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ficed to give them a venerableness in the eyes of the old. If they, then, ever aspired to criticism, it was in mere kindness-to give a friendly greeting to the young adventurer, and afford him a taste of unmingled pleasure at the entrance of his perilous journey. Now they are full of wit, satire, and pungent remark

changed, or have grown wiser. Their Reviews a murder, or an authentic description of a of poetry have been, perhaps, on the whole, in birth-day dress, or the nice development of a the purest and the gentlest spirit of any which | family receipt, communicated, in their pages, have been written in this age of criticism. to maiden ladies of a certain age an incalculaWithout resigning their doctrines, they have ble pleasure-and when the learned deciphersoftened and humanized those who professing of an inscription on some rusty coin sufthem, and have made their system of religion look smilingly, while they have striven to preserve it unspotted from the world. If occasionally they introduce their pious feelings where we regard them as misplaced, we may smile, but not in scorn. Their zeal is better than heartless indifference-their honest denunciations are not like the sneers of envy or the heartless jests which a mere desire of applause inspires. It is something to have real principle in times like these-a sense of things beyond our frail nature-even where the feeling of the eternal is saddened by too harsh and exclusive views of God, and of his children: for, as observed by one of our old poets, Unless above himself he can

Erect himself, how poor a thing is man!"†

touching familiarly on the profoundest questions of philosophy as on the lightest varieties of manners-sometimes overthrowing a system with a joke, and destroying a reputation in the best humour in the world. One magazinethe Gentleman's-almost alone retains "the homely beauty of the good old cause," in pristine simplicity of style. This periodical work is worthy of its title. Its very dulness is agreeable to us. It is as destitute of sprightliThe British Critic is a highly respectable tiquarian disquisitions are very pleasant, giving ness and of gall as in the first of its years. Its anwork, which does not require our praise, or us the feeling of sentiment without seeming to offer any marks for our censure. It is, in a great measure, devoted to the interests of the obtrude it on us, or to be designed for a dischurch and of her ministers. It has sometimes We would not on any account lose the veteran play of the peculiar sensibility of their authors. shown a little sourness in its controversial Mr. Urban-though he will not, of course, sufdiscussions but this is very different, indeed, fice as a substitute for his juvenile competitors from using cold sneers against unopposing but we heartily wish that he may go flourishauthors. Its articles of criticism on poetry-ing on in his green old age and honest selfif not adorned by any singular felicity of excomplacency, to tell old stories, and remind us pression-have often been, of late, at once of old times, undisturbed by his gamesome clear-sighted and gentle. and ambitious progeny!

Few literary changes within the late change ful years have been more remarkable than the alteration in the style and spirit of the magazines. Time was when their modest ambition reached only to the reputation of being the "abstracts and brief chronicles" of passing events-when they were well pleased to afford vent to the sighs of a poetical lover, or to give light fluttering for a month to an epigram on a lady's fan-when a circumstantial account of names, we cannot but shudder at the state of those who have opened fountains of impurity at which fashion leads its successive generations greedily to drink "-Merciful Heaven! * We will give an instance of this-with a view to exhibit the peculiarities into which exclusive feelings lead; for observation, not for derision. In a very beautiful article on Wordsworth's Excursion, the critic notices a stanza, among several, on the death of Fox, where the poet-evidently not referring to the questions of immortality and judgment, but to the deprivations sustained by the world in the loss of the objects of its admiration-exclaims,

The Edinburgh Monthly Review is, on the Yet we must turn from his gentle work to whole, one of the ablest and fairest of the gaze on the bright Aurora Borealis, the new Monthly Reviews, though somewhat dispro-and ever-varying Northern Light-Blackwood's portionably filled with disquisitions on matters Magazine. We remember no work of which of state policy. and in eulogy-no work, at some times so so much might be truly said, both in censure profound, and at others so trifling-one moment so instinct with noble indignation, the next so pitifully falling into the errors it had denounced-in one page breathing the deepest and the kindliest spirit of criticism, in another condescending to give currency to the lowest calumnies. The air of young life-the exuberance both of talent and of animal spirits— which this work indicates, will excuse much of that wantonness which evidently arises from the fresh spirit of hope and of joy. But there are some of its excesses which nothing can palliate, which can be attributed to nothing but malignant passions, or to the baser desire of extending its sale. Less censurable, but scarcely less productive of unpleasant results, is its practice of dragging the peculiarities, the conversation, and domestic habits of distinguished individuals into public view, to gratify a diseased curiosity at the expense of men by whom its authors have been trusted. Such a course, if largely followed, would destroy all that is private and social in life, and leave us nothing but our public existence. How must the joyous intercourses of society be chilled, and the free unbosoming of the soul be checked, by the feeling that some one is present who will put down every look, and word, and tone, in a note-book, and exhibit them to the com

"A power is passing from the earth
To breathless nature's vast abyss;
But when the mighty pass away,
What is it more than this,

That man, who is from God sent forth,
Doth yet to God return?

Such ebb and flow will ever be,

Then wherefore shall we mourn?”

On which the Reviewer observes; The question in the last two lines needs no answer: to that in the four preceding ones we must reply distinctly, It is appointed to men once to die, but after this the JUDGMENT.-Heb.

IX. v. 27.

↑ Daniel.

mon gaze! If the enshading sanctities of life | for inspiration from a purer spring than Belare to be cut away, as in Peter's Letters, or in sher's tap; and to desire sight of Apollo and the Letters from the Lakes-its joys will the Muses in a brighter ring than that of speedily perish. When they can no longer Moulsey-hurst. We ought not to forget the nestle in privacy, they will wither. We can- debt which we owe to this magazine for infusnot, however, refuse to Blackwood's contribu- ing something of the finest and profoundest tors the praise of great boldness in throwing spirit of the German writers into our criticism, away the external dignities of literature, and and for its "high and hearted" eulogies of the mingling their wit and eloquence and poetry greatest, though not the most popular of our with the familiarities of life, with an ease living poets. which nothing but the consciousness of great and genuine talent could inspire or justify. Most of their jests have, we think, been carried a little too far. The town begins to sicken of their pugilistic articles; to nauseate the blended language of Olympus and St. Giles's; to long

We have thus impartially, we think, endeavoured to perform the delicate task of characterizing the principal contemporaries and rivals of the New Monthly Magazine;-of which our due regard to the Editor's modesty forbids us to speak.



How charming is divine Philosophy!

Not harsh nor crabbed, as dull fools suppose,
But musical as is Apollo's lute!-MILTON.

Blessings be on him and immortal praise,
Who gave us nobler loves and nobler cares,
The Poet who on earth hath made us heirs
Of truth and pure delight by heavenly lays!-WORDSWORTH.

OUR readers will be disappointed if they expect to find in this article any of the usual Hippancies of criticism. Were we accustomed to employ them, its subject would utterly confound us. Strange is their infatuation who can fancy that the merits of a great poet are subjected to their decision, and that they have any authority to pass judicial censures, or confer beneficent praises, on one of the divinest of intellects! We shall attempt to set forth the peculiar immunities and triumphs of Wordsworth's genius, not as critics, but as disciples. To him our eulogy is nothing. But we would fain induce our readers to follow us "where we have garnered up our hearts," and would endeavour to remove those influences by which malignity and prejudice have striven to deter them from seeking some of the holiest of those living springs of delight which poets have opened for their species.

ing sentiment-or one new gleam cast on the inmost recesses of the soul, is more than a sufficient compensation for a thousand critical errors. False doctrines of taste can endure only for a little season, but the productions of genius are "for all time." Its discoveries cannot be lost-its images will not perish— its most delicate influences cannot be dissipated by the changes of times and of seasons. It may be a curious and interesting question, whether a poet laboriously builds up his fame with purpose and judgment, or, as has most falsely been said of Shakspeare, “grows immortal in his own despite;" but it cannot af fect his highest claims to the gratitude and admiration of the world. If Milton preferred Paradise Regained to Paradise Lost, does that strange mistake detract from our revering love? What would be our feeling towards critics, who should venture to allude to it as A minute discussion of Wordsworth's system a proof that his works were unworthy of pewill not be necessary to our design. It is rusal, and decline an examination of those manifestly absurd to refer to it as a test of his works themselves on the ground that his perpoetical genius. When an author has given verse taste sufficiently proved his want of numerous creations to the world, he has fur- genius? Yet this is the mode by which ponished positive evidence of the nature and ex- pular Reviewers have attempted to depreciate tent of his powers, which must preclude the Wordsworth-they have argued from his theonecessity of deducing an opinion of them from rie? to his poetry, instead of examining the the truth or falsehood of his theories. One poetry itself-as if their reasoning was better noble imagination-one profound and affect-than the fact in question, or as if one eternal

image set up in the stateliest region of poesy, | hinted allusion, or nice shade of feeling, which had not value to outweigh all the truths of criticism, or to atone for all its errors?

Not only have Wordsworth's merits been improperly rested on his system, but that system itself has been misrepresented with no common baseness. From some of the attacks directed against it, a reader might infer that it recommended the choice of the meanest subjects, and their treatment in the meanest way; and that it not only represented poetry as fitly employed on things in themselves low and trivial, but that it forbade the clustering and delicate fancies about them, or the shedding on them any reconciling and softening lustre. Multitudes, indeed, have wondered as they read, not only that any persons should be deluded by its perverse insipidities, but that critics should waste their ridicule on an author who resigned at once all pretensions to the poetic art. In reality, this calumniated system has only reference to the diction, and to the subjects of poetry. It has merely taught, that the diction of poetry is not different from that of prose, and suggested that themes hitherto little dwelt on, were not unsuited to the bard's divinest uses. Let us briefly examine what ground of offence there is in the assertion or application of these positions.

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may adorn it. If by "poetic diction" is intended the vivid expression of poetic thoughts, to annihilate it, is to annihilate poetry; but if it means certain ornamental phrases and forms of language not necessary to such expression, it is, at best, but a splendid error. Felicity of language can never be other than the distinct expression of felicitous thought. The only art of diction in poetry, as in prose, is the nice bodying forth of each delicate vibration of the feelings, and each soft shade of the images, in words which at once make us conscious of their most transient beauty. At all events, there was surely no offence in an individual's rejecting the aid of a style regarded as poetic, and relying for his fame on the naked majesty of his conceptions. The triumph is more signal when the Poet uses language as a mirror, clear, and itself invisible, to reflect his creations in their native hues,-than when he employs it as a stained and fallacious medium to exhibit its own varieties of tint, and to show the objects which it partially reveals in its own prismatic colouring.

But it is said that the subjects of Wordsworth's poetry are not in themselves so lofty as those which his noblest predecessors have chosen. If this be true, and he has yet sucSome have supposed that by rejecting a ceeded in discovering within them poetical diction as peculiar to poetry, Wordsworth affinities, or in shedding on them a new condenied to it those qualities which are its es- secration, he does not surely deserve ill of his sence, and those harmonious numbers" species. He has left all our old objects of which its thoughts "voluntarily move." Were veneration uninjured, and has enabled us to his language equivocal, which it is not, the recognise new ones in the peaceful and faslightest glance at his works would show that miliar courses of our being. The question is he could have no design to exclude from it the not whether there are more august themes stateliest imaginings, the most felicitous allu- than those which he has treated, but whether sions, or the choicest and most varied music. these last have any interest, as seen in the He objected only to a peculiar phraseology-light which he has cast around them. If they a certain hacknied strain of inversion-which had been set up as distinguishing poetry from prose, and which, he contended, was equally false in either. What is there of pernicious heresy in this, unless we make the crafty politician's doctrine, that speech was given to man to conceal his thoughts, the great principle of poetry? If words are fitly combined only to convey ideas to the mind, each word having a fixed meaning in itself, no different mode of collocation can be requisite when the noblest sentiment is to be imbodied, from that which is proper when the dryest fact is to be asserted. Each term employed by a poet has as determinate an office-as clearly means one thing as distinguished from all others as a mathematician's scientific phrases. If a poet wishes lucidly to convey a grand picture to the mind, there can be no reason why he should resort to another mode of speech than that which he would employ in delivering the plainest narrative. He will, of course, use other and probably more beautiful words, because they properly belong to his subject; but he will not use any different order in their arrangement, because in both cases his immediate object is the same the clear communication of his own idea to the mind of his reader. And this is true not only of the chief object of the passage, but of every

have, the benefits which he has conferred on humanity are more signal, and the triumph of his own powers is more undivided and more pure, than if he had treated on subjects which we have been accustomed to revere. We are more indebted to one who opens to us a new and secluded pathway in the regions of fantasy with its own verdant inequalities and delicate overshadings of foliage, than if he had stepped majestically in the broad and beaten highway to swell the triumphant procession of laurelled bards. Is it matter of accusation that a poet has opened visions of glory about the ordinary walks of life-that he has linked holiest associations to things which hitherto have been regarded without emotion-that he has made beauty "a simple product of the common day?" Shall he be denied the poetic faculty, who, without the attractions of story-without the blandishments of diction-without even the aid of those associations which have encrusted themselves around the oldest themes of the poet, has for many years excited the animosities of the most popular critics, and mingled the love and admiration of his genius with the lifeblood of hearts neither unreflecting nor ungentle?

But most of the subjects of Mr. Wordsworth, though not arrayed in any adventitious pomp,

have a real and innate grandeur. True it is, | resentments; but when he is cast abroad to that he moves not among the regalities, but seek a lodging with the owl, and to endure the among the humanities of his art. True it is, fury of the elements, and is only a poor and that his poetry does not "make its bed and despised old man, the exterior crust which a procreant cradle" in the "jutting, frieze, cor- life of prosperity had hardened over his soul nice, or architrave" of the glorious edifices of is broken up by the violence of his sorrows, human power. The universe, in its naked his powers expand within his worn and wasted majesty, and man in the plain dignity of his frame, his spirit awakens in its long-forgotten nature, are his favourite themes. And is there strength, and even in the wanderings of disno might, no glory, no sanctity in these? traction gives hints of the profoundest philosoEarth has her own venerablenesses-her awful phy, and manifests a real kindliness of nature forests, which have darkened her hills for a sweet and most affecting courtesy-of ages with tremendous gloom; her mysterious which there was no vestige in the days of his springs pouring out everlasting waters from pride. The regality of Richard lies not in unsearchable recesses; her wrecks of ele- "compliment extern"-the philosophy of Hammental contests; her jagged rocks, monumental let has a princeliness above that of his rank of an earlier world. The lowliest of her and the beauties of Imogen are shed into beauties has an antiquity beyond that of the her soul only by the selectest influences of pyramids. The evening breeze has the old creation. sweetness which it shed over the fields of Canaan, when Isaac went out to meditate. The Nile swells with its rich waters towards the bulrushes of Egypt, as when the infant Moses nestled among them, watched by the sisterly love of Miriam. Zion's hill has not passed away with its temple, nor lost its sanctity amidst the tumultuous changes around it, nor even by the accomplishment of that awful religion of types and symbols which once was enthroned on its steeps. The sun to which the poet turns his eye is the same which shone over Thermopyla; and the wind to which he listens swept over Salamis, and scattered the armaments of Xerxes. Is a poet utterly deprived of fitting themes, to whom ocean, earth, and sky, are open-who has an eye for the most evanescent of nature's hues, and the most ethereal of her graces-who can "live in the rainbow and play in the plighted clouds," or send into our hearts the awful loneliness of regions "consecrate to eldest time?" Is there nothing in man, considered abstractedly from the distinctions of this world-nothing in a being who is in the infancy of an immortal life who is lackeyed by "a thousand liveried angels"-who is even "splendid in ashes and pompous in the grave"-to awaken ideas of permanence, solemnity, and grandeur? Are there no themes sufficiently exalted for poetry in the midst of death and of life-in the desires and hopes which have their resting-place near the throne of the Eternal-in affections, strange and wondrous in their working, and unconquerable by time, or anguish, or destiny? How little, comparatively, of allusion is there even in Shakspeare, whose genius will not be regarded as rigid or austere, to other venerablenesses than those of the creation, and to qualities less common than the human heart! The very luxuries which surround his lovers -the pensive sweetnesses which steal away the sting from his saddest catastrophies-are drawn from man's universal immunities, and the eldest sympathies of the universe. The divinity which "hedges his kings" is only humanity's finer essence. Even his Lear is great only in intellectual might and in the terrible strangeness of his afflictions. While invested with the pomp and circumstance of his station, he is froward, impatient, thanklessless than a child in his liberality and in his

The objects which have been usually regarded as the most poetical, derive from the soul itself the far larger share of their poetical qualities. All their power to elevate, to delight, or to awe us, which does not arise from mere form, colour, and proportion, is manifestly drawn from the instincts common to the species. The affections have first consecrated all that they revere. "Cornice, frieze, jutting, or architrave," are fit nestling-places for poetry, chiefly as they are the symbols of feelings of grandeur and duration in the hearts of the be- . holders. A poet, then, who seeks at once for beauty and sublimity in their native home of the human soul-who resolves "non sectari rivulos sed petere fontes"-can hardly be accused with justice of rejecting the themes most worthy of a bard. His office is, indeed, more arduous than if he selected those subjects about which hallowing associations have long clustered, and which other poets have already rendered sacred. But if he can discover new depths of affection in the soul-or throw new tinges of loveliness on objects hitherto common, he ought not to be despised in proportion to the severity of the work, and the absence of extrinsic aid! Wordsworth's persons are not invested with antique robes, nor clad in the symbols of worldly pomp, but they are "apparelled in celestial light." By his power "the bare earth and mountains bare" are covered with an imaginative radiance more holy than that which old Greek poets shed over Olympus. The world, as consecrated by his poetic wisdom, is an enchanted sceneredolent with sweet humanity, and vocal with "echoes from beyond the grave."

We shall now attempt to express the reasons for our belief in Wordsworth's genius, by first giving a few illustrations of his chief faculties, and then considering them in their application to the uses of philosophical poetry.

We allude first to the descriptive faculty, because, though not the least popular, it is the lowest which Wordsworth possesses. He shares it with many others, though few, we think, enjoy it in so eminent a degree. It is difficult, indeed, to select passages from his works which are merely descriptive; but those which approach nearest to portraiture, and are least imbued with fantasy, are masterpieces in their kind. Take, for example, the

following picture of masses of vapour receding among the steeps and summits of the mountains, after a storm, beneath an azure sky; the earlier part of which seem almost like another glimpse of Milton's heaven; and the conclusion of which impresses us solemnly with the most awful visions of Hebrew prophecy :

"A step,

A single step which freed me from the skirts
Of the blind vapour, open'd to my view
Glory beyond all glory ever seen

By waking sense or by the dreaming soul-
The appearance instantaneously disclosed,
Was of a mighty city-boldly say
A wilderness of building, sinking far
And self-withdrawn into a wondrous depth
Far sinking into splendour-without end!
Fabric it seemed of diamond and of gold,
With alabaster domes and silver spires;
And blazing terrace upon terrace high
Uplifted: here serene pavilions bright
In avenues disposed; there towers begirt
With battlements that on their restless fronts
Bore stars, illumination of all gems!

O'twas an unimaginable sight;

Clonds, mists, streams, watery rocks, and emerald turf,
Clouds of all tincture, rocks and sapphire sky,
Confused, commingled, mutually inflamed,
Molten together, and composing thus,
Each lost in each, that marvellous array
Of temple, palace, citadel, and huge
Fantastic pomp of structure without name,
In fleecy folds voluminous enwrapp'd.
Right in the midst, where interspace appear'd
Of open court, an object like a throne
Beneath a shining canopy of state

Stood fix'd, and fix'd resemblances were seen
To implements of ordinary use,

But vast in size, in substance glorified;
Such as by Hebrew prophets were beheld
In vision-forms uncouth of mightiest power,
For admiration and mysterious awe!"

Excursion, B. II.

Contrast with this the delicate grace of the following picture, which represents the White Doe of Rylstone-that most beautiful of mysteries on her Sabbath visit to the grave of her sainted lady:

"Soft-the dusky trees between

And down the path through the open green
Where is no living thing to be seen;
And through yon gateway where is found,
Beneath the arch with ivy bound,

Free entrance to the church-yard ground;
And right across the verdant sod
Towards the very house of God;
-Comes gliding in with lovely gleam,
Comes gliding in serene and slow,
Soft and silent as a dream,

A solitary Doe!

White is she as lily in June;

And beauteous as the silver moon,
When out of sight the clouds are driven
And she is left alone in heaven;
Or like a ship some gentle day
In sunshine sailing far away,
A glittering ship, that hath the plain
Of ocean for her own domain.


What harmonious pensive changes
Wait upon her as she ranges
Round and through this pile of state,
Overthrown and desolate!
Now a step or two her way
Is through space of open day,

Where the enamour'd sunny light
Brightens her that was so bright;
Now doth a delicate shadow fall,
Falls upon her like a breath,
From some lofty arch or wall,
As she passes underneath:
Now some gloomy nook partakes
Of the glory which she makes,-
High-ribb'd vault of stone, or cell
With perfect cunning framed, as well
Of stone and ivy, and the spread
Of the elder's bushy head;
Some jealous and forbidding cell,
That doth the living stars repel,

And where no flower hath leave to dwell.


Her's are eyes serenely bright,
And on she moves-with pace how light!
Nor spares to stoop her head, and taste
The dewy turf, with flowers bestrown;
And in this way she fares, till at last
Beside the ridge of a grassy grave
In quietness she lays her down;
Gently as a weary wave

Sinks, when the summer breeze hath died,
Against an anchor'd vessel's side;
Even so, without distress, doth she
Lie down in peace, and lovingly."

White Doe of Rylstone, Canto I.

What, as mere description, can be more masterly than the following picture of the mountain solitude, where a dog was found, after three months' watching by his master's body-though the touches which send the feeling of deep loneliness into the soul, and the bold imagination which represents the huge recess as visited by elemental presences, are produced by higher than descriptive powers?— "It was a cove, a huge recess,

That keeps till June December's snow;
A lofty precipice in front,
A silent tarn below!

Far in the bosom of Helvellyn,
Remote from public road or dwelling,
Pathway, or cultivated land;

From trace of human foot or hand.

There sometimes does a leaping fish
Send through the Tarn a lonely cheer;
The crags repeat the raven's croak
In symphony austere ;

Thither the rainbow comes, the cloud;
And mists that spread the flying shroud,
And sunbeams; and the sounding blast,
That if it could, would hurry past,

But that enormous barrier binds it fast."

We must abstain from farther examples of the descriptive faculty, and allude to that far higher gift which Wordsworth enjoys in his profound acquaintance with the sanctities of the soul. He does not make us feel the strength of the passions, by their violent contests in a transient storm, but the measureless depth of the affections when they are stillest and most holy. We often meet in his works with little passages in which we seem almost to contemplate the well-springs of pure emotion and gentle pathos, and to see the old clefts in the rock of humanity whence they arise. In these we may not rarely perceive the true elements of tales of the purest sentiment and most genuine tragedies. No poet has done such justice to the depth and the fulness of maternal love. What, for instance, can be more tear-moving than these exclamations of

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