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Southey's nobility of purpose, and at the close of his life, said that his delicacy and purity of execution, ren- chiefest pride and greatest glory was der his poems (with the exception of that he had never written a line which, his political ones) faultless, as regards on the score of its morality, he would good taste and propriety. He may desire to expunge or to correct. The fail to attract, he can never disgust; nobility of this speech lies in its abso and if his poetry falls short of the high lute truth. standard he aimed at, it is more owing It is hardly just to close a notice of to the absence of great qualities, than a poet who is so little read now-a-days, to the presence of objectionable ones. without giving some account of at least He did not let his talents lie idle, nor one of his more important productions. can it be said that he misapplied them ; We shall select one of Southey's epic his error was rather that he sought to attempts, which was not, by reason of make too wide a use of them, and that its subject, and the form of verse emhe attempted to climb by plodding in- ployed, predestined from the outset to dustry to heights only accessible to failure as a great poem. In · Roderick the eagle pinion of genius. Southey's the last of the Goths,' Southey chose a narrative power was also very
consid- theme admirably well suited, in the erable. Although, as we have said, hands of a great poet, for epic treathe was unable to invest his personages ment; and in place of the capricious with any strong human interest, he metres, and jingling measures of • Thamanages his narratives with a skill laba,' or 'The Curse of Kehama,' he that prevents him, as a rule, from be- clothed his thoughts in the only fitting coming tedious.
A reader is never garb—blank verse. The story of the deeply moved or intensely interested, king who, by his misdeeds brought the but on the other hand, he is not very Moors into Spain, is, in every respect often actually bored by even the long- tragic. King Roderick by violence est of Southey's poems. If we forget offered to the daughter of Count Julthat they are intended as examples of ian, one of his most powerful nobles, the highest forms of poetry; if we di- so incensed the Count, that he sought vest them of their pretensions, and the aid of the Moors to obtain re take them as they are, then The Curse venge upon the dissolute king, and in of Kehama,' • Thalaba The Destroyer,' a pitched battle, Roderick was denay, even 'Madoc,' will be found very feated and the whole country subjutolerable reading for the sake of the gated by the Moors. It is at this point stories they contain. As must be the that Southey's
that Southey's poem begins : the King case with the writings of every sincere in the moment of defeat, after vainly and whole-hearted man, the character seeking for death at the hands of the of the author shines through Southey's foe, is miracu.ously converted and poems. His egotisın, innocent from changed from a sinner into a very pro its very intensity and out-spokenness, nounced saint. He escapes from the bis love of home and of his children, field of battle, and spends a year in se his energy, his industry, his ambition, clusion with a pious hermit, but upor and above all his noble desire to be the death of his aged companion, ir always on the side of virtue, and in obedience to an inward voice which h arms against vice, are all conspicuously feels to be divine, he returns one displayed in his writings. Such
poems, more to the world. He finds that hi if they can never be a great power for divinely appointed mission is to ni good, can never be a power for evil, Spain of the Moors, but to humbl even in the most innocent or most ig- himself, and remain obscure and un norant hands; and this is praise which known. The manner in which Roder many poets far greater than Southey ick accomplished this end, and finall have yearned for in vain. Southey retired to die in a hermit's cell, form
the plot of the poem. The great scope
Beheld him, and, with sudden pity touch'd,
She laid her spindle hy, and running in, for theexercise of tragic power afforded Took bread, and following after call'd him back,
And placing in his passive hands the loaf, by such a subject is easily apparent, She said, Christ Jesus for his mother's sake but Southey wilfully throws away one
Have mercy on thee! With a look that seem'd
Like idiotcy he heard her and stood still half of his material, and hardly makes Staring awhile ; then bursting into tears the best use of the remainder. He tells
Wept like a child, and thus relieved his heart
Full even to bursting else with swelling thoughts.' the story in the spirit which would have animated an old monkish chron- This passage is, in its way, almost
: every man who fought on the fect, but the common-place of the last Christian side is an angel ; every Moor line, or rather the last line and a half, a demon ; Roderick is so impossibly jars upon us, and robs the description saintly, that we cannot feel either in- as a whole of much of its force. It is terest in, or sympathy with him ; his the worst sort of pleonasm to conmother Rusilla, Count Julian's daugh- clude such a picture by informing us ter Florinda, Alphonso, Pelayo, Pedro, that the king's heart was full, and in fact all the characters on Roderick's that his tears relieved it. The future side are endowed with the same per- conduct of the Spaniards to the Moors fection, and those on the other have and the expulsion of this unhappy no redeeming trait to enlist our pity race from Spain is thus alluded to : or touch our feelings. The result is,
What joy might these prophetic scenes bave given ? that in spite of a great amount of skill
What ample vengeance on the Mussulman, in the presentation and working out
Driven out with foul defeat, and made to feel
In Africa the wrongs he wrought to spain ; of the story, the poem as a whole is And still pursued by that relentless sword, tame and insipid. There is, besides, a
Even to the farthest orient, where his power great deal too much praying and goody-goody' talk to suit modern no- No poet, least of all an historian as tions of what is becoming in a secular Southey was, should, even in a poem poem; the men are always either pray- directed against the Moors, have gloing or cutting Moorish throats ; the ried in the foul and treacherously cruel women have not even the latter alter- conduct of the Spaniards towards a native. Nevertheless there are many gallant and highly cultivated race. As fine passages in the poem ; the interest, a fair example of Southey's method of although never absorbing, is kept up dealing with the sights and sounds of to the close, and if there is nothing to Nature, the following passage may be make our pulses beat quicker, or our quoted : eyes moisten, we can still derive a cer
The silver cloud diffusing slowly past, tain pleasure from the perusal of 'Rod
And now into its airy elements erick the last of the Goths.' The follow- Resolved is gone; while through the azure depth
Alone in heaven the glorious Moon pursues ing passage describes Roderick's re
Her course appointed, with indifferent beams turn to the world after his first retire- Shining upon the silent hills around.
Received its mortal wound.'
* The face of human kind so long unseen,
They by the fountain hear the stream below,
There are numerous accounts of battles in this poem, whose vigour would be considerably enhanced were they
not quite so wordy ; the best speci- highest of Southey's efforts in the field men is the last great combat in which in which he fondly hoped to win Roderick finally breaks the power of eternal renown. Judged as a whole, the Moors.
• Roderick the last of the Goths,' is a
more than respectable performance ; Thus he made his way, Smiting and slaying through the astonish'd ranks, great it is not, but it is very far reTill he beheld where on a fiery barb, Ebba performing well a soldier's part,
moved from being contemptible. Dealt to the right and left his deadly blows.
We have left ourselves little space With mutual rage they met. The renegade Displays a scimitar, the splendid gift
for any adequate consideration of or Walid from Damascus sent ; its hilt
Southey as a prose writer, but it Emboss'd with gems, its blade of perfect steel, Which, like a mirror sparkling to the sun,
would be eminently unfair to pass by With dazzling splendour, flashed. The Goth objects His shield, and on its rim received the edge
altogether unnoticed the works upon Driven from its aim aside, and of its force
which his really enduring reputation Diminish'd. Many a frustrate stroke was dealt On either part, and many a foin and thrust
will probably depend. His historical Aim'd and rebated; many a deadly blow
works, 'The History of Brazil' and 'The Straight or reverse, delivered and repelled. Roderick at length with better speed hath reach'd History of the Peninsular War,' &c., we The apostate's turban, and through all its folds The true Cantabrian weapon making way
shall not speak of, as we have not s Attain'd his forehead. Wretch, the avenger cried, thorough personal knowledge of them. It comes from Roderick's hand'!'
His biographies, 'The Life of Wesley Elaborate as this is, it fails to stir the and 'The Life of Nelson,' are, however, blood, for it wants the terse and gra- widely read, and · The Doctor ’ should phic touches which give to words life command a far wider circle of readers and reality ; it is, moreover, too evi- than it possesses in the present day. dent an imitation of Milton to possess Southey's prose is pure, lucid, and inany potent vitality of its own. We cisive; he is eloquent without effort, have endeavoured in the above ex- graphic without being theatrical, and tracts, to show the poet at his best, tender without a suspicion of affectabut it is only just to say that the tion. The Life of Nelson' may justly structure of Southey's blank verse is be regarded as the most skilful of all not always so good as in the speci- biographies, and second in charm to one mens we have cited.
Even in impor
alone-Irving's 'Life of Goldsmith. tant passages meant to impress or af- Southey's task was, however, a more fect the reader, his verse is sometimes arduous one than Irving's ; to comlittle else than prose cut into lengths. press into a short compass all the salTake for instance the following speech ient acts in a life so active and so full of Alphonso, newly escaped from of incident as Nelson's, would seem, bondage, and about to revisit the even if done in a perfunctory manner, home of his childhood, and write it sufficiently difficult; but so to comwithout the adventitious aid derived press them as to illustrate fully everyfrom the division into lines, and see thing of importance either in the life how it reads :
or the character of the hero, thereby How then,' exclaimed the boy, investing the work as a whole with a shall I discharge the burthen of this genuinely deserved air of completeness, happiness? How ease my overflow- would seem well-nigh impossible. But ing soul? Oh! gracious God ! shall I this is what Southey set himself to do, behold my mother's face again? my
and he has succeeded so thoroughly, father's hall –my native hills and that his ' Life of Nelson' will live as vales, and hear the voices of their one of the most admirable works of its streams again?'
kind in the English language. Brief Many worse examples might be as is our remaining space, we cannot given, but it would be ungenerous to refrain from quoting an example of criticize in a carping spirit, a poem Southey's nervous and beautiful prose: which we have selected as being the • The people of England grieved that funeral ceremonies and public shield and our strength. Thus it is monuments and posthumous rewards that the spirits of the great and the were all which they could now bestow wise continue to live and act after upon him, whom the king, the legisla- them.' ture, and the nation would have alike In 'The Doctor,' Southey made an delighted to honour; whom every ambitious attempt to produce, as he tongue would have blessed ; whose himself said, a compound of Tristram presence in every village through Shandy, Rabelais, Montaigne and Burwhich he might have passed would ton. There is little of the true Rabelhave wakened the church-bells, have aisian or Shandean humour in the given school-boys a holiday, have book ; in this respect it might be comdrawn children from their sports to pared to Tristram Shandy on stilts gaze upon him, and “old men from the with a gag in his mouth, but there is chimney corner,” to look upon Nelson much of the spirit of Montaigne, and ere they died. The victory of Trafal- in wealth of quotation it resembles gar was celebrated, indeed, with the old Burton. We remember coming usual forms of rejoicing, but they across · The Doctor,' for the first time, were without joy; for such already at that omnivorous age when we vorawas the glory of the British navy, ciously devour anything and everythrough Nelson's surpassing genius, thing in the form of a book, and on that it scarely seemed to receive any that occasion we religiously read addition from the most signal victory through the seven volumes from bethat ever was achieved upon the seas :
ginning to end. We cannot say that and the destruction of this mighty it is a book which lends itself natufleet, by which all the maritime rally to such a course, but it is adschemes of France were totally frus- mirably adapted to while away an hour trated, hardly appeared to add to our pleasantly, and perhaps profitably. security or strength; for, while Nel- Open it at random, at any page, and son was living to watch the combined we may be sure of some curious insquadrons of the enemy, we felt our- formation quaintly and agreeably imselves secure as now, when they were parted. no longer in existence. * * * * The We have considered Southey as a most triumphant death is that of the man, as a politician, and as a poet; martyr; the most awful that of the mar- and if we have not been able to afford tyred patriot; the most splendid that him a large measure of praise, we have of the hero in the hour of victory : endeavoured at least to do him justice. and if the chariot and the horses of The decisions of one generation with fire had been vouchsafed for Nelson's regard to a poet's merits, are often uptranslation, he could scarcely have de- set by a succeeding one, and it is withparted in a brighter blaze of glory. in the range of possibilities that Southey He has left us, not indeed his mantle may yet in some future
be regardof inspiration, but a name and an ex- ed as a great poet. Meantime, we can ample, which are at this hour inspir-only judge him as he appears to ouring thousands of the youth of England; selves, and we trust we have done so & name which is our pride, and an ex- without harshness or prejudice. ample which will continue to be our
TRIAL BY JURY.
BY D. B. READ, Q.C.
has, in the mother land, age, extended by the Act of 32 and 33 added to a long record of instances Victoria, cap. 32, by which, for similar of defeat of tyranny and oppression, offences as those specified in Consol. to recommend it. British liberty has Stat. U. C., cap. 105, and in cases of always been dear to the British heart. larcenies where the goods stolen did The man or men, king or commoner, not exceed $10 in value, the police who would seek to deprive a British magistrate was empowered to try the subject of that, his birth-right, would accused party with his own consent, be looked upon as deserving of the and if found guilty convict, and a conseverest reprobation. The principle | viction under the Act was to have the that no man should be subjected to a same effect as a conviction upon intrial for crime without a finding of | dictment for the same offence would twelve of his fellow-men, called a have had. By the 32nd and 33rd grand jury, that there was something Vict., cap. 35 (Dominion), any person he should be tried for, has always, committed to jail for trial on a charge from the days of Magna Charta' to of being guilty of any offence for the present time, been treated as one which he might be tried at the Court of the safe-guards of British liberty.' of General Sessions of the Peace, may, Not only was a party accused of crime with his own consent, be tried out of not to be put on triol without the Sessions, and convicted and sentenced sanction of a grand jury, but he could by the judge. By the Ontario Act of not be convicted of the crime till 36 Vict., cap. 8, sec. 57, the Judge of twelve other of his fellow-subjects pro- any County Court or the Junior or nounced bim guilty. The first inno- Deputy Judge thereof authorized to vation on the important principle that act as Chairman of the General Sessions an accused party should have the bene- of the Peace, is constituted a Court fit of trial by jury was an Act of the of Record for the trial out of Sessions, Parliament of Canada, passed in the and without a jury, of any person 20th year of Her Majesty Queen Vic- committed to jail on a charge of being toria's reign (Consolidated Statutes of guilty of any offence for which such Canada, cap. 105), by which jurisdic- person may be tried at a Court of tion was conferred on Recorders of General Sessions of the Peace, and for cities, and, by 27 and 28 Vict., cap. which the person so committed con34, extended to police magistrates, to sents to be tried out of Sessions. try and summarily convict for certain The next Act which requires especial offences, as larcenies and certain as- notice is an Act of 38 Victoria, cap. saults and other misdemeanors speci- 47, entitled 'An Act for the more fied. If the accused were found guilty, speedy trial before Police Magistrates the recorder or police magistrate in the Province of Ontario of persons could sentence him to be imprisoned charged with felonies or misdemeanin the common jail for a period not ors.' By this Act police magistrates