« PreviousContinue »
his God no sacrifice of b pod and tears, whether others' or his own, but the incense of a grateful and obedient heart, ever ready for love and good works.
It is this childishness, rather this virginity of soul, that makes Prince's poems remarkable. He has no high poetic power, not even a marked individuality of expression. There are no lines, verses, or images that strike by themselves ; neither human nor external nature are described so as to make the mind of the poet foster-father to its subject. The poems are only easy expression of the common mood of a healthy mind and tender heart, which needs to vent itself in words and metres. Every body should be able to write as good verse,-every body has the same simple, substantial things to put into it. On such a general basis the high constructive faculty, the imagination, might rear her palaces, unafraid of ruin from war or time.
This being the case with Prince, we shall not make detailed re. marks upon
but merely substantiate what we have said by some extracts.
1st. We give the description of his Journey and Return. This, to us, presents a delightful picture ; the man is so sufficient to himself and his own improvement; so unconquerably sweet and happy. 2d. The
poem • Land and Sea,' as giving a true presentment of the riches of this poor man.
30. A poem to his Child, showing how a pure and refined sense of the beauty and value of these relations, often unknown in pal. aces, may make a temple of an unfurnished garret.
4th. In an extract from · A Vision of the Future,' a presentation of the life fit for man, as seen by a 'reed-maker for weavers;' such as we doubt Mrs. Norton's Child of the Islands would not have vigor and purity of mental sense even to sympathize with, when conceived, far less to conceive.
These extracts speak for themselves; they show the stream of the poet's mind to be as clear as if it had flowed over the sands of Pactolus. But most waters show the color of the soil through which they had to force their passage; this is the case with Elliott, and with Thom, of whose writings we shall soon give some notice.
Prince is an unique, as we sometimes find a noble Bayard, born of a worldly statesman-a sweet shepherdess or nun, of a heartless woman of fashion. Such characters are the direct gift of Heaven, and symbolize nothing in what is now called Society.
THE CHILD OF THE ISLANDS: By the Hon. Mrs. NORTON. London:
Chapman and Hull. 1815. HOURS WITH THE MUSES : By John CRITCHLEY PRINCE. Second
Edition. London. Simpkin, Marshall & Co. 1811.
The Hon. Mrs. Norton and Prince, “ a reed-maker for weav. ers,” meet upon common theme—the existing miseries and possible relief of that most wretched body, England's poor : most wretched of the world's sufferers in being worse mocked by pretensions of freedom and glory, most wretched in having minds more awakened to feel their wretchedness.
Mrs. Norton and Prince meet on the same ground, but in strongly contrasted garb and expression, as might be expected from the opposite quarters from which they come. Prince takes this truly noble motto:
' Knowledge and Truth and Virtue were his theme,
Mrs. Norton prefaces a poem on a subject of such sorrowful earnestness, and in which she calls the future sovereign of a groaning land to thought upon his duties, with this weak wish couched in the verse of Moore :
“As, half in shade and half in sun,
This world along its course advances,
Be all that shall ever meet thy glances."
Thus unconsciously showing her state of mind. It is
dif. ferent wish that a good friend, let alone' a good angel, would proffer to the Prince of Wales at this moment. Shame indeed will it be for him if he does wish to stand in the sun, while the millions that he ought to spend all his blood to benefit are shivering in the cold and dark. The position of the heirs of fortune in that country, under present circumstances, is one of dread, which to a noble soul would bring almost the anguish of crucifixion. How can they enjoy one moment in peace the benefit of their possessions ? And how can they give them up, and be sure it will be any benefit to others ? The causes of ill seem so deeply rooted in the public economy of England, that, if all her rich men were to sell all they have and give to the poor, it would yield but a temporary relief. Yea! all those heaped-up gems, the Court array of England's beauty ; the immense treasures of art, enough to arouse old Greece from her grave; the stately parks, full of dewy glades and bosky dells, haunted by the stately deer and still more thickly by exquisite memories ; the enormous wealth of episcopal palaces, might all be given up for the good of the people at large, and not relieve their sufferings ten years. It is not merely that sense of right usually dignified by the name of generosity that is wanted, but wisdom—a deeper wisdom by far as to the conduct of national affairs than the world has ever yet known. It is not enough now for prince or noble to be awakened to good dispositions. Let him not hope at once to be able to do good with the best dispositions; things have got too far from health and simplicity for that; the return must be tedious, and whoever sets out on that path must resign himself to be a patient student with a painfully studying world for his companion. In work he can for a long time hope no shining results; he miners dig in the dark as yet for the ransom of the suffering million.
Hard is the problem for the whole civilized world at present, hard for bankrupt Europe, hard for endangered America. We say bankrupt Europe, for surely nations are so who have not known how to secure peace, education, or even bodily sustı nance for the people at large. The lightest lore of fairy tale is wise enough to show that such nations must be considered bankrupt, notwithstanding the accumulation of wealth, the development of resources, the prodigies of genius and science they have to boast. Some successes have been achieved, but at what a price of blood and tears, of error and of crime !
And, in this hard school-time, hardest must be the lot of him who has outward advantages above the rest, and yet is at all awakened to the wants of all. Has he mind ? how shall he learn ? time-how employ it? means—where apply them? The poor little “ trapper,” kept in the dark at his automaton task twelve hours a day, has an easy and happy life before him, compared with the prince on the throne, if that prince possesses a conscience that can be roused, a mind that can be developed.
The position of such a prince is indicated in the following extract which we take from the Schnellpost. Laube says in his late work, called “ Three royal cities of the North,” “ King Oscar still lives in the second story of the castle at Stockholm, where he lived when he was crowned prince. He was out, and his dressing gown thrown upon an elbow chair before the writing table: all was open, showing how he was occupied. I found among the books, that seemed in present use, many in German, among them the “ Staats Lexicon,” “ Julius upon Prisons,” “ Rotteck's History of the World.” It is well known that King Oscar is especially interested in studies for the advantage of the nost unhappy classes of citizens, the poor and the prisoners, and has, himself, written upon the subject. His apartraent shows domestic habits like those of a writer. No fine library full of books left to accumulate dust, but what he wants, chosen with judgment, ready for use around him. A hundred little things showed what should be the modern kingly character, at home in the intellectual life of our time, earnest for a general culture. Every thing in his simple arrangements showed the manly democratic prince. He is up, early and late, attending with zealous conscientiousness to the duties of his office.”
Such a life should England's prince live, and then he would be only one of the many virtuous seekers, with a better chance to try experiments. The genius of the time is working through myriad organs, speaking through myriad mouths, but condescends chiefly to men of low estate. She is spelling a new and sublime spell ; its first word we know is brotherhood, but that must be well pronounced and learnt by heart before we shall hear another so clearly. One thing is obvious, we must cease to worship princes even in genius. The greatest geniuses will in this day rank themselves as the chief servants only. It is not even the most exquisite, the highest, but rather the largest and deepest experience that can serve
The Prince of Wales, like his poetess, will not be so able a servant on account of the privileges she so gracefully enumerates and cannot persuade herself are not blessings. But they will keep him, as they have kept her, farther from the truth and knowledge wanted than he would have been in a less sheltered position.
Yet we sympathize with Mrs. Norton in her appeal. Every boy should be a young prince; since it is not so, in the present distorted state of society, it is natural to select some one cherished object as the heir to our hopes. Children become the angels of a better future to all who attain middle age without losing from the breast that chief jewel, the idea of what man and life should be. They must do what we hoped to do, but find time, strength,