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our object of attention, whether we regard its form or peculiar desiguation in the insect world; we must admire the first, and innocently, perhaps, conjecture the latter, We know that Infinite Wisdom, which formed, declared it "to be very good ;" that it has its destination and settled course of action, admitting of no deviation or substitution : beyond this, perhaps, we can rarely proceed, or, if we sometimes advance a few steps more, we are then lost iu the mystery with which the incom prehensible Architect has thought proper to surround it. So little is human nature permitted to see, (nor perhaps is it capable of comprehending mich more than permitted,) that it is blind beyond thought as to secondary causes; and admiration, that pure fountain of intellectual pleasure, is almost the only power permitted to us. We see a wonderfully fabricated creature, decorated with a vest of glorious art and splendour, occupying almost its whole life in seeking for the most fitting station for its own necessities, exerting wiles and stratagems, and constructing a peculiar material to preserve its offspring against natural or occasional injury, with a fore-thought equivalent to reason-in a moment, perhaps, with all its splendour and instinct, it becomes the prey of some wandering bird! and human wisdom and conjecture are humbled to the dust. We can "see but in part," and the wisest of us is only, perhaps, something less ignorant than another. This sense of a perfection so infinitely above ns, is the natural intimation of a Supreme Being; and as science improves, and inquiry is augmented, our imperfections and ignorance will become more manifest, and all our aspirations after knowledge only increase in us the conviction of knowing nothing. Every deep investiga
Insects now take the place of the feathered tribe, and, being for the most part hatched in the spring, they are now in full vigour. It is a very amusing sight in some of our rural rambles, in a bright evening after a summer shower, to see the air filled throughout all its space with sportive organized creatures, the leaf, the branch, the bark of the tree, every mossy bank, the bare earth, the pool, the ditch, all teeming with animal 1 life, and the mind that is ever framed for contemplation, must awaken now
in viewing such a profusion and varie-tor of nature can hardly be possessed ty of existence. One of those poor of any other than a humble mind.
little beings, the fragile gnat, becomes
and having a leathern pipe for it, a
BY MRS. HEMANS.
On a Monument, in a Venetian Church, is an Epitaph, recording that the remains beneath are those of a noble Lady, who expired suddenly while standing as a Bride at the Altar.
We bear her Home! we bear her Home!
From sorrow-pains and the fever-strife.-BARRY CORNWALL.
BRIDE! upon thy marriage-day,
-Who shall tell us?-from thy bower
Bride! when through the stately fane, Circled with thy nuptial train, Midst the banners hung on high By thy warlike ancestry, Midst thy mighty fathers dead, In soft beauty thou wert led; When before the shrine thy form
THEY tell us of an Indian shore,
Where gold is wash'd by every wave; Where neither winds nor breakers roar,
Quiver'd to some bosom-storm;
To mar the peace which plenty gave. But breathes there in that land of gold One spirit of the rarer mould?
That which there had beam'd and burn'd,
THE POET'S WISH.
There were sounds of weeping o'er thee, Bride! as forth thy kindred bore thee, Shrouded in thy gleaming veil, Deaf to that wild funeral wail. -Yet perchance a chastening thought In some deeper spirit wrought, Whispering, while the stern sad knell On the air's bright stillness fell, -"From the power of chill and change, Souls to sever and estrange; From Love's wane-a death in life, But to watch a mortal strife; From the secret fevers, known To the burden'd heart alone; Thou art fled-afar-away, Where those blights no more have sway! Bright one! oh! there well may be Comfort midst our tears for thee!"
They tell us of an Indian Vale,
Where Summer breathes on every tree; Where odours float on every gale,
And grass is green continually.
Oh! give to me one little spot,
It beams before my fancy now; Where all forgetting-all forgot,
I'd smooth the wrinkles from my brow, I'd smile at Nature's fiercest moodWith one to cheer my solitude.
They tell us of an Indian sun,
Which overpowers the shrinking sense, And bursting through the "vapour dun," Dispels the winter's influence.
I care not for that Indian sun,
SKETCHES OF CONTEMPORARY AUTHORS.
WE should incur the contempt of Miss Edgeworth, if we were to affect to treat her with any peculiar forbearance on account of her sex. We shall not indulge in scurrility or wilful misrepresentation; and within this limit, to which we confine ourselves, not for her sake, but for our own, there is no freedom of discussion which the lady, whose name we have just set down, would not herself grant to us. She would do so on principle. But she has nothing to fear in so doing. For no one, who is capable of understanding her works, could feel even a moment's temptation to visit her with the slightest disrespect. Her talents would ensure to her a high degree of admiration, if any talents could in themselves be admirable; but her evident wish to do good, however men may differ in judgment as to her success, must always obtain esteem. Independently in a great degree of these merits, she has secured to herself another ground of favourable consideration. For a large and active portion of the instructed society of England connect her name with the remembrance of much early enjoy ment. We know not any mode whereby the friendly sympathy of so many persons may be won, as by writing agreeable books for children. In an age which is not so often happy as in later life we are commonly willing to persuade ourselves, such books as "Harry and Lucy," and the "Parent's Assistant," supply a keen and enduring pleasure; and we look back to them with the more delight, because there are seldom many points in our childhood to which we can thus recur. He, in whose infant
hands these little volumes have been placed, associates them, through all the turbulence or dulness of his after days, with the brook, the bridge, the ruined castle, the hay-field, the orchard, and the bank of primroses, which supplied to these tales, no less than to his own existence, a beautiful and heart-felt scenery. That "wisdom" of feeling, which "sits with children round its knees," would prevent us from speaking harshly of Miss Edgeworth, if we were for an instant so inclined, and would hold up the smiles of infancy to turn aside the deadlier weapons of criticism.
This lady has been tolerably miscellaneous in the forms of her writings, but not so in the substance. Letters, essays, dramas, narratives, all seem written on one plan, and intended for one single purpose. Her novels are the most celebrated, the most voluminous, and, perhaps, the best of her works. They have somewhat declined in celebrity, but they must always have a certain value as pictures in the Irish national gallery; and their present comparative obscuration arises, not from any difference of opinion on this point, but from the riotous popularity of the more varied, animated, and picturesque productions which our age has so profusely multiplied. Miss Edgeworth, or rather her system, has little chance of any brilliant success in a contest of this kind. For though few of the writers of fiction, in our time and country, have a clear or adequate idea of the laws and object of art, many of them feel that it has rules and purposes of its own, which make it an end in itself, and not a mere accessary, or instrument of
some other design. Miss Edgeworth always has some one definite moral aim; and we read her works, not as specimens of ideal creation, but as lectures on matters of social convenience. She wishes to instruct and improve the world; and, with this view, she has written tales for children of various ages, for persons of the more ignorant classes, and for ladies and gentlemen. Of all the personages whom she brings upon the stage in these narratives, the most real and lively are the Irish poor. The three great describers of the lower orders of Irishmen are, Miss Edgeworth, Lady Morgan, and the Author of the Nowlans. The portraits of the last named author, perhaps, in some degree exaggerate the energy, and those of Lady Morgan the oddity, of their countrymen. The fault of Miss Edgeworth is of another kind. Her figures are too much detached, and filed to fit the niche. They are framed and glaz ed, or dried and pressed, like specimens in a hortus siccus. There is evidently much about these descriptions which results from long and accurate observation. But there is also something which comes from the resolution to embody an abstract idea. She has philosophised upon irregularity, till she has made it almost systematic. The potatoe is served, not only with the coat off, (itself an abomination to all true Milesians,) but after having been subjected to some process of French cookery. Yet we thank her for this part of her works. She was the first writer who gave us an idea of an Irishman, as aught else than a compound of thick legs and bold blunders; and cried down the brass money which had so long been passing in foreign countries for the genuine national coin. Herein she rendered a great service; for the Irishman is not only an admirable addition to our list of personages, but a being whom it especially behoves us to study and to understand. To comprehend him thoroughly, to know with how many splendid gifts the
varied influence of natural circumstances supplied him, and to how deep a criminality he has been dri ven by that British Constitution, which stepped in, like the malignant fairy, in the fable, to render all those gifts of no avail,-to acquire this knowledge, it will not be sufficient to read Miss Edgeworth. But she will, undoubtedly, give large assist ance, provided we remember always, that her own philosophy is completely one of calculation, and that she is not, therefore, the best judge of a being of impulse, any more that a painter whose eye has been entire ly educated for form, can be trusted in delineating colour. But it is not the same with regard to her gentle. men and ladies. In most of her por traits of this kind, nothing is valuable but the system which they embody. She makes the elements and essence of her personages consist of certain principles of morals, and, in the at tempt to invest them with life and individuality, she exaggerates some accidental differences, makes them stiff with elaborate ease, and, winle she endeavours to keep them in per petual motion, breaks the very spring which impels the automatons. As her single figures are not "portraits,” nor any of her novels that ideal whole, which we commonly call an "historical picture," we can only consider them as manifestations of a system; and to this system we must direct our attention,
The main tendency of her opin ions is to exalt the understanding over the feelings, and to direct it to the one object of procuring happiness for the individual. Herein she seems, to us, to be wrong. If we cultivate the understanding, and make it the guide and master of the feelings, their natural goodness will be entirely stifled or perverted; and it is only in the full development of these, that happiness and virtue are to be found. But if we cherish, in the first place, all the better in pulses, and let them govern both the understanding and the reason, at their instruments, the intellectual
powers will be called forth just as strongly as if their perfection were he final object of desire, and, in stead of being limited to our personal sphere, will be taught to expand more widely, and to embrace the vast domain of the universe, to every portion of which the free sympathies of man will more nearly or more distantly unite him. But Miss Edgeworth is unhappily but one of that large class of ethical writers who maintain, that we must look solely to the improvement of the thinking faculties of men for any chance of ameliorating their condition :-That there is one simple, undeniable principle-the wish for our own enjoy ment - which forms the foundation of all ethics :-That we must consider the right regulation of this principle as the only means of producing moral good:-And that, if we could eleväte mankind to the condition of pure intelligences, we should have done all that is possible for securing human happiness. Among these persons, several French and some English writers are especially conspicuous but by far the most remarkable body of them flourished in France during the last century. These were men, not indeed of much eloquence, not of profound meditation, or very extensive views, but persons of exceeding acuteness, of inimitable talent for subile ridicule and grave satire, of keen observation for detecting the lurking basenesses of motive and character,-of more fancy thau feeling, and more wit than wisdom. It would not be difficult to show to what extent this system prevailed in the ancient Greek philosophy, or to trace it in English writers, previous to Miss Edgeworth. We shall not now attempt this; but we would remark, that the doctrine contains one point particularly calling for observation. The great assump
tion, which stands as the cornerstone of this theory, is the statement, that every human being acts from the one sole motive of a regard to his own enjoyment. The degree to which this belief has baunted the literature of France, is a singular phenomenon; and we find it broadly laid down in the "Thoughts" of a man of a far higher stamp, and nobler school, than the succeeding philosophers of his country, the unhappy but illustrious Pascal. He tells us : "All men, without a single exception, desire to be happy. However various may be the methods they employ, this is the end at which they all aim. It is this same desire, accompanied in each by different views, which makes one man join the army, and another stay at home. The will never takes the slightest step but towards this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of him who hangs himself."*
The supporters of this doctrine will tell us, be it remembered, that, by the enjoyment which they maintain to be the object of all human actions, they do not mean the kind of gratification sought for by what is commonly called self-interest. They include the pleasures of sympathy in their list of motives; and their proposition, therefore, amounts to this, that he desire, which prompts us to commit every action of our lives, is a desire to procure for ourselves enjoyment of some kind or other, and that the motive of what would commonly be called the most generous exertion, is a wish for the satisfaction to be obtained by ourselves from the success of that exersion, or from the complacency with which we regard the exertion itself. Now this is not a dogma, the truth or falsehood of which is to be shown by any reference to history. We may search
"Tous les hommes desirent d'être heureux: cela est sans exception. Quelque differens moyens qu'ils y employent, ils tendent tous à ce but. Ce qui fait que l'un va à la guerre, et que l'autre n'y va pas, c'est ce méme désir qui est dans tous les deux, accompagné de differentes vues. La volonté ne fait jamais la moindre denarche que vers cet objet. C'est le motif de toutes les actions de tous les hommes, jusqu'à ceux qui se tuent et qui se pendent."-Pensées de Pascal, xxi. 1.