« FöregåendeFortsätt »
TIIoMAs Noon TALFound is a native of Reading, and was born about the year 1796. He was educated at a grammar school under Dr. VALpy, and in 1811, while yet a student in the classics, he published his first volume of poems. One of these early compositions is “On the Brotherhood of Mankind,” and another on “The Education of the Poor.” They won for him the acquaintance and friendship of Lord BRough AM, who advised him to work his way through literature to the bar. He studied his profession under Mr. Chitty, whom he assisted in his great work on the Criminal Laws. His earlier essays as an author were several pamphlets on religion and politics, and, in 1815, “An Attempt to Estimate the Poetical Talent of the Present Age.” He was called to the bar by the society of the Middle Temple in 1821, and in 1834 he was elected to Parliament, from his native town, by a large majority of all parties. He was returned again in 1839, but declined being a candidate in 1841. Previous to the publication of his great dramatic poem, he was only known on this side of the Atlantic as the author of various critical articles in the “New Monthly Magazine,” the “Edinburgh Review,” the “Encyclopedia Metropolitana,” and the “Retrospective Review,” written with much grace of style, and abounding in metaphor and illustration. He was the fiend of LAMe, HAzlitt, HUNT, and the other members of the literary coterie of which they formed a part, and has repeatedly borne testimony to their genius and character, even at those periods when to praise some of them was to participate in their unpopularity. Of all the authors of the present age, however, he seems to have the most veneration for Wordsworth. He has poured forth the full wealth of his own mind in illustrating the poetry and poetical character of his idol. The publication of “Ion” gave him an immediate reputation both in Great Britain and in this country, a reputation which promises to be lasting. The two tragedies he has since produced, “The Athenian Captive,” and “Glencoe,” though of much merit, have
been overshadowed by the fame of his first effort. TALFound has earned the gratitude of men of letters by his celebrated defence of Moxon, who was prosecuted as the publisher of ShelLEY, and for his advocacy of the rights of authors, in various speeches in the House of Commons on the copyright question. His writings, whether in prose or verse, bear the marks of patient meditation and careful correction. They display a fine temper, large attainments, an affluent imagination, and great richness and fulness of diction. Few works of the age are characterized by such purity of thought, or display a deeper love and reverence for beauty and goodness. The mildness of his disposition, his tenderness of feeling and sentiment, the calm, brooding spirit diffused over his compositions, and his tendency to overload his diction with glittering words and images, have subjected him, at times, to the charge of effeminacy and euphaism; but there is no lack of true power discernible in him, if we pass behind the profuse ornaments of his style, to the thought and emotion they are intended to decorate. No recent age has produced in England more fine dramatic poetry than the present.
Of the acted dramatists, TALFourd, Bulwer,
and KNow LEs have been most successful. It is wonderful, considering the condition of the stage, that the faultless, classical poetry of “Ion” was received with such applause. BRow NING, author of “Paracelsus” and “Strafford,” MARstoN, author of the “Patrician's Daughter,” and others, have written pieces full of passionate and imaginative poetry, but failed of audience, except in the closet, and after a few efforts, unsuccessful with the managers, have abandoned the dramatic for the epic or lyric forms of composition. A collection of TALFourD’s “Critical and Miscellaneous Writings,” comprising all his more important contributions to the literary magazines, was published by Carey and Hart in 1843, and about the same time Moxon brought out in London a complete edition of his tragedies and minor poems. 297
TO THE MEMORY OF A child NAMEd AFTER CHARLES LAMB.
Ovn gentle Charles has pass'd away, -
And left to us its leaden day
Here, by the restless ocean's side, Sweet hours of hope have flown, • When first the triumph of its tide * Seem'd omen of our own.
That eager joy the sea-breeze gave, When first it raised his hair,
Sunk with each day's retiring wave, Beyond the reach of prayer.
The sun-blink that through dazzling mist,
Far waves with feeble fondness kiss'd,
Yet not in vain with radiance weak The heavenly stranger gleams—
Not of the world it lights to speak, But that from whence it streams.
That world our patient sufferer sought,
As if his mounting spirit caught
With boundless love it look'd abroad
Shone with a loveliness that awed,
A year made slow by care and toil
Since death's enrich'd with kindred spoil
Then Lamb, with whose endearing name Our boy we proudly graced,
Shrank from the warmth of sweeter fame Than ever bard embraced.
Still 't was a mournful joy to think
For years on earth, a living link
And though such fancy gleam no more On earthly sorrow's night,
Truth's nobler torch unveils the shore Where lends to both its light.
The nurseling there that hand may take None ever grasp'd in vain,
And smiles of well-known sweetness wake, Without their tinge of pain.
Though 'twixt the child and childlike bard Late seem'd distinction wide,
They now may trace, in Heaven's regard, How near they were allied.
Within the infant's ample brow
Which, all uncrush'd, may open now
Though the soft spirit of those eyes
Ne'er sparkle with a wit as wise,
That calm and unforgotten look
With his who never friend forsook
In thought profound, in wildest glee,
His guileless soul of infancy
From traits of each our love receives
While light which childlike genius leaves
And in that hope with sweetness fraught
To blend in one delightful thought
- LINES written AT THE NEEDLES Hotel, ALUM BAY, is LE OF WIGHT, AFTER A week SPENT AT THAT PLACE.
How simple in their grandeur are the forms That constitute this picture! Nature grants Scarce more than sternest cynic might desire— Earth, sea, and sky, and hardly lends to each Variety of colour; yet the soul Asks nothing fairer than the scene it grasps And makes its own for ever! From the gate Of this home-featured inn, which nestling cleaves To its own shelf among the downs, begirt With trees which lift no branches to defy The fury of the storm, but crouch in love [ceive Round the low snow-white walls whence they reMore shelter than they lend—the heart-soothed guest Views a furze-dotted common, on each side Wreath'd into waving eminences, clothed Above the furze with scanty green, in front Indented sharply to admit the sea, Spread thence in softest blue—to which a gorge, Sinking within the valley's deepening green, Invites by grassy path; the eastern down, Swelling with pride into the waters, shows Its sward-tipp'd precipice of radiant white, And claims the dazzling peak beneath its brow Part of its ancient bulk, which hints the strength Of those famed pinnacles that still withstand The conquering waves, as fortresses maintain'd By death-devoted troops, hold out awhile After the game of war is lost, to prove The virtue of the conquer’d—Here are scarce Four colours for the painter; yet the charm Which permanence, mid worldly change, confers
Is felt, if ever, here; for he who loves
With such luxurious beauty as the coast
The blessings which the weak and poor can scatter Have their own season. "Tis a little thing To give a cup of water; yet its draught Of cool refreshment, drain’d by fever'd lips, May give a shock of pleasure to the frame More exquisite than when nectarean juice Renews the life of joy in happiest hours. It is a little thing to speak a phrase Of common comfort which by daily use Has almost lost its sense; yet on the ear Of him who thought to die unmourn'd 't will fall Like choicest music; fill the glazing eye With gentle tears; relax the knotted hand To know the bonds of fellowship again; And shed on the departing soul a sense More precious than the benison of friends About the honour’d death-bed of the rich, To him who else were lonely, that another Of the great family is near and feels.
The fame of those pure bards whose faces lie
ION DESCRIBED BY AGEN OR.
Ion, our sometime darling, whom we prized
YE eldest gods, Who in no statues of exactest form Are palpable; who shun the azure heights Of beautiful Olympus, and the sound Of ever-young Apollo's minstrelsy ; Yet, mindful of the empire which ye held Over dim Chaos, keep revengeful wrath On falling nations, and on kingly lines About to sink for ever: ye, who shed Into the passions of earth's giant brood And their fierce usages the sense of justice; Who clothe the fated battlements of tyranny With blackness as a funeral pall, and breathe Through the proud halls of time-embolden'd guilt Portents of ruin, hear me!—In your presence, For now I feel ye nigh, I dedicate This arm to the destruction of the king And of his race; O keep me pitiless: Expel all human weakness from my frame, That this keen weapon shake not when his heart Should feel its point; and if he has a child Whose blood is needful to the sacrifice My country asks, harden my soul to shed it!— Was not that thunder
ION AT THE ENTRANCE OF A FOREST. |
0 winning pathways, o'er whose scanty blades Of unaspiring grass mine eyes have bent So often when by musing fancy sway’d, That craved alliance with no wider scene o Than your fair thickets border'd, but was pleased To deem the toilsome years of manhood flown, And, on the pictured mellowness of age | Idly reflective, image my return | From careful wanderings, to find ye gleam With unchanged aspect on a heart unchanged, | And melt the busy past to a sweet dream s As then the future was;–why should ye now Echo my steps with melancholy sound As ye were conscious of a guilty presence? The lovely light of eve, that, as it waned, Touch'd ye with softer, homelier look, now fades In dismal blackness:–and yon twisted roots Of ancient trees, with whose fantastic forms My thoughts grew humorous, look terrible, As if about to start to serpent life, And hiss around me —whither shall I turn ?— Where fly —I see the myrtle-cradled spot Where human love, instructed by divine, Found and embraced me first; I'll cast me down Upon that earth as on a mother's breast, In hope to feel myself again a child.
The names that slow oblivion have defied,
--TO THE THAMES AT WESTMINSTER.
With no cold admiration do I gaze Upon thy pomp of waters, matchless stream' But home-sick fancy kindles with the beam That on thy lucid bosom faintly plays, And glides delighted through thy crystal ways, Till on her eye those wave-fed poplars gleam, Beneath whose shade her first ethereal maze She fashion'd; where she traced in clearest dream Thy mirror'd course of wood-enshrined repose Besprent with island haunts of spirits bright; And widening on—till, at the vision's close, Great London, only then a name of might For childish thought to build on, proudly rose A rock-throned city clad in heavenly light.
determined to devote his time to poetry. Mr. CHARLEs Cowden CLARKE, editor of “The Riches of Chaucer,” introduced him to LEIGH HUNT, then proprietor of the “Examiner,” in which appeared the first poems he ever published. “I shall never forget,” writes Mr. HUNT, “the impression made upon me by the exuberant specimens of genuine, though young, poetry, which were laid before me, the promise of which was seconded by the fine, fervid countenance of the writer.” They soon became very intimate. “We read and walked together,” says HUNT, “and used to write verses of an evening upon a given subject; no imaginative pleasure was left unnoticed by us, or unenjoyed ; from the recollection of the bards and patriots of old, to the luxury of a summer rain at our window, or the clicking of the coal in winter-time.” At this time KEATs was twenty-one; in the next year, 1817, appeared his first volume of poetry, and in the following spring, “Endymion.” They were badly received by the critics. Every one, we suppose, has heard of the bitter review attributed to Gifford, in the Quarterly, which, with Some show of reason, was said to have caused the poet's death. It was in the common vein of those critics who, misapprehending the nature of their vocation, read only to discover faults. The poems, with great and singular beauties, had, indeed, their blemishes, such as are common to young authors. They were diffuse, and abounded in strange words, and unallowable rhymes; but they contained noble passages, such as were never written by
His birth is said to have been pre-
any other author of so immature an age. It is best, generally, to point out with honest frankness a young writer's faults; too much censure is better than over-praise; but KEATs was morbidly sensitive, quite unfit to bear the unsparing ridicule and invective with which his works were greeted, embittering the residue of his brief life, if they did not cause his death. After the publication of “Endymion,” KEATs made excursions into Scotland, and to the south of England and the Isle of Wight. During a severe illness which followed, he was watched over with tender solicitude by his friends Mr. CHARLEs Brown and LEigh HUNT. Though depressed, he was not disheartened, and he wrote in two years his “Lamia,” “Isabella,” “Eve of St. Agnes,” “Hyperion,” and some minor poems, which were printed in 1820. “He sent them out,” says Shelley, with “a careless despair,” without confidence or fear. But the world was now prepared to render a different verdict upon his works. “Hyperion,” wrote ByRoN, “seems inspired by the Titans, and is as sublime as AEschylus.” Praise was not yet universal, but it came from the high-priests of genius. In October of this year, Keats left England, never to return. He sailed for Naples, whence he soon went to Rome. He lingered there, in gradual decline, until the year was nearly closed, gentle, and patient, and grateful for every kindness. He knew that he was dying. “I feel the daises growing over me,” he said one day, and at another time he requested that if any epitaph were put above him, it should be, “Here lies one whose name was writ in water.” He died on the twenty-seventh of December, 1820, and was buried close by the pyramid of Cestus, in the cemetery of the English Protestants, at Rome; “a place so beautiful,” says Shelley, “that it might almost make one in love with death.” “He was under the middle height;" says Leigh Hunt, “and his lower limbs were
small in comparison with the upper, but neat 2 C. 301