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The daughters of the Lord of gods and men,
The description, too, of the effect produced by the loveliness and falsehood of the evil angels is not without considerable beauty :
"No lack was there
Of direful sign and portent; chief was this
Rolled into rings of darkness round their heads
With gathering shades the stranger spirits grew
The introduction of the "hugeous monster" (intended we suppose to impersonate Sin) with 100 heads, which speaks 10,000 tongues altogether, and is otherwise remarkable for his teeth and tail, is in the worst style of inflated grandeur. We need make no comment on the evangelical moral of this poem, because it is identical with that of "Festus," which was examined in a former Number: it is evidently written to defend the "purifying suffering of sin," and the whole pseudo-evangelical scheme of regarding guilt as a wise contrivance of predestinating wisdom, as a man of straw set up by the divine Being, purposely
that He might have the glory of subsequently overturning it:
"In this, too, God permitted them success,
And in far more, that at the close he might
Mr Bailey should avoid committing himself to moral and theological systems; his mind seems to have no intellectual subtlety and very little moral sensitiveness, so that the force of his character only leads him to throw himself with a very distressing fervour into the grossest forms of ethical and religious philosophy. There is nothing very remarkable in the few shorter poems, appended to the "Angel World" in the piece on Autumn, there are a few beautiful lines.
Of Mr. Browning's poem we have little to say we only placed it at the head of this article because it affords an instructive comparison with Mr. Bailey's in arriving at any distinct views as to the peculiar mental characteristics of a poet. These new poems of Mr. Browning exhibit a higher intellectual power, a keener moral sensitiveness, and altogether a far more spiritual nature than Mr. Bailey's: still, though they are far more religious, they are, as it seems to us, decidedly less poetical, than the" Angel World." "Christmas Eve" is written apparently with the intention of showing that Christ blesses by his presence all the churches that earnestly and in truth desire to follow and love him, from the Roman Communion down to the intellectual audience of a German rationalist, whatever be their errors, and yet that the eclectic principle in religion is spurious and worthless, since the true faith lies in one view and in one only. In "Easter Day" he enters on the discussion of the relation between faith in Christ and moral acceptance with God, and connects the moral quality involved in faith with the intellectual fact of belief in this manner, that our doubts of the incarnation are mainly moral, arising from the feebleness of our own love, which renders it difficult, sometimes impossible, for men to believe that the divine love could ever have been so infinite as to lead God to put on for our sakes man's imperfect nature, and submit to the
sufferings and the sorrows of a mortal lot. We have no contest at present with Mr. Browning's views, and only wish to speak of him in his character of a poet, and especially of a religious poet. The only passages that could be thought to be poetical in these new poems are the descriptions of the moonlight night with the lunar rainbow and the appearance of the vision in the first poem; and in the last, the description of the Aurora Borealis on the night before Easter Day.
"And as I said
This nonsense, throwing back my head
One fire. The dome of Heaven had stood
As made up of a multitude
Of handbreadth cloudlets, one vast rack
From sky to sky.
Sudden there went,
A fierce vindictive scribble of red
(The angry scribe of Judgment) 'There-
Of heaven, and I distinct could trace
No longer, certain rays world-wide
As if a dragon's nostril split
And all his famished ire o'erflowed;
The rest is for the most part either moral argument in doggerel verses of a very unharmonious kind, or descriptions of scenes and persons, often clever, but not by any means beautiful. Mr. Browning's poetry is indeed altogether of a hard description, and shows, to use a distinction pointed out by Mr. Ruskin, more appreciation of the picturesque, than of the essentially beautiful and sublime: this is shown, we think, even in his ungraceful versification, which is totally devoid of melody and even smoothness, and yet is not ill adapted to bring out sharp distinctions and pointed contrasts. This is a fault which has increased upon him; though his poetry has always been less genuine poetry than illustrated thought, or intellectual description of beautiful scenes. There is one circumstance which the comparison of all the greatest poets of the world forces more and more strongly upon us, that their peculiar power consists mainly in the perfect closeness with which their sentiments are bound up together in their minds, so that while they are expressing one, they pass into another, and never call up a mere phase of human sentiment, but unite all the finest and most complex shades of feeling in the wonderful web of their full and glowing utterance. This we take to be the main characteristic of a poet; he passes directly from sentiment to sentiment, and illustrates one emotion through the medium of another, so as to touch at once all the varied springs of feeling that each object may excite in a human soul; and yet one tone of feeling may, and generally must, remain predominant; only while ordinary minds detect this alone, and strive to express it as if it were single and distinct, the poet passes by none of those minor accompaniments unconsciously present with CHRISTIAN TEACHER.-No. 48.
us, which "fill up the melody, though scarce interpreting the thought." In truth, it is the part of the poet to present, in living combination, the groups of sentiments which are roused, and, even more still, that ought to be roused in human minds towards objects of human interest; and if we keep fast hold of this principle, we are convinced that it will explain a great proportion of the deficiencies and merits of poetical writers. No human sentiment, any more than chemical element, is ever found in the actual world uncombined; and to express and arouse the various clusters of sentiments, in their truest and purest living combinations, is the highest task of poetry. The highest poet seems to require not only the highest qualifications of every other human being, but, in addition to these, that peculiar cast of mind which binds up all the sensitive parts of his nature, physical, moral, and spiritual, in the most intimate union. This it is which distinguishes him from the artist, who has usually the finest sensitiveness in some particular power of perception, but in whom this fineness of faculty remains in itself, and does not take constant illustration from the neighbouring sentiments: the poet, in order to be the highest of his order, should have all the sensitive perceptions as fine and keen as artists of every class, and in addition, that intimate tie existing among them all which allows each to seek illustration and expression from the refined analogies of the others.
Now this is the reason why we maintain, that though Mr. Browning's mind seems intellectually and spiritually of a higher order than Mr. Bailey's, the latter has far more of the poetic nature than the former. Mr. Bailey's mind is of that kind, that all its finest sensitive faculties seem fused together so essentially, that one sentiment cannot be expressed without a similar expression of all those bordering and minor feelings which really touch upon it in the human soul. Thus when he says
A soul of lofty clearness, like a night
Of stars, wherein the memory of the day
Seems trembling through the meditative air,"
he combines in so wonderful a manner all the shades of feeling with which we regard that kind of clear sad nature,