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Misguided Spencers wherefore wouldst thou gain
The short renown of an ephem'ral strain;
His lays, like thine, had every charm of art,
But then they spoke the language of his heart:
Bright emanations of a feeling soul,
And sing of something, or—for ever cease.
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. John
son, 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,
Is drawn and lengthen’d into finest wire.
Not Es. * — gigni De nihilo, nihilum, &c. PERSIUs, Sat. 3. t Et son vers froid, mais poli, bien tourné, A force d'art, rendu simple et facile, Ressemble au trait d'un or pur et ductile,
Parla filière, englissant, façonné. MARMonTE. Just so much art does tedious Crabbe's bestow,
To roughen what can scarce be said to flow ;
* 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 have enough of a good thing;” and so A Carman's Horse could not pass by, But stood tied up to Poetry; No Porter's burthen passed along
But served for burthen to his song.
f 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, la poésie est une peinture parlante comme la peinture est une poésie muette, Il suit de la que le vers seul ne con
stitue pas le poète.” Voyage du Jeune Anacharse.
To break a hemistich, to pun in rhyme, 305
For all the flowery phrases of the Strand! 310
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 harshness of versification, Mr. Crabbe's style is
a kind of hobbling prose, That limps along, and tinkles at the close.
* If a young man were to degrade himself by writing a lewd Draws on the name a gifted Sire bequeath'd,
Whose nervous line the power of knowledge breathed,
song or a loose tale, he would be regarded with mingled feelings of pity and contempt; but when a man, no longer in the “heyday 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 him 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 |