網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

simplicity of Wordsworth, as if, on the other hand, the latter poet were to deck his muse in the rainbow tints of Lalla Rookh. We can no more object to the silks and jewels of a fashionable lady than to the nakedness of a statue. There are some orders of poetry that absolutely require ornament, as there are others that are best without it. Mr. Moultrie's genius is not in any respect like that of Moore ; on the contrary it is characterized by a chastity and serenity that are more akin to Wordsworth's; but he has not sufficient breadth and force of mind to give effect to a style that is apt to border on humility. Wordsworth is a dangerous model for a feeble thinker. Poets should contrive to let their style be in keeping with the character of their genius. The blank-verse of Milton was a noble and appropriate instrument in the hands of that mighty master ; but the graceful and tender Goldsmith would have turned it to poor account. Mr. Moultrie is a man of genius, but he cannot write with power in the style of Wordsworth. He is a true poet, though not a great one ; and we are inclined to fancy that if he had continued with more zeal and regularity his courtship to the Muse, he might have taken a much higher place amongst the poets of the present day. He has not quite fulfilled the promise of his spring; but he is yet in the summer of his intellect, and in due season he may hereafter present us with a glorious harvest. Though his mind has long lain fallow, he may soon perhaps make up for past neglect. But even if his volume be read without reference to the past or the future, it is impossible to withhold our admiration, Find what fault we may with it, the sternest and coldest critic must at once acknowledge the presence of real genius ; and no modern book more unequivocally evinces the purity and earnestness of the author's character as a man.

There is a freshness of fancy, a buoyancy of spirit, and an air of strength and facility in his first effusions, that make ample amends for a few errors of judgment that are naturally enough expected in a young and inexperienced writer. These errors are not discoverable in the works of his middle age; but, unhappily, in wrenching away the weeds from his mind's domain, many of the sweetest flowers, steeped in the morning dews of poetry, have vanished with them. It would seem that it is necessary for a poet to continue an unceasing cultivation of his powers, and to cherish, as much as possible, all imaginative associations. Mr. Moultrie had so long intermitted his addresses to the Muse, that they had become comparatively strangers to each other. A fair being of flesh and blood had monopolized his attentions. No youthful lover could testify more devotion to the maiden mistress of his heart than our poet has shown towards his wife. This amounts to a degree of amiable uxoriousness that would have puzzled Byron. A very large proportion of the poems in this volume seem to have been inspired by conjugal affection : but the author of Don Juan thinks that a husband cannot be a lover.

“ Think you if Laura had been Petrarch's wife

He would have written sonnets all his life?"

But Mr. Moultrie has not only shown us that a poet may be at once a husband and a lover, he has also proved how a finer imagination may increase and elevate a parent's pleasures. A severe domestic affliction threw Mr. Moultrie upon his mental resources, and he soon discovered that poetry had charms that could beguile him of his sorrows. His melodious sighs eased the weight upon his heart. "Most poets,” says Shelley,

“ Are cradled into poetry by wrong;
They learn in suffering what they teach in song."

Mr. Moultrie's earlier poems are remarkable for that vivacity and enthusiasm, which are characteristic of youthful genius in its exulting consciousness of power. They breathe too the spirit of generous admiration, which leads a young poet to imitate the

[blocks in formation]

peculiarities of maturer minds. Byron was at that period in the meridian of his fame, and Mr. Moultrie soon caught his tone and manner. His youthful performances are amongst the best imitations of the noble poet that have yet appeared.

Mr. Moultrie's intellectual character has undergone a very striking change. He is no longer gay and buoyant, but a quiet bliss, wholly unallied to mirth and jollity, has taken possession of his heart. A serene religious thoughtfulness has spread its silent mist over the radiant colours of his youthful fancy, and the tumultuous tide of early passion has lost its rader force, and gradually wound its way into the calmer and deeper channel of domestic love. No poet of the present day has drawn more of his inspiration from his household deities. His own sacred hearth is to him the Muse's altar. He is essentially the poet of domestic life. He is as ignorant of the great world as a child; but he knows and cultivates bis own heart, and feels that he has "riches fineless" in his happy human nest. He sings like a bird, to cheer the affectionate mother of his little brood. It is chiefly in obedience to her urgent and repeated solicitations, that he has latterly been so lavish of his song. In the change that has come over the spirit of our poet, it was not to be expected that he would continue to worship his earlier idols. As was said before, Byron has made way for Wordsworth. In Mr. Moultrie's later productions, there is not a single line that reminds us of the author of Childe Harold ; but it is evident, that Wordsworth's pure fancy and calm philosophy have now an ever-present influence upon his genius. The change is a fortunate one, and calls for special congratulation. There is an appearance of less force in Mr. Moultrie's later productions, but perhaps there is a greater depth of thought in them. At all events, there is no question that they are very elegant and refined effusions, and do honor to the head and the heart of the author. The subjects are generally of a nature to call forth, in the happiest manner, the peculiar powers of Mr. Moultrie's genius. He is most at home in the tender and pathetic, and in the illustration of the domestic affections.

Note.-These Miniature Outlines are merely a collection of brief notices written for the editorial department of a literary journal. They are very incomplete, and are perhaps open to the charge of dogmatism and pretension, coming as they now do from an individual author. As editorial criticisms a certain air of assumption and decision was in some degree excusable. There are many admirable writers, of whom no mention is here made, but who ought to have found a place in this collection, had it been intended as a full account of the literati of the day.

THE PAST YEAR.

DEPARTED Year ! now sunk to rest
On dark oblivion's dreamless breast ;-
Lost offspring of mysterious Time!
What mortal crowds of every clime,
In youth and infancy and age
That 'companied thy pilgrimage,
With thee beyond the limits lie
That mock the keenest human eye !
What eager thoughts and golden schemes,
And prospects fair and flattering dreams,
Vanished before the morning light
That scared thy latest living night!
What change of actors and of scene
Within thy narrow span hath been !
And yet though brief thy path, too long
It seemed to those in Life's wild throng,
Who looked towards thy closed career
With hopes now withered on thy bier !

TEN YEARS AND MORE.

TO

1.

Ten years and more—ten years and more,

Have glided swiftly by,
Since first upon our native shore

We felt the social tie,
And little thought at fate's command
To meet upon this distant land.

II.

Ten years and more- -ten years and more!

A cloud is on my heart !
For like the knell of pleasures o'er

When Life's best dreams depart,
These words from drear Oblivion's pall
Dim throngs of shrouded hopes recall.

III.

Ten years and more—ten years and more!

These breathings of the past
These murmurs on Time's twilight shore

Far heard o'er 'memory's waste,'
Arrest awhile the dreaming ear
Like sounds that home-sick wanderers hear.

« 上一頁繼續 »