Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

but in their results that the people are interested. There are certain quotations from the Tablet, and Sybil, which would seem to mark the particular creed that is to regenerate society as the Roman Catholic. Now to seek to revive a faith in what has hitherto signally failed is a notion that savours too much of the fanatic, and too little of the philosopher for us. The old cant of “power for the few to be held for the good of the many," is a doctrine so contradicted in practice according to the history of the whole world, that we suspect a newer species of fanaticism must be broached to catch any influential portion of the present or future generations. That the present state of society is productive of great and distressing evils we freely confess, but we do not think a return to barbarism is the way to cure them, and of all species of barbarism we believe priestcraft and kingcraft to be the most injurious. They might be necessary evils in the progress of society, but they were and are always evils, and while common sense remains a portion of human nature, and the moral sense is not utterly depraved, we have every faith that society will cast the slough of her disease, and that indeed it is at present working and writhing in a state of transition to health. Such notions as this little work and other amiable authors promulgate, seem to us like the injudicious kindness oftentimes exercised towards the sick, by which sweet condiments are administered instead of wholesome bitters ; nostrums to lull not cure the patient. The Appendix contains proofs of the dreadfully disorganised state we are in, and the vile morals that still influence our governors as regards war and political morality.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

THIRTY-SIX NoxCONFORMIST Sonnets. By A Young ENGLANDER. 12mo.

London : Aylott & Jones. This work is by a professed Young Englander, but one of a different shade of creed to that which is generally supposed to inspire the muse of this new political sect. This is an Evangelical Young Englander, and in doubt whether the Roman Catholic Young Englander will not consider the assumption of his party name as an usurpation. In the previous work (“Heathendom and Christendom, an Allegory,"), we have lamentations that the “Te Deum no longer rolls in peals of harmonious thunder along the lofty aisles, and swells through the high arched portals;" the present Young Englander commences in the following abrupt strain :

“With stealthy mien the Babylonish whore,

Clad in rich garments, treasure in her lanı,

As superstition thickens o'er the land,
Comes from her lengthened banishment once more.

Upon high places she begins to stand,
As she was wont to do in days of yore.”

[blocks in formation]

In the one work we have eulogistic rhapsodies to Hampden and Pym; in the other, sly remarks that ship money was a blessing, and the excise and custom duties a curse to the poor.

As we have found two “ Young Englanders so virulently opposed to each other, let us hope there may be a third set, who, without fanaticism for old fantastic forms, and with a firmer and higher spirit, work energetically for the promulgation of that spirit of universal justice, which, by a wiser distribution of the goods and blessings of the earth, will produce a state of society accordant with the nature of man, and the position he holds in creation.

With respect to the literary merits of these thirty-six sonnets, we cannot say they are in general above the average of those produced by students acquainted with great writers, whose formula can be acquired, but whose powers no art can attain. It is strange that such perpetual reliance should be placed on a form of versification, and that so many should suppose the manner and not the matter is what kindles the spirit of the reader. There are, however, occasional gleams of poetry, and we may cite the Sonnet on A Ramble upon the Chilterns," where a fine power of personification is shown in the lines

“ Rapt in the quict which lone eve distils

O’er the far landscape, glimmering twilight fills
With softened radiance, shadowy, dusky, grey,

The pensive eyes of slow departing day.For a gentleman possessing so much Christianity there is, however, a strange inclination towards battle and blood-shedding.

66

[ocr errors]

POEMS AND BALLADS. By Joun PURCHAS, B.A. of Christ's College,

Cambridge. Medium 8vo. London : W. Smith. In 1839, we remember a volume of much greater bulk than the present being sent to us, containing a Comedy and Miscellaneous Poems, by John Purchas, a Rugbæan,” in which were indications of a pure taste and a power of versification, joined with a fervent and enthusiastic temperament. The “Rugbæan” has now duly progressed to a “ Cambridgian ;” and as he has grown older he has grown wiser. He now publishes a very carefully-selected number of his verses in an unassuming shape, and seeks an extended popularity through the medium of Mr. Smith's popular form, giving much less in quantity, but much more in quality, for one shilling, than he did hefore for seven shillings and sixpence. The present - Poems and Ballads" consist of twenty-three pieces, all pleasing and carefully executed. The writings of Tennyson and Browning have evidently moulded, probably unconsciously, the form and tone of his compositions. There is a similarity of style and manner to these true poets, without anything like servile

imitation, and also, happily for the reader, without any of that decadence into folly which too often characterises the followers of this class of poetry. He is simple and unconstrained, without flatness or affectation, and sustains his flight, low and short, as it must be pronounced, with a firm and continuous spirit. After reading every poem, we do not know that we can rank him amongst the true poets. They are all interesting, and are all marked with purity of taste and vigour of thought and feeling, but we doubt if they have in them the manifestation of the “ faculty divine." “ The Poetess,” and “ The Old Man's Young Wife,” come nearest to the standard he himself looks to ; but we nowhere find breaking through the refined and “well turned lines," the gleams of mingled imagery and feeling which form “ the inspiration of the god”-nothing like what he himself incorporates from Tennyson.

66 And much I mused on legends quaint and old,
Which whilom won the hearts of all on earth
Towards their brightness, even us flame draws air ;
But had their being in the heart of man,
As air is the life of flame-

In the present dearth, however, of any grand manifestations of poetry, and in the abundance of mawkish imitation and sentimentality, we welcome Mr. Purchas, and wish him well on his pilgrimage.

THE USE OF THE BODY IN RELATION TO TIIE Mixd.

By GEORGE MOORE, V.D. Longman. We feel a prepossession that in mingling together, or, in fact, attempting to define what cannot be clearly and definitely shown to be incontrovertible, we act in opposition to the wisest policy. We know that the body is subservient to the will; we know that the nervous system is the vehicle of sensation ; but beyond this we are in utter darkness. We cannot discover how mind acts upon matter unless we can make it visible or tangible in some form, unless we know its nature. We are 'acquainted with the instrument and its workmanship, but of the moving power we know nothing. The physical and spiritual worlds may be in perpetual connexion, but the one partakes not at all in the nature of the other. Here then lies the difficulty in a work like the present, for what is truly demonstrated is mingled with conjecture in such a manner, that they become confounded together. The interpretation put upon the known and visible results of the existing system which it pleased the Suprem eing to establish in the mental and material orld rather in accordance with this imaginative speculation or predisposition than

any valid deductions from premises acknowledged and established, casts over the whole an air of uncertainty not all calculated to promote the ends of truth.

There is much good writing and interesting reflection in this work ; it shows, too, that the author is endowed with sound professional knowledge, but there are many things to which it is difficult to yield approval. The blending together religious and scientific topics, until one seems lost in the other, is not agreeable to good taste, many of the inferences are untenable, and we feel on the perusal how much more desirable it is that we should see everything under its proper aspect. There is an attempt to assume a great many things which may be justly questioned, particularly in a religious point of view, arising out of an incongruity inevitable in a work upon the present plan. That the author is imaginative and partial in some respect to the fanciful, is plain from his allusions in regard to mesmerism and to phrenology, qualified indeed, but sufficient to show how the inclination points. This tendency will recommend this book to the numerous class of readers who judge from first impressions. We should be inclined to think it would have an extensive circulation if only on this account, knowing that it is the way of the many to take their notions from impressions. There is good writing and much knowledge of his subject displayed by the author. He seems penetrated with a true sense of religion in his own view of that great solace of humanity, and we doubt not he is in earnest in all he says. His work is wrought out of the truism universally acknowledged, that mind influences body, although he does not inform us, on the other hand, to what extent the body influences mind, nor to what an amazing degree the reciprocal action is undoubtedly carried, nor how far body and mind may neutralise each other. Some of the chapters are highly interesting, the style being uniformly that of a scholar, the intention evidently good, the work calculated to dispose to reflection every thinking mind; yet are we of opinion, as we have already observed, that there is a want of demonstration and an indefiniteness perhaps inseparable from such an undertaking, and ingrained in the complex nature of a subject which it is no doubt a merit to have treated so well. There are indeed some strong facts deducible by analogies which are set forth by Dr. Moore. He is particularly just when speaking of the effect of love and kindness in stirring the soul to strong and enduring effort ; that the rod does not impart principles like gentle truth. The Brougham-sustained workhouse system—we believe his lordship is the most staunch advocate of all objectionable things belonging to it—is deeply involved in the quotation with which we must conclude. It is only one of many cases, we have no doubt, occurring often under a system where profligacy and virtue are placed in an equal companionship. Imagine a brother and sister born of better times left orphans, “ with none to love but each other, and then singly exposed to the ruffianism of matured vice in every form which the crowded union house can afford, naturally learning to hate all that cold kind of charity which they witness ; and usually finding thieves and prostitues with more heart, and, perhaps, less hypocrisy than their public guardians, they are readily won to side with those

outcasts against their better knowledge, and every now and then astonish us by precocious facts of hardy viciousness." Thus it is that while erecting penitentiaries for criminals on one hand, we multiply inmates for them with the other. Under what head in the category of our numerous hypocrisies should this glaring mischief range ?

PROGRESSION BY ANTAGONISM, a Theory involving Considerations touching

the present Position, Duties, and Destiny of Great Britain. By Lord Lindsay. Murray.

We have here a very imaginative theory indeeil ; but the best attempt to look into the future is like looking down a dark well, which may contain treasure or mephitic air, both equally beyond the power of vision, Lord Lindsay imagines that he has discovered, in this his theory of “ Progression by Antagonism," a sound principle in which slumbers in embryo the future destiny of his country. His lordship states that he has a conviction of its general correctness, though it may contain some inaccuracies. The contends that the forward movement produced by antagonism is a general law of the moral government of God, in the individual and universal man, as well as in other orders of responsible beings. Ile proceeds to make his ideas good by a diagram or chart, serving as a frontispiece, which must be seen to be comprehended, and by showing the opponent principles in the individual man, introduced by the fall and the events that more immediately succeeded it. He then proceeds to that analysis of human nature, which it is the end of the book more immediately to develop. The universal man represents human nature in the aggregate from childhood to maturity. The world is divided into three grand dispensations, which are explained in an historical narrative relative to many nations of ancient times. Things go by antagonisms-God is unity and also multiplicity_We are saved by works, but also by faith-catholicism and monarchy are the offspring of imagination, protestantism and democracy trace their genealogy from reason. In Englislı politics, for example, there are the Norman Tories, and Saxon Whigs, the one high church, expressing themselves in high church latinised English, the other in low, are antagonists; the one congregating in the country, the other in towns. In this way his lordship sees two contending elements in all sublunary things. Signs of conflicts he observes approaching upon this principle—but we must refer to the book itself for a full statement of a theory possessed of a good deal of ingenuity, and exhibiting in our opinion more learning and thinking on the part of the noble author than of sound philosophy. In all events, if his lordship's theory be but a crotchet, it displays thought and labour deserving an attentive perusal, and shows that he is in the habit of reflecting upon events, which seem not only in his own opinion but in that of many others, to be progressing towards a termination that baffles conjecture.

« AnteriorContinuar »