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with the key to his discordant imagery, in which the lion of one line often becomes the vessel of the next. From the same cause may have arisen the conceits that disfigure the loftiest strains of his eloquence, and the caricatures that excite our wonder in the corner of some of his sublimest pictures. But this error of taste and of habit was not so inveterate as to countenance the censurè of a French critic, whose familiarity with our language, added to his other acquirements, might lend some importance to the observation,-that it is difficult to find in the Night Thoughts five or six good lines in succession. Let the reader examine the following passage from the Second Night.

Ah! how unjust to nature and himself,

Is thoughtless, thankless, inconsistent man!
Like children babbling nonsense in their sports,
We censure nature for a span too short;
That span, too short, we tax as tedious too,-
Torture invention, all expedients tire

To lash the lingering moments into speed;
And whirl us (happy riddance) from ourselves.
Art! brainless art! Our furious charioteer

Drives headlong towards the precipice of Death;

Death, most our dread; Death, thus more dreadful made;
Oh! what a riddle of absurdity!

Leisure is pain; takes off our chariot wheels;
How heavily we drag the load of life!
Blessed Leisure is our curse; like that of Cain,
It makes us wander; wander earth around,
To fly the tyrant Thought. As Atlas groaned
The world beneath, we groan beneath an hour;
We cry for mercy to the next amusement,-
The next amusement mortgages our fields;
Slight inconvenience!

Yet when Death kindly tenders us relief

We call him cruel; years to moments shrink,
Ages to years. The telescope is turned;


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To man's false optics (from his folly false)Y BES

Time, in advance, behind him hides his wings,
And seems to creep decrepit with his age.
Behold him when past by; what then is seen,
But his broad pinions swifter than the winds!
All mankind in contradiction strong,

Rueful, aghast cry out on his career.

Here is a consecutive passage, two unimportant lines only being omitted, which for pregnancy of thought, and originality and weight of expression, may challenge the didactic poetry of any age. Some of the lines sparkle with the satire and bitterness of Pope, while the pictures of Man wandering round the world to escape the pursuing vengeance of Thought, and of Time rushing past with outstretched wings, approach the majestic outlines of Dante. As developed in Blake's illustrations, the last scene assumes a grotesque and Gothic sublimity. Nor is this the only instance where a resemblance may be traced to the solemn and severe spirit of the Florentine, Darkness brooding with its "raven wing," over Destiny in the Valley of Death; the magnificent description of Omnipotence" pavilioned high in darkness,”

Whose nod is Nature's birth,

And Nature's shield the shadow of his hand;

and the impressive description of night:
Creation sleeps; 'tis as the general pulse

Of life stood still, and nature made a pause;
An awful pause; prophetic of its end;

are all inspired by a spirit of equal dignity and power. The last lines, Mrs. Piozzi informs us that she once prevailed upon Johnson to prefer to similar descriptions in Dryden and Shakspeare; although, she adds, he qualified his applause by comparing such passages to steppingstones over a miry road. But the inquirer will not wander far without meeting one. The following apostrophe, from


the Ninth Night, combines the melancholy philosophy of Hamlet with the loftiest energy of epic invention:—

Lorenzo! such the glories of the world!

What is the world itself? Thy world,—a grave.
Where is the dust that hath not been alive?
The spade, the plough, disturb our ancestors;
From human mould we reap our daily bread.
The globe around earth's hollow surface shakes,
And is the ceiling of her sleeping sons,
O'er devastation we blind revels keep;
Whole buried towns support the dancer's heel.


Each element partakes our scattered spoils;
As nature wide, our ruins spread; man's death
Inhabits all things, but the thought of man,
Nor man alone; his breathing bust expires,
His tomb is mortal; empires die; where, now,
The Roman? Greek? They stalk, an empty name!
Yet few regard them in this useful light,

Though half our learning is their epitaph.

When down thy vale, unlocked by midnight thought,
That loves to wander in thy sunless realms,

O Death! I stretch my view; what visions rise!
What triumphs! toils imperial! arts divine!
In withered laurels glide before my sight!
What lengths of far-famed ages, billowed high
With human agitation, roll along

In unsubstantial images of air.



But, O Lorenzo! far the rest above,

Of ghastly nature, and enormous size,

One form assaults my sight, and chills my blood,
And shakes my frame. Of one departed world
I see the mighty shadow.

Night IX.

Young entertained very just ideas of poetic excellence, under all its various aspects. "A description," he said, "is exact, when you cannot add but what is common to another thing; nor withdraw, but something peculiarly

belonging to the thing described. A likeness is lost in too much description, as a meaning often in too much illustration*." He seems to have had this remark vividly in his memory when he composed the beautiful opening of the Ninth Night, which in pathos and grace of expression might be compared with Milton's allusion to his own blindness, in Paradise Lost

As when a traveller, a long day passed

In painful search of what he cannot find,
At night's approach, content with the next cot,
There ruminates awhile, his labour lost;

Then cheers his heart with what his fate affords,
And chants his sonnet to deceive the time,
Till the due season calls him to repose:
Thus I, long travelled in the ways of men,
And dancing, with the rest, the giddy maze,
Where Disappointment smiles at Hope's career;
Warned by the languor of life's evening ray,
At length have housed me in a humble shed;
Where, future wand'ring banished from my thought,
And waiting, patient, the sweet hour of rest,

I chase the moments with a serious song.

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Young's poetry is not sufficiently read to render an analysis of its characteristics an unnecessary labour. I may notice especially the condensed energy and expression of his single lines; they are stamped with a gnomic spirit, and have the air of Rochefoucald's maxims in verse. Such is the description of the human soul devoted to the world, to the exclusion of heavenly thoughts,—

Wasting her strength in strenuous idleness. Of the pomps and vanities of society,—

The glare of life that often blinds the wise. Of a weak and restless desire of change,Wishing, that constant hectic of a fool.

*Note upon the Paraphrase of Job.

Of a man dying in hardened ignorance of his own lost condition, and waking only to find that

Everlasting fool is writ in fire.

Of wisdom, unless employed as an instrument of piety and happiness,

A melancholy fool, without her bells.

Of prosperity,

When fortune thus has tost her child in air.

Of virtues,—

Those smaller faults, half converts to the right.

If he was deficient in any of the essential elements of poetry, it was in rural description, and that kind of fancy which passes under the name of the picturesque. The spirit of the age did not encourage those sweet colours of pastoral painting which delighted the heart of a preceding century. If Young gathered a flower from the fields, it soon faded in his hands. In the apostrophe to the 66 Queen lilies and the painted populace," he was evidently thinking of a conservatory at St. James's. Sometimes he flashes upon us with an unexpected brilliancy of decora tion, as in the picture of the angelic host overlooking human affairs:

Angels, whose radiant circles, height o'er height,
Order o'er order rising, blaze o'er blaze,

As in a theatre, surround this scene,
Intent on man, and anxious for his fate.

Night IX.

A modern critic complains that the Night Thoughts present nothing of entertaining succession; that the poem excites no anticipation as it proceeds. The universal judgment of criticism has determined that the great object of poetry is pleasure; nothing can be easier than the general proof of the proposition. But the union of plea

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