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expect a rapid sketch of the picturesque circumstances, a pointed moral, a brilliant eulogy, and a pathetic commemoration; perhaps they will endure a flattering prophecy, if it be not very long; but briefness, brilliancy; and rapidity, are above all things, and indispensable. Now the poem before us is neither brief, brilliant, nor rapid; it has its merits and its beau. ties, but they are of another description, such as fully compensate to us the qualities that are wanting ; it will surprise agreeably the thinking and the sober ; but it was not written for, nor will not be admired on, the publisher's table or in the drawing room.
It will not be supposed for a moment by those who have long been our readers, that we are instituting a serious comparison between Mr. Soutbey or bis productions, and the gentlemen or the productions that have gone before on the subject. Indeed we appreciate him more justly, and we would imitale what we consider very admirable in him, bis lofty and ennoblingreverence for the character of the true poet. We know that he seeks not bis reward now, and we sincerely honour the purity and loftiness of his ambition; still upon other groupds we may be allowed to doubt, how far it was wise in one who could not brook to write in an occasional style (if we may use such a term), to write at all on an occasional subject. For it cannot fail to strike our readers, that there was at least a risk, that such a poem, in its plan well considered, and perpetual, might yet in its execution bear marks of haste and imperfection. Nor will we disguise our own opinion, that such marks are visible in several passages of the poem before us; and that on the whole, there is a want of that compression and fivish, that fullness without redundancy, and vigour without ambitious ostentation, which are not to be expected in the rough draughts even of the most practised writers, and will only be found in those instances where attention to the merits was predominant in the author's mind, over anxiety about the fate of the production.
It is so recently that we entered at length into the general merits of Mr. Southey's poetry, that we shall say nothing of them at present, except incidentally, as they are inseparably interwoven with our consideration of this poem. Independent indeed of the family resemblance, our present subject of remark has a very peculiar character of its own, attributable as we imagine to the circumstances under which it was written, and with reference to which we will beg leave to consider it.
It might lead us far beyond our bounds and our proper province, if we were to enter, as we might, into all the accidents of character, of habits, and scenes of action, of which we see, as it were, the recollected images mixed up, and operative in the
poem now before us. But let us imagine a youthful mind, of great power and purity, impatient of all that was imperfect, and ungoverned in the expression of that impatience, wanting first the wisdom to distinguish practically between those evils, which are the inseparable conditions of our nature, and those abuses, which are the remediable results of bad government; and then failing in the philosophy to bear where cure was impossible, or the address to conciliate prejudices, where reform was simply difficult; let us imagine such a mind seduced, but not corrupted, by the promises of the French revolution ; as years rolled on, softened and improved by the ardent cultivation of all social affections and domestic charities, strengthened by a fulfilment of the duties, and humble reception of the revelations of religion ; and thus enabling us to adhere, through good and evil teport, to the right principle, even when those became its worst enemies, with whom credulity and inexperience had absolutely identified it; let us imagine such a mind so changing men, but not measures, in romantic retirement and philosophic study watching with unshaken faith, and with a zeal, partaking somewhat too much perhaps of the severity of disappointment, and recoil, the appointed consummation; and lastly, let us imagine that consummation brought about by the battle of Waterloo. We will not venture to say how far the picture we have drawn iş a faithful copy, but we are persuaded, that it will very much help to the full understanding, and add a deeper interest to the Poet's Pilgrimage, to consider it with reference to such a traiu of circumstances. We are told in the beginning, that impelled by something beyond the general curiosity to visit the spot, of all others now most full of imperishable recollections, the author left, as he calls it, “ his pleasaut Land of Lakes; his course on the Continent lay through scenes interesting for their beauty, their culture, or population, and rich in the recollections of old renown and power; and for the spot itself, which was the limit of the pilgrimage, it would be but to display the poverty of language to attempt to enumerate the mixed and solemn feelings which it was calculated to excite.
The poem is the very mirror of such thoughts and feelings ; it was composed immediately on the author's return to his own home. We trace first the working of all these arcidents upon it, which we enumerated above, in the anxiety about principles rather than men; of those who have fought and bled and conquered for us, grateful and worthy but brief mention is made ; but it is the cause for which they fought, the principle which they mainlained, the state of things which they established for the present, and the prospects which they have opened for the future, that are evidently most upon the mind of the poet. Secondly, we trace the more recent effects of the scenes, which he had only just belield, pone indeed of the thoughiless, and transient glow of triumph, but ideas of a more pensive and of a deeper nature. V. « Oh joyful hour, when to our longing home,
“ A human sense upon the field of blood,
A Christian thankfulness, a British pride,
Tempered by solemn thoughts, yet still to joy allied." Nor has this combination of long past and recent impressions produced its effect of the plan on the poem alone, and its train of thought; we trace its effect in the versibi ation and diction full as powerfully. The author appears to have been impressed with something of a reverential and overwhelmmy feeling; as a musician of true taste in the performance of some of Handel's sacred strains; he seems to have abstained from much, if we may so say, of the usual decoration of his art; his expression is sobered and chastened to suit the solemnity of the thought; parts of the subject, which presented tempting opportunities for expansion, are slightly touched upon, and even in some cases we think, tamely passed over, as it in fear of miso ing any thing common place with more impressive matter; and the versification (the sweetest beyond compare which we have seen since the days of Spenser) flow's on without much break or burst, soothing and delighting, rather than rousing or burrying away the mind of the reader. With many, perhaps with the inajority of persons, the effect of the whole will be languid and unimpassioned; they will demand with regret the fire, and luxuriance of Thalaba, or Roderick. For ourselves, we have no such regrets; the state of mind, which we contemplate in the poem, is a most interesting one, and we are no less instructed and elevated, than amused by its contents.
The poem is prefaced with an introduction descriptive of the author's return to his own home and family. Whoever has a true feeling for poetry must delight in domestic associatious, and whoever is conversant with Mr. Southey's poetry, kuows that he is never on stronger ground than when he paints domestic pictures. The scenes of this sort, which he describes, have a simplicity and verity in them, which shew that he draws what he is well acquainted with. The passage which we are about to extract is in this kind, and of the rarest merit; it cannot well be too highly praised; the versification sweet and flow. ing, the style simple yet sufficiently sustained; and for the thoughts, they are without affectation, the most tender and pure which we have ever yet seen on same subject. We make no apology for the length of the extract.
The long-expected wheels at length drew nigh! When the first sounds went forth, they come, they come!'
And hope's impatience quickened every eye. • Never had man, whom Heaven would heap with bliss, More glad return, more happy hour than this.'
VI. “ Aloft on yonder bench with arms dispread
My boy stood, shouting there his father's name, Waving his hat around his happy head;
And there a younger group his sisters came : Smiling they stood with looks of pleas’d surprize, While tears of joy were seen in elder eyes.
VII. “ Soon each and all came crouding round to share
The cordial greeting, the beloved sight;
And when these overflowings of delight
Found here the end desired of all her ills, She who in sickness pining many a day,
Hungered and thirsted for her native hills,
Sate by the playmate of her infancy,
For that long absence-full of life was she,
X. “ Here silently between her parents stood
My dark eyed Bertha, timid as a dove, And gently oft from time to time she wooed
Pressure of hand, or word, or look of love. With impulse shy of bashful tenderness Soliciting again the wish'd caress.
My gentle Kate, and my sweet Isabel :
It had been their delight to hear and tell ;
When to its second child-hood life declines,
But soon the light of young Remembrance' shines
Small feeling of privation, none of pain,
As night-closed flowers at morn expand again.
Her old endearments each began to seek :
And pat with fondling hand her father's cheek;
And comprehend the fullness of the joy:
Come to his only, and his studious boy;
P.S. Beautiful as this passage is in itself, (and we confess, as a family picture, it appears to us never to have been surpassed) yet melancholy events, which followed close upon the writing of it, have given it a peculiar interest. The picture was hardly compleated, before one of its most attractive and cherished personages was taken to another world.
Of all the trials, which a merciful Providence ordains in inscrutable wisdom" for the sons