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REMAINS OF HENRY KIRKE WHITE.. IT very seldom happens that in reviewing any work we feel an undivided pleasure. If the style of the author is chaste and beautiful, his arguments solid, and the morality of his page worthy of all praise, there is often found an equipoise to all these in his life. When we penetrate beyond the public character of the man, and obtain a sight of his fireside, we generally find such shocking inconsistencies, that we regret the veil was ever rent; we wish that the shadows of the tomb might envelop the memory of the man, and only allow us the spectacle of the author. We wish, in such instances, no cross sensations; nothing to intersect and divide the delightful train of ideas furnished by the perusal of his page.
This unmixed enjoyment is, however, often denied us by the mischievous impertinence of the biographer. Without suffering the mouldering ashes to cover the imperfections of the deceased, he holds them up to the scorn and banter of all succeeding ages. Here the contrast is so painful, that we abandon both the author and the man with disgust. The page that was before electric, is now rendered as cold as the steel, after the ethereal fluid has de
parted. We have, on this account, often felt a certain tremor of anxiety, when we turn from the fascinating page of an author, to the history of his life.
Such were precisely our emotions, when we read the works of Henry Kirke White, and then reverted to his biography. We shall now, without further preface, enter into an analysis of each, and the reader will judge, from the sequel, whether our apprehensions were confirmed or abated. The works which we shall first notice consist of two volumes, and are called, with great propriety, by the editor, Robert Southey, the Remains of Henry Kirke White. The author was prevented, by death, from giving the finishing hand to them. They are now produced for no other purpose than to enable the reader to judge of what might reasonably have been expected, had life been prolonged for the entire accomplishment of his labours. There is, in the contemplation of all mutilated, or, properly speaking, imperfect fragments of beautiful workmanship, something more tender and interesting than if the mechanism was presented to us entire. When the thing is so completed, we may admire and applaud: we know the full extent of the artist's powers, and no other emo"tions than these are put in a state of requisition. When we have a bcautiful specimen of broken or unfinished workmanship, the case is different: we feel admiration, as before; and there is a void still left for the fancy to fill up, which she delights to occupy with the most endearing reveries. The poetical character of this work is chiefly inarked by an imagination adventurous to a daring extreme, and partaking, in some instances, of what is often called poetic phrenzy. At such moments the Muse is ungovernable. She bursts the manacles of measure, and throws down the burning thought impatiently, in the first words that come to utterance. The reader participates in the fervour thus excited, and looks on the dilapidations without pain or regret. After this whirlwind has spent its fury, the poet once more returns to a sober and chaster strain, and his lyre sounds as melodiously as ever. Gay and cheerful measures he seems to hold unworthy of his genius; he delights to sound on the severer Chords; tu summon forms of horror, “ shapes and sights unholy," and to hold a gloomy conference with the spectres. While the reader is prepared, on the strength of such evidence, to enrol the bard among those monster-hunters, who have mistaken Parnassus for Acheron, ejected the Muses, and given up their domicile to ghosts and hobgoblins, his ears are once more saluted with the sounds of the lyre. Now the poet soberly communes · with Taste and Nature; he seeks no spectral assistance to his harp, but pours a current of painful sensibility through the natural channels of the heart, and the stream does not, in a single instance, overflow its allotted bounds. We are charmed and delighted when we leave his eccentric mazes, and tread on honest earth again; it brings us home with a double relish, and our pleasure resembles that of an aëronaut, who, after a dangerous voyage, is safely moored by his cottage-fire, and is once more cheered by the beams of his hospitable lamp.
It is no more than justice to the manes of Mr. White, however, to state that his horror is not of the spurious breed; it is all homebred horror, wrought by the hands of English supersti, tion. He does not, as Mr. Lewis does, plunder the graves, animate the mouldering bodies, and dignify this strange species of ma. nufacture by the name of ghosts. Nor is it unworthy of remark, that Mr. Southey seems peculiarly caught by these specimens of the poet's genius; that respectable poet (for, with all his faults, respectable he certainly is) having dallied too long and too intimately with Kehama and with Thalaba, to preserve his literary chastity unimpaired.
Such are the broad outlines of character which these poems exhibit. The minuter strokes are the bold, original, beautiful, and appropriate combinations, that we can scarcely turn over a single page without meeting. The reader with difficulty calls to his memory such associations; but when pointed out by the bard, they appear so obvious that he wonders be never perceived them before. All this is united to a piety, at once fervent, and diffusively benevolent. In short, the bold, and pathetic; the dreadful and the delicate, the extravagant and the chaste, are here intermingled. His diction is pure and masculine English, uncorrupted by foreign idiom, and not incumbered with the or.
naments it bears. His novelty of combination is very frequent, and two beautiful instances must suffice:
TO AN EARLY PRIMROSE.
Mild offspring of a dark and sullen sire!
Was nurs’d in whirling storms
Thee, when young Spring first questioned Winter's sway,
Thee on this bank he threw
We will muse on pensive lores
Instances of the bard's forcible painting are numerous. We must content ourselves with one only.
FRAGMENT OF AN ODE TO THE MOON.
Mild orb, who floatest through the realm of night,
A pathless wanderer o'er a lonely wild;
Now doubly dear as o'er my silent scat,
And through my lofty casement weaves,
An intermingled beam.
Two lines of Darwin have been very much admired. The poet, when describing the plague that raged in London, when multitudes of the dying and the dead were buried indiscriminately together; thus expresses himself:
"Awhile the breathing bill