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His part is worst that touches this base world. Although the ocean's inmost heart be pure, Yet the salt fringe that daily licks the shore Is gross with sand."
mony that deserve and compel our approbation. But we are sorry to say there are many others of a very dif ferent description. First and foremost, with regard to our poet's rhymed or lyrical verses, we must pronounce them in general complete failures. The ear that seems so exquisitely modulated to all the harmonies of blank verse, forgets its cunning altogether when a lighter measure is attempted. Thus, in a long poem introduced into the present scene, and supposed to have been written by some unknown friend of the hero, some one whose superiority to himself he acknowledges in the following rather humble confession :—
"He was the sun, I was that squab-the earth !"
Or more figuratively, in the following correct and intelligible comparison :
With sluggish veins of mud."-p. 24.
In this poem, attempted to be written in the metre of "Locksley Hall," the correct flow and music of the lines are lost at least six times. The first break is at the fifth line, the second at the eleventh, the third at the thirty-fifth, the fourth at the fortieth, the fifth at the forty-sixth, and the sixth at the seventy-fifth line. We are thus particular to show that any charges we bring against our author are not made carelessly or at random, and that they are intended for his good. The poem itself is a sort of "life drama" within a life drama; a dream within a dream. The poet's friend seems to have gone through the same phases as the poet himself. The poet of " Rimini," in some of the early editions of that poem, makes one of his heroes confess, that
"He had stout notions on the marrying score." But stout as they were, they must have been "plain X" to the opinions of the gentleman who makes the following candid admission:
"In the strong hand of my frenzy, laws and statutes snapt like reeds,
And furious as a wounded bull I tore at all the creeds!"
A Papal Bull might have been correctly described as tearing away at some of the creeds, and getting himself occa
sionally torn in turn; but what a sublime picture of the poet tearing away at all the creeds in this frantic way is this?-now transpiercing the Nicene, now transfixing the Athanasian, now dandling them playfully on his horns, and tickling the Augsburg Confession with the tip of his tail! But although he has stout notions" about the creeds, he has no doubt whatever that the souls of men are very sadly used and abused in this vale of tears. A greater than our author has told us of the base uses" to which the body may be put after death; but long be fore that event, see how the soul suffers:
"In the dark house of the body, cooking victuals, lighting fires,
Swelters on the starry stranger, to our nature's base desires.
God!-our souls are aproned waiters! God!
our souls are hired slaves. Let us hide from life, my brothers! let us
hide us in our graves!"-p. 33.
What a novel meaning does not the second class of souls in the first line of the foregoing quotation give to a favourite phrase in general use among our rural countrymen! How often do we not hear them say, in their genuine patois, "Ah! but he had a tindher soul;" meaning, of course, one of those ill-treated souls whose occupation in this life is "lighting fires!" As to the second division, we suppose that the poet meant only to convey that some souls, like politicians of whom we have heard, were only "waiters" Providence!
an isle" (thanks to God, it can't be "Old Ireland"), he said
"It lay in the giant embrace of the deep
These lines, though much more felicitous than Mr. Smith's, he had the good taste to expunge in the collected edition of his poems. -an example which, here and elsewhere, our author may follow with advantage.
The poem, however, which the poet intends to write, is really a comprehensive work. It is, as the lady says
"As wide and daring as a comet's spoom."
It is to begin before the creation of anything, and end after the destruction of everything, containing
"The tale of earth,
By way of episode or anecdote."
What is this after all, but a poetical version of the famous Welch pedigree, in the middle of which the genealogist parenthetically mentions, about this
time the world was created?" The scene concludes, of course, with another allusion to Marc Anthony and Cleopatra.
As might have been expected, the poet has fallen in love with the lady, and the third scene describes him as anxiously looking forward to their next interview. She has asked him to have a poem ready for that occasion, or as she expresses it in her truly feminine
"Wilt trim a verse for me by this night week?"
Just as she would say to her milliner, in an easy colloquial tone
"Canst trim a cap for me by this night week ?"
He feels quite satisfied of his own love, but he is not so certain of hers. If she would but return his affection what would he not do for her? have heard of many generous promises made under similar circumstances, but never anything like the following. These promissory notes generally drawn at "three months after marriage," and too easily "accepted" by the fair fiancée, are in most cases protested against at the expiration of that period; but our present lover puts any fear of that out of the question. He will begin at the beginning:
"Would she but love me I would live for her."
He says (what a pity it was not "with
urges their steps to the sea-shore-the same dream or vision of
"A maiden singing in the woods alone;"
the same rapture and the same vague and mysterious termination. That there are beautiful lines and thoughts here as elsewhere through Mr. Smith's poem we freely admit, but these do not atone or account for his giving an abridged and more prosaic version of what Shelley had already done so inimitably well. Shelley, who described the voice and music of his ideal maiden in the following lines
"Her voice was like the voice of his own soul Heard in the calm of thought: its music long,
Like woven sounds of streams and breezes, held
His inmost sense suspended in its web Of many-coloured woof and shifting hues," would never have gone bird-nesting for an illustration like our own poet"More music! music! music! maid divine! My hungry senses, like a finch's brood, Are all a-gape."-p. 48.
Walter and the lady meet in the fourth scene on the banks of a river. Before repeating the promised poem he again alludes to his departed friend, "the feeder of his soul," pointing out the places where they had read the poets together, where they had drank
"The breezes blowing in old Chaucer's verse," or hung
"O'er the fine pants and trembles of a line,"
they being, we suppose, the unavoidable breaches or inexpressible modulations of the verse. The lady becomes impatient for the tale, which the poet will only recite beside a certain well, where once
"A prince had woo'd a lady of the land,
And when, with faltering lips, he told his love,
Into her proud face leaped her prouder blood;
She struck him blind with scorn, then with an air,
As if she wore the crowns of all the world, She swept right on and left him in the dew."-p. 56.
We do not know how it is, but we lways read this last line
"She swept right on and left him in the dumps,"
as we think the condition of his feelings, and not the position of his feet, ought to have been described. We cannot dwell upon the poem which Walter reads to the lady, and in which he paints his own, and as it turns out, his unsuccessful love for herself. Her fate is sealed. After his declaration she exclaims
"O Sir! within a month my bridal bells Will make a village glad. The fainting earth
Is bleeding at her million golden veins, And by her blood I'm bought. The sun shall see
A pale bride wedded to grey hair, and eyes Of cold and cruel blue; and in the spring A grave with daisies on it."-p. 79.
We must not, however, omit mentioning that the principal character in the poem recited by Walter, is a young Indian page "a cub of Ind," as his proud mistress calls him, and certainly the most precocious" cub" that we ever had the misfortune to meet with or read of. This "lustrous Leopard," another pet epithet for Young Ebony, though generally candid enough to declare
"How poor our English to his Indian darks !"
was satisfied to put up with his haughty mistress as his mistress, if she had no objection. How the modest proposition was received may be imagined. At first, she mocked and sneered at him, principally, as it would seem, for his having
"A chin as smooth as her own."
But fearing, we suppose, that the youth would promise to use a double quantity of bear's grease for the future, she orders him off
"Go now, sir go,'
As thence she warned him with arm-sweep superb,
The light of scorn was cold within her eyes."
The whole of this episode, we must say, appears to us extravagant and unreal, with a decided smack of minor theatrical ranting. We cannot further pursue our minute analysis of the poem. The story can be told in a few words. The lady, who marries the old gentleman with the eyes of "cruel blue," keeps her word, and dies exactly at the time she promised. Walter is, of course, much grieved; goes on a pilgrimage to her grave, and is rather angry that the daisies have not yet co
vered the fresh, red earth. He is shortly after induced by another friend of his, a new "feeder of his soul," to go down to Bedfordshire with him on a visit to an old gentleman, named Mr. Willmott, who has a charming daughter of the still more charming name of Violet. This old gentleman must have had the most extraordinary notions of propriety, as the first evening they are all assembled in his comfortable parlour, and in his daughter's presence, he sets the two young men singing "roaring songs" which, without the wit or melody, have a thousand times the warmth and amativeness of those of Mr. Thomas Little. Miss Violet obligingly joins in this family concert. Such a beginning, of course, speedily brings on an appropriate termination. The young lady and the young visitor Walter, mutually seduce each other (we know not which is most or least to blame) on "the lawn," probably opposite the very window where the good Mr. Willmott is reading the morning's Times. Remorse seizes on Walter; he flies away; he has serious notions of throwing himself from some rural " "Bridge of Sighs," but thinks better of it; writes a great poem, and then rushes headlong into dissipation, exactly in the way Byron has described the class of people, who
"First write a novel, and then play the devil."
He disappears for three years; returns; makes an honest woman of Violet, and the last we hear of them is their going in together into their house to avoid the night dews, with a degree of matrimonial quiet perfectly delightful, after the fever of unrest in which author, hero, heroine, and reader have been so long kept.
Before concluding our observations on this remarkable poem, we must adduce a few more passages in support of the opinion we have expressed both of its beauties and of its defects. A fatigu ing brilliancy, a straining after novel and singular combinations, is, no doubt, one of the most obvious characteristics of our author, but that he can err in the very opposite direction is equally true. In addition to the passages of this kind already given, we must offer a few others. In the first one, we have our old friend, Marc Anthony, again :
"Gods! I cried out, Anthony, Anthony! This moment I could scatter Kingdoms like halfpence."-p. 164.
It were easy to multiply passages of greater and certainly of more striking beauty even than these, but it is unnecessary. We have said enough to show, that if we cannot be blind to the defects of our author, we are not insensible to his great and unquestionable merits. He has gained two important results by his present publica tion. He has obtained a hearing, and he has awakened expectation memorable triumphs which neither Shelley nor Keats (the influence of whose writings in the best portions of his book is perceptible), ever achieved during their lives, though now, as he himself truly says:
"The fame that scorned them while they lived, Waits on them like a menial."
We look with hope and curiosity for his next work. Let it be a simpler, if a loftier temple, to the true divinity of song, to whose service and worship we think he is called. To do this he must, in the first place, turn away from his pagan idolatry of images, becoming as it were the iconoclast of his own fancy. He must abandon the affected jargon of little cliques and coteries, and use the universally received language of good sense and good taste. He must divest his mind of an idea that seems very strongly impressed upon it in the present poem, that not only
"It is love, 'tis love, 'tis love
That makes the world go round,"
but that the same powerful passion is the one thought and sole occupation of everything in creation, from the sun, moon, and stars, which are perpetually ogling each other, to the waves and winds, that are eternally kissing and embracing, as well beings of their own species as everything else within their reach, in the most ardent and extraordinary manner. In this respect, his present poem is but an expansion of Shelley's little lyric, "Love's Philosophy":
"See the mountains kiss high heaven,
Finally, he must be less liberal with his brilliants, or distribute them with more judgment. Were they all even of the first water, he must recollect that diamonds were never So valueless as in the "Valley of Diamonds " itself.