Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

Yet from It alone whole Heaven was illuminate alway;
Day and Night being none in the upper firmament, neither
Sun nor Moon, nor Stars; but from that Cross as a fountain
Flow'd the Light uncreated; light all-sufficing, eternal,
Light which was, and which is, and which will be, for ever and ever;
Light of light, which, if daringly gazed on, would blind an Archangel,
Yet the eye of weak man may behold, and beholding is strengthened.
Yea, while we wander below, opprest with our bodily burthen,
And in the shadow of death, this Light is in mercy vouchsafed us,
So we seek it with humble heart; and the soul that receives it
Hath with it healing and strength, peace, love, and life everlasting.

“ Thither the King drew nigh, and kneeling he drank of the water.
Oh what a change was wrought! In the semblance of age he had risen,
Such as at least he appear’d, with the traces of time and affliction
Deep on his faded form, when the burthen of years was upon him.
Oh what a change was wrought! For now the corruptible put on
Incorruption; the mortal put off mortality. Rising
Rejuvenescent he stood in a glorified body, obnoxious
Never again to change, nor to evil and trouble and sorrow,
But for eternity form’d, and to bliss everlasting appointed.” (p. 26-29.)

We have then a section describing the meeting of beatified sovereigns, to whom George the Third is introduced; his entrance being announced in the following strains:

“ Lift up your heads, ye gates; and ye everlasting portals,

“ Be ye lift up! for lo! a glorified monarch approacheth.” In this community of sovereigns are William the Third, Elizabeth, Charles the First, Edward the Sixth, the hero of Cressy, “ in arms and in courtesy peerless," the lion-hearted Richard, too, whose soul the poet tells us would not have been there but that Friendship, disdain of wrong, and generous feeling redeemed it.” In addition to which, we are reminded of two other indisputable claims possessed by this warrior king,

“ Magnanimity there had its seat, and the love of the muses.Beings, as it would appear, not only recognized, but much made of in this poetical heaven. The spirits, too, of the Saxon kings “ who founded our laws and our temples," with Alfred in his due pre-eminence of bliss, are not forgotten by Mr. Southey. Again, in the 9th section, the proclamation is renewed,

“Lift up your heads, ye gates; and ye everlasting portals,

“ Be ye lift up." And a train of British worthies of the olden time present themselves as the inhabitants of the blessed city,-Friar Bacon, and Chaucer, and Shakspeare, and Spenser, and Milton, and Taylor, and Cranmer, and Cecil, and Marlborough, and Newton and Berkeley.

2 A

VOL. XVII. NO. XXXIV.

Next come the worthies of the Georgian age, to whom the 10th section is devoted; Wolfe, and Cook, and Handel, and Mansfield, and Burke, and Hastings, and Cowper, and Nelson, and Wesley, and Hogarth; an eminent group, no doubt, but a little motley in their intermixture; and one can scarcely subdue an inclination to smile at a part of the selection, and the collocation of names. To the same happy abode the poet has also consigned some of the younger luminaries of the same age; and first in order those whom in the battles of Nelson and Wellington the sword arrested in the flower of their prime. Nor does the poet fail to enumerate, with a poet's sympathy, the young favourites of the muses, “ with dews from Castalia sprinkled, Chatterton, and Russell, and Bampfylde, and Henry Kirke White; having unhesitatingly determined that the suicide of the first-named was an act of madness, and could not “for guilt be accounted.”

The 12th and last section, which again begins with opening the everlasting portals, is denominated “ The Meeting;" by which is meant the joyful congression of dear friends and relatives restored to each other in this mansion of the blessed, and principally of our late good old King, and those of his family who have departed this life. The late Princess Charlotte and the Princess Amelia are the chief figures in this happy group ; and the bliss of the parent King is complete. Mr. Southey wakes, and releases his reader, on the point of falling asleep likewise.

Such is the plan of this singular performance, the Vision of Judgement !-a plan which appears to us to have been miserably conceived and wofully executed. This great and terrible day of the Lord is not to be tampered with. It is ill calculated to amuse our vacant hours. Every effort to bring the subject nearer to us, appears to exalt it still farther above our reach. A solemn general anticipation, indeed, of a final sentence to be pronounced upon us by “ the blessed and only Potentate," the most righteous and merciful Judge of quick and dead, the Sovereign Disposer of all things,—such as it is revealed to us in Scripture by vivid and momentary glances, as heaven's chambers are opened when the lightning lifts up the curtain of the night,--at once elevates and chastens the soul, strengthens it with holy hope, and shakes it with salutary terror: but any attempt at detail or formal description, on such a subject, can produce only a debasing effect on the mind; and by the necessary assemblage of incongruous and disproportioned ideas, associates with that which alone in its incomparable glory veils itself in awful generalities and ineffable splendour--an effect that borders upon ridicule, profaneness, and puerility. Thus it appears to us that nothing can well exceed in absurdity the 10th section of this poem, in which the worthies of the Georgian age are represented as coming forth to welcome their sovereign. The reader shall have the specimen produced to him, in which he will not fail to observe with what learned and sonorous effect geography is brought in aid of this foreign metre, and to compare with the 66 Vallombrosa,” and “ El Dorado,” and “ Golden Chersonese" of Milton, the “ Germany,” “ Belgium,” and above all the “ Owhỹhee” of Mr. Southey.

“ These with a kindred host of great and illustrious spirits Stood a part, while a train whom nearer duty attracted Thro’ the Gate of Bliss came forth to welcome their Sovereign. Many were they and glorious all. Conspicuous among them Wolfe was seen: And the seaman who fell on the shores of Owhyhee, Leaving a lasting name, to humanity dear as to science: And the mighty musician of Germany, ours by adoption, Who beheld in the King his munificent pupil and patron. Reynolds, with whom began that school of art which hath equall'd Richest Italy's works, and the masterly labours of Belgium, Came in that famous array: and Hogarth, who followed no master, Nor by pupil shall e'er be approach'd, alone in his greatness. Reverend in comely mien, of aspect mild and benignant, There, too, Wesley I saw and knew, whose zeal apostolic, Tho' with error alloy'd, hath on earth its merited honour, As in Heaven its reward. And Mansfield the just and intrepid; Wise Judge, by the craft of the Law ne'er seduced from its purpose; And when the misled multitude raged like the winds in their madness, Not to be moved from his rightful resolves. And Burke I beheld there; Eloquent statesman and sage, who, tho'late, broke loose from his tram

mels, Giving then to mankind what party too long had diverted. Here, where wrongs are forgiven, was the injured Hastings beside him: Strong in his high deserts, and in innocence happy, tho' injured, He, in his good old age, outlived persecution and malice. Even where he had stood a mark for the arrows of slander, He had his triumph at last, when moved with one feeling, the Senate Rose in respect at his sight, and attoned for the sin of their fathers.

“Cowper, thy lovely spirit was there, by death disenchanted From that heavy spell which had bound it in sorrow and darkness, Thou wert there, in the kingdom of peace and of light everlasting. Nelson also was there in the kingdom of peace, tho' his calling While

upon earth he dwelt, was to war and the work of destruction. Not in him had that aweful ministry deaden'd, or weaken'd Quick compassion, and feelings that raise while they soften our nature. Wise in counsel, and steady in purpose, and rapid in action, Never thought of self from the course of his duty seduced him, Never doubt of the issue unworthily warpt his intention. Long shall his memory live, and while his example is cherish'd, From the Queen of the Seas, the sceptre shall never be wrested.”

(pp. 36-38.)

[ocr errors]

It gives us no pleasure to criticise with severity any production of Mr. Southey's. Our language and our literature have been much indebted to him; nor has he cancelled that debt by any base sacrifices at the shrine of voluptuousness. Poetry has lost none of its dignity in his hands, and the Muse has been the handmaid of virtue. He has set up no specious crimes in the place of moral excellence, nor helped to confound the standard of right and wrong; but in this age of education and great national efforts for general improvement, he has made the most captivating of all arts administer to the same high purpose : and while the balance is trembling between the good and ill results of this rage of universal instruction, he throws the weight of his commanding genius into the scale of beneficial influence. Some of his very sweet stanzas in his “ Lay of the Laureate" are still sounding in our ears, while we are paying this tribute to the merits of Mr. Southey; and, as he has in these unhappy hexameters introduced us to the young Princess Charlotte in the place of immortal bliss, we will set against them three beautiful stanzas taken from the publication last alluded to, wherein he points to the road which was to conduct that hope of England Thither, and to make her in the mean time the source of her country's happiness, by being the pledge of security to the Church establishment:

LIV.
Built on a rock, the fabric may repel

Their utmost rage, if all within be sound:
But if within the gates indifference dwell,

Woe to her then ! there needs no outward wound !
Through her whole frame benumbed, a lethal sleep,
Like the cold poison of the asp, will creep.

LV.
In thee, as in a cresset set on high,

The light of piety should shine far seen,
A guiding beacon fixed for every eye:

Thus from the influence of an honoured queen,
As from its spring should public good proceed,
The peace of heaven shall be thy proper meed.

LVI.
So should return that happy state of yore

When Piety and Joy went hard in hand;
The love which to his flock the shepherd bore;

The old observances which cheered the land ;
The household prayers which, honouring God's high name,

Kept the lamp trimmed, and fed the sacred flame. In the midst of our greatest anger, too, against Mr. Southey, and really he has much provoked our critical indignation by the

puerile poem, if poem it can be called, which has been the subject of this Article, we remember his Roderick with due gratitude, which for high moral sentiment, poetical diction, bold and diversified character, picturesque description, and deep and sustained interest, may challenge a comparison with the best efforts of modern genius. His great and besetting follies, as a poet, are, his innovating ambition, his disregard of models, his addiction to excess, his vanity of simplification, and his rage for retrograde reforms.

Art. X.-ON METEOROLOGY, METEOROLOGICAL INSTRUMENTS, AND THE CLIMATE OF LONDON.

1. The Climate of London, deduced from Meteorological Observations, made at different Places in the Neighbourhood of the Metropolis. By Luke Howard. 2 vols. 8vo. London, 1818 & 1820.

2. Description of Instruments designed for extending and improve ing Meteorological Observations. By John Leslie, Esq. Professor of Natural Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh. 8vo. pp. 48. Edinburgh, 1820.

3. Observations on the Climate of Penzance, and the District of the Lands-End in Cornwall. By John Forbes, M.D. Secretary of the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall. 8vo. pp. 64. Penzance, 1821.

NOTWITHSTANDING the immense mass of meteorological facts recorded in the scientific journals of every country in Europe, during the last and present centuries, and the occasional collation of these by men of eminence, with the view, and often with the effect, of arriving at more general truths, it must be admitted, that the important science of Meteorology is still in its infancy. It must be allowed, however, that it has made much progress, especially during the last forty or fisty years; and that its existing condition is maturity, compared with its pristine imbecility. Like every other branch of science, it has experienced the effect of the purifying spirit diffused by the general adoption of the Baconian philosophy, and the necessary exaltation flowing from the advancement and improvement of every department of natural knowledge. For many years past the general attention of meteorologists has been directed to the faithlul observation of all the known phenomena connected with this science, without any ulterior object, in general, but that of amassing a stock of materials, which might furnish future in

« ForrigeFortsett »