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dawn is fringing the orient clouds with gold. Picturesqueness is the attribute which renders this particular aspect of man the best adapted for representing him in a poetical light. His actions appear in it more impulsive and less involved; and, from the alternations of light and shade, with a more aerial perspective, the world is in it rendered a fitter theatre alike for

"The painter's pencil and the poet's pen."

This was the very state of things existing at the commencement of the present century; and with it a new grand epoch of the world's history was to begin. A band of giant intellects, as in the days of Elizabeth, was again to illumine the foot-hardened and cloudshadowed pathways of literature and of science. Old feelings were to be set aside, old customs to be abrogated, old manners to pass into oblivion; and out of bloodshed and confusion, and revolutions civil and religious, a new order of things was to arise,-gloomy, ghastly, deplorable, and hopeless, according to some; but, according to the sun-bright hopes of more ardent spirits, freighted with

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a progeny of golden years, Permitted to descend and bless mankind."

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Far, as yet, have these Elysian dreams been from perfect fulfilment; yet have we every reason to plume ourselves, when we regard what has been done for literature by Scott, by Wordsworth, by Byron, by Crabbe, by Coleridge, by Wilson, by Campbell, by Southey, and their compeers; and what science has achieved through Watt, through Davy, through Herschel, through Dalton, through Brewster, through Wheatstone, through Faraday, and others. By the steam-engine we have conquered alike the winds and the waters; and, from their being the masters, have made them the slaves of man. The great phenomena



of nature, resulting from electricity and magnetism and galvanism, have now been nearly ascertained to have one common origin; while, in the electric telegraph, space has been annihilated by the same wondrous agent; which realises the line of Pope, by

"Wafting a sigh from Indus to the Pole ;"

and may, almost without metaphor, be said to be the fire which Prometheus is fabled to have stolen from heaven. When we consider, moreover, that all these things are as yet only in a state of infantine progression, we have reason to be proud, not only of our day and generation in its literary and scientific men, but of the ample modicum of germinating knowledge which that generation has contributed for the furtherance of the best interests of mankind throughout all future ages.

To appreciate this, so far as literature is concerned— and with poetical literature we have now alone to do— we have only to take a rapid bird's-eye glance backwards. Many circumstances, whether civil, religious, or both, contributed to make a marked separation between the age of Anne and that of Elizabeth. Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, had been succeeded by Dryden, Cowley, and Pope; while the dreary gulf between them had been almost wholly given up to civil broil, sectarian controversy, and fanatical persecution. A better order of things had at length been established. The veto which had been put on Fancy was removed, and Pegasus was permitted to capricole. The passionate energy of the national mind, which had been allowed to find exhibition and exercise only in the great drama of politics, now found vent in other channels; talent shot forth its hydra heads in every department of the social field; while genius, freed from the shackles of superstition and prejudice, owned no restraints but those legitimately imposed on it by morality and religion.



It is not to be denied that, with the departed order of things, some peculiarities worth preservation were necessarily swept away-as the American floods, while they hurry down debris and drift-wood, may also whirl away to the ocean particles of gold mixed up with their turbid waves. With the increase of national power and wealth perished much that contributed to the nutrition of its infant strength. The bold bluff freedom and heartiness of English manners, when

""Twas merry in the hall,
When beards wagged all'

when every passing stranger had his seat at board, and every beggar had his dole, had been gradually subsiding into the technicalities of grade, the finicalness of address, and the formalities of polite decorum. Old customs, handed down from generation to generation, were allowed to fall into desuetude : Yule and Christmas were shorn of half their festivities; and young ladies began to think the games of hunt-the-slipper, hotcockles, blind-man's-buff, and snap-dragon, antiquated and vulgar. As with the pursuits, so with the person. The same change took place in dress and in manners, as in the habits of thought, and the contour of dialogue. Nature and warm-heartedness were being gradually superseded by art and luxury. We were becoming what the French were at the time, and what the Greeks and Romans had been before us-a polished nation. Cities increased, and arts and agriculture flourished, while year after year man was reduced more and more into a mere machine. The elements of romance were gradually and steadily, although imperceptibly, disappearing from the land, and the hills and valleys of Britain became a more flourishing but far less poetical region.

In the first great era of our national literature-that of Spenser, and Shakespeare, and Milton, and Taylor,

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and Hooker, and Bacon, and Browne, each of whom may be regarded as the fountain of separate great rivers, whose branching waters were intellectually to fertilise the land-we discover that their materials were found in great first principles-in the grand and overboiling emotions of the heart-in the passions, whose display stamp character-in the heroic as to action, and the tender as to feeling. The materials of the second grand era-that of Dryden, Pope, and Swift-are admirably huddled together in the lines of Cowper :

"Roses for the cheeks,

And lilies for the brows of faded age;

Teeth for the toothless, ringlets for the bald;

Heaven, earth, and ocean, plundered of their sweets;
Nectareous essences, Olympian dews,

Sermons, and city feasts, and favourite airs;

Ethereal journeys, submarine exploits ;

And Katerfelto, with his hair on end

At his own wonders, wondering for his bread."

The great forte of Pope and his school lay in their acquaintance with, and skilful depicturing of, the fashions, follies, and frivolities of polished life, wherein art is made, in a great measure, to supersede nature in subject, style, and expression. His imagination never hurries him away on the pinions of inspiration, nor is the music of his verse like that of the old ballad-a simple

"melody, That's sweetly played in tune."

His taste keeps his fancy in check, and is continually pruning her wing. His versification loses occasionally its raciness, from being laboured into mellifluousness. He deals not with the great passions of the human heart-love, jealousy, hatred, remorse, despair; he is all for parlour-window ethics, and the niceties of morale. His heroes are beaux, battered or unbattered; his heroines are belles, of the same descriptions; his levée


is made up of courtiers, generals, gamesters, artists, authors, and men about town. His females are madams and their maids-ladies dressed out in the pink of fashion, who dispose themselves in knots through the drawing-rooms,


"Some sipping scandal, and some sipping tea."

From the windows of the house we have a glimpse of nature indeed; but it consists of shaven lawns and clipped hedges, and diamonded parterres, beyond which are parks redolent of tame deer, artificial cascades, and Chinese bridges. Pope had, however, this-his own enchanted circle

"And in that circle none durst walk but he,"

save as an humble follower. He was among the most perfect of English writers, and will ever stand on one of the summits of the three-peaked hill, as the author of the "Essay on Man "-of the "Windsor Forest "-of the "Epistle of Abelard to Eloïse "-of the "Elegy on an Unfortunate Lady"—and of "The Messiah ”—and as the yet unsurpassed translator of Homer. Let no one imagine, therefore, that I have no relish for his beauties, simply because I think them of a less magnificent order than those of some of his great predecessors. Indeed, it would be as vain to look for another Alexander Pope as for another Edmund Spenser.

The influence of this school-whose origin may be traced back to the poets and dramatists of the age of Charles the Second, which acquired stability from the transcendent powers of Dryden, and which was perfected by Pope-continued its mastery, as I have already remarked, until almost the commencement of the present century. A dawn of better things showed itself in Akenside and in Thomson, and expanded into the daylight with Cowper. To him we are to look as the great regenerator of our modern poetry, for his star

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