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a mild, pleasing, and intelligent race; sober, parsimonious, and where an object is held out to them, most industrious and persevering.' (Vol. ii. p. 307.)
'Of the people, so far as their natural character is concerned, I have been led to form, on the whole, a very favourable opinion. They have, unhappily, many of the vices arising from slavery, from an unsettled state of society, and immoral and erroneous systems of religion. But they are men of high and gallant courage, courteous, intelligent, and most eager after knowledge and improvement, with a remarkable aptitude for the abstract sciences, geometry, astronomy, &c., and for the imitative arts, painting and sculpture. They are sober, industrious, dutiful to their parents, and affectionate to their children, of tempers almost uniformly gentle and patient, and more easily affected by kindness and attention to their wants and feelings than almost any men whom I have met with.' (Vol. ii. p. 369.)
'One fact indeed during this journey has been impressed on my mind very forcibly, that the character and situation of the natives of these great countries are exceedingly little known, and in many instances grossly misrepresented, not only by the English public in general, but by a great proportion of those also, who, though they have been in India, have taken their views of its population, manners, and productions from Calcutta, or at most from Bengal.' (Vol. ii. p. 379.)
'In the same holy city, (Benares,) I visited another college, founded lately by a wealthy Hindoo banker, and intrusted by him to the management of the Church Missionary Society, in which, besides a grammatical knowledge of the Hindoostanee language, as well as Persian and Arabic, the senior boys could pass a good examination in English grammar, in Hume's History of England, Joyce's Scientific Dialogues, the use of the globes, and the principal facts and moral precepts of the Gospel, most of them writing beautifully in the Persian, and very tolerably in the English character, and excelling most boys I have met with in the accuracy and readiness of their arithmetic.' (Vol. ii. p. 388.)
'The different nations which I have seen in India, (for it is a great mistake to suppose that all India is peopled by a single race, or that there is not as great a disparity between the inhabitants of Guzerat, Bengal, the Dooab, and the Deckan, both in language, manners, and physiognomy, as between any four nations in Europe,) have of course, in a greater or lesser degree, the vices which must be expected to attend on arbitrary government, a demoralizing and absurd religion, and (in all the independent states, and in some of the districts which are partially subject to the British) a laxity of law, and an almost universal prevalence of intestine feuds and habits of plunder. Their general character, however, has much which is extremely pleasing to me; they are brave, courteous, intelligent, and most eager after knowledge and improvement, with a remarkable talent for the sciences of geometry, astronomy, &c. as well as for the arts of painting and sculpture. In all these points they have had great difficulties to struggle with, both from the want of models, instruments, and elementary instruction; the indisposition, or rather the horror, entertained, till lately, by many among their European masters, for giving them instruction of any kind; and now from the real difficulty which exists of translating works of science into languages which have no corresponding terms. More has been done, and more successfully, to obviate these evils in the Presidency of Bombay, than in any part of India I have yet visited, through the wise and liberal policy of Mr Elphinstone, to whom this side of the Peninsula is also indebted for some very important and efficient improvements in the administration of justice, and who, both in amiable temper and manners, extensive and various information, acute good sense, energy, and application to business, is one of the most extraordinary men, as he is quite the most popular governor, that I have fallen in with.' (Vol. ii. pp. 409-10.
These extracts have extended to a greater length than we anticipated; but we are quite sure that our readers will require no apology for having had them brought under their notice. They afford the most convincing proofs of the soundness of the proposition advanced by Mr Colebrook and Mr Rickards, that there is nothing in the nature of Indian society, in the institution of castes, as now existing, or in the habits or customs of the natives, to hinder them from advancing in civilization and wealth.
It is needless, after what we have already staled, to direct the attention of our readers to Mr Rickards' work. Interesting and valuable, however, as the Part now before us undoubtedly is, we expect that those parts in which Mr Rickards proposes to discuss the Revenue Systems, acted upon in India, and the influence of the Company's commercial and political monopoly, will have still higher claims to attention. There are few so well qualified as Mr Rickards for the discussion of these important questions, or to whose labours we should look forward with higher expectations.
Art. III.— The Fall of Ninevek, a Poem. By Edwin Atiif.rStone. The First Six Books. 8vo. Pp. 288. London, 1828.
"\\te have been rather in an odd state for some years, we think, both as to Poets and Poetry. Since the death of Lord Byron, there has been no king in Israel; and none of his former competitors now seem inclined to push their pretensions to the vacant throne. Scott, and Moore, and Southey, appear to have nearly renounced verse, and finally taken service with the Muses of prose;—Crabbc, and Coleridge, and Wordsworth, we fear, are burnt out;—and Campbell and Rogers repose under their laurels, and, contented each with his own elegant little domain, seem but little disposed either to extend its boundaries, or. to
add new provinces to their rule. Yet we cannot say either that this indifference may be accounted for by the impoverished state of the kingdom whose sovereignty is thus in abeyance, or that the interregnum has as yet given rise to any notable disorders. On the contrary, we do not remember a time when it would have been a prouder distinction to be at the head of English poetry, or when the power which every man has to do what is good in his own eyes, seemed less in danger of being abused. \ Three poets of great promise have indeed been lost, ' in the morn and 'liquid dew of their youth'—in Kirke White, in Keats, and in Pollok; and a powerful, though more uncertain genius extinguished, less prematurely, in Shelley. Yet there still survive writers of great talents and attraction. The elegance, the tenderness, the feminine sweetness of Felicia Hemans—the classical copiousness of Milman—the facility and graceful fancy of Hunt, though defrauded of half its praise by carelessness and presumption—and, besides many others, the glowing pencil and gorgeous profusion of the author more immediately before us.
There is no want, then, of poetry among us at the present day; nor even of very good and agreeable poetry. But there are no miracles of the art—nothing that marks its descent from 'the highest heaven of invention'—nothing visibly destined to inherit immortality. Speaking very generally, we would say, that our poets never showed a better or less narrow taste, or a juster relish of what is truly excellent in the models that lie before them, and yet have seldom been more deficient in the powers of creative genius; or rather, perhaps, that with,an unexampled command over the raw materials of poetry, and a true sense of their value, they have rarely been so much wanting in the skill to work them up to advantage—in the power of attaching human interests to sparkling fancies, making splendid descriptions subservient to intelligible purposes, or fixing the fine and fugitive spirit of poetry in some tangible texture of exalted reason or sympathetic emotion. The improvement in all departments is no doubt immense, since the days when Hoole and Hayley were thought great poets. But it is not quite clear to us, that the fervid and florid Romeos of the present day, may not be gathered, in no very long course of years, to the capacious tomb of these same ancient Capulets. They are but shadows, we fear, that have no independent or substantial existence—and though reflected from grand and beautiful originals, have but little chance to maintain their place in the eyes of the many generations by whom those originals will yet be worshipped—but who will probably prefer, each in their turn, shadows of their own creating. The present age, we think, has an hundred times more poetry, and more true taste for poetry, than tbat which immediately preceded it,—and of which, reckoning its duration from the extinction of the last of Queen Anne's wits down to about thirty odd years ago, we take leave to say that it was, beyond all dispute, the most unpoetical age in the annals of this or any other considerable nation. Nothing, indeed, can be conceived more dreary and sterile than the aspect of our national poetry from the time of Pope and Thomson, down to that of Burns and Cowper. With the exception of a few cold and scattered lights—Gray, Goldsmith, Warton, Mason, and Johnson—men of sense and eloquence occasionally exercising themselves in poetry out of scholar-like ambition, but not poets in any genuine sense of the word —the whole horizon was dark, silent, and blank; or only presented objects upon which it is now impossible to look seriously without shame. * These were the happy days of Pye and Whitehead—of Hoole and of Hayley—and then, throughout the admiring land, resounded the mighty names of Jerningham and Jago, of Edwards, of Murphy, of Moore, and of others whom we cannot but feel it is a baseness to remember.
The first man who broke * the numbing spell' was Cowper, —(for Burns was not generally known till long after,)—and, though less highly gifted than several who came after him, this great praise should always be remembered in his epitaph. He is entitled, in our estimation, to a still greater praise; and that is, to the praise of absolute and entire originality. Whatever he added to the resources of English poetry, was drawn directly from the fountains of his own genius, or the stores of his own observation. He was a copyist of no style—a restorer of no style; and did not, like the eminent men who succeeded him, merely recall the age to the treasures it had almost forgotten, open up anew a vein that had been long buried in rubbish, or revive a strain which had already delighted the ears of a more aspiring generation. That this, however, was the case with the poets who immediately followed, cannot, we think, be reasonably doubted; and the mere statement of the fact, seems to us sufficiently to explain the present state of our poetry—its strength and its weakness—its good taste and its deficient power—its resemblance to works that can never die—and its own obvious liability to the accidents of mortality.
• We ought, perhaps, to have made an exception for Aikenside, who, though often weak and pedantic, has passages of powerful poetry—and for Collins, a great master of fine and delicate diction, though poor in thought and matter. But we will make none for Churchill or Slienstone.
Vol. Xlviii. No. 95. i)
It has advanced beyond the preceding age, simply by going back to one still older; and has put its poverty to shame only by unlocking the hoards of a remoter ancestor. It has reformed merely by restoring; and innovated by a systematic recurrence to the models of antiquity. Scott went back as far as to the Romances of Chivalry; and the poets of the lakes to the humbler and more pathetic simplicity of our early ballads; and both, and all who have since adventured in poetry, have drawn, without measure or disguise, from the living springs of Shakspeare and Spenser, and the other immortal writers who adorned the glorious era of Elizabeth and James.
It is impossible to value more highly than wc do the benefits of this restoration. It is a great thing to have rendered the public once more familiar with these mighty geniuses—and, if we must be copyists, there is nothing certainly that deserves so well to be copied. The consequence, accordingly, has been, that, even in our least inspired writers, we can again reckon upon freedom and variety of style, some sparks of fancy, some traits of nature, and some echo, however feeble, of that sweet melody of rhythm and of diction, which must linger for ever in every car which has once drank in the music of Shakspeare; while, in authors of greater vigour, we are sure to meet also with gorgeous descriptions and splendid imagery, tender sentiments expressed in simple words, and vehement passions pouring themselves out in fearless and eloquent declamation.
But with all this, it is but too true that we have still a feeling that we are glorying but in secondhand finery and counterfeit inspiration; and that the poets of the present day, though they have not only Taste enough to admire, but skill also to imitate, the great masters of an earlier generation, have not inherited the Genius that could have enabled them either to have written as they wrote, or even to have come up, without their example, to the level of their own imitations. The heroes of our modern poetry, indeed, are little better, as we take it, than the heroes of the modern theatres—attired, no doubt, in the exact costume of the persons they represent, and wielding their gorgeous antique arms with an exact imitation of heroic movements and deportment— nay, even evincing in their tones and gestures, a full sense of inward nobleness and dignity—and yet palpably unfit to engage in any feat of actual prowess, and incapable, in their own persons, even of conceivuig what they have been so well taught to personate. We feel, in short, that our modern poetry is substantially derivative, and, as geologists say of our present earth, of secondary formation—made up of the debris of a former world,