« iepriekšējāTurpināt »
THE following piece was written, partly to vary the hours of imprisonment and ill health, partly to indulge the imagination of the author during a season of public joy when he could realize no sights for himself, and chiefly to express the feelings of hope and delight, with which every enthusiastic lover of freedom must have witnessed the downfall of the great Apostate from Liberty. The romantic nature of the circumstances, which led to and accompanied that striking event, rendered a political allusion more
than ordinarily susceptible of poetry; and it was the production of some verses at the moment, which unconsciously assuming something of a dramatic air, suggested the composition of a larger piece on the subject. They are subjoined, on this account, at the end of the succeeding article upon Masks.
The author was aware, at the same time, that whatever might be the case at present, allusions to public matters, of however extraordinary a description, might soon become an unpleasant tax on a number of readers, who in proportion as they are fond of poetry are averse from politics, or at least, whenever they come to the one, chuse to be abstracted and wrapped up from the other. It seems like bringing the bustle of the world into their still walks and leafy retirements.
has endeavoured therefore to render the fancy and imagery so predominant, with touches of the human affections here and there, that even those who might wish to meet with no politics at all, may not be unwilling to encounter him for the sake of his poetry. In the whole of the more regular part, for instance, the allusion renders the subject little different from a mere tale of enchantment; the commencement of the second scene where the Shepherds describe the mist that suddenly crossed them, may be construed or not, as the reader pleases, into an allusion to Napoleon's arts in blinding his subjects; and the family meeting in the third scene, after the fairy preparations, is entirely of a domestic nature.
In taking for the ground-work of his pro
duction an allusion to the overthrow of that reckless chieftain, and introducing with their laurels the presiding Spirits of the kingdoms arrayed against him, the author must be understood as not intending to confer praise on any idle character that may have been ludicrously flattered into the notion of it's having played the part of a counter-genius. This were to reverse the fable of the frog and the ox with tenfold caricature, and to represent the sturdy animal as absolutely falling down under a sense of the reptile's superiority. Let such of Bonaparte's enemies as had other qualities besides force to bring against him, receive their due reputation; it is the popular Spirit, after all, that had the main hand in the business; and this is the spirit, of which the national Genii, in the piece before us, are chiefly
the representatives;-but to talk, as a straggling sycophant here and there has done, of certain persons and their overthrow of Napoleon, is to ascribe victory to the trumpeter's tassels, or to find out a predominant connexion between a fop's whisper in London and the sweeping of an army of locusts into the Red Sea. When Archimedes in his closet confounded the Roman armaments, he was at other work than drinking and lying in bed. It is with great loathing the author admits an allusion to these matters into a place like the present; but he does it for the admonition of those, who forgetting that the very feelings which lead him sincerely to admire liberty, must preserve him from their own slavish inconsistencies, might take occasion from the tenour of the following piece to represent his panegyric