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tion by the events consequent on the French Revolution. Perhaps it is impossible to name one of our classical bards so thoroughly free from every tinge of foreign style or sentiment. The days of German imitation, indeed, had not yet arrived, but our poetry had hardly worked itself free from French fashions, and Latin pomposity bad but recently accomplished a majestic march in the measures of Johnson. Moreover, there was a sort of conventional diction afloat, which, if not easy at first sight to assign to a foreign parentage, was scarcely less of an exotic, compared to the plain-spoken English which Cowper brought into competition with it. Another characteristic we observe in this poet, distinguishing him from the Calvinistic rhymesters who preceded him, is his strong moralizing vein. Morality had been kept so completely subordinate to the doctrines and experiences of faith by the party to which he belonged, that, from the days of Watts to those of Cowper, scarcely any mention of practical virtues is to be found in the verse that emanated from that source.
But it was to men's daily tasks and daily responsibilities that Cowper addressed himself; and his example, followed, as it was, by many writers of various degrees of merit, contributed to give to the evangelical school of this century its practical, domestic style of manners and feeling. It influenced, indeed, the character of our religious poetry more permanently than we may be generally aware of, and still survives the varieties of taste which that branch of composition has subsequently experienced.
The later times of the continental war were coincident with a spirit of romance and martial enterprise in our land, of which, as secular poets, Scott, Byron, and Campbell, were apt representatives. The hymns of Heber and Milman exhibit not a little of the colouring imparted even to religious poetry by the spirit-stirring influences of the day. There is something of almost chivalrous ardour in such strains as “From Green
Son of God goes forth to war.” And, in the collection published by these writers, we, for the first time, witness an attempt to make the Church of England poetical by bringing her weekly services into connexion with the subjects of verse. We have alluded to James Montgomery. He, too, deserves notice as a writer of devotional lyrics, full of beauty, both of feeling and expression. He was a member of the Moravian Society; and his hymns, though more finished and graceful than those of the Wesleys, are, like them, chiefly concerned with the work of religion on the soul. It is by them, more than by his longer poems, that his merit is most generally recognised.
But the next important era in our religious poetry after the date of Cowper, was that of Wordsworth. The “ Lake School,” so called, of which he was the principal leader—contemplative and philosophical in character-did not obtain a fair hearing till after the war and its immediate effects had subsided. Wordsworth was not a sacred poet, as the phrase is generally understood. Nevertheless, he has done much to mould our sacred poetry ; more, probably, than any other poet within the range of our literature, save Spenser, Milton, and Cowper. The influence of Spenser belongs to a state of things long passed away, and we have nothing to say of him in this place ; but it may be not uninstructive to bring some points of Wordsworth's genius into comparison with that of the other two: mentioned together, not for a moment as comparing them in merit, but because they both represent certain phases of thought, significant for our present purpose.
Milton, Cowper, and Wordsworth, each dealt with the appearances of nature, and with man's relations to the spiritual world. How did they severally approach those topics ? Milton wrote of religion on its God-ward side. His imagination soared to the courts of heaven with the characteristic daring of the Puritanism of his age. He ventured to interpret the Almighty's counsels for These lines of Göthe's are but the condensation of Wordsworth's creed as developed in his beautiful poem on Tintern Abbey :
“I have felt A presence that disturbs me with the
led him to delight in those descriptions of her beauties which, for grandeur of diction, scarce any poet in any age or country has come near ; but he contemplated the material universe entirely as God's handmaid and tributary. Its morning skies, its nightly splendours, were all parts of the triumphant chant that was for ever arising from His works below as from His angels above.
Cowper wrote of religion on its human side-of religion as applied to the every-day thoughts and habits of life. He loved to regard nature as a message to man's heart from his ever-present Father, and a means of devout commu. nion with Him. In Milton's view,
mi nature was rather a display of God's transcendent majesty ; in that of Cowper, it was the voice of His paternal love.
With both these poets, the idea of God as revealed in the Bible gave the key-note to their meditations. Herein lies the difference between their standingpoint and that of Wordsworth. The latter aims rather at a philosophic appreciation of nature's influence over the heart, apart from system or creed. He looks upon her in the light of a teacher to guide man to self-knowledge and selfdiscipline, without the à priori assumption of a Revelation, by which the sentiment both of Milton and of Cowper is determined. Perhaps we may say that the elevation of nature to the rank of an independent teacher was a gradual process; that, while Milton looked upon her as the Almighty's work of power and exceeding beauty, and nothing more, Cowper had already begun to listen to her with something of the spirit of a disciple, before Wordsworth advanced her authoritative claims to be studied and obeyed. But something also was derived from the ideas which the study of German had begun to infuse into our poetical literature :
Of elevated thoughts ; a sense sublime Of something far more deeply interfused, Whose dwelling is the light of setting
suns, And the blue sky, and in the mind of
man : A motion and a spirit, that impels All thinking things, all objects of all
thought, And rolls through all things,” &c.
It is evident, we repeat, that Wordsworth is not a sacred poet in the sense which any doctrinal zealots would accept. The religion he preaches is that, to use his own expression, of “a dreamer in the woods." True, it is very earnest and sublime, thoroughly pervaded by a sense of the moral government of God, and in harmony with revealed Faith. Still, revealed Faith is not the postulate on which it rests. We are not speaking of the ecclesiastical sonnets, in which he sentimentalizes on the worship and history of the Church of England, nor of other occasional pieces, but of that part of his poetry which is really original and characteristic of his genius, and which, as such, has imparted a new stock of ideas to the world. It follows, consistently enough, that, with the Evangelical party, Wordsworth has never been a favourite. But it is a fact that we see the evidence of his training in almost all other religious poets of the present day; not only in those of more liberal or fanciful views, but in those whose high Ecclesiasticism one would think was little enough in accordance with the very unsystematic faith of the Excursion and the Ode on Immortality. It so happened that Wordsworth had outlived his detractors, and become a popular poet, just about the time that the Oxford High-Church views were forming. In the alliance that took
“Erkennest dann der Sterne Lauf;
Und wenn Natur dich unterweist, Dann geht die Seelenkraft dir auf, Wie spricht ein Geist zum andern
thought, Keble led the way; and, if we pathos is deep and tender; his love and ask what was the ground of the mutual observation genuine, if a little overattraction between such apparently oppo- strained in sentiment and expression. He site modes of thought, we shall perhaps manifests an experimental sense of detect it,
human griefs and necessities, which, First, in the calm placid tone of with all who have known sorrow, must feeling, the avoidance of all passionate ever accredit his title to be an expounemotion or expression, which, while in der of the everlasting text, Vanitas Wordsworth it was to some extent a vanitatum ! All these qualities have reaction from the fire and tempest of made him a lasting favourite, and not Scott and Byron, was likewise aimed at with sharers in his own opinions only. by the Anglican religionists as a re- In fact, we have a curious evidence, how action from the excitement and fervour little the formalism of his ecclesiastical of the Evangelicals.
views struck the world at first as a Secondly, in the encouragement given prominent characteristic of his verse, to the taste for symbolism by Words- in a criticism of Professor Wilson's, worth's reverential feeling for the ma- which appeared in Blackwood's Magazine, terial universe in all its parts. Words- . three years after the publication of the worth himself was not a symbolist, but “ Christian Year."1 The critic here he was in some sense a mystic. It was speaks of the new bard much as he the informing Spirit of Nature that he- would have spoken of one of the pious worshipped almost. To contemplate that elders of the Scottish Kirk, whom his spirit as typical of a revealed and ecclesi- fancy loved to idealize, supposing such astically organized system, was altogether elder to have possessed the faculty of foreign to his turn of thought; but the verse. The inspiration was in his eyes combination was easily made by those much the same. The Bible, the Sabwhose favourite dream it was to find the bath, the peasant's cottage, and the visible Church and its adjuncts shadowed braes, are the principal features in his everywhere.
description of the sources of Keble’s Here, then, we have found our way poetry and of its influence. And so no to the historical position which Keble, doubt with most of the world, it was as as a sacred poet, occupies amongst us. sentiment, not as system, that much of Coming when modern Puritanism had the phraseology of the Oxford school was reached its culminating point, and when, at first regarded. But then came the together with the rise of a new set of “Tracts for the Times,” and made its theological ideas, a new first-rate poet real purpose clear ; and then, as in prose, stood ready for imitation and adapta- so also in verse, a stereotyped set of notion, he inaugurated a fresh school of tions and expressions soon came into religious verse. Numerous have been vogue, limiting and hampering on every his imitators; and, as is generally the side that free communion with the heart case, they have exaggerated his peculiar and with nature which can alone encharacteristics into more or less of a sure genuine power. Keble, not himconventional cant. But he was himself self an original poet, though the origiearly imbued with the teaching of an nator of a new tendency of poetry, older school. His religious sentiment became the subject of imitation. Patriswas grounded rather on the biblical tic allegorizing and mediæval hymnody associations of the long dominant were more and more resorted to as Puritanism, than on the mediæval asso- sources of inspiration, and much mawciations of the Anglican Revival, which kish or dogmatic verse has been the he himself contributed to bring about; result. The versifiers of this school and in these respects he stands in advan- indeed, have been mostly men of contageous comparison with the writers siderable attainment, and of more classi
eferred to. Though frequently obscure cal taste than the Methodists, of whatever and fanciful, Keble is not affected. His
| Blackwood, xxvi. 833.
denomination, ever affected. But, whereever a poet writes to uphold a party and a system, rather than to interpret nature and the human heart, cant of one kind or another will be the inevitable result. With all the pious feeling and graceful versification, for example, of the author of the “ Cathedral,” there is cant in the superstitious reverence he expresses for architectural forms and symbols, as much, perhaps, though of a very opposite kind, as in the daring familiarities with Divine things and persons which are to be met with in Dissenting and Low-Church hymnody. The “Lyra Apostolica,” published in 1836, in which Keble himself wrote, was a much more
formal exposition of opinion than the “Christian Year.” Some of Keble's coadjutors in this work, in fact before long overstepped the extremest limits of the Via Media. But the fashion of this world passes away, in devotional poetry as in other things. Though Keble's first work retains its hold over the public mind, the Ultra-Tractarian school of verse is now very much at a discount. The hymns of the German Gesangbuch, on the other hand, have of late been numerously and repeatedly translated. The “Lyra Germanica” has many more readers at the present day than the “Lyra Apostolica.”
BY CHARLES ALLSTON COLLINS.
“La mendicité est défendue dans le Dé- propose to draw up for the benefit of partement du Pas de Calais."
posterity. This is one of the very first announce- It is a dreadful thing to be begged ments which one reads on disembarking of. It is a dreadful thing to see from the Dover packet. It is affixed Keziah Kadge waiting for one a few to the celebrated gate of Calais, which yards ahead by the side of the paveHogarth has immortalized, and a similar ment. She has just been exhausting notice is to be found at the entrance to her eloquence upon a Greek gentleman, every one of the numerous departments by whose side she has been ambling of France. And, though there are just along all round the crescent, looking at this moment a great many beggars in back straight into his eyes as she runs Paris, it is yet certain that, as a rule, a little in front of him, which is the one is little annoyed by beggars as professional method, and a very effective long as one remains in the French one, too. She has abandoned the Greek, dominions.
who is inexorable, and there she waits It is not so here. In this free and for you. You cannot escape her withhappy country, the beggar thrives and out absolutely turning back, and even prospers, persecutes, intimidates, and then I hardly think you would get rid sometimes even, as will presently of her ; for Keziah's time is her own, appear, makes a comfortable inde- she is very accommodating, and may as pendence out of the credulity of the well be going your way as any other. public. The days must surely be at Is there any one who has not quailed hand when these things will be better when he has seen the beggar-woman looked after than they are at present; thus waiting for him, or, still worse, and, when these devouring tribes are crossing over the street higher up, ready no longer known among us, it will be to attack him as soon as he gets within interesting to have a record of their fire ? Her mode of address is monotoexistence, as of any other obsolete nous and unvarying. “Do, good gen
side, for she is a hard feeder and short of breath, and it is common for the victim to “force the pace" a little, in order to get rid of her.
"Do, good gentleman, have compassion on a poor girl-had nothing to eat all day, and mother at home with the fever." This, by the bye, is a very good stroke, for if the persecuted pedestrian happens to be of a nervous nature, he will think it cheap to be rid of the danger of infection at the price of all the copper, or rather bronze, which he happens to have about him. This is followed, if the victim is still obdurate, by a volley of benedictions, expressions of a hope that he may never want “it;” which, considering that he has got “it," and probably means to keep “it," seem almost superfluous. Then follow awful appeals to the Supreme Being to corroborate the truth of her statement; and as this, if you are well initiated in the art of begging, at once decides you not to give, it is commonly succeeded by some muttered curses, “not loud, but deep," to which she gives vent as she stands, having at last given you up, and watches your retreating figure with hateful and malignant eyes.
Those curses are of about as much importance as the blessings which immediately preceded them ; but how does a man feel during the enacting of such a scene as that described above ? He feels annoyed and uncomfortable. If things have that day been going well with him, if he has just been receiving a sum of money, if he is going home or elsewhere to a good dinner, and to the enjoyment of all sorts of comfort, he will feel a kind of weak and illogical conviction that he ought to impart a penny share in his prosperity to Keziah Kadge. If he does this, he knows, and, perhaps, acknowledges to himself, that he is acting like a fool, but still he goes to his dinner or other enjoyments with Keziah's full sanction and permission, which he other wise felt to be withheld. Are beggars skilled physiognomists? Does Keziah Kadge know the man who has done a good stroke of business by his countenance? It is far from improbable. Has
the reader ever observed that there are some days on which he is more solicited for alms than on others—the same, perhaps, chosen by children to ask what o'clock it is in the public streets, or to request him to pull, on their behalf, “the top bell-handle on the left-hand door-post ?" .
The class of mendicants of which Keziah Kadge is a specimen, is an especially bad one. She is a strong, young, able-bodied woman, and yet an habitual and professional beggar. It is doubtful, however, whether she is quite the worst specimen of all. She is what may be called the clamorous beggar ; is she as bad as the silent beggar?
With the silent beggar we have all been long familiar, though it is only now, as we shall shortly see, that he has reached the culminating point of full development. The silent beggar is ordinarily a thin and sickly-looking individual. He dresses generally in seedy black, showing, however, an aggravat'ingly white shirt-front, which, in its spotless cleanliness, is part of his stockin-trade, for he is “poor, but scrupulously clean.” It is not unfrequently the case that nature will decorate the nose of the silent beggar with a fine vermilion tinge, which sets off the pallor of the other parts of his countenance to great advantage, and is-pray observe-in nowise the result of drinking. The scene chosen by the silent beggar for his mute appeal is generally one of our leading and most bustling thoroughfares, the Tottenham-courtroad or that of Edgeware ; and here, selecting a situation where there is a good flaring gas-light blazing full upon himfor night, and especially Saturday night, is his great time he takes up his position. It is not, however, his practice to stand upon the pavement; he is far too humble for that. He stands in the road, just at the edge of the kerbstone, and, to complete the unobtrusive character of his appearance, holds himself in a slightly stooping position, with his head bent down, and never removing his gaze from the pavement, except on rare occasions, to glance around him in