« AnteriorContinuar »
puffers have been exposed with good sense and spirit. We shall, therefore, be very concise.
Of the two poems we rather prefer that on the Ommipresence of the Deity, for the same reason which induced Sir Thomas More to rank one bad book above another. Marry, this is somewhat. This is rhyme. But the other is neither rhyme nor reason. Satan is a long soliloquy, which the Devil pronounces in five or six thousand lines of bad blank verse, concerning geography, politics, newspapers, fashionable society, theatrical amusements, Sir Walter Scott's novels, Lord Byron's poetry, and Mr. Martin's pictures. The new designs for Milton have, as was natural, particularly attracted the attention of a personage who occupies so conspicuous a place in them. Mr. Martin must be pleased to learn that, whatever may be thought of those performances on earth, they give full satisfaction in Pandæmonium, and that he is there thought to have hit off the likenesses of the various Thrones and Dominations very happily.
The motto to the poem of Satan is taken from the Book of Job: "Whence comest thou? From going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it." And certainly Mr. Robert Montgomery has not failed to make his hero go to and fro, and walk up and down. With the exception, however, of this propensity to locomotion, Satan has not one Satanic quality. Mad Tom had told us that "the prince of darkness is a gentleman;" but we had yet to learn that he is a respectable and pious gentleman, whose principal fault is that he is something of a twaddle and far too liberal of his good advice. That happy change in his character which Origen anticipated, and of which Tillotson did not despair, seems to be rapidly taking
place. Bad habits are not eradicated in a moment. It is not strange, therefore, that so old an offender should now and then relapse for a short time into wrong dispositions. But to give him his due, as the proverb recommends, we must say that he always returns, after two or three lines of impiety, to his preaching style. We would seriously advise Mr. Montgomery to omit or alter about a hundred lines in different parts. of this large volume, and to republish it under the name of "Gabriel." The reflections of which it consists would come less absurdly, as far as there. is a more and a less in extreme absurdity, from a good than from a bad angel.
We can afford room only for a single quotation. We give one taken at random, neither worse nor better, as far as we can perceive, than any other equal number of lines in the book. The Devil goes to the play, and moralises thereon as follows:
"Music and Pomp their mingling spirits shed
Here we conclude. If our remarks give pain to Mr. Robert Montgomery, we are sorry for it. But, at whatever cost of pain to individuals, literature must be purified from this taint. And, to show that we are not actuated by any feelings of personal enmity towards him, we hereby give notice that, as soon as any book shall, by means of puffing, reach a second edition, our intention is to do unto the writer of it as we have done unto Mr. Robert Montgomery.
SADLER'S LAW OF POPULATION.
(Edinburgh Review, July 1830.)
WE did not expect a good book from Mr. Sadler: and it is well that we did not; for he has given us a very bad one. The matter of his treatise is extraordinary ; the manner more extraordinary still. His arrangement is confused, his repetitions endless, his style everything which it ought not to be. Instead of saying what he has to say with the perspicuity, the precision, and the simplicity in which consists the eloquence proper to scientific writing, he indulges without measure in vague, bombastic declamation, made up of those fine things which boys of fifteen admire, and which everybody, who is not destined to be a boy all his life, weeds vigorously out of his compositions after five-and-twenty. That portion of his two thick volumes which is not made up of statistical tables, consists principally of ejaculations, apostrophes, metaphors, similes, all the worst of their respective kinds. His thoughts are dressed up in this shabby finery with so much profution and so little discrimination, that they remind us of a company of wretched strolling players, who have huddled on suits of ragged and faded tinsel, taken from a common wardrobe, and fitting neither their persons
1 The Law of Population: a Treatise in Six Books, in Disproof of the Superfecundity of Human Beings, and developing the real Principle of their In orease. By MICHAEL THOMAS SADLER, M. P. 2 vols. 8vo. London: 1830
nor their parts; and who then exhibit themselves to the laughing and pitying spectators, in a state of strutting, ranting, painted, gilded beggary. "Oh, rare Daniels!" "Political economist, go and do thou likewise!" "Hear, ye political economists and anti-populationists!" 66 Population, if not proscribed and wor ried down by the Cerberean dogs of this wretched and cruel system, really does press against the level of the means of subsistence, and still elevating that level, it continues thus to urge society through advancing stages, till at length the strong and resistless hand of necessity presses the secret spring of human prosperity, and the portals of Providence fly open, and disclose to the enraptured gaze the promised land of contented and rewarded labour." These are specimens, taken at randem, of Mr. Sadler's eloquence. We could easily multiply them; but our readers, we fear, are already inclined to cry for mercy.
Much blank verse and much rhyme is also scattered through these volumes, sometimes rightly quoted, sometimes wrongly, sometimes good, sometimes insufferable, sometimes taken from Shakspeare, and sometimes, for aught we know, Mr. Sadler's own. "" Let man,” cries the philosopher, "take heed how he rashly violates his trust;" and thereupon he breaks forth into singing as follows :
"What myriads wait in destiny's dark womb,
'Tis his to blot them from the book of fate
Or, like a second Deity, create;
To dry the stream of being in its source,
Or bid it, widening, win its restless course;
While, earth and heaven replenishing, the flood
If these lines are not Mr. Sadler's, we heartily beg