Obrázky na stránke

verily think, for strength of imagination, and vivacity and richness of colouring unequalled. Impartial criticism, however, compels us to observe that the Botanic Garden is not without defects; two leading ones may be mentioned; a monotony in the versification arising from its uniform and excessive splendour, and a want of due connection between the different parts of the poem; the descriptions are nearly insulated, that is, they are deficient in that kind of combination which is necessary to form a concording and interesting whole.

Who can contrast these didactic poets with the philosophical and metaphysical ones of the age of Elizabeth, and for an instant hesitate where to bestow a decided preference!

As it is presumed that no person can possess a taste so singular, and I may add, so perverted, as to esteein Donne, Marston or even Hall, superior to Churchill and Anstey any considerable comment on this province of the art will be readily dispensed with. To the energy and severity of Churchill, and the playful humour of the Bath Guide we may also add the poignant effusions of Peter Pindar,


the elegant and well timed satire of Gifford and the powerful, nervous and sometimes sublime strains of the unknown author of The Pursuits of Literature. This last production though in a few places unnecessarily caustic and querulous, and too indiscriminate in the objects of its literary censure, is the product of extensive erudition, and of a wish to befriend the noblest efforts of patriotism and religion. The poet has brought to his task powers alike vigorous and multiform, and has given to his country in the hour of difficulty and danger certainly no trifling, no unimportant aid. Several smaller anonymous productions of acknowledged excellence in this department have within the last thirty years been presented to the public. To enumerate these would occupy too much room. The Heroic Epistle however, to Sir William Chambers, the Archaelogical Epistle to Dean Milles, and the Probationary Odes, as possessing very prominent and distinguished merit, should not be passed in silence.

In a late elegant critique in the Monthly Review, and which forms an exception to the complaint at the commencement of the preceding number, occur the following judicious observations: 6 That the human mind is not *at all times adequate to every customary exertion, or that, while it is in a progressive state with respect to its general attainments, some one of its energies should necessarily droop and degenerate -are not among the doctrines which we hold; and though it has been com. mon to apply such a strain of speculation to the works of fancy, in a period distinguished for scientific improvements, we are fully convinced, from the productions that come under our survey, that the theory is not founded in fact. In particular, the experience of a few past years has abundantly proved to us, that never was there a time in which English poetry was cultivated with more genius, nor with happier effect."* These remarks will apply in full force to our column of Miscellaneous Poets, which, considering the period of time we have limited ourselves to, has never been equalled, and probably never will be excelled. What can be more exquisite than the poetry of Goldsmith, whose versification is, without any exception, more sweet and harmonious WA,..

Vide Montbly Review for July 1797, p. 278.

than that of any other poet, and whose sentiments and imagery are equally beautiful and pathetic. Dr. Beattie has observed that "several cantos might be mentioned of the Fairy Queen, the preservation of which would not compensate the loss of The Castle of Indolence."‡ with yet greater propriety might this be affirmed as to the supposed loss of his own charming poem The Minstrel, whose delightful pictures of nature, whose pensive morality and fascinating simplicity of expression render it inexpressibly dear and interesting; indeed he who can read it without sensations of rapture must be lost as the dead to harmony and feel. ing. The Pleasures of Memory, by Mr. Rogers, is another effort of the modern muses which calls for admiration; the subject is happily chosen, and its polished flow of verse and tender sentiment have justly made it a favourite with the public. Hayley's Chef d' œuvre, The Triumphs of Temper, must be also noticed in this place, as I have not been able to class it under any of the preceding heads, and indeed, it seems well entitled to the honour


* Beattie on the Usefulness of Classical Learning,

P. 499

of forming a new species of poetry, for in structure and design it differs materially from what has been denominated the Heroi-comic poem. Its visionary scenes are drawn and tinted with a masterly pencil, and do great credit to the Italian school, in whose spirit and style they have been conceived and executed, and his Heroine, all gentle and interesting, fully developes the magnetic influence of that sweetest of all possessions, an amiable temper. It would occupy too much room, and would indeed be superfluous, to dwell at large upon all the excellent productions of this class, popular as most of them are. When to those already mentioned we can add the Sympathy of Pratt, the Louisa of Seward, the Peru of Williams, the Sonnets of Charlotte Smith and Bowles, the Country Justice of Langhorne, the Influence of Local Attachment by Polwhele, the Poems of Burns, and a variety of other productions of no less merit, the opinion of the monthly critic will be sufficiently justified, and the vast superiority of our miscellaneous poets' over those of the Elizabethan period incontrovertibly established.

To institute any comparison between the

« PredošláPokračovať »