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“ Listen how we love you,
Hope the uttermost-
Which exalts the wounded,
EXILED, BUT NOT LOST.”
We have thus attempted to give an outline of this noble drama; a work which merits the high praise of being worthy of its relationship to “ Paradise Lost.” Our sketch of it can no more convey an idea of its beauty as a whole, than would fragments of a beautiful statue of the fair proportions of the work; or, to borrow an illustration from Lowell, we might almost as well hope to convey an idea of the power of Niagara by exhibiting a specimen of its waters in a vial. We can only hope to have called attention to, and excited an interest in it.
Our most difficult task yet remains; and that is, to compress our notice of the remaining poems within the proper limits of this article. We can scarcely do more than merely indicate our favorites, giving a few extracts only; and even this selection is difficult enough ;--for of many of Miss Barrett's poems, we feel that to be true which is asserted of Shakspeare's Plays; that the last read is always the best. But to proceed. We have already alluded to Miss Barrett's strength : in no other writer have we ever seen this quality so beautifully and harmoniously united with womanly tenderness. The “ CRY OF THE CHILDREN” well illustrates this. We hardly know which strikes us most forcibly; the power or the pathos of the poem. It is an attempt to give utterance to the sorrowful wail which comes up from the children's hearts, who are employed in the dismal mines and factories of England. Sorrow never touches us more affectingly than when it speaks in the voice of childhood; and we feel that the thunders of God's providence cannot long be far off, but will avenge the miseries of his "little children.” How terribly powerful and yet how tenderly pathetic is this:
“ How long," they say, “ how long, O cruel nation,
Will you stand, to move the world, on a child's heart,-
And tread onward to your throne amid the mart?
And your purple shows your path ;
Than the strong man in his wrath !"
“L. E. L.'s Last QUESTION" is a beautiful poem founded on an expression in one of her last writings sent home :-"Do you think of me as I think of you ?" The closing turn of the sentiment, by which the Saviour is represented as making this appeal to each one of us, is peculiarly touching. “ CROWNED AND BURIED” is a most magnificent picture of Napoleon's grandeur in life, and of his grave in death ; and at the same time is most just and discriminating in its view of his character.
“I do not praise this man; the man was flawed
But since he had
As a specimen of intensity of feeling, we know nothing to surpass the following from the “CRY OF THE HUMAN." Before such love as this, even the most hallowed phrases of earthly affection seem cold and lifeless. After reading what follows, one may well feel that the solemnity of our marriage service can never again impress us as it was wont with its promise of life-long faithfulness.
“We sit together, with the skies,
The steadfast skies, above us :
* And how long will you love us ??.
The voices, low and breathless-
Be pitiful, dear God!"
After all, however, we think our copy of Miss Barrett will testify that the Sonnets are our favorites, by exhibiting marks of most frequent reading. We would especially advise all readers to begin with these, rather than undertake the “Drama” at first. They are the most personal of all her poetry. Though deeply tinged with the coloring of her suffering life, they are full of Christian consolation and heroism. It has been well said of a poet whose admirers claim for him the highest place among his contemporaries, Alfred Tennyson, that "he comes out of himself to sing a poem, and goes back again: or rather sends his song out from his shadow under the leaf, as other nightingales do; and refuses to be expansive to his public, opening his heart on the hinges of music.” In this characteristic, which we think belongs to no true poet, Miss Barrett is precisely his opposite; and in these Sonnets, particularly,
she has indeed given us her "heart and life in them." They could never have been written except by one made strong through suffering by the sanctifying influences of exalted, ardent, Christian faith. Their mere titles will afford some idea of their nature:“ Grief,” “ Tears," “ Substitution," Comfort,” “ The Look," (Christ's on Peter,) “Futurity,” “ The Soul's Expression,” “A Thought for a Lonely Death-Bed," etc. Our choice of the few of these we can give here as specimens has wavered and vascillated so much, nearly as much as a mother's would if called to select from her children, that we almost let chance determine.
Thank God, bless God, all ye who suffer not
He sleeps the faster that he wept before." Lowell well says, “The first voice that is heard after the reading of good poetry comes ordinarily from the shallowest heart in the company.” Such poetry as the above we cannot praise. It stirs “thoughts that lie too deep."
We have aimed not so much to eulogize Miss Barrett, as to let her speak for herself. We have also purposely forborne to notice any faults of style or otherwise, because we are a firm believer in the propriety of Coleridge's maxim :-“Never admit the faults of a work to persons incapable of appreciating its beauties :" and as we think the public yet insensible to the merits of these poems, we deem it not only the most pleasant, but the most appropriate work of the critic to call attention to their beauties. If we have succeeded in introducing her to the heart of one loving friend, who will give her the same warm homage of grateful tears she has already won from others; better still, if we have introduced her to a sister in suffering, who may from her receive consolation, and learn better the holy lessons of the sick-room; we shall have been more than abundantly repaid.
We hope the publishers will feel themselves justified in soon giving us an American edition of the “ Seraphim," also; for, although on the whole these volumes exhibit greater maturity of poetic power than the earlier work, yet there are in it a few pieces that can hardly be surpassed.
P. Middletown, Conn.
Art. IV.-1. General Catalogue of Books, Tracts, fc. New
York : Lane & Tippett. 2. Fifth Annual Report of the Sunday-School Union of the M. E.
Church. Also an arranged Catalogue of the Sunday-School
Publications and Tracts. New-York : Lane & Tippett. 3. Twenty-First Annual Report of the American Sunday-School
Union, for establishing Sunday-Schools, and circulating Religious Publications. Philadelphia: published by the Society. 4. Twentieth Annual Report of the American Tract Society;
presented at New-York, May 7, 1845; showing the Successful Results of the Society's Labors in our own and Foreign and Pagan Lands. With Lists of Auxiliaries, Directors, and Mem
bers for Life, Publications, fc. New-York: D. Fanshaw. 5. Seventh Annual Report of the Board of Publication of the
Presbyterian Church in the U.S. of America. Presented to the General Assembly, May, 1845. Phila.: Joseph P. Engles.
EVERY religious denomination has its literature, and we have ours. The history of our literature dates with the commencement of our history as a Christian sect. Mr. Wesley had no sooner found himself at the head of a growing religious community, than he began to provide for their intellectual and moral cultivation all the means which his learning and piety could command. He not only preached the word, and employed helpers in this work, but commenced the publication of books and tracts upon all the important topics, the understanding of which was necessary to enlighten the piety of the people, and give them weight in society. His object was to make knowledge cheap, and to bring down to the common people the means of intellectual and moral cultivation which were by no means general among that class. He wrote and published much original matter; and reviewed, corrected, and abridged a great number of works which were scarce and difficult of access. His miscellaneous works, and his Christian Library, show a zeal and diligence in furnishing reading for the people, in the providence of God committed to his charge, which are, perhaps, without a parallel. His works, original and selected, embrace a great variety of themes, and cover almost the whole field in divinity, history, poetry, philosophy, grammar, medicine, &c. Some of his tracts and abridgments are now of no great value-particularly those upon philosophical, scientific, and speculative subjects as they are superseded by such as are more complete, and include modern discoveries and improvements. But that they were admirably suited to the wants of the people for whom they were provided, and rendered essential service to the cause of general improvement, no one will deny.
It is not our object to criticise these publications, or to speak of their merits, but merely to allude to them as evidence that our eminent founder felt and acted upon the conviction, that." it is not good that the soul should be without knowledge;" and that he strenuously exerted himself to make the Methodists an intelligent, as well as a pious, people, and that he encouraged the cultivation of letters among them to the greatest possible extent.
The literature of the denomination has continued to expand with the increase of our numbers and resources. The want has soon brought on the supply; so that though we have become a numerous and influential people on both sides of the Atlantic, we have not suffered from a paucity of authors qualified to supply us with all that has been desirable in the form of denominational literature. Several men of learning and literary taste commenced their career under Mr. Wesley's eye, and ultimately added the productions of their pens to the stock of books which he himself had published. And down to the present time the Methodists have produced their fair proportion of good and useful authors. That there have been among them many eminent scholars and