« ZurückWeiter »
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 evi- which cannot but counteract, in a very dence of Christianity--to do away that considerable degree, the effect of his presuinption which is supposed to existenthusiastic and touching eloquence. a priori against this astonishing dis- His object is a style “ adapted to the pensatim—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 inust delighted on the laws and inotions 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 that of him who sits with the docility of a genius, which has been so long enlisted, little child to his Bible, and casts down throughout all Europe, on the side of to its authority all his lofty imagina- infidelity, should again rouse itself in tions."
the cause of religion, to accomplish so The limits of a publication of this desirable a revolution in the opinions kind prevent us from entering into a and character of men. If a few great minute examination of the work before and original minds, like that of Dr Ils; and as we are sensible that Chalmers, should arise to advocate the could do no justice to an analysis of cause of Christianity, it would no these discourses, without allotting to 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 ; a Poem. By demi-tints, possessing much of the
the Author of “ The Bridal of Trier- lustre, freshness, and spirit of Remmain.” 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 likeof forming and combining a plot, or wise a neagre sheetiness in his contrasts regards it only as a secondary and sub- of chiaroscuro ; but these are all reordinate 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 uncer- Carraveggio, be sometimes raises from tain 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 quato its extensive popularity. The char- lity; and though its leading one, acter of Mr Scott's romances has we do not know whether to ceneffected a material change in our mode sure or approve it. It is an avowof estimating poetical compositions. ed imitation, and therefore loses part In all the estimable works of our for- of its value, if viewed as mer poets, from Spenser down to ginal production. On the other hand, Thomson and Cowper, the plot seems regarded solely as an imitation, it is to have been regarded only as good or one of the closest and most successo bad, in proportion to the advantages ful, without being either a caricature which it furnished for poetical descrip- or a parody, that perhaps ever aption; but of late years, one half, at peared in any language. Not only is least, of the merit of a poem is sup- the general manner of Scott ably mainposed to rest on the interest and man- tained throughout, but the very strucagement of the tale.
ture of the language, the associations, We speak not exclusively of that and the train of thinking, appear to be numerous class of readers, who peruse precisely the same. It was once al. and estimate a new poem, or any poem, leged by some writers, that it was imwith the same feelings and precisely. possible to imitate Mr Scott's style, on the same principles as they do ä but 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 probabi- have all, without, we believe, intendlity and 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 conless manner in which he has arranged fess to him that we never could open his story.
In many instances, he either of these works, and peruse his undoubtedly 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 an and seized the essential character of early or experimental work of that the antique his attitudes and drape- great master. That they are generally kies are unconfined, and varied with inferior to the works of Mr 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 din 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 Did she pass, that maid with the heavenly
brow, the 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, the article entitled “ The Inferno of
When she thinks her lover near.' Altisidora,' appeared in the Edinburgh Annual Register for 1809, it In morn of frost, the withered leaves
And light they fell, as when earth receives, will be remembered that the last frag- That drop when no winds blow.' ment contained in that singular production, is the beginning of the ro- • Or if 'twas but an airy thing, mance of Triermain. Report says, Such as fantastic slumbers bring, that the fragment was not meant to be Framed from the rainbow's varying dyes, . an imitation of Scott, but of Coleridge; Or fading tints of western skies.' and that for this purpose the au
These, it will be seen, are not exthor borrowed both the name of the actly Coleridge, but they are precisely hero and the scene from the then un- such an imitation of Coleridge as, we published poem of Christabelle ; and conceive, another poet of our acquaintfurther, that so few had ever seen ance would write: on that ground, the manuscript of that poem, that a- we are inclined to give some credit to mongst these few the author of Trier- the anecdote here related, and from it main could not be mistaken. Be that we leave our readers to guess, as we as it may, it is well known, that on have done, who is the author of the the appearance of this fragment in the poems in question. Annual Register, it was universally It inay he 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 then 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 extraordiduced, 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 somé 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 rhythin-as, us to guess at, we may sometimes
blunder on facts that will astonish
these mist-envelope authors, as well * Harpers must lull him to his rest, With the slow tunes he loves the best,
as their unfathonnable printer, who we Till sleep sink down upon his breast,
think may soon arlopt 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,
07 No admittance behind the scenes. The sun was struggling with frost-fog gray, And, at all events, if we should some
times mistake, it will only be produc- will shew how extremely it is like to
perhaps give the author some offence
perused and reflected on, it scarcely “Thercis 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
Armata. A Fingment. London, And nought can chase the lingering hours Murray, 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; last half century, has called forth so Obscured the painting seems, mistuned the
few of our pamphleteer speculators on Nor dare we of our listless load complain,
statistics as the present when the For who for sympathy may scek that cannot unexampled difficulties which have optell of pain?
pressed our agriculture, our manufac. Ennui !mor, 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 "Shine 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 lathe for framing gimcrack nice; The amateur's blotch'd pallet thou may'st silence be owing to a want of ability,
sophers and statesmen. Whether this 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,
which we are assured will relieve us from Then of the books, to catch thy drowsy glance all our embarrassments. Major Cart. Compiled,whatbard the cataloguemay quote! wright prescribes for us universal sufBut not of such the tale fair Edgeworth wrote. frage and annual parliaments, while That bears thy naine, and is thinc antidote;
a distinguished member of the LegisAnd not of such the strain my Thomson sung, lature is not less sanguine in his exDelicious dreams inspiring by his note, pectation, that our farmers and our What time to Indolence his harp he strung; manufacturers 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 alarining 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 doubtless be asked, how it space in the political world during the is that such subjects should be treated last thirty years; and although in the of under the title of ARMATA?--and second edition of Armata, which is it is in urevre necessary that we should now before us, the author does not infon.. our readers, that ARMATA is avow himself, yet, as it is a work the name of a country placed by the which even the eminent person alludauthor in an imaginary world; in de- ed to might be proud to acknowledge, picting, which country, he gives a and as it speaks the same sentiments inost eloquent and animated descrip- which he has always maintained, we tion of the policy of Great Britain, are inclined to give credit to the rutracing the history of her distresses mour which has named him the author from the beginning of the contest with of 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 Englund, 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, Lone his ideas on the distresses of Great don, Murray. Britain, may be matter of doubt ; but PABTIAL as we confess ourselves to be that as it may, the author has dis- be to the pleasing recollections of our played, in the investigation of the ques- early years, we must admit that the tion, deep knowledge of his subject, little folks of this generation have and has discussed it in a style of bril- many advantages which we did not liant eloquence, tempered, however, enjoy. The juvenile library of our with a degree of moderation, too sel- day was of limited extent; and though doin witnessed in works on the politi- amply furnished with Mother Bunch, cal 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 specinien of the author's powers of Miss Edgeworth, and a number of writing
other eminent writers, who have not •"* My confidence in this opinion is the disdained the humble, but most useful, more unshaken, from the recollection that task of teaching “the young idea how 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 ineritorious 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 was set.-Never was a being gifted with an
as a fairy tale," and our little mas. understanding so perfect, nor aided by a perception which suffered nothing to escape
ters and misses may be as familiar from its dominion. ----He was never known with the characters of real life as their to omit any thing which in the slightest de- predecessors were with Blue Beard and gree could affect the matter to be consider- Little Red Riding Hood. ed, nor to confound things at all distinguish- We have been particularly gratiable, however apparently the same; and fied with the little book which has his conclusions were always so luminous and given rise to these reflections. The convincing, that you might as firmly de- author has expressed so shortly, and pend upon them as when substances in na
so well, the reasons which led him to ture lie before you in the palpable forins assigned to them from the foundation of the compose these charming stories for his world. Such were his qualifications for the
own family, and induced him to fa. office of a statesman; and his profound vour the world with them, that we knowledge, always under the guidance of the think our readers will be pleased to see sublime simplicity of his heart, softening, them in his own 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 em. It 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 lite,