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On the Star of the Legion of Honour (from the French) ib. Oo Lord Thurlow's Poems
Lines intended for the opening of “The siege of Corinth" ib
To Thomas Moore
Stanzas to her who best can understand them
Farewell to the Muse
Reply to som3 Verses of J. M. B. Pigot, Esq.
Lines written in "Letters of an Italian Nun and an Endorsement to the Deed of Separation
Lines uddressed to a Young Lady
On a Change of Masters at a great public School 729 Epigram, from the French of Rulhieres
Epitaph for William Pitt
The Third Act of Manfred, in its original shape •738 The Charity Ball
BY J. W. LAKE.
O'er the harp, from earliest years beloved,
It was reserved for the present age to pro- their readers, far beyond the range of thoso c.uce one distinguished example of the Muse ordinary feelings which are usually excited
laving descended upon a bard of a wounded by the mere efforts of genius. The impression spirit, and lent her lyre to tell afflictions of of this interest still accompanies the perusal no ordinary description; afflictions originating of their writings; but there is another interest, probably in that singular combination of feel- of more lasting and far stronger power, which ing with imagination which has been called each of them possessed-which lies in the the poetical temperament, and which has so continual embodying of the individual characoften saddened the days of those on whom it ter, it might almost be said of the very person has been conferred. If ever a man was enti- of the writer. When we speak or think of tled to lay claim to that character in all its Rousseau or Byron, we are not conscious of strength and all its weakness, with its un- speaking or thinking of an author. We have bounded range of enjoyment, and its exquisite a vague but impassioned remembrance of men sensibility of pleasure and of pain, that man of surpassing genius, eloquence, and power,-was Lord Byron. Nor does it require much of prodigious capacity both of misery and time, or a deep acquaintance with human na- happiness. We feel as if we had transiently ture, to discover why these extraordinary met such beings in real life, or had known powers should in so many cases have con- them in the dim and dark communion of a tributed more to the wretchedness than to the dream. Each of their works presents, in suchappiness of their possessor.
cession, a fresh idea of themselves; and, while The “ imagination all compact,” which the the productions of other great men stand out greatest poet who ever lived has assigned as from them, like something they have created, the distinguishing badge of his brethren, is in theirs, on the contrary, are images, pictures every case a dangerous gift. It exaggerates, busts of their living selves,-clothed, no doubt, indeed, our expectations, and can often bid at different times, in different drapery, and its possessor hope, where hope is lost to reason prominent from a different back-ground,-but but the delusive pleasure arising from these uniformly impressed with the same form, and visions of imagination, resembles that of a mien, and lineaments, and not to be mistaken child whose notice is attracted by a fragment for the représentations of any other of the of glass to which a sunbeam has given mo- children of men. mentary splendour. He hastens to the spot But this view of the subject, though univérwith breathless impatience, and finds that the sally felt to be a true one, requires perhaps a object of his curiosity and expectation is little explanation. The personal character of equally vulgar and worthless. Such is the which we have spoken, it should be underman of quick and exalted powers of imagina- stood, is not altogether that on which the seal tion: his fancy over-estimates the object of of life has been set,-and to which, therefore, his wishes; and pleasure, fame, distinction, moral approval or condemnation is necessaare alternately pursued, attained, and despised rily annexed, as to the language or conduct when in his power. Like the enchanted fruit of actual existence. It is the character, so to in the palace of a sorcerer, the objects of his speak, which is prior to conduct, and yet admiration lose their attraction and value as open to good and to ill, the constitution of soon as they are grasped by the adventurer's the being in body and in soul. Each of these hand; and all that remains is regret for the illustrious writers has, in this light, filled his time lost in the chase, and wonder at the hal- works with expressions of his own character, lucination under the influence of which it was -has unveiled to the world the secrets of his undertaken. The disproportion between hope own being, the mysteries of the framing of and possession, which is felt by all men, is thus man. They have gone down into those depths doubled to those whom nature has endowed which every man may sound for himself, with the power of gilding a distant prospect though not for another; and they have made by the rays of imagination.
disclosures to the world of what they beheld We think that many points of resemblance and knew there-disclosures that have com inay be traced between Byron and Rousseau. manded and forced a profound and universal Both are distinguished by the most ardent and sympathy, by proving that all mankind, the vivid delineation of intense conception, and troubled and the untroubled, the lofty and the by a deep sensibility of passion rather than of low, the strongest and the frailest, are linked affection. Both too, by this double power, together hy the bonds of a common but in have held a dominion over the sympathy of scrutable nature.
Thus, each of these wayward and richly- are not, felt, while we read, as declaíations gifted spirits made himself the object of pro- published to the world, but almost as secrets found interest to the world, and that too dur-whispered to chosen ears. Who is there that ing periods of society when ample food was feels for a moment, that the voice which every where spread abroad for the meditations reaches the inmost recesses of his lieart is and passions of men.
speaking to the careless multitudes around Although of widely dissimilar fortunes and him? Or if we do so remember, the words birth, a close resemblance in their passions seem to pass by others like air, and to find and their genius may be traced too between their way to the hearts for whom they were Byron and Robert Burns. Their careers intended; kindred and sympathetic spirits, were short and glorious, and they both perish- who discern and own that secret language, ed in the rich summer of their life and song,” of which the privacy is not violated, though and in all the splendour of a reputation more spoken in hearing of the uninitiated, because likely to increase than diminish. One was a it is not understood. A great poet' may adpeasant, and the other was a peer; but nature dress the whole world, in the language of is a great leveller, and makes amends for the intensest passion, concerning objects of which injuries of fortune by the richness of her rather than speak face to face with any one benefactions: the genius of Burns raised him human being on earth, he would perish in his to a level with the nobles of the land; by na- misery. For it is in solitude that he utters ture, if not by birth, he was the peer of Byron: what is to be wafted by all the winds of heaven: ..They both rose by the force of their genius, there are, during his inspiration, present with and both fell by the strength of their passions; him only the shadows of men. He is not one wrote from a love, and the other from a daunted, or perplexed, or disturbed, or repelscorn of mankind; and they both sung of the led, by real, living, breathing features. He emotions of their own hearts, with a vehe- con updraw just as much of the curtain as he mence and an originality which few have chooses, that hangs between his own solitude equalled, and none surely have surpassed. and the world of life. He there pours his soul
The versatility of authors who have been ont, partly to himself alone, partly to the ideal able to draw and support characters as differ- abstractions and impersonated images that ent from each other as from their own, has float around him at his own conjuration; and given to their productions the inexpressible partly to human beings like himself, moving charm of variety, and has often secured them in the dark distance of the every-day world. from that neglect 'which in general attends He confesses himself, not before men, but what is technically called mannerism. But it before the spirit of humanity; and he thus was reserved for Lord Byron (previous to his fearlessly lays open his heart, assured that Don Juan) to present the same character on nature never prompted unto genius that which the public stage again and again, varied only will not triumphantly force its wide way inta oy the exertions of that powerful genius, the human heart. which, searching the springs of passion and We have admitted that Byron has depicted of feeling in their innermost recesses, knew much of himself, in all his heroes; but when how to combine their operations, so that the we seem to see the poet shadowed out in all interest was eternally varying, and never those states of disordered being which his abated, although the most important person Childe Harolds, Giaours, Conrads, Laras, and of the drama retained the same lineaments. Alps exhibit, we are far from believing that
“ But that noble tree will never more bear his own mind has gone through those states fruit
or blossom! It has been cut down in its of disorder, in its own experience of life. We strength, and the past is all that remains to us merely conceive of it, as having felt within of Byron. That voice is silent for ever, which, itself the capacity of such disorders, and therebursting so frequently on our ear, was often fore exhibiting itself
, before us in possibility. heard with rapturous admiration, sometimes This is not general,—it is rare with great with regret, but always with the deepest in- poets. Neither Homer, nor Shakspeare, nor
-Yet the impression of his works still Milton, ever so show themselves in the charemains vivid and strong. The charm which racters which they pourtray. Their poetical cannot pass away is there,— life breathing in personages have no references to themselves, dead words—the stern grandeur—the intense but are distinct, independent creatures of power and energy--the fresh beauty, the un- their minds, produced in the full freedom of dimmed lustre-the immortal bloom, and ver- intellectual power. In Byron, there does not ulure, and fragrance of life, all those still are seem this freedom of power--there is little there. But it was not in these alone, it was in appropriation of character to events, Characwiat continual impersonation of himself in his ter is first, and all in all, it is dictated, com. writings, by which he was for ever kept pelled by some force in his own mind--neprightly before the eyes of men.
cessitating him, and the events obey. Hip It might, at first, seem that his undisguised poems, therefore, excepting Don Juan, are revelation of feelings and passions, which the not full and complete narrations of some one becoming pride of human nature, jealous of definite story, containing within itself a picits own dignity, would in general desire ture of human life. They are merely bold, biold in unviolated silence, could have profconfused, and turbulent exemplifications of duced in the public mind only pity, sorrow certain sweeping energies and irresistiblo or repugnance. But in the case of men passions; they are fragments of a poet's dark 'cal genius, like Byron it is otherwise: they dream of life. The very personages, vividly