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wedge by which the work was enabled to insinuate its way into that venerable block, the British public. The high claims inferred at once in the direct appeal to general attention, and scorn of general feeling, were supported by powers equal to such pretensions. He who despised the world intimated that he had the talents and gemius necessary to win it if he had thought it worth while. There was a strain of poetry in which the sense predominated over the sound; there was the eye keen to behold nature, and the pen powerful to trace her varied graces of beauty or terror; there was the heart ardent at the call of freedom or of generous feeling, and belying every moment the frozen shrine in which false philosophy had incased it, glowing like the intense and concentrated alcohol, which remains one single lnt burning drop in the centre of the ice which its more watery particles have formed. In despite of the character which he had assumed, it was impossible not to see in the Pilgrim what nature designed him to be, and what, in spite of bad metaphysics and worse politics, he may yet be, a person whose high talents the wise and virtuous may enjoy without a qualifying sigh or frown. Should that day arrive, and if tiine be granted, it will arrive, we who have ventured upon the precarious task of prophecy-we who have been censured for not mingling the faults of genius with its talents—we shall claim our hour of heartfelt exultation. He himself, while deprecating censure on the ashes of another great but self-neglected genius, has well pleaded the common cause of those who, placed high above the croud, have their errors and their follies rendered more conspicuous by their elevation.
• Hard is his fate on whom the public gaze
Is fix'd for ever to detract or praise ;
Who track the steps of Glory to the grave.' For ourselves, amid the various attendants on the triumph of genius, we would far rather be the soldier who, pacing by the side of his general, mixes, with military frankness, censure amid his songs of praise, than the slave in the chariot to flatter his vanity by low adulation, or exasperate his feelings by virulent invective. In entering our protest therefore against the justice and the moral tendency of that strain of dissatisfaction and despondency, that cold and sceptical philosophy which clouds our prospects on earth, and closes those beyond it, we willingly render to this extraordinary
poem the full praise that genius in its happiest efforts can demand
The plan, if it can be termed so, hovers between that of a descriptive and a philosophical poem. The Pilgrim passes from land to land, alternately describing, musing, meditating, exclaiming, and moralizing; and the reader, partaking of his enthusiasm, becomes almost the partner of his journey. The first and second Cantos were occupied by Spain and Greece--the former, the stage upon which those incidents were then passing which were to decide, in their consequence, the fate of existing Europe; the latter, the country whose sun, so long set, has yet left on the horizon of the world such a blaze of splendour. It is scarcely necessary to say, that in both countries, but especially in the last, the pilgrim found room for meditation even to madness. The third Canto saw Childe Harold once more upon the main, and traced him from Belgium to Switzerland, through scenes distinguished by natural graces, and rendered memorable by late events. Through this ample field we accompanied the Pilgrim, and the strains which describe the beauties of the Rhine and the magnificence of the Leman lake, are still glowing in our ears. The fourth Canto now appears, and recals us to the immediate object of the present article. The poem opens
in Venice, once the mart of the universe
a dying Glory smiles
Look'd to the winged Lion's marble piles,
Where Venice sate in state, thron’d on her hundred isles ! The former greatness of this queen
of commerce is described and mingled with the recollections associated with her name, from the immortal works of fiction of which she has formed the scene.
The keystones of the arch! though all were o'er,
Essentially immortal, they create
Watering the heart whose early flowers have died
And with a fresher growth replenishing the void. That this is true in philosophy as well as beautiful in poetry ; that fiction as well as reality can impress local associations of the most fascinating kind, that not alone the birth-place or tomb of the man of genius, but the scenes which he has chosen for the action of his story remain dear to our memories, and have to our ears and eyes a fascinating charm, was repeatedly experienced during the Peninsular war. Spain, separated by the ocean and the Pyrenees from the rest of Europe, and seldom in collision with Britain, save when we have encountered her fleets upon the seas, lying also beyond the ordinary course of travellers and tourists, has little familiar to us as readers of history or as members of British society. But the authors of fiction had given associations to this country of the most interesting kind, to supply the deficiencies of the slender list afforded by history or conversation. The British officers rushed with the eagerness of enthusiasm to find in the tower of Segovia the apartment from which Gil Blas, in his captivity, looked over the wanderings of the Ebro:--even the French dealt mildly with the city of Toboso, because it had given name to the celebrated Dulcinea; and amid the romantic deserts of the Sierra Morena the weary step was render lighter to the readers of Cervantes, who at every turn of their march among the landscapes which he has described with such exquisite truth and felicity, expected to see the doughty knight-errant and his trusty squire, or the beautiful vision of Dorothea, when she was surprized in boy's attire washing her feet in the rivulet. Such is the prerogative of genius! and well may it be celebrated by one who has himself impressed associations upon so much scenery, which will never, while Britons speak their present language, be seen without recollecting the pilgriin and his musings.
The contrast of the former and present state of Venice calls forth naturally a train of moral reflections suitable to the occasion; but the noble pilgrim, standing on the Bridge of Siglis, and having beneath his feet the dungeons of the most jealous aristocracy that ever existed; in the vicinity also of the palace of the Council of Ten, and of those • lions mouths' by means of which the most treacherous and base of anonymous informers possessed full power over the
life and fortune of the noblest citizens, might have spared his regret for the loss of that freedom which Venice never possessed. The distinction, in this and many other cases, betwixt a free and an independent nation, is not sufficiently observed. The Venetians were never a free people, though the state of Venice was not only independent, but wealthy and powerful, during the middle ages, by the extent of her commerce and the policy of her wise rulers. But commerce found a more convenient channel round the Cape of Good Hope for that trade which Venice had hitherto carried on. Her rulers over-rated her strength and engaged in a war against the confederated force of Italy, from the consequences of which, though gloriously sustained, the state never recovered. The proud republic, whose bride was the Adriatic, shared the fate of Tyre and Sidon-of all nations whose wealth and grandeur are founded exclusively on ships, colonies, and commerce. The crowning city, whose merchants were princes, and whose traffickers were the honourable of the earth,' had long passed into a state of the third class, existing merely because not demolished, and ready to give way to the first impulse of outward force. The art of the Venetian rulers in stooping to their circumstances, and bending where they must otherwise have broken, could only protract this semblance of independence until the storm of the French Revolution destroyed Venice, among many other governments which had been respected by other conquerors from a reverence to antiquity, or from a regard for existing institutions, the very reverse of the principle which actuated the republican generals. It is surely vain to mourn for a nation which, if restored to independence, could not defend or support itself; and it would be worse than vain, were it possible, to restore the Signoria with all its oligarchical terrors of denunciation, and secret imprisonment, and judicial murder. What is to be wished for Italy, is the amalgamation of its various petty states into one independent and well-governed kingdom, capable of asserting and maintaining her place among the nations of Europe. To this desirable order of things nothing can be a stronger obstacle than the reinstatement of the various petty divisions of that fair country, each incapable of defending itself, but ready to lend its aid to destroy its neighbours.
Of Italy, in its present state, it is impossible to think or speak without recognizing the truth as well as the beauty of the following lines.
Thy very weeds are beautiful, thy waste
With an immaculate charm which can not be defaced.'-p. 16 Through these delightful regions the Pilgrim wanders, awakening by the flashes of his imagination that of the reader, as the face of the country suggests topics of moral interest, and reminds is alternately of the achievements of the great of former days, in arms and in literature, and as local description mingles itself with the most interesting topics of local history. Arqua, the mountain where he died, suggests the name of Petrarch; the deserted Ferrara the fame and the fate of Tasso fitly classed with Danté and Ariosto, the bards of Hell and Chivalry. Florence and its statues, Thrasimene and Clitumnus start up before us with their scenery and their recollections. Perhaps there are no verses in our language of happier descriptive power than the two stanzas which characterize the latter river. In general, poets find it so difficult to leave an interesting subject, that they injure the distinctness of the description by loading it so as to embarrass rather than escite the fancy of the reader; or else, to avoid that fault, they confine themselves to cold and abstract generalities. The author has in the following stanzas adınirably steered his course betwixt these extremes ; while they present the outlines of a picture as pure and brilliant as those of Claude Lorraine, the task of filling up the more minute particulars is judiciously left to the imagination of the reader; and it must be dull indeed if it does not supply what the poet has left unsaid, or but generally and briefly intimated. While the eye glances over the lines, we seem to feel the refreshing coolness of the scene—we hear the bubbling tale of the more rapid streams, and see the slender proportions of the rural temple reflected in the crystal depth of the calm pool.
Surely that stream was unprofaned by slaughters--