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rounding nations. The Algemeine Zeitung, in an article COLONIAL AFFAIRS have been altogether, by public that might have been written by Sir Robert Peel himself, apathy, handed over to the keeping of those unfortunate eulogises that statesman for laying broad and deep the persons who were left unprovided for by the land monofoundations of British prosperity, on gold bars, in the polies. Our colonies have been very much regarded as so vaults of the banks. Upon the same principle, the credit many large houses of refuge for the destitute-as the reof a man who was known to keep always in his possession wards of great exertions in county contests, and as the several barrels of sovereigns might be very well supported portion of younger sons. In official language, Hindostan in the world. He might be very liberally trusted by his is not a colony, but a possession; and the East India ComSalt grocer, his baker, and his butcher. So long as the barrels pany have enjoyed its management for many years. to the Hindoo is one of the most essential necessaries of were secure they would consider their accounts safe; but at the same time they would deem their customer a very re- existence, and formed, therefore, an eligible article for markable, eccentric, and, probably, a very foolish person. monopolising. The Company did not neglect it. They secured and preserved the salt trade to the present day. A deWe do not mean to assert that the business of nations canbe managed like that of individuals. The Algemeine Zei-putation of commercial gentlemen recently waited on Sir J. tung is perfectly correct in desiring a good and a perma-C. Hobhouse to represent the advantages that would accrue nent foundation; but our present currency may be a heavy to the people of Britain and of Hindostan, from its repeal. and yet a shifting foundation. Within two years, very The deputation had for answer "How will the East India important changes have been made in the Scotch and Irish Company resign a revenue of £1,300,000 annually ?" The answer resembles the reply to every demand for colonial currency. Banks, that were previously sufficiently safe for all local purposes, have been secured by a fixed and deter- changes. They are all done in uniform. mined maximum of issues and a minimum of gold. Nobody dreamed that the Bank of Scotland would "give way," or the British Linen Company become "insolvent;" and any outlay for propping the Eildon hills would have been equally rational and satisfactory. We are, however, led to suppose that the banking interests in Scotland and Ireland now keep more gold on hand than before these acts. The stock is necessarily expensive. So much interest is lost. So much capital is withdrawn from other purposes. And what have the public gained? One-pound notes have acquired no additional value, They brought twenty shillings before they do not now bring twenty shillings and a penny. Their free circulation was previously confined to the locality or the kingdom where they were issued, and they are not more readily negotiable since in any other quarter of the globe.
Over speculation, however, may be checked. That was said to be the purpose of the Acts, and yet over-speculation may have very little connexion with the currency. A Caffier may over-speculate and pay in hides and cowries. An Ojibbeway may over-speculate, who exchanges fur for rifles There is a or edge-tools, and never fingers sixpence. singular illustration of the inadequacy of these regulations in preventing speculation from the issue of notes permitted by law, in Scotland and Ireland. The Irish note circulation is presently fixed at £6,354,494, and the Scotch at £3,087,209; yet it will not be supposed that the Irish business is double that of Scotland, or that speculation is more active in Dublin than in Glasgow. The facts are precisely the reverse of the legitimatised circulation; and by some means the Scotch conduct larger speculations and pay rather more taxes than the Irish, on something under half the paper currency allowed by law to their western neighbours.
The last Currency Acts converted the issue of notes into a close monopoly, at a time when monopolies had become obnoxious. There can be no reason for withholding ample guarantees for paper currency. It can be taken in land, or in national bonds, as readily as gold; but however that may be settled, we are entitled to free trade in money as in every other commodity. Money is the life-blood of commerce; and the law might order the subject, with equal propriety, to eat so much food, and no more, per diem-to pay a certain rent, and no less, per annum-as do what it attempts to perform in monetary affairs. And yet the public need expect no alteration in this respect from a Parliament of professional Whigs or Conservatives.
The House of Representatives for Jamaica have adopted and transmitted certain resolutions to this country regarding the sugar bills. They are perfectly wrong in what they deplore, and perfectly right in what they require. They ask free trade, and it should not be denied. The supply of free labourers has been absurdly cramped by the idea that somehow they might be converted into slavés, or " might reduce the wages of the negroes. The latter class! are desirous of becoming small planters themselves, and are making some progress in that direction, while the planters of Jamaica have no greater facilities for converting freemen into slaves than the farmers of Sussex. The House of Representatives remonstrates against the law that. prevents the use of molasses and sugars in malting and distilling, and they are excusable in calling our fervour for free trade selfish, while we prevent, on equal terms, the use of particular articles in a licensed business. The law in question is at the present moment, when corn is scarce, and sugars promise to be abundant, eminently mischievous; but if the people expect a reform in that or any other colonial abuse, without corresponding exertion, they are doomed to "the waggoner's fate," who was told to put his shoulder to the wheel if he wanted his waggon out of the ditch.
The topics we have mentioned are all of a practical character. They involve no organic changes; but seven years will not pass without a demand for measures of that! description re-appearing. The electors have now the" means, or the time, to select candidates from their different localities; and they will find themselves best served, as a general rule, by men interested in the affairs of their seve ral constituencies, acquainted with their feelings, and independent of political favours. Five or six months hence, they may be obliged to accept whoever turns up, and be contented with the nominee of the clubs-packed, ticketed, and forwarded for election.
The delay in accomplishing the most needful measures may be ascribed to the facilities with which constituencies permit interested parties to transact their busiThe restrictions in the franchise place the electors ness. under an onerous and responsible [trust. They act not merely for themselves, but for a knot of neighbours, who are regarded, for this purpose, as minors in law. And, if they would select men to manage financial and public affairs on the principle which they adopt in choosing a railway or a bank director-that of taking the most suitable and best-known inan-the business of the country would be efficiently and economically conducted.
PRINTED BY George troup, 29, DUNLOP STREET, GLASGOW.
BY GEORGE GILFILLAN, AUTHOR OF A "GALLERY OF LITERARY PORTRAITS.”
in the forest of Arden, mused not with a profounder pathos, or in quainter language, upon the sad pageant of humanity, than does he; and yet, like him, his "lungs" are ever ready to "crow like chanticleer" at the sight of its grotesquer absurdities. Verily, the goddess of melancholy owes a deep grudge to the mirthful magician, who carried off such a promising votary. It is not every day that one who might have been a great serious poet will condescend to sink into a punster and editor of comic annuals. And, were it not that his original tendencies continued to be manifested to the last, and that he turned his drollery to important account, we would be tempted to be angry, as well as to regret, that he chose to play the Fool rather than King Lear in the play.
It is the lot of some men of genius, to be born | meries could but indifferently conceal. Jacquez, as if in the blank space, between Milton's L'Allegro and Penseroso their proximity to both originally equal, and their adhesion to the one or the other depending upon casual circumstances. While some pendulate perpetually between the grave and the gay, others are carried off bodily, as it happens, by the comic or the tragic muse. A few there are, who seem to say, of their own deliberate option, "Mirth, with thee we mean to live;" deeming it better to go to the house of feasting than to that of mourning,-while the storm of adversity drives others to pursue sad and dreary paths, not at first congenial to their natures. Such men as Shakspere, Burns, and Byron, continue, all their lives long, to pass, in rapid and perpetual change, from the one province to the other; and this, indeed, is the main source of their boundless ascendancy over the As a poet, Hood belongs to the school of John general mind. In Young, of the "Night Thoughts," Keats and Leigh Hunt, with qualities of his own, the laughter, never very joyous, is converted, and an all but entire freedom from their pecuthrough the effect of gloomy casualties, into the liarities of manner and style. What strikes us, in ghastly grin of the skeleton Death-the pointed the first place, about him, is his great variety of satire is exchanged for the solemn sermon. In subject and mode of treatment. His works are Cowper, the fine schoolboy glee which inspirits in two small duodecimo volumes; and yet we find his humour goes down at last, and is quenched in them five or six distinct styles attempted-and like a spark in the wild abyss of his madness attempted with success. There is the classical “John Gilpin” merges in the "Castaway." Hood, there is the fanciful, or, as we might almost call on the other hand, with his strongest tendencies it, the "Midsummer Night"-there is the homely originally to the pathetic and the fantastic-serious, tragic narrative-there is the wildly grotesque shrinks in timidity from the face of the inner there is the light-and there is the grave and sun of his nature shies the stoop of the descend-pathetic-lyric. And, besides, there is a style, ing Pythonic power and, feeling that if he wept at all it were floods of burning and terrible tears, laughs, and does little else but laugh, instead. We look upon this writer as a quaint masquer --as wearing above a manly and profound nature, a fantastic and deliberate disguise of folly. He reminds us of Brutus, cloaking under pretended idiocy, a stern and serious design, which burns his breast, but which he chooses in this way only to disclose. Or, he is like Hamlet-able to form a magnificent purpose, but, from constitutional weakness, not able to incarnate it in effective action. A deep message has come to him from the heights of his nature, but, like the ancient prophet, he is forced to cry out, "I cannot speak -I am a child!"
Certainly there was, at the foundation of Hood's soul, a seriousness, which all his puns and mum
TOL. XIV.NO. CLVIII.
which we despair of describing by any one single
Through these varied numerous styles, we find
two or three main elements distinctly traceable in all Hood's poems. One is a singular subtlety in the perception of minute analogies. The weakness, as well as the strength of his poetry, is derived from this source. Ilis serious verse, as well as his witty prose, is laden and encumbered with thick coming fancies. Hence, some of his finest pieces are tedious, without being long. Little more than ballads in size, they are books in the reader's feeling. Every one knows how resistance adds to the idea of extension, and how roughness impedes progress. Some of Hood's poems, such as "Lycus," are rough as the Centaur's hide; and, having difficulty in passing along, you are tempted to pass them bye altogether. And though a few, feeling that there is around them the power and spell of genius, generously cry, there's true metal here, when we have leisure, we must return to this yet they never do. In fact, Hood has not been able to infuse human interest into his fairy or mythological creations. He has conceived them in a happy hour; surely on one of those days when the soul and nature are one-when one calm bond of peace seems to unite all things-when the "very cattle in the fields appear to have great and tranquil thoughts"--when the sun seems to slumber, and the sky to smile-when the air becomes a wide balm, and the low wind, as it wanders over flowers, seems telling some happy tidings in each gorgeous car, till the rose blushes a deep crimson, and the tulip lifts up a more towering head, and the violet shrinks more modestly away as at lovers' whispers-in such a favoured hour-on which the first strain of music might have arisen, or the first stroke of painting been drawn, or the chisel of the first sculptor been heard, or the first verse of poetry been chanted, or man himself, a nobler harmony than lute ever sounded, a finer line than painter ever drew, a statelier structure and a diviner song, arisen from the dust-did the beautiful idea of the "Plea of the Midsummer Faries" dawn upon this poet's mind he has conceived them in a happy hour, he has framed them with exquisite skill and a fine eye to poetic proportion, but he has not made them alive, he has not made them objects of love; and you care less for his Centaurs and his Fairies than you do for the moonbeams or the shed leaves of the forest. How different with the Oberon and the Titania of Shakspere! They are true to the fairy ideal, and yet they are human-their hearts warm with human passions, as fond of gossip, flattery, intrigue, and quarrel, as men or women can be and you sigh with or smile at them, precisely as you do at Theseus and Hippolyta. Indeed, we cannot but admire how Shakspere, like the arc of humanity, always bends, in all his characters, into the one centre of man-how his villains, ghosts, demons, witches, fairies, fools, harlots, heroes, clowns, saints, sensualists, women, and even his kings, are all human, disguises, or half-lengths, or miniatures, never caricatures, nor apologies for mankind. How full the cup of manhood out of which he could baptise!-now an Iago, and now an Ague-cheek-now a Bottom,
and now a Macbeth-now a Dogberry, and now a Caliban-now an Ariel, and now a Timoninto the one communion of the one family-nay, have a drop or two to spare for Messrs. Cobweb and Mustardseed, who are allowed to creep in too among the number, and who attract a share of the tenderness of their benign father. As in Swift, his misanthropy sees the hated object in every thing, blown out in the Brobdignagian, shrunk up in the Lilliputian, flapping in the Laputan, and yelling with the Yahoo-nay, throws it out into those loathsome reflections, that he may intensify and multiply his hatred; so in the same way operates the opposite feeling in Shakspere. His love to the race is so great that he would colonise with man, all space, fairy-land, the grave, hell, and heaven. And not only does he give to superhuman beings a human interest and nature, but he accomplishes what Hood has not attempted, and what few else have attempted with success; he adjusts the human to the superhuman actors they never jostle, you never wonder at finding them on the same stage, they meet without a start, they part without a shiver, they obey one magic; and you feel that not only does one touch of nature make the whole world kin, but that it can link the universe in one brotherhood, for the secret of this adjustment lies entirely in the humanity which is diffused through every part of the drama. In it, as in one soft ether, float, or swim, or play, or dive, or fly, all his characters.
In connexion with the foregoing defect, we find in Hood's more elaborate poetical pieces no effective story, none that can bear the weight of his subtle and beautiful imagery. The rich blossoms and pods of the pea-flower tree are there, but the strong distinct stick of support is wanting. This defect is fatal not only to long poems but to all save the shortest; it reduces them instantly to the rank of rhymed essays; and a rhymed essay, with most people, is the same thing with a rhapsody. Even dreams require a nexus, a nisus, a nodus, a point, a purpose. Death is but a tame shadow without the scythe; and the want of a purpose in any clear, definite, impressive form has neutralised the effect of many poems besides Hood's-some of Tennyson's, and one entire class of Shelley's-whose "Triumph of Life" and "Witch of Atlas" rank with "Lycus" and the " Midnight Fairies"-being, like them, beautiful, diffuse, vague; and, like them, perpetually promising to bring forth solid fruit, but yielding at length leaves and blossoms only.
Subtle fancy, lively wit, copious language, and mellow versification, are the undoubted qualities of Hood as a poet. But, besides, there are two or three moral peculiarities about him as delightful as his intellectual; and they are visible in his serious as well as lighter productions. One is his constant lightsomeness of spirit and tone. His verse is not a chant but a carol. Deep as may be his internal melancholy, it expresses itself in, and yields to song. The heavy thunder cloud of wo comes down in the shape of sparkling, sounding, sunny drops, and thus dissolves. He casts his me
lancholy into shapes so fantastic, that they lure first himself, and then his readers, to laughter. If he cannot get rid of the grim gigantic shadow of himself, which walks ever before him, as before all men, he can, at least, make mouths, and cut antics behind its back. This conduct is, in one sense, wise as well as witty; but will, we fear, be imitated by few. Some will continue to follow the unbaptised terror, in tame and helpless submission; others will pay it vain homage; others will make to it resistance equally vain: and many will seek to drown in pleasure, or forget in business, their impression, that it walks on before them-silent, perpetual, pausing with their rest, running with their speed, growing with their growth, strengthening with their strength, forming itself a ghastly rainbow on the fumes of their bowl of festival, lying down with them at night, starting up with every start that disturbs their slumbers, rising with them in the morning, rushing before them like a rival dealer into the market-place, and appearing to beckon them on behind it, from the death-bed into the land of shadows, as into its own domain. If from this dreadful forerunner we cannot escape, is it not well done in Hood, and would it not be well done in others, to laugh at, as we pursued its inevitable steps? It is, after all, perhaps only the future greatness of man that throws back this gloom upon his infant being, casting upon him confusion and despair, instead of exciting him to gladness and to hope. In escaping from this shadow, we should be pawning the prospects of our Immortality.
How cheerily rings Hood's lark-like note of poetry, among the various voices of the age's song-its eagle screams, its raven croakings, its plaintive nightingale strains! And yet that lark, too, in her lowly nest, had her sorrows, and, perhaps, her heart had bled in secret all night | long. But now the "morn is up again, the dewy morn," and the sky is clear, and the wind is still, and the sunshine is bright, and the blue depths seem to sigh for her coming; and up rises she to heaven's gate, as aforetime; and as she soars and sings, she remembers her misery no more; nay, hers seems the chosen voice by which Nature would convey the full gladness of her own heart, in that favourite and festal hour.
No one stops to question the songstress in the sky as to her theory of the universe" Under which creed, Bezonian !-speak or die!" So, it were idle to inquire of Hood's poetry, any more than of Keats's, what in confidence was its opinion of the origin of evil, or the pedobaptist controversy. His poetry is fuller of humanity and of real piety that it does not protrude any peculiarities of personal belief; and that no more than the sun or the book of Esther has it the name of God written on it, although it has the essence and the image. There are writers who, like secret, impassioned lovers, speak most seldom of those objects which they most frequently think of and most fervently admire. And there are others, whose ascriptions of praise to God, whose encomiums on religion, and whose introduction of
sacred names, sound like affidavits, or self-signed certificates of Christianity-they are so frequent, so forced, and so little in harmony with what we know of the men. It is upon this principle that we would defend Wordsworth from those who deny him the name of a sacred poet. True, all his poems are not hymns; but his life has been a long hymn, rising, like incense, from a mountainaltar to God. Surely, since Milton, no purer, severer, living melody has mounted on high. The ocean names not its Maker, nor needs to name him. Yet who can deny that the religion of the "Ode to Sound," and of the "Excursion,” is that of the "Paradise Lost," the "Task," and the "Night Thoughts?" And without classing Hood in this or in any respect with Wordsworth, we dare as little rank him with things common and unclean.
Hear himself on this point:
"Thrice blessed is the man with whom
Each cloud-capped mountain is a holy altar;
Rich in deep hymns of gratitude and love."
And amid all the mirthful details of the long warfare which he waged with Cant, (from his Progress of Cant, downwards,) we are not aware of any real despite done to that spirit of Christianity to which Cant, in fact, is the most formidable foe. To the mask of religion, his motto is, spare no arrows; but when the real, radiant, sorrowful, yet happy face appears, he too has a knee to kneel and a heart to worship.
But, best of all in Hood is that warm humanity which beats in all his writings. His is no ostentatious or systematic philanthropy; it is a mild, cheerful, irrepressible feeling, as innocent and tender as the embrace of a child. It cannot found soup kitchens; it can only slide in a few rhymes and sonnets to make its species a little happier. Hospitals it is unable to erect, or subscriptions to give, silver and gold it has none; but in the orisons of its genius it never fails to remember the cause of the poor; and if it cannot, any more than the kindred spirit of Burns, make for its country some usefu' plan or book," it can "sing a sang at least." Hood's poetry is often a pleading for those who cannot plead for themselves, or who plead only like the beggar, who, reproached for his silence, showed his sores, and replied, "Isn't it begging I am with a hundred tongues?" This advocacy of his has not been thrown utterly away; it has been heard on earth, and it has been heard in heaven.
The genial kind-heartedness which distinguished Thomas Hood did not stop with himself. He silently and insensibly drew around him a little cluster of kindred spirits, who, without the name, have obtained the character and influence of a school, which may be called, indifferently, the Latter Cockney, or the Punch School. Who the
parent of this school, properly speaking, was,
cumstances, the scene, and the person to whom
"That very night, while gentle sleep
And here, how much of the horror is breathed upon us from the calm bed of the sleeping boy!
"Love and song, song and love, entertwined evermore, Weary earth to the suns of its youth shall restore." Mirth like that of Punch and Hood can relieve many a fog upon individual minds, but is powerless to remove the great clouds which hang over the general history of humanity, and around even political abuses it often plays harmless as the summer evening's lightning, or, at most, only loosens without smiting them down. Voltaire's smile showed the Bastile in a ludicrous light, as it fantastically fell upon it; but Rousseau's earnestness struck its pinnacle, and Mirabeau's elo- The two best of his grave, pathetic lyrics are quence overturned it from its base. There is a the " Song of the Shirt" and the "Bridge of call, in our case, for a holier earnestness, and for Sighs." The first was certainly Hood's great a purer, nobler oratory. From the variety of hit, although we were as much ashamed as restyles which Hood has attempted in his poems,joiced at its success. We blushed when we thought we select the two in which we think him most successful-the homely tragic narrative, and the grave pathetic lyric. We find a specimen of the former in his Eugene Aram's dream. This may be called a tale of the Confessional; but how much new interest does it acquire from the cir
that at that stage of his life he needed such an introduction to the public, and that thousands and tens of thousands were now, for the first time, induced to ask "Who's Thomas Hood?" The majority of even the readers of the age had never heard of his name till they saw it in Punch, and