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spectacle, and where the least beating of the heart is audible in the depth of the stillness. His works endow the abstractions of life with more of real presence, and make us more intensely conscious of existence than any others with which we are acquainted. They give us a new feeling of the capacity of our nature for action or for suffering, make the currents of our blood mantle within us, and our bosoms heave with indistinct desires for the keenest excitements and the strangest perils. We feel as though we could live years in moments of energetic life, while we sympathize with his breathing characters. In things which before appeared indifferent, we discern sources of the fullest delight or of the most intense anguish. The healthful breathings of the common air seem instinct with an unspeakable rapture. The most ordinary habits which link one season of life to another become the awakeners of thoughts and of remembrances "which do often lie too deep for tears." The nicest disturbances of the imagination make the inmost fibres of the being quiver with ago nies. Passions which have not usually been thought worthy to agitate the soul, now first seem to have their own ardent beatings, and their tumultuous joys. We seem capable of a more vivid life than we have ever before felt or dreamed of, and scarcely wonder that he who could thus give us a new sense of our own vitality, should have imagined that mind might become omnipotent over matter, and that he was able, by an effort of the will, to become corporeally immortal!
presses us with the immortality of virtue; and while he leaves us painfully to regret the stains which the most gifted and energetic characters contract amidst the pollutions of time, he inspires us with hope that these shall pass away for ever. We drink in unshaken confidence the good and the true, which is ever of more value than hatred or contempt for the evil!
"Caleb Williams," the earliest, is also the most popular of our author's romances, not because his latter works have been less rich in sentiment and passion, but because they are, for the most part, confined to the development of single characters; while in this there is the opposition and death grapple of two beings, each endowed with poignant sensibilities and quenchless energy. There is no work of fiction which more rivets the attention-no tragedy which exhibits a struggle more sublime, or sufferings more intense, than this; yet to produce the effect, no complicated machinery is employed, but the springs of action are few and simple. The motives are at once common and elevated, and are purely intellectual, without appearing for an instant inadequate to their mighty issues. Curiosity, for instance, which generally seems a low and ignoble motive for scrutinizing the secrets of a man's life, here seizes with strange fascination on a gentle and ingenuous spirit, and supplies it with excitement as fervid, and snatches of delight as precious and as fearful, as those feelings create which we are accustomed to regard as alone worthy to enrapture or to agitate. The involuntary recurrence by Williams to the string of phrensy in the soul of one whom he would die to serve the workings of his tor
The intensity of passion which is manifested in the novels of Godwin is of a very different kind from that which burns in the poems of a noble 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 invision; the latter imbodies the phantoms of a sible spell by his agonized master, surprising as feverish 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 to mourn the evil which has been cast on a noble nature, and to regard the energy of the character not as inseparably linked with vice. but as destined ultimately to subdue it. He makes us everywhere feel that crime is not the native heritage, but the accident, of the species, of which we are members. He im
from imagination, wit, or memory.
In "St. Leon," Mr. Godwin has sought the stores of the supernatural;-but the "metaphysical aid" which he has condescended to accept is not adapted to carry him farther from nature, but to ensure a more intimate and wide communion with its mysteries. His hero does 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. a dainty solitude, where he may dwell, soothed Godwin to make us feel that there is something with the music of his own undying thoughts, within us which cannot perish! and rejoicing in his severance from his frail and transitory fellows. Apart from those among whom he moves, his yearnings for sympathy become more intense as it eludes him, and his perceptions of the mortal lot of his species become more vivid and more fond, as he looks on it from an intellectual eminence which is alike unassailable to death and to joy. Even in this work, where the author has to conduct a perpetual miracle, his exceeding earnestness makes it difficult to believe him a fabulist. Listen to his hero, as he expatiates in the first consciousness of his high prerogatives:
"Fleetwood" has less of our author's characteristic energy than any other of his works. The earlier parts of it, indeed, where the formation of the hero's character, in free rovings amidst the wildest of nature's scenery, is traced, have a deep beauty which reminds us of some of the holiest imaginations of Wordsworth. But when the author would follow him into the world-through the frolics of college, the dissipations of Paris, and the petty disquietudes of matrimonial life-we feel that he has condescended too far. He is no graceful trifler; he cannot work in these frail and low materials. There is, however, one scene in this novel most wild and fearful. This is where Fleetwood, who has long brooded in anguish over the idea of his wife's falsehood, keeps strange festival on his wedding-daywhen, having procured a waxen image of her whom he believes perfidious, and dressed a frightful figure in a uniform to represent her imagined paramour, he locks himself in an apartment with these horrid counterfeits, a supper of cold meats, and a barrel-organ, on which he plays the tunes often heard from the pair he believes guilty, till his silent agony gives place to delirium, he gazes around with glassy eyes, sees strange sights and dallies with frightful mockeries, and at last tears the dreadful spectacle to atoms, and is seized with furious madness. We do not remember, even in the works of our old dramatists, any thing of its kind comparable to this voluptuous fantasy of despair.
"I surveyed my limbs, all the joints and articulations of my frame, with curiosity and astonishment. What! exclaimed I, these limbs, his complicated but brittle frame shall last for ever! No disease shall attack it; no pain shall seize it; death shall withhold from it for ever his abhorred grasp! Perpetual vigour, perpetual activity, perpetual youth, shall take up their abode with me! Time shall generate in me no decay, shall not add a wrinkle to my brow, or convert a hair of my head to gray! This body was formed to die; this edifice to crumble into dust; the principles of corruption and mortality are mixed up in every atom of my frame. But for me the laws of nature are suspended, the eternal wheels of the universe roll backward; I am destined to be triumphant over Fate and Time! Months, years, cycles, centuries! To me these are but as indivisible moments. I shall never become old; I shall always be, as it were, in the porch "Mandeville" has all the power of its auand infancy of existence; no lapse of years thor's earliest writings; but its main subjectshall subtract any thing from my future dura- the development of an engrossing and maddention. I was born under Louis the Twelfth; ing hatred-is not one which can excite the life of Francis the First now threatens a human sympathy. There is, however, a bright speedy termination; he will be gathered to his relief to the gloom of the picture, in the angelic fathers, and Henry, his son, will succeed him. disposition of Clifford, and the sparkling loveBut what are princes, and kings, and genera-liness of Henrietta, who appears "full of life, tions of men to me! I shall become familiar with the rise and fall of empires; in a little while the very name of France, my country, will perish from off the face of the earth, and men will dispute about the situation of Paris, as they dispute about the site of ancient Nineveh, and Babylon, and Troy. Yet I shall still be young. I shall take my most distant posterity by the hand; I shall accompany them in their career; and, when they are worn out and exhausted, shall shut up the tomb over them, and set forward."
and splendour, and joy." All Mr. Godwin's female heroines have a certain airiness and radiance-a visionary grace, peculiar to them, which may at first surprise by their contrast to the robustness of his masculine creations. But it will perhaps be found that the more deeply man is conversant with the energies of his own heart, the more will he seek for opposite qualities in woman.
Of all Mr. Godwin's writings the choicest in point of style is a little essay "on Sepulchres." 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. 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 ledge 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 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
"The wars we too remembered of King Nine, And old Assaracus, and Ibycus divine."
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 adversary's doctrines by his own intellectual character. His works are, in themselves, evidences that there is power and energy in man which have never yet been fully brought into action, and which were not given to the species in vain. He has lived himself in the soft and mild light of those peaceful years, which he believes shall hereafter bless the world, when force and selfishness shall disappear, and love and joy shall be the unerring lights of the species.
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twine with the heart-strings, and which keep their hold until the golden chords of our sensi
They pass by us sometimes like gorgeous phantoms, sometimes like "horrible shadows and unreal mockeries," which seem to elude us because they are not of us. When we follow him closest, he introduces us into a region where all is unsatisfactory and unreal-the chaos of principles, fancies, and passionswhere mightiest elements are yet floating without order, where appearances between substance and shadow perpetually harass us, where visionary forms beckon us through painful avenues, and, on approach, sink into despicable realities; and pillars which looked ponderous and immovable at a distance, melt at the touch into air, and are found to be only masses of vapour and of cloud. He neither raises us to the skies, nor " brings his angels down," but astonishes by a phantasmagoria of strange appearances, sometimes scarcely distinguishable in member, joint, or limb, but which, when most clearly defined, come not near us, nor claim kindred by a warm and living touch. This chill remoteness from humanity is attended by a general want of harmony and proportion in the whole-by a wild excursiveness of sensibility and thoughtwhich add to its ungenial influence, and may be traced to the same causes.
THE author of Montorio and of Bertram is unquestionably a person gifted with no ordinary powers. He has a quick sensibility-ability and imagination themselves are broken. penetrating and intuitive acuteness-and an unrivalled vigour and felicity of language, which enable him at one time to attain the happiest condensation of thought, and at others to pour forth a stream of eloquence, rich, flowing, and deep, checkered with images of delicate loveliness, or darkened by broad shadows cast from objects of stern and adamantine majesty. Yet, in common with many other potent spirits of the present time, he fails to excite within us any pure and lasting sympathy. We do not, on reading his works, feel that we have entered on a precious and imperishable treasure. They dazzle, they delight, they surprise, and they weary us-we lay them down with a vague admiration for the author, and try to shake off their influence as we do the impressions of a feverish dream. It is not thus that we receive the productions of genuine and holy bards-of Shakspeare, of Milton, of Spenser, or of Wordsworth-whose farreaching imaginations come home to our hearts, who become the companions of our sweetest moods, and with whom we long to "set up our everlasting rest." Their creations are often nearest to our hearts when they are farthest removed from the actual experience of our lives. We travel on the bright tracks 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 distant from our ordinary perceptions, we yet seem at home in them, their wonders are strangely familiar to us, and the scene, overspread with a consecrating and lovely lustre, breaks on us, not as a wild fantastic novelty, but as a revived recollection of some holier life, which the soul rejoices thus delightfully to recognise.
Not thus do the works of Mr. Maturin-original and surprising as they often are-affect us. They have no fibres in them which en
sensibility and to mastery of language in the writer's mind, or to his comparative neglect of that most divine of human faculties. It is edifying to observe how completely the nature of this power is mistaken by many who profess to decide on matters of taste. They regard it as something wild and irregular, the reverse of truth, nature, and reason, which is divided from insanity only by "a thin partition," and which, uncontrolled by sterner powers, forms the essence of madness. They think it abounds 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 find"-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 "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 contemptuously depreciated as florery, 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!
Thus the products of genuine imagination are "all compact." It is, indeed, only the compactness and harmony of its pictures which give to it its name or its value. To discover that there are mighty elements in humanity to observe that there are bright hues and graceful forms in the external world -and to know the fitting names of these-is all which is required to furnish out a rich stock of spurious imagination to one who aspires to the claim of a wild and irregular genius. For him a dictionary is a sufficient guide to Parnassus. It is only by representing those intellectual elements in their finest harmony-by combining those hues and forms in the fairest pictures-or by making the glorious combinations of external things the symbols of truth
It is easy to perceive how it is that the im perfect creations of men of sensibility and of eloquence strike and dazzle more at the first, than the completest works of truly imaginative poets. A perfect statue-a temple fashioned with exactest art-appear less, at a mere glance, from the nicety of their proportions. The vast majority of readers, in an age like ours, have neither leisure nor taste to seek and ponder over the effusions of holiest genius. They must be awakened into admiration by something new and strange and surprising; and the more remote from their daily thoughts and habits-the more fantastical and daringthe effort, the more will it please, because the more it will rouse them. Thus a man who will exhibit some impossible combination of heroism and meanness-of virtue and of vice
of heavenly love and infernal malignity and in this story, a being whom we are long led baseness-will receive their wonder and their to believe is not of this world-who speaks praise. They call this POWER, which is in in the tones of the sepulchre, glides through reality the most pitiable weakness. It is be- the thickest walls, haunts two distant brothers cause a writer has not imagination enough to in their most secret retirements through exhibit in new forms the universal qualities their strange wanderings, leads one of his of nature and the soul, that he takes some victims to a scene which he believes inferstrange and horrible anomaly as his theme. | nal, and there terrifies him with sights of the Incompetent to the divine task of rendering wildest magic-and who after all this, and beauty "a simple product of the common day," he tries to excite emotion by disclosing the foulest recess of the foulest heart. As he strikes only one feeling, and that coarsely and ungently, he appears to wield a mightier weapon than he whose harmonious beauty sheds its influence equably over the whole of the sympathies. That which touches with strange commotion, and mere violence on the heart, but leaves no image there, seems to vulgar spirits more potent than the faculty which applies to it all perfect figures, and leaves them to sink gently into its fleshly tablets to remain there for ever. Yet, surely, that which merely shakes is not equal even in power to that which impresses. The wild disjointed part may be more amazing to a diseased perception than the well-compacted whole; but it is the nice balancing of properties, the soft blending of shades, and the all-pervading and reconciling light shed over the harmonious imagination, which take off the sense of rude strength that alone is discernible in its naked elements. Is there more of heavenly power in seizing from among the tumult of chaos and eternal night, strange and fearful abortions, or in brooding over the vast abyss, and making it pregnant with life and glory and joy? Is it the higher exercise of human faculties to represent the frightful discordances of passion, or to show the grandeurs of humanity in that majestic repose which is at once an anticipation and a proof of its eternal destiny? Is transitory vice-the mere accident of the species-and those vices too which are the rarest and most appalling of all its accidents-or that good which is its essence and which never can perish, fittest for the uses of the bard? Shall he desire to haunt the caves which lie lowest on the banks of Acheron, or the soft bowers watered by "Siloa's brook that lows fast by the oracle of God?"
Mr. Maturin gave decisive indications of a morbid sensibility and a passionate eloquence out-running his imaginative faculties, in the commencement of his literary career. His first romance, the "Family of Montorio," is one of the wildest and strangest of all "false creations proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain." It is for the most part a tissue of magnificent yet unappalling horrors. Its great faults as a work of amusement, are the long and unrelieved series of its gloomy and marvellous scenes, and the unsatisfactory explanation of them all, as arising from mere human agency. This last error he borrowed from Mrs. Ratcliffe, to whom he is far inferior in the economy of terrors, but whom he greatly transcends in the dark majesty of his style. As his events are far more wild and wondrous than hers, so his development is necessarily far more incredible and vexatious. There is,
after really vindicating to the fancy his claim to the supernatural by the fearful cast of his language-is discovered to be a low impostor, who has produced all by the aid of poor tricks and secret passages! Where is the policy of this? Unless, by his power, the author had given a credibility to magic through four-fifths of his work, it never could have excited any feeling but that of impatience or of scorn. And when we have surrendered ourselves willingly to his guidance-when we have agreed to believe impossibilities at his bidding why does he reward our credence with derision, and tacitly reproach us for not having detected his idle mockeries? After all, too, the reason is no more satisfied than the fancy; for it would be a thousand times easier to believe in the possibility of spiritual influences, than in a long chain of mean contrivances, no one of which could ever succeed. The first is but one wonder, and that one to which our nature has a strange leaning; the last are numberless, and have nothing to reconcile them to our thoughts. In submitting to the former, we contentedly lay aside our reasoning faculties; in approaching the latter our reason itself is appealed to at the moment when it is insulted. Great talent is, however, unquestionably exhibited in this singular story. A stern justice breathes solemnly through all the scenes in the devoted castle. "Fate sits on its dark battlements, and frowns." There is a spirit of deep philosophy in the tracing of the gradual influence of patricidal thoughts on the hearts of the brothers, which would finally exhibit the danger of dallying with evil fancies, if the subject were not removed so far from all ordinary temptations. Some of the scenes of horror, if they were not accumulated until they wear out their impression, would produce an effect inferior to none in the works of Ratcliffe or of Lewis. The scene in which Flippo escapes from the assassins, deserves to be ranked with the robber-scenes in the Monk and Count Fathom. The diction of the whole is rich and energetic-not, indeed, flowing in a calm beauty which may glide on for everbut impetuous as a mountain torrent, which, though it speedily passes away, leaves behind it no common spoils
"Depositing upon the silent shore
Of memory, images and gentle thoughts
Which cannot die, and will not be destroyed." "The Wild Irish Boy" is, on the whole, inferior to Montorio, though it served to give a farther glimpse into the vast extent of the author's resources. "The Milesian" is, perhaps, the most extraordinary of his romances. There is a bleak and misty grandeur about it, which, in spite of its glaring defects, sustains for it an abiding-place in the soul. Yet never, perhaps, was there a more unequal production