Imatges de pàgina

that James VI. caused, on account of his mounting the English throne, all the fortresses on the Borders to be dismantled, for we have nothing related in history of its having been materially, if at all, injured by any siege or assault it had at any time sustained.

(To be continued.)



COME, tell me, TRADITION, enchanter of song!

So pleasing, terrific, and wild;
Come, tell me to whom thy beginnings belong-

Thy home, when thou wast but a child ?
For on the proud rock, if I look, thou art placed

In hues and in forms of thine own;
And down with the cataract's foam thou art traced,

To depths thou hast fathomed alone :
Alternately shifting from mountain to dell,

From caverns to plains in the sun,
From forest to abbey, from castle to cell,

From places to deeds that are done;
Assuming the sceptre, the shield, or the hood,

The palmer and shepherd's array;
Appearing the lover, the murdered in blood,

The dæmon, the sad, and the gay.
How simple and pure was the tale which was told,

When infancy bloomed on thy cheek !
What mysteries soever thou hadst to unfold,

Our credence thou soon couldst bespeak :-
Bespeak with a grace, in the boyhood of time,

Ere life was cut down to a span,
When centries rolld on, before life was in prime,

And thou wert coeval with man.
Methuselah, so famed, in the morn of his days,

With Adam in converse might live;
To Noah, at eve, 'midst his sun-setting rays,

The hand of tirm friendship could give:
While Shem, in his person, connected his sire

With Abram, the friend of his God:
And few were the links that the chain might require,

Till Moses appeared with his rod. *

• One Man was only necessary between Adam and Noah—a period of 1656 years, and Methuselah lived to see them both. In like manner Shem connected Noah and Abraham, having conversed with each. Isaac, in a similar way, stood between Abraham and Joseph, with both of whom he had communication : and Amrain, contemporary with Joseph, might talk with Moses.

These-these were thy days-with thy dwellings among

An artless and patriarch race,
When social connexions were close, and were long,

Thy lineage for ages could trace:
So beauteous, so healthy--preserved by each head,

And loved by the child for his sake :-
An heir-loom to all, and as dear as the dead,

Whose names were in thee kept awake.
Necessity claimed an existence for thee,

Ere letters appeared to the eye;
While letters made Mem'ry-frail Mem'ry--a plea,

Why thou, sweet Tradition ! shouldst die:
But thou hast survived, and art destined to move

With time and with man in their course,
Compelling proud lore—for e’en letters must prove

The truth which thou hast for thy source.
But healthy, and blooming, and strong as might seem

The frame of thy juvenile days,
When life became short, that it fed like a dream,

So vanished thy heart-cheering rays:
Decrepit and wrinkled, and monstrous and rude,

Infirmity only appears;
Our faith is invited, but seeks to exclude

Thy form, as the fable of years.
Fair Fancy, unfettered, stepped forth to thine aid, -

Full o'er thee her garniture threw;
Proud Reason, to slay thee, unsheath'd his bright blade,

When backward, as wont, was thy view:
As Reason's supporter, grave Learning was brought,

Still backward and laughing thy route,
And flying, and fighting, pitch'd battles were fought,
Tbine, thine was the

conqueror's shout. Again and again was the contest resumed,

Some minor advantages gained ;
The drapery so fine, with which Fancy had plumed,

No longer its station retained :
So deftly uplifted by Learning's sage hand

From whom thou hadst hoped to be screened ;
Who saw, he declared, what short time thou didst stand,

The dark cloven foot of a fiend.

Though bared and though beaten, as oft thou wert seen,

Thy friends are the mass of mankind :
And eyeless and hoary, as long thou hast been,

With death standing dimly behind,
We love, while on travel, thy presence to meet,-

A thousand enquiries propose :
And thou, with thine answers, the querist will greet,

From knowledge that endlessly flows.

Where'er we may go, and with whom we may talk,

Thy presence is never remote ;
At home and abroad, on the flood, in the walk,

Thy musings are always afloat,
With peasant

and prince, and with friend and with foe, With age, and with childhood, and youth, Extending thy presence to all things below,

Professor-asperser of Truth!
While dark Superstition its bodings receives,

And Faith in the Spirit implies;
While Idols suppose in the man that believes

Belief in the God of the skies:
So weeds 'midst the richest of flowers have their birth,

As Error from Truth will proceed ;
And Satan's proud temples will spread o'er the earth,

Where temples of Truth lift the head.

The light of Improvement and Science, which dawned,

In smiles, on the works thou hast reared,
Was destined, at length, to destroy in each land

The errors with which they appeared :
As o'er the glad earth, when the morning, in smiles,

Its beautiful tinting employs,
And gilds the cold frost-work, whose feathers and piles

The heat of its noon-tide destroys.
But Science in all her migrations is slow,

Nor readily tracked on the road;
While Fiction, that travels on still lighter toe,

Will scatter her seedlings abroad ;
Will scatter them quickly through nature's wide round,

Where clusters of wild-flowers now rise,
In regions remote, where the same will be found,

Like kindred who meet by surprise.
From Noah to Janus the transit might move,

From Samson to Hercules run,
And upward, with awe, from Jehovah to Jove,

The threadings of Fiction are spun;
Whence all may be traced, like the stream to its source,

The stalk to its nourishing root:
But woe to the waters—all foul in their course!

The tree--for its poisonous fruit !
Then hear me, TRADITION, enchanter of song!

So changed since the days of thy youth !
To thee the Aurelia state must belong,

The midway 'twixt Fictior and TruthThe forthcoming insect, just ready for flight,

Bestirring its wing in its shell, Preparing to gaze on the sun in his might,

Enclosed in the darkness of hell.



It is a remarkable circumstance in the history of the human mind, that taste as yet has never continued in a state of perfection in any country. Many years perhaps may have passed away before it has attained its climax, but no sooner has it reached that point than it begins to sink into decay. This is a melancholy truth, but it is one for which we have the sure evidence of experience. What country was more famous for its taste and the cultivation of the arts, sciences, and literature than Greece—and yet its glory was but the prelude to its decline? In its day of splendour it could boast of a Sophocles, an Euripides, a Pindar, a Xenophon, a Plato,-could display its taste in the eyes of the world by the manner in which they estimated the merits of the great supporters of its scientific and literary fame; but the meridian of its power was scarce passed when taste began to de cline, and the thunders of the eloquence of Demosthenes seemed but the forerunners of its total overthrow. Greece sunk beneath the ambition of Philip and the arms of Alexander, taste continued on the wane, and at last transferred its abode to the land of Greece's second conquerors—the Romans. Nor was it permanent in Rome either. No sooner had the Augustan ara passed, than it gradually became perverted; and though now and then men of genius sprang up under the emperors, they were only like the last rays of the setting sun-beautiful in themselves, but marking the total disappearance of the great luminary. In course of time the papal authority gained the ascendancy, taste was soon buried beneath the superstitions of the Romish church, and those ages, emphatically named the dark, began to revolve. For centuries did this gloom of ignorance pervade Europe, but at length the dawn of the Reformation broke, betokening the approach of a brighter day.

In this manner has taste been in a state of perpetual fluctuation, ever, I may say, since the world began. It has risen in one country to perfection, then decayed, and on its ruins another was soon destined to rise, which in its turn was to be supplanted by a third. One constellation was no sooner blotted out from the horizon, than another appeared in its stead, and in a short while became the lord of the ascendant. Nor are we to regard as less remarkable—the manner in which taste has fluctuated in each of these countries. Invariably in them all has it followed the march of civilization, has risen gradually to perfection, flourished for a while, and then by degrees begun to retrograde. What Lord Bacon has said of learning may with propriety be said of taste ; —it “ hath its infancy, when it is but beginning and almost childish; then its youth, when it is luxuriant and juvenile ; then its strength of years, when it is solid and reduced; and lastly its old-age, when it waxeth drv and exhaust.” Such is the course of nature and such would appea. "to be the destiny of man. The human race at present have no doubt arrived at a high degree of civili. zation and mental culture, knowledge is extending wider and more perfectly than it ever did before, but, taking past experience to direct us in judging of what is to come, have we reason for supposing that taste will again decline? Such is the question which I propose to myself now, but it is one which, as I have occasion to revert to it afterwards, I shall not at present answer. Besides, in this discussion it is taken for granted that taste may decline, and going upon this supposition, I shall now endeavour to state the causes which appear to me the most effective in bringing about such a melancholy event.

It is a curious circumstance in the human mind, that what is best calculated for its improvement may not unfrequently be productive of a contrary effect. Such is the insatiable desire of man for perpetual change—the continual hankering after novelty. He cannot rest satisfied with what he has already attained, he is always aspiring after what remains unknown; and to such lengths may this desire for variety carry him, that even perfection itself may become tastless and destitute of attractions. That the mind should always be actively employed is necessary to its health and well-being, and to its desire for novelty is to be attributed nearly the perfection to which taste and knowledge can ever attain. Besides, the happiness of man seems to be bound up in the exertion of his inventive faculties, and that these should be gratified is therefore not only proper but necessary. Strange, that this trait in our character which can be productive of so much good, in improving taste, and in adding to the happiness of man, should also be one of the chief causes of his return to barbarism. Provided the objects upon which his mind is actively engaged be always varying, it makes little difference whether they be good or bad, and for the sake of change he is just as liable to adopt the latter as the former. As long as the former predominate, true taste will go on to improve, but when by any accident men are led to acquire a relish for any thing unworthy, taste must suffer a corresponding depression. Novelty therefore may really produce evil effects: in some cases it is certainly a gratification, but like all other gratifications, if carried to too great an extent, it may prove hurtful.

I place novelty at the head of the corrupters of taste, because men are less on their guard against it, and therefore it is most efficacious. There is a pleasure, I have already hinted, in novelty, and men are too captivated by it to perceive the evils resulting from the free indul. gence. It comes to them in the habit of friendship-alluring and attractive, gains at once their confidence, and so pleases them, that they see not they are turning into the paths of error, that their feelings are becoming more and more enervated, and that the purity of their taste is gradually disappearing.

This desire of novelty operates in two different ways, in corrupting taste,—first, upon the minds of those who administer to the taste of the nation; and, second, upon the minds of the nation at large. On each of these I shall endeavour to make some remarks.

1. When any one has a desire to become a candidate for reputation in science, literature or the fine arts, it certainly should be one of his chief objects—to be as original as possible. Without this, all his endeavours will be fruitless. Who, for example, would think a book worth the reading which contained nothing but what had already been fully and adequately explained? On the other hand, there can be nothing more truly contemptible than that which bears along with it no other recommendation than that of mere originality. Yet how



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