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On with the giddy circle, chasing Time,
Proud though in desolation; which could find
Of his land's tongue, which he would oft forsake
To which it mounts, as if to break the link
Till the blood tinge his plumage, so the heat
With draughts intemperate on the sinking deck,-
Canto III.-p.7-11. The commentary through which the meaning of this melancholy tale is rendered obvious, has been long before the public, and is still in vivid remembrance; for the errors of those who excel their fellows in gifts and accomplishments are not soon forgotten. Those 'scenes, ever most painful to the bosom, were rendered yet more go by public discussion; and it is at least possible that amongst those who exclaimed most loudly on this unhappy occa- ; sion, were some in whose eyes literary superiority exaggerated Lord Byron's offence. The scene may be described in a few words :--the wise condemned--the good regretted-the multitude, idly or maliciously inquisitive, rushed from place to place, gathering gossip, which they mangled and exaggerated while they repeated it; and impudence, ever ready to hitch itself into notoriety, hooked on, as Falstaff enjoins Bardolph, blustered, bullied, and talked of pleading a cause and taking a side.'
The family misfortunes which have for a time lost Lord Byron to his native land have neither chilled his poetical fire, nor deprived England of its benefit. The Third Canto of Childe Harold exhibits, in all its strength and in all its peculiarity, the wild, powerful and original vein of poetry which, in the preceding cantos, first fixed the public attention upon the author. If there is any difference, the former seem to us to have been rather more sedulously corrected and revised for publication, and the present work to have been dashed from the author's pen with less regard to the subordinate points of expression and versification. Yet such is the deep and powerful strain of passion, such the original tone and colouring of description, that the want of polish in some of its minute parts rather adds to than deprives the poem of its energy. It seems, occasionally, as if the consideration of mere grace was beneath the care of the poet, in his ardour to hurry upon the reader the thoughts that glow and words that burn;' and that the occasional roughness of the verse corresponded with the stern tone of thought, and of mental suffering which it expresses.
We have remarked
remarked the same effect produced by the action of Mrs. Siddons, when, to give emphasis to some passage of overwhelming passion, she has seemed wilfully to assume a position constrained, stiffened, violent, diametrically contrary to the rules of grace, in order, as it were, to concentrate herself for the utterance of grief, or passion which disdained embellishment. In the same manner, versification, in the hands of a master-bard, is as frequently correspondent to the thoughts it expresses as to the action it describes, and the line labours and the words move slow under the heavy and painful thought; wrung, as it were, from the bosom, as when Ajax is heaving his massy rock. It is proper, however, to give some account of the plan of the poem
before we pursue
these observations. The subject is the same as in the preceding Cantos of the · Pilgrimage.' Harold wanders over other fields and amid other scenery, and gives vept to the various thoughts and meditations which they excite in his breast. The poem opens with a beautiful and pathetic, though abrupt, invocation to the infant daughter of the author, and bespeaks at once our interest and our sympathy for the self-exiled Pilgrim.
Awaking with a start,
Whither I know not; but the hour's gone by,
Flung from the rock, on Ocean's foam, to sail
Canto III. pp. 3, 4. The theme of Childe Harold is then resumed, and the stanzas follow which we have already quoted, and which, it must be allowed, identify the voble author with the creature of his imagination more intimately than in the former Cantos.
We do not mean to say that all Childe Harold's feelings and adventures must be considered
as those of Lord Byron, but merely that there is much of Lord Byron in the supposed Pilgrim.
On the plan itself we may briefly remark, that the localities of which it necessarily treats connect it with the real as well as the beautiful. An ingenious friend has well observed, that the plain, the rock, the hillock, which marks the scene of some distinguished event, has frequently an effect more powerful upon the mind than even the monuments of art designed expressly to preserve its memory. These localities have also the merit of imperishability, and carry back their associations to periods far more remote than art càn refer to. Pictures fade and statues moulder and temples decay, and cities perish : but the sod of Marathon is immortal--and he who ha3 trode it has identified himself with Athenian story in a manner which neither painter, nor poet, nor sculptor could have accomplished for him. Shakspeare, whom nothing escaped, hints, in the celebrated passage already quoted, that it is one of the highest offices of poetry to connect our ideas with some local habitation. In this respect, poetry has been falsely characterized as dealing in fiction. History may do so perhaps too often; but poetry, at least good poetry, is connected only with the realities either of visible or of moral nature. It is therefore with uo ordinary pleasure that we follow the Pilgrim through scenes to which his poetry gives new interest, while it recals that attached to them by historical or moral associations.
He arrives on Waterloo,-a scene where all men, where a poet especially, and a poet such as Lord Byron, must needs pause, and ainid the quiet simplicity of whose scenery is excited a moral interest, deeper and more potent even than that which is produced by gazing upon the sublimest efforts of Nature in her most romantic
That Lord Byron's sentiments do not correspond with ours is obvious, and we are sorry for both our sakes. For our own,-because we have lost that note of triumph with which his harp would otherwise have rung over a field of glory such as Britain never reaped before; and on Lord Byron's account,-because it is melancholy to see a man of genius duped by the mere cant of words and phrases, even when facts are most broadly confronted with them. If the poet has mixed with original, wild, and magnificent creations of his imagination, prejudices which he could only have caught by the contagion which he most professes to despise, it is he himself must be the loser. If his lofty muse has soared in all her brilliancy over the field of Waterloo without dropping even one leaf of laurel on the head of Wellington, his merit can dispense even with the praise of Lord Byron. And as, when the images of Brutus were excluded from the triumphal procession, his memory became only
the more powerfully imprinted on the souls of the Romans,-the name of the British hero will be but more eagerly recalled to remembrance by the very lines in which lis praise is forgotten.
We would willingly avoid mention of the political opinions hinted at by Childe Harold, and more distinctly expressed in other poems of Lord Byron ;—the more willingly, as we strongly suspect that these effusions are rather the sport of whim and singularity, or at best the suggestion of sudden starts of feeling and passion, than the expressions of any serious or fixed opinion. A French author, (Le Censeur du Dictionnaire des Girouettes,) who has undertaken the hardy task of vindicating the consistency of the actors in the late revolutions and counter-revolutions of his country, gives it as his decided opinion, that poets in particular are not amenable to censure whatever political opinions they may express, or however frequently these opinions may exhibit marks of inconsistency.· Le cerveau d'un poète est une cire molle et flexible où s'imprime naturellement tout ce qui le flatte, le séduit et l'alimente. La Muse du chant n'a pas de parti: c'est une étourdie sans conséquence, qui folâtre également et sur de riches gazons et sur d'arides bruyères. Un poète en délire chante indifféremment Titus et Thamasp, Louis XII. et Cromwell, Christine de Suède et Fanchon la Vielleuse.'
We suspect that Lord Byron will not feel much flattered by the opportunity we have given him of sheltering himself under the insignificance which this Frenchman attaches to the political opinions
But if he renounces the defence arising from the difficulty of resisting a tempting subject, and the pleasure of maintaining a paradox, it will be difficult for him to escape from the charge of inconsistency. For to compare Waterloo to the battle of Cannæ, and speak of the blood which flowed on the side of the vanquished as lost in the cause of freedom, is contrary not only to plain sense and general opinion, but to Lord Byron's own experience, and to the testimony of that experience which he has laid before the public. Childe Harold, in his former Pilgrimage, beheld in Spain the course of the tyrant and of the tyrant's slaves.' He saw "Gaul's vulture with her wings unfurled,' and indignantly expostulated with Fate on the impending destruction of the patriotic Spaniards.
• And must they fall,—the young, the proud, the brave,
To swell one bloated Chief's unwholesome reign,
The rise of rapine, and the fall of Spain! Childe Harold saw the scenes which he celebrates,-and does he now compare to the field of Caunæ the plain of Waterloo, and mourn over the fall of the tyrant and the military satraps and slaves whose arms built his power, as over the fall of the cause of