Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

cursions, &c., &c., &c. is not worth the two words in Zaire, " tu pleures,” or a single speech of Tancred;-a school, the apostate lives of whose renegadoes, with their tea-drinki ; neutrality of morals, and their convenient treachery in politicsin the recorr v their accumulated pretences to virtue can produce no actions (were all their good deeds drawn up in array) to equal or approach the sole defence of the family of Calas, by that great and unequalled genius—the universal Voltaire.

I have ventured to remark on these little inaccuracies of the greatest genius that England or perhaps any other country ever produeed,” (Pope in Spence's Anecdotes, page 158, Malone's Edition) merely to show our national injustice in condemning generally the greatest genius of France for such inadvertencies as these, of which the highest of England has been no less guilty: Query, was Bacon a greater intellect than Newton ?

Being in the humour of criticism, I shall proceed, after having ventured upon the slips of Bacon, to touch upon one or two as trifling in the edition of the British Poets, by the justly-celebrated Campbell.—But I do this in- good-will, and trust it will be so taken. - If any thing could add to my opinion of the talents and true feeling of that gentleman, it would be his classical, honest, and triumphant defence of Pope, against the vulgar cant of the day, and its existing Grub-street.

The inadvertencies to which I allude are,

Firstly, in speaking of Anstey, whom he accuses of having taken “his leading characters from Smollett.” Anstey's Bath Guide was published in 1766. Smollett's Humphry Clinker (the only work of Smollett's from which Tabitha, &c., &c. could have been taken) was written during Smollett's last residence at Leghorn, in 1770. _" Argal,” if there has been any borrowing, Anstey must be the creditor, and not the debtor. I refer Mr. Campbell to his own data in his lives of Smollett and Anstey.

Secondly, Mr. Campbell says, in the life of Cowper (note to page 358, vol. 7), that “ he knows not to whom Cowper alludes in these lines :

Nor he who, for the bane of thousands born,

Built God a church, and laugh'd his word to scorn. The Calvinist meant Voltaire, and the church of Ferney, with its inscription, “ Deo erexit Voltaire.” Thirdly, in the life of Burns, Mr. C. quotes Shakspeare thus,

To gild refined gold, to paint the rose,

Or add fresh perfume to the violet.
This version by no means improves the original, which is as follows:

To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
To throw a perfume on the violet, &c.

King John. A great poet quoting another should be correct; he should also be accurate when he accuses a Parnassian brother of that dangerous charge“ borrowing;" a poet had better borrow any thing (excepting money) than the thoughts of another they are always sure to be reclaimed; but it is very hard, having been the lender, to be denounced as the debtor, as is the case of Anstey versus Smollett.

As there is “honour amongst thieves,” let there be some amongst poets, and give each his due,-none can afford to give it more than Mr. Campbell himself, who, with a high reputation for originality, and a fame which cannot be shaken, is the only poet of the times (except Rogers) who can be reproached (and in him it is indeed a reproach) with having written too little.

PREFACE

TO CANTOS VI, VII, VIII.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

The details of the siege of Ismail in two of the following cantos (i. e. the 8th and 7th) are taken from a French work, entitled “ Histoire de la Nouvelle Russie.” Some of the incidents attributed to Don Juan really occurred, particularly the circumstance of his saving the infant, which was the actual case of the late Duc de Richelieu, then a young volunteer in the Russian service, and afterwards the founder and benefactor of Odessa, where his name and memory can never cease to be regarded with reverence. In the course of these cantos, a stanza or two will be found relative to the late Marquis of Londonderry, but written some time before his decease. Had that person's oligarchy died with him, they would have been suppressed; as it is, I ain aware of nothing in the manner of his death or of his life to prevent the free expression of the opinions of all whom his whole existence was consumed in endeavouring to enslave. That he was an amiable man in private life, may or may not be true; but with this the public have nothing to do ; and as to lamenting his death, it will be time enough when Ireland has ceased to mourn for his birth. As a minister, I, for one of millions, looked upon him as the most despotic in intention and the weakest in intellect, that ever tyrannized over a country. It is the first time, indeed, since the Normans, that England has been insulted by a minister (at least) who could not speak English, and that Parliament permitted itself to be dictated to in the language of Mrs. Malaprop.

of the manner of his death little need be said, except that if a poor radical, such as Waddington, or Watson, had cut his throat, he would have been buried in a cross-road, with the usual appurtenances of the stake and mallet. But the minister was an elegant lunatic—a sentimental suicide-he merely cut the “carotid artery” (blessings on their learning !)—and lo! the pageant and the abbey! and “the syllables of dolour yelled forth” by the newspapers—and the harangue of the coroner in an eulogy over the bleeding body of the deceased—an Anthony worthy of such a Cæsar)—and the nauseous and atrocious cant of a degraded crew of conspirators against all that is sincere or honourable. In his death he was necessarily one of two things by the lan--a felon or a madman—and in either case no great subject for

[ocr errors]

panegyric. * In his life he was—what all the world knows, and half of it will feel for years to come, unless his death prove a “moral lesson” to the surviving Sejani t of Europe. It may at least serve as some consolation to the nations, that their oppressors are not happy, and in some instances judge so justly of their own actions, as to anticipate the sentence of mankind.-Let us hear no more of this man, and let Ireland remove the ashes of her Grattan from the sanctuary of Westminster. Shall the patriot of humanity repose by the Werther of politics !!!

With regard to the objections which have been made on another score to the already published cantos of this poem, I shall content myself with two quotations from Voltaire:

“La pudeur s'est enfüie des cœurs, et s'est réfugiée sur les lèvres."

“Plus les meurs sont dépravées, plus les expressions deviennent mesurées; on croit regagner en langage ce qu'on a perdu en vertu.”

This is the real fact, as applicable to the degraded and hypocritical mass which leavens the present English generation, and is the only answer they deserve. The hackneyed and lavished title of blasphemer —which, with radical, liberal, jacobin, reformer, &c., are the changes which the hirelings are daily ringing in the ears of those who will listen-should be welcome to all who recollect on whom it was originally bestowed. Socrates and Jesus Christ were put to death publicly as blasphemers, and so have been and may be many who dare to oppose

the most notorious abuses of the name of God and the mind of man.

But persecution is not refutation, nor even triumph: the " wretched infidel," as he is called, is probably happier in his prison than the proudest of his assailants. With his opinions I have nothing to do —they may be right or wrong—but he has suffered for them, and that very suffering for conscience' sake will make more preselytes to deism than the example of heterodox # prelates to christianity, suicide statesmen to oppression, or over-pensioned homicides to the impious alliance which insults the world with the name of “Holy!” I have no wish to trample on the dishonoured or the dead; but it would be well if the adherents to the classes from whence those persons sprung should abate a little of the cant which is the crying sin of this doubledealing and false-speaking time of selfish spoilers, and—but enough for the present.

* I say by the law of the land—the laws of humanity judge more gently; but as the legitimates have always the law in their mouths, let them here make the most of it.

+ From this number must be excepted Canning. Canning is a genius, almost a universal one: an orator, a wit, a poet, a statesman; and no man of talent can long pursue the path of his late predecessor, Lord C. If ever man saved his country, Canning can; but will he? I, for one, hope so.

# When Lord Sandwich said“ he did not know the difference between orthodoxy and heterodoxy,"—Warburton, the bishop, replied, “Orthodoxy, my lord, is my doxy, and heterodoxy is another man's doxy.”-A prelate of the present day has discovered, it seems, a third kind of doxy, which has not greatly exalted, in the eyes of the elect, that which Bentham calls “ Church-of-Englandism."

CANTO VI.

[ocr errors]

I. 66 THERE is a tide in the affairs of men

Which, taken at the flood”-you know the rest, And most of us have found it, now and then ;

At least we think so, though but few have guess'd
The moment, till too late to come again.

But no doubt every thing is for the best-
Of which the surest sign is in the end :
When things are at the worst, they sometimes mend.

II.
There is a tide in the affairs of women

Which, taken at the flood, leads”—God knows where : Those navigators must be able seamen

Whose charts lay down its currents to a hair ;
Not all the reveries of Jacob Behmen

With its strange whirls and eddies can compare :
Men, with their heads, reflect on this and that-
But women, with their hearts, or Heaven knows what !

а

[ocr errors]

III.
And yet a headlong, headstrong, downright she,

Young, beautiful, and daring—who would risk
A throne, the world, the universe, to be

Beloved in her own way, and rather whisk The stars from out the sky, than not be free

As are the billows when the breeze is briskThough such a she's a devil (if that there be one), Yet she would make full many a Manichean.

[ocr errors]

.

IV.
Thrones, worlds, et cætera, are so oft upset

By commonest ambition, that when passion
O'erthrows the same, we readily forget,

Or at the least forgive the loving rash one. If Anthony be well remembered yet,

'T is not his conquests keep his name in fashion ; But Actium, lost for Cleopatra's eyes, Outbalance all the Cæsars' victories.

[ocr errors]

V.
He died at fifty for a queen of forty ;

I wish their years had been fifteen and twenty,
For then wealth, kingdoms, worlds, are but a sport-I

Remember when, though I had no great plenty
Of worlds to lose, yet still, to pay my court, I

Gave what I had a heart : as the world went, I Gave what was worth a world; for worlds could never Restore me those pure feelings, gone for ever.

VI. ’T was the boy's “mite," and, like the "widow's,” may

Perhaps be weigh'd hereafter, if not now; But whether such things do, or do not, weigh,

All who have loved, or love, will still allow Life has nought like it. God is love, they say,

And Love 's a god, or was before the brow Of Earth was wrinkled by the sins and tears Of—but chronology best knows the years.

VII.
We left our hero and third heroine in

A kind of state more awkward than uncommon,
For gentlemen must sometimes risk their skin

For that sad tempter, a forbidden woman :
Sultans too much abhor this sort of sin,

And don't agree at all with the wise Roman,
Heroic, stoic Cato, the sententious,
Who lent his lady to his friend Hortensius.

VIII.
I know Gulbeyaz was extremely wrong ;

I own it, I deplore it, I condemn it;
But I detest all fiction, even in song,

And so must tell the truth, howe'er you blame it. Her reason being weak, her passions strong,

She aght that her lord's heart (even could she claim it) Was scarce enough; for he had fifty-nine Years, and a fifteen-hundredth concubine.

а

[ocr errors]

But by

IX.
I am not, like Cassio, an arithmetician,”

" the bookish theoric" it appears, If 't is summ’d up with feminine precision,

That, adding to the account his highness' years,
The fair sultana err'd from inanition;

For, were the sultan just to all his dears,
She could but claim the fifteen-hundredth part
Of what should be monopoly-the heart.

« AnteriorContinuar »