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a poet so miserable a prose-writer. All his power over the language seems to leave him as soon as he steps out of the magic circle of verse. We see, by the announcement of his Translation of Tasso, that he purposes to inflict much historical matter upon the public: we beseech him to value his own fame better, and to confine himself to that task for which he is really well qualified-the dressing Tasso in a graceful English garb.

DON JUAN, CANTOS IX. X. XI.

WE mourn over Lord Byron's falling off from the high poetical destiny which once seemed to be assured to him as we should over the profligate apostacy of some dear friend, who had sacrificed to base lusts and sordid enjoyments all the hope and promise of his early fame. Lord Byron once stood with us in the light of a dear friend; possessing not the slightest personal knowledge of him, the manly, sensitive, and sometimes sublime strain of his poetry, induced us to believe that he would be an honour and an ornament to our national poesy, and a redeeming grace to that rank of society to which he belongs, and which has so little of intrinsic worth. Feeling thus, we looked upon each of the earlier sins which he committed as the aberrations of a genius which, for lack of sympathy, ran into thoughtless excess, and preferred being singular, or even reprehensible, to being tame. We invented excuses for his follies, and looked beyond his offences to the hope of the glorious amends which we thought he could not fail to make. How much the opinion which we had so fondly formed has been deceived may be imagined by every person of honest sentiment who has read his recent publications. It is as impossible to excuse them as it is to read them without disgust. Each step which he takes is more rash, more gratuitously absurd, more irretrievably profligate, and, which is still worse, more impotently malicious, than those which have preceded it.

The former cantos of Don Juan have been, in their several ways, bad enough-the first in indecency, and the latter in dulness. Those which have been ushered into public notice within a few days past are only remarkable for the union of these two qualities. The adventures of Don Juan, after the taking of Ismael, are continued: he is sent to Russia with the dispatches, which he presents to the Empress Catherine. That salacious monarch is taken with the charms of the youth, and he becomes one of her favorites. The whole of this intrigue is not luxurious-it is not like much writing of a similar subjects-it has not even so much refinement as Voltaire's prurient verse; it is merely gross and indecent. It presents none of the freshness of the passion, it breathes the love of brothels, its inspirations are of the stews, and the degraded poet revels in filth and infamy which is not only degrading but unmanly. We do not know so little, nor think so severely, of mankind in the present state of society, as to denounce, with the rigour which they perhaps merit, all the wild and vicious thoughts which may occupy even virtuors minds:

'Where's the place so sacred into which

Unholy things will not sometimes intrude?"

But what shall be said in palliation of the heart that can prompt, and

the hand which can display to public gaze, all those deformities which darkness and silence ought to hide, and which should be strangled in their very birth. We sicken of this topic, and proceed with the description of Juan's adventures. He falls sick, and, travel being recommended for him, the Empress resolves to send him on a diplomatic mission to England:

There was just then a kind of a discussion,

A sort of treaty or negotiation,

Between the British cabinet and Russian,
Maintained with all the due prevarication

With which great states such things are apt to push on;
Something about the Baltic's navigation,

Hides, train-oil, tallow, and the rights of Thetis,
Which Britons deem their "uti possidetis."

The little Leila, the child whom he saved in the eighth canto, accompanies him. The miserable author, who shows how ill he relishes his exile, which can hardly be called voluntary, by his splenetic rancour thus indulges his hate to England in verses the folly and falsehood of which will be so readily acknowledged by all who read them, that we should feel we were wasting our readers' time by adding one word on the subject. Speaking of the white cliffs, he says:

At length they rose, like a white wall along
The blue sea's border; and Don Juan felt-
What even young strangers feel a little strong
At the first sight of Albion's chalky belt―
A kind of pride that he should be among

Those haughty shop-keepers, who sternly dealt
Their goods and edicts out from pole to pole,
And made the very billows pay them toll.

I have no great cause to love that spot of earth,
Which holds what might have been the noblest nation;
But, though I owe it little but my birth,

I feel a mixed regret and veneration

For its decaying fame and former worth.

Seven years (the usual term of transportation)

Of absence, lay one's old resentments level,
When a man's country's going to the devil.

Alas! could She but fully, truly, know

How her great name is now throughout abhorred;

How eager all the earth is for the blow

Which shall lay bare her bosom to the sword;
How all the nations deem her their worst foe,

That worse than worst of foes, the once adored
False friend, who held out freedom to mankind,
And now would chain them, to the very mind;-

Would she be proud, or boast herself the free,
Who is but first of slaves? The nations are

In prison, but the jailor, what is he?

No less a victim to the bolt and bar.

Is the poor privilege to turn the key

Upon the captive, freedom? He's as far

From the enjoyment of the earth and air

Who watches o'er the chain, as they who wear.'

VOL. 1. Sept. 1823. Br. Mag.

2 Q

The noble (!) poet threatens in loud note to attack England and Englishmen; but this turns out to be merely brutum fulmen. Don Juan, upon his road to London, is attacked by footpads. In describing this rencontre, and in adopting the slang of London thieves, Lord Byron would fain imitate Moore, whose Cribb's Memorial to Congress' is the very triumph of slang: alas! he only rivals Pierce Egan

Don Juan, wrapt in contemplation,

6

Walked on hehind his carriage, o'er the summit,
And lost in wonder of so great a nation,

Gave way to 't, since he could not overcome it.
"And here," he cried, "is Freedom's chosen station;
Here peals the people's voice, nor can entomb it
Racks, prisons, inquisitions; resurrection
Awaits it, each new meeting or election

"Here are chaste wives, pure lives; here people pay
But what they please; and if that things be dear,
"Tis only that they love to throw away

Their cash, to show how much they have a-year.

Here laws are all inviolate; none lay

Traps for the traveller; every highway's clear:
Here" he was interrupted by a knife,

With,-"Damn your eyes! your money or your life !”—
These freeborn sounds proceeded from four pads
In ambush laid, who had perceived him loiter
Behind his carriage; and, like handy lads,

Had seized the lucky hour to reconnoitre,
In which the heedless gentleman who gads
Upon the road, unless he prove a fighter,
May find himself within that Isle of riches
Exposed to lose his life as well as breeches.

Juan, who did not understand a word

Of English, save their shibboleth, "God damn !”
And even that he had so rarely heard,

He sometimes thought 'twas only their "Salām,”
Or "God be with you!"-and 'tis not absurd

To think so: for half English as I am

(To my misfortune) never can I say

Ì heard them wish "God with you," save that way ;—

Juan yet quickly understood their gesture,
And being somewhat choleric and sudden,
Drew forth a pocket pistol from his vesture,
And fired it into one assailant's pudding-
Who fell, as rolls an ox o'er in his pasture,

And roared out, as he writhed his native mud in,
Unto his nearest follower or henchman,

"Oh Jack! I'm floor'd by that ere bloody Frenchman !”

On which Jack and his train set off at speed,

And Juan's suite, late scattered at a distance,

Came up, all marvelling at such a deed,
And offering, as usual, late assistance.

Juan, who saw the Moon's late minion bleed
As if his veins would pour out his existence,
Stood calling out for bandages and lint,

And wished he had been less hasty with his flint.

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Perhaps," thought he, "it is the country's wont
To welcome foreigners in this way: now
I recollect some innkeepers who don't

Differ, except in robbing with a bow,
In lieu of a bare blade and brazen front.

But what is to be done? I can't allow
The fellow to lie groaning on the road:
So take him up, I'll help you with the load."
But ere they could perform this pious duty,

The dying man cried, "Hold! I've got my gruel!
Oh! for a glass of max! We've missed our booty;
Let me die where I am!" And as the fuel
Of life shrunk in his heart, and thick and sooty

The drops fell from his death-wound, and he drew ill
His breath, he from his swelling throat untied

A kerchief, crying, "Give Sal that !"-and died.

And yet, with all the faults which disfigure it, this is one of the most poetical and most excellent parts of the volume which contains them. Can his worst enemies wish the author to be degraded to a more base condition?

He affects great scorn of the critics, by whom he has been so sorely and so justly mauled: he says, if he were at home, he would crush them why does he not, at least, make the attempt? Curs bark the loudest when the danger is most distant:

This is the literary lower Empire,

Where the Prætorian bands take up the matter;-
A dreadful trade," like his who "gathers samphire,"
The insolent soldiery to sooth and flatter,

With the same feelings as you'd coax a vampire.
Now, were I once at home, and in good satire,

I'd try conclusions with those Janizaries,
And show them what an intellectual war is.

I think I know a trick or two, would turn
Their flanks; but it is hardly worth my while
With such small gear to give myself concern :
Indeed I've not the necessary bile;

My natural temper's really aught but stern,
And even my Muse's worst reproof's a smile;
And then she drops a brief and modern curtsey,
And glides away, assured she never hurts ye.'

In England Don Juan is left, and we fear that we shall have a continuation of his adventures visited upon us. We hope, however, that Lord Byron will be induced to return to England, because then that protection which the Lord Chancellor, to use his own favorite phrase, threw around the Earl of Portsmouth,' whom the more mad poet helped to his wife, the daughter of their common attorney, may be also extended to this maniac versifier, who has so strangely fallen beside his five wits.' We wish we were his next heir, or even his next of kin it should go hard but that a writ de lunatico inquirendo should issue. In the mean time we leave him, praying for him, with the Cloun in Twelfth Night- Thy wits the heavens restore! endeavour thyself to sleep, and leave thy vain bibble-babble.'

300

THE FIRE-EATER.

THIS is a volume of very slender pretensions and some merit. It professes to be the manuscript of a romantic Scot full of enthusiasm, and with a taste for adventure very rare among his countrymen; and possessing, too, as good a heart as ever warmed the bosom of a North Briton; who served in the British army during the late war, and was quartered with his regiment at Cambray for some time after the restoration of the Bourbons.

The narrative begins with their march from Paris to their quarters at Cambray. The author, as well as his brother officers, find it a very difficult matter to tolerate their change of residence. The recollection of the pleasures which the gay metropolis afforded had only the effect of making their disgust for Cambray and its neighbourhood the more inveterate.

It would be a difficult matter to do justice to a story so complicated ́as this is by any attempt to describe it here. The plot arises from the circumstance of the Scot's becoming acquainted by accident, and in love by choice, during one of his rambles, with a pretty little French girl (Pauline), whom he afterwards finds betrothed to Duchesne, a man disaffected towards the Bourbons, and engaged in one of those numerous conspiracies which for so long a time, and perhaps to this moment, disturb a great many very weak heads in France. The author's gallantry and romantic folly lead him into many scrapes, quæ nunc præscribere longum est.'

Finding, as he does very soon, that he has no hopes of obtaining the hand of Pauline, his love for her is changed into a warm sentiment of friendship and interest in her fate, which he even extends to her husband (for he shortly becomes so), the gallant Duchesne.

The principal persons in the story are Pauline, Duchesne, the Seigneur, our Scot, his servant and countryman, Blue, and Larny, an Irishman, both the latter being in the author's regiment.

Duchesne is a brave and generous man, engaged in the same unhappy cause with the Seigneur, who turns traitor to his party, and is the means of bringing Duchesne to punishment. Pauline is an amiable, fearless, and beautiful girl, remarkable for her attachment to her husband, whose untimely fate turns her brain. Blue is an argumentative pertinacious Scot, who is as fond of reasoning as Larny, and every other Irishman, from the days of Brian Boroimhe, has been averse from it. The author of the narrative has many amiable points in his character, and, while his behaviour in the early part of the story gives us but a sorry opinion of his sense, his subsequent conduct confirms us in the admiration we from the beginning conceive of the goodness of his heart. As to the title of the book, it might of course as well be called any thing else as the 'Fire-Eater:' that happens to be the last disguise assumed by the unfortunate Duchesne before his final apprehension.

The story, however, is so clearly told, and the volume contains so much good writing, that we have no hesitation in recommending it to the perusal of our readers, nor fear of disappointing them in promising considerable amusement from its contents.

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