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determined to adopt a different line of composition; his taste and talents are indisputable; may he soon
-Bear no token of the sabler streams,
And mount far off among the swans of Thames. Lord STRANGFORD has followed Mr. Moore in his beauties and in his errors. His versions from Camoens are a remarkable instance of the art with which, retaining the sense of an original, the colour of the translator's own mind may be flung over it. A voluptuous, effeminate, and sensual style of poetry, may be considered as one of the worst symptoms of a degenerate age. The Sybarites, when they saw their destruction inevitable, are said (if we recollect rightly) to have torn to pieces those poets whose lyres had soothed them in their selfish epicurism, and alienated their minds from virtuous exertion. We would willingly inflict the same punishment, not on the persons, but on the works of those of whom we have last spoken. Let the authors survive for repentance and atonement; if they have vir. tue for the first, they have talents for that which ought to be its first as its most valuable fruits.
The public have not been lately edified by any precepts in verse; or, to speak in the usual phrase, by any didactic poetry. To these poems we have never been much attached, since it appears that practical knowledge can be ill taught by the metaphorical and periphrastic language of poetry; and that all which is attained by the author, is the display of his own capacity for putting that into verse, which would be much more intelligible in prose. Accordingly, since the days of the “ Fleece," and the “Sugar Cane," didactic poems have been little attended to. Mr. Shee's Rhymes on Art seem to form a respectable exception; and no doubt the art of painting is so nearly connected with that of poetry, that the maxims necessary to understand the former, may, better than in any similar case, be conveyed through the medium of the sister art. Mr. Shee has the merit of being familiar, clear, and instructive, and his rules are, we believe, generally considered as well as calculated to explain hiş art. As a poet we do not think him entitled to stand in a high rank, nor are we inclined to deny him what is generally vermed a respectable one. The mention of this gentleman naturally reminds us of the heavy loss which both painting and poetry have sustained in the death of Hoppner;-a man whose original and expanded genius cultivated both arts with success. The small collection of tales which he gave to the public in 1806, as he inodestly expressed it " rather to shew his love than his skill," possess a humourous gravity and whimsical felicity of expression, superior to any thing of the kind which has since appeared. They ‘are admirable, in particular, when contrasted with the hard and laborious parturition which Mr. COLEMAN has produced, the string of puns which he wishes to be considered as comic stories. The extreme toil which it costs that poor gentleman to be facetious, damps our disposition to be amused by
his wit, as completely as it would spoil our enjoyment of a gala , dinner to be conscious that we were eating up the whole year's l'evenue of our hospitable landlord.
Another painter, WESTALL, a man of feeling and imagination, has published a poetical miscellany, the merit of which seems to illustrate our general proposition, that the alliance between poetry and painting is more than fanciful. His genius is not, however, of the highest order, and his verses are 190 like those of Warton and Dyer to claim the praise of originality.
There is a capacity for poetry that hovers between taste and genius, and which, iu a polished age, dictates more verses than a higher degree of talent. These, of course, have different degrees of merit, as they are the offspring of the heart or of the head, of feeling or of fancy, of real power of poetical expression, or of the mere desire to imitate what we admire, by the assistance of a memory stored with common places from other poets. As we rise in the scale, we find many whom only the pressure of business, or the pursuit of pleasure, or perhaps literary indolence, more powerful than either, has prevented from aspiring to more distinguished honours. Here we may notice the Hon. WILLIAM SPENCER, whose beautiful vers de 80cieté give us an high idea of his talents, mingled with regret that the avocations of a fashionable life should have occupied hours in which these talents might have been employed to his immortal fame. He has contented himself, however, with the
unambitious pretensions of a sonetteer and writer of occasional verses. These little manuscripts which flit around the higher circles of the gens comme il faut, which are transcribed by fair hands into red morocco souvenirs, and secured with silver bolts, like the bower of Fairley fair in the old ballad, may perhaps plead privilege against critical execution. We shall, therefore, content ourselves with saying, that Spencer has, in many instances, succeeded in imitating that light, gay, and felicitous expression of occasional poetry in which the French have hitherto been considered as unrivalled. The verses in the English Minstrelsy, beginning, “ Too late I staid,” are a happy instance of the delicacy of point and tournure which the Parisian bel esprit placed his highest ambition in attaining. Mr. Spencer has also taken the legendary harp with success, and sung us the ballad of BethGelert. We pray devoutly that dejeunés in the afternoon, and petit soupers in the morning, and all the et ceteras of idle occupation which fill up the hours between them, may leave this gentleman more at liberty in future to exert his talents and learning in pursuits more worthy of him.
Astrand by the side of Spencer, on the island of Alcina, but higher on the shore, and with less chance of floating, we view with concern the wreck of M. G. Lewis. Upon this author the cup of pleasure and fashion has produced a more baneful effect than upon the former. Spencer is only lulled by the draught into: voluptuous indolence, but Lewis has been stimulated to ill-judged and capricious exertions, totally unworthy of his natural genius. His first work, though he was indebted to the German for the most striking incident,* and though it was liable to yet stronger objections upon the score of morality, was indisputably the work of a man of talent. What he borrowed he made his own, not by altering and disfiguring, but by improving and beautifying it; and we were willing to hope that the warmth of his descriptions were owing to the want of judgment of a very young man. In this hope, let us do Mr. Lewis the justice to say, we have not been disappointed, he has done all in his power to obliterate the memory of this original error; but
• The story of the Bleeding Nun occurs, with very little variation, in the pomular tales of Musæus, under the title of Die Entführing, i.e. The Elopement.
he has not put off the boy in other respects. He continues to overwhelm us with puerilities, ghost-ballads, ghost-romances, and diablerie. We do not unite with the common cry, in denouncing all use of this supernatural machinery in poetry. There is a feeling implanted in our nature responsive to it, and which, therefore, may be legitimately appealed to. But it is a spring which soon loses its force if injudiciously pressed upon, and Mr. Lewis has used it unsparingly. He is not sufficiently attentive, be. sides, to investing his tales of wonder with circumstances of probability. The poet who employs in his art the generally received superstitions of any country, has a right to demand our attention, because, though these were false in themselves, they were, nevertheless, believed to be true. But Mr. Lewis has dragged together hobgoblins from every coast and climate, as if there had been a general gaol-delivery at Pandemonium, or as the whole demons banished of yore to the Red Sea, had at once returned from transportation. The same puerility of taste has infected Mr. Lewis's writings in other respects. He accumu. lates images of horror till they excite disgust, and expects to impress us with terror by details of the shambles or charnelhouse. In another situation, a course of salutary criticism might have gradually amended Mr. Lewis's taste, and weaned him from his German lust after marvellous narrative, hyperbolical language, overstrained passion, and distorted imagery. But, moving in a circle where his talents naturally attract the admiration which would be generally bestowed upon them were they exerted with more prudence, we have little hope that our animadversions will be of any use to him.
Mr. REGINALD Heber may, we fear, be considered as one whom a too easy situation in life is likely to seduce from the service of the Muses, his proper and natural mistresses. The answer of the wealthy veteran, Ibit qui'perdidit zonam, has a force in poetry as well as in military enterprise. Ile who hopes to acquire, by his talents, that distinction which is the road to fortune, is compelled to place himself frequently before the puh. lic. But the man of affluence naturally shrinks from the trouble necessary to assert his literary rank, and from exposing himself to viralett criticism and unceasing cabal. IIe feels that whatever
the vulgar suppose, the real pleasure of the poetic talent consists in the power of calling up and arraying imaginary groups; and that the toil of arresting the glittering visions, of embodying them in verse, and clothing them with suitable language, is usually unsatisfactory labour. But the author of “ Palestine," and of « Europe,” ought not to think so. The former, a juvenile work, had the faults natural to early compositions. There was a profusion of epithet, an affectation of balanced and sounding versification, and a pomp of eloquence which sometimes exceeded the classical standard. In « Europe,” Mr. Heber's latest composition, the unfortunate turn of events, which has baffled the prophecy of the poet, and the sagacity of the statesman, casts an unpleasing gloom over the subject. We do not like to look back upon disappointed hopes and successless efforts, when we remember the glow of expectation which originally preceded our disappointment. Under these disadvantages, however, Mr. Heber's essays place him in a fair rank for poetical fame; for he has a richness of language, command of versification, and strength of ideas, that may lead him to high and distinguished eminence. We sincerely hope that neither the duties of his profession, nor the opiate of ease and affluence, will prevent his again claiming the public notice, or occasion his sinking into the genteel and occasional versifier.
There are other dilletanti authors, earls, and knights, whom we might be expected to notice, especially as they have taken the field in form as dramatic poets, and epic poets, and Esopian fabulists. But it would be unfair to review what we have found ourselves unable to read; and we can only pledge ourselves, that when these eminent personages shall produce a play or a poem, or even a single apologue, which has been actually peru. sed by any one above being bribed by a dinner, or the hopes of a seat in the chariot, we shall do our best to imitate an instance of such laudable perseverance.
The very antipodes of this class are the poets who daily spring up among the lees of the people, and find admirers to patronize them, because they write “wonderfully well considering." This is, abstractedly, one of the most absurd claims to distinction possible. We do not suppose any living poet,