Page images

6 The sofa suits
The gouty lim', 'tis true; but gouty limb,

Though on a sofa, may I never feel.' This leads him to give an account of his truant rambles when a boy ; and to inform us, that the rural walks which delighted him when young, ftill afford equal pleasure at a more ad. vanced stage of life. He proceeds to describe an ambulatory excursion. The reflections he makes in it naturally arise from the objects which present themselves to his view ; and the fcenery is depictured in chalte and exact colouring. We meet with no meretricious ornaments ; no superfluity of epithets and crouded figures, which often throw an indistinct glare over modern poetic landscapes, instead of representing their objects in a clear and proper light. His vindication of the long colonnade of correspondent trees against the encroachments of the present taste, and wilh to

• reprieve

The obsolete prolixity of shade,' will doubtless be reprobated by the votaries of Brown, and modern improvement. We, however, question whether they do not impress the mind with more sublime and awful ideas, than they could effect by any other mode of arrangement. Though people may vary as to their opinion, in this respect, they will certainly concur in admiring the following animated apostrophe. The image in the seventh line is equally new, juft, and beautiful.

6 Ye fallen avenues ! once more I mourn
Your fate unmerited, once more rejoice

yet a remnant of your race survive.
How airy and how light the graceful arch,
Yet awful as the confecrated roof
Re-echoing pious anthems! while beneath
The chequer'd earth seems reftless as a flood
Brush'd by the wind. So sportive is the light
Shot through the boughs, it dances as they dance,
Shadow and sunshine intermingling quick,
And darkning and enlightning, as the leaves

Play wanton, ev'ry moment, ev'ry spot.' The author now contemplates the thresher at his work; and deduces some pertinent remarks on the utility of exercise, and the pernicious effects of laziness and indulgence.

· Like a coy maiden, ease, when courted most, Fartheft retires--an idol, at whose shrine

Who oft'neft sacrifice are favour'd leaft.' The superiority of nature's works to the imitations of art is next pointed out, and the wearisomeness of what is com.


monly called a life of pleasure, much in the manner of Young, itrongly delineated,

• Whom call we gay? that honor has been long
The boaft of mere pretenders to the name.
The innocent are gay-the lark is gay
That dries his feathers saturate with dew
Beneath the rosy cloud, while yet the beams
Of day-spring overshoot his humble nest.
The peasant too, a witness of his song,
Himself a fongster, is as gay as he.
But save me from the gaiety of those
Whose head-aches nail them to a noon-day bed,
And save me too from theirs whose haggard eyes
Flash desperation, and betray their pangs
For property ftripp'd off by cruel chance;
From gaiety that fills the bones with pain,

The mouth with blasphemy, the heart with woe.' Our innate defire of novelty is then considered, and the expediency of changing the scene proved, as objects, though not so beautiful in themselves as those we have been long accustomed to, will please by being less familiar. The inclosures of the valley ; the rock that “ hides the sea-mew in his hollow clefts ;' the 'common overgrown with fern ;' the haunt of a melancholy maiden crazed with love, are next exhibited. An affembly of gypsies is introduced, and their manners described. This leads the author to pass fome encomiums on a civilized ftate, which he looks upon as equally conducive to happiness and virtue. He expresses his compassion for the islanders in the South Sea, particularly Omiah, whose fituation, as it appears to the author, when restored to his own country, is well imagined. But, though he allows a civilized ftate to promote virtue, he remarks that great cities are inimical to it. He bestows some encomiums on London ; but concludes the book with arraigning its effeminacy of manners, its feve. rity in punishing petty offenders, and lhameful lenity towards those of superior rank.

From the sketch we have given of the first book, an idea may be formed of the manner in which the others are conducted. The subject-matter is sometimes serious, and sometimes comic. The transitions are in many places happily con. trived : in others, too abrupt and desultory. Sometimes our author lhews himself rather too much the laudatur temporis aéti. Our follies and vices are sufficiently numerous, but those of our forefathers, if we judge from the writers of their days, were little or nothing inferior. We are censured for wearing • habits coftlier than Lucullus wore.'


Our mutability in fashions is juftly ridiculed; but our modes of dress are not, in general, remarkably costly. Our ances: tors flowing wigs, in the reign of good queen Anne, was probably a more expensive and absurd fashion than


in modern days. In another place, our author having expressed his strong attachment to his native country, his participation of its joys and forrows, observes,

. And I can feel
Thy follies too, and with a just disdain
Frown at effeminates, whose very looks
Reflect dishonour on the land I love.
How, in the name of soldiership and sense,
Should England prosper when such things, as smooth
And tender as a girl, all essenced o'er
With odors, and as profligate as sweet,
Who fell their laurei for a myrtle wreath,
And love when they should fight; when such as these
Presume to lay their hand upon the ark
Of her magnificent and awful cause?
Time was when it was praise and boast enough
In ev'ry clime, and travel where we might,
That we were born her children. Praise enough
To fill th' ambition of a private man,
That Chatham's language was his mother tongue,

And Wolfe's great name compatriot with his own.'
We consider this reflection on our military.gentlemen as too
pointed, if not unjuft; particularly if he means to intimate
that our public misfortunes are owing to their misconduct.
To a deficiency, indeed, of Wolfes and Chathams, to the
dissensions of commanders, to internal divisions, and latterly
to the superior force of our enemies, the ill-success of the late
unfortunate war might juftly be attributed : during the con-
tinuance of which, we apprehend, no officers ever bore fa-
tigue with greater patience, or encountered danger with more
refolution than our's. If the charge of effeminacy against
them while at home be allowed, the zeal and fortitude they
manifefted while abroad should have exempted them from un-
qualified censure.--If some few of Mr. Cowper's satiric ob-
servations are trite and threadbare, the generality are no less
juftly conceived than forcibly expressed. In proof of which,
though numbers might be adduced, we shall select a passage
that stigmatizes a well-known divinity quack; whose public
addresses to the clergy imply the meanest opinion of, and cons
vey the greatest insult to their order, it possibly ever expe-

• But hark-the doctor's voice-fast wedg'd between
Two empyrics he ftands, and with swoln cheeks


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Inspires the news, his trumpet. Keener far
Than all invective is his bold harrangue,
While through that public organ of report
He hails the clergy; and defying thame,
Anncunces to the world his own and theirs.
He teaches those to read, whom schools dismiss'd,
And colleges untaught; sells accent, tone,
And emphasis in score, and gives to pray'r
Th’adagio and andante it demands.
He grinds divinity of other days
Down into modern use; transforms old print
To zig-zag manufcript, and cheats the eyes
Of gall’ry critics by a thousand arts.-
Are there who purchase of the doctor's ware!
Oh name it not in Gath ;-it cannot be,
That grave and learn'd clerks should need such aid.
He doubtless is in sport, and does but droll,
Assuming thus a rank unknown before,

Grand caterer and dry. nurse of the church.' Our author's excellency, in faithfully delineating the scenes of nature, has been already mentioned. A striking instance of it is to be found in his description of a winter's morning. The objects are brought immediately before our view: and the village cur, with which we shall close our extract, is peculiarly excellent, and painted from the life.

• 'Tis morning; and the sun with ruddy orb
Ascending fires the horizon. While the clouds
That crowd away before the driving wind,
More ardent as the dis emerges more,
Resemble most some city in a blaze,
Seen through the leafleis wood. His flanting ray
Slides ineffectual down the snov, vale,
And tinging all with his own rofy hue,
From ev'ry herb and ev'ry spiry blade
Stretches a length of shadow o'er the field.
Mine, spindling into longitude immense,
In spite of gravity and sage remark
That I myfelf am but a fleeting shade,
Provokes me to a smile. With eye akance ·
I view the muscular proportioned limb
Transform'd to a lean thank. The shapeless pair
As they designed to mock me, at my side
Take step for step, and as I near approach
The cottage, walk along the plaifter'd wall
Prepost'rous fight! the legs without the man.
The verdure of the plain lies buried deep
Beneath the dazzling deluge, and the bents
And coarser grass upspearing o'er the rest,
Of late unsightly and unseen, now thine


Conspicuous, and in bright apparel clad
And fledged with icy feathers, nod fuperb.
The cattle mourn in corners, where the fence
Screens them, and seem half petrified to sleep
In unrecumbent sadness. There they wait
Their wonted fodder, not like hung'ring man
Fretful if unsupplied, but flent, meek,
And patient of the flow-pac'd swain's delay. .
He from the stack carves out th' accustomed load,
Deep-plunging and again deep plunging oft
His broad keen knife into the folid mass.
Smooth as a wall the upright remnant stands,
With such undeviating and even force
He severs is away. No needless care,
Left storms should overset the leaning pile
Deciduous, or its own unbalanced weight.
Forth goes the woodman, leaving unconcerned
The chearful haunts of man, to wield the axe
And drive the wedge in yonder forest drear,
From morn to eve his solitary task.
Shaggy and lean and Irew'd, with pointed ears
And tail cropp'd short, half lurcher and half cur
His dog attends him. Close behind his heel
Now creeps he flow, and now with many a frik
Wide-scampering snatches up the drifted snow
With iv'ry teeth, or ploughs it with his snout;

Then shakes his powder'd coat and barks for joy.' What follows, for several pages of the same kind, possesses equal merit; but we refrain from transcribing any farther. It is but justice, however, to observe, before we conclude our review of this poem, that the religious and moral reflections with which it abounds, though sometimes the diction is not sufficiently elevated, in general pofiel the acuteness and depth of Young, and are often expressed with the energy of Shakspeare. The Epistle to Mr. Hill exposes the false pretenders to friendship, and concludes with a handsome compliment to that gentle

In the poem entitled Tirocinium, we meet with some fevere strictures on the mode of education in our public schools ; and we fear the author's censure is too juftly found. ed. The facerious ballad of John Gilpin, concludes the volume, and is too well-known to need our recommendation.


A General Synopsis of Birds. Vol. III. 480. 21. 125. 6d. ir

Boards. Leigh and Sotheby. OUR attentive and induftrious author has now completed

his design, viz. of giving a concise account of all the birds hitherto known ;' yet, as information constantly accu


« PreviousContinue »