Imatges de pàgina

only contend that their judgment is not infallible; but I still think they are greatly better critics upon poetry than the generality of mankind. If we could suppose a poet with no exclusiveness of taste, (and there may be many such,) we might be pretty sure that his superior sensibility to poetic excellence, would make him a much better critic than other men; and even those poets who are wedded to some particular branch or style of art, are generally the best judges of the relative merit of productions in their own favourite department. It is a rare thing indeed to meet with a true critic upon either of the fine arts, but though such a judge is not often to be found, he is more frequently to be found amongst the artists themselves than elsewhere. It is on this account that a poet so fondly treasures up to his dying day a single word of praise from the lips of some great master in his profession. “I really believe,” exclaims Sir Egerton Brydges, “that three or four cherished lines in the hand of Wordsworth upon one of my sonnets, saved me from a total mental wreck; and the recovery was completed by the letters of Southey and Lockhart, which have been impressed so deeply on my heart, that, while it beats, they will never be effaced or faded.”


[The following poem was written as an illustration of an engraving by R. Dagley, Esq., in the second edition of a work entitled “Death's Doings.” Death is represented as in the act of placing a helmet on the head of a young war. rior, who is standing at the door of a tent, while a female is winding a scarf round his arm. A horse caparisoned, military emblems, &c. are seen in the background.]

THE warrior's soul is kindling now
With wildly blending fires;
He fondly breathes each raptured vow
That faithful love inspires;
But not those soothing words alone
Arrest the maiden’s ear,
For young ambition's loftier tone
Awakes the throb of fear !

They hear the war-notes on the gale,
Before the tent they stand;
His form is clad in glittering mail,
The sword is in his hand;
Her scarf around his arm is twined,
Love's silken chain and spell,—
Ah! would that mortal skill could bind
The links of life as well!


The battle-steed is waiting nigh,
Nor brooks his lord’s delay,
And eager troops are trampling by,
And wave their banners gay.
Nor boding dream, nor bitter care,
In that proud host is found,
While echoing through the startled air

The cheering trumpets sound !

The maid with mingled pride and grief,
Faint hopes and trembling fears,
Still gazes on the gallant chief
Through dim impassioned tears.
He sees but victory's laurel wreath,
And love's unfading flame,
Nor thinks how soon the form of Death
May cross the path of fame!

“A last farewell—a last embrace—
And now for Glory's plain s”
Those parting accents left a trace
Of frenzy on her brain;
And when the warrior's helm was brought
To crown his forehead fair,
Alas! the shuddering maiden thought
"Twas DEATH that placed it there !

SONNET. LADY—when life is desolate and drear, How sweet to weep, if charms like thine beguile Wild passion's strife and wake the soothing tear ! Benign consoler at thy pensive smile Calm piety and trusting faith prevail O'er sorrow's madness; Hope's rekindled beam The dull gloom cheers, and Peace, so wont to fail, Steals o'er the troubled spirit like a dream A cloud is on my heart, yet, fondly now I gaze on thee, nor breathe one murmuring sigh;There is a grace upon thy placid brow, A soul of beauty in thine azure eye, Blent with a holy meekness in thine air, That speak not of the earth, and shame the fiend, Despair

FAIR Ruler of the visionary hour !
Sweet idol of the passionate and wild !
Enchantress of the soul! Lo! Sorrow's child
Still haunts thy shrine, and invocates thy power
Alas! when Fortune and the false world lower,
Shall thy sad votary supplicate in vain
Wilt thou, too, scorn affliction's withered bower,
Nor lend thine ear to misery and pain?
Spirit unkind And yet thy charms controul
My fervent aspirations—worthless still,—
And fitful visions, all undreamt at will,
With ungrasped glory mock my cheated soul!
Like beauteous forms of hope, that glimmer nigh,

But from Despair's approach for ever fly!


WITH the exception of the plays of Shakespeare, there is very little popularly known of the poetry of the time of Elizabeth and James. Many persons who affect a love of reading are apt to talk familiarly enough of the names of Marlowe, Massinger, Ben Jonson, Beaumont and Fletcher, Shirley, Ford, Spenser, Warner, Drayton, and Daniel, while of the works of these authors they are perhaps as ignorant as of the literature in the moon. To those who are stirred with a true and deep affection for genuine poetry, the long buried and but lately resuscitated treasures of the past, are a source of the most exquisite enjoyment. It has been remarked, that if a man would know the magnitude of human genius, he should read the plays of Shakespeare; but if he would know the littleness of human learning, he should study his commentators. Much cannot be said of the taste and sensibility evinced by such men as Warburton, Steevens, Malone and others in their criticisms upon our great dramatic bard; but they have undoubtedly been of some service to literature, by indirectly recalling the public attention to his contemporaries, whose pages they have studied to assist them in explaining the numerous archaisms and obscure allusions of their author’s text. Cold and pedantic as they seem, they were amongst our earliest pioneers in clearing the way to the glorious past. If left to themselves, it must be confessed that little would have been gained by their industry and zeal; because their learning was without refinement, and their labours undirected by true taste. By reviving the claims of Shakespeare, and by referring so frequently to the

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