תמונות בעמוד

Thus song, the breath of heaven, had power to bind,
In chains of harmony, the mightiest mind;
Thus music's empire in the soul began,
The first born poet ruled the first born man.”

We have mentioned this writer as inclined to melancholy. It is, however, by no means a moody melancholy, but has more of tenderness than gloom. The lines on the burial-place of the patriarchs will illustrate our meaning.

“ A scene sequester'd from the haunts of men,
The loneliest nook of all that lonely glen,
With walks between, by friends and kindred trod,
Who dress'd with duteous hands each hallow'd sod:
No sculptur'd monument was taught to breathe
His praises whom the worm devour'd beneath;
The high, the low, the mighty, and the fair,
Equal in death, were undistinguish'd there;
Yet not a hillock moulder'd near that spot,
By one dishonour'd, or by all forgot;
To some warm heart the poorest dust was dear,
From some kind eye the meanest claim'd a tear;
And oft the living, by affection led,
Were wont to walk in spirit with their dead;
Where no dark cypress cast a doleful gloom,
No blighting yew shed poison o'er the tomb,
But white and red with intermingling flowers,
The graves look'd beautiful in sun and showers,
Green myrtles fenced it, and beyond their bound
Ran the clear rill with ever murmuring sound;
'Twas not a scene for grief to nourish care,
It breathed of hope, and moved the heart to prayer."

We could with pleasure indulge ourselves farther, but our limits confine us, at present, to two more selections. The first is the energetic expression of passion, and furnishes an appropriate example of the distinction first made by Lord Kaimes, between the actual imitation of the passions, and the mere description of them.

-"A reprobate by birth, To heaven rebellious, unallied on earth, VOL. III. Nen Series. 63

Whither, O whither shall the outcast flee?
There is no home, no peace, no hope for me.
I hate the worldling's vanity and noise,
I have no fellow-feeling in his joys;
The saint's serener bliss I cannot share,
My soul, alas, hath no communion there.
This is the portion of my cup below,
Silent, unmingled, solitary wo;
To bear from clime to clime the curse of Cain,
Sin with remorse, yet find repentance vain;
And cling, in blank despair, from breath to breath,
To naught in life, except the fear of death."

The sentiments of the next passage must meet a powerful echo from every voice, were it only from association with existing circumstances.

“ His heart exulting whisper'd' All is mine,
And heard a voice from all things answer

- Thine.'
Such was the matchless chief whose name of yore
Fill'd the wide world-his name is known no more :
oʻthat forever from the rolls of fame
Like his had perish'd every conqueror's name !
Then had mankind been spar'd, in after times,
Their greatest sufferings and their greatest crimes.
The hero scourges not his age alone,
His curse to late posterity is known;
He slays his thousands with his living breath,
His tens of thousands by his fame in death.
Achilles quench'd not all his wrath on Greece,
Through Homer's song its miseries never cease;
Like Phoebus' shafts, the bright contagion brings
Plagues on the people for the feuds of kings.
'Twas not in vain the son of Philip sigh'd
For worlds to conquer-o'er the western tide,
His spirit, in the Spaniard's form, o'erthrew
Realms that the Macedonian never knew.
The steel of Brutus struck not Cæsar dead;
Cæsar in other lands hath rear'd his head,
And fought, of friends and foes, on many a plain,
His millions, captur'd, fugitive, and slain;

Yet seldom suffered, where his country died,
A Roman vengeance for the parricide.”

first man.

Sufficient has now been quoted to enable the reader to judge of the nature and versification of this poem. The passages have been taken nearly at random, and are not superior to many others that offered themselves to our attention; particularly those relating to the battle between these antediluvian warriors--the giant kingthe translation of Enoch-and the death and character of the

To those whose interest may have been excited by this imperfect sketch, we add only, that the work concludes with the expulsion of the giants, and the union of Javan with Zillah.

Of the minor pieces in this volume, they are, with few exceptions, worthy of the author of " The Mole Hill,” and “The Common Lot,” two of the most original poems, for their kind, to be found in the compass of cotemporary literature. The moral poetry of Mr. Montgomery is, indeed, always of the noblest kind. He presents us with no train of truisms-no frigid dissertations on abstract fitness—none of the common-places of ethics: but has the merit of enlivening our attention to trite truths and familiar rules of conduct, by throwing round them the lights of a rich imagination through the softening medium of a feeling heart. In this respect he reminds us of the writings of Chateaubriand, making due allowance for the superiority of the latter in that onction which is an advantage the French language possesses over our


Notwithstanding the satisfaction we have derived from the examination of this production, we shall not be surprised if it should not attain immediate or general popularity. The diction may not always, perhaps, be found sufficiently dignified; and the writer may have been led into this error by a laudable desire, pushed to an extreme, of imitating the simplicity of the sacred writings. This, however, is not frequent; and there are abundantly more instances where vigour of thought has been accompanied with correspondent force of expression. From the evils incidental to the nature of the subject, the author has more to apprehend; but these he shares only in common with all his predecessors who drew their materials from the scriptures, Milton and Klopstock

not excepted. The golden compasses with which the Creator is described by the former as measuring the universe, excited the surprise of Gibbon,* who calls it“ puerile in him, though such an image had been truly sublime in Homer. Our philosophical ideas of the deity are injurious to the poet. The same attributes de base our divinity which would have extolled the Jupiter of the Greeks. The sublime genius of Milton was cramped by the sys tem of our religion, and never appeared to so great an advantage as when he shook it a little off; while, on the contrary, Propertius, a cold and insipid declaimer, owes all his reputation to the agreeable pictures of his mythology.” This critic may, indeed, justly be considered as no unprejudiced witness, since his infidelity may have influenced his taste; but similar opinions are entertained by many whose intellectual integrity is liable to no suspicion. But, waiving all discussion of a topic which would be sufficient of itself to fill an article far less circumscribed than the present, another cause of fear for the success of this poem is in its length. It has been observed with some plausibility that the age of epics has past-a remark equally applicable to all long poems, whatever be their nature, in an age when literary merchandise is judged by the weight, and the value of a book is inversely as its matter. Former critics would deny the claim of a rhymer to the title of poet, because he had not written enough.t At present, a similar conclusion is drawn from premises precisely the reverse, and a man shall cease to be applauded as a poet if he have written too much. Alas for the mutability of human tastes! On the other hand, a writer may derive consolation from these fluctuations, since they afford ground for probable calculation, that if the age of epics have gone by, it has not gone forever; the very existence of opposite opinions in ourselves, is an argument in favour of the revival of other ones in the generation that succeeds usreflection as well calculated to moderate the exultation of the popular, as to diminish the despondence of the unsuccessful. After an age of bigots, said Ganganelli, comes an age of freethinkers; and so long as the world we inhabit is proverbially a

Essai sur les Belles Lettres.

+ Cumberland, &c. on Gray.

changing world, the historian of the human mind may trace alike on all subjects continual alternation.

We cannot better conclude this article than with the lines on the power of poetry, in which Mr. Montgomery has so well asserted the dignity of his art.

“ There is a living spirit in the lyre,
A breath of music, and a soul of fire;
It speaks a language to the world unknown,
It speaks that language to the bard alone;
While warbled symphonies entrance his ears,
That spirit's voice in every tone he hears;
'Tis his the mystic meaning to rehearse,
To utter oracles in glowing verse,
Heroic themes from age to age prolong,
And make the dead in nature live in song.
Though graven rocks the warrior's deeds proclaim,
And mountains hewn to statues wear his name;
Though shrined in adamant his relics lie
Beneath a pyramid that scales the sky;
All that the eye admires shall pass away;
All that the hand hath fashion'd shall decay ;
The mouldering rocks the hero's hope shall fail,
Earthquakes shall heave the mountains to the vale,
The shrine of adamant betray its trust,
And the proud pyramid resolve to dust;
The lyre alone immortal fame secures,
For song alone through nature's change endures;
Transfused like life, from breast to breast it glows,
From sire to son by sure succession flows;
Speeds its unceasing flight from clime to clime,
Outstripping death upon the wings of time.”

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