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arisen in a time of need; and no candid man, without giving the author credit for talent and virtue in a very considerable degree.
We have little doubt that a short time will blow away the clouds which envy or prejudice have raised about him, and that the usefulness of his labours will become manifest by inculcating a more energetic style of preaching than has of late been customary even among men whose piety and worth are beyond all doubt.
DON JUAN, CANTOS VI. VII. VIII.
THERE are few parts of the duty of critics so painful as that which compels them to mark the aberrations and failures of men whose genius is unquestionable, and whose powers, if properly directed, would be as far removed from error as truth is from falsehood. Lord Byron, after having achieved a rapid and glorious fame, has, by the publication of three additional Cantos of Don Juan, not only disgusted every well-regulated mind, and afflicted all who respected him for his extraordinary talents, but has degraded his personal character lower than even his enemies (of whom he has many) could have wished to see it reduced. So gratuitous, so melancholy, so despicable a prostitution of genius was never perhaps before witnessed. We do not propose to join in the common cry against every thing which may appear wrong to persons of contracted notions; we can pardon if we cannot apologize for the eccentricities of genius; but yet, much as we despise cant, we should despise ourselves still more if we did not express contempt and indignation for the heartless profligacy which marks the volume before us.
Licentious poetry is nothing new in the world; it has been written in our own times, and still more in the times which have preceded us. Confined as it is in its nature, the greatest height to which it can soar has already been often reached by very insignificant persons, and is perfectly well known. Lord Byron has not even gained the reputation of doing as much as his predecessors in this unworthy style; and, fond as he shows himself of it, he cannot write it more than ordinarily well. He has not only offended against decency and propriety, but he has displayed a plentiful lack of wit,' and most laborious efforts. We know that we ought to censure him, and we do so, but we cannot help pitying him still more.
The volume now before us is accompanied by a preface, written for no other purpose that we can guess but to show that the author. cannot write English prose, and that his heart is full of mean envy. It is malignant, impious, vulgar, and slip-slop: he abuses the late Lord Londonderry with a peevish and impotent rage. It may be true that the dead have no claim to consideration, but no one ever yet doubted that they are entitled to truth and fair play in the scanning of their actions; but neither of these does the statesman's character receive from the poet. He praises Mr. Canning with very bad taste, because he praises him at the expense of Lord Londonderry, and by means of a comparison with him. Now, whatever Mr. Canning's talents may be, (and our own opinion of them is at least as high as Lord Byron's,) we cannot but see that as a statesman his reputation is yet to be formed. Lord LondonVOL. 1. Aug. 1823, Br. Mag.
derry was a statesman—or nothing; what Mr. Canning is remains to be seen.
To proceed, however, with the poem: it opens with Juan's being conducted in women's clothes into the seraglio. In the first (sixth) canto there are one hundred and twenty stanzas, and nearly the whole of them are so offensive, so absurdly indecent, filled with such drunken, drivelling, old gentleman's after-dinner obscenity, that we must be spared the description of them. There are verses full of poetry, and among them are those in which is described the sleeping-room of the seraglio. These are quite beautiful, somewhat luxurious; but that fault may be pardoned and they would not be mischievous if they stood alone. The contrast which they present to the ribald stuff which disfigures the other parts of the volume is singular and striking:
'There was deep silence in the chamber: dim
And distant from each other burned the lights,
They should have walked there in their spriteliest trim,
And shewn themselves as Ghosts of better taste
Than haunting some old Ruin or wild Waste.
Many and beautiful lay those around,
Like flowers of different hue and clime and root,
With cost and care and warmth induced to shoot.
And fair brows gently drooping, as the fruit
Nods from the tree, was slumbering with soft breath
And smiling through her dream, as through a cloud
Her beauties seized the unconscious hour of night,
This is no bull, although it sounds so; for
'Twas night, but there were lamps, as hath been said.
A third's all pallid aspect offered more
The traits of sleeping Sorrow, and betrayed
Through the heaved breast the dream of some far shore
(As Night Dew, on a Cypress glittering, tinges
The black bough) tear-drops through her eyes' dark fringes.
A fourth as marble, statue-like and still,
Lay in a breathless, hushed, and stony sleep;
Or Lot's wife done in salt, or what you will;-
So pick and chuse-perhaps you'll be content
Gulbeyaz' passion at the disappointment she experiences from Juan's being carried into the seraglio, and her plot thus defeated, is power fully described, and somewhat in the vein of the author's earlier pro ductions:
So deep an anguish wrung Gulbeyaz' brow;
Her cheek turned ashes, ears rung, brain whirled round,
And the heart's dew of pain sprang fast and chilly
Although she was not of the fainting sort,
Baba thought she would faint, but there he erred-
When things beyond the common have occurred;—
What she could ne'er express-then how should I?
Stands on her tripod, agonized, and full
When all the heart-strings like wild horses pull
The heart asunder:-then, as more or less
Their speed abated or their strength grew dull,
And bowed her throbbing head o'er trembling knees.
A low, soft Ottoman), and black Despair
Stirred up and down her bosom like a billow,
Her head hung down, and her long hair in stooping
Oh that my words were colours! but their tints
May serve perhaps as outlines or slight hints.'
'She stopt, and raised her head to speak-but paused,
Then slackened it, which is the march most caused
A feeling in each footstep, as disclosed
By Sallust in his Catiline, who, chased
By all the Demons of all Passions, showed
The other two cantos are occupied with the details of the siege of Ismail, at which Juan and Johnson, whom our readers will recollect was Juan's companion in the fifth canto, are present on their escape from the seraglio, though how that escape is effected we are not in
formed. We were deterred, by reason of their profligacy, from making any longer extracts from the sixth canto; we must follow the same course in these two, though for a different reason that of their dulness. There are many attempts at humour, not one in ten of which tells. The following verses are happiest in the laugh (such as it is) upon the triteness of the English ones of Smith and Thomson:
'Then there were foreigners of much renown,
Of various nations, and all volunteers ;
A pleasant thing to young men at their years.
Three of the Smiths were Peters; but the best
And that his father was an honest blacksmith,
I've said all I know of a name that fills
Three lines of the dispatch in taking "Schmacksmith,"
He fell, immortal in a bulletin.
I wonder (although Mars no doubt's a God I
Because, though 1 am but a simple noddy,
I think one Shakespear puts the same thought in
The mouth of some one in his plays so doating,
Which many people pass for wits by quoting.
Then there were Frenchmen, gallant, young, and gay:
Their Gallic names upon a glorious day;
Of truth;-such truths are treason: they betray
Who name the French in English, save to show
How Peace should make John Bull the Frenchman's foe.'
And here we must break off; we feel that we should not amuse our readers by continuing to dissect the faults of this poem, and we are ourselves heartily sick of the task. The beauties with which it is thinly strewed give a sad air to the deformities which surround them; for the rest, bad English, bad rhymes, bad taste, spurious wit, and glaring obscenity, are the component parts of this monstrous offence against decorum and honesty-this opprobrium never to be removed from a once bright reputation.
SKETCHES IN BEDLAM.
THE publication of this volume is a circumstance which we regard with high satisfaction, because it will have the effect of drawing the general attention to a subject which, for the interests of humanity and decency, ought to be watched with the utmost vigilance. The lot of the wretched inmates of Bedlam is sufficiently distressing by the infliction of Providence: it is, perhaps, too natural for the persons who have the care of them to feel occasionally the irksomeness of their disgusting task; and it requires therefore all the stimulus of a close and rigorous inspection, and an unremitting observation by persons without the walls of the building, to ensure a proper discharge of the duty. The book of which it is now our business to treat professes to give some account of the persons confined in Bedlam. As we have no reason to doubt its veracity, we must confess that the relations it contains are highly interesting. Our chief objection is, that the author, whoever he may happen to be, treats with an unfeeling levity calamities which ought to excite very different sentiments, and is too much disposed to indulge mirth when the subject lies even 'too deep for tears.' This may, however, be pardoned: the writer is evidently an ignorant and a vulgar person, and only obeys the impulses of his own mind in scoffing or grinning, where solemnity and grief would better become him. His style is coarse and inflated, and so bad as to exempt him from all criticism. But, although we regret that this task should be performed by a person so unfit, we rejoice that it has been performed. The following very important extract from the Introduction will, we are sure, afford the highest satisfaction to every humane mind:
"Treatment of Patients.-The grand principle of this establishment is mildness; for it is now generally acknowledged that this mode of treating the maniac is much better calculated to restore reason than harshness or severity.
'No keeper has authority here to put a patient in confinement without first acquainting the superintendant, who inquires into the cir cumstances; and if it should appear to him necessary, the refractory person is put under restraint, which is invariably the mildest, and only kept so for a short time, unless it be absolutely necessary. Dr. Wright, whose vigilance is as unceasing as his mind is patient and humane, will allow no passionate confinement for trivial offences, being convinced that restraint, without urgent necessity, is injurious to the feelings and exciting to the irritation of patients, and considerably impedes their recovery. The good effects of this mild treatment have done wonders; for a refractory patient is frequently silenced and becomes tranquil at the mere threat of restraint; which if adopted for any trivial irregularity, he would become unhappy and mortified; besides, it would give him a practical specimen of prison discipline, which perhaps he knows only by name. They are generally confined, when refractory, to their own rooms for an hour or two, until they become cool and orderly. The name of the person, the nature of his offence, the length of his confinement, and the date, are regularly entered in a book kept for the purpose, which is read by the clerk to the next sub-committee of governors, who meet every Thursday,