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And centuries held their course, before, far off,
In ancient characters, King Roderick's name.' The critic who undertakes to give an epitome of a poem of so high a rank as · Roderick,' has little to do but to point out in the mass of admirable matter those things which strike him as most worthy of admiration. Original in its plan, true in its fundamental elements, and consistent in its parts, it rouses the feelings, and stimulates those powers of the imagination, which rejoice in the consciousness of exertion. When we rise from the contemplation of a work, which has so involuntarily called forth the vigilance of attention by its development of character, its display of the capabilities of human nature, and by the interest which it creates, we are made to feel that our intellectual and moral existence is enlarged. This effect is produced, in the first instance, by the character of Roderick. His remorse, which awakens us to a horror of his crime, and holds out, even to the full-fraught man, the best endued,' a profitable example of the evils into which inordinate passions may betray him in an unguarded moment, proves the ingenuousness of his mind, and, while he is lowest in his own esteem, gives the first and surest earnest of his future
and virtue. When, by an effort consistent with his character, he rises above the despair in which he feels it disgraceful to be involved, we recognize the salutary workings of repentance in the self-devotedness with which he seeks to retrieve the consequences of his faults. From this point he springs into a new state of moral existence, and his progress, though rapid, is regular and consistent. In solitude and in contemplation he has obtained a knowledge of his own beart, and acquired self-controul; the powers with which nature has originally endowed him, enable him to controul others, and strengthen the inAuence of his enthusiasm over all within the sphere of his example. The priestly form in which he appears may be considered as necessary for all that passes with Florinda and Julian. His sacred character secures attention, while the remoteness of the era in which the action of the poem is placed, and the obscurity of its history, preclude the necessity for tying him down to the observance of any particular order. Every incident in the poem is brought about by his direction, the energies of all the actors are kindled by his influence, and the victory, which effects the consummation of his wishes, is ensured by his example.
The person next in importance is Adosinda. The story of her injuries first gives a form to the sentiment with which Roderick's mind is occupied. The evidence of her sufferings operates as a powerful call upon him to revenge them, and suggests to his ima
gination the universal distress of his country. It required no small management to derive from her services all that was necessary to the author's plan, without suffering her to trespass upon it; and to drop or suspend her office without appearing to have neglected or forgotten her. We think that Mr. Southey has steered clear of these difficulties. We recognise her exertions, without seeing her, in the eleventh book; she makes her appearance again in the fourteenth, where she is enabled to fulfil the prophecy she made when parting with Roderick at Auria; and in the twenty-third a part is allotted to her worthy of herself, and of the expectations entertained on her behalf.
The character of Count Julian, and the situation in which he is placed, are of material importance in furthering the object of the poem. The consciousness of shame which he tries to conceal by obstinacy; the self-justification which he vainly endeavours to establish by sophistry; the suspected light in which he is viewed by his adopted friends; the injuries which he and his followers are made to endure at their hands ;-all these hold forth a lesson, if one were wanting, to shew that he who forgets the natural obligations of duty, and forsakes his country and its cause, must never hope for refuge in the approbation of his own heart, nor in the confidence or esteem of others. The better part of his character serves to illustrate and exemplify the principles whose operation is developed throughout the poem ;
and which, as we have observed, furnish its most efficient agency—the retrieving power of virtue, the force of enthusiasm and will. Julian, at his death, rewards the filial piety of his daughter; and in his reconversion to his country and his God, the triumph of her constancy and goodness is acknowledged.
Of the manners of the poem, or at least of their authenticity, we can say but little—as little of what may be called its cosa tume. We believe that there are no Gothic buildings existing in Europe from even the ruins of which the author could have collected materials for embellishment; still less can we look for any record of the habits of life of a people who have so long since disappeared, and of whom so few literary monuments remain. Where, however, any notice of them could be gleaned, they have not escaped the observation of Mr. Southey. With regard to the Moors, history has afforded more ample materials, and we have, therefore, portraits of them which we can recognise, because, as their habits are less liable to change, tradition and continued customs have brought them more nearly within our view. Great praise is due to the poet for the introduction of that difference in the manners of the two parties, which he has made to result from the difference of their creeds. On the side of the
Spaniards, Spaniards, we find a spirit unbroken by adversity, hope enlivened by the justice of their cause, the courage of action as well as of sufferance, enthusiasm in the leaders, and confidence in the people. The Mussulmen are actuated by more sensual motives—the desire of worldly possessions, a spirit of conquest, and the hope of success in this life, as an earnest of reward hereafter. The christian clings to his faith, with full trust in its support and assistance, and lights up all his other passions from the altar of his adoration. The Mussulman, in his reliance on the decrees of Providence, loses his concern for results, without feeling his ardour for exertion para lysed. Each bas something of that vanity universal among mankind, which ascribes to the special favour of heaven the natural effects of ordinary causes; but it is most apparent on the side of the Spaniards, where it is sanctioned by superstition and strengthened by credulity.
These are the materials out of which Mr. Southey has constructed his poem. We trace in it the same hand that produced his former works, but improved in skill, and power of application to the topics introduced. It has not the variety of Madoc, nor are there in it those examples of tenderness, and the more humane feelings, with which that work abounds. The object of the poet seems to have been to display the intensity of passion, and the action of the severer virtues. Those milder affections, in the description of which he has sometimes indulged himself to an extent that has weakened the effect of their beauty, have found a place here only in the retirement of Gaudiosa and her children, where the solitude, and the stillness of the scene has prepared the mind of the reader to receive them. The high and tumultuous tide of feeling which flows through the whole poem, would admit of no interruption or distraction, even by allusion to sentiments of a softer nature. The very love, which Florinda confesses for Roderick, partakes of the same lofty character; it is founded upon admiration and sympathy, , and, though concealed by female pride and a sense of duty, it rises to the utmost pitch of passion, and reigns predominant in her breast.
Of the versification which Mr. Southey has employed we have given our readers sufficient specimens to enable them to judge for themselves. The variety of its cadences gives a spirit which relieves its grandeur, and the redundant syllable at the end of many of the lines prevents the majesty of its tone from oppressing the
The language is such as the best authors of the best era of our literature would acknowledge, nor can we give it higher praise
that its standard worth would be admitted in the mint of Queen Elizabeth's age. Many words corrupted by familiarity are here restored to their original meaning, and rescued from the per
than to say
version to which they have been subjected by fashion or negligence. For the mode in which Mr. Southey has treated his subject he alone is answerable ; it is built upon no model, there is nothing which even the rage
for classification can class with it, nor has it any thing which partakes of the character of a school,' except it be that school in which the moralist and the philosopher pursue their studies of the human heart, and learn to record their observation and experience.
We must now take our leave of Mr. Southey, congratulating him upon the success of his labours, which will form an epoch in the literary history of his country, convey to himself a name perdurable on earth,' and to the age in which he lives a character that need not fear comparison with that of any by which it has been preceded.
Art. V. A new Covering to the Velvet Cushion. 8vo. pp. 180.
London : Gale, Curtis, and Fenner. 1815. THE fate of the Church of England is somewhat singular. By
a memorable exertion of her courage and learning, she delivered herself from the corruptions of the papacy, and proved the necessity of a separation. The vindication of her cause went on, while the blood of her martyrs was shed; and at length her constancy was rewarded with that legal settlement which followed and justified her claims to a national independence. Such an event could not but call forth the bitterest hostility of the church from which she had departed. Accordingly, in the vocabulary of Rome, every degrading, every opprobrious term has been heaped on our protestantism. It is the fountain of all mischief, civil and religious. In the one case, it has loosened the ancient bonds of society through the encouragement given to resistance; and in the other, it is the parent of ecclesiastical dissension. Nor are these reproaches confined to the age which gave birth to them. They still subsist; and we are viewed by Roman Catholics, even in our own country, with the same odium which fell, though with a more fatal effect, upon our forefathers.
But while these consequences have arisen from the assertion of our independence on a foreign church, accusations of the most astonishing nature have been brought against us at home, and we are treated by many of our sectaries, as if we were still immersed in the corruptions of the papacy! When we issued from the bosom of Rome, we asserted together our freedom and our principles ; and the ancestors of churchmen and dissenters were happy to live and die in one communion. On the foundation then laid for her, the Church of England has always stood; and her constancy is proved by the continuance of her government and discipline, and
VOL, XIII. NO, XXV.
by the uniformity of doctrine maintained in' her Liturgy. But the love of change soon began to appear, and the influence of another foreign church, reformed on different principles, soon became visible in our own.
Alterations were first demanded in unimportant matters, in the dress of the officiating minister, in the posture of the worshipper, and other circumstances which hitherto had been unnoticed, or were not deemed of sufficient consequence to require a separation of communion. The impulse, thus excited, rapidly increased. The smallest points were soon swelled, by the spirit of party, into cogent reasons of dissent. Doctrines too, which had been hitherto acknowledged as scriptural, and deemed satisfactory to the conscience, were declared unholy or imperfect. Enthusiasm was promoted, and separate congregations were formed; till at length the Church of England was doomed to hear, from those who had now withdrawn from her communion, the same charges which they had once justly poured in common on the Church of Rome! This spirit of innovation still subsists, and with more than its former noxiousness. The original ground of our Reformation was national. This principle is now denied: and, in the present age, the liberty of dissent is become so wanton, that the privilege has been claimed as merely personal, and any individual professing opinions, never yet held by himself or any other, is his own church.
These principles appear in all their insolence and malignity in the publication before us. In our last number some account was given of the Velvet Cushion; and thither we must refer our readers for the plan and object of the work. The present professes to be an extension of its history and a correction of its principles. The Cushion had related the events which had befallen it during the chief part of the period from the Reformation to the present age. But whatever was its experience, it was left within the pale of an ecclesiastical establishment. It is deemed necessary, therefore, to remove it from thence to a more evangelical situation, and for this purpose
the Cushion is made to continue its tale.
If any person should hereafter discover this series of papers, which before terminated rather abruptly, he will perhaps conclude from the motto which I have chosen to prefix to the following narrative, that my views of things have been completely and somewhat suddenly changed. Such is, indeed, the fact; and though certain persons of fashion may possibly start with horror at the idea of any body changing their religion, and think that I am either become insane or enfeebled in my faculties by the palsy of extreme old age, I must assure ther, that neither is the case--no derangement has occurred; for though the vicissitudes I have suffered might naturally enough be supposed likely to produce such an effect on stronger heads than mine, it is my happiness to enjoy all the vigour of renovated youth. A cursory survey of