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These lines recall to us a couplet in the "Wanderer of Switzerland," which we remember reading in our youth. There the Alps are addressed as
"Nature's bulwarks, built by Time
'Gainst Eternity to stand!!!"
The reader may take his choice between these " enormous masses of sublimity," though if he agree with us he will reject them both as puerile bombast. Again, "the youthful billows pant"-"the cloud-battalions march."* Death is described, (p. 86) as "dragging the world into eternity," while "ages on ages" are attempting in vain to "grapple" him, which is a contest of rather a singular kind. The Deity "speaks in the storm and travels on the winds." And his picture of the Day of Judgment, which is the end or epilogue of the whole poem, terminates thus
"The curs'd, with hell uncovered to their eye,
Shriek-shriek, and vanish in a whirlwind cry!
Creation shudders with sublime dismay,
And in a blazing tempest whirls away!"
We do not mean to say that a few such blemishes are to be dwelt upon with much emphasis in a fine poem; but we quote these passages for the purpose of exemplifying the faults to which Mr. Montgomery is most prone. There is, indeed, another still more insufferable and fatal-the mediocrity of its beauties, which we lament to say is more observable than might be wished.
After all, there is much to be pleased with in this little volume, and it is no small matter to clothe in the charms of elegant diction and poetical fancy, those subjects about which the thoughts and sensibilities of civilized and christian men ought to be most constantly engaged. Mr. Montgomery has succeeded in doing this. There is a sweet tone of benevolence and piety that pervades the whole work, and it will be scarcely possible to read it through without feeling these good dispositions confirmed in our bosoms.
We proceed to lay some extracts before our readers. The Poem opens with a description of the Creation, in which there are some passages of very great beauty:
"Primeval Power! before Thy thunder rang, And Nature from Eternity outsprang!
Virgil has ventorum prælia, and Milton speaks sublimely of “two black clouds, with heaven's artillery fraught, &c." but every thing depends upon the connexion and the manner, and Mr. M's line appears to us turgid and strained.
Ere matter form'd at thy creative tone,
Thou wert; Almighty, Endless, and alone;
In thine own essence, all that was to be,-
Sublime, unfathomable Deity;
Thou said'st-and lo! a Universe was born,
And light flash'd from Thee for her birth-day morn!
The Earth unshrouded all her beauty now;
The mountain monarch bared his awful brow,
Flowers, fruits, and trees felt instantaneous life;
But, hark! Creation trembles with the strife
Of roaring waves in wild commotion hurl'd.—
'Tis Ocean winding round the rocking world!
And next, triumphant o'er the green-clad Earth,
The universal Sun burst into birth,
And dash'd from off his altitude sublime
The first dread ray that mark'd commencing Time!
Last came the moon upon the wings of light,
And sat in glory on the throne of Night,
While, fierce and fresh, a radient host of stars
Wheel'd round the heavens upon their burning cars!
But all was dismal as a world of dead,
Till the great Deep her living swarms outspread :
Forth from her teeming bosom, sudden came
Immingled monsters,-mighty, without name;
Then plumy tribes wing'd into being there,
And play'd their gleamy pinions on the air,
Till thick as dews upon a twilight green,
Earth's living creatures rose upon the scene!
Creation's master-piece! a breath of God,
Ray of His glory, quickened at His nod,
Immortal Man came next, divinely grand,
Glorious and perfect from his Maker's hand;
Last, softly beautiful as music's close,
Angelic Woman into being rose.
Universe was rife,
Full, fair, and glowing with created life;
And when the Eternal, from his starry height,
Beheld the young world basking in his light,
And breathing incense of deep gratitude,
He bless'd it,-for his mercy made it good!
And thus, THOU wert, and art, the Fountain Soul,
And countless worlds around Thee live and roll;
In sun and shade, in ocean and in air,
Diffused, yet undiminished-everywhere:
All life and motion from Thy source began,
From worlds to atoms, angels down to man.
Lord of all being! where can Fancy fly,
To what far realms, unmeasured by Thine eye?
Where can we hide beneath Thy blazing sun,
Where dwell'st THOU not, the boundless, viewless One?
Shall Guilt couch down within the cavern's gloom,
And quivering, groaning, meditate her doom?
Or scale the mountains, where the whirlwinds rest,
And in the night-blast cool her fiery breast?
In vain, in vain, may guilt-stung Fancy fly,
Creation's mirror'd on Thy sleepless eye;
Within the cavern-gloom, Thine eye can see,
The sky-clad mountains lift their heads to Thee!
Thy Spirit rides upon the thunder-storms,
Dark'ning the skies into terrific forms!
Beams in the lightning, rocks upon the seas,
Roars in the blast, and whispers in the breeze;
In calm and storm, in Heaven and Earth Thou art,
Trace but Thy works-they bring Thee to the heart!
The fulness of Thy Presence who can see?
Mau cannot live, great God! and look on Thee;
Around thy forin eternal lightnings glow,-
Thy voice appals the shuddering world below.
Oh! Egypt felt Thee when, by signs unscared,
To mock Thy might, the rebel monarch dared;
Thou look'dst-and Ocean sever'd at the glance!
Undaunted, still the charioteers advance;
Thou look'dst again-she clash'd her howling waves,
And gorg'd the tyrants in unfathon'd graves!
On Sinai's mountain, when thy glory came
In rolls of thunder, and in clouds of flame;
There, while volcanic smoke Thy throne o'ercast,
And the mount shrunk beneath the trumpet-blast,
How did Thy Presence smite all Israel's eye!
How dreadful were the gleams of Deity!
There is a voiceless eloquence on Earth,
Telling of Him who gave her wonders birth;
And long may I remain the adoring child
Of nature's majesty, sublime or wild;
Hill, flood, and forest, mountain, rock, and sea,
All take their terrors and their charms from Thee,
From Thee, whose hidden but supreme controul
Moves through the world, a universal soul." pp. 18-23.
Scarcely inferior is the following description of the Seasons:
"When Day hath roll'd into his rosy bower, And Twilight comes-the Poet's pensive hour;
When dream-like murmurs from the mazy wind
Romantic glide into his gentle mind;
Then Nature's beauty, cloth'd with dewy light,
Melts on the heart, like music through the Night.
And, not in vain, voluptuous Eventide,
Thy dappled clouds along th' horizon glide,
For, oh! while heaven and earth grow dumb with bliss,
In homage to an hour divine as this,
How sweet, upon yon mountain's azure brow,
While ruddy sun-beams gild the crags below,
To stand, and mark, with meditative view,
Where the far ocean faints in hazy blue,
While on the bosom of the midway deep
The emerald waves in flashing dimples leap;
Here, as we view the burning god of time,
Wrapp'd in a shroud of glory, sink sublime,
Thoughts of immortal beauty spring to birth,
And woft the soul beyond the dreams of earth.
And who hath gazed upon the bright-wing'd Morn,
Breezy and fresh, from out the ocean born;
Her rich-wove cloud-wreath's, and the rainbow hues
From heaven reflected on Creation's views;
Or mark'd the wonders of a day depart,
Nor felt a heaven-caught influence at his heart?
Through all the seasons' varying course of love,
Who hath not traced the Spirit from above?
The howl of winter in the leafless wood,
The sleepy snow-storm, and the whelming flood,
Or Summer's flush, or Autumn, robed in grey,
Whirling the red leaves round her bleak-worn way,
All tell one tale of Heaven. But thou, young Spring,
Glad as the wild bee on his glossy wing,
Bedeck'd with bloom, and breathing life around,
Within thy bosom, charms supreme abound." pp. 29–31.
There is something as soft and sweet as the moonlight of our own southern sky in the following picture of it, which recalled to us Pope's gorgeous translation of the lines in the oth Iliad on the same subject:
"And when, oblivious of the world, we stray
At dead of night along some noiseless way,
How the heart mingles with the moon-lit hour,
As if the starry heavens suffused a power!
See! not a cloud careers yon pensive sweep,
A waveless sea of azure, still as sleep;
Full in her dreamy light, the Moon presides,
Shrin'd in a halo, mellowing as she rides;
And far around, the forest and the stream
Bathe in the beauty of her emerald beam:
The lull'd winds, too, are sleeping in their caves,
No stormy murmurs roll upon the waves;
Nature is hush'd, as if her works adored,
Still'd by the presence of her living Lord!
And now, while through the ocean-mantling haze
A dizzy chain of yellow lustre plays,
And moonlight loveliness hath veil'd the land,
Go, stranger, muse thou by the wave-worn strand :
Cent'ries have glided o'er the balanc'd earth,
Myriads have bless'd, and myriads cursed their birth;
Still, yon sky-beacons keep a dimless glare,
Unsullied as the God who thron'd them there!
Though swelling earthquakes heave the astounded world,
And king and kingdom from their pride are hurl'd,
Sublimely calm, they run their bright career,
Unheedful of the storms and changes here.
We want no hymn to hear, or pomp to see,
For all around is deep divinity!
The soul aspiring pants its source to mount,
As streams meander level with their fount;
While other years unroll their cloudy tide,
And with them all the bliss they once supplied!
Oh! if belov'd ones, from their viewless sphere,
May witness warm Affection's faithful tear,
At this deep hour, they hear the mourner's sigh,
And waft a blessing from their homes on high!" pp. 37-39.
The second part of the Poem is not, by any means, equal to the first it sins more both by positive faults and by vapid mediocrity. We shall close our extracts, therefore, with the following picture of the Last Day.
Ages has awful Time been trav'lling on,
And all his children to one tomb have gone ;
The varied wonders of the peopled earth,
In equal turn, have gloried in their birth:
We live, and toil, we triumph, and decay,—
Thus age on age rolls unperceiv'd away;
And thus 'twill be, till heaven's last thunders roar,
And Time and Nature shall exist no more.
O! say, what Fancy, though endow'd sublime,.
Can picture truly that tremendous time,
When the last sun shall blaze upon the sea,
And Earth be dash'd into Eternity!
A cloudy mantle will enwrap that sun,
VOL. II. NO. 3.