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It would be difficult to point out a fault in the following piece, while the harmony and contrast of images are inimitably beautiful.
“ Ah ! County Guy, the hour is nigh,
The sun has left the lea,
The breeze is on the sea.
Sits hush'd his partner nigh;
But where is County Guy?
“ The village maid steals through the shade,
Her shepherd's suit to hear;
Sings high-born cavalier.
Now reigns o'er earth and sky;
But where is County Guy?”
FABLES FOR THE HOLY ALLIANCE.
The humour of these lines is not the humour of a Scythian philosopher. It is all over Irish, and we doubt whether it would have been surpassed, had it been genuine Scythian.-Ed.
The wise men of Egypt were secret as dummies;
And e'en when they most condescended to teach, They pack'd up their meaning, as they did their mum
mies, In so many wrappers, 'twas out of one's reach. They were also, good people, much given to kings, Fond of monarchs and crocodiles, monkeys and mys
tery, Bats, hierophants, blue-bottle flies, and such things,
As will partly appear in this very short history. A Scythian philosopher, (nephew, they say,
To that other great traveller, young Anacharsis,) Stept into a temple at Memphis one day,
To have a short peep at their mystical farces.
He saw* a brisk blue-bottle fly on an altar,
Made much of, and worshipp’d, as something divine; While a large handsome bullock, led there in a halter,
Before it lay stabb’d at the foot of the shrine.
• According to Elian, it was in the island of Lencadia they practised tiis ceremony, -uair Bouy Tous uviais - De Animal. Lib. ii. cap. 8.
Surpris'd at such doings, he whisper'd his teacher
“ If ’tisn't impertinent, may I ask, why Should a bullock, that useful and powerful creature,
Be thus offer'd up to a blue-bottle fly?”
“ No wonder,” said t'other, “you stare at the sight,
But we, as a symbol of monarchy view it; That fly on the shrine is legitimate right,
And that bullock, the people, that's sacrificed to it.”
I have selected the following Poetic Epistle, from its breathing a feeling at once natural and chaste, a feeling which betrays neither the levity of the coquette, the formality of the prude, the coldness and stiltedness of her whose love is founded in interested motives, nor the unblushing lasciviousness of her who yields to a more unholy passion. Though the feeling, however, is just, the thought, in the second line of the second stanza, is neither true, nor founded in experience. To reflect upon “past delight,” is never sorrowful, unless attended with the reflection, that it was a delight purchased at the expense of virtue.-ED.
TO * * * * *
Whene'er we part from those we love,
And, faint with sorrow, languish,
The pressure of such anguish ?
For past delight is sorrow;
Long ere the promised morrow.
But joy, you tell me, still is left:
The moment of returning
And recompense its mourning.
Ah! ne'er did joy and grief with me
Keep such convenient measure ;
• THE SKELETON DANCE.
The Skeleton Dance is an obvious imitation of “ Alonzo the Brave, and the Fair Imogene," and inculcates the same moral. There is a romantic wildness and awfulness in the scene, that impart feelings of a kindred nature with those of which we are conscious in our youth, when ghosts and hobgoblins are made the subject of a winter evening's fire-side. “The anthem is chanting,” with which the poet properly commences, prepares us for those fearful emotions, which it was his intention to excite. There is an inimitable beauty in the application of “ gay” to grave-stones, for as no juncture of circumstances can make these memorials of the dead assume a gay aspect, and as the mind has already anticipated something of evil, this fearful gaiety serves only to increase our apprehensions. Gravestones looking gay, resemble the lights that precede a storm. We do not give this piece, however, as possessing any original merit, for both the story: the style, the imagery, and the sentiments, are borrowed. We give it, merely because the deep impression which it makes has a moral tendency, and is calculated to pro
duce that religious fear which, however unnecessarily exercised, where the mind is naturally pure and virtuous, frequently deters grosser spirits from the walks of impious revelry and profane delight.
It belongs, however, to some of the modern schools of poetry; to which school we cannot say, for we have not discrimination enough to distinguish between them, but that it belongs to some of them we are certain, from the license which the author takes in the structure of his verse, a privilege which all the modern schools arrogate to themselves, though it is contrary not only to all classical models, but to all principles deduced from the laws of melody and harmony, which is saying, in other words, that it is contrary to nature. What prose can be more prosaic than such lines as these :
As the last anthem peal was dying away,
The author seems, also, to think himself entitled to write bad grammar, because Shenstone did so, in similar phrases :-“The moon she shone bright.”-“The moon she shone mildly.”—ED.
The anthem is chanting, the priests kneel around,