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wearied with the unexampled length and I am now, and I say it with sorrow, tediousness of the before mentioned four far removed from the society of those hours' sermon ;-secondly, I was desir- exemplary and pious people ; and I ous to partake of either Rain-Jam, Mid- beard, I confess, with something of Row, or Pinkie, three denominations of old Cameronian spirit and regret, that a ale, for which the landlord was become proposition has been made to remove deservedly famous, and in the brewing the meeting House, io to the neighbourof which, weak nerves, as well as a good ing town of Dumfries. Of my old fahead, had been doubtless consulted ;- vourites, few I understand survive, and and, thirdly and lastly, a dark-eyed year after year lessens the number of damsel from the mountains wished for those devout men who regularly passed my private opinion anent the sinfulness my Father's window on the Sabbath of dancing, and to instruct me in a near morn. Mr. Farely has long since been road over the bills to her father's house, numbered with the blessed—and Jean wbich stood io a remote glen on the Robson, a very singular and devout stream of Ae. While deeply employ- character, has also rested from her laed in taking a chart of this desart path, bour of instructing the youth of the CaI could not avoid remarking with what meronians. She taught the writer of particular gravity all were drioking, and this imperfect account to read—the Bimany getting drunk. Consolation had ble, and the famed Prophecies of Alexbeen poured forth in no stinted tide, for ander Peden. She tore the leaf from a huge wall of empty vessels flanked the the Bible which said, “ James, by the entrance. The proprietor of this house of Grace of God, Defender of the Faith," call for the thirsty, was a ruddy carroty- and denounced the name of Sunday as headed rustic, who had contrived io Popish, or what was worse, Prelatical, draw down his cheeks for the occasion, and caused us all to call it the Sabbath. in a manner unusually solemn. He sat She died 83 years old. She used to apart busied, or apparently busied, with flog her scholars, and exclaim,-" Tbou that chief of all sage books, the Young art an evil one—a worker of iniquity" Mao's Best Companion ; while his while the tawse and tongue kept uime daughter, as active a girl as ever chalked and told sharply. a score to a thirsty man, managed the The Cameronians make few converts business. But his mind bad wandered –few people are fond of inflicting on into a long and studious calculation of themselves willingly the penance of conthe probable profit in his fermentations, troversial prayers and interminable serand the Book, which was only put mons. There is a falling off in the there as a decoy to the godly, was neg. amount of the Flock. My friend, the lected. I contrived to withdraw it un- weaver, became a convert from convicperceived from before him, and for this tion. Another of the converts joined feat I was rewarded by a grim smile the cause in the decline of life,not with. from a broad bonneted son of Caineron, out suspicion of discontent, because his and a snuff from a Tuphorn with a sil- gifts had been overlooked by the minisver lid.
ter of the parish kirk, in a recent nomiOn returning to the meeting, the stars nation of elders. He was fond of argu. were beginning to glimmer, amongst the ment, and seemed not unwilling to adthin mist of the summer evening, and I mit the potent auxiliaries of sword and could see groupes, already at some dis- gun on behalf of the cause. On one octaoce, of the spectators retiring home. casion, he grew wroth with the ready Far differently demeaned themselves wit of a neighbouring peasant, on the the pious remnant. They crowded great litigated poiot of patronage—and round their preacher's tent after the re- seizing the readiest weapon of his wrath, pose of a brief intermission, and I left a bazel hoop-for he was a cooperthem enjoying a mysterious lecture on exclaimed, “ Reviler-retire--else I'll Permission, Predestination, FreeGrace, make your head saft with this ruog." The Elect, and Effectual Calling. On another time, he became exasperated
337 at the irreverent termination of an epic melodious trail of the tongue--and the gram on a tippling blacksınith, which frequent intrusion of explanatory notes, was attributed to Burns, who then resi- which the uoiospired could oot always ded within sight-at Elisland.
distinguish from the poem itself, all these On the last day,
things are departed and passed away, When sober men to judgment rise,
and the verses sleep as quietly as the Go drunken dog, lie still incog,
dust of the poet. Two other occasionAnd dinna stir if ye be wise.
al converts scarcely deserve notice The honest Covenanter, after three one of them was sayed from thorough days and three nights meditation, conviction by the well-timed exaltation brought forth his expostulation with the to a neighbouring precentersbip, and mighty bard of Caledonia. It commen- the other has returned to his seat in the ces thus
kirk, since the dark-eyed daughter of an Robert Burns ye were nae wise
adjacent Cameronian gave her band, To gie to Rodds sic an advice.
and it was a white one, to one of the It has lost all its attraction since the chosen who was laird of an acre of peatvoice of its author is mute, for who can moss—and I have not heard of any othrepeat it as he did—the pitby prelimi- er damsel of the covenant having caused nary remarks on the great poet's morals him to relapse. -the short Cameronian cough-the
CHARACTER OF LORD BYRON'S POETRY.
From the New Monthly Magazine, Nov. 1819. qui proficit in literis, deficit umen in moribus, particularly as I have nothing to hope magis deficit quam proficit.
or to fear, to win or to lose; I enter
not without einotion, but A UST estimate of national moral- the arena
ity,it is said, may always be made wholly without anxiety; and in the from the state of national literature. Onflict I call to the public to “strike The proposition is not universally true; but bear.” I have seen the strong sense where literature is thinly diffused the and caustic spirit of the writer of the morals of the country must be measured Baviad employed below their powers to by another standard. But when a
whip me those vermin," who fivecountry is in so high a state of civiliza- and-twenty years ago stained paper tion, that literature has become an oc
with the “ropy drivel of rheuinatis cupation instead of an amusement
brains," and break on the wheel the wben books are so rapidly circulated butterfly forms of Anna Matilda, Lau: and so universally read, that half the ra Maria, and Della Crusca, cum multis stock of the oation's ideas are borrowed aliis; I have seen the powerful club of from its writers—when men begin to the Anti-Jacobio Magazine wielded talk more of what is written than of with resistless effect against the hydrawhat is done, and authors come to leg- monster of the Gerinan school, and deislate to our opinions and our passions, molish, blow after blow, and every then tbe state of our Dational liter- blow a death, all the sprouting imps of ature, and the tone of the popular wri- the brood, who, in the language of the ters, become an object of the deepest Darwinian school, breathed the soft interest; for as the people of a country hiss, or tried the fainter yell.” But read so will they seel, and as they feel these were like the tormenting insects so will they act.
we brush away in an evening's walkIt is this circumstance that has forced they tease and they huz, but there is no my attention to the present favourites of strength in their wing, and no lasting literature. I am a man advanced in venom in their sting: they come like life, and neither irascible or jealous, shadows, so depart.' But yow I feel 2T
ATHENEUM VOL. 6.
like one who, after having got rid of glaring colours--are overcome by its those iosects that tormented him, and oppressive odour; but we sicken while hoping that the close of his progress we praise, and, before we bave ceased may be unmolested, sees to his terror to praise, the object of our admiration and astonishment a meteor rising above bas sickened too. There is, I allow, a the horizon, “perplexing bim with fear fearful excess of genius and passion, of change;' a meteor, the elements of when united, that obliterates for a mnowhose orbit are beyond all calculation, ment the distinction between right and whose fiery hair shakes “pestilence” wroog, and makes us half believe, that though not war-and who retires troub- vice so dignified is almost virtue, and led and anxious how the night so por- virtue so overshadowed almost loses its lentously ushered in 'may eod.
lustre. But this union of powerful talIt must be obvious that I allude to ent and intense feeling is very rare; the Lord Byron-a phenomenon to whom Jewish theology distinguished well bethe literature of no age can produce a tween the spirits who knew most, and parallel : would that he were not a the spirits who love most. Lord Byron greater phenomenon, if possible, in the has no excuse from that dangerous umoral than in the intellectual world— nion of mental enthusiasm, and heartwould that the inscription which poste- born passion, that may lead far astray rity must place on the pedestal to which the minds of youthful poets when they modero idolatry has raised him, were love, but leaves behind it a glorious and not to be like that placarded on the fearful light, like that which follows the statue of Louis XVih.: “Sans foi, erratic path of the meteor. sans loi, et sans entrailles." I feel bis There is a generous and almost noble genius-1 know his popularity-1 vice in that superb devotion, that know his power—I care not; power, “proud humility,” with which we proswhen employed in the cause of evil, trate ourselves before the object of our only calls for a louder cry of denuncia- earthly adoration, it has (I speak it with tion if it may be resisted, or of depre- reverence) many of the characteristics cation if it may be averted. I will say of true religion, it has the same spirit what I think, and let his idolaters think of self-resignation, of humiliation, of what they say.
I am aware of the dan- profound abjection of spirit, of an utter ger I incur in attacking the popular prostration of all its powers, mental and idol, but I heed it not; he is like the bodily, before the idol for whom it is image in the dream of the king of Baby. dearer to die than to live for the first oblon, he is part gold and silver, but part ject on earth-such is the enthusiasm of brass and clay, and such an image must youthful passion, Lord Byron bas fall and be broken in pieces.
nothing of this ; he makes love like a Time and morality will deal alternate sensualist, or a bandit; he loves only to blows at its perishable frame, like the enjoy, or to ravage ; he stoops not to giant-statues with their flails in the vis- admire the brilliant colours, or to inhale ionary adventure of Roderic. The the delicious odour of the flower; if he blows of the former are slow—the blows stoops it is to crush, to trample, and to of the latter are sometimes decisive at destroy ; he never remarks or commends once. What has become of Rochester, one single moral or mental quality in the and Sedley, and Vanburgh, and Wych- object of his passion ; he appreciates erly? Nay, who reads Dryden oow her with all the callous and calculawithout wishing his pages expurgated ting brutality of a slave-merchant (in immoral poetry was never long-lived. the miserable countries in which he Let the noble writer remember that, wastes his existence) by her locks that and let his adınirers remember it 100- sweep the ground, or her naked feet tbat a brief and forced esistence is bestowed outshine the marble : he is a Mahomet on it from the hoë-bed of contemporary (vacillating between lust and ferocity) pruriency of feeling-we wonder at its who would grasp the bright locks of his rapid growth--we are dazzled by its Irene, and strike off her head before his
339 bashaws, pour un coup de theatre. The and wiped them with those rich and reman knows nothing of passion. dundant tressess so olten garnished with
There is also a pardonable enthusiasm meretricious decorations and displayed in youth : the brilliant and seductive as the popular banner around which vice colouriog with which imagination paints and voluptuousness were summoned to the deformity of life—it is venial—it is rally-tresses wbich should have rather almost justifiable to represent it to oth- streamed like the hair of Berenice, the ers in this light.
ornament of earthly loveliness, and the We have not to fear that the decep- symbol of celestial invitation—the light tion will be contioved : perhaps we of earth, and the star of heaven. have to fear it may be dispelled too Youthful poets bave bad their errors, soon-in travelling through the desert but they have had their reformation ; of life, if a delirious companion points the acute susceptibility, and severish deout to us a mirage, and invites us to sire of excitement that led them far drink, we cannot but sympathize with astray was a pledge of their happy rethe delusion we almost partake of. turn--the pendulum touched by no morReality is equally insufficient for the de- tal band vibrates heyond all mortal calmands of the imagination and of the culation, and the writer who set out in heart, and poets, the slaves of both, his triumphant career of folly, pruriency, may be forgiven if they paint with and vice returns from bis alternate os. glowing and exaggerated touches a cillation purged, purified and sanctified. world of their own, a world of love and None but ininds of power can prove music, and fragrance, of flowers that these extremes; all minds of power in steal their balmy spoils from Paradise, their turn have proved them, they have and airs that“ lap us in Elysium :” and erred, and are bid by the voice of man if they dwell too much on the first of and God to“ go and sin no more.”these exquisite elements of their paradise The muse of Byron sets out at once in we pardon them,for we feel that life has the extreme, ber language is blasphealready undeceived us, and will soon my, her character misanthropy, her pasundeceive them; they will learn that ha- sion hatred, her religion despair. I tred is much more the business of the have before spoken of that desert in world than love; that in lise, to speak which other writers have tried to rear the language of the schools, suffering is the flower, or to flatter with the mirage. the essence and joy the accident. The horrors of the desert are not enough
Almost the first straids of every poet for this writer, he aggravates them by bave been devoted to Love, but bis lat. breathing over its wilds the icy Sarsar ter, or at least the greater part of his wind of death, and watching in its works, are dedicated to Grief. Even withering hiss the echoes of that blast, the muse of Moore (the loosest of mod. which announces the annihilating desoern poets) has latterly changed her garb lation of his own powerful and blasted and her accent, as the French say, to mind-in the breath that exhales from throw herself into religion. It is said his pages, no flower of life can bloomshe can accommodate herself even to no verdure can flourishi, no animal can the monotonous psalmodizing of a He. live--the heart and its passions, life and brew synagogue--can in a fine la Va- its purposes, are alike suspended—nothliere style resign the luxuries and mag. ing of creation can prosper ;
“ the icy nificence of the court, embellished by air burns fierce, and cold performs the her charms, and polluted by her deprave effect of fire." What becomes of the ity, for the coarse weeds and chilling convert pf bis poetical creed ? (poetical austerity of a Carmelite penitent; or, creed, for he has no other,) the victim to speak in a more awful metaphor, we gazes around him, wonders why or for hope the barlot has converted her dear- what he lives-love is illusion-nature ly-bought gains into the price of the a name—religion a farce--and futurity ointment of her conversion, bas bowed a jest—the convert vows, believes inat her Saviour's feet, and wept there, nothing—“ dies, and makes no sign."
--- But “God forgive" the author. Io I had been only heaping coals of fire writing of Lord Byron do I dare to de- on his head. ny or depreciate the genius of the first Every talent so depraved becomes a poet of the age ?-No-1 were unwor. crime; the intellecttual powers rise up thy to be his meanest reader did I not in judgment against their betrayer, eveconfess to his immortal dishonour (let ry line (however its echo may be drownnot those words be lightly esteemed), ed by infatuated praise) bas a voice that he is a man whose intellectual pow. that says Why hast thou ihus dealt ers might, like those of the ancient matb- with thy servant ?"-praise is the bitematician, shake the world from its terest salire, and admiration a horrible place—God grant he may never find and bollow mockery.- 1 know no eshis 78 sw-or we may tremble for the altation inore terrible than intellectual dissolution of the moral universe.--I eminence thus seated like the regicides grant him genius " beyond the poten- of old in a chair of torture, crowned tiality of intellectual avarice"-imagin- with a circle of burning metal, and ation that exalts worlds, and then im- whose anointing turns to poison as it agines new—an eloquence of poetry drops on the head of the usurper-wbile that might draw after it the third part of all the subject talents that should “ put heaven's bost were they yet untempted to their mouths the sounding alcherry," map imperial command of the whole turning away from the pomp “ plead region of poetry from its highest sum- trumpet tongued against the deep dammit to its lowest declivity--an eye, nation” of their apostate sovereign, and whose reach extending beyond ihe their own abused and prostituted enerrange described by Shakspeare himself, gies. scoros the restraint of that “ proud lim- But I have spoken enough of Lord itary cherub," and glances not only Byron, let him now speak for himself. from heaven to earth, hut from heaven The end of all poetry is to jostructor to hell--a felicity, richness, a variety of to please. He who seeks either from poetical modulation, for which nothing the perusal of Lord Byron, must bare is too lofty or too low, from the satire a singular taste-He must be prepared to the sonnet, from the epic to the bal- to look for it in the mingled and chaolad; which can combine and ecbo in tic gloom of infidelity, misanthropy, pothe same lines misanthropy and mirth, litical scepticism (the unfailing and danlevity and despair—that like the sata- gerous companion of both), and the nic bost, when assembled in council, avowed and ostentatious abandonmen! can contract or expand its dimensions of every moral priociple, social duty, at will, can to “smallest forms reduce and domestic feeling-“ whatsoever its shape immense, and be at large”- things are pure, are lovely, are of good but still “amid the ball of that infernal report—if there be any virtue, and if court"-where he presides as the mas- there be any praise,” his reader must ter demon-the god of hell in all the invert the rule of a writer very differdazzling glory of omnipotent depravity ent from Lord Byron—he must NOT -the mind sinks under the task of eu- “think of these things." From Lord logizing, or describing, or even imag- Byron's own pages I sball select proofs ining the powers of that “man-al- that the charge is not exaggerated. mighty" who like his prototype, in From a poet we expect something to “Kehama,” plunges from the heaven exalt or to delight, we expect that if be has violated to the hell he has ob- bis subjects be connected with the best tained the empire of, and deserves to interests and feelings of man, his lines reign « rer.
shall breathe a lotiy spirit of religious deI wonld accumulate on him every votion, a pure and high love of moraliexpression that was ever dictated, ui- ty, that they will display all the enthutered, or extorted, by tbe enthusiasm of siasm of patriotism and the eloquence praise, or the devotion of admiration ; of passion, that all bis public energies but wben I bad done so, I should feel will be jo their fullest vigour, all bis sa