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J'ai pour aïeul le père et le maître des dieux;
Now here has been exerted more of self in hell, where she is about to be ad. profound thought and of refined reason. judged to eternal torments by her own ing, infinitely more, than was requisite father; and so vivid does the scene become to produce pages like the passage from to her, that she apostrophises him as if Pope. The imagination, too, is of the really present, and sees the fatal urn most vigorous compass; recalling to drop from his palsied paternal hand. this wretched queen, from the past, Yet, what reader, at all capable of being the secret sufferings of her abominable swept along in this tornado, will ever love; then hurrying her into the future, think of the reasoning, the eloquence, or where she is met by horrors that efface the imagination? It is that bere all these all the preceding, in contemplating the have been made (so to speak) to pass blisses in store for her rival in the pos- through the heart; they have been colorsession of the beloved Hyppolytus. Fored with the feelings. What prominently though she knows of a device on foot to impresses is the truth and the passion ; disappoint them of this their felicity, and and this is the impression to which all is, moreover, reminded of it by her nurse minds, unsophisticated by vain critical -who remarks to her consolingly: distinctions, apply, emphatically, though
often indistinctly, perhaps, the name of ENONE.-Quel fruit recevront-ils de
Poetry leurs vains amours? Ils ne se verront plus
Let us now turn from this terrible pic
ture to repose a moment on another reyet it brings no mitigation of her jealous presentation of the same passion, more anguish ; and her reply is one of the finest gentle, as more pure and legitimate; and touches of woman's love in all poetry, also, we think, more conclusive still upon save, perhaps, that it is rather too pure the position for which we are contendfor the character of Phedre:
ing. From the abundance which distinPHEDRE.—Ils s'aimeront toujours !
guishes the poetry of Lord Byron, we se
lect the well-known parting scene beWhat will their fruitless love avail tween Conrad and Medora." We quote them ? suggests the nurse; they will without preface, deeming that it would never more meet. But they will love, be discourteous not to assume the whole not the less ; rejoins the jealous Phedre. poem to be familiar to at least our poeti
Then she is transported into the skies, cal readers; the only readers, probably, where she encounters the frowns of her who will take much interest in the precelestial ancestry. Next she imagines her- sent speculations:
“ She rose—she sprung-she clung to his embrace,
Till his heart heaved beneath her hidden face.
Scarce beat the bosom where his image dwelt
Again-again-that form he madly pressed ;
Here, surely, is not less of the elo- of Conrad into a presentiment. But quence of truth, than in the lines of Conrad could not, naturally, have known Pope; nor Jess of the force of imagi. his calamity at this time; and Byron was nation, in the sense, at least, that the too much the poet not to have kept to scene described is, of course, purely fic- the truth of chronology and of nature. titious. Yet no reader-save some pro- Not less finely conceived is the kiss on fane pedant who should have proposed the “cold forehead”—any warmer being it to his pupils as an exercise in parsing probably, repulsive, even to love the most
-no reader of taste and feeling, we say, passionate, in the swooning state of Mewill be found to have adverted, in the dora. These are the profound subtleties perusal, to either of those attributes; though to many they may seem vain whereas, in Pope, they were the main refinements--which best distinguish the objects of attention and admiration. poet from the artist. They must be The admiration here, as in the solilo- drawn from feeling ; they can never be quy of “Phedre,” will only be ex- detected by observation, or seized by cold pressed by an exclamation, hall-involun- analysis. Hence, the ancient maxim, tary, that “ This is Poetry indeed!” poeta nascitur, is an eternal and absolute But how Poetry? This extract pretends truth. For the rest, there is scarce a line to none of the reputed constituents of of this mutely eloquent portraiture that Poetry; nothing of invention or plot, does not discover the hand of a master, nothing of historical allusion, nothing of or rather the genius of the poet. Let figurative illustration or adornment. What the reader only compare with it the not is remarkable, indeed, (and was a motive dissimilar parting-scene of Gertrude and to our selecting this passage,) it does not her Henry, by Campbell. To make our contain, in its nearly twenty lines, a sin- position—that passion is the source of gle figure-not so much even as a trope! Poetry-still more familiar, as well as to It is merely a relation of facts (acts or exemplify the conditions before intimated emotions) simple and naked as an entry as requisite to this effect, we indulge ourin a merchant's ledger. Whence its ac selves and readers, we hope, in another knowledged Poetry, then ? Conclusively, extract from the “Corsair”-a poem from that source of all Poetry, passion-- which, in truth, is one illustration of our passion nobly and truly, but delicately, principle, from the first line to the last ; spiritually delineated; for the poet should and, in our opinion, is the most poetical, never forget that his muse is a virgin. that is, the most passion-inspired of com
Accordingly, how exquisitely is this positions in the English, perhaps supreme rule observed by Byron in the language. above passionate and critical situation ! Conrad is returning, (as the reader will How admirable, for example, the precau- remember,) to his island home and bride. tion suggested by introducing the term The beautiful Gulnare—who, partly in “ bride” (in the last but three lines), lest gratitude for his having rescued her from the reader should, for an instant, forget the burning harem, but principally the legitimacy of the freedom! So, in through love, has contrived his escape the next line, the phrase, “as if to gaze from impending death--is on board. She no more.” Themere artificer of verse would finds herself treated with more than cold. not have failed to disclose the fact that nees by the man whom she has risked Conrad was “gazing” on her for the
“ Her all on earth, and more than all in last time (alive), crudely thinking to bor
Heaven," row “effect” from the anticipation ; while, on the other hand, your mystical to save; the brave pirate disdaining the modern sentimentalists would have tra- redemption of his own life at the price vestied the affecting unconsciousness of the sultan's assassination. Thus de
nied even the sympathy of him she loved situation? This is what none of the and saved, and, as for his love, knowing contemporaries of Byron could have porthat a few hour's sail will place her in trayed. Yet this is what he has depicted, that presence—the most terrible to an with an art so consummately unartificial, enamored woman-a successful rival's; as to make you forget, in a few lines, the condemned, moreover, by her own con blood-stained murderess, in the meek science, and Conrad's disapprobation of dignity of endurance, the unselfish dethat most shocking of crimes, especially votedness and the all-forgetting, (and, in a female; standing alone and aloof on too often, all-atoning,) abandonment of the deck before a crowd of pirates—what female love. should be woman's conduct, in such a
“ And her-at once above-beneath her sex,
Whom blood appals not, their regards perplex.
This Conrad marked and felt-ah! could he less ?
And now he turned him to that dark-eyed slave,
Gulnare !'-but she replied not-dear Gulnare !!
At once she sought and sunk in his embrace :" Nor is Conrad's conjugal fidelity, in this trying scene, less happily preserved than proved :
“ If he had driven her from that resting-place,
In this, as in the preceding extract, There is, however, another quality not there is, it may be observed, scarce a sin- less distinctive of this author—thé illagle figurative expression. The phrase, tive truth of the reasoning - we mean, of "it bade her, &c.,” is not a personification, course, the reasoning of the passions. but is admirably designed to separate thé Both these qualities combined seem to duty of the husband from the weakness us to have placed Byron-irrespective of of the heart. The solitary metaphor the controverted merits of his writings, and a happier could not be imagined—is and merely by the proverbial birth-right the “ broken sighs ;” taken from fragrant alluded to, and so amply evinced in the plants, which grow sweeter when torn or poem before us in the first rank, if not bruised. Passion, then, it is evident, is first in that rank, of the few genuine poets here the supreme, the sole art of the of any age or any country. In him alone, writer. It is this that turns sentiments or in the highest degree, it may be said the most ordinary, and diction the most that passion was reason, and reason was unornamented, into the gold of Poetry. passion. Though his soul was kindled
with etherial flame, (as he has said him- move the will. Whereas, of Poetry, the self of a kindred spirit,) yet, in him, the characteristic object and the natural effect, flame was ever fed' by the soundest and (however other effects may concur,) is deepest knowledge of the world, and of pleasure-pleasure which, in this case, the heart of man. This, which is some- like virtue, is its own reward. So that times called “common sense,” (a thing, one may say of Poetry as the enthusiastic by the by, the most uncommon upon De Stael said of flowers : its distinctive earth,) is, so to express ourselves, the excellence consists in being “gloriously genius of the Humanity, as passion is useless." that of the Divinity, of our nature; and Lord Byron-who might have been also it is by the union of both, that the Poetry among the first of critics-it is true, ridi. of Byron has the fortune, almost singui- culed Bowles for pretending in the lar, of responding to the two prime ele- “Pope controversy") to lay down “ Inments of human being.
variable principles of Poetry.” And the As passion is the efficient principle, so ridicule was merited, according to the pleasure, we have said, is the proper end prevailing notions of the poetic art; for of Poetry. True, there may be rhyth- those principles were avowedly based mical compositions useful for their teach- upon the subject matter, which is, necesings, admired for their ingenuity, ap- sarily mixed and mutable. But to his plauded for their eloquence. But these lordship’s interrogatory, “What is there grounds of approbation are reflex, refer that is invariable?” perhaps a sufficient to an ulterior object, and properly belong answer would be, human Passion, as divi. to other forms of literature, whose pro- ding the field of human consciousness vince is to inform the understanding or with Thought; that Passion which con
* We entirely reject the idea that “the proper end,” if by that be meant the only end of Poetry is pleasure. We reject it even on the assumption, long disputed, that the happiness of men is, to them, the only design of the universe of material and spiritual objects, qualities and effects, out of which the many-colored tissues of Poetry are woven ; for “happiness" is a term of very wide signification, and demands, for its full attainment in the lives of men, a varied, and earnest, and most intelligent attention to the laws and circumstances that govern their being. But we do not, and cannot, pay this attention understandingly, except through many teachings and in many ways. Now, there are far higher teachings to lead men to the better summits of happiness, than are found in the abstract and cold canons of ethical reasoning. The first and highest descend into the mind and heart through what have always been recognized as Divine influences-Revelation, Inspiration, Conscience. But altogether aside from those is that great gift of seeing the beautiful and true in nature, in mind, in the passions, in human action ; and it is by the appreciation and expression of this perception given us—that is by Poetry and the Poetic sentiment—that we may be purified and elevated, if we will-taught, in a word, many lessons entirely essential to our noblest felicity. The best gilt of Poetry, therefore, is not the mere feeling of present pleasure, (which is what the writer means,) but those influences, teachings, that go so far to make us “ assured of our immortality.” The same, indeed, may be said of Mowers, to which the writer so appositely refers. They are not, any more than Poetry, “gloriously useless.” Aside from the fact, (quite practical and cold in this connection, we allow,) that every blossom belongs to some plant that has its particular use—those delicately-nurtured “affections of the soil,” those “ stars of the earth”—as a German writer has called them-flowers-afford us too many beautiful instructions, are symbols of too many tender and immortal things in our own nature, to be so characterized. We believe, indeed, that the brilliant De Stael herself, by the very use of the enthusiastic expression, “gloriously,” intuitively felt what in words she denies, that these “fresh-eyed children of the elements” are performing among us a beautiful and benign mission. Flowers are themselves Poetry.
As to passion being the great “efficient principle” of Poetry, if the writer means to embrace by the term whatever powerfully affects, not only the sensibilities, the heart, but the high faculty of the imagination, (which, however, he nowhere clearly indicates,) his position is undoubtedly the true one. But with this understanding of the word, we cannot see how he can estimate Lord Byron as “ in the first rank ” of all poets, “ if not the first in that rank”-leaving Homer and Æschylus, Dante, Shakspeare and Milton, Göthe and Schiller, quite in the background. We do not join in the miserable outcry of the day against Byron's poetry—and will take occasion some time to give our reasons for it—but certainly the passion” that moved the minds of a few of those earlier poets seems to us as much higher than the “passion” that stirred his Lordship, as the sky is higher than the clouds.
ED. AM. REV.
stitutes Poetry independently of rhyme the first requisite is to feel vividly; the or metre, as we see in Rousseau, Chateau- other, to make the reader, or spectator, briand, and sometimes Bulwer; that pas- feel with you.” Here, in truth, is the sion, without which the mechanism of alpha and omega, not of tragedy alone, versification only serves to burlesque but of all Poetry. And, if the observation plain prose, of itself sufficiently stale or be more apparently true of the drama, it stupid, as commonly in Wordsworth and is because this is the most pure, the most most of his followers, on either side of homogeneous, form of the art. Passion, the Atlantic. The sentiment which in- then, to conclude, is the art of genius; spires, not the subject that happens to as genius is, in turn, the guide and leemploy, is the sole stable principle, as the gislator of all art, of all execution. sure and simple criterion. Hence the la In the fertility and the confusion of the tent truth--though unconscious to himself, subject, we have, we perceive, out-stepped apparently-of another remark of Byron, the slight frame which had been designed on the same occasion; That the poet rạnks for this paper. The porch will be found according to his “ execution”; not accord- too massive, we fear, for the main strucing as his subject is an epic, a tragedy ture. But we only ask that it be conor a song: by which he meant, no doubt, sidered upon its absolute qualities, by any that Burns, for instance, ought to be ac who may deny it the relative merit of counted as much a poet as Homer. But proportional fitness. his criterion of “ execution” seems inap In defining Poetry to be essentially the plicable to the form of comparison thus eloquence of passion having pleasure for implied; for the distinction of rank which its end, we comprise, of course, in the it professes to repudiate in the matter, it terms Passion and Pleasure all the modes retains in full force in the mode of treat- and all the degrees of feeling, from emoment: so that nothing is gained. Where- tion up to ecstacy : just as all agitation as, if, for execution, that is, art, we sub- of the air is of the same nature and origin, stitute Passion, which is an indivisible whether in the form of the furious tornaunity, we have the proper principle where- do or of the fanning breeze. To the genupon to answer the question involved tler descriptions, however, belong, happiin Byron's meaning, namely, Whetherly, both the subjects of the comparison for the writers compared are equally genuine which this long dissertation is intended poets? This is a question of fact, and to prepare us, and to which we now proihe only soluble one in the case. To ceed. We say happily; for here our inquire whether poets in different depart- criterion is already in effect recognized ments of the art are equally great, if not the machinery of plot, historic allusion, in truth absurd, must set all afloat on the erudite imagery being felt and admitted, ocean of arbitrary or conflicting opinion. upon all hands, to be, in poems of the Should the foregoing interpretation of By- class now in question, entirely out of ron's sentiment seem strained to subserve place. our argument, let the following, taken Campbell's poem on The Rainbow has from the next paragraph be thoughtfully long been spanning the Atlantic with its considered : “ It is the fashion of the day fame. Our country woman, Amelia's later (he proceeds) to lay great stress upon effort on the same subject, has, we believe, what they call imagination and in- hardly reached as yet to the other side; vention, ihe two commonest qualities: and even on this, we have reason to think, an Irish peasant, with a little whiskey in remains unobserved by many whose pohis head, will imagine and invent more etic kin would not have failed to perceive than would furnish forth any modern and hail it, had it only arisen in an Engpoem.” Now this flouted imagination lish sky. Yet, that as poetry it is supe. and invention are, by established opinion, rior to Campbell's-superior almost bethe two arms, so lo speak, of his own yond comparison, if there be anything criterion, “ execution.” And if we take in the principle sought above to be estabthem away, what in fact remains to con- lished—we may as well, here in advance, stitute Poetry? Necessarily, only that declare to be our unbiassed judgment, passion, or sentiment, or feeling, or what- And now to the proof. As the pieces are ever we choose to call it, which at once both short, we shall quote them in full; excludes and substitutes both the one and that the reader may have the whole subthe other. “To write tragedy” (says ject, together with our comments, before Alfieri, himself the most natural, or him. We begin with Campbell, in obe. least book-made of poets) “ I found that dience to chronology.