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clear waters and soft airs and sounds, and bright skies, and woodland solitudes, and moonlight bowers, which are the material elements of poetry—and that fine sense of their undefinable relation to mental emotion, which is its essence and vivifying soul-and which in the midst of Shakspeare's most busy and atrocious scenes, falls like gleams of sunshine on rocks and ruins—contrasting with all that is rugged and repulsive, and reminding us of the existence of purer and brighter elements—which he alone has poured out from the richness of his own mind without effort or restraint, and contrived to intermingle with the play of all the passions, and the vulgar course of this world's affairs, without deserting for an instant the. proper business of the scene, or appearing to pause or digress from love of ornament or need of repose; he alone, who, when the subject requires it, is always keen, and worldly, and practical, and who yet without changing his hand, or stopping his course, scatters around him as he goes all sounds and shapes of sweetness, and conjures up landscapes of immortal fragrance and freshness, and peoples them with spirits of glorious aspect and attractive grace, and is a thousand times more full of imagery and splendour, than those who, for the sake of such qualities, have shrunk back from the delineation of character or passion, and declined the discussion of human duties and cares. More full of wisdom, and ridicule, and sagacity, than all the moralists and satirists in existence, he is more wild, airy, and inventive, and more pathetic and fantastic, than all the poets of all regions and ages of the world ; and has all those elements so happily mixed up in him, and bears his high faculties so temperately, that the
most severe reader cannot complain of him for want of strength or of reason, nor the most sensitive for defect of ornament or ingenuity. Everything in him is in unmeasured abundance and unequalled perfection ; but everything so balanced and kept in subordination as not to jostle or disturb or take the place of another. The most exquisite poetical conceptions, images, and descriptions, are given with such brevity, and introduced with such skill, as merely to adorn without loading the sense they accompany. Although his sails are purple, and perfumed, and his prow of beaten gold, they waft him on his voyage, not less, but more rapidly and directly, than if they had been composed of baser materials. All his excellences, like those of Nature herself, are thrown out together; and instead of interfering with, support and recommend each other. His flowers are not tied up in garlands, nor his fruits crushed into baskets, but spring living from the soil, in all the dew and freshness of youth; while the graceful foliage in which they lurk, and the ample branches, the rough and vigorous stem, and the wide-spreading roots on which they depend, are present along with them, and share, in their places, the equal care of their Creator.
The Steam Engine.
The steam engine has become a thing stupendous alike for its force and its flexibility—for the prodigious power which it can exert, and the ease, and precision, and ductility with which it can be varied, distributed, and applied. The trunk of an elephant, that can pick up a pin or rend an oak, is as nothiug to it. It can engrave a seal, and crush masses of obdurate metal before it-draw out, without breaking, a thread as fine as gossamer, and lift up a ship of war like a bauble in the air. It can embroider muslin and forge anchors, cut steel into ribbons, and impel loaded vessels against the fury of the winds and waves.
Genius not necessarily Unhappy. Men of truly great powers of mind have generally been cheerful, social, and indulgent; while a tendency to sentimental whining or fierce intolerance may be ranked among the surest symptoms of little souls and inferior intellects. In the whole list of our English poets we can only remember Shenstone and Savage-. two certainly of the lowest—who were querulous and discontented. Cowley, indeed, used to call himself melancholy; but he was not in earnest, and at any rate was full of conceits and affectations, and has nothing to make us proud of him. Shakspeare, the greatest of them all, was evidently of a free and joy. ous temperament; and so was Chaucer, their common master. The same disposition appears to have predominated in Fletcher, Jonson, and their great contemporaries. The genius of Milton partook something of the austerity of the party to which he belonged, and of the controversies in which he was involved: but even when fallen on evil days and evil tongues, his spirit seems to have retained its serenity as well as its dignity; and in his private life, as well as in his poetry, the majesty of a high character is tempered with great
sweetness, genial indulgences, and practical wisdom. In the succeeding age our poets were but too gay ; and though we forbear to speak of living authors, we know enough of them to say with confidence, that to be miserable or to be hated is not now, any more than heretofore, the common lot of those who excel.
MA CA U L A Y.
Byron and his Poetry. NEVER had any writer so vast a command of the whole eloquence of scorn, misarithropy and despair.
That Marah was never dry. No art could sweeten, no draughts could exhaust, its perennial waters of bitterness. Never was there such variety of monotony as that of Byron. From maniac laughter to piercing lamentation, there was not a single note of human anguish of which he was not master. Year after year, and month after month, he continued to repeat, that to be wretched is the destiny of all; that to be eminently wretched is the destiny of the eminent; that all the desires by which we are cursed, lead alike to misery; if they are not gratified, to the misery of disappointment; if they are gratified, to the misery of satiety. His principal heroes are men who have arrived by different roads at the same goal of despair, who are sick of life, who are at war with society, who are supported in their anguish, only by an unconquer
able pride, resembling that of Prometheus on the rock, or of Satan in the burning marl; who can master their agonies by the force of their will, and who, to the last, defy the whole power of earth and heaven. He always describes himself as a man of the same kind with his favourite creations, as a man whose heart had been withered, whose capacity for happiness was gone, and could not be restored; but whose invincible spirit dared the worst that could befall him here or hereafter.
How much of this morbid feeling sprang from an original disease of mind, how much from real misfortune, how much from the nervousness of dissipation, how much of it was fanciful, how much of it was merely affected, it is impossible for us, and would probably have been impossible for the most intimate friends of Lord Byron, to decide. Whether there ever existed, or can ever exist, a person answering to the description which he gave of himself, may be doubted; but that he was not such a person is beyond all doubt. It is ridiculous to imagine that a man, whose mind was really imbued with scorn of his fellow-creatures, would have published three or four books every year to tell them so; or that a man, who could say with truth that he neither sought sympathy nor needed it, would have admitted all Europe to hear his farewell to his wife, and his blessings on his child. In the second canto of Childe Harold, he tells us that he is insensible to fame and obloquy ;
“ Ill may such contest now the spirit move,
Yet we know, on the best evidence, that a day or two