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venturer, and afford him a taste of unmingled pleasure at the entrance of his perilous journey. Now they are full of wit, satire, and pungent remark—touching familiarly on the profoundest questions of philosophy as on the lightest varieties of manners—sometimes overthrowing a system with a joke, and destroying a reputation in the best humour in the world. One magazine—the Gentleman's—almost alone retains "the homely beauty of the good old cause," in pristine simplicity of style. This periodical work is worthy of its title. Its very dulness is agreeable to us. It is as destitute of sprightliness and of gall as in the first of its years. Its antiquarian disquisitions are very pleasant, giving us the feeling of sentiment without seeming to obtrude it on us, or to be designed for a display of the peculiar sensibility of their authors. We would not on any account lose the veteran Mr. Urban—though he will not, of course, suffice as a substitute for his juvenile competitors—but we heartily wish that he may go flourishing on in his green old age and honest selfcomplacency, to tell old stories, and remind us of old times, undisturbed by his gamesome and ambitious progeny!
Yet we must turn from his gentle work to gaze on the bright Aurora Borealis, the new and ever-varying Northern Light—Blackwood's Magazine. We remember no work of which so much might be truly said, both in censure and in eulogy—no work, at some times so profound, and at others so trifling—one moment so instinct with noble indignation, the next so pitifully falling into the errors it had denounced—in one page breathing the deepest and the kindliest spirit of criticism, in another condescending to give currency to the lowest calumnies. The air of young life— the exuberance both of talent and of animal spirits—whicli this work indicates, will excuse much of that wantonness which evidently arises from the fresh spirit of hope and of joy. But there are some of its excesses which nothing can palliate, which can be attributed to nothing but malignant passions, or to the baser desire of extending its sale. Less censurable, but scarcely less productive of unpleasant results, is its practice of dragging the peculiarities, the conversation, and domestic habits of distinguished individuals into public view, to gratify a diseased curiosity at the expense of men by whom its authors have been trusted. Such a course, if largely followed would destroy all that is private and social in life, and leave us nothing but our public existence. How must the joyous intercourses of society be chilled, and the free unbosoming of the soul be checked, by the feeling that some one is present who will put down every look and word and tone in a note-book, and exhibit them to the common gaze! If the enshading sanctities of life are to be cut away as in Peter's Letters, or in the Letters from the .Lakes—its joys will speedily perish. When they can no longer nestle in privacy, they will wither. We cannot however refuse to Blackwood's contributors the praise of great boldness in throwing away the external dignities of literature, and mingling their wit and eloquence and poetry with the familiarities of life, with an ease which nothing but the consciousness of great and genuine talent could inspire or justify. Most of their jests have, we think, been carried a little too far. The town begins to sicken of their pugilistic articles; to nauseate the blended language of Olympus and St. Giles's; to long for inspiration from a purer spring than Belsher's tap; and to desire sight of Apollo and the Muses in a brighter ring than that of Moulsey-hurst. We ought not to forget the debt which we owe to this magazine for infusing something of the finest and profoundest spirit of the German writers into our criticism, and for its " high and hearted " eulogies of the greatest, though not the most popular of our living poets.
We have thus impartially, we think, endeavoured to perform the delicate task of characterizing the principal contemporaries and rivals of the New Monthly Magazine;—of which our due regard to the Editor's modesty forbids us to speak.
ON THE GENIUS AND WRITINGS OF
[Now Monthly Magazine.]
How charming is divine Philosophy!
Not harsh nor crabbed, as dull fools suppose,
But musical as is Apollo's lute!—Milton.
Blessings be on him and immortal praise,
Who gave us nobler loves and nobler cares,
The Poet who on earth hath made us heirs
Of truth and pure delight by heavenly lays!—Wordsworth.
Our readers will be disappointed if they expect to find in this article any of the usual flippancies of criticism. Were we accustomed to employ them, its subject would utterly confound us. Strange is their infatuation who can fancy that the merits of a great poet are subjected to their decision, and that they have any authority to pass judicial censures, or confer beneficent praises, on one of the divinest of intellects! We shall attempt to set forth the peculiar immunities and triumphs of Wordsworth's genius, not as critics, but as disciples. To him our eulogy is nothing. But we would fain induce our readers to follow us "where we have garnered up our hearts," and would endeavour to remove those influences by which malignity and prejudice have striven to deter them from seeking some of the holiest of those living springs of delight which poets have opened for their species.
A minute discussion of Wordsworth's system will not be necessary to our design. It is manifestly absurd to refer to it as a test of his poetical genius. When an author has given numerous creations to the world, he has furnished positive evidence of the nature and extent of his powers, which must preclude the necessity of deducing an opinion of them from the truth or falsehood of his theories. One noble imagination—one profound and affecting sentiment—or one new gleam cast on the inmost recesses of the soul, is more than a sufficient compensation for a thousand critical errors. False doctrines of taste can endure only for a little season, but the productions of genius are " for all time." Its discoveries cannot be lost—its images will not perish—its most delicate influences cannot be dissipated by the changes of times and of seasons. It may be a curious and interesting question, whether a poet laboriously builds up his fame with purpose and judgment, or, as has most falsely been said of Shakspeare, "grows immortal in his own despite;" but it cannot affect his highest claims to the gratitude and admiration of the world. If Milton preferred Paradise Regained to Paradise Lost, does that strange mistake detract from our revering love 1 What would be our feeling towards critics, who should venture to allude to it as a proof that his works were unworthy of perusal, and decline an examination of those works themselves on the ground that his perverse taste sufficiently proved his want of genius I Yet this is the mode by which popular Reviewers have attempted to depreciate Wordsworth—they have argued from his theories to his poetry, instead of examining the poetry itself—as if their reasoning was better than the fact in question, or as if one eternal image set up in the stateliest region of poesy, had not value to outweigh all the truths of criticism, or to atone for all its errors V
Not only have Wordsworth's merits been improperly rested on his system, but that system itself has been misrepresented with no common baseness. From some of the attacks directed against it, a reader might infer that it recommended the choice of the meanest subjects, and their treatment in the meanest way; and that it not only represented poetry as fitly employed on things in themselves low and trivial, but that it forbad the clustering and delicate fancies about them, or the shedding on them any reconciling and softening lustre. Multitudes, indeed, have wondered as they read, not only that any persons should be deluded by its perverse insipidities, but that critics should waste their ridicule on an author who resigned at once all pretensions to the poetic art . In reality, this calumniated system has only reference to the diction, and to the subjects of poetry. It has merely taught, that the diction of poetry is not different from that of prose, and suggested that themes hitherto little dwelt on, were not unsuited to the bard's divinest uses. Let us briefly examine what ground of offence there is in the assertion or application of these positions.
Some have supposed that by rejecting a diction as peculiar to poetry, Wordsworth denied to it those qualities which are its essence, and those "harmonious numbers" which its thoughts " voluntarily move." Were his language equivocal, which it is not, the slightest glance at his works would show that he could have no design to exclude from it the stateliest imaginings, the most felicitious allusions, or the choicest and most varied music. He objected only to a peculiar phraseology—a certain hacknied strain of inversion—which had been set up as distinguishing poetry from prose, and which, he contended, was equally false in either. What is there of pernicious heresy in this, unless we make the crafty politician's doctrine, that speech was given to man to conceal his thoughts, the great principle of poetry 1 If words are fitly combined only to convey ideas to the mind, each word having a fixed meaning in itself, no different mode of collocation can be requisite when the noblest sentiment is to be embodied, from that which is proper when the dryest fact is to be asserted. Each term employed by a poet has as determinate an office—as clearly means one thing as distinguished from all others—as a mathematician's scientific phrases. If a poet wishes lucidly to convey a grand picture to the mind, there can be no reason why he should resort to another mode of speech than that which he would employ in delivering the plainest narrative. He will, of course, use other and probably more beautiful words, because they properly belong to his subject; but he will not use any different order in their arrangement, because in both cases his immediate object is the same—the clear communication of his own idea to the mind of his reader. And this is true not only of the chief object of the passage, but of every hinted allusion, or nice shade of feeling, which may adorn it . If by " poetic diction" is in