« PreviousContinue »
It will not be unpleasant, we hope, to our readers, to compare with these stanzas a little poem of Mrs. Hemans, written in a style such as Crabbe had no conception of, and which, though somewhat too aureate, offers no bad specimen of poetical diction.
The fair and accomplished authoress has not received the honour which belongs to her; if her lyre has only few notes, they are full of dignity and a rich and impressive harmony.
" And I too in Arcadia dwelt." A celebrated picture of Poussin represents a band of shepherd youths and maidens suddenly checked in their wanderings and affected with various emotions by the sight of a tomb which bears this inscription-Et in Arcadia Ego.
“ They have wandered in their glee
I too, shepherds ! in Arcadia dweli.'
Some fair creature with the tone
• I too, shepherds ! in Arcadia dwelt.' We would not destroy the charm of this lovely poem by minute criticism, but we may point out two errors which call for correction; when Mrs. Hemans says that
They have climbed on heathery swells," she does not write English, for we have no such word as swells in the language, except as a verb. So, again, a “stillness grey,
" however poetic and pleasing, can hardly, perhaps, be a legitimate phrase for silence, which, having no substance, cannot be invested with colour. Milton, we know, has the raven wing of darkness, and a modern poet of no small fame has the “ white stillness.” We are not sure that the application of either is admissible. The last seems to savour of affectation.
But the muse of Crabbe never seduced him into these delicate mysticisms. His most ambitious lyric efforts, Sir Eustace Grey, and the Hall of Justice, are of a different, and certainly in some parts of a higher order. That passage in which the unfortunate victim of phrenzy is carried to the land of universal silence, is very nobly conceived.
“Upon that boundless plain below,
The setting sun's last rays were shed,
Where all were still, asleep, or dead.
Pillars and pediments sublime,
And clothed the crumbling spoils of time.
" There was I fix'd, I know not how,
Condemn’d for untold years to stay ;
Endured no change of night or day ;
Shone softly solemn and serene,
The setting sun's sad rays were seen.” The quiet of the evening scene, contrasted with the horror and tumult of his own heart, is very beautiful. But the Hall of Justice is, perhaps, upon the whole, of all Crabbe's poems, that which impresses the reader with the highest opinion of his genius. The hard and frightful lineaments of a vicious and abandoned character are marked in
line. We must hasten to bring our observations to a conclusion.
In all the social duties of life, Crabbe was most exemplary; and no person can read the warm-hearted pages of his affectionate biographer without admiring the beautiful union of the Christian with the poet—somewhat of eccentricity, however, mingled with the discharge of his sacred office. His son observes, oddly enough, that he had a trait very desirable in a minister--the most complete exemption from fear or solicitude. “I must have some money, gentlemen,” he would say, in stepping from the pulpit. This was his notice of tithe day. Once or twice, finding it grow dark, he abruptly shut his sermon, saying, “ Upon my word I cannot see, I must give you the rest when we meet again." He would walk into a pew near a window, and stand on a seat and finish his sermon with the most admirable indifference to the remarks of his congregation. He was also, like his own authorrector, careless of hood and band. Now we really do not consider these to be traits “ very
desirable in a minister;" but on the contrary think them calculated to bring religion into contempt and derision, as every thing which impairs the solemnity of the hallowed ministration of the Gospel necessarily must. Such a misfortune, we are sure, was never contemplated by the excellent minister, but we are sorry that he should have lent the influence of his example to any thing like negligence or levity of deportment in a servant of the temple of the Most High.
ART. V.-An Argument to prove the Truth of the Christian
Revelation, By the Earl of Rosse.- London: Murray, 1834. We profess that our spirits have derived very great refreshment from the perusal of this volume. We are at this moment surrounded on all sides with the noise of many waters. In the skies above we behold signs of vicissitude and commotion. In the earth beneath we have the raging of the waves, and the madness of the people who imagine a vain thing. But, in the midst of all this tumult, a voice is heard to declare, with calm solemnity, As for me and my house we will serve the Lord. And this voice comes, not from the retreats of Theology-not from the lips of hirelings—not from the shrines of Priestcraft and Imposture. It comes from the high places of the earth. It comes from the region of dignity and affluence. It is uttered by one who cannot possibly be prompted by any personal and merely secular interest, to the support and propagation of falsehood. We therefore listen to this voice as ominous of good. The pursuits of literature and science, in all their branches, are allowed to form a noble occupation for the opulent and the great. But whenever we behold the honorable of the earth girding themselves up to a patient and faithful investigation of heavenly things, we have before us a spectacle incomparably more elevated than that of mere lettered
We then witness the supremacy of Divine Truth in one of its most potent manifestations. We cannot but feel, with more than ordinary force, the power and the reality of religion, when we find that it can captivate the affections and enchain the thoughts of those who are surrounded by every thing which can make this transitory scene bright and glorious in their eyes. And hence it is that we cordially hail the publication now before us.
it as a faithful and perfectly unbiassed testimony to the truth as it is in Jesus. We even venture most humbly to regard it as an indication that God has not hidden his face from our wise, and our noble, and our mighty men; and that He will yet cause the rich in this world's goods to be likewise rich in faith, to the honor and praise of his holy name.
The style of this work is throughout remarkable for perspicuity and ease.
We can imagine (though there may be some fancy in this) that, even if it had appeared anonymously, we should have been enabled to pronounce that it was the performance of one who was accustomed to the best society. There is nothing ambitious in it-no bursts of fine writing-no fits of overwrought sentiment--not the slightest approach to the confines of enthusiasm. But there is about it a tone of deep and sedate conviction :
and the language in which this is expressed is precisely what might be expected from a person not very solicitous about literary fame, but nevertheless accustomed on all occasions to deliver himself with propriety and self-possession.
But to come to more substantial matters. The noble author commences his argument with the Mosaic history of the creation : and bere it is observable that he ranges through this very dark and awful region of inquiry with much less embarrassment and difficulty than is usually experienced by professional divines. It is natural enough, and it is moreover very fit and right, that the appointed guardians and interpreters of the sacred oracles, should watch over them with more than ordinary jealousy; and nothing could be more ungenerous or more unrighteous, than to stigmatize themi as ignorant and cowardly bigots, for looking with something like a feeling of dismay upon the stupendous Apocalypse which Geology has, of late years, partially disclosed to our view. The Scriptures seem to speak of the vast work of Creation as an affair of six little days. But, lo! the magician hath smitten the earth with bis hammer; and, behold, there is straightway spread out before our eyes a record, written on the solid rocks, which, if it hath been rightly read, speaks of periods and of cycles that baffle calculation. Monuments are laid bare to our gaze, the very preparation of which may have been the work of a hundred ages; -a vast sepulchre, in short, which tells us of a time when this terraqueous globe was the undisputed inheritance of strange and gigantic monsters, unawed by the presence and the dominion of reasoning man. Is it, then, wonderful that they who had hitherto relied with pure simplicity of faith on the oldest written testimony in the world, should have been startled at these prodigies, and should even been disposed, at first, to avert their eyes from the scene, almost with an emotion of incredulous hatred? Would it have been to their honor, that they should have stood by, with cold and faithless apathy, while Philosophy was calling up witnesses from the bowels of the earth, to impeach (as it was feared) the records of inspiration?
There is reason to hope that the nervous agitation, and the feverish excitement, produced by the first disclosure of these subterranean mysteries, are now beginning to subside. For ourselves, we are well content that theology and physical science should each, for a time, it may be for a very long time,) labour in their respective and separate vocations, and upon their own peculiar principles. The geologists, we all know, are intensely busy in exploring and deciphering the documents, which their labours have dug up and brought to light; and even so, we say, let the divines and the critics spare no pains in the interpretation