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It is a difficult task to complete a parallel between two authors, one of whom has written so much, and the other so little. In that peculiar path in which they both walked, different opinions of their success will always be maintained. In comparing the Elegy with the Deserted Village, we ought certainly to recollect that no inconsiderable portion of the former poem is directly or remotely imitated from preceding authors; while, with the exception of two or three lines, the originality of the latter has been unquestioned. The Bard and the Progress of Poetry have been affirmed by many able critics to combine the inspiration and the magnificence of the lyric muse: without wishing to subtract any thing from this high commendation, we venture to claim for the Traveller an equality of distinction, in a different order of poetry. In efforts of sportiveness and humour few will set up The Long Story against Retaliation.*
But whatever relative positions may be assigned to them by admiration or criticism, their immortality is secured. Their poetry will retain its influence upon the public mind, because it is addressed to sympathies which can be extinguished only with Nature herself. Gray attributed, and justly, a large portion of the success of the Elegy to the captivating and touching pathos of the theme. The Traveller and Deserted Village
* When this composition (The Long Story) was handed about in MS., very different opinions, we are informed, were pronounced respecting it. Some persons discovered in it a master-piece of humour; others, a wild and fantastic farrago." Neither criticism was just. Mr. Mathias has exerted himself to prove, that its ill success is entirely owing to the mixture of wit and fancy with humour, modified by the fastidious delicacy of the writer's own character. This explanation is not very clear; but we give it as we find it. The comic writer who requires a commentary to indicate his humour may rely upon a short life, whether it be a merry one or not. But as it was hardly possible for Gray to write any thing without some flashes of excellence, we accordingly meet in the Long Story with two or three stanzas happily conceived and expressed; we may mention the description of the mansion, containing one line, which has become proverbial,
“ Rich windows that exclude the light,
And passages that lead to nothing." A compliment to Lady Cobham in the eighth stanza is elegantly turned:
« The other Amazon kind Heaven
Had armed with spirit, wit, and satire ;
And tipped her arrows with good-nature." Mr. Mathias praises also very highly the appearance of the ghostly Chorus of Old Women. We may observe that the fifteenth stanza contains an expression which was scarcely to be expected from the refined pen of Gray.
are indebted largely to the same cause. The motto chosen by Mason out of Virgií,—“Sunt lacrymæ rerum, et mentem mortalia tangunt,”—is equally applicable to each of the poems. They embrace topics in which all have an interest, and draw their imagery from sources with which all are familiar. In the acquirements of the scholar, the refinement of taste, in picturesque richness of fancy, in glow and brilliancy of colouring, Gray was superior to Goldsmith; and had he possessed sufficient energy, and determination of purpose, to complete any great work, his History of Poetry for example, his elevation would have been greatly increased. He died, indeed, in the autumn of his life; but we are not warranted in believing, that the prolongation of it would have enriched the small cabinet of costly treasures that he has bequeathed to us; his habits of excessive polish and minuteness of finish, even by his own confession, rendered composition a very fatiguing occupation, and almost precluded the possibility of his perfecting any work of continued labour. The painter of a miniature, accustomed to the utmost delicacy of handling, grows weary over the vast dimensions of an historical picture. But when we turn our eyes to Goldsmith, and remember that he faded from the earth at the early age of forty-five, in the maturity and ripeness of his intellect; when we recollect that not in the luxurious ease and solitude of academic bowers, but in the noisy discord of Green Harbour Court, and the dusky seclusion of the Temple, with poverty and want frequently at the door, he gave to the world works, in their class never surpassed--one never equalled ; surely we are warranted in pronouncing him the most fertile, the most natural, the most inventive genius of his age ; and are entitled to exclaim with Johnson, that every year he lived he would have deserved Westminster Abbey more!
Art. V.-The Ministerial Character of Christ practically con
sidered. By CHARLES R. SUMNER, D.D. Bishop of Winchester. London: Hatchard and Son.
IT is an opinion we have long entertained that overmuch forbearance and timidity have of late years been the bane of our Protestant Establishment. Many of the clergy have been averse boldly to deliver their sentiments, they have been cold and lukewarm, they have been afraid to speak out. With an array against them of talent and energy unparalleled in ecclesiastical history, save perhaps in the cloudy and tumultuous times of the first James and Charles, they have remained indifferent auditors of all that is loudly meditated for their destruction. This marvellous apathy and silence has every appearance on a first view of admitting the truth of the
slanders and defamation which are scattered with such pestilent activity by an infidel press, and of deferring to the arguments which are spurted forth on all sides, by the adherents of government and the radical orators their betters. In all probability however the conduct arises from a precisely opposite motive; namely, an overweening confidence in the security of that Church which their Ministry is intended to uphold, and their zeal and ability to defend.
This equivocal acquiescence in ribaldry and falsehood may however be carried too far; and there is, undoubtedly, a point where submission to insult ceases to imply conscious worth, and when not to accept your adversaries' challenge, instead of being ascribed to the strength and dignity of virtue, will be deemed nothing but a tacit confession of the weakness of your cause.
That the Church having a due sense of the important interests which, with all the impress of a trust, she is left to uphold should bear and forbear much, ere she put forth her strength, and ere she condescend to notice from the pulpit the inveterate hostility of her assailants, we are ready to allow; but we are of opinion she has submitted with a somewhat too exemplary patience, and has endured, beyond what the base worm would tamely suffer. A longer silence would betray the cause. We are free to affirm, that the day has gone by when she should receive her insults with impunity. The period of forbearance has long since elapsed: the season for action is at hand. We are standing on a scanty isthmus, between a sterile desert and a stormy sea : the opportunities past are not to be recalled; time is ever flowing, the ground is being washed from beneath our footsteps: the Church must haste and bestir herself—she must buckle on the armoury of her mighty champions of old, and interrupt the long repose of the pulpit. To hesitate longer were to strike her colours, and she has nothing now left but to nail them to the mast. With false and fickle friends within the
camp, avowed and able and indefatigable opponents environing her, her vis inertiæ, that which clings to long-recognised immunities and possessions, matched against the vivacious talent and subtle activities of hostile and needy rivalship, and, more ominous than all, with men in high places anxious for her destruction, if she lose sight of her solemn obligations, of that which is becoming her station, and consistent with her high promise and lofty recollections; if she miss the course fitting her to pursue ; if she do not shake off the mental inertia we have alluded to, which, analogous to the quality in material things, whereby they resist being put into a state of motion, makes her unwilling to be disturbed; if now that the tide of her fortune is at the flood, she do not take advantage of les retours des ondes, then her future course will be bound in shallows, and she will find it impossible to play an after game of defence and replication.
Under this conviction, many highly-gifted clergymen have laid hold of any favourable occasion, which within the last twelve months may have presented itself, to draw the attention of their congregation to the awful aspect of the political horizon in its bearings upon the prospects of the Protestant Establishment.
These intrepid and judicious defenders have felt, that although the pulpit be not properly a rostrum for the promulgation of party politics, still times occur, when some allusion to matters connected with the Establishment becomes imperative on the part of the conscientious clergyman. When the spirit of infidelity and religious innovation—when the vox Diaboli takes the shape of raging political fanaticism, it is surely incumbent upon the ministers of the National Church to protest against further injustice—to oppose the spirit of spoliation—to answer the calumnious charges of her enemies—to throw back with indignation the libellous assertions that daily run the gauntlet of the press, and are repeated by a misguided public—and above all, to expose the conduct of those men, who, towering in all the pride of place, set themselves to the task of subverting our Protestant Establishment, thereby endangering those venerable institutions which were revered by their long-buried ancestors.
Our readers will perceive, it is not altogether a review of the masterly episcopal production whose title we have chosen to prefix to this article that we contemplate; nor does our object rest in pointing out to the attention of the reader the pure and perspicuous style of the Bishop of Winchester, or expatiating on that genuine goodness and conciliating candour which form one charm of the volume before us; but our desire is to make “ the Ministerial Character of Christ practically considered” answer our purpose as a text, because it contains many passages which (by inference at least) present the nearest explication of our own views and sentiments that we have happened to fall in with.
The Right Reverend Prelate apprehends what is the critical position of the Church in these times of frailty. He clearly, distinguishes the straight line of the duty of a christian clergyman, and he has not shrunk from speaking out upon his conviction. He is evidently cognizant of the important fact that “the enemy is at work amongst us, craving for they know not what.”* It is this tone which, beautifully softened down by the christian spirit, pervades the present publication.
There never was a time,” remarks this eminent prelate, " in the history of our own " or of any church, when the imitation of Christ's faithfulness "challenged more irresistibly the attention of the clergy. We
* See Sermon on the Present Crisis. Longman and Co. London, 1835. NO. II.
“ have fallen upon days when it behoves the Church to entrust her
cause to none but those who profess themselves willing to take “ up the divine panoply, and buckle on the whole armour of God, "and cry aloud unceasingly-Who is on the Lord's side? who? “ The Church cannot now engage in her service the blind, and the “halt, and the lame; her servants must be unblemished-able “ ministers of the New Testament; ready to give an answer to
every man that asketh of them the reason of the hope that is in “ them; apt to teach; content to take patiently the spoiling of “their goods for the truth's sake. This is no time for folding the " hands in slumber, or for acquiescing in any low or cold standard “ of inoffensiveness. Let it be remembered that the Spirit of “God bears testimony that the characteristic of a fallen church “ is lukewarmness.
These are not days when ordained members “ of our own Church can afford to be neither hot nor cold." And again : “ The Church holds them responsible for their “ doctrines. She is built upon the apostles and prophets, Jesus “ Christ himself being the chief corner-stone. She expects them,
therefore, to be faithful to their trust in this matter. She
requires them not to depart from the simplicity of apostolic “ truth. She bids them preach the word, and nothing but the “ word. She calls upon them to promulgate distinctly, and “ vindicate from misconception, the grounds on which she rests “ her pretensions to the title of a true church. Now our Church “refers explicitly for her doctrines to holy writ, and expounds “ the sense in which she understands it in her Liturgy and “ Articles. She desires to be tried by that standard, and “ admits of no other. She will bear no human addition-no “ traditional rubric no collective wisdom of councils. Her
appeal is to the law and to the testimony, and by that criterion “ she is prepared to stand or fall.” Such language speaks for itself, and happy should we be if the style and tone were adopted by all ministers of the gospel.
We do not entertain a particle of doubt but that the efficiency in the pulpit of the holy ministers of our Establishment has been blighted, through an apparent lukewarmness, which naturally tends to dull the edge of devotion. The clergy, reposing in the modest security of the Temple, have fulfilled to the letter the injunction of our Saviour, and after having been smitten on the one cheek, have presented the other also. And so far as they were christian men, their excess of humility is characteristic and praiseworthy; but they had and have the Jures Ecclesiæ in their keeping, and they are bound to exhibit some spirit, however tempered, in token of their integrity. It is this evident earnestness which makes the essential feature in the work of the Bishop of Winchester, and therefore do we offer our most willing testimony to its worth at the present crisis.