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The Liberal Literature of England-Poetry-Southey-Coleridge

Wordsworth—Burns--Rogers-Montgomery-Moore Campbell Herbert--Byron-Shelley-Keats-Hunt-Pringle-Nicoll-Peter --Barton-Hood - Procter–Tennyson – Milnes-Elliott-HorneMary Howitt--Eliza Cook-Mackay-Novels-Godwin-HolcraftThe Drama-Bage—Scott-Miss Edgeworth-Mrs. Opie-Miss Mitford--Mrs. Hall--Miss Martineau--Banim-Lever-Lover“-Bulwer-Dickens-Essays -- Jeffrey-Smith-Brougham--Mackintosh

-- Macaulay - Lamb - Hazlitt-Carlyle-Talfourd-Pamphlets Holland House--French Literature and Louis Philippe.

FURTHER notice will now be taken of the liberal literature of England, after the French revolution. We can enter only on the borders of this large field. Since the modern “reyival of letters,” the Poets of England have furnished their quota of friends of Progress and Reform.

Among the strange theories concerning the regeneration of mankind, to which the great French convulsion gave birth, was a day-dream of Southey, Coleridge, and Lloyd, three young geniuses, then sojourning at Bristol. Having vainly endeavored to make England a republic, by writing a drama on the fall of Robespierre, delivering a course of lectures on the French revolution, and publishing two or three seditious pamphlets, they proposed to leave the kingdom in disgust, bury themselves in the aboriginal forests on the banks of the Susquehanna, and there erect a “Pantisocracy,” in which property should be held in common, every man be a legislator, and a model democracy be wrought out, that should consummate the happiness of its founders, while its reflex influence cured all the ills of European institutions. Unfortunately for the human race, the three poets happened just then to fall in with and fall in love with three tempting young Eves of Bristol, the Misses Fricker, one an actress, one a mantua-maker, and one a school-teacher; and giving up their scheme of regenerating the world, they wisely concluded, with Benedick, that it was better to people it, and so all got married. Thus ended their “Much Ado about Nothing."

Lloyd sunk into obscurity, Southey atoned for his Susquehanna sins by spending a long life in hostility to civil and religious freedom, and Coleridge lived and died a moderate friend of liberty and reform, Wordsworth early became acquainted with Coleridge and Southey, participated in their French enthusiasm, and, like them, his first poetic dreams were of freedom. In one of his earliest productions he proposes to invoke the restorative aid of the Royal Humane Society in behalf of crowned heads, as follows :

“Oh give, great God! to Freedom's waves to ride

Sublime o’er conquest, avarice, and pride;
And grant that every sceptered child of clay
Who cries, presumptuous, 'Here their tides shall stay,
Swept in their anger from the affrighted shore,
With all his creatures sink to rise no more

Through his long career, the productions of the greatest of the “ Lake Poets " have exerted a calm but steady influence in favor of humanity.

About this time Burns appeared, “whistling at his plouw," and teaching the world that

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He, too, caught some of his inspiration from France. By force of his genius, the Scotch yeoman opened his way to the highest



rank of cotemporary poets, carrying with him the sympathies of the class from which he sprung.

No writer is oftener quoted to round a period in a Reform speech. I have seen a meeting of Scotch Chartists go wild with enthusiasm under the inspiration of one of his songs. The same year that Burns became an author, Rogers sent his first volume of poems to press, of whom Lord Brougham, in bis Sketch of Grattan, says: “He is one of the greatest poets whom this country has produced, as well as one of its finest prose-writers; who to this unstable fame adds the more imperishable renown of being also one of the most uncompromising friends of civil and religious liberty who have appeared in any age.”

In 1794, James Montgomery, a name honorably associated with the cause of humanity, published in the Sheffield Iris, a newspaper edited by him, a ballad on the overthrow of the Bastile, which the Pitt Government saw fit to regard as a seditious libel. He was prosecuted, convicted, amerced in a fine, and imprisoned three months in York Castle. The next year the Government again prosecuted the amiable poet for an analogous offense, upon which he was again fined and shut


six months at York. These persecutions did not quench his zeal for human freedom; and despite a most offensive critique in the Edinburgh Review of his first volume of poems, he published another in 1807, celebrating the abolition of the slave trade, which was distinguished for vigor of expression and richness of coloring. These, and subsequent publications of kindred character, have given Montgomery an enduring place in the affections of Christian philanthropists.

At a later period, two poets appeared, who have exerted a wide sway over the mind, not of Britain only, but of every land where the English language is spoken-Moore and Campbell. The political tendency of their writings (and it has been considerable) is on the side of freedom. Moore's father was of the proscribed sect of Irish Catholics, who, in the language

“hailed the first dazzling outbreak of the French

of the son,

revolution as a signal to the slave, wherever suffering, that the day of his deliverance was near at hand.” When Moore was a boy of twelve, he sat on the chairman's knee at a celebration in honor of the revolution, when this toast was drank, with three times three : “ May the breezes of France fan our Irish oak into verdure !” The poet has lived to see the foliage of the oak grow more sere and yellow, though another breeze from France has swept its branches. But, in all seasons, and when mixing in the brilliant revelries of London society, the idol of a devoted band of worshipers, he never ceased to love his native island. His “ Irish Melodies” have inspired a strange sympathy in many climes for his blighted country, while they have taught Irishmen, in whatever corner of the earth they wander, to say

66 Wert thou all that I wish thee-great, glorious, and free

First flower of the earth and first gem of the sea
I might hail thee with prouder, with happier brow,
But, oh ! could I love thee more deeply than now ?”

Campbell's poetic offerings to the cause of Polish liberty are in the school-books of two continents, and have fired the indignation of two generations of youthful orators at that great European felony, the partition of Poland, when

“ Sarmatia fell, unwept, without a crime."

The heroic struggle for Grecian independence animated the classic soul of Campbell, and he took an active part in rousing European sentiment in her behalf. And down to the last moment of his life he was proud to give his cordial support to the cause of liberty and humanity in every part of the world.

William Herbert, a scion of the ancient houses of Pembroke and Percy, is still more illustrious as a scholar of rare attainments, and as the author of “ Attila,” which the Edinburgh Review has declared the most Miltonic poem since Paradise Lost. Some of his poetic effusions were offered at the shrine of freedom; and while a member of Parliament, he coöperated with Wilberforce in the abolition of the slave trade ; and after withdrawing from politics, and taking holy orders, and reaching stations of dignity in the Established Church, he gave his influence to liberal measures, advocating Catholic emancipation and the Reform bill.

The wayward genius of Byron, though it uttered much that good morals condemn, recorded nothing hostile to political liberty, but, on the contrary, something in its favor. On the few occasions that he addressed the House of Lords, he advocated the liberal cause, once vindicating in manly tones the character and life of Major Cartwright, the father of Parliamentary Reform. The conflict for Grecian independence, in which Byron's last days were spent, throws a broad ray of sunshine across the dark horizon of his career.

But we must dismiss a galaxy of bright names more summarily—some without mentioning them, others by the briefest allusions. Shelley, the unfortunate, calumniated, generous, and supereminent son of genius–Keats, an evanescent being, whose transparent soul was clad too thin for this prosaic world-Leigh Hunt, the founder of the London “Examiner, which ought to live forever, and the Italian “Liberal," which ought nevere to have lived at all, a true son of the Nine, whom Gifford could not kill, though Blackwood Wilson helped him try-Pringle, who died at the desk of the Anti-Slavery Society, and whose 6 Afar in the Desert” Coleridge ranked amorg the two or three most perfect lyrics in the languageRobert Nicoll, a Scotch plowman, an ardent and sincere radical, who, dying at twenty-three, lived long enough to write 6 The Ha’ Bible," " We are brethren a’,” and other poems, not unworthy of that other Scotch Robert who has canonized plowmen-bards-William Peter, now British consul for Pennsylvania, a graceful poet, but better known as a political pupil of the Fox school, a commoner advocating liberal measures, and the biographer of Romilly-Bernard Barton, the friend and

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