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ON THE SONNETS OF THE REV. WM.
917 On the Sonnets of the Rev. Wm. Lisle Bowles. 918 is caused; and yet it is asserted that the unaffected effusions of an amiable both are eternal? i. e. that one does and classical mind. They do not aim and does not exist before the other, at loftiness of thought, nor at that highwhich is a contradiction.
wrought versification which is so conThe gentleman, whose reasonings | spicuous in the present day, but they gave birth to the observations contain- are the sweetest that ever were writed in these pages, is represented as ten. They indicate a heart susceptible an eminent mathematician: he is of the tenderest impressions; they distherefore perfectly familiar with this play the workings of pare sympathy, axiom,—" Things equal to one and and that pensiveness of thought which the same are equal to one another." pervades the whole, and renders them Let eternity be the thing given. Now a source of the truest pleasure. They if causes, i. e. the things which cause, were his first compositions, and this are equal in their duration to eternity, will in some way account for the mei.e. are eternal,--and effects, i. e. lancholy feeling with which they are things caused, are equal in their dura- imbued. It is something peculiar to tion to eternity, i. e. are eternal :--the a youthful and tender heart to contemthings which are caused must be equal plate the world before it as a scene of in their duration, i.e. must have an trouble, and ever to have an idea of existence parallel with the things approaching trial. The imagination which cause,--which is impossible. It is then warm, the passions are in their follows, that causes and effects cannot spring, and the best sympathies of huboth be eternal,-it follows, that the man nature have not been warped by chain of causes and effects is not eter- the cares and anxieties of the world. ernal,-it follows, that there must be a It sees the many too often sacrificed to First Cause.
the few; it reads that even men of genius have perished through poverty and neglect; and it is ever ready to conclude, that although even some of
the worthless may gather the lilies and MR. EDITOR.
roses, yet the briars and brambles in SIR,– It may seem an aseless occupa- the path of life are all that remain for tion to make any remarks upon those it. Much of this is doubtless imagiwritings which have obtained an emi- native, but it has been felt by almost nent station in the literature ofourcoun- every youthful poet. try; their merits have been discussed, Many of Mr. Bowles's sonnets seem and there is in the general butonc opini- to have been produced by such sensaon as it regards them. Yet it not unfre- tions: there is, however, a wide differquently happens, that while the best ence between those feelings which and more elaborate productions of a arise from tender reflections upon huwriter may be fully known and appre- manity, and the cold gloom of misanciated, a few pieces are in some de- thropy. The one casts a calm and gree overlooked, from their forming steady light around it; the other is but a small portion of his labours. Mr. the irresistible stroke of lightning. Bowles has written much, his writings The one, if it sometimes deepens the have gone forth into the world, and colours in the picture of life, discloses they cannot now be either lowered by to us scenes of inimitable beauty; the criticism, or exalted by panegyric. other represents all as the desolating There is one part, however, and it is blast of the hot simoom. The one tells but a small part of his works, which al- us of the world as it is; the other as it though on its first publication it receiv- is not. There is surely nothing cened no small share of the commendation surable in this sadness, arising from it merited, is not now perhaps so ge- such views of life; for how often has nerally known. I mean his Sonnets. the hand of genius been raised in vain, They were the first I ever read, and while the voice of ignorance bas prenever shall I forget the impression vailed; and bow many a youth deservthey made; they seem to me more as ing of the good opinion of mankind, the recollections of days that are past, has been suffered to remain almost and in each do I discover one of the unnoticed, while the wicked heart and friends of my early years.
the vacant mind has succeeded. BeMr. Bowles's sonnets are written in sides, the evils which exist in the the purely sentimental style, they are world furnish sufficient materials for
919 On the Sonnets of the Rev. Wm. Lisle Bowles.
920 the contemplative mind, and it there- To think that time so soon each sweet devours ;
To think so soon life's first endearments fail, fore cannot be strange that so much of
And we are still misled by bope's smooth tale, our best poetry has this train of pen- Who, like a flatterer, when the bappiest hours siveness throughout. In some of the
Are past, and most we wish her cheering lay,
Will fy as faithless and as fleet as they. sonnets before us, however, there is a tinge of the happiest feelings blended Every one must see the beauty of with this; and they appear to bave these lines, and have at some season been penned in moments when the experienced the feelings they convey. heart could fondly dwell on the days There is a melancholy pleasure in rethat were past, although it well knew visiting those scenes where we have they were never to return.
been happy-perhaps too happy-and The path of no one is ever so barren of dwelling on the recollection of those a desart, but that there is at least we loved, when they are gone, never, some floweret to gladden him on his never to return. The paths we once way, if it be but a wild one; and there traced bring them more vividly to our is scarcely any man who would sacri- imagination, and place before us all fice the remembrance of some endear- that sweet, but short-lived friendship, ing scene, could it buy bim forgetful- all those thousand acts of kindness ness for every moment of misery he which the heart ever remembers, and has endured. How many fond asso. would not willingly forget. Such asciations, how many tender recollec-sociations give us to feel, that although tions, how many sweet resting-places time may steal from us objects upon in his journey through life, cannot the which we had hung our hopes, and rob most destitute look back upon, and us of many a tender endearment, that feel that the evil has not always over-there is at least something of peace to balanced the good. If Mr. Bowles bas be gathered even from our sorrows. not in these beautiful specimens given I will instance another sonnet from us any of the elevation of Milton, or Mr. Bowles, in a different strain, and the strength of Wordsworth, he has upon a subject that has not often been touched upon those tender strings so sweetly treated.which vibrate in every bosom, and struck the general chord of humanity. o Poverty! though from thine haggard eye, He has awakened those feelings which Thy sbeerless mien, of every charm bereft, are common to every heart, and while Thy brow, that Hope's last traces long have other writings are prais'd for their lof-Vain fortune's feeble sons with terror fly; ty conceptions, these will be loved, | For Pity, reckless of her own distress, and cherished, and wept over.
And Patience, in the pall of wretchedness, It would be unnecessary here to
That turns to ibo bleak storm ber faded cheek,
And Piety, that never told her wrong, make any remarks on the proper struo- And meek Content, whose griefs no more rebel, ture of the sonnet, or of its fitness for And Genius, warbling sweet ber saddest song,
And Sorrow, listening to a lost friend's knell, the English language. Mr. Words- Long banish'a froin the world's insulting throng, worth has completely triumphed over With thee and thy unfriended offspring dwell. the difficulty usually attached to the legitimate sonnet, of which he has gi- That this is an universal picture, we ven many specimens: we must recol- are not required to believe, but there lect, however, that it is with him in the are instances in which it will apply with hand of a master. It appears to be all its force. It is the province of popeculiarly adapted for the develop- etry to exaggerate, and not merely to ment of melancholy feeling, and by its describe things as they are, but as the restriction to fourteen lines, to be well heart in its happiest moments would suited for the expression of a single have them to be. Mr. Bowles always idea. But it is time to give an extract casts a beautiful halo around scenes from Mr. Bowles, and the following the most trying in themselves, and, by will perhaps shew how far these re- a divine alchemy, renders them a marks are correct.
source of the tenderest thoughts. His
sonnets are not composed of thoughts As o'er these bills I take my silent rounds, that breathe, and words that burn," Still on that vision which is flown I dwell; On images I lov'd-alas, how well!
but they are the poetry of the heart, Now past, and but remember'd like sweet sounds and such as will ever find admittance of yesterday.-Yet in my breast I keep Such recollections, painful though they seem,
to the susceptible mind.
There is And hours of joy retrace; 'till from my dream much beauty and delicacy of feeling I wake, and find them not; then I could weep in the following:
921 On the Sonnets of the Rev Wm. Lisle Bowles. 922 O Time, who know'st a lenient hand to lay Enough has already been quoted to Suftest on sorrow's wound, and slowly thence shew that Mr. Bowles possesses pow(Lulling to sad repose the weary sense) The faint pang stealest unperceiv'd away, ers of no ordinary kind in that pecuOn thee I rest, my only hope at last,
liar province of poetry which appeals And think, wbes thou hast dried the bitter tear That flows in vain o'er all my soul held dear,
to the best feelings of the heart. I I may look back on every sorrow past,
cannot however forbear giving the folAnd ineet life's peaceful evening with a smile : As some lone bird at day's departing hour,
lowing eminently beautiful sonnet. Sings in the snn-beam of the transient shower, Forgetful though his wings be wet the while. If chance some pensive stranger, bither led, But ob! bow much must that poor heart endure, (Itis bosom glowing with majestic viewe, Which hopes from thee, and thee alone, a cure. The gorgeons dome, or the proud landscape
hues,) Mr. Bowles is the poet of nature, and
Should ask who sleeps beneath this lonely bed,
'Tis poor Matilda.--To the cloister'd scene, he has lately been engaged in a con- A mourner beauteous and unknown she came troversy with Lord Byron, as to which To shed her tears unmark’d, and quench the
flame poetry is the most indebted-nature or
Of fruitless love: yet was her look serene art. It is unnecessary to say any As the pale moonlight in the midnight isle; thing here upon this subject. Mr.
Her voice was soft, which yet a cbarm could
lend Bowles has pointed out many of his like that which spoke of a departed friend ; Lordsbip's inconsistencies, and shewn And a meek sadness sat upon her smile ; himself well able to support an argu- Her woes are buried, and her heart is still.
Far, far remov'd from every earthly ill, ment. His idea of the true poet is that “ he should have an eye attentive to, Surely every heart must acknowand familiar with, every change of sea- ledge the beauty of these lines ; they son, every variation of light and shade, place before us the tenderest of all of nature, every rock, every tree, and passions ; they tell us the tale of one every leaf in her secret places;" and who loved, and was deceived; they fix he says that “he who has not an eye the imagination on the ceaseless tear, to observe these, must be so far defi- the enduring sigh, the broken heart. cient in one of the essential qualities There is something inexpressibly sweet of a poet." Whether so close an ob- in those words, “ her heart is still;" servance of nature's variety be requi- they tell us that every moment of pain, site to the formation of a poet, may per- every hour of mourning, is past, and haps be doubted, Lut assuredly there is that a country far other than an earthmuch truth in the remark. As to the still ly one is the reward, a land whence inanimate face of nature, no one is ex- there shall be no more sorrow, neither pected to consider it merely as such. any more sighing where the wicked Natural objects become fit subjects for cease from troubling, and where the poetry only in proportion as they can weary are at rest. create ideas in the mind of the behold- Such are Mr. Bowles's sonnets ;er; for we are not supposed to look pourtraying feelings the most simple upon every scene in the endless diver- | in themselves, yet such as are so inwosity around us, with the “brute un- ven with the human heart, that they conscious gaze.” A flower or a blade can never be forgotten. The commonof grass is, to the contemplative man, est feelings after all are the holiest, a sufficient subject whereby he may when they are rightly understood; and become wiser and better, and, in the the true poet who treads in this path hands of a genuine poet, will affect us | is sure of success. We are ever well more than a thousand splendid de- pleased to hear of those sacred reposcriptions of artificial life. Lord By- sitories of feeling which are a part of ron, in his strictures upon Mr. Bowles, ourselves and of every one: we know says that he regards this as the declin- that what affects us will affect others; ing age of poetry. I know not how and that he who calls forth vibrations this can be inade out; but possibly it from our hearts, is touching those may be so, if morálity be referred to strings which belong to the whole family as the test. If this be the point in of man. Although Mr. Bowles has which it is declining, to whom are we written works of more acknowledged to look as the chief author of it? per- merit, and on far higher subjects, yet haps his Lordship may not be altoge- the same delicacy of feeling pervades ther ayare of the fact, but I fear we them which is observable in his small have little else to do than to address collection of sonnets. May he who him in the language of one of old, and has deserved so well of mankind ever say-_" Thou art the man."
be had in remembrance ! and when at No. 32.-VOL. III.
Vindication of Wordsworth's Poetry.
at last the shadows of mortality close that they command my admiration, and around him, may all those happy feel- with them on your pages, I can cheerings he has so sweetly delineated be fully submit to your readers the queshis companions, and, in his own words, tion--Whether the mind of Mr.Wordsfit him
worth“ always like the swallow sweeps "To meet life's peaceful evening with a smile." the ground,” or if it does not at times
In this imperfect sketch I have soar with the eagle to the blissful avoided all the usual flippancies of cri- abodes of heaven? ticism; upon such subjects they are
I do not however mean to assert ever misplaced. I have spoken of that even Wordsworth has no faults. him, not as one who wishes to find fault, The charge of puerility comes too justbut as a disciple. To say that his com ly to be denied as to some of his pieces: positions are faultless, is not intended; yet has he thrown around his “ childish but to answer such a question would things” a sweetly interesting charm, only be again recurring to that flat and which no hand but that of a master stale truism, that everlasting echo of could have done. And if it were not an echo, namely, that the best works so, I ask, where is the husband or the of man are imperfect.
wife, who feel their happiness depen
G. M. dent on their mutual fidelity and love, Bridge-street, Derby.
—where the parent, anxious for the morals of his rising charge,—who would
not prefer even the puerilities of WordsOF WORDSWORTH's worth to the obscenities of Byron?
This thought, Sir, brings me to that
which I intended to make the chief MR. Epitor.
subject of my paper. We will now The observations of your correspon- concede to Aristarchus that his *Lorddent G. M. “ on the genius and wri- ship possesses great and commanding tings of Wordsworth,” accord with powers of poetry, that he writes in my own opinion of his merit. I was the true spirit of a favourite with the therefore glad to see them in your va- muses; yet, Sir, I cannot congratulate luable Magazine. The remarks also him on the possession of abilities, for on Lord Byron's poetry were, I think, the use or abuse of which he must renjust; the censures merited: but Aristar- der an account to his Maker! Neither chus, in your last No. (col. 810,) comes can I congratulate the land which gave forward with a “ Vindication of Lord him birth. Here are fine powers of Byron's poetry,"in which he“traverses mind devoted—not to the developout of the record,” and takes some ment and application of those principains to depreciate the writings of Mr. ples of religion which are adapted to Wordsworth.
alleviate the sorrows of the mind, amid With respect to this poet, I will the wants and miseries to which we venture to say, that the sweeping na- are subject--nor to the suggestion of ture of the censures of Aristarchus will those considerations which increase destroy the whole of the effect intended the well-being of man in a state of soby them. Will any of your readers, Mr. ciety-nor to those which tend to keep Editor, believe that there are nothing under proper regulation the passions but puerilities, in works which many of the soul. No! to exhibit peace of our first critics allow to abound in above the man, to produce peace
withbeauties? No, Sir, not though Aris- in him, and promote peace around tarchus should again assert it. him, is not the object of Lord Byron.
I cannot bring myself to believe that But here are fine powers of mind devoAristarchus has read the poems ofted to the service of licentious princiWordsworth for himself, or that he has ples, and to the increase of correspondbrought to the study of them all that im. ing conduct; and to loose the bonds partiality and candour which should es which bind man to man in a state of socipeciallydistinguish criticismson cotem al amity; and to make him to trifle with porary authors. Has he even attend all that is holy and divine; to repreed to the beautiful extracts from “ the sent him as awretch:--but as if dissaExcursion,” quoted by G. M. and the tisfied with the measure of his wretchsonnet on the field of Waterloo? Iedness, or fearful that his portrait and know not what Aristarchus may think of these, but I am not ashamed to say
Sed virtus est vera nobilitas,
On Natural and Acquired Abilities.
the original should not correspond
Yield to such afterthought the sole reply to inflame his mind with those guilty in this deep knell-silent for threescore years,
Which justly It can claim. The nation hears passions, which are best adapted to An unexampled voice of awful memory. make him one-this is the object of
I am, Sir, Lord Byron!
Your obedient servant, Now, Sir, if this be correct, I will
G, J., assert, that however splendid the pow
Christ-Charch, Surrey, ers of Lord Byron's poetry may be,
Sept. 10, 1821. yet having an immoral tendency, they deserve not the approbation of the wise On Natural and Acquired Abilities. and the good. Is a dose of poison less dreadful because presented in a
THE EDITOR OF THE IMPERIAL cup of gold, or accompanied with
MAGAZINE, sweetmeats ? do the beautiful SIR,—The query,
“Which are the most colours of the serpent render its bite valuable, natural or acquired abililess fatal? To him, therefore, who ties?" having elicited “Observations would not have his mind and con- from Iven,”(col. 846,) not exactly conscience defiled--to him who in a word sonant with my sentiments, I beg leave would not be a worse man, or a worse to offer a few remarks on the subject, acquaintance-I recommend an old conscious that your impartiality will precept
allow them insertion. It is not my in" Touch not, taste not, handle not.” tention here to blame or confute Iven's A word or two, Sir, on the sale of candid reply, but merely, by adducing Lord Byron's poems, and I have done. my own opinion of the matter, to give I need not “ask *Mr. Murray, his your learned readers an opportunity of Lordship’s bookseller," on this sub- deciding, with more immediate facility, ject. I have little doubt that they are whether of the two deserves the laurel. extensively read, and have corre- -Palmam qui meruit, ferat. sponding influence; but that they are For the subsequent reasons, I am read by those whose approbation only induced to prefer acquired abilities. is worth having, I deny. The moral 1st. Because man himself deems them man's book, cannot, must not, be essential.- Were the intellectual enerthus polluted. Neither will they con- gies man possesses from nature, adetinue to be extensively read. I can quate to those which diligence and inform Aristarchus for “his consola- perseverance enable him to attain, tion,” that though the number of those would he choose to relinquish the faswho encourage such writings is still cinating, and, in that case, the laudable great, yet that it is lessening. And path of careless ease, for the labours when the empire of right principles and anxieties attendant on the superand moral rectitude shall be establish- fluous acquisition of knowledge and ed, the name of Byron shall be remem- wisdom ? would he tamely devote the bered only to his condemnation. fairest and happiest portion of his tem
I beg, Mr. Editor, to conclude with porary existence, to the arduous task a sonnet of Wordsworth, as another of obtaining what would not benefit specimen to such of your readers as him? No-he is aware that the faculhave not read his works; only assuring ties with which he enters this “bright them that there are many of equal and breathing world” are crude and excellence.
imbecile-he is aware that without
improvement, they will, like rubies in ON THE DEATH OF HIS LATE MAJESTY, their native mine, remain for ever imWard of the law! dread shadow of a king ! perfect,unknown, and absolutelyworthWhose realm bath dwindled to one stately room, less and he is also aware that the culWhose universe was gloom immersed in gloom,' tivation of these germs of perfecDarkness as thick as life o'er life could fing, Yet haply cheer'd with some faint glimmering tion will expand, refine, and animate Of faith and hope; if thou by nature's doom their embryo beauties, and, finally, Gently bast sunk into the quiet tomb, Why sbould we bend in grief, to sorrow cling,
exalt him to a degree of excellence When thankfulness were best! fresh flowing tears, nearer resembling that of their omniOs where tears flow not, sigh succeeding sigh,
potent Author. * Your readers are indebted to Aristarchus and welfare through life.—The treasures
2nd. Because they promote his honour for this information, since (from whatever cause) Mr. Murray has declined putting his of learning are inexhaustible-never name on the title-page of a recent publication. can the lively pen of eulogy describe