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of men, that which Mr. Southey is now undergoing, is perhaps among the bitterest.
In the grave of an only son, no one can say how many of the dearest hopes, the tenderest associations, the purest pleasures lie buried for ever. The feeling that was interwoven with all reviving images of our own careless boyhood, and glowing youth ; with all recollections of our growing, and matured love; and of those most exquisitely happy years of human life, which immediately follow marriage; with all schemes of advancement, and all hopes of earthly happiness, to become a tender and a shrinking place in our constitution,-the being to be forn from us, who occupied our most constant cares, who shared our most approved pleasures, for whose improvement love found a place, even in our most absolute relaxations, and whose presence did not interrupt the solitude of the loneliest ramble; for whose instruction we studied, for whose case and quiet we watched, and toiled; whose hand was to reap the harvest of our inost anxious labours, and who was to continue upon the earth the name, which, if we kept unsullied for our own, for his sake partly we strove to render illustrious; whose duty we looked to as a solace in the decline of life, and whose hands we prayed might close our eyes on leaving it—this is, indeed, a trial, which unaided humanity could not fitly bear. But if Mr. Southey is to be read in his writings, at this moment he is not an unsupported man; all human praise at such a time falls dead and flat upon the ear, and human consolation is but too feeble against such a sorrow; but he stands in need of neither, whose hope is placed where it should be, and whose faith is practical in the promises of a Christian Heaven.
We return to our subject, from which it will be thought, we fear, that we have rambled too widely. The Pilgrimage is di. vided into two parts; the first under the titles of Flanders, Brussels, the Field of Battle, and the Scene of War, details the journey of the travellers, with the reflections excited by what they saw and heard; the second is a Vision, and under the less significant names of the Tower, the Evil Prophet, the Sacred Mountain, and the Hopes of Man, enters fully into the promises and delusions of the French Revolution, and the probable con. sequences to the world, and especially to England, of the overthrow of the gigantic power which had grown out of it. This concise analysis, we conceive, will explain and justify much of what we advanced in the commencement of this Article ; it is evident, that much of the first part, if it did not transgress all bounds of correct taste, and good sense, must from the very nature of the subject appear to many minds languid and prosaic; and though a greater number will probably be interested by the
dialogue VOL. VI. JULY, 1816.
dialogue and reasonings of the second, yet allegory, especially if of a scriptural complection, is an appalling sound for most ears, and we are prepared for many ingenious waggeries, by way of quotation from the Pilgrim's Progress.
Indeed, however disposed to see the favourable side of all the works of true genius, we confess we see no beauty in such pas.
sages as follow.
“ Huge-timbered bridges o'er the passage lay,
Drew our gay vessel, slow, and sleek, and large:
Directs the way, and steady went the barge.” P. 24.
“ To give a voice to joy, and in my lays
Exalt a nation's hymn of gratitude,
And blazon forth in song that day's renown." P. 20.
We hate verbal particularity in criticism ; but we must strenuously object to such additions to a compleat picture, as the underscored words present. What possible inducement, but that of a convenient rhyme, could there be for transforming the gay vessel of the seconi, into the steady barge of the fourth line of this stanza.
blame, has sometimes thrown in slight touches of redeeming beauty, which are in his very
What can be sweeter than the following incident, which closes an account of the bustle and noise of embarking in the Trekschuit?
“ All disregardant of the Babel sound,
A swan kept oaring near, with upraised eye--
The bounty of such casual company :
And slowly we our watery way begun.” P. 30. Nothing can be happier than the relief afforded to a scene of noise and dirt, and discomfort, by the introduction of this silent, peaceful, and beautiful object-but if our readers employ themselves as often as we do, in the observation of small traits that disclose character, they cannot fail to be pleased in regarding it as one instance of that happy power, so peculiarly poetic, of seizing, and, as it were, appropriating in every combination of circumstances, the minutest accident of grace or beauty.
Mr. Southey's descriptive powers, when he introduces the detail of natural scenery, have long been acknowledged; they implied of course, and were built upon his warm and just feeling of natural beauties. We were much struck with this in the passage which we will next present to our readers ; commonplace and consentional admirers of nature would be ashamed to express any pleasure at scenes so artificial ; as many of those through which his route lay; wildness, grandeur, and seclusion, contain all their heads of picturesque beauty-yet Mr. Southey fresh from the mountains and lakes of Cumberland, found charms in a Flemish landscape, and we can bear lim testimony in the pleasure we experienced, when fresh from the wildest parts of ihe Alps, in the flat and fertile plains of Lombardy.
“ My lot hath lain in scenes sublime and rude,
Where still devoutly I have served and sought
In boyhood was I wont, with rapture fraught
That earthly Eden, and have seen at eve
Whelm with their billows all below, but leave
The mountains have put on, the heavens are clear,
And you dark lake spreads silently below :
That soothes and wins upon the willing heart;
A natural beauty springs from perfect art.
To see how weil-directed toil is blest.” P. 29. We bad intended to notice and extract several passages in addition 10 those already given, from the First Part, but our liniis admonish us to draw to a close. But we cannot forbear pointing out to our readers attention, the description of Brussels, and the wounded soldiers convalescent there, the lines on Hougoumont, and the very lively commemmoration of the Poet's own fellow-travellers.
We pass on to the consideration of the Second Part of the Poem, or the Vision. This is supposed to be the result of all the author bad seen in his journey, operating upon his mind in the hours of bodily sleep. There is something almost sublime in the manner in which it opens; the slow yet unimpeded shythm, the solemu and unadorned language suit admirably with the ideas; and the general effect is the gloomy, helpless, and uncertain desolateness which we must all have been conscious of in our dreams.
“ I thought upon these things in solitude,
And mused upon them in the silent night:
Were present to the soul's creative sight;
Whose limits far beyond all reach of sense
How I came there I could not tell, nor whence,
With huge and mouldering ruins widely spread,
Tombs which had lost all record of the dead;
“ Full fain would I have known what lay before,
But listed there in vain my mortal eye ;
As though the earth were mingled with the sky.
My blind involuntary way I held.” P. 103. Pursuing his journey through this desolate scene, the Poet hears bis name pronounced, and is summoned to the top of a lofty tower. He obeys the summons; the tower whose foundations were on sand, and surrounded with rubbish, grows firiner and fairer as he ascends; and at the top he meets an aged man, who offers him all knowledge necessary for his journey. This personage is Earth Born Wisdom; he is very well drawn, and the answer to the first question of his ansious scholar,
“ From whence I came, and whither niust I go," is admirably expressed.
“ Art thou then one who would his mind perplex
With knowledge bootless even if attained ?
Thy heart with seeking what may not be gained.
Cares not if yesterday were shower or sun,
And what recks he? his wayfare will be done.
Live whilst thou livest--for this life is all.” P. 109. We have not time to pursue an excellent argument most poetically and spiritedly maintained; the author seems to have han fresh in his mind the beautiful scene between the Red Cross Knight and Despair, in the first book of the Fairy Queen, a scene which for richness of colouring, for maintenance of character, for suitableness in the lone of language and measure to the subject, has never, we will venture to say, been surpassed in any language*. Indeed if we were called upon to cite an in
* It is hardly worth observing in the writings of a man so gifted as Mr. Southey, but he appears to us in the present Poem to have somewhat trespassed upon the liberty, to a certain extent allowa able, of borrowing expressions, and even whole lines from his predecessors. We utterly disclaim all intention of insinuating against him the charge of intentional concealment; but we wish