Page images

though her heart it said nay”, gives her, not only no licence to attend to her former lover, but that thinking on him would be a sin*.

Rowe's Pastoral of " Despairing beside a clear stream” (p. 11.) appears to you (Essay. p. xxvii.) 6 à very perfect example of that union of simple language with natural sentiment which best suits the kind of fiction adopted, and is capable of the most pathetic effects." The sentiments, if natural, that is, such as persons so situated often make use of, are yet, I think, some of them not just, that is, what they ought to be. If the word despairing in the first verse may be allowed in the sense before mentioned (see p. 50.) yet “ 'Twere better by far I had died”, in the second, is certainly un'unwarrantable renunciation of life. And the four last lines of verse five,

« Tho' thro’ the wide world we should range,

'Tis in vaiv from our fortune to fly; 'Twas ber's to be false, and to change,

'Tis mine to be constant and die."


teaches the doctrine of predestination or fata

* Having mentioned this Song so often without expressing my disseut from Dr. A.'s opinion of it, I think it right to state that I cannot altogether agree with him. The general moral of it is good ; but Jenny gives way too much to her grief in wishing she were dead, and the wreath (or spirit) and ghost are mentioned as if there really were such things common amongst us.

lism, and to which so many, even in these days, are inclined,

" when weak women go astray Their stars are more io fault than they.”

[ocr errors]

I once heard a female who had made an imprudent marriage attribute it, not to her own fault, but to the planets. In the last line of the Song the Shepherd says, “ His Ghost shall glide over the green”, which will still serve as food to the spirit of superstition.

In the Song “ As on a summer's day,” (p. 13.) verse 3, mention is made of Pan our god, as if there really were such a being; and fortune is introduced in the last verse too much in the place of Providence, who “ giveth and taketh away.”

Of the next Song, “ To the brook and the willow that heard him complain,” by Rowe, (p. 15.) you say “ This piece, written by the author on the occasion of the illness of the lady he afterwards married, has all the pathetic of real feeling, though under the garb of pastoral fiction.” I must confess it appears to me to contain much overstrained sentiment; and the fates are introduced, as having decreed the loss of his charmer, and, if

one fate to thy Colin and thee shall betide.”


The Song beginning “ Daphnis stood pensive in the shade”, (p. 17.) is not perhaps altogether a bad lesson to over-coy or coquettish maidens ; but the idea

Nature still speaks in woman's eges,

Our artful lips were made to feign. is certainly charging upon the Creator, the God of Truth, what is not just.

In the next Song (on Alexis, p. 19.) Heaven is called upon, to shield us all from Cupid's bow! If Alexis loved Clorinda, why did he not declare his love before, rather than silently nourish 6 endless woe”? and when Clorinda heard his passion, if he was an object worthy her love, why did she not return it ? and if there was any sufficient reason against it, why was not that kindly stated, rather than a promise claimed

“ ne'er again To breathe your vows or speak your pain," while “He bow'd, obey'd, and died.” This concluding line shews a want of fortitude in the lover. The love of woman, though justly ranking high, is ranked too high when a man, on disappointment, falls lifeless. The recourse to death for disappointed love ought not certainly to receive encouragement from Songs or other publications. If suicide

be held forth, the blame is flagrant; and if it be only sinking into death through the violence of the disappointment, yet this argues the want of a due habit of fortitụde, or else a very undue comparative estimate of the blessings of life.

The Song beginning “ The sun was sunk beneath the bill,” (p. 21.) I consider as a libel on the female sex, and one of those wbich do so much harm; some in exalting them above their rank in society, and some in degrading them below it: but of this I shall treat more at large, when I come to speak upon the Amatory, or Love Songs. The following is the second

verse :

Who seeks to pluck the fragrant rose

From the hard rock or oozy beach,
Who from each weed that barren grows

Expects the grape or downy peach,
With equal faith may hope to find
The truth of love in womankind.

In the 3d verse 66 A woman's venal heart” is mentioned as a general expression, and in the Ath verse are the following lines,

How wretched is the faithful youth !

Since women's hearts are bought and sold :
They ask so vows of sacred truth,

Wbepe'er they sigh, they sigh for gold.

That I may not be hypercritical, I will not

make any remarks to detract from the merit of the

very beautiful Song of Tweed Side. (p. 23.), The Pastoral Ballad by Shenstone, in four parts, (p. 24.) appears in general to deserve the praise you have bestowed upon it, (Essay p. xxyii.)“ though unequal in its composition, it has given much pleasure to all who were capable of entering into the delicacies of the soft passion in its purest form." But, in the last verse of the first part, (p. 26.) I find Corydon talking of the vows and devotion he owes to Phyllis, and, Part 2. v. 6., (p. 28.) so much I her accents adore. Part 3. v. 2. (p. 30.) he says

I could lay down my life for the swain,

Who will sing but a Song in her praise.

Part 4. v. 3. (p. 32.) he says of

“nymphs of a higher degree: It is not for me to explain

How fair and how fickle they be”.

v. 5. (p. 33.) Fate is introduced as having “ never bestow'd such delight”; and v. 6. on account of his Disappointment, he says,

I would hide with the beasts of the chase,

certainly not a sentiment for a rational being, much less for a CHRISTIAN.

« PreviousContinue »