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And bade the lovely scenes at distancehail!
Still would her touch the strain prolong; And from the rocks, the woods, the vale, She call'd on echo still, through all her song:
And where her sweetest theme she chose, A soft reponsive voice was heard at ev'ry close ;
And HOPE enchanted, smiled, and waved her golden hair!"
Scotland! thou, too, hast thy Bard of Hope-and in imagination's hallowed ground we hear his song ascending heavenwards like the sound of a silver trumpet. Do not these lines equalize Campbell with Collins?
"Auspicious Hope! in thy sweet garden grow,
Wreaths for each toil, a charm for every
Won by their sweets, in Nature's languid hour
The way worn pilgrim seeks thy summer
There, as the wild-bee murmurs on the wing,
-yet visionary both with dreams like realities, and realities like dreams! You have by heart the glorious opening of the Poem. Gaze on it, along with these two pictures-and know with what wondrous facility genius can brighten and shadow forth the lights and glooms of life by those of nature -a union in which the Beautiful is felt to be the Sublime.
Fear not that we are about to indite a critique on Campbell. You know that we never in all our days indited a critique on any great Poet. No philosophical critic, thank Heaven! are we; though we have read the Stagyrite. But from the golden urn of the Inspired we devoutly seek to draw light; and have no higher aim than to let it fall at times on the pages of Maga, in illustration of the Fair, the Good, and the True.
Therefore, bear with us for a time, while we animadvert, in a kindly spirit, on a critique on the Collected Works of Campbell, indited by a philosophical critic in the highest of our Periodicals -the Quarterly Review.
"Mr Campbell," he says, "has here comprised, within the modest
What aceful dreams thy handmaid spirits compass of a single volume, the whole
What viewless forms the Eolian organ play,
of his poetical works. When the writings of a well-known author are thus collected and republished, the
And sweep the furrow'd lines of anxious question naturally arises, not how thought away!"
they will be received by a contemporaneous public-for this has already been decided—but what respect they are likely to obtain at the hand of posterity-what place will be allotted to them in the abiding literature of the. country? In an honest attempt to determine this question, the critic cannot do otherwise than judge by the highest standard of excellence. Calling to mind whatever is of old and acknowledged repute in the kind of literature in which the new aspirant for fame has laboured, he must submit his writer, not to a comparison with living rivals, but to a competition with the picked champions-the laurelled victors of all preceding ages. must applaud as if within hearing of a jealous antiquity. He must be permitted to escape from the glare which falls on present reputation. In criticism, as in higher matters, it is only by receding into the shadows of the past, that the eye becomes susceptible to the faint outlines which futurity extends.”
On this formidable announcement of the critic's intentions, we wish to offer a few remarks.
In the first place, there seems to be implied in the words "comprised, within the modest compass of a single volume, the whole of his poetical works," an insinuation that Mr Campbell's muse has not been very prolific. "Within the modest compass of a single volume," however, are comprised nearly three hundred well-filled pages of poetry-containing, we should suppose, more than double the number of lines written by Gray, Collins, and Thomas Warton. At the side of the multitudinous works of most of the other true poets of this age, Campbell's shrink into small size indeed; but they afford specimens, neither few nor short, of many kinds of poetical composition. It may be true that his taste is too fastidious-but it is not true that his genius is confined, any more than it is true that the authors of The Elegy, and the Ode to the Passions, had not souls formed in "the pomp and prodigality of heaven," though all their immortal compositions are comprised" within the modest compass of a hundred pages. Compared with the best English poets of his own class-and a noble class it is-Campbell is a voluminous writer.
Secondly, it seems to us that there is something insidious in giving the go-by, so lightly, to the reception of Campbell's poetry "by a contemporaneous public.", A little further on, the critic enters into a very ingenious and finely-written explanation of the 66 many causes which assist in giving celebrity to a living poet, whose name may, nevertheless, be destined to pass away with the generation that praised and delighted in him; and though such causes cannot be intended to apply in their full force to Mr Campbell for the critic does not deny him the gift of genius—and genius is deathless -yet either they are intended to apply to him so far, or they are impertinently introduced, with much formality, into an elaborate disquisition on his genius, in which" an honest attempt is made to determine what place will be allotted to them in the abiding literature of the country."
Thirdly, we think that the critic ought, after his array of " causes which assist in giving celebrity to a
living poet, whose name may, nevertheless, be destined to pass away with the generation that praised and delighted in him," to have said or shown how many of them have operated—and to what degree-more especially in favour of Campbell's fame. For it kindled at once into a blaze-and has continued to burn with a strong and steady light for forty years-not only uneclipsed, but unobscured, all through one of the most glorious eras of English poetry.
Fourthly, the critic, to prevent misconception on the one hand, and, on the other, to make his estimate more philosophical, ought to have entered far more fully than he has done into an examination of the nature of the power which Campbell's poetry confessedly possesses over "a contemporaneous public"-that it might have been seen whether it was likely to endure, or to pass away with the causes or circumstances of the times that may have contributed to its transient triumph.
But, fifthly, we respectfully submit to the critic's consideration, whether or no it be perfectly fair to select Campbell from the host of living poets
-or but lately dead-and subject the claims of his genius to "respect at the hands of posterity," to a test which has not been applied in the same Journal to the reputation of any of his illustrious brethren. Why fix on him to undergo a trial to which neither Crabbe, nor Rogers, nor Southey, nor Wordsworth, nor Coleridge, nor Scott, nor Moore, nor any other "prevailing poet," has yet therein been brought? Nay, of almost all of them, the works have been written of-and well written of-in a style of criticism as different as may be from that on which we are now letting drop a few remarks, currente calamo; yet they have all "received respect from a contemporaneous public.'
-independently of, and over and above their own intrinsic meritsmust have operated in their favour too, and helped to elevate them to a place in the esteem of this generation far higher than they may occupy in that of the next, or ever again in the hearts of men born ages after they have been laid in the dust. Compare the spirit of the many critiques on Coleridge, so prodigal of praise and lavish of eulogy-and we blame them
not-with this one critique on Campbell-so cold and chary-and it will be allowed by all, that either the one poet has had dealt to him more, or the other poet less than justice.
Finally, the critic has not done what he pledged himself to do with the poetry of Campbell. He has not examined his pretensions to immortality," in competition with the picked champions-the laurelled victors-of all preceding ages." He has not examined his pretensions at alleither in themselves positively, or relatively to those of the "great heirs of fame" who have succeeded to their inheritance. Be the genius of Campbell what it may, you will seek for its character in vain through the few disparaging pages of that critique; and certainly, of all "honest attempts to determine a question," we never read one so indifferent to data.
Let us, therefore, strictly examine the judgment so authoritatively pronounced on the genius and achievements of this most delightful poet.
After speaking of him with high praise, and in felicitous language, as a writer who, ❝ having adopted the same compact and lucid style of composition as Pope's, has frequently attained the same species of excellence," and "at least secured an immortality of quotation," the critic goes on to say-" But if Mr Campbell has frequently rivalled his master in the flow of his verse, and the elegance and force of his illustrations, he cannot be said to share in that keen and vigorous sense, and that penetrating observation of mankind, which distinguish our great Poet of Society. Neither has he frequently risen into those higher regions of poetical enthusiasm from which Pope was confessedly remote." This is most unfair; Pope is "our great Poet of Society ' taking society in the limited significa tion here assigned to it-Campbell is not; and yet his genius is here depreciated, because it does not exhibit qualities for which nobody would look in such poetry as his, and which could not have been exhibited there, without utter destruction of its vital spirit! That" Pope is confessedly remote from the higher regions of poetical enthusiasm," is worse than a rash assertion. He has frequently risen into those higher regions and so has Campbell in
many a glorious flight. And there, their genius, if you choose it, may be compared; but whether you agree with us or no in that assertion, it is not possible for you to disagree with us in this: that it is the height of injustice to seek to detract from the genius of the poet of the Pleasures of Hope, and Gertrude of Wyoming, and Ye Mariners of England, and Lochiel's Warning, because they do not display "that keen and vigorous sense, and that penetrating observation of mankind which distinguish our great Poet of Society"forsooth-in his Satires and his Rape of the Lock; for the Essay on Man -a philosophical poem of the highest order-does not seem to fall under the above description; but if it do, the injustice to Campbell is just as great as if it had been objected to him that his powers were not of the same kind as Milton's.
The critic continues-" We know not whether it will be considered as an advantage or a disgrace, that in an age of philosophical poets, Campbell is without boast or appearance of philosophy. His verse bears no trace of anxious meditation; nor does his heart seem ever to have been implicated in that suspense and vicissitude of feeling that await on speculative enquiry. But as poetry is addressed to the generality of mankind, this absence of a profounder strain of meditation than they are disposed to follow, may be regarded as no fair objection, or viewed even as a circumstance fortunate to his fame." Finely and truly said-in the general-nor have we any serious objection to make to the spirit of such a passage. But we may be allowed to observe, that Campbell wrote Hope at a time when, so far as we his Pleasures of know, there was not a philosophical poet within the Four Seas—and pray, where are they now? philosophical poets! Why, except An age of Wordsworth, not one of them all deserves the name. philosophical poetasters, would be Age of pseudonearer the mark. True that his "verse bears no trace of anxious meditation" -why should it? But sentiments such as his, "so tender and true". emotions, deep and high, carrying us with them as they sink or soarwere all the birth of Thought-of Thought "not implicated in that suspense and vicissitude of feeling
that await on speculative enquiry" an unhealthy state, not of strength but weakness but clear and untroubled in its creative mood, and genial as the spring. Campbell has written much criticism-without any parade of philosophy; but what has Shakspeare himself said through the lips of Hamlet, Lear, Othello, or Macbeth, that Campbell does not show he understands-whether veiled in darkness or in light-as
"Airs from heaven or blasts from hell ?"
"There is, however, another defect manifest in his compositions, which cannot be so readily excused. has too frequently drawn his topics, not from the stores of his own consciousness, or from actual observations upon the realities of life, but from the learning of books; he has taken the impressions left by the writings of other men for the subject-matter of his own verse; he has been more occupied with words than things. The Pleasures of Hope-the earliest, but yet the most successful of his works is more particularly marked, as might be expected, with this error of youthful poets." Why, if it be "an error of youthful poets," it might have been more gently urged against the originality of Campbell, who wrote the Pleasures of Hope-a wonderful achievement when he was under twenty! He could not have had much booklearning at that age, nor much knowledge of the "realities of life," nor large "stores of his own consciousness;" but he had geniusthe mens divinior. Nature had made him a poet-and in the transport, the tumult, of his "delighted spirit," he beautified all the visions that visited it, and gave vent to joy-and to the joy of grief in impassioned music, "strong as the soul of a mountain river"-like the sea fluctuating in purple light, which is oftentimes a darkness and in its sweetest murmurs still heard to be rolling-a power at peace! To support those charges, and they are serious ones-indeed such as, if true, would shear that noble poem of all its beams-the reviewer proceeds to quote two or three lines here and there, from the Pleasures of Hope to criticise them-and to make a number of rash and untenable assertions of utter failure where success has been complete. The quotations should
have been ample, since the charges. were sweeping; and the poem should have been spoken of throughout with enthusiasm as a youthful production
whatever may be its faults or defects-full of force and fire-flowing from an exalted imagination and an awakened heart.
"At the commencement of the piece we are presented with a succession of situations from real life, in each of which the sentiment of hope is to be displayed in operation; and although, in the course of these descriptions, many lines occur of great beauty, yet nowhere is the sentiment itself, as springing from, and involved in, the particular circumstances of the case, vividly and naturally portrayed. Here he has failed simply from not having fixed his eye with sufficient steadiness on the thing itself he meant to describe.
"The sailor who, while stemming the monotonous and interminable ocean, thinks of his distant home, and finds his spirit upheld by the hope of returning to it again, is an admirable subject for the poet. The sentiment felt is one which readily commands our sympathy, and the external circumstances with which it is associated are highly picturesque and magnificent. With these last Mr Campbell may have succeeded, but he has not been equally fortunate in presenting to us the feelings of the man. takes his mariner to the Atlantic'Where Andes, giant of the western star, With meteor-standard to the winds un
Looks from his throne of clouds o'er half the world.'
He then carries him to Greenland, where
'Cold on his midnight watch the breezes blow,
From wastes that slumber in eternal snow'
And having set him fairly again on the broad ocean, he gives an enumeration of those images of home which are supposed to engage the mind, and feed the expectation of the sailor. In this catalogue there is not one circumstance which could be selected as a manifest violation of probability; and yet the reader feels throughout that it is a collection of topics gathered from remote sources, not the result of a strong realization in the poet's mind of the feeling of the home-sick mariner."
If these freezing remarks be false, as we believe they are, the surest way to thaw them is to quote the whole passage, and well known as it is, it delights us to do so, for a copy of Campbell is not on all parlour tables, though on many thousands.
"Angel of life! thy glittering wings explore
Earth's loneliest bounds, and Ocean's wildest shore.
Lo! to the wintry winds the pilot yields His bark careering o'er unfathom'd fields; Now on Atlantic waves he rides afar, Where Andes, giant of the western star, With meteor-standard to the winds un
Looks from his throne of clouds o'er half the world.
"Now far he sweeps, where scarce a summer smiles,
On Behring's rocks, or Greenland's naked isles:
Cold on his midnight watch the breezes
From wastes that slumber in eternal
And waft across the wave's tumultuous
While, long neglected, but at length caress'd,
His faithful dog salutes the smiling guest, Points to the master's eyes (where'er they roam)
His wistful face, and whines a welcome home."
What better could our excellent friend, if he will allow us to call him so had he his heart's content-possibly desire? We feel assured that he is willing to eat his words-and to pronounce-with us-the passage perfectly beautiful. The poet has not
given us here" a collection of topics gathered from remote sources"-you must not say so-you must not indeed -for were that dog to overhear you finding fault with his master, he would bite the calf of your leg-and though not mad he-you might happen to die of the phoby.
"And waft across the wave's tumultuous
The wolf's long howl from Oonalaska's shore."
Had Coleridge written these two lines, Heavens! how the Quarterly would have extolled them to the skies-and
The wolf's long howl from Oonalaska's Maga rejoiced to join her-for their
imitative harmony-that is howlingand what not-while all the ears in the neighbourhood would have been deaf. ened with perpetual mouthings of→ "OONALASKA'S SHORE." Bless "the wolf's long howl' to the ghastly moon -for the sailor-as he shuddered to hear it-thought of his far-away faithful dog "whining a welcome home " -and his heart was in heaven."
In a note, the reviewer says of the three lines above about Andes, "This passage, we believe, is a general favourite. The last line deserves applause; a mountain, viewed from a distance, may be visible above as well as below the clouds, and the expression
Looks from his throne of clouds o'er half the world,'
is as just as bold. But the passage is disfigured, to our taste, by the introduction of too many points of similitude with human grandeur. • The giant of the Western Star, shall be allowed to pass in all its vague magniloquence; but the meteor-standard to the winds unfurl'd,' inevitably suggests ideas of military pomp, if not of military office, which accord but ill with the mountain's solitary and severe