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• Lines occasioned by a Midnight Walk in the Country, after a
Conversation on that much disputed Subject, whether the Note of the Nightingale is merry or sad.
The moon has sunk beneath yon hill
It is the midnight hour;
The storms of evening lour.
Breathes richly o'er the plain,
Night's chantress pours her strain.
For grief is man's alone;
'Tis only his to groan.
To joys of sense confined,
And cursed him with a mind.'
Year 18- By Charles Leftly, the Younger. 8vo. pp. 24. 1819.
Since the genius of poetry can assume in our days as great a variety of shapes as the Proteus of antiquity, we must no more be surprized at beholding him in the thin form of an epistle, than in the bulky epics and mock-heroics of Madoc or Joan of Arc, with the modern-antique tribe of Lakists, &c. His present appearance is in a sort of Aying description of trans-Atlantic scenery, evidently the production of one who is unused to the rhyming mood, though possessing powers of poetry which, by assiduous cultivation, may intitle him to rank above the spirits of mediocrity that so unceasingly haunt us, and will not be laid by the utmost exorcising of the critics. The ensuing lines, however, are of a very superior character to those with which we generally meet in such compositions, and we have pleasure in quoting them. They describe the tediousness of a voyage :
< 'Tis a dull life, when day succeeding day,
Before us spreads a dark and watery way;
Far to the south, where through its marshy sides
And the pale cotton spreads a downy bed.'
in Versi Italiani. Con altre traduzzioni e Rime Originali. Da W. E. Frye, Capitano di Fanteria nel servizio Britanico. 12mo. pp. 85. 48. 6d. Boards. Boosey and Sons, and Porter. 1820.
At no period of our literary history, has a taste for the Italian poets been so generally diffused as it evidently is at present; and this extension of it arises not less from the superior enthusiasm and beauty of their sentiments, than from the charms of language in which they are conveyed. To this cause, likewise, the Italians owe their numerous and elegant versions of the best works of other languages, both antient and modern : while the facility which such a rich and flexible tongue affords in expressing the variety of human passion and feeling, in its nicest shades and colourings, has moreover led even foreigners to attempt a successful cultivation of its powers. The names of Milton and Gray, and more lately of Mathias and others, will readily occur on this occasion to the minds of the lovers of Italian poetry; and though Captain Frye cannot claim the perfect command and ease of language which distinguish the composition of his predecessors, and almost confound it with that of the natives themselves, we might suppose that he has been long resident in the country, and he certainly must have been very conversant with the old poets, before he could give us so favourable a specimen of their style as his translation of Leonora affords. This fine ballad, long since so well known in England, and which it is said first awoke the genius of national song in Scott, has been translated into almost every modern language, and well deserves to appear in the softer charms of the Italian: where, without losing any of its strength, it has certainly gained much in musical versification. It is followed by Schiller's Feast of Eleusis, the spirit of which would scarcely have disgraced the hymns of the antient muse.
The translation is free and unshackled for a foreign pen.
This little volume is a very creditable proof of the mode in which the leisure hours of a half-pny life have been employed by Captain Frye; who, we perceive by the papers, has been recently restored to regimental service, and advanced to the rank of Major. Art. 18. Legitimacy, a Poem ; or, Leonard and Louisa. A Tale
for the Times. By John Brown, Esq. Author of “ Psyche,” “ The Stage,” &c. Small 8vo. pp. 46. Hatchard. 1820. Every country can produce a set of authors who live like springFf 3
insects, and die under the first sun-beam of criticism, as their antitypes perish at the approach of winter. That these ephemerals should feed on the flowers before them is natural; but that any entomologist should be curious enough to dry and preserve such worthless specimens is unreasonable. Who, for instance, would bind a poem like · Legitimacy ?'
In "the Stage" of Mr. John Brown we saw something less absurd, something altogether more like a human production than in his “ Psyche;" and we acknowlege this moderate merit in his • Legitimacy' also. The title is evidently chosen, as almost all such titles are, for the purpose of catching that attention which the author despairs of securing by any intrinsic excellence, or by any expence of labour or of thought on his momentary performance.
An estimable clergyman has a charming daughter, Louisa by name, with a lover ycleped Leonard. The father and the young man engage in an argument on the popular subject of legitimacy which, like the celebrated dispute concerning monogamy in the Vicar of Wakefield, ends in the match being broken off. Leonard joins the Radicals; and Louisa assumes the disguise of an Idiot-boy, and reclaims her lover. The moment of discovery is particularly happy! Leonard is about to commit suicide :
The youth (Louisa) still struggled with convulsive throes,
And one chance stroke gives unexpected mind.'
6s. Boards. Longman and Co. 1819. This is all very well : but, really, the 497th imitation of (Sir) Walter Scott must tire the most meritoriously persevering of the readers of modern poetry.
. Each eye upon Llewellin gaz'd,
As from the couch his harp he rais'd;
Drew forth the feeble tone,
To England ever known.
For, as the strings he plied,
And shook his head, and sigh'd.'
But when he caught the measure wild,
Vide “Lay of the Last Minstrel.”
Dunrie ; a Poem. By Harriet Ewing. 8vo. Pp. 202.
78. Boards. Robinson, 1819. In no portion of its annals has our country been witness to a brighter display of female genius and talent than the nineteenth century has afforded. We must not, however, invariably expect the same exhibition of excellence in the numerously fair candidates for poetic honours. To the rich and beautiful descriptions that pervade the poetry of a Barbauld, a More, and a Hemans, our feelings of pleasure, as we peruse them, offer the best tribute of applause. Though we cannot discover in the poem of Dunrie' any marks of superiority that approach the distinguished productions of the above ladies, it may still lay claim to something better than mediocrity of poetical talent. Too plainly deficient in all the great requisites which constitute a regular poem, and without any interest of plot and character, it yet possesses individual passages which breathe a tender spirit of poetic feeling and sweetness of expression : but we are sorry to say that they are too rarely scattered among matter of a very inferior composition. We quote the following
as a favourable specimen of the style, the poem itself being far too long for us to give any regular explanation of it.
• O youth, sweet season of delight,
Like April morn, in dew-drops bright,
If Horace's rule holds good, that mediocrity is inadmissible in poetical productions, we would give a friendly hint to the author of • Dunrie' to expect little more froin the cultivation of her talents than the pleasure which the employment may bestow. Art. 21. Harvest, a Poem, in Two Parts ; with other Poetical
Pieces. By Charlotte Caroline Richardson. 8vo. pp. 106. Sherwood and Co..
As descriptive poetry and pastoral poetry are supposed to have been the first which engaged the attention of mankind, we may presume that the themes on which they can possibly be exercised are now nearly exhausted. We are still, however, occasionally favoured with attempts at novelty in this line; though regular descriptive poems have seldom been presented to the public since the period at which Thoinson, Mallet, and other superior writers, produced works that are still the favourite subjects of admiration with the lovers of pastoral scenery and manners.
In the little work before us we find much beautiful description, though conveyed in no very poetic language; and a simplicity of character, with a degree of interest in the narrative of rural life and occupations, which are pleasing to those who are delighted with traits of nature and truth, rather than the gorgeous embellishments of poetry. Among the minor pieces which display much of the feeling but little of the graces of poetry, we notice The Orphan.
The infant dawn of youth had fled,
Their cheering beams on me:
A child of Misery.
I sought Humanity.
Of hapless misery.
Soft Pity's soul to me.
Boards, Whit. taker, 1820. If this novel may be said to convey a few ingenious hits at projectors of both sexes, still it excites but little interest, because