Images de page


Still it, lingering, haunts the greenest spot

On memory's waste.
'Twas odour fled

As soon as shed,
'Twas morning's winged dream!
"Twas a light that ne'er can shine again

On life's dull stream!
Oh! 'twas light that ne'er can shine again

On life's dull stream ! Of his grace and facility in narrative, our readers may take the ballad called Eveleen's Bower,' as an example:

« Oh for the hour,

When to Eveleen's bower,
The Lord of the Valley with false vows came!

The moon hid her light

From the Heavens that night,
And wept behind her clouds o'er the maiden's shame.

The clouds past soon

From the chaste cold moon,
And Heaven smild again with her vestal flame!

But none will see the day,

When the clouds shall pass away,
Which that dark hour left upon Eveleen's fame.

The white snow lay

On the narrow path-way,
Where the Lord of the Valley cross'd over the moor!

And many a deep print

On the white snow's tint,
Shew'd the track of his footstep to Eveleen's door.

The next sun's ray

Soon melted away
Every trace of the path where the false Lord came:

But there's a light above,

Which alone can remove That stain upon the snow of fair Eveleen's fame.' Mr. Moore possesses, we think, in an eminent degree, the virtue of poetical spirit, that excellence which redeems so many faults. When his feelings are roused, he pours them out with an eloquent energy, which sweeps along as freely as if there were no shackles of rhyme or metre to confine its movements.

We swear to revenge them !--no joy shall be tasted,

The harp shall be silent, the maiden unwed,
Our halls shall be mute, and our fields shall lie wasted,
Till vengeance is wreak'd on the murderer's head !

Cc 2

[ocr errors]

Yes, monarch! though sweet are our home recollections,

Though sweet are the tears that from tenderness fall,
Though sweet are our friendships, and hopes, and affections,

Revenge on a tyrant is sweetest of all.? Of all the charms, however, which the poetry of these volumes may be thought to possess, there is none so captivating to us, as its genuine tenderness :

• Though the last glimpse of Erin with sorrow I see,

Yet wherever thou art shall seem Erin to me:
In exile thy bosom shall still be my home,

And thine eyes make my climate wherever we roam.' And if there had been no political allusion, we might have recognized, as one of the most affecting poems in the English language, the address of the lover to his mistress :

• When he who adores thee has left but the name

Of his fault and his sorrows behind,
Oh! say, wilt thou weep, when they darken the fame

Of a life, that for thee was resigu'd ?
Yes, weep! and, however my foes may condemn,

Thy tears shall efface their decree,
For Heaven can witness, tho' guilty to them,

I have been but too faithful to thee!
With thee were the dreams of my earliest love,

Ev'ry thought of my reason was thine:
In my last humble pray'r to the Spirit above,

Thy name shall be mingled with mine!
Oh bless'd are the lovers and friends who shall live

The days of thy glory to see:
But the next dearest blessing that Heaven can give,

Is the pride of thus dying for thee! On the whole, the songs accompanying the Irish melodies, contain, together with some faults, a proportion of beauties more numerous and striking than can readily be found in any similar work with which we are acquainted. The author has the merit of setting an example, whichi

, though it may not be easily equalled, will, in all probability, be imitated, and we hope, not without benefit to literary taste and national character.

Art. XII. The Works of the Right Rev. William Warburton,

D.D. Lord Bishop of Gloucester. A New Edition. To which is prefired, a Discourse by way of General Preface; containing some Account of the Life, Writings, and Character of the


Author. By Richard Hurd, D.D. Lord Bishop of Worces

ter. 6 vols. 8vo. London; Cadell and Davies. 1811. THE THE learned and celebrated author of these volumes died in the

year 1779. In 1788 a magnificent edition of his works, of which only 250 copies were printed, issued from the press of Mr. Nichols; and after a lapse of six years, a'. Discourse, by way of General Preface, containing an Account of the Life, Writings, and Character of the Author,' was added by his confidential friend and admirer, the late Bishop of Worcester.

In that interval the learned and eloquent author of a most malignant attack on the right reverend biographer, ironically complimented the editors on their discretion in not venturing upon a larger impression; but as the members of the Warburtonian school died off, the fame of their founder revived; and the growing demands of public curiosity are now gratified by the works

of this extraordinary man in a less expensive and more tangible form.

Warburton was a kind of comet which came athwart the system of the Church of England, at a time when all its movements were proceeding with an uniformity extremely unfavourable to the appearance of such a phænomenon. Accordingly the disturbing force was strongly felt, and it was long before his excentricities were regarded without a degree of terror and aversion, which precluded the operation of curiosity, the chief feeling which his airy and fantastic motions ought to have excited. About the same time the tranquillity of the established church was disturbed in another quarter, and by causes of which the effects have been far more permanent. For while Warburton was speculating, and his adversaries replying; while the attention of the clergy was directed to the nature, rights, and authority of a church, to its commexion and alliance with the state, or to a new and revolting theory, which founded the Revelation given to Moses on the exclusion of the doctrine of a future state, practical religion was in a manner forgotten; preaching had degenerated into mere morality, and the influence of the clergy over their people diminished in proportion. In this state of frigid apathy, as the most tremendous volcanos issue from the region of snow, a violent eruption of fanaticisin took place; and the formal, the timid, and even the sagacious within the pale of the establishment, were now content to receive as an ally against the common enemy, the fantastic but powerful speculator, who had so long been the object of their terror.

The fortunes of this singular man were no less extraordinary than his talents and temper. Though born to a narrow, or rather to no fortune, and at the usual age articled to a country attorney in a remote village, it might indeed have been foreseen, that a genius like с с 3


his, accompanied with indefatigable perseverance, a strong constitution, and an unblushing front, would at no long interval elevate bim to the next rank of his profession, and ultimately, perhaps, to one of its highest honours.

The transition is neither unusual nor difficult; and some of the great ornaments of the judicial bench within our recollection have risen from beginnings equally unpromising. But under circumstances, which in almost every diocese of the kingdom would now preclude a candidate from holy orders, for a man to have started aside into that jealous and exclusive profession, to have rendered himself, by pertinacious application in the solitude of a country benefice, the tirst theologian of the age, and without servility, turbulence, or political connexions properly so called, in short, without any moving cause, but his own transcendent talents, to have raised himself to the highest rank in the church, may well be considered as a phænomenon unparalleled in tranquil times.-We say, in tranquil times, for there have been in the history of the English Church, periods of revolution in which talents far inferior to those of Warburton, successfully exerted in favour of the prevailing party, have been allowed to supersede all the claims of merit purely professional. Under circumstances like these, within the last three centuries the Church of England has seen five priests elevated at one step to the see of Canterbury.

In the latter years of George the Second, indeed, Whig politics had greatly relaxed the old and rigid requirements in the previous education and principles of bishops, and the advancement of Warburton to the see of Gloucester was preceded, at no great distance of time, by that of a medical student to Canterbury, and of a dissenter tó Durham. Still it is matter of admiration, that one situated like Warburton, should in such times have been able to break through the impediments of usage and prejudice. It is insinuated by the right reverend biographer, that an early seriousness of mind determined our author to the ecclesiastical profession. It may be so; but the symptoms of that seriousness were very equivocal afterwards, and the certainty of an early provision from a generous patron in the country may, perhaps, be considered by those who are disposed to assign human conduct to ordinary motives, as quite adequate to the effect. If'not devout, however, he was unquestionably sincere; and in defending the outworks of Christianity, which is certainly consistent with some degree of inattention to the citadel itself, indefatigably useful.

Meanwhile it cannot be unamusing to speculate on what Warburton would have achieved had he held on his original course in the profession of the law.--Acute and positive, presumptuous and unabashed, fond of paradox, and fonder of debate, he would have


bullied at the bar, and dogmatized on the bench; he would have found in almost every statute a meaning which the legislature never intended, and a profundity which his brethren would be unable to comprehend: he would have defined where every thing was plain, and distinguished without the shadow of a difference. Gifted, however, and disposed as Warburton unquestionably was, with an inexhaustible copiousness of invention, and in private conversation, with powers of utterance unusually voluble and expressive, it was expected on his introduction to the House of Lords, that he would have transgressed those rules of delicate and decorous respect which in later times his brethren have usually prescribed to themselves ; but his promotion took place late iu life: the convocation, which in former times had been the preparatory school of episcopal eloquence in parliament, even in his earlier days, subsisted only in its shadow, and the faculty of public extemporaneous speaking, however it might have existed with him by nature, or to whatever degree of perfection it might have been cultivated by him in early life, had in the period of forty years perished by neglect, or been chilled by caution and advancement.

With the life of this wonderful person, as given by his most devoted friend, it is impossible for us to express our entire satisfaction. In truth, it would have been difficult to find a man in the whole compass of English literature competent to the task, excepting the immortal biographer of the English poets. To any writer of his own school, as such, there were certain general objections, and against every individual in the number, particular exceptions might be taken. In the first place, the prejudices of the whole body were excessive, and their views of the subject narrow and illiberal in the extreme. In an age of ability and learned independence, they had erected their leader into a monarch of literature, and whoever presumed to contest his claim was, without ceremony, sacrificed to it, while with the rancour which ever pursues this single species of delinquency, the mangled limbs of the departed enemy were held up with savage derision to the scorn or commiseration of mankind.

But even among the disciples of the Warburtonian school, Hurd assuredly was not the man whom we should have wished to select for the delicate and invidious task of embalming his patron's remains. Subtle and sophistical, elegant, but never forcible, his heart was cold, though his admiration was excessive. He wanted that power of real genius, which is capable of being fired by the contemplation of excellence, till it partakes of the heat and fame of its object. On the other hand, he wanted nothing of that malignity which is incident to the coolest tempers, of that cruel and anatomical faculty, which, in dissecting the character of an antago

« PrécédentContinuer »