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it is our wish, as far as we are able, to encourage merit and to check presumption. But care must be taken lest the critic's undiscerning or unskilful hand should pluck up the wheat with the tares. Better, far better, would it be to let them grow together till the harvest— till the period when popular opinion, which, in exercising its judgment, is rarely to be biassed, and almost never to be corruptly perverted, shall assign to every one his reward, according to his deserts.*
It is really delightful to consider the vast quantity of poetic talent which exists in the country, and the liberal encouragement which it receives from the public. To what cause, we would enquire, shall these effects, so glorious, and so honourable, be attributed by the calm and philosophical enquirer? To the freedom of the press, and to the diffusion, now general, of the rudiments of education among, what are commonly called, the " lower orders." No one, we believe, will deny that freedom is essentially necessary to the very existence of a literary character among the people. At what period did the polite arts, the literce humaniores, flourish with the greatest lustre among the Romans? Surely not under the domination of the despotic emperors. No: from the age of Augustus, who, like our Elizabeth, maluit esse quam videri 'potentS and exercised theabsoluteauthority with which he was in reality in vested, only upon considerable occasions; and who, though he took care that the senaMs-consulta, should ever be conformable to the Imperial Orationes, yet, in appearance, ever acted in conformity with their advice;—from this period till the fall of the empire we scarcely discover six names worthy to be rescued from the waters of oblivion. True it is, indeed, thatas an exception, but one which most completely proves the rule, under the effeminate and contemptible Honorius the spirit of poetry did break forth in the productions of a Claudian, like the departing glory of a setting sun, but it was only to
Give one bright glance, then total disappear;
and by the contrast with its superlative
* See some remarkably beautiful and spirited remarks upon this subject in the article upon John Dennis's Works, in the first volume of the Retrospective Review, p. 317—322.
brilliancy, to render that " darkness" which followed its departure more "visible," and more painful.
Our preliminary remarks have already run out to an extent far beyond what we had in any manner prepared for and intended, and it is now time to direct our attention to the publication before us. This, as we have already intimated, is evidently the production of a young and inexperienced writer. His errors are those of youth, and not of dullness, while his merits are such as induce us to look for much improvement from his future exertions. The contents are classed under the various heads of Pastoral, Narrative, Epistolary, &c. (we would call them Miscellaneous,) and poems on Particular Occasions, to which are to be added Translations from Ovid, Virgil, Horace, and Martial. Of each of these, save the Narrative, we propose to extract a specimen. There is nothing very remarkable in the style of his poetry. It has none of those fiery flashes, those extravagant eruptions, which, in opposition to the practice of the most approved poets, characterize too large a portion of the productions of the present day; but it possesses much that is gentle, sweet, and harmonious, resembling more strikingly the placid rippling of the softly flowing rivulet than theheadlong, but tremendous and unequal thundering of the boisterous cataract.
Our first extract will be from the pastoral poetry. The poem selected is that entitled "A Wish," which, though it does not so nearly resemble the melody and naivete of Shenstone, as some other pieces of this class, is yet highly creditable to Mr. Bonney's genius; and as it is not too long for extraction as a whole, we give it the preference to others, perhaps more deserv ing of our notice. Oft let me wander through the lonely
dell, Where silence calm and contemplation
dwell; Secluded far from all the world's alarms, To revel unrestrain'd iu Nature's charms Through woods impervious to the sultry
While softest music charms from ev ry
spray; Where flow'rs arouud a thousand sweets
exhale, And health and vigour breathe in ev'ry
gale; Where fruits that perfect form and taste
combine, The velvet peach, transparent nectarine,
And And vines depress'd with purple clusters
stand, Aud, bending, seem to lure the willing
hand; While from the barks ambrosial gums
distil, And all the air with heav'nly odours fill. May I, when burns the noontide sun
be laid, Beneath some weeping willow's friendly
shade, Where on the verdant bank, with thyme
o'erspread, The modest bluebell hangs its fragrant
head; Or sad Narcissus, leaning o'er the stream Indulges yet the lovely, fatal dream. There Idly watch the bubbles as they
pass, Or count the wavings of the silky grass; Yet through the op'ning wood, in distant
scene, The fields of golden corn, the meadows
green, And mountains fading in the azure sky, With contrast apt shall charm my ravish'd
eye. Let here a peaceful cot adorn the plain, Or nod the ruins of a mould'iing fane; The regal palace there shall proudly rise, And, like another Babel, dare the skies; Or humble spire uplift the pious eye, Yet prove but Earth how low and Heav'n
how high. Nor seldom let the swiftly-gliding sail With white and swelling bosom court the
gale, Where hoary Thames his tide exhaustless
pours, And bears Britannia's wealth to farthest
While playful wand'ring from the parent
stream, A thousand riv'lets through the forest
gleam, Meand'ring bright o'er painted meads
around, Then fall in broad cascades with lulling
sound. Let ev'ning bring the cool and silent
hour; The sun with beauty fill his void of pow'r, As, glancing o'er the waves his crimson
eye, One mutual blush o'erspreads the sea and
sky. Delightful then, all earthly cares forgot, To sit in some sequester'd mossy grot, While scarce a reed by waving wind is
stirr'd, And floating on the silent air is heard Some home-returning peasant's artless
rhyme, Or o'er the lake the faintly tolling chime!
Bnt when, at length, each weary sense desires Refreshing sleep, (for even pleasure tires ;)
When hides the day behind the purpled^
When now no more is heard the mur-1
m'ring rill, ;■ i
And e'en the zephyr's gentle breath is;
still; * J
When hush'd is ev'ry bird's mellifluous note E'en Philomela's sweetly plaintive throat; When slumb'riug Nature veil surrounding
shades, And not a sound her calm repose invades; No more let me untimely vigils keep, But thank the God of all, and sink to
sleep. And then, as on the world I close mine
eyes, Let other worlds the realms of Fancy rise, Where ev'ry bliss is perfect in its kind, Aud ev'ry blest enjoyment unconfin'd; Some wider views—that ever new appear; Some sweeter sounds—that never tire the
ear; Some fairer flow'rs—that ne'er conceal a
thorn; Some brighter days—fbat beam with constant morn: Till waking early—vanish'd all—I haste As much of real good as mortals can to
taste. After tliis long extract, we eannof, as wc had originally intended, afford room for the interesting (ale of Edwin ami Ellen, which we had noted its a specimen of the author's talents in narrative poetry. This we regret the moie, as it is one of the most beautiful pieces In the whole collection; but we cannot prevail upon ourselves to extract a part and not the whole; as that course, while it proved unsatisfactory to our readers, could not hut be injurious to the talents of our author.
Of the miscellaneous poetry, the verses addressed "To a Stoic Friend," deserve especial notice. They are remarkable for that easy playfulness of construction, which is this gentleman's forte, of which we would recommend the assidious cultivation. Stubborn is he that was never subdu'd; Proud is the spirit that never has sued; Dull is the eye that has never been
charm'd; Cold is the heart that has never been
warm'd. Then yield to the gentle dominion of love, And sue for his pleasures, all treasures
above; Illumine thine eyes at fair Venus's gaze, ■ And kindle thy heart at young Hymen's
pure blaze. The verses " On Hearing a Selection from the Messiah," are undoubtedly the best of the poems on Particular Occasions; but as these are too long for insertion sertion entire, we prefer presenting to our readers another" Wish," written upon " his Birth-day." Oh! may ev'ry return of the day of my
birth See me fitter for Heav'n, and more useful
on earth; Let my time to seek wisdom, not riches,
be spent; But if rich, make me grateful—if poor, yet
content. May I ne'er in affliction repine at the rod, Nor in happiness e'er be forgetful of God. While my frienship to all is incessantly
prov'd, May I lore only owe, if by her I am lov'd. May I ne'er betray friend, or by friend be
betray'd; So, not weary of life, nor of dying afraid, I with pleasure may look on the year that
is past, And with calmness reflect it perhaps was
To the difficulties of translation we ourselves can bear grievous testimony; in addition to the ordinary claims of "rhyme and reason,'''' the author's .spirit and sense is to be transplanted, without dilution, into a foreign language—a thing almost impossible; besides which, persons who have read the poem in the original language, have their memories stored with its beauties, and those who have not read it can never appreciate the merits of a translation. Horace, in particular, is of all authors, save Homer and the Theban Pindar, the most difficult to translate. The curiosa felicitas, as Petronius Arbiter happily expresses it, the elegant playfulsprightliness of the Iloman, is so entirely his own, that we should conceive it to be scarcely possible to transfuse his thoughts into a foreign language without entirely destroying their characteristic beauty. We have not seen Mr. Wrangham's translation, but comparing Mr. Bonney's translation of the following poem, with that of Dr. Francis (hitherto considered the best translator,) we have no difficulty in awarding the palmam nobilem to the former. To enable the reader, however, to judge for himself, we have subjoined, first the original ode (the 30th of the 1st book,) then Dr. Francis's and Mr. Bonney's versions.
O Veuus, regina Cnidi Paphique,
Fervidus tecum puer, et solutis
Monthly Mao. No 361.
Et (partial comis sine te)* .Tuventai
Mercuriusque. Queen of beauty, queen of smiles Leave, oh leave, thy favourite isles; A temple rises to thy fame 1
Where Glycera invokes thy name, v
And bids the fragrant incense flame. j
With thee bring thy love-warm son,
And sprightly Youth, who without thee, £.
O Venus, of Cnidus and Paphus the queen, Contemn favour'd Cyprus, and deign to be seen . In Glycera's temple, where perfumes invite; With thee be the Graces, with girdles
unbound, And the nymphs, rosy Cupid and Mercury found, And Youth, who without thee can little
delight. Of the other specimens of translated verse, we cannot present any opinion. The above is certainly the best, both for fidelity of translation and justness of expression; but we are certainly of opinion that Mr. Bonney's own productions are superior to his translations.
To conclude, his faults are almoit always the consequence of negligence, not of design, and for this reason we hope to see them corrected in a subsequent edition. Edwin and Ellen, which we have already so favourably mentioned, contains some of the errors of the description we allude to. The epithet " cold," as applied to religion, for example, savours too much of the voluptuary and sceptic ; and such we are sure Mr. Bonney would be sorry to be considered. The catastrophe, too, of the same poems, we considered to be in bad taste; nor indeed, as a painter would say, is it " in good keeping." The first error was perhaps excuseable, under the circumstances; but what shall be said of the second? Beside which, it is not at all probable, that a girl, so strictly devout and pious as the heroine is described to have been before the fatal evening, should have suddenly become so lost to all sense of religion and of duty, as to force herself nnbid
* It is remarkable that both the above translators have translated Juventas, (a name of Hebe, the Goddess of Youth,) a» if Horace had written Juventa, the period of life preceding manhood. Vet. Schol. ad locum. We are not aware of any conies of this ode which authorize such reading,
3G <*« den into the presence of an offended Maker, and to seek her last great and dread account With all her imperfections on her head. These, however, are, as we said, the imperfections to be expected from a young and inexperienced writer; and, with Horace, we will add, in conclusion, that when as he
■ Plora nitent in carmine, non ego paucit Oft'endar maculis, qua» aut incuria fudit,
Ant humana parum cavit natura.
and recommend these Nugse to the patronage of our readers.
To the Editor of the Monthly Magazine. tin,
WHEN gross misrepresentations of any description, but more particularly or an individual nature, are laid open to public investigation, it then becomes the duty of those better acquainted with facts to detect the errors, by giving an authentic statement of what actually existed on the subject in question. In the 52d volume of the Monthly Magazine for Nov. 1821, an extract is published from MSS. denominated "Stephensiana;" which extract is notoriously incorrect in almost every sentence. I allude to the article "Paul Jones," In which nearly the whole detailed communication evinces the total misinformation of the writer. It is true, the error may appear a venial one, inasmuch as the general outline of occurrences, is, in some measure, preserved; but nothing ought to be considered as trifling that affects the cause of truth or common justice, where either the character or feelings of our fellow creatures are obviously implicated.
In the first instance, the late Mr. Craik's christian name was not Robert but William; in the next, there is no' such place as Arbigglings in Dumfriesshire, orany where else in the south of Scotland. Arbigland, the real designation of the above gentleman's estate, is situated on the coast of Galloway, not sixteen miles from Dumfries, and certainly in annual amount, more than doubles the sum mentioned in the Monthly Magazine for November. Instead of dying in 1796, or 7, at the adTanced age of 90, Mr. Craik's decease happened in 1798, in the 95th year of his yet more prolonged existence. Why Mr. Stephens should assert that Paul Jones was that gentleman's son by a female servant, is impossible now to discover. The woman in question was the wife of
John Paul, Mr. Craik's gardener, who remained upwards of forty years in his service. The master and these two domestics were both married in the same week, so far back as the year 1733, and the female to whom Mr. Stephens so charitably alludes, had three daughters and one or two sons before the birth of the said Paul Jones actually took place. It was not late in life when Mr. Craik succeeded to his father's estate of Arbigland, and his having ever been in the excise is equally false; he was, however, surveyor general of the customs, in which the latter mistake has no doubt originated. His legitimate son did not perish between Arbigland and Carlisle, for this conclusive reason, thatthe last mentioned place happens to be situated at some distance from the ocean. The fatal event occurred between his father's house at Arbigland and Allonby, on the opposite shore of Cumberland, in 1782; neither was it a cousin, but the son of his eldest sister, who succeeded to the estate.
Should any further intelligence on the existing subject be deemed necessary, application may be made to the writer of the present communication, who happening to be the sole surviving daughter of the late Mr. Craik, conceives herself fully as competent as Mr. Stephens to answer any questions the occasion may henceforth require. Helen Craik. Flimby Lodge, near Maryport,
Cumberland, Nov. 12, 1821.
To the Editor of the Monthly Magazine.
MR. GIBBON is not only an admirer of the enlightened system of the Persian Magi, but an implicit believer in the pure and perfect ideas of religion and morality, entertained by the Grecian and Roman philosophers in general. The inference deducible from this representation is too obvious to need either explanation or comment. "In their writings and conversation," says this historian, (vol. 1, p. 49.) " the philosophers of antiquity asserted the independent dignity of reason ; but they resigned their actions to the commands \jf law and of custom. Viewing with a smile of pity and indulgence the various errors of the vulgar, they diligently practisedthe ceremonies of their fathers; devoutly frequented the temples of the gods. Reasoners of such a temper were scarcely inclined to wrangle about their respective modesof faith, or of worship. It was indifferent to them what shape
the folly of the multitude might chuse to assume; and they approached with the same inward contempt and the same external reverence, the altars of the Libyan, Olympian, or the Capitoline Jupiter.*'
But who are those ancient sages to whom this pompous description is applicable? Anaxagoras alone, maintained in Greece- the sublime doctrine of one God; but far from " resigning his actions to the commands of law and custom," he was expelled from Athens for non-compliance with the established worship. Democritus openly taught in that city the doctrine of the Atomic philosophy, and his scholar, Protagoras, commenced one of Jlis treatises in the following manner. " Of the Gods I know nothing, neither that they are, nor that they are not, for our understandings are too much clouded, and the life of man is too short for the solution of so difficult a problem." Diagoras was accused of atheism, and banished from Athens for impiety. If these were the philosophers to whom Mr. G. alludes, as " assei ting the dignity of.reason," they certainly did not at the same time approach with reverence the altars of Jupiter. In Rome Seneca, as we are told by Tacitus, when expiring in the bath, made indeed a libation to Jupiter Liberator. But how will Mr. G. reconcile this to "the dignity of reason?" And even of the philosophic hero' of Gibbon, the imperial apostate, that historian says, "A devout and sincere attachment to the Gods of Athens and Rome, constituted the ruling passion of Julian." Vol. 4, p. 63.
As, however, Mr. Gibbon has prudently avoided to name those sages for whom his panegyric is designed, the most unexceptionable test of its truth or falsehood, will be to examine how far the principles of Socrates, confessedly the most celebrated of the heathen illuminati for wisdom, and the only philosopher of antiquity who died a willing martyr to his creed, will answer to the standard of perfection thus set up.
The prosecution of Socrates is upon good ground believed to have originated more in political than religious motives, having by the freedom of his animadversions made himself obnoxious to the ruling powers. The accusation preferred by Melitus, was indeed in part political; but the success of the prosecution mainly depended upon the allegation of his depreciating the
Gods acknowledged by the stale, and teaching novelties in religion. As Socrates refused any kind of concession, or apology, by which it is allowed that he might easily have saved his life, the sincerity of his confession cannot be questioned. " Upon what foundation," said he in his defence, "can it be alleged that I do not acknowledge the Gods of the republic, who have been often seen to sacrifice at my own house, as well as in the temples? Can it be doubted whether he uses divination, to whom it is imputed as a crime, that he believe:} himself favoured with divine suggestions?—Pass on me what sentence you please, I can neither repent or change my conduct.—At my age, and with the reputation, true or false, which I have acquired, would ft be consistent in me, after all the lessons I have given on the contempt of death, to be afraid of it myself? and to belie, in my last action, all the principles and sentiments of my past life?" Far, however, from being disposed to renounce the radical dogmas, of the popular creed, he declared w that he had never sacrificed to, or acknowledged, or sworn by, or even made mention of any other gods than Jupiter, Juno, and others, who were received by his fellow-citizens* Do not I believe," said he, "that the sun and moon are gods? Do we not suppose demons, i. e. Betherial spirits, to be the offspring of Gods?" He strongly advised his friends to seek counsel of the gods, according to the antient and established modes, and by the medium of the inspired oracles of the country. He composed a hymn in the neay prospect of death, to Apollo and Diana. His last mysterious direction was to sacrifice a cock to Esculapius; and though believing in a- supreme deity, he was far from affirming him to be the only god; or indeed any other than the Olympian Jove, the absolute and undisputed sovereign of gods and men.
Among the numerous disciples of Socrates, the most distinguished names were those of Plato and Xenophon. Of Plato, it is indeed allowed " that he resigned his actions to the commands of law and custom." But as the laws and customs of Athens were upon the whole extremely tolerant, we have a sufficient opportunity of judging how far the real sentiments of that great genius were consonant to " the dignity of reason," and to what degree he was lost and bewildered in the wilds and