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of it's language, for the adoption and arrangeinent of its imagery, for the piety and pathos of it's sentiment.
The Domisil Odes, which formi a fine contrast witli the plaintive melody of the Muse of Sorrow, breathie niuch of the martial ardor and festivity of the heroes of Scandinavia'. They are evidently built on the model of Gray's celebrated Norse' Lyrics, and, like thiem, glow with enthiusiasm, and display some striking features of the wild mythology of the North. The fourth and fifth stanzas" of the first ode, are particularly' entitled to commendation.
Bruce appears to have been well qualified to excel in Legendary Poetry, and to have formed a very accurate idea of its principles and peculiarities! His ballad of Sir Jantesa the Ross, is well told, the incidents are arts fully mariaged, and the whole strongly inte rest's the heart. That it was formed on aj
just conception of this style of poetry, and cotta posed to use an Italian phrasé, con amore, are evident from his own account ; « it was written,” he observes to Mr. Pearsori, “in
one afternoon, began about four, and finished before I went to bed. I never tried any thing which fell in with my inclination so. The Historical Ballad is a species of writing by itself. The common people confound it with the Song, but, in truth, they are widely different. A Song should never be historical. It is founded, generally, on some one thought, which must be prosecuted and exhibited in every light, with a quickness and turn of ex. pression peculiar to itself. The Ballad, again, is founded on some passage of history, or, what suits its nature better, of tradition. Here the poet may use his liberty, and cut and carve as he has a mind. I think it a kind of writing, remarkably adapted to the Scottish language."
This opinion of our poet, relative to the adaptation of the Scottish dialect to Legendary poetry, is certainly well founded, and has been since confirmed by several very learned and adequate judges.* In fact, the two finest Ballads that British poetry has te produce are of Scottish growth, namely,
# Vide Beattie, Pinkerton, Currie, &c. &c.
llardyknute and Tam O'Shanter, the former uniformly grand, sublime, and awful; the latter uniting the wild and terrific imagery of Shakspeare, with the humour, simplicity, and näivete of Fontaine.
On the pastoral poetry of Bruce I can be. stow little commendation; it has the too frequent insipidity of productions of this kind. The Daphnis, as an imitation of Milton, is infinitely inferior to its prototype, and for the Alexis, if we except harmony of versification, I know not that any thing can be said. A few words will likewise suffice as to his efforts in ludicrous composition, for which, perhaps, he had no great talent, when of his Mousiad and his Anacreontic it has been asserted, that they may amuse, and are not altogether deficient in pleasantry and humour, all that he can claim hạs probably been granted.
Concerning the authenticity of the pieces which have been added to the last edition of our author's poems, much dispute has arisen. Logan, very injudiciously, on first publishing the works of his friend, intermingled poems of his own and of others, to which no discriminating mark or signature was annexed. Of these he has acknowledged only one, the Ode to a Cuckoo, which he reprinted in a collection of his poems in 1781. Neglecting, however, the discordant testimony which has been adduced, and judging merely by internal evidence, I should have little hesitation in assigning the Ode to a Fountain, and the Imitation of Ossian to Bruce; they have great inerit, especially the Ode, which exbibits much of the plaintive tenderness and style peculiar to the poet of Lochleven.
It may be thought necessary, perhaps, ere I conclude my observations, to notice a poem of considerable length, which has been communicated by a Mr. Birrel, of Kinnesswond, as an undoubted composition of Bruce. The subject, which is The Last Day, I cannot but consider as an unfortunate one, as one to which the powers of poetry are not adequate, and on which, not even the efforts of a Milton or a Klopstock could confer an in, terest, or cloath with a sublimity, that should meet even the expectations and already awakened imagination of the common reader,
Of two specimens by poets, possessed of strong creative powers, neither has, in my opinions, succeeded; the Last Day of Young has certainly merit, and the production of Ogilvie, on the same topic, still greater ; but both have failed to excite ideas, either of tertor or sublimity, equal to what the mere outline of Scripture affords; nor can the effort of our amiable bard, the last, I believe, which has been published, establish any claim to superior success ; in making this attempt, he had not duly weighed his genius and his talents.
These, we have seen, were admirably calculated to excel in the walks of tenderness, simplicity and pathos; to describe in chaste, yet animated language, the beauties of Na. ture, and to impart a value imperishable to his pictures, from the stores of sentiment and feeling. Lochleven and the Elegy writ. ten in Spring, display a most happy combination of these qualities, and, as long as tasse and sensibility shall exist, will, we may venture to assert, never be forgotten.
As to the personal character of the Author,