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Mind; and both in his different biographical memoirs, and in his History of Moral and Political Science, prefixed to the Supplement to the Encyclopædia Britannica, there ar some more exquisite characteristical notices of the genius of authors than have ever, perhaps, been given by any other writer. It is, indeed, the peculiar excellence of this critic, that he never fails to discriminate the most delicate shades of an author's genius, while, by a happy mode of conveying his impressions, he discovers that he had perfectly ascertained all the strength and weakness of those various and intermingled operations of mind which must take place in the composition of any literary work. Mr Hazlitt, on the other hand, is remarkable for the readiness with which he appreciates the specific merits of a work, or points out its particular beauties or blemishes, without much relation to those powers and processes from whose active instrumentality only the work could have arisen. Yet it must be confessed that this quality often leads him to the very verge of extravagance, and that, in seeking to convey a distinct idea of some peculiarity of a composition, he is apt to employ expressions which are fitted to leave a very different impression upon the reader from that which the critic intended to convey.
literary gentleman of that city: "Ay,
In reading Mr Hazlitt's criticisms, we have frequently been disposed to apply to him the same observation which he has repeatedly made respecting the chief defect of Mr Kean's acting, namely, that it has too much brilliancy, too many glancing lights, pointed transitions, and pantomimic evolutions. The finest philosophical critic in our language is, unquestion ably, the eloquent and profound author of the Philosophy of the Human
Some such apology as this, we think, must be made for the very unexpected tone in which Mr Hazlitt has spoken of the poetry of Campbell. "The Pleasures of Hope," says our critic,
is of the same school with Rogers's Pleasures of Memory, a school in which a painful attention is paid to the expression, in proportion as there is little to express, and the decomposition of prose is substituted for the composition of poetry." We confess, however, that, notwithstanding the excuse we have already suggested, this decision still strikes us as one of the most unexpected we have ever met with. The works of Campbell were among our earliest favourites. We still look back with much delight to the time when we gathered every floating production of his pen as a precious relic which could not be overrated; and, though other poets of a very different character, and much more obtrusive in their claims, have since engaged our attention, we
yet feel that we were not wrong in the opinion we had formed of his transcendant merits; and we doubt not that we should be able, had we room to express all that we have to say upon this topic, to convince even Mr Hazlitt himself that our opinion
There is, we allow, a specics of poetry in which a painful attention is paid to the expression, in proportion as there is little to express. There are men of weak imaginations and feeble passions, who yet have a sense of elegance about them, that leads them to admire the mere decoration of thought, and whose small labour is directed to the very humble task of burnishing and polishing those trinkets of sentiment, which, but for such rubbing, would not be worth attention. Mr Campbell, most assuredly, is not such a man; and we scarcely know a greater mistake into which a critic could fall, than that of confounding the care which this poet has taken to give thoughts of the very finest quality, that rich setting which alone was suited to their value, with the minute painfulness of those small dealers in words and emptiness we have already mentioned. Mr Hazlitt knows well that there is a spirit in Nature which can never be exhaust ed;—that, as there are minds which hear only her loudest tones, and are struck only by her most obvious expressions, there are others who are admitted to the contemplation of those holier wonders which belong to her as a fragment of the universal kingdom,-who drink of a deep and pure fountain that had altogether escaped the observation of less perfect souls, -who feel an immensity of passion connected with their thoughts, to which the ordinary language even of poetry is inadequate, and who, under the influence of the inspiration to which they thus are subject, must purify, and enlarge, and brighten their expression, to make it in any degree correspond with that intensity of emotion which they feel to be connected with every object that inspires them. This, we apprehend, is the character of mind which belongs to the poet of whose genius Mr Hazlitt has formed so inadequate a conception. Other votaries of the Muse seem to feel occasionally the inspiration of their divinity, and there is none of
them who does not, in such moments, testify his regret that human language, even in its most exquisite form, is yet so inadequate to express the emotions which he experiences. The author of the Pleasures of Hope is, in every moment of composition, in this state of inspiration. The light of his fancy beams with unutterable splendour upon every object to which his eye is directed, and, where other poets see only a richer colouring of ordinary Nature, he perceives the immortal verdure, and breathes the empyreal air of the heavenly kingdom. It is not, therefore, because he has little to express that this author labours his expression, but because he has an inexhaustible store of those celestial thoughts which cannot be conveyed in ordinary language; and we have not a doubt, that, even when his expression seems to be richest and most happy, it yet appeared to the mind of the author himself to be but a feeble symbol of that inward delight with which he yielded to the dominion of the power that inspired him.
Mr Hazlitt has quoted two instances to show how much the sense and keeping in the ideas are sometimes sacrificed by this poet to "a jingle of words and epigrammatic turn of expression;" and, looking upon these instances with the unawakened eye of a verbal critic, and with no regard to the high enthusiasm under which the poet wrote, we should, perhaps, be disposed to assent to the justness of the remark; but, to show how falsely any one should judge of the merits of Campbell's style from such detached instances, we would take the whole passage from which either of these lines is chosen, and we will venture to abide by the decision of any unprejudiced reader, whether they be not instances, taken altogether, of the most consummate beauty and richness of language that is any where to be found within the whole compass of poetry. Let us take the first passage.
"And mark the wretch whose wanderings
The world's regard, that soothes, though
Whose erring heart the lash of sorrow bore,
productions there are so few passages which no individual is able to repeat? This we regard as a decisive test. The works of many other very popular poets are read, and talked of, and forgotten; it is pleasing to peruse them as an amusement for the time, though they are not judged worthy of being incorporated with the furniture of the mind,-and, provided we have some general idea of their merits and subjects, we are satisfied that we have done them no injustice by the hasty perusal we have thought it proper to bestow on them. We believe, however, that there are few passages in Campbell's poetry, which even the most fastidious reader would not think it worth his while to learn by heart; and, while we regret that this author has so seldom consulted, during recent years, either his own reputation, or the pleasure of his admirers, we feel that we should still look forward, amidst all our familiarity with the quantities of much-lauded poetry, fusion of the genius of Campbell, with which are daily produced, to any ef
a degree of intense and delightful expectation, which the annunciation of
"Health in the breeze, and shelter in the few other literary works would be able storm!"
Condemn'd on Penury's barren path to
Scorn'd by the world, and left without a
Even he, at evening, should he chance to
Where round the cot's romantic glade are
The blossom'd bean-field and the sloping
Leans o'er its humble gate, and thinks the while,
Oh! that for me some home like this would smile,
Some hamlet shade, to yield my sickly
There should my hand no stinted boon as-
To wretched hearts with sorrows such as
And Hope half mingles with the poor man's prayer."
Who now thinks of the want of antithesis in the thoughts expressed in the line
Who is there, we will even venture to ask, that does not feel the image conveyed in the first half of that line, (in which, however, the chief fault lies,) to be one of peculiar beauty, and better adapted to express the feeling which predominated in the mind of the aged and forlorn wanderer, than any, perhaps, which could have been produced by the most scrupulous adherence to antithesis and point?
Although we have thus ventured to dissent from Mr Hazlitt on some topics, we must again profess that we entertain a very high opinion of his talents as a critic;-we consider his book to contain a very interesting and luminous history of the progress of poetry in this country, interspersed with many well chosen specimens from our various authors; and we are persuaded that Mr Hazlitt will not think us less warm in our admiration of his accomplishments, that we have been encouraged, by his example, to express our opinion with all sincerity and freedom.
The question is not, however, whether such faults of expression, arising, it is admitted, from over-nicety, do not occur in the works of this poet, but whether his language (take it altogether) be not in a richer and more
inspired strain, both of music and of ANECDOTES, HISTORICAL, LITERARY,
thoughts, than that of any other writer of the present day. We will venture to appeal, on this subject, to a single fact. Is there a poet among all those whom this country has produced, whose works have been so fondly committed to memory as those of Campbell? Is there an author now living who will find a greater number of persons capable of repeating some portion of his verses?-or in whose
Travels in England in 1641. A SINGULAR MS. has fallen into my hands, elegantly written, in quarto, intituled, Voyage d'Angleterre, faict en l'an 1641. It is not only interesting from the critical period at which it was written, but because it is the production of the Secretary of the
The whole work well deserves to be translated, on account of the views of manners and the political anecdotes derived from the first sources of information. I shall confine myself to extracts of striking passages. It opens
French Ambassador Extraordinary, of Maulny, distant about six leagues, dispatched in that year for the pur- in the hourly expectation of new inpose of accommodating the differences structions from the King, concerning between the King and Parliament, or the events then taking place in Engperhaps to view and report the real land, on account of the States Genestate of the country, and, above all, ral or Parliament then sitting, comto protect the Roman Catholics. posed of the nobles and of the populace, (commons,) the church being included in the former, and which had put to death the Earl of Strafford, Viceroy of Ireland, against the will of the King, who, though in London, did not dare to oppose the absolute power they had usurped."
He afterwards mentions a report that the embassy was to be deferred for three months, on account of the disorders of the London apprentices, who had dared to insult the house of the French resident.
"J'ay tousjours esté du sentiment. de ceux qui ont tenu pour certain qu'un jeune homme ne pouvoit jamais mieux employer un temps que nous perdons tous," &c.
"I have always been of the opinion of those who assert, that a young man cannot better employ that time which is often lost in our early years, amidst a thousand impertinent maxims and habits derived from the College, than in the fair theatre of the world, in studying new modes of life and the diversity of characters.
"It is thus that, in a few months, he may become an accomplished gentleman, and that, in two journies to Germany or Italy, he may be more improved than in passing ten years in the perusal of vast volumes written by pedants, and which, at the end, only produce embarrassment and confusion in the mind.
"This truth is so evident to all, that I must infer that I alone form an unfortunate exception, for, after eight or ten journies to various foreign countries, I had returned as ignorant as before, so much had my College habits taken possession of me.
"Hence I was induced to yet another experiment, to try if the air of the sea might not have more effect than that of the land, or, if it must be so, to ascertain that these travels only served to satisfy my curiosity, while they augmented the shame of my deficiencies.
"At length one of the ramberges* of the King of England arrived in the road of Dieppe, commanded by ViceAdmiral Murray, very polite and gracious for a Scotchman, mounted with 38 pieces of cannon of the calibre of 55 pounds, an equipage of 300 men, and provisions ample enough for six months.
"A large cabin, with two smaller, and two closets enriched with azure and many paintings, formed the apartments of the Ambassador, while our former ideas concerning seamen suffered an entire change, for we found so much politeness and magnificence in this little floating palace, (ce petit louvre flottant,) all his suite having each his cabin and bed, and being served with victuals so nice and delicate, that, lost in amazement, we rubbed our eyes, doubting if it were not a splendid dream, not conceiving it possible that, aboard a ship in the midst of the sea, and among a class of men regarded as rude and coarse, there should be such wealth, such order, such abundance and variety of food.
"The officers had received us aboard on the reflux of the tide, about eight in the morning, with repeated peals of cannon, and symphonies of trumpets, not forgetting pipes of tobacco, and brandy. We were all of us, however, constrained to pay the
"Amidst these anxieties, I left Paris on the 10th day of May, to go to England, in company with the Marquis de la Ferté Imbaut, Marshal of the Royal Camps and Armies, Ambassador of France. The same day, travelling post, I arrived at Rouen, where I waited for him near a month with much impatience. "He was then at his beautiful seat the period.
The common term at that time for what is now absurdly called a man of war.
I suppose ramberge is a Flemish term, as the Flemings were the great mariners of
"It was impossible to form a preference among so many beautiful faces as crowded all the windows to see us pass, having all generally such a sweet and polished hue and complexion, that I was in despair that, not knowing their language, I could not express to them the mingled admiration and astonishment of a stranger."
At Canterbury they went to see the Cathedral, and we must pardon the Catholic fanaticism of the author, who says, that we Protestants have turned into a mosque, for our criminal vows, a sacred temple, not a century before the refuge of the true religion. Such was a Catholic courtier during the reign of Cardinal Richelieu !
"At the break of day we departed for Gravesend, a distance of 35 miles, during which we saw a country as beautiful and fertile as the plain of St Denis. Touraine (called the garden of France) is not more interesting than this region,-the villages more closely set, the houses better built, or the fields more covered; especially near the large village of Rochester, which is chiefly observable on account of its bridge, furnished with high iron railings, that drunkards, not uncommon here, may not mix water with their wine.
• The author's liberal sentiments on all occasions (religion excepted) form a striking contrast with the recent French scrib