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While mountain spirits prate to river sprites,
Next view in state, proud prancing on his roan,
Now forging scrolls, now foremost in the fight,
And think'st thou, Scott! by vain conceit perchance,
And bid a long "good night to Marmion."+
These are the themes that claim our plaudits now;
Resign their hallow'd bays to Walter Scott.
The time has been, when yet the muse was young,
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'œuvre 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.
The work of each immortal bard appears
Empires have moulder'd from the face of earth,
As even in ruin bids the language live.
First in the ranks see Joan of Arc advance,
Thou still wilt verseward plod thy weary way;
As the "Odyssey" is so closely connected with the story of the " Iliad," 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?
+ Some 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 Are" 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?
If still in Berkeley ballads most uncivil,
Thou wilt devote old women to the devil,*
Next comes the dull disciple of thy school,
Who warns his friend "to shake off toil and trouble,
And Christmas stories, tortured into rhyme,
A moon-struck, silly lad, who lost his way,
Shall gentle Coleridge pass unnoticed here,
Oh! wonder-working Lewis! monk, or bard,
See, "The Old Woman of Berkeley," a ballad by Mr. Southey, wherein an aged gen. tlewoman is carried away by Beelzebub, on a "high trotting horse."
The last line, "God help thee," is an evident plagiarism from the " Anti-Jacobin" to Mr. Southey, on his Dactylics. "God help thee, silly one."-Poetry of the Anti-Jacobin, page 23.
"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,
§ 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,
At whose command "grim women" throng in crowds,
With "small gray men, ," "wild yagers," and what not,
To crown with honour thee and Walter Scott!
Even Satan's self with thee might dread to dwell,
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,
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:
She bids thee "mend thy line, and sin no more."
For thee, translator of the tinsel song,
Whose plaintive strain each love-sick miss admires,
Learn, if thou canst, to yield thine author's sense,
Mend, Strangford! mend thy morals and thy taste;
In many marble-cover'd volumes view
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 a 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 Strangford'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!
Moravians, rise! bestow some meet reward
Hail, Sympathy! thy soft idea brings
A thousand visions of a thousand things,
And art thou not their prince, harmonious Bowles!
Whether thy muse most lamentably tells
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.