Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

upon a postulate, so simple as that tensive application of these truths which Mr. Coleridge alleges, so much they concede to him: but they fancy valuable instruction both theoretic that in the works of many others beand practical as his work contains. fore him they find the outlines of the Is it nothing for our theoretic know- same truths more or less distinctly ledge that Mr. Malthus has taught expressed. And doubtless in some us to judge more wisely of the pre- passages of former economists, espetended depopulations from battle, cially of Sir James Steuart, and in pestilence, and famine, with which one work of Wallace (Views of Proall history has hitherto teemed? Is vidence, &c.) there is so near an apit nothing for our practical know. proach made to the Malthusian docledge that Mr. Malihus has taught trine—that at this day, when we are the lawgivers and the governors of in possession of that doctrine, we feel the world to treat with contempt the inclined to exclaim in the children's pernicious counsels of political econo- language of blind-man’s-buff-Lord ! mists from Athenian days down to how he burns!—But the best evidence our own-clamouring for direct en- that none of these writers did actualcouragements to population? Is it ly touch the central point of the docnothing for England that he first has trine-is this; that none of them deexposed the fundamental * vice of duced from it those corollaries as to our Poor Laws (viz. that they act as the English poor laws—foundlinga bounty on population), and placed hospitals-endowments of cottages a light-house upon the rocks to which with land—and generally of all artiour course was rapidly carrying us ficial devices for stimulating populain darkness? Is it nothing for tion, which could not have escaped a science and the whole world that, by writer of ability who had once posunfolding the laws which govern po- sessed himself of the entire truth. pulation, he has given to political In fact, such is the anarchy of economy its complement and sole de- thought in most writers on subjects sideratum; which wanting, all its which they have never been led to movements were insecure and liable treat systematically—that it is noto error; which added, political eco- thing uncommon to meet with a pasnomy (however imperfect as to its sage written apparently under Maldevelopement) has now become, as thusian views in one page of a writer to the idea of its parts, perfect and who in the next will possibly proorbicular?-Is this, and more that pose tax on celibacy-a prize for might be alleged, nothing? I say, early marriges—or some other absurMr. Coleridge,

dity not less outrageously hostile to Is this nothing ?

those views. - No! let the merit of Why then the world, and all that's in't, is Mr. Malthus be otherwise what it nothing:

may, his originality is incontestable The covering sky is nothing, Bohemia no- -unless an earlier writer can be adthing.

Winter's Tale. duced who has made the same oblique Others, who have been more just applications of the doctrine, and in to Mr. Malthus than Mr. Coleridge, general who has shown with what and have admitted the value of the consequences that doctrine is pregtruths brought forward, have disput- nant; separate from which conseed his title to the first discovery. A quences the mere naked doctrine, in fuller developement and a more ex- and for itself, is but a meagre truth.

ON THE KNOCKING AT THE GATE IN MACBETH.

From my boyish days I had always never could account: the effect was felt a great perplexity on one point that it reflected back upon the in Macbeth : it was this: the knock- murder a peculiar awfulness and a ing at the gate, which succeeds to depth of solemnity: yet, however the murder of Duncan, produced to obstinately I endeavoured with my my feelings an effect for which I understanding to comprehend this,

* Fundamental, I mean, for the political economist : otherwise for the philosopher they have a still profounder rice, in their obvious tendency to degrade the moral character of their objects in their best elements of civic respectability.

for many years I never could see why He does not know that he has seen it should produce such an effect. (and therefore quoad his consciousness

Here I pause for one moment to ex- has not seen) that which he has seen hort the reader never to pay any at- every day of his life. But, to retention to his understanding when it turn from this digression,-my unstands in opposition to any other fa- derstanding could furnish no reason culty of his mind. The mere under- why the knocking at the gate in standing, however useful and indis- Macbeth should produce any effect pensable, is the meanest faculty in direct or reflected: in fact, my unthe human mind and the most to be derstanding said positively that it distrusted: and yet the great ma- could not produce any effect But I jority of people trust to nothing else; knew better: I felt that it did: and which may do for ordinary life, but I waited and clung to the problem not for philosophic purposes.

Of until further knowledge should enthis, out of ten thousand instances able me to solve it.-At length, in that I might produce, I will cite one. 1812, Mr. Williams made his début Ask of any person whatsoever, who on the stage of Ratcliffe Highway, is not previously prepared for the and executed those unparalleled murdemand by a knowledge of perspec- ders which have procured for him tive, to draw in the rudest way the such a brilliant and undying reputacommonest appearance which de- tion. On which murders, by the pends upon the laws of that science- way, I must observe, that in one as for instance, to represent the ef- respect they have had an ill effect, fect of two walls standing at right by making the connoisseur in murangles to each other, or the appear- der very fastidious in his taste, and ance of the houses on each side of a dissatisfied with any thing that has street, as seen by a person looking been since done in that line. All down the street from one extremity. other murders look pale by the deep Now in all cases, unless the person crimson of his : and, as an amateur has happened to observe in pictures once said to me in a querulous tone, how it is that artists produce these “ There has been absolutely nothing effects, he will be utterly unable to doing since his time, or nothing that's make the smallest approximation to worth speaking of.” But this is it. Yet why?-For he has actually wrong: for it is unreasonable to exseen the effect every day of his life. pect all men to be great artists, and The reason is—that he allows his born with the genius of Mr. Williams. understanding to overrule his eyes. -Now it will be remembered that in His understanding, which includes the first of these murders (that of no intuitive knowledge of the laws the Marrs) the same incident (of a of vision, can furnish him with no knocking at the door soon after the reason why a line which is known work of extermination was complete) and can be proved to be a horizontal did actually occur which the genius line, should not appear a horizontal of Shakspeare had invented : and all line: a line, that made any angle good judges and the most eminent with the perpendicular less than a dilettanti acknowledged the felicity right angle, would seem to him to of Shakspeare's suggestion as soon indicate that his houses were all as it was actually realized. Here tumbling down together. Accord- then was a fresh proof that I had ingly he makes the line of his houses been right in relying on my own a horizontal line, and fails of course feeling in opposition to my underto produce the effect demanded. standing; and again I set myself to Here then is one instance out of study the problem: at length 1 solved many, in which not only the under- it to my own satisfaction; and my standing is allowed to overrule the solution is this. Murder in ordinary eyes, but where the understanding is cases, where the sympathy is wholly positively allowed to obliterate the directed to the case of the murdered eyes as it were: for not only does person, is an incident of coarse and the man believe the evidence of his vulgar horror; and for this reasonunderstanding in opposition to that that it flings the interest exclusively of his eyes, but (which is mon- upon the natural but ignoble instinct strous !) the idiot is not aware that by which we cleave to life ; an inhis eyes ever gave such evidence. stinct which, as being indispensable

to the primal law of self-preservation, energy. We were to be made to is the same in kind (though different feel that the human nature, i. e. the in degree) amongst all living crea- divine nature of love and mercy, tures; this instinct therefore, be- spread through the hearts of all cause it annihilates all distinctions, creatures, and seldom utterly withand degrades the greatest of men to drawn from man--wasgone,vanished, the level of “the poor beetle that extinct; and that the fiendish nature we tread on," exhibits human na- had taken its place. And, as this ture in its most abject and humilis effect is marvellously accomplished in ating attitude. Such an attitude the dialogues and soliloquies themwould little suit the purposes of the selves, so it is finally consummated poet. What then must he do? He by the expedient under consideration; must throw the interest on the mur- and it is to this that I now solicit derer: our sympathy must be with the reader's attention. If the reader him; (of course I mean a sympathy has ever witnessed a wife, daughter, of comprehension, a sympathy by or sister, in a fainting fit, he may which we enter into his feelings, chance to have observed that the and are made to understand them, most affecting moment in such a not a sympathy* of pity or appro- spectacle, is that in which a sigh bation:) in the murdered person all and a stirring announce the recomstrife of thought, all flux and re- mencement of suspended life. Or, flux of passion and of purpose, are if the reader has ever been present crushed by one overwhelming panic: in a vast metropolis on the day the fear of instant death smites him when some great national idol was " with its petrific mace.' But in carried in funeral pomp to his grave, the murderer, such a murderer as a and chancing to walk near to the poet will condescend to, there must course through which it passed, has be raging, some great storm of pas- felt powerfully, in the silence and sion,-jealousy, ambition, vengeance, desertion of the streets and in the hatred,—which will create a hell stagnation of ordinary business, the within him; and into this hell we deep interest which at that moment are to look. In Macbeth, for the was possessing the heart of man,sake of gratifying his own enormous if all at once he should hear the and teeming faculty of creation, death-like stillness broken up by the Shakspeare has introduced two mur- sound of wheels rattling away from derers: and, as usual in his hands, the scene, and making known that they are remarkably discriminated : the transitory vision was dissolved, he but, though in Macbeth the strife of will be aware that at no moment was mind is greater than in his wife, the his sense of the complete suspension tiger spirit not so awake, and his and pause in ordinary human confeelings caught chiefly by contagion cerns so full and affecting as at that from her,-yet, as both were finally moment when the suspension ceases, involved in the guilt of murder, the and the goings-on of human life are murderous mind of necessity is fi- suddenly resumed. All action in nally to be presumed in both. This any direction is best expounded, was to be expressed ; and on its measured, and made apprehensible, own account, as well as to make it a by reaction. Now apply this to the more proportionable antagonist to case in Macbeth. Here, as I have the unoffending nature of their vic- said, the retiring of the human heart tim, “the gracious Duncan,” and and the entrance of the fiendish adequately to expound “the deep heart was to be expressed and made damnation of his taking off,” this sensible. Another world has stepped was to be expressed with peculiar in; and the murderers are taken out

* It seems almost ludicrous to guard and explain my use of a word in a situation where it should naturally explain itself. But it has become necessary to do so, in consequence of the unscholarlike use of the word sympathy, at present so general, by which, instead of taking it in its proper sense, as the act of reproducing in our minds the feelings of another, whether for hatred, indignation, love, pity, or approbation, it is made a mere synonyme of the word pity; and hence, instead of saying, “ sympathy with another,” many writers adopt the monstrous barbarism of " sympathy for another."

of the region of human things, hu- we live, first makes us profoundly man purposes, human desires. They sensible of the awful parenthesis that are transfigured: Lady Macbeth is had suspended them. “ unsexed; Macbeth has forgot Oh! "mighty poet!- Thy works that he was born of woman; both are not as those of other men, simply are conformed to the image of devils; and merely great works of art; but and the world of devils is suddenly are also like the phenomena of varevealed. But how shall this be ture, like the sun and the sea, the conveyed and made palpable? In stars and the flowers,—like frost and order that a new world may step in, snow, rain and dew, hail-storm and this world must for a time disappear. thunder, which are to be studied The murderers, and the murder, with entire submission of our own must be insulated-cut off by an faculties, and in the perfect faith immeasurable gulph from the ordi- that in them there can be no too nary tide and succession of human much or too little, nothing useless affairs locked up and sequestered or inert—but that, the further we in some deep recess: we must be press in our discoveries, the more we made sensible that the world of ordi- shall see proofs of design and selfnary life is suddenly arrested-laid supporting arrangement where the asleep-tranced-racked into a dread careless eye had seen nothing but armistice: time must be annihilated; accident! relation to things without abolished; N.B. In the above specimen of and all must pass self-withdrawn psychological criticism, I have purinto a deep syncope and suspension of posely omitted to notice another use earthly passion. Hence it is that when of the knocking at the gate, viz. the the deed is done-when the work of opposition and contrast which it prodarkness is perfect, then the world duces in the porter's comments to of darkness passes away like a pa- the scenes immediately preceding; geantry in the clouds: the knocking because this use is tolerably obvious at the gate is heard; and it makes to all who are accustomed to reflect known audibly that the reaction has on what they read.

A third use commenced: the human has made also, subservient to the scenical ilits reflux upon the fiendish: the lusion, has been lately noticed by a pulses of life are beginning to beat critic in the London MAGAZINE: I again: and the re-establishment of fully agree with him; but it did not the goings-on of the world in which fall in my way to insist on this.

X. Y. Z.

THE NEGRO'S EUTHANASIA. Translated from the Introductory Stanzas to a Greek Prize Ode of Mr. Coleridge.

Fling wide thy gates of darkness, Death!

Speed to the race with misery yoked :
No mangled cheek or howling breath

Shall greet thy presence, long invoked.
But circling dance shall beat the ground;
The joy of song shall burst around;
Stern tyrant! dreadful though thou be,
Thy dwelling is with Liberty !
They, wafted on thy dusky wings,

Look down upon the ocean swell;
Their wandering foot on ether springs

To their own land beloved so well :
And there the lovers to their loves
By fountain brink, in citron groves,
Recount the deeds of wrath and scorn
Which they as men from men have borne.

OLEN.

PICTURES AT WILTON, STOURHEAD, &c. SALISBURY Plain, barren as it is, intrude out of an impertinent curiosiis rich in collections and monuments ty to see their houses and furniture, of art. There is, within the distance without having a just value for them of a few miles, Wilton, Longford as objects of art? Or is the expense castle, Fonthill-abbey, Stourhead, of keeping servants to show the and last, though not least worthy apartments made the plea of this to be mentioned, Stonehenge, that churlish, narrow system? The pub“ huge, dumb heap," that stands on lic are ready enough to pay their the blasted heath, and looks like a servants for the attendance, and those group of giants, bewildered, not persons are quite as forward to do knowing what to do, encumbering this who make a pilgrimage to such the earth, and turned to stone, while places on foot as those who approach in the act of warring, on Heaven. them in a post-chaise or on horseback An attempt has lately been made to with a livery servant, which, it give it an antediluvian origin. Its seems, is the prescribed and fashionmystic round is in all probability able etiquette ? Whatever is the fated to remain inscrutable, a mighty cause, we are sorry for it; more parmaze, without a plan: but still the ticularly as it compels us to speak of imagination, when once curiosity and these two admired Collections from wonder have taken possession of it, memory only. It is several years heaves with its restless load, launches since we saw them; but there are conjecture farther and farther back some impressions of this sort that beyond the land-marks of time, and are proof against time. strives to bear down all impediments Lord Radnor has the two famous in its course, as the ocean strives to Claudes, the Morning and Evening overleap some vast promontory ! of the Roman Empire. Though as

Fontħill-abbey, which was former- landscapes they are neither so brilly hermetically sealed against all in- liant nor finished nor varied as some trusion,* is at present open to the of his, there is a weight and concenwhole world; and Wilton-house, and tration of historic feeling about them Longford-castle, which were former- which many of his allegorical proly open to every one, are at present ductions want. In the first, halfshut, except to petitioners, and a fa- finished buildings and massy columns voured few. Why is this greater, rise amidst the dawning effulgence, degree of strictness in the latter in- that is streaked with rims of inexstances resorted to ? In proportion tinguishable light; and a noble tree as the taste for works of art becomes in the foreground, ample, luxuriant, more general, do these Noble Per- hangs and broods over the growing sons wish to set bounds to and dis- design. There is a dim mistiness appoint public curiosity? Do they spread over the scene, as in the bethink that the admiration bestowed ginnings of things.

The Evening, on fine pictures or rare sculpture the companion to it, is even finer. lessens the value, or divides the pro- It has all the gorgeous pomp that perty, as well as the pleasure, with attends the meeting of Night and the possessor ? Or do they think Day, and a flood of glory still prethat setting aside the formality of vails over the coming shadows." In these new regulations, three persons the cool of the evening, some cattle in the course of a whole year would are feeding on the brink of a glassy

* This is not absolutely true. Mr. Banks the younger, and another young gentleman, formed an exception to this rule, and contrived to get into the Abbey-grounds, in spite of warning, just as the recluse proprietor happened to be passing by the spot. Instead however of manifesting any displeasure, he gave them a most polite reception, showed them whatever they expressed a wish to see, asked them to dinner, and after passing the day in the greatest conviviality, dismissed them by saying, “ That now they might get out as they had got in.” This was certainly a good jest. Our youthful adventurers on forbidden.ground, in the midst of their security, might have expected some such shrewd turn from the antithetical genius of the author of Vathek, who makes his hero, in a paroxysm of impatience, call out for the Koran and sugar!

« ZurückWeiter »