Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

flicted; for it brings no gain to the magistrate. Criminals guilty of the highest offences are kept in prison until they are forgotten, without any one knowing or caring about their fate. In the absence of the sovereign almost all the civil authorities have become totally corrupted, for there is no patriot to watch, and no public voice to awe them. The people appear sunk in apathy to all excepting gain; and the greater number of them crawl on with little hope, except to supply the cravings of hunger. The city, notwithstanding its populousness, exhibits all the marks of decay—buildings in ruins amidst its stateliest streets, and houses begun on a magnificent scale, and left unfinished for years. The foreign merchants, especially the British, who use it as a central port, give it an artificial life, without which its condition would be most wretched. In bidding farewell to this bright abode of degraded humanity, I felt it impossible to believe that it was destined gradually to become desolate and voiceless. Glorious indeed would be the change, if knowledge should expand the souls now so low and contracted, into a sympathy with the natural wonders around them—if the arts should once more adorn the romantic city—and the orange groves and lovely spots among the delicate cork trees should be vocal with the innocent gaiety of happy peasants, or shed their influences on the hearts of youthful bards. If, indeed, the people were awakened into energy, and their spirit was regulated by wise and beneficent governors, the capital of Portugal would assuredly become the fairest of cities.

[ocr errors]

MR. CHARLES LLOYD'S POEMS.*

[London Magazine.]

There is no more remarkable instance of the "cant of criticism," than the representation currently received as distinctive, whereby several authors, chiefly residing in the neighbourhood of the lakes, were characterized as belonging to one school of poetry. In truth, propinquity of residence, and the bonds of private friendship, are the only circumstances which have ever given the slightest colour to the hypothesis which marked them out as disciples of the same creed. It is scarcely possible to conceive individuals more dissimilar in the objects of their choice, or in the essential properties of their genius. Who, for example, can have less in common than Wordsworth and Coleridge, if we except those faculties which are necessarily the portion of the highest order of imaginative minds 1 The former of these has sought for his subjects among the most ordinary occurrences of life, which he has dignified and exalted, from which he has extracted the holiest essences of good, or over which he has cast a consecrating and harmonizing light " which never was by sea or land." The latter, on the other hand, has spread abroad his mighty mind, searching for his materials through all history and all science, penetrating into the hidden soul of the wildest superstitions, and selecting the richest spoils of time from the remotest ages. Wordsworth is all intensity— he sees nothing, but through the hallowing medium of his own soul, and represents all things calm, silent, and harmo

* Desultory Thoughts in London, Titus and Gisippus, with other Poems. By Charles Lloyd, author of Nugae Canorse, and translator of Alfieri's Tragedies, 12mo. 1821.

nious as his own perceptions. Coleridge throws himself into all the various objects which he contemplates, and attracts to his own imagery their colours and forms. The first, seizes only the mighty and the true with a giant grasp;—the last has a passionate and almost effeminate love of beauty and tenderness which he never loses. One looks only on the affections in their inmost home, while the other perceives them in the lightest and remotest tints, which they cast on objects the strangest and most barbarous. All the distinction, in short, between the intense and the expansive—the severe and the lovely—the philosophic and the magical— really separates these great poets, whom it has been the fashion to censure as united in one heresy. If we cast the slightest glance at Southey's productions, we shall find him unlike either of these, his associates—offering a child-like feebleness in contrast to Wordsworth's nerve—and ranging through mythologies and strange fantasies, not only with less dominion than Coleridge, but merely portraying the shapes to which they gave existence, instead of discovering the spirit of truth and beauty within them. Nor does the author before us, often combine with these by the ignorance or the artifice of criticism, differ less widely from them.— Without Wordsworth's intuitive perception of the profoundest truth's, or Coleridge's feeling of beauty, he has a subtle activity of mind which supplies the place of the first, and a wonderful power of minute observation, which, when directed to lovely objects, in a great degree produces the effect of the latter. All these three rise on some occasions to the highest heaven of thought and feeling, though by various processes—Wordsworth reaching it at once by the divine wingedness of his genius—Coleridge ascending to it by a spiral tract of glory winding on through many a circuit of celestial light—and Lloyd stepping thither by a firm ladder, like that of Jacob, by even steps, which the feet of angels have trodden!

The peculiar qualities of Mr. Lloyd's genius have never been so clearly developed as in the chief poem of the work before us. In his " Nugffi Canora," all his thoughts and feelings were overcast by a gentle melancholy, which rendered their prominences less distinct, as it shed over them one sad and sober hue. Even, however, in his most pensive moods, the vigorous and restless activity of his intellect might be discerned, curiously inquiring for the secret springs of its own distress, and regarding its sorrows as high problems worthy of the most painful scrutiny. While he exhibited to us the full and pensive stream of emotion, with all the images of soft clouds and delicate foliage reflected on its bosom, he failed not to conduct us to its deep-seated fountains, or to lay open to our view the jagged caverns within its banks. Yet here the vast intellectual power was less conspicuous than in his last poems, because the personal emotion was more intense, single, and pervading. He is now, we rejoice to observe, more "i' the sun," and consequently, the nice workings of his reason are set more distinctly before us. The "Desultory Thoughts in London" embrace a great variety of topics, associated in the mind of the author with the metropolis, but many of them belonging to those classes of abstraction which might as fitly be contemplated in a desert. Among these are " Fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute," —the theories of manners and morals—the doctrines of expediency and self-interest—with many speculations relating to the imaginative parts of literature, and the influences of religion upon them—all of which are grasped by the hand of a master. The whole range of controversial writing scarcely affords an example of propositions stated so lucidly, qualified so craftily, and urged with such exemplary fairness and candour, as in this work. It must, indeed, be admitted, that the admirable qualities of the argument render it somewhat unfit for marriage "with immortal verse." Philosophical poetry, when most attractive, seizes on some grand elemental truths, which it links to the noblest material images, and seeks rather to send one vast sentiment to the heart through the medium of the imagination, than to lead the mind by a regular process of logic, to the result which it contemplates. Mere didactic poetry, as Pope's Essay on Man, succeeds not by the nice balance of reasons, but by decking out some obvious common place in a gorgeous rhetoric, or by expressing a familiar sentiment in such forcible language as will give it a singular charm to all who have felt its justice in a plainer garb. In general, the poet, no less than the woman, who deliberates, is lost. But Mr. Lloyd's effusions are in a great measure exceptions to this rule;—for though they

are sometimes "harsh and crabbed," and sometimes too minute, they are marked by so hearty an earnestness, and adorned by such variety of illustration, and imbued with such deep sentiment, that they often enchant while they convince us. Although his processes are careful, his results belong to the stateliest range of truths. His most laborious reasonings lead us to elevated views of humanity—to the sense of a might above reason itself—to those objects which have inspired the most glorious enthusiasm, and of which the profoundest bards have delighted to afford us glimpses. It is quite inspiring to follow him as he detects the inconsistencies of worldly wisdom, as he breaks the shallow reasonings of the advocates of expediency into pieces, or as he vindicates their prerogatives to faith and hope. He leads us up a steep and stony ascent, step by step; but cheers us by many a ravishing prospect by the way, and conducts at last to an eminence, not only above the mists of error, but where the rainbow comes, and whence the gate of heaven may be seen as from the Delectable Mountains which Bunyan's Pilgrim visited.

We scarcely know how to select a specimen which shall do justice to an author, whose speculations are too vast to be completed within a short space, and are connected with others by delicate links of thought . We will give, however, his vindication of the enthusiastic and self-denying spirit, which, however associated with absurdity, is the soul of all religion and virtue.

Reasoners, that argue of ye know not what,
Do not, as mystical, my strain deride:
By facts' criterion be its doctrine tried.

The blind as well might doubt of sense and sight;

Peruse their lives, who thus have vow'd pursuit
Of heavenly communion: in despite

Of all your arguments ye can't dispute
Their singleness of heart: except ye fight

'Gainst facts, ye, self-convicted, must be mute.
Will ye deny, that they've a secret found
To baffle fate, and heal each mortal wound?

Will yo deny, to them alone 'tis given,

Who its existence, as a faith, embraced?
'Tis mainly requisite, to partake of heaven.

That the heart's treasures there should first be placed.

« ПредишнаНапред »