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serious and dangerous error. In what degree the misconceptions and aversions of disbelievers or doubters may be attributed to the narrowness, the timidity, the repulsive spirit, or the arrogant bearing, of their censors, is a somewhat delicate question. We do not think that all with whose professed beliefs we unfeignedly agree, however we may dissent from some of their modes of expression, derived by tradition from their fathers, have given to this question the kind of attention it demands. Perhaps it would be found that the number of those who have done so is even smaller than we ourselves imagine. If it should be proved that this is the actual state of things, then, in conclusion, we must say, that a great reform-much greater than any of those to which we devote so many labours-is most imperatively called for in the churches of this land, that they may be prepared for that struggle which, whether they think of it or not, is rising, like the waters of the ocean, all around them.
ART. IV.-Life and Correspondence of the late Robert Southey. Vol. IV.
London: Longman and Co. The press is at present exceedingly rich in biographies. One might read nothing else, and yet read much. We have of late read little else. First, there was the Life of Chalmers, so tastefully and carefully got up by his able son-in-law, Dr. Hanna--a pleasing and life-like portraiture of one of the most meteoric, yet measured, of lives ever passed on earth-in which the most eccentric impulses and tendencies were united to keen common sense, and intense perseverance and practicalness, and in which, latterly, a powerful and independent genius consented to run meekly in the rut of celestial faith. We may here, by the way, state a curious and interesting fact we lately heard, on the best authority, in connexion with that biography. Our readers will remember Dr. Chalmers's correspondence with a young man of cognate genius, James Anderson, whom he was the instrument of confirming in the belief of Christianity ; how he went to College with a view to proceed to the ministry; how, under the tuition of Dr. Thomas Brown, and the restless working of his own mind, his doubts returned ; and how Dr. Hanna intimates that, although still alive, a dark cloud had come down, and continued to rest on his history. The melancholy fact is, that for twenty-five years this man, of the highest promise, has been in an asylum, where his mind had sunk into a state of
almost idiocy. But we are happy to add, that the life of Chalmers was lately put into his hands. As he read it, and especially the part relating to himself, the scales seemed to fall from his eyes—it became manifest that his soul was not dead, but only asleep. His malady has been considerably alleviated, and it is not impossible but he may even yet be seen clothed and in his right mind.'
Then we have had the life of Channing-an able and interesting, but, on the whole, gloomy, record of dark, uncertain struggles, never coming to a satisfactory termination ; exhibiting a noble, honest, Christian, but much-overrated man, who possessed neither profound insight nor high genius, but thorough integrity, calm sense, clear intellect, and considerable rhetorical force. Then we had the former volumes of Southey's life. Then we have just risen from perusing the delightfully-written life of a delightful man--the biography of Dr. Heugh, of Glasgow, by his admirable son-in-law, the Rev. H. M. M Gill-a biography where we know not whether more to admire the extreme vivacity, the energy, and the piety of the hero, or the fine taste and skill of his chronicler. And, besides, what a number of biographies may be soon expected. Those of Jeffrey, of Bowles,
. of Wordsworth, and others of similar calibre, are on the stocks, and promise us inexhaustible and uncloying pleasure. Would that the age of Spenser, Shakspere, Raleigh, and Bacon, had been one tithe as well supplied with lives. But the time was not yet come.
This fourth volume of Southey’s Life does not cast any new light upon his character, nor compel us to modify, by one iota, the general estimate we gave some months ago of his genius and character. All his merits, his indefatigable industry, his varied talent, his strong but calculable genius, his high-spirited honour, his stern principle, his attention to all domestic duties, his love to his family, are discovered here and so, too, are his faults, his self-esteem, his rigid righteousness, his intense one-sidedness, his contempt for his foes, and his bigoted attachment to his political party. Without indulging in many general remarks, we mean to follow the current of the narrative, interposing a word of our own at intervals.
The volume opens by showing us Southey in his prime (39), and commencing one of the most happy and busy sections of his life. The affairs of the Edinburgh Annual Register' have got embarrassed, and it is no longer a source of revenue to him. But this deficiency is abundantly made up by the 'Quarterly Review,' to which he has become a regular contributor, and for his contributions to which he is soon to be paid at the rate of one hundred pounds each.
We need not dwell on the merits or defects of this celebrated periodical. We have, quietly speaking, no great love for it. O'Connell was wont to describe the Standard' newspaper as 'dripping' with the blood of red Rathcormac.' We always see the dun cover of the 'Quarterly' dripping with the blood of Keats, Shelley, Hunt, and Hazlitt. Nor, to counterbalance its fearful sins of critical commission or omission, have we found, through a careful perusal of the greater part of its contents, much criticism of permanent value. No volume of selections from it would ever live. Its articles were most of them good, but few of them great. And, besides its outrageous injustice to political opponents, there was a contemptible coldness in its treatment of the productions of contemporary talent. Witness its heartless critiques on some of the first Waverley novels such as Guy Mannering?–a tale which no Scotchman, at least, can mention without the blood coming to his cheek, and the fire to his eye. By far the best papers in it were contributed by Sir W. Scott, and were unique and inimitable in their kindly spirit, their varied knowledge, the easy undress of their style, and their delicious gossip. Next to these we like the papers of Southey, which, ranging over a very wide extent and variety of subjects, are rarely so pleasant as when they seek to shed their condescending sunlight upon old and forgotten, or obscure and neglected, authors.
This was, indeed, the finest trait in Southey's character. He was a warm-hearted, yet wise and candid, literary patron-as Kirke White, Dusantoy, Herbert Knowles, E. Elliott, and others, could testify. There are various classes of literary patrons, whom it may be worth while to discriminate. There is the vain patronizer, who uses a rising writer as a stepping-stone to subserve his own selfish purposes. There is the unwise patronizer, who overpraises and spoils his protege. There is the insincere patronizer, who can say something in favour of a man-can promise to help him, but who takes care never to do it. There is the careless, half-and-half patron, who, from sheer negligence, does a man more ill than good—who first plucks him from the sea, and then lets him drop between his finger and thumb into deeper water. There is the jealous patron, who first admires, and is then base enough to envy, his man. There is the sensitive and selfish patron, who is always exacting the interest of his lent aid in full tale; and looks more sharply to the quid than to the pro quo. There is the belated patron, who, in Johnson's language, encumbers one with help. There is the haughty patron, who doles out his praise in scanty driblets, and with an air of insufferable insolence of condescension. And there is the manly, sincere, kindly, and true-hearted patron,
like Scott or Southey, who bases his blame or praise, encouragement or coldness, upon high principle—who does to another precisely what he would wish that other to do to him—whose praise is the stamp of immortality, and whose blame is like a divine caveat.
About this time, Southey wrote and published the Life of Nelson, one of the most pleasing of his works. It tells a chequered, successful, blood-spangled, and mysterious story, gracefully, if not satisfactorily. The Napoleon of the deck receives a certain softness as well as grandeur from his pen. He makes a demi-god out of a demi-man. Nelson seems to us a one-eyed game-cock, run all to spur and beak, rather than a hero. He had amazing pluck, but pluck is no more valour than cunning is wisdom. He was a mannikin, too, in stature; and in the infernal regions of war, imps, such as Alexander the Great, Suwarrow, and Napoleon, have always been favourites. Such concentrations of fury, such' essences of devil,' as John Foster would say, amaze and terrify all of us. He was maimed, too ; and the spectacle of a little man, half blown away by gunpowder, and yet ruling with his stump-sceptre the British navy, had a peculiarly poignant effect. Had he been French, his countrymen, who are passionately fond of all monstrosities, of all oda, angular greatness, would have deified him, as they did the old, grinning death’s-head of Ferney, or the little skinny corporal of Austerlitz.
In the September of 1813, Southey visited London, and met with Lord Byron, who was then, for a short time, enacting the tame lion in the saloons of society previous to his fierce and final leap over the fence into the wilderness. He was better pleased with him then than ever before or afterwards. They never could, by any possibility, have been friends, or even allies. What power could have made the pride of virtue in the one, and the pride of vice in the other—the dogmatic certainty of the one, and the shoreless scepticism of the other--the cultured and elaborate genius of Southey, and the one red swelling vein of demon power in Byron—to have coalesced? As soon might Michael and Satan, in the Vision of Judgment,' have sailed down, linked together, throughout the universe.
When in London, the laureateship, which had been declined by Scott, was offered to Southey, who accepted it, on the condition that he should only write when the spirit moved him.' We have no heart to dwell on the lays of his laureateship. They are, all and singly, a mass of ridiculous rubbish-rubbish, the more ridiculous that it is severely riddled, gravely laid down, and pompously piled up. Turn we rather to Roderick'-his
• last poem worthy of him, which glorified the next year. The
author himself considered it the best which he could ever do, and felt naturally a pang at finding himself at his climax. We would not be thought blind to its very great merits-its beautiful descriptions, its testamentary gravity, its sweet and solemn spirit, the penitential shadow which rests like a dark wing upon it all, or the sublime moralizings in which it abounds. Still
· The line labours and the words move slow.' It produces the effect which an entire poem of Alexandrines would. Its spirit is slow, its line slow, its motion slow. Can't you get on ?' is the universal feeling. Like a wounded snake, it drags its length along ;' the more provokingly, that the snake is a mighty boa. Vulcan was a god--but he limped none the less. We greatly prefer, as we stated in our former article, the *Curse of Kehama,' the wild enchantment and ethereal horror of which bring it to the very threshold of the highest works of creative genius.
““Roderick” was scarcely launched before the battle of Waterloo roused all the Tory gratitude in Southey's nature. He celebrated it by a bonfire upon Skiddaw-a piece of poetical tomfoolery which forms rather a pleasing exception to the staid formality of his usual life, and where poor Wordsworth, while staring, probably, at a star, and speculating at what angle it best gave
him the idea of the Infinite, stumbled over a kettle containing the punch-water, and overturned it.' We wonder how such wise men as Southey and Wordsworth could have dreamed, even for an hour, that the battle of Waterloo was a final stop to the revolutionary current-in any sense, 'the Armageddon of the world. Not thus did the sagacious minds of Coleridge or De Quincey regard it. Hall, too, thought it had put the clock of Europe back several degrees. There was not, perhaps,
, enough of the revolutionary element extant in Southey's mind to foresee that this was only a single wave broken on the shore, while the mighty stream of tendency must necessarily gain ground. Byron was a wiser seer when he said, the Powers war against the Peoples. Blood may be shed like water, and tears like mist; but the Peoples will conquer in the end.' Let these words be pondered now by those wiseacres who dream that the volcanoes in Hungary, Italy, and Germany, are asleep for ever. The revolutionary demon has only had another reel in his terrible dance done; he must rise, and, perhaps with Ruin as his partner for a season, have his dance out. The sea and the waves must roar louder and louder still, ere the great calm of the milder day shall arrive.
To Waterloo, with a third of Britain, Southey hied, partly to gratify curiosity, and partly to find matter for a poem. Behind