« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
which is owing to his fagacity alone. No animal suspects treachery sooner, or resists it more obstinately. The following anecdote of a fowler is related with pathos and intereit:
Mounted on his mud-pattens, he was traversing one of these mudland-plains in quest of ducks; and being intent only on his game, he suddenly found the waters, which had been brought forward with uncommon rapidity by some peculiar circumsiance of tide, and current, had made an alarming progress around him. Încumbered as his feet were, he could not exert much expedition; but so whatever part he ran, he found himself completely invested by the tide. In this uncomfortable situation, a thought ftruck him, as the only hope of safety. He retired to that part of the plain, which seemed the highest from it's being yet uncovered by water ; and striking the barrel of his gun, (which for the purpose of thooting wild-fowl was very long) deep into the mud, he resolved to hold fast by it, as a support, as well as a security against the waves; and to wait the ebbing of the tide. A common tide, he had reafon to believe, would not, in that place, have reached above his middle ; but as this was a spring-tide, and brought in with fo strong a current, he durst hardly expect fo favourable a conclufion. In the mean time, the water making a rapid advance, had now reached him. It covered the ground, on which he stood-it rippled over his feet-it gained his knees-his waist-button after button was swallowed up-till at length it advanced over his very shoulders. With a palpitating heart, he gave him self up for loft. Still however he held fast by his anchor. His eye was eagerly in search of some boat, which might agcidentally take it's course that way: but none appeared. A solitary head, floating on the water, and that sometimes covered by a wave, was no object to be descried from the shore, at the distance of half a league : nor could he exert any sounds of distress, that could be heard so far.-While he was thus making up his mind, as the exigence would allow, to the terrors of sudden deftruction, his attention was called to a new object. He thought he saw the uppermoft button of his coat begin to appear. No mariner, floating on a wreck, could behold a cape at sea, with greater transport, than he did the uppermost button of his coat. But the fuctuation of the water was such, and the turn of the tide fo flow, that it was yet some time before he durft venture to affure himself, that the button was fairly above the level of the flood. Ac length however a second button appearing at intervals, his sensations may rather be conceived, than described ; and his joy gave him fpirits and resolution, to support his uneasy situation four or five hours longer, till the waters had fully retired.'
We mean not to infinuate a doubt of the truth of this hifa Lory; but the fowler had little invention. He could walk on
the mud, when the water was at his breast, or he might have left his fandals, and trufted to swimming. Mud-pattens are put ori with eale, as we well know, for we have often worn them; and we have known by experience too, that in three or four feet of water, the body will not link very deep, though tl.e mud be soft.
Our author's opposition to what is certainly a mistaken idea, that an extensive distance in miniature will have the fame effect on the spectator as if it were painted on the largest icale, is very correct. It arises from neglecting the correction made by the niind in judging of the distance, in consequence of experience, and arguing only from the picture formed on the retina. The remarks too on the horses; on the cruelty as well as absurdity of docking and nicking horses; on the various animals, birds, and infects of the forest, are very entertaining. For these we muit refer to the work.
We must not dismiss Mr. Gilpin's last erlay on picturesque beauty, without some particular remarks. We have alıcadly obsurved, that the volumes are the most pleasing of his attempts ; but we ought to add, that we know not whether they will be generally considered in the fame light. They contain a greater variety of subjects; fubjects more commoniy interesting, and more within the usual circle of knowledge than his former volumes. They are, as usual, written in an elegant and flowe ing style, enlivened by numerous quotations from the beit poets, though perhaps one or two pailages, scarcely very appofité or meritorious, have inadvertently crept in; and we fometimes wisn that our recollection of the authors had been awited by a reference. Talidious critics may however remark, that this variety of subject seems to arise from the paucity of materials; that hiftory, philofophy, and antiquities have been introduced to eke out the descriptions which our author's tour had furnished ; and the whole resembles 100 much the work of a profcfied book-maker. Mr. Gilpin has perhaps given fone foundation for the imputation ; but it must be remarked, that every part is very nearly connected with his principal subject; and what is of more importance, every part is to accurately and ably executed, that we fiouli have regretted any omiffion. The whole may be read with great entertainment and instruction : much of the information on the forest history, and the ancient state of the forest, is derived from Mr. Samber's manuscripts. It remains only to speak of the plates : they are in the usual style of washed etchings, executed nearly with the usual merits. We remember to have seen it observed, (we thought it was in these volumes, though we have searched for it carefully, without fuccefs, and it may have occurred in fome of the new editions
of the former works) that the hue, which we noticed in our Review of Mr. Gilpin's last work with disapprobation, is not deligned as an imitation of nature, but to soften the harlliness of the graving. If this be true, it ought to take off from the force of our censure, though some part of it will still remain. While fome tints are necessary to lessen the hardness, they should certainly be those which do not mislead. Many of the evening scenes may be softened with the brown, which is particularly confpicuous in the landscapes viewed againit the brightness of the setting sun ; others with the gray tint of the morning, or the glowing blue of the mid day. It is shown, in the plates now before us, which we will had been more numerous, that particular tints are not inconsistent with those general foftening ones. But perhaps we are too nice: we are aware that the art is yet in its infancy, and we may expect too much. To Mr. Gilpin, whom we seem now to have followed for the last time, we can only repeat our commendations and applause. He has taught us to discriminate beauties of nature, not always underitood; he has added to our knowledge of varied and distant scenes; and, what is not the least merit, he has cheered the lonely hour with a pleasing and rational amusement. In return, we can only with that he may never experience that gloom which requires the cheering aid of external scenes, or that distress of mind which may lead him to with to escape from his own reflections.
Pieces of Ancient Popular Poetry: from authentic Manuscripts
and old printed Copies. Adorned with Cuis. 8υο. .
Boards. Egertons. 1791.. THE *HE realm of antiquity has many provinces; some fertile,
others desert. Among the former may be reckoned history, laws, manners, and poetry; among the latter the minute objects of the mere antiquary, old stones and old rubbish of all kinds. The force and capacity of the mind can hardly be more severely scrutinised than by an antiquarian disquisition or compilation : where a man of taste and genius will throw a golden light (if we may speak poetically in criticising poetry) over the ruins of ancient times, and will plant roses amid the mouldering ivy; from a poorer mind can only proceed a gloomy twilight; from a meaner cultivation, only weeds or noxious plants. To drop all metaphor, it is an object of regret to observe how few books of antiquities are of any value, how feldom taste and good sense occur in this department, how many trifles are elaborately collected and explained, how many
important subjects are left in entire neglect. An useless coin, or Itone, or riddle, or ballad, is fecure of multitudinous illuftra
ticus; while the grand pursuits of a true antiquary llumber in oblivion.
The editor of the present collection, in his remarks on Mr. Warton's History of English Poetry, displayed some uncommon reading, chiefly indeed in romances, and other dull and neglected books. Dr. Percy was the next object of his censure, in the Preface to fome Ancient Songs: but Warton and Percy are at last revenged. The petulance of a critic has by degrees evaporated in the infpidity of an editor. If we except William of Cloudesley, already published by Dr. Percy, and which our present editor has exerted all due pains to cloath again in uncouth dullness, there is not one piece in this callection which a man of talte or sense would not be ashamed to publish, or even to say that he had read; fo puerile, so childish are these old rhymes ! Nor has the editor, as might have been expected, fhewn any reading in order to illustrate his favourites, so that whatever
may be the truth of the report, that the late Mr. Baynes of Gray’s-Inn fupplied most of the materials for the remarks on Warton, and the preface to the Ancient Songs, no posterior proof has evinced its fallacy.
The following extract from the Preface, will sufficiently convince the reader of the editor's fine taste and strength of mind :
• It might naturally enough excite the furprise of the intelligent reader, that in a professed republication of popular poetry, nothing should occur upon a subject indisputably the most popular of all the history of our renowned English archer, Robin Hood, Some apology is undoubtedly necessary on this head, as the omis, fion is by no means owing to ignorance or neglect. In fact, the poems, ballads, and historical or miscellaneous matter, in exiftence, relative to this celebrated outlaw, are sufficient to furnish the contents of even a couple of volumes considerably bulkyer than the present; and fully defcrve to appear in a separate publication, 6 yumixed with baser matter,
• It would be no trifting gratification to the editor of this little volunie, and contribute in some degree, he is persuaded, to the amufement of cven the literary part of the public, if the present attempt tould be productive of others of a similar nature. Many of our old poems, which would even now be of acknowledged ex. cellence, are scarcely known by name, Such, for instance, are, “ The wife lapped in Moreis ikin, or The taming of a shrew,” “ The high way to the spittle house,” " " The schole house of women,” “ The unluckie firmentie," and some others; all, or most of which, abound with a harmony, spirit, keenness, and natural humour, little to be expected, perhaps, in compositions of so remute a period, and which would by no means appear to have lost their relish. These pieces, indeed, are not only of much greater length than, but of a very different structure from, those in the following collection, and evidently appear to have been written for the press. The popularity of the two firit is evinced by their being mentioned by Lancham (or Langham) in his Letter fignifying the Queenz entertainment at Killing woorth Caftel, 1575, along with several others, among which are lome of those here printed, as extant in the whimsical, but curious library of captain Cox, a mason of Coventry, who had “great oversight in matters of storie," and appears to have been a wonderful admirer and collector of old poetry, romances, and ballads.'
It is impossible to retain any degree of gravity, when we are told that the refuse of a stall is to be published, ‘unmixed with bafer matter. But the degrees of dullness may perhaps be infinite, the right bathos may have no bottom, a measurelefs profound ! If our editor proceeds, it is likely he may find such productions to be · The unlucky firmentie,' and • The high way to the spittle-house;' but we wilh that the effects upon his literary temper may correspond to · The taming of a shrew.'
The pieces contained in this volume are, 1. Adam Bel, Clym of the Clough, and Willyam of Cloudelle. Published in a superior manner by Dr. Percy.
2. A mery geste of the Frere and the Boye. Among infipid rhymes this boafts some merit; and is well calculated to excite the laughter of clowns.
3. The King and the Barker. The original of Edward IV. and the Tanner of Tamworth, publifhed by Dr, Percy, but the present piece is written, as our editor well remarks, by ' some provincial rustic,'
4. How a Merchande dyd his wyfe betray. 5. How the wise man taught his son.
6. The Life and Death of Tom Thumbe! A ballad for the nursery.
7. The Lovers' Quarrel, or Cupid's Triumph. A Grubstreet production of last century, concerning lord Phenix and Tom Potts.
At the end there is a Glossary, which, short as it is, displays fome errors; as, for instance, the word among is interpreted' at same time,' in a passage where it evidently bears its common meaning.
The wooden cuts, by Bewick, deserve great praise ; and we are glad to see this long neglected mode of the early masters revived, as it affords a pleasing variety.
While many of the clasics have been published in this country in a flovenly manner, it is with pain we observe that this