Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

: تا: تاج جدة لا

p. 295-6.

The cas of late, se accare;
Beis ad Erztra zz the TITRE
And Here, vaatzi zuz
Badia e derzbekis speed tree,
Tian all the Pearacas Gesc stece.

Fligt rold the road ct years that bag be
There wroporcus beacons in the size of time;
Suds of recoma! that to thine eyes arest
The waste of that bercad them test;
Ages how fild with tals! box zicom'd sith woes!
Trod with all steps that man's long marcb corpose.'p 95

ages

he origin and progress of Superstition is drawn with the sacs

& hard

* And where the mosque's dim arches bend on high,
Mecca's dead prophet mounts the mimic sky;
Pilgrims, imbanded strong for matual aid,
Thro dangerous deserts that their faith has made,
Train their long caravans, and famish'd come
To kiss the shrine and trembling touch the tomby
By fire and sword the same fell faith extend,
And howl their homilies to earth's far end.

Phenician altars reek with human gore,
Gods hiss from caverns or in cages roar,
Nile pours from heaven a tutelary food,
And gardens grow the vegetable god.
Sun, stars and planets round the earth behold
Their fanes of marble and their shrines of gold;

The dikes decay'd, a putrid marsh regains
The sunken walls and tomb encumber'd plains.
The fox himself has fled his gilded den,
Nor holds the heritage he won from men ;
Lapwing and reptile shun the curst abode,
And the foul dragon, now no more a god,

Trails off his train; the sickly raven flies;' &c. After a transient glimpse of the glories of Greece, the autho proceeds

• Yet from that splendid height o’erturn’d once more,
He dasht in dust the living lamp he bore.
Dazzled with her own glare, decoy'd and sold
For homebred faction and barbaric gold,
Greece treads on Greece, subduing and subdued,
New crimes inventing, all the old renew'd;
Canton o'er canton climbs; till, crush'd and broke,

All yield the sceptre and resume the yoke.' p. 296-7. These and other instances awake in the mind of Columbu some sad forebodings, that the returning tide of violence and su perstition may again blot out the intelligence which seems s Armly established.

• Tho two broad continents their beams combine

Round his whole globe to stream the day divine,
Perchance some folly, yet uncured, may spread
A storm proportion'd co the lights they shed,
Veil both his continents, and leave again
Between them stretch'd the impermeable main;
All science buried, sails and cities lost,
Their lands uncultured, as their seas uncrost.
Till on thy coast, some thousand ages

hence,
New pilots rise, bold enterprize commence,
Some new Columbus (happier let him be,
More wise and great and virtuous far than me)
Launch on the wave, and tow'rd the rising day
Like a strong eaglet steer his untaught way,
Gird half the globe, and to his age unfold
A strange new world, the world we call the old.
From Finland's glade to Calpe's storm-beat head
He'll find some tribes of scattering wildmen spread;
But one vast wilderness will shade the soil,
No wreck of art, no sign of antient toil
Tell where a city stood; nor leave one trace

Of all that honors now, and all that shames the race.' The angel allays these apprehensions, by reminding him of th mighty changes that have been wrought on the frame of huma fociety by tire press, the magnet, and the spirit of commerci:

C 3

independence

[ocr errors]

The sea, the grove, the harvest and the vine
Spring from their gods and claim a birth divine ;
While heroes, kings and sages of their times,
Those gods on earth, are gods in happier climes.' p. 292, 293,

following reflections on the sad alternation of light and
ess, of civilization and barbarism, that has marked the past
of the species, are expressed with power and feeling

" What strides he took in those gigantic times
That sow'd with cities all his orient climes !
Did not his Babylon exulting say,
I sit a queen, &c.
Where shall we find them now? the very shore
Where Ninus reard his empire is no more:

The

independence; and proceeds to lay before him the enchanting scenes of human innocence and enjoyment which await those later times, when war shall have ceased, and self-interest and philanthropy been discovered to coincide.

"The Hero look'd; beneath his wondering eyes
Gay streamers lengthen round the seas and skies;
The countless nations open all their stores,
Load every wave and crowd the lively shores;
Bright sails in mingling mazes streak the air,
And Commerce triumphs o'er the rage of war.

From Baltic streams, from Elba's opening side,
From Rline’s long course and Texel's laboring tide,
From Gaul, from Albion, tired of fruitless fight,
From green Hibernia, clothed in recent light,
Hispania’s strand that two broad oceans lave,
From Senegal and Gambia's golden wave,
Tago the rich, and Douro's viny shores,
The sweet Canaries and the soft Azores,
Commingling barks their mutual banners hail,
And drink by turns the same distending gale.
Where Asia's isles and utmost shorelands bend,
Like rising suns the sheeted masts ascend ;
Coast after coast their flowing flags unrol,
From Deimen's rocks to Zembla's ice propt pole,
Where Behren's pass collapsing worlds divides,
Where California breaks the billowy tides,
Peruvian streams their golden margins boast,' &c. p. 321-2,

• Again he look’d. Another train of years
Had roll'd unseen, and brighten'd still their spheres;
Earth more resplendent in the floods of day
Assumed new smiles, and flush'd around him lay.
Green swell the mountains, calm the oceans roll,
Fresh' beams of beauty kindle round the pole ;
Thro' all the range where shores and seas extend,
In tenfold pomp the works of peace ascend.
Robed in the bloom of spring's eternal year,
And ripe with fruits the same glad fields appear ;
O’er hills and vales perennial gardens run,
Cities unwall’d stand sparkling to the sun;
The streams all freighted from the bounteous plain
Swell with the load and labor to the main,
Whose stormless waves command a steadier gale

And prop the pinions of a bolder sail.' p. 337-8.
The last scene of the vision is the grand congress

of

sages, who are to assemble from all corrers of the world, in the central plains of Egypt, to consuit for the happiness of the federated uDiverse ; and, finally, to abjure all the prejudices by which meie

are *

[ocr errors]

P. 340.

are now divided and debased. A statue is erected to the genius of human kind, and

• Beneath the footstool all destructive things,

The mask of priesthood and the mace of kings,
Lie trampled in the dust; for here at last
Fraud, folly, error all their emblems cast:
Each envoy here unloads his wearied hand
Of some old idol from his native land ;
One Alings a pagod on the mingled heap,
One lays a crescent, one a cross to sleep ;
Swords, sceptres, mitres, crowns and globes and stars,
Codes of false fame and stimulants to wars,
Sink in the settling mass : since guile began,
These are the agents

of the woes of man. Our readers, we suspect, have now enough of this performance. As a great national poem, it has enormous--inexpiable-and, in some respects, intolerable faults. But the author's talents are evidently respectable: and, severely as we have been obliged to speak of his taste and his diction in a great part of the volume, we have no hesitation in saying, that we consider him as a giant, in comparison with many of the puling and paltry rhymsters, who disgrace our English literature by their occasional success. As an Epic poet, we do think his case is desperate ; but, as a philosophical and moral poet, we think he has talents of no ordinary value; and, if he would pay some attention to purity of style, and simplicity of composition, and cherish in himself a certain fastidiousness of taste,--which is not yet to be found, we are afraid, even among the better educated of the Americans,—we have no doubt that he might produce something which English poets would envy, and English critics applaud. In the mean time, we think it quite certain, that his present work will have no success in this country. Its faults are far too many, and too glaring, to give its merits any chance of being distinguished; and indeed no long poem was ever redeemed by the beauty of particular passages-especially if its faults were owing to affectation,

C 4

and

* We have put this word in italics, not to insinuate any charge of impiety against Mr Barlow, but to guard him against that imputation. From the whole strain of his poem, in which he speaks with warm approbation of reformed Christianity,--specifies the purity and evangelical charity of the priesthood as one of the prime blessings of his millennium,--and breaks out into a holy rapture on the prospect of the coming of the Redeemer,--we are satisfied that he here speaks of the cross merely as the emblem of the low and persecnting superstition of the crusaders, papists, and other sectaries, who make the crueifix an object of idolatrous veneration.

and its beauties addressed rather to the judgment than to the heart or the irr agination. If it will be any comfort to Mr Barlow, we will add, that we doubt very much whether any long poem of the Epic character will ever again be very popular in Europe. All such works have necessarily so much of imitation about them, as nearly to extinguish all interest or curiosity in the reader, and at the same time to lead to dangerous comparisons. The style and title of an Epic poem immediately puts us in mind of Homer, Virgil, and Milton;- and who can stand against such competitors? We even suspect, if we must tell the whole truth, that the works of those great masters themselves were better suited to the times that produced them, than to the present times. Men certainly bore long stories with more patience of old, than they do now. Witness the genealogies and monkish legends and romances which delighted our remoter ancestors, and through which even vanity is now scarcely sufficient to drag a few of their descendants. Epic poetry is the stage beyond these ; and though the inimitable merit of the composition, as well as traditionary fame, will insure the immortality of a few great models, we doubt very much whether it would be in the power, even of equal talents, to add another name to that illustrious catalogue. In the present state of society, we require, in poetry, something more natural or more impassioned, and, at all events, something less protracted and monotonous than the sober pomp and deliberate stateliness of the Epic.

There is one thing, however, which may give the original edition of Mr Barlow's poem some chance of selling among us, and that is, the extraordinary beauty of the paper, printing and embellishments. We do not know that we have ever seen a handsomer book issue from the press of England; and if this be really and truly the production of American artists, we must say, that the infant republic has already attained to the very summit of perfection in the mechanical part of bookmaking. If her home sale can defray the expense of such a publication as the present, it is a sign that a taste for literature is spreading very widely among her inhabitants; and whenever this taste is created, we have po doubt that her authors will improve and multiply to a degree that will make all our exertions necessary to keep the start wę now have of them.

ART. III.

Essays on Professional Education. By R. L. Edge worth, Erg. F. R. S. &c. 4to. pp. 446. London. . 1809.

CHERE are two questions to be asked respecting every new pub

Lication-Is it worth buying? Is it worth borrowing ? and

we

we would advise our readers to weigh diligently the importance of these interrogations, before they take any decided Itep as to this work of Mr Edgeworth; the more especially as the name carries with it considerable authority, and seems, in the estimation of the unwary, almost to include the idea of purchase. For our own part, we would rather decline giving a direct answer to these questions; and shall content ourselves for the present with making a few such flight observations as may enable the sagacious to conjecture what our direct answer would be, were we compelled to be more explicit.

One great and signal praise we think to be the eminent due of Mr Edgeworth: In a canting age he does not cant ;-at a period when hypocrisy and fanaticisun will almost certainly ensure the success of any publication, he has constantly disdained to have recourse to any such arts ;-without ever having been accused of dirloyalty or irreligion, he is not always harping upon Church and King, in order to catch at a little popularity, and fell his books; -he is manly, independent, liberal-and maintains enlightened opinions with discretion and honesty. There is also in this work of Mr Edgeworth an agreeable diffusion of anecdote and example, such as a man acquires who reads with a view to talking or writing. With these merits, we cannot say that Mr Edgeworth is either very new, very profound, or very apt to be right in his opinions. He is a&tive, enterprizing, and unprejudice; but we have not been very much instructed by what he has written, or always fatisfied that he has got to the bottom of his subject.

On one subject, however, we cordially agree with this gentleman; and return him our thanks for the courage with which he has combated the exceflive abuse of classical learning in England. It is a subject upon which we have lorg wilhed for an opportunity of saying something; and one which we consider to be of the very highest importance.

• The principal defect,' says Mr Edgeworth, in the present sys. tem of our great schools is, that they devote too large a portion of time to Latin and Greek. It is true, that the attainment of classical literature is highly desirable ; but it should not, or rather it need not, be the exclusive object of boys during eight or nine years.

• Much less time, judiciously managed, would give them an acquaintance with the classics sufficient for all useful purposes, and would make them as good scholars, as gentlemen or professional men need to be. It is not requisite, thai every man should make Latin or Greek verses; therefore, a knowledge of prosody beyond the structure of hexameter and pentameter verses, is as worihless an acquisition as any which folly or fashion has introduced amongst the higher classes of mankind. It must indeed be acknowledged, that there are some rare exceptions; but even party prejudice would al

low,

« PreviousContinue »