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multitude of others, equally instructive, before the eyes of the author. *There are several other faults, not

confined to the present poem, but

exemplified in all the other works of Mr. Crabbe, as well as in that under review, which we reluctantly feel ourselves compelled, in our quality of critics, to point out.(Among these, that which we consider as the principal, is the choice of the subjects. X We have before noticed that Mr. Crabbe is fond of dealing in low life. But this is not all. (Whatever in low life is most abhorrent and disgusting, vice, infamy, and disease, indigence, insanity, and espair, seem to be eagerly selected by this author, as the images most animating and congenial to his muse, as the topics most favourable to inspiration. YIt is not enough that his hero should be vulgar; he must also be vile, and his fate must not only be tragical, but loathsome. No gleam of hope is allowed to pierce the dungeon which Mr. Crabbe exhibits: no tears of repentance to bedev the scaffold erected by him.) We have not chosen to make any extracts which would put modesty to pain; but it is easy to perceive that, among the other objections to such kind of writing, it necessarily involves much indelicacy. In his pursuit of horrors, this author does not scruple to lay open the recesses of licentiousness, and to “drag into day” the sickening deformities of low debauchery". We rejoice, however, to believe that it is to the temptation of being tragical alone that the fault is to be attributed, and that his object is never to be indelicate. But we entreat him to consider, whether the peculiarity of style, which gives birth to such passages, is not proved, by that circumstance alone, to be inconsistent with good taste and with right principle.

* A confirmation of this assertion will be found in the histories of Frederick Thomp*... and Ellen Orford, and in several Other Ports of Mr. Crabbe's works.

{ Where his subjects are not revolting, they are often radically mean and uninteresting, such as no importance of moral can exalt, or splendour of fiction adorn. Quackery, elections, trades, inns, hospitals---what genius can hope to throw the least glimmering of poetic lustre upon materials so cold and coarse as these ? / It is with most impartial accuracy that he himself has characterised them, as

“Scenes yet unsung—which few would choose to sing.” p. 149.

That be should have succeeded so well, in the management of such untractable materials, is certainly a decisive proof of his extraordinary powers as a poet. We are aware that Mr. Crabbe's peculiarity, in the choice of his subjects, is the effect of deliberate intention, and part of the plan and character of composition which he has prescribed to himself. We know that he has said much, and has stilt much to say, in its defence. He will admit, that such topics are not, in themselves, the most eligible; and that, if he had had no predecessors in poetry, be would have applied himself exclusively to those of an opposite description; but he will observe, that he is born in a late age of poetry; that the most agreeable and advantageous topics are pre-occupied and worn threadbare ; and that he seeks, therefore, in a change of subject, that originality which it is no longer possible, by any other means, to exhibit. If this is not the defence he would adopt, it is at least that which, in our opinion, may be the most plausibly urged in his favour. Yet it amounts to very little. It is, in effect, an admission, that the subjects are unfortunate, and it justifies their adoption merely on the ground of necessity. And even this justification, limited and disclaiming as it is, is unsupported by fact. We cannot admit that the era has yet arrived at which it is necessary to take up with the refuse materials of poetry; and, in proof of our opinion, it is only necessary, we conceive, to mention the names of Campbell and of Scott. (It is ob. wious that Mr. Crabbe does not want the powers to raise him into that scale of public estimation which these distinguished poets now ocsupy. He is inferior to them only because his subjects keep him o while this is the case, he falls under the same sentence which a verycompetentjudge has pronounced on those who, in the same taste, have cultivated the sister art. “The painters who have applied themselves more particularly to low and vulgar characters, and who express with precision the various shades of passion as they are exhibited by vulgar minds (such as we see in the works of Hogarth), deserve great praise; but as their genius has been employed on low and confined subjects, the praise that we give must be as limited as its ob. ject.”—Sir J. Reynolds' Discourse. It only remains to notice two other blemishes in the poetry of Mr. Crabbe, of minor importance, indeed, to those which have been already specified, but too considerable to be overlooked. These are an ill-advised fondness for : and point, and a slovenly system of versification. " * Of the first, it would be easy to produce numerous examples. Tet the following suffice. o Of sea-gulls, he says, that they

“clap the sleek white pinion to the breast, And in the restless ocean dip for rest.” P.11.

The opposition here is merely verbal, and amounts to nothing more than a quibble. In another place, he talks of ol The easy followers in the female train, * łed without love, and captive, without chain." - p. 33. If this antithesis were as happy as it is otherwise, it would still be impossible to forgive the alliteration. In the following page, the figure

is very appropriately put into the mouth of the finical vicar, whose example, one might have thought, would have been a warning to Mr. Crabbe. . “Not without moral compliment—low they Like flatters were sweet, and must like flowers decay." "p. 34. In his versification, we observe occasionally great harshness, and a want of the lina labor; a fault the more remarkable, as, in its general features, it is, doubless, formed upon that of Pope. (The following disjointed o: may serve, for example: o “The old foundation—but it is not clear When it was laid—you care not for the year ; Qu this, as parts decay’d by time and storms Arose these varied disproportion'd forms; Yet, Gothic all: the learn'd who visit us, And our small wonders, have decided thus: “Yon noble Gothic arch,” that Gothic door’— So have they said; of proof you'll need*/ more.” p. 18. * * * *

| Another objection that we must make to Mr. Crabbe's versification is its general character of monotony. The casura is sometimes for near * Page together in the middle of the line. Of this fault it is unecessary to give a specimen. "; one who reads “The Borough” alo will detect it at ouge in É. heayiness of the ..") - ! (On the whole, we have seldon met with a poet who combines, ... the very signal merit of Mr. §. a greater alloy of imperfection.) If he were a young man, and a bossy composer, we should hope every thing from his maturer exertions; but when we read in his Preface, that he is “ anxious it should #. known that sufficient time and application were bestowed upon this work” (“ The Borough”), and that no material alteration would be effected by delay,” we confess that we dare no longer indulge the Prospect of any material amendment in his style o composition, and fear

that time may rather confirm his

errors than extirpate them. 3 X 2

* * * - - o

The Truth and Consistency of Divine Revelation; with some Remarks on the contrary Ertremes of Infidelity and Enthusiasm, in Eight Discourses, delivered before the University of Oxford, at St. Mary's, in the Year 1811, at the Lecture founded by the late Rev. John Bampton, Canon of Salisbury. By John Bidlake, D. D. of Christ Church, Oxford, Chaplain to their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Clarence. Oxford : Parker. London: Longman. 1811. 8vo. pp. 250.

DR. Bidlake has already appeared before the public, both as a writer of sermons and a writer of poems; but it never has been our good fortune to become acquainted with him, in either capacity, until we met with his present work, which affords us a good opportunity of appreciating both the extent of his theological knowledge, and the inventive powers of his mind. On opening the volume before us, we were prepossessed in the author's favour, by the modesty of his preface. But it is vain to deny, because it cannot long be concealed, that this prepossession was gradually weakened as we proceeded through his pages; and we shut the book with a feeling of disappointment, rendered more painful by our favourable anticipations. But let us not pronounce sentence before we have summed up the evidence, at least before we have stated some of the grounds on which we have formed our decision.

The first Lecture is entitled, “On Infidelity in general.” . And here the author proposes to shew, “ that the evidences of revealed religion are capable of a very high degree of demonstration.” He no sooner makes the proposal, however, than he appears to lose sight of it; and the sermon closes without a single attempt having been made, at least that we can discover, to carry it into effect. Instead of a chain of connected reasoning, leading to his

promised conclusion, we have a mere school-boy declamation, without cohesion or consistency, which sets analysis at defiance, and leaves us in astonishment that an author, who renounces all claim to originality, and professes only “to extract or concentre” what he found in the able and ingenious writers who had gone before him, should have so dexterously missed every thing in their writings which was calculated to advance his object. We have abundance of assertion, indeed, and much that is asserted is very true. But then we have no argument, no proof, no demonstration; and these were what he had taught us to look for. We admit it to be perfectly right for preachers, in general, to assume the truth of revelation, and to build their reasonings and exhortations, their invitations and remonstrances, on that assumption. But surely, when a preacher announces his intention of grappling with the infidel, he ought not to take for granted the very point in dispute, and give us only bare assertions; or disjointed and desultory observations, which point to no conclusion. What, for instance, shall we make of the following passages; or what place shall we assign them in a discourse intended to shew, “ that the evidences of religion are capable of a very high degree of demonstration ?” “It seems to be permitted by Divine Providence, that error should be opposed, to truth. Perhaps the latter may be elicited and confirmed by the same means which are successful in human discovery. Its lustre does not indeed burst on us with irresistible power, but sheds on us a milder light, better adapted to our capacity, and so illuminating objects, that they are at once rendered accessible and distinct." p. 7.

What does all this mean? But

again.

“There is a spirit of presumption which resents instruction; and the temper of ingratitude is often so rancorous, that it derives a malicious satisfaction in repaying bounty with injury, and conciliation with insult," p. 9.

“There is another species of character, either of natural or acquired apathy, which appears incapable of being affected by any thing great or feeling.” p. 11.

“A good mind easily amalgamates with religion"; but one soured by discontent, or agitated by turbulent passions, will admit nothing exhilarating, and, like deeper colours, will absorb the rays of light. Such characters acquire a distaste for all that is good or excellent, and delight not in any contemplation which has a tendency to promote a love and veneration of the Divine Being. They look upon all the manifestations of his mercy and goodness with a sulleu and a stupid indifference. In vain the sun cherishes or enlightens: they feel not its warnith: they are not kindled into love or gratitude." p. 12.

This may all be very eloquent: but what does it prove Certainly nothing of what the author proposed to prove. But once more.

“Of Atheists we need not treat, since it may reasonably be doubted whether such really exist; for the impious often confess by their fears the weakness of their boast. Pretensions to such disgusting impiety are the effects of mental derangement, and are always accompanied with a total depravity of morals. It is the madness of wickedness, and the last state of corruption. But the manners of the Deist are more insinuating aud plausible, and by such the unsuspicious are too easily deluded. The one immediately alarms a good mind, and he carries in his defiance the same external signs of ferocity which characterize animals of prey: the other is at once fair and venomous, mild and subtle, gentle and treacherous: his words are enticing, but infuse a slow and a secret poison, which saps the moral constitution, and vitiates the soul.” pp. 13, 14.

Here the preacher, who sets off with doubting whether such an animal as an Atheist exists, ends with a particular description, not only of his mental qualities, but of his personal appearance, and with an exact specification of the generic marks by which he may be distinuished from the Deist. But this volume affords frequent instances of these petty contradictions, which

* In other words, “a religious mind" (for Dr. Bidlake will hardly affirm that any other can be good) “will easily amalgamate with religion!"

serve to manifest the noble carelessness of a writer, and to shew how well he can unite the licence of poetry with the more rigid rules of argumentative theology. To go no farther for an example than this first sermon: The author, after teaching us to believe “ that the designs and principles of the infidel, however candid in appearance, are really unfair and malignant,” (p. 8.) and that “infidelity is the crime of the profligate of every description,” (p. 9.) proceeds to disclaim the uncharitable intention of accusing all infidels “ of bad morals;” nay, he grieves “that there should sometimes be found men of eremplary character, who yet are under this melancholy infatuation,” (p. 10.) Notwithstanding this disclaimer, however, we find him, at the 14th page, representing the Deist’s “life as ever at variance with his professions;” “ he disguises vice under the specious garb of some excellence,” and “ is the dupe and slave of his passions.” But it is time that we should advert to some of the religious sentiments of the author, which appear in this discourse. “A cheerful and easy temper,” says Dr. Bidlake, “will incline us to look not only on all the works of the Almighty with delight, but to love his moral perfections, and to feel an interest in all that relates to him.” We certainly are no enemies to cheerfulness. We believe it to be one of the natural fruits of true religion. Religion, therefore, may incline us to cheerfulness; but it is not so obvious how a cheerful and easy temper should incline us to religion. On the contrary, we should fear that such a temper, when not founded in religious principle, is too nearly allied to thoughtlessness and inconsideration, to be productive of the noble effects attributed to it by Dr. Bidlake. The gay, laughing, airy Oxonians, who listened to his sermon, might, indeed, not be unwilling to believe the preacher, and to take credit to themselves for loving God's moral perfections, because their temper was easy and cheerful; but is this the feeling with which a minister of the Gospel would wish them to quit the house of God? The persons, of whom we read in the Bible, whose maxim was, “Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die,” were probably as easy and cheerful as the greatest admirers of those qualities could wish them to be. But does either Isaiah or St. Paul regard such as enviable characters? At the 27th page, we have another passage of the same equivocal, and therefore hurtful description.

“He may sincerely believe in the truth, who has not grace sufficient to resist temptation: even all profiigate men are not in this sense infidels. They may always be promising themselves reformation. But here lies the distinction; if we consent to the sacrifice of principle, or it, having no faith, we profess what we do not believe, for interested motives only, this is indeed detestable hypocrisy. If men make ostentatious professions of humility, or of voluntary poverty, to cover the designs of artifice, and yet betray an eagerness to deceive; or privately enriching themselves overreach, or take advantage of a neighbour, their religion is indeed vain.” pp. 27, 28.

And is not his religion also indeed vain, who has not grace suffi* cient to resist temptation; or who is profligate; even though he should promise himself resormation? This man knows his Master's will, and yet does it not. What, then, are the extenuating circumstances in his case (in the case of this profligate) which exempt him from the condemnation of the insincere prosessor : He may not be condemned for insincerity; but will he not be condemned for profligacy But Dr. Bidlake assumes that this profligate character may be a sincere believer. If so, what becomes of the doctrine maintained in other parts of this volume that “faith, in the sense of the articles and of Scripture, supposes

odness or virtue” (p. 199), and #. 206) that “ the sincere believer” is to be known by his

fruits? But it would be endless to point out all the inconsistencies of this kind which are to be found in these sermons. There is only another passage in this sermon to which we mean to refer, as indicating a defective view of the religion which the author has undertaken to defend. Speaking of the infidel, he observes. “He takes away the foundation of hope; he leaves us nothing to cheer the sadness, or to soothe the pains of existence. We are overwhelmed with misfortune; we are excruciated by pain; we linger under the tortures of disease; we pine under the langour of ill-health." p. 32. * Now in this, and much more of a similar kind which follows, there is no distinct reference to our redemption from the guilt and punishment of sin by the death of Christ, norte the renewal of our souls in the diwine image by the power of the Holy Ghost, which are the prime blessings of the Gospel. We are far from meaning to intimate that Dr. Bidlake ought to be regarded as not holding these essential points of the Christian faith. On the contrary, we perceive with pleasure a distinct recognition of the doctrine of redemption, in the subsequent discourses; and in the Lecture we are now considering, as well as in others, something is said, though indistinctly, about spiritual aid. What we complain of is this, that when contrasting the blessings of the Christian faith with the miseries of infidelity, he should have been able to merge, as it were, eternity in time, to overlook, in his enumeration of blessings, those which exceed in importance all the rest, and which constitute what is emphatically called “the Gospel”—the glad news of salvation from sin and merited wrath, and of restoration to the favour of God, and the hope of heawen. The second sermon is entitled, “On a particular Providence in the natural World, and the perpetual Agency of a First Cause.” Here we were arrested, in the outset, by a re

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