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the greatest possible injury to the Christian cause. "We will not receive your doctrines," says an opponent, "if you do not prove that your principles control your conduct.' Discordant notes never vibrate so painfully on the ear as when proceeding from an instrument professedly attuned to heavenly melodies. Kind words, flowing from benign and holy tempers, will convince the most obstinate gainsayer, that the Christian is walking in the footsteps of his blessed Master.

The Apostle St. Paul evidently knew the provocations to which the early Christians would be exposed, when he said to the Ephesians, "Be ye angry, and sin not. Let not the sun go down upon your wrath; neither give place to the devil." By nature the several Apostles and Evangelists of our Lord were very differently constituted in the temperament of their minds; but their patient continuance in well-doing proved that the courageous and the timid may alike be servants of God. Indeed, the whole Christian building would not perhaps be so " fitly framed together," if there were not this variety in its component parts. The difference between the Christian and the man of the world is this: the Christian wishes to see every faculty and power sanctified, and devoted to the service of God. Whatever may be his besetting sin, he prays that it may be restrained. "If his hand offends him, he would cut it off. If his eye, he would pluck it out." If his temper be rebellious, and his will perverse, he would seek for peculiar grace to restrain, and to correct them. The

man of the world lives by the maxims of the society in which he is placed. He calls things by false names. He puts darkness for light, and light. for darkness; bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter. And he must be taught by a Divine agency before he can see things as they really are in the sight of God.

I would urge upon every Christian an impartial examination of his own heart, in reference to his habitual temper. Let him in every capacity, either of parent, husband, child, master, servant, or friend, ascertain whether, by an evil temper, he is giving just occasion to the world to doubt the sincerity or the value of his religious principles. If he needs any present inducements to the good regulation of his temper, I would mention from long experience the three following:-1st. His own comfort, tranquillity, and peace of mind. 2dly. The satisfaction with which he will be met in the best private society, as a lover of peace. 3dly. The good he may do, in every public capacity, by arguing with mildness upon the most important subjects. His opinion will be asked, and his judgment valued, because from experience his friends will know that he can hold the scales with an even and impartial hand. And on many nice and delicate occasions when a rough demeanour would counteract every effort to do good, his name will stand with the names of those of whom it was said by the lips of unerring Wisdom, "Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God." R. P. B,




(Concluded from p. 222.) THE political opinions of Lord Byron are too notorious to require CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 281.

much observation: every one knows that he was at all times the professed enemy of despotic governments and slavish principles; but in this, as in other parts of his cha


racter, great inconsistency sometimes prevailed. His admiration, or rather his idolatry, of commanding intellect seems to have blinded him in some degree to the unmitigated despotism of Bonaparte, who, though he might occasionally favour liberal principles, was ready, like all conquerors that ever were or will be, to sacrifice the rights and independence of nations to his inordinate ambition.

The critical opinions of an eminent poet can never be uninteresting; and a few of these opinions, though a very few, have been noticed by Capt. Medwin. He was hardly, I think, so warm an admirer of Shakespear as the majority of his countrymen. He praises the French and Italian dramatists at the expense of the bard of Avon, of whose want of taste and decorum he vehemently complains. I have no desire to cover Shakespear's gross moral offences; and with regard to want of decency, in the proper sense of that expression, no excuse can be admitted either for him or for any other poet. So far, however, as mere taste is concerned, he ought in common fairness to be judged by the character of the age in which he lived, and which in this country was the infancy of polite literature. He should not, in this respect, be weighed in the same balance with Racine or Moliere, who wrote at a later period, and in a country which had made earlier advances towards elegance and refinement. But is it not an indelible stain upon the literary character of Lord Byron, that, in unseemly description -the most pernicious form of indecency-and sometimes even in grossness and disgusting details, he has outstripped in the nineteenth, the old bard of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries?-Lord Byron, like every judge of poetry, knew how to appreciate the pre-eminence of Milton; but he seems to have thought that he is shamefully neglected by the present generation of readers: "Who now," said he, "reads Milton ?" This, however, is

an exaggerated censure of the age. In spite of our poetical novelties, which, like the new charities, rise up in such abundance that we are apt sometimes to overlook the old, Milton can never cease to be extensively read and admired. There is reason to believe that in France, and other continental nations, his fame is on the increase, in proportion to the growing acquaintance of foreigners with the English language, and their power of enjoying his beauties in the original. Many too, who dip into him at first as a sort of duty, doubtless find his writings really delightful when they have once surmounted the Latin peculiarities and sometimes obscure transpositions of his verse. It will not soon be forgotten that the present lord chancellor, after having, during one of his summer recesses, read the Paradise Lost, not of course for the first time, and partly in order to form a proper judgment of Lord Byron's "Cain," intimated in open court the exquisite pleasure he had derived from the perusal.

Pope was a favourite poet with Lord Byron. He seems to have entertained an opinion concerning him, in which I believe many good judges will coincide, that, as he was too much idolized during his life, he has been too much depreciated since his death, and particularly since the rise of the Scotts, the Southeys, and the Wordsworths of the present day. Amongst Lord Byron's compositions, his satirical poem is the only one which at all reminds us of the school and manner of Pope. By this work he has proved that he was gifted with a versatility of talent, of which, from the too uniform matter and manner of his other poetry, we might hardly have conceived him capable.-The noble bard observed of Dr. Johnson, that "he looked upon him as the profoundest of critics." will appear an important admission on the part of Lord Byron, when it is considered how extremely different were the cast of mind, the


opinions, the principles, the tastes, and the characters of these two writers. The criticism of Johnson, though sometimes too careless, sometimes too meagre, and sometimes too severe, is indeed, upon the whole, what he has called Butler's wit," weighty bullion." The more closely and impartially it is examined, the more will it compel our acquiescence, and call forth our admiration. If we except the critiques on Gray, and perhaps on Collins and on Dyer, there are, I think, hardly any in which he will not be found substantially in the right, and in which his sentence will not be confirmed by the verdict of impartial posterity.

One instance of Lord Byron's careless inconsistency in his opinions has been given in the different judgments which he passed, at different times, on the poetry of his friend Shelley. Another passage of his conversations will serve to exemplify his occasional negligence of remark. "What poets," he once observed," had we in ninety-five? Hayley had got a monopoly, such as it was. Did he then forget Cowper? or had Cowper not established his reputation, as a poet, before the year ninety-five? It must be admitted indeed, that at first he was not read, relished, and admired as he was afterwards. The public were not altogether prepared for his novelty and peculiarity both of matter and manner. His too is one of the very few reputations which rise higher with the lapse of years. But surely all judges of vigour, originality, care, and nature in poetry, must have ranked Cowper far above Hayley, before the year ninety-five. The latter was himself at that time fully sensible that he was in the descending, and his amiable and powerful brother-poet in the ascending, scale.

It is far from my design to enter upon an examination of Lord Byron's several compositions. I am not ashamed to say, indeed I am very thankful, that there are some

of them with which I am not sufficiently acquainted for the purpose, even were my critical abilities equal to the task. But a few additional remarks on the turn of his genius and the tendency of his poetry will not be out of place here, though perhaps this is a subject upon which it will be difficult to say any thing that may not have been already better said elsewhere.

Lord Byron certainly exhibits some of the features of a commanding genius, formed for great and lasting celebrity. The sublime and the pathetic were equally within his reach, and in each department he aims at producing nothing short of the most powerful impressions. In the sublime, however, it was not so much the vast, the lofty, the majestic, and the magnificent that he affected, as the terrific, the mysterious, and the horrible: nor does he shew himself capable of combining the grand and the dreadful, with the skill which Milton has displayed in the first two books of the Paradise Lost. In regard to the pathetic, also, he delights and excels not so much in what has a tendency to excite soft emotions, or kind commiseration, as in images of heart-rending affliction or mute and morbid despondency. To this turn of genius his subjects are well adapted. The melancholy of a contemplative and sentimental profligate, who wanders to amuse a mind divided between remorse and scepticism,-the reckless intrepidity of a corsair, who, destitute of moral principle, is fired with all the ardour of the passions,

the mysterious inmate of a lonely tower, the sack, of strange and questionable appearance, in which Turkish jealousy consigns its victim to the waves, the adventures of a wretch bound to a wild horse, and left to his mercy, till both horse and rider are ready to expire with terror and exhaustion, - the woes of shipwreck,-the fearful expedients and resources of famine,the awful repose and chilling calm of death;-such are the pictures

which the sorcery of his imagination chief figure of the piece may percalls up, and presents before the haps remind us a little of parts mind under every form and cir- of his own career;-a mad and cumstance of horror. He had wretched whirl of dissipation, in much of that sort of power which which life was embittered, and in appears in his favourite Dantè; but some degree worn out, before the he was less qualified for displaying usual limit allotted to human existhis "Paradise" than his "Hell," or ence. his "Purgatory." If the story of Count Ugolino had been reserved for him, he might perhaps have surpassed even Dantè himself in the description.

None of Lord Byron's compositions display the peculiar features of his genius in a stronger light, than the little poem of Mazeppa. The subject, novel, eccentric, and horrible in itself, was precisely suited to his turn of mind, and is wrought up with the most forcible and tremendous effect. That very carelessness and rapidity which occasionally strike us as a fault in his performances, are here in character and keeping with the principal, and almost the sole, figure of the piece. What, within the range of real and possible calamities, can be conceived more strange and terrific than the condition of a wretch, bound naked upon a wild horse, and struggling in vain to extricate himself, while the furious animal rushes with his helpless load through entangling thickets, and across deep and dangerous streams, over moor, and rock, and fen, and every variety of country, plunging continually under the mingled operation of rage and terror, till he wears out himself and his rider to a state of utter exhaustion? The scene where a troop of wild horses rush out upon their fellow-brute, and, after gazing and wheeling about at his strange appearance, fly off with the rapidity of lightning, is inimitably described, and is one of the finest conceptions that ever occurred to the imagination of a poet. In short, I look upon Mazeppa as a master-piece of Lord Byron's genius. It appears as though it had been conceived and executed during some single uninterrupted heat of the imagination; and the


The "Hebrew Melodies" are almost the only instance in which Lord Byron has tuned his harp to the serious celebration of a Scriptural theme; for the drama of Cain seems to have been composed to bring the Old Testament into contempt and obloquy. But, in his imitations of from this porpassages tion of the sacred volume, though he availed himself of some of the richest sources of poetical inspiration, he has not, as it appears to me, displayed his accustomed vigour. And, if his wonted power forsakes him upon the threshold of the sanctuary, such a result is surely attributable to the defects, not of the subject, but of the writer. poet, who would do justice (so far as any imitation can do justice) to the poetry of Scripture, must first cordially embrace its principles, and practically imbibe its spirit. Even a very inconsistent believer, if a poet, may have occasional, though transient, movements of a sort of religious feeling that will animate and elevate his muse; but a determined sceptic or infidel must always find himself out of his element, in endeavouring to transfuse into his lines, the pure, heartfelt, and sublime devotion that distinguishes the poetry of the sacred oracles. The short pieces of the "Hebrew Melodies" seem to have been the hasty effusions of a vacant hour; and, though necessarily containing much that is beautiful, they sadly disappoint the reader upon the whole. His favourite measure also is too light and airy for the subject; and this fault is particularly observable in his imitation of the 137th Psalm. That sacred ode, even if we look at it merely as a human composition, will be found to rival the most exquisite productions

of the lyric muse of Greece and Rome. Its grand characteristic is an inimitable union of the tenderest pathos with the noblest spirit of patriotism; yet by Lord Byron it is rendered in a jigging measure, which rather reminds us of the song and the dance, than of that scene of exile where the captives sat down and wept, at the remembrance of their lost and beloved Zion.

Lord Byron often spoils the effect of his pictures by a perverse mixture of the horrible and the ludicrous; by attempts to relieve and diversify his scenes with flashes of merriment which can only disgust every reader of taste, feeling, and delicacy; and as it were damming up, or diverting, the proper channel and stream of thought by a vile collection of mud and rubbish. This is something like throwing up squibs and sky-rockets, amidst the roaring of a tempest, or the eruption of a volcano. It might have heen supposed that one, who was so good a judge of human nature as Lord Byron has proved himself on many occasions to have been, would have carefully avoided this absurd and disgusting expedient to gain attention. It reminds one of some old paintings of the last day-a subject to which neither painting nor perhaps poetry can do the smallest justice-where, amidst much fine drawing, grouping, and colouring, a corner of the piece presents us with some ludicrous image of a pitchfork or a wheel-barrow, utterly at variance with the general effect intended to be produced. The only instance, I think, in which Milton has offended in this way, is by the punning of the fallen angels, in his sixth book; a blemish for which he has been often condemned. Shakespear's mixture of tragic and comic scenes in the same drama cannot be excused, and only admits of palliation from the very imperfect taste of the period at which he wrote. But even Shakespear has not often united grave and ludicrous images in the

same scene.

If we look at the best parts of Lord Byron's poetry, we must admit his literary merit to be of the very highest order: if we look at the worst, we shall be obliged to confess that hardly any true poet ever descended lower. I am not now speaking of his moral delinquencies, as an author. If he have some beauties which call up to our remembrance the sublimities of Dantè and Milton, and the passions and characters of Shakespear, he has many lines where he sinks into prosaic tameness, and the most careless and unmelodious versification, and several in which he has degraded himself to the doggerel, without aspiring to the wit, of Hudibras. He was assuredly an ardent lover and admirer of the grand and beautiful scenes of creation; and he has sometimes caught and collected the most expressive features of nature, at a glance, and copied them with a union of vigour and precision which communicates the most picturesque effect to his descriptions. But, at the same time, he is frequently not a little harsh and obscure, partly from carelessness, partly from too much condensation of his thoughts, and partly also from an eccentricity of genius, or an ambition of novelty, I cannot decide which, that makes him "speak not like a man of this world." He is too uniform in the plan, and perhaps in the execution, of his pieces. He seldom writes in any other form than that of a descriptive and sentimental tale; and his tales all come from the same quarter, and exhibit, for the most part, similar manners and characters. It is not true that his several heroes are nothing more than fresh exhibitions of the "Childe Harold," under different aspects and circumstances; but he has not sufficiently attended to variety, while gloom, melancholy, scepticism, pride, discontent, and contempt of human nature, are in all his writings prominently conspicuous. I may just observe, that Capt. Medwin seems under a mistake in telling us that

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