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Misguided Spencer! wherefore wouldst thou gain
283 Victim to Passion's unrestrained control.
Own then, it is not all to rhyme with ease,
Mr. S. in his Preface (for every thing now has a Preface) talks of risking the “ contest” with Mr. Pye, another Translator, for the honor of this paltry ballad. This is “ much ado about nothing," with a vengeance. “ It is impossible,” said Dr. Johnson, on a similar occasion of contested honors, " to settle the point of precedence between a flea and a louse."
Yet, yet, leave Bürger's legendary lore,
grant the same applause to both extremes,
+ Et son vers froid, mais poli, bien tourné,
A force d'art, rendu simple et facile,
Just so much art does tedious Crabbe* bestow,
* Mr. Crabbe is chiefly known to the Public by his “ Borough" and “ Village Tales,” of which it can only be said, that, if they please at all, they please rather by their novelty than by their subjects, or the style in which they are written. The attempt t to describe the common occurrences in a low station of life, with all the graces of Poetry, was certainly bold; and, if it had not been carried to excess, might probably have succeeded. But Mr. Crabbe, like the Actors in the Critic, would “
never lave enough of a good thing;” and so
A Carman's Horse could not pass by,
+ The following observations, from a French Classic, appear to me so admirable, that I cannot refrain from quoting them on the present occasion. “ La Poésie doit toujours montrer une sorte d'invention, donner par des fictions neuves un esprit de vie à tout ce qu'elle touche, et ne pas oublier que, suivant Simonide, poésie est une peinture parlante comme la peinture est une poésie muette. Il suit de là que le vers seul ne constitue pas le poëte."
Voyage du Jeune Anacharse.
To break a heinistich, to pun in rhyme,
The younger Coleman * too, with hot-pressed page And spreading quarto, profits by the age,
Disgusted with a continued repetition of common-place incidents and pot-house stories, the Reader is compelled to run the gauntlet through a long succession of rural Heroes, whose names and qualifications are described with a gravity, that is perfectly ludicrous. Added to this, Mr. Crabbe makes frequent use of that figure of speech called the Paranomasia, or Pun; where, as Pope says, a word, like the tongue of a jackdaw, speaks twice as much by being split.” With this excellent qualification, and an affected harslıness of versification, Mr. Crabbe's style is become
a kind of hobbling prose, That limps along, and tinkles at the close.
en If a
a young man were to degrade himself by writing a lend
Draws on the name a gifted Sire bequeath'd,
song or a loose tale, he would be regarded with mingled feelings of pity and contempt; but when a man, no longer in the“ beyday of youth,” but rather descending in the vale of years, insults the world with indecencies, either in verse or prose, he should share the fate of Cleveland, and be held up to universal reprobation. Such I am compelled to say, has been the conduct of George Coleman the Younger. It is currently reported and believed, that the inducement was a considerable sum of money, offered to him by Mr. Elliston for the Copy-right of his Work (the Lady of the Wreck, &c.) This is, however, at the best, but a sorry apology for one whose talents had before placed hiin high in the rank of Dramatic Writers. Mr. C. is now preparing, as I have been informed, a poetical reply* to the different Reviews.
* In the interval between writing and publishing this Poem, Mr. Coleman's reply has appeared, and, indeed, surpassed my expectations. What must the principles of that man be, who defends indecency upon the plea, that those who understand its allusions have learnt nothing but what they were before acquainted with, and those who do not understand them, can receive no injury from their publication !