Billeder på siden


only durable works to be perceived, are rather to be admired as the stupendous effects of a fearful disposition, than as exhibiting scientific notions of architecture, or displaying a refined taste. Their productions exhibit both the ingenuity of civilization, and the rudeness of barbarity; and though they disprove their high antiquity, show them at least, not to be destitute of genius; which however seems to have exerted its power only when impelled by necessity, their mental subjection begetting incapacity, and unwillingness for the spontaneous exercise of their faculties.


NOTE.-In thus endeavouring to demonstrate that the Chinese are posterior in antiquity to the ancient Assyrians and Egyptians many arguments are necessarily grounded on questions, which will hereafter be discussed and evinced, and the reader is desired to suspend his judgment, till the whole is terminated. In subsequent essays, we shall review respectively, the arts and sciences; the morals; the manners, and habits; the religion and the political state, of this extraordinary people; and thence induce, the degree of importance they hold in the civilized world, and their claims to the title of a wise people.

(To be continued.)



THERE is no propensity of the human mind more inveterate, or, at the same time, more alive to reproof, than an itch for writing poetry. While the youthful candidate for the bays of Parnassus trembles at the anticipation of criticism, and is chilled to the heart by the least token of disapprobation, he is seldom prevented from persevering by the most decided warnings of disappointment and failure. He shrinks from the opinion that would arrest his career, but seldom suffers it to turn him from his course.

It is remarkable, that whatever turn genius may take, when matured and guided by education and experience, it generally first displays itself in writing verses. Many men

years of

who have afterwards distinguished themselves in various departments of literature and science, have given the first indication of superior mind in attempts at poetry.

Such efforts evidence habits of study and reflection; a desire of distinction and an ardency of brain that most frequently lead the possessor to some seat of honor in society.

Permit me to introduce, with these observations, a short notice of a Poem, published in your last number, entitled “ORLANDO,” said to be the production of a youth not yet seventeen


In the lives of poets there are not wanting many bright examples of amazing precocity of genius; which have rendered school boy verses no longer an object of wonder, except to papas and mammas. Indeed most of our poets have given pretty unequivocal proofs of the “fine frenzy,” at a very early age.

What have we a right to expect from a young poet, and what ought we, in candour and kindness, to excuse? We should expect much irregularity and wildness; an inattention to the chastened rules of composition; extravagant figures expressed in turgid language, and many harsh and bad lines. And we should excuse all these faults, if they are the honest product of the pen that claims them, and are accompanied with occasional testimonials of those original and inventive powers which are the attributes of true genius. But if a young man (or woman) shall mistake a fondness for reading poetry for the power of creating it; and, after having stuffed his memory with the spoils of industry, shall cast them out half digested and deformed, as the productions of his own brain, he acquires no right to the indulgence which is due to the fair and legitimate candidate.

I would not absolutely discourage your correspondent's young friend, or apply to him the whole force and extent of these remarks; but it may not be unuseful to him and his partial friends to make a fair estimate of his claims to the meed of poesy, so far as they depend upon the specimen now before us. There are undoubtedly some passages in Orlando; which testify genius; but, in general, this production bears witness more to an attentive perusal of other poets, or rather of another poet, than to any powers of original invention. The plan, machinery, and metre of Orlando, were, evidently supplied by Dr. Beatlie's cpa.


lebrated “MINSTREL;" and indeed many of the lines and phrases, and most of the prominent ideas are distinctly taken from this poem. I will point out some of them, with a hope of inducing this young author to rely more upon himself in future, or to be more candid in acknowledging the aid he receives from others.

In the first four lines there is so much confusion, added to some grammatical error, that I cannot say I comprehend its

I meaning

« Some men there are, cold as the winter's snow,

“ Whose souls were never touched with poet's strain,
“Rapt in the sacred dream, froin earth below,
“ And ride aloft on heaven's



It is not very clear what is “ rapt in the sacred dream”. whether the “poet's strain" or the “ souls” just before mentioned; and I am still more at a loss to find the nominative case to the verb ride, in the fourth line; there is a want of harmony and sweetness, too, in the whole: but these are in the class of faults I would excuse, on the terms mentioned.

I cannot see the propriety of the sentiment in the second stanza; that the man who is so unfortunate (for a misfortune. it is) as not to be “touched with poet's strains," can have no “feeling: friend;" or that he shall be sooner forgotten, when “inhumed," than another-much less can I agree that his children shall be discharged from all natural and filial obligation, and so deeply resent his want of taste as to shed no “pearly tear” on his tomb; the “village hinds” may withhold their “wild flowers” if they please, for they have long been the licensed decorators, exclusively, of poetic graves; but our children, I hope, will not so scornfully refuse to pay us some tribute of affection and respect, although we may not feel the raptures of poetry as Orlando does.

To proceed in pointing out the instances in which our author has drawn from the stores of others. The course of thought and collection of figures which make up the second stanza, are entirely familiar to every reader of elegies and sonnets; and perhaps, as a sort of common poetic property, Orlando has as good a right to them as any body that has used them for the last five hundred years. We come, then, to cases more direct and palpable.

In the fourth stanza of Orlando,

“ Not deeply skilled in human lore was he.”

In the Minstrel,

As yet poor Edwin never knew your lore."

In the sixth stanza,

“I ween Orlando was no vulgar boy."

In the Minstrel,

“ And yet poor Edwin vas no vulgar boy."

Orlando has, in common with Edwin, a skill in music, and a fondness for “visionary joy.”—They both too found delight in rising early in the morning, and in roaming over the “ lonely mountain's head” and through“untrodden groves.” In short, these young gentlemen are as like each other, even to their parentage, educations, dispositions, and amusements, as twin brothers. Your Dromios and Socias are nothing to them; and Viola and her bro. ther Sabastian, are absolute antipodes in comparison with Edwin and Orlando. To proceed regularly “ to point out faults and beauties alike”-the scenery in the seventh and eighth stanzas is very picturesque and beautiful, especially in the latter--the following lines, if original, will of themselves, almost entitle the author of Orlando, to the name of a poet:

“Here oft reclined, beneath the arching vines,
56 That formed o’erhead a high luxuriant bower,
“ He read rome native poet's am'rous lines;
Or tzvin'd around his harp full many a power,
That grew in rich profusion everywhere;
Then sudden strike, as will'd his fancy wild,
* His decorated harp.

I particularly remark the four last lines.
In the ninth stanza,

“ And distance gaze them tar a sweeter sound

In Collins' ode to the passions,

“ In sounds by distance made more sweet."

In the eleventh stanza,

“ Why should anticipation chill the present hour,
“Is not fair Hope's all-cheering power thine?
“ Is not to thee the angel Fancy given?

In the Minstrel,

“ But why should foresight thy fond heart aların?
“ Perish the lore that deadens young desire!
“Pursue, poor imp, th' imaginary charm,
“ Indulge gay Hope and Fancy's pleasing fire."

The thirteenth stanza meets the particular applause of your correspondent; and not without reason. But if he will turn to the nineteenth verse of the first book, and the seventh verse of the second book of the Minstrel, he will find the prototype of his friend's effusion.

The fourteenth stanza is filled with beautiful imagery, but unfortunately not belonging to Orlando:

“ Or gain some dell, where Alpine heights arise,
“ Where nought was heard to break the silence deep,
Save the bold eagle soaring in the skies,
Save the wild chamois bounding up the steep;
“ Or hoary goats upon the mountain's brow;
“ Here some reclin'd, abroad there others stray'd,
“A moving speck on the eternal snow,
" While all around them clouds, and shadowy billows play'd."

[ocr errors]


This whole whole stanza is evidently compounded from the following passages in the Minstrel:

• Oft when the winter storm had ceased to rave,
“ He roam'd the snowy waste at even to view
“ The cloud stupendous, from th’ Atlantic wave

“ High tow'ring sail along th' horizon blue.”

6 And oft he trac'd the uplands to survey."


[ocr errors]

* Aud now he faintly kens the bounding fawn."

« ForrigeFortsæt »