« AnteriorContinuar »
time and experience elicit the light of truth. Should an act be passed during the ensuing Sessions, it ought not in any degree, to be inquisitorial or coercive. Let it not attempt to lop and prune those iender plants which are spontaneously arising in every quarter of the land, but let it stretch forth a fostering hand to protect them from injury. The safest, perhaps, and most acceptable boon that could at present be given, would be simply to extend to those institutions for the savings of industry, whose regulations shall be approved of by the Quarter Sessions, the whole privileges granted lo Friendly Societies by the judicious enactment in their favour (33 Geo. III.) In this case we can foresee no objection whatever to the extension of the act to Scotland. Pas trop gouverner is a maxim to which every wise legislator will pay due attention, and, in such cases as that before us, ought never to be forgotten.
We are not aware that establishments, similar in principle to our banks for the savings of the industrious, were ever introduced into any part of the continent. At Hamburgh, indeed, and in various parts of Holland, &c. there were institutions calculated to encourage and reward industry in the lower classes; but these partook of the nature of deferred annuities, and may more properly be classed with these benevolent establishments, which served as the model for some of the provisions of Mr. Pitt's bill. The fate of a very flourishing association of this kind in Hamburgh is more a matter of regret than surprise. The man, who lately grasped at the sceptre of the world, and is now paying the forfeit of his crimes on a solitary rock in the ocean, with that indiscriminating rage for plunder which marked his career, and which, perhaps, more than any other part of his conduct, proved his total want of all the moral qualities of a hero, swept away, not only all the public property of this great commercial city, but also the funds raised for chari, table purposes; and, amongst the rest, the little pittance of the industrious poor! This was a death-blow to the institution alluded to.
Deeply sensible as we are of the improved condition of the lower classes of our countrymen in civilization and social comfort, we are sometimes disposed almost to regret, on their account, the abolition of those feudal institutions, which if they implied vassalage on the part of the peasantry, and were often made the instrue ments of oppression, yet were in general attended with feelings of reciprocal kindness and personal affection, between the superior and his dependants, which gave to the latter an irresistible claimon the good offices of the former in the seasons of disease and of declining life. We live in a commercial age, in which all classes of the community are eager in the pursuit of gain, and which the relation of master and servant is too often considered merely as a pecuniary contract, entered into and dissolved, without the slightest
mutual regard. It is painful to reflect how much this remark applies even to the cultivators of the soil, in whom the simplicity of nature and the kindness of affection may be supposed to have taken the deepest root. In proof of this we cannot help referring to the procedure of agricultural associations, who, while they offer a premium of thirty, perhaps, or even forty pounds for the rearing of the best sheep, consider the tenth part of that sum as an ample reward for the fidelity of the servant who has remained longest in the employment of his master! The establishment of Friendly Banks is eminently calculated to supply the desideratum which this unfortunate change in our national character has produced.
We too often see the poor man who has spent the vigour of life in laborious industry, abandoned in age to poverty, or left entirely to the unpitying care of parish overseers. To rescue them from a condition so degrading is an act not more of humanity than of sound policy; and those who teach them how to gather up the fragments, which might otherwise be wasted or lost, are employed in no useless work. Liberality is the easy and delightful duty of the rich; while frugality, with its self-denying restraints, is a lesson which suits the humble condition of the poor.
We have thus fulfilled our plan: and if any of our readers feel disposed to complain that they have had less of speculation than detail
, we can assure them that our labour would have been greatly abridged if we had taken an opposite course. We trust, however, that those who feel a real interest in a subject, humble and unpretending as it appears, will duly appreciate the value of this investigation. They, to whom this subject is indifferent, may censure our minuteness; but those who, like us, regard it as marking an era in political economy, and as intimately connected with the external comfort and moral improvement of mankind, will be gratified to trace the rise and progress of one of the simplest and most efficient plans which has ever been devised for effecting these invaluable purposes. ART. VII. 1. Poems, by William Cowpes of the Inner T'emple,
Esq. in Three Volumes, Vol. III. containing his Posthumous Poetry, and a Sketch of his Life. By his Kinsman, John Johnson, LL.D. Rector of Faxham with Welborne, Norfolk.
8vo. 1815. 2. Memoir of the Early life of William Cowper, Esq. Written
by Himself, and never before published. With an Appendir, containing some of Cowper's Religious Letters, and other inte
resting Documents, Illustrative of the Memoir. 1876. 3. Memoirs of the most Remarlable and Interesting Parts of the
Life of William Cowper, Esq. of the Inner Temple. Detailing
particularly the Exercises of his Mind in regard to Religion. Written by Himself, and never before published. To which are appended, an Original and Singular Poem, and a Fragment.
E consider the present volume of Cowper's Poems as de
cidedly inferior to its predecessors. Two-thirds of it are composed of translations; and of the original pieces, some were written in the decline of his genius, and others are on unpoetical or unpleasing subjects. Still there is much remaining, in which his characteristic playfulness of humour, his devotion, philan. thropy and domestic tenderness, and the justice and manliness of his sentiments, are sufficiently conspicuous; nor, indeed, is there any piece in which his peculiar hand may not be discovered. The biography is not written in a very shining style, but it is an accusate chronicle, and the reflections are just and good.
Much cannot be said for Cowper's Latin poetry. It wants ease and harmony, and classical perfection; nor is the absence of these qualities compensated by any extraordinary force of style or beauty of idea. Indeed, there is a certain degree of artifice requisite in writing modern Latin poetry; and artifice of a kind alien to Cowper's genius. The merit of this sort of composition consists more in choice of expression, embellishment of common thoughts, and well-wrought imitation of three or four standard writers, and less in vivid description or the sublimities of action and passion, than that of English poetry.
The versions of Milton are executed with tolerable success : but, to speak the truth, we do not think very highly of the originals themselves. The Ode to Rouse, which cost the translator most trouble, has perhaps repaid it least; there is much mythologic stuff in the Latin verses of the great bard, which could by no artifice be rendered palatable. The following lines are from one of the epistles to Diodati. The reader will remember Johnson's .citation of the first part of the passage, Me tenet urbs reflua.' After an allusion to the sentence of rustication passed upon him the poet proceeds thus :
• I would, that, exiled to the Pontic shore,
Or some coil'd brooder o'er a len-years' cause
Thunder the Norman gibb'rish of the laws,' &c.-p. 116. In the epistle to his tutor, Thomas Young, at Hamburgh, there occurs a beautiful little sketch of a Christian pastor's family life : and the following lines, from the same piece, contain sentiments such as Cowper delighted to express.
• But thou take courage ! strive against despair!
• Thou, therefore, (as the most afflicted may,)
And to enjoy, once more, thy native bome !'-pp. 128, 129. The first verses in the volume, on finding the heel of a Shoe at Bath, are in the manner of the Splendid Shilling, and display at the age
of seventeen that exuberant humour which attended our author in after-life. The Epistle to Lloyd is full of liveliness, and that to Lady Austen unites innocent gayety with just and digni. fied reflection. The dialogue between the Pipe and the Snuff-' box is a counterpart to the Report of an Adjudged Case, not to be found in any of the Books :' the Colubriad is of the same stamp. The following tribute of praise to the memory of Ashley Cowper, Esq. has great merit.
• Farewell ! endued with all that could engage
All hearts to love thee, both in youth and age!
flatter; and lest this should seem O'ercharged with praises on so dear a theme, Although thy worth be more than half supprest,
Love shall be satisfied, and veil the rest.'-p. 80. The fragment on the Four Ages might have been the introduction to a second • Task:' that on the Yardley Oak is, perhaps, the most characteristic specimen of Cowper; with his usual alloy of
homeliness, and want of selection, it exhibits a copiousness of thought and expression, worthy of Dryden or Cowley. We close our extracts with the following beautiful sonnet
• To Mrs. UNWIN. Mary! I want a lyre with other strings,
Such aid from heav'n as some bave seign'd they drew,
An eloquence scarce giv'n to mortals, new
I may record thy worth with honour due,
In verse as musical as thou art true,
By seraphs writ with beams of beavenly light,
A chronicle of actions just and bright :
And, since thou own'st that praise, I spare thee mine.'--p. 282. At the time when our poetry began to emerge from the bondage of formality and pomp, Cowper appeared to advance the cause of nature and true taste. With an opinion sufficiently high of Pope and his contemporaries,modest and unenterprising alive to censure, and seemingly scarcely conscious that he was an innovator, he yet helped essentially to restore the elder vigourand simplicity, by presenting to us the primitive muse of England in her own undisguised features, her flexibility of deportment, her smiles and tears, her general animation and frequent rusticity. From the effects which this exhibition produced on the public, satiated with classical imi. tation and antithesis, he may be reckoned among the patriarchs of the present school of poetry.
Cowper's qualities are, copiousness of idea, often without sufficient choice; keenness of observation, descending occasionally to wearisomeness or disgust; an addiction to elevated thought and generous feeling; and a pliable manner, passing easily from the tender to the sublime, and again to the humourous. In the very throng and press of his observations on the most serious subjects, it is not unusual to encounter an effusion of wit, ora familiar remark. This may seem a strange anomaly in a writer of Cowper's turn; yet it is to be accounted for. The subjects in question were the constant themes of his meditation, the fountains of his actions, his hopes, bis duties; they were inwoven with his mind, and he spoke of them with that familiarity, perfectly distinct from lightness, with which men naturally speak of what is habitual to them, though connected with their happiness, and involving many hopes and fears. It must be confessed, however, that he sometimes uses expressions, which, in a person of different principles, would be interpreted as the language of levity.