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rural retreat at Hampstead? He owes her indeed especial gratitude; and it would be unpardonable in him to suffer his daysweet' voice, and ** smoothing-on’sleeking-up’harp to be mute upon this occasion. The spring is to Mr. Hunt, what the night was to Endymion, the season for receiving peculiar favours; the • smiling Naiads,' and even the coy Ephydriads' will soon again admit him in sun-sprinkled ease' to, their bath and toilette; while the bolder Nepheliads' will leave their chariots in the air to kiss with breathless lips serene' their 'little ranting' favourite adoncino d'amore.
Mr. Hunt's offering to the season (we do not mean the bookmaking and bookselling season) consists of 'foliage' and evergreens.' Of each in order,—but first a few words of the dedication and preface. The former is addressed to a gentleman, of whom we know nothing, but who deserves, we doubt not, more than his friend's delicacy permitted him to record in his praise. Yet the good qualities which are with exquisite judgment selected, as entitling hin to the honourable post which he occupies, must we think a little surprize even the possessor himself.
You are not one of those, who .pay the strange compliment to heaven of depreciating this world, because you believe in another; you admire its beauties both in nature and art.' These are certainly very uncommon merits; but further - A rational piety and a manly patriotism does (do) not hinder you from putting the Phidian Jupiter over your organ, or flowers at the end of your room.' While we give the writer all due credit for the admirably close connection between the first and last part of this sentence, we must be excused if we hesitate to believe in the existence of magnanimity so super-human. The partiality of the friend is but too manifest in such praise; indeed Mr. Hunt seems to feel this himself, for he concludes by soothing the offended modesty of his hero-Pray pardon me this public compliment, for my own sake, and for sincerity's.
The dedication is followed by a very entertaining preface; but we will take shame to ourselves, and honestly confess, that a certain beautiful and indefinite vagueness in the expression has made it difficult for us to understand parts—while the excursiveness of Mr. Hunt's mind prevents our following him so as to connect the whole. We are aware of the ready answer— intellectum non
We think it but candid to state thus early, that we claim no other praise than that of selection, for the many new and beautiful epithets, with which this article is adorned. The whole merit of original invention, as far as we know, is Mr. Hunt's,for our own sakes we could have wished that he had subjoined an explanation of some of them, as we fear that in our ignorance of their meanings we may sometimes, with all our care, have been guilty of misapplying them,
adfero, adfero,' and we bow to it; but as a specimen of what we meant in both ways, we quote the following passage. It follows a few remarks on the downfall of the French school of poetry and the consequences of that downfall, with a definition of the true principles of poetry. And then for fear proclaim it meek and sage!
• An unattractive creed, however the hypocritical or envious may affect to confound the cheerful tendencies of our nature with vicious ones, or the melancholy may be led really to do so, is an argument against itself. Shall we never have done with begging the question against enjoyment, and denying or doubting the earthly possibility of the only end of virtue itself, with a dreary wilfulness that prevents our obtaining it? The fatality goes even farther--for let them say what they please to the contrary, they who are most doubtful of earth, are far from being the most satisfied with regard to heaven. Even when they think they have got at their security in the latter respect, it is through the medium of opinions which make humanity shudder; and this, except with the most brutal selfishness, comes round to the same thing. The depreciators of this world—the involuntary blasphemers of Nature's goodness—have tried melancholy and partial systems enough, and talked enough of their own bumility. It is high time for them and for all of us to look after health and sociality; and to believe that although we cannot alter the world with an ipse dixit, we need not become desponding, or mistake a disappointed egotism for humility. We should consider ourselves as what we really are-creatures made to enjoy more than to know, to know infinitely nevertheless in proportion as we enjoy kindly, and finally to put our own shoulders to the wheel, and get out of the mud upon the green sward again, like the waggoner, whom Jupiter admonishes in the fable. But we persist in being unhealthy, body and mind, and taking our jaundice for wisdom, and then because we persist, we say we must persist on. We admire the happiness, and sometimes the better wisdom of children; and yet we imitate the worst of their nonsense—“I can't because I can't.”—p. 15.
Now we would humbly ask how all this is connected with that which precedes it; or passing over the transition, we would beg Mr. Hunt to tell us what it means by itself. Is nothing intended which the mere words do not express? Is all this argumentation lavished on a few gloomy and disordered ascetics, who will never read Mr. Hunt's book, and could not be benefited by it if they should? We suspect he would disclaim such beating of the air; and when we find him asserting in the next page that the story of Rimini was written with a moral aim; and shortly after talking of a man's 'posing his apprehension with these involved riddles and enigmas of the Divinity, with incarnation and resurrection'; when we are told in a Sonnet on degrading Notions of the Deity, without limitation or caution, that men in general have set up
" A phantom swelled into grim size Out of their own passions and bigotries,
And this they call a light and a revealing - p.cxxii. when we consider too the compositions * of many of those with whom he has recorded his sympathy and agreement in this volume, we fear there can be no want of charity in assigning to this passage, and to many others scattered of set purpose through the book, a far more important, but a more offensive object. It may seem a wild apprehension to talk of the systematic revival of Epicureism amongst us in this age of the world; yet something very like it both speculatively and practically, and that too in its most dangerous because least offensive form, seems to be inculcated in all the writings we have alluded to. Lucretius is the philosopher whom these men profess most to admire; and their leading tenet is, that the enjoyment of the pleasures of intellect and sense is not to be considered as the permitted, and regulated use of God's blessings, but the great object, and duty of life. Strip Mr. Hunt of his leafy luxuries,' his flowrets,' his wine, music, and sociality,' and this is the bare maxim on which he builds. He may himself perhaps, partly from a namby-pamby disposition, partly from circumstances, and still more we should hope from the force of early principles, live on the safe side of his own theory; but we are greatly mistaken if as much can be affirmed even of all the first preachers of this new sect; and we are quite sure that it ought not to be expected from their followers. There are many obvious reasons why the author of a dangerous moral tenet may himself escape the danger-Epicurus, we believe, did so; but they who have neither the intellectual pride of a first discovery to compensate them for self-restriction, nor the ardent anxiety for the reputation of an infant sect to support them against their own principle, will certainly soon push it, as the Epicureans did, to its legitimate consequences, all impurity and all impiety.
Upon the reasoning of the particular passage quoted it would be a waste of time to argue; yet a few words may be allowed us. The term “unattractive creed' is a very vague one for a philosophical reasoner-creeds are attractive or not according to the state of heart and mind in which the subject is to whom they are proposed. The Tupinamban Indian found a creed unattractive, that would not tolerate cannibalism; and the Caffre does not
One of these is now lying before us--the production of a man of some ability, and possessing itself some beauty; but we are in doubt, whether it would be morally right to lend it notoriety by any comments. We know the author's disgraceful and Maritious history well, and could put down some of the vain boasting of his preface. At Eton ne remember him notorious for setting fire to old trees with burning glasses, no nnmeet emblem for a man, who perverts his ingenuity and knowledge to the attacking of all that is ancient and venerable in our civil and religious institutions.
easily renounce his filth and garbage: so the vain and disappointed man, the factious citizen, the adulterer--and he, if such there be, who thinks even adultery vapid unless he can render it more exquisitely poignant by adding incest to it, all these must find a creed unattractive, that enjoins humility, order, purity of heart and practice. But Mr. Hunt is in a state of deplorable ignorance for himself, if he thinks that Christianity is an unattractive creed to the sincere Christian, or that it demands from him any sacrifice, which is not conducive to his real enjoyment even of this life. On this subject we cannot express ourselves so well as in the words of one of the brightest ornaments of this age and nation. Rich aud multiplied are the springs of innocent relaxation. The Christian relaxes in the temperate use of all the gifts of Providence. Imagination and taste and genius, and the beauties of creation, and the works of art, lie open to him. He relaxes.in the feast of reason, in the sweets of friendship, in the endearments of love, in the exercise of hope, of contidence, of joy, of gratitude, of universal good will, of all the benevolent and generous affections, which by the gracious ordination of our Creator, while they disinterestedly intend only happiness to others, are most surely productive to ourselves of complacency and peace. Little do they know of the true measure of enjoyment, who can compare these delightful complacencies with the frivolous pleasures of dissipation, or the coarse gratifications of sen. suality.'
We have but one more remark to add on this head: Mr. Hunt may flatter himself with possessing a finer eye, and a warmer feeling for the loveliness of nature, or congratulate himself on the philosophic freedom with which he follows her impulses-he may look upon us and all who differ from him as dull creatures, who have no right to judge of his privileged opinions. Our path indeed may be a plain and beaten one, but at least it keeps us from some things, that seem to be grievous errors-new names and specious declamations do not easily deceive us. We should not, for instance, commend as singularly amiable the receiving great and unmerited favours to be returned with venomous and almost frantic hatred; we are at a loss for the decency which rails at marriage, or the honour which pollutes it; and we have still a reluctance to condemn as a low prejudice the mysterious feeling of separation, which consecrates, and draws to closer intimacy the communion of brothers and sisters. We may be very narrow-minded, but we look upon it still as somewhat dishonourable to have been expelled from a University for the monstrous absurdity of a heart to break that of a wife by cruelty and infidelity; and if we were told of a man, who, placed on a wild rock among the clouds, yet even in that height surrounded by a loftier amphitheatre of spirelike mountains, hanging over a valley of eternal ice and snow, where the roar of mighty waterfalls was at times unheeded from the hollow and more appalling thunder of the deep and unseen avalanche,—if we were told of a man who, thus witnessing the sublimest assemblage of natural objects, should retire to the cabin near, and write áteos after his name in the album, we hope our own feeling would be pity rather than disgust; but we should think it imbecility indeed to court that man's friendship, or to celebrate his intellect or his heart as the wisest or warmest of the age. Mr. Hunt may trace in all these things the loftier spirits that are to exalt mankind; but if this be all that he has gained by the euphrasy and rue with which his visual nerve is purged, he must not be offended if we say with blind Tiresias,
mathematical demonstration of the non-existence of a God:' according to our understandings, it is not proof of a very affectionate
φρονειν ως δεινον, ένθα μη τελη
λυει φρονεντι. We have already, without intending it, filled the limits to which Mr. Hunt is entitled; but he might complain of us, if we took no notice, as we promised, of the poems which form the body of his volume. And this is a more agreeable part of our task, because, with much to blame in some of them, there is also something to praise in others, and we shall be enabled to lay an extract or two before our readers, which may in some measure compensate for the dullness of our preceding remarks. Mr. Hunt's faults are a total want of taste, and of ear for metrical harmony; an indulgence of, cant terms to a ridiculous excess, an ignorance of common language, a barbarous and uncouth combination of epithets, an affectation of language and sentiment, and what is a far more serious charge, though it occurs but seldom, an impurity of both. He may amuse or deceive himself with distinctions between voluptuousness and grossness, but will he never learn that things indifferent or innocent in themselves may become dangerous from the weakness or corruption of the recipient? An author is bound to consider not how Adam and Eve in Paradise would have been affected by this or that description, but how in the present state of society it may operate on those for whom he writes. If the thing be practically pernicious, its abstract innocence is but a slight compensation ; and however he may plead a compact theory of his own, no man in a work of fancy is justified in writing that which a modest woman cannot bear without pain.
Mr. Hunt's merits are a general richness of language, and a picturesque imagination; this last indeed, the faculty of placing