페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

While mountain spirits prate to river sprites,
That dames may listen to the sound at nights;
And goblin brats, of Gilpin Horner's brood,*
Decoy young border nobles through the wood,
And skip at every step, Lord knows how high,
And frighten foolish babes, the Lord knows why ;
While high-born ladies in their magic cell,
Forbidding knights to read who cannot spell,
Despatch a courier to a wizard's grave,
And fight with honest men to shield a knave.

Next view in state, proud prancing on his roan,
The golden-crested haughty Marmion,
Now forging scrolls, now foremost in the fight,
Not quite a felon, yet but half a knight,
The gibbet or the field prepared to grace;
A mighty mixture of the great and base.
And think'st thou, Scott ! by vain conceit perchance,
On public taste to foist thy stale romance?
Though Murray with his Miller may combine
To yield thy muse just half a crown per line?
No! when the sons of song descend to trade,
Their bays are sear, their former laurels fade.
Let such forego the poet's sacred name,
Who rack their brains for lucre, not for fame;
Low may they sink to merited contempt,
And scorn remunerate the mean attempt !
Such be their meed, such still the just reward
Of prostituted muse and hireling bard !
For this we spurn Apollo's venal son,
And bid a long “good night to Marmion."*

These are the themes that claim our plaudits now; These are the bards to whom the muse inust bow: While Milton, Dryden, Pope, alike forgot, Resign their hallow'd bays to Walter Scott.

The time has been, when yet the muse was young, When Homer swept the lyre, and Maroš sung, An epic scarce ten centuries could claim,

While awe-struck nations hail'd the magic name; Then we have the amiable William of Deloraine, “a stark mosstrooper," videlicet, a happy compound of poacher, sheep-stealer, and highwayman. The propriety of his magical lady's injunction not to read can only be equalled by his candid acknowledgment of his independence of the trammels of spelling, although, to use his own elegant phrase, “ 'twas his neck-verse at Harribee," i. e, the gallows.

* The biography of Gilpin Horner, and the marvellous pedestrian page, who travelled twice as fast as his master's horse, without the aid of seven-leagued boots, are chefsd'ouvre in the improvement of taste. For incident we have the invisible, but by no means sparing, box on the ear, bestowed on the page, and the entrance of a knight and charger into the castle, under the very natural disguise of a wain of hay. Marmion, the hero of the latter romance, is exactly what William of Deloraine would have been, had he been able to read and write. The poem was manufactured for Messrs. Constable, Murray, and Miller, worshipful booksellers, in consideration of the receipt of a sum of money; and truly, considering the inspiration, it is a very creditable production. If Mr. Scott will write for hire, let him do his best for his paymasters, but not disgrace his genius, which is undoubtedly great, by a repetition of black letter ballad imitations. + " Good night to Marmion"

the pathetic and also prophetic exclamation of Henry Blount, Esquire, on the death of honest Marmion.

Virgil.

The work of each immortal bard appears
The single wonder of a thousand years.
Empires have moulder'd from the face of earth,
Tongues have expired with those who gave them birth,
Without the glory such a strain can give,
As even in ruin bids the language live.
Not so with us, though minor bards content,
On one great work a life of labour spent:
With eagle pinion soaring to the skies,
Behold the ballad-monger Southey rise !
To him let Camoëns, Milton, Tasso yield,
Whose annual strains, like armies, take the field.

First in the ranks see Joan of Arc advance,
The scourge of England, and the boast of France !
Though burnt by wicked Bedford for a witch, †
Behold her statue placed in glory's niche;
Her fetters burst, and just released from prison,
A virgin phenix from her ashes risen.
Next see tremendous Thalaba come on, #
Arabia's monstrous, wild, and wondrous son;
Domdaniel's dread destroyer, who o'erthrew
More mad magicians than the world e'er knew.
Immortal hero ! all thy foes o'ercome,
For ever reign-the rival of Tom Thumb!
Since startled metre fled before thy face,
Well wert thou doom'd the last of all thy race !
Well might triumphant genii bear thee hence,
Illustrious conqueror of common sense!
Now, last and greatest, Madoc spreads his sails,
Cacique in Mexico, and Prince in Wales;
Tells us strange tales, as other travellers do,
More old than Mandeville's, and not so true. S
Oh! Southey, Southey, cease thy varied song !||
A bard may chant too often and too long ;
As thou art strong in verse, in mercy spare !
A fourth, alas ! were more than we could bear.
But if, in spite of all the world can say,
Thou still wilt verseward plod thy weary way;

. As the “ Odyssey" is so closely connected with the story of the “Tiad," they may almost be classed as one grand historical poem. In alluding to Milton and Tasso, we consider the “Paradise Lost," and “ Gierusalemme Liberata," as their standard efforts ; since neither the “ Jerusalem Conquered" of the Italian, nor the “ Paradise Regained of the English bard, obtained a proportionate celebrity to their former poems. Query: Which of Mr. Southey's will survive ?

+ Soine French authors now say that she was not burnt, and that her descendants are alive to prove it.

"Thalaba," Mr. Southey's second poem, is written in open defiance of precedent and poetry. Mr. 8. wished to produce something novel, and succeeded to a miracle. "Joan of Arc" was marvellous enough, but “ Thalaba” was one of those poems " which," in the words of Porson,“ will be read when Homer and Virgil are forgotten, but-not till then.'

A celebrated traveller, of very doubtful veracity.

We beg Mr. Southey's pardon: “ Madoc disdains the degraded title of epic." See his preface. Why is Epic degraded ? and by whom ! Certainly the late romaunts of Masters Cottle, Laureate Pye, Ogilvy, Hole, and gentle Mistress Cowley, have not exalted the Epic Muse; but as Mr. Southey's poem " disdains the appellation," allow us to ask-has he substituted anything better in its stead? or must he be content to rival Sir Richard Blackmore in the quantity as well as quality of his verse ?

[ocr errors]

If still in Berkeley ballads most uncivil,
Thou wilt devote old women to the devil, *
The babe unborn thy dread intent may rue :
“God help thee,” Southey, and thy readers too.t

Next comes the dull disciple of thy school,
That mild apostate from poetic rule,
The simple Wordsworth, framer of a lay
As soft as evening in his favourite May,
Who warns his friend to shake off toil and trouble,
And quit his books, for fear of growing double;"#
Who, both by precept and example, shows
That prose is verse, and verse is merely prose;
Convincing all, by demonstration plain,
Poetic souls delight in prose insane;
And Christmas stories, tortured into rhyme,
Contain the essence of the true sublime.
Thus, when he tells the tale of Betty Foy,
The idiot mother of “an idiot boy,'
A moon-struck, silly lad, who lost his way,
And, like his bard, confounded night with day ;$
So close on each pathetic part he dwells,
And each adventure so sublimely tells,
That all who view the “idiot in his glory,"
Conceive the bard the hero of the story.

Shall gentle Coleridge pass unnoticed here,
To turgid ode and tumid stanza dear?
Though themes of innocence amuse him best,
Yet still obscurity's a welcome guest.
If Inspiration should her aid refuse
To him who takes a pixy for a muse, ||
Yet none in lofty numbers can surpass
The bard who soars to elegise an ass.
How well the subject suits his noble mind !
“A fellow-feeling makes us wondrous kind.”

Oh! wonder-working Lewis ! monk, or bard,
Who fain wouldst make Parnassus a churchyard !
Lo! wreaths of yew, not laurel, bind thy brow,
Thy muse a sprite, Apollo's sexton thou!

page 23.

* See, “ The Old Woman of Berkeley," a ballad by Mr. Southey, wherein an aged gentlewoman is carried away by Beelzebub, on a “high trotting horse."

+ The last line, "God help thee,” is an evident plagiaristu from the “ Anti-Jacobin " to Mr. Southey, on his Dactylics. “God help thee, silly one.- Poetry of the Anti-Jacobin, 1" Lyrical Ballads,” page 4,—“ The tables turned.” Stanza I.

“Up, up, my friend, and clear your looks ;

Why all this toil and trouble ?
Up, up, my friend, and quit your books,

Or surely you'll grow double." 8 Mr. W. in his preface labours hard to prove that prose and verse are much the same ; and certainly his precepts and practice are strictly conformable.

“ And thus to Betty's question he

Made answer, like a traveller bold,
The cock did crow to-whoo, to-whoo,

And the sun did shine so cold," &c. &c.-Lyrical Ballads, page 129. || Coleridge's Poems, p. 11, " Songs of the Pixies," i. e. Devonshire Fairies ; p. 42, we have" Lines to a Young Lady," and p. 52, “ Lines to a Young Ass."

Whether on ancient tombs thou tak'st thy stand,
By gibb’ring spectres hail'd, thy kindred band;
Or tracest chaste descriptions on thy page,
To please the females of our modest age;
All hail, M.P. ! from whose infernal brain*
Thin-sheeted phantoms glide, a grisly train ;
At whose command “grim women " throng in crowds,
And kings of fire, of water, and of clouds,
With “small gray men,” “wild yagers," and what not,
To crown with honour thee and Walter Scott!
Again all hail ! if tales like thine may please,
St. Luke alone can vanquish the disease :
Even Satan's self with thee might dread to dwell,
And in thy skull discern a deeper hell.

Who in soft guise, surrounded by a choir,
Of virgins melting, not to Vesta's fire,
With sparkling eyes, and cheek by passion flush'd,
Strikes his wild lyre, whilst listening dames are hush'd !
"Tis Little ! young Catullus of his day,
As sweet, but as immoral, in his lay!
Grieved to condemn, the muse must still be just,
Nor spare melodious advocates of lust.
Pure is the flame which o'er her altar burns ;
From grosser incense with disgust she turns :
Yet, kind to youth, this expiation o'er,
She bids thee “mend thy line, and sin no more.”

For thee, translator of the tinsel song,
To whom such glittering ornaments belong,
Hibernian Strangford ! with thine eyes of blue,+
And boasted locks of red, or auburn hue,
Whose plaintive strain each love-sick miss admires,
And o'er harmonious fustian half expires,
Learn, if thou canst, to yield thine author's sense,
Nor vend thy sonnets on a false pretence.
Think'st thou to gain thy verse a higher place,
By dressing Camoëns in a suit of lace?
Mend, Strangford ! mend thy morals and thy taste;
Be warm, but pure; be amorous, but be chaste :
Cease to deceive; thy pilfer'd harp restore,
Nor teach the Lusian bard to copy Moore.

In many marble-cover'd volumes view
Hayley, in vain attempting something new;
Whether he spin his comedies in rhyme,
Or scrawl, as Wood and Barclay walk, 'gainst time,
His style in youth or age is still the same,
For ever feeble and for ever tame.

. “For every one knows little Matt's an M.P."-See & Poem to Mr. Lewis, in the “ Statesman," supposed to be written by Mr. Jekyll.

| The reader who may wish for an explanation of this, may refer to “Strangford's Camoëns," p. 127, note to page 56 or to the last page of the Edinburgh review of Strang. ford's Camoëns.

It is also to be remarked, that the things given to the public as poems of Camoëns, are no more to be found in the original Portuguese, than in the Song of Solomon.

Triumphant first see “Temper's Triumphs” shine!
At least I'm sure they triumph'd over mine.
Of “Music's Triumphs," all who read may swear,
That luckless music never triumph'd there. *

Moravians, rise! bestow some meet reward
On dull devotion-Lo! the Sabbath bard,
Sepulchral Grahame, pours his notes sublime,
In mangled prose, nor e’en aspires to rhyme,
Breaks into blank the Gospel of St. Luke,
And boldly pilfers from the Pentateuch;
And, undisturb’d by conscientious qualms,
Perverts the Prophets, and purloins the Psalms.t.

Hail, Sympathy! thy soft idea brings
A thousand visions of a thousand things,
And shows, dissolved in thine own melting tears,
The maudlin prince of mournful sonneteers.
And art thou not their prince, harmonious Bowles !
Thou first, great oracle of tender souls ?
Whether in sighing winds thou seek'st relief,
Or consolation in a yellow leaf;
Whether thy muse most lamentably tells
What merry sounds proceed from Oxford bells,
Or, still in bells delighting, finds a friend
In every chime that jingled from Ostend;
Ah! how much juster were thy muse's hap,
If to thy bells thou wouldst but add a cap!
Delightful Bowles ! still blessing and still blest,
All love thy strain, but children like it best.
'Tis thine, with gentle Little's moral song,
To soothe the mania of the amorous throng!
With thee our nursery damsels shed their tears,
Ere miss, as yet, completes her infant years;
But in her teens thy whining powers are vain;
She quits poor Bowles for Little's purer strain.
Now to soft themes thou scornest to confine
The lofty numbers of a harp like thine ;
“ Awake a louder and a loftier strain,”S
Such as none heard before, or will again ;
Where all discoveries jumbled from the flood,
Since first the leaky ark reposed in mud,

Hayley's two most notorious verse productions, are “ Triumphs of Temper," and “ Triumphs of Music.” He has also written much comedy in rhyme, epistles, &c. &c. As he is rather an elegant writer of notes and biography, let us recommend Pope's advice to Wycherley, to Mr. H.'s consideration : viz." to convert his poetry into prose," which may easily be done by taking away the final syllable of each couplet.

Mr. Grahame has poured forth two volumes of cant, under the name of “ Sabbath Walks,” and “ Biblical Pictures."

See Bowles's Sonnets, &c.—“Sonnet to Oxford,” and “ Stanzas on hearing the Bells of Ostend."

$ " Awake a louder," &c. &c., is the first line in Bowles's “ Spirit of Discovery," a very spirited and pretty dwarf epic. Among other exquisite lines we have the following:

A kiss
Stole on the list'ning silence, never yet

Here heard ; they trembled even as if the power," &c That is, the woods of Madeira trembled to a kiss, very much astonished, as well they might be, at such a phenomenon.

« 이전계속 »