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the authority of Milton, Cowley, and Addison. Their opinion, however, he treats as paradoxical: let us hear his reason. “ If the attainment of Latin and Greek, is at all necessary, it is obvious that those languages cannot be acquired in perfection, but through the medium of the finest writers, as well in verse as in prose.” This reasoning is true ; but it maintains what, perhaps, no man but a fool would contradict. Lord Byron does not maintain that we can have a perfect acquaintance with the Greek and Latin writers without studying the classic poets. He merely maintains that we should not commence this study before we are capable of feeling and relishing their beauties, and that we should receive our elementary education from more common authors. For this assertion, his Lordship gives the best of all reasons ; that if we commence them too early, “ the taste is gone, and the appetite palled, when we are old enough to enjoy them.” This truth is confirmed by the experience of every one who consults his own feelings. Burke tells us, that he found more pleasure in Don Bellianis of Greece, when a youth, than he could derive in his riper years from the finest passages in the Æneid, which would not have been the case, had he never looked into it before he was prepared to feel and enjoy its beauties. As for Dean Vincent's “ Admirable Defence,” as our author calls it, his arguments have still less to do with Lord Byron's view of classic education than his own.“Childe Harold's Monitor" quotes the line,
“ Horace still charms with graceful negligence;"
as if Lord Byron denied the classic beauties of Horace. We should think it a waste of argument to shew that he was better acquainted with them than the Monitor, Dcan Vincent, or our anonymous author. He never denied them, and we cannot but think little of the comprehension of any writer who would infer, that he had denied them from the passage we have now quoted from him.
Another charge brought against his lordship is, that “ he despised academical honours, and treated with contempt the peculiar studies by which alone they might be procured.” We could not wish for a better proof of his lordship’s original powers of mind, and our author's ignorance of what constitutes real genius. A mind pregnant with ideas of its own cannot endure the drudgery of encumbering itself with those of others. Yet this is all that is necessary to procure academical honours. Whoever can best remember what others have written on the peculiar studies which lead to these honours, is sure of obtaining them ; so that academical honours are not the prize of genius, or original cudowments of mind, but of a retentive memory. All that a person who has obtained these honours can boast of is, consequently, that he knows what others have written, not that he knows any thing of his own. And those who can boast of nothing higher, must not presume to tread that holy ground which is consecrated to genius.
With his observations on “Childe Harold” we perfectly agrec, as well with regard to its faults as to its beauties. He says, that Harold is represented “ an unprincipled, impenitent profligate, contrary to all our conceptions of chivalry, without the least reason whatever been
assigned for making the character vicious instead of virtuous and honourable. Had the noble lord been writing a novel, he was at full liberty to have sketched out a monster of debauchery and profaneness in as dark colours as it was possible for the imagination to figure human villainy. But when, in undertaking a narrative of his own travels in foreign countries, the noble lord thought proper to clothe his remarks in a poetic dress, and to convey them as the observations of a fictitious character, he should have taken care to make that convenient personage a respectable and not an abandoned being.” His observations on the beauties of this poem are equally just, and the quotation which he gives of his personification of “ Battle,” stamping his foot on the rock overhanging the plains of Talavera, may be justly ranked among the sublimest passages in ancient or modern poetry. It reminds us of Collins's picture of danger.
« Lo! where the giant on the mountain stauds,
To shed before his shrine the blood be deems most sweet." His observations on “ The Corsair,” we do not think equally just. He cannot conceive, he says, how a heart of such sensibility as Medora possessed, should feel such intense anxiety for the fate of Conrad, whom she knew to be a dark, designing villain. He thinks his demoniacal qualities ought to have driven him
displays in refusing to kill Seyd Pacha while he was asleep, deeming it dishonourable to attack any man unarmed, though Seyd was his mortal enemy, and an enemy too who had decreed him to suffer an excruciating death. But Macbeth had no such scrupulosity of character : he put to death a monarch who had loaded him with his favours, nor was it only on this occasion that he proved himself an assassin. No wonder, then, that Mcdora should be distractedly attached to the Corsair, who, on all occasions, displayed the greatest magnanimity of character. She was more intimately acquainted with his heart than our author appears to have been, and she knew it to be tender and affectionate, notwithstanding the sternness of countenance which he assumed. In a word, she knew him to be, at bottom, naturally virtuous. Two lines from the passage in which she endeavours to persuade him to abandon his course of life, abundantly prove what we assert:
How strange that heart, to me so tender still,
We do not, however, maintain that all Lord Byron's characters are free from sentiments of infidelity; but if we could assure ourselves of his own orthodoxy, we sec no reason why he might not make his fictitious characters infidels, or atheists, or whatever he thought proper. Virtue is not in danger by the exposal of vice unless this vice be presented to us as virtue. We do not believe that the noble lord has any where attempted to affect this metamorphosis, though we are not so blind as to perceive that he frequently treats virtue with too much levity. Indeed, we have no hesi
tation to assert, that Lord Byron's genius is of that character which is nearly allied to madness. The impetuosity of his passions trample every thing under foot, and, therefore, he never inquires, for a moment, whether what he asserts be true or false. Hence, in all his descriptions, he consults his feelings and passions alone, never reflecting whether the objects, images, and situations, which they picture to his mind may be reconciled with the dictates of reason or not. In a word, he gives every thing the colouring of his own passions. It is very easy to perceive, that if he had as frequently spoken the language of reason as of passion, he could no longer display that deep and intense pathos, that bold, sublime, and rapid imagery which characterize his writings, and place him at the head of all our living poets. We must not read his works, therefore, to become acquainted with philo. sophy or religion ; we must read them merely to enjoy the high delights of poetic rapture, and to rove at large through the Elysian retreats and fairy habitations of the ideal world; but we must forget, at the same time, that we are feasting, not in the virgin paradise of Reason, but in the sensual bowers of Calypso. The works of Lord Byron must, therefore, be read for enjoyment and not for improvement. We know it is possible to mingle morality with poetry, but we know that, except to minds very rigidly disciplined to moral habits, poetry has more attractions without it; the cool and sage demeanour of the one but ill accords with the frenzied eye, and glowing countenance of the other. Let us not then seek for morality where it ought not to be expected. Lord Byron does not