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poet. His letters are perhaps unequalled in our language, for ease, grace, and sprightliness.

The first poem in his works is that of “ Table Talk,” a dialogue between A. and B., in which are discussed regal and military glory,

" And liberty, the pris'ner's pleasing dream ;

The poet's muse, his passion and his theme.” I select a passage in which B. replies to the question

of A. :

“Now tell me, if you can, what pow'r maintains

A Briton's scorn of arbitrary chains." The reply, at all events, reconciles us to our climate, and justly makes reference to that respect for our laws which is among the characteristics of an Englishman :

“ The cause, tho' worth the search, may yet elude

Conjecture and remark, however shrewd.
They take, perhaps, a well-directed aim,
Who seek it in his climate and his frame.
Liberal in all things else, yet nature here
With stern severity deals out the year :
Winter invades the spring, and often pours
A chilling flood on summer's drooping flowers ;
Unwelcome vapours quench autumnal beams,
Ungenial blasts attending, curl the streams;
The peasants urge their harvest, ply their fórk
With double toil, and shiver at their work;
Thus with a vigour, for his good designed,
She rears her favourite man, of all mankind;
His form robust, and of elastic tone,
Proportioned well, half muscle and half bone;
Supplies with warm activity and force
A mind well-lodged, and masculine, of course.
Hence liberty, sweet liberty inspires,
And keeps alive his fierce but noble fires.
Patient of constitutional control,
He bears it with meek manliness of soul;
But if authority grow wanton, woe
To him that treads upon his free-born toe;
One step beyond the boundary of the laws
Fires him at once in freedom's glorious cause.
Thus proud prerogative, not much revered,
ls seldom felt, though sometimes seen and heard ;
And in his cage, like parrot fine and gay,
Is kept to strut, look big, and talk away.

The next poem is entitled “The Progress of Error.” He traces its progress through various channels, reprobating the too general abandonment to music, and to the chace; especially denouncing

“ The cassock'd huntsman and the fiddling priest;" and severely commenting on the hypocrisy of justifying a Sunday evening concert, by our affecting to be only influenced by the sacred title of the music. Card-playing, and the dance,-the "rank debauch” which suits the “filthy taste" of one man, and the finnikin indulgences of another, which he regards as equally bad, -are next attacked; and here we have an example of the wholesomeness of Cowper's writings, which allow of no distinction between the criminality of those gross indulgences which are offensive to taste, and those of more refined character which he conceives equally injurious to good morals, and subversive of religion.

Even the poet must be viewed with caution:

“ The sacred in plement [poetry? I now employ,
Might prove a mischief, or at best a toy :
A trifle--if it move but to amuse;
But if to wrong the judgment, and abuse,-
Worse than a poignard in the basest hand,

It stabs at once the morals of the land !" He next attacks the sentimental novelist as affording a covert means for error's progress; and, with just severity, lashes the seductive, but graceful writings of Lord Chesterfield,

“The polish'd and high-finished foe to truth,

Greybeard corrupter of our listening youth." He thence proceeds to trace the progress of a young gentleman, from school, through college and continental travels, home again; shewing, with exquisite humour, how in the professed search of accomplishments, the progress of error may be advanced by misuse of our earlier years. This so illustrates the satiric humour of the poet, that I shall extract the

passage.

The lash at antiquarianism is peculiarly amusing; but this is a folly-not a vice :

From school to Cam or Isis, and thence home,

And thence with all convenient speed to Rome;
With rev'rend tutor, clad in habit lay,
To tease for cash, and quarrel with ail day ;
With memorandum-book for every town,
And every post, and where the chaise broke down :
His stock, a few French phrases got by heart,
With much to learn, but nothing to in part;
The youth, obedient to his sire's commands,
Sets off a wand'rer into foreign lands.
Surprised at all they meet, the gosling pair,
With awkward gait, stretch'd neck, and silly stare,
Discover huge cathedrals built with stone,
And steeples tow'ring high, much like our own;
But show peculiar light, by many a grin,
At Popish practices observed within.

Ere long, some bowing, smirking, smart Abbé
Remarks two loiterers that have lost their way;
And being always primed with politesse
For men of their appearance and address,
With much compassion undertakes the task,
To tell them more than they have wit to ask ;
Points to inscriptions wheresoe'er they tread,
Such as, when legible, were never read,
But being canker'd now, and half worn out,
Craze antiquarian brains with endless doubt :
Some headless hero, or some Cæsar shows,
Defective only in his Roman nose;
Exhibits elevations, drawings, plans,
Models of Herculanean pots and pans,
And sells them medals, which, if neither rare
Nor ancient, will be so, preserved with ca re.

Strange the recital ! from whatever cause
His great improvement and new lights he draws,
The Squire, once bashful, is shame-faced no more,
But teems with pow’rs he never felt before :
Whether increased momentum, and the force
With which from clime to clime he sped his course,
As axles sometimes kindle as they go,
Chafed him, and brought dull nature to a glow;
Or whether clearer skies and softer air,
That make Italian flow'rs so sweet and fair,
Fresh’ning his lazy spirits as he ran,
Unfolded genially, and spread the man ;-
Returning, he proclaims by many a grace,
By shrugs and strange contortions of his face,
How much a dunce that has been sent to roam,
Excels a dunce that has been kept at home.”

66

The poet next alludes to the mischief of vain authors in producing, and of the hireling press in publishing, short-sighted and misdirected speculations on the more obscure passages

in the pages of divine truth ; and pronouncing sincerity as the only claimant to a mansion in the sky,” points to the cross, and so concludes this poem.

The next poem is entitled “Truth ;" the writer's object being to advocate scriptural truth as the only truth for a professing Christian. The most valuable passage in the poem, is perhaps that in which the writer answers the question

“ Is virtue, then, unless of Christian growth,

Mere fallacy, or foolishness, or both ?" No, says he–let the virtuous heathen, who was “not blind by choice, but destined not to see,”-let him, and all others of past or present ages, who have done well with the partial light of reason, or in spite of the false lights, or the no light, in which they have been born, let them take, unenvied, the reward they sought; but let it be at the same time remembered that

“He who scorns the midday sun, perverse,

Shall find the blessing unimproved a curse !" Leaving the virtuous heathen of antiquity in possession of his reward, he proceeds to consider the respective claims of certain others of his own day; and having shown that the bigotry of the Christian hermit may have as little or even less—to do with truth, than the self-torturing devotions of the Indian Brahmin, he gives the portrait of another religionist, --the grand archtype of much that still prevails, more or less, among those who think that the ob servance of stated formalisms will constitute their claim to fellowship in the communion of saints. It is a curious evidence, too, to the regard which Cowper had for the satirical power of the painter

Hogarth. Usually the painter illustrates the poet; but here the poet describes the picture, to illustrate his own coincident impression. The following portrait of a bitterly religious old maid going to church on a morning as cold as her piety, and as bare of comfort as her own denuded bosom, is an accurate copy, in verse, of Hogarth's picture entitled “Morning:"

Yon ancient prude, whose withered features show

She might be young some forty years ago;
Her elbows pinioned close upon her hips,
Her head erect, her fan upon her lips,
Her eyebrows arched, her eyes both gone astray
To watch yon amorous couple in their play;
With bony and unkerchiefed neck defies
The rude inclemency of wintry skies ;
And sails, with lappet-head and mincing airs,
Duly at chink of bell to morning prayers.
To thrift and parsimony much inclined,
She yet allows herself that boy behind;
The shivering urchin, bending as he goes,
With slipshod heels, and dewdrop at his nose ;
His predecessor's coat advanced to wear,
Which future pages yet are doomed to share;
Carries her Bible

tucked beneath his arm,
And hides his hands to keep his fingers warm.

She, half an angel in her own account,
Doubts not hereafter with the saints to mount,
Though not a grace appears, on strictest search,
But that she fasts, and item, goes to church.
Conscious of age, she recollects her youth,
And tells--not always with an eye to truth-
Who spanned her waist, and who, where'er he came,
Serawled upon glass Miss Bridget's lovely name;
Who stole her slipper, filled it with tokay,
And drank the little bumper every day.
Of temper as envenomed as an asp,
Censorious, and her every word a wasp;
In faithful memory she records the crimes
Or real, or fictitious, of the times ;
Laughs at the reputations she has torn,
And holds them dangling at arm's length in scorn.

Such are the fruits of sanctimonious pride,
Of malice fed while flesh is mortified:
Take, madam, the reward of all your prayers,
Where hermits and where brahmins meet with theirs.
Your portion is with them.--Nay, never frown,
But, if you please, some fathoms lower down.'

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