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the usual number of pauses in a verse. This is observable in the line that describes the ascent of the mountain :
And last || this lofty mountain's || weary sidell.
Here we find the number of pauses, or musical bars, which, in an heroic verse, is commonly two, increased to three.
The liquid melody, and the numerous sweetness of expression, in the following descriptive lines, is almost inimitably beautiful :
“Sweet to the sight is Zabran's flowery plain,
Nevertheless, in this delightful landscape there is an obvious fault; there is no distinction between the plain of Zabran and the vale of Aly; they are both flowery, and consequently undiversified. This could not proceed from the poet's want of judgment, but from inattention: it had not occurred to him that he had employed the epithet flowery twice within so short a compass; oversight which those who are accustomed to poetical, or, indeed, to any other species of composition, know to be very possible.
Nothing can be more beautifully conceived, or more pathetically expressed, than the shepherd's
apprehensions for his fair countrywomen, exposed to the ravages of the invaders :
“In vain Circassia boasts her spicy groves,
There is certainly some very powerful charm in the liquid melody of sounds. The editor of these poems could never read or hear the following verse repeated, without a degree of pleasure otherwise entirely unaccountable :
“ Their eyes' blue languish, and their golden hair.”
Such are the Oriental Eclogues, which we leave with the same kind of anxious pleasure we feel upon a temporary parting with a beloved friend.
The genius of Collins was capable of every degree of excellence in lyric poetry, and perfectly qualified for that high province of the muse. Possessed of a native ear for all the varieties of harmony and modulation, susceptible of the finest feelings of tenderness and humanity, but, above all, carried away by that high enthusiasm which gives to imagination its strongest colouring, he was at once capable of soothing the ear with the melody of his numbers, of influencing the passions by the force of his pathos, and of gratifying the fancy by the luxury of description.
In consequence of these powers, but, more particularly, in consideration of the last, he chose such subjects for his lyric essays as were most favourable for the indulgence of description and allegory; where he could exercise his powers in moral and personal painting; where he could exert his invention in conferring new attributes on images or objects already known, and described by a determinate number of characteristics; where he might give an uncommon éclat to his figures, by placing them in happier attitudes, or in more advantageous lights, and introduce new forms from the moral and intellectual world into the society of impersonated beings.
Such, no doubt, were the privileges which the poet expected, and such were the advantages he derived from the descriptive and allegorical nature of his themes.
It seems to have been the whole industry of our author (and it is, at the same time, almost all the claim to moral excellence his writings can boast) to promote the influence of the social virtues, by painting them in the fairest and happiest lights.
“ Melior fieri tuendo"
would be no improper motto to his poems in general; but of his lyric poems it seems to be the whole moral tendency and effect. If, therefore, it should
pear to some readers, that he has been more industrious to cultivate description than sentiment, it may be observed, that his descriptions themselves are sentimental, and answer the whole end of that species of writing, by embellishing every feature of virtue, and by conveying, through the effects of the pencil, the finest moral lessons to the mind.
Horace speaks of the fidelity of the ear in preference to the uncertainty of the eye; but if the mind receives conviction, it is certainly of very little importance through what medium, or by which of the senses it is conveyed. The impressions left on the imagination may possibly be thought less durable than the deposits of the memory, but it may very well admit of a question, whether a conclusion of reason, or an impression of imagination, will soonest make its way to the heart. A moral precept, conveyed in words, is only an account of truth in its effects; a moral picture is truth exemplified ; and which is most likely to gain upon the affections, it may not be difficult to determine.
This, however, must be allowed, that those works approach the nearest to perfection which unite these powers and advantages; which at once influence the imagination, and engage the memory; the former by the force of animated and striking description, the latter by a brief, but harmonious conveyance of precept : thus, while the heart is influenced through the operation of the passions or the fancy, the effect, which might otherwise have been transient, is secured by the cooperating power of the memory, which treasures up in a short aphorism the moral of the
This is a good reason, and this, perhaps, is the only reason that can be given, why our dramatic