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whether we scamper down to Yately in a dog cart, to see Cannon thrash the cockney, or run off in the Leith packet to pass a few days with the author of Waverley, is a matter that admits of no hesitation. The first pleasure that asks us wins us--we then yield even to what would be pain at ordinary moments ; 'we verily believe that at such a climax of content, we could put ourselves upon the top of the Salisbury coach, and spend four-and-twentyhours of brandy-and-water and Havannahs, with Hazlitt, at Winterslow-hut.
“Oh que j'aime (nous aimons) l'inutile,” have we often exclaimed when these hours of “ far between” joys have arrived. But, on the 10th of July last, when this blissful consummation was perfected, we had an object, and a glorious one. We had our ANNIVERSARY to keep. We had to celebrate the completion of our first year. Alas! the Quarterly Review has lived to fifteen, and the Edinburgh to twenty-to say nothing of the senility of the British Critic, and the dotage of the Old Monthly Magazine and shall we too go on to a grave and respectable forgetfulness of our spirit and freshness !- Forbid it all ye good divinities that preside over happy memories and joyful hopes.
• Here be all the pleasures That fancy can beget on youthful thoughts, When the fresh blood grows lively, and returns
Brisk as the April buds in primrose season!" Be ye here, even though we should fill the editorial chair as long as Mr. Deputy Nicholls !
But we had to celebrate the completion of our first year and we went to that celebration with the proud consciousness of having seen the completion of our fifth number. We had all laid our plans wisely. We were to meet at Eton; there was that best of attractions, Mr. Garraway's claret-and that next best, the cherishing of old local attachments. ' Besides, the Etonians were to play a match with the Kingsmen, and Sir Thomas Nesbit was to be umpire, and Miss ********'s fair eyes were to rain influence. There could not have been a more fortunate concatenation of circumstances.
We were too eager and too happy to linger a moment in this hot and smoky metropolis. The town was getting thin, and we were got tired. The circles, those that were left, had nothing to talk of but the expected volume of Byron's Correspondence, and our publisher had bored us with that subject till we were exhausted ;-not to mention the two sheets and a quarter of Review that we ourselves had written, to appear simultaneously with that far-famed volume. The theatres were hot and the porter was heavy; and we had gone three nights to the Blue Posts without meeting any better puffer than two half-pay Cornets and a Cheesemonger from the East. There was positively no man of genius left about town but ourselves, Odoherty, Theodore Hook, Mr. Place, and the Opium-Eater--and we should have enjoyed the latter better in the Lakes. So we rose with the milk-man's first call, (we have forgotten the call of the lark and the linnet,) and, without waiting for our worthy Knight, and our equally-worthy knave Mr. Paterson Aymer, the learned sub-editor of this miscellany, we ascended the box of the Royal Windsor, by the side of Mr. John Bowes, a gentleman well known in the atmosphere of Classical Literature.
It gives us pain that either from want of attention or want of sleep, we are unable to repeat more than two jokes upon
the road, which fell from the laughter-moving lips of our vivacious coachman. These jokes, we have heard, are not quite new between Hyde-Park corner and the twentieth mile-stone; but they are not unfavourable specimens of Mr. Bowes' humour.
“ Pray coachman,” said a smart gentleman, after sundry luminous observations upon the unpleasantness of Brentford, the uncertainty of the weather, and the dearth of news a gentleman who had evidently set out upon a journey of extensive inquiry and observation, but whose starched collar and tight cravat were perilous enemies to the freedom of either." Pray coachman, what is that-ere machine in that-ere garden, which looks like one scaffold-pole set a-top of another, in a T fashion.” (It was a simple contrivance for drawing water.) " That Sir," said Mr. Bowes, " is a machine for drawing carrots in dry weather.” " Very curious indeed—the mechanical arts have reached a great excellence in this country." The other joke of Mr. Bowes was in changing horses at the Rose and Crown, Hounslow. A young lady popped her head out of a baker's shop window, and exclaimed, my
heart, how warm you must be upon the box, coachman.” “ Not so warm as in your oven, Miss Roll-y Poll-y," cried Mr. Bowes, with great gravity*."
Behold us landed at the Christopher. Mr. Garraway salutes us with his well-known bow of civility and independence; and we really felt a cordial pleasure in shaking this pillar of Eton by the hand, as there came over us such visions of his Royal Punch and Bishop, that carried us back to the well-head of our orthodoxy, both in church and state. Old Grey-Pate! thou look’st hale and thriving, and well dost thou deserve thy prosperity ;for an honester host never breathed the corrupting air of a public
* It grieves us much to say, for the credit of Mr. Bowes originality, or what of more importance for that of the aimable Miss Letitia-Matilda Hawkins, that we have just seen the same interesting anecdote told of a winemerchant and a baker's daughter, in that most valuable volume of " Memoirs, Facts, Anecdotes and Opinions," just published by this very original lady,
school. He never imposes upon juvenile palates--there is no lime in his sack.
Behold us landed at the Christopher, and Haselfoot, Heaviside, and half a dozen aspiring sixth-forms waiting for us at an Eton breakfast. An Eton Breakfast! But such delights are not for unholy eyes.
Our moderate repast, coming upon the tail of our hot journey, left is a little weary. We beg dístinctly to state that our weariness was not in the least connected with the slightest symptom of indigestion ;-for any ill-effects that might have arisen from five episodical kidneys were abundantly counteracted by three glasses of Curaçoa. "But we were too weary, rather too happy, for exertion ;—and Haselfoot, therefore, with that tact for which he is so distinguished, embraced a favourable opportunity of reading to us an article which he had been unable to complete for No. V, but which he wished to hand in towards the already abundant stock of No. VI:
SHELLEY'S POSTHUMOUS POEMS. '
Amidst the crowd of feeble and tawdry writers with which we are surrounded, tantalizing us with a mere shew of power, and rendering their native baldness more disgusting by the exaggerations and distortions with which they attempt to hide it, it is refreshing to meet with a work upon which the genuine mark of intellectual greatness is stamped. Here are no misgivings, no chilling doubts, no reasoning with ourselves as to the grounds of our temporary admiration; no comparison of canons, no reference to criterions of beauty. We feel ourselves raised above criticism, , to that of which criticism is only the shadow; we perceive that it is from sources like these that her rules, even where trué, are exclusively derived,-servants that know not their master's will, and we feel that we have no need of them, when all that they could teach us presents itself to us by intuition. It is a reviving feeling--a sense of deliverance and of exaltation; we are emancipated from the minute and narrowing restraints to which an habitual intercourse with petty prejudices almost insensibly subjects us; we breathe freely in the open air of enlarged thought; and we deem ourselves ennobled by our relation to a superior mind, and by the sense of our own capabilities which its grand conceptions awaken in us.
Such were the feelings--mixed, it is true, and alternating with feelings of a different kind-with which we perused the posthumous poems of Percy Shelley. We are aware that this expression of our sentiments will probably astonish some, and scandalize others. We know that public opinion (that opinion to which every one is now required to surrender the independent suggestions of his own reason and conscience, on pain of ridicule and obloquy) has doomed the name of Shelley to unmixed reprobation. We are a review-and-newspaper-ridden people ; and while we contend clamorously for the right of thinking for ourselves, we yet guide ourselves unconsciously by the opinion of censors whom we know to be partial and incompetent. Shelley was a leveller in politics this all knew; and they had been told that Shelley was an Atheist, that he was a man of flagitious character, and that his poems are nothing more than a heap of bombast and verbiage, of immorality and blasphemy. They believe implicitly what they are taught, and he who would disturb the fixed persuasion runs some danger of being himself involved in the obloquy which he would remove from another. We may be excused from ceremony in contradicting the decisions of an authority of which we do not acknowledge the legitimacy. Let it not be supposed that we are standing forth as the panegyrists of Shelley, when we state our belief that the outcry against him originated in other causes than his personal delinquency, whether literary or moral. It was not merely that he erred, but that his errors (so far as they were such) were unpopular, and that he was incapable of concealing them. Could he have truckled to the time, - could he have refrained from violating the majesty of custom, -could he have avoided collision with established interests, --could he have condescended, as many others have done, to mask his peculiar opinions under a decent guise of conformity, he might have remained undisturbed. Besides this, the extravagant lengths to which he carried his system afforded more than ordinary facilities for attack; his poetical errors, being errors of excess and not of effect, were peculiarly obnoxious to that kind of ridicule in which modern criticism delights to indulge; and, to crown all
, he was the friend of Leigh Hunt and Hazlitt. Hence the critics of one party assailed him without mercy; and as the vindication of his fame was not calculated to serve any temporary purpose, the critics of the other party forbore to defend him! Blackwood's Magazine first praised him, then abused him, and then praised him again. Their laudatory critiques were acute, vigorous, and written with a true feeling of the excellence which they extolled ; their attack was mere vapid banter, betraying its insincerity by its laborious feebleness. The author of the article on the Revolt of Islam in the Quarterly was, undoubtedly, a writer of a different cast from the re wer of Keats: we believe him to have been a conscientious, and even a benevolent man, whose simplicity : of mind had been impaired, as well as his natural perception of beauty deadened, by the habit of reviewing. Hence the scanty measure of cold praise doled out to a work of extraordinary beauty and still more extraordinary promise, a work saturated and glowing all over with poetry beyond example since the days of Comus; hence the harsh and captious tone of the review, so discordant with the subject; and hence the disproportionate space allotted to the confutation of his errors. His attacks on the writer's character are not to be confounded with the wanton personalities so common of late among periodical writers; they were made deliberately and on principle, under the idea (an erroneous one, as it appears to us) that Shelley's situation as promulgator of a new moral theory placed him without the pale of that courtesy which protects private character from public discussion. In the remarks of the second reviewer on Prometheus Unbound, there is some justice, as far as relates to the mysticism of the design, and the intricacy of the style; but when the reviewer asserts that Shelley has never written good poetry, he only proves his own insensibility to whatever is poetical." But we must not linger on this unpleasing subject.
Even if our respect for truth did not prevent us from insulting its dignity by a shew of deference to such assailants, it would avail little to set the public opinion right on a particular subject, unless we could at the same time eradicate the servile principle which is the endless source of errors on all subjects. Our only aim in these remarks is to impress on the reader the self-evident truth, that the intellectual as well as the moral character of Shelley's writings is to be judged of from the writings themselves. With respect then to his poetry, the question admits of a very easy decision. We might appeal to the whole series of his writings, from Alastor to Adonais; but we shall content ourselves with referring to a few passages. If the vision of Alastor in the first mentioned poem, his voyage, and death,-if the exquisite dedication to the Revolt of Islam, the storm with which the poem opens, the allegorical combat which follows, and the appearance of the mysterious Lady on the sea-shore, Laon's history of his early years in the second book, and the dream with which the third opens,—if the Æschylean opening of the Prometheus, and the choral songs at p. 72 and 94, (the latter of which the reviewer has selected, with his usual felicity, as a specimen of words without meaning,)—if the inimitable fragment beginning “ How wonderful is Death!” (to which we know not whether Milton himself, at the same early age, produced any thing superior,)-if the Hymn to Intellectual Beauty, the description of the garden in the Sensitive Plant," the lines beginning “ Away! the moor is dark beneath the moon,” and those written in Lechlade Church-yard * ; -we have selected these as being compara
* These two pieces ought to have formed part of the present volume, as Alastor, to which they were originally subjoined is reprinted. The former is emarkable for its singular and exquisitely beautiful versification.