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the sense of got possession,' or ' made himself master of? We could mention other instances of the same kind, if it were not a disagreeable task both to ourselves and our readers, to present them with a longer catalogue of minute defects.
But these are comparatively trifling faults. The author has, we can hardly doubt, already perceived them himself: and they are such as he may acknowledge without pain, and correct without difficulty. We only blame him for that impatience to publish which, except in works of a mere temporary interest, is not easily to be excused.
But we have also to notice an error more closely interwoven with the whole texture of the work, more deliberate and more systematic, and more likely, we fear, io cast a shade upon the poetical reputation of the author. In the Voyage of Columbus,' Mr. Rogers has aimed at a stile very different from that of his earlier compositions, and in which, with every disposition to acknowledge his merits, we cannot but confess that he has been unsuccessful. It was as the faithful, diligent disciple of Pope and Goldsmith, that Mr. Rogers became deservedly a favourite of the public, and it is to the imitation of these splendid and captivating, but safe and correct models of excellence, that he seems most fitted by the bent of his genius, and the direction of his studies. Endowed with an ear naturally correct and attuned by practice to the measure of his favourite masters, nice to the very verge of fastidiousness, accurate almost to minuteness, habitually' attentive to the finer turns of expression, and the more delicate shades of thought, Mr. Rogers was always harmonious, always graceful, and often pathetic. But his beauties are all beauties of execution and detail, arising from the charm of skilful versification, the curiosa felicitas' of expression culled with infinite care and selection, and applied with no vulgar judgment, and with the refined tenderness of a polished and feeling mind. But to the flow, the unity, the boldness, the grandeur that belong to the higher style of poetical composition, he is altogether a stranger-removed at like distance from its commanding excellencies, and its ininute defects, and receding farthest from his favourite masters on that side where they approach nearest to those mighty geniuses who alone are entitled to be called their superiors. In passing this opinion upon the earlier writings of Mr. Rogers, we do him no intentional injustice, and we are sure it is perfectly consistent with feelings of considerable respect for his poetical character.
True it is, that the style he first adopted, and that in which we think he is most fitted to excel, is not that in which success even more complete than his own indicates the highest powers of understanding. But it requires diligence and taste, and judgment
and feeling, such as fall to the lot of but few even in a polished age, and of which we wish we could feel quite certain that the literature of this country would always afford a living example. In short, we had looked to Mr. Rogers as one of those who were to continue and support that correct and elaborate school of poetry which, from the days of Pope to the beginning of this century, engrossed so much the largest share of the public approbation, and shich, we own, we regard with peculiar favour, not only on account of its own intrinsic beauties, but because the cultivation of it appears to afford the best security against that entire depravation of the national taste in poetry, which would probably be the consequence of an universal attempt to reach the higher and more perilous kinds of excellence. Unluckily Mr. Rogers has taken a different view of this subject. Stimulated by the astonishi success of some late writers, he has tried to equal their fame, not by perfecting himself in that style of composition which belongs to him, but by partially adopting that of his rivals—or rather by interweaving it with his own, and bringing together things that are in their nature incompatible. Desirous, as was natural and fair, to reach the eminence upon which they stand, he has erroneously supposed that it was necessary to pursue the same path, and climb the hill upon the same side. Columbus indeed is written in the same measure as the Pleasures of Memory; but it is evident that the author bas had in view several writers, some of whom, when he was employed upon that elegant and popular poein, were not known to the public, and others who had not then entered into his thoughts as objects of imitation. Harmony, elegance, correctness, pathos, are all within his reach, and a sufficient foundation for a considerable poetical fame—but he has resolved to content himself with nothing short of varied cadence, striking traits, awful magnificence, and the lofty flights of a creative fancy. Tired of pleasing, he is ambitious to astonish and transport his readers. The consequences of failure are harshness and abruptness, instead of variety in the versification-obscurity for grandeur, and in some instances, mere baldness, where he intended to exhibit the native force of simple and unadorned expression.
We have mentioned these faults with the less scruple, because it appears to us that they are owing not to any waut of skill or talent in the author, but to the misdirection of those powers which we have formerly seen, and hope again to see more happily employed. And after all it is probable, that this work, which the author has suffered to glide into public without any of the usual forms of introduction, is designed by him merely as an experiment, (on which he was not willing to throw away too much 03
time and labour,) in order to ascertain what his success was likely to be in a new style of composition.
There is an affectation of historical precision in the notes, which consist chiefly of little quotations from old English, Latin, and Spanish authors. We own that in a poem we set but little value on this species of accuracy. Unluckily too, Mr. Rogers has himself been guilty of a notable deviation from it. In the list of presents which Columbus makes the cacique who received him upon his landing, we find a telescope, and there are afterwards some beautiful lines in which Cora is described watching her lover through it, who is in his boat out at sea. Now most of our readers, though they have not read the cotemporary chronicles, know that the telescope was not invented in the days of Columbus. We should not have noticed this minute error, if the author had not fallen into it in the midst of his pursuit of that minute excellence which is directly opposed to it.
Still, however, and with all its defects both of subject and of execution, the poem is by no means undeserving attention. Mr. Rogers has not been able to depart from his former manner, that which use had made natural to him-so much as he perhaps intended. He is often himself, in spite of himself. Habit, good taste, and an exquisite ear, are constantly bringing him back to the right path, even when he had set out with a resolution to wander from it. Hence, though the poem will not bear to be looked at as a whole, and though there runs through it an affectation of beauties which it is not in the author's power to produce, yet it contains passages of such merit as would amply repay the trouble of reading a much larger and more faulty work. It will be the more pleasing part of our task to select a few of them, with an assurance to our readers that they are not the only ones, and with a strong recommendation to read the whole--a recommendation with which they will very easily comply, as the poem does not exceed seven or eight hundred lines.
In the first Canto, there is a very pretty couplet about the campass
' That oracle to man in mercy given,
Whose voice is truth, whose wisdom is from heaven.' Soon after comes a description of the monsoon, which is very striking, though we do not see what practical advantage is gained by ascribing it to the agency of an angel-or what necessity there is to quote · Revelations, cap. 19. ver. 17.' as an authority for the expression mighty wind.'
" He spoke, and at his call, a mighty wind,
But deep majestic in its destined course,
Move on the waters!'Primeval is a word that has become a great favourite among our modern poets, and we often find it used on occasions where we Fery little expected to meet with it, and when we feel considerable eficulty in ascertaining the sense it was intended to convey. When Mr. Rogers says the wind blew with primeval sway,' we presume for we are not quite sure) he means that it blew just as it did when the world was created. But he must pardon us for saying that die is an obscure, affected way of expressing the thought, and sales a blemish in what is otherwise a very brilliant passage.
Of the second Canto, Mr. Rogers, speaking in his own person of the Hermit's narration, says, “ This canto appears to have suffered more than the rest. We wander as it were—ubi rebus nox abstulit atra colorem.' This is very true, in one sense, for it is broken aud obscure; but it is only trifling with the reader to offer him such a confession by way of apology. The only reason for putting the story into the mouth of a cotemporary adventurer—is to give it additional life and spirit, and to diffuse over it that venerable hue of antiquity which is so grateful to poetical eyes : but as an excuse for defects, this expedient is absolutely ludicrous. If the canto is broken, why was not a little more MS. discovered ?If it is unintelligible, why did not the author translate bis Hermit into clearer language?
In the fourth Canto, 'The Voyage continued,' are some admirable lines on the intrepidity of Columbus in exploring an unknown ocean,
• Yet who but he undaunted could explore
A world of waves, a sea without a shore,
No sign of man, no vestige of his power.' The speech of Columbus to the mutincers is also a very successful effort.
• Geerous and brave! wheu God himself is here,
Why shake at shadows in your mid career?
And can you shrink! to you, to you consign'd
At courts a suitor, and of slaves the slave,' &c. In the seventh Canto they first behold the new world--the greatest natural event that ever happened, and it may safely be affirmed, that ever can happen in the history of mankind; and it is, perhaps, rendered the more striking, because it is brought, as it were, into so small a focus, reducible to a precise point of time, and attended by circumstances on which the imagination so readily seizes. Compare it, for instance, with those events that approach nearest to it in importance--those great battles by which the fate of empires has been decided. It is impossible to fix the precise moment of victory and defeat, or to represent them to the mind otherwise than by a series of successive images. Besides, many of the ideas unavoidably connected with a batile are such as no one can dwell upon without disgust and pain-blood, carnage, the desolation of the earth, and the misery of its inhabitants. But till the dawn of the day when Columbus beheld the land, the new world was as unknown as it was in the days of Homer--that moment was the moment of discovery. The transition is instant, and the two hemispheres are joined, never again to be separated. The whole thing presents itself to us at once in the most distinct form, and in the liveliest colours. A calın day in a tropical climate, a tranquil sea, and the distant prospect of a green shore growing gradually upon the eye, and already scenting the air with its unknown fowers. This is the scenery, if we may so express ourselves, of that mighty event which is for ever to live in the recollection, and to influence the fate of mankind. This is the sensible forin in which it is embodied. We are introduced to every thing that is most grand and astonishing through the medium of everything that is most beautiful. This is the great feature of Mr. Rogers's poem; of course he does his best, and we will afford to our readers an opportunity of judging how far he has been successful.
We ought first to observe, that in the close of the seventh Canto the symptoms are described by which, on the preceding evening, they were led to suspect that the object of their voyage was near at hand.
• The sails were furld, with many a melting close,
Solemn and slow the evening anthem rose :