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now somewhat out of date, subsequent events have only served to prove the correctness of what is advanced in them."
Desirous as we are at all times that the efforts in behalf of constitutional liberty should prevail, although unwilling to make the Monthly Review an arena of political contention, we have to add to the statement of the author, that no impartial reader can rise from the perusal of the "Sequel" without being convinced that he is an able expounder of Constitutional principles, and thoroughly acquainted with Spain in by-gone and current times. The Quarterly Reviewer and Lord Carnarvon manifestly come off only second best in a trial of strength with him.
ART. XVI.-Sketches from Life, Lyrics from the Pentateuch and other Poems. By TH. RAGG. London: Longman. 1837. ENGLAND is rich in the number and excellence of her uneducated poets, and her manufacturing districts particularly so. It is not to be expected that these gifted ones should generally pour their souls out in song on any themes beyond those which untarnished nature presents, or the scenes of endearment and sorrow witnessed within the portals of the domestic sanctuary these latter far most frequently consisting of strugglings with want or embittering neglect. Mr. Ragg, the "Nottingham Mechanic," is by no means and in no sense an exception to this disheartening view of the history of real genius. Domestic afflictions and pecuniary straits, as a natural result, have overtaken him, which (although his former poems "The Deity," "The Martyr of Verulam," &c. are deservedly regarded as being amongst the most remarkable English poems of modern times) have proved far more constant and powerful than the homage or rewards due to merit. It is to be hoped, however, that the present volume which appears to us entitled to higher consideration than any of his other works, on account of the greater earnestness, variety, and culture displayed in it, will recall and rivet the country's attention to a bard of nature's own creation, and obtain for him, though tardily, a distinguished situation in life. It is of little consequence from what part of these Poems we take a sample, every one of them breathing a pure or lofty strain of thought decked in fancy's aptest yet coyest language. We are at a loss whether most to admire the vigour of understanding, the grace of sentiment, or the compass of expression and the flow of rhythm which Mr. Ragg has at constant command. From the longest piece in the volume, called "Night," we take quite at random a few illustrative lines.
"But not for me the thunder ever bore
A fearful sound, nor saw I aught to dread
And though the light of Science has made known
And hear his voice thus sounding from on high.
Hark! to that crash,
He speaks in thunders; 'tis His voice which tells
But still keep watch around th' Almighty's throne,
Fervent piety, strong devotional feeling or tender affections characterize every thing which Mr. Ragg versifies. It is not a mere jingling of rhymes or playfulness of pretty fancies in which he delights-but his study and habits of thought all tend to render the poetic muse and temperament the vehicles of sound and elevating doctrines, or humanizing associations. the present volume many of his pieces breathe the language of a bereaved spirit; but even where that spirit pours its plaintiveness over domestic afflictions it carries with it the true and imperishable antidote to all anguish. An example shall be given from "The Sketches from Life;" the verses are headed "My Brother's Come Again."
"Father! my brother's come again!'
VOL. III. (1837.) No. I.
ART. XVII.-Saunders' Portraits and Memoirs of the most Eminent Living Political Reformers. Part I. London: John Saunders.
THE present part contains the portraits of Lord John Russell, Charles Buller, Esq., and John Arthur Roebuck, Esq. They are in every respect, fully equal to the most highly finished productions which the art of
engraving has offered to the public of late years in this country. To those who are familiar with the appearance of either, or all of the distinguished personages here figured, a more favourable opinion will be formed of the work than can possibly be entertained by entire strangers to the originals; but this single circumstance should be one of the most lasting recommendations to a publication which is designed to extend, and perpetuate histories and characters that have deeply impressed themselves upon an era that must ever be regarded as one of the most important and instructive that the annals of Britain and of Europe can hold up to contemplation. In our hearty praise of the Portraits, we must not be understood to treat the letter-press portion of this publication as unworthy of its pictorial characteristics; for unlike many such works, pains and talent no way inferior to those displayed by the Artists are manifest in each of the Memoirs. Indeed, in point of impartiality, candour, and consistent liberality of sentiment, as well as of information and elegance of style, we know not any specimens of modern biographical narrative that surpass these Memoirs. In short, the work ought to be heartily recommended by all who have had the pleasure of beholding such a promising commencement of it, as one which is not only extremely elegant and correct, but calculated to be lastingly interesting and valuable.
1. Earl Harold: a Tragedy. In Five Acts. London: Fraser. 1837. 2. Wallace: a Historical Tragedy. London: Longman. 1837. In the course of the last twelve months or so, there surely has been a more abundant harvest of tragic dramas in this country, than has been witnessed for the same length of time within our recollection. That several of these productions have commanded a very considerable share of admiration is known to our readers, but that all of them taken together, have been capable to keep alive, or to renovate public taste for the acted legitimate drama is much more than can be said. Other causes, to be sure, besides the inferiority or mediocrity of the recent efforts referred to, may be assigned for the neglect into which the stage has fallen in latter days; but still it must also be acknowledged that nothing superior to a third rate order has for a long time, and out of a multifarious list, appeared that can preserve, much less enhance the honour of the British dramatic muse. Yet even when we find the present age thus greatly inferior, it is our painful duty to declare, that the very poorest attempt to which we have alluded in the late numerous list, is excellence itself, when compared with Earl Harold. In short, the piece deserves no other notice than a dogmatic one, that deals in assertion without proof, at least in our pages, where we are so hard pressed for room to admit useful or pleasing matter. We therefore merely state that no one can possibly rise from the perusal of Earl Harold without feeling painfully that he has been wasting his time, without being displeased, and without being disgusted. It might be taken for a burlesque upon Tragedy were there any wit in it-but for turgid feebleness, puerile nonsense, and gross indecencies of thought and language we have never encountered the like
these all along being unredeemed by one mark of talent, or one burst of poetry.
Wallace stands in a different predicament, and if we can judge by the reading merely, is likely to keep up the attention of a theatrical audience. We are doubtful, however, whether the author has acted judiciously when he chose the champion of Scotland for the hero of his effort; for in so doing, he at once enlists against himself such a host of associationsexaggerations, if you will, as to put the muse to a difficult task when required merely to outstrip these ordinary conceptions of such a patriot, warrior, and victim. Still, our author has not unsuccessfully competed with this rival: at least, there is no want of incident and bustle in the piece, or of vigorous language thrown into a poetic form. The chief fault that we have to find with its diction, is that its sound is louder and more swelling, than the ideas are ennobling or numerous, which was to be expected from such a ready writer as could throw off the whole of Wallace "in six days," and in "a burst of enthusiasm"-for so rapid and thus equipped was the author as he himself informs us. A sample will exhibit his fecundity of expression and style of versification.
"A guide for me! I know the pathless wild
Where morning's sun surprises woodland nymphs,
Up so early?
I knew each scene of popular tradition,
Call forth their children to the battle-field."