Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

which so highly exalt the final above the early editions of this noble poem. On first comparing them, I was startled to see vanished from the place they originally occupied, the Court of Winter—the sublimely pictured bear— the Russian Laplander, his sledge and his rein-deer; but, on proceeding, I found they had been judiciously removed, and reserved to produce a climax in the circumstances of hybernal dreariness. Those circumstances in the consummate publication, commense with the wintry Alps, Appenines, and Pyrennees, and their wolves; and in that part there is no change from the early edition, except that the involving precipitation of the thundering avalanches is added.

On the temporary dismissal of the scenic muse for the muse of history, we find the list of heroes, sages, and bards, of elder and later time, extremely swelled in this last edition-with perhaps too much display of learning respecting the ancients. We hail, with grateful pleasure, the tribute to the poets of his own day, and his affectionate eulogy to his amiable departed friend, Hammond.

The Attic evening, and its themes, has received little change;-nor yet the festal. sports of the village Christmas-night-nor the more elegant, nor the ruinous pleasures of the capital ;---but here is Lord Chesterfield introduced, and the apostrophe to him is not amongst the valuable acquisitions of this the latest revised copy.

In one of the finest parts of the whole collected Seasons, the passage in this, which begins, " What art thou frost," there are only four words changed, and one line omitted. Those few verbal changes are, however, all to good effect.

The description of skating is much improved, from taking in the perfection of that art in Batavia and Russia.

From the line which begins, “ But what is this four infant winter," &c. we meet with a grand accession of hybernal scenery, and perceive also the northern images, which we had missed from the elder copy, restored and interwoven here with more distinctness, and more local propriety.

In the Lapland scenery of the earlier edition, we find great local inaccuracy in one line, the harmony of which is exquisite; it is the last of the following three :

“ On sleds reclined, the furry Russian sits,
And, by his rein-deer drawn, behind him throws,
A shining kingdom in a winter's day.”

The poet forgot the six months length of a Lapland winter's night; that he was describing an ice

landscape, on which the day never rises; and that kingdom was a word very improperly applied to those regions.

In the last edition we find those three lines banished, and, in their room a more distinct and far more beautiful ice-landscape shewn to us beneath its proper horizon, lighted by moons, stars, and meteors, infinitely more luminous and vivid than they are ever seen in milder climates; but I regret to meet three prosaic lines, adhering to this fine description; I do not like, after being whirled by rein-deers over such a marbled expanse of hills, dales, and mountains, to be conveyed to Finland fairs.

Having taken much affront at the banishment of my old acquaintance of the early edition, the sublime and shapeless bear, I was right glad to meet him again in this part of the consummate poem, stalking along with his icicles dangling about him,

“ Slow paced and sourer.

There was no mending him ;-but here we have a Lapland spring, of which the elder edition makes no mention ;-and, having surveyed it, we pass over the Lake of Tornea, and over Hecla,“ burning amidst the waste of snows,”—all added scenery; and, in remotest Greenland, we find the Court of Winter, which had been less judiciously placed in the former copy. Thence, winding eastward to the coast of Tartary, we are presented with an improved picture of the frozen ocean, and a totally new description of the last habitable climate, and its sluggish inhabitants, on the dreary shores of the Obey—and with a spirited eulogium on the renowned Peter, civilizing his Russian empire.

And here end the material contributions, which the strengthened powers of the bard gave to this his sublimest poem.

The grand thaw appears nearly the same as in the earlier edition; it was there too perfect to want revision ;-and the noble conclusion remains the boast of his younger muse, and is perhaps the finest passage in the four priceless poems.Adieu!

LETTER XV.

Right Hon. LADY ELEANOR BUTLER.

Lichfield, June 4, 1798. Since I had the honour and happiness to hear from your Ladyship and Miss Ponsonby, I fear your mutual peace has again been cruelly annoyed by the struggles of rebellion in your native country, rallying her dark forces. Happily, however, they meet nothing but defeat. The opinion seems very general, that ere long they will be finally subdued. May it prove so for if Ireland should fall into the power of France, a similar fate for this country cannot be distant. May the attempt to overthrow constitutional government in Ireland be such as to blast the hopes, and wither the exertions of those in our own nation, who suffer their just indignation against the cabinet-council of London to pass the bounds of reason and humanity, who are endeavouring to establish the tyranny of democratic sway in these dominions, though they perceive the lawless oppression it has produced in France, where extent of empire presents

« ПредишнаНапред »