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which was mentioned as the dividing line between the counties of Renfrew and Lanark; the mansion-house being in Renfrew, and the lodge in Lanark. Mr. S. is a gentleman of great wealth, which he is reported to employ as a good almoner. He is held in higte estimation, and is distinguished for his courteousness as well as philanthropy. Mrs. S. is a lady of a pleasing appearance, a finely cultivated mind, and an engaging frankness of manners. She is sister to Mrs. B., the initial of whose name has already occurred. 'These two ladies, independently of other attractions, have a peculiar interest attached to them from the circumstance of their early and intimate connexion with the lady whose. Letters from the Mountains' have circulated extensively on either side of the Atlantic, and gained for the author a distinguished reputation. The first in that series is addressed to Mrs. S., under her former name of E****; and many of the most beautiful which follow in the collection are returns for others sent, either from herself or Mrs. B. The Letters' themselves have obtained general suffrage as models, in their kind, of epistolary composition: and, notwithstanding the sneering opinion long since advanced by Pope, incontestably evince that the human heart is capable of unveiling to the inspection of a friend its inmost recesses, through the medium of written correspondence. The poet, it is well known, notwithstanding his intimate converse with men and manners, and his fancied thorough knowledge of the bias of motives and the workings of feeling, laboured through life under inveterate prejudices in regard to his fellow men, and from a certain suspiciousness inseparable from his constitution, was accustomed to contemplate human nature with a malignant and jaundiced eye. Well versed in the arts of deception, and sensible of the sophistry which he often practised upon himself, and still oftener upon others, he consider. ed all mankind as being more or less adepts like himself in this science of petty self-knavery, and supposed them, even at those moments when they might be expected to impart an unreserved confidence, rather seeking disguises by which to cloak their real sentiments, or escape direct avowals of them. In his estimate of character, Pope was too apt to follow the maxim of the Roman satyrist, “Homo sum, et nihil humanum a me alienum puto;' and it would have been well if the mistake adverted to had been the only error of judgment into which he was drawn by his servile adoption of that illiberal sentiment. The many letters which he received from Swift alone, are an ample refutation of his assertion that an epistolary correspondence is an unsafe conductor of real and unsophisticated thought and feeling. To these might be added others from Atterbury and Arbuthnot; whereas Pope's in reply abound, too often, in pointed conceits and studied elegances. They want that easy flexibility indispensable to the perfection of this species of composition, and seem rather copies of the formal and stately epistles of Voiture, thai: genuine and undisguised etfusions of the breast. If art of any kind be requisite in letter-writ
ing, it is the ars celandi, the art of concealing its application, By a neglect of this, the letters of Pope are any thing but what they should be;—as Essays, they may be considered pleasing and beautiful, but as communications of friendship, they are a medley of dissimulation and pedantry. But to return from this digression to the lady whose • Letters' gave rise unconsciously to these remarks. We perceive in her correspondence no disguise; her expressions of feeling seem what they are, the breathings of an exuberant but delicate sensibility. We feel that we are treated with a degree of respect; that we are admitted to some share of personal and equal converse; and that we are considered, if not full grown, as at least to have passed that term of pupilage when the rattle is supposed to charm, and the sweet-meat frostings of a sickening sentiment to please. They admit us to an intimate cominunion with the writer's own vigorous and prolific mind, and whether they detail to us descriptions of scenery, delineations of character, or narrations of fact, we are conscious of perusing the remarks of one who knew well how to blend with the genuine impressions of a discriminating judgment, and the associated suggestions of memory, the elegant embellishments of a vivid but chastised imagination. There is, it is true, a certain romantic interest connected with the scenes and characters which the writer describes, but this results not from any apparent overcolouring on her part, but from the knowledge which we insensibly gain of the numerous incidents of her chequered and eventful life. We have no apprehensions lest the friends whom she introduces to us should be found, on a nearer approach, to owe much of their recommendation to the amiable but mistaken partialities of friendship. We receive them as she presents them to us, without any internal misgivings; and are convinced that the individuals whom she selected as the associates of her earlier years, and who have proved in later life her faithful bosom repositories, are entitled to all estimation and regard. I have been led, unintentionally, into a lengthened train of comment, when my object on commencing the paragraph, was simply to sketch the few incidents of the afternoon's excursion, I will therefore only add, that, though of Mrs. S. I cannot be supposed personally to know much, or of Mrs. B. much more, yet that much has no ways disappointed the opinion I had formed of the many excellencies in the characters of either, through the pleasing and interesting intimations of Mrs. Grant of Laggan.
At the dinner table of Jordan Hill, much was asked and said concerning America. I could not but be gratified on hearing many high encomiums passed upon my country, and particularly upon the character of the New Englanders. Such favourable declarations art ever grateful to the foreigner, and he would fain receive them with emotions wholly abstracted from every local and transient attachment.
After dining, and previously to repairing to the drawing-room, I was conducted over the grounds." I found them laid out with
much taste, and diversified with several beautiful groupings and plantations of wood. They yield two or three very good points of view, from which may be discerned Dumbarton castle, the mouldering walls of Crookstone, the distant turrets of Both well, and the busy town of Paisley; which last, however, is chiefly determined by its smoke. The Campsie Hills, or rather Fells, as they are termed, are prominent objects in the scene.
At 9, we left the hospitable mansion of Jordan Hill, and returned to Glasgow. A threatening shower afforded a motive for testing the speed of our horses; but another, and a more powerful
my friend and myself, was an engagement to meet at supper, a family which had paid us repeated civilities, and of which we were to take leave previously to our final departure from the city on the following morning. Two of the family we had known in Edinburgh, and were happy in reviving the acquaintance on our visit here. The evening was enlivened with excellent music. The elder of the young ladies, a very skilful performer, touched the keys of the piano with uncommon taste and execution, and accompanied some of the finest of the Scotish songs with her rich and melodious voice. Nor were our country's airs forgotten. Washington's March and Yankee Doodle were played; and it need not be said that they lost nothing in our associations, by being struck by the graceful hand of one of Caledonia's blooming and blushing fair. As my friend was taking a final leave of this country, and my own arrangements required my returning to Scotland, much was kindly said to me by this excellent family, to induce a promise that I would either join them in a contemplated journey to inverary and the West Highlands, after a few weeks, or visit them in a country retirement in Lanark sometime in the summer. . You will do so,' said one on our taking leave; . You must,' said another;— Heaven willing,' replied I, but I left them with the painful impression that we were never more to meet.
(To be continued.)
Art. IX.-Peter Bell: a Tale in Verse. By Wm. Wordsworth.
London, 1819. pp. 88.
(From the Journal of Belles Lettres. } THERE are, it is said, a considerable number of persons who
not only admire the style of those who have been called the Lake school of poets, but who uphold their productions as the only true and genuine poetry extant. It seems impossible that any thing backed by such a number of opinions should be utterly worthless; but, with every disposition to defer to the judgment of others, we are sorry to say that we can by no means become converts to this way of thinking. Unfortunately, Peter Bell seems to us to possess more of the deformities and fewer of the beauties which are occasionally scattered over the author's productions than many of his former publications; insomuch that all our unfavourable impres
sions are strengthened and confirmed, and all our wishes to be pleased most unpleasantly baffled. This may arise, perhaps, from the poem being an early effort; for the dedication (to Mr. Southey) informs us that it' first saw the light in 1798, though pains have since been bestowed to fit it for filling permanently a station, however humble, in the literature of the country.' Mr. Wordsworth adds that such has been the aim of all his endeavours in poetry, which have been sufficiently laborious to prove that he deems the art not lightly to be approached. In the present instance, as in former instances, this labour appears to be ill bestowed. One man polishes diamonds and produces gems fit for a monarch's crown; another polishes muscle shells, and the utmost attainment of his art is a toy for children.
Peter Bell is a strange story, written to show that supernatural agency may be dispensed with, and yet the imaginative faculty
be called forth as imperiously, and for kindred results of pleasure, by incidents, within the compass of poetic probability, in the humblest departments of daily life. The frame-work for this demonstration is not unworthy of the proposition. The hero, a low and abandoned vagrant (whose character our extracts will develop more particularly) roaming at night for pleasure or for plunder, finds a lean ass on the bank of a river, which he determines to steal. *Your dull ass,' however, 'never mends his pace with beating,' and this ass will not stir at all, but bends ruefully over the water. In the water is the drowned body of its master, which it has watched, without tasting food, for four days and nights. The appa. rition of this corse terrifies the marauder; he drags it out, and mounts the ass in search of the friends of the deceased, whom the animal now willingly trudges along to find. On their road Peter is appalled by loud shrieks in a wood, proceeding from the dead man's son; by some drops of blood upon the road proceeding from the ass's head, which he had broken; by some subterranean noises proceeding from a corps of miners; and by some earthly noises proceeding from a public house, which the conscience stricken rider now avoids with horror. The ass finally turns up a lane where the widow of its drowned owner resides; the catastrophe is unfolded; the body buried; and Peter Bell
Forsook his crimes, repressed his folly,
Became a good and honest man. How he manages this with twelve wives, for such is the number assigned to him by the author, we are not informed: as they had all equal claims upon him, it may be supposed that he lived in a goodly and honest manner with them all, voluntarily inflicting upon himself the Hungarian punishment for polygamy.
To this story, far too mean, as we think, for dignity, and far too insignificant for an interest and pathos to be sustained through three long parts, is prefixed a rhapsody under the tile of Prologue, beginning thus:
There's something in a flying borse,
Look up—and you shall see me soon! This seems to be a plagiarism from the equally well-painted piece of imagination
There was an old woman went up in a blanket
Twenty times as high as the moon,
But in her hand she carried a broom. Only this old woman had an object; while Mr. Wordsworth has none, and if he were addressed in the same style he could not give so satisfactory an answer:
Old woman, old woman, old woman, quoth I,
Where are you going, you're flying so high;
And you may follow me if you can fly? We must follow the author, whose prologue thus proceeds, after noticing his friends' affright at his skiff and him:
Meanwhile I from the helm admire
The pointed horns of my canoe; Quære-how can a helsman şit in a boat so as to see both stem and stern at once? Perhaps just in the same way as he dives upward in the ensuing verse:
Away we go, my boat and I-
Among the scattered stars. This calm was striving among the winds' only four lines before:
Up goes my boat between the [two) stars
Through many a breathless field of light: Though we never saw a breathing field, this is evidently no place for us to take breath in, so we run on through all the signs of the Zodiac, and over all the planets, still casting a glance however to the earth, where, in metre truly doggrel,
Yon tawny slip is Libya's sands-