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hilt incloses a captive angel-- who describeth the origin of the giants, than he who descanteth on courtly pride. Happier is he who describeth Melusina, than he who writeth of armies and artillery;' • and happier still is he who describeth the gnomes who dwell beneath the earth than he who delighteth in ladies' love, and tournaments. But although our adept speaks thus contemptuously of ladies' love, he was far more indulgent towards the nymphs and Undines. Melusina is an Undine, and Venus in her time, for she is dead and gone now, was another. And he gives a most circumstantial detail of the gallantries of those fair nymphs, who, as every one knows, are constantly on the watch to obtain a terrestrial lover: honestly, indeed, warning us, at the same time, not to trust the elemental charmers, whose temper is none of the most serene. « The theologians' maintained that the nymphs were devils. They are not devils,' says Paracelsus, although they are nearly the same as our women.' • They were the goddesses of the blind heathens.'The blind heathens, however, as well as Bombast, preserve some degree of consistency in their mythology; and never represent, even a goddess, as endowed with unalterable temper. The nature of the inhabitants of the elements is indeed singular. Although they are of human kind, they owe not their race to Adam. They are susceptible of every passion which agitates the human heart. The sylphid can hate like a woman, or love like one; the giiome can be bountiful or churlish ; the salamander, vindictive or grateful. They can gratify their passions with boundless might. A wish transports them from pole to pole. They cannot be confined by walls, or bonds, or fetters : and they command the elements, and all which the elements bestow. But, with all these advantages, they are as much below the children of Adam as the beasts of the field. The existence of these demons is cheerless and gloomy; although prolonged through ages, it must end; they die, and their death is annihilation.
With Pope they are no longer the powerful beings, at once the objects of pity and of awe, who hold their midnight revels in the forest, or guard the treasures of the mine. He wanted spirits of lither. mold; such as could nestle in Belinda's bosom, or shew their tiny faces peeping between the heavy plaits of the rich brocade. And the light militia of the lower sky assume the size and semblance of the playful winged genii whom the French designers used to be so fond of representing—one wrapped from head to foot in a cap of Mechlin lace; another girt with a diamond hilted sword; and a third bending beneath the weight of a laced hat and military plume. Thus diminished, they became suitable machinery for the Rape of the Lock. But Pope only calculated them for this elegant trifle, the labour of a week, the perusal of an hour; and there alone can Ariel and his subjects act a consistent part. His wit reduced the heroes and the gods of the classical epic to a scale of miniature brilliancy. He was sporting with the lessons which the critic finds, or imagines that he finds, in the master-pieces of antiquity.
When the Doctor-Wo worth the while!--made bold to borrow Pope's machinery' for his : philosophical poem, he never stopped to recollect that Pope was not in earnest, that his epic was a mock epic, and that his gnomes, and sylphs, and salamanders, were nothing less than the 'hieroglyphic figures of the elements. " In the days of good Queen Anne
the gnome could spoil a grace,
Or discompose the head-dress of a prude.' Such tasks were light onés : but Doctor Darwin set the gnomes at hammering granite rocks, calcining flints, and grinding Ka-o-lins and Pe-tun-sees.* The nymphs were disturbed in the enjoyment of their elemental tea,' and called away to watch the simmering cauldrons' + of Bolton's steam-engine, or the deep cauldrons' of Etna and Hecla.
The sylphs fared as badly—perhaps worse :--they whose province had been
to tend the fair, To save the powder from too rude a gale,
Nor let th' imprisoned essences exhale'were dispatched by him in 'bold myriads' to the most unhealthy climes, and on the most dangerous services--to stop I fell Syroc's' breath ; to arrest Simoom, in spite of his poisoned javelin' and 'whistling hair,' and seize the locks of old -Tornado. Whilst others, once · light coquettes,' are ordered, as a penance, we presume, to listen to Doctor Priestley's courtship, and to slip into his cabinet in the most tempting dishabille.
SYLPHS! you retiring to sequestered bowers,
Drinks with red lips the purest breath of beaven;
How while Conferva from its tender hair got nou to
Economy of Vegetation, Cant. IV. V.1778798 Throughout the Doctor's ' Philosophical Poem,” he is in a con stant fidget to support his multifarious pretensious. He was to shine as a man of science, and as a man of the world - he was to come out of the laboratory perfumed with bergamot, and to puti down the retort, and take a seat in the 'gilt landau.' He was to? be a sans-culotte philosopher, and fraternize with the citizens in dirty linen : and, at the same time, to gain admittance to the vege table pride of Imperial Kew,' and to make his bow to the ROYAŁ PARTNERS,' with his red night-cap in his hand. The learned werés to be astounded at his gentility, and the ladies to be enraptured with his learning. But above all, he was to excite universal admirae tion by the poetic ability with which he had enlisted imagination under the banner of science.'
The Doctor made one happy discovery. He has enriched the poetical Pharmacopeia with an exceedingly neat and compendious formula for preparing personifications in any quantity which may be required. • As most of our nouns-so his prescription runs
have in general no genders affixed to them in prose composition, and in the habits of conversation, they become easily personified only by the addition of a masculine or feminine pronoun--and secondly, as most of our nouns have the article a or the prefixed to them in prose writing and in conversation, they in general become personified even by the omission of their articles.'- Botanic Garden, p. 182, &c.
Nothing could be more ingenious than this prescription for making hé and she personifications at pleasure, nor could it be supposed that the ingenious inventor would neglect to administer a dose of it as often as he could find occasion: the poem, therefore, teems with life and action, originating simply in the application of the magic pronouns, or in the banishment of the definite or indefinite article. Of course, the Doctor gave what gender pleased him best, without being over anxious to preserve either propriety or consistency. PLATINA is a he, in spite of the termination; Night bowshis Ethiop brow,' and Earth lias his realms of fire.'
Existence having been thus bestowed, it yet required a little garnish, a little ornament; and this the Doctor found in the looser analogies which dress out the imagery of poetry:–His personification' was to stand up in the ranks, and bustle about in the Economy of Vegetation. When children are at play they produce personifications with the utmost ease. A cross on the slate is à for, and a round on the slate is a goose." The nursery seamstress takes a piece of rag, and rolls it up, and stitches it in the middle,
and then the rag becomes a doll; and although the rag doll has neither head, nor eyes, nor arms, nor legs, Miss sees them all in fancy, and it is accordingly nursed and treated as kindly as if it were a perfect baby... The Doctor's imagination was equally vivid, and bountiful. With this great master of poetry the changeful opals roll their lucid eyes; 1 cowslips stretch their golden arms,' aud drowsy rog flings' his hairy limbs on the stagnant deep.' When any : loose analogy' can be discovered between the thing and its Darwinian personification, it is well; when none at all, it is better; for then the Doctor has more scope for imagivation.' Perrin Dandin, the peace-maker, took his oath that he had a perfect recollection of having seen that honourable gentleman, his worship Council of Lateran with his broadbrimmed scarlet hat, as well as the most worthy lady Prugmatic Sanction(Council of Lateran's wife) with her rosary of large jet beads, and her gown of mazarine blue satin. But Perrin Dandin was pur- ; blind compared to the Doctor when he saw the beauties of the bride and bridegroom, at the celebrated wedding of Light and Oxygen:
SYLPus! from each sun-bright leaf, that twinkling shakes 31, O'er Earth's green lap, or shoots amid her lakes,
Your playful bands with simpering lips invite, rint And wed th' enamoured Oxygene to Light. main Round their white necks with fingers interwove,
Cling the fond pair with unabating love;
Economy of Vegetation, Canto IV. v. 31, 40, In the fine vision of Owen, the soldier, we are told that he saw Adam lying beneath the tree of life, with the expression of joy on one side of his face, and of sorrow on the other, a grotesque emblem of the blended feelings which may be supposed to arise in our common father, on beholding the strange combination of wisdom and of folly in his children. Each individual shares more or less in the frailty of his kind: and Darwin is a lamentable example of the treacherous strength of the human intellect. Whatever contempt we may bestow upon his verse, he nevertheless deserves high praise in those pursuits to which hiš studies had been directed. In physiology and in general science his acquirements were extensive. His views of nature were clear and profound; and if, in an evil hour, the wicked demon of rhyme had not possessed him, ' his name would have gone down in good odour to the after-time. No one can really taste the beauty of poetry without a real love of knowledge and of learning. And Darwin's poetry abounds with knowledge and learning, polluted indeed, and degraded by the skipping jingle of his rhymes, but yet of stirling worth. The matter which he has selected is unfit for song, but it
is one of the noblest themes which can offer itself to the mind ; and one which, however treated, must always retain some share of dignity and attraction. Our reasoning faculties are gratified by the subjects which he introduces, although our taste ought to be offended at the manner of their introduction. The geologist stoops and examines the rich and varied minerals which the author of the fabric has collected, and becomes indisposed to arraign the hand which has disposed them in whimsical grotto work. The botanist attends to bim whilst he traces the plant from its germ to its maturity, and at length becomes reconciled to the gaudy Flora of the Botanic Garden.
Hence it is principally to the well-informed that Darwin is a dangerous author ; for they allow themselves to indulge in the gratification which he affords, without considering the real sources whence that gratification arises. And although Miss Porden's poem is not, by any means, to be considered as an imitation of Darwin, yet we must suppose that it is by his example that she has been seduced into the attempt of clothing subjects which are purely and drily scientific in the language of poetry. The story of the poem, the loss and restoration of the veils, was originally a little and elegant fairy romance written in short cantos,' and its extension into its present form, at once allegorical and didactic, was an afterthought. We had rather have seen it in its original simplicity and unity; and we should have been well contented to receive such vivid and forcible delineation, as is afforded by the following lines, alone and unaccompanied by the personifications of volcanic'fire, which she has afterwards introduced.
"On lofty Stromboli the sky was bright,