crabbe? did he think his powerful and dark outlines might with advantage
be turned to "prettiness and favour?" But let our readers judge from the
following specimens. The first is from the album of Mrs. Jane Towers.

    "Conjecturing, I wander in the dark,
    I know thee only sister to Charles Clarke!"

Directions for a picture--

    "You wished a picture, cheap, but good;
    The colouring? decent; clear, not muddy;
    To suit a poet's quiet study."

The subject is a child--

    "Thrusting his fingers in his ears,
    Like Obstinate, that perverse funny one,
    In honest parable of Bunyan."

We were not aware of "Obstinate's" fun before.

An epitaph:--

    "On her bones the turf lie lightly,
    And her rise again be brightly!
    No dark stain be found upon her--
    No, there will not, on mine honour--
    Answer that at least I can."

Or what is the merit of the ensuing epicedium?

[Quotes 48 lines beginning:--

    There's rich Kitty Wheatley,
    With footing it featly, etc.]

Mr. Lamb, in his dedication, says his motive for publishing is to
benefit his publisher, by affording him an opportunity of shewing how he
means to bring out works. We could have dispensed with the specimen;
though it is but justice to remark on the neat manner in which the work
is produced: the title-page is especially pretty.--_The Literary
Gazette_.




WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR


_Gebir; a Poem, in Seven Books_. 12mo. 74 pp. Rivingtons. 1798.

How this Poem, which appears to issue from the same publishers as our
own work, so long escaped our notice, we cannot say. Still less are we
able to guess at the author, or his meaning. In a copy lately lent to
us, as a matter we had overlooked, we observe the following very
apposite quotation, inscribed on the title-page, by some unknown hand:

    Some love the verse----
    Which read, and read, you raise your eyes in doubt,
    And gravely wonder what it is about.

Among persons of that turn of mind, the author must look for the _ten_
admirers who, as he says, would satisfy his ambition; but whether they
could have the qualities of taste and genius, which he requires, is with
us a matter of doubt. Turgid obscurity is the general character of the
composition, with now and then a gleam of genuine poetry, irradiating
the dark profound. The effect of the perusal is to give a kind of whirl
to the brain, more like distraction than pleasure; and something
analogous to the sensation produced, when the end of the finger is
rubbed against the parchment of the tambourine.--_The British Critic_.


_Gebir_; a Poem, in Seven Books. 8vo. pp. 74. 2s. 6d. Rivingtons. 1798.

An unpractised author has attempted, in this poem, the difficult task of
relating a romantic story in blank-verse. His performance betrays all
the incorrectness and abruptness of inexperience, but it manifests
occasionally some talent for description. He has fallen into the common
error of those who aspire to the composition of blank-verse, by
borrowing too many phrases and epithets from our incomparable Milton. We
give the following extract, as affording a fair specimen:

[Quotes about 60 lines from the beginning of the fifth and sixth books
of _Gebir_.]

We must observe that the story is told very obscurely, and should have
been assisted by an _Argument_ in prose. Young writers are often
astonished to find that passages, which seem very clear to their own
heated imaginations, appear very dark to their readers.--The author of
the poem before us may produce something worthy of more approbation, if
he will labour hard, and delay for a few years the publication of his
next performance.--_The Monthly Review_.




SIR WALTER SCOTT


_Marmion; a Tale of Flodden Field_. By WALTER SCOTT, Esq. 4to. pp. 500.
Edinburgh and London, 1808.

There is a kind of right of primogeniture among books, as well as among
men; and it is difficult for an author, who has obtained great fame by a
first publication, not to appear to fall off in a second--especially if
his original success could be imputed, in any degree, to the novelty of
his plan of composition. The public is always indulgent to untried
talents; and is even apt to exaggerate a little the value of what it
receives without any previous expectation. But, for this advance of
kindness, it usually exacts a most usurious return in the end. When the
poor author comes back, he is no longer received as a benefactor, but a
debtor. In return for the credit it formerly gave him, the world now
conceives that it has a just claim on him for excellence, and becomes
impertinently scrupulous as to the quality of the coin in which it is to
be paid.

The just amount of this claim plainly cannot be for more than the rate
of excellence which he had reached in his former production; but, in
estimating this rate, various errors are perpetually committed, which
increase the difficulties of the task which is thus imposed on him. In
the _first_ place, the comparative amount of his past and present merits
can only be ascertained by the uncertain standard of his reader's
feelings; and these must always be less lively with regard to a second
performance; which, with every other excellence of the first, must
necessarily want the powerful recommendations of novelty and surprise,
and consequently fall very far short of the effect produced by their
strong cooeperation. In the _second_ place, it may be observed, in
general, that wherever our impression of any work is favourable on the
whole, its excellence is constantly exaggerated, in those vague and
habitual recollections which form the basis of subsequent comparisons.
We readily drop from our memory the dull and bad passages, and carry
along with us the remembrance of those only which had afforded us
delight. Thus, when we take the merit of any favourite poem as a
standard of comparison for some later production of the same author, we
never take its true average merit, which is the only fair standard, but
the merit of its most striking and memorable passages, which naturally
stand forward in our recollection, and pass upon our hasty retrospect as
just and characteristic specimens of the whole work; and this high and
exaggerated standard we rigorously apply to the first, and perhaps the
least interesting parts of the second performance. Finally, it deserves
to be noticed, that where a first work, containing considerable
blemishes, has been favourably received, the public always expects this
indulgence to be repaid by an improvement that ought not to be always
expected. If a second performance appear, therefore, with the same
faults, they will no longer meet with the same toleration. Murmurs will
be heard about indolence, presumption, and abuse of good nature; while
the critics, and those who had gently hinted at the necessity of
correction, will be more out of humour than the rest at this apparent
neglect of their admonitions.

For these, and for other reasons, we are inclined to suspect, that the
success of the work now before us will be less brilliant than that of
the author's former publication, though we are ourselves of opinion,
that its intrinsic merits are nearly, if not altogether, equal; and
that, if it had had the fortune to be the elder born, it would have
inherited as fair a portion of renown as has fallen to the lot of its
predecessor. It is a good deal longer, indeed, and somewhat more
ambitious; and it is rather clearer that it has greater faults, than
that it has greater beauties; though, for our own parts, we are inclined
to believe in both propositions. It has more tedious and flat passages,
and more ostentation of historical and antiquarian lore; but it has also
greater richness and variety, both of character and incident; and if it
has less sweetness and pathos in the softer passages, it has certainly
more vehemence and force of colouring in the loftier and busier
representations of action and emotion. The place of the prologuizing
minstrel is but ill supplied, indeed, by the epistolary dissertations
which are prefixed to each book of the present poem; and the ballad
pieces and mere episodes which it contains, have less finish and
poetical beauty; but there is more airiness and spirit in the lighter
delineations; and the story, if not more skilfully conducted, is at
least better complicated, and extended through a wider field of
adventure. The characteristics of both, however, are evidently the
same;--a broken narrative--a redundancy of minute description--bursts of
unequal and energetic poetry--and a general tone of spirit and
animation, unchecked by timidity or affectation, and unchastised by any
great delicacy of taste, or elegance of fancy.

But though we think this last romance of Mr Scott's about as good as the
former, and allow that it affords great indications of poetical talent,
we must remind our readers, that we never entertained much partiality
for this sort of composition, and ventured on a former occasion to
express our regret, that an author endowed with such talents should
consume them in imitations of obsolete extravagance, and in the
representation of manners and sentiments in which none of his readers
can be supposed to take much interest, except the few who can judge of
their exactness. To write a modern romance of chivalry, seems to be
much such a fantasy as to build a modern abbey, or an English pagoda.
For once, however, it may be excused as a pretty caprice of genius; but
a second production of the same sort is entitled to less indulgence, and
imposes a sort of duty to drive the author from so idle a task, by a
fair exposition of the faults which are in a manner inseparable from its
execution. To enable our readers to judge fairly of the present
performance, we shall first present them with a brief abstract of the
story; and then endeavour to point out what seems to be exceptionable,
and what is praiseworthy, in the execution.

[Here follows a detailed outline of the plot of _Marmion_.]

Now, upon this narrative, we are led to observe, in the first place,
that it forms a very scanty and narrow foundation for a poem of such
length as is now before us. There is scarcely matter enough in the main
story for a ballad of ordinary dimensions; and the present work is not
so properly diversified with episodes and descriptions, as made up and
composed of them. No long poem, however, can maintain its interest
without a connected narrative. It should be a grand historical picture,
in which all the personages are concerned in one great transaction, and
not a mere gallery of detailed groups and portraits. When we accompany
the poet in his career of adventure, it is not enough that he points out
to us, as we go along, the beauties of the landscape, and the costumes
of the inhabitants. The people must do something after they are
described, and they must do it in concert, or in opposition to each
other; while the landscape, with its castles and woods and defiles, must
serve merely as the scene of their exploits, and the field of their
conspiracies and contentions. There is too little connected incident in
Marmion, and a great deal too much gratuitous description.

In the second place, we object to the whole plan and conception of the
fable, as turning mainly upon incidents unsuitable for poetical
narrative, and brought out in the denouement in a very obscure,
laborious, and imperfect manner. The events of an epic narrative should
all be of a broad, clear, and palpable description; and the difficulties
and embarrassments of the characters, of a nature to be easily
comprehended and entered into by readers of all descriptions. Now, the
leading incidents in this poem are of a very narrow and peculiar
character, and are woven together into a petty intricacy and
entanglement which puzzles the reader instead of interesting him, and
fatigues instead of exciting his curiosity. The unaccountable conduct of
Constance, in first ruining De Wilton in order to forward Marmion's suit
with Clara, and then trying to poison Clara, because Marmion's suit
seemed likely to succeed with her--but, above all, the paltry device of
the forged letters, and the sealed packet given up by Constance at her
condemnation, and handed over by the abbess to De Wilton and Lord Angus,
are incidents not only unworthy of the dignity of poetry, but really
incapable of being made subservient to its legitimate purposes. They are
particularly unsuitable, too, to the age and character of the personages
to whom they relate; and, instead of forming the instruments of knightly
vengeance and redress, remind us of the machinery of a bad German novel,
or of the disclosures which might be expected on the trial of a
pettifogging attorney. The obscurity and intricacy which they
communicate to the whole story, must be very painfully felt by every
reader who tries to comprehend it; and is prodigiously increased by the
very clumsy and inartificial manner in which the denouement is
ultimately brought about by the author. Three several attempts are made
by three several persons to beat into the head of the reader the
evidence of De Wilton's innocence, and of Marmion's guilt; first, by
Constance in her dying speech and confession; secondly, by the abbess in
her conference with De Wilton; and, lastly, by this injured innocent
himself, on disclosing himself to Clara in the castle of Lord Angus.
After all, the precise nature of the plot and the detection is very
imperfectly explained, and we will venture to say, is not fully
understood by one half those who have fairly read through every word of
the quarto now before us. We would object, on the same grounds, to the
whole scenery of Constance's condemnation. The subterranean chamber,
with its low arches, massive walls, and silent monks with smoky
torches,--its old chandelier in an iron chain,--the stern abbots and
haughty prioresses, with their flowing black dresses, and book of
statutes laid on an iron table, are all images borrowed from the novels
of Mrs Ratcliffe [_sic_] and her imitators. The public, we believe, has
now supped full of this sort of horrors; or, if any effect is still to
be produced by their exhibition, it may certainly be produced at too
cheap a rate, to be worthy the ambition of a poet of original
imagination.

In the third place, we object to the extreme and monstrous improbability
of almost all the incidents which go to the composition of this fable.
We know very well that poetry does not describe what is ordinary; but
the marvellous, in which it is privileged to indulge, is the marvellous
of performance, and not of accident. One extraordinary rencontre or
opportune coincidence may be permitted, perhaps, to bring the parties
together, and wind up matters for the catastrophe; but a writer who gets
through the whole business of his poem, by a series of lucky hits and
incalculable chances, certainly manages matters in a very economical way
for his judgment and invention, and will probably be found to have
consulted his own ease, rather than the delight of his readers. Now,
the whole story of Marmion seems to us to turn upon a tissue of such
incredible accidents. In the first place, it was totally beyond all
calculation, that Marmion and De Wilton should meet, by pure chance, at
Norham, on the only night which either of them could spend in that
fortress. In the next place, it is almost totally incredible that the
former should not recognize his antient rival and antagonist, merely
because he had assumed a palmer's habit, and lost a little flesh and
colour in his travels. He appears unhooded, and walks and speaks before
him; and, as near as we can guess, it could not be more than a year
since they had entered the lists against each other. Constance, at her
death, says she had lived but three years with Marmion; and, it was not
till he tired of her, that he aspired to Clara, or laid plots against De
Wilton. It is equally inconceivable that De Wilton should have taken
upon himself the friendly office of a guide to his arch enemy, and
discharged it quietly and faithfully, without seeking, or apparently
thinking of any opportunity of disclosure or revenge. So far from
meditating anything of the sort, he makes two several efforts to leave
him, when it appears that his services are no longer indispensable. If
his accidental meeting, and continued association with Marmion, be
altogether unnatural, it must appear still more extraordinary, that he
should afterwards meet with the Lady Clare, his adored mistress, and the
Abbess of Whitby, who had in her pocket the written proofs of his
innocence, in consequence of an occurrence equally accidental. These two
ladies, the only two persons in the universe whom it was of any
consequence to him to meet, are captured in their voyage from Holy Isle,
and brought to Edinburgh, by the luckiest accident in the world, the
very day that De Wilton and Marmion make their entry into it. Nay, the
king, without knowing that they are at all of his acquaintance, happens
to appoint them lodgings in the same stair-case, and to make them travel
under his escort! We pass the night combat at Gifford, in which Marmion
knows his opponent by moonlight, though he never could guess at him in
sunshine; and all the inconsistencies of his dilatory wooing of Lady
Clare. Those, and all the prodigies and miracles of the story, we can
excuse, as within the privilege of poetry; but, the lucky chances we
have already specified, are rather too much for our patience. A poet, we
think, should never let his heroes contract such great debts to fortune;
especially when a little exertion of his own might make them independent
of her bounty. De Wilton might have been made to seek and watch his
adversary, from some moody feeling of patient revenge; and it certainly
would not have been difficult to discover motives which might have
induced both Clara and the Abbess to follow and relieve him, without
dragging them into his presence by the clumsy hands of a cruizer from
Dunbar.

In the _fourth_ place, we think we have reason to complain of Mr Scott
for having made his figuring characters so entirely worthless, as to
excite but little of our sympathy, and at the same time keeping his
virtuous personages so completely in the back ground, that we are
scarcely at all acquainted with them when the work is brought to a
conclusion. Marmion is not only a villain, but a mean and sordid
villain; and represented as such, without any visible motive, and at the
evident expense of characteristic truth and consistency. His elopement
with Constance, and his subsequent desertion of her, are knightly vices
enough, we suppose; but then he would surely have been more interesting
and natural, if he had deserted her for a brighter beauty, and not
merely for a richer bride. This was very well for Mr Thomas Inkle, the
young merchant of London; but for the valiant, haughty, and liberal Lord
Marmion of Fontenaye and Lutterward, we do think it was quite
unsuitable. Thus, too, it was very chivalrous and orderly perhaps, for
him to hate De Wilton, and to seek to supplant him in his lady's love;
but, to slip a bundle of forged letters into his bureau, was cowardly as
well as malignant. Now, Marmion is not represented as a coward, nor as
at all afraid of De Wilton; on the contrary, and it is certainly the
most absurd part of the story, he fights him fairly and valiantly after
all, and overcomes him by mere force of arms, as he might have done at
the beginning, without having recourse to devices so unsuitable to his
general character and habits of acting. By the way, we have great doubts
whether a _convicted_ traitor, like De Wilton, whose guilt was
established by written evidence under his own hand, was ever allowed to
enter the lists, as a knight, against his accuser. At all events, we are
positive, that an accuser, who was as ready and willing to fight as
Marmion, could never have condescended to forge in support of his
accusation; and that the author has greatly diminished our interest in
the story, as well as needlessly violated the truth of character, by
loading his hero with the guilt of this most revolting and improbable
proceeding. The crimes of Constance are multiplied in like manner to
such a degree, as both to destroy our interest in her fate, and to
violate all probability. Her elopement was enough to bring on her doom;
and we should have felt more for it, if it had appeared a little more
unmerited. She is utterly debased, when she becomes the instrument of
Marmion's murderous perfidy, and the assassin of her unwilling rival.

De Wilton, again, is too much depressed throughout the poem. It is
rather dangerous for a poet to chuse a hero who has been beaten in fair
battle. The readers of romance do not like an unsuccessful warrior; but
to be beaten in a judicial combat, and to have his arms reversed and
tied on the gallows, is an adventure which can only be expiated by
signal prowess and exemplary revenge, achieved against great odds, in
full view of the reader. The unfortunate De Wilton, however, carries the
stain upon him from one end of the poem to the other. He wanders up and
down, a dishonoured fugitive, in the disguise of a palmer, through the
five first books; and though he is knighted and mounted again in the
last, yet we see nothing of his performances; nor is the author merciful
enough to afford him one opportunity of redeeming his credit by an
exploit of gallantry or skill. For the poor Lady Clare, she is a
personage of still greater insipidity and insignificance. The author
seems to have formed her upon the principle of Mr Pope's maxim, that
women have no characters at all. We find her every where, where she has
no business to be; neither saying nor doing any thing of the least
consequence, but whimpering and sobbing over the Matrimony in her prayer
book, like a great miss from a boarding school; and all this is the more
inexcusable, as she is altogether a supernumerary person in the play,
who should atone for her intrusion by some brilliancy or novelty of
deportment. Matters would have gone on just as well, although she had
been left behind at Whitby till after the battle of Flodden; and she is
daggled about in the train, first of the Abbess and then of Lord
Marmion, for no purpose, that we can see, but to afford the author an
opportunity for two or three pages of indifferent description.

Finally, we must object, both on critical and on national grounds, to
the discrepancy between the title and the substance of the poem, and the
neglect of Scotish feelings and Scotish character that is manifested
throughout. Marmion is no more a tale of Flodden Field, than of Bosworth
Field, or any other field in history. The story is quite independent of
the national feuds of the sister kingdoms; and the battle of Flodden has
no other connexion with it, than from being the conflict in which the
hero loses his life. Flodden, however, is mentioned; and the
preparations for Flodden, and the consequences of it, are repeatedly
alluded to in the course of the composition. Yet we nowhere find any
adequate expressions of those melancholy and patriotic sentiments which
are still all over Scotland the accompaniment of those allusions and
recollections. No picture is drawn of the national feelings before or
after that fatal encounter; and the day that broke for ever the pride
and the splendour of his country, is only commemorated by a Scotish poet
as the period when an English warrior was beaten to the ground. There is
scarcely one trait of true Scotish nationality or patriotism introduced
into the whole poem; and Mr Scott's only expression of admiration or
love for the beautiful country to which he belongs, is put, if we
rightly remember, into the mouth of one of his Southern favourites.
Independently of this, we think that too little pains is taken to
distinguish the Scotish character and manners from the English, or to
give expression to the general feeling of rivalry and mutual jealousy
which at that time existed between the two countries.

If there be any truth in what we have now said, it is evident that the
merit of this poem cannot consist in the story. And yet it has very
great merit, and various kinds of merit,--both in the picturesque
representation of visible objects, in the delineation of manners and
characters, and in the description of great and striking events. After
having detained the reader so long with our own dull remarks, it will
be refreshing to him to peruse a few specimens of Mr Scott's more
enlivening strains.

[Quotes over six hundred lines of _Marmion_ with brief comment.]

The powerful poetry of these passages can receive no illustration from
any praises or observations of ours. It is superior, in our
apprehension, to all that this author has hitherto produced; and, with a
few faults of diction, equal to any thing that has _ever_ been written
upon similar subjects. Though we have extended our extracts to a very
unusual length, in order to do justice to these fine conceptions, we
have been obliged to leave out a great deal, which serves in the
original to give beauty and effect to what we have actually cited. From
the moment the author gets in sight of Flodden Field, indeed, to the end
of the poem, there is no tame writing, and no intervention of ordinary
passages. He does not once flag or grow tedious; and neither stops to
describe dresses and ceremonies, nor to commemorate the harsh names of
feudal barons from the Border. There is a flight of five or six hundred
lines, in short, in which he never stoops his wing, nor wavers in his
course; but carries the reader forward with a more rapid, sustained, and
lofty movement, than any Epic bard that we can at present remember.

From the contemplation of such distinguished excellence, it is painful
to be obliged to turn to the defects and deformities which occur in the
same composition. But this, though a less pleasing, is a still more
indispensable part of our duty; and one, from the resolute discharge of
which, much more beneficial consequences may be expected. In the work
which contains the fine passages we have just quoted, and many of nearly
equal beauty, there is such a proportion of tedious, hasty, and
injudicious composition, as makes it questionable with us, whether it
is entitled to go down to posterity as a work of classical merit, or
whether the author will retain, with another generation, that high
reputation which his genius certainly might make coeval with the
language. These are the authors, after all, whose faults it is of most
consequence to point out; and criticism performs her best and boldest
office,--not when she tramples down the weed, or tears up the
bramble,--but when she strips the strangling ivy from the oak, or cuts
out the canker from the rose. The faults of the fable we have already
noticed at sufficient length. Those of the execution we shall now
endeavour to enumerate with greater brevity.

And, in the _first_ place, we must beg leave to protest, in the name of
a very numerous class of readers, against the insufferable number, and
length and minuteness of those descriptions of antient dresses and
manners, and buildings; and ceremonies, and local superstitions; with
which the whole poem is overrun,--which render so many notes necessary,
and are, after all, but imperfectly understood by those to whom
chivalrous antiquity has not hitherto been an object of peculiar
attention. We object to these, and to all such details, because they
are, for the most part, without dignity or interest in themselves;
because, in a modern author, they are evidently unnatural; and because
they must always be strange, and, in a good degree, obscure and
unintelligible to ordinary readers.

When a great personage is to be introduced, it is right, perhaps, to
give the reader some notion of his external appearance; and when a
memorable event is to be narrated, it is natural to help the imagination
by some picturesque representation of the scenes with which it is
connected. Yet, even upon such occasions, it can seldom be advisable to
present the reader with a full inventory of the hero's dress, from his
shoebuckle to the plume in his cap, or to enumerate all the drawbridges,
portcullisses, and diamond cut stones in the castle. Mr Scott, however,
not only draws out almost all his pictures in these full dimensions, but
frequently introduces those pieces of Flemish or Chinese painting to
represent persons who are of no consequence, or places and events which
are of no importance to the story. It would be endless to go through the
poem for examples of this excess of minute description; we shall merely
glance at the First Canto as a specimen. We pass the long description of
Lord Marmion himself, with his mail of Milan steel; the blue ribbons on
his horse's mane; and his blue velvet housings. We pass also the two
gallant squires who ride behind him. But our patience is really
exhausted, when we are forced to attend to the black stockings and blue
jerkins of the inferior persons in the train, and to the whole process
of turning out the guard with advanced arms on entering the castle.

    'Four men-at-arms came _at their backs_,
    With halberd, bill, and battle-axe:
    They bore Lord Marmion's lance so strong,
    And led his sumpter mules along,
    And ambling palfrey, _when at need_
    Him listed ease his battle-steed.
    The last, and trustiest of the four,
    On high his forky pennon bore;
    Like swallow's tail, in shape and hue,
    Flutter'd the streamer glossy blue,
    Where, blazoned sable, as before,
    The towering falcon seemed to soar.
    Last, twenty yeomen, two and two,
    In hosen black, and jerkins blue,
    With falcons broider'd on each breast,
    Attended on their lord's behest.
    'Tis meet that I should tell you now,
    How fairly armed, and ordered how,
      The soldiers of the guard,
    With musquet, pike, and morion,
    To welcome noble Marmion,
      Stood in the Castle-yard;
    Minstrels and trumpeters were there,
    The gunner held his _linstock yare_,
      For welcome-shot prepared--

    The guards their morrice pikes advanced,
      The trumpets flourished brave,
    The cannon from the ramparts glanced,
      And thundering welcome gave.

    Two pursuivants, whom tabards deck,
    With silver scutcheon round their neck,
      Stood on the steps of stone,
    By which you reach the Donjon gate,
    And there, with herald pomp and state,
      They hailed Lord Marmion.
    And he, their courtesy to requite,
    Gave them a chain of twelve marks weight,
      All as he lighted down.' p. 29-32.

Sir Hugh the Heron then orders supper--

    'Now broach ye a pipe of Malvoisie,
    Bring pasties of the doe.'

--And after the repast is concluded, they have some mulled wine, and
drink good night very ceremoniously.

    'Lord Marmion drank a fair good rest,
    The Captain pledged his noble guest,
    The cup went round among the rest.'

In the morning, again, we are informed that they had prayers, and that
knight and squire

    ----'broke their fast
    On rich substantial repast.'
    'Then came the stirrup-cup in course,' &c., &c.

And thus a whole Canto is filled up with the account of a visit and a
supper, which lead to no consequences whatever, and are not attended
with any circumstances which must not have occurred at every visit and
supper among persons of the same rank at that period. Now, we are really
at a loss to know, why the mere circumstance of a moderate antiquity
should be supposed so far to ennoble those details, as to entitle them
to a place in poetry, which certainly never could be claimed for a
description of more modern adventures. Nobody, we believe, would be bold
enough to introduce into a serious poem a description of the hussar
boots and gold epaulets of a commander in chief, and much less to
particularize the liveries and canes of his servants, or the order and
array of a grand dinner, given even to the cabinet ministers. Yet these
things are, in their own nature, fully as picturesque, and as
interesting, as the ribbons at the mane of Lord Marmion's horse, or his
supper and breakfast at the castle of Norham. We are glad, indeed, to
find these little details in _old_ books, whether in prose or verse,
because they are there authentic and valuable documents of the usages
and modes of life of our ancestors; and we are thankful when we light
upon this sort of information in an antient romance, which commonly
contains matter much more tedious. Even there, however, we smile at the
simplicity which could mistake such naked enumerations for poetical
description; and reckon them as nearly on a level, in point of taste,
with the theological disputations that are sometimes introduced in the
same meritorious compositions. In a _modern_ romance, however, these
details being no longer authentic, are of no value in point of
information; and as the author has no claim to indulgence on the ground
of simplicity, the smile which his predecessors excited is in some
danger of being turned into a yawn. If he wishes sincerely to follow
their example, he should describe the manners of his own time, and not
of theirs. They painted from observation, and not from study; and the
familiarity and _naivete_ of their delineations, transcribed with a
slovenly and hasty hand from what they saw daily before them, is as
remote as possible from the elaborate pictures extracted by a modern
imitator from black-letter books, and coloured, not from the life, but
from learned theories, or at best from mouldy monkish illuminations, and
mutilated fragments of painted glass.

But the times of chivalry, it may be said, were more picturesque than
the present times. They are better adapted to poetry; and everything
that is associated with them has a certain hold on the imagination, and
partakes of the interest of the period. We do not mean utterly to deny
this; nor can we stop, at present, to assign exact limits to our assent:
but this we will venture to observe, in general, that if it be true that
the interest which we take in the contemplation of the chivalrous era,
arises from the dangers and virtues by which it was distinguished,--from
the constant hazards in which its warriors passed their days, and the
mild and generous valour with which they met those hazards,--joined to
the singular contrast which it presented between the ceremonious polish
and gallantry of the nobles, and the brutish ignorance of the body of
the people:--if these are, as we conceive they are, the sources of the
charm which still operates in behalf of the days of knightly adventure,
then it should follow, that nothing should interest us, by association
with that age, but what serves naturally to bring before us those
hazards and that valour, and gallantry, and aristocratical superiority.
Any description, or any imitation of the exploits in which those
qualities were signalized, will do this most effectually.
Battles,--tournaments,--penances,--deliverance of damsels,--instalments
of knights, &c.--and, intermixed with these, we must admit some
description of arms, armorial bearings, castles, battlements, and
chapels: but the least and lowest of the whole certainly is the
description of servants' liveries, and of the peaceful operations of
eating, drinking, and ordinary salutation. These have no sensible
connexion with the qualities or peculiarities which have conferred
certain poetical privileges on the manners of chivalry. They do not
enter either necessarily or naturally into our conception of what is
interesting in those manners; and, though protected, by their
strangeness, from the ridicule which would infallibly attach to their
modern equivalents, are substantially as unpoetic, and as little
entitled to indulgence from impartial criticism.

We would extend this censure to a larger proportion of the work before
us than we now choose to mention--certainly to all the stupid monkish
legends about St Hilda and St Cuthbert--to the ludicrous description of
Lord Gifford's habiliments of divination--and to all the various scraps
and fragments of antiquarian history and baronial biography, which are
scattered profusely through the whole narrative. These we conceive to be
put in purely for the sake of displaying the erudition of the author;
and poetry, which has no other recommendation, but that the substance of
it has been gleaned from rare or obscure books, has, in our estimation,
the least of all possible recommendations. Mr Scott's great talents, and
the novelty of the style in which his romances are written, have made
even these defects acceptable to a considerable part of his readers. His
genius, seconded by the omnipotence of fashion, has brought chivalry
again into temporary favour; but he ought to know, that this is a taste
too evidently unnatural to be long prevalent in the modern world. Fine
ladies and gentlemen now talk, indeed, of donjons, keeps, tabards,
scutcheons, tressures, caps of maintenance, portcullisses, wimples, and
we know not what besides; just as they did, in the days of Dr Darwin's
popularity, of gnomes, sylphs, oxygen, gossamer, polygynia, and
polyandria. That fashion, however, passed rapidly away; and if it be now
evident to all the world, that Dr Darwin obstructed the extension of his
fame, and hastened the extinction of his brilliant reputation, by the
pedantry and ostentatious learning of his poems, Mr Scott should take
care that a different sort of pedantry does not produce the same
effects. The world will never be long pleased with what it does not
readily understand; and the poetry which is destined for immortality,
should treat only of feelings and events which can be conceived and
entered into by readers of all descriptions.

What we have now mentioned is the cardinal fault of the work before us;
but it has other faults, of too great magnitude to be passed altogether
without notice. There is a debasing lowness and vulgarity in some
passages, which we think must be offensive to every reader of delicacy,
and which are not, for the most part, redeemed by any vigour or
picturesque effect. The venison pasties, we think, are of this
description; and this commemoration of Sir Hugh Heron's troopers, who

    'Have drunk the monks of St Bothan's ale,
    And driven the beeves of Lauderdale;
    Harried the wives of Greenlaw's goods,
    And given them light to set their hoods.' p. 41.

The long account of Friar John, though not without merit, offends in the
same sort; nor can we easily conceive, how any one could venture, in a
serious poem, to speak of

    ----'the wind that blows,
    And _warms itself against his nose_.'

The speeches of squire Blount, too, are a great deal too unpolished for
a noble youth aspiring to knighthood. On two occasions, to specify no
more, he addresses his brother squire in these cacophonous lines--

    '_St Anton' fire thee!_ wilt thou stand
    All day with bonnet in thy hand?'

And,

    '_Stint in thy prate_,' quoth Blount, '_thou'dst best_,
    And listen to our Lord's behest.'

Neither can we be brought to admire the simple dignity of Sir Hugh the
Heron, who thus encourageth his nephew,

    ----'_By my fay_,
    Well hast thou spoke--say forth thy say.'

There are other passages in which the flatness and tediousness of the
narrative is relieved by no sort of beauty, nor elegance of diction, and
which form an extraordinary contrast with the more animated and finished
portions of the poem. We shall not afflict our readers with more than
one specimen of this falling off. We select it from the Abbess's
explanation to De Wilton.

    'De Wilton and Lord Marmion wooed
    Clara de Clare, of Gloster's blood;
    (Idle it were of Whitby's dame,
    To say of that same blood I came;)
    And once, when jealous rage was high,
    Lord Marmion said despiteously,
    Wilton was traitor in his heart,
    And had made league with Martin Swart,
    When he came here on Simnel's part;
    And only cowardice did restrain
    His rebel aid on Stokefield's plain,--
    And down he threw his glove:--the thing
    Was tried, as wont, before the king;
    Where frankly did De Wilton own,
    That Swart in Guelders he had known;
    And that between them then there went
    Some scroll of courteous compliment.
    For this he to his castle sent;
    But when his messenger returned,
    Judge how De Wilton's fury burned!
    For in his packet there were laid
    Letters that claimed disloyal aid,
    And proved King Henry's cause betrayed.' p. 272-274.

In some other places, Mr Scott's love of variety has betrayed him into
strange imitations. This is evidently formed on the school of Sternhold
and Hopkins.

    'Of all the palaces so fair,
      Built for the royal dwelling,
    In Scotland, far beyond compare,
      Linlithgow is excelling.'

The following is a sort of mongrel between the same school, and the
later one of Mr Wordsworth.

    'And Bishop Gawin, as he rose,
    Said--Wilton, grieve not for thy woes,
      Disgrace, and trouble;
    For He, who honour best bestows,
      May give thee double.'

There are many other blemishes, both of taste and of diction, which we
had marked for reprehension, but now think it unnecessary to specify;
and which, with some of those we have mentioned, we are willing to
ascribe to the haste in which much of the poem seems evidently to have
been composed. Mr Scott knows too well what is due to the public, to
make any boast of the rapidity with which his works are written; but the
dates and the extent of his successive publications show sufficiently
how short a time could be devoted to each; and explain, though they do
not apologize for, the many imperfections with which they have been
suffered to appear. He who writes for immortality should not be sparing
of time; and if it be true, that in every thing which has a principle of
life, the period of gestation and growth bears some proportion to that
of the whole future existence, the author now before us should tremble
when he looks back on the miracles of his own facility.

We have dwelt longer on the beauties and defects of this poem, than we
are afraid will be agreeable either to the partial or the indifferent;
not only because we look upon it as a misapplication, in some degree, of
very extraordinary talents, but because we cannot help considering it as
the foundation of a new school, which may hereafter occasion no little
annoyance both to us and to the public. Mr Scott has hitherto filled the
whole stage himself; and the very splendour of his success has probably
operated, as yet, rather to deter, than to encourage, the herd of rivals
and imitators: but if, by the help of the good parts of his poem, he
succeeds in suborning the verdict of the public in favour of the bad
parts also, and establishes an indiscriminate taste for chivalrous
legends and romances in irregular rhime, he may depend upon having as
many copyists as Mrs Radcliffe or Schiller, and upon becoming the
founder of a new schism in the catholic poetical church, for which, in
spite of all our exertions, there will probably be no cure, but in the
extravagance of the last and lowest of its followers. It is for this
reason that we conceive it to be our duty to make one strong effort to
bring back the great apostle of the heresy to the wholesome creed of
his instructors, and to stop the insurrection before it becomes
desperate and senseless, by persuading the leader to return to his duty
and allegiance. We admire Mr Scott's genius as much as any of those who
may be misled by its perversion; and, like the curate and the barber in
Don Quixote, lament the day when a gentleman of such endowments was
corrupted by the wicked tales of knight-errantry and enchantment.

We have left ourselves no room to say any thing of the epistolary
effusions which are prefixed to each of the cantos. They certainly are
not among the happiest productions of Mr Scott's muse. They want
interest in the subjects, and finish in the execution. There is too much
of them about the personal and private feelings and affairs of the
author; and too much of the remainder about the most trite commonplaces
of politics and poetry. There is a good deal of spirit, however, and a
good deal of nature intermingled. There is a fine description of St
Mary's loch, in that prefixed to the second canto; and a very pleasing
representation of the author's early tastes and prejudices, in that
prefixed to the third. The last, which is about Christmas, is the worst;
though the first, containing a threnody on Nelson, Pitt, and Fox,
exhibits a more remarkable failure. We are unwilling to quarrel with a
poet on the score of politics; but the manner in which he has chosen to
praise the last of these great men, is more likely, we conceive, to give
offence to his admirers, than the most direct censure. The only deed for
which he is praised, is for having broken off the negotiation for peace;
and for this act of firmness, it is added, Heaven rewarded him with a
share in the honoured grave of Pitt! It is then said, that his errors
should be forgotten, and that he _died_ a Briton--a pretty plain
insinuation, that, in the author's opinion, he did not live one; and
just such an encomium as he himself pronounces over the grave of his
villain hero Marmion. There was no need, surely, to pay compliments to
ministers or princesses, either in the introduction or in the body of a
romance of the 16th century. Yet we have a laboured lamentation over the
Duke of Brunswick, in one of the epistles; and in the heart of the poem,
a triumphant allusion to the siege of Copenhagen--the last exploit,
certainly, of British valour, on which we should have expected a
chivalrous poet to found his patriotic gratulations. We have no
business, however, on this occasion, with the political creed of the
author; and we notice these allusions to objects of temporary interest,
chiefly as instances of bad taste, and additional proofs that the author
does not always recollect, that a poet should address himself to more
than one generation.--_The Edinburgh Review_.




GEORGE GORDON, LORD BYRON


_Hours of Idleness: A Series of Poems, Original and Translated_. By
GEORGE GORDON, Lord Byron, a Minor. 8vo. pp. 200. Newark. 1807.

The poesy of this young lord belongs to the class which neither gods nor
men are said to permit. Indeed, we do not recollect to have seen a
quantity of verse with so few deviations in either direction from that
exact standard. His effusions are spread over a dead flat, and can no
more get above or below the level, than if they were so much stagnant
water. As an extenuation of this offence, the noble author is peculiarly
forward in pleading minority. We have it in the title-page, and on the
very back of the volume; it follows his name like a favourite part of
his _style_. Much stress is laid upon it in the preface, and the poems
are connected with this general statement of his case, by particular
dates, substantiating the age at which each was written. Now, the law
upon the point of minority, we hold to be perfectly clear. It is a plea
available only to the defendant; no plaintiff can offer it as a
supplementary ground of action. Thus, if any suit could be brought
against Lord Byron, for the purpose of compelling him to put into court
a certain quantity of poetry; and if judgment were given against him; it
is highly probable that an exception would be taken, were he to deliver
_for poetry_, the contents of this volume. To this he might plead
_minority_; but as he now makes voluntary tender of the article, he hath
no right to sue, on that ground, for the price in good current praise,
should the goods be unmarketable. This is our view of the law on the
point, and, we dare to say, so will it be ruled. Perhaps, however, in
reality, all that he tells us about his youth, is rather with a view to
increase our wonder, than to soften our censures. He possibly means to
say, 'See how a minor can write! This poem was actually composed by a
young man of eighteen, and this by one of only sixteen!'--But, alas, we
all remember the poetry of Cowley at ten, and Pope at twelve; and so far
from hearing, with any degree of surprise, that very poor verses were
written by a youth from his leaving school to his leaving college,
inclusive, we really believe this to be the most common of all
occurrences; that it happens in the life of nine men in ten who are
educated in England; and that the tenth man writes better verse than
Lord Byron.

His other plea of privilege, our author rather brings forward in order
to wa[i]ve it. He certainly, however, does allude frequently to his
family and ancestors--sometimes in poetry, sometimes in notes; and while
giving up his claim on the score of rank, he takes care to remember us
of Dr Johnson's saying, that when a nobleman appears as an author, his
merit should be handsomely acknowledged. In truth, it is this
consideration only, that induces us to give Lord Byron's poems a place
in our review, beside our desire to counsel him, that he do forthwith
abandon poetry, and turn his talents, which are considerable, and his
opportunities, which are great, to better account.

With this view, we must beg leave seriously to assure him, that the mere
rhyming of the final syllable, even when accompanied by the presence of
a certain number of feet,--nay, although (which does not always happen)
those feet should scan regularly, and have been all counted accurately
upon the fingers,--is not the whole art of poetry. We would entreat him
to believe, that a certain portion of liveliness, somewhat of fancy, is
necessary to constitute a poem; and that a poem in the present day, to
be read, must contain at least one thought, either in a little degree
different from the ideas of former writers, or differently expressed. We
put it to his candour, whether there is any thing so deserving the name
of poetry in verses like the following, written in 1806, and whether, if
a youth of eighteen could say any thing so uninteresting to his
ancestors, a youth of nineteen should publish it.

    'Shades of heroes, farewell! your descendant, departing
      From the seat of his ancestors, bids you, adieu!
    Abroad, or at home, your remembrance imparting
      New courage, he'll think upon glory, and you.

    Though a tear dim his eye, at this sad separation,
      'Tis nature, not fear, that excites his regret:
    Far distant he goes, with the same emulation;
      The fame of his fathers he ne'er can forget.

    That fame, and that memory, still will he cherish,
      He vows, that he ne'er will disgrace your renown;
    Like you will he live, or like you will he perish;
      When decay'd, may he mingle his dust with your own.' p. 3.

Now we positively do assert, that there is nothing better than these
stanzas in the whole compass of the noble minor's volume.

Lord Byron should also have a care of attempting what the greatest poets
have done before him, for comparisons (as he must have had occasion to
see at his writing-master's) are odious.--Gray's Ode on Eton College,
should really have kept out the ten hobbling stanzas 'on a distant view
of the village and school of Harrow.'

    'Where fancy, yet, joys to retrace the resemblance,
      Of comrades, in friendship and mischief allied;
    How welcome to me, your ne'er fading remembrance,
      Which rests in the bosom, though hope is deny'd.' p. 4.

In like manner the exquisite lines of Mr Rogers, '_On a Tear_,' might
have warned the noble author off those premises, and spared us a whole
dozen such stanzas as the following.

        'Mild Charity's glow,
        To us mortals below,
    Shows the soul from barbarity clear;
        Compassion will melt,
        Where this virtue is felt,
    And its dew is diffus'd in a Tear.

        The man doom'd to sail,
        With the blast of the gale,
    Through billows Atlantic to steer,
        As he bends o'er the wave,
        Which may soon be his grave,
    The green sparkles bright with a Tear.' p. 11.

And so of instances in which former poets had failed. Thus, we do not
think Lord Byron was made for translating, during his non-age, Adrian's
Address to his Soul, when Pope succeeded so indifferently in the
attempt. If our readers, however, are of another opinion, they may look
at it.

    'Ah! gentle, fleeting, wav'ring sprite,
    Friend and associate of this clay!
      To what unknown region borne,
    Wilt thou now wing thy distant flight?
    No more, with wonted humour gay,
      But pallid, cheerless, and forlorn.' p. 72.

However, be this as it may, we fear his translations and imitations are
great favourites with Lord Byron. We have them of all kinds, from
Anacreon to Ossian; and, viewing them as school exercises, they may
pass. Only, why print them after they have had their day and served
their turn? And why call the thing in p. 79 a translation, where _two_
words ([Greek: thelo legein]) of the original are expanded into four
lines, and the other thing in p. 81, where [Greek: mesonychtiois poth'
ho rais], is rendered by means of six hobbling verses?--As to his
Ossianic poesy, we are not very good judges, being, in truth, so
moderately skilled in that species of composition, that we should, in
all probability be criticizing some bit of the genuine Macpherson
itself, were we to express our opinion of Lord Byron's rhapsodies. _If_,
then, the following beginning of a 'Song of bards,' is by his Lordship,
we venture to object to it, as far as we can comprehend it. 'What form
rises on the roar of clouds, whose dark ghost gleams on the red stream
of tempests? His voice rolls on the thunder; 'tis Orla, the brown chief
of Otihoma. He was,' &c. After detaining this 'brown chief' some time,
the bards conclude by giving him their advice to 'raise his fair locks;'
then to 'spread them on the arch of the rainbow;' and 'to smile through
the tears of the storm.' Of this kind of thing there are no less than
_nine_ pages; and we can so far venture an opinion in their favour, that
they look very like Macpherson; and we are positive they are pretty
nearly as stupid and tiresome.

It is a sort of privilege of poets to be egotists; but they should 'use
it as not abusing it;' and particularly one who piques himself (though
indeed at the ripe age of nineteen), of being 'an infant bard,'--('The
artless Helicon I boast is youth;')--should either not know, or should
seem not to know, so much about his own ancestry. Besides a poem above
cited on the family seat of the Byrons, we have another of eleven pages,
on the self-same subject, introduced with an apology, 'he certainly had
no intention of inserting it;' but really, 'the particular request of
some friends,' &c., &c. It concludes with five stanzas on himself, 'the
last and youngest of a noble line.' There is a good deal also about his
maternal ancestors, in a poem on Lachin-y-gair, a mountain where he
spent part of his youth, and might have learned that _pibroch_ is not a
bagpipe, any more than duet means a fiddle.

As the author has dedicated so large a part of his volume to immortalize
his employments at school and college, we cannot possibly dismiss it
without presenting the reader with a specimen of these ingenious
effusions. In an ode with a Greek motto, called Granta, we have the
following magnificent stanzas.

    'There, in apartments small and damp,
      The candidate for college prizes,
    Sits poring by the midnight lamp,
      Goes late to bed, yet early rises.

    Who reads false quantities in Sele,
      Or puzzles o'er the deep triangle;
    Depriv'd of many a wholesome meal,
      In barbarous Latin doom'd to wrangle.

    Renouncing every pleasing page,
      From authors of historic use;
    Preferring to the lettered sage,
      The square of the hypothenuse.

    Still harmless are these occupations,
      That hurt none but the hapless student,
    Compar'd with other recreations
      Which bring together the imprudent.' p. 123, 124, 125.

We are sorry to hear so bad an account of the college psalmody as is
contained in the following Attic stanzas.

    'Our choir would scarcely be excus'd.
      Even as a band of new beginners;
    All mercy, now, must be refus'd
      To such a set of croaking sinners.

    If David, when his toils were ended,
      Had heard these blockheads sing before him
    To us, his psalms had ne'er descended,
      In furious mood, he would have tore 'em.' p. 126, 127.

But whatever judgment may be passed on the poems of this noble minor, it
seems we must take them as we find them, and be content; for they are
the last we shall ever have from him. He is at best, he says, but an
intruder into the groves of Parnassus; he never lived in a garret, like
thorough-bred poets; and 'though he once roved a careless mountaineer in
the Highlands of Scotland,' he has not of late enjoyed this advantage.
Moreover, he expects no profit from his publication; and whether it
succeeds or not 'it is highly improbable, from his situation and
pursuits hereafter,' that he should again condescend to become an
author. Therefore, let us take what we get and be thankful. What right
have we poor devils to be nice? We are well off to have got so much from
a man of this Lord's station, who does not live in a garret, but 'has
the sway' of Newstead Abbey. Again we say, let us be thankful; and, with
honest Sancho, bid God bless the giver, nor look the gift horse in the
mouth.--_The Edinburgh Review_.


_Childe Harolde's Pilgrimage. A Romaunt_. _By_ LORD BYRON. The Second
Edition. London: Murray, Fleet Street. 1812. 8vo. pp. 300. Price 12s.

If the object of poetry is to instruct by pleasing, then every poetical
effort has a double claim upon the attention of the Christian observer.
For we are anxious that the world should be instructed at all rates, and
that they should be pleased where they innocently may. We are,
therefore, by no means among those spectators who view the occasional
ascent of a poetic luminary upon the horizon of literature, as a
meteoric flash which has no relation to ourselves; but we feel instantly
an eager desire to find its altitude, to take its bearings, to trace its
course, and to calculate its influence upon surrounding bodies. When
especially it is no more an "oaten reed" that is blown; or a "simple
shepherd" who blows it; but when the song involves many high and solemn
feelings, and a man of rank and notoriety strikes his golden harp, we
feel, at once, that the increased influence of the song demands the more
rigid scrutiny of the critic.

Lord Byron is the author, beside the book before us, of a small volume
of poems, which gave little promise, we think, of the present work; and
of a satyrical poem, which, as far as temper is concerned, did give some
promise of it. It had pleased more than one critic to treat his
Lordship's first work in no very courtier-like manner; and especially
the Lion of the north had let him feel the lashing of his angry tail.
Not of a temperament to bear calmly even a "look that threatened him
with insult," his Lordship seized the tomahawk of satire, mounted the
fiery wings of his muse, and, like Bonaparte, spared neither rank, nor
sex, nor age, but converted the republic of letters into one universal
field of carnage. The volume called English Bards and Scotch Reviewers
is, in short, to be considered, among other works, as one of those
playful vessels which are said to have accompanied the Spanish armada,
manned by executioners, and loaded with nothing but instruments of
torture.

This second work was of too sanguinary a complexion to beget a very
pleasant impression upon the public mind; and all men, who wished well
to peace, politeness and literature, joined in the paean sung by the
immediate victims of his Lordship's wrath, when he embarked to soften
his manners, and, as it were, oil his tempers, amidst the gentler
spirits of more southern climes. Travelling, indeed, through any climes,
may be expected to exert this mitigating influence upon the mind. Nature
is so truly gentle, or, to speak more justly, the God of nature displays
so expansive a benevolence in all his works; so prodigally sheds his
blessings "upon the evil and the good;" builds up so many exquisite
fabrics to delight the eyes of his creatures; tinges the flowers with
such colours, and fills the grove with such music; that anyone who
becomes familiar with nature, can scarcely remain angry with man. With
what mitigating touches the scenery of Europe has visited our author,
remains to be seen. That he did not disarm it of its force by regarding
it with a cold or contemptuous eye, he himself teaches us--

    "Dear Nature is the kindest mother still,
    Though always changing in her aspect mild;
    From her bare bosom let me take my fill,
    Her never-weaned, though not her favoured child.
    O she is fairest in her features wild,
    Where nothing polished dares pollute her path;
    To me by day or night she ever smiled,
    Though I have marked her when none other hath,
    And sought her more and more, and loved her most in wrath." p. 79.

Our author having re-landed upon his native shores, his first deed is to
present to his country the work before us, as the fruits of his travels.
It is a kind of poetical journal of journeys and voyages through Spain
and Portugal, along the shores of the Mediterranean and Archipelago, and
through the states of ancient Greece. When we speak of journal, we mean
rather to designate the topics of the work than the manner of its
execution; for it is highly poetical. Most contrary to the spirit of
those less fanciful records, his Lordship sublimely discards all facts
and histories; all incidents; A.M. and P.M.; and bad inns and worse
winds; and battles and feasts. Seizing merely upon the picturesque
features in every object and event before him, he paints and records
them with such reflections, moral or immoral, as arise in his ardent
mind.

The "Childe Harolde" is the traveller; and as he is a mighty surly
fellow, neither loves nor is loved by any one; "through sin's long
labyrinth had run, nor made atonement when he did amiss;" as, moreover,
he is licentious and sceptical; Lord Byron very naturally, and
creditably to himself, sets out in his Preface with disclaiming any
connection with this imaginary personage. It is somewhat singular,
however, that most of the offensive reflections in the poem are made,
not by the "Childe," but the poet.

[Here follows a summary of the two cantos, with extensive quotations.]

Having by these extracts endeavoured to put our readers in possession of
some of the finest parts of this poem, and also of those passages which
determine its moral complexion, we shall proceed to offer a few remarks
upon its character and pretensions in both points of view.

The poem is in the stanza of Spenser--a stanza of which we think it
difficult to say whether the excellencies or defects are the greatest.
The paramount advantage is the variety of tone and pause of which it
admits. The great disadvantages are, the constraint of such complicated
rhymes, and the long suspension of the sense, especially in the latter
half of the stanza. The noblest conception and most brilliant diction
must be sacrificed, if four words in one place, and three in another
cannot be found rhyming to each other. And as to the suspension of the
sense, we are persuaded that no man reads a single stanza without
feeling a sort of strain upon the intellect and lungs--a kind of
suffocation of mind and body, before he can either discover the
lingering meaning, or pronounce the nine lines. To us, we confess that
the rhyming couplets of Mr. Scott, sometimes deviating into alternate
rhymes, are, on both accounts, infinitely preferable. One of the ends of
poetry is to relax, and the artificial and elaborate stanza of Spenser
costs us too much trouble, even in the reading, to accomplish this end.
To effect this, the sense should come to us, instead of our going far
and wide in quest of the sense. In our conception also, the heroic line
of ten syllables, though favourable to the most dignified order of
poetry, appears to limp when forced into the service of sonneteers: and
poems in the metre before us, are, after all, little better than a
string of sonnets; of which it is the constituent principle to be rather
pretty than grand--rather tender than martial--rather conceited than
wise--to keep the sense suspended for eight lines, and to discharge it
with a point in the ninth. These observations are by no means designed
to apply especially to the author--the extreme gravity of whose general
manner and matter, in a measure covet the dignity of the heroic line.
But it is this discordancy of measure and subject, together with the
obviously laboured rhymes and the halting of the sense, which in
general, we think, have shut out the Spenserian school from popular
reading, and have caused a distinguished critic[J] to say, that the
"Faiery Queen will not often be read through;" and that, although it
maintains its place upon the shelf, it is seldom found on the table of
the modern library.

Whilst, however, Lord Byron participates in this defect of his great
original, he is to be congratulated, as a poet, but alas! in his
poetical character alone, on much happy deviation from him. In the first
place, he has altogether washed his hands of allegory; a species of
fiction open to a thousand objections. In the next place, he is
infinitely more brief than his prototype. And in the third place, he
philosophizes and moralizes (though not indeed in a very sound strain),
as well as paints--provides food for the mind as well as the
eye--kindles the feeling as well as gratifies the sense. Thus far, then,
we are among the admirers of his Lordship. But it is to be lamented,
that what was well conceived is, from the temperament of his mind, ill
executed; that his philosophy is, strictly speaking, "only philosophy so
called;" that the moral emotions he feels, and is likely to communicate,
are of a character rather to offend and pollute the mind, than to sooth
or to improve it. This defect, however, we fear, is to be charged, not
upon the poet, but upon the man, at least upon his principles. But,
whatever be the cause, the consequences are dreadful. Indeed, we do not
hesitate to say, that the temperament of his mind is the ruin of his
poem. We shall take the liberty, as we have intimated, of touching upon
these defects as moral delinquincies, under another head; but for the
present we wish to notice them merely as poetical errors.

The legitimate object, then, of poetry, as we have said, is to
_instruct_ by _pleasing_; and, caeteris paribus, that poem is the best
which conveys the noblest lessons in the most attractive form. If, in
reply to this, it is urged that the heathen poets, and especially Homer,
taught no lesson to his readers; we answer, that he taught all the
lessons which, in his own days, were deemed of highest importance to his
country. The first object of philosophers and other teachers, in those
days, was to make good soldiers, and therefore to condemn the vices
which interfered with successful warfare. Now be it remembered, that the
grand topic of the Iliad is the fatal influence of the wrath of kings on
the success of armies. Its first words are [Greek: MENIN aeide]. Besides
this, the Iliad upholds the national mythology, or the only accredited
religion; and by a bold fiction, bordering upon truth, displays in an
Elysium and Tartarus, the eternal mansions of the good and bad, the
strongest incentive to virtue and penalty to vice. Indeed, that both
this and the Odyssey had a moral object, and that this object was
recognized by the ancients, may be inferred from Horace, who says of
Homer, in reference to the first poem:

    "Qui, quid sit pulchrum, quid turpe, quid utile, quid non,
    Plenius ac melius Chrysippo aut Crantore dicit."

And as to the second:

    "Rursum--quid virtus, et quid sapientia possit,
    Utile proposuit nobis exemplar Ulyssem." Epist. I. 2.

Many of the Odes of Horace had a patriotic subject--his Epistles and
Satires, with those of Juvenal and Persius, were the sermons of the
day. Virgil chiefly proposed to himself to exalt in his hero the
character of a patriot, and, in his fictitious history, the dignity of
his country. If the lessons they taught were of small importance or
doubtful value, or if they often forget to "teach" in their ambition to
"please," this is to be charged rather on the age than on the poet. They
taught the best lessons they knew; and were satisfied to please only
when they had nothing better to do. In modern times, it will not be
questioned that the greatest poets have ever endeavoured to enshrine
some moral or intellectual object in their verse. Milton calls Spenser
"our sage serious Spenser, whom I dare be known to think a better
teacher than Scotus or Aquinas." In like manner, the Absalom and
Achitophel, the Hind and Panther of Dryden, the philosophic strain of
Pope, the immortal page of Milton, and the half-inspired numbers of the
Task, are all, in their various ways, attempts of poets to improve or
reform the world. Every species of poetry, indeed, has received fresh
lustre, and even taken a new place in Parnassian dignity, by a larger
infusion of moral sentiment into its numbers. The ancient ballad has
arisen to new dignity through the moral touches, we wish they had been
less rare, of a Scott; and the stanza of Spenser has acquired new
interest in the hands of Lord Byron, from the philosophical air which it
wears. Numbers without morals are the man without "the glory." We
sincerely wish that the moral tone of his Lordship's poem had been less
liable to exception.

His Lordship, we believe, is acquainted with ancient authors. Let him
turn to Quinctilian, and he will find a whole chapter to prove that a
great writer must be a good man. Let him go to Longinus, and he will
read that a man who would write sublimely, "must spare no labour to
educate his soul to grandeur, and impregnate it with great and generous
ideas"--that "the faculties of the soul will then grow stupid, their
spirit will be lost, and good sense and genius lie in ruins, when the
care and study of man is engaged about the mortal, the worthless part of
himself, and he has ceased to cultivate virtue, and polish his nobler
part, his soul." Or, if poetical authority alone will satisfy a poet,
let him learn from one of the finest of our modern poems:

    "But of our souls the high-born loftier part,
    Th' ethereal energies that touch the heart,
    Conceptions ardent, laboring thought intense,
    Creative fancy's wild magnificence,
    And all the dread sublimities of song:
    These, Virtue, these to thee alone belong:
    Chill'd, by the breath of vice, their radiance dies,
    And brightest burns when lighted at the skies:
    Like vestal flames to purest bosoms given,
    And kindled only by a ray from heaven."[K]

That the object of poetry, however, is not simply to instruct, but to
"instruct by _pleasing_," is too obvious to need a proof. However the
original object of measure and rhythm may have been to graft truth on
the memory, and associate it with music; they are perpetuated by the
universal conviction that they delight the ear. Like the armour which
adorns the modern hall, they were contrived for use, but are continued
for ornament.

Assuming this, then, to be a just definition of poetry, we repeat our
assertion, that, in the work before us, the temperament of mind in the
poet creates the grand defect of the poetry. If poetry should instruct,
then he is a defective poet whose lessons rather revolt than improve the
mind. If poetry should please, then he is a bad poet who offends the
eye by calling up the most hideous images--who shews the world through a
discoloured medium--who warms the heart by no generous feelings--who
uniformly turns to us the worst side of men and things--who goes on his
way grumbling, and labours hard to make his readers as peevish and
wretched as himself. The tendency of the strain of Homer is to transform
us for the moment into heroes; of Cowper, into saints; of Milton, into
angels: but Lord Byron would almost degrade us into a Thersites or a
Caliban; or lodge us, as fellow-grumblers, in the style of Diogenes, or
any of his two or four-footed snarling or moody posterity. Now his
Lordship, we trust, is accessible upon much higher grounds; but he will
perceive that mere regard for his poetical reputation ought to induce
him to change his manner. If, as Longinus instructs us, a man must feel
sublimely to write sublimely, a poet must find pleasure in the objects
of nature before him, if he hope to give pleasure to others. Let him
remember, that not merely his conceptions, but his mind and character
are to be imparted to us in his verse. He will, in a measure, "stamp an
image of himself!" The fire with which we are to glow must issue from
him. Till this change take place in him, then, he can be no great poet.
It is Heraclitus who mourns in his pages, or Zeno who scolds, or Zoilus
who lashes; but we look in vain for the poet, for the living fountain of
our innocent pleasures, for the artificer of our literary delight, for
the hand which, as by enchantment, snatches us from the little cares of
life, whirls us into the boundless regions of imagination, "exhausting"
one "world," and imagining others, to supply pictures which may refresh
and charm the mind.[L] Lord Byron shews us man and nature, like the
phantasmagoria, _in shade_; whereas, in poetry at least, we desire to
see them illuminated by all the friendly rays which a benevolent
imagination can impart.

We have hitherto confined ourselves to an examination of the influence
of the principles and temper of this work upon its literary pretensions;
but his Lordship will forgive us if we now put off the mere critic for a
moment, and address him in that graver character which we assume to
ourselves in the title of our work. In truth, we are deeply affected by
the spectacle his poem presents to us. As the minor poems at the
conclusion of the work breathe the same spirit, suggest the same doubts,
and employ the same language with the "Childe Harold" we are compelled
to recognise the author in the hero whom he has painted. In fact, the
disclaimer, already noticed in the Preface, seems merely like one of
those veils worn to draw attention to the face rather than to baffle it:
and in the work before us we are forced to recognise a character, which,
since Rousseau gave his Confessions to the public, has scarcely ever, we
think, darkened the horizon of letters. The reader of the "Confessions"
is dismayed to find a man frankly avowing the most disgraceful vices;
abandoning them, not upon principle, but merely because they have ceased
to gratify; prepared to return to them if they promise to reward him
better; without natural affection, neither loving, nor beloved by any;
without peace, without hope, "without God in the world." When we search
into the mysterious cause of this autobiographical phenomenon, we at
once discover that Rousseau's immeasurable vanity betrayed him into a
belief, that even his vices would vanish in the blaze of his
excellencies; and that the world would worship him, as idolaters do
their mishapen gods, in spite of their ugliness. The confessions of
Lord Byron, we regret to say, bear something of an analogy to those of
the philosopher of Geneva. Are they, then, to be traced to the _same
source_? He plainly is far from indifferent to the opinion of
by-standers: can he, then, conceive that this peep into the window of
his breast must not revolt every virtuous eye? Can he boldly proclaim
his violations of decency and of sobriety; his common contempt for all
modifications of religion; his monstrous belief in the universal rest or
annihilation of man in a future state; and forget that he is one of
those who

    "Play such tricks before high heaven,
    As make the angels weep;"

as offend against all moral taste; as attempt to shake the very pillars
of domestic happiness and of public security?

It is, however, a matter of congratulation, that his Lordship, in common
with the republican Confessor, has not revealed his creed without very
honestly displaying the influence of this creed upon his own mind. We
should not, indeed, have credited a man of his sentiments, had he
assured us he was happy: happiness takes no root in such soils. But it
is still better to have his own testimony to the unmixed misery of
licentiousness and unbelief. It is almost comforting to be told, if we
dared to draw comfort out of the well of another man's miseries, that

    "Though gay companions o'er the bowl
      Dispel awhile the sense of ill;
    Though pleasure fires the maddening soul,
      The heart--the heart is lonely still."

It is consolatory also to contrast the peace and triumph of the dying
Christian, with the awful uncertainty, or rather the sullen despair,
which breathe in these verses.

    "'Aye--but to die and go'--alas,
      Where all have gone, and all must go;
    To be the nothing that I was,
      Ere born to life and living woe.

    "Count o'er the joys thine hours have seen,
      Count o'er thy days from anguish free;
    And know, whatever thou hast been,
      'Tis something better not to be."

Nor can religion be more powerfully recommended than by the following
avowal of an apostle of the opposite system.

    "No, for myself, so dark my fate
      Through every turn of life has been,
    Man and the world I so much hate,
      I care not when I quit the scene."

But whilst, for the benefit of others, we thus avail ourselves of the
antidote supplied by his Lordship to his own poison, we would wish also
that he might feel the efficacy of it himself. Could we hope that so
humble a work as this would reach the lofty sphere in which he moves, we
would solemnly say to him: "You are wretched, but will nothing make you
happy? You hate all men; will nothing warm you with new feelings? You
are (as you say) hated by all; will nothing make you an object of
affection? Suppose yourself the victim of some disease, which resisted
many ordinary applications; but that all who used one medicine uniformly
pronounced themselves cured:--would it be worthy of a philosopher not
merely to neglect the remedy, but to traduce it? Such, however, my Lord,
is the fatuity of your own conduct as to the religion of Christ.
Thousands, as wretched as yourself, have found 'a Comforter' in Him;
thousands, having stepped into these waters, have been healed of their
disease; thousands, touching the hem of His garment, have found 'virtue
go out of it.' Beggared then of every other resource, try this.
'Acquaint yourself with God, and be at peace.'" His Lordship may
designate this language by that expressive monosyllable, cant; and may
possibly, before long, hunt us down, as a sort of mad March hare, with
the blood-hounds of his angry muse. But we hope better things of him. We
assure him, that, whatever may be true of others, we do not "hate him."
As Christians, even he who professes to be unchristian is dear to us. We
regard the waste of his fine talents, and the laboured suppression and
apparent extinction of his better feelings, with the deepest
commiseration and sorrow. We long to see him escape from the black cloud
which, by what may fairly be called his "black art," he has conjured up
around himself. We hope to know him as a future buttress of his shaken
country, and as a friend of his yet "unknown God." Should this change,
by the mercy of God, take place, what pangs would many passages of his
present work cost him! Happy should we be, could we persuade him, in the
bare anticipation of such a change, even now to contrive for his future
happiness, by expunging sentiments that would then so much embitter it.
Should he never change; yet, such an act would prove, that, at least, he
meditated no cruel invasion upon the joys of others. Even Rousseau
taught his child religion, as a delusion essential to happiness. The
philosophic Tully also, if a belief in futurity were an error, deemed it
one with which it was impossible to part. Let the author then, at all
events, leave us in unmolested possession of our supposed privileges.
_He_ plainly knows no noble or "royal way" to happiness. _We_ find in
religion a bark that rides the waves in every storm; a sun that never
goes down; a living fountain of waters. Religion is suffered to change
its aspect and influence according to the eye and faith of the
examiner. Like one side of the pillar of the wilderness, it may merely
darken and perplex his Lordship's path: to millions it is like the
opposite side of that pillar to the Israelites, the symbol of Deity; the
pillar of hallowed flame, which lights and guides, and cheers them as
they toil onward through the pilgrimage of life. Could we hear any voice
proclaim of him, as of one reclaimed from as inveterate, though more
honest, prejudices, "behold, he prayeth;" we should hope that here also
the scales would drop from the eyes, and his Lordship become an eloquent
defender and promulgator of the religion which he now scorns.--_The
Christian Observer_.

[Footnote J: Hume.]

[Footnote K: Grant's Restoration of Learning in the East.]

[Footnote L: We cannot resist the temptation of saying, that in this
highest department of the poet's art, we know of no living poet who will
bear a comparison with Mr. Southey.]




PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY


_Alastor_; or, The Spirit of Solitude; and other Poems. By Percy Bysshe
Shelley. Crown 8vo. pp. 101. Baldwin, and Co. 1816.

We must candidly own that these poems are beyond our comprehension; and
we did not obtain a clue to their sublime obscurity, till an address to
Mr. Wordsworth explained in what school the author had formed his taste.
We perceive, through the "darkness visible" in which Mr. Shelley veils
his subject, some beautiful imagery and poetical expressions: but he
appears to be a poet "whose eye, in a fine phrenzy rolling," seeks only
such objects as are "above this visible diurnal sphere;" and therefore
we entreat him, for the sake of his reviewers as well as of his other
readers, (if he has any,) to subjoin to his next publication an _ordo_,
a glossary, and copious notes, illustrative of his allusions and
explanatory of his meaning.--_The Monthly Review_.


_The Cenci. A Tragedy, in Five Acts_. By PERCY BYSSHE SHELL[E]Y. Italy.
1819. pp. 104.

There has lately arisen a new-fangled style of poetry, facetiously
yclept the Cockney School, that it would really be worth any one's while
to enter as a candidate. The qualifications are so easy, that he need
never doubt the chance of his success, for he has only to knock, and it
shall be opened unto him. The principal requisites for admission, in a
literary point of view, are as follows. First, an inordinate share of
affectation and conceit, with a few occasional good things sprinkled,
like green spots of verdure in a wilderness, with a "parca quod satis
est manu." Secondly, a prodigious quantity of assurance, that neither
God nor man can daunt, founded on the honest principle of "who is like
unto me?" and lastly, a contempt for all institutions, moral and divine,
with secret yearnings for aught that is degrading to human nature, or
revolting to decency. These qualifications ensured, a regular initiation
into the Cockney mysteries follows as a matter of course, and the novice
enlists himself under their banners, proud of his newly-acquired honors,
and starched up to the very throat in all the prim stiffness of his
intellect. A few symptoms of this literary malady appeared as early as
the year 1795, but it then assumed the guise of simplicity and pathos.
It was a poetical Lord Fanny. It wept its pretty self to death by
murmuring brooks, and rippling cascades, it heaved delicious sighs over
sentimental lambs, and love-lorn sheep, apostrophized donkies in the
innocence of primaeval nature; sung tender songs to tender nightingales;
went to bed without a candle, that it might gaze on the chubby faces of
the stars; discoursed sweet nothings to all who would listen to its
nonsense; and displayed (_horrendum dictu_) the acute profundity of its
grief in ponderous folios and spiral duodecimos. The literary world,
little suspecting the dangerous consequences of this distressing malady,
suffered it to germinate in silence; and not until they became
thoroughly convinced that the disorder was of an epidemical nature, did
they start from their long continued lethargy. But it was then too late!
The evil was incurable; it branched out into the most vigorous
ramifications, and following the scriptural admonition, "Increase and
multiply," disseminated its poetry and its prose throughout a great part
of England. As a dog, when once completely mad, is never satisfied until
he has bitten half a dozen more, so the Cockney professors, in laudable
zeal for the propagation of their creed, were never at rest until they
had spread their own doctrines around them. They stood on the house tops
and preached, 'till of a verity they were black in the face with the
heating quality of their arguments; they stationed themselves by the bye
roads and hedges, to discuss the beauties of the country; they looked
out from their garrett [_sic_] windows in Grub-street, and exclaimed,
"_O! rus, quando ego te aspiciam_;" and gave such afflicting tokens of
insanity, that the different reviewers and satirists of the day kindly
laced them in the strait jackets of their criticism. "But all this
availeth _us_ nothing," exclaimed the critics, "so long as _we_ see
Mordecai the Jew sitting at the gate of the Temple; that is to say, as
long as there is one Cockney pericranium left unscalped by the tomahawks
of our satire." But notwithstanding the strenuous exertions of all those
whose brains have not been cast in the mould of this new species of
intellectual dandyism, the evil has been daily and even hourly
increasing; and so prodigious is the progressive ratio of its march,
that the _worthy_ Society for the Suppression of Vice should be called
upon to eradicate it. It now no longer masks its real intentions under
affected purity of sentiment; its countenance has recently acquired a
considerable addition of brass, the glitter of which has often been
mistaken for sterling coin, and incest, adultery, murder, blasphemy, are
among other favorite topics of its discussion. It seems to delight in an
utter perversion of all moral, intellectual, and religious qualities. It
gluts over the monstrous deformities of nature; finds gratification in
proportion to the magnitude of the crime it extolls; and sees no virtue
but in vice; no sin, but in true feeling. Like poor Tom, in Lear, whom
the foul fiend has possessed for many a day, it will run through
ditches, through quagmires, and through bogs, to see a man stand on his
head for the exact space of half an hour. Ask the reason of this raging
appetite for eccentricity, the answer is, such a thing is out of the
beaten track of manhood, _ergo_, it is praiseworthy.

Among the professors of the Cockney school, Mr. Percy Bysshe Shell[e]y
is one of the most conspicuous. With more fervid imagination and
splendid talents than nine-tenths of the community, he yet prostitutes
those talents by the utter degradation to which he unequivocally
consigns them. His Rosalind and Helen, his Revolt of Islam, and his
Alastor, or the Spirit of Solitude, while they possess beauties of a
superior order, are lamentably deficient in morality and religion. The
doctrines they inculcate are of the most evil tendency; the characters
they depict are of the most horrible description; but in the midst of
these disgraceful passages, there are beauties of such exquisite, such
redeeming qualities, that we adore while we pity--we admire while we
execrate--and are tempted to exclaim with the last of the Romans, "Oh!
what a fall is _here_, my countrymen." In the modern Eclogue of Rosalind
and Helen in particular, there is a pensive sadness, a delicious
melancholy, nurst in the purest, the deepest recesses of the heart, and
springing up like a fountain in the desert, that pervades the poem, and
forms its principal attraction. The rich yet delicate imagery that is
every where scattered over it, is like the glowing splendor of the
setting sun, when he retires to rest, amid the blessings of exulting
nature. It is the balmy breath of the summer breeze, the twilight's last
and holiest sigh. In the dramatic poem before us, the interest is of a
different nature; it is dark--wild, and unearthly. The characters that
appear in it are of no mortal stamp; they are daemons in human guise,
inscrutable in their actions, subtle in their revenge. Each has his
smile of awful meaning--his purport of hellish tendency. The tempest
that rages in his bosom is irrepressible but by death. The phrenzied
groan that diseased imagination extorts from his perverted soul, is as
the thunder-clap that reverberates amid the cloud-capt summits of the
Alps. It is the storm that convulses all nature--that lays bare the face
of heaven, and gives transient glimpses of destruction yet to be. Then
in the midst of all these accumulated horrors comes the gentle Beatrice,

    "Who in the gentleness of thy sweet youth
    Hast never trodden on a worm, or bruised
    A living flower, but thou hast pitied it
    With needless tears." Page 50.

She walks in the light of innocence; in the unclouded sunshine of
loveliness and modesty; but her felicity is transient as the calm that
precedes the tempest; and in the very whispers of her virtue, you hear
the indistinct muttering of the distant thunder. She is conceived in
the true master spirit of genius; and in the very instant of her
parricide, comes home to our imagination fresh in the spring time of
innocence--hallowed in the deepest recesses of melancholy. But
notwithstanding all these transcendant qualities, there are numerous
passages that warrant our introductory observations respecting the
Cockney school, and plunge "full fathom five," into the profoundest
depths of the Bathos. While, therefore, we do justice to the abilities
of the author, we shall bestow a passing smile or two on his unfortunate
Cockney propensities.

The following are the principal incidents of the play. Count Cenci, the
_daemon_ of the piece, delighted with the intelligence of the death of
two of his sons, recounts at a large assembly, specially invited for the
purpose, the circumstances of the dreadful transaction. Lucretia, his
wife, Beatrice, his daughter, and the other guests, are of course
startled at his transports; but when they hear his awful imprecations,

    "Oh, thou bright wine whose purple splendor leaps
    And bubbles gaily in this golden bowl
    Under the lamp light, as my spirits do,
    To hear the death of my accursed sons!
    Could I believe thou wert their mingled blood,
    Then would I taste thee like a sacrament,
    And pledge with thee the mighty Devil in Hell,
    Who, if a father's curses, as men say,
    Climb with swift wings after their children's souls,
    And drag them from the very throne of Heaven,
    Now triumphs in my triumph!--But thou art
    Superfluous; I have drunken deep of joy
    And I will taste no other wine tonight--"

their horror induces them to leave the room. Beatrice, in the meantime,
who has been rating her parent for his cruelty, is subjected to every
species of insult; and he sends her to her own apartment, with the
hellish intention of prostituting her innocence, and contaminating, as
he pithily expresses it, "both body and soul." The second act introduces
us to a tete-a-tete between Bernardo (another of Cenci's sons) and
Lucretia; when their conference is suddenly broken off, by the abrupt
entrance of Beatrice, who has escaped from the pursuit of the Count. She
recapitulates the injuries she has received from her father, the most
atrocious of which appear to be, that he has given them all "ditch
water" to drink, and "buffalos" to eat. But before we proceed further,
we have a word or two respecting this same ditch water, and buffalo's
flesh, which we shall mention, as a piece of advice to the author. It is
well known, we believe, in a case of lunacy, that the first thing
considered is, whether the patient has done any thing sufficiently
foolish, to induce his relatives to apply for a statute against him: now
any malicious, evil-minded person, were he so disposed, might make
successful application to the court against the luckless author of the
_Cenci, a tragedy in five acts_. Upon which the judge with all the
solemnity suitable to so melancholy a circumstance as the decay of the
mental faculties, would ask for proofs of the defendant's lunacy; upon
which the plaintiff would produce the affecting episode of the ditch
water and buffalo flesh; upon which the judge would shake his head, and
acknowledge the insanity; upon which the defendant would be incarcerated
in Bedlam.

To return from this digression, we are next introduced to Giacomo,
another of Cenci's hopeful progeny, who, like the rest, has a dreadful
tale to unfold of his father's cruelty towards him. Orsino, the favored
lover of Beatrice, enters at the moment of his irritation; and by the
most artful pleading ultimately incites him to the murder of his
father, in which he is to be joined by the rest of the family. The plot,
after one unlucky attempt, succeeds; and at the moment of its
accomplishment, is discovered by a messenger, who is despatched to the
lonely castle of Petrella (one of the Count's family residences), with a
summons of attendance from the Pope. We need hardly say that the
criminals are condemned; and not even the lovely Beatrice is able to
escape the punishment of the law. The agitation she experiences after
the commission of the incest, is powerfully descriptive.

              "How comes this hair undone?
    Its wandering strings must be what blind me so,
    And yet I tied it fast.--O, horrible!
    The pavement sinks under my feet! The walls
    Spin round! I see a woman weeping there,
    And standing calm and motionless, whilst I
    Slide giddily as the world reels--My God!
    The beautiful blue heaven is flecked with blood!
    The sunshine on the floor is black! The air
    Is changed to vapours such as the dead breathe
    In charnel pits! Pah! I am choaked! There creeps
    A clinging, black, contaminating mist
    About me--'tis substantial, heavy, thick,
    I cannot pluck it from me, for it glues
    My fingers and my limbs to one another,
    And eats into my sinews, and dissolves
    My flesh to a pollution, poisoning
    The subtle, pure, and inmost spirit of life!"

At first she concludes that she is mad; but then pathetically checks
herself by saying, "No, I am dead." Lucretia naturally enough inquires
into the cause of her disquietude, and but too soon discovers, by the
broken hints of the victim, the source of her mental agitation.
Terrified at their defenceless state, they then mutually conspire with
Orsino against the Count; and Beatrice proposes to way-lay him (a plot,
however, which fails) in a _deep and dark ravine_, as he journeys to
Petrella.

              "But I remember
    Two miles on this side of the fort, the road
    Crosses a deep ravine; 'tis rough and narrow,
    And winds with short turns down the precipice;
    And in its depth there is a mighty rock,
    Which has, from unimaginable years,
    Sustained itself with terror and with toil
    Over a gulph, and with the agony
    With which it clings seems slowly coming down;
    Even as a wretched soul hour after hour,
    Clings to the mass of life; yet clinging, leans;
    And leaning, makes more dark the dread abyss
    In which it fears to fall: beneath this crag
    Huge as despair, as if in weariness,
    The melancholy mountain yawns--below,
    You hear but see not an impetuous torrent
    Raging among the caverns, and a bridge
    Crosses the chasm; and high above there grow,
    With intersecting trunks, from crag to crag,
    Cedars, and yews, and pines; whose tangled hair
    Is matted in one solid roof of shade
    By the dark ivy's twine. At noon day here
    'Tis twilight, and at sunset blackest night."

Giacomo, meanwhile, who was privy to the transaction, awaits the arrival
of Orsino, with intelligence of the murder, in a state of the most
fearful torture and suspence.

          "Tis midnight, and Orsino comes not yet.
              (_Thunder, and the sound of a storm._)
    What! can the everlasting elements
    Feel with a worm like man? If so, the shaft
    Of mercy-winged lightning would not fall
    On stones and trees. My wife and children sleep:
    They are now living in unmeaning dreams:
    But I must wake, still doubting if that deed
    Be just which was most necessary. O,
    Thou unreplenished lamp! whose narrow fire
    Is shaken by the wind, and on whose edge
    Devouring darkness hovers! Thou small flame,
    Which, as a dying pulse rises and falls,
    Still flickerest up and down, how very soon,
    Did I not feed thee, thou wouldst fail and be
    As thou hadst never been! So wastes and sinks
    Even now, perhaps, the life that kindled mine:
    But that no power can fill with vital oil
    That broken lamp of flesh. Ha! 'tis the blood
    Which fed these veins that ebbs till all is cold:
    It is the form that moulded mine that sinks
    Into the white and yellow spasms of death:
    It is the soul by which mine was arrayed
    In God's immortal likeness which now stands
    Naked before Heaven's judgment seat!
                        (_a bell strikes_)
                    One! Two!
    The hours crawl on; and when my hairs are white
    My son will then perhaps be waiting thus.
    Tortured between just hate and vain remorse;
    Chiding the tardy messenger of news
    Like those which I expect. I almost wish
    He be not dead, although my wrongs are great;
    Yet--'tis Orsino's step."

We envy not the feelings of any one who can read the curses that Cenci
invokes on his daughter, when she refuses to repeat her guilt, without
the strongest disgust, notwithstanding the intense vigor of the
imprecations

      "_Cen._ (_Kneeling_) God!
    Hear me! If this most specious mass of flesh,
    Which thou hast made my daughter; this my blood,
    This particle of my divided being;
    Or rather, this my bane and my disease,
    Whose sight infects and poisons me; this devil
    Which sprung from me as from a hell, was meant
    To aught good use; if her bright loveliness
    Was kindled to illumine this dark world;
    If nursed by thy selectest dew of love
    Such virtues blossom in her as should make
    The peace of life, I pray thee for my sake
    As thou the common God and Father art
    Of her, and me, and all; reverse that doom!
    Earth, in the name of God, let her food be
    Poison, until she be encrusted round
    With leprous stains! Heaven, rain upon her head
    The blistering drops of the Maremma's dew,
    Till she be speckled like a toad; parch up
    Those love-enkindled lips, warp those fine limbs
    To loathed lameness! All beholding sun,
    Strike in thine envy those life darting eyes
    With thine own blinding beams!
      _Lucr._ Peace! Peace!
    For thine own sake unsay those dreadful words.
    When high God grants he punishes such prayers.
      _Cen._ (_Leaping up, and throwing his right hand toward Heaven_)
    He does his will, I mine! This in addition,
    That if she have a child--
      _Lucr._ Horrible thought!
      _Cen._ That if she ever have a child; and thou,
    Quick Nature! I adjure thee by thy God,
    That thou be fruitful in her, and encrease
    And multiply, fulfilling his command,
    And my deep imprecation! May it be
    A hideous likeness of herself, that as
    From a distorting mirror, she may see
    Her image mixed with what she most abhors,
    Smiling upon her from her nursing breast.
    And that the child may from its infancy
    Grow, day by day, more wicked and deformed,
    Turning her mother's love to misery:
    And that both she and it may live until
    It shall repay her care and pain with hate,
    Or what may else be more unnatural.
    So he may hunt her thro' the clamorous scoffs
    Of the loud world to a dishonoured grave.
    Shall I revoke this curse? Go, bid her come,
    Before my words are chronicled in Heaven.
                              (_Exit_ LUCRETIA.)
    I do not feel as if I were a man,
    But like a fiend appointed to chastise
    The offences of some unremembered world.
    My blood is running up and down my veins;
    A fearful pleasure makes it prick and tingle:
    I feel a giddy sickness of strange awe;
    My heart is beating with an expectation
    Of horrid joy."

_Ohe! jam satis est!!_--The _minutiae_ of this _affectionate_ parent's
curses forcibly remind us of the equally minute excommunication so
admirably recorded in Tristram Shandy. But Sterne has the start of him;
for though Percy Bysshe Shell[e]y, Esquire, has contrived to include in
the imprecations of Cenci, the eyes, head, lips, and limbs of his
daughter, the other has anticipated his measures, in formally and
specifically anathematizing the lights, lungs, liver, and _all odd
joints_, without excepting even the great toe of his victim.--To proceed
in our review; the dying expostulations of poor Beatrice, are beautiful
and affecting, though occasionally tinged with the Cockney style of
burlesque; for instance, Bernado asks, when they tear him from the
embraces of his sister,

    "Would ye divide body from soul?"

On which the judge sturdily replies--"That is the headsman's business."
The idea of approaching execution paralyses the soul of Beatrice, and
she thus frantically expresses her horror.

      "_Beatr._ (_Wildly_) Oh,
    My God! Can it be possible I have
    To die so suddenly? So young to go
    Under the obscure, cold, rotting, wormy ground!
    To be nailed down into a narrow place;
    To see no more sweet sunshine; hear no more
    Blithe voice of living thing; muse not again
    Upon familiar thoughts, sad, yet thus lost.
    How fearful! to be nothing! Or to be--
    What? O, where am I? Let me not go mad!
    Sweet Heaven, forgive weak thoughts! If there should be
    No God, no Heaven, no Earth in the void world;
    The wide, grey, lampless, deep, unpeopled world!
    If all things then should be--my father's spirit
    His eye, his voice, his touch surrounding me;
    The atmosphere and breath of my dead life!
    If sometimes, as a shape more like himself,
    Even the form which tortured me on earth,
    Masked in grey hairs and wrinkles, he should come
    And wind me in his hellish arms, and fix
    His eyes on mine, and drag me down, down, down!"

The author, in his preface, observes that he has committed only one
plagiarism in his play. But with all the triumph of vanity, we here
stoutly convict him of having wilfully, maliciously and despitefully
stolen, the pleasing idea of the repetition of "down, down, down," from
the equally pathetic and instructive ditty of "up, up, up," in Tom
Thumb; the exordium or prolegomena to which floweth _sweetly_ and
_poetically_ thus:--

    "Here we go up, up, up,
    And here we go _down, down, down_!"

In taking leave of Mr. Shelley, we have a few observations to whisper in
his ear. That he has the seedlings of poetry in his composition no one
can deny, after the perusal of many of our extracts; that he employs
them worthily, is more than can be advanced. His style, though disgraced
by occasional puerilities, and simpering affectations, is in general
bold, vigorous, and manly; but the disgraceful fault to which we object
in his writings, is the scorn he every where evinces for all that is
moral or religious. If he must be skeptical--if he must be lax in his
human codes of excellence, let him be so; but in God's name let him not
publish his principles, and cram them down the throats of others.
Existence in its present state is heavy enough; and if we take away the
idea of eternal happiness, however visionary it may appear to some, who
or what is to recompence us for the loss we have sustained? Will
scepticism lighten the bed of death?--Will vice soothe the pillow of
declining age? If so! let us all be sceptics, let us all be vicious; but
until their admirable efficacy is proved, let us jog on the beaten
course of life, neither influenced by the scoff of infidelity, nor
fascinated by the dazzling but flimsy garb of licentiousness and
immorality.--_The London Magazine_.


ADONAIS. _An Elegy, on the Death of Mr. John Keats_. By P.B. Shelley.

We have already given some of our columns to this writer's merits, and
we will not now repeat our convictions of his incurable absurdity. On
the last occasion of our alluding to him, we were compelled to notice
his horrid licentiousness and profaneness, his fearful offences to all
the maxims that honorable minds are in the habit of respecting, and his
plain defiance of Christianity. On the present occasion we are not met
by so continued and regular a determination of insult, though there are
atrocities to be found in the poem quite enough to make us caution our
readers against its pages. Adonais is an elegy after _the manner of
Moschus_, on a foolish young man, who, after writing some volumes of
very weak, and, in the greater part, of very indecent poetry, died some
time since of a consumption: the breaking down of an infirm constitution
having, in all probability, been accelerated by the discarding his neck
cloth, a practice of the cockney poets, who look upon it as essential to
genius, inasmuch as neither Michael Angelo, Raphael or Tasso are
supposed to have worn those antispiritual incumbrances. In short, as the
vigour of Sampson lay in his hair, the secret of talent with these
persons lies in the neck; and what aspirations can be expected from a
mind enveloped in muslin. Keats caught cold in training for a genius,
and, after a lingering illness, died, to the great loss of the
Independents of South America, whom he had intended to visit with an
English epic poem, for the purpose of exciting them to liberty. But
death, even the death of the radically presumptuous profligate, is a
serious thing; and as we believe that Keats was made presumptuous
chiefly by the treacherous puffing of his cockney fellow gossips, and
profligate in his poems merely to make them saleable, we regret that he
did not live long enough to acquire common sense, and abjure the
pestilent and perfidious gang who betrayed his weakness to the grave,
and are now panegyrising his memory into contempt. For what is the
praise of cockneys but disgrace, or what honourable inscription can be
placed over the dead by the hands of notorious libellers, exiled
adulterers, and avowed atheists.

Adonais, an Elegy, is the form in which Mr. Shelley puts forth his woes.
We give a verse at random, premising that there is no story in the
elegy, and that it consists of fifty-five stanzas, which are, to our
seeming, altogether unconnected, interjectional, and nonsensical. We
give one that we think among the more comprehensible. An address to
Urania:--

      "Most musical of mourners, weep anew!
      Not all to that bright station dared to climb;
    And _happier they their happiness who knew_,
      Whose _tapers yet burn thro' that night of time
    In which suns perish'd_; Others more sublime,
      Struck by the _envious_ wroth of man or GOD!!
    _Have sunk extinct in their refulgent prime_;
      And some yet live," &c.----

Now what is the meaning of this, or of any sentence of it, except indeed
that horrid blasphemy which attributes crime to the Great Author of all
virtue! The rest is mere empty absurdity. If it were worth our while to
dilate on the folly of the production, we might find examples of every
species of the ridiculous within those few pages.

Mr. Shelley summons all kinds of visions round the grave of this young
man, who, if he has now any feeling of the earth, must shrink with
shame and disgust from the touch of the hand that could have written
that impious sentence. These he classifies under names, the greater
number as new we believe to poetry as strange to common sense. Those
are--

                  ----"Desires and _Adorations_
      Winged _Persuasions_ and veiled Destinies,
    _Splendours_, and _Glooms_, and glimmering _Incarnations_
      Of hopes and fears and twilight Phantasies,
    And Sorrow with her family of _Sighs_,
      And Pleasure, _blind with tears_! led by the _gleam_
    Of her own _dying_ SMILE instead of eyes!!"

Let our readers try to imagine these weepers, and close with "_blind_
Pleasure led," by what? "by the _light_ of _her own dying
smile_--instead of _eyes_!!!"

We give some specimens of Mr. S.'s

                _Nonsense--pastoral._
      "_Lost Echo_ sits amid the _voiceless mountains_,[M]
      And feeds her grief with his remember'd lay,
    _And will no more reply_ to winds and fountains."
                _Nonsense--physical._
    --"for whose disdain she (Echo) pin'd away
    Into a _shadow_ of all _sounds_!"
                _Nonsense--vermicular._
    "Flowers springing from the corpse
    ----------------------illumine death
    And _mock_ the _merry_ worm that wakes beneath."
                _Nonsense--pathetic._
      "Alas! that all we lov'd of him should be
      But for our grief, as if it had not been,
    And _grief itself be mortal_! WOE IS ME!"
                _Nonsense--nondescript._
      "In the death chamber for a moment Death,
    _Blush'd to annihilation_!"
                _Nonsense--personal._
    "A pardlike spirit, beautiful and swift--
      A love in _desolation mask'd_;--a Power
    Girt _round with weakness_;--it can scarce _uplift_
    The _weight_ of the _superincumbent hour_!"

We have some idea that this fragment of character is intended for Mr.
Shelley himself. It closes with a passage of memorable and ferocious
blasphemy:--

      ---------------"He with a sudden hand
    Made bare his branded and ensanguin'd brow,
    Which was like Cain's or CHRIST'S!!!"

What can be said to the wretched person capable of this daring
profanation. The name of the first murderer--the accurst of God--brought
into the same aspect image with that of the Saviour of the World! We are
scarcely satisfied that even to quote such passages may not be criminal.
The subject is too repulsive for us to proceed even in expressing our
disgust for the general folly that makes the Poem as miserable in point
of authorship, as in point of principle. We know that among a certain
class this outrage and this inanity meet with some attempt at
palliation, under the idea that frenzy holds the pen. That any man who
insults the common order of society, and denies the being of God, is
essentially mad we never doubted. But for the madness, that retains
enough of rationality to be wilfully mischievous, we can have no more
lenity than for the appetites of a wild beast. The poetry of the work is
_contemptible_--a mere collection of bloated words heaped on each other
without order, harmony, or meaning; the refuse of a schoolboy's
common-place book, full of the vulgarisms of pastoral poetry, yellow
gems and blue stars, bright Phoebus and rosy-fingered Aurora; and of
this stuff is Keats's wretched Elegy compiled.

We might add instances of like incomprehensible folly from every stanza.
A heart _keeping_, a mute _sleep_, and death _feeding_ on a mute
_voice_, occur in one verse (page 8); Spring in despair "throws down her
_kindling_ buds as if she Autumn were," a thing we never knew Autumn do
with buds of any sort, the kindling kind being unknown to our botany; a
_green lizard_ is like an _unimprisoned flame_, _waking_ out of its
_trance_ (page 13). In the same page the _leprous corpse_ touched by the
tender spirit of Spring, so as to exhale itself in flowers, is compared
to "_incarnations of the stars, when splendour is changed to
fragrance_!!!" Urania (page 15) _wounds_ the "invisible palms" of her
tender feet by treading on human hearts as she journeys to see the
corpse. Page 22, somebody is asked to "clasp with panting soul the
pendulous earth," an image which, we take it, exceeds that of
Shakespeare, to "put a girdle about it in forty minutes."

It is so far a fortunate thing that this piece of impious and utter
absurdity can have little circulation in Britain. The copy in our hands
is one of some score sent to the Author's intimates from Pisa, where it
has been printed in a quarto form "with the types of Didot," and two
learned Epigraphs from Plato and Moschus. Solemn as the subject is, (for
in truth we must grieve for the early death of any youth of literary
ambition,) it is hardly possible to help laughing at the mock solemnity
with which Shelley charges the Quarterly Review for having murdered his
friend with--a critique![N] If criticism killed the disciples of that
school, Shelley would not have been alive to write an Elegy on
another:--but the whole is most farcical from a pen which on other
occasions, has treated of the soul, the body, life and death agreeably
to the opinions, the principles, and the practice of Percy Bysshe
Shelley.--_The Literary Gazette_.

[Footnote M: Though there is _no Echo_ and the mountains are
_voiceless_, the woodmen, nevertheless, in the last line of this verse
hear "a drear murmur between their Songs!!"]

[Footnote N: This would have done excellently for a coroner's inquest
like that on _Honey_, which lasted _thirty_ days, and was facetiously
called the "Honey-moon."]




JOHN KEATS


_Endymion: A Poetic Romance_. By John Keats. London. 1818. pp. 207.

Reviewers have been sometimes accused of not reading the works which
they affected to criticise. On the present occasion we shall anticipate
the author's complaint, and honestly confess that we have not read his
work. Not that we have been wanting in our duty--far from it--indeed, we
have made efforts almost as superhuman as the story itself appears to
be, to get through it; but with the fullest stretch of our perseverance,
we are forced to confess that we have not been able to struggle beyond
the first of the four books of which this Poetic Romance consists. We
should extremely lament this want of energy, or whatever it may be, on
our parts, were it not for one consolation--namely, that we are no
better acquainted with the meaning of the book through which we have so
painfully toiled, than we are with that of the three which we have not
looked into.

It is not that Mr. Keats, (if that be his real name, for we almost doubt
that any man in his senses would put his real name to such a rhapsody,)
it is not, we say, that the author has not powers of language, rays of
fancy, and gleams of genius--he has all these; but he is unhappily a
disciple of the new school of what has been somewhere called Cockney
poetry; which may be defined to consist of the most incongruous ideas in
the most uncouth language.

Of this school, Mr. Leigh Hunt, as we observed in a former Number,
aspires to be the hierophant. Our readers will recollect the pleasant
recipes for harmonious and sublime poetry which he gave us in his
preface to 'Rimini,' and the still more facetious instances of his
harmony and sublimity in the verses themselves; and they will recollect
above all the contempt of Pope, Johnson, and such like poetasters and
pseudo-critics, which so forcibly contrasted itself with Mr. Leigh
Hunt's self-complacent approbation of

    --'all the things itself had wrote,
    Of special merit though of little note.'

This author is a copyist of Mr. Hunt; but he is more unintelligible,
almost as rugged, twice as diffuse, and ten times more tiresome and
absurd than his prototype, who, though he impudently presumed to seat
himself in the chair of criticism, and to measure his own poetry by his
own standard, yet generally had a meaning. But Mr. Keats has advanced no
dogmas which he was bound to support by examples; his nonsense therefore
is quite gratuitous; he writes it for its own sake, and, being bitten by
Mr. Leigh Hunt's insane criticism, more than rivals the insanity of his
poetry.

Mr. Keats's preface hints that his poem was produced under peculiar
circumstances.

     'Knowing within myself (he says) the manner in which this Poem has
     been produced, it is not without a feeling of regret that I make it
     public.--What manner I mean, will be _quite clear_ to the reader,
     who must soon perceive great inexperience, immaturity, and every
     error denoting a feverish attempt, rather than a deed
     accomplished.'--_Preface_, p. vii.

We humbly beg his pardon, but this does not appear to us to be _quite so
clear_--we really do not know what he means--but the next passage is
more intelligible.

     'The two first books, and indeed the two last, I feel sensible are
     not of such completion as to warrant their passing the
     press.'--_Preface_, p. vii.

Thus 'the two first books' are, even in his own judgment, unfit to
appear, and 'the two last' are, it seems, in the same condition--and as
two and two make four, and as that is the whole number of books, we have
a clear and, we believe, a very just estimate of the entire work.

Mr. Keats, however, deprecates criticism on this 'immature and feverish
work' in terms which are themselves sufficiently feverish; and we
confess that we should have abstained from inflicting upon him any of
the tortures of the '_fierce hell_' of criticism, which terrify his
imagination, if he had not begged to be spared in order that he might
write more; if we had not observed in him a certain degree of talent
which deserves to be put in the right way, or which, at least, ought to
be warned of the wrong; and if, finally, he had not told us that he is
of an age and temper which imperiously require mental discipline.

Of the story we have been able to make out but little; it seems to be
mythological, and probably relates to the loves of Diana and Endymion;
but of this, as the scope of the work has altogether escaped us, we
cannot speak with any degree of certainty; and must therefore content
ourselves with giving some instances of its diction and
versification:--and here again we are perplexed and puzzled.--At first
it appeared to us, that Mr. Keats had been amusing himself and wearying
his readers with an immeasurable game at _bouts-rimes_; but, if we
recollect rightly, it is an indispensable condition at this play, that
the rhymes when filled up shall have a meaning; and our author, as we
have already hinted, has no meaning. He seems to us to write a line at
random, and then he follows not the thought excited by this line, but
that suggested by the _rhyme_ with which it concludes. There is hardly
a complete couplet enclosing a complete idea in the whole book. He
wanders from one subject to another, from the association, not of the
ideas but of sounds, and the work is composed of hemistichs which, it is
quite evident, have forced themselves upon the author by the mere force
of the catchwords on which they turn.

We shall select, not as the most striking instance, but as that least
liable to suspicion, a passage from the opening of the poem.

    ----'Such the sun, the moon,
    Trees old and young, sprouting a shady boon
    For simple sheep; and such are daffodils
    With the green world they live in; and clear rills
    That for themselves a cooling covert make
    'Gainst the hot season; the mid forest brake,
    Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms:
    And such too is the grandeur of the dooms
    We have imagined for the mighty dead; &c. &c.'--pp. 3, 4.

Here it is clear that the word, and not the idea, _moon_ produces the
simple sheep and their shady _boon_, and that 'the _dooms_ of the mighty
dead' would never have intruded themselves but for the '_fair musk-rose
blooms_.'

Again.

    'For 'twas the morn: Apollo's upward fire
    Made every eastern cloud a silvery pyre
    Of brightness so unsullied, that therein
    A melancholy spirit well might win
    Oblivion, and melt out his essence fine
    Into the winds: rain-scented eglantine
    Gave temperate sweets to that well-wooing sun;
    The lark was lost in him; cold springs had run
    To warm their chilliest bubbles in the grass;
    Man's voice was on the mountains; and the mass
    Of nature's lives and wonders puls'd tenfold,
    To feel this sun-rise and its glories old.'--p. 8.

Here Apollo's _fire_ produces a _pyre_, a silvery pyre of clouds,
_wherein_ a spirit may _win_ oblivion and melt his essence _fine_, and
scented _eglantine_ gives sweets to the _sun_, and cold springs had
_run_ into the _grass_, and then the pulse of the _mass_ pulsed
_tenfold_ to feel the glories _old_ of the new-born day, &c.

One example more.

    'Be still the unimaginable lodge
    For solitary thinkings; such as dodge
    Conception to the very bourne of heaven,
    Then leave the naked brain: be still the leaven,
    That spreading in this dull and clodded earth
    Gives it a touch ethereal--a new birth.'--p. 17.

_Lodge, dodge_--_heaven, leaven_--_earth, birth_; such, in six words, is
the sum and substance of six lines.

We come now to the author's taste in versification. He cannot indeed
write a sentence, but perhaps he may be able to spin a line. Let us see.
The following are specimens of his prosodial notions of our English
heroic metre.

    'Dear as the temple's self, so does the moon,
    The passion poesy, glories infinite.'--p. 4.

    'So plenteously all weed-hidden roots.'--p. 6.

    'Of some strange history, potent to send.'--p. 18.

    'Before the deep intoxication.'--p. 27.

    'Her scarf into a fluttering pavilion.'--p. 33.

    'The stubborn canvass for my voyage prepared--.'--p. 39.

    '"Endymion! the cave is secreter
    Than the isle of Delos. Echo hence shall stir
    No sighs but sigh-warm kisses, or light noise
    Of thy combing hand, the while it travelling cloys
    And trembles through my labyrinthine hair."'--p. 48.

By this time our readers must be pretty well satisfied as to the meaning
of his sentences and the structure of his lines: we now present them
with some of the new words with which, in imitation of Mr. Leigh Hunt,
he adorns our language.

We are told that 'turtles _passion_ their voices,' (p. 15); that 'an
arbour was _nested_,' (p. 23); and a lady's locks '_gordian'd_ up,' (p.
32); and to supply the place of the nouns thus verbalized Mr. Keats,
with great fecundity, spawns new ones; such as 'men-slugs and human
_serpentry_,' (p. 41); the '_honey-feel_ of bliss,' (p. 45); 'wives
prepare _needments_,' (p. 13)--and so forth.

Then he has formed new verbs by the process of cutting off their natural
tails, the adverbs, and affixing them to their foreheads; thus, 'the
wine out-sparkled,' (p. 10); the 'multitude up-followed,' (p. 11); and
'night up-took,' (p. 29). 'The wind up-blows,' (p. 32); and the 'hours
are down-sunken,' (p. 36.)

But if he sinks some adverbs in the verbs, he compensates the language
with adverbs and adjectives which he separates from the parent stock.
Thus, a lady 'whispers _pantingly_ and close,' makes '_hushing_ signs,'
and steers her skiff into a '_ripply_ cove,' (p. 23); a shower falls
'_refreshfully_,' (45); and a vulture has a '_spreaded_ tail,' (p. 44.)

But enough of Mr. Leigh Hunt and his simple neophyte.--If any one should
be bold enough to purchase this 'Poetic Romance,' and so much more
patient, than ourselves, as to get beyond the first book, and so much
more fortunate as to find a meaning, we entreat him to make us
acquainted with his success; we shall then return to the task which we
now abandon in despair, and endeavour to make all due amends to Mr.
Keats and to our readers.--_The Quarterly Review_.


COCKNEY SCHOOL OF POETRY.

No[.] IV.

    ------------------------------OF KEATS,
    THE MUSES' SON OF PROMISE, AND WHAT FEATS
    HE YET MAY DO, &C.

CORNELIUS WEBB.

Of all the manias of this mad age, the most incurable as well as the
most common, seems to be no other than the _Metromanie_. The just
celebrity of Robert Burns and Miss Baillie has had the melancholy effect
of turning the heads of we know not how many farm-servants and unmarried
ladies; our very footmen compose tragedies, and there is scarcely a
superannuated governess in the island that does not leave a roll of
lyrics behind her in her band-box. To witness the disease of any human
understanding, however feeble, is distressing; but the spectacle of an
able mind reduced to a state of insanity is of course ten times more
afflicting. It is with such sorrow as this that we have contemplated the
case of Mr John Keats. This young man appears to have received from
nature talents of an excellent, perhaps even of a superior
order--talents which, devoted to the purposes of any useful profession,
must have rendered him a respectable, if not an eminent citizen. His
friends, we understand, destined him to the career of medicine, and he
was bound apprentice some years ago to a worthy apothecary in town. But
all has been undone by a sudden attack of the malady to which we have
alluded. Whether Mr John had been sent home with a diuretic or composing
draught to some patient far gone in the poetical mania, we have not
heard. This much is certain, that he has caught the infection, and that
thoroughly. For some time we were in hopes, that he might get off with a
violent fit or two; but of late the symptoms are terrible. The phrenzy
of the "Poems" was bad enough in its way; but it did not alarm us half
so seriously as the calm, settled, imperturbable, drivelling idiocy of
"Endymion." We hope, however, that in so young a person, and with a
constitution originally so good, even now the disease is not utterly
incurable. Time, firm treatment, and rational restraint, do much for
many apparently hopeless invalids; and if Mr Keats should happen, at
some interval of reason, to cast his eye upon our pages, he may perhaps
be convinced of the existence of his malady, which, in such cases, is
often all that is necessary to put the patient in a fair way of being
cured.

The readers of the Examiner newspaper were informed, some time ago, by a
solemn paragraph, in Mr Hunt's best style, of the appearance of two new
stars of glorious magnitude and splendour in the poetical horizon of the
land of Cockaigne. One of these turned out, by and by, to be no other
than Mr John Keats. This precocious adulation confirmed the wavering
apprentice in his desire to quit the gallipots, and at the same time
excited in his too susceptible mind a fatal admiration for the character
and talents of the most worthless and affected of all the versifiers of
our time. One of his first productions was the following sonnet,
"_written on the day when Mr Leigh Hunt left prison_." It will be
recollected, that the cause of Hunt's confinement was a series of libels
against his sovereign, and that its fruit was the odious and incestuous
"Story of Rimini."

    "What though, for shewing truth to flattered state,
    _Kind Hunt_ was shut in prison, yet has he,
    In his immortal spirit been as free
    As the sky-searching lark and as elate.
    Minion of grandeur! think you he did wait?
    Think you he nought but prison walls did see,
    Till, so unwilling, thou unturn'dst the key?
    Ah, no! far happier, nobler was his fate!
    _In Spenser's halls!_ he strayed, and bowers fair,
    Culling enchanted flowers; and he flew
    _With daring Milton!_ through the fields of air;
    To regions of his own his genius true
    Took happy flights. Who shall his fame impair
    When thou art dead, and all thy wretched crew?"

The absurdity of the thought in this sonnet is, however, if possible,
surpassed in another, "_addressed to Haydon_" the painter, that clever,
but most affected artist, who as little resembles Raphael in genius as
he does in person, notwithstanding the foppery of having his hair curled
over his shoulders in the old Italian fashion. In this exquisite piece
it will be observed, that Mr Keats classes together WORDSWORTH, HUNT,
and HAYDON, as the three greatest spirits of the age, and that he
alludes to himself, and some others of the rising brood of Cockneys, as
likely to attain hereafter an equally honourable elevation. Wordsworth
and Hunt! what a juxta-position! The purest, the loftiest, and, we do
not fear to say it, the most classical of living English poets, joined
together in the same compliment with the meanest, the filthiest, and the
most vulgar of Cockney poetasters. No wonder that he who could be guilty
of this should class Haydon with Raphael, and himself with Spencer
[_sic_].

    "Great spirits now on earth are sojourning;
    He of the cloud, the cataract, the lake,
    Who on Helvellyn's summit, wide awake,
    Catches his freshness from Archangel's wing:
    _He of the rose, the violet, the spring,
    The social smile, the chain for Freedom's sake_:
    And lo!--whose steadfastness would never take
    A meaner sound than Raphael's whispering.
    And other spirits there are standing apart
    Upon the forehead of the age to come;
    These, these will give the world another heart,
    And other pulses. _Hear ye not the hum
    Of mighty workings?----
    Listen awhile ye nations, and be dumb._"

The nations are to listen and be dumb! and why, good Johnny Keats?
because Leigh Hunt is editor of the Examiner, and Haydon has painted the
judgment of Solomon, and you and Cornelius Webb, and a few more city
sparks, are pleased to look upon yourselves as so many future
Shakespeares and Miltons! The world has really some reason to look to
its foundations! Here is a _tempestas in matula_ with a vengeance. At
the period when these sonnets were published Mr Keats had no hesitation
in saying that he looked on himself as "_not yet_ a glorious denizen of
the wide heaven of poetry," but he had many fine soothing visions of
coming greatness, and many rare plans of study to prepare him for it.
The following we think is very pretty raving.

              "Why so sad a moan?
    Life is the rose's hope while yet unblown;
    The reading of an ever-changing tale;
    The light uplifting of a maiden's veil;
    A pigeon tumbling in clear summer air;
    A laughing school-boy, without grief or care,
    Riding the springing branches of an elm.

    "O for ten years, that I may overwhelm
    Myself in poesy; so I may do the deed
    That my own soul has to itself decreed.
    Then will I pass the countries that I see
    In long perspective, and continually
    Taste their pure fountains. First the realm I'll pass
    Of Flora, and old Pan: sleep in the grass,
    Feed on apples red, and strawberries,
    And choose each pleasure that my fancy sees.
    Catch the white-handed nymphs in shady places,
    To woo sweet kisses from averted faces,--
    Play with their fingers, touch their shoulders white
    Into a pretty shrinking with a bite
    As hard as lips can make it: till agreed,
    A lovely tale of human life we'll read.
    And one will teach a tame dove how it best
    May fan the cool air gently o'er my rest;
    Another, bending o'er her nimble tread,
    Will set a green robe floating round her head,
    And still will dance with ever varied ease,
    Smiling upon the flowers and the trees:
    Another will entice me on, and on
    Through almond blossoms and rich cinnamon;
    Till in the bosom of a leafy world
    We rest in silence, like two gems upcurl'd
    In the recesses of a pearly shell."

Having cooled a little from this "fine passion," our youthful poet
passes very naturally into a long strain of foaming abuse against a
certain class of English Poets, whom, with Pope at their head, it is
much the fashion with the ignorant unsettled pretenders of the present
time to undervalue. Begging these gentlemens' pardon, although Pope was
not a poet of the same high order with some who are now living, yet, to
deny his genius, is just about as absurd as to dispute that of
Wordsworth, or to believe in that of Hunt. Above all things, it is most
pitiably ridiculous to hear men, of whom their country will always have
reason to be proud, reviled by uneducated and flimsy striplings, who are
not capable of understanding either their merits, or those of any other
_men of power_--fanciful dreaming tea-drinkers, who, without logic
enough to analyze a single idea, or imagination enough to form one
original image, or learning enough to distinguish between the written
language of Englishmen and the spoken jargon of Cockneys, presume to
talk with contempt of some of the most exquisite spirits the world ever
produced, merely because they did not happen to exert their faculties in
laborious affected descriptions of flowers seen in window-pots, or
cascades heard at Vauxhall; in short, because they chose to be wits,
philosophers, patriots, and poets, rather than to found the Cockney
school of versification, morality and politics, a century before its
time. After blaspheming himself into a fury against Boileau, &c. Mr
Keats comforts himself and his readers with a view of the present more
promising aspect of affairs; above all, with the ripened glories of the
poet of Rimini. Addressing the manes of the departed chiefs of English
poetry, he informs them, in the following clear and touching manner, of
the existence of "him of the Rose," &c.

              "From a thick brake,
    Nested and quiet in a valley mild,
    Bubbles a pipe; fine sounds are floating wild
    About the earth. Happy are ye and glad."

From this he diverges into a view of "things in general." We smile when
we think to ourselves how little most of our readers will understand of
what follows.

    "Yet I rejoice: a myrtle fairer than
    E'er grew in Paphos, from the bitter weeds
    Lifts its sweet head into the air, and feeds
    A silent space with ever sprouting green.
    All tenderest birds there find a pleasant screen,
    Creep through the shade with jaunty fluttering,
    Nibble the little cupped flowers and sing.
    Then let us clear away the choaking _thorns_
    From round its gentle stem; let the young _fawns_,
    Yeaned in after times, when we are flown,
    Find a fresh sward beneath it, overgrown
    With simple flowers: let there nothing be
    More boisterous than a lover's bended knee;
    Nought more ungentle than the placid look
    Of one who leans upon a closed book;
    Nought more untranquil than the grassy slopes
    Between two hills. All hail delightful hopes!
    As she was wont, th' imagination
    Into most lovely labyrinths will be gone,
    And they shall be accounted poet kings
    Who simply tell the most heart-easing things.
    O may these joys be ripe before I die.
    Will not some say that I presumptuously
    Have spoken? that from hastening disgrace
    'Twere better far to hide my foolish face?
    That whining boyhood should with reverence bow
    Ere the dreadful thunderbolt could reach? How!
    If I do hide myself, it sure shall be
    In the very fane, the light of poesy."

From some verses addressed to various amiable individuals of the other
sex, it appears, notwithstanding all this gossamer-work, that Johnny's
affections are not entirely confined to objects purely etherial. Take,
by way of specimen, the following prurient and vulgar lines, evidently
meant for some young lady east of Temple-bar.

              "Add too, the sweetness
    Of thy honied voice; the neatness
    Of thine ankle lightly turn'd:
    With those beauties, scarce discern'd,
    Kept with such sweet privacy,
    That they seldom meet the eye
    Of the little loves that fly
    Round about with eager pry.
    Saving when, with freshening lave,
    Thou dipp'st them in the taintless wave;
    Like twin water lilies, born
    In the coolness of the morn
    O, if thou hadst breathed then,
    Now the Muses had been ten.
    Couldst thou wish for lineage _higher_
    Than twin sister of _Thalia_?
    At last for ever, evermore,
    Will I call the Graces four."

Who will dispute that our poet, to use his own phrase (and rhyme),

    "Can mingle music fit for the soft _ear_
    Of Lady _Cytherea_."

So much for the opening bud; now for the expanded flower. It is time to
pass from the juvenile "Poems," to the mature and elaborate "Endymion, a
Poetic Romance." The old story of the moon falling in love with a
shepherd, so prettily told by a Roman Classic, and so exquisitely
enlarged and adorned by one of the most elegant of German poets, has
been seized upon by Mr John Keats, to be done with as might seem good
unto the sickly fancy of one who never read a single line either of Ovid
or of Wieland. If the quantity, not the quality, of the verses dedicated
to the story is to be taken into account, there can be no doubt that Mr
John Keats may now claim Endymion entirely to himself. To say the truth,
we do not suppose either the Latin or the German poet would be very
anxious to dispute about the property of the hero of the "Poetic
Romance." Mr Keats has thoroughly appropriated the character, if not the
name. His Endymion is not a Greek shepherd, loved by a Grecian goddess;
he is merely a young Cockney rhymester, dreaming a phantastic dream at
the full of the moon. Costume, were it worth while to notice such a
trifle, is violated in every page of this goodly octavo. From his
prototype Hunt, John Keats has acquired a sort of vague idea, that the
Greeks were a most tasteful people, and that no mythology can be so
finely adapted for the purposes of poetry as theirs. It is amusing to
see what a hand the two Cockneys make of this mythology; the one
confesses that he never read the Greek Tragedians, and the other knows
Homer only from Chapman; and both of them write about Apollo, Pan,
Nymphs, Muses, and Mysteries, as might be expected from persons of their
education. We shall not, however, enlarge at present upon this subject,
as we mean to dedicate an entire paper to the classical attainments and
attempts of the Cockney poets. As for Mr Keats' "Endymion," it has just
as much to do with Greece as it has with "old Tartary the fierce;" no
man, whose mind has ever been imbued with the smallest knowledge or
feeling of classical poetry or classical history, could have stooped to
profane and vulgarise every association in the manner which has been
adopted by this "son of promise." Before giving any extracts, we must
inform our readers, that this romance is meant to be written in English
heroic rhyme. To those who have read any of Hunt's poems, this hint
might indeed be needless. Mr Keats has adopted the loose, nerveless
versification, and the Cockney rhymes of the poet of Rimini; but in
fairness to that gentleman, we must add, that the defects of the system
are tenfold more conspicuous in his disciple's work than in his own. Mr
Hunt is a small poet, but he is a clever man. Mr Keats is a still
smaller poet, and he is only a boy of pretty abilities, which he has
done everything in his power to spoil.

[Quotes almost two hundred lines of _Endymion_ with brief interpolated
comment.]

And now, good-morrow to "the Muses' son of Promise;" as for "the feats
he yet may do," as we do not pretend to say, like himself, "Muse of my
native land am I inspired," we shall adhere to the safe old rule of
_pauca verba_. We venture to make one small prophecy, that his
bookseller will not a second time venture L50 upon any thing he can
write. It is a better and a wiser thing to be a starved apothecary than
a starved poet; so back to the shop Mr John, back to "plasters, pills,
and ointment boxes," &c. But, for Heaven's sake, young Sangrado, be a
little more sparing of extenuatives and soporifics in your practice than
you have been in your poetry.

Z.

--_Blackwood's Magazine_.




ALFRED LORD TENNYSON


_Timbuctoo: a Poem, which obtained the Chancellor's Medal at the
Cambridge Commencement_, _by A. Tennyson, of Trinity College,
Cambridge._

We have accustomed ourselves to think, perhaps without any good reason,
that poetry was likely to perish among us for a considerable period
after the great generation of poets which is now passing away. The age
seems determined to contradict us, and that in the most decided manner,
for it has put forth poetry by a young man, and that where we should
least expect it, namely, in a prize-poem. These productions have often
been ingenious and elegant, but we have never before seen one of them
which indicated really first-rate poetical genius, and which would have
done honour to any man that ever wrote. Such, we do not hesitate to
affirm, is the little work before us; and the examiners seem to have
felt about it like ourselves, for they have assigned the prize to its
author, though the measure in which he writes was never before (we
believe) thus selected for honour. We extract a few lines to justify our
admiration.

[Quotes fifty lines beginning:--

    "A curve of whitening, flashing, ebbing light!
    A rustling of white wings! the bright descent," etc.]

How many men have lived for a century who could equal this?--_The
Athenaeum_.


_Poems by Alfred Tennyson_. pp. 163. London. 12mo. 1833.

This is, as some of his marginal notes intimate, Mr. Tennyson's second
appearance. By some strange chance we have never seen his first
publication, which, if it at all resembles its younge[r] brother, must
be by this time so popular that any notice of it on our part would seem
idle and presumptuous; but we gladly seize this opportunity of repairing
an unintentional neglect, and of introducing to the admiration of our
more sequestered readers a new prodigy of genius--another and a brighter
star of that galaxy or _milky way_ of poetry of which the lamented Keats
was the harbinger; and let us take this occasion to sing our palinode on
the subject of 'Endymion.' We certainly did not[O] discover in that poem
the same degree of merit that its more clear-sighted and prophetic
admirers did. We did not foresee the unbounded popularity which has
carried it through we know not how many editions; which has placed it on
every table; and, what is still more unequivocal, familiarized it in
every mouth. All this splendour of fame, however, though we had not the
sagacity to anticipate, we have the candour to acknowledge: and we
request that the publisher of the new and beautiful edition of Keats's
works now in the press, with graphic illustrations by Calcott and
Turner, will do us the favour and the justice to notice our conversion
in his prolegomena.

Warned by our former mishap, wiser by experience, and improved, as we
hope, in taste, we have to offer Mr. Tennyson our tribute of unmingled
approbation, and it is very agreeable to us, as well as to our readers,
that our present task will be little more than the selection, for their
delight, of a few specimens of Mr. Tennyson's singular genius, and the
venturing to point out, now and then, the peculiar brilliancy of some of
the gems that irradiate his poetical crown.

A prefatory sonnet opens to the reader the aspirations of the young
author, in which, after the manner of sundry poets, ancient and modern,
he expresses his own peculiar character, by wishing himself to be
something that he is not. The amorous Catullus aspired to be a sparrow;
the tuneful and convivial Anacreon (for we totally reject the
supposition that attributes the [Greek: Eithe lure chale genoimen] to
Alcaeus) wished to be a lyre and a great drinking cup; a crowd of more
modern sentimentalists have desired to approach their mistresses as
flowers, tunicks, sandals, birds, breezes, and butterflies;--all poor
conceits of narrow-minded poetasters! Mr. Tennyson (though he, too,
would, as far as his true love is concerned, not unwillingly 'be an
earring,' 'a girdle,' and 'a necklace,' p. 45) in the more serious and
solemn exordium of his works ambitions a bolder metamorphosis--he wishes
to be--_a river_!

SONNET.

    'Mine be the strength of spirit fierce and free,
    Like some broad river rushing down _alone_'--

rivers that travel in company are too common for his taste--

    'With the self-same impulse wherewith he was thrown'--

a beautiful and harmonious line--

    'From his loud fount upon the echoing lea:--
    Which, with _increasing_ might, doth _forward flee_'--

Every word of this line is valuable--the natural progress of human
ambition is here strongly characterized--two lines ago he would have
been satisfied with the _self-same_ impulse--but now he must have
_increasing_ might; and indeed he would require all his might to
accomplish his object of _fleeing forward_, that is, going backwards and
forwards at the same time. Perhaps he uses the word _flee_ for _flow_;
which latter he could not well employ in _this_ place, it being, as we
shall see, essentially necessary to rhyme to _Mexico_ towards the end of
the sonnet--as an equivalent to _flow_ he has, therefore, with great
taste and ingenuity, hit on the combination of _forward flee_--

    ------------'doth forward flee
    By town, and tower, and hill, and cape, and isle,
    And in the middle of the green _salt_ sea
    Keeps his blue waters fresh for many a mile.'

A noble wish, beautifully expressed, that he may not be confounded with
the deluge of ordinary poets, but, amidst their discoloured and briny
ocean, still preserve his own bright tints and sweet savor. He may be at
ease on this point--he never can be mistaken for any one else. We have
but too late become acquainted with him, yet we assure ourselves that if
a thousand anonymous specimens were presented to us, we should
unerringly distinguish his by the total absence of any particle of
_salt_. But again, his thoughts take another turn, and he reverts to the
insatiability of human ambition:--we have seen him just now content to
be a river, but as he _flees forward_, his desires expand into
sublimity, and he wishes to become the great Gulfstream of the Atlantic.

    'Mine be the power which ever to its sway
    Will win _the wise at once_--

We, for once, are wise, and he has won _us_--

    'Will win the wise at once; and by degrees
    May into uncongenial spirits flow,
    Even as the great gulphstream of Flori_da_
    Floats far away into the Northern seas
    The lavish growths of southern Mexi_co_!'--p. 1.

And so concludes the sonnet.

The next piece is a kind of testamentary paper, addressed 'To ----,' a
friend, we presume, containing his wishes as to what his friend should
do for him when he (the poet) shall be dead--not, as we shall see, that
he quite thinks that such a poet can die outright.

    'Shake hands, my friend, across the brink
      Of that deep grave to which I go.
    Shake hands once more; I cannot sink
      So far--far down, but I shall know
      Thy voice, and answer from below!'

Horace said 'non omnis moriar,' meaning that his fame should
survive--Mr. Tennyson is still more vivacious, 'non _omnino_
moriar,'--'I will not die at all; my body shall be as immortal as my
verse, and however _low I may go_, I warrant you I shall keep all my
wits about me,--therefore'

    'When, in the darkness over me,
      The four-handed mole shall scrape,
    Plant thou no dusky cypress tree,
      Nor wreath thy cap with doleful crape,
      But pledge me in the flowing grape.'

Observe how all ages become present to the mind of a great poet; and
admire how naturally he combines the funeral cypress of classical
antiquity with the crape hat-band of the modern undertaker.

He proceeds:--

    'And when the sappy field and wood
      Grow green beneath the _showery gray_,
    And rugged barks begin to bud,
      And through damp holts, newflushed with May,
      Ring sudden _laughters_ of the jay!'

Laughter, the philosophers tell us, is a peculiar attribute of man--but
as Shakespeare found 'tongues in trees and sermons in stones,' this true
poet endows all nature not merely with human sensibilities but with
human functions--the jay _laughs_, and we find, indeed, a little further
on, that the woodpecker _laughs_ also; but to mark the distinction
between their merriment and that of men, both jays and woodpeckers laugh
upon melancholy occasions. We are glad, moreover, to observe, that Mr.
Tennyson is prepared for, and therefore will not be disturbed by, human
laughter, if any silly reader should catch the infection from the
woodpeckers and the jays.

    'Then let wise Nature work her will,
      And on my clay her darnels grow,
    Come only when the days are still,
      And at my head-stone whisper low,
      And tell me'--

Now, what would an ordinary bard wish to be told under such
circumstances?--why, perhaps, how his sweetheart was, or his child, or
his family, or how the Reform Bill worked, or whether the last edition
of his poems had been sold--_papae_! our genuine poet's first wish is

    'And tell me--_if the woodbines blow_!'

When, indeed, he shall have been thus satisfied as to the _woodbines_,
(of the blowing of which in their due season he may, we think, feel
pretty secure,) he turns a passing thought to his friend--and another to
his mother--

    'If _thou_ art blest, my _mother's_ smile
    Undimmed'--

but such inquiries, short as they are, seem too common-place, and he
immediately glides back into his curiosity as to the state of the
weather and the forwardness of the spring--

    'If thou art blessed--my mother's smile
    Undimmed--_if bees are on the wing_?'

No, we believe the whole circle of poetry does not furnish such another
instance of enthusiasm for the sights and sounds of the vernal
season!--The sorrows of a bereaved mother rank _after_ the blossoms of
the _woodbine_, and just before the hummings of the _bee_; and this is
_all_ that he has any curiosity about; for he proceeds:--

    'Then cease, my friend, a little while
    That I may'--

'send my love to my mother,' or 'give you some hints about bees, which I
have picked up from Aristaeus, in the Elysian Fields,' or 'tell you how I
am situated as to my own personal comforts in the world below'?--oh no--

    'That I may--hear the _throstle sing_
    His bridal song--the boast of spring.

    Sweet as the noise, in parched plains,
      Of bubbling wells that fret the stones,
    (_If any sense in me remains_)
      Thy words will be--thy cheerful tones
      As welcome to--my _crumbling bones_!'--p. 4.

'_If any sense in me remains!_'--This doubt is inconsistent with the
opening stanza of the piece, and, in fact, too modest; we take upon
ourselves to re-assure Mr. Tennyson, that, even after he shall be dead
and buried, as much '_sense_' will still remain as he has now the good
fortune to possess.

We have quoted these first two poems in _extenso_, to obviate any
suspicion of our having made a partial or delusive selection. We cannot
afford space--we wish we could--for an equally minute examination of the
rest of the volume, but we shall make a few extracts to show--what we
solemnly affirm--that every page teems with beauties hardly less
surprising.

_The Lady of Shalott_ is a poem in four parts, the story of which we
decline to maim by such an analysis as we could give, but it opens
thus--

    'On either side the river lie
    Long fields of barley and of rye,
    That clothe the wold and _meet the sky_--
    And _through_ the field the road runs _by_.'

The Lady of Shalott was, it seems, a spinster who had, under some
unnamed penalty, a certain web to weave.

    'Underneath the bearded barley,
    The reaper, reaping late and early,
    Hears her ever chanting cheerly,
    Like an angel singing clearly....

    'No time has she for sport or play,
    A charmed web she weaves alway;
    A curse is on her if she stay
    Her weaving either night or day....

    'She knows not'--

Poor lady, nor we either--

    'She knows not what that curse may be,
    Therefore she weaveth steadily;
    Therefore no other care has she
              The Lady of Shalott.'

A knight, however, happens to ride past her window, coming

              ----'from Camelot;[P]
    From the bank, and _from_ the _river_,
    He flashed _into_ the crystal _mirror_--
    "Tirra lirra, tirra _lirra_," (_lirrar_?)
                Sang Sir Launcelot.'--p. 15.

The lady stepped to the window to look at the stranger, and forgot for
an instant her web:--the curse fell on her, and she died; why, how, and
wherefore, the following stanzas will clearly and pathetically
explain:--

    'A long drawn carol, mournful, holy,
    She chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
    Till her eyes were darkened _wholly_,
    And her smooth face sharpened _slowly_,
            Turned to towered Camelot.
    For ere she reached upon the tide
    The first house on the water side,
    Singing in her song she died,
            The Lady of Shalott!
    Knight and burgher, lord and dame,
    To the planked wharfage came;
    Below _the stern_ they read her name,
            The Lady of Shalott.'--p. 19.

We pass by two--what shall we call them?--tales, or odes, or sketches,
entitled 'Mariana in the South' and 'Eleaenore,' of which we fear we
could make no intelligible extract, so curiously are they run together
into one dreamy tissue--to a little novel in rhyme, called 'The Miller's
Daughter.' Millers' daughters, poor things, have been so generally
betrayed by their sweethearts, that it is refreshing to find that Mr.
Tennyson has united himself to _his_ miller's daughter in lawful
wedlock, and the poem is a history of his courtship and wedding. He
begins with a sketch of his own birth, parentage, and personal
appearance--

    'My father's mansion, mounted high,
      Looked down upon the village-spire;
    I was a long and listless boy,
      And son and heir unto the Squire.'

But the son and heir of Squire Tennyson often descended from the
'mansion mounted high;' and

    'I met in all the close green ways,
      While walking with my line and rod,'

A metonymy for 'rod and line'--

    'The wealthy miller's mealy face,
      Like the _moon in an ivytod_.

    'He looked so jolly and so good--
      While fishing in the mill-dam water,
    I laughed to see him as he stood,
      And dreamt not of the miller's daughter.'--p. 33.

He, however, soon saw, and, need we add, loved the miller's daughter,
whose countenance, we presume, bore no great resemblance either to the
'mealy face' of the miller, or 'the moon in an ivy-tod;' and we think
our readers will be delighted at the way in which the impassioned
husband relates to his wife how his fancy mingled enthusiasm for rural
sights and sounds, with a prospect of the less romantic scene of her
father's occupation.

    'How dear to me in youth, my love,
      Was everything about the mill;
    The black, the silent pool above,
      The pool beneath that ne'er stood still;

    The meal-sacks on the whitened floor,
      The dark round of the dripping wheel,
    _The very air about the door,
      Made misty with the floating meal!_'--p. 36.

The accumulation of tender images in the following lines appears not
less wonderful:--

    'Remember you that pleasant day
      When, after roving in the woods,
    ('Twas April then) I came and lay
      Beneath those _gummy_ chestnut-buds?

    'A water-rat from off the bank
      Plunged in the stream. With idle care,
    Downlooking through the sedges rank,
      I saw your troubled image there.

    'If you remember, you had set,
      Upon the narrow casement-edge,
    A _long green box_ of mignonette
      And you were leaning on the ledge.'

The poet's truth to Nature in his 'gummy' chestnut-buds, and to Art in
the 'long green box' of mignonette--and that masterful touch of likening
the first intrusion of love into the virgin bosom of the Miller's
daughter to the plunging of a water-rat into the mill-dam--these are
beauties which, we do not fear to say, equal anything even in Keats.

We pass by several songs, sonnets, and small pieces, all of singular
merit, to arrive at a class, we may call them, of three poems derived
from mythological sources--Oenone, the Hesperides, and the
Lotos-eaters. But though the subjects are derived from classical
antiquity, Mr. Tennyson treats them with so much originality that he
makes them exclusively his own. Oenone, deserted by

    'Beautiful Paris, evilhearted Paris,'

sings a kind of dying soliloquy addressed to Mount Ida, in a formula
which is _sixteen_ times repeated in this short poem.

    'Dear mother Ida, hearken ere I die.'

She tells her 'dear mother Ida,' that when evilhearted Paris was about
to judge between the three goddesses, he hid her (Oenone) behind a
rock, whence she had a full view of the _naked_ beauties of the rivals,
which broke her heart.

    '_Dear mother Ida, hearken ere I die_:--
    It was the deep mid noon: one silvery cloud
    Had _lost his way_ among the pined hills:
    They came--_all three_--the Olympian goddesses.
    Naked they came--

        *    *    *    *    *    *

    How beautiful they were! too beautiful
    To look upon; but Paris was to me
    _More lovelier_ than all the world beside.
    _O mother Ida, hearken ere I die._'--p. 56.

In the place where we have indicated a pause, follows a description,
long, rich, and luscious--Of the three naked goddesses? Fye for
shame--no--of the 'lily flower violet-eyed,' and the 'singing pine,' and
the 'overwandering ivy and vine,' and 'festoons,' and 'gnarled boughs,'
and 'tree tops,' and 'berries,' and 'flowers,' and all the _inanimate_
beauties of the scene. It would be unjust to the _ingenuus pudor_ of the
author not to observe the art with which he has veiled this ticklish
interview behind such luxuriant trellis-work, and it is obvious that it
is for our special sakes he has entered into these local details,
because if there was one thing which 'mother Ida' knew better than
another, it must have been her own bushes and brakes. We then have in
detail the tempting speeches of, first--

              'The imperial Olympian,
    With arched eyebrow smiling sovranly,
    Full-eyed Here;'

secondly of Pallas--

              'Her clear and bared limbs
    O'er-thwarted with the brazen-headed spear,'

and thirdly--

              'Idalian Aphrodite ocean-born,
    Fresh as the foam, new-bathed in Paphian _wells_--'

for one dip, or even three dips in one well, would not have been enough
on such an occasion--and her succinct and prevailing promise of--

    'The fairest and most loving _wife_ in Greece;'--

upon evil-hearted Paris's catching at which prize, the tender and chaste
Oenone exclaims her indignation, that she herself should not be
considered fair enough, since only yesterday her charms had struck awe
into--

              'A wild and wanton pard,
    Eyed like the evening-star, with playful tail--'

and proceeds in this anti-Martineau rapture--

              '_Most_ loving is _she_?'
    'Ah me! my mountain shepherd, that my arms
    Were wound about thee, and my hot lips prest
    Close--close to thine in that quick-falling dew
    Of _fruitful_ kisses ...
    Dear mother Ida! hearken ere I die!--p. 62.

After such reiterated assurances that she was about to die on the spot,
it appears that Oenone thought better of it, and the poem concludes
with her taking the wiser course of going to town to consult her swain's
sister, Cassandra--whose advice, we presume, prevailed upon her to live,
as we can, from other sources, assure our readers she did to a good old
age.

In the 'Hesperides' our author, with great judgment, rejects the common
fable, which attributes to Hercules the slaying of the dragon and the
plunder of the golden fruit. Nay, he supposes them to have existed to a
comparatively recent period--namely, the voyage of Hanno, on the coarse
canvas of whose log-book Mr. Tennyson has judiciously embroidered the
Hesperian romance. The poem opens with a geographical description of the
neighbourhood, which must be very clear and satisfactory to the English
reader; indeed, it leaves far behind in accuracy of topography and
melody of rhythm the heroics of Dionysius _Periegetes_.

    'The north wind fall'n, in the new-starred night.'

Here we must pause to observe a new species of _metabole_ with which Mr.
Tennyson has enriched our language. He suppresses the E in _fallen_,
where it is usually written and where it must be pronounced, and
transfers it to the word _new-starred_, where it would not be
pronounced if he did not take due care to superfix a _grave_ accent.
This use of the grave accent is, as our readers may have already
perceived, so habitual with Mr. Tennyson, and is so obvious an
improvement, that we really wonder how the language has hitherto done
without it. We are tempted to suggest, that if analogy to the accented
languages is to be thought of, it is rather the acute ([']) than the
grave ([`]) which should be employed on such occasions; but we speak
with profound diffidence; and as Mr. Tennyson is the inventor of the
system, we shall bow with respect to whatever his final determination
may be.

    'The north wind fall'n, in the new-starred night
    Zidonian Hanno, voyaging beyond
    The hoary promontory of Soloe,
    Past Thymiaterion in calmed bays.'

We must here note specially the musical flow of this last line, which is
the more creditable to Mr. Tennyson, because it was before the tuneless
names of this very neighbourhood that the learned continuator of
Dionysius retreated in despair--

    ----[Greek: eponymias nyn ellachen allas
    Aithiopon gain, dysphonous oud' epierons
    Mousais ouneka tasd' ego ouk agoreusom' apasas.]

but Mr. Tennyson is bolder and happier--

    'Past Thymiaterion in calmed bays,
    Between the southern and the western Horn,
    Heard neither'--

We pause for a moment to consider what a sea-captain might have expected
to hear, by night, in the Atlantic ocean--he heard

    --'neither the warbling of the _nightingale_
    Nor melody o' the Libyan lotusflute,'

but he did hear the three daughters of Hesper singing the following
song:--

    'The golden apple, the golden apple, the hallowed fruit,
    Guard it well, guard it warily,
    Singing airily,
    Standing about the charmed root,
    Round about all is mute'--

_mute_, though they sung so loud as to be heard some leagues out at
sea--

      ----'all is mute
    As the snow-field on mountain peaks,
    As the sand-field at the mountain foot.
    Crocodiles in briny creeks
    Sleep, and stir not: all is mute.'

How admirably do these lines describe the peculiarities of this charmed
neighbourhood--fields of snow, so talkative when they happen to lie at
the foot of the mountain, are quite out of breath when they get to the
top, and the sand, so noisy on the summit of a hill, is dumb at its
foot. The very crocodiles, too, are _mute_--not dumb but _mute_. The
'red-combed dragon curl'd' is next introduced--

    'Look to him, father, lest he wink, and the golden apple be stolen
        away,
    For his ancient heart is drunk with overwatchings night and day,
    Sing away, sing aloud evermore, in the wind, without stop.'

The north wind, it appears, has by this time awaked again--

    'Lest his scaled eyelid drop,
    For he is older than the world'--

older than the _hills_, besides not rhyming to 'curl'd,' would hardly
have been a sufficiently venerable phrase for this most harmonious of
lyrics. It proceeds--

    'If ye sing not, if ye make false measure,
    We shall lose eternal pleasure,
    Worth eternal want of rest.
    Laugh not loudly: watch the treasure
    Of the wisdom of the west.
    In _a corner_ wisdom whispers. Five and three
    (_Let it not be preached abroad_) make an awful mystery.'--p. 102.

This recipe for keeping a secret, by singing it so loud as to be heard
for miles, is almost the only point, in all Mr. Tennyson's poems, in
which we can trace the remotest approach to anything like what other men
have written, but it certainly does remind us of the 'chorus of
conspirators' in the Rovers.

Hanno, however, who understood no language but Punic--(the Hesperides
sang, we presume, either in Greek or in English)--appears to have kept
on his way without taking any notice of the song, for the poem
concludes,--

    'The apple of gold hangs over the sea,
    Five links, a gold chain, are we,
    Hesper, the Dragon, and sisters three;
    Daughters three,
    Bound about
    All around about
    The gnarled bole of the charmed tree,
    The golden apple, the golden apple, the hallowed fruit,
    Guard it well, guard it warily,
    Watch it warily,
    Singing airily
    Standing about the charmed root.'--p. 107.

We hardly think that, if Hanno had translated it into Punic, the song
would have been more intelligible.

The 'Lotuseaters'--a kind of classical opium-eaters--are Ulysses and his
crew. They land on the 'charmed island,' and 'eat of the charmed root,'
and then they sing--

    'Long enough the winedark wave our weary bark did carry.
    This is lovelier and sweeter,
    Men of Ithaca, this is meeter,
    In the hollow rosy vale to tarry,
    Like a dreamy Lotuseater--a delicious Lotuseater!
    We will eat the Lotus, sweet
    As the yellow honeycomb;
    In the valley some, and some
    On the ancient heights divine,
    And no more roam,
    On the loud hoar foam,
    To the melancholy home,
    At the limits of the brine,
    The little isle of Ithaca, beneath the day's decline.'--p. 116.

Our readers will, we think, agree that this is admirably characteristic,
and that the singers of this song must have made pretty free with the
intoxicating fruit. How they got home you must read in Homer:--Mr.
Tennyson--himself, we presume, a dreamy lotus-eater, a delicious
lotus-eater--leaves them in full song.

Next comes another class of poems,--Visions. The first is the 'Palace of
Art,' or a fine house, in which the poet _dreams_ that he sees a very
fine collection of well-known pictures. An ordinary versifier would, no
doubt, have followed the old routine, and dully described himself as
walking into the Louvre, or Buckingham Palace, and there seeing certain
masterpieces of painting:--a true poet dreams it. We have not room to
hang many of these _chefs-d'oeuvre_, but for a few we must find
space.--'The Madonna'--

    'The maid mother by a crucifix,
      In yellow pastures sunny warm,
    Beneath branch work of costly sardonyx
      Sat smiling--_babe in arm_.'--p. 72.

The use of the latter, apparently, colloquial phrase is a deep stroke of
art. The form of expression is always used to express an habitual and
characteristic action. A knight is described '_lance in rest_'--a
dragoon, '_sword in hand_'--so, as the idea of the Virgin is inseparably
connected with her child, Mr. Tennyson reverently describes her
conventional position--'_babe in arm_.'

His gallery of illustrious portraits is thus admirably arranged:--The
Madonna--Ganymede--St. Cecilia--Europa--Deep-haired
Milton--Shakspeare--Grim Dante--Michael Angelo--Luther--Lord
Bacon--Cervantes--Calderon--King David--'the Halicarnassean' (_quaere_,
which of them?)--Alfred, (not Alfred Tennyson, though no doubt in any
other man's gallery _he_ would have a place) and finally--

    'Isaiah, with fierce Ezekiel,
      Swarth Moses by the Coptic sea,
    Plato, _Petrarca_, Livy, and Raphael,
      And eastern Confutzee!'

We can hardly suspect the very original mind of Mr. Tennyson to have
harboured any recollections of that celebrated Doric idyll, 'The groves
of Blarney,' but certainly there is a strong likeness between Mr.
Tennyson's list of pictures and the Blarney collection of statutes--

    'Statues growing that noble place in,
      All heathen goddesses most rare,
    Homer, Plutarch, and Nebuchadnezzar,
      All standing naked in the open air!'

In this poem we first observed a stroke of art (repeated afterwards)
which we think very ingenious. No one who has ever written verse but
must have felt the pain of erasing some happy line, some striking
stanza, which, however excellent in itself, did not exactly suit the
place for which it was destined. How curiously does an author mould and
remould the plastic verse in order to fit in the favourite thought; and
when he finds that he cannot introduce it, as Corporal Trim says, _any
how_, with what reluctance does he at last reject the intractable, but
still cherished offspring of his brain! Mr. Tennyson manages this
delicate matter in a new and better way; he says, with great candour and
simplicity, 'If this poem were not already too long, _I should have
added_ the following stanzas,' and _then he adds them_, (p. 84;)--or,
'the following lines are manifestly superfluous, as a part of the text,
but they may be allowed to stand as a separate poem,' (p. 121,) _which
they do_;--or, 'I intended to have added something on statuary, but I
found it very difficult;'--(he had, moreover, as we have seen, been
anticipated in this line by the Blarney poet)--'but I have finished the
statues of _Elijah_ and _Olympias_--judge whether I have succeeded,' (p.
73)--and then we have these two statues. This is certainly the most
ingenious device that has ever come under our observation, for
reconciling the rigour of criticism with the indulgence of parental
partiality. It is economical too, and to the reader profitable, as by
these means

    'We lose no drop of the immortal man.'

The other vision is 'A Dream of Fair Women,' in which the heroines of
all ages--some, indeed, that belong to the times of 'heathen goddesses
most rare'--pass before his view. We have not time to notice them all,
but the second, whom we take to be Iphigenia, touches the heart with a
stroke of nature more powerful than even the veil that the Grecian
painter threw over the head of her father.

      ----'dimly I could descry
    The stern blackbearded kings with wolfish eyes,
      Watching to see me die.

    The tall masts quivered as they lay afloat;
      The temples, and the people, and the shore;
    One drew a sharp knife through my tender throat--
      Slowly,--and _nothing more_!'

What touching simplicity--what pathetic resignation--he cut my
throat--'_nothing more_!' One might indeed ask, 'what _more_' she would
have?

But we must hasten on; and to tranquillize the reader's mind after this
last affecting scene, shall notice the only two pieces of a lighter
strain which the volume affords. The first is elegant and playful; it is
a description of the author's study, which he affectionately calls his
_Darling Room_.

    'O darling room, my heart's delight;
    Dear room, the apple of my sight;
    With thy two couches, soft and white,
    There is no room so exquis_ite_;
    No little room so warm and bright,
    Wherein to read, wherein to write.'

We entreat our readers to note how, even in this little trifle, the
singular taste and genius of Mr. Tennyson break forth. In such a dear
_little_ room a narrow-minded scribbler would have been content with
_one_ sofa, and that one he would probably have covered with black
mohair, or red cloth, or a good striped chintz; how infinitely more
characteristic is white dimity!--'tis as it were a type of the purity of
the poet's mind. He proceeds--

    'For I the Nonnenwerth have seen,
    And Oberwinter's vineyards green,
    Musical Lurlei; and between
    The hills to Bingen I have been,
    Bingen in Darmstadt, where the _Rhene_
    Curves toward Mentz, a woody scene.

    'Yet never did there meet my sight,
    In any town, to left or right,
    A little room so exquis_ite_,
    With _two_ such couches soft and white;
    Nor any room so warm and bright,
    Wherein to read, wherein to write.'--p. 153.

A common poet would have said that he had been in London or in Paris--in
the loveliest villa on the banks of the Thames, or the most gorgeous
chateau on the Loire--that he has reclined in Madame de Stael's boudoir,
and mused in Mr. Roger's comfortable study; but the _darling room_ of
the poet of nature (which we must suppose to be endued with sensibility,
or he would not have addressed it) would not be flattered with such
common-place comparisons;--no, no, but it is something to have it said
that there is no such room in the ruins of the Drachenfels, in the
vineyard of Oberwinter, or even in the rapids of the _Rhene_, under the
Lurleyberg. We have ourselves visited all these celebrated spots, and
can testify in corroboration of Mr. Tennyson, that we did not see in any
of them anything like _this little room so exquis_ITE.

The second of the lighter pieces, and the last with which we shall
delight our readers, is a severe retaliation on the editor of the
Edinburgh Magazine, who, it seems, had not treated the first volume of
Mr. Tennyson with the same respect that we have, we trust, evinced for
the second.

      'To CHRISTOPHER NORTH.
    You did late review my lays,
      Crusty Christopher;
    You did mingle blame and praise
      Rusty Christopher.

    When I learnt from whom it came
    I forgave you all the blame,
      Musty Christopher;
    I could _not_ forgive the praise,
      Fusty Christopher.'--p. 153.

Was there ever anything so genteelly turned--so terse--so sharp--and the
point so stinging and _so true_?

    'I could not forgive the _praise_,
      Fusty Christopher!'

This leads us to observe on a phenomenon which we have frequently seen,
but never been able to explain. It has been occasionally our painful lot
to excite the displeasure of authors whom we have reviewed, and who have
vented their dissatisfaction, some in prose, some in verse, and some in
what we could not distinctly say whether it was verse or prose; but we
have invariably found that the common formula of retort was that adopted
by Mr. Tennyson against his northern critic, namely, that the author
would always

      --Forgive us all the _blame_,
    But could _not_ forgive the _praise_.

Now this seems very surprising. It has sometimes, though we regret to
say rarely, happened, that, as in the present instance, we have been
able to deal out unqualified praise, but never found that the dose in
this case disagreed with the most squeamish stomach; on the contrary,
the patient has always seemed exceedingly comfortable after he had
swallowed it. He has been known to take the 'Review' home and keep his
wife from a ball, and his children from bed, till he could administer it
to them, by reading the article aloud. He has even been heard to
recommend the 'Review' to his acquaintance at the clubs, as the best
number which has yet appeared, and one, who happened to be an M.P. as
well as an author, gave a _conditional_ order, that in case his last
work should be favourably noticed, a dozen copies should be sent down by
the mail to the borough of ----. But, on the other hand, when it has
happened that the general course of our criticism has been unfavourable,
if by accident we happened to introduce the smallest spice of _praise_,
the patient immediately fell into paroxysms--declaring that the part
which we foolishly thought might offend him had, on the contrary, given
him pleasure--positive pleasure, but _that_ which he could not possibly
either forget or forgive, was the grain of praise, be it ever so small,
which we had dropped in, and for which, and _not for our censure_, he
felt constrained, in honour and conscience, to visit us with his extreme
indignation. Can any reader or writer inform us how it is that praise in
the wholesale is so very agreeable to the very same stomach that rejects
it with disgust and loathing, when it is scantily administered; and
above all, can they tell us why it is, that the indignation and nausea
should be in the exact inverse ratio to the quantity of the ingredient?
These effects, of which we could quote several cases much more violent
than Mr. Tennyson's, puzzle us exceedingly; but a learned friend, whom
we have consulted, has, though he could not account for the phenomenon,
pointed out what he thought an analogous case. It is related of Mr.
Alderman Faulkner, of convivial memory, that one night when he expected
his guests to sit late and try the strength of his claret and his head,
he took the precaution of placing in his wine-glass a strawberry, which
his doctor, he said, had recommended to him on account of its cooling
qualities: on the faith of this specific, he drank even more deeply,
and, as might be expected, was carried away at an earlier period and in
rather a worse state, than was usual with him. When some of his friends
condoled with him next day, and attributed his misfortune to six bottles
of claret which he had imbibed, the Alderman was extremely
indignant--'the claret,' he said, 'was sound, and never could do any man
any harm--his discomfiture was altogether caused by that damned single
strawberry' which he had kept all night at the bottom of his
glass.--_The Quarterly Review_.

[Footnote O: See Quarterly Review, vol. XIX, p. 204.]

[Footnote P: The same Camelot, in Somersetshire, we presume, which is
alluded to by Kent in 'King Lear'--

    'Goose! if I had thee upon Sarum plain,
    I'd drive thee cackling home to Camelot.'
]


_The Princess; a Medley_. By Alfred Tennyson. Moxon.

That we are behind most even of our heaviest and slowest contemporaries
in the notice of this volume, is a fact for which we cannot
satisfactorily account to ourselves, and can therefore hardly hope to be
able to make a valid excuse to our readers. The truth is, that whenever
we turned to it we became, like the needle between positive and negative
electric poles, so attracted and repelled, that we vibrated too much to
settle to any fixed condition. Vacillation prevented criticism, and we
had to try the experiment again and again before we could arrive at the
necessary equipose to indicate the right direction of taste and opinion.
We will now, however, note our variations, and leave them to the public
judgment.

The first lines of the prologue were repulsive, as a specimen of the
poorest Wordsworth manner and style--

    "Sir Walter Vivian all a summer's day
    Gave his broad lawns until the set of sun
    Up to his people: thither flock'd at noon
    His tenants, wife and child, and thither half
    The neighbouring borough with their Institute
    Of which he was the patron. I was there
    From college, visiting the son,--the son
    A Walter too,--with others of our set."

The "wife and child" of the tenants is hardly intelligible; and the
"set" is but a dubious expression. Nor can we clearly comprehend the
next line and a half--

    "And me that morning Walter show'd the house,
    Greek, set with busts:"

Does this mean that Sir Walter Vivian inhabited a Greek house, and that
the college "set" were guests in that dwelling "set with busts"? To say
the least, this is inelegant, and the affectations proceed--

                        "From vases in the hall
    _Flowers of all heavens, and lovelier than their names_,
    Grew side by side."

Persons conversant with the botanical names of flowers will hardly be
able to realize (as the Yankees have it) the idea of their loveliness;
the loveliness of Hippuris, Dolichos, Syngenesia, Cheiranthus,
Artocarpus, Arum dracunculus, Ampelopsis hederaca, Hexandria, Monogynea,
and the rest.

A good description of the demi-scientific sports of the Institute
follows; but the house company and inmates retire to a ruined abbey:--

              "High-arch'd and ivy-claspt,
    Of finest Gothic, lighter than a fire."

This is a curious jumble in company, two lights of altogether a
different nature; but the party get into a rattling conversation, in
which the noisy babble of the College Cubs is satirically characterized:
we

                                          "Told
    Of college: he had climb'd across the spikes,
    And he had squeez'd himself betwixt the bars,
    And he had breathed the Proctor's dogs; and one
    Discuss'd his tutor, rough to common men
    But honeying at the whisper of a lord;
    And one the Master, as a rogue in grain
    Veneer'd with sanctimonious theory."

The dialogue happily takes a turn, and the task of writing the
_Princess_ is assigned to the author, as one of the tales in the
Decameron of Boccaccio. A neighbouring princess of the south (so the
story runs as the prince tells it) is in childhood betrothed to a like
childish prince of the north:--

                  "She to me
    Was proxy-wedded with a _bootless calf_ [?]
    At eight years old."

Both grew up, the prince, all imaginative, filling his mind with
pictures of her perfections; but she turning a female reformer of the
Wolstencroft [_sic_] school, resolved never to wed till woman was raised
to an equality with men, and establishing a strange female colony and
college to carry this vast design into effect. In consequence of this
her father is obliged to violate the contract, and his indignant father
prepares for war to enforce it. The prince, with two companions, flies
to the south, to try what he can do for himself; and in the disguise of
ladies they obtain admission to the guarded precincts of the new
Amazonian league. He, meanwhile, sings sweetly of his mistress--

    "And still I wore her picture by my heart,
    And one dark tress; and all around them both
    Sweet thoughts would swarm as bees about their queen."

And of his friend--

                    "My other heart,
    My shadow, my half-self, for still we moved
    Together, kin as horse's ear and eye."

His evasion is also finely told--

      "But when the council broke, I rose and past
    Through the wild woods that hang about the town;
    Found a still place, and pluck'd her likeness out:
    Laid it on flowers, and watch'd it lying bathed
    In the green gleam of dewy-tassell'd trees:
    What were those fancies? wherefore break her troth?
    Proud look'd the lips: but while I meditated
    A wind arose and rush'd upon the South,
    And shook the songs, the whispers, and the shrieks
    Of the wild woods together; and a Voice
    Went with it 'Follow, follow, thou shalt win!'"

Almost in juxtaposition with these beauties, we find one of the
disagreeable blots, so offensive to good taste, which disfigure the
poem. The travellers are interrogating the host of an inn close to the
liberties where the princess holds her petticoated sway:--

                      "And at the last--
    The summer of the vine in all his veins--
    'No doubt that we might make it worth his while.
    For him, he reverenced his liege-lady there;
    He always made a point to post with mares;
    His daughter and his housemaid were the boys.
    The land, he understood, for miles about
    Was till'd by women; all the swine were sows,
    And all the dogs'"--

This is too bad, even for medley; but proceed we into the interior of
the grand and luxurious feminine institution, where their sex is
speedily discovered, but for certain reasons concealed by the
discoverers. Lectures on the past and what might be done to accomplish
female equality, and description of the boundaries, the dwelling place,
and the dwellers therein, fill many a page of mingled excellence and
defects. Here is a sample of both in half a dozen lines:--

                          "We saw
    The Lady Blanche's daughter where she stood,
    Melissa, with her hand upon the lock,
    A rosy blonde, and in a college gown
    _That clad her like an April daffodilly_
    (Her mother's colour) with her lips apart,
    And all her thoughts as fair within her eyes,
    _As bottom agates seem to wave and float
    In crystal currents of clear morning seas_."

Curious contradictions in mere terms, also occasionally occur. Thus, of
a frightened girl, we are told that--

                              "_Light_
    As flies the _shadow_ of a bird she fled."

Events move on. The prince reasons as a man in a colloquy with the
princess, and speaks of the delights of maternal affections, and she
replies--

              "We are not talk'd to thus:
    Yet will we say for children, would they grew
    Like field-flowers everywhere! we like them well:
    But children die; and let me tell you, girl,
    Howe'er you babble, great deeds cannot die:
    They with the sun and moon renew their light
    Forever, blessing those that look on them:
    Children--that men may pluck them from our hearts,
    Kill us with pity, break us with ourselves--
    O--children--there is nothing upon earth
    More miserable than she that has a son
    And sees him err:"

A song on "The days that are no more," seems to us to be too laboured,
nor is the other lyric introduced, "The Swallow," much more to our
satisfaction. It is a mixture of prettinesses: the first four triplets
run thus, ending in a poetic beauty--

    "O Swallow, Swallow, flying, flying South,
    Fly to her, and fall upon her gilded eaves,
    And tell her, tell her what I tell to thee.

    "O tell her, Swallow, thou that knowest each,
    That bright and fierce and fickle is the South,
    And _dark_ and true and tender is the North.

    "O Swallow, Swallow, if I could follow, and light
    Upon her lattice, I would pipe and trill,
    And _cheep and twitter twenty million loves_.

    "O were I thou that she might take me in,
    And lay me on her bosom, _and her heart
    Would rock the snowy cradle till I died_."

The prince saves the princess from being drowned, when the secret
explodes like a roll of gun cotton, and a grand turmoil ensues. The
rival kings approach to confines in battle array, and the princess
resumes the declaration of war:--

                              "A tide of fierce
    Invective seem'd to wait behind her lips,
    As waits a river level with the dam
    Ready to burst and flood the world with foam:
    And so she would have spoken, but there rose
    A hubbub in the court of half the maids
    Gather'd together; from the illumin'd hall
    Long lanes of splendour slanted o'er a press
    Of snowy shoulders, thick as herded ewes,
    And rainbow robes, and gems and gemlike eyes,
    And gold and golden heads; they to and fro
    Fluctuated, as flowers in storm, some red, same pale,
    All open-mouth'd, all gazing to the light,
    Some crying there was an army in the land,
    And some that men were in the very walls,
    And some they cared not; till a clamour grew
    As of a new-world Babel, woman-built,
    And worse-confounded: high above them stood
    The placid marble Muses, looking peace."

She denounces the perils outside and in--

                                    "I dare
    All these male thunderbolts: what is it ye fear?
    Peace! there are those to avenge us and they come:
    If not,--myself were like enough, O girls,
    To unfurl the maiden banner of our rights,
    And clad in iron burst the ranks of war,
    Or, falling, protomartyr of our cause,
    Die: yet I blame ye not so much for fear;
    Six thousand years of fear have made ye that
    From which I would redeem ye: but for those
    That stir this hubbub--you and you--I know
    Your faces there in the crowd--to-morrow morn
    We meet to elect new tutors; then shall they
    That love their voices more than duty, learn
    With whom they deal, dismiss'd in shame to live
    No wiser than their mothers, household stuff,
    Live chattels, mincers of each other's fame,
    Full of weak poison, turnspits for the clown,
    The drunkard's football, laughing-stocks of Time,
    Whose brains are in their hands and in their heels,
    But fit to flaunt, to dress, to dance, to thrum,
    To tramp, to scream, to burnish, and to scour
    For ever slaves at home and fools abroad."

Ay, just as Shakspere hath it--

    "To suckle fools and chronicle small beer."

The hero also meets the shock, at least in poetic grace:--

                        "Upon my spirits
    Settled a gentle cloud of melancholy,
    Which I shook off, for I was young, and one
    To whom the shadow of all mischance but came
    As night to him that sitting on a hill
    Sees the midsummer, midnight, Norway sun,
    Set into sunrise."

It is agreed to decide the contest by a combat of fifty on each
side--the one led by the prince, and the other by Arac, the brother of
the princess. And clad in "harness"--

              "Issued in the sun that now
    Leapt from the dewy shoulders of the Earth,
    And hit the northern hills."

To the fight--

    "Then rode we with the old king across the lawns
    Beneath huge trees, a thousand rings of Spring
    In every bole, a song on every spray
    Of birds that piped their Valentines."

The prince and his companions are defeated; and he, wounded almost to
the death, is consigned at her own request to be nursed by the
princess:--

    "So was their sanctuary violated,
    So their fair college turn'd to hospital;
    At first with all confusion; by and by
    Sweet order lived again with other laws;
    A kindlier influence reign'd; and everywhere
    Low voices with the ministering hand
    Hung round the sick."

The result may be foreseen--

    "From all a closer interest flourish'd up.
    Tenderness touch by touch, and last, to these,
    Love, like an Alpine harebell hung with tears
    By some cold morning glacier; frail at first
    And feeble, all unconscious of itself,
    But such as gather'd colour day by day."

And the agreement is filled up:--

                "Dear, but let us type them now
    In our lives, and this proud watchword rest
    Of equal; seeing either sex alone
    Is half itself, and in true marriage lies
    Nor equal, nor unequal: each fulfils
    Defect in each, and always thought in thought,
    Purpose in purpose, will in will, they grow,
    The single pure and perfect animal,
    The two-cell'd heart beating with one full stroke
    Life"

              "O we will walk this world,
    Yoked in all exercise of noble end,
    And so through those dark gates across the wild
    That no man knows. Indeed I love thee; come,
    Yield thyself up; my hopes and thine are one;
    Accomplish thou my manhood and thyself
    Lay thy sweet hands in mine and trust to me."

Who will question the true poetry of this production, or who will deny
the imperfections, (mostly of affectation, though some of tastelessness)
which obscure it? Who will wonder at our confessed wavering when they
have read this course of alternate power, occasionally extravagant, and
feebleness as in the long account of the _emeute_? Of the extravagant,
the description of the princess, on receiving the declaration of war, is
an example:--

                    "She read, till over brow
    And cheek and bosom brake the wrathful bloom
    As of some fire against a stormy cloud,
    When the wild peasant rights himself, and the rick
    Flames, and his anger reddens in the heavens."

The heroine, it must be acknowledged, is much of the virago throughout,
and the prince rather of the softest; but the tale could not be
otherwise told. We add four examples--two to be admired, and two to be
contemned, in the fulfilment of our critique.

    "For was, and is, and will be, are but is,"

is a noble line; and the following, on the promised restoration of a
child to its mother, is very touching--

    "Again she veiled her brows, and prone she sank, and so
    Like tender things that being caught feign death,
    Spoke not, nor stirr'd."

Not so the burlesque eight daughters of the plough, the brawny ministers
of the princess' executive, and their usage of a herald. They were--

    "Eight daughters of the plough, stronger than men,
    Huge women blowzed with health, and wind, and rain
    And labour. Each was like a Druid rock;
    Or like a spire of land that stands apart
    Cleft from the main, and clang'd about with mews."

And they--

    "Came sallying through the gates, and caught his hair,
    And so belabour'd him on rib and cheek
    They made him wild."

Nor the following--

    "When the man wants weight the woman takes it up,
    And topples down the scales; but this is fixt
    As are the roots of earth and base of all.
    Man for the field and woman for the hearth;
    Man for the sword and for the needle she;
    Man with the head and woman with the heart;
    Man to command and woman to obey;
    All else confusion. Look to it; the gray mare
    Is ill to live with, when her whinny shrills
    From tile to scullery, and her small goodman
    Shrinks in his arm-chair while the fires of Hell
    Mix with his hearth; but take and break her, you!
    She's yet a colt. Well groom'd and strongly curb'd
    She might not rank with those detestable
    That to the hireling leave their babe, and brawl
    Their rights or wrongs like potherbs in the street.
    They say she's comely; there's the fairer chance:
    _I_ like her none the less for rating at her!
    Besides, the woman wed is not as we,
    But suffers change of frame. A lusty brace
    Of twins may weed her of her folly. Boy,
    The bearing and the training of a child
    Is woman's wisdom."

--_The Literary Gazette_.




ROBERT BROWNING


_Paracelsus_. By Robert Browning.

There is talent in this dramatic poem, (in which is attempted a picture
of the mind of this celebrated character,) but it is dreamy and obscure.
Writers would do well to remember, (by way of example,) that though it
is not difficult to imitate the mysticism and vagueness of Shelley, we
love him and have taken him to our hearts as a poet, not _because_ of
these characteristics--but _in spite_ of them.--_The Athenaeum_.


_Sordello_. By Robert Browning. London: Moxon. 1840.

The scene of this poem is laid in Italy, when the Ghibelline and Guelph
factions were in hottest contest. The author's style is rather peculiar,
there being affectations of language and invertions of thought, and
other causes of obscurity in the course of the story which detract from
the pleasure of perusing it. But after all, we are much mistaken if Mr.
Browning does not prove himself a poet of a right stamp,--original,
vigorous, and finely inspired. He appears to us to possess a true sense
of the dignity and sacredness of the poet's kingdom; and his imagination
wings its way with a boldness, freedom and scope, as if he felt himself
at home in that sphere, and was resolved to put his allegiance to the
test.--_The Monthly Review_.


_Men and Women_. By Robert Browning. Two Volumes. Chapman and Hall.

It is really high time that this sort of thing should, if possible, be
stopped. Here is another book of madness and mysticism--another
melancholy specimen of power wantonly wasted, and talent deliberately
perverted--another act of self-prostration before that demon of bad
taste who now seems to hold in absolute possession the fashionable
masters of our ideal literature. It is a strong case for the
correctional justice of criticism, which has too long abdicated its
proper functions. The Della Crusca of Sentimentalism perished under the
_Baviad_--is there to be no future Gifford for the Della Crusca of
Transcendentalism? The thing has really grown to a lamentable head
amongst us. The contagion has affected not only our sciolists and our
versifiers, but those whom, in the absence of a mightier race, we must
be content to accept as the poets of our age. Here is Robert Browning,
for instance--no one can doubt that he is capable of better things--no
one, while deploring the obscurities that deface the _Paracelsus_ and
the _Dramatic Lyrics_, can deny the less questionable qualities which
characterized those remarkable poems--but can any of his devotees be
found to uphold his present elaborate experiment on the patience of the
public? Take any of his worshippers you please--let him be "well up" in
the transcendental poets of the day--take him fresh from Alexander
Smith, or Alfred Tennyson's _Maud_, or the _Mystic_ of Bailey--and we
will engage to find him at least ten passages in the first ten pages of
_Men and Women_, some of which, even after profound study, he will not
be able to construe at all, and not one of which he will be able to
read off at sight. Let us take one or two selections at random from the
first volume, and try. What, for instance, is the meaning of these four
stanzas from the poem entitled "By the Fireside"?--

    My perfect wife, my Leonor,
      Oh, heart my own, oh, eyes, mine too,
    Whom else could I dare look backward for,
      With whom beside should I dare pursue
    The path grey heads abhor?

    For it leads to a crag's sheer edge with them;
      Youth, flowery all the way, there stops--
    Not they; age threatens and they contemn,
      Till they reach the gulf wherein youth drops,
    One inch from our life's safe hem!

    With me, youth led--I will speak now,
      No longer watch you as you sit
    Reading by fire-light, that great brow
      And the spirit-small hand propping it
    Mutely--my heart knows how--

    When, if I think but deep enough,
      You are wont to answer, prompt as rhyme;
    And you, too, find without a rebuff
      The response your soul seeks many a time
    Piercing its fine flesh-stuff--

We really should think highly of the powers of any interpreter who could
"pierce" the obscurity of such "stuff" as this. One extract more and we
have done. A gold medal in the department of Hermeneutical Science to
the ingenious individual, who, after any length of study, can succeed in
unriddling this tremendous passage from "Master Hugues of Saxe-Gotha,"
the organist:--

    First you deliver your phrase
      --Nothing propound, that I see,
    Fit in itself for much blame or much praise--
      Answered no less, where no answer needs be:
    Off start the Two on their ways!

    Straight must a Third interpose,
      Volunteer needlessly help--
    In strikes a Fourth, a Fifth thrusts in his nose,
      So the cry's open, the kennel's a-yelp,
    Argument's hot to the close!

    One disertates, he is candid--
      Two must dicept,--has distinguished!
    Three helps the couple, if ever yet man did:
      Four protests, Five makes a dart at the thing wished--
    Back to One, goes the case bandied!

    One says his say with a difference--
      More of expounding, explaining!
    All now is wrangle, abuse, and vociferance--
      Now there's a truce, all's subdued, self-restraining--
    Five, though, stands out all the stiffer hence.

    One is incisive, corrosive--
      Two retorts, nettled, curt, crepitant--
    Three makes rejoinder, expansive, explosive--
      Four overbears them all, strident and strepitant--
    Five ... O Danaides, O Sieve!

    Now, they ply axes and crowbars--
      Now they prick pins at a tissue
    Fine as a skein of the casuist Escobar's
      Worked on the bone of a lie. To what issue?
    Where is our gain at the Two-bars?

    _Est fuga, volvitur rota!_
      On we drift. Where looms the dim port?
    One, Two, Three, Four, Five, contribute their quota--
      Something is gained, if one caught but the import--
    Show it us, Hugues of Saxe-Gotha!

    What [with] affirming, denying,
      Holding, risposting, subjoining,
    All's like ... it's like ... for an instance I'm trying ...
      There! See our roof, its gilt moulding and groining
    Under those spider-webs lying?

    So your fugue broadens and thickens,
      Greatens and deepens and lengthens,
    Till one exclaims--"But where's music, the dickens?
      Blot ye the gold, while your spider-web strengthens,
    Blacked to the stoutest of tickens?"

Do our readers exclaim, "But where's poetry--the dickens--in all this
rigmarole?" We confess we can find none--we can find nothing but a set
purpose to be obscure, and an idiot captivity to the jingle of
Hudibrastic rhyme. This idle weakness really appears to be at the bottom
of half the daring nonsense in this most daringly nonsensical book.
Hudibras Butler told us long ago that "rhyme the rudder is of verses;"
and when, as in his case, or in that of Ingoldsby Barham, or
Whims-and-Oddities Hood, the rudder guides the good ship into tracks of
fun and fancy she might otherwise have missed, we are grateful to the
double-endings, not on their own account, but for what they have led us
to. But Mr. Browning is the mere thrall of his own rudder, and is
constantly being steered by it into whirlpools of the most raging
absurdity. This morbid passion for double rhymes, which is observable
more or less throughout the book, reaches its climax in a long copy of
verses on the "Old Pictures of Florence," which, with every disposition
to be tolerant of the frailties of genius, we cannot hesitate to
pronounce a masterpiece of absurdity. Let the lovers of the Hudibrastic
admire these _tours de force_:--

    Not that I expect the great Bigordi
      Nor Sandro to hear me, chivalric, bellicose;
    Nor wronged Lippino--and not a word I
      Say of a scrap of Fra Angelico's.
    But you are too fine, Taddeo Gaddi,
      So grant me a taste of your intonaco--
    Some Jerome that seeks the heaven with a sad eye?
      No churlish saint, Lorenzo Monaco?

        *    *    *    *    *    *    *

    Margheritone of Arezzo,
      With the grave-clothes garb and swaddling barret,
    (Why purse up mouth and beak in a pet so,
      You bald, saturnine, poll-clawed parrot?)
    No poor glimmering Crucifixion,
      Where in the foreground kneels the donor?
    If such remain, as is my conviction,
      The hoarding does you but little honour.

The conclusion of this poem rises to a climax:--

    How shall we prologuise, how shall we perorate,
      Say fit things upon art and history--
    Set truth at blood-heat and the false at zero rate,
      Make of the want of the age no mystery!
    Contrast the fructuous and sterile eras,
      Show, monarchy its uncouth cub licks
    Out of the bear's shape to the chimaera's--
      Pure Art's birth being still the republic's!

    Then one shall propose (in a speech, curt Tuscan,
      Sober, expurgate, spare of an "_issimo_,")
    Ending our half-told tale of Cambuscan,
      Turning the Bell-tower's altaltissimo.
    And fine as the beak of a young beccaccia
      The Campanile, the Duomo's fit ally,
    Soars up in gold its full fifty braccia,
      Completing Florence, as Florence, Italy.

How really deplorable is all this! On what theory of art can it possibly
be defended? In all the fine arts alike--poetry, painting, sculpture,
music--the master works have this in common, that they please in the
highest degree the most cultivated, and to the widest extent the less
cultivated. _Lear_ and the _Divine Comedy_ exhaust the thinking of the
profoundest student, yet subdue to hushed and breathless attention the
illiterate minds that know not what study means. The "Last Judgment,"
the "Transfiguration," the "Niobe," and the "Dying Gladiator" excite
alike the intelligent rapture of artists, and the unintelligent
admiration of those to whom art and its principles are a sealed book.
Handel's _Israel in Egypt_--the wonder of the scientific musician in his
closet--yet sways to and fro, like a mighty wind upon the waters, the
hearts of assembled thousands at an Exeter Hall oratorio. To take an
instance more striking still, Beethoven, the sublime, the rugged, the
austere, is also, as even Mons. Jullien could tell us, fast becoming a
popular favourite. Now why is this? Simply because these master minds,
under the divine teaching of genius, have known how to clothe their
works in a beauty of form incorporate with their very essence--a beauty
of form which has an elective affinity with the highest instincts of
universal humanity. And it is on this beauty of form, this exquisite
perfection of style, that the Baileys and the Brownings would have us
believe that they set small account, that they purposely and scornfully
trample. We do not believe it. We believe that it is only because they
are half-gifted that they are but half-intelligible. Their mysticism is
weakness--weakness writhing itself into contortions that it may ape the
muscles of strength. Artistic genius, in its higher degrees, necessarily
involves the power of beautiful self-expression. It is but a weak and
watery sun that allows the fogs to hang heavy between the objects on
which it shines and the eyes it would enlighten; the true day-star
chases the mists at once, and shows us the world at a glance.

Our main object has been to protest against what we feel to be the false
teachings of a perverted school of art; and we have used this book of
Mr. Browning's chiefly as a means of showing the extravagant lengths of
absurdity to which the tenets of that school can lead a man of admitted
powers. We should regret, however in the pursuit of this object to
inflict injustice on Mr. Browning. This last book of his, like most of
its predecessors, contains some undeniable beauties--subtle thoughts,
graceful fancies, and occasionally a strain of music, which only makes
the chaos of surrounding discords jar more harshly on the ear. The
dramatic scenes "In a Balcony" are finely conceived and vigorously
written; "Bishop Blougram's Apology," and "Cleon," are well worth
reading and thinking over; and there is a certain grace and beauty in
several of the minor poems. That which, on the whole, has pleased us
most--really, perhaps, because we could read it off-hand--is "The Statue
and the Bust," of which we give the opening stanzas:--

[Quotes fourteen stanzas of _The Statue and the Bust_.]

Why should a man, who, with so little apparent labour, can write
naturally and well, take so much apparent labour to write affectedly and
ill? There can be but one of two solutions. Either he goes wrong from
want of knowledge, in which case it is clear that he wants the highest
intuitions of genius; or he sins against knowledge, in which case he
must have been misled by the false promptings of a morbid vanity, eager
for that applause of fools which always waits on quackery, and which is
never refused to extravagance when tricked out in the guise of
originality. It is difficult, from the internal evidence supplied by
his works, to know which of these two theories to adopt. Frequently the
conclusion is almost irresistible, that Mr. Browning's mysticism must be
of _malice prepense_: on the whole, however, we are inclined to clear
his honesty at the expense of his powers, and to conclude that he is
obscure, not so much because he has the vanity to be thought original,
as because he lacks sufficient genius to make himself clear.--_The
Saturday Review_.




NOTES


THOMAS GRAY

When Gray's _Elegy Written in a Country Church-Yard_ appeared in 1751,
the _Monthly Rev._, IV, p. 309, gave it the following curious
notice:--"The excellence of this little piece amply compensates for its
want of quantity." The immediate success and popularity of the _Elegy_
established Gray's poetical reputation; hence his _Odes_ (1757) were
received and criticized as the work of a poet of whom something entirely
different was expected. The thin quarto volume containing _The Progress
of Poesy_ and _The Bard_ (entitled merely Ode I and Ode II in that
edition) was printed for Dodsley by Horace Walpole at Strawberry Hill,
and was published on August 8, 1757. Within a fortnight Gray wrote to
Thomas Warton that the poems were not at all popular, the great
objection being their obscurity; a week later he wrote to Hurd:--"Even
my friends tell me they [the Odes] do not succeed ... in short, I have
heard nobody but a player [Garrick] and a doctor of divinity [Warburton]
that profess their esteem for them." For further comment, see Gray's
_Works_, ed. Gosse, II, pp. 321-328.

Our review, which is reprinted from _Monthly Rev._, XVII (239-243)
(September, 1757), was written by Oliver Goldsmith, and is included in
most of the collected editions of his works. Although it was practically
wrung from Goldsmith while he was the unwilling thrall of Griffiths, it
is a noteworthy piece of criticism for its time--certainly far superior
to the general standard of the _Monthly Review_. While recognizing the
scholarly merit of the poet's work, Goldsmith showed clearly why the
Odes could not become popular. A more favorable notice of the volume
appeared in the _Critical Rev._, IV, p. 167.

In reprinting this review, the long quotations from both odes have been
omitted. This precedent is followed in all cases where the quotations
are of inordinate length, or are offered merely as "specimens" without
specific criticism. No useful end would be served in reprinting numerous
pages of classic extracts that are readily accessible to every student.
All omissions are, of course, properly indicated.

1. _Quinault_. Philippe Quinault (1635-1688), a popular French dramatist
and librettist.

2. _Mark'd for her own_. An allusion to the line in the Epitaph appended
to the _Elegy_: "And Melancholy marked him for her own."


OLIVER GOLDSMITH

Goldsmith's _Traveller_ (1764) was begun as early as 1755--before he had
expressed what Professor Dowden calls his "qualified enthusiasm" and
"official admiration" for Gray's _Odes_. In criticizing Gray, he quoted
Isocrates' advice--_Study the people_--and properly bore that precept in
mind while he was shaping his own verses. The _Odes_ and the _Traveller_
are respectively characteristic utterances of their authors--of the
academic recluse, and of the warm-hearted lover of humanity.

The review, quoted from the _Critical Rev._, XVIII (458-462) (December,
1764), is from the pen of Dr. Samuel Johnson. Apart from its
distinguished authorship and the strong words of commendation in the
final sentence, it possesses slight interest as literary criticism. It
is, in fact, little more than a brief summary of the poem, enriched by a
few well-chosen illustrative extracts. The fact that Johnson contributed
nine or ten lines to the poem (see Boswell, ed. Hill, I, p. 441, n. 1,
and II, p. 6) may account partly for the character of the review.
Johnson's quotations from the poem are not continuous and show several
variations from authoritative texts.


WILLIAM COWPER

Cowper stands almost alone among English poets as an instance of late
manifestation of poetic power. He was over fifty years of age when he
offered his first volume of _Poems_ (1782) to the public. This
collection, which included _Table-Talk_ and other didactic poems,
appeared at the beginning of the most prosaic age in the history of
modern English literature; yet the critics did not find it sufficiently
striking in quality to differentiate it from the level of contemporary
verse, or to forecast the success of _The Task_ and _John Gilpin's Ride_
three years later.

The notice in the _Critical Rev._, LIII (287-290), appeared in April,
1782. While the same poems are but slightly esteemed to-day, it must be
recognized that the attitude of the reviewer was severe for his time.
The age had grown accustomed to large draughts of moralizing and
didacticism in verse, and the quality of Cowper's contribution was
assuredly above the average. The _Monthly Rev._, LXVII, p. 262, gave the
_Poems_ a much more favorable reception.

10. _Non Dii, non homines, etc._ Properly, _non homines, non di_,
Horace, _Ars Poetica_, l. 373.

10. _Caraccioli_. _Jouissance de soi-meme_ (ed. 1762), cap. xii.

11. _There needs no ghost, etc._ See _Hamlet_, I, 5. 110.


ROBERT BURNS

The Kilmarnock edition (1786) of Burns' _Poems_ was published during the
most eventful period of the poet's life; the almost universally kind
reception accorded to this volume was the one source of consolation amid
many sorrows and distractions. Two reviews have been selected to
illustrate both the Scottish and English attitude toward the newly
discovered "ploughman-poet." The _Edinburgh Magazine_, IV (284-288), in
October, 1786, gave Burns a welcome that was hearty and sincere; though
we may smile to-day at the information that he has neither the "doric
simplicity" of Ramsay, nor the "brilliant imagination" of Ferguson.
Besides the poems mentioned in brackets, the magazine published further
extracts from Burns in subsequent numbers. The _Critical Review_, LXIII
(387-388), gave the volume a belated notice in May, 1787, exceeding even
the Scotch magazine in its generous appreciation. With the generally
accepted fact in mind that all of Burns' enduring work is in the
Scottish dialect, and that his English poems are comparatively inferior,
it is interesting to note the _Critical Review's_ regret that the
dialect must "obscure the native beauties" and be often unintelligible
to English readers. The same sentiment was expressed by the _Monthly
Review_, LXXV, p. 439, in the critique reprinted (without its curious
anglified version of _The Cotter's Saturday Night_) in Stevenson's
_Early Reviews_.

There is perhaps no other English poet whose fame was so suddenly and
securely established as Burns'. At no time since the appearance of the
Kilmarnock volume has the worth of his lyrical achievement been
seriously questioned. The _Reliques_ of Burns, edited by Dr. Cromek in
1808, were reviewed by Walter Scott in the first number of the
_Quarterly Review_, and by Jeffrey in the corresponding number of the
_Edinburgh_. Both articles are valuable to the student of Burns, but
their great length made their inclusion in the present volume
impracticable.

14. _Rusticus abnormis sapiens, etc._ Horace, Sat. II, l. 3.

15. _A great lady ... and celebrated professor_. Evidently Mrs. Dunlop
and Professor Dugald Stewart, who both took great interest in Burns
after the appearance of the Kilmarnock volume.


WILLIAM WORDSWORTH

The thin quartos containing _An Evening Walk_ and _Descriptive Sketches_
were published by Wordsworth in 1793. The former was practically a
school-composition in verse, written between 1787-89 and dedicated to
his sister; the latter was composed in France during 1791-92 and was
revised shortly before publication. The dedication was addressed to the
Rev. Robert Jones, fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge, who was
Wordsworth's companion during the pedestrian tour in the Alps. Though
_An Evening Walk_ was published first, the _Monthly Review_, XII, n.s.
(216-218), in October, 1793, noticed both in the same issue and
naturally gave precedence to the longer poem. Specific allusions in the
text necessitate the same order in the present reprint.

The impatience of the reviewer at the prospect of "more descriptive
poetry" was due to the fact that many such productions had recently been
noticed by the _Monthly_, and that the volumes then under consideration
evidently belonged to the broad stream of mediocre verse that had been
flowing soberly along almost since the days of Thomson. These first
attempts smacked so decidedly of the older manner that we cannot censure
the critic for failing to foresee that Wordsworth was destined to
glorify the "poetry of nature," and to rescue it from the rut of
listless and soporific topographical description. Both poems, in the
definitive text, are readable, and exhibit here and there a glimmer of
the poet's future greatness; yet it must be borne in mind that
Wordsworth was continually tinkering at his verse, to the subsequent
despair of conscientious variorum editors, and that most of the
absurdities and infelicities in his first editions disappeared under the
correcting influence of his sarcastic critics and his own maturing
taste.

A collation of the accepted text with the _Monthly Review's_ quotations
will repay the student; thus, the twelve opening lines quoted by the
reviewer are represented by eight lines in Professor Knight's edition,
and only four of these correspond to the original text. The reviewer
confined his remarks to the first thirty lines of the poem and very
properly neglected the rest. He followed, with moderate success, the
method of quotation with interpolated sarcasm and badinage--a method
that was afterwards effectively pursued by the early Edinburgh Reviewers
and the Blackwood coterie. There are few examples of that style in the
eighteenth century reviews, but some noteworthy specimens of a later
period--_e.g._, the _Edinburgh Review_ on Coleridge's _Christabel_ and
the _Quarterly_ on Tennyson's _Poems_--are reprinted in this volume.

The review of _An Evening Walk_ is simply an appended paragraph to the
previous article. Wordsworth evidently appreciated the advice conveyed
in the reviewer's final sentence and found many of the lines that
"called loudly for amendment." More favorable notices of both poems will
be found in _Critical Review_, VIII, pp. 347 and 472.


_Lyrical Ballads_

The _Lyrical Ballads_ by Wordsworth and Coleridge were published
anonymously early in September, 1798--a few days before the joint
authors sailed for Germany. Coleridge's contributions were _The Rime of
the Ancient Mariner_, _The Foster-Mother's Tale_, _The Nightingale_, and
_The Dungeon_; the remaining nineteen poems were by Wordsworth. As the
publication of this volume has been accepted by most critics as the
first fruit of the new romantic spirit and the virtual beginning of
modern English poetry, the reception accorded to the _Lyrical Ballads_
becomes a matter of prime importance. It is well known that the effort
was a failure at first and that the apparent triumph of romanticism did
not occur until the publication of Scott's _Lay of the Last Minstrel_
(1805); but a contemporary blindness to the beauty of two of the finest
poems in English literature cannot be permitted to figure in the
critics' dispassionate investigation of causes and influences.

There were four interesting reviews of the first edition of the _Lyrical
Ballads_, namely, (1) _Critical Rev._, XXIV, n.s. (197-204), in October,
1798, which is reprinted here; (2) _Analytical Rev._, XXVIII (583-587),
in December, 1798; (3) _Monthly Rev._, XXIX, n.s. (202-210), in May,
1799, reprinted in Stevenson's _Early Reviews_; (4) _British Critic_,
XIV (364-369) in October, 1799.

The article in the _Critical Review_ was written by Robert Southey under
conditions most favorable for such a malicious procedure. The publisher,
his friend Cottle, had transferred the copyright of the _Lyrical
Ballads_ to Arch, a London publisher, within two weeks of the appearance
of the volume, giving as a shallow excuse the "heavy sale" of the book.
Both Wordsworth and Coleridge were in Germany. Southey had quarreled
with Coleridge, and was probably jealous of the latter's extravagant
praise of Wordsworth. He accordingly seized the opportunity to assail
the work without injuring Cottle's interests or entailing the immediate
displeasure of the travelling bards.

He covered his tracks to some extent by referring several times to "the
author," although the joint authorship was well known to him. While
severe in most of his strictures on Wordsworth, Southey reserved his
special malice for _The Ancient Mariner_. He called it "a Dutch attempt
at German sublimity"; and in a letter written to William Taylor on
September 5, 1798--probably while he was writing his discreditable
critique--he characterized the poem as "the clumsiest attempt at German
sublimity I ever saw." Southey's responsibility for the article became
known to Cottle, who communicated the fact to the poets on their return
a year later. Wordsworth declared that "if Southey could not
conscientiously have spoken differently of the volume, he ought to have
declined the task of reviewing it." Coleridge indited an epigram, _To a
Critic_, and let the matter drop. Shortly afterwards he showed his
renewed good-will by aiding Southey in preparing the second _Annual
Anthology_ (1800).

The subsequent reviews of the _Lyrical Ballads_ adopted the tone of the
_Critical_ (then recognized as the leading review) and internal evidence
shows that they did not hesitate to borrow ideas from Southey's article.
The _Analytical Review_ also saw German extravagances in _The Ancient
Mariner_; the _Monthly_ borrowed Southey's figure of the Italian and
Flemish painters, and called _The Ancient Mariner_ "the strangest story
of a cock and bull that we ever saw on paper ... a rhapsody of
unintelligible wildness and incoherence." The belated review in the
_British Critic_ was probably written by Coleridge's friend, Rev.
Francis Wrangham, and was somewhat more appreciative than the rest. For
further details, consult Mr. Thomas Hutchinson's reprint (1898) of the
_Lyrical Ballads_, pp. (xiii-xxviii). Despite the unfavorable reviews,
the Ballads reached a fourth edition in 1805 (besides an American
edition in 1802), thus achieving the popularity alluded to by Jeffrey at
the beginning of our next review.


_Poems_ (1807)

Wordsworth's fourth publication, the _Poems_ (1807), included most of
the pieces written after the first appearance of the _Lyrical Ballads_.
It was likewise his first venture subsequent to the founding of the
_Edinburgh Review_. Jeffrey had assailed the theories of the "Lake
Poets" (and, incidentally, coined that unfortunate term) in the first
number of the _Review_, in an article on Southey's _Thalaba_, and three
years later (1805), in criticizing _Madoc_, he again expressed his views
on the subject. Now came the first opportunity to deal with the
recognized leader of the "Lakers"--the poet whose work most clearly
illustrated the poetic theories that Jeffrey deemed pernicious.

The article here reprinted from the _Edinburgh Rev._, XI (214-231), of
October, 1807, and Jeffrey's review of _The Excursion_, in _ibid._, XXIV
(1-30), are perhaps the two most important critiques of their kind. No
student of Wordsworth's theory of poetry, as set forth in his various
prefaces, can afford to ignore either of these interesting discussions
of the subject. (For details, see A.J. George's edition of the
_Prefaces_ of Wordsworth, Gates' _Selections_ from Jeffrey, Beers'
_Nineteenth Century Romanticism_, Hutchinson's edition of _Lyrical
Ballads_, etc.) It was undoubtedly true that Jeffrey, although an able
critic, failed to grasp the real significance of the new poetic
movement, and to appreciate the influence wrought by the doctrines of
the Lake Poets on modern conceptions of poetry. Yet he was far from
wrong in many of his criticisms of Wordsworth. While deprecating the
latter's theories, it is clear that Jeffrey regarded him as a poet of
great power who was being led astray by his perverse practice. The
popular conception of Jeffrey as a hectoring and blatant opponent of
Wordsworth is not substantiated by the review. The impartial reader must
agree with Jeffrey at many points, and if he will take the trouble to
collate Jeffrey's quotations with the revised text of Wordsworth, he
will learn that the poet did not disdain to take an occasional
suggestion for the improvement of his verse.

We recognize Wordsworth to-day as the most unequal of English poets.
There is little that is common to the inspired bard of _Tintern Abbey_,
the _Immortality Ode_ and the nobler _Sonnets_, and the unsophisticated
scribe of _Peter Bell_ and _The Idiot Boy_. Like Browning, he wrote too
much to write well at all times, and if both poets were capable of the
sublimest flights, they likewise descended to unimagined depths; but the
fault of Wordsworth was perhaps the greater, because his bathos was the
result of a deliberate and persistent attempt to enrich English poetry
with prosaically versified incidents drawn at length from homely rural
life.


SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE

The first part of Coleridge's _Christabel_ was written in 1797 during
the brief period of inspiration that also gave us _The Ancient Mariner_
and _Kubla Khan_--in short, that small group of exquisite poems which in
themselves suffice to place Coleridge in the front rank of English
poets. The second part was written in 1800, after the author's return
from Germany. The fragment circulated widely in manuscript among
literary men, bewitched Scott and Byron into imitating its fascinating
rhythms, and, at Byron's suggestion, was finally published by Murray in
1816 with _Kubla Khan_ and _The Pains of Sleep_. It is probable that the
high esteem in which these poems were held by Coleridge's literary
friends led him to expect a favorable reception at the hands of the
critics; hence his keen disappointment at the general tone of their
sarcastic analysis and their protests against the absurdity and
obscurity of the poems. The principal critiques on _Christabel_
were:--(1) _Edinburgh Rev._, XXVII (58-67), which is here reprinted; (2)
_Monthly Rev._, LXXXII, n.s. (22-25), reprinted in Stevenson's _Early
Reviews_; (3) _The Literary Panorama_, IV, n.s. (561-565); and (4)
_Anti-Jacobin Rev._, L (632-636).

It is evident that Coleridge was eminently successful in the gentle art
of making enemies. We have seen that Southey's attack on the _Lyrical
Ballads_ was a direct result of his ill-will toward Coleridge; the
outrageous article in the _Edinburgh Review_ was written by William
Hazlitt under similar inspiration, and was followed by abusive papers in
_The Examiner_ (1816, p. 743, and 1817, p. 236). There was no
justification for Hazlitt, and none has been attempted by his
biographers. Judged by its intrinsic merits, the Edinburgh article is
one of the most absurd reviews ever written by a critic of recognized
ability. Hazlitt followed the method of outlining the story by quotation
with interspersed sarcasm and ironical criticism. As a coarse boor might
crumple a delicate and beautifully wrought fabric to prove that it has
not the wearing qualities of a blacksmith's apron, Hazlitt seized upon
the ethereal story of _Christabel_, with its wealth of mediaeval and
romantic imagery, and held up to ridicule the incidents that did not
conform to modern English conceptions of life. It requires no great art
to produce such a critique; the same method was applied to _Christabel_
with hardly less success by the anonymous hack of the _Anti-Jacobin_.
Whatever may have been Hazlitt's motives, we cannot understand how a
critic of his unquestioned ability could quote with ridicule some of the
very finest lines of _Kubla Khan_, and expect his readers to concur with
his opinion. The lack of taste was more apparent because he quoted, with
qualified praise, six lines of no extraordinary merit from _Christabel_
and insisted, that with this one exception, there was not a couplet in
the whole poem that achieved the standard of a newspaper poetry-corner
or the effusions scratched by peripatetic bards on inn-windows. An
interesting discussion between Mr. Thomas Hutchinson and Col. Prideaux
concerning Hazlitt's responsibility for this and other critiques on
Coleridge in the _Edinburgh Review_ will be found in _Notes and Queries_
(Ninth Series), X, pp. 388, 429; XI, 170, 269.

The other reviews of _Christabel_ were all unfavorable. Most extravagant
was the utterance of the _Monthly Magazine_, XLVI, p. 407, in 1818, when
it declared that the "poem of Christabel is only fit for the inmates of
Bedlam. We are not acquainted in the history of literature with so great
an insult offered to the public understanding as the publication of that
r[h]apsody of delirium."

Hazlitt's primitive remarks on the metre of _Christabel_ are of little
interest. Coleridge was, of course, wrong in stating that his metre was
founded on a new principle. The irregularly four-stressed line occurs in
Spenser's _Shepherd's Calender_ and can be traced back through the
halting tetrameters of Skelton. Coleridge himself alludes to this fact
in his note to his poem _The Raven_, and elsewhere.

Coleridge's earlier poetical publications were received with commonplace
critiques usually mildly favorable. For reviews of his _Poems_ (1796)
see _Monthly Rev._, XX, n.s., p. 194; _Analytical Rev._, XXIII, p. 610;
_British Critic_, VII, p. 549; and _Critical Rev._, XVII, n.s., p. 209;
the second edition of _Poems_ (1797) is noticed in _Critical Rev._,
XXIII, n.s., p. 266; for _Lyrical Ballads_, see under Wordsworth; for
the successful play _Remorse_ (1813), see _Monthly Rev._, LXXI, n.s., p.
82, and _Quarterly Rev._, XI, p. 177.


ROBERT SOUTHEY

_Madoc_, a ponderous quarto of over five hundred pages and issued at two
guineas, was published by Southey in 1805 as the second of that
long-forgotten series of interminable epics including _Thalaba_, _The
Curse of Kehama_, and _Roderick, Last of the Goths_. These huge unformed
productions were not poems, but metrical tales, written in a kind of
verse that could have flowed indefinitely from the author's pen. In
short, Southey was not a poet, and the whole bulk of his efforts in
verse, with but one or two exceptions, seems destined to oblivion. As
poet-laureate for thirty years and the associate of Wordsworth and
Coleridge in the "Lake School," Southey will, however, remain a figure
of some importance in the history of English poetry.

The review of _Madoc_ reprinted from the _Monthly Rev._, XLVIII
(113-122) for October, 1805, was written in the old style then fast
giving way to the sprightlier methods of the _Edinburgh_. Here we find a
style abounding in literary allusions and classical quotations, and
evincing a generally patronizing attitude toward the author under
discussion. Most readers will agree with the sentiments expressed by the
reviewer, who succeeded in making his article interesting without
descending to the depths of buffoonery. No apology is necessary for the
excision of the reviewer's unreasonably long extracts from the poem.
_Madoc_ was also reviewed at great length in the _Edinburgh Review_ by
Francis Jeffrey.

61. _Ille ego, qui quondam, etc._ The lines usually prefixed to the
_AEneid_.

61. _Prorumpere in medias res_. Cf. Horace, _Ars Poetica_, l. 148.

61. _Macklin's Tragedy_. _Henry VII_ (1746), his only tragedy, and a
failure.

61. _Toto carere possum_. Cf. Martial, _Epig._ XI, 56.

61. _Camoens_. The author of the Portuguese _Lusiad_ (1572) which
narrates the adventures of Vasco da Gama.

62. _Milton_. Quoted from Sonnet XI.--_On the Detraction which followed
upon my writing certain Treatises_.

63. _Snatching a grace, etc._ Pope's _Essay on Criticism_, l. 153.


CHARLES LAMB

Most of Lamb's earlier poetical productions appeared in conjunction with
the work of other poets. Four of his sonnets were printed with
Coleridge's _Poems on Various Subjects_ (1796), and he was more fully
represented in _Poems by S.T. Coleridge. Second Edition_. _To which are
now added Poems by Charles Lamb and Charles Lloyd_ (1797). In the
following year appeared _Blank Verse_, by Charles Lloyd and Charles
Lamb. For new and interesting material concerning the three poets, see
E.V. Lucas' _Charles Lamb and the Lloyds_ (1899). Lloyd (1775-1839)
wrote melancholy verses and a sentimental, epistolary novel _Edmund
Oliver_, but nothing of permanent value. However, in 1798, he was almost
as well known as Coleridge, and was hailed in some quarters as a
promising poet.

The _Monthly Rev._, XXVII, n.s. (104-105), in September, 1798, published
the critique of _Blank Verse_ which is here reprinted. Its principal
interest lies in the scant attention shown to Lamb, although the volume
contained his best poem--the tender _Old Familiar Faces_. Dr. Johnson's
characterization of blank-verse as "poetry to the eye" will be found at
the end of his _Life of Milton_ as a quotation from "an ingenious
critic."

Lamb's drama, _John Woodvil_ (1802), written in imitation of later
Elizabethan models, was a failure. It was unfavorably noticed in the
_Monthly Rev._, XL, n.s., p. 442 and at greater length in the _Edinburgh
Rev._, II, p. 90 ff.

Many years later (1830) Lamb prepared his collection of _Album-Verses_
at the request of his friend Edward Moxon, who had achieved some fame as
a poet and was enabled (by the generous aid of Samuel Rogers) to begin
his more lucrative career as a publisher. Three years after the
appearance of _Album-Verses_, he married Lamb's adopted daughter, Emma
Isola. The _Album-Verses_, like most of their kind, were a collection of
small value; the _Literary Gazette_, 1830 (441-442), consequently lost
no time in assailing them. The _Athenaeum_, 1830, p. 435, at that time
the bitter rival of the _Gazette_, published a more favorable review,
and a few weeks later (p. 491) printed Southey's verses, _To Charles
Lamb, on the Reviewal of his Album-Verses in the Literary Gazette_,
together with a sharp commentary on the methods of the _Gazette_.
Several times during that year the _Athenaeum_ assailed the system of
private puffery which was followed by the _Gazette_ and eventually
caused its downfall. There is a reply to the _Athenaeum_ in the _Literary
Gazette_, 1833, p. 772.


WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR

Landor was twenty-three when he published _Gebir_ anonymously in
1798--the year of the _Lyrical Ballads_--and he lived until 1864. The
nine decades of his life covered an important period of literature. He
was nine years old when the great Johnson died, yet he lived to see the
best poetic achievements of Tennyson, Browning, and Arnold. However, he
did not live to see _Gebir_ a popular poem. Southey gave it a favorable
welcome in the _Critical Review_, and became a life-long admirer of
Landor; but our brief notices reprinted from the _Monthly Rev._, XXXI,
n.s., p. 206, and _British Critic_, XV, p. 190 of February, 1800,
represent more nearly the popular verdict. Both reviewers complain of
the obscurity of the poem, which, it will be remembered, had been
originally written in Latin, then translated and abridged.
Notwithstanding the fact that Landor declared himself amply repaid by
the praise of a few appreciative readers, he prepared a violent and
scornful reply to the _Monthly Review_, and would have published it but
for the sensible dissuasion of a friend. Some interesting extracts from
the letter are printed in Forster's _Life of Landor_, pp. (76-85). He
protested especially against the imputed plagiarisms from Milton and
gave ample evidence of the pugnacious spirit that brought him into
difficulties several times during his life. See also the _Imaginary
Conversation_ between Archdeacon Hare and Walter Landor, wherein the
reception of _Gebir_ is discussed and Southey's poetry is praised at the
expense of Wordsworth's. Landor's first publication, the _Poems_ (1795)
was noticed in the _Monthly Rev._, XXI, n.s., p. 253.


SIR WALTER SCOTT

The successful series of metrical tales which Scott inaugurated with the
_Lay of the Last Minstrel_ (1805) had for its second member the more
elaborate _Marmion_ (1808). From the first, Scott's poems and romances
were favorably received by the reviews and usually noticed at great
length. There was always a story to outline and choice passages to
quote. As suggested in the Preface, these paeans of praise are of
comparatively little interest to the student, and need hardly be cited
here in detail.

The critique of _Marmion_, written by Jeffrey for the _Edinburgh Rev._,
XII (1-35), had the place of honor in the number for April, 1808. It was
chosen for the present reprints partly as a fitting example of Jeffrey's
fearlessness in expressing his opinions, and partly for its historic
interest as the article that contributed to Scott's rupture with the
Edinburghers and to his successful founding of a Tory rival in the
_Quarterly Review_. Although the article has here been abridged to about
half of its original length by the omission of six hundred quoted lines
and a synopsis of the poem, it is still the longest of these reprints.
Jeffrey evidently felt that a detailed account of the story was
necessary in order to justify his strictures on the plot.

An author of those days could afford to ignore the decisions of the
critical monthlies, but the brilliant criticism and incisive diction of
the _Edinburgh Review_ carried weight and exerted far-reaching
influence. Jeffrey's article was practically the only dissonant note in
the chorus of praise that greeted _Marmion_, and Scott probably resented
the critic's attitude. Lockhart, in his admirable chapter on the
publication of _Marmion_, admits that "Jeffrey acquitted himself on this
occasion in a manner highly creditable to his courageous sense of duty."
The April number of the _Edinburgh_ appeared shortly before a particular
day on which Jeffrey had engaged to dine with Scott. Fearing that under
the circumstances he might be an unwelcome guest, he sent the following
tactful note with the copy which was forwarded to the poet:--

"Dear Scott,--If I did not give you credit for more magnanimity than any
other of your irritable tribe, I should scarcely venture to put this
into your hands. As it is, I do it with no little solicitude, and
earnestly hope that it will make no difference in the friendship which
has hitherto subsisted between us. I have spoken of your poem exactly as
I think, and though I cannot reasonably suppose that you will be pleased
with everything I have said, it would mortify me very severely to
believe I had given you pain. If you have any amity left for me, you
will not delay very long to tell me so. In the meantime, I am very
sincerely yours, F. Jeffrey."

There was but one course open to Scott; accordingly to Lockhart, "he
assured Mr. Jeffrey that the article had not disturbed his digestion,
though he hoped neither his booksellers nor the public would agree with
the opinions it expressed, and begged he would come to dinner at the
hour previously appointed. Mr. Jeffrey appeared accordingly, and was
received by his host with the frankest cordiality, but had the
mortification to observe that the mistress of the house, though
perfectly polite, was not quite so easy with him as usual. She, too,
behaved herself with exemplary civility during the dinner, but could not
help saying, in her broken English, when her guest was departing, 'Well,
good night, Mr. Jeffrey. Dey tell me you have abused Scott in de Review,
and I hope Mr. Constable has paid _you_ very well for writing it.'"

Jeffrey's article apparently had little influence on the sale of
_Marmion_, which reached eight editions (25,000 copies) in three years.
In October, 1808, the _Edinburgh Review_ published an appreciative
review of Scott's edition of Dryden, and afterwards received with favor
the later poems and the principal Waverley Novels.

78. _Mr. Thomas Inkle_. The story of Inkle and Yarico was related by
Steele in no. 11 of the _Spectator_. It was afterwards dramatized (1787)
by George Colman.


LORD BYRON

The twentieth number of the _Edinburgh Review_ contained Jeffrey's long
article on Wordsworth's _Poems_ (1807); the twenty-second contained his
review of Scott's _Marmion_; and the twenty-first (January, 1808)
contained a still more famous critique, long attributed to Jeffrey--the
review of Byron's _Hours of Idleness_ (1807). It is reprinted from
_Edinburgh Rev._, XI (285-289) in Stevenson's _Early Reviews_ and forms
Appendix II of R.E. Prothero's edition of Byron's _Letters and
Journals_. We know definitely that the article was written by Henry
Brougham. (See Prothero, op. cit., II, p. 397, and Sir M.E. Grant Duff's
_Notes from a Diary_, II, p. 189.)

It is hardly within the province of literary criticism to deal with
hypothetical conditions in authors' lives; but it is at least a matter
of some interest to conjecture whether Byron would have become a great
poet if this stinging review had not been published. It is evident that
the _Hours of Idleness_ gave few signs of promise, and the poet, fully
intent upon a political career, himself expressed his intention of
abandoning the muse. Many an educated Englishman has published such a
volume of _Juvenilia_ and sinned no more. But a nature like Byron's
could not overlook the effrontery of the _Edinburgh Review_. The
proud-spirited poet was evidently far more incensed by the patronizing
tone of the article than by its strictures: what could be more galling
than the reiterated references to the "noble minor," or the withering
contempt that characterized a particular poem as "the thing in page 79"?
Many years later, Byron wrote to Shelley:--"I recollect the effect on me
of the _Edinburgh_ on my first poem; it was rage, and resistance, and
redress--but not despondency nor despair." (Prothero, V, p. 267.)

There was method in Byron's "rage and resistance and redress." For more
than a year he labored upon a satire which he had begun even before the
appearance of the _Edinburgh_ article. (See letter of October 26, 1807,
in _Letters_, ed. Prothero, I, p. 147.) In the spring of 1809, _English
Bards and Scotch Reviewers_ was given anonymously to the world. The
publication of this vigorous satire virtually decided Byron's career.
Not only did he abuse Jeffrey, whom he believed responsible for the
offending critique, but he flung defiance in the face of almost all his
literary contemporaries. The authorship of the satire was soon apparent,
and in a flippant note to the second edition, Byron became still more
abusive toward Jeffrey and his "dirty pack," and declared that he was
ready to give satisfaction to all who sought it. A few years later he
regretted his rashness in assailing the authors of his time. He also
learned of the injustice done to Jeffrey and had ample reason to feel
embarrassed by the tone of the eight reviews of his poems that Jeffrey
did write for the _Edinburgh_. (See the list in Prothero, II, p. 248.)
In _Don Juan_ (canto X, xvi), he made the following retraction:--

    "And all our little feuds, at least all _mine_,
      Dear Jeffrey, once my most redoubted foe
    (As far as rhyme and criticism combine
      To make such puppets of us things below),
    Are over. Here's a health to 'Auld Lang Syne!'
      I do not know you, and may never know
    Your face--but you have acted, on the whole,
    Most nobly; and I own it from my soul."

The other reviews of _Hours of Idleness_ are of little interest. The
_Monthly_ and the _Critical_ both praised the book; the _Literary
Panorama_, III, p. 273, said the author was no imbecile, but an
incautious writer.

98. [Greek: thelo legein],--Anacreon, Ode I. ([Greek: thelo legein
Atreidas, k. t. l.])

98. [Greek: mesonyktiois, poth' horais],--Anacreon, Ode III. ([Greek:
mesonyktiois poth' horais, k. t. l.])

100. _Sancho_,--Sancho Panza in _Don Quixote_. The proverb is of ancient
origin. See French, Latin, Italian and Spanish forms in Brewer's
_Dictionary of Phrase and Fable_.


_Childe Harold_

Shortly after the appearance of the second edition of _English Bards and
Scotch Reviewers_, Byron left England and travelled through the East, at
the same time leisurely composing the first two cantos of _Childe
Harold's Pilgrimage_. Their publication in 1812 placed him at the head
of the popular poets of the day. Henceforth the reviews gave extensive
notices to all his productions. (For references, see J.P. Anderson's
bibliography appended to Hon. Roden Noel's _Life of Byron_.) _Childe
Harold_ was reviewed in the _Edinburgh Rev._, XIX (466-477), by Jeffrey;
in the _Quarterly_, VII (180-200), by George Ellis; in the _British
Review_, III (275-302); and _Eclectic Review_, XV (630-641).

The article here reprinted from the _Christian Observer_, XI (376-386),
of June, 1812, is of special interest as an early protest from
conservative, religious circles against the immoral and irreverent tone
of Byron's poetry. As literary criticism, it is almost worthless, in
spite of the elaborate allusions and quotations with which the
critic--evidently a survivor of the old school--has interlarded his
remarks. Little can be said in defense of an article which insists that
the chief end of poetry is to be agreeably didactic and which (in 1812)
cites Southey as the greatest of living poets. However, it probably
represents the attitude of a large number of worthy people of the time,
who recognized that Byron had genius, and wished to see him exercise his
powers with due regard for the proprieties of civilized life. As
Byron's offences grew more flagrant in his later poems, the criticisms
in the conservative reviews became more vehement. For Byron's
controversy with the _British Review_, which he facetiously dubbed "my
grandmother's review" in _Don Juan_, see Prothero, IV, pp. (346-347),
and Appendix VII. The ninth Appendix to the same volume is Byron's
caustic reply to the brutal review of _Don Juan_ in _Blackwood's
Magazine_, V, p. 512 ff.

101. _Lion of the north_, Francis Jeffrey. The usual agnomen of Gustavus
Adolphus. Cf. Walter Scott, the "Wizard of the North."

105. _Faiery Queen will not often be read through_. Hume's _History of
England_, Appendix III.

106. _Qui, quid sit pulchrum_, etc. Horace, Epis. II (3-4).

106. _Rursum--quid virtus_, etc. Horace, Epis. II (17-18).

107. _Our sage serious Spenser, etc._ Milton's _Areopagitica_, _Works_,
ed. Mitford, IV, p. 412.

107. _Quinctilian_. See Quintilian, Book XII, Chap. I.

107. _Longinus_. _On the Sublime_, IX, XIII, etc.

108. _Restoration of Learning in the East_. A Cambridge prize poem
(1805) by Charles Grant, Lord Glenelg (1778-1866).

109. _Thersites_. See Shakespeare's _Troilus and Cressida_.

109. _Caliban_. See Shakespeare's _The Tempest_.

109. _Heraclitus_. The "weeping philosopher" (circa 500 B.C.).

109. _Zeno_. The founder (342-270 B.C.) of the Stoic School.

109. _Zoilus_. The ancient grammarian who assailed the works of Homer.
The epithet Homeromastix is sometimes applied to him.

113. _The philosophic Tully, etc._ See the concluding paragraph of
Cicero's _De Senectute_.


PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY

It is doubtful whether any other poet was so widely and so continuously
assailed in the reviews as Shelley. Circumstances have made certain
critiques on Byron, Keats, and others more widely known, but nowhere
else do we find the persistent stream of abuse that followed in the wake
of Shelley's publications. The _Blackwood_ articles were usually most
scathing, and those of the _Literary Gazette_ were not far behind.
Fortunately, the poet spent most of his time in Italy and thus remained
in ignorance of the great majority of these spiteful attacks in the
less important periodicals.

_Alastor_, which appeared in 1816, attracted comparatively little
attention. The tone of the brief notice reprinted from the _Monthly
Rev._, LXXIX, n.s., p. 433, shows that the poet was as yet unknown to
the critics. _Blackwood's Magazine_, VI (148-154), gave a longer and, on
the whole, more favorable account of the poem. In the same year, Leigh
Hunt published his _Story of Rimini_, most noteworthy for its graceful
rhythmical structure in the unrestricted couplets of Chaucer. This
departure from the polished heroics of Pope, which were ill-adapted to
narrative subjects in spite of his successful translation of Homer, was
hailed with delight by the younger poets. Shelley imitated the measure
in his _Julian_ and _Maddalo_, and Keats did likewise in _Lamia_ and
_Endymion_. Hunt was soon recognized by the critics as the leader of a
group of liberals whom they conveniently classified as the Cockney
School. Shelley's ill-treatment at the hands of the reviewers dates from
his association with this coterie. His _Revolt of Islam_ (1818) was
assailed by John Taylor Coleridge in the _Quarterly Review_, XXI
(460-471). _The Cenci_ was condemned as a horrible literary monstrosity
by the scandalized critics of the _Monthly Rev._, XCIV, n.s. (161-168);
the _Literary Gazette_, 1820 (209-10); and the _New Monthly Magazine_,
XIII (550-553). The review here reprinted from the _London Mag._, I
(401-405), is comparatively mild in its censure.

One would naturally suppose that the death of Keats would have ensured
at least a respectful consideration for Shelley's lament, _Adonais_
(1821); but the callous critics were by no means abashed. The outrageous
article in the _Literary Gazette_ of December 8, 1821, pp. (772-773), is
one of the unpardonable errors of literary criticism; but it sinks into
insignificance beside the brutal, unquotable review which _Blackwood's
Magazine_ permitted to appear in its pages. In the same year Shelley's
youthful poetical indiscretion, _Queen Mab_, which he himself called
"villainous trash," was published under circumstances beyond his
control, and forthwith the readers of the _Literary Gazette_ were
regaled with ten columns of foul abuse from the pen of a critic who
declared that he was driven almost speechless by the sentiments
expressed in the poem. Well could the heartless reviewer of _Adonais_
write:--"If criticism killed the disciples of that [the Cockney]
school, Shelley would not have been alive to write an elegy on another."

115. _Eye in a fine phrenzy rolling_. Shakespeare's _Midsummer-Night's
Dream_, V, 1, 12.

115. _Above this visible diurnal sphere_. Milton's _Paradise Lost_, Book
VII, 22.

116. _Parca quod satis est manu_. Horace, _Odes_, III, 16, 24.

116. _Lord Fanny_. A nickname bestowed upon Lord Hervey, an effeminate
noble of the time of George II.

117. _O! rus, quando ego te aspiciam_. Horace, _Satires_, II, 6, 60.

117. _Mordecai_. See Book of _Esther_, V, 13.

118. _Last of the Romans_. Mark Antony in Shakespeare's _Julius Caesar_,
III, 2, 194.

120. _Full fathom five_. Shakespeare's _The Tempest_, I, 2, 396.

126. _Ohe! jam satis est_. Horace, _Satires_, I, 5, 12-13.

126. _Tristram Shandy_. The excommunication is in vol. III, chap. XI.

133. _Put a girdle_, etc. See Shakespeare's _Midsummer-Night's Dream_,
II, 1, 175.


JOHN KEATS

The history of English poetry offers no more interesting case between
poet and critic than that of John Keats. The imputed influence of a
savage critique in hastening the death of the poet has given the
_Quarterly Review_ an unenviable notoriety which clings in spite of the
efforts of scholars to establish the truth. To many students, Keats,
_Endymion_, and _Quarterly_ are practically connotative terms; and this
is a direct result of the righteous but misguided indignation of
Shelley--misguided because his information was incomplete and the more
guilty party escaped, thus inflicting upon the _Quarterly_ the brunt of
the opprobrium of which far more than half should be accredited to
_Blackwood's Magazine_.

_Endymion_ was published in April, 1818. One of the publishers (Taylor
and Hessey) requested Gifford, then editor of the _Quarterly Review_, to
treat the poem with indulgence. This indiscreet move probably actuated
Gifford to provide a severe critique; at any rate, in the belated April
number of the _Quarterly_, XIX (204-208), which was not issued until
September, appeared the famous review. A persistent error, which has
crept into W.M. Rossetti's _Life of Keats_, into Anderson's
bibliography, and even into the article on Gifford in the _Dictionary of
National Biography_, attributes this article to Gifford himself; but it
is known to be the work of John Wilson Croker. (See the article on
Croker in _Dict. Nat. Biog._ From the article on John Murray (_ibid._)
we learn that Gifford was not wholly responsible for a single article in
the _Quarterly_.)

Meanwhile, _Blackwood's Magazine_, III (519-524) had made _Endymion_ the
text of its fourth infamous tirade against the Cockney School of Poetry.
The signature "Z" was appended to all the articles, but the critic's
identity has not yet been discovered. Leigh Hunt thought it was Walter
Scott, Haydon suspected the actor Terry, but it is more probable that
the honor belongs to John Gibson Lockhart. One account attributes the
entire series to Lockhart; another attributes the series to Wilson, but
holds Lockhart responsible for the _Endymion_ article. Mr. Andrew Lang,
in his _Life and Letters of Lockhart_, dismissed the matter by saying
that he did not know who wrote the article.

The _Quarterly_ critique was reprinted in Stevenson's _Early Reviews_,
in Rossetti's _Life of Keats_, in Buxton Forman's edition of Keats'
_Poetical Works_ (Appendix V) and elsewhere. From a critical point of
view, it is, as Forman terms it, a "curiously unimportant production."
The student will at once question its power to cause distress in the
mind of the poet; as for malignant severity, there are several reviews
among the present reprints that put the brief _Quarterly_ article to
shame. When we turn to what Swinburne calls the "obscener insolence" of
the _Blackwood_ article, we find an unrestrained torrent of abuse
against both Hunt and Keats that amply justified Landor's subsequent
allusions to the _Blackguard's Magazine_. The _Quarterly_ critique was
captious and ill-tempered; but the _Blackwood_ article was a personal
insult.

It is impossible to consider in detail the vexed question of the
influence which these reviews had upon Keats. In Mr. W.M. Rossetti's
_Life of Keats_, pp. (83-106) there is a full discussion of the evidence
on the subject. Within a few months after the appearance of the
articles, Keats wrote:--"Praise or blame has but a momentary effect on
the man whose love of beauty in the abstract makes him a severe critic
of his own works. My own domestic criticism has given me pain without
comparison beyond what _Blackwood_ or _The Quarterly_ could possibly
inflict." Some weeks later he wrote that the _Quarterly_ article had
only served to make him more prominent among bookmen. After some time
he expressed himself less confidently and deprecated the growing power
of the reviews, but there is no evidence that he fretted over the
critiques. Haydon tells us that Keats was morbid and silent for hours at
a time; but it is quite likely that the consciousness of his physical
affliction--hereditary consumption--was oppressing his mind. His death
occurred on February 23, 1821--about two and a half years after the
appearance of the _Endymion_ critiques.

Shelley had gone to Italy before the reviews were published. He heard of
the _Quarterly_ article, but knew nothing of _Blackwood's_ while writing
_Adonais_; hence in both poem and preface, the former review is charged
with having caused Keats' death. Shelley declared that Keats' agitation
over the review ended in the rupture of a blood vessel in the lungs with
an ensuing rapid consumption. These statements, which Shelley must have
had indirectly, have not been substantiated. We are forced to the
conclusion now generally accepted--that Keats, although sensitive to
personal ridicule, was superior to the stings of review criticism and
that the distressing events of the last year of his life were sufficient
to assure the early triumph of the inherent and unconquerable disease.

141. _Miss Baillie_. Joanna Baillie (1762-1851) authoress of numerous
forgotten plays and poems which enjoyed great popularity in their day.

142. _Land of Cockaigne_. Here means London, and refers specifically to
the Cockney poets. An old French poem on the _Land of Cockaigne_
described it as an ideal land of luxury and ease. The best authorities
do not accept Cockney as a derivative form. The Cockney School was
composed of Londoners of the middle-class, supposedly ill-bred and
imperfectly educated. The critics took special delight in dwelling upon
the humble origin of the Cockneys, their lack of university training,
and especially their dependence on translations for their knowledge of
the classics.

142. _When Leigh Hunt left prison_. Hunt had been imprisoned for libel
on the Prince Regent (1812).

146. _Vauxhall_. The Gardens were a favorite resort for Londoners early
in the eighteenth century and remained popular for a long time. See
Thackeray's _Vanity Fair_ (chap. VI). The implication in the present
passage is that the Cockney poet gets his ideas of nature from the
immediate vicinity of London.

147. _East of Temple-bar_. That is, living in the City of London.

150. _Young Sangrado_. An allusion to Doctor Sangrado, in Le Sage's _Gil
Blas_ (1715).


ALFRED LORD TENNYSON

Tennyson's first poetical efforts, which appeared in _Poems by Two
Brothers_ (1827) attracted little critical attention. His prize-poem,
_Timbuctoo_ (1829) received the interesting notice here reprinted from
the _Athenaeum_ (p. 456) of July 22, 1829. _Timbuctoo_ was printed in the
_Cambridge Chronicle_ (July 10, 1829); in the _Prolusiones Academicae_
(1829); and several times in _Cambridge Prize-Poems_. The use of heroic
metre in prize-poems was traditional; hence the award was an enviable
tribute to the blank-verse of _Timbuctoo_.

Tennyson's success was emphasized by the remarkable series of reviews
that greeted his earliest volumes of poems. The _Poems, chiefly Lyrical_
(1830) were welcomed by Sir John Bowring in the _Westminster Review_, by
Leigh Hunt in the _Tatler_, by Arthur Hallam in the _Englishman's
Magazine_, and by John Wilson in _Blackwood's Magazine_. The _Poems_
(1833) were reviewed by W.J. Fox in the _Monthly Repository_, and by
John Stuart Mill in the _Westminster Review_. This array of names was
indeed a tribute to the poet; but the unfavorable review, was, as usual,
most significant. The article written by Lockhart for the _Quarterly
Rev._, XLIX (81-97), has been characterized as "silly and brutal," but
it was neither. Tennyson's fame is secure; we can at least be just to
his early reviewer. It is true that the poet winced under the lash and
that ten years elapsed before his next volume of collected poems
appeared; but Canon Ainger is surely in error when he holds the
_Quarterly Review_ mainly responsible for this long silence. The rich
measure of praise elsewhere bestowed upon the volume would leave us no
alternative but the conclusion that Tennyson was childish enough to
maintain his silence for a decade because Lockhart took liberties with
his poems instead of joining the chorus of adulation. We know that there
were other and stronger reasons for Tennyson's silence and we also know
that the effect of Lockhart's article was decidedly salutary. When the
next collection of _Poems_ (1842) did appear, the shorter pieces
ridiculed by Lockhart were omitted, and the derided passages in the
longer poems were altered.

We may, without conscientious scruples, take Mr. Andrew Lang's advice,
and enjoy a laugh over Lockhart's performance. Its mock appreciations
are, perhaps, far-fetched at times; but there are enough effective
passages to give zest to the article. It has been said in all
seriousness that Lockhart failed to appreciate the beauty of most of
Tennyson's lines, and that he confined his remarks to the most
assailable passages. Surely, when a critic undertakes to write a
mock-appreciation, he will not quote the best verses, to the detriment
of his plan. The poet must see to it that his volume does not contain
enough absurdities to form a sufficient basis for such an article. There
is a striking contrast to the humor of Lockhart in the little-known
review of the same volume by the _Literary Gazette_, 1833, pp.
(772-774). The latter seized upon some crudities that had escaped the
_Quarterly's_ notice, and, with characteristic brutality, decided that
the poet was insane and needed a low diet and a cell.

Although the reception accorded to _Poems_ (1842) was generally
favorable, the publication of _The Princess_ in 1847 afforded the
critics another opportunity to lament Tennyson's inequalities. The
spirit of the review of _The Princess_ here reprinted from the _Literary
Gazette_ of August 8, 1848, is practically identical with that of the
_Athenaeum_ on January 6, 1848, but specifies more clearly the critic's
objections to the medley. It is noteworthy that Lord Tennyson made
extensive changes in subsequent editions of _The Princess_, but left
unaltered all of the passages to which the _Literary Gazette_ took
exception. The beautiful threnody _In Memoriam_ (1850) and Tennyson's
elevation to the laureateship in the same year established his position
as the leading poet of the time; but the appearance of _Maud_ in 1856
proved to be a temporary check to his popularity. A few personal friends
admired it and praised its fine lyrics; but as a dramatic narrative it
failed to please the reviews. The most interesting of the critiques
(unfortunately too long to be reprinted here) appeared in _Blackwood's
Magazine_, XLI (311-321), of September, 1855,--a forcible, well-written
article, which, incidentally, shows how much the magazine had improved
in respectability since the days of the lampooners of Byron, Shelley,
and Keats. The authorship of the article has not been disclosed, but we
know that W.E. Aytoun asked permission of the proprietor to review
Tennyson's _Maud_. (See Mrs. Oliphant's _William Blackwood and his
Sons_.) The publication of the _Idylls of the King_ (1859), turned the
tide more strongly than before in Tennyson's favor, and subsequent
fault-finding on the part of the critics was confined largely to his
dramas.

153. _Catullus_. See Catullus, II and III--(_Passer, deliciae meae
puellae_, and _Lugete, O Veneres Cupidinesque_).

153. [Greek: Eithe lyre, k. t. l.] Usually found in the remains of
Alcaeus. Thomas Moore translates it with his _Odes of Anacreon_ (LXXVII),
beginning "Would that I were a tuneful lyre," etc. Lockhart proceeds to
ridicule Tennyson for wishing to be a river, which is not what the
quoted lines state. Nor does Tennyson "ambition a bolder metamorphosis"
than his predecessors. Anacreon (Ode XXII) wishes to be a stream, as
well as a mirror, a robe, a pair of sandals and sundry other articles.
See Moore's interesting note.

155. _Non omnis moriar_. Horace, _Odes_, III, 30, 6.

156. _Tongues in trees_, etc. Shakespeare's _As You Like It_, II, 1, 17.

157. _Aristaeus_. A minor Grecian divinity, worshipped as the first to
introduce the culture of bees.

164. _Dionysius Periegetes_. Author of [Greek: periegesis tes ges], a
description of the earth in hexameters, usually published with the
scholia of Eustathius and the Latin paraphrases of Avienus and Priscian.
For the account of AEthiopia, see also Pausanias, I, 33, 4.

167. _The Rovers_. _The Rovers_ was a parody on the German drama of the
day, published in the _Anti-Jacobin_ (1798) and written by Frere,
Canning and others. It is reprinted in Charles Edmund's _Poetry of the
Anti-Jacobin_. The chorus of conspirators is at the end of Act IV.

169. _The Groves of Blarney_. An old Irish song. A version may be seen
in the _Antiquary_, I, p. 199. The quotation by Lockhart differs
somewhat from the corresponding stanza of the cited version.

170. _Corporal Trim_. In Sterne's _Tristram Shandy_.

173. _Christopher North_. John Wilson, of _Blackwood's Magazine_.


ROBERT BROWNING

The reviews of Browning's poems are singularly uninteresting from a
historical standpoint. There is usually a protest against the obscurity
of the poetry and a plea that the author should make better use of his
manifest genius. For details concerning these reviews, see the
bibliography of Browning in Nicoll and Wise's _Literary Anecdotes of the
Nineteenth Century_. The list there given is extensive, but does not
include several of the reviews mentioned below.

The early poems were so abstruse that the critics were unable to make
sport of them as they did in the case of Wordsworth, Byron, Tennyson,
and the rest; and when Browning finally deigned to write within range of
the average human intellect, that particular style of reviewing had lost
favor. His earliest publication, _Pauline_ (1832) was well received by
W.J. Fox in _Monthly Repository_, and in the _Athenaeum_. _Tait's
Edinburgh Magazine_ called it a "piece of pure bewilderment." See also
the brief notice in the _Literary Gazette_, 1833, p. 183. _Paracelsus_
(1835) had a similar experience; the reprint from the _Athenaeum_, 1835,
p. 640, is fairly characteristic of the rest, among which are the
articles in the _Monthly Repository_, 1835, p. 716; the _Christian
Remembrancer_, XX, p. 346, and the reviews written by John Forster for
the _Examiner_, 1835, p. 563, and the _New Monthly Magazine_, XLVI
(289-308).

Neither the favorable review of _Sordello_ (1840) in the _Monthly Rev._,
1840, II, p. 149, nor the partly appreciative article in the _Athenaeum_,
1840, p. 431, seems to warrant the well-known anecdotes relating the
difficulties of Douglas Jerrold and Tennyson in attempting to understand
that poem. The _Athenaeum_ gave the poet sound advice, especially in
regard to the intentional obscurity of his meaning. That this admonition
was futile may be gathered from the _Saturday Review's_ article (I, p.
69) on _Men and Women_ (1855) published fifteen years after _Sordello_.
The critic reverted to the earlier style, and produced one of the most
readable reviews of Browning. Whatever may be the final verdict yet to
be passed upon Browning's poetic achievement, the fact remains that the
contemporary reviews from first to last deplored in his work a
deliberate obscurity which was wholly unwarranted and which precluded
the universal appeal that is essential to a poet's greatness.

189. _Della Crusca of Sentimentalism_. Robert Merry (1755-1798) under
the name Della Crusca became the leader of a set of poetasters who
flourished during the poetic dearth at the end of the eighteenth century
and poured forth their rubbish until William Gifford exposed their
follies in his satires _The Baviad_ (1794) and _The Maeviad_ (1795).

189. _Alexander Smith_. A Scotch poet (1830-1867).

189. _Mystic of Bailey_. Philip James Bailey (1816-1902), best known as
the author of _Festus_, published _The Mystic_ in 1855.

192. _Hudibras Butler, etc._ Samuel Butler, author of _Hudibras_
(1663-78); Richard H. Barham, author of the _Ingoldsby Legends_ (1840);
and Thomas Hood, author of _Whims and Oddities_ (1826-27). These poets
are cited by the reviewer for their skill with unusual metres and
difficult rhymes.




INDEX


_Academy_, xlii-xliii

_Account of English Dramatic Poets_, xv

_Adonais_, by Shelley, reviewed, 129-134; 214, 217

_Advice to Young Reviewer_, xxiii

Ainsworth, Harrison, xlv

Akenside, Mark, xvi

_Alastor_, by Shelley, reviewed, 115

_Album Verses_, by Lamb, reviewed, 66-67

Alford, Dean, xxxv

Allingham, William, l

_All the Year Round_, l

_Analytical Review_, xxii

_Anti-Jacobin Review_, xxiii

Appleton, Dr. Charles, xlii

Arber, Prof. Edward, xiii

Arnold, Matthew, xxxii, xxxvi, xlii

_Athenaeum_, xxxviii-xl, liv;
  on Tennyson's _Timbuctoo_, 151;
  on Browning's _Paracelsus_, 187

_Athenian Mercury_, xiv

_Atlas_, xl

Austin, Mr. Alfred, xxxvi


Bagehot, Walter, xxxii, xxxiv

Barrow, Sir John, xxviii

_Battle of the Reviews_, xx-xxi

Bayle, Pierre, xiii

_Bee_, xvi

Behn, Mrs. Aphra, xv

Beloe, William, xxiii

Bentham, Jeremy, xxxi

_Bentley's Miscellany_, l

Bibliography, lvi-lix

_Bibliotheca Literaria_, xvi

_Bibliotheque Ancienne et Moderne_, xvi

_Bibliotheque Angloise_, xv

_Bibliotheque Choisee_, xvi

Blackwood, John, xlvii

Blackwood, William, xlv

_Blackwood's Magazine_, xlv-xlvii;
  on Keats' _Endymion_, 141-150; 216

_Blank Verse_, by Lamb and Lloyd, reviewed, 65

Blount, Sir Thomas Pope, xiv

_Bookman_, xxxvii

Bower, Archibald, xvi

_British and Foreign Review_, xxxii

_British Critic_, xxiii;
  on Landor's _Gebir_, 68

_British Librarian_, xvi

_British Magazine_, xxii, xlv

_British Review_, xxxii, 213

Brougham, Henry, xxiv, xxvi-xxvii, xxx, 210

Browning, Robert, _Paracelsus_ rev. in _Athenaeum_, 187;
  _Sordello_ rev. in _Monthly Rev._, 188;
  _Men and Women_ rev. in _Saturday Rev._, 189-196; 220-222

Buckingham, James Silk, xxxviii

Budgell, Eustace, xvi

Bulwer, Edward, xxx, xlv

Bunting, Mr. Percy, xxxvi

Burns, Robert, _Poems_ rev. in _Edinburgh Mag._, 13-14;
  in _Critical Rev._, 15; 199-200

Byron, Lord, 47, 48;
  _Hours of Idleness_ rev. in _Edinburgh Rev._, 94-100;
  _Childe Harold_ rev. in _Christian Observer_, 101-114; 210-213


Campbell, Thomas, xlv

Carlyle, Thomas, xxx, xlv, xlix

Cave, Edward, xliv

_Cenci_, by Shelley, reviewed, 116-128, 214

_Censura Celebrium Authorum_, xiv

_Censura Temporum_, xv

_Childe Harold_, by Byron, reviewed, 101-114; 212-213

_Christabel_, by Coleridge, reviewed, 47-59

_Christian Observer_, xxxiii;
  on Byron's _Childe Harold_, 101-114

_Christian Remembrancer_, xxxii

Christie, Jonathan Henry, xlviii

Cleghorn, James, xlvi

Cobbett, William, xxxvii

Cockney School, _Blackwood's Mag._ on, 141-150; 216-217

Colburn, Henry, xxxvii, xlv

Coleridge, John Taylor, xxix

Coleridge, Samuel Taylor, xlvi;
  _Christabel_ rev. in _Edinburgh Rev._, 47-59; 201-202, 204-206

Collins, Mr. John Churton, li

Colvin, Mr. Sidney, xlii, liv

_Compleat Library_, xiv

Conder, Josiah, xxxii

_Contemporary Review_, xxxv

Cook, John D., xli

Copleston, Edward, xxiii

_Cornhill Magazine_, l

Cotton, Mr. James S., xliii

Courthope, Mr. W.J., xxxvi

Courtney, Mr. W.L., xxxv

Cowper, William, _Poems_ rev. in _Critical Rev._, 10-12; 198-199

_Critic_, xxxvii

_Critical Review_, xviii-xxi, xxiii, xxv, xxxiii;
  on Goldsmith's _Traveller_, 5-9;
  on Cowper's _Poems_, 10-12;
  on Burn's _Poems_, 15;
  on _Lyrical Ballads_, 20-23

Croker, John Wilson, xxviii


Dennis, John, xv

DeQuincey, Thomas, xlviii

_De Re Poetica_, xiv

_Descriptive Sketches_, by Wordsworth, reviewed, 16-18

Dickens, Charles, l, liv

Dilke, Charles W., xxxix

Dixon, William H., xxxix

Doble, Mr. C.E., xliii

Dowden, Prof. Edward, xxxiv

_Dublin Review_, xxxii

_Dublin University Magazine_, l

D'Urfey, Thomas, xv


_Eclectic Review_, xxxii

_Edinburgh Magazine_, xliv;
  on Burns' _Poems_, 13-14

_Edinburgh Review_, xxiv-xxvii, xxix-xxxi, xlvi, liv;
  on Wordsworth's _Poems_, 24-46;
  on Coleridge's _Christabel_, 47-59;
  on Scott's _Marmion_, 70-93;
  on Byron's _Hours of Idleness_, 94-100; 209-211

Eliot, George, xxxiv, xlvii

Elliott, Hon. A.R.D., xxxi

Elwin, Whitwell, xxix

Empson, William, xxx

_Endymion_, by Keats, rev. in _Quarterly Rev._, 135-140;
  rev. in _Blackwood's Mag._, 141-150; 215-218

_English Review_, xxii, xxxii

Escott, Mr. T.H.S., xxxv

_Evening Walk_, by Wordsworth, reviewed, 19

_Examiner_, xxxvii


Fonblanque, Albany, xxxvii

_Foreign Quarterly Review_, xxxii

_Foreign Review_, xxxii

Forster, John, xxxvii

_Fortnightly Review_, xxxiii-xxxv

Fox, W.J., xxxiii

_Fraser's Magazine_, xlix-l

Froude, James A., l


_Gebir_, by Landor, rev. in _British Critic_, 68;
  rev. in _Monthly Rev._, 69; 208

_Gentleman's Journal_, xv, xliv

_Gentleman's Magazine_, xv, xliv

Gifford, William, xxvii, xxviii

Goldsmith, Oliver, xviii, xxi, xxii, xlv;
  _The Traveller_ rev. in _Critical Rev._, 5-9, 197, 198

Grant, Charles, 108

Gray, Thomas, _Odes_ rev. in _Monthly Rev._, 1-4; 197-198

Green, John Richards, xxiii

Griffiths, Ralph, xvii, xviii, xx


Hallam, Henry, xxx

Hamilton, Sir William, xxx

Harris, Mr. Frank, xxxv, xli

Harwood, Mr. Philip, xli

Hazlitt, William, 204-205

Hervey, Thomas K., xxxix

Hind, Mr. C. Lewis, xliii

_Historia Literaria_, xvi

_History of Learning_, xiv

_History of the Works of the Learned_, xv, xvi

Hodge, Mr. Harold, xli

Hood, Thomas, xlviii

Hook, Theodore, xlv

Horne, Richard Hengist, xxxiii

Horner, Francis, xxiv, xxv

_Hours of Idleness_, by Byron, reviewed, 94-100; 210-212

_Household Words_, l

Hume, David, 105

Hunt, Leigh, xxxiii, xxxvii, 135, 136, 142

Hutton, Richard Holt, xxxii, xl


Introduction, xiii-lv


Jebb, Samuel, xvi

Jeffrey, Francis, xxiv-xxvi, xxix, xlviii, 203, 206, 209-210

Jerdan, William, xxxvii, xxxix

Johnson, Samuel, xxi, xxii, 198

_Journal des Savans_, xiii, xiv, xxi


Keats, John, _Endymion_, reviewed in _Quarterly Rev._, 135-140;
  in _Blackwood's Mag._, 141-150; 152, 215-218

Kenrick, William, xx, xxi, xxii

Kingsley, Charles, l

Knowles, Mr. James, xxxv, xxxvi


Lamb, Charles, xlviii;
  _Blank Verse_ rev. in _Monthly Rev._, 65;
  _Album-Verses_ rev. in _Literary Gazette_, 66-67; 207-208

Landor, Walter Savage, _Gebir_ rev. in _British Critic_, 68;
  in _Monthly Rev._, 69; 208

Langbaine, Gerald, xv

Le Clerc, Daniel, xvi

Le Clerc, Jean, xiv, xvi

Lewes, George Henry, xxxiv

Lewis, Sir George Cornewall, xxx

_Literary Chronicle_, xxxviii

_Literary Gazette_, xxxvii-xxxix;
  on Lamb's _Album-Verses_, 66-67;
  on Shelley's _Adonais_, 129-134;
  on Tennyson's _The Princess_, 176-186; 207-208

_Literary Journal_, xvi

_Literary Magazine_, xvi, xxii

Lloyd, Charles, _Blank Verse_, rev. in _Monthly Rev._, 65

Lloyd, H.E., xxxvii

Lockhart, John Gibson, xxii, xxxi, 216, 218-219

_London Magazine_, xliv, xlvii-xlviii;
  on Shelley's _Cenci_, 116-128

_London Quarterly Review_, xxxii

_London Review_, xxii, xxxi

_Longman's Magazine_, l

Lowth, Bishop, xvi

_Lyrical Ballads_, by Wordsworth, reviewed, 20-23; 201-203


Macaulay, Thomas Babington, xxix-xxx

MacColl, Mr. Norman, xxxix

Maclise, Daniel, xlix

_Macmillan's Magazine_, l

Macpherson, William, xxix

_Madoc_, by Southey, reviewed, 60-64; 206-207

_Marmion_, by Scott, reviewed, 70-93; 208-210

Martin, Sir Theodore, l

Martineau, James, xxxii

Maty, Paul Henry, xxii

Maurice, Frederick D., xxxviii

Maxse, Mr. Louis J., xxxvi

Melbourne, Lord, xxx

_Memoirs for the Ingenious_, xiv

_Memoirs of Literature_, xv

_Memoires Litteraires_, xv

_Men and Women_, by Browning, reviewed 189-196, 221

_Mercurius Librarius_, xiii

Meredith, Mr. George, xxxiv

_Metropolitan_, l

Mill, John Stuart, xxx, xxxi

Minto, William, xxxvii

_Miscellaneous Letters_, xiv

_Monthly Censor_, xxxiii

_Monthly Chronicle_, xxxiii

_Monthly Magazine_, xlv

_Monthly Miscellany_, xv

_Monthly Repository_, xxxiii

_Monthly Review_, xvii-xxi, xxv, xxxiii;
  on Gray's _Odes_, 1-4;
  on Wordsworth's _Descriptive Sketches_, 16-18;
  on Wordsworth's _Evening Walk_, 19;
  on Southey's _Madoc_, 60-64;
  on Lamb's _Blank Verse_, 65;
  on Landor's _Gebir_, 69;
  on Shelley's _Alastor_, 115;
  on Browning's _Sordello_, 188

Moore, Thomas, xlviii

Morley, Mr. John, xxxiv

Motteux, Peter Anthony, xv, xliv

Moxon, Edward, 207

Murray, John, xxvii

_Museum_, xvi


Napier, Macvey, xxix

Nares, Robert, xxxiii

_National Review_ (quar.), xxxii;
  (mon.), xxxvi

_New Memoirs of Literature_, xvi

_New Monthly Magazine_, xxxvii, xlv

_New Review_, xxii

Nicolas, Sir N.H., xxxii

_Nineteenth Century_, xxxvi

_North British Review_, xxxii

_Nouvelles de la Republique des Lettres_, xiii


Oldys, William, xvi

Oliphant, Mrs. M.O.W., xlvii


_Paracelsus_, by Browning, reviewed, 187

Parkes, Samuel, xiv

Pater, Walter, xlii, xliii

Phillips, Sir Richard, xlv

Phillips, Mr. Stephen, liv

Pollock, Mr. W.H., xli

_Porcupine's Gazette_, xxxvii

Pratt, Josiah, xxxiii

_Present State of the Republic of Letters_, xvi

_Princess_, by Tennyson, reviewed, 176-186

Pringle, Thomas, xlvi

Prothero, Mr. George, xxix

Prothero, Mr. Rowland, xxix


_Quarterly Review_, xxvii-xxix, liv;
  on Keats' _Endymion_, 135-140;
  on Tennyson's _Poems_, 152-175; 215-217

_Quarterly Theological Review_, xxiii

Quintilian, 107


Reeve, Henry, xxx

Reid, Andrew, xvi

Rendall, Mr. Vernon, xxxix

_Retrospective Review_, xxxii

_Revue des Deux Mondes_, xxxiii

Ridpath, George, xv

Rintoul, Robert S., xl

Roche, M. de la, xv, xvi

Roscoe, Mr. E.S., xxxi

Roscoe, William C., xxxii

Ross, Miss, xxxvii

_Royal Magazine_, xliv

Russell, Lord John, xxx


Salisbury, Lord, xli

Sallo, Denis de, xiii

_Saturday Review_, xli, liv;
  on Browning's _Men and Women_, 189-196

_Scots Magazine_, xliv

Scott, John, xlvii

Scott, Sir Walter, xxvii;
  _Marmion_ rev. in _Edinburgh Rev._, 70-93; 208-210

Shelley, Percy Bysshe, _Alastor_ rev. in _Monthly Rev._, 115;
  _Cenci_ rev. in _London Mag._, 116-128;
  _Adonais_ rev. in _Literary Gazette_, 129-134, 213-215

Shore, Mr. W. Teignmouth, xliii

Smith, Sydney, xxiv, xxvi

Smith, Sir William, xxix

Smollett, Tobias xviii, xx, xlv

_Sordello_, by Browning, reviewed, 188

Southern, Henry, xxxi, xxxii

Southey, Robert, xxviii;
  _Madoc_ rev. in _Monthly Rev._, 60-64; 109, 202, 206-207

_Spectator_, xl-xli

Stebbing, Henry, xxxviii

Stephen, (Sir) Leslie, xxxiv

Sterling, John, xxxviii

Strachey, Mr. J. St. L., xl

Swinburne, Mr. A.C., xxxiv, liv

Symonds, J.A., xxxiv

Symons, Mr. Arthur, liv


_Tait's Edinburgh Magazine_, l

Taylor, William, xlv

_Temple Bar_, l

Tennyson, Alfred, (Lord), xxxvi;
  _Timbuctoo_ rev. in _Athenaeum_, 151;
  _Poems_ rev. in _Quarterly Rev._, 152-175;
  _The Princess_ rev. in _Literary Gazette_, 176-186; 218-220

Thackeray, W.M., xxx, xlix, l

_Theatrum Poetarum_, xv

_Timbuctoo_, by Tennyson, reviewed, 151

Townsend, Meredith, xl

_Traveller_, by Goldsmith, reviewed, 5-9


_Universal Historical Bibliotheque_, xiv

_Universal Magazine_, xliv

_Universal Mercury_, xiv


Walpole, Horace, xvi, xx

Warton, J. and T., xvi

Watkins, Dr., xlv

Watts, Alaric A., xlv, xlviii

_Weekly Memorial_, xiv

_Weekly Register_, xxxvii

_Westminster Review_, xxxi-xxxii

Wilson, John, xlvi

Wordsworth, William, _Descriptive Sketches_ rev. in _Monthly Rev._, 16-18;
  _Evening Walk_ rev. in _ibid._, 19;
  _Lyrical Ballads_ rev. in _Critical Rev._, 20-23;
  _Poems_ rev. in _Edinburgh Rev._, 24-46; 200-204

_Works of the Learned_, xiv


_Young Student's Library_, xiv





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