Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

The swinkt Damned shriek, “a change !"-of lot no change,
If change of suffering, for fiend or man:
Still it may soothe. Some horror new and strange
May please sad pain monotonous, and make
Variety to charm in this dull grange :
Since Hope, upon the fierce and fiery lake,
Is none of better state or torment less,
Or aught the penal thirst that can aslake.
-Anon, the portals of the black abyss
Yawn, which, as from a dragon's mouth, spits fire,
And in perpetual wrath doth howl and hiss ;
As Cerberus now were ready to expire,
In the strong throes of whelp-birth. Who art thou,
Demandest entrance? Who hath heard thy lyre ?
Not thou ;--but thou shalt hear, O Hell! and bow
To its rude hest. Not I the Florentine
Who trod thy burning marle,... as I would now,...
Led through the regions dolorous. Nor mine
His name who first saw thy portcullis raised
To let the Arch-Rebel out. *Yet shall thy Scrine
Unfold unto mine eyes, though they be dazed
To blindness with its Tables' graphic flame;
Yea, be in visual death suddenly glazed ;
And, as in a mirror, men see in the same;
And like thy molten sea that mirror seem,
Like thine own molten sea, wherein the Dame
Monstrous, abhorred of gods and the Supreme,
Foul Sin, worships her visage hideous. I
Defy thy power, however thou blaspheme,
Lay bare thy depths, and spread thee to the sky.
Ere long, with other verse and earlier theme,
To visit thee again, or soar on high,
And o'er the old World send a trumpet-gleam,
Unsepulchering from the obscure deep
The spectres of a superhuman dream,
Won from the waters, whose far roarings sleep
Upon oblivion's shores; where the fat weeds
Acquire wild overgrowth, and man may steep
High Fancies in hoar Mysteries; whence proceeds
Truth, old as earth's foundations. There it lay
With giants, and the records of their deeds,
-(Hid from these latter ages, when a day
Is all thy life, degenerated Man!
And thee a narrow grave admeasure may,)

With the behemoth and the leviathan.'—pp. 5–7. It would be a waste of mind to pause over this precious exordium, and point out the exquisite piety of an author who places Hell in juxta-position with the MESSIAH, and, of the two, gives the priority in place to the former : to dwell on the beauty of the phrase the swinkt damned:' the Scrine' that unfolds itself to dazed eyes :' the gleam of a trumpet blast: the unsepulchering of spectres : the sleep of roarings upon the shore of Oblivion : the steeping of high fancies in hoar mysteries, and the harmony of versification whereby degenerated man’ is made to rhyme with the behemoth and leviathan. It would be an inferior occupation for any body who is disposed to merriment, to check his laughter at such mere trifles as these, when the whole volume swells before him with a harvest of drollery. We shall give but another specimen, which will be enough, we presume, to induce the reader to purchase the volume for himself. The poet sings in the person of Death :

* I ride upon the Glacier, .and do fly,

Yea, I come flying on the winged wind;
And my pavilion of the snow pile I,
And wonne among the mountains, 'till I mind
To come abroad ; then I wend on my way
Precipitous in lightning, though not tined
From heaven surcharged, but kindling, as it may,
About my secret place, where royally
Dwelleth the hiding of my power, whose sway,
Felt only, doth abide invisibly,
And is in that it is, like to a god
Which lives but in his proper energy.
• The floods leap under me, and foam aloud,
And bear me onward, gathering as I go,
And armies come unto me from the cloud.
I triumph in my chariöt of snow ...
Forth utter I my voice, ... the thunder peals :
Forth from my sanctuary I rush, and, lo,
Forests confess me, nor the vale conceals
My presence, ... and the village vanisheth ;
Ruin to my pleased ear man's Shriek reveals,
Silence, Depopulation.—1 am Death!
A home in Air have I. Winds hear my voice,
The four winds answer it with all their breath.-
--Lo! the Tornado doth aloud rejoice
In his ubiquity, and cometh out
With sudden and exaggerated noise ;
Scattering his hurtling arrows all about
Amid the sky, the while his iron shoon
Cottage and Palace trample; .. with a shout,
Then whirls him in his dusty car aboon,
As with the ruin he would blot out heaven,
And quench the glorious sun,-as I shall soon.
And men are hurled into the clouds, and driven
As in a witch-dance, round, and aye around,
And perish in the flashes of the leven;
I swoop, and strangle them in that dire swound,
For sport ;- -and thus I gambol merrily. • .

• My way is on the Waters. Of the Drowned
The last spasm makes the globule, wherewith I
Take innocent delight, and think when this
Strong hand shall, with the same facility,
Confound in one disruption, one abyss,
A bubble and a Universe. I dance
Around the circles of the Vortices,
And see the ship go down in a strong trance,
And hear the shriek,-one, yet how manifold !
There, where the steeds o' the Tempest foam and prance,
Am I ;-their wild manes o'er wild ocean roll'd,
Like fire-flakes, wreathe the billows, and their neigh
Doth chide the clarion-clang of Oceau old.
“I dash amidst them, eager for the fray;
Doth plunge my Charger with me; he doth swim,
Wild in his fierceness, through the flashing spray;
As if a lightning-stroke had blinded him,
And darted phrenzy to his brain, and he
Were maddened with the torture in each limb,
And sweat' and shrieked in sightless agony, ·
And made huge havoc in his maniac might,
'Till his heart burst. Then, on the exhausted sea,
The waves drop down, and, in the dull twilight,
Lay sluggishly about the riven hulk,
O'er which the day rose sunless as the night,
Or glared portentous on the sail-less bulk
With a red eye and fiery. Lo, I
Chafe Ocean, that he waken from his sulk
Awhile, and blow a gale though weariedly
And brief;- yet unto me the billows spring,
Wild playmates, and a low-breathed harmony
We utter round the hopeless bark, and sing
A doleful and predestinating dirge.
Then droops again old Ocean, murmuring,
Like to a dreaming giant, whom no scourge
May waken more, basking in watchet weeds
Under the calm blue heaven; while on the verge
Of that doomed ship gaunt Famine sits, and feeds
On flesh of men ; with Thirst that drinks their blood ;
And Pestilence, glad of their savage deeds,
That, shivering at the helmless stern, doth brood,
Couchant o'er carcases. And I am there!
• The Crater is my cra'le, .. where, in still mood,
As in the womb the infant, in my lair
Of sulphur I repose, which bubbleth up
So gently, that the traveller well may dare
Descending to the brim of that hot cup;
As if, thus innocent, I might therein
Dissolve, like to a pearl, for lips to sup,
Ay, sweet as Cleopatra's. Now begin

The waters to ferment, and central fire
To howl, and with huge uproar and wild dia,
Earth's matrix with prodigious throes heaves dire;
And there, in that capacious cavern, boil
The floods as in a cauldron, and perspire
Through all her pores, making the sea recoil
From the bare shore affrightedly. Anon,
The rocky pillars of the human soil
Shake, and the myriad mnountains shiver down,
Vast, subterrane, obscure, with hideous crash,
Hurled by the winds into the abyss unknown;
Then up the billows in fierce anger dash
From chaos, seething like a yeasty wine
Over its bursting vessel ; as they clash,
Straight do th’imprisoned vapours fiercely tine,
And rage for vent. Earth gapes convulsively,

And vomits the volcano. It is mine !'-pp. 13—18. Many a man has been confined for Junacy, whose erring intellect has not betrayed him into half the extravagance which characterises this poem. It is, in truth, a mental monster.

Art. XII.-Cloudesley: A Tale. By the Author of “ Caleb Williams.”

3 vols. 8vo. London : Colburn and Bentley. 1830. The author of Caleb Williams is himself again. We can imagine him nearly exhausted to death by the effeminating air, the occupations and the company of the Burlington-street book factory. How his soul must have thirsted to be away from the sad society of the delicate multitude of operatives, so industrious, so devoted, and so imbecile, who ceaselessly work at the curious gossamer fabrics of that unique establishment, which are to be “equalled by no other house in or out of the metropolis.” We think we see the man finging away the degrading costume of all the pretty dears around him, and, like Achilles among the daughters of Lycomedes, snatching up the instrument proper to his vigorous strength, and vindicating the masculine purposes of his destiny.

And how little has time done to impair the strength of Mr. Godwin ? Superannuation is not a stage of infirmity to him, his mind is all the better for it; in the long protracted state of maturity which it has enjoyed, there has been given to it that nameless something, that intellectual attribute for which we have an equivalent in the natural world, in the word flavour. Time, indeed, has been a kind master to him ; it has not built up his old age upon the foolish foundation of his youth, it has not made in his case “the child, the father to the man;" it has been to him a corrector, a disciplinarian, a friendly monitor, causing its advice to be heeded,-- set thy house in order betimes.” Accordingly, we now find every thing in its right place, no inverted views, no mischievous morals, no wicked sentiments trimmed out by ingenuity and imagination, no counsels or intimations inconsistent with the permanence and happiness of society; all is humble and benevolent: all is beautifully conducive to the extension of the noblest principles, to the cultivation of the purest affections, and to the establishment of a scale of disinterestedness and mutual attachment in domestic life ; such as, if realised, would truly make this world a paradise. Such we unequivocally state to be the immediate tendency of Cloudesley ; nor is it possible for us to suppose that a moral recommended by such matchless force and beauty of expression, as abound in these volumes, can be received into the haunts of men without producing some good fruit.

Mr. Godwin's success in this novel, is to be attributed entirely to that due estimation of his own qualifications which tracks his progress like a mentor through every page. The plot which he has selected is one that would have tempted out of its sphere, a mind less endowed than that of Mr. Godwin, with fortitude and vigilance. It is an abundant magazine of the most various and attractive materials, and, above all, every word in the sad story is “ o'er true.” In the volumes of the State Trials, somewhere will be found the details of a cause which long pended in the Irish Courts in the early part of the last century. The subject of litigation was a peerage with its appendages of estates and property of all kinds : the claimant was a youth, poor, ill-educated, and, apparently, of very humble birth. His name was James Annesley, and there is now no doubt that those honours and that opulence, which he never was so fortunate as to be able to enjoy for one moment, were his undoubted birth-right. He was defrauded of them by a wicked uncle, wbo had him kidnapped in his infancy, caused him to be brought up in obscurity, and afterwards sold to slavery in Virginia. He was discovered amongst the slaves by an English officer; he was brought home, and was set up as the heir to his father instead of the uncle, then in possession. A tale of more appalling pathos than the history of this youth, was never yet conceived by any imagination, for, though his title was made out to the satisfaction of every rational mind, yet the law, ever full of resources for the crooked, threw out a net for the almost drowning defendant, and still kept him in a state to battle it out against Annesley and the real justice of the case. One of the most singular parts of the story is that in which the uncle becomes the promoter of a prosecution against the nephew. The young man was so unfortunate as to be the cause of taking away the life of an individual under circumstances which gave it, in the eye of the law, the modified character of manslaughter. The uncle, nevertheless, worked heaven and earth to have him convicted of murder, but without success; and the evidence went to shew in the strongest light, the impression which the uncle had in favour of the rights of Annesley, whom, therefore, he was deeply interested in getting out of the way. The litigation was still unsuspended when poor Annesley died.

« ZurückWeiter »