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Much as we hear of Schools of Authors, there has, properly speaking, been but one in British Literature at least, within this century. There was never, for example, any such thing as a Lake school. A school supposes certain conditions and circumstances which are not to be found among the poets referred to. It supposes, first of all, a common master. Now, the Lake Poets had no common master, either among themselves or others. They owned allegiance neither to Shakspeare, nor Milton, nor Wordsworth. Each stood near, but each stood alone, like the stars composing one of the constellations. A school, again, implies a common creed. But we have no evidence, external or internal, that, though the poetical diction of the Lakers bore a certain resemblance, their poetical creed was identical. Indeed, we are yet to learn that Southey had, of any depth or definitude, a poetical creed at all. A school, again, supposes a similar mode of training. But how different the erratic education of Coleridge, from the slow, solemn, silent degrees by which, without noise of hammer or edge-tool, arose, like the ancient temple, the majestic structure of Wordsworth's mind! A school, besides, implies such strong and striking resemblances as shall serve to overpower the specific differences between the writers who compose it. But we are mistaken if the dissimilarities between Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Southey be not as great as the points in which they agree. Take, for example, the one quality of speculative intellect. That, in the mind of Coleridge, was restless, discontented, and daring -in Wordsworth, still, collected, brooding perpetually over narrow but profound depths-in Southey, almost totally quiescent. The term Lake School, in short, applied at first in derision, has been retained, principally because it is convenient-nay, suggests a pleasing image, and gives both the public and the critics "glimpses, that do make them less forlorn," of the blue peaks of Helvellyn and Skiddaw, and of the blue waters of Derwent and Winder


The Cockney school was, if possible, a misnomer more absurd - striving, as it did, in vain to include, within one term, three spirits so essentially distinct as Hazlitt, Keats, and Leigh Hunt the first a stern metaphysician, who had fallen into a hopeless passion for poetry; the second, the purest specimen of the ideal—a ball of beautiful foam, "cut off from the water," and

not adopted by the air; the third, a fine tricksy medium between the poet and the wit, half a sylph and half an Ariel, now hovering round a lady's curl, and now stirring the fiery tresses of the Sun- a fairy fluctuating link, connecting Pope with Shelley. We need not be at pains to cut out into little stars the Blackwood constellation, or dwell on the differences between a Wilson, a Lockhart, and a James Hogg.

One school, however, there has appeared within the last fifty years, answering to all the characteristics we have enumerated, namely, the Godwin school, who, by a common master-the old man eloquent himself—a common philosophical as well as poetical belief, common training, that of warfare with society, and many specific resemblances in manner and style, are proclaimed to be one. This cluster includes the names of William Godwin, Mary Wollstonecroft, Brockden Brown of America, Shelley, and Mrs. Shelley.

Old Godwin scarcely got justice in this Magazine from Mr. De Quincey. Slow, cumbrous, elephantine as he was, there was always a fine spirit animating his most lumpish movements. He was never contemptible-often commonplace, indeed, but often great. There was much in him of the German cast of mind-the same painful and plodding diligence, added to high imaginative qualities. His great merit at the time-and his great error, as it proved afterwards-lay in wedding a partial philosophic system with the universal truth of fiction. Hence the element which made the public drunk with his merits at first rendered them oblivious afterwards. So dangerous it is to connect fiction (the finer alias of truth) with any dogma or mythus less perishable than the theogony of Homer, or the Catholicism of Cervantes. After all, what was the theory of Godwin, but the masque of Christianity? Cloaking the leading principle of our religion, its disinterested benevolence, under a copy of the features of Helvetius and Volney, he went a mumming with it in the train of the philosophers of the Revolution. But when he approached the domain of actual life and of the human affections, the ugly disguise dropped, and his fictions we hesitate not to characterize as among the noblest illustrations of the Sermon on the Mount. But to the public they seemed the reiterations of exploded and dangerous errors- such a load of prejudice and prepossession had been suspended to their author's

skirts. And now, the excitement of danger and
disgust having passed away from his theories,
interest in the works which propounded them
has also subsided. 'Caleb Williams,' once char-bate.
acterized by Hannah More as a cunning and
popular preparation of the poison which the
Political Justice had contained in a cruder form,
and thereby branded as dangerous, is now for-
gotten, we suspect, by all but a very select class
of circulating library readers. 'St. Leon,'
'Fleetwood,' 'Mandeville,' and 'Clondesley,'
with all their varied merits, never attracted
attention, except through the reflex interest and
terror excited by their author's former works.
Thus political excitement has been at once a
raising and a ruining influence to the writings
of a great English author-ruining, we mean,
at present for the shade of neglect has yet to
be created which can permanently conceal their
sterling and imperishable worth. After the ma-
jority of the writings of Dickens have perished

after one half of Bulwer's, and one fourth of Scott's novels have been forgotten-shall many reflective spirits be found following the fugitive steps of Caleb Williams, or standing by the grave of Marguerite de Damville, or sympathizing with the gloom of Mandeville, or of Bethlem Gabor, as they do well to be angry even unto death. If sincerity, simplicity, depth of thought, purity of sentiment, and power of genius can secure immortality to any productions, it is to the fictions of Godwin.

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her meeting and extinguishing some of Godwin's
objections to her arguments with a light, easy,
playful air. Her fan was a very falchion in de-
Her works-History of the French
Revolution,' 'Wanderer of Norway,' 'Rights
of Women,' &c.-have all perished. Her own
career was chequered and unhappy — her end
was premature she died in childbed of Mrs.
Shelley (like the sun going down to reveal the
evening star); but her name shall live as that of
a deep, majestical, and high-souled woman the
Madame Roland of England - and who could, as
well as she, have paused on her way to the scaf-
fold, and wished for a pen to "record the strange
thoughts that were arising in her mind." Peace
to her ashes! How consoling to think that those
who in life were restless and unhappy, sleep the
sleep of death as soundly as others
- nay, seem
to sleep more soundly—to be hushed by a softer
lullaby, and surrounded by a profounder peace,
than the ordinary tenants of the grave. Yes,
sweeter, deeper, and longer is the repose of the
truant child, after his day of wandering is over,
and the night of his rest is come.

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Another "Wanderer o'er Eternity" was Brockden Brown, the Godwin of America. And worse for him, he was a wanderer, not from, but among men. For Cain of old, it was a relief to go forth from his species into the virgin empty earth. The builders of the Tower of Babel must have rejoiced as they saw the summit of their abortive building sinking down in the level plain; they fled from it as a stony silent satire on their baffled ambition, and as a memorial of the confusion of their speech-it scourged them forth into the wilderness, where they found peace and oblivion. A self-exiled Byron or Landor is rather to be envied; for though "how can your wanderer escape from his own shadow?" yet it is much if that shadow sweep forests and cataracts, fall large at morning or evening upon Alps and Appenines, or swell into the Demon of the Brockan. In this case misery takes a prouder, loftier shape, and mounts a burning throne. But a man like Brockden Brown, forced to carry his incommunicable sorrow into the press and thick of human society, nay, to coin it into the means of procuring daily bread, he is the true hero, even though he should fall in the struggle. To carry one's misery to market, and sell it to the highest bidder, what a necessity for a proud and sensitive spirit! Assuredly Brown was a brave struggler, if not a successful one. Amid poverty, neglect, noncre-appreciation, hard labor, and the thousand nïaiseries of the crude country which America then was, he retained his integrity; he wrote on at what Godwin calls his "story books;" he sought inspiration from his own gloomy woods and silent

Mary Wollstonecroft -since we saw her countenance prefixed to her husband's Memoirface so sweet, so spiritual, so far withdrawn from earthly thoughts, steeped in an enthusiasm so genuine- we have ceased to wonder at the passionate attachment of Southey, Fuseli, and Godwin to the gifted being who bore it. It is the most feminine countenance we ever saw in picture. The 'Rights of Women' seem in it melted down into one deliquium of love. Fuseli once, when asked if he believed in the immortality of the soul, replied in language rather too rough to be quoted verbatim, "I don't know if you have a soul, but I am sure that I have." We are certain that he believed in the existence of at least one other immortal spirit—that of the owner of the still, serene, and wrapt countenance on which he hopelessly doted. It is curious that on the first meeting of Godwin and his future wife, they "inter-despised"- they recoiled from each other, like two enemies suddenly meeting on the street, and it required much after-intercourse to reconcile them, and ultimately to ate that passion which led to their union.

Mary Wollstonecroft shone most in conversation. From this to composition she seemed to descend as from a throne. Coleridge describes

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icals (witness the present number of the North British Review,) extend to the memory of this most sincere, spiritual, and unearthly of modern men. It is to us a proud reflection, that for at least seventeen years our opinion of him has remained unaltered.

fields; and his works appear, amid what are | tenderness which the most evangelical periodcalled "standard novels," like tall wind-swept American pines amid shrubbery and brushwood. His name, after his untimely death, (at the age of thirty-nine) was returned upon his ungrateful country-from Britain, where his writings first attained eminent distinction, while even yet Americans, generally, prefer the adventure and bustle of Cooper to the stern Dante-like simplicity, the philosophical spirit, and the harrowing and ghost-like interest of Brown.

Of Shelley, having spoken so often, what more can we say? He seems to us as though the most beautiful of beings had been struck blind. Mr. De Quincey, in unconscious plagiarism from another, compares him to a "lunatic angel." But perhaps his disease might be better denominated blindness. It was not because he saw falsely, but, as if seeing and delaying to worship the glory of Christ and his religion, that delay was punished by a swift and sudden darkness. Imagine the Apollo Belvidere, animated and fleshed, all his dream-like loveliness of form retained, but his eyes remaining shut! Thus blind and beautiful stood Shelley on his pedestal, or went wandering, an inspired sleep-walker, among his fellows, who, alas, not seeing his melancholy plight, struck and spurned, instead of gently and soothingly trying to lead him into the right path. We still think, notwithstanding Mr. De Quincey's eloquent strictures in reply, that if pity and kind-hearted expostulation had been employed, they might have had the effect, if not of weaning him from his errors, at least of modifying his expressions and feelings-if not of opening his eyes, at least of rendering him more patient and hopeful under his eclipse. What but a partial clouding of his mind could have prompted such a question as he asked upon the following occasion? Haydon, the painter, met him once at a large dinner party in London. During the course of the entertainment, a thin, cracked, shrieking voice was heard from the one end of the table, "you don't believe, do you, Mr. Haydon, in that execrable thing, Christianity?" The voice was poor Shelley's, who could not be at rest with any new acquaintance till he ascertained his impressions on that one topic.

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Poets, perhaps all men, best understand themselves. Thus no word so true has been spoken of Shelley, as where he says of himself, that adamantine veil was built up between his mind and heart." His intellect led him in one direction the true impulses of his heart in another. The one was with Spinoza-the other with John. The controversy raged between them like fire, and even at death was not decided. We rejoice, in contrast with the brutal treatment he met with while living, to notice the

It is not at all to be wondered at, that two such spirits as Shelley and Mary Godwin, when they met, should become instantly attached. On his own doctrine of a state of pre-existence, we might say that the marriage had been determined long before, while yet the souls were waiting in the great antenatal antechamber! They met at last, like two drops of water — like two flames of fire-like two beautiful clouds which have crossed the moon, the sky and all its stars, to hold their midnight assignation over a favorite and lonely river. Mary Godwin was an enthusiast from her childhood. She passed, by her own account, part of her youth at Broughty Ferry, in sweet and sinless reverie, among its cliffs. The place is, to us, familiar. It possesses some fine features-a bold promontory crowned with an ancient castle jutting far out the Tay, which here broadens into an arm of the ocean -a beach, in part smooth with sand, and in part paved with pebbles - cottages lying artlessly along the shore, clean, as if washed by the near sea- sandy hillocks rising behind - and westward, the river, like an inland lake, stretching around Dundee, with its fine. harbour and its surmounting Lawn, which, in its turn, is surmounted by the far blue shapes of the gigantic Stuicknachroan and Benvoirlich. Did the bay of Spezia ever suggest to Mrs. Shelley's mind the features of the Scottish scene? That scene, seen so often, seldom fails to bring before us her image—the child, and soon to be the bride, of genius. Was she ever, like Mirza, overheard in her soliloquies, and did she bear the shame, accordingly, in blushes which still rekindle at the recollection? Did the rude fishermen of the place deem her wondrous wise, or did they deem her mad, with her wandering eye, her wrapt and gleaming countenance, her light step moving to the music of her maiden meditation? The smooth sand retains no trace of her young feet-to the present race she is altogether unknown; but we have more than once seen the man, and the lover of genius, turn round and look at the spot, with warmer interest, and with brightening eye, as we told them that she had been there.

We have spoken of Mrs. Shelley's similarity in genius to her husband-we by no means think her his equal. She has not his subtlety, swiftness, wealth of imagination, and is never caught up (like Ezekiel by his lock of hair) into

the same rushing whirlwind of inspiration. She | talent. Strong, clear description of the gloomier has much, however, of his imaginative and of his scenes of nature, or the darker passions of the speculative qualities — her tendency, like his, is mind, or of those supernatural objects which her to the romantic, the ethereal, and the terrible. fancy, except in her first work, somewhat laboThe tie detaining her, as well as him, to theriously creates, is her forte. Hence her repuearth, is slender-her protest against society is tation still rests upon Frankenstein;' for her his, copied out in a fine female hand- her style Last Man,' 'Perkin Warbeck,' &c., are far is carefully and successfully modelled upon his inferior, if not entirely unworthy of her talents. - she bears, in brief, to him, the resemblance She unquestionably made him; but, like a mule which Laone did to Laon, which Astarte did to or a monster, he has had no progeny. Manfred. Perhaps, indeed, intercourse with a being so peculiar, that those who came in contact with, either withdrew from him in hatred, or fell into the current of his being; vanquished and enthralled, has somewhat affected the originality, and narrowed the extent of her own genius. Indian widows used to fling themselves upon the funeral pyre of their husbands: she has thrown upon that of hers her mode of thought, her mould of style, her creed, her heart, her all. Her admiration of Shelley was, and is, an idolatry. Can we wonder at it? Separated from him in the prime of life, with all his faculties in the finest bloom of promise, with peace beginning to build in the crevices of his torn heart, and with fame hovering ere it stooped upon his head-separated, too, in circumstances so sudden and cruel-can we be astonished that from the wounds of love came forth the blood of worship and sacrifice? Wordsworth speaks of himself as feeling for

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"The Old Sea some reverential fear." But in the mind of "Mary" there must lurk a feeling of a still stronger kind toward that element which he, next to herself, had of all things most passionately loved — which he trusted as a parent to which he exposed himself, defenceless (he could not swim, he could only soar) — which he had sung in many a strain of matchless sweetness, but which betrayed and destroyed him-how can she, without horror, hear the boom of its waves, or look without a shudder, either at its stormy or its smiling countenance? What a picture she presents to our imagination, running with dishevelled hair, along the seashore, questioning all she met if they could tell her of her husband-nay, shrieking out the dreadful question to the surges, which, like a dumb murderer, had done the deed, but could not utter the confession!

Mrs. Shelley's genius, though true and powerful, is monotonous and circumscribed more so than even her father's—and, in this point, presents a strong contrast to her husband's, which could run along every note of the gamut-be witty or wild, satirical or sentimental, didactic or dramatic, epic or lyrical, as it pleased him. She has no wit, nor humor- little dramatic

Can any one have forgot the interesting account she gives of her first conception of that extraordinary story, when she had retired to rest, her fancy heated by hearing ghost tales; and when the whole circumstances of the story appeared at once before her eye, as in a camera obscura? It is ever thus, we imagine, that truly original conceptions are produced. They are cast- not wrought. They come as wholes, and not in parts. It was thus that Tam o' Shanter completed, along Burns' mind, his weird and tipsy gallop in a single hour. Thus Coleridge composed the outline of his 'Ancient Marinere,' in one evening walk near Nether Stowey. So rapidly rose Frankenstein,' which, as Moore well remarks, has been one of those striking conceptions which take hold of the public mind at once and for ever.

The theme is morbid and disgusting enough. The story is that of one who finds out the principle of life, constructs a monstrous being, who, because his Maker fails in forming a female companion to him, ultimately murders the dearest friend of his benefactor, and, in remorse and despair, disappears amid the eternal snows of the North Pole. Nothing more preposterous than the meagre outline of the story exists in literature. But Mrs. Shelley deserves great credit, nevertheless. In the first place, she has succeeded in her delineation; she has painted this shapeless being upon the imagination of the world for ever; and beside Caliban, and Hecate, and Death in Life, and all other weird and gloomy creations, this nameless, unfortunate, involuntary, gigantic unit stands. To succeed in an attempt so daring, proves at once the power of the author, and a certain value even in the original conception. To keep verging perpetually on the limit of the absurd, and to produce the while all the effects of the sublime, this takes and tasks very high faculties indeed. Occasionally, we admit, she does overstep the mark. Thus the whole scene of the monster's education in the cottage, his overhearing the reading of the Paradise Lost,' the 'Sorrows of Werter,' &c., and in this way acquiring knowledge and refined sentiments, seems unspeakably ridiculous. A Caco-demon weeping in concert with Eve or Werter is too ludicrous an idea- as absurd as

though he had been represented as boarded at Capsicum Hall. But it is wonderful how delicately and gracefully Mrs. Shelley has managed the whole prodigious business. She touches pitch with a lady's glove, and is not defiled. From a whole forest of the "nettle danger" she extracts a sweet and plentiful supply of the "flower safety." With a fine female footing, she preserves the narrow path which divides the terrible from the disgusting. She unites, not in a junction of words alone, but in effect, the "horribly beautiful." Her monster is not only as Caliban appeared to Trinculo-a very pretty monster-but somewhat poetical and pathetic withal. You almost weep for him in his utter insulation. Alone! dread word, though it were to be alone in heaven! Alone! word hardly more dreadful if it were to be alone in hell!

"Alone, all, all alone,

Alone on a wide, wide sea;
And never a saint took pity on
My soul in agony."

Thus wrapt around by his loneliness, as by a silent burning chain, does this gigantic creature run through the world, like a lion that has lost his mate, in a forest of fire, seeking for his kindred being, but seeking for ever in vain.

He is not only alone, but alone because he has no being like him throughout the whole universe. What a solitude within a solitude! solitude comparable only to that of the Alchemist in St. Leon, when he buries his last tie to humanity in his wife's grave, and goes on his way, "friendless, friendless, alone, alone."

What a scene is the process of his creation, and especially the hour when he first began to breathe, to open his ill-favored eyes, and to stretch his ill-shapen arms, toward his terrified author, who, for the first time, becomes aware of the enormity of the mistake he has committed; who has had a giant's strength, and used it tyrannously like a giant, and who shudders and shrinks back from his own horrible handiwork! It is a type, whether intended or not, of the fate of genius, whenever it dares either to revile, or to resist, the common laws and obligations, and conditions of man and the universe. Better, better far be blasted with the lightnings of heaven, than by the recoil, upon one's own head, of one false, homeless, returning, revenging thought.

Scarcely second to her description of the moment when, at midnight, and under the light of a waning moon, the monster was born, is his sudden apparition upon a glacier among the high Alps. This scene strikes us the more, as it seems the fulfilment of a fear which all have felt, who have found themselves alone among

such desolate regions. Who has not at times trembled lest those ghastlier and drearier places of nature, which abound in our own Highlands, should bear a different progeny from the ptarmigan, the sheep, the raven, or the eagle-lest the mountain should suddenly crown itself with a Titanic spectre, and the mist, disparting, reveal demoniac forms, and the lonely moor, discover its ugly dwarf, as if dropped down from the overhanging thunder-cloud- and the forest of pines show unearthly shapes sailing among their shades and the cataract overboil with its own wild creations? Thus fitly, amid scenery like that of some dream of nightmare, on a glacier as on a throne, stands up before the eye of his own maker, the miscreation, and he cries out,

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"Whence and what art thou, execrable shape?"

In darkness and distance, at last, the being disappears, and the imagination dares hardly pursue him as he passes amid those congenial shapes of colossal size, terror, and mystery, which we fancy to haunt those outskirts of existence, with, behind them at midnight, "all Europe and Asia fast asleep, and before them the silent immensity and Palace of the Eternal, to which our sun is but a porch-lamp."

Altogether, the work is wonderful as the work of a girl of eighteen. She has never since fully equalled or approached its power, nor do we ever expect that she shall. One distinct addition to our original creations must be conceded her and it is no little praise; for there are few writers of fiction who have done so much out of Germany. What are they, in this respect, to our painters to Fuseli, with his quaint brain, so prodigal of unearthly shapes

to John Martin, who has created over his head a whole dark, frowning, but magnificent world—or to David Scott, our own most cherished friend, in whose studio, while standing surrounded by pictured poems of such startling originality, such austere selection of theme, and such solemn dignity of treatment (forgetting not himself, the grave, mild, quiet, shadowy enthusiast, with his slow, deep, sepulchral tones), you are almost tempted to exclaim, "How dreadful is this place!"

Of one promised and anticipated task we must, ere we close, respectfully remind Mrs. Shelley; it is of the life of her husband. That, even after Captain Medwyn's recent work, has evidently yet to be written. No hand but hers can write it well. Critics may anatomize his qualities- she only can paint his likeness. In proclaiming his praise, exaggeration in her will be pardoned; and in unveiling his faults, ten

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