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ambulates the streets of London, every passenger turns round to gaze upon him. His height alone would render him an object of some interest, for his dark head and Atlantean shoulders al. ways tower above the crowd, and are conspicuous at a considerable distance. He is not precisely what one of our living poets has been oddly described to be, "a noticeable man with large grey eyes,” but the description would answer for Mr. Irving with the change of a single epithet. Mr. Irving's eyes are not grey, but black; and his hair, which is remarkably abundant, is of the same hue. His features (with the exception of his eyes, for he has a slight cast in them which rather adds to, than diminishes, the impressiveness of his general appearance) are regular and handsome. There is a manly beauty in his limbs, and something even grand and majestic in the general contour of his figure. His action and attitudes in the pulpit are theatrical and extravagant; but yet they are highly picturesque, and would interest a painter. Some people have traced in him a vague resemblance to Kean, but this fancy arises perhaps more from an unconscious comparison of their styles than of their features or figures. Kean is as small in stature as Irving is colossal, and when we have said that they have both dark hair and dark eyes the personal parallel must cease. Still, however, setting aside all merely physical comparison, there is some truth in the idea that Irving is to the pulpit what Kean is to the stage. They have both introduced a more impassioned tone of delivery and a freer and more elaborate manner into their respective professions. In personal appearance Mr. Irving reminds me a good deal of the portraits of Paganini; the wonderful original I have not had the good fortune either to see or hear. Mr. Irving has quite a foreign air -- a wild Italian look. If he were seen preaching to Banditti, amidst the kind of scenery that Salvator Rosa loved to paint, he would not seem out of place. His herculean frame, his imposing aspect, and his fine voice materially contribute to the success of his declamations. He may well speak with energy and decision, with such accompaniments to support him and to give a colour to his pretensions. It has been happily suggested in one of Hazlitt's essays, that if Mr. Irving had been a little weak man, with a woman's voice aud common-place features, he would never have been notorious. His calvinistic thunders would have passed unheeded, or have only filled his hearers with a sense of the ridiculous. He is no Napoleon. He has not that magnitude of mind which might have rendered us forgetful of a small body. With his external advantages, for a brief period, he carried every thing before him. A consciousness of his adventitious power made him bold and adventurous. But though so much indebted to his personal peculiarities, some portion of the effect which he
produced must be attributed to the corresponding peculiarities of his language, and the novel nature of the subjects which he treated. He touched on politics, and attacked both men and
He quoted poetry, and lauded or abused the poets. The attractive names of Brougham and Canning, Coleridge and Wordsworth, and Southey and Byron, gave a strange piquancy to his pulpit discourses. His expressions are quaint in the extreme, and he sometimes abruptly varies his style from a bald simplicity to a florid bombast. His printed sermons have created no sensation, No one can read them. Mr. Irving's hearers are more easily sa. tisfied than his readers, because his matter is so much embellished and assisted by his manner. The reader may fall asleep, but not the hearer. Nevertheless with all his errors of taste and judgment, though Mr. Irving is perhaps not a man of much original genius, he unquestionably possesses great and peculiar talents, and there are passages even in his printed works that breathe a fine religious enthusiasm, and are singularly rich, racy and forcible in the expression. He cannot, however, sustain an uniform style or an equal degree of excellence for two succesive pages; and we are often shocked with the most grotesque absur
dities and fantastical superstitions, oddly intermixed with a great deal of close and cogent argument. On the whole, it is not to be denied that Mr. Irving is a very remarkable man, let us analyze his qualities as we may; and those who have not seen or heard him, and who feel an interest in what Pope calls“ the proper study of mankind,” have reason to regret that the opportunity has been denied to them of observing so singular a specimen of human nature.
NO. V. CRABBE.
The writer of a ife of Crabbe prefixed to the French edition of his works, has made some very injudicious remarks on the character of his poetry. With the usual partiality of an editor he exaggerates the poetical excellencies of the subject of his memoir at the expense of other writers, and seems to think that to do justice to Crabbe's descriptive powers it is necessary to underrate those of Thomson, the most accurate and animated of our painter-poets. Crabbe's descriptions, he says, “ are not, like those of Thomson, of imaginary but of real nature." It is true that the author of “ The Seasons" is somewhat more rich in his colouring and more fastidious in the choice of his subjects than Crabbe, but his pictures are not necessarily less faithful because they are more enchanting. It is an unpardonable error to characterize Thomson's minute and exquisitely felicitous descriptions as deficient in fidelity to nature.
The critic just quoted seems to think that imagination is a quality essentially opposed to truth; a mistake which in these times would hardly be excusable in a schoolboy. It is almost idle to remark that it is the superior vigour and delicacy of his imagination which enables a painter of genius to catch the subtle hues of nature with greater facility than ordinary men. It is not the prosaic bareness of a picture that is any test of its truth. Claude's landscapes, over which he has breathed the very soul of poetry, are as true to nature as the most literal and coarse production that ever came from a Dutchman's pencil. The fault of Crabbe is that he is too partial to mean and unpromising subjects. Whatever is poetical must, in a certain sense, be true; but it does not follow that all truth must be poetical. A late writer of considerable critical acumen, though a little too sectarian in his opinions, has even gone so far as to deny to Crabbe the possession of poetical genius, and regrets that he has given a great deal of solid and useful information in a very injudicious form. He thinks that Crabbe's strong good sense and varied knowledge are of a kind that would have appeared to better advantage in a prose dress. This is carrying the objection to Crabbe's style beyond truth and justice, though it is by no means so unreasonable as the opposite prejudice of the editor of the French edition, who appears to think Crabbe's defects superior to Thomson's beauties. Crabbe's peculiar faults are happily greatly outweighed by his peculiar excellencies. In the midst of his minute and matter-of-fact details, his stern sarcasms, his verbal quibbles, his ludicrous alliterations and his coarse diction, there are gleams of fancy, accompanied with indications of a profound knowledge of the heart, and a wonderful force, beauty, and fidelity of description both of human manners and of external nature.
Crabbe resembles no living writer. Of his later predecessors he reminds us most of Cowper and Goldsmith, whose opposite peculiarities are often strangely mingled in the same page. In the touching picture of the parish Poor-House, he recalls to our minds the author of " The Deserted Village ;” and in the rough, manly vigour with which he dissects such characters as a vain and cold-hearted village apothecary and a sporting clergyman, he seems to have impregnated himself with the spirit of Cowper in his satiric moods. But he is on the whole far less attractive than either of these poets. He is more powerful, but less delicate and refined than Goldsmith ; and though he often describes the same
objects, he invariably imbues them with darker colours, and seems determined to omit nothing that is offensive or degrading. Though he resembles Cowper in the force and bitterness of his irony, and the truth of his descriptions, he has little of his poetic ardour or elevation. His verse, which is chiefly confined to the couplet measure, seems a mixture of Pope's, Cowper's, Darwin's and Goldsmith's, a compound not always relished by an ear accustomed to the new modes of versification. The school to which Pope, Goldsmith and Darwin are considered to have belonged, and from the trammels of which even Cowper was scarcely free, was in fashion when Crabbe paid his first addresses to the Muse, and he appears to have brought down a portion of the poetical style and creed of that day to the present time. He and Rogers (and perhaps we may add, Campbell) are the links between what is now called the Lake school, and the poetry of a preceding period.
NO, VI.-LORD BROUGHAM.
There is no public character now living with whom this distinguished man can be compared. He stands alone in his greatness. He is as much above ordinary politicians as Milton was above ordinary poets. He is an intellectual giant, and dwarfs all his associates, though many of them are “men of mark and likelihood.” Perhaps no statesman in any age or country ever exercised so mighty and immediate an influence on the characters and opinions of his contemporaries. This results partly from his almost universal knowledge and his vigorous grasp of intellect, and partly from his having appeared at a time of great excitement when men eagerly look for a guide upon whom they can rely. His far-seeing and almost prophetic eye, his bold bearing and his indomitable energy, both physical and mental, are qualities admirably fitted for a great popular leader. If his own party, consisting as it does of some of the foremost men of all this world, present no rival or kindred spirit, what pigmies does