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of valuable essays—which give a view of of rural scenery—whose timid and delicate different sides of important questions, like the soul shrunk from the slighest encounter with articles of the Edinburgh, but without the alloy the world—whose very satire breathed gentlewhich the inconsistency of the writers of the ness and good-will to all his fellows-was last mingle with their discussions. It has, we agonized by its unfeeling scorn. Kirke White, believe, on one or two occasions, suggested another spirit almost too gentle for earthvaluable hints to the legislature-especially in painfully struggling by his poetical efforts to its view of the effects arising from the punish- secure the scanty means of laborious study, ment of the pillory—which, although somewhat was crushed almost to earth by its pitiable vicious and extravagant in its style, set the sentence, and his brief span of life filled with evils of that exhibition in so clear a light, that bitter anguish. This Review seems about it was shortly after abolished, except in the twenty years behind the spirit of the times; instance of perjury. As the subjeci had not and this, for a periodical work, is fully equal been investigated before, and the abolition fol- to a century in former ages. lowed so speedily, it may reasonably be pre Far other notice does the Eclectic Review sumed that this essay had no small share in require. It is, indeed, devoted to a party; and terminating an infliction in which the people to a party whose opinions are not very favourwere, at once, judges and executioners—all the able to genial views of humanity, or to deep remains of virtue were too often extinguished admiration of human genius. But not all the -and justice perpetually insulted in the execu- fiery zeal of sectarianism which has sometimes tion of its own sentences.
blazed through its disquisitions-nor all the The Retrospective Review is a bold experiment strait-laced nicely with which it is sometimes in these times, which well deserves to succeed, disposed to regard earthly enjoyments-nor all and has already attained far more notice than the gloom which its spirit of Calvinism sheds we should have expected to follow a periodicals on the mightiest efforts of virtue-can prevent work which relates only to the past. To unveil us from feeling the awe-striking influences of with a reverent hand the treasures of other honest principle of hopes which are not days-to disclose ties of sympathy with old shaken by the fluctuations of time-of faith time which else were hidden-to make us feel which looks to “temples not made with hands, that beauty and truth are not things of yester- eternal in the heavens." The Eclectic Review, day-is the aim of no mean ambition, in which indeed, in its earliest numbers, seemed resolved success will be without alloy, and failure with to oppose the spirit of its religion to the spirit out disgrace. There is an air of youth and of intellect and humanity, and even went to inexperience doubtless about some of the arti- the fearful excess of heaping the vilest abuse cles; but can any thing be more pleasing than on Shakspeare, and of hinting that his soul to see young enthusiasm, instead of dwelling was mourning in the torments of hell, over on the gauds of the “ignorant present,” fondly the evils which his works had occasioned in cherishing the venerableness of old time, and the world.* But its conductors have since reverently listening to the voices of ancestral wisdom? The future is all visionary and un
This marvellous effusion of bigotry is contained in real—the past is the truly grand, and subslan- an article on Twiss's Index to Shakspeare in the third
volume of the Review, p. 75. The Reviewer commences tial and abiding. The airy visions of hope with the following tremendous sentence : vanish as we proceed; but nothing can deprive
** If the compiler of these volumes had been properly us of our interest in that which has been. It employment of it bears to his eternal state, we should
sensible of the value of time. and the relation which the is good, therefore, to have one periodical work not have had to present our readers with the pitiable exclusively devoted to "auld lang syne." It is spectacle of a man advanced in years consuming the also pleasant to have one which, amidst an the Plays of Shakspeare."
embers of vitality in making a complete verbal Index to age whose literature is “rapk with all unkind. After acknowledging the genius of Shakspeare, the ness," is unaffected by party or prejudice, which Reviewer observes. He has been called, and justly too, feeds no depraved appetite, which ministers to religion of the Bible will show that it is of human nature no unworthy passion, but breathes one tender in its worst shape, deformed by the basest passions, and and harmonions spirit of revering love for the agitated by the most vicious propensities, that the poet great departed. We shall rejoice, therefore, of his goddess will spread its poisonous fumes over the to see this work "rich with the spoils of time,” hearts of his countrymen, till the memory of his works is and gradually leading even the mere readers extinct. Thousands of unhappy spirits, and thousands of periodical works, to feel with the gentle with unutterable anguishy on the nights and days in which author of that divine sonnet, written in a blank the plays of Shakspeare ministered to their guilty deleaf of Dugdale's Monasticon :
lights." The Reviewer farther complains of the inscription on Garrick's tomb (which is absurd enough, though
on far different grounds)—as “the absurd and impious ** Not harsh nor rugged are the winding ways' epitaph upon the tablet raised to one of the miserable retailers Of hoar antiquity, but strewn with flowers." of his impurities.'' “We commiserate," continues the
critic, “ the heart of the man who can read the following These, we believe, are all the larger periodi- lines without indignation :cal works of celebrity not devoted to merely * And till eternity, with power sublime, scientific purposes. Of the lesser Reviews, Shall mark the mortal hour of hoary time, the Monthly, as the oldest, claims the first no
Shakspeare and Garrick, like twin stars, shall shine,
And each irradiate with a beam divine.' tice; though we cannot say much in its praise. Par nobile fratrum! Your fame shall last during the emA singular infelicity has attended many of its pire of vice and misery, in the extension of which you censures. To most of those who have con- have acted so great a part! We make no apology for our duced to the revival of poetry it has opposed sentiments, untashionable as they are. Feeling the imits jeers and its mockeries. Cowper, who first countable not inerely for the direct effects, but also for restored " free pature's grace” to our pictures the reinotest iniluence of his actions, while we erecrate the
changed, or have grown wiser. Their Reviews a murder, or an authentic description of a of poetry have been, perhaps, on the whole, in birth-day dress, or the nice development of a the purest and the gentlest spirit of any which family receipt, communicated, in their pages, have been written in this age of criticism. to maiden ladies of a certain age an incalculaWithout resigning their doctrines, they have ble pleasure-and when the learned deciphersoftened and humanized those who profess ing of an inscription on some rusty coin sufthen, and have made their system of religion ficed to give them a venerableness in the eyes look smilingly, while they have striven to pre- of the old. If they, then, ever aspired to criti. serve it unspotted from the world. If occa- cism, it was in mere kindness-o give a sionally they introduce their pious feelings friendly greeting to the young adventurer, and where we regard them as misplaced, we may afford him a taste of unmingled pleasure at smile, but not in scorn.* Their zeal is better the entrance of his perilous journey. Now than heartless indifference—their honest de- they are full of wit, satire, and pungent remark nunciations are not like the sneers of envy or touching familiarly on the profoundest questhe heartless jests which a mere desire of ap- tions of philosophy as on the lightest varieties plause inspires. It is something to have real of manners—sometimes overthrowing a system principle in times like these-a sense of things with a joke, and destroying a reputation in the beyond our frail nature-even where the feeling best humour in the world. One magazineof the eternal is saddened by too harsh and the Gentleman's almost alone retains “the exclusive views of God, and of his children: homely beauty of the good old cause,” in pris. for, as observed by one of our old poels, line simplicity of style. This periodical work
is worthy of its title. Its very dulness is “Unless above himself he can Erect himself, how poor a thing is man!"
agreeable to us. It is as destitute of sprightliThe British Critic is a highly respectable tiquarian disquisitions are very pleasant, giving
ness and of gall as in the first of its years. Its anwork, which does not require our praise, or offer any marks for our censure. It is, in a obtrude it on us, or to be designed for a dis
us the feeling of sentiment without seeming to great measure, devoted to the interests of the play of the peculiar sensibility of their authors. church and of her ministers. It has sometimes we would not on any account lose the veteran shown a little sourness in its controversial Mr. Urban-though he will not, of course, sufdiscussions—but this is very different, indeed, fice as a substitute for his juvenile competitors from using cold sneers against unopposing but we heartily wish that he may go flourishauthors. Its articles of criticism on poetry-ing on in his green old age and honest selfif not adorned by any singular felicily of ex: complacency, to tell old stories, and remind us pression-have often been, of late, al once of old times, undisturbed by his gamesome clear-sighted and gentle.
and ambitious progeny! The Edinburgh Monthly Review is, on the
Yet we must turn from his gentle work to whole, one of the ablest and fairest of the gaze on the bright Aurora Borealis, the new Monthly Reviews, though somewhat dispro-l and ever-varying Northern Light-Blackwood's portionably filled with disquisitions on matters | Magazine. We remember no work of which of state policy.
so much might be truly said, both in censure Few literary changes within the late change and in eulogy-no work, at some times so ful years have been more remarkable than the profound, and at others so trifling—one moalteration in the style and spirit of the maga- ment so instinct with noble indignation, the zines. Time was when their modest ambition next so pitifully falling into the errors it had reached only to the reputation of being the denounced—in one page breathing the deepest “abstracts and brief chronicles” of passing and the kindliest spirit of criticism, in another events—when they were well pleased to afford condescending to give currency to the lowest vent to the sighs of a poetical lover, or to give calumnies. The air of young life—the exubelight fluttering for a month to an epigram on a
rance both of talent and of animal spiritslady's fan—when a circumstantial account of which this work indicates, will excuse much names, we cannot but shudder at the state of those who have of that wantonness which evidently arises from opened fountains of impurity at which fashion leads its suc- the fresh spirit of hope and of joy. But there cessire generations greedily to drink."-Merciful Heaven!
are some of its excesses which nothing can * We will give an instance of this with a view to exhibit the peculiarities into which exclusive feelings palliate, which can be attributed to nothing lead; for observation, not for derision. In a very beau- but malignant passions, or to the baser desire tiful article on Wordsworth's Excursion, the critic of extending its sale. Less censurable, but notices a stanza, among several, on the death of Fox, where the poet-evidently not referring to the questions scarcely less productive of unpleasant results, of immortality and judgment, but to the deprivations is its practice of dragging the peculiarities, the sustained by ihe world in the loss of the objects of its conversation, and domestic habits of distinadmiration>exclaims, “A power is passing from the earth
guished individuals into public view, to gratify To breathless nature's vast abyss;
a diseased curiosity at the expense of men But when the mighty pass away,
by whom its authors have been trusted. Such What is it more than this, That man, who is from God sent forth,
a course, if largely followed, would destroy all Doth yet to God return?
that is private and social in life, and leave us Such ebb and flow will ever be,
nothing but our public existence. How must Then wherefore shall we mourn ?"
the joyous intercourses of society be chilled, On which the Reviewer observes; “The question in the last two lines needs no answer: 'to that in the four and the free unbosoming of the soul be checked, preceding ones we must reply distinctly, 'It is appointed by the feeling that some one is present who to men once to die, but after ihis the JUDGMENT.'”—Heb. I will put down every look, and word, and tone, ix. v. 27. Daniel.
lin a note-book, and exhibit them to the com
mon gaze! If the enshading sanctities of life for inspiration from a purer spring than Belare to be cut away, as in Peter's Letters, or in sher's tap; and to desire sight of Apollo and the Letters from the Lakes—its joys will the Muses in a brighter ring than that of speedily perish. When they can no longer Moulsey-hurst. We ought not to forget the nestle in privacy, they will wither. We can- debt which we owe to this magazine for infusnot, however, refuse to Blackwood's contribu-ing something of the finest and profoundest tors the praise of great boldness in throwing spirit of the German writers into our criticism, away the external dignities of literature, and and for its “high and hearted” eulogies of the mingling their wit and eloquence and poetry greatest, though not the most popular of our with the familiarities of life, with an ease living poets. which nothing but the consciousness of great We have thus impartially, we think, endeaand genuine talent could inspire or justify. voured to perform the delicate task of characMost of their jests have, we think, been carried terizing the principal contemporaries and rivals a little too far. The town begins to sicken of of the New Monthly Magazine ;-of which their pugilistic articles; to nauseate the blended our due regard to the Editor's modesty forbids language of Olympus and St. Giles's; to long I us to speak.
ON THE GENIUS AND WRITINGS OF WORDSWORTH.
(New MONTHLY MAGAZINE.)
How charming is divine Philosophy!
Blessings be on him and immortal praise,
Our readers will be disappointed if they ex. ing sentiment-or one new gleam cast on the pect to find in this article any of the usual inmost recesses of the soul, is more than a Aippancies of criticism. Were we accustom- sufficient compensation for a thousand critical ed to employ them, its subject would utterly errors. False doctrines of taste can endure confound us. Strange is their infatuation only for a little season, but the productions of who can fancy that the merits of a great poet genius are "for all time." Its discoveries are subjected to their decision, and that they cannot be lost-its images will not perishhave any authority to pass judicial censures, its most delicate influences cannot be dissior confer beneficent praises, on one of the di- pated by the changes of times and of seasons. vinest of intellects! We shall attempt to set it may be a curious and interesting question, forth the peculiar immunities and triumphs of whether a poet laboriously builds up his fame Wordsworth's genius, not as critics, but as with purpose and judgment, or, as has most disciples. To him our eulogy is nothing. But falsely been said of Shakspeare, “grows imwe would fain induce our readers to follow us mortal in his own despite;" but it cannot af“where we have garnered up our hearts," and fect his highest claims to the gratitude and would endeavour to remove those influences admiration of the world. If Milton preferred by which malignity and prejudice have striven Paradise Regained to Paradise Lost, does that to deter them from seeking some of the holiest strange mistake detract from our revering of those living springs of delight which poets love? What would be our feeling towards have opened for their species.
critics, who should venture to allude to it as A minute discussion of Wordsworth's system a proof that his works were unworthy of pewill not be necessary to our design. It is rusal, and decline an examination of those manifestly absurd to refer to it as a test of his works themselves on the ground that his perpoetical genius. When an author has given verse taste sufficiently proved his want of numerous creations to the world, he has fur- genius? Yet this is the mode by which ponished positive evidence of the nature and ex- pular Reviewers have attempted to depreciate tent of his powers, which must preclude the Wordsworth--they have argued from his theonecessity of deducing an opinion of them from ries to his poetry, instead of examining the the truth or falsehood of his theories. One poetry itself-as if their reasoning was better noble imagination-one profound and affect than ihe fact in question, or as if one eternal
image set up in the stateliest region of poesy, hinted allusion, or nice shade of feeling, which had not value to outweigh all the truths of may adorn it. If by “poetic diction” is incriticism, or to atone for all its errors? tended the vivid expression of poetic thoughts,
Not only have Wordsworth's merits been to annihilate it, is to annibilate poetry; but improperly rested on his system, but that if it means certain ornamental phrases and system itself has been misrepresented with forms of language not necessary to such exno common baseness. From some of the pression, it is, at best, but a splendid error. attacks directed against it, a reader might Felicity of language can never be other than infer that it recommended the choice of the the distinct expression of felicitous thought. meanest subjects, and their treatment in the The only art of diction in poetry, as in prose, meanest way; and that it not only represented is the nice bodying forth of each delicate vipoetry as fitly employed on things in them- bration of the feelings, and each soft shade of selves low and trivial, but that it forbade the the images, in words which at once make us clustering and delicate fancies about them, or conscious of their most transient beauty. At the shedding on them any reconciling and all events, there was surely no offence in an softening lustre. Multitudes, indeed, have individual's rejecting the aid of a style regardwondered as they read, not only that any per- ed as poetic, and relying for his fame on the sons should be deluded by its perverse insi- naked majesty of his conceptions. The tripidities, but that critics should waste their ridi- umph is more signal when the Poet uses cule on an author who resigned at once all language as a mirror, clear, and itself invisipretensions to the poetic art. In reality, this ble, to reflect his creations in their native calumniated system has only reference to the hues,-than when he employs it as a stained diction, and to the subjects of poetry. It has and fallacious medium to exhibit its own vamerely taught, that the diction of poetry is not rieties of tint, and to show the objects which different from that of prose, and suggested it partially reveals in its own prismatic that themes hitherto little dwelt on, were not colouring. unsuited to the bard's divinest uses.
But it is said that the subjects of Wordsbriefly examine what ground of offence there worth's poetry are not in themselves so lofly is in the assertion or application of these as those which his noblest predecessors have positions.
chosen. If this be true, and he has yet sucSome have supposed that by rejecting a ceeded in discovering within them poetical diction as peculiar to poetry, Wordsworth affinilies, or in shedding on them a new condenied to it those qualities which are its es- secration, he does not surely deserve ill of his sence, and those "harmonious numbers" species. He has left all our old objects of which its thoughts “ voluntarily move." Were veneration uninjured, and has enabled us to his language equivocal, which it is not, the recognise new ones in the peaceful and faslightest glance at his works would show that miliar courses of our being. The question is he could have no design to exclude from it the not whether there are more august themes stateliest imaginings, the most felicitous allu- than those which he has treated, but whether sions, or the choicest and most varied music. these last have any interest, as seen in the He objected only to a peculiar phraseology- light which he has cast around them. If they a certain hacknied strain of inversion—which have, the benefits which he has conferred on had been set up as distinguishing poetry from humanity are more signal, and the triumph prose, and which, he contended, was equally of his own powers is more undivided and false in either. What is there of pernicious more pure, than if he had treated on subjects heresy in this, unless we make the crafty which we have been accustomed to revere. politician's doctrine, that speech was given We are more indebted to one who opens to to man to conceal his thoughts, the great us a new and secluded pathway in the regions principle of poetry? If words are fitly com- of fantasy with its own verdant inequalities bined only to convey ideas to the mind, each and delicate overshadings of foliage, than if word having a fixed meaning in itself, no dif- he had stepped majestically in the broad and ferent mode of collocation can be requisite beaten highway to 'swell the triumphant prowhen the noblest sentiment is to be imbodied, cession of laurelled bards. Is it matter of from that which is proper when the dryest accusation that a poet has opened visions of fact is to be asserted. Each term employed glory about the ordinary walks of life-that by a poet has as determinate an office—as he has linked holiest associations to things clearly means one thing as distinguished from which hitherto have been regarded without all others—as a mathematician's scientific emotion—that he has made beauty “a simple phrases. If a poet wishes lucidly to convey product of the common day?" Shall he be à grand picture to the mind, there can be no denied the poetic faculty, who, without the atreason why he should resort to another mode tractions of story-without the blandishments of speech than that which he would employ of diction—without even the aid of those asin delivering the plainest narrative. He will, sociations which have encrusted themselves of course, use other and probably more beau- around the oldest themes of the poet, has for tiful words, because they properly belong to many years excited the animosities of the his subject; but he will not use any different most popular critics, and mingled the love order in their arrangement, because in both and admiration of his genius with the lifecases his immediate object is the same—the blood of hearts neither unreflecting nor unclear communication of his own idea to the gentle ? mind of his reader. And this is true not only But most of the subjects of Mr. Wordsworth, of the chicf object of the passage, but of every I though not arrayed in any adventitious pomp,
have a real and innate grandeur. True it is,/ resentments; but when he is cast abroad to that he moves not among the regalities, but seek a lodging with the owl, and to endure the among the humanities of his art. True it is, fury of the elements, and is only a poor and that his poetry does not “make its bed and despised old man, the exterior crust which a procreant cradle” in the "jutting, frieze, cor- life of prosperity had hardened over his soal nice, or architrave" of the glorious edifices of is broken up by the violence of his sorrows, human power. The universe, in its naked his powers expand within his worn and wasted majesty, and man in the plain dignity of his frame, his spirit awakens in its long-forgotten nature, are his favourite themes. And is there strength, and even in the wanderings of disno might, no glory, no sanctity in these ? traction gives hints of the profoundest philosoEarth has her own venerablenesses her awful phy, and manifests a real kindliness of nature forests, which have darkened her hills for a sweet and most affecting courtesy-of ages with tremendous gloom; her mysterious which there was no vestige in the days of his springs pouring out everlasting waters from pride. The regality of Richard lies not in unsearchable recesses; her wrecks of ele- compliment extern"-the philosophy of Hammental contests; her jagged rocks, monumental let has a princeliness above that of his rank of an earlier world. 'The lowliest of her -and the beauties of Imogen are shed into beauties has an antiquity beyond that of the her soul only by the selectest influences of pyramids. The evening breeze has the old creation. sweetness which it shed over the fields of Ca The objects, which have been usually repaan, when Isaac went out to meditate. The garded as the most poetical, derive from the Nile swells with its rich waters towards the soul itself the far larger share of their poetical bulrushes of Egypt, as when the infant Moses qualities. All their power to elevate, to delight, nestled among them, watched by the sisterly or to awe us, which does not arise from mere love of Miriam. Zion's hill has not passed form, colour, and proportion, is manifestly away with its temple, nor lost its sanctity drawn from the instincts common to the speamidst the tumultuous changes around it, nor cies. The affections have first consecrated all even by the accomplishment of that awful that they revere. “Cornice, frieze, jutting, or religion of types and symbols which once was architrave," are fit nestling-places for poetry, enthroned on its steeps. The sun to which the chiefly as they are the symbols of feelings of poet turns his eye is the same which shone grandeur and duration in the hearts of the beover Thermopylæ; and the wind to which he holders. A poet, then, who seeks at once for listens swept over Salamis, and scattered the beauty and sublimity in their native home of armaments of Xerxes. Is a poet utterly de- the human soul-who resolves“ non sectari prived of fitting themes, to whom ocean, earth, rivulos sed petere fontes"-can hardly be accused and sky, are open-who has an eye for the with justice of rejecting the themes most most evanescent of nature's hues, and the worthy of a bard. His office is, indeed, more most ethereal of her graces—who can “live in arduous than if he selected those subjects the rainbow and play in the plighted clouds,” about which hallowing associations have long or send into our hearts the awful loneliness of clustered, and which other poets have already regions "consecrate to eldest time?" Is there rendered sacred. But if he can discover new nothing in man, considered abstractedly from depths of affection in the soul-or throw new the distinctions of this world—nothing in a tinges of loveliness on objects hitherto combeing who is in the infancy of an immortal mon, he ought not to be despised in proportion life-who is lackeyed by “ a thousand liveried to the severity of the work, and the absence angels"--who is even “ splendid in ashes and of extrinsic aid ! : Wordsworth's persons are pompous in the grave”-to awaken ideas of not invested with antique robes, nor clad in the permanence, solemnity, and grandeur? Are symbols of worldly pomp, but they are “apthere no themes sufficiently exalted for poetry parelled in celestial light.”. By his power in the midst of death and of life-in the desires the bare earth and mountains bare" are and hopes which have their resting-place near covered with an imaginative radiance more the throne of the Eternal-in affections, strạnge holy than that which old Greek poets shed and wondrous in their working, and uncon- over Olympus. The world, as consecrated by querable by time, or anguish, or destiny? his poetic wisdom, is an enchanted scene How little, comparatively, of allusion is there redolent with sweet humanity, and vocal with even in Shakspeare, whose genius will not be “echoes from beyond the grave.” regarded as rigid or austere, to other venera We shall now attempt to express the reasons blenesses than those of the creation, and to for our belief in Wordsworth's genius, by first qualities less common than the human heart! giving a few illustrations of his chief faculties, The very luxuries which surround his lovers and then considering them in their application -the pensive sweetnesses which steal away to the uses of philosophical poetry: the sting from his saddest catastrophies—are We allude first to the descriptive faculty, drawn from man's universal immunities, and because, though not the least popular, it is the the eldest sympathies of the universe. The lowest which Wordsworth possesses. He divinity which "hedges his kings” is only shares it with many others, though few, we humanity's finer essence. Even bis Lear is think, enjoy it in so eminent a degree. It is great only in intellectual might and in the ter- difficult, indeed, to select passages from his rible strangeness of his afflictions. While in- works which are merely descriptive; but those vested with the pomp and circumstance of his which approach nearest to portraiture, and station, he is froward, impatient, thankless-are least imbued with_fantasy, are inasierless than a child in his liberality and in his pieces in their kind. Take, for example, the