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SERENE CLOSE OF LIFE.
He muses, turning up the idle weed;
“At night, when all, assembling round the fire,
Age has now
“Now in their turn assisting, they repay
Gladdening his spirit." — p. 53 — 61. We have dwelt too long, perhaps, on a work more calculated to make a lasting, than a strong impression on the minds of its readers - and not, perhaps, very well calculated for being read at all in the pages of a Miscellaneous Journal. We have gratified ourselves, however, in again going over it; and hope we have not much wearied our readers. It is followed by a very striking copy of verses written at Pæstum in 1816 — and more
- TEMPLES OF PÆSTUM.
characteristic of that singular and most striking scene than any thing we have ever read, in prose or verse, on the subject. The ruins of Pæstum, as they are somewhat improperly called, consist of three vast and massive Temples, of the most rich and magnificent architecture; which are not ruined at all, but as entire as on the day when they were built, while there is not a vestige left of the city to which they belonged! They stand in a desert and uninhabited plain, which stretches for many miles from the sea to the mountains — and, after the subversion of the Roman greatness, had fallen into such complete oblivion, that for nearly nine hundred years they had never been visited or heard of by any intelligent person, till they were accidentally discovered about the middle of last century. — The whole district in which they are situated, though once the most fertile and flourishing part of the Tyrrhene shore, has been almost completely depopulated by the Mal'aria; and is now, in every sense of the word, a vast and dreary desert. The following lines seem to us to tell all that need be told, and to express all that can be felt of a scene so strange and so mournful.
They stand between the mountains and the sea;
“ From my youth upward have I longed to tread
This classic ground. — And am I here at last ?
“ The air is sweet with violets, running wild
up the fluted shaft, with short quick motion,
“ In such an hour as this, the sun's broad disk
And what within them ? what but in the midst
And, turning, left them to the elements.” The volume ends with a little ballad, entitled “ The Boy of Egremond” - which is well enough for a Lakish ditty, but not quite worthy of the place in which we meet it.
Roderick: The Last of the Goths. By ROBERT SOUTHEY, Esq.,
Poet-Laureate, and Member of the Royal Spanish Academy.
4to. pp. 477. London: 1814.* This is the best, we think, and the most powerful of all Mr. Southey's poems.
It abounds with lofty sentiments, and magnificent imagery; and contains more rich and comprehensive descriptions - more beautiful pictures of pure affection — and more impressive representations of mental agony and exaltation than we have often met with in the compass of a single volume.
A work, of which all this can be said with justice, cannot be without great merit; and ought not, it may be presumed, to be without great popularity. Justice, however, has something more to say of it: and we are not quite sure either that it will be very popular, or that it deserves to be so. It is too monotonous — too wordy
and too uniformly stately, tragical, and emphatic. Above all, it is now and then a little absurd — and pretty frequently not a little affected.
The author is a poet undoubtedly; but not of the
* I have, in my time, said petulant and provoking things of Mr. Southey : and such as I would not say now. But I am not conscious that I was ever unfair to his Poetry: and if I have noted what I thought its faults, in too arrogant and derisive a spirit, I think I have never failed to give hearty and cordial praise to its beauties - and generally dwelt much more largely on the latter than the former. Few things, at all events, would now grieve me more, than to think I might give pain to his many friends and admirers, by reprinting, so soon after his death, any thing which might appear derogatory either to his character or his genius; and therefore, though I cannot say that I have substantially changed any of the opinions I have formerly expressed as to his writings, I only insert in this publication my review of his last considerable poem: which may be taken as conveying my matured opinion of his merits -- and will be felt, I trust, to have done no scanty or unwilling justice to his great and peculiar powers.
TOO UNIFORMLY SOLEMN.
highest order. There is rather more of rhetoric than of inspiration about him — and we have oftener to admire
his taste and industry in borrowing and adorning, than the boldness or felicity of his inventions. He has indisputably a great gift of amplifying and exalting ; but uses it, we must say, rather unmercifully. He is never plain, concise, or unaffectedly simple, and is so much bent upon making the most of every thing, that he is perpetually overdoing. His sentiments and situations are, of course, sometimes ordinary enough; but the tone of emphasis and pretension is never for a moment relaxed; and the most trivial occurrences, and fantastical distresses, are commemorated with the same vehemence and exaggeration of manner, as the most startling incidents, or the deepest and most heart-rending disasters. This want of relief and variety is sufficiently painful of itself in a work of such length; but its worst effect is, that it gives an air of falsetto and pretension to the whole strain of the composition, and makes us suspect the author of imposture and affectation, even when he has good enough cause for his agonies and raptures.
How is it possible, indeed, to commit our sympathies, without distrust, to the hands of a writer, who, after painting with infinite force the anguish of soul which pursued the fallen Roderick into the retreat to which his crimes had driven him, proceeds with redoubled emphasis to assure us, that neither his remorse nor his downfal were half so intolerable to him, as the shocking tameness of the sea birds who flew round about him in that utter solitude! and were sometimes so familiar as to brush his cheek with their wings?
“For his lost crowi