תמונות בעמוד

upon which the former disappear, and the latter are precipitated to the earth.

As, then, all the objections which can be brought against the hypothesis, that these stones are formed in the atmosphere, are negative, and, of course, not insuperable, while all the other conjectures which I have seen on the subject are demonstrably false, we must, I think, admit that they are so formed, although we are entirely ignorant of the manner in which this is effected.



The World before the Flood, a Poem in ten Cantos ; with other

occasional Pieces. By James Montgomery.

MR. MONTGOMERY appears before the pablic with many claims on our interest and sympathy. A tendency to melancholy, predominant in his writings, and, perhaps, the original characteristic of his genius, has been deepened and rendered permanent by the sufferings of his life. In common with his great predecessor in sacred epic, the illustrious Milton, his ingenuous discussion of political and religious subjects, has exposed him to rigorous persecution; and much is it to be deplored that two individuals of the purest morals, the most exalted piety, and the most disinterested patriotism, should thus have

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With these impressions we can never open a volume from this writer with indifference, and if these may be supposed to interfere with our singleness of judgment, we must admit the fact. Our respect for the man certainly mingles with our estimation of the author, and we class this among those wholesome prejudices

which none but stoics in criticism would disallow. We are far from approving that parade of ideal misery and elegant distress, with which some writers appear before the public. This may be considered a sort of stage effect, and like that, has seldom any power in the pathetic. The imagination only is addressed, and it is the imagination only that answers. The heart preserves a becoming silence. The querulous fastidiousness of Gray, and the caustic misanthropy of Lord Byron, may not always command our sympathy ; but the loss of health, and friends, and liberty, are among those awful, actual evils, at which the sternest shudder, and the most obdurate relent.

The reader of a poem, like the one now under consideration, owes it both to himself and his author, to bring to its perusal suitable and distinct ideas of the kind of excellence he expects. Simple and natural as is this requisition, we fear a compliance with it is by no means universal. How many rash judgments might this mental preparation have averted? How much of the unpopularity of certain productions at particular periods, may be traced to a disregard of this rule? Some of the warmest admirers of “the Pleasures of Hope” have been offended with the “ Gertrude” for not answering the expectations which the very title might have informed them could not be gratified without every sacrifice of truth and nature. Instead of considering the work as a new and beautiful proof of its writer's versatility of talent, they have summarily professed themselves disappointed! In like manner, those who paid willing homage to the regular beauties of Southey’s “ Madoc,” have been frightened from their allegiance by the erratic wonders of “ Thalaba” and the “ Curse of Kehama.” We reiterate, therefore, our former injunction—that no reader should content himself with a vague indefinite expectation of excellence he knows not how or what, but rather endeavour to form accurate anticipations of the species of entertainment which is suited to the nature of the subject proposed. As this particular species, when ascertained, shall be more or less agreeable to his previous tastes, he can persevere or not, at his pleasure; but at any rate, bis candour will not cast all the blame on the writer, which is equally to be shared with the reader. This duty, a paramount one to all authors, ought more especially to be observed towards such as write on themes not analogous to the popular literature of the day. Whoever should come with a fancy stored only from the romances of the Troubadours, or a memory filled from the more recent minstreisy of Mr. Scott, with visions of barons and squires, and camps and tournaments, and the long et cætera of chivalric garniture, will find nothing of all this in the present production.

If such, and so exclusive be his ideas, we would recommend a total abstinence; as his sensations would else resemble, probably, those of a poor Neapolitan, who with all his poetical notions associated with the ballads of his native improvisatori, should be sentenced, by way of penance, to compass the pages of “Paradise Lost."

There are those, however, who entertain more liberal conceptions respecting the nature and extent of the empire of poetry; and such we may invite to the perusal of this poem. Its scene is principally laid at an imaginary spot eastward of Eden, inhabited hy the younger and more virtuous descendants of Adam; and the time chosen for its commencement is the period when their elder brethren, the giant posterity of Cain, are about invading this little tract, which is represented as the only remaining residence of faith and freedom, even in those early times. The detail of this invasion forms the subject of the poem, intermixed with episodes, describing the race of giants, the characters of their monarch and his wizard instructor, the several events of scripture history anterior to that time, and those future dispensations which formei! the vision of inspired prophecy. To give a particular interest to these events, an individual is introduced, who becomes the principal object of our sympathy and solicitude, during the whole action. Javan, a lover and a minstrel, ambitious of renown, becomes a fugitive from the place, and an apostate from the religion of his ancestors.

.“ He fled, and sojourn'd in the land of Cain.
There, when he heard the voice of Jubal's lyre,
Instinctive genius caught the etherial fire;
And soon, with sweetly modulating skill,
He learn'd to wind the passions at his will;
To rule the chords with such mysterious art,
They seemed the life-strings of the hearer's heart!
Then glory's opening field he proudly trod,
Forsook the worship and the ways of God;

Round the vain world pursued the phantom Fame,
And cast away his birth-right for a name.

-Yet no delight the minstrel's bosom knew,
None save the tones that from his harp he drew,
And the warm visions of a wayward mind,
Whose transient splendour left a gloom behind,
Frail as the clouds of sunset, and as fair,
Pageants of light resolving into air.

The fame he follow'd and the fame he found,
Ileal'd not his heart's immedicable wound;
Admir'd, applauded, crown'd, where'er he roved,
The bard was homeless, friendless, unbeloved;
All else that breath'd below the circling sky
Were link'd to life by some endearing tie;
He only, like the ocean weed uptorn,
And loose along the world of waters borne,
Was cast companionless from wave to wave
On life’s rough sea

-and there was none to save."

After an absence of ten years, recoiling at the thought of assisting the arms of the giants against the land of his nativity, he yields to the impulses of remorse and affection, and returns to Eden. He obtains an interview with Zillah, who was the object of his early passion; and his reception by her venerable father, the prophet Enoch, is not less affecting, from its recalling to our minds the beautiful apologue of the repentant prodigal. We are too sensible how much the effect of scenes of emotion depends on their being taken in connexion with the rest of the piece, to mar it by quotation.

Perhaps we are singular—but the following simple couplets have, to us, something far more touching than is contained in many recent elaborate descriptions of female loveliness. refers to the loneliness of the father of mankind, until the Almighty, who “willid not man to dwell alone,”

The poet

“ Created woman with a smile of grace,
And left the smile that made her on her face.
The patriarch's eyelids opend on his bride,
The morn of beauty risen from his side !"

And again, when Javan is contemplating Zillah, after his long exile

“ Time had but touched her form to finer grace,
Years had but shed their favours on her face,
While secret love, and unregarded truth,
Like cold clear dew upon the rose of youth,
Gave to the springing flower a chasten'd bloom,
And shut from rifling winds its coy perfume."

The ensuing extract displays Mr. M.'s descriptive talents on a different subject—that of Cain under the malediction:

“ Grim before him lay
Crouch'd like a lion watching for his prey,
With blood-red eye of fascinating fire
Fix'd, like the gazing serpent, on the lyre,
An awful form that through the gloom appear'd,
Half brute, half human; whose terrific beard
And hoary flakes of long dishevell'd hair,
Like eagle's plumage, ruffled by the air,
Veild a sad wreck of grandeur and of grace,
Limbs torn and wounded, a majestic face,
Deep plough'd by time, and ghastly pale, with woes
That goaded till remorse to madness rose:
Haunted by phantoms, he had fled his home,
With savage beasts in solitude tu roam;
Wild as the waves, and wandering as the wind,
No art could tame him, and no chains could bind :
Already seven disastrous years had shed
Mildew and blast on his unshelter'd head;
His brain was smitten by the sun at noon,
His heart was wither'd by the cold night-moon."

He is introduced to elicit the musical powers of Javan, by whose melody he is gradually soothed into peace.

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