網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

tion, and Scott of invention. The one is the king of the first class of intellect; the other the indisputable head of the second class. We venture to say, the more this position is examined the more it will be acknowledged.

In Shakspeare's writings it will be seen that his characters, whether they be Hamlet, Bottom, Macbeth, or Slender, are always the very head of their class, the very poetry of their nature, viz. the highest individualization possible to reach. This intensity, without an overstraining or even apparent effort, is undoubtedly the reason why every day spreads wider the renown of the great dramatist : it is like a circle ever extending. It is also a singular coincidence with nature herself, whose productions, whether a star, a flower, a drop of water, or an animalcule, challenge the most elaborate and microscopical examination.

We do not, however, quarrel with Miss Fuller for her confounding invention with imagination; we merely point it out as a simple difference of opinion, and leave the public to decide the point.

Miss Fuller's poetry partakes of her independent nature, and offers a remarkable contrast to that sickly and insipid verse which has of late years inundated the reading world.

In the following specimen we have an earnest of that clearness of thought and justness of diction so rare in poetry, and more especially in the productions of female writers.

“ Farewell, ye soft and sumptuous solitudes !

Ye fairy distances, ye lordly woods,
Haunted by paths like those that Poussin knew,
When after his all gazers' eyes he drew :

I go,--and if I never more may steep
An eager heart in your enchantments deep,
Yet ever to itself that heart may say,
Be not exacting; thou hast lived one day;
Hast looked on that which matches with thy mood,
Impassioned sweetness of full being's flood,
Where nothing checked the bold yet gentle wave,
Where naught repelled the lavish love that gave.
A tender blessing lingers o'er the scene,
Like some young mother's thought, fond, yet serene,
And through its life new-born our lives have been.
Once more farewell,-a sad, a sweet farewell;
And, if I never must behold you more,
In other worlds I will not cease to tell
The rosary I here have numbered o'er;
And bright-haired Hope will lend a gladdened ear,
And love will free him from the grasp of Fear,
And Gorgon critics, while the tale they hear,
Shall dew their stony glances with a tear,
If I but catch one echo from your spell;-
And so farewell,—a grateful, sad farewell !"

There is no attempt at grandiloquence in these verses; most of those we have read on the same theme are written too much in the “ Ercles vein.” Poets produce greater effect by simplicity than by those turgid words which are too frequently mistaken for fine poetry.

For a great author Coleridge has sinned most against this law in his “religious musings,” and even in that magnificent anthem to Chamouni, beginning

“ Hast thou a charm to stay the morning star,

So long thou seemest to pause,” &c.

There are many phrases which trench upon good taste, and overstep the modesty of Nature. It is easy to perceive when a poet's heart is not in his subject, by the number of gaudy epithets and elaborate metaphors; the effect of one is a certain proof of the absence of the other.

Great effects are frequently produced by the simplest words. Who can refrain from admiring the vividness of this image from Watts's Hymns ?

" For Satan trembles when he sees

The weakest sinner on his knees!" This has always appeared to us as suggestive as any two lines ever written. The cowering of the grand monarch of abstract evil before a penitent is a noble image. The very attitude of humiliation to God being the overtowering defiance of the great enemy !

Of a similar class of condensed suggestiveness is the line in Green's Poem of the Spleen. Alluding to the efficacy to exercise in that complaint, the Poet says,

“Throw but a stone the Giant dies !" A finer allusion to the combat between David and Goliah has never been made. Our recollection suggests another piece of the bold sculpture of Thought, by a few dashes of the chisel. It is from Collins's “ Ode to Fear."

“ Danger, whose limbs of giant mould,

What mortal eye can fixed behold?
Who stalks his round, a hideous form,
Howling amidst the midnight storm,
Or throws him on the ridgy steep
Of some loose hanging rock to sleep !"

It is needless to comment on the two last lines; there is a world of fear in the simple attitude.

We must give one more instance of the felicitous power of a few words, naturally placed, to produce a great idea. Alluding to the fate of Richard the Second, who was starved to death, Gray says :

“ Close by the regal chair

Fell Thirst and Famine scowl
A baleful smile upon their baffled guest."

Our space will not allow us to analyse “ The Women of the Nineteenth Century.” It is the less necessary, as it displays the same characteristics as Miss Fuller's other writings.

It is an additional evidence of her freshness of mind, and fearlessness of testifying to the truth, as it appears to her. However unpalatable and strange the opinions she advocates now appear, we feel pretty certain every year will bring the world nearer to their recognition, and the wonder then will be how any rational being could have doubted them.

We should not be giving a complete portrait of Miss Fuller if we were to omit noticing her capabilities as a traveller, and an observant visitor of foreign lands; in this respect her letters to the “ Tribune” are admirable specimens of observation. We were much amused at the humorous hints she occasionally throws out on the distribution of labor between the sexes. Lamb had the same notion that mankind never could pretend to any “ gallantry,” so long as they allowed the housemaids to do all the work. Miss Fuller seems inclined to turn the lords of creation into washerwomen.

“ The Reform Club was the only one of those splendid establishments that I visited. Certainly the force of comfort can no further go, nor can anything be better contrived to make dressing, eating, news-getting, and even sleeping (for there are bed-rooms as well as dressing-rooms for those who will), be got through with as glibly as possible. Yet to me this palace of so many 'single gentlemen rolled into one,' seemed stupidly comfortable in the absence of that elegant arrangement and vivacious atmosphere which only Women can inspire. In the kitchen, indeed, I met them, and on that account it seemed the pleasantest part of the building—though, even there they are but the servants of servants. There reigned supreme a genius in his way, who has published a work on Cookery, and around him his pupils--young men who pay a handsome yearly fee for novitiate under his instruction. I am not sorry, however, to see men predominant in the cooking department, as I hope to see that and washing transferred to their care in the progress of things, since they are the stronger sex.?

“The arrangements of this kitchen were very fine, combining great convenience with neatness, and even elegance. Fourier himself might have taken pleasure in them. Thence we passed into the private apartments of the artist, and found them full of pictures by his wife, an artist in another walk. One or two of them had been engraved. She was an Englishwoman.

“ We also get a glimpse, returning from a John Gilpin pilgrimage to Edmonton, of the residence of the German poet Freiligrath.

6. Returning, we passed the house where Freiligrath finds a temporary home, earning the bread of himself and his family in a commercial house. England houses the exile, but not without house-tax, window-tax, and head-tax. Where is the Arcadia that dares invite all genius to her arms, and change her golden wheat for their green laurels and immortal flowers? Arcadia—would the name were America !""

« 上一頁繼續 »