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« Mrs. E. Groves. “ Not particularly, my love."
Mr. James. “ Poor old creature! I pity the widow; I think I shall go and see her ; [turning short as he was going ont of the door.] Agnes, child, I hope that bell-tolling did not depress your spirits ?"
Mrs. E Groves. [Looking very earnestly at him.] “ My dear, who is Agnes Groves, that she is never to hear a bell toll? Do not spoil a child who is really disposed to modesty and humility. So far from viewing this circumstance as unfavourable on her first entrance here, I think it may prove of the greatest use to her." • Mr. James. “ I really cannot see it in that light."
Agnes. “ I can, uncle. I understand my aunt completely." • She rose, and fondly slipping her arm within his, led him up and down the library. “Shall I tell you ?” • Mr. James. “ Yes, if you will."
Agnes. “ She thinks her Agnes very likely to be spoiled by a kind uncle, and many more indulgent friends ; she thinks it probable she may look too low for happiness; and the tolling of that bell may serve to remind her that this is not her rest."
• Mr. James. “ Child, why don't you hold your head up? Do you think it necessary to stoop to me? or is it a mere act of condescension, whilst you are informing my judgment? If so, condescend no more ; but let me see if you are grown since we parted."
Agnes. “ There uncle ; [drawing herself to her full height.] There, you see."
• Mr. James. “ Well, my dear, you are quite tall enough, so that will do; and I will go and see this poor woman.”
"“ What a dear excellent creature that is, Aunt Groves !” said Agnes, as she saw him pass the window. “ He is one that does good by stealth, and blushes to find it fame." “ My love, I differ from you; but I should not express this difference, were it not for your sake, Agnes. I do not wish you to get a taste for an extreme of secrecy, even in the kind acts you perform. We are to · let our light shine before men;' certainly not for our own glory : but there is danger in this studied secrecy. There is danger of our attaching to it some idea of merit. You would see no peculiar beauty in slighting the commands of your dear earthly friends openly, and in secretly performing them ; let all your conduct be natural, Agnes. When once obedience to God is your delight, you will no longer think of the opinion of man.” “But is there not a text, my dear Aunt, “Let not your left hand know what your right hand doeth"" "Undoubtedly; and I think it is like many other texts, a guard against the opposite extreme. Your dear uncle James is a most improving character ; but this feature is so strong in him, that his originality appears in every act; and though in him we expect it, for us to imitate would be both awkward and atfected. We have but one safe model, and that is our Saviour. Let us endeavour, my child, to follow him earnestly and sincerely. I remember an observation of a wise and pious friend of mine. that in Jesus nothing was prominent; no excellence pre-eminent but goodness. He was remarkable for nothing. Every attribute of his character was in harmony, and none predominated.”
Art. VI. Idolatry; a Poem in Five Parts. By the Rev. William
Swan, Missionary at Selenginsk. Part V. 12mo. pp. 68. Glasgow.
1832. W E hope that the time will come round in which the poet
shall again stand a fair chance of being listened to, if he charm wisely ;' when manly sentiment, and sterling sense, and natural description, such as gave to the poetry of Cowper at one time its charm and its authority, will redeem verse from the depreciation and powerlessness into which it appears to have sunk; when readers will again have leisure to feel and to sympathize, and to cultivate those sentiments which are of slow growth, but which alone bear the purest pleasures. We should regard it as a most encouraging indication of a return to a healthy state of public feeling, were Cowper as much read, and as frequently cited, as Lord Byron. But the fact is, the age is too busy to think, and, amid the din of the ten thousand wheels of the world's machinery, has no car for music, no heart for poetry. That we are not slandering the times, the state of general literature will, we think, sufficiently evince. Yet, surely, those lose much who do not sometimes allow themselves to be conducted to the higher elevations of thought, which are above the reach of the grosser atmosphere. The style of thought proper to poetry, and which is the essence of poetry, is one that is adapted to soothe the restlessness of the passions, as well as to refine the sentiments; and we know of no substitute for it. Poetry is so natural to the mind as a mode of thought, that the feelings, when in a healthy and vigorous state, will always be susceptible of poetical influence. The love of nature, the domestic sentiments, philosophic or devout meditation, all find their most appropriate expression in the language of poetry; and where this language is foreign to the feelings, it indicates that a certain kind of mental cultivation has been neglected, which is requisite to the complete formation of the character.
But is Idolatry a subject for poetry? What else is the grand theme, the staple material, of all that is deemed classical in ancient poetry ? Idolatry is the very religion of imagination, and poets have been its priests. But when a Christian Missionary chooses such a theme, he may seem to invade the region of the
loves and the luxuries,' only as an iconoclast,-a ruthless violater of the fanes consecrated by art and venerable prescription. It is so; and yet, Mr. Swan has sufficiently shewn in the former Parts of his poem, that Truth is able to foil fiction with its own weapons, and that the simplest tones of the harp of prophecy are of more genuine inspiration than the music of Orpheus himself. All figure apart, Mr. Swan has chosen a subject which Cowper had already touched with a master hand, but only incidentally, so as to encourage the attempt to exhibit it more distinctly in all its horrid lineaments, for the purpose of deepening impressions of its true character. This has been the Author's purpose, worthy of the sacred character which he bears; and ‘for the sake
of this, he will be well content,' he says, 'to bear the self-complacent sneer of the men whose taste is too refined-or not re
fined enough—for such things.' Contempt, Mr. Swan can hardly have to fear. His poetry must command the approbation of those whom it may fail to move or to delight. It describes what the Author has seen, reports what he knows to be true, expresses no feigned or sickly feelings, but being evidently inspired by the purest and most elevated sentiments of the heart, makes an eloquent appeal to the heart of the reader. The former portion of the poem of which this is the concluding part, was noticed by us on its first appearance. It is written in the Spenserian stanza, the best, perhaps, that could have been adopted, but to manage which with uniform felicity, so as to satisfy the fastidious ear, requires a very practised and skilful hand. Mr. Swan has evidently been sometimes more intent on communicating his sentiments and feelings, than on polishing his lines. And yet, his versification is, upon the whole, smooth, flowing, and energetic, though not straining with the intensity of energy. Our readers shall, however, judge for themselves, both of his talent for description and his skill in versification.
On those eternal snows. No sound-no breath
The sun to melt its snows-the lama deems
s 'Tis time— full time the experiment were tried ;
Nor is he idle while we stand aside,
Their flags, the prows that ploughed the brine,
Fair trees of righteousness, on which were found
And made those fields a wilderness again;
Some voyager, hurried by another storm,
A sea of clouds breaks on their mighty sides,
The mortals he sees toiling on the plain,
Of Idol vanities and symbols gross —
Brush'd off the dew, it left a bloody stain-
They forged for his Peruvians, who mourn'd
It bound, erewhile, are struggling to be free-
The clouds retiring, and Religion's light,
cxiv. "-But hush !-here comes a Persian ; his air Is mild but noble, and his meaning eye Bespeaks an audience. Some deep-brooding care He would reveal, is prefaced by that sigh“ Speak, Persian ! thou hast gain'd our sympathy; We would assuage, or share thy sorrows deep; Our hearts acknowledge the mysterious tie
That binds us, for we, too, can sigh and weep; And, giving words to grief, thou mayest some comfort reap."
cxy. "2" The first of men—too sacred is his name For his mean slave to utter-too revered To be forgotten-from your country came.