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We think it certain that a great portion of the estimate in which Byron is held on the continent is due to his political tone; to his strong, but not extravagant zeal for the freedom of nations. Foreign nations are more ardent in their desire for liberty than we are, precisely because they have less of it; and they value more a poet who makes it his theme. But, moreover, Byron had the true tone of nationalism, as opposed to patriotism on the one hand, and cosmopolitanism on the other; he had raised himself above the position in which one's own country is regarded as the end of all things, without losing the sense of the distinction of nations between themselves. This would seem to be the truest mode, at present, of regarding mankind; for cosmopolitanism has something unreal about it, it is the view of a philosopher who communes with his own mind, but is neglectful of the world around. Shelley was a cosmopolitan; and his odes to liberty have about them something visionary, and even fanatical. Campbell and Wordsworth (in his sonnets) have written political poems which come next after those of Byron, though at a long interval. Both of these were patriotic rather than national or cosmopolitan; Campbell most distinctively so; and his well-known odes, though failing in breadth, have a flow and freedom only inferior to the poems of Byron. Wordsworth's sonnets, on the other hand, are somewhat dry and intellectual, though full of matter.
There is one poem of Byron in which the egotism, though existing, is yet not inordinate, and where, consequently, the pathos is pure and undisturbed ; the poet having a true notion of the relation which he himself bears to the outer world. This is his · Epistle to Augusta' (his sister); a confession of his own failure in life, which cannot but affect us :
• If my inheritance of storms has been
my proper woe.' It is this unassuming cgotism (though in other forms of it) that moves us in Burns and Heine; and it is a very different thing from the pure egotism which knows of nothing but itself and its own emotions.
Shelley and Byron, cach in a single instance, endeavoured to escape out of their own personalities, and depict the outward world with an impartial eye; Shelley in the Cenci,' Byron in
Don Juan.' It will be proper to consider how far they each succeeded in this attempt.
The “Cenci' has received much praise for accurate painting of men; but this seems to us a mistake. The language, indeed, is surpassingly vigorous, and many of the thoughts are most striking; all these belonged to Shelley himself. But surely the characters are very crudely drawn. How different is the unredeemed, causeless, fiendlike villany and bloodthirstiness of Count Cenci from even the most wicked of Shakspeare's characters! Macbeth, Richard, lago, Goneril, these are all human; in each case we see how it is that they become what they are; it is either from some great and overpowering ambition, or from meanness and insensibility of nature, or from low revenge acting on a mind that has accustomed itself to none but cunning and filthy thoughts. But what are Cenci's motives, predispositions, desires? There are none. And is anything to be made of the character of Beatrice? We doubt it exceedingly. It is possible, indeed, that placed in so extraordinary and dreadful position as she was, all subtle shades of motive and impulse may have been annihilated by the one thought and fear that had possession of her; but yet we cannot help thinking that a poet with a true insight into her nature would have found something more than those few bold lines which Shelley has drawn. The characteristics of the 'Cenci'are, in fact, very much the same as those of the Greek plays, and it would occupy a very respectable place among them ; not, perhaps, quite so high as the "Prometheus,' the 'Antigone,' or the Medea,' but decidedly above the "Seven against Thebes,' or the Philoctetes.'
· Don Juan' is, as has often been remarked, the fullest and truest exhibition of Byron's nature. There is extraordinary picturesqueness in the different scenes, particularly in the first four books; the satire, though too savage, is often good; and the outbursts of passion are more genuine and perhaps more splendid than in any of Byron's other works. It has no centre, and no plot, nor properly speaking any characters; for these all would have demanded concentration of thought, which Byron lacked. Yet, with all its faults, it is the greatest of Byron's efforts. No critic of Don Juan' ought to omit mention of that most graceful passage in which Jeffrey is addressed :
And all our little feuds, at least all mine,
Dear Jeffrey, once my most redoubted foe,
To make such puppets of us things below,
Are over; here's a health to “ Auld Lang Syne”!' &c. No passage that Byron ever wrote gives one so kindly an im
pression of him; and here we may well leave him. It is impossible not to regret that, by his early death, he lost the opportunity of earning a purer and less chequered fame than his early life had won for him; but he had affected Europe with a power that he could never have equalled in any other line. In him, as wel those whom we have classed with him, not we alone, but all generations of Englishmen must take an abiding interest. They are the latest of our poets whose inspiration was not borrowed, but original; those of the present day are the inheritors of their ideas; and if they have excelled the elder generation in care, in freedom from faults, in artistic completeness, they lack the fire and strength of that time when poetry was considered not so much an art to be perfected in isolation as a means of rousing men to great thoughts and great deeds, and when the very failings of poets resulted from the breadth of the field that they endeavoured to occupy.
ART. IV.-1. A Short Account of the Improvements in Gunpowder
made by Sir William Congreve, Comptroller of the Royal Laboratory; being the substance of a Patent granted to him on the
3rd of July, 1815. London, 1818. 8vo. 2. Etudes sur le Passé et l'Avenir de l'Artillerie ; ouvrage continué
à l'aide des Notes de l'Empereur, par Favé, Colonel d'Artil
lerie, l'un de ses Aides-de-Camp. Paris. 4to. 1862.: 3. An Act to amend the Law concerning the Making, Keeping, and
Carriage of Gunpowder and Compositions of an Explosive Nature, and concerning the Manufacture, Sale, and Use of Fireworks.
23 and 24 Vict., cap. 139 (28th August, 1860). 4. Copies of the Reports of Lieutenant-Colonel Boxer, R.A., and
of Correspondence relating to the Explosion of Gunpowder at Erith; and the Condition of Magazines and Manufactories of Gunpowder. Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed,
9th May, 1865. 5. First Report of the Magazine Committee. 21st July, 1865.
Printed for Her Majesty's Stationery Office. Folio.
Corporal the claims of Schwartz and Roger Bacon as inventors of gunpowder, 'embarrass us, and all accounts of it still more, by boasting of the invention some hundreds of years before.' This says nearly all that can be said on the subject, and Trim's solution of the question, “They are a pack of liars,' does not get rid of the difficulty. Substances resembling gunpowder in character were undoubtedly known and used in the East at a
very early period. The deflagrating properties of saltpetre, which occurs as a natural product in many parts of Asia, must have attracted early attention, and its employment as an ingredient of burning compositions could not fail to become general. But these, though used in warfare, were incendiary rather than explosive in their action, and the fabulous antiquity assigned to the invention of gunpowder by some cannot be supported by evidence. Modern interpretations and ideas have been attached to ancient terms which bear no such meaning: the 'fire-arms' of the Eastern nations were probably only darts or arrows carrying a quantity of burning matter.
M. Favé's quarto forms the third volume of the Emperor's great work on Artillery, the first part of which appeared as a small octavo at Liège in 1847, the preface being dated . Fort de Ham, le 24 Mai, 1846.' This contained a general plan of the work, which was to extend to five volumes. The table of contents to the third volume, commencing with the history, antiquities, and manufacture of gunpowder, has not, however, been closely adhered to by M. Favé. Indeed it would appear that some of the Emperor's conclusions have been materially affected by subsequent researches. Thus the second chapter was intended
to prove that
Les armes à feu sont une invention Européenne que ni les Chinois, ni les Indiens, ni les Perses, ni les Arabes, n'ont connue avant nous.' But M. Favé states that
*L'usage des canons chez les nations chrétiennes remonte authentiquement à une date antérieure à 1342; mais à cette date les documents qui vont être produits attesteront un art moins avancé que chez les Arabes et ne permetteront guère d'admettre une antériorité d'origine.'-p. 68. And again
"Les Arabes paraissent avoir été les premiers à lancer des projectiles par la force explosive de la poudre à canon.'
The first employment of fire-arms in Europe he places 'sûrement entre les années 1270 et 1320;' and the evidence which he adduces leaves little doubt that his conclusion is correct. The beginning of the fourteenth century may, therefore, be considered the starting point for all investigations into the history of gunpowder; for before that time there is as little interest attached to it, as to the history of steam before the days of Savary, Newcomen, and Watt. About two hundred years later, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, when the importance of possessing a homemanufacture was first recognised, gunpowder-mills were established in England. Before this time most of the powder used
was imported from abroad. The Evelyns at Long Ditton and Godstone were the first who carried it on, on a large scale, though the mills at Faversham were probably established quite as early.
Although gunpowder is the oldest it is still the best of all known explosives for warlike purposes; and although, with the exception of some improvements in the details of manufacture, it is the same as it was centuries ago, when “a ground handful of nitre, sulphur, and charcoal drove Monk Schwartz's pestle through the ceiling,' it is the only substance which chemistry has discovered that can be used with safety to propel a bullet from a gun. Ainongst the many improvements which have been made in all the appliances for killing, gunpowder, the mainspring of them all, has remained unchanged. Many other explosives, most of them of recent date and more powerful in their action, have been brought forward and tried ; but the very intensity and suddenness of their explosions are the causes of their rejection by the artillerist, for whose purposes the more gradual combustion of gunpowder is better suited. Even the latter is found too sudden and trying for the endurance of the monster guns of the day, requiring as they do exceptionally large charges, and the problem with all artillerymen at present is to devise some effectual means of controlling and modifying its disruptive force. This appears in a fair way to be accomplished, not by making any change in the composition of the substance, but by altering its physical properties—that is, the size, shape, density, and hardness of its constituent grains.
The powder-maker's art has been described with more truth than elegance as being all dirt and danger;' but it labours under even a worse imputation, that of being mere empiricism. Nothing, certainly, can be easier than to manufacture a rough kind of gunpowder, with the aid of no other appliances but a mortar and pestle. But facts unfortunately too frequently demonstrate that the manufacture of a strong clean powder, which shall be uniform in its physical properties and in its action, is a matter neither of ease nor of certainty, particularly when carried on upon a large scale. There are many niceties in the various processes which are as yet imperfectly understood, and many contingencies depending on the state of ihe atmosphere during the time of manufacture. In this country, too, the whole of the preparation and purification of the ingredients is undertaken by the inanufacturer, necessitating in every case, at least, great experience for the attainment of uniform results. And however lightly the science involved in powder-making may be held by some, it is incontestible that no foreign nation has as yet been able to manufacture gunpowder which can compete with that made at