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tian soldiers to fire salutes of honour before the idol's car? Do you remember the case of the Sepoy, who, converted by God to the true faith, was deprived of his rank and dismissed because he had become a Christian ?”
He then, after vividly tracing the too just retribution of the present, follows:
“I for one, firmly believe, firmly, that God will give us one other trial in India. I believe the crisis of England's greatness, the crisis of her own possessions, of her own Christianity still depend upon the manner in which she uses that trust, if again it be committed to us. Christian men administering a heathen nation. We will not attempt by force or power to draw a single heathen man over, but we will make no secret of our own Christianity—our belief that we hold our power on this condition, that we should use it for God; and with this responsibility, that it will be taken from us if we use it for ourselves."
Words these, which deserve to be held in enduring record, and to which we trust that the Church and people of England will return a fitting response.
SMITH'S CITY POEMS.
City Poems. By ALEXANDER SMITH. Cambridge: Macmillan
and Co. 1857.
Mr. Smith sustains his reputation as a musical and thoughtful poet, though the range of thought is still rather limited, however true and touching, and though neither thought nor melody are very original. How far he has succeeded or fallen short of the promise of his earlier volume, we do not propose to institute a sufficiently close comparison to enable us to determine. That he is a deep and imaginative "thinker in the language of concrete circumstance," to adopt a modern definition of his art, we think none can deny. But that the food of that thought has been supplied from a single source, that the City-Poet's mind has been filled from the fountain of our City's association and affairs,--that his imagery is alone drawn from the forms and conditions of earth, sea, and sky which surround that City, is equally undeniable, but is, we think, rather matter of regret, at most, than of contempt or blame. Mr. Smith has aimed at exhausting the inspirations of a modern city; he parades his aim in every page, and on the title of his book; and even seems disposed to boast that he has accomplished his aim. We almost think he has, and our urgent recommendation to him would be, to travel.
Plenty of advice was bestowed upon Mr. Smith on the publica
tion of a "Life Drama :” some of the critics ingenuously admitting that they did not expect him to take it, and one, that he should think none the worse of him if he laughed it to scorn. Virtue is its own reward : and the modesty of Mr. Smith's reviewer,-a compatriot censor-has been rewarded by the most liberal compliance with his advice. It is true that the request was not grievous ; and most people, we should have imagined, would have seen that the recommendation was not needed. The North British Review recommended Mr. Smith carefully to study Tennyson, and who shall say that he has not most industriously formed himself on that congenial and seductive model? We have no wish to make, though it would not be hard to substantiate petty charges of plagiarism.
A good memory, and a patient pen, are all that are needed to draw out, in almost any case, trifling parallelisms between the most original writers. But Mr. Smith offers unrivalled temptations to that rather dull style of criticism. It is not only that our ear is met by the familiar metre and style of versification, or our mind accosted by the well-known tone of subject and treatment, and even form of composition,—but the similarity of actual incident and grouping of characters is too strong to be passed unnoticed. Plot, however, no one can pretend to find in Mr. Smith's Poems. He is peculiarly susceptible of the strange sweet influences of external nature, and he can think tenderly and truly of them, and of the corresponding affections in his own human nature, but in the attempt to give embodiment to this purely impersonal sentiment,—to realise and individualise a single character, much more to group and contrast several, he fails utterly. Nothing can be poorer in conception than the awkward ground-plan of “Horton.” And limited as was the
scope for invention which the conditions of a counting-house conversation imposed upon the poet, we must say he has not even exhausted these poor resources of variety and novelty, although many touches are here, as everywhere throughout his writings, delicate and true. Again, we recognise with a start the “Gardener's Daughter," the individual only we mean, not the whole idea, in the heroine of a “Boy's Poem." She appears under the condition of course, of cotton-mill society and occupation, though they are only suffered slightly to modify the identity. Further on, we cannot help recalling the morbid melancholy of the nameless monomaniac in Maud, on reading the poor “Boy’s” delirious wanderings. The comparison is suggested not only by like unpleasantness of subject, but by frequent resemblances of thought. The fever-madness, and the sweet return to life and sense, are however, to do Mr. Smith justice, pourtrayed with a power which it is as impossible not to feel and admire, as it is not to recal the examples of the great master of the style. In fact, from one point of view, Mr. Smith's whole style is a powerful, and not ungraceful tribute to the wonderful sympathetic influence which Tennyson's
Maud has on a thoughtful, self-conscious, melancholy temperament. For it is beyond all question that Mr. Smith's poetical genius has been developed by Tennyson, and Tennyson alone.
We must again disclaim all intention of imputing a conscious appropriation of the words and thoughts of another, by our author. Countless aspirations and impressions there are, of which all men are alike susceptible, and with which all alike can sympathise. And though it is not given to all men to clothe those impressions or aspirations in language which shall appeal to the soul as universally as the impressions which they seek to express are felt; yet neither is it confined to one so to do. We have given one or two instances, in which a resemblance between two authors exhibits at least a poverty of invention. Let us give ope out of many, in which a community of sentiment is to the common credit of both. The undefinable feeling of mingled pathos and elevating awe which the waning sunset inspires—by reason of the infinity which it suggests—the “still small voice of the level twilight behind the purple hills,"—the effect, which is the landscape-lover's delight, and the landscape-painter's despair, but which has been most nearly realised in Mr. Millais's pathetic picture—" Autumn Leaves "_bas been dwelt upon with characteristic force by one to whom lovers of the beautiful in nature and art owe much, and is the common heritage of every unsophisticated soul which listens, without affectation, to the voice of Nature as the voice of God. We feel only thankful, then, when a poet clothes in appropriate language the feeling which we cannot express,—without scrutinising with an affected conscientiousness the resemblance to the words of another, whose emotion it is natural to share, and whose expression of it, it is unnatural and unnecessary to steal.
“ When the great sunset burned itself away,
There lay within the sleepy evening sky
Of drowsy and most melancholy light." —Horton, p. 27.
In all our hearts, as mournful light
And dwells in heaven half the night."--Tennyson, to J. S.
We have spoken with admiration of the frequent force and elegance of Mr. Smith's imagery, especially in such images as are drawn from surrounding nature. We will give a few instances of his general richness in this respect, taken at random from the several poems
in the book.
Of the used yesterday, there laughing stood
A new-born morning from the Infinite
Before my very face.”-Horton, p. 7.
Battens upon the green." - Ibid. 19.
Out on you from the door.”-Ibid. p. 20.
Arose in noisy clouds from trees that kept
A great man's house a secret.”—Ibid. p. 27. “ Round selfish shores for ever moans the hurt and wounded sea. Ibid. p. 32.
“But my spirit droops,
Which clothes, as if with silence, and deep sleep,
“I would not linger on to age, and have
116. Then we have a quaint simile in another strain :
“The bellied landlord with his purple head,
Like a red cabbage on December morn
Crusted with snow.”-Horton, p. 16. Then a striking expression in describing the rapid gathering, bursting, and dispersion of a noon-tide summer storm-cloud :
« On it crept,
Drinking the sunlight from a hundred glens ;
Boy's Poem, p. 144. Again, the deep stillness of night,--the stillness which may be felt,-is illustrated in the following striking image:
“ With low sweet voices of a thousand streams,
Some near, some far remote, faint trickling sounds
Lastly, we transcribe the following fanciful apostrophe to sleep, by an absent lover :
Come, blessed sleep,
of time.” We would instance also the opening pages of “Squire Maurice' for appropriate and well-sustained imagery: all which examples exhibit, we think, a Tennysonian terseness and condensation of expression which show that Mr. Smith has studied his master to some purpose;
But it would be unfair to a poet whose writing is frequently beautiful, always pleasant reading, not to give a more continuous illustration of his style and power. Let the following sketch of a Counting-House companion be a specimen,-we fear it is the only one in the book,-of the insight into character which Mr. Smith really possesses, if he would not keep his eye constantly turned inwards upon himself, as well as of the quiet vein of satire which it abundantly indicates.
« And there was one,
Blushing hot to the ears. 'Mong these I sat.”—Horton, p. 9. A few lines from “A Boy's Poem," (p. 111,) will exhibit not only the writer's deep sympathy with the sights and sounds of external nature, but a sensitive and imaginative mind, and a musical
“ I have suffered much,
eye and cheek, hath touched them too, and made