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r< What though SO pale his haggard Face,
So suok'and sad his Looks,"—rshe cries;
With crisped Locks and rolling Byes \
We see him lost, alone, afraid;
*' Perhaps in some far distant Shore,
There are who in these Forms delight;
Such Children for their Sire may call,
Our Kindness may preserve them all."
We have then a similar chant by a Lapland fair-uus?
"'Tis good the fainting Soul to cheer,
With Good no other People know |
This contrast is evidently borrowed from Goldsmith's Traveller, though it is here applied to rather a different purpose.
The extracts which we have made from Mr. Crabbe's poems almost preclude the necessity of our pronouncing formal judgment on them: but, as we have hitherto discharged only the more agreeable part of our duty, in bestowing well-earned praise, we must now observe that the style is not free from the faults of prolixity .and obscurity in some passages, and that 'the Parish Register' will certainly admit of curtailment. On the whole, however, the volume deserves very superior commendation, as well for the flow of verse, •nd for the language, which is manly and powerful, equally remote from vicious ornament and the still more digustingcant of idiot-simplicity, as for the sterling poetry and original powers of thought, of which it contains unquestionable proofs. (One remark we add with pleasure, as prophetic of a Still higher degree of excellence which the author may hereafter obtain :—his later productions are, in every respect, better and more perfect than those by which he first became known as a poet.J
N x Art.
Art. VII. Letters- and Sonnets, on Moral and other interesting Subject*. Addressed to Lord John Russel. By Edmund Cartwright, DD., Prebendary of Lincoln, and Chaplain to his Grace the Duke of Bedford. i2mo. pp. 210. 58. Boards. Longman and Co. 1807.
/^\ur "graver years" cannot be more honourably nor more delightfully employed than in forming the youthful mind to the love of science and virtue, and exciting in it a taste for those liberal arts which Cicero has so beautifully described as ** the ornament of prosperity, the refuge and solace of adversity, the best nourishment of youth, the noblest pleasure of age." The utility and importance, also, of such instructions will be easily recognized, when they impress a fortunate bias on those persons of an elevated station in society, whose conduct must affect many individuals, and whose example will probably influence a far greater number. It is possible, therefore, that Dr. Caitwright may be found eventually to have conferred a considerable benefit on the English community, by the sensible lessons here offered to a younger branch of one of the most illustrious among our noble families. Yet whether these letters and poems will be received with the same pleasure by general readers, which they afforded to a boy who must have been delighted to correspond with his learned and good humoured senior, may perhaps admit of a doubt ; though we may confidently affirm that the perusal of them can hardly fail to produce improvement in every juvenile mind.
The origin of an epistolary intercourse, between two * persona so much divided in years, may in some degree be collected from the Preface, and from the first letter, which states the occasion of its assuming that grave and moral turn . which it wears throughout, and which appears to have dictated the propriety of its publication:
'The following pages make part only of a correspondence, originating in some incidental circumstance no longer remembered. The writer's chief aim, at the commencement of it, was merely to divert and amuse his very young friend, by dwelling on such subjects only as were calculated for the meridian of a child's understanding. His letters were, of course, little better than a tissue of playful or ludicrous ideas; though now and then sentiments of a different cast were occasionally interwoven, whose impression, he thought, might remain, after the mirth, which it had been his object to excite, was forgotten.
4 But he soon perceived that the mental digestion of his infantine correspondent was competent to more solid and nutricious aliment than any thing he had yet supplied him with; and that, if he wished Jo gratify his literary appetite to much further extent, he must vary kii entertainment. With' this view he began the series of Letters and Sonnets, which make the present volume.
• The writer's inducement for blending verse wi'.h his prose was in conformity with the known predilection of his noble correspondent for poetical composition, in which his Lordship has already Riven, considering the early period at which h>\ productions have been written, signal indications of future excellence '—
■ The playful style in which we have hitherto corresponded would but ill accord with that gravity of character which in our prrsent stages of life it is now incumbent upon us to assume. I, my Lord have completed my grand climacte-ical year ; and your Lordship is actually entered into your teens! Let us then lay aside our quips and our quiddities, and start some serious subject of corre spondence With regard to myself I have made my determination, which it, to add'ess to your Lordship a series of Sonnets, chiefly on the moral duties, the passions, and affections.'
In the manner of addressing his young friend, we must acknowlege that Dr. C. appears to adopt a tone of solemnity not quite natural where so great a disparity in ape prevails, though it has no doubt been excited by the disparity of rank subsisting between the preceptor and the pupil This drgree of attention and respect, however, is very different from that to which Juvenal referred when he siid, •« Maxima debrtur pueris reverentia," and may perhaps have a tendtney to introduce the vanity of artificial distinctions too early into the mind. We discern also a greater propensity to the language of compliment and panegyric, than would probably have found its way into instructions for boys in the humbler walks of life. In the vrry first letter, the author observes, • in bestowing good advice upon your Lordship, I am sensible that 1 am only following the example of the rest of mankind, who are generally most liberal of their benefactions to those who least want them.' (p. 2.) Again, letter HI. p. 17. < As dangerous a companion as prosperity is to the generality of mankind, I shall however devoutly pray that she may attend your Lordship through life 5 and yet I should not be your friend in thus wishing your virtue to be put to the severest of all trials, were I not confident that she would come off victoriously.'.
Whether the praises hesrowed by Dr. C. on his 'noble correspondent's' talent for poetical composition he the decisions of a rigorous judge or of a partial preceptor, we are incapable of pronouncing any opinion; since the public have to lament that * the very elegant sonnet, which, with vry little polishing,' would do credit to the best sonnettter of us all' (a bold eulogy !) and in which * his Lordship h*s hit off the true style and character of this species of composition as happily in hit
N 3 first first attempt, as he could have done, had he written as many
sonnets as Petrarch,' (p. 56.) is not communicated to profann eyes in the present volume: an omission which is the more to be regretted, because a strong doubt is expressed « whether, at his Lordship's time of life, Petrarch ever wrote one half so good.' After this preference over Petrarch, we were the less surprised to observe that, a 1 very elegant version' of the first Ode in Horace by the same hand, uniting « e-se and' elegance with closeness and fidelity,' is placed, on a careful comparison, much above the level of Francis; at least it is said, ' what your translation, or rather paraphrase, wants in closeness, is made up for in spirit; and if some few of his lines are more finished, many of yours are more animated.' (p. 168.) If these praises be really due to a youth just 'entered into his teens,' the singularity of such a circumstance may in some degree atone for the warmth with which they are expressed.
We wish that the comment on ' lyricis vatibus inserts' had been omitted; as well as the hardy assertion that • Macenas, notwithstanding the authority of the oldest of Horace's editors, down to your Lordship, the youngest of his translators, is not properly spelled. The diphthong should be in the second syllable, as thus, Mecaenis.' The proof of this bold proposition is curious, being derived from the etymology here ascribed to this celebrated name: < Mn wive;, literally, in English, Uncommon.' Dr. Cartwright has not divulged the manner, in which this long-concealed secret was' discovered to him, and deems it sufficient to state a similar resemblance in an English name of great celebrity, which exactly answers to it, Nevile, from the Latin Ne vilis* We think that the one of these derivations is almost as likely to be true as the other, though the English word has the advantage of doing no violence to the established spelling. «
We have spoken with freedom of that complimentary strain which runs through this little volume, because it appears to us unfavourable in some degree to the moral qualities, and still more t-f> to the literary improvement, of young students. No stimulus so entirely loses its effect by constant application, as that of praise; and no appetite, having been once indulged, is so difficult to be satisfied or corrected. We are far, however, from imputing this tone of complaisance to any thing like servility in Dr. Cartwright; the whole of whose instructions are substantially good and useful, whose principles are excellent, and whose views are highly liberal. The sonnets^ which, as well as the letters, are twenty-four in number, do not affect any great display of poetical ornament, but are sensible and moral productions, clearly expressed, and very neatly versified. The following is a fair specimen, and we sincerely hope that the prophecy contained in it may in due season be accomplished:
* WRITTEN IN THE TEMPLE OF LIBERTY AT UTOBURN ABBtY.
* To the Marquist of Tavittoik.
* Here in the centre, where the patriot band
In sculptured forms this fane of freedom grace,
And here, i« breathing marble, Bf Dforb stand.
The ex;ected statne from C .nova's hand,
Our wondering admiration may command.
What more can Art? Tn You we look to find,
In full display, and at no distant term,
Serene, humane, intelligent, and fiim,
The future plant who sees not in the germ?'
We quote also one of the letters, with its poetical con* elusion i
• My dear Lord,
* It would be no difficult undertaking to prove that there is scarcely any passion which, when suffered to operate within certain limits,- is not justifiable, and even necessary; and rvhich might not be virtuously gratified, or usefully indulged in. This observation will apply to none with stricter propriety than to that which I have chosen for the subject of the following sonnet. ,
'Pride, when carried to excess, is universally admitted to be one of the most odious and despicable passions by which the human mind can be actuated and degraded. And yet, without some port ion of. this stimulating ingredient in his composition, man would be hut an insipid character For without this powerful motive to virtue and virtuous ambition, he would be top often inattentive to the claims which he had upon society, or to those which society had upon him. Having few other guides of his conduct than abstract principles of right and wrong, the energies of his mind would be but imperfectly awakened; or if by any unusual exertion or excitement they were momentarily called into action, they would soon subside and relapse into torpid inactivity, or, at the best, fall short of the objects which they were directed to
'By duly appreciating his situation and connections in society, and by properly estimating their value, he learns to set a proper value upon himself ;■ and this self-estimation, which is but another word for pride, tells him, in language which could not, it might he supposed, be easily misunderstood, that its gratification is legitimately to be obtained in no other way than by first obtaining the esteem ot Others.
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