« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
strengthen an attachment to the welfare of this kingdom, and, if properly regarded, to invigorate every Englishman's exertions for his own highest interest as to the present time and the future.
CORRESPONDENCE. In our review of the Manchester Transactions, (January, p. 47, we noticed an error concerning the circumstances of the arrival of a body at an apse, in a paper on the Inverse Method of Central Forces. We have since received a letter from a correspondent *, in which we are informed that, in the hurry of transcribing that paper, tlie writer omitted the words “ n greater than q,” after those of “ suppose y=p.”—The insertion of these words effectually obviates the objection which we adduced, in the case of an orbit described by a force varying as
(y distance); for, in the hypothesis of
the ingenious author of the memoir, the force varies as and n must be greater than q ;-our instance, then, does not apply. In the example given in the memoir, n is made = 2, and q=-1: but this was not sufficient to make us believe, that the assertion concerning the arrival of a body at a second apse was not general. There are so much neatness and skill to admire in the memoir, that we are happy to find our objection obviated.
The communication of Philcteute does not appear to be properly within the plan of our work : we have therefore sent it for insertion in one of the Magazines.
We have received a letter from M. Bizet, translator of the Vicar of Wakefield into French, relative to a French ballad copied into our xxivih vol. p. 114. from a miscellaneous work entitled The Duis, and which is there asserted to have been the original of Goldsmith's celebrated ballad “ Turn, geuile Hermit of the Dale."
The contrary opinion was maintained by a correspondent, in p. 239-240. of the same volume, and the good faith of Goldsmith was there asserted. M. Biset has taken the trouble of detecting a great number of faults, of all kinds, in the French ballad, which lead him decisively to the opinion that it is not an original composition, but a translation from the English verses of Goldsinith. We have not leisure sufficient to enter farther into the dispute, nor do we think that it would interest our readers; for we apprehend that the point has long been decided in their minds.
Mr. Josse's letter is received, and his work is under consideratioa.
* P. 323. line 11. put a full stop after deprehendo.'
* It came to hand a month or two ago, but was mislaid and for gotten.
For AUGUST, 1799.
Sael. - 1799.
Art. 1. Original Sonnets on various Subjects; and Odes paraphrased
from Horace. By Anna Seward. 4to. PP. 179. 6s. 6d. sened. The public are too well acquainted with the talents of this
ingenious and elegant writer, to require any formal introduction of the present miscellany. She has, on previous occasions, commanded our applause in the composition of English heroic verse*;-and she now attempts different strains, in which her success will be variously appreciated by her readers, according to their knowlege of the authors whom she imitates. The mere English reader will be gratified by the rich display of imagery, and the poignancy of feeling, which these poems exhibit ; while the fastidious critic will hesitate, in several instances, to decide whether the poetess has nearly approached her models.
Few English writers have succeeded in the sonnet. The rules of its versification, though less rigid than those dictated by the French and Italian critics, present great difficulties to the happiest geniuş for rhime. Hence, though the passion for İtalian poetry, which prevailed so strongly in this country during the sixteenth and part of the seventeenth century, rendered the sonnet a very fashionable species of composition; yet quly a small number of those verses can now be endured. Their popularity was, indeed, so long suspended, that some of our great poets have entirely neglected them: we do not res collect a singie example of them in the works of Dryden and Pope.
Miss Seward has prefaced her collection by some remarks on the structure of sonnets. She distinguishes the regular sonnet, very justly, from those irregular poems, consisting of a few quatrains and a final couplet, which have lately been
* See M. Rev. vol. lxx. p. 458.; lxiv. p. 371.; lxvii. p. 46.; lxxi, P. 335. VOL. XXIX
improperly referred to the former class. Elegiac verses of this kind are not, however, a recent invention; as witness the beautiful lines presented to Queen Elizabeth, by Sir Henry Lea:
" My golden locks time hath to silver turn'd,” &c. the second stanza of which runs thus:
“ My helmet now shall make an hive for bees,
My saint is sure of mine unspotted heart." There is a curious and accurate account of all the varieties of the English Sonnet, in Drayton's preface to his smaller poems, which may be consulted with advantage ; especially as he has proposed several new metres, which may yet become subjects of experiment. From this source, Miss Seward might have derived more useful information, than from the paper in a periodical work to which she refers. The rules in that essay are founded on the practice of Milton, who cannot be regarded as the best model for this kind of composition: for he was greatly excelled in it by Spenser, Drummond (of Hawthornden), and others of the older poets. Perhaps the best modern sonnets are those of EDWARDS, the spirited and accomplished antagonist of Warburton in the field of criticism. They possess a clear elegant strain of poetry, and a touching simplicity, which give a strong interest to every image and allusion.
We have perused the collection before us with considerable pleasure: we have been checked, indeed, by some obscurities, which are never admissible in small poems, and by several prosaic lines; and we have found reason for complaining that, in some of the pieces,
“ Pure description holds the place of sense" but to these remarks there are many agreeable exceptions, We shall copy one poem, which is both descriptive and pathetic :
• Written on rising Ground near Lichfield.
And all the sunny hills at distance glow,
Scem liquid gold.-0! had my fate denied
Thro’ waken’d minds, as the soft seasons go
My heart has feli, what balın had been supplied ?
And glassy lakes, and mazy, murmuring rills,
Th' impatient sighs of Grief, and reconciles
Poetic Minds to Life, with all her ills.' We were particularly pleased also with the following sonnet: • That song again !--its sounds my bosom thrill,
Breathe of past years, to all their joys allied ;
Dear Recollection's choicest sweets distill,
With lines of gilded light; and blue, and still,
Sing, yet once more, that well-remember'd strain,
Which oft made vocal every passing gale
The youth of chang'd Honora! now it wears
Her air-her smile-spells of the vanish'd years! Yet the descriptive part of this little piece will appear, to classical readers, too “long-drawn-out,” though certainly " with linked sweetness.”_. It has not been sufficiently observed, by our poets, that small poems ought to be entirely free not only from faults, but from fatness. The gems of the muse must be rejccted, if a single flaw be discernible. True taste is inexorable on this subject, and we are obliged, however unwillingly, to observe that the file has been too sparingly employed in these sonnets. In the very first, we remark an obscure, or at least inelegant expression. We are told that, if the soul throws open the golden gates of Genius,
• She atchieves His fairy clime delighted We shall not stop to examine the happiness of the introductory figure, but what is it to atchieve a climate?
In the 22d sonnet, we are surprised to find the word enthue siasm prolonged to five syllables.
Other remarks of the same kind had occurred to us: but we are far from wishing to find subjects for censure, in the productions of an author whose sex and genius equally entitle her to our respect. We prefer the gratification of our readers, and our own, by inserting the following elegant sport of imagination, relating to a supposed adventure of Milton : * • In sultry noon when youthful Milton lay,
Supinely stretch'd beneath the poplar shade, • * This romantic circumstance of our great Poet's juvenility was inserted, as a well-known fact, in one of the General Evening Posts in the Spring 1789, and it was there supposed to have formed the first unpulse of his Italian journey.'
Lur'd by his Form, a fair Italian Maid
Steals from her loitering chariot to survey
Then, as coy fears th' admiring gaze upbraid,
Slides in his half.clos'd hand ;--and speeds away. –
By Sleep's soft veil, ye agitate my heart,
Ah! what had been its conflict if reveald
Hopes, that impel the graceful Bard to rove,
Seeking thro' Tuscan Vales his visionary Love.' In the 92d sonnet, which turns on Homer's beautiful com. parison between the falling leaves in autumn and the decay of human generations, (now somewhat trite in its application,) we think that the close has novelty and merit:
Yet, like those weak, deserted leaves forlorn,
Shivering they cling to lifc, and fear to fall.' Much of this criticism may be reckoned minute: but the nature of the composition requires it. The sonnet, at best, may be deemed a trifle ; yet to trifle with elegance and skill is no common art.
We now proceed to consider the author's imitations of Ho. race; and, for this purpose, it is necessary to develope the particular turn which Miss Seward has given to them. I have taken,' she says, only the Poet's general idea, frequently expanding it, to elucidate the sense, and to bring the images more distinctly to the eye; induced by the hope of thus infusing into these paraphrases the spirit of original composition.' We cannot help wishing, with as much good-will to the author as Uncle Toby felt towards Dr. Slop when he wished that the Doctor had seen " what prodigious armies we had in Flanders," that Miss S. had seen Dr. Campbell's Chapter on Paraphrases *, before she sat down to make them.
Some German Latinists of the last century were fond of turning Horace in a similar manner. One of them employed himself on an ode imitated by Miss Seward ; and it may be amusing to the reader to compare the results of their labours. Of one line, the amplifying talents of the German have made six:
“ Nec excitatur classico miles truci," is the text; here follows the paraphrase :
Quid refert, alius thalamo sublimis eburno,
* In the Philosophy of Rhetoric.