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pastoral retirements and bowers of bliss ; and Milton himself soothes even his devils with a sort of ureasy repose ;-but Scott seldom deviates from the highway which leads to the catastrophe : his soldiers pluck no flowers by the road to decorate their arms: and save in the · Lay of the Last Minstrel,' the poet never allows his characters to pause and contemplate. In this he resembles Byron, and differs from all other poets. His verse is easy, flowing, and various, and, though resem. bling in many points that of the old romances, is decidedly original in all that is important.
Or his powers as a historian, I have already spoken. He took Froissart more for his model than he did Hume; though he speaks both to eye and mind, he chiefly consults the former. His battle scenes in his . Napoleon, are in a different style from those in his poems, because personal valour ruled in the elder days of war, as much as mind rules now. The Battle of the Pyramids is a moving and animated scene: the master mind of Napoleon triumphed, without much exertion, over the most magnificent body of cavalry the world perhaps ever saw : we are made to see, that individual valor is nought against the inilitary mathematics of the new school of conquest. The same may be said of the European battles, while to the scientific beauty of the Emperor's combinations, he adds the heady whirlwind charges of Murat of the Snowy Plume; the impetuosity of the intrepid Ney; the readiness of the spoiled child of victory, Massena; the sagacity and skill of Soult, and the heavy bravery of Vandamme. Nor is he less happy in his domestic pictures, though he loves most the camp and the battle—the siege and the storm. His style is too familiar now and then, and he sometimes wants brevity; he is, however, honest and fair in his estimates of public and private character; and one may answer many of his sternest critics, by asking them, could he, with any consistency, love alike the Napoleon of the year 1796, and the Napoleon of the year 1806?
His biographies, in which I include the characters of the novelists, as well as the lives of Dryden and Swift, have many sagacious and impressive passages, and are neither deficient in critical skill, nor in the perception and delineation of character. But they are too diffused, disconnected, and rambling. His comparison of Fielding and Smollett, is as just as it is beautiful; but his mind was too excursive to be limited long to the contemplation of one point: he failed here, in coniparison with his other works, from exuberance of fancy and over-abundance of knowledge. In criticism, he was airy and graceful, sagacious and profound, as the subject required: his estimate of Byron is nearer the truth than his estimate of Burns ; the station of the former gilds his follies, and makes his wildest and most licentious sallies pass for the brave things of a nobleman; while the rash sayings and reckless wit of the latter, are set down to the nature of the man, and imputed to a sort of studied contempt for the forms of society and gentle civilities of social life. I know not that he is so profound a critic as he is a pleasant and instructive one: he leads us towards his subject through beds of lilies, and along haunted brooks; and we grow so charmed with our guide, that we nearly forget the object of our journey.
All the qualities which enchained us in his poetry and history, are united in his romances : his historical epics were addressed more exclusively to minds polished by study, and to all who had any pretence to imagination : he appeals to the same feelings in his prose romances, but adds, what the other could not from its nature admit, the dramatic droileries and humbler humanities of rustic life. He has thus seized on the hearts of all ranks: the loftiest imagination will be pleased with his flights—which often approach the clouds, but never enter them; and the humblest intellect in the scale of Spurzheim cannot resist being moved with his familiar delineations—which often touch the debateable land of propriety, but never pass the border. It is this singular union of the higher and lower qualities, which raises him in my opinion-I speak from the pleasure a work affords me, and not by any rule—above all novelists who ever wrote, with the exception of Cervantes : he lives more in the upper, and as much in the lower air as Fielding; he has all the fertility of Smollett, but never caricatures; he has all the poetic fancy and tenderness of Wilson, brightened with sallies of wit, and the quaint, blunt humor of the clouted shoe; and he has a command over human character far more
extensive than all other novelists put together. The rapid vehemence of his narrative, which, like the morning sun, glances on the loftiest and most striking points of the landscape, is nothing compared with his portraits of individual character: here he is as inexhaustible as nature: they all belono also to the places where he puts them, as naturally as an acorn belongs to its cup: he gives us their likeness in a few happy touches, and then proceeds to endow them with sentiments, and lead them into action. Some authors are happy in having imag. ined one successful character: Scott has raised them in battalions; all vigorous in body and soul; their speech colored somewhat by their condition and means of knowledge; and all as different as a sensitive plant is from a Scotch thistle. In this, no one is worthy of being named with him, save Shakspeare; but Scott's sympathy with human nature is more generous and wide-reaching than that of the great dramatist, who has no Dinmonts, Headriggs, Ocbiltrees or Moniplieshis peasants are pye-coated fools; his citizens dolts or heroes of East Cheap. All · with Scott is easy: he never labors; he never seems to say the half of what he
could say on any subject, while most other authors write till the theme is exhausted. No other genius ever exercised over the world so wide a rule : no one, perhaps, ever united so many greal-almost god-like qualities, and employed them so generously for the benefit of the living. It is not to us alone that he has spoken: his voice will delight thousands of generations unborn, and charm his country while wood grows and water runs.
[It was stated in some of the journals that the debts of Sir Walter amounted to £60,000: a correspondent intorms us that the amount is now reduced to £ 53,000 ; and, as a set-off against this sum, the trustees have between 9 and £10,000 in hand, and his life insurance for £22,000, leaving a balance of about £21,000; which, we have no doubt, will be raised in the course of a week, the creditors settled with, and Abbotsford preserved for his family.)
JOURNAL OF CONVERSATIONS WITH LORD BYRON,
BY THE COUNTESS OF BLESSINGTON.
(Continued from page 209.) He is an extraordinary person, indiscreet to a degree that is surprising, exposing his own feelings, and entering into details of those of others, that ought to be sacred, with a degree of frankness as unnecessary as it is rare. Incontinence of speech is his besetting sin. He is, I am persuaded, incapable of keeping any secret, however it may concern his own honor or that of another; and the first person with whom he found himself tête-à-tête, would be made the confidant, without any reference to his worthiness of the confidence or not. This indiscretion proceeds not from malice, but, I should say, from want of delicacy of mind. To this was owing the publication of his Farewell,' addressed to Lady Byron,-a farewell that must have lost all effect as an appeal to her feelings the moment it was exposed to the public-nay, must have offended her delicacy.
Byron spoke to day in terms of high commendation of Hope's Anastasius ;' said that he wept bitterly over many pages of it, and for two reasons, first, that he had not written it, and secondly, that Hope had; for that it was necessary to like a man excessively to pardon his writing such a book-a book, as he said, excelling all recent productions, as much in wit and talent, as in true pathos. He added, that he would have given his two most approved poems to bave been the author of Anastasius.'
From · Anastasius' he wandered to the works of Mr. Galt, praised the “Annals of the Parish' very highly, as also · The Entail,' which we had lent him, and some scenes of which he said had affected him very much. “The characters in Mr. Galt's novels have an identity,' added Byron, 'that reminds me of Wilkie's pictures.'
As a woman, I felt proud of the homage he paid to the genius of Mrs. Hemans; and as a passionate admirer of her poetry, I felt flattered, at finding that Lord Byron fully sympathized with my admiration. He has, or at least expresses a strong dislike to the Lake school of poets, never mentions them except in ridicule, and he and I nearly quarrelled to-day because I defended poor Keats.
On looking out from the balcony this morning, I observed Byron's countenance change, and an expression of deep sadness steal over it. After a few minutes silence, he pointed out to me a boat anchored to the right, as the one in which his friend Shelley went down, and he said the sight of it made him ill.—You should have known Shelley (said Byron) to feel how much I must regret him. He was the most gentle, most amiable, and least worldly-minded person I ever met ; full of delicacy, disinterested beyond all other men, and possessing a degree of genius, joined to a simplicity, as rare as it is admirable. He had formed to himself a beau idéal of all that is fine, high-minded, and noble, and he acted up to this ideal even to the very letter. He had a most brilliant imagination, but a total want of worldly-wisdom. I have seen nothing like him, and never shall again, I am certain. I never can forget the night that his poor wife rushed into my room at Pisa, with a face pale as marble, and terror impressed on her brow, demanding, with all the tragic impetuosity of grief and alarm, where was her husband! Vain were all our efforts to calm her ; a desperate sort of courage seemed to give her energy to confront the horrible truth that awaited her; it was the courage of despair ; I have seen nothing in tragedy on the stage so powerful, or so affecting, as her appearance, and it often presents itself to my memory. I knew nothing then of the catastrophe, but the vividness of her terror communicated itself to me, and I feared the worst, which fears were, alas! too soon fearfully realized.
Mrs. Shelley is very clever, indeed it would be difficult for her not to be so, the daughter of Mary Wolstoncaft and Godwin, and the wife of Shehey, could be no common person.'
Byron talked to-day of Leigh Hunt, regretted his ever having embarked in the Liberal,' and said that it had drawn a nest of hornets on him, but expressed a very good opinion of the talents and principles of Mr. Fluni, though, as he said, 'our tastes are so opposite, that we are totally unsuited to each other. lle admires the Lakers- abhor them; in short, we are more formed to be friends at a distance, than near. I can perceive that he wishes Mr. Hunt and his family away. It appears to me that Byron is a person, who, without reflection, would form engagements wbich, when condemned by his friends or advisers, he would gladly get out of without considering the means, or at least, without reflecting on the humiliation such a desertion must infiict on the persons he had associated with him. He gives me the idea of a man, who, feeling himself in such a dilemma, would become cold and ungracious to the parties with whom he so slood, before he had mental courage sufficient to abandon them. I may be wrong, but the whole of his manner of talking of Mr. Hunt gives me this impression, though he has not said what might be called an unkind word of him.
Much as Byron has braved public opinion, it is evident he has a great
deference for those who stand high in it, and that he is shy in attaching himself publicly to persons who have even, however undeservedly, fallen under its censure. His expressed contempt and defiance of the world, reminds me of the bravadoes of children, who, afraid of darkness, make a noise to give themselves courage to support what they dread. It is very evident that he is partial to aristocratic friends: he dwells with complacency on the advantages of rank and station, and has more than once boasted that people of family are always to be recognized by a certain air, and the smallness and delicacy of their hands.
He talked in terms of high commendation of the talents and acquirements of Mr. Hobhouse ; but a latent sentiment of pique was visible in his manner from the idea he appeared to entertain that Mr. Hobhouse had undervalued him. Byron evidently likes praise: this is a weakness, if weakness it be, that he partakes in common with mankind in general; but he does not seem aware that a great compliment is implied in the very act of telling a man his faults-for the friend who undertakes this disagreeable office must give him whom he censures credit for many good qualities, as well as no ordinary portion of candor and temper, to suppose him capable of hearing their recapitulation of his failings. Byron, is, after all, a spoiled child, and the severe lessons he has met with being disproportioned to the errors that called them forth, bas made him view the faults of the civilized world through a false medium; a sort of discolored magnifying glass, while his own are gazed at through a concave lens. All that Byron has told me of the frankness and unbending honesty of Mr. Hobhouse's character has given me a most favorable impression of that gentleman.
Byron gave me to day a MS. copy of verses, addressed to Lady Byron, on reading in a newspaper that she had been ill. How different is the feeling that pervades them from that of the letter addressed to her which he has given me! a lurking tenderness, suppressed by a pride that was doubtful of the reception it might meet, is evident in one, while bitterness, uncompromising bitterness, marks the other. Neither were written but with deep feelings of pain, and should be judged as the outpourings of a wounded spirit, demanding pity more than anger. I subjoin the verses, though not without some reluctance. But while to the public they are of that value that any reasons for their suppression ought to be extremely strong, so, on the other hand, I trust, they cannot hurt either her feelings to whom they are addressed, or his memory by whom they are written. To her, because the very bitterness of reproach proves that unconquerable affection which cannot but heal the wound it causes: to him, because who, in the shattered feelings they betray, will not acknowledge the grief that hurries into error, and (may we add in charity!)-atones it.
! "TO # # * *
'I am too well avenged !—but 't was my right;
• Mercy is for the merciful !--if thou
I would not do by thee as thou hast done!' It is evident that Lady Byron occupies his attention continually ; he jo troduces her name frequently ; is fond of recurring to the brief period of their living together; dwells with complacency on her personal attractions, saying, that though not regularly handsome, he liked her looks. He is very inquisitive about her ; was much disappointed that I had never seen her, nor could give any account of her appearance at present. In short, a thousand indescribable circumstances have left the impression on my mind that she occupies much of his thoughts, and that they appear to revert continually to her and his child. He owned to me, that when he reflected on the whole tenor of her conduct-the