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of the ruin suffered by him there is ship has hurled from the topmast into an apparition, a vestige, a shadow, the waters; or, when the ship has a vanishing display, namely
gone down, some strong swimmer
who has fought in vain upon the “When for a moment, like a drop of rain,
waters, and, spent in limb and heart, He sinks into thy depths, with bubbling groan,
sinks. And thus the reader, after Without a grave, unknell’d, uncoffind and
stumbling for two or three steps in unknown."
darkness and perplexity, within a He plunges, and all is over. "The moment of having left mankind in "bubbling groan" is the momentarily the annihilating embrace of Ocean, remaining notice of his extinction. upon a sudden finds himself set face
Now this first equivocation has an to face with one man, we shall supimmediate moral consequence-name- pose“ The last man," drowning! ly, a reaction upon the feelings of the In the Stanza now commented on, poet. "Remain," as an “extending there was a struggle depicted, a in space," acts upon the imagination question proposed between Man and expansively here, if it were suffered the Ocean — which shall be the to act-and if room were given it to Wrecker? The Ocean prevails ; Man act upon the imagination-inasmuch is wrecked. In the succeeding Stanza as “nor doth remain," as a word of there is, it would seem, another extending in space, marks or helps to question moved between the same mark out the two great regions into disputants. No, it is the same. Let which his lordship divides the terra. us examine well. A moment before, queous globe-ravaged land and un. Man appeared as treading the earth as ravaged water. But “ remain," as a Destroyer, his proud step stayed at an “extending in time," acts here high water-mark. Now he appears contractively; and " nor remain" upon the earth as a traveller and a means now "does not outlive the reaper—by implication or allusionmoment!" and in this manner an en- by the figure of " not." tirely new direction or tenor is given “His steps are not upon thy paths, thy fields to thought and feeling--for the zeal
Are not a spoil for him." of diminishing seizes on the imagi. nation of the writer. He is led to
He walks and reaps the earth; he
does not walk and reap the ocean. making man insignificant by the momentariness of his perishing! He
This is plainly the process of the has contracted, by power of scorn,
“worthy cogitation; "and unquestionand by the trick of a word, the
ably the assertion is true--true to the seventy years of man into an instant.
letter, but only to the letter. For, That is one diminution, and another
standing on Mount Albano, or on the follows upon it. The Fleets, wrecked
Land's End, or here sitting beneath whenever they fight against the water,
the porch of our Marine Villa fronting vanish from his fancy, as in the shift
the Firth of Forth, we are poets every ing of a dream ; and he sees, amidst
one of us, and we will venture beyond the troubled world of waters-one man
the letter ;perishing! One mode of insignificancy “ His steps are not upon thy paths !" admitted, induces another. With the reply-chaunter of Man's Hope, and shrinking of time to a moment goes of England's Power,-along the shrinking of multitude to " Thy march is o'er the mountain wave, one! The same double-dealing takes
Thy home is on the deep." place with the word “Man." Man There is a dash of sea-craft for you ; signifies the individual human being . and, "cheered by the grateful sound, for -or the race. “Of man's first dis many a league old ocean smiles." obedience"-mankind's. “Man marks And for the sickle! What! must the earth with ruin"-mankind does the net and the harpoon go for noso. “Nor doth remain a shadow of thing? No harvests on the barren man's ravage"-of mankind's ravage. flood! What else are pearl-fisheries, "When fora moment, like a drop ofrain, herring-fisheries, cod-fisheries, and he sinks into thy waves"-that is now whale-fisheries ? " The sea! The the single sailor, whom a roll of the deep, deep sea !” Why, the sea cannot keep its own; cannot defend but if the ship outlive the storm, which the least or the mightiest of its nurse- many a ship has done many a thoulings from the hand of the gigantic sand times, it can be turned against the plunderer Man.
ocean, who has done bis worst in vain. - "thy fields,
What is man's "petty hope?" and what
means “ again to earth?" Is it again Are not a spoil for him."
from the skies-or back to the earth The fields of earth are not. For he from which he embarked ? Not one ploughed and sowed ere he reaped, expression is precise ; and so, with and earned back his own. But on some scorn of man's old ally, who now thy fields, no ploughing, no sowing, so roughly receives him,-" there let ali reaping! Sheer spoil. Poor, him lay!” There is something very helpless, tributary, rifled, ravaged horrible indeed in insulting a dead Ocean!
man in the Cockney dialect. Then follows a very eminent in- In all this there is no dignity, no stance of the fault which has been grandeur ; Byron does not well to be urged as radical in these Stanzas- angry-it is seldom that any man or forced, unnatural, wilful, or false poet does — for, though anger is a sequence of thought ; a deliberate in "short madness," it is not a “fine tention in the mind of the writer, frenzy.” Such Te Deum true Poetry taking the place of the spontaneous never yet sang, for true Poetry never free suggestion proper to poetry. We yet was blasphemous — never yet have had man trying to produce ruin derided Man's Dread or Man's Hope, on the ocean, and wrecked, swallowed when sinking in multitudes in the sea, up. Now, man tries to walk and reap which God holds in the hollow of his the ocean. The poet has outraged hand. mother earth, and her vengeance is Go on to the next Stanzaupon him. He has wrongfully and “ The armaments which thunderstrike the wilfully brought in the Earth, for its
walls,” &c. old alliance with man to hear hard words; and he suffers the penalty. Why, here is another shipwreck -Cease, rude Boreas, blustering railer, only now a fleet of war — before, for you are out of breath. Mere one merchant - ship perhaps. The mouthing is not command of words; Earth, too, is again implicated, and the sound we hear now is but the we have the same scornful antiecho of the last stanza, and the angry thesis of Earth and Ocean. Earth Childe is unwittingly repeating him with her towery diadem-Earth, the self,
nurse of nations, trembles at the ap--- Thou dost arise
proach of armaments, which the ocean And shake him from thee ; the vile strength
devours like melting snow. There he wields
has been, then, a certain progression in For earth's destruction thou dost all despise,
the three stanzas. A drowning man
a merchant-ship tossed and strandedSpurning him from thy bosom to the skies,
an armada scattered and lost. Three And send'st him, shivering in thy playful
striking subjects of poetical delineaspray,
tion, each strikingly shown with some And howling, to his gods, where haply lies
true touches, mixed with much false His petty hope in some near port or bay,
writing. One may understand that And dashest him again to earth--there let
in consequence from out the whirlwind him lay!”
and chaos of the composition, resemHere is again the contest, again the ruin- bling the tumult of the sea, there will ing upon earth,-nay, he destroys the remain to the reader who does not sift earth itself—again the wrecking of the the writing an impression of power-ship. Surely there is great awkwardness of some great thing done-of Man and in stepping on from the proof of man's his Earth humbled, and the Oceaneximpotence in the sinking of his ship, alted. In the mean time, the way of to the proof of man's impotence in the the thoughts, the course of the mind, sinking of his ship. “ Spurning him by which this ascent or climax is obfrom thy bosom to the skies" may be tained, is extremely hard to trace, if a vigorous verse, though we doubt it; traceable. The critic may extricate such an order from the disorder : but were afar in the Atlantic. " Thy observe, that the ascent or climax can shores are empires." The shores of be attained only by neglecting certain the World's Ocean are Empires. strong indications that go another There are, or have been, the British way. Thus, in the first stanza Empire, the German Empire, the “Upon the watery plain
Russian Empire, and the Empire of The wrecks are all thy deed,"
the Great Mogul—the Chinese Em
pire, the Empire of Morocco, those of includes all that is or can be said Peru and Mexico, the Four Great Emmore of ship or fleet. Again, in the pires of Antiquity, the French Emnext stanza
pire, and some others. The Poet does « Thou dost arise
not intend names and things in this And shake him from thee; the vile strength
very strict way, however, and he will
take in all great Monarchies, nor will he wields For earth's destruction thou dostall despise”–
he grudge us the imagining the
whole Earth laid out in imperial doHere is again said all that is possible minions. to be said. "6 Thou dost arise and Well then we again, dear Neoshake him from thee” being perhaps phyte, bid you try to understand the the strongest expression obtained at Stanza, and tell us what it means. all; and the “ vile strength” being What rational thought is there here? precisely the Armadas described im. With what propriety do we consider mediately afterwards with so much the whole Earth as the shores of the pomp and pride. Thus there is really Ocean—when shore is exactly the inconfusion and oscillation of thought terlimitation of land and sea ? Is this -mixed with a progress a standing a lawful way of celebrating the Ocean, still-and this characteristic of much to throw in the whole of the lately of Byron's poetry comes prominently despised Earth as its brilliant appenout-Uncertainty. Impulses and leaps dage? The question rises, how far of a powerful spirit are here ; but from the shore does the shore extend self-knowing Power, a mind master -and whether inwards or outwards ? of its purposes, disciplined genius, But there is a meaning and a good Art accomplished by studies profound one in a way. APLOTOV uey údwp. The and severe, lawful Emulation of the water civilises the land. 'Tis an old great names that shine in the authen remark— but how? By ships. Here, tic rolls of immortal Fame, the sanc- then, are the tables turned. Lately tioned inspiration which the pleased the sea did nothing with ships but Muses deign to their devout followers, destroy them. Now it patiently are not here.
wafts them, and by commerce and The strength of Man, proved in con- colonies the Sea civilises the Globe! test with Ocean and found weakness, Surely this is poetical injustice. The is disposed of. The Earth, as bound first glory of the Sea was, that Man up with Man and his destinies, came could not sail upon its bosom. The in for a share of rough usage. Now second glory of the Sea is, that, by she takos her own turn-in connexion offering its bosom to be furrowed by with Man, but now principal. Here the Man's daring and indefatigable keels, pride of the words is great-the mean- it-ministerially then-civilises the ing sometimes almost or quite inex. World. The Sea is the civiliser of tricable. Recite the Stanza, begin- the Land- Man is—the Destroyer ning
Pray, what is the meaning of say" Thy whores are empiros, changed in all sa ve
ing that the Roman and the Assyrian theo,”
Empires are shores of the Sea : and and when the sonorous roll has sub- changed, excepting that the same suded, try to understand it. You will waters wash the same strands? The Hud some dificulty, if we mistake not deep inland Empires recede too much in knowing who or what is the apos- from the sea-shore to allow any hold trophised subject. Unquestionably to the relation proposed in the words, the World's Ocean, and not the Me- " changed in all save thee." We diterranean. The very last verse we know the Sea as their limit-an acci
dent, rather than as a part of their the Personification is a fine one. being. The meeting of sea and land Nevertheless it does not entirely sabeing the limit of an empire, the limit tisfy the imagination. And why? remains whilst the Imperial State has because the thought of the azure brow, withered from the land. Does the on which time writes no wrinkles, sugimmobility of the limit belong more gests for a moment the thought of the to one element than to the other? white brow - the brow of man or And is the Roman Empire, O Neo- woman,the human brow, on which phyte, more unchanged in the Medi- Time does write wrinkles along with terranean and Atlantic than it is in the engraver, Sorrow. For a moment! the Apennines, and Alps, and Pyre- but that is not the intended pathos—and nees, and Helvellyn ?
it fades away. The intended pathos Every clause that regards Earth is, here belongs to the wrinkles Time in one way or in another, intolerable writes on the brow of the Earth-small or tortured. " Thy waters while it spares that of the Sea. But wasted them while they were free," Time deals not so with our gracious means either " swallowed up their Mother Earth. Time keeps perpeships, or-ate away their edges ? Alas! tually beautifying her brow, while it that most unhappy meaning is the leaves the brow of Ocean the same as true one-and what a cogitation to it was at Creation's Dawn. How far come into a man's an inspired Poet's more beautiful has the Dædal Earth head ! " Thy waters fretted away the been growing, from century to cenmaritime littoral edges of the Assy- tury, over Continent and Isle, under rian, the Grecian, the Roman, the the love of her grateful children. The Carthaginian Empires, whilst those Curse has become a Blessing. In the Empires flourished !” And this inte. sweat of their brow they eat their resting piece of geographical, and geo- bread; but Nature's self, made lovelogical, and hydrographical medita- lier by their labour of heart and tion makes part in a burst of indig- hand, rejoices in their creative happinant spleen which is to go near to an- ness, and troubled life prepares rest nihilating Man from the face of the from its toil in many a pleasant place Globe! Was it possible to express fair as the bowers of Paradise. more significantly the imbecility of We approach the next Stanza reOld Ocean? And has he not been verently, for it has a religious lookfretting ever since ? And are not the an aspect " that threatens the prolimits the same, as we were told a mi- fane." nute ago ? Old Ocean must be in his
“ Thou glorious Mirror, where the Almighty's dotage if he can do no more than that
Form --and we must elect him perpetual
Glasses itself in tempests,” &c. President of the Fogie Club.
Such wretched writing shows, with Suitably recited! let it be suitably serious warning, how a false temper, spoken of-fearlessly, in truth. The admitted into poetry, overrules the vituperating spirit has exhausted itsound intellect into gravely and self-is dead; and all at once the weightily entertaining combinations Poet becomes a worshipper. From of thought which, looked at either cherished exasperation with the Creawith common sense or with poetical ture--from varying moods of hate and feeling, cannot be sustained for a mo. scorn-he turns to contemplation of ment. How many of Lord Byron's the Creator. Such transition is susadmirers believe-and, in spite of picious-can such worship be sincere ? Christopher, will continue to believe- Fallen, sinful-yet is man God's that in these almost senseless stanzas noblest work. In His own image did he has said something strong, poig- IIe create him; and to glorify Him nant, cutting, of good edge, and “ full must we vilify the dust into which of force driven home!"
He breathed a living soul? Let the "Time writes no wrinkle on thine azure brow
Poet lament, with thoughts that lie
too deep for tears, over what Man Such as creation's dawn beheld, thou roll
has made of Man! And in the mulest now."
titude of thoughts within him adore We accept the image ; let us grant that his Maker-in words. But he who despises his kind, and delights in selves very spirited; but we must heaping contumely on the race of think-and hope so do you very man throughout all his history much out of place, and a sad descent on earth and sea-how may he, from the altitude attempted, and be. when wearied with chiding, all at lieved by the Poet himself to have once, as if it had been not hindrance been attained, in the preceding but preparation, dare to speak, in the Stanza about the Almighty. language of worship, of the Almighty Why, listening Neophyte, recite Maker of Heaven and of Earth? both Stanzas, and then tell us whether
The Stanza, accordingly, is not good or no you think they may be improved -it is laboured, heavy, formal, unin- by being put into-our Prose. We do spired by divine afflatus. There is not seek thereby to injure what Poetry not in it one truly sublime expression. may be in them, but to bring it out Nothing to our mind can be worse than and improve it. " where the Almighty's Form glasses “ Thou glorious Mirror, in which, itself &c. - " The one word “Form" when black with tempests, Fancy might is destructive, in its gross materialism, conceive Omnipotence imaged in vialike of natural Poetry and natural sible reflection - Thou Sea, that in all Religion. If it be not, show us we thy seasons, whether smooth or agiare wrong, and henceforth we shall tated, whether soft or wild wind be mute for ever. “In all time, calm blow, in all thy regions, icy at the or convulsed, in breeze, or gale, or Pole, dark-heaving at the Equator, storm," is poor and prosaic; and “orever and every where callest forth our storm," a pitiable platitude after “in acknowledgment that Thou art illitempests." And the conversion of a mitable, interminable, sublime ; that Mirror into a Throne-of the Mirror Thou art the symbol of Eternitytoo in which the Almighty's “ Form (like a circle by returning into itself;) glasses itself," into the Throne of the that Thou art the visible Throne of “ Invisible”-is a fatal contradiction, the Invisible Deity-Thou whose very proving the utter want of that pos- dregs turn into enormous life--Thon session of soul by one awful thonght who, possessing the larger part of every which was here demanded, and with: zone, art thus a King in every zone ; out which the whole stanza becomes Thou takest thy course around the but a mere collocation and hubbub of Earth,-great by thine awfulness, by big-sounding words. “Even from out thine undiscoverable depth, by thy sothy slime, the monsters of the deep litude ! are made," is violently jammed in " And I, thy Poet, was of old thy between lines that have no sort of Lover! In young years my favourite connexion with it, and introduces a disport was to lie afloat on thy bosom, thought which, whether consistent carried along by Thee, passive, rewith true Philosophy or abhorrent from signed to Thy power, one of Thy it, breaks in upon the whole course bubbles. A boy, Thy waves were my of contemplation, such as it is,--to playmates, or my playthings. If, as say nothing of the extreme poverty of the wind freshened, and they swelled, language shown in the use of such I grew afraid, there was a pleasure words as “monsters of the deep" made even in the palpitation of the fears, out of the slime of the sea.
for I lived with Thee and loved Thee, The strain-such as it is-ceases even like a child of Tbine, and besuddenly with this Stanza; and the lieved that Thy billows would not Poet having thus got done with it, hurt me, and laid my hand boldly and exclaiming “and I have loved thee, wantonly on their crests—as at this Ocean," proceeds forthwith to a instant I do, here sitting upon the different matter altogether to the Alban Mount – and making (as they pleasure he was wont to enjoy, when say) a long arm." a boy, in swimming among the HA! THE DINNER-GONG! breakers. The verses are in them.
Printed by William Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh.