Page images


[ocr errors]

sity'--the pride that burns amidst the rains of their divine natures, and their genius, that feels with the of the work, we cannot pretend to give any

Of the Specimens, which compose the body ardour and debates with the eloquence of heaven."

account. They are themselves but tiny and pp. 242, 247.

slender fragments of the works from which We have already said, that we think Shir- they are taken; and to abridge them further ley overpraised - but he is praised with great would be to reduce them to mere dust and eloquence. There is but little said of Dryden rubbish. Besides, we are not called upon to in the Essay—but it is said with force and review the poets of England for the last four with judgment. In speaking of Pope and his hundred years !—but only the present editor contemporaries, Mr. C. touches on debateable and critic. In the little we have yet to say; ground: And we shall close our quotations therefore, we shall treat only of the merits of from this part of his work, with the passage Mr. Campbell. His account of Hall and Chamin which he announces his own indulgent, and, berlayn is what struck us most in his first perhaps, latitudinarian opinions.

volumes-probably because neither of the

writers whom he so judiciously praises were There are exclusionists in taste, who think that formerly familiar to us. Hall, who was the they cannot speak with sufficient disparagement of founder of our satirical poetry, wrote his satires the English poets of the first part of the eighteenth about the year 1597, when only twenty-three century; and they are armed with a noble tive to English contempt, when they have it to say years old ; and whether we consider the age chat those poets belong to a French school. Indeed of the man or of the world, they appear to us Dryden himself is generally included in that school; equally wonderful. In this extraordinary work, though more genuine English is to be found in no man's pages. But in poetry 'there are many man

“He discovered," says Mr. C. “ not only the sions.' Tam free to confess, that I can pass from early vigour of his own genius, but the power and the elder writers, and still find a charm in the cor- pliability of his native tongue: for in the point, and rect and equable sweetness of Parnell. Conscious volubility and vigour of Hall's numbers, we might that his diction has not the freedom and volubility frequently imagine ourselves perusing Dryden. of the better strains of the elder time, I cannot but This may be exemplified in the harmony and pic. remark his exemption from the quaintness and false uresqueness of the following description of a magnif, metaphor which so often disfigure the style of the icent rural mansion, which the traveller approaches preceding, age; nor deny my respect to the select in the hopes of reaching the seat of ancient hospi. choice of his expression, the clearness and keeping tality, but finds it deserted by its selfish owner. of his imagery, and the pensive dignity of his moral Beat the broad gates, a goodly hollow sound, feeling,

With double echoes, doth again rebound; **Pope gave our heroic couplet its strictest me. But not a dog doth bark to welcome thee, lody and tersest expression.

Nor churlish porter canst thou chafing see. D'un mot mis en sa place il enseigne le pouvoir. All dumb and silent, like the dead of night, If his contemporaries forgot other poets in admiring The marble pavement hid with desert weed,

Or dwelling of some sleepy Sybarite; him, let him not be robbed of his just fame on pre- With house.leek, thistle, dock, and hemlock seed. tence that a part of it was superfluous. The public ear was long fatigued with repetitions of his manner; but if we place ourselves in the situation of Look to the tow'red chimnies, which should be those to whom his brilliancy, succinctness and ani. The wind-pipes of good hospitality, mation were wholly new, we cannot wonder at Through which it breatheth to the open air, their being captivated to the fondest admiration. Betokening life and liberal welfare, In order to do justice to Pope, we should forget Lo, there th' unthankful swallow takes her rest, his imitators, if that were possible; but it is easier

And fills the tunnel with her circled nest. to remember than to forget by an effort-o acquire “His satires are neither cramped by personal hosassociations than to shake ihem off. Every one tility, nor spun out to vague declamations on vice : may recullect how often the most beautiful air has but give us the form and pressure of the times, expalled upon his ear, and grown insipid, from being hibited in the faults of coeval literature, and in the played or sung by vulgar musicians. It is the same foppery or sordid traits of prevailing manners. The thing with regard to Pope's versification. That his age was undoubtedly fertile in eccentricity.” peculiar rhythm and manner are the very best in

Vol. ii. pp. 257, 258. the whole range of our poetry need not be asserted. He has a gracefully peculiar manner, though it is What he says of Chamberlayn, and the exnot calculated to be an universal one ; and where, tracts he has made from his Pharonnida, have indeed, shall we find the style of poetry that could made us quite impatient for an opportunity of Þe pronounced an exclusive model for every composer! His pauses have little variety, and his perusing the whole poem. phrases are too much weighed in the balance of The poetical merits of Ben Jonson are antithesis. But let us look to the spirit that points chiefly discussed in the Essay; and the No. bis antithesis, and to the rapid precision of his tice is principally biographical. It is very thoughts

, and we shall forgive him for being too pleasingly written though with an affectionate antithetic and sententious."'-pp. 259–262.

leaning towards his hero. The following short And to this is subjoined a long argument, to passage affords a fair specimen of the good show that Mr. Bowles is mistaken in suppos- sense and good temper of all Mr. Campbell's ing that a poet should always draw his images apologies. from the works of nature, and not from those “ The poet's journey to Scotland (1617) awakens of art. We have no room at present for any many pleasing recollections, when we conceive him discussion of the question; but we do not anticipating his welcome among a people who might think it is quite fairly stated in the passage to be proud of a share in his ancestry, and setting out, which we have referred; and confess that we miles, on foot. We are assured, by one who saw

with manly strength, on a journey of four hundred are rather inclined, on the whole, to adhere to him in Scotland, that he was treated with respect the creed of Mr. Bowles.

and affection among the nobility and gentry ; nor


[ocr errors]


was the romantic scenery of the country lost upon made his heir. It has been said, that this bequest his fancy. From the poem which he meditated on was in consequence of his finding the young man Lochlomond, it is seen that he looked on it with a disposed to lend him a sum of money at a time poet's eye. But, unhappily, the meagre anecdotes when he thought proper to feign pecuniary distress, of Drummond have made ihis event of his life too in order that he might discover the sincerity of prominent, by the over-importance which has been those calling themselves his friends. Thomas Da. attached to them. Drummond, a smooth and sober vies, his biographer and editor, professes to have gentleman, seems to have disliked Jonson's indul, got ihis anecdote from a surviving partner of Lillo. gence in that conviviality which Ben had shared li bears, however, an intrinsic air of improbability. with his Fletcher and Shakespeare at the Mermaid. It is not usual for sensible tradesmen to affect be. In consequence of those anecdoies, Jonson's mem- ing on the verge of bankruptcy; and Lillo's char. ory has been damned for brutality, and Drum- acier was that of an uncommonly sensible man. mond's for perfidy. Jonson drank freely at Haw. Fielding, his intimate friend, ascribes to him a thornden, and talked big-things neither incredible manly simplicity of mind, that is extremely unlike nor unpardonable. Drummond's perfidy amounted such a stratagem. to writing a letter, beginning Sir, with one very “Lillo is the tragic poet of middling and familiar kind sentence in it, to ihe man whom he had de- life. Instead of heroes from romance and history, scribed unfavourably in a private memorandum, he gives the merchant and his apprentice; and the which he never meant for publication. As to Drum- Macbeth of his ' Fatal Curiosity' is a private genmond's decoying Jonson under his roof with any tleman, who has been reduced by his poveriy to premeditated design on his reputation, no one can dispose of his copy of Seneca for a morsel of bread. seriously believe it."'--Vol. iii. pp. 150, 151. The mind will be apt, after reading his works, to

suggest to itself the question, how far the graver The notice of Cotton may be quoted, as a drama would gain or lose by a more general adopperfect model for such slight memorials of ion of this plebeian principle. The cares, it may writers of the middle order.

be said, that are most familiar to our existence, and

the distresses of those nearest to ourselves in situa“ There is a careless and happy humour in this tion, ought to lay the strongest hold upon our sympoet's Voyage to Ireland, which seems to anticipate pathies; and the general mass of society ought to ihe manner of Anstey, in the Bath Guide. The furnish a more express image of man than any detasteless indelicacy of his parody of the Eneid has tached or elevated portion of the species. But, found but too many admirers. His imitations of notwithstanding the power of Lillo's works, we Lucian betray the grossest misconception of humor. entirely miss in them that romantic attraction which ous effect, when he attempts 10 burlesque that invites 10 repeated perusal of them. They give us which is ludicrous already. He was acquainted life in a close and dreadful semblance of reality, with French and Italian; and among several works but not arrayed in the magic illusion of poetry. His from the former language, translated the Horace of strength lies in conception of situations, not in Corneille, and Montaigne's Essays.

beauty of dialogue, or in the eloquence of the pas. “ The father of Corton is described by Lord Cla- sions. Yet the effect of his plain and homely subrendon as an accomplished and honourable man, jects was so strikingly superior to that of the vapid who was driven by domestic afflictions to habits and heroic productions of the day, as to induce which rendered his age less reverenced than his some of his contemporary admirers to pronounce, youth, and made his best friends wish that he had that he had reached the acme of dramatic excel. not lived so long. From him our poet inherited an lence, and struck into the best and most genuine incumbered estate, with a disposition to extrava. path of tragedy. George Barnwell, it was observed, gance little calculated to improve it. After having drew more tears than the rants of Alexander. This studied at Cambridge, and returned from his travels might be true; but it did not bring the comparison abroad, he married the daughter of Sir Thomas of humble and heroic subjects to a fair test ; for the Owihorp, in Nottinghamshire. He went to Ireland tragedy of Alexander is bad, not from its subject, as a captain in the army; but of his military pro- but from the incapacity of the poet who composed gress nothing is recorded. Having embraced the it. It does not prove ihat heroes, drawn from his. soldier's life merely as a shift in distress, he was tory or romance, are not at least as susceptible of not likely to pursue it with much ambition. It was high and poetical effect, as a wicked apprentice, or probably in Ireland that he met with his second wife, a distressed gentleman pawning his moveables. It Mary, Countess. Dowager of Ardglass, the widow is a different question whether Lillo has given to his of Lord Cornwall. She had a jointure of 15001. a subjects from private life, the degree of beauty of year, secured from his imprudent management. which they are susceptible. He is a master of terHe died insolvent, at Wesiminster. One of his rific, but not of tender impressions. We feel a favourite recreations was angling; and his house, harshness and gloom in his genius, even while we which was situated on the Dovs, a fine trout stream are compelled to admire its force and originality. which divides the counties of Derby and Stafford, “ The peculiar choice of his subjects was, at all was the frequent resort of his friend Isaac Walton events, happy and commendable, as far as it reThere he built a fishing house, ' Piscatoribus sa garded himself; for his talents never succeeded so crum,' with the initials of honest Isaac's name and well when he ventured out of them. But it is his own united in ciphers over the door. The walls another question, whether the familiar cast of those were painted with fishing-scenes, and the portraits subjects was fitted to constitute a more genuine, of Cotton and Walton were upon the beaufet.or only a subordinate walk in tragedy. Undoubt.

pp. 293, 294. edly the genuine delineation of the human heart There is a very beautiful and affectionate stances of life it is derived : and, in the simple

will please us, from whatever station or circumaccount of Parnell.—But there is more power pathos of tragedy, probably very little difference of writing, and more depth and delicacy of will be felt from the choice of characters being feeling, in the following masterly account and pitched above or below the line of mediocrity in estimate of Lillo.

station. But something more than pathos is re

quired in iragedy; and the very pain that attends George Lillo, was the son of a Duich jeweller, our sympathy, would seem to require agreeable who married an English woman, and settled in Lon and romantic associations of the fancy to be blended don. Our poet was born near Moorfields, was bred with its poignancy. Whatever attaches ideas of to his father's business, and followed it for many importance, publicity, and elevation to the object years. The story of his dying in distress was a of pily, forms a brightening and alluring medium fiction of Hammond, the poet; for he bequeathed a to ihe imagination. Athens herself, wiih all her considerable property to his nephew, whom he simplicity and democracy, delighted on the stage 10

'Let gorgeous Tragedy

us by its unwieldy difference from the common cosIn scepter'd pall come sweeping by.'

lume of expression."'--pp. 215—218. “Even situations far depressed beneath the famil. There is the same delicacy of taste, and tar mediocrity of life, are more picturesque and beauty of writing, in the following remarks poetical than its ordinary level. It is certainly on the virtues of the middling rank of life, that the on Collins--though we think the Specimens strength and comforts of society chiefly depend, in afterwards given from this exquisite poet are the same way as we look for the harvest, not on rather niggardly. cliffs and precipices, but on the easy slope and the uniform plain. But the painter does not in general

“ Collins published his Oriental Eclogues while fix on level countries for the subjects of his noblest at college, and his lyrical poetry at the age of landscapes. There is an analogy, I conceive, to with whatever Milton wrote under the age of thirty.

twenty-six. Those works will abide comparison this in the moral painting of tragedy. Disparities If they have rather less exuberant wealth of genuis, of station give it boldness of outline. The com- they exhibit more exquisite touches of pathos. manding situations of life are its mountain scenery Like Milion, he leads us into the haunted ground

- he region where its storm and sunshine may be portrayed in their strongest contrast and colouring." of imagination ; like him, he has the rich economy

Vol. v. pp. 58–62.

of expression haloed with thought, which by single

or few words often hints entire pictures to the imagiNothing, we think, can be more exquisite nation. In what short and simple terms, for inthan this criticism,-though we are far from stance,

does he open a wide and majestic landscape being entire converts to its doctrines; and are mond or Snowden-when he speaks of the hut

to the mind, such as we might view from Benlo. moreover of opinion, that the merits of Lillo,

That from some mountain's side as a poet at least, are considerably overrated.

Views wilds and swelling floods.' There is a flatness and a weakness in his dic. And in the line, 'Where faint and sickly winds tion, that we think must have struck Mr. C. for ever howl around,' he does not seem merely to more than he has acknowledged,--and a tone, describe the sultry desert, but brings it home to the occasionally, both of vulgarity and of paltry senses. affectation, that counteracts the pathetic effect " A cloud of obscurity sometimes rests on his of his conceptions, and does injustice to the highest conceptions, arising from the fineness of his

associations, and the daring sweep of his illusions ; experiment of domestic tragedy.

but the shadow is transitory, and interferes very The critique on Thomson is distinguished little with the light of bis imagery, or the warmth by the same fine tact, candour, and concise- of his feelings. The absence of even this speck of did not bring home to her children traits of unde the flush of his gay hopes and busy projects ter finable expression which had escaped every eye minated in despair. The particular causes which but that of familiar affection. Ramsay had not the led to his catastrophe have not been distinctly foree of Burns; but, neither, in just proportion to traced. His own descriptions of his prospects his merits, is he likely to be felt by an English are but little to be trusted; for while apparently reader. The fire of Burns' wit and passion glows exchanging his shadowy visions of Rowley for the through an obscure dialect by its confinement to real adventures of life, he was still moving under short and concentrated bursts. The interest which the spell of an imagination that saw every Thing in Ramsay excites is spread over a long poem, deline exaggerated colours. Out of this dream he was ating manners more than passions, and the mind at length awakened, when he found that he had must be at home both in the language and manners, miscalculated the chances of patronage and the to appreciate the skill and comic archness with which profits of literary labour. he has heightened the display of rustic character “ The beart which can peruse the fate of Chat. without giving it vulgarity, and refined the view terton without being moved, is little to be envied of peasant life by situations of sweetness and ten- for its tranquillity; but the intellects of those men derness, without departing in the least degree from must be as deficient as their hearts are uncharitable, its simplicity. The Gentle Shepherd stands quite who, confounding all shades of moral distinction, apart from ihe general pastoral poetry of modern have ranked his literary fiction of Rowley in the Europe. It has no satyrs, nor featureless simple. same class of crimes with pecuniary forgery; and tons, nor drowsy and still landscapes of nature, but have calculated that if he had not died by his own distinct characters and amusing incidents. The hand he would have probably ended his days upon principal shepherd never speaks out of consistency a gallows ! This disgusting sentence has been with ihe habits of a peasant; but he moves in that pronounced upon a youth who was exemplary for sphere with such a manly spirit, with so much severe study, temperance, and natural affection. cheerful sensibility to its humble joys, with max: His Rowleian forgery must indeed be pronounced ims of life so rational and independent, and with improper by the general law which condenins all an ascendency over his fellow swains so well main- serious and deliberate falsifications; but it deprived tained by his force of character, that if we could no man of his fame; it had no sacrilegious interfer. suppose the pacific scenes of the drama to be sud- ence with the memory of departed genios; it had denly changed into situations of trouble and danger, not, like Lauder's imposture, any malignant motive we should, in exact consistency with our former to rob a party, or a country, of a name which was idea of him, expect him to become the leader of its pride and ornament. the peasants, and the Tell of his native hamlet. "Setting aside the opinion of those uncharitable Nor is the character of his mistress less beautifully biographers, whose imaginations have conducted conceived. She is represented, like himself, as him to the gibbet, it may be owned that his un. elevated, by a fortunate discovery, from obscure to formed character exhibited strong and conflicting opulent life, yet as equally capable of being the elements of good and evil. Even the momentary ornament of either. A Richardson or a D'Arblay, project of the infidel boy to become a Methodist had they continued her history, might have height preacher, betrays an obliquity of design and a conened the portrait, but they would not have altered iemp! of human credulity that is not very amiable. its outline. Like the poetry of Tasso and Ariosto, But had he been spared, his pride and ambition that of the Gentle Shepherd is engraven on the would probably have come to flow in their proper memory, and has sunk into the heart, of its native channels. His understanding would have caught country. Its verses have passed into proverbs, and him the practical value of truth and the dignity of it continues to be the delight and solace of the virtue, and he would have despised artifice, when peasantry whom it describes."--pp. 344-346. he had felt the strengih and security of wisdom.


mysticism from his Ode on the Passions is perhaps

the happy circumstance that secured its unbounded “Habits of early admiration teach us all to look popularity. Nothing, however, is co!nmon-place back upon this poet as the favourite companion of in Collins. The pastoral eclogue, which is insipid our solitary walks, and as the author who has first in all other English hands, assumes in his a touchor chiefly reflected back to our minds a heightened ing interest, and a picturesque air of novelty; It and refined sensation of the delight which rural seems that he himself ultimately undervalued i hose scenery affords us. The judgment of cooler years eclogues, as deficient in characteristic manners; but may somewhat abate our estimation of him, though surely no just reader of them cares any more about it will still leave us the essential features of his this circumstance than about the authenticity of the poetical character to abide the test of reflection. tale of Troy. The un varied pomp of his diction suggests a most “In his Ode to Fear he hints at his dramatic unfavourable comparison with the manly and idiom- ambition; and he planned several tragedies. Had atic simplicity of Cowper : at the same time, the he lived to enjoy and adorn existence, it is not easy pervading spirit and feeling of his poetry is in geneto conceive his sensitive spirit and harmonious ear ral more bland and delightful than that of his great descending to mediocrity in any path of poetry ; rival in rural description. Thomson seems to con; yet it may be doubled if his mind had not a pastemplate the creation with an eye of unqualified sion for the visionary and remote forms of imagina: pleasure and ecstasy, and to love its inhabitants tion, too strong and exclusive for the general pur• with a lofty and hallowed feeling of religious hap- poses of the drama. His genius loved to breathe piness; Cowper has also his philanthropy, but it is rather in the preternatural and ideal element of dashed with religious terrors, and with themes of poetry, than in the atmosphere of imitation, which satire, regret, and reprehension. Cowper's image lies closest to real life ; and his notions of poetical of nature is more curiously distinct and familiar. excellence, whatever vows he might address to Thomson carries our associations through a wider the manners,' were still tending to the vast, the circuit of speculation and sympathy. His touches undefinable, and the abstract. Certainly, how. cannot be more faithful than Cowper's, but they ever, he carried sensibility and tenderness into the are more soft and select, and less disturbed by the highest regions of abstracted thought : His enthuintrusion of homely objects. It is but justice to say, siasm spreads a glow even amongst the shadowy that amidst the feeling and fancy of the Seasons, tribes of mind,' and his allegory is as sensible to we meet with interruptions of declamation, heavy the heart as it is visible to the fancy.”—pp. 310, 312. narrative, and unhappy digression-with a parhelion eloquence that throws a counterfeit glow of expres- Though we are afraid our extracts are besion on ideas-as when he treats us coming unreasonable, we cannot resist indulg. to the solemnly ridiculous bathing of Musidora ; or ing our own nationality, by producing this draws from the classics instead of nature; or, after specimen of Mr. Campbell's. invoking inspiration from her hermit seat, makes his dedicatory bow to a patronizing countess, or speaker " The admirers of the Gentle Shepherd must of the House of Commons. As long as he dwells perhaps be contented to share some suspicion of in the pure contemplation of nature, and appeals to national partiality, while they do justice to their the universal poetry of the human breast, his re- own feeling of its merit. Yet as this drama is a dundant style comes to us as something venial and picture of rustic Scotland, it would perhaps be adventitious-it is the flowing vesture of the druid ; saying little for its fidelity, if it yielded no more and perhaps to the general experience is rather im- agreeableness to the breast of a native than he could posing ; but when he returns to the familiar narra- expound to a stranger by the strict letter of criti: tions or courtesies of life, the same diction ceases cism. We should think the painter had finished to geom the mantle inspiration, and only strikes the likeness of a mother very indifferently, if it

In estimating the promises of his genius, I would We think the merits of Akenside under- rather lean to the uimost enthusiasm of his admir. rated, and those of Churchill exaggerated : ers, than to the cold opinion of those who are afraid But we have found no passage in which the of being blinded to the defects of the poems attribamiable but equitable and reasonable indulg, which is thrown over them.

uted to Rowley, by the veil of obsolete phraseology ence of Mr. Campbell's mind is so conspicu

“The inequality of Chatterton's various proous, as in his account of Chatterton--and it ductions may be compared to the disproportions of is no slight thing for a poet to have kept him- the ungrown giant. His works had nothing of the self cool and temperate, on a theme which definite neatness of that precocious talent which has hurried so many inferior spirits into pas- ledge was that of a being taught by instinct to lay

stops short in early maturiiy. His thirst for knowsion and extravagance.

up materials for the exercise of great and unde. " When we conceive," says Mr. C., "the in- veloped powers. Even in his favourite maxiin, spired boy transporting himself in imagination back pushed it might be to hyperbole, that a man by to the days of his fictitious Rowley, embodying his abstinence and perseverance might accomplish ideal character, and giving to airy nothing a ' local whatever he pleased, may be traced the indications habitation and a name,' we may forget the im- of a genius which natüre had meant to achieve works postor in the enthusiast, and forgive the falsehood of immortality. Tasso alone can be compared to him of his reverie for its beauty and ingenuity. One as a juvenile prodigy. No English poei ever equal. of his companions has described the air of rapture led him at the same age."-Vol. vi. pp. 156–162. and inspiration with which he used to repeat his passages from Rowley, and the delight which he The account of Gray is excellent, and that took to contemplate the church of St. Mary Red- of Goldsmith delightful. We can afford to cliffe, while it awoke the associations of antiquity give but an inconsiderable part of it. in his romantic mind. There was one spot in particular, full in view of the church, where he Goldsmith's poetry enjoys a calm and steady would often lay himself down, and fix his eyes, as popularity. It inspires us, indeed, with no admiraIt were, in a trance. On Sundays, as long as day. tion of daring design, or of fertile invention ; but it light lasted, he would walk alone in the country presents, within its narrow limits, a distinct and unaround Bristol, taking drawings of churches, or broken view of poetical delightfulness. His descripother objects that struck his imagination.

lions and sentiments have ihe pure zest of nature. During the few months of his existence in He is refined without false delicacy, and correct London, his letters to his mother and sister, which without insipidity. Perhaps there is an intellectual were always accompanied with presents, expressed composure in his manner, which may, in some pas. the most joyous anticipations. ' But suddenly all sages, be said to approach to the reserved and prosaic; but he unbends from this graver strain of certain tone of exaggeration is incident, we reflection, to tenderness, and even to playfulness, fear, to the sort of writing in which we are and connects extensive views of the happiness and engaged. Reckoning a little too much, per. interests of society, with pictures of life, that touch haps, on the dulness of our readers, we are the heart by their familiarity. His language is cer. often led, unconsciously, 10 overstate oc') tainly simple, though it is not cast in a rugged or sentiments, in order to make them under. careless mould. He is no disciple of the gaunt and stood; and, where a little controversial famished school of simplicity. Deliberately as he warmth is added to a little love of effect, wrote, he cannot be accused of wanung natural and an excess of colouring is apt to steal over idiomatic expression; but still it is select and refined expression. He uses the ornaments which the canvass which ultimately offends no must always distinguish true poetry from prose ; | eye so much as our own. We gladly make and when he adopts colloquial plainness, it is with this expiation to the shade of our illustrious the utmost care and skill, to avoid a vulgar humility countryman. There is more of this elegant simplicity, of this In his observations on Joseph Warton, Mr. chaste economy and choice of words, in Goldsmith: C. resumes the controversy about the poetica attainable or desirable as a standard for every writer character of Pope, upon which he had entered of rhyme. In extensive narrative poems such a at the close of his Essay; and as to which style would be too difficult. There is a noble pro. we hope to have some other opportunity of priety even in the careless strength of great poems giving our opinions. At present, however, we as in the roughness of castle walls; and, generally must hasten to a conclusion; and shall make speaking, where there is a long course of story, or observation of life to be pursued, such exquisite our last extracts from the notice of Cowper, touches as those of Goldsmith would be too cosily which is drawn up on somewhat of a larger materials for sustaining it. The tendency towards scale than any other in the work. The ababstracted observation in his poetry agrees peculiarly stract of his life is given with great tenderness with the compendious form of expression which he and beauty, and with considerable fulness of studied; whilst the homefelt joys, on which his detail. But the remarks on his poetry are the fancy loved to repose, required at once the chastest and sweetest colours of language, to make them most precious, –and are all that we have now harmonize with the dignity of a philosophical poem. room to borrow. His whole manner has a still depth of feeling and reflection, which gives back the image of nature

“ The nature of Cowper's works makes us unruffed and minutely. He has no redundant peculiarly identify the poet and the man in perusing thoughts, or false transports; but seems on every

them. As an individual, he was retired and weaned occasion to have weighed the impulse to which he from the vanities of the world ; and, as an original surrendered himself. Whatever ardour or casual writer, he left the ambitious and luxuriant subjects felicities he may have ihus sacrificed, he gained a of fiction and passion, for those of real life and sim. high degree of purity and self-possession. His ple nature, and for the development of his own chaste pathos makes him an insinuating moralist; earnest feelings, in behalf of moral and religious and throws a charm of Claude-like softness over his truth. His language has such a masculine idiom. descriptions of homely objects, that would seem

alic strength, and his manner, whether he rises only fit to be the subjects of Dutch painting. But into grace or falls into negligence, has so much his quiet enthusiasm leads the affections to humble plain and familiar freedom, that we read no poetry hings without a vulgar association ; and he inspires with a deeper conviction of its sentiments having us with a fondness to trace the simplest recollections come from the author's heart; and of the enthu. of Auburn, till we count the furniture of its ale- siasm, in whatever he describes, having been un. house, and listen to the varnished clock that feigned and unexaggeraied. He impresses us with clicked behind the door.'”—pp. 261–263.

The idea of a being, whose fine spirit had been long

enough in the mixed society of the world to be There is too much of William Whitehead, polished by its intercourse, and yet withdrawn so and almost too much of Richard Glover,--and simplicity. He was advanced in years before he a great deal too much of Amhurst Selden, became an author; but his compositions display a Bramston, and Meston. Indeed the ne quid tenderness of feeling so youthfully preserved, and nimis seems to have been more forgotten by even a vein of humour so far from being extinguished the learned editor in the last, than in any of by his ascetic habits, that we can scarcely regret his the other volumes. Yet there is by no means For he blends the determination of age with an

not having written them at an earlier period of life. too much of Burns, or Cowper, or even of the exquisite and ingenuous sensibility; and though he Wartons. The abstract of Burns' life is beau- sporis very much with his subjects, yet, when he is liful; and we are most willing to acknowledge in earnest, there is a gravity of long-felt conviction that the defence of the poet, against some of in his sentiments, which gives an uncommon ripethe severities of this Journal, is substantially ness of character to his poetry: successful. No one who reads all that we unaffectedness and authenticity of his works, con.

“It is due to Cowper to fix our regard on this have written of Burns, will doubt of the sin- sidered as representations of himself, because he cerity of our admiration for his genius, or of forms a striking instance of genius writing the his. the depth of our veneration and sympathy for tory of its own secluded feelings, reflections, and his lofty character and his untimely fate. enjoyments, in a shape so interesting as to engage We still think he had a vulgar taste in letter- the imagination like a work of fiction. He has in. writing; and too frequently patronized the he has left a record of his own character, which

venied no character in fable, nor in the drama ; but belief of a connection between licentious in- forms not only an object of deep sympathy, but a dulgences and generosity of character. But, subiect for ite study of human nature. His verse on looking back on what we have said on it is true, considered as such a record, abounds with these subjects, we are sensible that we have opposite traits of severity and gentleness, of play. expressed ourselves with too much bitter- fulness and superstition, of solemnity and mirth, ness, and made the words of our censure far doubtedly, sometimes an air of moody versatility in

appear almost anomalous ; and there is, un. more comprehensive than our meaning. Al the extreme contrasts of his feelings. But looking

« PreviousContinue »