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seem to some.
of the footsteps of a genuine poet, of a man of true | an omen for the future. Its glorious promise has and fervid genius. The flowers and the fruits of yet to be fulfilled. poetry are scattered round in tropical profusion. Fitly, and with beautiful decision, the finest words
From a late London paper. fall into the aptest places. The structure of the
THE FRENCH FRIGATE PSYCHE." —A NEW verse follows the thoughts as their echo. We
SHELL. have pictures in abundance, and in many styles. A severe simplicity sets off the wealthiest exuber- WHILE the invasion question is so much agi
The familiar and the lofty, the ideal and tated, the following description of a novel French the homely, the comic and the tragic, run side by frigate, and a new missile with which she is armed, side, obedient to a master's hand. There is also will be read with interest; it is from the Lisbon character, nicely conceived, subtly drawn forth, correspondent of the Times : and sustained with dramatic exactness.
“ As much has been said at home of the wonthere is hardly an element of first-rate poetry derful capabilities of a French ship of war now in which is not contained in the Princess. Yet the the Tagus, called the Psyche, commanded by question remains whether or not it is a great poem, Count Gourdon, I am glad to say that I have had and we fear the answer must be a negative. Mr. an opportunity of discussing with persons wellTennyson has more than redeemed his reputation ; informed on such subjects, who inspected her, the has indeed materially advanced it; yet has failed peculiarities of her construction and armament. to satisfy us. So exacting is a hearty admira- The Psyche is not a steamer, as has been erronetion.
ously stated ; she is simply a smart frigate of 40 We take the philosophy of his work to be thor- guns, as well manned and as well appointed as oughly sound, and not so superfluous as it may any vessel of the same class in the British navy.
Several very thoughtful and subtle Though rated a 40-gun ship, she carries but 30; but questions are opened up in it; many truths evolved these are of tremendous weight; the 22 on the that profoundly affect us in our human relations ; main being all 84, and the eight on the upper deck many that concern not a little those social ills to being 32-pounders. These guns can be used inwhich it supremely behoves the poet to apply his differently for shell, round shot, or grape ; but healing art, his “medicinal gums.” The idea, they are exclusively devoted in the Psyche for extoo, is thoroughly original. Mr. Tennyson's periments on a concussion shell, which being a relearned ladies have no affinity to the savantes or cent Gallic invention, is exclusively employed in the precieuses. The matter involved is altogether the French service. The shell in question has no different. Few will be disposed to laugh at Lady fuse, and it is perfectly harmless ; it passes a cerIda ; rather, all will be ready with allegiance. tain distance through the air, with a certain degree Various and abundant as Mr. Tennyson's raptures of velocity. It ignites by concussion, and not by have been in honor of the Claribels, and Lilians, percussion ; and its chief destination and operaand Isabels, and Madelines, and Adelines, and tion is that of lodging in the matter aimed at, and Eleanores-glorious as his dreams of fair women of setting fire to it—though it should pierce the always are —this poem in that respect surpasses object, it will produce all the effects of an ordinary all, and “outdoes his former outdoings." The shell as it explodes. It is harmless until it gains ladies should vote him a testimonial. We, men, a certain velocity, and it may be rolled on the floor look poor beside them in the Princess. The color dropped from the upper to the lower deck withlege fails but for a greater triumph, and the palace out the least injury, and, even if it be broken in of love that springs up in its place has far fairer the fall, no mischief will ensue. The shell was and more beautiful proportions.
invented by Captain Billette, of the French naval Still we say, what the poem contains is greater service, and it was actively used in 1844, at Mogthan the poem itself. Why should Mr. Tennyson ador, with such terrific certainty that wherever it have thrown all this into a medley? He had some fell the town was instantly on fire. Persons in thing serious to say—why graft it on burlesque ? the habit of using it say that half-a-dozen lodging Some modesty there may be, but there is also some in the Howe, the Queen, or the Albion, would set sense of weakness ; and neither, in Mr. Tennyson, the ship in a blaze the moment they struck the were called for. Eminently, in the manliness of side, as each burrows in the wood, tears up all his thoughts, in the largeness of his view, and in about it, and ignites everything with which each his power of clothing the familiar in our human morsel of the contents comes in contact. There passions and affections “ with golden exhalations are neither mortars nor howitzers on board the of the dawn,” he is worthy to be the poet of our Psyche ; all her guns are fitted in the ordinary time. Why does he not assume his mission ? manner, as the shell to be effective requires no Why does he discredit it with trifling and with more elevation of the gun from whence it is dispuerilities unworthy of him? The “set” for charged than an ordinary round shot. whom he too much writes at present, are not the “ The vast superiority of a frigate having all world for whom he should be writing. In the her main-deck guns 84-pounders, and firing 10-inch Princess we have more decisive evidence of his shells from each, is evident, but the admirers of powers for a sustained and solid exercise of poetry the Psyche will not rest there, as they assert that than has heretofore been given. But it is yet only she is more than a match for a line-of-battle ship. When we shall see a British 60 or 80-gun ship of Helvellyn and Skiddaw, and of the blue waters allowing a French frigate to get within range of Derwent and Windermere. without blowing her out of the water, we may be The Cockney school was, if possible, a misnomer alarmed at the so inuch vaunted power of the more absurd-striving, as it did, in vain to include, Psyche. Still it is well to know that a French within one term, three spirits 80 essentially distinct frigate, rated at 40 guns, carries no less than twen- as Hazlitt, Keats, and Leigh Hunt—the first a ty-two 84-pounders on her main-deck, and eight stern metaphysician, who had fallen into a hopeless 32-pounders on her quarter-deck, and that half a passion for poetry; the second, the purest specidozen shot from them well placed are calculated men of the ideal—a ball of beautiful foam, cut to play destruction with an enemy of superior off from the water,” and not adopted by the air ; force, who does not commence by disabling her. the third, a fine tricksy medium between the poet Captain Billette, the inventor of the shell, died a and the wit, half a sylph and half an Ariel, now few weeks since in the naval hospital at Paris. hovering round a lady's curl, and now stirring the The secret of the new shell is known only to the fiery tresses of the sun—a fairy fluctuating link, proper department of the government; the officers connecting Pope with Shelley. We need not be on board are unacquainted with it. All they know at pains to cut out into little stars the Blackwood is that such articles are served out with other constellation, or dwell on the differences between munitions of war, and that when they have wit- a Wilson, a Lockhart, and a James Hogg. nessed the operation of the shell, the result has One school, however, there has appeared within invariably been the same.”
the last fifty years, answering to all the character
istics we have enumerated, namely, the Godwin From Tait's Magazine. school, who, by a common master the old man
eloquent himself—a common philosophical as well MRS. SHELLEY.-BY GEORGE GILFILLAN.
as poetical belief, common training, that of warfare Much as we hear of schools of authors, there with society, and many specific resemblances in has, properly speaking, been but one in British liter- manner and style, are proclaimed to be one. This ature—at least, within this century. There was cluster includes the names of William Godwin, never, for example, any such thing as a Lake school. Mary Wollstonecroft, Brockden Brown of America, A school supposes certain conditions and circum- Shelley, and Mrs. Shelley. stances which are not to be found among the poets Old Godwin scarcely got justice in this magazine referred to. It supposes, first of all, a common from Mr. De Quincey. Slow, cumbrous, elephanmaster. Now, the Lake poets had no common tine as he was, there was always a fine spirit animaster, either among themselves or others. They mating his most lumpish movements. owned allegiance neither to Shakspeare, nor Mil- never contemptible—often common-place, indeed, ton, nor Wordsworth. Each stood near, but each but often great. There was much in him of the stood alone, like the stars composing one of the German cast of mind—the same painful and plodconstellations. A school, again, implies a common ding diligence, added to high imaginative qualities. creed. But we have no evidence, external or in- His great merit at the time and his great error, ternal, that, though the poetical diction of the as it proved afterwards—lay in wedding a partiai lakers bore a certain resemblance, their poet- philosophic system with the universal truth of ficical creed was identical. Indeed, we are yet to tion. Hence the element which made the public learn that Southey had, of any depth or definitude, drunk with his merits at first, rendered them obliva poetical creed at all. A school, again, supposes ious afterwards. So dangerous it is to connect a similar mode of training. But how different the fiction (the finer alias of truth) with any dogma or erratic education of Coleridge, from the slow, mythus less perishable than the theogony of Homer, solemn, silent degrees by which, without noise of or the Catholicism of Cervantes. After all, what hammer or edge-tool, arose, like the ancient tem- was the theory of Godwin, but the masque of ple, the majestic structure of Wordsworth's mind! Christianity? Cloaking the leading principle of A school, besides, implies such strong and striking our religion, its disinterested benevolence, under resemblance as shall serve to overpower the specific a copy of the features of Helvetius and Volney, differences between the writers who compose it. he went a mumming with it in the train of the But we are mistaken if the dissimilarities between philosophers of the revolution. But when he apWordsworth, Coleridge, and Southey be not as proached the domain of actual life and of the hugreat as the points in which they agree. Take, man affections, the ugly disguise dropped, and his for example, the one quality of speculative intellect. fictions we hesitate not to characterize as among That, in the mind of Coleridge, was restless, dis- the noblest illustrations of the Sermon on the contented, and daring—in Wordsworth, still, col- Mount. But to the public they seemed the reiterlected, brooding perpetually over narrow but pro-ations of exploded and dangerous errors—such a found depths—in Southey, almost totally quiescent. load of prejudice and prepossession had been sosThe term Lake school, in short, applied at first in pended to their author's skirts. And now, the derision, has been retained, principally because it excitement of danger and disgust having passed is convenient—nay, suggests a pleasing image, away from his theories, interest in the works which and gives both the public and the critics “ glimpses, propounded them has also subsided. “Caleb Wilthat do make them less forlorn,” of the blue peaks liams," once characterized by Hannah More as a
cunning and popular preparation of the poison / way to the scaffold, and wished for a pen to “re-
shadow ?" yet it is much if that shadow sweep
thirty-nine,) was returned upon his ungrateful
" " Wanderer Of Shelley, having spoken so often, what more
by a swift and sudden darkness. Imagine the the shore, clean, as if washed by the near seaApollo Belvedere, animated and fleshed, all his sandy hillocks rising behind—and westward, the dream-like loveliness of form retained, but his eyes river, like an inland lake, stretching around Dunremaining shut! Thus blind and beautiful stood dee, with its fine harbor and its surmounting Law, Shelley on his pedestal, or went wandering, an which, in its turn, is surmounted by the far blue inspired sleep-walker, among his fellows, who, shapes of the gigantic Stuicknachroan and Benalas, not seeing his melancholy plight, struck and voirlich. Did the bay of Spezia ever suggest to spurned, instead of gently and soothingly trying to Mrs. Shelley's mind the features of the Scottish lead him into the right path. We still think, not scene? That scene, seen so often, seldom fails to withstanding Mr. De Quincey's eloquent strictures bring before us her image the child, and soon to in reply, that if pity and kind-hearted expostulation be the bride, of genius. Was she ever, like Mirza, had been employed, they might have had the effect, overheard in her soliloquies, and did she bear the if not of weaning him from his errors, at least of shame, accordingly, in blushes which still rekindle modifying his expressions and feelings—if not of at the recollection? Did the rude fishermen of opening his eyes, at least of rendering him more the place deem her wondrous wise, or did they patient and hopeful under his eclipse. What but deem her mad, with her wandering eye, her rapt a partial clouding of his mind could have prompted and gleaming countenance, her light step moving such a question as he asked upon the following to the music of her maiden meditation? The occasion ? Haydon, the painter, met him once at smooth sand retains no trace of her young feeta large dinner party in London. During the course to the present race she is altogether unknown; but of the entertainment, a thin, cracked, shrieking we have more than once seen the man, and the voice was heard from the one end of the table,“ You lover of genius, turn round and look at the spot, don't believe, do you, Mr. Haydon, in that execrable with warmer interest, and with brightening eye, as thing, Christianity?" The voice was poor Shel- we told them that she had been there. ley's, who could not be at rest with any new ac- We have spoken of Mrs. Shelley's similarity in quaintance till he ascertained his impressions on genius to her husband-we by no means think her that one topic.
his equal. She has not his subtlety, swiftness, Poets, perhaps all men, best understand them- wealth of imagination, and is never caught up selves. Thus no word so true has been spoken of (like Ezekiel by his lock of hair) into the same Shelley, as where he says of himself, that " an ad- rushing whirlwind of inspiration. She has much, amantine veil was built up between his mind and however, of his imaginative and of his speculative
His intellect led him in one direction- qualities-her tendency, like his, is to the romanthe true impulses of his heart in another. The tic, the ethereal, and the terrible. The tie detainone was with Spinoza—the other with John. The ing her, as well as him, to the earth, is slendercontroversy raged between them like fire, and even her protest against society is his, copied out in a at death was not decided. We rejoice, in contrast fine female hand-her style is carefully and suc with the brutal treatment he met with while living, cessfully inodelled upon his—she bears, in brief, to notice the tenderness which the most evangelical to him, the resemblance which Laone did to Laon, periodicals (witness the present number of the North which Astarte did to Manfred. Perhaps, indeed, British Review) extend to the memory of this most intercourse with a being so peculiar, that those sincere, spiritual, and unearthly of modern men. who camo in contact with, either withdrew from It is to us a proud reflection, that for at least him in hatred, or fell into the current of his being ; seventeen years our opinion of him has remained vanquished and enthralled, has somewhat affected unaltered.
the originality, and narrowed the extent of her It is not at all to be wondered at, that two such own genius. Indian widows used to fling themspirits as Shelley and Mary Godwin, when they selves upon the funeral pyre of their husbands : met, should become instantly attached. On his she has thrown upon that of hers her mode of own doctrine of a state of preëxistence, we might thought, her mould of style, her creed, her heart, say that the marriage had been determined long her all. Her admiration of Shelley was, and is, before, while yet the souls were waiting in the an idolatry. Can we wonder at it? Separated great antenatal antechamber! They met at last, from him in the prime of life, with all his faculties like two drops of water—like two flames of fire in the finest bloom of promise, with peace beginlike two beautiful clouds which have crossed the ning to build in the crevices of his torn heart, and moon, the sky and all its stars, to hold their mid- with fame hovering ere it stooped upon his headnight assignation over a favorite and lonely river. separated, too, in circumstances so sudden and Mary Godwin was an enthusiast from her childhood. cruel-can we be astonished that from the wounds She passed, by her own account, part of her youth of love came forth the blood of worship and sacriat Broughty Ferry, in sweet and sinless reverie, fice? Wordsworth speaks of himself as feeling for among its cliffs. The place is, to us, familiar.
“ The Old Sea some reverential fear." It possesses some fine features—a bold promontory crowned with an ancient castle jutting far out the But in the mind of “Mary' there must lurk a Tay, which here broadens into an arm of the ocean feeling of a still stronger kind toward that element -a beach, in part smooth with sand, and in part which he, next to herself, had of all things most paved with pebbles-cottages lying artlessly along passionately loved—which he trusted as a parent to which he exposed himself, defenceless-(he proves at once the power of the author, and a could not swim, he could only soar) - which he certain value even in the original conception. 'To had sung in many a strain of matchless sweetness, keep verging perpetually on the limit of the absurd, but which betrayed and destroyed him-how can and to produce the while all the effects of the subshe, without horror, hear the boom of its waves, lime, this takes and tasks very high faculties inor look without a shudder, either at its stormy or deed. Occasionally, we admit, she does overstep its smiling countenance ? What a picture she pre- the mark. Thus the whole scene of the monster's sents to our imagination, running with dishevelled education in the cottage, his overhearing the readhair, along the seashore, questioning all she meting of the “ Paradise Lost,” the “ Sorrows of if they could tell her of her husband-nay, shriek- Werter,” &c., and in this way acquiring knowling out the dreadful question to the surges, which, edge and refined sentiments, seems 'unspeakably like a dumb murderer, had done the deed, but ridiculous. A Caco-demon weeping in concert with could not utter the confession!
Eve or Werter is too ludicrous an idea-as absurd Mrs. Shelley's genius, though true and power- as though he had been represented as boarded at ful, is monotonous and circumscribed—more so Capsicum Hall. But it is wonderful how delithan even her father's—and, in this point, presents cately and gracefully Mrs. Shelley has managed a strong contrast to her husband's, which could run the whole prodigious business. She touches pitch along every note of the gamut-be witty or wild, with a lady's glove, and is not defiled. From a satirical or sentimental, didactic or dramatic, epic whole forest of the “nettle danger" she extracts or lyrical, as it pleased him. She has no wit, nor a sweet and plentiful supply of the “flower safety.". humor-little dramatic talent. Strong, clear de- With a fine female footing, she preserves the narscription of the gloomier scenes of nature, or the row path which divides the terrible from the disdarker passions of the mind, or of those supernat- gusting. She unites, not in a junction of words ural objects which her fancy, except in her first alone, but in effect, the “horribly beautiful.” Her work, somewhat laboriously creates, is her forte. monster is not only as Caliban appeared to Trinculo Hence her reputation still rests upon
-a very pretty monster-but somewhat poetical stein ;" for her“ Last Man,” “Perkin Warbeck,” and pathetic withal. You almost weep or him in &c., are far inferior, if not entirely unworthy of his utter insulation. Alone! dread word, though her talents. She unquestionably made him ; but, it were to be alone in heaven! Alone! word like a mule or a monster, he has had no progeny. hardly more dreadful if it were to be alone in
Can any one have forgot the interesting account hell ! she gives of her first conception of that extraordi- “ Alone, all, all alone, nary story, when she had retired to rest, her fancy
Alone on a wide, wide sea ; heated by hearing ghost tales ; and when the whole
And never a saint took pity on circumstances of the story appeared at once before
My soul in agony." her eye, as in a camera obscura ? It is ever thus, Thus wrapt around by his loneliness, as by a silent we imagine, that truly original conceptions are pro- burning chain, does this gigantic creature run duced. They are cast—not wrought. They come through the world, like a lion who has lost his as wholes, and not in parts. It was thus that mate, in a forest of fire, seeking for his kindred Tam o' Shanter completed, along Burns' mind, being, but seeking forever in vain. his weird and tipsy gallop in a single hour. Thus He is not only alone, but alone because he has Coleridge composed the outline of his “ Ancient no being like him throughout the whole universe. Marinere,” in one evening walk near Nether What a solitude within a solitude !-solitude comStowey. So rapidly rose “ Frankenstein," which, parable only to that of the Alchemist in St. Leon, as Moore well remarks, has been one of those when he buries his last tie to humanity, in his striking conceptions which take hold of the public wife's grave, and goes on his way, “friendless, mind at once and forever.
friendless, alone, alone.” The theme is morbid and disgusting enough. What a scene is the process of his creation, and The story is that of one who finds out the princi- especially the hour when he first began to breathe, ple of life, constructs a monstrous being, who, to open his ill-favored eyes, and to stretch his illbecause his maker fails in forming a female com- shapen arms, toward his terrified author, who, for panion to him, ultimately murders the dearest the first time, becomes aware of the enormity of friend of his benefactor, and, in remorse and de- the mistake he has committed; who has had a spair, disappears amid the eternal snows of the giant's strength, and used it tyrannously like a giNorth Pole. Nothing more preposterous than the ant, and who shudders and shrinks back from his meagre outline of the story exists in literature. own horrible handy-work! It is a type, whether But Mrs. Shelley deserves great credit, neverthe- intended or not, of the fate of genius, whenever it less. In the first place, she has succeeded in her dares either to revile, or to resist, the common delineation ; she has painted this shapeless being laws and obligations, and conditions of man and upon the imagination of the world forever; and the universe. Better, better far be blasted with beside Caliban, and Hecate, and Death in Life, the lightnings of heaven, than by the recoil, upon and all other weird and gloomy creations, this one's own head, of one false, homeless, returning, nameless, unfortunate, involuntary, gigantic unit revenging thought. stands. To succeed in an attempt so daring, Scarcely second to her description of the moment