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“Art thou a thing of mortal birth,
“Oh! that my spirit's eye could see
“Oh! vision fairl that I could be
“Fair was that face as break of dawn, When o'er its beauty sleep was drawn Like a thin veil that half-conceal’d The light of soul, and half-reveal’d. While thy hush'd heart with visions wrought, Each trembling eye-lash mov’d with thought, JAnd things we dream, but ne'er can speak, Like clouds came floating o'er thy cheek, Such summer-clouds as travel light, When the soul's heaven lies calm and bright; Till thou awok'st, then to thine eye Thy whole heart leapt in extacy 1 And lovely is that heart of thine, Or sure these eyes could never shine VoI.s VIII. 3 C
We have now quoted enough, we believe, to give our readers a pretty just idea of the character of Mr. Wilson's poetry. We shall add but one little specimen of his blank verse; which seems to us to be formed, like that of all his school, on the model of Akenside's; and to combine, with a good deal of his diffuseness, no ordinary share of its richness and beauty. There are some fine solemn lines on the Spring, from which we take the following, almost at random.
The great Sun,
There is a very sweet and touching monody on the death of Grahame, the much-lamented and most amiable author of the “Sabbath' and other poems; from which we shall indulge ourselves by making one more extract. The moral character of Mr. Wilson's poetry is, throughout, very much the same with that of the friend he here commemorates; and, in this particular piece, he has fallen very much into his manner also. -
“Some chosen books by pious men compos'd,
We now lay aside this volume with regret: for though it has many faults, it has a redeeming spirit, both of fancy and of kindness, about it, which will not let them be numbered. It has, moreover, the charm of appearing to be written less from ambition of praise, than from the direct and genuine impulse of the feelings which it expresses; and though we cannot undertake to defend it from the scorn of the learned, or the ridicule of the witty, we are very much mistaken if it does not afford a great deal of pleasure to many persons almost as well worth pleasing.
“JMulli negabimus, nulli differemus justitiam.” “One Night.” which was begun “One Day,” and is now brought to a Conclusion without being Finished; yetcontaining some Thingsworth beginning, which, like Eternity, will have no End. Amongst others, the singular Opinions of the Author himself; and last, not least, a practical Illustration of the Art of Procrastination. 1 vol. 12mo. 1812.
IT will be difficult to characterize this work by any description or analysis which should convey to the reader any thing like an adequate notion of its contents. From the first half-dozen pages we might be tempted to suppose it was written in answer to, or from the suggestion of, the popular work of Thinks I to myself, and there is, indeed, in pages 40, 41, and 42, some ironical allusion to several parts of that production; beyond that, however, the author of One Night stands free from all obligation to his precursor. The only peculiarity of the work before us, which, can be easily exemplified in this account, is, that the author in the commencement professes his intention of informing the reader by what accident it was that he entered the family of Sir Peter Pix, and he begins his account with the words One Night, but contrives, through the whole of the volume, to start off into some digression as often as he mentions those words, so that the work at last closes without the reader's knowing what it was that really happened on that One Night, the relation of which is repeatedly begun but never finished. Ab uno disce omnes—and we will, therefore, extract as a specimen the way in which he begins this procrastinated story:—
“One sight, just as the clock struck twelve, and the watchman had gone to sleep after counting the hour, and the street-brawler was hastening home to bed, and the street-nymph was retiring from her nocturnal orgies, and the rogue was commencing his, and his victims were snoring in their first sleep ; just at this dead hour, this awful moment of time which the writers of the horrid and the terrible choose for the appearance of their ghosts, their bloody daggers, their clanking chains, and their yawning dungeons of impenetrable gloom; at this hour, which tolls the knell of a departed day, and announces the coming in of a new one; which, once a week, brings freedom to the trembling debtor whom awe of duns, and bailiffs—than duns more terrible—confines to his solitary chamber; this important hour which spreads peace and rest to half the world—this solemn—
“If there be a situation in the world which is truly pitiable on the one hand, and truly ludicrous on the other, I have often thought to myself, it is that where a man works himself and his reader into a high state of expectation by climax after climax, and when he is just at the top of the ladder finds himself unable to go any further—makes a dead stop—and either stays where he is, or falls back again, by some “lame and impotent conclusion,” into greater dulness than he'rose from. It is like a singer, who, ascending to a high pitch of voice, gives a sort of promise, which every body accepts, of a still higher reach, but suddenly drops a whole octave lower, and we all know what a disappointment that is. One thing is certain, to be sure; every person may avoid such a bathos, by weighing well the quality and extent of his powers, and, like an able tactician abstaining from every attempt beyond them. This is our first duty: but when we happen to neglect this, there still remains another, which is what I now mean to discharge : viz. when we find ourselves engaged in an undertaking beyond our powers to complete, prudently to retire from the contest, and rather leave it unfinished than finish it with inadequacy. Farewell then to my ascending climax upon the midnight hour of twelve : and welcome the more humble strain of narrative that follows.
“Reason is an admirable faculty and in nothing more admirable than in the power which it gives us of vindicating our own conduct. I never knew a man in my life, however foolish, or absurd, or guilty his actions may have been, who was fairly unable to say something in his own defence. Plausible, or not plausible, just, or not just, we can always twist an argument into a sort of shield to cover our defects; and the only difference between the clown and the wit on these occasions is, that the one manufactures a shield of straw while the other produces one of tinsel, shining in our eyes so as to dazzle, but without superior strength to resist the attacks of wisdom.
“One night—(I dare say the reader, if he has any curiosity, rejoices to meet with these words of promise once again)—when all our family were quietly retired to rest, and the sound of my father's hammer no longer echoed through the house, nor the shrill accents of my mother's voice accompanied the heavy and quick returning thump of the said hammer, nor my obstreperous gambols joined in the general hubbub, nor—pish —how difficult it is for a man of genius to descend. I protest I have just fallen into the same ambition of sublimity as before, and that too without the slightest consciousness of what I was doing— a true sign of natural impulse—but I will desist, only begging the reader to observe the superiority of my sad genius, and to note with what dexterity I have varied the concomitants and signs of midnight on this second occasion. Well then, to avoid prolixity, which is a fault I mortally abhor in writing, and in speaking too, especially in public speaking—(I wish some of our parliamentory orators hated it as much, for you must know, reader, that I am a reporter, and therefore interested in the length of their speeches, especially towards three o'clock in the morning, after being in the gallery of the House of Commons from 12 the preceding day)—I shall proceed to relate, with unvarnished simplicity, what I have been so long attempting to begin. I am resolved not to be led astray again, by any ignis fatuus of discursive and collateral disquisition.
“One night—hlessed words says the impatient reader—but whither