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coste classification. They here an iosyncrasy, upon which all cormon OCCorretoes operzte in a pecolzer renne; and those che are best acquainted with human nature, and rith other poetry. are at a loss to comprehend the ser system of feeling and of sriting which is here introduced to their notice. Instead of the men 2-1 women of ordinary humanity, we have certain moody and capricious personages, made after the poet's own heart and fancy-acting upon principies, and speaking in a language of their own. Thus, instead of employing the plain vulgar character, which may be read by all the world, these writers make use of a sort of cypher, which can only be learned with pains and study; and, dressing up all their persons in a kind of grotesque masquerade habit, they have given birth to a species of composition more fantastic and unnatural than a pastoral or an opera, Into this unnatural composition, however, they have introduced a great deal of eloquence and beauty, and have put many natural thoughts and touching expressions into the mouths of their imaginary persons. By this means, and by the novelty of their manner, they have sedu. ced many into a great admiration of their genius, and even made some willing to believe, that their conception of character is in átself just and natural, and that all preceding writers have been in an error with regard to that great element of poetry. Many, to be sure, found it impossible to understand either their precepts or their example; and, unable to recognize the traits of our common nature in the strange habiliments with which these ingenious persons had adorned it, gave up the attempt in despair; and, recurring 10 easier authors, looked on with mixed wonder and contempt, while they were collecting the suffrages of their admirers. Many, however, did understand a part; and, in their raised imaginations, fancied that they admired the whole: while others, who only guessed at a passage here and there, laboured, by their encomiums, to have it thought that there was nothing which passed their comprehension.
Those who are acquainted with the Lyrical Ballads, or the more recent publication of Mr Wordsworth, will scarcely deny the justice of this representation ; but in order to vindicate it to such as do not enjoy that inestimable advantage, we must beg leave to make a few hasty references to the former, and by far the least exceptionable of these productions,
A village schoolmaster, for instance, is a pretty common poe. rical character. Goldsmith has drawn him inimitably; so has Shenstone, with the slight change of sex; and Mr Crabbe, in two passages, has followed their footsteps. Now, Mr Wordsworth has a village schoolmaster also a personage who makes no small figure in three or four of his poems. But by what traits
is this worthy old gentleman delineated by the new poet? No pedantry-no innocent vanity of learning-no mixture of indulgence with the pride of power, and of poverty with the consciousness of rare acquirements. Every feature which belongs to the situation, or marks the character in common apprehension, is scornfully discarded by Mr Wordsworth, who represents this grey-haired rustic pedagogue as a sort of half crazy, sentimental person, overrun with fine feelings, constitutional merriment, and a most humorous melancholy. Here are the two stanzas in which this consistent and intelligible character is pourtrayed. The diction is at least as new as the conception.
• The fighs which Mathew heard were fighs
of one tired out with fear and madness ;
Were tears of light the oil of gladness.,
Of ftill and serious thought went round,
He felt with spirit so profound. .
Thou foul, of God's best eartbly mould,' &c. · A frail damsel is a character common enough in all poems; and one upon which many fine and pathetic lines have been expended. Mr Wordsworth has written more than three hundred lines on that subject : but, instead of new images of tenderness, or delicate representation of intelligible feelings, he has contrived to tell us nothing whatever of the unfortunate fair one, but that her name is Martha Ray; and that she goes up to the top of a hill, in a red cloak, and cries' Oh misery!' All the rest of the poem is filled with a description of an old thorn and a pond, and of the silly stories which the neighbouring old women told about them.
The sports of childhood, and the untimely death of promising youth, is also a common topic of poetry. Mr Wordsworth has made some blank verse about it; but, instead of the delightful and picturesque sketches with which so many authors of moderate talents have presented us on this inviting subject, all that he is pleased to communicate of the rustic child, is, that he used to amuse himself with shouting to the owls, and hearing them answet. To make amends for this brevity, the process of his mi. micry is most accurately described.
-- With fingers interwoven, both hands
That they might answer him.'
plishment, we are told, that the author has frequently stood mute, and gazed on his grave for half an hour together!
Love, and the fantasies of lovers, have afforded an ample theme to poets of all ages. Mr Wordsworth, however, has thought fit to compose a piece, illustrating this copious subject, by one single thought. A lover trots away to see his mistress one fine evening, staring all the way at the moon : when he comes to her door,
O mercy! to myself, I cried,
If Lucy should be dead ! ' And there the poem ends !
Now, we leave it to any reader of common candour and discernment to say, whether these representations of character and sentiment are drawn from that eternal and universal štandard of truth and nature, which every one is knowing enough to recog. nize, and no one great enough to depart from with impunity; or whether they are not formed, as we have described them, upon certain fantastic and affected peculiarities in the mind or fancy of the author, into which it is most improbable that many of his readers will enter, and which cannot, in some cases, be comprehended without much effort and explanation. Instead of multiplying instances of these wide and wilful aberrations from ordinary nature, it may be more satisfactory to produce the author's own admission of the narrowness of the plan upon which he writes, and of the very extraordinary circumstances which he himself sometimes thinks it necessary for his readers to keep in view, in order to understand the beauty ar propriety of his delineations.
A pathetic tale of guilt or superstition may be told, we are apt to fancy, by the poet himself, in his general character of poet, with full as much effect as by any other person. An old nurse, at any rate, or a monk or parish clerk, is always at hand to give grace to such a narration. None of these, however, would satisfy Mr Wordsworth. He has written a long poem of this sort, in which he thinks it indispensably necessary to apprise the reader, that he has endeavoured to represent the language and sentiments of a particular character- of which character, he adds,' the reader will have a general notion, if he has
ever known a man, a captain of a small trading vessel, for example, ? who, being past the middle age of life, has retired upon an annuity, ? or small independent income, to some village, or country town, of
which he was not a native, or in which he had not been accuso tomed to live.'
Now, we must be permitted to doubt, whether, among all the readers of Mr. Wordsworth, there is a single individual who has had the happiness of knowing a person of this very pecu
shall venture, therefore
Acain with the nature and spirit of our old masters, in the nervous pages of the author now before us.
he poem that stands first in the volume, is that to which we have already
ready alluded as having been first given to the public upū of twenty years ago. It is so old, and has of late been so
that it is probably new to many of our readers. enture, therefore, to give a few extracts from
it, as a speMr Crabbe's original style of composition. cimen of Mr Crap
We have hinted at the description of the Parish Workhouse ; and insert it as an example of no common poetry.
Their's is yon house that holds the parish poor,
Here, too, the fick their final doom receive,
Say ye, oppreft by some fantastic woes,
Such is that room which one rude beam divides,