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We have seldom of late perused a poem which, In 80 narrow a compass, has displayed so much point and brilliancy as this epistle exhibits.
Art. 23. Bcachy Head; with other Poems. By Charlotte Smith.
In these poems we discover all the characteristic peculiarities, and much of the excellence, which distinguish the former productions of their admired author. The same tenderness and sensibility, the" . tame strain of moral reflection, and the same cnthusijstic love of nature, pervade all her effusions. It appears also as if the wounded feelings of Charlotte Smith had found relief and consolation, during her latter years, in an accurate observation not only of the beautiful effect produced by the endless diversity of natural objects that daily solicit our regard, but also in a careful study of their scientific arrangement, and their more minute variations. If this pursuit may seem less worthy the attention of a poet, and less calculated to excite thuse strong emotions in the reader which poetry should endeavour to awaken, yet we cannot regret a direction of the author's powers which has clothed the dry details of natural history with charms irresistibly fascinating to youthful minds, and has imparted to them an interest which can hardly fail to continue to the end of life.
The description of a cottagt-garden is so natural and correct, that we teem to accompany the fair author in her walk, while she points out the various attractions of the place;
'Where woods, of ash, and beech
And partial copses, fringe the green hill foot, »
The upland shepherd rears his modest home,
There wanders by, a little nameless stream
That from the hill-wells forth, bright now and clear,
Or after rain with chalky mixture gi'ay,
But still refreshing in its shallow course
The cottage garden ; most for use deMgn'd,
Yet not of beauty destitute. The vine
Mantles the little casement; yet the briar
Drops-fragrant dew among the July flowers:
And pansies rayed, and freak'd and mottled pinks
Grow among balm, and rosemary and rue:
There honeysuckles flaunt, and roses blow
Almost uncultured: Some with dark green leaves
Contrast their flowers of pure unsullied white;
Others, like velvet robes of regal state
Of richest crimson, while in thorny moss
Enshrined and cradled, the most lovely wear
The hues of youthful beauty's glowing cheek..—
With fond regTet I recollect e'en now
In Spring and Summer, what delight I felt
Among these cottage gardens, and how much
Such artless Tfosegays, knotted with a rush
By village housewife or her ruddy maid,'
Were Welcome to Hie: soon and simply pleaVd.'
H * W«
We have extracted these lines from the first poem in the volutrreV called Beachy Head; which appears, as well from an incompleteness in the structure as from some small errors in versification, to have wanted the author's last corrections. The only incident introduced' is that of a hermit, who lived' in a cave at the foot of that tremendous cliff; having left the world in a fit of hopeless passion, and devoted himself to acts of charity, and who perished in a storm, wh.ile endeavouring to save some mariners from shipwreck. • He is represented as composing sonnets correspondent to the state of his mind; and from one of them we quote the following stanzas, which strike us as very elegant, though peihaps too calm and particular for a love-loru and solitary shepherd: •
4 And I'll contrive a sylvan room
Against the time of summer heat,
Shall canopy our green retreat;
And when a sear and sallow hue
From early frost the bower receives,
T'll dress the sand rock cave for you,
And strew the floor with heath and leaves^
That you, agahist the autumnal air
May find securer shelter there.
The Nightingale will then have ceas'd
To sing her moonlight serenade:
And Woodlarks still will haunt the shade,
The forest hermit's lonely cave
None but such soothing sounds shall reach,
Or hardly heard, the distant wave
Or winds,, that now sigh soft and low,
Now make wild music as they blow.'
* The Truant Dove' is by no means deficient in humour; and it possesses also the merit of uncommon pathos in those parts of the fable, in which the wife rtmonstrates against her husband's love of rambling. Its beauties, however, are not sufficiently concentrated to furnish us with a quotation consistent with our limits.—The old fable of the 1 Lark's Nest' does not display the same felicity.—4 The Siuallotu' is full of grace, vivacity, and beautiful description.— * Flora,' though somewhat too technically botanical, is adorned with much taste; and indeed none of the poems in the volume can be read without pleasure.
We are informed by an advertisement, that it • has been decided to publish biographical memoirs (of Mrs. C. Smith), and a selectionof her correspondence ou an enlarged plan, uuder the authority of
her Tier nearest relatives.' We shall receive such a work with satisfaction; but we will venture to express our hope, that this ingenious writer may riot swell the list of sacrifices to the partiality of friends, or the cupidity of publishers. Often has an interesting memoir, which would have floated on the stream of Time in the shape of a moderate octavo, forfeited both circulation and permanency, and been sunk ere it was well launched, by being encumbered with the unwieldy magnificence of a quarto volume.
Art. 24. Legendary Tales. By Eiglesfield Smith. Crown 8vo.
■ " Immediate orders there were tent
Where I so long did lay&c. (p. 21.)
For some time past, though the higher beauties of poetry have not "been very frequently displayed, correctness has been generally preserved, and gross errors avoided: but wc have lately had two or three such glaring examples of carelessness in the employment of rhymes, and technical negligence, as to demand exposure. The work before ■us abounds with faults .of tin's nature. * Dear' answers but ill to
* hair' (p. 34.), and is particularly offensive where the verses are so short, and the interval between the bad rhymes so inconsiderable, as in the stanza which is here used: but to make 'down' rhyme with
* mourn/ in the very next verse, exceeds all bounds of critical toleration. 'Earth' and 4 death,' (p. 5c.), « fled' and • bride''(p. 73.), are associated with the same perverseness, and these faults are perpetually repeated. The following simile, though at first sight it wears the appearance of plagiarism, is strictly original;
* Chaste though she was, as the pale snow, That lies on Dian's lap ,•' and the second half is not unworthy of its-brother: 'Yet was she doom'd'to melt in tears, And mourn her dire mishap.' The story of Helen of Kirlconnel is the last in this volume. Like most other beautiful stories preserved by tradition, it has been told in Various ways; and in course the poet is at liberty to choose that termination which is most probable and interesting. The (vent, which Mr. Smith has preferred, is that the tavored lover, at the moment of Helen's death, sets out in pursuit of her murderer, wh9 leads him a chace all over this island, and then into Norway, Lap. Jand, and Russia. At length—but we are not informed where—
'At length he stopp'd as lank as death,
H 3 Prepar'd
Prepar'd to fight as grim as ghosts, '•>•'
They scarce a clout had on }
William conquers hU rival, and Then destroys himself;—and thus is that story worked tip, which has produced one of the most deeply pathetic elfprir"s that is to be found in any language! We allude to the second part of '• Helen of Kirkconntl," in the Minstrelsy of the Border.
Art. 25. Six Idlers of A B. on the Differences lettveen Great Britain and ike Untied Sidles of Ameiica, with a r'rtface by the Editor of the Morning .Chronicle. 8vo. pp.48.1 2J. Ridgway. 1807. A. B irtror.gly recommends liberal and conciliatory conduct towards Ameu'ca, and shews it to be the intetest of both countries to cultivate a mutual good understanding. Among other effects which would ensue from a rupture, he savs; ' If the pr*scnt dispute should ferment into national hostility, America will manufacture immediately for herself; and it will be extremely difficult to prevent the emigration of your spinners, whilst the stagnation of your trade continues, even supposing it to be hut temporary. The raw material she has Blr'rtd)'—the rice plantations in Carolina have to a grtat extent been converted to the g'owth o! cotton, and Louisiana alone would grow enough t6 mi'iufru t ;je for the whole habitable world. But, imposing her marniracturri not to reach at first to supply luxuries (which th< y certainly .would not1, she would manufacture cheap goods, would mak<- it a national distinction to wear them, and penal to wear any other T know that this was contemplated during the American Revolution, if "he independence had not taken place, and that it is ta)E.t 1 ol Iow from one end of America to the other. T his is a most lerious couridtration. The effect of =uch a spirit of industry, turned suddenly on tiiuMifacitire, would not cease again upon any peace whwh the presfutc of our arms might produce.'
If we ei.dcavour fo terrify America by a display of our naval power, li; obsd'vn that the spiu't which once induced her to resist, aud en« abler! her to succeed, lus not evaporated from her citizens ; that since her. fo'nicr struggle she !ia.i twite doubled her population, while her mtar.J of dej'cnce have grown in proportion ; aud that whereas site then had I■ Car.ce only on her side, nearly all the powers of the earth vvouh! now be with her against Great Britain.— This sensible writer, howevi.r, decidedly argues that it is the true policy of our TransAtlantic brethren to maintain the relations of peace with this country. We sincerely trust that they may be brought to hold this opinion: we equally trust, and we believe, that such is the desire of this country j and yet we own that we fear the tesult of present discussions.
These Letters first appeared in the Morning Chronicle.
Art. 26. A Political Sketch of America. Svo. pp. 87. 28. Ver. nor and Co iSc8.
We are highly pleased with "this sketch, which contains much interesting information, and is written in an excellent spirit The con • eluding passages will enable the reader to jud;;e:
'How is Britain to conduct herself toward the ,UnUed States? Her language must be frank and sincere, her actions just, and her policy, with respect to the party in power, must unite firmness with moderation. The aged soldier can still shew his wounds; the son still remembers the plain where his father fell, and the people still continue to sajr, that a nation, which wished to wrest from them their independence, can never be their friend. Let our manners then be conciliating, for the language of abuse serves but to irritate passion.Let us address them by the appellation of brethren ; let us with one ■voice declare, that we are not jealous of their independence, while we consider the union of the two nations as necessafy to their reciprocal interests.
4 Americans, who inspired you with the dignity of men? Had superstition, or slavery, chained you to the throne of despotism, you would not have dared to lift the tye to independence. Your liberty, and the very model of your constitution, you owe to Britain. Form a close union with our enemy, and you surrender your independence. While you are yet free, survey the events rof Europe. The republic of Holland is no more: The enemy burst into Swisserland :— "Will it be prudent to oppose them?" said the leaders of a treacherous faction.—— Do the descendents of William Tell," cried an old man, " deliberate whether they shall die as freemen, or live as slaves!" Death was the reward of his patriotism, and Swisserland lost its freedom J The Ragusans are* a simple, industrious, and virtuous people; they are the foe of none, yet they are no longer free; in the fate of these republics^ Americans, perceive that of your own.
'You have every necessary of life; you possess all the materials for a navy ; your coast is extensive; your navigable riveiv. arc numerous. Seize, then, these advantages, you are destined to he illusttious, and give respectability to your government. The crisis is momentousi it is replete with the destiny of America as well as that of Europe. The United States and Britain arc combined in <>'ie fate, and will you then, ->mencans, cramp her magnanimous exertions in. the cause of liberty? If she is overcome, !.berry is the firft sacrifice that our enemy will demand; and when the ocean is 01.ee navigable to him, will nut the same voice which commands in surrounding states be soon heard in America?
'Our fathers, Americans, were brethren; we speak the same languague; our character and manners are similar; our respective nations are commercial; and they who keep alive your*prejudices against Britain, are the enemies of your country. We must be united — Heaven accelerate the period when national prejudices shall cease, and when we shall be combined in the closest alliance of friendship and peace!'
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