Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

might do more for the cause he has at strongest manner, to the perusal of our heart, the cause of Christianity, than readers. To Dr Chalmers we would any other person with whom we are, earnestly recommend, in his future acquainted.

productions, to avoid that eccentric The principal object of the dis- phraseology, and that occasional uncourses in the present volume is to couthness and vulgarity of expression, prepare the mind for the direct evin which cannot but counteract, in a very dence of Christianity—to do away that considerable degree, the effect of his presumption which is supposed to existenthusiastic and touching eloquence. a priori against this astonishing dise His object is a style “ adapted to the pensation to shew the infidel that taste and literature of the times ;" and there are things in nature hardly less the common defence of popular theowonderful than the redemption of man logians, that they write to impress the --and that, amazing as is the scheme heart and the understanding, and not of revelation, it is yet in perfect ana- to sooth or gratify a fastidious taste, logy with the known attributes of God. will not avail Dr Chalmers, who writes Men of science, who see the opera- expressly for the literary world, and tions of nature conducted according to who must be sensible that it cannot uniform laws, and without the visible benefit his cause to appear before them interference of an external agent, are with those very blemishes which are apt to take up a prepossession against most revolting to their peculiar habits any system of miracles; and when and associations. philosophy unfolds the volume of cre- Upon the whole, we are convinced ation, and the understanding expatiates that the effect of these discourses must delighted on the laws and motions. be great and salutary. They will tend of planetary worlds, it is natural for to shew the worshippers of reason and us to imagine that science has out- of science, that Christianity is in reality stript the discoveries of religion, and something transcendently sublime, inthat the records of the gospel are teresting, and valuable; and to conthrown into the shade by the triumphs vince the world in general that a warm of reason. These are the prejudices and habitual piety is really one of the which lie at the foundation of natural characteristics of superior minds, while science ;” and our author has exposed scepticism arises from an incapacity of them with an ability and a success profound emotion or grand conception. scarcely inferior to that of Butler him- if the world were once convinced of self, and in a manner certainly “ bet- this, the associations of the young and ter adapted to the taste and literature the gay would no longer interest them of the times.” He shews, that the in favour of infidelity. Religion would faith of Christians is in reality some- become again universally loved, honthing noble and sublime; and that, oured, and practised; and the English “ elevated as the wisdom of him may character, instead of being gradually be, who has ascended the heights of degraded to the diminutive model science, and poured the light of de- which is held out by the most flippant monstration over the most wondrous and unprincipled of our neighbours, of nature's mysteries—that even out would probably revert with unexpected of his own principles it may be proved, celerity to its ancient style of grandeur how much more elevated is the wisdom and simplicity. It is only necessary of him who sits with the docility of a that genius, which has been so long enlittle child to his Bible, and casts down listed, throughout all Europe, on the to its authority all his lofty imagina- side of infidelity, should again rouse tions."

itself in the cause of religion, to accomThe limits of a publication of this plish so desirable a revolution in the kind prevent us from entering into a opinions and character of men.

If a minute examination of the work before few great and original minds, like that us; and as we are sensible that we of Dr Chalmers, should arise to advocould do no justice to an analysis of cate the cause of Christianity, it would these discourses, without allotting to no longer be the fashion to exalt the it a greater space than is consistent triumphs of reason and of science, in with the plan of our publication, we order to throw contempt on the disshall conclude these general hints by coveries of the gospel. recommending the volume, in the

Harold the Dauntless ; à Poem. By demi-tints, possessing much of the

the Author of The Bridal of Trierlustre, freshness, and spirit of Rem. main." 1817, Constable & Co. pp. brandt. The airs of his heads have 200.

grace, and his distances something of This is an elegant, sprightly, and the lightness and keeping of Salvator delightful little poem, written appar- Rosa. The want of harmony and ently by a person of taste and genius, union in the carnations of his females, but who either possesses not the art is a slight objection, and there is like of forming and combining a plot, or wise a meagre

sheetiness in his contrasts regards it only as a secondary and sub- of chiaroscuro; but these are all re, ordinate object. In this we do not deemed by the felicity, execution, and widely differ from him, but are sensi- master traits, distinguishable in his ble meantime, that many others will ; grouping, by which, like Murillo or and that the rambling and uncertain Carraveggio, he sometimes raises from nature of the story, will be the prin- out the rubbish masses of a colossal cipal objection urged against the poem trifle." before us, as well as the greatest bar But the work has another quality ; to its extensive popularity. The char- and though its leading one, we do acter of Mr Scott's romances has ef- not know whether to censure or apfected a material change in our mode prove it. It is an avowed imitation, of estimating poetical compositions. and therefore loses part of its value, In all the estimable works of our if viewed as an original production, former poets, from Spencer down to On the other hand, regarded solely Thomson and Cowper, the plot seems as an imitation, it is one of the closest to have been regarded only as good or and most successful, without being bad, in proportion to the advantages either a caricature or a parody, that which it furnished for poetical descrip- perhaps ever appeared in any lantion ; but of late years, one half, at guage. Not only is the general manleast, of the merit of a poem is sup- ner of Scott ably maintained throughposed to rest on the interest and man- put, but the very structure of the agement of the tale.

language, the associations, and the We speak not exclusively of that train of thinking, appear to be prenumerous class of readers, who peruse cisely the same. It was once alleged and estimate a new poem, or any poem, by some writers, that it was impossiwith the same feelings and precisely ble to imitate Mr Scott's style, but on the same principles as they do a it is now fully proved to the world, novel. It is natural for such persons that there is no style more accessible to judge only by the effect produced to imitation ; for it will be remarked, by the incidents ; but we have often (laying parodies aside, which any one been surprised that some of our literary may execute), that Mr Davidson and critics, even those to whose judgment Miss Holford, as well as Lord Byron we were most disposed to bow, should and Wordsworth, each in one instance, lay so much stress on the probability have all, without, we believe, intendand fitness of every incident which ing it, imitated him with considerable the fancy of the poet may lead him to closeness. The author of the Poetic embellish in the course of a narrative Mirror has given us one specimen of poem, a great proportion of which his most polished and tender style, must necessarily be descriptive. The and another still more close of his author of Harold the Dauntless seems rapid and careless manner; but all of to have judged differently from these them fall greatly short of The Bridal critics, and in the lightsome rapid of Triermain, and the poem now before strain of poetry which he has chosen, us. We are sure the author will laugh we feel no disposition to quarrel with heartily in his sleeve, at our silliness him on account of the easy and care- and want of perception, when we cons less manner in which he has arranged fess to him that we never could open his story. In many instances, he un- either of these works, and peruse his doubtedly shows the hand of a mas- pages for two minutes with attention, ter, and (as the director-general of our and at the same time divest our minds artists would say,) " has truly studied of the idea, that we were engaged in and seized the essential character of an early or experimental work of that the antique his attitudes and drape- great master. That they are generally ries are unconfined, and yaried with inferior to the works of Mir Scott, in vigour and interest, admits not of dis That, like a silvery crape, was spread pute; still they have many of his wild Round Skiddaw's

dim and distant head.' and softer beauties; and if they fail

_ What time, or where to be read and admired, we shall not on that account think the better of the Did she pass, that maid with the heavenly

brow, taste of the age.

With her look so sweet, and her eyes so fair, With regard to the former of these And her graceful step, and her angel air, poems, we have often heard, from And the eagle-plume on her dark brown hair, what may be deemed good authority, That pass’d from my bower e'en now ?' a very curious anecdote, which we shall give merely as such, without Although it fell as faint and shy vouching for the truth of it. When As bashful maiden's half-formed sigh,

When she thinks her lover near.' the article entitled The Inferno of Altisidora,' appeared in the Edinburgh

And light they fell, as when earth receives, Annual Register for 1809, it will be In morn of frost, the withered leaves remembered, that the last fragment That drop when no winds blow.' contained in that singular production, is the beginning of the romance of Or if 'twas but an airy thing, Triermain. Report says, that the Such as fantastic slumbers bring, fragment was not meant to be un imi- Framed from the rainbow's varying dyes, tation of Scott but of Coleridge ; and Or fading tints of western skies. that for this purpose the author bor- These, it will be seen, are not exrowed both the name of the hero and actly Coleridge, but they are precisely the scene from the then unpublished such an imitation of Coleridge as, we poem of Christabelle; and further - conceive, another poet of our acquaintthat so few had ever seen the manu- ance would write: on that ground, script of that poem, that_amongst we are inclined to give some credit to these few the author of Triermain the anecdote here related, and from it could not be mistaken. Be that as we leave our readers to guess, as we it may, it is well known, that on the have done, who is the author of the appearance of this fragment in the poems in question. Annual Register, it was universally It may be argued by the capricious, taken for an imitation of Walter Scott, and those of slow-motioned souls, that and never once of Coleridge. The au- this proves nothing; but we assure thor perceiving this, and that the poem them it proves all that we intend or was well received, instantly set about desire to have proved; for we think drawing it out into a regular and the present mode of endeavouring to finished work; for shortly after, it puzzle people's brains about the auwas announced in the papers, and con- thors of every work that appears extinued to be so for three long years; tremely amusing. It has likewise a the author, as may be supposed, have very beneficial and delightful conseing, during that period, his hands oc- quence, in as much as it makes many casionally occupied with heavier metal. persons to be regarded as great auIn 1813 the poem was at last pro- thors, and looked up to as extraordi. duced, avowedly and manifestly as an nary characters, who otherwise would imitation of Mr Scott; and it may never have been distinguished in the easily be observed, that from the 27th slightest degree from their fellows, page onward, it becomes much more We shall only say, once for all, that decidedly like the manner of that whenever we are admitted behind the poet than it is in the preceding part curtain, we shall never blab the secrets which was published in the Register, of the green-room, for we think there and which undoubtedly does bear some is neither honour nor discretion in so similarity to Coleridge in the poetry, doing ; but when things are left for and more especially in the rythm,-as, us to guess at, we may sometimes

blunder on facts that will astonish

these mist-enveloped authors, as well Harpers must lull him to his rest,

as their unfathomable printer, who we With the slow tunes he loves the best, Till sleep sink down upon his breast,

think may soon adopt for a sign-board Like the dew on a summer hill.'

or motto, Mr Murray's very appro

priate and often-repeated postscript• It was the dawn of an autumn day,

it No admittance behind the scenes, The sun was struggling with frost-fog gray, And, at all events, if we should some.

7

eg:

times mistake, it will only be produc- will shew how extremely it is like to tive of a little more amusement in the the manner of Scott. discussion of the literary capabilities A professed imitator will not, we of some new individuals, with their presume, value himself much on his styles and manners, even down to the pretensions to originality, else we might composition of a law paper.

perhaps give the author some offence We cannot give long extracts from by remarking, that the demeanour of every work which we propose to no- Harold in the fane of St Cuthbert, tice, but we have no hesitation in too like that of Wat o' the Cleuch saying, that the poem of Harold is in Jedburgh abbey, to be viewed as throughout easy and flowing; never purely incidental ; and it is not a little tame, and often exhibits great spirit. singular, that he should have judged But it is apparent that the author had it meet to borrow from another imitano plan in going on, farther than the tor, who, in that style and instance, very affected and unnatural one, now so decidedly his inferior. rendered trite by repetition, of making We shall only add, that Harold the his hero wed his page, who turns out Dauntless is a fit and reputable comto be a lady in disguise. All the rest panion to Triermain. The poetry is of the poem seems to run on at mere more equal, and has more of nature random. The introduction begins and human character; yet when duly with the following stanzas.

perused and reflected on, it scarcely “There is a mood of mind we all have known, leaves on the mind, perhaps, so disOn drowsy eve, or dark and low'ring day, tinct and powerful an impression. When the tired spirits lose their sprightly tone,

Armata. A Fragment. London, Mure And nought can chace the lingering hours

ray, 1817. pp. 210. away,

It is a remarkable fact, that no crisis Dull on our soul falls Fancy's dazzling ray,

of our political existence, during the And. Wisdom holds his steadier torch in vain, Obscured the painting seems, mistuned the

last half-century, has called forth so

few of our pamphleteer speculators on lay, Nor dare we of our listless load complain,

statistics as the present;-when the For who for sympathy may seek that cannot unexampled difficulties which have optell of pain !

pressed our agriculture, our manufacEnnui !-or, as our mothers call'd thee, tures, and our commerce,-difficulties Spleen!

from whose operation no one amongst To thee we owe full many a rare device ;- us has been exempt, and whose extent Thine is the sheaf of painted cards, I ween, no one amongst us can define, present The rolling billiard-ball, the rattling dice,

so wide a field to our soi-disant philoThe turning lathefor framing gimcrack nicę; sophers and statesmen. Whether this The amateur's blotch'd pallet thou may’st silence be owing to a want of ability,

claim, Retort and airpump, threatening frogs and

or a want of inclination to encounter a mice,

subject of such magnitude, it is not now (Murders disguised by philosophic name,) our business to determine. Two plans, And much of trifling grave, and much of however, have been brought forward, buxom game.

which we are assured will relieve us Then of the books to catch thy drowsy glance from all our embarrassments. Major Compiled, what bard the catalogue may quote! Cartwright prescribes for us universal Plays, poems, novels, never read but once;

suffrage and annual parliaments, while But not of such the tale fair Edgeworth wrote,

a distinguished member of the LegisThat bears thy name, and is thine antidote ; And not of such the strain my Thomson sung, pectation, that our farmers and our

lature is not less sanguine in his exDelicious dreams inspiring by his note, What time to Indolence his harp he strung ;

manufactures will find a remedy for Oh! might my lay be rank'd that happier all their distresses in—the plains of list among !”

South America ! The subject having The dry humour, and sort of half been thus neglected, it was with not Spenserian cast of these, as well as less pleasure than surprise, that on all the other introductory stanzas in reading the tract before us, we found the poem, we think excellent, and that the author,-whoever he be-descarcely outdone by any thing of the velopes in a masterly manner the causes kind that we know of; and there are which have brought us into our prefew parts, taken separately, that have sent alarming situation, and explains not something attractive to the lover the measures which, he thinks, ought to of natural poetry, while any one page be adopted to work out our deliverance.

It will be doubtless, he asked, how space in the political world during the it is that such subjects should be treat- last thirty years; and although in the ed of under the title of ARMATA ?- second edition of Armata, which is and it is therefore necessary that we now before us, the author does not should inform our readers that ARMA- avow himself, yet, as it is a work which Ta is the name of a country placed by even the eminent person alluded to the author in an imaginary world ; in might be proud to acknowledge, and as depicting which country, he gives a it speaks the same sentiments, which most eloquent and animated descrip- he has always maintained, we are intion of the policy of Great Britain, clined to give credit to the rumour tracing the history of her distresses which has named him the author of from the beginning of the contest with this spirited and able performance. America downwards, through the revolutionary war with France to the Stories for Children; selected from present day. How far it was neces- the History of England, from the sary to resort to a new world, in order Conquest to the Revolution. 18mo. to find a vehicle for the conveyance of pp. 186. 1817. Second edition, Lon. his ideas on the distresses of Great don, Murray. Britain, may be matter of doubt; but PARTIAL as we confess ourselves to be that as it may, the author has disa be to the pleasing recollections of our played, in the investigation of the early years, we must admit that the question, deep knowledge of the sub- little folks of this generation have ject, and has discussed it in a style of many advantages which we did not brilliant eloquence, tempered, how. enjoy. The juvenile library of our ever, with a degree of moderation, too day was of limited extent; and though seldom witnessed in works on the amply furnished with Mother Bunch, political topics of the present day. The &c. it could not boast of the admirfollowing character of Mr Fox, is a able productions of a Mrs Barbauld, a fair specimen of the author's powers Miss Edgeworth, and a number of of writing.

other eminent writers who have not

disdained the humble, but most useful, “ My confidence in this opinion is the task of teaching “ the young idea how more unshaken, from the recollection that I held it at the very time, in common with

to shoot.”. The manner in which a man whom, to have known as I did, these meritorious authors have comwould have repaid all the toils and perils bined instruction with entertainment, you have undergone. I look upon you, in- we consider as one of the great imdeed, as a benighted traveller, to have been provements of modern times. Hiscast upon our shores after this great light tory is now rendered “as attractive were set.--Never was a being gifted with an

as a fairy tale," and our little masunderstanding so perfect, nor aided by a perception which suffered nothing to escape the characters of real life as their pre

ters and misses may be as familiar with from its dominion. He was never known to omit any thing which in the slightest de- decessors were with Blue Beard and gree could affect the matter to be considered, Little Red Riding Hood. nor to confound things at all distinguish. We have been particularly gratified able, however apparently the same; and with the little book which has given his conclusions were always so luminous and rise to these reflections. The author convincing, that you might as firmly de- has expressed so shortly, and so well, pend upon them as when substances in na- the reasons which led him to compose ture lie before you in the palpable forms assigned to them from the foundation of the charming stories for his own family, world. Such were his qualifications for the and induced him to favour the worlá office of a statesman ; and his profound with them, that we think our readers knowledge, always under the guidance of the will be pleased to see them in his own sublime simplicity of his heart, softening, words. without unnerving the giant strength of his · Every person has, I suppose, felt the intellect, gave a character to his eloquence difficulty of paying the contribution of stories which I shall not attempt to describe, know- which children are so anxious to levy. I ing nothing by which it may be compared." happen to have one little girl whose curipp. 86–88.

osity and shrewdness have frequently emIt has been said, and we believe led to inquiries which it was not easy to

barrassed me; I have found that fictions without having been contradicted, that satisfy, and that supernatural fictions (such this work is the production of a very as fairy tales) vitiated the young taste, and eloquent and distinguished member of disgusted it from its more substantial nourthe Legislature, who has filled a large ishment, while the fictions of common life,

« ПредишнаНапред »