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cured of one evil, but is possessed by another: for he is
degraded in his moral feelings; he has lost character; he is vile in the eyes of his companions, and therefore in his own; he is a posted, and therefore a reckless, scoundrel. Results like these are the natural fruits of this honourable profession.' Such is the morality of the Horse Guards, and such a system is supported by those who are by profession the conservators of society. Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!
One word more. A part of the degradation' is to consist in stripping the soldier of his bayonet. What is the designed effect? To make him love his bayonet. The effect will be secured. Shame attaches to the want of it, and therefore its possession will be regarded as an 'honourable distinction.' For his purposes the Commander-in-Chief has adopted effectual
But can his purposes be approved by the Christian moralist? They are directly baneful to all the great interests of man, and I deplore the efficiency of the plan adopted. Would that by some happy mistake it had been such as to make the soldier hate his bayonet; but in this case, by a fatal exception, punishment answers its end, and creates the desired attachment. I would send the schoolmaster to be drilled by Lord Hill into the philosophy of punitive discipline. He too often punishes idleness by the infliction of lessons, and thus enhances the boy's dislike of his books. Let him learn from the professors of war to take away what he wishes his scholars to desire. Hunger whets appetite. Deprive a bad boy of his books, if you would have him regard them as an “honourable distinction.'
HEMANS SCENES AND HYMNS.
Scenes and Hymns of Life, with other Religious Poems. By Felicia Hemans.
Blackwood, Edinburgh; and Cadell, London, The sphere of religious poetry has of late years been considerably enlarged. No longer restricting themselves to the formal expression and development of the great and vital principles of our faith, or the simple enforcement of moral truths, our sacred poets have enlisted in their cause the charms of figurative diction and varied illustration. Contemplating Nature in all her aspects-mild and gentle, as well as stern and terrible—and gleaning thence appropriate notions of the goodness, power, and
terror of the Lord;' searching into the hearts and homes of men, and tracing to their hidden springs those thoughts and feelings which give form and individuality to the human character, they have multiplied the themes of religious poetry. The learned Dr. Johnson has expressed an opinion on sacred poetry which has perhaps deterred many from employing their talents in its cultivation. With his peculiar force of language, he argues that the paucity of the topies necessitates perpetual repetition, while the sanctity of the matter rejects the aid of ornament; hence he infers that all religious poetry must be unsatisfactory. The reasoning is conclusive, if we concede the premises; since, without variety, poetry must of necessity become tedious-without embellishment, heavy and unattractive. But we know not that there is any scantiness in the subject matter of religious poetry. The most important truths of religion may, perhaps, be embodied in a few brief axioms: yet this implies no paucity of matter: for the same can be said of almost all subjects based upon abstract propositions, the main doctrines of which may, by a process of generalization, be comprehended in one or two short aphorisms. On this ground, therefore, we see no obstacle, à priori, to the success of religious poetry. The general truths of religion, in their pure and abstract form, are, it is true, matter for inquiry and studious contemplation; but, in their varied and important relations to all other branches of knowledge-in their intimate connexion with the affairs of human life-in the diversified aspects in which they present themselves, and the numberless modes in which they admit of illustration—they afford the poet a rich store of materials.
In the simple expression of these religious truths, figurative language seems, not only superfluous, but injurious. The great principles of religion-majestic in their simplicity-derive no force from artificial aids. But, when we wish to exemplify and illustrate—to follow abstract principles to their practical effects --to examine the phenomena of mind as manifested in the changing scenes of life, and point out and characterize the several emotions and feelings, we may legitimately make use of the ornaments of a figurative and poetical diction. Religion is no longer to be treated as an abstract and theoretical science. The veil of mysterious sanctity has been removed with which a mistaken zeal enveloped it. We are henceforth to view it as exerting a powerful and unceasing influence on the actual occurrences of daily life, as our constant guardian and unerring guide. And here how wide and fertile is the field which is presented to the poet's eye,
Of those who have contributed to the extension and improvement of religious poetry, Mrs. Hemans—now, alas! no more-ranks among the foremost. A desire to extend its sphere she avows to be her object, in the little volume now before us, and we think her efforts have been signally successful. Her endeavour has not been vain to associate with the themes of religious poetry, more of the emotions and affections, and even the pure imaginative enjoyments of daily life, than had hitherto been admitted within its hallowed circle.'
Faith-constant and enduring, through sorrow and persecution; Hope, surviving in its brightness the ruin of all worldly things; and Love_deep, unutterable Love—unchanged amid the wreck of what it held most dear—these are the scenes which the poetess, having had experience of them in her own destiny, takes a mournful pleasure in tracing, employing a pencil no less delicate than true.
We recognize, in every page, that pious and affectionate spirit--that pure and elevated tone of moral and devotional feeling, and that keen and accurate perception of poetical beauty, which generally characterize the writings of this gifted lost one.
• The English Martyrs' represents two youthful beings about to be immolated at the altar of a blind superstition. As the hour of his doom approaches, Herbert' thus dwells on the joys and endearments of his earthly existence :
- And yet, alas!
And this to be the close.'-pp. 11-12. The sentiments, though perhaps somewhat strained, are, upon the whole, just and happily expressed. We approve of these little dramatic sketches, which are made subservient to the inculcation of moral principles, while the interest of the reader is excited and sustained by narratives skilfully interwoven. We must confess, however, that we like Mrs. Hemans better in rhyme than in blank verse. Her compositions of the former kind are, indeed, free from many of the objections commonly urged against that species of poetry. There is nothing artificial in the structure of the versification; and, the pieces being mostly short, the ear is not pained by the continued recurrence of similar sounds at stated intervals.
We extract the following as a specimen; it is the commencement of the prayer in the Prisoner's Evening Service:'
• We see no more in thy pure skies,
Though man hath barr'd it from our sight.
In the same spirit of tenderness and piety is the Prayer'in the Traveller's Evening Song,' of which we subjoin a stanza.
In his distant cradle nest,
Hear that prayer;
Lead me there!—p. 59. The · Burial of an Emigrant's Child,' is, we think, a successful effort. The scene is laid in the depths of an American forest, and the imagery is appropriate and well conceived. The structure of the blank verse, too, possesses more variety in its pauses and cadences than is to be found in many of the other pieces. There is, moreover, in the character of this little poem a warm-hearted devotedness and pious resignation which will render it an universal favourite. The opening is touchingly beautiful :
Agnes — Surely, 'tis all a dream--a fever dream,
Of his deep loving eyes-he's gone -he's gone -p. 63. In Mrs. Hemans' poetry there is no little originality; yet, here and there we recognize a borrowed thought or expression, which, though rarely made use of in its pristine form, is moulded and adapted in the hands of the poetess—made the groundwork of a fresh idea, or appears in new colours, and with a superadded grace.
In the poem to which we have just adverted, the following animated lines
There is my country.—p. 66. must, we think, suggest to every mind the noble declaration of the independent Roman, who, sacrificing his patriotism to his love of freedom, could exclaim
• Ubi libertas ibi patria.'
In the Prayer in the Wilderness,' commencing thus
• In the deep wilderness unseen she prayed,
The dark leaves thrilled with prayer.'-—p. 103. the exquisitely poetical idea in the last line seems evidently borrowed from Byron
And even the forest leaves seem stirred with pray'r.'-Don Juan. It were a tasteless criticism which would censure liberties like these, the legitimate and judicious use of which, always allowable, constitutes, in many cases, an ornament in poetry. It may serve to gratify a literary curiosity to trace such resemblances; but we may push the practice to too great an extent; and in the vast body of literature which we possess, so numerous are the similarities which could be adduced in the ideas and expressions of different authors, as almost to justify the hasty exclamation of the simple-minded aspirant for fame, who, finding all his bright things anticipated by previous writers, gave vent to the ejaculation
" Pereant qui ante nos nostra dixerunt.' The language of Mrs. Hemans is, in general, rich and poetical. There is, however, sometimes an exuberance of dictiona profuseness of epithet, and a proneness to the use of words arbitrarily compounded. Johnson severely censured Gray for the practice of giving to adjectives derived from substantives the termination of participles. He was surprised ( horrescimus referentes) to find in a scholar like Gray,' the expression honied spring. But we do not mean to entrench ourselves under the authority of this most unpoetical of critics,' as he has been termed by an ingenious writer. The poetical taste of Johnson_formed upon the school of Dryden, where refinement was sacrificed to vigour-passion to reason; and that of Pope, in which all the graces of a polished style, combined in the expression of moral precepts with pointed antithesis and epigrammatic terseness'—was, perhaps, the less calculated to relish the loftier beauties of sentiment and imagination. Nevertheless, we view with regret the licence assumed by many of our modern poets in the invention and arbitrary combination of words. It is a liberty which should be used with a sparing hand, and never without the greatest caution.
We are sorry to observe in a book which, in other respects, we should wish to see universally circulated, one or two passages dependent upon, or at least referring to, controverted points of religious doctrine. We are not about to enter the field of theological polemics, nor do we mean to censure or condemn