« AnteriorContinua »
sooner the remainder comes forth to long-estranged friend of his youth, explain them, the better. One thing Sir Roland De Vaux of Triermaine, is evident, that no man necd sit down is some evil being; whether demon to read Christabel with any prospect or only demon-visited, we have no of gratification, whose mind has not means to ascertain. Nothing can be rejoiced habitually in the luxury of finer than the description of the manvisionary and superstitious reveries. He ner in which this strange visitant is that is determined to try every thing first introduced. by the standard of what is called com
The night is chill; the forest bare : mon sense, and who has an aversion
Is it the wind that moaneth bleak? to admit, even in poetry, of the exist- There is not wind enough in the air ence of things more than are dreamt To move away the ringlet curl of in philosophy, had better not open from the lovely lady's cheek. this production, which is only proper There is not wind enough to twirl for a solitary couch and a midnight The one red leaf, the last of its clan, taper. Mr Coleridge is the prince of That dances as often as dance it can, superstitious poets, and he that does Hanging so light
, and hanging so high, not read Christabel with a strange and
On the topmost twig that looks up at the sky. harrowing feeling of mysterious dread, Hush, beating heart of Christabel ! may be assured that his soul is made Jesu, Maria, shield her well!
She folded her arms beneath her cloak, of impenetrable stuff.
And stole to the other side of the oak. The circumstances with which the
What sees she there? poem opens are admirably conceived. There she sees a damsel bright, There is in all the images introduced Drest in a silken robe of white; a certain fearful stillness and ominous Her neck, her feet, her arms were bare, meaning, the effect of which can never And the jewels disorder'd in her hair. be forgotten. The language, also, is I guess, 'twas frightful there to see so much in harmony with the rude era
A lady so richly clad as she of the tale, that it seems scarcely to have Beautiful exceedingly! been written in the present age, and Mary mother, save me now! is indeed a wonderful proof of what (Said Christabel,) And who art thou ? genius can effect, in defiance of unfa. The lady strange made answer meet, vourable associations. Whoever has And her voice was faint and sweet : had his mind penetrated with the true I scarce can speak for weariness.
Have pity on my sore distress, expression of a Gothic building, will Stretch forth thy hand, and have no fear, find a similar impression conveyed by (Said Christabel,) How cam’st thou here? the vein of language employed in this And the lady, whose voice was faint and legend. The manners, also, and forms sweet, of courtesy ascribed to the personages, Did thus pursue her answer meet : are full of solemn grace.
My sire is of a noble line, He kissed her forehead as he spake ; And my name is Geraldine. And Geraldine, in maiden wise,
Five warriors seiz'd me yestermorn, Casting down her large bright eyes, Me, even me, a maid forlorn : With blushing cheek and courtesy fine, They chok'd my cries with force and fright, Turned her from Sir Leoline;
And tied me on a palfrey white. Softly gathering up her train,
The palfrey was as fleet as wind, That o'er her right arm fell again,
And they rode furiously behind. And folded her arms across her chest, They spurr'd amain, their steeds were white; And couched her head upon her breast. "And once we cross'd the shade of night. This is only one little example of I have no thought what men they be ;
As sure as Heaven shall rescue me, the antique stateliness that breathes Nor do I know how long it is over the whole of their demeanour. (For I have lain in fits, I wis) But if these things are not perceived Since one, the tallest of the five, by the reader, it is altogether in vain Took me from the palfrey's back, to point them out to him.
A weary woman, scarce alive. The general import of the poem Some matter'd words his comrades spoke ; cannot yet be guessed at; but it is He plac'd me underneath this oak, evident that the mysterious lady whom He swore they would return with haste ; Christabel meets in the forest—whom I thought I heard, some minutes past,
Whither they went I cannot tell. she introduces by stealth into the cas- Sounds as of a castle bell. tle of her father--and in whom her Stretch forth thy hand (thus ended she), father recognizes the daughter of the And help a wretched maid to flee. Vol. VI.
Then Christabel stretch'd forth her hand, But they without its light can see
The chamber carv'd so cariously,
Carv'd with figures strange and sweet,
All made out of the carver's brain,
The lamp with twofold silver chain
But Christabel the lamp will trim.
She trimm'd the lamp, and made it bright, All our household are at rest,
And left it swinging to and fro, Each one sleeping in his bed ;
While Geraldine, in wretched plight, Sir Leoline is weak in health,
Sank down upon the floor below. And may not well awaken'd be;
With what exquisite delicacy are all So to my room we'll creep in stealth,
these hints of the true character of this And you to-night must sleep with me.
stranger imagined.---The difficulty of They cross'd the moat, and Christabel
passing the threshold-the dread and Took the key that fitted well ; A little door she open'd straight,
incapacity of prayer—the moaning of All in the middle of the gate;
the old mastiff in his sleep-the reThe gate that was iron’d within and without, kindling of the lying embers as she Where an army in battle array had marched passes--the influence of the lamp out.
** fastened to the angel's feet.”-All The lady sank, belike thro' pain,
these are conceived in the most perfect And Christabel with might and main beauty. Lifted her up, a weary weight,
The next intimation is of a far more Over the threshold of the gate : Then the lady rose again,
fearful and lofty kind.
The stranger And mov'd, as she were not in pain.
is invited by Christabel to drink of wine So free from danger, free from fear,
made by his departed mother; and They cross'd the court: right glad they were.
listens to the tale of that mother's fate And Christabel devoutly cried,
who died it seems,
rs in the hour To the lady by her side,
that Christabel was born.” ChristaPraise we the Virgin all divine
bel expresses a wish of natural and Who hath rescued thee from thy distress ! innocent simplicityAlas, Alas! said Geraldine,
O mother dear that thou wert here
I would, said Geraldine she were.
But soon with alter'd voice, said she
" Off, wandering mother! Peak and pine ! The mastiff old did not awake,
“ I have power to bid thee flee.” Yet she an angry moan did make!
Alas! What ails poor Geraldine ? And what can ail the mastiff bitch ?
Why stares she with unsettled eye? Never till now she utter'd yell
Can she the bodiless dead espy ? Beneath the eye of Christabel.
And why with hollow voice cries she, Perhaps it is the owlet's scritch :
" Off, woman, off! this hour is mineFor what can ail the mastiff bitch ?
6. Though thou her guardian spirit be, They pass’d the hall, that echoes still, “ Off, woman, off'! 'tis given to me.' Pass as lightly as you will !
Then Christabel knelt by the lady's side, The brands were flat, the brands were dying, And rais'd to heaven her eyes so blueAmid their own white ashes lying ;
Alas! said she, this ghastly ride-
Dear lady! it hath wilder'd you !
The lady wip'd her moist cold brow,
And faintly said, “ 'Tis over now !” And nothing else saw she thereby, Save the boss of the shield of Sir Leoline tall, Again the wild-flower wine she drank: Which hung in a murky old nitch in the wall.
Her fair large eyes 'gan glitter bright, O softly tread, said Christabel,
And from the floor whereon she sank, My father seldom sleepeth well.
The lofty lady stood upright : Sweet Christabel her feet she bares,
She was most beautiful to see, And they are creeping up the stairs ; Like a lady of a far countrèe. Now in glimmer, and now in gloom, After the notion of evil has once been And now they pass the Baron's room,
suggested to the reader, the external As still as death with stifled breath! And now have reach'd her chamber door;
beauty and great mildness of demeanAnd now with eager feet press down
our ascribed to the Stranger produce The rushes of her chamber floor.
only the deeper feeling of terror : and The moon shines dim in the open air, they contrast, in a manner singularly And not a moonbeam enters here.
impressive, with the small revelations which every now and then take place lightnings." We know not that there of what is concealed beneath them.-- is any English poet who owes so much It is upon this happy contrast that to this single element of power as Colethe interest of the whole piece chiefly ridge. It appears to us that there is hinges, and would Mr Coleridge only not one of them, at least not one that take heart, and complete what he has has written since the age of Elizabeth, so nobly begun-he would probably in whose use of words the most delimake Christabel the finest exempli- cate sense of beauty concurs with so fication to be found in the English, or much exquisite subtlety of metaphyperhaps in any language since Ho- sical perception. To illustrate this by mer's, of an idea which may be traced individual examples is out of the ques: in most popular superstitions.
tion, but we think a little examination In these two poems--we might even would satisfy any person who is acsay in the extracts we have made from customed to the study of language of them—the poetical faculties of Cole- the justice of what we have said. ridge are abundantly exhibited in the In the kind of poetry in which he has whole power and charm of their na- chiefly dealt, there can be no doubt tive beauty. That such exercise of the effect of his peculiar mastery over these faculties may have been so far this instrument has been singularly injudicious as not calculated to awak-, happy—more so than, perhaps, it could en much of the ordinary sympathies have been in any other. The whole of mankind - but rather addressing essence of his poetry is more akin to every thing to feelings of which in music than that of any other poetry their full strength and sway only a few. we have ever met with. Speaking are capable-all this is a reproach easy generally, his poetry is not the poetry to be made, and in a great measure per- of high imagination-nor of teem haps it may be a well-founded re- ing fancy-nor of overflowing sentiproach. But nothing surely can be ment-least of all, is it the poetry of more unfair, than to overlook or deny intense or overmastering passion. the existence of such beauty and such If there be such a thing as poetry strength on any grounds of real or pre- of the senses strung to imaginationtended misapplication. That the au- such is his. It lies in the senses, but thor of these productions is a poet of they are senses breathed upon by imam a most noble class-a poet most ori- gination-having reference to the imao: ginal in his conceptions-most master- gination though they do not reach to ly in his execution-above all things it-having a sympathy, not an union, a most inimitable master of the lan- with the imagination-like the beauty guage of poetry—it is impossible to of flowers. În Milton there is bedeny. His powers indeed—to judge tween sense and imagination a strict from what of them that has been put union-their actions are blended into forth and exhibited-may not be of one. In Coleridge what is borrowed the widest-or even of the very highest from imagination or affection is brought kind. So far as they go, surely, they to sense-sense is his sphere. In him are the most exquisite of powers. In the pulses of sense seem to die away his mixture of all the awful and all in sense. The emotions in which he the gentle graces of conception-in his deals—even the love in which he deals sway of wild-solitary-dreamy phan- -can scarcely be said to belong to the tasies-in his music of words and class of what are properly called pasmagic of numbers--we think he stands sions. The love he describes the best absolutely alone among all the poets of is a romántic and spiritual movement the most poetical age.
of wonder, blended and exalted with In one of the great John Müller's an ineffable suffusion of the powers of early letters (compositions, by the way, sense. There is more of aerial rowhich it is a thousand pities the Eng- mance, than of genuine tenderness, lish reader should have no access to even in the peerless love of his Geneadmire) there is a fine passionate dis- vieve. Her silent emotions are an unquisition on the power of wordsand known world which her minstrel on the unrivalled use of that power watches with fear and hope--and yet exemplified in the writings of Rous- there is exquisite propriety in calling seau.“ “ He sways mankind with that that poem Love, for it truly repredelicious might"-says the youthful sents the essence of that passionhistorian-" as Jupiter does with his where the power acquired over the human soul depends so much upon the There came and look'd him in the face awakening, for a time, of the idea of An angel beautiful and bright; infinitude, and the bathing of the uni- And that he knew it was a Fiend, versal spirit in one interminable sea of
This miserable Knight ! thoughts undefineable. We are aware And that unknowing what he did, that this inimitable poem is bet- He leap d amid a murderous band, ter known than any of its author's And sav'd from outrage worse than death productions--and doubt not that many
The Lady of the
Land ! hundreds of our readers have got it And how she wept, and claspt his knees; by heart long ago, without knowing And how she tended him in vainby whom it was written but there And ever strove to expiate
The scorn that crazed his brain. can be no harm in quoting it, for they that have read it the most frequently And that she nursed him in a cave;
And how his madness went away, will be the most willing to read it as gain.
When on the yellow forest-leaves
A dying man he lay.
His dying words--but when I reach'd
That tenderest strain of all the ditty,
My faultering voice and pausing harp
Disturb'd her soul with pity!
All impulses of soul and sense
Had thrill'd my guileless Genevieve ;
The music, and the doleful tale,
The rich and balmy eve;
And hopes, and fears that kindle hope,
An undistinguishable throng,
And gentle wishes long subdued,
Šubdued and cherish'd long ! She leant against the armed man,
She wept with pity and delight, The statue of the armed knight ; .
She blush'd with love, and virgin-shame : She stood and listend to my lay,
And like the murmur of a dream, Amid the lingering light.
I heard her breathe my name.. Few sorrows hath she of her own,
Her bosom heav'dshe stept aside,
Then suddenly, with timorous eye
She fled to me and wept.
She half enclosed me with her arms, I sang an old and moving story
She press'd me with a meek embrace; An old rude song, that suited well
And bending back her head, look'd up, That ruin wild and hoary.
And gazed upon my face. She listen'd with a flitting blush,
'Twas partly Love, and partly Fear, With downcast eyes and modest grace ;
And partly 'twas a bashful art,
That I might rather feel, than see,
The swelling of her heart.
I calm'd her fears, and she was calm, I told her of the Knight that wore
And told her love with virgin-pride,
And so I won my Genevieve,
My bright and beauteous Bride.
We shall take an early opportunity I told her how he pined ; and ah!
of offering a few remarks on Mr ColeThe deep, the low, the pleading tone
ridge's efforts in tragedy-and in par. With which I sang another's love, Interpreted my own.
ticular on his wonderful translation, or
rather improvement of the Wallenstein. She listen'd with a flitting blush, With downcast eyes, and modest grace ;
We shall then, perhaps, be able still And she forgave me, that I gazed
more effectually to carry our readers Too fondly on her face!
along with us--when we presume to
address a few words of expostulation But when I told the cruel scorn That craz'd that bold and lovely Knight,
to this remarkable man on the strange And that he cross'd the mountain-woods, and unworthy indolence which has, Nor rested day nor night;
for so many years, condemned 50 That sometimes from the savage den,
many of his high gifts to slumber in And sometimes from the darksome sbade, comparative uselessness and inaction. And sometimes starting up at once
“ A cheerful soul is what the muses love In green and sunny glade.
A soaring spirit is their prime delight.”
THE MISSIONARY; A POEM.
BY THE REV. W. L. BOWLES.
NEVER were any two poets more un- tion with the saddest and most mournlike each other than Bowles and Cole- ful colours of reality. Fear and wonridge ; and we believe that the asso- der are the attendant spirits of Colein ciating principle of contrast has now ridge-pity and sadness love to walk recalled to our remembrance the au- by the side of Bowles. We have thor of so many beautiful strains of heard indeed they themselves have mere human affection and sensibility, told us—that these poets greatly adafter we have been indulging ourselves mire the genius of each other, nor in the wild and wonderful fictions of is it surprising that it should be so; that magician. Coleridge appears be- for how delightful must it be for fore us in his native might, only when Bowles, to leave, at times, the “quiet walking through the mistiness of pre- homestead” where his heart indulges ternatural fear; and even over his its melancholy dreams of human life, pictures of ordinary life, and its ordi- and to accompany the “ winged bard" nary emotions, there is ever and anon on his wild flights into a far-off land ! the “ glimmer and the gloom” of an and how can it be less delightful to imagination that loves to steal away Coleridge to return from the dreary from the earth we inhabit, and to shadowiness of his own haunted rebring back upon it a lovelier, and rich- gions, back into the bosom of peace, er, and more mysterious light, from tenderness, and quiet joy! the haunts of another world. Bowles, We intend, on an early occasion, on the contrary, looks on human life to take a survey of all Mr Bowles' with delighted tenderness and love, poetical works; for some of them are, and unreservedly opens all the pure we suspect, not very generally known, and warm affections of the most amis and even those which are established able of hearts, to all those impulses, in the classical poetry of this age, are and impressions, and joys, and sor. not so universally familiar as they rows, which make up the sum of our ought to be to our countrymen in mortal happiness or misery. He is, Scotland. Mr Bowles was a popular beyond doubt, one of the most pathe poet before any one of the great poets tic of our English poets. The past is of the day arose, except Crabbe and to him the source of the tenderest in- and Rogers ; and though the engrosse spirations; and while Coleridge sum- ing popularity of some late splendid mons from a world of shadows the productions has thrown his somewhat imaginary beings of his own wild cre- into the shade, yet, though little ation, to seize upon, to fascinate, and talked of, we are greatly mistaken if to enchain our souls in a pleasing dread, they are not very much read—if they -Bowles recalls from death and obli- have not a home and an abiding in vion the human friends whom his the heart of England. The extreme heart loved in the days of old-the grace and elegance of his diction, the human affections that once flowed sweetness and occasional richness of purely, peacefully, and beautifully be- his versification, and his fresh and iween them-and trusts, for his do- teeming imagery, would of themselves minion over the spirits of his readers, be sufficient to give him a respectable to thoughts which all human beings and permanent station among our may recognise, for they are thoughts poets; but when to these qualities are which all human beings must, in a added a pure, natural, and unaffected greater or less degree, have experi- pathos, à subduing tenderness, and a enced. Coleridge is rich in fancy and strain of genuine passion, we need not imagination-Bowles in sensibility and scruple to say that Mr Bowles possesstenderest passion. The genius of the es more of the poetical character than one would delight to Aing the ra- some who enjoy a more splendid rediance or the mists of fiction over the putation, and that while they sink most common tale of life-that of the with sinking fashion and caprice, he other would clothe even a tale of fic- will rise with rising nature and truth.
* London, John Murray. 1816.