Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

for, in an act passed that year, a duty of 8d. is laid on every gallon of “coffee, chocolate, sherbet, and tea,” made and sold. But it is abundantly evident that it was then only beginning to be introduced. The following entry appears in the Diary of Mr. Pepys, secretary to the admiralty :-"September 25. 1661. I sent for a cup of tea (a China drink), of which I had never drunk before.” In 1664, the East India Company bought 2 lbs. 2 oz. of tea as a present for his Majesty. In 1667, they issued the first order to import tea, directed to their agent at Bantam, to the effect that he should send home 100 lbs. of the best tea he could get !-(See the references in Milburn's Orient. Com. vol. ii. p. 530; Macpherson's Hist. of Com. with India, pp. 130–132.) Since then, the consumption seems to have gone on regularly though slowly increasing. In 1689, instead of charging a duty on the decoction made from the leaves, an excise duty of 5s. per lb. was laid on the tea itself.

The great increase that took place in the consumption of tea in 1784 and 1785, over its consumption in the preceding years, is to be ascribed to the reduction that was then effected in the duties. In the nine years preceding 1780, above 180,000,000 lbs. of tea had been exported from China to Europe, in ships belonging to the Continent, and about 50,000,000 lbs. in ships belonging to England. But from the best information attainable, it appears that the real consumption was almost exactly the reverse of the quantities imported; and that while the consumption of the British dominions amounted to above 13,000,000 lbs., the consumption of the Continent did not exceed 5,500,000 lbs. If this statement be nearly correct, it follows that an annual supply of above 8,000,000 lbs. was clandestinely imported.

In consequence partly of the increase of duty, but far more of the conduct pursued by the East India Company in relation to the trade, the consumption of tea, as compared with the population, has been steadily declining since 1800! ...... Instead of an ad valorem duty of 96 per cent., the teas consumed by the lower and middle classes pay, in monopoly price and duty together, à tax of above 300 per cent. on their cost in the market of Hamburgh! Here is the real and sufficient cause of the declining consumption of tea. It never was at. tempted, in any other country, to levy a tax of 325 per cent. on the beverage of the poor, or rather, we should say, on one of the important necessaries consumed by them. Instead of wondering at the decrease of consumption that has taken place, the only thing to excite the surprise of any reasonable man is, that this decrease has not been incomparably greater. Besides its other injurious effects, the exorbitant price of tea has led to its extensive adulteration, and to a great deal of smuggling in the finer qualities. It has also driven the poor to less salubrious stimulants, and is the principal cause of that prevalence of gin drinking which is so much lamented. We venture to affirm that the abolition of the Company's monopoly would do ten times more to promote sobriety and good order among the poor, than the formation of a thousand temperance societies, and the preaching of as many sermons.

· The tea duties have recently declined to less than 3,400,0001.; at an average, however, of the last 14 years, they have amounted to about 3,800,0001. a year. But had tea been supplied under a free system, and government imposed a duty on it equal to the present duty and the increased price caused by the monopoly, it would have produced a revenue of about 5,400,0001.; the balance, or 1,600,0001. a year, being the sum which the monopoly costs this country, exclusive of what it has cost the colonies, and of its influence in raising the duty, and in depressing the trade with China and the East.'

This long extract occupies not quite two pages and a half of the 1150 contained in the volume.

Art. IV. 1. The Messiah. A Poem in Six Books. By Robert

Montgomery, Author of The Omnipresence of the Deity, Satan,

&c. Sm. 8vo. pp. 300. Price 8s. 6d. London, 1832 2. Jonah. A Poem : in Two Parts. 8vo. pp. 24. London, 1832. 3. David. A Poem. 8vo. pp. 32. London, 1831. 4. The Daughter of Jephthah. A Poem. By a Gentleman of Stoke.

8vo. pp. 32. Devonport, 1831. 6 THE Messiah,” by the Author of “ Satan," reads strangely.

1 The facile transition from an infernal to a Divine theme, irresistibly recalls the caustic, wicked satire of Lord Byron upon the Laureat.

· He had written Wesley's life: here, turning round

To Satan, “Sir, I'm ready to write yours,
In two octavo volumes: there's no ground
For fear, for I can choose my own reviewers.

* * * * * * Well, if you,
With amiable modesty decline

My offer, what says Michael ? ”. We have seen, in some edition of Bunyan's Holy War, portraits of Diabolus and King Shaddai placed face to face. Mr. Robert Montgomery must in like manner have intended to furnish us with opposite pendants. By the same Author, Satan,' in conspicuous display, fronts the title-page; together with the attractive words, “Third Edition. And a sentence from the “ University Magazine " informs us, that no conception can be ‘more grand, more truly. sublime,' than Mr. Robert Montgomery's Satan, whose feelings the Poet has displayed with great

power and appalling effect.' To all the admirers of that grand, that sublime poem, to all the purchasers of the first, second, and third editions, we need not recommend the Author's present production, which is of course, if possible, more grand, more powerful, more sublime, more appalling still. What Mr. Robert Montgomery's next theme will be, to what still loftier heights or more profound abyss he will stretch his untiring wing, we cannot venture to surmise. He has long passed the flaming bounds of

place and time,” nor trembled as he gazed. But, having touched the extreme of his elliptical orbit, we suppose that he will, comet like, return nearer to our atmosphere. However this may be, it is not for us to prescribe laws to so brilliant and eccentric a luminary. Why should we hold up our rushlight criticism to the glory of Mr. Robert Montgomery's poetic fame?

In presuming to review the Author's present hyper-Miltonic production, we are conscious of undertaking a work of supererogation. If no other poetry sells in the present day, the works of Robert Montgomery find purchasers, if we may trust advertisements, to the third, fourth, nay, twelfth editions! “Five volumes 6 octavo,' the eager and admiring public have in this way greedily devoured ; and in vain the puny Edinburgh Reviewer has opposed his envious criticism to the discriminating praise of that Arbiter Elegantiarum, the Editor of the Lit. Gaz., the Mæcenas, the Magnus Apollo of our incomparable young bard. Commenta opinionum delet dies, naturæ judicia confirmat.' In this Ciceronic axiom, Mr. Robert Montgomery complacently takes refuge from all attacks, personal or otherwise, translating it, we suppose, thus : Time will efface the comments of criticism, and confirm the decisions of good nature. We admire this elasticity of mind, this sturdy toughness of spirit; and if we could forget the offence that provoked the whipping, we should be ready to pat him on the back for his high mettle, and bid him never mind the smart. A boy is never esteemed a hero, till he has stood a flogging, and shewed, by bearing it as a man, his contempt for the old tyrant his master.

Robert Montgomery is a bold and brave young fellow, and an extremely fortunate one. He is evidently on the best terms with himself, and has apparently fair reason to be on good terms with the world : he should not, therefore, talk about his anonymous foes. He speaks, in the Preface, of those who have misrepresented both his writings and character, in such a way as to imply, that all who have not offered incense to his vanity, have been actuated by personal enmity, and have dealed with him unfairly. It would have been more seemly, more discreet, to acknowledge himself indebted even to that severe criticism by which it is his own fault if he has not profited. But what does he mean by misrepresentations of his character? If the studied deception practised in advertising his first production as a new poem by Montgomery, was justly reprobated as a trick of trade,-if the apparent want of all modest or generous feeling displayed in the assumption of another's fame as a stepping-stone to notoriety, was the subject of indignant remonstrance,-is it for the offender to talk of his character being misrepresented ? These acts, even could they be attributed solely to his publisher, demanded from him a disavowal and an apology. Whether his true name be Gomery or Montgomery, we care not. There was at all events assumption and imposition in the style in which Robert was puffed off as the true and proper Montgomery. Had his genius been as far superior to that of the Author of the World before the Flood, as it is beyond comparison inferior, still, the injustice and the affront would have been inexcusable. The concession of pre-eminence would have been graceful from a youth to his senior, even had that youth been capable of supporting a rivalry. But when the character of him whom alone posterity will know as the Poet Montgomery is taken into account, when it is considered how the most hallowed and tender associations have linked themselves with a name which occurs as the signature to some of the finest devotional poetry in the language,--to hymns which have become the common property of the Universal Church, to say nothing of the alcaic lyrics and other exquisite compositions which first made their Author known to fame, -when these circumstances are borne in mind, we must say, that for a young man to suffer his works to be advertised as those of the Poet Montgomery, is an offence never to be forgiven till there shall have been offered for it some publie apology. If Robert Montgomery lives to be fifty, and to make his five volumes fifteen, this disgrace attaching to his first starting will still cleave to him--dies non delebit-unless he has the manliness to make the best amends in his power for having poached upon another's reputation.

We have no personal knowledge of Mr. Robert Montgomery; we understand that he bears the character of an amiable young man. It is impossible that we could have any prejudice or feel ings of unkindness against him, but such as his own indiscretion has provoked. We wish, for his own sake, he had set himself right with the public, in the preface to this poem, instead of complaining of his anonymous foes. His gift should have been left at the altar, till he had first reconciled himself to those to whom he had given just offence. With more pleasure, perhaps with more impartial feeling, we should then have proceeded to examine his present production. We shall, however, now take leave of the Author of Satan, and will endeavour to dismiss from our mind all recollection of his former works and deeds, in estimating the merits of the poem before us.

The argument may be briefly stated as follows. Book I. is occupied with shewing that the gradual announcement of a Messiah was the primary object of the prophetic scheme. The second Book “is principally devoted to a consideration of the necessity

and probability of a revelation from God, by an argument drawn ' from the nature of the human mind and the destinies of man.'

The third opens with a description of the state of the world at the advent of Messiah, and narrates the circumstances attending the birth and early life of Christ, and the preaching of the Baptist. Book IV. carries on the evangelical narrative through the recorded scenes of Our Lord's baptism, temptation, and entrance upon his public ministry. This is continued through the fifth book, which ends with Our Lord's triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Book VI. describes the Passion, the Resurrection, and the Ascension.; concluding with reflections upon the Redeemer's Second Advent. Thus, the poem naturally divides into two parts; two introductory books purely didactic, and a life of Christ in four books, consisting of the evangelical narrative thrown into the shape of poetry. Our first specimen shall be taken from the description of the Miracle at Nain.

Then to lovely Nain,
By Hermon shaded, o'er whose dazzling snow
A mid-noon burned, the godlike Jesus went.-
Whoe'er thou art, a scene of touching might
And tender beauty, waits thy spirit there.
And yet, how simple ! such as link mankind
Together by unbroken ties of soul,
The glories of the gospel !--- from the heart
They spring, and to the heart alone appeal
With eloquence divine !-Behold, as Noon
Was calming from her hot meridian rage,
And Tabor o'er Esdraelon's verdure threw
A longer shade, where cooling Kishon ran
His midway course, the Lord of Mercy reach'd
The mountain-dell, where Nain of Hermon stands.
But, ere he enter'd, came a mournful troop
In dark procession from the city-gates :
The air was wrung with anguish ; and the dirge
Fell sad and frequent on Messiah's ear!
While midmost, on a mantled bier upborne,
A youth was carried to an early grave;
An only child, the star of widow'd home,
In whose fond ray a mother's spirit lived !-
With what a sense of beautiful delight
Her ear drank in the father's fancied voice,
Still in her son triumphant o'er the tomb !
How tenderly her soul's creative eye
Gazed on the glory of his manly face,
And made each feature all the sire restore
In proud resemblance !-while a sacred hope
Survived, that when her widow'd race was done,
His hand would smooth, his gentle voice attend
Her dying bed ; and tears of filial truth
Fall on the flowers that graced a mother's tomb !

But Heaven had frown'd,- her living star was set,
VOL. VIII.-N.S.

сс

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »