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silence of midnight, I have been startled by a peal of “ triple bub-majors," which, in performing their foolish ceremony of ringing out the old year, send forth their inappropriate echoes into the universal darkness, and scare the repose of nature with their obstreperous mirth. It is an unballowed and irreverent mode of solemnising the twelvemonth's death. It is as if at the funeral of a deceased parent a rejoicing chime should suddenly burst like a peal of laughter from the belfry, instead of the sad-slow-deep toll of the single passing bell. These iron tongues should not be allowed to shout out their indecent merriment at a consummation franght with so many inscrutable mysteries and appalling associations. What! are we cannibals so to rejoice that a portion of our best friends has been actually eaten up by the omnivorous maw of time? Are we saints and of the elect so fully prepared for the blow of death that we can carol at being brought three hundred and sixty-five days nearer to the edge of his scythe?-Perhaps it may be urged, that these noisy vibrations are rather meant to salute the present than the past year, to celebrate a birth, not a death, to welcome the coming rather than to speed the parting guest: and that upon the accession of a new year, as of a new king, their brazen and courtier-like loyalty finds more delight in the glory which is rising and full of promise, than in that which has just set and can bestow no more. The ancients divided their annual homage with a less obsequious selfishness. Janus, who stood between the two years, gave his name indeed to the first month, but he was provided with a double face, that by gazing as steadfastly upon past as future time he might inculcate upon his worshipers the wisdom of being retrospective as well as provident. But Janus was an ancient and a god; had he been a modern and a man, he would have known better!
However it may have been partially misapplied and wasted, the last year may still, perhaps, have materially advanced the sum of human happiness, and as it is impossible to solve this point by an examination of individual evidence, we will decide it by a show of hands. All you who are as much or more discontented with your present lot, than you were twelve months ago, please to hold up your hand.—Heavens! what an atmosphere of palms, gentle and simple, fair and furrowed, cosmeticised and unwashed; what a forest of digits, some sparkling with diamonds, some unadorned, and a whole multitude cinctured with the wedding-ring !--You, on the contrary, who feel yourselves happier than you were—hold up your hands. Alack ! what a pitiful minority ! A few youths who left school at the last Christmas holidays, and an equal number of girls who, having dismissed their governesses, are to come out this season. Young and sanguine dupes, enjoy your happiness while ye may: I am not serpent enough to whisper a syllable in your ear that might accelerate the loss of your too fleeting paradise!
ON THE DEATH OF RIEGO.
They bore him forth to meet his end,
The hero of his time,
Hallows in every clime.
Exulting saw him die,
At damning misery.
And treachery refined,
The triumphs of his mind.
it booted not he With dying prophecy Should warn the recreants of the doom
Vengeance is bringing nigh. That doom is on the rolls of Fate,
'Tis register'd and seal'd,
Should blast them unanneal'd.
Its growth is sure though slow,
For the destroyer's woe. Then life's last agonies no more
Shall glut a tyrant's hate, Nor ignorance cowld, nor perjury crown'd
Curse Spain's unhappy state. Then from some mighty intellect
The banded kings shall fly,
More just to liberty.
Is ever vainly shed,
'Tis heard among the dead.
'Tis seen upon the cloud, It calls amid the ocean's roar,
And from the tempest loud.
Indignant nations rise,
Man's nobler destinies !
PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE OF COWPER.* Perhaps no poet of modern times excites a more perfect sympathy in the reader than Cowper--there is no one with whom we cherish, and desire to cherish, so purely personal a feeling. But this feeling, though created and called forth by means of his writings, does not point at them, or even seem to bave any necessary connexion with or dependence upon them. It is not with his writings that we sympathise; so far from it, there are many portions of these which we peruse with pain, and turn away from not without indignation. And the parts which we do admire, and which unquestiooably include a large proportion of the whole, do not lay hold of our affections, or fix themselves upon our memory, as those of many other poets do. We do not dwell and harp upon them, and repeat them to ourselves, and quote them to others, and dream of them, and recur to them in the midst of other things, without being able to avoid it. He has no passages that haunt us like a strain of music, and will not be got rid of. We are able to lay his poetry down, and take it up again, just as we please--to put it on and off, like a garment. But it is not so with our abstract notion of the man. In him, and in all that seems to concern him, we feel a personal interest : and after a time we read his writings, not so much for their own sake, as for his, and because we desire to know all his feelings, and the causes and consequences of them ; we read them as a means, not as an end—as a means of reading him.
This was strikingly the case even before the publication of Hayley's Life of the poet. But when that took place, the feelings of personal regard which had before been called forth by Cowper's poetry, became encreased to a pitch of almost painful interest by means of the letters which bis biographer, with a kind of unconscious judgment and good taste, substituted in the place of any other detail of the writer's life : fori" Hayley's Life of Cowper" is luckily to be found no where but in the title-page of bis volumes—the poet being permitted to tell his own story, so far as it suited the views of his friend to let that story appear. The letters to which we now refer, were, almost immediately on their appearance, allowed to take their station beside the most distinguished productions of any time or country, in the class to which they belong. And they in fact deserve that station; a very great proportion of them being models of the epistolary style, in point of ease, grace, and unaffected simplicity; and being, moreover, the pure effusions of as gentle and tender a heart as ever beat within a human bosom. But Cowper's letters, as they appeared in the publication alluded to, were calculated to engender other feelings than those of admiration towards themselves, and affectionate regard towards the writer of them. Previously to this time, certain parts of his poetry, which need not now be particularly referred to, had raised suspicions that something was at work in the writer's mind which ought not to have been there. There was occasionally a tone of feeling, and a turn of
Private Correspondence of William Cowper, Esq. with several of his most intimate Friends, Now first published from the Originals in the possession of his kinsman John Johnson, LL.D. rector of Yaxham with Welborne, in Norfolk. 2 vols. Bvo.
expression, which seemed to indicate, either that the writer's views on the subjects which he treated were unsettled and utterly at variance among themselves, or (what it was scarcely possible to believe) that they were not put forth to the world with that thorough good faith, without which one of their chief charms would have been wanting. Now, the letters published by Hayley in 1806 were pretty generally supposed to have explained this apparent inconsistency. They discovered to us, in the poet of The Task, a being with natural qualities and dispositions, both of mind and body, calculated to render him blest in fiimself, and a delight and blessing to all around him--with an eye proné'to discover, all natural and moral beauty wherever it existed--a heart ever open to receive that beauty, and to leap with joy at the acquisition of it and'a mind gifted with the almost magical power of multiplying that beauty, and spreading it abroad upon all other minds and hearts within its' reach. "But in discovering to us these natural qualities and dispod sitions, they also discovered that, from some source or other,'a fatal taint had found its' way among them--a plague spot was every now and then visible, which, if it did not spread over and disfigure all, at least announced the presence of an influence which was likely to do so during every moment that it lasted. In plainer language, if it be needed, the letters of Cowper, as published by Mr. Hayley, discovered to us that, during the whole long period in which they, as well as his poetry, were written, the writer of them was labouring under an intellectual malady, complicated in its nature, and in its effects more fatal to the sufferer and more pitiable to the beholder than perhaps any other of the kind on record ;--hat in fact Cowper,' at those periods when he was not actually in a state of mental darkness or aberration, was perpetually dreading the immediate approach of such a state, and was at the same time perpetually taking the very surest means of bringing that state upon him, by pampering the growth of certain religious views which had taken entire and exclusive possession of his active and susceptible, but somewhat timid imagination; and which views were utterly at variance with the perceptions of his quick and pénetrating intellect, and the impulses and suggestions of his pure and gentle heart.
This is what the letters in question disclosed to the sympathising reader. But, if we remember them rightly, this is all that they disclosed; thus leaving the matter still involved in a painful plexing mystery-leaving us still in doubt as to the relation between the innate and the external source of Cowper's malady, or whether the one had any necessary connexion with the other: in short, giving us' no clue by which to find our way to the beginning of that malady, or to trace its progress ;-but only permitting us to see a few of its wretched consequences, and to weep over its fatal end.
It is not our present intention to enquire minutely into the question, whether Hayley was justified in withholding from the world the clue above alluded to-supposing that he possessed it; or whether, on the other hand, those persons were so justified who afterwards, in 1815 and 1816, furnished the world with something of the kind, in the shape of a Posthumous memoir of Cowper's early life, written by his own liand. We conceive that these are matters with which the public have little or no concern. They, the public, may be perfectly justified
in receiving and applying to their own purposes, what the persons who supply them may have been imprudent or impolitic, or even grossly unjustifiable, in placing at their disposal. And on the other hand, we do not know that they have any right to complain of an editor who prefers his views, of letting them know no more than he wishes them to know, to theirs, of knowing all that is to be known. Certain it is, however, that, in the case more immediately before us, the public are anxious to know the real truth; and it is equally certain that they have not hitherto received the clue which will lead them
Whether that clue has not at last been placed in their hands, is a question which we shall not absolutely determine, except for ourselves- since it involves matter almost too delicate and at the same time too dangerous for a public journalist to handle ; but we are greatly mistaken if the unprejudiced reader will find any difficulty in making the decision for himself, after he has perused some of the interesting and affecting matter to which we now call his particular attention.
The work before us consists of two additional volumes of the private letters of Cowper to his most intimate friends; and it is ushered into the world by a Preface explaining the views of the editor, Dr. J. Johnson, the poet's kinsman in putting it forth, and the sources from whence it has been obtained ; and adding, what will perhaps be considered as unnecessary at least, the testimony of two of the editor's friends as to the merit and interest of the matter : though we can so easily excuse the said editor for printing the elegant eulogy of one of those friends, that we shall follow his example, and insert it here, as well in justification of what we may hereafter have to say in favour of the work, as to furnish the reader with an opinion which he may safely accept as worth more than any anonymous one that is likely to be offered to him.
“ It is quite unnecessary to say that I perused the letters with great admiration and delight. I have always considered the letters of Mr. Cowper as the finest specimen of the epistolary style in our language ; and these appear to me of a superior description to the former, as much beauty with more piety and pathos. To an air of inimitable ease and carelessness, they unite a bigh degree of correctness, such as could result only from the clearest intellect, combined with the most finished taste. I have scarcely found a single word which is capable of being exchanged for a better.
“ Literary errors I can discern none. The selection of words and the structure of the periods are inimitable ; they present as striking a contrast as can well be conceived, to the turgid verbosity which passes at present for fine writing, and which bears a great resemblance to the degeneracy which marks the style of Ammianus Marcellinus, as compared to that of Cicero or of Livy. A perpetual effort and struggle is made to supply the place of vigour, garish and dazzling colours are substituted for chaste ornament, and the hideous distortions of weakness for native strength. In my humble opinion, the study of Cowper's prose may, on this account, be as useful in forming the taste of young people as his poetry."-Extract of a letter to the editor from the Rev. R. Hall, of Leicester,
With respect to the other parts of this explanatory preface, we learn from it, that, with the exception of one series, the letters now published had been previously submitted to Mr. Hayley, and by him rejected, as not suited to the views of his publication. Now this notification, which could not in candour be withheld by the editor, but