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but was so blind an idolater of his great master that, notwithstanding the judgment for which all ages have given him credit, he even copied sonie of bis most glaring faults. Every schoolboy can point out the bombast and feeblenesses of Lucan, Statius, and Silius Italicus, notwithstanding the fine and even sublime passages which are to be found in them all, especially in the first.

Of the modern Italian poets, Boiardo and Ariosto wore writers of romance in verse, and as such, however engaging, are hardly subject to the rules of criticism, Tasso's Gierusalemme Liberata is more regular, and has many beautiful and affecting passages, but seldom rises to sublimity. The same may be said of the Portuguesc Camoens, whose subject indeed is less generally interesting than the others'. Voltaire's Henriade is more approved by the judgment than the fancy. It is coldly correct, and though it cannot be denied to have beauties, few persons are tempted to search for them a second time.

In our own country the attempts in this difficult line of writing have not been fortunate, always excepted the noble poem of Milton, which shines, among

, all which have appeared since Homer, velut inter ignes Luna Minores. Yet it is far from being free from

, defects, both in the design and execution of it; and like Homer, aliquando domitat. Cowley failed both in his choice of a subject, and in his manner of treating it. * To have read Blackmore requires more patience


Subjects taken from Scripture have always failed in the execution; wirness the Davideis, Mrs. Rowe's Joseph, Duck's Shunammite, Cumber. iane's Calvary, and inany others. The venerable and interesting sim:


and perseverance than I am master of. Spenser's justly celebrated Fairy Queen, with infinite detached beauties, is merely an allegorical romance, and can hardly be considered as a whole. Leonidas, and the - Epigoniad, proximus sed longo proximus intervallo, are now but little known and seldom read: a sure proof of want of interest and merit. * So that a perfeet epic poem is still, and probably always will be, a desideratum in that fascinating art.

Now the work which gave rise to these desultory observations, though it does not arrogate to itself that Jofty name, has perhaps as good a claim to it as many that have had more presumption. As the author however has not thought proper so to call it, I have no right to name it for him, but shall proceed to point out some of its most striking beauties and defects.

Nothing can be more engaging than the introduce tion and close of every book; and no reader, I believe, would wish these to be either shortened or altered. Both the thoughts and the versification are equally fine; and the art of the old bard in his applications of the narrative to his hearers is very pleasing and well imagined. The hero of the story itself appears to be Sir William of Deloraien, though he acts only a subor

plicity of the narrative must be lost. Any thing taken from it leaves the story imperfect; any thing added to it disgusts, and almost shocks us as impious. As Omar said of the Alexandrian Library, we may say of such writings, if they contain only what is in the Scriptures, they are superfluous; if what is not in them, they are false.

• The epic poems of Southey, Pye, Hole, and others, are purposely omitted, as they are fresh in the minds of the public, which has properly ap' preciated their merit. Oh that poets would recollect that not to excel is to fuil! This does not apply to Joan of Arc, or to Macioc.

dinate part in the conduct of it; and this perhaps may be deemed a fault, * but some amends for it are made by the exquisite delineation of bis character, and the admirable manner in which it is supported throughout. He is precisely the Ferrau of Italian and French romance, excepting in the brutality of that giant; for the Scotch marauder could mourn over a fallen enemy; and though he

“ Harried the lands of Richard Masgrave,

And slew his brother by dint of glaive," he lamented the death of an honourable foe, and would have given his lands to have redeemed his life. The whole of his character is pourtrayed with a masterly hand, and the contrast between him and Cranstoun, the exact counterpart of the gallant and courtly Knight of Charlemagne, or the Round Table, is drawn with great skill. When they engage, the one thinks of his mistress, and ejaculates a prayer; the other has no mistress, and knows no prayer;t but,

“He stoop'd his head and be couch'd his lance," as the only preparations necessary for the combat.

The most interesting and highly-wrought passage of the whole poem is Deloraine's journey to Melross Abbey and the visit to Michael Scott's tonıb there, The whole description of the abbey, of the wizard

• It is however such a fault as is imputed to Milton, who is the opinion of many able critics ha's erred in making Satan his hero, instead of Adam. + His ignorance, who could not read, and knew no prayer

" Save to patter an Aye Mary," reminds me of one of the Montmorenci's (I think Anre the Constable) who used to make his mark only; "attendu,” says Brantomé; “ quil ne scavoit ai lire ai ecrire."


himself, (who seems to exist in a state somewhat similar to that of the Vampyres in Hungary,) and of Deloraine's aged conductor, is superior to any thing of the kind that has appeared in modern poems, and perhaps would not lose by a comparison with many of those which are most esteemed among the ancients. It forms several separate pictures adorned with the most vivid and brilliant colouring; and they are so put to. gether as to form a well-blended whole, in which all the parts unite, and without any one of which it would be incomplete.

Thus, for instance, their progress through the cloisters, where


The pillar'd arches were over his head,

And under his feet were the bones of the dead,"* however common the fact may be to every ancient church, shews the author to have possessed a truly poetic genius; of which one great part is the being enabled to seize upon striking and affecting images, drawn from common occurrences or objects that may be seen every day, and yet are passed unnoticed by vulgar minds.

The beauties of this poem are to be seen in almost every page, while its faults, (for it is not wholly exempt from defects,) are thinly scattered over the surface, rart nantes in gurgite vasto, neither glaring nor offensive. It is the part of just criticism however, though its least pleasing office, to notice them as well as its excellencies. The most important of them relates to the machinery; and here a violation of the well-known rule of Horace, Nec Deus intersit, &c. is but too apparent. The


dialogte overheard by the Grammered Countess bei tween the two river sprites, concerning Margaret's marriage, is needless, because the information might have been conveyed both to her and the reader by more obvious means's and it is unpoetical, because it is a violent tise of supernatural assistance (not to be resorted to without necessity,) and even such as, I believe, forms no part of the local superstition of the Low: lands.

In the tragedy of Douglas, Home, in his fine description of the storm, introduces a similar supernatural being to heighten the horrors of it.

“ And loud and shrill The angry spirit of the water shriek d." But I doubt whether there be any authority for supposing that the river spirits meddle in the domestic concerns of the mansions on their banks, or meet to gossip about the intermarriages of the families which inhabit them. And the same learning that enabled the Countess to inierpret their conversation, would have assisted her also to gain the requisite information without their help.

But the machinery of the greatest length, as well as consequence, is that of the magic book. This is so well described; its consequences are so striking and wonderful; thc purport of it is concealed beneath a veil so thick, and its mystic contents are so darkly al-, Inded to, and still left in that state of unexplained horror which so powerfully affects the mind, that few readers of taste will be inclined to object to the introduction of it. Yet it has been observed that it is not of use towards the conduct of the story, adequate to the eager


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