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mounts to sensation, of the freshness and delight of a rural walk, even when he leads us to the wasteful common, which
overgrown with fern, and rough
“ With luxuries of unexpected sweets.” • His rural prospects have far less variety and compass than those of Thomson ; but his graphic touches are more close and minute : not that Thomson was either deficient or undelightful in circumstantial traits of the beauty of nature, but he looked to her as a whole more than Cowper. His genius was more excursive and philosophical. The poet of Olney, on the contrary, regarded human philosophy with something of theological contempt. To his eye, the great and little things of this world were levelled into an equality, by his recollection of the power and purposes of Him who made them. They are, in his view, only as toys spread on the lap and carpet of nature, for the childhood of our immortal being. This religious indifference to the world, is far, indeed, from blunting his sensibility to the genuine and simple beauties of creation ; but it gives his taste a contentment and fellowship with humble things. It makes him careless of selecting and refining his views of nature beyond their casual appearance. He contemplated the face of plain rural English life, in moments of leisure and sensibility, till its minutest features were impressed upon his fancy; and he sought not to embellish what he loved. Hence his landscapes have less of the ideally beautiful than Thomson's ; but they have an unrivalled charm of truth and reality.
• He is one of the few poets, who have indulged neither in de. scriptions nor acknowledgments of the passion of love; but there is no poet who has given us a finer conception of the amenity of female influence. Of all the verses that have been ever devoted to the subject of domestic happiness, those in his winter evening, at the opening of the fourth book of the Task, are perhaps the most beautiful. In perusing that scene of “ intimate delights, " “ fireside enjoyments," and home-born happiness, we seem to recover a part of the forgotten value of existence, when we recognise the means of its blessedness so widely dispensed, and so cheaply attainable, and find them susceptible of description at once so enchanting and so faithful.
• Though the scenes of " The Task " ate laid in retirement, the poem affords an amusing perspective of human affairs. Remote as the poet was from the stir of the great Babel, from the “ confusa sonus Urbis et illætabile murmur," he glances at most of the subjects of public interest which engaged the attention of his contemporaries. VOL. XXXI. NO. 62.
On those subjects, it is but faint praise to say, that he espoused the side of justice and humanity. Abundance of mediocrity of talent is to be found on the same side, rather injuring than promoting the cause, by its officious declamation. But nothing can be further from the stale commonplace and cuckooism of sentiment, than the philanthropic eloquence of Cowper-he speaks“ like one having authority.' Society is his debtor. Poetical expositions of the horrors of slavery may, indeed, seem very unlikely agents in contributing to destroy it; and it is possible that the most refined planter in the West Indies, may look with neither shame nor compunction, on his own image in the pages of Cowper, exposed as a being degraded by giving stripes and tasks to his fellow-creature. But such appeals to the heart of the community are not lost. They fix themselves silently in the popular memory; and they become, at last, a part of that public opinion, which must, sooner or later, wrench the lash from the hand of the oppressor.
But we must now break away at once from this delightful occupation; and take our final farewell of a work, in which, what is original, is scarcely less valuable than what is republished, and in which the genius of a living Poet has shed a fresh grace over the fading glories of so many of his departed brothers. We wish somebody would continue the work, by furnishing us with Specimens of our Living Poets. It would be more difficult, to be sure, and more dangerous; but, in some respects, it would also be more useful. The beauties of the unequal and voluminous writers, would be more conspicuous in a selection; and the different styles and schools of poetry would be brought into fairer and nearer terms of comparison by the mere juxtaposition of their best productions; while a better and · clearer view would be obtained, both of the general progress
and apparent tendencies of the art, than can easily be gathered from the separate study of each important production. The mind of the critic, too, would be at once enlightened and tranquillized by the very greatness of the horizon thus subjected to his · survey, and he would probably regard, both with less enthusiasm and less offence, those contrasted and compensating beauties and defects, when presented together, and as it were in combination, than he can ever do, when they come upon him "in distinct masses, and without the relief and softening of so varied an assemblage. On the other hand, it cannot be dissembled, that such a work would be very trying to the unhappy editor's prophetic reputation, as well as to his impartiality and temper; and would, at all events, subject him to the most furious imputations of unfairness and malignity. In point of courage and candour, we do not know anybody who would do it bet
ter than ourselves: And if Mr Campbell could only impart to us a fair share of his elegance, his fine perceptions, and his conciseness, we should like nothing better than to suspend these periodical lucubrations, and !urnish out a gallery of living bards, to match this exhibition of the departed:
Art. XII. 1. A Letter to Sir SAMUEL ROMILLY, M. P. from
H. BROUGHAM, Esq. M. P. F. R. S. upon the Abuse of Charities. Eleventh Edition. London, Longman & Ridgway.
Edinburgh, Constable. 1818. 2. A Letter to the Right Hon. Sir W. SCOTT, &c. Sc. M. P. for the University of Oxford, in Answer to Mr Broughan's Letter to Sir S. Romilly, upon the Abuse of Charities and Ministerial Patronage, in the Appointments under the late Act.
Fifth Edition. London, Hatchiurd. 1818, 3. A Letter to Henny BROUGHAM, Esq. M. P. F. R. S. in
Reply to the Stricturcs on Winchester College, contained in his Letter to Sir S. ROMILLY, M. P. from the Rev. LISCOMBE
CLARKE, A. M. Fellow of Winchestei College. London, 1818. 4. Vindiciæ Wykehamica ; or, a l'indication of IVinchester Col
lege, in a Letter to II. BROUGIIAN Esq., occasioned by his Letter to Sir S. Romilly, on Charituble Avuses. By the
Rev. W. L. Bowles. London, 1818. 5. A Vindication of the Inquiry into Charitable Abuses, with an
Exposure of the Misrepresentations contained in the Quurterly
Review. London, Longman & Co. 1819. The question discussed in these publications was not natural
ly, we think, a Party question :—and we are sure, if moral evidence can ever be a ground of assurance,—that nothing was further from the mind of the distinguished individual who may be considered as its mover, than that it should ever have become one. His adversaries, however, have done their endeavour-and perhaps not altogether unsuccessfully, to give it that character ;-and, by the help of misrepresentations and personalities, and appeals to prejudices, more lavishly and fearlessly employed than we have ever known them, to seek some aid to their declining cause by an excess of illiberality, which, in common prudence, they ought naturally to have dissembled. The circumstances which have led to this desperate course of hostility are worth tracing; and are highly flattering and consolatory, our the whole, to the friends of liberal opinions—though their immediate effect has been to embitter, and perhaps to protract, this particular discussion.
The spirit of liberty has maile an extraordinary progress within these few years in this country; and with it, of course, a rooted contempt and distrust of its present rulers has manifested itself, and is rapidly spreading in every class of society. They and their retainers are naturally alarmed at this; and be ing very sore and very angry, and very much afraid, they have had recourse, like all other weak rulers in similar circumstances, to the ordinary expedients of bullying and abuse; and given vent to their bile, and proof of their apprehensions, in reviling everything that their adversaries patronize, and endeavouring to crush the germs of a political reformation, in an indiscriminate massacre of all schemes of amendment. The Genius of England has not been asleep, nor her intellect stationary, for the last twenty-five years; nor have the lessons of that memorable period of history been altogether lost on her population. But their progress, and the import of the lesson, were long disguisa! by the War,—and the Alarms and Patronage to which it unluckily gave birth. As soon, however, as these repressing causes were withdrawn, there was a signal manifestation of independent feeling, and of a resolution to resist imposition and abuse. The Property-tax was abolished; and various reductions and retrenchments forced upon the reluctant hands of the Ministers. They rallied indeed for a while, under the base and false pretence of danger to the Constitution, from the prevalence of a de mocratic and revolutionary spirit in the body of the people. But the falsehood of this was triumphantly exposed by the evidence produced on the State trials which ensued; and, above all, by the result of the two elections in Westminster, where, if anywhere, Jacobinism was in power and glory, and where it ultimately appeared, that its adherents were utterly contemptible in numbers, and absolutely null in respect to influence, resources, or authority. The complexion of all the contests, and the general tone and temper of the late elections over the kingdom, demonstrated the same thing; and established, beyond the reach of contradiction, in the first place, that there was no party or noticeable faction in support of what has been termed radi. cal reform or revolution; and, 2dly, that there was a general and growing spirit of opposition to the existing Ministry, and to the paltry, ignorant, and illiberal policy upon which they had generally acted.
That such a spirit should arise at any time, must be an event not a little drcadful to the patrons of established abuses, and rather trying to the temper of the precarious possessors of undeserved power. But that it should arise at a time when there was no special cause of popular discontent-when we were at peace abroad, and rather improving in our financial affairs at home, and when there had been no very recent or signal display either of incapacity or oppression-was, it must be confesseci, still more provoking and alarming; as indicating a great deal too unequivocally that it was the result, not of any momentary irritation or accidental displeasure, but of a cool and enlightened conviction of the demerits of those against whom it was directed, and of a deep and inflexible deterinination no longer to ve their dupes and their victims.
In this unhappy state of the ministerial temper, Mr Brougham, who had previously stated very nearly the same things, with very little opposition, in his place in Parliament, and had been cheered in his preparatory labours by the applauses of overwhelming majorities, thought fit to publish a Letter on the Abuse of Public Charities, to his venerable friend and coadjutor Sir Samuel Romilly, which appeared to us, and we believe to most of its readers, to be remarkable not only for the studious avoidance of any thing like party feeling or political animosity, but for a tone of perfect good humour and even courtesy towards all the individuals on whose conduct he had occasion to animadvert. In this light, too, if we are not very much mistaken, it appeared for some time even to the bulk of the ministerial party: and we can perfectly remember, that it was a common remark among such of them as affected liberality, that they wished Mr B. were always as well employed, and trusted he would succeed in ultimately bringing to justice some of the great embezzlers of the property of the poor. By and by, however, came the defeat at Westminster-and the ominous aspect of the whole country at the general election-and, with these, the alarm and the impotent anger, and the mutual recriminations which belong to such disasters. In bitterness of heart it was then recollected, that Mr Brougham was the most formidable and indefatigable of all their opponents; and it was soon discovered, that to allow any merit, however undeniable, to a person of his description, was in the highest degree dangerous and imprudent--that to admit that there were any abuses, even in the management of private charities, was holding out a perilous encouragement to political reformers—and that it was necessary, therefore, to make a stand, and, repaying forbearance with scurrility, to try what could be done by bold misrepresentations, and bolder appeals to prejudices, to arrest, at least for a season, the progress of a necessary inquiry, and to blacken the character of its most illustrious and disinterested supporters,