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Marlborough ; to infatuate the people, to rule in the parliament, and dictate to the throne. With a periodical journal pretty forward in their cause, with a poet already employed at the Admiralty to celebrate'their disastrous battles, and scatter laurels in the path of retreat; it hardly seems necessary, at least for the public good, that their ascendancy should be aided by Mr. Scott.
The moral tendency of this poem is perhaps worse than the political. We totally disapprove of a poem in celebration of war. The violent passions which are natural to 119 require no unnatural excitement. The pride, ferocity, and vindictiveness of man, his craving after strong sensations, and his delight in violent exertions, are already but too impetuous for his happiness. To allay, not exasperate, these dangerous principles, is the great duty of a poet. It is his function, to inspire milder sentiments, to present objects of purer desire, and means of more innocent gratification. He is at once to subjugate the animal, while he developes the spiritual faculties. We lament that no influence of thin sort is to be found in the poems of Mr. Scott. They are exquisite delineations—of a fierce and licentious age: they captivate the fancy vyith beautiful scenes, and excite the passions by striking events; but at the same time they reconcile us'to the manners they illustrate, and assimilate us to the characters they describe. The moral, sentiment, is in strict unison with the subject; and befits a minstrel of the sixteenth, much better than a poet of the nineteenth century. Without adverting to any of the numerous instances that might be cited from his former works, we shall only notice one remarkable passage in the poem before 'vis. It is distressing to observe with what coolness—we might rather say with what satisfaction and delight—a British poet can work up a description of cruelties that make 'each particular hair to stand on end.' We are. persuaded none of our readers can peruse it without shuddering.
'With blade and brand,
By day the Invaders ravaged hill and dale,
Came like night's tempest, and avenged the land,
Probed the hard heart, and lofip'dthe murderous hand;
Surely our national character is not yet so brutalized, a*, to relish a description like this.'' Surely we are not yet,so hardened by border tales, m* maddened by political animosity, as thus to exult over scenes of midnight massacre, thus to gloat, as it were, upon mangled bodies, and revel in human Wood!
Nothing is more difficult than to ascertain the specific value, if we may so express it, of a given portion of popularity. This is a point not to he determined by the quantity, but the quality; not by the number of editions, but by the taste of readers. If merit were to be decided on the democratic plan, by universal, unbiassed suffrage, and the most numerous class of judges were undeniably the best, no doubt many a caricaturist would take his place above Raphael, many a maker of glees above Haydn, and many an iuditer of ballads above Milton. The object of poetry, is certainly to please; but that is the best poetry, which gives the highest, most rational, and most permanent kind of pleasure; which pleases those who are most conversant in poetry, and whose faculties have been cxeroised, and whose taste (in their own opinion at least) improved, by study and cultivation. We cannot pretend to ascertain what sort of readers form the great support of Mr. Scott's celebrity. It would be easy to assert, that they are only the young and ill-educated; and his admirers might reply, with an equal impossibility of proving the fact, that they consisted of all the learned and refined spirits of the age. We think it may be plausibly conjectured, however, that the poetry which pleases, at first, to the widest extent, is that which is peculiarly adapted to please the lower and larger class of understandings. To gratify ordinary minds, it is obviously necessary to write to the faculties which arenearly common to all; to represent objects familiar to the senses, to declare those plain obvious truths, to express those customary sentiments, and depict those coarser modifications of the passions, which are at once comprehended and realized by every individual. A poem of higher quality is not at first relished by the multitude, because it wants these essential recommendations. In due time, however, the terms of precedence are settled. The plebeians of the literary common-wealth become weary of their favourite; his merits having been all perceived at first sight, scarcely invite or endure examination; his faults are scrutinized and exposed by severer judges, till they become plain to the most indulgent: and those who •till resist argument, gradually yield to authority. The better kind of performance has a happier fate. Its beauties reveal themselves, in time, even to the obtuser faculties; the public are gradually taught to understand and admire,; fill the tide even of popular opinion turns, and it is loudly* celebrated where it is neither relished, comprehended, nor read. There is more than one sense, in which Mr. Scott is a popular writer; and though his poetry must always retain a very respectable rank, it will be considerably reduced, we think, below its present station, by the inevitable operation of time.
The undue continuance of its popularity, would be not only discreditable, but injurious to the public. As long as it rages, the*classic poets of the language must be in a measure undervalued and neglected; their delicate charms make no. impression on minds familiar with liis coarseness and barbarism. But what we should most deprecate ^and lament, is the transference of the public homage from works of reason, sentiment, and imagination, to works of fiction; in short, from poetry to romance. In comparing him with the other poets of the day, he appeats not so much of a lower order, as of a differentkind. The pleasure we derive from their writings, is essentially distinct. They introduce us to a new region. Instead of being driven back three or four centuries, to contemplate brutal deeds and vulgar passions, we are summoned to a superior sphere.
Largior hie campos aether, et lumine vestlt
A deep unutterable pathos, an heroic and magnanimous enthusiasm; a calm and pensive delight in the contemplation of nature, and a softening sympathy with all sentient beings; magnificent abstractions, and mystic dreams; » touching melancholy, a fervid zeal, an ardent piety, and a melting tenderness; a creation of diversified beauty and dazzling splendor; an acute develppement of human character, and a morality the most lofty and sublime; these are some of the elements of thai; world of contemporary poetry, for which we gladly abandon all the adventures and superstitions of the border. Even the most exceptionable of the poetry we allude to, will assist the refined and aspiring thinker to rise above the vulgarities of life. It may offend bim with a certain portion of what is wild, unnatural, and absurd; but will furnish sentiments he must rejoice to imbibe, and excite conceptions the most elevated and transporting. The sphere of his existence will be immeasurably enlarged. The whole expanse of possibility will be laid open to him. Larger views, finer feelings, and mightier faculties, a nobler race of beings. a more copious and glorious world, will become accessible to the excursions of his thought, and delight his retired meditations. And if he. has learnt to convert all his attainments to the wisest use, he will feel the dignity of hi*L spiritual nature, will exult in the tried expansiveness of his powers, and realize that invisible system in which at times he had hardly been able to believe.
Art. III. Refutation of Calvinism; in which the Doctrines of Original Sin, Grace, Regeneration, Justification, and universal Redemption, are explained, and the peculiar Tenets of Calvin upon those points are proved to be contrary to the Scriptures, to the Writings of the ancient Fathers of the Christian Church, and to the public formularies of the Church of England. By George Tomline, D.D. F. R. S. Lord Bishop of Lincoln, and Dean of St. Paul's, London. Sro. pp. 590, Price 12s. Cadell and Davies, Rivingtons, &c. 181i.
TTHE fate of Calvinism, in this country, has been rather remarkable. In the infancy of our ecclesiastical establishment, its most distinguished members embraced the doctrines of that system, if not in their most rigorous, at least in their milder form; and never mentioned the name of Calvin without paying homage to superior talents, ennobled and adorned with piety and virtue. The violent opposition of the Puritans to our religious polity, induced James the First* to renounce the principles to which he had professed perpetual and inviolable attachment. Many of the dignitaries of the church followed the example of the sovereign. The zeal and diligence of these men, in favour of the new tenets they had espoused,—the part which the Presbyterians and Independents acted in our civil wars—and, above all, the bold and successful efforts of the latitudinarian divines and their successors, to reduce the fundamental principles of religion to a very few simple and generally acknowledged articles, and support them by the deductions of rtason rather than the authority of revelation, silently effected a thorough revolution in the religious persuasion of the clergy. At length, from the pulpit and the press, from the professor's chair and the bishop's throne, learned and dignified sons of the church rejected, impugned, and loaded with every term of reproach, the doctrines which she had explicitly avowed in her articles, expatiated upon in her homilies, and industriously interwoven with her very forms of devotion.
The discourses of a semipagan spirit and character substituted, in consequence of this change, for the evangelical sermons.of her martyrs and confessors, were, by and by, discovered to possess but little efficacy, in reclaiming the profliga*8v in rousing the indifferent, or in keeping alive the spirit of devotion. Her enemies began to triumph; while sotne of her members attempted to justify, an:! h;v more eminent prelates concurred to lament, this general and pefni';iuus defection. Almost in our own recollection, a race of men, professing to adhere to her genuine doctrines, and to revive the spirit of her original founders, arose, who were assailed, from all quarters, by the various weapons of reasoning, misrepresentation, invective, ridicule, and abuse. Though at first patient, these men were at last roused to defend themselves: they replied that they merely inculcated the doctrine they had solemnly promised to maintain; and ventured to inquire, whether for this good work they deserved to be stoned. The answers to this defence, though of a very discordant nature, were highly curious and ,even amusing. Some maintained, that, though the formularies of the church, in their literal and original meaning, were favourable to the tenets of these methodists or Calvinists, yet, like every thing human, they were subject to the despotism of time, and had, in the course of years, acquired a sense utterly irreconcilable with the absurd, enthusiastical, nonsensical, blasphemous interpretations that were now attempted to be given them. Others alledged, that, as the belief of the articles was by no means supposed in those who subscribed them, (these articles not having- been framed for ' the establishing of consent touching true religion,' but for the suppression of a few pestilent sectaries,) a man was riot the more to be justified for inculcating opinions agreeable to the doctrine of the church, unless these opinions had, at the same time, the support and ■concurrence of reason. A third party, who agreed with the two former in stigmatizing the revivers of the ancient doctrine as Calvinists, methodists, enthusiasts, and so forth, pretended that the church was decidedly hostile to the sentiments of Augustin and Calvin, even in their least exceptionable form; and that, in propagating contrary tenets, they were merely ner instruments, expressing the genuine and original sense of of her articles, homilies, and liturgy. To this class belongs his Lordship of Lincoln; and in support of it he has been at immense labour in compiling the large volume on which «ve now propose to make some animadversions.
The plan on which this work is put together, though rather agreeable to the fashion, seems liable to considerable objections. Though it consists of eight chapters, only four of them, making about half the volume, are original composition. Besides., that this part might have been very much compressed without any detriment to the argument, the
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