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leaves us lonely for ever. Yet we too, sometimes at midnight, when winds blow softly, and the moonlight falls clear,
Up the still glistening beaches,
And then come back down, -
It is a beautiful poem, certainly; and deserves to have been given at full length. - The Strayed Reveller” itself is more ambitious, perhaps a little strained. It is a pleasing and sig. nificant imagination, however, to present to us Circe and Ulysses in colloquy with a stray youth from the train of Bacchus, who drinks eagerly the cup of the enchantress, not as did the sailors of the Ithacan king, for gross pleasure, but for the sake of the glorious and superhuman vision and knowledge it imparts.
• But I, Ulysses,
But now, we are fain to ask, where are we, and whither are we unconsciously come? Were we not going forth to battle in the armor of a righteous purpose, with our first friend, with Alexander Smith ? How is it we find ourselves here, reflecting, pondering, hesitating, musing, complaining, with “A.” As the wanderer at night, standing under a stormy sky, listening to the wild harmonies of winds, and watching the wild movements of the clouds, the tree-tops, or possibly the waves, may,
with a few steps, very likely, pass into a lighted sitting-room, and a family circle, with pictures and books, and literary leisure, and ornaments, and elegant small employments,- a scene how dissimilar to that other, and yet how entirely natural also;so it often happens too with books. You have been reading Burns, and you take up Cowper. You feel at home, how strangely! in both of them. Can both be the true thing? and if so, in what new form can we express the relation, the barmony, between them? Such a discrepancy there certainly does exist between the two books that have been before us here. We close the one and open the other, and feel ourselves moving to and fro between two totally different, repugnant, and hostile theories of life.
Are we to try and reconcile them, or judge between them?
May we escape from all the difficulty by a mere quotation, and pronounce with the shepherd of Virgil
Et vitulâ tu dignus, et hic.” Or will the reader be content to bow down with us in this place, and acknowledge the presence of that highest object of worship among the modern Germans, an antinomy. (That is, O unlearned reader, ignorant, not impossibly, of Kant and the modern German religion, - in brief, a contradiction in terms, the ordinary phenomenal form of a noumenal Verity; as, for example, the world must have had a beginning, and, the world cannot have had a beginning, in the transcendental fusion or confusion of which consists the Intelligible or unintelligible truth.) Will you be content, О reader, to plod in German manner over miles of a straight road, that seems to lead somewhere, with the prospect of arriving at last at some point where it will divide at equal angles, and lead equally in two opposite directions, where you may therefore safely pause, and thankfully set up your rest, and adore in sacred doubt the Supreme Bifurcation? Or do you hold, with Voltaire, who said (apropos of the question then debated among the French wits, whether there were or were not a God) that “after all, one must take a side”?
With all respect for the Antinomies and Germans, and most distinguished consideration” for Voltaire and Parisian persiflage, still, it may not be quite necessary for us, on the pre
sent occasion, either to stand still in transcendental doubt, or toss up, as it were, for our side. Individuals differ in character, capacity, and positions; and, according to their circumstances, will combine, in every possible variety of degree, the two elements of thoughtful discriminating selection and rejection, and frank and bold acceptance of what lies around them. Between the extremes of ascetic and timid self-culture, and of unquestioning, unhesitating confidence, we may consent to see and tolerate every kind and gradation of intermixture. Nevertheless, upon the whole, for the present age, the lessons of reflectiveness and the maxims of caution do not appear to be more needful or more appropriate than exhortations to steady courage and calls to action. There is something certainly of an over-educated weakness of purpose in Western Europe — not in Germany only, or France, but also in more busy England. There is a disposition to press too far the finer and subtler intellectual and moral susceptibilities; to insist upon following out, as they say, to their logical consequences, the notices of some single organ of the spiritual nature; a proceeding which perhaps is hardly more sensible in the grown man than it would be in the infant to refuse to correct the sensations of sight by those of the touch. Upon the whole, we are disposed to follow out, if we must follow out at all, the analogy of the bodily senses; we are inclined to accept rather than investigate; and to put our confidence less in arithmetic and antinomies, than in
A few strong instincts and a few plain rules. Let us remark also in the minor Poems, which accompany Empedocles, a disposition, perhaps, to assign too high a place to what is called Nature. It may indeed be true, as the astronomers say, though after all it is no very great piece of knowledge, that the heavenly bodies describe ellipses; and go on, from and to all the ages, performing that self-repeating, unattaining curve. But does it, therefore, of necessity follow that human souls do something analogous in the spiritual spaces ? Number is a wonderful thing, and the laws of nature sublime; nevertheless, have we not a sort of intuition of the existence, even in our own poor human selves, of something akin to a Power superior to, and transcending, all manifestations of Nature, all intelligible forms of Number and Law. We quote one set of verses, in which our author does appear to have escaped for once from the dismal cycle of his rehabilitated Hindoo-Greek theosophy
We cannot kindle when we will
But tasks, in hours of insight willed,
With aching hands and bleeding feet
Not till the hours of light return,
Then when the clouds are off the soul,
Nature whose free, light, cheerful air,
And she, whose censure thou dost dread,
"Ah child,' she cries, “that strife divine,
“There is no effort on my brow
Yet that severe, that earnest air,
'I knew not yet the gauge
of Time, Nor wore the manacles of space,
I felt it in some other clime,
'T was when the heavenly house I trod,
It is wonderful what stores of really valuable thought may lie neglected in a book, simply because they are not put in that form which serves our present occasions. But if we have been inclined to yield to a preference for the picture of simple, strong, and certain, rather than of subtle, shifting, and dubious feelings, and in point of tone and matter to go along with the young mechanic, in point of diction and manner, we must certainly assign the palm to "A,” in spite of a straining after the rounded Greek form, such as, to some extent, vitiates even the style of Milton. Alexander Smith lies open to much graver critical carping. He writes, it would almost seem, under the impression that the one business of the poet is to coin metaphors and similes. He tells them out as a clerk might sovereigns at the Bank of England. So many comparisons, so much poetry; it is the sterling currency of the realm. Yet he is most pleased, perhaps, when he can double or treble a similitude; speaking of A, he will call it a B, which is, as it were, the C of a D. By some maturer effort we may expect to be thus conducted even to Z. But simile within simile, after the manner of Chinese boxes, are more curious than beautiful; nor is it the true aim of the poet, as of the Italian boy in the street, to poise upon his head, for public exhibition, a board crowded as thick as they can stand with images, big and little, black and white, of anybody and everybody, in any possible order of disorder, as they happen to pack. Tanquam scopulum, insolens verbum, says the precept of ancient taste, which our author seems to accept freely, with the modern comment of
In youth from rock to rock I went
Most pleased, when most uneasy. The movement of his poem is indeed rapid enough ; there is a sufficient impetus to carry us over a good deal of rough and rocky" ground; there is a real continuity of poetic purpose ;- but it is so perpetually presumed upon; the attention,