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which they are read, is nearly in an inverse proportion to the facility with which they are composed. It is painful to speak in this tone of censure, but the vast quantities of declamatory poetry which are daily poured upon the public call aloud for some strong measures of prevention ; and we must repeat, that however true it be, that pure sentiments and a high tone of morality are essential parts of poetry, still they cannot be allowed of themselves to stand forth as its representatives.

There is another point, in respect to which Mr. Cunningham has, we think, acted injudiciously. In Lord Byron's poems, whatever be their defects, there are unquestionably passages of that sort of power, which is peculiarly adapted to dazzle the generality of readers. Now, if Mr. Cunningham wished to counteract the poison, which he might think was conveyed in some of these passages, he might have reflected that the execution of his task required considerable delicacy; and that to betray any symptoms of his design, to write verses, which the most careless reader could not but recognize as forming a marked contrast, and challenging comparison with the doctrives and poetry of the noble author, must be extremely injudicious, unless he could be certain of his own superiority. We do not mean to attribute such a confidence to Mr. Cunningham, but we do not the less think that he would have acted wisely in omitting lines like the following, which are as evidently imitated from, as they are levell. ed against, the Giaour of Lord Byron,

“ I'd rather be the wretch who scrawls
His idiot nonsense on the walls,
His gallant bark of reason wreck’d,
A poor quench'd ray of intellect;
With slabbered chin, and rayless eye,
And mind of mere inanity;
Not quite a man, nor quite a brute,
Than I would basely prostitute
My powers, to serve the cause of Vice,
To build some jewelled edifice,
So fair, so foul—fram'd with such art.
To please the eye, and soil the heart;:
That he who has not power to shun,

Comes, looks, and feels himself undone." P.7. But this is not all; we have said that from the author of the " Velvet Cushion," and the “ World without Souls,” we had anticipated much eloquent and pathetic writing. But Mr. Cune ningham does not seem to move freely in the shackles of metre; and whether from this, or from some other cause, he retains but very little of his « original brightness" in De Rancé; he is declamatory rather than eloquent, strained rather than affecting :


VOL. V. MARCH, 1816.

we see the splashing which an idle boy makes with his stick in a puddle, not the natural roar and impetuosity of the mountain ca. taract. These we know are general charges, and must be sup ported not by the selection of partial passages, but by the tone and tenor of the whole book : yet as some proof of what we as. sert, we will show the manner in which Mr. Cunningham de. scribes the shock which De Rancé sustained from finding his Laura in the arms of death.

“ He comes“O mark his eye ball glarea'
Not Laura-Laura's corpse is
Disease has laid his withering hands
On that fair form--the brittle bands
That chained the soul gave way,
It burst its tenement of clay;
How bright she was, let Memory dream,
Death has put out that morning beam.
“ In coffined pomp behold her lie,
Vacant that throne of ecstasy,
Extinct, at once, its living fires,
As when the spiry blaze expires
Of snowy Hecla's ardent head,
"And o'er the smoky plains
A stiller, deeper, night is shed,

And double darkness reigns." P. 49. He then adds, that what most overpowered De Rancé was his observing « on her dark brow the darker shade of mental agony," of remorse, and indignation against her seducer.

• It might be fancy; but the power
Of fancy in that penal hour,
When Heaven, to avenge the foul abuse
Of goodness, lets its terrors loose;
Is great, as though her shadowy train
Were not the figments of the brain :
As though not sketched in lifeless dies
Her fleet and airy nullities.
It might be Fancy,-be it som

Still, to the inward eye,
,* ? More dread such visionary show

Than broad reality.
A single tear he did not shed,

He did not strike his throbbing breast;
You saw him clasp his bursting head,

-An idiot laugh proclaimed the rest." P. 52: We wish to know what pathos there is in these extracts There is indeed an abundance of dashes, and abrupt sentences;

but but these are only " the contortions of the Sibyl without her inspiration.” For a further proof of the justice of our censure, we refer our readers to the scene at Laura's funeral, where De Rancé leaps iuto the grave, p. 68 : and as a specimen of feeble though laboured declamation, we would direct their attention to the beginning of the first stanza of the third Canto, where the author ventures upon a picture of the love between a father and daughter, unmindful of the powerful pencils which have represented this subject before him. .

There are many things also which prove Mr. Cunningham's want of familiarity with the more mechanical part of poetry. In the selections already given, the reader will observe the frequent recurrence of imperfect lines, which interrupt the har. mony of the verse, and over which he cannot but stumble in the midst of his career. " Neither do we like such words and phrases as the following: “ man terrene;" “ on that wan cheek where death might blur, but had not power to raze beauty's æthereal character;" “ figments of the brain," and one or two others. There are also, besides the short and abrupt lines already noticed, several which are extremely harsh and unmelodious; and such as the most unpractised ear ought, we think, to have instinctively avoided.

We have performed the painful part of our duty in speaking thus freely of the poem before us. Gladly do we now turn to the task of bestowing praise, and of pointing out to the notice of the reader whatever we deem most excellent. For our own parts we do not envy the temper of those critics, who can delight to expose the errors and weaknesses alone of a respectable poet; we shall proceed therefore to approve and commend with the same sincerity, and with much greater alacrity than we have hitherto censured.

The two last Cantos are decidedly superior to the two first; which makes us the more inclined to believe, that many of the faults of the poem proceed from the author's inexperience in his art, and might be remedied by practice and careful attention. We copy the following as a favourable specimen of the author's style of narrative :

“ Nowgive the march sepulchral way,

Yon aged mourner must not wait;
He must not meet the light of day,

He must not pass the castle gate:
That trophied gate must ne'er expand,

Save to the triumphs of his name;
By day, the crowd's insulting hand
Would point to Laura's spot of shame,

* No--down the secret spiral stair

They wind,--and through the shadowy cave,
And in its gloomy womb prepare

A sunless, melancholy grave.". P. 61. The friar who performs the funeral solemnity is finely drawn :it may be seen at once that it is the production of a mind well versed in the duties and charities of the priestly office.

" The chaunt begins--that holy friar

Had watched o'er Laura's infant hour,
Had loved her as another sire,

Had named her once “ his own sweet flower."
How it had gladdened now his breast
Could he have called that lost one blest
Could he have seen the glittering star

Of Hope upon her grave arise,
And pointed to the winged car

On which she mounted to the skies.
But though he lov'd that flower of youth,
Still more he loved celestial truth,
And dared he not his prophet's harp
From Heaven's high purposes to warp,
And bid it say, that foul offence,
Unwash'd by tear of penitence,
Unwash'd by that atoning flood,
The pure, the sacramental blood
Of Him, the holy one-who dies
The lost world's sinless sacrifice,
Could e'er be razed, by priestly art,
By tears wrung from a father's heart,
By blood of victims vainly spilt

From the dark register of guilt.” P. 65. There is in this belief little of the “ priestly leaven,” which, as we are told, “debased the creed" of this pious man: in fact it is perhaps more pure than characteristic. What follows is also very good : the friar labours to lift De Rance from the grave into which he had desperately thrown himself.

16 And in that high and generous strain
Seems all his youth to come again,
His vein with boyish vigour warms,
And nerves, long palsied, string his arms.
Though now in life's last, feeblest stage,
Zeal seem'd to check the march of age,
And lend the limb, the nerve, the eye,
Some touch of immortality. .
O sight sublime-to see the mind
Vainly by bars of clay confin'd, ...


Burst from its prison, and diffuse
O'er its dark dungeon living hues,
The half extinguish'd man revive,
The body's very life outlive,
Then as the strings of life decay,
Spread its light wings and soar away
'Midst visions of eternal day.
Thus have I seen the struggling star
Rise from the east on ebon car.
Soon o'er her sable seat she throws
Her glittering robe of virgin snows;
Transforms, by touches soft and bright,
Her throne of clouds to throne of light,
Pursues the bright moon to the west,

And melts upon its siļver breast." P. 77. We like the hymn which De Rancé hears sung by one of the children in the peasant's cottage: we can only make room how-' ever for the three last stanzas,

“ Oft when the world, with iron hands,

Has bound me in its six days' chain,
This bursts them, like the strong man's bands,

And lets my spirit loose again.
" Then dear to me the Sabbath morn,

The village bells, the shepherd's voice;
These oft have found this heart forlorn,

And always bid that heart rejoice.
« Go, man of pleasure, strike thy lyre,

Of broken Sabbaths sing the charms :
Our's are the prophet's car of fire,

Which bears us to a father's arms. P. 96. .

We admire the conclusion beyond any part of the work: the sentiments come home to the heart of the reader; and impart far greater pleasure than could arise from the composition of the most splendid poetry. It is an answer to an imaginary objection, that the author would wish to recommend the superstitious rigour of La Trappe. We must at any rate extract the whole of this animated passage.

• To one sole altar points this hand,
The altar of my native land.
Church of my Sires! my love to thee..
Was nurtur'd with my infancy:
And now maturer thoughts approve . .
The object of that infant love.
Linked to my soul with hooks of steel,
By all I say, and do, and feel;

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