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'In dust the sacred statue slept' is objectionable from its obscurity. It cannot without violence be applied to Learning,' which is personified as a living being in the preceding line, as are Wisdom and Science in the two lines immediately following. The closing lines more than redeem this slight error. Learning retreating into the Monasteries, is finely expressed by Wisdom cowled his head." The poet next describes Apollo as descending upon the shores of the Avon;
There, on its bank, beneath the Mulberry's shade,
Wrapped in young dreams, a wild-eyed minstrel strayed,
Thou didst teach the bard his song;
And bade him wake and warm the world.
The verse which paints the charms of a romantic solitude,
Where beauty's child, the frowning world forgot,
To youth's devoted tale is listening,
Rapture on her dark lash glistening,
While fairies leave their cowslip cells and guard the happy spot,
presents one of the most pleasing and artless pictures in the whole Ode.
The purturbed slumbers of Richard the Third are filled with poetical and sombre images.
Mark the sceptred traitor slumbering!
There flit the slaves of conscience round,
For him the living furies burn;
For him the vulture sits on yonder misty peak,
And chides the lagging night, and whets her hungry beak. The prophetic truth of the vision is finely expressed by the line
'Soon that dream to fate shall turn.'
The remainder of the stanza is too much crowded with unwieldy epithets and useless allegory. The God of slaughter guides his reeking axle over spouting trunks ;' the 'panting tyrant scours the field, until he is met by vengeance with his dooming blade.' &c. The concluding verse,
And Hate's last lightning quivers from his eyes, is nervous but not natural.
In the following stanza, which describes Lear exposed to the fury of the night storm, we have an affecting picture of him mourning over the dead body of Cordelia.
Yet one was ever kind,
Why lingers she behind?
O pity!-view him by her dead form kneeling,
His aching eyeballs strain
To see those curtained orbs unfold,
That beauteous bosom heave again,—
But all is dark and cold.
The fourth line,' even in wild frenzy' &c, has the same beautiful idea, though not so obviously expressed, with one in a former poem of Mr Sprague, which obtained the prize at Philadelphia. Speaking of a love crazed maiden he there says,
Round some cold grave she comes sweet flowers to strew,
And lost to reason, still to love is true.
At the conclusion of his verses upon Lear, the poet breaks off into a bold apostrophe to his own Muse.
Down trembling wing-shall insect weakness keep
The principal defect in the poem is a want of perfect ease and simplicity. A rich and warm fancy is felt throughout the whole of it, but instead of richness we sometimes find an accumulation of cumbrous epithets; and its energy appears sometimes to be owing to unnatural effort. Although this straining may add something to the force of the expression, it is apt to diminish its grace and natural beauty.
We have perhaps been hypercritical in some of these comments. We should not have been so, had the general merits of the Ode been less. It has found great favor with the public, to which it is justly entitled by its lyrical animation, its elevated conceptions, and the warm coloring given to them by an active poetical fancy. We trust Mr Sprague's muse will not require in future the stimulus of theatrical competition to bring her before the public. A writer, who, like him, has it in his power to raise our poetry to a higher character, we should hope would feel himself under strong obligations not to suffer his talents to lie unemployed, or become lost to the literature of his country.
The poem immediately following Mr Sprague's in this selection has many passages of dignified and quiet beauty. Shakspeare opening the scene with the magic wand of Prospero is a conception the more happy, as the Tempest was probably the first play in which he displayed his dramatic talent.
But none had won the high award.
Then rose in might old Avon's bard.
Glancing his heavenward eye, he waved his hand,
The secret forms that unknown worlds concealed,
The fairy ring, the witches cave,
Or lie within the cowslip's bell,
In clear and bodily shape, salute the astonished sight.
With Shakspeare's name,
And on his brow descends the wreath of living flame.
The pictures of Ophelia and of Cordelia are full of natural pathos.
But when the Bard of Avon touched the string,
And nothing, save one deep and general sigh,
Calmed down the heaving tumult of the breast.
We have not room for farther extracts. The remaining pieces possess very different degrees of merit. Some of them afford glimpses of a just poetical feeling, while others seem to have been written without the aid, and sometimes we should fear without the entire approbation of the muse.
2.-Arguments against the Justice and Policy of Taxing the Capital Stock of Banks and Insurance Companies in the State of New York. 8vo. pp. 34. New York. 1824.
Whoever would see the arguments against the justice and policy of taxing moneyed institutions briefly and forcibly stated, will find it done with much ingenuity and ability in this pamphlet. The author arranges his arguments with method and clearness, and reasons well from his own principles. In some of the more important of these, however, we do not agree with him. He makes actual property, as lands, houses, merchandise, the only basis of taxation; and hence he infers, that paper capital, being no more than the representative of these, or, as he calls it, the mere sign of credit, ought not to be taxed. That is, no man ought at the same time to be taxed for actual property, and the representative of
that property, or the credit which rests on it. This is said to be double taxation, equally unjust and impolitic.
But however this principle may apply in any particular case, we think it can by no means be considered general and fundamental. Why does a legislature claim the right of taxing any kind of property? Is it not because it protects such property in the hands of the owner, and ensures him facilities of employing it to advantage? Now if this same legislature grants him other privileges by which he may be equally benefited, why should he not pay an equal tax on these privileges? In other words, why is not credit, as such, a proper subject of taxation, when this credit has been created and is sustained by the legislature which imposes the tax? If a company of individuals may establish a bank by legislative grant, and thereby have the means of raising their credit and of making a profit, which they could not before make by any private disposition of their property, why should they not pay a tax on this credit? There may be cases in which it would be inexpedient to levy such a tax, but we can see no injustice in it. As far as we can discern, it is strictly just for a legislature to tax any species of property, whether real or nominal, lands, stocks, or credit, whenever the current value of these kinds of property is founded on privileges granted and protected by the same legislature, or whenever the possessors derive a profit, which they could not have derived except by these privileges. As banks, and other moneyed institutions chartered by legislatures, are to be ranked under these conditions, we see no reason, either in right or justice, why they should not be taxed. Policy and expediency may doubtless sometimes render such a measure unwise, but this point we are not about to discuss.
It is not a legitimate inference to say, as has been intimated, that this principle would allow a legislature to tax credits of every description existing in the common intercourse of society. It is true, that all credit is remotely founded on the confidence, which one man puts in another by reason of the security given by the laws to property, and of the validity of contracts which they establish. But the difference between this kind of credit, and that created by privileged institutions, is so strongly marked as to make it impossible that they should ever be confounded. The former is a credit, which every citizen is equally aided by the laws in acquiring, whereas the latter depends entirely on special grants of the legislature in favor of particular individuals; and on this ground alone, they may properly be taxed for their exclusive advantages.
We have only to add, that we do not perceive much weight in the argument drawn from an imaginary legislative power over a man's profession and pursuits. It is said, that a man's intellect VOL. XIX.-NO. 44.
might as well be taxed, as his credit. So it might, if the legislature could supply one as easily as the other. Here is the difference, and it is enough to show, that there is no parallel in the examples. If a man could become wise, learned, and skilful, by legislative acts, and should thereby have it in his power to gain more than his fellow citizens, who had not been thus favored, he might with great propriety be taxed in exact proportion to the wisdom, learning, and skill thus obtained by legislative charter. Till such an instance occur, the argument will be without premises and without point.
3.-Elements of Geography, Ancient and Modern; with an Atlas. By J. E. WORCESTER, A. M. Stereotype Edition. Boston. Cummings, Hilliard & Co. 1824.
Sketches of the Earth and its Inhabitants; with one Hundred Engravings. By J. E. WORCester. 2 vols. 12mo. Cum
mings, Hilliard & Co. 1823.
THESE works are already so extensively known, and so generally used, that our testimony to the fidelity and industry with which they are executed can be of but little importance. It is known, that Mr Worcester has long devoted himself to geographical pursuits, and he has obtained of the public such success, as his diligence and accuracy have merited. Perhaps there are no subjects on which it is so difficult to avoid occasional inaccuracies, as those connected with political geography. In many countries there are no means of collecting information on statistics; in others all knowledge of this kind is carefully retained by the governments. Besides this, the compiler must depend on the reports of others. Though he may not himself be credulous, his judgment may often be led to adopt opinions, to which the credulity of the travellers, on whom he relies, may have given currency.
The study of geography is an important branch of education. It enlarges the understanding, and gives it a wider range. While historical pursuits teach the mind to go back into distant ages, and thus prevent it from being contracted and limited by the present moment, the study of the earth and its inhabitants raises it above the equally narrow limits of place, and opens sources of various and improving observations on the different aspects of nature and of man. Whether we consider this study, as having for its object a knowledge of the world in its present condition, or to lay the foundation for the pursuits of history, it is desirable at first to direct the mind of the learner to physical geography. The great features of Nature must be distinctly observed; and by these we