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well as Bunyan's (as Macaulay has remarked), what purposes that simple speech can serve. Subtle distinctions it could not have conveyed; but Cobbett had none such to convey. Under certain grandeurs of thought, it might, like Charon's boat, have creaked and trembled; but Cobbett required it only to express clear, common sense logic, strong facts, and strong passions; to beat down his foes, and to cut his own way-and for such work it never failed him. Its general tone was that of a long rambling conversation; its principal design seemed to be to make every smallest shade of his meaning perfectly clear ; its windings and turnings so distinct and vivid in their variety, reminded you of the branching veins
with all the repetitions of a law-paper, it was as lively and interesting as a novel. You might grin over it, or guffaw over it, or frown at it, or fling it from you in a fit of fury; but it was impossible to sleep over it, or to yawn over it, or to refrain from thinking over it. While statesmen amused themselves with the “Register" (amusement reminding you of the games in Pandemonium !) at their breakfast-tables; while the press-gang," their lips the while smacking, and their eyes glistening with delight, proceeded to answer and abuse it, the country parson was reading it in his after-dinner easy-chair, the Paisley weaver had it lying on his loom, and the weary ploughman in his cottage kept himself awake with its quaint and rich humors. Since the works of Burns, no writings were so much appreciated by all ranks and conditions of men. And the reason of this was to be found in their corresponding qualities. Clearness; simplicity; picturesque description; racy, reckless humor; big-boned, brawny strength ; contempt of conventionalisms; rugged, self-trained reason—in one word, nature—were common to both. The “hairbrained sentimental trace," which was the peculiar poetic differentia of Burns, of course was wanting in Cobbett.
One curious but unquestionable cause of Cobbett's popularity we must also mention. It was his intense sympathy with that organ which those “masters of the mint," phrenologists, have, with their usual felicity of coinage, called
gustativeness." How he expands and rejoices in describing all sorts of savory food! The droppings of Hermon's dew or of Hybla's honey, are to him nothing compared to
the droppings from the sausage-pan or the roasting-jack of an English fireside! With what lively logic he undertakes the quarrel of “beer versus tea !" with what a deep bass he trolls out the old stave—“Oh, the roast beef of Old England !" how profound and edifying his contempt for swipes and potatoes ! how sublime he waxes over a sirloin ; how pathetic his reminiscences of the good old days, when “mutton, veal, and lamb were the food of the commoner sort of people !" what a whet his " Register" made before dinner ! and what a digestive after it! Here again he resembles Burnswho describes the homely food of Caledonia-her “souple scones”-her" curny ingans, mixed wi' spice," and the other ingredients of the haggis, “great chieftain o' the puddin' race”—not to speak of her tippenny and usqueba—with such infinite gusto; and Scott, whose books are the best appetizers in the world, and whose good digestion constituted, we venture to say, one-half of his physical, and one-fourth of his mental power.
In connection with this, we notice a vital defect in Cobbett's theory of man. He scarcely seems to have risen higher than the conception of him as an animal-a beefbolting and beer-bibbing animal. If government, and his own strong hand, found him in those articles, and if William Cobbett were permitted to supply him with amusement, besides a little instruction in grammar, in arithmetic, and in the evil effects of priestcraft and potatoes, of gin and tea, he might consider himself satisfied. And this was his theory of human life! this his recipe for human woes! this his mode of filling the infinite cravings of the human heart ! And yet, ere laughing at this “Gospel, according to St. Cobbett," and calling it a piggish panacea for a race of erect pigs, let us remember that the utilitarians of our own day do not rise much higher. They trace man's origin from the brutes; they, by implication, deny his natural superiority to the brutes; and, consequently, his natural immortality. Denying he was made in God's image, how can they conceive he is ever to reach it? They systeinatically overlook his relation to his Maker. They would cut-the puny insects !
--that awful tie which from the beginning has bound our race to the throne of the Eternal! They would, with insane but impotent hands, quench the only authentic fire of revela
tion which ever shone from heaven! They would arrest, if they could, the wheels of that coming One, before whose throne every knee shall bow, and whose authority every tongue shall confess! They would indeed clothe man with more accomplishments than Cobbett's rude nature recognized; they would teach man (on the brink of annihilation) to dance, and sing, and play, and recite verses, and babble of green fields, and chatter science, as well as to eat and to drink; but no more than he would they have him to expand in the prospect, and to shine in the radiance of the future destinies of his immortal being! In fact, we value Cobbett's theory as the reductio ad absurdum of the utilitarian view; and we fancy we hear the old sergeant growling out to those bastards of Bentham—“ If you believe that man is to perish to death, like a pig, why bother yourselves with teaching him languages, music, and science ? fill his belly, you fools, and send him to sleep."
But we must not part in bad humor with Cobbett, por with any body else. Pity, after all, is the most appropriate feeling to entertain towards those who judge so meanly of
And for Cobbett, especially, there are many grounds of excuse—from his early circumstances—from his want of a spiritual education—from the sight of human nature, in its worst forms, which he had in the army—and from the scrambling and precarious life he was compelled to lead afterwards.
Besides those separate works of his which are so well known, such as his “ Cottage Economy," " Legacy to Parsons," his “Life” of himself, and his “ English and French Grammars," &c., we should like to see some judicious hand employed in making selections from the " Register.” We despair, indeed, of ever finding the “ Beauties of Cobbett ” collected into such a nosegay as ladies would like to handle and to smell.
Indeed, the term “ Beauties of Cobbett ” would seem sufficiently affected and inappropriate. But some one, surely, might give us a collection of Cobbett's "good, strong, and true things.” Nay, let us have some of his shadows, as well as his lights; some of his racier and more characteristic faults, a prudent selection from his vocabulary of slang, some of his richer passages of egotism, a few of his predictions that have not, and others that have been
fulfilled—such a book, in short, as he himself would have acknowledged as a faithful likeness, and as should convey to posterity a just impression of a great English author.
JAMES MONTGOMERY. SOME seven or eight years ago, the inhabitants of a large city in the north of Scotland were apprised, by hand bills, that James Montgomery, Esq., of Sheffield, the poet, was to address a meeting on the subject of Moravian missions. This announcement, in the language of Dr. Caius,“ did bring de water into our mouth.” The thought of seeing a live poet, of European reputation, arriving at our very door, in a remote corner, was absolutely electrifying. We went early to the chapel where he was announced to speak, and ere the lion of the evening appeared, amused ourselves with watching and analyzing the audience which his celebrity had collected. It was not very numerous, and not very select. Few of the grandees of the city had condescended to honor him by their presence. Stranger still, there was but a sparse supply of clergy, or of the prominent religionists of the town. The church was chiefly filled with females of a certain age, one or two stray “ hero worshippers” like ourselves, a few young ladies who had read some of his minor poems, and whose eyes seemed lighted up with a gentle fire of pleasure in the prospect of seeing the author of those “beautiful verses on the Grave, and Prayer," and two or three who had come from ten miles off to see and hear the celebrated poet. When he at length appeared, we continued to marvel at the aspect of the platform. Instead of being supported by the élite of the city, instead of forming a rallying centre of attraction and unity to all who had a sympathy with piety or with genius for leagues round it, a few obscure individuals presented themselves, who seemed rather anxious to catch a little eclat from him, than to delight to do him honor. The evening was rather advanced ere he rose to speak. His appearance, as far as we could catch it, was quite in keeping with the spiritual cast of his poetry. He was tall, thin, bald,
with face of sharp outline, but mild expression; and we looked with no little reverence on the eye which had shot fire into the Pelican Island, and on the hand (skinny enough we ween), which had written “The Grave.” He spoke in a low voice, sinking occasionally into an inaudible whisper : but his action was fiery and his pantomime striking. In the course of his speech he alluded, with considerable effect, to the early heroic struggles of Moravianism, when she was yet alone in the death-grapple with the powers of Heathen darkness, and closed (when did he ever close a speech otherwise ?) by quoting a few vigorous verses from himself.
We left the meeting, we remember, with two wondering questions in our ears: first, Is this fame? of what value reputation, which, in a city of seventy thousand inhabitants, is so freezingly acknowledged ? Would not any empty, mouthing charlatan, any“ twopenny tear-mouth," any painted, stupid savage, any clever juggler, any dexterous player upon the fiery harp-strings of the popular påssions, have enjoyed a better reception than this true, tender, and holy poet? But secondly, Is not this true, tender, and holy poet partly himself to blame? Has he not put himself in a false position ? Has he not too readily lent himself as an instrument of popular excitement? Is this progress of his altogether a proper, a poet's progress? Would Milton, or Cowper, or Wordsworth, have submitted to it? And is it in good taste for him to eke out his orations by long extracts from his own poems? Homer, it is true, sang his own verses; but he did it for food. Montgomery recites them, but it is for fame.
We pass now gladly—as we did in thought then—from the progress to the poet-pilgrim himself.
We have long admired and loved James Montgomery, and we wept under his spell ere we did either the one or the other. We will not soon forget the Sabbath evening--it was in golden summer tide—when we first heard his “Grave” repeated, and wept as we heard it. It seemed to come, as it professed to come, from the
grave itself -a still small voice of comfort and of hope, even from that stern abyss. It was a fine and bold idea to turn the great enemy into a comforter, and elicit such a reply, so tender and submissive, to the challenge, “O Grave, where is thy victory ?" Triumphing in prospect