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the age of seventy, pursuing the daily cliase, two hundred miles to the westward of the last abode of civilized man. He had retired to a chosen spot, beyond the Missouri, which, after him is named Boon's i ,i<.k, out of the reach, as he flattered himself, of intrusion; but white men, even there, incroached upon him, and two years ago, he went back two hundred miles further.' pp. 59—62.
* Clerks, lawyers, and doctors,' mercantile adventurers, and master manufacturers in general, would, Mr. B. is of opinion, gain nothing by an exchange of countries.
The picture which this volume presents of the native American, is by no means prepossessing. We have already alluded to the representation given of their indolence. In this national trait, the Indian still seems to discover itself as the substratum of those modifications of character, superinduced by the cireumstances of civilized society, serving to show to what general class of the great family, the genuine American is to be referred. In some other respects, the people still exhibit the signs of immature civilization. Intellectual culture has made but very little progress. Nature, in vain, exhibits every form of beauty and grandeur: 'There are no organs of perception,' says Mr. Birkbeck, ' no faculties us yet prepared in this country, for the enjoy• incnl of these exquisite combinations.'
• The grand in scenery I have been shocked to hear, by American : lips, called disgusting, because the surface would be too rude for the
plough; and the epithet of elegant is used on every occasion of commendation but that to which it is appropriate in the English language.
• An elegant improvement, is a cabin of rude logs, and a few acres with the trees cut down to the height of three feet, and surrounded by
• a worm-fence, or zig-zag railing. You hear of an elegant mill, an elegant orchard, an elegant tan-yard, &c. and familiarly of elegant roads,—meaning such as you may pass without extreme peril. The word implies eligibility or usefulness in America, but has nothing to do with taste; which is a term as strange to the American language, where I have heard it spoken, as comfort is said to be to the french, and for a similar reason :—the idea has not yet reached them. Nature has not yet displayed to them those charms of distant and various prospect, which will delight the future inhabitants of this noble country.'
Scientific pursuits engage but little attention, their reading being confined for the most part, to politics, history, and poetry. 'Science is not,' says our Author, ' cultivated, as in England, 'for its own sake.' The time which might be thus advantageously occupied, is yawned away. The life and habits of their own Franklin, would read them a very different lesson, but even his name is not often heard among them.
'Nature has done much for them, and they leave much to nature: but they have made themselves free: this may account for their indifference to science, and their zeal in politics.'
They are free; and although political liberty will not supersede the necessity of those moral incentives, under the regulating influence of •which, the mind can alone be brought to act \\itli sustained energy, we have only to compare the intellectual condition of this people with that of the population of the old world, to'perceive how vast a good is liberly. Compare with the half-civilized American, the Spaniard, the German, or the Irishman, taking the specimens of each from the lower classes, and let the result speak for itself as to the relative advantages of the political systems under which their characters have respectively been formed. The low Irish, as they are called even in America, are found, when there, still to retain that degradation of mind which is induced by their religious and political condition, and perpetuated by their old habit of whiskey drinking'. As in London,' says our Author, ' they fill the lowest departments of labour in the manufactures, or serve the bricklayers: they are rude and abandoned, with ample means of comfort and independence. The low Irish and the freed negro, stand' at nearly the same degree on the moral scale, being depressed equally by early associations.' •
When we recollect how recently America was one vast wilderness,* how rapidly she has risen from an assemblage of disconnected colonies into a nation, and how little time has been afforded for the arrangement and perfecting of her domestic policy, it will appear to be only astonishing, that society has, under such circumstances, attained so high a pitch of maturity, as already to enter into rivalry with the state of things under the full-grown institutions, and complicate policy of European states. Capital and population are here beheld operating according to their natural laws; and the association of men is seen taking place, on the simple principle of cohesion. The phenomenon is, in all respects, most instructive to the political economist, and the statesman. 'Why,' exclaims Mr. Birkbeck, 'do not the 'governments of Europe afford such an asylum, in their vast 'and gloomy forests, for their increasing myriads of paupers! 'This would be an object worthy a convention of sovereigns.'
Art. V. Guide Harold's Pilgrimage. Canto the Fourth. By Lord Byron, 8vo. pp. 257. Price 12s. ]8i8.
T ITTLE more than a third part of this volume is occupied -*-^ with the poem of Childe Harold. The remainder, with the exception of a ballad and a sonnet, consists of a series of notes
* ' Twenty years ago, the vast region, comprising the states of Ohio 'and Indiana, and the territory of Illinois and Michigan, only counted '30,000; the number that are now living, and living happily, in the * little county of Hamilton, which is something under the regular 'dimensions of 20 miles square.'
compiled by the Author of the "Historical Illustrations," which have subsequently made their appearance in a bulky volume, as an additional appendix to this Fourth Canto. It' his Lordship's composition really stood in need of so large a commentary, it would be an unfortunate circumstance for his fame as a poet, •ioce he must in that case have submitted either to be read without being understood, or to be very little read at all. But if these annotations are not necessary to the reader's enjoyment of the poem, we cannot but think that his Lordship would have done well to anticipate their eventual separation from it, since bodies of so different specific gravity are scarcely likely to float down to posterity together, and to have given the public his own portion of the volume at a somewhat less costly rate, in the shape of another poetical pamphlet. We do not deny that the notes are highly entertaining, but their connexion with the text is often very slender. Some of them stretch into the length of dissertation, nor are these of the least interest; but the heterogeneous and desultory nature of the whole compilation, exceedingly detracts from its value. The materials thus loosely thrown together, might have been woven into a very interesting topographical memoir, or have formed the basis of an extended essay on the literature of Italy. The contents of this part of the volume will come more distinctly under our notice in reviewing Mr. Hobhouse's work.
Our disinclination to know the Author of Childe Harold in any other character than that of a poet, which is, according to established courtesy, an imaginary character, and for the convenience, at least the pleasure of the reader, it is fit this practical fiction should be held legal,—would induce us to pass over also his Lordship's prefatory epistle. It is, however, necessary to refer to the statement, that in the conduct of this concluding canto, ' there will be found less of the pilgrim than in any of the 'preceding, and that little slightly, if at all, separated from the 'author speaking in his own person.'
'The fact is, that I had become weary of drawing a line which every one seemed determined not to perceive: like the Chinese in Goldsmith's «' Citizen of the World," whom nobody would believe to be a Chinese, it was in vain that I asserted, and imagined, that I had drawn a distinction between the author and the pilgrim : and the very anxiety to preserve this difference, and disappointment at finding it unavailing, so far crushed my efforts in the composition, that 1 determined to abandon it altogether,—and have done so. The opinions which have been or may be formed on that subject, are now a matter of'indifference ; the work is to depend on itself, and not on the writer.'
This, we think, is a rather awkward attempt of his Lordship to throw upon the wilfulness of his readers, the failure attributable to an original deficiency of distinctness in his own conceptions. 'The pilgrim' had never even a poetical existence, as a separate personality. Childe Harold always a]>peared to be nothing more than a pretence, on the part of the Author, for speaking in the third person; and that the fiction was viewed in this light, as a mere form of speech, is not the fault of the reader. We have already given our reasons for tbe opinion, that the noble Author would not have succeeded in the attempt to give shape and substance and individuality to ideal beings of a character totally different from the one which meets us under so many disguises, but with the strong marks of identity, throughout his poems. His first thought muy have been, to make of Childe Harold an imaginary pilgrim; but this design must have been abandoned in the first stage of its execution, since the poem has no plan, no action, no dramatic incident which might serve to develop the character of his hero. The way in which he is made to declaim and philosophize, reminds the reader of that celebrated dramatic exhibition, the Lecture on Heads, in which busts of different costume and character were placed before the audience, but the lecturer was still the actor and spokesman. It is pretty nearly the samu with Lord Byron's characters ; they have ever the same face, the strong unconcealable marks of identity still prevailing over the scenic disguise. But with regard to Childe Harold, we cannot imagine that the Author was ever honestly solicitous to guard against the mistake which he would fain represent as injurious, claiming, us it should seem, the magnanimity of being ' Mow' indifferent to the injury. We apprehend, that by whatever means, or in whatever character, his Lordship might most easily have secured notoriety, that object attained, it would at all times have mattered little in his opinion, that the admiration won from his contemporaries, should have left esteem and sympathy far behind. And if he found that the dark and mysterious fancy portrait, which the public mistook for a real likeness, laid hold of the imagination, and fascinated while it seemed to repel, it is more than probable that the artist was not displeased at having attributed to himself those strong and gloomy traits of character, which his own fancy hail pictured iu another. There is a species of sublimity of which, I lie had is susceptible, to which in the ideal hero, he might feel to have made some approach, and on this dark elevation he might not be unwilling to seem to stand, shrouded in the indefiniteness of the poetical character. However this may be, the Author by carrying on the poem in his own person, and laying aside entirely his pilgrim-domino, h;is taken the sure method completely to obliterate in the minds of his readers, the nicely-drawn distinction he in his first canto pretended to support.
Tbe poem, now completed, may therefore, as a whole, be considered as a series of descriptive sketches and moral observations
made during his Lordship's travels, whose pilgrim-ship resolves itself into the plain reality of a philosophizing tourist. Assuredly, it demanded no ordinary powers of ('..ought as well as of poetical skill, to impart the charm of continuous interest to a long succession of st.i:v,as, cohering together by no other law than that of juxtu-positton.
But we need not repeat the opinion we have co frequently had occasion to express upon the general subject of Lord Byron's abilities, which, though not unlimited iu their range, are undeniably of the highest order. The marks, of limitation are evident in a prevailing sameness both of subject and of mode of thinking; the proof of superlative genius, is afforded by the poet's imparting to this sameness, the effect and interest of variety; by his being able to make the monotony of his thoughts, like the monotonies of Nature, unwearying and ever harmouious. Thejeu <T esprit, entitled Beppo, reviewed in our last Number, and which is now acknowledged to be Lord Byron's, we have heard adduced in refutation of the opinion that the range of his talents is circumscribed. That poem evinces great versatility of style, but none of thinking. It shews that its author can imitate, like a nightingale, with surprising facility, the notes of inferior songsters ; it exhibits, in fact, great cleverness, but nothing more. The powers of observation and satire which it displays, were known to belong to Lord Byron, before his wayward vanity led him to sport the incognito in that motley disguise. But the sort of limitation we speak of, relates to those higher efforts of a plastic imagination, by which our great poets have been able to people the regions of fancy with abstractions wearing the semblance of distinct personality. To a production of this kind, cither in epic or dramatic composition, his Lordship cannot be presumed to be competent, till he has furnished some specimens of his talents very different from any that have yet appeared. In the mean time, we are not disposed to appreciate slightly the genius which shines out in the present poem.
The scene of this Fourth Canto opens at Venice.
* In Venice Tasso's echoes are no more,
The revel of the earth, the masque of Italy!
* But unto us she hath a spell beyond
Of mighty shadows, whose dim forms despond