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have been famous in their time, and even in the generation after them, and yet have been negatived by posterity.
The secret of Byron's success in “Don Juan” lies in that love of unexpectedness which is so constituent a part of human nature. However absurd and dangerous a practical joke may be, it invariably draws forth a laugh from the majority. In this mixed style of poetry there is a kind of intellectual contradiction, which in some shape approximates to the same habit of mind.
In addition to this feature in the human character, Byron made an appeal to the beautiful and the heroic. “Don Juan" not only abounds with passages which apparently ignore the existence of all love, truth, devotion, and the better parts of our nature, but also with the finest appeals to these very elements. These are too numerous to need enumeration ; a rapid glance at the poem will convince the most sceptical. There is also another attraction in this kind of writing, and it consists in the easiness with which some piquant lines are remembered by reason of the double and generally felicitous rhymes.
We shall, however, commence with Mr. Halleck's shorter poems, and close our notice with a short analysis of his chief production called “Fanny.” As he has written very little verse, we shall try him by a more careful standard than that applied to men of more extensive productions. Nor is this unjust on other grounds. There is an evident polish about his lines ; the first glance shows the elaborate care with which every thought has been expressed ; there is not much of that “abandon” which characterizes some poets.
We are not quite sure whether Mr. Halleck intends the
verses in “ Red Jacket” to be complimentary to Mr. Cooper or not; some suppose there is a gentle sarcasm on the great novelist's national egotism.
“ Cooper, whose name is with his country's woven,
First in her files her Pioneer of mind,
* * * * *
As law authority—it passed.nem. con. ;'
The most enlightened people ever known.
In Paris, full of song, and dance, and laugh,
There's not a bailiff or an epitaph.
We shall export our poetry and wine,
Will sweep the seas from Zembla to the line." There are somewhere about half-a-dozen more verses, but they are not written with the poet's usual felicity.
This inconsistency of mood betrays itself in most of Mr. Halleck’s productions. Byron had the power to check this feeling. When he wrote a Mephistophilean poem he openly worked it out; in his serious productions he never suffered this disturbing, inharmonious spirit, to appear. He was too much of an artist to do this. But his American brother in verse seems to be governed by this mood, and not to rule it.
In the verses to “ Alnwick Castle” we have an instance of this besetting sin. To be sure, the author may turn round and say that he meant it should assume this bantering tone, but there is an instinct in every reader which tells him how far such a purpose is legitimate. In “ Beppo” and “Don Juan" we feel the whole work is in keeping, but in “ Alnwick Castle" we only observe the poet's infirmity of purpose. We feel pretty well convinced that Mr. Halleck intended to write a serious heroic poem, when he commenced the lines in question, but finding his impulse or inspiration dying, he resuscitated it by calling upon the Genius of Banter. Notwithstanding this centaur-like appearance, it possesses some fine stanzas.
“ Home of the Percies' high-born race,
Home of their beautiful and brave,
Their cradle and their grave.
“Still sternly o'er the castle-gate
As in his proud departed hours :
Above his princely towers.
“ A gentle hill its side inclines,
Lovely in England's fadeless green,
Through this romantic scene.
“ As silently and sweetly still
While summer's winds blow soft and low,
Seated at gallant Hotspur's side,
A thousand years ago.
“ Gaze on the abbey's ruined pile ;
Does not the succoring Ivy, keeping
As o'er a loved one sleeping.
Still tells, in melancholy glory,
The Percy's proudest border story.
“ That day its roof was triumph's arch;
Then rang from aisle to pictured dome
The music of the trump and drum.
And the manly hymn and minstrel's song,
* * * * * *
After two or three more stanzas, written in the same spirit, the jeering fiend comes over Mr. Halleck, and he breaks off thus :
“ I wandered through the lofty halls,
Trod by the Percies of old fame,
Each high, heroic name.
Glitter the Sultan's crescent moons,
A major of dragoons !"
Was the temptation of rhyming “ dragoons ” to “ moons” too strong for the poet, or did his American indignation, to find a Percy against the cause of freedom, in the old war, dissipato the chivalric vision?
When we read this for the first time, we were under the momentary impression that we had got hold of, by mistake, “ The Rejected Addresses," so like a parody on Sir Walter Scott did the verses sound :
To proceed, however, with Mr. Halleck's own account of the matter, he says :
“ The last half stanza : it has dashed
From my warm lips the sparkling cup,
The power that bore my spirit up,
Oxen and bleating lambs in lots,
Men in the coal and cattle line,
Newcastle upon Tyne.”