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and consider them as gifts from God, is driven, by custom, to think lightly of his faculties—10 depress his immortal yearnings, and subdue “the better part of man” within him; to believe the glow of thought a trifle, and the uprising of his soul toward its Maker, the play-game of an idle hour. And for whose sake is this course pursued ? For whom does he thus underrate his intellect, and drive himself into the confession that he too is a muckworm, and “ of the earth, earthy ?" Why, for those who think that the efforts of the soul, if not convertible at once into dollars, are of far less moment than handicraft rewarded : and who carry out to the full, in their creed, the sentiment so sententiously disclosed in Horatian numbers:
“Magnum pauperies opprobrium jubet Quidvis et facere et pati,
Virtutisque viam deserit arduæ.” The author of Alnwick Castle has had the discrimination to appreciate this condition of society, and has governed himself “ in a concatenation accordingly," as the man says in the play. Born in the country-his young eyes familiarized with majestic and beautiful scenery—the fairest leaves of the great volume of nature opening invitingly around him, he moved onward in his juvenescence, like Obidah the son of Abensinah, in the oriental tale, who left his caravanserai early in the morning, and pursued his course over the plains of Indostan. He was fresh and invigorated with rest; he was incited by desire; he walked swiftly forward over the valleys, and saw the hills gradually rising before him.” With this freshness about his spirit, as we may easily conceive, HALLECK began his intercourse with the world. In this country, as is well known, no man can put his hand to the plough of enterprise and employment, and look back successfully therefrom. At any rate, if meaner souls indulge in the deleterious retrospections of life, the writer of Alnwick was not of the number in his early day. It came to pass that he was transplanted from the earlier retirement of the country to a city location, where he soon became commingled with the traffickers of the metropolis, and found the spirit of " the sugar trade and cotton line" descending upon him. How many lovely images, the first-born of his fancy, have been lost over the day-book or the blotter, no one but himself can tell. At night, as one may readily suppose, when his mercantile countings, balances, and registries, were done, his countenance became sicklied over with the pale cast of thought, whose thick-coming influence marred his rest. We have no idea, however, of pitying him for his position—for it was doubtless that which compelled him to husband his best imaginings, and pour them forth, in happy moments--Heliconian emissions VOL. XXI.-NO. 42.
--gushes of genuine inspiration. His feelings and his ideas were thus condensed into song; and he wrote that which must endure. Yet we cannot but believe that many a charming stanza has run through his mind, as he walked, " at morn or dewy eve," which perished in voiceless conception. Of his hours of retirement, it may doubtless be said, as he philosophized or built castles in town or country-
"Yet not in thoughtless slumber were they past,
Ten thousand great ideas filled his mind; But with the clouds they fled, and left no trace behind." His city residence, however, did not seduce our author away from the remembrance of the country. He reverted to its calmness, its seclusion, and its purity, in many a melodious line. To him there was a charm in recollected rocks, waters, and vernal uplands—“ruris ameni rivos, et musco circumlita saxa nemusque.” He heard, even in the crowded and garish ways of the town, those celestial voices which breathe at night from echoing hills and thickets, over land and sea. The power of these entered into his heart of hearts; but he was environed by the every day realities of a crowded capital ; the follies of its dwellers passed in daily review before him; and, quenching within himself what we must call his better inspirations, he launched his bark of authorship upon the sea of satire. In doing this, he acquired a burlesque habitude of style, which we regret to say became afterwards almost a passion with him, and the effects of which are absent from but very few of his compositions. In the verses of Croaker, written in conjunction with others, his spirit roamed and revelled among the stupidities or the “sins, negligences, and ignorances," of the town. Many a citizen rued the movements of his caustic quill : but like the sword of Sir Lucius O'Trigger in the comedy, it was no less polished than keen. There is one species of satirists that may be called insupportable : those who condemn without grace,
and rebuke without good nature. This propensity, in man or woman, but especially in the latter, is beyond endurance. It is produced from ungenial minds, and betokens the utter absence of those lovely humanities, without the enforcement of which no writer can enduringly or really please.
Since he dissolved his partnership with the firm of Croaker and Co., Mr. Halleck—who has been justly accredited in the literary world as the chief operator in the concerns of that well
known house—has had little to do with satire. Not that its vein is extinct within him; but he has too much goodness of heart to engage in the breaking of social butterflies upon the wheel of ridicule. The follies of the time are numerous enough, it is true; and no week or month elapses in which they might not be castigated with effect; but the task is an ungracious one, and is usually assumed by unamiable spirits. It was a love of effect, mainly, which induced the author of Alnwick Castle originally to adventure himself in a sphere where he doubtless would have continued to shine—but not in a light grateful to himself, in retrospective contemplation. It is certain that true satire is pleasing to all but the object on whom it falls; “good natured friends” laugh at it; the pictures it gives are drawn with a fidelity which nothing can dislimn; every one owns the joke, though many may not approve it. It is a dangerous power, therefore; but it has its degrees. Pre-eminence in satire
Its secondary grades are personality and caricature--and thus the art, in its inferior spheres, cannot be agreeable to a high-minded man, who might indeed pursue it as far as he would list, if self-respect did not constrain him. But it is with satire, we suspect, as with love-_" affection ceases when contempt begins:" and he who keeps about him the constant, refreshing redolence of a gentleman, is extremely cautious to shun even the appearances of a departure from the honourable laws adopted by every one who deserves the name. Motives of this nature have unquestionably caused Mr. Halleck to stop before he violated one principle of social amenity, or alienated personal esteem. He has left the field of satirical remark to twilight spirits, and humble caricaturists, who paint without faithfulness, and revile without good nature. The editions of Croaker have been denied to the press, while the poems of which they were merely the promise still live, familiar to the eyes and lips of men.
If, however, our author ever felt a momentary regret that he did not keep up his hunt for the follies and foibles of metropolitan life, he has been abundantly consoled in the success of those better, though not more popular works, which seem to have emanated warmly from his soul, and to have been dashed upon paper by a hand burdened and busy with the genuine promptings of genius. Intending to offer proofs of his sudden power, it is not improper to preface them with our impressions of the method by which Mr. Halleck commits himself “to virgin sheets.” He does not seize upon one bright and lofty thought, and, delighting in it, per se, dilute it into a column or a page; he preserves it; he joins it with others that may occur to him from time to time, whether he move at nightfall along the dim streets of the city, catching glimpses of the distant country
across the Hudson or the bay, as the sun sinks to his evening pavilion--or whether he gain an afternoon to visit suburban landscapes, and “walk in the fields, hearing the voice of God:" and when his mind is full, he pours it forth, a deluge of strong and brilliant imaginings. He suffers little or nothing to go forth to a cold-bosomed public which does not bear the impress of a master's hand. The first poem in the volume before us establishes the powerful originality of his style. In the present age of indiscriminate locomotion--when the universal Yankee nation," using the phrase in the national sense, are every where present in Europe, by travelled delegations--we all know how stale and unprofitable are their pictures and descriptions of ivied ruins and broken turrets, the homes of rooks and owls-where the inoon is as constant an attendant for
tourist, as if she were hired for the occasion, under a contract of “no postponement on account of the weather ;" we know the thricetold tales of halls, and armours, and corridors, and so forthpart romance, part reality ;--and it is an easy thing to set them down at their true value. But, let the reader peruse such a concentrated sketch as the following of Alnwick Castle--and will he ever forget it? Not soon.
“Gaze on the abbey's ruined pile:
Does not the succouring ivy, keeping
As o'er a loved one sleeping ?
Still tells, in melancholy glory,
The Percy's proudest border story.
from aisle to pictured dome,
The music of the trump and drum;
Welcomed her warrior home.”
We ask a close attention to the lines we have Italicised. If there be any thing more delicious in the whole range of English literature, we have not yet encountered it. Something akin to them may be found in Bassanio's exclamation in the Merchant of Venice, when he draws from the leaden casket that which assures him how he is beloved :
“Fair Portia's counterfeit! What demi-god
Here are sever'd lips
In this little gem of a picture, the author of Alnwick has taken us back to the past. The pomp and circumstance of the victory and the return are there; the harpings in the hall of triumph; the shouts of retainers; the joy of the feast; the draining of huge draughts of Rhenish down ;—the speaking roll of the drum to the “cannonier without;" and the echoes which that noisy functionary sends thrilling magnificently toward the empyrean. This is abbreviated romance--it is the spirit of unadulterated chivalry. The true poet alone could thus embody the scenes of other days. Sorne who affected the burlesque, and shone therein, have delighted to imagine that knights templars have left their blacksmith's bills for mending coats of mail unpaid, all the way from England to Palestine; and bold historians have sometimes represented them as clumsy horsemen, with their limbs galled, and their unwashed persons irritated, by rusty armour. We do not, for our parts, aflect this dissolving of ancient spells: and we can scarcely forgive those venerable chroniclers, Froissart, de Thou, or Stowe, for representing the characters of so many heroes, “dear to fancy” and treasured in the recollection of every true lover of the brave and noble, apparently in puris naturalibus--without that ornament which, with the aid of their recorded deeds, imagination could easily supply. For the same reasons, we take but little pleasure in perusing those short narratives in the Decameron of Boccacio, from which Shakspeare has built a fairy and unconquered world. Who would go to the dull outline which some old monk or annalist has furnished of Romeo and Juliet, when he could revel in that glowing description written by the bard of Avon ? The moonlight sleeps upon the garden of the Capulets, when we survey it from the window of our imagination, as palpably as if the rustling of its leaves were in our ear ;-we hear the stifled sigh-the broken vow-the voice of Philomel singing in the branches. What has “unaccommodated” history to do with the enchanting transactions of that balmy night, and the loving interlocutors who made its presence holy? By the mass, nothing. The poet's duty is to give us things, robed couleur de rose; to shed around nature a perfume richer than the breath of the violet--and to suffuse it with tints more magical than the blush of morning." A power or skill like this bespeaks more readily the poet, nascitur, non fit, than the wildest bursts of animal passion : it exhibits a quality, ethereal—heavenly—which owns no touch of this working-day world. And as often as we think of the devoted pair of Verona, so often are we reminded of their familiar identity; as if we saw the noble girl sinking into the tomb of her fathers. In our mental vision,