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and mingles as a corrective, with the painful subject of the description. “True!” (it may be answered) “ but how are the Public interested in your sorrows, or your description?” We are for ever attributing personal unities to imaginary aggregates.—What is the Public, but a term for a number of scattered individuals ? Of whom as many will be interested in these sorrows, as have experienced the same, or siniilar.
“ Holy be the lay
If I could judge of others by myself, I should not hesitate to affirm, that the most interesting passages in our most interesting poems are those in which the author developes his own feelings. The sweet voice of Cona* never sounds so sweetly, as when it speaks of itself; and I should almost suspect that man of an unkindly heart, who could read the opening of the third book of The Paradise Lost without peculiar emotion. By a law of our nature, he, who labours under a strong feeling, is impelled to seek for sympathy; but a poet's feelings are all strong.-Quicquid amet valde amat.--Akenside therefore speaks with philosophical accuracy, when he classes love and poetry, as producing the same effects :
“ Love and the wish of poet's when their tongue
Would teach to others' bosoms, what so charms
Pleasures of Imagination.
There is one species of egotism which is truly disgusting; not that which leads us to communicate our feelings to others, but that which would reduce the feelings of others to an identity with our own. The Atheist, who exclaims, “pshaw!" when he glances his eye on the praises of Deity, is an egotist: an old man, when he speaks contemptuously of love-verses, is an egotist : and the sleek favourites of fortune are egotists, when they condemn all“ melancholy, discontented” verses. Surely, it would be candid not merely to ask whether the poem pleases ourselves, but to consider whether or no there may not be others, to whom it is well calculated to give an innocent pleasure.
I shall only add, that each of my readers will, I hope, remember, that these poems on various subjects, which he reads at one time, and under the influence of one set of feelings, were written at different times, and prompted by very different feelings; and therefore that the supposed inferiority of one poem to another may sometimes be owing to the temper of mind, in which he happens to
S. T. C.
TO THE SECOND EDITION.
I return my acknowledgments to the different Reviewers for the assistance which they have afforded me, in detecting my poetic deficiencies. I have endeavoured to avail myself of their remarks: one third of the former volume I have omitted, and the imperfections of the republished part must be considered as errors of taste, not faults of carelessness. My poems have been rightly charged with a profusion of double epithets, and a general turgidness. I have pruned the double epithets with no sparing hand; and used my best efforts to tame the swell and glitter both of thought and diction. This latter fault, however, had insinuated itself into my Religious Musings with such intricacy of union, that sometimes I have omitted to disentangle the weed, from the fear of snapping the flower. A third, and heavier accusation has been brought against me, that of obscurity; but not, I think, with equal justice. An author is obscure, when his conceptions are dim and imperfect, and his language incorrect, or unappropriate, or involved. A poem that abounds in allusions, like the Bard of Gray, or one that impersonates high and abstract truths, like Collin's Ode on the Poetical Character
-claims not to be popular—but should be acquitted of obscurity. The deficiency is in the reader. But this is a charge which every poet, whose imagination is warm and rapid, must expect from his contemporaries. Milton did not escape it; and it was adduced with virulence against Gray and Collins. We now hear no more of it; not that their poems are better understood at present, than they were at their first publication; but their fame is established; and a critic would accuse himself of frigidity or inattention, who should profess not to understand them. But a living writer is yet sub judice; and if we cannot follow his conceptions or enter into his feelings, it is more consoling to our pride to consider him as lost beneath, than as soaring above, us. If any man expect from my poems the same easiness of style which he admires in a drinking-song, for him I have not written. Intelligibilia, non intellectum adfero.
I expect neither profit nor general fame by my writings; and I consider myself as having been amply repayed without either. Poetry has been to me its own “exceeding great reward ;” it has soothed my afflictions; it has multiplied and refined my enjoyments; it has endeared solitude ; and it has given me the habit of wishing to discover the good and the beautiful in all that meets and surrounds me.
There were inserted in my former edition, a few sonnets of my friend and old school-fellow, CHARLES LAMB. He has now communicated to me a complete Collection of all his Poems; quce qui non prorsus amet,