« PreviousContinue »
The silken cassock, and the sable gown-
- That Gospel, preach'd by Jesus to the poor;
- Te Deuin, or Non nobis Domine.' pp. 85—7. It was rather daring to bring forward so unreservedly an Itinerant preacher as a contrast to the Enthusiast: but we give our Author credit for having painted from the life, and as her appeal is to facts, she ought to be safe even from the sneer of the man of taste. Perhaps the parallel which is drawn between the poor, contemned, and hectic methodist preacher, and the titled, beneficed overseer of the Church, will appear invidious; yet the strange thing'
6 is after all too true.' One circumstance our Author does not neglect to introduce with feeling and emphasis,-that whosoever is guilty of preaching the Gospel in heathen districts, where now, " the once savage
miner kneels and prays,'—even the poor itinerant, is safe from absolute persecution; he is no longer exposed at least to such persecution
as his fore-fathers saw, Thanks to the shelt'ring arm of civil law.' The effects of his labours are then described, and the poem closes with the following indignant challenge.
Now let the light of nature-boasting man,
Or write a sonnet to a blade of grass.' p. 92. · The World in the llouse,' and · The World in the Heart,' are the rather quaint titles of the last two Essays in the volume. They relate to that great stumbling-block,' the inconsistency of the temper and spirit often manifested by professed Cbristians, with that renunciation of the world and that separate character, which are described in the New Testament as the distinguishing marks of the disciples of Christ.
• Love not the world'-most merciful decree
That makes its friendship enmity with 1 hee.' The subject ffords scope for all the severity of satire, and if at any time this mode of assault may be effectively employed in the service of truth, it seems most appropriate when directed against inconsistency. Incongruity is always riliculous. Our Author will not, ho ever, be easily forgiven for the freedom of her strictures on the shenoy taste, the ostentatious cbarities, and the secul r spirit of the religious world; yet it should tend in no small degree to conciliate, that having such power of satiric humour at command, and under such temptation to exercise it with diverting effect, the passages are few in which she bas deviated into the tone of irony or sårcasm ; and in those few the sarcasm is undeniably just. As the passages to which we allude, will again and again be quoted, personally applied, perhaps, and mis-applied, and blamed as uncandid by those who feel thrir truth-we shall prefer taking our extracts from other parts of the Poems. The concluding lines in the first of these two Essays, deserve transcription for the excellent spirit they breathe, no less than for the axiomatic wisdom of the sentiments.
Oh, for a soul magnanimous, to know,
-To love mankind, and pour contempt on thee.' In the World in the Heart,' the various forms in which earthly-mindedness discov: rs itself, are admirably described, although we have some exceptions to make in point of illustration, as well as of expression. We may as well siate in this place, that our Author is not unfrequently misled, either by a dread of over-refined expression, or by a wish to give the utmost force to her sentiments, into colloquialisms, and illustrations of a domestic plaioness, which will not in all cases be intelligible, and in most instances, they let down the subject. We refer to the worldly minded cook,' to the simile of * Tom Tickler's ground,' to suc! phrases as say her say,' and persevering click,' and at the risk of being thought fastidious, we must add he word “skull,' which occurs by the necessity of rhyme, in the following couplet.
• The few ideas that travel, slow and dull
Across the sandy desert of her skull," Vol. VI. N. S.
These offences against taste are rare, but they are not the less objectionable. We regret also exceedingly, that the versification in some instances betrays marks of carelessness or fatigue. Imperfect rhymes, false quantity, or accent, such lines as
• Who seeking that, cares little for all this,'faults of this nature are the less to be excused, where the composition itself is of so high a character, and when the sentiments deserve that the utmost elaboration should be bestowed on expressing them.
To how bigh a style of poetry Miss Taylor is capable of attaining, will be evidenced in the two extracts we have reserved as concluding specimens of the volume. The first is taken from · The World in the Heart.' After depicting in strongly marked lines, the melancholy portrait of the nominal Christian, in the decline of life, merged in the spirit of the world, the Author presses home the importance of ascertaining on what evidence we rest our hopes of Heaven, when, as an object of desire, it appears so dim and distant,
· Not as it is indeed-true, awful, near.
. And yet, amid the hurry, toil, and strife,
pp. 169-170. The image of Death in these lines, is as sublime a conception as we recollect to have met with for a long time. It is awfully picturesque, and the expression is not less felicitous.
Our last extract we shall select from one of the smaller poems in the volume. These might, we think, have been placed, with more propriety, together at the end, as some of them
are far below the Essays in point of merit and of style. "The
Squire's Pew,' however, is a delightful little poem: the sentiment is trite as the moral of a gravestone, but it has seldom been more simply and more beautifully set. Recreation' is not well managed : a young lady who had participated in such amusement, would not so have narrated it. "A town' is a very lively descriptive sketch. But we think that by far the finest thing in the volume is the, second portrait of the Pair.' It is marked with all the minute accuracy and life of Wilkie's paintings. Wordsworth himself has nothing finer.
Down a close street, whose darksome shops display,
very distance 'twixt his knees and chin,
• Such is his fate-and yet you might descry
With algebraic lore its page is spread,
- Bought by the pound upon a broker's stall.
• From needful sleep the precious hour he saves,
Sighis at his fortunes, and resumes his craft.' pp. 134–9. Usefulness bas evidently been the Author's principal design in tbese Essays, and their excellent tendency will ensure her ample reward. We have seldom met with a volume of poetry, that bore more strikingly the impress of native thought, or that supplied the mind more richly with materials for deep reflection. It is evident from the last extract, that Miss Taylor can achieve, as a poet, something of a still bigher cast than even these Essays in Rhymne.