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per costume to suit themselves to their own period, and if they had attempted to retain an improper costume, and to talk in the language of previous times, we should in vain have looked for those natural bursts of passion, and all those affecting simplicities, which they were enabled to put in the mouths of others, by speaking, as they felt, from their own. Thus even what was a natural language in these writers, becomes, from the imitation, an unnatural and affected one in Mr. Scott; and, in fact, he talks the language of no times and of no feelings, for his style is too flowing to be ancient, too antique to be modern, and too artificial in every respect to be the result of his own first impressions.
There is, indeed, a general want of ambition about Mr. Scott, and a contentedness with what is showy rather than solid, that look like a poet of no very great order. His resorting to a style so easy of imitation, his giving himself up to a profusion of words and prettinesses on which he might rhyme by the hour, and his coming out, year after year, with a new poem provocative of all sorts of suspicions connected with the tradeall exhibit something, ready indeed, and entertaining, and penny-turning, but very far from what is either lasting or noble. Mr. Scott writes a very sprightly ballad, can sketch a good character from the life, and can hide himself to advantage in the costume of other times; but
brought forward in his own unassisted person, and judged by a high standard of poetry, he wants originality and a language.
(12) But there's one thing I've always forgotten to mention,
Your versification-pray give it invention. Mr. Campbell seems to have hampered his better genius between the versification of others and the struggle to express his own thoughts in their natural language. I speak not of the Pleasures of Hope, which, though abundantin promise, is a young and uninformed production in comparison with bis subsequent performances :—but I am persuaded that nobody would ever have thought of comparing that poem with the Gertrude of Wyoming, or of undervaluing the latter in general, and regarding it as not answering the promise of his youth, if in quitting the ordinary versification of the day, he had not deviated into another imitation, and got into the trammels of Spenser. The style, perhaps, is not so much in imitation of Spenser as of Thomson, the imitator of Spenser; but the want of originality is certainly not lessened by this remove from the fountain head. In Spenser's style and stanza there is undoubtedly a great deal of harmony and dignity, and specimens of almost every beauty of writing may be found in them; but they will hardly be pleasing now-a-days in a poem of any length, unless the
subject involves a portion of the humorous or satirical, as in the School-Mistress and the Castle of Indolence, where the author looks through his seriousness with a smile, and the quaintnesses of the old poetry fall in with his lurking archness or his assumed importance. And the reasons would seem to be obvious ; for not to dwell upon the inherent and unaccommodating faults of the stanza in a long English poem, such as its tendency to circumlocution, and its multitude of similar rhymes, it has always an air of direct imita, tion, which is unbefitting the dignity of an original seriousness; and its old words and inversions contradict that freshness and natural flow of language which we have a right to expect in the poet that would touch our affections. We demand -not the copy of another's simplicity, but the simplicity of the speaker himself; we want an unaffected, cotemporaneous language, such as our ears and our hearts shall equally recognise, and such as our own feelings would utter, were they as eloquent as the poet's. The choice of this style is the more to be regretted in Mr. Camphell, because his genius evidently points to the most attractive sympathies of our nature, and his great talent lies in the pathetic. Indeed, it is observable, how inevitably his own taste leads him to forget the imitative turn of his versification, whenever he has to describe some particular
scene, in which the affections are interested ; but the present stock of readers, who have had their ears spoiled by easy versification, will not readily consent to exchange it for one of a less accommodating description with additional difficulties. Of several styles of imitation that come before them, they will inevitably prefer that which comes easiest to their old habits; and this is one great reason why the productions of Mr. Walter Scott have outrun in popularity the coy loveliness of Gertrude of Wyoming--the first poem, in my mind, of any length, that has been produced in the present day. While I have been palled with the eternal sameness of Mr. Scott, and disgusted with the puerilities and affectations of Mr. Southey, I have read over and over again the Gertrude of Wyoming, and have paid it that genuine tribute, which the pride of manhood and the necessary habits of adversity are not much in the custom of lavishing.
In speaking of Mr. Campbell, his smaller pieces must not be forgotten. Their merits are very unequal, and some of them, written, perhaps, in early youth, seem altogether unworthy of his pen; but Hohenlinden, and the two naval songs, are noble pieces, beautifully dashed with the pathetic ; and the Soldier's Dream is one of those heartfelt and domestic appeals from which the fancy, after dwelling upon their tenderness, is suddenly glad to escape.
(12) And never should poct, so gifted and rare,
Pollute the bright Eden Jove gives to his care,
And keep the spot pure for the visits of Heaven. It is natural in congratulating a person on his escape from some extraordinary defect, to forget the mention of smaller ones ; otherwise, Apollo might have rallied Mr. Moore on his exu berant fondness for dews, flowers, and exclamations, and have quarrelled with him for not applying his powers to some poem of length that should exhibit them in their proper light. The first of these faults, however, will most likely follow the other misdemeanors of his youth; and the latter he is understood to be doing away, at this moment, in a country retirement. Certainly the pernicious tendency of Mr. Moore's former productions is not to be questioned: it was only to be equalled, perhaps, by the good that might result from a change in his way of thinking, and from the pains he would take, when so altered, to transfer the attractiveness of his style to the cause of virtue. But there always appeared to me, in the midst of that taste of his, a cordial and redeeming something a leaning after the better affections--which showed a conscious necessity of correcting it. Part with it altogether he need not as a writer, and could not as a poet: but to correct and unite it with nobler sympathies was his business as a true lover both of the