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rations of Vauxhall Gardens, with their thousands of variegated lamps, compared with ten thousands of suns, diffusing their beams over our habitation from regions of space immeasurably distant ? A mere gewgaw in comparison,- and yet there are thousands who eagerly Hock to such gaudy shows, who have never spent an hour in contemplating the glories of the firmament, which may be beheld without money and without price.' That man who has never looked up with serious attention to the motions and arrangements of the heavenly orbs, must be inspired with but a slender degree of reverence for the Almighty Creator, and devoid of taste for enjoying the beautiful and the sublime.
“ The stars not only adorn the roof of our sublunary mansion, they are also in many respects useful to man. Their influences are placid and gentle. Their rays being dispersed through spaces so vast and immense, are entirely destitute of heat by the time they arrive at our abode; so that we enjoy the view of a numerous assemblage of luminous globes without any danger of their destroying the coolness of the night, or the quiet of our repose. They serve to guide the traveller both by sea and land; they direct the navigator in tracing his course from one continent to another, through the pathless ocean. They serve • for signs and for seasons, and for days and years. They direct the labours of the husbandman, and determine the return and conclusion of the seasons. They serve as a magnificent' time-piece,' to determine the true length of the day and of the year, and to mark with accuracy all their subordinate divisions. They assist us in our commerce, and in endeavouring to propagate religion among the nations, by shewing us our path to every region of the earth. They have enabled us to measure the circumference of the globe, to ascertain the density of the materials of which it is composed, and to determine the exact position of all places upon its surface. They cheer the long nights of several months in the polar regions, which would otherwise be overspread with impenetrable darkness. Above all, they open a prospect into the regions of other worlds, and tend to amplify our views of that Almighty Being who brought them into existence by his power, and · whose kingdom ruleth over all.' In these arrangements of the stars in reference to our globe, the Divine wisdom and goodness may be clearly perceived.
“ We enjoy all the advantages to which we have alluded, as much as if the stars had been created solely for the use of our world, while, at the same time, they serve to diversify the nocturnal sky of other planets, and to diffuse their light and influence over ten thousands of other worlds with which they are more immediately connected; so that, in this respect, as well as in every other, the Almighty produces the most sublime and diversified effects by means the most simple and economical, and renders every part of the universe subservient to another, and to the good of the whole.”
THE POETS BYRON, SHELLEY, AND WORDSWORTH.
(Abridged from the American Biblical Repository."] " We have three great contemporary names, which seem a kind of synonymy of the Progress of Poesy. In the writings of Lord Byron, we have the wild-fire of the wayward boy, the reckless out-burst of the young man's feelings, the instability and error of mind undisciplined. Hence his poetry is chiefly valued by the young, and is too apt to be the first reading of the freshman in society,
-as it is, in truth, a sbining mirror, that reflects the feelings, the passions, and the follies of our early years. In Shelley, we have the advancement of poetry into paths where she is attended by a show of philosophy, and guided by real learning. This poetry recommends itself to maturer minds ; and perhaps we are not too highly complimenting it, when we say that it is of the highest order of merely human song, or poetry unbaptized. It is such as we begin to love, when Byron cloys; and when we are wearied with carving and tinsel, and are willing to turn to the pure sculpture in marble. Had his works been written in the days of Sophocles, they would have ranked with those of the Grecian himself; and Tully would have read them afterwards in his villa, nor dreamed that the Muse could take a higher flight. But the christian reader rests not contented with the soaring that his eye can follow ; for unlike the splendid heathen, he knows of worlds beyond Olympus, and of a life that begins, when our mortal years have vanished. Of this glorious elevating influence of our religion, the student finds no recognition in the classic pages of Shelley; and it is then, when fully convinced of this one thing wanting, when sick with disappointment over metres, which lack but virtue to make them perfect; it is then that the mind finds its desideratum in Wordsworth, and contents itself with his spiritual harmonies. This mighty master wins us last; but as he wins us not till we ourselves have entered the most perfect form of our mental education, our love for him is such, as we carry with us through life. When the student throws down the Cenci, and has long forgotten the Corsair, then may the christian scholar take up the works of Wordsworth, and breathe the pure air of an inspiration, like that which shall be his native air, when unclothed of this earthly clog, and born in heaven.
“ And so, these poets seem just adapted to the march of mind. Byron catches our boyhood ; and if we escape the wretched consequences which his siren numbers are calculated to entail upon us, we yield ourselves to the graceful finger of Shelley, and are led by bis upward guidance to fields Elysian of the mind. When passion is sobered, and nature begins to feel the dignity of thought; when the heart's first affections are allayed, and the soul begins to doat on all things lovely, it is then that Shelley comes with a seeming philosophy to seduce the contemplative, and with his classic finish to enamour the scholar. But if Wordsworth awes us thence, by those mysterious
answerings which we find in his very verse, to the yearnings which are naturally felt by him, who can say with the Roman, omnia fui, et nihil expedit,' then are we liberated and unshackled ; then first we feel that we are indeed, at the same time, worshippers of beauty, and disciples of true philosophy; and this, because, then first, we begin to appreciate a religion which makes real and enduring all legitimate forms of symmetry and perfection. It is true that Wordsworth is beyond our natural appreciation very often ; but it is so, because he is above it; and because he soars, if not with Milton into the heaven of heavens, at least, into those regions of pure sunlight, which are far over the vapours and mists of the valley, and into which the eye of the earthling can seldom penetrate.
“ But in his dramas, where Byron attempts to use the verse of England's dictating, all is meagre. We listen, in vain, for aught of that rhythmical dignity which marks the buskin'd tread of Shakspeare's gorgeous muse, or which often pauses in the measure when · Jonson's solemn sock is on. The magnificent sonorousness, the • doric delicacy,' the full organ swell, the grand orchestral sublimity of Milton's numbers, seem degraded by comparison with any thing that Byron ever wrote, He seems never to have been a student of the legitimate sublime in nature; even there he was a superficial observer; and he had totally extinguished in himself any capability, which he may originally have possessed, to appreciate the sublime in morals, at an early period of his history. We say nothing of the merely intellectual sublime, but of the sublimity of virtue he certainly never conceived. He could, therefore, very easily represent the pious Abel as a womanish utterer of weak sentences;' but he could never command either the thought or the language which Milton has employed to delineate the character of the faithful angel, any more than he was capable of a desire
'to vindicate the ways of God to man.' Where in all his works do we find such a conception, or such a passage as this
"So spake the seraph Abdiel, faithful found !
His loyalty he kept, his love, his zeal.”
Why is it then, that with all his superior charms of verse, Milton is mostly a name, not an acquaintance with the majority of educated youth? In our colleges, Byron is devoutly thought the great English poet, however they may concede to Milton the right of possession to be called so. The mind that has dallied along the flowery walks of his earlier writings, stands thrilled before the fictitious splendour of his · Cain ;' while the unpretending dignity of Paradise Lost,” like a great mountain in the distance, is indeed complimented for its head above the clouds, but is seldom seen, and never visited by the lounger of the garden. Such is human nature; and the boy who best exemplifies it, will always desert the fire-side, where the
fute notes of gentle Cowper are wooing him to the beauty of holiness, or the vaulted sanctuary where the grand organ of Milton is rolling his soul to heaven, if only the fife and drum of gaudier poets be heard in the streets to lure him to long hours of truant wandering, that surely close in sorrow. Had the great trio, whose names we have placed at the head of this article, been given to the world in successive generations, standing each in his own as the great poetic star of his times, no doubt they would be deemed as fair examples of the birth, growth, and perfection of poetry, as we are accustomed to regard Æschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, in the history of the drama. The painter might delineate them allegorically ;-Byron, as the serpent, not moving on bis belly, but majestically erect, as in Eden, and . more subtle than any beast of the field ;' Shelley, like the rabbinical tempter, 'a cherub's face, a reptile all the rest ;' while Wordsworth should stand before us, with none of the dragon left, a true spiritual being,' winged, and ready for flight, but walking the earth awhile, to admire even this poor outskirt of the realms of the all-pervading God. The poetry of Byron is the spirit of the loose Epicurean, breaking out in wassailsongs over his cups; the poetry of Shelley, is the breathing of the unchristianized Platonist, standing before the Parthenon at day-break, and absorbed in love and adoration of the beautiful marbles around him; but Wordsworth's is the high worship of the christian, rejoicing at morning, at noon-day, and at even, in the beautiful works of God, and ever contemplating the grand in nature, and the sublimity of virtue, and all that shews anything of the human mind.
“ In passing from Byron to Shelley, we ascend a step in the scale which we are considering. In Shelley, we have unquestionably a greater intellect, and one beautifully cultivated, and expanded by continual philosophical exercise. He seems to have been one with whom deep thought was an instinct-one of those high minds that never have a boyhood. Before the completion of his fifteenth year, he had written and published two novels, · The Rosicrucian' and · Zasterozzi.' At the university, he very soon began to employ the logic which was taught him there in a pedantic endeavour to examine the principles of christianity. The effect was what might have been anticipated. He published an infidel essay on the being of a God, which gained him the enmity of his father, and expulsion from his college. Shelley was not like Byron, gross in his profligacy, or vulgar in his delineations of vice. Their minds were essentially different ; Shelley was, always, an intellectual sinner ; but his tendency was downwards, and he waxed worse. No one can tell what he was at this period of his progress ; for while he denied a God, he yet absurdly poetized about some great pervading Spirit of intellectual beauty, and at the same time blasphemed and defied the Power which he affected to disbelieve.
Shelley became an infidel to throw off restraint, but he did not become an abandoned debauchee. The same affectation of philosophy, which led him to enroll himself atheist in an album kept on a Swiss mountain, was happy in preventing him from wallowing with brutes, though it scarcely justified him, in regarding himself, as, in a sense, a divinity.
« For his own sake, we weep for Shelley--for that of our religion, we but smile at him. Our faith shines brighter for its puny foes; and it is a mawkish tear they shed, who grieve that christianity had not the aid of his talents. When his church shall have need of such comfort as poetry can bestow, the Lord will anoint for it some man after his own heart. Of Shelley and Byron, who deserted the Captain of their salvation, to war with his enemies, the christian may speak, like the ancient Laconian, Sparta hath nobler sons than they! We look upon the poets of whom we have been speaking,—their followers and attachés, the little Byrons, and the Hunts, and all the rest, -as occupying the same place in the republic of letters, as the Robespierres, the Marats, and the Klootzas hold, to everlasting infamy, in the pillory of French politics. The French revolution, and the poetry of what Southey branded the Satanic School,' go hand in hand. Alike, they sicken the souls of christian men, and alike will they be damned to eternal fame.'
“ Does the good man sigh over such a delineation of the poetry of his own day; and does he turn his eyes from the blackening picture, for some glimpse of holy light! Let him look, for the day-star is at hand. The poetry, which is already beginning to depose the dark, is awakening the dawn. In the pure light of the morning, the songs of angels will be fitlier heard ; and even now one and another are raising their voices, not like children piping in the market, but like deep calling unto deep.'
“ We approach the poetry of WORDSWORTH, not to review it, for that would be impossible in the limited space that is left us. shall speak of the great characteristics of his writings, and rather introduce them than criticise. Happily for us, Wordsworth is becoming the fashion ;' and poems little known, though written half a century ago, are beginning to win laurels for the gray hairs of the still surviving bard.
“ The true seed of Wordsworth's poetry, the condensation of its plan, seems to be the little fragment that meets the eye on opening the first leaf of his volume. Pregnant with thought, all that succeeds it seems born of it. He has dilated it into glorious compass, and illustrated it with beauties in untiring variety. It is a point from which he bas produced a pyramid. It is the expression of an intellectual being, commencing its course for eternity ; the ejaculation of a man fullgrown, but who is still, in the sense of our blessed Saviour, ' a little child.' Its language is musical, dispassionate, and pure; and such as a new created angel might employ, coming forth in beauty, and looking into worlds unborn. We envy no one the heart that leaps not up with it, and joins not in its fervent prayer :
My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky!
Or let me die !