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shortness of his busy little career, and the disappointments and weaknesses by which it is beset, with a genuine admiration of the great capacities he unfolds, and the high destiny to which he seems to be reserved, works out a very beautiful and engaging picture, both of the affections by which Life is endeared, the trials to which it is exposed, and the pure and peaceful enjoyments with which it may often be filled.
This, after all, we believe, is the tone of true wisdom and true virtue-and that to which all good natures draw nearer, as they approach the close of life, and come to act less, and to know and to meditate more, on the varying and crowded scene of human existence. When the inordinate hopes of early youth, which provoke their own disappointment, have been sobered down by longer experience and more extended views-when the keen contentions, and eager rivalries, which employed our riper age, have expired or been abandoned—when we have seen, year after year, the objects of our fiercest hostility, and of our fondest affections, lie down together in the hallowed peace of the grave-when ordinary pleasures and amusements begin to be insipid, and the gay derision which seasoned them to appear flat and importunate--when we reflect how often we have mourned and been comforted-what opposite opinions we have successively maintained and abandoned-to what inconsistent habits we have gradually been formed-and how frequently the objects of our pride have proved the sources of our shame! we are naturally led to recur to the careless days of our childhood, and from that distant starting place, to retrace the whole of our career, and that of our contemporaries, with feelings of far greater humility and indulgence than those by which it had been actually accompanied :-to think all vain but affection and honour-the simplest and cheapest pleasures the truest and most precious and generosity of sentiment the only mental superiority which ought either to be wished for or admired.
We are aware that we have said "something too much of this;" and that our readers would probably have been more edified, as well as more delighted, by Mr. Rogers' text, than with our preachment upon it. But we were anxious to convey to them our sense of the spirit in which this poem is written ;-and conceive, indeed, that what we have now said falls more strictly within the line of our critical duty, than our general remarks can always be said to do;-because the true character and poetical effect of the work seems, in this instance, to depend much more ou its moral expression, than on any of its merely literary qualities.
The author, perhaps, may not think it any compliment to be thus told, that his verses are likely to be greater favourites with the old than with the young-and yet it is no small compliment, we think, to say, that they are likely to be more favourites with his readers every year they live:-And it is at vents true, whether it be a compliment
or not, that as readers of all ages, if they are any way worth pleasing, have little glimpses and occasional visitations of those truths which longer experience only renders more familiar, so no works ever sink so deep into amiable minds, or recur so often to their remembrance, as those which embody simple, and solemn, and reconciling truths, in emphatic and elegant language—and anticipate, as it were, and bring out with effect, those salutary lessons which it seems to be the great end of our life to inculcate. The pictures of violent passion and terrible emotion — the breathing characters, the splendid imagery and bewitching fancy of Shakespeare himself, are less frequently recalled, than those great moral aphorisms in which he has so often
Told us the fashion of our own estate The secrets of our bosoms
and, in spite of all that may be said by grave persons, of the frivolousness of poetry, and of its admirers, we are persuaded that the most memorable, and the most generally admired of all its productions, are those which are chiefly recommended by their deep practical wisdom; and their coincidence with those salutary imitations with which nature herself seems to furnish us from the passing scenes of our existence.
The literary character of the work is akin to its moral character; and the diction is as soft, elegant, and simple, as the sentiments are generous and true. The whole piece, indeed, is throughout in admirable keeping; and its beauties, though of a delicate, rather than an obtrusive character, set off each other to an attentive observer, by the skill with which they are harmonised, and the sweetness with which they slide into each other. The outline, perhaps, is often rather timidly drawn, and there is an occasional want of force and brilliancy in the colouring; which we are rather inclined to ascribe to the refined and somewhat fastidious taste of the artist, than to any defect of skill or of power. We have none of the broad and blazing tints of Scott-nor the startling contrasts of Byronnor the anxious and endlessly repeated touch of Southey-but something which comes much nearer to the soft and tender manner of Campbell; with still more reserve and caution, perhaps, and more frequent sacrifices of strong and popular effect, to an abhorrence of glaring beauties, and a disdain of vulgar
The work opens with a sort of epitome of its subject-and presents us with a brief abstract of man's (or at least Gentleman's) life, as marked by the four great eras of his birth -his coming of age-his marriage-and his death. This comprehensive picture, with its four compartments, is comprised in less than thirty lines.-We give the two latter scenes only.
Soon, issuing forth, shall glitter through the trees "And soon again shall music swell the breeze; Vestures of Nuptial white; and hymns be sung, And violets scatter'd round; and old and young,
In every cottage-porch with garlands green,
"And once, alas! nor in a distant hour,
After some general and very striking reflections upon the perpetual but unperceived gradations by which this mysterious being is carried through all the stages of its fleeting existence, the picture is resumed and expanded with more touching and discriminating details. Infancy, for example, is thus finely delineated:
The child is born, by many a pang endear'd.
Her by her smile how soon the stranger knows;
And laughing eyes and laughing voices fill Their halls with gladness. She, when all are still, Comes and undraws the curtain as they lie In sleep, how beautiful! He, when the sky "The hour arrives, the monent wish'd and Gleams, and the wood sends up its harmony,
When, gathering round his bed, they climb to share
He turns their thoughts to Him who made them all."
pp. 19, 20.
This is pursued in the same strain of tenderness and beauty through all its most interesting bearings;-and then we pass to the bolder kindlings and loftier aspirations of Youth.
Then is the Age of Admiration-then
We cut short this tablature, however, as well as the spirited sketches of impetuous courage and devoted love that belong to the same period, to come to the joys and duties of maturer life; which, we think, are described with still more touching and characteristic beauties. The Youth passes into this more tranquil and responsible state, of course, by Marriage; and we have great satisfaction in recurring, with our uxorious poet, to his representation of that engaging ceremony, upon which his thoughts seem to dwell with so much fondness and complacency.
"Then are they blest indeed! and swift the hours Till her young Sisters wreathe her hair in flowers, Kindling her beauty-while, unseen, the least Twitches her robe, then runs behind the rest,
Known by her laugh that will not be suppress'd.
The scene, however, is not always purely domestic-though all its lasting enjoyments are of that origin, and look back to that consummation. His country requires the arm of a free man! and home and all its joys must be left, for the patriot battle. The sanguinary the return is exquisite; nor do we know, any and tumultuous part is slightly touched; But heartfelt beauty, than some of those we are where, any verses more touching and full of
about to extract.
"He goes, and Night comes as it never came!
One hangs the wall with laurel-leaves, and all
Other cares and trials and triumphs await him. He fights the good fight of freedom in the senate, as he had done before in the fieldand with greater peril. The heavy hand of power weighs upon him, and he is arraigned of crimes against the State.
Scatters her loose notes on the sultry air,
"And now once more where most he lov'd to be,
I saw the sun go down!-Ah, then 'twas thine
"Like Hampden struggling in his country's cause,
Again with honour to his hearth restor❜d,
*Traitor's Gate, in the Tower.
+ We know of nothing at once so pathetic and so sublime, as the few simple sentences here alluded to, in the account of Lord Russel's trial.
Lord Russel. May I have somebody write to help my memory?
Mr. Attorney General. Yes, a Servant. Lord Chief Justice. Any of your Servants shall assist you in writing any thing you please for you. Lord Russel. My Wife is here, my Lord, to do it? -When we recollect who Russel and his wife were, and what a destiny was then impending, this makes the heart swell, almost to bursting.
(The humblest servant calling by his name),
-On the day destin'd for his funeral!
pp. 48-50. What follows is sacred to still higher remembrances.
The scene of closing Age is not less beautiful and attractive-nor less true and exemplary.
"'Tis the sixth hour.
"And such, his labour done, the calm He knows, Whose footsteps we have follow'd. Round him glows
An atmosphere that brightens to the last;
They stand between the mountains and the sea;
"How many centuries did the sun go round
"From my youth upward have I longed to tread
"The air is sweet with violets, running wild
We have dwelt too long, perhaps, on a work more calculated to make a lasting, than a strong impression on the minds of its readers -and not, perhaps, very well calculated for being read at all in the pages of a Miscellaneous Journal. We have gratified ourselves, however, in again going over it; and hope we have not much wearied our readers. It is followed by a very striking copy of verses written at Pæstum in 1816-and more characteristic of that singular and most striking scene, than any thing we have ever read, in prose or verse, on the subject. The ruins of Pæstum, as they are somewhat improperly called, consist of three vast and massive Temples, of the most rich and magnificent architecture; which are not ruined at all, but as entire as on the day when they were built, while there is not a vestige left of the city to which they belonged! They stand in a "In such an hour as this, the sun's broad disk desert and uninhabited plain, which stretches Seen at his setting, and a flood of light for many miles from the sea to the mountains Filling the courts of these old sanctuaries, -and, after the subversion of the Roman (Gigantic shadows, broken and confus'd, greatness, had fallen into such complete obli- Across the innumerable columns flung) vion, that for nearly nine hundred years they Led by the mighty Genius of the Place' In such an hour he came, who saw and told, had never been visited or heard of by any in- Walls of some capital city first appear'd, telligent person, till they were accidentally Half raz'd, half sunk, or scatter'd as in scorn; discovered about the middle of the last cen--And what within them? what but in the midst tury. The whole district in which they are These Three, in more than their original grandeur, situated, though once the most fertile and As if the spoiler had fallen back in fear, And, round about, no stone upon another! flourishing part of the Tyrrhene shore, has And, turning, left them to the elements." been almost completely depopulated by the Mal'aria; and is now, in every sense of the word, a vast and dreary desert. The following lines seem to us to tell all that need be told, and to express all that can be felt of a scene so strange and so mournful.
Blew from the Pæstan gardens, slack'd her course.
Age has now
"Now in their turn assisting, they repay
The volume ends with a little ballad, entitled "The Boy of Egremond"-which is well enough for a Lakish ditty, but not quite worthy of the place in which we meet it.
Roderick: The Last of the Goths. By ROBERT SOUTHEY, Esq., Poet-Laureate, and Member of the Royal Spanish Academy. 4to. pp. 477. London: 1814.*
THIS is the best, we think, and the most powerful of all Mr. Southey's poems. It abounds with lofty sentiments, and magnificent imagery; and contains more rich and comprehensive descriptions-more beautiful pictures of pure affection-and more impressive representations of mental agony and exultation than we have often met with in the compass of a single volume.
A work, of which all this can be said with justice, cannot be without great merit; and ought not, it may be presumed, to be without great popularity. Justice, however, has something more to say of it: and we are not quite sure either that it will be very popular, or that it deserves to be so. It is too monotonous too wordy-and too uniformly stately, tragical, and emphatic. Above all, it is now and then a little absurd-and pretty frequently not a little affected.
The author is a poet undoubtedly; but not of the highest order. There is rather more of rhetoric than of inspiration about himand we have oftener to admire his taste and industry in borrowing and adorning, than the boldness or felicity of his inventions. He has indisputably a great gift of amplifying and exalting; but uses it, we must say, rather unmercifully. He is never plain, concise, or unaffectedly simple, and is so much bent upon making the most of every thiug, that he is perpetually overdoing. His sentiments and situations are, of course, sometimes ordinary enough; but the tone of emphasis and pretension is never for a moment relaxed; and the most trivial occurrences, and fantastical distresses, are commemorated with the same vehemence and exaggeration of manner, as the most startling incidents, or the deepest and most heart-rending disasters. This want of relief and variety is sufficiently painful of
I have, in my time, said petulant and provoking things of Mr. Southey :-and such as I would not say now. But I am not conscious that I was ever unfair to his Poetry and if I have noted what I thought its faults, in too arrogant and derisive a spirit, I think I have never failed to give hearty and cordial praise to its beauties and generally dwelt much more largely on the latter than the former. Few things, at all events, would now grieve me more, than to think I might give pain to his many friends and admirers, by reprint ing, so soon after his death, any thing which might appear derogatory either to his character or his genius; and therefore, though I cannot say that I have substantially changed any of the opinions I have formerly expressed as to his writings, I only insert in this publication my review of his last considerable poem: which may be taken as conveying my matured opinion of his merits-and will be felt, I trust, to have done no scanty or unwilling justice to his great and peculiar powers.
itself in a work of such length; but its worst effect is, that it gives an air of falsetto and pretension to the whole strain of the compo sition, and makes us suspect the author of imposture and affectation, even when he has good enough cause for his agonies and rap tures.
How is it possible, indeed, to commit our sympathies, without distrust, to the hands of a writer, who, after painting with infinite force the anguish of soul which pursued the fallen Roderick into the retreat to which his crimes had driven him, proceeds with redoubled emphasis to assure us, that neither his remorse nor his downfal were half so intolera ble to him, as the shocking tameness of the sea birds who flew round about him in that utter solitude! and were sometimes so familiar as to brush his cheek with their wings! "For his lost crown
And sceptre never had he felt a thought
This, if we were in bad humour, we should be tempted to say, was little better than drivelling;-and certainly the folly of it is greatly aggravated by the tone of intense solemnity in which it is conveyed: But the worst fault by far, and the most injurious to the effect of the author's greatest beauties, is the extreme diffuseness and verbosity of his style, and his unrelenting anxiety to leave nothing to the fancy, the feeling, or even the plain understanding of his readers-but to have every thing set down, and impressed and hammered into them, which it may any how conduce to his glory that they should comprehend. There never was any author, we are persuaded, who had so great a distrust of his readers' capacity, or such an unwillingness to leave any opportunity of shining unimproved; and accordingly, we rather think there is no author. who, with the same talents and attainments, has been so generally thought tedious-or acquired, on the whole, a popularity so inferior to his real deservings. On the present occasion, we have already said, his deserv ings appear to us unusually great, and his faults less than commonly conspicuous. But though there is less childishness and trifling in this, than in any of his other productions,