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few days afterwards at thirty-eight. I the Government was twenty-nine. Yet His wife was lying-in of her fifth child English Jacobinism was taken by the at the time of her husband's funeral. throat and held down :
“The Habeas Corpui Act was repeatedly III.
suspended. ... Writers who propounded docA sad life, most often the life of the trines adverse to monarchy and aristocracy, men in advance of their age; it is not
were proscribed and punished without mercy.
It was hardly safe for a republican to avow his wholesome to go too quick. Burns political creed over his beefsteak and his bottle was so much in advance, that it took of port at a chophouse. . . . Men of cultivated forty years to catch him. At this time mind and polished manners were in Scotland), in England, the conservatives and the been treated as mere misdemeanours, sent to
for offences which at Westminster would have believers took the lead before skeptics herd with felons at Botany Bay.” and revolutionists. The constitution was liberal, and seemed to be a guaran- vated that of the Government. If any
But the intolerance of the nation aggra. tee of rights; the church was popular, and seemed to be the support of mor
one had aared to avow democratic sen ality. Practical capacity and specula
timents, he would have been insulted. tive incapacity turned the mind aside. The papers represented the innovators froin the propounded innovations, and
as wretches and public enemies. The bound them down to the established mob in Birmingham burned the houses : order. The people found themselves of Priestley and the Unitarians. And in well off in their great feudal house, the end Priestley was obliged to leave widened and accommodated to modern England. needs; they thought it beautiful, they
New theories could not arise in this were proud of it; and national instinct, society armed against new theories. like public opinion, declared against the Yet the revolution made its entrance : innovators who would throw it down to it entered disguised, and through an in shock changed this instinct into a pas that were transformed, nor philosophical build it up again. Suddenly a violent direct way, so as not to be recognized
It was not social ideas, as in France, sion, and this opinion into fanaticism. The French Revolution, at first admired ideas as in Germany, but literary ideas; as a sister, had shown itself a fury and a
the great rising tide of the modern mind Pitt declared in Parliament, which elsewhere overturned the whole " that one of the leading features of edifice of human conditions and specthis (French) Government was the ex
ulations succeeded here only at first in tinction of religion and the destruction changing style and taste. It was a slight of property."
:"* Amidst universal ap- change, at least apparently, but on the plause, the whole thinking and influen. whole of equal value with the others; tial class rose to stamp out this party for this renovation in the manner of of robbers, united brigands, atheists writing is a renovation in the manner of on principle; and Jacobinism, sprung
thinking : : the one led to all the rest, as from blood to sit in purple, was per a central pivot being set in motion secuted even in its child and champion causes all the indented wheels to move Buonaparte, who is now the soul or
also. gan of all that was formerly dangerous
Wherein consists the reform of and pestiferous in the revolution.” | style ? Before defining it, I prefer to Under this national rage liberal ideas exhibit it; and for that purpose we dwindled; the most illustrious friends must study the character and life of a of Fox-Burke, Windham, Spencer man who was the first to use it, without abandoned him : out of a hundred and any system-William Cowper : for lis sixty partisans in the House of Com- talent is but the picture of his characmons, only fifty remained to him The ter, and his poems but the echo of his great Whig párty seemed to be disap- life. He was a delicate, timid chord, of pearing; and in 1799, the strongest
a tremulous sensibility, passionately minority that could be collected against tender, who, having lust his mother at
six, was almost' at once subjected to * The Speeches of William Pitt, 2d ed. 3 vols., 1808, ii. 17, Jan 21, 1794.
* Mätauly'. Works, vü. ; Life of William # Ibid. ii. 152, Feb. 17. rica
the fagging and brutality of a public and he was placed in an asylum, whilst school. These, in England, are pecu. “his conscience was scaring him, and liar: a boy of about fifteen singled him the avenger of blood pursuing him”. out as a proper object upon whom he to the extent even of thinking himself might practice the cruelty of his tem- damned, like Bunyan and the first per; and the poor little fellow, cease- Puritans. After several months his lessly ill treated, “conceived,” he says, reason returned, but it bore traces of “such a dread of his (tormentor's) the strange lands where it had jour. figure, that I well remember neyed alone. He remained sad, like a being afraid to lift my eyes upon him man who thought himself in disfavor higher than his knees; and that I knew with God, and felt himself incapable of hin better by his shoe-buckles than by an active life. However, a clergyman, any other part of his dress." * At the Mr. Unwin, and his wife, very pious age of nine melancholy seized him, I and very regular people, had taken not the sweet reverie which we call by charge of him. He tried to busy him. that name, but the profound dejection, self mechanically, for instance, in mak. gloomy and continual despair, the ing rabbit-hutches, in gardening, and in horrible malady of the nerves and the taming hares. He employed the rest soul which leads to suicide, Puritanism, of the day like a Methodist, in reading and madness. Day and night I was Scripture or sermons, in singing hymns upon the rack, lying down in horror, with his friends, and speaking of spirit. and rising up in despair." +
ual matters. This way of living, the The evil changed form, diminished, wholesome country air, the maternal but did not leave him. As he had only tenderness of Mrs. Unwin and Lady a small fortune, though born of a high Austen, brought him a few gleams of family, he accepted, without reflection, light. They loved him so generously the offer of his uncle, who wished to and he was so lovable! Affectionate give him a place as clerk of the jour- full of freedom and innocent raillery nals of the House of Lords; but he with a natural and charming imagina had to undergo an examination, and tion, a graceful fancy, an exquisite del. his nerves were unstrung at the very icacy, and so unhappy! He was one of idea of having to speak in public. For those to whom women devote them. six months he tried to prepare him- selves, whom they love maternally, self; but he read without understand- first from compassion, then by attracing. His continual misery brought on tion, because they find in them alone at last a nervous fever. Cowper writes the consideration, the minute and tenof himself: "The feelings of a man der attentions, the delicate observances when he arrives at the place of execu- which men's rude nature cannot give tion, are probably much like mine, them, and which their more sensitive every time I set my foot in the office, nature nevertheless craves. These which was every day, for more than a sweet moments, however, did not last. half year together. $ In this situation, He says : “My mind has always a mel such a fit of passion has sometimes ancholy cast, and is like some pools I seized me, when alone in my chambers, have seen, which, though filled with a that I have cried out aloud, and cursed black and putrid water, will neverthe the h:ur of my birth; lifting up my less in a bright day reflect the sun eyes tu heaven not as a suppliant, but beams from their surface.” He smiled in the hellish spirit of rancorous re- as well as he could, but with effort, proach and blasphemy against my it was the smile of a sick man who Maker.” The day of examination knows himself incurable, and tries to · came on: he hoped he was going mad, forget it for an instant, at least to make ir that he might escape from it; and others forget it: “Indeed, I wonder as his reason held out, he thought that a sportive thought should ever even of “self-murder.” At last, “in a knock at the door of my intellects, and horrible dismay of soul,” insanity came, still more that it should gain admit• The Works of W. Cowper, ed. Southey, trude himself into the gloomy chamber
tance. It is as if harlequin should in 3 vols. 1843 + lbid. i. 18.
| Ibid. 81.
• Ibis 99
where a corpse is deposited in state. spring, which polishes the blue pebHis antic gesticulations would be un- bles,--this is enough to fill him with seasonable at any rate, but more spe- sensations and thoughts. He returned, cially so if they should distort the fea- sat in his little summer-house, as large tures of the mournful attendants into as a sedan-chair, the window of which laughter. But the mind, long wearied opened out upon a neighbor's orchard, with the sameness of a dull, dreary and the door on a garden full of pinks, prospect, will gladly fix his eyes on roses, and honeysuckle. In this nest any thing that may make a little variety he labored. In the evening, beside his in its contemplations, though it were friend, whose needles were working for but a kitten playing with her tail.”* him, he read, or listened to the drowsy In reality, he had to: delicate and too sounds without. Rhymes are born in pure a heart: pious, irreproachable, such a life as this. It sufficed for him, austere, he thought himself unworthy and for their birth. He did not need of going to church, or even of praying a more violent career : less harmonious to God. He says also: As for hap- or monotonous, it would have upset piness, ne that once had communion him; impressions small to us were with his Maker must be more frantic great to him ; and in a room, a garden, than ever I was yet, if he can dream of he found a world. In his eyes the finding it at a distance from Him.” + smallest objects were poetical. It is And elsewhere: “ The heart of a evening; winter ; the postman comes Christian, mourning and yet rejoicing,
“ The herald of a noisy world, (is) pierced with thorns, yet wreathed with spattered boots, strapp'd waist and about with roses. I have the thorn frozen locks ; without the roses. My brier is a wintry News from all nations lumbering at his back. one; the flowers are withered, but the True to his charge, the close-packed load be
hind, thorn remains." On his deathbed, Yet careless what he brings, his one concern when the clergyman told him to confide is to conduct it to the destined inn ; in the love of the Redeemer, who de And, having dropped the expected bag, pass sired to save all men, he uttered a pas. He whistles as he goes, light-hearted wretch, sionate cry, begging him not to give Cold and yet cheerful messenger of grief, him such consolations. He thought Perhaps to thousands, and of joy to some." himself lost, and had thought so all At last we have the precious “closehis life. One by one, under this terror packed load;" we open it; we wish to all his faculties gave way. Poor charm-hear the many noisy voices it brings ing soul, perishing like a frail flower from London and the universe: transplanted from a warm land to the snow: the world's temperature was too
Now stir the fire, and close the shutters tasy,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round, rough for it; and the moral law, which
And while the bubbling and loud-hissing uro should have supported it, tore it with Throws up a steamy column, and the cups, its thorns.
That cheer but not inebriate, wait ou each, Such a man does not write for the
So let us welcome peaceful evening in." + pleasure of making a noise. He made Then he unfolds the whole contents of verses as he painted or worked at his the newspape -politics, news, even bench to occupy himself, to distract advertisements -not as a mere realist, his mind. His soul was too full ; he like so many writers of to-day, bus as a need not go far for subjects. Picture poet; that is, as a man who discovers this pensive figure, silently wandering a beauty and harmony in the coals of and gazing along the banks of the a sparkling fire, or the movement of Ouse. He gazes and dreams. A bux- fingers over a piece of wool-work; fo. om peasant girl, with a basket on her such is the poet's strange distinction arm; a distant cart slowly rumbling on Objects not only spring up in his mind behind horses in a sweat'; a sparkling more powerful and more precise than
they were of themselves, and beforo • The Works of w. Cowper, ed. Southey ; l entering there; but also, once Letter to the Rev. John Newton, Joly sa ceived, they are purified, ennobled 1780.
| Ibich Letter to Rev. J. Newton, August 5, * The Task, iv. · The Winter Evening. 1766.
colored, like gross vapors, which, be- hazard—the Sofa, and speaks about ing transfigured by distance and light, it for a couple of pages; then he goes change into silky clouds, lined with whither the bent of his mind leads him, purple ard gold. For him there is describing a winter evening, a number a charn, in the rolling folds of the va- of interiors and landscapes, mingling por sent up by the tea-ur.., sweetness here and there all kinds of moral re in the concord of guests assembled flections, stl.es, dissertations, opin: around the same table in the same iors, confidences, like a man who house. This one expression, 'News thinks aloud before the most intimate from India,” causes him to see India and beloved of his friends.
I et us itself, " with her plumed and jewelled look at his great poem, the Task. Jurban."
." * The mere notion of “ex- “ The best didactic poems, Pays cise '' sets before his eyes“ ten thou. Southey, “when compared with the sand casks, for ever dribbling out their Task, are like formal gardens in com: base contents, touched by the Midas parison with woodland scenery." If finger of the State (which), bleed gold we enter into details, the contrast is for ministers to sport away.” | Strictly greater still. He does not seem to speaking, nature is to him like a gal. dream that he is being listened to; he lery of splendid and various pictures, only speaks to himself. He does not which to us ordinary folk are always dwell on his ideas, as the classical covered up with cloths. At most, writers do, to set them in relief, and now and then, a rent suffers us to im- make them stand out by repetitions agine the beauties hid behind the unin- and antitheses ; he marks his sensa. teresting curtains; but the poet raises tion, and that is all. We follow this these curtains, one and all, and sees a sensation in him as it gradually springs picture where we see but a covering. up; we see it rising from a former one, Such is the new truth which Cowper's swelling, falling, remounting, as we see poems brought to light. We know vapor issuing from a spring, and infrom him that we need no longer go to sensibly rising, unrolling, and developGreece, Rome, to the palaces, heroes, ing its shifting forms. Thought, which and academicians, in search of poetic in others was congealed and rigid, beobjects. They are quite near us. If comes here mobile and fluent ; the we see them not, it is brcause we do rectilinear verse grows flexible; the not know how to look for them; the noble vocabulary widens its scope to fault is in our eyes, not in the things. let in vulgar words of conversation and We may find poetry, if we wish, at our life. At length poetry has again be fireside, and amongst the beds of our come lifelike; we no longer listen to kitchen-garden.
words, but we feel emotions; it is no Is the kitchen-garden indeed poet. longer an author, but a man who ical? To-day, perhaps ; but to-mor: speaks. His whole life is there, perrow, if my imagination is barren, I fect, beneath its black lines, without shall see there nothing but carrots and falsehood or concoction; his whole uther k tchen stuff. It is my feelings effort is bent on removing falsehood which are poetical, which I'must re- and concoction. When he describes spect, as the most precious flower of his little river, his dear Ouse, “slow beauty. Hince a new style. We need winding through a level plair of no lon?:, after the old oratorical fash- spacious meads, with cattle sprinkled ion, box up a subject in a regular plan, o'er," * he sees it with his inner eye ; divide it into symmetrical portions, ar- and each word, cæsura, sound, answers range ideas into files, like the pieces to a change of that inner vision. It is on a draught-board. Cowper takes the so in all his verses; they are full of first subject that comes to hand-one personal emotions, genuinely felt, never which Lady Austen gave him at has: altered or disguised; on the contrary,
* The Tase, iv. ; The Winter Evening. fuily expressed, with their transient 1 lbid.
shades and fluctuations; in a word, zu Crabbe may also be considered one of the they are, that is, in the process of pro masters and renovators of poetry, but his style 18 too classical, and he has been rightly nick- . duction and destruction, not all com named "a Pope in worsted ckings."
+ The Task, i. ; T'ko Sefa.
plete, motionless, and fixed, as the old years, the tree, brought back into the style represented them. Herein con- pale of Church and State, became, Col. sists the great revolution of the modern eridge, a Pittite journalist, Wordsworth style. The mind, outstripping the a distributor of stamps, and Southey, known rules of rhetoric and eloquence, poet-laureate; all zealous converts, depenetrates into profound psychology, cided Anglicans, and intolerant Conserand no longer employs words except to vatives. In point of taste, however, they nark emotions.
had advanced, not retired. They had
violently broken with tradition, and IV.
leaped over all classical culture to take Now * appeared the English roman- their models from the Renaissance and ic school, closely resembling the the middle age. One of their friends, French in its doctrines, origin, and Charles Lamb, like Saint-Beuve, had alliances, in the truths which it discovo discovered and restored the sixteenth ered, the exaggerations it committed, century. The most unpolished dram. and the scandal it excited. The fol: atists, like Marlowe, seemed to these lowers of that school formed a sect, a men admirable ; and they sought in sect of “dissenters in poetry," who the collections of Percy and Warton, spoke out aloud, kept themselves close in the old national ballads and ancient together, and repelled settled minds by poetry of foreign lands, the fresh and the audacity and novelty of their the primitive accent which had been wantories. For their foundation were at-ing in classical literature, and whose tributed to them the anti-social princi- presence seemed to them to be a sigr ples and the sickly sensibility of Rous- of truth and beauty.
Above every seau; in short, a sterile and misan- other reform, they labored to destroy thropical dissatisfaction with the pres- the grand aristocrátical and oratorical ent institutions of society. Southey, style, such as it sprang from methodi. one of their leaders, began by being a cal analyses and court polish. They Socinian and Jacobin ; and one of his proposed to adapt to poetry the ordí. first poems, Wat Tyler, cited the glory nary language of conversation, such as of the past Jacquerie in support of the is spoken in the middle and lower present revolulion. Another, Coler classes, and to replace studied phrases idge, a poor fellow, who had served as and a lofty vocabulary by natural tones a dragoon, his brain stuffed with in- and plebeian words. In place of the coherent reading and humanitarian classical mould, they tried stanzas, son: dreams, thought of founding in Amer. nets, ballads, blank verse, with the ica a communist republic, purged of roughness and subdivisions of the kings and priests; then, having turned primitive poets. They adopted or ar Unitarian, steeped himself at Göttingen ranged the metres and diction of the in heretical and mystical theories on thirteenth and sixteenth centuries. the Logos and the absolute. Words- Charles Lamb wrote an archaic trag. worth himself, the third and most mod- edy, John Woodvil, which we might erate, had begun with enthusiastic fancy to have been written during verses against kings :
Elizabeth's reign. Others, like SouG:eat God,
; : grant that every sceptred they, and Coleridge, in particular, child of clay,
manufactured totally new rhythms, as W’no cries presumptuous, ‘Here the flood happy at times, and at times also as May in its progress see thy guiding hand,
unfortunate, as those of Victor Hugo : And cease the acknowledge purpose to for instance, a verse in which accents, withstand ;
and not syllables, were counted ;* Or, swept in anger from the insulted shore, Sirk with his servile bands, to rise no manifest abortions, and original inver
singular medley of confused attempts, more !" But these rages and aspirations did not tions. The plebeian having doffed the last long; and at the end of a few borrowed cne piece of his Jress from
aristocratical costume, sought another 1793-1794. 1 Wordsworth's Works, new edition, 1870, 6 * In Englisd poetry as since modified no vols.; Descriptive Shetches during a Pedes- one dreams of limiting
the number of syllabien trian Tour, i. 42.
even in blank verso.TR.