Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE

MONTHLY REVIEW, ,

For JUNE,

1792.

ART. I. The Pleasures of Memory, à Poem, in Two Parts. By

che Author of “an Ode to Superstition, with some other Poems*."

410. pp. 71. 35. 6d. Boards. Cadell. 1792. If the author of this poem be thought happy in the choice of

a copious and fertile theme, which has yet, by no means, been exhausted, he is equally so in the manner in which he has treated it. Correctness of thought, delicacy of sentiment, variety of imagery, and harmony of versification, are the characters which distinguish this beautiful poem, in a degree that cannot fail to ensure its success.

The work opens with the description of an obscure village, and of the pleasing melancholy which it excités, on being revisited after a long absence. The poet represents himself as surrounded with those objects which recal to his memory the days of his childhood; and, by means of the associating prins ciple, excites à succession of interesting emotions :

• Mark yon old Mansion, frowning thro’ the trees,
Whose bollow turret wooes the whistling breeze.
That casement, arch'd with ivy's browneit shade,
First to these eyes the light of heav'n convey'd.
The mouldering gateway strews the grass-grown court,
Once the calm Icene of many a simple sport;
When nature pleas'd, for life itself was new,
And the heart promis'd what the fancy drew,

See, thro' the fractur'd pediment reveal'd,
Where moss inlays the rudely-sculptur'd shield,
The Martin's old, hereditary neft.
Long may the ruin spare its hallowed guest !

As jars the hinge, what fullen echces call!
Oh hatte, unfold the hospitable hall!
That hall, where oncé, in antiquared state,
The chair of justice held the grave debate.

* See Rev, vol. Ixxv. p. 49. VOL. viii.

к

Now

Now ftain'd with dews, with cobwebs darkly hung,
Oft has its roof with peals of rapture rung;
When round yon ample board, in due degree,
We sweeten'd every meal with social glee.
The heart's light laughter crown'd the circling jeft;
And all was sunshine in each little breast.
'T'was here we chas'd the slipper by its sound;
And turn'd the blindfold hero round and round.
'Twas here, at eve, we form'd our fairy ring;
And Fancy flutter'd on her wildest wing.
Giants and genii chain'd the wondering ear;
And orphan-woes drew Nature's ready tear.
Oft with the babes we wander'd in the wood,
Or view'd the foreft-feats of Robin Hood:
Oft, fancy-led, at midnight's fearful hour,
With startling ftep we fcal'd the lonely tow'r;
O'er infant innocence to hang and weep,
Murder’d by ruffian hands, when smiling in its sleep.

Ye Household Deities! whose guardian eye
Mark'd each pure thought, ere register'd on high ;
Still, ftill ye walk the consecrated ground,
And breathe the foul of Inspiration round.

As o'er the dusky furniture I bend,
Each chair awakes the feelings of a friend.
The storied arras, source of fond delight,
With old atchievement charms the wilder'd fight;
And still, with Heraldry's rich hues imprest,
On the dim window glows the pictur'd crest.
The screen unfolds its many-colour'd chart.
The clock ftill points its moral to the heart.
That faithful monitor 'twas hear'a co hear!
When soft it spoke a promis'd pleasure near :
And has its rober hand, its simple chime,
Forgot to trace the feather'd feet of Time?
That massive beam, with curious carvings wrought,
Whence the caged linnet footh'd my penfive thought;
Those mukets cas’d with venerable rust;
Those once-lov'd forms still breathing in their duft,
Still from the frame, in mould gigantic calt,

Starting to life--all whisper of the past ! This power of the mind he conceives to be called into action in two ways; either by the presence of sensible objects, or by an internal operation of the mind. 'The former is the subject of the first part, the latter of the second. The recollection, which is awakened by sensible objects, is conceived to be produced by means of that power of association, by which the perception of any object leads to the idea of another, which was connected with it in time or place, or which can be compared or contrasted with it. This is illustrated by a variety of examples;

particularly particularly by the attachment which we naturally form to inanimate objects; and by the pleasure derived from historic scenes, from painting, and from the review of juvenile days. The associating principle, as employed by Memory, is shewn to be conducive to virtue no less than to happiness; addressing our finer feelings, and giving exercise to every mild and generous propenlity. Its power is felt through all animated nature, and its effects are peculiarly striking in the domestic tribes :

• Recal the traveller *, whose alter'd form
Has borne the buffet of the mountain-storm ;
And who will firkt bis fond impatience meet?
His faithful dog's already at his feet!
Yes, tho' the porter (purn him from his door,
Tho' all, that knew him, know his face no more,
His faithful dog shall tell his joy to each,
With that mute eloquence which passes speech.
And see, the master but returns to die!
Yer who shall bid the watchful servant Aly?
The blasts of heav'n, the drenching dews of earth,
The wanton insults of unfeeling mirth;
Thefe, when to guard Misfortune's facred grave,

Will firm Fidelity exult to brave.' Memory in her higher province is often busily employed by man, when excited by no external cause whatever. ferves for her use the treasures of art and science, history and philosophy; as this poet represents, under an image strictly accurate and exquisitely beautiful, in the following lines :

Ages and climes remote to Thee impart
What charms in Genius, and refines in Arts
Thee, in whose hand the keys of Science dwell,
The penfive portress of her boly cell ;
Whose conitane vigils chase the chilling damp

Oblivion steals upon her vestal-lamp.' It is the office of Memory to colour all the prospects of life; for we can only anticipate the future by concluding what is possible from what is past. On her agency depends every effusion of the fancy, whose boldest effort can only compound or transpose, augment or diminish, the materials which she has collected or retained. When the first emotions of despair have fubsided, and forrow has softened into melancholy, the amuses with a retrospect of innocent pleasures, and inspires that noble confidence which results from the consciousness of having acted well :

• Ah! why should Virtue dread the frowns of Fate?

Her's what no wealth can win, no power create ! * Ulyfles's dog will here present himself to every reader's memory. Rey, K2

A little

She pre

A little world of clear and cloudless day,
Nor wreck'd by storms, por moulder'd by decay ;
A world, with MEMORY's cealeless fun-fine bleit,

The home of Happiness, an honest breait.' When sleep has suspended the operation of the organs of sense, Memory not only supplies the mind with images, but affifts in their combination ; even in madriess itself, the revives past perceptions, and awakens that train of thought which was formerly most familiar:--but her best sphere of action is in a well-cultivated and well-regulated mind.

• Ah, who can tell the triumphs of the mind,
By truth illumin'd, and by taste refin'd?
When Age has quench'd the eye and clos'd the ear,
Still nerv'd for action in her native sphere,
Oft will the rise-with searching glance pursue
Some long-lov'd image vanish'd from her view;
Dart thro' the deep recesses of the past,
O'er dusky forms in chains of sumber cast;
With giant grasp fling back the folds of night,
And snatch the faithless fugitive to light.

' So thro' the grove the impatient mother fies,
Each funless glade, each secret pathway cries;
Till the light leaves the truant-boy disclose,

Long on the wood-mots stretch'd in sweet repose.' Nor are we pleased only with a review of the brighter parsages of life ; events, the most diftrefling in their immediate consequences, are often cherished in remembrance with a de gree of enthufiafm :--but the world and its occupations give a mechanical impulse to the passions, which is not very favourable to the indulgence of this feeling; it is in a calinitate of mind, that Memory most perfectly performs her task, and Solitude is her best sphere of action. This conviction introduces a charming tale, which illustrates the influence of Memory in solitude, fickness, and forrow. We could with pleasure transcribe it, but we must not forestal the gratification which the reader will receive from perusing it in its proper place, in the work.

Art. II. Letters from America, Historical, and Descriptive; com

priting Occurrences from 1769 10 1777, inclusive. By William Eddis, lace Surveyor of the Customs, &c. at Annapolis, in Mary

land. 8vo. pp. 455. 75. 6d. Boards. Dilly. 1792. TH These letters include an interesting period, and relate to

events, which, however painful in their detail, and disa honourable to the British name, have, in their consequences, been not altogether unpropitious to Great Britain ; and are deemed, by some prophetic minds, to contain, in their womb,

the the germs of universal freedom. The bloody contest with the Americans, though it increased our public debt and diminished the volume of the empire, has not destroyed our refources, nor injured our commerce; and it is contemplated by the world as a proof of our energy, strength, and riches. Yet the object was unjust and impolitic; and our recollection looks back, with extreme concern, on the scenes of carnage and horfor which it exhibited. In reviewing Mr. Eddis's volume, this must be the case ; for part of his correspondence contains an account of the commencement and progress of the war : but we could not avoid observing that, had all the communia cations to Government, from America, been of the same complexion with those of Mr. Eddis to his friends, the Government could not have been so fanguine in their expectations ; for, before the sword was drawn, he says, in one of his letters, • that the spirit of opposition to ministerial measures appears to blaze, steadily and equally, in every part of America.'

Mr. Eddis arrived on the American continent in the month of August 1769, and, by virtue of his situation, had an opportunity of collecting the prevailing sentiments and difpofitions of the Americans; so that his representations merit regard. He quitted it in Nov. 1777. His letters are forty in number. Those, which are placed at the beginning of the volume, contain short descriptions of the country, of the government, and of the trade, manners, and customs, of the inhabitants; there are followed by others, which give an account of the breaking out of the war, and of the vigour and unanimity with which the colonies en gaged in it, together with its progress, till his departure from New York; the concluding letters narrate the difficulties and dangers which the author experienced, from the time of his dimiffion from his office at Annapolis, in consequence of his refusing to take the oath tendered him by the Americans, till he arrived at New York. Of this correspondence, that part which describes the country and the state of society in America, will generally be thought the most entertaining. He touches on a variety of topics, but in rather a too cursory manner; he wrices, however, with ease, and his remarks are generally fensible. In his sixth letter, he gives an account of the state of servitude in Maryland; and as this may be acceptable at the present juncture, to many of our readers, we shall make no apology for laying a part of it before them :

Persons in a state of servitude are under four diftin&t denomi. nations : negroes, who are the entire property of their respective owners: convicts, who are transported from the mother country for a limited term : indented servants, who are engaged for five years previous to their leaving England ; and free-willers, who

K 3

are

« PreviousContinue »