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For NOVEMBER, 1809.
POETRY, and the DRAM A.
sewed. Baldwins. 1809. We confess the unfeigned pleasure with which we open a classical imitation, or translation, after having toiled through the vain attempts at originality which are the daily disgrace of our contemporary rhymers. Why will they imagine that they can find better models, than those which the writers of our Augustan age at the beginning of the last century selected from the poets of Greece and Rome; models of which the imitation has been sanctioned by the practice of the best writers in every country of modern Europe, when that country has attained any high degree of civilization? To adopt, on the contrary, as our examples, barbarous compositions, strung together in the infancy of states, and partaking strongly of the rude spirit of the times in which they were composed, exhibiting in short the “ darkness visible” of the middle ages, 01, at best, only the faint dawn of the revival of literature, is surely an indication of declining taste.- We shall not, however, here urge arguments which we have stated more at length and shall again state elsewhere ; and which we trust by a persevering repetition will at length produce their due effect, the conviction of the most bewildered disciples of the silly school of modern metrical romance.
The present translation from Ovid is on the whole executed with vigour and fidelity. The translator justly observes that this epistle, in the original, possesses more animation and spirit than are to be found in the generality of its author's compositions. Grace, playfulness, and ease, are the characteristics of Ovid's usual style : but here he rises with his favourite subject into the higher strains of poetry :
• Where art thou, Providence ? where lingering sleeps
O had we perish'd in the whirling roar!'
• Laugh on, insulting paramour, and lie
For, long as fire can burn, or steel can wound,
Mocks the weak vengeance of Medean charms.' The phrase, exempt of harms, and some others that might be mentioned, lessen the general effect of this translation, which is creditable to its author, whoever he may be. -We cannot dismiss Medea without a cursory rimark on the transcendent superiority of Euripides over all his competitors in the management of this subject; nor without an expression of regret that the genius of Corneille should have been guided by so little taste as to imitate the ranting Medea of Seneca, instead of the dignified and impassionate heroine of Euripides. Art. 15. Fowling, a Poem, in Five Books ; descriptive of Grouse,
Partridge, Woodcock, Duck, and Snipe Shooting. Crown 8vo. 68. Boards. Cadell and Davies.
This will be a pleasing poem to the literary sportsman, if such there be : but the phrase sounds as oddly as any of the combinations of incongruous substantive and adjective which' have been made by modero ingenuity. The honest housebreaker, the virtuous adul. teress, and the literary sportsman, seem to be homogeneous exo pressions ; and yet the author of this little book is certainly a good English scholar, as well as a keen pursuer
We have pe. rused his poem with satisfaction; and we think that any reader, who has a due relish for agreeable descriptions of country-scenery, and for a gentlemanly style of poetry (if we may use the term), will find amusement from the volume. Would it were rhyme,” we exclaimed, when presented with a troop of blank verses ; exclaimed, “ Would it were horse," when presented with a company of foot. However, it runs as well as a poem can run upon one leg; and we shall dismiss the sportsman with wishing him no other blank days in the season than those which he himself chuses to enjoy. Ai parting, we are sure that his caudour will excuse the criticism which admonishes him ' aurem vellit et admonuit”-not to admit into bis poetical pages, if ever he writes poetry again, such clippings of pure prose as the following ; which, it is but just to add, had no counterparts in the volume :
• Oft undecided is the choice of dogs,
To push the pheasant from his close retreat,
Is tried by others,
Five Acts. 8vo. 28. 64. . Longman and Co. Sixpence an act, and rather dear than otherwise. Two of the characters are the Prince of Brazil, and General Junot; the latter of whom inquires • Who guides our march?
and eays not another word in the play, admirably intimating that a military character, like that of Ajax in Homer, should deal in blows rather than in words. The subject of the Emigration to the Brazils is too recent for scenic exhibition, unless it be the exhibition of a puppet-show ; and we really think that much of the present tragedy is better adapted to the squeak of Mr. Punch than to the drawl of Mr. Kemble. Art. 17. Panthea, Queen of Susia, a Tragedy in Fire Acts. 8vo.
29. 6d. Barker. 1809. We augured ill from the very title of this tragedy. Susiana, or Susis, was the name of the country of which Susa was the capital: The author has chosen his subject from the East, but is evidently one of the aptipodes to the Wise Men. For instance
• I sigh for peace, but sigh alas in vain!
of which abounds with similar drivel.--Much of it has no other resemblance to blank verse than that which the inequality of margio confers op prose. Art. 18. Selection of Poems. By Charles Snart. 8vo.
ros. Boards. Lougman and Co. If this selection were reduced to one volume, it would form a good miscellany of pleasing trifles. In its present state, the compiler cannot be accused of having admitted a single poem of which the style is licentious or the moral reprehensible: but he has been too ready to insert verses, odes, and sonnets cut out of old newspapers, in praise of angel.charms, and beamy eyes, and in which Strephon reproaches Cupid with having lit a fire in his heart.' Mr. Snart has also transcribed several pieces from Mrs. Opie's collection of Poems, and many of Charlotte Smith's Sonnets; which, though we cannot read them without pleasure, we deem it hardly fair to borrow from the volumes of their fair writers.
Mr. S. is indeed “ a retailer of scraps, and deals in remnants of remnants, like a maker of pin-cushions :" he makes extracts from ex: tracts, and he selects from selections ; a great number of the in his two volumes being taken from Dodsley's Collection, Percy's reliques of Antient Poetry, Elegant Extracts, the Vocal Magazine, &c. &c. We have, however, to thank him for an ample selection of Peter Pindar's serious poems; and for preserving some very elegant fugitivę pieces by Sheridan, several of considerable merit by Dr. Aikin, some lines by Roscoe on an exhausted rivulet, and the charming verses addressed by Charles Fox to Lady Crewe. He has also inserted the “ Stanzas to Careless Content" by Dr. Byrom, which are very quaint, but very clever and characteristic ; some pretty verses on Love, and some on Kisses, by Mrs. Robinson ; with various others, by different authors, which are not devoid of merit, and will not be destitute of admirere. Rev. Nov. 1809.
Poems, ly William Hersee. 12 mo. 25. 6d. sewed.
Darton and Harvey. The preface to these poems assures us that the author has been debarred from every advantage of education, and instructed only by the village-matron;' and in the first he describes naturally the villageschool, with his own cottage and garden, and wishes to write like Lloomfield, that he may immortalize them all. At the age of sixteen, he produced an • Epitaph on a very old Cat,' somewhat in the man. ner of Wordsworth ; and at seventeen he composed an address of • The young Lover to his Heart ;' in which he first tells his heart to de still and not disturb his guiltless breast,' next bids it fly and melt Mary's throbbing breast, and finally, if she scorns,' he desires it to burst for her who loves another Swain. The linesTo Sunset are, however, much better ; and those. On the Birth of a first Child,' though puerile, are natural and feeling, probably because ihey were written from the real impulse of parental affection. This author has the merit of at. tempting no subjects with which he is not familiar ; he seems to be an attentive and admiring observer of rural scenes ; and almost all his poems are written in their praise.
Kenneth and Fenella ; a Legendary Tale, by the Rev. F.S.
Whalley, D.D. 8vo. 28. 6d. Hatchard. 1809. Dr. Whalley, not being, like Gresset, • Persuadé
que sans un peu de folie
On ne rime plus à trente ans," has here presented us with a Legendary Tale, which he states to be • the best effort of one whose imagination is clouded, and whose ar. dour is cooled by old age and infirmities ;' and we feel it to be a pain. ful as well as an unpromising task to point out the faults of a work so characterized. They are not, indeed, such as to need any very severe animadversion : one of the most palpable is the frequency with which the senter.ces are extended from one stanza to the next ; and another defect is the total want of ornament throughout the tale, which is delivered in so unvarnished a state, that no episodical descriptions oor digressive reflections are suffered to interrupt its course. The admirers and imitators of Mr. Walter Scott, among whom we rank Dr. Whalley, should recollect that it is not merely by the plot and circumstance of his tales that their interest is created, but that the fascination of the images, and the pathos and beauty of the sentie ments, constitute the attractions of the “ Lay of the Last Minstrel" and of " Marmion." Dr. Whalley indeed thinks that the story of the murder of Kenneth II. of Scotland, by Fenella, is so fine a subject for a tragedy or a poem, that he wonders it has not been before adopted, and expects that his own sketch will awaken superior ta. lents to draw from it a finished picture.' With respect to ihe sublimity of the tale, however, we di from him ; it is neither new nor in pressive. Fenella is a haughty dame whose son had been executed for
murder by Kenneth ; some time afterward, the king pays
to her castle; and the tradition says that, while he partook of her feast " she slew him by means of arrows, thrown out by an image the art. ful mechanism of which was of her own contrivance" Dr. Whalley tells us that he takes a Poet's licence, and makes her conceal a party of grim assassins' behind the tapestry, who rush forwards at a 'signal, and murder the king; and his son Malcolm, coming to ayenge him, finds the way blocked
. With benches, corses, cates, and blood.' These impediments prevent him from catching Fenella, who is at last discovered in a cave, by a blood-hound, and burnt alive by Malcolm's command.-The poem concludes with a few stanzas of exultation on the superior liberty and cultivation which are at present enjoyed in Scotland, and with compliments to some of the noblemen and gentlemen who have contributed to her agricultural improvements.
Poems, by Felicia Dorothea Browne. 4to. pp. 111.
156. Boards. Cadell and Davies. We hear that these poems are the genuine productions of a young lady, written between the ages of 8 and 13 years,' and we do not feel inclined to question the intelligence : but, although this fact may ensure them an indulgent reception from all those who have « children dear," yet, when a litile girl publishes a large quarto, we are disposed to examine before we admit her claims to public attention. Many of Miss Browne's compositions are ex. tremely jejune, particularly the hymns and the French verses ; and we doubt whether the heathen mythology justifies her in addressing a Sonnet to the Musc of pity and of love,' or in invoking the Moon by the name of Cyllene. She may have heard that the Moon was sometimes called Selene : but Cyllene, as she spells it, means nothing but a Mountain in Arcadia, on which a temple was built to Mercury, who was thence called Cyllenius. However, though Miss Browne's poems contain some erroneous and some pitiable lines, we must praise the • Reflections on a ruined Castle,' and the poetic strain in which they are delivered. The lines to · Patriotism' contain good thoughts and forcible images, and if the youthful author were to content herself for some years with reading instead of writing, we should open any future work from her pen with an expectation of pleasure, founded on our recollection of this publication : though we must, at the same time, observe that premature talents are not always to be considered as signs of future excellence. The Honey-suckle attaius maturity before the Oak. Art. 22. Poetic Amusements ; consisting of a Sample of Sonnets,
Epistolary Poems, Moral Tales, and Miscellaneous Pieces. By Thomas Beck.
Izmo. 48. 6d. Boards. Maxwell and Wilson. Mr. Beck is a pleasing and instructive moralist ; and though he never attempts any flights of sublimity, he gives importance and interest to familiar subjects by the propriety of his reflections, the appositeness of his examples, and the truth and force of his descripsions. His style is peculiar, and rather nervous than harmonious ; Y 2