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This volume contains twelve original poems, and fifty-two selected from American and English poets. Of the original poetry, there is none which falls below mediocrity, and but one which rises above it. That one we quote with pleasure, hoping that the author will write more, and renew our pleasure.
LINES TO A LADY.
BY MR N. P. WILLIS.
Unbeeded in its silent path;
A similar remembrance hath.
Scarce brightens ere its hues are gone ;
Must vapish, when the night hath flown.
No traces of his wing are there;
It was but now-and now is where?
Hath morning found its gay leaf dim?
To-morrow-will she think of him?
Like bird, or pist, or leaf, or cloud
Deep shall its sleep be-in my shroud.
The moon's serene, but fleeting light-
All that hath made their pathway bright.
My name to deep oblivion given,
And breathe it to my lyre in Heaven. We regret that the publishers did not make all thei tions from the works of American poets. If they had not found poems equal in beauty to those which they have borrowed; they would at least have spared their fair readers one or two yawns over the vapid verses of Prior and Shenstone, and one blush at the indelicate lines of Waller, which they have printed. Some of the English poems here republished, are very beautiful, but we will not extract, as specimens of this part of the work, any of the selections from those rare
books, the poetical works of John Milton and of Lord Byron. Neither do we think it proper to reprint within the year, some of the be utiful poems of Bryant, which, as the proprietors of The United States Literary Gazette purchased them of the author, might, we think, without any impropriety have been acknowledged to be taken from our columns. We were glad to see here the poem of Washington Allston, first printed, we believe, in Coleridge's Syb lline Laves, and without the author's name.
They are verses which do honour to the man and the poet, to his native country and the country of his ancestors; it is a “strain that will not die.” We are happy in the opportunity of adorning our Gazette with such poetry as this; and, though many of our readers have doubtless seen it, we trust, that none will complain of the space which it occupies.
BY WASHINGTON ALLSTON.
Since our fathers left their home,
O'er untravelled seas to roam,
And shall we not proclaim
By its chains ?
Which the bard of Avon sung,
How the vault of Heaven rung,
While these, with reverence meet,
Round our coast;
While the manners, while the arts,
That mould a nation's soul,
Between, let ocean roll,
Yet still from either beach
WE ARE ONE!
Among the extracts from English writers, we were most pleased with “The Mourner," by Miss Roscoe; and the
rather because there is in it nothing about beauty and a rose, budding or full-blown, a comparison which occurs much too frequently in the other selections. The whole is true to nature, and the best feelings of our nature.
ROBERT OWEN'S NEW VIEWS OF SOCIETY,
Tempest. Though it is now about fourteen years since Mr Owen first began publicly to support his system of education and govern
ment; its peculiar features would probably have been matter of little interest in this country, but for his late arrival from England, and his public addresses in the Capitol. These have excited considerable attention, and it may not be amiss to take some notice of his theory.
From his various, diffuse, and declamatory productions, we gather the following principles.
1st. Any general character, from the best to the worst, from the most ignorant to the most enlightened, may be given to any community, even to the world at large, by the application of proper means, which means are to a great extent at the command, and under the control of those who have influence in the affairs of men.
2d. That the will of man has no power over his opinions ; he must, and ever did, and ever will believe what has been, is, or may be impressed on his mind by his predecessors, and the circumstances which surround him. That the character of man is, without a single exception, always formed for him ; that it may be, and is, chiefly created by his predecessors; that they give him, or may give him, his ideas and habits, which are the powers that govern and direct his conduct; that man therefore never did, nor is it possible he ever can, form his own character; and that children can be trained to acquire any language, sentiments, belief, or any bodily habits, and manners, not contrary to human pature.
3d. That the only principle of action, that ought to be recognised, is the happiness of self clearly understood and uniformly practised; which can only be attained by conduct, that must promote the happiness of the community.
These principles he considers undeniable, and proceeds to infer from them, that the character of the present generation of mankind may be much improved, if not wholly altered by placing them in favourable circumstances; and that succeeding generations may be trained so as to possess a perfect character.
In order to bring mankind within the control of these favourable circumstances, Mr Owen proposes to divide them into separate communities, each consisting of from five hundred to two thousand individuals, possessing as many acres of land and occupying a village, arranged in the form of a parallelogram. In these societies there is to be a full comm
munity of interest, and an equality, in the first instance as great as possible, and finally full and complete.
It is unnecessary to enter further into the details of this philanthropic imagination. A community of goods is no new scheme. It has been repeatedly tried, but never with success, except
where it has made a part of peculiar religious systems, which Mr Owen altogether disclaims. Our ancestors, both in Virginia and New England, made the experiment, but were soon compelled to relinquish it, and it is obvious to every one who has attended to the history and character of man, that while the latter remains unchanged, arrangements of this sort will ultimately lead to any thing rather than industry and prosperity.
But Mr Owen proposes to change this character entirely, by a course of instruction and government founded upon the prinples which we have quoted above. In regard to these, he seems to have fallen into two important errors.
He supposes them to be both original and true, while unfortunately some of them are in one only of these predicaments, and the remainder in neither.
The first, for instance, taken in its widest acceptation, though most undeniably true, is as old as the world, and has afforded argument for moral essays and sermons without number.
The second involves a question, about which so much ink has been poured out and to so little purpose, that it would argue small discretion to engage here in the discussion of it; the question, to wit, of free-will and necessity, which has been bandied from school to school, and from philosopher to philosopher, and “ deil ony thing the wisest o' them could make it,” as Mackitch inson says, but just to throw it back again. Like many similar questions, however, this was long ago settled by the common sense of mankind, and the learned of modern days seem disposed to accept the solution. A modern lecturer has arrived, in a great book and in due form, to the conclusion which a great moralist of the last century bluntly and satisfactorily announced in the following terms—“We know we ’re free, and there's an end of it.”
Seriously, it is idle to talk, in the face of all experience, of man's being the mere creature of circumstances, or, in other words, the subject of irresistible necessity in any other sense, than that philosophical and abstract one, which can have no possible bearing on practical systems of reform.
That circumstances have a powerful influence on character, no one ever gravely doubted; but Mr Owen's proposition is, that characters are created by circumstances, over which the individual has no control ;-a proposition, which, if correct, would lead to consequences rather unfavourable to the success of his designs. For if circumstances have caused in all the rest of the world those opinions and characters which now exist, and which are exceedingly hostile to his plans of reform, his arguments alone cannot, by his own theory, be expected to effect any sensible altera