Page images
PDF
EPUB

which the two first have been publithed in London. This part may be divided into four heads. The first contains the proofs of revelation, drawn from its moral design, from the authority assumed by our Saviour, from his precepts respecting morals, and from his doctrine of a resurrection. Under the second head the principles and evidence of the Christian and Mohammedan systems are centrafted. The third head vindicates the genuineness of the book of Daniel and his prophetic character ; and, under the fourth, are considered the prophecies concerning Antichrist. Of these heads the first gave us the greatest satisfaction. The second head has of late years been a favourite topic ; but, in this country or in America, it is not worthy of so much discussion; for no one is interested in the defence of the Koran, or is likely to become a convert to Islamism. The defects and absurdities of that system are obvious to the most illiterate Christians; and the introduction of so many anecdotes from the Arabian history, and of so many paffages from the Koran, may be deemed fuperfluous. Under the two other heads there is little no. velty. The downfall of the papacy feems to have been produced in a very different manner from that which was prognosticated by most of the commentators on prophecy; and the next generation may perhaps find it expedient to invent or adopt a different key to unlock the mysteries of revelation.

Our author falls into the general opinion of the increase of infidelity in these times. This persuasion rests on the great increase of infidel writers, and the greater liberties taken by thern in attacking Christianity; but this may only prove that the anti-christian spirit of suppressing the arguments of an adversary by force, and the finister influence which, under the pretext of defending religion, violated the precepts of Christ and his apostles, are gradually declining. It does not follow that infidels are more numerous, because they profess their opinions more openly.

To those who have perused the two first volumes, the present will be a pleasing acquisition ; and the first part of these discourses will, from the subject and the manner of treating it, be highly interesting to serious readers.

[ocr errors]

Lyrical Ballads, with a few other Poems. Small 8vo.' 55.

Boards. Arch. 1798. THE majority of these poems, we are informed in the advertisement, are to be considered as experiments.

• They were written chiefly with a view to afcertain how far

the language of conversation in the middle and lower classes of fociety is adapted to the purposes of poetic pleasure. P. i.

Of these experimental poems, the most important is the Idiot Boy, the story of which is simply this. Betty Foy's neighbour Susan Gale is indispofed; and no one can conveniently be sent for the doctor but Betty's idiot boy. She therefore puts him upon her poney, at eight o'clock in the evening, gives him proper directions, and returns to take care of her fick neighbour. Jolinny is expected with the doctor by eleven ; but the clock strikes eleven, and twelve, and one, without the appearance either of Johnny or the dactor. Betty's restless fears become insupportable ; and she now leaves her friend to look for her idiot fon. She goes to the doctor's house, but hears nothing of Johnny. About five o'clock, however, she finds him fitting quietly upon his feeding poney. As they go home they meet old Susan, whose apprehensions have cured her, and brought her out to seek them; and they all return merrily together.

Upon this subject the author has written nearly five hundred lines. With what fpirit the story is told, our extract will evince.

• Oh reader ! now that I might tell
What Johnny and his horse are doing !
What they've been doing all this time,
Oh could I put it into rhyme,
A most delightful tale pursuing!
Perhaps, and no unlikely thought !
He with his pony now doth roam
The cliffs and peaks so high that are,
To lay his hands upon a star,
And in his pocket bring it home.
Perhaps he's turned himself about,
His face unto his horse's tail,
And still and mute, in wonder loft,
All like a filent horseman.ghost,
He travels on along the vale.
And now, perhaps, he's hunting sheep,
A fierce and dreadful hunter he !
Yon valley, that's so trim and green, ,
In five months' time, thould he be seen,
A defart wilderness will be.
Perhaps, with head and heels on fire,
And like the very foul of evil,
He's galloping away, away,
And so he'll gallop on for

aye,
The bape of all that dread the devil.

1

I to the muses have been bound,
These fourteen years, by strong indentures;
Oh gentle muses ! let me tell
But half of what to him befel,
For sure he met with strange adventures.
Oh gentle muses! is this kind ?
Why will ye thus my fuit repel ?
Why of

your

further aid bereave me? And can ye thus unfriended leave me? Ye muses! whom I love so well. Who's yon, that, near the waterfall, Which thunders down with headlong force, Beneath the moon, yet shining fair, As careless as if nothing were, Sits upright on a feeding horse? Unto his horse, that's feeding free, He seems, I think, the rein to give; Of moon or stars he takes no heed; Of such we in romances read, -'Tis Johnny! Johnny! as I live. And that's the very pony too. Where is she, where is Betty Foy? She hardly can fuftain her fears; The roaring water fall the hears, And cannot find her idiot boy. Your pony's worth his weight in gold, Then calm your terrors, Betty Foy! She's coming from among And now, all full in view, she fees Him whom she loves, her idiot boy. And Betty fees the pony too ; Why stand you thus good Betty Foy? It is no goblin, 'tis no ghoft, 'Tis he whom you so long have loft, He whom you love, your idiot boy, She looks again--her arís are upShe screams he cannot move for joy ; She darts as with a torrent's force, She almost has o'ertúrned the horse, And fast she holds her idiot boy. And Johnny burrs and laughs aloud, Whether in cunning or in joy, I cannot tell; but while he laughs, Betty a drunken pleasure quaffs, To hear again her idiot boy.

the trees,

And now she's at the pony's tail,
And now she's at the pony's head,
On that fide now, and now on this,
And almost ftifled with her bliss,
A few fad tears does Betty shed.
She kisses o'er and o'er again,
Him whom she loves, her idiot boy,
She's happy here, she's happy there,
She is uneafy every where ;

Her limbs are all alive with joy.' P. 170. No tale less deserved the labour that appears to have been bestowed upon this. It resembles a Flemish picture in the worthleffness of its design and the excellence of its execution, From Flemish artists we are satisfied with such pieces : who would not have lamented, if Corregio or Rafaelle had wasted their talents in painting Dutch boors or the humours of a Flemish wake?

The other ballads of this kind are as bald in story, and are not so highly embellished in narration. With that which is entitled the Thorn, we were altogether displeafed. The advertisement says, it is not told in the person of the author, but in that of some loquacious narrator. The author should have recollected that he who personates tirefome loquacity, becomes tiresome himself. The story of a man who suffers the perpetual pain of cold, because an old woman prayed that he never might be warm, is perhaps a good fory for a ballad, because it is a well-known tale: but is the author certain that it is well authenticated ? and does not such an affertion

promote the popular superstition of witchcraft?

In a very different style of poetry, is the Rime of the Ancyent Marinere ; a ballad (says the advertisement) profeffedly written in imitation of the style, as well as of the spirit of the elder poets. We are tolerably conversant with the early English poets; and can discover no resemblance whatever, except in antiquated spelling and a few obsolete words. This piece appears to us perfectly original in style as well as in story. Many of the stanzas are laboriously beautiful ; but in connection they are absurd or unintelligible. Our readers may exercise their ingenuity in attempting to unriddle what follows.

The roaring wind ! it roar'd far off,

It did not come anear ;
But with its found it shook the fails

That were fo thin and sere,
The upper air bursts into life,

And a hundred fire-nags Theen

To and fro they are hurried about ;
And to and fro, and in and out

The stars dance on between.
The coming wind doth roar more loud;

The fails do figh, like fedge :
The rain pours down from one black cloud,

And the moon is at its edge.
Hark! hark! the thick black cloud is cleft,

And the moon is at its fide :
Like waters shot from some high crag,
The lightning falls with never a jag

A river steep and wide.
The strong wind reach'd the ship : it roar'd

And dropp'd down, like a stone!
Beneath the lightning and the moon

The dead men gave a groan,' P. 27.
We do not fufficienily understand the story to analyse it.
It is a Dutch attempt at German fublimity. Genius has here
been employed in producing a poem of little merit.

With pleasure we turn to the serious pieces, the better part of the volume. The Foster-Mother's Tale is in the best style of dramatic narrative. The Dungeon, and the Lines upon the Yew-tree Seat, are beautiful. The Tale of the Female Vagrant is written in the stanza, not the style, of Spenser. We extract a part of this poem.

“ 'Twas a hard change, an evil time was come;
We had no hope, and no relief could gain.
But foon, with proud parade, the noisy drum
Beat round, to sweep the streets of want and pain,
My husband's arms now only served to strain
Me and his children hungering in his view:
In such dismay my prayers and tears were vain:

To join those miserable men he flew;
And now to the sea.coast, with numbers more, we drew,
There foul neglect for months and months we bore,
Nor
yet

the crowded fleet its anchor stirred.
Green fields before us and our native shore,
By fever, from polluted air incurred,
Ravage was made, for which no knell was heard.
Fondly we wilhed, and wished away, nor knew,
'Mid that long sickness, and those hopes deferr’d,
That happier days we never more must view :

The parting lignal streamed, at lait the land withdrew, CRIT. Rey. VOL. XXIV. 02. 1798.

P

« PreviousContinue »