Page images
PDF
EPUB

145

Picturefque Poetry. Confiling of Poems, Odes, and Elegies, on various Subjes. By the rev. J. Teafdale. 80. 2s. 6d. Ro

binfon.

Thefe poems are chiefly defcriptive. The images, though feldom new, are delineated in a pleating manner; and the reflections, though fometimes trite, are in general juft, and well applied. A performance entitled DAY, confifting of three parts, MORNING, NOON, and EVENING, pleates us as well as any in the collection, of which the concluding fection may ferve as a specimen. There is, however, one impropriety in it; the defcribing flowers as expanding, and erecting themfelves at the approach of night, when the reverfe is a wellknown fact.

[ocr errors]

Now, when ev'ning's fober ray
Gradual marks the parting day;
And when long and length'ning fhades
Croud the landfcape, as it fades:
Let the Mufe, with fteady eye
Catch the objects, as they fly;
Objects, yet fo fair and bright,
Haft'ning to impervious night!

As the fun, that fmiles invest,
Slopes to the remotest west,
Living ftreaks the fkies enfold,
Streaming purple, fring'd with gold;
Silver, and ethereal blue,
Mildly beaming to the view.

Now again the eddying breeze
Gently waves the leafy trees,
Stealing fragrance, as it goes,
From each op'ning bud that blows;
And imparting pillag'd fweets
To each travelling cloud it meets.

Low its cadence, fmooth its tides,
Soft the murm'ring riv'let glides,
Winding, with its limping flood,
By the firts of yonder wood;
Where the fylvan fongsters meet,
Chirping, chaunting vefpers fweet;
And, in many an untaught lay,
Chorufing from fpray to spray.

Now the flow'rs, that fweets exhale,
Wide expanding to the gale,
Rife erect, in rival rows,
And their varying tints difclofe.

All the bloffom'd furze is gay, Where the wanton kidlings play; VOL. LX. Aug. 1785.

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

And in yonder peopled mead,.
Hark! the fhepherd tunes his reed;
While the village troops advance,
And begin their ev'ning dance.

Let us join the mirthful throng,
Skimming now fo light along;
Till the night, on footy wings,
Groupes of thick-wrought fhadows brings,
And the vap'ry legions, all,
Take their stations, at her call

Johnfon's Laarel, or Coutefi of the Poets. 4to. 15. Hooper.
" Johnfon no more! each bard attunes his lays,
To grieve his exit, and to fing his praife.

All writers write, and fome who fcarce can read;
To poems poems, lives to lives fucceed,

The theme alike, yet diff'rent is their aim;
As fome for pudding, others write for fame."

We allow this paffage to be a little hyperbolical, but have found to our forrow too much truth in it. The panegyrifts of Dr. Johnson have been exceedingly numerous;-peace to his manes we truft their doleful elegies will never wound his ears, nor that of pofterity. Whether pudding or fame was held in view, of the generality we speak, the objects have furely been equally unattainable.

The prefent author informs us that,

All bards GREAT Johnfon's wreath (the laurel) claim, and they accordingly repair to Parnaffus to affert their refpective rights. Surely, confidered merely as a poet, Johnfor's merit is not of fo fuper-eminent a nature as to entitle him to this high compliment.

First Pratt began, in accents meek and mild,
Soft as the whifpers of a pukeing child!"

As pukeing gives no idea of meeknefs or mildnefs, we would fubititute puling for it, which, fignifying to whimper in a gentle manner, is more analogous to fome of Mr. Pratt's writings. PUKEING conveys an indelicate idea, ungenial to his ftyle and fentiment..

6

Next Whitehead came, his worth

-

a pinch of fnuff, But, for a laureat, he was well enough.' This is too fevere on a very decent author; for to write birthday odes with fuccefs, is evidently no eafy talk. We no less difapprove of the following character.

• And Mafon now, whofe numbers nice by art,
Play in the ear, but never reach the heart.
Tho' fimilies he crams in ev'ry line,
And metaphors in ev'ry couplet fhine,
Still in his verfe there's fomething of divine.

2

Though

Though fome of Mr. Mafon's poems are too highly ornamented, whoever has read his Elfrida and Caractacus must have felt that his numbers will reach the heart: He fhould not have been reprefented as a candidate for Johnfon's laurel, whofe own is of fo fuperior a verdure.

The Pious Incendiaries: or, Fanaticifm Difplayed, a Poem. By a Lady. 4to. 55 Hooper:

We doubt not of the good intentions of the fair author, in this performance, and cannot but approve the diffidence the expreffes, and feems to feel in offering it to the public. The poem is written in the style and manner of Hudibras. A well known, we may add, a too well known character, is the principal object of the fatire it contains. To imitate Hudibras is an ardu ous undertaking; and if the public fhould decide that this lady, has not fucceeded in her attempt, fhe may juftly confole herself with the reflection, that the has only failed in an enterprize where few would have come off with honour.-Magnis excidit aufis !

The Adventures of Telemachus, the Son of Ulyffes. In English Verfe. 8vo. 35. 6d. Jewed. Becket.

The encomiums beftowed on the French Telemachus are in general juft: towards the conclufion our author observes that, Notwithstanding the indifputable merit of Monf. Fenelon's performance in the original (to which the numerous tranflations in our own tongue are fuficient vouchers) a poetical verfion fees ftill wanting, to accommodate the taste of an Englith reader with one of its ufual gratifications in an Epic Poem, which title juftly belongs to thefe volumes, though devoid of. an ornament not fufceptible of dignity in the French language."

We will allow that French verfe is ill-adapted to an epic compofition; and that in many effential points, verfe excepted, Telemachus is entitled to that appellation; yet ftill we cannot fee the utility of its being verfified in our language. The fuccefs of numerous profe-tranflators vouch for the propriety of that method. The original, even when literally rendered, ftrikes naturally into our language in periods eafy and harmonious. What more have we to expect? The time of an able writer would furely be mifpent, in endeavouring to improve by rhyme what appears to the utmost advantage in flowing profe; and the labours of an inferior one would undoubtedly be excelled by the most literal verfion. The ftyle of the prefent author in his advertisement is, though fometimes a little inclining to the bombaft, eafy and fpirited; had he attempt. ed the original in that manner, we do not think he would have proved unfuccessful; but his poetry is flat, diffufe, and fome times ridiculous. In a ftorm, raised by Neptune to fink Telemachus's veffel, he gives the following account of Mentor's behaviour.

L 2

"He

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

He takes an axe, and cuts the breaking maft,
Which by it's weight the dip had fidelong cait.
Then, 'mid the billowy war, on it alights,
And me, by name, to follow him invites.
Like a tall tree that furious blaits contend,
Deep-rooted as it grows, in vain to rend,
Not the fierce north wind in th' attack prevails,
The leaves but tremble as with whifpering gales:
So Mentor valiant, firm, ferene, and gay,
Appear'd the boisterous form and deep to fway.
I follow'd my encourager, and who,
By him invited, had not follow'd too?
The floating maft along the waves we steer'd,
And to it's furface as a feat adher'd.
Without thus refting, had we cleav'd the tide,
Our ftrength within us must have quickly died.
But oft the form turn'd this huge timber round,
And for an interval we both were drown'd.

We drank the briny furge, till backward fent,
From noitrils, mouth, and ears, it gain'd a vent.'

An unfuccessful attempt of the fame kind was made by a Mr. Bagnal, in the year 1756. From the title we were led to expect an entire tranflation of Telemachus: this performance however only confits of the first fix books, and here we suppose the undertaking will end.

Poems on feveral Occafions. By Ann Yearly, a Milk-woman of Brifiol. 4to. 6s. Cadell.

Thefe poems are ushered into the world by a prefatory letter from Mifs Hannah More to Mis. Montague, giving fome account of this felf-inftructed votary of the Mufes. It refembles the well-drawn relation of Stephen Duck, written by Mr. Spence, and prefixed to his poems. A parallel might indeed be drawn between him and the prefent writer, but not much to the advantage of the former. Stephen was merely a rhymer: the protection he obtained proceeded from the peculiarity of a thresher's writing verfes, not on account of the verfes themfelves. As Pope fays of ftraw and grubs in amber,

• We know these things are neither rich nor rare,
But wonder how the devil they came there.'

The poems before us are entitled to a fuperior degree of praife; there are evident traces to be found in them of a strong and fervid imagination, as the following paffage will fufficiently teftify.

(

My foul is out of tune,
No harmony reigns here, 'tis difcord all.
Ee dumb, fweet chorifters, I heed you not;

[ocr errors]

Then why thus fwell your liquid throats, to cheer
A wetch undone, for ever loit to joy,
And mark'd for ruin? Seek yon leafy grove,
Indulgent blits there waits you; fhun this spot

D.ear,

2

Drear, joylefs, vacant, as my wasted soul,
Difrob'd of all her blifs: here heave, my heart,
Here figh thy woes away; unheard the groan,
Unfeen the falling tear; in this lone wild
No bufy fool invades thy hoarded griefs,
And fmiles in ignorance at what he feels not.
Yet, yet indulge not, lift'ning winds may catch-
Coherent fighs, and waft them far away,
Where levity holds high the fenfeless roar
Of laughter, and pale woe, abash'd, retires.
Or, fhould my woes be to the winds diffus'd,
No longer mine, once paft the quiv'ring lip;
Like flying atoms in the fightless air,
Some might defcend on the gay, grinning herd;
But few, how few, would reach the feeling mind!
Officious Truth! unwelcome guest to most,
Yet I will own thee, and bid Hope good night,
Fond, foothing flatterer! Nineteen years are paft,
Since first I liften'd to her pleafing lore;

Ah, me! how bright fhe painted future scenes,
And fweetly spoke of bleffings yet unborn!
Now, fond Deceiver, where's the promis'd good?
But, Oh! thou'rt lovely, and I'll ne'er accufe
Or hate thee, tho' we never meet again.'

Correctness and precision cannot be expected from one who does not know a fingle rule of grammar, and who has never even feen a dictionary; but we can affure the reader many paffages, in no refpect inferior to the preceding, might be felected. We will not anticipate his curiofity any farther, but recommend to him the book itfelf. He will receive the double fatisfaction of being amufed by its perufal, and contributing to the relief of depreffed genius. A large lift of fubfcribers is annexed; which does honour to the author's protectress, by whose means, we apprehend, fo many refpectable names were procured for promoting her benevolent intention.

More Lyric Odes to the Royal Academicians. By a diftant Relation to the Poet of Thebes, and Laureate to the Academy. 4to. Hookham.

15.

This is a very fuccefsful imitator of the fame humorous, ingenious gentleman, who has twice before had a stroke' at the Royal Academicians. It is as impoffible to prevent laughing at his oddity, as being offended at his groffnefs: nothing but the brilliancy of his genius could bear him through the abuse he fo liberally bestows on the late exhibitions.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »