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The editor's notes upon the various communications display extensive reading; but we wish he had bestowed a little more attention upon the correction of the press; it is pity that so handsome a volume should be disfigured by so many typographical errors.
Art. XI.-Woman: a Poem. By the Author of The Heroine.'
12mo. pp. 121. 1818. THE preface to this little volume is written with peculiar candour
and modesty. Mr. Barrett, it informs us, published, some time since, a poem on the same subject, and felt all the irritation, common in such cases, at finding it universally condemned by the critics. After the lapse of a few years, however, he himself began to discover, that his ' favourite performance was written in a false taste; and as, when we begin to hate, we generally hate that most which we had before loved best, so Mr. Barrett, it seems, managed to contract a most unqualified abhorrence for his quondam Dalilah. The consequence was, that he drew his pen, with a vindictive resolution to exterminate it from every earthly library. We know not where to look in the annals of literature for a similar instance of an author, who professedly sets up himself against himself, and assiduously endeavours to run down his own production. At the same time, we trust he has not acted in a dishonourable manner towards his earlier love, and resorted to the contemptible expedient of injuring it by invidious attacks in the periodical journals. As, on this occasion, he lies entirely at the mercy of himself, he is bound, we think, to exercise bis power with moderation, and not to take an ungenerous advantage of his own acrimony against his own work.
But while we indulge a simile at the suicidal hostility of Mr. Barrett, we are far from wishing to leave any ultimate impression of ridicule upon it. On the contrary, as critics, whose suggestions are almost always taken in ill part by authors, we feel interested in recommending to their imitation the ingenuous example of this poet, and in calling their especial attention to the following extract from bis preface. After acquainting us with his mortifying discovery of the defects in his former work, he adds,
• But, at least, the discovery contained a moral. It showed that we should listen with deference to those critics whose taste differs from our own, since even our own, in process of time, may differ from itself.'
We may, therefore, suppose him quite sincere, when he says,
• Indeed, I had formed so erroneous an estimate of my former work, that I am almost afraid to hope any thing from this, and I can most conscientiously add, that my chief feelings on the subject are doubt and apprehension.'
We now come to the work itself. However Mr. Barrett may pique himself upon the subject which he has chosen, we must take leave to dissent from his opinion of its peculiar happiness.' In the first place, we consider the question with respect to the station which the female sex should hold in society, as long since settled in theory, and as pretty generally reduced to practice. In times immediately previous to the commencement of chivalry, when women were really degraded and despised, his vindication of their claims would have acquired an importance which it is not so likely to enjoy in the present age. For what sympathy can he now hope to extract from his male readers, when the greater part of them will probably peruse his work in a drawing-room, the very seat of female despotism, where a thousand ceremonials of homage give the' lie direct to the predominance of the lordly sex? and where the finest couplet is liable to be broken off by the polite indispensibility of getting up to hand a chair?
Of all this, however, the author himself seems so well aware, that he has dedicated but a very small portion of his poem to the statement of the grievances of woman-much the greater part being occupied in describing her attractions. And here again we must beg permission to say, that however beautiful each individual attraction may appear, there is the same sort of monotony in a professed catalogue and collection of them, that we should experience in a sculptor's exhibition-room, where the Graces and Muses and Virtues were crowded around us, and where the only distinction between them was in the drapery, attitude and symbols. We might, indeed, acknowledge that each statue was charming in itself, but on viewing the whole series together, we should wish for some combination of action, or at least for the interposition of a Hercules or a Laocoon, to give contrast and animation to the groupe.
In fact, there remains so little doubt now-a-days, that a due elevation of females in society bestows full as much dignity and comfort on ourselves as on them, that a poem which goes only to prove it, cannot pretend to the popular advantages which result from a disputed theory. We might add too, that the theme itself is already sufficiently hackneyed, for we have innumerable prose disquisitions on it. And, although it may not till now, perhaps, have been professedly treated in English poetry, we can scarcely open one tuneful page in which the praises of woman are not introduced by way of subsidiary ornaments.
The poem opens with an elegiac tribute to the memory of the lamented Princess Charlotte, to whom, it appears, the author was in the act of dedicating the work, when intelligence of the fatal catastrophe reached him. Of this circumstance he has taken advantage, and judiciously varied the almost unavoidable sameness of monody with an incident at once poetical and affecting.
The poet then proceeds to recount the causes from which the former oppression of the sex arose, and the moral improvements from which we may deduce their present state of exaltation. This is followed by a comparison between the two sexes, as to their distinct qualifications and duties.
• To Woman, whose best books are human hearts,
And her's that passive patience which sustains.'-pp. 30, 31. An enumeration of those virtues in which the poet conceives ours to be excelled by the softer sex, closes with the following charming passage.
• To guard that Virtue, to supply the place
Love pauses, Vice retracts his glozing tale.' The next four lines are peculiarly happy. They have (to us at least) all the brilliancy of invention, combined with the sobriety of truth.
Not she with trait'rous kiss her Saviour stung,
Last at his cross and earliest at his grave.'-p. 34. The conclusion of this part is very creditable to the poet's feelings—it is in a strain of patriotism, pure, ardent, and even sublime.
Mr. Barrett proceeds, in the next canto, to derive the influence of woman from those virtues, and from various other attractions, some of which are enumerated in the following pleasing and ele.
With amiable defects of nature born,
And tame imperious might with winning charms.'-pp. 47, 48. Amongst the sources of female influence, beauty of course could not be omitted; accordingly, after a gay and animated description of a girl of fifteen, the portrait of a more matured loveliness is exhibited. The picture, though chaste, we had almost said pure, is yet somewhat too luxuriant for our pages; but we gladly borrow the closing lines. After observing that every other object of art or nature palls on the eye, if long beheld, the poet adds,
- But unallay'd,
Light up the glorious image from within !'-pp. 55, 56.
which concludes this canto, is, on the whole, the most interesting and highly wrought part of the poem; as such, we recommend it to the notice of our readers. We cannot afford space for any extracts from it.
The third canto is occupied with a topic not particularly new to poetry-love; something original however is contrived. The symptoms of this passion, and the enchanting trivialities' of courtship are well designed; and the following passage, though not novel in thought, is pretty in expression.
There is a language by the virgin made,
So soft, so wistful, so sincere, so kind,' &c.—pp. 81, 82. The tempest in the subsequent episode enables Mr. Barrett to VOL. XIX. NO, XXXVII.
display more lofty powers of description, and the first four lines struck us as particularly simple and vigorous.
• The sun set red, the clouds were scudding wild,
A hoarser murmur and a heavier wave.'--p. 85. The poem ends with exhibiting woman in her natural sphere,the gentle guardian of rural and domestic retirement.
We have not read Mr. Barrett's former work on this subject, but we may venture to assure him, that those faults of style which he attributes to it, do not exist in the present. We might indeed point out several blemishes of a verbal nature, but we shall content ourselves with stating, in general terms, that they appear, for the most part, to originate in too much solicitude with regard to language; the versification though combining, as our readers must have observed, conciseness and strength with a considerable degree of harmony, is yet, from want of variety in the modulation of its pauses, occasionally cloying and oppressive.
On the whole, however, Mr. Barrett has evinced both talent and genius in his little poem, and sustained a flight far above the common level. Some passages of it, and those not a few, are of the first order of the pathetic and descriptive; we hope, therefore, (in compliance to our own judgment,) that he will not, after another lapse of years, quarrel with his present lady as he did with his first; nor, with the characteristic inconstancy of all professed admirers of the sex, repudiate and vilify a second Woman, for the sake of adopting a third.
Art. XII.-The Holy Bible, newly translated from the original
Hebrew ; with Notes critical and explanatory. By John Bel
lamy, Author of • The History of all Religions. London. 1818. WE VE can scarcely conceive an employment of more serious re
sponsibility, than that of translating the Holy Scriptures from their original languages. When we consider that they convey the word of the Most High to man, and unfold those truths which concern his eternal interests, it is of the utmost importance that their meaning should be clearly given, without addition or diminution, without
admixture, perversion or corruption, that those who cannot peruse them in the original tongues may be enabled to ascertain their contents with the greatest possible accuracy.
This was forcibly felt by the government in the reign of James the First, when our present authorized version was made with every human provision for accuracy and general excellence. The work, which was then produced by the joint labour of the