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Through the bright summer azure the north breezes blow, That are cooled in their flight over regions of snow, Or westerly gales, on whose wandering wings The wave of the ocean its silver dew flings. Bright, bright is the prospect, and teeming the soil With the blessings of promise—with corn, wine, and oil, Where the cypress, and myrtle, and orange combine, And around the dark olive gay wantons the Wine. Woods leafy and rustling o'ershadow the scene, With their forest of branches and changes of green ; And glossy their greenness where sunshine is glistening, And mellow their music where Silence is listening, And the streamlets glide through them with glassier hue, And the sky sparkles o'er them with heavenlier blue. How deep and how rich is the blush of the

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A Series of Discourses on the Christian Revelation, viewed in Connexion with the Modern Astronomy. By THoMAS CHALMERs, D. D. 8vo. pp. 275. Third edition. Glasgow, Smith & Son; Edinburgh, William Whyte; 1817.

ONE of the worst features of the É. times is the separation that as taken place between science and religion. During the early part of the history of English literature, we find great talents combined with a sublime iety, and the most enlightened phiosophy with a fervent and glowing devotion; and they who explained to us the system of nature, defended the cause, and venerated the authority, of revelation. The piety of Milton, of Boyle, and of Newton, was not less remarkable than the superiority of their other endowments; and it will ever be regarded as a striking circumstance, that those giant minds, who have exalted the glory of English literature above that of all other nations, and whom we are accustomed to consider as an honour to the species itself, were distinguished above all other men for their habitual and solemn veneration of religion. Since the age of these distinguished writers the connexion between science and religion seems gradually to have been becoming less intimate. We are unwilling to arrange ourselves with those gloomy individuals who are found in every age to declaim against the peculiar depravity of their own times; but it is impossible not to see, that the profound reverence for sacred things, which distinguished the illustrious characters of a former age, is not now the characteristic of those by whom science is promoted, and knowledge extended. An enlarged s acquaintance with the works of nature ! is no longer the assured token of that deep-toned and solemn piety, which elevated the character, and purified the manners, of the fathers of our philosophy. Science is now seen without religion, and religion without science; and the consequence is, that the sacred system of revelation, however,

Vol. I.

magnificent and beautiful in itself, is in danger of being considered as fitted only to be the creed of less enlightened minds, and of failing in some measure, from this unfortunate opinion, to produce those important effects upon mankind, for the accomplishment of which it is so pre-eminently adapted. The volume before us is calculated, we think, in no common degree, to counteract this unhappy declension. It is written with an enthusiasm, and an eloquence, to which we scarcely know where to find any parallel ; and there is, at the same time, so constant a reference to the improved philosophy of modern times, that it possesses an air of philosophical grandeur and truth, which the productions of a more popular and declamatory eloquence can never attain. Were the taste of the author equal to his genius, and his judgment always sufficient to control the fervours of his imagination, the labours of Dr Chalmers could not fail to be infinitely beneficial. But here lies our author's chief deficiency. His genius is of the kind that is marked by its peculiarities as much as by its superiority; and this circumstance, we think, is the more to be regretted, as there is manifestly no necessary connexion between the excellencies and defects by which his works are characterised. The natural relations of the intellectual powers might have been more correctly maintained in his mind, while all his faculties continued to be exerted with the same constancy and vigour, and the same originality and invention might have been combined with greater dignity, and more uniform elegance.—We have therefore but a short process to institute, in order to admit our readers into a knowledge of the character of our author's mind. In our intercourse with the world, we often meet with persons in whom what we call genius predominates over every other feature; and who, though not superior to their fellows in taste, judgment, or understanding, are yet infinitely superior to them in the capacity of forming striking combinations of ideas, or in theendowments of an excurK



74 Review.-Dr Chalmers's Discourses.

sive or elevated imagination. This is precisely the case with the author whose works we are considering. Genius in him shines paramount to every other quality of his mind. In every page of the volume, which has suggested these observations, there is something bold, original, and striking; and yet there is every now and then some peculiarity of expression that offends a cultivated taste, or some wildness of sentiment that excites astonishment and wonder rather than sympathy. The author of these discourses is so well known to our readers in this part of the island, that it would be quite superfluous on their account to say any thing of his private history, but for the sake of our readers in the south, we suspect it may be necessary to tell, in a single sentence, who Dr Chalmers is, and how he has attained that uncommon celebrity he now enjoys among us. Till within these few years, Dr Chalmers was scarcely known beyond the circle of his personal friends. He obtained, at an early period, a living in an obscure part of the country; and being naturally of an inquisitive and active disposition, he devoted himself, in the leisure of his professional engagements, to an ardent prosecution of scientific knowledge. Accident, according to report, led him, some few years ago, to examine with more than ordinary attention the foundations of the Christian faith; and as the result of his investigations was a deep impression of the strength of the evidence by which it is supported, he now brought to the illustration and defence of religion a double portion of the enthusiasm he had already devoted to science. Hitherto he had been attached to that party in our church which aspires to the title of moderate or liberal—he now connected himself with those who wish to be thought more strict and apostolic. His reputation as a preacher, as might have been expected from the warmth and fervour of his eloquence, began now rapidly to extend itself; and the whole country was soon filled with the fame of his eloquence and his merits. The reputation he had thus acquired was not diminished but enhanced, by his occasional appearances in the congregations of this metropolis. His speeches last year in the General Assembly of the Scottish Church, and his sermons before the

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Lord High Commissioner and for the sons of the clergy, made known his merits to most of the eminent men in this part of the kingdom, and will be long remembered in this quarter as the most brilliant display of eloquence and of genius which we Ho ever had the good fortune to witness. Such is our author's brief and simple story, previous to the publication of the present volume. We must not induce our readers, however, to believe that the public were as yet all agreed in their opinion of Dr Chalmers’ merits. His former publications had been distinguished rather by a fertility of imagination than by a deliberate and cool judgment. He had been accustomed, it was said, to take up an opinion as it were by accident, and to defend it with enthusiastic ingenuity and energy, though at the same time he was overlooking something so obvious and palpable, that the most simple novice might detect the fallacy of his argument. He had written on the national resources, and had attributed every thing to agriculture, demonstrating our perfect independence of the luxuries of trade and commerce. He had published a treatise on the Evidences of Christianity, and had denied that the internal evidence was of any importance. Some detached sermons o; he had given to the public had been deformed by an austerity at which the polite world revolted; and it was thought that the new work which was announced would be found obnoxious to the same censures. With respect to this work, now that it has been published, we conceive that there can be but one opinion—that it is a piece of splendid and powerful eloquence, injured indeed, by many peculiarities of expression, by provincial idioms and colloquial barbarisms, but, at the same time, more free from the author's peculiar blemishes than . any of his former productions, and forming, notwithstanding its many faults, a work likely to excite almost universal admiration. That it would be improved, we think, every one will likewise allow, were there less sameness of sentiment and of expression— . were there fewer words of the author's own invention—were the purity of the English language, in short, as much attended to as its power and energy. If the author would only jo. taste as much as his imagination, he

might do more for the cause he has at heart, the cause of Christianity, than any other person with whom we are acquainted. The principal object of the discourses in the present volume is to prepare the mind for the direct evidence of Christianity—to do away that presumption which is supposed to exist a priori against this astonishing dis/pensation—to shew the infides that { there are things in nature hardly less ! wonderful than the redemption of man * -and that, amazing as is the scheme of revelation, it is yet in perfect analogy with the known attributes of God. Men of science, who see the operations of nature conducted according to uniform laws, and without the visible interference of an external agent, are apt to take up a prepossession against any system of miracles; and when | philosophy unfolds the volume of creation, and the understanding expatiates delighted on the laws and motions of planetary worlds, it is natural for | us to imagine that science has out}% stript the discoveries of religion, and that the records of the gospel are thrown into the shade by the triumphs of reason. “These are the prejudices which lie at the foundation of natural science;” and our author has exposed them with an ability and a success scarcely inferior to that of Butler himself, and in a manner certainly “better adapted to the taste and literature of the times.” He shews, that the faith of Christians is in reality something noble and sublime; and that, “elevated as the wisdom of him may be, who has ascended the heights of ience, and poured the light of demonstration over the most wondrous of nature's mysteries—that even out of his own principles it may be proved, how much more elevated is the wisdom of him who sits with the docility of a little child to his Bible, and casts down to its authority all his lofty imaginations.” The limits of a publication of this kind prevent us from entering into a minute examination of the work before us; and as we are sensible that we could do no justice to an analysis of these discourses, without allotting to it a greater space than is consistent with the plan of our publication, we shall conclude these general hints by recommending the volume, in the

strongest manner, to the perusal of our readers. To Dr Chalmers we would earnestly recommend, in his future productions, to avoid that eccentric phraseology, and that occasional uncouthness and vulgarity of expression, which cannot but counteract, in a very considerable degree, the effect of his enthusiastic and touching eloquence. His object is a style “adapted to the taste and literature of the times;” and the common defence of popular theologians, that they write to impress the heart and the understanding, and not to sooth or gratify a fastidious taste, will not avail. Dr Chalmers, who writes expressly for the literary world, and who must be sensible that it cannot benefit his cause to appear before them with those very blemishes which are most revolting to their peculiar habits and associations. Upon the whole, we are convinced that the effect of these discourses must be great and salutary. They will tend to shew the worshippers of reason and of science, that Christianity is in reality something transcendently sublime, interesting, and valuable; and to convince the world in general that a warm and habitual piety is really one of the characteristics of superior minds, while scepticism arises from an incapacity of profound emotion or grand conception. If the world were once convinced of this, the associations of the young and the gay would no longer interest them in favour of infidelity. Religion would become again universally loved, honoured, and practised; and the English character, instead of being gradually degraded to the diminutive model which is held out by the most flippant and unprincipled of our neighbours, would probably revert with unexpected celerity to its ancient style of grandeur and simplicity. It is only necessary that genius, which has been so long enlisted, throughout all Europe, on the side of infidelity, should again rouse itself in the cause of religion, to accomplish so desirable a revolution in the opinions and character of men. If a few great and original minds, like that of Dr Chalmers, should arise to advocate the cause of Christianity, it would no longer be the fashion to exalt the triumphs of reason and of science, in order to throw contempt on the discoveries of the gospel.

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Harold the Dauntless ; a Poem. By the Author of “The Bridal of Triermain.” 1817, Constable & Co. pp. 200. This is an elegant, sprightly, and delightful little poem, written apparently by a person of taste and genius, but who either possesses not the art of forming and combining a plot, or regards it only as a secondary and subordinate object. In this we do not widely differ from him, but are sensible meantime, that many others will ; and that the rambling and uncertain nature of the story, will be the principal objection urged against the poem before us, as well as the greatest bar to its extensive popularity. The character of Mr Scott's romances has effected a material change in our mode of estimating poetical compositions. In all the estimable works of our former poets, from Spencer down to Thomson and Cowper, the plot seems to have been regarded only as good or bad, in proportion to the advantages which it furnished for poetical description ; but of late years, one half, at least, of the merit of a poem is supposed to rest on the interest and management of the tale. We speak not exclusively of that numerous class of readers, who peruse and estimate a new poem, or any poem, with the same feelings and precisely on the same principles as they do a novel. It is natural for such persons to judge only by the effect produced by the incidents; but we have often been surprised that some of our literary critics, even those to whose judgment we were most disposed to bow, should lay so much stress on the probability and fitness of every incident which the fancy of the poet may lead him to embellish in the course of a narrative poem, a great proportion of which must necessarily be descriptive. The author of Harold the Dauntless seems to have judged differently from these critics, and in the lightsome rapid strain of poetry which he has chosen, we feel no disposition to quarrel with him on account of the easy and careless manner in which he has arranged his story. In many instances, he undoubtedly shows the hand of a master, and (as the director-general of our artists would say,) “has truly studied and seized the essential character of the antique—his attitudes and draperies are unconfined, and yaried with

demi-tints, possessing much of the lustre, freshness, and spirit of Rembrandt. The airs of his heads have grace, and his distances something of the lightness and keeping of Salvator Rosa. The want of harmony, and union in the carnations of his females, is a slight objection, and there is likewise a meagre sheetiness in his contrasts of chiaroscuro ; but these are all redeemed by the felicity, execution, and master traits, distinguishable in his grouping, by which, like Murillo or Carraveggio, he sometimes raises from out the rubbish masses of a colossal trifle.” But the work has another quality; and though its leading one, we do not know whether to censure or approve it. It is an avowed imitation, and therefore loses part of its value, if viewed as an original production. On the other hand, regarded solely as an imitation, it is one of the closest and most successful, without being either a caricature or a parody, that perhaps ever appeared in any language. Not only is the general manner of Scott ably maintained throughout, but the very structure of the language, the associations, and the train of thinking, appear to be precisely the same. It was once alleged by some writers, that it was impossible to imitate Mr Scott's style, but it is now fully proved to the world, that there is no style more accessible to imitation ; for it will be remarked, (laying parodies aside, which any one may execute), that Mr Davidson and Miss Holford, as well as Lord Byron and Wordsworth, each in one instance, have all, without, we believe, intending it, imitated him with considerable closeness. The author of the Poetic Mirror has given us one specimen of his most polished and tender style, and another still more close of his rapid and careless manner; but all of them fall greatly short of The Bridal of Triermain, and the poem now before us. We are sure the author will laugh heartily in his sleeve, at our silliness and want of perception, when we confess to him that we never could open either of these works, and peruse his pages for two minutes with attention, and at the same time divest our minds of the idea, that we were engaged in an early or experimental work of that great master. That they are generally inferior to the works of Mr Scott, in

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