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pathized, even unto tears, in those heart-breathed melancholy effusions, poured out with such moving ingenuousness, during the "Sylvan Wanderer's” forest walks amid the dank heaps of matted leaves and he has mourned over the fast crumbling decay of an ancient and noble house. But private feeling, however painful may be the struggle, (and in this case it is most painful,) must give way to impartial criticism.
Sir Egerton was originally intended for a man of genius-but many melancholy circumstances, which every lover of the Muse bewails with drooping head and heart, have crooked the promising branch, and turned the nourishing sap to a corroding poison, eating the heart of the tree. This it is that has caused that craving for unwholesome food
velty to another: and where these ranging appetites reign there is ever more passion than reason; no stay, and so no happiness."
* Sir E. B. has wisely (whatever the worldly and ignorant may say) unloaded his full heart on paper—
“The grief that does not speak
Whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break."
which his editorial labours so frequently display. A darkness comes over his spirit, and the blue sky appears black even to his corporeal eye. His patrician feelings unconsciously cling to him in all things. The multitude are following the chase through a beautiful country after a more glittering leader: he cannot mingle unnoticed in the herd, and therefore plunges moodily among thorny brakes and black rocks-he throws himself beneath "knotty, knarry, barren trees," blasted by the "thwarting thunder blue;" and gropes around him for rank weeds which" the dire looking planet smites."-His lips wreathe into a grievous smile when he lights on a sow-thistle, he tastes it, and fancies its bitter juice richer far than the oozings of the wine-vats.-No misgiving obtrudes itself on him that his palate is out of order! no! he carries home his bundle of dry plants and withered leaves, and sends it to his man cook, Mr. Warwick*, who dresses the worthless trash with rich sauce. It is served to table in a superb dish, and re
The Lee Priory printer.
commended as an exquisite dainty to the wondering guests. In fact (dropping the silly metaphor) the reprints of those authors superintended by Sir E. Brydges have been, on the whole, such as to fully justify the imposing dogma of Dr. Johnson, “that they were sought after because they were scarce, and would not have become scarce had they been much esteemed *.”—But there were other neglected writers in that era besides Nicholas Breton, Robert Greene, and
In justice to Sir Egerton Brydges, it should be observed, that we are indebted to his zeal, and that of his unwearied coadjutor Mr. Haslewood, for much curious and interesting information relating to our early writers; of which Dr. Drake has known how to avail himself, without the labour of wading through the mass of rubbish, under which it has sometimes lain hid. The reviver of Wither's "Shepherd's Hunting," and "Fair Virtue," (so ably panegyrized by Mr. Lamb) and of the learned Stanley's "Poems," and "Translations from Moschus, Anacreon, &c.” deserves the poetical student's warmest thanks ; and I have much pleasure in acknowledging that I owe my more intimate acquaintance with the following beautiful poem to Sir Egerton's almost entire reprint of it in several numbers of the "Restituta.”
Thomas Watson, who surely merited Sir Egerton's best offices with the public on their behalf.Why did he not follow up his beautiful edition of Drayton's "Nymphidia," with some elegant selections from the lyrical parts of Jonson and Fletcher, or from the polished sonnets of Drummond of Hawthornden, recommended by one of his wonted tasteful mild introductions; wherein, as in the preface to Raleigh's Poems, he might have shown us "that the poetry of that day was not an old fashioned uncouth monster, mounted on a lumbering Pegasus, dragon-winged, and leaden-hoofed; but that it as often wore a sylphlike form, with Attic vest, with faëry feet, and the butterfly's gilded wings?"—This would have unfolded more talent and love of the divine art than printing in splendid quarto, with charming vignettes, such a trifle (pretty, but still a trifle) as Mr. Quillinan's juvenile poem of Dunluce Castle. But unhappily for the cause, of which he was a zealous, though injudicious champion, his likings took an oblique directionorient pearls lay neglected, while worthless beads
were gathered up, strung, and clasped with gold: and imitating Hamlet's sentiment, ("The less they deserve, the more merit is in your bountyuse them after your own honour and dignity") Watson, Braithwaite, Constable, and Breton, were tricked out in splendid attire, befitting Jonson, or Chapman, or Marlowe, or Sidney, which so far from concealing their native meanness, set it forth in tenfold insignificance.
The rage for blindly reprinting works, merely because they were rare, is quenched; but it has had its use in creating a general spirit of investigation of the fine old writers of England, and Italy, which is gaining ground daily and the effect of such search is visible in every department of literature *. "The Retrospective Re
view,” as far as it has appeared, is a considerable improvement on former publications of a similar nature; but in its poetic department, it pro
* Yet even at this time there are men of indurated, unpoetical minds, to whom the simple, majestic, weighty style of our noble translation of the Bible is "uncouth, vulgar," and who clamour for an entire new version!!