« ForrigeFortsett »
It is almost superfluous to mention that the appellation “ Childe,” as “ Childe Waters,” “ Childe Childers,” &c. is used as more consonant with the old structure of versification which I have adopted. The “ Good Night,” in the beginning of the first canto, was suggested by “ Lord Maxwell's Good Night,” in the Border Minstrelsy, edited by Mr, Scott.
With the different poems which have been published on Spanish subjects, there may be found some slight coincidence in the first part, which treats of the Peninsula, but it can only be casual ; 'as, with the exception of a few concluding stånzas, the whole of this poem was written in the Levant.
The stanza of Spencer according to one of our most successful poets, admits of every variety. Dr. Beattie makes the following observation: “ Not long ago I began a poem in the style and stanza of Spencer, in which I propose to give full scope to my inclination, and be either droll or pathetic, descriptive or sentimental, tender or satirical, as the humour strikes me ; for, if I mistake not,the measure which I have adopted admits equally of all these kinds of composition."*--Strengthened in my opinion by such authority, and by the example of some in the highest order of Italian poets, I shall make no apology for attempts at similar variations in the following composition ; satisfied that, if they are unsuccessful, their failure must be in the execution, rather than in the design sanctioned by the practice of Ariosto, Thomson, and Beattie.
* Beattie's Letters,
I have now waited till almost all our periodical journals have distributed their usual portion of criticism. To the justice of the generality of their criticisms I bave nothing to object; it would ill become me to quarrel with their slight degree of censure, when, perhaps, if they had been less kind they had been more candid. Returning therefore to all and each my best thanks for their liberality, on one point alone shall 1 venture an observation. Amongst the many objections justly urged to the very indifferent character of the “ vagrant Childe" (whom potwithstanding many hints to the contrary, I still maintain to be a fictitious personage,) it has been stated, that besides the ana. chronism, he is very unknightly, as the times of the Knight were times of love, honour, and so forth. Now it so happens that the old es, when “ l'amour du bon vieux tems, l'amour antique" Aourished, were the most profligate of all possible centuries. Those who have any doubts on this subject may consult St. Palaye, passim, and more particularly vol. ii. page 69. The vows of chivalry were no better kept than any other vows whatever, and the songs of the Troubadors were not more decent, and certainly were much less refined, than those of Ovid.
The“ Cours d'amour, parlemens d'amour ou de courtesie et de gentilesse," bad much more of love thap of courtesy or gentleness.-See Rolland on the same subject with St. Palaye...Whatever other objection may be urged to that most unamiable personage Childe Harold, he was so far perfectly knightly in his attributes" No waiter, but a knight templar."* By the by, I fear that Sir Tristram and Sir Lancelot were no better than they should be, although very poetical personages and true knights “sans peur," though
* The Rovers. Antijacobin.
sans reproche."--If the story of the institution of the “ Garter” be not a fable, the knights of that order have for several centuries borne the badge of a Countess of Salisbury, of indifferent memory.
So much for chi, valry. Burke need not have regretted that its days are over, though Maria Antoinette was quite as chaste as most of those in whose honours lances were shivered, and knights uphorsed.
Before the days of Bayard, and down to those of Sir Joseph Banks (the most chaste and celebrated of ancient and modern times, few exceptions will be found to this statement, and I fear a little investigation will teach us not to regret those monstrous mummeries of the middle ages,
I now leave “Childe Harold" to live his day, such as he is, it had been more agreeable, and certainly more easy, to have drawn an amiable character. It had been easy to varnish over his faults, to make him do more and express less, but he never was intended as an example, further than to show that early perversion of inind and moral, leads to satiety of past pleasure and disappointment in new ones, and that even the beauties of nature, and the stimulus of travel (except ambition, the most powerful of all excitements) are lost on a soul so constituted, or rather misdirected. Had I proceeded with the Poem, this character would have deepened as he drew to the close : for the outline which I once meant to fill up for him was, with some exceptions, the sketch of a modern Timon, perhaps a poetical Zelucco.
Not in those climes where I have late been straying, Though Beauty long hath there been matchless
deemid; Not in those visions to the heart displaying Forms which it sighs but to have only dream'd, Hath aught like thee in truth or fancy seem'd: Nor, having seen thee, shall I vainly seek To paint those charms which varied as they beam'd
To such as see thee not my words were weak; To those who gaze on thee what lauguage could they
Ah ! may'st thou ever be what now thou art,
Beholds the rainbow of her future years,
Young Peri of the West-'tis well for me
To those whose admiration shall succeed,
Oh ! let that eye, which wild as the Gazelle's,
To one so young my strain I would commend,
Such is thy name with this my verse entwin'd;
Such is the most my memory may desire;
less require ?