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view than to lull his thoughts to sleep by amusing them, without any previous acquaintance with the sentiments which it is the very purpose of poetry to inspire,' his imagination unexercised on the forms of wonder and beauty which surround us, and his feelings indisposed to spontaneous exercise ; such a man whatever relief from the fatigue of idleness he may derive in following the conduct of a story, or examining the structure of a stanza, can never receive from poetry that pleasure which it was designed to communicate. It is a mistake to suppose that because a person has a clear apprehension of truths, and a knowledge both of facts and principles, and is, in fact, possessed of good sense, it therefore argues any reflexion upon his understanding to suppose him incapable of appreciating a certain style of composition, the elements of which he has never studied. Yet with what self-satisfaction does the critic pronounce on the works of men of exalted genius, often because their bold and brilliant conceptions can find no parallel, no responsive sentiment in his own mind!
We have already exceeded the assigned limits, or we might have called the attention of our readers to the moral purpose of poetry. Of this, however, we may have some future occasion to speak. That all emotions are of a moral nature is obvious; nor can it have escaped their notice that the imagination has a powerful influence upon character. To those, however, who may be disposed to question the use or benefit of poetry, we reply that, is rather into the use and benefit of the imagination that their enquiry should be made, of which poetry is only the necessary product. To repress the developement of the faculty would be as vain as fatuitous ; and nothing surely would be gained by its unfolding itself in action rather than in sentiment, by its exerting itself on the sphere of real life, instead of expatiating in an ideal creation. Poetry may be called a want of the heart. There are few persons, perhaps, , who have not at some period of their life been susceptible of its soothing influence. At those moments when the present palls on the mind amid the tumultuous agitations of hope, or the softer distractions of sorrow, how delightful to surrender ourselves to the visions of fancy, 'and to indulge in the wild expansive feelings of Romance. It is then that Poetry has power peculiarly to charm, not by representing before us fac similes
of our mean selves'—but by seeking to transport the mind to a sense of its possible greatness, and to implant the germs of that greatness during the temporary oblivion of the worthless thing we are, and of the peculiar state in which we happen to be; suspending our individual recollections, and lulling them to sleep amid the music of nobler thoughts.'*
* Coleridge's Friend.
It is, in short, its especial office to lift us out of the present, to reconquer our sensibilities from the deadening effect of custom, and to endue external forms with a power, independent of our own selfish interests, or passive habits, to stimulate us to exertion and enjoyment.
We have no room for the particular consideration of that style of poetry which the author of the Bridal of Triermain has adopted. His own apology will probably be deemed sufficient for his choice. The poem itself will scarcely admit of analysis. It will afford our readers a better opportunity of judging of its merits, to give a few extracts. The opening of the Poem which first appeared as a fragment in the Edinburgh Annual Register for 1809 is an avowed and palpable imitation of the master whom he has adopted as his model.' The resemblance, however, lessens as the poem proceeds, and it certainly may lay as good claim to originality as many less ostensible imitations. We select the following as a proof of the justice of our remarks.
" With toil the king his way pursu'd
A mighty keep and tower ;
As jealous of a foe;
And prong'd portcullis, twin'd to guard
The gloomy pass below.
Glanc'd neither bill nor bow.
Nor heard a living sound,
That washed the battled mound.
in summons blithe and bold. Deeming to rouse from iron sleep The guardian of this dismal keep,
Which well he guessed the hold
The tyrant of the wold.
And twice his hand withdrew.
He had charged them through and through;
Ere yet his horn he blew.
That loured along the walls,
The inmates of the halls.
Nor heathen knight was there;
A band of damsels fair!
That dances to the shore ;
And welcome.o'er and o'er. pp. 23–39. We must break off here. In a tale of fairy we expect little novelty, but the oft told story has seldom been sung to a harp of richer and sweeter tones, or handled with such delicacy and feeling. The moral delicacy of the poem, forms, indeed no slight recommendation ; we will only allude, as a happy instance of this, to p. 48. but have no room for further extracts.
The Vigil of De Vaux has much of that solemn and indefinite interest which the legendary tales of the middle ages areso well calculated to inspire. There appears to exist within us an instinct of the invisible world which presses on every side on the boundary of sense: from this source proceed some of the sublimest emotions of taste. It is not necessary, in order to our receiving pleasure from them, that we lend our minds even for a moment to a belief in the fables which superstitious credulity once received as truth. We know they were once believed, and, by the strong delusion of sympathy, they affect us, for the time, equally with the objects of our knowledge. We indeed unconsciously become ourselves the subjects of the fiction, and ideal actors in the creations of the Poet.—We have passed over the introductory poems which are interwoven with the Romance. They are too long and not in harinony with the tale: nor have they intrinsic merit sufficient to recompense for their intrusion. The appendage to the 2d Canto is particularly objectionable: it is altogether in bad taste, and not free in parts from the charge of flippancy.
Two fragments are reprinted,' at the end of the volume, from the Edinburgh Annual Register for 1809. That in imi tation of Crabbe is uncommonly successful, but we should be at a loss to find in that nervous but unequal writer, many passages to match with the following. We do not care whom our author may be pleased to imitate, if he will favour us with such imitations.
« Wild howled the wind the forest glades, along,
Around the spot, where erst he felt the wound,
Art. VIII. Essays on the Principles of Political Philosophy, designed
to illustrate and establish the civil and religious rights of Man, chiefly in reference to the present state of the British Empire.
Inscribed, by permission to $. Whitbread, Esq. M. P. By Thomas Finch, 8vo. pp. 530. Price 12s. bds. Baldwin, Sherwood and
portion of the faculty we have treated of in our first article, may recollect that, about two years ago, it fell to our lot to edify them with an account of a small volume of Essays by this writer, on the Intellectual and Moral Qualities of Man. In delivering our opinion of these metaphysical speculations, we had occasion, we believe, to tell Mr. Finch that he had taken up a burden much too heavy for liis shoulders. We gently hinted, that the intricate subjects he pretended to discuss, required a little observation and a little thinking; and that it was by no means satisfactory to substitute in place of these a series of gaudy sentences, which, whatever other excellencies they might have to boast, had little to answer for on the score of meaning. At the same time, as Mr. Finch was but a young offender, we ventured to express a hope that we should by and bye see better doings, if, instead of cherishing a passion for bad rhetoric, he would put himself into a judicious course of study, and diligently addict himself to approved models.
To this our disinterested advice we are sorry to find he has paid little or no attention. Indeed we rather apprehend this book is considerably worse than the last, inasmuch as it is considerably larger. As for models, we know of none so likely to find favour with our author among the ancients as that mag