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These specimens must suffice from the last of the works in the list at the beginning of this paper. A considerable, and, after all, by far the best part of "My Book," consists of pure extracts from some of the most esteemed English authors, for the use, as states the extractor, of" writers and speakers." The collection, however, has nothing to boast of, either as regards its plan or execution. Any ordinary reader and thinker might have produced a much richer series, and after all, it seems to have been introduced merely to swell the volume.
In conclusion, and with reference to books which treat of goodbreeding, politeness, and taste, we must say that to persons whose minds are essentially vulgar or unrefined-to all who cannot perceive the beauty of moral and mental culture, they can be of very little use; but that, on the contrary, where there is the grace or the appreciation of mental culture as a natural and spontaneous result, will good manners follow, both in public and private intercourse. Where such inward treasures and tastes exist, the individual peculiarities which characterise their display, have a raciness and charm about them, worth ten thousand formalities.
ART. IV. The Tribute: a Collection of Miscellaneous Unpublished Poems. By various Authors. Edited by LORD NORTHAMPTON. 8vo. pp. 422. London: Murray. 1837.
THE preface to this volume informs us, that it was "projected as early as spring, 1836, while the late Reverend Edward Smedley was still living; and its original object was to spare him the necessity for those arduous literary labours which at that time threatened his sight or his life. His hearing he had already lost, and a disorder in his eyes was to all appearance sapping a sense still more precious. Before many weeks had elapsed, these anticipations proved too well founded, and death relieved him from his sufferings, and deprived his family of an affectionate husband and father. For them the project was continued." This benevolent purpose was not, however, disclosed to the family of the deceased, until the voluntary contributions presented by a number of our most illustrious poets were of such an amount as rendered the completion of a handsome volume certain. It is proper also to mention that Mrs. Smedley, in the meantime, has been preparing a collection of her husband's poems, with a memoir of his Life; to be published by subscription, to which, on its appearance, we shall be happy to lend the best recommendation in our power, consistently with candour. At present, however, it is only with the elegant " Tribute" before us that we have to do, and when we enumerate among its contributors the following names, there need little else be said to convince our
readers that its contents possess very various beauties. Among these names, we specify some not only celebrated as poets, but several whose offerings will be more greedily read and sought after on account of other circumstances than being the wooers of the muse. Thus we have offerings, not only by Wordsworth, Southey, Moore, Joanna Baillie, Montgomery, Bowles, and Milman, but by Lord John Russell, and Mr. Spring Rice; the late Lady Northampton, Lady Dacre, Sir E. Cust, B. Barton, G. P. R. James, Chauncey Hare Townshend, Gally Knight, Horace Smith, Lander, Agnes Strickland, Mary L. Boyle, M. Popple, &c., besides the contributions of the noble editor himself, which are not less creditable to his genius as a poet, than the project fulfilled by the "Tribute" is to his judgment and considerate philanthropy.
In such a case as the present, it would be extremely ill-timed to apply the strictest rules of criticism. With reference to pieces which may have been written on demand, but where the object to be served is one that comes immediately home to the heart of every one, the will ought to be taken, in a great measure, for the deed. Two general remarks, however, we are bound to offer regarding the merits of these "Miscellaneous Poems." The first is, that the most eminent of the contributors, speaking of them according to poetic fame, appear to have laboured under some sort of restraint which did not usually controul them in most of their former unsolicited efforts. We have not detected in this collection any thing of Wordsworth's, Southey's, or Moore's, for example, that could ever have been the ground for any portion of their well-earned renown, much less increase or serve to perpetuate its amount. Take Moore's translation from the Persian, entitled "Mute Courtship."
"Love hath a language of his own-
From heart to heart-whose mystic tone
Love only knows.
The lotus-flower, whose leaves I now
Far more than words will tell thee how
The mirror, which to thee I hold-
With thy bright looks, I turn and fold
Does it not speak, beyond all spells
How deep thy hidden image dwells
In this hushed heart?". We have not often found the modern master of the most bewitching conceits of thought and expression so cold and lame as in the
above instance. Take Wordsworth's "Stanzas," about the moon as another example; here, although it be quite true that he has clothed that orb, which poetasters have abused by their sickening fulsomeness, and forced addresses, time out of mind, with some fine and impressive attributes, which none but an originalist and one possessed of a subtle fancy that luxuriates in its own warmth and purity could have felt or uttered, yet the piece will not bear a comparison in point of the simplicity and intensity of the emotions and thoughts which it suggests, with almost innumerable specimens to be gathered both from his larger and smaller compositions. We copy them for the opinion of our readers.
Perverse are we-a froward race;
Our second remark is, that while our mighty minstrels, as compared with themselves, cannot reap any additional fame from their present offerings, the contributors here of lesser name appear to us, in not a few instances, to eclipse them. Let it not be thought, however, that by our succeeding extracts we have sedulously searched for the best proofs. Indeed on such an occasion any such principle of selection would be invidious, especially as there is not a piece in the whole volume that does not add to the adornment of our literature. But it is nothing more than what is due to the noble editor, to give him a precedence, for his tributes possess a double value. Take his sonnet to" Memory," as a fitting commencement.
Oh, Memory! thou ever restless power,
Through the long retrospect of by-gone years,
Thy sweetest smile, alas, is moist with tears!"
The next specimen by the same writer-"The Poor Poet to his Purse, the work and gift of three sisters," is playful in measure and quaintly poetical.
"Phoebus had golden hair,
"Twas all the gold he e'er possess'd,
And in his dishabille was thought well dress'd.
We Poets yet,
As was Apollo erst, are poor
He ran in debt
We may be sure,
And never paid the coachmaker his bill,
And we, his sons, can testify that still
Dear Purse, my song returns to thee,
I gaze admiring on thy silken sheen,
Thy meshes intricate of blue and green,
Thou proof the Muses and the Graces are good friends.
We like the verses by the Rev. H. Thompson, of Wrington Rectory, to the memory of his deceased friend, whose condition called forth the contents of the "Tribute." We extract a part—
"I set no cypress on thy last abode,
Friend of my earliest, best, and happiest days!
With emblems bright of thankfulness and praise;
Violet and rose, whose fragrant bloom decays
In the spring morn that ever shall endure.
Happy in life and death, lov'd friend, farewell!
With whom was here thy converse, God, and those
Farewell a little space! Taught here how brief,
From earth I hope not nor regret relief;
I'll trust to meet thee far o'er care and grief
Here are some sweet and spirited lines to an old acquaintance of ours. We judge of their worth by the manner in which they revive early and dear impressions. The lines are by William
From the hedge-partition'd plain
Make the valley ring!
Is there to be seen.
Yet her servants without fail
Shout again! she knows thy call,