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ton! They walk as kings, heroes, is bounded by the sea-shore;' grant for bards, archangels. The first canon a moment that it is a lawful and just of great, impassioned, profound writ- practical contemplation to view him ing—that the soul, filled with its ravaging and ranging up to that edge, theme, and with affection fitted for its and to view in contrast the glad, theme, moves on slowly or impetu- bright, universally - laughing Ocean ously—with a glide, or with a rush, or beyond-unravaged, unstained, unwith a bound-but that it ever moves footed, no smoke of conflagration consistently with itself, pouring out rising, only the golden morning mist its affection, and, in pouring it ont, seeming all one diffused sun. Grant displaying its theme, and so evolving all this—and then what we have to its work from itself in unity-is here complain of is, that the contrast is sinned against by movements owning prepared, but not presented ; and that no law but mere caprice
the natural replication to “Man marks How, then, is the glorification of the earth with ruin," is not here. Inhis subject sought here to be attained stead of picture for picture-instead by Byron ? By means of another of, look on this picture and on that subject shown us in hostility, and we have quelled. Man, in his weakness, is
"on the watery plain put in contrast and in conflict with
The wrecks are all thy deed.” ocean's omnipotence. Man sends out his fleets, apparently for the purpose That is to say, peace, happiness, of ruining the ocean. He cannot: beauty, nowhere! Man wrecks up to he can ruin the land ; but on the the shore. There the tables are turned land's edge his deadly dominion is at upon him. There the sea ravages the an end. There the reign of a mightier land, and wrecks him in return. Merand more dreadful Ruler, a greater De- ciful Heaven ! nothing but wrecking; stroyer, a wilder Anarch, begins. The as if evil spirits only possessed the sea itself rises, wrecks the timbered universe-as if the only question to vessels, drowns the crews—or at least be asked any where were, Who wrecks those who fall overboard-tosses the here? mariner to the skies and on to shore, Is not this a glaring instance of a and swallows up fleets of war.
false intellectual procedure arising out Such is the first movement or of a false moral temper? The unstrain. What is the amount relatively ceasing call of the Hymn is for the to the purport of the poem? Why, display of the subject extolled. And that the first point of glorification here the beautiful, or the proud supechosen, the first utterance of enthusi- riority of the “ peaceful, immeasurastic love and admiration from the able plain," or of the indignant, softened heart and elevated soul of a independent, thundrous sea, was impoet, who has just told us that there periously suggested for some moments is such music in its roar, that by the surely, if the Poem be one of glorideep sea he loves not man the less, but fication. But no! We may imagine nature more, is, “ All hail, O wrath for ourselves, if we please, the beauty, ful, dire, almighty, and remorseless splendour, joy, tempestuous liberty destroyer!" --surely a strange ebul- of the unfettered waters; but the love lition of tenderness-an amatory sigh of the ocean is not in the Poet's mind, like a lion's roar-something in Poly- as it ought to have been-only the phemus' vein - wooing with a ven hate of man. geance. All this, mark ye, dear As it ought to have been ? Yea, neophyte, following straight upon a verily. Had he not taken the pledge ? proclamation of peace with all man- To drink but of the purest spring of kind-upon an Invocation to Nature inspiration--the Fount of Love. And for inward peace!
may he, without reproach, break it Grant for a moment that Man is when he chooses, and we not dare to properly to be viewed as Earth's ra- condemn? Of all promises, the provager, not its cultivator, and that his mise made by poet of world-wide control stops with the shore," is good fame before the wide world, in his English in verse for “his power of soul's best mood, and in nature's desolating, or his range of desolation, noblest inspiration, is the most sacred
to break it is a sin, and a sin that the transparent veil. Here it is disbrings its appropriate punishment torted, not veiled. The two relaalong with it, -loss or abeyance of the tions are alike falsified. For in order faculty divine. Byron had sworn to to bring man into conflict with the love man and nature, and to glorify sea, where he and not the sea is to be their works, on the very instant he worsted, he must first be made the seeks to degrade and vilify. We foe of the earth! “Man marks the listen to a religious overture-to the earth with ruin." Is this the history Devil's March. We are invited to of man on the earth? Man has enter with him a temple of worship- vanquished the Earth, but for its and praise and prayer become impre- benefit as well as his own. He has cations and curses. It is as if a displaced the forest and the swamp, hermit, telling his beads at the door the wild beast and the serpent. He of his cell, retired into its interior to has adorned the earth like a bride; hold converse with a blaspheming as if he had made captive a wild spirit. Fear not to call it by its right Amazon, charmed her with Orphean name—this is Hypocrisy.
arts, wedded and made her a happy So much as to the fitness of the mother of many children. Whatever mood; now as to the truth of the impressive effect such verses may have matter.
on the inconsiderate mind, it has been What is, justly considered, the rela- illegitimately attained-by a prepostion of man to the sea ? Is it here terous and utterly unprovoked movetruly spoken ? Certainly not. The ment of tempestuous passion, and by Facts and the Songs of the world are two utterly false contemplations of all the other way. In history, the man's posture upon the globe, which ocean is the giant slave of the magi- two embrace about his whole mortal cian Man—with some difficulty brought existence. Eloquence might condeunder thraldom-humorous, and not scend to this-poetry never. always manageable - mischievous Note well, Ó Neophyte! that the when he gets his own way. But com- calm, contemplative, loving first line, pare statistically the service and the “Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean? detriment, for Clio must instruct Cal
roll!” liope and Erato. Passion that cannot sustain itself but by hiding that which
ch precludes all comparison with such has been, and accrediting that which
sudden bursts as “Ruin seize thee, has not been, is personal, not poeti
ruthless king!" &c., and “ Quousque cal-is mad, not inspired. The truth
tandem abutêre, Catilina," &c.; but it is, that the Ship is the glory of man's
does not preclude, it invites the killing inventive art and inventive daring
comparison with the most splendid triumph of heroical “O Thou that with surpassing glory crown'd art. And-for the history of man- Look’st from thy sole dominion, like the God the service of the sea to his ship has of this new world,-at whose sight all the been the civilising of the earth. The
stars wrecks are occasional-so much so Hide their diminish'd heads, to thee I call, that, in our ordinary estimate, they But with no friendly voice, and add thy name, are forgotten. It would be as good 0 Sun! to tell thee how I hate thy beams, poetry to say that all the inhabitants That bring to my remembrance from what of the land live by wrecking
state In this first movement or strain, I fell-how glorious once above thy sphere !** then, two great relations upheld by
&c. man are put in question,-his relation to the land, and his relation to the Where the speaker is fraught with sea. The Basis of Song to the true personal, not as a poet with imperand great poet is the truth of things- sonal affection - where he comes the truth as the historian and the charged with hate, not with love; philosopher know them. Over this and yet how slowly, how sedately, he throws his own affection and creates through how many thoughts, how much a truth of his own-a poetical truth. admiration, and how many verses, But the truth, as held in man's actual he reaches his hate at last, which is knowledge, is recognisable through his object! But on that soliloquy, dear Neophyte, we must discourse inquiry, and stands as a substitute for another day.
any reasonable thinking at all; and We must go a little — not very thus a grammatical confusion between much — into particulars; for other. Man and a man makes the whole abwise, O Neophyte! believe thou, what solute nonsense. ever wiseacres say, there can be no Then look here:true criticism of poetry. Let us
“Upon the watery plain and that which might have been ex
The wrecks are all thy deed." pected will appear,-a detail of moral and intellectual disorder. The stanza
This is not only not true- it is of which we have been speaking be
false. If man, clothed in the thunder gins well — as we have seen and said.
of war, is able to strew ruin upon the Thenceforth all is stamped with in
land, he, militant, by the same power, congruity, and shows an effect like
strews wreck and ruin upon the power, by violently bringing together,
waters; and so the distinction pre
tended, whatever it might be worth, in a most remarkable manner, things that cannot consist—by the transition
fails. And does not the swallowing of from the Universal to the Individual,
the unknelled and uncoffined, which is when for
attributed to the sea as the victor of
man, take place as effectually when “ The wrecks are all thy deed," beak or broadside sends down a ship which shows us a thousand ships
with her hundreds of souls, when the foundering in mid ocean, and the
great sea, willing or unwilling, apearth's shores all strewn with frag. pears merely as the servile minister of ments of oak-leviathans, we have
insulting man's hate and fury? instantaneously substituted, as if this
“ Alike the Armada's pride and spoils of were the same thing,
Trafalgar.” « When for a moment, like a drop of rain,
“Rule Britannia” rings in our ears, He sinks into thy depths with bubbling
and gives that assertion the lie. Does
Macaulay's Ode idly recount an inefgroan, Without a grave, unknell'd, uncoffin'd, and
fectual muster? Did the Lord High
Admiral of England, with all his comunknown,
modores and captains, do nothing to What has happened? What is the Armada? With what face dared meant? Is this literally the represen- an English Poet say to the sea that tation of some single human being ac. on all those days "the wrecks were all tually dropping, as unfortunately hap- thy deed ?” The storms were Engpens from time to time, from a land's allies indeed, from Cape Clear ship's side into the immensity of to the Orcades. But only her allies; waters? And is this horrible game and, much as we respect the storms and and triumph of Ocean, which threat their services, we say to the English ened to annihilate the species, upon a fleet, “The wrecks were all thy deed." sudden confined to "a man over- At Trafalgar the storms finally sided board ?" Or are we to understand with the Spaniards. “Let the fleet that, by a strong feat of uncreating be anchored," said Nelson ere he died; and recreating imagination, this one and, had that been possible, it had man, dropped as if naked from the been done by Collingwood. After the clouds into the sea and submerged, fight Gravina came out to the rescueimpersonates and impictures, by some but the sea engulfed the spoils. Yet, concentration of human agony and of spite of that, we say again to the human impotence, that universally English fleet, " The wrecks were all diffused annihilation of Man in his thy deed ;" and the sea answers ships which was the matter in hand? and will answer to all eternity—“Ay, We do not believe that any reader ay, ay!” can give a satisfactory explanation or Byron, we verily believe, was the account of the course of thinking that first Great Poet that owned not a has been here pursued. Upon the face patriot's heart. No pride ever had of the words lies that natural pathos he in his Country's triumphs either wbich belongs to the perishing of the on land or sea. It seems as if he individual, which serves to blind were impatient of every national and individual greatness that, however far main"? Properly, to linger for a aloof from his sphere, might eclipse moment ere disappearing. But the his own. He has written well-but proposition is, that ruin effected by not so well as he ought to have man has no place at all on the waters. done - of Waterloo. The glory of The poet means, that as long as you, Wellington overshadowed him; and, the contemplator, tread the land, you by keeping his name out of his verses, walk among ruins made by man. he would keep the hero himself out of When you pass on to the sea, no sight. But there he is resplendent in shadow of such ruin any longer acspite of the Poet's spleen. Verbum companies you,--that is, any longer non amplius for Trafalgar! not one remains with you. for Nelson. Not so did Cowper- One great fault of style which the the pious, peace-loving Cowper - Hymn shows is Equivocation. The regard his country's conflicts. At words are equivocal. Hence the conthought of these the holy Harper's soul tradiction-as in this stanza especially a woke. He too sung of the sea : --between what is promised and what * What ails thee, restless as the waves that roar,
is done. Weigh for a moment these
linesAnd fling their foam against thy chalky shore? Mistress at least, while Providence shall please,
“Upon the watery plain, AND TRIDENT-BEARING QUEEN OF THE The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain WIDE SEAS."
A shadow of man's ravage save his own,
When for a moment, like a drop of rain, "That is majestic - and this is sublime :
He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan," ** They trust in navies, and their navies fail
&c., and tell us what they seem to de
1. scribe. You will find yourself in a God's curse can cast away ten thousand sail.”
pretty puzzle. A ship? a fleet ? Ay, then, indeed, " ten thousand fleets myriads of ships lost? or one drownsail over Thee in vain." Had Byron ing man? Surely one drowning man. Cowper's great line in his mind? The His own phrase, copy cannot stand comparison with
“the bubbling cry the original.
Of some strong swimmer in his agony," If we will try the poet by his words, and know whether he has mastered
here pre-appears. But he had bound the consummation of his art by " writ
himself quite otherwise. By his ing well," we may cull from several
pledge he should, in contrast with instances of suspicious language, in
man's wreck active upon shore, have this stanza, the following
given man's wreck passive upon the “ Nor doth remain
flood,--the earth strewn with ruin by A shadow of man's ravage save his own." man's hand, the sea strewn with ruin
of man himself,-magnis excidit ausis. What is the meaning—the transla- The words“ remain" and " man” tion? “There is not on the ocean to have played the part here of juggling be found a shadow of ravage in wbich fiends, man is the agent. The only ravage known on the ocean, in which man is
“They palter with us in a double sense, concerned, is that which he suffers
They keep the word of promise to the ear, from the ocean." This, if false, is
And break it to our hope." nevertheless an intelligible proposi - For lend us your ear for a few minutes. tion. But - ravage" is a strange word The word "remain" is originally and - a shocking bad one, applied, as essentially a word of time, and means you presently find that it must be, to to "continue" in some assigned conone drowning man being" ravaged" dition through a certain duration of by being drowned; and even more time ; as, for example, he remained strange still is the grammatical oppo- in command for a year.” In this clause sition of “his ravage," as properly sig- of Byron's, it has become essentially a nifying the ravage which he achieves, word that has regard to space without to “his own ravage" as properly sig- regard to time. To see that it is so, aifying the ravage which he endures ! you must begin with possessing the
Voreover, what is meant by “re- picture that has been set before you, and which is here the basis and out- But how “nor doth remain?” The set of the thinking. This picture is ravage has gone along with you from - man marks the earth with ruin." sea-marge to sea-marge. At sea Realise the picture at the height of the it is no longer with you. Traversing words without flinching. For ex- the land it remained your companion. ample, from the Atlantic eastward to It remained the continual and loathed the Pacific, man ravages. Here object of your eyes. Now no shadow Napoleon-a little farther on Mahomet of it is to be seen—it haunts your the Second-farther, the Crusaders flight no longer. No shadow of it beyond these Khuli Khan or Timour any longer accompanies your aërial Leng-lastly, the Mogul conquerors of voyage—any longer stays, abides, re-. the Celestial Empire,-a chain of de- mains with you. If the word has not solation from Estremadura to Corea. this meaning, it has no meaning here Had land extended around the globe, in this clause. In this clause it canit had been a belt of desolation en- not mean this—* upon the ocean, the circling the globe. Corn fields, vine- ravage made by man appears like a yards, trampled under foot of man flash of lightning, seen and gone,and horse, – villages, towns, and upon the ocean this ravage, or some great cities, reeking with conflagra- shadow of this ravage, has a momention, like the smoke ascending from tary duration, but no more than mosome enormous altar of abomination mentary, no abiding, no remaining." to offend the nostrils of heaven This cannot be the meaning, since of armed hosts lying trampled in their man it has been expressly said his blood—the unarmed lying scattered control stops with the shore'-that eyery where in theirs ; for man has is, ends there, is not on the ocean at trodden the earth in his rage, and all. Manifestly the question at issue before him was as the garden of Eden, is, not whether destruction effected behind him is the desolate wilderness. by man lasts upon the waters, but This is a translation of the hemistich, whether it is at all upon the waters; -“Man marks the earth with ruin," and Byron's decision is plainly that -into prose. It is a faithful, a literal it is not at all. For he has already translation-Byron meant as much: said “upon the watery plain the and you, neoplıyte, in an instan- wrecks are all thy deed." That is taneous image receive as much-per- to say, any sort of wreck effected by haps with more faith or persuasion, man upon the flood at all has been because leaden-pacing, tardy-gaited twice rejected in express words; and exposition goes against such faith; this word * remain" must imperabut some belief will remain if we, tively be understood consonantly to who have put ourselves in the place of this rejection. the poet, have used colours that seize Byron, then, we see, in denying upon your imagination.
that wrecks made by man - remain" Well, then, if your imagination has upon the "watery plain," takes a word done that which the summary word- which properly sets before you an picture of the poet required of you, extending in time, and uses it for you have swept the earth, or one of setting before you an extending in its continents, with instantaneous space. The ravage of which man is flight from shore to shore, and seen the agent does not extend over the this horrible devastation—this widely. "watery plain"-10, nota shadow of it. spread ravage. You have not staid your B ut pray attend to this-no sooner wing at the shore, but have swept on, does the sequent clause " save his driven by your horror, till you have own," take its place in the verse, hung, and first breathed at ease, over than the word - remain" shifts its the Mid Pacific, over the wide OCEAN meaning back, from the signification OF PEACE-over the unpolluted, ever- accidentally forced upon it as has lasting ocean, murmuring under your been explained, and reverts to its feet-the unpolluted, everlasting hea original and wonted power as a word vens over your head. Here is noravage of time! The force of the united of man's : no! nor the shadow of it clauses now stands thus—" upon the -“ Nor doth remain
water there cannot be found a trace A shadow of man's ravage."
of the ruin executed by man. But