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those sudden flashes of inspiration which once or twice in the course of a man's whole life may enable him, if I may use a common expression, to surpass himself. If the poem had been a longer one, this hypothesis would be quite unfair, because casual felicities of this nature will not give life and animation to a sustained effort, nor even to a succession of shorter pieces. Sir Egerton has been writing sonnets nearly all his life, but the Muse, with this one exception, has always frowned upon his best endeavours.
Turning, however, from the verse of this writer to his prose, we are presented with numerous evidences of great natural talent and of very elegant and extensive acquirements. I repeat my opinion, that if he had concentrated his powers upon some worthy undertaking, he would have been far better known and more highly esteemed as a literary man than he now is, though he has been labouring in the fields of literature, capriciously and irregularly, for so long a period.
Sir Egerton Brydges is now in his seventy-fifth year, and it is pleasing to find a literary man at his time of life writing with such unabated vigour, animation, and enthusiasm. If he has the garrulity of age, he has not its feebleness. He has not yet reached, and I hope he never will reach, the last of the Seven Ages*.
* Since the first edition of this book Sir Egerton Brydges has paid the debt of nature.
ON THE DEATH OF A GENERAL OFFICER IN INDIA.
of vanished life
Is motionless and cold !
The muffled drum's dull moan,
Sad requiem of the brave,
Above that warrior's grave.
He lies on his dark bed,
With cold unconscious brow;
Around his pillow now.
Behold the crimson sky,
And mark yon setting sun;
Was he whose race is run !
A few short moments' flight
Hath wildly changed his doom ;
His home, the cheerless tomb !
The midnight blast shall howl
The dews his cold limbs steep-
Nor wake his dreamless sleep!
Yet vain the dirge of woe,
Where mortal relics rest,-
In regions of the blest !
HER last fond wishes breathed, a farewell smile
Is lingering on the calm unclouded brow
Of yon deluded victim. Firmly now
Hath wrought its will—fraternal hands bestow
The quick death-flame—the crackling embers glowAnd flakes of hideous smoke the skies defile !
The ruthless throng their ready aid supply, And pour the kindling oil. The stunning sound
Of dissonant drums--the priest's exulting cryThe failing martyr's pleading voice have drowned ; While fiercely-burning rafters fall around,
And shroud her frame from horror's straining eye!
The brighter hours of life are past,
The sun of hope is set :
Woke a tear of too fond regret;
The throb of wild despair ;
And the sigh that my pang would shareThough the breast is cold—the voice departed—They haunt the dreams of the lonely-hearted.
I share the stranger's bowl-
Is a star to the wanderer's soul ;
ON THE ART OF READING.
I was lately dipping into " A Catalogue of Five Hundred celebrated Living Authors of Great Britain*," published in 1788, and on coming to the article on Anna Seward, was struck with the singularity of one of the points of commendation. She is described as “a lady of considerable accomplishments, beautiful in her person, lively and entertaining in her conversation, and celebrated for her great excellence in the art of reading." The mention of Miss Seward's poetry follows as a secondary matter; and indeed if she had not read poetry better than she wrote it, she would scarcely have merited such particular praise. Not that her poetry was invariably bad. Some of her sonnets have both beauty of thought and harmony of metre, though I fear that the world will “willingly let them die.” In fact they are almost forgotten already. There are lines in them, however, that deserve to live. The following is an example. It finely represents the heat and stillness of a summer noon.
“ And sultry silence brooded o'er the hills.” The following Stanza on the dog in a wild state, is taken from her poem on the “ Future Existence of Brutes."
“When unattached, and yet to man unknown,
And stalks the terror of the desert groves."
“And tossing the green sea-weed o'er and o'er
I have a vague recollection that Lord Byron once noticed and laughed at this book, being much amused at the notion of there being at any time in one country 500 celebrated living writers.