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vigour and interest, admits not of dispute; still they have many of his wild and softer beauties; and if they fail to be read and admired, we shall not on that account think the better of the taste of the age. With regard to the former of these poems, we have often heard, from what may be deemed good authority, a very curious anecdote, which we shall give merely as such, without vouching for the truth of it. When the article entitled ‘The Inferno of Altisidora,’ appeared in the Edinburgh Annual Register for 1809, it will be remembered, that the last fragment contained in that singular production, is the beginning of the romance of Triermain. Report says, that the fragment was not meant to be an imitation of Scott but of Coleridge ; and that for this purpose the author borrowed both the name of the hero and the scene from the then unpublished poem of Christabelle; and further,that so few had ever seen the manuscript of that poem, that amongst these few the author of Triermain could not be mistaken. Be that as it may, it is well known, that on the appearance of this fragment in the Annual Register, it was universally taken for an imitation of Walter Scott, and never once of Coleridge. The author perceiving this, and that the poem was well received, instantly set about drawing it out into a regular and finished work; for shortly after, it was announced in the papers, and continued to be so for three long years; the author, as may be supposed, having, during that period, his hands oceasionally occupied with heavier metal. In 1813 the poem was at last produced, avowedly and manifestly as an imitation of Mr Scott; and it may easily be observed, that from the 27th page onward, it becomes much more decidedly like the manner of that poet than it is in the preceding part which was published in the Register, and which undoubtedly does bear some similarity to Coleridge in the poetry, and more especially in the rythm, as, €. S". * Harpers must lull him to his rest, With the slow tunes he loves the best, Till sleep sink down upon his breast, Like the dew on a summer hill.” * It was the dawn of an autumn day, The sun was struggling with frost-fog gray,
That, like a silvery crape, was spread Round Skiddaw's dim and distant head.”
“What time, or where Did she pass, that maid with the heavenly brow, With her look so sweet, and her eyes so fair, And her graceful step, and her angel air, And the eagle-plume on her dark-brown hair, That pass'd from my bower e'en now 2°
* Although it fell as faint and shy As bashful maiden's half-formed sigh, When she thinks her lover near.”
“And light they fell, as when earth receives,
“Or if 'twas but an airy thing,
These, it will be seen, are not exactly Coleridge, but they are precisely such an imitation of Coleridge as, we conceive, another poet of our acquaintance would write: on that ground, we are inclined to give some credit to the anecdote here related, and from it we leave our readers to guess, as we have done, who is the author of the poems in question.
It may be argued by the capricious, and those of slow-motioned souls, that this proves nothing; but we assure them it o all that we intend or desire to have proved; for we think the present mode of endeavouring to puzzle people's brains about the authors of every work that appears extremely amusing. It has likewise a very beneficial and delightful consequence, in as much as it makes many persons to be regarded as great authors, and looked up to as extraordinary characters, who otherwise would never have been distinguished in the slightest degree from their fellows, We shall only say, once for all, that whenever we are admitted behind the curtain, we shall never blab the secrets of the green-room, for we think there is neither honour nor discretion in so doing; but when things are left for us to guess at, we may sometimes blunder on facts that will astonish these mist-enveloped authors, as well as their unfathomable printer, who we think may soon adopt for a sign-board or motto, Mr Murray's very appropriate and often-repeated postscript— (3 No admittance behind the scenes, And, at all events, if we should sometimes mistake, it will only be productive of a little more amusement in the discussion of the literary capabilities of some new individuals, with their styles and manners, even down to the composition of a law paper. We cannot give long extracts from every work which we propose to notice, but we have no hesitation in saying, that the poem of Harold is throughout easy and flowing; never tame, and often exhibits great spirit; But it is apparent that the author had no plan in going on, farther than the very affected and unnatural one, now rendered trite by repetition, of making his hero wed his page, who turns out to be a lady in disguise. All the rest of the poem seems to run on at mere random. The introduction begins with the following stanzas. “There is a mood of mind weall have known, On drowsy eve, or dark and low'ring day, When the tired spirits lose their sprightly tone, And nought can chace the lingering hours away, Dull on our soul falls Fancy's dazzling ray, And, Wisdom holds his steadier torch in vain, Obscured the painting seems, mistuned the
ay, Nor doe of our listless load complain, For who for sympathy may seek that cannot tell of pain l Ennui !—or, as our mothers call'd thee, Spleen 1 To thee we owe full many a rare device;— Thine is the sheaf of painted cards, I ween, The rolling billiard-ball, the rattling dice, The turning latheforframing gimcrack nice; The amateur's blotch'd pallet thou may'st claim, Retort and airpump, threatening frogs and mice, (Murders disguised by philosophic name,) And much of trifling grave, and much of buxom game. Then of the books to catch thy drowsy glance Compiled, whatbard the cataloguemay quote! Plays, poems, novels, never read but once;— But notofsuch the tale fair Edgeworth wrote, That bears thy name, and is thine antidote ; And notof such the strain my Thomson sung, Delicious dreams inspiring by his note, What time to Indolence his harp he strung ; Oh! might my lay be rank'd that happier list among 1" The dry humour, and sort of half Spenserian cast of these, as well as all the other introductory stanzas in the poem, we think excellent, and scarcely outdone by any thing of the kind that we know of ; and there are few parts, taken separately, that have not something attractive to the lover of natural poetry, while any one page
will shew how extremely it is like to the manner of Scott. A professed imitator will not, we presume, value himself much on his pretensions to originality, else we might perhaps give the author some offence by remarking, that the demeanour of Harold in the fane of St Cuthbert, is too like that of Wat o' the Cleuch in Jedburgh abbey, to be viewed as purely incidental; and it is not a little singular, that he should have judged it meet to borrow from another imitator, who, in that style and instance, is so decidedly his inferior. We shall only add, that Harold the Dauntless is a fit and reputable companion to Triermain. The poetry is
more equal, and has more of nature To
and human character; yet when duly perused and reflected on, it scarcely leaves on the mind, perhaps, so distinct and powerful an impression. Armata. A Fragment. London, Murray, 1817. pp. 210.
It is a remarkable fact, that no crisis of our political existence, during the last half-century, has called forth so few of our pamphleteer speculators on statistics as the present;-when the unexampled difficulties which have oppressed our agriculture, our manufactures, and our commerce,—difficulties from whose operation no one amongst us has been exempt, and whose extent mo one amongst us can define, present so wide a field to our soi-disant philosophers and statesmen. Whether this silence be owing to a want of ability, or a want of inclination to encounter a subject of such magnitude, it is not now our business to determine. Two plans, however, have been brought forward, which we are assured will relieve us from all our embarrassments. Major Cartwright prescribes for us universal suffrage and annual parliaments, while a distinguished member of the Legislature is not less sanguine in his expectation, that our farmers and our manufactures will find a remedy for all their distresses in—the plains of South Americal The subject having been thus neglected, it was with not less pleasure than surprise, that on reading the tract before us, we found that the author, whoever he be—developes in a masterly manner the causes which have brought us into our present alarming situation, and explains the measures which, he thinks, ought to be adopted to work out our deliverance.
It will be doubtless, he asked, how it is that such subjects should be treated of under the title of ARMATA Pand it is therefore necessary that we should inform our readers that ARMATA is the name of a country placed by the author in an imaginary world; in depicting which country, he gives a most eloquent and animated description of the policy of Great Britain, tracing the history of her distresses from the beginning of the contest with America downwards, through the revolutionary war with France to the present day. How far it was necessary to resort to a new world, in order to find a vehicle for the conveyance of his ideas on the distresses of Great Britain, may be matter of doubt; but be that as it may, the author has displayed, in the investigation of the question, deep knowledge of the subject, and has discussed it in a style of brilliant eloquence, tempered, however, with a degree of moderation, too seldom witnessed in works on the political topics of the present day. The following character of Mr Fox, is a fair specimen of the author's powers of writing.
“My confidence in this opinion is the more unshaken, from the recollection that I held it at the very time, in common with a man whom, to have known as I did, would have repaid all the toils and perils you have undergone. I look upon you, indeed, as a benighted traveller, to have been cast upon our shores after this great light were set.—Never was a being gifted with an understanding so perfect, nor aided by a perception which suffered nothing to escape from its dominion.—He was never known to omit any thing which in the slightest degree could affect the matter to be considered, nor to confound things at all distinguishable, however apparently the same; and his conclusions were always so luminous and convincing, that you might as firmly depend upon them as when substances in nature lie before you in the palpable forms assigned to them from the foundation of the world.—Such were his qualifications for the office of a statesman; and his profound knowledge, always under the guidance of the sublime simplicity of his heart, softening, without unnerving the giant strength of his intellect, gave a character to his eloquence which I shall not attempt to describe, knowing nothing by which it may be compared.” pp. 86–88.
It has been said, and we believe without having been contradicted, that this work is the production of a very eloquent and distinguished member of the Legislature, who has filled a large
space in the political world during the last thirty years; and although in the second edition of Armata, which is now before us, the author does not avow himself, yet, as it is a work which even the eminent person alluded to might be proud to acknowledge, and as it speaks the same sentiments, which he has always maintained, we are inclined to give credit to the rumour which has named him the author of this spirited and able performance.
--Stories for Children; selected from the History of England, from the Conquest to the Revolution. 18mo. pp. 186. IS17. Second edition, London, Murray. PARTIAL as we confess ourselves to be to the pleasing recollections of our early years, we must admit that the little folks of this generation have many advantages which we did not enjoy. The juvenile library of our day was of limited extent; and though amply furnished with Mother Bunch, &c., it could not boast of the admirable productions of a Mrs Barbauld, a Miss Edgeworth, and a number of other eminent writers who have not disdained the humble, but most useful, task of teaching “ the young idea how to shoot.” The manner in which these meritorious authors have combined instruction with entertainment, we consider as one of the great improvements of modern times. History is now rendered “as attractive as a fairy tale,” and our little masters and misses may be as familiar with the characters of real life as their predecessors were with Blue Beard and Little Red Riding Hood. We have been particularly gratified with the little book which has given rise to these reflections. The author has expressed so shortly, and so well, the reasons which led him to compose charming stories for his own family, and induced him to favour the world with them, that we think our readers will be pleased to see them in his own words. “Every person has, I suppose, felt the difficulty of paying the contribution of stories which children are so anxious to levy. I happen to have one little girl whose curiosity and shrewdness have frequently embarrassed me; I have found that fictions led to inquiries which it was not easy to satisfy, and that supernatural fictions (such as fairy tales) vitiated the young taste, and disgusted it from its more substantial mourishment, while the fictions of common life,
such as histories of Jenny and Tommy,+ of dolls and tops) though very useful as lessons, had not enough of the marvellous to arrest the attention to the degree necessary for amusement. These considerations led me to tell my little girl the following stories, which I found to amuse her in a very high degree, without having any of the disadvantages which result from relations merely fictitious. My principal object was not to instruct but to amuse, and I therefore did not attempt any think like a course of history; but as I have, in general, adhered to historical fact, and departed from it only (when history was doubtful or silent) in favour of some popular prejudices, whatever lasting impression may be made on the young mind, will be, on the whole, consistent with truth, and conducive to its further and more substantial improvement.”
As a specimen of the happy manner in which our author unites the utmost elegance of language, with that simplicity which adapts itself to the tenderest years, we select his story of Wat Tyler:
“There are often great riots in England, which are sometimes very dangerous, for when mobs assemble nobody knows what such a great crowd of foolish ignorant peo
le may do; but one time, about four hun#. years ago, there happened the most dangerous riots that ever were known, for all the country people armed themselves with clubs, and staves, and scythes, and pitchforks, and they rose in such great numbers, that they drove away all the king's soldiers, and got possession of the city of London.
“ The chief leaders of this mob were not gentlemen nor soldiers, but common peasants and tradesmen, who were called after the names of their trades, Wat Tyler, Hob Carter, and Tom Miller; and as these fellows could neither read nor write, and were poor ignorant wretches, they took a great hatred to all gentlemen, and everybody who could read and write, and they put some of them to death; and the whole city was kept for several days in the greatest confusion and danger, and all quiet honest people were afraid for their lives.
“The king at this time was called Richard, not Coeur de Lion,--but another king Richard, who was called Richard the Second. He was the grandson of Edward the Third; but he was neither so wise nor so fortunate as his grandfather, who was a great king. Richard was very young, not more than seventeen years old, and it is not surprising that he hardly knew how to stop the proceedings of this riotous mob; for his soldiers were driven away, many of his ministers were put to death, and the rest of them were forced to fly.
“At last the king thought it best to go and meet the mob, and hear what they had to say. So he went with the lord mayor, and a few other lords and gentlemen, to a place called Smithfield, where the mob were encamped as if they had been an army. When Wat Tyler, who was their chief leader, saw the young king coming, he advanced to meet him, and then they began to talk and dispute together; but at length Wat Tyler was so insolent to the king, that his conduct was not to be borne; and although it was in sight of his own army, the lord mayor of London had the courage to strike him down with his mace, and then the other gentlemen put Wat Tyler immediately to death.
“ The rioters seeing Wat Tyler, their leader, fall, prepared to revenge themselves on the king and his party; and the whole, even the king himself, would undoubtedly have been murdered on the spot, but that Richard, young as he was, saved them all by his own courage; for when he saw the mob so furious, instead of seeming frightened, he rode up to them alone, and said to them, in a good-humoured manner, * What is the matter my good people? Are you angry that you have lost your leader? I am your king, and I will be your leader myself.”
“The mob was astonished and over
We rather think this story may be read with advantage at present by children of a larger growth-as we certainly did not expect that Wat Tyler would have been held up as a patriot even to a Spafields mob. We regret that we have not room for further extracts. “The Murder in the Tower,” in particular, is very affectingly told. But the specimen we have already quoted will render it quite superfluous for us to say one word more in praise of this excellent little work, which we have no doubt will soon form a part of every juvenile library; and we can assure the distinguished author, from our own experience, that these stories have been as “ successful in other families as they have been in his own.”
The EDINBURGH REv1Ew. No 54.
1. Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Canto the Third, and The Prisoner of Chillon, and other Poems. By Lord Byron. —In this article the Reviewers do not confine themselves altogether to these two publications, but the Corsair being the last work of Lord Byron of which they had given a particular account, they introduce their examination of the present works by notices of Iara, The Siege of Corinth, and other intermediate pieces. This Third Canto of Childe Harold, the Reviewers are persuaded, will not be pronounced inferior to either of the former; and they think that it will probably be ranked above them by those who have been most delighted with the whole. Of The Prisoner of Chillon they speak in the language of praise; but the rest of the poems are said to be less amiable, and most of them, the Reviewers fear, have a personal and not very charitable application.
2. A Letter to the Roman Catholic Priests of Ireland, on the expediency of reviving the Canonical mode of electing Bishops by Dean and Chapter, &c. By
. C. O.-There is no further notice of
the book or its author. It is a dissertation on the Catholic question, in which the Reviewer endeavours to shew that no securities whatever should be required from the Catholics as the condition of their emancipation. 3. Defence of Usury: showing the impolicy of the present legal restraints on the term of pecuniary bargains, in Letters to a Friend. To inhich is added, a Letter to Adam Smith, Esq. LL.D. on the discouragements opposed by the above restraints to the progress of inventive industry. The third edition: to which is also added, second edition, a Protest against Law Tares. By JEREMy BENTHAM, Esq. of Lincoln's Inn.—In this article the Reviewer begins with examining the reasons that have been urged in defence of the usury laws, and finds that they produce none of the good which they pretend to have in view ; and then proceeds to point out the mischiefs which they create in all directions. These Wo L. I.
laws are considered to be also insufficient, and inconsistent with their avowed purposes, as they allow of transactions substantially usurious. The penalties imposed upon all who assist suitors in courts of justice, with the means of enforcing their rights, stipulating for a certain premium, which the law of England denominates maintenance and champerty, are reprobated as the growth of a barbarous age; and a very strong case is extracted from Mr Bentham's treatise, to show the ruinous consequences of this law to needy suitors. The repeal of the usury laws, however, is held to be imprudent at this particular crisis, as “all persons now owing money would inevitably have their creditors coming upon them for payment.” It is to be wished the Reviewer had taken into consideration the effects which this repeal might produce upon the terms of loans to government, and upon the price of the public funds.-The Protest against Law Tawes is highly extolled. The privilege of sueing in forma pauperis is shewn to be of little value. Stamps on law proceedings are censured ; and the vulgar argument, that such taxes operate as a check to litigation, is said to be “triumphantly refuted” by Mr Bentham. 4. Wesentliche Betrachtungen oder Geschichte des Krieges Zwischen den Osmanen und IRussen in den Jahren 1768 bis 1774, von RESMI AcHMED EFENDI, aus dem Türkischen übersetzt und durch Anmerkungen erlårdert von HE INRICH FRIEDRIch Von DIEz.— This book is a history of the war between Russian and the Ottoman Porte, in the years 1768–1774, originally written in Turkish by Resmi Achmed Efendi, and translated into German by M. Von Diez. The Reviewer has contrived, by the playfulness and pleasantry of his style, to render this short article very amusing. The work itself, he says, is dull enough in all conscience, but it is a literary curiosity. 5. National Difficulties practically explained, and Remedies proposed as certain, speedy, and effectual, for the relief of all our present embarrassments. —The questions proposed for discus