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occasion, was elegant, liberal and impressive.' Then again, our attention is directed to the character, talents, and the known liberality of the noble and learned Lord, (Lord Ellenborough) who go worthily, and ally presides, in the high and honourable Court of King's Bench ;' and for the purpose, it should seem, of supporting Lord Holland under the loss of so distinguished an auditor, our author states in a noté:'it is with infinite regret that, through excessive fatigue, I was deprived of the gratification of hearing bis Lordship’s masterly specch upon the motion for the second reading of the bill, and likewise the eloquent and liberal speeches of Lord Grey, Lord Stanhope, and other noble peers.' &c. &c.
Such is the lavish profusion of the author's praises. But he appears to have forgotten that what little value they might have possessed would be much diminished by their being indiscriminately applied ; and that if they had been more limited in their objects, ihey must have derived ibeir worth from the diguity and talents of him who bestowed their-of neither of which does the letter before us exhibit any specimen. On the contrary, it is a wretched publication, both in point of reasoning and taste; conveying no information worth notice, and presenting, we think, the most extraordinary combination of arrogance and servility, of high pretension and low desert, that has ever come under our review.
Art. VI. The Banks of the Wye, a Poem, in four Books. By Robert Bloom
field, Author of the Farmer's Boy. Foolscap 8vo, pp. 134. price 5s.
Vernor and Co. and Longman and Co. 1811. THE name of Robert Bloomfield is probably known to all
our readers, aņd many must be acquainted with his poetry. Eight years ago the Farmer's Boy was as much in fashion, as the Lady of the Lake is now. A century hence, we presume, they will both be equally known, though differently esteem. ed :- for we will not bring two works so intrinsically dissimilar into further comparison, nor by this conjecture, which can. not be confuted in our own time, would we pretend to place their opposite merits on a level. It has been the misfortune of the author of the Farmer's Boy, to be exalted above his deserts at the beginning of his career, and, according to the natural course of things in this perverse world, to be depreciated as much below them, in the sequel, by those, especially, who assume to be the keepers of the public conscience in matters of taste. His country muse resembled the country lass, whom he describes so charmingly in his Rural Tales :
• No meadow-flower rose fresher to the view, ei
: . WALTER AND JANE. Thus the public fell in love with the simple Suffolk Muse at first sight; and turning to look after her when she was passed by, praised her gait, her shape, her countenance and air as quite enchanting and unrivalled. But meeting her frequently in the walks of Parnassus, and deeming her less fascinating at every interview, that public, whose affections are more inconstant than the clouds that change colour in every light, and form in every breeze, soon discerned her homeliness of feature, rusticity of accent, and inelegance of manners. Hence, though familiarity has not bred contempt, her modest charms. have been long ago so much eclipsed by the dazzling pretensions of higher born and higher gifted rivals, that few comparatively now behold her with the partiality of Walter to Jane in his first love.
But though the poem of the Farmer's Boy was almost borne down with the panegyrics that ushered it into the world, the goud genius of the author weathered the gale ; and so far it was a fortunate circumstance for him to have been trumpeted into notice by Mr. Capel Lofft, since he had worth enough to survive the praises of his patron, praises so indiscreet and extravagant, that, unless he had possessed powers of rare excellence, (very different indeed in kind and degree from those absurdly ascribed to him,) he must have sunk under the ridicule of unmerited encomiums. A few words will serve to characterize those merits, which have rescued the name of the most humble poet, from the imprudence of the most ostentatious patron, of the age.
In description, the poetry of Robert Bloomfield is peculiarly pleasing ; because it presents images and pictures, both of living and inanimate nature, which every eye recognizes at first view, and which often occasion not only an emotion of delight at finding them in verse, but of surprise, that, although they were perfectly familiar to us, the originals themselves never touched us so exquisitely before as the poet's representation of them does now. Of this kind are the minute : and lively notice of the insects in the grass,-the flight of the skylark,--the nocturnal thunder-storm--the swine alarmed by . wild ducks,--and many others; in which the simplest 'circumstances strike the mind with all the effect of novelty. In sentiment, we find little beyond common-place moralizing
which, after all, is the most permanently affecting, when plainly and fervently enforced, as we frequently meet with it in the Farmer's Boy ;-not to mention that ordinary feelings and reflections are the best, nay, the only proper ones, which the scenes and situations are calculated to excite in such actors or sufferers as are introduced by this writer. It is also the great excellence and advantage of Robert Bloomfield, that he always paints from his own eye, and writes from his own heart. His personages are all real, not imaginary: they are of the same class in life with himself; and have, if we may so express it, the same sensorium of knowledge and observation. Of most poets the very reverse must be said, not in their disparagement, but as matter of fact. They sel. dom pourtray their friends and companions, express their own uosophisticated feelings, or exbibit the scenery of their particular neighbourhood, as endeared to their remembrance from infancy to youth. Kings and heroes, men with whom they never conversed, except in books,-foreign lands and foreign manners, which they never saw, are the favourite themes of those who, in their reveries, create an ideal world, and people it with beings, which they can only conceive to have existed in fancied regions, under fabled circumstances. Truch, .plain truth, nature, undisfigured nature, are the perpetual objects of desire, pursuit, and admiration in Robert Bloomfield's poems.
. I would not for a world of gold
• That Nature's lovely face should sire, is the honest exclamation of our 'rustic bard, in a beautiful little poem, intitled Love of the Country, and published in his volume of Wild Flowers : it might be the motto 'of all his works. We need only add, that his versification is, on the whole, tasy and agreeable, though less so in his lyrical stanzas than in the heroic couplets...
In his Rural Tales, the author has happily succeeded in an attempt to render the loves and joys, the sports and manners, of English peasants, interesting. Before him we do noc recollect any poet, who, by a serious, unaffected delineation of humble life, as it actually exists in our own country, had awakened a strong sympathy in persons more fortunately circumstanced towards the lowest class of the community. In Goldsmith's Deserted Village, much entertaininent is afforded, and compassion excited, by the inimitable skill of the poet in displaying the characters, pastimes, and injuries of the inhabitants of his favourite Auburn : but still the reader condescends to be pleased, or to pity ;-there is little of fellowfeeling in the case. Gay and others, who have pretended to VOL. VII.
celebrate rural swains and maidens, have always degraded
them by a mixture of the ludicrous with the true, to give ; spirit to their delineations; thereby rendering what might
have been natural and affecting, grotesque and amusing. Richard and Kate, Walter and Jane, and the Miller's Maid, therefore, are unique and original poems, which, by representing them as they really are, have rescued the English peasantry from uvmerited reproach, and raised them to an equality with their Scottish neighbours, whose character, in verse at least, is associated with all that is romantic in love, or delightful in song. . .
Of the volume before us we need not say much. The title - will apprize the reader that its beauties must be principally descriptive. In sentiment and character little will be expected. Of the latter, indeed, there is almost noihing; but of the former there are oceasionally pathetic and impressive passages, inspired by the views of mountain-scenery, new to the eye of a Suffolk bard, and by the presence of magnificent ruins, the wreck of ages. Yet the chief deficiency of this poem is, not so much that its merits are nearly confined to description, but that the description itself is so local and particular, that readers who are uracquainted with the places named and spoken of as if present or well-known, will be dissatisfied with the unreal pictures of them which they can form in their own minds : while those wha are familiar with the lovely and romantic borders of the Wye, may be still less pleased with slight and hasty sketches of woods, rocks, ruins, fields and villages and hills, which the poet is enabled to catch, by mist or moonlight, in sunshine or shadow, as be glides among them in his boat, and admires them from the bosom of the stream. With these inevitable imperfections and disadvantages, the poem is not less entertaining in formy, and sprightly in execution than migbt reasonably be required at the hands of the unassuming author, who has made it as good as the subject would let him. For what but diversified exhibitions of similar objects could be expected from the poetical log book of a fresh-water sailor, in a ten days voyage of pleasure, on a narrow river, whose banks presented a succession of evanescent landscapes, -opening and receding, mingling and losing themselves in each other! -The following is a fair average specimen of the versification and plan of the work. .
On upland farm, and airy beight,
Or mark'd the streak'd horizon's bound,
The air resign'd its hazy blue,
“Stop, friend, you'll meet the slimy tide." The salmon-fisher is thus admirably drawn out to the very eye of the reader, who forgets that he sees him only in verse,, .. and not in reality, in lines which have no other merit than that of revealing the object so clearly, that their own faults are . not perceived without scrutiny. ito. . ". Pure, temperate joys, and calm, were these ;'
. si We tost upon no Indian seas : " " . . .!
No savage chiefs, of various hue,
The intancy of navigationi'-- pp. 94-6. hoov A harvest-day, as it appears to a traveller, rapidly passing through the country is briefly, but happily, depicted. Though every one that has journied for a few miles, at such a time, must have seen the circumstance iioticed in the three las lines, who ever thought of it before? And yet it is the pecu