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from his pen, because he knows that they may—will be -insulted and profaned by the name of cant, and he himself held up as a hypocrite. In some hands, ridicule is indeed a terrible weapon. It is terrible in the hands of indignant genius, branding the audacious forehead of falsebood or pollution. But ridicule in the hands either of cold blooded or infuriated Malice, is harmless as a birch-rod in the palsied fingers of a superannuated beldam, who in her blear-eyed dotage has lost her school. The Bird of Paradise might float in the sunshine unharmed all its beautiful life long, although all the sportsmen of Cockaigne were to keep firing at the starlike plumage during the Christmas holydays of a thou

sand years.

We never are disposed not to enjoy a religious spirit in metrical composition, but when induced to suspect that it is not sincere; and then we turn away from the hypocrite, just as we do from a pious pretender in the intercourse of life. Shocking it is, indeed, to see “fools rush in where angels fear to tread;” nor have we words to express our disgust and horror at the sight of fools, not rushing in among those awful sanctities before which angels vail their faces with their wings, but mincing in, with red slippers and flowered dressing-gowns—would-be fashionables, with crow-quills in hands like those of milliners, and rings on their fingers-afterwards extending their notes into Sacred Poems for the use of the public-penny-a-liners, reporting the judgments of Providence as they would the proceedings in a police court.

SACRED POETRY,

CHAPTER II.

The distinctive character of poetry, it has been said, and credited almost universally, is to please. That they who have studied the laws of thought and passion should have suffered themselves to be deluded by an unmeaning word is mortifying enough; but it is more than mortifying—it perplexes and confounds—to think that poets themselves, and poets too of the highest order, have declared the same degrading belief of what is the scope and tendency, the end and aim of their own divine artforsooth, to please! Pleasure is no more the end of poetry, than it is the end of knowledge, or of virtue, or of religion, or of this world. The end of poetry is pleasure, delight, instruction, expansion, elevation, honour, glory, happiness here and hereafter, or it is nothing. Is the end of Paradise Lost to please? Is the end of Dante's Divine Comedy to please? Is the end of the Psalms of David to please? Or of the songs of Isaiah? Yet it is probable that poetry has often been injured or vitiated by having been written in the spirit of this creed, It relieved poets from the burden of their duty-from the responsibility of their endowments—from the conscience that is in genius. We suspect that this doctrine has borne especially hard on all sacred poetry, disinclined poets to devoting their genius to it—and consigned, if not to oblivion, to neglect, much of what is great in that magnificent walk. For if the masters of the Holy Harp are to strike it but to please—if their high inspirations are to be deadened and dragged down by the prevalent power of such a mean and unworthy aim—they will either be contented to awaken a few touching tones of “ those strains that once did sweet in Zion glide"unwilling to prolong and deepen them into the diapason of praise—or they will deposit their lyre within the gloom of the sanctuary, and leave unawakened “the soul of music sleeping on its strings.”

All arguments, or rather objections to, sacred poetry, dissolve as you internally look at them, like unabiding mist-shapes, or rather like imagined mirage where no mirage is, but the mind itself makes ocular deceptions for its own amusement. By sacred poetry, is mostly meant Scriptural; but there are, and always have been conceited and callous critics, who would exclude all religious feelings from poetry, and indeed from prose too, compendiously calling them all cant. Had such criticasters been right, all great nations would not have so gloried in their great bards. Poetry, it is clear, embraces all we can experience; and every high, impassioned, imaginative, intellectual, and moral state of being becomes religious before it passes away, provided it be left free to seek the empyrean, and not adstricted to the glebe by some severe slavery of condition, which destroys the desire of ascent by the same inexorable laws that palsy the power, and reconcile the toilers to the doom of the dust. If all the states of being that poetry illustrates do thus tend, of their own accord, towards religious elevation, all high poetry must be religious; and so it is, for its whole language is breathing of a life“ above the smoke and stir of this dim spot which men call earth;” and the feelings, impulses, motives, aspirations, obligations, duties, privileges, which it shadows forth or embodies, enveloping them in solemn shade or attractive light, are all, directly or indirectly, manifestly or secretly, allied with the sense of the immortality of the soul, and the belief of a future state of reward and retribution. Extinguish that sense and that belief in a poet's soul, and he may hang up his barp.

Among the great living poets, Wordsworth is the one whose poetry is to us the most inexplicable—with all our reverence for his transcendent genius, we do not fear to say the most open to the most serious charges-on the score of its religion. From the first line of the Lyrical Ballads to the last of the “ Excursion"- it is avowedly one system of thought and feeling, embracing his experiences of human life, and his meditations on the moral government of this world. The human heartthe human mind—the human soul—to use his own fine words—is “ the haunt and main region of his song.” There are few, perhaps none of our affections—using that term in its largest sense—which have not been either slightly touched upon, or fully treated, by Wordsworth. In his poetry, therefore, we behold an image of what, to his eye, appears to be human life. Is there, or is there not, some great and lamentable defect in that image, marring both the truth and beauty of the repre

sentation? We think there is—and that it lies in his Religion.

In none of Wordsworth's poetry, previous to his “ Excursion," is there any allusion made, except of the most trivial and transient kind, to Revealed Religion. He certainly cannot be called a Christian poet. The hopes that lie beyond the grave—and the many holy and awful feelings in which on earth these hopes are enshrined and fed, are rarely if ever part of the character of any of the persons—male or female-old or youngbrought before us in his beautiful Pastorals. Yet all the most interesting and affecting ongoings of this life are exquisitely delineated—and innumerable of course are the occasions on which, had the thoughts and feelings of revealed religion been in Wordsworth’s heart during the hours of inspiration and he often bas written like a man inspired--they must have found expression in his strains; and the personages, humble or high, that figure in his representations, would have been, in their joys or their sorrows, their temptations and their trials, Christians. But most assuredly this is not the case; the religion of this great Poet—in all his poetry published previous to the “ Excursion"—is but the

Religion of the Woods.”

In the “ Excursion,” his religion is brought forwardprominently and conspicuously—in many elaborate dialogues between Priest, Pedlar, Poet, and Solitary. And a very high religion it often is; but is it Christianity ? No- it is not. There are glimpses given of some of the Christian doctrines; just as if the various philosophical

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