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him) that men are not sufficiently solicitous to do justice, • either in their letters, or general behaviour, to the importance of the female character. The latter part of the sentence is not so much in our style of thought. He is of opinion that
it would become them more to adopt, what the poet says was • the gallant and elevated sentiment of the Aboriginal Briton,
“ Deemed some effluence of th' omniscient mind
“ In woman's beauteous image lay inshrined.” We shall content ourselves with illustrating the first part of this sentiment, by the following extracts from the work.
• That such reading as I have last spoken of (history) affords useful instruction, may be alleged; as it may that it is pleasant to be instructed. but after all, the feelings of ordinary readers talk a different language ; and common consent cries out in favour of somewhat less wise, and more entertaining. The mind which demands amusement, gives a warmer welcome to the gossiping, and (if it must be so,) the unprofitable and unphilosophical page of the antiquarian enthusiast, and the homely biographer; to the black-letter ballad, and the domestic anecdote;
to the light effusion of the essayist, or the volume of poetry, which, without enlarging our knowledge, appeals to, and perhaps improves, the best sensibilities of our hearts, than it ever does to the most sublime dissertations of Smith or Gibbon; or any name equally celebrated!! pp. 150–1.
• It might appear too bold a declaration, were I to assert that such extracts as the preceding (from-Milton and Thomson) or extracts of any kind, or the works from which they are taken, would tend to heal a broken heart, or to correct a bad one; neither is it probable that the victim of affliction, remorse, or bodily pain, would, in such effusions, find enough to attract his attention, &c. p. 127.
• None but the initiated can conceive how many and how great are the pleasures which books afford ; and this will appear more strikingly true, if we advert to the numerous points of view in which a volume may be considered, independently of its specific character; and solely as the form in which the workings of the human mind are enveloped; the means whereby the thoughts of one intellectual being are transmitted to another.' p. 129.
Books should be considered as companions,—whether for example, the writings of STERNE will bear the test. They are, perhaps, as generally known, as frequently reprinted in different forms, and as constantly read among us (US?] as those of any modern English author.
The Rev. Mr. Mangin having confessed that ' in his allusions to sacred subjects, it is not saying too much to aver that he (Sterne) now and then approaches the confines of blasphemy; and besides, not only never misses, but incessantly creates opportunities for the introduction of gross ideas; '--proceeds to state to his fair correspondent, that
there is hardly a book in the English language more strictly applicable to the present design than Sterne's Sentimental Journey, of which I shall therefore take a larger view than I can allow myself of some other works! The popularity of the • Journey' has been rather increased than diminished by time.' p. 92.
It is hardly worth while to notice, en pasant, that this is notoriously untrue. We must make room for two more extracts, which will connect themselves with the preceding.
A taste for books, I have formerly observed, is probably conducive to a more important end than that of rendering our mortal condition tolerable. I have ventured to surmise that the love of books, properly directed, operates as a preparative for that mighty change we shall undergo, when we have done
“ With this our day of proof, our land of hope,” and are called upon to pass into regions of IMMORTALITY.'
pp. 257-9. • Although we cannot form any conjecture as to the kind of happiness we are to expect in our eternal state'--p. 266. Enough, enough. ‘Letters to a Lady, by the Rev. E. Mangin, A.M.!! The subject becomes too grave for ridicule. Whatever may be the character of the writing from which they originate,' says this gentleman, “the reflexions accompanying the perusal of a book, are the sources of our literary pleasures.' The reflexions suggested by the perusal of this book, certainly constitute its only recommendation, but these are the source of any thing but pleasure.
Art. X. Carmen Triumphale, for the commencement of the year
1814. By Robert Southey, Esq. Poet Laureat. 4to. pp. 32. Price
3s. 6d. Longman and Co. London, 1814. IF it be necessary, for the glory of the British Court, to
have a Poet Laureat, we presume it is equally so, that he should be a man of genius, and that the emoluments of the office should be worthy of the munificence of the Sovereign. We recollect no living bard, who has more ability to confer honour on the bays, or less occasion to seek honour from princes, than Mr. Southey. But, we think some objections lie against the place itself, considered in its present degraded state, as being beneath the dignity of the court to offer to a man of transcendent intellect, -not to say whether it be not beneath the dignity of such a man to accept it. From the manner in which its duties have hitherto been performed, the office can confer on him who holds it but a small portion of credit, inferior even to its scanty emolument.
To furnish * laudatory odes, at certain seasons, appears to be a servile duty; yet surely the annals of this country, in an age so fruitful of great events as the present, might, twice a-year, supply themes, on which the noblest talents might be happily employed in the small compass of an ode. A bundred pounds and a butt of sack, were, we confess, monstrous overpayment for such annual strains of stupefying praise as Cibber, Whitehead, and Pye, were wont to pour into the ear of royalty, being after the rate of twenty shillings a line for pigmy lyrics. Brevity, indeed, was their principal merit; a merit of no ordinary size in dull poetry, which, like a humming-top, spins the longest when it sleeps; for, when the quality of poetry is indifferent, the quantity cannot be too small. Mr. Southey's booksellers might not perhaps venture to purchase the copyright of his best verses at the royal price ; yet, considered as being the bounty of a great monarch, which ought to reflect lustre on himself, and for such services as might be rendered by a poet of high, order, the remuneration is mean. In the reign of James I. a hundred pounds a year were adequate to the support of one of his Majesty's servants in ease and affluence, according to the style of those days; and a butt of sack, even in the present day, is quite as much wine, as any poet, accustomed to purer and more delightfully exhilarating draughtsfrom Helicon, could well drink, yet probably far too little for “rare Ben Jonson,” to whom this inspiring perquisite was first awarded. To continue the same stipend, from generation to generation, while the modes and expences of living are progressively changing and increasing, is to sink the office lower and lower in poverty, and consequently into disrepute, the inevitable attendant on splendid poverty. On a recent occasion, the Court has done only half a good deed,—it has conferred the laurel on a man unquestionably worthy to wear it; but to have done the whole, and to have done it well, it ought to have made the emolument equivalent to a hundred pounds in the days of Old Ben; and also, to have given the poet a carte blanche, to be filled up in respect both to time and subject, according to his own judgement. That no degrading conditions have been imposed on Mr. Southey, we have the evidence of his first Ode now before us, in which there is not a line of flattery to the great personage who at present exercises the sovereign authority, and to whom an expression of gratitude for the appointment, could neither have been unseasonable nor reprehensible. The poem is wholly national; and Mr. Southey has conferred, both on his Royal Patron and on himself, the highest honour, by coming out as the Poet Laureát of the British Isles rather than of Carlton House.
But ouglit a man of integrity and independence of mind to accept such a post? Upon this point we do not think ourselves competent to say any thing decisive. Yet there does not appear, at least, to us, any sufficient reason that should influence a highly gifted and truly honest man to reject it, if proffered to him. The discussion of this question, may, however, well be suspended, till there be another vacancy ;-a Vacancy which, we sincerely hope, will not take place in our day. A man, of whose integrity and independence of mind we have always entertained an exalted opinion, notwithstanding some change in the tone of his politics, has accepted the post, and long may he live to celebrate the glories of his country, once,' and britt once more in war, and ever after in peace and prosperity. Since the time of Dryden, the Court has not bestowed the bays on any poet obimparable to Mr. Southey. Warton alone deserved the name; and yet we have never felt that he was a poet of Nature's making, but such an oně as any man of mind and study can make of himself by patient brooding within the walls of a college. A king is always a king, a poet always a poet. The actor who assumes the dignity of a monarch, however excellently he may sustain it, is a monarch only while he is performing the part: as soon as that is finished, he returns into himself, or transmigrates into another character. But he who inherits a throne is, at all times, and under all circumstances, like poor mad Lear, “ every inch a king." He, too, who is born a poet, is a poet in all things, in prose as well as in verse, in his greatest failures as well as in his most glorious performances. In every production of his mind there is the peculiar form of thought, habit of feeling, and tone of expression, which belong to him exclusively, and distinguish him unequivocally from the man who merely loves poetry, and practises it as an art --who is a poet only when he acts' a poet's part. Mr. Southey is eminently a poet; in the first sense of the term as we have · Used it: Mr. Warton was one in the second sense. In his History of English Poetry, Warton is thoroughly the critic and the antiquary; he understands, admires, and loves his subject; but if he had never written a line of metre, we doubt whether he would have written a line of those three heavy quartos otherwise than as it is written: Southey, who busies himself with literature in every shape, whether he writes history, biography, criticism, romance, or “ Omniana," inevitably VOL. XI.
shews himself to be a poet ; for though he may occasionally be prosaic in his poetry, he is always poetical in his prose ; we do not mean ostentatiously, or even meritoriously so, but that he treats all these subjects as no one but a poet would treat them. We therefore augur well of the laureatship during bis reign ; for though his periodical lyrics should be deemed tame in comparison with the choice themes of his heart, into which he has breathed his whole soul, they will still be of a character far superior to the feeble, cold, and insipid effusions of ordinary laureats, and possess more natural interest than the gorgeous pageants exhibited by Warton's Gothic Muse.
It was a perilous experiment to take so long a first flight as the new Laureat has done in his Carmen Triumphale. We remember no precedent, except the late Mr. Pye's Carmen Seculare, on the commencement of the present century, of which we now recollect nothing but the first two lines, and that there were several hundreds equally energetic and sublime.
“ Incessant down the stream of Time,
“ And days, and years, and ages roll.” In his attempt to give a poetical bird's eye view of the prógress of “ the deliverance of Europe," from the time that Spain, aided by Britain, unexpectedly made a stand against the usurpation of Bonaparte, and turned the tide of fortune against him, from the straits of Gibraltar to the shores of the Baltic, Mr. Southey has succeeded as well as poetical talent could be expected to succeed. A good political poem, we think, does not exist.
Even in Lucan's Pharsalia, (which, however, is rather an historical romance,) the patriotism overpowers the poetry: and what can be made of a chronicle in verse of modern warfare, of which the scene alternately lies in Spain, Germany, Holland, and Russia, and remains in neither long enough to make the reader feel at home in it? The sentiments, personages, and events, the hopes and fears, speculations and realities, contemplated or described in this multifarious composition, are so immediately connected with politics,—the politics of to-day, or rather the politics of yesterday, for to-day every interest in the war centres in the heart of France itself, --that all the fine “ideal,” the quickening, invisible, undefinable spirit of poetry, is lost, or so mingled with grosser matter, as to be rarely felt, and perceived with difficulty, amidst the tumult of ordinary sensations excited by the public details of these events;—from which details we have received our first and strongest impressions of them. We do not intend the whole weight of our objections to bear against Mr. Seuthey. We entertain an opinion of his Song of Victory far