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of feature, which make allegory consistent, interesting, and imposing. There are, no doubt, some whose anger will partake of the indignation and contempt with which the lady in the Citizen of the World received her Chinese visitor in his English dress, and pointed to her jars to prove him an impostor. It is not to such readers that Mr. Montgomery has submitted his poem. But Mr. Montgomery appears to us in some places to have done unnecessary violence to this feeling, by the introduction of words and images which destroy the indefiniteness of the picture, and thus let down the sublimity of its interest. “The lark” and “ the hare" startled, as in the first canto, and the cottage of Adam and Eve produce an incongruous impression. We forbear to cite other passages in which, had he been less definite, the poet would have succeeded much better in exciting the imagination of his readers. As we are on the subject of faults, we must also notice the injudicious prominence which is given to the love of Javan for Zillah. It forms a beautiful back ground figure, but does not consist with the sublimer action of the poem. Enoch should be the hero of the World before the Flood. We allude principally to the interview before the giant king, which is too much in the style of Racine, and the French dramatists. We feel disposed to repeat Zillah's words to the poet: “For earthly love it is no season now.”- -The reader is inevitably led to wonder what the king was about all the while. Our objection is not to the passage itself, which contains a great deal of pathos, but to the introduction of a scene, in such a connexion as to make it inconsistent with the dignity of the subject. On the same account we venture to recommend the omission of the six lines (p. 197) which particularize the happy issue of Javan's trials-the reader, if brought by the antecedent events into that mood which the poet would wish to have produced, is not at leisure to think of him.
But these are immaterial defects, which detract little from the excellence of the work. After all, however differently the subject might, in the estimation of some, have been treated by superior learning or skill, we are persuaded that Mr. Montgomery would not have so well succeeded in a poem of a different character. He has taken a view of the subject, partial in respect to its poetical capabilities, but particularly adapted to the cast and faculties of his own mind. And he has succeeded in producing a poem 'very rich in moral beauty, and highly illustrative of all that is dignified and excellent in our nature. There breathes throughout a purity of feeling, and an elevation of sentiment, which recommend the work to the heart more than all the graces
of fiction with which it is embellished. It affects us not, indeed, by carrying away our imaginations captive with wonder and admiration, and transporting us into forgetfulness of the “ thing we are;" it is rather the fervor of the poet's genius imparted to the eloquence of truth, which delights us by awakening our sympathy. We are not entranced by the power of his numbers; but in the soft dream of poetry which their melody raises, realities are discovered to us which far transcend in glory our waking experience; the vivid impression of which leaves a glow of pleasure on the mind resembling the influence of twilight, as described in the song of Javan.
“ When o'er the harp of thought, the passing wind
A world of wonders in the poet's breast.” p. 113. On the whole we consider the World before the Flood as a mostinteresting and valuable addition to the stores of our language. It certainly elevates its author to a much higher rank among his contemporaries than we were before disposed to concede to him, although he had produced some lyric pieces of a very high order. His “West Indies,” indeed, discovered a luxuriant fancy, a loftiness of thought, and an energy of feeling, worthy of the subject; but it afforded comparatively little scope for the higher powers of invention.
The present volume contains some occasional pieces, of various merit. “The Peak Mountains” and the “ Departed Days" deserve to be more particularly noticed
than our limits will allow us to do. In the principal poem Mr. Montgomery has certainly surpassed all bis former efforts. He has built himself a name in a production "so written, that after times will not willingly let it die;" and as a poet he has “this over and above, of being a Christian *," on which Milton rested his hope of benefiting his country, as well as adorning its language, and which will secure for the author of the World before the Flood the respect and gratitude of posterity.
* Symmons's Life of Milton, p, 19%.
Art. VI.--The Advantages of distributing the Holy Scriptures
among the lower Orders of Society, chiefly by their own Agency. London. 1812.
GREAT instruments or discoveries are seldom perfected at once. They do not start full formed and armed for future achievements from the head of the inventor; but, struggling on perhaps through a feeble and laborious infancy, attain by slow degrees to manhood and vigour. Thus all those rare machines by which our manufacturers are enabled to outstrip the world, though their first principle and elementary construction may have been the work of a day, have not reached their present excellence but by tardy steps. Thus also in the discoveries of science : how vast the interval between the mere skeleton of the Newtonian system in a page of Bacon, to its full and perfect developement in the volumes of Newton! How vast even the additions made by this great philosopher himself to his first conquests on the empyreal plains; from his first doubtful solution of a solitary problem to the latter sections of his Principia, where he takes his station as high priest of nature”.
”—as the interpreter of its mysteries—and where by a sort of influence, like that force of gravity which he describes, he seems to command systems and control the great machine of the universe! Other similar instances might be named: but perhaps few are more striking than that which is supplied in the pamphlet before us. The “ British and Foreign Bible Society" may be considered as the discovery and application of an entirely new instrument in religion. It is not indeed the discovery of a new principle, but the novel application of an obvious principle to a religious object. It is the first example, upon a large scale at least, of the various sects of Christians merging their subordinate differences in order to co-operate for a great general end. In physics,-in the production of the solar ray, we had seen the most important results obtained by combination. In politics—in the mutual surrender of personal claims in our own mixed constitution, we had seen the same principle as successfully applied. But, in religion, such was the interruption produced by passion and prejudice, that men could not be brought to act in the same direction and by contemporaneous impulses. At length however, in the operations of the Bible Society, a sphere of common action has been found; and, as might have been expected, the effects are proportionably large. In eight years, half a million copies of the word of God
have been distributed-channels of communication have been opened in every part of the world--the Apocalyptic vision is, in a measure, realized, and the angel carries the “ everlasting gospel to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.” But what was affirmed of other instruments is true also of this—that it has not started into maturity at once. It was some time before the plan was conceived of strengthening the hands of the parent society, either by auxiliary societies in the different counties, or by branch societies in the various towns in those counties. And this eloquent little pamphlet developes another scheme, promising we think a far larger accession of strength to the original society than is supplied by any of its precursors. This scheme we shall let the author describe in his own words.
“ To complete the system which has commenced, and been conducted with such happy results, no measure seems to have occurred of such reasonable promise as Bible associations. The contributors to the institution in London, and to its auxiliaries and branches in different parts of the country, consist in general of that class of persons who are somewhat elevated in the scale of society. It is the object of Bible associations to bring into action also the inferior classes; to collect subscriptions not merely from the opulent, but likewise from that large body of the people who are unable to give much, and are yet not unwilling to give a little. If the number of contributors be great, the accumulation even of small sums will not be contemptible; and it may be presumed, that most persons, who are not absolutely in the lowest walks of life, can afford a subscription of a penny a week.
“ A series of resolutions, recommended for adoption by Bible associations, are subjoined to this address. In illustration of that paper, it may
be proper to observe, that while the committees of such associations are formed from the contributors themselves, yet the stimulus must be afforded by others. On the formation of an auxiliary or branch society, the members of the committee (under the designation sub-committees) should select certain districts for their own more iinmediate exertions, and endeavour to awaken the attention of the inferior classes to the importance of rendering whatever aid they can afford. It would be expedient to appoint a numerous committee for each association, in order that a greater interest may be excited, and that the wants of the poor may be more accurately known. Certain members of the auxiliary or branch committees should also be appointed frequently to sit with the come mittees of Bible associations. A proper direction will thus be given to their efforts ; a similarity of system will be maintained; and the parent society, with all its auxiliaries and dependencies, will thus present a perfect whole, correspondent in plan and united in harmony: a noble fabric, in which all the parts are combined at once for beauty and for strength; whose foundations are laid deep in the
ground, but its pillars are seen from afar, and its turrets sparkle in the skies.”
The project then is simply this to make the poor, and the classes immediately above the poor, the instruments for supplying their own religious instruction--to distil by drops a sufficient mass to constitute a reservoir for the spiritual wants of the nation. Lest we should be thought to over estimate the efficacy and importance of this new adjunct to the Bible Society, we shall state some of the grounds on which we have formed this judgment.
In the first place, independently of the principle peculiar to these associations, which is that of employing poor subscribers, they add to the extensive circulation of the scriptures by aug. menting the funds employed for that end. The systems of taxation or excise in our own country, are well calculated to give a conception of the congregating power of those schemes in finance, which rely rather upon the number of contributors than the amount of the sum individually contributed. But, indeed, the vast augmentation of the funds of the Bible Society sufficiently attests the powers of their new ally. In Southwark alone, the penny contributions are said to produce some thousands sterling annually. And we observe, that in one country parish, the servants alone contribute, by these means, an annual donation of fifty pounds. To such a fund it is difficult to assign any limits. The collection of the mere superfluities of the rich must soon find insuperable checks, either in the limited number of the contributions, or in the general habit of expence which converts superfluities into necessaries. But where nations concur to give-to give of their substance—to give to all who need -the fund is of course likely to be commensurate to the wants or resources of human nature. There is scarcely any thing which the collected strength or benevolence of a whole people cannot accomplish. Spain has taught us one part of this proposition: and there is more than one instance upon record of pations being saved by popular contributions, where even the collected ear-rings and jewels of the ladies have accomplished more than the energies and capacities of the national exchequer.
But, again, by virtue of their peculiar principle they conduce to the more extensive circulation of the Scriptures; for there may be those among the
who would take a Bible from a poor neighbour sooner than from the rich.
Independently, however, of this tendency to promote the more extensive circulation of the Scriptures, by virtue of the principle peculiar to them they tend to promote the following effects :