Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]

No sleep till morn, when Youth and Pleasure meet
To chase the glowing Hours with flying feet-
But, hark! that heavy sound breaks in once more,
As if the clouds its echo would repeat;

And nearer, clearer, deadlier than before !
Arm! arm! it is it is the cannon's opening roar!

• Within a window'd niche of that high hall
Sate Brunswick's fated chieftain; he did hear
That sound the first amidst the festival,
And caught its tone with Death's prophetic ear;
And when they smiled because he deem'd it near,
His heart more truly knew that peal too well
Which stretch'd his father on a bloody bier,

And roused the vengeance blood alone could quell:
He rush'd into the field, and, foremost fighting, fell.

• Ah! then and there was hurrying to and fro,

And gathering tears, and tremblings of distress,
And cheeks all pale, which but an hour ago
Blush'd at the praise of their own loveliness;
And there was sudden partings, such as press
The life froin out young hearts, and choking sighs
Which ne'er mighi be repeated ; who could guess

If ever more should meet those mutual eyes,
Since upon nights so sweet such awsul mory could rise?

* And there was mounting in hot haste : the steed,
The mustering squadron, and the clattering car,
Went pouring forward with impetuous speed,
And swiftly forming in the ranks of war;
And the deep thunder peal on peal afar;
And near, the beat of the alarming drum
Roused up the soldier ere the morning star;

While throng'd the citizens with terror dumb,
Or whispering with wbite lips~" The foe! They come !
they come !"

* And wild and high the “ Cameron's gathering” rose!
The war-note of Lochial, which Albyn's hills
Have heard, and beard, too, have her Saxon foes :
How in the noon of night that pibroch thrills,
Savage and shrill! But with the breath wbich fills
Their mountain-pipe, so fill the mountaineers
With the fierce native daring which instils

The stirring memory of a thousand years,
And Evan's, Donald's fame rings in each clansman's ears

[ocr errors][merged small]

And Ardennes wares above them her green leaves,
Dewy with nature's tear-drops, as they pass,
Grieving, if aught inanimate e'er grieves,
Over the unreturning brave,-alas!
Ere evening to be trodden like the grass
Which now beneath them, but above shall grow
In its next verdure, when this fiery mass

Of living valour, rolling on the foe
And burning with high hope, sball moulder cold and low.

• Last noon beheld them full of lusty life,
Lasteve in Beauty's circle proudly gay,
The midnight brought the signal-sound of strife,
The morn the marshalling in arms,--the day
Battle's magnificently-stern array!
The thunder clouds close o'er it, which wben rent
The earth is covered thick with other clay,

Which her own clay shall cover, heaped and pent, Rider and horse,-friend, foe, -in one red burial blent!' A beautiful elegiac stanza on the Honourable Major Howard, a relation of Lord Byron; and several verses in which the author contemplates the character and fall of Napoleon, close the meditations suggested by the field of Waterloo. The present situation of Bonaparte ought to exempt him (unless when, as in the following pages, he is brought officially before us) from such petty warfare as we can wage. But if Lord Byron supposes that Napoleon's fall was occasioned, or even precipitated by a just habitual scorn of men and their thoughts,' too publicly and rashly expressed, or as he has termed it in a note, the continued obtrusion on mankind of his want of all community of feeling with or for them,'—We conceive him to be under a material error. Far from being deficient in that necessary branch of the politician's art, which soothes the passions and conciliates the prejudices of those whom they wish to employ as instruments, Bonaparte possessed it in exquisite perfection. He seldom missed finding the very man that was fittest for his immediate purpose; and he had, in a peculiar degree, the art of moulding him to it. It was not, then, because he despised the means necessary to gain his end that he finally fell short of attaining it, but because confiding in his stars, his fortune, and his strength, the ends which he proposed were unattainable even by the gigantic means which he possessed. But if we are to understand that the projects of Napoleon intimated, too plainly for the subsistence of his power, how little he regarded human life or human happiness in the accomplishment of his personal views, and that this conviction

heated his enemies and cooled his friends, his indeed may be called a scorn, but surely not a just scorn of his fellow-mortals.

But bidding adieu to politics, that extensive gulf whose eddies draw every thing that is British into their vortex, we follow with pleasure Childe Harold's wanderings up the enchanting valley of the Rhine :

• There Harold gazes on a work divine,
A blending of all beauties, streams, and dells,
Fruit, foliage, crag, wood, cornfield, mountain, vine,

And chiedless castles breathing stern farewells From gray, but leafy walls, where Ruin greenly dwells.' These ruins, once the abodes of the robber-chivalry of the Ger. man frontier, where each free count and knight exercised within his petty domain the power of a feudal sovereign, call forth from the poet an appropriate commemoration of the exploits and character of their former owners. In a softer mood, the Pilgrim pours forth his greetings to one kind breast, in whom he can yet repose his sorrows, and hope for responsive feelings. The fall of Marceau is next commemorated; and Harold, passing with a fond adieu from the Rhin-thal, plunges into the Alps, to find among their recesses scenery yet wilder, and better suited to one who sought for loneliness in order to renew

• Thoughts hid, but not less cherished than of old,

Ere mingling with the herd bad penn'd“ him” in their fold.' The next theme on which the poet rushes is the character of the enthusiastic, and, as Lord Byron well terms him, ' self-torturing sophist, wild Rousseau,' a subject naturally suggested by the scenes in which that unhappy visionary dwelt, at war with all others, and by no means at peace with himself; an affected contemner of polished society, for whose applause he secretly panted, and a waster of eloquence in praise of the savage state in which his para. doxical reasoning, and studied, if not affected declamation, would never have procured him an instant's notice. In the following stanza his character and foibles are happily treated,

· His life was one long war with self-sought foes,
Or friends by him self-banish'd ; for his mind
Had grown Suspicion's sanctuary, and chose
For its own cruel sacrifice, the kind,
'Gainst whom he raged with fury strange and blind.
But he was phrenzied, --wherefore, who may know?
Since cause might be which skill could never find;

But he was phrenzied by disease or wo,
To that worst pitch of all, which wears a reasoning show.'

In another part of the poem this subject is renewed, where the traveller visits the scenery of La Nouvelle Eloïse.

• Clarens, sweet Clarens, birth-place of deep love,

Thine air is the young breath of passionate thought,
Thy trees take root in love ; the snow above
The very Glaciers have his colours caught,
And sun-set into rose-bues sees them wrought,

By rays which sleep there lovingly.' There is much more of beautiful and animated description, from which it appears that the impassioned parts of Rousseau's romance have made a deep impression upon the feelings of the noble poet. The enthusiasm expressed by Lord Byron is no small tribute to the power possessed by Jean Jaques over the passions : and to say truth, we needed some such evidence, for, though almost ashamed to avow the truth, which is probably very much to our own discredit,--still, like the barber of Midas, we must speak or die we have never been able to feel the interest or discover the merit of this far-famed performance. That there is much eloquence in the letters we readily admit; there lay Rousseau's strength. But his lovers, the celebrated St. Preux and Julie, have, from the earliest moment we have heard the tale (which we well remember) down to the present hour, totally failed to interest us. There might be some constitutional hardness of heart: but like Lance's pebble-hearted cur, Crab, we remained dry-eyed while all wept around us. And still, on resuming the volume, even now, we can see little in the loves of these two tiresome pedants to interest our feelings for either of them; we are by no means flattered by the character of Lord Edward Bomston, produced as the representative of the English nation,-and, upon the whole, consider the dulness of the story as the best apology for its exquisite immorality. To state our opinion in language much beiter than our own, we are unfortunate enough to regard this far-famed history of philosophical gallantry as an unfashioned, indelicate, sour, gloomy, ferocious medley of pedantry and lewdness; of metaphysical speculations, blended with the coarsest sensuality.'* Neither does 'Rousseau claim a higher rank with us on account of that Pythian and frenetic inspiration which vented

• Those oracles which set the world in flame,

Nor ceased to burn till kingdoms were no more.' We agree with Lord Byron that this frenzied sophist, reasoning upon false principles, or rather presenting that show of reasoning which is the worst pitch of madness, was a primary apostle of the French Revolution; nor do we differ greatly from his lordship's conclusion that good and evil were together overthrown in that volcanic explosion. But when Lord Byron assures us, that after the successive changes of government by which the French legis. lators have attempted to reach a theoretic perfection of constitution, mankind must and will begin the same work anew, in order to do it better and more effectually,—we devoutly hope the experi. ment, however hopeful, may not be renewed in our time, and that the · fixed passion which Childe Harold describes as holding his breath, and awaiting the “atoning hour,' will choke in his purpose ere that hour arrives. Surely the voice of dear-bought experience should now at length silence, even in France, the clamour of empirical philosophy. Who would listen a moment to the blundering mechanic who should say, “I have burned your house down ten times in the attempt, but let me once more disturb your old-fashioned chimneys and vents, in order to make another trial, and I will pledge myself to succeed in heating it upon the newest and most approved principle'?

* Letter to a Member of the National Assembly.

The poem proceeds to describe, in a tone of great beauty and feeling, a night-scene witnessed on the Lake of Geneva; and each natural object, from the evening grasshopper to the stars, the poetry of heaven,' suggests the contemplation of the connexion between the Creator and his works. The scene is varied by the ' fierce and fair delight of a thunder-storm, described in versc almost as vivid as its lightnings. We had marked it for transcript, as one of the most beautiful

passages of the

poem; tion must have bounds, and we have been already liberal. But the · live thunder leaping among the rattling crags'--the voice of mountains, as if shouting to each other—the plashing of the big rain-the gleaming of the wide lake, lighted like a phosphoric sea,--present a picture of sublime terror, yet of enjoyment, often attempted, but never so well, certainly never better, brought out in poetry. The Pilgrim reviews the characters of Gibbon and Voltaire, suggested by their residences on the lake of Geneva, and concludes by reverting to the same melancholy tone of feeling with which the poem commenced, Childe Harold, though not formally dismissed, glides from our observation; and the poet in his own person, renews the affecting address to his infant daughter:

• My daughter! with thy name this song begun-
My daughter! with thy pame thus much shall end,
I see thee not, I hear thee not,but none
Can be so wrapt in thce ; thou art the friend

but quota

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »