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and enchanting description may outlive the circulating library, and refresh poetical spirits, when the cleverest stories are forgotten.
IV. The moral quality of the larger portion of Mr. MOORE'S "writings will excuse us from entering into so minute an examination of their merit as might otherwise be demanded by the talents they manifest. Above all authors who have degraded their talents by lending brilliancy to vice, he has attempted to confound the grossness of evil with the refined elegance of virtue, and the voluptuous breathings of unhallowed passion with the pure and ennobling pleasure which springs from chaste and innocent affection. No emotions, indeed, could be more distinct than those he has aimed at combining ; the one a melancholy proof of the degradation of man ; the other a sweet influence from heaven, and one of the most delightful proofs of our immortal destiny. While the latter pollutes the most sacred places of the soul, the former ameliorates the borrows, and charms away the vexations of life, awakens every generous sympathy, attunes the soul to the harmonies of creation, and throws over the whole of existence a calm and equable pleasure, better loved as it is longer felt; and when the vivid colors of its infancy have faded, softening down into a more than earthly friendship. The deception was, I hope, too glaring to be extensively pernicious; and the feelings too evidently distinct to minds of common sensibility, even in the delirium of a moment, to be mistaken.
It is worthy of observation, that the most exalted pictures of that holy affection, which to paint most lovelily is to paint most truly, are to be found in the works of poets who have for the most part been engaged in more solenın contemplations, or in describing more heroic and lofty pursuits, while those who have professedly devoted themselves to delineate its varieties have sunk into the panegyrists of irregular and vicious indulgence. There is nothing in the tenderest parts of Ovid or Petrarch at all comparable in chaste loveliness to the glimpses of domestic endearment we catch from Milton; or the exquisite descriptions of all that is gentle and generous, on which Shakspeare, in the midst of his dark and stormy passion, permits us occasionally to repose. Nor is there anything paradoxical in this circumstance. Amatory poets, by dwelling for ever among the sweet retirements of love, without extending their speculations to those lofty regions with which they are connected, or catching the gleams of heavenly light which glimmer through its myrtle bowers, learn to analyze, with too curious a minuteness, the emotions which give the first spring to the elegancies with which they are encircled, and to profane the sanctuaries with whose influence they should have been contented to be inspired. Other
authors, on the contrary, who catch but a ravishing glimpse of its · holiest abodes, enjoy from thence a thousand beautiful images which
, which literary Hence hit out confined to a miscan
refresh their spirit and shed new charms over their aspiring career. Thus they excite those gentle and serene feelings which prepare the soul for a warm admiration of all that is beautiful and sublime ; they mellow, and fertilize it, and enrich it with all the sweetest of human charities, while they enable it to feel its kindred with the Great Fountain of Tenderness.
Mr. Moore has probably been unfitted for becoming an exception to these observations by his exclusive partiality for associations purely classical. Among the authors whom he has studied most deeply, and whom he has been most anxious to imitate, Love, as elevated by the delicacies of modern times, was almost whoily a stranger. The female character could boast little intellectual eminence among the most enlightened nations of antiquity. Even in the higher ranks of life it was reduced to a miserable subservience; a state in which women were confined exclusively to domestic occupations, and were shut out from all regular access to the temple of knowledge. Hence it was that very few ever appeared conspicuous in literary attainments, who had not first forsaken the duties to which the sex were so ridiculously confined. While the respectable part of the Grecian ladies were occupied solely in spinning and, embroidery, those who had left the course of peaceful innocence were presiding in the schools of philosophers. When the minds of the sex at Rome were solely bent down to menial drudg. ery, the frail and lovely Egyptian Queen was giving audience, in their own languages, to ambassadors of every nation of the East. Hence it is that woman, in the poetry of those nations, was either represented as a lifeless piece of inimitable statuary; or if animated by wit and other intellectual charms, as deficient in the domestic virtues, with which the whole should have been hallowed. In a state of society, if society it ought to be called, where females are reduced to slavery, they can seldom burst their thraldom without passing the boundaries of goodness; and the consequence must be the total absence of love at once pure and exalted. Mr. Moore, therefore, formed his style upon models which, with all their splendor, were lamentably imperfect. He has been dazzled with brilliant imagery, and captivated by the most fascinating distribution of words, till he has believed that language so glowing must be the expression of refined passion; and that so enchanting a diction can veil nothing but the sweetest tenderness. He mistook the harmonies of verse and music for those of the soul. This error is more deeply to be lamented, as the bard whom it has led astray possesses powers which might have shed new charms on goodness; and which have lent graces to evil, that have rendered it more seductive. In Italian softness of versification, in Horatian elegance of language, and in sparkling brilliancy of imagination, he is quite un
His image eetly luxuulies he
equalled. His images of external nature, though neither very bold nor diversified, are sweetly luxuriant, and encircled with a rich tint of mellowness. To these beauties he adds most of the interesting qualities of his country, whose excellencies he is so proud to celebrate-a genial cordiality of spirit, a warm open-heartedness, and an ingenuous sense of his failings, by which we too frequently allow folly and evil to be redeemned. It is surely melancholy to reflect on the prostitution of talents like these; on the loss of mental peace as well as lionorable fame, which so gifted a writer has incurred; and on the irreparable mischief he has done to the guileless and unsuspecting, by polluting that deep spring in the bottom of the heart where the purity of heaven was reflected.
Evil, however, as the general tendency of Mr. Moore's writings has been, they may not have been wholly without benefit in circumstances where they could not be pernicious. In those unhappy persons who have deviated so widely from the paths of goodness, and sunk so deep in the recesses of vice, as to have suspended all the better tastes of the mind, they may have done something towards reviving them. By linking even with sensuality the language of exalted feeling, and by scattering over it the elegances of classical imagery, they may win the miserable votaries of false pleasure into something like reflexion, and habituate them to associations in some degree above their degraded level. As the innocent may have become familiar with the demon, for the sake of the radiant angel to which she lias been linked by the poet, some who have hitherto been familiar only with the demon, may be won into admi. ration of the angel so unexpectedly discerned in the midst of corruption. While they imitate the forms and speak the language of virtue, they may suddenly be charmed with her true loveliness--a ray of light from their happier days may fash upon them like a gleam of heaven, and they may be awakened to participate in the contrition and amendment of a writer who is now bitterly lamenting the mischiefs he has produced.
Guilty as he has unquestionably been, the charge of a coldblooded and elaborate attempt to seduce the unsuspecting, is, we believe, totally unfounded. The freedom and passionate temperament of his spirit, the unfeigned misery which he has frequently shewn to be concealed beneath his gaiety, and his starts of vehement remorse, and evident struggles to detach himself from his polluted associations, must destroy an idea which would make us blush for our species. In some measure, indeed, from these causes, the poems would, to a well directed mind, carry their own antidote by the striking picture they exhibit of genius, which, once degraded, strives in vain to reach that goodly region where it might for ever have wandered amidst chaste and imperishable delights. The vanity
which all writers, not absolutely of the first order, feel in the praise bestowed on their productions, is sufficient to account for the publication of a strange mixture of vice and repentance, without supposing the author to be possessed with the fiend-like desire of seducing ; in the same way that many a sceptic has ridiculed the doctrines of religion, for the mere pleasure of displaying the brilliancy of his wit, and the acuteness of his arguments, without reflecting on the effects of the poison he had almost unconsciously distilled. It is too, unwise as well as barbarous, to conjure up the spectres of his former offences, in order to haunt a man who has repented. Are anonymous literary critics, like the Edinburgh reviewers, to usurp the province of heaven, while they are totally forgetful of its mercies ? Are we to render a man vicious for ever, by perpetually reminding him of his misdeeds ? Is there to be no refuge for those who have once crred, no opportunity of redeeming their fame, no room for them to atone for their offences, by defending the virtue they have insulted ?-God forbid that human errors should be so heavily visited by Man, that any fellow creature, especially one gifted with large capacities, should be represented as too debased for reform, or too polluted to become eminently useful! Mr. Moore can never, indeed, be what he might once have been--bis finest associations can never be unmingled with bitterness—he can never enjoy the recollection that he has written “no line that dying he could wish to blot,” but he may yet produce a most powerful effect by the complete reformation of his writings, which have hitherto been lightened only by transient flashes of remorse, and by the directing of that fiery spirit towards its native regions, “ which showed something of a strait line even in obliquity, and gave hints of an improveable greatness in the lowest depths and degradations of our nature.” The change is evidently commenced in the beautiful harmony of his Irish melodies. The stream which has been so long disturbed is working itself clear, and it will yet steal along through still and sequestered scenes, to refresh the sacred retirements of domestic bliss, and reflect the luxuriant foliage and flowers on its margin, with some small glimpses of the pure heaven opening between them. • V. We are now to estimate the poetical merits of a nobleman, who, at present, enjoys the largest share of popular favor, and in the progress of whose genius to its full splendor there is much room for speculative enquiry. Lord BYRON arose into excellence from a station which has been justly regarded as unfavorable to original productions. While the lower walks of life have been gladdened by many a lovely flower which has unfolded its sweets
beneath their shady retirements, the sunny elevations which lie ncar the summit of society have been singularly fruitless. The cares and vanities of that lofty region tend greatly to diminish and fritter away the finer sensibilities of our nature, while it confers so much distinction and so much glittering pleasure in itself, that those who are already endowed with its blessings, are not likely to aspire after a nobler fame, or, with so much delight around them, to seek for the more secluded pleasures of the taste and fancy. And even if a higher species of vanity should prompt them to cultivate the powers which they may happen to possess, it might be supposed that from their classical education, and their regular habits of ceremony and pomp, they would become mere imitators of the great authors of antiquity. We might suppose that they would preserve the stiff formality of their rank in the style of their compositions, would make thein brilliant and sparkling like the crowded drawing-rooms where they would be admired, would imitate the buskined dignity of the continental school, and would never appear in rhyme any more than at court, without the full dress costume of Queen Anne. One might conjecture that they would be any thing but bold admirers of nature, and would aim at dressing their productions in those gorgeous and tinsel ornaments, by which the deep workings of the heart are so completely obscured. Such reasonings appear very natural and clear,—when to confound all our theories, the noble author before us bursis on us in the noon-tide vigor of daring genius, astonishes us by original thinking, as bold as if he had never read a line of Aristotle, and overwhelms us with bursts of passion as powerful, as if he had never been introduced at court, or figured in the assemblies of fashion.
Another circumstance attending his success may be regarded as still more curious--the rapid extension of his faculties in the short period which elapsed between the publication of his first effusions, and the composition of his Childe Harold. No one among the few who perused those early poems at their first appearance, filled with common-places and worn-out affectations of sensibility, would have imagined that the noble Minor would so soon ainaze the world with those terrible bursts of passion, with wbich we have since become so familiar. Among the rubbish which the Edinburgh Review was so anxious to remove from polluting the haunts of the muses, more candid and impartial eyes could observe very slight indications of that rich vein of thought, which has since been unexpectedly unfolded. Lord Byron, indeed, seemed to discover no great partiality for the regions of imagination, and regarded himself rather as a casual visitant, than as one who would delight to penetrate deeper into their recesses.
A solution of both these mysteries, and an explanation of the