Page images
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

'Love in a show'r safe shelter took

In a rosy bow'r beside a brook,

And wink'd and nodded with conscious pride

To his votaries, drench'd on the other side;

"Come hither, sweet maids, there's a bridge below,

The toll-keeper, Hymen, will let you through-
Come over the stream to me."

Then over they went in a huddle together,
Not caring much about wind or weather;
'The bow'r was sweet, and the show'r was gone,
Again broke forth th' enlivening sun;

Some wish'd to return, but the toll-keeper said,
"You're a wife now, lassy, I pass'd you a maid;
Get back as you can for me!" ›


Thus thinks the trav❜ler journeying still,
Where mountains rise sublime;
What but these scenes the heart can fill,
What charm like yonder giant hill ?
-A molehill clothed with thyme.

What can exceed the joy of pow'r?

-That joy which conquerors prove
In sceptred rule-where all must cow'r;
What can exceed that madʼning hour?
-Why, peace and home-and love!

We have the least possible inclination to speak with severity of so unpretending a trifle; but we fear Mr. Bloomfield will add little to his reputation by Hazelwood Hall.


Men and Things in 1823, in Three Epistles. By JAMES SHERGOLD BOONE, M. A.

This is in all respects a very singular publication, both as regards the performance and the author. It professes to have for its object no less than to give advice, on Men and Things, in 1823,' to Mr. Canning, which advice the author, as modestly as sensibly, supposes would, if followed, set all men and all things perfectly right. Coming from any man, so presumptuous, so arrogant an announcement must of necessity excite much surprise, and much more contempt, because this lavish giving of advice is always a proof of great conceit and of a plentiful lack of wit; but proceeding, as it does in this instance, from a person whose talents and whose station in the country do not authorize his intrusion, any more than his experience can qualify him for Mr. Canning's instructor, all the bitterness which we might feel under any other circumstances passes away, and we look upon it only as the puerile attempt of a youth whom college praise has made mad. The unfortunate author distinguished himself at that early age when distinction is a baneful poison to all future hope by a satire upon the University of Oxford. This production was very clever; and (at a place where wit does not abound, as it never did, and never can, at Oxford or any other school,) it was highly applauded. The author flattered himself that his fortune was made; and, having displayed so much skill in pointing out the abuses of Oxford, he thought he was gifted with a peculiar faculty of setting right all that was rotten in the state. He has since published in London multifarious works, in all of which it needs no uncommon powers of discernment to see that the author's aim has been to enlist himself on that side of the prevailing politics where most is to be gained. Taking just such a tone as should convey a high notion of his impartiality, he has been the painful and indefatigable praiser of the powers that be, while he would establish a reputation of being a merely indifferent and uninterested censor. This artifice is so shallow a one that it serves no other purpose than to display the motive which prompted, and will, as this young gentleman will find out, defeat itself. Pamphlets, and newspapers, and periodicals, by turns were adorned with the effusions of his pen. Emulating the admirable Crichton, of whose vanity and charlatanerie he has a portion, although he may have no other of the qualities of that enfant gate of genius, he wrote The Council of Ten; and, as Crichton played all the characters in his own comedy, so the author thought, and spoke, and wrote, for the whole of his decemviri. A wonderful unanimity prevailed in the opinions of this council, which, like the present poem, was de omnibus rebus et quibusdam aliis; and yet the public did not seem to appreciate it. The classical severity of the Umpire was too much for Sunday readers; and Life in London, or the Weekly Dispatch, although more ignorant than dirt, and filthier than St. Giles's, beat it out of the field. The last attempt has now been made in the poem before us; and, unlike the others, it avows its object rather more plainly than any one of the preceding ones. It is directly addressed to Mr. Canning, and can be regarded

in no other light than as a specimen of what the author could do if he were so fortunate as to be employed a sort of taste of his quality; and, if his Majesty's ministers are deaf to this, we really do not know how Mr. Boone will accomplish his purpose.

To leave, however, the policy of the author, and to turn to his poetry, we are compelled to say that it is of the most ordinary description. There is no novelty in the topics which he urges, and still less in his manner of treating them. From the war between France and Spain down to the conduct which Mr. Canning ought to pursue, every sentiment and every opinion which has been expressed has already been seen in public speeches or in newspaper essays. It is in this respect alone that we can see any thing like impartiality in the author. He borrows indiscriminately from Sir James Mackintosh to the Morning Post: he is never above turning into rhyme whatever they may have said applicable to his theme. In short, his poem is rather a summary of some of the last months' newspapers put into smooth verse than an original essay. The versification is easy; but, like the verse of all such persons as have been taught to rhyme, it is utterly destitute of poetic fire. The best expressions are those of modern poets; and if Moore, Campbell, Byron, and Scott, were to take away all that belongs to them, the author would have little left that he should care to call his own. The following extract is smooth and pretty, but who does not recognize old acquaintances in every line-nay, in every phrase?

The Gallic force

Provokes its fate, and rushes to remorse.

Fools! let them march; and still, as they advance,
Speed the proud tidings to vain-glorious France :-
While Spaniards keep aloof from fraud, not fear,
And forts uncaptur'd threaten in the rear;-
Vaunting with pompous tale, or storied arch,
The triumphs of their unobstructed march!
Fond men! their foes with joy behold them come,
And wait the ripening moment to strike home.
Not victors yet!-then, while in fair Madrid
They deem to raise their fame's proud pyramid,
For them, like beasts the hunter's toils within,
The strife, the rout, the peril shall begin :
Then, like thy terrors, Conscience, ever near,
Shall flash the light of the Guerilla spear;
Then, girt with dangers, shall they stand at bay,
And each sell life as dearly as he may.

Or when, returning, worn and faint they go,
From height, vale, wood, shall start th' expectant foe;
Lo! every mountain pass, and steep ravine,

Teems with stern warriors, sooner felt than seen!
Lo! they who 'scap'd the firm embattled field,
Now die unstruggling, or ignobly yield!

Stand-and the bayonet drinks their tide of life!
Fly-and they sink beneath the peasant's knife!
Sad choice! where each is death, and each disgrace—
While fear and famine stare them in the face;
And on the broken rear, o'er hill and plain,
Bursts the wild vengeance of insulted Spain.

France, I must weep for thee! should such dark fate
Thy sons, the brave, the gay, the gallant, wait.
What! must they fall,-nor think, through years to come,
That free-born men shall bless their martyrdom;
Nor view their father-land with failing eye,
Nor feel the patriot's triumph when they die?
No kindred friend the stiffening hand to clasp,

But foes wrong'd foes-to hail their life's last gasp:-
No dirge-save where the wind, with fitful moans,
Howls, as it bleaches their unburied bones!
Near, and more near, must shrieking ravens skim,
And wild wolves revel on the festering limb;
Nor beauty weep, nor fond remembrance pauze,
O'er them who died in that unholy cause?'

Now, if the author will say, upon his honour, that he wrote the following verses before he read Lord Byron's Age of Bronze, then we will believe, with Mr. Puff in the play, that two great men may hit upon the same thoughts. It is all very good sense, and not bad verse; but, for the originality of it, there is as little as in one of his own Sunday newspapers, which contains all the intelligence of a past week:

Thou Russian Czar, more fit, through life's brief day,
To woo the fair, and glitter with the gay;
Whom Nature with endowments rather stor'd
To grace the ball-room, than the council-board;
As yet not hated-since whate'er thy faults
At least the ladies like thee-thou canst waltz,-
Why must thou leave the joys thy lot commands
To trample on the rights of other lands?
Less form'd to lead an army than a dance,
Why must thou burn to try war's fearful chance?
Why must thou bid indignant Spaniards bow?
Ah! what are they to thee-to them art thou?
But if from pomps and pleasures thou canst spare
Some hours, when graver objects claim thy care;
Look, Autocrat, at home! look there, and see
The glorious work design'd by heav'n for thee!
Go: o'er an empire, like thy wishes, vast,

Spread comfort wide-the light of knowledge cast;
Bid the poor serf, depress'd by slavery's plan,
Rise from his bonds, and feel himself a man!

Go: civilize a realm-with arts adorn

Bless breathing millions-millions yet unborn!
Then, while thy generous toils-as well they may-
A people's love, a people's thanks repay;

Rear thine own pow'r on adamantine base,

And leave a name which time shall not efface!'

Our small poet can occasionally be bitter; and, in abusing Cobbett, he almost emulates Cobbett's ferocity, save that he wants not only such force as Cobbett, but even such force, low as it is, as that which distinguishes the illustrious personages mentioned in the sixth line :

[ocr errors]

Here Cobbett brandishes his potent pen,

The Delphic oracle of desperate men

The bashful Cobbett, who might bear the bell,

If writing shamelessly were writing well.

Next him-bright names together doom'd to go-
Hunt, Wooler, Waddington, Carlile, & Co.-
Pure precious souls, who fondest zeal betray,
And would do mischief-if they knew the way.
There ultra-Tories struggle 'gainst the tide,
And sin as grossly on the other side.

The people these neglect, abuse, scorn, hate:
Those fool with words, and catch with flatt'ry's bait.
While British commerce spreads her thousand sails,
And hope reviving agriculture hails,

Some croak of ruin, and half talk you dead,
To prove that England ne'er shall lift her head.
With some, kind optimists! all, all is right—
A pension sets things in the proper light.
Shall men, cry these, be driv'n to ruin's brink,
For thinking, or for saying what they think?

Knowledge, roar others, spread through field and town,
Drives the world mad, and turns it upside down.'

To our poor thinking nothing can be more impertinently fulsome than the following address to Mr. Canning: the bombastic stuff of the lines in italics is almost too much even for so sad a poem as this Men and Things:

'So far my verse has rang'd, with general view
O'er men-and principles or old or new.
Now, with intense, as concentrated, thought,
And all her wishes to a focus brought,
Canning! to thee, on whom the public eye
Is fix'd with keenest, strictest scrutiny :-
Europe's best hope in these portentous days;
The mighty mark on which her millions gaze-
Millions well pleased, that mainly in thy hands
Rests the wide welfare of her hundred lands
To thee the Muse presents her fearless strain,
Not to request-remonstrate-sue-complain-
But show thee to thyself, and bid thee see
What now thou art-what more thou yet mayst be.


Start not; but hear me! hear and bear the truth,
Though told with artless zeal in strain uncouth.
No flatt'ring strain, no homage insincere,
Shall fall with honied cadence on thine ear;
But if some idler moments thou canst spare
To aught so trivial as these verses are―
Moments unclaim'd by sterner toils of state,
And the dull task to lead the long debate-
Here look-the people's voice here echoed find,
And the faint image of their genʼral mind.
I speak to thee-not for thy single sake-
More than thy fame or fortune is at stake:
England with thee must triumph or repine,
And the world's welfare half depends on thine!
"There is a tide in the affairs of men"-

Thou know'st the rest-thou know'st it—and what then?
I tell thee:-at this hour 'tis thine to ride

Safely and proudly on that risen tide,

Led on to fortune;-but, if fears prevail,

See bolder rivals stretch th' adventurous sail,

« PreviousContinue »