Imágenes de página

f the world, though divided by distas:

[merged small][ocr errors]

ion and adoration, was a Christian-
as to detect the errors of thinking by
cains of thought, and to direct into the

the devious mind of man, by showing
on the first perceptions of sense to the
ation; putting a rein upon false opinion
conduct of buman judgment

be said, were only deep thinkers, and
ccustomed to the traffic of the world and
ally regulate mankind. Gentlemen

, i
it to administer the justice of this great
forgotten Sir Matthew Hale preside)

, ity is an exalted commentary upon

it ose life was a glorious example of its -wn from the pure fountain of the Chris e, in all ages, a subject of the highest

[ocr errors]

There are some names in literary history that we would gladly pass over in silence, were it not that their talents and genius demand some notice from the chronicler of letters. This is the case with Lord Byron. Such was his waywardness of character, such his vicious propensities, and such his gross licentiousness and open infidelity, that we would gladly do our part that his name should be forever buried in oblivion, were it not that, in consequence of his brilliant genius and his uncommon mental endowments, the interest of the public mind was so generally, and for so long a time, concentrated upon him. We must, therefore, give him a place among the authors of the nineteenth century.

George Gordon Byron, the only son of Captain Byron and Catharine, sole child and heiress of George Gordon, Esq., of Gight, in Scotland, was born in London on the 22d of January, 1788. After preparing for the University at Harrow School, he entered Trinity College, Cambridge, 1805, with a reputation for general information very rare in one of his age. Indeed, we have his own record of an almost incredible list of works, in many departments of literature, which he had read before the age of fifteen. At the university, be neglected the prescribed course of study, but was by no means idle. In 1807, appeared his first published work, “ The Hours of Idleness," a collection of poems in no way remarkable, and now chiefly remembered through the castigation which it received through the “ Edin. burgh Review." To this critique, which galled, but did not depress him, we owe the first spirited outbreak of his talents, in the satire entitled “ English Bards and Scotch Reviewers," which was published in 1809. Able and vigorous as this was, and creditable to his talents, it contained so many harsh and absurd judgments, that he was afterwards anxious to sup

[ocr errors]

press it.

uthor that the Christian fable is but the

superstitions of the world, and may be er understanding of the mythologies of en understand those mythologies? Wis Paine in the superstitions of the world

ect of his immortal song, and, though
ce to them, he poured them forth fng
ich with all that man ever knew, and
the illustration of that real and eraltal
source of that fervid genius which has
most of the other works of man-
ming bounds of place and time:
e, the sapphire blaze,
mble while they gaze,
sted with excess of light,

endless night."
the body only that was
e inward, and enabled him to justiff
is grent, or wise, or splendid

, or ille
eings; all the minds gifted berpind
pired by its universal Author for the


[ocr errors]

A few days before the publication of this satire, he took his seat in the House of Lords ; but he was ill qualified to shine in politics, and made no impression. The same year he left England, and travelled on the continent. In 1811, he returned home, his private affairs being much embarrassed, and having lost his mother. He brought with him the two first cantos of “Childe Harold," which he had written abroad. They were published in March, 1812, and were received by the public with the most unbounded admiration, so that Byron emerged at once from a state of loneliness and neglect, unusual for one in his sphere of life, to be the magnet and idol of society. As he tersely says in his memoranda, “I awoke one morning, and found myself famous." In May of the next year, appeared his “Giaour;" and in November, the “Bride of Abydos" (written in a week); and, about three months afterwards, the " Corsair," written in the astonishingly short space of ten days. On the 2d of January, 1815, he was married to Miss Milbanke, the only daughter and heiress of Sir Ralph Milbanke, the only issue of which marriage was Augusta


ons, yet joining as it were in one sub-
e truths of Christianity, laying up
fading offerings of their interesul

Ada, born on the 10th of December of that year. On the 15th of January of the next year, the husband and wife separated for ever. The cause of this was, and still is, a mystery. But most of those who composed the circles in which Lord Byron moved declared against him, and society with. drew its countenance. Deeply stung by the verdict, he resolved to leave his country, and on the 25th of April, 1816, he quitted England for the last time. His course was through Flanders, and along the Rhine to Switzer. land, where he resided until the close of the year, and where he composed some of his most powerful works-the third canto of “Childe Harold,” the “Prisoner of Chillon,” “ Darkness," "The Dream,” part of “Manfred," and a few minor poems. The next year he went to Italy, where, for a course of years, he gave himself up to the grossest species of libertinism; and where, as might be expected, he wrote his most licentious and blasphemous works.

In 1823, he interested himself warmly in the cause of the Greeks, then struggling to throw off the Turkish yoke; and in December of that year, sailed for Greece, with all the funds he could command, to aid the oppressed in their efforts for freedom. This was, certainly, a redeeming trait in his character, and we are glad to record it. On the 5th of January, 1824, he arrived at Missolonghi, where his reception was enthusiastic, the whole population coming out to meet him. But he had scarcely arranged his plans to aid the nation he had so befriended, when he was seized with a sever, and expired on the 191h of April, 1824.

Of the character of Lord Byron's poetry, there can be but one opinion with every honest and pure mind-that, while it exhibits powers of description unusually great, and is full of passages of exquisite beauty, it cannot, as a whole, be read without the most injurious influence upon the moral sensibilities. The tendency of it is to shake our confidence in virtue, and to diminish our abhorrence of vice; to palliate crime, and to unsettle our notions of right and wrong. “Humiliating was the waste and degradation of his genius, and melancholy is the power which his poetry has exerted upon multitudes of minds.' The moral tendency of some of his poems is exceedingly pernicious: his complete works ought never to be purchased, and we may feel proud not to be acquainted with them, except by extracts and beauties.” Indeed, if any one should possess the fiendish desire to break down the principles of virtue in any young man or young woman, the best way to begin would be to put a copy of Byron's works into the hands of the destined victim. “Forewarned-forearmed.”


The seal is set.-Now welcome, thou dread power !
Nameless, yet thus omnipotent, which here

* And yet there are said to be schools where his works are regularly studied. Proh pridor !

9 We read with horror the accounts of the gladiatorial exhibitions among the

ence of vice; to palliate crime, and is

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

of that year. On the 15th of January wife separated for ever. The cause di But most of those who composed the declared against him, and society with. g by the verdict, he resolved to leave 1, 1816, he quitted England for the las nders, and along the Rhine to Srizer' close of the year, and where he cos. I works-the third canto of "Chille 7," " Darkness," "The Dream," part

poems. The next year he went ! 9, he gave himself up to the grosses! e, as might be expected, he wrote bis

[ocr errors]


Walk'st in the shadow of the midnight hour
With a deep awe, yet all distinct from fear;
Thy haunts are ever where the dead walls rear
Their ivy mantles, and the solemn scene
Derives from thee a sense so deep and clear,

That we become a part of what has been,
And grow unto the spot, all-seeing, but unseen.

And here the buzz of eager nations ran,
In murmured pity, or loud-roared applause,
As man was slaughtered by bis fellow-man.
And wherefore slaughtered? wherefore, but because
Such were the bloody circus' genial laws,
And the imperial pleasure. Wherefore not ?
What matters where we fall to fill the maws

Of worms-on battle-plains or listed spot?
Both are but theatres where the chief actors rot.

I see before me the gladiator lie:
He leans upon his hand; his manly brow
Consents to death, but conquers agony,
And his drooped head sinks gradually low;
And through his side the last drops, ebbing slow
From the red gasb, sall heavy, one by one,
Like the first of a thunder-shower; and now

The arena swims around him; he is gone,
Ere ceased the inhuman shout which hailed the wretch who won.

He heard it, but he heeded not; his eyes
Were with his heart, and that was far away:
He recked not of the life he lost, nor prize;
But where his rude hut by the Danube lay,
There were his young barbarians all at play,
There was their Dacian mother-he, their sire,
Butchered to make a Roman holiday.

All this rushed with his blood. Shall he expire,
And unavenged? Arise, yo Goths, and glut your ire!

warmly in the cause of the Greeks. urkish yoke; and in December of the ne funds he could command, to aid th: edom. This was, certainly, a redeco

are glad to record it. On the 3th
longhi, where his reception was en de
g out to meet him. But he had scared
on he had so befriended, when he was

the Hih of April, 1824.
's poetry, there can be but one opinia
-that, while it exhibits powers of
ill of passages of exquisite beautę, á
ut the most injurious influence in
ncy of it is to shake our confidence i


[ocr errors]


ong. · Humiliating was the wastes ancholy is the power which his pery nds.' The moral tendency of some art s: his complete works ought oud not to be acquainted with the

rinciples of virtue in any young man er

Romans, so barbarous, so brutal; and were not the historical evidence irrefutable, we could hardly believe that in one city alone (Capua) forty thousand were kept, and fed, and trained to butcher each other for the gratification of the Roman people. But let us be honest, and not have too much self-complacency. " Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull the mote out of thy brother's eye." What better, in principle, are the modern military schools”-the modern ludi gladiatorii-among so called Christian nations ? Are not young men trained in them, for years, to learn the art of human butchery—to learn how to kill their fellow men most scientifically? May the day speedily come when our land, by utterly abolishing such establishments, shall set, in this respect, a Christian example to all the nations of the earth!

I victim. Forewarnedforearmēt."


, thou dread power! which here

t'the gladiatorial exhibitions among the


Roll on,

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar;
I love not man the less, but nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,

To mingle with the universe, and feel
What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal.

thou deep and dark blue Ocean-roll!
Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain;
Man marks the earth with ruin-his control
Stops with the shore; upon the watery plain
The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain
A shadow of man's ravage, save his own,
When, for a moment, like a drop of rain,

He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan-
Without a grave, unknell’d, uncoflined, and unknown.

His steps are not upon thy paths—thy fields
Are not a spoil for himthou dost arise
And shake him from thee; the vile strength he wields
For earth's destruction thou dost all despise,
Spurning him from thy bosom to the skies,
And send'st him, shivering in thy playful spray,
And howling to his gods, where haply lies

His petty hope in some near port or bay,
And dashest him again to earth : there let him lay.

The armaments which thunderstrike the walls
Of rock-built cities, bidding nations quake,
And monarchs tremble in their capitals;
The oak leviathans, whose huge ribs make
Their clay creator the vain title take
Of lord of thee, and arbiter of war:
These are thy toys, and, as the snowy flake,

They melt into thy yeast of waves, which mar
Alike the Armada's pride, or spoils of Trafalgar.

Thy shores are empires, changed in all save thee-
Assyria, Greece, Rome, Carthage, what are they?
Thy waters wasted them while they were free,
And many a tyrant since; their shores obey
The stranger, slave, or savage; their decay
Has dried up realms to deserts : not so thou;
Unchangeable save to thy wild waves' play.

Time writes no wrinkle on thine azure brow:
Such as creation's dawn beheld, thou rollest now.



is woods, hore: tides,

roar; re more, jich I steal before, d feel ot all conceal.

Ocean-roll! thee in vain; - luis control watery plain doth remain his own, of rain, bbling groan

Thou glorious mirror, where the Almighty's form
Glasses itself in tempests; in all time,
Calm or convulsed-in breeze, or gale, or storm,
Icing the pole, or in the torrid clime
Dark-heaving; boundless, endless, and sublime-
The image of Eternity-the throne
Of the Invisible; even from out thy slime

The monsters of the deep are made; each zone
Obeys thee; thou goest forth, dread, fathomless, alone.

And I have loved thee, Ocean ! and my joy
Of youthful sports was on thy breast to be
Borne, like thy bubbles, onward : from a boy
I wantoned with thy breakersthey to me
Were a delight; and if the freshening sea
Made them a terror-'twas a pleasing fear;
For I was, as it were, a child of thee,

And trusted to thy billows far and near,
And laid my hand upon thy maneras I do here.


ned, and unknown. -thy fields

st arise

ale strength he wields

Il despise, the skies, playful spray,

aply lies

or bay,

ere let him lay. ike the walls as quake, -pitals; ibs make ke

"Tis midnight: on the mountains browu
The cold round moon shines deeply down;
Blue roll the waters, blue the sky
Spreads like an ocean hung on high,
Bespangled with those isles of light,
So wildly, spiritually bright;
Who ever gazed upon them shining,
And turned to earth without repining,
Nor wish'd for wings to flee away,
And mix with their eternal ray?
The waves on either shore lay there
Calm, clear, and azure as the air ;
And scarce their foain the pebbles shook,
But murmured meekly as the brook.
The winds were pillowed on the waves;
The banners drooped along their staves,
And, as they fell around them furling,
Above them shone the crescent curling;
And that deep silence was unbroke,
Save where the watch his signal spoke,
Save where the steed neighed oft and shrill,
And echo answered from the hill,
And the wild hum of that wild host
Rustled like leaves from coast to coast,

[blocks in formation]

In 1715, Corinth, then in the possession of the Venetians, was besieged by the Turks. In the “Siege of Corinth,” Byron describes one of the delicious nights of that fine climate.

« AnteriorContinuar »