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Bishop Lowth and George Gilfillan.


It must be granted that Mr. Gilfillan is a critic of a very different stamp to Lowth. His notion of poetry is so loose and general, that he seems to hold that whatever is good in literature is poetical. Thus with him all the Bible is true poetry, and one bard not essentially distinguished from another. We have poetry of the New Testament as well as of the Old; and it is with evident reluctance that our author excepts from the same category the argumentative writings of St. Paul. In all this Mr. Gilfillan gives evidence of much good feeling and many devout associations; but none of any peculiar fitness for the office whose functions he has assumed.

While the plan of this work is thus radically faulty, the style and spirit of its execution conspire to make it really dangerous. When he meets with a chapter inscribed "The Poetry of the Pentateuch," the phrase is sufficiently doubtful to make the reader pause, or hold himself ready for further intimations of the author's meaning. In what sense is the Pentateuch to be esteemed as so much poetry? Knowing Mr. Gilfillan's peculiar manner, we are able to acquit him of doubting the authenticity and truth of the Mosaic record; but the cursory reader of his volume may not be equally prepared. He finds a frequent transition from some highsounding praise of Hebrew King or Prophet to a modern and perhaps not much respected name. In point of taste, this is an obvious blemish, as nothing but disenchantment can result. These allusions are seldom warranted by any real propriety, and never sanctioned by any evident advantage; they are gratuitous solecisms in a work where a certain dignity of tone is demanded by the elevation of its theme. We could spare our author many of his grander flights, to escape the humiliation and danger of his sudden and perilous descents; for danger of a certain kind there is. The distinctive inspiration of the sacred bards is not, indeed, denied; but they are forced unceremoniously into profane company, and compared at random with modern and even living authors; till the reader is apt to suppose them all of one guild. It is of no use to assert a distinction in one place, and then lose sight of it in every other. Why should the names of Shelley and Coleridge and Byron,-of "Lalla Rookh" and Macaulay's "Lays," of "Macbeth," "Festus," and the "Pilgrim's Progress," so frequently appear on pages professedly devoted to the Bards of the Bible? Serving no purpose of useful illustration, their introduction is at best a grave impertinence and an ostentatious folly.

It is time to bring these strictures to a close; but it remains for us to notice, by anticipation, a remonstrance to which they may possibly expose ourselves. We have said much about our author's faults, but what of his real merits? Are they absolutely nil, or we so injurious as to suppress them? Let us own that

something might have been ingeniously arrayed upon the other side. A book may be positively worse than worthless, and yet not absolutely void of merit. As there is no popular fallacy which does not take rise from some partial or defective view of truth, so, perhaps, never was there a literary reputation earned without talent of some kind or other. This talent may be solitary, and so useless; perverted, and so mischievous; out of all proportion, a deformity, an excrescence; but something there will be to extenuate, if not to justify, the public folly. If a writer chance to be the reverse of fastidious, he may run on at almost any length upon any given subject. If he be, moreover, a person of vivid imagination, he can hardly fail to give off some striking things, struck out in the impetuosity of his headlong course. Mr. Gilfillan is an author of this kind. He has imagination, though it be not elevated or enlarged, not cultivated or enriched, not trained by intellectual habits, nor subordinated to the rule of judgment. It is a somewhat distempered imagination, too soon excited, and too far indulged. Our author's thoughts are therefore only fine by accident. His similes are generally audacious failures; but occasionally they are of striking excellence, and, like a fortunate rebellion, justify themselves by their success. When he says of John Sterling, "His mental struggles, though severe, were not of that earthquaking kind which shook the soul of Arnold, and drove Sartor howling through the Everlasting No, like a lion caught in a forest of fire;" there is a splendour about this final image which makes us wish it were not so awkwardly introduced. Still better, because not so encumbered, is his description of the policy and power of Russia, as "the silent conspiracy of ayes,-cold, vast, quietly progressive, as a glacier gathering round an Alpine valley." These images, we say, are fine; and they are so because of their striking aptitude and truth; and a few more of the same kind might, doubtless, be gathered from this author's publications. But to what good end? It is certainly not desirable to encourage the use of Mr. Gilfillan's pen on the wide, and high, and solemn, and important themes of which he is enamoured, for the sake of giving full scope to the indulgence of this gift of doubtful value; and to themes of humbler character and lesser moment he will hardly be persuaded. If any consideration could induce Mr. Gilfillan to forget, for some short time, the great men of the world, to leave the Mirabeaus and Miltons in their craggy heights; if he would lay aside all books, and watch the world of men and nature with calmer eyes, and never write a line suggested by one already written, we should yet have hopes of him. But we fear he is too far gone in his love of power to descend from his dictatorial eminence. We cannot flatter his pretensions to occupy the throne of universal criticism; and while he is making his pompous awards in every conceivable direction, we

The War with Russia.


point to the evidence just given as in very ridiculous contrast. He has in truth no single qualification for the office of a critic, either of sacred or profane literature, and, in assuming the one after the other, he has only added presumption to incompetence, and irreverence to presumption.

ART. VIII.-1. The Conduct of the War. A Speech in the House of Commons. By the RIGHT HONOURABLE SYDNEY HERBERT, M.P. 8vo. London: John Murray. 1855. 2. The Prospects of the War. A Speech in the House of Commons. By A. H. LAYARD, M.P. 8vo. 8vo. London: John Murray. 1855. 3. The War; Who's to Blame? Being a complete Analysis of the whole Diplomatic Correspondence regarding the Eastern Question, and showing from these and other Authentic Sources the Causes which have produced the present War. By JAMES MACQUEEN, ESQ., F.R.G.S., Author of "Geography of Africa," &c. London: Madden. 1854.

4. A Month before the Camp at Sebastopol. By a Non-Combatant. London: Longman and Co. 1855.

THE war in the East, in which we are now involved, opens a new epoch in our annals, as well as places us on new ground. It is the first time that England has drawn the sword against Russia; but it is not likely, now that the contest is begun, that it will be the last. Queen Elizabeth and Ivan the Terrible were friends, not to say allies; and the dreaded tyrant contemplated becoming a refugee in our country, in case his subjects, in revenge for his cruelties, drove him from the Muscovite soil. He, however, succeeded in taming their discontents by the atrocities he perpetrated; and England was not honoured-or disgraced-by the denizenship of the most fearful monster who ever dwelt in human form. From the age of Elizabeth to the present time, England and Russia have been friends; and the ties of this friendship have become closer, as time has advanced, cemented by events. But this union of the two nations never possessed any common identity, and had no foundation in national character; the institutions of the two countries were always dissimilar, and the elements at work were perfectly antagonistic. The one State has always been essentially a military State, and the other commercial: the one is despotic in its head, and enslaved in its members; the other, constitutional and free: the one has ever been Machiavellian, crafty, subtle, overreaching, and fraudulent in its policy; the other, often duped, but never attempting to deceive and entrap: the one has all along built her power on physical force; the other, on moral force: the one has constantly

sought, through her wide dominions and her conquered provinces, to crush civilization; the other, to assert its claims, and promote its interest: in fine, the one has, to the full extent of her means, universally striven to arrest the progress of the human race; the other, to advance it.

On these accounts it may, at first sight, appear marvellous that the contest has been so long delayed. But it has never been the policy of our statesmen to interfere in the internal affairs of other nations; so that, though the two systems were wide as the poles apart, yet amicable relations were possible, on the ground of mutual forbearance. These amicable relations are now severed. This places us on the new path above referred to; and is, no doubt, the beginning of a new period in our history. A wide and interminable series of political and military events will take their date from the moment when Her Gracious Majesty declared war against the Czar. It is the opening of a new page in the book of fate: it is letting loose the waters of a deluge, to overspread many lands, and extend through many ages: it is as the reconnaissance of the two nations on each other's frontier, prior to a long and desperate campaign. These auguries are based on the idea of the strength of each nation. When a feeble state is brought into collision with a powerful one, the contest will soon be over; but when the battle is betwixt belligerents of equal power, this cannot be the case. It is true, the strength of the two countries is different. Russia is strong by land, and we are strong by sea; we cannot drive Russia from her frozen regions and boundless steppes, and Russia cannot drive us from the ocean. Hence the contest may remain for ages undecided; for a peace can only be of the nature of a truce, of shorter or longer duration, to be followed by new and sanguinary wars, till, in the cycles of time and the destinies of nations, other elements spring up, and new combinations take place. But in the present attitude of affairs, Russia and Great Britain are found every where; they confront each other; their policy is different, and their interests are different; they meet in moral collision in every country on the face of the earth; and it would require a miracle to prevent, at different times, this moral collision becoming physical. We cannot, therefore, help looking along the line of the future with forebodings of wars for many years to come; for, let it be remembered that the rivalry betwixt England and Russia is not theoretical and fastidious; it is the rivalry of eternal principles, never to be reconciled.

But other novelties arise out of this war. In this contest both our naval and military forces occupy a position never occupied before. An English fleet never rode triumphantly in the Euxine at any former period, and an English army never before planted its standards on the shores of the Cri

Importance of the Command of the Euxine.


mea. Our ships of war have traversed, we should imagine, every latitude and longitude of the ocean; but this one sea has been heretofore closed to them. For many years Russia has been snugly ensconced in this sea; has been building her navy at Sebastopol unseen and unmolested; has rode triumphantly over its waters; has scoured the Circassian coast at pleasure, and, by the broadsides of her men-of-war, has often committed sad ravages in the ranks of the brave mountaineers; has by this means built forts, furnished the material of war to their garrisons, and carried, or attempted to carry, her dominion, and with it slavery, to the fairest portions of the globe. By an insane policy, this country permitted the Dardanelles to be closed to the ships of war of every country in time of peace; thus shutting Russia up in the possession of the Euxine, to do as she pleased. And well she profited by the boon. The sea itself became a Russian lake: she was enabled to dominate at the mouth of the Danube; against treaties, to erect fortifications on the islands at its mouth, under the pretence of sanitary measures; to levy tolls on the merchantmen of all nations; to build Sebastopol with its arsenals and means of aggression; and constantly to hold Turkey in terror; to menace her independence, and to prepare for her final overthrow. All that Europe is now encountering of injustice and aggression, was stealthily prepared by the connivance of the Western nations to their own exclusion from these waters, without any precautions regarding the ascendancy of the Russian navy.

The entrance of the allied fleets breaks the chain, and lays open the Black Sea. This event brings the British navy into a new sphere, not likely again to be abandoned. In point of fact, the command of the Euxine is the command of Turkey, of the Circassian coast, of the commercial road to Persia, of the Armenian and Georgian provinces wrung from the Ottoman Porte at different times, and annihilates the influence of Russia in the East. But the entrance of our fleets into these waters can only answer their purpose by their remaining there. Their departure would only be the signal for Russia to repeat her old policy, to renew her preparations for aggression, to menace Turkey, and, taught by the past, to embrace the first opportunity, brought about by the complications of Europe, to seize on her prey. Nothing can be plainer than that Russian power must be arrested on this sea. She is paralysed in all her movements in the East by this one event. The entrance of the fleets of the Western Powers can only be stopped at the Dardanelles by the Porte; but in the present and the probable future posture of affairs, this is not likely; and, till she is in a state to defend these waters herself, it must be her interest to agree, by treaty, that the fleets of England and France should repress, permanently, the ascendancy of Russia. By a marvellous sagacity,

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