Puslapio vaizdai

been so noble, should find it necessary perpetually to evade himself! Hence his writings abound, more than those of other authors, with lines and phrases which seem to concentrate all misery within them—with texts for misanthropes, and mottos for the mouths of suicides. "Years all winters"—what a gasp is that, and how characteristic of him to whose soul summer had not come, and spring had for ever faded! The charge of affectation has often been brought against Byron's proclamations of personal woe. But no one, we believe, was ever a constant and consistent hypocrite in such a matter as misery; and we think we can argue his sincerity, not merely from his personal declarations, but from this fact, that all the characters into whom he shoots his soul are unhappy. Tasso writhing in the dungeon, Dante prophecying evil, not to speak of his imaginary heroes, such as Conrad, Alp, the Giaour, and Childe Harold, betray in what direction ran the master current of his soul; and as the bells and bubbles upon the dark pool form an accurate measurement of its depth, so his mirth, in its wildness, recklessness, and utter want of genuine gaiety, tells saddest tales about the state of a heart which neither on earth nor heaven could find aught to cheer or comfort it.

Besides those intensely English qualities which we have enumerated as Byron's, there sprung out from him, and mainly through the spur of woe, a higher power than appeared originally to belong to his nature. After all his faculties seemed fully developed, and after critics and craniologists had formed their unalterable estimate of them, he began, as if miraculously, to grow into a loftier shape and stature, and compelled these same sapient judges, slowly and reluctantly, to amend their conclusions. In his "Cain," his "Heaven and Earth," and his "Vision of Judgment," he exhibited the highest form of the faculty divinethe true afflatus of the Bard. He seemed to rise consciously into his own region; and, certainly, for gloomy grandeur, and deep, desolate beauty, these productions surpass all the writings of the period. Now, for the first time, men saw the Pandemonian palace of his soul fully lit, and they trembled at its ghastly splendour; and yet, curious it is to remark that those were precisely the poems which the public at first received most coldly; and those who shouted applause when he issued the two first elegant, but comparatively shallow, cantos of "Childe Harold," which were the reflection of other minds, shrank from him when he displayed the terrible riches of his own.

We can only mention the materials on which Byron's genius fed-and, indeed, we must substitute the singular term-for his material was not manifold, but one: it was the history of his own heart that his genius reproduced in all his poems. His poetry was the mirror of himself.


"Hours of Idleness" was, in one respect, the hap-
piest hit he ever made: it was fortunate enough
to attract abuse from the highest critical autho-
rity in the empire, and thereby stirred his pride,
and effectually roused his faculties. It required
a scorching heat to hatch a Byron! In his "Eng-
lish Bards" he proved himself rather a pugilist
than a poet. It is the work of a man of Belial,
"flown with insolence and wine." His popular
productions were principally written when he was
still a favourite son of society, the idol of drawing-
rooms, and the admired, as well as observed, of
all observers. "Childe Harold" is a transcrip-
tion of the serious and publishable part of his
journal, as he travelled in Greece, Spain, and
Italy. "The Giaour" is a powerful half-length
picture of himself. "The Bride of Abydos" is a
tender and somewhat maudlin memory of Greece.
"The Corsair" was the work of one fierce fort-
night, and seems to have brought one period of
his life, as well as of his popularity, to a glitter-
ing point. In all this class of his poems we see
him rather revolving the memory of past, than
encountering the reality of present, misery. You
have pensive sentiment rather than quick and
fresh anguish. But his war with society was
now about to begin in right earnest; and in pro-
phetic anticipation of this, he wrote his “Pari-
sina" and his " Siege of Corinth." These were
the first great drops of the thunderstorm he was
soon to pour down upon the world; and in the
second of these, particularly, there is an electric
heat and a frenzied haste which proclaims a
troubled and distracted state of mind. In refer-
ring his medical advisers to it as a proof of his
mental sanity, he rather blundered; for although
it wants the incoherence, it has the fury, of mad-
ness. It is the most rapid and furious race he
ever ran to escape from his own shadow. Then
came his open breach with English society, his
separation from his lady, and his growling retreat
to his Italian den. But ere yet he plunged into
that pool, where the degradation of his genius,
and where its power were perfect, he must turn
round, and close in wilder, loftier measures the
sad song of "Childe Harold," which in life's
summer he had begun; and strange it was to
mark, in those two last cantos, not only their
deepened power and earnestness, but their multi-
plied sorrow. He seemed to have gone away to
Addison's "Mountain of Miseries," and exchanged
one burden for a worse-sorrow for despair. He
had fallen so low, that suicide had lost its charms;
and when one falls beneath the suicide point, his
misery is perfect; for his quarrel then is not with
life but with being. Yet how horribly beautiful
his conversation with the dust of empires-with
the gigantic skeleton of Rome-with the ocean,
which meets him like that simulacrum of the sea
which haunted the madness of Caligula―with all
the mighty miserable in the past-with those
spirits which he summons from the "vasty deep”
-or with those ill-favoured ones

In considering, fourthly, the more characteristic of his works, we may divide them into his juvenile productions, his popular, and his proscribed works. His juvenile productions testified to nothing but the power of his passions, the strength of his ambition, and the uncertainty of his aims. His IIe speaks to them as their equal and kindred

"Who walk the shadow of the Vale of Death.”

spirit. “Hell from beneath is moved to meet him at his coming: they speak, and say unto him, Art thou become like unto us?" As another potentate, do those "Anarchs old"-Orcus, Hades, and the "dreaded name of Demogorgon" -admit him into their chaotick company, and make him free of the privileges of their dreary realm.

Having thus taken a last proud farewell of society, with all its forms and conventionalities, he turned him to the task of pouring out his envenomed and disappointed spirit in works which society was as certain to proscribe as it was to peruse; and there followed that marvellous series of poems to which we have already referred as his most peculiar and powerful productions-most powerful, because most sincere, And yet the public proved how false and worthless its former estimate of Byron's genius had been, by denouncing those, his best doings, not merely for their wickedness, but for their artistic execution. It is humiliating to revert to the reviews and newspapers of that period, and to read the language in which they speak of " Cain," "Sardanapalus," and the "Vision of Judgment," uniformly treating them as miserable fallings-off from his former self-beneath even the standard of his "English Bards and Scotch Reviewers." "Cain" we regard not only as Byron's noblest production, but as one of the finest poems in this or any language. It is such a work as Milton, had he been miserable, would have written. There is nothing in "Paradise Lost" superior to Cain's flight with Lucifer through the stars, and nothing in Shakspeare superior to his conversations with his wife Adah.

life-long struggle, and one which, like men who fight their battles o'er again in sleep, he renewed again and again in every dream of his imagination.

"The Vision of Judgment," unquestionably the best abused, is also one of the best, and by no means the most profane, of his productions. It sprung from the savage disgust produced in his mind by Southey's "double distilled" cant, in that poem of his on the death of George the Third-which reversing the usual case, now lives suspended by a tow-line from its caricature. All other hatred that of Johnson-that of Burkethat of Juvenal-that of all, save Junius-is tame and maudlin compared to the wrath of Byron expressed in this poem. Scorn often has the effect of cooling and carrying off rage--but here "the ground burns frore and cold performs the effect of fire." His very contempt is molten; his tears of laughter, as well as of misery, fall in burning showers. In what single lines has he concentrated the mingled essence of the coolest contempt, and the hottest indignation!

"A better farmer ne'er brushed dew from lawn. A worse king never left a realm undone."

"When the gorgeous coffin was laid low, It seemed the mockery of hell to fold The rottenness of eighty years in gold."

"Passion!' replied the phantom dim, 'I loved my country and I hated him.'"' There spoke the authentic shade of Junius, or at least, a spirit worthy of contending with him for the honour of being the "Best Hater" upon record.

And yet, mixed with the strokes of ribaldry, are touches of a grandeur which he has rarely, elsewhere, approached. His poetry always rises above itself, when painting the faded splendour wan-the stedfast gloom-the hapless magnanimity of the Prince of Darkness. With perfect ease he seems to enter into the soul, and fill up the measure and stature of the awful personage.

We speak simply of its merits as a work of art-its object is worthy of all condemnation: that is, to paint a more soured and savage Manfred, engaged in a controversy, not merely with himself, but with the system of which he is one diseased and desperate member; in the unequal strife overwhelmed, and, as if the crush of Omnipotence were not enough, bringing down after It were unpardonable, even in a rapid review, him, in his fall, the weight of a brother's blood; to omit all notice of "Don Juan," which, if it and the object of the fable is not, as it ought to bring our notion of the man to its lowest pointhave been, to show the madness of all selfish exalts our idea of the Poet. Its great charm is struggle against the laws of the universe, but to its conversational ease. How coolly, and calmly, more than intimate the poet's belief, that the laws he bestrides his Pegasus even when he is at the which occasion such a struggle are cruel and un- gallop. With what exquisitely quiet and quick just. There is an unfair distribution of misery transitions does he pass from humour to pathos, and guilt in the story. The misery principally and make you laugh and cry at once as you do accrues to Cain; but a large proportion of the in dreams. It is less a man writing, than a man guilt is caught, as by a whirlwind, and flies up in resigning his soul to his reader. To use Scott's the face of his Maker. The great crime of the beautiful figure-" the stanzas fall off as easily poem is not that its hero utters blasphemies, but as the leaves from the autumnal tree; you stand that you shut it with a doubt whether these blas-under a shower of withered gold." And in spite phemies be not true. Milton wrote his great poem to "justify the ways of God to man ;" Byron's object seems to be, to justify the ways of man to God-even his wildest and most desperate doings. The pleading is eloquent, but hopeless. It is the bubble on the ridge of the cataract praying not to be carried over and hurried on. Equally vain it is to struggle against those austere and awful laws, by which moments of sin expand into centuries of punishment. Yet this was Byron's own

of the endless touches of wit, the general impression is most melancholy; and not Rasselas, nor Timon, casts so deep a shadow on the thoughtful reader as the "very tragical mirth" of Don Juan.

In settling, lastly, his rank as a Poet, we may simply say, that he must stand, on the whole, beneath and apart from the first class of poets, such as Homer, Dante, Milton, Shakspeare, and Goethe. Often, indeed, he seems to rush into their company, and to stand among them, like a

daring boy amid his seniors, measuring himself proudly with their superior stature. And, possibly, had he lived, he might have ultimately taken his place amongst them, for it lay in him to have done this. But life was denied him. The wild steed of his passions-like his own " Mazeppa"carried him furiously into the wilderness, and dashed him down into premature death. And he now must take his place as one at the very head of the second rank of poets, and arrested when he was towering up toward the first.

His name has been frequently but injudiciously coupled with that of Shelley. This has arisen principally from their accidental position. They found themselves together one stormy night in the streets, having both been thrust out by the strong arm from their homes. One had been kicking up a row and kissing the serving-maids; the other had been trying to reform the family, but in so awkward a fashion, that in his haste he had put out all the lustres, and nearly blown up the establishment. In that cold, desolate, moonless night, they chanced to meet they entered into conversation-they even tried, by drawing near each other, to administer a little kindly warmth and encouragement. Men seeing them imperfectly in the lamp-light, classed them together as two dissolute and disorderly blackguards. And, alas, when the morning came that might have accurately discriminated them, both were found lying dead in the streets. In point of purpose temperament-tendency of intellect-poetical

ing day. It was the grandest moment in our lives. We had stood upon many hills-in sunshine and in shade, in mist and in thunder—but never had before, nor hope to have again, such a feeling of the grandeur of this lower universesuch a sense of horrible sublimity. Nay, we question if there be a mountain in the empire, which, though seen in similar circumstances, could awaken the same emotions in our minds. It is not its loftiness, though that be great-nor its bold outline, nor its savage loneliness, nor its mistloving precipices, but the associations which crown its crags with a "peculiar diadem”—its identification with the image of a poet, who, amid all his fearful errors, had perhaps more than any of the age's Bards, the power of investing all his career-yea, to every corner which his fierce foot ever touched, or which his genius ever sung-with profound and melancholy interest. We saw the name Byron written in the cloud-characters above us. We saw his genius sadly smiling in those gleams of stray sunshine which gilded the darkness they could not dispel. We found an emblem of his poetry in that flying rack, and of his character in those lowering precipices. We seemed to hear the wail of his restless spirit in the wild sob of the wind, fainting and struggling up under its burden of darkness. Nay, we could fancy that this hill was designed as an eternal monument to his name, and to image all those peculiarities which make that name for ever illustrious. Not the loftiest of his country's poets, he is the most sharply and terribly defined. In magnitude and round completeness, he yields to many, in jagged, abrupt, and passionate projection of his own shadow, over the world of literature, to none. The genius of convulsion, a dire attraction, dwells around him, which leads many to hang over, and some to leap down his precipices. Volcanic as he is, the coldness of wintry selfishness too often We remember a pilgrimage we made some years collects in the hollows of his verse. He loves to ago to Lochnagar. As we ascended, a mist came the cloud and the thick darkness, and comes "veildown over the hill, like a veil dropped by some ing all the lightnings of his song in sorrow." So, jealous beauty over her own fair face. At length like Byron beside Scott and Wordsworth, oes the summit was reached, though the prospect was Lochnagar stand in the presence of his neighbour denied us. It was a proud and thrilling moment. giants, Ben-mac-Dhui, and Ben-y-boord, less What though darkness was all around? lofty, but more fiercely eloquent in its jagged outwas the very atmosphere that suited the scene. line, reminding us of the via of the forked lightIt was "dark Lochnagar." And only thinkning, which it seems dumbly to mimic, projecting how fine it was to climb up and clasp its cairnto lift a stone from it, to be in after-time a memorial of our journey to sing the song which made it terrible and dear, in its own proud drawingroom, with those great fog-curtains floating around -to pass along the brink of its precipices-to snatch a fearful joy, as we leant over, and hung down, and saw from beneath the gleam of eternal snow shining up from its hollows, and columns, or rather perpendicular seas of mist, streaming up upon the wind

creed-feelings-sentiments-habits-and character, no two men could be more dissimilar. And the conjunction of their names is almost as incongruous, as though we should, in comparison, not in contrast, speak of Douglas Jerrold and Baptist Noel-Father Matthew and Professor Wilson -Thomas Carlyle and Andrew Marshall of Kirkintilloch-Dr. Brunton and Dr. John Ritchie.


"Like foam from the roused ocean of deep hell, Where every wave breaks on a living shore, Heaped with the damned, like pebbles-" tinged, too, here and there, on their tops, by gleams of sunshine, the farewell beams of the dy

its cliffs like quenched batteries against earth and heaven, with the cold of snow in its heart, and with a coronet of mist round its gloomy brow.

No poet, since Homer and Ida, has thus, everlastingly, shot his genius into the heart of one great mountain, identifying himself and his song with it. Not Horace with Soracte-not Wordsworth with Helvellyn-not Coleridge with Mont Blanc

not Wilson with the Black Mount-not even Scott with the Eildons-all these are still common property, but Lochnagar is Byron's own-no poet will ever venture to sing it again. In its dread circle none durst walk but he. His allusions to it are not numerous, but its peaks stood often before his eye a recollection of its grandeur served more to colour his line, than the glaciers of the Alps, the cliffs of Jura, or the thunder hills of fear, which

he heard in Chimari; even from the mountains of | tunities? And who, in Pollok's powerful but gloomy Greece he was carried back to Morven and

"Lochnagar, with Ida, looked o'er Troy." Hence the severe Dante-like, monumental, mountainous cast of his better poetry; for we firmly believe that the scenery of one's youth gives a permanent bias and colouring to the genius, the taste, and the style, i. e., if there be an intellect to receive an impulse, or a taste to catch a tone. Many, it is true, bred in cities, or amid common scenery, make up for the lack by early travel; so did Milton, Coleridge, Wilson, &c. But who may not gather, from the tame tone of Cowper's landscapes, that he had never enjoyed such oppor

poem, may not detect the raven hue which a sterile moorland scenery had left upon his mind? Has not, again, the glad landscape of the Howe of the Mearns, and the prospect from the surmounting Hill of Garvock, left a pleasing trace upon the mild pages of Beattie's Minstrel? Did not Coila colour the genial soul of its poet? Has not the scenery of " mine own romantic town" made much of the prose and poetry of Sir Walter Scott what it is? So, is it mere fancy which traces the stream of Byron's poetry in its light and its darkness, its bitterness and its brilliance, to this smitten rock in the wilderness-to the cliffs of Lochnagar?

THE TWEED-Continued.


Or all the burghs in Scotland, we know of no one, possessing a character and an appearance so entirely and exclusively its own, as Peebles. Altogether different from the majority of such towns, that generally look like paltry portions of the suburbs of the capital which have rambled forth into the country, Peebles has a certain indescribable air of rurality hanging over it, which is quite refreshing to the poor wight who may escape thither, for a brief space, after having been long "in populous city pent." It is impossible for a brother of the angle to approach it, without thinking of the rod and reel and wicker basket; and yet we are not quite sure that many very great angling feats have been accomplished here, except by the famous Piper of Peebles, mentioned by Sir Walter Scott; yet it certainly possesses all the apparent advantages that an angler could desire. We have always been filled with the idea, that a certain innocent simplicity seems to hover over it, the purity of which is not impaired by any considerable spirit of manufacture; whilst at the same time, no shadow of rusticity seems to fall upon it but on the contrary, the ghost of the aristocratic taste and manners of the Vieille Court, seems to stalk | along its thinly peopled streets, and to loiter about its quaint looking houses and gardens, and the frequent Gothic ruins of its religious edifices, as if the embodied influences which descended on it in those ages long gone by, when our kings delighted to sojourn here, were still pleased sadly to wander about among the scenes of its former merriment and festivity.

The approach to Peebles from the north, or Edinburgh direction, becomes very pretty, as the road falls into, and runs down the glen of the Athelstoun or Eddlestone Water, an important tributary of the Tweed, as it is, itself, fed by a great many small streams. There are a good many pretty residences along its banks, and cultivation and planting have been carried to a great extent. Among these may be mentioned Portmore, Harcus, Darnhall, Cringletie, Chapelhill, Rosetta, Venlaw.

Of these, perhaps, the most interesting of the whole, will be found to be that of Dearn or Darnhall, built some time previous to the year 1715 by Sir Alexander Murray of Blackbarony, Baronet. This Sir Alexander was a character of great magnificence. The site of the old house is on the slope of a narrow ravine, with its side to the rill at the bottom. A grand avenue of limes and pines led from the village of Athelstone up to the mansion, its upper extremity being cut out of the bank. But alas! the mound with most of the limes and pines are now gone.

The magnificence of Sir Alexander, who was the last of that line of the Murrays of Blackbarony, was not to be matched. He had travelled much abroad, and, especially, he had been for some time at the Court of Lisbon; and so it was, that he felt a desire to give to his countrymen some taste of the grandeur which he had witnessed in foreign parts, and accordingly, when he had to give an entertainment, he, in addition to his own servants, collected together all his tenants and villagers, whose services he could command, and putting them into suits of livery which he kept for the purpose, and having well drilled them to hold up their heads and to look big, he planted them in two rows, one on each side of the avenue, all the way from the public road of the village of Athelstone to the door of the mansion, the back of each man being placed opposite to the trunk of a lime or a pine-tree so that, in the event of rain falling, their clothes should be in some degree saved from the wet, by the overhanging foliage. There these figures stood stiff and motionless and silent, inspiring awe into the hearts of the astounded guests who approached the house between them. On their arrival, they were ushered, by the real domestics of the Baronet's establishment, into the drawing-room, and after a sufficient time had elapsed for the whole company to assemble, a strange, scraping, shuffling sort of noise was heard from the passage, which grew louder as it advanced, until the door was thrown open, and the great Blackbarony himself entered the apart


ment, dressed out with all the grandeur of a sovereign Prince, and rubbing and shuffling his feet on the floor as he proceeded up the room, much to the astonishment of his guests, who could in no way account for a mode of walking which had neither elegance nor dignity in it. length, however, it came out, that the then King of Portugal was afflicted with a weakness in his legs, which disabled him from raising his feet from the ground, and compelled him to shuffle along the floor in this way; and, that Sir Alexander had adopted this practice, to show his Courtly manners, and his intimacy with the Portuguese Monarch.-This water of Eddlestone has in its vicinity many remains of ancient camps, as well as of Druidical worship. The old castle of Shieldgreen at the head of the Soonhope-Burn, to the eastward of Winkstone, is a lofty ruin of a place, which seems to have been of some consideration in the olden time. Heathpool was an ancient property of the Lauder family.

As it approaches the Tweed, the Athelstone divides the town of Peebles into two parts.The valley of the Tweed here expands into a large and fertile plain, where the agriculture is excellent, the hedges trimly kept, and where young, thriving, and well-grown plantations are rising in all directions, especially on the slopes and declivities of the hills. The late father and brother of the present Sir Adam Hay, Bart., largely contributed to the enrichment and embellishment of the country in this way. This extensive stretch of plain, to the south, is conneeted with the town by a bridge of five arches, which is so ancient, that the history of its erection is altogether lost. The site of the town is remarkably healthy, and it is a good deal frequented by families of the better sort, for the education of their children.

But we have most delight in going back to its olden time, when, during many reigns, it was a favourite place of recreative retreat for our Scottish monarchs. Antiquaries have been so busy, that they seem to have upset the claim of our King James the 1st., to the authorship of the ancient poem, called "Peblis to the Play;" and if so, then " "Christis Kirk of the Grene," must necessarily go with it. And yet, the mere circumstance that the hospital of St. Leonard's, founded a little way down the Tweed, for infirm and indigent persons, was given, in 1427, by that monarch to his confessor, would seem to support the truth of the legend that the king was much attached to this place as a residence, as well as that he, well known to be a poet, was in reality the author of both the poems we have men


"At Beltane, quhen, ilk bodie bownis,

To Peblis to the Play;

To heir the singin and the soundis,

The solace, suth to say;

Be firth and forest furth the found;

Thay graythit tham full gay;

God wait that wald, thay do that stound, For it was their feist day,

thay said,

Of Peblis to the Play."

remarkable in its turn for its allusion to that of "Peblis to the play."

"W'es nevir in Scotland, hard nor sene

Sic dansing nor deray,

Nouthir at Falkland on the Grene,

Nor Pebillis at the Play,

As wes of wowaris, as I wene,

At Christis' Kirk on ane day:
Thair came our Kitties, weshen clene,
In thair new kirtillis of gray,
Full gay,

At Christis' Kirk of the Grene that day." On his return from his long imprisonment in England, James was struck with the great deficiency which his subjects exhibited, in comparison with the English, in the use of archery. He did every thing to amend this evil, by the publication of acts for the encouragement of its practice, by threatening penalties on the one hand, and offering prizes on the other, and calling ridicule to his aid, he is supposed to have written this poem, which may be considered throughout, as a satire upon the awkwardness of the Scottish peasantry in the management of the bow. A silver arrow was long shot for annually here, each winner having the right to attach his silver medal to it, recording his triumph. And this is still preserved in the possession of the Magistrates. Archery throve considerably under this patriotic monarch, but after his murder, in 1437, it again declined, and this the more so, owing to the discovery and use of gunpowder, and we find that his successor, James the II., in a statute in 1557, prohibited the amusements of golf and football, that these sports might not interfere with the practice of the hackbut, arquebuss, and matchlock, which were now substituted at the Waiponschawings, for the bow and arrow. We believe, however, that the Royal Company of archers of the Queen's Body Guard for Scotland, annually repair to Peebles,' to shoot for the prize. opposite side of the river, was the King's moor, where the ancient tournaments were held, and where the horse-races, and all the other games belonging to "Peblis to the Play," took place, and there the people were wont to be assembled down to a very late period, for the weaponschawings annually, in the months of June and October. An accurate account was taken of the appearance of each of the Barons, with the number of their followers, and the state of their horses and arms : and one of these documents, dated the 15th June, 1627, which is still preserved, is extremely curious; we give one entry only, as a sample of the rest, "Sir Archibald Murray, of Darnhall, well horsed, with a callet, accompanied with forty-two horsemen, with lances and swords, ten jacks and steel bonnetts, within the parishes of Kilbucko and Eddleston."

On the

In the 13th year of the reign of Alexander III., a very magnificent, ancient, stone cross, was dug up at Peebles; beside it were found the relics of a human body, contained within a shrine, and supposed to be those of St. Nicholas; and, in consequence of this discovery, the King built a stately Church, in honour of God and the Holy Cross. From this time downwards, the Sovereigns of

The poem of "Christis Kirk of the Grene," is Scotland, were all, more or less, in the habit of

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