Imágenes de página

interesting character, whose boyish history we have traced, was inconsistent with himself, or that his maturity proved other than his childhood has promised. Yet at the period of his life to which we are now adverting, his mental growth is visible. His thoughts, his feelings, his opinions appear to become his own, and, though very modestly delivered, are communicated with the freedom and independence of one who is dispensing from original stores. The appearance of effort and constraint almost wholly ceases. The impressions of religion, for which he was so remarkable, seem to become more profound and intimate; and his enunciation of them to assume an intonation not equally observable in his earlier compositions. There are some admirable passages in the letters which follow; but we have not room for them. Yet we cannot refuse to extract the following on the Study of Ecclesiastical History.

. . . . . Pray give my kindest regards to , and tell or read her this, and add, what I am persuaded her own piety would suggest, (yet which she will forgive me for mentioning,) that the Holy Scriptures, particularly the New Testament, furnish by far the best light, direction and antidote to the reading of ecclesiastical history. I know of no study in which it is more necessary to carry along with us an intimate acquaintance with the standard of faith and holiness delivered in holy writ. It happens of necessity that the most valuable part of the Church story, the lives, opinions, tempers, and practices of the most eminent saints, has been lost. These men contributed in general but little to the changes in church or state, which it is in the office of the annalist to record. They lived and died servants of God in spirit and truth, but, for the most part, disinclined to meddle in worldly concerns, and certainly quite indifferent to celebrity. Their kingdom, their hope, their prize, their glory, was that inheritance which fades not away, reserved for them in Heaven. We need not therefore be surprised to find strange corruptions early over-running the church; shocking acts of violence committed under the cover of religion; and even some of the best characters, whose actions are preserved, tarnished with great faults. All these things were so; and the wisdom of God, I doubt not, permitted them so to be, that those only who seek the truth in humbleness and sincerity may find it. Yet there were undoubtedly in every age many, whose very names are forgotten, that sustained in their principles and exhibited in their lives the purity of the Christian faith, following the steps of their blessed Master, trusting in His merits, and conforming to His example. To many I believe ecclesiastical history is full of snares; to the humble' conscientious Christian it is full of instruction. He who first published the glad tidings of salvation to man, has ever watched over his servants with the tenderest love. His eye is now on me who write, and on you who read. I pray God, we, and all who are dear to us, may continually become more and more sensible of this."—vol. i. pp. 102, 3. - The series is almost progressively improving: it is not possible - - H 2


to read without sympathy those which relate to the death of his sister. From that which begins p. 124, we extract one paragraph on his own situation. * – The pains of protracted illness are indeed very great: “to be weak is to be wretched, doing or suffering.”—I know full well that I have merited far severer chastisement than that which has been inflicted; and the divines sometimes direct us to reflect on this in our seasons of trial. Indeed it may well silence complaining, but it is sad consolation. He who believes that he is afflicted only that he may be made more perfect and meet for a never-fading inheritance, who can measure the favour of God by his chastisements, may well suffer joyfully; but how different is the case of that man, who fears that his chastisements are penal judgments rather than mercies! I do not however mean tacitly to describe myself under either of these two characters, and indeed am almost ashamed to speak of my little pains as if they were a great matter.' Let the reader carry with him the recollection, that the highest hopes of ambition, of fortune, and of happiness were combined to elevate, to encourage, and delight the opening manhood of Mr. Bowdler, and that in one summer all those hopes were blighted; and he may then form some estimate of the Christian acquiescence and cheerfulness with which he surrendered all that he had in possession and in prospect, every enjoyment, and every hope on this side the grave. - The Journal is slight and sketchy : but still it is the work of no ordinary hand. We doubt, however, whether, after all, we should not have suppressed it as a whole. Though admirably adapted for the family circle to which it was originally addressed, it contains too little either of learning, science, or observation to justify the publication at a time when every tenth gentleman in England has travelled, and every tenth traveller has published his journal. But at any rate we should have suppressed some passages. The sunset in the Straits of Gibraltar is new and striking. p. 16. From a later part of the Journal, we select the following passage, not only as a favourite specimen of the style, but as a sketch of a country comparatively new in description. ‘. . . . . . . After leaving Georisa Nova, we passed through the Grotto della Pietra Perciata, a rocky defile close to the sea, remarkable for its gloomy grandeur. In one part the rock is pierced through. It was at this place that robbers used formerly to fire on passengers from the clefts in the rocks: the scenery, therefore, is accompanied with its proper associations; and to secure its full effect, just as we had passed through the arched grotto, turning a sharp corner, we came suddenly on a party of horsemen, carrying each a fusee on his saddle. Their wild Jarouche air made me doubt for a moment, who they might be, and I jumped out of the lettiga in some haste; but I soon saw that they wore a kind of uniform, and as they rode by, the leader came up to me and - informed

informed me that they were a party of guards, carrying two malefactors, who were chained, to suffer death for their crimes. We proceeded over another mountain, very lofty, very beautiful, and more impracticable than all that had preceded it. Having surmounted it with some difficulty, we came, near the end of the descent, to a place where the road was for about twenty or thirty feet literally almost perpendicular. I had dismounted and was leading my mule; but to conduct him down this pass was impossible. I could by no means walk down myself, but half sliding, half tumbling, with some care got safe to the bottom. How the baggage-mules were to descend, passed my comprehension: but when the one who was most heavily laden arrived, he did not hesitate an instant; but resting himself on his feet, or rather his hocks, slid down with perfect coolness and safety. The skill and success of these animals in getting through difficult places is really astonishing; when they cannot walk they make a sort of clumsy spring, but never tumble or refuse the most impracticable passes. At St. Agatha at length we arrived just before sun-set. This is a small village, standing on the seashore, from which we could expect little. On inquiry, however, we found there was a locanda, containing one clean room for us, and a room behind for the servants. This was quite sufficient for a single night, and here, therefore, we determined to abide. How many pensive visions have I wove, Since first I wandered from my parent shore; How many fairy scenes of peace and love Have stole at eve with willing influence o'er My aching heart, and bade me weep no more. But all are faithless, vain each lighter dream, And every mournful vision vainer still; For joy has vanished like the morning beam, And real griefs my labouring bosom fill, That mock the idle thought which mused on fancied ill'— vol. i. pp. 60–4. The early poetry of Mr. Bowdler consists of two or three copies of verses addressed to his mother and sisters; and two or three school exercises, which, like the greater part of all compositions written at the same age, and in the same circumstances, are rather centos of the phrases, or perhaps patch-work of the lines of fullgrown poets. Yet it would not be doing justice, if we did not say that the exercises in question are above the average of their kind. There is, however, a great and rapid transition in the character of the poems which follow the lines entitled ‘To his Sister Jane.” The verses on leaving England for the South of Europe in consequence of illness, unite, with a pleasing degree of fancy, all the charms of truth and feeling; and we regret that we have not space to indulge ourselves or our readers by extracting more of them than one of the closing stanzas. - * — But when the fading eye grows dim, When fails each faint and wasted limb, H 3 And

And short and frequent pantings show
The sad disease that lurks below,
Will mirth allay, can pleasure calm
The hurried pulse, the burning palm ?
Go, bid the festal board be crown'd,
Let the soft voice of music sound,
And art and wit, and learning spread
Their treasures round the sick man's bed;
With deafen'd ear, with heedless eye,
The silent sufferer turns to die.’—pp. 178–180.

The prose works consist, 1. of an Essay on the Comparative Merits of public and private Education—the ideas of a boy on a subject which requires the experience of a man; 2. of an admirable composition on the Improvement of Female Education: and though in this, and indeed in other places there is too frequently a somewhat ponderous attempt at lightness, the defect is amply redeemed by the depth of the writer's philosophy, and the extent of his knowledge; 3. of a somewhat angry stricture on a review of the Family Shakspeare, which appeared, we are not told where or when, but certainly, from the date of the Reply, some time before our existence. We shall not, therefore, be suspected of wincing under the castigation, which at present falls lightly on some nameless brother, when we express a doubt whether the temper and some even of the principles of these strictures are altogether consistent with the spirit of the Essays, which form the greater part of the volumes.

The fourth and fifth articles consist of Extracts from a Review of the Tableau de la Littérature Françoise pendant le XVIII. siècle, (the whole critique should have been given,) and of Mr. Dugald Stewart's Philosophical Essays. The editor does not state (in reference to either of these articles, or indeed to any others) whether he has taken them from original MSS. of the author, or from the critical works to which he gave them; though he has suffered the papers to retain all the dignity of the plural pronoun, and thus to betray their origin. Nec vox hominem sonat, O Dea, certe

Both these articles are of merit so extraordinary and so various, that our estimate of the talents of the author which would have been high, if we had confined ourselves to either, was considerably raised when we read the two consecutively; and recollected, that he, who in the space of one year was thus giving to the world one of the first specimens of philosophical analysis which criticism had yet received, and one of the ablest sketches of French literature which England had produced, was, at the time of composition, with a constitution broken and hopes ruined, and spirits almost


exhausted, devoting himself with an assiduity apparently undivided to a profession of all others the most jealous: and that, while he thus snatched with eager hand the fruits and the flowers which grew on either side his path, and scattered them among the throng who watched his progress, he was still pressing onwards with a firm step in the great line of his duty, to that eminence which his talents would have dignified and his piety consecrated.

The theological tracts follow. The first is a sermon on the Atonement, written at the age of twenty; and which, notwithstanding one or two passages of obscurity, is, on the whole, abundantly creditable to the author. We may say the same of the second tract, a work of his twenty-first year, on the Eternity of Future Punishments. The third tract is on the supposed Connexion between Religion and Melancholy. It is in some respects one of the least satisfactory in the volume: that is to say, it has more faults of style and of taste than any other, and it contains more questionable positions. The following is one: He is speaking of a man being “happily irregularly educated, or his powerful mind might have been lost in dialects and prosody.’ ii. 139. as if Mr. Pitt, Mr. Fox, and Lord Grenville, who were all regularly educated, and who therefore learnt much about dialects and prosody, had thereby lost their powerful minds. The truth is, that these restraints are the cords of the Philistines which the Sampsons break like tow, and by which no really-powerful mind was ever endangered. - o

The most original portion of these volumes is the Series (of Essays on the Christian Graces) with which they close. We could almost wish to see it published in a detached form, for it would not be easy to name any religious work which combines more taste, wisdom, and piety, with so much grace and so much strength...We are aware that essay-writing is a species of composition peculiarly easy, and therefore adopted by men, women, and children, of every height and growth of intellect. But the success of Mr. Bowdler is not of an ordinary kind; and indeed appears to us so great, that on sacred subjects, at least, we cannot recollect above one or two essayists whom we should place on the same level.

The essays are eleven in number, and are entitled as follows: Practical View of the Character of Christ, and of his Atonement; on Submission to God; Trust in God; Love of God; on Faith; Hope; Spiritual-mindedness; Thankfulness; , Prayer; and Humility. The first in the order, and we think in the relative excellence of the Series, is the practical View of the Character of Christ. . As a specimen of Christian philosophy, we select the following from the Essay on the Love of God.

- # 4 *I canno"

« AnteriorContinuar »