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Here we cut short the description of these unmanageable fists, as the author ought to have done; but the thought was so good, that he could not resist the temptation of spoiling it in six more lines. In this part, if we pardon the wedding scene, we must condemn the three similes of Old Hodge' and his 'Dame:' they are as sickening as the subject, on which the author seems to dwell with detestable delight.-The story of Phoebe Dawson deserves the applause which has been bestowed upon it by former critics: but the most affecting circumstance connected with it, we learn from the preface,―it was read to the late Mr. Fox on his death-bed, and was the last composition of the kind that engaged and amused the capacious, the candid, the benevolent mind of this great man.'

The third part, Burials,' is, in our estimation, the most curious and valuable. The portraits are painted from life in death; when man appears what he is. And how does he generally appear in this Christian land? Let us hear a ministe. of the Church, who has had long and ample experience..

"What I behold, are feverish fits of strife,
"Twixt fears of dying and desire of life;
Those earthly hopes, that to the last endure:
Those fears, that hopes superior fail to cure;
At best, that sad submission to the doom,
That, turning from the danger, lets it come.

Sick lies the man, bewilder'd, lost, afraid,
His spirits vanquish'd and his strength decay'd;
No hope the friend, the nurse, the doctor, lend
"Call then a priest, and fit him for his end;
A priest is call'd, 'tis now, alas! too late,
Death enters with him, at the cottage gate;
Or time allow'd-he goes, assur'd to find,
The self-commending, all-confiding mind;
And sighs to hear, what we may justly call,
Death's common-place, the train of thought in all.
"True, I'm a sinner," feebly he begins-
"But trust in Mercy, to forgive my sins;"
(Such cool confession no past Crimes excite!
Such claim on mercy, as a sinner's Right!)
"I know, mankind are frail, that God is good,
«And, none have liv'd, as wisdom wills they should;
"We're sorely tempted, in a world like this,
"All men have done, and I, like all, amiss;
"But now, if spar'd, it is my full intent,
"To think about beginning to repent:
"Wrongs against me, I pardon, great and small,
"And if I die, I die in peace with all."

His merits thus and not his sins confest,

He speaks his hopes, and leaves to heav'n the rest.' pp. 96, 97. We are compelled reluctantly to pass over this striking description, without entering into a minute examination of


its parts, all of which are most fearfully interesting. In the whole course of our reading, we never met with a phrase that chilled us with such horror, as one that occurs in the 16th line- Death's common-place! And is there indeed a common-place train of thought in death? and is this which our author has given, the faithful expression of it? There is, and this is the faithful expression of it! What reader will not exclaim, Who then can be saved?' or rather, How shall we escape We live but from pulse to pulse, from breath to breath; our time is only a series of moments; one of these will be the last ;-eternity is bound up in it! ought not all the rest to be employed in preparing to meet it? that when Death shall break the seal of that moment, we may be ready to seize the prize of immortality, which, missed then, is lost for ever! There is an inimitable conversation-scene in Cowper's poem on Hope, beginning,

• Adieu, Vinosa cries, ere yet he sips

The purple bumper trembling at his lips," &c.

by which it would appear, that such sentiments as Mr. Crabbe hears from the lips of dying men, are equally the commonplace train of thought among the living. It will be well worth the reader's while to compare the two passages together; and he will at the same time discover the difference and resemblance between the two poets, each in his happiest vein.

In the lines succeeding the above quotation, p. 98,-in the character of his favourite Isaac Ashford, p. 113,-in his Youth from Cambridge, p. 130,-and in his Sir Eustace Grey, p. 232, Mr. Crabbe takes special care to mark his abhorrence of sectaries and enthusiasts. We will only make one remark on this were he better acquainted with those whom he despises and reprobates, he would find less of 'Death's common-place,' and more of the joy that springs from pardoning love' (p. 98) among them, in their last hours, than he finds in his poetical parish; for we trust that in his rectorial parish, his precepts and example, bis fervid zeal and holy faithfulness, induce many, if not all, of his flock, to choose the narrow way? that leads to eternal life.

That all our extracts from this singular poem may not be coarse and gloomy, we will copy the conclusion of Isaac Ashford's character, which is very natural, and mournfully pleasing.

At length, he found, when seventy years were run,
His strength departed and his labour done;

His honest fame he yet retain'd; no more;
His wife was buried, and his children poor;

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Twas then a spark of say not discontent→→→→
Struck on his mind, and thus he gave it vent :-
"Kind are your laws, ('tis not to be denied,)
"That in yon house, for ruin'd age, provide,
"And just, as kind; when young, we give you all,
"And then for comforts in our weakness call.-
Why then this proud reluctance to be fed,
"To join your poor, and eat the parish-bread?
"But yet I linger, loath with him to live,
"Who, while he feeds me, is as loath to give;
"He who, by contract, all your paupers took,
"And guages stomachs, with an anxious look;
"On some old master, I could well depend;

See him with joy, and thank him as a friend;
"But ill on him, who doles the day's supply,
"And counts our chances, who at night may die:
"Yet help me, heaven! to mourn my lot, is vain;
"Mine it is not to choose, but to sustain."

'Such were his thoughts, and so resign'd he grew
Daily he plac'd the workhouse in his view;-
But came not there, for sudden was his fate,
He dropp'd expiring, at his cottage-gate.

I feel his absence in the hours of prayer,
And view his seat, and sigh for ISAAC there;
I see no more those white locks thinly spread;
Round the bald polish of that honour'd head;
No more that aweful glance, on playful wight
Compell'd to kneel and tremble at the sight;
To fold his fingers all in dread the while,
Till Mister ASHFORD Soften'd to a smile;
No more that meek, that suppliant look in prayer,
Nor that pure Faith, that gave it force-are there:
But he is blest, and I lament no more,

A wise good Man contented to be poor.' pp. 113, 114.

The poem of Sir Eustace Grey presents a dreadful delineation of the woes and wanderings of a distracted mind. There are some very fine strokes of nature and truth in it, that display the author's profound knowledge of the human heart in its unconverted state. Of conversion he manifests his ignorance only; or else, if he knows what it is, he does not tell. The change wrought in the mind of the insane Sir Eustace, by a methodistic call,' when 'a sober and rational conversion could not have happened' to him, is either the greatest miracle or the greatest absurdity that we ever read of even in verse. We have not room to expose the contradiction involved in this monstrous story.

The Hall of Justice' is a tale of excessive horror and abomination; there is a great deal of vigour, but very little poetry in it. We leave the few other pieces to their fortune. Vol. V.


Art. VI. An Inquiry into the State of National Subsistence, as connected with the Progress of Wealth and Population. By W. T. Comber. 8vo. pp. 389. Price 9s. Cadell and Davies, 1808.

THE laws of production, and the rules which ought to di


rect commerce, in regard to the means of subsistence, form a part of political economy, which fewer persons as yet understand, than almost any other branch of that important science. The great doctrine of freedom is now tolerably well comprehended, in all other departments of trade; it is allowed that the natural and beneficent effects of competition necessarily establish things on the best possible foundation; and that all interference on the part of governments tends only to disorder and injury. But this doctrine is by no means universally or generally admitted, in regard to the means of subsistence. There are some striking appearances, which at first view seem to distinguish the means of subsistence from ordinary commodities, and to constitute them a species by themselves. It is not a matter of choice, with the consumer of this species of commodities, whether he shall buy them or not. A certain portion of them he must have, and he will give all that he possesses in the world rather than not obtain it. Of all other commodities a man is, in a great measure, the master of his own demand. He may be willing to purchase any given quantity up to a certain enhancement of price, but there is a point at which he will stop. No such point however exists in regard to the necessaries of life; and consequently no limit is set to the possible augmentation of their price. Further; in all other commodities, the demand of the consumer admits of a certain delay. He can postpone his satisfaction: if he is of opinion that the price is unreasonably high, and that the dealers will, if he exercise a little patience, be soon obliged to moderate their demands, he restrains for a season his impulse to buy, and by this means affords time for competition to produce its effects, and reduce the commodity which he wants to its due and natural price. As to the necessaries of life, however, the case is totally different. Here the demand of the consumer admits of no delay; he cannot here postpone his gratification in hopes that the price will fall. In this situation the natural effects of competition may be anticipated; prices may rise to any extravagance beyond the just and necessary point, and one part of the community may thus perniciously prey upon the rest. Nor is this all; the effects attending a failure of supply in the necessaries of life, are among the most dreadful which can attack human society. When other commodities, even those which are most highly useful, become deficient, inconve ience, more or less, is the only consequence. When bread

becomes deficient, the people must die; society loses its members: misery, excruciating to behold, overspreads the community. Other effects succeed. A body of men, desperate for want of food, is a troop of wild beasts. By what terrors can you restrain men from seizing whatever they behold, who are pushed forward upon you by the "king of terrors" himself in his most terrific shape? Society is now torn up from the foundation, anarchy succeeds, the law of the strongest only prevails, and men tear each other to pieces. The view of these dreadful consequences has tended greatly to embarrass the thoughts of ordinary men on this subject; and has very generally impressed the opinion, that a concern of this unspeakable importance ought not to be left to itself, or to the course of nature, which they are very apt to regard as chance; but that it ought to form a very particular part of the care of government, and be put under regulations which may exclude the possibility of such direful


Since the publication of the work of Adam Smith, who made no exception of the necessaries of life from his general rule of freedom in regard to the production and traffic of all commodities, this has been regarded by many persons as one of the points on which he erred. Our legislature have proceeded upon this supposition, and under the influence of the landed nobility and gentry, who predominate in our legislative body, have made regulations, ostensibly, and no doubt intentionally, for the more secure supply of the necessaries of life, but in reality, and many would say quite as intentionally on the part of the landholders, to enhance the price of the necessaries of life, and the rent of land.

The question of policy, therefore, existing on this subject, has remained undecided. The philosophers, on the one hand, have insisted on the doctrine of freedom; they have maintained that the evils which are apprehended, and which afford the pretext for legislative officiousness and mercenary interference, can only find their real, or at least their best security, in that freedom which vulgar fears and vulgar interests would impair. The legislators, on the other hand, have stigmatized all this as mere speculation; assuring us that we were very much indebted to them for taking so much better care of us, than they would have done in listening to the philosophers.

Since the publication of the celebrated work of Mr. Malthus, in which such wonderful conclusions were drawn from the acknowledged relation between population and the means. of subsistence, another question has arisen in regard to the laws of production concerning this peculiar class of commo

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