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task so difficult. Reproof he endured with impatience, and reproach hardened him in his error; so that he often resembled the gallant war. steed, who rushes forward on the steel that wounds him. In the most painful crisis of his private life, he evinced this irritability and impatience of censure in such a degree, as almost to resemble the noble victim of the bull-fight, which is more maddened by the squibs, darts, and petty annoyances of the unworthy crowds beyond the lists, than by the lance of his nobler, and, so to speak, his more legitimate antagonist. In a word, much of that in which he erred was in bravado and scorn of his censors, and was done with the motive of Dryden's despot,' to show his arbitrary power.''
“ As various in composition as Shakspeare himself (this will be admitted by all who are acquainted with his ' Don Juan'), he has embraced every topic of human life, and sounded every string on the divine harp, from its slightest to its most powerful and heart-astounding tones. There is scarce a passion or a situation which has escaped his pen; and he might be drawn, like Garrick, between the weeping and the laughing Muse, although his most powerful efforts have certainly been devoted to Melpomene. His genius seemed as prolific as various. The most prodigal use did not ex. haust his powers, nay, seemed rather to increase their vigour. Neither Childe Harold, nor any of the most beautiful of Byron's earlier tales, contain more exquisite morsels of poetry than are to be found scattered through the cantos of Don Juan, amidst verses which the author appears to have thrown off with an effort as spontaneous as that of a tree resigning its leaves to the wind. But that noble tree will never more bear fruit or blossom! It has been cut down in its strength, and the past is all that remains to us of Byron. We can scarce reconcile ourselves to the idea scarce think that the voice is silent for ever, which, bursting so often on our ear, was often heard with rapturous admiration, sometimes with regret, but always with the deepest interest,
All that's bright must fade,
The brightest still the fleetest!' With a strong feeling of awful sorrow, we take leave of the subject. Death creeps upon our most serious as well as upon our most idle employments; and it is a reflection solemn and gratifying, that he found our Byron in no moment of levity, but contributing his fortune, and hazarding his life, in behalf of a people only endeared to him by their own past glories, and as fellow-creatures suffering under the yoke of a heathen oppressor. To have fallen in a crusade for Freedom and Humanity, as in olden times it would have been an atonement for the blackest crimes, may in the present be allowed to expiate greater follies than even exaggerating calumny has propagated against Byron."
In a little journal conducted by the great poet of Germany, Goethe, and entitled “ Kunst und Altherthum," i. e. “ Art and Antiquity,” (Part III. 1821), there appeared a trans
lation into German of part of the first canto of Don Juan, with some remarks on the poem, by the venerable Editor, of which we next submit a specimen :
XXXIX. GOETHE. “ Don Juan is a thoroughly genial work — misanthropical to the bitterest savageness, tender to the most exquisite delicacy of sweet feelings ; and when we once understand and appreciate the author, and make up our minds not fretfully and vainly to wish him other than he is, it is impossible not to enjoy what he chooses to pour out before us with such unbounded audacity - with such utter recklessness. The technical execution of the verse is in every respect answerable to the strange, wild simplicity of the conception and plan : the poet no more thinks of polishing his phrase, than he does of Aattering his kind ; and yet, when we examine the piece more narrowly, we feel that English poetry is in possession of what the German has never attained, a classically elegant comic style. .
“ If I am blamed for recommending this work for translation - for throwing out hints which may serve to introduce so immoral a perform. ance among a quiet and uncorrupted nation - I answer, that I really do not perceive any likelihood of our virtue's sustaining serious damage in this way: Poets and Romancers, bad as they may be, have not yet learned to be more pernicious than the daily newspapers which lie on every table.”
After Scott and Goethe we should be sorry to quote anybody but Lord Byron himself. In Mr. Kennedy's account of his “Conversations” with the noble poet at Cephalonia, a few weeks before his death, we find the following passage, - with which let these prolegomena conclude.
XL. BYRON ipse (apud Kennedy). “ I cannot,” said Lord Byron, “ conceive why people will always mix up my own character and opinions with those of the imaginary beings which, as a poet, I have the right and liberty to draw.”
“ They certainly,” said I,“ do not spare your Lordship in that respect; and in Childe Harold, Lara, the Giaour, and Don Juan, they are too much disposed to think that you paint, in many costumes, yourself, and that these characters are only the vehicles for the expression of your own sentiments and feelings."
“ They do me great injustice," he replied, “ and what was never before done to any poet. Even in Don Juan I have been equally misunderstood. I take a vicious and unprincipled character, and lead him through those ranks of society, whose high external accomplishments cover and cloak internal and secret vices, and I paint the natural effects of such cha
racters; and certainly they are not so highly coloured as we find them in real life.
“ This may be true; but the question is, what are your motives and object for painting nothing but scenes of vice and folly ?". -" To remove the cloak, which the manners and maxims of society," said his Lordship, “throw over their secret sins, and show them to the world as they really are.”.
Postscript. We had intended to stop with the above — but after it was too late to derange the order of our earlier testimonies, our attention was solicited to a sportive effusion by the learned Dr. William Maginn, of Trinity College, Dublin, which appears to us not unworthy of being transferred to this Olla podrida. Every one ought to have, but every one has not, by heart Wordsworth's “ Yarrow Unvisited;" therefore we shall place the original alongside of the parody.
There's Gala Water, Leader Haughs, “ There's Godwin's daughter, Shelley's wife, Both lying right before us;
A writing fearful stories; And Dryborough, where with chiming There's Hazlitt, who, with Hunt and Tweed
Keats, The Lintwhites sing in chorus;
Brays forth in Cockney chorus;
Made blithe with plough and harrow: Who sings of Rose and Fanny:
Why throw away these wits so gay
To take up Don Giovanni ?
“ Then hey! for Don Giovanni !”. - What Tory will not pronounce Dr. Maginn's last octave a prophetic one, when he compares it with the time of the forthcoming of this, the first complete and unmutilated, edition of “ Don Juan ?” - E.]
January 30. 1833.
'TO THE EDITOR OF
“ MY GRANDMOTHER'S REVIEW.” (1)
[Sce" Testimonies of Authors,” No. XVI. antè, p. 14.]
(1) [“ Bologna, Aug. 23. 1819. I send you a letter to Roberts, signed • Wortley Clutterbuck,' which you may publish in what form you please, in answer to his article. I have had many proofs of men's absurdity, but he beats all in folly. Why, the wolf in sheep's clothing has tumbled into the very trap!” – Lord B. to Mr. Murray.]