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light, and the radiance which shows so strange amid the contrasted glare and blackness of I In- present, will blend with the dawning of a belter lime as with its native substance.
Didactic poetry, when it treats of human passions, as it is commonly devoted to the description of general feelings, unmarked by those traits and peculiarities which distinguish the individual, does not create that deep and powerful interest which is excited when those feelings are exemplified and brought home to the affections of the reader, by the portraiture of the enjoyments or sufferings of real or imaginary personages. It can, therefore, no more be expected to interest the common reader, than philanthropy or cosmopolitism can be thought to actualc the mass of mankind: for, unless we are enabled to picture to ourselves vividly and distinctly those objects which are intended to excite our sympathies, it is not the bare recital of the most alarming and horrible catastrophes that will affect in the slightest degree even those of the most delicate sensibility.
Samuel Rogers is the Goldsmith of the nineteenth century. It is the great merit of this writer, that he appeals to the heart: we are borne along by an impulse, which evinces how strongly our personal feelings are interested; and while we admire the poet, we esteem the man. Thus, in; the "Pleasures of Memory," the recollections of the past stand before us in palpable array. As we read, we are perpetually reminded of our own experience, and are delighted with the fidelity of the picture. It is for this reason, that the gratification we derive from the perusal of his writings is permanent. The mind recurs to them as to a subject that is interwoven wild its own sensations; and they acquire an importance from their truth. The "Pleasures of Memory," whether we consider the comprehensiveness of the plan, the correctness of the delineations, or the skilfulness of the execution, is an admirable poem. No point of advantage seems to be omitted; and the author appears to have dived for his materials into the inmost recesses of the human heart. The recollections of our youth, the associations of age, or reflections of the mind, as excited by the remembrance ol sensible objects, or personal attachments and feelings, are all powerfully delineated.
In finding out those minute points of interest, which associate them-' selves with the memory, the genius of lingers is no less conspicuous, than in his comprehensive grasp of his subject as a whole. We have all experienced that objects, trilling in themselves, when viewed after a lapse of years, awaken a train of reflections and conjure up to the mind a thousand tender recollections; and that incidents, which time had partially obscured, artarrayed with a freshness, as green as if they were but of yesterday. The poet has not failed to seize these impressions. He has given them, by the magic of his art, a more lively interest, while he has preserved all their truth, and all (heir simplicity. iNor is the good taste of Hogers less remarkable in the choice of his subjects, than in his mode of treating them. Leaving to others, on the one hand, those powerful sketches of terrific objects and emotions, from which, though they may be conceived to move our sympathy, we rather recoil with dread; and, on the other, that morbid exuberance of
fancy, which associates with inanimate objects a thousand extravagant sensations, creating to itself s world of fiction, in which every thing is as it is not; he pursues the path to fame through a less romantic, hut more certain raid,—by ennobling the best impulses of our nature, and making common nose with its purest affections.
It has been objected that Campbell is a laborious writer; and this is urged against his claim to genius. He knows full well, that writing, whether poetry or prose, to be good must be correct, and as he has a reputation to lose, he bestows such pains on his verses as his own honour and their excellence deserve. The charge of his being a fastidious critic of his own compositions is most true. His' next neighbour at Sydenham (a quiet, unpoetical citizen) said that Mr. Campbell was a good sort of man, and a peaceable person enough, but he had a most provoking habit of tearing up pieces of paper on which he had written, and scattering them out of his stady-window; they were borne by the wind upon the cabbages and goosett-rry-bushes of the adjoining garden, so that it looked, in the dog-days, as if a theatrical snow-storm had burst over it.
The Pleasures of Hope is a didactic poem, like the Pleasures of Memory; but the future lyrical poet is detected there, in the vagueness of the plot, the greater licence of the transitions, and a more frequent boldness of thought and image; in a more rapid march of the style, and especially in. its eloquent apostrophes, like those to Kosciusko and Liberty, which terminate the first canto. Compared with Rogers' poem, that of Campbell satisfies the judgment less; notwithstanding it has some more striking passages, it leaves fewer impressions on the mind; the poet stands in need of ill the brilliancy of his style to give us satisfaction. This arises from the defectiveness of the subject; for the Pleasures of Memory may be sketched uiihin the limits of a poem, but what limits can be set to those of Hope, which not only embrace terrestrial things, but quit their limits, create new worlds, new divinities, and paradise. Campbell's poem more effectually evades analysis than that of Rogers.
Campbell for several years seemed to content himself with the success of his first poem; some short lyrical compositions alone appeared at long intervals, to re-awaken the attention which the Pleasures of Hope had excited: a larger work of the author's bad been long promised when Gertrude of Wyoming, an episode of the revolutions of Pennsylvania, made its appearauce. The versification and the details of this poem demonstrated that the talent of Mr. Campbell had matured itself; but if the fable be analysed, one is tempted to infer, that every thing has been sacrificed to a desire of disarming criticism by the unremitted elegance of the style, which possesses all the harmony peculiar to that of Goldsmith, and the vigour of Johnson, joined to that brilliancy which recalls the imaginative splendour of Spencer. The action is as much neglected as the style is polished; each idea is complete, but appears isolated. Such, however, as it is, Campbell's poem exhibits admirable contrasts. The grand scenes of American landscape are happily contrasted with the patriarchal life of the colonists; the majestic sketch of the old Oncyda, and his savage eloquence, are in harmony with flit mountains, the ancient forests, and the lakes of his native soil. lie is worth} of taking his place by the side of Chactas. His character is less developeo than that of Atala's lover; but his physiognomy possesses something more frank and local, because, like Chactas, he has not been half civilized by contact with the inhabitants of Europe.
MISS L. E. LANDON.
This amiable young author is a favorite with English ladies and deserves it well. There is nothing in her of the Italian Improvisatrice but the vivid and heart-stirring inspiration. Miss Laudon is an Amorist in poetry, and a rival to Thomas Moore himself, in that respect. She has a good command of language and a fair store of highly poetical ideas, with a great deal of taste in arrangement, and an ear tuned to the varied melodies of the language. In giving nearly the whole of her fine poetical productions, namely her three great poems, the Improeisatrice, the Troubadour and the Golden Violet, the Editor could not but hope to meet with the desire of his fair readers, no one of the Poets of the nineteenth Century having, by the purity of conception and the sweetness of execution, a stronger claim than Miss Laudon to the predilection of the sex.
Bernard Barton was born a Quaker in the year 1784, and educated at a Quaker seminary. In 1810 he began to "commit the sin of rhyme," and in 1812 published an anonymous volume, entitled: "Metrical Effusions," which was followed in 1818 by a volume of "Poems by an Amateur." Encouraged by the very flattering manner in which these impressions of his Poems were received by his friends, he at last ventured to publish in a small volume "Poems by Bernard Barton."
Such has been the literary career of this exquisite writer. If it has not left behind it the brilliant track of other poetical comets, it has been less erratic in its course;—and his Parnassian vespers may be said to possess all the mild and soothing beauties of the Evening-star. If his Muse have not always reached the sun-ward path of the soaring eagle, it is no extravagant praise to say that she has often emulated the sublimity of his aerial flight. But the great charm thrown around the effusions of the Suffolk bard is that lucid veil of morality and religion which covers, but not conceals, that silver network through which shine his poetic apples of gold.
The Society of Friends was for a good while confined to the lower clasr-es; and when it first became numerous and respectable, the revolting corruption of poetry which took place after the Restoration, af jrded but too good an apology for the prejudices which were conceived against it; and as the Quakers arc peculiarly tenacious of all the maxims that have been handed down from the patriarchal times of their institution, it is easy io understand how this prejudice should have outlived the causes that produced it. It should not, however, be forgotten, that William Penu amused himself with verses, that Elwood the Quaker is remembered as the friend and admirer of Milton, and the man to whose suggestion the world is indebted for Paradise Regained. Barton's poetry has all the purity, the piety and gentleness, of the sect to which its author belongs—with something too much perhaps of their sobriety. The style is rather diifuse and wordy, though generally graceful, flowing and easy; and though it cannot be said to contain many bright thoughts or original images, it is recommended throughout by a truth of feeling and an unstudied earnestness of manner, that wins both upon the heart and the attention. In these qualities, as well as in the copiousness of the diction and the facility of the versification, it frequently reminds of the smaller pieces of Cowper,—the author, like that eminent and most amiable writer, never disdaining ordinary words and sentiments, when they come in his way, and combining, with his most solemn and contemplative strains, a certain air of homeliness and simplicity, which seems to show that the matter was more in his thoughts than the manner, and that the glory of fine writing was Jess considered than the clear and complete expression of the sentiments for the sake of which alone lie was induced to become a writer. There is something of uniformity in the strain and tenor of Barton's poetry. There is no story, and of course no incident, nor any characters shown in action. The staple of the whole is description and meditation—description of quiet, home scenery, sweetly and feelingly wrought out —and meditation overs-haded with tenderness, and exalted by devotion—but all terminating in soothing and even cheerful views of the condition and prospects of mortality. In short, it is evidently the work of a man of a fine and cultivated rather than of an original mind—of a man who prefers following out the suggestion of his own mild and contemplative spirit, to counterfeiting the raptures of more vehement natures, and thinks it better to work up the genuine though less splendid materials of lilt actual experience and observation, than to distract himself and his readers with more ambitious and less manageable imaginations. His thoughts and reflections, accordingly, have not only the merit of truth and consistency, but bear the distinct impress of individual character—and of n character with which no reader can thus become acquainted without loving and wishing t» share in its virtues.
Jairs Montgomery is by birth a Scotchman, and was born 1771, at Irvine, a small sea-port-town in Ayrshire. Pie was the eldest son of a Moravian ■rinister, by whom he was removed to Gracehill, in the county of Antrim, Ireland, iu the year 1770; and afterwards placed at the early age of six years in the seminary of the united Moravian brethren, at Fulneck, near Leeds, in Yorkshire. It may be almost said, that at this early period of Montgomery's life he was for ever separated from his parents, since, previous to their departure as missionaries for the West Indies, where his mother died in 1789, and his father in 1790, he resided with them but for. three months in the year 1784.
How happy the parents of Montgomery had been in placing their son, circumstanced as they were, under the guidance and tuition of the pious *ad learned Moravian bretluen, can now be easily perceived from the result it lias produced. For, notwithstanding that every reader of Montgomery's works may trace in them the effects of a mind naturally virtuous and religious, we cannot withhold from believing that he is in a great measure indebted to the education he has received for his well earned fame as a moral poet. It has been frequently, and perhaps justly, observed, that the delight which beautiful poetry affords, is obtained too often to the prejudice of moral feelings and precepts, which are better calculated to ennoble the human mind. But hud we not Milton, Fenelou, Klopstock, and even the divine writers themselves, to show the fallacy of this bold accusation, brought against the most powerful language and efTort of man, the poems of Montgomery alone would form a compilation of proofs so able and so manifest in themselves, as to be fully sufficient for composing a refutation at once unanswerable and undoubted. Every line of his poetry invites to a love of virtue and all that is amiable in our nature; while it fills the soul at the same time with the sweet luxury of pure, yet delightful, enjoyment, and creates within us an admiration and esteem for that art under which so many great and happy powers have been put forth.
Robert Southky, Poet Laureat, was born 1774, at Bristol, where his father carried on an extensive business as a wholesale linen-draper. Young Robert was educated first under Mr. Foote, a baptist minister of great ability, but at that time very aged. After a short time young Southey was removed to a school at Carston, where he remained about two years, and was then entered at Westminster School in 1787. In 1702 he became a student of Baliol College, Oxford, with a view to the church, but Unitarian principles and the revolutionary mania put an end to that design. So strongly did he imbibe the new opinions on politics which the explosion in France had produced, that he, with his friends Lovell and Coleridge, projected a plan of settling on the banks of the Susnuehannah in North America, and of there founding a new republic. This Utopian scheme was soon dissolved for the want of means, and in 1795 Southey married Miss Trickcr, soon after which event he accompanied his maternal uncle Dr. Hill to Portugal, that gentleman being appointed Chaplain to the Factory at Lisbon. In 1801 Southey obtained the appointment of Secretary to Isaac Corry, Chancellor of the Exchequer for Ireland. On retiring from office with his patron, our author went to reside in a cottage near Keswick, where also dwelt under the same roof the widow of his friend Lovell and the wife of Mr. Coleridge, both which ladies are sisters to Mrs. Southey. In 1813 he succeeded Mr. Pye as Poet Laureat.
Sou they's mind is essentially sanguine, even to overweeningness. It is prophetic of good; it cordially embraces it; it casts a longing, lingering look after it, even when it is gone for ever. He cannot bear to give up the thought of happiness, the confidence in his fellow-man, when all else despair. It is the very element, where he must live or have no life at all. While he supposed it possible that a better form of society could be introduced than any that had hiiherto existed, while the light of the French Revolution beamed into his soul, (and long after, it was seen reflected on his brow, like the light of setting suns on the peak of some high mountain.