« AnteriorContinuar »
Greaten, and that not less eminent philosopher | mote the honour of our country; but that little Mr Mackenzie Cæfhis. In spite, however, of he did strenuously and constantly. Renegade, his connection with these well-known orna- traitor, slave, coward, liar, slanderer, murderer, ments of our country, he was so ill informed hack-writer, police-spy-the one small service about us as lo fancy that our government was which he could render to England, was to hate always laying plans to torment him. If he her: and such as he was may all who hate was hooted at Saintes, probably by people her be. whose relations he had murdered, it was be- We cannot say that we contemplate with cause the cabinet of St. James had hired the equal satisfaction that fervent and constant mob. If nobody would read his bad books, it zeal for religion, which, according was because the cabinet of St. James had polyte Carnot, distinguished Barère; for, as we secured the reviewers. His accounts of Mr. I think that whatever brings dishonour on reliFox, of Mr. Pitt, of the Duke of Wellington, of gion is a serious evil, we had, we own, induiged Mr. Canning, swarm with blunders, surpassing a hope that Barère was an atheist. We now even the ordinary blunders coinmitted by learn, however, that he was at no time even a Frenchmen who write about England. Mr. sceptic, that he adhered to his faith through the Fox and Mr. Pitt, he tells us, were ministers in whole Revolution, and that he has left several two different reigns. Mr. Pitt's sinking fund manuscript works on divinity. One of these was instituted in order to enable England to is a pious treatise, entitled, “Of Christianity pay subsidies to the powers allied against the and of its Influence.” Another consists of French Republic. The Duke of Wellington's meditations on the Psalms, which will doubt. house in Hyde Park was built by the nation, less greatly console and edify the church. which twice voted the sum of £200,000 for the This makes the character complete. Whatpurpose. This, however, is exclusive of the soever things are false, whatsoever things are cost of the frescoes, which were also paid for dishonest, whatsoever things are unjust, whatout of the public purse. Mr. Canning was the soever things are impure, whatsoever things first Englishman whose death Europe had rea- are hateful, whatsoever things are of evil reson to lament; for the death of Lord Ward, a port, if there be any vice, and if there be any relation, we presume, of Lord Greaten and Mr. infamy, all these things, we knew, were blended Cæf his, had been an immense benefit to man- in Barère. But one thing was still wanting, kind.
and that M. Hyppolyte Carnot has supplied. Ignorant, however, as Barère was, he knew When to such an assemblage of qualities a enough of us to hate us; and we persuade our nigh profession of piety is added, the effect selves that, had he known us better, he would becomes overpowering. We sink under the have hated us more. The nation which has contemplation of such exquisite and manicombined, beyond all example and all hope, fold perfection; and feel, with deep humility, the blessings of liberty with those of order, how presumptuous it was in us to think of might well be an object of aversion to one who composing the legend of this beatified athlete had been false alike to the cause of order and of the faith, Saint Bertrand of the Carmag. to the cause of liberty. We have had amongst noles. us intemperate zeal for popular rights; we Something more we had to say about him. have had amongst us also ihe intemperance of But let him go. We did not seek him out, and loyalty. But we have never been shocked by will not keep him longer. If those who call such a spectacle as the Barère of 1794, or as themselves his friends had not forced him on the Barère of 1804. Compared with him, our our notice, we should never have vouchsafed fiercest demagogues have been gentle; com- to him inore than a passing word of scorn and pared with him, our meanest courtiers have abhorrence, such as we might fling at his been manly. Mix together Thistlewood and brethren, Hébert and Fouquier Tinville, and Bubb Dodington, and you are still far from Carrier and Lebon. We have no pleasure in having Barère. The antipathy between him seeing human nature thus degraded. We turn and us is such, that neither for the crimes of with disgust from the filthy and spiteful Yahoos his earlier, nor for those of his later life, does of the fiction; and the filthiest and most spiteour language, rich as it is, furnish us with ade ful Yahoo of the fiction was a noble creature quate names. We have found it difficult to when compared with the Barère of history. relate his history without having perpetual But what is no pleasure, M. Hyppolyte Carnot recourse to the French vocabulary of base has made a duty. It is no light thing, that a ness. It is not easy to give a notion of his man in high and honourable public trust, a conduct in the Convention, without using those man who, from his connections and position, emphatic terms, guillotinade, noyade, fusillade, may not unnaturally be supposed to speak the nitraillade. It is not easy to give a notion of sentiments of a large class of his countrymen, his conduct under the consulate and the em- should come forward to demand approbation pire, without borrowing such words as mouchard for a life, black with every sort of wickedness, and mouton.
and unredeemed by a single virtue. This M. We, therefore, like his invectives against us Hippolite Carnot has done. By attempting to much better than any thing else that he has enshrine this Jacobin carrion, he has forced written; and dwell on them, not merely with us to gibbet it; and we venture to say that, tcmplacency, but with a feeling akin to grati- from the eminence of infamy on which we lude. It was but little that he could do to pro- have placed it, he will not easily take it down
MR. ROBERT MONTGOMERY'S POEMS.*
[EDINBURGH REVIEW, APRIL, 1830.]
The wise men of antiquity loved to convey worth the telling, lies on the surface. The instruction under the covering of apologue; writer evidently means to caution us against and, though this practice of theirs is generally the practices of puffers,-a class of people thought childish, we shall make no apology for who have more than once talked the public adopting .it on the present occasion. A gene- into the most absurd errors, but who surely ration which has bought eleven editions of a never played a more curious, or a more diffipoem by Mr. Robert Montgomery, may well cult trick, than when they passed Mr. Robert condescend to listen to a fable of Pilpay. Montgomery off upon the world as a great poet.
A pious Brahmin, it is written, made a vow In an age in which there are so few readers that on a certain day he would sacrifice a that a writer cannot subsist on the sum arising sheep, and on the appointed morning he went from the sale of his works, no man who has forth to buy one. There lived in his neighbour- not an independent fortune can devote himself hood three rogues who, knew of his vow, and to literary pursuits, unless he is assisted by laid a scheme for profiting by it. The first met patronage. "In such an age, accordingly, men him and said, “Oh, Brahmin, wilt thou buy a of letters too often pass their lives in dangling sheep? I have one fit for sacrifice.”—“It is at the heels of the wealthy and powerful; and for that very purpose,” said the holy man, all the faults which dependence tends to pro" that I came forth this day.” Then the im- duce, pass into their character. They become postor opened a bag, and brought out of it an the parasites and slaves of the great. It is unclean beast, an ugly dog, lame and blind. melancholy to think how many of the highest Thereon the Brahmin cried out, “Wretch, who and most exquisitely formed of human inteltouchest things impure, and utterest things un lects have been condemned to the ignominious true, callest thou that cur a sheep?"_“Truly," labor of disposing the commonplaces of aduanswered the other, “it is a sheep of the finest lation in new forms, and brightening them into fleece, and of the sweetest fesh. Oh, Brahmin, new splendour. Horace invoking Augustus it will be an offering most acceptable to the in the most enthusiastic language of religious gods.”_"Friend,” said the Brahmin, “either veneration,-Statius flattering a tyrant, and the thou or I must be blind."
minion of a tyrant, for a morsel of bread, Just then one of the accomplices came up. Ariosto versifying the whole genealogy of a “ Praised be the gods," said this second rogue, niggardly patron,-Tasso extolling the heroic " that I have been saved the trouble of going virtues of the wretched creature who lockea to the market for a sheep! This is such a him up in a mad-house,—these are but a few sheep as I wanted. For how much wilt thou of the instances which might easily be given sell it?" When the Brahmin heard this, his of the degradation to which those must sub. mind waved to and fro, like one swinging in mit, who, not possessing a competent fortune, the air at a holy festival. “Sir,” said he to the are resolved to write when there are scarcely new comer, “ take heed what thou dost; this is any who read. no sheep, but an unclean cur.”_"Oh, Brah- This evil the progress of the human mind min," said the new comer, “thou art drunk or tends to remove. As a taste for books becomes mad!”
more and more common, the patronage of indi. At this time the third confederate drew near. viduals becomes less and less necessary. In “ Let us ask this man,” said the Brahmin, the earlier part of the last century a marked “what the creature is, and I will stand by what change took place. The tone of literary men, he shall say." To this the others agreed; and both in this country and in France, became the Brahmin called out, “Oh, stranger, what higher and more independent. Pope boasted dost thou call this beast ?"_"Surely, oh, Brah- that he was the “one poet" who had pleased min," said the knave, “it is a fine sheep.” by manly ways;" he derided the scft dedica Then the Brahmin said, “Surely the gods have tions with which Halifax had been fed,taken away my senses,”—and he asked pardon asserted his own superiority over the pen of him who carried the dog, and bought it for sioned Boileau,-and glorified in being not the a measure of rice and a pot of ghee, and offered follower, but the friend, of nobles and princes. it up to the gods, who, being wroth at this un- The explanation of all this is very simple. clean sacrifice, smote him with a sore disease Pope was the first Englishman who, by the in all his joints.
mere sale of his writings, realized a sum Thus, or nearly thu.r, if we remember rightly, which enabled him to live in comfort and in rans the story of the Sanscrit Æsop. The perfect independence. Johnson extols him for moral, like the moral of every fable that is the magnanimity which he showed in inscribe
ing his Iliad, not to a minister or a peer, but to * The Omnipresence of the Deity, e Poem. By ROBERT Congreve. In our time, this would scarcely MONTGOMERY. Eleventh Edition. London. 1830.
2. Satan, a Poem. By ROBERT MONTGOMERY. Sccond be a subject for praise. Nobody is astonished Edition. London. 1830.
when Mr. Moore pays a complimert of this kind to Sir Walter Scott, or Sir Walter Scott | upon with a despicable ingenuity by people to Mr. Moore. The idea of either of those engaged in a pursuit which never was, and gentlemen looking out for some lord who never will be, considered as a mere trade by would be likely to give him a few guineas in any man of honour and virtue. A butcher of return for a fulsome dedication, seems laugh- the higher class disdains to ticket his meat. A ably incongruous. Yet this is exactly what mercer of the higher class would be ashamed Dryden or Otway would have done; and it to hang up papers in his window inviting the would be hard to blame them for it. Otway is passers-by to look at the stock of a bankrupt, said to have been choked with a piece of bread all of the first quality, and going for half the which he devoured in the rage of hunger; and, value. We expect some reserve, some decent whether this story be true or false, he was, be- pride, in our hatter and our bootmaker. But yond all question, miserably poor. Dryden, at no artifice by which notoriety can be obtained near seventy, when at the head of the literary is thought too abject for a man of letters. men of England, without equal or second, is amusing to think over the history of received three hundred pounds for his Fables most of the publications which have had a run -a collection of ten thousand verses,—and during the last few years. The publisher is such verses as no man then living, except often the publisher of some periodical work. himself, could have produced. Pope, at thirty, In this periodical work the first flourish of had laid up between six and seven thousand trumpets is sounded. The peal is then echoed pounds,--the fruits of his poetry. It was not, and re-echoed by all the other periodical works we suspect, because he had a higher spirit, or over which the publisher or the author, or the a more scrupulous conscience, than his pre- author's coterie, may have any influence. The decessors, but because he had a larger income, newspapers are for a fortnight filled with puffs of that he kept up the dignity of the literary cha- all the various kinds which Sheridan recounted, racter so much better than they had done. - direci, oblique, and collusive. Sometimes
From the time of Pope to the present day, the praise is laid on thick for simple-minded the readers have been constantly becoming peopie. “Pathetic,” “ sublime,” aşplendid," more and more numerous: and the writers, “graceful, brilliant wit," " exquisite humour," consequently, more and more independent and other phrases equally flattering, fall in a It is assuredly a great evil, that men fitted by shower as thick and as sweet as the sugartheir talents and acquirements to enlighten plums at a Roman carnival. Sometimes greatand charm the world, should be reduced to er art is used. A sinecure has been offered to the necessity of flattering wicked and foolish the writer if he would suppress his work, or if patrons in return for the very sustenance of he would even soften down a few of his incomlife. But though we heartily rejoice that this parable portraits. A distinguished military and evil is removed, we cannot but see with con- political character has challenged the inimita cern that another evil has succeeded to it. ble satirist of the vices of the great; and the The public is now the patron, and a most libe- puffer is glad to learn that the parties have ral patron. All that the rich and powerful been bound over to keep the peace. Some. bestowed on authors from the time of Mæcenas times it is thought expedient that the puffer to that of Harley would not, we apprehend, should put on a grave face, and utter his panemake up a sum equal to that which has been gyric in the form of admonition! “Such atpaid by English booksellers to authors during tacks on private character cannot be too much ihe last thirty years. Men of letters have condemned. Even the exuberant wit of our accordingly ceased to court individuals, and author, and the irresistible power of his with. have begun to court the public. They for- ering sarcasm, are no excuses for that utter merly used flattery. They now use puffing. disregard which he manifests for the feelings
Whether the old or the new vice be the of others. We cannot but wonder that the worse,—whether those who formerly lavished writer of such transcendent talents,-a writer insincere praise on others, or those who now who is evidently no stranger to the kindly contrive by every art of beggary and bribery charities and sensibilities of our nature, should to stun the public with praises of themselves, show so little tenderness to the foibles of noble disgrace their vocation the more deeply,—we and distinguished individuals, with whom, it is shall not attempt to decide. But of this we clear, from every page of his work, that he are sure,- that it is high time to make a stand must have been constantly mingling in socieagainst the new trickery. The puffing of ty." These are but tame and feeble imitations books is now so shamefully and so success of the paragraphs with which the daily papers fully practised, that it is the duty of all who are filled whenever an attorney's clerk' or an are anxious for the purity of the national taste, apothecary's assistant undertakes to tell the or for the honour of the literary character, tó public, in bad English and worse French, how join in discountenancing it. All the pens that people tie their neckcloths and eat their dir. ever were employed in magnifying Bish's ners in Grosvenor Square. The editors of the lucky office, Romanis's fleecy hosiery, Pack- higher and more respectable newspapers wood's razor strops, and Rowland's Kalydor, usually prefix the words “ Advertisement," or
all the placard-bearers of Dr. Eady,—all the “From a Correspondent," to such paragraphs. wall-chalkers of Day and Martin—seem to But this makes little difference. The panegy. have taken service with the poets and novel- ric is extracted, and the significant heading ists of this generation. Devices which in the omitted. The fulsome eulogy makes its ap. lowest trades are considered as disreputable, pearance on the covers of all the Reviews and are adopted without scruple, and improved Magazines, with “ Times” or “Globe” affixed
though the editors of the Times and the Globe tised judges can; that he is not familliar with have no more to do with it than with Mr. Goss's the finest models; that he has never looked at way of making old rakes young again. them with close attention; and that, when the
That people who live by personal slander general effect of a piece has pleased him, or should practise these arts is not surprising. displeased him, he has never troubled himselt Those who stoop to write calumnious books 10 ascertain why. When, therefore, people may well stoop to puff them ;--and that the whom he thinks more competent to judge than basest of all trades should be carried on in the himself, and of whose sincerity he entertains basest of all manners, is quite proper, and as no doubt, assure him that a particular work is it should be. But how any man, who has the exquisitely beautiful, he takes it for granted least self-respect, the least regard for his own that they must be in the right. He returns to personal dignity, can condescend to persecute the examination, resolved to find or imagine the public with this rag-fair importunity, we beauties; and if he can work himself up into do not understand. Extreme poverty may, something like admiration, he exults in his indeed, in some degree, be an excuse for em- own proficiency. ploying these shifts, as it may be an excuse Just such is the manner in which nine for stealing a leg of mutton. But we really readers out of ten judge of a book. They are think that a man of spirit and delicacy would ashamed to dislike what men, who speak as quite as soon satisfy his wants in the one way having authority, declare to be good. At pre as in the other.
sent, however contemptible a poem or a novel It is no excuse for an author, that the praises may be, there is mt the least difficulty in proof journalists are procured by the money or in- curing favourable notices of it from all sorts fluence of the publisher, and not by his own. of publications, daily, weekly, and monthly. It is his business to take such precautions as I:n the mean time, little or nothing is said on may prevent others from doing what must de- the other side. The author and the publisher grade them. It is for his honour as a gentle are interested in crying up the book. Nobody man, and, if he is really a man of talents, it has any very strong interest in crying it down. will eventually be for his honour and interest Those who are best fitted to guide the public as a writer, that his works should come before opinion, think it beneath them to expose mere the public, recommended by their own merits nonsense, and comfort themselves by reflecting alone, and should be discussed with perfect that such popularity cannot last.
This confreedom. If his objects be really such as he temptuous lenity has been carried too far. It may own without shame, he will find that they is perfectly true, that reputations which have will, in the long run, be better attained by sui- been forced into an unnatural bloom, sade alfering the voice of criticism to be fairly heard. most as soon as they have expanded; nor have At present, we too often see a writer attemp!- we any apprehensions that puffing will ever ing to obtain literary fame as Shakspeare's raise any scribbler to the rank of a classic. It usurper obtains sovereignty. The publisher is, indeed, amusing to turn over some late volplays Buckingham to the author's Richard. umes of periodical works, and to see how Some few creatures of the conspiracy are dex- many immortal productions have, within a few terously disposed here and there in a crowd. months, been gaihered to the poems of BlackIt is the business of these hirelings to throw up more and the novels of Mrs. Behn; how many their caps, and clap their hands, and utter their profound views of human nature,”and" exqui. vivas. The rabble at first stare and wonder, site delineations of fashionable manners," and and at last join in shouting for shouting's sake;" vernal, and sunny, and refreshing thoughts," and thus a crown is placed on the head which) and “high imaginings,” and “ young breathhas no right to it, by the huzzas of a few ser- ings,” and “embodyings," and "pinings,” and vile dependants.
“ minglings with the beauty of the universe,” The opinion of the great body of the reading and harmonies which dissolve the soul in a public is very materially influenced even by passionate sense of loveliness and divinity,” the ihe unsupported assertions of those who as- world has contrived to forget. The names of sume a right to criticise. Nor is the public the books and the writers are buried in as deep altogether to blame on this account. Most, an oblivion as the name of the builder of Stoneeven of those who have really a great enjoy- hedge. Some of the well-puffed “fashionable ment in reading, are in the same state, with novels" of the last, hold the pastry of the prerespect to a book, in which a man, who has sent year; and others of the class, which are never given particular attention to the art of now extolled in language almost too nigh-luwn painting, is with respect to a picture. Every for the merits of Don Quixote, will, we have no man who has the least sensibility or imagina- doubt, line the irunks of eighteen hundred and tion, derives a certain pleasure from pictures. (thirty-one. But though we have no appreherYet a man of the highest and finest intellect sions that puffing will ever confer permanent might, unless he had formed his taste by con- reputation on the undeserving, we still think templating the best pictures, be easily per- its influence most pernicious. Men of reai suaded by a knot of connoisseurs that the worst merit will, if they persevere, at last reach the daub in Somerset-house was a miracle of art. station to which they are entitled, and intruders If he deserves to be laughed at, it is not for his will be ejected with contempt and derision. ignorance of pictures, but for his ignorance of But it is no small evil that the avenues to fame men. He knows that there is a delicacy of should be blocked up by a swarm of noisy, taste in painting which he does not possess; pushing, elbowing pretenders, who, though that he cannot discriminate hands, as prac- they will not ultimately be able to make gorul
their own entrance, hinder, in the mean time,
“But who could trace Thine uni estricted coum, those who have a right to enter. All who will
Though Fancy follow'd with immortal force
There's not a blossom fondled by the breeze, not disgrace themselves by joining in the un- There's not a fruit that beautifies the trees, seemly scuffle, must expect to be at first hustled There's not a particle in sea or air, and shouldered back. Some men of talents,
But nature owns thy plastic influence there!
With fearful gaze, still be it mine to see accordingly, turn away in dejection from pur- How all is filled and vivified by Thee; suits in which success appears to bear no
Upon thy mirror, earth's majectic view,
To paint Thy Presence, and to feel it too." proportion to desert. Others employ in selfdefence the means by which competitors, far The last two lines contain an excellent spe inferior to themselves, appear for a time to ob- cimen of Mr. Robert Montgomery's 'Turkey tain a decided advantage. There are few who carpet style of writing. The majestic view of have sufficient confidence in their own powers, earth is the mirror of God's presence; and on and sufficient elevation of mind, to wait with this mirror Mr. Robert Montgomery paints secure and contemptuous patience, while dunce God's presence. The use of a mirror, ve after dunce presses before them. Those who submit, is not to be painted upon. will not stoop to the baseness of the modern
A few more lines, as bad as those which we fashion are too often discouraged. Those who have quoted, bring us to one of the most amasstoop to it are always degraded.
ing instances of literary pilfering which we We have of lato observed with great plea- remember. It might be of use to plagiarists to sure some symptoms which lead us to hope, know as a general rule, that what they steal is, that respectable literary men of all parties are to employ a phrase common in advertisements, beginning to be impatient of this insufferable of no use to any but the right owner. We nuisance. And we purpose to do what in us never fell in, however, with any plunderer who lies for the abating of it. We do not think so little understood how to turn his booty to that we can more usefully assist in this good good account as Mr. Montgomery. Lord By: work, iban by showing our honest countrymen ron, in a passage which every body knows by what that sort of poetry is which puffing can heart, has said, addressing the sea, drive through eleven editions; and how easy
“ Time writes no wrinkle on thine azure brow.” any bellman might, if a bellman would stoop to the necessary degree of meanness, become Mr. Robert Montgomery very cooly appro. "a master-spirit of the age.” We have no en- | priates the image, and reproduces the stolen mity to Mr. Robert Montgomery. We know goods in the foliowing form: nothing whatever about him, except what we
" And thou, vast Ocean, on whose awful face have learned from his books, and from the Time's iron feet can print no ruin trace.” portrait prefixed to one of them, in which he so may such ill-got gains ever prosper! appears to be doing his very best to look like a man of genius and sensibility, though with less Atheists is then described in the following
The effect which the Ocean produces on success than his strenuous exertions deserve.
lofty lines: We select him, because his works have received more enthusiastic praise, and have de- “Oh! never did the dark-soul'd ATHEIST stand, served more unmixed contempt, than any
And watch the breakers boiling on the strand,
And, while creation staggered at his nod, which, as far as our knowledge extends, have
Mock the dread presence of the mighty God! appeared within the last three or four years.
We hear Him in the wind-heaved ocean's roar, His writing bears the same relation to poetry
Hurling her billowy crags upon the shore ;
We hear him in the riot of the blast, which a Turkey carpet bears to a picture And shake, while rush the raving whirlwinds past!" There are colours in the Turkey carpet, out of which a picture might be made. There are
* Mr. Robert Montgomery's genius were not words in Mr. Montgomery's verses, which when far too free and aspiring to be shackled by the disposed in certain orders and combinations, rules of syntax, we should suppose that it is have made, and will again make, good poetry at the nod of the Atheist that creation shud. But, as they now stand, they seem to be put ders, and that it is this same dark-souled Athetogether on principle, in such a manner as to ist who hurls billowy crags upon the shore. give no image of any thing in the “heavens A few more lines bring us to another inabove, or in the earth beneath, or in the waters stance of unprofitable theft. Sir Walter Scott under the earth.”
has these lines in the Lord of the Isles, The poem on the Omnipresence of the Deity “The dew that on the violet lies, commences with a description of the creation,
Mocks the dark lustre of thine eyes." in which we can find only one thought which This is pretty, taken separately, and, as is has the least pretension to ingenuity, and that almost always the case with good things of one thought is stolen from Dryden, and marred good writers, much prettier in its place than in the stealing
can even be conceived by those who sec it only
detached from the context. Now for Mr. Monte "Last, sofly beautiful as music's close,
gomeryAngelic woman into being rose."
“And the bright dew-bead on the bramble lles, The all-pervading influence of the Supreme
Like liquid rapture upon beauty's eyes." Being is then described in a few tolerable lines The comparison of a violet, bright with the borrowed from Pope, and a great many intoler- dew, to a woman's eyes, is as perfeci as a able lines of Mr. Robert Montgomery's cwn. comparison can be. Sir Walter's lines are The fol.owirig may stand as a specimen- part of a song addressed to a woman, and the