Abbildungen der Seite


tures-though few can conceive the sub incongruous realm of the Muses, is Mr. limities of the human mind more nobly, Wordsworth. In him all its beauties or its heavenly attributes more power exist in the highest degree, as also its fully, or have a more comprehensive or faults in the greatest number, though minute knowledge of the inost delicate we think they could be shewn more workings of the human heart. It seems Aagrantly from some others of the tribe, to be a kind of poetical materialism too, which proves that faults are generally to subject mind to matter, to bind down the landmarks of imitation. It is curithe imperishable spirit in the trammels ous to observe the modifications of the of perishable objects, which is a system system, as it has acted on differently uniformly preserved in the entire range constituted minds. Mr. Wordsworth of the Lake poesy.

seems to be the only man amongst Akenside himself, who seems to be them that can master it felicitously. one of the prototypes of the Lake bards, Mr. Coleridge is more gloomy, more shews how much inferior the poetry of metaphysical, more mysterious. No ! such feelings is to the “moral species,". prophet ever sat on the tripod with a

" the powers of passion and of higher air of mystery, or delivered thought.” Out of many beautiful in his dark oracles with deeper tones of stances I will quote the following sub- raving sublimity. It is a shadowy and lime passage.

dark thunder-storm in his hand, that Or is there in the abyss,

obscures all nature, where nothing is Is there, among the adamantine spheres

seen except from a few bright intermitWheeling unshaken through the boundless void, tent Aashes of lightning. Mr. Wilson Aught that with half such majesty can fill

seems to be too fanciful and not imagiThe human bosom, as when Brutus rose

native enough-to be too fond of turns, Refulgent, from the stroke of Cæsar's fate Amid the crowd of patriots; and his arm

delicacies, and quaintnesses, for the Aloft extending like eternal Jove

simplicity of its nature. It seems to be When guilt brings down the thunder, call'd aloud a black cloud over him, that he is On Tully's name, and shook the crimson sword

striving to colour into a rainbow, bnt of justice in his rapt astonish'd eye, And bade the father of his country hail,

he cannot make the lights and shades For lo ! the tyrant prostrate in the dust,

mingle delicately enough to make it And Rome again is free !

span the heaven as a natural arch. This is the opinion of the philosophi

It is in Mr. Montgomery's hand a cal Akenside. Would that his partial spent thunderbolt, all its fire quenched, imitators would adopt and profit by it- hands of the cockney bards and others, it


lost. When it is in the would that they were content to

is such a hybrid and incongruous species, Adapt the finer organs of the mind

that like that nondescript age of Juvenal's To certain attributes which matter claims :

mythology it can be illustrated from and not set up an exclusive supre- nothing in nature. The laureate belongs macy of matter over mind. But the to the school, but we would wish to Lakers seem to have vitiated the purity, raise him above it, from his creation of simplicity, and philosophy of their ad- character, and description of actions, mired models-Cowper and Akenside, and because though often extravagant by German exaggeration. For the he is never ridiculous till he comes same morbid sensibility manifested in under the influence of its silly affectathe creation of character and sentiment tion or incurable egotism-which is a and action in the one class of writers, is loathsome cancer inherent in its very natransferred to the feelings derived from ture; and I, self, mine, must be the tirethe visible creation, by the other. So some and eternal burthen of the song, that the Lake poetry is a sort of mongrel while there exists an imitator of the sysminstrelsy, made up of English truth tem. It must run in its essence, in its and simplicity, and German exaggeration very blood, from father to son, till its and eccentricity; of English meaning final extinction. In Mr. Wordsworth and German mystery, so blended, that alone it is in its native and natural soil. it takes an air of something novel, some He has a mind, meditative, mild, and times beautiful, sometimes ridiculous, philosophical, and a heart delicately and always so in exact proportion to the sensitive to all the impulses from visible predominant likeness it bears to one or nature, with a reflection and abstraction the other of the ill-mated partners of its capable of embodying and making mindparentage.

created and local existences in the The subject of the present article, human heart, of those spiritual feelings, the “Magnus Apollo” of this new and excited, from the impulse of natural

process, his

objects, by a communion of sense and worse, for they seem to suppose, through soul. In the happier effects of this a vain egotistical importance (of which mental

poetry is like a mild agrecable quality the most modest of autumn day, with quick and fleeting them has as much as would stock any successive alternations of sun and sha- ten poets, and those not of the most dow-or rather like a soft moonlight unassuming demeanour), because they night, where objects are not less lovely can write well when it pleases them, for being less defined, where those that they can cram folly and poetical impercan be seen, are seen more accurately tinence, like a nauseous drug, which than in the glare of day, and where the they even disdain to sweeten, down the distant scenes, though obscured by an throat of a nation's healthful taste, and impervious shadow, undefined and un- change the masculine strength and spidefinable to the most piercing ken, yet rits, and the true simplicity of the Engthe mysterious veil that envelopes them lish poetry into the weak and watery is so glowing, so mild, and so mellow, style of their affected childishness and that though we cannot admire them- fainting affectation. I wonder from selves, we admire the painted mist that which of the imaginative bards of their wraps them from our grosser sense with adoration, could they get the smallest its rich and delicate texture. But this foundation for such a flimsy superstrucspirit of abstraction when it soars into ture. Will they find any such cobwebs the region, or rather sinks into the woven in the brains of Spenser, Shakabyss of the “dark profound” of mysti- speare, Milton, Thomson, Akenside, cism, and bounds beyond the pale of Cowper, their great idols ? They will human reason, and even human imagi- plead the authority of the old ballads ; nation—at least of common reasons, and but even there the plea made by them common imaginations—is nothing but would be demurred to in any legitimate (to use words of his own)

or learned court of criticism. There is “ An instinct-a blind sense

an honest rudeness, a true simplicity, an Coming one knows not how nor whence unaffected description, a plain style of Nor whither going.”

sentiment running through those old And of what use is this blind sense legends, that but ill harmonize with the Of none.

It is more fantastic, more disingenuous affectation of style, sense, visionary, more superstitious, more mis- and feeling, that characterizes some of chievous than the second-sight in the Isle these insipid lucubrations. of Sky. The cause of this obscurity is Let us take any one of those ridicuplain. In the descriptions of the visible lous pieces of burlesque, for instance, world, these poets strive to describe the The Idiot Boy.In its story, its simple feelings excited by accidents, language, its conduct, its sentiment, it whích, like the simple ideas of Locke, is mean, improbable, uninteresting, can only be felt, but never defined—to affected and ludicrous. The story is the body forth in the tangible and corporeal adventures of a Fool's-errand; an idiot shape of language, these spiritual sensa. is sent for a doctor, who instead of bringtions, begotten by an intellectual con- ing the doctor, to be sure, with Mr. munion with nature, modified by the W’s accurate knowledge of the modes most refined sensibility, the most subtle of thought and habits of action peculiar abstraction, and the most abstruse me- to idiotism, is putting stars in his pocket taphysical imagination, vainly striving to or playing with a waterfall, (by the way, make words a “ mock-apparel” to “un- a sport Mr. W. is very fond of as well utterable thought.” Hence they are as his fool). But now let us consider obscure; hence they are mysterious. this piece of factitious impertinence,

But it is not against this I chiefly pro- and see whether it possesses any thing test; though its excess is a most inex- of true or natural simplicity or real feelcusable blemish, it is a fault that leans ing. Listen to the caparisoning of to virtue's side. These grand and subli- Johnny's Pony and the mounting of mated conceptions of nature, like many Johnny: Spirit of Homer! hide your other of its properties, must be obscure, diminished head. The horses of Mars but we can never read many pages be- were never harnessed with such “

ротр, , fore we are disgusted, with silliness, pride, and circumstance,” by Flight and rudeness, meanness, affectation, eccentric Terror; they are mean grooms when thinking and false simplicity, which compared to the fiddling-fadling of Betty when it is not mere babyism, degene. Foy!! Hebe hersell, preparing Juno's rates into perfect folly; and in wise men chariot-steeds, is a poor personage to wittingly writing in this manner is even her ! !

Why bustle ihus about your door,

Oh! " happy, happy, happy pair”!! What means this bustle, Belly Foy? Why are you in this mighly fret!

Johnny and his pony Shappy Johnny

Foy!! happier far than Johnny Gif Beneath the moon, that shines so bright,

piñ, both in the bard who sings your Till she is tired, let Betty Foy

travels, and in your good-humoured With girt and stirrup fiddle-faddle;

hack. Well

, Betty standing at the But wherefore set upon a saddle

door observes with joy Him whom she loves, her idiot boy?

How quietly her Johnny goes. Certainly a sensible question, wherefore set upon a saddle ) How will Mr.

She rejoices in his silence, sees him W. answer it? No doubt, he will say

turn "the guide-post right,” and watches there was no one else

him in maternal pride till he is out of

sight. To bring a doctor from the town, Or she will die, old Susan Gale.

Burr, burt—now Johnny's lips they burt

As loud as any mill, or near it, Even the harnessing of the celestial

And Johnny makes the noise he loves, steeds for the chariot of the sun sinks And Betty listens glad to hear it into insignificance before the prepara

We are told a line or two above that tion of Betty's pony, which being brought home, after, we do not know whether

Betty rejoiced in the silence of her idiot “ feeding in the lane,” or “ drawing

boy—and really Johnny's lurr must have home faggots from the wood," either" in

been “ as loud as any mill, or near it,”. joy,” or “in pain," (as if it concerned

if Betty heard it after he was out of us to know whether he was not blind or

sight. spavined,)

Well Johnny goes on :

The owlets hoot, the owlets curt, - Is all in travelling trim,

And Johnny's lips, they burr, burt, burt, * And by the moonlight, Betty Foy

As on he goes beneath the moon. Has up upon the saddle set, (The like was never heard of yet)

We wonder much it was beneath the (We doubt not that indeed)

moon,- the moon, no doubt, drawn Him whom she loves, her idiot boy.

down from heaven by the attractive Well, Johnny is up without “ boot” or

harmony of this divine duet between "spur,” or “whip” or “ wand," but Johnny's burring and the owlets curring, armed with his holly bough,” he makes

should have been dancing under his a hurly-burly now. Betty now gives

pony's feet. We are now treated with a him her directions her last admonition most novel and original description of is really excellent-it is simple and

the good-humour of the pony. loving and maternal ! Phæbus's advice

For of this pony there's a rumour,

That should he lose his eyes and ears, to Phaeton will not bear comparison

And should he live a thousand years with this address.

He never will be out of humour. Johnny! Johnny! mind that you Come home again, nor stop at all

This would be strange if we could Come home again, whate'er befal

believe the next line. My Johnny, do, I pray you do."

But then he is a horse that thinks. Johnny answered with “his head and Balaam's ass spoke, and Achilles' with his hand,”

horse prophesied-no doubt a greater And proudly shook the bridle too.

gift; but Mr. Wordsworth makes us The following description of Johnny's acquainted with the pony's habit of joy after being mounted, is superlative. thought in the very next líne. What is the delight of Phaeton after re- And when he thinks his pace is slack. ceiving the reins from his father to it! We wonder he did not make him fold But when the pony moved his legs,

his fore-legs over his breast-sure it Oh! then for the poor idiot boy !

would be natural!! Yet we think the For joy he cannot hold the bridle,

following lines rather tend to shake our For joy his head and heels are idle, He's idle all for very joy.

implicit credency in the thinking faculty

of this intellectual nag. And while the pony moves his legs, In Johnny's left hand you may see

Now though he knows poor Johnny well, The green bough 's motionless and dead :

Yet for his life he cannot tell The moon that shines above his head

What he has got upon his back. Is not more still or mute than he.

Well, Betty now “not quite so flurHis heart it was so full of glee, That till full fifty yards were gone,

ried,” nurse-tends Old Susan, hands her He quite forgot his holly whip

the " porringer and plate," talks divertAnd all his skill in horsemanship.

ing things of Johnny, till his delay beOk! happy, happy, happy John.

comes matter of fear and suspicion; but

[ocr errors]

And all that to herself she talk'd


we will pass over the accurate registry deny him their aid. Heaven knows he of the hours, and tell only how would have served this double appren-,

Poor Susan moans, poor Susan groans, ticeship very ill, if he had nothing to while Betty avers, “He'll be back

shew for it but Johnny's Adventures, again” before eleven,

and such like olios of folly, impertinence, As sure as there's a moon in heaven.

and inanity. Still we are told what Well, 'tis twelve.---“The moon is in

Johnny might have been doing, viz. he

might ("no unlikely thought !") have heaven as Betty sees,” and yet neither

been bringing a star home in his pocket, Johnny nor the doctor appears. “Betty or, perhaps, like honest Jack when he is in a sad quandary;” she “is not quite hires a hack at Plymouth, at ease," a strong expression for mater

He's turu'd himself about, nal affection--at length

His face unto his horse's tailThe clock is on the stroke of one,

or---r---or--but the Muses, inost unand away Betty sets out after Johnny, grateful hussies, whom Mr. W. loved being urged thus warmly by sick Susan, so well,” and has served so long, reject “ Nay, Betty, go! good Betty, go !"

his suit to tell half of what happened to And how she ran, and how she walk'd, Johnny.

But see with what a start of admiraWould surely be a tedious tale.

tion the bard kens Johnny again. BeNo doubt indeed !--Well, she sees hold the effective power of the passionJohnny in every object,

ate interrogatory: In bush, and brake, in black and

Who's yon that near the waterfall 'Twas Johnny, Johnny, everywhere,

Sits upright on a feeding horse ? till at the doctor's door

For a guinea, every reader knows as She lifts the knocker, rap, rap, rap.

well as Mr. W. But there is a doubt The doctor peeps out, “rubbing his

whether every one will equally recognize old nightcap.” Betty Foy did not care ;

him with that fervent warnth of the and we are sure we would not, if it was poet, with that mixed feeling of love a new Welsh wig the doctor rubbed. and wonder so finely described in this Well, she gets no tidings from the doc- line, tor, whom, as bad a messenger as her Tis Johnny! Johnny! as I live. son, she forgets to send

To be sure, Betty knew him ; shes To comfort poor old Susan Gale,

runs up, and Johnny burrs as usual.

This shews Mr. Wordsworth's great art and passes on through the silent town, and on part of the road back, and yet the creation of character---one of the

in the epopeia;

it shews his power in in the Fairy Tale, Mr. W. almost hears highest prerogatives of the poet. Johnny the grass growing. The owlets, “ fond

is the only hero, with whom we are acas lovers,” are shouting to each other, quainted, that preserves consistency of nearly, " yet not quite

hob nob." Betty action throughout--he is equally unique “ bent on deadly sin.” She

in the beginning, middle, and end. He

burrs. He is “ simplex duntaxat et perceives a pond, but she runs away

unus.' from it,

The following lines, expressive

of Betty's joy on the recovery of JohnLest she should drown herself therein.

ny, are really unequalled, in the entire This is the best prescription that range of the poetry of feeling, for simple could be given to any person smitten pathos, delicate feeling, and real knowwith the insanity of drowning himself. ledge of the human heart and of human i

Well, Betty at length sils down ; no actions, caused by such situations as doubt, 'twas time for her to rest. Tis that of Betty Foy!! a wonder Mr. W. with his usual in

And now she's at the pony's tail, teresting minuteness did not detail what And now she's at the pony's head, she did as well as what she thought. On that side now and now on this; Well, she thinks of the sagacity of the

She's happy here, she's happy there, pony, and after that, if she met with

She is uneasy everywhere. bfty ponds, she would run away from them all. We are now very near getting She pats the pony, where or when an entire bistory of Johnny's adventures; She knows not, happy Beliy Foy! but the Muses, to whom Mr. W. has

After this unutterable joy, so unutbeen bound

terably described, Betty's short address, These fourteen years, by strong indentures,

when, after the paroxysin of her feelings

[ocr errors]

now 18


had subsided, she regained the power of not stone-blind. Thus ends The Idiot utterance,

boy," “ with the owls," for Mr. W. “ Oh! Johnny never mind the doctor,

With the owls began his son, You've done your best, and that is all

And with the owls must end. is admirably fine! There might be an Very right. It was a song as long, essay written on the beauty, tenderness, drawling, and disagreeable as the owlet's and simplicity of it. To see its propriety

hoot; they should cease their notes toit must be thus analyzed : Johnny was gether. Yet the mention excites ansept for the doctor; he loitered and

other association in the inind. The burred away; did not bring the doctor; owl is Minerva's bird. Why should a caused the most heart-rending uncasi

Lissue of idiotry and folly begin or end ness to Betty Foy; might have been with any thing that could serve for an the death of poor Susan Gale. It was

emblem of wisdom. Betty Foy is a natural from all this, that Betty might happy name for a heroine. Who can speak harshly to Johnny about the doc- object to it? Does not Betty Foy sound tor. Some writers would make her do

as well as Lallah Rookh ? 'Will it not so; but Mr. W. with a deeper insight start a spirit as soon as Lallah Rookh ? into the workings of the heart, does Yes, it will; but it will be the spirit of otherwise. She found her son whom

ridicule. she thought lost; her sudden joy ba

I think this enough to prove, what I nishes all the anxiety of her recent would wish to prevent, the danger the sorrows, and the true heart of the mo- poetical taste of this country is in, if ther cries out with inexpressible truth

such a system of poetry be tolerated ; and tenderness,

though with minds of a natural taste, or Oh! Johnny never mind the doctor;

formed on just principles, it could be in and in the next line, with more accuracy

no danger. I think I need analyze of feeling, not only palliates, but strives Betty Foy was specimen enough of folly

more of these tuneful sillinesses. to approve of his conduct

and false simplícity---"ex uno disce om. You're done your best, and that is all.

nes.” Alice Fell, or her “wretched rag," She says no more ; another word would which seems not to be a purpureus spoil it.

pannus ;” and “Goody Blake and Harry Now Betty and Johnny and the pony, Gill” is really worth reading for a little returning home, meet with--whoin? information ; for instance, a man can Who is it but old Susan Gale,

get a knowledge why coals are dear, who comes hobbling up the road after and that they are so in Dorsetshire, them, being cured by the anxiety of For they come far by wind and tide. her mind. Thus the poet describes it : As also a man may learn, if he does not And as her mind grew worse and worse,

close his eyes, that he may have a Her body it grew better.

chance of distinguishing objects: Ye villagers, learn from all this to see And any man, who pass'd her door, the folly of engaging a doctor. Send a Might see how poor a hut she had. fool for him, and ye save the fees—it is As also that two poor old women live enough. Let him not come, and ye together in Dorsetshire in one small are perfectly cured by taking a walk of a cottage, for the advantage frosty night out of your warm bed in

By the same fire to boil their pottage. the height of a fever. The four travel

This is all we could glean from Harry lers now wending homewards, Johnny Gill's chattering and blankets, &c. &c. tells all his adventures very briefly, &c. except that industrious farmers “ like a traveller bold.”

should allow all the crones and gypsies (His very words I give to you)

in the country to tear down their hedges, “ The cocks did crow to-whoo, to-whoo, made for the preservation of their crops

and pasturage, lest their teeth should A good conception, in sooth, of idiot- “chätter, chatter, chatter still,” and ism, the cocks being the owls, that lest all the wool in Great Britain should Johnny was listening to all night, and prove insufficient to keep them warm. the sun the moon, which

A very pretty moral indeed!
-No doubt too he had seen,

I will quote the first stanza as a spe-
For in the moonlight he had been cimen of this precious production.
Froin eight o'clock till five,

Oh! what's the matter what's tiie matter? No doubt indeed! if Johnny were What is 't, that ails young Harry Gill?

And the sun did shine so cold."

« ZurückWeiter »