Images de page
PDF
ePub

• There is a vacant spot of ground behind the old palace, lately used as a storehouse, which was purchased some time ago with a view of building upon it. Prepare a place somewhere near that situation for the temporary reception of the worms.'

Tipu Sultan was, undoubtedly, a prince of a vigorous understanding, unceasing activity, aud undaunted courage. Ambition was the leading passion of his mind, to which every thing else was subordinate. Fanaticism might possibly be another; yet we find it, on most occasions, subservient to his ambition. An enlightened policy would have dictated the encouragement of agriculture, and the enforcement of a strict system of equal laws, as the surest means of becoming a great and powerful sovereign ; but the gigantic schemes which agitated his breast, could not wait for the slow returns derived from a course of gradual improvement. His peasantry were harassed with ever-changing modes of extortion, which his neglect of the works erected by former sovereigns to supply the means of artificial irrigation, rendered them annually less able to satisfy. The favourite measure of his reign, of which he never lost sight, was a general confederacy of the Mohamedan nations, to expel, extirpate, or convert the unbelievers. Fortunately for the world, none of them were in circumstances to cooperate efficaciously in his designs. The monarchs of Turkey, of Persia, of Cabul, and of Dehli, with difficulty supported their own tottering sway; whilst the Nizam, the Vizier, and the Nuab of the Carnatic were numbered amongst his opponents; and, in his estimation, little better than infidels. The talents, activity, and courage of Tipu, all sunk before the disciplined valour, and enlightened combination of an European army; yet it appears probable, that if the English had possessed no dominion in India, this restless and enterprizing prince might have founded an empire, vast as his ambition. Cruelty and avarice were the worst features of his mind.

Had the reign of this tyrant been of long duration, or had he established a dynasty, it must have added much to the labour of future geographers and chronologers. In his reign, the old Mohamedan era was set aside, and another substituted, which, although from its name it should date from the birth of the prophet, vet as, on that supposition, only thirteen years must have clapsed between the birth of Mohamed and his flight, appears rather to refer to his mission, or the period when he first announced himself as the niessenger of God. ` A new calendar was introduced, and afterwards changed; and, in the courseof his reign, the months twice received new Arabic names. The Indian appellations of most of the considerable places in his dominions were also set aside, and new ones substituted, chiefly derived from

1

Musleen

Álosiem tradition. These acts may possibly have flowed from ünmeaning caprice, or childish vanity; and to these they have usually been attributed. We confess, however, that they appear to us to have formed a part of his general plan for rekindling the latent flame of Moslem valour; and again leading forth the soldiers of Islam, fired with the same enthusiasm which carried the followers of the first Khalifs to conquest and victory. His dreams, his omens, and latterly his pretensions to inspiration, all seem to us to flow from the same source.

The turbulent spirit of the Sultan; and the mystery in which he enveloped his proceedings; by cutting off all communication with the territories subject to the East India Company, rendered him, during a long period, an object of constant solicitude to their governors. Although no way distrustful of the event, should war become necessary, they found themselves obliged, by his imposing attitude; to delay. the execution of reforms, which required for their success a certainty of peace with all the considerable states. Hence every thing that had relation to him acquired an unusual importance in the minds of our Indian statesmen. His present measures, and his future views, both wrapped in equal obscurity from the want of all authentic intelligence from Moisur, sometimes baffled, and always exercised their sagacity. . On the other hand, the tremendous events which, during his reign; convulsed Europe, have probably prevented him from engaging that portion of attention in this country, which his character, designs and resources, really ought to have secured him.

Art. VI. The Isle of Palms, and other Poems. By John Wil

8vo. pp. 415. Edinburgh and London. 1812.

son.

This
This is a new recruit to the company of lake poets ;--and one

who, from his present bearing, promises, we think, not only to do them good service, and to rise to high honours in the corps; but to raise its names and advance its interests even among the tribes of the unbelievers. Though he wears openily the badge of their peculiarities, and professes the most humble devotion to their great captain, Mr Wordsworth, we think he has kept clear of several of the inults that may be imputed to his preceptors; and assumed, upon me whole, a more attractive and conciliating air, than the leaders he has chosen to follow. He has the same predilection, indeed, for engrafting powerful emotions on ordinary occurrences; and the same tendency to push all fol. Xix, No. 38.

Bb

his emotions a great deal too far—the same disdain of all worldly enjoyments and pursuits—and the same occasional mistakes, as to energy and simplicity of diction, which characterize the works of his predecessors. But he differs from them in this very important particular, that though he does generally endeavour to raise a train of lofty and pathetic sensations upon very trifling incidents and familiar objects, and frequently pursues them to a great height of extravagance and exaggeration, he is scarcely ever guilty of the offence of building them upon a foundation that is ludicrous or purely fantastic. He makes more, to be sure, of a sleeping child, or a lonely cataract--and flies into greater raptures about female purity and moonlight landscapes, and fine dreams, and flowers, and singing-birds--than most other poets permit themselves to do,—though it is of the very essence of poetry to be enraptured with such things :- But he does not break out into any ecstacies about spades or sparrows' eggs-or men gathering leeches--or women in dufte cloaks-or plates and porringers or washing tubs—or any of those baser themes which poetry was always permitted to disdain, without any impeachment of her affability, till Mr Wordsworth thought fit to force her into an acquaintance with them.

Though Mr Wilson may be extravagant, therefore, he is not perverse ; and though the more sober part of his readers may not be able to follow him to the summit of his sublimer sympathies, they cannot be offended at the invitation, or even refuse to grant him their company to a certain distance on the journey. The objects for which he seeks to interest them, are all objects of natural interest; and the emotions which he connects with them, are, in some degree, associated with them in all reflecting minds. It is the great misfortune of Mr Wordsworth, on the contrary, that he is exceedingly apt to make choice of subjects which are not only unfit in themselves to excite any serious emotion, but naturally present themselves to ordinary minds as altogether ridiculous; and, consequently, to revolt and disgust his readers by an appearance of paltry affectation, or incomprehensible conceit. We have the greatest respect for the genius of Mr Wordsworth, and the most sincere veneration for all we have heard of his character ; but it is impossible to contemplate the injury he has done to his reputation by this poor ambition of originality, without a mixed sensation of provocation and regret. We are willing to take it for granted, that the spades and the eggs, and the tubs which he commemorates, actually suggested to him all the emotions and reflexions of which lie has chosen to make them the vehicles; but they surely are not the only objects which have suggested similar emonions; and we really cannot understand why the circuinstance

of

of their being quite unfit to suggest them to any other person, should have recommended them as their best accompaniments in an address to the public. We do not want Mr Wordsworth to write like Pope or Prior, nor to dedicate his muse to subjects which he does not himself think interesting. We are prepared, on the contrary, to listen with a far deeper delight to the songs of his mountain solitude, and to gaze on his mellow pictures of simple happiness and affection, and his lofty sketches of human worth and energy; and we only beg, that we may have these nobler elements of his poetry, without the debasement of childish language, mean incidents, and incongruous images. We will not run the risk of offending him, by binting at the prosperity of Scott, or Campbell, or Crabbe; but he cannot be scandalized, we think, if we refer him to the example of the dutiful disciple and fervent admirer who is now before us; and entreat him to consider whether he may not conscientiously abstain from those peculiarities which even Mr Wilson has not thought it safe to imitate.

Mr Wilson is not free from some of the faults of diction, which we think belong to his school. He is occasionally mystical, and not seldom childish: But he has less of these peculiarities than most of his associates : and there is one more important fault from which, we think, he has escaped altogether. We allude now to the offensive assumption of exclusive taste, judgment and morality which pervades most of the writings of this tuneful brotherhood. There is a tone of tragic, keen and intolerant reprobation in all the censures they bestow, that is not a little alarming to ordinary sinners. Every thing they do not like is accursed, and pestilent, and inhuman; and they can scarcely differ from any body upon a point of criticism, politics or metaphysics, without wondering what a heart he must have; and expressing, not merely dissent, but loathing and abhorrence. Neither is it very difficult to perceive, that they think it barely possible for any one to have any just notion of poetry, any genuine warmth of affection or philanthropy, or any large views as to the true principles of happiness and virtue, who does not agree with them in most of their vagaries, and live a life very nearly akin to that which they have elected for themselves. The inhabitants of towns, therefore, and most of those who are engaged in the ordinary business or pleasures of society, are cast off without ceremony as demoralized and denaturalized beings; and it would evidently be a considerable stretch of charity in these new apostles of taste and wisdom, to believe that any one of this description could have a genuine relish for the beauties of nature-could feel any ardent or devoted attachment to another,-- or even comprehend the great principles Bb2

upon

upon which private and public virtue must be founded.-Mr Wilson, however, does not seem to believe in the necessity of this extraordinary monopoly; but speaks with a tone of indulgent and open sociality, which is as engaging as the jealous and assuming manner of some of his models is offensive. The most striking characteristic, indeed, as well as the great charm, of the volume before us, is the spirit of warm and unaffected philanthropy which breathes over every page of it—that delighted tenderness with which the writer dwells on the bliss of childhood, and the dignity of female innocence-and that young enthusiasm which leads him to luxuriate in the description of beautiful nature and the joys of a life of retirement. If our readers cani contrive to combine these distinguishing features with our general reference of the author to the school of Wordsworth and Southey, they will have as exact a conception of his poetical character as can be necessary to preparė them for a more detailed account of the works that are now offered to their perusal.

The most considerable of these is “ The Isle of Palms,' which, though it engrosses the whole title-page, fills considerably less than half the volume,--and perhaps not the most attractive half. It is a strange, wild story of two lovers that were wrecked in the Indian Sea, and marvellously saved on an uninhabited, but lovely island, when all the rest of the crew were drowned ; --of their living there, in peace and blessedness, for six or seven years—and being at last taken off, with a lovely daughter, who had come to cheer their solitude—by an English ship of war, and landed in the arms of the lacly's mother, . who had passed the long interval of their absence in one unreinitting agony of hope and despair. This, in point of fact, is the whole of the story,—and nearly all the circumstances that are detailed in the four long cantos which cover the first 180 pages of the volume before us: For never, certainly, was there a poem, pretending to have a story, in which there was so little narrative ; and in which the descriptions and reflection's bore such a monstrous proportion to the facts and incidents out of which they arise. This piece is in irregular rhymed versë, like the best parts of Mr Southey's Kehama; to which, indeed, it bears a pretty close resemblance, both in the luxuriance of the descriptions, the tenderness of the thoughts, the copiousness of the diction; and the occasional harmony of the versification, --though it is perhaps still more diffuse and redundant. To some of our readers, this intimation will be quite enough ; but the majority, we believe, will be glad to hear a little more of it. The first canto describes the gallant ship, in the third month

of

« PrécédentContinuer »