Page images
PDF
EPUB

prised that you have not selected more from his stores. His Winter Nosegay is nearly equal to it. The MANsion of Rest, “I talk'd to my fluttering heart,” (p. 50.) appears to me to be objectionable in several respects. Friendship is called a “witch”, and it is said that she “could stab while she smil’d.” This was not Friendship, then, but some one under her name. So again Love and his “sorcery” is mentioned, and that the soul would never with him find a Mansion of rest. Here, again, either it was not true love, or the rest sought was not such as there was any reason to expect to find. In the last verse Joy is called a Phantom, Reason is represented as stern, and the grave is considered as the Mansion of Rest. I would rather have pointed to a brighter Mansion, HEAVEN. The strain of this Song appears to me to be of the same kind, but going farther than Solomon intended, when he pronounced his maxim, that “All is Vanity”; and which, even in his acceptation, you do not think it “ practically useful to inculcate.” (Letters on Poetry. L. iv. p. 36.) The BANks of Ayn, “The gloomy night is gathering fast,” (p. 52.) by Burns, is, as you

term it, a pathctic piece. Its moral is neither good nor bad. “To Fair Fidele's grassy tomb” (p. 53.) by Collins, has a very pleasing versification, together with great pathos and poetic beauty; but I find in it “wailing ghost,” “withered witch”, “goblins” and “female fays.”

* I hope I shall stand excused, if I take this opportunity of noticing a passage in the Preface to a Volume of “Poetax Fort Children : consisting of Short l’ieces to be committed to memory. Selected by Lucy Aikin”. The Preface opens with this sentence, “Since dragons and fairies, giants and witches, have vanished from our nurseries before the wand of reason, it has been a prevailing maxim, that the young mind should be fed on mere prose and simple matter of fact.” &c. &c. I did not expect, after this, to have found, page 112, THE FAIR Y’s So NG.

This Book was put into my hands by a gentleman, to look it over, to see whether I considered it a proper book to give away as one of the rewards to the Children of the School here; when I made the following observations upon it: Page 27, (Fifth Edition) is a poem on Insects, which begins

Observe the insect race, ordain'd to keep
The lazy sabbath of a half-year's sleep.

The epithet lazy seems to be improperly applied to the sabbath, as it is not a day of sloth but of necessary, or at least salutary, rest. P. 35. Fortune is made the disposer of men's affairs:

I care not, Fortune what you me deny:
You cannot rob me of free nature's grace.

P. 47. Is The Midsummer Wish, consisting of the five first

MoRNING AND Even ING, “Say, sweet carol who are they” has nothing very objectionable in it, nor the Song addressed To MAY, “Born in yon blaze of orient sky” except that she is made a Goddess.

THE So LDIER, which begins,

What dreaming drone was ever blest
By thinking of the morrow

verses of “Waft me, some soft and cooling breeze”. On which
see before, p. 100. In Vocal Poetry it is attributed to Lansdowne,
in Poetry for Children to Croxall. P. 77. The Huntsman
encourages the cruel amusement of Hunting, and Exercise, p. 96.
encourages that and other cruel sports, which are said to pro-
duce pleasure. P. 111. IIunting the Hare is called glorious tri-
umphs; and the following lines appear to me to contain ideas not
proper to be put into the minds of school boys on such an occasion:
afflictive birch
No more the school-boy dreads: his prison broke,
Scamp'ring he flies, nor heeds his master's call; &c.
wild crowds
Spread o'er the plain, by the sweet phrensy seized.
P. 122. Is an extract from Addison's Letter from Italy, where
“ the golden groves,” which he sees around him, when trans-
planted to “ the coast of Britain's stormy isle” are made to
curse “ the cold clime”. Afterwards we have “Bear me some
god”, as if there really were many Gods. Again “kind heav'n"
is represented as having “adorn'd the happy land,

And scatter'd blessings with a wasteful hand!”

The word wasteful seems to imply censure on the bounties of Heaven. P. 125. Liberty is represented as a “ goddess, heav'nly bright,” and “ smiling plenty” is said to lead her “wanton train.” Of course wanton must be considered as meaning only sportive, or else it is objectionable.

To day be mine—I leave the rest To all the fools of sorrow : Give me the mind that mocks at care, &c. is, I think, much too Anacreontic and militates against the principles laid down in page 95, &c. The WAR Song, “ I mark'd his madlyrolling eye”, has nothing in it particularly to censure. ` “ Ye mariners of England,” deserves the commendation, which you, Sir, have bestowed upon it in the note, with respect to its poetical merit; but I had rather not have met with such expressions as,

The spirits of your fathers
Shall start from ev'ry wave.

Britannia — — —
With thunders from her native oak
She quells the floods below.”

This being the last of your Class of Moral and Miscellaneous Songs, I shall now add my own Selection of Songs of a similar description,

and am, Sir,
with great respect,
your &c.

* A friend informs me he has been told “ that the firing of guns does actually calm the sea: and if we allow this fact, the poetical colouring is not much.”

o

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

I YE virgins and youths of the plain, So innocent, happy and gay, I mean not your sports to restrain, Yet listen awhile to my lay; 'Tis Virtue that lifts up the song, 'Tis she ev’ry joy can improve, To her all the graces belong, And all the fond raptures of love. 2 The streamlet, the mead and the bow'r, With all the kind blessings of spring, More charming are made by her power, For sweetness still drops from her wing. 'Tis Wirtue that banishes care, From her you must happiness claim, She your worth to the world will declare, And crown you with honour and fame.

« PreviousContinue »