Immagini della pagina

a boy's conceit, " took first hold of my imagination,--and that sun has to me never set!'

While we sympathise in all Mr Hazlitt's sentiments of reverence for the mighty works of the older time, we must guard against that exclusive admiration of antiquity, rendered fashionable by some great critics, which would induce the belief that the age of genius is past, and the world grown too old to be romantic. We can observe in these Lectures, and in other works of their author, a jealousy of the advances of civilization as lessening the dominion of fancy. But this is, we think, a dangerous error; tending to chill the earliest aspirations after excellence, and to roll its rising energies back on the kindling soul. There remains yet abundant space for genius to possess; and science is rather the pioneer than the impeder of its progress. The level roads, indeed, which it cuts through unexplored regions, are, in themselves, less fitted for its wanderings, than the tangled ways through which it delights to stray; but they afford it new glimpses into the wild scenes and noble vistas which open near them, and enable it to deviate into fresh scenes of beauty, and hitherto unexplored fastnesses. The face of Nature changes not with the variations of fashion.

One state of society may be somewhat more favourable to the development of genius than another; but wherever its divine seed is cast, there will it strike its roots far beneath the surface of artificial life, and rear its branches into the heavens, far above the busy haunts of common mortals.

ART. XI. Marcian Colonna, an Italian Tale, with Three Dra

matic Scenes, and other Poems. By BARRY CORNWALL. 8vo. pp. 190. Warren, London, 1820.

F it be the peculiar province of Poetry to give delight, this

author should rank very high among our poets: And, in spite of his neglect of the terrible passions, he does rank very high in our estimation. He has a beautiful fancy and

beautiful diction-and a fine ear for the music of verse, and great tenderness and delicacy of feeling. He seems, moreover, to be altogether free from any tincture of bitterness, rancour or jealousy; and never shocks us with atrocity, or stiffens us with horror, or confounds us with the dreadful sublimities of demoniacal energy. His soul, on the contrary, seems filled to overflowing with images of love and beauty, and gentle sorrows, and tender pity, and mild and holy resignation. The character of his poetry is

to soothe and melt and delight: to make us kind and thoughtful and imaginative-to purge away the dregs of our earthly passions, by the refining fires of a pure imagination, and to lap us up from the eating cares of life, in visions so soft and bright, as to sink like morning dreams on our senses, and at the same time so distinct and truly fashioned upon the eternal patterns of nature, as to hold their place before our eyes long after they hare again been opened on the dimmer scenes of the world.

Why this should not be thought the highest kind of poetry, we profess ourselves rather at a loss to explain ;—and certainly are ourselves often in a mood to think that it is so; and to believe that the more tremendous agitations of the breast to which the art has so often been made subservient, have attracted more admi. ration, and engrossed more talent, than ought in justice to have been assigned them. The real lovers of poetry, we suspect, will generally incline their ears most willingly to its softer and more winning strains-nor can we believe that it was for them that its more tumultuous measures were invented. Men of delicate sensibility and inflammable imaginations, do not require the stronger excitement of those boisterous and agonizing emotions, without which it may be difficult to rouse the sympathies of more tardy and rugged natures. The poetical temperament is intrinsically dreamy and contemplative; and subsists in passionate imaginings, and beautiful presentments of the fancy. Wrath and scorn and misanthropy, are scarcely among its natural elements. It has but little legitimate affinity with horror and agony, and • none at all with aversion and disgust; nor is it easy to conceive that it should very long maintain its attraction where the predominating feelings it excites are those of dread, astonishment, and disdain. Some strong and gloomy spirits there may be, that really enjoy the stormy trouble of the elements; but the greater and the better part of the lovers of poetry will always be happy to escape to milder and more temperate regions, and to pursue their meditations among enchantments of a more engaging character, and forms of a gentler aspect.

Of such enchantments Mr Cornwall is a great master; and we are happy to meet him again, with his train of attendant spirits. This volume is very like the two former; and we need not here repeat what we have so lately said of their general character. There is the same pervading sweetness--the same gentle pathos—the same delicacy of fancy, and the same fine finishing of verse and of diction--together with something of the same mannerism, and the same occasional weakness.

• Marcian Colonna,' which stands so conspicuously in the title-page, is the longest poem which the author has yet attempt

.ed—and perhaps shows, on the whole, more power than he has yet given proof of. But it is not very excellent as a story; and its great charm consists in the beauty of detached passages; —though the whole is very sweetly harmonized by a prevailing tone of tenderness and melancholy. The hero is the younger son of the proud Colonna family ;--and being a little touched with insanity, is sent to the lonely convent of Laverna, that no gloom may rest on the happy walks and bright prospects of his elder brother-and there the forgotten youth pines and languishes for years. The following passages will show at once the spirit of poetry and beauty which breathes through even the least animated portions of the story.

" There is a lofty spot
Visible amongst the mountains Appennine,
Where once a hermit dwelt, not yet forgot
He or his famous miracles divine;
And there the Convent of Laverna stands
In solitude, built up by saintly hands,
And deemed a wonder in the elder time;
Chasms of the early world are yawning there,
And rocks are seen, craggy, and vast, and bare
And many a dizzy precipice sublime,
And caverns dark as Death, where the wild air
Rushes from all the quarters of the sky:
Above, in all his old regality,
The monarch eagle sits upon his throne,
Or floats upon the desert winds, alone.
There, belted 'round and 'round by forests drear,
Black pine, and giant beech, and oaks that rear
Their brown diminished heads like shrubs between,
And guarded by a river that is seen
Flashing and wandering thro' the dell below,
Laverna stands. - It is a place of woe,
And, 'midst its cold dim aisles and cells of gloom,
The pale Franciscan meditates his doom.' pp. 7, 8.

"But in his gentler moments he would gaze,
With something of the love of earlier days,
On the far prospects, and on summer morns
Would wander to a high and distant peak,
Against whose rocky bosom the clouds break
In showers upon the forests. It adorns
The landscape, and from out a pine-wood high,
Springs like a craggy giant to the sky,
Here, on this summit of the hills, he loved
To lie and look upon the world below;
And almost did he wish at times to know
How in that busy world man could be moved

pp. 16-18.

To live for ever-what delights were there
To equal the fresh sward and odorous air,
The valleys and green slopes, and the sweet call
Of bird to bird, what time the shadows fall
Toward the west:-he thought and thought,
"Till in his brain a busier spirit wrought,
And Nature then unlocked with her sweet smile
The icy barrier of his heart, and he
Returned unto his first humanity.
He felt a void, and much he grieved the while,
Within his heart, as tho' he wished to share
A joy he knew not with another mind ;
wild were his thoughts, but every wish refined,
And pure as waters of the mountain spring:
Was it the birth of Love?-did he unbind
(Like the far scent of wild flowers blossoming)
His perfumed pinions in that rocky lair,

To save a heart so young from perishing there?' In the mean time, all is mirth and joy in the Colonna palace, now delivered from this gloomy inmate—and the happy heir is destined to the lovely Julia.

On that same night of mirth Vitelli came
With his fair child, sole heiress of his name,
She came amidst the lovely and the proud,
Peerless; and when she moved, the gallant crowd
Divided, as the obsequious vapours light
Divide to let the queen-moon pass by night :
Then looks of love were seen, and many a sigh
Was wasted on the air, and some aloud
Talked of the pangs they felt and swore to die :-
She, like the solitary rose that springs
In the first warmth of summer days, and flings
A perfume the more sweet because alone-
Just bursting into beauty, with a zone
Half girl's half woman's, smiled and then forgot

Those gentle things to which she answered not.' pp. 13, 14. The fortunate youth, however, is killed in a duel--the fair Julia is married to an unsuitable husband, and Marcian is recalleil, though still a little strange and moody, to carry on the representation of the family. Julia's husband is providentially drowned, and she returns to the home of her fathers, very pale and lovely. Marcian and she had seen each other in early youth, and he had had dreams and visions of her in his convent l'etreat-and they are now troubled in each other's presence; but part without speaking. The following account of this second meeting is very sweet and beautiful.

• One night--one summer night he wandered far Into the Roman suburbs ; Many a star

Shone out above upon the silent hours,
Save when, awakening the sweet infant flowers,
The breezes travellid from the west, and then
A small cloud came abroad and fled again.
The red rose was in blossom, and the fair
And bending lily to the wanton air
Bared her white breast, and the voluptuous lime
Cast out his perfumes, and the wilding thyme
Mingled his mountain sweets, transplanted low
'Midst all the flowers that in those regions blow.
-We wandered on : At last, his spirit subdued
By the deep influence of that hour, partook
E'en of its nature, and he felt imbued
With a more gentle love, and he did look
At times amongst the stars, as on a book
Where he might read his destiny. How bright
Heaven's many constellations shone that night!
And from the distant river a gentle tune,
Such as is uttered in the month of June,
By brooks, whose scanty streams have languished long
For rain, was heard ;-a tender, lapsing song,

up in homage to the quiet moon.
• He mused, 'till from a garden, near whose wall
He leant, a melancholy voice was heard
Singing alone, like some poor widow bird
That casts unto the woods her desert call,
It was the voice—the very voice that rung
Long in his brain that now so sweetly sung.
He passed the garden bounds and lightly trod,
Checking his breath, along the grassy sod,
(By buds and blooms half-hidden, which the breeze
Had ravished from the clustering orange trees,)
Until he reached a low pavilion, where
He saw a lady pale, with radiant hair
Over her forehead, and in garments white;
A harp was by her, and her fingers light
Carelessly o'er the golden strings were fiung;
Then, shaking back her locks, with upward eye,
And lips that dumbly moved, she seemed to try

To catch an old disused melody, pp. 34-36. He finds, by her song, that he is remembered and beloved -and he tells his love, and is accepted-and, after some alarms about his malady, they are united in fullness of bliss and innocence.

Sleep sofily, on your bridal pillows, sleep,
Excellent pair ! happy and young and true;
And o'er your days, and o'er your slumbers deep
And airy dreams, may Love's divinest dew

« IndietroContinua »