« AnteriorContinua »
before us, with considerable warmth of colouring, and truth of drawing, the groups which his fancy assembles, he possesses in an eminent degree--we doubt whether he does not exercise it even to a faulty excess, when the result is an involuntary idea in our minds, that the whole scene has been actually copied from some old painting, rather than grown up under the creative hand of the poet himself. This idea has several times intruded itself on our minds in reading the Nymphs,' the first poem in the collection; the following lines are however free from the objection, and entitled to praise—they form part of the account of the Dryads.
They screen the cuckoo when he sings, and teach
While her tired husband and her children sleep.'-p. x. Our next extract shall be of a different nature, and one perhaps which will be more generally interesting. It is an address to his son at the age of six years during a sickness; and must come home, we think, to the feelings of every father.
• Sleep breathes at last from out thee,
My little patient boy,
I sit me down and think
That I had less to praise.
Thy thanks to all that aid,
Of fancied faults afraid;
The little trembling band
I will not think of now,
Have wasted with dry brow;
But when thy fingers press
The tears are in their bed.
When life and hope were new,
Thy sister, father too:
My prayers shall hold thee round.
“ His voice—his face—is gone,"
Yet feel we must bear on,
Oh! I could not endure
That it will not be so.
This silence too the while-
Seem whispering us a smile
Something divine and dim
Who say-we've finished here.'-p. xlvii. We will not spoil the effect of these pleasing stanzas by any verbal criticism, but we may be allowed without offence to hint
to Mr. Hunt, that he might have found the unattractive creed' a very consoling one under the sorrows and apprehensions which gave rise to the poem; and therefore, for the sake of others who may be visited in the same way if not for his own, he should hesitate before he lifts up his voice to undermine its influence.
But what shall we say of the next poem, addressed 10 J. Hunt four years old?—surely this must have been a real effusion for the nursery, and have crept into the volume by accident.
"Ah, little ranting Johnny,
How can you-can you be so :'-p. lii. How master Dick can be so?' may be matter of wonder; but it seems to us far more strange, how master Dick's father could be so ill-advised as to publish nearly a hundred lines such as those last quoted, that have neither fancy nor prettiness to recommend them, not even homely verity and simplicity to excuse them--nothing, in short, but affectation and silliness to distinguish them: they are neither a poet's address to his child, nor a nurse's Jallaby—but just what might have been expected from a pert, forward boarding-school girl in her seventh or eighth year. Mr. Hunt however delights in such effusions; in the next page, on hearing a little musical box, he breaks out in this exquisite manner• Hallo-what? where :
-wbat can it be
That little tin-box playing so.' If Master Dick loquitur' had stood at the head of this poem, there would have been at least a dramatic propriety in it; and if, as we shrewdly suspect, the lines really were dictated by him, it
is a little unfatherly to deprive him of the honour of their
But our limits oblige us to have done; we therefore pass the remainder of the foliage,' that we may give our readers a specimen of the evergreens, as Mr. Hunt is pleased to denominate his translations from the poets of antiquity, imagining, we suppose, that copies however taken would retain the perpetual bloom of their originals. Mr. Hunt shall here be his own critic. • In the translations from Homer my object is to give the intelligent reader, who is no scholar, a stronger sense of the natural energy of the original, than has yet been furnished him.' This is the rule, now for the example; we refer our readers who are scholars to the 253d line of the last book of the Iliad; and those who are not, to the corresponding passage in that elegant mistake of Pope's in two volumes octavo, called Homer's Iliad.'
• Be quicker-do-and help me, evil children,
Down-looking set! Would ye had all been killed
The things upon it here, that we may go :'-p. 12. We hardly know whether to admire most the spirit or the fidelity of this rendering ; but however good this is, Mr. Hunt is more confident of the other pieces, and he thinks he may venture to say, that the reader who does not feel something pathetic in the Cyclops, something sunny and exuberant in the Rural Journey, and even some of the gentler Greek music in the elegy on the death of Bion, would not be very likely to feel the finer part of it in the originals. All, however, that he answers for is, that he has felt them himself, like the sunny atmosphere which they resemble. Now for the example again, and it shall be of the sunny and exuberant kind.
“Dear Lycidas, cried I, you talk indeed
Like one whom all agree, shepherd and reaper,
It is a feast we're going to. Some friends
Than frogs the grasshoppers.'--p. 25. Who does not feel a glow reflected on him from the ' sunny atmosphere of these lines? A few hundred of them carefully packed and hermetically sealed would be a valuable addition to the stores of the Dorothea and Isabella, if, in spite of our hopes and predictions, they should chance to be frozen up in the polar basin.
We have done, and we trust Mr. Hunt' will pardon us these public compliments for our own sakes, and for sincerity’s. He possesses talents, which might have made him a useful citizen, and a respectable writer; but he wants sound principle and Christian humility; and the want of them has made him as a citizen what we do not like to name, and as a writer only not contemptible because he is sometimes pernicious. Had he been thoroughly well principled, and properly humble, he might still have been anxious to improve the taste and manners of his countrymen as well as to correct the abuses of their government; but he would not have undertaken the task without a due sense of its difficulty, and a diffidence, at least, of his own ability to perform it. Instead of rushing with boy-like presumption to his task, he would have passed years in silent study and diligent observation; instead of panting with womanish impatience for immediate notoriety, and courting it in the poor publicity of a weekly paper, instead of demanding perpetually-renewed gratification for a diseased vanity, protruding every fresh fancy crude as it came from the brain, and sacrificing every thing for the worthless applause of the mob, he would, like Achilles, have abstained from the battle till he had possessed himself of the heavenly armour; in the mean time he would have derived ample enjoyment from his cause, and his conscience, and if he desired any other reward, it would have been the applause of the few now, and undisputed and immortal fame hereafter. How painful is it to turn our eyes upon the contrast before us! Mr. Hunt is indeed a most pitiable