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our own boyhood, and almost as dear,—each in turn reflecting the gentle, thoughtful, elevated mind of him to whom they belonged, in all its vicissitudes of despondency and hope, of grave wisdom, and of a mirth as light and pure as that of infancy. This is the high prerogative of genius, addressing mankind at large through the vernacular idiom of one land in the universal language of all. But Stanford Rivers, the dwelling-place of the anonymous writer of these volumes, has given birth to a succession of efforts to exalt the national character, which might vie with those of Olney and of Weston in piety and earnestness, in genuine freedom of thought, in the relish for domestic pleasures, and for all the innocent delights of life, in the filial love of God, and the brotherly love of man. Learning and logical acumen, and a certain catholicity of mind, which the poet neither possessed nor needed, impart to the works of the essayist a charm, without which it is vain, in these days, to interfere in the debates which agitate society. There is a charm, too, even in his distaste for the pursuits most in request amongst us; for it springs from the grandeur of the ideal excellence by which his imagination is possessed. Omniscience, though veiling its intimations in the coarse mantle of human language, will still emit some gleams of that radiance which illumines the regions of the blessed; and these he would reverently gather and concentrate. There is in Christianity an expansive power, sometimes repressed but never destroyed; and that latent energy he strives to draw forth into life and action. Those mysteries which shroud the condition and the prospects of our race, however inscrutable to the slaves of appetite, are not absolutely impervious to a soul purified by devout contemplation; and to these empyreal heights he aspires at once to point and to lead the way. To him whose foot is firmly planted on the eternal verities of Heaven, there belong motives of such force, and a courage so undaunted, as should burst through all resistance; and he calls on those who enjoy this high privilege to assert their native supremacy above the sordid ambition, the frivolities, and the virulence of the lower world. The voice thus raised in expostulation will die away, not unheeded by the interior circle he addresses, nor unblessed by a meet recompense; but unrewarded, we fear, by the accomplishment of these exalted purposes. Eloquent as is the indignation with which our anonymous monitor regards the low level to which divine and human literature has fallen amongst us, and mean as is his estimate of the pursuits with which the men of his own days are engaged, a hope may perhaps, without presumption, be indulged, that less fastidious and not less capable judges will pronounce a more lenient sentence on us and on our doings.
In the great cycle of human affairs there are many stages, each essential to the consummation of the designs of Providence, and each separated by broad distinctions from the rest. They whose province it is to censure, and they whose desire it is to improve their age, will never find their sacred fires extinct from the mere want of fuel. History and theory are always at hand with humiliating contrasts to the times we live in. That men have been better or might be better than they are, has been true since the first fathers of our race returned to their native dust, and will still be true as long as our planet shall be inhabited by their descendants. But below the agitated surface of the ocean, under-currents are silently urging forward, on their destined path, the waters of the mighty deep, themselves impelled by that Power which none may question or resist. Human society obeys a similar influence. Laws as anomalous in appearance, as uniform in reality, as those which direct the planetary movements, determine the present state, and regulate the progress of commonwealths, whether political, literary, or religious. Christianity demands the belief, and experience justifies the hope, that their ultimate tendency is towards the universal dominion of piety and virtue. But it is neither pious nor rational to suppose, that this consummation can be attained by any sequence of identical causes constantly working out similar effects. The best generations, like the best men, are those which possess an individual and distinctive character. A chain of splendid biographies constitutes the history of past centuries. Whoever shall weave the chronicles of our own, must take for his staple statistics illuminated by a skilful generalization. Once every eye was directed to the leaders of the world; now all are turned to the masses of which it is composed. Instead of Newtons presiding over royal societies, we have Dr Birkbecks lecturing at mechanics' institutes. If no Wolseys arise to found colleges like that of Christchurch, Joseph Lancaster and William Bell have emulated each other in works not less momentous at the Borough Road and Baldwin's Gardens. We people continents, though we have ceased to discover them. We abridge folios for the many, though we no longer write them for the few. fathers compiled systems of divinity-we compose pocket theological libraries. They invented sciences, we apply them. Literature was once an oligarchy, it is now a republic. Our very monitors are affected with the degeneracy they deplore. For the majestic cadence of Milton, and the voluptuous flow of Jeremy Taylor's periods, they substitute the rhetorical philosophy, invented some fifty years since, to countervail the philosophical rhetoric of the French Revolution; and put forth, in a collection
of essays for the drawingroom, reproofs which the hands of Prynne would have moulded into learned, fierce, and ponderous folios.
It is impossible to prevent-is it wise to bewail, this change in our social and intellectual habits? During the inundations of the Nile, the worship of the mysterious river ceased, and no hymns were heard to celebrate its glories. Idolatry lost its stay, and imagination her excitement; but the land was fertilized. Learning, once banked up in universities and cathedrals, is now diffused through shops and factories. The stream, then so profound and limpid, may now, perhaps, be both shallow and muddy. But is it better that the thirst of a whole nation should be thus slaked, or that the immortals should be quaffing their nectar apart in sublime abstraction from the multitude? There is no immediate and practicable reconcilement of these advantages. Genius, and wit, and science, and whatever else raises man above his fellows, must bend to the universal motives of human conduct. When honour, wealth, public gratitude, and the sense of good desert, reward those who teach elementary truth to the people at large, the wisest and the best will devote to that office powers, which, in a different age, would have been consecrated to more splendid, though not perhaps to more worthy undertakings.
In the state of letters, there is no maintaining a polity in which the three elements of power are blended together in harmonious counterpoise. There a monarch infallibly becomes a despot, and a democracy subjugates to itself whatever else is eminent or illustrious. Divines, poets, and philosophers, addressing millions of readers and myriads of critics, are immediately rewarded by an applause, or punished by a neglect, to which it is not given to mortal man to be superior or indifferent. Inform the national mind, and improve the general taste up to a certain point, and to that point you inevitably depress the efforts of those who are born to instruct the rest. Had Spenser flourished in the nineteenth century, would he have aspired to produce the Faery Queen? Had Walter Scott lived in the sixteenth, would he have condescended to write the Lady of the Lake? Our great men are less great because our ordinary men are less abject. These lamentations over the results of this compromise are rather pathetic than just. It forms one indispensable chapter in the natural history of a people's intellectual progress. It is one of the stages through which the national mind must pass towards the general elevation of literature, sacred and profane. We know not how to regret, that genius has for the moment abdicated her austere supremacy, and stooped to be popular and plain. Mackintosh surrendered his philosophy to the compilation of a
familiar history of England. Faithless to his Peris and Glendoveers, Mr Moore is teaching the commonalty of the realm the sad tale of the woes inflicted on the land of his birth. No longer emulous of Porson, the Bishop of London devotes his learned leisure to preparing cheap and easy lessons for the householders of his diocess. Lord Brougham arrests the current of his eloquence, to instruct mechanics in the principles of the sciences which they are reducing to daily practice. Tracts for the times are extorted from the depositories of ecclesiastical tradition, obedient to the general impulse which they condemn, and constrained to render the Church argumentative, that they may render her oracular. Nay, the author of the Natural History of Enthu'siasm' himself, despite his own protests, yields at length to the current, and has become the periodical writer of monthly tracts, where, in good round controversial terms, the superficial multitude are called to sit in judgment on the claims of the early fathers to sound doctrine, good morals, and common sense. Let who will repine at what has passed, and at what is passing, if they will allow us to rejoice in what is to come. If we witness the growth of no immortal reputations, we see the expansion of universal intelligence. The disparities of human understanding are much the same in all times; but it is when the general level is the highest that the mighty of the earth rise to the most commanding emi
But whatever may be the justice of the hopes we thus indulge for future generations, our business is with ourselves. If, as we think, they are well judging who devote the best gifts of nature and of learning to the instruction of the illiterate, the praise of wisdom is not to be denied to such as write with the more ambitious aim of stimulating the nobler intellects amongst us to enterprises commensurate with their elevated powers. No strenuous effort for the good of mankind was ever yet made altogether in vain; nor will those of our author be fruitless, though the results may fall far short of his aspirations. The general currents of thought and action can never be diverted from their channels, except by minds as rarely produced as they are wonderfully endowed. Energy, decision, and a self-reliance, independent on human praise or censure, are amongst their invariable characteristics. To this sublime order of men the Recluse of Stanford Rivers does not belong. Nor can a place be assigned to him among those calmer spirits, whose inventive genius, or popular eloquence, has enabled them from their solitudes to cast on the agitated mass of society seeds of thought destined at some future period to change the aspect of human affairs. He is an independent more than an original thinker. He is rather exempt
from fear than animated by ardent courage in announcing the fruits of his enquiries. A great master of language, he is himself but too often mastered by it. He is too much the creature, to become the reformer, of his age. His assiduity to please is fatal to his desire to command. His efforts to move the will are defeated by his success in dazzling the fancy. Yet his books exhibit a character, both moral and intellectual, from the study of which the reader can hardly fail to rise a wiser and a better man. Standing aloof from all vulgar excitements, heedless of the transient politics and the fugitive literature of his times, and intent only on the permanent interests of mankind, he has laboured to promote them with an honest love of truth, aided by brilliant talents, comprehensive knowledge, and undaunted intrepidity. And thus he has come under the guidance of principles, which no man can cultivate in his own bosom, or earnestly impart to other minds, without earning a reward which will render human applause insignificant, or reduce the neglect of the world to a matter of comparative indifference.
ART. VII. The Court and Camp of Runjeet Sing. By the Hon. W. G. OSBORNE, Military Secretary to the Earl of Auckland, Governor-General of India. With an Introductory Sketch of the Origin and Rise of the Sihk State. 8vo. London: 1840.
HIS is not a work of diplomatic or military pretension, nor does the little historical sketch at the beginning add any thing of moment to what was before known respecting the progress of the Sihk power in the north-west of India. It contains only the slight notes of a soldier's observation of the court, military displays, and personal habits of Runjeet Sing, one of the most remarkable among modern Oriental adventurers-a personage to whom our attention has been much drawn of late years, accustomed as we are to watch with jealousy the rise of any compact power on the frontier of our Indian possessions; and the importance of whose alliance has been fully evinced by the service which he rendered us in our recent enterprise beyond the Indus. Although his death has deprived the narrative of some of the attraction which it would otherwise have possessed, it is not without interest as the latest account of a remarkable man, whose monarchy will probably soon be crumbled to pieces, while its name will only remain in history as identified with his own. Mr Macnaghten, the Political Secretary to the Government,