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to say—all the baptized are regenerate,—would have hesitated a moment to give an explicit affirmation ? If they had, they would have been simply contradicting their writings. The judgment of charity adopts, in their view, the assertion, as its natural expression; it is not dumb, it speaks. So then this ground, it appears, the favourite and claimed ground, after all turns against its advocates, and condemns them. It demands an expression: and it is refused. It is idle and dormant in their hands : suppressed the instant it begins to operate, and silenced the moment it begins to speak. Talk of the judgment of charity indeed! this is the very thing which Mr. Gorham refuses to make. Called upon to make an assertion, he refuses, because such an assertion would be, in his view, a charitable one, in distinction to being a matter of fact one. He selects a ground on purpose to frustrate it; and judges charitably by abstaining from judgment altogether.
As we have said before, the question of Baptismal Regeneration is in a large sense a practical one. The question is, How are you to treat with, and in what state are you to suppose, the visible members of the Church of Christ whom you have to instruct as children, and whom you have to exhort as adults ? The Church Catholic from the beginning to the present day has laid down one supposition to be made; all schools in her, pre destinarian and the contrary, agree; Mr. Gorham's own authorities lay it down: there is a universal consensus for the supposition, of regeneration, adoption, and sonship in the visible Christian body, as the basis of ministerial teaching and appeals. Will Mr. Gorham make this supposition ? Will he instruct the children in his schools, address the congregation in his church, on the idea that they are regenerate? Will he refer them to their baptism as the source of their spiritual life; appeal to them on the ground that they have received a great gift in it, and are responsible for its use and improvement; and take generally a certain past and conferred new birth as the status of the Christian body, instead of a future and uncertain one? If he will, we for our part will promise to ask no curious question on what particular ground he makes the supposition. But the test whether he will bona fide make the supposition of such regeneration or not, is whether he will make or not the assertion of it when called on to do so. And the sacrifice of labour and anxiety which he has made in the case, which has been the subject of this article, will be long remembered too, whatever be the issue. His Lordship’s name is now indissolubly connected with the history of the English Church. Times may be coming which will require a still further display of energy and courage from him; and show that though his Lordship has done much, he has yet more to do for the Church. In that case, we doubt not that one who has begun so bold and manly a course of ecclesiastical policy, will be fully equal to the task of maintaining it, and that it will be with him, as it has been with many—' as thy day is, so shall thy strength be.'
ART. II.-King Arthur.
By SIR E. BULWER LYTTON. Lon
THERE is something in the composition of an heroic poem, a poem of many parts, elaborate and sustained, which naturally awakes our sympathy. The author needs to be supported in his undertaking by far other than vulgar aims; he cannot hope for golden rewards, nor for general praise. When he sits down to his work, and its length stretches out before him, the most fluent pen will hang suspended, loath to begin a great labour; the most sanguine heart sink at the task before it, glancing over the visionary scheme, the Alps upon Alps which must be surmounted. How many bright expectations must fade in discouragement, how many fancied successes yield to the severity of a calmer judgment; how many images, clear in the distance, must pale into indistinctness when their place awaits them ; how many harshnesses must be smoothed down, and resolute obscurities be made intelligible, before the end comes. What hopeless hours, what toilsome days loom upon the fancy when the poet's genius will seem to desert him, or treacherously elude his grasp, shining on the distant peaks of his plan, and leaving him dark and unaided to his present task. What breaks and chasms in the grand design, where over-arching imagination reveals no path; what links wanting in the golden chain which conscious poverty knows not how to supply! Wakeful nights and care-worn days, and haunting perverse measures sounding on wearied ears, self-mistrust, dread of others, all these casting their shadows before, must dog the steps, and float dark phantoms round the man who aspires to write an epic; who entertains that lordly ambition, who would concentrate all his powers in that struggle for fame; who would try that all but hopeless passage through unknown poetic seas. Facing the strictures of sharp criticism, the indifference of common readers, the contempt of the practical world; resting on the future as the hopes of the present slip away from him, he makes the hero's choice noble labour for inglorious ease; and he must needs brace and purify his mind, as the athlete his physical powers, by stern discipline, for the conflict. A great poem is a great labour ; even the attempt at one is self-denial, and toil, and pain; it is the sweat of a man's brow, though airs from heaven fan him, and hope, and gleams of a loftier joy cheer him on his way. And so
it is that with little respect for Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton as an author, with a deep sense of the danger of that literature to which he is a leading contributor, which undermines the broad principles of right and wrong, by the systematic substitution of sentiment for principle, which nicely discriminates between vice and crime, and sees something sublime in the perpetration of enormous sins; though we are well weary also of his vague philosophical speculations, and all the mannerism and affectation with which they are put forth, the yearnings after the Beautiful and the True, which end too often in some horrible breach of God's and man's laws; yet we have felt sympathy for him as a poet. It is a step in advance. The hero of an epic poem, for such 'King Arthur' aspires to be, must embody juster and nobler thoughts than the melo-dramatic hero of a novel. The very construction and outward form of the work is an earnest of higher aspirations, and persuades us beforehand to expect better things. Its very length, its twelve books, and innumerable stanzas, its careful arrangement, and adjustment of parts to the whole, and of subordinate interests to the main one, its attention to precedent, and obedience to critical laws, its fable and episodes, its allegories and morals, its similes and descriptions, its learning and research, the patient toil of mature years expended on the first dream of young romance, all forward this expectation; that must be a better and higher work which at such expense of thought and labour chooses the fabled prince of honour and chivalry for its theme, than those which indulge in such impersonations as Pelham, or Philip Beaufort, or Eugene Aram; there must be some chastening of the fancy, some preliminary purification of heart and mind for such an enterprise.
And in a popular writer, who has won the public ear, there is some real sacrifice in thus renouncing the lighter toils of fiction, with their instant meed of appreciation and praise, as well as more substantial rewards, for the ordeal of critics, who in poetry constitute a far larger proportion of the whole amount of readers
In these days the mass of readers will not read poetry. Poetry used to be called light reading, and young people, in the morality of a former generation, were warned against wasting too much time on its fascinations. But the ingenuity of the present age has invented something much lighter, and easier of digestion, and the popular class of readers will not now endure the labour of extracting the sense from
To most minds poetry is a labour; it will not reveal its meaning to the absolutely passive and lazy; they must take some trouble to enter into it, and that trouble need not now be taken by those who seek only amusement from reading, the case of the majority : for the popular literature of the day needs no
than in prose.
more thought, or study, or preparation of mind, than any scene or pageant got up for the eye alone. The novels of society, which have poured forth within the last thirty years, with the vast facilities for skipping, which prose presents, should the author ever attempt to introduce more serious matter than stirring incident and sprightly dialogue, the more modern invention still of serials, where even the fatigues of sustained attention are avoided, and the voluntary effort of closing the volume on the unfinished story is spared the reader, the author doing this for him—all have tended to make the most attractive, and least abstruse poetry, something of an effort and exertion. Most of our readers will feel that it is easier to spend half an hour on a half-forgotten number of Martin Chuzzlewit, or Vanity Fair, than in reviving the early fascinations of Thalaba, or the Lady of the Lake; and people commonly choose, not the noblest or most intense pleasures, but those which are easiest come at. Watch a crowd passing along the street of a gay watering-place, on the one side are glittering shops and gay equipages, on the other that plain of illimitable waters they have travelled so many miles to see : all eyes are fixed on the gay scene, and the fine things; the billows of the eternal ocean roll and flash in vain.
And no one could be better aware of all this than Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, himself one of the main props and pillars of the circulating library, and who has tasted the glories of extensive popularity. All the honours of the greasy volume are his. The open page, redolent of cigars and candle-snuff, and contaminated with the stains and odours of a hundred slatternly tables and untidy homes, scored and underscored too, with many a comment of untaught but earnest sympathy, however disgusting to the refined reader who follows in the wake of popular appreciation, are like so many rents and tatters in the battle-flag, to the victorious author. And these are to be found only in the prose volume; or if a page of poetry occurs therein, that page is not more distinguished by difference of type, and arrangement of its lines, than by its fewer thumb-marks, and whiter margin. None we say, could know all this better than our author; he could never even hope to see a soiled copy of 'King Arthur;' he wrote for a smaller, a more deserving, a more fastidious class of readers, to whom he must present his thoughts in their fairest, purest, and most chastened guise. This was the task he must have set himself, however much formed habits might interfere with these resolves : and therefore by the very publication of a long poem our respect is raised. It is a more magnanimous ambition, a search for a higher fame. It runs risks, it braves neglects, it has essayed a hard, though it may be a pleasant
task. Nor has this sympathy, which arose from the very
nature of the case been abated by our perusal of the poem. In these days of skimming and glancing, and passing over uncut leaves, it is no usual, no inconsiderable task, to have read through deliberately, a poem of twelve books, averaging 170 or 180 stanzas each. What then must it have been to have written them? We may really feel lost in the greatness of the undertaking, and feel a generous pity too for an author whose chosen, whose darling labour it has been, when experience suggests how small the ultimate success and consideration is likely to be for such an outlay of thought and energy.
There are many striking passages, many picturesque scenes, many eloquent descriptions, and yet the conviction strengthens and grows upon us, that the book will not be read. That it has already come to a second edition is no contravention of this belief: the author's name would cause his poem to be bought and ordered : people will do this to a certain extent, but they will not read it. It is therefore that pity mingles with our sympathy. A long poem in these days is a sort of forlorn hope; the chances of failure so far outbalance success, that just as we may always boldly hazard that that assemblage of human beings called the World, will on any given trial behave ill, so without reading it we may safely conjecture that a long heroic poem by any author whose standing and reputation are known will not be read. We take no credit to ourselves for the prophecy. The sight of the book, the very turning over the leaves, the difficulty inherent in the plan of throwing the mind into the narrative, or comprehending the trials and adventures of the hero, speak for themselves. They give a distaste, which a well-founded hope might perhaps overcome, but people are slow to entertain such hopes when they involve some real exertion on their parts. Not yielding to such forebodings, however, it is thus feelingly that our author speaks of his own finished work, in the concluding words of his preface.
• Here ends all I feel called upon to say respecting a poem which I now acknowledge as the child of my most cherished hopes, and to which I deliberately confide the task to uphold, the chance to continue its father's
• To this work, conceived first in the enthusiasm of youth, I have patiently devoted the best powers of my maturer years; if it be worthless, it is at least the worthiest contribution that my abilities enable me to offer to the literature of my country; and I am unalterably convinced, that on this foundation I rest the least perishable monument of those thoughts and those labours which have made the life of my life.'--P. x.
Nor do we wonder that he should entertain these sentiments. The book bears indications of fond and patient care. It is not an effusion, but it contains all his mind, all his best mind, that is :