Sidebilder
PDF
ePub
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
[blocks in formation]

( Ertracted from a MS. letter of the Baron von LAUERWINKEL.)

The manner in which you express productions with a severer eye, and to yourself concerning the poetry of satisfy ourselves that he is by no means Moore, is not unlike that which I a great one. have met with in many of your Eng. To tell you the truth, had Mr Lish journals, and is withal sufficiently Moore been a Frenchman or an Itanatural to a person of your age and lian, nay. I am sorry to say it, had he habits. Like you I admire the lively been born a countryman of my own and graceful genius of this pian; like had similar pretensions been preferred you I appreciate the amiable tempera- in favour of similar productions among ment and dispositions which lend a any other European people,– I know charm to his verses, more touching not that I should have been inclined than any thing which liveliness, grace, to weigh them so scrupulously, or perand genius alone could confer; but I haps justified in rejecting them so decannot consent for a moment to class cidedly. It is the belief of the most Mr Moore with the great poets of orthodox divines, that the guilt of a England-no more can I persuade careless Christian is greater than that myself that he is likely to go down to of an ignorant Heathen, even although posterity as the national poet of Ire- the offences of the two men may have land. The claim which has lately been externally and apparently alike. been set up for him is one of no trifling - Of him to whom much is given the import. It would not only assign to more shall be required." I must do hiin a share of the same magnificent justice to your country, even although honours which have of right descend- it should be at the expense of your ed to Byron, Wordsworth, and Camp- favourite. The English poet who bell, but mingle with his laurels ano- fails to be held great, chiefly because ther wreath such as the grateful af- he chooses not to be pure, falls a fection of your own country has al- splendid sacrifice before the altar to ready woven for Scott and Burns, which he has brought an unacceptable The friends of Mr Moore, or the ad offering. Even genius will not save mirers of his genius, have done no him ; and yet the highest genius will service either to the poet or to his do much. We listen with sorrow to works by their injudicious praises and the pernicious sophisms, and gloomy their extravagant demands. The only despondings, which deform and darken effect of their zeal is, to make reflec- the native majesty of Byron; but tive men try the productions of their hope and trust are mingled with our idol by a higher standard than they sorrow, and we cannot suppose it might otherwise have judged it neces- would be less than blasphemy to dessary to apply. By rejecting, in behalf pair of such a spirit. In Moore the of their favourite, the honours which redeeming power is less. He possesses We willingly grant to a minor poet, not, whatever his nobler brother may they have compelled us to look at his do, the charm which might privilege

Vol. IV.

him to pass through the fire and be and Mr Moore, when he is stretched unsinged.

upon the bed of death, will understand But the genius of a poet is estimat- what it was that troubled, with a tened by every man according to his own fold pang, the last agonies of Rochesprivate feeling, and it may therefore ter. be as well to lay it for a moment out It had been well, however, if, when of the question.-Since the publication Mr Moore learned to despise himself of Lalla Rookh, the admirers of Moore for gross impurity, he had not stophave chosen to talk as if his genius ped half-way in his reformation. It were of the first order, and yourself, I had been well, that instead of lopping observe, are of the same way of think- off the most prominent branches, he ing. On this point we are not likely had torn up the roots also, and for to agree. But however wavering may ever withered the juices of his tree of be the standard of some of the late ad evil. Did he imagine that the harlot mirers of Mr Moore, I well know that would purify her nature by the asyou at least will have no objections to sumption of a veil, or that his ideas try the MORALITY of any poet by the would be remembered with impunity, only standard which is unchanging only because his words might be reand unerring. If you find that the cited without a blush? His muse has elements of his elegant compositions abused the passport which hypocrisy are essentially and hopelessly impure, or self-ignorance procured her; and you will have no hesitation in agreeing they who adopt the sentiments of the with me, that, whatever his original bard of the Melodies and Lalla Rookh, genius may have been, the use to although indeed they need not be conwhich he has applied it has taken founded with the disciples of Little, from him all right to the place, or the must remain for ever unworthy and communion, of the great poets of incapable of understanding or enjoying England. That man inust think those pure and noble thoughts, which lightly and erringly, who doubts the form the brightest ornament of their eternal union of the highest intellect productions, with whom Mr Moore with the highest virtue. I doubt not would fain have himself to be associa that I shall speedily bring you to be ated. The whole strain of his music of the same mind with myself, res- is pitched upon too low a key. If he pecting the tendency of Mr Moore's never sinks into absolute pollution, performances; and if you do so, you neither dares he for a moment rise to will, in the sequel, have less difficulty the true sublime of purity. He writes in embracing my opinion concerning for women chiefly, and woman is at its inspiration also.

all times his principal topic. How Of the early productions, by which strange that he should never have the name of this poet was rendered no- been able to flatter his audience by torious, I shall say nothing. He him- dignifying his theme! How strange, self professes to be ashamed of them, that he who seems to understand so and I doubt not the sincerity of his well every minor, superficial, transitory professions. He is, moreover, suffi- charm, should manifest so total & ciently punished by their existence. blindness to the only charm which is The poison which he has once mingled deep and enduring—to that of which he cannot spill. The muse which he all the rest are but the images and has profaned asserts her privilege even shadows-to that for which no luxury in her degradation. The sculptor or compensates, and no passion can atone. the painter may destroy his work, or, I have heard your fair countrywomen if it has parted from his hands, it may warbling the words of Moore ; and be veiled by its possessor ; but the from their lips what can appear unimpure poet has roused a demon clean? But in the retirement of the which he has no spell to lay. The closet, and deprived of the protection foul spirit has received wings with its of their purity, the words were evocation, and the unhappy sorcerer is “ weighed in the balance and found doomed, wherever he may go, to hear wanting.” The sinless creatures that their infernal flap, and tread on the utter them cannot understand their vestiges of their blighting. Year after meaning. I do not wish to say that year may pass, and repentance may sit their meaning is any thing positively, in the place of vice,

expressly, necessarily bad. It is e“ But tears which wash out guilt can't wash nough for my purpose that it is not out shame;"

positively and necessarily good. The

Epicurean tinge is diffused over the In adopting the sentiments of anwhole. The beautiful garlands which cient poets concerning women, he has these chaste fingers handle have been widely erred. It is, however, a sad gathered in the garden of the Sybarites. aggravation of his offence, that, among They should not twist them into their a set of authors, who are all impure, innocent locks—there is phrenzy in he has selected, for the models of his their odours.

special imitation, those in whose proOne of the chief distinctions between ductions the common stain is foulest. the poets of ancient and those of mo It is needless to say any thing of Anadern times, consists in the wide dif- creon, or of the perverse ingenuity ference which may be observed in their which Mr Moore exhibited in exaggemodes of representing the character rating the corruption of that which and influence of the female sex ; and was already abundantly impure-in in no one point perhaps is the supe- taking away from the lewd verses of riority so visibly on the side of the the Teian that simplicity of language moderns. Of those modern poets, and figure which formed the only offnevertheless, who have been content- set to the pollution of their ideas. If ed with the praises of gayety, spright one may judge either from the text, liness, invention, and spontaneously or from the notes even of Mr Moore's disavowed every claim to the highest latest publications, the chief of his honours of their art, not a few have, antique favourites are such men as from vice or affectation, dared, in scorn Aristophanes, Catullus, Ovid, Martial, of their destiny, to revive in their Petronius, and Lucian. In truth, he strains the discarded impurity of their is totally unacquainted with the true predecessors. It will be understood, spirit of ancient poetry, and admires that I refer not to casual or superfi- and borrows exactly the worst things cial impurities merely, but to those about that which he would profess to which imply a complete and radical study with an intelligent delight. * pollution of all ideas concerning the The flattering ideas which Mr Moore nature of the softer sex-a degradation has embraced concerning the measure of the abstract conception of their cha- of his own powers, are betrayed by the racter, and of the purposes for which attempt which he has openly made to they have been created. This corrup- compete with the genius of Lord tion has entered into the composition Byron in the choice of some of his of no poetry more deeply and essen- scenes and subjects. But, notwithtially than into that of Moore. He standing the absurd eulogies of some never for a moment contemplates them of your reviewers, Mr Moore's Eastern but with the eye of a sensualist. He Poetry has not, I perceive, taken any has no capacity to understand such a hold of the English mind; and this character as Imogen or Una. The should be sufficient to convince that smiles of which he loves to warble, are gentleman of his mistake. The radical not those of the “ Unblenched Ma- inferiority of Mr Moore is abundantly jesty" which Milton worshipped. Their visible even in that respect where, with nature is sufficiently betrayed by the sorrow do I speak it, it might least have company in which he places them. been expected to appear. Lord Byron Listen to the words which he has pla- has done wrong in choosing to repreced in the mouth of a dying poet sent woman at all times as she exists for even death, that awful moment in in those countries where her character whose contemplation nature and reli- is degraded by the prevalence of polygion teach the purest to tremble, is gamy. But he has in some measure represented by this songster as the atoned for this error. He has at least scene of calm and contented reminis- made her as noble as she could be in cencies of sensual delights-exactly as such a situation. He has poured if the mighty change were nothing around her every dignity which she more than a revolution of corporeal could there be imagined to possess, atoms, as if there were no soul to wing and ascribed to her every power and an eternal flight from the lips of the influence which she could there enjoy: departed.

nay, by the preference with which he “ When in death I shall calm recline,

has uniformly represented her as reOh carry my heart to my mistress dear:

ceiving those who mingle with their Tell her it lived upon smiles and wine

love the chivalry of Christendom, he All the time that it lingered here." has at least insinuated what her rights

are, and vindicated the conscious nobis the gay spirits of a single city are not lity of her nature. Mr Moore has permanently to dictate the decision of brought into the haram no such a generous nation; that the purereliques of the truth. In his lays the minded matrons and high-spirited Sultana of the East betrays no lurking men of Ireland will pause ere they aspirations after a purer destiny; authorise the world to seek the reflecCælum non animum mutat qui trans mare tion of their character in the gaudy currit ;

impurities and tinsel Jacobinism of in Dublin, London, Bermuda, Kho- this deluded poet. The truth is, that rassan, Mr Moore sees nothing in a I am by no means apprehensive of woman but an amiable plaything or a seeing the “Green Isle" debase hercapricious slave.

self by making common cause with I have enlarged upon this poet's Mr Moore. Before any man can bemanner of representing women, not come the poet of a nation, he must do because in that point alone he falls something very different from what below the standard by which the great has either been accomplished or propoets of your country must be con- mised in any of his productions. He tented to be tried, but because it is must identify his own spirit with that one on which every reflecting man of his people, by embodying in his must at once agree with me, while, in verse those habitual and peculiar regard to many other points, I could thoughts which constitute the essence not calculate upon quite so speedy an of their nationality. I myself have acquiescence. But as it is said in the never been in Ireland ; but I strongly Scripture, that “ he who breaks one suspect that Moore has been silent of the commandments has offended with respect to every part of her naagainst them all," so it may very safely tionality-except the name. Let us be admitted, that the poet who betrays compare him for a moment with one impurity and degradation of concep- whose position in many circumstances tion in respect to one point of moral resembled his, and whose works have feeling, can never be truly pure and certainly obtained that power to which lofty in regard to any other. In every his aspire. Let us compare the poet man's system there is some consist- whose songs have been so effectually ency; and Mr Moore is a man of so embalmed in the heart of Scotland, much acuteness, that he could not fail with him who hopes to possess, in that soon to perceive and amend one soli- of Ireland, a mausoleum no less august. tary fault. When he discovers not There are few things more worthy the inky spot, there is proof abundant of being studied, either in their characthat darkness is around him.

ter or in their effects, than the poems Whatever the measure of his power of Robert Burns. This man, born and may be, that man is unworthy to be a bred a peasant, was taught, like all national poet, whose standard of moral other Scotsmen, to read his Bible, and purity and mental elevation falls below learned by heart, in his infancy, the that of the people to which he would heroic ballads of his nation. Amidst have his inspirations minister. It is the solitary occupations of his rural the chief part of Mr Moore's ambition labours, the soul of the ploughman fed to be received as the national bard of itself with high thoughts of patriotism his own island ; and I observe, that and religion, and with that happy inon a late occasion, a very numerous stinct which is the best prerogative of and respectable body of his country- genius, he divined every thing that was men assembled to express, in his pre- necessary for being the poet of his sence, their admission of his claims. country. The men of his nation, high No one can be less inclined than I am and low, are educated men ; meditato speak harshly of an elegant, accom tive in their spirit, proud in their replished, and, in his own person, vir- collections, steady in their patriotism, tuous man; but I must say, that I and devout in their faith. At the time, should be very sorry to think so however, when he appeared, the commeanly of Ireland, as to imagine her pletion of their political union with a deserving of no better poetry than Mr greater and wealthier kingdom, and Moore can furnish. The land which the splendid success which had crowncan look upon the principles of his ed their efforts in adding to the genepoetry as worthy of her, cannot herself ral literature of Britain-but above be worthy of its genius. I trust that all, the chilling nature of the merely

« ForrigeFortsett »