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say it, the reverend writer transgresses his functions, and is unconsciously betrayed into false principles and inflammatory verbiage, which cannot but injure the work to which he is a contributor, and excite doubts conceruing his own temper and talents. We touch this point lightly and generally, not only because we really wish to avoid giving offence, but because it would not be possible, in an article of a review, to define the limits where necessary or natural observation ceases, and where useless and injurious declamation begins; 'therein' the editor. must minister unto himself,' and to the public; it is his own good sense which must decide in such cases, and we make these remarks chiefly with a view of strengthening his hands against his coadjutors;-the public, we assure him, will complain, and his work will undoubtedly fail alto gether, if he does not exercise a wholesome restraint over the selflove of his correspondents.
So much for redundancies—but there is ground also to complaint of some deficiencies ; for instance, such observations as these not unfrequently occur :
Section IV.-There is nothing worthy of remark in this way, except the ruins of a church and two old castles.'
Surely it is of the essence of such a work that we should have some fuller account of these ancient churches and castles--their history-documentary, if it can be obtained--but at least, oral and traditionary. We attach particular value to information of this kind in a country like Ireland, of which the domestic history is in a state of profound obscurity, though the face of the country is studded over with the ruins of churches and castles, of each of which the history lives at least in the memory of its neighbours, and if written and compared with other collections of the same nature, would furnish a most curious and copious fund of local intelligence.
We are sorry also to see that the statistical tables are not all on the same plan; this will be found hereafter exceedingly inconvenient, as it will render it impossible to collect and combine these particular returns into general results, which is the only object worth attaining. In only one parish of the twenty-nine are the relative numbers of the Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Protestant Dissenters stated; this is a double subject of regret to us-regret that information so very valuable should be withheld in so great a number of cases, and that it should have been given in one in which the proportion of Protestants over the Catholics greatly exceeds the general rate of the country. This has an air of bad faith, which cannot but do injury to the work. We would earnestly request Mr. Mason to direct the attention of his correspondents to this important point, on which, perhaps more than any other, they will find the fullest employment for their candour and impartiality. As the returns, as far they relate to the Catholic population, must be for the most part matter of estimate, great differences of opinion will undoubtedly arise ; all that we can expect from the clergy is, that each should give his honest and unbiassed judgment on the subject; it may be to him a subject of regret that the disproportion on the side of his own church should be so considerable as it will frequently be found; but we confidently hope that this will never be permitted to affect his calculations.
On the parts of the publication which are peculiarly Mr. Mason's, we have a few suggestions to make. The first is, that we could wish that some kind of order had been preserved in the arrangement of the parishes, either alphabetical, provincial, or diocesan. The twenty-nine parishes stand, we admit, in this volume in the alphabetical order of their names; and it is perhaps intended that the same practice shall be observed in future volumes ; but this we must be allowed to say will, in the end, be no order at all. Mr. Mason's work, in its present form and style of printing, would probably consist of fifty volumes; and if each volume is to contain parishes of all counties, of all dioceses, and of names beginning with every letter from A to Z, it is clear that it would be just as well to let the printer place them according to his own fancy. We venture to suggest to Mr. Mason the propriety of adopting the ecclesiastical arrangement by archiepiscopal provinces and dioceses ; in each diocese it might be proper to arrange the parishes alpliabetically.
The objection to this has not escaped us; namely, that the publication must then be delayed till all the materials have been collected. Now this we think an objection which, if Mr. Mason and we do not greatly over-rate the zeal of the clergy, cannot be of any considerable weight. The history of one parish could not occupy much more time than that of another; and if the task of the editor be only, or little more than, to arrange the reports which he receives, the publication might surely go on sufficiently quickly. But where is the necessity for this prodigious haste? We have already said that we think the editor has something more to do than merely to receive the reports and correct the press, and we see no reason why he might not look to extend the period of his labours to three or four years. We are aware of the impatience of the Irish character, but this we think would be sufficiently gratified, and public interest kept alive, by the publication of a volume every six months.
Of the shape too of the publication we beg leave to say, that for such an object the octavo size seems to have been inconveniently adopted. Quartos, printed as quartos used to be of old, upon paper not too expensive, appear to us the best form for a work of such
VOL. XIII. NO. XXV.
magnitude. Nor should we despair of seeing, by due economy of space, the reports from each of the four provinces brought into one volume.
The quarto has also the advantage of affording a more suitable size to the plates with which Mr. Mason may present his readers; but we regret to be obliged to say that the execution of the plates which have been published in this voluine is utterly disgraceful we fear that the Irish artists are not very able; certain it is that nothing can be worse than those engravings, and that even in the mere mechanical process of striking-01, the negligence of the workman appears to have rivalled the incapacity of the artist.
It may seem doubtful whether it be worth while to go to the expense of a map of each parish--we are of opinion that it is ; and that these maps should enter as far as may be possible into local details : but then we would have no other engravings; no coins, no tombs, no landscapes, which even if well executed would not compensate for the increase of expense; but executed as they are in this volume, throw an appearance of vulgarity and ridicule over a respectable and valuable work.
On the whole, we earnestly recommend that the volume now published should be considered in the light rather of a Prospectus, than as the foundation of a work, and that Mr. Mason should with all diligence endeavour to prepare a publication, in quarto, of one of the archiepiscopal provinces. If this change of system should create any additional expense, we are quite sure it would be more than compensated by the superior value which the work would acquire; but if it should be necessary, we trust that the liberality and public spirit of the Irish government would be able to find some ineans of contributing to the expense of a work, the risk of which might become too great for an individual like Mr. Mason to bear, and the pecuniary responsibility of which could not fail to harass and distract his mind from his literary part of his undertaking.
We are glad to learn from the dedication that Mr. Mason's work has the countenance of Mr. Peel, the chief secretary of the lord lieutenant. It is well becoming a young man of generous feelings, of high literary attainments, and of enlarged views of his political duty, to exert the influence of his station for the local advantage of thật part of the empire with which he has become officially connected; and when we see him endeavouring to encourage a spirit of literary inquiry into useful objects, and assisting with his support the humble labourers in the field of local history, we cannot refuse to offer our tribute of applause, and to express our satisfaction that Mr. Mason prosecutes his useful work under such favourable auspices.
ART.IV. Roderick, the last of the Goths. By Robert Southey, Esq.
Poet Laureate, and Member of the Royal Spanish Academy.
London: Longman and Co. 1815. Two vols. 12mo. No poet in our language, or perhaps in any other, has been more
the object of contemporary criticism than Mr. Southey. The frequency and boldness of his flights astonished those who could not follow him, and who, naturally enough, when they saw him enlarging the range of his art beyond their conception, solaced themselves with an opinion of his having deviated from its rules. If poetry has any fundamental rules but those which best exbibit the feelings of the human heart, we confess that we are strangers to them. It is in proportion to his knowledge of these, and to his power of developing and delineating their action and effects, that the world in general will bestow their tribute of approbation upon the poet. Whether he lays his scene in heaven or earth, his business is with human sympathies, exalted perhaps by the grandeur of the objects which excite them, or called into existence by the circumstances which he creates, but still in their nature, progress, and ends, in every sense of the word, human.
These must be the main springs and active principles of a poem; and, compared to them, the power of all other machinery is weak and puerile. Our notions of divinity (unassisted by the light of Revelation) must be founded on the experience of what we ourselves feel and think. The gods who are to be introduced into a poem must have a shape and a tangibility. We can invent no form more agreeable to the eye, or more complete and adequate to all known purposes, than our own; and we can imagine no mode of intellectual existence different from that for which our own minds are constructed. By increasing the size, the beauty, and majesty of these deities, we endow them at once with a personal superiority; and by heightening in them the attributes of our own nature to a degree beyond that in which we ourselves possess them, we obtain an idea of beings of enlarged powers and intelligence. These may serye for gods to those who will be contented to take them as such ; but in fact they are only mortals highly endowed. The poet can oppose them to each other, and allot to each what portion of power he pleases; but when they are called in as auxiliaries they merely rob the real characters in the poem of their interest without exciting any for themselves. No one in reading the Iliad cares much about the party feelings that distract the parliament of Olympus. Hector is not a favourite with the reader because the side on which he fights is that of Mars and Venus. We love
him for his own sake, not for that of his patrons. When Mars, indeed, descends into the field, his presence serves to heighten the brilliancy of the scene, and to make the tempest of war rage with increased fury; but for the main interest nothing is gained by this interference. If he were made to exert his super-human powers, his antagonists could have nothing to oppose to them; and as the contest would be unequal, and the result foreseen, it would excite less attention than a contest between mere mortals; if these powers are suspended in the god during the struggle, he can only fight like any other hero of the poem, whose place he would usurp for the time.
When Diomedes is obliged to quit the field in consequence of the manifestation of the wrath of Jupiter, who does not see that the sublimity of the passage consists in the quickness with which the intelligence passes between the god and the mind of the hero ?
Τυδείδης δε διανδιχα μερμήριξεν
Σήμα τιθεις Τρώεσσι, μάχης εθεραλκεα νίκην. Ιλ. Θ. 167. Here the communication is immediate, and without the intervention of any subordinate agent. The machinery, if such it may be called, which Mr. Southey has employed in all his former poems, is of this nature. It is a machinery of intelligence and the passions, and it forms the distinguishing feature of his composition. In Joan of Arc he has made all the great events to result from the enthusiasm and virtues of his heroine. Her communications with heaven are carried on through the medium of an exalted feeling to whose dictates her prowess is to be attributed. The consequences which follow the display of it are just and natural. Her character is sufficiently elevated above common life to make it worthy of the lofty tones of poetry, yet not placed above the sphere of human sympathies, nor degraded by being made the puppet of a set of imaginary agents.
In the romance of Thalaba the same system is preserved ; and though it is a tale of entire fiction which requires that the reader should admit the existence of magic for its basis, yet Thalaba is assisted by no power which might not be more than equally the protector of his antagonists; and so far from being superior in preternatural means, when he has cast off the ring which Mohareb ręproaches him for wearing, he opposes only to the sorcerer
the enthusiast mind,
The inspiration of his soul: and when he asks the penitent angels Haruth and Maruth for the