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this col palpabling, hothan from notion sagaciousere
imagery. This, we own, is a somewhat vague description, and contains little in it to distinguish him from many other poets of his class, all bearing the same family face. There is, in fact, little distinction among them. Our sagacious readers, however, will be able to form a better notion of Dr. Beaumont from the subjoined extracts, than from any thing we could say. In " Psyche" every thing, however slight in itself, is presented in a lively and palpable form. Minute touches are beyond his art, but his colours are gorgeous and glowing, and his figures, though rudely drawn, stand out distinct and striking. His power of language is considerable, and frequently comes in aid of deficient matter.* He had his full share in the prevailing rage for uncommon and far-fetched combinations of ideas, called, in the language of criticism, conceits; that propensity which marred the happy genius of Cowley, and which the sturdy intellect of Donne, unable to escape, contented itself with bending to its own purposes. Such an inclination was not likely to starve for want of food, in so fertile a brain as Beaumont's. Accordingly, his poem is, full of the most fantastic conceptions, both in the way of occasional metaphor and detailed allegory; although the gravity of his subject preserves him from falling into the extreme absurdities of some of his contemporaries, and religious passion gives to his conceits a life and meaning of which they would otherwise be destitute. The allegorical fancy-pieces, above alluded to, are among the most elaborate parts of the poem. They are, in general, personifications of evil passions, such as are common in most of our old narrative poets; a species of portrait, of which Ovid, in his description of Envy and Famine, supplied the idea, and Sackville, in his Induction, the immediate model. Those who remember the picture of Cruelty, in Crashaw's translation of Marino, may form a tolerable notion of Dr. Beaumont's style of delineating these subjects. He delights in heaping together images of terror and disgust, and tasks his invention for additional circumstances of deformity. It was among the peculiarities of his school of religionists, not merely to draw a broad and indelible distinction between moral good and evil (a distinction which must exist under every form of religion worthy of the name) but to inculcate the doctrine of a mysterious union between moral and physical good, and vice versa. Hence, the strong and decisive colours which writers of this class employ, when they embody their conceptions, whether of
* Pope's remark on “ Psyche” is exceedingly characteristic of its author, “There are in it a great many flowers well worth gathering, and a man who has the art of stealing wisely will find his account in reading it.”
good or evil, in a visible shape. Milton is cited as an example of the contrary tendency; nor can these remarks be better illustrated than by a comparison of Milton's hell, as well as of his Satan, with that of Dante. To Dr. Beaumont, of course, the above observations apply in all their force. With him, whatever is evil, is evil in every way, and in all degrees. We are reminded of the good and bad man in the story-books; or of Swedenborg's definition of hell, as what this earth would be, if all moral good were withdrawn from it, and the evil left to putrefy; or of the sublime conception, on the same subject, in Marlow's Faustus,
when all the world dissolves,
The most striking instance of this, is the picture of Heresy, in the eighteenth canto, stanza clxxxv. a piece of combined horror and loathsomeness, too disgusting to be quoted here, and which might be supposed the joint production of Dante and Dean Swift.
Our readers, probably, think that we have allotted a disproportionate space to the discussion of Beaumont's merits, and it is not impossible that they may consider us equally unconscionable in the quantity of our extracts. It ought, however, to be recollected, that they are made from a poem of forty thousand lines, and which, from the peculiar cast of the author's talent, abounds with producible passages. · The poem opens with a grand infernal council, in which Satan proclaims his designs against Psyche, and arranges the entire plan of the campaign. We quote the description of the infernal palace and its lord.
“Hell's Court is built deep in a gloomy vale,
With all envenom'd herbs and trees, more 'rank
And fruitless than on Asphaltite's bank.
Them by a summoning hiss, haste down her throat
The hall was roof?d with everlasting Pride,
A crowned dragon, gules, in sable field.
His mace, on which ten thousand serpents knit,
His awful horns above his crown did rise,
Two comets staring in their bloody stream,
Two beacons boiling in their pitch and flame.
His grizly beard a sing'd confession made
Which, as he op'd, the centre, on whose back
Their awed mouths : the silent peers, in fear,
Hung down their tails, and on their Lord did stare."
Phylax, by way of preparative against the attacks of sensual temptation, relates to his charge the history of 'Joseph. Joseph's dream is told with much fancy.
“When this last night had sealed up mine eyes,
And trimm'd with every star; on his soft wing
A nimble vision me did thither bring.
Here, rain is bottled up; there, hail is cast
There, furnaces of lightning burn, and those
Hence tow'r'd I to a dainty world': the air
The earth was shrunk so small, methought I read,
By that due prospect, what it was indeed.
Fire could have been so mild ; but, surely, here
It rageth, 'cause we keep it from its sphere. There, reverend sire, it flam’d, but with as sweet An ardency as in your noble heart That heavenly zeal doth burn, whose fostering heat. Makes you Heaven's living holocaust: no part
Of my dream's tender wing felt any harm;
Our journey, not the fire, did keep us warm.
As in its place : for liquid crystal here
Was the tralucid matter of each sphere.
To which a schedule was annex’d, which o'er
Now, complimental Mercury was come
Of points and lines; and nimble wit beside
Next Venus' face, heaven's joy and sweetest pride,
And those all chaste : 'tis this foul world below
Then rapt to Phoebus' orb, all pav'd with gold,
What life, what verdure, what heroic might,
What pearly spirits, what sons of active light.
Yea, engines there to vomit fire I saw,
Nay, in a corner, 'twas my hap to spy
Lest I should should start and wake upon the fright,
Welcome was Jupiter's dominion, where
No mitre ever priest's grave head shall crown,
At length, we found old Saturn in his bed;
Where Discontent, and Sickness dwellers be,
Hasting from hence into a boundless field,