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I vow'd that I would dedicate my powers
To thee and thine:-bave I not kept the vow?
They know that never joy illumin'd my brow,
Unlink'd with hope that thou would'st free
This world from its dark slavery! It is manifest that such a mind must have had its moments of deep despondency. Variable and sensitive, it must have ever oscillated from excitement to exhaustion. Ardent and enthusiastic, it must have stumbled and tottered under every disappointment. Yet we have but two pieces, in which a dejected mood is suffered to display itself, the first in some stanzas “ written near Naples,” part of which we quote :
Alas! I have nor hope, nor health,
Nor peace within, nor calm around,
The sage in meditation found,
And walked with ioward glory crown'd-
Others I see whom these surround-
Even as the winds and waters are :
And weep away this life of care,
Which I have borne, and yet must bear,
And I might feel in the warm air
Breathe o'er my dying brain its last monotony !
Shelley has been called an atheist: the public still deem him one:-it is a hard name. Hume wrote laboured essays, to prove by dogmas, the absurdity of-truth! Voltaire sneered at mankind —until, having deprived them of all divinity here, and of all hope hereafter, he would have reduced them to a level with—monkeys. Gibbon was a philosophic sceptic, wbo implied by witty sarcasm rather than gave direct utterance to what he felt. Byron was a poetic sceptic, who could be as pure as a Madonna, and as satanic as Lucifer himself, when it suited him : yet who will call Gibbon, or Byron, or Voltaire, or even Hume, atheists? The term is still more misapplied in the instance of Shelley-atheism is folly: “ The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God:” atheism is ignorance, a low, brutified, vulgar ignorance, like that of such a mind as C- -'s. Again, atheism implies an arrogant, blind independence: it sees no beauty, no love, no divinity-it is swayed by passion and the grossest sensuality: it has no eyes for nature, no tenderness for man-110 thirst for knowledge, no sympathy for aught save its wretched self! One unquenchable feeling prevails throughout the writings of Shelley, that of love in its most refined ideality! Wherever this love points—whether to nature, or truth, or intellectual beauty-we care not. To worship the attributes—the choicest attributes of divinity, is to worship divinity itself: is Shelley then an atheist ?
We have now gone through our task-to us it has been one of much pleasure. Whatever may be his faults, Shelley was undoubtedly a real
Sept. 1835.-VOL. XIV.—NO. LIII.
poet :-his originality is unquestioned-his imagination is of the highest class : and we have no hesitation in repeating, that had his capacity for executing equalled his ability in conceiving, he might, of all English bards, have approached the nearest to Milton. As it is, he stands alone in his sphere: alone in thought and feeling ; alone in wild and profuse imagery: companionless and eccentric in career: opposed to the world at seventeenand banished from it afterwards: branded for faults he never possessed, shunned for crimes, the faintest shadow of which could never have entered into his warm benevolent heart: the victim of a fate which is always awful, but in his case doubly so: let his own words be sculptured on his tomb:
Lift not the painted veil, which those who live
W.G. T. August, 1835.
BY MRS. CRAWFORD.
KATHLEEN MAVOURNEEN! the gray dawn is breaking,
The horn of the hunter is heard on the hill,
Kathleen Mavourneen! what, slumbering still !
Oh! hast thou forgotten this day we must part?
Oh! why art thou silent, thou voice of my heart?
Kathleen Mavourneen! awake from thy slumbers ;
The blue mountains glow in the sun's golden light;
Arise in thy beauty, thou star of my night !
To think that from Erin and thee I must part;
Oh! why art thou silent, thou voice of my heart?
THE LIFE OF A SUB-EDITOR.1
BY THE SUB-EDITOR.
What a nice, varied, sentimental, joyous, lachrymose, objurgatory, laudatory, reflective volume might be made, entitled, “Meditations at the Masthead!" When I found myself comfortably established in my aëry domicile, I first looked down upon the vessel below with a feeling nearly akin to pity, then around me with a positive feeling of rapture, and, at length, above me with a heart-warming glow of adoration. Perched up at a height so great, the decks of the frigate looked extremely long and narrow, and the foreshortened view one has of those upon it, makes them look little bigger, or more important, than so many puppets. Beneath me I saw the discontented author of “ A Tour up and down the Rio de la Plate,” and of my elevation, skipping actively here and there, to avoid the splashing necessary in washing the decks. I could not help comparing the annoyance of this involuntary dance, with the afterguard, this croisséz with clattering buckets, and dos à dosing with wet swabs, with my comfortable and commanding recumbency upon the cross-trees. I looked down upon Lieutenant Silva and pitied him. I looked around me, and my heart was exceeding glad. The upper rim of the sun was dallying with a crimson cloud, whilst the greater part of his disk was still below the well-defined deep blue horizon. All above him, to the zenith, was chequered with small clouds, layer over layer, like the scales of a breastplate of burnished gold. The little waves were mantling, dimpling, and seemed playfully striving to emulate the intenser glories of the heavens above. They now flashed into living light, now assumed the blushing hue of a rose-bud, and here and there wreathed up into a diminutive foam, mocking the smile of youth when she shows her white teeth between her beauty-breathing lips. As I swung aloft, with a motion gentle as that of the cradled infant, and looked out upon the splendours beneath and around me, my bosom swelled with the most rapturous emotions. Every where, as far as my eye could reach, the transparent and beryl-dyed waters were speckled with white sails, actually “ blushing rosy-red” with the morning beams. Far, far astern, huil down, were the huge dull sailers, spreading all their studding sails to the winds, reminding me of frightened swans with expanded wings. Conspicuous among these were the two men-of-war brigs, obliquely sailing, now here and then there, and ever and anon firing a gun, whose mimic thunder, came with melodious resonance over the waters, whilst the many-coloured signals were continually flying and shifting. They were the hawks among the covey of the larger white-plumed birds. At this moment our gallant frigate, like a youthful and a regal giant, more majestic from the lightness of her dress, walked in conscious superiority in the midst of all. She had, as I before mentioned, just
Continued from vol. xiii. p. 425.
set her topgallant sails in order to take her proud station in the
We now passed vessel after vessel, each with a different quantity of canvas set, according to her powers of sailing. It was altogether a glorious sight, and, to my feelings, excelled in quiet and cheerful sublimity any review, however splendid might be the troops, or imposing their numbers. Then the breeze came so freshly and kissingly on my cheek, whispering such pleasant things to my excited fancy, and invigorating so joyously the fibres of my heart—'I looked around me, and was glad.
When the soul is big with all good and pure feelings, gratitude will be there, and at her smiling invitation piety will come cheerfully and clasp her hand. Surely not that sectarian piety, which metes out wrath instead of mercy to an erring world; not that piety, that dealing “ damnation round the land,” daily making the pale, within which the only few to be saved are folded, more and more circumscribed ; nor even that bigoted, sensuous piety, which floats on the frankincense that eddies round the marble altar, and which, if unassisted by the vista of the dark aisle, the dimly-seen procession, the choral hymn, the banner, and the relic, faints and sees no God: no, none of these will be the piety of a heart exulting in the beneficence of the All-Good. Then and there, why should I have wished to have crept and grovelled under piled and sordid stone? Since first the aspiring architect spanned the arch at Thebes, which is not everlasting, and lifted the column at Rome, which is not immortal, was there ever dome like that which glowed over my head imagined by the brain of man? “ Fretted with golden fires,” and studded with such glorious clouds, that it were almost sinful not to believe that each veiled an angel; the vast concave, based all around upon the sapphire horizon, sprang upwards, terminating above me in that deep, deep, immeasurable blue, the best type of eternity was not this a fitting temple for worship? What frankincense was ever equal to that which nature then spread over the wave and through the air ? All this I saw—all this I felt. I looked upwards, and I was at once enraptured and humbled. Perhaps then, for the first time since I had left my schoolboy's haunts, I bethought me that there was a God. Too, too often I had heard his awful presence wantonly invoked, his sacred name taken in vain. Lately, I had not shuddered at this habitual profanation. The work of demoralization had commenced. I knew it then, and, with this knowledge, the first pang of guilty shame entered my bosom. I stood up with reverence upon the cross-trees. I took off my hat, and though I did not even whisper the prayers we had used at school, mentally I went through the whole of them. When I said to myself, “ I have done those things that I ought not to have done, and have left undone those things that I ought to have done,” I was startled at the measure of sin that I had confessed. I think that I was contrite. I resolved to amend. I gradually flung off the hardness that my late life of recklessness had been encrusting upon my heart. I softened towards all who had ever shown me kindness; and, in my mind, I faithfully retraced the last time that I had ever walked to church with her whom I had been fond to deem my mother. These silent devotions, and these home-harmonized thoughts first chastened, and then made me very, very happy. At last, I felt the spirit of blissful serenity so strong upon me, that forgetting for a moment to what ridicule I might subject myself, I began to sing aloud that morning hymn that I bad never omitted, for so many years, until I had joined the service,
“Awake, my soul, and with the sun." And I confess that I sang the whole of the first verse.
I am sure that no one will sneer at all this. The good will notthe wicked dare not. The worst of us, even if his sin has put on the armour of infidelity, must remember the time when he believed in a God of love, and loved to believe it. For the sake of that period of happiness he will not, cannot condemn the expression of feelings, and the manifestation of a bliss that he has himself voluntarily, and if he would ask his own heart, and record the answer, miserably, cast away.
However, it will be long before I again trouble the reader with any thing so outré as that which I have just written. Many were the days of error, and the nights of sin, that passed before I again even looked into my own heart. The feelings with which I made my mast-head orisons are gone, and for ever. How often, and with what bitterness of spirit have I said, “ would that I had then died !" If there is mercy in heaven-I say it with reverence—I feel assured that then to have passed away would have been but the closing of the eyes on earth to awaken immediately in the lap of a blissful immortality. Since then the world's foot has been upon my breast, and I have writhed under the opprobrious weight, and with sinful pride and self-trust have, though grovelling in the dust, returned scorn for scorn, and injury for injury-even wrong for wrong.
I have been a sad dog, and that's the truth ; but
I have been forced to hunt, and to house, and to howl with dogs much worse than myself, and that's equally true.
“ Maintopmast head there," squeaked out the very disagreeable treble of Captain Reud, who had then come on deck, as I was trolling, “ Shake off dull sloth, and early rise." “ Mr. Percy, what do you say?"
“ Aye, aye, sir."
“ Aye, aye, sir ! what were you saying ? how many sail are there in sight?"
“ I can't make out, sir."
Now, as I before stated, I had taken off my hat, and was standing up in a fit of natural devotion ; and the captain, no doubt, thought that I was bareheaded, and shading my eyes, the better to reckon the convoy. To lie would have been so easy, and I was tempted to reply to the question, that I had. But my better feelings predominated, so at the risk of a reprimand I answered, “Not yet, sir.
At this moment Mr. Silva, the lieutenant of the watch, placed the watch look-outs, and sent the signalman up to assist me in counting the convoy; and at the same time the latter bore me a quiet message, that when the number was ascertained I might come down.
I came on deck and gave the report.