Page images

Art. 15. Gil Blas corrigé ; ou Histoire de Gil Blas de Santillane :

Par M. de Sage, &c. Par J. N. Osmond. 1 2 mo. 4 Vols. 163. Boards. Lackington, &c. 1798.

The novel of Gil Blas (to borrow the words of M. Osmond's preface) is so well known, that it would be useless to dwell on the merits of that celebrated romance. It is written in an easy and familiar style, and it contains a greater number and variety of idiomatic expressions than are to be found in most other works : but, with all its beauties, it presents passages so exceptionable, that many have hesitated to recommend the perusal of it to young persons.

It has therefore been the intention of the editor carefully to expunge all profane, low, and indecent expressions. He has also altered some episodes of an immoral tendency : but, in general, both the sense and language of the original have been faithfully preserved.

To this modest and fair account of a neat and correct edition, it only seems necessary to add that, at the end of the fourth volume, a poetical anthology occurs ; consisting of many well-chosen passages from didactic, lyric, and dramatic French poets, which are adapted to be read in schools.

POETIC and DRAMATIC. Art. 16. Nelson's Triumph; or the Battle of the Nile: A Poem.

By William Thomas Fitzgerald, Esq. 4to. 1S. Stockdale.

Speaking of the British hieroes who accomplished the victory of the Nile, this poet asks

-Where is the

pcn Can trace the actions of those godlike men?" He does not say that Fortune has been propitious in throwing such a pen in his way, nor that the Muse has made him equal to the undertaking : but he briefly describes the brilliant action, in not unharmonious numbers.

• The first bold prow, by envious Fortune cross’d

Grounds as she leads, and active glory lost -
But her large honours buoyant o'er her fate,
Make gallant TROWBRIDGE in disaster great.
Nelson's attack, like the dread lightning's blast !
Rends the proud hull and splits the tow'ring mast,
Whole sheets of Name on Gallia's hosts are driv'n,

And vengeance thunders to approving Heav'n.' Employed on such a subject, the poet must be considered not as conferring but as seeking renown. He may adopt the elegant address of Pope to Bolingbroke,


Say, shall my little bark attendant sail

Pursue the triumph and partake the gale?” Art. 17. Poverty and Wealth. A Comedy, in Five Acts. Trans

Jated from the Danish of P. A. Heiberg, A. C. By C. H. Wilson, Esq. 8vo.

The plot of this specimen of Danish genius is somewhat extravagant. A man of an amiable but cocentric character is driven to


[ocr errors]

West. 1799.

attempt suicide, in consequence of a train of fictitious losses and dis. graces, imposed on him by his friends for the cure of his foibles. When he is about to destroy himself, they appear just in time, the masks are dropt, and every one is rendered happy.

An attempt is made to exhibit a petit maitre, but he is not hap. pily characterized. Some part of the failure may, perhaps, be imputable to the translator ; for a fine gentleman ought not to say, as Dalton does ; “ let me see, Tom, that you make them pistols clean;" and we cannot discover the wit of his false Latin in another scene, Finis coronus opus.

The play concludes, however, with a sentiment worth transcribing, and we copy it with pleasure ; not only because it is good, but because it is always more agreeable to praise than to censure. “How short-siglited is the human mind! who can look into futurity-how onmanly to despair, when a single moment can change the scene ! WHO KNOWS BUT THE HAPPY MOMENT OF RELIEF WAS POSTING ON THE WING, WHEN THE FOOL RAISED HIS HAND AGAINST HIS OWN LIFE, AND IT CAME TOO LATE!" Art. 18. André : A Tragedy, in Five Acts: as now performing

at the Theatre in New York. To which is added the Cow Chace; a satirical Poem, by Major André. With the Proceedings of the Court-Martial; and authentic Documents concerning him. 8vo. 25. 6d. Ogilvy and Son, London. 1799.

It is a soothing occurrence, to those who remember the unhappy contest with America, that one of the first efforts of the Transatlantic Muse should be to scatter cypress on the tomb of a gallant and unfortunate British officer. We regret, therefore, that the poctical powers of the author of this play are not equal to the generosity of his intentions.--He has chosen, for the whole extent of his tragedy, the space between Major André's conviction and his execution ; and, as the incidents are few, the piece necessarily drags very heavily. Something like an under-plot is contrived, to keep off the tædium of the principal action.

Major André's slight verses, entitled the Cow-Chace, have been already published in this country. Art. 19. Innovation. A Poem. 4to.

Cadell jun. and

IS. 6d.

Davies. 1799.

The light-infantry of Parnassus are better adapted for some services, than the heavy cavalry of serious philosophic discussion. In this instance they are happily employed. Innovation is a good subject for a poem, and it is treated with sprightliness and effect by the present incognito ; who, though he has not much respect for ciie iics, shall receive from us the praise due to his merit. The maxim which some appear to have adopted,

" That whatever is is wrong," merits ridicule ; and subversion should be distinguished from amelioration and rational reform.

The following extract will prove the author to be a poet of no very inferior rank. It is the conclusion of his attack on modern innovators :

• When

• When Innovation with impartial scales

Decides that evil over good prevails;
By righteous means promotes a righteous plan;
To God gives glory, happiness to man:
To prosperous gales be all her wings unfurlid;
Swift be their fight, and may they shade the world!
Then, whether laws unjust or undefined
Sons of one state with links unequal bind ;
When Ignorance, that leans on tyrant Might,
Seals the barr'd entrance, and excludes the light ;
Through Superstition's fog with alter'd mien
And giant port when Heavenly Truth is seen :

Then may all Lands that fraud and force enthrall
Hear Innovation's spirit-stirring call;
And as it hears may every region smile
As free and happy, Britain, as thine isle:
Or, that too little, smile, if more may be,
Than Britain's isle more happy and more free!
But when, regardless of what millions feel,
She sports at random with a nation's weal;
Becomes to Selfishness a willing tool,
Plucks dow'n one chief to bid a rival rule;
Pretends a blessing, and bequeaths a curse ;
The good to bad transforms, the bad to worse ;
Turns to an iron curb a teasing rein,
Removes a cord, and fastens on a chain ;-
O soon may He, who shakes this tottering ball,
His vengeful Minister of wrath recall ;
Some milder scourge bid guilty nations feel,

And bright with beams of love his pitying face reveal !'
The poem oddly begins'Tis March :' but it glows with a suma
mer's warmth against Jacobinism.
Art. 20.

Saint Michael's Mount ; a Poem. By the Rev. William

Lisle Bowles. 4to. 25. 6d. Dilly 1798. Perhaps no spot in England affords a wider range for a poet's fancy, than St. Michael's Mount in Cornwall. Its situation is sin. gularly beautiful and romantic; and the idea of its having been the haunt of giants and other imaginary Beings, and the scene of adventures peculiar to the age of Chivalry, cannot but impress a mind not wholly destitute of sensibility, with a certain elevation of senti. ment, which bears some affinity to that enthusiasm which is of the essence of poetry. Did we not feel something within ourselves correspondent to what the poet describes, the finest passages in Homer, Virgil

, Milton, and Thomson, would excite no emo. tion:--That the insipidity of modern manners, and the refinertats of luxury, are unfavourable to the vigorous effusions of poetic genius, must be admitted: but a taste for poetry, though it sy be checked and perverted, can never be wholly extinguished; and these objects in the natural world, which allure by their beauty or ascesa by their grandeur, will be always contemplated with delight. REY. JULY, 1799.



Of Mr. Bowles's poetic talents, we have had frequent occasion to speak ;-and we are happy to find that our sentiments do not on the whole differ from those of the public. In the poem of St. Michael's Mount, we are struck with a quick succession of bright and glowing imagery, and bold description, interspersed with moral sentiment : but the rapidity of the author's thoughts sometimes renders him defective in perspicuity; and his versification, though animated, is not always harmonious, nor even correct. It may be doubted whether he be not too fond of introducing old words ; which, however significant, being now rather obsolete, the frequent use of them may be considered by some as bordering on affectatim. Wc point out these defects, not from a disposition to find fault, but from a regard for Mr. B.: who, we are satisfied, is capable of greater achievements than he has yet attempted; and we will venture to say that no person of taste can peruse the poem before us without feeling emotions of approbation and delight,-- arising from his conception of the author's genius, and from the assemblage of pleasing images which are presented to his view.

After this encomium, it would be unkind to deny our readers an extract; and we conceive that no part of the poem will afford them more satisfaction than the following view of Gothic manners in the days of Chivalry, compared with our present state of luxurious re. finement.

• We climb the steps :--No warning signs are sent,

No fiery shape: flash on the battlement !
We enter :--the long chambers, without fear,
We traverse :--No strange echoes meet the ear,
No time-worn tapestry spontaneous shakes,
No spell-bound maiden from her trance awakes,
But Taste's fair hand arrays the peaceful dome--
And hither the domestic virtues come,
Pleas’d, while to this secluded scene * they bear

Sweets that oft wither in a world of care.
« Castle, no more thou frownest on the main

In the dark terror of thy ancient reign ;
No more thy long and dreary halls affright,
Swept by the stoled spirits of the night;
But calm, and heedless of the storms that beat,
Here Elegance and Peace assume their seat ;
And when the Night descends, and Ocean roars,
Rocking without upon his darken’d shores,
These vaulted roofs to gentle'sounds reply,

The voice of social cheer, or song of harmony t.
“So fade the modes of life with slow decay,

And various ages various hues display!

The Castle, which belongs to Sir John St. Aubyn, was tenanted by Sir Walter James and Lady.'

• † This, and the foregoing reflections, were suggested by seeing instruments of music, books, &c. in an apartment, elegantly, but appropriately fitted up.'



Fled are the grimly shadows of Romance,
And pleas'd we see in beauteous troop advance
New arts, new manners, from the gothic gloom

Escap'd, and scattering flow'rs that sweetler bloom!
• REFINEMENT wakes before her beaming eye
Dispers'd, the fumes of feudal darkness fly.
Like orient morning on the Mountain's head,
A softer light on life's wide scene is shed :
Lapping in bliss the sense of human cares,
Melody pours forth her thousand airs ;
And, like the shades that on the still lake lye,
Of rocks, or fringing woods, or tinted sky,
Painting her hues on the clear tablet lays,
And her own beauteous world with tender touch displays !
Then Science lifts her form, august and fair,
And shakes the night-dews from her glitt'ring hair :
Meantime rich Culture cloaths the living waste,
And purer patterns of ATHENIAN Taste
Invite the eye, and wake the kindling sense ;
And milder MANNERS, as they play, dispense,

Like tepid airs of Spring, their genial influence.
• Such is thy boast, REFINEMENT; but deep dies
Oft mar the splendor of thy noon-tide skies :
Then Fancy, sick of follies that deform
The face of day, and in the sunshine swarm;
Sick of the fluttering fopp'ries that engage
The vain pursuits of a degenerate age;
Sick of smooth Sophistry's insidious cant,
Or cold Impiety's defying rant ;
Sick of the muling sentiment that sighs
O’er its dead bird, while Want unpitied cries;
Sick of the pictures that pale Lust inflame,
And flush the cheek of Love with deep deep shame;
Would fain the shade of elder days recall,
The gothic battlements, the banner'd hall,
Or list of Elfin harps the fabling rhyme,
Or wrapt in inelancholy trance sublime,
Pause o'er the working of some wond'rous tale,

Or bid the Spectres of the Castle hail !!
Art. 21. Coombe Ellen : a Poem, written in Radnorshire. By the

Rev. W. L. Bowles, A. M. 4to. Dilly. 1798. Having spoken so fully of the merits of St. Michael's Mount, in the preceding article, we shall have less occasion to enlarge on the work before us. Yet it may be necessary to say something of the comparative excellencies and defects of the two poems. There is much fine description in both, but the former is more bold and animated, the latter more tender and pathetic. The versification of both is liable to the same exceptions : but in Coombe Ellen the faults are more glaring, owing perhaps to the loose and unrestrained measure of our English blank verse. "Witching and swink'd are terms neither elegant nor harmonious; and booted and strapt is an expression

A a 2



« PreviousContinue »