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hues of life, and without destroying its native | We shall avoid the fruitless task of dwellcolouring, give to it a more solemn tinge. ing on the defects of this author, or the geBut we cannot extend our indulgence to the neral insipidity of his lovers, on the want of seer in the Legend of Montrose, or the Lady skill in the development of his plots, on the of Avenel, in the Monastery; where the spirits clumsiness of his prefatory introductions, or of another world do not cast their shadowings the impotence of many of his conclusions. on this, but stalk forth in open light, and " in He has done his country and his nature no form as palpable” as any of the mortal cha- ordinary service. He has brought romance racters. În works of passion, fairies and almost into our own times, and made the ghosts can scarcely be a simple products of nobleness of humanity familiar to our daily the common day," without destroying all har- thoughts. He has enriched history to us by mony in our perceptions, and bringing the opening such varied and delicious vistas to whole into discredit with the imagination as our gaze, beneath the range of its loftier events well as the feelings. Fairy tales are among and more public characters. May his intelthe most exquisite things in the world, and so lectual treasury prove exhaustless as the purse are delineations of humanity like those of our of Fortunatus, and may he dip into it unsparauthor ; but they can never be blended with ingly for the delight and the benefit of his out debasing the former into chill substances, species ! or refining the latter into airy nothings.
(New MontuLY MAGAZINE.)
Ma. Godwin is the most original-not only moveless grandeur which never could spring of living novelists—but of living writers in from mere fantasy. His works are not like prose. There are, indeed very few authors of those which a man, who is endued with a any age who are so clearly entitled to the deep sense of beauty, or a rare faculty of obpraise of having produced works, the first servation, or a sportive wit, or a breathing perusal of which is a signal event in man's eloquence, may fabricate as the “idle busiinternal history. His genius is by far the ness” of his life, as the means of profit or of most extraordinary, which the great shaking fame. They have more in them of acts than of nations and of principles—the French revo- of writings. They are the living and the imlution-impelled and directed in its progress. mortal deeds of a man who must have been a English literature, at the period of that mar- great political adventurer had he not been an vellous change, had become sterile; the rich author. There is in “ Caleb Williams" alone luxuriance which once overspread its surface, the material—the real burning energy, which had gradually declined into thin and scattered might have animated a hundred schemes for productions of feeble growth and transient the weal or wo of the species. duration. The fearful convulsion which No writer of fictions has ever succeeded so agitated the world of politics and of morals, strikingly as Mr. Godwin, with so little adtore up this shallow and exhausted surface-ventitious aid. His works are neither gay disclosed vast treasures which had been con- creatures of the element, nor pictures of excealed for centuries-burst open the secret ternal life-they derive not their charm from springs of imagination and of thought-and the delusions of fancy, or the familiarities of left, instead of the smooth and weary plain, a daily habitude and are as destitute of the region of deep valleys and of shapeless hills, fascinations of light satire and felicitous deof new cataracts and of awful abysses, of lineation of society, as they are of the magic spots blasted into everlasting barrenness, and of the Arabian Tales. His style has "no regions of deepest and richest soil. Our figures and no fantasies,” but is simple and author partook in the first enthusiasms of the austere. Yet his novels have a power which spirit-stirring season-in “its pleasant exer so enthralls us, that we half doubt, when we cise of hope and joy”-in much of its specu- read them in youth, whether all our experilative extravagance, but in none of its practi-ence is not a dream, and these the only realical excesses. He was roused not into action ties. He lays bare to us the innate might and but into thought; and the high and undying majesty of man. He takes the simplest and energies of his soul, unwasted on vain efforts most ordinary emotions of our nature, and for the actual regeneration of man, gathered makes us feel the springs of delight or of strength in those pure fields of meditation to agony which they contain, ihe stupendous force which they were limited. The power which which lies hid within them, and the sublime might have ruled the disturbed nations with mysteries with which they are connected. He the wildest, directed only to the creation of exhibits the naked wrestle of the passions in high theories and of marvellous tales, im- a vast solitude, where no object of material parted to its works a stern reality, and al beauty disturbs our attention from the august
spectacle, and where the least beating of the presses us with the immortality of virtue; and heart is audible in the depth of the stillness. while he leaves us painfully to regret the stains His works endow the abstractions of life with which the most gifted and energetic charac. more of real presence, and make us more in- ters contract amidst the pollutions of time, he tensely conscious of existence than any others inspires us with hope that these shall pass with which we are acquainted. They give us away for ever. We drink in unshaken confi. a new feeling of the capacity of our nature for dence the good and the true, which is ever of action or for suffering, make the currents of more value than hatred or contempt for the our blood mantle within us, and our bosoms evil! heave with indistinct desires for the keenest “ Caleb Williams," the earliest, is also the excitements and the strangest perils. We feel most popular of our author's romances, not as though we could live years in moments of because his latter works have been less rich in energetic life, while we sympathize with his sentiment and passion, but because they are, breathing characters. In things which before for the most part, confined to the development appeared indifferent, we discern sources of of single characters; while in this there is the the fullest delight or of the most intense opposition and death grapple of two beings, anguish. The healthful breathings of the each endowed with poignant sensibilities and common air seem instinct with an unspeaka- quenchless energy. There is no work of ficble rapture. The most ordinary habits which tion which more rivets the attention-no tralink one season of life to another become the gedy which exhibits a struggle more sublime, awakeners of thoughts and of remembrances or sufferings more intense, than this; yet to " which do often lie too deep for tears." The produce the effect, no complicated machinery nicest disturbances of the imagination make is employed, but the springs of action are few the inmost fibres of the being quiver with ago- and simple. The motives are at once common nies. Passions which have not usually been and elevated, and are purely intellectual, withthought worthy to agitate the soul, now first out appearing for an instant inadequate to seem to have their own ardent beatings, and their mighty issues. Curiosity, for instance, their tumultuous joys. We seem capable of which generally seems a low and ignoble moa more vivid life than we have ever before felt tive for scrutinizing the secrets of a man's life, or dreamed of, and scarcely wonder that he here seizes with strange fascination on a genwho could thus give us a new sense of our tle and ingenuous spirit, and supplies it with own vitality, should have imagined that mind excitement as fervid, and snatches of delight might become omnipotent over matter, and as precious and as fearful, as those feelings that he was able, by an effort of the will, to create which we are accustomed to regard as become corporeally immortal!
alone worthy to enrapture or to agitate. The The intensity of passion which is manifested involuntary recurrence by Williams to the in the novels of Godwin is of a very different string of phrensy in the soul of one whom he kind from that which burns in the poems of a would die to serve—the workings of his tornoble bard, whom he has been sometimes er-tures on the heart of Falkland till they wring roneously supposed to resemble. The former confidence from him and the net thenceforth sets before us mightiest realities in clear vi- spread over the path of the youth like an invi. sion; the latter imbodies the phantoms of a sible spell by his agonized master, surprising as severish dream. The strength of Godwin is they are, arise from causes so natural and so adethe pure energy of unsophisticated nature ; that quate, that the imagination at once owns them of Lord Byron is the fury of disease. The as authentic. The mild beauty of Falkland's grandeur of the last is derived from its transi- natural character, contrasted with the guilt he toriness; that of the first from its eternal es has incurred, and his severe purpose to lead a sence. The emotion in the poet receives no long life of agony and crime, that his fame inconsiderable part of its force from its rebound may be preserved spotless, is affecting almost from the dark rocks and giant barriers which without example. There is a rude grandeur seem to confine its rage within narrow bound- even in the gigantic oppressor Tyrel, which all aries; the feeling of the novelist is in its own his disgusting enormities cannot destroy. Innatural current deep and resistless. The per- dependently of the master-spring of interest, sons of the bard feel intensely, because they there are in this novel individual passages soon shall feel no more; those of the novelist which can never be forgotten. Such are the glow, and kindle, and agonize, because they fearful flight of Emily with her ravisher-the shall never perish. In the works of both, guilt escape of Caleb Williams from prison, and his is often associated with sublime energy; but enthusiastic sensations on the recovery of his how dissimilar are the impressions which they freedom, though wounded and almost dying leave on the spirit! Lord Byron strangely without help—and the scenes of his peril blends the moral degradation with the intellec- among the robbers. Perhaps this work is the tual majesty : so that goodness appears tame, grandest ever constructed out of the simple eleand crime only is honoured and exalted. God- ments of humanity, without any extrinsic aid win, on the other hand, only teaches us bitterly from imagination, wit, or memory. to mourn the evil which has been cast on a In “St. Leon,” Mr. Godwin has sought the noble nature, and to regard the energy of the stores of the supernatural;-but the “ metaphycharacter not as inseparably linked with vice, sical aid” which he has condescended to acbut as destined ultimately to subdue it. He cept is not adapted to carry him farther from makes us everywhere feel that crime is not nature, but to ensure a more intimate and wide the native heritage, but the accident, of the communion with its mysteries. His hero does species, of which we are members. He im-' not acquire the philosopher's stone and the
elixir of immortality to furnish out for himself | hour; but it is ever the peculiar power of Mr
materials. There is, however, one scene in
Here his philosophic thought, subdued and This is a strange tale, but it tells like a true sweetened by the contemplation of mortality, one! When we first read it, it seemed as is breathed forth in the gentlest tone. His though it had itself the power of alchemy to “ Political Justice,” with all the extravagance steal into our veins, and render us capable of of its first edition, or with all the inconsistenresisting death and age. For a short-too cies of its last, is a noble work, replete with short! a space, all time seemed open to our lofty principle and thought, and often leading personal view-we felt no longer as of yes to the most striking results by a process of the terday; but the grandest parts of our know- severest reasoning. Man, indeed, cannot and Jedge of the past seemed mightiest recollec- ought not to act universally on its leading doctions of a far-off childhood.
trine that we should in all things seek only
the greatest amount of good without favour or “The wars we too remembered of King Nine, And old Assaracus, and Ibycus divine."
affection ; but it is at least better than the low
selfishness of the world. It breathes also a This was the happy extravagance of an mild and cheerful faith in the progressive ad
vances and the final perfection of the species. ness his success. To our minds, indeed, he It was this good hope for humanity which ex- sufficiently proves the falsehood of his advercited Mr. Malthus to affirm, that there is in the sary's doctrines by his own intellectual characconstitution of man's nature a perpetual barrier ter. His works are, in themselves, evidences to any extensive improvement in his earthly that there is power and energy in man which condition. After a long interval, Mr. Godwin have never yet been fully brought into action, has announced a reply to this popular system, and which were not given to the species in a system which reduces man to an animal, vain. He has lived himself in the soft and governed by blind instinct, and destitute of rea- mild light of those peaceful years, which he son, sentiment, imagination, and hope, whose believes shall hereafter bless the world, when most mysterious instincts are matter of calcu- force and selfishness shall disappear, and love lation to be estimated by rules of geometrical and joy shall be the unerring lights of the series !—Most earnestly do we desire to wit- l species.
[New MONTHLY MAGAZINE.]
The author of Montorio and of Bertram is | twine with the heart-strings, and which keep unquestionably a person gifted with no ordi- their bold until the golden chords of our sensinary powers. He has a quick sensibility—a bility and imagination themselves are broken. penetrating and intuitive acuteness and an They pass by us sometimes like gorgeous unrivalled vigour and felicity of language, phantoms, sometimes like “horrible shadows which enable him at one time to attain the and unreal mockeries," which seem to elude happiest condensation of thought, and at us because they are not of us. When we folothers to pour forth a stream of eloquence, rich, low him closest
, he introduces us into a region flowing, and deep, checkered with images of where all is unsatisfactory and unreal-the delicate loveliness, or darkened by broad sha-chaos of principles, fancies, and passionsdows cast from objects of stern and adaman. where mightiest elements are yet floating withtine majesty. Yet, in common with many out order, where appearances between subother potent spirits of the present time, he fails stance and shadow perpetually harass us, to excite within us any pure and lasting sym- where visionary forms beckon us through pathy. We do not, on reading his works, feel painful avenues, and, on approach, sink into that we have entered on a precious and im- despicable realities; and pillars which looked perishable treasure. They dazzle, they delight, ponderous and immovable at a distance, melt they surprise, and they weary us—we lay them at the touch into air, and are found to be only down with a vague admiration for the author, masses of vapour and of cloud. He neither and try to shake off their influence as we do raises us to the skies, nor “brings his angels the impressions of a feverish dream. It is not down,” but astonishes by a phantasmagoria of thus that we receive the productions of genu- strange appearances, sometimes scarcely disine and holy bards--of Shakspeare, of Milton, tinguishable in member, joint, or limb, but of Spenser, or of Wordsworth-whose far- which, when most clearly defined, come not reaching imaginations come home to our near us, nor claim kindred by a warm and hearts, who become the companions of our living touch. This chill remoteness from husweetest moods, and with whom we long to manity is attended by a general want of har
up our everlasting rest.” Their creations mony and proportion in the whole-by a wild are often nearest to our hearts when they are excursiveness of sensibility and thoughtfarthest removed from the actual experience which add to its ungenial influence, and may of our lives. We travel on the bright tracks be traced to the same causes. which their genius reveals to us as safely and If we were disposed to refer these defects to with as sure and fond a tread as along the one general source, we should attribute them broad highway of the world. When the re- to the want of an imagination proportionate to gions which they set before us are the most sensibility and to mastery of language in the distant from our ordinary perceptions, we yet writer's mind, or to his comparative neglect of
at home in them, their wonders are that most divine of human faculties. It is edi. strangely familiar to us, and the scene, over- fying to observe how completely the nature of spread with a consecrating and lovely lustre, this power is mistaken by many who profess breaks on us, not as a wild fantastic novelty, to decide on matters of taste. They regard it but as a revived recollection of some holier as something wild and irregular, the reverse life, which the soul rejoices thus delightfully lo of truth, nature, and reason, which is divided recognise.
from insanity only by “a thin partition,” Not thus do the works of Mr. Maturin-ori- and which, uncontrolled by sterner powers, ginal and surprising as they often are-affect forms the essence of madness. They think it us. They have no fibres in them which en-labounds in speeches crowded with tawdry and
superfluous epithets—in the discourses of Dr. and moral beauty—that imagination really puts Chalmers, because they deal so largely in in- forth its divine energies. We do not charge finite obscurities that there is no room for a on Mr. Maturin that he is destitute of power single image--and in the poems of Lord Byron, to do this, or that he does not sometimes direct because his characters are so unlike all beings it to its purest uses. But his sensibility is so which have ever existed. Far otherwise thought much more quick and subtle than his authority Spencer when he represented the laurel as the over his impressions is complete ; the flow of meed-not of poets insane-but“ of poets his words so much more copious and facile sage.” True imagination is, indeed, the deep than the throng of images on his mind; that eye of the profoundest wisdom. It is opposed he too often confounds us with unnumbered to reason, not in its results, but in its process; snatches and imperfect gleams of beauty, or it does not demonstrate truth only because it astonishes us by an outpouring of eloquent sees it. There are vast and eternal realities bombast, instead of enriching our souls with in our nature, which reason proves to exist distinct and vivid conceptions. Like many which sensibility “feels after and finds”-and other writers of the present time-especially which imagination beholds in clear and solemn of his own country-he does not wait until vision, and pictures with a force and vividness the stream which young enthusiasm sets loose which assures their existence even to ungifted shall work itself clear, and calmly reflect the mortals. Its subjects are the true, the univer- highest. heavens. His creations bear any sal, and the lasting. Its distinguishing pro- stamp but that of truth and soberness. He perty has no relation to dimness, or indistinct- sees the glories of the external world, and the ness, or dazzling radiance, or turbulent, con- mightier wonders of man's moral and intelfusedness, but is the power of setting all things lectual nature, with a quick sense, and feels in the clearest light, and bringing them into them with an exquisite sympathy-but he perfect harmony. Like the telescope it does gazes on them in a very drunkenness of heart,” not only magnify celestial objects, but brings and becomes giddy with his own indistinct them nearer to us. of all the faculties it is emotions, till all things seem confounded in a the severest and the most unerring. Reason gay bacchanalian dance, and assume strange may beguile with splendid sophistry; sensibi- fantastic combinations; which, when translity may fatally misguide; but if imagination ferred to his works, startle for a moment, but exists at all, it must exhibit only the real. A do not produce that “sober certainty of waking mirror can no more reflect an object which is bliss" which real imagination assures. There not before it, than the imagination can show are two qualities necessary to form a truly the false and the baseless. By revealing to us imaginative writer—a quicker and an intenser its results in the language of imagery, it gives feeling than ordinary men possess for the beauto them almost the evidence of the senses. If tiful and the sublime, and the calm and medithe analogy between an idea and its physical tative power of regulating, combining, and arexponent is not complete, there is no effort ranging its own impressions, and of distinctly of imagination-if it is, the truth is seen, and bodying forth the final results of this harmofelt, and enjoyed, like the colours and forms nizing process. Where the first of these proof the material universe. And this effect is perties exists, the last is, perhaps, attainable produced not only with the greatest possible by that deep and careful study which is more certainty, but in the fewest possible words. necessary to a poet than to any artist who Yet even when this is done-when the illus- works in mere earthly materials. But this tration is not only the most enchanting, but study many of the most gifted of modern the most convincing of proofs—the writer is writers unhappily disdain; and if mere sale too often contempluously depreciated as flowery, and popularity are their objects, they are right; by the advocates of mere reason. Strange for, in the multitude, the wild, the disjointed, the chance! that he who has imbodied truth in a incoherent, and the paradoxical, which are but living image, and thus rendered it visible to for a moment, necessarily awaken more immethe intellectual perceptions, should be con. diate sensation than the pure and harmonious, founded with those who conceal all sense and which are destined to last while nature and meaning beneath mere verbiage and fragments the soul shall endure. of disjointed metaphor!
It is easy to perceive how it is that the imThus the products of genuine imagination perfect creations of men of sensibility and of are “all compact.” It is, indeed, only the eloquence strike and dazzle more at the first, compactness and harmony of its pictures than the completest works of truly imaginative which give to it its name or its value. To poets. A perfect stalue-a temple fashioned discover that there are mighty elements in with exactest art-appear less, at a mere humanity—to observe that there are bright glance, from the nicely of their proportions. hues and graceful forms in the external world The vast majority of readers, in an age like -and 10 know the fitting names of these-is ours, have neither leisure nor taste to seek and all which is required to furnish out a rich stock ponder over the effusions of holiest genius. of spurious imagination to one who aspires to They must be awakened into admiration by the claim of a wild and irregular genius. For something new and strange and surprising; him a dictionary is a sufficient guide to Par. and the more remote from their daily thoughts nassus. It is only by representing those in- and habits—the more fantastical and daringtellectual elements in their finest harmony-by the effort, the more will it please, because the combining those hues and forms in the fairest more it will rouse them. Thus a man who pictures-or by making the glorious coinbina- will exhibit some impossible combination of Lions of external things the symbols of truth heroism and meanness—of virtue and of vice