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In Virgil it is associated with the idea of multitude :
"Quam multa in silvis autumni frigore primo
Lapsa cadunt folia......' So in Milton ; but he immediately connects it with locality, and gives it a picturesque colouring :
• Thick as autumnal leaves which strew the brooks
High overarched embower.....'. . In "Dante , ever working out the minute circumstances of his pictures, and clinging closely to the shows of things,' the image suggested is that of the gradual fall, leaf by leaf, compared with the dropping of the melancholy ghosts, one by one, into the inevitable bark :
Come d'autunno si levan le foglie
L'una appresso dell'altra, infin che l' ramo Fors.97?? Rende alla terra tutte le sue spoglie,
į Similemente il mal seme d’Adamo
Gittasi da quel lito ad una ad una.'
"With his sword disperst the raskall flocks,
Which fled asunder, and him fell before,
When the wroth western wind doth reave their locks.' From whom, lastly, Shelley receives the treasure ; and adds a peculiar circumstance, that of reversing the image, and with wonderful effect.
• Thou wild west wind ! thou breath of autumn's being,
Before whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Pestilence-stricken multitudes It is evident that the spurious fancy of which we have spoken is an inferior quality in the scale of poetical excellences to that genuine sort which is merely imagination under another aspect. And yet it would be a most uncatholic and intolerant view of the subject to exclude it from that scale altogether. In point of fact, so accustomed are we to look on Imagination as the poetical faculty par excellence, as undoubtedly it is, that we are sometimes induced to regard it hastily as the only one ; to consider poetry as strictly and wholly the
expression of Imagination. This is not the case only with the pedantic Wordsworthian school of critics who now inundate this country, but with others of more comprehensive views. And we doubt whether many have reflected how very large a proportion of the pleasure which we derive from poetry is really drawn from the expression of Thought in its various forms-indignant, energetic, graceful, witty, fanciful—without one particle of the creative faculty being concerned in it. To this class belong almost all the satirists, from Horace and Juvenal, to Boileau, Pope, Churcbill, whether severe in their indignation, or playing with the follies of mankind. It includes also the rhetorical poets — Lucan, Corneille , and the like ; and the conceited, commonly and mistakenly called fanciful, Donne, Cowley, Marini, Gongora, and their respective followers. It is Thought or Reflection which gives the peculiar tinge of manly energy to the verse of Dryden—which sparkles in graceful criticism in Horace – which enlivens throughout with an indulgent philosophy and playsul lessons of worldly wisdom, the charming narrative of Ariosto. And, to complete the catalogue, Thought and Passion, without one scruple of the strictly poetical Imagination, form the whole stock in trade of a nation of no mean rank in poetical literature—the French. There is no such thing as an imaginative French poet or poem — hardly a scene or a passage. But Thought, in all the various forms which we have enumerated, borrowing and turning to the best account the creations of a higher faculty, constitutes the staple commodity of the whole race of French poets; and is blended in those of a higher order with the powerful and harmonious expression of Passion -something, again, wholly distinct from Imagination proper.
We bave gone rather the more at length into this altempt to establish a distinction sometimes overlooked, from an anxiety to guard ourselves against any suspicion of unduly depreciating the poet whose works are now before us, when we rank that Fancy, which is commonly reputed to be his peculiar excellence, in the secondary class already described. He cannot be called an imaginative writer ; and, therefore, not • Fancy's child' in the truest or highest sense — in the sense
but is by anne have ter
ence. His hainly not list the first of quality. Nora
in which we have termed Fancy a creative quality. Not that he is by any means destitute of the first of poetical faculties, but that it is certainly not his characteristic or distinguishing excellence. His Fancy, like that of Donne and Cowley, is Wit ;-wit, not only under the control of a better taste than theirs, but likewise of a purer feeling ; wit suggesting images and thoughts with wonderful profusion, and a gracefulness often scarcely less admirable ; — often too profuse, no doubt, for compactness, and too graceful for strength, but uniformly brilliant, and yet relieved from monotony, by its singular buoyancy.
But rich as this Wit or Fancy is, we believe that those do Mr. Moore great injustice who' assign it as the attribute through which he is principally to live. To us at least, and we suspect to the infinite majority of his readers, the real charm of his poetry lies not there. It is when he speaks to the heart, not the head, that he is in his own element. The exquisite truth of sentiment, sometimes gay and sometimes melancholy, but always refined into the most perfect keeping with the common sympathies of men—this is far more delightful to us than all the more ambitious qualities of his muse. In our opinion, he may very safely allow his critics to dispute as much as they will about the real or false brilliancy of the oriental descriptions in Lalla Rookh, or the Rabbinical prettinesses of the Loves of Angels. Both have been translated into some dozen languages, and honoured, it appears, with all manner of royal and courtly observance ; (")
(1) Among the incidents connected with this work, I must not omit to notice the splendid divertissements, founded upon it, which were acted at the Chateau Royal of Berlin, during the visit of the Grand Duke Nicholas to that capital in the year 1822. The different stories composing the work were represented in tableaux vivans and songs; and, among the crowd of royal and noble persons engaged in the performances, I shall mention those only who represented the principal characters, and whum I find there enumerated in the published account of the divertissement. Fadladin, ('ount Haack, Marechal de Cour. Aliris, Roi de Bucharie, S. A. I. Le Grand Duc, Lallah Roukh, S. A. I. La Grande Duchesse. Aurung zeb, le Grand Mogol, S. A. R. Le Prince Guillaume. Abdallah, Pere d'Aliris, Le Duc de Cumberland. La Reine, son Epouse, S. A. R. La Princesse Louise Radzivill.'
- nay, which is more to the purpose still, both have been read, we take it, more than any other poems of our time, except Lord Byron's ; and yet we would confidently wager against the existence of any man, woman, or child, who could repeat thirty lines together of either, always excepting • Paradise and the Peri,' and the delicious songs in the • Light of the Harem.' We admit that this is not altogether a fair test ; for there are peculiarities in composition which make these poems excessively difficult to learn by heart, even for their most devoted admirers. But, on the other hand, there are thousands tens of thousands — who have almost every line of the Irish Melodies and national songs constantly in their remembrances. And this seems to us to prove our proposition beyond all contest, that Mr. Moore's true popularity rests, and will always rest, on those delicate touches of tenderness and gaiely wbich captivate the sense at first hearing , and once known are never forgotten; -- which make so many of those genuine gems, his smaller lyrical poems, better remembered, and more constantly travelling from the heart to the lips, than any verse of any poet of these days, however lofty his pretensions may
- Mr. Moore himself ascribes much of the magic of these strains to music ; and speaks of the • Irish Melodies' as the only work of his pen' whose fame (thanks to the sweet music in which it is embalmed) may boast a chance of prolonging
its existence to a day much beyond our own. And elsewhere, in the preface to his fifth volume , he goes at some length into the debatable question of the alliance between poetry of this description and music.
"It was impossible that the example of Burns, in these his higher inspirations, should not materially contribute to elevate the character of English song.writing, and even to lead to a reunion of the gifts which it requires, if not, as of old, in the same individual, yet in thal perfect sympathy between poet and musician which almost amounts to identity, and of which we have seen, in our own times, so interesting an example in the few songs bearing the united names of those two sister muses, Mrs. Arkwright and the late Mrs. Hemans.
• Very different was the state of the song department of English poesy at the time when first I tried my noviçe hand at the lyre. The divorce between song, and sense had then reached its utmost range, and to all uses connected with music, from a birthday ode down to the libretto of the last new opera, might fairly be applied the solution Figaro gives of the quality of the words of songs in general : «Ce qui ne vaut pas la peine d'être dit, on le chante w...
• How far my own labours in this field, if indeed the gathering of such idle flowers may be so designated, have helped to advance, or even kept pace with the progressive improvement I have here des. cribed, it is not for me to presume to decide. I only know, that in a strong and inborn feeling for music lies the source of whatever talent I may have shown for poetical composition ; and that it was the effort to translate into language the emotions and passions which music appeared to me to express, that Girst led to my writing any poetry at all deserving of the name. Dryden has happily described music as being «inarticulate poetry;" and I have always felt, in adapting words to an expressive air, that I was but bestowing upon it the gift of articulation, and thus enabling it to speak to others all that was conveyed in its wordless eloquence to myself. '- (Vol. V. pp. xiii.-xv.)
We believe Mr. Moore to be very sincere in these expressions of diflidence ; not because we attribute to him any greater tendency to undue self-depreciation than to his brethren in general, but because we know how completely, in spirits exquisitely sensitive to music, the charm of thought and expression becomes subordinate to that of melody ; and it is, undoubtedly, extremely difficult to untwist the hidden chains' which bind these iwo charms so strangely together. But if it could be accomplished, we suspect it would appear that, for every thousand who have been chiefly captivated by the music of his songs, there are at least a thousand more whose charm is in the poetry ; and in whose memory the last sweet echoes of the strain linger almost wholly disengaged from the accompaniment, or altogether unconnected with any.
But what complicates the difficulty in the present instance is this, that Mr. Moore is, in a peculiar and emphatical sense, the poet of music — a character in which no other poet approaches him, and very few even resemble him. Every one who has any susceptibility for music at all, is aware of the readiness with which some emotions of the mind are excited by il—that there are some sentiments which seem to respond immediately to particular tones, independently of all perceived