Imatges de pÓgina

and exhausting manner, to vast auditories, several times each day, a number of days successively, when bis debility was such that he could not, without much help, mount his horse to go to the appointed places. Indeed, it is perhaps only by taking into view the fact, that he was actually preserved from what appeared the probable consequences of some of his exertions, that we can excuse the force put on languishing nature in those exertions, -as in the following instance :

• After a tedious passage of eleven weeks, Mr. W. arrived at New York. Col. Pepperel went with some friends in his own boat to invite him to his house, but he declined the invitation, being so ill of a nervous cholic that he was obliged, immediately after his arrival, to go to bed. His friends expressed much anxiety on his behalf. An eminent physician attended him, who had been a deist, but was awakened the last time he was in New England. For some time he was indeed very weak; “ yet," he writes, “in these three weeks I was enabled to preach; but, imprudently going over the ferry to Portsmouth, I caught cold, immediately relapsed, and was taken, as every one thought, with death, in my dear friend Mr. Sherborne's house. What gave me most concern was, that notice had been given of my being to preach.

Whilst the doctor was preparing a medicine, feeling my pains abated, I on a sudden cried, • Doctor, my pains are suspended : by the help of God I will go and preach, and then come home and die.' In my own apprehension, and in all appearance to others, I was a dying man. I preached, the people heard me as such. The invisible rcalities of another world lay open to my view. Expecting to stretch into eternity, and to be with my master before the morning, I spoke with peculiar energy. Such effects followed the word, I thought it were worth dying for a thousand times. Though wonderfully comforted within, at my return home I thought I was dying indeed. I was laid on a bed upon the ground near the fire, and I heard my friends say, ' he is gone.' But God was pleased to order it otherwise. I gradually recovered; and soon after a poor negro woman would see me. She came, sat down upon the ground, and looked earnestly in my face, and then said, in broken language, Massa, you just go to heaven's gate. But Jesus Christ said, get you down, get you down, you must not come here yet; but go first and call some more poor negroes. I prayed to the Lord that if I was to live, this might be the event." ;

His mind held such a predominance over his body, and the passion for preaching, and the passions to which prcaching gave exercise, were so predominant in his mind, that the employment had on him the effect of a species of enchantment. When so oppressed with lassitude and indisposition, as to perform with uneasiness the most ordinary actions, if he could but sustain just exertion enough to enter on preaching, be quickly becaine even physically strong and animated. Standing in the pulpit, or any thing provided for the same use, had on him the saine effect that Antæus derived from being extended a moment on the ground. The languor, of course, returned on him with double oppressiveness after the conclusion; and the man wliose powers of voice and action had

p. 71.

appeared' to evince an extraordinary vigour of frame, would be found, half an hour afterwards, extended on two or three chairs, almost helpless and fainting. With all the advantage of such a power of voice, as perhaps no other man possessed, there must still often have been a necessity for forcing it to the last possibility of exertion, in order to his being heard by congregations, very frequently amounting to many thousands, to ten or twelve, and to some instances to twenty, or even more. It is said that the bulk of even these largest multitudes could hear him very distinctly.

It is remarkable in the course of this narrative, that the lower order of the people, even the then barbarian colliers of Kingswood, and the formidable rabble of Moorfields, and Kennington common, gained themselves a credit, far beyond many of their betters, for decorum, for candour, and even complaisance, towards Whitefield. Could the gentlemen officers, who laid and executed a plan of violent personal outrage against him, eren in his bed ai Plymouth, have fallen, flagrante delicto, into the hands of one of these rabbles, they would have been sure to have received such an exemplary castigation, for his sake, as would at least have left conspicuous marks upon them for life: but they were secure enough of impunity, so long as there was nothing to take account of them, but the police of the country.

It is also very striking to observe the indications of the state of the religious establishment at that time, in the rapidly extended, and soon almost general precaution, of shutting the churches against this orthodox, and devout, and most eloquent preacher. A man who resolutely would, in spite of the church, recollect its Articles, to which he had solemnly declared his assent, and pledged his adherence, and who would obstinately carry the spirit of the liturgy into the sermon,, was soon given to understand that a tombstone, a wall, a table, or even the tub of the conventicle, was good enough for him and his notions.

The speedy ruiu of the church was inevitable, if its ministers and people should be seduced from the systematic employment of exploding its foundation. For though envy and indignation at Whitefield's surpassing popularity, may well be supposed to have had a considerable share in the hostility against him, yet it is beyond all doubt, that it was his most zealous promulgation of the standard doctrines of the church, combined with the warning and alarming spirit of his ministrations, that chiefly rendered hiin so obnoxious to the main body of the ministers of that very church.

As the writer of these memoirs admits that this eminent man had his defects, they should have been freely and accurately particularized; and a large quantity of indifferent funeral


[ocr errors]

oratory, toiling through the common places of panegyric, might as well have been suffered to remain in the respective sermons in wbich it was originally displayed.

The most obvious fault, or weakness, perhaps, apparent in this exhibition of the character of the great and apostolic minister, was a certain degree of enthusiastic credulity, that was too niuch disposed to regard the whole of the effects temporavily produced by his ministry, as important and effectual operations of evangelical truth.

Had we not already occupied too much space, we should have been inclined to transcribe a minute and very interesting account of his last hours, written by a person who attended him. He preached on the Saturday, and died, of a fit of the asthma, early on the Sunday morning. Art. XII. Tales, by the Rev. George Crabbe. In two Volumes.

12mo. 2nd. edit. pp. 205. 235. Price 12s. Hatchard. 1812. WE have heard Mr. Crabbe called of the school of Pope

and Dryden. Mr. Crabbe, to be sure, writes in rhymed heroic couplets, and so did they ; Dryden was careless, and so is he; Pope bad humour, and so has be. But has he that pregnancy of imagination, and that uuselecting copiousness of resources, which always crowded the mind of Dryden with more matter than was wanting, more than could be reduced to proper sequency and order ? Has he that boundless command of diction, and that facility of versifying, which enabled Dryden to clothe and adorn his ideas, however untitted for poetry by their remoteness, in words that burn,' and numbers so musically full? Has he Dryden's metaphysical and argumentative turn of mind- bis love for subtle and scholastic disputation! Surely not. Has he, then, the trimness and terseness and classical elegance of Pope-his diligence and selection_his compression and condensation and energy-his light and playful fancies--or the naiveté and delicacy and cutting fineness of his satíre? In all these qualities we think Mr. Crbbe assuredly wanting.

Mr. Crabbe, in our opinion, is of his own school. And if originality, merely as originality, be merit, this merit, we are inclined to thiuk, bis volumes possess. The 'tales' are so much in the manner of his former poems, that we shall not be wandering far out of our way, if we give a page or two to the consideration of the characteristics of his poetry in general.

Mr. C.'s grand fault lies in the choice of his subjects. It has all along been avowedly his aim to paint life, or rather the most loathsome and paintul forms of life, in their true colours ; to speak the truth, and nothing but the truth:

I paint the cot
As truth will paint it, and as bards will not.' Village. B.


[ocr errors]

And truly there is something specious in the idea of rejecting all that imagination had added to nature, and substituting sober truth and sound good sense in the place of fictitious ornament, and pleasant lies.' But if the end of poetry be to relax and recreate the mind, it must be attained by drawing away the attentiop from the low pursuits and sordid cares, from the pains and sorrows of real life, at least whatever is vulgar and disgusting in them, to an imaginary state of greater beauty, purity, and blessedness. Undoubtedly, the poet must retain enough of this world, to cheat the mind into a belief of what he adds thereunto : the figures in the pictures of the Muse must appear to be real flesh and blood : we must be acquainted with their dress ; their features inust express passions that we have known; or we are not interested about them. But then the poet, will select what is most amiable in this world around 'him : what is displeasing and disgusting, he will keep back, or soften down, or disguise; and withal he will add 'fancies of bis own, that are in unison with realities; and thus the imagination of the reader will be for a while beguiled into Elysium, and receive unreproved pleasure in the contemplation of airy nothings.' To determine the relative quantities of truth and fiction to be employed, would require a poetical calculus of much greater delicacy than we are possest of: but we suspect that the general propension is in favour of fiction. How else can the Corydons and SETUPLEXOS of the Greek pastoral--the palaces and caverns and enchantments of eastern story--the knights and palfreys and distresses of the chivalrous romances--the pomp and delicacy and declamation of French tragedy or even the sensibility and kindliness of Mr. Wordsworth's leach-gatherers and ragamuffins,--how else can these get or keep possession of the mind?' The heroes of Homer and the epic muse, indeed, approximate somewhat more to workday men and women; they have the passions and feelings, and something of the manners of mortality. Yet even in the simple narrations of Homer how much is witheld that in reality offends ? huw much of strength and beauty and magnanimity is given to the admiration of the reader

But Mr. C. is all for naked andunornamented reality. Accordingly in his voluines is to be found whatever is uninteresting and unattractive-all the petty cares and trifling inconveniences that disquiet life-dirt, and drunkenness, and squabbling wives and ruined tradesmen. Ecce signum.

Tale 1. The dumb orators. Justice Holt, a man 'in contest mighty, and of conquest proud,' loves to harangue in clubs

and such like meetings, on the excellencies of existing forms. Having on a long journey travelld many a mile,' he attends a club-meeting in a 'city large and fair,' where, surrounded with democrats and reformation men, he is obliged to hear one Hammond hold forth against every thing he reverences, without daring to reply. He returns home. After a time Hammond happens to come to his city avd attend his club, and in like manner hears without answering. And this is all,

Tale 4. Procrastination. Rupert and Dinah are in love, but without wealth to wed. Rupert goes to seek wealth at a distance. Dinah remains with a rich aunt, who loves to console the love-lorn damsel by producing plate and jewels, and assuring her they will one day be hers. At length the aunt dies, and Dinab, in whom covetousness, or rather love of shew has conquered affection, takes possession. Rupert returns as poor as he went, and is treated by her with neglect.

We do not know that we have picked out the two most un. interesting of the tales. Lest the reader should think that the manner of telling makes up for the deficiency of matter, we must subjoin a quotation or two. We have but to open the book.

• When the sage Widow Dinah's grief descried,
She wonder'd much why one so happy sigh'd ;
Then bade her see how her poor Aunt sustain'd
The ills of life, nor murmur'd nor complain’d.
To vary pleasures, from the Lady's chest
Were drawn the pearly string and tabby-vest;
Beads, jewels, laces,--all their value shown,
With the kind notice. They wil be your own.'

• This hope, these comforts cherish'd day by day,
To Dinah's bosom made a gradual way;
Till love of treasure had as large a part,
As love of Rupert, in the Virgin's heart.
Whether it be that tender passions fail,
From their own nature, while the strong prevail ;
Or whether Av’rice, like the poison tree,
Kills all beside it, and alone will be ;
Whatever cause prevail'd, the pleasure grew
In Dinah's soul, she lov'd the hoards to view ;
With lively joy those comforts she survey'd,
And Love grew languid in the careful Maid."

Now the grave Niece partook the Widow's cares,
Look'd to the great, and ruld the small affairs ;
Saw clean’d the plate, arrang'd the china-show,
And felt her passion for a shilling grow;
Th'indulgent Aunt increas'd the Maid's delight,
By placing tokens of her wealth in sight ;
She lov'd the value of her bonds to tell,
And spake of stocks, and how they rose and fell.'

Procrastination, Vol. 1. pp. 72 73.

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinua »