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This author (unfortunately now distinguished as a Chartist leader, and imprisoned for the offence,) is a barrister of the Mid
dle Temple, and was early noted for the violence of his political opinions. His first poem was called “The Wood Spirit,” which contained some fine passages, but the design was faulty, and the execution too feeble to warrant a hope that the writer was anything but a clever versifier. His second work, “My Life,” was better, and evinces passion and beauty.
His best poems, however, are those entitled “Chartist Lyrics:” into these he has thrown considerable force, and shows great skill in rousing the feelings of the multitudes.
The following poem of “Onward and Upward” is spirited:—
“Right onward the river is rolling,
Right onward the freeman may ride it,
For faction no more can divide it,
Right onward the oak tree is growing,
And deep in the green earth is sowing
Right onward are rising the nations,
Preparing for fresh generations,
Right onward the breezes are blowing,
Right onward the great thoughts are going,
Right upward the Eagle is winging—
Right upward the spirit is springing
There is, however, in all Mr. Jones’ effusions a restlessness and turbidity which betrays the transition state of his mind: there is nothing fixed:—one instant hope, the next defiance; the words govern the man, instead of the man the words; all this shows the existence of the lower subjective mind, and disqualifies him from holding a high rank in the scale of poets. This ignorant impatience led him to rush into the schemes of that foolish, brawling demagogue, Fergus O'Connor, who has managed most admirably to lead others into evils he himself ran away from.
Mr. Jones, who had only been recently married, was so incautious as to join the Chartist demonstration, and, in consequence of his violent speeches, was indicted by the government for sedition, and condemned to a heavy fine and two years' imprisonment. However tedious and painful they may prove, they, nevertheless, may not be lost, but produce the same good effects on his fiery and undisciplined nature which the author of Rimini declared his imprisonment had worked in him.
We may as well seize this opportunity of giving Mr. L. Hunt's own account of his affront to the Prince Regent, and his apology on his deliverance from prison.
It is well known that the luckless wit was prosecuted for certain observations he made upon the absurd custom the Tory press indulged in of calling the Prince the first gentleman of Europe, and the Adonis of the age. Mr. Leigh Hunt very naturally ridiculed the idea of applying the epithet of Adonis to a fat old man, and that of the first gentleman in Europe to one who had behaved so infamously to the wife he had sworn to protect and cherish. When his term of imprisonment had expired, he wrote an article in the “Examiner,” the paper he edited, congratulating his readers on his enlargement, and assuring them that he had derived considerable benefit from the discipline he had undergone. And, added the wit, I am no less delighted at the vast improvement I find in the Prince Regent: for, when I was sent to jail he was fat, old, and a bad husband; whereas now, I am told, “he is thin, young, and lives with his wife.” Some few days after he was threatened by the Attorney-General with a prosecution, whereupon the facetious poet explained to his readers, that he had been punished for saying that the Prince was old, fat, and a bad husband, and that they were now threatening him with another prosecution for declaring he was young, thin, and lived with his wife. The Attorney-General saw he should come off second best in this encounter, and very wisely dropped the matter. In person, Ernest Jones is small, well made, and has the peculiarity of red hair; his eye is gray, fiery and piercing. In disposition he is sanguine and generous. Eager in the expression of his opinions, whether of politics, morals, philosophy or religion. He is a man of fortune, and passes his time in prison in writing. He is somewhere about his thirty-fifth year.
The author of “Memorials of a Tour in Greece.” is the son of Mr. Milnes, a gentleman of fortune and estate near Pontefract. He was born about the year 1806, and after receiving a classical education at Cambridge, spent a considerable time in travelling; on his return he was elected member for Pontefract, which honor he has retained ever since. In politics he is a Tory Radical. His principal works are “Memorials of a Tour in France,” “Poems of Many Years,” “Poetry for the People,” and “Palm Leaves.” A complete edition of his works has been published by Mr. Moxon, in four volumes. He is genial in his manners, though occasionally he ventures in a little display, which somewhat partakes of affectation and conceit, and exposes him to the lash of the satirist.
We remember on one occasion he entered a large party, having just returned from the queen's ball; he was consequently in his court dress, with sword, &c. Observing two young ladies, with whom he had some slight acquaintance, seated on a couch at one end of the room, the member for Pontefract advanced, and kneeling midway between, listened blandly to their conversation, now and then joining in, as a sort of Greek chorus, on a very small scale. They seemed somewhat astounded at the coolness of the proceeding, and changed the subject of discourse; Mr. Sidney Smith, who was seated at a little distance, observed the mise en scène, and said to a lady who was at his side, “Well, I have often heard of the cool of the evening, but I have never seen it till now.” Another instance is recorded of the old wit’s schooling to the young and flippant poet: one evening the author of “Memorials” was about to leave a party where the distinguished prebend was present, and going up to him, he bade him good-bye in this fashion: “Good-bye, Sidney, I must go; I have promised Howley (the Archbishop of Canterbury) to drop in at his soiree to-night.” “Farewell, dear Mr. Milnes,” said the old divine, “but before you go let me give you one word of advice—don't call him. Howley " It must be borne in mind, Howley is the archbishop's family name.
Mr. Milnes, it strikes us, [we do not belong to the inner and devoted circles of his admirers, looking upon him as an unprejudiced man, ab extra, may be considered as a journalist in verse, a diarist, a letter-writer, a traveller, anything but a poet. His Pegasus, we imagine, would never have furnished Schiller the divine animal of his myth, sacred for ever to genius. He would not have spurned the harness or affected the precipice. He is rather the musa pedestris walking the plains, firm paced, clean footed, a serviceable nag, but far from the Olympic course. We are struck, in looking over Mr. Milnes’ volumes; we see not why they should not be indefinitely extended, with this serviceableness of the imagination. He carries the inventive faculty with him, as a foot rule in his pocket, and can take in a moment the gauges of any object, whether it be a sonnet for a pebble at Iona, or an ode to the black stone at Mecca. He is a man who travels much about the world, and to whom nature or art, it matters nothing which, are perpetually saying, stand and deliver, when he will disburden himself of an epic in the small charge of a book full of national verses. They are all excellent, smooth, plausible; the arrow is straight, well selected, deftly feathered, but there is a want of strength in the bow, or the right arm behind it. In fine, Mr. Milnes is an amateur in verse. A writer of his frequency and fluency may certainly lay claim to being an accomplished man, but unless he exhibits some one pervading power by