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Tbe present translations are extremely unequal: those in blank verse are the most pleasing. The sixth Elegy however, is versified with considerable spirit and elegance; but the close of the poem is, we are compelled to remark, a complete violation of the spirit of the original. The 'paciferum regent, 'Jattstdque sacratis seecula pacta libris? is most inadequately rendered, and gives the character of paganism to the whole passage.
Iu justice to our Translator we must make room for a specimen of his blank heroic verse. It is an extract from the poem on Nature unimpaired by Aire.
'Shall then fair Nature's visage, furrow'd deep,
'But otherwise Omnipotence, divine,
Art. XI. 1. Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Canto the Third. By Lord Byron. 8vo. pp. 80. Price 5s. 6d. Murray. 1816.
2. Tlie Prisoners of ChiUon, and other Poems. By Lord Byron. 8vo. pp. 62. Price 5s. 6d. Murray. 1816.
INHERE is a stanza in the third Canto of Childe Harold's ■*■ Pilgrimage, referring to Rousseau, which so exquisitely expresses all that the most laboured critique could say of these productions, taken in connexion with the private circumstances to which they explicitly allude, that it were almost sufficient to transcribe them, and leave our readers to make the application.
'Here the self-torturing sophist,
he who threw
Enchantment over passion, and from woe
Wrung overwhelming eloquence, first drew
The breath which made him wretched: yet he knew
Hoxv to make madness beautiful, and cast
O'er erring deeds and thoughts, a heavenly hue
Of words, like sunbeams, dazzling as they past
The eyes, which o'er them shed tears feelingly and fast.'
With whatsoever sentiments respecting the Author as a member of society, (in which character his Lordship has made the public his confidant,) a person may sit down to the perusal of these poems, it will be impossible, if he has a human heart, not to have his judgement disarmed by his feelings, and to be dazzled even to tears. The very first line strikes upon the heart with the thrilling effect of a sudden knell: the knell of an unhappy being self-exiled from the living interests of society, rung by his own returning spirit, as if to compel our sympathy.
, 'Is thy face like thy mother's, my fair child!
Awaking with a start,
Did it form any part of our duty to the public, to make these poems serve as an occasion for Instituting an inquiry into Lord Byron's domestic conduct, we certainly could not accept his eloquence as a witness in the cause, or suffer our verdict to be influenced by the impression he succeeds in making on our feelings. We could not suffer ourselves to forget that Ada has another parent, and that that mother's silent wrongs might be such as to out-plead the most pathetic appeals of the father. But living, as happily we do, remote from the sphere of Lord Byron's
we feel ourselves by no means called upon either to become his apologists, or to sit as his censors; not having had the privilege of personal intimacy which our fellow Journalists may have enjoyed, to warrant our assuming the office of the friend, and having no feelings to gratify by the execution of a sterner task..
Lord Byron has indeed, in these poems, invited the.attention of the public to hie own peculiar character and fortunes. He has the air of a man that at once courts and disdains the vote of the many, on which his fame depends. He seems willing to receive from the impersonal multitude that homage of sympathy, which perhaps he would be too proud to accept from an individual who could answer or gaze upon the speaker. The species of egotism, however, which pervades his Lordship's productions, appears less like the display of his own feelings, than the effect of their perpetually haunting him, intercepting and colouring his view of every other object, and rendering it impossible for him to forget
'the weary dream
In the present Canto, Childe Harold is scarcely to be recognised as an ideal personage. We almost question, indeed, whether Lord Byron has not' thought too long and darkly' on one real person, to be capable of giving birth to a purely imaginary being, the independent sportive creation of fancy. We question whether any rff Lord Byron's characters' are strictly fictitious; for whatever variation of costume is thrown over them, and whatever are the circumstances of the tale, it is still the same combination of morbid feelings and phrensied passions, aggravated into various degrees of guilt, which is personified in the successive avatars of his Lordship's genius; and all the subordinate personages of the drama have the same relation to that one, as' the gaudy clouds of evening have to the sun which imparts to them their interesting hues: they are only shadowy outlines which serve to express, iu the symbolic language of poetryi the objects of passionate emotion and of remembrances not unreal. Medora, the most lovely and interesting by far of these cloud-like phantoms, is not an individual, but an abstraction in the form of woman; her whole character consists in being that which Conrad loved. And Conrad himself, and Lara, and Alp, and Harold, are but the varied expression
Vol. VII. N. S. 2 A
of one class of feelings condensed as it were into one vivid conception in the mind of the poet. On this one image, thus multiplied in the fantastic reflections of thought, it seems to be the highest intellectual solace for the Author to fix the intent gaze of his imagination; not like Narcissus, enamoured of the reflection of himself, but losing in the contemplation of that social shadow, the conscious wretchedness of the original.
• Tis to create, and in creating live
But that very passion for intensity of feeling, which- is the unhappy characteristic of Lord Byron's mind, renders him incapable of taking pleasure in the creation of imaginary beings from the purer elements of fancy, and the ordinary materials of humanity. If any thing has power to banish for a moment the ever present thought of self, which like an external presence seems to haunt him, it must be of a nature too horrible, too agonizing to be simply pleasing, or else of that commanding sublimity which suspends, as by physical force, onr individual recollections, 'lulling them to sleep amid the music of nobler 'thoughts.' Of the power of natural scenery to produce this adequate excitement, and to hold the faculties in a trance-like oblivion of the insignificant interests of this world, no one 'appears to be more deeply susceptible than the Author of these poems; and few have succeeded so well in breathing an intellectual soul into the inanimate forms of grandeur, power, and beauty he"describes. The following stanza presents a striking instance*
• But these recede. Above me are the Alps, The palaces of Nature, whose vast walls Have pinnacled in clouds their snowy scalps, And throned eternity in icy halls Of cold sublimity, where forms and falls The avalanche - the thunderbolt of snows! All that expands the spirit, yet appals, Gather around these summits, as to show ■ How earth may pierce to heaven, yet leave *ain man below.'
*The descriptive power displayed in the next specimen we shall transcribe, is of the very highest order of excellence. Wordsworth, whose strength lies in enduing materiality with intelligence, has nothing finer of the kind.
'Clear, placid Leman! thy contrasted lake,
This quiet sail is as a noiseless wing
'It is the hush of night, and all between
'He is an evening reveller, who makes
* Ye stars! which are the poetry of heaven!
Our destinies o'erleap their mortal state,
• All heaven and earth are still—though not in sleep,
And silent, as we stand in thoughts too deep:—
'The sky is changed!—and such a change! Oh night,