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in the Lyceum, and illustrated, as many subjects will be, by experiments, drawing, or models, will be far more interesting, than the same thing coming from the silent pages of a book. In fact, books alone will not serve the purpose of popular instruction.
The project, if it is feasible, is certainly most reasonable. If the sole object of such an association were to bring its members acquainted with the natural sciences, with that world of mysteries and wonders which surrounds them, it would be sufficient to justify the undertaking, and all the zeal that can be lavished upon
it. But no limitation need to be placed to the variety of useful subjects, that might attract the attention of a Lyceum. Not only the physical sciences, but history, both civil and religious, moral philosophy, political economy, and many other subjects, might, as circumstances favored, be pursued, at least in their elementary principles. From ten or twenty years, from two or three generations, employed in this way, might not great results be expected ? Is it not worth while to make the trial ?
Let us not complain of human nature, let not the world complain of the badness of its condition, till greater efforts are made for its improvement; till light is preferred to darkness; till knowledge is sought for as eagerly as wealth ; till virtue commands more treasures and more labors in its cause, than vice; till projects for the public good shall acquire something of the zeal of projects for private aggrandizement. Till then, it would be premature to judge of the nature of man or of the wisdom of Providence, for we cannot fairly comprehend either.
The work to be done is great; but now is not the time to be discouraged. In darker ages, amidst untoward circumstances, in danger, if not despondency, the noble company of confessors and martyrs have been true to the cause of God, and of human welfare. Their commission, attested with holy vows and prayers, and sealed in their blood, they have sent down to us; and faint-hearted and false shall we be, if we do not and dare not accept the trust. They compass us about as a cloud of witnesses, and enforce the apostolic exhortation that we run with patience the race that is set before us.' Better times have come ; let them not witness worse endeavours. Let the auspices of the age cheer us on. If faith has held out in gloomier days, let it not fail now. It may be thought, that in the views we have given of the state of the world, we have made the ways of Providence dark. We cannot help the sad truth; we cannot make out the state of the human race to be better than we have represented; and we see not, indeed, that the inference with regard to Providence is darker in the case of the world, than in the case of an individual. But if there be a problem, a mystery, we lay on good men the charge to clear it up. They only can do it. One vigorous, persevering exertion, all over the world, to raise the human race to knowledge and virtue, would do more to vindicate the ways of God to man,' than the speculations of philosophers for centuries.
ART. V.-The Course of Time; a Poem, in ten Books. By
ROBERT POLLOK, A. M. The fifth Edition. Edinburgh. William Blackwood. 1828. 12mo. pp. 394.
THE Reverend Mr Balwhidder, the author of the Annals of the Parish,' had the design of writing an orthodox poem, like Paradise Lost, by John Milton, wherein he proposed to treat more at large of original sin, and the great mystery of redemption.' What he only contemplated, the Reverend Mr Pollok' has executed, and in a manner so satisfactory, so accordant, as far as we can judge, with the conceptions of the Reverend Mr Balwhidder, as to leave no room for regret that his design was not carried into effect. The great popularity of Mr Pollok's production is a sufficient pledge of its merit. The copy before us is of the fifth Edinburgh edition; and it has, as we are told, been twice stereotyped in our country.
It is, indeed, a poem treating of high matters. The time supposed, is some period beyond the consummation of this world. A beatified spirit
, whom we should have supposed to have been that of a Calvinistic divine, if the writer had not informed us that it was the spirit of some great poet, is represented as giving an account of this world to another blessed spirit, newly arrived from a distant planet, and to two seraphs, who accompany him, for the purpose of having their curiosity satisfied also. He explains to them all those facts respecting the past and yet future history of man, which we find stated in Ridgeley's Body of Divinity, and other works of like authority on the subject; and introduces a great variety of matter upon a multitude of interesting topics, such as pride,
ambition, vanity, avarice, infidelity, Unitarianism, government, modern politics, and modern authors. The writer has made quite an extensive display of his powers; and we must confess, that in attempting to follow him, our faculties have been so 'strained by this celestial colloquy divine,' that we could, we think, have sought repair' even from a novel by Lady Morgan. Our perceptions have become confused.' We have at times almost lost the consciousness that we were reading. We seemed to make no progress; and were disheartened, like a traveller in one of those solemn desarts where nothing is to be seen but sand and sky. We have nearly despaired of being able conscientiously to review the production ; for we conceive that an honest reviewer must read a considerable part of a book which he makes the subject of an article. We hope, however, to give proof that we have done in this respect, all that a humane individual could require.
We ought to premise that, however it may be with the applause of others, our praises, at least, are entirely unprejudiced. Not only is man in general spoken of in such vituperative language, as is adapted to produce a slight degree of warmth in all who are not separated from the rest of their species as elect or evangelical ; but we Unitarians in particular are treated with all the bitterness of scorn. After describing various wicked persons, the beatified spirit expresses himself thus
Another, stranger and more wicked still,
45. This is cruel and piercing satire. But our feelings will not prevent us from doing justice to the work. In executing this design, our best course will be first to select a few striking examples of its beauty and power.
The following pleasing description is part of a long account of the images painted on the walls of hell. The account occurs near the commencement of the poem, serving to welcome the reader, and prepare him for the entertainment which follows. The sight is described by the new planetary spirit as viewed by him on his
Nor these alone. Upon that burning wall,
Foretokened, within, a dangerous abode. pp. 12, 13. The old readers of the Edinburgh Review may recollect, that Brother Cary, on his voyage to the East Indies, had much pleasure' one day, and" some sweetness' the next, in reading Edwards's sermon on the Justice of God in the Damnation of Sinners. No doubt others will enjoy equal pleasure and sweetness in reading the description from which we have quoted. It is remarkable that the imaginations of both Pollok and Edwards flame out upon the subject of hell, with a splendor which nowhere else appears in their works.
We proposed to select; but there is little room for selection. The following is an account of the meeting between the beatified spirit and his auditors.
Of Adam's race he was, and lonely sat,
He sees their coming, and with greeting kind,
The two their new companion introduced.' pp. 18, 19. We do not like to dwell on the conception of the presentation harp; but let us examine particularly the last paragraph. The meaning is, that the beatified spirit received his visitors kindly and sincerely, not ceremoniously; and that the two seraphs and the planetary spirit did not make him low bows, which should not be made to any creature. How striking and just is the last thought; and with what vigor of amplification does the writer expand those few simple ideas!
Yet this is not more admirable than the divine philosophy,' not ‘harsh nor crabbed,' contained in the following lines.
* Pride, self-adorning pride, was primal cause
And murder, and deceit, and every birth