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best; to choose his own scenery; dispose his lights and shades as he pleases ; to solace himself with a rivulet, or a horse-pond, a shower, or a sun-beam, a grove, or a kitchen-garden, according to his fancy. How much more considerate this, than if the poet had, from an affected accuracy of description, thrown us into an unmannerly perspiration by the heat of the atmosphere; forced us into a landscape of his own planning, with perhaps a paltry good for nothing zephyr or two, and a limited quantity of wood and water. All this Ovid would undoubtedly have done. Nay, to use the expression of a learned brother commentator, ' quovis pignore dicertem, I would lay any wager,' that he would have gone so far as to tell us what the tarts were made of; and perhaps wandered into an episode on the art of preserving cherries. But our poet, above such considerations, leaves every reader to choose his own ingredients, and sweeten them to his own liking ; wisely forseeing, no doubt, that the more palatable each had rendered them to his own taste, the more he would be affected at their approaching loss.
All on a summer's day. I cannot leave this line without remarking, that one of the Scribleri, a descendant of the famous Martinus, has expressed his suspicions of the text being corrupted here, and proposes, instead of AU on' reading Alone,' alleging, in favour of this alteration, the effect of solitude in raising the passions. But Hiccius Doctius, a High Dutch commentator, one nevertheless well versed in British literature, in a note of his usual length and learning, has confuted the arguments of Scriblerus. In support of the present reading, he quotes a passage from a poem written about the same period with our author's, by the celebrated Johannes Pastor*, entitled · An Ele
* More commonly known, I believe, by the appellation of Jack Shepherd
giac Epistle to the Turnkey of Newgate,' wherein the gentleman declares, that rather indeed in compliance with an old custom, than to gratify any particular wish of his own, he is going
All hanged for to be Upon that fatal Tyburn tree. Now as nothing throws greater light on an author, than the concurrence of a contemporary writer, I am inclined to be of Hiccius's opinion, and to consider the 'All as an elegant expletive, or, as he more aptly phrases it, elegans expletivum. The passage
therefore must stand thus,
The Queen of Hearts
She made some Tarts
All on a summer's day. And thus ends the first part, or beginning, which is simple and unembellished; opens the subject in a natural and easy manner; excites, but does not too far gratify our curiosity: for a reader of accurate observation may easily discover, that the hero of the poem has not, as yet, made his appearance.
I could not continue my examination at present through the whole of this poem, without far exceeding the limits of a single paper. I have therefore divided it into two; but shall not delay the publication of the second to another week, as that, besides breaking the connexion of criticism, would materially injure the unities of the poem.-B.
I cannot commit this paper to the public, without taking notice of an opinion, which has lately been disseminated by some people, viz. That the Mi. CROCOSM, previous to its publication, is subjected to the criticism of my superiors, or in their own words) “ looked over by ushers.' This idea is wrong in two points; first as being miserably unclassical in phrase, and secondly as being extremely false in information.
Slaves cannot live in England; Ireland enjoys an immunity from toads ; in a similar degree is the climate and constitution of Eton, utterly unadapted to the existence of ushers.' And however flattering it might be to Gregory Griffin, that his works should be considered as the compositions of riper years; he cannot but think this opinion an unworthy compliment to the genius and abilities of those, to whom they are, in part, ascribed.
I think it therefore my duty by this declaration, to take all my imperfections on my own head ;' and to assure the public, that little as the merit may be of these compositions, they are not 'ushered into the world by those, who are degraded by the supposition; the assistant directors of Eton education.
N° 12. MONDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 1787.
Servetur ad imum,
Let him one equal character maintain.-FRANCIS. Having thus gone through the first part, or beginning of the poem, we may, naturally enough, proceed to the consideration of the second.
The second part, or middle, is the proper place for bustle and business; for incident and adventure.
The Knave of Hearts
He stole those Tarts. Here attention is awakened ; and our whole souls are intent upon the first appearance of the hero. Some readers may perhaps be offended at his making his entré in so disadvantageous a character as that of a thief. To this I plead precedent.
The hero of the Iliad, as I observed in a former paper, is made to lament very pathetically, that ‘life is not like all other possessions, to be acquired by theft.' A reflection, in my opinion, evidently shewing, that, if he did refrain from the practice of this ingenious art, it was not from want of an inclination that way.
remember too, that in Virgil's poem, almost the first light in which the pious Æneas appears to us, is a deer-stealer; nor is it much excuse for him, that the deer were wandering without keepers ; for however he might, from this circumstance, have been unable to ascertain whose property they were; he might, I think, have been pretty well assured that they were not his.
Having thus acquitted our hero of misconduct, by the example of his betters, I proceed to what I think the master-stroke of the poet.
The Knave of Hearts
He stole those Tarts,
And—took them-quite away—!! Here, whoever has an ear for harmony, and a heart for feeling, must be touched! there is a desponding melancholy in the run of the last line ! an air of tender regret in the addition of quite away!' a something so expressive of irrecoverable loss ! so forcibly intimating the Ah nunquam reditura! • They never can return! in short such a union of sound and sense, as we rarely, if ever meet with in any author, ancient or modern. Our feelings are all alive; but the poet, wisely dreading that our sympathy with the injured queen might alienate our affections from his hero, contrives immediately to awaken our fears for him, by telling us, that
The King of Hearts
We are all conscious of the fault of our hero, and all tremble with him, for the punishment which the enraged may inflict;
And beat the Knave full sore ! The fatal blow is struck! we cannot but rejoice that guilt is justly punished, though we sympathize with the guilty object of punishment. Here Scriblerus, who, by-the-bye, is very fond of making unnecessary alterations, proposes reading 'Score' instead of sore, meaning thereby to particularize, that the beating bestowed by this monarch, consisted of twenty stripes. But this proceeds from his ignorance of the genius of our language, which does not admit of such an expression as `full score,' but would require the insertion of the particle é a,' which cannot be, on account of the metre. And this is another great artifice of the poet : by leaving the quantity of beating indeterminate, he gives every reader the liberty to administer it, in exact proportion to the sum of indignation which he may have conceived against his hero; that by thus amply satisfying their resentment, they may be the more easily reconciled to him afterward.
The King of Hearts
And beat the Knave full sore ! Here ends the second part, or middle of the poem; in which we see the character, and exploits of the hero, pourtrayed with the hand of a master.
Nothing now remains to be examined, but the third part, or end. In the end, it is a rule pretty well established, that the work should draw towards a conclusion, which our author manages thus,
The Knave of Hearts
Brought back those Tarts. Here every thing is at length settled ; the theft is compensated; the tarts restored to their right owner;