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work chiefly fails, as we shall presently have occasion to shew.
With these exceptions, however, the poem has a very considerable portion of merit, and is highly intitled to our applause. The scientific descriptions, so far As they reach, are not often erroneous, and are usually conducted with the skill of a master. The same happy turns, the same point and antithesis, which so peculiarly characterize the Abba's preceding productions, here meet us as numerously and with as much spirit r.s ever: we have the same exquisite facility of versification, and the same unrivalled variety of pause and construction. In this last respect Racine alone is superior to him; if, indeed, he be surpassed by any one. Considered simply as z. poetical composition, the whole is admirable; there are passages of finished beauty, of impressive vigour, to which no reader can be insensible; and age, which so often chills and inanimates, has hitherto had no such effect upon Delille. It has certainly in several descriptions given him some degree of prolixity, but we dare not say that it has made him garrulous.
Of his episodes, many are original, and do honour to his invention; the greater number, however, are copied; and copied, as we have already hinted, from poets of our own country. Thomson is a favourite author with M. Delille; and he has freely borrowed from him the well-known tales of Musidora bathing, and the peasant buried in the snow, both inserted in his third book; while, from Darwin, he has intro< duced as freely the admirable description of a whole army overwhelmed in the desarts of Asia by a hurricane of aand.
In his description of the genius or god of nature (dicu dc la naturc),vi\\o appears to our poet on his falling conveniently to sleep, and commands him to write the ensuing poem, the following verses are forcibly written, and will convey some idea of that artificial contrast and antithesis, which is so frequently (perhaps too frequently) running through the poem*
* Autour de lui, !e temps, sur milks aspects nouveaux, Achevait, renversait, repressait ses travaux; i-. Jjes debris s'animaient, la mort etait feconde,
Et la destruction renouvelait le monde.' Chant. I. p. 40;
Pascal was a fellow-townsman of Delille: they were both born at Clermont in Auvergne; and it is impossible for the latter, in discussing the properties of air in book II, to avoid paying the former a compliment to which he is most justly intitled, as having first discovered a method of ascertaining the weight of the atmosphere. The compliment tales place upon an imaginary distant view of the province that gave' them birth
* Salut, champs paternels, salut, ficre montagne
Je me disais; Ici Pascal, dans son audace,
Des colonnes de l'air osa peser la masse;
Mais, hélas! de cet air ignoré si longtemps,
L'illustre infortuné jouira peu d'instants;
La mort l'enlève au monde au printemps de son âge.
Cependant l'Eternel veut qu'en son noble ouvrage
Il adore sa main: 6 regrets superflus!
Il vient, jette un coup d'ceil, voit, admire, et n'est plus.'
. Chant, il. pp. 119, 20.
The English reader must not pass without some effort on our part to make him acquainted wilh the meaning, if not with the beauties, of this address:
Hail, native fields! aspiring mountain, hail!
Limagne! dim-skirting round yon shadowy vale;
Whence, from one common soil, one drop divine
Of his pure blood has mixt itself with mine: , .,
When first I trod thy summit, H E alone,
His name, his memory fill'd th' expanding zone;
Him only saw I; ether laugh'd in vain,
And countless flowers perfum'd th' enamell'd plain.
Here, said 1, Pascal, with audacious hand,
To weigh light air's elastic pillars plann'd;
Too soon, alas! foredoom'd that air to yield
Whose latent energies he first unseal'd.
In life's gay spring-time fell he ;—yet by heaven
Full scope t' unfold his Maker's glory give*
In deathless pages :—weep then, but adore;
He came, look'd round, admir'd, and was no more.
We are not quite certain whether the last line be not a parody of the following couplet of Young; if so, however beautiful as it is, Delille certainly has not improved upon it,
« X*rly, light, transient, chaste as morning dew,
* ft sparkled, was "exhal'd, and went to heaven.'
(To le concluded in the next Number.)
Art. VI. Letters on various Subjects, literary, jialitical, and ecclesiastical, to and from William Nicolsou, D. D. successively Bishop of Carlisle, and of Derry, and Archbishop of Cashell, including the Correspondence of several eminent Prelates from 1683—Vj26-7 inclusive. Faithfully printed from the Originals; and illustrated with literary and historical Anecdotes, by John Nichols, F. S. A. E. & P. 2 vols. 8vo. price 16s. pp. 656. Nichols. Longman and Co. 1809.
"^"OTHlNG can be more variable than critical opinion, when employed upon subjects which are nowise remarkable in themselves, and can pretend only to a derivative importance. 'This collection of letters, the editor rather unceremoniously informs us, 'was preserved by the learned primate with peculiar attention;' though for what peculiar purpose, we are left to conjecture. After the R. R. prelate's decease, they became the property of the Rev. Edward Marshall, M. A. formerly of Clare-hall, Cambridge. This gentleman seems to have 'been of a singularly phlegmatic and deliberate turn of mfavd. He 'intended to have published them;' but so evenly was the balance poised, that he died at the advanced age of 86 "before he could make up his mind on the subject.' The present possessor, who purchased the correspondence in 1808, is not quite so indecisive. For our own part, we cannot severely censure Mr. Marshall for Tiis procrastination; being clearly of opinion that the public would have been no great loser, had these letters mouldered in manuscript for another century.- Not that by any means •we intend to decry them indiscriminately. By a certain class of readers, and particularly by ecclesiastical antiquaries, they will be perused, no doubt, with vast edification and delight. But taken collectively, and as to any general use, we must candidly declare they are, in our humble opinion, "stale, flat, and unprofitable."
The subjects of these letters, as the editor very properly suggests, are chiefly 'literary, political, and ecclesiastical:' but they are also susceptible of a more minute classification into groups ; and this arrangement we prefer, upon the whole, as more nearly coinciding with chronological order, and as being, for a cursory notice at least, more easy and distinct.
The first series of letters, to and from Mr. Thoresby, Mr. Lhywd, Mr. Wotton, Dr. Woodward, and others, extends from 1691 to 1699 ;and relates, chiefly, to Saxon antiquities, to some detache J portions of natural hrstory, and particularly to Woodward's fanciful theory of the deluge, to which in the er.d Mr, Archdeacon Nicolson seems more than half indii ed to become a convert, (p. 97.) His zeal for the antique is fervent in the extreme. He professes to be quite* ravished' with something in the shape of a Runic monument; and is prodigiously 'affected' with an 'inscription,' although unable to ' unriddle' its meaning, (p. 63.) As a natural historian his knowledge does not appear to he very profound^ his employment in this particular being chiefly restricted to the 'diversion of picking up natural rarities by the bye.' (p. 27.)
The next set of letters in this collection (written chiefly in the year 1700) is occupied with a discussion respecting certain societies at that time forming for the reformation of manners; conducted apparently on very liberal and disinterested principles; in their intention highly laudable; and sanctioned by 'a considerable numiier of Lords spiritual and temporal, and by the honourable Judges of both kingdoms.' (p. I'Jl.) They are not sanctioned, however, by Mr. Archdeacon Nicolson. Far from it. He is quite implacable against them, and veuts his hostility in a flood of appropriate epithets. He; presages from these institution1; the ' dov.nfal and ruin of the established church.' (p. 153.) He utterly disapproves of such 'a medley of churchmen and dissenters;' he has no notion of such ' bye-paths' of doing good; he detests 'such unnatural confederacies' with 'a new fanatical brotherhood;' he denounces them as 'anabaptistical errors;' and is alarmed beyond measure at these 'mongrel combinations,' because they ' fly in the face of the twelfth canon', and' ran directly against the mouth' * of the seventy third.—His letter to Sir. Chancellor Gregory, whom, with cruel severity he somewhere terms the"' little man of law,' is written in one of his mildest and most temperate moods.
« Sir, - « Feb. 16, 1699.
1 You may firobably have heard [he had already lodged a complaint against the pauvre petit with his ' own metropolitan'^ of a Society, League, or CoTtnant,at Carlisle ; wherein the Churchmen and Dissenters are mutually engaged for the Reformation of Manners. We certainly are all obliged to prosecute the good ends of his Majesty's late proclamation, in our several stations: but give me leave to tell you, that our zeal for the service of Religion ought to be regulated by the Laws of the Land, and Canons of the Church. We must be aware of making ourselves parties in Converttides and unlawful assemblies, by meeting in numbers (abovefive, besides our own families) on a religious account, unless we can assure ourselves of the benefit of the Act of Toleration; and (then) we are Dissenters, and not members of the Established Church. If we desire to continue in our present Communion, we ought well to consider the words and meaning of the Twelfth Canon.
'Finding that new projects are on foot, I thought fit to give you (a* Well as others) this short hint of my sentiments; to be communicated, if you like them, as you have occasion, either from yourself, or, sir, yours, &c. W. N.
* This curiosa felicitas, we ought in justice to observe, is employed upon another occasion by Mr. Joseph Langhorne, curate and church warden, (p. 309.)
We are happy to observe that the Abp. of York, to whom our zealous archdeacon appeals on account of his' own good bishop's want of briskness,' (p. 152) completely scouts his intolerant construction of the canons; and the Bishop of Chester, in a letter to Mr. Gilpin, after expressing his sorrow ' that the society has met with opposition from the archdeacon of Carlisle,' and his conviction that ' the objections made by some persons are mere pretences,' concludes with a 'hearty prayer that God would give success to such sincere endeavours for the suppressing of vice and wickedness, and the promoting of piety and virtue.' (p. 172.)
To this dispute succeeds the celebrated convocation quarrel, which excited such universal attention in the beginning of the last century. The principal champions were, on the one side Dr. Wake,* and on the other Dr. Atterbury.f The former, in his 'Authority of Christian Princes over their ecclesiastical Synods,' published in 1697, contended, that the power of convening the clergy in convocation, as well as of dissolving them, is vested solely in the prince; that the synod can neither debate nor resolve without bis permission; and that his power is competent to control the execution of their decrees. The latter, in answer to Dr. Wake's book, very needlessly undertook to prove, ' that the King has not only a right of calling the clergy to attend in convocation, but the clergy also have a right of attending, and the lords and commons a right of being attended by them;' and also ' that the convocation has a right to enter into debates and resolutions, without qualifying by a royal licence.' J Obsolete usages might perhaps be adduced to justify these assertions: but the clergy long before thjs period had been released from staled parliamentary duty; and their withdrawment, certainly, could not with reason be. deprecated, inasmuch as it greatly tended to identify their interests with those of the people at large. The dispute,however, as then managed, was more a question of precedent than of expediency; and it may be time to remark, that a great number of letters, in the present collection, were written in consequence of some ' sly glances' aimed by the * Rights and Powers' at our author's ' English historical library.* The Archdeacon's irascibility, on this occasion, is unbounded. He informs Mr. Wotton that his adversary is ' an insolent, illogical, and bungling compiler,'—and (of all things in the world) a « jackpudding!' (p. 176.1 He tells Dr. Chartlett,
* Afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury. •f Afterwards Bishop of Rochester.
% Rights, Powers and Privileges of an English Convocation. Edit. 1700, p. +59.