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"I saw what man looks on and dies !


my spirit Was strong, and triumphantly lived through that hour ; And as from the grave, I awoke to inherit A flame all immortal, a voice and a power ! Day burst on that rock with the purple cloud crested, And high Cader-Idris rejoiced in the sun ; But oh! what new glory all nature invested, When the sense, which gives soul to her beauty, was won.'*

This is poetry like the rush of a mountain waterfall. It has the freedom and force of enthusiastic improvisation.

The best poetry of our age constitutes a new era. It is in many respects of a higher order than existed before. Man, as he appears among us, in his best estate, is a more moral, more social, more intellectual, and more truly religious being, than man as he has existed in past times. His affections are more called forth and exercised; his perceptions of moral excellence, and of all the varieties of beauty, have become more comprehensive, delicate, and refined ; his moral sentiments are purer and more operative ; he perceives his duty and happiness under many relations not before recognised; he is approaching to that character which false religion has done so much to prevent his attaining, and which it is the sole object of true religion to produce. The human character has thus shown itself far richer than it had yet appeared, in those qualities which afford materials for poetry and fiction. It is less distorted into an unnatural shape, by prejudices, vices, and conventional formalities. Those to whom the genius of the poet is given are under far holier influences. They have, at the same time, effected their release from that artificial system of petty criticism which had prevailed, and have appealed to the ultimate principles of taste founded in our nature. If a poet of the present day trespass against moral truth, it is done knowingly. There is not that negligent disregard of right and wrong, proceeding from grossness of perception and want of moral feeling, which offends us not unfrequently in the poets of former days. Not only has the character of readers as well as writers been raised, but the number of the former has been greatly increased. They have, as a body, become free from the influence of those prejudices and false tastes which belong

* One of the Welsh poetical triads thus describes the attributes of genius ; “The three primary requisites of genius; an eye that can see nature, a heart that can feel nature, and boldness that dares follow nature.”'


to, a particular cast in society. Poetry of a more original and noble kind may be safely addressed to them. Let us imagine, on the contrary, some of the finest productions of the present day as appearing in past times. What reception, for instance, would the poetry of Mrs Hemans have found


the coarse minded audiences who delighted in the plays of Beaumont and Fletcher, or the more refined readers of Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia and Lylly's Euphues; or among the wits of either Charles's days,' whose highest approach to any purity of taste or correctness of feeling, was in admiring the pretty verses, which Waller so painfully elaborated ? Dryden, indeed, was of this age, but, in the words of a far greater genius,

A loose and ribbald court

Bade him toil on to make them sport;' and he loved the work, and performed it with slovenly faithfulness. Milton is hardly to be numbered with the cotemporaries of his later years. He was alone among them, made solitary by the majesty of his power and virtue. But how much do we miss, even in his works, a knowledge of the human heart, of its deep tenderness, its strong and pure affections, and of the social nature of man, with all its virtues, joys, and sorrows. How little power has he over our tears. How few passages produce a thrill of feeling, or call forth a response from the secret chambers of thought. How gladly should we see his genius less encumbered with his learning, and less disciplined after a mere scholar's fashion. How little sympathy appears to exist between the poet and ourselves. How much do we wish that a truer sentiment of the character of woman, could take the place of that repulsive austerity with which he seems almost always to have regarded her. How much do we desire that the wretched theology of his age had not led him, in his noblest work, to degrade, with all the power of poetry, our conceptions of God. Even in the example of Milton we may see the effect, which the comparatively low state of morals, taste, and intellectual improvement, has had in debasing the poetry of past times.

But modern poets are imitators, it is said; and, besides, they do not write epics, like those of Homer, Virgil, Tasso, and Milton; nor dramas like Shakspeare's; nor, in general

, do they undertake any long and laborious works. The charge of imitation can hardly be supported, if the preceding remarks be correct. There is a freedom, truth, and originality in modern poetry almost unknown before. Whatever we may profess in public, or think we ought to believe, the modern poets, if we truly love poetry for its own sake, are our secret delight. They lie on our tables, they travel with us on our journeys, they are read in our domestic circle round the evening fire; while most of those commemorated by Johnson in his Lives, repose undisturbed wherever they may have found a place. For our want of epics, we may derive some consolation from such poems as Thalaba, Madoc, and Roderic, and the delightful metrical romances of Scott. We have no Shakspeare, to be sure, unless we may reckon on Sir Walter as a rival, but then this can only be in prose. We have, however, dramas which may well supply the place of any other than those of Shakspeare, in the works of Mrs Joanna Baillie, Mrs Hemans, and Miss Mitford. Considering that it is not so much the fashion of the present day as it once was, to read romances in folio, and regular epics, we should think that the Forest Sanctuary might in some measure satisfy the critics, even in the article of length, and the more beautiful of the shorter pieces by the same author, are such as may in vain be sought for in English poetry before.

ART. III.-Narrative of an Ascent to the Summit of Mont

Blanc, on the Eighth and Ninth August, 1827. By JOHN Auldjo, Esq. of Trinity College, Cambridge. London. 1828. 4to. pp. 120.

THOSE who have not read the accounts which have been published of the ascent of different individuals to the summit of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Europe, * are probably not aware how serious and perilous an undertaking it is. own parts we are greatly disposed to question the sanity of those motives, which can induce men to attempt an expedition so fraught with labor and surrounded with death. The narrative before us seems to prove that if Mr Auldjo had been gifted for this occasion with a dozen lives, they would all have been in danger; and though, as the motto to his volume says it will, the mountain top may overpay the scaler's toil, we doubt very much whether it can give a full compensation for his imminent

For our

* Its height is 15,665 feet.


peril. We can conceive that there was enough to stimulate, and enough to reward, the first travellers on this terrible route ; but after the discovery and the conquest had been made, after Paccard and De Saussure had placed their feet on that hitherto unattained spot, the bald, awful head of sovran Blanc,' after barometer, thermometer, and hygrometer had discharged all their duties, after latitude and longitude had been determined, after pistols had been fired and chickens had been eaten, or rather not been eaten there, we think that to repeat the same experiments is hardly a sufficient inducement to the same toils, or justification of the same exposure.

And yet we fear that we may be thought, by some, to hold too lightly that glorious principle of our nature, which seeks all heights, and would fathom all depths, and is forever prompting us to make what escape we can from the floor of our earthly prison ; that quenchless thirst, that unappeasable curiosity, that ardent love of the beautiful and magnificent, which dare all things, for the attainment of their objects, and rise superior to the animal dread of death. We reverence these impulses as proofs and portions of a divine constitution ; but there are other principles, quite as holy, by which they ought to be directed. We would view the subject practically. Let life be hazarded, we say, for it is not by any means the supreme good; but let it be hazarded for some great end, in some great and sufficient cause. It is a precious gift for precious purposes. It ought to be guarded carefully, and when it is ventured, ventured nobly and worthily. The lives, not of tourists alone, but of the poor guides whom they employ, and upon whose sole exertions whole families depend, ought not to be put in jeopardy for the gratification of even a divine curiosity.

Such, at least, are our sentiments, while sitting quietly at home; we know not how they might be changed at the feet of the Alps themselves. At any rate, now that Mr Auldjo has been up the mountain, and safely descended again with his companions, we are glad that his adventure has been achieved, for it has enabled him to give us a most interesting and beautifully illustrated book; and thousands have risked their lives for a far less worthy end than that.

That the dangers of this ascent are real, is abundantly apparent from the declaration of the guides to Mr Auldjo, 'that the person who started with an intent to reach the summit, ought to make up his mind to lose his life in the attempt, rather


than return unsuccessful;' and also by the fact which he states, that many have made their wills before starting, and all left such directions regarding their property as if they were persuaded they should never return.' The same is manifested still more completely by another fact; which is, that though the first attempt to attain the summit of Mont Blanc, is dated in the year 1762, and several other attempts were made in succeeding years, yet the whole ascent was not accomplished till the year 1786. When we consider that these unsuccessful efforts were made by the native mountaineers and professional guides, we must be convinced that the ascent is one of the most difficult and dangerous of human undertakings. 'Most of the guides,' says our tourist, are desirous of making the ascent, but either through the interference of their families, or afraid of the rarified air and the fatigue, they do not attempt it.' It was with great trouble that he filled up his compliment of six guides for his own expedition; and among the concourse of visiters to Chamonix of all nations, he could find but one who was at all willing to accompany him, and that one was not able. Two young men of the village, however, one a naturalist, and the other performing a sort of apprenticeship for the situation of a guide, were permitted, on their earnest applications, to join the party, which thus amounted to nine in number. Four of the guides had been up before; one of them, Joseph Marie Coutet, the chief guide, seven times. They were all brave and experienced

With a promise of good weather from his two principal guides, Coutet and Devouassoud, Mr Auldjo left the village of Chamonix, or Chamouny, on the morning of the eighth of August. His setting off must have been a melancholy one.

'Six o'clock was the time fixed for starting, and every man was desired to be in attendance before that hour, but I could not get them together at that time; most of them had to part from their wives and relations; when they did join us, it was with a cortège, some crying, some upbraiding me with tempting those who formed their only support to sacrifice themselves to my curiosity and pleasure; many a bitter tear flowed, and more than one heart waxed heavy, on the morning of the eighth. Two or three of my countrymen were kind enough to accompany me through the weeping crowd assembled on the bridge; and one carried his attention so far as to continue with me to Coutet's cottage, in the village of Les Pélérins, the appointed rendezvous.'


P. 9.

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