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For though I fled him angry, yet, recall'd
To life prolong'd and promis'd race, I
Gladly behold though but his utmost skirts
Of glory; and far off his steps adore."
In this passage there is a beautiful contrast between the sorrow of Adam and that of Eve...The sorrow of Eve was more melting than that of her husband....it dwelt more mishe was to leave behind her. The nutely on the favourite objects which flowers which she had nursed and cherished with her own hand....the nuptial bower which she had decorated....the walks and shades among which she had rambled and reposed; and from which she must now be separated forever, filled her with the most piercing regret. The sorrow of Adam dwelt more espe cially on his banisment from the divine presence, and on the places in which he appeared or stood visible, and where he heard the sound of his compassionate voice. He resolves that should he be permitted still to dwell in Paradise, he would rear up many mementos of his for-mer days of happiness, that so he might be able to tell to his children, that here his God appeared before him, and from that thicket he heard the sound of his voice. The comfort which the angel endeavours to give to each of our parents, is of the most conciliating and soothing kind. These speeches of Adam and Eve have been noticed before, but I think not sufficiently. No lines could be more pathetic. When we consider that they were spoken by our parents and representatives, can any passage in poetry be produced which can equal them in dignified pathos, and in the effect which they communicate? While reading them, every son and daughter of Adam may unite in language somewhat similar. Fields of Paradise, the dwelling of my parents, farewel.... Abodes of innocence and of happiness, "fit haunt for Gods," from you we must be ever secluded...Our footsteps shall not be imprinted upon
your soil....We shall gather no flowers from the garden of Eden, to the whisper and music of your woods; to the murmur of your streams we shall never listen....reclining from the banks, our lips shall never kiss the coolness of your waters .....In your bowers of bliss we shall not be permitted to repose.... Our parent fathers shall never tell us, “On this mount God appeared, under this tree stood visible, among these pines his voice I heard, here with him at this fountain talked."
The description in Paradise Lost, Book XI. of the abatement of the waters after the deluge, is remarkably striking, and deserves to be repeatedly noticed:
"He look'd, and saw the ark hull on the flood,
Which now abated; for the clouds were fled,
Driven by a keen north-wind, that, blowing dry,
Wrinkled the face of deluge, as decay'd;
And the clear sun on his wide watery glass
Gaz'd hot, and of the fresh wave largely drew, As after thirst; which made their flowing shrink
From standing lake to tripping ebb,
With soft foot towards the Deep; who now had stopt
His sluices, as the Heaven his win, dows shut.
The bold and curious personifications in this passage are most worthy of remark. The face of the deluge is wrinkled by the keen north wind, like that of an old man by age. The sun gazes hot, in his wonderful mirror of the expanded waters, and draws from them such draughts to quench the fierceness of his thirst, that they hush the tumults of their billows, shrink away before him, and "with soft foot," or with gentle murmurs steal again to the bosom of the deep. None but the most mighty imagination could have given birth to such a picture, and none but a giant in intellect could have begotten such gigantic personifications. VOL. I....NO, I.
Some critics, in order to afford to the world the testimony of their discernment, have asserted that such books were the best in such a work. One critic has discovered, and after him many have said, that the first six books were the best of the Paradise Lost. Upon what they have grounded this opinion, I cannot discover, They have much more discernment than I pretend to possess. In the different books, there is a variation of matter; but the same strength and ardour of imagination....the same burning, intrepid and victorious genius is preserved without diminution throughout all of them. I am often tempted to laugh at the many absurd criticisms which have been written on epic poetry. It forsooth must have a beginning, a middle, and an end. This we all must ac knowledge to be indispensable; for we cannot conceive how any man in his senses could give a finished narration without these. Every composition on earth, not repre、 sented as a fragment, written by a rational man, has a beginning, middle, and an end. Then again in the epopee there must be machinery, because Aristotle said so, and Homer has employed it in his Iliad.... but with all due deference to critical acumen; if all the machinery of Homer could be withdrawn, and a' substitution be made of an equal number of Homer's lines with those taken away, so as to fill up every gap and incoherence of transition, I should vote for the destruction of Homer's machinery. Milton's machinery is stupendously great, and as far superior to that of all other poets as can be conceived. The Jerusalem Delivered stands next in dignity, in this respect, to Paradise Lost. The machinery of Gothic superstition is vastly more pleasing to me when embodied by poetry, than Homer's Gods. In the bosom of every son and daughter of poetry, there is a chord which vibrates to the sound of Gothic story. But Homer's mythology communicates po pleasing dread, it thrills with
the pressure of no icy fingers, and holds out not one supernatural being that we can love. In the days of my boyhood, when the marvellous in fiction lifted me above the world, I read with indifference all the stories of Homer's Gods, and was always sorry when I was introduced in their company. Like Achilles, I searched for Hector amidst the embattled ranks, not with his terrible look of revenge, but with the eye of interest and af. fection; and I could not forgive the venerable Grecian for making my favourite hero fly from his approaching enemy.
If we exclude from the comparison the dramatic writers, who among the English poets, who have written in blank verse, shall we rank next to Milton? Without hesitation I would assign that place to Young. In some respects, he falls not beneath Milton. In condensing thought within a small compass, he surpasses all ancient and modern authors. When he wrote his greatest work, he courted the stillness of the night, he associated with shadows drear....his eyes caught through his lattice the rays of the moon and the stars, and his ears listened to the music of the spheres. After Young, come Thomson and Cowper....Thomson is praised by every body, whether they relish him or not; and they never praise him unjustly. "Arise, Jupiter, and snuff the moon," was not only the language of a madman, but of a poet; and indeed, the highest exhiliration, the most elevated inventive agitation of every poet of the first order, is on the borders of phrenzy. The soul of Pope was never tossed by these tumultuous sensations....he is an accurate, a reasoning poet....he is melodious in the highest degree....he must always please....he should always be admired; but he is vastly surpassed by Milton, Dryden, Young, Thomson, Cowper, and Gray, in poetical enthusiasm. Cowper has not the music or romance of Thomson; his eye, however, rolled in a fine
phrenzy; he is the most familiar and domestic poet of the English language; he is full of thought and exquisite morality. If he has less music and romance than Thomson, he has more solidity and gravity; he is a better instructor. I have been lately reading, with delight, his Letters and posthumous poems, preserved in Hayley's life of him, and would enrich my Notices with some extracts from them; but I wish not to put in my sickle, before the harvest is ripe; for an edition of Hayley's Life of Cowper is now in an American press; and if this work be prosecuted, will form the subject of a minute and interesting Review.
Were I called upon in a company of poetical votaries and talkers, to give utterance to one of the most striking passages of Young's Night Thoughts, I.should repeat the following on time, from Night the second....
The skies, which watch'd him in his new abode,
Measuring his motions by revolving spheres,
That horologe machinery divine. Hours, days, and months and years his children play, Like numerous wings, around him, flies:
Or rather, as unequal plumes, they shape
His ample pinions, swift as darted flame,
To gain his goal, to reach his ancient
time. Time will be swallowed up in eternity, which is occupied by the existence of God, of angels, and of men.
Here I shall, for the present, suspend my Critical notices, by assurbeing those who have derived any satisfaction from following the traces of an hasty and busily occupied writer, that should the projected work of my friend the Editor, be sufficiently encouraged by a liberal and discerning public, they shall (Deo volante) repeatedly meet the productions of the same pen.
And join anew eternity, his sire;
(Fate the loud signal sounding) headlong rush
To timeless night and chaos, whence they rose.
If these lines are not admired, it will not be for want of grandeur in them, but for want of elevation somewhere else. The conception that time is a portion cut off from eternity, and thrust down beneath the skies, and watched by the heavenly bodies, and measured by their revolutions....that days, months, and years, are his children, or rather so many wings, which hover around him, and direct him in his course to the bosom of eternity again, is inexpressibly great. The closing lines might serve as a motto for a philosophical discussion.... Time, separated from the existence of animated beings, is nothing: it is measured by our consciousness; if we bestow individual existence on what we mean by time, it is evident that it cannot cease to exist: though worlds should be destroyed, yet such an airy nothing as we mean by time, separated from animated nature, must still be just as it was: how very fine, then, is the idea of Young, that time is cut off from eternity....that it is hastening into eternity again, with its years and its centuries....and thatwhen worlds are destroyed, and in the places which they now occupy, nothing will be left, to measure the lapse of
THE TRAVELLER....NO. I.
I am a man left solitary in the world. I have neither parents, nor wife, nor children, to rejoice in my prosperity, or to mingle their sorrows with mine: my friends and associates are few. I am not more than thirty years of age, but my pallid cheek, my museful countenance, and some hairs which have been silvered by an aching head, would declare that I was nearer to forty. In the course of my journey thus far on the stage of human existence, I have not been an inattentive observer of the characters of men, and of passing events.... Though I could tell much, yet I am called a silent man: and I must confess, that what I have seen in life, has more disposed me to become a speculative, thoughtful and melancholy man, than a vivacious and busy narrator of facts. I am oftentimes more fond of employing my pen, than my tongue, and have occasionally, through its instrumentality, preserved on paper some sentimental speculation, and the traces of some museful journey. In this propensity I still persevere, and shall probably to the public address several numbers of my speculations and rambles, which shall succeed the one which now solicits heir attention..
The attachments, which we form He flew, and left each anxiousthought in early life, are generally the strongest and the most sincere. The feelings have not then lost their generous warmth, nor is the ardour of sensibility damped by commerce with the world. Covetousness has not then been born, and made the soul the grave of every noble passion; malice has not then aroused from its slumbers, nor does envy sicken at the praise of a brother....The heart then pants with a noble emulation, and the blush of shame burns on the cheek. Strangers to the world, the prospect that spreads before the eyes of youth, appears pleasing and enchanting. No hills of difficulty arise before them; no snares open beneath their feet; the world to them is virtuous and honest, for they have not yet experienced its guile. It has been often the remark of experience, that when we are most ignorant of human nature, we are freest from care; that those years which are spent within the walls of a college, and which are devoted to the acquirement of knowledge, form the happiest period of our lives. Though I cannot wholly subscribe to this remark, yet I can safely say, that, while at college, I passed my most unincumbered days. Often from the most exalted stations in society, has the manof the world looked back, with regret, on the scenes of his youth, on those happy days, when, immersed in academic shades, he had not yet mingled with the noise and uproar of men; when he had not yet discovered their machinations and their wiles; when his ambition was confined to the little sphere in which he moved; when he trod, unwearied, the paths of science, and when the strains of the Grecian and Roman bards kindled his soul to rapture.
When wasting pains, and manhood's
Broke not the slumbers of his gay re-
All these remembrances, as the shades of departed pleasures, arise before his view, and he mourns over their grave, with a tear;" all these remembrances sweep over his mind with an enchanting power of melancholy tenderness, and lull to sleep the cares and business of the moment."
Frequent sensations of this kind has not lost its sensibility and its are congenial to the mind which taste. Who can hear with indifferstrain to which he has often listened ence, in more advanced age, the in his infancy, and which then transported him with its liveliness, or soothed him with its sadness? Who can behold, without emotion, the shades, beneath which he has often reclined, or revisit the stream to whose murmurs he formerly listened, and along whose banks he directed his earliest rambles? Who can behold, without being carried back to scenes which have forever born? gone, the building in which he was
I have been excited to these re
flections, by a visit to the place of the house in which I first opened my my nativity....I am now gazing on eyes on the light of heaven, and exploring the hills, the plains and waters, which I traced while a vagrant boy. Sensations, which are undescribable, rush on my mind at this review, and I cannot restrain my desire to pourtray my boyhood, and to talk of events, which this spot of
make this log my chair, this old birth recals. Come then, let me stump my table, and with my pencil let me fill these blank leaves of my pocket-book with the images of the
THE DAYS OF CHILDHOOD.
Where have ye flown, ye visions
Which flutter'd round my head?