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almost forgotten; the fate of the irregular Pindarics of Cowley had terrified the contemporaries of Pope.
But the more remarkable opinion of Pope concerns Shakspeare. He talks of Shakspeare's style as the style of a bad age;' and says that he generally used to stiffen his style with high words and metaphors for the speeches of his kings and great men; he mistook it for a mark of greatness. This is strongest in his early plays; but in his very last, his Othello, what a forced language has he put into the mouth of the duke of Venice?"
This classical severity of taste, however, appears to have been limited to style, and did not touch any of the vital parts of the poetic characters of the two master-spirits; nor has Pope shewn any deficiency of sensibility towards our elder bards. Chaucer delighted him as an exquisite fabler, and painter of manners.read Chaucer still (he says) with as much pleasure as almost any of our poets. He is a master of manners, of description, and the first tale-teller in the true enlivened natural way.' For Spenser, Pope expresses all the sympathy of a true poet. After reading a canto of Spenser two or three days ago to an old lady between seventy and eighty years of age, she said that I had been shewing her a gallery of pictures. She said very right; there is something in Spenser that pleases one as strongly in one's old age as it did in one's youth. I read the Faerie Queene when I was about twelve, with infinite delight; and I think it gave me as much when I read it over about a year or two ago.'-Yet Pope has been held forth to the present age as a traducer of Spenser.
But we forget our prescribed limits,
'Singula dum capti circumvectamur amore,'
and must, however reluctantly, break off.
The last editor of Churchill informs us that this poet once designed a systematic attack on Pope's personal and poetical character, which, that nothing so desirable should be lost, has been fully reserved for the skill and care of Mr. Bowles. Churchill would rave over the bottle at Pope, and regret that 'the little man of Twitn'am' was not alive, that he might have a struggle with him and break his heart.' In a letter to Wilkes he alludes to 'the thunderbolts he was doubly pointing against Pope;' but they burst on his own ill fated head! It appears, however, that Churchill, when he was probably recovering from the maddening effects of sudden popularity, abandoned his foolish design, deeply struck by that warmth of affection with which Pope regarded, and was regarded in his turn by those who knew him and the recanting satirist even suppressed an injurious couplet which he had pointed against his poetic character.
Pope wrought to its last perfection the classical vein of English poetry;
poetry; he inherited, it is true, the wealth of his predecessors, but the splendour of his affluence was his own. Whenever any class, or any form of literature has touched its meridian, Art is left without progressive power; there are no longer inventors or improvers ; excellence is neutralised by excellence, and hence a period of languor succeeds a period of glory. At such a crisis we return to old neglected tastes, or we acquire new ones which in their turn will become old; and it is at this critical period that we discover new concurrents depreciating a legitimate and established genius whom they cannot rival, and finally practising the democratic and desperate arts of a literary Ostracism. In vain, however, would the populace of poets estrange themselves from Pope, and teach that he is deficient in imagination and passion, because, in early youth'He stoop'd to truth, and moralised his song.'
It is not the shadows of the imagination and the spectres of the passions only which are concerned in our poetic pleasures; other sources must be opened, worthy of the dignity and the pride of the Muse; and to instruct and reform, as well as to delight the world by the charm of verse, is only to reassert her ancient prerogative, and to vindicate her glory. A master-poet must live with the language in which he has written, for his qualities are inherent, and independent of periodical tastes. The poet of our age, as well as of our youth, is one on whom our experience is perpetually conferring a new value; and Time, who will injure so many of our poets, will but confirm the immortality of Pope.
ART. VI.-1. An Autumn near the Rhine. 8vo. London. 1819. 2. Travels in the North of Germany. By T. Hodgskin, Esq. 2 vols. 8vo. Edinburgh. 1820.
3. A View of the Agriculture, Manufactures, Statistics, and State of Society of Germany, and Parts of Holland and France; taken during a Journey through those Countries, in 1819. By William Jacob, Esq. F. R. S. 4to. pp. 454. London. London. 1820. 4. Die wichtigsten Leben Momente Karl Ludwig Sands aus Wunsiedel. Nurnberg.
5. Memoirs of Charles Lewis Sand, including a Narrative of the Circumstances attending the Death of Augustus von Kotzebue, Also a Defence of the German Universities. London. 1820, AFTER the turbulent years which the world has lately, wit nessed, a period of fierce contention and discord which has seldom been equalled, it is grievous to reflect, that the example of France, instead of holding out a beacon to other nations, should. appear still to operate as an excitement to revolt, and that, amidst the general restlessness which pervades the minds of the people in
the greater part of the civilized globe, that country should not have escaped from contagion, which hitherto had exhibited no symptoms of the kind. In the course of our observations we shall endeavour to point out the causes which may have led to this state of things-our business, at present, is to shew its existence.
A warmth of heart, an enthusiasm of feeling, a kindness of disposition, which attaches the more strongly the more it is known, a perseverance in intellectual pursuits, and a general honesty in all their dealings with mankind, render the inhabitants of that extensive assemblage of states which Germany comprizes, as a body, one of the most estimable people upon earth. But these very qua lities which we so much admire are liable, on the other hand, to be perverted in the most mischievous manner. The sincerity of the Germans exposes them to be the dupes of others to a dangerous degree; their enthusiasm is apt to evaporate in absurd projects, and their perseverance to degenerate into obstinacy. In the distribution of the elements to the different powers of Europe most competent to wield them, a writer of some celebrity among the Germans has given to the English the empire of the seas; to the French that of the land; and to his countrymen the dominion of the air; and certainly, one of their most distinguished characteris tics is a tendency to speculation rather than to action. The com posure and secrecy of debate on grievances suit the genius of the German better than any sudden exertion for their removal. His imagination dwells with delight on gloom and mystery to the neg lect of all its gayer and more airy fancies, whilst the milk of humankindness with which his bosom may be stored is apt to turn to a mixture of ferocity and sentiment extremely disgusting. Hence this country has at all times been fertile in secret and peculiar associations, into which its natives have entered with an enthusiasm totally unknown in other parts of the world; and which is particularly striking when contrasted with the unfitness for all hidden plots and conspiracies which has been remarked in their neighbours the French.
To that most ancient of all secret associations, Free-Masonry, succeeded those which combined for religious purposes. These again were followed by the Secret Tribunal and the Illuminati, under their several denominations. And thus, in tracing the history of these societies, we shall at once perceive that the Tugendbund of the present day, and others of a similar descrip tion, in Germany, are only branches from the same stock, and derive their origin from a much more ancient date than is generally supposed. They were formed in the outset for purposes purely patriotic, but have since assumed a very different complexion. It must not however be imagined that the different
associated bodies which we have thus briefly recapitulated were all equally pregnant with danger to the community; for the most part, they appear to owe their existence to the pure love of mystery and mysterious union. Some, as the Moravians, met together for motives simply religious; others for philosophical objects, as the Alchemists, and those who, with the Rosicrucians, dealt in the occult sciences. Amongst the Illuminati, it is true, although the greater part were Mystics and Visionaries, like Jacob Behmen and Swedenborg, there appears to have been a class whose ultimate object was political power; and the equality introduced by the institutions of Free-Masonry has certainly had a tendency to encourage the democratic spirit.
It would be equally unjust also to confound with that love of mystery which we have remarked among the Germans that readiness to embark in plots and conspiracies for which the people of the south of Europe have always been distinguished. They proceed altogether from opposite qualities. In the one case, from a restless and designing turn of mind; in the other, from an inert and irresolute disposition. Neither the people nor the literature of Germany are, in our opinion, appreciated as they ought to be in this country. The one is undervalued, the other little known. Disconcerted as we may reasonably be by their phlegm and supineness, the worth which lies beneath escapes our observation, and when fatigued by the length, or disgusted by the sentiment of their compositions, due weight is not given to their intrinsic value.
Our anonymous author appears to have been a good deal under the influence of similar impressions. He has related indeed, in a very lively and entertaining manner, all that he observed during 'An Autumn near the Rhine;' his descriptions are picturesque, and his style of writing agreeable; but the opinions formed from so hasty a glance must in their nature be extremely imperfect, and there is a good deal of carelessness shewn in the composition of his letters as well as in the use of certain words, (such as 'burly,' quaint,' &c.) which are applied to various subjects without much discrimination.
The failings displayed by Mr. Hodgskin in his Travels through the North of Germany are by no means of so venial a description. He is a crazy philosopher of the modern school; gifted with all the shallow plausibility' of candour and philanthrophy which belongs to the patriots of the present day. Every page of his book teems with hacknied and venomous abuse of kings, governments, and standing armies; and whilst he libels without stint or shame the institutions of his own country, and vents his impotent indignation against every thing established either at
home or abroad, he tells us that at Dresden he was considered a Candid!' which we apprehend to be the new name for a Radical Reformer.
As an author his execution is as humble as the pretensions which he announces in his preface: nothing, in fact, can be more deplorable than his attempts at fine writing, or more sickening than the absurd reflections in which he indulges on every incident however trivial. And yet we are not altogether without obligation to Mr. Hodgskin-his narrative, such as we have described it, has occasionally amused us; we like his activity and early rising, and can almost pardon him, whilst trudging his thirty-five or forty miles per day, and, enlivening his solitude with flinging stones at the village curs,' for thinking (as he probably does) that if things were moulded according to his fashion, in the best of all possible worlds,' no intelligent traveller like himself would be compelled to go on foot. The public grievances which he longs so ardently to redress seem to rise before him in proportion to the tedium of his day's journey and we think that we perceive-thatAs his vigour weaker waxes
He d--ns all ministers and taxes.'
Mr. Jacob's volume will, as might be expected from its title, be more interesting to the agriculturist than to any other class of readers. He appears to have traversed the countries he visited with the eye of a farmer, and he has collected, with some degree of care, much useful information relative to the husbandry as well as to the manufactures of Germany. His observations on the state of society, and the political signs in the German hemisphere, are free of all taint from the modern school of philosophy, and bespeak him to be an intelligent, sound-headed, and, what is better than all, sound-hearted man.
Madame de Staël's sensations on crossing the Rhine are given with peculiar elegance and beauty. From the circumstances under which she was placed, they were naturally tinged with a gloom, which imparted new silence and repose to the region she was entering, and 'shed a browner horror over the woods,' whose romantic history appears so powerfully to have captivated her imagination. The author of the first work on our list comes to the subject with calmer feelings, though equally sensible of the transition. 6 It is difficult, (he says) to describe the change of character which many features of the scene present on arriving on the right bank of the Rhine. You appear in another world as you touch the commencement of the sandy plains, which seem to assure you you are in Germany.'
This contrast, however, is perceptible in the transition from more than one of the countries which border upon each other :