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directed, and what he thought was adapted to the feelings and taste of all men, who judged by their feelings, not by that perverted taste which leads thousands to suppose, that whatever comes from the pens of certain writers, must be what it ought to be, whether they are pleased with it or not. It is for this last class of writers he employs his pen at present. He now seems to write for the exquisites,-in taste as well as in dress. We shall make a few remarks on his “Last Man,” which is given in page 128 of this volume, to which we refer our readers.
The form of verse which he has adopted in it, belongs to the romantic school of poetry, for we are now romantic, not only in our ideas, but also in our manner of expressing them. To our ears, however, this measure has no charm ; nor, we apprehend, to any ears that judge by the original laws of harmony. There are, however, who sacrifice their natural feelings to novelty, not that this novelty delights them, for what is not in accord with the laws of our nature, can never please, but that they attribute their want of pleasure to want of taste, and admire in proportion to their ignorance. Let Lord Byron write in any new-fangled verse, and though it pleases no man, it is admired by all, or, at least, by the majority, because they attribute the little pleasure which it imparts to them, not to any want of beauty in the structure of verse adopted by the noble bard, but to their not being able to perceive its beauty, and imagining that their ignorance would be detected, if they acknowledged the truth, and avowed it was, to their ears, both harsh and disagreeable, they run into the very opposite extreme, and pretend that nothing pleases them more. This they consider a proof of their good taste; but, with regard to that structure of verse which gives them real and positive pleasure, they are totally silent, because they feel, instinctively, that it pleases all men, as well as themselves, and they know, accordingly, they can get no credit for professing to be pleased with that which pleases all mankind. We believe, Mr. Campbell studies less his own taste than that of these affected judges, these exquisites in
poetry,—when hewrites such verses as the "Last Man.” Indeed, in a very great portion of the poetry emanating from the romantic scbool, there is a bloated greatness, a strutting pomp, a mystical solemnity, which, though they make the ignorant stare, are only fit subjects of laughter to any man who admires, and is pleased only with all that is in harmony with nature; not that he would limit the creative powers of the poet, but that he would oblige him to make his creations wear the aspect and livery of nature. We think we can perceive some of these last characters of the romantic school in “ The Last Man.” He is a very great and pious nan, in his own opinion, and a very little and impious one in ours. What manner of man must he be, who, seeing “ the wreck of matter, and the crush of worlds,” about his ears, instead of being moved by so awful a scene, stands up, and addresses the sun in a prouder speech than Milton has put into the mouth of Lucifer, in addressing the same orb? For our parts, we would not wish to be made in the same mould with such a man. But he is a romantic man, and that is enough!! And yet this romantic man is “ likened unto” a prophet, and seems to be painted by Mr. Campbell as an emblem of human greatness; but, we regret to say, that the greatness of this Last Man, is the greatness of Satan, and the power that is given him is much greater.
Yet, prophet-like, that lone one stood,
With dauntless words, and high,
As if a storm passed by. This is really, true poetic rant; for, admitting that men, instead of decreasing in strength and stature, according to the generally received opinion, continue to wax stronger and stronger to the end of time, it is still ridiculous to suppose, that the last man will have such a tempest-like voice as is here attributed to him. Neither can he be a prophet, in any sense of the word, for he was, of all other men, the only one who could be no prophet. Prophecy regards that which is to take place, and which has not yet commenced; but there was nothing to take place after the Last Man, but what was actually taking place at the moment. The world was crumbling into ruin, and it required no prophecy to foretell that of which he was an actual spectator ; and, the ruin being consummated, all futurity was at an end, at least, so far as regards time; and, with regard to eternity and immortality, the Last Man could have no more knowledge, until he was out of existence, than we have at present.
In the fifth stanza, the Last Man utters blasphemy against the Deity. He desires the sun not to recal life's tragedy again,” nor restore man to that state of misery from which the dissolution of the earth had released him :
fifth stanzwe have at predge, until he
Its piteous pageants bring not back,
Of pain anew to writhe ; that is, in other words, that annihilation is better than that state in which we are placed by the Deity. But if the Last Man thus chooses indirectly to attack Providence, why attribute any portion of its evils to the sun, that “test of all sumless agonies.” The sun, surely, though he witnesses our agonies, does not render them greater than they would be had he never seen them. On the contrary, so far from increasing the evils incident to our condition, it serves to soften and meliorate them all. Were we to suffer these “sumless agonies” in the dark, without a solitary ray of sun-shine to cheer us, how much more miserable and insupportable would be our condition. And yet, this Last Man throws out all his venom against the unoffending sun, as if the cause of human misery, because the spectator of it. This is not in accordance with that spirit of humiliation by which the last of men ought to be influenced. It ill accords with that resignation, that piety, that meekness, that forbearance, that charity, that fear and trembling, so strongly recommended to us in the sacred writings, at all times and in all seasons; and, if at any season, surely when nature was making her final exit. This was an awful moment,—not a moment for spleen, or reproach, for pride, or exultation; and yet, the whole is written with a spirit of greater enmity to the sun, than that of Satan. In the fallen angel it was natural in the Last Man it could not be so, unless he were equally fallen : and if Mr. Campbell borrowed the idea of making the Last Man speak in this strain, from Satan's celebrated address to the Sun, and imagined, that as this address is universally allowed to be highly poetic, all similar addresses must be equally so, come from whom they may, we can only tell him, that before he came to this conclusion, he should have asked himself a very simple question, namely, whether any thing can be poetic, that is unnatural? We do not say this on the authority of Pope, where he says, “first follow nature,” because Mr. Campbell may object to his authority, like all other disciples of the romantic school, though, as we have already observed, we think Mr. Campbell does not follow his own taste, in adopting the highflown nonsense of this school, but because no other school will suit the exquisites, who want something to make them “tremble at every pore.” To do this, requires neither sense nor meaning, nor propriety, nor consistency, for all these elements of good writing are almost exploded, or, at least, are going out of fashion. The exquisite cannot suffer dull sense to approach hini. His morning and evening hymn is,
Begone dull sense,
Begone dull sense,
Accordingly, the exquisite in taste (we have nothing to do with the exquisite in dress) is
By fashion's kindly law,
He amuses himself with collecting the straws that float upon the surface, and laughs to scorn those dull creatures who “sink below,” in search of pearls.
We hope it is not necessary for us to shew, that whatever violates reason and nature cannot be poetic? At present, we take it for granted that this will be acceded to us, and continue to take it for granted, until the proposition is disputed. Accordingly, all that is in the romance of the present day, in opposition to either, is not poetry, and, therefore, the strain in which the Last Man addresses the sun, is utterly indefensible. The highest degree of Satanic venom appears couched in the following lines,-the very sound of the words spit venom, and are “an echo to the sense.”
My lips, that speak thy dirge of death,
Proud, last, we hope not lost man ; what a boast it must be to see the “gasp and gurgling” of thy lips. For our parts, instead of boasting of it, we should turn with disgust from the scene; and yet, you imagine it would be a glorious sight for the sun to look upon. On the whole, the pride of this “last of Adam's race," this proud spirit, who represents men as
while he himself defies “the darkening universe,” is of such a character, that we cannot read this production of Mr. Campbell's without pain.
But, had not Mr. Campbell taste or discernment enough to perceive that his Last Man was not in accordance with nature? We say, he had, but he sails with the current of fashion,-a current that takes its course through a very different channel. He saw that, if his Last Man was not natural, he was what moderns call