Page images

Born in his wilds, the rude and humble swain,
Whose wishes centre in his small domain,
Who night and morning breasts the chilling airy
And tends his flock the object of his care ;
Views Nature's landscape with admiring eye,
And looks with wonder on the evening sky;
He loves the grandeur of the gliding flood,
The pensive silence of the deep-dark wood;
He loves to hear, while stretch'd on lowly bed,
The storm beat loudly on his little shed; . 180
Delighted views the golden sun of morn
And hears the hunter wind his early horn;
The voice of music meets his willing ear,
The tale of sorrow ever claims his tear.
These warm impressions speak uncultur'd Taste,
Which lives with rustics in the dreary waste;
Which spreads o'er Nature an enrapturing smile,
And smooths for man the rugged brow of 'Toil.

ing. It makes use of the imagination but without submit. ting to it, and keeps it always in subjection. It consults nature universally, follows it step by step, and is a faithful image of it.

Who loves to wander o'er romantic plains, 189 Will likewise love the bard's descriptive strains; Who loves to listen to the feathered throng, Enraptur'd hears the poet raise his song. *

* That mind possesses the seeds of taste, and frequently of immitative genius, which is powerfully impressed by the diversified appearances of nature: which is soothed, delighted, and aroused, by the valley, the lawn, the wil. derness, the mountain, the rivulet and the ocean; which listens with correspondent emotions to the whisper of the breeze, and to the howling of the midnight storm. The sense of beauty and of grandeur is peculiar to man. The herd in common with him sensually enjoy the seasons as they roil. They repose upon the bank and beneath the shade of the tree; they receive their nourishment from the pasture and the stream ; but man only perceives the images of beauty and sublimity in the skies and in the objects which surround him.

The pastoral, is generally the most delightful species of poetry to youthful genius. Smitten with the love of nature, her poetical enthusiast dwells unwearied on the pages of those who have depicted her charms; he roves with delight through the divine Georgics,....through Mil. ton's descriptive scenes,....through the seasons of Thomson and the task of Cowper: He adopts the language of the bard of the Castle of Indolence.

I care pot Fortune what you me deny:

You cannot rob me of free Nature's grace,

Judgment to all in every state is given; But Genius is the rarest boon of heaven. The world's small limits can but few contain, Who more than worlds, hold in their boundless


You cannot shut the windows of the sky,

Thro' which Aurora shews her brightening face;

You cannot bar my constant feet to trace
The woods and lawns by living stream at eve.

The “ Farmer's Boy” is a fine exhibition of untutored genius. It discovers the powerful influence which the scenes of nature have upon the feeling bosom. The des. criptions which it contains are accurate, but they are inferior to those of Burns in a glowing and exciting warmth. .... Cowper in the fourth book of his Task beautifully des. cribes the sensations of his early days, when he began to feel the inspiration of the Muse:

[ocr errors]

My very dreams were rural; rural too,
The first born efforts of my youthful muse,
Sportive and jingling her poetic bells:
Ere yet the ear was mistress of their powers
No Bard could please me but whose lyre was tun'd
To Nature's praises. Heroes and their feats
Fatigu'd me, never weary of the pipe
Of Tityrus, assembling as he sung,
The rustic throng beneath his favourite beech.

Only an age can give a giant birth,
Then more than earthquakes shake the solid earth.

Taste is confin'd to rules, it moves in chains, Genius those fetters and those rules disdains;* 200

Then Milton had indeed a poet's charms :
New to my taste his Paradise surpass'd
The struggling efforts of my boyish tongue
To speak its excellence.

• If we examine the greatest works of genius that have appeared in the world, we will find that they were all written without attention to the rules or directions of any cri. tic. Milton though he had Aristotle's writings full in his remembrance, nobly despised them. To impose laws upon Genius, is like hoppling an Arabian courser. After Aris. totle wrote his Rhetorick and Poetics, no second Homer, no second Sophocles appeared. The greatest works of Rome were written before the art of poetry existed..... “ Immitation (says Dr. Young) is inferiority confessed; emulation is superiority contested or denied ; imitation is servile, emulation generous; that fetters, this fires ; that may give a name, this a name immortal. This made Athens to succeeding ages the rule of Taste, and the standard of perfection. Her men of genius struck fire against each other; and kindled by conflict into glories which no time can extinguish. We thank Eschuylus for Sophocles and Parrhasius for Zeuxis; Emulation for both. That bids us fly the general fault of immitators; bids us not be struck

No bands can hold her when she upward springs,
No storm can stay the thunder of her wings,
O'er fields of blood she takes her wandering flight,
And calls from Death the shrieking ghosts of Night.
When Homer wrote no critic's laws confin'd,
The outstretch'd genius of his soaring mind ;
He look'd on Nature, Nature's voice obey'd,
And snatch'd that glory which can never fade ;
The subtle stagyrite then weav'd his rules,
And form'd a race of imitating fools. 210
Hark! from the heath I hear some footstep

Which beats the earth with hollow sounding tread;
Hark! from the tomb a voice of terror breaks,
The air breathes cold, the ground beneath me

shakes, A ghost appears, the moon withdraws her beams, And all the thickets sound with frightful screams; The critic's voice is now as hush'd as death, His eyes are fix'd, we scarcely hear his breath;

by the loud report of former fame, as with a knell which damps the spirits, but as with a trumpet which inspires ardour to rival the renowned."

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »