صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

The animation and sense, with which Mr Wordsworth endues nature, breathe a living spirit into all his descriptions of scenery. In this walk of poetry he has been compared with Crabbe. Crabbe's descriptions are as inferior to Wordsworth's, as the lovely though lifeless image of Pygmalion was inferior to the same image, when celestial fire had sent beating blood through its arteries, a light to its eyes, a smile to its lips, and a voice to its tongue. They both describe accurately, and Crabbe with more minuteness, perhaps, than Wordsworth ; but the scenes of the former address the eye alone ; those of the latter, the eye and the soul. Take for example this picture of a mountain solitude, from a poem called • Fidelity,' commemorating the same instance of that quality in a traveller's dog, on which Sir Walter Scott has written some beautiful stanzas.

It was a cove, or huge recess,
That keeps, till June, December's snow;
A lofty precipice in front,
A silent tarn* below.
Far in the bosom of Helvellyn,
Remote from public road or dwelling,
Pathway, or cultivated land;
From trace of human foot or hand.
There, sometimes doth a leaping fish
Send through the tarn a lonely cheer;
The crags repeat the raven's croak,
In symphony austere ;
Thither the Rainbow comes—the Cloud
And Mists that spread the flying shroud-
And Sunbeams—and the sounding Blast,
That, if it could, would hurry past,

But that enormous barrier binds it fast. And who but a heaven taught poet could have uttered even these two lines, which we transcribe from The Pass of Kirkstone ?

While the coarse rushes, to the sweeping breeze,

Sigh forth their ancient melodies ! Crabbe would have described this field of rushes as exactly as possible ; but his was not the ear to hear them sighing forth the same wild notes, which the Roman and the Druid listened to. And this we say without wishing at all to disparage his poetical talents, for which we entertain the highest respect.

* Tarn is a small mere, or lake, mostly high up in the mountains.

We have made our extracts thus copious, not more from inclination than a sense of duty. We believe we can venture on one more, considering that so many volumes of poetry are before us, which have never been opened to our readers. It is one of the Miscellaneous Sonnets describing a morning view of London from Westminster Bridge. It will be perceived, that the same internal spirit is communieated to this picture, as to the preceding sketches of rural scenery

Earth has not anything to shew more fair;
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty.
This city now doth like a garment wear
The beauty of the morning ; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples, lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky,
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendor, valley, rock or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep !
The river glideth at his own sweet will ;

the very houses seem asleep; And all that mighty heart is lying still ! It is the author of poetry like this, whom we have been accustomed to hear treated with derision or indifference. We trust that many have done so from having been kept in ignorance of the merit which they depreciated. Still

, perhaps, there will be others, who in their gravity and wisdom will condemn our taste, and look down on the whole matter as puerile conceit, and a babble of green fields. Let them enjoy the sense of their superior sagacity. He who has studied Wordsworth, and imbibed the spirit of his poetry, can never be made to resign, or be ashamed of his partiality; for he feels that the principles, on which that poetry is founded, are strong and immutable, that its spirit entwines its roots with the fibres of the heart, and is as enduring and true as devotion and love. He knows, too, that however this poet may have

been disregarded, he has borne a most important part in giving its character to the poetry of the age; he knows that many of the poets, with whose writings this country is so familiar, have borrowed some of their sweetest minstrelsy from strains, which have reached us but rarely and faintly from the mountains of Westmoreland ; and he is continually detecting plagiarisms, both in spirit and in letter, made from the volumes of Wordsworth, by those who have joined to depress him. He regards bim, in short, as he would regard an intimate and intelligent friend, who could draw forth capacities, and excite reflections, which received but little exercise, and met with little sympathy, in the ordinary intercourse of life; who could address feelings, which had never been spoken to before, but had sat silently in his heart, musing, and solitary, and ignorant of companionship.

Art. XXI.-1. Reports of Cases argued and determined in

the Supreme Court of the United States, February Term, 1823. BY HENRY WHEATON, Counsellor at Law. Vol.

VIII. New York, 1923. 2. Reports of Cases argued and determined in the Sce

preme Court of Judicature ; and in the Court for the Trial of Impeachments and the Correction of Errors in the State of New York. By William Johnson, Coun

sellor at Law. Vol. XX. Albany, 1823. 3. Reports of Cases argued and determined in the Su

preme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Vol. XVII. Containing the Cases from October Term 1820, in Esser, to March Term 1822, in Suffolk. To which is added a Digested Inder of the Names of the Cases in the preceding Sixteen Volumes. By Dudley Atkins TYNG, Esq. Counsellor at Law. Boston, 1823. We have prefixed to this article the titles of three series of legal reports, the authors of which are too familiarly known, in our courts of justice and elsewhere, to stand in need of any commendation at our hands. Our journal, on more than one occasion, has borne ample testimony to their merits. We will venture, however, at the risk of being chargeable with recurring to the subject somewhat frequently, to say a few words respecting each of them in this place, and to subjoin some other observations, which, in the perusal of these volumes, have been suggested to our minds.

Mr Wheaton is not wanting to the high reputation he has attained, as a faithful and accomplished reporter of the decisions of the most elevated law court in the union. The present volume indicates the same care and industry, the same happy talent of discriminating the leading points in the evidence and in the argument of counsel, and the same skill in recording and illustrating them, which have characterized preceding volumes of his reports. While they contain many cases of practice, which only settle the rules of judicial proceeding in the specific emergency, and many cases of local law and of construction, which do not go to affect the condition of extensive classes of men ; they yet contain many more, which, in the broad scope of the important principles established by them, cover the dearest rights of all the confederated republics of our nation.

When we consider the vastly comprehensive range of the adjudications of the court, whose legal opinions these reports embrace, and advert to the character of the jurists who preside there, chosen out of the legal learning and talent of whole sections of the country, and of the eminent counsel, who practice at its bar, many of them filling a space in the eyes of the nation, which no others fill, we shall discern ample reason for concluding these reports to be destined for after ages, no less than for the passing times. The Supreme Court of the United States did not rise up, like the state courts, merely as a successor, almost unchanged in form or name, of institutions over which a hundred years had accumulated the veneration of populous colonies, or powerful provinces. It was not ushered into being by the warmth of popular excitement, nor was its progress upwards into the sphere of vigorous action heralded on by the acclamations of those, who, the loudest to praise, are still the promptest to censure. It was a court wholly new in its name, organization, powers, process, thrown forth on the country in naked simplicity, in

stead of being invested with the prescriptive respect due or deferred to ancient institutions.

To say that it was forced to contend with all the prejudices and misconceptions, which cast a cloud around the dawning of our national constitutions, is far short of the reality; for its duties brought it directly in conflict with those prejudices and misconceptions in their worst, their most aggravated shape. As entrusted with the execution of the laws, it was necessarily thrust forward to bear the brunt, in the first instance, of all the opposition levelled against the federal head; to enforce the collection of revenue; to punish riots, which the pressure of odious taxes had excited ; to quell disaffection maddened and inflamed into insurrections by popular clamor; to maintain the neutrality of the nation in spite of the usurpations of foreign armaments, consuls, ministers, and directories; to compel obedience to commercial restrictions, of which they, on whom they fell most heavily, would not acknowledge the utility, efficacy, or expediency; to withstand the pretensions of individual states to independent sovereignty ; in short, to guarantee the integrity of our constitution, wherever that instrument opposed the feelings or combated the claims of conştituent members of the union. With such an immense mass of obstacles for it to struggle through, in order to reach its present dignity and maturity, it needed all the influence of sober and reflecting men, all the concentrated strength of national authority, all the virtues of judges like Jay, Rutledge and Marshall, of master minds and pure patriots, to ensure its success.

Whilst we most earnestly deprecate, therefore, as fatal to the peace and good order of the nation, all attempts to exalt the character of this court by disparaging reflections on others equally independent, and we will add equally respectable in their sphere of operation, we may be permitted to regard it with sentiments of honest and honorable exultation. So long as that admirable fabric of government, which the sagacity of our fathers conceived and planned, whose elements they cemented with their blood, which has outlived the storms of revolutionary commotion and of party violence, so long as that monument of public virtue and political wisdom endures, the decisions of this court will continue to acquire increased value, interest, and importance, in proportion as the refined

New Series, No. 19. 48

« السابقةمتابعة »