Sidor som bilder


Art. IX. Three Discourses on the Case of the Animal Creation, and

the Duties of Man to them. By the Rev. James Plumptre, B.D.

12mo. 38. London. 1816. THERE is no stronger proof of the deep depravity of lainan

nature, than its awful and universal tendency to cruelty and oppression. The law of the strongest is the universal code, exa cept in those instances where experience has taught the weak the necessity of combining in counteraction of the tyranny of the powerful; and even these combinations have too often termi. nated only in a despotism of a different kind, that of the many to the prejudice of the few. But the oppressions which are exa ercised by man over his fellow man, are seldom entirely unrestrained, or wholly unmitigated; there are so many restrictions, so many considerations, both of feeling and of prudence, so many ties and connexions arising out of the various institutions of society, even in its most inartificial form, all of which tend to diminish the power or to check the fierceness of the oppressor, that it is comparatively a rare event to find a tyrant, either in public or in private life, give full scope to his passions ; and if one occasionally appears who indulges the savageness of his spirit, his premature fall generally affords an additional illustration of the maxim, that the throne of despotism has no foundations.

In the case of the animal creation,' however, none of these checks and restraints exist; men bave tongues, have strength, have craft and subtlety, to work their liberation, or to appal their oppressors; but brutes, except in the casual exercise of undistinguishing rage, or impotent resistance, have no defence from their tormentors; they are bound, beaten, overtasked; their inost easily and cleaply supplied wants are left unsatisfied; aud their eloquent, though inarticulate complainings, awaken no emotion in the hard and selfish hearts of those to whose care they are committed. And by far the greater portion of their suffering, is the effect, not of deliberate, but of thoughtless cruelty ; in in, numerable instances, man has only to reflect, and he ceases to be selfish, by taking an enlightened view of his interests, and his responsibilities. We cannot then but give a cordial reception to every publication which has for its intention to turn the mind back upon itself, and direct its meditation to salutary and merciful objects.

Mr. Plumptre in his first twofdiscourses, investigates the Scriptural statements respecting man's relation to the inferior creatures, and in the third inquires, in a more particular and systematic way, into the duties wbich man owes to the animals

committed to bis care.' If we have not, in the perusal of these essays, been very strongly impressed by any great depth or

originality of thought or research, we have been highly gratified by the humanity of spirit and sounduess of mind exemplified by the Author. A more popular and glowing eloquence would, no doubt, have recommended them to a more extensive sphere of usefulness; but though not highly wrought, they are correctly and agreeably written, and will, we trust, have some effect in keeping alive the public attention to the weighty question which they discuss. The following extracts, will afford a fair specimen of the Author's manner.

• In every country the king, or chief magistrate, or those who rule and make the laws, are to take care, that the laws commanded by God make, likewise, a part of the laws of the land, and that they be regularly and punctually fulfilled. There are, certainly, many good laws in this country for the protection of animals; but, is the great law of the Sabbath respecting them observed? I have no hesi. tation in saying, that I conceive the treatment of horses in this country to be a NATIONAL SIN. I say a national sin, because it is of such extent, so well known, and sanctioned by the ruling powers of the nation, contrary to the eristing laws. The labouring cattle, in the country, it is to be hoped, for the most part, enjoy the rest of the Sabbath ; but, what is to be said of those poor'animals, who run upon our roads in travelling, in mail-coaches, in stages, in waggons, and in the carriages of travellers ? A show of respect to the law of God is, indeed, made in the metropolis, by no letters coming in, and none going out, upon that day. But the carriages and horses still run, and neither drivers, travellers, nor horses, observe and enjoy the holy. rest of the Sabbath. Surely, such a conduct is trifting with God.'

The golden rule of placing ourselves in the situation of others, and asking ourselves, “ Were I really in the place of this person, and he in mine, how should I wish him to behave to me?" is applicable, in its measure, likewise, to the brute creation; and, were every master to place himself in the situation of his servant, or his cattle, (his cattle, indeed, are his servants,) there would be little difficulty in determining his case : due interchanges of labour and rest would then be the portion of all under his care. But, if any be worked beyond their strength, or more than their proper time, or denied the whole of the Sabbath, then the day which God hath blessed to them, · we change into a curse. I mentioned before the case of the Jews, in their neglect of the Sabbath, and their retribution by the captivity in Babylon. The weekly Sabbath of this world is a type of the everlasting Sabbath of the next: may not the violation of the earthly Sabbath exclude the breaker from the rest of heaven ? And, if in the breach of the commandments," he who shall offend in one point, is guilty of all,” (James ii. 10.) wiil not he who violates one article of that command be guilty of the whole ? and he who suffers his own catile to be worked, or encourages or connives at the working of the cattle of others, dues he not stand before God, the guilty Sabbath. breaker ?

We are happy to find that this great business of humanity Vol. IX. N.S.

2 Y

has not been altogether neglected ; that societies have been instituted, sermons preached, and pamphlets published on this most interesting subject. With all of those mentioned by Mr. Plumptre we are not acquainted, but the most urgent and pointed appeal to general feeling on this point which we have met with, is contained in a penny tract recently published in a provincial town, and in which, if we are not mistaken, the cause of brutes is pleaded with strong feeling, and in forcible and eloquent language. An extract from this paper, which is written in the form of a dialogue, and entitled, Who are the Oppressors ? will justify our praise.

Butch. Well, sir, don't speak soI don't mean to be cruel again, for it often makes me unhappy ; and such things as you describe seldom happen-there is not so much cruelty going on as you imagine, sir.

Stran. Say, rather, it is impossible to imagine the instances of barbarity that do occur, espescially in the driving, penning and slaughtering of cattle, most of which might be avoided-to mention only thirst, their sufferings on that account have been so intense as to reach even the ears of Senators, and petitions have been presented, that the horrors of Smithfield market might be removed to relieve the nuisance it has caused to the inhabitants of that neighbourhood; surely a little attention might remedy this evil-look at the gasping poultry in this market—these might easily be carried to the next kennel to quench their thirst-see the panting sheep after a wearisome journey on a hot summer's day, shut up, under a burning sun, to endure the torment of unallayed thirst-how easily might the anguish of the galled horse be lessened by a little attention to the harness, to the fitting it, or padding it, if they were found galled. No! exhausted and distressed, unpitied, unnoticed, the foaming mouth, the strained eye, the out-stretched neck, appeal in vain-but they will not always appeal in vain---these images pass before the eyes of the oppressor now, unheeded---but they shall again appear to distract his troubled spirit at the moment it is about to plunge into that region where water will be solicited for ever and in vain.'

We think that under a somewhat different title, and with the extension of one or two allusions to local interests, this tract is adınirably adapted for general circulation. Thrown from a carriage or chaise window at the feet of a drover, an appeal of this kind may relieve inany a weary and thirsty flock from un. necessary and intolerable suffering.


Art. X. 1. Paris in 1815, a Poem. Second Edition. 8vo: pp. 76. 2. Lines on the Death of H.R.H. The Princess Charlotte. By the

Rev. George Croly, A.M. Author of “ Paris in 1815," a Poem.

8vo. pp. 47. 1818. WE read the former of these two publications, immediately

on its appearance, with a considerable degree of pleasure and interest, and know not how we came to omit duly to inform the public of the circumstance. But poetry is a sort of thing which we like to read, much better than to analyze. We are willing sometimes to be pleased, when we could not readily give substantial reason for being so ; when we should find it difficult to satisfy a tetchy public that it was not the temperature of the weather, or the unusual placidity of our feelings, or the finely modulated tones of the reader, or something else of scene or circumstance, rather than the intrinsic merits of the production, which gave it the power of agreeable excitement. The success of a poem with readers in general, absolutely depends upon a thousand such accidents, nor will we pretend to be ourselves uniformly free from their influence; but we at least know better than to take up a work of fancy, or a work of rhyme without fancy, when our minds are not at leisure to be pleased, or when the wind is easterly. When we do take such a work in hand, it is with a disposition to indulge in an entire forgetfulness for the time being, of our judicial responsibility; and whether the writer be a courtier or a Jacobin, a plebeian or a peer, whatever be his creed or bis politics, provided he does not in some trashy preface obtrude upon us the notorious fact of his being a coxcomb, or an infidel; provided also, that he abstain from impertinent disquisitions on all bis contemporaries; provided bis verse is not a mere pretence for ribaldry and satire, or a vehicle for licentiousness, and provided it is such as does not require to be translated into intelligible meaning, -all these cases have occurred to us,—we say, that our disposition is to go along with the poet, if he understands bis proper business of pleasing, to the full extent of the possibility of deriving pleasure from bis performance. But when we are called upon to discuss the rules and principles according to which a poem bas pleased or failed to please, it is something like being obliged to put down our Kaleidoscope, for the purpose of lecturing upon the properties of light ; and on proceeding to examine the objects which have amused us, we discover how much of the effect was mere delusion.

The Author of Paris in 1815, baving now, however, come forward in his own name, to assert his clains as a poet, we must no longer delay to announce to the public his pretensions : they are indeed highly respectable, but we must confess tbat we

were disposed to rate them more highly, before we read the Lines on the Death of the Princess. This second poem has let us into the secret, that notwithstanding that the subject of his former production might be considered as open to objection on account of its exclusing unity of plan, and of its admitting only of the most desultory sort of treatment, it was peculiarly well adapted to display the talents of the Author to advantage. His forte lies evidently in the detail of description, in working up his colouring to a brilliant effect. He is an elegant artist, but his hand is not that of a master who could write bis name with an outline. There is no depth of thought, no intenseness of abstraction displayed in his poetry, such as are necessary to the higher efforts of imagination in giving a palpable shape to the ideal. The pleasure which it imparts is that which we derive from the contemplation of exquisite skill, where the design is evidently subordinate to the execution, and the merit is purely that of art. We do not wish to depreciate this species of nierit, the merit of poetical expression, but merely to point out the essential difference between the higher species of imaginative genius, and the elegant accomplishment of elaborating beautiful versification. The difference in the result is briefly this: the genuine productions of mind, those which have derived vitality from its Prometbean touch, whatever be their forms, live; the bappiest imitative displays of art, charm the eye while the freshness of beauty is upon them, but the interest they excite is transient; the gratification afforded by the display of mere skill soon terminates in satiety. There is at this moment a considerable quantity of beautiful writing in circulation, in tbe shape of poetry, the production of undoubted talent, yet which we may venture to prerliet will in a very short time disappear and be forgotten. These works are the mere efflorescence of literary cultivation, and have no right to occupy the surface and incumber the soil with their superannuaied beauty, a second summer. It is things of slower growth, yet sometimes of less attractive brilliance, which by virtue of an independent principle of life, claim to appropriate room to themselves in which they may strike root and germinate.

In the series of highly finished pictures, of which the poem entitled Paris, consists, some will be recognised as palpably in the style of Crabbe; other passages will inevitably remind the reader of Lord Byron. The imitation is however, never servile, and the variation of style evinces in the writer great facility. The following lines describe the entrance to Paris.

• Now, from the Mount!—Through solid dust we sweep
Choak’d, crushing, struggling to wile back our sleep,
The barrier's reach'd-out rolls the drowsy guard;
A scowl-a question--and the gate's unbarr'd.
And this is Paris ! The postilion's thong
Rings round a desert, as we bound along,

« FöregåendeFortsätt »