Page images
PDF
EPUB

priestess Phemonoe in Lucan; *-but, like her too, we fear he will fail in passing off his spurious ecstasies, upon any one at all acquainted with the true symptoms of divine aflation.

Another peculiarity by which this noble author deceives n5 into a momentary feeling of interest about his writings, is that air of antiquity, which his study of our earlier writers enables him to throw not only over his verse but his prose. This charm, however, is of short duration. A mimickry of the diction of those mighty elders;-a resemblance, which keeps carefully wide of their beauties, and is laboriously faithful to their defects alone ;-the mere mouldering form of their phraseology, without any of that life-blood of fancy which played through it-is an imposture that soon wearies, and, if his Lordship does not take especial care, will, at last, disgust. He must not be surprised, if some unlucky critic should fall into the tasteless error of Martinus Scriblerus's maid, and, in scouring off the rust from the pretended antique shield, discover but a very indifferent modern sconce underneath it.

[ocr errors]

The first poem, of any length, that occurs, and, perhaps, one of the best that Lord Thurlow has written, is Hernilda in Palestine.' We are assured, indeed, by no less an authority than Dr Busby, that the Hermilda has given ruch pleasure to the lovers of fine poetry.' It would be scarcely fair, however, to animadvert upon this poem in its present imperfect state. We have little more than the opening of it; and the noble author has managed, in the course of a few hundred lines, to get half a dozen persons into scrapes and situations, from which twice as many thousand would not extricate them safely or creditably. At present, therefore, we shall refrain from touching this very tangled web. But, should Lord Thurlow at any time complete his design ;-should he ever succeed in bring ing back these stray heroes and heroines, and restoring them to their disconsolate friends and relations, we promise, in our critical capacity, to pay all due attention to his labours. At the same time, we submit, for his soberest consideration, whether a King of Ithaca, who thus traces his pedigree

Ye kings, and heroes, of whose race I am,
Deducing from high Jove my sacred bith,
And he indeed from ancient Saturn came,
That was the first great ruler of the Earth. '

Hermilda, p. 99.

Deum simulans, sub pectore ficta quieto
Verba refert, nullo confusæ murmure vocis
Instinctam sacro mentem testata furore.

Pharsal. Lib. 5. v. 148.

Preface to his Translation of Lucretius.

Or a King of Pergamus, addicted to the following pastimes; For in his tender years he wont to wring

[ocr errors]

The speckled serpents, and compel to die ;
And after in the forests he would tear

The bloody jaws of libbard and of bear.'

p. 49.

Or finally a fair Amazon, who taiks in this homespun style ;

[ocr errors]

This wretched man, I sleeping in the wood,
Thought well to rob me, maugre all his fear;
But found, at last, and to his bitter cost,

He reckoned up his bill without his host. p. 54,

We submit, we say, whether such personages as these deserve that either he or we should be doomed to take any further trouble about them.

We come next to Verses, in all humility dedicated to his Royal Highness the Prince Regent. These are excellent.

The rising Sun is, of course, the stock simile upon such occasions; and his Lordship thus manages his two great luminaries. As when the burning Majesty of day

The golden-hooted steeds doth speed away
To reach the summit of the Eastern hill;
(And sweet expectance all the world doth fill);

With all his gorgeous company of clouds
(Wherein sometimes his awful face he shrouds)
Of amber and of gold, he marcheth on,
And the pure angels sing before his throne;

So you, great Sir,' &c. &c. p. 112, 113.

6

Now, really, if Lord Thurlow were not one of the last persons to be suspected of any wilful deviation into wit and humour; --if we did not know how he scorus to descend from upper air into the low region of those will-o'th'-wisp meteors, whose brilliancy is too often derived from the very grossness of that earth they illuminate; -we should swear, that by all these tawdry similitudes, this amber' and gold,' and golden-hoofed steeds," --he meant something not over charitable to the illustrious person so typified. It requires, indeed, our utmost reliance upon the noble author's sublimity, not to suspect him of some little declension towards waggery, in the line, With all his gorgeous ⚫ company of clouds. This, surely, is too happy and appropriate to be the mere casual windfall of sublimity. Aristophanes had already prepared us for the allusion, by representing a company of Clouds' as the secret advisers of Socrates; and, in short-not to enter needlessly into particulars--we know nothing in descriptive poetry more strikingly graphical, than this motley mixture of gorgeousness and opacity, in which the Poet has enveloped his Majesty of day' and his company.'

The following is the concluding stanza of these delectable verses.
The tears, which we have shed, no more shall flow;
Your beauteous rising in our hearts shall glow;
And hymns of praise, as we behold your light,
Shall warble from the bosom of the night!'

p. 113. Though we do not by any means agree with Lucretius gigni posse ex non-sensibus sensus; yet we think a little sense might be elicited out of this last couplet, by the restitution of a single letter, which, we have no doubt, dropped out at the press: we would read, Shall warble from the bosom of the Knight, -meaning evidently Sir George Smart, who has the honour of presiding over the royal concerts.

[ocr errors]

The remainder of this volume, to the amount of near three hundred pages, consists of poems upon various subjects, under the general title Sylva.' There is The Induction to my poem, which I designed to write, entitlec England Triumphant; and The Legend of the Knight of Illyria '-another fragment of another great work-in which his Lordship thus introduces the dam and sire of a certain horse called Eupheme, Milk-white she was, as is a holy heifer,

p. 215.

And bore this son, as I have said, to Zephyr. Indeed, from the frequency and fondness with which this noble animal, the horse, is mentioned, we suspect that, like the famous philologer Henry Stephen, his Lordship writes most of his poems on horse-back; which makes it the more surprizing that he should ever condescend to woo the Musa pedestris,' or dismounted Muse, in numbers so very near the ground as the following.

Or these:

His warlike spear into his hand he took,
And paced forth into Eupheme's stall;
Then loosed him, whereas in little nook
That horse divine was tied to the wall.'

'But pity of that lady's sad mishap
Did most torment him thro' the restless night;
He thinks the slave will in a dungeon clap
Her tender limbs; perhaps will kill outright;
Or, since he now hath got her in his trap,
Will quite despoil, to feed his appetite.'

p. 221.

p. 227. There is nothing more delightful than to be admitted, as it were, into the work-shop of genius ;-to see the many unhewn masses of thought which are destined to grow beneath the chisel into forms of grace and magnificence ;-to observe, too, how

Pleraque sua carmina equitans composuit,' says his biographer,

much of this precious material has been wasted in wild experi ments and forgotten fragments;—and then turn with delight to the contemplation of one divine work, which, after nights of thought, and days of labour, has at length risen into bright, consummate beauty, and waits but the last superficial polish, to take its place in a niche of Immortality's temple. This is no common treat; and with something like this (how like we will not say) the sublime Lord Thurlow has good-naturedly gratified us. We have already seen how kindly he lays open his workshop to the curious;-how many mishapen trunks, and pagod-looking things, (some with hardly a foot to stand upon), he has generously submitted to the inspection of literary virtuosi:-But, not content with this exhibition of all he has done, or attempted to do, his Lordship, in some verses addressed to the very noble and accomplished Lord Holland,' gives the following clear account of all he hereafter means to do.

Perhaps, if time and grace be spar'd,
We may prepare a flight,
Wherein the heights of glory dar'd,
And the o'er-tabled night,
From out those adamantine gates,
And plains of penal woe,
We may, returning to our mates,
In blameless triumph go.

I think, my Lord, to build a verse,
Which, if our language hold,
Shall thro' the sides of darkness pierce,
And to all time unfold,

In language of thrice golden praise,

And ever dear delight,

What lives amid th' Olympic ways,

And in the shoreless night.'

p. 140, 141.

The public, we are convinced, will be all impatience to receive the very valuable information promised in this last couplet: and though his Lordship seems to fear that our language may break down under him, we trust that no such accident will happen, but that he may perform his journey in safety to those adamantine gates' he talks of, and tell us all about th' Olympic ways' and the shoreless night, on his return.

6

[ocr errors]

In the Appendix, or continuation of the Sylva, there is a poem of no less than four hundred lines' length, in praise of Althea, who, we at first supposed, must be some allegorical personage; conceiving that nothing but a headstrong allegory from the banks of the Nile,' could run away with a man, through four hundred lines together, without suffering him to draw one breath

of common sense by the way: but we believe, after all, this Althea is a downright mortal mistress-though, if she knows the meaning of his Lordship's eulogy, she is much deeper in his secrets than we can ever expect to be. Menage was laughed at for writing to ladies in Greck; but we think Lord Thurlow's EngJish has quite as little chance of being understood by them.-We defy any Greck-even Prize Greek—to be nach more puz zling than the following stanzas.

• Then are we to this fatal passion sworn,

As innocent as is the balmy air;

Nay, often on the pinions of the morn,
The angels to her golden rest repair.
What promise I myself? this perfect praise
Of spirits, and the large adoring world,
That must upon her fauitless beauty gaze,

But shows the height from which I may be hurl'd.

What virtue is in me? the way unknown,

With no diviner guide, like Hercules,' &c. &c.

Appendix, p. 10. A fact, however, has transpired in these verses, which renders them important in a political point of view. It now turns out, that neither Moscow, nor Spain, nor even the inspired fatuity of our own governmert, in blundering on to success through more than twenty years of waste and failure, are to be assigned any longer as the causes (under Providence) of Napoleon's downfall, and the deliverance of Europe; for we now find, on the authority of these verses, it was Lord Thurlow's friend Althea that did it all:

Ah me! whatever is more soft, and pure,

Than all the world of woman-kind can show;
Whatever can to blameless love allure,

And make us with heroick passion glow,

In her, as in its native seat is found,

As light has still most splendour in the sun:
The name of England is by her renown'd,

And by her charms Napoleon is undone.” p. 17.

We have heard indeed of another illustrious claimant to the sole and exclusive glory of these happy events;--but it is not for us to undertake so delicate an arbitrement:-Between that great person and Althea the matter rests at present.

We come now to the Moonlight' of the Noble author, having already had a foretaste of his lunar inspirations in a Sonnet Poenis, p. 196) beginning thus:

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

How oft, O Moon, in thy most tragick face,

The travell'd map of mournful history,

Some record of long-perish'd woe I trace,

Fetel'd from old Kings' moth-eaten memory.'

« PreviousContinue »