« ElőzőTovább »
own, we have found it impossible to comprehend. The following is in better style, though inconsistent with the character of the hero, who is supposed to look with as much abomination as the Rev. Blanco White himself on the established religion of Spain : • Sounds of triumphant praise !- the mass was sung
- Voices that die not might have pour'd such strains ! Thro' Salem's towers might that proud chant have rung, When the Most High, on Syria's palmy plains, Had quell’d her foes !--so full it swept, a sea Of loud waves jubilant, and rolling free! - Oft when the wind, as thro' resounding fanes, Hath fill'd the choral forests with its power, Some deep tone brings me back the music of that hour. p. 27. This solemnity, too, formed part of that bloody ceremony which the hero witnessed with so much horror, and from which he afterwards fled, as indeed well he might have fled from such an unholy exhibition, like one half distracted. The stanza which we have just cited is the only one out of at least fifty which are occupied with the auto-da-fé, worthy of favourable notice. Mrs. Hemans has here indulged herself after the example of Mr. Southey, with pouring forth a great deal of those meditative effusions on sacred subjects, which, to say the least of them, are very much out of place in compositions of this description. True piety, whatever be its source, is always best seen or heard of in action, or in the influence by which it subdues the passions, and directs the natural benevolence of the heart. We have no taste for the commixture of sacred writ with that sort of poetry which is or ought to be intended for the amusement of cultivated minds. But we return with our hero to a more agreeable theme.
• I sought my home again : — and thou, my child,
There at thy play beneath yon ancient pine,
And ask a happier heritage for thee,
Should wake no more dim thoughts of far-seen woe,
• Thou hast a rich world round thee:- Mighty shades
To worship, thou art blest !- to thee is shown . Earth in her holy pomp, deck'd for her God alone. pp. 48, 49. At home he remained but a little time, when he incurred the suspicions of the Inquisition, and was conveyed to a dungeon. We shall close our extracts from this poem with the description of the fugitive's feelings immediately after he effected his escape from imprisonment. It is without comparison the most powerful, we had almost said the only powerful, passage of the whole composition. We quote it cheerfully; and it would have afforded us gratification if we could have discovered any other lines in the second part of this production worthy of a similar distinction,
" I had gain'd
The mountain Christian with his faith of yore,
A far-off bell toll’d faintly through the roar -
Smiting the branches in their fitful play,
Was it not joy ?-'twas joy in rushing might,
And lit me to my home of youth again,
In gentle sleep : but now I pass'd as one
Because the avenger's voice is in the wind,
With the soul's lov'd ones be a mournful thing,
Balm as they fall, too well their heavy showers
Nor the green earth, nor yet the laughing sky,
Of kindred aspects, and the long dim gaze,
I stood an alien. On the very floor
Of Paynim spears; and I, the worn in frame
- How should he know his father ? — when we parted,
And her heart answer'd! - Oh! the voice is known
- Upon my breast she sunk, when doubt was fled, · Weeping as those may weep, that meet in woe apd dread. . . VOL. II.
For there we might not rest. "Alas! to leave
- With his deep tones and sweet, tho' full of years,
pp. 60—65. We have already told the rest. Leonora perished on the voyage, and the father and child found, after various wanderings, a 'sanctuary in the forest.' Of the minor compositions at the end of the volume, we are disposed to think very favourably. In truth, Mrs. Hemans is likely to be more successful in a short poem, for which a single hint and a few happy thoughts are sufficient, than in a longer work, which requires a prolific invention, and an ardent, adventurous, lofty imagination.
ART. V. History of the Commonwealth of England, from its Commencement to the Restoration of Charles the Second. By William God.
win. Vol. II. 8vo. pp. 696. London. Colburn. 1826. It is about two years since the first volume of Mr. Godwin's History of the Commonwealth of England was reviewed in the pages of this Journal * ; and in now taking up the continuation of his labours, after 'so considerable an interval of time, we have been careful to subject them anew, in this second volume, to a distinct and dispassionate judgment. But after diligently examining the progress of the work, we can only confirm and extend the strictures passed by our predecessors upon the earlier portion. A recurrence to their opinion has left us something to add, but nothing to reverse or to modify; and we find Mr. Godwin's second volume compiled with exactly the same overweening pretensions, and the same mistaken estimate of the value and novelty of his undertaking, which were justly remarked in the first. That he still fancifully and pertinaciously imagines it reserved for himself to rescue the history of the Commonwealth and the character of its leaders from oblivion and calumny is evident in various ways. Such are the repeated boasts of his motto,-“ to attend to the neglected, and to remember the forgotten," - his contemptuous and sweeping depreciation of historians as a body, - and his total omission to notice with applause the productions of writers who have anticipated him on his own side of the political question, with the benefit of precisely the same materials to work upon, and with at least an equal measure of
* See Vol. civ. p. 242. of the former Series of the Monthly Review.
ability, industry, and zeal. Among these need be instanced only Mrs. Macauley in the last century, and Mr. Brodie in our own times: - to say nothing of the masterly and philosophical though rapid view of the great features and principles of the contest between Charles I. and the Parliament, which was prefixed by Mr. Fox to his life of James II.
In the first portion of his work, Mr. Godwin was pleased to proclaim to the world his indifferent opinion of the careless and imitative set of men that we call historians. Therein he proceeded no farther than to exhibit his complacent conviction of his own superiority over all that despised and vituperated race. But his second volume has, it seems, a higher object than this : it is replete with profound and original remarks upon the province and true business of history itself, which are evidently intended for the improvement of so neglected a science, and the edification and correc tion of its unworthy professors. Thus, we are for the first time instructed, that (p. 7.) the historian treats of facts, not fictions ; that (p. 78.) it is the duty of the historian to glean up incidental points of information;' that (p. 431.) • it is the province of history to distribute justice with discernment; and, lastly, we are indebted to him for a hint for which his own work may sufficiently afford some practical exercise, that (p. 529.) • it is not unworthy of notice to remark the style in which history is written by party men.' From these and similar new and important discoveries some individual of more leisure than we possess may extract from Mr. Godwin's pages a whole code of maxims and precepts for the better writing of history in future: but lest, after all, the gleaner should be disposed to estimate too highly the value of the instruction which he may thus collect from the perfection of the science, let him learn from this great authority how vain and impotent are its best conclusions:
• It is thus that history is obliged to grope its way, in treating of the most considerable events. We put together seemings, and draw our inferences as well as we may. Contemporaries who employ themselves in preserving facts are sure to omit some of the most material, upon the presumption of their notoriety, and that they are what every body knows. History in some of its most essential members dies, even as generations of men pass off the stage, and the men whơ were occupied in the busy scene become victims of mortality. If we could call up Cromwel from the dead, nay, if we could call up some one of the comparatively insignificant actors in the time of which we are treating, and were allowed the opportunity of proposing to him the proper questions, how many doubts would be cleared up, how many perplexing matters would be unravelled, and what a multitude of interesting anecdotes would be revealed to the eyes of posterity! But History comes like a beggarly gleaner in the field, after Death, the great lord of the domain, has gathered the crop with his mighty hand, and lodged it in his garner, which no man can open.'— pp. 29, 30.