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THE writer of the following pieces has from his youth amused himself at intervals by poetic composition. The result has been a large mass of unpublished materials, chiefly on religious subjects ; in preparing a volume of which for the press, he has acceded to the opinion of those, who are best able to judge what is most likely to be acceptable :-not a volume of professed gravity, but of cheerful attraction, wherein the sportive humour of Fiction might lead on to the sober consideration of Morality, or the serious reflections of Religion.
In pursuance of this idea, the following selection has been made, with no further discrimination than what was requisite to present a variety, and fill up the allotted pages.
With respect to the ubjects, the reader of poetry will perceive that the first division of Sounets
has been written to shew the false taste, exhibited in some productions under that title, filled with whining melancholy about trifles, and affected sensibility tortured by nothiug; together with others so overcharged with metaphor, or obscured with ornament, as to be unintelligible : such as the ingenious Author of the “ Letters from the Moun. tains” fitly compares to a
“ cake of gilt gingerbread."-The succeeding pieces require no explanation: they will be justly appreciated by the candid reader.
However the materials may be estimated, it will be seen that those concerned in the publication, have been anxious to give a sufficient quantity, and avoid the vacuity of a meagre modern page. With this intention, some of the smaller pieces have been added, supposing they might be more acceptable than mere white paper.
Most of them were written many years back, and are not the produce of studious application, but the sudden efforts of active fancy, or the results of incidental impression. They are new to the public, with the exception of five of the smaller poems, which may probably have been met with under different signatures, in publications of some time past.
It is possible that some sagacious reader may object to the burlesque poeni on the “ Pleasures of Forgetfulness ;" that its humout is low, &c. &c. On perusing such observations of those learned assayers of genius, we are reminded of the remark Mr. Bos. wel made to Dr. Johnson, and the Doctor's reply. Johnson in conversation quoted those lines of Pope, in which Macedonia's madman is introduced, and the conclusion is
“ Yet ne'er looks further forward than his nose.”
Boswel objected to the last phrase, as being low. Johnson replied “Sir, it was intended to be low; it is satire; the expression is debased, to debase the character.”
An instance of the justness of this kind of criticism appears in the late Dr. Gregory's “ Letters on Literature, Taste, and Composition.” Among many specimens of the vulgar, in phraseology, the Doctor selects several from the writings of the eloquent Edmund Burke; one of which is the following sentence from his Letters to a noble Lord_" They pursue even such as me into the obscurest retreats, and haul them before their revolutionary Tribunals." The word haul is pointed out as being mean; but it is in reality an happy allusion to the conduct of the Apostle Paul before his conversion, of whom it it said " As for Saul, he made havock of the Church, entering into every house, and haling men and women, committed them to prison.” Acts viii. 3. It is astonishing that the Doctor's usual accuracy should in this instance have forsaken him : but on such mistaken judgment is severity too often founded.