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into the language of his hero, of taste enough to relish his accomplishments, and of knowledge and spirit enough to apprehend the real greatness of his character, would be a treasure to be laid up in the heart of every Englishman, and tend to perpetuate those solid parts of our character, which are the only real preservatives of our glory.
(5) 'Twas lucky for Colman he wasn'l there too,
For his pranks would have certuinly met with their duc And Sheridan also, thal finished old tricker ;But one was in prison, and both were in liquor. It cannot be supposed, especially in my present situation, that I should object to a man on the mere ground of his being circumscribed in his movements; but it is pretty well known, I believe, that it is not plain dealing which sent Mr. Colman to prison, nor any very great care for his honour which keeps him there. These are matters, however, upon
which I am loth to touch, and therefore dismiss them. The pertinacious ribaldry of Mr. Colman, and his affectation of regarding its reprovers as hypocrites-things which look more like the robust ignorance of a vulgar young rake, than the proceedings of even an old man of the world who is approaching his grave, have met with their just reprobation from every reader of common sense. The truth is, that Mr. Colman the Younger, as he calls himself, has been prodigiously overrated in his time, partly, perhaps, from
his real superiority to the Dibdins and Reynoldses as a writer of huge farces, and partly from the applauses of a set of interested actors and gratuitous playwrights, whom he has helped to spoil in return; so that it really seems to be half vanity as well as sottishness, that persuades him he has a right to talk as he pleases, and to make us acquainted with this obscene dotage of his over his cups.
On Mr. Sheridan I spare myself additional comment, especially after the climax with which he finished his moral, when explanations were going to and fro respecting the regent's cabinet. Apollo's rebuke of him, had he made his appearance, would have been on the old score of his neglect of the drama. As a comic writer, he has certainly, for a long time past, been our only connexion with a better race : for there was an ideal sickliness about Mr. Cumberland—a hankering after petty effects and smooth-speaking sympathies--an inaptitude, in short, to fall in with the real forms and spirits of life, which made him look rather like a sickly foreigner who had got among us, than one of the native stock. The best part about him was his elegant scholarship. But, may
say that Mr. Sheridan, upon the whole, appears to me to have been overrated as an observer, and that the best part of him is his elegance also? an informed elegance no doubt, and one that is full of a social and sprightly humourbut still a business of words rather than thoughts -an elegance informing us little in its turn, and quite on the tasteful side instead of the inventive.
(6) Apollo just gave them a glance with his eye,
Spencer-Rogers-Montgomery”—and putting them by, Begg'd the landlord to give his respects to all three, And say he'd be happy to see them to tea. These writers, though classed together, and equally denied admittance to Apollo's dinner table, either from ineligibility to his greater honours, or inability to sustain the strength of his wine, are, it must be confessed, of very unequal merits. Mr. Montgomery is perhaps the most poetical of the three, Mr. Rogers the best informed, and Mr. Spencer the soonest pleased with himself. The first seems to write with his feelings about him, the second with his books, the third with his recollections of yesterday, and his cards of invitation. The most visible defect of Mr. Montgomery, who appears to be an amiable man, is a sickliness of fancy, which throws an air of feebleness and lassitude on all that he says ;the fault of Mr. Rogers is direct imitation of not the best models, written in a style at once vague and elaborate. His Pleasures of Memory—a poem, at best, in imitation of Goldsmith-is written in the worst and most monotonous taste of modern versification; to say nothing of the never
failing souls and controls, thoughts and fraughts, tablets, tracings, impartings, and all the endless commonplaces of magazine rhyming. Mr. Rogers, of late years, seems to have become aware of the defects of his versification, and attempted the other day to give his harp a higher and more various strain in the fragment upon Columbus ; but the strings appear to have been in danger of snapping. It was ludicrous enough, however, and affords a singular instance of the habitual ignorance of versification in general, to find the Quarterly Review objecting to a line in this fragment, for running a syllable out of its measure, and attempting to snatch one of the finest graces of our older poetry.
The best thing in Mr. Rogers's productions appears to me to be his Epistle to a Friend, describing a house and its ornaments. It has a good deal of elegant luxury about it, and seems to have been the best written because the most felt. Here he was describing from his own taste and experience, and not affecting a something which he had found in the writers before him.
(7) But mind that you treat him as well as you're able,
And let him have part of what goes from the table.
Mr. Crabbe is unquestionably a man of geniusz possessing imagination, observation, originality, he has even powers of the pathetic and the terri: ble, but, with all these fine elements of poetry, is singularly deficient in taste; his familiarity continually bordering on the vulgar, and his seriousness on the morbid and the shocking. His ver- 4 sification, where the force of his thoughts does not compel you to forget it, is a strange kind of bustle between the lameness of Cowper and the slip-shod vigour of Churchill, though I am afraid it has more of the former than the latter. When he would strike out a line particularly grand or, melodious, he has evidently no other notion of one than what Pope or Darwin has given him. Yet even in his versification, he has contrived, by the colloquial turn of his language, and his primitive mention of persons by their christian as well as surname, to have an air of his own; and, indeed, there is not a greater mannerist in the whole circle of poetry, either in a good or bad
His main talent, both in character and description, lies in strong and homely pieces of detail, which he brings before you as clearly and to the life as in a camera obscura, and in which he has been improperly compared to the Dutch painters; for in addition to their finish and identification, he fills the very commonest of his scenes with sentiment and an interest.