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conceit that science and experience spoil
the illusions of ignorance and youth ; Triumphal arch, that fill'st the sky,
and the staple of the rest is the traWhen storms pepare to part,
ditional rainbow of the Bible. As phiI ask not proud philosophy
losophy, this may be excellent; as theTo teach me what thou art
ology, unexceptionable: but with due Still seem, as to my childhood's sight, respect to the former and all reverence to A midway station given
the latter, we contend that it is not, on For happy spirits to alight,
this account, the better Poetry. The vers. Betwixt the earth and heaven.
ification is easy and the diction (perhaps Can all that optics teach, unfold the best part of Campbell) of classic eleThy form to please me so,
gance, the images often and richly varied. As when I dreamt of gems and gold But there are compositions, without any Hid in thy radiant bow?
serious pretensions to Poetry, of which When science from creation's face as much might be said with justice :
Enchantment's veil withdraws, for example Sir William Jones' mockWhat lovely visions yield their place heroics, on the game of chess, and Swift's To cold material laws?
ballad on the “ South Sea Bubbles.” Were And yet, fair bow, no fabling dreams,
we captious, there might, moreover, But words of the Most High,
some exceptions, slight indeed, to even Have told why first thy robe of beams this restricted praise. Some of the thoughts Was woven in the sky.
seem to us false, or at the least exaggera. When o'er the green undeluged earth
ted. For instance, in the first line the Heaven's covenant thou didst shine,
phrase, “ fill'st the sky;" we doubt that How came the world's gray fathers forth the rainbow ever gives any such impresTo watch thy sacred sign !
sion. Then, the • dream of gems and
gold” in the third stanza; is this a dream And when its yellow lustre smiled for childhood ? Children are wont to
O'er mountains yet untrod, Each mother held aloft her child
know little and think less of gold, and es. To bless the bow of God.
pecially gems, which are rarely known at
that age. Certainly, none in the shape Nor ever shall the Muse's eye
of a rainbow: and figure is well underUnraptured greet thy beam:
stood to have more influence than color, in Theme of primeval prophesy, Be still the poet's theme !
forming the suggestive principle in chil
dren. "Attributed to the jaundiced fancy The earth to thee her incense yields, of a Jew or other miser, the reflection The lark thy welcome sings,
were appropriate. It may be indeed that When glittering in the freshened fields the national instinct is precociously de
The snowy mushroom springs. veloped in the country of Campbell. How glorious is thy girdle cast
But we insist, that (supposing it any O’er mountain, tower and town, where natural) it is merely a Scotch Or mirrored in the ucean vast,
dream-the dream of a Scotch child A thousand fathoms down!
and, at all events, less fit for poetry As fresh in yon horizon dark,
than for political economy. And yet" As young thy beauties seem,
&c. (5th stanza). The adversative force As when the eagle from the ark of this “yet,” we do not perceive. But First sported in thy beam.
this you will deem more than compensaFor, faithful to its sacred page,
ted by the far-famed “ robe of beams,” Heaven still rebuilds thy span,
which follows it—“woven in the sky." Nor lets the type grow pale with age
Now, with submission, "robe,” we ask, That first spoke peace to man.
to whom or to what? For a robe hav
ing no reference to a wearer, corporeal, Now here, it must be admitted, are to or imaginary, or so much as imaginable, be found brilliant imagery, ingenious re as it is without use in fact, so must it be flection, learned allusion, tradition, theol. without aptness in figure. It might be ogy; but not, we dare to say, a solitary hypercritical to add, that the word robe sentiment of those which such an object denotes no garment bearing the most fanand scene would most naturally inspire, ciful resemblance to a rainbow. A cincand which would, therefore, be the most ture (if the measure permitted), or a scarf proper to reproduce the like in others. of beams would have improved the proThe opening verses turn upon the trite priety of the image, though hardly the
dignity of the expression. Then, as to would except in the 9th verse) the “singits being “woven,” we submit that the ing lark,” the “ freshened fields” and the soft, ungrained surface of the rainbow snowy mushrooms."
It might have presents nothing to suggest an impression been written by one who had his idea of tissue; unless to the eye of reflection, of a rainbow from a view or a landscape. which we have denied to be the eye of It is a brilliant and cold crystallization of Poetry. The truth we suspect is, that esprit. It discovers nothing of the simthis same “ robe of beams”- like so many plicity, the life, the awe, in a word the others of the modern fabric from the loom nature, with which that most glorious of the Muses—has dazzled too much to of meteoric phenomena inspires the imallow of any very nice inspection into passionable soul and the pictured page its texture.
of the genuine poet. A soul of this comAnd so we might proceed to the end, if plexion, if we are not much mistaken, such were not more strictly objections to will, on the contrary, be found to live in the writer than the poet. As a poem, every line of the following effusion. We we must repeat of this production, that shall venture to mark by italics a few of we do not trace in it, from the first to the the most prominent of its beauties. To last line, one natural and spontaneous designate them all, were to destroy the emotion, one characteristic image:-we means of distinction.
The green earth was moist with the late fallen showers,
Yes, these are the thoughts which that inanimate objects and appearances. But grand spectacle will awaken in every it may be the result of an intense love of feeling bosom ; though how few are nature-a love usually deepened by a there who can thus translate them into certain humor, which, we think, is tracethe language of men! These are the able in the writings of the gentle “ Ame. sentiments natural to the situation, the lia,”—we mean a leaven of misanthropy: incidents proper to the scene: not optical a caprice as rare, it is thought, among philosophy, Biblical lore and Wall street women as that of the vertical breeze is visions of gems and gold !
among winds. Her descriptions of seaWe have, for brevity, omitted the clos- scenery, in particular, are unequaled. ing stanza, (with half the opening one,) Were our population not so migratory, which is occupied with some moral re we should be surprised to find Mrs. Welby flections, irrelevant to our subject, though in the interior of the country. She must very appropriate to the poem. With have been brought up “ along the shore the few mute indications already offered, of the hoarse-sounding sea,” to talk Ho. and the guidance of the principle above' merically; probably on the banks of some established, this poem is now commended of our ocean lakes. Of the excellence al. to the consideration of the reader. No luded to, we will presently notice an exposition of its merits will be here at instance from another of her poems. In tempted, since our space will not permit it this before us, we would revert the readin the requisite detail. Indeed, we should er's attention to the waves “ kneeling be loth to do so under any circumstances; down on the shore,” in reverence to the warned by the fate of the beautiful phe- rainbow. The exquisite propriety of this nomenon it so worthily sings, which image would probably escape most of its is spoiled (as Campbell tells us) by cold, readers—many who have never seen a critical analysis. Only a few words, sea-shore, and still more who have not then, with regard to its conformity with, the faculty of perceiving all they see. or corroboration of, our own principle of But rarely has there been a happier conPoetry.
ception, unless, perhaps, the following, It has been remarked that Campbell's from a piece of her own, entitled, (if we poem is, every line, drawn from the remember,) MUSINGS : laboratory of memory or of thought. The
“ The twilight hours, like birds, flew by, reverse is true, and to the like extent, of “ Amelia’s ;” which is not disfigured, we
As lightly and as free;
Ten thousand stars were in the sky, believe, by a single instance of philo Ten thousand on the sea; sophical reflection, or historical allusion.
For every wave with dimpled face, Like the passages cited from Byron, it is That LEAPED UPON THE AIR, simply a record of feelings, the natural Had caught a star in its embrace, suggestions of vivid impression and en And held it TREMBLING there." raptured emotion. Let the reader note
In the same poem : how skillfully-no, that is not the word, execution like this was never the result “I heard the laughing wind behind of art—with what an instinctive felicity, A-playing with my hair; rather, he is introduced to the Rainbow The breezy fingers of the windof “ Amelia,” in the opening lines. The
How cool and moist they were.!" freshened face of nature is before you Her expression is not less happy even the rain-drops sall around you from the in mere description. Take this, upon a breeze-shaken boughs. For our part, we rose-stem entwined in a woman's hair : can forget ourselves back into many a such scene. We can, too, appreciate
“Looped lightly up its dark redundancy.” the girlish toss of the tresses, although How picturesque the term “ lightly;" we have, ourselves, (not having enjoyed yet how unassignable, how aerial, the the privilege of Teresias,) never worn this attribute it depicts! The “ dark redungraceful appendage-no, not even to the dancy” may be considered transcendental fashionable length of the neuter sex! by some worthy successors of that proBut, in especial, that “ breeze fluttering fessor who asked what all that proved ? DOWN,” is what none would ever note on having heard a recitation of the Berebut an exquisite observer of nature. And nice of Racine. And this felicity is, in this, indeed, is the characteristic of this fact, what the Transcendentalists aspire to gifted woman. Or rather she seems or imitate ; but, like Ixion, they only seize ganized to some mystical sympathy with a cold, shapeless, watery cloud, instead
of the living and majestic Juno, accessi- thriftlessness of the poet has been never ble alone to the godhead of genius. known, we believe, to prevail. Poor
We regret not having at hand—having Burns is no exception ; for nature, doubtbeen quoting partly from memory—the less, meant him for a neighboring and collected poems of Amelia,” in order more congenial island. The lime labor to add a few more of those felicities, both of Campbell, as well as his mediocrity of feeling, and phrase, which seem to us of talent, is manifest in his remarkable to constitute her distinctive merit, and of inequality; in those lines or couplets-the latter of which one would have thought those mottoes, not “ of the heart,” but our stubborn language incapable. They of the head-so frugally sprinkled are impressions stamped, as it were, by through his pages, which have passed, the face itself of the things denoted, like indeed, into newspaper maxims and patrithe filmy images thrown off from the sur- otic epigrams, but which, to us, seem, face of objects, according to the peripa- notwithstanding, to smell rather strongly tetic theory of vehicular vision. It is of the common-place book. Byron did that “ Amelia” writes as she feels; not speak the whole of his mind respectthat she feels naturally; that her very ing Campbell's barrenness, in saying thoughts bubble forth impregnated with that his Hippocrene was somewhat the affections of a virgin soul, like droughty: and this Campbell, himself, streams that take color and savor from was well aware of. We see how, acthe mineral veins which they had trav- cordingly, he was disposed to retaliate, ersed in their course : in one word, it is from the conversations recently pubthat she is a poet.
lished in the Dublin Magazine-converWe would not be understood as setting sations which, aside from the poetical Mrs. Welby above the author of the resentment just alluded to, bear the most Pleasures of Hope, and the Gertrude of characteristic marks of their infamous Wyoming, upon the ordinary principle of genuineness, and for which the only poetic rank. Far otherwise. We have palliation we have seen suggested, canendeavored to explain the qualified sense not be allowed by the moralist in extenof this rank which has governed us in the uation of calumny, as it is not admitted comparison; and, moreover, have declared by the law, in excuse for crime. the superiority only in reference to a But our affair is with the poet. And single composition of each. For the as, respecting Campbell in this quality, rest, we do not flinch from avowing our we have ventured thus to express a very general opinion of Campbell; it is, that wide dissent from the common estimate, his poetry--much of it-has been greatly it may be proper (as far as our nearly overrated, judging it even upon the estab- exhausted space will permit) to offer lished standard. He has written some something more satisfactory than asserlyrics, spirited really, but which, perhaps, tion, and fairer than the example already owe their fame no less to the circum- before the reader, in justification of so stance of having been addressed to the bold a heresy; if but to show that our strongest of national prejudices, and at a judgment is, at least, not rash, however crisis when a succession of victories had it may still be considered not reasonable. inflamed these prejudices into national Our instances will be taken from the enthusiasm. Conjunctures of this kind, most considerable poems of the author, sagaciously seized, have often made the the two upon which he has rested, and fortune of worthless books, as well as of upon which rests, in fact, his fame. Our worthless men. And reputation once purpose might be suited, almost at ranobtained, right or wrong—but especially dom, from any page of “The Pleasures when the latter, because of the very in- of Hope.” We quote the opening lines anity—will, we know, be almost as irre as being naturally the most elaborated : versable as a Persian law, so long as
At summer eve, when heaven's ethereal nineteen-twentieths of mankind are no
bow better than an echo of the residue. Camp- Spans with bright arch the glittering bell was a man of fair capacity--of finelycultivated taste of uncommon diligence Why to yon mountain turns the musing eye, of application ; but, above all, who econ Whose sun-bright summit mingles with omized his parts and timed his projects, (of
the sky? which we have just seen an instance,) Is this description natural ? Are cerwith that singular shrewdness of his tain features of the scene-the hills nation, over which even the proverbial below," and the “ mountain yonder,"~
not somewhat incongruous or confused ? we above suggested,) with the parting Does not the one pre-suppose the poet of Conrad and Medora, that we select for in the rainbow, the other on the earth ? our last extract, the analogous scene beBe this as it will, we are very confident tween Waldegrave and the dying Gerthat some of the epithets are what the trude. But we are engaged to justify French term oiseuses, to say no worse. our depreciation of Campbell, also, from These are blemishes, however, from the production of his which contains that which few, perhaps, are free, except poets celebrated scene; and think it best, for of the first class; and freedom from them equity's sake as well as brevity's, in lieu may, for this reason, be relied upon as of a multiplicity of proofs, for which only among the surest signs of that class. room is wanted to commit the issue upon Search even the most purely descrip- a single passage, which is deemed by all, tive of the poems of Byron, for example: and justly, to be the most finished of the you will not find a half-dozen epithets, poem, both in sentiment and expression. in as many thousand verses, which do Gertrude, expiring of her wounds, is not contribute either to the significance, represented as making an allocution, the light, or the color of the picture. which, besides being as long as a “ ConAgain—to descend to grammar. The pre gress speech,” seems to us to be, much position “at,” &c., is not English. We of it,'not very feminine to say—however say, at sunrise, at noon, at ten o'clock; natural it may be to feel—in this at least, but nol, at morning, at evening, at to or indeed on any, occasion. As, for morrow. In, or on, (the) is the proper par example: ticle in the latter cases, because the words
“ Clasp me a little longer on the brink morning, evening, &c., denote a continu
Of fate! while I can feel thy dear ca. ous portion ; whereas, “at” is applicable
ress," &c. only to an individual point of time.
Byron would have been shocked at “ Mingle” is, too, an incorrect metaphor. And these are the lines—a fair if not a
this, all-voluptuous as he was accounted;
which serves to show how much more favorable sample, we aver-which intro
delicately, as well as skillfully-skill. duce a composition known to have been re-written at least a dozen times! In pur
fully because delicately—these things are suance of our mode of appreciation by
treated by the voluptuousness of the man comparison, let us now set in juxta-posi
of genius_than by the prudery of the tion with the above lines an equal num
pedant. Farther on, however, Gertrude ber, and descriptive of a scene quite
proceeds: similar, from the opening lines of the “ And must this parting be our very last ? “ Corsair” —a poem of equal or greater
No! I will love thee still when death itself length than Campbell's—and of which,
is past." also, we know that, unlike Campbell's, it was thrown off in a few nights by a
“Half could I bear, methinks, to leave this brain still dizzy from the whirl of fash
earth, ionable dissipation :
And thee, more loved than aught beneath “ Slow sinks, more lovely e'er its race be If I had lived to smile but on the birth
Of one dear pledge ;--but shall there then Along Morea's hills, the setting sun;
be none, Not, as in northern climes, obscurely In future times-no gentle little one, bright,
To clasp thy neck, and look resembling But one unclouded blaze of living light.”
me," &c., &c. This is description! This is Poetry ! The pathos and perfection of this turn Here we have, as it were, by a few mas has been lauded in all the superlatives of terly strokes of the pencil, presented us critical panegyric. It has not been always in the utmost precision of outline and remembered, perhaps, that the thought is vividness of coloring, one of the most borrowed literally; nor sufficiently reglorious views upon the earth. Mark flected, that it has suffered very materially the bold elegance of the word “obscure in the transplantation. Upon the former ly!” But it is, perhaps, unfair towards point we are not disposed to dwell; the Campbell himself-though not so to- second admits of less leniency. wards those who will not abate a jot of Virgil assuredly has not relaxed from the highest claims for him—to be set in his characteristic decorum (in the Latin even qualified contrast with Byron. amplitude of the term) in making Dido
It is not, therefore, to contrast it, (as say to the departing Æneas: